Saturday, June 04, 2005

PHILIPPIANS 1 BIBLE STUDY.

1:1-2 (Greeting)

This greeting is from the servants\slaves to the saints. The servants are Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ. Paul saw imself as belonging completely to Christ in body, mind and spirit and was subject to him in everything. The saints, literally the set apart ones, are the believers in Philippi. They are set apart by God to live holy lives and proclaim God’s glory. See 1 Peter 2:9

Paul specifically greets the overseers and the deacons. Both words are plural, indicating the church had more than one of each. The word translated “overseer” is “episkopos”, meaning a watchman, one who watches over the congregation. In Acts 20:28, for example, the overseers are told to keep watch over themselves and the flock. 1 Timothy 3:2 gives us the qualifications of the overseer.

It appears to be synonymous with “presbyteros”, translated as “elder” in Titus 1:5. . Titus 1:5-7 gives a similar list of qualifications for the elder. And Paul switches to “episkopos” or overseer in verse 7. “Presbyteros” also seems to mean “old man”. Some translate the word as “bishop”.

1 Peter 5:1,2 instructs elders to be shepherds of the flock.

This duty is to be modeled on Christ, who is called the shepherd and overseer of your souls.

The deacons are those who are commissioned to care for the temporal concerns. That is why we refer to those men chosen to serve in Acts 6:1-6 as deacons, although the passage itself does not call them that. It does use the word “serve” when it says “serve tables”. 1 Timothy 3:8-13 lists the qualifications of the deacon.

1:3-11 (Prayer For The Philippians)

Paul’s prayer reveals his affection and his concern for the Philippians. Paul prays for their love, their knowledge, and their righteousness. This is a list of what he prays for:

1. Paul thanks God for them every time he remembers them (v.3);
2. He prays with joy because of their partnership with him in the gospel and because God is working in their lives (v.4-5);
3. He prays that their love will abound more and more (v.9), that it will abound with knowledge and depth of insight (love and knowledge going hand in hand); the result of that will be that they are able to discern what is best, that they will be pure and blameless (without offense) until the day of Christ (the reason he died for us – Ephesians 5:25-27), and filled with the fruit of righteousness (the righteous life; or good works) that comes through Christ. This will all result in glory and praise to the Father, which is the ultimate goal.

Verse 6 teaches us that God will work in our lives until the end. That process of sanctification will produce knowledge, insight\discernment, resulting in holiness and righteousness, all of which glorify the Father.

Psalm 138:8 says “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever.”

1 Corinthians 1:8 says He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1:12-18 (Advancing The Gospel)

The Philippians might have thought the cause of Christ had suffered a setback because Paul was imprisoned. This could have been due to the fact that, when Paul was in prison in Philippi, God delivered him miraculously by an earthquake. You can read about that in Acts 16:16-28. But Paul said the opposite was true; he imprisonment was serving to advance the Gospel. This happened in two ways.

First, the imperial guard and everyone else knew that Paul was in chains for Christ. Paul could not have penetrated the guard and the royal household with the gospel if he were a free man. They would not have allowed him in. But God had him brought right into Caesar’s special guards, where he witnessed for Christ. Philippians 4:22 says “all the saints send you greetings, especially those of Caesar’s household.”

Paul was living the truth of Romans 8:28. We are often tempted to despair because what we can see indicates things are not going well, but God is always working to accomplish his purpose. Jesus told us this in John 5:17 and we must have faith in him to do it. Remember how Joseph told his brothers in Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Joseph suffered, but God used it to accomplish his purpose.

Second, others stepped up to breach boldly because of Paul’s example. There were those who acted out of rivalry, but it sill resulted in the preaching of the gospel. Paul is not bothered by their motive, he just rejoices in the proclamation of the gospel.

1:19-20 (Paul’s Deliverance)

Paul also rejoiced because his imprisonment will result in his deliverance, through their prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit. I do not think he meant deliverance from prison, although many do, but deliverance from failure. His only goal is that he will not be ashamed, that he will not fail to honor Christ in his circumstances. He wants to honor Christ in his body, whether he lives or dies. Whether he is set free, or imprisoned, or tortured, or killed, he wants to suffer it in a way that honors Christ.

1:21-26 (Living or Dying)

Paul knows there is a chance he will be executed. As Paul looks at whether he will live or die, he is torn between the two in deciding which is best. For he feels that to die is to his gain, as he said in verse 21. he would depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

Two points are worth noting here. First, Paul tells us that, at death, we go to be with Christ. Our body may go into the grave, but our spirit goes immediately to be with the Lord. The second thing is, Paul has such an intense and personal relationship with the Lord that he wants to be with him. He does not see Heaven as an abstract concept. He does not see salvation as just avoiding Hell. Rather, he has this desire to be with Christ in person and to enjoy his fellowship and presence.

Paul concluded that it was better to remain and work with the Philippians in fruitful labor. He would help them with their progress in the faith and cause them to rejoice that God had allowed him to come to them again. For him, to live is Christ. It is his reason for living.

Let’s think a moment about death and what it is. We are told in Genesis 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” So, man had a body and a spirit given by God. When man sinned, God decreed death for the body, so the body and the spirit would be separated. In Genesis 3:19, he said you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Solomon acknowledged this in Ecclesiastes 12:7, when he said the dust returns to the ground it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it. In 2 Corinthians 5:8, Paul refers to being away from the body and at home with the Lord. There is no soul sleep and no purgatory. Jesus himself, in Luke 16:22, spoke of one who died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side, in a place separated from Hell by a great chasm that cannot be crossed. In Luke 23:43, he told the criminal on the cross he would be in Paradise with him that day.

I think Hebrews 12:22-24 tells us what that would be like. It says “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

1:27-30 (Worthy of the Gospel)

Paul exhorts them to live a life worth of the gospel whether he is with them or not. This manner of life looks like this:
1. they are standing firm, not waving in faith or doctrine;
2. they are united, of one spirit, striving side by side;
3. they are not frightened by their opponents;
4. they are granted the privilege of suffering for Christ; and
5. they are engaged in the conflict with the forces of evil.

Paul continually exhorted others to live worthy of the gospel and of Christ. He said this in Ephesians 4:1 and Colossians 1:10. In Romans 12:1, he said to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. How we live is important. We must live to bring glory to God and to demonstrate the life changing grace Christ brought to us. This includes standing firm, so that we do not fall and bring disgrace to Christ. It works better when we do it together, striving in one Spirit rather than in dissention. We do not side on the sideline, but get engaged in the battle, even knowing we may be called on to suffer. Remember that Jesus said in Matthew 5:11 that we are blessed when we are persecuted. In Acts 5:41, the disciples rejoiced that they had been counted worth of suffering disgrace for the Name. 1 Peter 4:13-14 says “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, s that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

Paul said their courage in the face of persecution was a sign that their persecutors would be destroyed, but they will be saved.

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us of the battle and God’s equipping to fight it.
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