Elements of Joy (Podcast by Pastor John MacArthur for Grace to You
This morning, let me ask you to turn in your Bible to Philippians, chapter 1, as we come to our study of God’s Word. And I confess to you that this is a remnant, in a sense, this morning. We came very close to finishing our study last week on verses 3 through 8. I had intended to do that, but was unable to cover the final point. And so, contrary to all that I’ve ever learned about preaching, we will have basically one point today, and try to sum up everything that we’ve been saying over the last couple of weeks in this great, great text.
As we noted when we began our study of Philippians, the apostle Paul is in prison. He is enduring some very dire circumstances, not only from the standpoint of physical deprivation, from the standpoint of ministerial deprivation in that he has lost his freedom to move about, but also in the sense of a sort of social deprivation, he is cut off from the people he loves. And then he is being rather unfairly and unmercifully attacked by others who name the name of Christ, who are spreading the word around that he is in prison because the Lord had to put him on the shelf because in some way he had failed in his ministry. It’s a hard time for him circumstantially, this first imprisonment, which we affirmed to you we believe was in Rome. But in spite of all of that, he expresses joy throughout this epistle.
The occasion of this epistle is that he, while in prison, receives a gift of love from the Philippian Christians. The bearer of that gift is a man named Epaphroditus. He comes with the money to assist Paul and with the instruction to stay with Paul, so that he may be ministered to not only in a financial way but in a personal way. Paul is overwhelmed by the love and the affection of the Philippians, and writes this letter back to them to express to them his love, to express to them his concern that they sustain the unity that he has known them to have, to express to them the fact that he has joy in spite of his negative circumstances, and also to send Epaphroditus back, because he feels they need him more than he does.