A number of you told me how good and useful it was to read the whole of Paul’s letter to the Philippians at once. Then others told me how much better it was to read the Philippian letter over and over on consecutive days in different versions. I am proud of those of you who did that. You will be the richer for it. Imagine now taking it up another level and reading it over and over on the same day in a number of different translations. That is what I find the most useful when I am wanting to soak in a Bible book.
But that is not the other kind of background reading I want to suggest in this Gem.
Are you ready to move to the next level now?
Are you up for the challenge?
We are wanting to focus our attention on Paul’s letter to the Philippians. So firstly we need to gain an understanding of Paul’s relationship with the church in Philippi. How exactly do we do that?
In the first instance go to the Bible as your source. How do you go to the Bible as your source?
What do you mean by that Ian? Should we consult David’ Pawson’s overview book, Unlocking the Bible?
No I am not suggesting that. That would be turning to a secondary or even tertiary level resource. Stay with the Bible as your resource. Don’t use the commentaries or encyclopaedia in E-Sword. What do you think I am talking about? What would give you Bible input to the background to the letter to the Philippians?
The answer is the Book of Acts written by Luke. Acts gives you the background to the events which happened in the places where Paul met with the new believers who later formed the church in that local community. So if you want the background gleaned from the Bible itself related to Paul’s letter to the Philippians, use Luke’s second historical volume, The Acts of the Apostles. See what I had to say about this in Gem 1332. Of course Luke’s first historical volume is the Gospel of Luke.
The image above I have taken from Gem 1332 and inserted it into this Gem so you have it in front of you. In Gem 1332 I was encouraging you to investigate the text in the book of Acts in conjunction with what you find in the Letter to the Philippians. Here the process is the reverse. Read the relevant section from the Book of Acts before beginning to read Paul’s letter to the Philippians again. You can either find that for yourself in your own favourite version of the Bible or you can read what I have laid out for you below. This time I have given you the text in a free translation (The Living Bible by Kenneth Taylor) so you can read it in an easy to read version.
We went aboard a boat at Troas, and sailed straight across to Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis, and finally reached Philippi, a Roman colony just inside the Macedonian border, and stayed there several days.
On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank where we understood some people met for prayer; and we taught the Scriptures to some women who came. One of them was Lydia, a saleswoman from Thyatira, a merchant of purple cloth. She was already a worshiper of God and as she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart and she accepted all that Paul was saying. She was baptized along with all her household and asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am faithful to the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we did.
One day as we were going down to the place of prayer beside the river, we met a demon-possessed slave girl, who was a fortune-teller and earned much money for her masters. She followed along behind us shouting, “These men are servants of God, and they have come to tell you how to have your sins forgiven.”
This went on day after day until Paul, in great distress, turned and spoke to the demon within her. “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her,” he said. And instantly it left her. Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered; they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the judges at the marketplace. “These Jews are corrupting our city,” they shouted. “They are teaching the people to do things that are against the Roman laws.”
A mob was quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the judges ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden whips. Again and again the rods slashed down across their bared backs; and afterwards they were thrown into prison. The jailer was threatened with death if they escaped, so he took no chances, but put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet into the stocks.
Around midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to the Lord—and the other prisoners were listening—suddenly there was a great earthquake; the prison was shaken to its foundations, all the doors flew open—and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer wakened to see the prison doors wide open, and assuming the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword to kill himself.
But Paul yelled to him, “Don’t do it! We are all here!”
Trembling with fear, the jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down before Paul and Silas. He brought them out and begged them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, and your entire household.”
Then they told him and all his household the Good News from the Lord. That same hour he washed their stripes, and he and all his family were baptized. Then he brought them up into his house and set a meal before them. How he and his household rejoiced because all were now believers!
The next morning the judges sent police officers over to tell the jailer, “Let those men go!” So the jailer told Paul they were free to leave.
But Paul replied, “Oh no they don’t! They have publicly beaten us without trial and jailed us—and we are Roman citizens! So now they want us to leave secretly? Never! Let them come themselves and release us!”
The police officers reported to the judges, who feared for their lives when they heard Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. So they came to the jail and begged them to go, and brought them out and pled with them to leave the city. Paul and Silas then returned to the home of Lydia, where they met with the believers and preached to them once more before leaving town.Acts 16:11-40
Now they traveled through the cities of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.Acts 17:1
Most of you were grateful to have a week to read the whole of the letter to the Philippians a number of times. Write and tell me what that meant to you and what benefit you gained. Now I am giving you another week to cover the reading listed in this Gem. Philippians 1:1-4:23, Acts 16:11-40 and 17:1 as well as the whole of Gem 1332, for which I have given you the hotlink and copied the diagram to this Gem.
Enjoy your time in the Word of God.
We live in a world that’s information rich and wisdom poor. Instant access to information is not wisdom.A R Bernard
Don’t allow yourself the illusion that you can have a long-term relationship with God while cultivating quiet idolatries in your heart.John Piper
Don’t allow yourself the illusion that you can have a long-term relationship with God while neglecting to read the Word of God. You are only as fresh as your last Bible reading.Ian Vail