What do a jailer of a Roman prison and his family, a girl set free from demonic possession, and a woman who sold purple goods have in common?
– They all lived in a major Roman regional city, on a major east-west Roman road (Egnatian Way) that went from the eastern provinces back towards Rome. Plus they were all likely part of the the first church in Philippi, Greece.
Key words and verses:
V1 – Paul and Timothy considered themselves Bondservants, Saints were the believers in Philippi, Bishops were the elders or overseers of the church, and Deacons served the church in special service roles.
V2 – Grace (God’s grace) and peace (Irene, shalom) – This is a true blessing!
V3 – I thank God for you! (As I remember you – NASB)
V4 – Joy – this is the 1st of 5x that Paul uses this word in the letter. It is a major theme of the letter! He is saying, ‘when I pray for you, I pray with delight!’
V5 – Fellowship (the word used in the NASB is participation) – the word referred to here was for a joint partnership in a business venture – from the 1st day until now. In other words, we are and have been in this together since God birthed the church there. Plus Paul was saying, ‘it’s not just me doing ministry. It’s all of us doing it together as a team!’
V6 – Being confident – Paul was confident that God would accomplish what He wanted to in and through the Philippians. He will continue to do the daily good work in us until the day that Jesus retrieves us. Plus the Philippians were dedicated and generous financial givers as well as faithful to get out the good news of Jesus. The work they were accomplishing was like a relay race – handoffs to others but to continue until Jesus returns.
V7 – I have you in my heart – (Here the heart was a reference to a person’s innermost part where they think and reflect (the emphasis being on their inner reflection). Paul also had a strong fatherly affection for the Philippians and carried that concern wherever he went. Plus, Paul could have been in prison in Rome, Ephesus, or Caesarea, but most likely Rome.
Defense – Paul spoke up boldly while he was a prisoner for Jesus. He also could have referred to the judicial proceedings that he pursued about being treated unjustly as a Roman citizen.
Confirmation – another commercial word – ‘a guarantee.’ The confirmation here was that as Paul ministered to people, God did miraculous signs.
V8 – Affection of Jesus Christ – literally ‘the internal organs’ – a 1st century reader understood that this meant that Paul deeply loved these believers.
Verses 7, 8 in The Message: ‘It’s not at all fanciful for me to think this way about you. My prayers and hopes have deep roots in reality. You have, after all, stuck with me all the way from the time I was thrown in jail, put on trial, and came out of it in one piece. All along you have experienced with me the most generous help from God. He knows how much I love and miss you these days. Sometimes I think I feel as strongly about you as Christ does!”
V9 – Love (in it’s highest form may abound – NASB) – This kind of love was based on God’s unconditional commitment and acceptance. It was not based on the whim of the moment or someone’s emotional state.
Knowledge – As you develop a relationship with the Lord, you get to ‘know’ Him better and better. Not knowing about Him, but knowing Him.
Discernment – As your relationship with the Lord grows, He will give you keen insight into the circumstances that you regularly face.
Here are some key things that Paul prayed for those saints, and that you and I can pray for the saints we know:
‘that your love may abound’
‘in knowledge and discernment’
V10 – That you may approve – The word used here refers to testing gold to see how pure it is. It also refers to the way that they tested oxen (working cattle) to see if they were ready for the job they needed to perform (pull a load, plow a field, turn a grinder, etc).
Sincere – this term literally meant ‘judged by sunlight’ – pure, unmixed, free from falsehood. Someone could discern an imperfection in merchandise by holding it up to the sun and looking at it more carefully.
Without offense (Blameless – NASB) – That our behavior won’t cause others to stumble and fall into sin. We should devote ourselves to this until (the day of Christ) when we stand before Jesus when He evaluates our lives. This is both a joyful and a sobering expectation and ought to motivate us to please Him.
V11 – (Filled with – NASB) the Fruits of righteousness are the fruit that comes from the fact that we are justified before Christ. It is right living that comes from having a vibrant walk with the Lord!
This fruit is to His glory and not yours. He is the one that produces it in us. We don’t produce it ourselves!
Listen to verses 9 – 11 in The Message: ‘So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.’
So what are the ‘take aways’ from these 11 verses??
- It was a letter written by a spiritual father to his spiritual children that he cared deeply for.
- It shows us how Paul thought of himself – a bondservant of Jesus, not a superstar, not an untouchable.
- He extended grace and peace to them, He thanked God for them and He had great joy as he thought of and prayed them!
- Everyone got to do ministry – not just him, not just the superstars or professionals. He saw himself in a partnership with them for the advancement of the Gospel.
- Paul was not in ‘pity party mode’ because he was in prison. He diligently did God’s work while there.
- He was confident that they as a church were growing and progressing in a quality relationship with the Lord, and that they would continue to grow until the Lord comes again.
- He was confident that Jesus had refined them, and was living His life through their surrendered lives.
- Knowing Jesus sets us free to live our lives without shame, guilt or regret! The good fruit that will grow in your life will bless others and bring glory to God!