Philippians 1:1-2, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
An Incredible Book Full of the Grace of God
Philippians is an incredible book. It details the immeasurable love that Paul the Apostle has for the church in Philippi. It speaks of the grace of God that binds all Christians together, the grace that God imparts to all believers, and the love that a pastor and father in the ministry has for a beloved church plant. There are so many beautiful themes of humility, redemption, peace, love, mercy, sanctification, justification by grace alone through faith alone running all throughout this epistle that there is no wonder it is often the first book that many pastors preach through when they start at a new church.
Tony Merida in his commentary on Philippians, testifies to how important to the local church this book is:
Indeed, Paul’s overarching concern is with the gospel, a word that appears more in Philippians than in any other letter (per hundred words), as scholar Gordon Fee points out. Paul writes much about the glorious nature of the gospel that believers must defend and declare. He writes about the sovereignty of God in salvation, the person and work of Christ, the imputed righteousness of Jesus received by faith, sanctification, and our citizenship in heaven…. this letter isn’t just a message from the ancient past. It’s the living Word of God, written by the apostle Paul. It’s four chapters, 104 verses, and about 2 ½ pages in most Bibles. But there’s gold here.”
The “gold” that Tony is talking about is ours for the taking if we only take the time to mine its depths and mediate on the encouraging, edifying, all-sufficient Word of God.
In the first two verses, Paul is already teaching the Philippian church and us so much. He calls himself and Timothy servants of Christ for starters. The Greek word used here for servants is δοθλος and it means slave or bondservant. It speaks to the humility of Paul and Timothy and how they’re not lording their sanctification or position of authority over the Philippian church, but rather they are declaring themselves to be slaves of Christ bound to serve him and only him.
In doing so, that means they are servants to the believers in Philippi. They are united in their calling to see the name of Jesus lifted up on high and the gospel shared all across the world. This willing submission to the ministry of the gospel and to the Lord Jesus reminds me of the interchange John the Baptist had with some of his disciples in John 3:25-26:
“Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
What Paul, Timothy, and John the Baptist understand is that Jesus Christ is the long-awaited Messiah. He is the Son of God. Jesus is worthy of serving, worthy of submitting to, and worthy of being persecuted unto death for.
Grace and Peace From the Lord Jesus
Secondly, what Paul is teaching us at the beginning of this letter is that all grace and peace come down from God through the Lord Jesus Christ. This should be a no-brainer, but so many people get this wrong. So many people genuinely believe that grace can be earned and that peace stems from “positive vibes” shared from one person to the next. The truth is though that all the grace a sinner will ever need comes from God the Father and the Lord Jesus and it can never run out. The grace that comes from God covers all sin for all eternity. It is indescribably amazing. It is life-giving. It is soul-saving. It is freedom from the tyrannical bonds of Satan and the deathly clutches of sin. The classic hymn Grace Greater Than All Our Sin paints a beautiful picture of the grace of God:
“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin
Dark is the stain that we cannot hide;
What can avail to wash it away?
Look! There is flowing a crimson tide;
Whiter than snow you may be today.
Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe,
All who are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?”
It is this same grace that Paul is greeting this beloved church with because he knows that there is nothing better in this world than the grace of God and the Lord Jesus. He knows that grace is the anthem of every Christian. It is the battle cry of the believer. Grace is the gate that opens up the redeeming love and boundless mercy of God. All who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus for salvation do so because they have tasted and seen that the grace of God is greater and far sweeter than all their sinful pleasures that they once clung to. It is because of this grace that we can have peace in our lives and know that we are no longer at war with God and the Lord Jesus. It is because of this amazing grace that we can have joy in our hearts, feel the love of God, and have deep, meaningful peace-filled fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
Grace and Peace from Jesus Can Be Yours Today
So much more can be said. And in fact, volumes have been written about these first two verses of Philippians, but what I want to leave you with in this article is that grace and peace can be yours today if you just trust in Christ for the salvation from your sin. If you are already a believer and have walked with God for many years, be encouraged my friend that the same grace that saved you so long ago is keeping you close to the Father and the Lord Jesus even now when temptation creeps into your life. If you do not know the Lord Jesus as your savior and if you have never felt the love of God in your life I urge you now to read the rest of this book and see how infectious the joy of Christ is, see how marvelous the love of God is, and finally to see how freeing the grace of God and the Lord Jesus Christ is. This book is gold. These two verses are gold. The incredible thing is that this is only the beginning. I invite you now to stick with this study through Philippians and see how intoxicating the grace of God is and how it can change your life, even today.