In the first century there was a baby born in the region of Cilicia (which was within the Roman Empire). As the young boy of a prominent and wealthy Jewish family he was taken to the city of Jerusalem where he was carefully trained in the Jewish laws and customs from his earliest childhood by a guyed named Gamaliel. This young man was a strong student and surpassed many of his fellow students in knowledge of Judaism.
In addition to being a true Hebrew—a Jew—from the tribe of Benjamin he was also a Roman citizen which gave him a level of prestige and freedom and other people likely did not experience. He eventually became a member of the Pharisees, which was described as the strictest sect of the Jewish religion. After the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of a guy named Jesus Christ, there was a group of people that called themselves followers of “The Way.” These were people that we call now “Christians” and this young man—a Pharisee—from Cilicia and educated in Jerusalem as a Pharisee did everything that he could to oppose Christians. He uttered threats with every breath and went everywhere to destroy the church. This man was so passionate to persecute Christians that regularly arrested them, threw them in prison, killed them, and persecuted them in every and any way that he could. At one time he went to the high priest in Jerusalem and asked for a letter giving him permission to go north east to the province of Syria. While traveling north east with his letter giving him permission to persecute the Christians a light from heaven shone down around him.
This young passionate Pharisee fell to the ground and heard a loud voice saying to him, “Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4, NLT). This young man responded, “’Who are you, lord?’ . . . And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:5-6). This young man went into the city and a little time later the Lord spoke to a man named Ananias saying, “He is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.’” (Acts 9:15–16, NLT).
That story I have just shared with you is the first half of the life of Paul, the man who wrote this letter to the Philippians and who wrote a total of thirteen letters that are included in our Bible, which is almost half of the books of the New Testament. On that road his life was drastically changed. Everything he had done and everything he stood for was changed. And, from then on he truly lived the Life for Christ.
“The Apostle Paul” by Rembrandt (1606-1669)
I. NEVER ASHAMED (Phil 1:19-21)
A. Prayers for Paul (v. 19)
“For, I know that this will lead to my deliverance through your prayers and assistance of Jesus Christ’s Spirit.” (Phil 1:19)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.[/ref]
1. Assistance & Support
This “assistance” spoken of here is what Paul had and will reference about how the Philippians had supported him (4:10, 15-16, 18). Paul told the Corinthians that their prayers also helped him (1 Cor 1:11). “This word was originally used to describe the supply a choir manager would provide to all the members of a Greek choir (who performed in the Greek plays). In short, he took care of all their living expenses. The word then came to mean a full supply of any kind” (Comfort, Philippians, 160).