Philippians 1:1-11 Devotional Commentary

Love: the outflow of faith: Devotional Commentary for January 2-8

Philippians 1:1-11 (NKJV)

This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.

1:1-5
1Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,
5for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,

The mighty work of the Holy Spirit which was openly manifested in the apostles on Pentecost, continued to signify the finished work of Jesus Christ, proclaiming God's work of redemption and provoking the hearts of men and women through His chosen servants whom He called out for the ministry of the Gospel. One such appointee was the apostle Paul who had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.

Paul travelled throughout the Mediterranean world and planted churches in several towns and communities. One such church was the church of the Philippians in Philippi, in North-central Macedonia near the Aegean Sea. Paul wrote letters of exhortation and admonition to each church and nurtured his children in the Lord with God-breathed, Spirit-inspired precepts and principles. The Philippians were no exception.

Paul opened his letter to the Philippians with a salutation that often characterized his writings. Together with his spiritual son Timothy, they saluted the Overseers, Elders, Deacons, and all the saints in the church. They invoked God's favor on the church, asking for God's Grace and Peace to be abundant in their lives.

Typical to Paul's writing is his spirit of camaraderie with fellow-believers whom he considered his children in the Spirit. He identified himself with each instead of talking down at them with ecclesiastic command over them; an attitude of mature spirit to emulate. He simply and fondly greeted them with God's Grace, Favor, Peace, and Goodwill.

He loved them, prayed for them always, and earnestly pleaded with God for them. They were constantly on his mind. He was thankful for them and for the faith he shared with them in the Lord and in the partnership they had in the ministry of the Gospel. He also assured them that his letter to them was Christ's inspired Word inscribed in the Authority of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Power of the Holy Spirit and under His Direction.

1:6-8
6being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
7just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.
8For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.

Paul's love toward the Philippians and his joy in them stemmed from his confidence in God about their lives. He wanted the Philippians to know that God Himself, being their eternal Father and being faithful to the end, will bring the work that He began in them with their salvation to a glorious eternal end which He had already purposed, planned, and accomplished in Jesus Christ. So he rejoiced in that they are not only fellow-believers redeemed by the Blood of Christ, not only in that they shared in the common destiny of eternal life with Christ, but that they are also partners with him in the defense and ministry of the Good News even though he himself was in prison for the cause of the Gospel.

He loved them with the affection of Jesus Christ. He rejoiced in the oneness he had with them in the Grace of God. They were constantly on his mind because he viewed them in Christ as his spiritual children and partners in his suffering as well as his ministry.

1:9-11
9And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,
10that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
11being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Paul's prayer for the Philippians surpassed the expression of his fond love for them. He fervently prayed that their love would be fortified with godly knowledge, wisdom, and discernment. As he did for the Ephesians, Paul prayed that the Philippians too would gain a viable spiritual growth, receive godly wisdom and knowledge, and that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened by the Holy Spirit so they can discern the things of God and the mystery of His redemption.

Paul was well aware that there is always room for growth in every believer's life, however mature one might be. So he prayed for them that their love would increase and mature with discernment and wisdom, that they would live and serve in excellence without displeasing God, that they would consider only that which is excellent and godly, that their lives would be filled with the fruit of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that their lives and service would bring glory and praise to God and God's blessings to fellow men and women, and that they would not be just believers, but also doers of the Word.

Notes/Applications

Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians with a dedication defined by his relationship to his Master Jesus Christ, his commitment to the office to which he was appointed, his unreserved surrender to the Lord, and his passionate care for God's people. As one of God's children united in faith, he hoped and believed that the Philippians and all the saints across the ages, including us, would receive his epistle with the same dedication of genuine surrender to the instructions of God's Holy Word and an unqualified reverence for the Author of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit.

God's wisdom, knowledge, and understanding work effectively in setting the hearts and affections of the redeemed on the heavenly riches we have in Jesus Christ. So Paul encouraged believers to be forward looking in our pilgrimage, unequivocally assuring us that He Who began the good work of His redemption in us, will bring everything to a sure completion. To be sure, our salvation is not merely about the beginning and the ending of our lives as Christians. As God directs our journey of life toward our ultimate destiny with Him, He works through the process of our daily walk where the godly attributes of our faith should be expressed in real-time, in real-circumstances, and with real people.

Then we begin to grow in faith and commitment because Godly excellence, holiness, truth, love, and faith are cultivated into our changed life as the Holy Spirit Himself nurtures our growth with God's eternal Truth, His Holy Word. The fruit of Christ's Righteousness gradually begins to fill our lives. We will be drawn to the things which please and glorify God and bless those around us.

The church at Philippi appeared to be structurally quite organized and vibrant, and had the distinguishing marks of an assembly of loving, obedient, and faithful believers. However, even though he dearly loved them and unequivocally commended them for their love and faith, Paul candidly reminded the Philippians, in so many words, that their Christianity is of no heavenly value without the redeeming Grace of God the Almighty, the eternal sacrifice of God the Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and the irresistible Power of God the Holy Spirit. The same is true for all the saints across the ages including us.

In the end, if our redemption is rooted in Jesus Christ, then our life is the branch upon which His love, Grace, and Mercy are offered to the world around us. If we are Christians who have been redeemed, then we are God's children who live-out our faith, imparting Christ's Love and care toward those around us.

Paul loved the Philippian Christians. He had a special place for them in his heart. He missed them and often longed to see them. He considered them his partners both in his suffering and in the service of the Gospel. The compassion and care of Jesus Christ filled his heart with love and care for them. If the same Spirit works in our hearts, and if the same Savior Jesus Christ is the Lord of our lives, then we too must be moved with the love and care of our Father for others. Being worthy of our calling in Christ, our days and years on earth should be saturated with a fruitful faith which conveys God's Grace, Mercy, and His Love to those whose paths we cross.

Here at Practical Christianity Foundation we believe that God has mercifully extended His Grace toward us and has given us His living and Holy Word to guide us in our journey in this world. We count it privilege to come alongside you and minister to you through prayer and the sharing of God's living and holy Word. Please contact us if you have any questions concerning your faith and journey as a Christian.

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