8th November 2018

Philippians: Week 12 (Thursday, November 8 2018)

 

Chapter 4: 10-23

 

Paul thanks the Christians at Philippi for their gift 4:10-20

v10 I rejoice that now at last you have been able to show your care for me again. I do not mean that you had forgotten me. You have had no opportunity to help until now. v11 I am telling you this. But it is not because I need anything. In fact, I have learned to be content whatever happens to me. v12 I know how to live when I need things. And I know how to live when I have plenty. In all circumstances, I have learned the secret of how to be content. I am content whether I have plenty to eat or not. v13 I am ready for anything by Christ who gives me strength. v14 But it was very kind of you to share my troubles. v15 You Christians at Philippi remember what happened in the early days. Those were the days when you first heard the gospel. When I left Macedonia, you were the only church to share with me. You shared in the matter of giving and receiving gifts. v16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent me help. You sent me help when I needed it. You did it again and again. v17 It is not that I am hoping for a gift. I am hoping for the reward that will come to you because of your gift. v18 I have received enough, and more than enough. Epaphroditus has brought me all your gifts. And so, now I have all that I need. They are a sweet smelling gift to God, which pleases him. v19 And my God will supply all that you need from his great riches in Christ Jesus. v20 I pray that honour will be to our God and Father for ever! Amen.

 

Verse 10 Paul used a word for a plant that had flowered again. It was not dead, like the way a tree or plant seems in winter. At the right time, we see flowers. The right time for Paul’s friends has now arrived. Before this there may have been no suitable messenger. Or there was some other reason for their lack of opportunity.

Verses 11-13 The people called Stoics believed that they could be ‘content’ in any situation by an effort of will. They aimed to be free from every emotion. Paul, however, knew that to be ‘content’ was a gift from God. Christ had given him the strength to accept pleasant or difficult circumstances. ‘I have ..... known lack of sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty. I have often been without food, shelter or clothing’ (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Verses 14-16 The Christians at Philippi had helped Paul when he went to them during his second journey. His troubles included a night in prison with Silas (Acts 16:11-40). (Now Paul is in prison again, as he writes this letter!) Their practical help had continued when he went on to Thessalonica. He said that they had shared ‘in the matter of giving and receiving’. They had given him what he needed for his physical life. Paul taught them and he encouraged their spiritual life. He showed them, by his life, how to live as a Christian (1 John 1:6).

Verse 17 But Paul was not hoping for a gift. ‘It is you that I want, not your money’ (2 Corinthians 12:14). He wanted their ‘account’ with God to have extra ‘credit’. Then they would receive the reward for their kindness when Jesus returns.

Verse 18 Paul continued to use language from business. He said that he had ‘received’ enough. He used a word that means, ‘Here is my receipt.’ Paul had received more than enough for himself, now that Epaphroditus had brought their gifts. These may have been money, food or clothing. The gifts were like a lovely sacrifice to God himself. In the Old Testament, the ‘sweet smell’ of a sacrifice was pleasant to God (Genesis 8:21). Their Christian service to Paul was an act of worship that pleased God. And that made Paul very glad.

Verse 19 A gift to God does not make anyone who gives it poor (Luke 6:38). God will supply all that they themselves need, for both body and spirit. God, who lives in glory, created everything. Therefore his wealth is more than enough for everything that we could need. ‘How great are his riches!’ (See Romans 11:33.) Paul knew from his own experience that this was true. The words ‘my God’ show that. God will supply all that they need ‘in Christ Jesus’. Jesus is the way by which God’s love comes to people. Their faith in Jesus will bring them true wealth because they will know God’s immense love.

Verse 20 As he thinks about God’s great love, Paul can only end in worship. He is ‘our’ God, the God both of Paul and of the Christians at Philippi. He is the ‘Father’ of all who trust in Jesus his Son. He is the eternal God whom men and women should praise for ever. *Amen’ adds Paul’s wish that this will be so.

 

Final greetings 4:21-23

v21 Greetings to each one of God’s people who belongs to Christ Jesus. The Christian brothers and sisters here with me send their greetings. v22 All God’s people here send greetings, especially those who live in Caesar’s home. v23 I pray that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will be with you all.

 

Verse 21 Paul sends his greetings to ‘each’ Christian in Philippi. He does not mention any by name but he includes them all.

The ‘Christian brothers and sisters’ with Paul are the ones who are working with him. He means Timothy, among other Christians (1:14).

Verse 22 Paul sends greetings from the wider number of believers. ‘Those who live in Caesar’s home’ were probably officials in the Roman government. They may have known government officials in other places, including Philippi, especially as it was a Roman city. Some may have come from Macedonia and they wanted to greet their friends and relatives.

Paul sends greetings to and from Christians in different occupations. In this way, he showed his desire for Christian unity. Reference to believers among the officials means that the Christian faith had reached the absolute centre of Roman government.

Verse 23 Paul began his letter by praying that his friends at Philippi will have ‘grace and peace’ from God (1:2). He ends by sending them his blessing. ‘Grace’ comes from the ‘*Lord Jesus Christ’, whose love is the source of all spiritual blessings. The whole letter gives honour to Christ who is ‘Lord’ of all believers.


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