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)
Sometimes it can be easy to pass over words like these that are an introduction to a book of the Bible. We don’t think that they can make sense for our lives and so we hurry over the words or we skip down to something more interesting. Today though I want to challenge you to think a little deeper. What do you know about the Apostle Paul? Write down everything you know. No worries, I’ve got time. (If you are unfamiliar with Paul, you can read his back story over in Acts 8-9 where he went by the name of Saul).
Ok. Lets compare notes: Paul used to persecute Christians! He went around from town to town locking Christians in jail and in some cases even approving of their murder (Acts 8:1)! Then through a dramatic encounter with Jesus, on the Road to Damascus, Paul’s life was changed. He went from being a guy who went from town to town persecuting Christians to a guy who now went from town to town telling people about Jesus! He was even thrown in jail, tortured and beaten for telling others about Jesus! God had radically changed Paul’s life.
Paul is the human author that God used to write the book of Philippians. That’s important because God uses the most unlikely characters to do great things in his name. Next question: Who do you think the book of Philippians written too? Go ahead write down your answer. I got time. When you’re done click the more tag.
If you said the “church at Philippi” You’re 100% right but if you said “Christians” or “us” or something like that, you would also be right. The primary (first) audience to receive this letter would have been the people of the church at Philippi, the secondary audience would be the people who would read and benefit from reading this letter like believers from other churches and different times (like us).
We actually know a little bit about how the church at Philippi got started. Acts 16:11-30 contains the account of the first three people who believed the gospel in Philippi. The first was a wealthy business woman named Lydia, the second was a formerly demon possessed girl and the third was a jailer who tortured Paul just for the fun of it before his life was transformed by the gospel.
Can you imagine how their lives were changed by believing in the gospel? I bet Lydia looked at her fashion empire in a whole new way. Maybe she began telling the people who worked for her about Jesus. I can really imagine the formerly demon possessed girl was completely different instead of telling people their fortunes she was telling them about how Jesus could set them free from sin. And the jailer, I can imagine that his rough exterior was being replaced by a man who wasn’t afraid to lead his family. They were all changed by the gospel. They weren’t what they once were. The Apostle Paul calls them saints.
“Saints” is a word that refers to all believers. It literally means “holy” or “set apart ones.” When Paul writes “all the saints” he is simply saying “to the whole church at Philippi.”
You see when we place our faith in trust in Jesus we are transformed from sinners into saints in God’s eyes. The gospel has a way of changing people. Keep that in mind as we press forward in studying this book together.
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