Last updated on October 10th, 2019
Hello Fact-Truthers. In my next couple of writings we’ll be doing a study of Philippians, and hopefully it’ll help you understand this book better. So to begin today, we’ll start with Philippians 1.
Completing the good work
As we can observe from the beginning of the chapter, Paul with Timothy is addressing this letter to the church at Philippi. You’ll notice in verse 2 that Paul uses the greeting of grace and peace in a lot of his letters to different churches. When he first begins addressing the Philippians, in verse 5 he expresses joy in them for their fulfilling of the primary purpose of all Christians in sharing the Gospel. Verse 6 states, “6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Preachers on television at times make verse 6 about some kind of earthly fulfillment in life that God is going to complete in a person, but that’s inaccurate. In context, this verse appears to more accurately be about perfecting the good work in us of sharing the Gospel until the day of Christ given what Paul is stating in the prior verse.
What Paul prays for
He continues to express his affection for the church at Philippi for their sharing in the grace of God. You begin to see that among all of the letters he’s written to different churches, this appears to be one of the churches he was most pleased with. Perhaps considering this church a model for what other churches should be like. There are very few corrections he makes in his letter to this church as opposed to his letters to the church at Corinth or the churches of Galatia. Verse 9 states what Paul prays of the Philippians, in that they’re love, or in other words based on the meaning of the Greek word for love which is agape, they’re selfless goodwill, may increase in knowledge and discernment, so that they can do the best things to be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ through righteousness that comes from Christ. I think it’s amazing and important to see that Paul is praying for their character, and not praying for things such as them all finding spouses, getting rich, and all this other stuff that prosperity preachers too often focus on.
Paul in prison
Now in the next couple of verses we find out Paul is prison when he writes this letter, which is something to really remember as we understand why he’s writing what he’s writing in the rest of the chapters. Verse 13 and 14 states, “13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.” In my Oxford Annotated Bible, the footnote indicates that he was likely confined in some Roman administrative center. He continues on praising those who preach Christ out of pure good will, and criticizing those who preach Christ out of selfish ambition. These verses seem to suggest that some preachers had a dislike for Paul, because he contrasts those who proclaim Christ out of envy with those who recognize him as a defender of the Gospel. 2 Corinthians and Galatians gives us some evidence of that with Paul having to defend his apostolic calling.
Perseverance of the gospel
Nonetheless, in spite of the way Christ is being proclaimed in some instances, he expresses joy anyway for the fact that Christ is being proclaimed. In the next verses Paul indicates the importance of their prayers in his circumstances turning out for his deliverance and continuing to exult Christ by his life or by death. It’s fascinating to observe Paul’s inner desires that reflect a certain humanness that relates with all of us. He essentially states he’d rather not be in such difficult circumstances and go on to be with Christ, but for the greater good of the cause of the Gospel, he sees it as necessary to continue on for the sake of the Philippians progress in the faith. It’s that kind of recognition of what’s important that’s perhaps an example to all of us in our continuing journeys filled with the trials that we endure.
Paul encourages the Philippians to stay focused on conducting themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Standing firm in it, striving together for it, and not be overly concerned with any opponents of their cause, nor should any of us as Christians. Finally, the last two verses in Philippians 1 show that we’re all going to suffer for the sake of the Gospel at some point, even though some preachers want to deny suffering as a part of the Christian journey. Verse 29-30 concludes the chapter stating, “29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”
As always, any questions, comments, or thoughts, feel free to share them with me. If you were enlightened by this writing, I’d appreciate you sharing this on your social media accounts. Peace to all those who are in Christ.