Philippians 1:3-11 – The Body Opening

(August 24, 2017) 11:25 AM Next week in Greek 3 we’re in Phil. 1:3-11.

Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ μνείᾳ ὑμῶν, πάντοτε ἐν πάσῃ δεήσει μου ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν, μετὰ χαρᾶς τὴν δέησιν ποιούμενος, ἐπὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ἡμέρας ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν, πεποιθὼς αὐτὸ τοῦτο, ὅτι ὁ ἐναρξάμενος ἐν ὑμῖν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἐπιτελέσει ἄχρι ἡμέρας Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ· Καθώς ἐστιν δίκαιον ἐμοὶ τοῦτο φρονεῖν ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν διὰ τὸ ἔχειν με ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμᾶς, ἔν τε τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀπολογίᾳ καὶ βεβαιώσει τοῦ εὐαγγελίου συγκοινωνούς μου τῆς χάριτος πάντας ὑμᾶς ὄντας.

μάρτυς γάρ μου ὁ θεὸς ὡς ἐπιποθῶ πάντας ὑμᾶς ἐν σπλάγχνοις Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ.

Καὶ τοῦτο προσεύχομαι, ἵνα ἡ ἀγάπη ὑμῶν ἔτι μᾶλλον καὶ μᾶλλον περισσεύῃ ἐν ἐπιγνώσει καὶ πάσῃ αἰσθήσει, εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τὰ διαφέροντα, ἵνα ἦτε εἰλικρινεῖς καὶ ἀπρόσκοποι εἰς ἡμέραν Χριστοῦ, πεπληρωμένοι καρπὸν δικαιοσύνης τὸν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς δόξαν καὶ ἔπαινον θεοῦ.

What amazing words. This section of the letter comprises the body opening. To listen to these verses being read aloud, gohere and scroll down to “Philippians Audio.” Perhaps I could summarize the linguistic macrostructure of these verses as follows:

I joyfully thank God because of the way you have helped me in the work of the Gospel from the first day until now, and I pray that God will enable you to know how to love one another appropriately and be able to choose what is best in life.

For Paul, there was no greater joy in the world than helping someone to come, as he puts it elsewhere, “from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God.” We have much to learn in this passage about courage and taking initiative in evangelism. When I was in seminary, evangelism was often reduced to methods. Today there is (thankfully) much less emphasis on technique and a lot more emphasis on relationship-building. Evangelism is now recognized as being far too important to leave to the professionals. The Gospel is truly the world’s greatest love story. It’s a story that’s not only written and told about, but seen. This week I’ll be re-immersing myself in these verses. I’m hoping it will be a time to listen to the text, to get my bearings, and to again draw near to God. Folks, the opportunities for us to do this are pretty common. They’re before us every day. Being alone with God forces us to confront ourselves. Is the Gospel really my life’s priority? Am I really able to discern what’s of greatest importance as a Christian? Am I truly a loving partner with others in the kingdom work Jesus is doing all over this planet? This is the message of Phil. 1:3-11, and it’s one well worth remembering.