Servants And Saints: Philippians #2
The Apostle Paul is writing a letter to the members of the church in the city of Philippi. We found in Acts 16 how this church came into existence, and we saw that there was a nucleus of people he had won to Christ who formed that church. Now, it’s about 10 years after Paul founded the church, and he is writing a letter back to those believers.
Paul is using the form of letter writing which was current in those days. We don’t write letters in this form today. When we write a letter, we first of all address it “Dear,” to whom we are writing. Then, we give the body of the letter, and at the conclusion we say who the letter is from, “Yours truly.”
In the New Testament timeframe, they used a little different form. They started off by telling you who was writing the letter. Secondly, they would tell you who they were writing the letter to, and give you the body of the letter. That’s the way Paul is writing this letter. He is using the common form of his day.
We also have to keep in mind that he is writing this letter from prison. In 1:13, he says, “So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace.”
Some of the great books of literature have been written from prison cells, “Marco Polo’s Travels,” for instance. John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” was written from a jail cell. Our book of Revelation was written from the Island of Patmos where John, the apostle, was in prison. Philippians is known as a prison letter. He is saying, “I am in bonds.” You can bind the man of God, but you can’t bind the Word of God.
We also need to remember that this letter is a love letter. Paul is writing a love letter. It is a pastor’s love letter to his favorite church. Have you ever written a love letter? Have you ever received a love letter? If you have received one, you will no doubt treasure it! Here is a love letter by a pastor. Paul is writing to a group of people that he really loves.
I. We Need To Lead As Servants
Paul writes with, “Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ.” Paul is the one, who wrote about half of the books of the New Testament. We know Timothy was the young man he led to the Lord on his second missionary journey in Acts 16. We know that they were traveling companions.
They are different in age. Paul is the older man. Timothy is the younger man. They are different in experience. It’s obvious that they are very different in their personalities. Yet, they have now become one as servants of the Lord, fellow believers in the Lord. It is a beautiful combination here. There are no generation gaps in the Christian faith. All of God’s people are important and of value in the work of the Lord.
Paul was the mentor and Timothy was the young convert. Every Paul needs a Timothy. What I mean by that is every believer needs to find somebody you can win to the Lord and then mentor them and help them grow and mature in the Lord. Paul trained Timothy and developed him.
Also, every Timothy needs a Paul. If you are a young convert, you need some older, more mature Christian to take an interest in you. Every young convert needs a Paul. The who of the letter are Paul and Timothy.
Next, we learn what they are. Paul says, “The servants of Jesus Christ.” This statement does not really hit us with the impact that it would have hit the original readers. Here are the people in Philippi. They have gathered for church. Paul has sent this love letter to them and it’s being read to them. They heard, “Paul and Timothy,” and then they heard, “The bond slaves of Jesus Christ.”
This statement would have immediately connected with the people there because a lot of those young Christians in Philippi were slaves. A big percentage of the population of the Roman world was made up of slaves. What I mean by that is that some human being actually owned them. He is saying to them, “Paul and Timothy, the slaves of Jesus Christ.” The word means to bind together with someone else. This is a picture that is drawn out of the Roman world that is used now to teach a spiritual truth.
There are two kinds of slaves in the world. There are slaves to sin and there are slaves to Jesus Christ. That’s what the Bible teaches.
In Romans 6:16, we read, “Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey?” You are a slave to whatever you obey. In John 8: 34, Jesus said, “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” Sin puts you in bondage. Sin makes a slave out of you.
There are people today who are slaves to drugs, to alcohol, to their desires and to their jobs. All sins are addictive. You can’t just take and leave sin. Sin gets its clutches on you. Jesus said, “Whosoever commits sin is the slave of sin.”
It is a terrible bondage to be a slave of sin. It doesn’t start off that way. A guy just takes a little social drink. Before long after he’s taken the drink, the drink takes him and he becomes a slave to his sin. It is a terrible bondage.
In I Corinthians 6:19, we read, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” That means that if you have received the Lord Jesus as your Savior, you are now a bond slave of Jesus.
There are two pictures to illustrate, “Being a bond slave of Jesus.” Slavery in the New Testament meant ownership. Someone actually owned another human being. Isn’t slavery a terrible thing, to think that one human being would actually own another human being? It meant that you belonged to someone else.
When you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, you are no longer your own. You belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is your master. Every day of your life you should wake up and say, “Good morning, Lord. I’m reporting for duty.”
In addition to ownership, it meant obedience. A slave didn’t plan his own day. Whatever the master said, that is exactly what he was supposed to do. When we come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, we learn that He has plan for you. He has a purpose for your life. The greatest joy you will ever experience in your life is to follow the game plan of Jesus Christ and be obedient to the Lord.
In the Old Testament we learn in regard to slavery that an owner could keep a slave for six years, but on the seventh year, the slave would be set free. However, Exodus 21, we learn of a a situation where a man who was a slave, but was owned by a master who was a very kind, generous, benevolent. This slave was well cared for. He was fed well. He was clothed well. His accommodations were good.
Thus, this slave would come and would say, “I love my master. I don’t want to be set free.” Afterwards, they would take that slave and they would bore a hole in his ear. The hole in the ear was a sign and a symbol that he had sold himself out for life to his master.
Praise God, I haven’t got a hole in my ear, but I’ve got Jesus in my heart and I’m His slave forever. Isn’t it wonderful to be a slave for the Lord Jesus Christ? Paul and Timothy are bond slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ.
II. We Need To Live As Saints
In Philippians 1:1 we read, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus.” He’s writing it to all the saints. He’s not talking about some people who have lived especially holy lives. I want you to look at what he says very carefully here. He says, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus.” He is not writing to the Philippi morgue. He is not writing to the Philippi graveyard.
He is writing to the members of the church in Philippi. He is writing to Saint Lydia. Do you remember her? She was the business lady who got saved. He is writing to Saint Slave Girl. Do you remember her? It was a slave girl that got saved. He’s writing to the Saint Jailer who got saved.
“To all the saints.” He is not writing to dead people. He is not writing to people who have lived a holier life than anybody else and they have been elevated. He is writing to all believers, all saved people, in the church of Philippi.
Do you know what a saint is? A saint is a saved sinner. There are only two kinds of people in the world, the saints and the ain’ts. You are either a saint or you are an ain’t.
The word, “saint,” really means that you have been set apart unto Jesus. This is what you call one of those positional truths. There are some truths in the Bible that have to do with your position. If you are saved he’s talking about your position. You are a saint. I’m Saint James.
For instance, If you were to talk to a high school student and asked, “What grade are you in school?” He or she might say, “I’m a senior.” That answer is just a statement of their position in school. It doesn’t mean that he or she is an all “A” student. It doesn’t mean anything except that they are a senior in high school.
I could talk to a college guy and ask, “Are you on the football team?” He could say, “Yes.” I could ask, “What’s your position?” “I’m the quarterback.” All that says is just what their position is. It doesn’t say whether they are third string or first string. It doesn’t say whether they are an All-American and going to be picked number 1 in the draft. It just simply has to do with their position.
“To all the saints.” It’s about position, not practice. I encourage you to ponder this truth. You are saint, once you have come to know Christ. You are a saint not because of what you do but because of what Jesus did for you on the cross of Calvary. Somebody may ask, “James, are you saying that it doesn’t matter how we live?” No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m not saying that just because it has nothing to do with your practice that your practice is not important. In Ephesians 5:3, we read, “But fornication or all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.” It’s saying to let your behavior be consistent with your position in the Lord.
One of the real problems we are dealing with in the church of the twenty-first century is that we have a lot of the saints of the Lord who somehow don’t understand that because they are saved and belong to the Lord Jesus and have been set apart for the Lord Jesus Christ, they are now to live a different kind of life. If God’s people would begin to live up to the level of their sainthood, they would have more impact on a lost and dying world that needs Jesus as their Savior.
He says, “To the saints.” That’s who they are. But he also tells us where they are. Paul says, “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi.” What a strategic city was Philippi. Philippi was their physical address. But then he said, “To the saints at Philippi, in Christ Jesus.” That’s your spiritual address. You are in Christ Jesus. The phrase “in Christ,” is the most favorite phrase of Paul.
You are either in one of two locations. You are either in sin or you are in Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:22 we read, “You are either in Adam or you are in Christ. By virtue of your physical birth, you are in the human family. That’s the Adam family. By virtue of a spiritual birth, you can become a part of the Jesus family.”
It is not as important where you are, as it is who you are in. Are you in Christ? Do you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ? It means the sphere of your existence. To be in Christ means to be like a fish in water. To be in Christ means to be like a bird in the air, or like a tree in the soil. It describes your spiritual atmosphere, your spiritual address. You and I have a new address in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in Christ Jesus. We are in the heavenlies with Him.
The salutation is in verse two. He says, “Grace be unto you, and peace.” Paul had a way, and the Holy Spirit through Paul had a way, of taking words and exalting and elevating them and filling them with new meaning. It’s kind of the way the Lord does with us and our life. The Lord has a way of taking and elevating us and filling our life with new meaning.
The Greek word grace is the word charis. If you were walking on the streets of Athens and you saw a friend of yours, you might throw up your hand and say to them, “Charis.” If you were in Jerusalem, the word of greeting would be the word peace. It is the word eirene. In the Hebrew it is shalom. If you were walking on the streets of Jerusalem and you saw a friend you might throw up your hands and say, “Shalom, Eirene, Peace.”
Paul takes those two words and fills them with Christian meaning. Those two words explain what the Christian life is all about.
Did you know that those two words are words for commonly used names for girls? Charis is the name Karen. If your name is Karen, then that means your name is Grace. Eirene is the name Irene. If your name is Irene, then that’s the name for peace. Here you’ve got Karen and Irene? I call them the twin sisters of the Gospel.
Karen and Irene, Charis and Eirene, are the twin sisters of the gospel. You will find them altogether, wherever you go in the Bible. They describe how the Christian life begins, how the Christian life continues, and how the Christian life concludes. Grace and peace always go together.
The Christian life begins with grace. Do you know what grace means? Grace means God’s unmerited favor. Grace means that though you and I don’t deserve it, God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross to make possible for us to be forgiven of our sins and to receive eternal life.
In Ephesians 2:8 we read, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” We are saved by grace. I don’t deserve it. I can’t work for it. I don’t merit it. I don’t earn it. It is a free gift of God. When you are saved by grace, peace comes in.
A lot of people want peace. They don’t have any peace in their heart. They would like to have peace, but they never can find peace. I’ll tell you why. You will discover that the order is always the same in the Bible. It is always grace first and then peace. It is never peace then grace. Grace comes walking in the door first every time. But the moment Karen comes in, here comes Irene.
I love what Paul says in Romans 5:1: “Therefore, being justified by faith,” that’s grace, “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” What people are desperately looking for today, that peace of heart, that contentment down deep in their soul, they can only find when they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Paul is also writing about how the Christian life continues. You’ve got to have fresh supplies of grace and peace every day. You’ve got to have sustaining grace.
For instance, you are dealing with a problem, and you don’t know how to work through it. In Colossians 3:16 we read, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” God will give you the grace to sing in the hard times.
What about when temptations come in your Christian life? In 2 Timothy 2:1 we read, “Thou, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” God can give you that strengthening grace. Every day of your life He gives His grace and He gives His peace.
We are going to need God’s grace and God’s peace when you come to the end of the road. Dying grace. Paul said in II Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” I believe in the moment of death; God will give you dying grace.
There it is, grace and peace. You may say, “I want that, James.” Where are you going to get it? Do you think you can go over to the hardware store and say, “Give me a gallon of grace and half a gallon of peace”? Do you think you can go to Walmart and say, “I want two yards of grace and a yard of peace”? Do you think you can go to a bar and say, “Give me a fifth of grace and a fifth of peace”? No. The Bible says, “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus has cornered the market on grace and peace. He’s got a monopoly on the product. But if you want it, He’s giving it away to everyone who accepts Him into their hearts.Back To Blog