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LESSON 13: CONCLUSION: THE NEED TO BE GREGARIOUS
by Dr. Fred Wittman
“21Greet every saint in Christ Jesus! The brothers together with me greet you&. 22All the saints greet you &, but especially the+ ones of the Kaísahr’s dwelling. 23The grace of The Lord of ours, Jesus Christ |be| with you& all. Amen!” (Phil. 4:21-23).
Paul, the apostle and first foreign missionary was in prison at Rome in A.D. 62. In those days prisoners had to provide their own sustenance. The church at Philippi had communicated with Paul and sent a practical monetary gift via their pastor, Epaphroditus. This Epistle to the Philippians is a letter of thanks for their prolonged fellowship in The Gospel. Paul addressed his Epistle to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi. In his closing remarks he again indicated his interest in all the Philippians and demonstrated a gregarious attitude setting an example for us all to be friendly, sociable, and inclusive in our associations with fellow saints in Christ Jesus everywhere.
There is a tendency to react negatively to certain types of individuals and to avoid them as much as possible. Some find it difficult to associate freely with certain others because of race, social background, social environment, or level of education. There are those with reserved personalities who will not greet others unless first greeted by them. We all need to develop a gregarious attitude toward all those of like precious faith. If we are to obey Christ’s command to “love one another” we must follow Paul’s example and demonstrate genuine concern for one another and display a gregarious attitude as Paul demonstrated it.
I. THE NEED TO BE GREGARIOUS IN RELATING GREETINGS (vs. 21,22).
“Greet every saint in Christ Jesus! The brothers together with me greet you&” (v. 21).
A. Impartial Regards (v.21).
To be gregarious is to be friendly, sociable, and inclusive, tending to associate with others of one’s kind, thus all other saints. Paul included each and every saint at Philippi both in his final greetings and in his opening salutation (1:1). Throughout his Epistle he included them all. His repeated use of second person plural reflects his intention to be all inclusive and could well be translated with the cliche of our deep south in U.S.A., ‘y’all.’ This repeated use of every or all demonstrates a gregarious attitude. Paul showed no favoritism. He loved all the saints. He prayed for all the saints. He greeted all the saints. He included everyone and excluded no one. His expression of impartial regard indicates his concern for all equally alike. As true children of The God we all belong to His family. The God has shed abroad His love in our hearts (Rom.5:5). “Now the hope does not cause utter shame because the love[sovereign preference for another over self and others] of The God is poured out in our /hearts by The Holy Spirit, The One given to us” (Rom. 5:5 APT). We are to love every other child of The God even as He loves each one of us alike (1 John 4:11; 5:1), without partiality (1 Tim.5:21; James 2:1-4,9) and without favoritism.
“11O beloved+ ones, if (and it is true) The God so loved[sovereignly preferred over self and others] us, we ourselves also are continually legally obligated to love[sovereignly prefer over self and others] one another continually. . . . 1Everyone who is continually committing trust that Jesus is The Christ stands begotten of The God and everyone who is continually loving[sovereignly preferring over self and others] The+ One |Who| begat is also continually loving[sovereignly preferring over self and others] the+ one standing begotten of Him” (1 John 4:11; 5:1 APT).
“21I earnestly bid |you$| in the presence of The God and 0Lord, Jesus Christ and the elect angels, that you$ guardedly protect these~ things apart from prejudice, doing not one~ thing according to partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21 APT).
“1O my brothers! Stop having the faith of The Lord of ours, Jesus Christ of The Glory, with respect[De. 1:17] of persons! 2For if (and it may happen) a man, a gold ring on his finger, enter into the congregation[synagogue] of yours& in shining apparel, but also a poor+ one in filthy apparel enter 3and you& look upon the+ one wearing the shining /apparel and you& say to him, You$ yourself be sitting here well! And you& say to the poor+ one, You$ yourself stand there |at once|! or, Be sitting here at my /footstool! 4You& even discriminated among yourselves and you& became judges with wicked reasonings, did you& not? . . . 9But if (and it is true) you& show respect of persons, you& of yourselves are working sin and are being convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:1-4,9 APT).
This same gregarious attitude prevailed in all those brethren who associated with Paul in the ministry. They wanted to greet the saints at Philippi also. They requested Paul to include greetings from them with his greetings. They too had regard for their fellow saints.
B. Impressive Regards (v.22).
Paul made a distinction between ‘the brethren with me’ and ‘all the saints.’ Those brethren who labored with Paul sent greetings separately. All the saints at Rome who learned that Paul was communicating to the Philippian church expressed their salutation to be forwarded to Philippi. But there is something impressive about ‘especially those of Kaísahr’s household.’ This indicates a special link between the citizens of Rome in the Philippian colony and those of the imperial family with their slaves and freemen who are also of the family of The God. F. F. Bruce (Good News Bible Commentary, p.133) has presented an interesting explanation of those to whom Paul possibly referred by alluding to Rom.16:10,11, the families of Aristobulus and Narcissus. Historical research and speculation have ascribed prominence among imperial slaves and political relations to these families. Whoever they were, Paul’s special mention of their regard for their brethren is impressively gregarious.
II. WITH RESPECT TO GRACE (vs. 2,3).
“22All the saints greet you&, but especially the+ ones of the Kaísahr’s dwelling. 23The grace of The Lord of ours, Jesus Christ |be| with you& all. Amen!” (vs. 2,3)
Paul concludes his Epistle by crowning it with proffered grace.
A. Benediction-- Invocation Of God’s Blessing.
In this final statement of his Epistle Paul invoked God’s blessing upon the saints at Philippi. Some manuscripts contain the words ‘your spirit’ instead of ‘you all.’ Either rendering carries the same intention. Paul desired that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which includes and conveys all of The God’s blessing would be with (in the midst of) them. This would be in the realm of the spirit. In one sense this is Paul's concluding prayer for their blessing. Again he included each and every one.
B. Benefaction--Intention Of God’s Bounty.
The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ exudes with The God’s bounty (2 Cor.8:9). Paul intended that the bountiful blessings of God should be theirs. He experienced the fullness of the grace of Christ and delighted to share the blessings of such bountifulness with all God’s people. He ended his Epistle to the Corinthians, to the Galatians, and to Philemon (Feeláymohn) the same way. The desire of his heart was that others enjoy the bounty of The God’s blessing. Amen!
III. REVIEWING THE ATTITUDES - EXPRESSED IN THE EPISTLE
Throughout this Epistle Paul has drawn attention to those attitudes which are essential in the life of the regenerated disciple in order to produce fruit for The God’s glory. Before concluding the study of Philippians, a review of these Essential Attitudes for Productive Christian Living is expedient.
A. Confidence in Prayer
Paul demonstrated an attitude of confidence in prayer in 1:3-11. He expected God to work in the lives of those to whom he preached and for whom he prayed. He expected God to answer prayer and eventually release him from prison. We can expect The God to answer prayer and work in the lives of those to whom our missionaries preach. It is an attitude of confidence in prayer that enables the work of Christ to progress and advance. That confidence upholds the missionaries in discouraging times because they know that The God will finish the work He has begun. Such an attitude of confidence in prayer is essential for the effective spread of The Gospel.
B. Confidence in Proclaiming The Gospel.
Paul instilled an attitude of confidence in the proclamation of The Gospel in the hearts of his readers in 1:12-30. He rejoiced that The Gospel was preached whether by antagonists or co-laborers. He was confident that he would be released to minister again to the Philippians. He was confident that their partnership in The Gospel with him would be productive in the fight against their enemies and adversaries as they endured affliction for the sake of The Gospel. Such an attitude of confidence is vital to overcome the attacks of the adversary and reinforce fellowship in The Gospel.
C. Humility in Disposition.
Paul presented The Lord Jesus Christ as a perfect example of an attitude of humility in disposition. Unity in the local church depends upon the same humility in disposition that Christ displayed. Without humility pride, division, contention, and strife develop in the local church. The God rewards humility but He resists the proud.
D. Joy in Usefulness.
Paul described the attitude of joy in usefulness in 2:12-18. Murmurings and disputings or questionings hinder usefulness and joy. There is great joy in serving Christ now and rejoicing in the Day of Christ. There must be corporate effort in the local church. Every effort must be made to work together to have unity and to get out The Gospel of Christ to a lost generation. There is joy over one soul who comes to Christ not only in heaven but also on earth. There is joy indeed in usefulness.
E. Responsibility in Service.
Paul illustrated an attitude of responsibility in service with the examples of Timothy and Epaphroditus in 2:19-30. Both men considered Christ’s interest first before their own interests. Each had a genuine care and concern for the spiritual welfare of others and the work of Christ. Such demonstration of an attitude of responsibility of service is required to fill the gaps in the work of The Lord today.
F. Persistence in Devotion.
An attitude of persistent godly devotion was demonstrated by Paul since his conversion which is contrasted with ungodly devotion before his conversion in 3:1-16. He exhorted his readers to keep their minds focused on persistent godly devotion and keep walking straight in line with the pattern set by Paul himself. To overcome distraction that will disrupt persistent godly devotion set your love on Christ, concentrate on the goal, and determine to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings in order to be made conformable to His death.
G. Anticipation of Glory.
An attitude of anticipation of glory is a determining factor between professors and possessors in the church which attitude is reflected by the walk of each one. Those who anticipate glory live as citizens of Heaven. Their life style is in glaring contrast with that of professors. They live pure and holy lives. The Lord Jesus Christ and His church is kept in priority as we wait for Him to come from Heaven. Such attitudes are presented in 3:17-21.
H. Faithfulness in The Lord.
Paul appealed for an attitude of steadfast faithfulness in the Lord in 4:1-3. He addressed several individuals to cooperate together to demonstrate faithfulness in restoring unity. This attitude of faithfulness is manifest in seeking to resolve differences with others and between others.
I. Peacefulness through Prayer.
Paul explained how an attitude of peacefulness can be maintained through prayer in 4:4-7. He presented three steps to perfect peace. Rejoice in The Lord continually, demonstrate yieldedness, and pray about everything with thanksgiving. When The God is in control. His perfect peace defies disturbance and protects from cares, concerns, and anxieties.
J. Thoughtfulness in Purity.
An attitude of thoughtfulness in purity is presented in 4:8,9 as a solution to thought problems which disturb unity. Thought problems are reflected throughout the Book. Murmurings, disputings, anxiety, self-esteem, vain-glory, lack of humility, inconsistent living, and differences with others all stem from wrong thoughts. Behavior patterns are developed through thinking. By concentrating our thinking upon true, honest, pure, lovely, and excellent things of good report that are praise-worthy we can develop an attitude of thoughtfulness in purity.
K. Gratefulness Always.
Paul demonstrated an attitude of gratefulness in 4:10-20. In gratitude to God's great love-gift, gratefulness is demonstrated in fellowship of The Gospel. Sacrificial giving to the work of The Lord, ministering to missionaries through the local church will exact a demonstration of gratefulness from the missionaries. The Gospel will be furthered because an attitude of gratefulness has developed into fellowship of The Gospel and mutual communication between church and missionaries.
L. The Need to Be Gregarious.
The last attitude Paul presented is that of this present lesson in 4:21-23, an attitude of gregariousness. Every true child of The God is to demonstrate a love for every other child of The God without showing partiality or favoritism.
All of these attitudes are essential to productive Christian living. Each child of The God is responsible to give attention to each of these attitudes. The result will be amazing as The God uses the lives of those who imitate the life and example of Paul.
The interest Paul had in the Philippian church included every member of that local church. There was no favoritism or partiality with Paul. He demonstrated a gregarious attitude. He was friendly, sociable, and included every saint at Philippi repeatedly through his Epistle. He included everyone in his salutation, in his exhortations, in his greetings, and in his benediction. Paul’s heart went out to every child of The God in true and sincere love. The brethren that served The Lord with him also displayed such a gregarious attitude.
Every true child of The God has experienced the love of God shed abroad in his heart and will love all those who are born of The God. If you are born of The God, His love is in your heart and will flow out to all those who belong to the family of The God. If you are not born of The God, you must first be converted and become a child of God through repentance and faith before The God’s love will be shed abroad in your heart.
When you display a gregarious attitude, there will be no favoritism, no partiality, but every child of The God will be warmly received and loved. There will be those who are slower in growth and experience difficulty in maturing and overcoming faults. But you will not ostracize them if you have a gregarious attitude. Divine love is a matter of the will, not the emotions. You must choose whether or not you WILL hinder or WILL permit the love of The God to flow through you to every child of God, even those who may not be the most lovely and loving. Who will determine to display a gregarious attitude? Who will reach out in love to everyone of like precious faith? Will you?
Now consider the practical aspect of our study.
1. What attitude in relation to others in the family of The God is essential for productive Christian living?
2. What does it mean to be gregarious?
3. How is a gregarious attitude demonstrated?
4. How does partiality relate to a gregarious attitude?
5. What does impartiality indicate with respect to the love of The God?
6. How can you develop a gregarious attitude?
How will you respond to The God’s love which enables His child to be gregarious?
What will you do to develop a gregarious attitude?
To what extent will you allow the love of The God to flow out through you to others?
| | understood $singular &plural /the 0no article +masculine ~neuter
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Dana, H. E. and Julius R. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Toronto: The Macmillan Company, 1927.
Keen, Clarence M. Outlines and an Exposition of Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. Wilmington, Delaware: Mercantile Printing Company, 1926.
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reprint ed. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1983.
Pfeiffer, Charles F. Baker’s Bible Atlas. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1961.
Robertson, A. T. A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1934.
________ Paul’s Joy In Christ. Rev. ed. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1959.
________ Word Pictures in the New Testament. Vol. IV. The Epistles of Paul. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1931.
Vincent, Marvin R. Word Studies in the New Testament. Vol. III. The Epistles of Paul. Grand Rapids: Reprint ed. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976.
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B. Encyclopedia Articles
The International Standard Encyclopedia. Revised ed 1957. s.v. ‘Philippi,’ by M. N. Tod.
________ s.v. “Philippians, The Epistle To:” by Doremus A1my Hayes.