Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 39
As Believers, Always Rejoice – Part 2
Now hopefully after our last lesson on the review of the timelines, we’re ready to get into the letter of Philippians. Those of you who have been with us all the time know that in Paul’s letters so far we have come through Romans, the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, and now we’re ready for the next letter that Paul writes, and that is to the Philippian Church. As you can see I’ve drawn a make shift map here on the board because I think a lot of people are not always aware of geography. We have Antioch up in Syria, directly North of Jerusalem which was the church that Paul and Barnabas left from to go on their first missionary journey, but that was limited only to Asia Minor which is now Turkey, and then they came back to Antioch.
The next journey, Paul took Silas with him and they were spending some time Ephesus. And then when they got to Troas, which is probably the old ancient city of Troy as we know it, they had intended to go back up through Bithynia and then back to Antioch. But while at Troas they received a call from the Holy Spirit to go to places that the Gospel had never been preached. So let’s look at that in Acts chapter 16 for a moment. This is more or less introductory to the Book of Philippians.
“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, (central Turkey) and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7. After they were come to Mysia, they assayed (intended) to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. (fairly close to the sea coast) 9. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, (Northern Greece) and prayed (begged) him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us.”
Well I had almost the same thing happen in the state of Washington recently. I received a letter from a group of people who also said, “Please come out here and help us.” Well we did and my it was worth it. But anyway that’s another story. Here Paul gets the vision that they were to go across the Aegean Sea to Macedonia. Now verse 10.
“And after he had seen the vision, immediately (no argument, no debate, he knew the Lord was leading) we (Luke is writing this) endeavored to go into Macedonia assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.”
Now remember the Gospel had never gone onto the European Continent before this. Now verse 11.
“Therefore loosing (they were going by ship) from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12. And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: (it was a Roman colony which meant that they had certain amount of freedom) and we were in that city abiding certain days. 13. And on the sabbath (remember Paul is still fresh out of Judaism, so it would be the Saturday sabbath) we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.”
Now evidently Philippi did not have an official synagogue. There were probably not enough Jews in that part of northern Greece to warrant one. So evidently these were just a group of Jewish women who were having their devotions and so forth, because there’s nothing to indicate that it was a synagogue. Now verse 14. Oh my goodness this is one of my very favorite verses and you know it is.
“A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, (the most expensive of the clothing) of the city of Thyatira, (she was probably an up and coming business lady, and highly civilized) which worshipped God, (but was lost) heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.”
Notice Paul didn’t open Lydia’s heart, but rather the Lord opened it. And that Jewish lady who thought she had all she needed suddenly realized from Paul’s message that she was as lost as those pagans around her. I think I’ve shared this before, but I recently told a pastor out in North Carolina that I pray every morning for Lydia’s. I asked the Lord to give me people who hearts He has opened. Always remember we’re working for nothing unless the Spirit does the ground work.
Then as you continue on in this chapter you’ll find that Paul and Silas ended up getting beaten, and in trouble with the authorities, and thrown into the dungeon and that’s the story of the Philippian jailer and his salvation. So what you probably have here between Lydia and the Philippian jailer, and probably another few, are the very seed of the Philippian Church. So this is the congregation that is now grown over the years to which Paul is now addressing this little letter we are about to study. Now let’s come back and look at this letter to the Philippians which Paul wrote from Rome where he was in prison. There’s a lot of debate whether he had one imprisonment or two, and I don’t think it makes a lot of difference which is correct. We do know that he wrote all these prison epistles while in prison in Rome. That would be Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I and II Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, and then the Romans would behead him in death.
Also for background in order for you to get just a little picture of what the man is talking about, the Roman Empire had almost forgotten a lot of the mythological gods, and it had become a worship of “Caesar,” and in this case it’s “Nero.” So it had come to the point that whoever was the Caesar at that time, the people worshipped him. So this even made it harder for Paul while in prison. It wasn’t so much pagan gods and goddesses that he was up against, but this whole concept that Rome was the seat of world power, they were the seat of world religion, because the emperor was now god. This also was what caused so much persecution among the believers, because when they made their allegiance to Christ, then that meant that they had turned their back on the Roman power and this is what brought in the horrible persecution.
Also remember that while he’s in prison, he’s right next to the palace of Nero. He’s probably associated more closely with the praetorian guards which were right next to the palace. As I was thinking on these things, I couldn’t help but remember when we were in Desert Storm, and we were up against we thought the most fearsome troops that Iraq had, and what were they called? The Red Guards. And what were? They were Saddam Hussein’s personal guards. They were supposedly the toughest fighters in the Middle East. Well they didn’t turn out to be quite that good, but Paul is up against the praetorian guards who were probably battle hardened soldiers of the Roman Army who had come in as the elite to be the personal guards of the emperor Nero. Also remember that one of these soldiers was chained to the apostle Paul at all times. Early on Paul had the freedom of what we call house arrest, but by the time we get to his writing of these prison epistles I think they’ve got him more confined, and he is now constantly chained to these hardened Roman soldiers. And as we study Philippians I want you to see what an impact that man had even on those kind of men. So also use that as background as we begin our study.
“Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints…”
Not just the Church leaders or the hierarchy, but rather this letter is written to the lowliest member of the Body of Christ. You know I’m always using the analogy of Tyndale’s prayer as he was being burned at the stake was “God, open the Kings eyes, and put the Word of God in every plowboy’s hand in England.” How much education did those plowboys have? Not much, just enough to read some, but yet they were capable of handling the Word of God. So this Bible is not just for the highly educated or the theologians or the Clergy, but rather it’s for everybody regardless of our status. So back to verse 1 again..
“Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus…”
Notice Paul never writes to the unbeliever. It’s always to the saints, the believers in Christ Jesus, and that puts a load of responsibility on us to share these things with the unbelievers. See that’s God’s way of doing thing. The unbeliever can read this, and can’t get anything out of it. It’s just Greek to him, and I’ve had that happen over and over and over. God doesn’t expect them to get anything out of it because He’s got the saints to show and explain it. So Paul writes to the saints.
“…which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:”
Now the word bishop throws a curve at most people. When we hear that word we normally think of someone in the hierarchy, up there at headquarters. No, the word in the original Greek simply meant “the overseers.” Paul is just simply writing to some of the fellows who are more or less holding the group together. Now remember this isn’t a big congregation. Mostly we think today the Church as a great big plant with swimming pools, tennis courts, and basketball courts, and all the rest of the entertainment you can think of. But that’s not the New Testament Church at all. That Church was just a small group of believers, probably meeting in homes, and I think the true Church will come back to that before too long.
But whatever, Paul is writing to the bishops and deacons of this little congregation up there in Philippi. And of course which is in accord not only to the grammatical and the official way of addressing people, but Paul does this through all his letters.
“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,”
Now you’ve got to remember, what was Paul thinking of? I’m sure he thought of that very first experience up there in Philippi where the authorities had beaten him and Silas to a pulp, had thrown them down into the dungeon, and then God miraculously sent an earthquake. Do you remember all that? Now Paul was just as human as you and I, and I suppose every time he heard the word Philippi the first thing he thought of was that beating, that dungeon, the salvation of the jailer, of Lydia, and then years later he comes through Philippi and it appears that he was on his death bed. He was deathly sick, and almost no hope to recover, but the Philippian Church ministered to him, and he survived it, and he makes mention of it then on how close he was to death. So Paul had a lot of reasons for thinking pleasant thoughts of all that had taken place in Philippi. Now verse 5.
“For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day (when he first set foot in Europe and Philippi with those Gentile believers.) until now; 6. Being confident (now when Paul saysconfident he means confident. He means no doubt, no I wonders, this is it, I believe it with all my heart.) of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
Now here again you’ve got to be a Bible student. What is “the day of Christ?” That’s only a Pauline term, and you won’t find it any where else in Scripture. “The day of Christ” will be the day that the Rapture takes place and removes the Body of Christ from the earth. Everything beginning at Paul’s conversion experience and the building of the Body of Christ, which is also a term used only by him, is waiting for the day when the Rapture of Church will take place. The dead in Christ will be raised first Paul says in I Corinthians chapter 15 and I Thessalonians chapter 4, and then we believers who remain and are alive will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Now that’s “the day of Christ!” Remember everything written to the Church is written in that parenthetical unknown period of time. (Church Age) And it is leading up to “the day of Christ,” which will end the Church Age.
Another term used in Isaiah chapter 2, and verse 12 is “the day of the LORD,” Let’s look at that Scripture for a moment. Now this is back in the prophecy end again, and I would remind you that everything written to Israel is prophecy, it’s within a time frame. And the term day of the LORD is associated with this same prophecy and Christ’s Second Coming. Now here it is.
“For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:”
Can you see, that’s not Grace. That’s judgment, and judgment is coming upon the proud and the high and lofty, and all the verses that follow verse 12, and none of that is language for believers, but rather for unbelievers. And that’s going to be the day of judgment, the day of the Lord. Always remember that “the day of Christ” is not a day of judgment. It’s a day of suddenly being out of here for us Church Age believers.
Now let’s go back to Revelation and look at this day of the Lord, and coming judgment. Revelation of course is the picture of the whole 7 year period of Tribulation, and the accompanying Second Coming of Christ, which is all part of that day of the Lord, or the day of Jehovah, and it’s finally going to culminate then with chapter 19.
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.”
Well then you come all the way down through that chapter and come to verse 16.
“And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
And so that is the day of Jehovah, the day of judgment that is coming on the earth. But you see the Body of Christ never has that kind of language. The Church is never warned to look for the sun being turned into blood, and all these cataclysmic things that will happen. We’re not warned that these things are associated with what Paul calls “the day of Christ,” but they are associated with the day of the Lord.
Now for a moment let’s look at Paul’s term, “the day of Jesus Christ.” and let’s begin in I Corinthians chapter 1, and I just want you to see how often Paul uses this term. And remember no other writer does. The prophets never refers to the day of Christ, the four gospels don’t refer to the day of Christ, but only Paul, and that again should tell us something. This first verse we’re going to look at is almost a carbon copy of the verse we just read in Philippians, that he was confident that the Lord would keep these Philippians until the day of Christ. Now look what he writes to the Corinthians and remember they weren’t as noble as the Philippians. See the Philippians were a good bunch of people, I mean they were, I think, Paul’s pride and joy. The Corinthians to Paul, I think, were kind of a disappointment, they were a drag. They were carnal, and had a lot of divisions and problems where the Philippians had none of that. But Paul still writes the same things even to the Corinthians, and look what he says.
I Corinthians 1:8
“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless (those Corinthians? Yeah that’s what the Book says) in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Isn’t that something? Now remember Paul expected the Rapture to take place in his lifetime, but even to these carnal Corinthians, he said, “If the Lord should come you’re going to meet Him, so be ready.” Now there’s another one in chapter 5:5 and this is even more graphic. Now this isn’t license, this isn’t telling the believer to go ahead and do whatever you want to and you don’t have to worry. No way, because we’re still going to all appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of what we’ve done in our bodies for our reward. Here Paul is dealing with the immorality in the Corinthian Church.
I Corinthians 5:5
“To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, (physical death) that the spirit may be saved (when?) in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ,”
Now there’s the Rapture of the Church, “the day of Christ!” So even these immoral Corinthians, had the Lord come, they would have still been saved. Now he would have to deal with that sin at the loss of rewards because of it, but his sin was totally forgiven and taken care of, and I know many can’t understand how God can forgive such, but if God could kick out atrue believer then it wouldn’t be Grace, and Romans 8:39 would be a lie. Now in II Corinthians 1:14 we have the next one.
II Corinthians 1:14
“As also ye have acknowledged us to part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
All Paul was looking for was the time when this great day of Christ would become a reality. Now the next one is in Philippians 1:10
“That ye may approve things that are excellent; (different) that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;”
The next one is in chapter 2, verse 16, and isn’t it amazing that only Paul was given by inspiration this wonderful term. Have you ever wondered why? Because only Paul writes about the Body of Christ. Well I see the program is ending to quickly for me, so we’ll pick this verse up in the next lesson.