The letter to the Philippians is a popular one – there are no major doctrinal issues tackled and it is a thank you letter for a gift, that strangely doesn’t include thanks!
Three things jump out at me as I read the introductory paragraphs of the book.
Saints, Deacons and Elders
The letter is addressed to the saints in Philippi. When we become a Christian there is a major identity change that happens the very second we get converted. We change from being described as a “sinner” to being described as a “saint”. A saint is a “holy one” – we have been declared righteous, or holy and we are now holy ones! The Roman Catholic Church has a convoluted process for conferring sainthood, including posthumous miracles and it can take decades or centuries. The reality is, it takes a second to believe that Jesus died and rose again and confess He is Lord – then you are a saint – why not pause and worship a while on that with my mate Rob’s chorus “I’m a son and a saint no matter what they say”.
Not only are we saints now – Paul is sure that we are eternally secure because he is sure “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus” (v.6). God is at work in you and will keep working in you! Praise God – it’s all about Him
The second thing that jumps out at me is Paul’s gratitude – he gives thanks for the Philippians (the closest he gets to thanking them for the gift!). Paul is one grateful guy – the Dictionary of New Testament Theology tells us that Paul is the most thankful writer in all of antiquity.
‘Our altitude in life is set by our attitude and our attitude is set by gratitude.’
Grateful people go high in life! People love being around grateful people.
3) It’s all about Jesus
For Paul, to live is Christ and to die is gain. He is in prison in Rome, surrounded by the Praetorian guard and he has used the house arrest, chained to shifts of guards, as an opportunity to preach to a captive audience every day! Jesus is known throughout the guard. To live each day is to live in, and for, Christ. When we die, it is gain, because we are with Him forever. So stand firm, v.27, and if you have to suffer, suffer well, bringing glory to God with your secure identity in Christ, finding things to give thanks for and a relentless passion for Jesus!