Paul greets the believers in Philippi. He reports his progress in ministry. He says we are blessed whether we live or die. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ; To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and servants:
servants. Paul usually refers to himself as an apostle. Here he substitutes the Greek word “termdoulos,” which literally means slave.
What words would you use to describe your relationship with Jesus Christ?
the saints. That is, the “hagioi,” the saints. This does not mean they were without sin. It means “set apart” for God. This is how Paul thinks of ordinary Christians.
in Christ Jesus. What words would you use to describe your relationship with Jesus Christ?
overseers. The Greek term “episkopos” literally means “one who oversees” or “one who supervises.” Since the second century, it has been used to designate the “bishop, the official who heads a local church.
servants. The Greek term “diakonoi” means servants, attendants, ministers or deacons.
and. Grace and mercy come from both Christ and God the Father. This bespeaks the divinity of Christ.
VERSE 3. I thank my God whenever I remember you,
with joy. Paul’s hardships, such as imprisonment, made him better, not bitter.
partnership. Paul considered the members of the Church in Philippi to be coworkers in his evangelistic ministry.
Are you a partner with anybody else’s evangelistic ministry?
VERSE 6. being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
he who began a good work in you. That is, God the Father.
will complete it. God began a great work within them, when they came to faith and were saved. He will carry that through to completion!
And God isn’t finished with you. He will keep working with you, and within you, for great and mighty things!
the day of Jesus Christ. That is, the End of Days, the triumphant return of Christ at the End of Time, the parousia. On that day, those loyal to him will be with him and share in his eternal glory.
VERSE 7. It is even right for me to think this way on behalf of all of you, because I have you in my heart, because both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the Good News, you all are partakers with me of grace.
in my bonds. Paul was imprisoned.
The church in Philippi willingly identified with Paul the prisoner by sending Epaphroditus to deliver him a financial gift.
the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. This means the deep yearning and intense, compassionate love of Jesus Christ. Those are fully operative within Paul, thanks to his mystical union with Jesus Christ.
more and more. In our spiritual life, we are meant to grow. To grow is to be healthy; to remain static is to be spiritually ill.
in knowledge and all discernment. That is, in every kind of perception.
Christian love isn’t mere sentimentality. Rather, it’s rooted in knowledge and understanding, discernment and sensitivity.
VERSE 10. so that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense to the day of Christ,
VERSE 11. being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
VERSE 12. Now I desire to have you know, brothers, that the things which happened to me have turned out rather to the progress of the Good News,
brothers. “Adelphoi,” brethren, siblings in Christ.
things which happened to me. That is, Paul’s imprisonment.
the progress of the Good News. That is, what happened to Paul really served to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul’s being chained in a prison cell served to spread the faith.
VERSE 13. so that it became evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my bonds are in Christ,
it became evident. Paul turned his routine encounters with people into an opportunity to share his faith. How can you do that?
palace. That is, the palace guard or praetorium, a contingent of soldiers numbering several thousand.
Over time, many of them would have taken their turn guarding Paul by being chained to his wrists. No doubt Paul would seize the opportunity and talk about Jesus Christ with them, for hours on end.
How can you turn your routine encounters with people into an opportunity to share your faith?
VERSE 14. and that most of the brothers in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear.
more abundantly bold. That is, “fearlessly.”
Even though Paul is imprisoned, and even though the Christian faith is on its way to becoming illegal, he finds the courage to share his faith with other people.
good will. People share their faith for a variety of reasons. Some share their faith insincerely, others with sincerity. The ideal is to genuinely care about people and, out of love, tell them of Christ.
VERSE 16. The former insincerely preach Christ from selfish ambition, thinking that they add affliction to my chains;
VERSE 17. but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the Good News.
VERSE 18. What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed. I rejoice in this, yes, and will rejoice.
whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed. Paul was very open-minded to the evangelistic efforts of others, even those he disagreed with.
Paul could not be viewed as “denominational.” He wasn’t even concerned if other people were operating out of false motives or insincerity.
Can you be that open-minded toward other Christian ministers?
I rejoice in this. Whenever anybody was preaching Jesus Christ, Paul found joy. Do you feel jealousy over the success of others? How do you deal with jealousy? How can you overcome it?
VERSE 19. For I know that this will turn out to my salvation, through your prayers and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
this will turn out to my salvation. That is, “deliverance for me.” Paul hopes that God will turn his imprisonment into a higher good.
the Spirit. In verse two (above), we saw belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ. Here we see a hint of belief in the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
VERSE 20. according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will in no way be disappointed, but with all boldness, as always, now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from the Letter to the Philippians.
to live is Christ. The English word “live” comes from the Greek word ζάω (zaó). It conveys that being among the living is attractive.
It is fully possible to experience a rich life in God. A living person can enjoy a life that is fulfilling and full of blessings from God.
Paul’s main purpose in living was to glorify Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was the essence of his life.
To live means to be united with Jesus Christ; and to die means to be united with Jesus Christ in a deeper sense. In either case, Jesus Christ is central.
When you’re alive in Christ, you can enjoy real life.
You can have a life that is true and worthy of the name “life.” You’re active and blessed. There is living water that flows within you. You’re in full vigor. You’re fresh and strong. You’re powerful and efficacious.
These can be true, in the spiritual sense, whether you’re in your teens or in your 90s.
A life in Christ is a life that’s fully worth living.
to die is gain. The English word “die” comes from the Greek word ἀποθνῄσκω (apothnéskó). It stresses the separation that comes when we pass away.
There is an ending of our “former” life, and a bringing about of what follows. It conveys a natural death at the end of our earthly life. But it can also convey eternal death, which is a separation from God in the realm of eternity.
For the believer, death is gain. After the end of our earthly pilgrimage, we can enter into the realm of eternity.
We will be outside of the time-space continuum. We will be in the direct presence of God. We will behold him face-to-face. We will be loved and cared for. Every tear will be wiped away. We will know a joy beyond our wildest imaginings.
Our experience in eternity will never stop getting better.
It’s wonderful to be alive in Christ. We Christian believers embrace the life God has given us. We cherish it and live it to the full. And yet in the realm of eternity, our existence will be incredibly better.
We can hardly wait!
VERSE 22. But if I live on in the flesh, this will bring fruit from my work; yet I don’t know what I will choose.
fruit from my work. That is, fruitful labor: the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
VERSE 23. But I am in a dilemma between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
depart and be with Christ. In Revelation 14:13, John sees that those who die in the Lord are blessed.
more needful for your sake. Paul made decisions based on what would be better for others, and not based on his own desires.
Do you make decisions based upon your own desires, or for the betterment of other people?
VERSE 25. Having this confidence, I know that I will remain, yes, and remain with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,
VERSE 26. that your rejoicing may abound in Christ Jesus in me through my presence with you again.
VERSE 27. Only let your way of life be worthy of the Good News of Christ, that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your state, that you stand firm in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the Good News;
VERSE 28. and in nothing frightened by the adversaries, which is for them a proof of destruction, but to you of salvation, and that from God.
VERSE 29. Because it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer on his behalf,
VERSE 30. having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
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