33 thoughts on “Philippians 1:1-6

  1. Verse 1, Is Timothy also in jail or in the city and visiting Paul often?

    Verse 6, what is meaning of: until the ‘day of Jesus Christ’.


    1. Great questions! Paul likely composed this letter from a prison cell in Ephesus, and Timothy was the young leader of the Ephesian churches. (Fun fact – Timothy was in Ephesus when Paul wrote 1 and 2 Timothy, and many aspects of Ephesian culture come out in those letters.) But it’s safe to say that Timothy was not in prison but would regularly look after his mentor and dear friend, similar to Epaphroditus leaving Philippi and bringing provisions to Paul.

      As far as your second question goes, “in the day of Jesus Christ” is New Testament shorthand for “when Jesus returns.” Throughout the Old Testament, “the Day of the Lord” refers to when the God of Israel would return to vindicate his people, bless them, and judge their enemies. Very quickly, the early church associated Jesus, Israel’s God in the flesh, and his return with that same idea. Except now, the enemies of God’s people are not waring nations but the real enemies, sin, death, and the forces of evil.

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  2. Wow, excellent points Angela. I am really glad for and challenged to receive His Grace and Peace now and not when…or if….


    1. That is a challenge for me too! This is a great time to practice peace in the midst of crazy circumstances! May that peace fill your heart and home today.

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  3. Is it possible to be encouraged and confused at the same time? I love these verses and I love the idea of being “freed to” something because I understand that as humans we are hard wired to serve or worship something and if the thing we’re serving isn’t Christ then it will be anything else in our path, i.e. work, family, comfort *insert favorite idol here*. So He frees us from those idols and frees us to worship of Him. Having Grace and Peace no matter my circumstance is encouraging and convicting simultaneously. My confusion comes when I consider the tension between my responsibility as a believer in living a Christian life and my responsibility to rest in the idea that he will complete a good work in me. I believe that he will complete a good work, but what is my responsibility in that other than submission. How exactly does allowing Him to complete the work play out in real life?

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    1. I really like your question Melanie about the tension between us doing our part, (where is the line?) and resting in what is God’s part and what does that look like practically or not so practically.
      I think it’s a balance that we learn as we go maybe? Like, if I feel nudged to go to church, join a Bible study or skip watching a certain rated R movie bc I know what that will do negatively, that’s what I “know” to do that day or week. The big things: Read Bible, pray, fellowship with other Believers seems like “our part”. To me, what seems like His part, is growing the fruit of the Spirit and renewing my attitude cuz honestly, I have never been able to do that. And lastly, I have beat myself up sometimes for not growing fast enough. That probably is not resting in His timing of work in me. Those are just my thoughts. Great question!
      And yes: confused and encouraged simultaneously is a thing I also experience.

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    2. It’s so hard to keep one foot in heaven and the other in our earthly world. And I think that God is not looking for perfection in us. He is looking for perseverance. Are we still committing to relationship with Him? That relationship is how He is able to complete His work in us. I struggle with finding joy as well so I have sometimes condemned myself for that struggle but God already knows it, He has sifted it through His hands and He is STILL completing His work in me.

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      1. I can relate with that but I also agree with you. I think a lot of times we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect. I am a “recovering perfectionist”. I believe that God has called us to be in relationship with Him, to know Him, to seek Him, and I think when we continually do that we start to grasp who He is which in turn show us who we are. He provides that grace and peace and joy even in the moments that we don’t feel we can muster up any strength. He always sees the big picture even when we can only see the current circumstances. Be encouraged in that you are not alone and you are right he is STILL completing His work in you and in me.

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    3. Melanie, to answer your first question, YES! It is absolutely possible to be encouraged and confused at the same time. You hear Greg and Tim talk often about the tensions we live between, and this is one of them. 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us that now we see dimly and we see “in part”. In that place of not seeing fully, we choose to trust God. He is the one who sees fully and is faithful. So we trust Him in the confusion. The goal is not to fully understand, but to fully trust even when we do not understand.

      There is also this tension that you pointed out as to what is our responsibility to grow and knowing that only Christ can complete the work He started in us. Only He can heal our human hearts. Hebrews 12:2 gives us great advice. Keep your gaze on Jesus. We make our hearts available to Him by being in His Word, praying, worshiping, and being in community with other believers. We fix our gaze on Him knowing that HE completes the work in us.

      Years ago I had a wise mentor who said, “There will be times in your life where you will have to CHOOSE to trust Jesus in spite of the confusion of your circumstances or what you can see.” Those words have helped me as I’ve experienced that tension of being encouraged and being confused!

      I have learned that He is faithful and is always doing His work in my heart!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you Angela, your explanation is very helpful! I can do that. I can CHOOSE to trust Jesus in my confusion. I may need to be reminded of that along the way. LOL And that’s what a body of believers is for, right?

        I’m also currently doing a book study with another bible study group and we’re reading None Like Him: 10 ways God is different from us (and why that’s a good thing) by Jen Wilkin. In God’s timing and right after I asked the question here of what’s our part while He’s finishing His work in us, we discussed the chapter on God’s self-sufficiency and covered how we try and fail to be self sufficient. It gave a great list for how to be alert and unmask when we deny our need for God and our need for having other believers in our lives. Some of these repeat what you said, but they feel like they apply to our discussions, are practical guides for exposing my heart, and help unpack even further the practical things that God is asking of me while He is doing His work in me, so I wanted to share them.

        Our self reliance in denying God can be revealed by:

        Prayerlessness (ceasing to approach God with petition, praise, confession, or thanksgiving)
        Forgetfulness (forgetting God’s past undeniable provisions)
        Anger in trial (When face-to-face with our limits we feel anger at our exposed need)
        Lack of conviction of personal sin (unable to acknowledge our personal need for forgiveness)

        Our self reliance in denying need for other believers can be revealed by:

        Avoidance of Christian community (because we neither want nor believe we need help, we make no place for authentic relationships with other believers)
        Concealment (concealing the true state of our lives from other believers)
        Lack of accountability (believing “we’ve got this” we grow increasingly unwilling to ask for or receive wisdom or correction from another believer)
        Lack of humility (our growing self-reliance yields us increasingly unable to ask for or receive help)
        Exhaustion (we over-extend our limited physical and emotional resources)

        I need to make myself a plaque or get a tattoo that says:

        Pray, remember, have joy in trial, acknowledge my need, commune with believers, reveal don’t conceal, be vulnerable, be humble & ask for help.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. thank you Angela, for explaining the three points. I’ve been hearing this message about grace and peace and here you are explaining it! I know that I am experiencing His grace and peace right now – in the meantime – as His plan for me is is unfolding everyday in my life from now until eternity. I am His servant (slave!) and will do His will.

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  5. The parallel between Paul in prison, with dirt walls and one meal a day to what we are experiencing with our “stay at home” quarantine made me think about how I am handling this.

    Paul was in so much worse shape than I am and I draw from his positive response to his “prison” situation vs. mine. There is no comparison. Emotionally, yes I am wanting to see my family and my church community but I have my husband, my dogs, ZOOM!, food, shelter, and most of all, the biggest blessing of this C-Vid ordeal has been how close God is. We feel Him everyday. We pray more. God is in almost every thought.

    I love Paul. His words are such an encouragement.

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    1. bfurrer, right!?! Great insight. This is exactly why we picked Philippians for this study at this time; if Paul can find strength in his situation through faith in God’s goodness, how much more can we? When you say “the biggest blessing of this ordeal has been how close God is” I think Paul would respond by saying, “Yes! This is what I mean when I say that His power is made perfect in our weakness.”

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  6. This beginning was so good. The historical information then the scriptures broken down really works for me. All 3 points today were good. Grace and Peace to us/me no matter what has been a mantra for myself and husband this year.

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  7. Love the message from Angela on grace and peace right now. I am terrible at not allowing peace in the now and always saying I cannot have peace until xxx or when xxx occurs. Anxiety and worry are my giants and later in Paul’s letter in chapter 4:6-7 are my go to verses which is another strong reminder of how to live better with peace and our hearts in Jesus. THANK you for framing it up that way. PEACE right NOW!

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  8. Wow, Angela, this is such rich stuff! Thank you. I also love that the NLT uses the (in my opinion) better and more rigid translation for doulos – the word we translate “slave” or “servant.” It teases out some of the weight of what it means to follow Jesus.

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  9. Thank you for this lesson. It is really difficult for me (especially as a fellow American who values independence and productivity) to consider myself being a slave to anything. I get the context that Paul was using and why he would use that word. But if I am honest, I have a really hard time with that because my heart is often rebellious and subject to self sufficiency. It’s almost as if I am prone to laying something down for a little while, but then I decide that God has had it long enough, so I scamper and pick it back up to carry myself. “it” can be anything from worries to pain to prayer to cookies. I really want to continue to grow in a DEEPER rhythm of rest, peace and grace. I see glimpses of it, but like some of you have mentioned, I rely far too often on my circumstances to define my sense of being.

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    1. Thank you Laurie!
      Makes me want to grow in deeper rhythms of Trust in His plans and purposes here and the world.😁


    2. That concept has been difficult for me as well, Laurie. I love your honesty about seeing that your heart can be rebellious. And I have long thought that self-sufficiency is one of our greatest sins. We cannot fully surrender to Christ if we do not need Him. And oh how we need Him!

      What has helped me to accept this concept of being a “slave to Christ” is recognizing that indeed I do become a slave to whatever I obey. And I too often, like you, pick it back up myself and move back towards self-sufficiency.

      Look at Psalm 73. The writer is being brutally honest about how he sees life and how he is interpreting his circumstances. He comes to the conclusion that he has kept his heart pure for nothing. In other words, this obeying God thing has not gone well for me! Then, and I love this, in verse 17 everything changes when he says, “Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood…..”. I can relate to that. When I am not “entering His sanctuary” my heart and mind get off track.

      For me, entering His sanctuary means spending time quiet in prayer, praying my thoughts, reading His word, and being with other believers who help me get perspective and hold me accountable. That is when my perspective changes and I find myself growing and my faith deepening.

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  10. Thank you for the message today! I must remind myself so often that there is peace right now, no matter the situation. Knowing Christ should be the only peace I need, but I hate the fact that I get caught up in the things of the world. It is such a struggle. Looking back over my life I find that the times I have felt the most peace were in the times of brokenness. Why is it that the peace doesn’t come when things are going smoothly? I recently was in the hospital with COVID and one of those days I was so sick but I felt so much peace from God. Other times when I have lost a loved one peace showed up. Don’t get me wrong…..I am certainly not complaining. I guess if anything I am discouraged that I don’t experience this peace everyday.
    Angela, I too prayed scripture out of Philippians when my children were little. One of my “go to daily prayers” was Philippians 2:14-16. My children are also grown now and thank you for reminding me I should still be praying this prayer for them.
    Thanks again, I really enjoyed the study today!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Carla! What a journey to have suffered with Covid. I am so glad you are better. And also so glad that you experienced the peace of Christ in the midst of it.

      I think we find His peace more often in times of crisis or suffering because that is when we are most aware that we need Him and we are not in control! I have gone back and read my journals during times of crisis and actually find myself missing the peace I experienced during those times. I felt an intimacy and awareness of God’s presence like not other times in my life.

      One of my goals is to learn how to experience that peace when things are calm and going well in my life. The key for me is to keep my heart in a place of desperation for Him. I have to acknowledge that every good thing I have comes straight from His hand, Psalm 16:2.

      Let’s keep praying for our children and all of those who will come after us to know His presence and His peace!


  11. Thank you Angela. Couple of extra points I do love the NLT yet in that opening verse, I prefer “servant” (ESV) vs slave. I completely understand you point of being a slave to what you ‘do’ or ‘worship’. Servant is a positive view of what we ‘should’ do and worship.
    Next: verses 4 & 6
    “Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, [joy being the operative word, not complaining or groaning, – not that “l” would ever do such a thing]
    {and one of my favorite versus of Hope}
    And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” [ I figure that the Lord took on a big job when He started His work with me. This gives me Hope that He is going to finish it.]
    ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:4, 6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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    1. Jeff (and others), I appreciate how this thread is honing in on that word–as Ben mentioned, “doulos” in the Greek– and how we should interpret it. NLT uses the word “slave,” many other translations (including ESV as you mention and NIV) use “servant,” and then there is the NASB which tries to split the difference with “bond-servant.” There is, of course, plenty of room for preference here. Translators in the 20th and 21st centuries have to consider the contextual meaning of words in their choices, and the word “slave” is difficult for us to separate from our understanding of our American history. This is one reason so many translations avoid the word.

      Paul would have had no such context in mind. In fact, much of slavery in his day had less to do with race and more to do with economics. However, here is what is essential in how Paul uses the word “doulos” in describing our servitude to God. Acknowledging our indebtedness to God and His absolute authority over our lives (and in fact the entire universe) puts us in proper relationship to Him. He is, quite literally, our Master. This is what we mean when we call Him Lord. Which makes us, in the purest and most original sense of the word, His slaves.

      That may be hard for our ears to hear, and hard for us to accept. But what is different about this kind of slavery isn’t so much the slave, but The Master. He is the perfect, kind, loving, generous, and good Master, a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, who not only calls us to be His servants, but adopts us as His children. I hope this helps add nuance to our discussion!

      How deep are we getting already, in just the first few words of Philippians!?

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  12. Thanks Angela! I love the 3 points you gathered from these verses. It really stood out to me how the first words Paul opens with are praise Jesus and humbling noting himself as a servant to Him. He was focused on Christ not himself. Then he leads with gratefulness and thanksgiving for other people. Again he was focused on the wellbeing of others. All the while, he was physically imprisoned in a culture that didn’t like followers of Jesus. How amazing that Paul could find that joy and grace and peace and that was due to his relationship and knowledge of who God was. I am encouraged by this knowing that we too can live in that manner; with grace and peace and joy, despite the circumstances and in this current moment. So encouraging

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  13. Ahh, Angela, thanks so much! I’m late to the game here, but will be working to catch up on the study. I appreciate the thoughts about how God will finish the good work in us, and it’s not our job to do it by ourself. As I’m geting older, I feel pressure and stress about all the things I haven’t accomplished or done with the feeling that time is running out.
    This stay at home time seems to have magnified those feelings. This was such a good reminder for me. Love you!


  14. Angela,

    I really appreciated the reminder that grace and peace are ALWAYS available to me. It’s easy to overlook that when your in the trenches of everyday life. Thank you!


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