INTRO: There are times when goodbye is the hardest word on earth for me. Perhaps the fact that such long spans of time pass between visits with beloved brethren in distant places makes the farewell so difficult. So much can happen in that interval of time. How many are the times I have said goodbye to a precious friend never to see that one again in this life ... for that friend died some time after our goodbyes had been said. So many thoughts fill my heart at the moment of the goodbye. Even the closing of a letter to distant loved ones - or loved ones from whom something other than great distance separates us - can have the same heart filling emotion. Our letter to the Philippian church closes now. In our text we have read Pauls goodbye to his distant friends.
I. HE INCLUDES FOUR GROUPS OF PEOPLE IN THAT CLOSING
A. He salutes the saints in Philippi (4:21a)
1. every saint - each of them is on Pauls mind ... letter is for all of them its encouragement; its advice; its instruction; its prayers; its thanksgivings
2. and here is this word saint again all in Christ
3. no doubt, too, as Paul pens these closing words mental pictures of certain people, events flood his mind most of whom he never saw again
B. The brethren who were with him (4:21b)
1. these were likely close fellow workers joining in greed
2. almost always there was a small group of dedicated laborers who selflessly joined in Pauls work
3. who might they have been?
a. Timothy his own son in the gospel
b. Tychicus a faithful minister (Col 4:7)
c. Onesimus a converted slave (Col 4:9)
d. Aristarchus apparently also imprisoned (Col 4:10)
e. Mark who had once deserted (Col 4:10)
f. Luke beloved physician Col 4:14a & 2 Tim 4:11)
g. Demas who later deserts (Col 4:14b & 2 Tim 4:10)
h. these were evangelists, messengers, supporters and friends who made possible the magnification of Pauls work
C. The Roman saints (4:22a)
1. highlighted here is worldwide brotherhood of the church!
2. some commentators use this verse to speak of the ecumenical spirit of Paul as if to conclude the existence of denominations across whose boundaries Paul worked
3. not so! indeed, no New Testament text supports such a view
D. Especially the saints in/of Caesars household
1. there is an emphasis on this special group ... why?
2. perhaps, to say the gospel goes everywhere influencing
a. earlier Paul had mentioned the palace guard (1:13)
b. now he implies that there are saints found throughout the official family Isa 55:11 (even if Nero is the King)
3. perhaps as a word of encouragement
a. persecution by Rome would begin to be severe
b. but even within the very walls of the palace would be these who would be seeking to influence for good ... who would not be surrendering their faith even that close to the very Beast himself!
II. THE SIMPLE PRAYER OF FAREWELL 4:23
A. This is virtually the same prayer closing all his letters
1. the emphasis on the grace of Christ is so obvious
2. the favor, the unmerited favor, the blessing of Christ as a continuation for them is his prayer
3. not for ease ... but for peace, comfort, contentment, tranquility in the midst of trial
B. But the grace he desires for them is qualified at least in its recipient
1. Phil 4:21 ... for those in Christ
2. Eph 6:24 ... for those loving Jesus in sincerity
3. 1 Thes 5:14-22 ... people who are living the life of saints
CLOSE: As far as we know, Paul never again visited Philippi. But he loved the people there. And the warm, lovely relationship between him and the brethren there lives on in this precious letter.
Cecil A. Hutson
07 January 2001
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)