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.