Summary: This message begins a new series in the book of Philippians titled Impossible Joy. Do you need to experience true joy in your life? Then join us as we explore this great book of joy in the midst of impossible circumstances.
I’ve shared this with you before, but I think it bears repeating. For grandparent’s generation had one primary goal for their children. If you asked them what they most wanted for their children, they would have told you that they wanted them to have a better life than they did. That showed in the work ethic they instilled in their children. It showed in their push for education. It wasn’t always for a college education, but they wanted their children to have more education that they had. And the reason they wanted their children to get that education was so that they could get a good job. A job that would provide for a family and could earn a decent living. The bottom line was, “I want my kids to have a better life than I did.” Does that sound familiar? But things changed with my parent’s generation. Their goals for their kids changed. By and large, boomers did have it better than their parents. They had better education. They had better jobs. They had more money. But that still wasn’t enough. Whether consciously or not, they saw that even though they had those things, they still weren’t happy and content. They weren’t fulfilled. So that led them to have different goals for their children. Education was still a priority. But the goal of education had changed. Instead of getting an education so you could get a good job, you needed to get an education so that you could discover yourself. So that you could figure out what made you really happy. It was no longer the goal to find a good career somewhere and stay there till retirement. No, now the goal is to find somewhere that you will feel fulfilled. The bottom line is, instead of wanting your kids to have a better life than you did, the primary goal of parents for the past couple of generations has been for them to be happy. Go to school to figure out who you really are. Get a job that makes you happy. Get in relationships that build you up and make you happy. Everything is centered on self-gratification. But have you noticed what’s happened? Has all of that pursuit of happiness made people any happier? Judging by all the commercials for antidepressants on TV, I would say that people today are far less happy. So why is that? Why is it that the very thing we have raised our kids and grandkids to chase after… why can most people not find it? I think that Paul found the answer to that question in a Roman prison. And under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he shared that answer with us in this letter he wrote to the church at Philippi. We’re going to spend the next several Sunday nights looking through this book. It’s only four chapters, but it is filled with some of the richest teaching of the whole Bible. It’s not an overly doctrinal book, but it does have one of the greatest doctrinal statements of the deity of Christ in all the Bible. I have wanted to do this study ever since I came here to Brushfork, but for some reason just wasn’t able to. I believe that means that we weren’t ready for it yet. But now we are. I don’t have any idea how long it’s going to take us to finish, but I do know that we’ll be blessed by the journey. For tonight, all that we’re going to get to is the first two verses. These first two verses are really the opening to Paul’s letter. I remember in grade school that we had to learn all the parts of a letter. I don’t know if they teach that anymore with the advent of email, Facebook and text messages, but there is an actual correct format to writing a letter. In the days when Paul wrote this one, the format was even more structured. During that period of time, just like today, letters started off with a salutation. Ours are pretty simple. Usually all they say is something like, “Dear so-and-so.” Their letters almost always consisted of three things. The name of the sender. The name of the one who it was being sent to. And the greeting. And that’s what we see in these first two verses. And just like Paul used the three parts of his salutation to kick off his letter, we’re going to use them to kick off our study. Tonight we’re going to look at the senders, the receivers and the message of this letter. First, let’s look at the senders.
Verse 1 gives us their names and their mission. Their names were Paul and Timothy. The King James calls him Timotheus. That’s one of the instances when the King James translators simply transliterated directly from the Greek. In other words, they took the original Greek word and spelled it out in English letters according to the way it’s pronounced. The Greek word is two words scrunched together that means, “one who honors God.” And the person it’s talking about is really Timothy. The same Timothy that Paul called his child in the faith because he led him to the Lord. The same Timothy that he took with him on missionary journeys and raised in the faith and mentored and ministered alongside. The same Timothy that Paul would later on send to Philippi and then to Ephesus to be their pastor. And the same Timothy he wrote two letters to later on towards the end of his life. But even though Timothy’s name is included in the salutation, he didn’t actually have a part in writing the letter. Paul is the one who wrote it. We know that because the letter is written in the first-person singular. In other words, Paul always says “I”, not “we”. But he included Timothy in the greeting for several reasons. First and foremost, because they shared the same concern and love for Philippi. Timothy was with Paul when they planted the Philippian church back in Acts 16. They were partners in ministry and by including his name in the greeting, Paul was preparing the church to receive Timothy as their pastor. But the Holy Spirit inspired author of this letter was the Apostle Paul. This is one of four letters that Paul wrote from prison. It seems very likely from some of the vocabulary that he uses that he was imprisoned in Rome at the time. Paul had been in prison many times before and would be imprisoned after this time too. This wasn’t the last imprisonment in Rome that would be a few years later when he wrote his last letters—1&2 Timothy. This one was different. He was able to receive visitors like Timothy and Epaphroditus, but it still wasn’t a piece of cake. He was in there for two years and spent most of the time chained to Roman guards. But it was better than other times he spent in prison, because he wasn’t beaten regularly and he wasn’t kept in a hole in the ground. Now, after he gave their names, notice how Paul further identified himself and Timothy in verse 1. He said that they were “the servants of Jesus Christ.” He gave their names and then he gave their mission. And their mission was to be servants of Jesus. The original word that he used for servants is doulos. A doulos was a bond-servant. And a bond-servant was different than a regular slave. A bond-servant was owned by his master just like a regular slave. He was completely subservient to his master just like a regular slave. He was also completely dependent on his master just like a regular slave. It wasn’t like he could just go out and get a job. He was property. But here’s the difference. A bond-servant willingly and voluntarily was in that relationship. At one time or another, he could have been freed from it. But out of his love and devotion to his master, he willingly submitted to him and volunteered to be his slave. That was how Paul described his and Timothy’s relationship with Christ. They were completely subservient to Jesus. He was their Lord and Master. But they served Him out of love and devotion, not legalistic obligation. They chose to serve Him because they loved Him. And they loved Him because He first loved them. So, that was who sent the letter. Paul wrote it and included his son in the faith, Timothy. Now, who did they send it to? Who were the receivers?