At first sight, this rather personal and practical section seems unconnected to the great themes that Paul has been exploring so far in the letter. But have a closer look: do you see any ways in which this section picks up any of the concerns that Paul has mentioned earlier in chapter 2?
Verse 22 reflects the fact that, in New Testament times, sons would often be trained by their fathers in the family trade. In what ways have you benefited from a more experienced Christian taking you under his or her wing?
In v27 Paul says that Epaphroditus had been ill, but that ‘God had mercy on him…and on me.’ Can you think of any situations you have faced when you have later been able to say, ‘God had mercy’?
What kinds of people are honoured in our society, and how are they honoured? What if we honoured the kinds of people Paul has in mind in v29? And how might we honour such people?
We learn from this passage (and from this letter as a whole) quite a lot about Paul’s deeply affectionate nature. In what ways can we encourage one another to value and express this kind of affection for fellow-Christians?[/su_spoiler]