The Joyous Letter to the Philippians
Scripture: Philippians 1:1–2
Paul, Philippi, church, Timothy, Christ, Philippians, saints, joy, called, verse, gospel, God, letter, Rome, chapter, Lord, life, Christ Jesus, prison, slaves
Table of Contents
If you're here for the first time, what we do here at Faith Bible Church is we take a book of the Bible and we go through it line by line. We want to unpack all of the riches of God's Word of God's truth. And the best way to do that is to study a book in the context in which it was written. So that we can come to the proper meaning that God intended when He wrote to us in His Word. This is what we call expository preaching. Exposition simply means to set forth the meaning or to explain. That's what we want to do this morning, to explain what God has to say. And that's what God calls on all pastors to do. It’s the duty and the job of all pastors, we must give God's people the meaning of God's Word, just as He intended it. So, we do expository preaching.
If you've joined us this morning, for the first time, we want to welcome you, it's a good day for you to be here. Because you're going to begin Philippians with us, and I hope you stay with us throughout the entirety of Philippians and on.
If you haven't already open your Bibles, I would encourage you to open your Bibles to Philippians chapter one. And let me read our passage for us this morning, Philippians chapter one, verses one and two. Follow along as I read our text, "Paul and Timothy, Bond servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons, Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:1-2)
Jonathan Edwards was a Puritan preacher during the Great Awakening of the 18th century. He is regarded by many as the greatest theologian in American history. You may know Edwards by his famous sermon titled "Sinners in the hands of an angry God." He also preached another sermon titled "The justice of God and the damnation of sinners." And you would think that a preacher and a theologian preaching sermons like that, that Edwards would be known as the theologian of sin, or maybe the theologian of God's wrath. Maybe those would be the theological topics that Edwards would be most well known for. However, those who have studied the life, and the teaching and the preaching of Jonathan Edwards, calls him the theologian of joy. One author says about Edwards, "he saw that joy is not an optional addition to godliness, but rather it is the driving force. It is central, not peripheral. Joy is the fuel of, not a bonus to Christian living."
Now, why do I bring up Jonathan Edwards as a theologian of joy. Well, if Edwards was the theologian of joy in the 18th century, the apostle Paul was the theologian of joy in the early church. Life was not easy for Edwards, during his life and his ministry in the early to mid-1700s. Life wasn't easy for the apostle Paul either. And yet both of them understood joy.
- In fact, as we will see as we work our way through Philippians joy is a major theme in this book. Joy is found 16 times in this letter. Paul begins by telling the Philippians that he prays with joy for them. He will command the church to rejoice four times in the middle of this letter. And then he will close this letter rejoicing because he's received the gift that the Philippian church had sent to him -- a financial gift. This is a letter that's filled with joy.
- Another theme that we're going to see in this book is the theme of unity. Unity. There was some fighting that was going on at the church at Philippi. And Paul commands the church to be united. In fact, he even called some women out by name to make sure that there is unity within the church. He desires a church to be unified.
- Another theme that we're going to see is how to handle life in the midst of great opposition. Great opposition against these Philippians and against the Apostle Paul himself. As we're going to see, Paul is actually writing this letter from prison. This is what is known as a prison epistle. The Philippians, they know of the opposition that he has endured because of the gospel, and he writes to encourage them in the midst of opposition in their life as well.
- Another major theme that we're going to see in this letter is that of the mind, the mind, that is how to think. The word "to think" in the Greek is phroneo, and in all of Paul's letters, he uses it a total of 23 times. 23 times. In Philippians alone it is found 10 times in this small little letter, it's found 10 times -- more than any other single letter that Paul wrote. Why is Paul concerned about the mind? Why does Paul write to this church about the mind and how to think? Because he wants us to have the mind of Christ. He wants His church, Christ's Church, to have the mind of Christ and to think biblically about every issue.
In fact in Philippians 4:8 we see this verse that many of you probably memorized at some point at a VBS, or Sunday school somewhere, Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence, and if anything worthy of praise," he says, "dwell on these things." That word dwell, in the Greek, is the word logizomai. And it means to give careful thought, or to think. Paul wants the church to think biblically.
In fact, one commentator outlines the whole book around the theme of the mind. He says this in chapter one, he would title it a united mind. Chapter two he titles an unselfish mind in chapter three, an undistracted mind, and then in chapter four, an undivided mind. He breaks this whole book up around the mind, and how to think, to think biblically, that obviously won't be our outline. But it gives us a pretty good understanding of the flow of thought through this letter.
So those are the major themes of Philippians.
Now as we come to Philippians, you know that I just can't take large portions of this and run through them quickly, right? We can't do that we got to; we got to dive into this. I have to explain some things to you to help you understand what's going on in this amazing, joyous letter. So I want to begin by giving you a little bit of background. Turn in your Bibles over to Acts chapter 16. Acts chapter 16, is going to give us some background, to this church, at Philippi, the Philippian church. And in Acts chapter 16, this is Paul on his second missionary journey. In Acts 16 verse 11, it says this. “So putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis; 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were staying in this city for some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.” (Acts 16:11-13) Now, notice Philippi in verse 12, is a leading city of the district of Macedonia. The city was originally founded by Philip the second of Macedon who was the father of Alexander the Great.
In the second century BC, Philippi became a part of the Roman province of Macedonia. In 42 BC Antony and Octavian defeated Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi, establishing Philippi as a Roman colony. In verse 12 tells us that it was a leading city in the district of Macedonia. Now, what's interesting is that the city was located about 11 miles from the port city of Neapolis, which we see there in verse 11. See that city there...Neapolis. It was located Philippi was located on the east west commercial trade route, famously known as the Via Egnatia. This was a very privileged city.
It was strategically located for gospel proclamation as people traveled the Via Egnatia, all the time doing commercial business, traveling from Rome. They would travel on the Via Egnatia, they would come through the city of Philippi. And since it was a Roman colony, that put it on equal grounds with all of the other Roman colonies in Italy, which meant the citizens of Philippi were considered to be citizens of Rome. And they were very proud of this. It was a lot of pride from the people in Philippi. This is going to come into play when we get into Philippians chapter 3.
Being a Roman colony, it was also a very Roman city. In fact, so Roman, that some say that Philippi was made to be a miniature reproduction of the city of Rome. It was heavily Gentile, with just very few Jews there. In fact, notice what Paul did is he came into the city on the Sabbath day in verse 13. Look at what he says there. And on the Sabbath day, we went outside the gate to a river. Now, what was his custom to do when Paul came into a city? What was he to do? He normally went where? To the synagogue, he would go to the synagogue. But notice as he comes into the city of Philippi, there is no synagogue for him to go to. Because there weren't a lot of Jews in that city. In fact, it was a requirement for there to be a minimum of 10 Jewish men in the city to start a synagogue. So, it's heavily Gentile, with a few Jews that are there. The fact that there wasn't a synagogue tells us that there weren't a lot of Jews there in this city.
And so, Paul and Silas along with Timothy and Luke, we know that Timothy and Luke were with them traveling as well. They go down by the river, and they meet some Jewish women who were there praying. Since these women didn't have a synagogue to go to, they went down to the river to pray and to worship and to recite Old Testament scripture. That's what they would do in their worship. And Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke, they begin to preach the gospel to these women as they're there down by the river.
Look at verse 14. A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.” (Acts 16:14-15) meaning she convinced them to stay at her home. She was a convincing woman. So, we see Lydia gets saved. She then gives Paul and Silas a place to stay, and the church begins then in her home. That's where this church begins. The church at Philippi began with faithful women. Faithful women who were down by the river praying.
Now, we won't go through the rest of this chapter. But the church is birthed in Philippi. It’s birthed in Philippi. And we see in verse 40, they went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw their brethren, they encouraged them and departed. A faithful church started by some faithful women and a Gentile jailer and his family who met in the home of a faithful woman.
What happens there, as Paul and Silas are thrown in prison for preaching the gospel, they get thrown in prison, they begin praying and singing hymns as they're there in chains. A great earthquake happens, the doors open up, and they're now able to leave the prison. And the jailer, thinking he's gonna be in big trouble that these guys escaped. He goes to kill himself. But Paul and Silas say stop! Don't do it. Don't kill yourself. So, the jailer asked “Sirs, what must I do to be saved.” (Acts 16:30) And they said, “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) And they did just that. A Gentile jailer gets saved -- him and his household, and they begin then to meet at the home of Lydia.
Now what happens is Paul continues on his second missionary journey. He continues on in his missionary journey leaves Philippi and goes to a lot of other places. On his third missionary journey is a short visit again in Philippi. We see this in Acts 20 in verse six. He makes his way back to Jerusalem where he's arrested. And he eventually gets sent to Rome, because as a Roman citizen, he appeals his case to Caesar. He wants to go to Caesar. After a few years in Rome, Paul is toward the end of his imprisonment there. And he writes this letter then to the church at Philippi. This is what is called a prison epistle, because he's writing from prison. And he writes from prison in Rome. Along with Ephesians, and Colossians, and Philemon, those are prison epistles as well.
Now, how do we know that Paul was in prison during this time? Turn back over to Philippians. Paul gives us some helpful hints in the letter to the Philippians. And look at Philippians chapter one and verse seven, "For, it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me." (Philippians 1:7) Notice what he says there that he is in prison in his imprisonment. He goes down to verse 12. "Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear." (Phil 1:12) Paul tells us that he is in prison. And the fact that he mentioned the praetorian guard there in verse 13, tells us that he is in Rome. There's disagreement among scholars on this. But it's very clear from the Scripture that Paul is in Rome, and he's in prison.
He also says in chapter four and verse 22, all the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household, Caesar's household. So obviously, if there are saints who belong to Caesar, who send a greeting back to the church at Philippi, this would tell us that Paul is in Rome. He's in prison in Rome. And he's toward the end of his imprisonment. How do we know that? Look at chapter two and verse 23, chapter two and verse 23. "Therefore, I hope to send him immediately," speaking of Timothy, "as soon as I see how things go with me, and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly." (Phil 2:23) See that there. Paul wants to send Timothy to Philippi to serve them-- to serve the church there, but he also mentions that he will be going there shortly. Meaning he's about to be released from prison. So, Paul writes this letter from prison in Rome toward the end of his two year imprisonment, there.
Now, think about a letter or an email that you have written lately. Why did you write that letter? Why did you write that email to that person that you wrote to? There was a purpose in it right? Paul has a purpose in writing to the Philippians as well. He's not just writing something randomly, but he has a purpose in why he writes to these Philippians.
- First, they had sent him a financial gift to take care of him. We see this in chapter four and verse 10. And it was a man named Epaphroditus, who had brought it to Paul. We see that in chapter two. (Phil 2:25) And so Paul writes this letter to the Philippians to thank them for it.
- When Epaphroditus arrives in Rome, where Paul is in chains, Epaphroditus must have updated Paul on what was going on in this church. Epaphroditus arrives and Paul says, how are things going in Philippi? How are things going in the church there? And Epaphroditus gives him an update. Here's what's going on in the church. And one of the things that he told them was that there was some division that was going on in this church. And so Paul, then, in his letter, he also writes to make sure that there are no disagreements in this church. He wants them to settle their disagreements before the church splits. He wants this church to be unified.
- Third, he wanted the church to be prepared to receive Timothy, when Paul sends him. Paul's desire was to send Timothy to them, because Timothy was there at the birth of this church. Right? We saw it back in Acts chapter 16. When they go down by the river, and they preach the gospel to these women, Timothy was there along with Paul and Silas and Luke, who was writing Acts. But Paul wants to send Timothy back to them. But he didn't want them to be shocked when Timothy comes walking into town. He wanted them to be ready to receive him. So Paul writes this letter with that purpose in mind.
- Finally, he wanted the church to know that his imprisonment did not stop the gospel from going forth. Think about all that this church saw Paul go through. They saw him imprisoned in his first visit, where him and Silas get beaten and thrown into prison. Now Paul's in prison in Rome. What's happened to this amazing apostle? What's happened to this guy? Paul wanted them to know that, in fact, his imprisonment has turned out for the greater progress of the gospel. That his imprisonment didn't stop the gospel, just as his first imprisonment didn't stop the gospel, right? He was in prison, they began singing hymns. God sends an earthquake to open up the jail. Now Paul and Silas are free. And the jailer is about to kill himself. And they say, don't kill yourself. And then what did they say? What does the jailer say? What must I do to be saved? Gospel gospel proclamation that his imprisonment worked out for the progress of the gospel, you would think imprison them and they'll stop the gospel. But there is no stopping the gospel ever. No one can stop the gospel from going forth. And God uses the circumstances that Paul was in, even though they weren't good, even though it wasn't lovely to be in Rome in prison. But God uses the circumstances that Paul was in for the progress of the gospel.
Did you know that God still does that in our life? God does that in our life. He will use whatever circumstance you are in. Even one that you consider to be bad, a hard circumstance, a tough circumstance that you're in God will use it to further his gospel and to save people. We just have to be faithful in those circumstances, right? We've got to be faithful and not forget that God still wants to use us to save others.
Now, that's the introduction to Philippians. Let's work through our first two verses of this letter. We're going to break this down into three points. Three points. We'll look at our first point here, what we'll call The Slaves of Christ. The Slaves of Christ. Look at verse one. And chapter one. "Paul and Timothy bondservants of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:1) Stop right there.
Now, who are these men? Who are these men? Who was Paul? Well, Paul was an apostle, meaning he was commissioned directly by Christ to go out and to preach the gospel. We see this in Acts chapter nine on the road to Damascus, where Paul met Jesus. Jesus appeared to Paul and He saved him. After Paul had been a persecutor of the church, he had been persecuting the church, Jesus shows up, Jesus meets him, He saves him, and then He calls him to go out and to preach the gospel. And specifically, he was sent to go and preach the gospel to who? To the gentiles, to the gentiles. Which, by the way, what kind of people do you think were in the Philippian church? Gentiles! Gentiles were, how do we know? They didn't have a lot of Jews in the city, there wasn't even a synagogue there. And so as the gospel spreads in Philippi, who is being added to the church? Gentiles!
Did Paul obey Christ? He did. He obeyed Christ. And he knew that his duty was to preach the gospel to the gentiles. Now, at the time that Paul writes this letter, he's been through a lot. He's writing from prison. He had been beaten and imprisoned in Philippi. And that wasn't the only time that Paul had been persecuted for the gospel. But in the midst of all of that, Paul still had a joy in Christ. He had a joy in Christ that never wavered. Were there times where Paul was unhappy? Oh, I'm sure there were. Difficult circumstances that he was in. But listen, his joy never wavered. Why? Because he knew that his joy had come from Christ. His joy had come from Christ.
That's why he says in verse four, that he's always praying with joy. As he's thinking about the Philippians, and all the things that are going on in the Philippian church, he's able to pray with joy, as he is there in prison in Rome. He's able to pray with joy. And he's in prison in Rome because of false accusations that were brought against him. He's there because of lies. He's there because he's a preacher of the gospel, and people didn't want to hear it. So they locked him up. And you would think that in that circumstance, Paul would lose all joy. But he doesn't. His joy never wavered.
He lived out the words of James chapter one and verse two, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials." (James 1:2) Paul was a man who was filled with joy, no matter what the circumstances were that he was in. He was filled with joy.
What about Timothy? Who is this man? Well, in Acts 16, before Paul and Silas go to Philippi they were in Lystra. And it was there that Paul found Timothy. In Lystra and Iconium, Timothy was well spoken of by the believers there. Most likely what happened is when Paul on his first missionary journey, when he goes through Lystra Timothy hears the gospel then and gets saved. As Paul comes back around on his second missionary journey. Timothy now gets well known in Lystra and Iconium as a solid believer that people know who Timothy is. He grows in his faith there and Paul then hears about him as he comes into Lystra. And so Paul then wanted him wanted Timothy to go with him on his missionary journey. And so, off he goes. Timothy now joins Paul.
But by the time we get to Paul's imprisonment in Rome when he's writing this letter, we can see that there's a close relationship that Timothy and Paul have. Fact in Philippians 2:22 Paul says of Timothy, "he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel, like a child serving his father." (Phil 2:2) That was their relationship. Timothy was a spiritual son of Paul, and they were closely knit. In fact, in chapter two and verse 20, Paul says of Timothy that they "are of kindred spirit." (Phil 2:20)
Timothy was with Paul in Rome while Paul is writing this letter. Some believe that although this letter comes from Paul himself, it might be that Timothy was actually his secretary, the one who is writing this, penning it, writing it down for Paul. We know that this letter is from Paul himself, because he uses first person pronoun "I" all throughout it. This is coming from Paul, not from Paul and Timothy, but from Paul himself from his own heart this letter comes forth.
So why does Paul include Timothy here in this introduction, then? Why does he do this? Well, since Timothy is with him, and since Paul is planning on sending Timothy, he wants the church to know that Timothy is still a co-worker in the ministry with him. That is Timothy hasn't given up on Paul. He's faithful to His spiritual father. He loves him and Paul loves him back. And he wanted them to know how much Paul loved Timothy, so that when he sends Timothy to them, they understand that Timothy is coming as a coworker of Paul.
But notice how Paul describes both himself and Timothy. Notice what he says there in verse one. They are "bond servants of Christ Jesus." The Greek word for bond servants, there's the word doulos, and it means slave. Slave, it means one who surrenders wholly to another's will and thus devoted to another to the disregard of his own interest. They were slaves of Christ. And they did this willingly. They chose this because of their love and their devotion to Christ.
Oftentimes, when we think of a slave, we think of forced labor, right? Forced labor. This is not forced labor here. When he calls himself a bond servant, or a slave. These guys weren't forced into service for Christ, but they willingly gave up their lives to serve Christ. They're willing slaves who chose to surrender their life. And notice who they’re slaves of... Notice they aren't slaves of the church. They aren't slaves of the elder board. They aren't slaves of other Christians. They are slaves of Christ Jesus. They are fully devoted to Him.
They know that this is the greatest task of all. But they also know that this is the most freeing task of all. Slavery, the most freeing task? How could slavery to Christ be the most freeing? Because they know that their master will never let them down. Never. As long as they are slaves of Christ, they will always be successful in ministry, always. Christ will never let them down. They know that they're going to serve Christ and Christ will always take care of them. Because they're His slaves. They know that whatever needs may arise, Christ is going to meet their needs.
And notice they don't identify themselves as someone in high position, although they could have, right? They could have. Paul could have said an apostle called by Christ Jesus Himself -- founder and leader of your church. He could have said that. But he doesn't do that. And whenever Paul does identify himself as an apostle to a church, in his writings, he always says that he is an apostle of Christ Jesus. In fact, in Ephesians, one, and in most of his letters, he says, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God. So he's even saying that this was not some position that he worked toward. This was not some position that he earned. This is not some position that he self identifies with. He isn't created himself to be some great apostle, it's all by the will of God, he is an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, God has called him into this. It is God's grace working in his life. And he knows that. He knows that it's all the work of God in his life. And all he's called to do is be a humble servant, a slave of Christ. And that was Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ, and they do it willingly out of a love for Christ and His Church.
Let's look at our second point, point number two, what we'll call The saints in Christ. Look at the next part of verse one. And who Paul is writing this letter to, he says to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons. Now, if you grew up in the Catholic Church, when you hear the word saint what comes to your mind? You probably think of some dead person who has a statue, right? You think of some person who died maybe as a martyr or did something special for the church. According to one Catholic website, you can search over 7000 saints. One even said there's somewhere between 10,000 saints -- they don't even know how many there are. But somewhere around 10,000. You can search over 7000 on their website. And they're all dead, every one of them. But that's not what the Bible teaches about saints. It doesn't teach that about saints, Paul is writing here to saints who aren't dead. These are living believers who are in Philippi. These are those who are in Christ.
Notice he's not just writing to a few of the saints. But Paul says to all the saints, every one of you in Philippi, that are a part of the church who believe in Christ, I'm writing to all of you. Because all of you are saints. That means all the believers in Philippi, the rich, the poor, the educated, the uneducated, the males and the females, all those who believe in Christ are saints. Now what does this word saint mean? Saint means a holy one, a holy one. And it properly means different, set apart, distinct or holy. It means to be set apart by God and for God. And the Bible says that all those who have placed their faith in Christ are saints, we have been set apart by God and we have been set apart for God. Even living ones. In fact, look around you. Did you know you're sitting next to a saint? All those who are believers here this morning are saints. You can refer to yourself as saint so and so after service. And you would be biblically accurate. But listen, a person can only be a saint if they are in Christ Jesus. That's what separates us from the world.
We as believers, as saints are in Christ Jesus, but the world is not. The world is not in Christ. What does it mean to be in Christ Jesus. This means to be united with Him. It means to be united with Christ in His death. And in His resurrection. Listen to Romans 6:5, it says this, "For if we become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin." (Rom 6:5) Our old self was crucified with Him. And now we will be resurrected one day, just like Christ was resurrected. That's our future. That's our hope. And there's great joy in that isn't there?
This phrase "in Christ Jesus" is a phrase that Paul loves to use in Philippians, he uses it in 1:26 and 2:5 and 3:3, 3:14 and 4:17 and 4:19, Paul talks about being in Christ. Our whole life as saints as believers is determined by the fact of Christ and us being in Him, us being united with Him. It's like a goldfish that lives and breathes and moves in the aquarium. His whole life is in that aquarium, right? Until he dies, and you flush him down the toilet. Our whole life is in Christ. It's in Christ. We're in Christ spiritually, so that everything we do, we live in the sphere, and the influence of Christ, not the world. Because we've been separated from the world, we've been called out of the world. And so, our whole sphere that we live in, is in the sphere of Christ. And so we want to think like Christ, we want to act like Christ, we want to do things that reflect Christ, because we're in Him.
One commentator says, "saints are like a boat in the water, the boats’ purpose is fulfilled when the boat is in the water. When the boat is out of the water, it's not fulfilling its purpose." And so, with saints, we are spiritually in Christ, and when we are in Christ, we are fulfilling our purpose. And even though we are spiritually in union with Christ, we are physically in Minnesota, just as the Philippians were physically in Philippi. This was the location where God had placed them and chosen to use them. As saints they were called to serve Christ in Philippi. That was their location. Just as you and I are called to serve Christ in Minnesota. That's what we've been called to do. This is our mission field. This is the place where God wants to use us, is right here. Where we're at.
So, Paul writes to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, but notice he adds two specific groups of men. Notice he says this: overseers and deacons. Overseers, and deacons. Overseers -- this is the Greek word episcopos. These are the elders of the church. This is the ministry of oversight, supervision and protective care in the church. These are the men that God calls to lead, feed and protect the flock. These are the spiritual leaders who are called to shepherd, teach and serve the church.
And then there are those who are also recognized servants in the church, who are not called to shepherd, be teachers and be overseers. And these are the deacons. These are men who are called to serve the physical needs of the body. Then the the qualification that sets them apart from the overseers is that they don't have to be able to teach. Overseers must be able to teach, but deacons don't have to be able to teach. We can see the qualifications for elders and deacons listed in 1 Timothy 3. And then we see qualifications of elders listed in Titus 1. But the main qualification that sets elders and deacons apart is that elders must be able to teach.
And so we can see how this church at Philippi was functioning as a biblical church, right? They're functioning as a biblical church. It was started in Lydia's home, along with some other women, and a jailer and his family. And now they're functioning as a biblical church with two offices, elders and deacons. Just as God commands. They were doing exactly what God commanded them to do. In establishing leaders in their church, they did just that. This was a faithful church.
So, look at our third and final point this morning, the Salutation because of Christ. The Salutation because of Christ. We saw the Slaves of Christ, the Saints in Christ. And now the Salutation because of Christ. Look at verse 2. Paul says, "Grace to you, and peace from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Phil 1:2)
Now, this is a typical greeting of Paul's. In the early church, grace was used as a farewell greeting. We would say something like, may the Lord be with you or have a blessed trip. They would say, Grace be with you. Grace be with you. Paul uses it as an opening, in almost every one of his letters. Why does he start with grace? One commentator says, "this may serve as a one word summary of all Pauline theology--Grace." When we get to heaven and ask Paul about all the things that he did in his life, and how God had used him, and we say to Paul, tell us what it was like, Paul's response is going to be "grace."
It was all grace? All By God's grace. Grace is something you get that you don't deserve. And as believers, we have been given the free gift of salvation that none of us deserves. In fact, all of our life is a display of God's grace. There isn't anything that we have in this life that we deserve. Nothing. It's all by God's grace. And Paul knew this. Paul was a theologian of grace.
And then Paul says, "and peace". Grace to you and peace. This comes from an Old Testament background where peace was made as a request in prayer. Generally, generally, for those who were traveling, they would pray for peace for the travelers. Peace has to do with wholeness, but especially with reference to relationships. And Paul's point in this introduction is for them to grasp the full nature of the peace that they have with God, and with each other through Christ.
As believers, we have been made at peace with God. Listen, we were all once enemies of God, right? Every one of us we were enemies of God. Just like every unbeliever is an enemy of God. But now we, as believers, have been made to be at peace with Him. Because of His work, we're now at peace with God.
How do we get this peace? Notice it comes from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This peace that we have with God, and with each other comes from God Himself. He's the God of peace, and Christ is the mediator of this peace. We have been made to be at peace with God, through faith in Jesus Christ.
Now in closing, remember the themes of this letter that I told you about earlier? Those key themes, the theme of joy and unity, how to handle opposition, theme of the mind. Well, the greatest theme in this letter is Christ. Christ. No other noun occurs more in Philippians, than the name of Christ.
- Notice his name there at the end of verse two. The Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus, we know is His human name. And it reminds us of the mission that Jesus was sent on by the Father. Matthew 1:21 says, "And you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." (Matt 1:21) That was His mission. And that's exactly what Jesus did for us, right? He saved us from our sins.
- Christ is His title. That means anointed one. He is the Anointed One. It's the Old Testament equivalent of Messiah, that He is the Messiah. It tells us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed One who was anointed with the Holy Spirit as the King and Deliver sent by the Father to deliver His people.
- But notice also that title, Lord, Lord. Lord is the name that is above all other names. We'll talk more about that when we get to chapter two. But in the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the name Lord is used about 6000 times to translate the covenant name of God, Yahweh. This name Lord. This name is the name that makes an explicit statement about the deity of Christ. He is God in the flesh, He is Lord overall. This became the confession of the early church. And it must be our confession as well, right? That Jesus Christ is Lord.
Why was this name so important for those living in the Roman world back then? This name Lord, why was it so important? Well, Roman citizens were demanded to express allegiance to Caesar with the expression, Caesar is Lord. Caesar is Lord. And if you didn't, then consequences would follow. But these faithful saints in Philippi, they declared, Jesus is Lord. And Paul knew that although it might bring difficulty in their lives, to declare Jesus is Lord, He knew that there is great joy in Jesus Christ as Lord.
How do we know that Paul knew this? Look at chapter three and verse one. Look at this command that Paul gives to the church there. Chapter three and verse one, he says this, "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in" who? "the Lord." Rejoice in the Lord. Look at chapter four and verse four. Rejoice in who? The Lord always and again, I will say, what? Rejoice. What did Paul know about the Christian life? What did Paul know about being in the Lord? He knew that there is great joy. There is great joy in the Lord. Although our circumstances may be bad, in the Lord, there is great joy. Although our life might be hard, in the Lord, there is great joy. Although we may be suffering through trials in this life, in the Lord, there is great joy. Because for those who are saints in the Lord, there is great joy, great joy. And we're going to see Paul's joy and his heart for this church to rejoice as we work our way through this joyous letter.
Let's pray. Father, what an incredible, incredible opening to this amazing letter to the church at Philippi. Faithful women who were praying down by the river side who heard the gospel, and You open their hearts to believe. Then a jailer who cried out "what must I do to be saved?" And Paul, and Silas gave him the gospel and he and his household were saved. And a church was birthed. Because of what You did, by Your grace in that city. And now we have the joy of opening up this letter and seeing what it is that You had to say to this church at Philippi and what You have to say to us. Father, we thank You for the joy that we have in Christ, who is Lord of all. May we continue to submit our lives to Him and to live our lives, for Your glory and Your glory alone, we pray in Christ's name, Amen.