B550 - Philippians

Introduction

Hope. Its a simple word which has, from the very beginning, been a part of the Christian vocabulary. Hope is essential for the Christian, as for any and every person. Paul said, on one occasion, "if it is in this life alone that we have hope, we are of all people the most to be pitied".

In considering the state of the Church today, one must come to the conclusion that there is an overwhelming sense of hopelessness among many Church members. Baptisms are on the decline; the mainline churches are watching their members drop out in droves; and there seems a plethora of journal articles which are written specifically to encourage the church to adopt new methods to re-attract its wayward members. What can be done for the faithful Church member, the reflective church member, lay and clergy, who watch this decline with broken and heavy hearts?

I would like to suggest that, as has always been the case, there is comfort to be found in the Scriptures of the Church. In particular, the letter of Paul to the Philippians can be and is a word of hope amidst the most testing of circumstances. The purpose of this short work, then, is to examine this excellent epistle so that we can hear afresh its wonderful words of comfort and hope.

Some may think it odd that I do not make reference to other commentaries and studies. In my experience, too many works designed for the general public are often filled with extraneous material, designed to impress rather than express the truth of the text. With that in mind I have intentionally left aside the very helpful and indeed valuable comments of my colleagues in the field. Instead, I have attempted to listen to the text alone. Those interested in questions not covered herein are happily directed to those other worr One final note in regards to what lies ahead. The translation that follows is partially my own (where I felt the necessary emphasis was lacking in other translations) and the NRSV.

The hope which is available to the Christian is hope which is irrepressible and powerful. The letter to the Philippians is filled with hope and hopefulness, and thus will serve as an excellent source for a discussion of the hope which is available to the believer in Christ.

Before we can begin our exposition of the text, it will be very helpful for us to place the epistle in the framework of Paul's life. In this way we will be able to understand what he says and why he says it.

Paul evidently established the Church at Philippi on his second missionary journey (around the year 49 A.D.). The church at Philippi would prove to be a constant source of support and encouragement to the apostle as he continued his missionary work. Not only did they provide him financial support (Phil 4:16, 2 Cor 11:9, Phil 4:10), they also sent him an assistant (Phil 2:25) and continuously prayed for his welfare and work. Moreover, Paul established the Church at Philippi as the first Christian congregation on European soil. In sum, then, this church was a supportive, concerned, and faithful congregation- the kind of Church anyone would be pleased to serve.

Chapter 1

1 "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus; to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi along with the elders and deacons":""

Hope arises, first of all, when we realize that we are not alone in the Christian life or struggle for truth. Along the way God sends us folk who will help us, encourage us, and support us. We must then look around to those people in our lives who have been given us by God. In that way we will remember His goodness to us and

2 "Grace to you all and peace from God our father and from the Lord Jesus Christ".

Hope comes when we recognize that God is the source of peace. We need fear nothing because God has already given us peace and strength through Christ.

3 "I give thanks to my God every time I think of you, 4 always, in all my prayers for you, I pray for you with joy",

Hope also arises when those placed in our lives by God are considered to be a blessing and a help rather than a bane or an irritant. Paul does not complain about them to God, he thanks God for them. Certainly they were at times unfaithful, and perhaps even inconsiderate (as we all are); yet Paul does not focus on them, but on God! Hopelessness and despair are the only fruits borne of the tree of negativity.

5 "for your participation in the spread of the Gospel, from the very beginning until this very moment".

When people are prayed for, instead of being prayed against, then it is much more likely that they will participate in the life of faith. And they will participate in the spread of the Gospel- they will not leave it to someone else!

6 "being extraordinarily confident of this very thing: that the one who started this good work among you will carry it out until the "Day of Jesus Christ".

The result of this approach is an overwhelming sense of confidence, not in people, or self, but in God. And it is this sense of confidence, this awareness of God, which is the foundation and basis of ho pe itself. per

7 "And I am certain that it is right that I think this way of you, because I know that you hold me dear; in my defense of the Gospel as a prisoner you remain my fellows in the grace of God",

It is indeed a wonderful thing to recognize that God cares for us, not by Himself alone, but along with other folks. If we can hear this aright, we can hear that God is so overwhelmingly kind to us that he gives us partners along the way who will pray for us and support us; as we them.

8 "for God bears me witness, that I am confident of your standing as participants in the mercy extended by Christ".

We often hear folks say that "we can't be sure of our own salvation, much less anyone else's". Paul here denies such a notion and expresses his confidence in their standing with God. How much more positive the lives of our comrades in the faith would be if we would tell them that we see the marks of grace in them! How much hope could be engendered if we would tell others we see Christ active in their lives!!!

9 "And this is what I pray, that your love may increase more and more and overflow into knowledge and insight into all things. 10 So that you can differentiate between the sincere (and insincere) and so that you become blameless in the "Day of Christ."

So, seeing the marks of grace in their lives, Paul notes that he continues to pray that they may keep on the path and love more and learn more, and that they will grow in sincerity and in their ability to distinguish from sincere and insincere actions in their own lives.

11 "Having been fill ed with the fruit of rist so that God is praised and glorified."

The result of their growth will ultimately be the praise of God. That is the very purpose of growth. When God's people grow, he is praised as the "gardener" who knows the appropriate way to help his garden flourish. Everything in the believer's life should be done "Ad gloriam Dei" (to the glory of God). This being done, the life of the believer will blossom in fruitfulness. So what are these fruits of the Spirit? Galatians 6 tells us (to which the reader is referred): love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, meekness and self control.

12 "But, brothers, you know my desire that the things that happen to me serve to further the cause of the Gospel. 13 That in spite of my chains Christ is manifested to everyone in the Praetorium and to everyone else around me,"

The hope which Paul expresses here is very significant. He says this same thing in a number of ways in different places, but the main idea is that he trusts God to such a degree that no matter what happens to him personally, the Gospel will continue on its course. This may be the very idea which the author of Acts has in mind when he maintains, at the end of his book, that the Gospel was preached by Paul and continued to spread "unhindered". This should be the goal of every believer; "no matter what happens to me, I will not be a hindrance to the good news".

14 "and the rest of the Christian brothers, having been emboldened by my chains, are fearless in speaking the "Word."

And so it is- when one becomes an example of hoping faithfulness, others will observe it and adopt that lifestyle themselves. They will become bold in their witness and fearless of the conseq uences; which they wil

15 "But some preach Christ because of envy and jealousy, and some from positive motives. 16 The one from love knowing that I am steadfast in the defense of the Gospel, 17 But the others preach Christ out of a sense of envy. Not because they love Christ but because they want to increase my sorrow in imprisonment. 18 So what? Only this matters; that Christ is preached. Whether from envy or love- and in that I rejoice."

Even the most wonderful things can be and are cheapened by the wiles of the envious and jealous. How often it has happened that some adopt Christ because it is popular and they want to be in the "in-crowd". How many crusades and revivals are characterized not by sincere conversion but instead by a desire to walk down the aisle with the mob and shake the famous evangelist's hand. How many children and young people have walked an aisle because their friends have- yet they have no faith.

But these things do not discourage Paul. Christ is Preached! The seed is planted, and the Gospel is heard. For this Paul is profoundly grateful.

19 "For I know that this will result in my deliverance through the Spirit of Jesus Christ because you are constant in your prayers for me."

You see that Paul's hope is bolstered by the knowledge that others are praying for him. Perhaps hope in the Christian community today would increase if prayer for others would increase. Its very easy to talk about being spiritual, listen to pop Christian music, and go to the preacher's conferences; its very hard to pray; but the latter is far more significant than the former.

20 I have a hopeful and anticipatory expectation that I will never be ashamed (of Christ), but that I will always be able to glorify Christ in my life- whether I am alive or dead."

This verse contains the central concept of the letter. Paul anticipates what he will shortly spell out in full. He has such confidence and hopefulness in the God that he serves that he is firm in his conviction that he will not ever be ashamed of the good news. Neither life nor death can dissuade him from this hope. Instead, the opposite is the case; he will magnify Christ no matter what. This is a stark contrast to the disposition of hopelessness found among many of the disciples of Christ today.

For Paul, nothing could evoke an attitude of hopelessness. Why? How could Paul maintain his confidence, his trust, his hope in God? Verse 21 and the remainder of the letter will spell out this ground and essence of confidence and hope.

21 "For to me, life is a gift of Christ, and death is not fearsome."

The primary reason that Paul has such hope is because whether he is alive, or passed from this life to the next, he sees himself as being in the hands of Christ. Life is Christ's gift and death is simply a passing from this life to full life with Christ. Hope, for Paul, is bound to this central concept: he belongs to Christ in life or death. He is secure in the grace of God, and nothing that happens to him can change this wonderful fact. Even if he dies, he need not fear- thus his hope is founded upon the rock of confidence in God and therefore cannot be shaken.

22 "But if I am to continue to live in the flesh, then fruitful work will continue: which one I desire I do not know. 23 I remain caught between the two, what I would like is to depart and be with Christ -- that would be better for me 24 but, on the other hand, to remain in the flesh would be better for you."

Alive -- to continue the work God has begun in him; or dead- forever more alive in the presence of Christ. Which one he wants the most remains uncertain for Paul. Either way, he knows that God is with him and therefore his hope remains constant.

25 "No matter what happens, I am confident, and I know that I will remain and continue steadfast with you as you progress in your faith and joy."

No matter what, he will remain their constant companion in the faith journey.

26 "So that you and I together can boast because of Christ Jesus when I come to you again."

As always, Christ is the center of the life of Paul. Because he shares this in common with the Philippians, they have a common ground for rejoicing and hope. Again, you see, Paul is reminding them and us that we are not alone!

27 "Behave as citizens of the Gospel of Christ. so that whether I come and see you or simply hear of your activities, I will know that you are remaining steadfast in the Spirit as one body living out the Gospel faith."

Seeing that you do not stand alone, make sure that you do not behave in such a manner that those standing with you will be pulled down if you should fall. Remain steadfast no matter what.

28 "and do not be fearful at all because of our enemies; their behavior is simply evidence of their impending destruction, while your behavior is evidence of your salvation, (and this a gift of God)."

Or, as Jesus said, "you know a tree by its fruit".

29 For it has been granted to you to have the privilege not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for Him, 30 since you and I share the same suffering."

Or, as the famous three Musketeers might say, "one for all and all for one". The Christian community is above all else a fellowship and communion of the saints. When one suffers all suffer; and when one rejoices all have cause for joy. Unfortunately this wonderful sense of solidarity is lost to many of our comrades. If they could find their way back to it, then hope would easily be restored to us all, together.

Chapter 2

1 "If there is any comfort in Christ, if there is any consolation from love, if there is any fellowship with the Spirit, if there is any sense of compassion,"

Of course Paul is stating a fact rather than asking a question here. There is comfort in Christ and compassion among them. Because this is so, he can ask something of them:

2 "fill up my joy by being unified in love and purpose,"

What he asks is that they have a unity of mind and purpose that has its basis in love. If Christian folk love one another then they can overlook any differences which may exist between them. The world would then take note of this love and be attracted to the Gospel instead of being repelled by the multi-faced bickering it often sees.

3 "not acting out of envy, nor out of vanity; rather acting out of a humble respect for one another consider others as more important than yourselves."

This is easier said than done- but hope can exist only where there is humility. Where one exalts himself above another there can only be discord; and discord breeds hopeles sness; and hopelessnesleads to abandonment of the principles of the faith.

4 "And do not concern yourself simply with your own affairs, but be concerned about others as well."

Self centeredness is the bane of spirituality.

5 "Your thoughts must become like the thoughts of Christ Jesus,"

But how? Is it possible for us to think the way Jesus thought? Is this, in fact, what Paul is saying? In this regard he is: that Christian folk adopt an attitude of humility which reflects the humility offered by the lifestyle of Christ. To illustrate his point, Paul quotes a well known early hymn which they had no doubt sung many times. It follows in its entirety:

6 "Who, being in the form of God did not deem equality with God something to be clung to,

7 but instead humbled himself and took the form of a slave, the likeness of humanity; and lived a human life 8 humbling himself and rendering obedience that resulted in death, and this the horrid death on the cross. 9 Because of this obedience God glorified him and gave him a name superior to every name, 10 so that when Jesus name is mentioned every earthly, heavenly, and subterranean knee should bow, 11 and every tongue confess that "Jesus Christ is Lord" to the glory of God the father."

This hymn is an excellent example of complete devotion to God because of Christ. When one realizes that everything is heaven and hell is subject to Christ then one truly does have nothing to fear.

12 ends, just as you are always obedient, not only when I am with you but also when I am absent; struggle to put into practice your salvation (with reverence and respect):"

Because, you see, Christ is in complete control, his followers are here encouraged to put into practice a lifestyle which is consistent with their relationship to him. Here they are encouraged not to bring about their own salvation, but to put into practice the gift they have received, with a respectful and reverential attitude. Why? The following verse tells us the reason:

13 "For God is the one who is at work in you to bring about an attitude which is consistent with His good will."

God is the one who brings about this internal change of attitude. From self service to God service; this is God's work. He implants in our hearts the desire to serve Him. It is, therefore, His work. For this reason hope is kindled in the heart of the believer: If it is God's work (and it is) then I have absolutely nothing to worry about. Absolutely NOTHING! I am therefore free to serve Him with no concern with the outcome of that service.

14 "Do everything you do without grumbling and mumbling,"

This response can only come into practice when we truly believe that God is in charge. Since it is his work, we can do our part without complaining. In this way, and only in this way, will the world see that what the Gospel declares is the truth. As verse 15 will show:

15 "so that you may become blameless and without stain, children of God, blameless in the very midst of a hardened and confused generation; in which you shine as lights in the world."

It is only when the Church acts like the Church, and not like a club tha t it will be a light iworld.

16 "hold fast to the word of life, so that we can boast of you in the "Day of Christ", knowing that it was not in vain that I worked or ran."

The translation of this verse is more "ad sensum" than literal. The sense which Paul is communicating here is that he wants them to hold on and continue in the faith; and on the day of Christ this will serve as evidence that he had not wasted his life in the effort of evangelism.

Hope, for Paul, is bound up with human responsiveness and continuation with the Gospel. He hopes in God and in his children in the faith. This paradox is typically Pauline! He lived in a world of paradoxes!

17 "But, even if I am offered as a sacrifice on the altar of service for your faith, I rejoice for myself and for you. 18 Likewise you must also rejoice with me."

Yet, the paradox continues, no matter what happens he will rejoice. And he expects that they will as well.

19 "Now I hope through the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you very soon, so that I may be informed of your activities."

Not because he wants to spy on them; rather he is concerned to hear how they are doing.

20 "For I have no one equal to him in his genuine concern for your welfare. 21 For all others seek their own best interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But Timothy has been well tried, as you know. He was like a son to me as his father and he has served with me in the work of the gospel.

Paul is confident that Timothy is as dear to him as he is to Timothy. For this reason he is able to entrust him with the important task of seeing to the welfare of the Philippians. Again, Paul reminds his readers that he is not alone in his work. None of us are if we will but look around and see the "great cloud of witnesses" that surround us as we do our work.

23 "I plan to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; 24 and I trust the Lord that I will also come soon."

When Paul is certain of his fate, whatever it may be, he would send Timothy to them to inform them. Still he felt confident that he would be able to make the journey to them himself in due course. Regrettably, Paul was executed shortly after his letter was written. Thus he was unable to fulfill his desire to see them again.

25 "Yet I think it essential to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, and also your servant and minister to my need; 26 for he is desirous to see all of you, and has been depressed because you heard that he was sick. 27 He was, truly, so sick that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have sorrow on top of sorrow. 28 Thus I am the more eager to send him: in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be released from my anxiety. 29 Welcome him then in the Lord joyfully, and honor people like him, 30 because he came close to death in his work for Christ by risking his life to make up for the help you could not render me."

In these concluding verses of the second chapter, Paul mentions another co-worker of his. This co-worker was most likely the Pastor of the Philippian community who had been sent to Rome by the Church to minister to Paul. The significance of this fellow lay in his self sacrificing service to Paul on behalf of his fellow Christians. He nearly died in his efforts; and this is one of the greatest acts of selflessness. For any number of reasons Paul commends this faithful man to his church family; but the overriding reason is his love as exemplified in his kindness.

Once more Paul reminds them, and us, that no one is alone in living for Christ or working for Him. Even in the most dire of circumstances God will send us co-workers who share our loads, and indeed lighten them considerably. Thank God! When Jesus told his disciples that his "burden is light" he meant that his followers would have burdens, but not burdens that would bury them. To this end God sends us friends. Epaphroditus was such a gift from God for Paul.

Chapter 3

1 "Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not tiresome to me, and it is essential to you".

Once more Paul reminds his friends at Philippi that it is absolutely essential for their spiritual well being that they continue to have dispositions that rejoice in God. Though he has said this a number of times in writing as well as in person, he maintains that such a procedure is to their advantage. This is so because the Christian life must always look above instead of around. Christians must constantly remind themselves that circumstances may change- but God does not ; and neither does his

2 "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil doers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, the spiritual people who serve God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh."

Accordingly, Paul wants to strongly reinforce in their minds that they must beware of those opponents of his who would mislead them into thinking that salvation is possible outside of the gift of grace.

4 "Though I, too, have reason to boast in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to boast in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, an Israelite, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrew parents; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 a zealous persecutor of the church; blameless in righteousness under the law."

So Paul proceeds to describe his pedigree: if salvation can be gained by ones heritage, then he surely could make such a claim. Yet, he argues, such heritage does not mean that one is right with God. This is great cause for hope: for if we need not be from the best families; and if we need not be the best or the brightest, then there is surely hope for us as well. For salvation does not depend on us, but on God. It is His gift and not our "just desserts".

7 "Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith".

Because salvation is a gift, Paul sets aside everything in order to live his life in light of that gift. In fact, his heritage takes a back seat to his new inheritance. He has hope that God will, in spite of his past, make use of him in the present and in the future will allow him to be with Christ.

10 "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."

To forget the past and move into the future is one of the most significant things that any person can do. How easy it is to live in the past; to dwell on its accomplishments and its failures. But living in the past makes it impossible to live in the present. For this reason alone Paul shares the fact that he has abandoned the past and lives only for the future. Paul has not forgotten the lessons of the past, but he ha move ahead and not be chained to the past.

Perhaps this is why Paul is the apostle of hope. For hope to come alive, the past must be learned from and then left behind. (N.B., from this point on, the translation followed is the New Revised Standard Version).

15 "Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind; and if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you. 16 Only let us hold fast to what we have attained."

Paul here recapitulates what he has maintained already; learn from the past and let it go- do not be bound to it or chained by it. But how? This, as we all know, is much easier said than done. Paul will now tell us how.

17 "Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18 For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19 Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21 He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself."

How can we leave the past behind? By focusing our attention on our behavior in the present and our life with Christ in the future; by denying ourselves and taking up our c ross and following Himorgiving hands and living out the gratitude that fills our hearts. Hope is borne of such behavior and such an outlook. But despair is borne of dwelling in the past.

Chapter 4

1 "Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved."

Or, in other words, remain faithful and realize that you are part of a wonderful community of love, joy and peace. Do not abandon this community for if you do, you will be abandoning love, joy and peace. Remain filled with the confident hope which comes from active participation in the community of faith; and let no one turn you aside from this way of life.

2 "I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life."

And, should a disruption arise in the community, then do your best to settle it Remind the combatants that they belong to one another, and together to Christ. Remind them of their former friendship and struggle for the faith, and help them to realize what they are risking by fighting over petty issues (for all issues are petty when compared to the glory of Christ). Keep hope alive, especially in interpersonal relationships.

4 "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you."

What remarkable encouragement is contained in these few verses! don't worry, don't fear, don't despair -- God is in control. His peace will be your constant companion. He will watch over you and He will be with you. What other need do you have? Keep your mind on the positive and it will not be poisoned by the negative. In sum, keep your gaze steadily fixed on your Lord, and you will have nothing to worry about. Oh, to be sure, you will have troubles and difficulties; but you will not need to worry about any of them.

10 "I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. 11 Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being wf having plenty and of being in need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress."

This passage likewise contains some remarkable ideas. Paul, like all of us, was in need of support and encouragement, and he was not afraid to say so. Likewise we must admit our need of one another. There are a lot of folks who believe themselves to be independent; but they are not. All of us are interdependent. We need each other! We cannot live without one another! Therefore we must do our best to live with one another and support one another in the love of God.

15 "You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. f1 16 For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account. 18 I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

Paul is not here arguing for what can best be called a theology of reciprocity. Instead, he is suggesting that helping others is its own reward; and real charity desires nothing but the opportunity to be a blessing. It gives without expecting any return. Yet a simple truth of life is that we will be treated by others the way we treat others. Paulteful to God for them. All of us have been aided on the way, and owe it to God to aid others on their way; the same way that Paul was aided, and thereafter aided others.

20 "To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The friends who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of the emperor's household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."

Paul concludes his letter with a prayer for the Philippians; and a greeting from the brothers and sisters. Thus, the letter closes the same way that it opens; with the recognition that God is worthy of adoration and because He loves us He has made us part of a community of disciples who love Him as we do. "Stand fast therefore, in the faith in which you were called".

ASSIGNMENT: Write a 5 page essay on the meaning and message of the letter to the Philippians. Use any resource you have available to yourself.