The Theme of Joy in the Philippians 


This Sunday morning we start a four-week series tracing the theme of joy in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi. Joy is a central theme in the book of Philippians. There are 16 explicit references to some form of either the noun “joy” (chara in Greek) or the verb “rejoice” (chairo) in this short letter. We haven’t time to look at all of them, but I have highlighted in bold the ones we will be looking at, namely joy in prayer, joy in proclamation, joy in unity, and joy in the Lord

In terms of a definition of joy, John Piper has a good one here.

  1. Paul prays for the Philippian believers with joy (chara) because of their partnership with him in the gospel. (1:4-5)
  2. He rejoices (chairo) that Christ is proclaimed – even when Christ is proclaimed with impure motives. (1:18)
  3. He rejoices (chairo) that his current hardship will turn out for his deliverance, through the prayers of the believers and the help of the Spirit. (1:18-1:19)
  4. Paul is convinced that the continuation of his ministry to the Philippians will contribute to their “progress and joy (chara) in the faith”. (1:25)
  5. Paul has joy (chara) when the believers are unified and single-minded. (2:2)
  6. Paul would be glad (chairo) in his sacrifice for the sake of their faith, so that his ministry was not in vain. (2:17)
  7. Paul would rejoice with (synchairo) the believers in his sacrifice for the sake of their faith, so that his ministry was not in vain (2:17)
  8. Paul encourages the Philippian believers to also be glad (chairete) in his life being poured out for them. (2:18)
  9. Paul encourages the Philippian believers to also rejoice with (synchairete) him in his life being poured out for them. (2:18)
  10. Paul is eager to send Epaphroditus back to them, so that they can rejoice (chairo) in seeing him again and be less anxious about his health. (2:28)
  11. Paul encourages the Philippian church to receive Epaphroditus back with joy (chara), since he risked his life for the work of Christ. (2:29)
  12. Paul has no problem with frequently repeating the reminder to “rejoice (chairo) in the Lord,” because he knows how important it is. (3:1)
  13. Paul describes the Philippians as “my joy (chara)and crown” (4:1)
  14. Paul encourages the Philippians to “rejoice (chairo) in the Lord always.” (4:4)
  15. For added emphasis, Paul again commands the Philippian believers to rejoice (chairo). (4:4)
  16. The Philippians’ renewed ability to support his ministry caused Paul to rejoice (chairo) in the Lord greatly. (4:10)

As an accompaniment to this series we’re encouraging people to read a collection of sermons on joy by CH Spurgeon which have been bound together in a book called Delighting in the sunlit upland of grace. There are some copies on the church bookstall.

Robin Weekes, 19/11/2016