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Jim's Jots and Tittles. . .

Paul's Joy in Christ

Paul was kept in custody for two years at Caesarea even though he had broken no laws. On top of that the governor kept sending for him hoping Paul would offer him money so he would release him.

But Paul appealed to Caesar and was put on a ship to go to Rome with a guard and several of his Christian friends. And during the year's trip to Rome the ship floundered in the water and fell apart, but all made it to land safely.

And after coming to Rome Paul was kept a prisoner for two years but was allowed to teach about the kingdom and Jesus Christ to all who would listen.

To make matters worse, some of the Christians would preach Christ out of envy and strife, thinking to cause Paul distress in his imprisonment.

This means that five years of Paul's life were taken away from him illegally. Surely one must feel discouraged after being treated so badly.

But when Paul wrote to the Philippians one would never know that he was in prison in the city of Rome. In fact, the Philippian letter is so positive that it has been called "Paul's Joy in Christ."

Paul uses the word "joy" six times. He uses the word "rejoice" nine times. He uses both words in Philippians 1:17-18. He uses "rejoice" twice in verse 18. Certainly the language Paul uses does not indicate a person who is sad about his circumstances. His statement in Philippians 4:4 indicates he is on top of the world when it comes to his circumstances--"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice."

Paul's secret of joy was being "in" Christ. Paul uses the expression "in Christ" or "in the Lord" at least fifteen times.

The Greek word from which "in" is translated means to be enclosed in the interior of some whole or within the limits of some space. Then it is used to indicate that with which a person is surrounded, equipped, furnished, assisted or acts.

Paul could rejoice even in prison because he was surrounded or enclosed in Christ and His will. In Philippians 3:8 Paul says nothing compares to being enclosed with the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord--"more than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ."

It gave Paul joy to share the spirit of his Savior in sacrificing his life, being content with his blessings, preaching the gospel of Christ to a lost world and sharing his faith with those who were also in Christ.

In Philippians 4:6 Paul tells the Philippians how they could find the same kind of peace that he had with God--"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

You see, Paul knew, without a doubt, that our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20). That is why Paul could conclude in Philippians 1:21--"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Do you have the same joy?

—Jim Hunt