Sept. 8, 2020

What Does Philippians 1:1 Mean? Part 1

What Does Philippians 1:1 Mean? Part 1

Philippians 1:1 (NIV): "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons."


There's ONE word that Paul uses in Philippians 1:1 to identify himself, BUT the translators thought the word was too controversial so they changed it. 🤷‍♀️

Listen to today's episode and uncover what Paul was really trying to tell us.


  • Why Paul doesn't describe himself as an "apostle" in the opening of his letter like he did in the 3 other prison epistles written around the same time
  • The ONE word Paul uses in the original Greek language that translators thought was too controversial and changed it
  • The one other place in the letter of Philippians this controversial word is used and who it describes

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Hey, welcome to The Simple Truth. I’m Julie Carruth.

 Today we begin our verse by verse study through Philippians with the first part of Philippians 1:1, which says in the NIV, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons.”

Paul uses this opening sentence to set the tone for his entire letter making it apparent that this is a letter from a friend to his friends in Philippi. You see, Paul typically began his letters declaring his apostleship. However, with the people in the church at Philippi, Paul didn’t have to defend who he was and why they should listen. They knew him. They loved him. In fact, they had dedicated their lives building the church Paul started there 10 years earlier.  

So, Paul begins his letter of authorship introducing himself and his beloved son in the faith, Timothy, and then he uses an interesting word in the Greek language translated as “servant” as in “servant of Christ Jesus.” But this word really means a slave but because of the negative connotation that this word has, translators chose the word "servant" instead. 

Slaves in ancient times were bought and served their master until they died, or they were freed. 

However, some slaves loved their master’s family so much that even when given the choice to go free, they chose to stay and devote their lives to their owners, completely disregarding their own interests. 

For the Jew, to be a servant of the Lord was viewed as a sign of honor and privilege. 

In Joshua 14:7, Moses is described as the servant of the Lord. 

In Psalm 89:3, God describes David as His servant. 

In 2nd Kings 10:10, Elijah is known as the servant of the Lord.  

There’s only one other place in the letter we’re studying to the Philippians where this word is used and that’s in Philippians 2:7. Here the word “servant” describes Jesus, who was equal with God but took the very nature of a servant.  

And Paul tells us to have this same mind. 

Your Simple Truth for Today:

You have the amazing honor and privilege of serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The very One who controls the entire universe wants you on His team. And when you devote your life to serving Him alone, one day you will hear these words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  

Thank you for continuing to share this podcast with those God lays on your heart and as always you can join us by simply asking your Amazon smart speaker to Play Bible Study.

I’m Julie Carruth, and I’ll see you again tomorrow.