Summary: Philippians 1:1-6. Paul rejoices in his relationship with the Philippian church and the certainty that Christ will finish his work in them.
AGAIN I SAY REJOICE
FINISHING HIS WORK
- Today we are going to begin a study of the book of Philippians. If you turn in your Bible to Philippians chapter 1 you will be in the right place. We are calling our study Again I Say Rejoice. This, of course, is taken from chapter 4, verse 4. And it is an appropriate title for a look into this New Testament letter because, as we will discover over the course of our study, joy is a key theme in Philippians.
- Before we begin at v.1 let’s get our background information in order, so that we can have an idea of who is writing, why he is writing, who he is writing to, and what he is writing about. The author of the letter to the Philippians is the Apostle Paul. He identifies himself at the very beginning of the letter, as usual; and there are no serious objections to his authorship.
- Philippians is known as a “Prison Epistle” because Paul likely authored the letter while he was confined by house arrest in Rome. He wrote three other New Testament letters around this same time: Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon. These are known as “Prison Epistles” as well. He wrote these four “Prison Epistles” around 61 A.D.
- Paul’s reason for writing was to thank the church in Philippi for their support of his ministry. In particular, he wrote to thank them for a gift that he received from the church delivered by Epaphroditus – who we will look at in a few weeks. However, as we well know, there is more than just a thank you note here. Philippians contains some rich doctrinal truth that will develop and grow our knowledge of God and how he works in our lives.
- The city of Philippi was located to the northwest of Israel in the Roman province of Macedonia. It was a Roman colony, so its residents enjoyed much the same benefits as citizens of Italy enjoyed. And the church in this city would have been very important to the Apostle Paul, because it is believed that this is the first church he started in what is now modern day Europe. So he probably had very close relationships with some of the members there.
- As I briefly mentioned one of the main themes in this letter is joy, or rejoicing. Paul’s exuberance despite his being in prison permeates all that he writes here. He had learned, as chapter 4 verse 11 states, to be content no matter his situation. The word “joy” in its various forms occurs over a dozen times in this short letter. So this theme will influence the many topics we will discuss.
- As we begin to read what Paul writes to his partners in ministry then, let’s look very briefly at vv.1- 2. This is Paul’s introductory greeting or salutation.
Read Philippians 1:1-2
- There is nothing out of the ordinary here. Paul identifies himself as writing alongside Timothy, his “son in the faith”, and addresses the letter to the saints (the believers) in Philippi and specifies the overseers (or elders) and deacons (or servants).
- Then he says “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” He’s extending his blessing on behalf of God. “Grace and peace to you.” was a common greeting during this time period.
- Our text this morning follows this usual greeting. Look at Philippians 1:3-6.
Read Philippians 1:3-6
- Even this first statement has much for us to learn and apply. Paul mentions that he thanks God every time he remembers them in his prayers; because of their support, and because he has seen what God is doing in their lives.
- Let’s start with what he says first. Paul had:
JOY IN REMEMBERING THE SAINTS IN PRAYER
- He writes in v.3: I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy...
- Paul has a very intimate relationship with two parties here. First he says “I thank my God...” Paul’s relationship with God through Jesus Christ was the ultimate source of his joy. But he also has another reason for joy: his close relationship with the Philippians. Remember this church had a special place in the Apostle’s heart. Whenever he remembered them, he thanked his God for them.
- The Bible actually tells us some of the things Paul would have had in mind here as memories of his brothers and sister in Philippi. In the book of Acts we find some of Paul’s experiences in Philippi. Acts chapter 16 records what is known as the Macedonian Call. Paul sees a vision of a man from Macedonia pleading for him to come help them. Macedonia remember was the Roman province where Philippi was located.