Philippians 001 – Peace Not as the World GivesPhilippians 1:1 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 29, 2020 • Philippians
Peace Not as the World Gives
March 29, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
Yeah. All right. Well, let’s open in word of prayer.
Father we’re grateful for this morning. Grateful for our truth. Grateful for your word. Many people around the world are looking for a word from the Lord. And we have that here in your word, the Bible, particularly the book of Philippians, since it seems to deal with this crisis that we’re in and really any crisis beyond that because it teaches us how to live a life of joy, independent of circumstances. And so we just ask that first this morning and over the next few weeks that you would really help us to absorb these truths as Christians so that we can be people of joy no matter what’s happening in our individual lives. And only your word can do this. And so I just ask that as your word is taught this morning and in subsequent weeks, that it would minister to our hearts. And we ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said, amen.
All right. Well, I want to welcome you to Sugar Land Bible Church the main service. This is our main teaching service. And today we’re going to be taking a look at a book that we haven’t studied yet. So this is part one of a series on the book of Philippians. You might recall that we completed last week the Book of Revelation. And so now the Book of Revelation. All 75 sermons, I think are in our rearview mirror. Hopefully not permanently. Hopefully you’ll be reviewing that material. But here we’re embarking on new ground. The Book of Philippians. So I have entitled the opening message on the Book of Philippians as follows Peace. Not as the world gives peace. I guess we could throw a comma in there or a colon or a semicolon. Peace, not as the world gives. Because that really is the point of the book of Philippians. In fact, Jesus in the upper room said this to his disciples, who are about to go off into the Age of the church, most of whom would be martyred. He made this statement in John 14, verse 27, he says, Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you Not as the world gives do I give unto you Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. And I believe that the book of Philippians is an unpacking of that truth, because in the contents of this book is the recipe for no matter what the Christian is going through, they can continue to walk with God and have the peace of God in the midst of the storms of life. And how could we not think about the story of Jesus on the boat sleeping? In the midst of a storm. And the disciples were panicked and they were trying to wake up Jesus.
And don’t you care? Lord, we’re drowning. And he rebukes, first of all the wind and the waves. He rebukes storm. And then he turns to the disciples and he rebukes Storm B, which was happening in their hearts. And he makes the statement, Oh, you of little faith. So how do you keep a peace of mind in the midst of the storms of life? Well, that’s really what the whole book of Philippians is about. So the book of Philippians is about as follows and this consequently is the title of our sermon series.
Joy and the Christian Life. Joy is something very different than happiness. Happiness comes from the word happenstance, circumstance, happenstance or luck. In other words, a lot of people are happy because things are going well for them. But what about when things go south and the difficulties of life come? Well, Joy is the peace of God in the midst of that circumstance.
And that’s what Jesus was speaking of in John 14, verse 27. And I don’t believe that a Christian can walk in that. If they don’t understand the book of Philippians, and I thought this would be an appropriate study because given the situation that the country is in and the world is in, there’s great fear that’s overtaken people. And there’s even fear gobbling up the Christian life. The Christian lives, Christian individuals. And we need not live that way. When we’re living in fear, we’re living beneath our privileges. So one of the things I like to do when we start a book is I like to work through the introductory issues of the book. And there’s four issues we’re going to try to cover this morning, and there’s four more issues that we’re going to try to cover this morning.
And there you find actually two more issues, a total of ten things that we’re going to look at this morning to kind of acclimate ourselves to this particular book. Because I don’t think we can appreciate the message of a book until we understand the circumstances surrounding a book. A lot of people look at the Bible as if it’s a giant book of fairy tales. Jack and the Beanstalk, Veggie Tales, just kind of nice stories. And what I’d like to communicate today is this book came into existence through very real people and very real circumstances.
Paul was in much more severe circumstances than most of us find ourselves in today and may ever find ourselves in. And yet in the midst of it, you have this message of joy independent of circumstances. So number one of the ten who wrote the book of Philippians, well all the church fathers agreed. And essentially there’s almost an unbroken belief in this going back 1900 years. And this chain wasn’t disrupted until you have German higher critics in what’s called the higher critical movement second guessing this. But prior to that movement, everybody externally outside the Bible believe that Paul was the writer of this particular book. And beyond that, you can look into the book itself and you can see Paul’s fingerprints All over This book. Notice Philippians chapter one and verse One. You see, Paul’s name is mentioned there. And you’ll also see other earmarks.
Of Paul’s fingerprints on this particular book because he mentions a man named Timothy. Verse one of chapter one says Paul and Timothy, Bond servants of Jesus Christ. And that, in fact, when you look at Chapter two verses 19 through 23, you see another reference to Timothy. Paul says in chapter two, verse 19, but I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly. And this fits everything we know about the Apostle Paul. The background of this particular book is something that happened earlier in Paul’s ministry over ten years earlier. It’s Acts 16. When you study the 16th chapter of the Book of Acts, what you’ll see is how the Philippians’ church came into existence on Paul’s second missionary journey, and you’ll see Timothy involved in all of those events in Act 16. And so it stands to reason that Paul would mention Timothy. In fact, when you go over to Philippians three verses four through six, I won’t read it now. But what you see there is a description of Paul’s life. Before he got saved. And that fits exactly everything we know about Paul. As we find it in the Book of Acts. And when you look at Philippians one, verse seven and chapter one verse 13, you’ll see Paul mentioning an imprisonment. And then over in Philippians chapter one verses 25 through 27, and Philippians Chapter two, verse 24, you’ll see the Apostle Paul speaking about how he’s going to be getting out of prison soon. And that fits exactly of everything we know about Paul’s first imprisonment, as recorded in the Book of Acts Chapter 28 verses 16 through 31. And beyond that, you notice how Paul through this Book, or at least you’ll see it, how he keeps using the personal pronoun, “I”. In other words, this is a very personal book.
And it stands to reason that Paul would communicate in such a personal way, since he literally is the father or the planter of the church there at Philippi. So sort of to make a long story short, we believe as Christians have believed for 1001, 1900 years, that Paul the Apostle is the author, or is the writer of this particular book.
The second introductory issue is the destination. Who exactly was this book written to? Notice, if you will, Philippians chapter one. And notice verses one and two. Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Jesus, Christ. To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and the deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s quite obvious when you look at how Paul describes his audience at the beginning, that he’s writing to saved people. They’re called saints. They are in positions of leadership, overseers and deacons over the Philippine Church. They’re experiencing grace and peace. And notice how he refers to God as not my father, but our father. In other words, Paul is identifying with the believing status of his audience. So very clearly, Paul is writing to those individuals that are already saved. You say, well, what’s the big deal about that? Well, it’s actually a very big deal. Because that establishes what you believe the purpose of the book is. This is not a book about how to get folks saved. This is not a book about how to lead people to Christ. This is a book about the middle tense of our salvation, progressive sanctification, where Paul is addressing something that is deficient in the life of the Philippine church. And what is deficient is the absence of joy, or peace or, tranquility in the midst of adverse circumstances.
This book is not like John’s gospel. John’s gospel, you can tell, was written to the unsaved because the purpose of it is people might understand who Christ is and believe and consequently experience the gift of life. So obviously John was writing to people in the Gospel of John anyway who were unsaved. They hadn’t believed yet. They hadn’t received the gift of life yet. That’s not what you have happening in Philippians. So this is not a book about justification. This, rather, is a book about the believers. Sanctification as it’s addressing something that is lacking in the life of a Christian that we need to grow into. And that thing is Joy. Who else was this book written to? Not only is it written to save people, but you’ll notice what Paul says there in verse one of chapter One. Those that are in Philippi. Now, what exactly do we know about Philippi? There’s where Philippi exists on a map. We know from Acts 16, which is the background concerning how the Philippi and Church came into existence.
Philippi was a Roman colony. Augustus converted the city into a colony and a military outpost in 42 B.C., thereby making that particular city autonomous and self-governing. Now, here’s something else that’s very interesting. Augustus forced some in Italy to migrate to Philippi around 30 B.C. in exchange for what is called the italic right. Allowing people to live in Philippi and still retain their Italian citizenship. Now, if you understand that background, then all of a sudden Philippians three verse 20 starts making an awful lot of sense. Because Paul says, therefore, our citizenship is in heaven. As Christians, we are citizens of our different countries. But our ultimate citizenship is in heaven. And writing to a group of people that understood this italic right and the concept of dual citizenship, they would immediately pick up on what Paul was saying. And when it talks about Philippi being a special city autonomous exempt from taxation, a privileged city, his audience would immediately understand Philippians. Chapter three, verse 20, which indicates that if you’re a believer in Christ, you are a citizen of a different city, which has privileges. So one of the reasons I like to review some of this background is not to bore you with a bunch of geographical details about ancient history, but when you understand the city of Philippi, the dual citizenship and the privilege it was to be involved in this particular colony, you start to understand why Paul emphasizes the thing he emphasizes or the things he emphasizes. He’s bringing up concepts from their own time period and building spiritual analogies out of them. And one of the things that’s interesting about Philippi is Philippi is a city in which there was no synagogue. When Paul on his missionary journeys went into different places, once he left the land of Israel, he always went to the synagogue first.
And you can see that there in the Book of Acts over and over again, he goes to the Synagogue, particularly as he preaches Christ in the synagogue, trying to work with those that would have a common understanding of Hebrew scriptures with him, trying to show them Jewish individuals that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, He would sort of preach there for a limited period of time, usually got a pretty cool welcome. Many times he was kicked out of the synagogue. And then he goes to the Gentiles and He reaps a great harvest. Amongst the Gentiles, Paul does this over and over and over again in the Book of Acts. In fact, one of the classes I taught in the Bible College for years and years was Acts Paul. And I told the students, if I ever ask you on a quiz or a test, what did Paul do in such and such a city? Just say he went to the synagogue and got kicked out and then he went to the Gentiles and reaped a great harvest. Because that’s what happens to Paul in any city he’s in. But there is one exception here, Philippi. There is no synagogue that he went to first. Charles Ryrie and his diary study Bible comments on this in Acts 16 verse 31, He says, apparently there was no synagogue in Philip II because it required at least ten Jewish men to organize one. So this was not a particular city that had a great Jewish population. And so, there was no synagogue in Philip. So what Paul does is he finds a convert by the name of Lydia. And he preaches the gospel to her. You see all of this in Acts 16. She becomes the first convert in Paul’s Philippine ministry, and literally from Lydia is how this Church started in Philippi. Philippi was located on what is called the Via Ignacio Highway, which was a highway connecting Rome in the west to the east. And there was the city of Philippi located on this particular highway. In fact, it’s interesting. I’ve actually visited this area. In modern day Greece. And it’s interesting that you can go there and you can see the remains of that city. And if you look very carefully, it may not come out as good on this picture. I’ll show you another picture where it comes out a little better.
But you can actually see the well-worn tire marks where the Romans centurions and the Roman chariots and so forth went through Philippi all of the time. Because Philip II was strategically located on this via Ignatius highway. There’s probably a better picture of the actual stones from the ancient world and the actual engravings from use of Roman wheels in chariots over and over again, going to this particular area and through this particular area. In fact, the Book of Acts Chapter 16 and verse 12 says of Philippi that it was a leading city. Of the District of Macedonia. So that’s how Paul worked. He went to areas that he knew were population magnets. He didn’t go to some obscure place out in the wilderness somewhere. When he was doing missionary work, he did what was obvious. He went to where the people were. So there is Philippi. And Philip II was founded the church at Philippi. Anyway, I’m speaking of here, by the way, there’s a reference to it being the chief city in Macedonia. But this particular church was founded on Paul’s second missionary journey. Paul went on three missionary journeys. And here is basically where he went on his missionary journeys leaving from Antioch. And in this particular missionary journey, he got beyond Southern Galatia and Asia. In fact, he wanted to go up north and preach in Asia, and the Holy Spirit told him not to do it. And when he got to this place called Troas, as he received this vision in Act 16 of the Macedonian man, the Macedonian man saying, come over here and help us. And so Paul leaves truth as the gospel for the first time.
Perhaps penetrates Europe under Paul’s leadership. And then Paul goes to where the population magnets are, and he goes to this little or not little, but large city of Philippi. And he founds the church there. And he’s there in that area with Timothy and Luke. And we know Luke is there because the Book of Acts at that particular point. Chapter 16 Luke, the author of X, starts saying, We. We did this, we did that. Those are called the wee sections of the Book of Acts.
So Silas, Timothy and Luke enter Philippi, about A.D. 51. Paul would go to a synagogue, but there is no synagogue there. So what happens is he meets this woman named Lydia. And you see a reference to that in Acts 16 versus 13 and 14. It says on that Sabbath day, we went outside the gate to a riverside where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer. And we sat down and we began speaking to the women who had assembled a woman named Lydia from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God was listening, and the Lord opened her heart to the things which were spoken by Paul. So he’s got a convert now, under God’s grace. In Philippi. And essentially what happened is there was a demon possessed young girl who was following Paul and his team around. This young girl had the capacity to predict the future under Satan’s power. And Paul got tired of this little girl following around, yelling things. So he cast the demon out of her. And as the demon was cast out of her, she no longer had the ability to predict the future which meant that gravy train for the owner was no longer rolling in because this this slave girl brought in a great profit for her owner based on her ability to predict the future.
And this is what got Paul and Silas thrown into prison in Philippi around A.D. 51. Now, in Philippi today, there was all kinds of excavated remains of the city, and they’ve discovered this potential room that very well could have been the prison that Paul was in. And so it’s always interesting to me to note how archaeology is not contradicting what the Bible says, but archaeology seems to corroborate what the Bible says. In fact, many people and archaeologists have argued that the Book of Acts is one of the great sources you can actually use as you go into that part of the world to discover archaeological remains and artifacts. And as you know, the story from Acts 16, to make a long story short, this is what leads to the conversion of the Philippine jailer in Acts 16 verses 30 and 31. Remember, there was an earthquake and Paul could have escaped. And if he had escaped, it would have been the end of the Roman Centurion or the Philippine jail. Or I should say, there, because if you let criminals out on your watch, you were in a lot of trouble with Rome.
So Paul says, Don’t harm yourself, Acts 16, We are all here and accounted for. And then the Philippine jailer asks Life’s most important question. Sirs, What must I do to be saved? Acts 16, verse 30. They? Paul and Silas said, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Or believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved and your household. So Lydia is saved. The Roman centurion and his or the Philippian jailer, I should say. And his household is saved. And so this is how the church at Philippi got off the ground in Acts 16. Paul eventually left there and moved into Thessalonica. And while he was in Thessalonica and other places, this little church loved Paul so much they sent to him Philippians Four verse 16, and Thessalonica, a gift more than once. So this little group of Christians that is now started in Philippi were able to garner enough resources to send Paul an offering. And Paul always loved this little church because of it.
And they’re willing to share with him financially in the cause of the gospel. Paul, on his third missionary journey, sort of retraced his steps, visited Philippi briefly. You’ll see a reference to Philippi there on Missionary Journey three in Acts 20 and verse Six. And by the time we open our Bibles to the book of Philippians, Paul is in prison in Rome, and he’s going to write a letter to this little church.
About A.D. 62. So that’s a little bit of information about the audience that Paul is addressing, which takes us to a third question. The place of writing. I mean, where exactly did Paul write this book of Philippians from? We know who he’s writing to. But where is he writing from? Well, he is writing from his first Roman imprisonment. That is recorded in Acts 28 verses 16 through 31. Paul at the end of the book of Romans finds himself in house arrest waiting his trial before Caesar. And it’s from there. He writes to this church that he had planted over ten years earlier. As you look at Chapter One, verse Seven, Verse 13, Verse 17, there’s a reference to his imprisonment, and that’s the imprisonment he’s speaking of. He mentions the Praetorian Guard and Caesar’s household. That was the elite guard charged over Paul because Paul was a Roman citizen. And if you are a Roman citizen requesting a right, you received an elite guard. And this is the elite guard that was watching over Paul in Rome when he writes the book of Philippians. And it’s interesting that he mentions in Philippians one Verses 14 through 17, a vibrant church where he was. Preachers, and that would fit well with what we know of the Church of Rome, very near to where Paul was in his place of imprisonment. And when you look at Acts 28, verse 30, this is what it says about Paul and where he wrote from.
It says he stayed two full years in his rented quarters and 2as welcoming all who came to him. So that’s where Paul is. He is waiting for his trial before Caesar. He is under house arrest. And he has access to people coming and going. He’s being watched over by this elite guard. And this is the place that Paul wrote his letter from. So the bottom line is this Paul wrote the book of Philippians from Rome. They’re in the west, moving further east to this church at Philippi that he had founded at 16, describes it about ten or perhaps 11 years or more later or earlier, I should say.
What’s the date of this book? Well, we know that Paul wrote this particular letter at the end of his first Roman imprisonment. And there’s a reference to that in the Book of Acts, chapter 28, verse 30. He’s in that Roman imprisonment for two full years in his own rented quarters, and was welcoming all who came to him.
So that’s where Paul is. He is in this place of Roman imprisonment. Notice Acts 20, verse 30 tells us he was there about two years. And so the date would be of this imprisonment about 80, 60 to 62. And so we basically believe that Paul wrote this book probably about A.D. 62. The letter to the Philippians indicates that he was in Caesar’s household, Chapter four, verse 22. He believed that his release was imminent because he believed that his trial before Caesar was going to go his way. You see a reference to that perhaps in chapter two, verse 24, where he says to the Philippians, I’m going to be coming to you shortly. And it’s during these two years that he writes for books that we call the prison letters. And those are the book of Ephesians written first, I believe, followed by the book of Colossians, followed by the Book of Philippians, followed by the book of Philemon.
Now, perhaps my order is a little different than what’s on this chart. But if you look here at number five, you see that during that two years those two years of imprisonment, he writes these prison letters, written from prison, written during his first Roman imprisonment, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and then Philippians. There’s kind of a debate. Did he write Philemon first or Philippians first? People go either way on that. But this is most likely the order. That you see on this chart, because what you see as these two years progress, the letters get more and more optimistic that he’s getting out of jail soon. So that’s why we put them in the particular order that we put them into. And so Philippians would be his fourth prison letter. Now, keep in mind, of all of the letters Paul wrote, this would be his 10th letter. Now why is all of this background significant? It’s significant because he’s going to talk to them about joy. He’s going to talk to them about peace in the midst of adverse circumstances. And one of the things I like about the Apostle Paul is he’s not an ivory tower theologian. enjoying a tenured position. sitting in an air-conditioned office, somewhere talking about joy. I mean, this is a guy that walked it because he, as I mentioned before 11 years earlier was in a Philippine jail. And he was flogged. And as he was flogged, he is praising the Lord in the middle of the night. And that’s what really, I believe, captivated the attention of the Philippine jailer. So Paul was obviously experiencing something that most Christians don’t experience. He was experiencing how to walk with God, how to enjoy the peace of God in the midst of very difficult circumstances. And in fact, when the earthquake occurred, at 16 and he had an opportunity to flee, he didn’t flee. And that Philippian jailer saw that there was something abnormal about this man, Paul. He had obviously tapped into a level of internal peace, regardless of circumstances that the Philippine jailer had never seen before. And so he says to Paul. Asks life’s most important question of Paul and Silas What must I do to be saved? And let me explain something to you. As a Christian, people are watching your life right now. And they’re watching my life as this coronavirus and COVID 19 and circumstances enveloped the Earth and what the world is looking for is people that represent the peace of God in unpeaceful circumstances. And if you’re able to tap into the joy that God has for you in the midst of this kind of adversity, economic dislocation, layoffs, dwindling budgets, then you’ll have some tremendous evangelistic opportunities. And when Paul finally addresses the church in Philippi through a book, he’s also in jail. So Paul knows all about being in jail connected to Philippi. And he’s not writing this particular letter about joy from some kind of comfortable secure environment. He’s in the midst of adversity. And so this is a book written by a man who didn’t just talk the talk. But as we like to say, he walked the walk.
Which leads to another question is what was the occasion? For this particular letter, why did Paul feel it incumbent upon himself from Rome to address the Philippine church? Now, some of this I hope you don’t find it tedious or boring. I feel it necessary to talk about some of these things because I want you to see these are real people, real events, real circumstances which gave rise to this book of Philippians that we are about to embark on a verse-by-verse study of. You have to understand the five contacts that took place between the Philippians’ church. And Paul in Rome. Number one, news of Paul’s imprisonment reached Philippi. So he was in prison in Rome and the Philippians learned about it. Contact number two. Is this man Epaphroditus? This man is a tremendous servant. And there are certain people I am hoping to meet right away when I get to heaven. And one of them is this selfless servant of God. This man Epaphroditus, who came to Rome, number one, to inquire of Paul’s circumstances, to give him a financial gift.
Chapter four, verse 18, and Epaphroditus stayed and worked alongside Paul in his house arrest to give him even more money. And you see references to this in chapter Two, verse 25, verse 27, Verse 30. In fact, this man of Halford Titus was such a servant as he worked alongside Paul to provide Paul with even more finances that he almost worked himself to death. And you’ll see a reference to that and all of those verses that I just enumerated. And then number three, word of Epaphroditus’ sickness reached this church at Philippi. Chapter two, verse 26.
Number four, Epaphroditus discovered that the Philippians knew that he was sick. Chapter two, verse 26.
And so finally Epaphroditus returned from Rome to Philippi after the Lord had healed him. There’s a reference to the healing of a powerful Titus in chapter Two, verse 27. Now, what was on the mind of Epaphroditus? Epaphroditus returns from Rome to Philippi. So Philippi, number one, would rejoice in the healing that Epaphroditus had received. And number two, Chapter two, verse 28, so that the Philippians would not be worried about Epaphroditus, I mean, what a servant there. I mean, he’s worried not about his own sickness. He’s worried about everybody else worrying about the fact that he’s sick. And that’s why he returns. From being useful to Paul in Rome back to Philippi. And it’s through these events that Paul writes this letter. And Paul writes this letter responding to things he had learned about the Philippine church from Epaphroditus. So poor in the midst of all of this, learns about a deficiency in Philippi, which is a lack of joy. And he writes them this four-chapter book to teach them how to walk in joy. And so it’s fascinating to see all of the circumstances that gave rise to the divinely inspired epistle that we have today called The Book of Philippians. This is not somebody sitting down and writing a systematic theology. These are real people, with real problems and real struggles and real concerns and real hopes and real disappointments.
That the Holy Spirit strategically used to give us this wonderful, warm book that we call the Book of Philippians. Something else to understand about the book of Philippians are the opponents. There are four opponents in the book of Philippians, and I like to call these the joy stealers. If you give these opponents the upper hand in your spiritual life, you’ll never, and I will never walk in joy. So what are the joy stealers? Number one, Philippians one, 15 through 18. There were those in Rome. Remember Rome? There’s a vibrant church in Rome where Paul was imprisoned. Paul discovered there were some in Rome preaching Christ out of selfish ambition. Imagine that. People that thought they could prosper because Paul was in prison and expand their own ministries. As a result, I mean, there’s nothing that destroys the joy of the Christian minister knowing that there are people that are directly trying to compete with him at a wrong motive. So that’s opponent number one.
Number two. There were those in Philippi. And you get a reference to this in Philippians 127 through 28, there were those in Philippi persecuting the Philippine church. Now that’ll wreck your joy too. People persecuting you from the outside. That’s why Paul there in verse 28 of chapter one says, do not be alarmed by your opponents. And if that weren’t bad enough, opponent number three there were those in Philippi trying to get the Philippi and church involved in legalism. That’s why Paul, in chapter three, verse two says, beware of the false circumcision. What is legalism? Legalism is trying to walk out the spiritual life by measuring up to some standard through human power. And if that’s how you’re living the Christian life, trying to do the work of God or measure up to some external standard through human power, that will make you miserable faster than anything you can think of. That is a joy stealer. And the reason it steals joy is we’re failures under that. We can never measure up. So Paul in this letter is talking about a life above and beyond legalism.
And the fourth joy stealer are the antinomians. These were people who were against the law. There’s a reference to them in Philippians Three verse 19, where it speaks of those whose God is their appetite. And that was another voice in Philippi saying, Just go back to the sin nature and send up a storm. It doesn’t matter. I mean, you failed under legalism, so just let the sin nature do what it wants to do. And many Christians are in that position. Legalism hasn’t worked for them. So they go into licentiousness. And what you discover under that lifestyle is, yes, there’s always windows of pleasure that antinomianism against the Law brings, but at the same time it doesn’t produce the abiding spiritual life that God has for us.
So those are the opponents that Paul is dealing with. One opponent where he was in Rome, three opponents where they were in Philippi. Which takes us then to the purpose of the letter. Why would Paul write this letter? Well, obviously, a key point of the whole thing is Joy. Because the concept of joy, or the word joy and there’s a couple of different words that are used on this letter. Joy is used 18 times in four Chapters. So obviously that is an overriding concern of Paul as he addresses an issue not of their justification, but their progressive sanctification, the middle tense in their salvation, he has gotten word from Epaphroditus that these Christians, he’s not second-guessing their Salvation. These Christians, who are part of this church that he himself started in Philippi on his second missionary journey over ten years ago, are not really walking in joy. And one of the reasons they’re not walking in joy, is because of adverse circumstances that have come upon them. They’re being persecuted. You see that in chapter One verses 27 through 30. Verse 29 talks about their suffering. Verse 28 talks about them being alarmed by their opponents. So something is happening in their lives that’s stealing their joy. And it’s something coming in from the outside persecution. And no doubt many of us as Christians are struggling with that today. Because are we going to have jobs when all of this COVID 19 stuff is all over? Will there be a job for me to go back to?
And so we’re not walking consequently in the joy God has for us, because we’re being pressured from the outside. And so I believe the point of the book is this. It’s how to have joy during adverse circumstances. Anybody can walk around with a smile on their face when things are good. But have we tapped into the deep, abiding life of Jesus Christ, Jesus asleep in the midst of the storm? Have we tapped into that kind of peace? And here I’m not speaking of positional peace. These folks already had that. I’m speaking of experiential peace because the Jesus asleep in the midst of the storm is the same Jesus that lives inside of us right now, as I’m speaking via the Holy Spirit. And if Jesus was asleep in the midst of the storm and he’s living inside of me, why am I pushing the panic button so frequently? There must be something missing. Not in my justification, but in my walk with God. And Philippians. if you honestly give yourself to it, we’ll tell you what’s missing. It’ll lay it out very, very clearly. So as I said before, the point of the book of Philippians is an unpacking of John 14, verse 27, where Jesus in the upper room says, Peace, I leave with you my peace I give to you not as the world gives. Do I give to you? Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. The world says you can have internal tranquility as long as everything on the outside is working for you. That’s not what Jesus is speaking of here. It’s not what Paul is speaking of here. It’s not what Paul is exhibiting or was exhibiting to them when he was with them. He was speaking of something beyond circumstances, which is something we desperately need to understand today.
So that leads us into what I would consider to be an outline of the book of Philippians. You look at any book of the Bible, small book or large book. And you want to try to figure out how do I wrap my mind around it and organize it? And what you discover is the Book of Philippians has basically four parts to it. Each part contributes to the theme. Of joy in the midst of adversity. Chapter one is part one. Chapter two is part two. Chapter three is part three. Chapter four is part four. And you look at each of those four chapters. And you’ll see exactly how to walk in joy in the midst of adversity.
Chapter one. What is that about? It’s about how God can use negative circumstances to bring about positive results. We were just talking about this in this room, how a lot of us are in shock that people can’t come to church. But we do have a staff here and volunteers putting this live stream together. And I had a chance to talk with a person that’s one of our volunteers that I normally don’t have a chance to talk to. So that’s an example where God took something negative and has allowed me to experience something positive ss a result of it. And that’s true with any negative circumstance. Paul had developed the mental discipline of seeing not the glass half empty, but half full. No matter what happened to him, he could see something positive that God was doing. And if we develop the mental habit of doing that, then you can never be a prisoner of your circumstance. Because God is taking what is negative or what appears to be negative and turning it around for a positive. So Paul in chapter one is going to give four examples of this. And then in Chapter Two, he is going to talk about servanthood, because the Bible says it’s better to give than to receive.
The people in life that are the most fulfilled are the people that put themselves in the position of giver. Not in the position of taker. And consequently Paul talks about servanthood and he’s going to use several examples of servanthood.
One of them, we’ve already met this man Epaphroditus. He holds him up as an example. One of them is Timothy. He holds him up as an example. Paul even holds himself up as an example. But ultimately in chapter two, he holds up Jesus as an example. And that’s where we have the famous kenosis passage, which means the emptying of Christ. How God did not consider, Jesus did not consider glory with God as something that He held on to. But he volitionally, temporarily gave that up, didn’t give up His deity as we’ll be talking about, but gave up the privileges associated with deity for a season. And so he is the example that we are to emulate, imitate when we think about this life of service. And if you start to give yourself away as a servant, you know what you start to discover in the Christian life? A level of fulfillment and contentment that you didn’t know before. So number one, develop the mental mindset where you can see everything negative as something positive. Number two, give yourself away as a servant. Number three, get out of legalism, because legalism will suck the absolute life out of your Christian life. Paul in chapter three says, You know. I know something about legalism. Because before I was saved, I was the quintessential realist. In fact, I was so legalistic that I was murdering people. To uphold my code of legalism. And let me tell you about the transition that happened in my life. And so that becomes a description or an explanation as how to shed that unwelcome skin of legalism. And move into what God actually has for you. And what you start to discover, there is joy.
And then in chapter four. He gets into the subject of relying upon divine resources. Someone has said the Christian life is difficult, which is a perspective I reject. The Christian life is not difficult. The Christian life is impossible. This is why God never expected the believer to live the Christian life through his or her own power. If you’re trying to live the Christian life through your own power, joy is gone. And you’re a perpetual failure because your flesh can never fulfill the expectations God has for us. So we have to become familiar with our divine resources, supernatural resources that the Christian has right now that they can tap into any moment, to walk in joy. What are those three resources? Well, they’re developed in chapter four.
Pardon the acronym PCP. Peace. Contentment. And provision. All three of those are yours and mine, peace, contentment and provision. By the way, Paul says, concerning contentment. I have learned the secret of contentment. So it’s not something that came naturally to him. It’s something that the Lord discipled him into receiving. And he could be flogged in a jail and praise the Lord. He could be in Rome in prison writing a book about joy because there was something that he tapped into called contentment that God gave him independent of circumstances.
So that’s how the book breaks down. And so the message of the book then is as follows: Joy during adverse circumstances is possible. It’s not guaranteed. You’ve got to become disciplined under the Book of Philippians to receive this. But it’s possible as believers do four things. A, understand that God uses adversity to bring about positive results. B, as we follow Christ’s example of servanthood, C, as we avoid legalism, and D, as we draw upon divine resources for daily life.
Joy during adverse circumstances is possible as believers understand that God uses adversity to bring about positive results. Hey, that’s chapter one. I mean, I’ve got to mentally develop the mindset where behind every negative I can see a positive. Because God is doing that, whether we see it or not. You develop that mindset, you’ll be living above your circumstances. You’re not a prisoner to your circumstances anymore.
Joy during, during adverse circumstances is possible as believers follow Christ’s example of servant hood. Hey, that’s chapter two. Because it’s better to give than to receive.
Joy during adverse circumstances is possible as believers avoid legalism. Hey, that’s chapter three.
Joy during adverse circumstances is possible as believers draw upon divine resources for daily life. Hey, that’s chapter four. That’s where we’re going to find PCP. Peace, contentment. And provision.
Concluding our list here, what are some unique characteristics of this book? It’s a very personal book. There are probably 120 uses of personal pronouns in this book where Paul is giving us really his heart. It’s a very warm book to people that he loves, people whose church he started. Under God’s power. And the love he has for these people is very evident. It’s also a book that really doesn’t have a lot of theological vocabulary. If you want some theological vocabulary, read the book of Romans. You can get a lot of theology there, not so much here, with one exception. Philippians two may be the exception there, where the kenosis or the emptying of Christ is described there. Perhaps more than any other book. It’s a book of abrupt transitions as Paul moves from topic to topic. It’s not a formal treatise like you have in Romans. And he’s changing subjects so quick. He’s obviously very emotional as he pens this letter and very personal. It’s a book which reveals a high Christology. Reveals Jesus in His emptying, never relinquished His deity. And you see that in Chapter two verses five through 13.
This is a book also about the believer’s thought life. Show me your thought life and I’ll show you what kind of joy you have or don’t have. It has to do with mental discipline, where you see words like this: attitude, think. Those concepts are used about nine times in this letter. It’s also a book about military concepts that would make sense because Paul is chained to the elite Praetorian Guard as he is writing this. And so he’s thinking in military terms. He’ll use words like: stand firm, be brave fellow soldier, walk, keep. Et cetera. And this is also a book about women leadership. You know, we do take a stand here at Sugar Land Bible Church on the fact that certain offices in the church are reserved for men. My fear, though ls we can pound that so hard that we give women the impression that they’re not welcome in ministry. Not so. Paul’s first convert in Philippi. Was Lydia. You don’t have a converted, Lydia. You don’t have a Philippine church. And he is going to, in chapter four, deal with two women who obviously were saved. Chapter four, because their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It says, Chapter four verses two and three, And they are women that had stood with him in the cause of the gospel. Women were in Paul’s ministry constantly. And he’s expressing His distress with Him because now, rather than doing what they used to do as servants of Christ, they’re fighting with each other. And the fact that Paul would take the time to correct this situation shows you the value that Paul placed on women in the ministry.
So in conclusion, we’ve gone through sort of an outline, not an outline, but the background of the book. Here’s the ten questions we’ve asked and answered. Number one, who wrote it? Paul. Number two to whom is it written? Believers. That’s important. Not unbelievers. Believers at Philippi. Number three, where was it written from? It was written from Rome. Number four, when was it written? It was Paul’s last prison letter. A.D. 62, number five. What was the book’s occasion? It’s the five contacts that took place involving Epaphroditus between Paul and Rome and the church at Philippi. Number six, who are Paul’s opponents? The joy stealers. There’s four that we went over. Number seven, what is the book’s purpose? It’s to give the believer joy in the midst of adversity. Number eight. How is the book organized? There’s a four-part outline that we went through. Each part is contained in a different chapter. Number nine, what is the book about? It’s all about joy during the Coronavirus or any other adversity that comes into your life. And finally, number ten, what makes the book different? The book is highly personal and informal.
And we’re out of time for today. There’s just enough time to say the following. Perhaps you’re watching, listening, listening live, listening later, and you just don’t have a relationship with the Lord. If you don’t have a relationship with the Lord, there’s no way to tap into these resources that we’re going to be reading about and studying in the Book of Philippians. How can you have peace in your life to any extent if you don’t know personally the prince of Peace?
So walking in joy, the first step is to know the God that made you and we call this the gospel, meaning good news. Meaning Jesus stepped out of eternity into time to pay a penalty for our sin that we could never pay. And He was victorious in that, as evidenced through his resurrection from the dead. And what he says is to get right with the God that made you. Doesn’t involve trying harder or being better. What it involves is trusting in Jesus, who did the good work in your place. I’m not trusting in my good works to have a relationship with God. I’m trusting in Jesus who did the good work in my place 2000 years ago. Rest or trust or rely on that. Another way of saying it is to believe in Christ. No longer trusting myself and my religiosity, but resting exclusively and solely in what Jesus did for me on the Cross and His promises. That’s what makes you right with God. And once you get right with God, now you start to read The Bible like the book of Philippians, and you see these incredible resources that God has given us by which we can live for Him while we were, while we are still here on the Earth. And we can walk in a joy that the world cannot fathom nor understand because it’s supernatural. And it comes from Christ. So I would just challenge anybody that’s unclear on their eternity, just to in the privacy of your own thoughts and mind to trust in Christ. You can do that now, even as I am speaking.
So at this point, we will conclude our study and we will briefly read this benediction for our dismissal. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn his face towards you. And give you peace. God bless you. You’re dismissed. And thank you for watching. We’ll see you next Sunday morning.