Good morning, all! Let’s dive into our study today. We are studying Philippians and will begin with chapter one. Paul starts off his letter with a greeting:
Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:1,2 NASB).
The greeting tells you:
1) who is writing: Paul (and Timothy is with him at this time)
2) who the letter is for: The saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi
Notice there is a special emphasis on servants in the greeting. Paul describes himself and Timothy as “servants of Christ” and makes a note to include “overseers and deacons” (servants in the church) in the greeting. From the greeting, you often get a small taste of what the topic of the letter is going to be. In this case, Paul’s emphasis on servants may indicate that he has a message to give concerning servants of Christ. We’ll see if this is true as we go along.
Following the greeting, Paul includes a prayer for the Philippians. How many of you start your letters or e-mails with a prayer for the person you are writing to? Might not be a bad practice to start.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Phil. 1:3-11 NASB).
First off, Paul thanks God for the Philippians and always remembers them with joy. Why does Paul have such a fond remembrance of the Philippians? In verse 5, Paul talks about their “participation in the gospel from the first day until now”. I like how the NIV translates Greek to “partnership in the gospel”. The Philippian church continued to spread the gospel and do the work Paul started in Philippi long after Paul had left them. The word “partnership” implies that they make an equal effort to spread the gospel and worked hand in hand with him. Paul believes that the good work started in Philippi will continue to be perfected (completed/matured) until the day of Christ (verse 6).
In verses 7-8, you can tell that Paul is very fond of the Philippians. This may be due to the fact that the Philippians continued to stay faithful to him and were companions and supporters of him throughout his missionary journeys. They even supported him while he was in prison. During his imprisonment, I would imagine that he would appreciate their support most of all.
After his thanksgivings, Paul makes a few petitions for the Philippian church. In verse 9, he prays for their love to grow and that they will have knowledge and discernment. Why?
- For insight in “approving the things that are excellent”(the Amplified version translates that they may “[recognize] the highest and the best” [Phil. 1:10 AMP]). Paul wants the Philippians to be able to recognize what is good and worthy and shun all else.
- For purity that they may be blameless until the day of Christ. Paul wanted to make sure that they stay unstained by the world around them.
- For fruitfulness in Jesus Christ. Paul wanted all the work that they were doing to become profitable and bring glory to God.
To end his prayer, Paul prays for the glory and praise of God (verse 11) “that His glory may be manifested and recognized” (Phil. 1:11 AMP). Paul wanted the work that the Philippians were doing (and the work being done in them) to glorify God. This is goal of all good works and spreading of the gospel, that all may see the glory of God and worship Him. As Colossians says “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colo. 3:17 NASB).
Even from this first few verses, it appears that we can learn much from the example of the Philippians. We will pick up again in verse 12 in our next post. Until then, ponder these questions based on today’s study:
- Are there people in your life for whom you give thanks to God every time you think of them? Name a few.
- Do you often pray for them? If so, what do you pray?
- Could you benefit from some of the knowledge and discernment Paul talks about? In what way?
I hope you all have an awesome day and you will join me again for our next part. As before, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them!