This is an exciting month here at Wandering Wilde. After our encouraging launch of the Wisdom Journal last November, we’ve been working hard to put together the Rejoice Journal, a guided study through the book of Philippians. (You should order a copy!)
Philippians is one of my favorites. As we approach the official launch of this journal, I just wanted to share four things you should know about this letter from Paul to the church at Philippi:
1) The idea of rejoicing occurs more than 16 times in the short book of Philippians.
Philippians is often known as the “Epistle of Joy” because of Paul’s attitude in prison. Rejoicing in every circumstance and finding joy amidst trials is a major theme. Paul has every reason to be discontent and upset by the world’s standards as he’s in prison for preaching the Gospel. Despite his circumstances, he still exudes joy and thankfulness! Paul writes to those in Philippi encouraging church unity, doctrinal purity, and spiritual maturity. It’s difficult for us to grasp how faithful he was to the Lord through this as most of us haven’t experienced this kind of persecution first hand. When Paul says in Philippians 3:8, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord,” he meant every word. Can we say the same?
Because of Paul’s overwhelming attitude of rejoicing, we found it fitting to name our guided Bible study journal through the book of Philippians, “Rejoice.”
2) The book of Philippians was written by Paul during his imprisonment in Rome.
Paul was writing to the saints at Philippi, who were majority Gentiles, around AD 60-61 during his first Roman imprisonment. It’s a deeply personal letter where he expresses his love, gratitude, and care towards the Philippians. The tone of the letter contrasts some of Paul’s other letters, as in this one he is gentle and warm. It feels a lot like a thank you letter.
Knowing the context of each book we study in Scripture is so important, because knowing the who, what, where, when, and why gives a deeper perspective and more accurate interpretation as we read!
If imprisoned, would your top priority be to show joy and preach on humility, unity, and contentment? It’s incredible to me that while Paul had every earthly reason to pout, be angry, or question God’s plan, he chose to rejoice. Instead of being filled with anxiety and fear, he chose ultimate contentment and prayer. That kind of trust and confidence in the Lord is difficult to find in our world today where it is painfully easy to find something to complain about.
3) Paul ministered at Philippi during his second missionary journey and spent about three months there.
On their second missionary journey, Paul and his travel companions ended up in Philippi all because he had a vision of someone asking him to share the gospel there (Acts 16:9-10). When Paul was there, he met a woman named Lydia who was a wealthy seller of expensive purple clothing, that of which only the most important Romans wore. She invited him and his companions into her home—a place that eventually became a meeting place for the church after her and her whole household became believers. They were baptized and her home became Paul’s meeting place in Philippi. (Acts 16:11-15)
Throughout his time in Philippi, he cast out evil spirits, which caused him to be imprisoned (Acts 16:16-24). He also sang hymns and cried out to God in prayer, which led to an earthquake so violent the prison was shaken and every prisoner’s chains came loose. This led to a revival in the prison with the jailer and his family becoming saved and baptized. (Acts 25-40)
Can you even imagine a sight like this?
4) Chapter 2 contains what is to be believed as one of the early church’s very first hymns.
Philippians 2:5-11 is considered by some to be one of the most powerful interpretations of Christ himself in the entirety of the New Testament. At the start of chapter 2, Paul encourages the church to be more united and selfless, whereas verses 5-11 show the reflection of Christ as the ultimate example for believers to follow and emulate. Some refer to it as a hymn and others call it “The Messiah Poem.”
5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So where does this leave us? Let us put on the banner of Christ, let us cloak ourselves in humility, and let us find true joy and contentment regardless of our circumstances. Our worth is found in knowing our Lord Jesus Christ, not in our circumstances or daily trials. Let’s be left with the following significant scripture from Philippians 3:7-11:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Grab your copy of the Rejoice Journal, a stunning guided journal featuring beautiful hand-written lettering, original watercolor artwork, and thought-provoking questions!