Lesson 19

Paul's Letter to the Philippians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

4:15 You yourselves also know, you Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no assembly had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you only. 4:16 For even in Thessalonica you sent once and again to my need. 4:17 Not that I seek for the gift, but I seek for the fruit that increases to your account. 4:18 But I have all things, and abound. I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things that came from you, a sweet-smelling fragrance, an acceptable and well-pleasing sacrifice to God. 4:19 My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 4:20 Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever! Amen.

4:21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 4:22 All the saints greet you, especially those who are of Caesar's household. 4:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Today's Lesson  

Today's passage concludes the Letter of Paul to the Philippians. Paul ends with praise for the Philippians because of their generosity. This was, after all, Paul's primary reason for writing this letter. While Paul was in prison, the Philippians had sent Epaphroditus with a gift to provide for Paul while he was under house arrest. It was not the first time the Philippians had done so. It would probably not be the last time. But on this occasion, the Spirit of God inspired Paul to write this letter of thanks back to them.


Because of this inspiration, we have some of the most memorable passages of New Testament scripture. We have the song to Christ that tells how Jesus emptied Himself and became as a servant, becoming obedient even unto death on the cross. We have a passage that tells how Paul counted everything that he had inherited and achieved as rubbish compared to knowing Christ. And just yesterday, we studied why Paul wrote that he could do all things when Christ was strengthening him.


All of these wonderful passages exist because of what amounts to a thank you letter. For almost 2000 years Christians throughout the ages have learned and been inspired because of the gift of the early Christians of Philippi. If they had not been generous, we would not have this letter.


It should be noted that the Philippians were not wealthy people. Concerning them, Paul wrote in II Corinthians 8:2, "Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity." Real generosity knows no economic station. Often, the most generous people are those that have very little. It seems to be easier to give something away when we never have a real opportunity to become attached to it in the first place. For those who experience real need on a frequent basis, helping someone else in real need may come a little quicker.


I generally write these lessons with the idea in the back of my mind that they will be posted on the Internet for a very long time. But, as I write this lesson, it is Christmas Eve. Perhaps that has turned my thoughts toward a reflection of giving and what it means to us. It is the time of year when many people give gifts to each other and express their love in sharing.


As we give our gifts this year, let's remember all that God has accomplished from this gift of the Philippians. Not only did they provide for Paul's needs for a short time, but also they inspired a letter that has helped countless people over centuries. Do you see what God can do through your generosity? Be generous with those that you meet. Give of yourself to those that you love. Have faith and watch miracles happen.


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