A Study of the Letter to the Philippians
The letter to the Church in Philippi is one of the most positive messages of encouragement in the Bible. Paul uses the word joy as an expression of rejoicing no less than 16 times in this little book.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!” – Phil 4:4 NKJV
One might think that Paul must have been living in the lap of luxury when writing this letter but instead we find that he was under house arrest, in chains and awaiting judgment with the possibility of a death sentence.
How could he experience such joy while bound in chains? Paul came to have the attitude that the chains that were meant to hold him down were the very things that allowed him to lift up Christ!
“…my chains are in Christ;” – Phil 1:13 NKJV.
In this study, we will learn that we can have joy and how to have joy even in the difficult times and places of life. No matter what the chains are in your life: fear, worry; anxiety; doubt; regret; difficult relationships; physical limitations; etc. we can have joy in the Lord that breaks every chain. Join us as we study what it means and how to have “Unchained Joy.”
1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ,To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In a world filled with war, hate and division we wonder if there is anywhere that we can find peace, love and unity. We can learn what true fellowship is and how to experience it. Everybody needs a family and God’s family is for everybody.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Life is not perfect. Bad things happen. We need to hope for the best but always have a plan for the worst because “life happens.” In this letter to the Philippian church, the Apostle Paul shares about how things that happened to him, though bad on the surface have really turned out for the good.
He could have easily given up, quit, or tried other easier options and we would have certainly understood. But he didn’t. He chose to rise above it, to not allow the chains that he was in to hold his joy down. What was his secret?
He had decided that when life happens he would lift Christ up. And when he lifted Christ up he was lifted as well as others.
Even though he is in chains in prison his attitude is this (v18), “In this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”
12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
A win-win happens when everybody benefits from an agreement or relationship. Although this is rare in the world today where someone usually has to lose for another to win we see that when Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior we can have a win-win joy no matter what.
Joy is the result of giving God control of our lives, trusting Him with the circumstances of our lives, and choosing to praise Him in all things for what He is going to do.
19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
Three things that we all need today are people in our lives who love us and we can love back, a purpose to live for that is greater than ourselves and friends that will always have our back.
We strive for the faith of the gospel, for the furtherance of the gospel so that others may enjoy the fellowship of the gospel.
27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Founding Father John Dickinson in July 1768 wrote what he called “The Liberty Song.” In it there is the line “Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!” Everywhere we look today we see disunity in epic proportions. Today in nearly every area from our nation, to our communities, to the church and family we are falling and failing because of disunity. Join us this week we will study Philippians 2:1-4 and see both the cause and the cure for disunity.
1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
What is your reaction to the Name of Jesus? Today the Name of Jesus is mocked, ridiculed, despised, banned, used with carelessness and even as a curse word. Ever wonder why the name of Jesus is so controversial, so polarizing and even so vilified?
JESUS – Whatever your reaction is to His Name today, the Bible tells us what it will be one day. Join us this Sunday as we see just why the Name of Jesus is so Wonderful!
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. 17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
— Philippians 4:4
Have you ever noticed that some “Christians” seem to be the most miserable, unhappy, and sad people in the world? This Sunday we will study Philippians 3:1-14 and see three things that will preserve, protect and promote the joy of the Lord in our lives. This is a warning about some people and some false beliefs that can take the joy right out of your salvation in Jesus Christ. God’s Word tells us that we can always rejoice because of the Lord Jesus! When we are in Christ, there is always a reason for rejoicing.
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The Christians in Philippi did not just profess Christ as their Savior but they became members of a team. The team was the local church. The word church is used 74 times in the New Testament. Sometimes in a universal sense and others in a local sense. The universal church is a league and a local church is a team in the same league, not meant to be in competition but in cooperation. Local churches are to be outposts of the Kingdom ofHeaven, located all over the earth to reach the world with the good news of salvation in Christ. This Sunday we will study what it means to join a local team.
1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ,To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
In Olympics, it is a gold medal, in college sports it is the National Championship, in the NFL it’s the Super Bowl, in music it is song or artist of the year, in entertainment it is best picture or actor, in the work place it may be salesman of the year, a promotion or even retirement. For everything we do there is a goal, a pinnacle, a desired ultimate end. What about for a disciple of Jesus Christ? What is the ultimate goal? In these verses Paul speaks personally about a goal, a place to which he aspires to be, a point of reaching a desired ultimate goal. Join us as we study what this goal is and how to pursue it?
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.