What an amazing journey! It all started because of a vision that Paul had one night when he saw a man standing and begging him to “Come over to Macedonia (presently called Greece) and help them.” He and his traveling companions, Silas and Timothy, immediately concluded that they were to go and preach the good news about Jesus in Europe. During their previous months of travel they had seen wonderful miracles and had also experienced serious persecution as they shared the Gospel throughout Asia Minor. Surely they must have had more than a few questions as they boarded the ship to leave for these new and unfamiliar destinations. Where would they even begin? Who would they encounter? How would their message be received?
What an incredible response! First a professional woman named Lydia and her family “opened their hearts to Paul’s message”. Then because of some unbelievable miracles at the prison where Paul and Silas were sent, a jailer, his family and others believed their message about Jesus. It is likely that a slave girl, some criminals, as well as a few city officials also decided to investigate these truths, as well. It was an unlikely combination of people who formed that first church in Europe in the leading city of the area, Philippi, wasn’t it? But it was these people who brought so much joy and encouragement to Paul in the years to come. You can read this intriguing story for yourself in Acts. 16: 6 – 40.
What a lasting impact! Little did Paul realize when he wrote this letter to his dear friends in Philippi 10 years later, that his words of thanks, his example of contentment and joy, and his careful explanations of what it means to know and to serve Christ, would still make such a huge impact on believers around the world so many centuries later.
You are invited to join us as we begin this 9 week study of the letter written by Paul to the Philippians. Print out your study guides or use them online week by week. Read the weekly introduction to each lesson and we hope you will share with us some of your insights and your challenges. We would love to know about your “progress and joy.”