We read the whole of Philippians when we gathered today.
This is part of the introduction to that reading:
It’s about ten years since Paul arrived in Philippi with Silas. Their clear purpose was to introduce men, women and children to the LORD Jesus.
Philippi was the first city Paul stopped in when he crossed over to Macedonia from Asia… though we’d describe the journey as from Turkey to Northern Greece.
At that time, Philippi’s the major city in the area. It has the prestige of being a Roman colony and the economic benefits of being on a major trade route.
Paul’s first visit to Philippi was neither pleasant nor empty. You can read it in Acts 16.
It began well.
- On the first weekend Lydia and her household came to Jesus.
- But soon after, Paul and Silas are in prison with wounds on their bodies. They’ve been beaten. Flogged publicly. But still they rejoice. Praying and singing to God.
- God removes their chains… but they stay to tell their jailer how he can be saved from God’s wrath.
- The jailer and his household come to Jesus too.
- But it seems that almost straight away the city officials put pressure on and Paul had to leave the little church.
It was years before he got to pass that way again. (Acts 20:6)
And years later again, now Paul is in prison again. In Rome.
Ten years from when he first arrived, the believers continue to thrive.
- they’ve been a blessing to Paul as he heard about God’s continued work among them.
- they’ve been a blessing to Paul by sending Epaphroditus to care for him.
- they’ve been a blessing to Paul through their prayers.
- they’ve been a blessing to Paul in generous financial care.
They’ve been a blessing but it is clear that Paul’s ultimate blessing and joy is in Jesus who saved him.
This letter is full of his joy and his encouragement of them to rejoice in God and his Son who have brought salvation.
When it first arrived, the believers in Philippi read it! … or for the most part listened to it.
- Let’s pray and then I’ll read.