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Themes of Philippians: Chapter One

Philippi ( filʹuh-pī ), an ancient city in northeastern Greece. Its site, dominated by a high acropolis and surrounded by mountains on three sides, lies ten miles inland from the modern port city of Kavalla (ancient Neapolis). 

The history of Philippi before the fourth century b.c. remains obscure, although there are reports of two older settlements on or near the site, Krenides and Datum. Philip II of Macedonia, particularly interested in the nearby gold and silver mines of Mount Pangaeus, annexed the entire region and in 356 b.c. formally established Philippi as a city bearing his own name. Although the extensive city wall which still survives perhaps originated at this time, Philippi remained insignificant until after the Roman conquest of Macedonia in 168-167 b.c. Included by Aemilius Paulus in the first of the four districts into which Macedonia was then divided (Livy, Roman History 45.29; see Acts 16:12), it became a major stopping place on the Via Egnatia, the newly constructed road connecting Byzantium with the Adriatic ports that led to Italy.

Foundation stones of the church at Philippi:

  • People Acts 16:11-15 Lydia
  • Authority Acts 16:16-18 The damsel and the evil spirit.
  • Suffering Acts 16:9-24 Imprisoned
  • Power Acts 16:25-28 Earthquake
  • Commitment Acts 16:29-34 The Philippian jailer.
  • Confidence Acts 16:35-40 Release

1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi , with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God upon every remembrance  of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment  ; 10 That ye may approve  things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The Salutation:

Paul addresses individuals, saints, bishops and deacons. This shows unity of the body, transparency in his motive and desire to communicate with all.

“He which hath begun a good work in you…” We need confidence, not doubt about God’s ability and intention about our lives.

Fruits of righteousness Fruit implies results, rewards or proofs .

Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

James 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ  are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

God has the ability to turn things in the opposite direction. We often fret about negatives and reversals, thinking that God has something against us and is punishing us.

  • Everybody knew about Paul’s imprisonment . He did not see this as a detriment, but as proof of his Apostleship.
  • What would the modern reaction to Paul’s imprisonment be?
  • Protest? Counter suit? Media blitz? Riot? Campaign?
  • Are you guilty of thinking of your circumstances in a negative way? What if you were to take the opposite approach?

14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

What shall we do about un-Christian Christians?

20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

Paul kept his Christianity at the highest level possible. He did not allow it to sink down to the level of:

  • Competition
  • Personal gain
  • Personal peace of mind
  • Pride

Question: What is your bottom line ? At what point would you say, “Enough is enough!” When will it no longer be worth it for you to be a Christian?

Paul based his determination to continue on in his suffering and humiliation on the needs of others, not his own personal agenda .

27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Only do those things that benefit the gospel of Christ.
That which others think is your destruction actually becomes your salvation .
Do we presently have the capacity to suffer for the sake of Christ?

[1] Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, P., & Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). Harper’s Bible dictionary. Includes index. (1st ed.) (785). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

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