Friday, October 29, 2010

A deep look into Scripture...

I pulled this out of the archives of my college career...honestly I can't believe I found it, but this was during my second year of school, for my New Testament Survey class, so I pray you will enjoy reading this.

This is concerning one of my absolute favorite books of the Bible, Philippians, and this paper is a look into that book as a whole. BTW, I got a 97 on this assignment.

The Bible is a book that gives us many answers for life’s problems. It has
sixty-six books, two testaments, and thousands of years worth of values and traditions. My favorite verse in the Bible is Philippians 1:20. “I live in expectation that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness be courageous, so Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death, my Life is the Lord.” In New Testament Survey II, we were charged with the task of studying a book, and doing background studies on that particular book, so for this task, I have chosen to do it on Philippians.
Arguably one of the most influential people in Christianity to ever live was the
Apostle Paul. He has written a large portion of the New Testament, including Philippians. His journeys were numerous, and covered thousands of miles through the vast Roman Empire.
During the time that Paul became a believer in the Lord, he was blessed with many
opportunities to travel and share the Gospel with anyone who would hear his words. Originally, the people who belonged to the church were doubtful of Paul’s conversion, and came to be afraid of him (this being from all the stories they had heard about Paul’s persecution towards the church and the believers). Even Ananias, the man God chose to restore Paul’s vision was not sure God was really telling him to go to Paul, but through Ananias’ witness, God brought Paul to a saving knowledge of salvation through the purifying blood of Christ Jesus, and eventually led Paul to the task that he had been called to, bringing the Gospel to the gentiles.
Because not everyone shared the same enthusiasm as he did, he was thrown in
prison for this. He was in Jerusalem, and pleaded with the judges to be taken before Caesar as his right as a Roman Citizen. It was a testing time for Paul, but it should be a blessing to us. A blessing because no matter how much we suffer for Christ, we can never compare that to the things Paul had to go through, so that essentially people like us could hear the Gospel and believe in it.
Paul managed to ruffle a lot of feathers in the religious scene of his day. He was
viewed as an outcast and a heretic by his own people, the Jews. Paul is described as a “Pharisee of Pharisees”; and his reputation preceded him. He was ruthless. He threw people into jail, separated families, and even had people publicly executed because of their faith in the Lord. God though, totally changed Paul for the better by turning him into one of the greatest believers in Jesus who ever lived.
The evidence is clear that Paul is in fact the author of this letter to the church at Philippi. The journeys that he took throughout the Roman world put him in a position that would more than likely have put him in the middle of that area. He had the chance to visit the places that he wrote letters to, but when he was writing Philippians, he was inside of a Roman jail. He sent word to them, expressing his love and concern for the believers there.
When Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians, he was in prison. He was a Roman citizen, so he did not receive the treatment that many believe to be associated with prison. His years of free wandering about the eastern Mediterranean, carrying the Christian gospel far and wide, were over. His apprehensions about the perils that might await him in Jerusalem, (Rom. 15:31), had been only too well founded; Cf. Acts 20:25, 38; 21:4, 13. He had been mobbed in Jerusalem, arrested there, and transferred to Caesarea, and finally, when he appealed as a Roman citizen to the emperor's court, had been removed to Rome for trial.” All of this occurred around the time period of the early AD 60s. Information from the Holman Bible Dictionary stated that “the date of the letter depends on which imprisonment Paul was enduring. The traditional date and place of writing is AD. 61/62 from Rome.” Another important detail about Philippians that most people fail to realize is that the jailer that almost kills himself when Paul and Silas had escaped the prison was a Philippian, but Paul responds to him with one of the greatest verse of the bible: (Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. – Acts 16:31). This person changed his life and ended up believing in Jesus because of what Paul had preached to him.
Greece undoubtedly was owned by the Roman Empire at the time Paul was out and about doing his entire ministry throughout the islands. He visited all sorts of important locations and had interactions with dozens of influential people. Philippi was a place that Paul had a serious impact on, and it ended up becoming a major location in the Roman world.
“It was first settled in the 6th century BC by people from Thasos, (the most northern island in the Aegean region). It originally was named Krenidos, “the springs”. Water sources were plentiful in this area. Philippi was the site of one of the most significant military engagements in Roman history. In a series of battles there in 42 BC, Mark Antony and Octavian conquered the republican forces behind the assassination of Julius Caesar, Cassius and Brutus. Following the Battles, Philippi became a Roman colony and discharged veterans receiving land allotments settled permanently in the area. (Cf. Acts 16:11-40, first New Testament mention of Philippi in connection to Paul.) The colony served 3 purposes: 1) A fortified Roman outpost, 2) providing for the poor of Rome, and 3) a settlement for veterans who had served their time”

Paul was writing this letter to the church at Philippi as a way of encouragement. He was in prison, and he was checking up on them to let them know that he was alright, despite his imprisonment. Most of his letter talks about how he manages to survive through the ordeals he has been through because of the moving power of God Almighty (cf. Philippians 4:13). The church had been growing in so many ways, and Paul was there to help the Gospel to spread far and wide. In Philippians 1, he mentions how he has been locked up in prison, but has been evangelizing the guards that have been keeping watch over him, and have all come to faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The gospel was being presented to the gentile people, who are fulfilling the part of Romans 11:11 which says “Salvation has come to the gentiles to make Israel jealous.” Paul had such a heart for the Jewish people that his work among the gentiles was making the Jewish people jealous of the gentiles.
Paul was convinced that his suffering in prison was a great thing, rather than something bad. He showed the people of Philippi that he was not going to back away from the treatment that he was receiving because “he lived in eager expectation and hope that he would not be in any way ashamed, but was bold for Christ, because his life will glorify Christ whether by life or by death” . Paul talked about the believers in Philippi as people that he loved and cared for. He even spoke of his love for them in similar aspect to the way that Jesus loved them. To compare someone’s love for another the way that Jesus loves us is a big deal. The gospel continues to spread and goes further and further into the known world of the day, all because Paul decided that he was not going to accept anything less than a victory in the name of Jesus. His letter to the Philippians is opened with a greeting in the name of Jesus. (1:2) This appears quite frequently in the New Testament. Philippians, being one of the genuine letters of Paul, has all of the features you would see in the letter. His introduction and blessing to the church, and a consistent prayer for the people of that city that they will follow through in their walks with Christ, as will be demonstrated later on in the book.
When looking through Philippians, you can clearly see that this is a book meant to be an encouragement to others. Paul usually encouraged the churches that he wrote letters to. There are a few ideas that I wish to stress that you can take away from Philippians 1.
I) Love others the way that God loved you. You were given life because some gave their life for you first.
II) Let your life be a God-glorifying one. Strive to exalt God in everything that you do, no matter what it is.
Paul did not have a problem addressing that at a moment’s notice, he would lay down his life for the cause of Christ. Let your life be lived in that way. Let it be lived so that Christ could be magnified in you!
My high school years brought about a lot of spiritual growth in my home church, First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach. During that time, my bible study small group did a study from a series called “The Mind of Christ”. It is taken from Philippians 2:5-7 (Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.) These verses spoke so much significance to me, because having to develop the same mindset as Christ is never an easy thing to do. Our minds are corrupt from sin, and we do not have the option to choose that. We must live our lives in such a glorifying way that will honor the Lord.
Paul has such a great heart for encouragement. He speaks of his spiritual walk from a very Jewish perspective. He was raised as a Pharisee and had such a zeal for God as a Jew. His focus has been on the Lord, and having such a deep knowledge of Scripture adds to how much he loves and understands his nature as a believer in relation to Jesus Christ. Living humbly, not hoping to gain any earthly recognition, rather, and living for a heavenly recognition. To be able to hear God the Father say “Well done, good and faithful servant” was the only thing that mattered to Paul. He counted all of his suffering and hardships a blessing rather than something to curse God for. Suffering for the sake of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the biggest honor to Paul, and he was not going to settle for anything less.
In the last chapter, Paul demonstrates his genuine love for the believers in Philippi and gives them encouragement, even though he has been in prison in Rome. He had endured a lot of bad stuff (putting it bluntly). He wanted to encourage other believers of the time never to give in to the persecution and the torture they were receiving from other people because of the fact that they were believers in Jesus. He wanted to make sure that their joy was found in the Lord and not in doing anything out of “selfish ambition” (v.3). His idea (v.1-4) was to make sure that the believers in Philippi were not focusing on the concerns of their own heart, but being concerned about the worries and needs of other people around them.
Following his advice to the church in verses 1-4, Paul moves on to discuss having the same mindset or attitude as Christ did. In verses 5-11, Paul goes on to explain to the church the expectations that he had of them. In other words, this is how we (the believers) should be modeling our lives after. He speaks of the price that Jesus paid and the things that he had to do in order to claim our souls as property of God the Father. Jesus stepped out of heaven and took on flesh, also taking on the sins of the world. Paul was trying to display
“the two natures of Christ: his divine nature and his human nature. (1) Here is his divine nature: Who being in the form of God (v.6), partaking of the divine nature, as the eternal and only begotten Son of God. This agrees with John 1:1, it is of the same import with being the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and the brightness of his glory, and express image of his person, Hebrews 1:3.”
(Matthew Henry’s Commentary, p. 590)
In doing this, Paul proves to the Philippians that there was so much more the Jesus than what
they had heard about him. He was the Son of God, living on earth as a mortal. Walter Elwell and Robert Yarbrough mention this in their book Encountering the New Testament, which gives the title for this idea in Philippians 2; Christology. Paul had come up with a new idea of thinking, something that took time to conceive, yet it made perfect sense when he discusses it. “This passage is of rare literacy excellence and theological richness Whole books have been devoted to exploring its origin, use in the early church, and message.”
Paul then goes on to talk about having a very healthy fear of God as a way of understanding how significant their salvation in Christ was. God was going to be the one to move through them, helping them act in an appropriate way that was Godly and edifying to everyone around them. It should be a definite example to us as to how we as believers should live our lives. We have been redeemed of all our wrongdoings. We should be in the world, but not of the world. We can at times be hypocrites, because we say that we are “believers” but then our lives do not reflect that, we have to re-examine ourselves carefully.
Paul speaks at the end of this chapter that he would be sending Timothy to Philippi as a way to keep watch over the people. He did this a number in times in other letters as a way to help the believers in the church to stay on track. Paul does this, and also reminds the church to be as “shining stars” (v.15). The light of God is something too powerful for a mortal to look upon and live. Imagine if you would, that a light like that is shining through a group of believers, the powers of darkness would not be able to stand up to it. It is a positive message that Paul leaves with his friends, the believers at Philippi, and also with Timothy who he sends to Philippi. Christianity is just starting out, since it has been almost 30 years since Jesus returned to heaven, but it is growing at an alarming rate.
In the same way as Philippians 1, Paul leaves the reader with a very detailed bit of encouragement. He wished to express the attitude of Christ in a group of believers. Living your life in such a way that demonstrates the presence of Christ in your life. Also, in the words of the Australian worship band, the Newsboys “Shine, make ‘em wonder what ya got!”.
I) Live your life so that it demonstrates “the mind of Christ”. Live it so that you have an attitude that glorifies God, and rejoice that you have God’s presence in your life.
II) SHINE!!!!! You have the light of God in your life. This is the light that comes from the saving knowledge of a personal relationship with the Lord. Therefore, let your light shine brighter than all the stars in the heavens.
This paper has gotten to my life in ways I cannot understand. I have received a great deal of personal conviction in the way that I have been living my life. I have not demonstrated the fact that I have a bright light in me, as well as the mind of Christ. I should bee more careful with the way I speak to others, and how I love them, even when they do not appear to be lovable. Paul mentions the topic of perseverance in chapter 3 of Philippians. Pressing on for a goal, living life as it were a race. (A lot of VBS bible study curriculum will end up using Philippians 3 for a theme that would probably include NASCAR or a relay race). The race is something that we as believers should rejoice in, because God is challenging us never to give up or give in to the temptation of quitting. There is going to be a very big reward waiting for us on the other side of eternity because we managed to persevere when we could have called it quits and did nothing about our spiritual lives.
Nothing should encourage a believer more than to know that people died for the sake of other people being able to read the Bible in English. People have risked their very lives for the sake of the gospel to be preached in so many different languages. Never forget to pray for those people. In Philippians 3, Paul talks about keeping a guard from people who are out to do evil and destroy others. “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.” (Philippians 3:2). Paul’s heart is for the people and the persecution that they are facing from non-believers. The Jewish religious authorities throughout the Roman Empire were doing everything they possibly could to keep people like Paul from sharing the hope of Jesus the Messiah with people who would listen. Paul talks about how everything else compared to knowing Jesus is rubbish. “If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:4-8) Paul means business in this part of the chapter. He is not going to let anything slow him down. He wants so desperately for the people of Philippi to come to the knowledge of Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
“Unfortunately, the Jewish legalists were not the only threat to the Philippian church. Much that Paul had just said would also apply to the danger posed by an opposite viewpoint: pleasure-centered licentiousness. Those in the church tending to either extreme needed to follow the “example” (v.17) of Paul and his associates.”
The “example” of Paul and his associates would be how they demonstrated their “Christology” as well as their irrestible attitudes from being redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Paul wanted people in this time to understand that in order to “run the race with perseverance”; they need to understand why they are running the race in the first place. People who believe in Jesus run the race of endurance because the experiences they have with others that affect them negatively will only make them stronger, and make them into a greater witness for the glory of the Lord. Their respective testimonies of how Jesus saved them will be what drives them to go forward, sharing their story with others and to be the light in a place that has no light. That is what Paul is trying to say in this chapter of Philippians.
So far, we have looked at how Paul desires a great deal of righteous living for the people of Philippi. He has shown us how he deeply loves the people the same way that Jesus did, and wants to see that they remember how they should live; in a way that shows their Christology: representing “the mind of Christ”. We now look at Philippians 3, where Paul talks about running with perseverance the race that God set in front of us. Everything is done for the glory of God, and always has significance to it. Paul also talked about the submission to authority in this chapter. So here are the practical ideas.
I) Live your life like a race. You are running towards a goal, and the goal is the Kingdom of God. Everything that you are doing in your life for the name of Jesus is done for the Glory of God.
II) Respecting authority can work both ways as a good and bad thing. You need to understand that just because you are respecting authority it does not mean that they will respect you. Authority today does not always respect Christians. You need to know the difference between respect and persecution.
We have looked at an incredible amount of encouragement and discussion as far as Paul’s teaching is concerned. There is no greater joy, no greater encouragement than the study of God’s word. Philippians helps a believer to divulge themselves into an understanding of how to bless others, how to never give up, even when the world seems to come crashing down all around you, and above all to trust in God for all of needs. Paul opens this chapter with a big command that we should remember for all areas of our life no matter how bad things seem to get. “Rejoice, again I say Rejoice” (v. 4). Paul also reminds the church about how everyone has been given a special gift, and they should be using that gift to glorify God’s name.
Paul does not cease to encourage the people that he writes his letters to. Instead, he builds them up, over and over again. He urges this church at Philippi to press on (Chapter 3), and keep moving forward. It seems very clear that in Chapter 4, he gives a specific model for prayer. He desires that if anyone has need, they present their requests before God in heaven. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (v.6-7). His idea is simple: If you want something from God, pray as if you know that he will answer you when you pray to him.
His greatest desire for the people of Philippi is that they stand firm for the name of Jesus. There is obviously nothing else that Paul could possibly se as the greatest joy, than for the people of God to be bold for their savior. He mentions in v.2-3 about how he wants his brothers and sisters to agree on everything when it comes to the Lord. He mentions in these few verses how they have their names written in the Lamb’s book of Life. “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (v.19) Paul also makes it very clear in v.13 (probably one of the most important epistle-written bible verses), that with Christ, nothing is impossible. The people needed to understand that they did not have to fear. Christ was their ultimate strength. Paul was convinced that no matter what the people needed, God always had a way of providing for their needs, no matter how big or how small those needs were. Paul leaves with the familiar blessing that he is known for in v.23; “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen”

Every chapter has been a big blessing and encouragement to read. You, the reader, are always left feeling like God will always be doing something to keep you going in your walk with him. Paul’s final chapter for this book leaves the reader with 2 very important bits of information.
I) Pray as if God could answer anything you ask of him. Do not take that literally and ask for the winning lottery numbers, but pray as if you know if you asked God right now to do something in your life, he would do it for you.
II) Your faith is an important thing, and it is the greatest gift you have ever received. Do what Paul said in v.4 “Rejoice! Again, I say Rejoice!” You always have something to celebrate in Jesus, so praise his name for what he has done for you!
We all have that special book in the Bible that blesses us. Some people love to read the Psalms or Proverbs to get a bit of understanding from the great people in history. Paul had the teachings of his Jewish leaders, since he was brought up as a Pharisee. He learned so much from them about history and spiritual growth. Who would guess that in his lifetime, Paul experienced a genuine encounter with the Lord, and was able to write many letters to churches and people in order to bless them and encourage them never to give up on their walk with God! Philippi was a city influenced heavily by the Greek and Roman cultures. Their ways were a lost way. Blinded by ignorance, they decide to take a chance and listen to what Paul had to say in order to be made into better believers for the sake of the gospel. Paul’s greatest desire above anything else was the name of Jesus being taught to everyone he came in contact with. He did not care how it would happen, the only thing that did matter to Paul was the fact that he had the chance and opportunities to go out and spread the Gospel to anyone who would hear it. Philippi had been controlled by Rome, and had a very pagan background. Like Paul’s experience in Athens (Cf. Acts 17), he helped the people of Philippi experience the “Unknown God” in a real and loving way.

This book can serve no greater purpose than to encourage others. Paul lived for that. He loved to get out where all of the people were, and talk to them, build them up, and see that they do the same to others (discipleship). Without Philippians, we would not have the entire bible. We would not have the knowledge that Paul gained during this time. We have been blessed with a great leader of the faith. We must never take for granted the work of the people who made an English Bible a reality. People died so we could read about Paul’s experience in Philippi. It is never to be taken lightly. The Bible is the greatest book ever written, because it is a book that actually speaks to us and gives us everything we need to make it through this life, and live it fully in the next!

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