Summary: Philippians 1:1-2 shows us the background for Paul's letter to the Philippians.
Several months ago, I gave the elders a list of suggestions for sermon topics. We each chose the ones we thought were important to address for our church, and then we ranked them. Some of the evening sermons this past year were topics that came out of that discussion. One topic suggested, however, was that of “Christian contentment.” Paul addressed the issue of contentment in his letter to the Philippians when he wrote in Philippians 4:11, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” So, rather than do just one sermon on contentment, I have decided to preach a series of sermons on Paul’s letter to the Philippians that I am calling, “The Christian’s Contentment.”
So, let’s read Paul’s greeting to the Philippians in Philippians 1:1-2:
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:1-2)
In his commentary on Paul’s letter to the Philippians, commentator R. Kent Hughes makes an interesting observation. He writes:
This is admittedly subjective, but it seems to me that the four chapters of Philippians have provided more favorite quotes and sound bites than any other section of Scripture of similar length—certainly it has done that for me. Here are some of my favorites:
• “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (1:21)
• “I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (1:23)
• “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (1:27)
• “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others.” (2:3, 4)
• “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (2:5–10)
• “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (2:12, 13)
• “…that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ.” (3:8, 9)
• “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (3:13, 14)
• “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (3:20)
• “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” (4:4)
• “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (4:6, 7)
• “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable…” (4:8)
• “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (4:11)
• “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (4:13)
It is likely that some of these verses are some of your favorite verses too.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is sometimes called “The Epistle of Joy.” In fact, the verb “rejoice” (chairo) appears ninety-six times and the noun “joy” (chara) appears fifty-nine times in the New Testament. These two words appear thirteen times in Philippians. However, the joy that appears in Philippians is a particular kind of joy—the joy of contentment even in difficult circumstances. Paul’s contentment—and his joy—shines vividly when we recall the background to his letter.
Philippians 1:1-2 shows us the background for Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Let’s use the following outline:?
1. The Setting
2. The Servants (1:1a)
3. The Saints (1:1b)
4. The Salutation (1:2)
I. The Setting
First, let’s look at the setting of Paul’s letter to the Philippians.