This is not inspired Scripture. It is a condensed (and sometimes amplified) paraphrase of Paul’s biblical letter to the Philippians. It is a humble attempt to stimulate a fresh discovery of the intriguing personality and plan of the God who created us to enjoy Him. As you read, let your imagination hear the excitement in His voice as He explains what He has in mind for you.
This letter is a message to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. We, Paul and Timothy, have the privilege of serving Them by conveying to you Their incredible goodness and peace..
You are so precious to me and as I recall how fully you partnered with us in those early days in Philippi I can see how the One who began the work in you is faithfully completing what He started. And I pray that your love for Him and each other will be richer, fuller, and deeper as Jesus Himself empowers you. As that happens, your lives will be increasingly authentic and honoring to Him right up to the Day we join Him in Glory.
Don’t be troubled by my imprisonment, it’s only widening the reach of this marvelous Message! Prison guards and a steady stream of visitors are hearing the good news daily. Sure, some people are jealous of how God is using me so they try to outdo me in “preaching the Gospel.” No matter. At least the news is getting out far and wide –and I’m good with that!
My goal in life is to be a living example of how Christ can live through us no matter the circumstances. If I end up dying because of the Message –all the better! Through your prayers and the encouragement of Jesus in my spirit I find myself thoroughly content. And, I fully expect that He’s not finished with me here on earth. I ‘m quite sure we’ll see each other and I’ll get to help you grow in joyful trust.
No matter what happens to me I look forward to hearing great reports of how well you’re working together in spreading the Message. Don’t be distracted by those who oppose you –thank God that you, like me, are counted worthy not only to know the Truth but to suffer for Jesus as we engage in this battle for precious souls.
Again I say, it is vital that you work together in harmony with each other. Christ lives in you to encourage this kind of compassion. His Spirit interacts with you to stimulate deep partnership with others who enjoy His witness in their spirits. With that organic unity as a reality you won’t be motivated by pride or jealousy. Instead you’ll genuinely care more about other’s well-being than your own. You’ll value their point-of-view!
Christ has certainly shown us how this works! He, who was God by nature
- didn’t cling to all the privileges that go along with being God
- gladly took on the nature of a low slave
- reduced Himself to becoming a mortal human
- devoted Himself to obeying Another even to the point of dying
- died a humiliating death as a criminal
To show that this is the attitude and lifestyle God approves, He rewarded Christ with the highest honors possible. Since Jesus didn’t live for Himself, someday every human who has ever lived will recognize Him for who He is and give Him the honor He deserves.
You can do this! Because God is working inside you -giving you the desire and the opportunities to live out His great salvation (He’s in the process of saving you from your old self, you know).
Look at you! As your lives demonstrate more wholesomeness and less complaining you stand out like bright lights to show the way in a dark, diseased world. You’ve got the very life-giving words in your hands! Even if it costs me everything I’m indescribably happy to have been able to introduce you to this Message –and you should be even happier!
I do hope to send Timothy to you soon. That way he can give me a first-hand report about your progress. He’s a perfect example of the attitude I’ve been writing about. I don’t know anyone more interested in others. It seems most are too wrapped up in their own affairs and haven’t grasped what it means to know and serve Jesus Christ. Timothy, on the other hand, as you know, has tirelessly worked with me like a son with his father.
I, too, hope to come to you myself but for now I’m sending Epaphroditus back to you –another fellow-worker, fellow-soldier, and dear brother. He wants you to see that God has had mercy on him (and all of us for that matter) by healing him. He was extremely ill, having risked his life to do for me in person what you couldn’t do. Do show men like this the utmost respect!
So much to be thankful for! So many reasons to rejoice in the Lord! I don’t mind repeating myself –if for no other reason than to reinforce the Truth in you.
Stay on the alert against those who pervert the Truth! They are all about externals and keeping rules. As you know, our gospel is internal –our worship is from the inside, out. We aren’t relying on our own performance but are instead joyfully connected to Christ Jesus.
If this Message was about measuring up, I’d be way ahead of those deceivers anyway!
- I was born an insider (a Jew)
- I was circumcised on the eighth day
- I belonged to the tribe of Benjamin
- I kept the law like a Pharisee
- and I set out to destroy anyone who thought otherwise
- I challenge anyone to show me where I didn’t measure up to their standard
But, the good news isn’t about measuring up! Not only does all of that not impress God, it is gross rubbish. Think of it
- I personally know Jesus Christ
- my wholeness is not something I produced; God planted Jesus “wholeness” in me
Is it any wonder that I’m consumed with
- knowing Jesus more deeply
- personally experiencing resurrection life like He did
- suffering for Truth as He did
- one day “arriving” safely on the Other Side
No, I haven’t “arrived.” I’m in the process of getting a better handle on why Christ took hold of me. But I’m not looking back! Everything I am is about hearing and being ready for that final upward call –entering into the fullness of what it means to be in Christ.
You may not feel as strongly about this yet but you will! All that matters is that each of us use what He’s already given us to press on! Follow my lead! Follow anyone who’s running this way!
Don’t admire or envy those whose lives are consumed with the pleasures and perversions of this world! They abhor the message of the cross. Self-destruction is their destiny.
We, on the other hand, have already transferred our citizenship to Heaven. We’re on tip-toes watching for Jesus to call us Home. We’re dying to shed these wretched bodies in exchange for glory-built ones like He has. That will just be one part of His powerful re-shaping all things into His perfection.
Keep this perspective and you’ll stand strong! Know that I love you and ache to be with you again!
A few words in closing:
Euodius and Syntache, work out your differences in the spirit of humility I described above. All of you who worked so hard with me when I was there (Clement included) have your names written in the “book of life.” Help each other “get on the same page!”
- Find your deepest pleasure in the Lord and what He enjoys
- Gain a reputation for being gentle in spirit
- Live conscious of how near the Lord is (and how imminent is His return)
- Don’t let worry define you –pour out your concerns to God in earnest and thankful prayer
- Let God’s transcendent peace control your hearts and minds as you rest in His loving providence
- Meditate on Truth, virtuous and pure things, beautiful and praiseworthy realities
- Stay on course with all that I’ve taught and modeled for you
And the God of peace will be with you.
Your thoughtfulness and generosity toward me are a deep source of joy. I know you’ve been looking for ways to express your concern and only now had the means to do so. As I said earlier, I enjoy a deep and thorough inner-contentment in spite of circumstances! Whether I am prospering or poverty-stricken matters little –after all, I do what I do through the strength of the One who lives in me.
Mind you, I’m not discounting the importance of your financial support! Over and over you’ve been the most diligent about seeing that my needs were met. My joy, however, isn’t in the money I receive but in the reward you are going to receive for your selfless sacrifice.
My needs are met! The support you sent with Epaphroditus is like a rich perfume ascending to the Throne of God –and He loves it!
Every good thing we have is from Him and He’ll never run short! He will surely supply everything you need out of the rich “treasure-trove” that is Christ Jesus and we’ll never tire of blessing Him for being the generous, gracious, selfless God that He is.
Greet all the “Christ-ians”* there for me! Indeed, the saints here (especially the ones who belong to the emperor’s household) send their best wishes!
May the very grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
*”Christ ians” was originally a derogatory name assigned Christ-followers by mocking world-lovers. It means “little-Christs.” Believers soon took it on as a valued identity badge!