Back in Phillipians | Back to Nicaragua
I watched the sun rise in a plane this morning heading to Nicaragua. A while back I posted about an opportunity I have to go with an organization called Willing To Go. Some of you have, many in my hometown and surrounding areas have and now I am able to go and greet the people of Nicaragua with peace and Grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ on your behalf.
As I’m waking up to a beautiful sunrise, I’m also getting lost in the eyes of God again through His Words. These introductory themes continue to pile up. I’m seeing multiple introductions from Paul in this letter, not just the initial greeting. I would like to share those with you today and perhaps I’ll have an opportunity to share this with some people somewhere along the way on this current journey. Thanks for keeping the Nicaraguans and this team of 6 in your prayers.
As you pray, you may be reminded of portions of Paul’s prayer for the Philippians which I have been blogging through to hopefully help gather some more insight into how we should pray. Moving on and through that first prayer, here are 4 Bible Introductions You May Have Noticed:
1. Paul: The Whole Philippian Church
Paul begins the letter of Philippians by speaking broadly to the whole church. This doesn’t end in Chapter 1. Paul prays for them, casts vision for them, calls them to worship, and gives them instruction.
This is one of the times you can see why it is helpful to find a Bible or print or a book at a time without chapter and verse divisions. It easier to see the breaks in thought, especially with a writer like Paul who has caveats, tangents, and multiple spring and independent sub points.
I have reviewed many times this long and interrupted section. Over several blogs we’ve explored some of the instruction, earnestness, and comprehensive nature of this prayer and will continue to do so but for now I just want to point out his warm fatherly, instructive tone because we will see his others in these relationships contrasted with this in these other introductions.
2. The Church: Epaphroditus
Paul often interrupts his letters with very practical tangents such as this. “Send my cloak.” “Prepare me a place, I’m coming.” Sometimes these personal personnel directives come as tags at the beginning or sending a letter. Take for example, the huge list of unknown church leaders at the end of 1 Corinthians.
Another reason to read a letter as a letter: Paul often does not say it all at once but spreads, sprinkles, and splatters. This note is very short. It’s almost too short to draw out a tone. We wouldn’t want unnecessarily speculate.
We do see it climax though. Paul says they should have a tone after he shows his own personal reverence for Epaphroditus. If you read on from the first mention, you hear how dearly Paul holds and cares for him. I said “almost” because we do see him strongly urging a particular honor be given Epaphroditus.
3. Paul: Euodia & Syntyche
This portion of the letter is more than Paul just turning quickly to speak almost face to face with regards two. He is telling them to turn face to face. He is not calling them out. Paul is calling them up.
This one is a bit misleading but it is more about two brothers who have already met but are not living as brothers. This collection speaks to the continual greeting that is communion within the family of God. This serves even as a bit of a foreshadow to the final orders of every saying. The lordship of Christ in individuals leads to the lordship of Christ as a community and looks like Jesus’ way of putting our lives or for another.
The tone here is not forceful. It is not neutral. Paul isn’t passive or manipulative here either. It is that straight up brotherly speech that Paul uses with Philemon when calling him to the better way. He could tell them both not to do this or to do this or that and leave it there. Instead he reminds them of the way of Jesus’ life and holds it as a mirror for them to see how they are distorting the picture for the world.
4. The Whole Church: Every Saint
Paul often ends his letters like this. John does too. Oh wait! James does this in his own even more specific way. Holding to the apostles teaching must mean that we take seriously the universal brotherhood. Do we not find ourselves sometimes passing over these details like they accidentally made into the Bible?
Paul’s tone like the other Biblical authors who were inspired to write these kinds of mysteries is apostolic. This introduction cannot be viewed without the perspective of the church within the greater story of God teach the ends of the earth. This command cannot be ignored, is authority must be observed.
How many times have you forgot to introduce someone to a friend? The responsibility falls on the mutual party to initiate the initial introduction. Paul’s is different. All of these closings with this instruction for greeting are: they demand every saying to take the responsibility upon themselves since the mutual party, Jesus already took the responsibility on him and initiated the connection through His cross. Maybe this is a reminder to pick up our cross as He took on the cross.
That’s what this sounds like to me, “Phillipians meet the Thessalonians you supported, they’re sending their sins to you on the way to another province who you have already reached in financing them but will now do so doubly by also welcoming and sending them”.