Sunday, August 23, 2020

“Greet All the Saints in Christ Jesus” [Matt's Messages]

“Greet All the Saints in Christ Jesus”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
August 23, 2020 :: Philippians 4:21-23

The Letter to the Philippians has been a wonderful gift to our church family in 2020.

Paul’s joyful missionary letter to his joy and his crown, his beloved church friends at Philippi has been one of God’s great blessings to us during this tumultuous time of COVID-19.

What a joy it has been! I have loved studying Philippians and doling it out in little doses each weekend to speak to our hearts, orient our minds, and order our steps. I’m going to miss it!

I have preached through Philippians 3 times now in my 22 years here, and I still can’t get enough of this short little joyful gospel-packed letter.

This is our last sermon in this series, and it’s on the last 3 verses in the letter where Paul is basically signing off.

We’ve got to the “goodbyes,” and it’s easy to overlook the spiritual depth and riches here.

But Paul never throws away his words. He’s always thoughtful and intentional with what he says, and these words are inspired by the Holy Spirit, so we should slow down and not just run our eyes over them.

And what Paul focuses on in these last fleeting words of this missionary letter from 2000 years ago, can be summed up with the first sentence in verse 21 which I have taken as the title of this message: “Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus.”

 “Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus.”

You can see how that might get overlooked and missed along the way.

When my eyes hit those words, they are already bouncing over to Colossians.

But Paul ends all of his letters with this sort thing. He believes that greetings are very important. And they are!

“Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus.”

I want to teach this passage under 3 major headings which are 3 G’s.

So, I don’t know anything about cellular technology, but this is a 3G powered message.

1. The Power of Greetings in Christ Jesus
2. The Power of the Gospel of Christ Jesus
3. The Power of the Grace of Jesus Christ

Greetings, Gospel, and Grace in Jesus Christ.

Let’s begin with G1: Greetings.

Paul says to the Philippians, “Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus.”

Now, let’s start with the hard word in verse 21, and that is “saints.” Paul is not talking about super-Christians from the Middle Ages. Paul is not talking about the New Orleans football team.

Paul is talking about all of the genuine Christians at Philippi. “Saints” or literally “holy-ones” is Paul’s favorite name to describe all genuine Christians. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a saint. You have been made holy by the blood of Jesus Christ. 

You are what Paul calls, “in Christ,” and Christ is holy, so you if you are in Christ, you are holy. You are a holy one. And that means that you and I should live as holy ones.

“Saint” is name that both describes us and gives us something to shoot for.

So that when the song says that “the saints go marching in,” it’s talking about when we enter the kingdom. How I want to be in that number!

You and I are the saints if we are in Christ Jesus.

Are you in Christ Jesus?

You and I are the saints if we are in Christ Jesus.

So that the 2011 version of the NIV actually translates this as “Greet all God’s people.”

Paul is sending his personal greetings to all of God’s people at Philippi.

He wants them to pass his greetings on to every single Christian in the church.

Don’t miss that important little word “all.” “Greet ALL the saints in Christ Jesus.”

The English Standard Version makes it clear by translating it “every.” “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.” Don’t miss a one of them.

Isn’t that interesting?

Paul doesn’t want any Christian to go un-greeted at Philippi.

He loves every single one of them and wants them all to know it.

I don’t think we realize what an important thing greetings are [Some of the following insights are drawn from the teaching of John Piper in "Why Do Greetings Matter" at DesiringGod].

Greetings say, “I see you. I know you. I’m glad you are there. You matter.”

They are a tiny little way of saying, in effect, “I love you.”

“Hey there.”
“I know you.”
“Good morning.”
“Good night.”
“See you later.”
“You matter.”
“I see you there.”
“I’m glad you’re here.”

That’s why the greeting ministry in a local church is so important.

When we went back to on-campus in-person ministry here, one of the first things we knew we had to get in place was a greeting ministry.

And even if we can’t shake hands or hand out hugs at the doors, we can still smile in through a mask, and call people by name and welcome and greet them in Christ Jesus.

We’re looking for more people to join the greeting team, because it is an incredibly important ministry on Sunday mornings. And we have 3 worship times that need folks to serve!

Nobody should come church and not be greeted.

Church should not be impersonal where you just slide in and listen and then slide out.

Church is relational. 

It’s hard to do right now. Greetings are hard in a COVID world.

But it was hard for Paul. He was separated by hundreds of miles and by prison bars.

And yet he sends his personal greetings in this letter.

“Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus.”

Now, I’m not sure if Paul means all of the saints who are in Christ Jesus as in, “Greet all of the Christians” or if he means to greet them in the name of Christ Jesus so 

“Greet all of the Christians with a Christian greeting.”

It amounts to the same thing, but do not miss the words “in Christ Jesus.”

Because Paul is all about Christ Jesus.
This letter is all about Christ Jesus.
And the saints, the people of God, are all about Christ Jesus.

Every single one of them.

I think that one of the reasons why Paul emphasizes “all” here is because, as we’ve seen, the Philippians were struggling with one another. Remember Euodia and Synteche in chapter 4? Remember Paul’s instructions in chapter 2 about how to put others ahead of yourself the same attitude as Christ Jesus?

Paul doesn’t greet just one side of the church.
Paul greets all of the saints in Christ Jesus.

And he wants us to, as well.

Paul is trying to avoid division and show no favoritism.

Greeting is a ministry of unity.

Is there somebody you don’t like to greet on Sunday mornings?

Do you only greet your friends and your tribe?

The word of God says, “Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus.”

It’s not just something that official greeters do, though that helps a lot.

It’s something we all are called to do. The whole church is supposed to greet the whole church. “Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus.”

Greetings are small but powerful things.

I was talking to a friend on Friday who said that her old boss if you passed him in the hallway, would pretend you weren’t there. And just go by. Not even a nod.

Why was the TV show “Cheers” so popular?

“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name and they’re all glad you came.”

That’s the bar being like what the church is supposed to be.

“Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus.”

Of course you can fake this, and that’s not good.

It’s not just about being friendly or nicey-nice.

It’s “Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus.” With genuine Christian love.

But it’s also not an option. It’s a command. This is what Christians do. Christians greet one another. They send each other their love in hospitable recognition.


Paul obviously practiced what he preached. If you read the end of Colossians or Romans, there are whole chapters where he greets everybody that he can think of by name.

And here he tells the Philippians who all are greeting them in this letter. Look at verse 21 again.

“Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings.”

That would include Timothy like we saw back in chapter 2. It would include Ephaphroditus, but he’s probably delivering the letter and giving his greetings in person. I love how this shows these were REAL people in the real world! V.22

“All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar's household.”

That’s interesting, huh?

“All of the saints send you greetings,” and you should greet all of the saints.

That’s everybody. Nobody left out. Nobody left behind. Nobody left un-greeted, un-loved, un-included.

And look at this “especially” clause in verse 22.

“especially those who belong to Caesar's household.”

Now, this is the second G for this morning. 

G1 was the power of greetings in Christ Jesus.
G2 is the power of the gospel of Christ Jesus.

“...especially those who belong to Caesar's household?”

Paul says that there are Christians in Caesar’s household!

That doesn’t necessarily mean Caesar’s royal family. The household is the system of  the whole palace. The whole business of Caesar’s palatial system.  

That would include the staff, the servants, the court, the workers, even I think the prison guards in what Paul called in chapter 1, “the whole palace guard.”

But pick up what Paul is laying down!

He says that the gospel has taken root in Caesar’s household.

Just a little hint, but Paul is saying that the gospel is powerful.

He might be chained up for preaching the gospel, but the gospel is unchained.

And we saw there that Paul thought of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, as an unstoppable force.

“...that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

COVID-19 will not stop the gospel.

In fact, I’m sure that God will use COVID-19 to further the gospel.

Paul was in chains in Caesar’s household.

Now, members of Caasar’s household are sending their Christian greetings to the church in Philippi!

People they’ve never met are greeting them as brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

Because of the power of the gospel of Christ Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I need that reminder again that nothing is going to stop the progress of the gospel.

Which should not only encourage us but inspire us to share the gospel with those who need to hear it.

The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.

And we need to believe in that power and then unleash it.

Whom do you need to share the gospel with this week?

There are certain people whom I tend to think of as “tough nuts to crack,” and I shy away from sharing with them.

But if there was ever a tough nut to crack, it was Paul himself. He used to kill Christians for kicks.

But look at him now! In prison and preaching the gospel so that people in Caesar’s own household are sending their Christian greetings to the Philippians.

What’s our excuse?

Here’s what it takes, the last G.

(1) The power of greetings, (2) the power of the gospel, and (#3) the power of grace. V.23

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”

That’s how Paul always signs off his letters, praying that his readers would experience the grace of Jesus Christ.

And here he says, “with your spirit.” Not just externally, but internally.

Paul prays that the Philippians would be fortified from the inside at their very core with the unearned favor of God which comes from what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s all about Him.

This whole letter has been all about Him.

Preaching the Gospel of Jesus (chapter 1).
Loving like Jesus loved us (chapter 2).
Knowing Jesus, there is no greater thing (chapter 3).
And Rejoicing in Jesus (chapter 4) no matter what.

Rejoice in the Lord, always. I’ll say it again: “Rejoice!”

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"
03. "I Will Continue To Rejoice"
04. "Whatever Happens"
05. "Make My Joy Complete"
06. "Your Attitude"
07. "I Am Glad and Rejoice With All Of You"
08. "With Great Joy"
09. "Rejoice in the Lord!"
10. "I Want To Know Christ"
11. "I Press On"
12. "My Joy and Crown"
13. "I Will Say It Again: Rejoice!"
14. "The Peace of God"
15. "The God of Peace"
16. "I Rejoice Greatly In the Lord"
17. "Giving and Receiving"