Chapter 2.
Serving Saints

Philippians 1:1-2

Do you really serve the Lord with your life? Many Christians would like to say that they do this, or plan to do so someday, but when it comes to actually serving Christ, there is no fruit in their lives. They are wasting their lives away. Verses one and two deal with the importance of serving the Lord Jesus Christ.

I. The Servant—1:1a

Paul introduces himself as a "servant of Jesus Christ." The word "servant" conveys the thought of a bondslave, the purchased property of Jesus Christ. It comes from the word doulos which means "one bound to another." In ancient history, a person could become a slave in three different ways.

  1. By being conquered by an army, a person could become a slave.
  2. A person could be born into slavery if the parents were slaves.
  3. A person could become a slave because of debt. People who were poor would sometimes sell their children into slavery in order to pay their debts. If a Jewish family did this, the person was freed from slavery in the Year of Jubilee which occurred every 50 years.

When you look at the Scriptures, you will find that all people are slaves to sin in the same way people became slaves in history. The Bible says that we are born in sin.

Psalm 51:5—Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

We are slaves because we have been conquered by sin. Sin rules over us, so that we cannot do the things we know we should do. David prayed that his sins would not rule over his life and Solomon spoke of the binding power of sin.

Psalm 19:13—Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Proverbs 5:22—His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.

We are all sinners because of debt too.

Romans 6:23—For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There were several ways of becoming a slave in history and there were several ways of being freed. People could earn their freedom; they could buy it; or someone else could redeem them by paying the redemption price. When it comes to being freed from the bondage of sin, there is only one way and that way is through Jesus Christ. You cannot redeem yourself.

Titus 3:5—Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Ephesians 2:8-9— ...For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Paul was Caesar's prisoner in Rome, but he considered himself to be the prisoner of the Lord. Four times in chapter one, he refers to his "bonds," not in bitter complaint, but blessed bondage. We find no trace of despair. When Paul was saved, he surrendered at once to a new master when he said, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Though a prisoner, Paul rejoiced in the Lord and wrote this epistle. Many wonderful works were produced behind prison walls. The person in prison has plenty of time to think. Marco Polo's Travels and John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress were written behind bars.

The term "servant of Christ" describes the true position of all who have been saved. The question we want to raise at this point is "How do I serve Jesus Christ?" There are several things you can do: serve others; love people; work for God; pray for others; tell others about Christ; use your abilities for the Lord; let the Lord live His life through you, etc. God wants us to do His will and be fruitful Christians.

John 15:16—Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Any Christian who serves Christ will find in the Lord both the sufficiency and supply for serving Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:13—I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

(Our sufficiency)

Philippians 4:19—But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

(Our supply)

II. The Saints—1:1b

The word "saints" means "holy ones." It comes from the Greek word hagios which means "holy, different from other things, or set apart." Christians are different than others because they are "in Christ." Christ makes the difference in the lives of believers. Paul did not call them saints because they were perfect people. There were imperfections in this church like all other churches.

Philippians 4:2—I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

Saints at times can become unsaintly. If you have not found this out, you will. The saint belongs to God, but he is not perfect. Someday, we will be like Jesus Christ when He returns.

1 John 3:2—Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

What makes a godly Christian different than others is he is constantly aware of the presence of Jesus Christ and bases his life on that awareness. As saints, we are positionally holy (in Christ). We are required to be practically holy too. In other words, be in practice what you are in position. Be in behavior what you are in belief. Something is not right about a human being behaving like an animal or a man behaving like a small child. Nor is it right for a saint to be unsaintly.

Included with the saints are bishops and deacons. The terms bishop, elder, or pastor are all the same office.

A deacon is a servant or waiter of tables. He is to serve the Pastor and the people of the church. He does not tell the Pastor what to do or lead the church. This would be like a waiter telling the manager of a restaurant what to do.

III. The Salutation—1:2

Grace was the Greek salutation. Peace was the common Hebrew form of greeting. It is the same as our "Good morning!" Among the Greeks, the word "grace" referred to a favor done by one Greek to another out of the pure generosity of his heart and with no thought of reward. In Christian speech, grace was associated with the grace of God and our salvation. How and where do we receive the necessary supply of grace? Notice Hebrews 4:16.

Hebrews 4:16—Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

We find grace as we come to the Lord in prayer.

A Christian lacking in grace will reflect the wrong words in a wrong spirit, and be a blessing to no one. He will be unsuccessful in getting along with others. God wants us to grow in grace.

2 Peter 3:18—But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Note the order of the words in Philippians 1:2: grace and peace. There can be no peace until the sinner has been saved by divine grace. Grace comes first and then peace. If you are lacking in grace, you will lack peace. Some churches have fighting or little peace among their members simply because they are short on grace. The same truth holds for homes. Where grace is in control, their will be no fighting. Where there is peace, the fighting stops. Grace means war is impossible. Peace means the war is over.

Romans 5:1—Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

The word "peace" means "to bind together." The blood of Christ binds us to the Lord.

The life of a man named John is a beautiful picture of the grace of God. John was raised in a Christian home in England in the early years of his life. At the age of six he became an orphan and ended up living with unsaved relatives. He suffered persecution and harassment during this time. When he got older, John ran away and became an apprentice seaman in the British navy. After serving in the Navy for a period of time, he deserted and fled to Africa to live a wild lifestyle. He joined up with a Portuguese slave trader and was treated terribly in his home. When the slave trader was away, his ruthless wife would abuse John, making him eat his food off the floor like a dog. John ran away from this predicament too. He lit a signal fire on the coast and was picked up by a ship en route to England. John did not serve well on the ship. He broke into the rum, distributed it to the sailors and got drunk. He fell into the sea and almost drowned.

Toward the end of the voyage near Scotland, the ship encountered a terrible storm, was blown off course, and began to sink. John was sent down into the bottom of the ship to man the pumps. He was terrified and certain he would eventually drown. He worked the pumps for days and began to cry out to God, remembering verses he learned as a child. In that ship, he trusted Christ as his Savior. His life was transformed and John became a preacher of the Gospel. It was John Newton who wrote the song "Amazing Grace." John became a preacher of grace because he understood the grace of God in his own life. In Christ, we all have this wonderful grace. We have so much to be thankful for.

Grace is stronger than our circumstances. It is love that gives, that loves the unlovely and the unlovable.