Session 2

Philippians Study – Session 2

(Philippians 1:3-7)


1.      Paul begins Philippians by reminding his dear friends at Philippi and by reminding us all followers of Jesus Christ share three things in common.  We are all:

                  --bond-servants of Christ (v.1a)

--saints in Christ (v.1b)

--recipients of grace and peace from Christ (v.2)

All that is in the salutation to the letter that we explored in detail in our previous session.

2.      Following the salutation in verses 1-2, Paul begins the main body of this letter.  As we saw in our last session, Philippians is one of Paul’s prison epistles.  Along with Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, it was written during a time when Paul was under arrest.   He had been falsely accused of something he did not do and as a result of the false accusation he had lost his freedom.  But amazingly, Paul does not begin this prison epistle by expressing anger or bitterness or resentment or vindictiveness toward those who falsely accused him nor is there a hint of a “poor me” attitude in what he writes. 

3.      Instead, he begins this letter by expressing feelings such as thankfulness and joy and confidence in the providence of God in his life and the lives of his readers.  Look at Philippians 1:3-7.  Most English translations of Philippians 1:3-7 break down those five verses into three sentences.  However, in the Greek that passage is one, long, complex, rambling sentence.  It is as if Paul took a deep breath and then just let flow from his heart the deep, emotional feelings he had for the Christians in Philippi. 

4.      We saw in the previous session that Philippians is the warmest, the most personal of all Paul’s letters in the New Testament.  A deep bond of fellowship existed between Paul and the Christians in Philippi.  And from this emotion packed statement at the very outset of this letter there is much for us to learn about the bond of fellowship, the bond of love, which binds us together as Christians.  For example: 


Christians are bound together by sharing common experiences.

1.      Notice how this paragraph begins in verse 3 – “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you...”  We are not told how long Paul stayed in Philippi.  He first went there on his second missionary journey.  Acts 16, which gives the account of Paul’s ministry in Philippi simply says that Paul and his traveling companions stayed “in this city for some days.” [Acts 16:12]  No doubt Paul was there long enough to share many wonderful experiences, happy times with the new Christians in Philippi.  He led them to faith in Christ.  He baptized them.  He taught them the Word of God.  No doubt Paul had those things in mind when he said, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you...”

2.      But notice the word “all” in that statement.  That is a very significant word.  Paul was thankful not just for the good experiences he shared with the Philippians but for the difficult experiences as well.  And if you read Acts 16 you’ll see that Paul had some very hard times in Philippi.  For example he:

·         Angered some merchants in the city and was dragged by them before the local authorities

·         Received a severe public flogging that left his back raw and bruised

·         Was cast into prison

·         Was kicked out of  the city when the officials discovered that they had no right to hold him because he was a Roman citizen.

Yet, in spite of all that Paul was able to say, “I thank my God in all my remembrances of you...” 

3.   There is an important lesson for us in that for us.  We must not forget that we are bound together as much, if not more by adversity and hardship and challenge, than we are by the good times of life.

4.   I have in my personal library several biographies of some of the men who served in Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment during World War II.  This company was made famous by Stephen Ambrose’s book and then Steven Spielberg’s and Tom Hank’s HBO miniseries The Band of Brothers.  If you read Ambrose’s book or saw the miniseries, you will recognize the names of Dick Winters, Buck Compton, and Don Malarkey.  Each of them, in their biographies about their experiences in Easy Company during the war, said that the thing that bound those men into a band of brothers was the adversity they went through together. 

5.      As strange as it may sound, the people with whom we walk in times of sorrow, difficulty, and crisis are the ones to whom we become the most closely bonded and with whom we experience the most joy.  It is not that the difficult situation--an illness or death of loved one or broken relationship or financial crisis or whatever it may be--brings joy.  The joy comes from the fellowship, the closeness of relationship that invariably develops as people walk together through difficulty. 

6.      Paul was grateful for all the experiences he had with the Christians in Philippi--the joys and the sorrows, the happy days and the sad, the good experiences and the bad—because those experiences drew them more closely together.

7.      Christians are bound together by common experiences and especially the experiences of adversity. 


Christians are bound together by sharing in a common mission.

1.   The burning desire, the magnificent obsession in Paul's life was the proclamation of the gospel.  He lived to tell the world of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and of the eternal salvation available to those who turn to Him in repentance and faith.  That was his mission and Paul was continually driven by it.

2.   As no other church did, the Philippian church shared in and supported Paul in that mission.  Notice what Paul says to the Philippians in verse 5.  He speaks of their “...participation in the gospel from the first day until now...”  The word translated "participation" in NASB is "koinonia."  It means "a joint participation in a common interest or activity."

3.   From the very first the Philippians shared in/participated in the ministry of Paul.

·         When he first came Philippi, a merchant lady named Lydia opened her home to Paul and his companions as a base of operations.

·         When Paul left Philippi to continue his second missionary journey, they sent Paul financial support for his ministry.  According to Philippians 4:15, this was the only church Paul established to do such a thing. 

·         Now, as Paul was under arrest awaiting trial before Caesar, they sent Ephahroditus with gifts to help Paul during a difficult time. 

·         And in addition to providing financial support, they gave Paul prayer support.  In 1:19 Paul told them he was certain his imprisonment would work out okay because they were praying for them.

4.   And what is important to see in that is that Paul and Philippians were bound together by sharing in a common mission—the mission of sharing gospel of Jesus Christ with the world.

5.      Again, there is an important lesson here for us.  Christians do not stay together just because they happen to like each other or have warm feelings each other.  We stay together because of commitment to mission God has given us.  And just as sharing adversity with someone binds us to that person, sharing a common mission with someone binds us to that person.


We are bound together by sharing a common future

1.   That is the basic idea of what Paul says in verse 6.  Philippians 1:6 contains one most precious promises in Bible - "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

2.   Those were perilous days for Christians.  It was dangerous be identified with Christ and His church.  None of them knew what even the immediate future had in store, much less long term future.  In great statement faith Paul said, "Don't worry about tomorrow...God who began work, God who has brought us this far, not going abandon us...."

3.   There is a beautiful picture in that.  Here is the great apostle in prison, perhaps in Rome.  He was writing to favorite church, to a group people he loved very much.  And he says to them, "It's going be okay... God's work will continue no matter what happens in Him and allow Him complete his work in you..."

4.   There is a special word in that for us.  None know what future holds.  We do not know what will be happening in our lives this time next week, much less next year.  We don't know what lies before us.  But do know God is trustworthy.  He has always been trustworthy.  With complete confident we can trust our lives to His care.

5.   We as God's people share this common confidence about the future.  In the end we're going to be with Him.  In the meantime He's promised to be with us.  This confidence that we share about the future helps bind us together.


1.   There's a beautiful ancient legend, repeated for generations by the rabbis, explaining why a temple was built in certain location...two brothers lives on adjoining was married and had houseful of children, the other was a bachelor...

--after harvest the married brother and his wife were talking about how much they had be grateful for...began thinking about bachelor brother and how lonely must be without a family...decided take portion of his harvest to his brother to help make up for his lonely condition...

--at same time, bachelor brother thinking about his good crop, the blessings he had, and his life of ease...began thinking about his married brother and how hard must be care for his family and the extra responsibilities he had...decided to take portion of his harvest to his brother to help make his life less difficult...

2.   Each brother, unknown to the other, set off on their missions of they moved toward each other's homes, they met in a that meeting place the rabbis said is where the temple was built...they called it the spot where love met...

3.      And that is what a Christian fellowship should be--the place where love meets.  Wherever God’s people gather, we should find people who are bound together by--

--common experiences in Christ...

--a common commitment to the mission of Christ...

--a common future secured by Christ...