Philippians 4

The Thief

Paul is in Rome, confined in prison, awaiting a hearing before Caesar.  He spends his time chained to a soldier and is also writing this and other letters, known as the Prison Epistles. Ephesians was one of those letters Paul wrote from Prison. In those days prisoners were poorly treated but family and friends could provide some of the necessities for life and the needs of the prisoner. The church in Philippi had just sent Paul some things to meet his needs. Philippians is his “Thank You” card.

The tone of Paul’s demeanor in Chapter 1 is that no matter what happens to him, Paul knows God is in control. In what he writes he is setting an example of what following Jesus looks like. In Chapter 2 he encourages them, and those of us who are privileged to read this letter, to do the same. In Chapter 3 Paul encourages his readers to follow him as he sets the example of one who follows Christ. He also paints a contrast between the pride of worldly achievement, even in religious circles, versus being totally surrendered to the Lord and His plan. Certainly what is ahead for Paul is unknown and from time to time the fear of the unknown can raise its ugly head. When that happens Paul tells us exactly what to do in Chapter 4. Paul has faith in the Lord and knows that as long as he is alive God has something He wants to accomplish through Paul. The same is true for each and every believer in Christ.

Jesus told a parable in Mark 3:27. He said, “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, then he will plunder his house.” NASB

The strong man, of course, is Satan. Jesus bound Satan when Jesus suffered and died for our sins on the cross. Jesus also said the gates of Hades will not over power the confession one makes in Christ Jesus. Paul tells us in Romans that the consequence for sin is death. Hades was the place where people who had died before Jesus died, went..

When Jesus died He went to Hades, but Hades could not hold Him because Jesus was without sin. Instead, Jesus went to Hades to lead out everyone who had put their faith in God. Those who had died from the beginning of time who had not known the name Jesus, yet had listened to the revealed Word of God, (Remember Jesus is the Word. John 1), and responded by believing what God had said and acted on it, were saved because they had put their faith in God. So that takes care of those who had died but what about those who are alive today? Hades remains the place where the unsaved who have died go while they await judgement. Hell will be their final destination. Presently believers in Christ who die go immediately to be with the Lord in Heaven

Although still bound, Satan is still actively trying to influence and recruit people to do his plan. The antichrist and the false prophet are on the top of his list.  Satan’s plan is to fill his home with people by his deception. His home will ultimately be in Hell. Our job as believers, including Paul, is to prevent this from happening. But we must do this God’s way. Isaiah 55:6-13

This is why Paul wrote this and his other letters.  Paul is also a thief for Christ. Remember he was chained to Roman soldiers.  The soldiers Paul was chained to were the sons of the leaders in Rome. Rome will soon be persecuting Christians doing the work of Satan. Paul is leading some of these future leaders to the Lord.1:12-14

 He has also been doing the same with those of Caesar’s household he came in contact with.4:22

Paul is a living witness for Christ in the midst of the severe trial he is going through. As a result he is a thief rescuing those who by following Satan’s worldly ways are destined for Hell! He is also having an impact on the course of world history.

Paul was a thief for Christ no matter the circumstances.

As I ponder this I am certainly challenged by how Paul lived his life with all the suffering he went through. I hope we all are. Paul’s influence on the future leaders in Rome helped bring an end to the persecution the Church was about to go through. Paul,following the example of Christ, suffered for the Church. He challenges us to do the same in Chapter 2. Given this perspective, what Paul had to say in this letter should become much more valuable and relevant to us today.

Is it possible that we could have an impact in the lives of others and this world in which we live? The world will call us fools for abandoning all the world has to offer in order to follow the Lord. To that Paul would say, yes we are fools for Christ. 1 Corinthians 4:10

In fact he had a lot to say about our foolishness in 1 Corinthians 1:18 through Chapter 2.

Paul was a thief for Christ because he was a fool for Christ, yet we are still being influenced by what he said and did today. I want to be that kind of Christian. How about you?

Pastor Dave