Weds 4th October Philippians 1:1-11
Meditation on Philippians 1:1-11
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
As we read another of Paul’s letters, let’s start with some context.
Philippi is named after King Philip ll of Macedonia, who was the father of Alexander the Great. The city was later honoured with the names of Julius Caesar and Augustus.
Philippi was a prosperous Roman colony. Acts 16:12 tells us that it was ‘the leading city of that district of Macedonia.’
The citizens of Philippi were citizens of Rome – they were very proud of being Romans.
This letter was written from prison – most likely from Rome.
Paul had experience of prisons in Philippi, Jerusalem, Caesarea and Rome.
The main thread of this letter focuses on the Lord Jesus.
So to our meditation.
- THE DEFINITION OF A CHRISTIAN Verses 1-2
- ‘a servant of Christ Jesus’.
- ‘God’s holy people’ -i.e. set apart / separate from. Some translations use the word ‘saints’.
We are not saints or holy people on our own. We are ‘in Christ Jesus’. As Paul opens his first letter to the Corinthians, he says, ‘to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people.’ We are ‘in Christ Jesus.’ We belong to Him and He belongs to us. This is a living, dynamic relationship.
Not only are we IN Christ but we are ‘servants of Christ’.
Again, looking at some of Paul’s other letters, he emphasises this important truth.
Romans 1:1: ‘Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus.’
Titus 1:1: ‘Paul, a servant of God.
‘Philemon v.1: ‘Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus.’
All that we need to be saints or holy people and servants comes from God – verse 2 –to us. ‘Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.’
I am in Christ so that I may be a servant of Christ, having received grace and peace from God and from Jesus Christ.
‘Grace’ is God’s unmerited favour’ and ‘peace’ is that inner assurance of calm that God gives to us, which keeps us spiritually confident and content, even in the midst of turmoil.
Paul makes it clear, in his opening of the letter that he is writing to the Philippians but we could substitute that name and put in ‘to the ‘Littlehamptonites’ or ‘to the Wickites’ (or wherever you live)!
- THE ASSURANCE FOR THE CHRISTIAN Verses 3-8
- ‘Partners in the gospel.’ What an encouragement for Paul when fellow Christians work together for the advancing of the Gospel. This encouragement speaks of…
- unity – ‘your partnership in the gospel’
- perseverance – ‘from the first day until now’
- confidence – not in ourselves but in God
And this causes Paul to ‘thank God’ and to pray – ‘in all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel.’
We say that we want people to ‘know, love and follow Jesus’.
The challenge is for us to work together as partners.
- Divine assurance – verse 6. I am who I am because of God’s work in me. And He doesn’t give up on us. Just focus on these words – ‘He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’.
How exciting is that?
It is God’s work in us that enables His work to be done through us.
He starts the work. How about this – He started this work before the foundation of the world - ‘He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.’ Ephesians 1:4
He carries the work on.
He brings the work to completion. To those saints who have gone to glory, the work of God in their lives is done and their work on earth is done. Now they are in the presence of Him who began His work in them, who has carried it on to completion and has now said to them, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
You and I are a work in progress. We, the clay, are in the hands of the Potter.
- THE GROWTH OF THE CHRISTIAN Verses 9-11
Paul now turns to prayer for the Christians.
Love is the seed that is sown when we first come to Christ and commit our lives to Him.
From that love will come a life well lived which will bring glory and praise to God.
- there is vigorous growth – verse 9 ’that your love may abound more and more’
- there is a deepening of knowledge and insight – verse 9 i.e. I get to know God better and I am able to exercise practical discernment and sensitivity. I am no longer like the proverbial ‘bull in the china shop’
- there is the character refining that is going on in my life, both inwardly and outwardly – i.e. there is ‘purity’ within and a life that is ‘blameless’.
- there is a harvest of fruit in and through my life, characterised by righteousness.
- there is a finishing line - ‘the day of Christ’.
- there is the ultimate goal of bringing glory and praise to God.
All this reads well on paper but putting it into practice is another matter.
But remember that we are not on our own, trying to attain these challenges. It is God who is at work in us. What a privilege is ours to be with Him and He with us as we journey along life’s highway.
Let’s pray verses 9-11 for each other.