October 25, 2020
How bout this weather, yall? How about it? You know this is the only placed where looking at the weather forecast is important. When we lived in Texas and Florida, you don’t really need to look at the weather forecast. It’s pretty much always the same. In South Dakota you can get a sunburn and frost bite in the same day. Also, talking about the weather here isn’t small talk. You live in other places, the talking about the weather really isn’t that interesting or important. No so here. Are we in Fall or Winter? I think this is Finter. We’re currently in Finter.
This morning you will notice that there are some new books out on the book stand. Every month at the end of the month I intend to highlight a book from the pulpit and have that book available for you on the book stand. This week I want to highlight this book. It’s called, Just Do Something. It’s written by Kevin DeYoung. It’s a short, easy read but it’s packed with substance. The book is about finding the will of God. All of us struggle from time to time with the question of God’s will. This book answers one of those perennial questions we all struggle with. It is an excellent book. The resource is free but you can place a donation in the donation box if you like. The only requirement for you if you grab a copy is that you have to read the book. Don’t read the book and go put it on your bookshelf and that’s it. No. If you take a copy, you have to commit to reading it.
We are finishing our study on Philippians this morning. I started this series at the end of September of last year. So it’s taken us a little over a year to finish the book. The Lord is faithful. He’s brought us through this book. I pray that this book has touched your heart as it has touched mine. Go ahead an open up with me to the book of Philippians. We will start in 4:21. Paul writes this to us,
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
What we have here as Paul closes out this letter is a final exchange of greetings between the Philippians, Paul, and the people who are with Paul. This is how letters in the ancient world ended. They ended will final greetings.
These final greetings are no just throw away material for us. Even in these final greetings God has something to say to us. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, Paul writes in 2 Tim 3:16. All of Scripture is important. Because this ending greeting is Scripture it is therefore important for us. What Paul says here is relevant for us.
In order to convince you of the importance and relevance of this passage, we need to place what Paul says here in this greeting in a larger biblical and theological framework. Let me repeat that again. In order for us to see the relevance of this passage, we need to place this passage within a larger biblical and theological content.
Here I am beginning my first point. There will be three points this morning. All my loyal three pointers out there. This is for you. The first point is this: “The Context.” With this point, we want to understand the biblical and theological context in which this greeting fits.
The context that I want us to understand this greeting in is the context of “one anothering.” In the Christian life, Christians have a unique, special relationship with their fellow Christians. Our relationship with one another is very important. So important is our relationships with one another that God has instituted one of the central features of his work of redemption in the world by means of these relationships. That central feature is the church. The church is the gathering together of Christians and the gathering together of their relationships with one another. You cannot have the church without the concept of “one anothering.” “One anothering” is central to the Bible, to the church, and to God’s purposes in this world.
Love One Another
The most basic point of this “one anothering” is love. We are to “love one another.” This is a basic point, but we need to be reminded of this truth. This point is reiterated in the Bible over and over again. Listen to these verses.
Jesus says this in John 13:34,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Again Jesus in John 15:12,
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
A couple verses later in John 15:17,
These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Paul says this in Rom 12:10,
Love one another with brotherly affection.
1 Pet 1:22,
Love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
1 Pet 4:8,
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly
1 John 3:11,
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
So important is this command to love your fellow Christian that 1 John states that if you do not love your fellow Christian that you are not a Christian. 1 John 4:20 reads,
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
We must (this is not optional) we must love one another. This is absolutely central. I’m reading all of this verses to hammer home the point. We must love one another.
Implications of Loving One Another
This love for one another, for your fellow Christians ought to take root in your life through other behaviors. God calls us to love one another, and he calls us to show that love through the different ways we behave. Loving one another is the heart disposition. That disposition is supposed to reflect itself in our behaviors. Listen to these verses where loving one another manifests itself through certain actions.
Rom 12:10 reads,
Outdo one another in showing honor.
So the way we show our love for our neighbor, according to this passage, is we “outdo one another in showing honor.”
Live in harmony with one another.
1 Cor 11:33,
So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment.
2 Cor. 13:11
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Bear with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; gas the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
1 Thess 5:11,
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.
1 Thess 5:15,
See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and ball the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another.
1 Pet 4:9–10,
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.
1 Pet 5:5.
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another
What are you reading all of these passages, Pastor? What’s the point? The point is this. One way we know whether some teaching is important is how often the Bible repeats that idea. One idea that the Bible repeats over and over again is that we are to love one another. Dear Christians, love your fellow Christian. Repent of not loving your fellow Christian. This love can and should express itself in your actions in various ways.
We might approach this text at the end of Philippians and think that it doesn’t have much relevance for our lives, for our church. It has tremendous relevance for us and for our church because this command is part of the larger command to love your fellow Christian and to have that love make itself evident in your actions.
The Bible calls us to love one another and we are to show that love to one another in how we act. A pretty simple idea. Now what Paul says in this passage is that one way we should show our love for one another in the church is by greeting one another. Let’s go ahead and review the passage again,
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
The key to understanding what Paul is saying here is to understand the verb, “Greet.” There verb means this,
To engage in hospitable recognition of another
We might translate what Paul says in v. 21 and 22 as, “Say hello to every saint in Christ Jesus”; “Say hi to every saint in Christ Jesus”; “Say good morning to every saint in Christ Jesus.” Greet each other.
And I want you to notice that this is a command. It is a command, not a suggestion. Paul’s not saying, “Greet the Christians you like”; or “Greet the Christians you want to greet.” No. Greet fellow Christians. Show your love to other Christians by greeting them, acknowledging them, saying hello to them.
ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ
Paul modifies this greeting that the Philippians are to give with the statement “in Christ Jesus.” What’s that mean? It means this.
Greet everyone who is a saint in Christ Jesus.
If you read secular books about manners and professionalism, you will find this basic advice that Paul gives here. Secular books say the same thing that Paul says here. Greet one another. Anybody can greet anyone, right? Anyone can do that.
The theological weight of the passage is found in this “in Christ Jesus” language. This language is important very important. Very important. This “in” refers to the relationship between the believer and Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that Christ has died for sinners. The Bible teaches that the reason why Christians are in Christ Jesus, the reason why that is, is because of grace. We are in Christ Jesus because of Christ Jesus’ death for us. He gave his life for us. He bought us. He owns us. We are his.
Because of this—because we are his—an offense that we take on is an offense that he takes on. When you fail to honor this command in this passage, when you fail to greet another Christian, when you give another Christian a cold shoulder or ignore them, you offend Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ died for that person. This command is rooted in the relationship that believers have with Christ. It’s related to the “in.” A failure to obey this command here is a failure to appreciate and recognized that Jesus Christ died for the person you fail to greet. This commandment is important because Jesus shed his blood for your fellow brother and sister in Christ. He owns them. An offense against them is an offense against him.
Let me explain this with an illustration. Let’s say you’re recently engaged. You just got engaged and you want to show your fiancé off to your friends. Some of your friends haven’t met your fiancé and you want your fiancé to meet them. So you, your friends, and your fiancé go out for a nice meal at a restaurant, and all your friends who haven’t met your fiancé get to to meet your fiancé. After the meal, one of your friends comes up to you and insults your fiancé. They say to you that your fiancé is ugly and awkward, and that you could do better. Is that going to offend you? You better believe that would offend you. Because of your love for your fiancé, because of your commitment to them, you are going to take those comments very personally. You are going to be offended. By being unkind to your fiancé, your friend has also offended you.
That’s how Jesus feels when people insult the people for whom he died. He loves his people. He died for them. They are his bride. We greet one another, we love one another, because Jesus died for all of us. We greet each other because of the Lord who bought us. If you do not greet one another, if you ignore or give the cold shoulder, you offend Jesus Christ. He purchased them with his blood. Greet each one another “in Christ Jesus.” Greet each other lovingly because Jesus bought the church with his blood. We don’t want to offend our Lord.
οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ ἀδελφοί
At the end of v. 21, Paul mentions the “brothers who are with me greet you.” So the Philippians are commanded to greet each other, and Paul says that the Christians who are with him say hello.
οἱ ἐκ τῆς Καίσαρος οἰκίας
Paul mentions one last group who send their greetings. He says in v. 22,
All the saints greet you, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
Paul specifies that all church send their greetings to the Philippians along with those Christians who would have worked for Caesar, the ruler of the Roman Empire. These might be slaves or servants to Caesar who became Christian.
Context of the Book
Bringing this explanation of the passage to a conclusion, Paul wanted the Philippians to greet each other and to receive greetings from others. As we’ve studied the book of Philippians, this church was not without its internal problems. Remember our discussion regarding Euodia and Syntyche from 4:2. Let’s look there really quickly.
Paul writes this in 4:2.
I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.
There was strife in the Philippian church; specifically between these two women. Even within this congregation that had internal strife, Paul still wanted them to greet one another and to receive greetings from other Christians. This pattern of giving and receiving greeting between Christian is an essential practice that the church must engage in.
Let’s bring this point to a conclusion. The Bible teaches us to greet all Christians. This is a command, not a suggestion. Even in churches where there is turmoil and division, like the Philippian church, this command still applies. Christians must welcome and be warm to other Christians. Jesus bought the church with his blood. Do not be unloving to your fellow brothers and sisters.
Now we turn to application. We’ve explored the “one anothering” context of Paul’s command in which this Christian greeting occurs. We are to love one another. And the specific way that love is to manifest itself, according to ending of the book of Philippians, is by means of greeting. Paul commands the Philippians to show their love by greeting each other and by receiving the greetings from those who are with Paul. The command was to give a greeting and to receive Paul’s greetings.
No Cold Shoulders
I have two points of specific application this morning. The first is a prohibition, what it is that, in light of this text, we should not do. What we should not do is that we should not give our brothers and sisters in Christ the cold shoulder. I’ve already alluded to this. Do not give your brothers and sisters in Christ the cold shoulder.
This is what a cold shoulder is. I had to look it up. A cold shoulder is,
A show of intentional unfriendliness; an expression of dismissal or the act of disregarding someone; an unfriendly attitude shown to someone or something, especially by intentionally ignoring or showing no interest in them.
Ouch, right! Ouch!
A cold shoulder can happen either through our speech or through our body language. The worst type of cold shoulder would be just ignoring people when another Christians greets you. That’s the worst. So you see a Christian walking towards you and you intentionally avoid them; or you pass by a Christian and they say hello but you just keep silent and walk by; or you pretend like you didn’t hear them. So this is what a cold shoulder by means of our speech looks like. We can’t do this.
A cold shoulder with our body language is also prohibited. Sometimes we might greet one another in speech, but our body language communicates coldness. So let’s say a fellow brother or sister in Christ says to you, “Good morning.” And you respond, “Hi.” Is that what God wants from you? Is that honor to this command in this passage. It’s not, brothers and sisters. We cannot give our fellow Christians, those for whom Christ died, a cold should with our body language.
God does not want us giving other Christians, those for whom Christ died, cold shoulders, either in speech or body language. God wants us to be warm and kind towards others. God wants us to receive greetings from others and to extend those back to those who give them to us. Beloved brothers and sisters, love one another. And show that love by refusing to give a fellow Christian the cold shoulder—whether in speech or body language.
Not giving someone a cold shoulder is the prohibition. That’s what you shouldn’t do. What you should do is you should greet one another. Very simple. We as Christians are called to greet other Christians.
What this means, dear friends, is that if you see someone you do not know go up and greet them. Say hello to them. Be kind. Be warm. Say, “Good morning. I’m so and so. Have we met?” Now for some of you this might be hard. You might feel uncomfortable. Remember, though, he you are talking to. You are talking to your brother or sister in Christ. Someone with whom your bond has been established by the blood of our Lord. This will require you to get out of your comfort zone, but this is what God requires of you. Greet each other. Be warm. Be receptive. Be interested in other people.
We have a greeting ministry here at CBC. What a biblical ministry. We get that ministry right from this passage. Maybe you need to serve in that ministry to obey this command of greeting. We need receptive, smiling faces at the door to greet those who come in. Maybe that could be you. Maybe you need encouragement to see that your gifts matter to the body. If you’re naturally a greeting type of person, be encouraged. Your gifts are biblical. They are right here. The church needs your gifts.
All of us need to get out of our comfort zone and greet our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Our church culture needs to be defined by this type of warmth and love. We do not want to be cold and indifferent to other believers. That would be offensive to our Lord. Rather, let’s be kind and warm with our speech. Greet one another, dear friends.
Such simple biblical truths, dear friends. Let us love one another. And let us show that love to each other by greeting one another. May we never give our brothers and sisters in Christ a cold shoulder—whether in our speech or in our body language. Instead, may we speak kindly and warmly to all of those for whom our Lord died.
This morning I end the same way Paul ends his letter to the Philippians. He closes the book with a benediction. Following with what he says in Phil 4:23,
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
And all God’s people say, Amen.