God’s Saving Word: Encouragement
Philippians 1:1-30: Today we begin reading the apostle Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, which he wrote while in prison. Paul had established the church in Philippi, located in the Roman province of Macedonia (Acts 16:12), and it was the first church he had established on European soil. The letter is marked by its emphasis on joy, confidence, unity, and perseverance in the Christian faith and life. It also reveals the deep affection Paul had for the church at Philippi, and he begins with a greeting, traditionally used in formal Greek letter writing, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving, and then proceeds to share the good news about Christ.
Words of Comfort to Jerusalem
1 From Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus—
To all God’s people in Philippi who are in union with Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and helpers:
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Paul’s Prayer for His Readers
3 I thank my God for you every time I think of you; 4 and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy 5 because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now. 6 And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus. 7 You are always in my heart! And so it is only right for me to feel as I do about you. For you have all shared with me in this privilege that God has given me, both now that I am in prison and also while I was free to defend the gospel and establish it firmly. 8 God is my witness that I tell the truth when I say that my deep feeling for you all comes from the heart of Christ Jesus himself.
9 I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect judgment, 10 so that you will be able to choose what is best. Then you will be free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ. 11 Your lives will be filled with the truly good qualities which only Jesus Christ can produce, for the glory and praise of God.
To Live Is Christ
12 I want you to know, my friends, that the things that have happened to me have really helped the progress of the gospel. 13 As a result, the whole palace guard and all the others here know that I am in prison because I am a servant of Christ. 14 And my being in prison has given most of the believers more confidence in the Lord, so that they grow bolder all the time to preach the message[a] fearlessly.
15 Of course some of them preach Christ because they are jealous and quarrelsome, but others from genuine good will. 16 These do so from love, because they know that God has given me the work of defending the gospel. 17 The others do not proclaim Christ sincerely, but from a spirit of selfish ambition; they think that they will make more trouble for me while I am in prison.
18 It does not matter! I am happy about it—just so Christ is preached in every way possible, whether from wrong or right motives. And I will continue to be happy, 19 because I know that by means of your prayers and the help which comes from the Spirit of Jesus Christ I shall be set free. 20 My deep desire and hope is that I shall never fail in my duty, but that at all times, and especially right now, I shall be full of courage, so that with my whole being I shall bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For what is life? To me, it is Christ. Death, then, will bring more. 22 But if by continuing to live I can do more worthwhile work, then I am not sure which I should choose. 23 I am pulled in two directions. I want very much to leave this life and be with Christ, which is a far better thing; 24 but for your sake it is much more important that I remain alive. 25 I am sure of this, and so I know that I will stay. I will stay on with you all, to add to your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that when I am with you again, you will have even more reason to be proud of me in your life in union with Christ Jesus.
27 Now, the important thing is that your way of life should be as the gospel of Christ requires, so that, whether or not I am able to go and see you, I will hear that you are standing firm with one common purpose and that with only one desire you are fighting together for the faith of the gospel. 28 Don’t be afraid of your enemies; always be courageous, and this will prove to them that they will lose and that you will win, because it is God who gives you the victory. 29 For you have been given the privilege of serving Christ, not only by believing in him, but also by suffering for him. 30 Now you can take part with me in the battle. It is the same battle you saw me fighting in the past, and as you hear, the one I am fighting still.
Today’s Key Verse: Philippians 1:11
Your lives will be filled with the truly good qualities which only Jesus Christ can produce, for the glory and praise of God.
Reread verses 3-11. For what does Paul pray? What does Paul’s prayer indicate about his relationship with the Philippian church? Paul refers to Christ’s return several times throughout the letter. In this opening chapter, the reference appears in verses 6 and 10; and Paul expected Christ’s return to happen soon. How does this expectation influence what he says in verses 20-30?
Lord God, help me to keep on growing more and more in true knowledge and perfect judgment, so that I will be able to choose what is best and be free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ. Amen.
And now, join us in prayer for those serving in the military who are receiving comfort from God’s Word. Loving God, the realities of war are part of every moment of every day for active-duty service members. Thanks to the generosity of Bible-A-Month Partners, they are receiving comfort and relief from being away from family and from the stress they face by reading the Bibles they have received. Lord God, we thank and praise you for your life-sustaining Word. Amen.
Philippians 2:1-30: The apostle Paul describes Christ as the example of true humility.