Author: Ron Graham
Compliments Paul Pays His Friends
—A study in Philippians
Paul's epistle to the Philippians is a lovely letter, full of human warmth and friendship. In this lesson we observe Paul's great regard for his friends in the church at Philippi, and his companions in ministry whom they knew and loved. We notice the compliments by which he commends these dedicated Christians.
1 Appreciating Their Concern
The book of Philippians is about people who had a genuine concern for one another. Paul noticed, and greatly appreciated this quality in his Christian brothers and sisters.
These Christians worried about each other, prayed for one another, talked about one another, and helped one another. When one of them was hurting, they all hurt. When one of them was in trouble, they all suffered distress. The following verses are examples...
- "Timothy... genuinely concerned for your welfare" (Philippians 2:20).
- "Epaphroditus... distressed because you heard he was sick" (Philippians 2:26).
- "You have... concern for me" (Philippians 4:10).
2 Recognising their worth
Some might regard Paul as a judgmental person, and he certainly did not resile from taking the measure of people and saying what he thought. Mind you he was always fair and well informed, and he judged people by the word of Christ. However he was not shy about calling people "dogs" if they deserved it (Philippians 3:2).
In the case of the Philippians and of his companions, Paul held them in the highest regard. They passed the test. Of that, Paul was in no doubt. For example...
- "You have always obeyed, not only in my presence..." (Philippians 2:12).
- "Timothy... has proved his worth" (Philippians 2:22).
3 Praising their sacrifice
Paul had a heavy responsibility and an arduous task, a ministry as challenging as ministry can get. Yet he had companionship and support in his mission. That support was no mere token. His companions and the church at Philippi were committed and self-sacrificing in their sharing with Paul in his labours. Note for example these words of praise from Paul...
- "Epaphroditus... risked his life for the work of Christ" (Philippians 2:30).
- "Euodia and Syntyche... shared my struggle" (Philippians 4:3).
- "You have done well to share with me in my affliction... an acceptable sacrifice" (Philippians 4:14-18).
4 Responding to their warmth
The letter to Philippi exudes warmth. It's a cold day as I write this lesson, and I think the letter is warming me up more than the heater! Notice for example the very gentle and caring relationship in evidence in the following words...
- "Timothy... with me as a child serving his father" (Philippians 2:22).
- "Epaphroditus... he was longing for you all" (Philippians 2:25).
- "I urge Euodia and Syntyche to live in harmony" (Philippians 4:2).
5 Commending much, rebuking little
In the book of Philippians there is much commendation and not a word of condemnation, except for the false circumcision and the enemies of the cross, who it seems were not in the church at Philippi but could be a danger to it.
There are churches of Christ today just like the church at Philippi, and they need the same encouragement and commendation as Paul gave to the Philippians. And not only that, but the greatest compliment you can pay anyone is to give thanks for them when you pray.
- "I thank my God in every remembrance of you" (Philippians 1:3).