Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favour of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.Phil 1:3-11
Some readers have written in with questions on the first two verses. So I will pick up on those first.
- Why do some translations have saints while others have holy, holy ones, God’s holy people?
- How can God call the Corinthians holy, saints?
- What’s the deeper meaning of Grace and Peace? These are big words, aren’t they Ian?
Well done, I wondered if anyone would bring up these two points. These three questions are focused on what I referred to in the previous Gem when I wrote: There are still some other elements of the text that are worthy of comment but I won’t address them unless you Gem readers raise the issues behind them.
If you are puzzled about the deeper meaning of words, use the <Compare> function in E-Sword. I suspect one of you may have done that already because you listed succinctly the variations on “holy” and “saints”. But I included the comment on E-Sword for the benefit of you others. The easiest way for me to cover these three questions briefly is to refer you to Bible Gem 136 where I handled these queries about saints, grace and peace all in the same Gem. The meaning of “holy” and “saints” I handled more fully.
Actually the meaning of Grace and Peace I only skimmed the surface of in Gem 136. Grace [charis] was the standard greeting in New Testament times in the Greek world. Meaning I wish you grace, the unmerited favour or blessings of the gods. Paul’s intention when using the term is to attach to it all of the depth of meaning of the New Testament sense of what the word means. Peace on the other hand is from the Hebrew term [shalom] which means far more than just an absence of strife. Paul combines the richness of the Hebrew greeting shalom with the richness of the Greek word charis to form a new, deeper Christian combo of grace and peace. My suggestion at this point is that you go to the ISBE in E-Sword (or use any other reputable Online Bible search programme) and look up these words for yourself. I am pointing you to the level of research you will find in the ISBE (2 – 5 pages rather than the 18 plus pages you would find in Kittel). There is always more.
Paul always begins his letters with From: and then To: That makes so much more sense in a letter than adding the From at the end of the letter. That is where we all look if we get a letter and we don’t know who it is from. You younger readers are thinking – what’s a letter? Perhaps that is why emails have the To: From: CC: etc at the top.
Following the items above Paul then often includes a section of thanks and praise for the recipients; but not always. I have created a table for you covering Paul’s letters to the churches. You can add for yourself Paul’s personal letters to individual people. If you do, you will find some interesting things. I point you in that direction to tempt you to extend the search for yourself.
|From / To||GRACE AND PEACE||PERSONAL FEELINGS|
|Rom 1:1||Rom 1:7||Rom 1:8-11|
|1 Cor 1:1||1 Cor 1:2||1 Cor 1:4, 7|
|2 Cor 1:1||2 Cor 1:2||Not present|
|Gal 1:1||Gal 1:3||Not present|
|Eph 1:1||Eph 1:2||Not present ; 1:3-14 is theological|
|Phil 1:1||Phil 1:2||Phil 1:3-11|
|Col 1:1||Col 1:2||Col 1:3-11|
|1 Thess 1:1||1 Thess 1:1||1 Thess 1:2-4|
|2 Thess 1:1||2 Thess 1:2||2 Thess 1:3-4|
Now it is your turn to go over Philippian 1:3-11 which I gave you in the previous Gem and have given again above.
- Analyse it with a fine toothed comb.
- Become a detective and screen the scene for each minute detail.
List your reader questions to determine what important elements in the text we should investigate. Read this section filled with Paul’s personal comments to the Philippian saints and take note of the things which strike you as important or about which you want to know more. I will begin to cover the main points in the next Gem.
Here are some bumper sticker quotes from the 1970’s:
Please be patient with me; God isn’t finished with me yet.Anon
Christians aren’t perfect just forgiven.Anon
God is still working on me to make me fit for heaven.Anon
I am a work in progress, not yet perfected.Anon