PHILLIPI  THE JOURNEY OF JOY

 Introduction

 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 Jesus Christ."

 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

 Introduction 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.”

   Paul Sailhamer 

A.   The Source of Joy  

1. 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 from God.  

2. Psalm 16:11-"In Thy presence is fulness of joy."  

B.   The Reception of Joy  

1. 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 Lord.”  

2. 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.  

C.   The Product of Joy  

1. Romans 14:17-"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”  

2. Galatians 5:22-"The fruit of the Spirit is . . . joy."  

D.            Obedience and Joy  

1. 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.."  

2. 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 Word.  

E.    Trials and Joy  

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. 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. 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."  

3. James 1 :2-"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;."  

4. 1 Peter 1:6-"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:."  

F.    Hope and Joy  

1. 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 in hope."  

2. 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.  

3. 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 exceeding joy,."  

4. 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!"  

I.          THE SERVANTS (v. la)  "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ."  

A.   The Men

         1. Paul   -  Perhaps the most concise description of Paul given in Scripture is in Philippians 3:4-7. His worldly             credentials were such that he could say to those who put confi­dence in such things, "If any other man              thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:" (v.4). He was "Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; " (v.5). That means Paul was the epitome of what it meant to be a Hebrew. Furthermore, he was "as touching the law, a Pharisee; " (v.5). Paul was part of the religious group most zealous for the law of Israel, the Pharisees.  

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). 

Paul 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.  

                   2. Timothy - 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 Philippians

      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)  

          b) He 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).  

          c) He 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 

Paul 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. 

A 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. 

2. Its emphasis 

Paul's 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. 

Service 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 servants:

"And 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). 

II.  THE SAINTS (v. lb)

"to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:." 

The "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." 

Psalms 50:5 “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”

  A saint in Christ Jesus is a person who has been made holy, righteous, separate, and unique from the rest of the world. All believers are saints and have the right to be identified as such. "Saints in Christ Jesus" was a favorite phrase of Paul's. He meant that believers are buried with Christ in His death and are risen in Him to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). Paul ex­pressed what it means to be a saint when he said, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal. 2:20).

 A.  Their Identity

The 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.

 

B.  Their Origin

1.  Paul's vision

We 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.

 In 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).

 The 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).  

5. Paul's response

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.

 

The 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 Silas's imprisonment

       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        and        a 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).  

     7.     The church's bond

The 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. 

The 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)

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Je­sus Christ."

 Because 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.

 Conclusion

 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 your rightness.

 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 sweet" philosophy.

   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.