The Apostolic Salutation
Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Philippians 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we have read earlier, this short epistle was written in prison by the Apostle Paul. What is in his heart is written here. The heart, mind, and soul of the man who joyfully suffers for Christ’s sake and for the gospel’s sake. So lend me your ears for the following weeks as we see and learn from a man who has been used by the Holy Spirit to write 13 books in the New Testament.
I. Authorship. Phil. 1:1
A. Paul wrote this letter from a prison in Rome.
B. Timotheus (Timothy) is not the co-author but the writer under Paul’s dictation. Timothy also helped Paul in the writing of II Corinthians, Colossians, I & II Timothy, and Philemon.
II. Servants of Jesus Christ. Phil. 1:1
A. Servant here means a slave, a bond servant.
1. It is a term used to describe persons devoted to God. Ps. 119:14, Isa. 56:6, Rom. 1:1.
2. Persons devoted to the service of another. Ps. 119:49, Isa. 56:6
3. Word used to express humility. 1 Sam. 20:7, 1 Kings 20:32,
4. In the Old Testament Moses, Joshua, Abraham, and all the prophets are regarded as servants of Yahweh. Being a servant of the Lord is for me a great honor.
Servants also exhibit loyalty, as well as willingness to do what their master wants. They are sensitive to the needs of their master, submissive, so they can please their master in all things. Generally, Christians are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ though we are also sons and heirs. Some servants even die for their master. One of the defenders of the “Alamo” has a servant and this servant used his body to shield his master to save him from death, they both died anyway. As a servant of the Lord are you willing to die for Christ and for the furtherance of the gospel?
III. All the Saints of Christ Jesus in Philippi. Phil. 1:1
A. Saint is one who is set apart for God. The words ‘saint”, “holy”, and “sanctify” are from the same Greek words.
B. In the New Testament, the term saint is applied to all Christians (Acts. 9:13, 32, Rom. 8:27, 1 Cor. 6:1 Col. 1:2). Even the carnal Christians in Corinth are called saints (2 Cor. 1:1).
C. Christians are not saints because they are sinless, they are saints because they have a sinless Saviour and He has removed their sins from before God (Rev. 1:5, 6, 1 Pet. 2:9, 10).
D. The little word “all” is not used in the same way in the other writings of Paul. Refusing any division, he greeted them “all’, thought well of them “all”, prayed for them “all”, he exhorted them “all” the saints in the Philippian Church.
IV. Bishops and Deacons. Phil. 1:1
A. They were both the church’s overseers; the bishops, to oversee and inspect the lives and manners of persons; bishops are also called pastors, or elders.
B. The deacons oversee the necessities of persons, and to serve the church in taking care of the poor.
C. Pastor refers to church leader as the shepherd of the flock, speaking of his work of teaching and nurturing and protecting the assembly. Pastor in Greek means shepherd.
D. Elder refers to church leader’s maturity and responsibility and the fact that he is to be a role model to the church. In Titus 1:5, 7, the terms bishops and elders are used interchangeably. They lead by serving and by the strength of a Godly example.
V. Grace and Peace. Phil. 1:2
1. Grace – Paul used this word 116 times in his writings which express the unmerited favor of God towards all undeserving sinners, which means all Christian believers. It is the term he uses in Ephesians 2:8-9 to express that salvation is totally the work of God and comes not through any human effort (“not of works”). Grace was at the heart of Paul’s gospel. For Paul, the grace of God leads us to live a holy life, for it his God’s grace that teaches believers to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12). It was the grace of God that turned Paul—a legalist of his day—into a humble and faithful servant of Christ (1 Cor. 15:10).
2. Peace – The primary and basic idea of the biblical word “peace” (Hebrew, shalom; Greek, eirene) is completeness, soundness, wholeness. It is a favourite biblical greeting (Gen. 29:6; Luke 24:36), and is found at the beginning or end of the NT epistles except James and I John. Peace is a condition of freedom from strife whether internal or external. Security from outward enemies (Isa. 26:12), as well as calm of heart for those trusting God (Job 22:21; Isa. 26:3), is included.
3. Grace and peace were the most common salutation of Paul. To Paul, there is no peace in the heart; no calm in the storms of life until a person enters the grace of God by faith. You can only experience true peace when you receive Christ as your personal saviour. (Rom. 3:21-31). Grace and peace both come from God our father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Illustration: God’s Unmerited Favor
The Greek words for joy and grace are related; grace causes joy. In the Christian understanding, nothing brings joy like the good news of what God has done in Christ to bring us salvation. Salvation by grace is “through faith—and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—not of works…” (Eph. 2:8-9). God’s grace also brings about qualities of conduct in the believer (2 Cor. 9:8; 12:9; Eph. 4:7). The word grace came to be used as a kind of prayer (“grace to you” and “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ…be with you all”) in Christian greetings at the beginning and end of some of the New Testament letters (2 Cor. 1:2; 13:14).
Illustration: Quotes about Peace
Peace that Jesus gives is not the absence of trouble, but is rather the confidence that He is there with you always.
“Safety consists not in the absence of danger but in the presence of God.”
Illustration: True Peace
Two painters were asked to paint a picture illustrating peace. The first painted a beautiful evening scene in the foreground of which was a lake, its surface absolutely calm and unruffled. Trees surrounded it, meadows stretched away to the distant cattle gently browsing; a little cottage, the setting sun—all spoke of perfect rest. The second painter drew a wild, stormy scene. Heavy black clouds hung overhead; in the center of the picture an immense waterfall poured forth huge volumes of water covered with foam. One could almost hear its unceasing roar, yet perhaps the first thing to strike the eye was a small bird, perched in a cleft of a huge rock, absolutely sheltered from all danger, pouring forth its sweet notes of joy. It is the second painter who could describe the peace that passeth all understanding which is the Lord Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God in the heart of the redeemed. One can only have peace with himself if he has peace with God.
Just like our letters today, the Epistles of Paul starts by greetings or salutations. What is important here is that we in the eyes of the Lord, within the church, we are all servants no matter how “high” or “low” our position is. I’ve seen Christians when given a chance to stand in the pulpit and serve become so arrogant and so proud. This is contrary to what God wants. As servants we should show humility, just like our Lord Jesus Christ who is meek and lowly in heart.