The Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Philippian church while under house arrest in Rome. He had been detained for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Philippians had heart about Paul’s imprisonment and also witnessed rival teachers making things harder on Paul.
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry… [they] preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. (Philippians 1:15, 17)
It wasn’t popular to associate with prisoners.
Well, the Philippians didn’t feel that way. Jesus said, “That which you’ve done to my brothers in prison, you have done unto Me.”
Or, in full context:
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)
So, they took up an offering to help Paul with his ministry and they sent it to Rome with Epaphroditus, a journey that almost killed him.
But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me. (Philippians 2:25-30)
Paul wrote back to thank them for their gift and encourage them to rejoice in everything – even his imprisonment!
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the Gospel.” (Philippians 1:12)
At the end of his letter, Paul said,
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me but you had no opportunity to show it until now.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation, I am to be content. I know how to be brought low and how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:10-13)
Philippians 4:13 does not mean that faith in God will help you be an athlete, or strike it rich, or fly. It means that whether things are really good or if things are really bad, it is by the power of God that we endure.
Jesus conquered death and rules over all. What can this world do to us?
In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
Whether you have money or you don’t, you’re sick or you’re healthy, if you’re being ridiculed for your faith, if you have friends or have been betrayed – by the strength of God, Who is working all things for His glory…
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, REJOICE! (Philippians 4:4)