Friday, June 23, 2017

Philippians 1:17

The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. (Philippians 1:17, ESV)
It is important to notice that this particular group of people are still proclaiming Christ. There is no hint of a false teaching or of false teachers in this passage. When the teaching is false, Paul also responds quite fervently against both the teaching and the teachers of false doctrine. But in this case, he still maintains joy that Christ is being proclaimed. The problem, in this case, is not the message, but the preachers of that message.

These other preachers, instead of being motivated by a deep love of the apostle, are actually out for themselves. Quite possibly, they have seen Paul's imprisonment as an opportunity to jump into the spotlight themselves, and if they can put Paul down... take it permanently.

It doesn't matter to Paul. The Gospel is being preached. I wonder if I would have the same attitude?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Philippians 1:16

The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. (Philippians 1:16, ESV)
So, the one group that have become more confident to share the Gospel are motivated by love, specifically a love for Paul. They love Paul so much that when they find out he has been imprisoned for the defense of the Gospel, it motivates them to share the Gospel themselves.

One could ask, what motivates you to share the Gospel? But a more significant question to ask would be in regards to who do you love? Are there currently any heroes for the Gospel in your life that you love? As they share the Gospel, and go great lengths and endure sacrifices to make it happen, does your love for them motivate you and give you the confidence to share the Gospel yourself?


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Philippians 1:15

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. (Philippians 1:15 ESV)
These next few verses are very interesting. Remember, Paul is talking about how all that has happened to him has happened for the advance of the Gospel. The first way, was that Paul had the opportunity to share the Gospel with the Imperial Guard. This has resulted in the entire Imperial Guard being aware that Paul was imprisoned for the sake of Christ. The second reason that he gave that the Gospel was being advanced, was that other brothers were more confident to share the Gospel themselves. But pay special attention here, these emboldened, emblazoned brothers can be divided into two separate groups.

One group is rooted in good will. They have nothing in mind but the best for Paul. There is another group that is actually preaching Christ, they are confidently propounding on the Gospel message, but it is out of envy and rivalry. Envy: possibly meaning that they are envious of Paul's influence and notoriety in the Christian World. Paul was one of the first "celebrity Pastors" that was doing a lot of writing and speaking engagements. Maybe they were envious. Others were full of rivalry, possibly meaning that because of their envy of Paul's position, it had turned into opposition. Maybe they were speaking out against Paul's methods, hoping to dethrone him from his prominent status.

In the next few verses we will see how Paul feels... no... thinks about these other preachers. You might be surprised.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Philippians 1:14

And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
(Philippians 1:14, ESV)
Here is the second reason why Paul has stated that "all that has happened" to him, has "served to advance the gospel" (Philippians 1:12).  The first reason was stated in verse 13. In that verse, Paul sees that the Imperial Guard and the rest of Caesar's household, most likely the populace of servants, have heard the gospel message. Now he points out that his many trials and his imprisonment have actually emboldened other believers. There are others that are now, in confidence, "much more bold to speak the word without fear."

So often, when we go through trials, we look at the way these things might benefit us... when we go through loss, we sometimes think that this might give us an opportunity, in the future, to help someone who is going through loss. This is quite possible, but I believe that we often miss the ways our trials might be already benefiting others, as we go through these trials with the clear Grace of God.

What opportunities to share the Gospel might be right in front of us? Opportunities that are only a reality because of all that has happened to us... Also, who might be inspired to share the Gospel by watching the grace and dignity that we emanate as we go through our trials?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Philippians 1:13

so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.
(Philippians 1:13, ESV)
All that has happened to Paul has really served to advance the Gospel (Philippians 1:12), and now he tells us exactly how the gospel has been advanced.

Most believe that Paul is in prison in Rome when he is writing this letter to the Philippians. The way that he states that the Gospel has been advanced, supports this idea. The word that is translated "imperial guard" is the Praetorian, or Caesar's Guard. So, whether by direct contact or by word of mouth, there are many in Rome who know that Paul's imprisonment is for Christ.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Philippians 1:12

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,
(Philippians 1:12, ESV)
What has happened to Paul, he claims, has really served to advance the gospel. This verse is fairly straight forward. But I would encourage you to consider those words in the middle of the verse, "what has happened to me..." Paul passes by them so nonchalantly... But consider what has actually happened to Paul. Francis Chan puts it this way,
“This would include a riot, a two-year imprisonment in Caesarea, an appeal to Caesar, the threat on his life, a shipwreck on the way to Rome, his house arrest with restricted freedom, and his impending trial.”
(From Christ Centered Exposition Commentary pg51)
When you go through the book of Acts, you realize that there is much that has happened to Paul, but these things seem as mere trifles to him. They all happened to him... "really" to serve a greater purpose: the advance of the gospel.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Philippians 1:11

filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
(Philippians 1:11, ESV)
This verse is a continuation of the reasoning for Paul's prayer. He prayed in Philippians 1:9 that their "love would abound more and more in knowledge and all discernment." In Philippians 1:10, he begins to tell us why: when they make that divide in those life choices of what really matters, they will be making the right decision. This, in turn, will lead them to stand before God unashamed.

Now he completes that reasoning, honing in, not just on ourselves and our benefit, but on those ultimate ideas:  to be useful and productive for Christ and to bring glory to God. We will make God look supremely valuable as we love more and more and others see that love that we have for one another.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Philippians 1:10

so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
(Philippians 1:10, ESV)
In Philippians 1:9, Paul prays for abounding love, "more and more" for the Philippians. He then specifies that this love is in "knowledge and all discernment".  Now he tells us a purpose...

To "approve" means to test or examine. And the word that is translated "excellent" is the greek word διαφέρω (diaphérō) which is literally two words together, meaning to carry through. It is translated "excellent" because this word had the idea of the things that lasted, the things that would carry through, the things that were durable.

So, Paul is saying that abounding love in knowledge and discernment will enable you to figure out the lasting things of life. i.e. The things that really matter. The result is then that on judgment day, you will not be ashamed.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Philippians 1:9

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,
(Philippians 1:9, ESV)
Paul has already stated that he loves these Philippians, and we will find out later that he feels loved by them. So, it is interesting that when he prays, he prays that their love will abound more and more. He is praying that their love won't stop, but will continue to grow. And specifically with knowledge and all discernment.

Just like how when I show the greatest love to my wife, and when she feels the most loved, it is clearly connected with my knowledge of her. The more I know her and her likes and dislikes... her "love languages" so to speak, the more love there is.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Philippians 1:8

For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 1:8, ESV)
Talk about a powerful way of proclaiming love!

First, Paul is calling down God as his witness. That is a powerful way of saying, "I'm not lying to you here! Before God almighty that knows all things, this is how I feel!"

Then he describes how he yearns for them... he longs for them. The word that is translated, "affection" is the greek word: σπλάγχνον (splánchnon). This word comes from the Greek word for "spleen" and is often translated (in the King James Version) as "bowels." Thayer's adds this to its definition of this Greek word:
The bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, esp. kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections, etc.)
I hope that is helpful, but still, this might seem weird to us, but it would be like saying that I feel it in the depths of my gut.

Do you have any brothers and sisters in Christ that you feel this way about? Do any feel this way about you?

Friday, June 09, 2017

Philippians 1:7

It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
(Philippians 1:7, ESV)
This is intimate. This is personal. And according to Paul, this "is right." It is right for him to feel this way about all of these Philippian Christians. He holds them in his heart. It is like they are there with him.

I imagine that he must have really felt this way when Epaphroditus showed up with provisions. He must have felt like they were right there with him... The whole crew!

These people, in a very real way, are partakers with Paul.

How about you? How does your Pastor feel? How do your missionaries feel? Do they feel like you are partakers? Or do they feel like you are burdens?

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Philippians 1:6

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:7, ESV)
Paul is confident, but he is not confident in the Philippians or their abilities. He is not assured because of their outstanding character or their past successes. Paul's confidence in this ongoing work of salvation is based entirely in the one who began the work. The one who began the work is the one who will complete the work.

This is hugely important to understand. So many questions about salvation and those connected issues like: eternal security, losing your salvation, walking away from the faith, predestination, election, progressive sanctification, and confidence in salvation... to understand what the scriptures say about the actual salvation process and who is really at work resolves many of these issues.

Consider this Commentary on Ephesians 2. In this passage, we can read that we are truly dead in our sin, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved..." (Ephesians 2:4-5)

He goes on to say, in one of the most quoted passages of the New Testament, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) Did you catch that? Even the faith, which most of us consider to be "our part" Paul says, "And this is not your own doing."

For some this might seem confusing, but understand that good Bible interpretation is rooted in the attempt to simply say the same things that the Bible says, and not to always answer who these things meet in eternity. What we can be sure of, is that he who began this work, will complete it. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)

So we work like our lives depend on it,  so "that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:11)And this is a challenging, fearful work that you "... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..." (Philippians 2:12b) But we can rest assured, "... for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Philippians 1:5

because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
(Philippians 1:5, ESV)
Previously, Paul has told us that he is thanking God for these Philippian Christians. He does this on every remembrance of them, and he does this with joy!  Now he is telling us a specific reason why these Christians turn Paul toward thankful, joyful prayer.

Paul says that it is because of their "partnership in the gospel" that he is exulting in joyful prayer. The Greek word that is translated "partnership" is very much a business word. It is the same word that is used to describe two "partners" going into business together.

In a very real sense, these Philippian Christians had gone into business together: The Gospel Business. The church at Philippi had shown support to Paul more than once. They had even recently sent Epaphroditus (one of their members) to visit Paul in prison. Roman prisons wouldn't always take care of their prisoners so well, so a prisoner would be dependent on friends and family to meet their needs. The Philippians knew this and sent Epaphroditus along with some supplies.

So Paul is thanking them for this genuine partnership in the gospel.

An important lesson to begin to learn from this is that the work of the gospel is not to be left for the apostles. It is a work for the whole church to partner in.