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: 2: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3: I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4: Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5: For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 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: 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. 8: For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9: And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10: That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11: Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. 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; 13: So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14: And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15: Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
Paul writes this letter with Timothy at his side, as a joint letter to the Christians in the Roman Colony of Philippi. They describe themselves as ‘Servants of Christ Jesus’. The word is ‘bond slave’. Bond slaves were slaves that having been granted freedom come back to serve for love of their master. They are bond slaves of Christ Jesus (Not Jesus Christ - The order of the words indicates that Paul has in mind the glorified Christ who was once a man on earth.) Paul uses the Jewish traditional greeting 'Peace' and adds to it the Christian greeting of 'Grace'. (In the Synagogue the Peace greeting would be first but writing to Christians the Grace greeting is first.) The word Peace for a Jew has the concept of wellbeing. Being in a right relation with God in which the conscience does not disturb fellowship. In other words it is the state of a righteous Jew who finds that God smiles on him because he obedient to the Mosaic covenant. God promised heath, wealth, happiness, fruitfulness, children, a long life and freedom from enemies if they obeyed the 613 commandments of the Covenant. The word Grace for the Christian is the concept that God is kind to the unworthy sinner bringing him into Gods blessing, not because of anything that he has done whatsoever but simply because he loves him. It is the favour of God which is completely unmerited. The sinner cannot be disqualified from Grace because he is - a sinner, or unworthy, or unthankful, or because he cannot love God in return. He comes on the basis of the fact that he really believes that Christ actually died for Him. That is faith and on that basis alone God in Grace saves him. His salvation is never to his credit - he has no credit with God he comes as a unworthy hell deserving sinner and God is kind to him even though he does not deserve it. Paul always thanked God for the believers at Philippi, whenever he thought about them. And because of their faithfulness in helping him with gifts of money he was always filled with joy. What a great privilege it must have been to support Paul in his missionary work. These believers had started supporting him right from the beginning and had never given up. Faithfulness is a great virtue. He also says that he is confident that the work of God begun in their souls God will carry on to completion until the day that Christ returns. The day of Christ Jesus must refer to the calling of the church to heaven. Paul says that the way he feels about them is right and proper and that they are constantly on his mind because in whatever situation he finds himself in the Philippian believers share in Gods grace with him. The bond of personal affection between Paul and his converts was very close indeed. He calls on God to testify of his love for them. He love for them is not human love, wonderful as that might be. Rather he says the love l have for you is the Love of Christ Jesus which he has placed in my heart for you. Paul’s prayer for the Philippians believers is that their love may abound more and more. The word abound means to break over the bounds. Like a flood breaking the banks of the river and flooding the dry areas in land. That is how our love is to break out to bring kindness and blessing. Their love was not to be blind! It is to be in knowledge and depth of insight. Our love is to be intelligent and wise. Only then says Paul will we be able to discern what is the best and remain pure and blameless until the return of Christ. So often believers express their love in inappropriate ways and this can even bring disgrace to Christ’s name. Paul says that when our lives are overflowing with love we will be filled with the fruit of righteousness. This is not a righteousness of our own but that which comes through Jesus Christ and it is therefore not to our praise but to the glory and praise of God. Paul was not apparently phased by the fact that he was in prison. He had come to realise that everything works together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose. Paul’s imprisonment meant that he had access to the people of Rome but was in fact protected from murder by his enemies by the guards who imprison him. The whole palace guard had come to understand why Paul was in chains. Not because he was a criminal but because the Jews criminally wanted to murder him. Because of Paul’s imprisonment many Christians had found courage to stand up and be counted. There were some believers who preached in a way that produced trouble among the believers. They might have been preaching legalism or libertarianism. However Paul is not fazed by even this annoying circumstance, rather he says Christ is being preached. Sometimes it is out of good motives and sometimes it is even to add more burdens to Paul’s heart, but Christ is still being preached and however defective - he rejoices in God that the Gospel is being preached in Rome. Of course Paul would not be happy with a completely false gospel being preached. These people were preaching the true Gospel whatever their motives.