About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapter 1
Commentary On Paulís
Letter To The Philippians
commentary is based on the New International Bible, 1984 edition.
Chapter titles in the commentary correspond to the chapter titles
in the NIV for easy comparison.
theme of this letter might well be joy.
The words "joy or "rejoice" is mentioned 17 times
in this short letter by Paul who wrote the letter from prison.
Part of the reason for this joy was based on the fact that he was
now in the midst of his appeal to Caesar, or at least many Bible
teachers believe, something that has taken a few years off his life.
16 tells us the story of
also appears that Paul visited
letter is more like a real letter from a friend to other friends.
Paul was not dealing with problems like he did in his Corinthian,
Galatian and Colossian letters.
believe, as many do, Paul wrote this letter while in house arrest in Rome, awaiting his trial before Nero. See
Acts 28. In verse 7, and
especially verse 13, Paul spoke of being in chains.
Note also in verse 13 that Paul spoke of the palace.
I believe, and again, as many others believe, this to be Nero's
palace, especially in light of Philippians 4:22 where he spoke of those
believers who are members of Caesar's household. If Paul wrote this
letter while in house arrest in
is interesting to note that as far as we know, the church at
was in the
region of the Roman Empire, which is in present day
1 says this. "Paul and
Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus."
In first century Greek the name Paul means "little."
Some people believe that Paul was short in stature.
A second century, non-canonical letter, claimed to be a letter
from Paul to a lady named Thelca states that Paul was short.
was Paul's Roman name. Saul
was his Hebrew name. In
Hebrew Saul means "asked for."
Paul was born a Roman citizen probably because his father or
grandfather purchased a Roman citizenship for some reason.
My guess, and I would say it is a good guess, that Paul was named
Paul began to preach the gospel to the Roman Gentile world he referred
to himself as Paul, not Saul. That
would only make sense because he would be preaching to Gentile Romans
is one misconception that needs to be cleared up.
Some people believe that Saul changed his name to Paul because of
a request from the Lord. The
Bible says no such thing.
see Paul mentioning Timothy here. Itís
not that Timothy was helping Paul write the letter, but that he was
saying ďamenĒ to the letter for at this period of time Timothy was
with Paul. Paul considered
Timothy his son in the Lord as seen in 1 Timothy 1:2.
Timothy was half Greek and half Jewish.
Paul had Timothy circumcised in order to be a better witness when
they entered the Jewish world to preach.
at least to me is an interesting person.
I wish we knew more of his life and ministry.
He was raised by a Christian mother and grand-mother as seen in 1
Timothy, chapter 1. He would
have been like many of us today who were raised in Christian homes from
a baby or at least from the age of a young child.
To see how he came to faith in that situation I would find
interesting. All those who
came to faith in the book of Acts were not raised in Christian homes.
That was not the case with Timothy.
note that Paul calls both of him and Timothy "servants of Christ
Jesus." This is how
Paul viewed himself. He did
not view himself as important in a worldly sense.
He viewed himself as a servant, and not just any servant, but a
servant of Jesus.
Greek word "doulos" is translated here as servants.
It could easily be translated as slave, but for us in the western
world, that is not really an acceptable word any more, but really, in
Paul's day it was. The Greek
word "doulos" was the lowest of the lowest when it came to
slaves. It came to mean a
slave by choice. If a person
was so down and out he might become a slave by choice because a slave
might well have a better life than a beggar on the street.
Paul, we should be a servant of Jesus, a servant also by choice.
Although, one might think that Paul had no real choice, but he.
Even after meeting Jesus in a dramatic way, he still could have
refused to hand his life over to Jesus.
A passage that may have something to do with this is 2
Corinthians 5:14 where he said that the love of God compels or controls
him. The Greek word
translated as "compel" in the NIV means to "hold
together" as glue holds things together.
In context, this verse tells me that even in the tough times Paul
went through, it is God's love that keeps him glued together, keeps him
from giving up. I think that
part of the experience Paul felt when meeting Jesus in Acts 9 was
sensing the love of God. Could
he have said no to Jesus? I
think so, but the love of God made that very difficult.
servant is humble, not arrogant. He
knows his position in life and accepts it.
Most of all, he serves his Lord and those his Lord asks him to
serve. I believe the true
mark of a Christian is his ability to serve, even if he does not get any
recognition for his service. That
was the life of Jesus and it should be our life as well.
in verse 1 we see that Paul is writing "to all the saints in
the word saints. The Greek
word "hagios" is translated as saints in the New Testament.
It means "holy ones."
All Christians, not some as Catholics believe, are saints.
also makes mention that he is writing not only to the saints but also to
the "overseers and deacons."
The overseers were elders. They
were a group of men who cared for the people of God. Once
again, these people cared for Godís people as if they were fathers in
a family. They did not view
themselves as a board who managed the affairs of a church organization.
To see their qualifications and duties you can read 1 Timothy 3 and my
commentary on that chapter.
my thinking based on New Testament teaching that a body of elders,
overseers, shepherds, or pastors, or bishops are all titles referring to
the same ministry. The New
Testament teaches that there are a body of men who care for the people
in the local community of believers.
Our one man pastor was not the norm in Paul's day, and, I don't
believe the New Testament teaches one man leadership.
were men with similar qualities as elders who helped and assisted the
elders. They did more of the physical labour.
We first see deacons in Acts 6, although Acts 6 does not call
them deacons. These men in
Acts 6 were chosen to distribute food to the poor so the apostles could
give their full attention to prayer and teaching of Godís Word. These
men had to be filled with the Holy Spirit, meaning, their lives
exhibited the Spiritís work.
Greek word "diakonos" is translated as deacons here and
elsewhere in the New Testament. It
is the other Greek word that is translated as servant in the New
Testament because that is what the word means.
So, here in one verse we see both Greek words that can be
translated as servants in the New Testament, but in this case it is
translated as deacon. Our
English word deacon is actually translated from this Greek word.
2 says this. "Grace and
peace be to you from God our father and from our Lord Jesus
Christ." Both grace and
peace come from God and from Jesus.
As Paul often does, he puts God the Father and Jesus together in
one sentence. This is very
important for the Christian since the God that we serve is the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We
do not serve any other God.
today's world of religious tolerance we must know for sure that
Christians do not serve the same god as Muslim, or any other religious
group. The present movement
to unite religions, that some Evangelical Christians support, is just
it comes to grace, there are two aspects of grace found in the New
Testament. One aspect is
Godís unmerited favour towards us.
This means that God loves us and has mercy on us even though we
donít deserve it. The
other aspect of grace as seen in the New Testament is that grace is
actually the God given ability to do His will.
God, through His Spirit, can help us accomplish God's will in our
second aspect of grace is not well known, but there are certain passages
where the more common understanding of grace does not fit.
In 1 Corinthians 3:10 Paul said that "by the grace of
God" he laid a foundation among the Corinthians.
That is to say, God gave him the divine ability to lay this
foundation. In 1 Corinthians
16:10 Paul said that "by the grace of God, I am what I am."
It's possible that the more common understanding of grace might
be seen in the verse but I see the lesser known understanding as well.
It was God's divine ability that made Paul who he had become.
In 2 Corinthians 1:12 Paul said that it was by God's grace, His
divine ability, that he was able to conduct himself with integrity among
the Corinthian believers. 2
Corinthians 8:7 speaks of the "grace of giving," that is,
God's divine ability to give beyond measure.
are also two aspects to peace in the New Testament.
We have peace with God, meaning, we are no longer His enemy.
We also have peace in God, meaning, the peace that comes from God
exists in us.
verse 3 Paul says that he thanked God every time he remembered the
verse 3 Paul used the words "my God" in his remarks.
This does not mean that he has a different God than those to whom
he was writing. It simply
means that God to Paul was very personal.
God was his God. The
same could be said of the Philippians.
God was their God too if they had given their lives to Jesus.
As Christians, we do not only believe in God, believe in Jesus,
we belong to God and we belong to Jesus.
It is a very personal relationship.
verse 4 Paul said that in "all my prayers for all of you, I always
pray with joy." Once
again, the remembrance of these people brought joy to Paul.
This was not always the case with other Christians in other
cities as I mentioned above. This
tells us right off the bat that this would not be a letter of
Greek word translated into English as "joy" can also be
translated as gladness. Paul
was very glad these people were maturing in the Lord, as should be the
case with all believers.
would like to point out the pronoun "you" in verses 3 and 4.
In the Greek text it is a plural "you," not a singular
"you." Paul is
writing to a community of believers.
This is obvious by the context but is also seen in the Greek
text. I say this now because
when we come to verse 6, this plural pronoun "you" sheds light
on what Paul is saying that is often missed by commentators.
5 tells us why Paul felt this joy and it was "because of the
partnership of the gospel" that he experienced with those to whom
he was writing. The
preaching of the gospel was the driving force of Paulís life and to
share this ministry with others was a great joy for him.
He considered those at
the 1970's the Greek word, at least in parts of the Charismatic
Movement, "koinonia" was a well known word.
It is translated here as "partner."
This Greek word means "to hold in common."
Christians hold many things in common with other Christians, but
in this case, that which Paul held in common with these people was the
ministry of the gospel. Again,
we see Paul viewing himself as a co-worker in the spreading of the
gospel. He did not see
himself as a dictatorial manager of people in the spreading of the
that Paul said that this partnership began when he first met up with
these people, which, would have been in Acts 16 when he led
6 starts with the words "being confident."
The verb tense here suggests an ongoing confidence.
Paul was confident in the past, still is, and will be in the
future. In actuality, this is a participle, meaning that Paul is
"the confident one."
confidence was in the fact that the One who began a good work in these
people would finish the work unto the day of Christ Jesus.
Then, the work the Lord was doing in these people would be
complete. Obviously it was
God through Jesus who had begun to do many good things in the Philippian
believers, and, if God began this work, He could certainly finish it.
ended the verse with the words "until the day of Christ
Jesus." These words are
in reference to when this good work would be finished.
It would not be finished until the day of Christ Jesus, which
means the day of Jesusí return to earth.
At the end of this age Jesus will complete the good work of
sanctification of His people, and it is clear to me that the finished
work will not happen before that day, even though there always seem to
be some throughout history claiming perfection of both the church and
the individual believer before the return of Jesus.
is the traditional understanding of verse 6. If
God has begun a work in a believer, He is quite capable of finishing,
and actually will finish, the good work.
That being said, this is not exactly what Paul is saying here and
it has to do with the Greek plural pronoun "you" in this
verse. "You" is a
plural pronoun in the Greek text, not a singular pronoun.
Also, the context in the last few verses and the verses that
follow, clearly state that Paul is talking to a community of believers.
That means that God, who has begun a good work in this community
of believers, the church, will continue to do the good work until the
day of Christ.
fact that Paul was speaking to the church and not individuals in the
church means that he did not have in mind that God will continue the
good work in the lives of individuals, which many says proves their
doctrine of Eternal Security. I
do believe that God continues to do a good work in believers, if they
allow it, but, that is not what Paul is talking about here.
verse 7 Paul told his readers that "it is right for me to feel this
way because I have you in my heart."
The Greek word "kardia" is translated into English as
"heart" in this verse. I
am sure you notice its English equivalent.
It is clear that his readers arenít literally in Paulís
heart. What he is saying is
that his heartís emotions have been given to these people.
They are very dear to him as are all his fellow believers.
Note the personal aspect that Paul feels with these people.
As members in the Body of Christ, we are united with those to
whom the Lord has joined us. It
is all about personal relationships with others.
It's not about attending meetings or being a member in a highly
structured organization. It's
about building loving, caring, relationships with others.
do not know how you view Paul, but to me, especially after studying his
second letter to the Corinthians, I believe Paul was a very emotional
and passionate person, especially as it applies to the gospel and those
he cared for in the churches. When
he gave himself to someone or something, he gave with all his heart;
thus, Paulís heartís emotions were filled with the Philippian
Christians, as is clearly seen here.
This should be the heart of all pastors.
A pastor's responsibility is to care for people, not buildings or
organizational structure. I
understand in today's church there are buildings and organizations that
need to be looked after, but, first and foremost, the roll of the pastor
is to care for people. If a
pastor does not have a caring heart for people, he should not be a
pastor. Paul had such a
can see this clearly demonstrated in Acts 6 when the apostles were asked
to distribute food to the poor saints in
then said this. "Whether
I am in chains or defending the gospel."
It did not matter what situation Paul found himself in.
He could be in the darkness of a filthy, rat-infested, dungeon or
free preaching the gospel. He
did not allow circumstances to effect his trust in Jesus and his love
towards those in the church.
is most people's belief, from what is written in this verse and other
verses in this letter, that Paul was in prison in
those days a Roman soldier would be chained to a prisoner for his work
shift. This was to make sure
the prisoner did not escape. Could
you imagine what it might have been like to be chained to Paul for your
work shift? It is probably
for that reason why many guards came to Jesus, and, why people in Nero's
household came to Jesus, as we will see later on.
last phrase of verse 7 says that "all of you share in Godís grace
with me." Godís grace
was not exclusive to Paul. He
did his best to share the message of Godís grace and when those he
preached to received this grace, he was full of joy.
Again, the idea of sharing of grace shows us that Paul viewed
other Christians as fellow workers with him in the gospel.
Paul did not view himself as a big shot.
He saw himself as one of many people involved in the work of the
Our English word "share" is translated from the Greek word "synkononia," a word I mentioned above. The prefix "syn" means with. Sharing God's grace is something Paul held in common with these believers and they shared it with each other. The idea of sharing grace with each other is very important for the sake of church unity. Christians don't always share or exhibit grace to one another as Paul was saying he had with these believers.
what I've just said above, some translation say that these believers
were sharing in Paul's grace, as in the words "my grace" in
some versions, or, "God's grace with me" as the NIV puts it.
The Greek text does suggest that Paul is saying "my grace"
here. If that is the case, then Paul seems to be suggesting that
God's unmerited favour and His divine ability to do His will that Paul
received from God has also been given to his readers. That is why
Paul viewed these people as fellow workers with him in the gospel.
verse 8 Paul told his readers that "God can confirm what" he
is saying to be true, and that he actually has the "affection of
Christ Jesus." This
means that as Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for us, so
Paul loved others so much that he gave himself for them. Here again you
see what drove Paul to be who he was after he met Jesus.
The love of God drove him to preach and care for Godís people.
He did not do it for money and he did not do it for fame.
He simply did it because of the love of Jesus.
We see this clearly stated in 2 Corinthians 5:14 where he said
that the love of God compels him.
Greek word translated as "affections" here literally means
"bowels" because in first century Greek culture, the display
of "passionate affection" came from deep within the bowels of
verse 9 Paul prayed for these people.
He prayed that "their love may abound."
The word "love" here is translated from the Greek word
"agape," meaning, "sacrificial love."
That is to say, the same love that drives him, he prays will
drive them, or, the same love the motivated Jesus should motivate his
readers. This love is not
formless or some kind of abstract love.
Agape love never is that kind of love.
Real love is always demonstrated in truth and in action as it
says in 1 John 3:18.
said that his love is based on "knowledge and depth of
insight." What Paul is
saying here is that the more his readers, which includes us, understand
about Jesus and what He has done for us, that knowledge will produce a
loving and servantís heart within us.
Christian love is not based on mere sympathy for people. It
is based on knowledge and understanding.
The knowledge and understanding is about Jesus and what the Bible
teaches us. To love properly
is to love the way God loves, and the way God loves is not the way the
postmodern culture, which sad to say, has infected the church, does not
put a lot of importance on knowledge, but you can't read Paul's writings
without seeing that both knowledge and insight that stems from knowledge
is important. Love,
therefore, is more than an expression of the heart.
It is also fenced in by Biblical knowledge and understanding.
If we step beyond the boundaries of Biblical knowledge in our
attempt to love, then we fail to love.
For example, if we cover someone's sin because we think we love
them, we fail to love. There
is a time for us to expose the sin, and when we do, out of pure motives,
we love. It's often called
tough love because it's tough on the one expressing the love and it's
tough on the one receiving the love.
10 gives us the reason why we need love based on knowledge and insight.
Paul said this. "So
that you may be able to discern what is best."
Real love doesnít just give whatever a person wants. Real
love discerns. Real love is
based on truth, and sometimes real love is tough, as I've said above.
It's understanding what is best for the person at any given time.
love is also "pure and blameless" as Paul said. It
is pure in the sense that it does not show favouritism. It does not have
ulterior motives. One does
not love to get something back from the one he is loving.
Love is also blameless. When
one loves as God loves, he canít be blamed for anything when
expressing that love, and if he is, there is no real foundation for the
blame. The Greek word
translated as "blameless" has in its meaning the idea of
"not causing one to stumble."
The fact of the matter is that some do stumble over the truth
when it is presented to them. That
being said, if the truthful love is accepted then it certainly will not
cause one to stumble. Another
way this might mean is that we speak the truth, we love, in such a way
that we do our best that it won't cause a person to stumble.
love Paul spoke of will carry on to the day of the Lord.
Again, the day of the Lord is the day Jesus returns to earth. Real
works of love will endure and will survive the fire of judgment.
Works that are done out of a false love, will be burned by the
judgment of God at that last day, as seen in 1 Corinthians 3. We should
all stop from time to time and evaluate why and how we love.
We need to be sure that it is Godís love that we are expressing
and not a humanistic love for the wrong reasons.
verse 11 we note the phrase "being filled with the fruit of
righteousness.Ē The verb
tense here is a perfect verb. That
means the filling is a completed action.
We have been filled, completely filled with the fruit of God's
righteousness. When we hand
our lives over to Jesus in repentance, and, when we are filled with the
Holy Spirit, God views us as being perfectly righteous, not just in what
we do but who we are. That
is a Biblical truth that we all need burned into our heads and into our
hearts. That being said,
when we receive the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of righteousness, God's
righteousness begins to be worked out in our lives.
The fruit of righteousness is then the works of love that we do
because God's righteousness is being worked out in real time in our
fruits are from Jesus Paul says, who is "the glory and praise of
God." Jesus, both now
and while He was on earth, is the exact image of God.
This is what Paul means when he says that Jesus is the glory and
praise of God. When you see
Jesus, you see God because they are one and because whatever God does,
Jesus does. Such likeness
should begin to be seen in us as well.
mistake I believe Christians make these days is when they think of
Jesus, they think of the earthly Jesus who walked the dusty roads of
verse 12 Paul said this. "Now
I want you to know brothers." By
saying this he is stressing the point that he wants to make in the next
few sentences. He wants
these people to be sure to understand what he is about to say to them.
verb "I want" is a present middle indicative verb.
This means that right now, right as Paul was writing these words,
he wanted his readers to certainly both know and have what they know
influence their lives. The
middle Greek verb is when the subject of a sentence is both doing the
action and also doing the action to itself.
point he is making is that "the things that have happened to him
have served to advance the gospel."
The verb "have happened" is a perfect active indicative
verb. A perfect verb in a
sentence is a completed action. So,
whatever has happened to Paul, which most believe was his imprisonment,
is a completed action. Therefore,
because of Paul's imprisonment, the gospel was being effectively carried
out. He was leading people
to Jesus while in prison. What
a testimony that is.
being said, Paul could well have had in mind all the things that led up
to his imprisonment. All
of these completed things, as bad as they were, had happened to him led
that some newer translations of the Bible, the CSV being one example
inserts the words "and sisters."
That is to say, "I want you to know, brothers and
sisters." It should be
known that the word "sisters" is not in the original Greek
text. It has been added.
This is a product of our modern gender neutral and all inclusive
cultural correctness. I am
sure that Paul was writing to both men and women, but, I do not think it
is necessary to add words to make that clear.
I would suggest that common sense would tell us that Paul is
writing to both genders, we do not need translators to tell us that, or
so I think.
all of the above that I have just said in the last paragraph I do
understand that the Bible needs to be translated from the original
languages into the common language of any given culture.
In today's secular culture when gender neutral thinking is
becoming the norm, I do understand the need for the insertion of the
word "sister," However,
for my generation that is not necessary.
It is only for the next generation where there would be a lack of
understanding if the word "sister" was not inserted into the
put in prison for the sake of Jesus was no problem to Paul.
He viewed it as an opportunity to share Jesus.
He also understood that it was Godís will.
In Acts 9:15 God told Paul that he would suffer greatly for the
name of Jesus. That verse
also tells us that Paul would preach the gospel to Gentile kings, which
most likely, he was about to do.
cannot say that suffering hardship is always from the devil.
It could well be the will of God. It also does not mean that the
one suffering is being punished or disciplined by God.
It also does not mean the one suffering has a lack of faith, as
many Hyper Faith preachers suggest is the case with those who suffer
today. It does not mean that
the sufferer is outside the will of God either.
That certainly was not the case with Paul.
the word "palace" in verse 13.
I believe, as many, if not most, believe this was Caesar Nero's
palace, especially in light of the believers Paul wrote about in chapter
4:22. Everyone in and around
Caesar's palace knew that Paul was in prison for no other reason than
his trust in Jesus. You may
recall that when he was first arrested a few years earlier, no crime as
understood by Roman law was committed.
Paul's faith in Jesus was the reason why the
Jews brought him to the Roman court of law.
The court told Paul that he could be free but he would have to
appear before the Jews again for a Jewish trial.
He refused on the basis that as a Roman citizen he was arrested
and being held as a prisoner illegally.
the word "chains" in verse 13.
Some translations use the word "imprisonment," but
chains is a better word. The
Greek word "desmos" means chains, or, something that ties a
verse 14 Paul said that since he was in chains for Jesus, this
encouraged his brothers in the Lord to "speak the Word of God more
courageously and fearlessly." They saw Paulís strength.
They saw Paul speak the Word of God no matter what situation he
was in. They felt that if
Paul could be so devoted to Jesus, they could be too.
Often persecution does just that. It
often strengthens the church instead of destroying the church as it is
intended to do.
is such persecution that I believe the western world church is heading
for in the future. Each day
that passes, the cultural conflict between a godless culture and the
culture of Christ intensifies. Little
by little Christians are suffering in the western world more than ever
before. It will only get
worse. We should prepare for
that now and have the same confidence and strength we see in Paul and
those to whom he was writing. This
persecution will separate the true believer from the non-believer.
Not all will be strengthened in times of suffering.
Many will fall away from the Lord, if they were really with Him
in the first place.
book of Acts ends with Paul being able to stay in his own rented home
while awaiting his trial. During
this time he could not leave the house but many came to him to hear the
Word of the Lord. It is
estimated by scholars that up to half of the Jewish leadership came to
Paul during this time, and there were seven synagogues in
verse 15 Paul said this. "It
is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry."
Paul most likely used the words "it is true" because
this was being rumored around the country-side, even unto
for the wrong reasons that Paul wrote about were based on
preachers must have been envious of Paul, although being in prison, was
getting a lot of attention. For
those so-minded, they hate to see others get more attention than
were preaching out of rivalry. They
were in competition with Paul. Yes,
they wanted the attention, but, it appears they wanted more converts to
notch on their Biblical belt, so to speak.
out of rivalry and envy still exists today in the western world church.
Competition between various ministries and churches is alive and
well, at least in the western world.
Those Christians in persecuted nations can not afford such
does not end this thought on the negative.
He said that there are some who preach the good news out of
"good will." There
are always some, maybe even the majority that preach Jesus out of good
motives. If you read 1
Corinthians 3:10 to 15 you will see that all Christians will experience
a form of judgment, an accounting before Jesus at some future point.
This is not the Great White Throne Judgment that we see in
Revelation 20:11 and following. This
is a time when we will give account of all we have done in the service
of the Lord. Things we have
done out of wrong motives will be burned in the fire of judgment.
Things we have done out of good and pure motives will be
rewarded. Those who preach
out of impure motives as we see here in Philippians 1:15 will not be
rewarded for their work.
verse 16 Paul said that those who preach the good news out of good and
right motives know that he is in chains for the defense of the gospel
and they preach because of the love Jesus and love for those to whom
Greek word "apologia" is translated here as
"defense." This is
where we derive our English word "apologetics."
Greek word, "agape," meaning "selfless love" is
translated as love here. Paul
is saying that some people preach the gospel out of selfless style love,
as he himself has done. If
he had not preached out of selfless love, he would probably not been in
prison. A true servant of
God expresses selfless love. This
is really the mark of a mature Christian.
17 tells us that those preaching for the wrong reasons are being
selfish. It is all about
self promotion for them. In
the process of promoting themselves and their so-called ministry, they
hope to make Paul's life harder for him.
There is no place in the community of believers to cause another
Christian or Christian leader to be hurt as these men were doing.
There is no place for selfish ambition, but we see it all of the
time. The modern western
world church is full of ministries who are out to promote themselves.
As I have said above, all that these ministries and people do,
even if it does some good, will not be rewarded for by Jesus.
All the work done by these self-seeking preachers will be burned
in the fires of judgment.
said that those who preach out of wrong motives do so to stir up more
trouble for him. I am not
exactly sure what this might look like, but maybe, the more these
selfish people preach, the more Nero would be irritated and thus cause
Paul, who is already in prison to be harmed more.
enough in verse 18 this whole thing does not really matter to Paul.
He was not worried about it.
He said that as long as Christ is preached, that is the main and
important thing. It is thus
clear that those preaching for the wrong reasons are still preaching the
true gospel. There may still
be some benefit to others and the sake of the gospel.
these preachers were preaching a wrong gospel, Paul would rebuke them
openly as he did to those in his letter to the Galatians. It
appears that these men were preaching the right gospel, but for the
wrong reasons. I am sure that Paul would prefer that they preach for the
right reason, but at least the right gospel was being preached and maybe
not everyone recognized the motives behind their preaching, as is often
the case today.
reason why I think those preachers with false motives didn't concern
Paul much was because of his present circumstance.
He was under house arrest. He
had an armed guard chained to him at all times.
He was about to appear before Nero's court.
He might well be beheaded in a few weeks or days. I personally
think that Paul had more pressing issues to worry about than a few
preachers with false motives.
that in the NIV the last phrase in verse 18 is included as the first
phrase in the sentences that is found in verse 19.
Paul said that "he will continue to rejoice."
He continued to rejoice because he knew that what he has gone
through will lead to his deliverance or salvation, meaning salvation
through death. Some
translations use the word salvation while others use the word
deliverance. The word
deliverance, at least how we understand the word today in relation to
the word "salvation" is probably a good word.
Death for Paul would relieve him of all his suffering and bring
him into the presence of Jesus.
is not saying that all the time he has spent in jail gets him saved.
He knew that only trusting in Jesus can save him and anyone else.
What he meant here is that all the hardships that have gotten him
to this place will be over. They
means something. They are
not for nothing. Paul
believed quite strongly that he will be saved or delivered from the
hands of the Romans, one way or the other. That
is to say, he will be released as a free man or die as even a more freer
scholars believe that Paul was eventually set free and he actually got
to go to
should take note of Paul's attitude here.
Even though some were preaching out of wrong motives that could
actually hurt him, he still rejoiced.
Most of us would have gotten very angry and upset.
in verse 19 the reason why Paul felt so confident.
One reason is because of the prayers of these Philippians.
The other reason is because of the Spirit of Jesus who gives him
strength, and, maybe in this particular instance, told him that he would
in fact be released and go to
notice the phrase "Spirit of Jesus Christ."
Who is the Spirit of Jesus Christ?
The Spirit of Christ is the Holy Spirit.
Here we learn something about the Holy Spirit.
We know Him mostly from all the verses that call Him the Spirit
of God, but here and elsewhere. He is called the Spirit of Jesus.
So, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit that comes from Jesus as well
as from God. This speaks to
the plural nature of God.
matter of the doctrine of the Trinity has been a debatable issue for
centuries. It took a couple
of hundred years to work this issue through, with some even being killed
for their stance on the issue. Even
during the Reformation people were executed for not believing in the
Trinity. There are some
Evangelical denominations today that do not believe in the traditional
view of the Trinity.
goes on to say in verse 20 that he ďeagerly expects and hopes that he
will not be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as
always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by
life was all about exalting Jesus by telling everyone about Him and His
salvation. Much like Jesus,
Paul had physical marks in his body because of his association with
Jesus. He had been beaten
like Jesus. He had suffered
much hardship. His body was
a living testimony to the fact that He trusted his life with Jesus.
Paul fully expected that this would not change as he stood before
the emperor of
because of this verse, think Paul expected to be free, and maybe he did.
It might well be that the Spirit of Jesus told him that he would
be free to preach in
this point I would like to insert an article I wrote about verse 20.
have always suggested that the Apostle Paul's ultimate and maybe his
most effective witness for Jesus was his execution.
I am sure that he must have felt some emotional and psychological
pain from the stress of his soon to be excruciating demise.
He would have obviously experienced some momentary physical pain
as the soldier's sword sliced his head from his body, but there had to
have been more. I am also
sure that Paul felt the powerful presence of Jesus through it all.
Like Stephen (Acts 7:56) he might have seen Jesus standing at the
gate of heaven, with arms wide open, waiting for his arrival into
believe Philippians 1:20 is relevant to what I am saying.
"I eagerly expect and hope that in no way will I be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be
exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."
heartfelt hope was to never be ashamed of Jesus.
Whether in life or in death, he would have the courage to exalt
the universal supremacy of his Lord and Saviour.
Even more specifically, he believed his body, as the text states,
would magnify Jesus in death. This
was no superficial expectation. Paul
wrote these words from a Roman prison cell, most likely waiting for his
trial before Nero who would eventually have him beheaded.
He realized that his execution could be immanent.
He understood the seriousness of his situation.
Greek future passive indicative verb "megalyno" is translated
as "exalted" in the phrase "Christ will be exalted in my
body, either in life or in death."
This suggests that in no uncertain terms Paul expected his dead
body would some day magnify Jesus for all to see.
I, therefore, suggest that the very moment Paul's head fell from
his body and onto the ground was his ultimate witness for Jesus.
Paul put his life on the line for His Saviour.
His lifeless exterior form would have exalted Jesus just as much,
if not more, than any Holy Spirit inspired message he would have
have no clue what Paul would have said to the soldier moments before he
died. I imagine he spoke of
the love that Jesus had for the man.
I also cannot imagine how the soldier and those who witnessed
Paul's execution might have felt. Maybe
those in attendance were so cold-hearted from the routine of such
executions that they had no real emotions.
On the other hand, I cannot dispel the notion that Paul's
ultimate witness in exalting Jesus had no Holy Spirit inspired influence
on those who saw his lifeless body.
I have often wondered how many of these witnesses might have
handed their lives over to Jesus after seeing the last chapter of Paul's
life's story unfolds before their very eyes.
life, including his death, is a source of inspiration for us.
Like you and I, he was human.
If he could be so courageous in death, I hope we can be that
courageous in life.
now return to verse 21 where Paul said this.
"For me to live" means that every moment of Paulís
life was devoted to Jesus. You
might say that Paul ate, slept, and breathed Jesus.
His whole existence was all about Jesus.
He should be an inspiration to us all.
goes on to say that "to die is gain."
This means that for Paul, death was no big deal.
He, in fact, thought that death was better than living, only,
because in death he would meet and live with Jesus throughout eternity.
Paul understood that death could not separate him from the love
of God as he said in Romans 8:31 to 39.
many of us, even as Christians, are afraid to die.
We do not have Paul's mentality.
I suggest the reason for this is our lack of devotion for Jesus,
a lack of Biblical understanding, and an unhealthy love of this world.
By saying this, I am not saying we should be walking through our
lives id depression, waiting for our escape from this planet.
We should have the mentality that Paul expresses in the following
verse 22 Paul says that "if he goes on living in the body that will
mean fruitful labour for him."
The word "if" here might suggest that even though I
think Paul believed he would be set free from prison, he understood the
reality that he might not be set free.
you see Paulís mentality here? For
the last half of verse 22 Paul presents himself with a question. He
asks, "What shall I choose? I
do not knowĒ". He
goes on to say that he "is torn between two."
There are two things he really wants and if given the choice he
would have a real hard time choosing.
He was admitting that if given the choice, which he really did
not have, it would be a difficult choice to make.
thing that Paul admits to in verse 22 is that if he stayed here on
earth, then his work for those to whom Jesus had asked him to care for
would be beneficial for them. He
would certainly not hang around id despair, waiting for the day he would
leave this planet to be with Jesus.
He would give his life in the service of the Lord.
23 and 24 tell us what the two things Paul is torn between.
The word "torn" in the NIV is translated from the Greek
word "synecho" which means being ripped apart or having a hard
time being kept together." Paul's
emotions and thought processes, and I would especially think while in
prison, were being torn or ripped in two directions.
The verb "torn" here is a passive voice verb, meaning,
an outside influence was ripping him apart.
The outside influence was his work among the believers compared
to the glory in heaven. Once
again, we see, or at least I believe we can see, that Paul was a very
emotional man. That being
said, I think I can safely say that he did not let his emotions get the
better of him. His
intellectual abilities kept him in balance.
said, "I desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far
better." Paul simply
meant that his desire is to die and be with Jesus.
He could not think of anything better than that.
He said that by far that was the better of the two choices.
Again, I wonder if we would come to the same conclusion as Paul.
Maybe we would if we were in a rat infested prison too.
is always practical and is always driven by the love of Jesus and so he
saw the lost souls that need salvation. He saw his brothers and sisters
in Jesus who can use his help. So,
he continued by saying in verse 24, "but it is more necessary for
you for me to remain in the body".
The only reason why Paul did not want to die and be with Jesus
was those men and women he was helping in the Lord.
These were his brothers and sisters and he wanted to do as much
as possible to help them be the Christians they should be.
As usual, we see the servant heart of Paul.
We see that he always thought of the other people first.
This is true agape, selfless, love.
25 begins with the words "I am convinced of this."
If you saw indecision in Paulís thinking in the last couple of
verses, he wants to leave you with the thought that he is not an
indecisive person. He tells
his readers that he is convinced that he will remain and continue on his
work for "their progress and joy." This
tells me that Paul believed, even though he understood the reality of
things, has was convinced that he would win his trial before Nero and be
verses 25 and 26 we see that Paul had hopes of seeing these Philippians
again. He said "so that
through my being with you." If
he said these words, he surely believed he would be with these people
again. Then once he is with
these people "their joy in Christ will overflow because of
him." Notice the joy
spoken of here is joy as a result Paul's ministry. This
joy was not a superficial happiness as many might think today.
Paul said that this joy was in Christ.
This must mean that Jesus provides a special joy, a joy that is
not attainable apart from Him. Jesus'
joy will overflow according to Paul.
This tells me that Jesus' joy is infectious.
It is contagious. When
you exhibit Jesus' joy, it will surely rub off on others around you.
verse 27 Paul said this. "Whatever
happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel."
The words "whatever happens" suggest to me that Paul
might think there is a slight chance that he will not be released from
prison. If for some reason
he doesnít get to
Greek, the verb "conduct yourselves" is a middle voice verb.
This suggests that as these people give themselves to the gospel
the gospel will have an effective influence on their lives.
then said whether he gets to see them or not he will be happy because
they will be doing as they should, whether he is there or not.
Paulís presence in
should note here that Paul did not feel that the good health of these
Christians solely depends on him. He
knew that in the long run they were responsible to the Lord themselves
on an individual basis for their good health as Christians.
what things Paul expected these people to be doing.
They should be standing firm together "in one spirit"
and as in "one man" as they "contend for the faith of the
gospel." The word
"contend" is translated from a Greek word that means "to
strive together." The
words "one spirit, one man, and strive together" tell me that
the work these people must do in the service of the Lord is a corporate
work. They serve Jesus
together as one unified body of people, something that is sadly lacking
in today's church.
are all individual people, with individual likes and dislikes; with
individual callings and functions in the body of Christ, and with
different thought process and ways of thinking.
With this in mind I do not believe Paul is talking about thinking
alike on every little doctrinal issue.
He must be thinking in terms of vision, in terms of how they live
out the gospel in the service of the Lord.
It sure would be nice for us all to agree on every little point,
but reality tells me that will never happen in this life.
verse 28 Paul said, "without being frightened by those who oppose
you." Christians in
those days had many enemies who were back by an ungodly state.
They had good reason to fear, at least in the human sense of the
word, but Paul said that there is no real reason to fear.
He surely was not fearing, even at the point of death, because
his ultimate goal was to be with Jesus in person.
Death would get him to that goal.
western world culture is beginning to head in the same direction as the
culture in which Paul and these people lived.
Some of us may live to see Christian persecution in the western
world, something we have not seen to any real extent.
said that the fight these believers were having with their opposition
was actually a sign to everyone that the unbeliever would be destroyed
and the Christian would be saved. First
of all we clearly see that the unbeliever in Paulís thinking would be
destroyed. This is eternal
punishment or eternal destruction. Many
in this day in age do not believe in eternal punishment.
They believe in a limited time of punishment, but in the end,
they will be saved. Others
believe in what they call eternal death.
This means that the unbeliever will simply not
exist in any way, shape, or form. I
do not believe either of these views to be Scriptural.
The Bible clearly tells us that the
said that not being frightened by anything an unbeliever can do to you
is actually a sign to the unbeliever.
I would suggest that if someone was afraid of anything an
unbeliever could do to you, that would tell the unbeliever that you
actually had doubts about your faith.
If you were not afraid, that might well cause them to think twice
about their actions. It
might well make them think that what you stand for is right.
I've said, Paul said that this struggle is a "sign" of
destruction for the unbeliever yet a "sign" of salvation for
the believer. The word sign
here means "an indication, a showing, and a pointing to."
This struggle indicates that there are eternal matters at war
here, something that both Paul and the Philippians saw, but their enemy
cannot see. This struggle
then should be viewed in a positive light because it indicates they are
on the right track and salvation will eventually come.
29 tells the whole story about the first century Christian.
It says, "for it has been granted unto you on the behalf of
Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him."
These may not seem like happy words.
They may not seem like the good news of salvation that Paul
preached, but it was a part of the first century gospel and Christian
experience. The gospel these
men preached was not a gospel of get saved, live happily ever after on
earth and then go to Heaven. The
gospel included serving Jesus, which in those days meant a good measure
tells the Philippians that they werenít just called by Jesus in order
to believe in Him. The use of the word ďbehalfĒ tells us that Jesus
has called us to do certain things on His behalf.
We represent Him on earth because He is not here to represent
Himself. As we represent
Him, we may suffer hardship because the world does not want to hear or
do what we have to say.
our western world, as we move away from the Christian influenced
heritage we once had, we will find ourselves in the same position as the
first century Christian. We
should not let that surprise us when it happens.
last phrase in chapter 1 tells us that