Regular Christians (Part 8): Trophimus

Regular Christians

Trophimus was one who endured physical sickness. He was mentioned briefly in the personal matters Paul addressed at the end of his second letter to Timothy.

Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus” (2 Timothy 4:20).

This remark about Trophimus was almost made in passing, yet the Holy Spirit considered it worthy of inclusion in the New Testament record. Trophimus was one of Paul’s traveling companions (Acts 20:4). In fact, he was the one seen with Paul in Jerusalem that led the apostle’s opponents to falsely charge him with defiling the temple by bringing Greeks into it (Acts 21:28-29). What a great privilege to spend so much time in company with the apostle Paul! Sadly, this time that Trophimus had with Paul was cut short. He became sick while they were traveling and Paul had to leave him behind in Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20).

King Hezekiah was another example of one in Scripture who faced sickness. In his case, the sickness was to the point of death. The king “became mortally ill” and was told by Isaiah, “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live” (2 Kings 20:1). Notice how Hezekiah responded: “Then he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, ‘Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart and have done what is good in Your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly” (2 Kings 20:2-3). His immediate response in this time of despair was to make an appeal to God.

When we face physical sickness, we need to remember the importance of prayer. James wrote, “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray” (James 5:13). Prayer is how we “let [our] requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). In addition to this, there are also certain things we need to remember:

  • Life is fragile and temporary – James wrote, “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Our time on earth is relatively short and death could come at any moment. Even if the particular illness we are presently enduring will not ultimately take our lives, it does serve as a reminder that we are not immortal. The wise man wrote, “All go to the same place. All came from dust and all return to the dust” (Ecclesiastes 3:20).
  • Look forward to the reward – Paul wrote, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). Rather than being disappointed over what we miss due to health problems we may have to endure, let us keep our minds focused on the reward.
  • Remain faithful to the end – When Paul was facing death, he wrote to Timothy and said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Even though Paul was facing death due to persecution rather than disease, the point is the same. No matter what hardships we have to endure, we must be faithful until death.

Remembering these things does not take away the disappointment, frustration, and physical pain that is associated with the many diseases and afflictions that may attack our bodies. This will still be something to endure. But if we will set our minds to focus on the points above, we will be better able to look past our temporary afflictions and see the promises of God. Paul reminded the brethren in Corinth, “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). In context, the “house” to which he referred was one’s physical body. This body is temporary, yet we have hope of living in heaven for eternity.

Trophimus fell sick while traveling with Paul, yet was left behind rather than being miraculously healed by the apostle. We might wonder why a miracle was not performed to heal Trophimus and allow him to continue on the journey. However, that was not the purpose of miracles. Miracles were given to confirm the word (Mark 16:17-20; Hebrews 2:3-4), not heal any or every Christian who became sick. Because of this, Trophimus had to endure this sickness. We will have to do the same in our lives. Instead of dwelling upon our disappointment over our condition, let us remain faithful to God and look forward to our eternal reward.

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  1. […] 4:8). While spiritual things are of primary importance, there is still a value in exercise. When Trophimus fell sick while traveling with Paul, he was “left sick at Miletus” (2 Timothy 4:20). This would allow him […]