June 29, 2018

Surprise Ending

Philippians 4:21-22

All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

—  Philippians 4:22

Paul wrote the letter of Romans to people living in the shadow of the Roman leader, Caesar, without once mentioning his name. Caesar, of course, fancied himself as the “God and Lord” of the Roman Empire. It said so on most Roman coins. Yet throughout Romans, Paul undercut those idolatrous claims by pointing to the real Lord of lords and King of kings, Jesus Christ!

As we noted earlier this month, Paul was in prison in Rome when he wrote this letter to the Philippians. He was in prison because he had been accused falsely of wrongdoing as a missionary. And because he was a Roman citizen, he had appealed that his case be judged by Caesar, so off to Rome he went. (See Acts 21-28.)

Now, at the end of this letter, how delightful it is to hear that among the people who had become Christians in Rome and were sending their greetings to Philippi, some were part of “Caesar’s household.”

What? Jesus had some of his own people living right under Caesar’s nose?! Yes he did.

“The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world,” the apostle John once wrote (1 John 4:4). Few verses bring that point home more vividly than this tiny detail near the end of Philippians. Though he claimed to be all-powerful, Caesar had no power over the advance of our Lord Jesus, not even in his own house! Praise God!

For the boundless power and reach of your rule, Lord Jesus, we give you thanks and praise forever! Amen.

About the author — Scott Hoezee

Scott Hoezee is an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church who served two congregations before joining the faculty at Calvin Theological Seminary in 2005 as the director of its Center for Excellence in Preaching. He is the author of numerous books, reviews, and articles, and he is a cohost of the radio program Groundwork, a sister-program of Today devotional. He is married to Rosemary Apol, and they have two adult children and a Boston terrier named Chester.

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