There is a story about a first-year physics teacher who asked this question in an exam: “What are the advantages of having two eyes?” Of course, the correct answer is that with two eyes you can see things in three dimensions. We can learn to judge distances, speeds, etc. One boy, however, wrote as his answer: “Having two eyes means that you can see twice as far, and if one eye stops working, you’ve always got the other one to fall back on!” The teacher got a good laugh out of his answer and used it as an example of making up in creativity for what you lack in information. But the true answer is two eyes allow us to see things as they really are—with one eye, we don’t get everything in proper perspective.
If Paul had merely written a bunch of theology and abstract thought, we would miss out on what he was like as a human. But these paragraphs on Timothy and now Epaphroditus allow us to see Paul in the flesh—a man who loved his friends, who grieved over loss, and who held on to hope through it all.
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