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Philippians 1:3-6 FELLOWSHIP OF MESSENGERS

Paul really loves these guys! 
He thanks God for them every time they come to mind.
And when he prays for them he says he prays with joy. Always.
And the reason he prays with joy is because of their partnership in the Gospel.
Their κοινωνία (koinónia) in the εὐαγγέλιον (euaggelion).
Their fellowship in the GOOD NEWS.

I am a keen reader of The Lord of the RIngs. In the Fellowship an unlikely group of travelers come together with a single purpose.  Although they don’t stay in a single band for the entire adventure, their common objective binds their hearts.
This is what Paul is saying to his beloved Philippians.  Although they are separated from each other, they are united in heart and mind in the work of the gospel, the good news.  And THE good news is this:   God loved the world SO very much, that he gave his one-and-only Son, Jesus Christ, to bridge the gap between HOLY GOD and self-centred HUMAN.  And in Jesus Christ’s victory over death, we can now know our HOLY GOD in an intimate way through his Holy Spirit.  And His Spirit binds our hearts and minds in Christ! A fellowship of followers.

The Greek word  εὐαγγέλιον  (which is translated here as Gospel or Good News) originally meant a reward given to the messenger for good news (εὔ = “good”, ἀγγέλλω = “I bring a message”; the word “angel” comes from the same root) and later “good news” itself.  inherent in the GOSPEL is the idea that this GOOD NEWS is proclaimed, that the fellowship is one of proclamation. 

Paul is saying:  “I pray for you with great joy because we are united in the FELLOWSHIP of BEING MESSENGERS of the GOOD NEWS from the first day of this adventure until now, and I am certain beyond any doubt of this, that Christ, who began this GOOD WORK in you will continue working until the work is complete on the day of Christ Jesus.”

The koinonia of euaggelion —

the Fellowship of the Messengers of Good News

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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in philippians

 

Philippians 1:1-2 — GRACE & PEACE

 grace&peace

Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons

After identifying Timothy and himself as bondservants of Christ,
Paul greets the Philippians as “saints.”  This is translated from the Greek “ἁγίοις” (or  “hagiois”) which when translated into English means  saints / holy ones / those who are set apart by God / pure and blameless ones.
He continues and says “together with the elders and deacons.”
Isn’t it interesting that Paul addresses his letter to ALL the saints in Christ Jesus, and tags the elders and deacons on at the end.  He wants to be inclusive.  And he doesn’t want the “hagiois” to sit back on their hands and leave the elders and deacons to do all the work.  Neither does he want the elders and deacons sitting back directing the work.  He is addressing them all in this letter as equal Kingdom citizens.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

We often end our letters with this kind of “wish” or “blessing.”  It is so vitally important to our life in Christ that Paul puts it in the second line of his letter.  “‘GRACE’ (undeserved favour of God) and ‘PEACE’ (wholeness and health) to you,” he writes.

The good news of the Good News of the Gospel is GRACE! χάρις!  Charis!  Grace is undeserved favour.  We deserve death.  And God comes down and makes him who knew no sin, become sin on our behalf.  Undeserved.  Amazing, unfathomable grace!

And the result of this grace in our lives is PEACE!  εἰρήνη!  Eiene! Health and wholeness!  God’s grace breaks the curse of self-centredness in our lives and allows us to fix ourselves to Christ as his bondservants.  Only by receiving his GRACE, and responding to his grace by humbling ourselves into a position of servanthood, can we know PEACE.

Paul’s blessing is also his prayer for them.

Grace and peace to YOU!

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2013 in philippians

 

Philippians 1:1 — SERVANTS

bondservant

Paul starts the way any good letter writer should — identify the author(s) and greet the recipient(s).
The text begins with: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus.”

This would be so easy to skip over.  Paul and Timothy.  Okay.  Timothy was with Paul, who is writing this letter from Rome while he was under house-arrest, awaiting trial.  Paul never married, but devoted his life to Christ and the establishment of Christ’s Church.  Both in his letter to the Philippians and in a letter to the Corinthians, Paul claims Timothy as his “beloved and faithful son in the Lord.” In a letter to Timothy, Paul addresses him as “my beloved son.”  Timothy (whose grandmother Lois and mother Eunice were believers) was with Paul when he first traveled to Philippi. Timothy was a devoted companion to Paul and a faithful courier for Paul.

Paul identifies Timothy and himself as SERVANTS of Christ Jesus.  This Greek word δοῦλοι is translated as “servants,” “slaves” or “bondservants” in various translations.  Today when we read the word servants many of us think of “those who serve.”  Domestic workers are “servants.”  Waitrons are “servants.”  But the word Paul uses, δοῦλοι,  denotes people who are bound in service to another without any compensation.  δοῦλοι were servants who liked their masters enough to choose a lifetime of serving them. The root word of doulos is the word meaning “bond” or “fasten,” frequently with chains in the biblical contexts. Doulos is a permanent, willing humility to a designated other.

Paul is eager to use this word to describe himself. By using this one word he is saying that he is irrevocably bound to Jesus as a slave.  It is his one and only directive — with each breath he draws — to serve Christ, and Christ alone.

We have so many agendas.  If we are completely honest with ourselves, most of us spend each and every day serving ourselves.  Oh, sure, we go to work and serve others — but we do the job for compensation.  How many of us would get up each day and go to our place of work if we were not getting paid?  I am not suggesting we should work for nothing, but can we call ourselves bondservants of Christ?  Is he the one for whom we do everything we do?  Can we call ourselves bondservants of Christ Jesus?  And if we do take this identity seriously, what do our lives look like?

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in philippians

 

Philippians

philippians

Philippians is the eleventh book in the New Testament. The Church in Philippi was the first congregation in Europe. Paul visited Philippi for the first time on his second missionary journey (49-51 A.D.).
The record of Paul’s stay in Philippi can be found in Acts 16. While traveling through Galatia, Paul had a vision of a man begging him to come to Macedonia to help them. Paul and his companions (including Silas and Timothy) immediately set sail for Samothrace and then travelled on to Philippi. Philippi was a Roman colony and a leading city in the district of Macedonia. On the Sabbath they went outside the gates of Philippi to the river, expecting to find a place to pray. There were some women there, one of whom was Lydia, and the men sat down and started speaking to them. Lydia responded to Paul’s message and she and every member of her household were baptised. She persuaded the travellers to stay at her home.
Amazing things happened in Philippi. Read the story in Philippians 16:11-40. (http://niv.scripturetext.com/acts/16-16.htm )
Paul wrote the letter to the church at Philippi during his imprisonment in Rome (probably about 61 or 62 A.D.). It is a letter filled with his expression of joy for the Philippians and thanksgiving for their material support.

On a personal note, I can remember studying the book of Philippians five times in my life. Rather than becoming mundane, the repeated studies have endeared the text to me. Some of my favourite pieces of scripture are found in Philippians. I am thinking that 2013 will be the year of servanthood, and what better place to start than in Philippians.

Take it away, Brother Paul.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in philippians