Particular People

Philippians 1:1-11
I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi (v.1).

I like to walk around my neighborhood and take in
the sights. As I wander along, my eyes view the
textures, the details, particular names, and particular
places. My street’s texture includes the Williams’ home
(neighborhood patriarchs who sip cold orange sodas on
their porch), the young couple who walk to the market
(always holding hands) and, of course, the third-grade
boy who’s up to some mischief. My neighborhood isn’t
an undefined stretch of houses, but individual people
with individual stories. As professor Elaine Scarry writes,
“Beauty takes place in the particular.”

Sometimes we forget that the Bible’s writers addressed
their words to particular people. They didn’t write to a
vague, general audience, and it’s likely that they had no
idea that their text would be read by so many people
(like us) over such a vast stretch of time. Rather, they
wrote to specific people in specific cities dealing with
specific questions and wrestling with specific problems.
The Bible’s authors were immersed in particulars.

When Paul wrote to the church gathered in Philippi,
he had individuals in mind. The apostle had words
for Euodia and Syntyche who apparently were having
a feud and needed to “settle [their] disagreement”
(Philippians 4:2). He spoke directly to those serving in
the halls of Roman power—in “Caesar’s household”
(v.22). Paul spoke to those he knew had sacrificed
generously to help their impoverished and devastated friends (v.15); and he also
wanted to encourage his faithful friend, Clement (v.3).

The Bible is a very particular book. It cuts into the grain of our lives just as it
delved into the lives of its first readers. Scripture rolls up its sleeves and digs in
with us, amid our doubts, our fears, our sin. Whatever our turmoil, God knows
it—and God’s Word has something to say to it. —Winn Collier

Choose another New
Testament letter (Philemon
is a short one!) and read
it over. Note the many
particulars: specific
issues, unique stories,
and individual people.

What person in your life
has desired to truly know
you? What does it mean
for you to understand that
God knows and cares
about the details of who
you are?


Mandisa - Stronger (Acoustic)