(Revised from previous publication; a fresh look)
& Phil. 1:1-2
First, about Philippians …
Philippi was one of the principle cities of Macedonia; historically famous as documented in Greek and Roman history. It was the location of a Roman military colony, set for the defense of Roman interests. Founded by Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, it was located in the province of Macedonia, along the northern coast of the Aegean Sea.
The Acts background can be read from Acts chapter 16. That evangelistic effort resulted in the beginning of the local church there. Lydia, from Thyatira, was baptized “and her household.”
As Paul and Silas continued the work in Philippi, they came into confrontation with an alleged “fortune telling” person (a woman possessed with an evil spirit, being used by men for their profit).
When Paul expelled the evil spirit from her, “her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone,” so “they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.”
False accusations were made. Paul and Silas were put in jail.
In that unlikely location for a singing, Paul and Silas were heard singing praise to God. There was an earthquake; the prison opened up, and the jailer started to kill himself.
Paul shouted to the man, “do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Paul preached the gospel to this man, “and immediately he and all his family were baptized.”
Released from prison, Paul and Silas visited Lydia, before their departure.
Sometime later, Paul was inspired by the Spirit to write to these Christians in Philippi. The letter began with these words.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – Phil. 1:1,2
To be a “servant of Christ Jesus”
obviously means placing your life under the authority of Jesus Christ, therefore all you think, say, do and every action is submissive to Him who died for us.
Likewise, being a servant of Christ Jesus includes responding to the needs of saints, and in this case, that included providing teaching with encouragement. Paul was with Timothy and their interest in the church at Philippi begins with their wish or greeting of GRACE (generosity) and PEACE (harmony) from God.
The members of this church were all saints (set apart for God when they obeyed the gospel of Christ).
Qualified male saints became overseers and deacons. This was not involuntary service, but God’s use of good men who were anxious to do all they could to further the Lord’s work in that place.
Spiritually, these Christians were located in Jesus Christ. Physically, they were located in Philippi.
Are you a servant of Christ Jesus? The question isn’t – were you baptized. The question is about your present life. Are you living under the authority of Jesus Christ, abiding in the doctrine of Christ (2 Jno. 9) and serving others as Christ has served you?
-Warren E. Berkley