Bible Topics
in the Christian Library

Philippians 1:1-2

John L. Kachelman, Jr


I. Observations on the context.

1. Although the greeting was a common one, the Christian sees a much deeper meaning in these simple words.

2. The author is Paul and it is commonly understood that Timothy was serving as his secretary. He placed his name at the beginning of the epistle so that the readers could identify him without unrolling the entire scroll.

3. The beginning of the epistle sets the tone for the rest of the message.

4. "A month's time was required for the danger-filled 700 mile trip from Philippi to Rome, where Paul was in prison. Five or six months later Epaphroditus arrived back home. Excitement filled the air as every member of the church gathered to see their long-absent member and to hear about Paul. For twenty minutes the audience listened intently as every line of the apostle's scroll was read. It was a personal communication to them!" (Taylor).

5. Although penned centuries ago, these inspired words are just as needed in our day.

II. In this salutation we can discover some important factors which undergird the theme of this book.

1. As Paul begins he immediately links the key concepts of Christ, mind, and joy--Only by a deliberate choice is one placed in Christ where true joy is found!

2. In these two verses we can distinguish some basic factors which, when understood, will enable the Christian to grasp the reality of joy.


I. We note the LOCATION of joy--"in Christ".

A. This is a common phrase used by Paul over 120 times!

1. It is imperative that we understand the significance of this expression.

2. To Paul, being "in Christ" was a grand and glorious reality.

3. Note the wonderful blessings experienced by those who are "in Christ".

a. There is the access to all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3).

b. There is divine protection and providence (Rom. 8:38-39). We are in the world with its evil influences and temptations, yet we remain safe and secure!

c. There is no condemnation and total freedom (Romans 8:1-2; Eph. 1:7).

d. We are dead and our lives are hid with Christ (Col. 3:3).

B. The one who realizes the great blessings found by being "in Christ" will find immeasurable joy!

1. True joy is found by living "in Christ"! "Let Him be your atmosphere and environment, your protection from the assaults of evil from without, and the sweet fragrance which will exhale through the inner sanctuary of your nature, in speech and act" (Meyer).

2. Let the one who is outside of Christ recognize their great need! (Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 12:13). Determine that you will be immersed into Christ this very day!

II. We note the DEMONSTRATION of joy --"servants" and "saints".

A. In these two words we observe that joy is found by one's attitude (servant) and by one's actions (saints).

B. Brief consideration of these two points:

1. "SERVANTS"--Joy is closely connected to our attitude.

a. Literally "slave"--One who is under the control, command, and is subservient to the Master's purpose. This automatically eliminates a haughty and proud demeanor (Cf. Gal. 6:14).

b. This servitude is one of free surrender to one's master because of love (cf. Ex 21:5; II Cor. 5:14).

c. True happiness comes only as one freely realizes the meaning of being a "servant of Christ"!

d. Consider briefly three thoughts connected with this --

1) The servant gives up everything to the Master. "With complete surrender of everything to Him, all fears and anxieties will vanish . . . Let us give up our work, our thought, our plans, our selves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our ALL, right into God's hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about or to make trouble about" (Blair).

2) The servant gives loving and free service to the Master. "When Christ is the Master, the services, though there is no promise that it shall be easy at all times, is transfigured always into the perfect freedom of the loving and devoted heart" (Lipscomb).

3) The servant is humble (Mt. 23:12); obedient (Jn. 14:15); courageous (2 Ti 1:7).

2. "SAINT"-- From our attitude comes actions which visibly confirm our devotion to God and Jesus Christ.

a. The concept of just who a saint is has been grossly misunderstood by far too many today.

1) To modern man a saint is one so declared by the church or one who possesses superior virtues.

2) This concept has to do with our position, and our communion with God. Those who are in this position must live in daily life so as to merit the designation!

b. According to the Scriptures a saint is one who:

1) Has been called our of the world and set apart for the special service of God (I Cor. 1:2).

2) "Saints are those who are drawn from the clutches of Satan into the control of the Saviour" (Taylor).

3) Saints are people still struggling against sin's temptations.

a) The Corinthians were called saints and yet there was a great problem there (I Cor. 1:1-2). 

b) The Philippians struggled with jealousy, hot tempers, and misunderstandings (cf. 4:2).

c) From the practical aspect a saint is one who:

1) Enjoys an exalted position (Rom. 8:17).

2) Employs an ethical practice (Col. 3:1-3). We should endeavor to practice what we profess! A Texas minister had a son who worked as the personnel manager for a large corporation. He had employed over 1,000 men. One day the corporation manager told him that the company was going to have a big party, a "blast". The son was told that his responsibility would be to secure whiskey and wine for the occasion and that he should bring at least 100 girls to liven up the party. His answer was that his time and talents belonged to the company, but that he would have to refuse that assignment. His boss said, "Say, maybe you had better look for a new job. I can't have a personnel manager who refuses to carry our orders. Why don't you take a three-month bonus check and resign from this corporation?"

The young man went to see his father that night and said, "Dad, I don't have a job now, and don't know when I will get another one, but my soul is not for sale."

This is Christian ethics, not situation ethics! It is a life which the saint of God should live 365 days a year.

C. Whenever we possess the attitude and actions of the saint and servant we will possess true joy!

III. We note the BASIS of joy --"grace" and "peace".

A. Although these two words were used in a common greeting, to the Christian they hold a much deeper significance.

1. Joy is impossible without these two facts.

2. The proper understanding of these two things will reveal that they are indeed the very basis of true joy!

B. Briefly consider each one--

1. "Grace"--refers to God's favor which is undeserved and unsolicited. Paul prays that his readers may comprehend the greatness of God's grace and its blessings (Ephesians 3:19,20).

2. "Peace"--that tranquility of mind that keeps all confident even in the midst of turmoil (4:7).

a. Note that peace comes only after God's grace! Could it be possible that many today fail to have peace because they fail to fully know God's marvelous grace?

b. If we are confident in God's grace and in His peace, why do we allow ourselves to be overcome by the cares of this life? (Luke 21:34).

c. Instead of anticipating how God's grace can help us to overcome problems, we anticipate how problems will overcome us! "Frequently we encourage our fears by looking for trouble, rather than trusting God for grace and peace" (Blair).

d. Determine today that you will set your mind to find the peace of heart, conscience, mind, and action!

IV. We note the SOURCE of joy--"from God and Christ."

A. True joy comes only from above.

1. The Father is the Source and the Saviour is the Medium.

2. "Not from the world arise such blessings, nor from our own circumstances, however affluent and pleasant, nor from our own inner being, however much we strive, but only from Him, through Him" (King).

3. The world, possessions, or friends cannot give joy no matter how much they try (cf. Jn. 14:27).

B. For one seeking joy he must go to God to receive it!

V. Some other factors of joy briefly noted.

A. We note the RECIPIENTS of joy--"saints, bishops, deacons." Joy is not restricted but is available to all seeking it!

B. We note the essentiality of FELLOWSHIP to joy --"with." "The word all, which occurs again and again (1:2, 7, 8, 25; 2:17; 4:21), springs from the deep affection of Paul for the Philippians, whose beautiful spirit of unity, promptness in obedience, and liberality made it possible to include all its members without exception in his greeting" (Lipscomb).


I. As Paul begins this grand epistle he sets forth some basic factors of joy.

1. Its location is "in Christ."

2. The recipients are those "whosoever will."

3. The demonstration is seen in our being "servants" and "saints."

4. The basis of joy is God's grace and peace.

5. The source of joy is God and Christ.

6. Fellowship is essential to joy.

II. We ask that you receive this lesson as eagerly as the church at Philippi did.

1. What hinders you from possessing joy in Christ?

2. Join in fellowship with us and find this wonderful joy!

Copyright 1998 by John L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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