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Philippians 1:3-5 1
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,

Background

Founded in the 4th century B.C. and renamed after King Philip of Macedon, Philippi was an important outpost on the Egnation Way. Two important battles were fought here in 42 B.C. resulting in the defeat of Cassius and Brutus, conspirators in the assassination of Julius Caesar.

In the opening verses of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he expresses joy and confidence, the dominant theme throughout the entire letter. This is actually quite remarkable because this letter was written while Paul was in captivity, separated from the people he cared for most and kept from the work of Christ he loved to do. The words “joy” and “rejoice” occur no less than thirteen times in this short letter. The Apostle Paul is expressing his own feeling but desires the same for the people in Philippi.

Paul tells us that his highest honor was to be a servant of Christ. This should also translate onto ourselves because for those who are not really saints on earth, never will be saints in heaven. Without Christ, the best saints are just sinners and unable to stand before God. There is no inward peace without grace. Inward peace springs from a sense of Divine favor and there is no grace and peace but from God, the origin of all blessings.

While at Philippi Paul was poorly treated and saw little fruit for his labor. Yet Paul remembers Philippi with nothing but joy. Paul is not only telling us but showing us that we must thank our God for the graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others. As we may receive the benefit, God receives the glory. The work of grace will never be perfected till the day Christ returns. However, we must always be confident that God will perform His good work in every trusting soul and through every trusting soul. Paul is reminding us that the people of God are endeared to their ministers (and teachers) when they receive the benefits of their ministry. We are all fellow-sufferers in the cause of the Gospel and should be also endeared to one another in the same way. This simple process ensures that our faith is passed on to future generations.

Items for Discussion

  • What qualities can you see in Paul’s prayer? What can we learn from this?
  • Explain ‘grace’ and ‘peace’ in your own words.
  • What does Paul show us about his relationship to God?
  • How did the Philippians react to Paul’s imprisonment?
  • Paul says the Philippians are his partners in the gospel. What might he mean?
  • For what in particular did he give thanks in  verse 1:5? 
  • How can we follow these principles when we face difficulties in our own lives?
  • How can we use our own troubles to encourage other believers?
  • In what ways can you help your Christian minsters and teachers?

Discussion Challenge

  • God will complete the good work all ministers and teachers begin in someone. What is the role of the congregation of a church in aiding this process?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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