If you are going through times of pressure and trial, I urge you to read this little letter.
It will encourage you greatly, especially if you remember it was written by Paul as he was chained to a Roman soldier awaiting trial.
A devotion introduction for March
We want to begin our studies in the book of Philippians. I consider this the most delightful epistle of the New Testament. There is a wonderful note of joy and thanksgiving that runs through this entire epistle, and yet as you know this is one of the so-called
prison epistles written while Paul was a prisoner. It was written to the saints at Philippi. If you have an atlas you will find it was a Roman colony situated up in the area anciently called Macedonia. It was the first place Paul preached the gospel in Europe. You remember the thrilling account in the sixteenth chapter of Acts, of Paul and Silas as they came into Macedonia, in answer to the Macedonian call. They ultimately ended up in a prison cell, where in the dead of the night they were singing praises to the Lord and an earthquake came and shook loose the prison walls and they were delivered. As someone has well put it, the gospel first entered Europe in a sacred concert which was so successful it brought down the house. So we have a tremendously interesting background to this letter to the Philippians.
We probably know more about Philippi than any church, and the apostle was writing from there as a prisoner awaiting trial. We have the background of this letter from his standpoint in the closing chapter of the book of Acts. In the sixteenth verse of chapter 28, Luke tells us
when we came into Rome Paul was allowed to live by himself, with a soldier to guard him. Luke doesn't tell us this, but we know from Roman custom that the soldier was chained to the apostle. The guard was changed about three times a day and the apostle was never allowed to be more than a chain's length away from the soldier who guarded him. But Luke also tells us Paul lived those two years at his own expense, welcoming all who came to him, and preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered in the prison. Though he was fettered and guarded and watched continuously, nevertheless he had a relative degree of freedom that permitted him to have his friends in, to have his own home. In that setting he wrote this letter to the church at Philippi.
Lord, what a marvelous reminder of the peace You alone give us, not conditional or circumstantial, but wholly dependent on Your presence within us. Thank you for Paul's faithfulness from a place where he could have as easily simply quit. May I find strength and confidence in You alone, in whatever place You may lead me, as I study through this letter to the Philippians. In your Son's Name. Amen.