If anything is meant by encouragement in Christ, by loving sympathy, by common fellowship in the spirit, by feelings of tenderness and pity, fill up my cup of happiness by thinking with the same mind, cherishing the same bond of charity, soul knit to soul in a common unity of thought. You must never act in a spirit of factiousness, or of ambition; each of you must have the humility to think others better men than himself, and study the welfare of others, not his own. Yours is to be the same mind which Christ Jesus showed. His nature is, from the first, divine, and yet he did not see, in the rank of Godhead, a prize to be coveted; he dispossessed himself, and took the nature of a slave, fashioned in the likeness of men, and presenting himself to us in human form; and then he lowered his own dignity, accepted an obedience which brought him to death, death on a cross. That is why God has raised him to such a height, given him that name which is greater than any other name; so that everything in heaven and on earth and under the earth must bend the knee before the name of Jesus, and every tongue must confess Jesus Christ as the Lord, dwelling in the glory of God the Father.
Beloved, you have always shown yourselves obedient; and now that I am at a distance, not less but much more than when I am present, you must work to earn your salvation, in anxious fear. Both the will to do it and the accomplishment of that will are something which God accomplishes in you, to carry out his loving purpose. Do all that lies in you, never complaining, never hesitating, to show yourselves innocent and single-minded, God's children, bringing no reproach on his name. You live in an age that is twisted out of its true pattern, and among such people you shine out, beacons to the world, upholding the message of life. Thus, when the day of Christ comes, I shall be able to boast of a life not spent in vain, of labours not vainly undergone. Meanwhile, though your faith should prove to be a sacrifice which cannot be duly made without my blood for its drink-offering, I congratulate myself and all of you over that; on your side, you too must congratulate yourselves and me.
It is my hope in the Lord Jesus that I shall be sending Timothy to visit you before long; then I shall be able to refresh myself with news of you; I have no one else here who shares my thoughts as he does, no one who will concern himself so unaffectedly with your affairs; one and all have their own interest at heart, not Christ's; his worth is well tried, you must know that he has shared my task of preaching the gospel like a son helping his father. Him, then, I hope to send without delay, when I have had time to see how I stand; and I am persuaded in the Lord that I myself shall be coming to you before long. Meanwhile, here is Epaphroditus, my brother, my companion in so many labours and battles, your own delegate, who has provided for my needs. I felt that I must send him to you, so great was his longing to see you, and his distress that you should have heard about his illness. Ill he certainly was, and in near danger of death; but God had pity on him, and not only on him but on me too; he would not let me have anxiety added to anxiety. So I am hastening to send him back to you; it will be a happiness for you to see him again, and I shall be anxious no longer. Welcome him, then, in the Lord gladly, and do honour to such a man as he is; one who came close to death's door on Christ's errand, risking life itself to do me that kindness, which was all your kindness left to be desired.