James Gray's Concise Bible Commentary
JOY IN SUFFERING
The epistle opens with the customary salutation or greeting (Philippians 1:1-2). Timothy is named with Paul, not that he is a co-writer, but a co-worker in Philippi, and hence known to the church. He is however, Paul’s companion in Rome at this time. Note the important expression “in Christ Jesus,” which was explained in Ephesians. Note the advanced development of the church “bishops and deacons” or “overseers and working-helpers.”
Then comes the thanksgiving (Philippians 1:3-8). Note the Christian fellowship expressed in Philippians 1:5, the Philippian church being particularly active in cooperating with Paul. The thought is carried forward into Philippians 1:7, Philippians 1:6 being a parenthesis. Their long consistency in Christian services leads Paul to feel convinced that they were planted on the rock which could not be shaken. They would certainly see the glory of Christ (Philippians 1:6).
Returning to the thought of his love for them, note his fourfold prayer on their behalf: (1) that their love (for one another) might abound; (2) that they might approve the excellent things, or rather “try the things that differ” (RV); (3) that they might be sincere and not stumbling-blocks to others; and (4) that they might be filled with the fruit of righteousness.
A further division begins at Philippians 1:12, where the apostle speaks of his position and circumstances in Rome in language justifying the title of the lesson. His sufferings as a prisoner have proven beneficial to the Gospel, in that it is known “in all the palace” and outside, that he has committed no crime but is there because of the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the world (Philippians 1:13). This knowledge is spreading in two ways (Philippians 1:14-17). The contentious preachers are troubling him personally, but nevertheless the Gospel is spreading through their contention (Philippians 1:18) and he rejoices. These will be a blessing to him in the end, through the fulness of the Holy Spirit in answer to their prayers. Of this he will not be disappointed, he feels sure (Philippians 1:20).
A fifth division suggests itself at Philippians 1:21, where passing from his present experiences to his future hope, he glides naturally into a vein of exhortation. His consciousness and experiences of living are so full of Christ, and hence so full of blessing, that dying to be with Christ would only increase his blessing (Philippians 1:21; Philippians 1:23). If he lives, however, being acquitted at his trial, he will have more fruit in earthly labor for Christ (Philippians 1:22). It is difficult which to choose, but he is confident the Lord’s will is for him to remain with them longer (Philippians 1:24-27). However, whether he returned to them or not let their conduct be ordered right. Let them be steadfast, united and courageous (Philippians 1:27-28). To their enemies this will be an evidence of the perdition that awaits them, but to themselves an evidence of their salvation. A great boon has been granted them to suffer for Christ, as he, Paul, had suffered and was now suffering.
1. Why is Timothy named with Paul in the salutation?
2. Analyze Paul’s prayer.
3. How would you explain Philippians 1:21?
4. How would you explain Philippians 1:28, last clause?
Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
the Fourth Week of Lent
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