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Lessons from the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the

By Ken Raggio

The Church At Philippi

In Acts 16:9, a vision appeared to Paul. A man said, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." That vision led Paul to Philippi, in Macedonia. A woman named Lydia believed the Gospel and was baptized with her household. Paul and Silas were thrown in prison for preaching at Philippi, but while singing praises at midnight, an earthquake opened the prison, resulting in the salvation of the prison keeper and his family. A great Church grew up in Philippi.

Philippians 1:1 - "Paul and Timotheus, all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons."

I Thank My God For Your Fellowship In The Gospel

So many everyday sayings bear a similar message. "Count your blessings." "Stop and smell the roses." "You don't appreciate what you had until you lose it." "In every thing, give thanks." What on earth is more precious than a good and godly friend? If you have fellowship with even a few saints of God, you possess one of earth's most precious treasures. Every time you think of them, thank God for blessed spiritual brothers and sisters.

Philippians 1:3-5 - "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, ...For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now."

Always Praying For You Because I Have You In My Heart

"Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, ...because I have you in my heart." Paul, with Timothy, wrote thus to the Philippian saints. The secret to being able to pray faithfully and consistently for someone is to have them in your heart. We do not normally pray for those who mean little. But when you love someone, you pray often for them.

Philippians 1:3,7 - "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart."

He Will Perform A Good Work Until The Day Of Christ

My Pastor, John W. Harrell, says, "the blessings and the curses of God speak to the end of a matter. You may appear to be blessed now, yet under the curse. You may appear to be cursed now, yet under the blessing." There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. The true and faithful believer is under the blessing.

Philippians 1:6 - "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."

I Pray Your Love Abounds In Knowledge And Judgment

He taught us to pray without ceasing, and Paul practiced what he preached. " Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request..." (Philippians 1:4). I have a short list of dear loved ones that I pray earnestly for every day. If prayer did not make a difference, we might not be so compelled to do it, but prayer does make a difference. Paul's prayers for the Philippians began with desire for love, knowledge and judgment.

Philippians 1:9 - "I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment."

Pray For Someone To Have A Change Of Heart

How explicit can your prayers be? Does it help to pray about extensive details? How far will God go to do what you ask? Paul prayed for the Philippians to have abounding love, knowledge, and judgment. He prayed that they would "approve things that are excellent." Can we expect that kind of prayer to be effectual? Will God actually cause someone's attitude to improve, or cause them to have better values? YES! Pray for everything you wish.

Philippians 1:10 - "That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness."

Others Are Emboldened By Your Faithfulness

You never know who is watching you. Whether you are in an esteemed position, or humbled in a prison cell, the world is watching you. Will your anchor hold? Will men see Christ in you? Will you stand faithful, or flee from His presence? Paul's faithfulness in his imprisonment was a testimony and encouragement to those in Caesar's palace.

Philippians 1:13-14 - "My bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."

Rejoice Everytime Christ Is Preached

Paul noted that when some preach the Gospel, they manifest envy and strife. Others manifest goodwill when they preach. Some manifest contention when they preach, and some are obviously insincere. Some make things difficult on other preachers. Nevertheless, he was thankful that Jesus Christ was being proclaimed.

Philippians 1:15-18 - "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, ...But the other of love, ...notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."

Through Your Prayer, I Will Be Saved From My Bonds

When adversities come, a Christian must not freeze or assume that he did the wrong thing. The flood of adversities that Paul suffered, "have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; ...And many of the brethren ...waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." Paul expressed undaunted hope that with the saints' prayers, and the Spirit of the Lord, he would be saved from his adversities.

Philippians 1:19 - "I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ."

My Earnest Expectation And My Hope

As I have studied the subject of prayer in-depth, it has become more apparent that our earnest desires and hopes effect God. I will not go so far as to call them "wordless prayers," but God said that he knows what we have need of before we ASK or THINK. Before you ever formulate a prayer, God is reading your earnest desires and hopes. "Thou hast given him his heart's desire," Psalm 21:2. Be careful what you desire.

Philippians 1:19-20 - "This shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, ...According to my earnest expectation and my hope."

Having Two Good, But Conflicting Desires

Sometimes, you want two things that cannot be had simultaneously. Neither is bad, but you must choose. "I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better." Heaven holds the ultimate allure, but we want to save our loved ones. Heaven can wait. "Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." Pray for longevity. Expect it. God will call you when He is ready.

Philippians 1:25 - "Having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy."

In Nothing Terrified By Your Adversaries

Why turn to panic-stricken, hyperactive prayer when adversity comes? Relax! You cannot eliminate suffering from the Christian life. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution," 2 Timothy 3:12. Paul's sufferings are a perfect example. Suffering is an ordained token of salvation. God is still with you!

Philippians 1:28 - "In nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake."

Let The Mind Which Was In Christ Jesus Be In You

"In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." OTHERS above SELF. That is the mind of Christ. He died for us, and He died to fulfill the will of His Father. "Be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." Sacrifice your life for others, as sacrificing yourself to God.

Philippians 2:4-5 - "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."

Jesus Was The Form Of God And Form Of A Servant

Jesus is the Son of Man and Son of God. He is not "God the Son," a phrase NEVER used in the Bible. Jesus was made of a woman, and is the image of the invisible God. "My Father [God] is greater than I [man]," John 14:28. "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father," John 14:9.

Philippians 2:6-7 - "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men."

He Made Himself Of No Reputation, Became A Servant

If you miss this lesson, you miss one of the most important precepts in the Bible. Jesus was the incarnation of God, but most men did not know it. Why? Because He did not pose as God. He made Himself of NO REPUTATION, appearing in public as an almost anonymous man. He did not flaunt His deity, but enslaved himself to His redemptive purpose. We must likewise forfeit our reputation, serve Him completely, and die to self.

Philippians 2:8 - "Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

Every Knee Should Bow, Every Tongue Confess

O, magnify the Lord! For that purpose, we were created. "I have sworn by myself, ...That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear," Isaiah 45:23. God came down in the body of Christ to draw all men unto Himself. Abandon your selfish motives. This is not about you. It is all about Him.

Philippians 2:9-11 - "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, ...And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord."

Name Above Every Name - My Father's Name

Because the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, perfectly submitted to the divine purpose for His earthly life, "God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name." Jesus said, "I am come in my Father's name," John 5:43. God's name was Jehovah. "Jesus" is "Jehovah Savior."

Philippians 2:11 - "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Work Out Your Salvation With Fear And Trembling

No man will ever be saved unless he first repents of his sins. If you look at the vast disparity of convictions among professing Christians, you will soon realize that not every man feels the same urgency of guilt from sin as others. One man, who greatly fears God, will repent daily, or more often. Others, who have no fear, rarely feel the need to repent. Fear and trembling should drive us to repentance. Absence of the fear of God may cause you to be unrepentant.

Philippians 2:12 - "Wherefore, my beloved, out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Do All Things Without Murmuring And Disputing

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings." Most of us have never obeyed this divine directive as well as we should. Murmurings and disputings are common among men. Most Christians never learn how much God hates to hear murmuring. He slew many of the Israelites in the wilderness because they murmured against Him. Complaining and arguing against God is a dangerous practice.

Philippians 2:14-15 - "Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, ...without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."

Rejoicing In The Day Of Christ

Paul urged the Philippians to be blameless and harmless Sons of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. Such admonitions are not without great motives. "Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him," Isaiah 40:10. Payday is coming very soon. Stand hard and firm for the truth, and you will never be sorry.

Philippians 2:16 - "Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."

No Man To Care, For All Seek Their Own

Sadly, there seems to be a shortage of men of God who genuinely care more about others than about themselves. Paul treasured the assistance of Timotheus and Epaphroditus who were willing to travel and comfort the Churches. Very rarely do we find a minister nowadays who truly sacrifices himself for the cause of Christ and the souls of men. Few can resist the temptations of materialism, wealth, social acceptance and cultural expectations. Will you?

Philippians 2:20-21 - "I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's."

Epaphroditus - Brother, Companion, Fellow Soldier

Epaphroditus' name meant "loved by Aphrodite," but he was no pagan. Hippolytus listed him among the original seventy disciples. Epaphroditus delivered missionary support from the Philippians to Paul (4:18), who called it "an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God." Epaphroditus was Paul's missionary companion, and penned his epistle to the Philippians. "For the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life." Paul sent him home with his blessings, to comfort his brethren.

Philippians 2:29 - "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation."

Rejoice In The Lord

What did Paul mean when he said, "rejoice" in the Lord? The lexicon says, "be full of cheer." The dictionary says, "be glad, make joyful." The thesaurus says, "celebrate, enjoy, revel." If you have not been saved from sin and condemnation by being washed in the blood of Jesus, baptized in His name, and filled with the Holy Ghost, you may not think you have reason to rejoice. But if your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life - "Rejoice!" Be full of cheer, be glad, joyful. Celebrate. Enjoy. Revel.

Philippians 3:1 - "My brethren, rejoice in the Lord."

New Testament Circumcision Is Spiritual

Paul called them "dogs," "evil workers," and "the concision" - those who tried to convert Christians back to ceremonial Judaism and circumcision. The Old Testament covenant was sealed by fleshly circumcision, which is no longer necessary. The New Testament covenant is sealed by the Holy Spirit. New Testament saints are circumcised spiritually when they repent of sin and dead works, are buried with Christ in water baptism, and filled with the Holy Ghost.

Philippians 3:3 - "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."

Have No Confidence In The Flesh, Count All Things Lost

Nobody in the ancient Church had better Jewish credentials than Paul. Circumcised, tribe of Benjamin, "a Hebrew of the Hebrews," Pharisee, zealous, blameless according to the law. But after being filled with the Spirit, he had "no confidence in the flesh. ...what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." "I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ."

Philippians 3:9 - "Not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."

That I May Know Him

The seventy members of the Sanhedrin practiced religion perfectly. The Pharisees and Sadducees also seemed totally obsessed with their religion. But when the object of their religion showed up in bodily form, they did not recognize Him. On the Emmaus road, two travelers' eyes were beholden - they did not, and could not recognize Jesus. Even Mary mistook Him for the gardener. If we do not recognize Jesus, know His voice, or sense His presence, we miss the entire purpose of having religion. Be still and know that He is God.

Philippians 3:10 - "...that I may know him"

Attaining To The Resurrection Of The Dead

Things that were gain, Paul counted loss for Christ. He completely forfeited his worldly potential. "I count all things but loss." "I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. ...That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings." Why crave worldly things which perish? Why spend precious moments pursuing vain things? They are unworthy distractions from your divine purpose. Invest everything you have on eternity.

Philippians 3:11 - "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

The Prize Of The High Calling Of God In Christ Jesus

Sooner or later, someone will certainly find some fault in your walk with God. But there is no reason to react to such denigrations. Paul admitted that he had not attained to perfection, still he pressed toward the mark, expecting to receive the prize from Jesus Christ for heeding His call.

Philippians 3:13-14 - "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Selfish And Earthly-Minded Are Headed For Destruction

Follow a genuinely holy, consecrated true man of God. Take extreme care not to follow those who have turned against truth. Selfish, earthly-minded men are enemies of the cross of Christ and will lead you to hell. Paul wept as he contemplated their treacherous influence.

Philippians 3:17-19 - "Brethren, be followers together of me, ...(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

Our Conversation Is In Heaven

Paul urged the Philippians to follow those who walked as proper examples, "for our conversation is in heaven." Some translations say, "for our citizenship is in heaven." It is better understood as "the conversations of our citizenship," implying that we should live our lives and hold our conversations as if Heaven is our home, not the world below.

Philippians 3:17,20 - "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. ...For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ."

He Shall Change Our Vile Bodies

When a believer is born again, the Spirit of the Lord takes up residence. "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven," 1 Corinthians 15:47. The new man is heaven-born, a true Son of God. The old man is corruptible, and must be adopted by God. In the first resurrection/rapture, our old body will be changed into His likeness.

Philippians 3:21 - "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."

Rejoice In The Lord Alway: And Again I Say, Rejoice

Eleven times in only four chapters, Paul used the words "rejoice" and "rejoicing." Obviously, he sensed that the Philippians were not enjoying the goodness and blessings of God. That is probably true about us, too. Our problems and difficulties weigh heavily on us, and we squander precious time being down-trodden, discouraged or depressed. We must deliberately focus our attention away from our problems, and toward God and His countless blessings. Stop wasting your life on negative cogitations. Start celebrating everything that God has done for you.

Philippians 4:4 - "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice."

Be Careful For Nothing; Pray, And God Will Keep You

Early on, Paul admonished the Philippians not to be terrified by their adversaries. Now, he says, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." "Be careful for nothing," means "don't worry about anything." If you will pray about everything, make your particular requests known to God, and thank Him for what He does, He will calm your fears, and take good care of everything.

Philippians 4:7 - "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Think On These Things (Godly Things)

As a man "thinketh in his heart, so is he," Proverbs 23:7. You are what you think. Banish evil thoughts by crowding your mind with godly thoughts. This is one of the most powerfully transformational admonitions in the Bible.

Philippians 4:8-9 - "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are HONEST, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT; if there be ANY VIRTUE, and if there be ANY PRAISE, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do."

Do Those Things That Ye Have Seen And Heard Me Do

Scientists call it "observational learning," meaning that we learn by following another's example. We imitate behaviors which we consider to be a precedent or model behavior. Paul instructed the Philippians to do the things that they had learned, received, heard and seen in him. Paul was seen and heard interjecting prayer into his conversations. His example showed that we should practice prayer and praise throughout the day.

Philippians 4:10,20,23 - "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, ...Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ...The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."

Whatsoever State I Am In, I Can Do All Things

Most Christians only embrace this theoretically. Seldom are we in complete want, thoroughly abased, desperately hungry, or suffering from great need. Nevertheless, you will scarcely reach spiritual maturity until you have truly experienced total and utter dependence upon God.

Philippians 4:11-13 - "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

God Shall Supply All Your Need

Is this a prophecy? If not, then what? You can spend your days worrying yourself to death over how things will turn out. Worry, if you will,about whether you will have food, clothes, a roof over your head, good health, or money to pay your bills. But Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you," Matthew 6:33. That is a PROMISE. That is a sure word of PROPHECY.

Philippians 4:19 - "My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Saints In Caesar's Household, Church At Babylon

No two cities more vividly represent the earthly hostility against God, Israel, and the Church of Jesus Christ, than Babylon and Rome. The Babylonians captured the Jews in the sixth century BC, and carried them off to Babylon. After being restored, Israel was again destroyed at Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD. Yet the Bible reveals that there were Christian saints living in Babylon and in Rome. "The church that is at Babylon ...saluteth you," 1 Peter 5:13. You can live for God anywhere.

Philippians 4:22 - "All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household [in Rome]."

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