Philippians 1: 8-18.
Philippians is one of the Pauline’s four prison epistles. The others three prison epistles are Ephesians, Collosians, and Philemon. Paul wrote these epistles when he was prison in Rome through trumped up charges. From AD 60, he was under a house arrest, chained to a Roman pretorian guard, 24/7, who rotate through shifts. Caesar Nero released Paul in AD 62, rearrested him in AD 66 and beheaded him in the Mamertine prison shortly after this. Paul wrote the prison epistles during his first imprisonment when he was under a house arrest.
VV 8-11, 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Paul called God to be his witness. The word “affection” in Greek is “splanchnizomai”, which means intestine. For the Jews in first-century Israel, intestine is the seat of emotion, not the heart. Paul missed the Philipiians Christians dearly and had compassion for them. He prayed for them to be rich in love, excellent in knowledge and discernment, kind, sincere and blameless in relationship, until the second coming of Christ. He prayed for them to be filled with the fruit of righteousness or fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of righteousness is the fruit of the Spirit.
Proverbs 11: 30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise”.
Galations 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law”.
1 Peter 4:8, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.”
VV 12-14, 12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Paul was a prison soul winner. The prison was his pulpit for evangelism. The Roman pretorian guards chained to him and his visitors was his congregations. When Paul preached the gospel to the Roman pretorian guards, many believed and were saved. They preached the gospel to Ceasar’s palace causing a Chritstian revival in Caeser’s household. He also preached the gospel to those who visited him in the prison. Other Romans Christians stepped up with boldness to preach the gospel. Paul called a prisoner of Christ and not Nero Caesar. Today, you can be a soul winner in the place that you worked. Your office is your pulpit. Your staffs and your clients are your congregations. You can share the gospel and minister to the people around you.
VV 15-18, 15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
Some people preached the gospel with an envious and jealous heart out of a selfish motive. Some people preached the gospel with a sincere and pure heart, out of genuine love. Paul was not concerned and could rejoice as long the gospel was preached and Christ was glorified.
Philippians 1: 1-7.
VV 1-2, 1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The first church in Europe is the Philippians church. The first Christian convert in Europe is Lydia. Paul addressed himself and Timothy as bondservants of Christ. Greek for bondservant is duolos, which means a slave. Paul addressed the Philippian Christians as saints, bishops, and deacons. Greek for saint is hagios, which means holy. Greek for bishop is episcopal, which means an overseer. Greek for deacons is diakonos, which means a minister. Paul pronounced grace and peace to them from God, the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Greek for grace is charis, which means unmerited love of God Grace is getting what we do not deserve. GRACE is God Riches at Christ’ Expense. Greek for peace is eirene, which means inner well-being.
VV 3-7, 3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.
Paul thank God whenever he thought of the Philippians Christians. He was only in Philippi for several weeks and yet so many unforgettable events happened in this short period of stay and their bonding was very strong. Paul remembered them daily in prayer for joy, fellowship, and God’s enablement. They were in his heart even though he was under house arrest, chained to a Roman soldier on a 6 hourly shift, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week.
The greatest gift that you can give to someone is to pray for that person every day, by name.
Philippians 1:6 is a good verse to memorize, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”.
The day of Jesus Christ is the day of Jesus Christ’s second coming. You can believe and claim the promise of Philippians 1:6. When God started working in you, He will bring it to completion before the day of His second coming. Today, you may not even see the result of this promise, but slowly and surely God will make you into the person that will conform to His will. There will be times of waiting, testing, and preparation and this may take months, years, or even decades. Joseph waited 13 years, Paul waited 14 years, David waited for 22 years, and Moses waited 40 years before God could use them.
Paul rejoiced with the Philippians church for their partnership with him in preaching the gospel. Remember that Paul was in prison, in chains, under house arrest, awaiting trial under the brutal Roman emperor Caesar Nero. His future was very uncertain and not all optimistic, yet he rejoiced.
Introduction to the Epistle of Philippians:
Philippi was a Roman colony in Greece, named after Alexander the Great’s father, Philip of Macedon. In AD 49, Paul started his 2nd missionary journey with Silas as his co=partner. In AD 51, Paul and Silas visited Philippi. Paul converted and saved Lydia, a businesswoman at a riverside on a Sabbath day. All hell broke loose when Paul exorcised a demonized slave girl, landing Paul and Silas into the local prison, Acts 16:16-24. While Paul and Silas were singing, praying, and praising God at midnight, a dramatic earthquake loosened the prisoners’ chains. The Philippian jailer wanted to commit suicide, but Paul told him not to take his life. Paul converted and saved the Philippian jailer and his family. The next day, when the magistrate realized that Paul was a Roman citizen, he apologized to Paul and released him, Acts 26: 25-40. The Philippian church kick-started with Lydia, the Philippian jailer, and his family,
Paul left Philippi and traveled to Thessalonica, Berea, Corinth, Ephesus, and many places before arriving at Jerusalem in AD 57.
In Jerusalem, the Jews mobbed him outside the temple, the Romans arrested him and sent him to Caesarea Philippi. In AD 59, the Romans sent Paul on board a prison ship en route to Rome, Acts 21-26. In AD 60, after surviving a shipwreck and a poisonous snakebite, Paul finally reached Rome as a prisoner under house arrest, Acts 28. On hearing the arrest of Paul, the Philippian church sent Epaphras to visit him with financial support. Paul wrote “Philippians” as a thank you letter. Epaphras took it back to the Philippian church. The theme of this epistle is “joy” and “rejoice”.
John 21: 1-25, Epilogue.
Heavenly Father, we come before you with soft hearts, clear minds, and teachable spirits, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV1-3, 1 Afterward, Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas(also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Seven of the disciples assembled in Galilee for a fishing expedition led by Peter. They went back to fishing in the Sea of Galilee, or the Sea of Tiberius, named after Tiberius Caesar. They did not catch any fish throughout the night.
V4-7, 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore but they did not recognize Him. He asked them, whether they caught any fish and they said none. Jesus instructed them to cast the net onto the right side of the boat and when they did so, the net was full of fishes. When they cast the net with their own effort, they were not successful. When they cast the net in obedience to Jesus, they were very successful. John recognized Jesus and told Peter, “it is the Lord”.
V8-14, 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
They counted the number of fishes and it was 153. Jesus made a fireplace and invited the disciples to eat breakfast with Him. Jesus asked the disciples for bring some of their fish. This was the third time the Risen Christ showed Himself to His disciples.
V 15-18, 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
Because Peter had denied Jesus three times, Jesus confronted Peter three times. Jesus asked Peter, do you love (agape) me and Peter answered, I love (phileo) you. Jesus asked Peter again, do you love (agape) me and Peter replied I love (Phileo) you. Jesus again asked Peter, do you (phileo) me and Peter replied, I love (phileo) you. After each of the three confrontations, Jesus told Peter to feed His lamb, tend His sheep, and feed His sheep.
V 19-25, 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” 20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. 25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. Amen.
“Stretching out of the hand” speaks of crucifixion. Jesus prophesied that Peter will die by crucifixion. Peter wanted to know what will happen to John but Jesus told him not to worry about John. The gospel of John ended with a high note, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written”.
Heavenly Father, thank You that we have come to the end of John’s Gospel. Thank You for traveling with us onboard this exciting and wonderful journey of faith, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Heavenly Father, we come before You to learn, listen, and fellowship with You. Speak and Your servants hear, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
John 20: 1-25, Easter.
VV 1-3, 1 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” 3 Peter, therefore, went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb very early on Easter Sunday when it was still dark. She saw thatvthe stone was rolled away and concluded wrongly that tomb raiders had stolen the Lord’s body.
VV 4-10, 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.’’
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus wrapped up Jesus’ body with linen strips and covered them with myrrh and aloes from head to toe. When the spices dried up, the linens strips will harden and solidify. John saw the ‘’cocoon’’ without the body of Jesus, understood and believed that Christ had Risen. John was the first person to believe in the resurrection of Jesus.
VV11- 18, Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Mary Magdalene saw two angels and the Risen Christ but she did not recognize Him. When Jesus called her by name she recognized Him. Jesus told Mary not to cling to Him. As the first fruit of resurrection, He had to present Himself to God as a wave offering first, before He could be touched. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the Risen Christ. Jesus called the disciples His brothers. Hebrews 2:11. “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters”.
VV 19-23, 19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
The Risen Christ passed through locked doors and pronounced peace, “shalom” to His disciples. Christ breathed and imparted the Holy Spirit to His disciples.
VV 24-31, 24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples, therefore, said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Thomas, was absent when Jesus first appeared to the apostles. Eight days later, Christ appeared to His disciples again. He turned to Thomas and told him to touch His hands and side. Thomas confessed, ‘’my Lord and my God.’’ Christ replied, ‘’Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe’’. We who are reading this 2000 years later, are ‘’those who have not seen and yet believed”. Thomas believed. John wrote this gospel so that “you may believer that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His name”.
Heavenly Father, I pray for those who have not committed their lives to Jesus Christ or have wandered away from Him. We pray that they will turn away from sin and turn to Him, in Jesus’ name, Amen.