INTRODUCTION TO OUR SERIES:
Background to Philippians…
The Apostle Paul wrote the epistle (personal letter) (1:1) to the Philippian church, probably during his imprisonment in Rome. The letter was written from a heart of love and concern for the Philippians. Due to Paul’s imprisonment, he could not personally visit with the church so he sent this letter with Timothy to encourage them and bring back news of their condition to Paul. (2:19).
Some of the main divisions of the book include:
1. Introduction to the book: 1:1-2
2. Paul’s thankfulness for the Philippians: 1:3-11
3. News of Paul’s imprisonment and dedication: 1:12-26
4. Following Christ’s example is our duty: 1:27-2:18
5. Paul’s representatives and the need to treat them kindly: 2:19-30
6. Paul’s example of living a joyous life: 3:1-11
7. The Christian’s heavenly calling: 3:12-21
8. The need for Godly living: 4:1-9
9. The love offerings of the Philippians: 4:10-20
10. Closing to the book of Philippians: 4:21-23
Php 3:17-19 – “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
Paul encourages the brethren to be “co-imitators” of himself. He goes on to tell them to take note of those who follow Paul’s example. These are the people that the brethren are to follow.
Why would Paul encourage the brethren to follow him, instead of telling them to follow Christ?
1. Paul understood our human nature. It is far easier to follow an example we can see with our eyes as compared to attempting to follow an example based on the historical account of someone’s life. At this point in time in history Christ was no longer present on the earth and the Word of God was not completed yet. For people to learn about, and follow, Christ they would have to hear about His life from a first or second hand source.
2. In the context, Paul is telling them to follow His example because he was following Christ. In essence, by following Paul’s example they would be following Christ.
3. Also keep in mind the context of the passage. Paul had just explained his great desire to be willing to put sin to death in his life and live a life of sacrifice for Christ. He had just encouraged others to do so as well (vs 11-16).
He may have been referring to this aspect of his life only. In other words, he was telling the people of Philippi to follow the example he was setting by desiring to put sin away and give their all in the service of Christ. This would involve following Christ’s example in all things.
In any case, Paul’s encouragement for others to follow his example does no injustice to the importance of being followers of Christ.
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Paul understood the need for the brethren to carefully choose whom they would emulate. There were many who came in the name of Christ, claiming to be His servants, who were actually opposed to His cause.
They were a sorrow to the heart of Paul. He understood their lost condition and the great harm they caused to the work of Christ.
Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”
Those who actively oppose the work of Christ under the guise of service to Him are described by Paul as:
1. Whose end is destruction, – eternal ruin, constant entering into a worse state forever
2. whose God is their belly, – they worship and serve their fleshly appetites
3. and whose glory is in their shame, – the earthly honor and following they achieve will result in eternal embarrassment
4. who mind earthly things. – they place their attention and affection on the things this world has to offer.
WOW! What a blessing it would be if we knew we lived such a Godly life that we would encourage others to be followers of us! If we carefully examine ourselves, I doubt if many of us (myself included) would feel comfortable do so.
This shows us such a need for Godly living on each of our parts! May we all follow the command of our Lord given to us by the Apostle Paul who said….
1Ti 4:12 – “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
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