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Philippians 4:21-23 | Greetings & Grace to You

Sunday, August 30, 2020 • John Cole • Church Development
Healthy churches affectionately greet one another in Christ and live by the grace of Christ. Obedient churches let the grace of Christ move them to love those outside the church.

 

 

The letter to the Philippians—what a letter.

 

This is not just a simple letter. It is a powerful letter of love, gratitude, encouragement,  conviction, admonition, grace, peace, and joy.

 

It is a letter that displays close relationship between Christians and dedication to Christ's Gospel. It was a letter given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, not only for the church of Philippi but also for Christians and churches like us today. 

 

Paul's letter to the church of Philippi has ministered to our church during these early days of us serving together. Today, we complete twenty-six weeks of growing our faith and understanding in this book of God's Word. We have experienced elements of this letter throughuot this time:

° I greeted you here as pastor for the first time, and afterwards we celebrated with a wonderful meal together.

° People loved on us with letters, gifts, flowers, and visits.

° God strengthened our church with this letter to help us endure our three-month physical separation in response to concerns over the virus.

° Many of us adjusted to a rapid technology curve to remain in fellowship.

° Our family visited you at most of your homes while we were learning in Philippians.

° We met outside for a month on Sunday nights and discussed Scripture before devouring pizza.

° Some of you came over to our home for a meal during this time, and some have invited us into your homes for meals.

° My family and I have shared meals with you in restaurants.

° Our church prayed over challenging health matters for some of our members, and we watched them adjust so graciously and faithfully to things to which many others would respond with resentment, bitterness, and faithlessness.

° We said "see you later" to Everett Abraham and Doris Tyree.

° Many of us have made decisions and been strengthened in Christ with the messages of this letter.

° We know at least one who responded with a profession of faith in Christ for salvation.

° I was able to share with our church that Lakeshore Baptist Church in Indiana paid off the last bit of their mortgage shortly after we left and that two recent converts were baptized there in Lake Michigan. Members have expressed care for that church, which means a lot to me.

° We've seen people who were once part of our church and who had gotten away from the Lord return to faithful fellowship and take steps of obedience to Christ.

° I have had the privilege of getting to know well those who serve as officers in our church as we met over video and in person, for the most part, weekly during all this time. We've discussed Bible, prayed together, discussed church matters, ate, and challenged one another.

° You prayed for our family to sell our business in Indiana so that we could remove distractions and used sale funds for purchasing a home, and God heard you.

° Our family signed this week on a house to plant roots here, to better host our church family in our home, and to be a long-term witness to our neighbors.

° We voted unanimously to invest some of our church savings into how our church communicates and presents God's Word and important church messages.

° Now we are beginning to prepare church tools for outreach and evangelism.

° We pray and worship together. We edify one another. We witness to our neighbors. We support missionaries.

° We will continue to do more and more of this because God Who began a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

 

We have studied so much:

1:1-2         Joy in Serving Jesus

1:3-8         Fellowship in the Gospel

1:9-11       Grow to the Glory of God

1:12-18     Joy in Furtherance of the Gospel

1:18-26     To Live is Christ

1:27-30     Live Worthy of the Gospel

2:1-5         Humble Harmony

2:5-11       Humbled to Exaltation

2:12-18    Joy in Christlike Obedience

2:19-24    A Selfless Mission

2:25-30    Honorable Service

3:1-3        True Worship

3:4-11      Give It Up

3:12-16    One Thing

3:17-21    Christlike Examples

4:1-3        Stand Fast United

4:4           Rejoice in the Lord

4:5           Gentle Like Jesus

4:6-7        The Peace of God

4:8-9        Thinking & Living Close With God

4:10-13    Strengthened by Christ

4:14-19    A Fruitful Partnership

4:20         Glory to God

4:21-23   Greetings & Grace to You

 

Hebrew, Greek, and Middle Eastern cultures have generally been more warm and prolonged in their greetings that we are in our Western cultures.

 

They would greet and say goodbye with warm wishes for you to be well and at peace. They might ask multiple times if you are well.

 

Jewish greetings would often include a petition that the peace of the LORD be with you. Often kneeling, kissing, embracing, and contact were involved.

 

Sometimes these greetings were full of true affection and other times they were Pharisaical public displays of self-importance.

 

Mark 12:38–40

38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,

39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:

40 Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

 

Paul's greetings were full of true affection and  theology . Paul opened and closed his letters in this matter.

 

In the Gospels, we would often see "peace of the kingdom of God," but the letters of the rest of the NT usually prayed grace and peace "of Jesus Christ" to be with the readers.

 

This helps us see the                            and nature of the early churches as well as their practical application of their faith in Christ. They were family joined together by Christ.

 

They didn't just attend at the same meeting place. They knew each other's names. They knew where they lived. They shared meals, ministry, and life together in Christ.

 

Yes, this is part of the culture in which Christianity began, but does God do things by accident?

 

In our fast-paced individualistic society, it does Christians well to read and observe the affectionate, Christ-centered greetings and closings of early Christians.

 

Strong, healthy churches do more than meet—they  greet .

 

They greet one another around the grace of God.

 

They come early and serve, set up, practice singing, greet, and prepare classes to teach.

 

They leave slowly, talking with each other and going out of their way to greet with someone they don't know well.

 

What is it with churches anyway? Have you ever noticed the unwritten rule? Race out the door like you might get trapped inside if you don't!

 

If you want to get a laugh some time, just stand back and watch a pastor try to greet everyone on their way out the door! Hi! Good to see y° Oh, that's wonderful. I'm sorry your dog died. Sure, I'm happy to talk. Have a great week. Thanks for visiting, what's your name? Sorry, I didn't mean to forget your prayer request!

 

It's almost like it's a game—how fast can we do it!

 

Then we observe the pace at which Jesus walked with His disciples, Paul lived with Christians, and believers greeted one another.

 

Maybe there is something to that "event" culture of the East verses the "time" culture of the West in some cases.

 

Join with me as we look further at the greet and grace of our text.

 

SCRIPTURE

 

Philippians 4:21–23

21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.

22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.

23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

 

                             in Christ

 

Philippians 4:21–22

21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.

22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.

 

Salute (greet) very saint in Christ Jesus (each one individually).

 

Salute every                           saint.

 

This seems to be distinct from other letters in which request is given to greet specific people or all the people as a whole.

 

This letter shows Paul's love and closeness to each of the members.

 

It demonstrates the closeness of a unified, loving and joyful church that partners in the Gospel for the glory of God.

 

May we greet each saint.

 

It will not happen without intentionality, effort, and even sacrifice.

 

Come early and leave slowly.

 

We may have to excuse ourselves from conversing with someone we already know well in order to talk with someone we don't know.

 

Greet as a                           in Christ Jesus.

 

. . . in Christ Jesus.

 

What's so important about greeting and getting to know everyone?

 

Well, we are already united as a body in Christ around His mission.

 

We need to develop "eye-hand" coordination.

 

ILL—Nothing more amusing than watching little kids play tee-ball!

° Swing and miss a sitting ball

° Run to the wrong base

° Step with the wrong foot when throwing

° Chase a butterfly in outfield

° Hold up a glove without moving it to catch a ball

 

In sports, it is vital that the eyes and hands work together!

 

There will come times when members of a church body need to work together too!

° Decision-making

° Prayer

° Intercession

° Persecution

° Projects

° Events

° Discipleship

° Classes

° Music

° Ministry

° The unexpected

° Transition

 

Knowing every saint in our church works towards a much healthier church that can be effective in Christ's mission for us and in transitions and challenges.

 

Who all was involved in these final greetings?

 

                               of the church of Philippi.

 

Close Christians and                               there with Paul.


The brethren which are with me greet you.

 

Why would the brethren in Rome be interested in greeting them?

° Christ

° Their existing relationship in Philippi

° Their partnership with the church in Philippi

 

Notice also Paul's closeness with his companions. This is a must when it comes to ministering together in the Gospel.

 

                            there in Paul's divinely placed mission field.


All the saints (plural) salute you (singular) . . .

 

Why would the saints in Rome be interested in greeting them?

° Christ

° They were fruit of their partnership

 

Converted Roman                      servants and members of Caesar's household.


. . . chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.

 

Roman civil servants—both free and slave, possibly family of the emperor

 

Why would the saints of Caesar's household be interested in greeting them?

° Christ

° They were fruit of their partnership

° Possibly had connections due to Philippi being a Roman colony

 

                      of Christ

 

Philippians 4:23

23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

 

Grace . . . be with you all.

What grace?

 

The letter was a gift of grace from God

 

The truth of the content of the letter was grace from God

 

They needed God's grace for the ability to:

° be and live saved

° grow and bear fruit

° strive together in unity

° persevere in persecution

° humble themselves

° live for Christ

° be glorified with Christ

° obtain peace

° think rightly

° partner in the Gospel

° be content when lacking

° be supplied their needs

° give glory to God

 

Grace, God's undeserved favor and help, is needed for Christians to faithfully follow Christ.

 

Paul loved and instructed these dear saints, and He prayed God would give them the needed grace of Christ to follow this letter.

 

Otherwise, all would be in vain.


AMEN

 

Second "so be it!".

 

Paul calls Christians to stand in agreement regarding this entire letter and the need for  grace  to follow it.

 

Glory be to God! Amen.

Grace be to you! Amen.

The grace of Christ enables us to not only greet one another but also to greet our  neighbors  and  enemies  in Christian love.

 

The grace of Christ is contagious. When we receive it from Jesus, we share it with others.

 

Matthew 5:43–48

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.


May God give us the grace to love and greet one another in the church as well as to then extend that love our neighbors.

 

Remember, these greetings include affection and theology.

 

Our love and kindnesses to our neighbors should intentionally testify of Christ and His salvation.

 

Greetings and grace without Christ are merely kindnesses. Greetings and grace in Christ are powerful testimonies of His saving Gospel.

 

INVITATION & FINAL WORDS

 

If you don't know salvation found in Christ alone, let our greetings and biblical teaching today testify of your need for Christ.

 

The most affectionate greeting to be found is that of God who came and dwelt among us.

 

Why would He do that? His grace.

 

Substitutionary death and bodily resurrection.

 

Our sins condemn us, but if we will respond with repentance and faith in Jesus and His finished work, He will save us. Come to Jesus today.

 

If you know Christ's saving grace, greet the saints and our neighbors as a testimony of God's grace in you.

 

Greetings and Grace to you.

 

 

FOLLOW-UP DISCIPLESHIP

 


Read Acts 16 as a transition from Philippians to Acts. Notice Paul's testimony in Philippi. How did it reinforce the content of his letter?

 

Read all of Philippians, one chapter at a time, while asking ourselves these questions for discussion.

 

1. What are some of the themes of Philippians?

2. What is the centerpiece of Philippians? The Hymn of Christ 2:5-11

3. What are your greatest take-a-ways from 26 weeks in Philippians?

4. In what teachings of Philippians would you say our church specifically has more room for improvement?

 

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