Throughout the month of November, we are going to be in the book of Philippians, or more accurately, we will be digging into the Apostle Paul’s letter to the early church at Philippi.
It will be a sermon series, of sorts. Our second scripture reading each week will come from this epistle (letter). If you’re not able to be in worship each week in November, please don’t let this scare you away. Come when you can! Each week’s liturgy and sermon will stand fully on its own.
This week, I call your attention to the fact that Philippians is a letter. It is a letter from a specific person (Paul) to a specific group (the church at Philippi). Paul did not write to the world, but to congregations. Paul wrote specifically to those who were living and growing in Christ. There is no indication that the writer or reader of Philippians ever thought it would be published, much less as a sacred Scripture!
However, Paul did write his letters with the expectation that they would be read aloud in worship. After all, there was only one copy! Paul’s letters are personal but not private, he wrote to “all the saints.” To remember that Paul’s letters were read in an assembly of Christians is to be reminded that the congregation received his words by ear, and not by eye. Paul wrote for the ear, meaning that the contents were framed so as to be understood and remembered from having heard it. We would expect, therefore, that Paul would follow a pattern of letter writing familiar to his readers, that he would use some materials already known to them, such as hymns, confessions, and good conduct lists, and employ such rhetorical devices as would aid a listener.
That’s it for now – just a little background to get us started! If you feel inclined to dig deeper, I encourage you to read a chapter of Philippians each week, as part of your devotional or prayer life:
For November 5th – Philippians 1
For November 12th – Philippians 2
For November 19th – Philippians 3
For November 26th – Philippians 4
See you tomorrow at the church at 10am for our Church-wide Day of Service!
Yours for the journey,