Philippians 1:1-11

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

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 in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Observation

  • The letter is from both Timothy and Paul.
  • Timothy and Paul are servants of Christ.
  • The letter is written to all the saints in Philippi and their overseers and deacons.
  • Grace and peace is from the Father and Jesus.
  • Paul thanked God for the Philippians when he thought of them
  • Paul thought of the Philippians all the time.
  • Paul thanked God for the Philippians every time he prayed.
  • The Philippians shared with Paul in the grace from God.
  • Praying for the Philippians made Paul’s prayer joyful.
  • The Philippians were partners with Paul in the gospel.
  • The Philippians were partners with Paul from the beginning.
  • God had begun a good work in the Philippians.
  • God was going to complete the good work He began in the Philippians.
  • The good work was not yet completed.
  • The good work would be completed at the day of Jesus Christ.
  • It was right for Paul to feel joy toward the Philippians.
  • Paul held the Philippians in his heart
  • The Philippians were partakers with Paul of grace.
  • The Philippians shared grace with Paul in both his imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
  • Paul loved the Philippians.
  • Paul yearned for the Philippians.
  • Paul had affection for the Philippians with the affection of Christ.
  • Paul prayed that the Philippians’ love would grow.
  • Paul prayed that the Philippians’ love would grow with knowledge and discernment.
  • Paul prayed the Philippians would grow in knowledge and discernment so they could approve what was excellent.
  • The Philippians were to be pure and blameless.
  • The Philippians were to be filled with the fruit of righteousness.
  • The fruit of righteousness comes through Jesus Christ.
  • The Philippians were to be pure and blameless for the glory and praise of God.

Interpretation

Paul is writing to the saints and the leaders of the church in Philippi. Therefore, we, as believers, should take heed as this letter will also apply to us.

When Paul remembers the Philippians he gives thanks to God for them. The Philippians shared with Paul in the grace from God. But they also were faithful in their partnership in the service to Christ. Remembering this brought Paul great joy.

Paul was confident that God would complete what was He started in the Philippians. How could Paul be so certain? This is an unpredictable world. We have no idea what lies ahead of us when we awake in the morning. But Paul was certain of the future because we, like the Philippians, are Christ’s possession. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37) “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a) “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16)

Paul is certain of the future because Paul is certain of God’s faithfulness. Paul lays out this simple syllogism:

Premise 1: God does not forsake the work He starts. “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” (Psalm 138:8)

Premise 2: We are the work of his hands. “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)

Conclusion: God will not forsake us and complete what He has begun.

Saying we are the work of His hand, is not simply referring to the act of creation. Rather it refers to the calling we received to be adopted into the family of God. This is a token to us of our election, that the God has called us to himself by his Spirit.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39). I use to understand that passage to mean that while nothing could separate us from the love of God, we could separate ourselves. But it says “anything else in all creation” cannot separate us from the love of God. Since we are part of creation then even we cannot separate ourselves from the love of God. He will complete the work He has started. Praise God!

Paul however, is not talking about his own salvation but the salvation of the Philippians. Is it possible to be certain of someone else’s salvation? The assurance we have regarding our own salvation is very different from the type of assurance we can have regarding someone else’s. It is the Spirit of God that is a witness to us of our own individual calling. As for others, we do not have the testimony of the Spirit. We only have the outward evidence of the working of the Spirit of God. Only in the fact that the grace of God shows itself outwardly are we able to know. The assurance of faith is shut up inside each individual. But we can see tokens of divine grace that allows us to have the hope for another’s salvation. This, of course is only a general guideline because we all depend on God alone for our salvation.

Paul thanks God that the Philippians are with him in his imprisonment. There are many sermons preached from very popular preachers that God wants your happiness and self-fulfillment. That is, if you serve Him you can have whatever you want. That is pure poppy cock! That is a worldly way of thinking. We are honored and blessed if God allows us to suffer persecution for the sake of His truth. Christ himself said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12) God has given us the unspeakable honor to defend and confirm the gospel. When we are persecuted for it we should rejoice.

Paul prayed that the Philippians would increase in knowledge and discernment. When we are saved we do not immediately have all the knowledge and wisdom that is in Christ. We must learn and grow. Paul’s example here is that we pray both to gain knowledge and discernment and also to pray for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that they may grow as well.

We are to be filled with the fruit of righteousness. What is this fruit? First it comes only from Jesus Christ. And it comes to glorify and praise God. Second the fruit is not doing something. Rather it is being something. In Galatians 5:22-23a Paul gives a partial list of the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” and again in Ephesians 5:9 “for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.”

But it should always be remembered that the fruit is the result of our salvation and sanctification. It is not the cause. We do not get to obtain our salvation by acting loving and kind. We are loving and kind as a result of our salvation. These are the fruits of righteousness.

Application

Every time Paul remembers something joyful he gives thanks. This should be something we practice as well. It is God who provides us all good things. Therefore we ought to rejoice and give thanks when we remember something He has done.

We can rest and be assured of our salvation. We when we sin we know that Christ has redeemed us. We belong to Him. Even though we may look in the mirror and see a sinner. It is God who saves. It is by His righteousness not ours. So He will not leave us. We cannot be separated from the love of God. We can relax and rest in Him. When you do, you will be able to bear the fruit of righteousness.

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