Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the elders and deacons: 2) Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3) I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4) always in my every prayer for all of you making request with joy, 5) for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6) being confident of this very thing, that He Who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7) even as it is good for me to think this of all of you, because I have you in my heart; since both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace. 8) For God is my witness, how greatly I long after you all in the bosom of Jesus Christ.
9) And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10) that you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11) being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Paul, along with Timothy send this letter to Philippi. Although Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ, he does not use this title when writing this letter. He places himself on the same level as the young evangelist. It is a wonderful lesson in humility and meekness. It is also a lesson on the equality that exists among those who were inspired of God, as well as among brethren. There was a difference in authority and position, but no difference before God as some want to make between clergy and laity. Such a distinction was unknown in the New Testament.
The letter is addressed to the saints in Philippi. All Christians are saints, or they are not Christians. The word means "one who is holy." It is a reference to the conduct of the disciples, as well as to their election (being set apart for the service of God). [See our discussion of the Names of the church.]
Along with the saints, the letter is addressed to the elders and deacons of the church. Every church should have elders (more than one). They are also known as pastors, bishops, overseers, presbyters, shepherds -- depending on the verse and the version being used. [See our discussion of the Organization of the church.]
The greeting, or salutation, was for the grace and peace from above to be theirs. Grace is the unmerited favor, the gift, God has given to us through the blood sacrifice of His Son on the cross which grants to us the hope of eternal life in heaven. The peace that passes all understanding is the result of the knowledge and acceptance of His loving grace. Paul will go on to discuss this further in chapter 4.
God is the heavenly Father of all who have put on Christ. It is a picture of one who cares for and cares about his children.
Jesus is both Lord and Christ -- both Master and Messiah. Christ is Greek for "anointed one," as Messiah is Hebrew for "anointed one."
Paul's memories of Philippi, and especially of the brethren there were very pleasant. With joy, he remembered them in his prayers asking they would be faithful until Jesus came again. The fellowship, the support, which they had provided for Paul, from the beginning of their walk as Christians until now, brought joy to Paul's heart. They had shown their love for Paul, and endeared themselves to him, since they had been with him, whether in bonds or free, both defending and confirming the gospel. Because they were partners with him in what he did, they were also partners with him in the grace he received.
Notice, Paul both defended and extended the gospel: and the saints at Philippi supported him in both. It is necessary to defend the gospel, and to support those who do. It is also necessary to extend the gospel, and to support those who do. It is sad to see those who are willing to defend the gospel, but unwilling to extend it. As it is equally sad to see those who are willing to extend the gospel, but unwilling to defend it. Philippi becomes an example of the support that should be given to all preachers of the gospel, whether they are extending or defending the gospel. It is sad to see the way that preachers have to beg for Christians and churches to support the spread and defense of the gospel.
God knew the love that Paul had for the Philippians. He loved them as brethren in Christ who had the same love for the gospel and for Christ as he did.
Paul prayed that the Philippians might grow in love: gaining more knowledge and better judgment to know what they might approve of in all sincerity without stumbling. Their love was to be for God, for Christ and for the truth. Their love would spur them to gain in knowledge. Their knowledge of the gospel (of the revealed word of God, as we have it in the New Testament) would give them the wisdom to know what was right and what was wrong. This would allow them, in good conscience, to approve the right things, without making mistakes, or stumbling.
The same is true for us. We must love the truth. We must gain in knowledge, so that we can make sure that we approve of the correct things, and not stumble.
With the growth in knowledge and wisdom, the brethren at Philippi could be preserved till Jesus comes again, or the day of judgment. They would be preserved by the “fruits of righteousness” that instruction in the gospel would bring. It would allow them to be fruitful in the works of God, keeping them in the grace of God. These good works would be their light, giving glory to God through Jesus Christ.
Matthew 5:14-16: You are the light of the world. A city that is set upon a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.