corner graphic   Hi,    
Facebook image
ver. 2.0.17.03.28
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Philippians 1

 

 

Introduction

Chapter

Outline:

I. Introductory greeting:

II. His affection for them:

A. Manifested in constant prayer:

B. Because of their participation:

C. Because they helped him in hard times:

D. His affection is great:

I. Paul"s prayer for them:

II. Success and opposition in his imprisonment:

III. To live is Christ, to die is gain:

IV. An admonition to faithfulness:

“He is in Rome. After his three long missionary journeys he has been arrested in Jerusalem and then imprisoned at Caesarea. Learning of a plot against his life and despairing of justice from the provincial governor, he has made his ‘appeal unto Caesar’, and finally has been brought to the Imperial City. While awaiting trial he has been allowed a considerable degree of freedom and permitted to communicate freely with his friends. From distant Philippi, at the hand of Epaphroditus, he has received a rich gift” (Erdman pp. 37-38). “In structure the letters which we find in the New Testament differ from those written today. Our letters end with the name of the sender. In Paul"s day that name was mentioned first. Then came the name of the person(s) addressed and the rest of the opening salutation. There followed, generally in the order given: the thanksgiving and/or prayer (often both), the body of the letter, and finally the concluding items; such as greetings, word of farewell or even a benediction” (Hendriksen p. 43).

In recent years it has become popular to claim that the New Testament letters were never intended to be viewed as authoritative documents for all Christians, but that they were simply "personal" letters between Christians. Unfortunately, the above theory contradicts the very content of these letters: The contents were the commands of God (1 Corinthians 14:37) They were intended for a wider audience than just the initial recipients (1 Corinthians 4:17). The doctrines that applied to one congregation, applied to all (1 Corinthians 7:17). Christians that did not submit to the instruction contained in these letters were withdrawn from (2 Thessalonians 3:6-14). The letters were to be circulated among other congregations (Colossians 4:16). The letters of the apostles were viewed as "Scripture" (2 Peter 3:15-16). The letters contained truths that would still be binding and valid at the last day (1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5-6). The letters contained truths that were rooted in "Creation" (1 Timothy 2:11-13). The letters contained warnings and examples that were timeless in their application (1 Corinthians 10:1-12; 2 Peter 2:1-9).

The substance of the prayers mentioned in is now disclosed. “Paul was a praying man. When the preacher Ananias was instructed to seek out Saul the persecutor, the Lord said, ‘for behold, he prayeth’ (Acts 9:11). The habit of prayer was not left uncultivated when Paul became a Christian. And his brethren were ever in his petitions to God. The apostle continually prays (present tense)” (Jackson p. 25).


Verse 1

Philippians 1:1 “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons”

“Paul and Timothy”: “Originally known as ‘Saul’ (a Hebrew designation meaning asked for’), he came to be known as ‘Paul’ (a Greek name meaning ‘little’). The name ‘Timothy’ means ‘to honor God’, perhaps an indication of the hope that burned in the hearts of his mother and grandmother (cf. 2 Timothy 1:5)”. [Note: _ The Book of Philippians. Wayne Jackson p. 21] “With the exception of the letter to the Ephesians, the names of Paul and Timothy are mentioned together in all the so-called Imprisonment Letters which serves as an indication of the close association and intimate fellowship even at Rome.” [Note: _ The New International Commentary on the New Testament. "Philippians". Jac. J. Muller. p. 31] Three other earlier letters also include Timothy"s name (2 Corinthians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1). Paul is clearly the author of the letter, as is seen by the "I" references (1:3,6,8), and Timothy is mentioned because the church at Philippi knew him well (2:22 “you know of his proven worth”). Timothy had been with Paul when the church in Philippi was founded (Acts 16:1-3; Acts 16:10), and he had since probably visited them on more than one occasion (Acts 19:21-22; Acts 20:3-6). Paul was sending him to the Philippians once again (2:19-23) “Timothy, though not co-author, was in full-agreement with the message of the letter. Moreover, he was deeply interested in the Philippians” (Hendriksen p. 44).

“Servants”: A slave. Unlike some of the other letters, Paul does not stress his apostolic authority (Ephesians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1). Evidently the Philippian church did not have a problem with Paul"s status as a spokesman for God. “It is worthy of note here that Paul does not employ his title ‘apostle’ characteristic of several of the salutations in his other letters. He needs no ‘badge of authority’ with these dear beloved ones!” (Jackson p. 22). When Paul calls himself and Timothy "slaves" of Christ Jesus he is saying that Christ has purchased them (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). They no longer possess a "will" of their own (Galatians 2:20), and they are at the complete service of the Master and are prepared to obey all His commands (2 Corinthians 5:9). “On whom they are completely dependent and to whom they owned undivided allegiance” (Hendriksen p. 44). This “indicates their entire identification with Christ and His cause on earth, as well as their unconditional and dutiful service to Him as their Lord. This lowly and humble self-appellation, furthermore, is a renunciation of all self-importance and so the light is focused more intensely on Him Who alone is their Lord” (Muller pp. 33-34).

“Namely men who in all their work have no will of their own but only their Owner"s will and Word. That is why the Philippians will gladly read what these two men say” (Lenski p. 700). Servant was a common title for the great heroes found in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 9:27; 1 Kings 8:53; Numbers 14:24). “When Paul takes this title, he humbly places himself in the succession of the prophets and of the great ones of God. The Christian"s slavery to Jesus Christ is no cringing subjection. As the Latin tag has it---to be His slave is to be a king” (Barclay p. 10). Barclay"s last comment is well stated, because the Christian who places the will of Christ ahead of their own will, gains mastery over self, which is the sweetest liberation of all. Hence the "slave" of Jesus Christ, is in effect the "master" over his own physical and mental desires. Serving Christ with a whole heart liberates one from serving self (Titus 3:3).

“To all the saints”: To the entire congregation in this city. Paul knew that every Christian could understand the contents of this letter. “Saints”: Sacred, morally blameless and pure. Every Christian is a "saint", that is, set apart by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28; Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 5:9-10). “The process of ‘beautification’ and ‘canonization’ (as per Roman Catholic theology) are total strangers to the Bible” (Jackson p. 22). Even the most flagrant sinner can become a saint (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). When Christians are called "saints" it implies that we are set apart from the world (1 John 2:15) for a holy or sacred use. Our task now is to glorify God (1 Peter 2:9), to be engaged in good works (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14) and to live like individuals who have been liberated from their sins (1 Peter 1:14; Romans 6:16). “A saint, then, is a person to whom the Lord has shown great favor and upon whom, accordingly, there rests a great responsibility. He who is a saint must remember that he has been called to be a saint” (Hendriksen p. 46). The purpose for becoming a Christian is to live a life dedicated to God"s cause (1 Corinthias 15:58; Titus 2:14). “In Christ Jesus”: Paul will use this expression over 164 times in his letters.

"Holiness" (being a saint) is the result of being "in Christ Jesus", but faith and baptism stand between one and being "in Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27). Therefore baptism stands between one and being a saint, that is, forgiven of the sins that one has committed (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). Therefore, baptism is essential to salvation. This phrase excludes all who are not "in Christ Jesus". Anyone that refuses to come to Christ for salvation still has their sins and hence could not be referred to as a "saint". "Holy men" only can apply to those who are obedient to the will of God. Outside of Christ, it is impossible to be "holy" (Romans 8:1). Erdman makes a good comment concerning this phrase when he says, “He means to describe the closest union which can be conceived between the believer and his living Lord. For the true Christian, all plans and purposes, all activities, all hopes are in Christ Jesus” (p. 42).

“Bishops”: The Greek term here is episkopos, and the same word is translated “overseer”. "Bishops" (plural) where over this congregation and not "the Bishop". The New Testament always places a plurality of "bishops” or “overseers" over each congregation (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28). In addition, such men only presided over the congregation of which they were actual members (1 Peter 5:1-3). The concept of one bishop over a plurality of congregations is foreign to the New Testament. The bishops are also called elders or pastors, compare with Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5-7; and 1 Peter 5:1-3. Contrary to the modern religious tradition of celibate bishops or women bishops, the word of God is clear, the bishop had to be a married man (Titus 1:5-7).

Some commentators argue that these church "offices" evolved, but that is contrary to the facts. Long before 1 Timothy or Titus were written (books which contain the specific qualifications for bishops and written around 63 A.D., we find bishops, overseers, elders, and pastors in Acts 11:27-30 (44 A.D.); 14:23 (44-50 A.D.); 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (52 A.D.); Acts 20:17-38 (57-58 A.D.). “The current denominational distinction between "bishops", "elders", and "pastors" is a post-apostolic departure from the faith” (Jackson p. 22). “Paul and his colleagues encouraged the development of qualities of leadership in the churches that they planted” (Bruce p. 27). We should really listen to that last comment. The Apostles stressed the need for elders in each congregation (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5), and they stressed the need for members to properly respect them (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). Erdman demonstrates how denominational commentators can be mixed up on the simplest of points, he says “From this one office with its different functions various offices have been developed. In some communions the ‘bishop’ has been assigned oversight of a group of churches, while the ‘presbyter’, or ‘priest’, has been given the leadership of the individual congregation. In other communions the ‘bishop’, or ‘pastor’, or ‘minister’, is given the functions of preaching and of conducting the public worship, and is designated as a clergyman, while the ‘elders’ are regarded as laymen and, in cooperation with the ‘pastor’, act as the spiritual rulers of the local church” (pp. 43-44).

“Deacons”: “The etymology of the word is uncertain; it may suggest ‘raising a dust by hastening’” (Jackson p. 22). See 1 Timothy 3:8-13. “Service or ministering to others, lies at the heart of the word” (Hawthorne p. 9). “When, about fifty years later, Polycarp wrote to the Philippian church, it was still administered by a plurality of leaders, to whom he refers as ‘elders’ (To the Philippians 6:1; 11:1)” (Bruce p. 28).


Verse 2

Philippians 1:2 “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”

“Grace”: God"s unmerited favor, and since these people are "in Christ Jesus", such grace is available to them (Ephesians 1:3). “Peace”: “But it never means a negative peace, never simply the absence of trouble. It means total well-being, everything that makes for a man"s highest good” (Barclay p. 12). “Grace expressing God"s love to man, and peace the condition resulting there from” (Vincent p. 416). “From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”: “There is no grace except in God, and no real peace except that which flows from God” (Muller p. 36). We should note that real peace is impossible without the grace of God. As long as our sins remain unforgiven, real peace is an impossibility (Ephesians 2:13-14). Since Jesus is connected with the giving of these spiritual gifts, including the grace of God, it infers that Jesus is also a Divine Being. Of course, the word "Lord" is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word "Jehovah".

Paul’s Thanksgiving:


Verse 3

Philippians 1:3 “I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you”

“I thank”: “Is in the present tense, denoting his constant gratitude for these beloved saints” (Jackson p. 23). “My God”: Which indicates a very close personal relationship (Acts 27:23 “of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve”). “The apostle stands alone before his God in prayer. The joint relationship with Timothy that was so apparent in the salutation has disappeared” (Hawthorne p. 15). Compare with Romans 1:8 and 1 Corinthians 1:4. Is our relationship with God of such a quality that we could freely and comfortably refer to God as "my” God? “Upon all my remembrance of you”: “Every recollection that I have of you is a cause of thankfulness to God” (TCNT). “Every time I think of you” (Muller p. 39).

“It is a lovely thing when, as Ellicott puts it, remembrance and gratitude are bound up together. In our personal relationships it is a great thing to have nothing but happy memories; and that was how Paul was with the Christians at Philippi. To remember brought no regrets, only happiness” (Barclay p. 13). “Friendship has ever been regarded rightfully as a priceless gift. Even the most masterful and courageous of men have felt in their hearts a constant hunger for human sympathy and love. Such a man was Paul. Probably many strong and tender ties had been severed by his sudden conversion from Judaism to Christianity. His affections sought new channels and henceforth were poured out upon his fellow believers” (Erdman p. 46). Let us live in such a way that other Christians can fondly remember us in their prayers to God as well. Let us strive to never be a cause of grief or heartache to any other child of God.


Verse 4

Philippians 1:4 “always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy”

“Always in every”: “Note his use of always, every, and for you all. These expressions suggest the ‘overflowings of a full heart’” (Jackson p. 23). Paul practiced what he preached (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17; Ephesians 6:18; Romans 12:12 “devoted to prayer”). “Supplication”: A petition, request or prayer. “On behalf of you all”: Even though this church was "sound" and had caused him a tremendous amount of joy; spiritual needs always exist. There were imperfections (1:9-11; 2:2,4,14-15; 4:2) and dangers (3:2,18-19). In addition, Paul prayed for all and not just a certain group of friends. As one writer said concerning Paul, “He hates cliques or unnecessary dissensions (cf. Philippians 4:2 and see also 1 Corinthians 1:12-13; 1 Corinthians 3:4; 1 Corinthians 11:21)” (Hendriksen p. 46). “Paul knowing what the Philippians have need of--unity, humility, mutual concern----prays for them. The Philippians, on the other hand, knowing what Paul needs--release from prison-prays for him (1:19). There exists then between the apostle and his beloved congregation a mutual understanding and affection, which prompts each to plead that God will meet the particular needs of the other. Intercession indeed is the fundamental response of love within the brotherhood of believers” (Hawthorne p. 17). “With joy”: “In contrast to many other churches, the Philippian church gave Paul almost unmixed joy as he contemplated it. Evidently it harbored neither such subversive teaching as had earlier found its way into the churches of Galatia nor such ethical libertinism as was defended by some members of the Corinthian church” (Bruce p. 31). “Often he prayed for his brethren with deep grief and tears, but not so for this devoted church”. [Note: _ A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles. "Philippians". David Lipscomb p. 157.] Even though Paul was under arrest, he could always find something for which to be grateful. Unfortunately, many of us allow life"s little disappointments (which Paul had 1:15) to overshadow the real spiritual successes that surround us. What was "wrong" with the church, did not occupy the sum-total of Paul"s thoughts.


Verse 5

Philippians 1:5 “for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now”

“For”: “In view of” (NASV). “What calls forth his grateful joy more particularly here is the energetic wholeheartedness with which the Philippian Christians had cooperated with him in the gospel since first he visited their city” (Bruce p. 31). “Fellowship”: Partnership and participation. “In furtherance of the gospel”: This "fellowship” included financial assistance (; 2 Corinthians 11:8-9), but it included more than this. “It certainly refers to their sympathy, common faith with Paul in the truths he had taught them, common sufferings they had endured for the truth, and the watchful interest with which they followed him and the prayers in his behalf, and the contributions sent to him” (Lipscomb p. 158). We must come to terms with the truth that the gospel cannot be furthered without the cooperation from God"s own people. The gospel will not preach itself, and neither will it travel on its own. When one becomes a Christian one is making the commitment to do one’s part to further the gospel message and support those who "do the leg work". The primary work of the Church is to proclaim the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). “From the first day until now”: The congregation in this city had existed from around 52 A.D. For the last ten years this congregation had faithfully backed Paul, even when he was not preaching to them personally.

As soon as the first person in Philippi (Lydia) had been converted she welcomed Paul and his companions into her home (Acts 16:14-15). The same was true of the Jailer (Acts 16:19-34). Seriously consider the zeal, unselfishness and commitment of this congregation. As soon as Paul had left Philippi for the very next town on his second journey, not one, but two separate contributions arrived from this congregation (Philippians 4:16). On this same journey, while at Corinth more money came in (2 Corinthians 11:9). “The recent heroic mission of Epaphroditus, who had risked his very life in the interest of the good cause (2:25)” (Hendriksen). Their love went deeper than just Paul, they loved the gospel! They gave beyond their means to help the needy saints in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). When they gave it was given freely, cheerfully and sacrificially (2 Corinthians 8:2-5). “It was not a matter of fleeting impulse but of lasting principle. The very phrase ‘from the first day until present’ stresses perseverance in spite of all obstacles. The prayers, the sympathies, the testimonies, the willingness to make a pecuniary contribution, all these had never ceased. The Philippians had not lost their first love during this entire decade” (Hendriksen pp. 53-54).

We are at times quick to forget that this church did not have a "large church budget" (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). What the members of a congregation make is not as important as their attitude toward giving and their dedication to spreading the gospel message. Giving is not a problem when members are "sold" on the importance of people hearing the gospel. This verse also reveals something about "fellowship". "Fellowship" is always "in" something. It does not constitute a separate category of it"s own. Very simply, fellowship is "participation" in something. The "something" is always mentioned in the verse or context (Ephesians 5:11). If I do not "participate" in the local congregation, use my talents, financially support the work, and so on, then I do not really have fellowship, do I? I only have fellowship in the local church to the extent that I am willing to participate.


Verse 6

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ”

“Being confident”: “Being persuaded’ (Rhm). “For of this I am quite sure” (TCNT). “Of this I am fully persuaded” (Mon). “This confidence began long ago and still continues” (Lenski p. 709). “Of this very thing”: Which is mentioned in the next phrase. “That he who began a good work in you”: God had began a good work in the Philippians at their conversion.

“The word ‘confident’ is a perfect tense--which suggests that due to past experiences, Paul abides in a state of confidence regarding the fruition of the Lord"s work” (Jackson p. 24). This is not a confidence based on "pure emotional hype", rather “The constancy of their fellowship and labor gave to the apostle a personal certainty that the work would be continued” (Lipscomb p. 158). Neither is this a "once saved, always saved", or Paul"s confidence in the "perseverance of the saints". Paul clearly taught that true Christians could become unfaithful (Galatians 5:4). Yet their past (and up to the present) record is a good indication that they were serious about serving God and would continue to do so, especially in the light of the fact that this faithful service had been given even during a time of persecution (1:27-30). Compare with Hebrews 6:9-10.

“Will perfect it”: To execute, accomplish, or finish. “Until the day of Jesus Christ”: Which would be the final day or judgment day (; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10). “The words ‘began’ and ‘perfect’ are technical terms suggesting the beginning and completion of a sacrifice. He may be saying that God, through their sacrificial labors, will bring His work in Europe to ripe completion. The tremendous impact of the gospel throughout the entire Western world is evidence of the fact that Paul"s confidence in the Lord"s work in Europe was not in vain. And the implication seems to be that the effect of their great work will abide until the end of time!” (Jackson p. 24). “Paul envisioned that the good work, which God started and which was now being carried on by the Philippians (the furtherance of the gospel), would reach its completion at the day of Christ Jesus. That is to say, Paul was certain that the Philippians would never waiver in their generosity, and would never cease sharing their good gifts to help spread the gospel. Knowing the Philippians, he was confident that when their ‘work’ was examined it would be pronounced ‘good’” (Hawthorne pp. 21-22). Contrary to some commentators who advocate that Paul believed that Jesus was coming within lifetimes of first century Christians, Paul most emphatically states, in one of his very first letters, that he does not know when Jesus is coming again (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). Paul expects the Philippians to remain faithful to the end of the world or the end of their lives.


Verse 7

Philippians 1:7 “even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace”

“Even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all”: “And I am justified in having this confidence” (Wey). “And I have a right to think this way about you” (Wms). “For this disposition on his part the apostle does not claim any special credit. He says, ‘It is right (morally obligatory) for me to be thus minded (or disposed)’” (Hendriksen p. 56). “His joy over them, his confident expectation of their constant fidelity, are feelings on his part that are justly and rightly due them. To have such thoughts about the Philippians is just as it should be for Paul, and just as the Philippians would have expected of him” (Hawthorne p. 22).

“Because I have you in my heart”: “Continually has (present tense) them in his heart. They are the very center of his affections” (Jackson p. 24). Something is seriously wrong in our spirituality if we have a very weak desire to be with other Christians (Hebrews 10:24-25). “Inasmuch as”: “Since” (NASV). “Whether” (Wms). The following is what had endeared the Philippians to Paul, and demonstrates why Paul had to feel this way about these brethren.

“Both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me”: The word defense refers to a verbal defense. “A defense against the attacks which come from outside” (Barclay p. 17). “Is the regular term for what the defendant pleads in a court trial or before a judge” (Lenski p. 713) (Acts 22:1; Acts 25:16).

Paul was in Rome to appear before the highest court in the first century world, that is to appear before Caesar. Paul was prepared to give a verbal speech in defense of the gospel that he preached. Every Christian is expected by God to be prepared to defend what they believe (1 Peter 3:15). This infers that the gospel message can be defended with logical arguments, evidence, and Old Testament Scripture. Plenty of ammunition exists for the Christian to use. ”The gospel is never defended with carnal weapons (cf. Ephesians 6:10 ff; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6), but by persuasive evidence and logical argument. The battle is for the minds of men. Those who support defenders of the truth are partakers with them in the fray!” (Jackson pp. 24-25).

“Confirmation”: “He had defended the gospel by removing doubts and suspicions, and had confirmed it by setting forth its meaning positively” (Hendriksen p. 57). “The gospel message is not merely a philosophy of life; it is a historical system, grounded in miraculous phenomena that confirmed its validity (cf. Mark 16:17-20; Hebrews 2:3), which demands human attention and acceptance” (Jackson p. 25). “Of the gospel”: “The fate of his person was of the least concern to Paul, the fate of the gospel was everything” (Lenski p. 713). See Acts 20:24; Acts 21:13. “Ye are all partakers with me”: “We have shared together the blessings of God” (Tay).

“And the Philippians had shown that they were deeply concerned in all this. They had prayed for Paul. They had sympathized with him in his experiences--were not their own experiences similar? Were not they engaged in the same conflict? See on Philippians 1:29-30. And they had even sent their personal representative to him with a gift in order to assist him in every possible manner (Philippians 2:25; Philippians 4:10-14; Philippians 4:18). At this point we should note: Some contend that the church in Philippi acted as a Sponsoring Church, that is, a congregation that received funds from other congregations and then distributing them to Paul. The question arises (besides “What Scripture(s) actually teaches such a concept?” “Why did Paul fail to express his gratitude for any other congregations in this verse?” It sure looks like Philippi is getting all the credit for the contributions they sent Paul. Was Paul ignorant that most of the money had come from other congregations? Clearly, the church in Philippi was not some sort of “sponsoring church”, rather they were sending to Paul only the funds that came from the members in Philippi.

“Of this grace”: “In the Greek text, ‘grace’ is accompanied by the article, thus, ‘the grace’. This may denote the system of grace, i.e., the gospel plan, in which they were common sharers” (Jackson p. 25). It is a privilege to support the spread of the gospel message. Paul viewed all of the above as something in which he had been allowed by the unmerited favor of God to participate. Human beings do not deserve to be able to preach the gospel, but God"s unmerited favor "allows" us. All Christians need to realize that we are reading a message that we did not deserve to hear.


Verse 8

Philippians 1:8 “For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus”

“For God is my witness”: “How deep that love is Paul indicates by an affirmation so emphatic as to take the form of a solemn oath” (Erdman p. 50). “He now shows that this is no exaggeration because it is important that the Philippians shall know how ardently he loves them. The apostle appeals to the God who cannot lie and who judges the hearts of men” (Hendriksen p. 57). “When we can learn to think, and feel, and act as our Lord would, we have captured the spirit of what Christianity is about” (Jackson p. 25). “He had not forgotten, he had not grown cold; his love had not lessened” (Lenski p. 715). “Walking at He walked (1 John 2:6) involves ‘feeling’ as Christ felt, thinking as Christ thought, viewing life and brethren in the exact same way as He would view and treat them. "Christ living in" you (Galatians 2:20), being dead to self, means that you are so in tune with the will of Christ and that you express the very same feelings and emotions that He would express in a similar situation. "This precious paragraph in which Paul expresses his joyful gratitude for his Christian companions indicates that the strongest bonds of friendship are those which are formed by fellowship in Christian service. There are other ties by which hearts are united. Some are due to common interests and sympathies and mental attitudes. However, those which are most sacred and abiding are those which are due to a common relationship with Christ, and to an earnest cooperation in work undertaken for his sake. Then again, this glowing paragraph reminds us that friendships need to be purified. Much that is selfish and unworthy is often mistaken for love. When, however, one realizes the love of Christ, when one seeks to know the mind of Christ, when one is submissive to the will of Christ, then human affections are ennobled and strengthened” (Erdman pp. 50-51).

“How I long after you all”:”Yearn over you all” (TCNT). ‘How my love goes out to you” (Bas). “Tender Mercies”: “Literally, ‘in the bowels’ as the seat of the affections” (Robertson p. 437). “Of Christ Jesus”: “With the affection of Christ Jesus Himself” (Mof). “It is an utterly selfless affection” (Bruce p. 35). “Paul"s love is patterned after (cf. Philippians 2:5) Christ"s love” (Hendriksen p. 58).


Verse 9

Philippians 1:9 “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment”

“That your love”: For God and others (Matthew 22:37-39). “May abound”: To superabound, be in excess, and excel. “Present active subjunctive may keep on overflowing” (Robertson p. 437). ‘Yet more and more”: “Grow yet stronger and stronger” (TCNT). “It is interesting to note that Paul does not qualify or limit this love for which he prays by adding an object to it--it is not love for others, nor for each other, nor yet their love for him (merely). In effect, Paul prays that the Philippians increasingly may be persons characterized by love, even as God their Father, is himself characterized by love (cf. 1 John 4:3). Paul knows that if the love they already possess increases steadily and continues to abound it will overflow into deeds of kindness; wrong attitudes and actions toward each other will disappear and the problems at Philippi will be resolved (2:3,4; 4:2,3)” (Hawthorne pp. 25-26). Paul expects steady growth among Christians. No bare minimum service here! (1 Corinthians 15:58; 1 Thessalonians 4:10 “But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more”; 2 Peter 1:8; 2 Peter 3:18). Since the Christian never reaches perfection, it is only logical that spiritual improvement is always expected of every child of God (3:12-17). “Since they are already abounding, Paul"s desire is that no decline may ever set in but steady, healthy increase. For in every congregation, even also in the case of the best members in it, this is the mark of virile spiritual life” (Lenski p. 717).

“Knowledge”: Full discernment. The knowledge mentioned here denotes a deeper and more advanced knowledge. This "love" is to be properly channeled or regulated by a full and deep level of knowledge and discernment in spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). “All discernment”: “Refined spiritual insight, perception to separate right from wrong” (Jackson p. 25). “The delicate spiritual perception (Hebrews 5:14)” (Robertson p. 436). “Discernment selects, classifies, and applies what is furnished by knowledge” (Vincent p. 418). “This is the ability to make proper moral decisions in the midst of a vast array of differing and difficult choices that are constantly presenting themselves to the Christian” (Hawthorne p. 27).

Knowledge without the proper motive is empty and dangerous (1 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3), but just as useless and dangerous is love without the right knowledge. “Nothing perhaps is more harmful than the easy good nature which is willing to tolerate everything; and this is often mistaken for the Christian frame of mind. Love must fasten itself on the things which are worth loving, and it cannot do so unless it is wisely directed” (Hawthorne p. 26). “Paul insists that we are not to be the creatures of circumstance; nor are we to be ruled by impulse and desire. Love must itself be wise and discriminating. It is not to be confused with unregulated and selfish passion. It is not to be blinded by false reasoning” (Erdman p. 52). “Love should be judicious...it is the ability of mind and heart to separate not only the good from the bad, but also the important from the unimportant. A person who possesses love but lacks discernment may reveal a great deal of eagerness and enthusiasm. He may donate to all kinds of causes yet he may be doing more harm than good. Also, such an individual may at times be mislead doctrinally” (Hendriksen p. 60) (Romans 10:1-3). “Love as a mere sentimental, unguided emotion, is not a virtue applauded in the Scriptures. Love must be educated. How very valuable, therefore, is Paul"s counsel, even in this age, when ‘love’ is frequently seen as an acceptable substitute for soundness in doctrine” (Jackson pp. 25-26).


Verse 10

Philippians 1:10 “so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ”

“So that”: Here are the positive benefits of such an intelligent love. “Paul prays that the Philippian"s love may be a controlled and developing love for two reasons: That they might know how to make the best choices possible and that they themselves might be the best people possible” (Hawthorne p. 27). “Approve”: To discern, examine, prove. “This may mean either ‘to test or examine, to prove by testing’ as one would assay metals or test the genuineness of coins or ‘to accept as proved’ hence ‘to approve’” (Hawthorne p. 27). “Present tense; keep on putting to the test” (Jackson p. 26). Often the Christian is commanded to "approve" (test, examine) certain things (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; 1 John 4:1; 2 Corinthians 8:8; 2 Corinthians 13:5). “It goes without saying that all ‘testing’ is to be done in the light of the inspired biblical documents!” (Jackson p. 26).

“Things that are excellent”: What is of more value. “Enabling you to have a sense of what is vital” (Mof). “So that you may always approve the better things” (Wms). “That you may learn to prize what is of value” (Knox). “When so many competing forms of doctrine and ways of life are presented for acceptance (as they certainly were in the eastern Mediterranean world of the first century)” (Bruce p. 37). True discernment is absolutely necessary, for not all views and opinions are equally valid. We must be careful, lest we place great emphasis on the wrong things (Matthew 23:23). Even religious people can get mixed up on what is really important (Micah 6:6-8). Moral problems and dilemmas will constantly come our way and we must be prepared to distinguish between right and wrong (Hebrews 5:14; 1 Corinthians 10:13). “That ye may be”: Here is another positive benefit of such discerning and intelligent love. When Christians get mixed up on what is really important, when they start "swallowing camels and straining at gnats" (Matthew 23:23-24), they cease to be blameless. They become stumbling-blocks to those who are trying to find the truth. “The prayer, then, is that the Philippians, their faculties having been trained to prefer the good to the evil, and the essential to the trivial” (Hendriksen p. 61). “Sincere”: Judged by sunlight, tested as genuine, and pure. “People who are genuine through and through” (Lenski p. 719). “Transparency of character or perfect openness towards God” (Erdman p. 53). “Paul"s goal for the Philippians is that they may be people of sincerity, honesty, cleanness of mind, who live lives that are transparent before God and other people” (Hawthorne p. 28).

“Void of offence”: “Blameless”(NASV). “Not causing others to stumble” (Robertson p. 437). Or without causing yourself to stumble. “It pictures either a person who carefully avoids putting anything in another"s way that would cause that person to trip and fall, or one who is equally careful to avoid tripping over obstacles that may be placed in his own way” (Hawthorne p. 28). “Unto the day of Christ”: The judgment day. Intelligent love enables one to live in such a way that one does not turn other people off from the truth or lead them astray. One cannot stand blameless at the judgment, if one is not striving for such now. “They cannot be so on that day unless they lead pure and blameless lives here and now” (Bruce p. 37).


Verse 11

Philippians 1:11 “being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God”

“Being filled”: Here is another positive result of such intelligent love. “The Philippians are now graphically pictured as trees loaded down with, bearing a full crop of good fruit” (Hawthorne p. 29). Being filled suggests an abundance of fruit, again the idea of "bare minimum service" is found to be a false doctrine. See (Psalms 1:3; Jeremiah 17:5-8; John 15:2-6). “Fruits of righteousness”: Compare with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), see also James 3:18. “Such a pure and faultless character will naturally express itself in deeds of helpfulness and service. Fruitful lives should be the visible outcome of wise and discerning love” (Erdman p. 54). The inference is that we must be bearing such fruit now if we are to stand approved before God at the last day (1:10). “Which are through Jesus Christ”: This infers that such conduct is not possible by unaided human reason. “Unto the glory and praise of God”: The ultimate purpose in living the Christian life (Matthew 5:16; Ecclesiastes 12:12-13). “God must be magnified. His virtues must be extolled” (Hendriksen p. 63). Thus the "good church" is that congregation committed to the exaltation and praise of God and not individual personalities. God is glorified when we are motivated by an intelligent love and the results or fruit of such are seen in our lives. Unfruitful Christians don"t glorify God, rather they are the best ammunition against the Church that the secular world has.

Paul’s circumstances in Rome


Verse 12

Philippians 1:12 “Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel”

“Now I would have you know”: “Since the Philippians are so anxious about Paul, he makes no delay in the letter. He tells about it right here. But while all centers on his own person, on his fate, acquittal or condemnation, Paul merges all in the gospel” (Lenski p. 721). “In all probability this optimism was not wholly shared by those whom Paul addresses. The church at Philippi was on tenterhooks. ‘What is going to happen to Paul; will he be condemned or will he be acquitted?’ ‘Too bad for him and for the cause of the gospel, this imprisonment!’ That was what many people were thinking” (Hendriksen p. 67). “Have fallen out rather”: “It strikes us that Paul does not speak of himself, or enlarge upon his experiences, but has in mind only the cause of the gospel. Even during and in spite of his imprisonment, all is well, for the gospel is being advanced. And to him that is the only thing that matters” (Muller p. 49). “Progress”: Advancement. “The word which is specially used for the progress of an army or an expedition. It is the verb which is used for cutting away the trees and the undergrowth, and removing the barriers which would hinder the progress of an army. Paul"s imprisonment, so far from shutting the door, opened the door to new spheres of work and activity, into which he would never otherwise have penetrated” (Barclay p. 20). “Paul"s imprisonment, rather than hindering the gospel, had actually cleared the way for its further proclamation” (Jackson p. 29) (Romans 8:28).

He was a man of tireless activity. He had goals of spreading the gospel further west into Spain (Romans 15:24), and he was eager to revisit the churches he had founded, but all of this had been put on hold by this imprisonment. Such an imprisonment had dragged on for a couple of years. Another man might have become extremely frustrated and bitter, yet Paul realized that opportunities to spread the gospel are always present when one is around other people. In this letter there is not the slightest hint of discouragement, disappointment or bitterness. In fact, this prisoner is trying to encourage people who are not in prison! We often think that it takes "ideal" or very favorable circumstances to spread the gospel or convert others. God reveals otherwise. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and it can spread and convict the hearts of men and women, even in hard or very limited circumstances (1 Thessalonians 1:6 “having received the word in much tribulation”).


Verse 13

Philippians 1:13 “so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest”

“So that”: Paul now names the positive results of his imprisonment. “My bonds became manifest in Christ”: “My imprisonment in the cause of Christ” (NASV). “For everyone around here, including all the soldiers over at the barracks, know my chains are simply because I am a Christian” (Tay). “Praetorian guard”: Either refers to the soldiers that formed the Praetorian guard or the barracks or camp of this guard. This basically refers to the same thing, that is, all these soldiers realized that Paul was a prisoner because he proclaimed the gospel. “This was a body of ten thousand picked soldiers who served as the emperor"s body guards. They stayed in a fortified camp on the northeast side of Rome” (Jackson p. 30).

“There is no virtue in mere imprisonment per se; there is, however, great blessing in tribulation for Christ (cf. 1 Peter 4:14-16)” (Jackson p. 30). The book of Acts ends with Paul in Rome. We learn that he was under house arrest and that a soldier guarded him (Acts 28:16). “It was natural that the soldier (relieved by a comrade every four hours or so) should be a member of the imperial bodyguard. News about this extraordinary prisoner would naturally spread through the praetorian barracks” (Bruce p. 41). We also learn that Paul was permitted to have visitors (Acts 28:17-31 “and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God with all openness, unhindered”). Thus over time these various soldiers that guarded Paul heard the gospel message. As one writer pointed out, who really was the "captive"? Everyday Paul would have several Roman soldiers as a captive audience. “His imprisonment had opened the way for preaching the gospel to the finest regiment in the Roman army” (Barclay p. 22). “It is not difficult to imagine that at first they listened with a measure of disdain or hardly listened at all. But after a while they became interested, and then enthusiastic. And what they learned they began to spread. ‘We are guarding a very remarkable prisoner’. And so the news spread, from guard to guard, to the families of the guards, to Caesar"s household” (Hendriksen p. 69).

We often forget that we need to allow people to decide if they are interested or not in the gospel. Our job is simply to share it with everyone we can. “Yes, even these hardened soldiers, these rude legionaries, who presumably would be the very last to be affected in any way by the gospel, were deeply moved by what they saw, heard and felt in the presence of Paul” (Hendriksen p. 69). A great lesson needs to be learned here. Often we tend to stop talking about "religious things" when we know that others are listening, such as when a waitress is refilling our coffee cup. Like Paul, we need to talk about the gospel, no matter who is listening. We need to proclaim it with boldness, and we need to speak freely about the things of God, even when non-Christians are present. We often forget that "what" these soldiers heard was books like Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Phlippians being dictated, and they heard the contents of some New Testament books, before anyone else did.

“And to all the rest”: “The inhabitants of Rome in general. Paul"s case and, even better, Christ"s cause, became ‘the talk of the town’” (Hendriksen p. 69).


Verse 14

Philippians 1:14 “and that most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear”

“And that”: The second positive benefit of his imprisonment. “Most of the brethren in the Lord”: Notice the word "most". There will always be members who never get with the program, but Paul focuses on the faithful, not the unfaithful. Unfortunately, we often allow our minds to become discouraged by a small unfaithful minority. “In the Lord”: The only "brethren" we have are those "in the Lord". “Being confident through my bonds”: “There is a contagion of courage and passion” (Erdman p. 60). “When Paul arrived in their city as a prisoner for the gospel"s sake, some of them perhaps wondered how safe it would be for them to be known as those who professed the same faith as he did” (Bruce p. 41). Paul informs the Philippians that God"s cause was not suffering in Rome. He might be in prison, but his imprisonment had only inspired more Christians to take the gospel to the streets. “There were those who loved him; and, when they saw him in prison, they redoubled their efforts to spread the gospel, so that it would lose nothing because of Paul"s imprisonment. They knew that the best way to delight his heart was to see that the work did not suffer because of his unavoidable absence” (Barclay p. 23). “More abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear”: “Now venture with far greater freedom to speak of God"s Message fearlessly” (TCNT). “This message had even become the theme for discussion without restraint, the topic of ordinary conversation and talk, and this now far more than ever before” (Hendriksen p. 70).

His rivals and friends:

Philippians 1:15 “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will”

“Some indeed”: Hendriksen points out, “It should be borne in mind that there was a church in Rome long before Paul arrived there. It can scarcely be doubted, therefore, that certain preachers in Rome had attained a degree of prominence among the brothers. With the arrival of Paul and especially with the spreading of his fame throughout the city () is it easy to understand that these leaders were beginning to lose some of their former prestige. Their names were no longer mentioned so often” (pp. 71-72). “Preach Christ”: The content of their preaching was sound (1:18). They were teaching the truth, but with wrong motives. Jackson reminds us that to “preach Christ” involves preaching His will (Acts 8:35-37; John 12:48). “The New Testament knows nothing of the popular concept. ‘Proclaim the Man, but not the Plan’” (p. 31). “Even of envy and strife”: “Out of jealousy and opposition” (TCNT). “What sort of heart would be displeased because Paul was winning many to Christ?” (Jackson p. 31). The word envy includes the ideas of ill-will, jealousy and spite, while the term strife carries the ideas of quarreling and contention. Even all "sound" preachers do not preach from the right motives. I can preach the truth, but if I do not preach from pure motives, other"s will be profited, but I will not (1 Corinthians 13:1-3; Matthew 6:1-4). “And some of good will”: That is, good will towards Paul. This also means that genuine and true Christians exist.


Verse 16

Philippians 1:16 “the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel”

“The latter do it out of love”: Men that have goodwill towards Paul are men motivated by a love for God and love for others. This infers that the other group was motivated by a self-interest. “Knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel”: “They recognized that God had sent him to Rome for this very purpose, his impending opportunity to defend the gospel before Caesar"s tribunal. If Paul, despite his restrictions, was promoting the interests of the gospel, those people of goodwill could do no less” (Bruce p. 44). “Knowing”: This is an intelligent love. “It was not, though, a mere emotional attachment to the apostle; no, they loved ‘knowing’ that Paul was set for the defense of the gospel!” (Jackson p. 31). “Set”: “Set or appointed” (P.P. Comm. p. 4). “Set or destined” (Muller p. 54). “Thus supporting that Paul and his supporters recognized that it was due to the providence of God that he had been ‘appointed’ to these circumstances” (Jackson p. 31). Note: True love is not blind, "love" saw the real picture here, Paul"s imprisonment was part of God"s overall plan to spread the gospel. Since Paul is God"s instrument to bring the gospel before the very highest in the Roman government, these Christians will lovingly cooperate with God"s plan. But hate, envy and self-interest are blind! Paul"s rival"s, preachers motivated by self, were completely blind to all of the above.

“Defense”: These Christians did not begrudge Paul for the authority he exercised, the miraculous gifts he possessed or the fame he was gaining, because they realized that he was God"s messenger to defend the gospel before the highest court in the land. In a sense every Christian must be prepared to defend the gospel (1 Peter 3:15).


Verse 17

Philippians 1:17 “but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds”

“But”: In contrast to those motivated by love and goodwill. “Faction”: “It came to describe self-seeking and selfish ambition, which was out to advance itself and did not care to what methods it stooped to attain its ends. So there were those who preached the harder now that Paul was in prison, for his imprisonment seemed to present them with a heaven-sent opportunity to advance their own influence and prestige and lessen his” (Barclay p. 23). This verse should make all preachers and teachers seriously consider their motives, seeing that one can preach the truth and teach sound doctrine for all the wrong reasons. Even in the church, a man can be preaching solely for the human praise he receives. Someone once asked a young preacher, “Do you love to preach to people?” The young man answered with an energetic, “I sure do!” Then he was asked the next question, “But do you love the people that you preach to?” “Not sincerely”: “Not with pure intent” (ABUV). They may have started preaching from pure motives. “They crave honor and prestige, at least they have permitted this motive to crowd the nobler incentives into a corner” (Hendriksen p. 72). “Thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds”: “Imagining that they are making my imprisonment harder to bear” (Gspd). “The news of what they were doing, they thought (and hoped) would fill Paul with chagrin and frustration” (Bruce p. 44). “They are determined to rub salt into the apostle"s wounds! Can you imagine brethren so consumed with envy and self-interest?” (Jackson p. 32). The reason they "imagined" such, is because they thought that Paul was filled with the same type of motives, as filled them. They thought that Paul was just as "jealous" as they were, but how little did they understand the man whom they intended to inflict.


Verse 18

Philippians 1:18 “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice”

“What then?” “What about it” (Lenski p. 732). “Such being the case, how does it affect me?” (Vincent p. 422). “What is my feeling about this?” (Jackson p. 32). “Whether in pretence or in truth”: “From false motives or honest ones” (Gspd). “For ulterior ends or honestly” (Mof). “Christ is proclaimed”: That is a very important detail. Paul could never tolerate false teaching (Romans 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 15:12 ff; Romans 6:1; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Galatians 1:6-9), but these insincere men are still preaching Christ, that is, they are still preaching the truth. “Therein I rejoice”: “Paul"s self-forgetfulness excites affectionate admiration. We love him all the more for having written this beautiful passage. Sensitive soul though he was, he does not begin to pity himself” (Hendriksen p. 73). “And will rejoice”: The future will not change this attitude.

It is essential to understand that Paul is not approving of nor overlooking their bad motives. He has already written clearly on the subject of improper motivation (1 Corinthians). Paul realizes that such men will answer to God. In addition, Paul had judged them. He has clearly labeled their motives as being "envy, strife, and selfish ambition". Yet right now Paul cannot change their motives, and most importantly, they were still preaching the truth. Paul realized that many people would hear such preaching, without ever seeing the wrong motives behind it. It is vital that we reject a couple of interpretations: That Paul has mellowed in his old age. He hasn"t! (2 Timothy 4:2-4). Or, that Paul feels that "some Christ" is better than no Christ at all. It is essential that we realize that these other preachers are not Judaizing teachers! They are Christians who are preaching the true gospel, but from completely wrong motives. Paul had no tolerance at all for false teachers (Galatians 1:6-9). Jackson reminds us, “There is no evidence whatever that these rivals of Paul were teaching religious error, rather as we have carefully documented, only their base motives and selfish ambitions come under the apostle"s critical pen. This context is no shelter for the protection of those who would teach doctrines that are subversive to the gospel of Christ” (p. 32).

Erdman makes a very important comment: “He might have let those Roman soldiers learn with contempt how Christian preachers can be lacking in love. But Paul rises above any petty animosity or personal pique” (p. 61). Hawthorne then adds, “Why Paul felt it necessary to disclose to the Philippians the weaknesses of some of the brothers. Yet it is more likely that Paul writes about these people who had wrong motives to make clear that such people do exist even within the Christian community, and therefore the Philippian Christians should not be taken by surprise if such should arise in their midst” (p. 38). In addition, the men who had such wrong motives might hear this letter and thus repent.

Paul’s Hope: Christ is honored in life or death


Verse 19

Philippians 1:19 “For I know that this shall turn out to my salvation, through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ”

“I know that this shall turn out to my salvation”: “My release” (Mof). “For my highest welfare” (Gspd). “My safety” (Ber). “Deliverance” (NASV). Basically two views exist concerning the word "salvation" or "deliverance" in this passage: Everything that had happened to him, both good and bad (ff), had only improved his spiritual health. Thus, he knew that all this was working towards his eternal salvation (2 Timothy 4:6-8). The term salvation may also refer to deliverance from prison. Paul knew that he was going to be released (1:25; 2:24). Especially note the similar use of the word "know". Barclay reminds us, “There is a great truth here. In any situation of opportunity or challenge, a man is acting not only for time, but also for eternity. A man"s reaction to every situation in time is a witness for or against him in eternity” (p. 24). A third view is somewhat of a blend of the other two. “God put me in this situation; and God means it, with all its problems and its difficulties, to make for my happiness and useless in time, and for my joy and peace in eternity” (Barclay p. 25). And what would contribute to his release?

“Through your supplication”: Through the prayers of the brethren in Philippi. He had prayed for the Philippians (), now he is depending upon their prayers. Paul believed in the effectiveness of prayers offered by "common" members, even uninspired members, that is, Christians who possessed no miraculous gifts (Romans 15:30-31; 2 Thessalonians 3:2; Phlippians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; Colossians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Paul believed that the future was "flexible", that God does effect changes in history to accommodate the godly and sincere desires of His people. No physical army on earth could force Caesar to release Paul. Yet the prayers of Christians did have such potential power. God through His wonderful and all-wise Providence can bring to reality the desires of God"s own people. “Paul was never too big a man to remember that he needed the prayers of his friends. He never talked to people as if he could do everything and they could do nothing” (Barclay p. 25).

“And the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ”: The term supply means to contribute. “The Spirit is called ‘the Spirit of Jesus Christ’ because the Lord sent forth the Spirit from heaven (John 15:26)” (Jackson p. 33). What the Spirit supplied Paul with was inspiration as he stood before Caesar (Matthew 10:18-20). Paul knew that God was writing the speech that he would give before the highest court in the land.


Verse 20

Philippians 1:20 “according to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing shall I be put to shame, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death”

“According”: Such a deliverance is his own eager expectation. “Earnest expectation”: “It suggests to turn the head from and watch for” (Jackson p. 33). “Yearning, looking forward to something with head erect” (Hendriksen p. 75). “The concentrated hope which ignores other interests and strains forward as with outstretched head” (Hawthorne p. 41). “That in nothing shall I be put to shame”: “That I shall never disgrace myself” (Gspd). “I shall have no cause for shame” (TCNT). “Paul"s hope is that he will never be shamed into silence, either by cowardice or a feeling of ineffectiveness” (Barclay p. 26).

Paul had a quality that is often sadly lacking among modern Christians. Paul had the intense desire to always honor His God. He was terrified of ever bringing shame and embarrassment upon the cause of Christ. He realized that he always represented Jesus Christ, that the impression his conduct gave to people is the exact impression they had of Christianity. What has happened to Christian honor? What has happened to the attitude of “I"d rather die than disgrace the cause of Jesus Christ?” Note carefully. Paul did not fear personal humiliation (he had already endured much of that: see 2 Corinthians 11:22 ff). Rather he was concerned about avoiding anything that would bring dishonor to the gospel message.

“But that with all boldness”: All out-spokenness and frankness. “Full speech, unreservedness of utterance” (Jackson p. 33). To proclaim the gospel with boldness is the exact opposite of being ashamed of it. “Literally complete outspokenness, a courage which reveals itself in a frank and unhesitant proclamation of the good tidings” (Hendriksen p. 75). “As always, so now also”:

Paul was not going to change his preaching style one bit, even though he was going to appear before the highest court in the land. Paul had always preached with boldness (Acts 13:46). Lenski gives us a serious question to consider, “Give this a little thought. Suppose you were to appear as a preacher before the U.S. Supreme Court, and suppose this Court to be thoroughly pagan. Would it be so easy to speak with perfect freedom ‘as always", as in your own pulpit, your own town?"” (p. 738).

The very word "boldness" that is often connected with the preaching of the gospel (2 Corinthians 3:12; Ephesians 6:19-20), reveals something about the gospel. It contains timeless truths. This message will never become "outdated", thus we can preach it with complete confidence to every generation. Men of every age and generation still stand in desperate need of this message. The gospel will still be the truth at the last day. No other message can bring one to salvation (Romans 1:16). No other message fits into the same category (Galatians 1:6-9). This is the only message that can bring men into a right relationship with God. This message has no equal!

“Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death”: “Paul"s entire existence, as that of a responsible human being is aimed at one goal, that of bringing praise to Christ” (Hawthorne p. 44). Compare with 2 Corinthians 4:10; 1 Corinthians 6:20). “Magnified”: “Christ will be honored in my body” (RSV). “Once we have chosen Christ, by our life and conduct we bring either glory or shame to Him” (Barclay p. 26). Paul has no desire to be considered as some "great" one, rather, he simply wants everyone to see how "great" Christ is. Is this our motive?


Verse 21

Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”

“For to me”: “Whatever may be true of others, this he knows to be true of himself. There are, indeed, countless others of whom it is not true” (Erdman p. 64). Paul"s opponents may have been self-centered (), but he is Christ-centered. Paul is not saying, “This is truth for me, while it may not be for others”. “To live is Christ”: “Life is Christ” (TCNT). “I live only to serve Him, only to commune with Him; I have no conception of life apart from Him. This is the passionate view of Christianity which, unfortunately, so many members of the church have never fathomed. Being a Christian is not a part-time hobby; it is a consuming career” (Jackson p. 33).

"To live is Christ” means one is convinced that everything which Christ taught is absolutely right. One humbly and gratefully submits to Christ on every issue (Matthew 28:18). One is willing to sacrifice everything and anything, in order to stay in a right relationship with Christ (Matthew 5:29-30; Philippians 3:8). Christ is more important to us than any human relationship (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26). The cause of Christ is our consuming passion, over and above all other earthly interests (Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Nothing else comes close, nothing else even rivals our passion for Christ and His cause. The subject that we are interested in the most, that we most freely talk about, that is far and above the center of our lives, is Christ. “And to die is gain”: “Dying brings gain” (Wms). “And if I die I should merely gain more of Him” (Phi). “And dying--well, that"s better yet!” (Tay). “Death would bring no cessation or diminution of that existence but would rather enhance it with the experience of being with Christ (v. 23) in a closer communion that he had known while still in the body” (Bruce pp. 49-50). Right here the various groups that believe death equals non-existence (Jehovah Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists), have some explaining to do! Bruce is right when he says, “If death meant (even temporarily) less of Christ than was enjoyed in mortal life in mortal life--above all, if it meant (even temporary) annihilation--it would be absurd to speak of it as gain” (p. 50).

All the annihilation theories must admit that death is a terrible thing, even for the Christian, because death means separation from God, for if one ceases to exist in death, then one ceases to have a relationship with God. God is not the God of non-existence beings (Matthew 22:32). This passage demands the Christian is fully conscious after death, that the Christian gets more of Christ after death, than before (2 Corinthians 5:8). Erdman is right when he says, “Paul does not mean that ‘to die is gain’ because life is so intolerable, but because death issues in what is so desirable” (p. 65). Carefully note Paul"s motivation. He did not desire death to escape from the harsh realties and responsibilities of this life. Neither did he fear death, because death would just give him more of the Christ, who was the very essence of his life. Seriously compare the "hope" of the Christian with the "hope" of the non-Christian. “The pagan viewed death as a release from earthly troubles and no more. It was for the pagan a walking away from present ills out into the unknown, perhaps into non-existence” (Hawthorne p. 46). Yet for the Christ death is “gain”! Paul does not desire to be "released from the pain of living", for he has already said, "living is Christ!" Even though he was in prison and was often persecuted for being a Christian, Paul seriously enjoyed living. Never does he say, “goodbye cruel world”.


Verse 22

Philippians 1:22 “But if to live in the flesh,--if this shall bring fruit from my work, then what I shall choose I know not”

“This shall bring fruit from my work”: “This will mean fruitful labor for me” (NASV). Paul is saying that living also contains a great "gain". Living on and being released from prison will only result in more souls being saved and a further expansion of his preaching activities. “The gospel preached, in souls saved, in ‘saints’ strengthened” (Erdman p. 66). Is this the attitude that we have toward living to view each new day an opportunity to really bear more fruit for God? Ask yourself this serious question, “If I continue to live, will that mean more fruit for God in my own life?” “Then what I shall choose I know not”: “So early death and continued life alike had their attractions, and if the choice between the two were left to him, he would find difficultly in making up his mind” (Bruce p. 50). What a refreshing attitude, especially in light of the attitude expressed by the right to die movement. Life was not easy for Paul, but, presented with the choice of dying or living, Paul could not make the final choice. You see the Christian can glorify God in life or death, and for the Christian "life" always has meaning and purpose! "Life" for the Christian means continual opportunity, regardless of the circumstances.


Verse 23

Philippians 1:23 “But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better”

“But I am in a strait”: It means to compress, like being pressed by a large crowd. “This serves to highlight the magnitude of Paul"s dilemma. It is a powerful word that can describe a person who is hemmed in on both sides so that he has no room to move” (Hawthorne p. 47). “Restricted on both sides, under pressure which prevents a definite choice” (Jackson p. 33). “Betwixt the two”: “The pressure comes from both sides, the two considerations just mentioned, departing or abiding in the flesh” (Vincent p. 425). “I feel pressure from both sides” (Ber). “The stress Paul felt with two desires like two equally strong external forces pressing in on him viselike from both sides” (Hawthorne p. 47).

“Having the desire”: “I keep on having (present tense)” (Jackson p. 33). “To depart”: “It is the word for striking camp, loosening the tent ropes, pulling up the tent pins and moving on” (Barclay p. 28). See 2 Corinthians 5:1. Thus death is not annihilation, rather this very word suggests that it is simply the time that the Christian pilgrim moves on from this earthly life. “And be with Christ”: 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. Death will simply mean a closer relationship with the Christ who is the absolute focus of Paul"s life. “For it is very far better”: Than anything this life can afford (Romans 8:18). “He piles up comparatives, as if unable to find words capable of expressing the glory of his hope” (P.P. Comm. p. 6).

“For Paul, death is not extinction, it is a transition” (Jackson p. 33). “It does not ‘go out of existence’ until the day of the resurrection, nor does it ‘go to sleep’” (Hendriksen p. 78). Carefully note what Paul does not say. Paul does not say, “I really want to die now”, because death is absolutely meaningless without Christ on the other side. Death, in and of itself has no positive value. The phrase "to be with Christ" does not necessarily infer that the intermediate state known as Hades has been removed for the Christian. Compare this statement with the expression found in Ecclesiastes 12:7.


Verse 24

Philippians 1:24 “yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake”

“Yet”: “Paul, however, was the last man to put his own interests or preferences before the advantage of others” (Bruce p. 52). “To abide in the flesh”: To continue to live on in the body. “Is more needful for your sake”: What unselfishness! The teaching that Paul will lay down in chapter , even applies in hard times and difficult situations. “The need of the church weighs heavier with him than the desire of his own soul” (Hendriksen p. 79). “Paul was not a man who wished to die before his work was done or while he saw any needful duty to be performed. He was not one to shirk his task on earth that he might find rest in heaven” (Erdman p. 68). I cannot help but think as I read these comments, how selfish suicide looks in comparison. Thus Paul is willing to allow God to make such a decision, as to when he will die. What an example of self-sacrifice and love for souls. Immediate personal fulfillment, for the Christian, often must take a back seat to the needs of others---which happens to result in a lasting fulfimment. Paul was even willing to delay his own entrance into eternal bliss, for the spiritual needs of those he loved.


Verse 25

Philippians 1:25 “And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, yea, and abide with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith”

“And having this confidence”: That he will remain alive, "that God"s way for me means longer life and continued labor" (Muller p. 64). “I know that I shall abide”: “How can someone who has just been affirming the utter uncertainty of his fate now convincingly and without more ado make plans for the future? Paul was never uncertain about his fate. He was, however, uncertain about which choice to make, had he the chance to make it, whether to depart or to stay, to live or to die. He wanted the one equally as much as the other. Therefore, it must be repeated, Paul did not make the choice--he could not make the choice. God made it for him” (Hawthorne pp. 51-52). “And abide with you all”: “To remain beside a person to assist” (Jackson p. 34). “And stand fast alongside” (Hawthorne p. 52). This possibly indicating a future personal visit (). “Means to wait beside a person ever ready to help. Paul"s desire to live is not for his own sake, but for the sake of those whom he can continue to help” (Barclay p. 28). “For”: “No one can fail to notice the true nobleness of Paul"s desire. It is not the choice of one who wishes to live because he is afraid to die, nor of one who wishes to die because he lacks the courage to live” (Erdman p. 68). We should remember that "living" for Paul, usually meant more "suffering" (2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23-33; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Living included pain, suffering, disappointment, challenges, and heartache at times, but he was willing to endure all of this and more, in order to assist his brethren. “Your progress”: “To promote your progress” (TCNT). “To help you develop” (Gspd). “And joy in the faith”: This expression would include a continual progress in understanding and appreciating the faith revealed (Jude 1:3). Paul believed that "joy" was a necessary ingredient or logical result of being a faithful Christian, yet such "joy" is only possible if one is "progressing" in the faith. “Progress means happiness" (Hendriksen p. 79). Unfortunately, the church is at times filled with some unhappy Christians. This verse tells us why. Such joy is not possible when a person is not making the effort to progress in the faith.


Verse 26

Philippians 1:26 “that your glorying may abound in Christ Jesus in me through my presence with you again”

“That your glorying may abound”: “May find in me fresh cause for exultation” (TCNT). “Your proud confidence in me” (NASV). “Through my presence with you again”: “My coming to you again” (NASV) ().

Paul expresses his joyful anticipation in coming to Philippi again. His release and reunion with them would mean: “Through Christ, a man can face the worst erect and unafraid. It is the duty of every Christian so to trust that men will be able to see what Christ can do for the man who has given his life to him” (Barclay p. 29). That God, through His providence, can deliver the Christian, even from the most powerful of foes. The gospel can spread, even in the most discouraging and limited situations. Note that the final object or sphere of this boasting is "Christ Jesus". The glory would go to God.

“The apostle"s release--would result in more than merely sentimental rejoicing. They would also thank their Savior. In connection with God"s mercies bestowed upon Paul they would make their boast in their Lord, praising him, and this particularly for bringing their dear friend to them again” (Hendriksen p. 79).

An Exhortation to Steadfastness


Verse 27

Philippians 1:27 “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ: that, whether I come and see you and be absent, I may hear of your state, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel”

“Only”: “Whatever happens to me personally...in any event be sure to conduct yourselves as believers” (Hendriksen p. 80). What a wonderful thought! Paul does not believe in making "bargains with God", that is, "God, if you do this for me…then I will serve you the rest of my life." Regardless of whether Paul comes or not, the same obligation is upon the Philippians. Serve God acceptably. “Your manner of life”: Ultimately the only life that we have control over is our own. Many commentators make the point that the above phrase "manner of life", means to live as a citizen. No matter where the Christian lives, he or she is to behave as a citizen of the kingdom of God. This means that the Christian is not impressed with human opinion in the realm of morals, ethics, right and wrong or spiritual truth. Citizenship has certain obligations. “To live worthily of the gospel, then, also means that the Christian lives as a good citizen of this new state, governing his actions by the laws of this righteousness, peace, faith, hope, love, mutuality, interdependence, good deeds, service to one another, worship of the living God, and so on” (Hawthorne p. 56). “Be worthy of the gospel of Christ”: Ephesians 4:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Colossians 1:10. “Means to conduct it in harmony with the responsibilities which that gospel imposes” (Hendriksen p. 81).

What is involved in walking worthily?

“Whether I come and see you or be absent”: This refers to a consistent level of faithfulness that is not dependent upon Paul"s personal presence. “That ye stand fast”: Ephesians 6:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:15. “The world is full of Christians on the retreat, who, when things grow difficult, play down their Christianity” (Barclay p. 30).

Such "standing fast" requires among other things, no compromise with error, an unwillingness to allow temptations and trial to move one away from God. Never compromise with your conviction that God is good and always has your best interest in mind. “In one spirit”: That is, in one mind.

“Show that it is of extreme importance for Christians to coexist in community, work together in harmony, resist the common enemy with common intention” (Hawthorne p. 56). God expects unity among His people. “They are bound together in one spirit like a band of brothers. Let the world quarrel; Christians must be one” (Barclay p. 30). The danger of mutual discord is pointed out in such passages as 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 and Galatians 5:15.

“With one soul”: “With one mind” (KJV). “And that with one purpose” (Wms). “Indicating that unity must be emotional as well as intellectual” (Jackson p. 38). Compare with Acts 4:32. “Striving”: The word here means to wrestle in company with, to seek jointly and strive together for. “The term suggests contending jointly for a prize” (Jackson p. 38). “Striving together” (Robertson p. 441). “Like fellow athletes they should stand shoulder to shoulder, defending and advancing that faith in Christ which the gospel teaches” (Erdman p. 72). “For the faith of the gospel”: Faith here is used in the objective sense, as in reference to the contents of the gospel message (Ephesians 4:5; Jude 1:3).

“This apostolic admonition flies directly in the face of the modern notion that, due to personality factors and cultural presuppositions, it is impossible for men to achieve religious unity. ‘The faith of one"s choice’ is not a biblical option” (Jackson pp. 37-38). Every Christian is expected to join in this struggle. Becoming a Christian means that one has just volunteered to defend the faith, that is to defend God"s viewpoint and not your own. The modern idea that there is enough room in the church for a diversity of views and do not harmonize with the Bible flies in the face of this Scripture. All Christians are obligated to stand united behind the faith.


Verse 28

Philippians 1:28 “and in nothing affrighted by the adversaries: which is for them an evident token of perdition, but of your salvation, and that from God”

“And in nothing”: “Not for a moment intimidated” (Ber). “Shew a bold front at all points” (Knox). “Affrighted”: “Properly of the terror of a startled horse” (Vincent p. 427). “Not startled in anything” (Robertson p. 442). “Describes those who are suddenly terrified or intimidated. Their faith seems to be swept away by the first breath of antagonism or of criticism. A single book, or one pronouncement of a self-confident skeptic, overthrows the convictions of a lifetime, or at least produces a spiritual paralysis which makes active effort for Christ impossible” (Erdman pp. 72-73). “Which is for them”: Such a bold confidence in the face of opposition. “An evident token”: “Your fearlessness is a clear omen of ruin for them” (Mof). “A demonstration or proof” (Vincent p. 427). “Perdition”: The word means ruin or loss, thus eternal ruin.

Jackson points out: “We must, however, interject this word of caution. Courage can never be a substitute for obedience to the Lord"s plan. Bravery on the part of one who is in error is proof of nothing” (p. 38). Neither is "persecution" clear evidence that one is on the right path. The Christian must always be honest (Luke 8:15). When the Christian faces opposition and the various opposing arguments completely fail to "dent" the truthfulness of the gospel, it is a clear sign that our opponents are in the wrong and lost, and it is a clear sign that we are on the right track and thus on the way leading to eternal life.

“And that from God”: His revelation provides us with the absolute truth, which enables us to take an unyielding stand, even in the midst of opposition.


Verse 29

Philippians 1:29 “because to you it hath been granted in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer in His behalf”

“It hath been granted”: “For you have had the privilege granted” (Wey). “To give graciously; ‘to show favor or kindness’” (Jackson p. 38). “In the behalf of Christ”: Suffering in and of itself has no inherent value, and suffering for wrongdoing gains no credit before God (1 Peter 2:20). Yet suffering for the cause of Christ, suffering for doing the right thing, does gain favor with God (1 Peter 2:20). “Not only to believe on Him”: Just having the opportunity to hear God"s word (Romans 10:17), is a gift from God, that is, we have not merited or even earned the right to listen to God"s message. God"s very word to mankind is an act of grace (Acts 20:32). The mere existence of the Bible is a demonstration that God is good and kind to ungrateful and evil men (Luke 6:35). “But also to suffer in His behalf”: New Testament Christians viewed suffering for Christ as a privilege and honor (Acts 5:41). This is the mindset, that Jesus endured so much for me that I am only too willing to endure opposition, trial, temptation, and pain, in order to advance His cause (Colossians 1:24-25; 2 Corinthians 1:4-6; 2 Corinthians 4:12).


Verse 30

Philippians 1:30 “having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me”

“Having the same”: “Your battle is my own battle” (Knox). “We are in this fight together” (Tay). “Take your part in the same struggle that you have seen me engage in” (Gspd). Suffering becomes more bearable when we get our minds off ourselves and realize that many Christians are enduring the same things (1 Peter 5:9). Paul and the Philippians stood together in their defense of the gospel and they also stood shoulder to shoulder in suffering, united against a common foe. “Conflict”: The word means contention, a fight, “related to our word agony, to be under a great strain” (Jackson p. 39). “Which ye saw in me”: When Paul had been among them, he had been beaten and thrown in jail (Acts 16:1-40).

“And now hear to be in me”: Besides hearing about all his other sufferings (2 Corinthians 11:22 ff); they had heard that Paul took such an uncompromising stand for the truth that he was willing to face the emperor to give an account of his preaching. That"s how much confidence he had in the faith he professed.

“These Philippians, in their present sufferings, can have the encouragement and comfort of knowing that they have a part with the heroic old athlete in the glorious conflict he is waging for Christ and his gospel. In that conflict they all can be victorious” (Erdman p. 74). Believing and suffering go together (2 Timothy 3:12). Like the Philippians, we must choose to follow Christ, despite the cost. All faithful Christians today join in enduring all things for the sake of the gospel. “There is a tale of a veteran French soldier who came in a desperate situation upon a young recruit trembling with fear. ‘Come, son,’ said the veteran, ‘and you and I will do something fine for France’. So Paul says to the Philippians, "For you and for me the battle is one; let us do something fine for Christ’” (Barclay pp. 30-31). Paul did not expect the impossible of other Christians. He only required them to do what he had already done.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Philippians 1:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/philippians-1.html. 1999-2014.


Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
the Fourth Week of Lent
There are 19 days til Easter!
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology