Friday, January 22, 2021

2021.01.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:1–2

Read Philippians 1:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: From whom does this letter come (Philippians 1:1)? What are they? Of Whom? What Name of the Lord does He use? What title? To whom is this letter written? How many of them? In Whom? At where? With what two groups more specifically singled out? What two things does the apostle announce to them (Philippians 1:2)? From what two Persons? By which Names does He call each?

Philippians opens with a man-leveling, Christ-exalting bang. The address (Philippians 1:1) and greeting (Philippians 1:2) seem to follow customary form, but we mustn’t neglect their rich teaching.

Paul (and Timothy) is levelled. This is the only letter in which Paul begins by identifying himself as a “slave.” He doesn’t call himself apostle, which he does in most other letters. He doesn’t even use “servant” (sometimes translated as “minister” but the word from which we get “deacon”). He uses the Roman word for someone who has lost his personal liberty and belongs to a master. The apostle is already exemplifying the instruction in Philippians 2:5-7.

And the congregation in Philippi are leveled. He addresses the letter to “all” the saints, a small but important addition to the way he addresses churches in other letters. He wants to make sure that every single member of the Philippian church receives personally this letter of thanksgiving, encouragement and joy. And that includes the elders (overseers) and deacons—another unique feature of this letter: it’s the only one in which the apostle addresses both groups of officers directly. It’s not merely the “non-officers” of the church who need this word; the officers need it just as much. 

But Christ is supremely exalted. He is the Master of whom Paul is a glad slave. He is the One in Whom all the members of the church have been set apart, saint-ified as holy. But more than just being above all men, He is God Himself, One with God the Father (cf. Philippians 2:6), and the only source of all grace and peace. In Him is infinite blessedness—gloriously gracious news for those who deserve only curse. In Him is infinite strength—gloriously gracious news for those who have only weakness. And from Him comes the peace of God: all of Who God is for all the good that it can do us.

How best to start a letter of thanksgiving and joy and encouragement? By levelling men and exalting Christ!

Where does gladness to be Christ’s slave show? How do you respond to/depend upon Christ’s exaltedness?

Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH374 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”

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