What does it say?
Paul begins the Philippian church during his second missionary journey in 50 AD. He writes this letter as a prisoner in Rome probably between 61 and 63 AD.
Paul opens this brief letter with personal greetings and prayer for the church (1:1-12). The apostle updates the Philippians about his personal state of affairs and on that basis calls them to stand firm and united in Christ (1:13-30). This theme of being united in heart and mind continues as Paul gives them the example of Jesus Christ (2:1-11) and challenges them to be faithful to the mission of reflecting God’s light in a dark world (2:12-18). He advises them that he will shortly send Timothy to minister to them. Paul also mentions Epaphroditus sent by the Philippians to assist Paul, he is now sending him home, but makes it clear this decision is due to circumstance and not for any failure on the part of Epaphroditus.
Paul warns them against those Jewish believers seeking to make Jews out of any and all follower of Jesus. Instead, he urges them to focus on God’s mission and calling, setting aside all personal and cultural concerns as he has done (3:1-21). Chapter 4 is a message of a peace beyond description and understanding that comes from life with a missional focus.
What does it mean?
Paul is obviously concerned for divisions in the Philippian church, aggravated by the legalistic Jewish believers already mentioned. Yet this letter is amazingly positive and has a clear focus on joy and inner peace that comes from a missional focus in life. Both Paul and Jesus are examples to the Philippians of sacrifice and suffering in process of living out the mission.
Paul calls on the Philippians to have the mind of Christ. The connection with one’s mindset and the experience of joy in the midst of trial are evident in this letter. Joy results from a conscious decision to live a missional life in the example of Christ and, by implication, Paul himself.
How will I respond?
Are joy and inner peace a normal part of my life? If not, what is it about my mindset that needs to change? What positive step can I make to grow personally this week because of what I have seen in Philippians?