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The Greeting (Phil. 1:1-2)

Lesson Two

Victor M. Eskew




A.   “The opening greetings of Paul’s letters were not meant to be glazed over by his readers.  Instead, these brief salutations communicate the apostle’s love and concern for the people of God.  Furthermore, the language is often loaded with deep theological content.  A relational triangle is established between Paul, the church, and God (A Commentary on Philippians, Stewart, p. 131).


B.   The pattern of writing is from A to B greeting.  When an inferior was writing to a superior, the form of writing would be to A from B (this is the inferior).


I.          THE AUTHORS


A.   Paul

1.     This greeting indicates that the author of the letter is Paul.

2.    Paul was the apostle’s Greco-Roman name and means “little man.”

3.     Saul was his Hebrew name.  This name means “desired” (Thayer, e-sword).

4.    By the time of this writing, Paul had been a Christian for almost 30 years.  When he penned this letter, he was an “old man” (Phile. 9).


Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.


B.   Timotheous

1.     Timotheous is the transliteration of the Greek word.  Timothy is the pronunciation of the name in the English language.

2.    Meaning:  It is the combination of two words:  “honor” and “God.”  Thus, Timothy means:  “one who honors God.”

3.     Timothy is mentioned in conjunction with Paul is the case in six of the apostle’s letters (II Cor. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:1; I Thess. 1:1; II Thess. 1:1; Phile. 1:1).

4.    Timothy obeyed the gospel on Paul’s first missionary journey to Lystra.  On Paul’s second journey, he recruited Timothy to go with him (Acts 16:1-3).


Him would Paul have to go with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters:  for they knew all that his father was a Greek.


5.    Timothy was with Paul when the church in Philippi was founded.

6.    Timothy may have served Paul as a scribe in writing the Philippian epistle (See Rom. 16:22 and I Peter 5:12).



C.   The servants of Jesus Christ

1.     It is interesting that Paul does not refer to himself as an apostle in this letter as he does in many of his other letters (Rom. 1:1; I Cor. 1:1, II Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1; I Tim. 1:1; II Tim. 1:1; Tit. 1:1). 

a.    Why?  It could be that he knew this church already respected his authority as an apostle.

b.    He also omits his apostolic authority in I and II Thessalonians and Philemon.

2.    Servants:

a.    The word can be translated “slaves.”

1)     Paul and Timothy had been bought with a price (I Cor. 6:20).

2)    “Their slavery was a labor of love, a thankful response to the Savior who had given everything to them” (Stewart, 134).

3)     Paul and Timothy were both slaves.  They were on equal footing before the cross of Christ.

b.    Paul used it in other places to describe himself (Rom. 1:1; II Cor. 4:5; Gal. 1:10).

c.    The word has negative connotations of humility, submission, and subser-vience. 

d.    Two dimensions of the word:

1)     Slaves had no autonomy; they subjected their will to the will of another.

a)    This emphasized that Paul and Timothy were not doing things on their own initiative for the Lord (Gutzke, 9).

b)    As the Lord’s servants, ‘They only wanted to do what the Lord wanted them to do’” (Gutzke, 9).

2)    “Another dimension of the word bond-servant describes men who were commissioned by the Lord for extraordinary tasks.

a)    Paul was the one who was called by God to spread the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15-16; 26:16-18).

b)    Timothy had joined Paul in that special calling.

3.     Of Jesus Christ

a.    Jesus was the Master of these two servants.

b.    Jesus

1)     Jesus is the personal name of the Savior.

2)    The Greek equivalent to the Hebrew name Joshua.

3)     Meaning:  the Lord saves

4)    This divinely given name signified the purpose of the Master’s coming (Matt. 1:21).


And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS:  for he shall save his people from their sins.


c.    Christ

1)     Meaning:  anointed one

2)    In the OT, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed for service.

a)    Jesus is a prophet (Acts 3:22; 7:37).

b)    Jesus is a priest (Heb. 2:17; 4:14-16).

c)    Jesus is a king (Rev. 17:14; 19:16).




A.   To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi

1.     “The word ‘all’ occurs frequently in the book….This first occurrence sets the stage for his later plea for unity (1:27; 2:1-4; 4:2-3).  None of the believers are excluded from his admonitions” (Stewart, 135-136).

2.    Saints

a.    Paul uses this term frequently in his greetings (Rom. 1:7; I Cor. 1:2; II Cor 1:1; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:2).

b.    Meaning of the word:

1)     Holy ones

2)    The concept extends back to ancient Israel when the term “holy” carried the idea of being separate.  “Israel had been chosen from the nations to refrain from evil and be set apart for God’s own purpose (Ex. 19:5-6; Lev. 11:45; Dt. 7:6; 16:19; Dan 7:18)” (Stewart, 136).

3)     The church is now the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16; I Pet. 2:9-10).  Her  members have been set apart for God’s special purpose (Rom. 6:3-4; I Cor. 6:19; Gal. 3:26-27).

c.    In Christ Jesus

1)     This is a spiritual location to which one is transferred upon his obedience to the gospel (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27; Col. 1:13).

2)    Robertson refers to it as “the centre for all Christian relations and activities for Paul and for us” (e-sword).

3)     It is a saved relationship with Jesus.

4)    “’In Christ Jesus’ emphasizes that this special standing with God is only possible through Christ” (Stewart, 136).

d.    At Philippi

1)     All the believers who constituted the church in the Roman colony of Philippi.

2)    The church was well over a decade old when Paul wrote this epistle.


B.   With the bishops and deacons

1.     Philippians is the only letter that contains a greeting specifically to church leaders.

2.    He states “with” or “including” the bishops and deacons.  “In this verse, however, he simply points out that the ‘overseers and deacons’ are distin-guished from the rest of the church, while at the same time being part of the church” (Stewart, 137)  See I Thess. 5:12


And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.


3.     Bishops

a.    A very common term to the ancient world:  public officials, secret police, temple officials, and building inspectors used the term.

b.    Definition of bishop

1)     “It is an old word from episkeptomai, to look upon or after, to inspect, so the overseerer or superintendent” (Robertson, e-sword).

2)    Porter:  “…a custodian whose primary duty…was to see that the society functioned.”

c.    Elders were found in the church in Jerusalem (Acts 11:30; 15:2) and on Paul’s first missionary journey elders were ordained in all the churches (Acts 14:23).  Since the church at Philippi was established on the second missionary journey, Paul may have had something to do with it organization.

d.    NOTE:  There is a plurality of bishops overseeing this congregation.  A hierarch within the eldership did not exist in the first century. 

1)     The only head guardian over the churches was Jesus Himself (I Pet. 2:25).


…but now are returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.


2)    In the second century episcopos (Ignatius) came to mean one superior to elders, but not in the New Testament (Robertson, e-sword).

4.    Deacons

a.    Definition

1)     The etymology (dia, konis) suggests raising a dust by hastening (Robertson, e-sword).

2)    Servants:

a)    A humble servant (Matt. 20:26)

b)    A waiter at a meal (John 2:5, 9)

c)    Those who engage in the preaching the gospel (I Cor. 3:5; II Cor. 6:4; 11:23; Col. 1:7; 4:7).

3)     Men holding a special office in the church to take care of the needs in the local congregation (See I Tim. 3:8-13).




A.   Grace be unto you, and peace

1.     This was a common greeting in all of Paul’s epistles (Rom. 1:7; I Cor. 1:3; II Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:2; Eph. 1:2; Col. 1:2; I Thess. 1:1; II Thess. 1:2; Phile. 1:3).  Sometimes he includes “mercy” (I Tim. 1:2; II Tim. 1:2).

2.    Grace

a.    The free, spontaneous, unmerited love of God to sinful humanity

b.    “It is God’s attitude toward mankind, prompting Him to do for man what man needs, but what man cannot earn, and does not deserve” (Gutzke, 10).

3.     Peace

a.    The absence of strife, also, safety, health, and prosperity

b.    Peace is the result of receiving God’s mercy.


B.   From God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ

1.     God our Father

a.    This expression recognizes the new birth.  He is our Father because we are born again (Gutzke, 11).

b.    Believers have been adopted into the family of God and share in the Father’s inheritance as sons (Gal. 4:1-7).

c.    The word “Father” points to God’s authority, provision, and nurture.

2.    Lord Jesus Christ

a.    The word “Lord” appears 15 times in the epistle.

b.    Jesus Christ is the ultimate Ruler over all the rulers of the world (I Cor. 8:6; Rev. 17:14; 19:16).