Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Philippians 1:1-11 - I Have You in my Heart

Ruins of the centre of the city: the forum in ...Image via Wikipedia
Ruins of Philippi. Basilica in background
With the violent takeover of computers and information technology, one of the fast disappearing art forms these days is letter writing. I’m talking about that oh so 20th century communication tool in which a person merges the delicate use of pre-thought composition, actual paper and ink, and the anachronism of handwritten longhand to create a personal message. The rare jewel of legibility is the finishing touch to perfection of the art.

Last week I heard a reporter, just returned from Camp Fallujah in Iraq, say that even though our troops have email, instant messaging, and satellite phone services, nothing causes excitement or raises morale like good, old-fashioned “mail drop.” It seems to be the hand-written letters that mean the most on the 21st century battlefield of the war on terrorism.

The church in Philippi got a morale boost when they received a letter from
Paul, who was a detainee of Caesar’s Praetorian Guard in Rome. After four years of unfair imprisonment, false accusations, and an unlawful arrest, what did Paul write to the Philippians? He encouraged them to have joy.

Pray
Read Philippians 1:1-11

Textual Notes
A Bas relief potraying members of the Praetori...Image via Wikipedia
Praetorian Guard

PHILIPPI AND THE FIRST EUROPEAN CHURCH
Philippi gained its status of being a Roman colony after Mark Antony and Octavian defeated Brutus and Cassius in a famous battle there in 42BC. From that time, Philippi became a Roman military base and community for retired military personnel. The whole city was also tax-exempt. Philippi was a strategically located on a hill as a gateway city, therefore was a military base town. Soldiers were common in the streets. It was a straightforward city, focusing on copying everything Roman.
 
Ruins at Philippi.Image via Wikipedia
Basilica at Philippi
It was to Philippi that Paul had been led ten years earlier (52AD), after seeing the night vision of the man from Macedonia standing, calling for help as a herald might summon a general to relieve a hard-pressed garrison. After responding to the vision of a man, their first European converts were women, notably Lydia, a territory sales representative for exclusive Thyatiran purple-dye textiles. The city’s tax-exempt status made sales margins much more attractive, providing Lydia the means to host Paul’s team at her home while they planted the church there.
 
Here Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke had earlier ministered and cast a spirit of divination out of a girl which caused a riot. They were flogged and imprisoned for the night, but joyful hymns in the prison brought an earthquake which brought the jailer’s family to Christ. Women had a prominent place in the Philippian church, and they were generous in giving to the Lord’s work (Phil. 4:10-16; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
 
Location and Date:
62 AD. One of the Prison Epistles from Rome along with Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon.
 
Map of Greece showing Philippi.Image via WikipediaTHE OCCASION OF THE LETTER:
Paul has received a visit from Epaphroditus, bringing gifts and the latest news and encouragement from the church at Philippi in Macedonia. They had kept in regular contact in the past, but had no contact for two years while Paul was in Jerusalem, then arrested. Finally they heard he was in Rome and had sent their pastor Epaphroditus to meet him (Phil 2:25). He tells Paul that the Philippians are experiencing some suffering and need encouragement to keep going. While in Rome, Epaphroditus became very ill, probably with the infamous malaria of Rome, and the ministry team nearly lost him even with Luke the Physician there. When Epaphroditus recovered, Paul wrote this letter and sent it to Philippi by him.
 
Paul had arrived in Rome in 61 AD and was awaiting his court appearance before the Supreme Imperial Court of the Roman Empire which he was confident he would win (Phil. 1:19-25). In the meantime, Paul was a prisoner for two years (Acts 28:16, 28-30). Possibly because he was a non-violent detainee, he was allowed to rent his own home with a 24-hour resident guard from Nero’s palace. Thus, many of Caesar’s own Praetorian Palace Guard were saved (Phil. 1:13; 4:22). Paul, age 62, spent his time corresponding with the churches he had started and receiving visitors like Epaphroditus of Philippi (Phil. 2:25-30) from all over the Roman world, even though it was dangerous to be associated with a capital prisoner.
 
Key Message/ Verse: Philippians 1:6 Maturing in Christ
JOY! Some form of the word found 19 times. Phil. 3:1; 4:4. Paul no doubt remembered the earthquake that had come in Philippi when he and Silas had sung those hymns of joy in the darkness of the prison as their flogging sores oozed, and with joy he wrote about joy.
I. Joy b/c of Partnership: Phil. 1:5
II. Joy b/c Christ is preached: Phil 1:18
III. Joy b/c of harmony: Phil 2:2
IV. Joy b/c of the Lord: Phil 3:1
2- Saviour. Paul mentions Him forty times.
 
INSIGHTS
1. Reconnection with old friends brings joy (1:1-2)
1.1. To the saints, overseers, deacons (v. 1) 1.1.1. To the holy ones, the ones who shepherd, and the servants
1.1.2. Constitution of the local church. Notice the order of saints first, then the shepherds and servants existing for them.
1.2. Grace (Gentiles) and Peace (Jews). Well known Greek and Hebrew greetings. Paul being culturally appropriate.

2. Giving thanks brings joy: (1:3-6)
2.1. Paul gives thanks for partnership τῇ κοινωνίᾳ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον
2.1.1. The Philippian church gave financially to Paul (Rom 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:1; 9:13)
2.2. Paul gives thanks for the maturity in Christ in their lives
2.2.1. It is God’s job to sanctify us (Ephesians 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

3. Intimacy and affection brings joy: (1:7-8)
3.1. “I have you in my heart” (v. 7).
3.2. We share in God’s grace with each other (v. 7)
3.2.1. “Defending and confirming – technical term for mounting a legal defense in court
3.3. Long with affection (v. 8) ἐν σπλάγχνοις ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ

4. Prayer brings joy: (1:9-11) A prayer to pray for loved ones
4.1. Love may abound in knowledge and depth of insight (v. 9). Love guarded and guided by knowing the Scripture which brings the
4.2. Ability to discern the best (v. 10) Discernment helps them choose wisely.
4.3. Be pure and blameless (v. 10)
4.3.1. Pure – εἰλικρινεῖς – to discern by the light of the sun,” as you would do in holding a pot up to the sun to check for cracks before buying it. Be transparent and have an open life that shows one’s moral integrity.
4.3.2. Blameless – ἀπρόσκοποι – compound word “not stumbling,” careful to avoid obstacles.
4.4. Be filled with the fruit of righteousness (v. 11)
4.4.1. inner character produced by God’s work within our personality (Amos 6:12; Galatians 5:22). This singular word fruit can only be produced by the inner transformation of the Holy Spirit.

INVITATION:

Have you had an inner transformation?