06/10/2018 = Philippians 1:1-2, 4:21-23 = “Servants, Saints, Overseers, Siblings”

(Clicking HERE will bring you an audio file of this message.)

Mark Wheeler

Philippians 1:1-2; 4:21-23

“Servants, Saints, Overseers, Siblings”

06/10/2018

Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church

 

Through the Written Word,

          And the spoken word,

          May we know Your Living Word,

          Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

I am going to start this sermon a little differently than I normally do – no personal story, no joke, no anecdote. Today I feel  led to start with us just being honest with each other about our struggles. Some weeks in ministry are fun and easy,  nothing but victories and laughter … and then other weeks are like this past week – there were no tragic accidents, no ER visits, no arrests or anything like that; but the number of people who called or stopped in or who just happened to be in the same room as me who had heart aches and trials and unforeseeable difficulties was astounding.

Honestly, just raise your hand if this past week contained at least one event you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. [Auto accidentcar died while out of town – pet died – really illhousehold utilities break down – unexpected bills with no money – and if it wasn’t us it was a loved one…]  (Yeah, see that? And maybe that’s no different from any other week, but this week I was privileged to hear about several of these – and some of them were my own!)

Thank you. I wanted to start there for two reasons1) so we could each see the fellowship we are in; no one is immune to difficult moments; but no one is required to go through it alone. 2) because this is exactly the way of life for the people in Philippi some 2,000 years ago when the Apostle Paul wrote this letter to them – that means it is also for usGod has preserved this Word in His Holy Word for you and me to find His Gospel blessing.

 

Well, today we’re at the very end of our sermon series in the New Testament book of Philippians. These two months have renewed my love for this little book as I came to realize what it says, and how important it is. I hope this has been even half as true for you as it has been for me.

 

Before we read today’s short passage, we get a pop quiz. Are you ready?

  • 10 years earlier, did Paul and Silas go to Philippi because this is where they always wanted to go? [NO! this was against their own plans, but it is where God directed them]
  • Name one “bad thing” that happened to Paul and Silas while in Philippi:[They are arrested and imprisoned for their Christian faith]
  • From what you have heard these past two months, was Philippi a fun place for Paul to have visited? [No – I Thessalonians 2 tells us how un-fun Philippi was!]
  • OK – anything else you learned about Philippi?
    • First and second recorded European baptisms (Lydia and the jailor)
    • While in prison, they pray and sing, and God opens the doors and loosens the shackles

 

OK, one last question: Over the last 7 or 8 weeks, who has a favorite verse from Philippians, or a favorite lesson, or a favorite sermon point or illustration you can share with us? [Put others before you in line – find a way to “agree in the Lord” – we can live through all things, with everything and with nothing, in Christ who strengthens me.]

 

And now, listen again to the opening words of this letter, and to the final closing words, and we’ll try to catch some of the blessing that’s there for us: Philippians 1:1-2, 4:21-23 (pages 831-2 in the pew Bibles), listen to the Word of God …. —-

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ….

 

OK, so some quick observations:

Who wrote this letter? [Paul and Timothy – SERVANTS of Christ Jesus.]

 

To whom was this letter written? [To ALL “God’s holy people” in Christ Jesus – the Greek is “pantoi hagioi” which literally means to ALL the SAINTS – that’s everyone who believes in Jesus (specifically every one in Philippi who believes in Jesus – but these SERVANTS {is there a “greater saint” in the New Testament than St. Paul? He calls himself a SERVANT} writes to ALL the SAINTS!)]

 

But wait, there’s more! To whom else was this addressed? [the OVERSEERS and deacons – the SERVANTS who started this church, the Apostle Paul and Timothy, refer to their spiritual children as OVERSEERSbishops and elders and deacons!]

 

And the opening words of greeting include Paul’s typical blessing of Grace and peace from God OUR Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! I want to emphasize the “OUR” in that blessing – God OUR Father. Paul does not emphasize it, but I want to because it connects directly to the closing words in this letter! Let’s go there now.

 

4 21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

 

OK, some more quick observations:

Paul writes this letter to ALL the SAINTS in Philippi, and he gives them a directive in his closing salutation: “Greet ALL God’s people in Christ Jesus.” That’s what the NIV says. A slightly better translation would say, “Greet EVERY SAINT (panta hagion) in Christ Jesus)”. The reason I think that’s an important distinction is that Paul is singling out each and every believer, making sure not a single believer is missed; and the word SAINT is used, not just “God’s people” but EVERY SAINT – from the greatest in the church to the least, from the oldest to the youngest, from the OVERSEERS on the Church Council to the babies in the nursery!

If this is an instruction to the Philippian Christians, maybe it’s also meant as command to 21st Century Christians in Lidgerwood Presbyterian Church, as well.

 

Who else does he say sends their greetings? [“The brothers and sisters who are with” him. Some Bible translations just says “brothers”, or “brethren”, but the word adelphoi is not gender specific – it means brothers and sisters, SIBLINGS in Christ. Remember up in  the opening blessing Paul brings Grace and peace of God OUR Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? This is where he very subtly brings that to a conclusionGod is OUR Father because in Christ Jesus we are all SIBLINGS in the Lord! Treat each other as such!

 

All the SAINTS here send their greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.” This is a brief identifier of where Paul writes this letter from – he was held prisoner, according the book of Acts, in a cell probably located in a place where the Emperor himself, Caesar Nero, could keep his eye on him. “Those who belong to Caesar’s household” are probably the guards and servants under Caesar, some of whom had become Christians because of Paul’s influence in their lives!

 

And one more blessing benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” Amen.

 

Treat each other as if you were a SERVANT!

Love each other because the other is a SAINT!

Be OVERSEERS and deacons in each other’s lives, help each other grow in Christ Jesus!

Because we are SIBLINGS in Christ Jesus, seek to be God’s people together!

 

Thank You, dear Lord, for the gift of experiencing Your love, which sets us free to love others. Thank You for Your Son who came to SERVE, not be served. You call us SAINTS, not because we are so perfectly good or “holy”, but because You have called us as Your children and You are God OUR Father. And thank You for the SERVANT-SAINT responsibility of OVERSEEing each other’s Christ-centered spiritual growth, as SIBLINGS in Your household! Today we receive Your perfect grace, and choose to grow together in Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Resources:

Hawthorne, Gerald F.; Word Biblical Commentary: Philippians; Word Books; Waco, TX; 1983; Pp. 212-216.

 

Martin, Ralph P.; Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Philippians; Wm. P. Eerdman’s Pub. Co.; Grand Rapids, MI; 1983; Pp. 184-186.

 

Palmer, Earl; Building a Robust Faith: A Study in Philippians, Sessions 1 & 6; Essential Media Services; 1995.

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