Philippians | Day One
By: Taylor Flatt
Welcome to our study of Philippians! Over the next two weeks, we are going to study one of the most well-known and well-loved books of the Bible. It’s an encouraging book full of verses we love to quote and use for Instagram captions. And while it’s best known for its theme of rejoicing, Philippians is so much more than a pep talk on joy.
The point of Philippians isn’t just to have joy, the point of Philippians is to have a purpose that brings joy —Jesus.
As you read through this book, you’ll begin to see it — you’ll see true life. That’s what the book of Philippians is. It’s a call to experience a real kind of living, the kind of living that is living with a singular purpose, Jesus. Ultimately, Philippians reads like a guide to authentic Christian living. The book of Philippians is telling us that this way of living, is really living.
However, the book of Philippians isn’t actually a book, it’s a letter, which means that we need some context. So before we start from the beginning, let’s cover some basics.
Who wrote Philippians?
Paul. His conversion story can be found in Acts 9. After Paul became a Christian, he went on to plant many churches and author 28% of the New Testament. Philippians is one of the warmest and encouraging letters that Paul penned.
Who was it written to?
The church of Philippi. The founding of this particular church is described in Acts 16 during Paul’s first visit to Philippi. The stories of these initial church members in Philippi make the Philippians very dear to Paul’s heart and allow this to be one of his most personal letters.
When was it written?
AD 60-62, during Paul’s Roman imprisonment. Paul acknowledges in the letter that he is writing to them from prison. The fact that this letter was written from prison is incredibly surprising because it is so well known for its theme of rejoicing.
So in order to get some crucial context here, we are going to start with a story in Acts. It’s the story of how Paul met the friends he’s writing to in his letter.
So here’s the story... Paul and his friend, Silas, went to the city of Philippi to tell the Philippian people about Jesus. In the name of Jesus they performed an incredible miracle but unfortunately, it made some people mad. Paul and Silas were then thrown into prison. Pick up the story for yourself...
Read Acts 16:25-34.
Pretty crazy right? So Paul and Silas wind up in prison, a less than ideal situation, but God uses it in an incredible way. The jailer and his entire family come to know Christ through Paul’s imprisonment and ultimately this is how the church at Philippi begins. Knowing this, it makes sense that as Paul sits in another prison cell, in another city, he would think back to his friends in Philippi and to his friend, the jailer. Paul knew that God could— and would — use his imprisonment for good because he had watched Him do it in Philippi.
The book of Philippians is known for its theme of rejoicing and so often I have wondered how Paul could write a book about rejoicing from within a prison cell. Honestly, it’s always seemed a little unbelievable to me. But now, knowing the story of the Philippian jailer and his family, it starts to make more sense. Paul had one mission in life - to see others come to know Christ. Paul’s one purpose was to advance the gospel (the good news) of Jesus. And it was in the fulfillment of his purpose that Paul found joy. So in a prison cell in Philippi, Paul learned that God could use his imprisonment to bring others to salvation, to fulfill his purpose in life. To Paul, imprisonment was a reason to rejoice and his friends in Philippi were a reminder of God’s faithfulness. He even starts his letter to them, “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you” (Phil 1:3).
Read Philippians 1:1-8.
So here’s why all of that matters. Paul could rejoice in prison because he lived with one purpose, to see others come to know Christ. Paul knew that truly living meant living with a purpose. When you have a purpose in life, your joy isn’t found in your circumstances but it’s found in your purpose. As believers, we are called to live with one purpose — Jesus Christ. In Him we have a purpose, we have joy, and we have true life. To live with Christ is to truly live and to live with Christ is to live with purpose.
Think about these questions and spend some time praying. Be honest with God and ask Him to speak to you today.
What is your purpose?
Are you living each day with your purpose in mind or are you just getting through the day?
How can you begin to truly live in light of your purpose?