We are launching a new series at Mountainview this weekend. It’s called “Onward” and it will walk us through the entire book of Philippians. Written by the Apostle Paul while in prison, Philippians is both a very personal and pastoral letter. In this short book we get a glimpse into Paul’s friendships and we hear his loving concern for them.
Many commentators often draw attention to the theme of joy that runs throughout the book. Depending on how you parse it, the word joy or one of its companions appears nineteen times in four chapters. As you know, whenever a writer repeats a word or phrase that many times — it must be important to him or her. For Paul, the joy of the Lord is a very real and present part of life, even when he is writing from a prison cell.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
Nineteen mentions in four chapters is a pretty strong emphasis. The Christian life should be a life marked by true joy.
But there is another word that appears even more often throughout Philippians. It’s actually a name. It’s Jesus. Or sometimes, it’s Jesus Christ. Or Christ Jesus. At times, Paul uses one of Jesus’ titles. At other times he simply calls him Christ.
The name of Jesus appears over forty times in four chapters.
The book of Philippians is definitely a book about joy but why? Why is the theme of joy so dominant, even when Paul is writing from prison? The answer? Jesus. The book of Philippians is ultimately a book about Jesus — who he is and what it means to follow him.
Not to be simplistic, but when you discover Jesus, you discover joy. Not necessarily happiness. Happiness is often based on what is happening. Joy comes from a deeper reservoir. Joy comes from a well that is filled with living water. Joy comes from having had a life-changing experience with Jesus.
Joy and Jesus are both in Philippians.