Scripture: Philippians 1:12-19; 20-26
This Sunday we come to the final sermon in the first part of our series, Church and State: The Rise of Early Christianity. Last week, we talked about the first real persecutions endured by Christians in the early church, when Emperor Nero targeted adherents of Jesus’ movement in Rome in 64 A.D. What I explained to you is that Paul may be indirectly responsible for this first persecution. Indeed, evidence for this can be found in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi.
Paul is writing this letter while he is under house arrest in Rome awaiting trial and he is preaching about Jesus to the Imperial Guard, which may be how Emperor Nero becomes aware of Jesus’ movement. Interestingly, Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written between 60 and 61 A.D., ten years after Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica.
In Philippians, you can tell that Paul is slowly coming to the realization that he might die before Jesus returns and you can see him wrestling with this problem in this letter. Paul has come to the conclusion that the sooner he dies, the sooner he gets to be with Jesus. But he can’t do that because he feels that God has called him to be there for these churches that he’s founded. His concern is well founded because, unbeknownst to him, the church is about to enter into cardiac arrest.
This Sunday we’re going to discuss how Paul inadvertently ends up saving the church from total devastation. This is a story from church history that rarely gets told, so I am excited to end the first part of this series with this amazing series of events. May you and your loved ones have a beautiful weekend! It should prove to be a wonderful Sunday!