Today, we would be starting a study on the book of Philippians, and our focus for today would be on Chapter 1.
The book of Philippians was written by Apostle Paul, and at that time, he was in a prison.
The purpose was basically to thank the Philippians for their love towards him while he was in prison and also to encourage them to stay in unity and humble service towards each other in Christ.
The book of Philippians was a written letter to the Church in Philippians. The church in Philippi was founded by Paul eleven years before this letter on his second missionary journey.
Since we all read the book of Philippians, can we share what we learnt?
Contribution: I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, Philippians 1:3-4 NKJV
Paul was always happy whenever he remembered them. So much that he would thank God for them and pray for them with joy.
Philippians chapter 1 points out the fact that Paul was a servant of God and he wanted to share the gospel. He also stated that he did not preach the gospel to make himself famous. This means that fame and glory were not important to Paul. What was important to him was bringing others to Christ!
Let me quickly give us a breakdown of Chapter 1;
This chapter started with a brief introduction (Phil 1:1-2) after which
First, Paul gives thanks and prayers on behalf of the Philippian Christians, He mentions his imprisonment and ministry (Phil 1:7). He also encourages them to grow in love for one another. He stressed the importance of Christian love in the life of a believer.
Second, he focused on the expansion of the gospel (Phil 1:2-18). He shares how his imprisonment was helping to spread the gospel.
Phil 1:13 tells us that all of the guards knew about Paul’s faith, so Paul was clearly willing to preach to his captors, and as a result, other believers grew in boldness to speak about Christ. (Phil 1:14).
Paul also notes that some of those who spoke about Jesus did so for false motives. Even with this, Paul was still thankful to see the gospel spreading.
Third, he emphasized the fact that for the believer to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil 1:19-30). Paul explains that how a Christian loves, is a reflection of what they set their mind on. ‘For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain’.
Suffering for Christ is a joy and it leads to glory for believers.
Going back to Phil 1:4, Paul says that every time he prays for the Philippians, he does so with joy, and he is joyful because they have shared in the gospel “from the first day until now” (Phil 1:4). The first day most likely refers to the earliest days of his mission in Philippi. The focus of Paul’s joy is that the Philippians have shared and are sharing in the gospel.
What does it mean to share in the gospel?
It means to embrace and live in the good news of the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
A brief summary of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus might be best encapsulated in the command to love God with all our hearts, mind, soul and strength and to love one’s neighbour as oneself.
‘To live in Christ’
The concept of being in Christ was vital to Paul’s understanding of what it means to be a Christian. The moment a person truly believes in Jesus Christ as his Saviour, he is joined in Union with Christ.
To be in Christ means that all that is true in Christ is true of the believer.
To be ‘in Christ’ means knowing our true standing before God so that in our daily lives we live in fellowship with Christ, communing with Him and depending on Him for Everything.
It means growing to know Christ intimately.
It means growing to know Christ with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength.
It means submitting all my thoughts, emotions, words and deeds to the lordship of Christ so that I seek to please Him In all aspects.
In view of Paul’s circumstances, his main focus was not getting released from prison, but rather on exalting Christ. Whether he lived or died wasn’t the issue, all that mattered was that Christ is exalted.
Verse 20 notes that the way we exalt Christ is through our bodies. This means that we can either exalt Christ or bring shame to His name by our attitudes, our words and our behaviour.
‘To live is Christ’ means to exalt him through everything we do. Joy in the Christian Life isn’t based on circumstances.
So in conclusion, we need to be honest in examining our lives before the Lord. Where do you want to get to?
If you want to get to Heaven, then you need to consider these questions;
What am I living for?
For me to live is what?
Is it money, success, happiness, pleasure, fun, good times, family, self?
If your answer is any of the above, then to die will be a terrible loss, not a gain.
But if like Paul, you can honestly say ‘for me, to live is Christ’, then you can also say with confidence ‘to die is gain’.
Please share what you learned in the comment box.
Teacher: Abimbola Akintan