Lesson 1

Paul's Letter to the Philippians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ;

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: 1:2 Grace to you, and peace from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1:3 I thank my God whenever I remember you, 1:4 always in every request of mine on behalf of you all making my requests with joy, 1:5 for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now; 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

 Today's Lesson 

The letters of Paul begin in a similar way. Paul adopted the standard letter form of his day. The Letter to the Philippians follows this form completely. He begins this letter by stating first who sent it and to whom it was sent. It is from Paul and Timothy to the saints in Christ who are at Philippi. Though Timothy receives equal billing with Paul in the introduction, there can be little doubt that the primary force behind this letter was Paul. Timothy most likely wrote the letter while Paul dictated. By this point in Paul's career, he was the unique apostle to the Gentiles. His incarceration had only served to legitimize his importance to the early church.


Paul writes to the saints at Philippi. In the early church, all those who had accepted Christ were saints. Saints were those people who had been set apart to the service of God. Specifically he writes to the saints who are "in Christ Jesus" and who live in Philippi. For Paul, all saints are "in Christ." To be in Christ is to be a saint and to be set apart to God.


Paul prays that grace and peace would come to them from God and from Jesus. Jesus is "the Lord" who offers grace and peace to His people along with God the Father. In the offer of grace and peace many people see the combination of the Greek offering of grace and the Jewish blessing of peace. The grace and peace that will come to these saints will come "from" God and from Christ. Grace and peace will not be something that we find as if by accident. It is a gift that is given to us because of our position in Christ.


Paul writes that he always thanks God when he remembers them. He thanks God because they have been with him from the very beginning in his quest to further the gospel. The Philippians had supported Paul on several other occasions, helping him to concentrate on the preaching of the gospel. When Paul did not receive this support he had to spend precious time in earning a living himself. Paul was a tentmaker by profession and was not averse to earning a living for himself and his companions while on the road. But, every hour spent making tents was another hour that he could have spent preaching. So the assistance of the Philippians was welcome and was put to good use.


Paul tells them that he is confident of this, that "he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." We must always remember that it is God who is at work in us. It is not for us to reform ourselves and make ourselves into better people. We are God's work. It is up to God to do with us as He wishes. And God has promised to complete the work He began. What God has begun God will finish. We can have confidence in this because it is not something that depends on us but it depends completely on God.


Do you have confidence that God is changing you and completing his good work in you? Do you see every day in your life as a step towards God's perfection?


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