Today we start reading the book of Philippians by reading Philippians 1.
This is another of Paul’s prison letters (v. 7: “whether I am in chains...”), this one written to the church at Philippi. Paul founded this church during his second missionary journey (Acts 16:6-40). He also visited Philippi twice during his third missionary journey (note: Philippi is in Macedonia; Paul went there in Acts 20:1-2 and returned in Acts 20:6).
The Philippians were givers:
- They supported Paul’s work by sending him money while he was in Corinth (Acts 18:1-5 and Philippians 4:16) so that he could stop making tents (Acts 18:3) and devote himself “exclusively to preaching” (Acts 18:5).
- They also gave generously to the fund Paul collected for the Jewish believers in Jerusalem (2 Cor 8:1-5).
- This letter, Philippians, was written to thank these believers for their long financial “partnership” (1:5, 4:15-16) and for a new gift they had sent to him while in prison in Rome (Phil 4:14, 18.
The tone of this letter is happy! Words like “joy” and “rejoice” show up again and again throughout. Although Paul was still in prison, he expected to be released soon (v. 19). Still, his joy came less from his anticipation of release and more from how the gospel was advancing among the men who were guarding him (vv. 12-13), how it was causing others to speak up for Christ in his absence (vv. 14-15). If his trial unexpectedly went badly, however, Paul could still rejoice because dying for Christ meant going to be with Christ (v. 23).
The source of Paul’s joy, then, was Christ. Christ was the one he was serving (v.1). Christ was one he was trusting to provide for him, whether through the giving of the Philippians or not. Jesus was using his imprisonment to advance the gospel (vv. 12-18). He was the one he would meet whenever his time on this earth was over (v. 23) and Christ was the one who would keep causing the Philippians faith to grow and mature (vv. 6, 27-30). Paul’s circumstances were not the cause of his joy or his discouragement because he had faith in his God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Are you looking to the Lord for joy in your life at this time?