“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.’‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:35-38
Homework assignment #2
The main point of Phil. 3:17 – 4:9
The theme of joy in Philippians is striking for several reasons. First, it is clear that joy can survive and even flourish in the context of suffering. Paul rejoices despite those seeking to afflict him (1:18); he rejoices even though he is being poured out as a drink offering (2:17); he commands the Philippians to rejoice even thought hey are suffering (1:29). Second, it is striking that joy is commanded. This is a repeated and emphasized injunction of the letter (2:18, 3:1, 4:4).
It is assumed that the Philippians have the capacity to obey Paul’s command. Third, Paul places joy at the center of Christian life. He will continue his ministry to the Philippians for their “joy in the faith” (1:25), he sets himself up as a model of joy (2:17 – 18), and as we already stated, he repeatedly command s the Philippians to rejoice. Fourth, seeing joy cannot be an impure pursuit because Paul desires it (2:2) and sends Epaphroditus for the joy of the Philippians (2:28), and unabashedly commands it. Fifth, and most importantly, joy is rooted in God. Paul uses the phrase “rejoice in the Lord” three times (3:1, 4:4, 10). Although the Philippians are often what prompts Paul’s rejoicing (whether it be their partnership or faith or help), the context of the letter makes it clear that Paul’s rejoicing is over the way in which God is being exalted in them as a work of grace (1:6, 2:13). So at every turn Paul shatters the common ideas about joy. Joy can exist in the midst of suffering, it can be commanded, it is at the center of Christian life, it should be pursued, and it is rooted in God alone.