Benediction For The Saints

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

There are parts of the Bible that we read quickly, not looking for any depth in them. I know myself when I read through books like Numbers, and read the census lists of Israel:

Numbers 1:5-7 And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you: of the tribe of Reuben; Elizur the son of Shedeur. 6 Of Simeon; Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. 7 Of Judah; Nahshon the son of Amminadab.

My eyes kind of gloss over, and my mind wanders. We all do this. We miss great Biblical truths because we undervalue every part of this Holy Scripture. The WHOLE Scripture – every word, every phrase, every nuance – is God breathed (theopneustos). The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God (God’s Messenger) may be complete, equipped for every good work.

There are no accidental texts. This Word is God’s breath. He spoke it. Which brings us to:

Philippians 4:21-23 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

I have never preached out of this text, and after research I found out few preachers have ever focused on this text. But this is God’s Word, and there are great truths in this, if God the Holy Spirit will draw it out. In most Bibles this section is labeled (if it is labeled) “Concluding Benediction”, “Greetings and Benediction”, or just “Benediction”. The word “benediction” means, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “ the invocation … of a blessing, something that promotes goodness or well-being”.

As the Apostle writes this letter, he is dictating it through a brother in Christ, Epaphroditus. The Apostle mentions his name twice:

Philippians 2:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

Philippians 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.

Why was Epaphroditus a messenger for Paul? Because the Apostle is imprisoned by Rome,
and is chained to Roman guards.

The commentaries note that Paul is imprisoned in either Ephesus or Rome, and is on a journey to stand before Caesar for trial. The charge? TREASON. The Apostle was imprisoned for preaching “Jesus is Lord”, and that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way unto God.

Rome grew powerful by conquering other nations, and bringing those nations into the Roman confederacy.Conquered people could keep their own gods and goddesses, but were required to acknowledge the Roman Caesar as “Lord”. This is something that the Christians would NOT do. When the Roman Centurion Cornelius was led to be saved in a vision from Heaven, he was told to call for the Apostle Peter. As Peter spoke to Cornelius, he said:

Acts 10:34-36 Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all)

The Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his house, and they were saved. To utter or even hide in your heart that Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all) was an act of treason in Roman territory. And yet, the Christian missionaries went out preaching the singular Lordship of Jesus Christ. When the Apostle Paul preached in Athens at Mars Hill, he plainly said:

Acts 17:22-27 Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

Paul preached the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Lordship of the God of Scripture. What happened? Paul was imprisoned. But Paul was not discouraged.

If Jesus Is Lord, He Is Lord ALL The Time

Jesus Christ is not a part time Lord. He is not like Caesar, Who must compel the people to worship him at least once a year, or else be declared treasonous. No, Beloved, Jesus is LORD of all. The Bible says:

Psalm 103:19 (ESV) The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

When Paul was imprisoned, he was not just saying “Jesus is Lord”. He literally, deep down in his heart, believed Jesus is Lord. If Jesus is Lord, He is Lord over whatever valley you are in at this moment. Paul believed this. He wrote:

Philippians 1:12-14 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Many of us, when afflicted in the service of our King, attribute the affliction to the devil. The devil does afflict – but only at God’s permission. Satan is not greater than God. Jesus is Lord!

Paul told the Philippians that Jesus is Lord even in his imprisonment. The negative things that happen to Christians, happen because God allows them, because they further the cause of Christ. The Apostle called his imprisonment my bonds in Christ. Paul was not imprisoned, chained to a guard, because Satan is greater than God. God used and even endorsed the imprisonment as a means to get Paul into the inner courts of Caesar. Paul did not fall apart when put in a bad place, but looked to Jesus.

Philippians 4:21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus.

Word Study The Christian – saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ – is a saint. This is the Greek ἅγιος hágios, {pronounced hag’-ee-os}, which means “one who is consecrated, set apart, or marked as apart from the crowd”. The saint is not perfect. The Corinthian Church, marked with many sinful practices, was still addressed by the Apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, {hágios} with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

When you surrender to the Lordship of Jesus, you are saved. But not only are you saved, but you are set apart from this world as a child of the Most High God. The Apostle writes in another place:

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints, {hágios}.

Word Study Dear Christian, we belong to Jesus. This means that our current circumstances, whether favorable or unfavorable, whether smooth or rough, are all engineered by our God. As Paul processed his imprisonment (which was no picnic), he said the THINGS which happened to me have FALLEN OUT RATHER unto the furtherance of the Gospel. The words FALLEN OUT is the Greek ἔρχομαι érchomai, {pronounced er’-khom-ahee} which means “to come to pass”. Imprisonment was a visitor in Paul’s life that was not a bad thing, but a good thing. As a Saint of God the Apostle said:

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Too many believers, when confronted with an undesirable situation in life, begin crying out to God for relief. Too many times we allow thieves to come and rob us of our blessings. Jesus said:

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The thief comes to rob us of the presence of our Jesus.

the thief called worry
the thief called fear
the thief called unbelief
the thief called despair
the thief called discouragement

To these thieves (and the many other unnamed worldly thieves that try and rob us of our joy) the Apostle encourages the believer to:

Philippians 1:27-28 Only let your {Greek politeúomai [pronounced pol-it-yoo’-om-ahee] behavior as citizens of God’s Kingdom} be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

The SAINT is a Citizen of God’s Kingdom FIRST

The Saint – the citizens of God’s Kingdom – is to act like a citizen of Heaven. We are commanded to not act like the lost, for we are not lost. We are to imitate Jesus Christ. The Apostle said:

Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Saints are Citizens of Heaven who Suffer

The Saint is set apart to live his or her life to the glory of God the Father and of Jesus Christ our Lord. As our Lord Jesus …

Philippians 2:7-8 … made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

… gave Himself to suffering for us, we as Saints give ourselves in suffering for others. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords lowered Himself for you and I. We must walk following Him, our King and Savior. Though it got Paul imprisoned, he is unrepentant in declaring the Lordship of Christ. Jesus has “a name that is above every name”,

Philippians 2:10-11 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

We do not bow the knee to Caesar, nor to any person. We bow the knee to Jesus, and preach salvation through faith alone in Him alone.

Every Trial Is For A Greater Good In The Saint
(God Is In Control)

The Saint is set apart by God as His child – and God continually works in His child and
in the environment that child is in.

Philippians 2:13-16 … it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life

Word Study When God called Israel out of Egypt, and carried them through the Red Sea as if on dry land, two things marred the people of God: murmurings and disputings. The word murmurings is the Greek γογγυσμός gongysmós, {pronounced gong-goos-mos’} which means “murmuring, grudging secret displeasures, muttering”. God had a plan to take Israel into the Promised Land of Canaan, a land that “floweth with milk and honey” (Leviticus 20:24; Numbers 13:27). But Israel murmured and complained against Moses and Aaron. Eventually Israel committed the ultimate sin: they murmured against God. Moses told Israel:

Deuteronomy 1:26-27 … ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: 27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.

God took His hand of blessing from the first generation of Israel because of murmuring and complaining. God said,

Psalm 95:10-11 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: 11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

Word Study The hand that blesses is also the hand that can remove blessing. God removed blessing from Israel. The other word is disputings, which is the Greek διαλογισμός dialogismós, {pronounced dee-al-og-is-mos’}, which means a questioning of the truth. It is translated “evil thoughts” in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts. It is translated “imaginations” in Romans 1:21, “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations.

The God that saved Israel from Egypt and led them through the Red Sea, is surely the same God Who can lead them through the Jordan and defeat the Canaanites. But as the Israelis focused on their trial rather than their God, this seed of unbelief grew until it destroyed the nation.

To avoid Satan’s traps, the Saint is encouraged to take control of the emotions and of their minds. Paul writes:

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Word Study The Saint is first to Rejoice in the Lord always. No matter what you are going through, rejoice in the Lord. Acknowledge that God is in control of the situation, that He is Lord of your life. You are a Saint, not a lost soul. You belong to Jesus. Do all things in moderation. This is the Greek ἐπιεικής epieikḗs, {pronounced ep-ee-i-kace’}, which is translated patient (1 Timothy 3:3), gentle (Titus 3:2; James 3:17; 1 Peter 2:18). The Saint is to be like Jesus was – kind and patient with others.

Adding to the Saint’s need to rejoice in the Lordship of Christ, and being patient, we are also supposed to not worry, but give our needs to the God Who is our Lord. As He gave Israel manna and water in the desert, and kept their clothing and shoes from wearing out, our God can meet ALL our needs.

Direct your minds to examine the faithfulness of God. He is Lord, and He loves us. He will not abandon the children He bought at such a high price. He will not abandon those whom He has shed His blood for!

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

The Apostle Paul refused to allow Satan to hijack his thought life. He focused on the goodness of God. Did the Apostle suffer lack at times? Absolutely! He was imprisoned. He said:

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Whether Paul was full or hungry, abased or abounding, His mind was continually on doing Christ’s work in Christ’s way. Paul said, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. When you have Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you have all you need. The Apostle said in another place:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

The Saint is called on purpose by God. Everything that happens to the Saint is for our good, and for the glory of God, whether we know it or not.

The God Of Scripture Is “My God”

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Notice that Paul refers to God as my God. The Saint is owned by God, and owns God. He is ours! We belong to Him, and He belongs to us. If you are a Saint, then He is to you my God. When King David was afflicted, he cried out to my God. He prayed,

Psalm 3:7 Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.

He cried, “O Lord MY GOD, in Thee do I put my trust” (Psalm 7:1). David, like Paul, walked side by side each day with the Lord. He could say,

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

If you are saved, God possesses you, and you possess God. He is to you “MY GOD”. There is no room for the world nor for the devil to live in the House of God between us. We who are saved belong to Him.

Philippians 4:21-22 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. 22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

We discussed verse 21, and how the Christian is a Saint, set apart to live with God under His Kingdom authority. But note verse 22. You probably read it, and thought nothing of it. But read the words again:

All the saints salute you, chiefly they that
are of Caesar’s household

I told you that Paul was imprisoned, and chained to a Roman guard, a soldier of the empire. The soldiers are of Caesar’s household. As I mentioned before, Rome allowed all types of religions to flourish, as long as Caesar was worshiped as Lord. To fail to worship Caesar as Lord, to give singular Lordship status to anyone outside of Caesar, was considered an act of treason. This is why Paul is in prison, awaiting what will surely be a beheading.

Paul is chained to a Roman soldier. He’s chained to this soldier as he dictates this letter to Epaphroditus. The soldier cannot help but hear – being chained to the Apostle as he is – exactly what Paul has been saying.

A loyal Roman soldier would report what Paul wrote to his superiors. Had it been reported, no doubt Epaphroditus would have been hindered or killed, and the letter destroyed. But the letter got to Philippi. It wasn’t destroyed. Why?

I imagine Paul in bonds. He is fastened to a soldier, and left alone with him. Paul starts talking. “Have you heard about My God? Have you heard about Jesus?” The soldier replies, “Shut up! I don’t want to talk about that.” But Paul doesn’t shut up. “I notice you have armor on. I have armor, too. My armor is made by Jesus. I have a breastplate of faith and love (1 Thessalonians 5:8). My helmet is the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8)”. The Roman soldier cannot beat Paul, for Paul is a Roman citizen awaiting trial. All he can do is listen. He tells Paul, “Shut up! Stop telling me about this Jesus!” But Paul continues. “My loins are girt about with truth” (Ephesians 6:14). The man has no choice but to hear Paul. Paul is unlike anyone he has ever been cuffed to. Most prisoners are bleak, sad, depressed, anxious concerning what was coming. But not Paul. His eyes were on Jesus.

When the changing of the guard comes, the guard going off duty has the Gospel of Christ planted in his heart. Here comes another guard, but Paul is not discouraged. God is giving him another opportunity to serve the kingdom of God, and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Jesus is Lord! As Paul closes this letter, he says simply:

Philippians 4:23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

There is no salvation without these two things:

The Grace of God, and
The Lordship of Christ our Savior

Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? You can be saved if Jesus is just your Savior, but your faith will be too weak to be of much value if Jesus is not your Lord. Is He your Lord? Dear Saint, you are set apart by God to do service for your King. You belong to Jesus, not to things. It is not things that satisfies the soul of the Christian, but the presence of the God Who controls all things. The Apostle Paul told Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:6-7 … godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

That which gives us contentment and blessing, whether on the mountain top or in the valley, is the Lordship of our God. Do you know Him? You cannot add one single hour to your life (Matthew 6:27), but the God Who owns the believer can. Rest in the God Who has saved you. Give Him all that you are. He owns you anyway. And trust that God loves you with an infinite love. Resting in the presence of Christ, we can say with David, The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:6). May God the Holy Spirit move on our hearts, and draw us all into the Presence of Jesus this very day. In Christ’s name we pray this. Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
This entry was posted in Philippians, Sermons Preached and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.