Summary: Although Paul was imprisoned, he sought to encourage the church at Philippi. He urged them to focus on Christ and His grace. Like Paul, we need to encourage others while keeping our focus on the Lord. He must be central to all we do.
A Greeting of Grace
Philippians 1: 1-2
Today as we begin to move through this precious epistle, verse by verse, I want to remind us of the context in which it was written. Paul is bound in a Roman prison, awaiting trial, facing accusations regarding his faith. He is no longer free to go and come at will. He had been faithful to preach the Gospel, serving the Lord, even at his own peril, and yet this is his reward.
Under such dire circumstances, it would have been easy to have become bitter toward God. Paul could easily have abandoned his faith and likely been spared from his suffering. However, he remained steadfast in the midst of his trials. In fact, he remained joyful and encouraged through it all. In our introduction we discovered Philippians was considered by many to be the epistle of joy. Paul had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself, and to abide in joy, even in adversity.
What created such a positive attitude for Paul, giving him great joy while dealing with bondage? His joy was found in service to the Lord and the church. Paul found great joy in leading others into a deeper faith in Christ. The church at Philippi added greatly to his joy.
Today we will discover the foundation for Paul’s joy through his interactions with those in Philippi. I want to examine the reflections of Paul as we consider: A Greeting of Grace.
I. The Servants of Christ (1a) – Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ. Here we find a similar greeting found in many of Paul’s epistles, but these few words reveal much. Consider:
A. Their Identification – Paul sent greeting from Rome from himself and his close associate, Timothy, the young preacher. Simply receiving a letter from the apostle himself would have created great joy in the hearts of those in Philippi. Surely it brought back memories to those who were present during Paul’s first visit, and the founding of the church. Although Paul was no longer present with them, this assured the church that they were not forgotten. They were still on the apostle’s mind and in his prayers.
They would have been familiar with Timothy also, since he had labored alongside Paul among them. No doubt he had made a significant impact on their lives, and I am sure they rejoiced to know Timothy had remained faithful to the Lord and continued by Paul’s side.
We too find joy in hearing from those we once knew in the Lord. It is good to hear of their continued faithfulness and prosperity in the work of the Lord.
B. Their Occupation (1a) – Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ. Most were likely aware of Paul’s commitment to the Lord, but he never missed an opportunity to remind them of his calling. Although he was well known in Christian circles, enjoying great success as an evangelist, pastor, and church planter, Paul continued to consider himself nothing more than a servant of the Lord. He admitted to being a slave or bond-servant of Christ. This was foundational for Paul. He knew ministry was never about him or his recognition. All that he had accomplished, had come by and through the Lord. It was an honor, never a burden, to be a servant of the Lord. He was simply serving the One who had saved him by grace!
I realize the Lord loves us all the same, and He uses each of us according to His will, but few, if any, have obtained the level of faith and endurance of Paul. His humility and fervency for the Lord stand as a challenge and reminder to every believer. We must never forget to whom we belong and always strive to honor and magnify Him!
C. Their Dedication (1a) – Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ. Paul also never failed to specifically mention his commitment and service to the Lord, Jesus Christ. No doubt it was possible an unbeliever may read this letter, and Paul would not think of failing to identify the object of his devotion and loyalty. His life and ministry were centered in Christ!
As believers we are aware of that great truth, but it is good to be reminded. In our modern culture of celebrity preachers and “brand” churches, it is easy to lose our focus and place the emphasis on the servant instead of the Savior. We are all bond-servants of the Lord, and blessed beyond measure with such a privilege. We must seek to honor and exalt the Lord in every endeavor. If our efforts fail to point others to Christ, we need to abandon them for those activities that will.
II. The Saints in Christ (1b) – Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. After a brief introduction, Paul reveals to whom the letter was written. He is writing to the saints, the believers at Philippi. He speaks to: