Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Philippians Week 63-The Final Greeting to the Philippians

Introduction
-“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.” (Philippians 1:1-2 ESV)

Philippians 4:21-23

Context

-Paul has now concluded his entire letter, and now he gives the standard greeting in apostolic literature. In chapter 1, he informs them of his present state in Roman imprisonment and exhorts them to be faithful while waiting for his return. In chapter 2, he continues his exhortations for the church, using the example of Christ as the greatest example of humility and exaltation we have. In chapter 3, he warns of false teachers, urging the Philippians to follow godly examples and properly understand sanctification. In chapter 4, he gives personal counsel for people in the church, and concludes by speaking of their financial gift given to him by Epaphroditus.

Verse 21
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you.
1. The Saints in Christ

-“Greet” (Ἀσπάσασθε) is an aorist middle imperative second person plural verb. It is a command Paul directs to the entire Philippian church. The verb ἀσπάζομαι appears 59 times in the New Testament, and appears 38 times in the writings of Paul.
-A greeting was a sign of fellowship with someone else. (Matthew 5:47)
-A greeting was a sign of peace between two parties. (Matthew 10:12-13)
-A greeting was a sign of relationship with someone else. (Acts 18:22; Acts 21:19)
-“every saint” (πάντα ἅγιον) refers to all those believers in Philippi and beyond.
-The term “saint” was used in the New Testament prior to the church to refer to righteous individuals. (Matthew 27:52)
-The term “saint” is applied to all fellow believers in the Lord (Acts 9:13), regardless of their location. (Acts 9:32)
-The term “saint” is applied to all of God’s people, not to a special class of righteous in heaven. (Acts 9:41)
-The term “saint” is used 53 times by Luke in the book of Acts. The next highest occurrence is the 25 time it is used by John in Revelation. It is rarely used in the gospels. Paul uses it most in the letter to the Ephesians, where he uses it 15 times. It occurs in Philippians only three times (Philippians 1:1; Philippians 1:21; Philippians 1:22)
-“in Christ Jesus.” (ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ) refers to the unity of each saint with Christ.
-The phrase “in Christ Jesus” occurs 50 times in the ESV, and only once in Acts 24:24 is it not used by Paul.
-He greets them as being the saints “in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:1)
-He gives them reason to glory “in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:26)
-He exhorts us to have right thinking “in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 2:5)
-He tells us we worship and glory “in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 3:3)
-He told them he pressed on for the goal “in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 3:14)
-He tells us we are guarded by God’s peace “in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:7)
-He promises us that God’s supply for our needs is “in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
2. The Brothers with Paul
-“The brothers” (ἀδελφοί) refers to Paul’s fellow believers.
-Paul addresses the Philippians as “brothers” when writing to them of his life in Roman prison. (Philippians 1:12)
-Paul defines the believers in the Roman church as “brothers” (Philippians 1:14)
-He singles out Epaphroditus as “my brother” in Philippians 2:25.
-He calls the Philippians, his “brothers”, to rejoice in the Lord. (Philippians 3:1)
-He addresses them twice directly as “brothers” in exhorting them to proper sanctification. (Philippians 3:13, 17)
-He addresses them again as “brothers” when encouraging them to stand firm. (Philippians 4:1)
-He calls them “brothers” when detailing God-honoring thoughts. (Philippians 4:8)
-“who are with me” identifies these brothers as those physically with Paul in Rome while he was imprisoned.
-With Paul while he wrote Philippians were Timothy (Philippians 1:1) and Epaphroditus. (Philippians 2:25)
-Paul writes in Colossians 4:7-14 records that during his imprisonment, Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark the cousin of Barnabas, Justus, Epaphras, Luke, and Demas were present with him in Rome.
-Paul repeats the names of Demas, Mark, Aristarchus, and Luke as being with him in Rome in Philemon 1:23-24.
-Paul repeats the name of Tychichus as being with him in Rome in Ephesians 6:21.
-“greet you.” (ἀσπάζονται ὑμᾶς) is a present middle/passive indicative third person plural verb and a second person personal plural pronoun.
-In total along with Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus, Justus, Mark the cousin of Barnabas, Aristarchus, Onesimus, Epaphras, Luke, and Demas would have extended greetings to the Philippian church.

Verse 22
All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
1. The Saints in Rome

-“All the saints” (πάντες οἱ ἅγιοι) refers to all the believers in the church at Rome.
-The church had already been founded in Rome prior to Paul’s arrival in Acts 28. He wrote them the epistle to the Romans in A.D. 56 (Romans 1:1-7) and now was present in prison approximately five years later. (Acts 28:30-31)
-Paul has already referred to the Roman church in Philippians 1:12.
-Paul called the Christians in Rome 5 years earlier “saints”, for God must call us and save us by his grace in order for us to become saints in Christ. (Romans 1:7)
-The saints are those that are part of the Bride of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:2)
-In Christ, we have great hope in our heavenly Father because we have been made saints. (Ephesians 1:18)
-We are guaranteed the inheritance of the saints, being part of God’s family. (Ephesians 2:19)
-Paul greatly desired to build up the saints, and he especially did so in Rome, writing them with great theological force in the epistle of Romans.
-“greet you,” (ἀσπάζονται ὑμᾶς) extends greetings from the Roman church to the Philippian church.
-Paul elsewhere in his letters includes a greeting from one church for another. (Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 16:19)
-Paul also uses the phrase “all the saints greet you” in his letters. (2 Corinthians 13:13)
2. The Converts from Caesar
-“especially those of Caesar’s household.” (μάλιστα δὲ οἱ Καίσαρος οἰκίας) refers to members of the imperial guard and other individuals in Caesar’s palace who had become believers in the Lord Jesus.
-Paul’s reference to Caesar’s household would likely have referred to slaves working his employ at Rome, as Christianity often spread through the slaves and lower classes of the day.
-Paul also is referring to members of the Praetorian Guard who had come to faith in Christ. (Philippians 1:12-13)
-It was not unknown in Scripture for Roman soldiers to confess Christ rather than confess Caesar. (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39)
-“The Philippians would surely be thrilled to learn that the gospel had penetrated the household of Caesar and that Christians within that household sent them greetings. One wonders what sort of courage it took to be a convert to the Lord Christ working right under the nose of the Lord Caesar.10[1]”—Ben Witherington III, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary

Verse 23
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
1. The Grace of Jesus

-“The grace” (ἡ χάρις) refers to God’s special grace given to His children.
-God is the dispenser of divine grace through His Son. (Romans 5:15)
-“of the Lord Jesus Christ” (τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ) refers to the source of our grace and the One who truly is our Lord.
-When confessing Jesus Christ to be Lord here, particularly immediately after mentioning Caesar, Paul affirms very clearly that Christians know that Jesus Christ is the only divine and human Lord of all.
-Yahweh promised in the Old Testament that one day all men would bow to Him and confess Him to be Lord of all. (Isaiah 45:23)
-Paul has already declared, that contrary to Caesar, all men will bow the knee to Jesus Christ and confess Him to be Lord of all. (Philippians 2:9-11)
2. The Spirit of Philippi
-“be with your spirit” (μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν) refers to the inner being of the Philippians.
-Often Paul uses this word to refer to the Holy Spirit, but here the concept of “spirit” here refers to the living soul and personhood of an individual. (1 Corinthians 5:4)
-The apostle John stated that Jesus Christ is full of grace and truth. (John 1:14-17)
-The apostles testified to the spirits of men of the gracious word of Christ. (Acts 14:3)
-The apostles stated their spirits would be saved by the grace of Christ. (Acts 15:11)
-We continue in our lives doing the will of our Lord by His marvelous grace. (Acts 15:40)

Philippi: The Historical Aftermath
-After Paul was released from Roman imprisonment, he went on to return to Macedonia (1 Timothy 1:3), where he there was united once again with his beloved Philippian church.
-In Polycarp’s epistle to Philippi, written approximately 100 years after Paul’s ministry to Philippi, he wrote them commending them and exhorting them of the apostle’s doctrine. His first chapter echoes and testifies to the fruit of Paul’s ministry to Philippi:
“I have greatly rejoiced with you in our Lord Jesus Christ, because you have followed the example of true love [as displayed by God], and have accompanied, as became you, those who were bound in chains, the fitting ornaments of saints, and which are indeed the diadems of the true elect of God and our Lord; and because the strong root of your faith, spoken of in days [Philippians 1:5] long gone by, endures even until now, and brings forth fruit to our Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sins suffered even unto death, [but] whom God raised from the dead, having loosed the bands of the grave. In whom, though now you see Him not, you believe, and believing, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory; [1 Peter 1:8] into which joy many desire to enter, knowing that by grace you are saved, not of works, [Ephesians 2:8-9] but by the will of God through Jesus Christ.”
-Polycarp reminded the new generations of Philippian Christians to uphold Paul’s letter in a far higher vein than even his own. “These things, brethren, I write to you concerning righteousness, not because I take anything upon myself, but because you have invited me to do so. For neither I, nor any other such one, can come up to the wisdom [2 Peter 3:15] of the blessed and glorified Paul. He, when among you, accurately and steadfastly taught the word of truth in the presence of those who were then alive. And when absent from you, he wrote you a letter, which, if you carefully study, you will find to be the means of building you up in that faith which has been given you, and which, being followed by hope, and preceded by love towards God, and Christ, and our neighbor, is the mother of us all. [Galatians 4:26] For if anyone be inwardly possessed of these graces, he has fulfilled the command of righteousness, since he that has love is far from all sin.”
-Polycarp exhorted them to hold fast to the doctrine Paul had passed on to them 100 years earlier. “For I trust that you are well versed in the Sacred Scriptures, and that nothing is hid from you; but to me this privilege is not yet granted. It is declared then in these Scriptures, Be angry, and sin not, and, Let not the sun go down upon your wrath. [Ephesians 4:26] Happy is he who remembers this, which I believe to be the case with you. But may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High Priest, build you up in faith and truth, and in all meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbearance, and purity; and may He bestow on you a lot and portion among His saints, and on us with you, and on all that are under heaven, who shall believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in His Father, who raised Him from the dead. [Galatians 1:1] Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings, [1 Timothy 2:2] and potentates, and princes, and for those that persecute and hate you, [Matthew 5:44] and for the enemies of the cross, that your fruit may be manifest to all, and that you may be perfect in Him.”
-Approximately 50 years after Polycarp wrote to Philippi, Tertullian wrote in a letter circa A.D. 200 how Philippi along with other churches Paul had founded were outstanding examples of Christianity.  
-In the third and fourth centuries A.D., Christianity in Philippi continued, despite persecution and strong idolatry in the city. Archeological remains have been found that affirm that the church still continued during this era. In the 4th century, the Philippian Christians built a church and named it after Paul.
-Flavianus was an elder in Philippi in the 5th century A.D. who was noted for his godliness in the empire and also was a member at the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431, the third massive ecumenical council in church history. He was known for being a staunch defender of orthodoxy at this important council.
-Today, remains of 6th and 7th century Christian churches are still visible at Philippi.

Conclusion
-“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. (Philippians 1:3-6 ESV)
-“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.” (Philippians 1:21-26 ESV)
-“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”(Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)
-“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.” (Philippians 3:8-9 ESV)
-“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14 ESV)
-“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9 ESV)
-“Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”(Philippians 4:21-23 ESV)


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[1] Witherington, B., III. (2011). Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (p. 284). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Company.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Standing in the Gate and Proclaiming throughout the Land

Jeremiah 7:1-7 
In the book of Jeremiah, the man known as the “weeping prophet” of God spoke as the mouthpiece of the Lord in a time in which worship of the one true and living God had become badly corrupted. The land was rife with gross idolatry. Sexual immorality was rampant on a scale previously unknown in ancient Israel. Child sacrifice by fire was a horrifying religious practice of the day. But even more ghastly than all of these was the fact that those who professed the name of Yahweh practiced these things. And so in Jeremiah 7, the Lord commands Jeremiah to stand in the gates of the temple and speak to those worshipping there.

This passage is introduced by describing what it is: the word of the Lord. “The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD. (Jeremiah 7:1) The Lord instructs him to stand in the “gate” (entryway and courts) of the temple Solomon built a few centuries before. This word is directed specifically to the people of the southern kingdom Judah who gather to worship there, and so He introduces Himself by Jeremiah to these crowds in verse 3. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’”(Jeremiah 7:3-4) Yahweh-Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, speaks as the only true God of Israel. He calls them to repent and change their ways in order that God’s covenant promises of safety and security would be fulfilled in the land. He also warns them not to do that which God’s people often did up until the time of A.D. 70: trusting in the Temple as a religious good-luck charm rather than the location in which the holy God dwelt among His people. Jesus issues the same warning when He addresses the Jews in His day over 700 years later. “But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:2)

The Lord develops and describes His promise further in the next paragraph in verses 5-7. If swearing by the Temple in the heightened three-fold fashion of verse 4 is of no avail, how can God’s people be certain that they can continue to worship Him? But to the faithful believer, a far more important question is, how can the believer know that those who worship the Lord are genuine worshippers of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel? The answer to false worship and self-deceived worshippers is God’s answer. He says in verse 5, “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another”, repeating the covenant promise of verse 3.

Firstly, they needed to change their ways in accordance with the ways of God. In our day, we use the word “ways” to refer to actions, but in the Old Testament the word “way” (
דְּרָכַ֫יִם) was understood to be a pathway or journey along a definitive roadway. Hence why we see this same understanding in the New Testament when the followers of Christ are followers of the “Way” (Ὁδὸν), referring to the Old Testament understanding of walking the pathway of God’s righteousness, now revealed in the New Testament to be entered through by Jesus Christ and sustained by Jesus Christ with the final outcome of being united eternally with Jesus Christ. And so here in Jeremiah 7:2, the Lord commands not superficial change, but genuine change from a life of artificial worship to genuine repentance. They are to “truly” change their paths of life towards the path towards God. In our day, it is not simply enough to identify with a body of believers and fill a seat on Sunday morning and walk in worldly paths. To artificially worship the Lord of hosts one day and to worship the idols of lust, greed, strife, and other various sins during the days afterwards is to fall under the judgment of Christ’s words in the New Testament. “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:7-9)

Secondly, the people of God are to truly change their actions. Our actions both stem from and contribute to the path—the “way”—on which we are walking. A path of righteousness and peace will both come from and be produced by the fruits of righteousness and peace. A path of darkness and strife, struggling to do that which only the Creator of time can do by believing we can control our own future, will result in actions of strife, disorder, anger, malice, discontentment, and ultimately idolatry.

The Lord continues, thirdly, by speaking of righteous conduct in society in verse 6. “If you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm,” (Jeremiah 7:6 ESV)
As echoed by our Lord’s brother James in James 1:27, God considers our treatment of others to be a reflection of our understanding of Himself. The “sojourner” in those days would have been those traveling through Israel, those living as nomads, and those living as foreigners in the land. Injustice for the foreigner and exploitation of the helpless in society are grievous evils in the eyes of God. Furthermore, a self-satisfying view of human life as being that which can be defined and used for our own selfish ends is deeply grievous to the heart of God. A thought which should sober believers in Christ today, when the sanctity of human life in our culture and even in our minds is no more than the unwanted results of passion, to be prevented or ended as we so choose. Ultimately, these things come from idolatry, for the Lord warns us not to “go after other gods” to our own harm. When we choose to sin, we choose to suffer. Sin always promises pleasure and brings greater pain. And therefore God warns us not to pursue idols, for idolatry will ultimately destroy us.

The Lord’s covenant promise is in verse 7. “Then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.” No mere lip service could deceive the eyes of the Lord which range throughout all the earth. Religious hypocrisy was condemning, not convincing. Obedience to God’s covenant stipulations brought about God’s covenantal rewards: that of dwelling in the Promised Land, the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and gave to the Israelites through the conquests of Joshua. And so God’s people would enjoy His presence forever if they worshipped Him faithfully, walking in His ways and doing what was right in His eyes.

This message has not changed in our day. This message stands eternally. We are to stand in the gate and proclaim throughout the land, “This is the way! Walk therein.” We are to understand that judgment begins at the house of God, and so we are to faithfully proclaim the words of our Lord. Both with our lives and our mouths are we to firmly proclaim that God Almighty is holy. Our Savior Jesus Christ is mighty to save. Our sinfulness kills us to the core. Our worship of God can never be acceptable in His eyes if we worship idols that will inevitably destroy us. Rather, we are to stand and declare to men and women of all lands and ages to change their ways, repent of their sins, and believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, being faithful servants of righteousness who walk towards their everlasting home. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Living and Active: the Power of God's Word

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

In our day, we constantly look for that which will affect change in people. We turn to politics for help with our economic and social issues. We turn to psychology and therapy to help our “rough patches” and “mistakes”. We write and read scores of books every year about self-empowerment and self-improvement. We look to educators, counselors, therapists, pundits, politicians, and even ourselves in order to address our problems and solve society’s woes. But not one of these categories possesses the power that the Word of God possesses.

We think that with more knowledge, we can be educated to the necessary degree to fix our “shortcomings.” We think that with more ability, we can empower ourselves to do the right thing. We think that with more therapy, we can work through the roadblocks others have imposed upon us. We think that with new politicians, we can introduce laws that will sweep in progress and change. We believe that with a nicer environment and nicer people, we can act as we should more of the time.

However, while all those statements reflect secular society’s views of that which is truly helpful, ultimately the issue in life is not that we do not know enough or do not have enough self-empowerment. It is not that we need better government relying on worldly wisdom. It is not that secular society doesn’t know what to do. The problem both with society and with ourselves is that when it comes to true change, we do not do the things we know we should do. And that is a dilemma fallen man faces: being spiritually dead, fallen man and fallen society possesses neither the ability nor the desire to do that which can actually bring change for our own good. The reason for this is that the problem for our spiritual deadness lies within each and every one of us, but the solution lies nowhere within us. Our problem is internal, and the solution is external—a proposition that is antithetical to that put forth by secular society, in which it is believed that our problems are external and our solutions are internal.

Back in a day in which paganism run amuck and the government was thoroughly pagan, the anonymous writer of the epistle of Hebrews wrote to the Jewish Christians of his day. He wrote to them in order to encourage them in times of mounting oppression and persecution. He wrote to them when belief that Jesus Christ is Lord was a political crime against the state. He wrote them when a belief that Jesus is our High Priest and the bringer of the New Covenant brought fierce opposition from the Jews who had misunderstood the Old Covenant. He wrote to believers who had lost their property and their homes for being faithful to the faith once for all delivered to the saints. He wrote to those who wondered if persecution for the sake of Christ was actually rewarding. He wrote to those discouraged from strong resistance from false teachers. All of the aspects of that society then increasingly define our society today. Our property and homes may not be seized, and we may not be sent to jail for confessing that Jesus is Lord. Yet nevertheless, the lands in which we live and the societies in which we dwell believe in the supremacy of man to define his own path, not the supremacy of God and His Son. We stand in antithesis to that which earlier elucidated the secular position on cultural and personal change. And so we need to be reminded that what we possess in the Word of God is not merely the ancient words of men centuries and millennia dead who lived thousands and thousands of miles and years from our own location and time. Rather, what we possess in written form is indeed far more than that.

Thus in Hebrews 4, the author exhorts and warns them and us to be faithful to what we have been taught, lest we be like those in Israel who fell away due to their apostasy. Drawing from the Old Testament examples of Jews who flaunted the Law of Moses and were destroyed for their sin, the author writes primarily to Christian Jews about 1,500 years later to be faithful in the midst of unfaithfulness coming from their unbelieving countrymen. And so in Hebrews 4, he demonstrates how the promise of rest in Canaan, being magnified from that of the Sabbath rest from the creation week, has been magnified even more with eternal rest in Christ. And thus if we are to enter the eternal Promised Land, we must strive to enter that rest. Verse 11 states, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”

The very next verse stands as one of the iconic statements of Scripture about itself. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV) Firstly, the Spirit of God identifies this as “the word”. This is not simply “a” word, but rather that which is the particular and specific word. Furthermore, this word is not simply those of men. It is indeed given to us through men writing in different situations in different periods and different cultures in different countries. It is indeed written by men with different gifts and literary abilities and personalities. But ultimately, it is that which is the word “of God” Himself.

Being the very Word of God still preserved in written form today, we are instructed that the Word of God is “living”. To be alive is a peculiar concept when applied to literature. What therefore does it mean that written words are “alive”? After all, it clearly does not mean that printed Bibles are themselves sentient paper and ink. What it does mean is that the living Spirit of God, the One who breathed out these words, actively uses His Word to accomplish His good and gracious purposes. These words are alive precisely because they are active by the power of the Holy Spirit. They have divine power to give life to the spiritually dead. They also are active in ways we ourselves never could be. It is a divine sword wielded by our Lord Jesus, for it is in fact the very sword with which He will strike down the nations, the antichrist, and the devil upon His return. Greater than any human weapon, it is sharper than any two-edged sword, for it can pierce not merely our physical being but even our very souls. No other word has this power to penetrate our souls or give us life and discern our thoughts and hearts—even when we ourselves cannot do so. No human word can discern the innermost minds of men. No human word can penetrate to the center of our souls. No human word can effectively discern the secrets of human hearts. But the Word of God is unlike any other word, for it is the divine word coming from the very mouth of our Creator.

Living and active: such is the Word of God. Times of persecution and oppression come and go. Kings and empires rise and fall. Scores of materials are published every year. But that which only has the power to change our spiritual nature and give us life is the same as that which can pierce the souls of men and lay them bare. The Word of God possesses divine power, for it is wielded by its divine Author. And so we take courage that it will perform its perfect work, for it alone is living and active throughout the ages. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Philippians Week 62-The Glorious Provision of God

Introduction
-“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV)

Philippians 4:19-20

Context

-Paul was exceedingly joyful that the Philippians had revived their concern for him, even though they were already concerned for him. (Philippians 4:10) However, Paul was not speaking out of being in need, for he knew how to be content in all situations—a remarkable demonstration of God’s grace working in his life. He could be content, because he could do all things Christ called him to do through the strength Christ provided him. (Philippians 4:11-13)
-Paul expressed how kind it was for the Philippians to partner in his trouble, and he reminded them of their history of partnership with him, focusing specifically on the months immediately after he left them in A.D. 51 in Acts 16. (Philippians 4:14-16) He explained to them that he did not seek money, but rather sought eternal fruit in their lives that laid up rewards in heaven for them. He was indeed well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts they sent him. (Philippians 4:17-18)

Verse 19
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
1. The Great Supply from God

-“And” (δὲ) signals the wondrous conclusion of Philippians 4:10-18, the conclusion of Philippians 4, and the symphonic doxology of the entire book.
-“my God” (θεός μου) identifies God as Paul’s very own God.
-The phrase “my God” is used often in the Old Testament, beginning with Jacob when God appeared to him at Bethel. (Genesis 28:18-22)
-Moses led the people of Israel in praising “my God” after the Lord lead the nation through the Red Sea. (Exodus 15:1-2)
-Moses identified Yahweh as “my God” in his last words to the people of Israel. (Deuteronomy 4:5; Deuteronomy 18:16; Deuteronomy 26:14)
-Joshua identifies the Lord personally as his God with the phrase “my God” in Joshua 14:8.
-Ruth identifies Naomi’s God as “my God” when she chose to follow her mother-in-law into the Promised Land. (Ruth 1:16)
-David identified the Lord as “my God” repeatedly in his song of praise after his deliverance from the hand of Saul. (2 Samuel 22:3, 7, 22, 29, 30, 47)
-Both Ezra and Nehemiah identified the Lord as “my God”. (Ezra 7:28; Nehemiah 2:8)
-In order for the Lord to be our God, He must first make Himself known to us. (Romans 1:19-20)
-In order for the Lord to be our God, we must come to know Him through salvation in His Son by His Spirit. (1 John 4:13-15)
-“will supply” (πληρώσει) is the future active indicative third person singular form of πληρόω, which means “to complete; to fulfill.” The indicative mood makes this an entirely certain statement of fact, and the future tense speaks to a fulfillment of this statement for the Philippians and for us.
-This supply is the same idea of being filled up that Paul refers to in Philippians 4:18.
(Luke 21:4)
-In order to be able to supply someone, that individual must be able to give the supply to the one who needs it. (Philippians 4:10)
-God is the One who provides all good gifts to us. (Psalm 85:12; James 1:17)
-God is the One who has possession over all that exists. (Deuteronomy 10:14; Job 41:11)
-God is the One whose promises will not fail. (Joshua 21:45)
-“every need” (πᾶσαν χρεία
ν) refers all the needs that God considers a need.
-Our God knows every one of our needs. (Matthew 6:8)
-We have physical needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. (Matthew 6:31-32)
-We have eternal needs, such as salvation and security for the coming Kingdom of God. (John 7:37-38)
-The Lord has promised to supply the seed for the harvest of our righteousness. (2 Corinthians 9:10)
-“of yours” (ὑμῶν) is a second person personal pronoun in genitive plural form, identifying that these needs are those of everyone in the Philippian congregation.
-The Philippians needed to be strong in the power of the Lord. (Philippians 1:27-28)
-The Philippians needed a spirit of humility in their service to one another. (Philippians 2:1-4)
-The Philippians needed strong courage to stand firm against the onslaught of paganism. (Philippians 1:27-28; Philippians 4:1)
-The Philippians needed a deep-seated joy in order to endure promised suffering. (Philippians 2:17-18)
2. The Glorious Riches in Christ
-“according to” (κατὰ) is a preposition of reference, identifying where God’s great supply is found.
-“his riches” (τὸ πλοῦτος αὐτοῦ) refers to God’s wealth of abundant supply.
-The term “riches” is a monetary term to mean “wealth”, as it is most commonly used in the gospels. (Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14)
-Riches are those that are possessed by rulers of men. (Isaiah 45:3)
-Riches are that which distinguish oneself from the commoner. (1 Kings 3:11-13)
-Paul uses to the term “riches” to refer not to money, but to the great blessings of salvation. (Romans 11:12)
-Great riches come from the Lord God of Israel. (1 Chronicles 29:12)
-God is described as being “rich” in His attributes. (Romans 2:4; Romans 9:23)
-God is rich towards us in grace. (Ephesians 1:7)
-God is rich towards us in mercy. (Ephesians 2:4)
-God has promised to give us a rich inheritance. (Ephesians 1:18)
-God is rich towards us in peace. (Philippians 4:7; Philippians 4:9)
-“in glory” (ἐν δόξῃ) identifies God’s riches come from His throne in heaven.
-The Lord God reigns majestically in the heavens. (1 Chronicles 16:31; Psalm 96:10)
-God does all that He wills as He reigns from His heavenly abode. (Psalm 103:19; Psalm 135:6)
-God’s riches, being the great King over heaven and earth, surpass all the riches of any man. (Psalm 11:4; Psalm 103:19)
-The Lord God sits on His heavenly throne in glory. (Revelation 4:1-8)
-“in Christ Jesus” (ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ) is where all of God’s glorious riches are found. Christ Jesus is the center of the entire book of Philippians.
-Our union with Christ Jesus is described by Paul as being a richness of surpassing beauty and value. (Colossians 1:27)
-All of God’s riches are found in His Son. (Colossians 2:1-5)
-God’s great grace is found in His Son. (Ephesians 2:7)
-Paul’s mission in life was to proclaim the “riches” of Christ to the world. (Ephesians 3:16)

Verse 20
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
1. The Earthly Focus on God

-“To our God and Father” (τῷ δὲ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ ἡμῶν) identifies the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also our God and Father as well.
-Paul identifies our Father as our great God.
-God is the only God over heaven and earth. (2 Kings 19:15; Nehemiah 9:6)
-God is the God who speaks clearly in His Word. (Exodus 20:22; Deuteronomy 4:33)
-God is the God who has given us all things in His Son. (Romans 8:32; 1 John 4:9)
-God is the God who is unlimited in power and might. (Psalm 147:5)
-God is the God who is full of lovingkindness. (Psalm 36:7; Psalm 69:16)
-God is the God who is full of compassion. (Psalm 103:13; Psalm 116:5)
-God is the God of peace. (Hebrews 13:10; Philippians 4:9)
-God is the God of joy. (Psalm 13:5; Psalm 16:9)
-God is the God of strength. (Psalm 28:7; Psalm 59:17)
-God is the God of hope. (Romans 15:13)
-Paul then secondly identifies our God as our Father. (1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:6)
-God is the great Father of His people. (Isaiah 64:8; Malachi 2:10)
-God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31)
-God has become our Father through our adoption into His family (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1) by the death and resurrection of His Son. (Ephesians 1:3)
-God greatly cares for us far more than any earthly father ever could. (2 Corinthians 1:3)
2. The Eternal Praise for God
-“be glory” (ἡ δόξα) refers to the splendor and the greatness we ascribe to our heavenly Father.
-Paul reminds us that God receives all glory. (Romans 11:36)
-God is glorified through His Son. (Romans 16:27; Jude 1:25)
-God is glorified in the church of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:20-21), as Paul desires for the Philippian church. (Philippians 1:9-11)
-All that God does demonstrates His glory to us. (Deuteronomy 5:24)
-God’s glory distinguishes Himself from created things. (Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11)
-God manifests His great glory in order to prompt great worship for Himself. (2 Chronicles 7:1-3)
-God’s glory surpasses all the glory of everyone and everything else. (Ezekiel 1:26-28;
-Glory is God’s right alone. (Revelation 19:1)
-God is glorified in Jesus Christ His Son. (John 1:14; Hebrews 1:3)
-“forever and ever.” (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰών) identifies that God’s praises last throughout all eternity. A literal rendering from the Greek is “to the ages from the ages”.
-God is described as reigning “forever and ever.” (Exodus 15:18; Psalm 10:16)
-God the Son is described as having a throne which lasts “forever and ever”. (Psalm 45:6)
-The Lord’s name will be praised “forever and ever”. (Psalm 45:17; Psalm 145:1)
-God is blessed “forever and ever”. (Psalm 145:2; 1 Chronicles 29:10)
-God’s glory will be heralded “forever and ever”. (Psalm 145:21)
-Paul frequently uses “forever and ever” to describe God’s enduring glory. (Galatians 1:5; Ephesians 3:21; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:18)
-“Amen.” (ἀμήν) is an interjection transliterated directly from Hebrew (אָמֵן) into Greek (Αμην) into English. It means, “Truly!”
-“Amen” is Paul’s conclusion to his excursus on the Philippians’ financial partnership and a common conclusion of a doxology of praise to the Lord. (1 Chronicles 16:36)           

Conclusion
-“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:34-36 ESV)


Handout
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzLnbvsX8ZvgZG1ZeEVSWTM4WEk/view?usp=sharing

Recording
https://www.opendrive.com/files?Nl82NDk0MjYwN19rYW51MA