This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and deacons.
Philippians 1:1-2 NLT
The apostle Paul is absolutely clear that it is not what you know but who you know that really matters in life. And so he begins this warm and encouraging letter by focussing on Jesus. He is only writing to the church in Philippi because of his relationship with Jesus, and he identifies the fact that, as a community, they belong to Jesus.
So far as Paul was concerned everything turns on knowing the Lord Jesus Christ personallyPaul describes his own relationship with Jesus as being that of a slave. Philippi was a busy Roman colony and there would have been huge numbers of slaves, probably about 20 per cent of the population.
Everyone would have understood what Paul was saying. Slaves were owned by their master who totally controlled their lives to the extent that they didn’t even possess their own bodies. They had no ancestors, no name, and could have no possessions. On the face of it that all sounds pretty grim, but Paul’s discovery was that to be a slave of the best master of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, was the most joyful and liberated way of life. He was delighted to be entirely controlled by Christ’s agenda.
Paul first visited Philippi on his second missionary journey (Acts 16.11-40) and there he met Lydia who became the first Christian convert in Europe. Lydia opened her home to Paul and that’s where the first church in the city was established. He describes the Christian community there as being God’s holy people who belong to Christ Jesus. In effect he was affirming the fact that they were also the slaves of Christ. They had deliberately chosen to commit themselves to the Lord and to be a holy people.
Every day we are all under pressure from many directions, just like the Philippians. And the same is true for us as it was for them – it’s not what we know, but who we know that counts. Knowing Jesus as our Saviour and Lord is everything.
Do you consider yourself to be a slave of Christ?
Loving God, thank you for the freedom and joy that you give to those who commit themselves to you as Lord. Amen