READ PHILIPPIANS ONE
Yesterday we looked at the Philippians believers’ – and our own – designation as “holy ones in Christ.” And today, as we move on to the next verse, I want us to keep this in view. The Christian identity of being made holy by our union with Christ is vitally important for the seemingly casual greeting that comes next.
In verse three, what does Paul “wish” for the believers?
What do you think is significant about this greeting?
Have you seen this language – this sentence and grammatical structure – elsewhere in Paul’s writing?
The two things Paul “wishes” for the Philippian Christians is grace and peace. I wish we had the time and space to dig into these two words in their original language (but we have only nine weeks to study these four chapters and if we stop on every interesting Greek word we would never get out of chapter one!), but they carry the weight of the Gospel.
What is grace? Write out your own definition. If you don’t know where to start, try using a dictionary or thesaurus.
What is peace? Write out your own definition.
These two words are so central to the hope we have as Christians. Grace is the free gift of God has given us in salvation. Is the extension of God’s hand in our direction when we did not earn it or deserve it. The grace of God paved the pathway before our feet into the Kingdom of God. And peace is our new position before God; though we were enemies of God – opposed to Him and His ways – Christ made peace between us and God. Grace is the path, and peace is our new position.
So it should not surprise us that these are the two words of blessing that Paul chooses to open his letter to the Philippian church! They are words that carry the rich inheritance of their faith and call to mind everything they have gained since they heard the good news of Jesus Christ.
Think back on yesterday’s study about the phrase, “in Christ.” How do you think these two words – grace and peace – are related to the concept we looked at yesterday?
Everything that we have as believers is because we are “in Christ!” We have absolutely nothing without being found in Christ. The commentator J.A. Motyer puts it this way:
“Throughout this letters, Paul uses ‘in Christ’ as a comprehensive description of every Christian. The phrase touches every aspect of what God has done for us, of what we now enjoy and what the prospect opening before us in time and eternity. … To be in Christ, then, is to possess what is often spoken of as full salvation: everything necessary to our past, present, future and eternal welfare has been secured for us by the action of God in Christ and is stored up in Christ for us to share and enjoy. But it is not only benefits and blessings that are in Christ; we are in him ourselves. ”
Christ did not just extend to us salvation apart from extending Himself. He does not give us salvation as if it is a ticket stub that gets us on the subway to heaven. No, He gives us His very Self. There was no salvation God could afford to us that was outside of His own body – and so He gave us salvation within His body, and extended grace to us by extending His body on a cross, dying our death, raising to life again that we might have salvation and have it IN CHRIST.
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God for giving you salvation – not apart from Himself, but in Christ. Thank Him for His sacrifice on the cross and powerful resurrection.