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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Philippians 2

Verses 1-11

  1. INTRO:
    1. Prayer: Every Christian has the choice of being humble & being humbled. Lord You never crushed a soul that was laying prostrate at Your feet.
    2. Dr. Harry Ironside was once convicted about his lack of humility. A friend recommended as a remedy, that he march through the streets of Chicago wearing a sandwich board, shouting the scripture verses on the board for all to hear.Dr. Ironside agreed to this venture and when he returned to his study and removed the board, he said “I’ll bet there’s not another man in town who would do that.”
      1. Our pride is as silly as the donkey that had Jesus on his back, thinking that they put garments & palm fronds on the ground for him!
      2. Perspective: How to stay humble? Picture yourself as simply a kite in a hurricane. When Jesus is the hurricane, it’s kinda hard not to fly!
    3. Unselfish - who comes to mind when you here that word? Mother Theresa? Maybe this “unknown man in the water” from 1982.
      As disasters go, this one was terrible but not unique, certainly not among the worst on the roster of U.S. air crashes. There was the unusual element of the bridge, of course, and the fact that the plane clipped it at a moment of high traffic, one routine thus intersecting another and disrupting both. Then, too, there was the location of the event. Washington, the city of form and regulations, turned chaotic, deregulated, by a blast of real winter and a single slap of metal on metal. The jets from Washington National Airport that normally swoop around the presidential monuments like famished gulls were, for the moment, emblemized by the one that fell; so there was that detail. And there was the aesthetic clash as well—blue-and-green Air Florida, the name a flying garden, sunk down among gray chunks in a black river. All that was worth noticing, to be sure. Still, there was nothing very special in any of it, except death, which, while always special, does not necessarily bring millions to tears or to attention. Why, then, the shock here?But the person most responsible for the emotional impact of the disaster is the one known at first simply as “the man in the water.” (Balding, probably in his 50s, an extravagant mustache) He was seen clinging with 5 other survivors to the tail section of the airplane. This man was described by Usher and Windsor as appearing alert and in control. Every time they lowered a lifeline and flotation ring to him, he passed it on to another of the passengers. “In a mass casualty, you’ll find people like him,” said Windsor. “But I’ve never seen one with that commitment.” When the helicopter came back for him, the man had gone under. His selflessness was one reason the story held national attention.
    4. Humility - tough subject.
      1. I don’t claim to be there, nor as having been there.
      2. So like Paul, I’ll use Jesus as our example this evening.
      3. Let’s commit to Pursue humility together; Practice humility together; Grow in Humility together.
      4. We cannot attain full Humility here. The best we can say is, “as a proud person I am pursuing humility.”
      5. Augustine said, Pride is the mother of all sin. It is pregnant w/all sin.
        1. Pride is the root sin that leads to the fruit of sin.
      6. Conversely then Humility is the mother of all Joy!
    5. Humility runs completely counter culture today!
      1. Even comes against some churches who preach, “It’s all about your destiny, your rights, your calling, your giftedness, your glory.”
      1. If (4x’s) - since Paul was affirming these qualities in the Philippians, not questioning them
      2. (1,2) Fulfill or, Fill-Full my Joy!
      3. Look at how the 4 Incentives (vs.1) link with the 4 Directives (vs.2).
        1. Since there is consolation in Christ - be like-minded.
        2. Since there is comfort of Love - having the same love.
        3. Since there is fellowship of the Spirit - being of one accord {accord = “harmony of souls”, souls that beat together in tune w/Christ & w/each other}
        4. Since there is affection & mercy- be of 1 mind{like clocks that strike at the same time}
      4. He calls for Unity not Uniformity!
        1. Quote - “Everybody repeat after me..."We are all individuals."
        2. You can achieve Unity, amidst Diversity!
      5. (3) Nothing - How many things?
      6. (4) Paul doesn’t promote self-hate, but advocates self-forgetfulness!
        1. As Billy Graham says, "We hurt people by being too busy. Too busy to notice their needs. Too busy to drop that note of comfort or encouragement or assurance of love. Too busy to listen when someone needs to talk. Too busy to care."
      7. Paul shows us Christ’s humble attitude Before!(5,6) During!(7,8) & After!(9-11) His coming to earth!
  2. GOD WITH MEAT! (5-11)
    1. ​​​​​​​BEFORE! (5,6)
    3. Was Jesus selfishly trying to hold on to His privileges as God? No!
    4. (6) As 2nd member of the Godhead, Jesus is coexistant, coeternal, & coequal w/God!
      1. “As the print of the seal on the wax is the express image of the seal itself, so Christ is the express image-the perfect representation-of God.” (St Ambrose 340-397ad)
      2. “A man who can read the NT and not see that Christ claims to be more than a man can look all over the sky at high noon on a cloudless day & not see the sun.” (William Biederwolf)
    5. DURING! (7,8)
    7. Made Himself of no reputation / He emptied Himself / made Himself nothing.
    8. This is what “kenosis” means 2 things:
      1. His pre-incarnate glory was veiled: that is, the glory that He had before He came to earth was veiled by His human form.
        1. Once Jesus unveiled, the veil - Mark 9:23 and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.
      2. He voluntarily did not use some of His divine attributes some of the time.
        1. Nonuse does not mean subtraction. Just because He didn’t use them doesn’t mean He didn’t have them, or could not have used them if He had chosen.
        2. Doesn’t mean He didn’t possess them, but He didn’t access them continually.
      3. He didn’t lay aside His Divine nature or His God-ness!
      4. But, He gave up His environment of Glory. He took upon Himself limitations of place(space), knowledge, & power.
        1. Lightfoot said, “He stripped Himself of the insignia of Majesty!”
        2. “He left the Fathers presence & fellowship, to come walk a lonely path of obedience to the cross.”
        3. “Think about it the Sovereign of the universe became umbilically dependent; The Divine Word was unable to utter one word; The Alpha & Omega had to learn how to feed himself, put His toys away, clean up his room, & take naps.” (Swindoll)
      5. Q: Of what must you empty yourself to model that same servants attitude?
        1. A title; a position; privileges; rights; status; personal conveniences?
    9. (7b) Chile con carne = chili w/meat/flesh. Incarnation is about God w/meat on!
      1. The likeness of men - A Real likeness!
      2. How different was it to pray before Jesus came? What picture of God would men try to have as they prayed? Some awesome, incomprehensible Super-Being utterly beyond all power of human imagination?
        1. In Jesus I see Him; recognize Him; understand Him; & though I still fear Him, I like Him; I love Him; I can utterly trust Him; & possess Him!
    10. HE HUMBLED HIMSELF! (8a)
    11. In Lk.14:7-11 Jesus tells of the parable of taking the low place at a wedding feast.
      1. He ends with the basic principle (vs.11) For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
    12. (8) He humbled Himself - Q: Want to know how humble your not? How proud you are? Just wash someone’s feet in your family this week! [Try it, you’ll experience a very humbling moment as either the washer or washee!]
      1. Wasn’t Jesus always stripping His robe for us?
        1. 1st, in his heavenly home stripping His robe of Glory; Next to wash feet; Next, to hang naked on a wooden cross. What a love!
      2. Jesus' coming is the final and unanswerable proof that God cares. William Barclay
    13. You & I never would have invented a humble God.
      1. He is the only God that claims this attribute.
      1. For his matchless obedience he receives a matchless name!
    15. AFTER! (9-11)
    16. GOD HAS EXALTED HIM! (9a) [God rather than Christ becomes the subject now]
    17. God super-exalted Him; God gave Him the name; God will receive the Glory.
    18. God has highly exalted Him - We do not worship a “babe in a manger”; or a “sacrifice on a cross”; we worship an exalted Lord seated on the throne of the universe!
    20. In that day The greatest City, Rome! The greatest Empire, Rome! The greatest name, that was above all other names...NERO!
      1. ​​​​​​​Philippi was a Roman Colony. At every public event, sporting event, political event, they’d bend their knee & raise their voices to declare “Nero was Lord & Savior”, his name was to be praised above all!
      2. Paul here says, no...Jesus is the name above ALL names!
    22. Every knee should bow –
      1. Heaven - angelic hosts & all believers who have died before us.
      2. Earth - everyone from the most bitter skeptic to the most sincere follower.
      3. Under the Earth - refers to the unsaved who have died, the demonic host, & even Satan himself.
    24. This is one of the most important verses in the N.T. “Here is the aim of God...“That every tongue should confess…Jesus Christ is Lord!
      1. These 4 words were the 1st Creed that the Christian Church ever had.
      2. To be a Christian was to “confess Jesus Christ as Lord.” Rom.10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    25. The Great question facing some of you today is when will you bow?
      1. Will you voluntarily humble yourself before the Lord Jesus, or wait till your forced to? [Today as Friend, or later as Foe?]
        1. Plan A - Act Now? - You’ll be saved.
        2. Plan B - Refuse? You’ll surely concede one day “Under the earth” (too late?)
    26. Jesus is the lifeline the Father has lowered for our salvation.
      1. All mankind has fallen in a deep pit(sin); The rope has been thrown down; Attach it to your waist TODAY!

Verses 12-30

  1. INTRO:
    1. Happy Cinco de Mayo - When 4000 Mexican army defeated the 8000 strong French army in 1862. Not Mexico’s Independence day.
    2. National Day of Prayer - Prayer room open all day; Pray at the Pole (City Hall 12-12:30).
    3. Title: Practical Christianity!
    1. WORK OUT! (12,13)
    3. Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others. Buddha
      1. Sorry Buddha, I’m depending on One!
    4. Q: Well So here it is, it says we must work hard to earn our Salvation right? NO!
      1. #1 He’s addressing Christians (They are already saved)
      2. #2 It doesn’t say “work for” but “work out”!
      3. #3 We must read the next verse (He must work 1st in you before you can work out!)
        1. Also, remember salvation is talked about past, present, & future in the bible:
          1. Past - We are saved from sins Penalty!
            1. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Rom.10:10
          2. Present - We are being saved from sins Power!
            1. Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. Rom.5:9
          3. Future - We will 1 day be saved from sins Presence!
            1. For now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Rom.13:11
    5. Work out - work on to the finish (LKGNT). Like working a mine.
      1. Or, Carry out your own salvation(Vincent).
      2. Or, In-n-Out that’s what salvations all about! :)
    6. Formula: Personal Obedience(12) + Divine Empowerment(13) = His Good Pleasure!(13b)
    7. NO COMPLAINING! (14a)
    8. Bad attitude can manifest itself a couple ways: Complaining & Disputing
    9. Complaining - grumbling, low-toned discontented mutterings.
      1. Story/everyone hates a complainer! A man decided to join a monastery & 1 of the rules of the group was that you were only allowed to speak 2 words every 10 years. At the end of 10 years he said, "Bad food!" - 10 more years went by and he said, "Hard bed!" - Finally, on his 30th anniversary with the brothers, he thundered, "I quit!" - And the priest in charge responded, "You might as well. All you do is complain anyway."
      2. Here’s a good question men, Which does God hear?…When you say grace before your meal thanking him for the food? Or, when you say, “this wasn’t cooked long enough” right after it?
      3. Q: Have YOU been complaining? Around the office? At home? At bible studies? At the coffee shop? With a group of friends? With certain friends?
        1. “When you complain about a situation…make sure your not denying either the wisdom or goodness of God.”
      4. Erwin W. Lutzer “Complaining about our lot in life might seem quite innocent in itself, but God takes it personally.”
    10. NO DISPUTING! (14a)
    11. Disputing - arguing w/others, stirring up doubt & suspicions; it’s skeptical questioning & criticism. It refers to the intellectual rebellion against God(Lightfoot).
      1. It’s those who “mountain-climb over mole-hills!”
      2. “Murmuring and complaining unfits the soul for duty.”
    12. The children of Israel were constantly murmuring & complaining when they should have been trusting & praising.
      1. Many of them never reached the Canaan of spiritual victory & blessing. (Bread For Each Day: DeHaan; Phil.2:14)
      2. Still today, grumblers & complainers are never victorious Christians.
    13. Hudson Taylor used to say, “If your father & mother, your sister & brother, yes, even the cat & dog in your house, are not happier for you being a Christian, it is a question whether you really are or not.”
      1. It is usually not the greatness of our trouble but rather the littleness of our spirit that makes us complain.
      2. These activities(grumbling & complaining) are unworthy of Christ’s servants, & they have a negatively contagious effect among a body of Christians.
    14. HOPES OF BECOMING! (15)
      1. Blameless - A purity of life that is undeniable & inescapable, a character that is free from defect.
      2. Harmless - Unmixed, unadulterated (used of wine or milk…not mixed w/water).
        1. It is also translated Innocence, or “inexperienced in evil”!
      3. W/o fault - Free from blemish (used for sacrificial animals)
        1. Barclay says, “The Christian life must be such that it can be offered like an unblemished sacrifice to God!”
    15. SHINE! (15)
    16. Lights that stand out like stars in the midst of a dark world.
    17. Don’t expect God to use you as a lighthouse somewhere else, if He can’t use you as a candle where you are!
    18. Your choice: You can burn up your energy grumbling/disputing, or shining as lights!
      1. Like a flash light - guiding those walking in darkness!
      2. Like a Lighthouse - signaling those caught in this worlds fog, to see the rocks
      3. Like the Sun - beaming sunshine on a darkened cloudy day.
      4. Like a Star - cutting holes in the darkness!
      5. Like the Moon - reflecting light from a different/greater source!
    19. But things are getting spiritually darker in our day...what then?
      1. Well, what happens when it starts getting dark in our city? The darker it gets hundreds of street lights around our city click on, dispelling the darkness.
    20. RUN! (16)
    21. Nobody wants to look back on their life & think it was a wasted effort!
    22. Holding fast the word of life - All life is valuable, but not all life is equal.
      1. There is vegetable life (which is above mere matter).
      2. There is animal life (which is above vegetable life).
      3. There is human life (which is above animal life).
      4. There is spiritual life (which is superior human life).
        1. This is that word of life, or the word that gives eternal life!
        2. We are told we can, not only have life, but have it more abundantly.
          1. It is a dying souls only remedy!
    23. Paul gives a dual image here:
      1. Run in vain - Like an Athlete.
        1. ​​​​​​​Like the runner who trains & trains, then pulls a hamstring right before the race, all that running was futile!
      2. Labored in vain - Like a Field Worker.
        1. ​​​​​​​After the exhausting work of tilling the ground & sowing the seeds,…torrential rains come & rip up the field, the seeds float to the surface,...all for not!
      3. Paul says, I don’t want to end that way!
    24. POUR OUT! (17)
    25. A drink offering, usually a cup of wine, was poured out on the ground to honor deity.
      1. Paul is again referring to the prospect of martyrdom which he faces, & thinks of himself, his life’s blood, as a libation poured forth to God. (LKGNT; pg.553)
    26. Paul says even if his ministry results in death it’s worth it for him!
      1. F.F.Bruce describes the drink offering, “When a burnt-offering was accompanied by a cereal-offering at the temple, a drink-offering of wine or olive oil might be poured over it or beside it.” [This was added last, to complete the sacrifice]
      2. So, Paul says, “If my life’s blood is to be poured out, let it be poured out on the sacrifice that your faith offers to God.”
    27. TIMOTHY! (19-24)
    28. There are too many believers that are not workers.
      1. Zeal w/o knowledge is bad; but knowledge w/o zeal is worse!
      2. W/o workers the cause of Christ would drag to a full-stop.
    29. THE MESSENGER! (19)
    30. DD.There is 1 friend of Paul’s he mentioned more than any of the others (Timothy about 24 x’s)
    31. vs.20 - Paul commends Tim for 3 reasons:
      1. Like-minded (20a) - or, equal-souled; same-souled [as Jon & David]
      2. Sincerely Cares (20b-21) - Genuine concern. Speaks of his inner character.
      3. Proven Character (22) - approval after being tested.
        1. J.H. Jowett said of character: “The real measure of our wealth is how much we'd be worth if we lost all our money.”
      4. “You get get me” was Paul’s point!
    32. EPAPHRODITUS! (25-30)
    33. We’ve had some good Examples so far:
      1. 1st was Jesus (but some say He’s hard to relate to...He’s God!)
      2. 2nd was Paul (but he was an Apostle)
      3. 3rd was Timothy (but he’s a Pastor!)
      4. Well then, here’s a layman…Epaphroditus!
        1. A Brother; a worker; a soldier; a messenger; & a minister.
        2. Yet he became deathly sick. God healed him. Paul is sending him back home.
    34. Both in P.I. & Haitian jails, family or friends must take care of you. (food, clothes, supplies)
      1. The Situation: The Philippian church sent Epaphroditus to “stay” w/Paul, but now he needs to go back early.
        1. Will they call him a quitter?…Not if Paul can silence any criticism.
      2. (30) Not regarding his life - παραβολή [par·ab·ol·ay] To risk or gamble; to expose oneself to danger.
        1. In the post-apostolic church there was a group called Parabolani (the riskers, or gamblers!) They ministered to the sick & imprisoned. They risked their lives by nursing the sick & burying the dead.
        2. Epaphroditus was the forerunner of the Parabolani!
    35. Why do we exist?….it’s called Living Beyond Me!
      1. ​​​​​​​If you take no risk…you’re not alive!
      2. Like Epaphroditus, we need to unwrap God for them!
        1. We as His church shouldn’t be a coconut (hard on outside & hollow inside)
        2. But a peach (fuzzy outside sweet inside)
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Philippians 2". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.