Philippians - Introduction

Dr. Steve Viars May 6, 1995 Philippians


1) like Colossians, Philippians is also a prison epistle.
    - this is an important idea to keep in mind as we interpret the book,
       and we'll come back to this idea often.

2) this is also a church that is doing a lot of things right.
   - It is very sound in doctrine and order  (there's no condemnation of
       the church as a whole--there is a minor exhortation to two ladies
       that we'll study when we get to chapter 4.

3) one of the things they've been doing right is sharing financially in
     Paul's missionary work.
       - in fact, you could look at this book as a "thank-you letter" for
          all the Philippians had done for Paul.
       - this idea will come up even in the verses we study today, and
          even more-so in weeks ahead.

4) One of the themes of this book is our joy in Christ.
     - of course since Paul's in prison, he's not talking about "joy from
        without"--or joy that’s dependent on outward circumstances

     - we're talking about joy from within, because of the privilege of
         knowing Christ.
     - that’s why one of the key verses is Phil. 1:21 - For to me to live
         is Christ, and to die is gain.

5) the book can be divided as follows: (Scofield)

    I. Christ, the Believer's Life - Rejoicing in Suffering

   II. Christ, the Believer's Pattern - Rejoicing in Lowly Service

  III. Christ, the Believer's Object - Rejoicing Despite Imperfection

   IV. Christ, the Believer's Strength - Rejoicing Through Anxiety

- I would love to jump into the message of the first chapter of this book
    because its so important, but I think it is probably in our best
    interest if we begin with some introductory ideas so that we're in
    the best possible shape to make accurate interpretations as we move
    along in our study.

- we're going to talk this morning about:
    I. The Location of the Church
   II. The Founding of the Church
  III. The Members of the Church
   IV. The Memorable Acts of the Church


I. The Location of the Church

    A. Commercially important

       - map

       - this city was on a main highway between Europe and Asia.
       - it was a mining center, and an agricultural center

       - so it was a large city with lots of people and lots of commerce

    B. Militarily important

        - because of the things we've already said, this was a natural
           place to have a military post -- and as a result there were a
           lot of soldiers who were stationed there.

    C. Historically important

        - Philippi was one of the colonies of the Roman empire
        - these colonies prided themselves on being little replicas of
            Rome on foreign soil.

        - the point of all this is -- This was an important city with a
           lot of people in it----and because Paul loved people, he went
           to where they were.

           - the issue wasn't - what was most comfortable for him?
               - or, where were the best recreational areas?
                  - the issue was - where could he go to have the
                      greatest impact for Christ?

        - its not surprising that one of the places God sent Paul was to

II. The Founding of the Church

    - Pastor recently studied this with us from the book of Acts on
       Sunday morning, so we won't spend as much time here.

    A. In response to God's call

        - please turn over to Acts 16
        - read 16:6-9

        - now of course we have to keep in mind that this was before the
          completion of the NT
        - missionaries do not get "called" to specific fields of ministry
           today like Paul did before having the Nt.

        - but its clear that the Lord wanted a church established in this

    B. Where hearts were prepared

        - read 13-14

        - INPUT - what about that story impresses you the most?
                  (that Lydia was a person whose heart the Lord opened)


- INPUT - how can that help us as we seek to reach out to those the Lord
          has placed around us?  (the confidence that God works in

    - there's a lot of other exciting things about the birth of the
       Philippian church, like the salvation of the girl who was demon-
       possessed, and the salvation of the Philippian jailer...but
       suffice it is to say that this is a church that was very important
       to Paul...
         - it was clear that the Lord was in every aspect of it being
             started and developed
         - and it was clear that Paul paid a real price to see the
             ministry get off the ground.

- now let's go to the book of Philippians itself to see:

III. The Members of the Church

    - Paul addresses three groups in verse 1
    - INPUT - who are they?

    - this list gives us the opportunity to make some important points:

    A. The saints

        - INPUT - who are the saints?  (every saved person in the church)

        - when it comes to the way the Scripture uses this word, we're
           not talking about a special group of people who are "super-
           spiritual" and therefore should be elevated to a special class
           of Christendom.

        - every person who has trusted Christ is a saint--a holy one,
           someone who has been set apart to God and to a life that is
           growing in progressive holiness.

        - the flipside of this, by the way, is a very important doctrine
           that Baptists have always believed and emphasized...that is
           that every member of a church has to be saved.
              - some churches will allow a person to become a member
                 without trying to determine whether the person is
                   - you can imagine the effect that has on a church over
                     a period of time where unsaved people are making
                     decisions and exerting leadership.

        - so saints aren't some special group of "ultra-holy" people...
            - but on the other hand, only saints can be church members.

    B. Bishops

        - in the NT, the words bishop, elder, and pastor are used

        - a good example of that is Acts 20:

           - read 17, 28

           - elder - vs. 17
           - overseer - vs. 28
           - to feed (pastor) - vs. 28
- the point is -- in the church, there are two offices--pastors and

    - the reason there are three different words used to describe a
       pastor is because of the different emphases:

         - Bishop - (Overseer) - Office
         - Pastor - Function
         - Elder - Man

- INPUT - what are some things the NT tells us about what pastors are to
          be like, and what they are to be doing?

          1) Ephesians 4 -

          2) I Peter 5 -

          3) I Timothy 3 -

- the last group addressed in verse 1 is:

    C. Deacons

         INPUT - what are some things the NT tells us about what deacons
                 are to be like, and what they are to be doing?

                  - Acts 6

- with the time we have left, let's think about some of:

IV. The Memorable Acts of the Church

    read 3-7

    - one of the things that encourages Paul's heart while he's in prison
       is the friendship and comradary of this dear church.

    A. For your fellowship in the gospel

        - read 4:10-19

        - when Paul speaks of their fellowship in the gospel, undoubtedly
           he was thinking in part of the support they gave him
        - the Lord does not expect everyone to go to the mission field,
            but he expects everyone to be involved in God's worldwide
            missionary endeavor
               - and one way we can be involved is by being generous

        - INPUT - what are some other ways we can have "fellowship in the
                  gospel" with our missionaries?

          - illustration - (one of the many ways we try to do that as a
             church is through our internship program)
              - cf. nursing home  a couple of Thursdays ago
                 - you would have been proud of those guys
                     - (you would have been happy that they were
                         representing our church)

                 - they were warm and friendly and loving to those dear
                 - it wasn't something they were putting on
                 - it was appeared to be coming from a heart that
                     genuinely wanted to minister
                 - "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound."
                      - on "one level," to be honest with you, the sound
                         was anything but sweet.
                      - it wasn't the kind of thing that the average
                          record company would want to record.

                      - but on another level---a much more important
                          level, that was the sweetest sound in all the
                            - to hear those dear people, many by their
                              own confession sincere believers in Christ,
                              sing praises to God.

- my point is -- it's been good for Jim and Mark to minister in that way
    this year---and its been good that our church has the heart to have a
    program like that
       - that’s just one of many ways a church family can encourage others
           to be good stewards of the ministry God has given.

- the overall point is that these believers had the kind of lifestyle and
    testimony and ministry -- that could be a great encouragement to the
    apostle Paul even though he was in a tough place.

    - that gives us an interesting question to ask ourselves:
       - If a member of our missionary family was having a difficulty of
          their field of service, and they had the occasion to think of
          me, would that be an encouraging thing to them, or a
          discouraging thing?

- one other idea that encouraged Paul's heart was:

    B. The belief that God would continue to work in them.


Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video