Session 17

Philippians Study – Session 17

Philippians 4:14-23

 

This is our 17th and final session in our journey through Philippians.  Paul ends this letter to what was arguably his favorite church with some wonderful words of affirmation for his friends and fellow believers in Philippi.  The thing about the closing verses of Philippians that stands out to me is how affirming and uplifting they are.

 

Philippians 4:14-20

In this section Paul praises the Philippians for sharing with him their material resources.  One thing the Bible makes clear about God is that He is a giving God...it is God’s nature to give...He has given us the gift of life itself...He has given us a beautiful world in which to live...He has given us all that is necessary to sustain life...and when we rebelled against him and fell into sin, God gave us the most precious gift of all, “For God so loved the world that He gave--He gave his only begotten Son...”  And because it’s God’s nature to give, it should be the natures of those who follow Him to give as well...and while Christian giving should not be limited to just the giving of money, it should not exclude the giving of money either...this section is a wonderful overview of the benefits of sharing with others…

I.       As we share, obviously others are blessed

1.      Paul begins this discussion of giving by saying in v.14, “You have done well to share with me...”...that can be paraphrased, “You have done a good thing...”...and in these verses Paul spells out some good things our giving does for others...our sharing--

--Encourages others - In v.14 Paul speaks of the Christians in Philippi “sharing in my affliction” through their giving... Paul’s affliction was that he was in prison...his physical freedom was lost...the spirit of concern represented by the giving of the Philippians was a great comfort and encouragement to Paul...

--Expands the ministry of others - In vv.15-16 says that the church at Philippi was the only church to send Paul financial support to assist in his ministry...their support made it possible for Paul to continue on to places like Thessalonica in northern Greece and Corinth in southern Greece and Ephesus in Asia Minor...the giving of the Philippians greatly helped Paul in his work and helped changed the Christian landscape of the 1st century world...

--Meets needs of others - In v.18 three times Paul tells them their gifts met specific needs in his life...

2.      Point of all that is one reason we should give is that others are benefitted by our giving...

 

II.    As we share, God is blessed

1.      May sound like strange, even absurd thing to say...how can God, the Creator and Owner of all things, possibly benefit from our giving?... but that’s exactly what Paul says giving does...look at how he describes the giving of the Philippians in v.18...he calls their giving “...a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God...”

2.      The phrase “...a fragrant aroma...” is very important...a similar phrase is used more than 40 times in the OT to describe a sacrifice in which God finds delight...for example, in Leviticus 1 where the Israelites are given detailed instructions on how to prepare and offer a sacrifice to God...and in Leviticus 1 three times the phrase “...a soothing aroma to the Lord...” is used to describe a sacrifice properly made...

3.      And the clear meaning of “...a fragrant aroma...” in Phil.4:18 is that as we give, God is blessed and pleased...sharing with others is one way of expressing our love for God and acknowledging that we understand that all we have comes from Him...

 

III.  As we give, we are blessed

1.      Look at v.19...it’s one of the great promises in the Bible...”And [that is, as a result of your faithful giving which blesses others and blesses God] my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”... 

2.      That is a wonderful promise...notice how positive, how affirming it is...not “...my God...

--might supply...”

--could supply...”

--ought to supply...”

But “...my God shall supply...”...no question...no doubt...no wavering...it is an absolute certainty...

3.      What is it that God shall supply?...not “...my God shall supply all your wants...desires...”  But “...my God shall supply all your needs...”

4.      I like what one writer says about this promise...”God has not promised to supply all our ‘greeds.’  When the child of God is in the will of God, serving for the glory of God, then He will have every need met.” [Wiersbe, Be Joyful, p.140]

 

Philippians 4:20-23

These verses are a beautiful benediction to this letter.  In these verses Paul lays out in rapid fire fashion some basic principles he wanted to drive home to the Christians in Philippi.

·         Principle 1 – All believers in Christ are members of the same spiritual family

Notice the phrase “our God and Father” in v.20...in the previous verse Paul had referred to God as “my God”...but as he closes the letter he reminds his readers that God is not the Father of a select few...He is “our God and Father”...all the redeemed are His children...we all have equal standing before Him...we should love each other and care for each other and treat each other with dignity and respect because we are members of the same spiritual family...

 

·         Principle 2 – We must not lose sight of the basic nature of God

We are to view Him as “Father”...there’s a beautiful thought in the phrase “God and Father”...the word translated “God” is theos which is the basic Greek word for God...word translated “father” is pater which is the normal word used to describe an earthly father...in linking those two words together, as he often did, Paul is saying that God is not some distant, uncaring, unreachable far away deity...instead He’s as close to us and as compassionate toward us as our earthly fathers...

 

·         Principle 3 – We must keep in focus our most basic response to God

We are to give Him “glory”...the word for glory is doxa from which our word “praise” comes...healthy believers are characterized by vibrant, meaningful, healthy praise of or worship of God...there is nothing a Christian does that is more important than or should take priority over worship...we must give worship our highest priority and our best effort...if we fail in worship, we undermine the very foundation of the our relationship with God...[In the classic Arabian Nights Sinbad warned his shipmates of a great magnetic rock said to have been in the Indian Ocean...the legend was that the magnetic pull of this rock was so strong that it would pull the nails and bolts out of passing ships and the ship would come apart and sink to the bottom of the ocean...there is a sense in which the powerful influence of the world acts upon Christians like that magnetic rock acted upon those ships...it seeks to pull us apart...to loosen our grip on things which are eternal...and it is the act of worship week after week which tightens the bonds which hold us together and tightens our grip on things which are important...healthy, dynamic, meaningful worship keeps our lives together...]

 

·         Principle 4 - We are to be considerate of each other - Notice the repeated use of the word “greet” in v.21... ”Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.  The brethren who are with me greet you.  All the saints greet you...”...that is one of Paul’s favorite words...in his writings in the NT Paul uses this word more than 50 times...it means much more than just to acknowledge someone’s existence...it carries the ideas of welcoming and accepting...of making others feel at home with you...we are to treat people in such a way that they are glad, not sad, to see us coming...

·          

·         Principle 5 - Every person in the fellowship is important - Notice the first part of v.21...”Greet every saint...”...don’t exclude anyone...don’t overlook anyone...don’t leave anyone out...God’s people are to be inclusive toward each other...that’s a theme which permeates Philippians...no less than 14 times in the four chapters of this letter Paul uses the word “all” in referring to the Philippians...he didn’t want anyone to feel left out...and from that we should learn that there are not second class citizens in God’s kingdom...every single person is important and vital to the fellowship...

 

Now look at the last verse of Philippians – “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”  Paul ends this letter where he began – reminding his readers that they are the recipients of God’s grace.  The Greek word  is “charis” and it essentially means unmerited favor.  It has been said, and I think correctly so, that the word “grace” sums up Christian theology.  One writer defines the word as “the free and undeserved giving by God to [people] what they cannot achieve themselves” [Moulton, quoted by Vaughan, p.20].  And because we are the recipients of the blessing of “grace” of God, it is possible for us to live in joy, in spite of the outward circumstances of our lives.  And that is the main theme of Philippians.

Comments