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Friday, September 7 2012

The Epistles: Philippians

Studies in this complete Epistles series:
What Is An Epistle? Luke Acts Romans First Corinthians
Second Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians
First Thessalonians Second Thessalonians First Timothy Second Timothy Titus
Philemon Hebrews James First Peter Second Peter
First John Second John Third John Jude Revelation


In the time of the apostle Paul, Philippi was a major city of Macedonia, in what is today northern Greece. The Greek Empire had peaked and declined by that time; Rome was then taking its turn as the ruler of the "world" (both the Greeks and Romans regarded their empires, and whatever they could add to them, as the "world"; see also A History Of Jerusalem: Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids and A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars). For the most part, Paul's major journeys (apart from his being taken to Rome as a prisoner) were through Turkey (e.g. Ephesus, Antioch, Troas) in Asia, and Greece (e.g. Corinth, Thessalonica) in Europe. Some debate whether Paul's work was missionary (seeking converts) or ministry (serving converts) in nature, but it was logically both i.e. people were converted by Paul the "missionary" and then helped in their Christian growth by Paul the "minister."

As recorded in Luke's second epistle (see The Epistles: Acts), Paul visited Philippi during his second missionary journey.

Paul's Second Missionary Journey

"16:11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 16:12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.

16:13 And on the sabbath [see When Is The LORD's Day? and Why Observe The True Sabbath?] we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us." (Acts 16:11-15 KJV)

Paul also visited Philippi during his third missionary journey.

"20:1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. 20:2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, 20:3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. 20:4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. 20:5 These going before tarried for us at Troas. 20:6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread [see The Messiah's Days Of Unleavened Bread], and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days." (Acts 20:1-6 KJV)

Waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear"

Paul's epistle began with his greeting to the "saints" - a word which actually means "one separated from the world and consecrated to God" (see Can You See The Church? and the Fact Finder below).

Paul In Prison

"1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:1-2 KJV)

As stated in the verses quoted above, Paul arrived in Philippi "after the uproar was ceased" - the riot in Ephesus that erupted after Paul's peaceful preaching was regarded as a threat to the worthless idol that the city worshipped (see The Epistles: Ephesians). It had become the routine for Paul, and he had grown accustomed to it - and to his being thrown in jail because of the violent reactions that others had to Paul's preaching the Truth. Paul was again being held in Roman custody when he wrote the epistle to the Philippians - looking forward to the liberation that the Messiah will bring to His people on the day of His return (see When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin).

"1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 1:4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 1:5 For your fellowship in the gospel [see The True Gospel Of Christ] from the first day until now; 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

1:7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 1:8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." (Philippians 1:3-11 KJV)

Paul was, at times, blunt in his writing. At other times however he gently brought others to knowledge, sometimes in a way that his teaching seemed like something that they realized on their own. Such was the case with his epistle to the Philippians. He wasn't somehow bemoaning the injustice that was being done to him; he was making them aware that the same fate awaited many of them. There is no other reason for him to write what he did, so that "many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."

"1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 1:13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 1:14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." (Philippians 1:12-14 KJV)

Over and over Paul made the point that those who reject the Truth are the ones that need to fear. While some have regarded Paul's letter as being fatalistic, he was encouraging them that no man can take your life from you; others can only hasten, or delay, the day of Christ's return, from your conscious perspective (see Could Christ Return Tonight?). In the mean time, "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you."

The Road To Emmaus

"1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 1:16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 1:17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. 1:18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

1:19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 1:22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 1:24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 1:25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; 1:26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 1:30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me." (Philippians 1:15-30 KJV)

Further forward he took them, as he taught them to stand strong, by his own example.

"2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 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. 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. 2:17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. 2:18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me." (Philippians 2:12-18 KJV)

The bluntness Paul reserved for the carnal ones, "Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things."

"3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." (Philippians 3:17-21 KJV)

Fact Finder: (a) What is the "end time"? (b) What will be the "church" when Christ returns? (c) When will there no longer be a "church" - "people called out of the world"? When will the "church" become the Kingdom of God?
(a) See The Church In The End Time
(b) See The Church In The Kingdom Of God
(c) See The Church: Mission Accomplished


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This Day In History, September 7

70: Roman Legions (see also Legions Of Men And Angels) under Titus occupied and plundered Jerusalem (see A History Of Jerusalem: Titus And The Zealots and What Did Jesus Christ Say About Those Stones?).

1087: Norman King William I, known as "William the Conqueror," died. During his reign, he produced the Domesday Book, the first exhaustive survey of England.

1191: The Battle of Arsuf during the Third Crusade (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy). Richard I of England defeated Saladin at Arsuf.

1228: During the Sixth Crusade, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II landed in Acre, "Palestine." The Roman "Kingdom of Jerusalem" was thereafter briefly restored (see A History Of Jerusalem: Hadrian and Simon bar Kokhba and A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad).

1533: Queen Elizabeth I of England was born. The daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, her reign began with the defeat of the Spanish Armada. During her time, Britain rose to international power and prominence, beginning colonization that produced its worldwide empire of commerce and civilization over the next 400 years. A golden age for Britain, Elizabeth's contemporaries were the likes of Francis Bacon, William Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh, Francis Drake, John Hawkins, Martin Frobisher and many others.

1543: Mary, Queen of Scots was coronated.

1630: The town of Trimontaine, Massachusetts, was renamed as Boston.

1714: The Treaty of Badan was signed. It was one of the Treaties included in the Peace of Utrecht which ended the War of The Spanish Succession.

1763: King George III issued a proclamation inviting citizens of the Empire to settle in Canada. Many did, including many conservatives (hard-working, successful people of all walks of life i.e. farmers, merchants, tradesmen, educators) from the New England colonies who saw no need for a rebellion (totaling about 1/3 of the total population of the New England colonies, they were later known as United Empire Loyalists).

1812: Russian forces retreated from the army of Napoleon after the Battle of Borodino, near Moscow. Like Adolf Hitler 130 years later however, the invaders were eventually "stopped cold" by the Russian winter.

1822: Brazil declared independence from Portugal.

1860 "Red Shirt" forces under Giuseppe Garibaldi took Naples. The victory permitted Victor Emmanuel to become king of Italy.

1867: Adolphus abdicated as duke of Nassau and was granted 8.5 million thalers (origin of "dollars") and a few castles as compensation.

1940: During the Second World War, the Nazi "Blitz" of London began. The city was heavily bombed for 57 consecutive nights.

1953: Nikita Khrushchev became the leader ("First Secretary of the Communist Party") of the Soviet Union.

1979: The Chrysler Corporation requested $1.5 billion from the U.S. government to avoid bankruptcy.

1986: Bishop Desmond Tutu was enthroned as Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. He was the first black head of South Africa's Anglicans.

1988: Abdul Ahad Mohmand, the first Afghan in space, returned to earth aboard the Russian Soyuz TM-5 after 9 days on the Mir space station.

1999: A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck Athens, Greece. Over 140 people were killed, 500 injured and 50,000 people had their homes destroyed.

2004: Hurricane Ivan killed 39 people on Grenada and destroyed 90% of the buildings on the island.

2005: Egypt held its first-ever multi-party presidential election.

2008: To delay further economic collapse of the housing industry, the U.S. Government took control of the two largest mortgage financing companies in the U.S., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.




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