Acts 16 relates to us the work of the apostle Paul in the founding of the church in Philippi. It began with the Lord’s direction to the apostle to not preach the word in Asia, but to go to Macedonia. Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!”(v.9). Immediately, Paul went and began the gospel ministry in Europe. In Acts 16, we read of Paul’s first visit to Philippi and the response of Lydia, the seller of purple from Thyatira, and of the conversion of the Philippian jailer. But we also read of the persecution that Paul and Silas endured, including their imprisonment and release. And though this is the extent of what we read of Paul’s ministry in Philippi, there was more to it. Both Timothy and Luke spent much time there carrying on the work after Paul left, and as well, he returned to the church, as alluded to in Acts 20. Paul had a great investment in these saints and they, in turn, showed their love to him by providing for his needs on various occasions, such as when he went to Thessalonica (4:16) and later when he departed Athens for Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:9). Now that he’s imprisoned in Rome, they again show their generosity, and that, in part, is why Paul is writing this letter to the Philippians, to thank them for their support! Truly, this is a letter of love, joy, hope and encouragement for his dear friends! And may it be so for us as we spend time looking at it this month in our devotions.
(All Scripture references this month are from the NKJV)
The author’s self-designation
“Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:1a
This opening line begins with what we would call a common form of address in letters of Paul’s day. That’s why many New Testament letters begin in this fashion. Normally what Paul does is refer to himself as an “apostle” when he begins his letters. But, as you see, he does not do that here. In fact, he refers to himself as a “bondservant”. But why? Well, it has to do with his relationship to the church in Philippi. He is writing to friends and fellow servants in the gospel and doesn’t need to remind them of his authority as an apostle. But even more, it’s to stress the nature of his calling, that he is a “bondservant”, or also translated, a “slave”, that is a slave of Christ! For Paul belongs to his Lord Jesus Christ! Because Christ bought and paid for him by His precious blood, Paul is now a thankful servant who is willing to give himself fully in the service of his Master (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Is that your desire, to live as a faithful “bondservant” of Christ? Ponder the depth of His grace to you in your redemption and then joyfully take up your calling in service to your Lord. To be sure, following Christ is not easy, but how wonderful are the rewards. May the truth of who we are in Christ, spur us on to a life of joy, good works and thankful service regardless of our circumstances!
Suggestions for prayer
Ask the Lord to create in you a servant-heart. Pray that you would grow in your devotion to Christ, being willing to serve whenever He calls and to go wherever He may direct you!
Rev. Merwin serves as minister of the Immanuel United Reformed Church of Listowel, Ontario, Canada. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.