Summary: Imagine a cold dark prison. You see a prisoner hunched over writing a letter. He is writing a love letter from his prison cell. This love letter is to a church that he loves dearly. You see this man in prison is the Apostle Paul. He is writing this letter
Read: Philippians 1:1-2
Imagine a cold dark prison. You see a prisoner there chained to the guards. This prisoner is unassuming in appearance and for the moment is very quiet. He is hunched over and completely absorbed in a letter he is writing. He is writing a love letter from his prison cell. This love letter is not to his wife or fiancé, but to a church that he loves dearly.
You see this man in prison is the Apostle Paul. He is writing this letter for the church at Philippi. Paul loved the Philippian church very much. He wanted them to know that he was all right. He also wanted to thank them for their faithful gift they had brought to him while there in prison. Paul was conducting a prison ministry. Not a prison ministry like we normally think of in reaching into the prisons. He was inside prison and preaching there. He used his prison like a pulpit to preach the Gospel to all that came into his path.
Paul is writing a letter to the Philippian church to encourage them. You would think it is the one who is in the prison who would need the encouragement. In This situation Paul is in the prison writing a letter of encouragement to the church that he loves so much.
He is writing a thank you note because the church had supported him all throughout his ministry. A Christian Brother, Epaphroditus had brought a gift to him form the church. This brother who brought the gift had become deathly ill. The church had learned of his sever illness and become discouraged.
Just imagine if we had one of our fine young people in our church take a gift to another country to support a missionary there. Could you then imagine we got word back that he was sick and about to die. We would be concerned, worried and probably discouraged. This is what had happened to the church at Philippi. Paul wrote to encourage them that the one who brought the gift was not going to die. He was going to be all right.
Paul had a great emotional tie to this church in Philippi. You can understand the emotional tie Paul had to them when you consider the background of what happened. Paul had been involved in this church at its very beginning and that made his emotions run deep.
Illustration- Church Starting
I remember sitting on an evangelism committee in Inverness Scotland and talking about ways to reach the Kinmylies community. One of the suggestions was to begin a new work. From that point things began to develop until the work formed as a new Church. They called their own pastor and made their own decisions. I was excited to be a part of that from the very beginning. It was exciting to be one of the first ones to preach there in a little mission church that was growing and meeting the needs of the people. Being at this church start from the beginning gave me an emotional attachment for the believers there.
In seminary I went to Iowa to begin a new work in church planting. We began by knocking on doors. We talked to people about the Lord Jesus and invited them to be part of a new worship. We watched the group develop as people began to meet for Bible study. We started worship services in the community center. This fellowship began to grow and when we left one of the members took on the leadership. I was involved from the beginning and it gave me an emotional tie there.
That is the kind of powerful emotional bond that Paul writes with. Think how much we rejoice with our own mission church. I received a call Friday from the Mission Church pastor that they had won a family to the Lord and this new family is now coming to their church. We rejoice and there is an emotional tie. Paul loved the church in Philippi. He was expressing his love to them through a letter.
The work had flourished and it had been a great work. Turn to Acts 16:12. Before we launch into a series of messages on the book of Philippians it will be helpful to get the background of what took place in Philippi. It was a new mission start filled with evidence of the hand of God and the Gospel went forth in miraculous ways. The Lord was at work.
Let’s consider the Apostle Paul and remember that he was not raised in First Baptist Church Jerusalem. As a matter of fact Paul was known as Saul and he studied Judaism under one of the greatest teachers of all times, Gamaliel. He had learned so much that made him zealous for the Jewish faith. It was this zeal that got him in trouble with the Lord. He was zealous, but his zeal was not grounded in truth.