Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Paul is presenting himself as a servant of Jesus Christ and he is with Timothy.
He is writing to the people in Philippi, to the saints and to the bishops and elders of the church. He doesn’t just address the church, he is also addressing the leadership of the church, the bishops and deacons.
Php 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Php 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
Php 1:4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
Php 1:5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
Paul has fond memories of this church in Philippi. He is always praying for them and it seems like they are a faithful church because Paul can have fellowship with them in the gospel even up to this day.
Php 1:6 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:
Paul now changes gear from his introduction.
- He is confident that the work that was started in them will be performed in them until the day of Jesus Christ.
- What work is that? At this point, we don’t know.
Php 1:7 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.
Paul has this church in his heart – that is why he is always praying for them.
- It is because they are partakers of the grace of God just as he is.
- They defend and confirm the gospel just as he does.
Php 1:8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
Php 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
Paul longs after them but cannot be with them. So his desire is that they would abound more in knowledge and judgment.
Php 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
The abounding of knowledge and judgment should bear fruit:
- Approve things that are excellent.
- What does it mean to approve things that are excellent?
- The word “approve” means discern or examine. The word examine sounds like something that would be connected to judgment.
- The word “excellent” means to bear through, to transport, to publish.
- So Paul is praying for knowledge and judgment in this church, especially the leadership, that they would have discernment and thorough examination of knowing what to publish to the rest of the church.
- Sincere and without offence till the day of Christ
- What the leadership allows to pass through must produce a positive effect – that we would be sincere and without offence.
- Sincere means pure and unsullied. Something definitely related to our character.
- Without offence means faultless, not led into sin.
It is important for the leadership of the church to have knowledge and judgment. Why?
- So we would know what to pass on to the church and to make sure that what is passed on produces good fruit of sincerity and faultlessness until the day of Christ.
Php 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Not only that. But it must produce other fruits.
- Filled with the fruits of righteousness which come by Jesus Christ.
To be filled with the fruits of righteousness is not for our own glory or for our own blessing in finding a job or a spouse. It is given so that we can give glory and praise back to God.
This is the reason why Paul is praying for more knowledge an judgment for the leadership of this church.
- To approve things that are excellent.
- To be sincere and without offence.
- To be filled with the fruits of righteousness.
- So that we can give all the glory and praise back to God.
Php 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
What happened to Paul?
- Next verse it says “my bonds.”
Paul is saying that his imprisonment is for the furtherance of the gospel. It has turned out to be a blessing.
Php 1:13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
Php 1:14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
This is explaining how his imprisonment has helped the gospel.
- So that his bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace.
- It begins to create interest and people begin to ask why this man is here. That is one way the message went out.
- As a result, many of Paul’s brethren became bold to preach the word without fear.
Paul is explaining how the gospel went out because of his imprisonment and how it has been to the furtherance of the gospel.
Php 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
Php 1:16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
Php 1:17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
Php 1:18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
Paul is explaining how good came out from his imprisonment.
How Christ is preached:
- Because of envy and strife.
- Because of good will.
- Because of contention, not sincerely.
- Because of love.
Paul was rejoicing in prison because even those that spoke wickedly against the gospel have preached Christ. Whether in pretence of truth.
Why is Paul talking about his imprisonment and how it became a blessing? We don’t know yet, but there is a reason he has told the church about this.
Php 1:19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
What will turn to his salvation?
- His imprisonment – it is for him.
He did not ask to be freed, but he asked for more Spirit of Jesus Christ.
- He did not focus on his present situation, but made sure that he had more of what was important.
- Sometimes when we pray, we ask for our situation to be turned and to be made better or more profitable. But rather, we should ask for more of the Spirit of Christ to endure and to be strengthened so that we can endure whatever God allows to come our way.
Php 1:20 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.
Paul is asking for more of the Spirit of Jesus Christ for a few reasons according to this verse:
- That in nothing he would be ashamed. Meaning that he would not be ashamed of anything but be bold for Christ.
- And that Christ might be magnified in his body, whether it bring life or death.
He is not asking for his situation to change but that God might be glorified regardless of what happens.
Php 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
“to live is Christ”
- If he is to live, Christ would be magnified.
Why did he say to die is to gain?
- The suffering will cease.
- His death will spread the gospel even further.
- And his eternal salvation can be sealed forever.
Php 1:22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
But if Paul is to live and not die, he can do more fruitful work for Christ, so long as he has the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Php 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
Paul is in between. He is struggling.
- He wants to die. We can see the human side of him.
- Because of suffering he would rather die
- But for the people he would rather live. That is why he cannot decide.
Paul wants to glorify God, whether it means to live or die.
“to be with Christ”
- If he dies he will not go straight to heaven and be with Christ immediately. It is talking about the future resurrection. Paul has an assurance of his salvation.
- To understand more about what happens when a person dies, please read this following study.
Php 1:24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
Php 1:25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
Php 1:26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
However, Paul knows that he needs to persevere to live for the sake of the church at Philippi. He would rather live for the people.
So what do we know about Paul?
- At the beginning he prays for them
- In the second section he says that his imprisonment is for good
- Later he is saying that he would rather live for their sakes
We can see that Paul is very positive. He would rather sacrifice for his people. Self sacrifice, positive thinking and vision. This is the mind of Paul.
Php 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Paul exhorts them to have their “conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.”
- The word conversation means “to behave as a citizen.”
- He is not referring only to what they speak. Even though what we say is very important, it encompasses their conduct of life, their actions.
How can we behave as citizens of the gospel of Christ?
- To stand fast in one spirit.
- To have one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.
One is repeated twice there – one spirit, one mind.
- How can we have one spirit? We need to pray like Paul that regardless of our circumstance we would ask for more of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (verse 19).
- And to pray to have one mind – same feelings, thoughts and purposes.
Php 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
“And in nothing terrified by your adversaries”
- He reminds them they don’t have to be afraid of what people will to do them that hate them. His life is that example of it already.
But rather, what happens to them would be an evidence:
- Evidence to the adversaries of their perdition – their destruction.
- Evidence to the saints of their salvation.
So we will know whether we have the Spirit of Jesus Christ and one mind based on what happens to us.
Php 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
So it’s not enough just to believe on Jesus Christ. We must learn to suffer for His sake as well. The Christian life that is faithful to God will have to endure suffering.
Where does the suffering come from?
- From adversaries. And that comes from how we live for Christ.
Php 1:30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Paul tells them that their struggle will be the same as what they see in his life, in which he continues to go through at this present time.
So in Paul’s opening chapter to the church at Philippi he shares with them his struggle that he is currently facing being imprisoned. And even though he is stuck there in prison, he desires more of the Spirit of Jesus Christ than to be set free. The reason he shares about his own personal situation is to remind them that they will soon face a similar struggle if they are one in spirit and one in mind for the sake of the gospel.
If you are going through such a struggle today, facing persecution because of your walk and journey with Christ, you are in good company. For Paul went through such a situation. Not only him, but many of the patriarchs and prophets of old endured such contradiction against their adversaries. May God grant you an extra portion of the Spirit of Jesus Christ to fill your heart and life today. And may we all have one spirt and one mind to strive together for the faith of the gospel.