Summary: There’s a lot of insight to be gained from the greetings in Paul’s letters. Philippians is no exception. See how Paul greeted these Christians in this exposition of Philippians 1:1-2
“A Study of the Book of Philippians”
Paul is writing to a community of saved persons living in Philippi. Paul established this church, this family of Christians. Paul loves these people and wants to thank them for the way they have loved and supported him in his ministry.
So he writes them a letter. Do you recall where Paul was writing from when he wrote this letter? Rome. Paul was renting a house and was confined to his house for a two-year period.
He could share the gospel with people who came to him but he was confined and basically a prisoner in his own rented home.
1. Notice How Paul Greets the Philippian Christians - Phil 1:1-2
a. How does Paul greet these Philippian Christ-followers?
1. Paul greets them in God’s Son: "Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ..."
The word Paul uses in the greek for ‘bondservants’ is the word ’doulos’, which is translated bondservant or slave. ’Doulos’ refers to a person who has given up his/her will to another. Someone who has given up their rights to carry out the wishes of another.
Paul is writing from a Roman prison. However instead of seeing himself as chained up and a prisoner of Rome, Paul says the reality is that he is a prisoner of Jesus Christ.
And so Paul greets these Christians through God’s Son. Everything Paul did he did through Jesus. In fact, the name of Christ is mentioned 18 times in this first chapter. The gospel is mentioned 6 times.
"For me, living is Christ and dying is gain." - Philippians 1:21 (CSB)
In him we live and move and have our being. Everything we do we do "in Christ".
Paul is affirming that Jesus Christ is the source of everything in his life. Paul’s sitting in prison under the oversight of Rome. But He’s still looking to Jesus to provide him with everything he needs.
Even while Paul is suffering under the opressive hand of Rome he’s still affirming that really he’s in the mighty hand of God.
What was Paul doing? Why did he open his letter by introducing himself as "one that has given up his will to Jesus Christ"?
Paul was recognizing that he belonged to Jesus Christ. Even though Rome would say, "Paul, you belong to us. You’re our prisoner. We own you." Paul would say, "No, you don’t. You’re not my owner. My life belongs to God’s Son not some godless government."
This is how Paul saw his situation. He did not see himself as a victim. If anybody had a legitimate reason to turn to self-pity it was Paul. He was unjustly jailed only for doing good to others and doing the will of God.
If we can see all of life through the lens of the Lord then we can free our mind and heart even when our physical body is imprisoned.
The world in which we live will try to put constraints on you. It wants to mold you into it’s image. But Paul said, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed."
Don’t allow what’ going on around you to control you. Paul had given up control long ago, when he first met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. It looked like Rome was in control. But Paul reminds these Philippian Christians that actually Jesus Christ is in control.
Here’s the point...The Roman Officials could never take from Paul what Paul did not possess in the first place.
The officials of the government who were opposing Paul thought they were taking something away from Paul, namely his freedom. They said, "If Paul won’t do what we want him to do then we’ll force him to do what we want."
What Paul was saying is that he’d already given up his rights to Jesus Christ. So the Roman government wasn’t actually taking anything from Paul that he hadn’t already given to Jesus long ago.
Paul was a slave to Jesus not Rome.
Here’s the Paradox: Even though Paul was the one in chains, He was the one who was truly free. And even though the Roman Guards were not bound up by chains their minds and hearts were bound up by bitterness.
The question this brings up is this: Which of the two were truly free? The Apostle Paul or the Roman officials?
Who had more control over their own spirit? Over their own mind? Over their own way of looking at things? Paul in every way was superior to his oppressors in that he was free in the Lord to see life from a heavenly perspective. That made a big difference in the amount of freedom and joy Paul felt.
Victor Frankyl was a Vienesse psychiatrist whose entire family was captured and kept in Concentration camps in Natzi Germany.