Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians
Chapter 1


“Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:”

“Paul and Timotheus”
(Paulos kai Timotheos)– Literally: “Paul and Timothy”–That Timothy was at this time with Paul in Rome we also learn from 2:19, and also that he was very high in Paul’s estimation. He is also listed with Paul in the introductions to II Cor. and both epistles to the Thessalonians. 

         Paul frequently unites some person with him in his epistles (I Cor. 1:1). It is clear, from this, that Timothy was with Paul at Rome. Why he was there is unknown. It is evident that he was not there as a prisoner with Paul; and the probability is, that he was one of the friends who had gone to Rome with a view to show his sympathy with his sufferings (II Tim. 4:9). There was special propriety in the fact that Timothy was joined with Paul in writing the epistle, for he was with him when the church in Philippi was founded, and doubtless felt a deep interest in its welfare.   
         From chapter 2:19 it seems evident that Timothy was preparing to make a third visit there and was therefore deservedly dear to the Church in that city. It was on these accounts that Paul joined his name to his own, not because he was in any part the author of this epistle, but he might have been Paul’s  amanuensis, though the subscription to the epistle gives this office to Epaphroditus.

        PAUL:   (Gr.-Paulos)–Neither in this epistle, nor in those to the Thessalonians and to Philemon does Paul call himself an apostle; the reason of which appears to be, that in none of these places was his apostolic authority called in question.

        TIMOTHY: (Gr.-Timotheos)–Timothy had also accompanied Paul on his two voyages to Philippi, see Acts 16 and 20., and he seems to have already made two trips back to Philippi (Acts 19:22; 22:3-4). He had remained in Macedonia after Paul went to Athens, and it is not improbable that he had visited them afterwards.

“servants of Jesus Christ”
Literally:  “Slaves of Jesus Christ.” The oldest manuscripts read the order, “Christ Jesus.” There is no definite article “the” in the Greek text.  The construction is as if a colon were placed after Timothy wiich would cause the phrase to read, “Paul and Timothy, bondslaves of Jesus Christ.”  Paul does not call himself “an apostle,” as in the inscriptions of other Epistles; for the Philippians needed not to be reminded of his apostolic authority.

                 SERVANTS:   (Gr.-douloi)–Literally:  “slaves.”

“to all the saints”
How this epistle differs to the one Paul wrote to the Galatians or Corinthans..  Here he is not writing to some little clique in the church; rather, he is writing to all the believers, to all the saints, and every believer is a saint. 

         The Roman Catholic Church gets its saints from among those who are dead, but God gets His saints from among His living ones; from among those who have been made alive in Christ. Jesus said, “He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living” (Mark. 12:27).   The human race is divided into two groups:  saints and ain’ts—those who have received the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior (the saints) and those who have not received Him (the aint’s).  Keep this truth alive in your mind and heart.
         These saints are so, not because of their conduct, nor because of the way they acted, but because of their position—their position in Christ.  They have been set apart unto God by virtue of their placing their trust in Christ Jesus as the ONLY way of forgiveness for their sins and thus their entrance into heaven.  Paul uses the term, “saints,” as a generic appellation for all those dedicated to Christ.  Positionally, a believer has a perfect sanctification in God; but experimentally, the believer retains a sin nature and needs to be more and more set apart in his daily walk as he matures in the Lord.  These Philippian believers were set apart in Christ, but they were by no means perfect.|
        The words, “in Christ,” or “in Christ Jesus” are distinctively characteristic of Church-age believers.  That believers are in Christ is indicated in I Cor.12:13:  “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”  The “one body” refers to the Body of Christ.  This is evident from Eph. 1:22-23:  “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.

         “bishops and deacons”
         Literally:  “Overseers and ministers.”

         BISHOPS: (Gr.-episkopois)–In Acts 20:17 these are called, “elders.”  “Bishop” here simply refers to the pastor,  or the one who had the oversight of the local assembly.  Keep in mind that these were house-churches, and there were several of these in any one town.  Such assemblies were scattered all over the city of Philippi; therefore, Philippi may have had several bishops.

         Scripturally, no such officer is meant as we now use the term, bishop; i.e., as some boss-pastor who is over other pastors lower down in the theological hierarchy. Such is nothing short of the “deeds of the Nicolaitans” that Christ said He HATES (Rev. 2:6).   Considering that these were house churches, these “bishops” may well have been the ones in whose homes the churches did meet.  Dr. David Stern, on page 364 of his outstanding translation, the Jewish New Testament, translates this terms as, “the congregation leaders.”  This is the correct rendering of the word. 
         The word “bishop”
(Gr.-episkopois)–was originally a secular title, used to designate commissioners, appointed to regulate newly, acquired (read, conquered) territory, or colonized.  The term was also applied to magistrates who regulated the sale of provisions under the Romans.  In the LXX (Septuagint-Greek translation of the O.T.), the term is used to signify inspectors, superintendents,  and taskmasters.   

         DEACONS: (Gr.-diakonois)–The “deacons,” (literally: ministers), had the same functions as did those in the Jerusalem church: they traveled around throughout the city, to the homes of the saints, and did minister their physical, as well as spiritual,  needs, one-on-one.  The position of deacon in the NT Church was always that of subordination to the elder/pastor.  The word deacon comes from the Greek word (diakonos), which means, “servant.”

Bishop  Qualifications

Deacon Qualifications













       The work of the deacons was primarily the relief of the sick and poor; but spiritual ministering was also included.  This latter ministering is referred to by the term “helps” (I Cor. 13:28).  Stephen and Philip especially seem to have excelled in this capacity (Acts 6:8-11; 8:5-40).  This may also be to what Paul was referring by “ministering” (Rom. 12:7).  There were even women chosen for this position, as one, Phoebe, the bearer of the epistle to the Romans, is mentioned as being such (Rom. 16:1). 
       Again, in his Jewish New Testament, Dr. David Stern translates this term as, “shammashim,”  or those serving the congregation.  Unfortunately, in far too many churches, deacon boards, have set themselves up as the pastors watch dogs, and overseers of the church, and the pastor, which is totally unscriptural, and even anti-scriptural.  
        The Scriptural intent of a deacon is to take care of the physical aspects of the local assembly (building and grounds, one-on-one visitation,, etc.) and leave the pastor free of such so he (the pastor) is free to spend his time in prayer and studying the Word of God (see Acts 6:1-4)..  Unfortunately, not much of this seems to be being done by the deacons in most churches today.  It is unfortunate that most of those holding this position of deacons are not qualified to be doing so.  Most do not meet even the basic qualification as listed in Acts 6:3–“full of the Holy Ghost,” let alone meeting the other qualifications for the office as listed in I Tim. 3:8-13.

[be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and [from] the Lord Jesus Christ.”

         “Grace [be] unto you,”
          Literally:  “Grace to you.”

        GRACE:  (Gr.-charis)–literally meaning “favor,” was the common greeting among Greeks and Romans.  They used it like we use the greeting, “Have a good day.”  What Paul is saying, is, “May you be partakers of the Divine favor, the source from whence every blessing comes.   

        PEACE: (Gr.-eirēnē)–“Peace” was the common greeting to Jews—(Hebrew:  shalom), but here, because this is the Greek text, the Greek word, eirēnē is used.  This word is used in about every New Testament epistle except in I John.  The Lord Jesus several times greeted His disciples with the phrase, “peace be unto you.”  Grace and peace is Paul’s formal introduction in all of his letters.  Peace always follows grace, it never precedes it. 

Paul here is using the common greeting to both Gentiles and Jews.  union of Jew, Greek, and Roman. The Greek salutation was “joy (chairein), akin to the Greek for “grace(charis). The Roman greeting was “health,” (salutis),  the intermediate term between grace and peace. The Hebrew was “peace,” (shalom), including both temporal and spiritual prosperity. Grace must come first if we are to have true peace.

“from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ”
Before one can have the peace of God, he must first receive the grace (favor unmerited) from God. 

         In this apostolic prayer Jesus Christ is joined with the Father as the source from which grace and peace flow; which could not be, were He not equal with the Father in power and glory. Grace is the favor of God bestowed on men through Jesus Christ, and peace is its effect. Grace and peace, with all their blessings for this life and the future, come from the Father and the Son. For them men are indebted to both the Father and the Son; and to both should give all honor and glory.
         Paul wishes them all the blessings which can flow from GOD, as the fountain of grace, producing in them all the happiness which a heart filled with the peace of God can possess; all of which are to be communicated to them through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Here Paul is stating the deity of Jesus Christ, by listing Him alongside of God the Father, and the means of the favor (grace) from God the Father.



VERSE    3:
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,”
Literally:  “I thank my God on all the remembrance of you.”

        I THANK: (Gr.-eucharisto)—The tense of this word used here emphasizes continual action.  The word is related to the Greek words for grace, (charis), and joy, (chara).  Although it may have been some years since Paul had visited Philippi, he still had vivid memories of these believers and thanked the Lord for them.

        UPON:  (Gr.-epi)–Basis of the thanksgiving of Paul. This is stating the ground for Paul’s thanksgiving–“I thank my God always on your behalf…” (I Cor. 1:4).

        REMEMBRANCE: (Gr.-mneia), means recollection, remembrance.  The meaning is, that as often as he thought of them, fom\r whatever cause, he had occasion of thankfulness.  In essence, Paul is saying, “Every time I think of you, I have another reason to give thanks to God.”  This indeed shows a special relationship between Paul and this church in Philippi. 

But this recollection may have been suggested either by Paul’s own reflections on what he had seen, or by what he had heard of them by others, or by the favors which they conferred on him reminding him of them. He says that he thanked his God, intimating that the conduct of the Philippians was a proof of the favor of God to him; that is, he regarded their piety as one of the tokens of the favor of God to his own soul for in producing that piety he had been mainly instrumental.

Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,”


         “Always in every prayer”
         Literally:  “Always in every petition.” As often as you recur to my mind, so often do I thank God for the great work wrought among you.
         Some think that the words should be translated, for all your kind remembrance; referring to their kind attention to the apostle, in supplying his wants.

        ALWAYS:  (Gr.-pantote)There is much emphasis in the expressions which are here used. Paul labors to show them that he never forgot them; that he always remembered them in his prayers.

         IN EVERY PRAYER: (Gr.-en pasēi deēsei)–Literally:  “in every petition.” This was a proof of particular and special affection, that while there were so many objects demanding his prayers, and so many other churches which he had founded, he never forgot them. The person or object that we remember in every prayer must be very dear to the heart.

“for you all”
Literally:  “On behalf of all of you.”

Not for the church in general, but for the individual member. Paul repeats the word “all,” that he might show that he loved them all equally well, and that he might the more successfully excite them to the manifestation of the same love and benevolence.   The frequent repetition in this epistle of “all” with “you” marks that Paul desires to declare his love for all alike, and will not recognize any divisions among them.

“making requests”
Literally:  “Making {my} petitions.”– Here Paul is giving us an insight into the softness of his heart that he has toward the church in Philippi. 

This is the way it ought to be today in local churches—a feeling of mutual love and affection; a closeness of brotherhood, especially the way it ought to be between pastor and congregation.  Unfortunately, in far too many homes, the Sunday afternoon meal consists of  “roast pastor,” where the children listen to their parents verbally “roast” the pastor as they pick apart his sermon, his actions, the way his wife dressed, and the way his children acted.  And then these self-same parents cannot understand why their teenagers fall away from the church.

         WITH JOY:  (Gr.-meta charas)–This seems to be the characteristic feature in this Epistle, as love is in that to the Ephesians (compare v. 18; 2:2, 19, 28; 3:1; 4:1, 4). Love and joy are the two first-fruits of the Spirit. Joy gives especial animation to prayers. It marked his high opinion of them, that there was almost everything in them to give him joy, and almost nothing to give him pain.

William Barclay points out that throughout this epistle, Paul names at least ten kinds of joy:
   Joy of Christian prayer (v. 4)—“…making request with joy”—the joy  of making petitions to God on behalf of those we love.

2.      Joy of Jesus Christ being preached (v. 18)—“…Christ is preached, I do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” 
When God has given us a  great blessing, our first reaction is to share it with other believers.; also, there is joy in being a part of the gospel being preached all over the world.

3.      Joy of faith (v. 25) “I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith.”   
Barclay has rightly stated that, “Christianity is the faith of the happy heart and the shining face.” When Moses came from the mountain top, his face shone. “They looked unto Him, and were lightened…” (Psalm 34:5).      

4.      Joy of seeing Christians in fellowship together (2:2)—“Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having that same love [being] of one accord, and of one mind.”   There is no peace where there are broken relationships and strife between the brethren; BUT, there is no lovelier sight than a family linked in love to each other, or a church whose members are one with each other, because they are one in Christ Jesus their Lord.|
   Joy of suffering for Christ (2:17)—“Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.”  In the hour of his martyrdom in the flames, Polycarp prayed:  “I thank you, O Father, that you have judged me worthy of this hour.”

Here is one of the great paradoxes of all times and the great puzzles to Satan.  He, and his people, can never understand those of God’s people who will believe, as did this sainted one, Polycarp, or as did Job when he said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him:  but I will maintain mine own ways before Him.”  The paradox is that to suffer for Christ is a privilege,  for it is an opportunity to demonstrate beyond any question of doubt where our loyalty lies and to share in the building up of the work of God
6.      Joy of news of a loved one (2:28)—“I sent him…that when ye see him again ye may rejoice, again that I may be the less sorrowful.” 
Often we must be separated from loved ones:  the evangelist may be on the road away from his family while he is ministering the Word of God; the soldier may be away from his family while he is defending them and his country on some foreign field.  These are but two examples of people separated from loved ones.  A great Scottish preacher once spoke of the joy that can be given with a postage stamp.  I know from personal experience while serving overseas in the military, that I have seen many a lonely man’s countenance be lighted up at
“mail call.”  Never forget how easy it is for us to bring joy to those who love us and how just as easy it is to bring anxiety by either keeping in touch or failing to do so with them.

7.       Joy of Christian hospitality (2:29)—“Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness…” 
Consider this:  there are two types of homes—the home of the shut door and the home of the open door.  The SHUT door is the door of selfishness, while the OPEN door is the door of Christian welcome and love.  It is a great testimony to have a door from which the stranger and the son in trouble know that they will never be turned away.

8.      Joy of those who are in Christ “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord” (3:1); “stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved…” (4:1).  
To be in Christ is to live in His presence.  It is human nature to be happy when we are with the person whom we love; and Christ is the One from Whose love nothing in time or eternity can ever separate us.

9.      Joy of those who won other souls for Christ (4:1)—“my joy and crown.”–
In all my life,  there is no greater thrill than to lead a person to Christ—to watch a new soul being born again.  That is truly a cause for rejoicing.  The Philippians are Paul’s joy and crown, for he was the means of bringing them to Christ Jesus. 

It is the joy of parents, teachers and preachers to bring others, especially children, into the love of Christ.  Those who enjoy this great privilege cannot rest content until they share it with their families and friends.  For Christians, evangelism is not a duty; it is a joy! The joy of soul-winning!

10.     Joy in a gift (4:10)—“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again;…” 
The joy does not lie so much in the gift itself, as it does in being remembered and realizing that someone cares.  This is a joy that we could bring to others more often than we do.  I call it,
The Ministry of Caring. 

“For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day unto now;”
This verse should be taken in connection with Ver. 3. Paul thanks God for their help, their co-operation towards the work of the gospel. They helped forward the work by their prayers, their labors, and their liberal bounty.

“For your fellowship in the gospel”
Literally:  “Over the fellowship of you in the gospel.”–For your fellowship unto, or towards the gospel; in other words, your common interest and fellowship in the work of promoting it. From the first day; of your faith. On the basis of your contribution as in II Cor. 8:4; 9:13; Acts 2:42. The particular kind of “partnership” or “fellowship” involved is the contribution made by the Philippians for the spread of the gospel (v. 7; 4:14).

 This fellowship began “in the beginning of the gospel,” when the Philippians sent aid to the apostle at Thessalonica and Corinth; it continued “until now”  (ten years later); they had just sent their alms to Paul at Rome by Epaphroditus (4:10).      

        FOR:  (Gr.-epi)—This is the same Greek word that is translated as “upon” in verse 3.  Here also it shows the basis for Paul’s thankfulness in making request for joy.

        FELLOWSHIP: (Gr.-koinōnia)–If we consider this as implying spiritual fellowship or communion, then it signifies, not only their attention to the Gospel, their readiness to continue it, and perseverance in it, but also their unity and affection among themselves. Some understand the word as expressing their liberality to Paul, and to the Gospel in general; for the term may not only be applied to communion among themselves, but to communications to others.

There are three elements that must enter into koinōnia:
1.      Spiritual Communication:  This would be sharing the great truths concerning Christ.
2.      Sympathetic Cooperation:   This means working together for Christ.
3.      Sweet Communion:  This makes us partners with Christ.

           IN:  (Gr.-eis)—Although this word is translated as “in,” it really means more than that.  It is commonly translated as “unto,” or “into,” or “with a view to,” or in this case, “with the gospel in view.”              

“from the first day”
Literally:  “from {the} first day”–The time when the gospel was first preached to them. They had been constant. This is honorable testimony. It is much to say of a church, or of an individual Christian, that they have been constant and uniform in the requirements of the gospel. Alas, of how few can this be said! On these verses 3-5 we may remark,

1.      That one of the highest joys which a minister of the gospel can have, is that furnished by the holy walk of the people to whom he has ministered.
2.      It is right to commend Christians when they do well. Paul never hesitated to do this, and never supposed that it would do injury.
        Flattery would injure, but Paul never flattered. Commendation or praise, in order to do good, and not to injure:

         a.      It should the simple statement of the truth; 
         b.     It should be without exaggeration;
         c.      It should be connected with an equal readiness to rebuke when wrong to admonish when in error, and to counsel when one goes astray.

Constant fault-finding, scolding, or fretfulness, does no good in a family, a school, or a church. The tendency is to dishearten, irritate, and discourage. To commend a child when he does well, may be as important, and as much a duty, as to rebuke him when he does ill. God is as careful to commend his people when they do well, as he is to rebuke them when they do wrong-and that parent, teacher, or pastor, has much mistaken the path of wisdom, who supposes it to be his duty always to find fault
3.      Our absent friends should be remembered in our prayers. On our knees before God is the best place to remember them. We know not their condition. If they are  sick, we cannot minister to their wants; if in danger, we cannot run to their relief; if tempted, we cannot counsel them. But God, who is with them, can do all this; and it is an inestimable privilege thus to be permitted to commend them to his holy care and keeping. Besides, it is a duty to do it.


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