The following is a narrative through a portion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians that encompassed his joyous affection for them, their mutual affection for Christ, and desire to see love abound. The introduction of this letter (Philippians 1:1 – 2), which included background information and an overview, is not included here due to being addressed here.
Joyful Prayer (vv. 3 – 5)
The joyous affection expressed in these opening verses for their response in partnering with him for the sake of the Gospel is a traditional trademark of the opening of Paul’s letters. The purpose of Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving is for the Philippians acceptance of the gospel as well about their active support of his ministry (Philippians 4:15) from the onset. Paul received support in Philippi from the moment he arrived (Acts 16:12) until toward the end of his first imprisonment in Rome (Acts 2:24; Acts 28:16 – 31).
The Affection of Christ Jesus (vv. 6 – 8)
It is here at the beginning of this letter that we can see Paul express his confidence in not only what God has already done for the readers, but He has also done in them. The use of the word work is going toward the heart of our justification by referencing God’s action in reconciling us back to Him through Christ. It is through this action that we understand that God began a good work in us and will also be the one who completes our salvation (sanctification) upon His return. There is an endless amount of information on these verses. In short, the best thing to communicate that it is God who initiated our salvation, it is God who continues our salvation, and that it is God who will one day bring our salvation to completion.
The reading of these specific verses presents Paul’s articulation of his affection for the Philippians commitment, dedication, and loyalty to him through his imprisonment in Rome being extremely dear to him. Paul was encouraged to keep on sharing the Gospel due to his love for Christ and the Philippians. Thus, his imprisonment and persecution was not able to stop the sharing of the Gospel from occurring. The Philippians willingly wanted to remain identified with Paul due to being unified in Christ behind His commission to preach the gospel (vv. 5). Their support of Paul lead them to send Epaphroditus and financial gifts to help Paul and his ministry while being imprisoned (Philippians 2:25 – 30; 4:18).
This is an expression of the affection without impartiality and exception being fostered in Paul due to his union with Christ who originally exhibited such compassionate love. In addition, these verses appear to be a prelude to the idea the need to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling, (Philippians 2:12)” with Paul being present or not with them (or us) “for it is God (not Paul or anyone else) who works in you (us), both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).”
May Your Love Abound (vv. 9 – 11)
The relationship between Paul and the Philippians illustrated real love. This love does not come naturally to any of us as it requires growth and maturation (1 Thessalonians 3:12; 4:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ) in knowledge. Thus, the way of Christian love grows (Colossians 1:9) with our depth of insight with the realization that Christian love is not a mere sentiment due to being rooted in knowledge and understanding. Therefore, it is necessary for all Christians to discern and practice what is morally and ethically excellent without blemish in light of God’s Word. As a result, the goal is to be without evil until the day Christ returns when our goal of being complete in our salvation is realized. Being filled with the fruit of righteousness (Matthew 5:20-48; Hebrews 12:11) through being united to Christ by the work of the Spirit (John 15:5; Ephesians 2:10).
The Letters Significance in Our Lives
- Be thankful to God for those He has blessed you with that support your physical well-being and ministry (vv. 3 – 5).
- God has not only already done (our justification) something for us but is also doing (our sanctification) something for us. (v. 6).
- Do not let circumstances stop you from fulfilling your calling when you are blessed even in your dire situation (v. 7).
- Express the affection of Christ impartially and without exception (v. 8).
- Grow and mature in light of God’s Word being rooted in knowledge and understanding (v. 9)
- Discern what is morally and ethically best in light of God’s Word (v. 10).
- Allow God alone to work out your salvation alongside you with fear and trembling in achieving the fruit of righteousness (v. 11).