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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Philippians 1

 

 

Verses 12-30

Philippians 1:12-14. But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the thing, which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Notice the beautiful self-forgetfulness of the apostle Paul. So long as the, gospel could be more widely published, he did not mind where he was, or what he suffered. He was able to witness for Christ among the Praetorian guards, who had the charge of the prison where he was confined, and who also, in their turn, were on duty in Caesar’s palace; so Paul says that, through his being in bonds there, the particulars concerning his imprisonment were talked about even in the imperial palace, and by that means the gospel was made known to many in Caesar’s household. Then, in addition, other brethren, who might perhaps have felt compelled to be quiet in his presence, finding that their leader was removed from them, waxed confident to come out and” speak the word without fear.” The same sort of thing has often happened since. You have sometimes seen a widely-spreading oak tree cut down, and you have missed its grateful shadow; yet, afterwards, you have discovered that many little trees, which would have, been dwarfed beneath its shade, have grown more rapidly in its absence; and, in like manner, the removal of some eminent servant of the Lord Jesus Christ has frequently made room for others to spring up, and more than fill his place.

Philippians 1:15-19. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: the one preach Christ of contention not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,—

It is much to be desired that all who preach Christ should preach in a right spirit; but even if they do not, let us be glad that Christ is preached anyhow, Even though it is only a portion of the gospel that is proclaimed, and there is much mixed with it from which we greatly differ, yet, if Christ is preached, his gospel will win its own way, and work out his great purposes of love and mercy, You have, perhaps, sometimes seen a little fire kindled among the dead autumn leaves which are dank and lamp; and you have noticed that, despite, all the smoke, the fire has continued to live and burn. So is it with the eternal truth of God. Notwithstanding all the error with which it is often damped, and almost smothered, it will live, and the truth will conquer the error which is piled upon it. So Paul says, “I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,”—

Philippians 1:20-21. According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Again I bid you remark Paul’s devotion and self-forgetfulness. It seems to be a matter of no choice with him whether he serves God in life or glorifies him in death. The emblem of the American Baptist Missionary Union is an ox standing between a plough and an altar, with the motto, “Ready for either,”—Ready to spend and be spent in labour, or to be a sacrifice, whichever the Lord pleases.

Philippians 1:22-22. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again. Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.

What a happy church is that where the members all “stand fast in one spirit,” and where they are all “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;—not striving with each other, but all fighting for the faith once for all delivered to the saints!

Philippians 1:28. And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

They give you up as lost because they cannot frighten you; they take it as a token of your perdition that you are not terrified by them, and it is so to them; yet, to you, the peacefulness with which you can endure slander and persecution should be a token of your salvation.

Philippians 1:29. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

What an honour this is to be conferred upon any follower of Christ,—“not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake”! It is not every Christian who receives this mark of honour. There are some believers who have peculiarly tender places in their hearts, and who are wounded and gashed by the unkind remarks of those who love them not because they love the Lord Jesus Christ. To you, my brother, my sister, it is given—and you may well rejoice in such a gift,—“not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”

Philippians 1:30. Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

This exposition consisted of readings from Philippians 1:12-30; and Philippians 2:1-13.


Verses 21-30

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

“To me to live is Christ.” If he lived, he lived to know more of Christ studying his person, and learning by his happy experience so that he increased in his knowledge of his Lord and Saviour. If he lived, he lived to imitate Christ more closely, becoming more and more conformed to his image. If he lived, he lived to make Christ more and more known to others, and to enjoy Christ more himself. In these four senses, he might well say, “For to me to live is Christ,” — to know Christ more, to imitate Christ more, to preach Christ more, and to enjoy Christ more. “And to die is gain,” because death, he felt, would free him from all sin and from all doubts as to his state in the present and the future. It would be gain to him, for then he would no longer be tossed upon the stormy sea, but he would be safe upon the land whither he was bound. It would be gain to him, for then he would be free from all temptations both from within and from without. It would be gain to him, for then he would be delivered from all his enemies; there would be no cruel Nero, no blaspheming Jews, no false brethren then. It would be gain to him, for then he would be delivered from all suffering, there would be no more shipwrecks, no more being beaten with rods, or being stoned, for him then. Dying, too, would be gain for him, for he would then be free from all fear of death; and having once died, he would die no more for ever. It would be gain to him, for he would find in heaven better and more perfect friends than he would leave behind on earth; and he would find, above all, his Saviour, and be a partaker of his glory. This is a wide subject, and the more we think over it, the more sweetness shall we get out of it.

Philippians 1:22. But if I live in the flesh,

That is a very different thing from living to the flesh.

Philippians 1:22. This is the fruit of my labour;

He lived to work for Christ, and to see souls saved as the fruit of his labour.

Philippians 1:22-23. Yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

There were the two currents flowing in opposite directions. The apostle seemed to hear two voices speaking to him; one of them said, “Live, and you will gather the fruit of your labour, you will see sinners saved, churches established, and the kingdom of Christ extended in the earth.” The other said, “Die, and you will be with Christ;” so he knew not which to choose.

Philippians 1:24-26. Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shalt abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

The apostle desired to die, yet he was willing to live. Death would have been gain to him, yet he would endure the loss of living if he might thereby benefit others. Let us also always prefer the welfare of others before our own, and care rather to serve others than to make ourselves never so happy. Now the apostle gives these saints at Philippi a loving exhortation: —

Philippians 1:27. Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

The unity of the church is of the utmost importance. When there is pockets of brotherly love, the perfect bond is lost; and as a bundle of rods, when once the binding cord is cut, becomes merely a number of weak and single twigs, so is it with a divided church. May we always be kept in one holy bond of perfect union with each other!

Philippians 1:28. And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition,

“Away with them! Away with them!” cried the heathen; “those who are not ashamed to acknowledge the crucified Christ are only worthy of perdition.” But of what was their courage a token to themselves?

Philippians 1:28. But to you of salvation, and that of God.

For when saints can bear fierce persecution without flinching it is an evident sign that they are saved by the grace of God.

Philippians 1:29. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him,

Which is a great gift.

Philippians 1:29. But also to suffer for his sake;

Which is a still greater gift.

Philippians 1:30. Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

“The same agony” it is in the Greek, as if every Christian must, in his measure, go through the same agony through which the apostle went, striving and wrestling against sin, groaning under its burden, agonizing to be delivered from it and labouring to bring others out of its power.

This exposition consisted of readings from Philippians 1:21-30; and Philippians 2:1-11

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Philippians 1:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/philippians-1.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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