Each Friday I will be posting on the week’s discussion from the book of Philippians at Philter 48. This is the first week of postings. You can check out the other posts, by clicking on the link provided.
The authors: Paul and Timothy, bond-servants (slaves) of Christ Jesus,
The recipients: To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:
We, you and I, are the recipients of this book. We are considered saints. Holy ones. What an amazing description! Would you describe yourself this way?
This letter is also for the overseers and deacons: the leaders of the church. The overseers are considered “elders” and the deacons were established to help the elders. If the deacons will do the hands-on work, then the elders can give more time to teaching and prayer. (Titus 1:6-7; Acts 20:17,28; 1Tim 3:1-7)
v. 2-5 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 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.
What a beautiful way to describe his feelings! We see the constant prayer going up as Paul remembers, as he’s reminded of the Philippians and their participation in the gospel. With each mention of them he prays constantly. Now wouldn’t that be a great way to live? As someone comes to mind, offering up a prayer of thanksgiving for that person. I’m not talking about a formal show, just a thankful response in your heart, “Thank you, Lord, for Nor and Darla. They’ve been so dear to me.” Simple. Instantly my heart feels lighter and a smile crosses my face. Try it. I think you’ll be surprised at the lifting in your spirit.
v.6 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.
This verse is a favorite for many people, myself included. It speaks clearly of the sanctifying work in the Christian’s life. God sets us apart for a good work. He began the work and He will complete the work. When? Until the day of Christ Jesus. From the beginning of the work until the day we see Christ, we are being perfected. Not that we will achieve it this side of heaven, notice the timing. It is a good work and Paul is confident it will be completed.
v.7 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.
Sometimes I’ve wondered if I’m a sap. I have such strong feelings for people. I’m not at all the “tough American” living on the frontier — although I do like to let people know I’m a Texan. (There’s something in the word “Texan” that just sounds tough.) But I cry for people…lots. I understand Paul when he says it’s only right to feel this way. I didn’t know my heart could hold so many people in it, and still keep beating. But it does. I love people.
Paul is in prison at this writing. We get our first clue in verse 7: both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel “…in my imprisonment” in the Greek literally means, “in my bonds.” He is bound, fettered, chained as he writes this book. Yet he speaks of joy (v.4). We aren’t past the introduction to the book and Paul is speaking of joy while in chains! As will be seen, joy while in difficult circumstances is the theme of this book.
v. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Here we see it again. What? The third time Paul expresses his love for them. He specifically declares, this affection comes from Christ. The word affection originates from the word “spleen.” The KJV uses the word bowels — I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. Not so pretty!! But note this definition: the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderest affections.
Do you have strong, tender affections for those you know in Christ? Paul is talking about the church at Philippi, a congregation he knows. He has them in his heart. In his gut he feels strongly for them. Do you have this kind of connection with your church, with those you are in fellowship with through Christ? This is the kind of love we are to have within the body.
It’s only right to feel this way (v.7).
It’s his prayer for them, to have an abounding love:
v. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment…
Next Friday I’ll delve more deeply into verse 9 as we continue going verse-by-verse through the book of Philippians. Be sure and check out Philter48. It’s a great site for some good discussion!