Not by Himself Alone: Paul’s Missionary Team (Wed. Oct. 21)

The word of the day is “ fellow.”   Much of St. Paul’s writing focuses on essential theological and moral teachings and their application to his congregations and their members. In our reading of Philippians 2:24-30, however, St. Paul gives us a glimpse of the practical management of his ministry.  The brief reference to a co-worker from Philippi reveals that Paul did not do his great missionary work alone. There were numerous colleagues, named and unnamed, who served on Paul’s missionary team. “A Brother, Fellow Worker, and Fellow Soldier” In today’s reading, the Apostle writes that he is sending back a delegate from Philippi. He writes, “Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and…

Poured Out As an Offering (Tues. Oct. 20)

The word of the day is “poured.”  In today’s reading of Philippians 2:17-23, St. Paul returns to the thought of his impending trial. It is certain that he will have to appear in court.  It is uncertain what the outcome will be. In the event of his execution, he writes, “Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all” (vs. 17). Like St. Ignatius, Paul is comparing his potential death to a sacrificial offering.  More exactly, it is a “drink offering,” “a libation.”  In his martyrdom, his blood would be poured out like an offering of wine or other liquid to…

God Active and Effective in Us (Mon. Oct. 19)

The word for the day is “work.”  In today’s reading of Philippians 2:12-16, St. Paul speaks of active striving. We know that to achieve any worthwhile goal, we must make a concerted effort. But the surprise of this reading is the object of our endeavor.  Paul writes, “… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (vs. 12).  What? Isn’t salvation a “free gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:9?.  So is Paul contradicting himself? What indeed is St. Paul saying? The English phrase “work out” is a good translation of the Greek word that means “to accomplish fully” (Strong’s 2716, 135).  The adverbial phrase “with fear and trembling” adds to the idea of…

Grace Sufficient (Sun. Oct. 18)

The word of the day is “sufficient.” In our reading of 2 Corinthians 11:31-12:9, St. Paul discloses his inner life’s secrets. The Apostle has been provoked.  His opponents have boasted that their qualifications for leadership are greater than Paul’s. Though he calls it “boasting,” the Apostle answers their bragging with a summary of the dangers, hardships, and sufferings that he has endured.  He then speaks of “visions and revelations” of his mystical experience when he was taken up to the third heaven and into Paradise (vs. 2:4). Boasting Qualified by Humility But as spectacular as Paul’s report of his spiritual experience is, it comes with a qualification.  He frames his narrative of his spiritual feats with two expressions of humility. …

Serving Christ at Work (Sat, Oct. 17)

The word of the day is “labor.”  In today’s reading of 1 Corinthians 15:58-16:3, St. Paul moves from his discussion of the resurrection of the dead in the age to come to our work in this age.  The Apostle writes, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (vs. 58). Whatever Our Work, We Serve the Lord How different is this view of our vocation than the notion of work today!  Our economy values workers who are adaptable, not “steadfast,” mobile not “immovable,” and productive as measured by the numbers, not “abounding in the work of the Lord.”   But those who hope…

“One Mind”: One Purpose (Fri. Oct. 16)

The word for the day is “mind.”  In today’s reading of Philippians 1:27-2:4, St. Paul begins to instruct his beloved congregation at Philippi on the way of life of the citizens of the Kingdom.  The Apostle writes, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear that you stand fast in one spirit, with “one mind” striving together for the faith of the gospel” (vs. 27). The Conduct of the Fellow-citizens of Kingdom Paul has disclosed his uncertainty about whether he will survive his trial.  But to reassure his favorite church, he raises the hopes that he will come to see them again.  Meanwhile,…

Living in the World but Not for the World (Thurs. Oct. 15)

Editor’s Note: this is a revised version of a comment that I posted for Wednesday, October 14 in error. Thank you for bearing with me as I refine this blog. The Word of the Day is “flesh.”  In our reading of Philippians 1:20-27, we find that St. Paul’s life is suspended while he waits for his trial before the Roman Emperor.  Paul continues to proclaim the Gospel with such power that the whole palace guard and others know about his suffering for Christ. Moreover, his example has emboldened his associates and even his opponents to preach Christ freely. Torn Between Life on Earth and Life in Heaven But Paul cannot see too far ahead, because at any moment the guards…

In Trial Or Opposition: Paul Desires That Christ Be Magnified (Wed. Oct 14)

Editor’s Note: this post is for Wednesday, October 14. My apologies for the error!The word of the day is “magnified.”  St. Paul writes our reading of Philippians 1:12-20 as he faces his trial and possible execution.  Paul spent two years under house arrest. Yet at any time while he was “in chains,” Paul could be taken to court before the Roman Emperor. Our reading suggests that Paul waited in uneasy anticipation throughout those years. He hoped and prayed  that God would be magnified by his inevitable ordeal, whether in life or death.In our reading, the Apostle states he is “appointed for the defense of the gospel” at his trial (vs. 17). Therefore, he asks for the prayers of his beloved congregation. Because…

Making the Witness of Faith Evident

Making the Witness of Faith Evident The Word of the Day (Tuesday, October 13) The word of the day is “evident.”  Paul writes his letter to the Philippians  while under house arrest in Rome. We can imagine that his guards would come and go day and night.  Among them, St. Paul says, “…it has become evident that my chains are in Christ” (vs. 13).  The Greek word that Paul uses here is derived from the sense of shining, and it means that something has come to light (Strong’s #5318, 261).  Thus, Paul is reporting that it is manifest throughout the “palace guard” that  his imprisonment is for the sake of Christ. Because Paul’s witness to Christ is so open, many…

Thanking God with Joy

The word of the day from our reading of Philippians 1:1-7 is “joy.”  We know more about St. Paul than any of the other apostles with the possible exception of St. Peter. We have a well-rounded picture of Paul not only from the Book of Acts but his letters.  The frames of mind of these epistles range from sorrowful in parts of  1 Corinthians, relieved in other parts of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, theological in Romans,  emphatic in Galatians, mystical in parts of Ephesians and Colossians, instructive in other parts of Ephesians and Colossians, reassuring in 1 Thessalonians. Thanking God with Joy But in Philippians, St. Paul writes in an exalted mood of joy. In today’s reading, he begins…