Philippians 4:23

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen Philippians 4:23

This final greeting is similar to that of many of his other closing statements. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” is one of the greatest concepts found in the Bible. Man is fallen and man needs grace for his salvation and for his continued walk with the Lord. Paul asks for this stupendous blessing to be bestowed upon those in Philippi (and thus us!). In this petition, it is understood that they are undeserving of it. One cannot merit grace. Therefore, the petition is one of hope that this unmerited favor “of our Lord Jesus Christ” will continue to be lavished upon them – sinners already saved by that same grace.

This grace, being unmerited, is especially highlighted here for them to consider their position before God. As with other churches addressed in his epistles, they have been tempted by those who reject Christ; they have been led astray to deeds of the flesh; etc. Paul is reminding them that they stand by grace and that this grace should be with them all. Some Greek manuscripts instead say “…with your spirit.” Which is correct is debated. Either way, the spirit is the highest part of man. It is the aspect of us which is reconnected to God because of grace, not works.

Man spiritually died when Adam disobeyed God; Jesus Christ regenerates our spirit through His work. Faith in that deed, and faith alone, is what brings this about. Paul asks them to consider this and let this grace continue to be that which guides their spirit. And with that, he closes with “Amen.” So be it!

Life application: If you have come to the book of Philippians, read it, contemplated it, and still think that you should be pursuing works of the law in order to make God happy (or happier) with you; or if you believe that you can live a life of licentiousness because you are “already saved” and so it doesn’t matter, you have a serious issue with understanding grace. You may not be saved at all. One cannot earn grace, and considering grace as a license to sin is perverse. Put away such things, and stop sneering at God’s offer of peace. Be reconciled to God through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Lord God, we are all on different levels of spiritual understanding, but there is one point which even the youngest child can grasp – we cannot earn grace. You have offered it to us, and all we need to do is to reach out our hand and receive it. Help us to never add to what You have done through the grace found in the cross of Jesus. May we boast in what He has done, and put away our deeds of the flesh in our pitiful attempt to please You. And also, O God, may we never use the grace You have granted us as license to sin. Instead, may we live holy lives, dedicated to You. We praise You for Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Philippians 4:22

Friday, 10 March 2017

All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household. Philippians 4:22

“All the saints” seems to show that “brethren” of the previous verse are those who were with Paul more directly. The others, being referred to as “all the saints,” are those who were found throughout Rome. They, either personally, or by representative coming to visit Paul, had asked to be remembered to the Philippians when he hailed them in this letter.

He goes on to say though, “but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.” This is a term which included all levels within Nero’s scope of influence, from the lowest slave or freedman even to the highest official. The term “Caesar” is an appellation applied to the office, just as Pharaoh was ascribed to the ruler of Egypt. Thus it speaks of whoever is in the office at the time, which during the time of Paul’s letter was Nero.

It is debated why Paul would single these people out, but it may be that it is showing those in Philippi that even the very halls of power were being converted to Christ. If those in such a high place had bowed the knee to Christ, then it was a warm assurance that this life truly means far less than what lies ahead. The place of wealth, power, and pomp was considered as of less importance than that house which is being prepared for those who wait patiently on the Lord.

It can even be deduced that Paul’s chains, as are noted in verse 1:13, were to be preferred above anything that this world could offer, even in the highest place of the Roman Empire.

Life application: There have been many powerful people in church history who have willingly bowed the knee to Christ Jesus. As Isaiah prophesied so long ago, “Kings shall shut their mouths at him.” It is the highest honor of all to be called a Christian, and therefore, we should never feel that our personal state – whether rich or poor, popular or not, or any other worldly distinction – is a reason to be exalted or humiliated. When we have Christ, we are the most blessed of all.

Lord God, there is no greater honor to be found than to bear the title of a follower of Christ. Whether a president, a movie star, or a janitor, all are on an equal level before the matchless King. Whether we have much or little, we who are in Christ are the fullest of all, even to overflowing, because of the abundance He provides. Let us never be ashamed of our worldly position, but let us glory in our state which is derived from being called a Christian. Thank God for Jesus Christ who exalts the lowly and who brings us into favor with the Father. Amen.

Philippians 4:21

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. Philippians 4:21

In many letters, Paul personally addresses individuals. Here he makes a more general statement without specifically noting anyone. It is unsure why this is the case, but it may be because he has already mentioned several people in the epistle, and he does not want to make specific greetings which might then give the impression that his attitude was less favorable to those he earlier mentioned (such as Euodia and Syntyche) than he led on.

For whatever reason, he simply says, “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.” All who are in Christ Jesus are, by default, saints. The idea of sainthood found in the Roman Catholic Church is wholly unbiblical and without any merit at all. Rather, any and all who have received Christ Jesus are “in” Christ Jesus and they are saints. He would have all greeted in accord with this distinction.

He then notes that “The brethren who are with me greet you.” Why the term “brethren” is used here instead of “saints” is of great talk among scholars. Many say that he is speaking of the Jewish believers that were with him. It is true that there were Jewish believers with him, but this would then leave obvious omissions, and it would also illogically divide the body.

First, it would omit any Gentiles with him. We know from 1:1 and 2:19 that Timothy is there with him. It is not to be expected that he would so faithfully mention him twice and then ignore him in his final words. Secondly, to say that the Jews only were brethren would leave out the Gentiles, but he uses the term of Gentiles elsewhere many times. Suffice it to say that Paul is simply using the term “brethren” as an indication of the believers there with him, each a saint as well.

And as an important note, Peter is never mentioned here, in Philemon, in Romans, etc. when addressing or referring to those in Rome. It shows us without any doubt at all that Peter was not the first “Pope.” If he were, it would be the highest dishonor to overlook such a lofty thing as that. The Roman Catholic claim that Peter was the first Pope does not bear up at all when the words of the Bible are considered. The claim is false.

Life application: When reading commentaries, be careful to not just assume that the commentator is correct, thus making a new squiggle in your brain which is incorrect. Instead, read commentaries, and then evaluate what has been written against what you already know about Scripture. Oh but wait! How can you do that unless you ALREADY KNOW SCRIPTURE? Read your Bible!

Lord God Almighty… We are often provided with commentaries on Your word. We must then decide if what those commentaries say is in line with the rest of Your word. If they are not, and we accept them as correct, our theology will be faulty. But how are we to know UNLESS WE ALREADY KNOW OUR BIBLE? What a shame it is that we would ask questions of others concerning Your word without first having at least a basic idea of what it says. If we do not, we are only setting ourselves up for disaster. And so give us the wisdom to get up each day and read this precious, marvelous gift which You have given to us. May we stand approved before You in our life and doctrine. Amen.

Philippians 4:20

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Philippians 4:20

Paul now issues forth a doxology similar to others elsewhere in his letters. Taken with the previous two verses, we see that he is tying “God” here to “God” in the previous verses, but referring to Him in a new way. Here are the three verses together –

“Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

He has gone from a general reference, to a specific but singular reference, to a specific and plural reference. In this verse, “our God” is the object of praise from the church as a whole. All share in His goodness, and He in turn is worthy of the worship of all. It is to “our God and Father” then that this is due. Because of Christ, we are brought into the son-ship of God, and we are reckoned as children of God. He has become our heavenly Father because of Jesus.

It is to Him that shall “be glory forever and ever.” However, there is an article which is missing in this translation. In Greek, it says, “the glory.” Paul shows by his use of “glory” in the previous verse, and the use of “the glory” in this verse, that there is a glory which we can participate in, but there is a specific glory which belongs to God alone. It is a part of His nature which is incommunicable. This particular glory belongs to Him, and it does so “forever and ever;” or as the Greek reads “for the ages of ages.” It is a term which indicates in the strongest sense that it will never, never end.

He finishes with “Amen.” So be it, and thus it is so. Using “Amen” here shows the absolute and pivotal importance of the truth of the statement he has made.

Life application: Paul is known to break into sudden doxologies at various times in his letters. Sometimes they happen only at the end, but not always. He let his sense of awe at what God has done guide him in his praise of God – at any and every moment that was appropriate. We should likewise follow in this habit. If we are overflowing with awe, then let it out. Whether walking alone on a path of beauty in the deep woods, or whether posting on FB after contemplating His splendor, let our voices and words reflect His surpassing glory with praise to Him. Don’t hold it back!

Lord God, You are surpassingly glorious in all ways! To You alone belongs the glory, and to You alone are praises due. May we never withhold our tongues in praise when we are filled to overflowing with the wonder of Your works. How can we withhold from You the praise of our lips when we contemplate Your majesty? May it never be so! Glory to You in the highest, O God. And again, glory to You in the highest! Amen.

Philippians 4:19

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

The words “my God” here are emphatic. He is making a stress based on what he just said concerning “God.” If read together, the stress becomes more evident –

“Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

The offering they made was acceptable to God, who is Paul’s God. He will then draw the two thoughts together in the next verse. For now, he says, “And my God shall supply all your need.” In Greek, it reads “And my God will fill up all the needs of you.” It is not just a single need that they will have filled, but all needs, both physical and spiritual. Whatever is lacking will be made full. However, this is not a promise for prosperity. Needs do not equate to desires. God gives us everything we need, but it is not always what we want.

The Christian who stands ready to be executed for his faith in Christ does not stand and say, “I claim that BMW at the car-lot.” The prosperity gospel is no gospel. The needs of that person are met in his life, or in his death, by God who has promised us so much more than this temporary, woe-filled life. All that He gives for our needs are “according to His riches.”

There is no limit of God’s ability to give. He can and He will provide abundance to each according to the need, but He will also provide so much more at times as well. In our eternal state, we shall never lack or have want. The riches of God will flow like a never-ending river to satisfy His people. Again however, we need to be careful to make a distinction between what is a need and what is a desire lest we fall into the false teaching of the prosperity gospel.

Paul continues by saying that each need is given according to His riches “in glory.” What is on Paul’s mind with the words “in glory” is debated. Some scholars tie this to the word “riches.” Others will connect it with the word “supply.” And then even that can be subdivided between “supply your need with glory” meaning “with glory to you,” or “with His glory.” It is hard to be dogmatic, but Vincent’s Word Studies gives a good, well-rounded thought with, “The need shall be supplied in glory and by glory; by placing you in glory where you shall be partakers of glory.”

No matter which is correct, Paul finishes with “in glory by Christ Jesus.” The word “by” in Greek means “in.” Therefore, it is provided to God’s people by their union with Christ. And so, he is not making a statement to anyone except those who are of the faith. God does not meet the needs of people “by” Christ Jesus for those who are not “in” Christ Jesus.

Life application: It is important to make the distinction between what is a need and what is a want. When we confuse the two, our hope and trust in the Lord may be weakened when we don’t get what we want. Let us understand that God meets all of our needs according to His wisdom. We will never have a time when our needs are not met. But our needs are what He determines, not what we feel is correct.

Glorious Heavenly Father, You have promised to meet all the needs of Your people. Help us to be wise enough to know the difference between needs and wants. If we believe that we will get everything we want, but then that doesn’t happen, our trust in You may falter. But when we realize that our needs are always met, then our hope and trust in You will remain strong at all times. Grant us this wisdom and help us to have a correct knowledge of these things. To Your glory we pray. Amen.