Paul began his letter to the church in Philippi by letting his readers know that his prayers for them were filled with joy. The reason for this was, as he puts it, "I have you in my heart" (Phil. 1:7). His affection for them was not superficial but rose from deep within. But it was more than that. In the following verse he adds that his longing for them was "with the affection of Christ Jesus." This affection was not one that was like that of Christ, but was Christ himself loving through the apostle. As Paul writes a bit later, “For me to live is Christ” (vs. 21). The partnership that we share with all other believers is one that includes Jesus of Nazareth, the long awaited Messiah, God himself incarnate in his Son. No wonder the fellowship is so profound and incredibly satisfying.
Genuine affection is more than a romantic feeling. It is the result of a relationship in which each party accepts the other without reserve. Unfortunately the word love has been used in such a broad context that we can “love” our husband or wife in a long and satisfying marriage or we can “love” a good milkshake. The love, or affection, of which Paul speaks, belongs in the former category. Perhaps the ultimate definition of love is John 3:16 which, as correctly translated by the Homan Bible, says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son . . .” (see their footnote). Love is correctly described as giving, the opposite of receiving, which is the most characteristic desire of the sinful nature.
To love as Jesus loved is the supreme goal of the Christian living and there is no better description of love than that section of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that reads, in part, “Genuine love is patient and kind. It does not envy the good fortune of others or brag about its own successes. Love is not arrogant, it is not rooted, it doesn't seek its own advantage, it's not easily provoked, it keeps no record of grievances. Love takes no pleasure in injustice but rejoices wherever truth prevails. There is nothing that love cannot bear. It never stops believing, it never loses hope. Love endures" (1 Corin. 13:4-7 in Dear Friends, This is Paul).
No wonder Paul’s heart was filled with joy as he prayed for his fellow believers in Philippi and cared for them with “the affection of Jesus