Philippians 1:1-8

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

September 4, 2002



When Paul was arrested in Jerusalem for allegedly bringing a Gentile into the temple, he was brought to Caesarea in Palestine to await his trial. He stayed in jail in Caesarea for two years, then when he appealed, he was sent to Rome. While in Rome, he was allowed to keep his own apartment, but he was also chained to a Roman guard twenty-four hours a day. These guards were known as the Praetorian Guards, part of a group of 10,000 soldiers whose job it was to protect Caesar.

It is under these conditions, somewhere around the years 61-63 A.D. that Paul writes several letters known as the “Prison Epistles”. These include the letters of Paul to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.

: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:

TimotheusTimotheos – (Timothy) “honouring God”; a resident of Lystra, apparently, whose father was a Greek and mother a Jewess; he was Paul’s traveling companion and fellow laborer

servantsdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition; metaph., one who gives himself up to another’s will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men; devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests

God desires that we all be servants of Jesus Christ.

There is a sense in which we are to serve one another. But we also need to be careful about who our eyes are upon. When we have our eyes upon serving others, and our eyes are on those people, we will find ourselves disappointed over and over again.

God wants us to keep it straight. We are servants of Jesus. He will never disappoint you.

We are to give up our own interests in life and be devoted to the interests of Jesus Christ.

saintshagios – most holy thing, a saint

These were not people who walked around with shiny golden rings floating above their heads. These were not necessarily people that the Catholic church later approved to be a “saint”.

The New Testament concept of “saint” is a believer. Every believer is a “saint”. Every believer has been “set aside” for God’s special use (the definition of “holy”).

Each one of us in this room who are believers in Jesus Christ are “saints”. Maybe you should greet one another again, “Hello Saint Bob …”

PhilippiPhilippoi – “Lover of horses”; a city of Macedonia located on or near the northern coast of the Aegean Sea, between the rivers Strymon and Nestus, and the cities Neapolis and Amphipolis

From Easton’s Dictionary: Philip of Macedonia fortified the old Thracian town of Crenides, and called it after his own name Philippi (B.C. 359) In the time of the Emperor Augustus this city became a Roman colony, i.e., a military settlement of Roman soldiers, there planted for the purpose of controlling the district recently conquered. It was a "miniature Rome," under the municipal law of Rome, and governed by military officers, called duumviri, who were appointed directly from Rome.

Paul also wrote to the …

bishopsepiskopos – an overseer; a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent; the superintendent, elder, or overseer of a Christian church

These were probably more like our “pastors”.

deaconsdiakonos – one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master, a servant, attendant, minister; the servant of a king; a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use; a waiter, one who serves food and drink

The word “deacon” means “servant”. Sometimes you will find churches using titles like “elder” and “deacon” in a way that makes you think that one person is more special than another. This should not be so. A “deacon” is one who serves in the church faithfully.

:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

gracecharis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will, loving-kindness, favour; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

peaceeirene – a state of national tranquillity; exemption from the rage and havoc of war; peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord; security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous); of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is

This is a typical greeting among Christians of the first century.

The order is always “grace” and then “peace”.

I think this is because you can not know God’s “peace” until you begin to understand His “grace”.

I cannot know “peace” in my life until I understand that my relationship with God is based on His unmerited favor towards me, and not because of my good works.

:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

I thankeucharisteo – to be grateful, feel thankful; give thanks

remembrancemneia – remembrance, memory, mention

Paul looked back fondly at his memories of the church in Philippi.

This was a church that Paul had founded, along with the help of Silas and Timothy (Acts 16:12-40)
The church began with a group of folks meeting down by a river. A wealthy woman named Lydia got saved, and they began meeting in her house. This became the first church in Europe.
A young slave girl who told fortunes by being possessed with a demon began to follow Paul around until after several days, Paul turned and cast the demon out of the girl. When her masters found out what had happened, they had Paul and Silas beaten and thrown into jail.
At midnight, Paul and Silas were singing praises to God when an earthquake struck.

(Acts 16:25 KJV) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

The jailer was going to kill himself because he expected all the prisoners to have fled, but when he found that they were all still there, he ended up getting saved.
Later, when the city officials found out that Paul was a Roman citizen, they had Paul released and asked him to leave the city.
It appears that later, when Paul had gone on to Berea and Thessalonica, he sent Silas and Timothy back through Macedonia to strengthen the churches (Acts 17:14; 18:5).


How do you remember things?

I imagine that Paul could have thought of Philippi and thought of being beaten and jailed. He could have remembered the pest that the demon-possessed girl was.
Instead, he remembered the saints and his fondness for them.

:4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,

prayerdeesis – need, indigence, want, privation, penury; a seeking, asking, entreating, entreaty to God or to man

making requestdeesis – need, indigence, want, privation, penury; a seeking, asking, entreating, entreaty to God or to man

We’ll look next week at some of the things that Paul prayed for the Philippians (1:9-11).

joychara – joy, gladness

One of the main words you’ll see through Philippians is joy (and rejoicing).


Restoring the joy

God desires that our lives be filled with His joy.
But sometimes the tough things of life can drag us down.
Paul had great difficulties in Philippi, yet he was still singing praises at midnight.
His joy wasn’t based upon his present circumstances. His joy was based in his relationship with Jesus.
David went through a time of great sadness when he fell into sin.
When he confessed his sin, he also asked God to restore his joy.

(Psa 51:8-13 KJV) Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. {9} Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. {10} Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. {11} Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. {12} Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. {13} Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

My prayer for many of us is that God will restore our joy as we study the book of Philippians.
Our joy is found in the Lord.

:5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

fellowshipkoinonia – fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse; a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship

From the very beginning of the Philippian church, these folks had helped to support Paul financially. For this he is grateful.

Note: Paul isn’t saying that he is praying for them to support him. He prays for them because they support him.

(Phil 1:5 NLT) because you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it 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:

being confidentpeitho – persuade; to persuade; be persuaded; to trust, have confidence, be confident

which hath begunenarchomai – to begin, to make a beginning

will performepiteleo – to bring to an end, accomplish, perfect, execute, complete


God isn’t finished with you yet

Sometimes we wonder if the work God is doing in us will ever be finished.

Miracle House

One woman writes, “My engineer husband is meticulous but mild-mannered. While our new house was being built, he would leave notes for the workmen, politely calling their attention to mistakes or oversights. Two weeks before we were to move in, the floors still were not finished; the bathrooms not tiled, nor were necessary fixtures installed. I was sure that the work would never be completed in time. However, on moving day, we found that the house was ready to receive us. Curious as to how this miracle had been accomplished, I went and checked where my husband always left his notes for the workmen. Posted prominently on the living room wall was my husband’s last note: “after September 15, all work will be supervised by 5 children.””

God doesn’t need any motivation. He’s planning on finishing the work He’s begun in you.

God knows what He has in mind for you. He has plans for you.
(Jer 29:11 KJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Once someone came on Michelangelo chipping away with his chisel at a huge shapeless piece of rock. He asked the sculptor what he was doing. “I am releasing the angel imprisoned in this marble,” he answered.
The things that Jesus is doing in our lives aren’t some thing already hidden inside of us, He’s doing His own work, a new work in our lives. But He sees where we’re going. He has things in mind for what we are to be.
God’s plans for us include good things that He wants to do in us.
(Eph 2:10 KJV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The Teacup

An American couple went to Europe, to England and they were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Both the man and the wife were connoisseurs and fanciers of pottery, antiques and China. When they came to Sussex they went into a Little China shop. Their eyes singled out a beautiful little tea cup on the top shelf. The man said, “Can I see that, that’s the most beautiful tea cup I’ve ever seen. “And as he was holding the tea cup the tea cup begins to speak.

It said, “You don’t understand, I haven’t always been a tea cup. There was a time when I was red and that I was clay. My master took me and he rolled me and he patted me over and over and over. I yelled out “Let me alone “but he only smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then I was placed on a spinning wheel, suddenly I was spun around and around and around.” Stop it I’m getting dizzy,” I said. The master only nodded and said “Not yet” Then he put me in an oven, I’d never felt such heat. I wondered why he wanted to burn me and I yelled and I knocked on the door and I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips. As he nodded his head he said “not yet.” Finally the door did open “whew”, and he put me on a shelf and I began to cool. “That’s better” I said. And then suddenly he grabbed me and he brushed me and he began to paint me all over. I thought I would suffocate, I thought I would gag, the fumes were horrible. And he just smiled and said, “Not yet”. And then suddenly he put me back into an oven, not the first one but one twice as hot, and I knew that I was going to suffocate. And I begged and I screamed and I yelled, and all the time I could see him through the opening, smiling and nodding his head, “not yet, not yet. And then I knew that there was no hope, I knew that I wouldn’t make it. I was just ready to give up when the door opened and he took me out and he put me on a shelf .Then an hour later he came back and he handed me a mirror and he said “Look at yourself”. And I did. And I said, “That can’t be me, I’m beautiful!” “I want you to remember,” he then said, “I know that it hurt to be rolled and to be patted but if I would have left you, you would have dried out. And I know that it made you dizzy to spin you around and around on a spinning wheel but if I had stopped you would have crumbled. And I know that it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven but if I hadn’t put you there you would have cracked. And I know that the fumes were oh so bad when I brushed you and when I painted you all over, but you see, if I hadn’t done that you wouldn’t have hardened and there would have been no color in your life. And if I hadn’t put you in that second oven you wouldn’t have survived for very long. The hardness would not have held. But now you are a finished product. You are what I had in mind when I first began with you.”

: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.

meetdikaios – righteous, observing divine laws; in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God

to thinkphroneo – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to have an opinion of one’s self, think of one’s self, to be modest, not let one’s opinion (though just) of himself exceed the bounds of modesty; to think or judge what one’s opinion is; to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for

bondsdesmon – a band or bond; Paul was chained to a Roman guard.

the defenceapologia – verbal defence, speech in defence; a reasoned statement or argument

confirmationbebaiosis – confirmation; from bebaioo – to make firm, establish, confirm, make sure

the gospeleuaggelion – a reward for good tidings; good tidings; the glad tidings of salvation through Christ; the gospel

are partakerssugkoinonos – participant with others in anything, joint partner

gracecharis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech; good will, loving-kindness, favour; of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

(Phil 1:7 NLT)  It is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a very special place in my heart. We have shared together the blessings of God, both when I was in prison and when I was out, defending the truth and telling others the Good News.


:8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

recordmartus – a witness

I long afterepipotheo – to long for, desire; to pursue with love, to long after; to lust, harbour forbidden desire

bowelssplagchnon – bowels, intestines, (the heart, lungs, liver, etc.); the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, esp. kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections, etc.); a heart in which mercy resides

Paul had a great love for these people.


Loving one another

Charles Swindoll writes,
An old Marine Corps buddy of mine, to my pleasant surprise, came to know Christ after he was discharged. I say surprise because he cursed loudly, fought hard, chased women, drank heavily, loved war and weapons, and hated chapel services.
A number of months ago, I ran into this fellow, and after we'd talked awhile, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "You know, Chuck, the only thing I still miss is that old fellowship I used to have with all the guys down at the tavern. I remember how we used to sit around and let our hair down. I can't find anything like that for Christians. I no longer have a place to admit my faults and talk about my battles--where somebody won't preach at me and frown and quote me a verse."
It wasn't one month later that in my reading I came across this profound paragraph: "The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit that there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give his church. It's an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality--but it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets, and they usually don't tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers. With all my heart," this writer concludes, "I believe that Christ wants his church to be unshockable, a fellowship where people can come in and say, 'I'm sunk, I'm beat, I've had it.' Alcoholics Anonymous has this quality--our churches too often miss it."
Now before you take up arms to shoot some wag that would compare your church to the corner bar, stop and ask yourself some tough questions, like I had to do. Make a list of some possible embarrassing situations people may not know how to handle.
A woman discovers her husband is a practicing homosexual. Where in the church can she find help where she's secure with her secret?
Your mate talks about separation or divorce. To whom do you tell it?
Your daughter is pregnant and she's run away--for the third time. She's no longer listening to you. Who do you tell that to?
You lost your job, and it was your fault. You blew it, so there's shame mixed with unemployment. Who do you tell that to?
Financially, you were unwise, and you're in deep trouble. Or a man's wife is an alcoholic. Or something as horrible as getting back the biopsy from the surgeon, and it reveals cancer, and the prognosis isn't good. Or you had an emotional breakdown. To whom do you tell it?
We're the only outfit I know that shoots its wounded. We can become the most severe, condemning, judgmental, guilt-giving people on the face of planet Earth, and we claim it's in the name of Jesus Christ. And all the while, we don't even know we're doing it. That's the pathetic part of it all.

-- Charles Swindoll, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 1.

Jesus said that the sign to the world that we belong to Him was in how much we love each other.

(John 13:34-35 KJV) A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. {35} By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
It wasn’t in how well we understood the doctrine of predestination (though that is an important thing).
It wasn’t in whether or not we performed great miracles or used spiritual gifts (though those are important things).
It was whether or not we loved each other like Jesus loves us.