Philippians Intro | On Mission Together
Host: Welcome to Through the Word, leading you on a journey through the entire Bible, one chapter at a time. Today Kris Langham guides us through the New Testament book of Philippians. Now to Pastor Kris.
Hello friends, welcome to Through the Word. We begin a new book today: Philippians, and I love this book. Philippians is a mission letter – from a missionary in chains, sent to his mission support team. It has updates on the mission, gratitude for support, and most importantly, fellowship in the mission itself. That word fellowship is right at the heart of this letter. Think of your own close friends. How did you get that way? A lot of things make friends close: shared interests, shared laughs, shared troubles. But for me, my best friends come from shared mission. Paul calls it the “fellowship of the gospel.” It’s a powerful bond.
Now who is Paul anyway? Well, he wrote this letter. To the Philippians, Paul is the missionary who gave them hope. The story is in Acts 16, and you may want to read that chapter today as a great introduction to Philippians. Now by the time of this letter the Philippians are a thriving church and a core part of Paul’s mission team. They know Paul, he introduced them to Jesus. They believe in Paul’s mission and they support it financially. Paul meanwhile is in Rome, in jail. He is awaiting trial for doing exactly what he did in Philippi, sharing the gospel and changing lives. Paul is waiting to see Caesar Nero, and it might mean death.
Imagine getting a missionary update written from jail. Paul writes to tell his support team that he’s chained up and the mission is still on! Chain me to a guard and I’ll reach the guard. And amazingly, this letter written in chains is full of joy. Now the commentaries all say that joy is a main theme here in Philippians. But it’s not really about joy. It’s just a joyous letter because of what Paul is writing about and who he is writing to. That’s how joy works. You don’t analyze it and figure it out; you get it along the journey – on the mission together. Speaking of which, verse 3:
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5).
I love how this letter starts. I think it’s just about the best compliment you can give, “I thank God for you. And when I do, it’s joy in my heart and a smile on my face.” Why? Your fellowship in the gospel. I think the word fellowship has kind of lost it’s meaning. In church we share some coffee and call it fellowship. And it sort of is, at least a start. But Paul is talking about more than caffeine and a few laughs. He’s talking about the kind of fellowship you find on a mission - together. Shared goals, shared hardships, shared stories and prayers and laughter and tears. There’s just a handful of people who have really walked through it for years of ministry with me. Those are my best friends.
When God sets you on the same mission, and sets His love in your hearts for the same people – that’s fellowship.
Paul’s fellowship with his old friends in Philippi had depth. Paul had reached them with the gospel - brought them hope. And together they reached more. Shared sacrifice, shared love, shared mission. Never underestimate the importance of the missionary’s support team. That brings us to verse 6:
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6).
Man Philippians has some good verses. This one is key. This work – this mission that we share together – it’s not just our work. It’s God’s work in you, and through you. And God does not leave unfinished projects. He carries it on. He completes it. I like the word confident here because man this verse gives me confidence. Not self-confidence, God-confidence. My life is God’s work and God’s story.
So that’s what we have ahead of us in Philippians. God’s work – our fellowship. And above all, Philippians is about Jesus. Do a search in Philippians for verses with the word Christ, and you’ll get almost the whole book. From Christ, for Christ, like Christ, and in Christ – this book is about Jesus. He is the heart of our fellowship and He is the one at work in us. Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith story. And His work is good.
Host: Thanks for joining us for today’s quick audio guide. You can find the full audio guide for this chapter and hundreds more on the Through the Word app and website. Our apps are free and free to share, so tell your friends and take the journey together. And remember, faith comes by hearing, and hearing Through the Word (Romans 10:17).
Bible quotes in NIV unless otherwise stated.