After a year together in this glorious letter, we have come to our final exposition of Paul's word to the Philippians. In this article we are bidding farewell to the letter of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians in this series.

He ends this letter with four greetings and one grace and he teaches us three things in those four greetings and in that one grace.

First, let's look at the greetings. I want to draw your attention to three of them. Read verses 21-22: "Greet every saint in Christ Jesus...the brothers who are with me greet you...all the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household." Notice specifically the first three greetings.

I. The Importance Of The Communion Of The Saints Through Life And Ministry

The first greeting comes from Paul. It's Paul's greeting to the Philippian congregation, but he says it in a really interesting way. He says, "Greet every saint in Christ Jesus." In other words, the Apostle Paul is wanting to extend his personal greeting not simply to the congregation at large, but individually he wants them to know that he is sending his greeting to them.

Then, he extends greetings from the brothers who are with him. You remember that even though there were some who were not cooperating with Paul, Paul always had Timothy and he always had Epaphroditus, and there were others as well who were faithful to him every step of the way. And he says those brothers give their greetings to you as well.

And then, again in verse 22, he says, "All the saints greet you." In other words, there's a church-wide message of greeting that comes from all the Roman Christians to the Christians in the church at Philippi. Paul is modeling for us again here an important aspect of the Christian life: the communion of the saints. He wants us to think congregationally, and he wants us to think Christianly; that is, he wants us to be concerned for the whole of our congregation, he wants us to think in terms of our relationship with other congregations, and he wants us to think about the things which uniquely unite us in fraternal bonds as Christians.

He also wants to show us how to relate to our missionaries and church-planters and campus ministers. We ought to know them by name, we ought to greet them by name, and we ought to care about what's going on in their lives. They ought to know that we are regularly praying for them. We ought to be writing them, if not calling them. And they ought to know that when they're prayed for in our congregations, they are not a name unassociated with any personal relationship, but they are people that are genuinely loved and cared for by our congregations.

And Paul is modeling for us even in these greetings the communion of the saints in life and ministry.

II. The Power of God's Gospel for Conversion, Even in the Halls of Power

But there's a second thing that he's doing in these greetings as well. Paul is showing us the power of God's gospel for conversion, even in the halls of power. He's showing us the power of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit to change sinners, and you see it especially in verse 22: "All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household."

Now, you realize what Paul's saying there? It's the only time he ever says this. He's saying, "Philippians, I just want you to know this. There are Christians now in the emperor's household. In that mad, maniacal, wicked man's household, there are now Christians." In the very highest reaches of the realms of this empire, God has converted sinners and built the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. "Be encouraged," he's saying.

Think of it, my friends. Thirty years after Jesus is crucified, this marginal, persecuted, minority sect has converts in the household of the emperor of the Roman Empire. In the year 197, about 130 years after Paul wrote these words Tertullian wrote a letter to Roman citizens saying this:

"We are but of yesterday, but we have filled your empire. Your cities, your islands, your forts, your towns, your marketplaces, your very military camps and wards and companies, and palace and senate and forum - all of these swarm with Christians. We have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods. They are the only places that you can name in your empire where there are not Christians."

One hundred fifteen years after that, in about 315, the Christian religion will be made legal for the first time in the Roman Empire, and then less than 75 years later Christianity will become the official religion of the Roman Empire.

How can Christianity go from in A.D. 30 with twelve disciples and a larger circle of seventy around them to being the official religion of the Roman Empire in less than four centuries? The Apostle Paul wants you to know the reason is because of the converting power of the gospel, and of God the Holy Spirit. He can convert people even in Nero's household.

Let us with the Philippians be of good cheer. It does not matter what is happening in society; the gospel is still the power of God unto salvation for them that believe, and God can change anyone, anywhere, any time. He's sovereign.

III. A Blessing.

And then he pronounces a blessing. You see it in verse 23. Here's the grace. We've looked at the four greetings; now the grace in this benediction:

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."

If you take the image of Psalm 133, of God's blessing being poured out like the oil that is being poured on Aaron's head, and it rolls off his head and down onto the shoulders, and down his garments until it drips off onto his feet from the bottom of his garment the Apostle Paul is saying, "Actually, I'm looking for something that is even more permeating than that as an image. May God's grace, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, be with your spirit. May it penetrate and permeate to the very core of your being and flow out from there everywhere, in and upon you."

Perhaps you need grace today to endure the sins of others toward you. Perhaps you need grace today to face the trial that God has called you to. Perhaps you need grace because of the circumstances in your marriage or your family, or your vocation. Where are you going to get that grace? Only from God. And here's the Apostle Paul, at the end of this book, saying, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ not only be with you, but permeate to the very core of your being, and envelope you and uphold you, and transform you, and change you, and enable you to live in the midst of your trials - in the midst of the obstacles and opportunities of your life to live to God, to walk worthy of the gospel, to have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus. May God's grace suffice for you for the living of these days."