June 28, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Philippians 3-4
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Context: In chapter 3, Paul reiterates a common theme in his writings: we cannot earn God's approval. Salvation cannot be obtained through works. Paul uses himself as an example. He was born into the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Pharisee and upheld the law. He was circumcised. None of it was enough! Salvation, everlasting, eternal salvation, can only be obtained through Christ. Paul focuses his earthly life on his eternal life. Above all else, Paul wanted an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Such a relationship must be worked for every day. In chapter 4, Paul sets the precedent for mediation within the church. He is likely addressing a specific problem of which he was informed. Paul also exhorts the church to pray continually. Finally, Paul delicately addresses the gift sent to him by the church. Paul, as a rule, does not accept gifts from churches so as not to be a burden on them. Instead of focusing on the gift, Paul addresses the attitude behind the gift, but also lets the church know how thankful he is for the gift during his time of need. Paul ends his letter with his traditional final greeting.
World History: Paul looks to his "loyal yokefellow" to help with the mediation within the church. Scholars argue over the exact meaning of this word. The exact definition means true comrade or companion. It is unclear to whom Paul was specifically referring, although many guesses have been made. No matter who, those to whom he was writing clearly understood his message and today we can understand that Paul meant for the matter to be handled within the church. The church at Philippi had a special and close relationship with Paul.