Week 1 Philippians 1:1-11 // Joy in Christ - Joel Virgo

Teaching text

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.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.


This Sunday we began our new preaching series: 'Joy Has A Name', going through the book of Philippians. At this point in the story, Jesus has gone back to be with the Father but has sent the disciples, empowered by the Holy Spirit, out into the world to share the good news of the gospel.
Philippians is a letter written by Paul to the church that he had started in the city Philippi several years earlier. Philippi was a colony in Rome meaning that the people were Roman citizens, giving them a sense of prestige and status. However, Paul encourages them with the message that though they are inhabitants of Philippi, they are citizens of heaven and therefore they should be bringing about the culture of Jesus where they live. This goes against the culture of Rome, but Paul wants them to see that they are on the same journey as Jesus, who did not look for acceptance and status in this world, knowing that His true home is in heaven.
The church in Philippi was miraculously brought about by the sovereign power of God, interrupting Paul’s plan and sending him on a new journey to make disciples in a new place. Though we may feel like we have control over our lives, God has the final authority and His Will is going to be done. Every good thing in our lives has been brought about by Him and we can find confidence in this, that He will bring to completion every good work that he has started. Paul knows God will finish what He started in Philippi. However, this does not make him complacent. He feels the weight of responsibility and so prays for them often that the love of God would transform the hearts of the Philippians and that the church will continue to become more and more like Jesus, bearing fruit and demonstrating His glory.

  1. At times it can feel like, as Christians, we stand out in the secular culture that we live in. That is because we do not belong here, we belong in heaven with our Father. Therefore, we should not try to fit in and chase worldly acclaim or success but instead live like Jesus, following His example and showing love to those around us.
  2. God is in control of our lives and everything that happens. Therefore we should give up the illusion of control and trust that His plan is the best plan. Even when things seem to be going wrong, we can know that He knows what is best for us and will do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.
  3. With the knowledge that God will bring to completion the work that He has started in our lives, we should not then become complacent, passive or lazy. We should pray for ourselves and for the church that we will continue to grow and bear more fruit.

Discussion Questions

  1. How does the idea of being an outsider feel for you? For the Christian, what are some of the comforts and challenges of knowing that he or she does not belong to this passing age but is a citizen of the age to come?
  2. The passage teaches that it is God who begins the work of salvation and it is God who brings it to completion in our lives. How it this encouraging?
  3. Can you imagine being a part of a church community which grows really deeply in love for another. Imagine what it would be like. Imagine the levels of forgiveness, humility, patience, generosity, hospitality, help and encouragement. Have a go at describing what it might look like in Brighton, then start to pray for it to emerge in Brighton.