As you read through this short epistle to the Philippians, the theme of joy becomes apparent. The word joy is mentioned 5x and rejoice/rejoicing 7x. In verse one of this chapter, Paul seems to be closing out the letter as he writes, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord..”; but then, seemingly changing course, he gives a word of warning against the Judaizers. (As you recall, they are the ones that the Jerusalem council addressed in Acts 15 and Paul also in his epistle to the Galatians. They insisted that the Gentile believers keep the Old Testament ceremonial laws, starting especially with the law of circumcision.)
But on closer examination, we can see the link between his warning about these false teachers and the theme of his epistle- namely joy. Nothing would rob a Christian more of his joy in Christ and the assurance of his salvation, than the thought that he needs to add his own works to Christ’s work on the cross in order to be accepted with God.
Paul uses his own testimony to refute these false teachers; and in so doing, he gives us one of the most beautiful passages on what it means to believe in Christ and what we are to aim for as we live out our Christian faith.