by Sylvia Nettles Dickson
Welcome to my posting! I hope you will find something helpful to your Christian walk. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. These thoughts are mere embers of greater fires that have burned through the ages. I am no where close to being a great theologian or exegete of the scriptures, and humbly walk in the shadows of people like my brother, Tom Nettles, and other men and women who have dedicated their lives to digging into God’s Word and presenting The Truth and Beauty that is Jehovah God.
My thoughts are embers that are meant to glow and warm our hearts toward God. They rest at the base of the fierce flames that sharpen our minds and cause our hearts to burn for God.
My first posting is on Philippians (ESV) 1:1-10. The Bible text is italicized.
1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Paul and Timothy are speaking in the role of servants of the Messiah Jesus. Their emphasis seems to be not so much as teachers or masters to them, but as meek, humble, obedient emissaries of Christ Jesus. Their letter is directed toward all the saints, as well as those charged with the teaching of doctrine and care of the believers.
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. In keeping with the servant spirit, they first greet them to look and see the grace and peace they have from the Father and Lord Jesus. This grace and peace doesn’t come from only the Father or only the Son, but comes to them in perfect agreement in the Godhead, completely attuned to believers as one voice. There is great power and authority in this statement of grace and peace. Consider creation, incarnation, propitiation, resurrection, sanctification and glorification for starters.
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, Wow! What a commendation! I could only hope for someone to thank God as they think of me. I don’t think this means they were perfect (as we see later), but that this relationship between Paul and Timothy and the Philippian Church was incredibly special.
4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. They continue with the assertion that these believers are special in their continual partnership in proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior. The evidences of this would include being hungry for the Truth; putting aside their own needs in favor of others; giving generously; praying continually; etc.
6 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. They continue with assurance that God not only has begun work in them, but will sanctify them. They will never be stripped of their position in Christ or be denied access to God. From beginning to end, God and glorify is faithfully carrying, shaping, challenging, correcting, and cheering them on. He will never leave or forsake those He has called.
7 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. This is not some mushy statement but a deep-seated love and attachment for the Philippians, based on the fact they are all together through God’s grace. Distance and time do not separate believers because through God’s grace we are joined together by His Spirit. When one suffers, we all suffer. When one shows more of Christ in his nature, we all rejoice. When someone stands firm in a tough situation, we all encourage and pray.
8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. Paul longs for them in such a way that exceeds human understanding. It is a supernatural, God-given desire to not only write to them and pray, but to go to Philippi and sit in their houses, eat meals with them, have one on one conversations, weep and rejoice with them. No human has the other-focused longing without God’s gift of it. This is a pure love seated in Christ Jesus.
9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, So he continues by letting them know he prays that they will have this same kind of God-shaped love. This love is fueled by knowledge of God. It makes judgments and decisions based on humility and care for others, not self interests.
10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Paul continues defining this love: winnowing thoughts and deeds to accept only the excellent ones; not settling for less than the Truth; purifying minds and hearts; staying away from temptations; not making excuses for sin; sitting at the feet of Christ to grasp what righteousness is, submitting to Him; staying focused on His return when only glory and praise of God will rule.