This week I have been studying Paul’s letter to the Philippians. One thing that really jumps out at me is how often he uses the word rejoice. Commentator after commentator point out that joy or rejoicing is a major theme in this short letter. In fact one commentator was said:
Summa Epistolae; Gaudeo, Gaudete.
Which simply means “the content of the letter; I rejoice, now you rejoice!” That is an awesome summary of this letter and its supper fitting too – the word family for joy is more common in this letter than any other Pauline letter.
Ralph Martin in his little but powerful commentary on Philippians in the Tyndale New Testament Commentary Series says this about Paul’s letter:
The value of this fact [Paul’s injunction to rejoice] lies surely in its clear indication that Paul was enabled to rejoice in the most trying circumstances of his captivity. The example of a man whose life is filled with joy, and his exhortations to ‘rejoice in the Lord’ does not proceed from some ivory tower of peace and security. On the contrary, the writer is Paul the prisoner, who is awaiting news which may spell his death…”
Paul knows what it means to suffer, Paul knows what its like to live in despair, yet he can honestly tell this church to rejoice always. Why can he say this? Its simply because he knows his union with Christ is secure.