Summary: The church consists of all those who committed to and dependent upon Christ in all things.
The Nature Of The Church
Text: Phil. 1:1-2
1. Illustration: Three pastors got together for coffee one day and found all their churches had bat-infestation problems. "I got so mad," said one, "I took a shotgun and fired at them. It made holes in the ceiling, but did nothing to the bats." "I tried trapping them alive," said the second. "Then I drove 50 miles before releasing them, but they beat me back to the church." "I haven't had any more problems," said the third. "What did you do?" asked the others, amazed. "I simply baptized and confirmed them," he replied. "I haven't seen them since."
2. Ever since we purchased our building back in August we have talked a lot about the church as a building. However, the building is not the church; we are the church.
3. As we begin this series on Paul's Letter to the Philippians we are going to answer the question "What is the nature of the church?"
4. The nature of the church is that...
a. We belong to Christ
b. We are family
c. We live in God's favor
5. Let's stand together as we read Phil. 1:1-2
Proposition: The church consists of all those who committed to and dependent upon Christ in all things.
Transition: First, let us consider that...
I. We Belong To Christ (1a).
A. Slaves of Christ
1. To understand what Paul is writing to the Philippian church we must first consider some background.
a. As Paul wrote this letter, he was under house arrest in Rome.
b. When the Philippian church had heard about Paul’s imprisonment, they had sent Epaphroditus (who may have been one their elders) to Rome to visit and encourage him.
c. Epaphroditus had arrived with words of affection from the church, as well as a financial contribution that would help make Paul’s confinement more comfortable.
d. Paul wanted to thank the believers for helping him during his time of need. He also wanted to tell them why he could be full of joy despite his imprisonment and upcoming trial.
e. He wanted them to remain strong in the faith, realizing that although he was in chains for the gospel, God was still in control and the truth of the gospel remained unchanged.
f. In this uplifting letter, Paul counseled the Philippians about humility and unity and warned them about potential problems they would fac (Barton, Life Application New Testament Commentary, 843).
g. Paul had arrived in Rome around A.D. 59 and had spent two years under house arrest. The letter to the Philippians was probably written toward the end of Paul’s imprisonment there, in A.D. 61 (Barton 843).
2. However, Paul's name isn't the only attached to this letter.
a. Timothy was a frequent visitor during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome and was with Paul when he wrote this letter.
b. Then Timothy went as Paul’s emissary to the church in Philippi. Timothy had a special interest in the Philippians, for he had traveled with Paul on his second missionary journey when the church at Philippi had begun.
c. Although he is mentioned in the salutation, Timothy is not considered a coauthor. Paul wrote in the first person throughout this letter.
d. Paul and Timothy had developed a special bond, like father and son.
e. Paul had led Timothy to Christ during his first missionary journey.
f. Timothy would become an important leader in the early church and, like Paul, eventually would be imprisoned for his faith.
3. Take notice of how Paul refers to himself and Timothy. He calls them, "slaves of Christ Jesus..."
a. "Slaves" (douloi) suggests submission without servility, slavery that is motivated by love, and service of a willing spirit.(The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon, 182.
b. To the readers of this letter they would have only known it as "slave."
c. They were common in Greco-Roman society and no one would have thought it to mean anything other than a person who was owned by another person.
d. As such, they would have been subject to that person as the head of the household.
e. In this context it would have referred to someone who was a servant of God and would have carried the idea of distance from and dependence upon God.
f. What Paul is saying is that they are Christ's slaves, and as such bound to his as their master, but whose slavery is a loving and willing service of Christ for the Philippians.
g. This is to be a common theme in Philippians, because everything is in, of, by, and for Christ Jesus.
h. He is the basis of their common existence and focus of their partnership in the Gospel (Fee, NICNT: Philippians, 63-64).
i. All true Christians are slaves of Jesus Christ. We are bought and owned by him not because we are forced to, but rather because we choose it.