Citizens: A Study on Philippians (Part 20)

November 1, 2020   /   Jesus Church

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Catch up on the series HERE


Citizens: A Colony of Heaven

Phil 4:21-23 (NIV)


Story: Are you a HELLO or GOODBYE person

Ask Michelle: I’m definitely the GOODBYE person / She a HELLO person

  • What that means: Michelle likes a big
    • “Hi – How are you”
    • “How was your day”
  • And I take forever 2 leave b/c I have to say bye to everyone 10x
    • B/C I just can’t leave without saying goodbye
    • Need to give every one there a hug – let them know I’m leaving

And when u get married… if ur a goodbye person – marry a hello person

  • If you don’t – You’ll be “THAT COUPLE” who never leaves the party
    • Because you spend 10 hours saying goodbye
    • And if you’re both hello people… you’ll make an entrance
    • When u leave its like ninja – People think something happened
  • So having a goodbye/hello person together… it’s a perfect balance

This passage is Paul’s Goodbye

He has probably been writing this letter for awhile now

  • And although Paul hopes and believes he is not done
    • He knows that Caesar could at any time kill him
    • So he’s writing these 4 heart filled Chapters to his people
  • And these last verses may be easy to brush over… but so powerful
    • B/C these last 3 verses might be most shocking ending in all NT
    • It’s easy to miss that with a brief reading (2000 years removed)

[TAG] – So lets start by looking at V.21

Phil. 4:21

It would have been normal in 1 Century to end a letter like this one

  • With a short brief ending (Health to you / GOOD LUCK)
    • And then you would sign your name
    • That was what is normal
  • But we know that Paul is anything but normal
    • B/C Pauls life completely revolves around King Jesus
    • His perspective is focused on King Jesus
    • His Paul’s hope is found in King Jesus

U see in his writing… he looks 4 every opportunity 2 talk about Jesus

Phil 1:1-2

  • That’s a lot of Jesus in the greeting alone
    • He brings up the name of Jesus 18x in the first chapter alone
  • B/C the whole letter is about Jesus
    • Live as citizens of the Gospel of King Jesus
    • Live as if Jesus was the Lord of your life
      • And now at the end of Chapter 4… he ends how he began
      • Can’t even say “hello – goodbye” w/o being all about Jesus

And like we see with Paul – When u start following Jesus with your life

  • It changes everything… This is what it means to make Jesus Lord
    • He becomes what you filter your entire life through
    • Jesus is in the first thing you say to someone (like or don’t)
    • Jesus is in the last thing you say to someone (fight/friendly)
  • And ur goal: He becomes the KING over every part of your life
    • King over your rights
    • King over your identity
    • King over your money/career/aspirations

TAG: To Paul its all Jesus… and it challenges me on what my life’s about

Phil 4:21 (And he’s very specific in how he starts this goodbye…)

And that is really important – Could have just said “Greet everyone”

  • Paul knows: Who u belong to in scripture is a BIG DEAL
    • B/C to say you are God’s people… means u are part of His story
      • The story where ur God defeated great armies
      • The story where ur God split seas in two
      • The story where ur God does the impossible over and over
  • The Phrase “God’s People” was actually a reminder of OT covenant
    • Where God tells Abraham: I’m gonna make u my special people
    • And Paul is reminding this church… this is now YOUR story
    • You come from a rich/powerful history…
  • The way they r connected to the story: By being “In Christ Jesus”
    • Which is a line we see Paul use all the time
    • According to Paul.. The only way to BECOME GOD’S PEOPLE
      • It’s the “In Christ Jesus” part
      • To come to a place of repentance.. and found in Jesus

And when u do that… you become a part of the FAMILY of God

Phil 4:21

  • And there is a subtle nuance there in the word “ALL”
    • This word doesn’t mean everyone at once… “hey everyone”
  • Paul is saying… Personally make sure every single person is greeted
    • B/C “CROWDS” is never more important than “INDIVIDUALS“
    • We as a church… can’t be ok with just being a crowd
    • Each one of you is unique… special… valuable
      • And it is our job to engage people every time we see them
      • And if u are an introvert… You don’t get a pass
  • I pray we can continue a culture – Every single one matters
    • And doing this on Sundays… that’s good
      • And come early / stay late / lunch after church
      • That is so important and has to be the norm for us
    • But that’s the tip of Iceberg… called 2 bring “all” to daily life
      • Needs to be morning Coffee/Bible Studies/Accountability

[TAG] Now up to this point… ending is very typical – Like all other letter

What Paul says next… it’s a Bombshell

(Sorta like at an Apple event – “One more thing”)

Phil 4:22

And we don’t see the significance there… but this is a huge piece of info

  • This is where if you were a Phillippian drinking your coffee
    • This is where u hear these words… spit it out of your mouth
    • And demand that the reader read it a couple more times
  • This would have been like… seriously?! THEE CAESAR?!?!
    • Keep in mind – Caesar is the guy who threw Paul in prison
    • Caesar is the guy killing and persecuting Christians
  • This not an insignificant detail… Paul does this on purpose (smart)
    • At the end of letter he saves the most encouraging part for last
    • Oh by the way… we now have Xians on the inside
    • Xians who have the ear of the most powerful man in the world
      • That is hope for people who need to hear it

Why its such a big deal comes w/ understanding of Roman households

  • How they worked is very different from American households
    • Even the idea of “FAMILY” is culturally different today & then
    • We think of family: Mom/Dad/Kids/Grandparents/Crazy Uncle
  • Family was used totally different in the first century
    • The idea of your family/household was sorta like a pyramid
      • Top of Household: Paterfamilias (Father – House)
      • Under him was: Materfamilias (Mother – House)
      • Next you had: Sons & Daughters
      • Then beside/beneath were: Clients (Do work/business for)
      • Under them were: Freedmen
      • And Under them you had: Slaves
  • All considered Family: Already way more complexed than today

But those at the bottom… most slaves ended up becoming freedmen

  • B/C of how Roman law was setup – Freedom was very attainable
    • When you became a freedman you became a Roman citizen
    • You were free as part of household to partner w/ Paterfamilias
      • In his business… and could become one of his clients
  • Really promoted good relationships b/w head of house and slaves
    • B/C for the father of the house… these became biz patners
    • For the slave… this was their future means of building a future
  • Would end up making your living in the family business if u want
    • So if u were a slave in a wealthy/influential household
    • Moment u were free… u could become very powerful/wealthy
      • And when you had children… born into that household
      • They were free Roman citizens of influence and power
  • Why Paul always would say: You & your household will be saved

So why is it SO important… If there are Xians in the household of Caesar

  • It’s not just the wife or uncle or teenage kid rebelling against dad
    • No… these are the business partners of Caesar
    • Those who represent him to the entire Roman Empire
    • This is Caesar Household

Phil 1:13 (And we think at least some of those are the Royal Guard)

  • These were actual clients of Caesars household
    • And we believe that Paul brings some of them to Jesus
    • And things spread from there to others
    • From the freedmen and slaves… clients… sons & daughters…
  • And these men & women now worshiping Jesus
    • Have kids of their own born into Caesar’s family – loving Jesus
    • And this tiny little hole of Gospel: Gods about to explode thru
  • Historically it did… to where the emperor himself finds Jesus
    • Constantine coverts to Xianity in the year 300 AD
    • It brings this seed from Paul centuries earlier to fruition

Point: Never underestimate the power of Jesus to do the impossible

  • God has a way to reach those u feel are impossible to reach
    • Even the most least likely people in the world
    • God is right now speaking 2 them… calling them…
      • Regardless of how far they seem… how much they hate
      • God is ready and willing to welcome them into his family
  • Even a Caesar who is trying to stomp out the Gospel thru murder
    • Which ironically causes the gospel is flourish and grow more
    • Which from the persecution in Acts to today in China is still true
  • You cannot stop the Gospel of Jesus…
    • And you cannot give up hope on God’s pursuit of ur loved ones
    • For God never stops pursuing… he never gives up
    • Even on someone as powerful as Caesar

And its not easy… especially when we deal w/ life too

I mean – Look at Paul… it’s amazing how he does it

  • Persecuted in prison – Constantly hungry (hangry)
    • Yet he is not only dealing with it
    • He is reflecting Jesus to others who are keeping him in prison
  • Because its one thing to keep your faith thru hard times
    • Its another thing to share your faith thru hard times
    • And accurately reflect Jesus when ur life is a mess
  • I think the next verse is the continuation of that thought process
    • How do I not just love Jesus but live out Jesus in my prison

Phil. 4:23

That’s how Paul ends the letter… 1st this bombshell > don’t forget grace

  • And if you remember – Grace is also how Paul starts the letter
    • How do you live thru the dark times
    • How do you advance the kingdom thru pain
    • How do you not just survive… but thrive in the storm
  • Everything we do has to start with grace and end with grace

Grace: Gk – Karis: Grace or Gift

Gordon Fee (And while we understand grace like this definition)

The sum total of God’s activity towards his human creatures is found in the word ‘Grace’. God has given himself to his people bountifully and mercifully in Christ. Nothing is deserved, nothing can be achieved.

And this is true – But there is WAY MORE to it than that

  • Today people say “Hey I didn’t get it done… show me some grace”
    • As in we slacked off and don’t want to pay the consequence
    • But to Paul – Grace is way more than unmerited favor
  • And it has to be if its the key to the mission of Jesus all the time

1 Cor 15:10

Grace here wasn’t just an acceptance of God deep inside me

  • Grace here is POWER to work – “I worked harder than all of them”
    • Meaning the Apostles: Peter… James… John
    • What gave him the power to do it – Paul says it was grace

2 Tim 2:1-6

  • And then he gives examples of what grace looks like
    • It means to fight like a SOLDIER
    • It means to compete, train and exercise like an ATHLETE
    • It means u work hard, get up early, plant crops like a FARMER
  • Theological Grace: Empowering presence of God deep inside you
    • It’s the presence BY the SPIRIT
    • It’s the power of God deep inside you


Grace is the Divine energy working in the soul

My point is that a full understanding of GRACE is what we need

  • “Unmerited Favor” is powerful… but grace is empowering as well
    • And if the empowerment of the H.S. is what u start/end with
    • You can reflect Jesus well in every circumstance
  • This is where the hope is… the power is… the ability is
    • It’s the grace of God
      • Before you… after you
      • With you.. in you… thru you…

And its amazing… Been in this letter 5 months now

And it was a letter written from a pastor to the church he was a part of

  • In the spirit of Philippians… I wanted to write u a letter
    • For the record… this is not God Breathed (Aaron Breathed)
    • This isn’t authoritative… not the Bible
  • But I’ll read it out loud… take a moment and breath it in

To all God’s people in Phoenix, to the young and old, the new Xian and the seasoned, to the athlete, the musician, the gamer, the hiker, the crafter, the cook, the reader and everyone in between. To the business owner, the employee, the retired, the college student and the stay at home mom… to those here and online, even in places like the Washington, Minnesota and even around the world in places like the Mexico and the Philippines… and to every last one of you that make up our family and this city…

Grace and Peace

By grace I don’t just mean unmerited favor, I mean the empowering presence of God. Oxygen in your lungs, filling you up with joy and overflowing into our city and world.

And by peace, I don’t just mean the absence of conflict, like that’s gonna happen. I mean so much more. I mean a deep sense that God is with you, that He is on the throne and it is going to be ok because King Jesus is going to put it all back together.

Now to start things off, I want you to know that every time I think about you, I thank God for you. I can’t believe that I get to be a part of this church. I know we are still growing and figuring things out, we are no different than anyone else, but you guys are the real deal. I have never seen a more Jesus loving, passionate, accepting, caring, and authentic church than you, and I love you.

I’m with Paul when he said “In all my prayers for you I always pray with Joy because of your partnership in the Gospel.” That is what we are, partners. We are in this together. I know its been a long hard year, but we have seen Jesus lifted up, people give their lives to the Lord, community engagement, a deeper level of worship, both in song, word and deed.

We have banded together through some uncertain times, having to find ways of connection that go beyond face to face on a Sunday, but we have also learned to value being face to face like never before. I pray we will never take for granted the gathering of our community because for most of us, we have never know what is like not to be able to meet. But we have grown through all of this and are becoming more like Jesus. More of us are desiring and seeking out community, not just on Sundays at church, but Monday’s at coffee shops, Tuesdays for lunch, Wednesdays for Bible studies… and so on.

The line Paul gives us that “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”, like Paul I am confident that the same creator God who spoke the world into existence is at work in this church and in this city and HE IS NOT DONE. There is still so much to do and so many who need to see and experience the hope that only comes through Jesus.

We are going to see that happen. And I know it will happen through relationships, relationships at home, at school, at work, and in ur neighborhoods, because its not about the guy up on the stage on the weekend, its about the Spirit of Jesus in you on the streets of this city. You have what it takes, you have the power of the Holy Spirit to see your neighborhood wake up to the gospel of Jesus. Jesus is in you and that life is far more infectious than any fear the world can try and put on us.

The best is yet to come… but we have to stay humble. It is the only way for us to stay unified, on the same page, effective for Jesus. Don’t forget Paul’s words… “Let nothing be done out of selfish ambition or vein conceit, rather in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” We can’t let this become about personalities or preferences. We can’t be consumers, this is not about you or me. This is about Jesus at work in and through his people. We have to become givers, a self giving community, just like we see in God, giving himself through the gift of Jesus. And when I say givers, I don’t just mean giving our money (although generosity is important for this movement to keep growing) but we need to give more than that. We need to give our time, our presence and attention to our co-workers, family, friends. Those who know Jesus as their savior but especially those who don’t. We have to give all that we are and it isn’t going to be easy. Jesus said that upfront… but it is going to be worth it.

My plan is to spend the rest of my life in this city, shoulder to shoulder with you, working for the Kingdom to come. Are you in for that.

To close here is the most important thing. We have to stay focused on Jesus. What we think about matters. Paul made that clear when he said, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble whatever is right, whatever is pure… you know the list. Our mind should be filled up with all that is good and beautiful in the world. Paul is calling you and me to look out on the world and celebrate God in all creation. We should be the people who celebrate. I want to be like Paul who can be in prison and not only be content, but also have joy. Because contentment and joy aren’t found in what you have, what you can afford, a better living situation, or a spouse. It is found in the king and what could be more good and beautiful than Jesus. He is good, true, noble, right, he is life in flesh and blood. Anything else, no matter how good is SCUBALON. It’s a word I can’t say in church. It is nothing compared to knowing Jesus, and we need to stay focused, border line obsessed with Jesus because he is what this church is all about.

And as Paul ends, so will I: May the grace (empowering presence) of the Lord Jesus, the king of the world be with your Spirit. Amen.


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