Justin delivered an excellent message today – finishing off Philippians chapter 1 and moving into chapter 2. He pointed out that Philippi was a city initially populated by retired Roman veterans and modeled on the city of Rome. If you know anything about Roman military history the comments of the end of Philippians chapter 2 have special resonance:
- stand fast in unified unity (v27)
- don’t be afraid of the enemy – your confidence is a sign of your victory and their defeat (v28)
- you have been granted the privileged of suffering for Christ (v29)
Justin suggested that to Roman military ears these words would have sounded familiar and fit right in with the Roman virtues that Philippi espoused. Legionaries were drilled already in the absolute necessity for discipline and teamwork in combat, fearlessness and discipline in the face of overwhelming odds and imposing foes, and desirous for glory through combat despite the inevitable risks and suffering that come with war.
Justin encouraged us to consider the militarily metaphor and think of ourselves as soldiers committed to a mission, willing to work together, enduring opposition and risk in order to seek victory. Legionaries would be familiar with the rewards of Roman victory: the triumphal march, the laurel, the acclaim. And yet Paul opens Chapter 2 with the humility and ethic of King Jesus: let us be unified in humility and seeking first the good of our brothers and sisters instead of our own glory. Jesus is our example in this as he
left glory to humble himself not just to humanity but to a degrading death for our sake. In so doing he became exalted beyond any exaltation a Roman triumph could imagine! God has given Him a name and allows us to participate in the mission:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in
heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.