Joyful Living: Paul’s Letter to the Philippians

Joyful Living: Paul’s Letter to the Philippians

2017 Fall Sermon Series: Joyful Living: Paul’s Letter to the Philippians

If the Apostle Paul had a favourite congregation among the many congregations he helped establish, it would have been the church in Philippi.  Although the church in Philippi had it struggles, this epistle is less of a letter challenge regarding the church’s failures, but more of a letter of encouragement pushing the good congregation to become even better.  Philippians is similar to a missionary’s thank-you letter for support and prayers given throughout Paul’s ministry.  Beyond a simple thank-you, Philippians is Paul sharing with this congregation the secret of joyful living even in difficult times.

Paul mentions joy, rejoicing, and gladness, 19 times in this short letter.  Yet, this joy-filled letter was written in one the darkest, most difficult periods in Paul’s life.  For he had been imprisoned in Rome and almost forgotten by the churches.  Think of it – the great Apostle in a dirty Roman prison, deserted by most of his friends.  Still he writes with joy, rejoicing in the riches that belong to all believers in Christ.

How did Paul have joy in a place and time like that?  Moreover, why do so few of us have joy even in our affluent society?  The secret is a simple one: Paul had filled his mind with Christ.  Paul speaks of Christ or Jesus Christ 17 times in the first chapter alone of his letter.  In fact, he expresses a longing to know Jesus and to know him fully.  In knowing Jesus so well, Paul is able to express so much joy in the face of his daily sufferings.