PHILLIPI THE JOURNEY OF JOY
Philippians 1:1-2 says, "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
We live in a sad world ; a world of despair, depression,
unfulfillment, and dissatisfaction. Man defines happiness as an attitude of
satisfaction and delight based upon present circumstances. He relates
happiness to happenings and happenstance. He regards it as something that can't
be planned or programmed.
Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” Nathaniel Hawthorne”
The Chinese have a saying “If you wish to be happy for one hour, get intoxicated. If you wish to be happy for three days, get married. If you wish to be happy for eight days, kill your pig and eat it. If you wish to be happy forever, learn to fish. “ Chinese proverb
Biblical joy, on the other hand, consists of the deep and abiding confidence
that all is well, regardless of circumstance and difficulty. It is very different from worldly happiness. Biblical joy
is always related to God and belongs only to those in Christ. It is the
permanent possession of every believer ; it is not a whimsical delight that
comes and goes as chance offers opportunity.
A good analogy of joy is this: it's the flag that flies on
the castle of the heart when the King is in residence. Only Christians can know
true and lasting joy.
Christian joy is a gift from God to those who believe the
gospel, produced in them by the Holy Spirit as they receive and obey the Word,
mixed with trials with a hope set on future glory.
Dwight Moody said of joy “Happiness is caused by things that happen around me, and circumstances will mar it; but joy flows right on through trouble; joy flows on through the dark; joy flows in the night as well as in the day; joy flows all through persecution and opposition. It is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; a secret spring the world can't see and doesn't know anything about. The Lord gives his people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to him. “ Dwight Lyman Moody (1837-1899)
“If you have no joy in your religion, there's a leak in your Christianity somewhere. “
Billy Sunday (1862-1935)
“Joy is that deep settled confidence that God is in control in every area of my life.”
The Source of Joy
Psalm 4:7-8-"Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the
time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace,
and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety. " Joy comes
Psalm 16:11-"In Thy presence is fulness of joy."
The Reception of Joy
Luke 2:10-11-When an angel appeared to shepherds in the Galilean
countryside to announce the birth of a Savior, he said, “Fear not: for,
behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For
unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the
John 15:11-"These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy
might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
Christ came to proclaim a gospel that would produce joy.
The Product of Joy
Romans 14:17-"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but
righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
Galatians 5:22-"The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy."
Obedience and Joy
Jeremiah 15: 16- “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy
word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy
name, O LORD God of hosts.."
Luke 24:32-After Christ's appearance on the road to Emmaus, the disciples
who had spoken with Him said to each other, "And they said one to
another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way,
and while he opened to us the scriptures?"
3.1 John 1:4-"These things we write unto you,
that your joy may be full". John expected his
readers to experience fullness of joy when they received and applied God's
Trials and Joy
is a gift from God that is present in trials. In fact, joy is most clearly
evident in the midst of trials. A believer's joy remains in spite of sadness,
sorrow, or difficulty.
1 Thessalonians 1:6-Paul said to the Thessalonian church, "And ye
became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much
affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.."
2 Corinthians 6:10-Paul said that in doing the Lord's work he was "As
sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having
nothing, and yet possessing all things."
James 1 :2-"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into
1 Peter 1:6-"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season,
if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:."
Hope and Joy
This deep abiding joy ; that gives us endurance in affliction and suffering, is
firmly rooted in our eternal hope. Romans 12:12 We are to be "rejoicing
1 Peter 4:13-"But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of
Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also
with exceeding joy.." We are to endure the present with joy because we
know that exaltation is to come.
Jude 24-Jude pointed to "Now unto him that is able to keep you
from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with
1 Peter 1:8-Peter, addressing persecuted Christians, wrote, "Whom
having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye
rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
The theme of Philippians is the believer's joy. Paul
wrote to people he loved and who loved him. Paul's deep and special love for the
Philippians can be seen in the letter he wrote out of concern for
their sorrow for him while he was a prisoner in Rome. They
were anxious about his circumstances, sad because of his deprivations, and
distressed by the possibility that he might be executed. So he wrote, "I am
rejoicing in spite of my circumstances, so don't you do any less!"
THE SERVANTS (v. la)
Paul's zeal was so great that he became a persecutor
of the church "Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the
righteousness which is in the law, blameless." (v.6). His own peers had
found Paul to be a man of tremendous integrity, according to the law. Yet Paul
said, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the
knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all
things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ," (vv. 7-8).
trashed all his human credentials that he might gain Christ. He wanted to "…be
found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that
which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by
faith: " (v.9). Paul was a man wholly given to Christ and to the
proclamation of the gospel.
- Timothy did not co-author Philippians. Paul included him in his
greeting not as a fellow
writer, but as a fellow bondservant in Christ Jesus,
present with Paul as he wrote. Starting in verse 3, all the pronouns are first
person singular. He never says "we" (Paul and Timothy) but
"I" (Paul). There are a number
of reasons Paul would have wanted Timothy's name associated with his
at the beginning of his letter to the Philippians.
a) He knew the
Timothy was well-known to the Philippians and loved by them. Acts 16
tells us that he was present when the
church was founded. (Acts 16:12)
was an excellent worker
Paul was planning to send Timothy to the Philippian church (Phil. 2:19 - But
I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be
of good comfort, when I know your state.) and wanted him to have the best
possible reception. So he included Timothy in his greeting as a true co-worker.
Later in Philippians Paul expanded his commendation of Timothy by saying, "For
I have no man likeminded, who will
naturally care for your state. " (2:20).
may have served as Paul's secretary
Timothy may have been the secretary to whom Paul dictated Philippians.
Many of Paul's letters indicate that he dictated them. For example, Romans 16:22
says, "I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord." That
doesn't mean Tertius was the author of Romans. Romans 1:1 says Paul was the
author. Tertius was the secretary,
or amanuensis, who wrote it down. Paul closed 1 Corinthians by saying,
"The greeting is in my own hand-Paul" (16:21). Paul meant that though
someone else had physically penned the letter, he was signing it himself. The
same is true of Colossians (4:18), Galatians (6:11), and 2 Thessalonians (3:17).
Timothy was a vital part of Paul's life. He had served at his side for
many years. Though Paul was in prison at the time that Philippians was written,
Timothy was not a prisoner as far as we
know and was surely of great service to him.
B. Their Title
1. Its meaning
chose to refer to himself and to Timothy as "the servants of Jesus
Christ," (Phil. 1:1). That was a common title chosen by the writers of
Scripture. James (James 1:1), Peter (2 Pet. 1:1), and Jude (Jude 1) 50 described
themselves. The Greek term (doulos) has connotations of ownership,
possession, allegiance, dependence, subjection, and loyalty. It was often
associated with willing service. The English word "slave" tends to be
taken negatively, indicating forced servitude, unwilling duty, and abusive
subjection. But that was not what Paul meant by doulos.
bondservant was a slave bonded to an individual. Often the relationship was
the result of affection, love, and esteem-not fear or compulsion. In Exodus 21:5
God provides in the law of Israel for a slave who wants to permanently bond
himself to his master. Many of the slaves in ancient Israel loved their masters
dearly and wanted to serve them for life. In such a case the master was
instructed to "bring him [the willing slave] to the door or the door post.
. . and pierce his ear with an awl" (v.6). The hole in the ear of the slave
was a symbol to all who saw him that the man was a slave for life out of love
for his master. Paul and Timothy didn't view themselves as unwilling slaves
forced into service but as willing bondservants of Jesus Christ, serving out of
joy and love.
focus as a bondservant was always on his Master. That should be true of anyone
who serves the Lord. An evaluation of service based on worldly success can easily
lead to wrong conclusions. But when you evaluate your life and service in the
light of God's Word, you will always know where you stand.
for Christ is the perfect freedom. Though Paul mentions his imprisonment four
times in Philippians 1 (vv. 7, 13, 14, 17), he did not consider himself to be a
slave of Rome but the servant of Christ. He knew that Jesus Christ would meet
all his needs and assign all his duties. His attitude was like that of David's
the king's servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do
whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint."
(2 Sam. 15:15). Paul served the Lord Jesus Christ, who had assured him, "My
grace is sufficient for you" (2 Cor. 12:9).
THE SAINTS (v. lb)
all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and
"saints" to whom Paul wrote included the spiritual servants who lead
the church at Philippi, but they were only part of a larger group. The Greek
word translated "saint" means separated," "unique,"
"different," or "set apart," and could be translated
"holy." Its meaning is similar to the Hebrew word qadesh, which
refers to that which is unique, different, or set apart. Paul was not writing to
dead martyrs, canonized people, or a group recognized as the super-pious. He
wrote to all believers in Philippi. Similarly, the letter to the Corinthians was
written to those who were "saints by calling" (I Cor. 1:2).
Considering all the problems Paul had to deal with in the Corinthian church,
his calling the Corinthians saints lends a lot of latitude to that term!
Ephesians 1:1 says it was written "to the saints who are at Ephesus."
50:5 “Gather my saints together unto me; those that
have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
saints to whom Paul wrote lived in Philippi. Paul S. Rees wrote, "For continuity
across the centuries: such is Rome's distinction. For architectural glory
and lavish elegance: such was Babylon's bid for 'immortality.' For cultural
brilliance: such was Athens' claim upon the world's remembrance. For a distinctive
quality in its citizens: such is the persistent fame of Sparta. For an extraordinary
tradition of religious faith and devotion: such is the deathless repute in
which Jerusalem is held. But in ancient Macedoma, not far from the western
shoreline of the Aegean Sea once stood a city that lives on in human memory for
none of those reasons" (The Adequate Man: Paul in Philippians [Westwood,
N.J.: Revell, 1959], p.11). The apostle Paul's letter is the reason the name of
Philippi lives on.
see the beginning of the Philippian church in Acts 16. Paul took Timothy into
service (vv. 1-3), and together they moved from town to town, finally arriving
at Troas on the west coast of Asia Minor. Troas was also known as Alexandria
Troas and was a Roman colony (v. 12). It was ten miles from the famous city of
Troy. There Paul had a vision in the night: "And a vision appeared to
Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come
over into Macedonia, and help us "' (v.9). God was calling for the
message of Christ to spread from Asia to Europe.
accordance with the vision, Paul and those with him sailed from Troas northwest
to the island of Samothrace, and then on to Neapolis, the port city of
Philippi (v.11). Because Philippi is ten miles inland from Neapolis, they
traveled overland to Philippi, "a leading city of the district of
Macedonia" (v.12). Paul and those with him-Silas, Timothy, and Luke-stayed
there for many days.
2. Paul's arrival
Upon arriving in a city, Paul's custom was to go to the synagogue on the
Sabbath. At least ten Jewish men were required to establish a synagogue.
Apparently Philippi did not have the required
number of men, because there was no synagogue in Philippi.
When there was no synagogue in a city, the Jewish people went to a
riverside on the Sabbath. Psalm 137 says,
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we
remembered Zion" (v.1). It became a custom for Jews in exile to go
to a river and weep because they were
away from their homeland. Paul knew that if he wanted to find Jewish
people, he would find them at a riverside on the Sabbath.
3. Lydia's interest
At a place of prayer by the riverside, Paul had the opportunity to
speak to a number of
women, including Lydia, who had a business dealing in purple fabric. She
was a worshiper of
God, and the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message (v.14).
first recorded person to whom the Lord ever revealed His messianic identity
was a Samaritan woman (John 4:25-26). The
first European convert was a Gentile woman. Luke records
that she said to Paul and his companions, " If ye have judged me to be
faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
" (v.5). Faithfulness to the Lord
Jesus Christ was considered the test of saving faith in those days. She
persuaded them to stay, and the Philippian church was born.
4. The slave girl's proclamation
Soon after the conversion of Lydia (while on their way to the place of
prayer), they were
confronted by a demon-possessed slave girl. That girl made a lot of
money for her masters
by fortune-telling. She would go into a frenzy when the demons took
control of her (the Greek word manteuomai, translated "fortune
telling," is related to the words mainomai and mania, which
describe the ravings of a possessed person). She followed Paul and his
companions, crying, " These men are the servants of the most high God,
which show unto us the way of salvation. " (v.17).
Paul didn't need that kind of testimony, and neither did
Christ. So Paul cast the evil spirit out of her. That infuriated her masters.
When they "…saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught
Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, "
(v.19). Apparently Timothy and Luke were not seized-only the two spokesmen.
"And when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, And
brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly
trouble our city. And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive,
neither to observe, being Romans.
And the multitude rose up together against them: and the
magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they
had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor
to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the
inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks."
(vv. 20-21). Those proud Romans were anti-Semites.
crowd rose up against Paul and Silas, so the chief magistrates had the robes
torn off Paul and Silas, and they were beaten with rods. They threw them into
prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely. The jailer would pay
with his life if they escaped, so he threw them into the inner prison and
fastened them in stocks.
6. Paul and
We must understand the condition of Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail
if we're to fully appreciate their response. Their backs had been flayed open
by rods wielded by experts. The victims of such beatings often experienced
intense hemorrhaging, internal injuries, smashed vertebrae, and crushed ribs-any
of which might cause death. The aching, bleeding, limping men had then been
thrown into a dark cell and put in stocks. Unlike English stocks (that held the
head, hands, and feet), the stocks the Romans used had a series of holes that
extended a person's legs to the farthest
possible extreme and then locked them into that position. The arms were
similarly stretched. When Paul and Silas sang hymns at midnight (Acts 16:25), it
was while they sat alone in the filth of a dark cell, aching, bleeding, and
cramping in pain-all because they had
caused some men to lose their income when the demon-possessed girl
was freed from her torment.
As they sang their praises and all the prisoners listened, "there
came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were
shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were unfastened"
(v.26). The jailer assumed that all had escaped, and because he would answer
with his life for any escapees, he was about to kill himself. But Paul cried
out, " Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.!" (v.28).
The jailer "Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came
trembling, and fell down before Paul and
Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"'
(vv. 29-30). Why did he ask that question? Perhaps he had heard
Paul preach. It is likely that he had heard the singing, and the content of
those songs would have been Fortress Is Our God"-solid theology set to
music. The Philippian jailer had heard enough to know
what to ask.
They replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt
be saved, and thy house. "
(v.31). Some read that and say, "See, it's so simple. Just
believe." But what Paul and Silas
meant by "believe" was something serious. Note that they took
time to speak "unto him the
word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. " (v.32).
They had to explain
the contents of the gospel.
At the hour of his conversion the jailer took Paul and Silas and washed
their wounds. He and
his believing household were also baptized. He brought them into his
house, fed them, " And
when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and
rejoiced, believing in
God with all his house. " (v.34). The church in Philippi began
with a lady down by a river
jailer in a prison cell.
The next morning Paul and Silas were freed. The Roman authorities had
discovered that Paul was a Roman, which greatly alarmed them. They could have
been in serious trouble for
treating a Roman citizen the way they had treated Paul and Silas.
Therefore, they asked
Paul and Silas to leave Philippi quietly (v.39).
bond Paul had with the Philippian church was very strong. They had seen him
handle himself in a terrible situation, and they loved him. That bond was not
complicated by a Judaizing element (there
were hardly any Jewish people in Philippi), and that's probably why
no major problems are addressed in the letter to the Philippians.
Philippian church was a group of believers in the midst of a pagan environment.
The lines of spiritual battle were clearly drawn. Several years had passed, the
church was flourishing, and it had a
definite structure and leadership (elders and deacons). Paul's simple message to
the Philippians was "I thank God for you, and I'm writing because I want
you to know my joy."
In Philippians 4:10 Paul says, " But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity..."
They had sent him a gift. That was typical behavior for the
Philippians. Verse 16 says, "Even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my
needs." This church was always sending Paul gifts. They sent one to him in
Corinth (2 Cor. 11:9), another in Thessalonica,and
another in Rome (along with Epaphroditus; Phil. 4:18). The church
expressed their love for Paul by sending
him gifts. They were generous, even though they were poor (2 Cor.8:15)
Paul loved the Philippians in return and promised he would visit them as
soon as possible (Phil. 2:24).
III. THE SALUTATION (v.2)
to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
of grace we have peace with God, and Paul wished both for the Philippians. The
source of each is the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul commonly used this
greeting to express his best wishes for his readers.
Paul wanted God's best for the Philippians. He had a deep
concern for others. People had disappointed him, yet he rejoiced (1:15-18). His
plans had not worked well and had to be changed, but he rejoiced (2:19-28). He
had lost all his possessions, but he still rejoiced (3:1, 7-16). He was in
trying circumstances, but that did not reduce his joy (4:10-13). Paul's message
is that even though people, plans, possessions, and circumstances may cause
discouragement, all those things need never affect a Christian's joy.
You can continue to life a life of joyless emptiness by:
1. Make little things bother you: don't just let them, make them!
2. Lose your perspective of
things, and keep it lost. Don't put first things first.
3. Get yourself a good
worry--one about which you cannot do anything but worry.
4. Be a perfectionist:
condemn yourself and others for not achieving perfection.
5. Be right, always right,
perfectly right all the time. Be the only one who is right, and be rigid about
6. Don't trust or believe
people, or accept them at anything but their worst and weakest. Be suspicious.
Impute ulterior motives to them.
7. Always compare yourself
unfavorably to others, which is the guarantee of instant misery.
8. Take personally, with a
chip on your shoulder, everything that happens to you that you don't like.
9. Don't give yourself
wholeheartedly or enthusiastically to anyone or to anything.
10. Make happiness the aim
of your life instead of bracing for life's barbs through a "bitter with the
Use this prescription
regularly for awhile and you will be guaranteed unhappiness.
Or you can find the joy Jesus promised to give to his children.