Read Philippians 1:1-8
1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Philippians is considered one of Paul’s most personal letters. Some have referred to this letter as a letter of joy as the word “joy” and “rejoice” appear often. The Philippian Church has a special place in Paul’s heart. It was started by him on his second missionary journey. You can read about his going there in Acts 16.
When you look at Acts 16, you see the breadth of the reach of the Gospel. In chapter 16 of Acts, there are three different people Paul meets in Philippi. There is Lydia, a dealer in fine purple clothe. There is a slave girl who is demon possessed and there is the jailer. Each person represents a different nationality and a different economic place in life. Yet all three come to know Jesus as Lord.
Philippi is an interesting city in that it is a Roman Colony that was established by Roman soldiers who had retired and earned their Roman citizenship. So, Philippi operated much like Rome. While far from Rome, everything in it was Roman. The people were proud of their Roman citizenship.
The letter is written first as a letter of Thanksgiving. It is second a letter about Epaphroditus who the Philippian Church sent to help Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome. And finally, the letter addresses some concerns at the church as well as encouragement.
What is interesting about the relationship between Paul and the Philippian church is that Paul boasted he never excepted help in his ministry. But he did accept help from one place and that was the Philippian church. They were special to him and he was able to let his guard down a little with them. I think this is an important point. We need people in our life who we can go to in times of need or just to talk. We need that friend or small group who we can trust because we know the love is true. Paul had this with the Philippians.
Do you have a person or group who helps you and who knows you well enough that you can kind of relax around them and enjoy one another? We all need people like this in our lives – people we can speak honestly and who will speak honestly to us back.
I hope this look at Philippians will be a learning and worthwhile endeavor.
Blessings and Peace