TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
SCRIPTURE: PHILIPPIANS 1
AUTHOR: Joe Ligon
These are written by Bro Joe back in 2017. We are on a staff retreat this week, so I am bringing these back into publication.
I thought it might be fitting since we left Paul in jail at the end of Acts, to pick up on the letters that he wrote while imprisoned. This is one of the letters that we call the prison epistles. The other prison epistles include Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon.
One of the interesting things about this and the other prison epistles is Paul would have written them (or dictated them) while chained to a Roman soldier. Paul speaks of the impact of this in verses 12-14. The entire imperial or palace guard knew why Paul was imprisoned. I have often wondered what it must have been like for a Roman guard who was spiritually lost to be chained to the Apostle Paul for six hours at a time. The other effect of Paul’s boldness while imprisoned is that other Christ-followers found their courage and voice and shared the Gospel fearlessly (verse 14)
As this letter opens, we find a similar pattern in the greeting that Paul used in most of his letters. He identified himself and, in this case, Timothy. Then he greeted the recipients of the letter. I think it is telling that Paul first mentioned “all the saints” and then mentioned the overseers or bishops and the deacons. I realize the term overseer and bishop are not used in our Southern Baptist life. Those are almost synonymous terms that refer to what we would call the pastor.
From the world’s view, a letter to a group of people would almost always be addressed to the leaders or the people in charge of that group. But that is not the case in Paul’s writing. He mentions “all the saints” or all the folks in the Philippian church first and then the leadership. And that is the way it should be. In the church, leaders are supposed to be last.
As you read through this first chapter, I want you to notice the progression. Paul says that the Philippians were on his mind. Next, he said they were in his heart. And finally, he says they were in his prayers.
There are a couple of rather famous statements in this chapter that I want to call your attention to next. The first one is found in verse 6: “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”. What an incredible statement of assurance. Our relationship with Jesus can be divided into three sections: salvation, sanctification, and glorification. What this verse reminds us of here is priceless. First of all, salvation is the work of God in you. He is the one that saves. Secondly, once God initiates salvation, it is His responsibility to carry it through to glorification. That doesn’t mean we don’t have some responsibilities between salvation and glorification. But it does mean that what God starts, God finishes.
The other rather famous statement that Paul makes in this chapter is found in verse 21: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”. Paul goes on then to say that he doesn’t know which he would choose because he could see good in both. It is interesting that Paul could view death as gain. Almost everyone in our culture sees death as a loss. But not Paul. He had seen the risen Savior on the road to Damascus. He had been given a glimpse of the third heaven. So, he knew some of the glory that awaited him when he died. But as he says in verse 24, it would be better for the church at Philippi if he lived so that he could be a help to them.