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Philippians Chapter One                            


I. Content of the Chapter


The Foreword to This Book

A.  The writer (v.1a);

B.  The Recipients (v.1b);

C.  Greeting (v.2);


Paul’s Thanks and Prayers for the Church

A.  The time of giving thanks ---- every remembrance of you (v.3);

B.  The attitude of giving thanks ---- with joy (v.4);

C.  The reasons for giving thanks:

1. Your fellowship in the gospel (v.5);

2. He who has begun a good work in you will complete it (v.6);

3. You all are partakers with me of grace in any case (v.7);

D.  The reason for prayer ---- I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ (v.8);

E.  The items of prayer:

1. That your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment (v.9);

2. That you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense (v.10);

3. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ (v.11);


Paul’s Testimony in Prison

A.  His Imprisonment Was for the Purpose of Preaching Christ:

1. The imprisonment which happened to him has actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel (v.12).

2. The imprisonment has become evident to all that his chains are in Christ (v.13).

3. Most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word (v.14).

4. As long as Christ is preached, it is worthy of joy no matter the motivations are (v.15-18).

B.  He Lives for the Purpose of Manifesting Christ:

1. It will turn out for his deliverance through the prayer of all the saints and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ ---- live (v.19).

2. Christ will be magnified in his body, whether by life or by death (v.20).

3. To live is Christ, and to die is gain (v.21).

4. Though departing and being with Christ is much better are far better, he shall still live for the sake of all the saints (v.22-24).

5. He lives to enjoy the joy in Christ Jesus with all the saints (v.25-26).

C.  He Exhorts all the Saints to Strive Together for the Gospel of Christ:

1. Conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ (v.27a);

2. Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (v.27b);

3. Not in any way terrified by the adversaries (v.28);

4. You it has been granted on behalf of Christ to suffer for His sake (v.29);

5. All the saints shall have the same conflict with him (v.30);


II. Verse by Verse Commentary


Phil. 1:1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

YLT: “Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with overseers and ministrants;”

Meaning of Words:bondservant”: slave; “Paul”: tiny; “saint”: the sanctified one; “overseer”: superintendent; “deacon”: minister, waiter;

Literal Meaning:bondservants of Jesus Christ”, Paul modestly calls himself like this. It shows that: 1) He is of the Lord. Both if he should live then, and if he should die, he is the Lord's. (Rom. 14:8); 2) he does not walk according his own will, but keeps the Lord’s will in everything; 3) he is a servant of the Lord and obeys the sending of the Lord.

“And Timothy”, he is a young fellow worker of Paul, and Paul regards him as his son (1Tim. 1:2). Here, Paul signs the name of Timothy together. Possibly, Paul is ready to send him to visit the church in Philippi (Phil. 2:19), expecting that the church in Philippi shall respect Timothy.

The saints of the church in Philippi have two identities: 1) as far as the flesh is concerned, they dwell in Philippi and have the citizenship of Rome; 2) as far as the spirit is concerned, they have the heavenly citizenship in Christ Jesus.

“Bishops”,     it is the byname of the overseer (Acts. 20:17, 28).

“Deacons”: those who serve in many things in the church;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Since believers are bought and redeemed by the precious price of the Lord, all our bodies, minds, time, talents, possessions are of the Lord, not of ourselves.

2)    Believers should obey the Lord and use their time, talents and money (1Cor. 4:1; 1Pet. 4:10) like that the salves should walk according to the commandment of the master.

3)    The writer changes his name as “Paul” and he is willing to become “tiny” (the meaning of the original). The Lord’s servant should not be puffed up and shall humble himself to serve (Matt. 20:26-28).

4)    Every servant of the Lord should yield his own will to focus on the will of Lord. Therefore, they shall serve to please the Lord only instead of being affected by men’s interest.

5)    If we do not know the will of the Lord, we are unworthy of the Lord’s workers.

6)    Just like the relationship between Paul and Timothy, the fellow workers should respect each other and then the church will respect them.

7)    Every believer is supposed to have dual identities: according to the flesh, we dwell on the earth (“who are in Philippi”); according to the spiritual reality, we are in the heaven (“in Christ Jesus”).

8)    Believer should not be associated with the world in conversations, but shall keep him in Christ so that he can be a truly “saint” with a separated life.

9)    A normal believer’s life should include his “physical” life and “spiritual” life.

10) Many things are right in the sight of men in the world, but are wrong in our sight, for we not only abide in the world, but also in Christ.

11) Believers should not ignore his responsibility that he has to take in the world. However, he should still transcend this world and not be ruled by the world and live in Christ.

12) No matter what those who live in Christ Jesus do, they do for the Lord. Therefore, every work should be done diligently.

13) Life in the world and secular things cannot hinder believers from drawing near Christ or being united with Christ.

14) Abiding in Christ is the secret for believers to lead a victorious life on the earth.

15) Believers on the earth are merely sojourners only, so our hope is not set on earthly things. Our outlook on life and values are totally different from those of men in the world.

16) Since we believers have still to “abide” in the world, we shall not ignore our duties or responsibilities.

17) Though there is the difference among “saints”, “bishops” and “deacons” in the church according their respective functions, they are still equal before the Lord according to the life of them, without the difference between lowliness and nobleness.


Phil. 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

YLT: “Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Literal Meaning: “grace”: graciousness, which is the free gift bestowed by God. The greatest grace for men is that God is willing to let Him be possessed and enjoyed by men.

“Peace”, it does not refer to peaceful and smooth environment, but quite and restful mood in one’s heart. In other words, peace is a kind of mood of those who have already enjoyed God’s salvation, which brings peace between God and men, and among men themselves.

“From God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”, God is the God of all, and is also our Father. God is the origin of grace and peace, and we can enjoy Him only through the Lord’s redemption (in Christ).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Christians are those who enjoy the grace of God, and therefore, their life must have its pleasantness. The Christianity that has no attraction is not real Christianity.

2)    Grace is a gift that men can not obtain by themselves, for men are unworthy of receiving grace through themselves.

3)    Grace is before peace. The order cannot be altered. It is impossible for men to obtain peace before receiving grace.

4)    The original meaning of “peace” is “binding together”. Only those believers who have been united with God into one can enjoy true peace.

5)    The “peace” of believers is neither in connection with the objective environment nor affected by any other external thing.

6)    We should not seek peace outside of God. There is only one source of peace, namely, God Himself.

7)    All the spiritual good should be obtained through Jesus Christ.


Phil. 1:3 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you”,

YLT: “I give thanks to my God upon all the remembrance of you,”

Meaning of Words: “remembrance”: remember; “thank”

Literal Meaning: Paul mentions his various thoughts in him when he remembers the church in Philippi.

  “My God” in this verse is emphatic, indicating the intimate relation of Paul with God ---- they belong to each other.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    What a self-centered (namely, selfish) man thinks in his heart is nothing else than himself or things of his family members. He never considers things of others.

2)    The moment when Paul remembers others, he thinks of God. God is a critically important role in our relationship with others. However, it is the benefit instead of self-sacrifice that establishes the relationship in the life of those who have no God.

3)    Without God, we can not bring true profit to others.

4)    If we cannot make others give thanks to God for us in our walking, we will have no good testimony.

5)    Paul says “our God”, which shows that he has sound and solid relationship with God. Not only is Paul occupied by God, but also God is occupied by Paul.

6)    Is our relation with God held in objective knowledge? Or we regard God as our reliance and help in personal experiences?

7)    There are indeed many troubles in the services of the church, and yet there is also much consolation!


Phil. 1:4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,

YLT: “always, in every supplication of mine for you all, with joy making the supplication,”

Literal Meaning: “request”: prayer uttered for the sake of some condition or need;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Paul firstly gives thanks and then makes request. The request presented in the heart of gratitude is easy to be granted.

2)    Paul remembers the church in prayer. His remembrance is inseparable from prayer.

3)    Most of our time, we pray for ourselves only, not for others.

4)    “All”, it indicates the wide extent of Paul’s prayer and the equal treatment toward the saints. We should not care about those whom we are intimately familiar with only.

5)    “Make request”, it shows that it has not been granted by God. Paul can make request “with joy”, which shows that he has known in faith that God has answered him so that he is full of gratitude.

6)    Many Christians’ prayers are “supplications with bitterness”, not “requests with joy”. This is because they do not know God nor know the will of God.

7)    The prayer of the Lord’s worker is the continuance of service. The prayer of the worker is service.

8)    Truth is like iron and prayer is like fire. Only the prayer can translate the truth into our life.


Phil. 1:5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,

YLT: “for your contribution to the good news from the first day till now,”

Meaning of Words:fellowship”: partnership, intercourse, communion;

Literal Meaning:from the first day”, the day when the Philippians received the gospel;

“Until now”, until when Paul wrote this epistle; it was inferred about twelve years;

“Your fellowship in the gospel”, participate in and uphold and promote the ministry of the gospel; believers in Philippi not only preached the gospel themselves but also took part in the ministry of Paul’s preachment of the gospel by sending the gift of substances and showing earnest concern and intercessions.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Paul’s joy for them (v.4) is not for the sake of their “preachment of the gospel”, but their “fellowship of the gospel”. There is no more beautiful condition of the church than that of believers’ fellowship with one accord.

2)    If believers do not keep the same mind or have misunderstandings, they should deal with it and eliminate the condition as soon as possible for the sake of the preachment of the gospel so as not hinder the blessing of God.

3)    The preachment of the gospel is not the work of any individual believer, but that of the whole believers, namely, of the whole church. Only when believers work together will the work be efficacious.

4)    If the church can not be of the same mind inside, it will be the main reason why there is no testimony in the church and no prosperity in the gospel.

5)    Brothers and sisters are all the participants of managing the kingdom of God and are dealing with the ministrations entrusted by God together.

6)    The devotion in money or substance can also make us have part in the ministry of the gospel.


Phil. 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

YLT: “having been confident of this very thing, that He who did begin in you a good work, will perform till a day of Jesus Christ,”

Meaning of Words:be confident”: be persuaded;

Literal Meaning:being confident of”, the tense shows that Paul has got the confidence early and will continually have such confidence afterwards.

“Has begun a good work”, it is the work of God in believers that they can be saved (Jon.2:9). Apparently, the building of the church is due to Paul’s preachment of the gospel. However, actually, it is the consequence of God’s work in them.

  “The day of Jesus Christ”, the day when the Lord comes again to take believers (1Thess. 4:13-18);

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    God will be responsible for all the works that He has started.

2)    All the works of believers should be firstly started by God in them and then done by them.

3)    All those who do not let God work in them can not work for God.

4)    Believers should let God work in them as long as it is called To-day before the Lord comes again. Otherwise, God does not work on that day (it will be judgment on that day), and it will be late for repentance.

5)    If believers desire to let God work in them, they should commit themselves unto God totally and then believe and obey.


Phil. 1:7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.

YLT: “according as it is righteous for me to think this in behalf of you all, because of my having you in the heart, both in my bonds, and the defence and confirmation of the good news, all of you being fellow-partakers with me of grace.”

Meaning of Words: “right”: righteous, just; “defense”: answer (for self), clearing of self (a legal term); “confirmation”: stabiliment (a commercial term);

Literal Meaning: this verse presents the reason why Paul is confident of them.

  “In my chains”, when Paul firstly preached in Philippi, he was once imprisoned (Acts. 16:23-24).

“Defense”, in the passive aspect, he defends for the truth of the gospel so as to eliminate the prejudices or oppositions toward the gospel.

“Confirmation”, in the positive aspect, we bear witness to the gospel with our experience and words.

“Partakers with me of grace”, the Philippians had not turned away from Paul because of his imprisonment and yet were pleased to show sympathy for him and upheld his ministry of the gospel. Therefore, they took part also in the grace that Paul had obtained in prison.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The church in Philippi “had fellowship in” the gospel with Paul and were partakers with Paul of grace. Therefore, fellowship in the work is the way of taking part in grace.

2)    A church that has fellowship in the works is a church that partakes of grace.

3)    Paul can still enjoy grace in his chains. Adversity or tribulations are often good opportunities of taking part in grace.


Phil. 1:8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.

YLT: “For God is my witness, how I long for you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ,”

Meaning of Words: “affection”: bowel;

Literal Meaning: “affection”: the inside soft and gentle affection;

  “The affection of Jesus Christ”: the bowel of devoting oneself and sacrificing oneself;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    It is the expression of the bowel of Christ Jesus that believers can put down themselves and think of the profit of others.

2)    A baby cannot understand the bowel of his parents. Only those who have spiritually grown up can know the bowel of the Lord.

3)    One's heart is past finding out, but God can search reins and hearts. Only the one who is upright in his heart can be worthy of God’s testimony.


Phil. 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,

YLT: “and this I pray, that your love yet more and more may abound in full knowledge, and all judgment,”

Meaning of Words: “love”: the divine love; “knowledge”: the true knowledge; “discernment”: judgment, perception; “abound still more and more”: ever increasing, superabound, be in excess, be superfluous;

Literal Meaning:this I pray: my desire before God;

“Love”: here the love refers to the nature of God’s life;

“Knowledge”: the true knowledge of God obtained from experience;

“And all discernment”: the capability of judging and discerning various things, which is a spiritual acuity;

“Abound still more and more”: the true love should increase and abound (1Thess. 3:12);

If men have merely knowledge but no love, they will be indifferent as the iceberg in the moonlight. If there is only love without knowledge, men will become terrible as the fire burning the forest in the dry season.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    “Love” is the nature of God’s life. Believers may tend to pay attention to the actions of love but seldom cultivate the life of love.

2)    Paul’s prayer indicates that only God Himself can make our love grow toward right direction. There is no other good way except God Himself.

3)    God not only desires us to have love but also love may abound still more and more. In other words, God desires us to grow in love.

4)    We can deal with everything in our life only when we have abundant love.

5)    God desires that our love is so abundant that it even abounds and the whole man of us is marked with love and thus become a man of “love”.

6)    The love of believers is not out of affection only, but is also rooted in knowledge and all discernment.

7)    Love and knowledge and discernment should keep balance. Only when the love goes with knowledge and all discernment can love be in line with the will of God and bring men true profit.

8)    Love without knowledge and all discernment is the root of all problems in the church, which always leads men astray or to extremity.

9)    The more believers’ knowledge of God is, the keener the spiritual discernment is and the more proper the application of love is.


Phil. 1:10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,

YLT: “for your proving the things that differ, that ye may be pure and offenceless -- to a day of Christ,”

Meaning of Words: “approve”: prove, try, test, discern; “excellent”: better, be of more value, differ from; “sincere”: judged by sunlight, pure; “without offense”: inoffensive, not leading into sin, faultless, none offence;

The Background: “sincere”, it is a compound of sunlight and judge. It was said that there were many men who sold images cut in stone at that time. They often filled the cracks on the images with wax. The buyers would put the stone images under the sunlight. If there was any crack, it would be exposed when the wax was dissolved. Therefore, the word “sincere” in the original means “blamelessness, purity”.

Literal Meaning: “that”, it shows that the words in verse ten and eleven are the result of verse nine.

  “Till the day of Christ”, when Christ comes again, the walking of believers should be under judgment (2Cor. 5:10).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    True love can help us keep right value in our daily life (approve …that are excellent).

2)    A believer who is ever growing will not be satisfied with his present “good” condition. Instead, he will seek “what is better” and “what is excellent” continually.

3)    One’s spiritual discernment is relevant to his stature of life. The more grown-up our spiritual life is, the more we can discern what is more excellent.

4)    True love delivers us from untruth and makes us tend to excellency.

5)    If we are sincere and true to man, there is no occasion of stumbling in him.

6)    “Be sincere and without offense”, it is not to be an honest man who looks silly, but be a man who is wise in sincerity. He shall not only make himself “blameless” but also make others not stumbled.

7)    Believers should be prudent as the serpents, and guileless as the doves (Matt. 10:16)

8)    Believers should walk in the world on the premise of giving an account concerning them to the Lord when he comes again rather than considering the thinking or saying of men in the world.


Phil. 1:11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

YLT: “being filled with the fruit of righteousness, that through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Literal Meaning: “fruits”: our works (Matt. 7:16-20);

  “The fruits of righteousness”, the works that fulfill the righteousness of the law (Rom. 8:4);

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Fruits are borne inside, not added outside.

2)    Christ is the righteous one (Acts 3:14). He is the righteousness. “By Jesus Christ”, it is the key of our being filled with “the fruits of righteousness”.

3)    The branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine (John 15:4). Christ is the source of all good works of believers.

4)    The fruits of our life and works should be obtained by lawful and just means, not crafty or crooked means.

5)    The duty of believers on the earth is not bearing some fruits occasionally, but is “filled” with the fruits of righteousness. Therefore, we shall not remember only some fragmentary good works.

6)    Since the good works of believers are of Christ, not of them, the purpose is not giving glory to them, but to God.


Phil. 1:12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,

YLT: “And I wish you to know, brethren, that the things concerning me, rather to an advancement of the good news have come,”

Meaning of Words:furtherance”: progress, advancement;

The Background: believers in Philippi were worried about Paul for his imprisonment in Rome, thinking that it would block the ministry of the gospel. Therefore, Paul told them the good news.

Literal Meaning:the things which happened to me”, it refers to the imprisonment of Paul.

“Have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel”, Paul’s being imprisoned is like the pioneer’s opening the way at the head so that the gospel which is like the army behind will go forward.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    It is amazing that the gospel tends to be more prosperous in persecutions. The imprisonment of the preachers even promotes the furtherance of the gospel.

2)    The more the church is persecuted, the more the gospel is furthered. When believers are killed, there is ever increasing number of men who believe the Lord. 

3)    Proclaim the gospel in season out of season (2Tim. 4:2).


Phil. 1:13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;

YLT: “so that my bonds have become manifest in Christ in the whole praetorium, and to the other places -- all,”

Literal Meaning:chains”: in a narrow sense, they refer to the handcuffs and chains; in the broad sense, they indicate imprisonment and tribulations.

  “The whole palace guard”, the guarding army directly under the Roman emperor;

  “All the rest”, those who had contact with Paul, including those who were in Caesar’s household (Phil. 4:22).

  “Have become evidentin Christ”, those who were abound Paul had known that Paul’s imprisonment was purely for the sake of keeping the truth of the gospel for Christ, not for the sake of any political or civil or criminal sin.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    When a believer truly lives for the Lord, men can even see the relation of his difficult position with Christ.

2)    “The weak is trapped in the environment and the wise uses the environment”. Paul can change the prison into the place of preaching the gospel. Can we make the best use of the environment or opportunity?

3)    Paul did not work for the Lord when his case was complete. When we serve the Lord, we should not wait to do the Lord’s works until the suspenseful case was resolved. Otherwise, we should miss many chances.

4)    God will not miss His faithful servants, and He will manifest the truth of the matter for them and plead their cases.


Phil. 1:14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

YLT: “and the greater part of the brethren in the Lord, having confidence by my bonds, are more abundantly bold -- fearlessly to speak the word.”

Meaning of Words: “most of”: majority; “become confident”: persuade, have confidence, believe; “much more”: more exceedingly, more superabundantly;

Literal Meaning:most of”, it indicates that the rest of the brethren are not benefited.

  This verse shows that the imprisonment of Paul yields even unexpected results ---- many brethren are encouraged by his example and full of confidence and boldness and thus preach the gospel with earnestness.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    If believers truly love the Lord, they can still encourage others in his difficult position.

2)    Many people around us are looking upon us and paying attention to our responses to our situations. Therefore, we should be careful and bear good witness to the Lord.

3)    When the majority is benefited, there may be still a few people who have not been benefited. It is relevant to their inner conditions (e.g. intentions, motives).

4)    Faith is a lot to do with boldness. The secret of boldness without fear is confidence and firm faith.


Phil. 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill:

YLT: “Certain, indeed, even through envy and contention, and certain also through good-will, do preach the Christ;”

Meaning of Words: “strife”: contention, debate;

Literal Meaning:from envy and strife”, it indicates that some believers do not agree with Paul’s works, thinking that he just asks for and deserves the imprisonment. Therefore they do not have fellowship with Paul and preach the gospel themselves. Such doing of them is just out of selfishness and strife.

  “From goodwill”, it means that their intention is right and they still cooperate with Paul to preach the gospel in spite of Paul’s imprisonment.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    There is even someone who preaches Christ out of unwholesome intention. We believers should not judge anyone according to the appearance only (2Cor. 5:16).

2)    This verse provides a good warning to the Lord’s workers ---- the fellow-worker may have contentions for selfish motives with the performances in the works, turning spiritual things into tools meeting fleshly lusts.


Phil. 1:16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains;

YLT: “the one, indeed, of rivalry the Christ do proclaim, not purely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds,”

Meaning of Words:selfish ambition”: rivalry, intrigue; “sincerely”: purely, it especially describes the precious metal without mixing any inferior alloy; “affliction”: pressure;

Literal Meaning: this verse refers to the former kind of men in verse fifteen, who preach the gospel to humiliate and trouble Paul.

  “Not sincerely, it means that the motive is not sincere or pure.

“Supposing to add affliction to my chains”, it means in the original rubbing the hands and feet of the prisoners with their chains to make them in pain.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Many times, the difficulties imposed to the preachers are not from unbelievers, but from believers in the church and from other preachers.

2)    It is a good thing to preach Christ. However, if it is preached in a striving spirit, it will bring afflictions to others. Believers shall consider not only the thing itself in their walking but also the motive.


Phil. 1:17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.

YLT: “and the other out of love, having known that for defence of the good news I am set:”

Meaning of Words: “defense”: plea, clearing of self (a legal term); “appoint”: set (a military term);

Literal Meaning: this verse refers to the latter kind of men in verse fifteen. They deeply know that: Paul’s imprisonment is relevant to the testimony of the gospel and his chains are exactly the seal of his being called as an apostle.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    He who has envy and strife will never understand the actions of others in love. Only love calls upon love and responds to love.  .

2)    The defense of Paul is not for himself, but for the gospel. “We” can be imprisoned, but the gospel can never be imprisoned and shall be announced.


Phil. 1:18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

YLT: “what then? in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed -- and in this I rejoice, yea, and shall rejoice.”

Literal Meaning: Paul does not care for the preachers or the motive of the preachers, but cares whether the gospel they preach is right and whether Christ has been preached.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    If we commit ourselves to the Lord and to the gospel as Paul, we will not care for our own profit or loss, but care for that of the Lord.

2)    A true worker of the Lord can bear the works done for the Lord by those who are immature in spiritual life or those who have impure motives.

3)    The true joy of believers comes from the fact that Christ is exalted, not from their own situation or how others treat them.

4)    Though someone preaches the gospel out of impure motives, the gospel which is the power of God (Rom. 1:16) is not blocked because of the condition of the preacher.

5)    Though men seek their own glory by using Christ, they are still used by God.

6)    The chief mission of us in the world is not opposing against others, but positively preaching Christ to all positively.


Phil. 1:19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

YLT: “For I have known that this shall fall out to me for salvation, through your supplication, and the supply of the Spirit of Christ Jesus,”

Meaning of Words: “turn out for”: go out, become;

The Background: “supply”, this word is used to describe the situation with full provision ---- when a rich family set a feast at that time, there would be not only a whole bunch of food but also music bands for entertainment. Therefore, the word “supply” means “full and complete provision”.

Literal Meaning: “know”: be assuredly know;

  “This”: the above-mentioned situation he is faced with;

  “For my deliverance”, it is not the salvation of his soul, but that he is delivered from that situation.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The life or death, honor or disgrace of believers is not ruled in the hands of the earthly authority, but in the hands of God.

2)    Prayer of brothers or sisters is one of the sources of the power for the Lord’s workers in service. Today, the preachers lack power, ambition and faith. Possibly, it is because we have no good prayers for them.

3)    Believers’ suffering tribulation is not the original will of God. Therefore, it is right for us to pray for God’s help to deliver them from the tribulations.

4)    Though we believers are physically separated, we can be jointed together in spirit by prayer, thus providing each other.

5)    The Spirit of Jesus Christ has full provision, which is the source of power and salvation for believers in afflictions.

6)    The effect of believers’ prayer is due to the help of the Spirit.


Phil. 1:20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

YLT: “according to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, and in all freedom, as always, also now Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death,”

Meaning of Words: “earnest expectation”: intense anticipation; “magnified”: make great, increase, extol, enlarge, show great;

Literal Meaning:in nothing”, none of them, not in any aspect;

  Christ will be magnified in my body”: Christ is manifested through me.

  The Spirit of Christ abides in the bodies of believers (Rom. 8:9). What Paul earnestly expects is the manifestation of Christ on him should not be blocked to make him ashamed because of his body condition. Contrary, though he is threatened by death, he can still manifest Christ.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    If what we expect and hope is not what God pleases, it will unavoidably fail and even be ashamed. However, if it is pleasant to God, it must be not ashamed.

2)    Men may despise Christ or see not Christ. Therefore, believers have the responsibility of magnifying Christ to let men see Him.

3)    The life and works of believers will bring either glory to Christ or disgrace to Him.

4)    Paul’s affliction brings him chances to manifest the infinite greatness of Christ. Therefore, any situation is the chance for believers to let Christ magnified

5)    No matter life or death, they are both opportunities granted by God for us to manifest Christ.


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

YLT: “for to me to live Christ, and to die gain.”

Literal Meaning: men may commonly be afraid of death, but Paul thinks that death is not ultimate loss, but eternal gain. Such “gain” is not only the reward in the heavens after death (Phil. 3:14) but also more being made fit for sharing the portion of the saints in light, namely, Christ Himself (Col. 1:12; Eph. 1:11, 14) ---- the presence of Christ in a higher layer or degree.

  “Live is Christ”, it is not that we live by the power of the Lord, but that the Lord Himself lives in us. God gives Christ to us as our life, and it is His life that lives in us.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Christ is not only believers’ inner life but also their daily life.

2)    If believers live by the life of Christ in them, they will naturally live out Christ.

3)    Only when a believer takes the manifestation of Christ as his ministry can he leave life and death out of consideration.

4)    The significance of believers’ life is Christ. The life that fails to manifest Christ has not profit. And there may be loss after death (1Pet. 4:17).

5)    Christians need not their own strength in their life, for the life of Christians is a law which will work naturally without our labor.

6)    To a man who lives is Christ, not only does he live for Christ but also his whole life is occupied and managed by Christ ---- Christ is the guidance, value and all of his life.

7)    Believers may often have not manifested who we are in our life, but have manifested who we are not.


Phil. 1:22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.

YLT: “And if to live in the flesh to me a fruit of work, then what shall I choose? I know not;”

Meaning of Words: “labor”: work; “tell”: declare;

Literal Meaning: “labor”, Paul often uses this word to refer to the works for the sake of the gospel done by him or others (Rom. 15:18; 2Cor. 10:11; Phil. 2:30). “Fruit from my labor”: it relates to the effect of the preachment of the gospel he has seen.

  Paul means that though he himself does not fear death, if the Lord lets him still live to fulfill the mission of the gospel, he cannot tell others what he shall choose between life and death.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The spiritual works is not decided by what we have done, but how we live.

2)    The life of a man who has really lived out Christ is his works.

3)    Fruit comes from life. The more abundant life can bear more fruit.

4)    If a believer lives and dies both for the Lord, he needs not choose.

5)    In him we live and move and exist (Acts 17:28).


Phil. 1:23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

YLT: “for I am pressed by the two, having the desire to depart, and to be with Christ, for it is far better,”

The Background: “be hard-pressed between the two”: in the original it describes a traveler who walks in a narrow way with cliffs on both sides, on the horns of a dilemma;

  “Depart”, it in the original means that an army puts up the tents for departure or the anchor is released and the ships will leave off the land.

Literal Meaning: Paul means that it is better for himself to be a martyr and depart to be with the Lord. However, he lives for the purpose of fulfilling the works of the gospel that is mentioned in the previous verse. Therefore, he is hard-pressed between the two and cannot tell what he shall choose.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    To Paul, either life or death is meaningful. He fears neither life nor death. He is positive to both.

2)    A true believer is hard-pressed between the two ---- die for his own profit, and live for the profit of others.

3)    Believers are restricted by physical bodies. Once we die, we will be released and our soul will depart and be with the Lord.

4)    When believers live on the earth, though we have the presence of the Lord, we are still troubled by things in the world. And thus our fellowship with the Lord will be more or less affected. Therefore, the departure out of the world is better.


Phil. 1:24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

YLT: “and to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account,”

Literal Meaning: seeing from the previous verse, to depart is “better” for Paul, and it is also Paul’s desire. However, seeing from this verse, to remain is “more needful for you”, and it is his responsibility. The former “departure” is his own joy and the latter “remaining” is his help to others.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The Lord’s workers should emphasize the need of those whom they serve more than their own interest and desire.

2)    All those who do not live for others in the flesh can not demand for the presence of the Lord after departure.


Phil. 1:25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,

YLT: “and of this being persuaded, I have known that I shall remain and continue with you all, to your advancement and joy of the faith,”

Literal Meaning: Paul is so responsible that he is confident that he will be released and will thus serve the church continually, helping believers to grow in spiritual life and increasing their joy by their more fellowship with Christ.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The life of Christians should be a joyful and progressive journey.

2)    Many believers lack joy, for they cease growing. Where there is progress, there is joy.

3)    Progress in faith is relevant to joy. True progress must lead to more joy, and true joy manifests more progress.

4)    Our faith is a kind of faith that makes man joyful in both his heart and his countenance. If our faith can not make man rejoice, it avails him nothing.

5)    If we cannot become the joy of others, the most responsibility lies in us. Some in the church have even become the burden of the church, for they always make others sorrowful wherever they go.


Phil. 1:26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

YLT: “that your boasting may abound in Christ Jesus in me through my presence again to you.”

Meaning of Words: “rejoice”: boasting, glory;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Christ is the source of believers’ joy. Only when we are in Christ Jesus can we enjoy the true joy.

2)    The chief mission of the Lord’s workers is increasing the joy of believers in the Lord.

3)    If you want to become the joy of others in the church, you should let Christ magnified in your life.


Phil. 1:27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

YLT: “Only worthily of the good news of the Christ conduct ye yourselves, that, whether having come and seen you, whether being absent I may hear of the things concerning you, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul, striving together for the faith of the good news,”

Meaning of Words: “conduct”: behave as a citizen, let conversation be; “worthy”: appropriately, as become, after a godly sort; “one mind”: one soul; “strive together”: collect, gather together;

Literal Meaning: “only”, it is the responsibility of man.

“Your”, it is not spoken to any individual believer, but to the whole church.

“Conduct”, live as a good citizen;

“Be worthy of the gospel of Christ, be worthy of the power of life and its manifestation declared in the gospel;

“In one spirit, Paul regards the oneness of the church as the condition of being worthy of the gospel.

“Stand fast”, the preachment of the gospel is a spiritual war. To “stand fast” in the war is important (Eph. 6:14).

“With one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”, believers in Philippi should be with one mind when they are faced with the disturbance and persecution of the enemy so that they can bear witness to the Lord.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The gospel “announced” by the mouths of believers should be worthy of the gospel “walked” in their life.

2)    What is most important in the preachment of the gospel is not the ways or skills or organizations or strategies of our preachment, but our conduct.

3)    What a man has done is more persuasive than what he has said. A testimony of good conduct is more efficacious than one thousand gospel messages.

4)    The fight of the gospel is a kind of team work, not a war of any individual.

5)    The gospel is a spiritual war. If one is not in the spirit, he cannot stand firm (Eph. 6:12-18).

6)    In the works of the preachment of the gospel in the church, what is most important is keeping in one mind, and what is the worst is holding different opinions of all.

7)    “Strive”, it shows that the preachment of the gospel is difficult. But if we do not faint, we shall reap in due time.

8)    As long as the church keeps the above-mentioned fundamental conditions in this verse, the gospel will be surely preached out. It does not matter whether the great preacher like Paul has come or not.


Phil. 1:28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.

YLT: “and not terrified in anything by those opposing, which to them indeed is a token of destruction, and to you of salvation, and that from God;”

Meaning of Words: “proof”: evidence, sign; “perdition”: destruction, ruin;

Literal Meaning:adversaries”: all those who oppose against the church and the gospel;

  “Terrified”, it in the original is used to describe a frightened horse whose terror cannot be controlled himself;

  “A proof of perdition”, the conduct shows that they have refused the only way to salvation;

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The gospel work throughout the past generations has been hardly not been terrified by the adversaries.

2)    If believers are terrified or persecuted for the sake of the gospel, it proves that we have been saved, for if we are still of the world, the world must love its own.

3)    If Christians are persecuted for the sake of the faith, it is a proof of salvation.


Phil. 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

YLT: “because to you it was granted, on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also on behalf of him to suffer;”

Meaning of Words: “be granted”: be give grace;

Literal Meaning: the grace that believers have received from God is like a proof of approval, which is an additional privilege that enables them to believe Christ and suffer for His sake.

  “Suffer for His sake”, it may not be persecution or martyrdom, but sacrifices in life.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Man’s opinion is: prosperity or profit is favor, depression or loss is not grace. However, it is not the concept of the Bible.

2)    The concept of physical safety and material benefits makes many people lose the power of victory.

3)    That Believers suffer for the Lord is not only in line with the will of God (Acts 14:22; 1Thess. 3:3) but also out of God’s grace and privilege (Heb. 12:5-11).

4)    We Christians shall not only trust in Christ but also suffer for Him in our life.

5)    To be sure, we need to pay the price to bear witness to the gospel of Christ. Though we have to pay the cost, it is joyful.


Phil. 1:30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.

YLT: “the same conflict having, such as ye saw in me, and now hear of in me.”

Meaning of Words: “conflict”: struggle, fight, contention;

Literal Meaning: “conflict”: it is in the original used to describe the fight in the amphitheater. Here it refers to struggling with those who persecute the gospel.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    “A good example is the best sermon”. Paul sets him as an example in spiritual war. Therefore, his teaching has really spiritual power.

2)    “Believers have sharp eyes”. The great effect of the Lord’s workers to believers does not lie in the message they preach, but their conducts.

3)    The preachment of the gospel is a kind of war. Therefore, we should not regard as light matter but shall spare no effect.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


Christ and Believers

A.   The relation of believers with Christ ---- the bondservant (v.1);

B.   The position of believers in Christ ---- the saints (v.1);

C.   The blessing of believers received in Christ ---- grace and peace (v.2);


Grace and Peace (v.2)

A.   The interrelationship ---- grace is first and then peace; where there is grace, there is peace;

B.   The origin ---- from God our Father;

C.   The medium ---- through the Lord Jesus Christ;

D.   The object ---- to you (all the saints);


Reasons for Thanks to God

A.   For He has heard our prayer (v.3-4);

B.   For He makes all the saints have fellowship in the gospel (v.5);

C.   For He has begun a good work and will complete it (v.6);

D.   For He makes us partakers of grace (v.7);


The Manifestations of Being in the Bowel of the Lord

A.   Remember the church with earnest (v.3-11);

B.   Not fear affliction but for Christ only (v.12-14);

C.   Not focus on disputes of men but on the preachment of Christ (v.15-18);

D.   Desire Christ to be magnified, whether by life or by death (v.19-23);

E.   Live in order to profit the church (v.24-26);

F.    Let one’s conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ (v.27-30);


The Items of Prayers for all the Saints

A.   Love may abound still more and more (v.9);

B.   Approve the things that are excellent (v.9a-10a);

C.   Be sincere and without offense (v.10);

D.   Being filled with the fruits of righteousness (v.11);

E.   To the glory and praise of God (v.11);


The Advantages of the Balanced Increase of Love

A.   To one’s self: approve the things that are excellent (v.10);

B.   To others: be sincere and without offense (v.10);

C.   To God: to the glory and praise of God (v.11);


Reasons for Paul’s Joy in Chains

A.   The church in Philippi partook his gospel works in his chains (v.7);

B.   It has become evident to unbelievers that his chains are in Christ (v.12-13);

C.   Most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by his chains, are much more bold to speak the word (v.14);

D.   Some preach Christ in order to add affliction to my chains, but Christ is preached (v.15-18);


Paul’s Eyes

A.   Look back (v.12);

B.   Look around (v.18);

C.   Look ahead (v.19);

D.   Look upward (v.21);

E.   Look inward (v.22-24);


How to Overcome the Affliction (v.19)

A.   Prayer of the saints;

B.   The supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ;


The Attitudes that Believer Should Have Towards Life and Death

A.   Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death (v.20);

B.   To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (v.21);

C.   I live on in the flesh in order to fulfill the work of the gospel (v.22);

D.   To Paul himself, he has a desire to depart and be with Christ (v.23);

E.   To remain in the flesh is more needful for believers (v.24);


How Does the Church Preach the Gospel?

A.   Let our conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ (v.27);

B.   In one spirit(v.27);

C.   Stand fast(v.27);

D.   With one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel(v.27);

E.   Not in any way terrified by the adversaries (v.28);

F.    Have the mind of suffering for the Lord’s sake (v.29);

G.   Struggle for the gospel (v.30);


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Mary Zhou