Philippians 1

 

           

                                          INTRODUCTION

 

             Philippi:  Its Inhabitants and Foundation of the Church

 

The Epistle to the Philippians was written about thirty years after the Ascension,

about ten years after the first preaching of the gospel by Paul at Philippi. Christianity

was still young, in all the freshness of its first youth. It had come suddenly into the

world. The world seemed growing old: the old religions had lost whatever power

they once possessed; the old philosophies were worn out; the energies of political life

had been weakened or suppressed by the all-pervading despotism of Rome. Avarice,

uncleanness, cruelty, were rampant in the earth. There was little faith in God, in

goodness, in immortality. “What is truth?” was the despairing question of the age.

The gospel flashed upon this scene of moral confusion like, what it is in truth,

a revelation from heaven!  It brought before the eyes of men a life and a Person.

The world saw for the first time a perfect life; not a mere ideal, but a real life that

had been really lived upon the earth; a life that stands alone, separate from all other

lives; unique in its solitary majesty, in its unearthly loveliness, in its absolute purity,

in its entire unselfishness. The world saw for the first time the beauty of complete

self-sacrifice. And this life was not merely a thing past and gone. It was still

living, it is still living in the Church. The life of Christ lived in His saints. They felt it:

“Not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20). They could tell others the

blessed realities of their own spiritual experience. They were in earnest; that was

plain: they had nothing to gain in the world. Paul especially had renounced a career

most tempting to Hebrew ambition, for a life of unceasing labor — a life full of

hardships, persecutions, dangers, and evidently destined to end in a violent death

(II Corinthians 11:23-33).  He was in earnest, certainly; he was consumed with an

untiring zeal; in spite of many personal disadvantages, much natural timidity, the

constraining love of Christ urged him to spend and to be spent in his Savior’s work.

And in that work, amid all its difficulties, anxieties, and dangers, he found a deep

and living joy, joy among tears; “sorrowing,” he said of himself, “yet always

 rejoicing  (Ibid. ch. 6:10).  Joy, he felt and taught, was the privilege and the

duty of a Christian, who knew that he was redeemed with the precious blood of

Christ, that the Holy Spirit was sanctifying him, that God the Father had chosen

him to be His own.  No wonder that those early years were years of fruitfulness.

Earnest, truthful natures soon ranged themselves with the preachers of the new

religion; a chord was struck that vibrated in all true hearts; all who waited

for salvation, who were longing after God, were gathered round the cross.

Paul had first come to Philippi about the year 52. It was his first visit to Europe.

He had seen in Asia a vision, a man of Macedonia, who said, “Come over and

help us;” (Acts 16:9) and he came. Philippi was the first Macedonian

city which he reached; for Neapolis, the port of Philippi, was generally (not

always) reckoned as belonging to Thrace. The place had been called

Crenides, or Fountains, a prophetic name, for it became the fountain of

European Christianiy. The city was founded by the well-known Macedonian

king from whom it derived its name (Philip of Macedon).  The soil was

exceptionally fertile; there were gold and silver mines in the neighborhood,

which produced a large revenue. But the importance of Philippi was mainly

owing to its situation: it commanded one of the principal routes between Europe

and Asia; the mountain range which separates the East and the West sinks into

a pass near to Philippi. It was this circumstance, not only the mineral riches of

the neighborhood, which attracted the attention of Philip; it was this, as well as

the wish to commemorate his decisive victory, which led Augustus to plant a

Roman colony at Philippi.  It was a Roman city that Paul found when he came

hither in his second missionary journey: “a Roman colony in Greece,” says Bishop

Wordsworth, “an epitome of the Gentile world.” The settlers brought by Augustus

were mainly Italians, discharged Antonian soldiers. Along with these there existed

a large Greek element in the population; we may say Greek, for the Macedonians

possessed, from the period when they first assumed prominence in Grecian history,

many of the distinctive characteristics of a Hellenic people. The official language

was Latin, but Greek was the tongue commonly spoken. Inscriptions in both

languages have been found among the ruins of Philippi; the Latin, it is said,

outnumber the Greek. The colonists were Roman citizens; the ensigns of Roman

rule, the S.P.Q.R.. (the Senate and People of Rome) were everywhere to be seen.

The colony was a miniature of the imperial city. Its magistrates, properly called

dnumviri, were addressed by the more ambitious name of praetors; they were

attended by lictors.  The inhabitants claimed the great name of Romans (Acts

16:21), the name which Paul and Silas vindicated to themselves in the house of

the Philippian jailor. The Philippians possessed some of the simple virtues of the

old Roman stock. Romans and Macedonians were mingled together at Philippi,

and the Macedonian character seems to have resembled the Roman more nearly,

perhaps, than that of any other of the subject races. The Macedonians, like the

old Romans, were manly, straightforward, and affectionate. They were not

skeptical  like the philosophers of Athens, or voluptuous like the Greeks of Corinth.

Holy Scripture gives a very favorable view of the Thessalonians and Berceans,

as well as of the Philippians. There were only a few Jews resident at Philippi, for it

was a military colony, not a mercantile city. There was no synagogue, only a

proseuche, a place of prayer, by the river-side, and that so little known that

(according to the best-supported reading in Ibid. v.13), Paul and Silas only

supposed that they should find a place of prayer by the Gangites. Thither they

went, with Timothy and Luke, on the sabbath. They found only a few women.

But that sabbath was an eventful day; that little congregation was the germ of

great Churches; the gospel was preached for the first time in that continent

 of Europe which was destined in the providence of God to be the scene of

its greatest successes.  The first convert, Lydia, strange as it may seem, came from

that Asia where Paul had been forbidden to preach. She, with her household, was

the firstfruits of Philippi unto Christ. Afterwards, as Paul and Silas were on their way

to the same place of prayer, they met a slave-girl possessed with a spirit of Pytho;

she recognized them again and again as “servants of the most high God.  Paul

cast out the spirit. This led to the apprehension of Paul and Silas (Ibid. vs. 15-24).

It was the first direct conflict of Christianity and heathenism; hitherto, as at Lystra,

Jews had been the instigators of persecution. It was the first appearance of Paul

before a Roman tribunal, the first beating, and the first imprisonment. Then came

the conversion of the jailor and his family. Thus the Philippian Church was formed –

the purple-seller from Thyatira, the Greek slave-girl, the (probably Roman) jailor,

with the households of the first and last. Two of them were women — one engaged

in a profitable trade, the other a slave; the third remarkable for his earnest question,

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” and for his kind attentions to Paul and Silas

(Ibid vs. 25-34).  We observe already some of the blessed results of Christianity —

the Christian family, Christian hospitality, the religious equality of women

and slaves.There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free,

there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians

3:28). There were others not known to us by name; there was a Church in the house

of Lydia, where Paul and Silas saw the brethren and comforted them before their

departure from Philippi (Acts 16:40). We notice the prominence of female converts

in Macedonia. At Thessalonica (Ibid. ch. 22:4) and at Berea (Ibid. ch. 17:12) many

women, and those ladies of rank, became Christians. Women formed an

important element in the early Philippian Church.

 

 

1  “Paul and Timotheus,” - Paul does not assume his official title in writing to the

Macedonian Churches, Philippi and Thessalonica; it is used in all his other Epistles,

except the short letter to Philemon. His relations to the Philippians and Thessalonians

were those of the deepest personal affection; there was no need of a formal

introduction, especially in an Epistle which has so little of an official character as this

to the Philippians. He joins the name of Timothy with his own, as in II Corinthians,

Colossians, I and II Thessalonians, and Philemon. Thus Timothy is associated with

Paul in every Epistle in which another name is found except I Corinthians, where

Sosthenes only is mentioned; this shows the intimate affection that bound Paul to his

“own son in the faith.” There was a special reason for mentioning Timothy in this

Epistle, as he was so well known to the Philippians, and Paul was intending (ch. 2:19)

to send him shortly to Philippi. But Paul writes in his own name from the beginning.

Timothy was not in any sense a joint author; he may possibly have been Paul’s

amanuensis, as Tertius was in the case of the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:22).

Possibly also motives of humility led Paul to insert other names besides his own; but

it was not to support his teaching by additional authority — he was “an apostle,

not of man, neither by man,” (Galatians 1:1) and needed not the weight of other

names – “the servants of Jesus Christ,” - slaves, literally: “made free from sin

 and become servants [slaves] to God,” whose service is perfect freedom.  We

belong to Him: He is our Master (ku>riov despo>thv -– kurios despotes) as well

as Father, we are His slaves as well as His sons: “Ye are not your own, ye are

bought with a price’’ (I Corinthians 6:20).  Compare the words of the “damsel

possessed with a spirit of divination” at Philippi: “These men are the servants

[slaves] of the most high God” (Acts 16:17).  She felt the difference between her

state and theirs; she was the slave of her Philippian masters, of the evil spirit too;

Paul and his companion were the slaves of God most high. In the best manuscripts,

as in the R.V., “Christ” is put before “Jesus” here. The apostle frequently

sets the official before the personal name of our Lord; possibly because he

knew not the Lord Jesus after the flesh, but saw Him first as the Messiah, the

Christ of God – “to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi,”-

The word “all” is of very frequent occurrence in this Epistle.  There may possibly

be a reference to the dissensions alluded to in ch. 4:2; or, as some think, to the

supplies sent for Paul’s assistance; he addresses all alike, not only those who

contributed; he does not recognize their divisions. But it is, perhaps, only the natural

expression of his warm affection: the apostle was beloved by all the Philippians, and

all were dear to him; there was no hostile faction there, as at Corinth and else where.

Compare the affectionate repetition, “always,” “every,” “all,” in v. 4. Paul uses the

word “saint” as the general name for his converts, like “Christian.” The word

“Christian” occurs only three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28;

I Peter 4:16). Christ’s people are called “brethren,” “disciples,” or “saints.”

Thus Paul addresses the Corinthians generally as “saints,” though many of them

were far from possessing holiness of heart and life. The ancient Church was holy;

the Israelites are called “a holy nation,’’ “saints of the Most High.” They were

holy by God’s election, His chosen people, separated unto Him by the rite of

circumcision. By the same election the Christian Church is holy, dedicated

to God in baptism. This holiness of dedication (compare I Corinthians 7:14) does

not necessarily involve the actual existence of that inner holiness of heart “without

 which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).  But it does imply the

bounden duty of striving after that spiritual holiness. “Ye are the temple of the

living God,” he says in II Corinthians 6:16). “for God hath said, I will dwell

in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my

 people… therefore…let us cleanse ourselves from the filthiness of the flesh

and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 7:1).  The

Greek word a[giov –- hagios (in our translation sometimes “holy,” sometimes

“saint”) is the usual rendering for the Hebrew vwOdq;. The primary idea of the

Hebrew word seems to be that of separation — separation from all that defileth.

God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil” (Habakkuk 1:13); those who are

dedicated to Him must strive by His grace to purify themselves even as He is pure

(I John 3:3).  “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” In Christ Jesus. They are saints in virtue

of their relation to Christ. They were once “baptized into one body” — the mystical

body of Christ. Holiness of dedication can issue in holiness of heart and life only by

abiding in Him (compare John 15:4-6). All saints are one body in Christ; they

are knit together into one communion and fellowship by their personal union

with the one Lord – Notice, Paul calls them “saints in Christ Jesus.” It is true that

the word “saint” may be used here in an official sense, as equivalent to “Christian.”

But:

 

  • It implies the necessity of that which all who are to see God in heaven

            must possess, holiness of heart and life (Hebrews 12:14).  We believe in

            the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth the elect people of God; that belief pledges

            us to follow after personal holiness. We have been once dedicated to God;

            the great aim of life should be self-consecration — the entire consecration

            of our whole nature, spirit, soul, and body, to His blessed service.  Paul

            says in I Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you

            wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be

            preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

  • Saints are such only by being in Christ Jesus. The living branch abides

            in vital union with the vine; the saint abides in spiritual union with the

            Savior. God taketh away the unfruitful branch; the unfruitful branch is the

            ungodly Christian — a branch, indeed, but without fruit, withered, dead.

            (Israel bore not the fruit that God had intended and thus they were cursed;

            cursed by their disobedient history – a la – I & II Kings; I & II Chronicles;

            and the prophetical books of the Old Testament – this severance from God

            was symbolized in Christ’s cursing of the fig tree – Matthew 21:18-20;

            see Luke 13:6-9 – Now we are living in the church age and God has

            turned to the Gentiles [Acts 28:28] we need to take heed lest we fall

            and become cursed as the Jewish people were {see Romans 11:11-32} –

            CY - 2011) - Spiritual life is sustained only by union  with Christ,

            by the abiding presence of Christ, who is the Bread of life, the Life of the

            world. If we would be saints, not in name only, but in heart and in truth,

            we must strive above all things to live habitually, consciously, lovingly, in

            that “fellowship which is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus

            Christ.” (I John 1:3)

 

“with the bishops and deacons.”  In the New Testament the word [ejpi>skopov -

episkoposbishop] is synonymous with [presbu>terov presbuteroselder] –

(compare Acts 20:17; I Peter 5:1-2; I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-7). Paul is

addressing the elders of the Church at Philippi, not bishops in our sense of the

word. It is possible that Epaphroditus may have been the presiding  bishop of

the Church (see notes on Philippians 2:25 and 4:3). If so, we see a reason

why the second and third orders of the ministry only are mentioned, as

Epaphroditus was the bearer of the Epistle. But diocesan episcopacy does

not seem to have become general till the last quarter of the first century. We

know that Paul and Barnabas “ordained elders in every Church” (Acts 14:23)

in their first missionary journey; we need not, therefore, be surprised at the

mention of these official designations in this Epistle, which was written

seventeen or eighteen years later. Paul’s address to the elders of the Church

at Ephesus shows the importance which he attached to the office and to the

faithful performance of its duties. Perhaps “the bishops and deacons” are

specially mentioned here as having collected. the contributions sent to Paul.

 

2  “Grace be unto you, and peace,” - This combination of the Greek

and Hebrew salutations is the common form in Paul’s earlier Epistles; in

the pastoral Epistles “mercy” is added. Grace is the favor of God, free and

sovereign, which rests on the faithful Christian, and brings the gift of peace;

which is, first, reconciliation with God and, secondly, the childlike confidence

 and trustful hope which result from faith in Christ’s atonement.

“from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” God the Father

is the first Author of our salvation; God the Son, the Word made flesh,

brought the message of peace from heaven, and reconciled us to God.

 

  • Grace. Grace is the favor of God, unbought, undeserved, freely given,

            out of His generous bounty. That grace is the origin of our salvation: “By

            grace ye are saved” (Ephesians 2:8).  It is the source of holiness: “By the

            grace of God I am what I am”  (I Corinthians 15:10).  It is an unfailing

            support in all troubles and distresses: “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

            (II Corinthians 12:9).  It should be our earnest effort not “to receive

            the grace of God in vain” (Ibid. ch. 6), but “to continue in the grace

            of God;” (Acts 13:43) for that grace bringeth salvation” (Titus 2:11).

 

  • Peace. Peace is a condition resting on facts external to ourselves;

      reconciliation with God though the atonement of Christ. He bore

      our sins; He suffered our punishment; He gave himself a ransom for many,

      dying in our stead, that we might live. “Christ hath once suffered for

       sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (I Peter

      3:18).  His incarnation, death, and resurrection have wholly changed the

      relations in which we stand towards God. We were “sometime alienated,

       and enemies in our mind by wicked works; yet now hath he reconciled

       us in the body of his flesh through death” (Colossians 1:21).  It pleased

            the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; and having made peace

            through the blood of His cross by Him to reconcile all things unto

            Himself” (Ibid. vs. 19-20).  This is the blessed work of Christ our Lord.

            He hath slain the enmity; He is our Peace. By His act, external to ourselves,

            he hath reconciled us to God.  But the peace of God is internal, the blessed

            possession of the Christian soul. “Being justified by faith, we have peace

            with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).  “Peace I

             leave with you,” the Savior said to His chosen — “my peace.” (John 14:

            27)  Such peace as He had, not freedom from outward care and

            pain, but a quiet heart resting upon God. His path on earth was full of

            bitter sorrow, but His inner life was still and calm. No evil or selfish thought

            ever ruffled the clear current of holy meditation, or disturbed His constant

            communion with His heavenly Father. The peace of God is the blessing of

            the clear, calm spirit that hath chosen the good part, seeking to love God

            only, and to serve Him with an undivided service. It is the blessed

            consciousness of forgiveness and acceptance with God; it is the

            childlike confidence and trustful love which spring from a living faith in

            Christ’s atoning work. It passeth all understanding (ch. 4:7); it is

            the earnest of the eternal peace, the peace beyond the grave. It is the

            peace of God, for it is His gift; it comes “from God our Father, and from

            the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Learn:

 

ü      To be servants, slaves, of Christ; wholly given up to Him; content

      with that service which is perfect freedom.

ü      To think the best of others, to esteem them better than ourselves.

ü      To wish them the best wishes — grace and peace.

 

3 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,” - All Paul’s Epistles,

except those to the Galatiaus, I Timothy, and Titus, begin with a thanksgiving.

In this Epistle the thanksgiving is especially warm and earnest; no cloud of doubt

darkened the apostle’s confidence in the Philippians; he pours forth his gratitude

to God for their spiritual gifts fervently and without reserve. My God. The pronoun

expresses the inner consciousness of personal relations with God; it reminds us of

Acts 27:23, “God, whose I am, and whom I serve.” Upon all my remembrance

of you (as R.V.) is the more exact rendering. The remembrance (not mention)was

continuous; he “had them in his heart,” and that unbroken remembrance resulted in

unbroken thanksgiving.

 

4 “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,” –

Perhaps the first part of this verse is better joined with v. 3, “I thank my God…

 always in every prayer of mine for you all;”  - The Greek word for “prayer”

and “request “is the same, better rendered “my supplication,” as in the R.V.;

it implies not merely a lifting up of the heart to God, but an earnest entreaty for

a necessary gift. We meet now for the first time with that “joy” which is the

keynote of this Epistle.“This Epistle of joy well follows that to the Ephesians,

where love reigns. ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy.’ Joy gives life to prayer.”

 

5 “For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;” - rather,

as Revised Version,  for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel. This

verse should be taken in connection with v. 3. Paul thanks God for their help, their

cooperation towards the work of the gospel. They helped forward the work by their

prayers, their labors, and their liberal bounty.  This fellowship began “in the beginning

of the gospel,” when the Philippians sent aid to the apostle at Thessalonica and

Corinth; it continued “until now” ten years; they had just sent their alms to Paul at

Rome by Ephroditus ( ch. 4:10).

 

6 “Being confident of this very thing,” Paul’s thanksgiving refers, not only to the

past, but also to the future. He has a confident trustfulness in God’s power and love.

The words aujto< tou~to might mean “on this account,” i.e. on account of the

perseverance described in v. 5, but the order seems to support the ordinary rendering.

- “that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it” - rather, as R.V.,

which began. Both ejnarxa>menov – (beginning) and ejpitele>sei (completing) have

a sacrificial reference. The good work is self-consecration, the sacrifice of themselves,

their souls and bodies, issuing in the cooperation of labor and almsgiving. This

sacrificial metaphor recurs in ch. 2:17. The good work is God’s; He began it and

He will  perfect it. The beginning is the pledge of the consummation. Yet it is also

their work — their cooperation towards the gospel (compare ch. 2:12-13) -

“until the day of Jesus Christ:”  The perfecting will go on until the great

day. To the individual Christian that day is practically the day of his death; unless,

of course, he is alive when Christ comes!  “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

(Revelation 22:20)

 

7 “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all,” – It is meet;

rather, just, right. To think this; to entertain this confidence concerning

you – “because I have you in my heart;” -  or, because you have me in your

heart. But the order of the words, and v. 8, make the first rendering the more

probable. His love for them increases his confidence – “inasmuch as

both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel,” -

These words may be taken with the preceding, “I have you in my heart

during my imprisonment and defense. But it is, perhaps, more natural to take

them with the following – “ye all are partakers of my grace.” -  rather, ye all

are partakers with me of the grace. They were partakers of the grace of

God given to him in his bonds and in his work. The like grace was given to

them both for the passive and active sides of the Christian life — both in

endurance of suffering and in propagating the gospel. Thus there seems to

be no reference in the words “defense and confirmation’’ to his public

defense before Caesar (which probably had not yet taken place), but

generally to his work of preaching the gospel, which was both apologetic,

meeting the objections of adversaries, and aggressive, asserting the truth!

 

8  “For God is my record,” – rather, witness (compare Romans 1:9) –

“how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.”

The word spla>gcna, - splanchna - here rendered “bowels,” means the heart,

liver, etc..not the entrails. The expression is remarkable, and is well illustrated by

“Not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20).  He is so united with Christ

that he feels with the heart of Christ, he loves with the love of Christ.

 

            Paul an Example to All Christian Ministers (vs. 3-8)

 

  • HE REMEMBERS HIS CONVERTS. He was possessed through and

            through with an ardent love of souls. Like the good Shepherd, he knew

            his sheep, and cared for them with a sincere, self-sacrificing affection. He

            worked for them while he could; in prison he does not forget them. His

            thoughts are not taken up with his own hardships and dangers. The care

            of all the Churches still occupies his mind. He has his converts in his heart;

            it is his joy to think on their progress in holiness, to thank God for His

            grace vouchsafed unto them.

 

  • HE PRAYS FOR THEM.

 

ü      Intercessory prayer was part of his daily work. He had learned

      of the Lord that men “ought always to pray, and not to faint”

      (Luke 18:1);   he “prayed to God always.” Thus his time was

      fully occupied; his mind was active. He was chained to a soldier,

      he could not visit his converts; but he could think of them, he

      could pray for them. And he did what he could. He teaches us

                        by his example to make prayers and supplications, and to give

                        thanks for all men.

 

ü      He prays for all, always. We notice the constant repetition of

      the word“all in this Epistle. There were dissensions, it seems,

      among the Philippians. The apostle will not recognize their

      differences; he loves them all, he prays for all: all are dear to him,

      all have their place in his prayers.

 

ü      His prayers flow from love. He loves them, he longs for them all,

      and that “in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” He loves them as Christ

      loves them; nay, more than that, he loves them with the love of Christ,

      with the heart of Christ; for Christ was his life:Not I, but Christ

      liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20).  Hence he could say (would to God

      that we could say the same!) that he loved with Christ’s love. Mark

      the intensity of his consciousness of the blessed presence of Christ in

      all His power and love abiding within him.

 

  • HIS HUMILITY. None labored as Paul labored, but he was wholly free

      from vain-glory.

 

ü      He gives the glory to God. It was God who began the good work

      in the hearts of the Philippians; God began it; God will complete it.

      God is everything, the apostle nothing. Yet this confidence in God

      makes the apostle work all the more; it increases his efforts, it

      deepens the earnestness of his prayers.

 

ü      He recognizes the fellowship of the Philippians. They had assisted

      him in the furtherance of the gospel both by their gifts and by their

      labors. He acknowledges their help; he thanks God for it; he regards

      them all as partakers of His grace. Grace had been given to him to

      endure and to labor.  The like grace, he says, had been granted to the

      Philippians; he is thankful.

 

  • HIS SINCERITY. “God is my witness,” he says: his love for the

            Philippians is deep and true; God who sooth the secrets of the heart,

            knows how he longs after them. Living always in the felt presence of God,

            he knows, and gladly knows, that no thoughts of his heart are hidden from

            God.

 

LESSONS.

 

  • Pray for the strong love of souls.
  • Pray for a transparent sincerity and truthfulness of heart.
  • Be humble; without humility there can be no real progress in holiness.
  • Give much time to intercessory prayer.

 

 

9  “And this I pray,” -  This is the purport of the prayer already mentioned in v. 4.

The conjunction i[na - hina -  purpose or result - marks the end of  Paul’s prayer,

and so its purport - “that your love may abound yet more and more” - Your

love; not love for the apostle only, but the grace of Christian charity. Paul finds no

fault with the Philippians.  He prays for their continued growth in love, but not

unintelligent love - “in knowledge and in all judgment;” -  jEpi>gnwsiv

epiginoskoknowledge - is a stronger word than gnw~sivgnosis – a seeking

to know; inquiry - it means full, complete knowledge. The Greek ai]sqhsiv

aisthesis - (literally, sense, insight, judgment) occurs only here in the

New Testament, though aijsqhth>riaaistheteria - (organs of sense) is found

in Hebrews 5:14. “Discernment,” the rendering of R.V., is more correct

than “judgment.” It is that delicate tact and instinct, which almost intuitively

perceives what is right, and almost unconsciously shrinks from what is wrong.

It cannot exist without love. “Every one that loveth is born of God, and

 knoweth God” (I John 4:7).   With love there comes a spiritual sense, spiritual

sight, spiritual hearing, a sense of the beauty of holiness, a fine perception of

Christian propriety; hJ ajga>ph .... oujk ajschmonei~ - love ....does not behave

itself unseemly.”  (I Corinthians 13:5)

 

10 “That ye may approve things that are excellent;” -  Love, issuing in spiritual

discernment, would enable them to recognize, to test, to prove things that are

excellent – “that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.”

Eijlikrinh>v - according to the common derivation (from ei[lh, eilay -  sunlight,

and kri>nw - kree’-no; properly to distinguish, i.e. decide (mentally or judicially);

by implication to try, condemn, punish: — avenge, conclude, condemn, damn,

decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question,

sentence to, think) -  BOTTOM LINE - “judged in the full light of the sun,”

that is, pure, true; compare John 3:21, “He that doeth truth cometh to the light,

that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

According to another possible derivation, the word would mean “unmixed,” that is,

genuine, sincere. “Without offense” may be taken actively or passively; without

giving offense (causing stumbling) to others, or without stumbling themselves. Perhaps

the latter sense is more suitable here. He prays that the Philippians may be true and

pure inwardly, and blameless in their outward lives. “Till,” rather, “against the

day of Christ.” The preposition eijvice – to or into – does not denote time only,

as a]criv - akh’-rece; akin to (a]kron) (through the idea of a terminus); ( end of

time)  in v. 6; it implies preparation.

 

11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness,” - The best manuscripts read

“fruit.”  He prays that their love may abound, not only in knowledge and

discernment, but also in the fruit of holy living. (Compare Christ’s will for us to

bear “fruit...more fruit....much fruit” – of  John 15:1-8 – CY – 2011). The

fruit of righteousness is sanctification, which springs from justification, and

manifests itself in holy living (compare Amos 6:12; Galatians 5:22) -  “which are

by Jesus Christ,” - rather, through. The righteousness of God’s saints is not

that “which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ”

(ch. 3:9 – compare John 15:4). The branch lives by the life of the vine; the Christian

lives by the life of Christ. It is His life, living in, assimilated by the Christian soul,

which brings forth the fruit of righteousness “unto the glory and praise of God.”

The righteousness of God’s saints, springing from the abiding presence of Christ,

shows forth the glory of God. The glory of God is His majesty in itself;  praise

is the acknowledgment of this majesty by the voice and heart of man. The

glory of God is the end of all Christian effort.  (One of the tenets of the Puritans

who came to this country – CY – 2011)

 

 

                        Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians (vs. 9-11)

 

  • THAT THEIR LOVE ABOUND MORE AND MORE.

 

ü      God had begun in them the good work, the work of faith, faith

      that worketh by love. Paul recognizes the reality of their love; it was

      true and deep. But:

 

ü      There is always room for growth in love; it is the noblest of

      Christian graces, the most precious of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

                        The Christian’s desire for love is without limit.  “Owe no man

                        anything,” says the apostle, “but to love one another.” (Romans

                        13:8) -  Love is always owing; we can never love our brethren as

                        we ought. Still less can we attain to that soul-absorbing love which

                        we owe to God. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy

                         heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy

                        strength.”  (Mark 12:30)  - The commandment is very deep and

                        searching; we can never obey it perfectly; we shall be always

                        in debt. But we may approach ever nearer and nearer to that fullness

                        of perfect love. Therefore the Christian’s prayer for love is unceasing,

                        deepening in earnestness as he grows in the knowledge of Christ. The

                        Christian life is a continual progress. “The path of the just is as the

                        shining light, shining more and more” (Proverbs 4:18)  Love must

                        be ever growing, or it will lose its freshness.

 

  • PAUL PRAYS FOR THEIR GROWTH IN KNOWLEDGE.

 

ü      Christian love is not indiscriminate, unintelligent; it is informed

      and directed by spiritual knowledge. Love is informed by knowledge.

 

ü      Love increases knowledge. For it is not book knowledge of which

                        Paul is speaking, but heart knowledge. The knowledge of Christian

                        experience is the personal knowledge of God gained by communion

                        with Him. Only love can know Him; for like is known by like. “He

                         that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love.” (I John 4:8)

                        And, on the other hand, “Every one that loveth is born of God,

                         and knoweth God.” (Ibid. v. 7) - The religious sense, the

                        tact which distinguishes good from evil, which approves among

                        good things the best and holiest, flows out of love.

 

ü      HE PRAYS FOR THEIR GROWTH IN PURITY. The word

      means singleness of mind, simplicity, sincerity, purity. “If thine eye

      be single, thy whole body is full of light.” (Matthew 6:22) - This

      sincerity, this singleness of purpose, springs from love. Holy love

      refines the whole nature; for it brings the Christian daily into

       nearer fellowship with Christ, who alone can cleanse

                        the sinful heart. “If we walk in the light as He is in the

                        light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of

                        Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  (I John 1:7)

                        That inward purity results in outward blamelessness, and prepares

                        the soul against the day of Christ.  (Colossians 1:22; I Thessalonians

                        5:23; Jude 1:24;)

 

  • PAUL PRAYS FOR THEIR GROWTH IN OBEDIENCE. Love

      must work; it cannot lie dormant in the soul. It must produce the fruit

      of righteousness. But that fruit of righteousness is:

 

ü      Through Jesus Christ. “The branch cannot bear fruit of itself,

      except it abide in the vine” (John 15:4); nor can the Christian

      bring forth the fruit of holy living, except he abide in Christ. The

      life of the vine lives in the branch; the life of Christ lives in the

      Christian soul, (Ibid. 14:23) and bears the fruit of holiness.

 

ü      And to the glory and praise of God. The ultimate end of the

                        righteousness of the saints is the glory of God. Therefore we are

                        taught to pray “that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in

                        thee, we may glorify thy holy Name.” (This is one of the main tenets

                        of Puritanism, one of the main reasons that the United States

                        of America reached its greatness – CY – 2011) There can be no

                        nobler ambition: to live for God; only to seek His glory; to love Him,

                        not for what He has to give us, but because He is so holy, so loving,

                        so glorious; (“Be ye holy for I am holy” – Leviticus 11:44; 19:2) to be

                        willing to live or to die; to do great things in the world, or to be unknown

                        and obscure, if only He may be glorified; — this is the noblest aim of life,

                        the highest theme of prayer.

 

 

LESSONS:

 

  • Pray much for others; cultivate the habit of intercessory prayer.
  • Pray for the continual growth and diffusion of love, knowledge,

            righteousness.

  • Seek above all things the glory of God.

 

12  But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which

happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.”

After thanksgiving and prayer, Paul turns to his own imprisonment at Rome. That

imprisonment, he says, has resulted in the furtherance of the gospel, rather than,

as might have been expected, in its hindrance.  In all probability the Philippian

Christians, as well, perhaps, as most other of the existing Churches that he had

planted, would fear that his imprisonment at Rome would prevent the spread of

the gospel. Here he assures them of the contrary, and tells them that it had “fallen

 out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.”

 

 Nothing would seem a greater evil in the early dawn of Christianity than the

imprisonment of Paul. There, banished from his own country, bound in bonds,

imprisoned by the Praetorian Guard, chained day and night to some Roman

soldier, utterly unable to go beyond the limited scene of his imprisonment,

or to address — as he had often done — vast multitudes. There he was for

two long years. During that period it would seem as if the sun of Christianity had gone

down to rise no more, leaving the world to go back into Jewish and Gentile darkness,

intolerance, and superstition. But here the apostle says it was not so.  GOD

OVERRULED EVIL FOR GOOD!

 

PAUL’S IMPRISONMENT HAS TURNED TO THE FURTHERANCE OF

THE GOSPEL. It was not to have been expected; the area of his preaching

was contracted; he himself was suffering and confined. But God makes “all

things work together for good to them that love him, to the called

according to His purpose;”  (Romans 8:28) even things that might seem likely to

interfere with their spiritual work.

 

  • His chains attracted attention: it became manifest that he was a prisoner

            “in Christ,” living in Christ, suffering in and with Christ, for the sake of

            Christ.

 

13  “So that my bonds in Christ are manifest” -  rather, as R.V., so

that my bonds became manifest in Christ. At first he seemed like other

prisoners; afterwards it became known that he suffered bonds, not for any

crime, but in Christ, i.e. in fellowship with Christ and in consequence of the

relation in which he stood to Christ – “in all the palace,” -  rather, as R.V.,

throughout the whole Praetorian Guard; literally, in the whole praetorium,

The word elsewhere means a governor’s house: Pilate’s house in the Gospels,

Herod’s palace in Acts 23:35. But at Rome the name so used would give

unnecessary offense, and there is no proof that it was ever used for the palatium

there. Paul must have heard it constantly as the name of the Praetorian regiment;

he was kept chained to a soldier of that corps (Acts 28:16); and as his guard

was continually relieved, his name and sufferings for Christ would become gradually

known throughout the force “and in all other places;” -  rather, as R.V. and to

all the rest; generally, that is, throughout the city.

 

  • By extending its knowledge in the imperial city. So that my bonds in

            Christ [‘margin, ‘for Christ’] are manifest in all the palace, and in all

             other places.” Or,“So that my bonds became manifest in all the Praetorian

            Guard, and in all the rest.” All the Praetorian regiments, who, of course,

            were the most numerous and influential men in the imperial city —

            the city which conquered the world — would, of course, guard the

            apostle by turns, and to each and all who were in special connection

            with him at the time he, of course, would not only reveal his

            own morally noble and soul-commanding character, but earnestly

            expound that grand system of world-wide philanthropy for which he

            was in bonds.  In this way the gospel would spread in Rome from soldier to

            soldier, and from the soldiers to the civilians. Perhaps there could have

            been no way more effective of spreading the gospel than this.

 

  • Listeners gathered round him: the Prectorian soldiers, among whom he

            lived, one of whom, in continual rotation, guarded him: his imprisonment

            became widely known. The strange fact (it was strange then) that these

            hardships were endured voluntarily, from religious motives, excited curiosity,

            interest; hence many converts.

 

14  “And many of the brethren in the Lord,” -  rather, and that

most. Most of the brethren took courage; there were exceptions – “waxing

confident by my bonds,” -  The words, “in the Lord,” are perhaps better

taken with being “confident.” Their confidence rests upon Paul’s bonds,

but it is in the Lord. Paul’s example gives them courage, because they

know that he is suffering for the love of Christ, and is supported in his

sufferings by the grace of Christ – “are much more bold to speak the

word without fear.” -  better, more abundantly, as R.V. The best manuscripts

read here, “the Word of God.”

 

  • His example encouraged others. Some were timid, frightened. But the

            greater number of the brethren took courage to preach fearlessly. Example

            is better than precept. The sight of a suffering saint, patient, contented,

            happy, does more to win souls than hundreds of sermons. It is a visible

            proof of the power of Christ.

 

  • By encouraging the work of propagation. “Many of the brethren in

      the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak

             the word without fear.”  Those who preached Christ ‘of contention’

            trusted in Paul’s captivity as giving them scope; those who preached of

            ‘good will’ found in it a striking example of evil overruled for good, and so

            gained from it fresh encouragement.” The expression, “many of the

            brethren,” of course implies not all, and those who did not were Judaizing

            Christians and were affected with enmity towards Paul, and would preach in

            their own spirit and in their own way; whilst the others, “the many,” would

            by the noble conduct of Paul as a prisoner, and by the constantly extending

            circulation of the gospel through the Praetorian regiments take encouragement

            and catch inspiration.

 

Here, then, is an example of the principle of evil being overruled for good.

“A strange chemistry of providence this,” says Matthew Henry,  “to extract so great

a good as the enlargement of the gospel out of so great an evil as the confinement of

the apostle.” Three remarks may be offered in relation to this principle:

 

  • That the known character of God authorizes the inference that this

            would be the principle on which He would proceed in the moral

            management of the universe. It is scarcely possible to entertain the belief

            that a Being of infinite holiness, possessing a wisdom that nothing can

            baffle, and a power that nothing can resist, would allow evil to run riot for

            ever in His empire, and make no effort to subordinate it to the advancement

            of spiritual excellence and happiness. Shall error triumph over truth, wrong

            over right, the devil over God? Incredible. Antecedently I am bound to

            conclude that a time will come when the sun of goodness shall scatter from

            the heavens every cloud of evil, however widespread and dense.

 

  • That the Bible supplies abundant statements to support this belief.

      We read that the little stone — that is, goodness — shall not only shatter the

            colossal image — that is, evil — but shall itself grow till it becomes a

            mountain to fill the whole earth (Daniel 2:30-45).  We read of the knowledge

            of God covering the earth as the waters cover the channels of the great deep.

            (Habakkuk 2:14) – We read of the “restitution of all things.”  (Acts 3:21)

            We read of the “kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of our

            Lord, and of his Christ and He shall reign for ever and ever!”     

            (Revelation 11:15) and of things being put into subjection to Christ; (Hebrews

            2:8); of “all things working together for good to them that love God,” (Romans

            8:28).

 

  • That the history of the world is a grand exemplification of this

            principle. The introduction of sin into the world is a tremendous evil; but

            how much good has come out of it! What glorious manifestations it has

            occasioned of God! What moral heroes it has been the means of creating

            amongst men! (And to think that those who never reached this plane

            of righteousness through Jesus Christ, are basically, as Mr. Spurgeon

            says, “an abortion”.  EVERY UNREGENERATE MAN IS AN

            ABORTION.  – CY – 2011)  The crucifixion of Christ was evil in the

            most gigantic form; but to what good has the infinitely good One turned it!

            “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge

            of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.”

            (Acts 2:23).  I rejoice to believe in this principle of good overruling evil;

            it inspires in me the hope that the time will come when every human

            intellect shall be freed from error, every human conscience from guilt,

            every human heart from pain, when all the groans of the human

            creation shall be hushed in eternal silence.

 

15  “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife;” -  The Judaizing

party, whom Paul censures in ch. 3:2, preached Christ, but not from pure motives.

Like the writers of the pseudo-Clementines, they envied Paul, and in the wicked

madness of the odium theologicum (theological hatred), they wished to distress

Paul, to depreciate his preaching, and to exalt their own – “and some also of

good will:” -  The word generally means God’s good pleasure, as in ch. 2:13, but

here simply good will, benevolence towards Paul.

 

vs. 16-17 These two verses must change places according to the reading of the best

manuscripts. The clauses are inverted by the figure chiasmus. (In my Greek New

Testament, this is true – so we will consider v. 17 first -  CY – 2011) – 17 But the

other of love; read, as R.V., the one do it of love. This is better than the other

possible rendering, “those who are of love do it.” - “knowing that I am set for

the defense of the gospel.” Kei~maikeimai - I am set or appointed, as in

I Thessalonians 2:3; not, as some understand, I lie in prison. They preach Christ

out of love — love for Christ, and love for Paul for Christ’s sake. 16  “The one

preach  Christ of contention,”-  read and translate, as R.V., but the other

proclaim Christ of faction; perhaps rather, announce (katagge>llousin -–

katangelousinproclaim)  bring  news of Christ; and that they do out of

factiousness. jEriqei>a – eritheia - derived from e[riqoverithos - a hired

servant, means labor for hire, and is commonly used of hired canvassers, in the

sense of factiousness, party spirit. It is reckoned by Paul in Galatians 5:20

(translated “strife”) among the works of the flesh, and is condemned also in

Romans 2:8 where it is translated “contentious” or “those of strife” -

“not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:” -  rather, as R.V.

(reading with the best manuscripts ejgei>rein – egeirein - thinking to raise up

affliction for me in my bonds). Their motives were not pure; they wished to

make Paul feel the helplessness of imprisonment, and to increase his

affliction by opposing his doctrines, and by forming a party insisting on the

observance of the ceremonial law. Bishop Lightfoot translates qli>yin

ejgei>rein “to make my chains gall me.”

 

PAUL  WAS A CENTER OF MISSION WORK.

 

  • His presence in Rome led to much preaching; his example, his energy,

            stirred up others. There was much activity. But alas! there were dissensions

            even in the primitive Church. There was a Judaizing party at Rome who

            hated the apostle. Their zeal was kindled by his success; they preached, but

            with the design of winning adherents to the Law. Hence there was a

            division.

 

  • Some preached of good will; they knew that Paul was set for the

            defense of the gospel. The sight of his earnestness, his sufferings, excited

            their sympathies, quickened their affections; they were eager to help on the

            good work, to carry the gospel message into places which the imprisoned

            apostle could not reach. They preached out of love — love for Christ,

            love for the work, love for Paul

.

  • But others preached of envy and party spirit. They did preach Christ in

            a sense; they brought news of Christ, they made known the facts of the

            gospel, they spread the knowledge of Christ’s life and death. But they were

            not sincere; they did not in their hearts care for the salvation of souls; they

            preached really for their party — it was party zeal, not love, that

            stimulated their efforts. They were like the Pharisees of whom our Lord

            said, “Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is

             made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves’

            (Matthew 23:15). They envied Paul’s success, and sought to raise up a

            party against him, to make him feel more bitterly the confinement of his

            chains.  The gift of preaching is far inferior to the grace of charity.

            The eloquent preacher may be ambitious, worldly, actuated by party

            spirit, not by the love of Christ.

 

PAUL WAS A SPLENDID EXAMPLE FOR THE IMITATION OF PREACHERS.

“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will,”

(v. 15) - Observe:

 

  • The apostle speaks of two classes in his day. One preached from a

            factious, or a party, spirit. They preached from “envy and strife.” This

            shows beyond question that the Judaizing party — the bitter antagonists of

            Paul — were at work in Rome, preaching in their way the gospel;

            preaching it, not from pure love to Christ and souls, but to gratify their

            own factious spirit and to serve their own little sect. A sectarian preaching

            of the gospel has, alas! ever been common; it is rampant in the world today 

            — men preaching for sects rather than for souls. The other class of

            preachers in Rome were those who preached of “good will” and “of love.”

            These had in them that love of Christ which constrained them to proclaim

            the gospel (II Corinthians 5:14).  They had no factious spirit; they were neither

            of the party of Cephas nor of Paul, but of Christ only; (I Corinthians 1:12-13)

            - they knew “nothing amongst men save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

            (Ibid. 2:2)  Oh that we had more of such preachers in this age! John Wesley,

            in modern times, was one of the splendid examples of this class of preachers;

            he broke himself off from all sects, and would, I have no doubt, have recoiled

            with pain at the idea of a sect ever being formed bearing his name.

 

18   “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in

truth, Christ is preached;” -  rather, only that, as R.V. (compare Acts 20:23).

What is the result of all this preaching? Only that Christ is announced, that the

story of Christ is told. The motives of the preachers may not be good, but the

result is good; the gospel facts are made more widely known, not only by those

who preach in sincerity, but even by means of those who strive to promote their

own party ends under the pretense of preaching Christ – “and I therein do

rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Paul rejoices in the good which God brings

out of evil; though that good is produced by the outward agency of his own

adversaries. Yea, and I shall rejoice. He will not allow himself to be vexed by

the bitterness of his opponents, he will not imitate their party spirit; his joy will

continue, for he knows that, in spite of present hindrances, the result is assured.

 

PAUL IS HAPPY BECAUSE CHRIST IS PREACHED.  He seeks not his own

glory; he is not troubled for himself when others disparage his preaching or his

conduct. He is wholly free from party spirit, from sectarian animosities, from earthly

motives. He rejoices in the progress of the gospel, though that progress may be due

in part to the preaching of men who differ widely from himself, and who are his

personal opponents. What an example of unselfish charity!  Let us learn:

 

  • Never to give way to despondency.
  • Never to allow ourselves to think that we could serve God better if our

      circumstances were other than they are.

  • Always to try to do our best where we are, knowing that He can bring

      good out of evil.

  • The exceeding value of the silent influence of holy example.
  • The great danger of party spirit, the blessedness of charity.

 

  • The apostle’s sublime magnanimity in relation to all preachers.

       “What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense or in

      truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will

      rejoice.” He overlooks the motives that prompt men to proclaim Christ

      in his exultation in the fact that Christ was preached. The motives belong to

      God, and He will deal with them; the message is for humanity, and its

      proclamation by every tongue would render service. Should we not enter

      into this spirit? If the gospel is preached, whether by Papists or Protestants,

      Ritualists or Evangelicals, Churchmen or Dissenters, what matters to us so

      long as it is preached? So long as the clarion sends its blast to warn those

      who have never before heard of the approaching danger, what matters

      it whose lungs supply the breath? Let us try to catch the magnanimous

      spirit of Paul, and to imitate his splendid example in this respect.

 

                        “I saw one man, armed simply with God’s Word,

                        Enter the soul of many fellow-men,

                        And pierce them sharply as a two-edged sword,

                        While conscience echoed back his words again,

                        Till, even as showers of fertilizing rain

                        Sink through the bosom of the valley clod,

                        So their hearts opened to the wholesome pain,

                        And hundreds knelt upon the flowery sod,

                        One good man’s earnest prayer the link ‘twixt them and God?

 

19  “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation” -  Tou~totooto - this,

refers to the general preaching of Christ.  The opposition of his enemies will stir him

up to greater activity and earnestness, and so conduce to his spiritual well-being now

and to his salvation hereafter. This he knows, for “all things work together for

good to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28)  Some, as Chrysostom, understand

swthri>asoteriasalvation - here of present safety or deliverance from prison;

but this seems improbable. The words are quoted from Job 13:16, Septuagint

Version - “through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus

Christ.”  He knows that they pray for him; he humbly believes that those prayers

assist him in working out his own salvation. As the prayer ascends, the supply of

the Spirit descends; compare Galatians 2:5, “He that ministereth [‘supplieth,’

R.V.] to you the Spirit.” The Spirit is the supply; the Lord Jesus sends the

quickening Spirit from the Father. The Spirit is here called “the Spirit of

Jesus Christ”“proceeding from the Father and the Son.” So also

Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:9; Acts 16:7 (in the true reading), “the Spirit of Jesus.”

 

20   “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in

nothing I shall be ashamed,” -  The Greek word for “earnest expectation,”

ajpokaradoki>a, — apokaradokia; which occurs also in Romans 8:19,

means literally, a watching with outstretched head, with the attention concentrated

on one object, and turned away from all others. Neither his sufferings nor the

opposition of the Judaizers will put him to shame – “but that with all boldness,

as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be

by life, or by death.”  After boldness” (literally, boldness of speech) we

should expect the active form, “I shall magnify.” Paul, in his humility, prefers the

passive, “Christ shall be magnified.’’ Boldness of speech was to be his part,

the glory should be Christ’s. Whatever the issue might be, whether a life of

Christian labor or a martyr’s death, it would be well. The apostles were not

omniscient, in relation to their own future lot;  like us, they lived in faith and hope.

 

PAUL’S HOLY CONFIDENCE. He knows that God will make all things,

even this opposition, work together for his eternal salvation. The activity of

his adversaries will stimulate him to greater zeal; it will kindle the sympathy

of his friends, and lead them to pray for him more earnestly. Mark his

absolute self-surrender, his entire submission to the holy will of God.

 

 PAUL’S  SOURCE OF STRENGTH.

 

  • Intercessory prayer. He knows that the Philippians will pray for him.

            When they hear of the bitter opposition of his Judaizing adversaries, they

            will pray the more earnestly that help may be given him in his perplexities

            and trials. He gladly believes that their prayers in his behalf will be heard.

            He knows the power of prayer. He, the great apostle, is thankful for the

            prayers of the humblest Christian. The highest saints are ever the lowliest.

 

  • The supply of the Spirit given in answer to the prayer of faith. “My

            Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.” (Luke 11:13)

            In proportion to the depth, the strength, the reality of prayer, the help of the

            Spirit is given.  That help issues in salvation; “to be spiritually minded is

             life.”  (Romans 8:6) - The presence of the Spirit in the soul is the

            earnest, the pledge, of our inheritance in heaven. He works within us

            that holiness without which we cannot see God. (Hebrews 12:14) - His

            writing in the heart is the counterpart of those golden characters of love in

            which the names of God’s saints are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

 

THE RESULT OF THAT STRENGTH.

 

  • Boldness of speech. A gift to be earnestly desired by all Christian ministers:

      boldness to preach the Word; to be instant in season and out of

            season; to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering. (II Timothy 4:2)

            It is a rare gift; it requires that strength of conviction, that vividness of hope, that

            deep humility, which were characteristic of Paul. With all his thoughts

            concentrated on the one great desire of glorifying Christ, with his assured

            confidence that in nothing he should be ashamed, with his absolute trust in

            the fulfillment of God’s promises, he could speak from the fullness of his

            own personal experience, boldly, persuasively, with a holy enthusiasm

            which mightily drew the hearts of men. Oh that we could follow him as he

            followed Christ!

 

THE MAGNIFYING OF CHRIST THE SUPREME END OF LIFE.

“For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and

the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest

expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with

all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body,

whether it be by life or by death.”  (vs. 19-20) - Here the apostle expresses the

belief that all the endeavors of his enemies, especially of those who, he said, sought to

add “affliction to his bonds,” (v. 16) will turn out to his deliverance. The word

“salvation” here does not refer to salvation of the soul, but to Paul’s

temporal rescue and security. In vs. 25-26, he utters very clearly his assurance that

he should be delivered from his enemies and continue with the Philippians for their

“furtherance and joy of faith.”   May we:

 

  • Magnify Christ. “Christ shall be magnified in my body,”
  • Render all the circumstances of life subservient to that end.
  • Use the supplies of the Spirit of Christ.

 

(Once again, the Puritans believed that man’s purpose on earth was to glorify God. 

Think how far the United States of America has deviated from that once prevalent

theology.  To think that Yale, Harvard, Princeton, were once theological seminaries;

Is not God’s question in Jeremiah 5:29, applicable here? – “Shall I not

visit for these things?  saith the Lord:  shall not my soul be avenged

on such a nation as this? – CY – 2011)

 

  • The glory of Christ. It is this that Paul desires with such intense

            eagerness; not his own glory, not earthly success or earthly comforts, but

            that Christ may be magnified in his body. He is content to leave the issues

            of life or death wholly in the hand of God; willing to live, if his apostolic

            activity is needed for the spread of the gospel; willing to die, if the death of

            martyrdom would best serve his Master’s cause. His one desire is that

            Christ should be magnified in His servant.  Learn:

 

ü      To value intercessory prayer, to pray ourselves for others, to desire

      their prayers for us.

ü      To prize above all things the daily supply of the influences of the Holy

                        Spirit.

ü      To pray for boldness of speech.

ü      But only that Christ may be glorified.

 

21  “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” The alternative suggested

in v. 20 leads Paul to a short digression on the comparative advantages of life

and death; he is content with either. Life is blessed, for it is Christ; compare

Colossians 3:4, “Christ, who is our Life,” and Galatians 2:20, “Not I, but

Christ liveth in me;” - The life of Christ lives, breathes, energizes, in the life

of His saints. His flesh, His incarnate life is their meat; His blood, the

mystery of His atonement, is the drink of their souls. He abideth in them,

and they in Him. And yet death is gain; the state of death, not the act of

dying, is meant (the infinitive is aorist, to< ajpoqanei~n), for the dead in

Christ are at home with the Lord (ejndhmou~ntev pro<v to<n Ku>rion)

in a far more blessed sense than the saints on earth.

 

22  “But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall

choose I wot not.” -  Paul wavers between his own personal longing for rest

in Paradise with Christ, and the thought that the continuance of his life on

earth might conduce to the spreading of the gospel. The grammar of the Greek

sentence aptly represents the apostle’s hesitation. The construction is

almost hopelessly confused. Perhaps the interpretation of the R.V. is the

simplest: “But if to live in the flesh, — if this is the fruit of my work, then

what shall choose I wot not.” Thus karpo>v – karposfruit -  is parallel with

ke>rdovkerdosgain - (v. 21);  to< zh~|n ejn sarki – live in the flesh - is

also a gain, a fruit; the genitive is one of apposition;  the work itself is the fruit.

Paul regards his work as fruit, others seek fruit  from their work. Surely the

Christian’s lot is excellent; he can hesitate  only in the choice of

 blessings; disappointed he cannot be.

 

24  “For I am in a strait betwixt two,” -  rather, but (so the best manuscripts)

I am straitened, hemmed in  betwixt the two alternatives, life and death,

pressing upon me, constraining me on either side – “having a desire to depart, “ –

having my desire set towards departing eijv to< ajnalu~sai - to unloose - depart).

The word occurs  again in II Timothy 4:6,  JO kairo<v th~v ejmh~v ajnalu>sewv

a departure - It is used of a ship, to loose from its moorings; or a camp, to break up;

compare II Corinthians 5:1, “If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved

(kataluqh~| - kataluthae) -– to destroy; dissolve.” Probably here the metaphor is

taken from tent life; to loosen, to remove the tent, the temporary abode, in the

journey to the heavenly city – “and to be with Christ;” -The holy dead are with

Christ, they rest from their labors; they live unto God (Luke 20:38); they do not

sleep idly without consciousness, for they are described in Holy Scripture as

witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) of the race set before living Christians (compare also

II Corinthians 5:6, 8 and Acts 7:59). Yet they are elsewhere described as sleeping

(I Corinthians 15:51-52; I Thessalonians 4:14-15); for the rest of the spirits of just

men in Paradise is as a sleep compared with the perfect consummation and bliss

of God’s elect, both in body and soul, in his everlasting glory – “which is far

better:” -  read and translate, for it is by much very far better. He piles up

comparatives, as if unable to find words capable of expressing the glory of

his hope.

 

24   “Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”

To abide by the flesh (if with some authorities the preposition is omitted),

to hold to this human life with all its trials, is more needful for your sake.

 

25  And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and

continue with you all” -  Being persuaded of this, that my life is needful for

you. Paul’s assurance does not seem to rest on direct inspiration, but on a

calculation of probabilities. The apostles could not always foresee their own

future (Acts 20:22).  The same word oi+daoidaknow - is used in

Acts 20:25, where he expresses his belief that he shall not see his Asiatic converts

again. Viewed as infallible presentiments, the two are hardly reconcilable; for the

one assumes, the other negatives, his release. The assurance here recorded was

fulfilled (I Timothy 1:3); while the presentiment there expressed was overruled by

events (II Timothy 1:15, 18; 4:20) -  “for your furtherance and joy of faith;”

- for the progress and joy of your faith, that you may continually increase in faith

and take delight in it. Joy is the keynote of this Epistle.

 

26  “That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by

my coming to you again.” Glorying or boasting, not rejoicing.  (kau>chma

kow’-khay-mah; from (2744) (kauca>omai - kow-khah’-om-ahee;);

a boast (properly the object; by implication the act) in a good or a bad sense: —

boasting, (whereof) to glory (of), glorying, rejoice (-ing))  Perhaps rather,

“That the matter in which you have to glory [i.e. the bliss in which you rejoice

as Christians] may increase abundantly in Christ Jesus [as the element or sphere

of the glorying] in me [as the instrument or cause].”

 

 

                        ADDITIONAL NOTES (vs. 21-26)

 

            THE GREAT ALTERNATIVE – LIFE OR DEATH

 

PAUL IS PREPARED FOR EITHER; “for,” he says, “to me to live

is Christ, and to die is gain.” (v. 21)

 

  • Christ was his life. Christ was magnified, not in his body only, in his

            labors and suffering, but in his spirit. The presence of Christ filled his

            whole conscious existence; communion with Christ was to him the very

            breath of life. Life was worth having only so far as the life of Christ was

            realized in the apostle’s life. The outward life, with its comforts or its

            hardships, was as nothing in comparison with this inner life of the spirit.

            “Dost thou not, O blessed Paul, live the common life of men?” exclaims St.

            Chrysostom; “dost thou not see the sun, dost thou not breathe the air, dost

            thou not need sleep, food, clothing, like ourselves?” Yes, he needed these

            things; he sent for his cloak and books (II Timothy 4:13).  But he lived in

            the spirit of the Savior’s words, “Take no thought [no anxious thought]

            for your life;”  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:25,33).

            His real life was hidden — hidden with Christ whose presence filled

            his soul.   He was dead unto the world, but alive unto God. He was

            conscious of high thoughts burning within him; there was a power there

            and an energy that lifted him up and strengthened him and filled him

            with calm and holy joy in all his many trials. But that new life was not

            his life: “Not I, but Christ.” Christ was there; that sacred presence

            influenced the whole conscious life of the apostle, keeping up a

            current of pure, high, heavenly thought within his heart. Where that blessed

            presence dwelleth the outward life sinks into comparative insignificance.

            Paul scarcely counted that outward life as belonging to himself; it was

            full of change, shadowy, unreal His true, real life was the Life that lived

            within him. “To me to live is Christ.”

 

  • Death would be gain to Paul. Life in Christ is blessed; still more

            blessed are the holy dead. They rest from their labors (Revelation 14:13);

            death removes them from the temptations, conflicts, cares of life. And to

            depart is to be with Christ, in His immediate presence. To see Him thus,

            without the intervention of the veil of flesh, is gain, unutterable gain. But we

            must know by our own experience the power of Christ’s life indwelling

             in our souls before we can feel with the apostle that death is truly gain.

 

PAUL KNOWS NOT WHICH TO CHOOSE, LIFE OR DEATH.

Who can tell the blessedness of such advanced holiness? Who would not

gladly accept Paul’s sufferings to share his calm faith? Life is blessed,

for it is life in Christ. Death is blessed, “by much very far better,” for it is to

be with Christ. The apostle hesitates; he is in a strait between two

alternatives — work for Christ here, and the life with Christ in Paradise.

 

  • For himself his desire is set towards departing. Death is to him but the

            weighing anchor, or the taking down of his tent, the last stage in his

            journey to the heavenly country. The blessedness awaiting him there is

            beyond the power of language to express; it needs the tongue of angels.

            (I Corinthians 2:9; II Corinthians 12:2-4)

 

  • But he fears there may be something of selfishness in this longing to

            depart. His continued life on earth may be necessary for the progress of

            the gospel. For his converts’ sake he is willing to remain, for their

            furtherance and joy. A high example of most entire unselfishness.

 

  • He leaves his will submissive to the higher will of God. God knows

            better than he what is best for the Church and for himself. One thing he

            knows: if his presence is needful, he shall continue with his converts; for

            his life and death are in the hands of God, and God doeth all things well.

 

LESSONS:

 

  • Death is no strange thing to the advanced Christian; he lives in habitual

            preparation for it.

 

  • He knows that he is in the hands of God; knowing this, he is content to

            live, and content to die; “Thy will be done.”

 

  • More than this, he hath a desire to depart, for to depart is to be with

            Christ.

 

  • But this holy resignation, this calm and blessed hope, implies a life of

            fellowship with Christ. “To me to live is Christ.” Be it our most eager

            desire, our most earnest effort, thus to live.

 

(Dear Reader – I once read where Phillip Henry, Matthew Henry’s father, was

known for his prayer “Lord, Help me to be ready to leave this world, or be left!”

Since I read this, I have prayed this prayer with one exception.  I know what

he means, “help me to be ready to die or cope with those who die around me”.

I take it one step further for those who will be alive when Christ comes at

His Second Advent, we pray, “Lord, help us to be ready to leave!” for if

we are left we will face the awful consequences of sin in a world left for what

the Bible calls “THE GREAT TRIBULATION”.  May we be ready! – CY –

2011)

 

27   “Only let your conversation be” - Paul exhorts the Philippians to

steadfastness. Only, whatever happens, whether I come or no, politeu>esqe,

polityoostheused in the middle voice, signifying, metaphorically, conduct

characteristic of heavenly citizenship - behave as citizens (compare ch. 3:20,

 JHmw~n to< politeu~mahemon to politeuma“our conversation-

citizenship” – and Ephesians 2:19, Sumpoli~tai tw~n aJgi>wnsumpolites

ton hagion“”fellowcitizens with the saints -  The verb also occurs in

Acts 23:1,  (pepoli>teumai - pol-it-yoo’-om-ahee -  “I have lived in all

good conscience towards God.” Paul was himself a Roman citizen; he

was writing from Rome; his presence there was caused by his having

exercised the rights of citizenship in appealing to Caesar. He was writing to

a place largely inhabited by Roman citizens (for Philippi was a Roman

colony), a place in which he had declared himself to be a Roman (Acts

16:37). The metaphor was natural. Some of you are citizens of Rome, the

imperial city; live, all of you, as citizens of the heavenly country, the city of

the living God – “as  it becometh the gospel of Christ:” -  rather, as R.V.

margin, behave as citizens worthily of. There is a striking parallel in

Polycarp’s letter to these same Philippians (sect. 5 - “If we live as

citizens worthily of Him, we shall also reign with Him.”  - “that whether I

come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye

stand fast in one spirit,” -  The metaphor is military, and follows naturally

from the thought of citizenship. Philippi was a military colony, its chief

magistrates were praetors, strathgoi > - strategosmagistrates - (Acts 16:20),

literally, “generals” (compare Ephesians 6:13 and Galatians 5:1). Spirit is the

highest part of our immaterial nature, which, when enlightened by the Holy Spirit

of God, can rise into communion with God, and discern the truths of the

world unseen. In one spirit; because the spirits of believers are knit

together into one fellowship by the one Holy Spirit of God abiding in them

all. This distinction between spirit and soul occurs again in I Thessalonians 5:23.

The soul is the lower part of our inner being, the seat of the appetites, passions,

affections, connected above with the pneu~mapneumaspirit -  below with the

sa>rxsarxflesh.  (I would like to recommend a close study of James 3 -

 see vs. 14-18 – this web site – CY – 2011)  - “with one mind striving together

for the faith of the gospel;” -  with one soul (not mind); i.e. with all the desires

and emotions concentrated on one object, all acting together in the one great work;

compare  Acts 4:32, “Striving together with one another for the faith,”

rather than “striving together with the faith.” The personification of faith,

though approved by high authority, seems forced and improbable. Faith is

here used objectively; the faith of the gospel is the doctrine of the gospel,

as Galatians 1:23, “The faith which once he destroyed.”

 

28   “And in nothing terrified by your adversaries:” literally,

snared, as a frightened horse – “which is to them an evident token of

perdition, but to you of salvation,” -  translate, seeing that it (your courage)

is to them an evident token of perdition, but (with the best manuscripts) of

your salvation – “and that of God.” -  These words are to be taken with “an

evident token.” The courage of God’s saints in the midst of dangers is a

 proof of His presence and favor, a token of final victory (compare

II Thessalonians 1:5).

 

                        The Gifts of Faith and of Suffering (vs. 27-28)

 

Paul’s release is still problematical; it is needful, therefore, that he should make

provision in case he should still be absent from them. He calls them consequently to

citizenship (poiteu>esqe) worthy of the gospel, and to the acceptance of those gifts

which that citizenship implies.  Paul says, whether he lives or dies, whether he comes

again or sees them in the flesh no more, whatever happens to him or to them — let

them mind this one thing, holy living. This must be, he says, your one desire, your one

aim, to live as Christian men should live.

 

 

  • THE PHILIPPIANS ARE TO BE FAITHFUL CITIZENS OF GOD’S

            KINGDOM. (v. 27.) They are not isolated individuals, but members of

            a community, knit together in one body.  We are citizens of the heavenly

            commonwealth, under one heavenly King!   We must fight under His

            banner against the common enemy.  There is need of united action: union

            is strength; we must stand fast, keeping our ground as in battle, striving

            together. Disunion breaks the power of the great army; it dissipates

            Christian energy, and impedes grievously the progress of the gospel.

            The Holy Spirit of God, abiding in the whole Church and in each

            individual Christian, is the bond of union.  The indwelling of the

            Holy Spirit will direct all our affections, emotions, and desires to bear

            on the one great object, the progress of the faith.  Now, what is it which is

            prized in God’s kingdom as of prime importance? It is “the faith of the

            gospel;” that is, the body of truth of which the gospel is the expression.

            It is not for territory nor for treasure God’s faithful citizens fight, but for truth

            (of which God is “abundant” – Exodus 34:6). Hence the spirit which befits

            the kingdom is unity in struggling for “the truth as it is in Jesus” (Ephesians

            4:21).  When the Philippians were able to keep this before them

            as the first anxiety and concern, then would they be acting in

             some measure worthy of their  high calling. And after all, there is

            nothing worth fighting for but truth. Wars of aggrandizement are now

            discredited throughout the civilized world;  and some pretext related to

            truth must now be set forth as the ground of war. If the citizens of this world

            and its kingdoms are brought to this, the citizens of the nobler kingdom

            should contend earnestly and only for the faith once delivered to

             the saints.  (Jude 1:3)

 

  • THEY ARE TO BE FEARLESS CITIZENS AS WELL. (v. 28.) In

            contending for truth we must expect opposition; but before our adversaries

            we are bound to be fearless. Courage is a grace peculiarly fitted for

            God’s witnesses. It a gift of God.  His people can say surely “Greater is He

             that is for us than all they that be against us” (I John 4:4).  And in this

            matter of Christian courage Paul and Silas had given the Philippians excellent

            example. Imprisoned on the occasion of their first visit, (Acts 16) they had

            aroused the attention of the entire prison by singing praises at midnight as their

            feet were fast in the stocks. And in this more serious imprisonment of Paul out

            of which this Epistle came, he was illustrating that heroism which he looked

            for in the Philippians. It was the fearless and dauntless citizen of God’s

            kingdom who was calling for fearlessness from his fellows.

 

  • THEIR FEARLESSNESS WOULD BE A TOKEN AT ONCE OF

            THEIR OWN SALVATION AND OF THEIR OPPONENTS’ DOOM.

            (v. 28).  The courage and heroism of God’s witnesses was a sign of

            coming victory and salvation. It was also a sign of defeat and doom to their

            adversaries. A triumphant spirit often carries the day against fearful odds.

            God seems to give His people assurance of victory, and then to make that

            assurance a most powerful element in the issue. The dauntless are carried

            through discouragement to triumph.

 

29  “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to

believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”  On you it was conferred

(ejcari>sqhecharisthaeare freely given)  as a gracious gift, a free spontaneous

act of Divine bounty.  Faith in Christ is the gift of God, so is “the fellowship of

His sufferings”  (ch. 3:10).  It is not a burden, but a privilege:  “In all these

things  we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

(Romans 8:37)

 

30  “Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in

me.”  These words are best taken with vs. 27-28 and 29 being parenthetical.

The apostle returns to the military or gladiatorial metaphor of a contest, ajgw>n -–

agonconflict, contention, fight, race.  He had himself been persecuted at Philippi

(Acts 16.; I Thessalonians 2:2); now the Philippians heard of his Roman

imprisonment, and were themselves suffering similar persecutions.

 

 

  • BELIEVING AND SUFFERING ARE TWIN GIFTS OF GOD.

            (v. 29) -  This arrangement brings the whole course of God’s

            administration before us. He gives His people on Christ’s behalf, not only

            to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him. It is sweet to think of faith

            being thus the gift of God. The suspicion which we cherish by nature

            gives place to the trust which comes through grace. And with trust there

            comes suffering. It is a most precious gift. In Miss Procter’s ‘Legends and

            Lyrics’ we have an exquisite piece entitled “Treasures,” where the following

            verse will help to elucidate this passage:

 

                                    “Suffering that I dreaded,

                                         Ignorant of her charms,

                                    Laid the fair child, Pity,

                                         Smiling in my arms.”

 

 

 

  • THE SIMILARITY OF EXPERIENCE BETWEEN PAUL AND THE

            PHILIPPIANS. (v. 30) - For Paul’s experience had embraced the twin

            gifts too. He had learned to believe on Christ and to suffer for Him. There

            had nothing happened unto him, therefore, but that which is common to

            men (I Corinthians 10:13); and he wishes the Philippians to appreciate this.

            Our temptation is to represent our trials as unparalleled. The truth is that

            they can be paralleled and exceeded by the experience in the next house

            or next street. (Solomon spoke of “every man the plague of his own

            heart” - I Kings 8:38)  - Paul at Philippi and Paul at Rome presents the

            common inheritance of faith and trial which the people of God everywhere

            experience. Let us consequently take kindly to what God gives — He

            sends us trial and He sends us faith in such blessed proportions as to

            ensure a character in some way worthy of His kingdom.

 

Patience, as well as courage, is the gift of God. It is as high a privilege to be called to

suffer with Christ and for Christ, as it is to work for Him.

 

  • The gospel is the good tidings of God’s unspeakable gift: think of your

            Christian privileges, your Christian responsibilities, and walk worthily of

            the gospel.

 

  • Pray for the grace of perseverance, pray for it daily, earnestly.

 

  • Endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit.

 

  • Remember that suffering comes from our Father in heaven; He

            chasteneth us for our profit. Suffering meekly borne, borne in the faith of

            Christ and out of love for Christ, becomes a blessing.

 

 

 

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