Philippians 4: 4-14 – The World of the Text, Part One

rootedchristThis week, with our them being celebration and joy, we are looking at one of the more joyous passages in all the Bible, Philippians 4: 4-14.  Today we’ll look at the World of the Text, what is this passage actually saying?

Paul’s letters have several features to them, but many have beautiful songs of praise to Jesus, they will answer specific questions that the church has written him about, he may scold them for things that they are not doing or not doing right, he’ll have theological explanations of what we believe as Christians, and normally towards the end of each letter, he’ll have practical advice for living the Christian life.  This week’s passage has some of the best advice of any of his letters.  And this week’s passage has two verses that many of us know, but have probably never really looked at in context.

First, we see Paul’s called to rejoice in all things.  This is important because remember Paul is in prison, most likely in Rome.  He is not telling us to rejoice in when things are always easy, quite the opposite. He’s telling us to rejoice even things are hard and difficult. Rejoice, always.

Then we come to a verse that we need to see in context.  Paul says that the peace that passages all understanding will guard our hearts.  In other words, God’s great peace will guard us, keep us, protect us. We can have peace at all times and in all places.  We can know peace.  But, how do we get that peace?  By prayer and supplication, and thanksgiving!, we give our requests to God.  Then the peace will come. The peace of God does not randomly fall down from heaven.  We pray about it.  We give it to God.  We let go of it through prayer, then the peace comes.  We’ll unpack this more in the world in front of the text this week, but until we pray about it, we won’t have peace about it.

We’ll unpack the rest of this passage’s world of the text this week, but tomorrow we’ll have a brief detour, it’s Ash Wednesday, so enjoy your Fat Tuesday today, and tomorrow we’ll talk about what Ash Wednesday and Lent can mean to our faith. Thursday we’ll pick back up with our text.

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