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Philippians #1 - An Opening Prayer

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Philippians #1:

An Opening Prayer

Text: Phil. 1:1-11

Thesis: To glean some important lessons from Paul’s opening prayer.


(1)   Paul is the human author of the epistle to the Philippians.

(a)    He had helped to establish the church in Philippi (see Acts 16:12ff.).

(b)   From the internal evidence, Paul wrote to the church from prison.

1)      Although there is some debate, the Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:20f.)  seems the most likely choice.

2)      This being the case, the epistle was likely written some time between A.D. 61-62.

(2)   As Paul writes this letter, he opens with a prayer for the Philippians.


I.       The Text:

A.     First, Paul greets them and expresses thanks for their actions toward him (vv. 1-8).

1.      In verses 1-2, he greets them.

a.       He mentions Timothy and alludes to himself and Timothy as ‘servants.’

b.      He greets them as ‘saints.’

1)      This simply means that they are “set apart.”

2)      They are “set apart” because they are “in Christ.”

c.       He further mentions the “bishops and deacons.”

1)      Bishops = Elders, Pastors

2)      Note the plurality.

d.      In verse 2, he offers the common salutation of the day.

2.      Beginning with verse 3, he expresses his thanks for their actions toward him.

a.       He continually thanks God for them because of their ‘partnership’ (NIV, v. 5) with him in the spread of the gospel.

b.      He is confident that they will continue to participate in this and every good work as long as they continue to allow God to work in their lives (v. 6).

c.       He also is thankful that they are willing to stand with him regardless of the circumstances (v. 7).

B.     Second, Paul desires that they will abound in good works so that they will continue to bring God glory (vv. 9-11).

1.      Obviously, he wants them to ‘abound’ in love.

a.       Yet, “Paul was not blind to the dangers of emotion uncontrolled by intelligence” (Bruce 36).

b.      Thus, he prays that their abounding love will be accompanied by knowledge and discernment.

c.       “Paul’s appeal is for believers to study, investigate, and determine the best possible ways to obey and please the Lord, and then to live accordingly” (MacArthur 47).

2.      Ultimately, he wants them to be filled with ‘the fruit of righteousness’ in order to bring glory to God.

a.       He is “speaking of the spiritual fruit that comes from Jesus Christ, produced in them by the Holy Spirit sent by Christ (Gal 5:22)” (EBC).

b.      “The glory of God is the end of all Christian effort” (from The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 2001 by Biblesoft).

II.                The Application:

A.    We are servants of God.

B.     We are set apart by the blood of Christ.

C.     We should constantly thank God for those who stand with us.

D.    We should stand with our family regardless of the circumstances.

E.     We must abound in love with discernment.

F.      We must strive to bear the fruit that brings glory to God.


(1)   Is your life bringing glory to God?

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