The pattern of ancient letters was for the writer to first identify himself or herself (as opposed to letters today that are signed at the end). Paul always declared his Christian faith from the very start. Paul and Timothy were not just servants, they were servants of the divine Lord, Christ Jesus himself. The Greek word translated “servant,” means “slave,” one who is subject to the will and wholly at the disposal of his master. Paul expressed his and Timothy’s absolute devotion and subjection to Christ Jesus.
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Philippians 1:1
|LIFE APPLICATION – SERVING|
|The work that servants perform benefits both their masters and those whom their masters wish to help. When we serve others, as Paul did, we can call ourselves servants of Christ Jesus. We serve Christ by serving them. Jesus made our servant job description very clear during his last evening with his disciples. After washing their feet, he said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). What can you do to serve others this week?|
Together with the overseers and deacons. While Paul greeted all the “saints,” meaning the entire church, he singled out the church’s leadership for greetings as well. Overseers (also called elders) were in charge of the church, “overseeing” it—watching over, nourishing, and protecting the spiritual life of the believers. The church in Philippi had several overseers drawn from the church membership. Paul had appointed overseers in various churches during his journeys: “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust” (Acts 14:23 niv). In Acts 20:28, Paul spoke to the “elders” in the Ephesian church: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers” (niv). The sheer number of churches meant that neither Paul himself, his companions, nor all the apostles could administer the day-to-day workings of each church. So Paul wisely set up groups of leaders, allowing church members to govern themselves with guidance from the apostles. The new churches needed strong spiritual leadership. The men and women chosen were to lead the churches by teaching sound doctrine, helping believers mature spiritually, and equipping them to live for Jesus Christ despite opposition. The qualifications and duties of the overseers are explained in detail in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9.
|LIFE APPLICATION – TEAM SPIRIT|
|Paul knew that God had given him unusual spiritual gifts and a special mission, but he also knew that he was not a one-man band.|
|Right away, before his teaching and doctrine and pastoral words, Paul displayed his team spirit, referring to Timothy, the deacons, the elders, and all the Christian brothers and sisters near and far.|
|We who are “in Christ Jesus” need each other. A one-person team will not stay in the game for long. Neither will your team if you drop out. Christians need to work together, side by side, to see God’s kingdom grow.|
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:2
Paul used grace and peace as a standard greeting in all his letters. Grace and peace were the typical Greek and Hebrew greetings (respectively) utilized by Paul to express God’s desire for the believers’ well-being. “Grace” is God’s undeserved favor—his loving-kindness shown to sinners whereby he saves them and gives them strength to live for him; “peace” refers to the peace that Christ made between sinners and God through his death on the cross. “Peace” also refers to that inner assurance and tranquility that God places in the heart, producing confidence and contentment in Christ. Only God can grant such wonderful gifts. Paul wanted his readers to experience God’s grace and peace in their daily living.
The world offers a temporary and counterfeit version of grace and peace. Grace might be considered luck; peace might be seen as the absence of conflict. But for believers in Philippi and today, God’s blessings are not the result of luck, but because of God’s grace; peace is not a fragile calm, but an inner security. Grace and peace are abundant and available even in troubles, conflicts, and turmoil. Paul was in prison and the Philippians were experiencing persecution (1:28-30), yet Paul greeted them with the assurance of grace and peace.
|LIFE APPLICATION – UNOPENED GIFTS|
|We get upset at children who fail to appreciate small gifts, yet we undervalue God’s immeasurable gifts of grace and peace. Instead, we seek the possessions and shallow experiences the world offers. “Grace” and “peace” easily become common religious words rather than names for very real benefits that God offers to us. Compared to the big and bright “packages” of our culture, grace and peace appear insignificant. But when we unwrap them, we discover God’s wonderful personal dealings with us. Not a single heartbeat or breath occurs outside of God’s grace. We live because of his divine favor. His favor cannot be earned by effort or bought with money. Jesus calmly spoke of “peace” as a personal possession that he gladly left to those who would follow him (John 14:27). Inside the tiny package marked “Grace and Peace,” we find an inexhaustible treasure of God’s daily presence in our lives. Using these two words in his greeting to the churches, Paul wasn’t offering something new. He was reminding his readers of what they already possessed in Christ. Thank God for his grace, and live in his peace.|
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Philippians 1:3
In these words, Paul expressed his love for the Philippian believers. Every time he thought about the Philippians, he thanked God for them. The Philippian church had brought Paul much joy and little pain. Some of the churches had developed severe problems, and Paul’s letters had focused on dealing with the problems. For example, the churches in Rome and Galatia were threatened by Judaizers, who wanted the believers to return to obeying the Jewish law; the church in Corinth was plagued by internal strife; the church in Ephesus was being plagued by false teachers; the church in Colosse was turning away to a heresy all its own; the church in Thessalonica was dealing with false rumors about Paul, disrespect toward leaders, laziness among the members, and false teaching about the resurrection. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, while mentioning some concerns and giving some advice, could be considered a beautiful thank-you note for their unwavering support.
|LIFE APPLICATION – CLASS REUNION|
|Assemble a group of old classmates, or army buddies, or teammates, and memories become so vivid you can almost reach out and touch them. Paul hinted that such memories can put new energy into prayer. Try this:|
|l Today when a bank clerk reminds you of a friend from long ago, pause for a moment to pray for them.|
|l When a kid on a bike reminds you of a grandchild, take a minute to pray for them.|
|l When a song reminds you of an old boyfriend or girlfriend, pray for that person you once couldn’t get out of your mind.|
|l When a different dialect jogs your memory of a foreign friend, pray for Christians in his or her country (and for your friend too).|
|Let your memories spark the engine of prayer. And let people know that you thank God when you think of them.|
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.NIV Philippians 1:4-5
|LIFE APPLICATION – REMEMBERED WITH JOY|
|The Philippians were willing to be used by God for whatever he wanted them to do. When others think about you, what comes to their minds? Are you remembered with joy by them? Do your acts of kindness lift up others?|
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus Philippians 1:6
The verb tense indicates that Paul had been confident from the first, and he was still confident to that very day, of God’s continued work to transform the lives of the Philippian believers. He refers to God; the good work refers to God’s salvation and continued perfecting of the believers. God’s goal for believers is that they be “conformed to the likeness of his Son.
|LIFE APPLICATION – NO “INCOMPLETES”|
|Do you sometimes feel as though you aren’t making progress in your spiritual life? When God starts a project, he completes it! As with the Philippians, God will help you grow in grace until he has completed his work in your life. When you are discouraged, remember that God won’t give up on you. He promises to finish the work he has begun. When you feel incomplete, unfinished, or distressed by your shortcomings, remember and be confident in God’s promise and provision. Don’t let your present condition rob you of the joy of knowing Christ or keep you from growing closer to him.|
God who began a good work of redemption in us will carry it on to completion throughout our lifetime and then finish it when we meet him face-to-face. God’s work for us began when Christ died on the cross in our place. His work in us began when we first believed. Now the Holy Spirit lives in us, enabling us to be more like Christ every day. God not only initiates our salvation, he guarantees its fulfillment.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart. Philippians 1:7
|LIFE APPLICATION – IN THE HEART|
|You’ve heard you have a duty serve others selflessly. Now go one step further: put those people in your heart.|
|Doctors take an oath, a symbol of their duty to heal. Judges promise to render decisions “without fear or favor,” a duty to fairness. Christians are to share the gospel and minister to people’s needs, but in this case, duty alone isn’t enough.|
|Do you have anyone in your heart? With that person, you don’t calculate costs or punch a time clock. The energy you exert is borne on wings of love; the times you give are the happiest moments of your day.|
|Open your heart to another person today. Turn duty into love, a job into joy.|
For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:8
|LIFE APPLICATION – LONGING TO SEE|
|Have you ever longed to see a friend with whom you share fond memories? Paul had such a longing to see the Christians at Philippi. His love and affection for them was based not merely on past experiences, but also on the unity that comes when believers draw upon Christ’s love. All Christians are part of God’s family and thus share equally in the transforming power of his love. Do you feel a deep love for fellow Christians, friends and strangers alike? Let Christ’s love motivate you to love other Christians and to express that love in your actions toward them.|
So that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. Philippians 1:10
|LIFE APPLICATION – WHO’S IN CHARGE?|
|If your God is second fiddle, then your God is too small. The God of the Bible is “sovereign,” meaning nobody has more power.|
|God’s sovereign action is the Christian’s belief that all of life, the good and the ugly, happens under the eyes and loving will of the universal ruler. Nothing happens that God does not know about. And while God does not approve of the evil people do, God controls even that and will judge it one day, as befits a righteous king.|
|What is best is to put your life fully in the hands of the sovereign God, who doesn’t miss anything and who loves you with the same boundlessness with which he rules all of creation.|
One day you will stand before God. If you placed your faith in Christ you will be pure and blameless.
For more on the series, Hope Again or to watch messages, go to www.RidgeFellowship.com
Source: Life Application Bible Commentary – Philippians, Colossians, & Philemon.