The first fifteen verses of Philippians have both encouraging and convicting lessons written to the church in Philippi by Paul and Timothy. The first lesson to focus on would be the nature of joyful prayer amongst believers. Paul states, \”I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you with all joy\” (Philippians 1: 3-4, NKJV). This hints at the nature of prayer amongst believers being a repetitive, happy, willful, and humble dedication to not only remembering the believers and churches around us but also a determination to joyfully go before God on behalf of other believers and churches seeking continued blessing for their efforts and comfort for their trials. This sounds simple enough, however, there is a harsh reality in keeping this attitude of joy. Paul wrote this letter amid persecution, in verse seven he makes brief mention of his chains.
The second lesson contained within this first section of Philippians chapter 1 is the attitude and spirit in which Paul describes desiring to see the Philippians again. He talks about longing to see them with the affection of Christ. \”For God is my witness how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.\” (Philippians 1: 8, NKJV). The affection of christ is a reference to the instinctive level upon which Paul craves their company, biblically one of the most brilliant displays of this instinctive desire is the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 11-32). Where the father is so overwhelmed emotionally by the return of his son that his way of thinking is so overcome by his compassion and love, that he not only welcomes his son home but he celebrates his return.
The reasoning for the affection of Christ being internal and instinctive stems from the Greek word for affection in this location has a literal translation of inward parts, most commonly referring to the bowels, intestines, stomach or heart. This is significant due to all these parts being located in areas within the human body that have been believed to be the seat or home of emotions for an extremely long time. The stomach or gut was believed to be the seat of emotions during the time of the Old Testament.
Moving on to the third and fourth lessons contained within this section Paul discloses two important reminders. The first being that the love of Christ should overflow in great abundance as both knowledge and discernment increase (Philippians 1: 9, NKJV). The abundance and overflow of love in both knowledge and discernment have been lost by the western culture where intellect has come to claim ownership on life. And compassion can be seen hiding behind a sense of self-preservation. Western Christianity has lost the importance of acting out of compassion. I would be willing to wager that less than 30% of Christians in the United States regularly make efforts to individually offer assistance to the homeless, impoverished or unlucky, aside from donations to charity. The final lesson that Paul reveals to Christians through this chunk of Philippians is a reminder that persecution is not a symbol of despair or sorrow, but rather that it is a symbol of hope and encouragement for the continuation of the spread of the Gospel, which is Jesus Christ (Philippians 1: 14, NKJV).