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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 1

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


From Paul and Timothy. This is more like an ordinary letter. Paul does not assert his apostleship, but gives a friendly greeting from himself and Timothy. Timothy is described in the Introduction to First Timothy. To all God’s people. Christians are God’s people! [Saints: see note on 1 Corinthians 6:11.] Church leaders. Titus 1:5; 1 Timothy 3:1. Church helpers. 1 Timothy 3:8.

Verse 2


May God. See note on Romans 1:7.

Verse 3


I thank my God. See note on Romans 1:8. Paul, imprisoned, has much to thank his God for!!!

Verse 4


I pray with joy. The faith of these Christians at Philippi made him jubilant!!!

Verse 5


Because of the way. Paul is probably thinking of the money and gifts which they sent him at different times (Philippians 2:25; Philippians 4:10; Philippians 4:18). But it goes even deeper than this because they share a common faith in the One Lord!!!

Verse 6


And so. “I have no doubt about your faith, and I know you will go on to the end!!!” That God. God began this work by sending Paul to them. Paul sees God’s work in all that is done, but he also sees God and man as partners in the Christian life (Philippians 2:12-16; 1 Corinthians 3:6).

Verse 7


You are always! “You are especially dear to me in Christ!!!” For you. They all share a common grace in Christ, but Paul probably means the way they shared with him in sending Epaphroditus with gifts to help him while he is imprisoned and cannot work to help himself (Philippians 2:25-30; Philippians 4:18). They also helped finance his work at other times (Philippians 4:15-16).

Verse 8


God knows. “As God himself knows, my deep feeling for you is the same as the deep feeling Christ has for you!!!” Compare Ephesians 5:21 and note.

Verse 9


I pray that your love. “I pray that your love of Christ and your fellow man will continue to grow and grow, as you gain more true knowledge and perfect judgment through your study and practice of God’s word!!!”

Verse 10


Able to choose. “I want you to be able to examine all things in the light of God’s truth, so that you can choose what is best (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).” There was danger from the circumcision party who distorted the gospel (see Acts ch 15), and it is vitally important that they be able to recognize what is true!!! Then you will be. Day of Christ = Judgment. The ultimate test of their Christian life is that they are free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ!!!

Verse 11


Will be filled. “And then, like trees of righteousness planted by the Lord, you will be filled with the fruit of righteousness, to the praise of God!!!” Compare Galatians 5:22-23.

Verse 12


I want you to know. “I don’t want you to be sad or discouraged because I am now imprisoned and suffering! I want you to see these things in their true light! All this has really helped to spread the gospel of Christ!”

Verse 13


As a result. “It is common knowledge that I have been imprisoned because of my religion, and this makes people curious!” See note on Acts 28:16.

Verse 14


Has given. “My courage at this time has set an example which has made most of the brothers more confident as they preach the message!!!” See Philippians 4:22 and note for some of the results of this.

Verse 15


Of course some. How do we fit this in with our idea of the early church??? The truth is, of course, that the early church faced every problem that the church is facing today!!! Technology does not change the basic problems, which grow out of human relationships. Robert Rainy says: “Mixture of motive has haunted the work even of those who strove to keep their motives pure. And men in whom lower motive and worse motive had a strong influence have struck into the work alongside of the nobler and purer laborers. So it has pleased God to permit; that even in this sacred field men might be tried and manifested before the judgment of the great day; and that it might be more plain that the effectual blessing and the true increase come from Himself.” See Philippians 1:17.

Verse 16


These do so from love. Those who preach Christ with all good will. These viewed Paul’s imprisonment in the light of truth – as a defence of the gospel!!!

Verse 17


The others. Robert Rainy says: “There were, as we all know, in the Church of those days powerful sections of professed believers, who contested Paul’s apostleship, questioned his teaching, and wholly disliked the effects of his work. Perhaps by this time the strain of that conflict had become a little less severe, but it had not wholly passed away. We call these persons the Judaisers [circumcision party]. They were men who looked to Jesus Christ as the Messiah, who owned the authority of His teaching, and claimed an interest in His promises. But they insisted on linking Christianity to Jewish forms, and rules, and conditions of law-keeping, which were on various grounds dear and sacred to them . . . Possibly there might even be a Christian congregation in the city in which this type prevailed.” Compare Acts 21:20; John 19:15 and notes. They probably preached Christ as king, hoping to stir up the Roman authorities against Paul.

Verse 18


It does not matter! Robert Rainy says: “It is not true that the preaching of Christ serves no purpose and yields no fruits, in cases where it is not carried on in the right or the best spirit . . . Now the Apostle, looking at this, is glad of it. He is not glad that any men, professing Christ, give way to evil and unchristian tempers. But he is glad that Christ is preached. There were cases in which he vehemently contended with such persons – when they strove to poison and pervert Christians who had learned the better way. But now he is thinking of the outside world; and it was good that the making known of Christ should gather strength, and volume, and extension. And the Apostle knew that the Lord could bless His own message, imperfectly delivered perhaps, to bring thirsty souls to Himself, and would not fail in His unsearchable wisdom to care for those who came, and to lead them in the ways He thought best. Let Christ be preached. The converts do not belong to the denominations, but first of all to Christ. Neither is it appointed that the denominations shall permanently hold those whom they bring in; but Christ can hold them, and can order their future in ways we cannot foretell. . . . But God is not tied up to give no success to men acting under wrong motives: at least, if we are not to say He gives the success to them, yet in connection with them He is well able to take success to Himself. Through strange channels He can send blessings to souls, whatever He gives or denies to the unworthy workmen. Souls truly gathered in will soon get beyond their teaching.”

Verse 19


Because I know. Paul’s enemies see his imprisonment as a source of shame and possible danger. But Paul sees God’s hand at work in all this! Compare Acts 23:11 and note. Paul says with confidence: I shall be set free! Compare 2 Timothy 4:18.

Verse 20


That I shall never fall. Johnson says: “There is no anxiety about himself, only that he may glorify Christ.”

Verse 21


For what is life? Paul’s main thought is whether Christ will be honored by his life or his death. Compare Acts 21:11-13 and notes. Death would bring more to him personally, as he would escape from suffering into Paradise !!!

Verse 22


But if by living on. Paul shows that his desire to stay and work for Christ in this world is equally as strong as his desire to go to his heavenly home!!!

Verse 23


I am caught. Note Paul views death as leading to a more complete life!!! See notes on Luke 16:27-31.

Verse 24


For your sake. He feels a deep obligation for the Philippians and all the Gentile Christians! Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:7 and note.

Verse 25


I am sure. Some think God told Paul this in a vision. Paul expects to stay in his earthly body a few more years, to add to their progress in the faith and their increased joy in Christ!!! See notes on Acts 28:30-31.

Verse 26


So when. “My release will show I have successfully defended the gospel before my judges, and I will have a further opportunity to teach you!”

Verse 27


Now, the important thing. “You must stand firm for the truth and fight together against the circumcision party who want to make you slaves to The Law, and against the heathens who try to force you back into idolatry!”

Verse 28


Don’t be afraid. Both the TEV and NIV follow the corrected Greek text. “Your courage in the face of persecution will prove to your enemies that they must lose and that you will win!” Compare 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 and notes.

Verse 29


The privilege. “Super-saints” look for some gift to set them apart from other Christians – every gift, that is, except the one that is offered to all (Philippians 3:10-11).

Verse 30


Now you can take part. “This is the very same fight you saw me fighting in your own city, and that I am now fighting in Rome! You must expect such things yourself, and face these with courage and endurance!”

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Philippians 1". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/philippians-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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