Philippians Chapter One
The affection of the Philippians, which expressed itself by sending help to the apostle, reminded him of the spirit they had always shewn; they had cordially associated themselves with the labours and trials of the gospel. And this thought leads the apostle higher, to that which governs the current of thought (most precious to us) in the epistle. Who had wrought in the Philippians this spirit of love and of devotedness to the interests of the gospel? Truly it was the God of the glad tidings and of love; and this was a security that He who had begun the good work would fulfil it unto the day of Christ. Sweet thought!-now that we have no longer the apostle, that we have no longer bishops and deacons, as the Philippians had in those days. God cannot be taken from us; the true and living source of all blessing remains to us, unchangeable, and above the infirmities, and even the faults, which deprive Christians of all intermediate resources. The apostle had seen God acting in the Philippians. The fruits bore witness of the source. Hence he counted on the perpetuity of the blessing they were to enjoy.  But there must be faith in order to draw these conclusions. Christian love is clear-sighted and full of trust with regard to its objects, because God Himself, and the energy of His grace, are in that love.
To return to the principle-it is the same thing with the assembly of God. It may indeed lose much, as to outward means, and as to those manifestations of the presence of God, which are connected with man's responsibility; but the essential grace of God cannot be lost. Faith can always count upon it. It was the fruits of grace which gave the apostle this confidence, as in Hebrews 6:9, 10; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 4. He counted indeed, in 1 Corinthians 1:8, and in Galatians, on the faithfulness of Christ in spite of many painful things. The faithfulness of the Lord encouraged him with regard to Christians, whose condition in other respects was the cause of great anxiety. But here-surely a much happier case-the walk itself of the Christian led him to the source of confidence about them. He remembered with affection and tenderness the way in which they had always acted towards him, and he turned it into a desire for them that the God who had wrought it would produce for their own blessing the perfect and abundant fruits of that love.
He opens his own heart also to them. They took part, by the same grace acting in them, in the work of God's grace in him, and that with an affection that identified itself with him and his work; and his heart turned to them with an abundant return of affection and desire. God, who created these feelings, and to whom he presented all that passed in his heart, this same God who acted in the Philippians, was a witness between them (now that Paul could give no other by his labour among them) of his earnest desire for them all. He felt their love, but he desired moreover, that this love should be not only cordial and active, but that it should be guided also by wisdom and understanding from God, by a godly discernment of good and evil, wrought by the power of His Spirit; so that, while acting in love, they should also walk according to that wisdom, and should understand that which, in this world of darkness, was truly according to divine light and perfection, so that they should be without reproach until the day of Christ. How different from the cold avoidance of positive sin with which many Christians content themselves! The earnest desire of every excellence and likeness to Christ which divine light can shew them is that which marks the life of Christ in us.
Now the fruits produced were already a sign that God was with them; and He would fulfil the work unto the end. But the apostle desired that they should walk throughout the whole of the way according to the light that God had given, so that when they came to the end there should be nothing with which they could be reproached: but that, on the contrary, set free from all that might weaken or lead them astray, they should abound in the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. A fine practical picture of the Christian's normal condition in his daily work towards the end; for, in the Philippians, we are always on the way towards our heavenly rest in which redemption has set us.
Such is the introduction to this epistle. After this expression of the wishes of his heart for them, reckoning on their affection, he speaks of his bonds, which they had remembered; but he does so in connection with Christ and the gospel, which he had most of all at heart. But, before I go beyond the introduction into the matter of the epistle, I would notice the thoughts which lie at the foundation of the sentiments expressed in it.
There are three great elements which stamp their character on it.
Firstly, it speaks of the Christian's pilgrimage in the wilderness; salvation is viewed as a result to be obtained at the end of the journey. Redemption accomplished by Christ is indeed established as the foundation of this pilgrimage (as was the case with Israel at their entrance into the wilderness), but the being presented risen and in glory before God, when victorious over every difficulty, is the subject in this epistle, and is that which is here called salvation.
In the second place, the position is characterised by the apostle's absence, the assembly having therefore itself to maintain the conflict. It had to overcome, instead of enjoying the victory gained over the enemy's power by the apostle when he was with them and could make himself weak with all who were weak.
And, thirdly, the important truth, already mentioned, is set forth, that the assembly, in these circumstances, was cast more immediately on God-the inexhaustible source for it of grace and strength, of which it was to avail itself in an immediate way by faith-a resource which could never fail it.  I resume the consideration of the text with verse 12, which begins the epistle after the introductory portion. Paul was a prisoner at Rome. The enemy appeared to have gained a great victory in thus restraining his activity; but by the power of God, who orders all things and who acted in the apostle, even the devices of the adversary were turned to the furtherance of the gospel. In the first place, the imprisonment of the apostle made the gospel known, where it would not otherwise have been preached, in high places at Rome; and many other brethren, reassured as to the apostle's position,  became more bold to preach the gospel without fear. But there was another way in which this absence of the apostle had an effect. Many-who, in the presence of his power and his gifts, were necessarily powerless and insignificant persons-could make themselves of some importance, when, in the unsearchable but perfect ways of God, this mighty instrument of His grace was set aside. They could hope to shine and attract attention when the rays of this resplendent light were intercepted by the walls of a prison. Jealous but hidden when he was present, they availed themselves of his absence to bestir themselves; whether false brethren or jealous Christians, they sought in his absence to impair his authority in the assembly, and his happiness. They only added to both. God was with His servant; and, instead of the self-seeking which instigated these sorry preachers of the truth, there was found in Paul the pure desire for the proclamation of the good news of Christ, the whole value of which he deeply felt, and which he desired above all, be it in what way it might.
Already the apostle finds his resource for his own case, in God's operating independently of the spiritual order of His house with regard to the means that He uses. The normal condition of the assembly is that the Spirit of God acts in the members of the body, each one in its place, for the manifestation of the unity of the body and of the reciprocal energy of its members. Christ, having overcome Satan, fills with His own Spirit those whom He has delivered out of the hand of that enemy, in order that they may exhibit at the same time the power of God and the truth of their deliverance from the power of the enemy, and exhibit them in a walk, which, being an expression of the mind and energy of God Himself, leaves no room for those of the enemy. They constituted the army and the testimony of God in this world against the enemy. But then, each member, from an apostle down to the weakest, acts efficaciously in his own place. The power of Satan is excluded. The exterior answers to the interior, and to the work of Christ. He who is in them is greater than he who is in the world. But everywhere power is needed for this, and the single eye. There is another state of things, in which, although all is not in activity in its place, according to the measure of the gift of Christ, yet the restoring energy of the Spirit in an instrument like the apostle defends the assembly, or brings it back into its normal condition, when it has partially failed. The epistle to the Ephesians, on the one side, and those to the Corinthians and Galatians, on the other, present these two phases of the history of the assembly.
The epistle to the Philippians treats-but with the pen of a divinely inspired apostle-of a state of things in which this last resource was wanting. The apostle could not labour now in the same manner as before, but he could give us the Spirit's view of the state of the assembly, when, according to the wisdom of God, it was deprived of these normal energies. It could not be deprived of God. Doubtless the assembly had not then departed so far from its normal condition as it has now done, but the evil was already springing up. All seek their own, says the apostle, not the things of Jesus Christ; and God allowed it to be so during the life of the apostles, in order that we might have the revelation of His thoughts respecting it, and that we might be directed to the true resources of His grace in these circumstances.
Paul himself had to experience this truth in the first place. The bonds that united him to the assembly and to the work of the gospel were the strongest that exist on earth; but he was obliged to resign the gospel and the assembly to the God to whom they belonged. This was painful; but its effect was to perfect obedience, trust, singleness of eye, and self-renunciation, in the heart, that is, to perfect them according to the measure of the operation of faith. Nevertheless the pain caused by such an effort betrays the inability of man to maintain the work of God at its own height. But all this happens in order that God may have the whole glory of the work; and it is needed, in order that the creature may be manifested in every respect according to the truth. And it is most blessed to see how, both here and in 2 Timothy, the decay of individual life and ecclesiastical energy brings out a fuller development of personal grace on one hand and ministerial energy on the other, where there is faith, than is found anywhere else. Indeed it is always so. The Moseses, and Davids, and Elijahs are found in the time of the Pharaohs, and Sauls, and Ahabs.
The apostle could do nothing: he had to see the gospel preached without him-by some through envy and in a spirit of contention, by others through love; encouraged as regards the apostle's bonds, these desired to alleviate them by continuing his work. Every way Christ was preached, and the apostle's mind rose above the motives which animated the preachers in the contemplation of the immense fact, that a Saviour, the deliverer sent of God, was preached to the world. Christ, and even souls were more precious to Paul than the work's being carried on by himself. God was carrying it on; and therefore it would be for the triumph of Paul, who linked himself with the purposes of God.  He understood the great conflict which was going on between Christ (in his members) and the enemy; and if the latter appeared to have gained a victory by putting Paul in prison, God was using this event for the advancement of the work of Christ by the gospel, and thus in reality for the gaining of fresh victories over Satan-victories with which Paul was associated, since he was set for the defence of that gospel. Therefore all this turned to his salvation, his faith being confirmed by these ways of a faithful God, who directed the eyes of His faithful servant more entirely upon Himself. Sustained by the prayers of others and by the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, instead of being cast down and terrified by the enemy, he gloried more and more in the sure victory of Christ in which he shared. Accordingly he expresses his unchangeable conviction, that in nothing should he be made ashamed, but that it would be given him to use all boldness, and that Christ would be glorified in him, whether by his life or his death; and he had death before his eyes. Called to appear before Caesar, his life might be taken from him by the emperor's judgment; humanly speaking the issue was quite uncertain. He alludes to this, chapter 1:22, 30; 2:17; 3:10. But, living or dying, his eye was now more fixed on Christ than even on the work, high placed as that work might have been in the mind of one whose life could be expressed in this one word-"Christ." To live was for him-not the work in itself, nor only that the faithful should stand fast in the gospel, although this could not be separated from the thought of Christ, because they were members of His body-Christ; to die was gain, for he should be with Christ.
Such was the purifying effect of the ways of God, who had made him pass through the ordeal, so terrible to him, of being separated for years, perhaps four, from his work for the Lord. The Lord Himself had taken the place of the work-so far at least as it was connected with Paul individually; and the work was committed to the Lord Himself. Possibly the fact that he was so engrossed with the work had contributed to that which led to his imprisonment; for the thought of Christ alone keeps the soul in equilibrium, and gives everything its right place. God caused this imprisonment to be the means through which Christ became his all. Not that he lost his interest in the work, but that Christ alone held the first place; and he saw everything, and even the work, in Christ.
What consolation it is, when we are perhaps conscious that our weakness has been manifested, and that we have failed in acting according to the power of God, to feel that He, who alone has a right to be glorified, never fails!
Now, since Christ was everything to Paul, it was evident gain to die, for he would be with Him. Nevertheless it was worth while to live (for this is the force of the first part of verse 21), because it was Christ and His service; and he did not know which to choose. Dying, he gained Christ for himself: it was far better. Living, he served Christ; he had more, as to the work, since to live was Christ, and death of course would put a stop to that. Thus he was in a strait between the two. But he had learnt to forget himself in Christ; and he saw Christ entirely occupied with the assembly according to His perfect wisdom. And this decided the question; for being thus taught of God, and not knowing for himself which to choose, Paul lost sight of himself, and thought only of the need of the assembly according to the mind of Christ. It was good for the assembly that he should remain-for one assembly even: thus he should remain. And see what peace this looking to Jesus, which destroyed selfishness in the work, gives to the servant of God. After all, Christ has all power in heaven and earth, and He orders all things according to His will. Thus when His will is known-and His will is love for the assembly-one can say that it will be done. Paul decides as to his own fate, without troubling himself as to either what the emperor would do, or the circumstances of the time. Christ loved the assembly. It was good for the assembly that Paul should remain; Paul shall then remain. How entirely Christ is everything here! What light, what rest, from a single eye, from a heart versed in the Lord's love! How blessed to see self so totally gone, and Christ's love to the assembly seen thus to be the ground on which all is ordered!
Now if Christ is all this for Paul and for the assembly, Paul desires that the assembly should be that which it ought to be for Christ, and thereby for his own heart to which Christ was everything. To the assembly therefore the apostle's heart turns. The joy of the Philippians would be abundant through his return to them; only let their conduct, whether he came or not, be worthy of the gospel of Christ. Two thoughts possessed his mind, whether he should see them or hear tidings of them, that they might have constancy and firmness in unity of heart and mind among themselves; and be devoid of fear with regard to the enemy, in the conflict they had to maintain against him, with the strength that this unity would give them. This is the testimony of the presence and operation of the Spirit in the assembly, when the apostle is absent. He keeps Christians together by His presence; they have but one heart and one object. They act in common by the Spirit. And, since God is there, the fear with which the evil spirit and their enemies might inspire them (and it is what he ever seeks to do; compare 1 Peter 5:8) is not there. They walk in the spirit of love and power and of a sound mind. Their condition is thus an evident testimony of salvation-entire and final deliverance-since in their warfare with the enemy they feel no fear, the presence of God inspiring them with other thoughts. With regard to their adversaries, the discovery of the impotence of all their efforts produces the sense of the insufficiency of their resources. Although they had the whole power of the world and of its prince, they had met with a power superior to their own-the power of God, and they were its adversaries. A terrible conviction on the one side; profound joy on the other, where not only there was thus the assurance of deliverance and salvation, but they were proved to be salvation and deliverance from the hand of God Himself. Thus, that the assembly should be in conflict, and the apostle absent (himself wrestling with all the power of the enemy), was a gift. Joyful thought! unto them it was given to suffer for Christ, as well as to believe in Him. They had a further and a precious portion in suffering with Christ, and even for Christ; and communion with His faithful servant in suffering for His sake united them more closely in Him.
Note, here, how thus far we have the testimony of the Spirit to a life above the flesh, not of it. In nothing he had been ashamed, and fully trusted he never should be, but Christ magnified in his body, were his lot life or death, as He ever had been. He does not know whether to choose life or death, both were so blessed; to live, Christ; to die, gain, though then labour was over; such confidence in Christ's love to the assembly that he decides his case before Nero by what that love would produce. Envy and strife against himself leading some to preach Christ would only turn to victorious results for himself: he was content if Christ was preached. The superiority to the flesh, living above it so completely, was not that it was not there or its nature changed. He had, as we learn elsewhere, a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him. But it is a glorious testimony to the power and working of the Spirit of God.
 Read in verse 7 as in the margin, "because ye have me in your hearts."
 We shall find the whole tenor of a life which was the expression of the power of the Spirit of God brought out in it. It marks this, that sin, or the flesh as working evilly in us, is not mentioned in the epistle. It gives the forms and features of the life of Christ; for if we live in the Spirit, we should walk in the Spirit. We shall find the graciousness of christian life (chap. 2), the energy of christian life (chap. 3), and its superiority to all circumstances (chap. 4). The first more opens the apostle's heart as to his actual circumstances and feelings, as was natural. Exhortation begins with chapter 2. Still even in chapter 1 we find the apostle entirely superior to circumstances in the power of spiritual life.
 In the first edition I had taken this as the effect of the apostle's imprisonment in arousing the faith of those inactive when he was active. And this would be the sense of the English translation and is a true principle. But it seems that the force of the words is "rather got confidence as to my bonds." They were in danger of being ashamed of him, as if he were a malefactor.
 There is blessed faith in this. But then a man must have made the work his life. "To me to live is Christ." If so, if the work prospers, he prospers; if Christ is glorified, he is content, even if the Lord has laid him aside.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Philippians》
The apostle offers up thanksgivings and prayers, for the good work of grace in the Philippians. (1-7) He expresses affection, and prays for them. (8-11) Fortifies them against being cast down at his sufferings. (12-20) He stood prepared for glorifying Christ by life, or death. (21-26) Exhortations to zeal, and constancy in professing the gospel. (27-30)
Commentary on Philippians 1:1-7
(Read Philippians 1:1-7)
The highest honour of the most eminent ministers is, to be servants of Christ. And those who are not really saints on earth, never will be saints in heaven. Out of Christ, the best saints are sinners, and unable to stand before God. There is no peace without grace. Inward peace springs from a sense of Divine favour. And there is no grace and peace but from God our Father, the fountain and origin of all blessings. At Philippi the apostle was evil entreated, and saw little fruit of his labour; yet he remembers Philippi with joy. We must thank our God for the graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others, as we receive the benefit, and God receives the glory. The work of grace will never be perfected till the day of Jesus Christ, the day of his appearance. But we may always be confident God will perform his good work, in every soul wherein he has really begun it by regeneration; though we must not trust in outward appearances, nor in any thing but a new creation to holiness. People are dear to their ministers, when they receive benefit by their ministry. Fellow-sufferers in the cause of God should be dear one to another.
Commentary on Philippians 1:8-11
(Read Philippians 1:8-11)
Shall not we pity and love those souls whom Christ loves and pities? Those who abound in any grace, need to abound more. Try things which differ; that we may approve the things which are excellent. The truths and laws of Christ are excellent; and they recommend themselves as such to any attentive mind. Sincerity is that in which we should have our conversation in the world, and it is the glory of all our graces. Christians should not be apt to take offence, and should be very careful not to offend God or the brethren. The things which most honour God will most benefit us. Let us not leave it doubtful whether any good fruit is found in us or not. A small measure of Christian love, knowledge, and fruitfulness should not satisfy any.
Commentary on Philippians 1:12-20
(Read Philippians 1:12-20)
The apostle was a prisoner at Rome; and to take off the offence of the cross, he shows the wisdom and goodness of God in his sufferings. These things made him known, where he would never have otherwise been known; and led some to inquire after the gospel. He suffered from false friends, as well as from enemies. How wretched the temper of those who preached Christ out of envy and contention, and to add affliction to the bonds that oppressed this best of men! The apostle was easy in the midst of all. Since our troubles may tend to the good of many, we ought to rejoice. Whatever turns to our salvation, is by the Spirit of Christ; and prayer is the appointed means of seeking for it. Our earnest expectation and hope should not be to be honoured of men, or to escape the cross, but to be upheld amidst temptation, contempt, and affliction. Let us leave it to Christ, which way he will make us serviceable to his glory, whether by labour or suffering, by diligence or patience, by living to his honour in working for him, or dying to his honour in suffering for him.
Commentary on Philippians 1:21-26
(Read Philippians 1:21-26)
Death is a great loss to a carnal, worldly man, for he loses all his earthly comforts and all his hopes; but to a true believer it is gain, for it is the end of all his weakness and misery. It delivers him from all the evils of life, and brings him to possess the chief good. The apostle's difficulty was not between living in this world and living in heaven; between these two there is no comparison; but between serving Christ in this world and enjoying him in another. Not between two evil things, but between two good things; living to Christ and being with him. See the power of faith and of Divine grace; it can make us willing to die. In this world we are compassed with sin; but when with Christ, we shall escape sin and temptation, sorrow and death, for ever. But those who have most reason to desire to depart, should be willing to remain in the world as long as God has any work for them to do. And the more unexpected mercies are before they come, the more of God will be seen in them.
Commentary on Philippians 1:27-30
(Read Philippians 1:27-30)
Those who profess the gospel of Christ, should live as becomes those who believe gospel truths, submit to gospel laws, and depend upon gospel promises. The original word "conversation" denotes the conduct of citizens who seek the credit, safety, peace, and prosperity of their city. There is that in the faith of the gospel, which is worth striving for; there is much opposition, and there is need of striving. A man may sleep and go to hell; but he who would go to heaven, must look about him and be diligent. There may be oneness of heart and affection among Christians, where there is diversity of judgment about many things. Faith is God's gift on the behalf of Christ; the ability and disposition to believe are from God. And if we suffer reproach and loss for Christ, we are to reckon them a gift, and prize them accordingly. Yet salvation must not be ascribed to bodily afflictions, as though afflictions and worldly persecutions deserved it; but from God only is salvation: faith and patience are his gifts.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Philippians》
 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Servants — St. Paul, writing familiarly to the Philippians, does not style himself an apostle. And under the common title of servants, he tenderly and modestly joins with himself his son Timotheus, who had come to Philippi not long after St. Paul had received him, Acts 16:3,12.
To all the saints — The apostolic epistles were sent more directly to the churches, than to the pastors of them.
With the bishops and deacons — The former properly took care of the internal state, the latter, of the externals, of the church, 1 Timothy 3:2-8; although these were not wholly confined to the one, neither those to the other. The word bishops here includes all the presbyters at Philippi, as well as the ruling presbyters: the names bishop and presbyter, or elder, being promiscuously used in the first ages.
 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
With joy — After the epistle to the Ephesians, wherein love reigns, follows this, wherein there is perpetual mention of joy. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy." And joy peculiarly enlivens prayer. The sum of the whole epistle is, I rejoice. Rejoice ye.
 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
The sense is, I thank God for your fellowship with us in all the blessings of the gospel, which I have done from the first day of your receiving it until now.
 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Being persuaded — The grounds of which persuasion are set down in the following verse.
That he who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it until the day of Christ — That he who having justified, hath begun to sanctify you, will carry on this work, till it issue in glory.
 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
As it is right for me to think this of you all — Why? He does not say, "Because of an eternal decree;" or, "Because a saint must persevere;" but, because I have you in my heart, who were all partakers of my grace - That is, because ye were all (for which I have you in my heart, I bear you the most grateful and tender affection) partakers of my grace - That is, sharers in the afflictions which God vouchsafed me as a grace or favour, Philippians 1:29,30; both in my bonds, and when I was called forth to answer for myself, and to confirm the gospel. It is not improbable that, after they had endured that great trial of affliction, God had sealed them unto full victory, of which the apostle had a prophetic sight.
 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
I long for you with the bowels of Jesus Christ — In Paul, not Paul lives, but Jesus Christ. Therefore he longs for them with the bowels, the tenderness, not of Paul, but of Jesus Christ.
 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
And this I pray, that your love — Which they had already shown.
May abound yet more and more — The fire which burned in the apostle never says, It is enough.
In knowledge and in all spiritual sense — Which is the ground of all spiritual knowledge. We must be inwardly sensible of divine peace, joy, love; otherwise, we cannot know what they are.
 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
That ye may try — By that spiritual sense.
The things that are excellent — Not only good, but the very best; the superior excellence of which is hardly discerned, but by the adult Christian. That ye may be inwardly sincere - Having a single eye to the very best things, and a pure heart. And outwardly without offence - Holy, unblamable in all things.
 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God — Here are three properties of that sincerity which is acceptable to God: 1. It must bear fruits, the fruits of righteousness, all inward and outward holiness, all good tempers, words, and works; and that so abundantly, that we may be filled with them. 2. The branch and the fruits must derive both their virtue and their very being from the all - supporting, all - supplying root, Jesus Christ. 3. As all these flow from the grace of Christ, so they must issue in the glory and praise of God.
 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
The things concerning me — My sufferings. Have fallen out rather to the furtherance, than, as you feared, the hinderance, of the gospel.
 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
My bonds in Christ — Endured for his sake.
Have been made manifest — Much taken notice of.
In the whole palace — Of the Roman emperor.
 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
And many — Who were before afraid.
Trusting in the Lord through my bonds — When they observed my constancy, and safety not withstanding, are more bold.
 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:
Some indeed preach Christ out of contention — Envying St. Paul's success, and striving to hurt him thereby.
Not sincerely — From a real desire to glorify God.
But supposing — Though they were disappointed. To add more affliction to my bonds - By enraging the Romans against me.
 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
But the others out of love — To Christ and me.
Knowing — Not barely, supposing.
That I am set — Literally, I lie; yet still going forward in his work. He remained at Rome as an ambassador in a place where he is employed on an important embassy.
 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
In pretence — Under colour of propagating the gospel.
In truth — With a real design so to do.
 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
This shall turn to my salvation — Shall procure me an higher degree of glory.
Through your prayer — Obtaining for me a larger supply of the Spirit.
 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.
As always — Since my call to the apostleship.
In my body — however it may he disposed of. How that might be, he did not yet know. For the apostles did not know all things; particularly in things pertaining to themselves, they had room to exercise faith and patience.
 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
To me to live is Christ — To know, to love, to follow Christ, is my life, my glory, my joy.
 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
Here he begins to treat of the former clause of the preceding verse. Of the latter he treats, Philippians 2:17.
But if I am to live is the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour — This is the fruit of my living longer, that I can labour more. Glorious labour! desirable fruit! in this view, long life is indeed a blessing.
And what I should choose I know not — That is, if it were left to my choice.
 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
To depart — Out of bonds, flesh, the world.
And to be with Christ — In a nearer and fuller union. It is better to depart; it is far better to be with Christ.
 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
I know — By a prophetic notice given him while he was writing this. That I shall continue some time longer with you - And doubtless he did see them after this confinement.
 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;
Only — Be careful for this, and nothing else.
Stand fast in one spirit — With the most perfect unanimity.
Striving together — With united strength and endeavours.
For the faith of the gospel — For all the blessings revealed and promised therein.
 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.
Which — Namely, their being adversaries to the word of God, and to you the messengers of God.
Is an evident token — That they are in the high road to perdition; and you, in the way of salvation.
 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
For to you it is given — As a special token of God's love, and of your being in the way of salvation.
 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Having the same kind of conflict with your adversaries, which ye saw in me - When I was with you, Acts 16:12,19, etc.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Philippians》
Chapter 1. The Life of Believers
Advance the Gospel
I. Pray for Abundant Love
II. Christ Always Be Exalted
III. Live a Life Worthy of the Gospel
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Chapter One General Review
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER
1) To appreciate why the Philippians were a source of great joy to Paul
2) To learn from Paul's attitude concerning persecution, death, and the
purpose of life
Paul begins his epistle with his customary salutation followed by an
expression of thanksgiving and prayer. The church at
a source of great joy to Paul by virtue of their fellowship with him in
the proclamation of the gospel. Confident that God will complete the
work He began in them, Paul prays that their spiritual growth will
His circumstances at
have actually been for the furtherance of the Rome
gospel, despite imprisonment and opposition by false brethren. He is
confident that everything will turn out alright, and that he will even
come to them again. It is not without mixed feelings, however, for he
is torn between a desire to be with Christ and a realization that to
remain in the flesh is more needful for them (12-26).
At the moment, his desire is that whether absent or present he may hear
they are conducting themselves worthy of the gospel, by standing fast
in one spirit and one mind for the gospel and not disturbed by any
adversaries. They should take comfort in knowing that, like Paul, they
have been granted the honor not only to believe in Christ, but also to
suffer for His sake (27-30).
I. INTRODUCTION (1-11)
A. SALUTATION (1-2)
1. From Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ (
2. To the saints in Christ Jesus who in
Philippi, with the
bishops and deacons (1b)
3. Grace and peace from God and Jesus Christ (2)
B. PAUL'S THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER (3-11)
1. His thanksgiving for them (3-8)
a. That every thought, every request in their behalf, is one
of joy (3-4)
b. For their fellowship in the gospel from the very first day
c. He is confident that God will complete the work begun in
them, for they have shared with him in his chains and the
proclamation of the gospel (6-7)
d. God is his witness to how much he longs for them with the
love of Jesus (8)
2. His prayer for them (9-11)
a. That their love abound in knowledge and all discernment (9)
b. That they approve the things that are excellent (
c. That they be sincere and without offense till Christ
d. That they be filled with the fruits of righteousness (11)
1) Made possible by Jesus Christ (
2) To the glory and praise of God (11b)
II. THE SITUATION IN
A. PAUL'S IMPRISONMENT AND OPPOSITION (12-18)
1. Imprisonment has actually created opportunities to spread the
a. Things have turned out to the furtherance of the gospel,
for even among the palace guard it is evident his chains
are in Christ (12-13)
b. His example has emboldened others to speak without fear
2. Even opposition has provided opportunity for Christ to be
a. While some preach Christ out of love and good will, others
do so with envy and strife, hoping to make things harder
for Paul (15-17)
b. Yet Paul rejoices that in every way Christ is preached (18)
B. PAUL'S EXPECTATION OF DELIVERANCE (19-26)
1. He knows all will turn out well for his salvation (19-20)
a. Through their prayers and the help of the Holy Spirit (19)
b. He is confident that no matter what happens, Christ will be
2. Whether he lives or dies, it will be a blessing (21-23)
a. To live is Christ, to die is gain (21)
b. To live will mean fruitful labor, but to depart and be with
Christ will be far better for him personally (22-23)
3. Knowing their need of him at the present, he is confident of
coming to them once again (24-26)
III. EXHORTATION TO STAND FAST (27-30)
A. STRIVE TOGETHER FOR THE FAITH OF THE GOSPEL (27)
1. He pleads that their conduct be worthy of the gospel (
2. So that whether present or absent, he may hear that they are
standing fast in one spirit, united in their efforts for the
faith of the gospel (27b)
B. DO NOT BE TERRIFIED BY YOUR ADVERSARIES (28-30)
1. For such confidence is not a sign of perdition, but of
salvation from God (28)
2. They have been granted not only to believe in Jesus, but also
to suffer for Him even as he does (29-30)
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
- Introduction (1-11)
- The situation in
- Exhortation to stand fast (27-30)
2) Who joins Paul in addressing this epistle? To whom is it sent? (1)
- The saints in Christ Jesus in
Philippi, with the bishops and
3) For what is Paul thankful concerning the Philippians? (5)
- For their fellowship in the gospel
4) What is Paul confident of concerning the Philippians? (6)
- That God will complete the work begun in them until the day of
5) Upon what basis did Paul have this confidence concerning the
- Their participiation with Paul in both his chains and in the
proclamation of the gospel
6) What four things did Paul pray for in behalf of the Philippians?
- That their love might abound in knowledge and discernment
- That they might approve the things that are excellent
- That they might be sincere and without offense till the day of
- That they might be filled with the fruits of righteousness which
are by Jesus Christ
7) What was the effect of Paul's imprisonment? (12)
- It actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel
8) What was Paul's attitude about those preaching Christ out of envy
and strife, trying to do him harm? (15-18)
- Christ was still being preached, and in that Paul rejoiced
9) What was Paul's earnest desire and expectation that he could do with
all boldness? (20)
- To magnify Christ in his body, whether by life or by death
10) What was Paul's attitude toward life and death? (21)
- To live is Christ, and to die is gain
11) Between what two things was Paul hard pressed? (23-24)
- A desire to depart and be with Christ
- A realization that to remain in the flesh was more needful for
12) What sort of conduct did Paul consider worthy of the gospel of
- Standing fast in one spirit, with one mind stringing together for
the faith of the gospel
13) What had been granted to the Philippians on behalf of Christ? (29)
- Not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake
Salutation To The Philippians (1:1-2)
1. In our previous lesson we introduced the book of Philippians as a book
that is very relevant to our times
2. As we actually begin our study of this epistle, we shall examine
Paul's salutation as found in the first two verses...
[First, we notice...]
I. THE "AUTHOR" OF THIS EPISTLE
A. IDENTIFIED AS "PAUL"...
1. This is the apostle Paul, of course
2. Who was once the "persecutor" - Ac 8:1,3
3. But is now the "persecuted"
a. For he is writing this while in Roman custody - Ph 1:12-14
b. During the time period mention in Ac 28:30
B. HE IS JOINED IN THE SALUTATION BY "TIMOTHY"...
1. A travelling companion who joined Paul during his second
journey - Ac 16:1-3
2. He was a young man, devoted to serving Paul, whom Paul loved as
a son - Ph 2:19-22
3. He later was the recipient of two other epistles by Paul (1 & 2
C. TOGETHER, THEY ARE DESCRIBED AS "SERVANTS"...
1. A title of humility, it denotes dependence, obedience, and
acknowledgment of ownership
2. Used in connection with Jesus Christ...
a. It is a word with real dignity
b. Indicates intense devotion to the Lord
[Having considered those responsible for this epistle, we next take a
look at those to whom it is addressed...]
II. THE "RECIPIENTS" OF THIS EPISTLE
A. IDENTIFIED AS "SAINTS IN CHRIST JESUS"...
1. The term "saint" was a common term by which ALL Christians were
called in the New Testament
a. Literally, it means "holy one" - cf. 1 Pe 2:9
b. The basic idea behind the word is that of "separation", for
the purpose of consecration
2. But note that they were called saints "in Christ Jesus"
a. It is in Him that we are set apart
b. Only by virtue by being in Him and having our sins forgiven
by His blood can we be called saints - cf. Re 1:5-6; 5:9-10
3. It is interesting to notice the contrast between "servants"
a. By using such terms, Paul immediately humbles himself and
exalts those to whom he is writing
b. Thereby practicing what he later preaches in regards to
humility - cf. Ph 2:3
B. IN PARTICULAR, THEY ARE THE SAINTS "WHO ARE IN
1. That is, the church in
2. The beginning of the church is found in Ac 16:9-15
a. Prompted by the "
b. Started with the conversion of
3. Its early growth is also found in Acts 16 (verses 16-40)
a. With the conversion of the Philippian jailor and his
b. With the church meeting in
's home Lydia
c. And with Luke staying at
Philippiafter Paul's departure
4. Several things may be said about the characteristics of the
a. It appears to be predominantly Gentile (lack of a synagogue
Philippiwould suggest this)
b. It appears to be predominantly female (implied by meeting in
's home and the reference to women in Ph 4:2) Lydia
c. They were very supportive in the preaching of the gospel
- Ph 4:15-16
d. They provided for needy saints in other areas - 2 Co 8:1-5
e. They cared for Paul in his distress - Ph 4:10,14
C. ALSO ADDRESSED WERE THE "BISHOPS AND DEACONS"...
1. In this verse, we see the organization of a local church as
a. It is made up of "saints" (the members)
b. It is overseen by "bishops"
c. It is served with the assistance of "deacons"
2. Concerning the "bishops" (translated "overseers" in some
a. These were men charged with guarding the flock and providing
b. They were also called "elders" (or "presbyters"), and
"pastors" (or "shepherds") - cf. Ac 20:17,28; 1 Pe 5:1-2
1) For they were older men
2) And they were to feed (or pastor) the flock under
c. According to the New Testament...
1) They had to meet certain qualifications before they were
appointed to serve as "elders-bishops-pastors" - 1 Ti 3:
1-7; Ti 1:5-9
2) There was always a plurality in the congregation, never
just one - cf. Ac 14:23; Ac 20:17; Ph 1:1
3. Concerning the "deacons"...
a. The term means "servants" or "ministers"
b. They also had to meet certain qualifications - 1 Ti 3:8-13
c. They served the needs of the congregation, under the
oversight of the bishops (elders-pastors)
[So the recipients of this epistle was a well-established congregation,
one that had demonstrated their love and support for the apostle Paul.
Finally, we briefly notice the greetings given to them...]
III. THE "GREETINGS"
1. This was the common greeting of the Greeks
2. It speaks of wishing unmerited favor and kindness upon them
1. This was common greeting of the Jews ("Shalom!")
2. It speaks of the result of receiving favor and kindness
C. "FROM GOD OUR FATHER AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST"...
1. This is the source of grace and peace which Paul desires the
Philippians to receive
2. For when one has received unmerited favor and kindness from God
through His Son Jesus Christ, one truly receives peace:
a. Peace with God - Ro 5:1
b. Peace with men - Pro 16:7
c. Peace with one's self - Ph 4:6-7
1. At this point, we can see that this epistle is a personal letter
a. A man in chains who is accompanied with a dear friend
b. And a congregation of holy people whose love for this man has
been demonstrated on several occasions
2. In the next lesson, we shall examine the "joyful thanksgiving" on the
part of Paul for the fellowship he has enjoyed with the church at
In the meantime, are you experiencing the grace and peace that comes only
from "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"...?
Paul's Thanksgiving For The Philippians (1:3-8)
1. In the last study we examined the salutation of Paul and Timothy to
the brethren at
2. As is quite common in Paul's epistles, an expression of thanksgiving
follows the salutation
3. In this epistle to the Philippians, we find Paul's thanksgiving in
verses 3-8, where we begin to look into "the window of Paul's own
[As we examine this passage, three things stand out, the first being
that Paul is...]
I.THANKFUL FOR THEIR FELLOWSHIP (3-5)
A. THE MEMORIES OF THEIR FELLOWSHIP WAS A SOURCE OF GREAT JOY...
1. Every time he remembered them, it made him glad!
2. The memories were a source of frequent joy, because every
time he prayed, he included them
a. Here we get a glimpse into the prayer life of the apostle
b. It evidently included frequent prayers for those with whom he
had labored in the past - cf. Co 1:3; 1 Th 1:2
3. The joyful memories were the result of sharing together in the
work of the gospel
a. "From the first day..."
1) From the day that Lydia opened her home to him
2) As recorded in Ac 16:15
b. "...until now."
1) This would include the "giving and receiving" when he
first left Macedonia, and also in Thessalonica - Ph 4:
2) And now that he is in Rome, with the gift sent to him by
Epaphroditus - Ph 4:18
B. THIS ILLUSTRATES THE BLESSING OF "PLEASANT MEMORIES", AND THE
"FELLOWSHIP" THAT CREATES THEM...
1. Pleasant memories are a blessing in difficult times...
a. Despite imprisonment, Paul could pray with joyful
thanksgiving as he remembered the Philippians
b. As one person put it: "God gave us memory so that we might
have roses in December."
2. But memory can be a curse instead of a blessing!
a. If we have spent our lives in sin and have troubled those
around us, memory can be a curse!
b. As someone said: "Most people live the first half of their
life making the second half of their life miserable!"
c. For memories to be a blessing to us, we must be a blessing to
3. The sort of fellowship experienced between Paul and the
Philippians creates the most precious memories!
a. Fellowship in the gospel of Christ!
b. Sharing together in spreading the Word, either directly by
teaching or indirectly by supporting those who teach
[How comforting it must have been for Paul, though experiencing
imprisonment, to be able to look back upon his relationship with the
Philippians with such joyful memories!
What kind of memories are we creating today? It will affect the kind
of future we have!
As Paul continues his expression of thanksgiving, he writes that he
II. CONFIDENT GOD WILL COMPLETE HIS WORK IN THEM (6-7)
A. THE BASIS FOR SUCH CONFIDENCE...
1. Certainly it involves the faithfulness of God Himself, as
expressed throughout the Scriptures
a. E.g., in helping us to handle temptations - 1 Co 10:13
b. E.g., in providing forgiveness when we succumb to temptations
- 1 Jn 1:9
2. But Paul also took into consideration the faithfulness of the
a. They were willing to share in his chains - cf. Ph 2:29-30
b. They were willing to share in the defense and confirmation of
the gospel (through their support of Paul)
c. As such, they were sharing together in the grace of God!
B. THIS PASSAGE SHOULD REMIND US THAT WE ARE NOT ALONE IN OUR GROWTH
1. That God "began a good work" in our conversion, a work that
a. His providence, in giving us an opportunity to hear the
gospel - Ti 2:11
b. His regeneration, when we responded to the commands of the
gospel - Ti 3:4-7
2. As we continue to "work out our own salvation", God is right
there with us:
a. Certainly we must cooperate with God - Ph 2:12
b. But God is truly at work within us! - Ph 2:13
c. And He provides whatever help we need - Ph 4:13
3. This Divine Help will be with us "until the day of Jesus Christ"
a. The "Day" when Christ comes to be glorified - 2 Th 1:10
b. The same "Day" we will be glorified with Him, by virtue of
God's goodness and work in conjunction with our faith - 2 Th
[With such help as the basis of our confidence, as long as we are
faithful and partakers of God's grace, He will complete His work in us!
(but note carefully He 3:12-14).
Finally, we notice in this thanksgiving of Paul...]
III. HIS DEEP LONGING FOR THEM (8)
A. IN EXPRESSING THE DEPTH OF HIS AFFECTION FOR THEM...
1. He calls upon God as a witness!
a. He Who knows the hearts of all men
b. And certainly Who knows the heart of Paul!
2. He describes it as the "affection of Jesus Christ"!
a. I.e., the same sort of love Jesus has toward us
b. Even as Jesus commanded His disciples, to love one another as
He loved us - Jn 13:34
B. THIS SORT OF LOVE SHOULD CHARACTERIZE ALL DISCIPLES...
1. This is how the world will know that we are truly the disciples
of Jesus - Jn 13:35
2. Such love comes only by being taught by God - cf. 1 Th 4:9-10
3. And how does He teach us? Through the example of His Own Son!
- 1 Jn 3:16
1. How close Paul must have felt toward the brethren at Philippi!
2. And this is understandable, because it was the pleasant memories of
their fellowship in the gospel of Christ that gave Paul such joy and
confidence in the well-being of the Philippians
3. Note how all these things relate together:
a. Joy and confidence comes from pleasant memories
b. Pleasant memories come from fellowship in the gospel of Christ
4. If we lack the joy and confidence we desire, the key is to create
pleasant memories by sharing with other workers in the spread of the
a. Has God begun a good work in you? (via your obedience to the
b. Will He complete it until the day of Jesus Christ? (via your
faithful service to the Lord?)
Paul's Prayer For The Philippians (1:9-11)
1. True to the form found in several of his epistles, Paul follows his
salutation and thanksgiving with a prayer for his readers
2. Found in 1:9-11, we find in this prayer that Paul is concerned about
four things in the spiritual growth and development of the brethren at
[The first of these is...]
I. THAT THEIR LOVE MAY ABOUND (9)
A. "STILL MORE AND MORE"...
1. We have seen where they had excelled in their love toward Paul
and others in the past
a. Towards Paul - Ph 4:15-16
b. Towards the needy saints in Jerusalem - 2 Co 8:1-5
2. But a cardinal principle of Christian growth is that it should
a. In developing the graces of a Christ-like character, we
should always be increasing - cf. 2 Pe 1:5-8
b. Even if we are in no need for someone to teach us "how" to
love, we can always use the admonition to "increase" our
love! - e.g., 1 Th 4:9-10
3. And so, Paul prays that their love may abound "still more and
B. "IN KNOWLEDGE AND ALL DISCERNMENT"...
1. These are the "guidelines" in which their love was to abound
a. "in knowledge" - according to the right moral principles
(which comes from God's Word)
b. "all discernment" - using wisdom to apply these moral
principles most effectively (such wisdom comes from asking
for it in prayer - Ja 1:5; Pro 2:1-9)
2. Thus Paul's prayer is that their love may abound for the right
things and in the right way!
[If Paul felt such was necessary for the Philippians, how much more for
ourselves today! May we never be satisfied with the degree of love
that we may have, but strive to increase our knowledge and wisdom of
how to love others more abundantly.
As Paul continues, it is his prayer for the Philippians...]
II. THAT THEY MAY APPROVE THE THINGS THAT ARE EXCELLENT (
A. THE "PURPOSE" OF ABOUNDING IN LOVE STILL MORE AND MORE?
1. It is possible that Paul is being progressive in his thoughts
2. I.e., rather than just listing four equal but unrelated thoughts
in this prayer, each of the four are related and the last three
are but building on the thoughts which precede them (a form of
"stairlike" progressive parallelism common in Hebrew writings)
3. If such is the case, then Paul is now explaining "why" our love
B. "MAY APPROVE THE THINGS THAT ARE EXCELLENT"...
1. To "approve" is to "try, test, demonstrate"
2. This passage is reminiscent of Ro 12:2, where we learn that we
are to "prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will
3. Prove to whom?
a. To ourselves? Certainly...
b. But even more so, to prove to others that God's way is the
best way! - cf. 1 Pe 2:15
[Therefore, by abounding in love still more and more with all knowledge
and discernment, we are able to demonstrate by our "actions" that God's
way is the more excellent way!
But there is another reason, as we continue to see that Paul is
concerned for the Philippians...]
III. THAT THEY MAY BE SINCERE AND WITHOUT OFFENSE (10b)
A. DEFINING "SINCERE" AND "WITHOUT OFFENSE"...
1. "sincere" involves:
a. Having perfect openness toward God and man
b. With a clear conscience (not hypocritical)
2. "without offense" means not to provide occasions for others to
stumble - Ro 14:13
B. SUCH VIRTUES WILL BE FOUND IN THOSE WHO ARE...
1. Abounding in love still more and more, in knowledge and all
2. Approving the things that are excellent by their conduct!
-- See Paul's progression in thought?
C. PAUL'S CONCERN IS THAT THESE VIRTUES WILL LAST "TILL THE DAY OF
1. This is the second time in this epistle Paul has referred to
this "day" (cf. 1:6)
2. He is referring to the day when Christ comes again, a day of
"destruction" for some, but "glory" for others! - 2 Th
3. Perhaps Paul's concern that these virtues of being "sincere and
without offense" lasting till the day of Christ is based upon
what will happen to those in the kingdom who are guilty of such
things - cf. Mt 13:41-43
[Such a strong warning by Jesus Himself should encourage us to take the
thoughts of Paul very seriously!
Finally, we notice in Paul's prayer for the Philippians a concern for
IV. BEING FILLED WITH THE FRUITS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (11)
A. WHICH APPEAR TO BE THE RESULT OF...
1. Abounding in love still more and more in knowledge and all
2. Approving the things that are excellent
3. Being sincere and without offense
-- Notice again the "stairlike" progressive parallelism@!
B. SUCH FRUITS ARE POSSIBLE ONLY "BY JESUS CHRIST"...
1. For without Him, we would not know what true love really is!
- 1 Jn 3:16
2. For without Him, we would not have the ability to demonstrate
what is excellent - cf. Ph 4:13
C. SUCH FRUITS ARE TO BE OFFERED "TO THE GLORY AND PRAISE OF GOD"...
1. Just as Jesus said in letting our light shine - Mt 5:16
2. Just as Peter wrote in speaking of our good works - 1 Pe 2:12
3. And rightfully so, for it is God who through the gift of His Son
a. Shown us what love really is
b. Taught us what things are really excellent in His sight
c. Empowered us to be able to demonstrate the excellence of His
Will, that we may be sincere and without offense!
1. Such is Paul's prayer for the Philippians, for a church that had
demonstrated it's love and faithfulness to Paul again and again
2. Even as excellent as the church was, Paul could still pray for them to
abound still more and more!
3. How much more, then, should we! May we take the prayer of Paul, and
make it our own for ourselves and for brethren we know!
Making Good Out Of Ill (1:12-18)
1. As we continue our study, we should really begin to appreciate the
statement that "this epistle is like a window into the apostle's own
2. We have already seen Paul's FONDNESS for the saints at Philippi, as
expressed in his thanksgiving (1:3-8) and prayer (1:9-11)
3. In this lesson, we shall see Paul's JOY, despite circumstances which
would cause most people to be despondent
4. The title of this lesson is "Making Good Out Of Ill", for this is
what Paul did, as we find in our text (1:12-18)
[Notice first, that Paul was "Making Good Out Of Ill", even...]
I. IN IMPRISONMENT (12-14)
A. PAUL INFORMS THEM OF THE PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL (12)
1. The Philippians were aware of Paul's circumstances - cf. Ph 4:14
2. Yet he does not want them to be overly concerned
a. For he had "good news" - not bad news!
b. The "gospel" was still being spread!
3. Now, Paul could have looked at the bad side of his situation...
a. His own imprisonment
b. His restriction in travel
4. But Paul looked at life from the viewpoint of the gospel...
a. If the gospel was spreading, it was "good news"!
b. And his imprisonment was actually INCREASING the progress of
[How? Let's read on...]
B. THERE WERE SERMONS IN HIS CHAINS (13)
1. Being under "house arrest" (cf. Ac 28:30-31) constantly made
reference to the cause of Jesus Christ
a. He was not there for normal reasons (e.g., crimes)
b. So his situation naturally sparked interest and discussion
2. In this way, the message of the gospel was being made known to
"the whole palace guard"
a. Most likely the emperor's own guards, who were put in charge
of special prisoners awaiting their appeal before Caesar
b. Though allowed some freedom, Paul was still under constant
guard - cf. Ac 28:16
c. But these guards were also under the constant influence of
Paul and the gospel!
1) They could not help overhearing what Paul taught others!
- again cf. Ac 28:30-31
2) It is almost certain Paul would have tried to teach his
"captive audience" (those soldiers chained to him)
d. So it is possible that some of them were converted (for they
would be included of those "who are Caesar's household"
- cf. Ph 4:22)
3. The message was also being spread "to all the rest"
a. Perhaps by word of mouth
b. And by visitation - again cf. Ac 28:30-31
4. And so, Paul could see "good out of ill"!
a. Being in protective custody gave him free rein to preach the
gospel to guards and his visitors!
b. But he saw even more "good out of ill"...
C. HIS EXAMPLE WAS PROMPTING OTHERS TO ACTION (14)
1. His imprisonment caused most brethren to be more confident and
a. They saw that HE was at liberty to teach, "with all
confidence, no one forbidding him" (Ac 28:31)
b. That prompted THEM to "speak the word without fear" (Ph 1:
2. So the gospel was being spread, and to Paul, that's GOOD news!
[There is an application for us to make today, but before we do so,
let's notice another example of how Paul was "making good out of ill",
II. IN PERSECUTION (15-18)
A. SOME WERE PREACHING TO HURT PAUL (
1. Such individuals were motivated by "envy","strife", and "selfish
2. They thought they could add affliction to Paul's chains
3. These individuals could either be "Judaizers" or jealous church
B. BUT WE SEE PAUL'S CONQUERING JOY SHINING THROUGH THE GLOOM (15b,
1. First, because he did not lose sight of those preaching out of
"love" and "goodwill"
a. Those who knew Paul was imprisoned because of the gospel
b. Those who knew their preaching would increase the gospel and
thus encourage Paul
c. And so, Paul did not fall into the trap of "self-pity" and
"despair" so common among preachers
1) Who when persecuted, think they are the only ones who are
2) Who when persecuted, lose sight of the faithful because of
2. Secondly, because he could see those seeking to persecute him
were inadvertently spreading the gospel! - Ph 1:18
a. Though in pretense, though from envy and strife, Christ was
still being preached!
b. And since "preaching Christ and Him crucified" was Paul's
main purpose in life (cf. 1 Co 2:2), he could find cause to
rejoice even when Christ was preached by those who meant him
[So we see how Paul was "Making Good Out Of Ill", even in imprisonment and
in persecution. What applications can we make from this today?]
III. DRAWING SOME APPLICATIONS FROM THIS TEXT
A. UNDERSTANDING THE "KEY" TO "MAKING GOOD OUT OF ILL"...
1. For Paul, it was making the proclamation of Jesus Christ his
goal, his purpose in life, his highest joy!
2. So it can be for us! If we do the same...
a. We can experience a joy greater than any other (just as John
did - cf. 3 Jn 4)
b. We can "make good out ill" in just about any circumstances,
1) Hospital confinement (as we communicate the gospel in
both word and life to those ministering to our needs)
2) Difficult situations at work, with family, and even with
the church (as we demonstrate the impact the gospel can
have in dealing with these problems)
3) Even in death and dying (as we will learn more about in
our next lesson)
3. If we make magnifying Christ our primary focus in life, we can
ALWAYS "make good out of ill"!
B. TAKE HEART KNOWING THAT GOD CAN USE "IMPERFECT" TEACHERS...
1. Many get discouraged by all the "false teachers" we see on TV
and hear on radio, etc.
a. But much of their error is interspersed with some truth
b. God is able to use them to lead others who are seeking the
truth a little closer to His truth
c. The false teachers will be held accountable for their error;
we can at the least rejoice that to some degree, Christ is
2. Many who would teach others about Christ, hesitate to do so out
of fear they may say the wrong thing
a. Yet we see in our text that God could use those who were
imperfect in motive to proclaim Jesus to others - Ph 1:18
b. If God can use those imperfect in "motive", can He not also
use those imperfect in "ability"?
1) Paul certainly claimed lack of ability to some degree -
cf. 1 Co 2:3-4
2) So God can use us, to whatever degree we are able!
3) And wherever we may be lacking, He can use someone else to
supplement our efforts!
1. To put it another way, not only was PAUL "making good out of ill",
but GOD is able to "make good out ill"!
2. And so can we, if we like Paul make "preaching Christ" the major focus
in life! Do we?
Even if you are lost in sin, or a child of God who has strayed away, you
can let Christ make good out of your ill circumstances by obeying His
Magnifying Christ In Life And Death (1:19-26)
1. As we continue to look into the heart of the apostle Paul, we find a
man who despite difficult circumstances still maintained a strong
expectation, hope, and confidence concerning the future.
2. In our text for this study, we find Paul expressing that strong hope
and confidence (read Ph 1:19-26)
3. Many lessons can be gleaned from this passage, but we will "zero in"
on Paul's expectation and hope that "Christ will be magnified in my
body, whether by life or by death." (1:20)
a. Why would Paul desire to "magnify Christ" with his life?
b. Why would he want to "magnify Christ" by his death?
c. How would he do it?
[These are some of the questions we'll look at in this lesson. To begin,
let's consider the idea of Paul...]
I. MAGNIFYING CHRIST BY HIS LIFE
A. WHY WOULD PAUL WANT TO MAGNIFY CHRIST BY HIS LIFE?
1. Because of Christ's love for him - 2 Co 5:14-15
2. Because of the strength Christ gave him for daily living - Ph
3. Because of what Christ would one day do for him - Ph 3:20-21
B. HOW DID PAUL MAGNIFY CHRIST BY HIS LIFE?
1. By his attitude toward Christ
a. Which was "to live is Christ" (21)
b. He made Jesus the preeminent focus of his life - Ph 3:7-8
2. By devoting his life to serving Christ - cf. Ga 2:20
a. As long as he lived, he would offer fruitful service to Jesus
Christ - Ph 1:22
b. As long as he lived, he would so live as to promote the
progress of his brethren in Christ - Ph 1:25-26
1) For he knew that what one did for his brethren, he did for
2) Cf. Ac 9:4-5; 1 Co 8:12; Mt 25:40,45
C. WHAT OF OURSELVES?
1. Do we desire to magnify Christ with our lives?
2. Are we living in a manner that magnifies Christ?
a. I.e., letting Christ live in us, and we living for Him
b. I.e., so living as to promote progress and joy in the cause
of Christ among His brethren who are also our own
1) Do we encourage or discourage the brethren?
2) E.g., do we discourage the brethren by our apathy, our
negligence of the assemblies? - cf. Pr 18:9
3. Does not Christ provide sufficient motive to do so?
a. He loved us, and gave HIS life for us!
b. He promises to help us!
c. He will greatly bless us if we do!
[Every Christian has reason to magnify Christ in his or her life! May we
all seek to make better use of our lives in this area.
But remember that Paul was also concerned about...]
II. MAGNIFYING CHRIST BY HIS DEATH
A. WHY WOULD PAUL WANT TO MAGNIFY CHRIST IN HIS DEATH?
1. Certainly for some of the reasons already noted
2. But also because of what death would mean to Paul because of
a. Because of Christ, "to die is gain" (21)
b. To die means to "be with Christ, which is far better" (23)
1) Paul understood that when a Christian dies, they go to be
with the Lord! - cf. 2 Co 5:6-8; 1 Th 5:9-10
2) So Jesus Himself promised to the churches of Asia - cf.
Re 2:10,26-27; 3:21
3) This appears to the point of the vision seen by John and
recorded in Re 7:9-17
3. In view of this wonderful hope, Paul would gladly magnify
Christ, even by his death!
B. HOW WAS PAUL WILLING TO MAGNIFY CHRIST BY HIS DEATH?
1. By his willingness to die in service to Christ and his brethren
- Ph 2:17-18
a. He was determined to serve them, even if it killed him!
b. But then, what better way to die, in the service of the Lord?
2. Of course, this is how Paul eventually did magnify Christ by
his death - cf. 2 Ti 4:6-8
a. He faithfully served His Lord and his brethren
b. And he died because of his service to them (tradition says
that he was beheaded by Nero)
C. WHAT ABOUT US?
1. We have the same motives to magnify Christ by our deaths
a. The assurance of eternal life
b. The assurance of being with our Lord
2. Will we magnify Christ by our deaths?
a. Unless the Lord returns first, we will all die anyway
b. What better way to die, in a manner which magnifies the One
who makes even death a blessing!
3. How can we magnify Christ today by our deaths?
a. It is unlikely we will suffer "martyrdom" for our faith
b. But we can still determine to "wear out" in our service
to the Lord, rather than "rust out"!
1) Too many Christians "retire" in their service to God when
they retire from their secular jobs
2) They allow the infirmities of age or sickness to render
them virtually fruitless
3) Or they allow the fear of death to be overly cautious
about what they do
a) E.g., fear of an accident keeps many aged Christians
from coming to services
b) But wouldn't be better to die in service to the Lord,
than to just "rust" away, sitting at home?
c. More Christians need to have the attitude of Paul and other
Christians I have known - cf. Ac 20:22-24; 21:13
1) Who would rather be "poured out" in their service to
Christ, rather than become a "stagnant pool"
2) They are those described in Re 12:11
3) And they are also like those described in Ps 92:12-15
4. Indeed, the way we face impending death, whether young or old,
can be a means of magnifying Christ!
1. If we are going to be able to say with Paul, "To live is Christ, to
die is gain", we have to magnify Christ both in life and in death!
2. Jesus has certainly given us every motive for doing so!
3. So let's encourage one another in both word and deed to so live, and
to so die, that we magnify Jesus Christ!
Conduct Worthy Of The Gospel (1:27-30)
1. Up to this point in his epistle, Paul has been informing the church at
Philippi concerning his situation
2. We have seen that his attitude was one of joy and confidence
3. With verse 27, Paul begins a series of practical exhortations
concerning the Christian life
4. The first exhortation is found in verses 27-30, and it pertains to
"Conduct Worthy Of The Gospel" (please read)
[As we examine these verses, let's first notice some...]
I. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING OUR "CONDUCT"
A. LOOKING AT THE WORD "CONDUCT" ITSELF...
1. The KJV translates this word as "conversation"
2. In the Greek, it literally means "behave as citizens"
3. To those at Philippi, this word would likely have special
a. For the city at Philippi was a Roman colony
b. Most of its citizens were actually transplanted citizens of
Rome, retired soldiers who had been encouraged to settle
c. So though they were living in Philippi, they were expected to
"behave as citizens" of Rome
4. Paul applies this term to the life of a Christian...
a. Whose "citizenship" is actually in heaven - cf. Ph 3:20
b. So though we may live on earth, we are to "behave as
citizens" of heaven!
5. This leads us to our next observation...
B. OUR "BEHAVIOR AS CITIZENS" IS TO BE "WORTHY" OF THE GOSPEL...
1. This implies that there is behavior that is NOT worthy of the
2. And to act unworthy of the gospel would bring shame upon the
a. Just as an American citizen who misbehaves in a foreign
country sheds a bad reflection on his home country
b. The apostle Peter would have us remember the importance of
proper conduct as we "sojourn" here in a country not our own
- 1 Pe 2:11-12
3. If we are NOT "behaving as citizens" in a manner "worthy" of the
gospel, then the only alternative is behaving in an "UNworthy"
C. OUR "BEHAVIOR AS CITIZENS" IS TO BE WORTHY "WITH OR WITHOUT" THE
PRESENCE OF OTHER CHRISTIANS...
1. Note that Paul said "whether I come and see you or am absent"
2. Paul evidently did not want their faith to be simply an
3. What is an "environmental faith?"
a. A faith totally dependent upon the environment
1) E.g., remaining faithful while under the positive
influences of one's home, church, or "Christian" college
2) But take that person out of such an environment, and his
or her faith is lost!
b. Some signs of an "environmental" faith
1) Praying in public, but not in private
2) Studying the Bible when at church, but not in private
3) A lack of personal closeness and dependence upon God and
4. Paul's hope was that the Philippians' "behavior as citizens" was
not dependent upon his presence
5. Likewise, our behavior should not be dependent upon the presence
of other Christians, but upon the presence of Christ alone!
[Having considered these "general" observations about "Conduct Worthy Of
The Gospel", let's now look at...]
II. SPECIFIC OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING OUR "CONDUCT"
A. IT INVOLVES "STANDING FAST IN ONE SPIRIT" (27)
1. "Behaving as citizens" involves "standing fast" against those
things which would beset us:
a. The lure of the world in which we live, with its immorality
b. The sin of unbelief, which can strike at even the most mature
Christians, during crises of doubt
c. The deceitfulness of false doctrines, showing great promise
but leading us away from Christ
-- All such things we must "stand fast" against!
2. Note also that we must stand fast "in one spirit"
a. We are not to stand strong by ourselves, in isolation from
one another, but in UNITY!
b. Unworthy conduct usually begins when we neglect the blessings
of fellowship and togetherness
c. The importance of UNITY in our conduct will be developed
further in this epistle
B. IT INVOLVES "WITH ONE MIND STRIVING TOGETHER FOR THE FAITH OF THE
1. "Behaving as citizens" includes:
a. Aggressively promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ ("striving")
b. Doing this in unity with other Christians ("together with one
2. Our conduct is unbecoming the gospel if we are:
a. NOT striving for the faith of the gospel
b. NOT doing it in unity with other brethren
3. Do we not see here the need for "identifying with a
congregation" and closely working together with them?
4. Are those who drift around from church to church, never "placing
membership", truly behaving in a conduct worthy of the gospel?
C. IT INVOLVES "NOT IN ANY WAY TERRIFIED BY YOUR ADVERSARIES" (28-30)
1. Christians walking in a manner worthy of the gospel will not be
troubled by those who may ridicule or even persecute them!
a. For even though the world may consider such "fearlessness" as
evidence that we are crazy...
b. Such courage is actually evidence of our salvation! - cf. Mt
2. There may come times when we who have been "granted to believe
in Jesus" are also "privileged to suffer for His sake"
a. Such was the case with Paul, and evidently the Philippians as
b. Should it ever be our "lot" to suffer for Christ, remember
that it will be a "privilege"
c. Therefore our attitude should be like that of the apostles in
1. So here are some of the things involved as "behaving as citizens"
of the kingdom of heaven, and having a "conduct worthy of the gospel
a. Standing fast in one spirit
b. With one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel
c. Not in any way terrified by our adversaries
-- And this being the case, no matter what the "environment" (moral
climate) might be!
2. This is certainly not all that is involved, for in chapter two we will
learn more of what is expected of Christians
3. But in view of these things...
a. Is our conduct worthy of the gospel of Christ?
b. Are we behaving as citizens of heaven while sojourning on this
If not...could it be that we have forgotten the privileges we enjoy by
"believing in Jesus" and even "suffering for Jesus"?