Sunday, November 20, 2016

Paul's Epistles – Philippians - Part 1: Introduction to Philippians

Paul's Epistles – Philippians - Part 1:
Introduction to Philippians
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |


Paul’s epistle (letter) to the Philippians is very important to the Gentiles. It was written to the first church founded in Europe (Acts 16:9-40).

Though not generally considered one of the most remarkable or deepest books of the bible, it is considered one of the sweetest of Paul’s writings.

It is more in the nature of a love letter to the Philippians, who had excelled all others in devoted attachment to Paul. Throughout this letter we get a glimpse into the apostle’s heart.

The Philippian church was noted for its generosity. It had repeatedly ministered to Paul (6:15 & 16).

Hearing Paul was imprisoned in Rome they sent help again by the hands of Epaphroditus (6:10 & 18), who, however, was struck down on his arrival by an almost fatal illness. Somehow news of this illness had reached Philippi, to their dismay, and on his recovery, Epaphroditus was anxious to reassure them in person (11:25-28), so Paul write this letter for him to take.

So this letter was written by Paul while in prison in Rome, and given to Epaphroditus to be taken back to the church in Philippi.


Today we will look at the Salutation in the beginning of the letter to all, and examine the basic outline of the letter in its entirety.

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers (Elders) and deacons:

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

Paul opens his letter with a salutation to all.

The overall message of this epistle to the church is;
Christian unity to be maintained at all costs”.

a. The letter opens with a Salutation to ALL
                                                                                                               i. Paul goes out of his way to emphasize that he was writing this letter to ALL God’s holy people IN Christ Jesus. 
                                                                                                            ii. A nod to the “Body of Christ” located in Philippi

b. Then a prayer for ALL
                                                                                                               i. In 1:3-11 Paul writes his prayer
                                                                                                            ii. He prays for the church in Philippi;
1. With joy
2. For more love
3. Not a blind love
4. Have good taste
5. Sincere
6. And to be filled with the fruits

c. Then encouragement to ALL
                                                                                                               i. In 1:12-30 we see Christ Glorified through Paul’s imprisonment an encouragement to ALL
                                                                                                            ii. His imprisonment led to wide distribution of the Gospel
                                                                                                         iii. Paul exposes those who preach with unworthy motive
                                                                                                           iv. He tells of his love for the Lord
                                                                                                              v. And if others suffered, it would also glorify the Lord, provided they were ONE.

d. Then shows Christ as an example to ALL
                                                                                                               i. Paul them shows Christ’s lowliness and humility to be an example to ALL
                                                                                                            ii. Pride is the foe of unity in the church
                                                                                                         iii. He explains the humility of the Lord is an example to them in 2:1-5
                                                                                                           iv. His seven-fold humiliation and exaltation in 2:6-11
                                                                                                              v. The effects of this should be
1. Humility
2. Lowliness of heart (not lifting yourself above another)
3. Lowliness of mind (not thinking you are above another)
4. This alone is the cure for Spiritual pride

e. Paul then gives warnings for ALL
                                                                                                               i. Paul warns in 3:1-3 against false teachers (motives & doctrine)
                                                                                                            ii. Against self-righteousness in 3:4-6
                                                                                                         iii. Against Absolute instead of progressive perfection in 3:7-14 along with 1:6&9 and 2:12-13
                                                                                                           iv. And against false professors in 3:15-19

f. Exhortations for ALL
                                                                                                               i. In 4:1-20 Paul exhorts ALL (God’s holy people IN Jesus Christ 1:1) Paul instructs the Body of Christ on
1. Unity 4:1-3
2. Rejoicing 4:4
3. Self control 4:5
4. Peace of God 4:6&7
5. WHAT to think on 4:8
6. And finally contentment and its source 4:11-14

g. Paul then closes his letter with Greetings from ALL and to ALL
                                                                                                               i. “Every saint” saluted
                                                                                                            ii. “All saints” send salutations
                                                                                                         iii. Saints even in Caesar’s household

a. The objective of this letter was 2 fold
                                                                                                               i. First to thank Philippi for their generous gift
                                                                                                            ii. Secondly on a serious note, Paul had learned through Epaphroditus dissention had broken out in the church, which threatens not just the peace of the church…but the churches usefulness!

b. Notes & Observations
                                                                                                               i. Notes about this letter, Women, right from the beginning, had an important place in the church. Two of the leading women had fallen out 4:2
                                                                                                            ii. The dissention in the church was more than likely from the teaching of instant perfection as opposed to the true scriptural doctrine of progressive perfection.
                                                                                                         iii. Apparently the church had taken sides and split into divisions
                                                                                                           iv. Paul’s letter focuses on bringing them back to unity.
1. He refuses to recognize two parties
2. He did NOT lecture the two women, but speaks the truth throughout the letter and bringing them to light near the end.
3. Instead of lecturing them, he fills their minds with our Lord’s greatness.
4. And the Lord’s lowliness, meekness and long-suffering
a. 1:27
b. 2:1-3
c. 3:15&16
d. 4:2

c. Success in unifying
                                                                                                               i. Ephesians (we just finished) speaks of the Body of Christ, and the mystic unity existing between Christ and the Church.
                                                                                                            ii. Philippians shows how that unity can be broken or maintained

a. There is not one quotation from the Old Testament in this letter
b. The words “joy” and “rejoice” are used in every chapter
c. The word “mind” is used very often as well
d. The “Spirit” is only mentioned three times, but they are very important passages
                                                                                                               i. Supply of the Spirit
                                                                                                            ii. Fellowship of the Spirit
                                                                                                         iii. Worship by the Spirit

CONCLUSION – christian unity to be maintained at all costs

As Paul sees the errors of this church (1. Dissension over false doctrine and 2. The two women fallen), he corrects their focus, and brings unity back into the church by writing about the Lord’s position on pride, and the dangers of acting, or even thinking you are above another.

As expected, humility, and true doctrine save the church.

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