Bible Topics
in the Christian Library

Philippians 1:3-11

John L. Kachelman, Jr.


I. As Paul begins the epistle to the Philippians he immediately emphasized the theme of joy.

1. In these opening verses Paul shows his readers what things can help one increase joy in daily living for Christ.

2. All of these points are simple, and, when mentioned, are readily recognized.

3. In our last lesson we observed three of these points: We can increase joy by --

a. Constant and specific prayers for others (3-4).

b. Fond remembrances and positive memories (3, 7, 8).

c. Steadfast confidence in God's Will (6).

4. As we continue this lesson we will note two more points which increases joy in our lives.

II. These lessons are needed.

1. Far too many fail to enjoy the Christian life because they have never practiced the joy found in Philippians.

2. As a consequence we see services rendered with a grudging spirit and from compulsion; we observe bickering, jealousy, and never observe a demonstration of love among believers.

3. Should we be able to understand and experience the joy of Philippians, just imagine the transformation which could take place!

III. Consider two more points which show us how we can increase our joy in the Christian life.


I. By developing and understanding what true fellowship is (v. 5, 7).

A. What is "fellowship"?

1. Basically the word means "joint participants," "having in common." Such indicates that those in fellowship with one another are sharing a unique relationship, they are separated unto themselves and dependent upon another.

2. True fellowship is more than a meal shared together, or having one's name "on the roll," or being present at services. Many assemble together and yet are miles away from one another in fellowship.

3. Fellowship exists when two agree on a point and cooperate in work.

4. God designed fellowship in His church to be the haven of solace for Christians who are in the world but not of the world!

5. Paul possessed joy because he shared in the love and partnership of the Philippian brethren -- even though miles apart their fellowship was intense!

6. In a study of Paul's fellowship with the Philippians one observes the activity which was present. To be in fellowship with another means we are active with that one!

a. He had experienced the hospitality of Lydia and the Jailer (Ac 16:15, 33, 34).

b. He had received gifts at Thessalonica from them (Philip 4:16) and also at Corinth (2 Co 11:9).

c. He enjoyed periods of worship, study, and had experienced tragedy and suffering with them as well (Ac 16:13, 19, 32-33).

7. The action which is demanded by fellowship is seen in John 1:7--"if we walk ..." then we have fellowship and cleansing.

8. It is certainly clear that one may profess to have ties of fellowship but unless such is actively engaged in a joint participation and mutual edification fellowship does not exist!

B. Briefly consider the DUTY of fellowship.

1. This is not an option but is an opportunity and an obligation.

2. One's joy in fellowship comes with the identification with God (Ro 8:14, 16, 17).

3. Fellowship is possible only when love is present and is demonstrated (1 Sa 18:1; Col 2:2).

4. We are in a position which eliminates isolation and demands cooperation! (1 Cor 12:20-21, 26-27).

C. Note some common dangers to fellowship in the church.

1. PRIDE -- Whenever a need arises we try to bear it alone. We think it is a sign of great weakness if we let others know we are having a problem. Because we allow pride to hinder us, we lose God's comfort, God's joy, God's strength, and our brethren's encouragement.

2. ARROGANCE -- Some have an exalted concept of self and this causes them to see no need to "reach down" to help another (Philip 2:3). "Many people prefer the place of honor rather than the place of humility; the throne, not the towel" (Taylor).

3. CRITICISM -- Paul suffered biting, unjust, and cutting criticism -- yet he rejoiced! He refused to allow them to disrupt his joy. We need to work hard so that we can see virtues rather than vices, and give encouragement rather than expose faults!

4. CLOSED COMMUNICATION -- Euodia and Syntyche (4:2) failed to behave properly. Almost any personality flare-up has at its root the problem of communication. He who refuses to talk to another will live in anger and self-pity, robbing himself of joy and happiness!

5. May we be careful that our fellowship is not destroyed by any of these areas!

II. By becoming mature in our daily living (v. 9-10).

A. This verse shows the need for all to advance in Christian maturity. The one who remains immature in all of his life loses the greatest joy possible.

1. Those who are immature will allow their feelings to get hurt easily, will become easily discouraged, and will never become active in fellowship opportunities.

2. But the mature are able to forebear and forgive. They readily respond to the weak and are willing in the opportunities of service.

3. A casual glance at any congregation will reveal that our observations are correct.

4. Paul now tells us how we can develop this maturity.

B. Note the ground upon which maturity grows -- LOVE (9a).

1. The greatness of this love is seen in two phrases:

a. "I have you in my heart" (v. 7).

b. "I long after you" (v. 8).

2. V. 9 -- "abound" -- literally to "pour-over." Paul states that our love should be so great that it runs over, ample enough to take care of anything which occurs.

3. "When the love of God really fills the heart, the accent of the voice, the movements of the body, the look on the face, the demeanor, everything is affected" (Meyer).

4. Love, then, is the key characteristic of maturity (1 Co 12:31; 13:3,13).John Fawcett was invited to accept a famous preaching position in London to succeed the renowned Dr. John Gill in 1772. He preached his farewell sermon in his country church in Yorkshire. When the wagons were loaded with furniture and books, the brokenhearted church members gathered around the family as they prepared to leave. The preacher's wife, overcome with sadness, exclaimed, 'Oh, John! I just can't bear this! I can't go!' The minister found the moment too heartrending also and said, 'We will not go. The wagons will be unloaded, and everything put in its place again!' Out of that experience John Fawcett wrote an immortal hymn which expresses the essence of the Christian love:

"Blest be the tie that binds

Our hearts in Christian love;

The fellowship of kindred minds

Is like to that above."

C. Note what mature love leads Christians to do:

1. It causes them to discriminate (v. 10) -- "approve." As one becomes more mature he detects habits, practices, language, behavior which he once permitted -- but now he puts them aside as unfit, and follows the "excellent" and "approved" (Hb 5:14). Note: "without offense" -- Mature discernment causes us to avoid anything which makes another stumble or would be shameful if Christ should return while we are doing it.

2. It causes sincerity (v. 10) -- "it has often been pointed out that this word is derived from two Latin words, SIN (without) and CERE (wax). Italian marble vendors and certain merchants of porcelain fell into the habit of hiding flaws and blemishes with a certain kind of wax; but the more reputable dealers advertised their wares as SIN CERE (without wax); and from this derived the meaning of the English word "sincere." The true meaning for it is 'without deception' or 'without hypocrisy'" (Coffman, p. 265).

3. It causes fruitfulness (v. 11) -- activity alone is not enough. We should be active in things which bear much fruit for Christ (Jn 15:4-5). The Bible lists these fruits:

a. Gal 5:22-23 -- Christians should conduct themselves in such a way that God is glorified.

b. Ro 1:13 -- Winning souls to God.

c. Jas 3:18 -- Holiness.

d. Col 1:10 -- Any "good work".

e. Hb 13:15 -- Praise to God.

D. Note the connection of maturity with Christ (v. 11b).

1. "Without him, without the help He bestows, and out of Him, these fruits could never be borne in the life of a Christian" (Shepherd).

2. Unless one is in Christ he can never find the maturity which leads to joy.


I. We have noted five points which will increase our joy . . . 

1. Constant and specific prayers for others.

2. Fond remembrances and positive memories.

3. Steadfast confidence in God's Will.

4. True fellowship shared with like-believers.

5. Maturity in love.

II. Will you search your heart and life to see if you are using these five simple ways to increase joy in your life? May we all understand the great urgency of practicing these five points!

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

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