“A Deeper Dive Into Philippi”
“GRACE & PEACE”
1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
This text highlights Paul's thoughts and desires for the Philippians.
INTRODUCTION TO PHILIPPIANS
Paul wrote this letter to the believers in Philippi while he was in prison.
Not a prison we think of today… but a cold cell locked up in heavy and uncomfortable chains. When one was taken to prison, they weren’t given a pillowtop mattress… they most likely didn’t even have a bed to sleep in and their food was minimal at most. This was a horrible situation to be in… especially since he was there because he was defending and confirming that Jesus is Real!
In Paul’s letters, he includes the writer(s) of the letter, who the letter is addressed to and the proper greeting for writing letters in the time he lived. Paul was a very educated man, so he would have been well versed in these types of things. But a lot of people look at the fact that he was educated and don’t look any further. Those people… including myself for many years, would be overlooking a few important facts.
Paul adds a different ‘twist’ to his salutations due to the specific recipients he was writing to and the purpose behind it. He was writing to those who believed in Christ.
Paul begins his letters with a salutation that always includes the words…
“Grace” and “Peace”.
“Greetings to you and peace” were somewhat normal in Hebrew & Greek greetings, however, Paul claimed an intentional variation to emphasize the deep Christian truth of the word ‘grace’.
Paul uses the word “Charis” in the original language which translates into the word ‘grace’. Grace goes much further than the normally used “Chairein” (which means ‘greetings’) that you would regularly see in salutations. He was intentionally placing all focus on the freely given grace that Christ gave by dying and shedding His blood on a cross so that we could have forgiveness of sins… so that we could experience the grace of God. This grace continues on with all believers, even after the initial forgiveness of sin, giving them blessings and continued forgiveness of sin ‘just because’ God’s love for us is so great.
Grace brings a huge benefit doesn’t it… When you have experienced God’s grace, the result is the ‘peace’ you receive in your heart. He places the words Grace and Peace together in this order specifically for a reason. First Grace and after that, Peace. That’s how we experience these two, first receiving God's grace, and from that our hearts feel peace in the forgiveness of sin… which is a feeling nothing else can replace or replicate. Christ Himself can be looked at as Grace manifested in human form. -
“11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, “ -Titus 2:11
Prayer & Thanksgiving
“3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,”
To read these words you don’t think of someone who was in prison for anything. You see that he starts the letter with good tidings and thanksgiving. Showing the Philippians that ‘he’ loves them dearly.
He shows them this by telling them he wishes Grace and Peace and of how much he prays for them… how he thanks God for them and their perseverance of following Christ from when they started until the day he wrote this letter.
It’s important to realize here that Paul sets the example of how to reach the hearts of the people by showing love first. He isn’t doing it because he has to but he thanks God for them with JOY in his heart.
“ 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; “
He tells them that he prays that they will continue the work God has for them and that he is confident that God WILL finish the work he has started for them. This ‘work’ that has been started for them is to believe in Jesus. - John 6:29
“29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” - John 6:29
To believe in Him, to follow his teachings, when you believe in someone, you follow their example. Another scripture comes to mind when I think about this, known as The Great Commission found in
“18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you even until the end of the age.” “ - Matthew 28:18-20
- He establishes authority with verse 18, Jesus has all the power in earth and also all of Heaven… HE IS KING OF ALL KINGS, LORD OF ALL LORDS. You’ve heard “everyone has a boss” right? Well, Jesus answers to no man but all men and women WILL answer to him.
- He doesn’t ‘ask’ us… Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all nations
- He tells us how to do it
- He reassures us that we are not alone, that He is there by our side, no matter what happens, no matter where we are, no matter when we are following.
This is the work he has started in all of us… not just the Philippians. Yes, each person had their own part and job or gift to deliver but all gifts, all missions work toward the same goal. As Christians, we are the church, or as Paul would say it ‘the body of Christ’. When we give our lives to Christ, we are the BODY OF CHRIST. - 1 Corinthians 12:27
“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” - 1 Corinthians 12:27
When one part of the body doesn’t do its job, the whole body is affected. Likewise, when the body works as intended, the whole body works to achieve the main goal a little bit easier and more efficiently.
For instance, how many of you have drank from a straw before? Simple task that you don’t have to think about much right? Your eyes see the straw, you subconsciously focus on it as your brain tells the body to move forward, or maybe your hand grabs the drink and lifts it to your head. Your mouth then opens until your lips feel the straw in your mouth and then you begin to drink by closing your lips around the straw and the inside of your mouth creates a suction while your tongue directs the liquid down your throat and into your stomach…. I’m going to stop here as you probably know what happens next.
It doesn’t always work that perfectly does it? You know what I’m referring to… You take a few drinks from the straw while talking with some friends, and in the heat of the conversation, your brain says you are thirsty so, without paying attention to what you are doing… you grab the drink just fine but that straw seems to have a mind of its own… with a sense of humor… and BAM! You have a straw inside one of your nostrils… in front of those friends. You look like an idiot trying to take a drink without losing one second of that conversation.
All this to say, when we are paying attention to what we are doing with our body parts, we have no issue drinking from a straw to satisfy the main goal of our body… to take a drink… but when we get distracted… we not only deprive our body of the drink we want so badly, but we make a fool out of ourselves in the process.
“7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.”
Paul places himself almost as in the same shoes they are in, because they are one body with the same goal. He tells them that they are special to him because they have received the same grace and peace he received from Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior… they share that Grace and Peace with him no matter what Paul goes through… because the body works much better when all the members are working toward the same goal.
He desires to be with them so much (verse 8) because he loves them dearly… because he knows the importance they have.
How many of you know how important your pinky is? We use all the other fingers quite a bit. Thumbs up… Pointer finger… the middle finger is the biggest (and is misused quite a bit)... your ring finger displays the holy matrimony between you and your spouse… but the pinky gets the raw end of the deal right?
Did you know that HALF the strength of your hand comes from your Pinky? Yep… When you grip something that pinky distributes the strength where it is needed most and without the pinky, you would have half the handshake you have now… there would be a lot of pickle jars unopened at my house is all I have to say. But you know what? Even though your pinky doesn’t get much attention, it is a workhorse for us everyday...When the pinky knows you are trying to grip something, its there without you even knowing it.
Paul wants to be with the other believers because they are also a part of the Body of Christ along with him. When one part suffers - then all parts suffer.
That ‘Special’ Place Philippi Holds in Paul’s Heart
We read in Acts 16:9-10 that Paul goes to Macedonia because of a dream he had, proclaiming that the Lord had told them to go and preach the gospel to them. I mention this because, after the greeting, Paul is giving thanks for the very thought of them. Telling the Philippians how much he thanks God for their faith and that he makes requests for them with every prayer he makes….
Never leaving them out.
Paul is excited because the church of Phillipi is his ‘fruits’. Not many of us can see the fruits from our labor, but those of us who have made an impact on someone’s life… especially in the ministry, can attest that you feel those you have worked hard to build up, are like your family… like your children. Paul is thankful that his fruits are still ripe and also prays for them to reproduce even more. Paul isn’t doing this so that he can be glorified… He is truly, wholeheartedly thankful for them and desires that they grow in knowledge more and more because that means God’s work is becoming more effective as the body works together toward the same goal.
Today, our goal shouldn’t be much different than Paul’s. Back then, Paul didn’t have much means to have his message to reach hundreds upon hundreds of people almost instantly. Who knows how long it would take to get a simple letter to those he was writing to? Today we have the ability to reach much more… not ONLY the pastor but any single one of us can post and share and tweet and make a video…. But a lot of times we don't because we are worried about what others may think.
Sometimes we don’t say “God Bless You” because we are at work or at the store because we are afraid of what someone may say back to us.
When we write our emails, we use the standard greetings “Dear so and so” or “to whom it may concern” or end with the standard lines “sincerely” or “with love” or “love me”.
Paul didn’t care…and he lived in a time and place that this was extremely dangerous to do such things. Paul knew this better than most what would happen because before coming to Christ… he used to persecute Christians simply because they professed Jesus is Lord
“3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” - Acts 8:3
Even with this firsthand knowledge of the consequences...which are much worse than what we would face if we did the same thing... he was telling the truth no matter what and was locked up because of it… and when he was locked up in jail… he didn’t whine or give up… he didn’t lighten his stance… he didn’t slow down his momentum… he praised God for allowing him to suffer for Christ, and kept on with the common goal… He even wrote letters to churches while he was there encouraging them to keep on keeping on.
Paul gave true surrender... true sacrifice.
When we surrender our lives to Christ, we become a member in the BODY OF CHRIST.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” - 1 Corinthians 12:27
What did Christ’s body do? Was He just a teacher or a nice person? Christ sacrificed His whole life, including his physical body for others
“16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” - John 3:16-17
Jesus himself even told us to follow his example point-blank
“14 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” - John 13:14
He showed us, with His life what we should do and how we should do it. We all have the same goal
“19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,...” - Matthew 28:19a
Just like Paul exemplifies in these verses, in his ministry… we are to also follow the same commission… to make disciples, to produce fruit.
We are ONE as the Body of Christ, meaning we may be different parts of the body but all have the same goal. Each of us has different ways… different opportunities… different gifts to contribute toward this main goal whether good or bad. We can either build up the body OR we will hinder the whole body with every action we take.
“4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them:...” - Romans 12:4-6a
“9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
Paul prays they grow in Christ… he prays they become even blameless… sinless until the day He returns. He prays they learn more so that they can be more effective in making the right decisions as the body to stay on track with the great commission… That they won’t stumble into sin but rather be fruitful, producing the fruit that grows from the tree of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
Christ sacrificed his life, went through persecution and physical torment for you and me… the least we can do is devote and sacrifice our lives to Him by doing what He wants.
“1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” - Romans 12:1
If we are Christ’s body, and Jesus used his body to devote every second to build his Father’s kingdom, including the horrible pain and suffering he went through on Golgotha for the redemption of our sins, shouldn’t we be striving with everything in us to follow His example… every second… every minute… every day? Shouldn’t we be sacrificing our time and thoughts and prayers to do the same ALL the time?
Jesus came to set an example for us, then his works produced fruit (the apostles, and the church as we know it today). None of that would have happened if no one took heed to Christ’s words.
Today, I ask you to examine yourselves as I examine mine daily… as Paul examined his daily. Are we living a life of one who has received Grace and Peace from God? Or are we living life, doing what we want, or doing only what is comfortable to our everyday lives? Sacrifice your wants, endure the pain… He endured much, MUCH more than you and I will ever go through. He set the example for you and me to follow with every moment of our lives. Don’t forget… Jesus said He will be with us always to help us, to coach us, to lead us… always
In closing, the Great Commission tells us what to do and how to do it… but we still need help. Jesus tells us in the last part of that commission :
- Matthew 28:20b
“... and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:20b