Sunday, June 7, 2015

Good Days …


It is the year AD62 and the Apostle Paul is in a prison of sorts in Rome. The prison is actually his own hired house but he is chained to a guard night and day to insure he does not escape. Paul is allowed visitors and receives all who come to him. (Acts 28:30)

Timothy is with him at this time as are several others including Epaphroditus from the city of Philippi who had been sent by his home Church with greetings and gifts for the imprisoned Apostle. It is on this occasion Paul feels led by the Holy Spirit to write this pastoral epistle to the congregation and the ordained leadership at the Church in Philippi.

Philippians 1
1 ¶ Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 ¶ I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,
5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace? – Thanking God upon every remembrance …??? for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now!!!???

Let us look back for a moment and recall those first days: Acts 16
  • The year AD52, the Apostle Paul was on his 2nd missionary journey
  • He and Barnabas had parted ways and the Church in Antioch commissioned Paul and Silas to continue their mission work
  • Paul’s travels took him from east to west all the way across the country now known as Turkey. It was a long walk …
  • In one of the first cities Paul and Silas visited they met a young boy, perhaps 18 to 20 years old, named Timothy.
  • Paul laid his hands on Timothy and prayed for him and imparted some discernible spiritual gift to him.
  • Then Timothy was embraced as a disciple and joined the company to continue with them and help out on the mission journey.
  • When Paul and Silas and Timothy reached the western coast of Turkey along the northern Aegean Sea at the old port city of Troas, Luke, that beloved physician, joined the group.
  • Paul desired to continue his mission work in Turkey and attempted to go both northwards and back eastwards but was resisted by the Holy Spirit and redirected through a dream to sail to Greece instead.
  • Paul and Silas, Timothy and Luke, who wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, agreed and set sail on their journey to Philippi.
  • This was the first recorded venture of the Gospel into Europe.
  • We have a well written eye witness account provided to us through the historical writings of Dr Luke recorded in Acts chapter 16.
  • The account of those first days in Philippi …

Acts 16
22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.
23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.
24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Those first days at Philippi really don’t sound like good days to me – yet 10 years later Paul remembers them with thankfulness and with joy … why? Because this Apostle of faith still believes the very same thing he first believed when he accepted Jesus as Messiah and began proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. Now, writing to the Philippian congregation Paul reminds them of what they too should believe:

Paul writes a pastoral epistle to the Church family at Philippi and says:

  1. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
  2. God will supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory.
  3. To live is Christ and to die is gain.
  4. When God begins a good work in someone, He would complete it.
  5. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." (Acts 16:31)