Summary: Introduction to a series on Philippians, focusing on the powerful prayer in vss. 9-11
Philippians 1:1-11 ¡V ¡§A Powerful Prayer¡¨
By James Galbraith
September 10, 2006
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God¡¦s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7It 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. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the
affection of Christ Jesus.
9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ¡Xto the glory and praise of God.
When I knew that you had accepted me as your pastor,
I thought about what portion of God¡¦s word we should open together first.
I like to work through a Biblical book,
so that we get a full idea of what the writer was trying to say,
rather than just sound bites from scattered sources.
And I like to find texts that address issues the church is working through today.
It didn¡¦t take me long to fall back onto this letter to the Philippian church. It is a letter full of joy, and yet also full of many heartfelt lessons for the modern church.
Since we are going to be working through the book, we need to take a good look at who these people were.
Philippi was a very important city in the Roman empire.
It was a city with a proud history -
a decisive battle in the formation of the Roman Empire had been fought there 42BC. The Romans factions were divided amongst the old guard Republicans and the younger, more aggressive Imperialists. The Imperialists emerged victorious, and the leaders went on to change history by expanding the Roman empire.
a rich trade in Gold and agriculture -
gold deposits nearby made the city rich and prosperous, it¡¦s location on a vast fertile plain made for bountiful farming. It¡¦s prosperity gave it a place on the most important road of the Roman empire, the Ignitian way.
and a citizenship comprised of Greek and Roman citizens and retired Roman soldiers.
It was considered a ¡§roman Military colony¡¨, which gave it special status in the Empire, and the leader of the Empire, Augustus, had settled it with soldiers who had fulfilled their duty to the army. They were given land and cash to retire on, and they remained fiercely loyal to the Empire they had served for do long.
So, Philippi is a city 100% loyal to the empire and 100% intolerant of those who were not. The Christian church, with its loyalty to Christ and it¡¦s unwillingness to worship the Emperor, stood in harm¡¦s way from it¡¦s very onset.
Just imagine trying to be a church in a city where almost everyone was opposed to the church and regarded it with suspicion and mistrust!
As the Christians developed a reputation for allowing slaves equal status with citizens and for not worshipping the Roman emperor as citizens and subjects of Rome were required to do, they would have been treated with increasing contempt by their neighbours.
This introduction sets the tone for the rest of the letter.
The word ¡§servant¡¨ stands out.
In the thirteen letters that Paul wrote in the NT, this is the only one where he first identifies himself only as a servant.
Nine times he uses the word ¡§apostle¡¨ as a title. He does this when he feels a need to assert his role as a leader - like in the letters to the Corinthians or the Galatians. Twice he goes with no title at all, and 1x he calls himself as a ¡§prisoner¡¨.
To go with the title ¡§servant¡¨ alone indicates that he does not feel a need to assert his authority with these people - they know him, trust him and are ready to take him seriously. He can be a Servant of Christ without having to indicate his position within the church or anywhere else.
¡§Christ Jesus¡¨ is also a very important term to Paul.