Friday, September 08, 2017

Philippians 3:12

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Philippians 3:12, ESV)
Paul hasn't arrived.

It is quite possible that Paul has been in the Gospel Ministry for nearly 30 years at this point. And yet he still isn't there yet. He still isn't finished. God isn't done working on him. He has not attained a measure of "done-ness."

If Paul the Apostle takes this attitude to knowing Christ more... if 30-years-in-ministry-Paul takes this attitude to ongoing growth in the knowledge of Jesus Christ... How much more ought we?

So, what does Paul do? He presses on. He keeps at it. He keeps going forward.

D.A. Carson, in his commentary on Philippians, titled Basics for Believers, discusses Paul's continual pressing forward in his knowledge of Jesus by saying,
“Christians should never be satisfied with yesterday’s grace. It is a shocking thing for Christians to have to admit that they have grown little in their knowledge of Jesus Christ.” 
Notice that as Paul is continuing to press on to make Christ his own, it still isn't because he is seeking to earn or obtain a righteousness. In fact, he acknowledges that Christ has already handled that: Paul belongs to Christ.

You might say that his endeavors are now all about expanding his own understanding of what has already been done for him.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Philippians 3:11

that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11, ESV)
"that by any means possible" does not mean that Paul is unsure what will bring him to the resurrection, it just means that Paul does not know how he will get there. Maybe he will attain the resurrection of the dead after he has died. Maybe he will be killed for his faith. But Paul doesn't know whether or not Christ will return before his own end. Maybe he will attain the resurrection of the dead when he is "taken up" like he talks about with the Thessalonian Christians.

What Paul is sure of is that he will make it to the end. He will endure. And what his end looks like is less important to Paul than the surety that he will keep at it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Philippians 3:10

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:10, ESV)
This verse captures the essence of Paul's life.

Paul wants to know Christ. He wants to know what it is like to be filled with the same power that raised Christ from the dead and is now working in him. He wants to participate in the sufferings of Christ. And he ultimately wants to die in obedience to God the Father, the way Christ did.

One way to define Spiritual Growth is to define it as increasing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Living a more righteous life simply flows from this: it is a result of spiritual growth, not the growth itself.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Philippians 3:9

and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Philippians 3:9, ESV)
This was truly how it always was. Righteousness had always come through faith. Paul evidences this in Romans when he discusses how Abraham... who, before the Law and before he was circumcised, had righteousness credited to him because he simply believed God. (Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6)

Paul wants nothing more than to have this righteousness and to help other to see this. He wants to liberate them from the bondage of attempting to earn our own righteousness. He desires to teach and preach the good news of the gospel to the world.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Philippians 3:8

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8, ESV)
Here we find the essence of genuine salvation: "knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."

For the opportunity to know Christ, Paul suffers loss. He doesn't just want to know who Christ is, he wants to enter into Christ's life. He wants to experience what Christ experienced. All of those things that Paul would have, at one time, considered to be of value, he now considers them to be rubbish (or dung). He does this to gain Christ.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Philippians 3:7

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:7, ESV)
All of those things, all of that effort, all of that sacrifice, all of that diligence, all of that zeal... not simply worthless, but an actual negative when it comes to the cross.

It isn't that the things Paul had done were bad things, though some of them were, it is that this righteousness by the Law actually worked against Paul's faith in the true messiah. That confidence in the life he had lived did no good, but only harm, in the ways of the Cross.

This is quite possibly because the way of the Cross is a way that realizes that we have nothing in and of ourselves to offer to Christ. The way of the Cross is a way that realizes that we cannot obtain, we cannot reach the righteousness that truly saves.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Philippians 3:6

as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. (Philippians 3:6, ESV)
Paul continues in mounting his evidence that if confidence in the flesh were to be had... he would out do any of the others that might be preaching the necessity of these things. He does this by now saying that he wasn't just a dull, humdrum follower of the Law. He was all-in! He was full of that righteous energy  to do what the Law prescribes. This zeal was so extensive that he worked to fight against those who stood against it. As to the Law itself, there wasn't one point he had missed: he was blameless.

In other words, if there was a righteousness to be earned under the Law, he could have done it.

This means that when he teaches these Christians to abandon the righteousness that can be earned under the law, it isn't because of his own self-preservation. It isn't because he is lacking in an area. It isn't because he wouldn't measure up to the standard.

He wants to make sure they understand that he has been on the other side of this argument.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Philippians 3:5

circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; (Philippians 3:5, ESV)
Paul wasn't just circumcised... he was circumcised on the eighth day, just like the Law prescribes. He is also a Jew by birth, and he knows his lineage: he is of the tribe of Benjamin. He is "a Hebrew of Hebrews!"

The Pharisees had taken apart the Law, command by command, and sought to understand this Law. For example, if the Law says to not work on the Sabbath, the Pharisees had sought to understand what exactly work is! This many steps is work, but if you only take this many steps it isn't. Moving this many pieces of wood into the fire is OK, but if you move this many, you have entered into work.

Paul was one of these guys.

If there was confidence in the flesh to be had... he would win.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Philippians 3:4

though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: (Philippians 3:4, ESV)
Some have put their confidence in the flesh. Paul has abandoned this, but to make sure that nobody thinks that this lack of confidence in the flesh is because of shortcomings in Paul's history, he is going to lay that to rest. If there is anyone that could have confidence in the flesh, it is Paul.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Philippians 3:3

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— (Philippians 3:3, ESV)
A little explaining is in order here:

When Paul traveled throughout the Roman Empire, he would quite often head into the Jewish communities first. Many times preaching and teaching at a Jewish Synagogue. And there would be Jewish converts to Christianity, but for them, it would many times be incorporated into their pre-existing beliefs.

Lest we be too quick to judge, consider first of all that Christ was truly a fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Christ was, in reality, the messiah that they had all been waiting for. So, it would only make sense, at first glance, that nothing of their religious practices should change. I mean, why would it?  Should we not continue to obey the Ten Commandments? Were there not important aspects of the Law that should continue to be obeyed?

Consider, as well, there were always Jewish Proselytes: There were always those who had heard the truths of the Word of God and had believed them. And all of these converts to the Jewish belief system would become, in a sense, Jews. Circumcision was sort of the key word that encompassed all of the changes that needed to be made to become a Jew. (Can you blame them for emphasizing this?!?)

But now Paul is teaching that circumcision doesn't need to be done. He is teaching, in fact, that the true people of the circumcision, were not necessarily those who had been circumcised in the flesh, but those who were now worshiping the true and living God, by the Spirit of God, in the person of Jesus Christ.

The important aspect of this passage is that Paul is teaching us not to put confidence in the flesh. The real issue was that many were putting all of their assurance of their faith in what HAD been done. We still struggle with this today. There are many who are convinced of their own salvation because of what they have done. They have prayed a prayer. They have gone to church. They have been baptized. Sometimes it is really thin... whether it is because their parents went to a certain church or simply because they aren't from another religion... Their confidence is still in the flesh because their confidence is because they have done all of the steps that they think needs to be done.

On the flip side to this is one who has put all of their confidence, not in what they have done, but in what Christ has done. This confidence takes the form of ongoing worship of Jesus Christ.

Where is your confidence? Are you convinced of your own salvation because of a checklist of items that you have come to believe are the necessities of salvation?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Philippians 3:2

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. (Philippians 3:2, ESV)
Dogs and evildoers... Sounds harsh, but who is he talking about? We will find out over the next few verses, but there is a little play on words here that is a hint... "... those who mutilate the flesh" is very similar (in the Greek) to the phrasing for one getting circumcised.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Philippians 3:1

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 
(Philippians 3:1, ESV)
"Finally..." not meaning that this is near the end of his letter, but that these are his final thoughts. Once again, he comes back to joy. "Rejoice in the Lord." he says.

What he is about to talk about, is nothing new to the Philippians, but he wants to make sure they don't tune him out... what comes next is something they could, and maybe should, hear again and again.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Philippians 2:30

for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me. (Philippians 2:30, ESV)
This is why they ought to honor Epaphroditus. His obedience nearly led to his death, and he did this on their behalf. What more could be said? Paul simply wants them to know the price that Epaphroditus nearly paid... the price he was willing to pay... on behalf of the entire Philippian Christian Community. They all could not come, but one came for them.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Philippians 2:29

So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, (Philippians 2:29, ESV)
When Ephaphroditus shows up, Paul wants them to be filled with joy. Enjoy these happy things. Enjoy the reunions of old friends. Enjoy the mercy that God shows to each and every one of us in the little aspects of God's common grace.

Notice as well... Men (and women) who are worthy of honor, should be honored. Surely, they themselves are not to seek it, but there is nothing wrong with highlighting the actions of our fellow Christians as something worth pointing out. In fact, not only is there nothing wrong with this, it seems that, as Paul has written this as an imperative, that there is something right about it.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Philippians 2:28

I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. (Philippians 2:28, ESV)
Paul is aware that joy... though it can and should be chosen... can also be affected by the good things in life. Epaphroditus returning home to the Philippian Christians will result in their joy.

I wonder if Paul sat back and imagined this reunion. Did he picture Epaphroditus walking back into town? Did he envision him showing up at a fellowship/worship time? Did he think of the hugs that would be shared?

It is no wonder that he would be less anxious for this loving people.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Philippians 2:27

Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. (Philippians 2:27, ESV)
Epaphroditus almost died. Whatever this illness was, it was one that nearly took his life.

Paul recognizes that the reason Epaphroditus is still alive is simply because of the mercy of God. God had mercy on Epaphroditus. God also had mercy on Paul, because if something would have happened to this faithful friend, brother, worker, soldier... Paul would have experienced sorrow topped with sorrow.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Philippians 2:26

for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. (Philippians 2:26, ESV)
Epaphroditus is also wanting to go back to Philippi, it isn't simply that Paul wants to send him, he also wants to go. And his two-fold reasoning is fascinating.

First, he is simply longing for them. He misses them and wants to ... genuinely wants to... be near them. Secondly, he is distressed, but not for his own sake. It has been eating him up because the news of this illness that Epaphroditus must have suffered has made its way back to the Philippian Church. So, he knows... that they know... that he was sick!  But it isn't his illness that is distressing him, it is because he knows that they have been worried about him.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Philippians 2:25

I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, (Philippians 2:25, ESV)
Epaphroditus is one of the Philippian Church's own. He is a guy that was sent by the Philippians to minister to Paul in his time of need. He cam bearing a gift from the Philippians to Paul.

Paul is now ready to send him home. It sounds like he will be traveling with Timothy.

Consider how Paul refers to this man:
"my brother"
"fellow worker"
"fellow soldier"

and also...
"your messenger and minister to my need"

These are all such wonderful terms of endearment. They speak of family, labor, and loyalty. And I can only think that he was sent to be a true representation of the heart of the Philippian Christians.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Philippians 2:24

and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also. (Philippians 2:24, ESV)
Paul is hoping to be able to visit this church soon. He will be sending Timothy with news, and it sounds like he is hoping that the news will be that Paul will be along shortly.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Philippians 2:23

I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, (Philippians 2:23, ESV)
This trustworthy servant, Timothy, who has been like a son to Paul, is being sent to the Philippian Church. He isn't being sent right away, Paul is going to detain him long enough to be able to send him with news of Paul's situation.

The sending of Timothy shows Paul's concern for the Philippian Church. He wants someone to be there for them. He also wants to make sure that he can send him along with information that he knows they want.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Philippians 2:22

But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. (Philippians 2:22, ESV)
There is something to be said for the love that can develop between two men. Timothy has served Paul like a loving son would. Timothy isn't his son in reality, though one might argue that Timothy is his son in the faith. The point is that these two men have served, side-by-side. In this case, not like brothers, but like a father and son. Timothy has shown himself worthy to Paul. Paul is now telling the Philippian church that they can trust Timothy to be there in Paul's place.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Philippians 2:21

For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:21, ESV)
Unlike Timothy, most are seeking their own interests. Timothy, on the other hand, is seeking the interests of Jesus Christ.

What are your interests set on? What interests you the most?

The servant of Jesus Christ, has his interests set on his master.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Philippians 2:20

For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. (Philippians 2:20, ESV)
Paul tells us that he has no on quite like Timothy, and the particular aspect of Timothy, that earns him this recognition, is that Timothy is genuinely, authentically concerned for the welfare of the Philippian Church. Timothy is a living example of what Paul has been teaching in this letter.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Philippians 2:19

I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. (Philippians 2:19, ESV)
Here we are, right in the middle of this letter to the Philippians, and Paul jumps to some travel itinerary business. This may seem unusual, until you realize that, in conjunction with this itinerary, Paul is also giving some real life examples of the ideas he has been teaching.

In this verse, he reminds the Philippians of Timothy. He will be the first of two human examples of the ideas that have been presented. In this particular statement, Paul is also reminding them that cheer (joy) can come from the little things as well. He acknowledges that the simple reality of hearing news of the Philippians, will bring him joy. Sure, we are called to have joy in our sorrows, but that doesn't mean that we won't be joyful for those little moments as well.

What little things do you have to be joyful over? Have you thanked (and acknowledged) God for these things as well?

Monday, August 07, 2017

Philippians 2:18

Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippians 2:18, ESV)
There is an interesting play on words here in the greek. In the previous verse, Paul states that he will "be glad and rejoice" with the Philippians. Now he tells the Philippians to "be glad and rejoice" with him.

In verse 17, "be glad" is χαίρω (chairō). Meaning, "to rejoice" and the tense of this verb is that it is happening right now. "Rejoice with all of you" is συγχαίρω (synchairō). Notice that it is basically the same word, with "syn" at the beginning, hence the "rejoice with." It is almost as if Paul was saying, "I am joyful and my joy is synchronized with yours."

Now, in verse 18, Paul restates these two verbs, with the slight change into imperatives for both. Now they are commands. As if he is now saying, "You should be joyful... choose to be joyful... and let's get it synced back up with my own joy!"

The application: Choose Joy!

Friday, August 04, 2017

Philippians 2:17

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. (Philippians 2:17, ESV)
I am going to borrow from the words of D.A. Carson, in his book Basics for Believers (a commentary on Philippians) to speak to the symbolism of the drink offering:
"In this metaphor, the actions of the Philippians constitute the primary 'sacrifice.' They give themselves to Christ and commit themselves to pleasing him, whatever the cost. Then, if Paul has to give up his life, his sacrifice is merely a kind of libation poured out on top of their sacrifice. Such a libation is meaningless unless it is poured out on a more substantial sacrifice. But their Christian living is that sacrifice; Paul's martyrdom -- should it occur -- or the pains, sufferings, and persecutions he faces as an apostle are the complementary drink offering poured over theirs."
As a Pastor, I am aware of this. There is much sacrifice in ministry, though I have not come near the sacrifices that Paul made. Yet I get that idea... when the people of my church work hard in their Christian life, I do feel as if any sacrifice that I have made is just a drink offering, poured on top of theirs. My sacrifices, of time and stress and study, draw their significance from the sacrifice of the people that I am ministering to.

Let your life, also, be a living sacrifice, not only for the sake of Christ, but to also give meaning and depth to the sacrifices of your pastor and those others who have taught you and ministered to you.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Philippians 2:16

holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. (Philippians 2:16, ESV)
Remember, we are not grumbling or complaining, so that we can be lights in the world. This is a difficult task. This is an important task. How are we to do this? Or, I guess I should say, in what way are we to do this? "... holding fast to the world of life..."

This phrase is more important than one might assume. The avoidance of complaint in this life, the ability to keep this life's woes at bay and not allow its frustrations to overcome us and flow from our lips is a great challenge. We do this when we hold on tightly to the word of life, the good news of the gospel message.

What does this look like? There are a variety of ways that this can be accomplished:


  • When we feel overwhelmed by the bad news that bombards us each day, remember the good news that this world will be made new and ruled by our King Jesus (Revelation 21:1-3). 
  • When we weep at the losses that we face, whether of people or relationships or the dreams that we thought might have been, hold on to the truth that every tear will be wiped away (Revelation 7:17). 
  • When we are ill and our bodies aren't functioning the way they ought to, remember that this is only a tent that we live in, we will one day be given a permanent dwelling, a new body (2 Corinthians 5:1-5). 
  • When we sin, and we will, and the guilt of that sin seems overwhelming, remember that the actual guilt of sin and all of its penalty was poured upon Jesus on the cross: He bore our sins (I Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53:5). 
  • When we are tired, when we are weary, when we are burdened by the tasks that this life sets before us as we attempt to live it God's way, remember that Christ calls all who are weary and heavy laden, that he might give them rest (Matthew 11:28). 
Whatever it is that is beckoning you to grumble and dispute with those around you, hold fast to the world of life. Those that have shared with you these words, those that have taught and preached to you the gospel, those that have, themselves, suffered through this life in order to share with you the good news... they will rejoice on that day!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Philippians 2:15

that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (Philippians 2:15, ESV)
Don't grumble or dispute was the command in the previous verse. If for no other reason, we ought not to do that, simply because God has commanded that we not do that. But here we can see one of the glorious benefits of avoiding the grumbling: when grumbling is absent, we get to shine!

Think about it this way: When we share the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, we are sharing something that ought to surpass any and every bad thing that we may encounter here. God has made a way for us to get to know him, and it is completely separate from our ability to accomplish this. He didn't just pave the way to salvation, He IS the salvation. ... God Saves People!  He saves them from their sin, he saves them from the power of sin, he saves them from the penalty of sin, and he grants them the good favor that his one and only Son deserves. He accomplished all of this good grace while continuing to be absolutely just and righteous. His son, Jesus Christ, bore all of the wrath of God on our behalf. What more could we ask for?!?

How can we show the glorious nature of what we are recipients of, if the little things of this life (or the big things of this life), bog us down in such a way that we walk around grumbling and disputing like the rest of the world?

Your glorious acceptance of the course of this life will speak to the glorious nature of the great gift you have received in salvation. This world is crooked and twisted, but if you can walk around blameless and innocent... Children of God... You will shine as lights in this dark world.

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. (Daniel 12:2-3, ESV)

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Philippians 2:14

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, (Philippians 2:14, ESV)
OK. Does this passage really need commentary? Probably not. The teaching is clear: All of the things you do... your work, your play, your ministry, your sleeping, your communication, your conflict resolutions, your interactions with annoying people, your challenges with difficult bosses, your family reunions that you want to go to, your family reunions that you don't want to go to, your chores, your boring times, your fun times, your difficult times, your sad times... All Things... Do them without grumbling or disputing.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Philippians 2:13

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13, ESV)
Why do we work out our salvation? Why would we take that salvation that God has freely bestowed on us and work it out into the rest of our lives? Why would we work it into our homes, our families, our work places, our friends, our churches, and our neighborhoods? Why? It is because (for) God is working in us on two levels: the will and the work.

For many, the thought of God's sovereignty in our lives seems to be a dis-motivation toward effort. In the scriptures, this is never true. Anytime a biblical author discusses God's sovereign hand in our daily lives, it is a motivation to even higher effort. This can be noticed in evangelistic efforts: Paul the Apostle, after a discouraging time in ministry, was motivated by the Lord to continue his efforts because the Lord told him that, "... I have many in this city who are my people." (Acts 18:5-11)

If you look at God's sovereign hand at work in your will and in your work, and it doesn't encourage you, then you must be looking at it wrong. It ought to be, the way it was for those Biblical characters, an understanding that you will be given the exact success that God has foreordained for you.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Philippians 2:12

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, (Philippians 2:12, ESV)
Paul is encouraging them. He is drawing attention to their previous obedience: He has seen their obedience first hand. He has experienced their loving care, as they, in obedience to God, had provided for Paul's needs, on more than one occasion.

So, what he says next is not because of a lack of obedience, but it is an encouragement to "keep on." Very much how one would see a runner, near the end of their race, a runner who had been running and was showing no signs of stopping... one might still encourage them as they were passing by, "Keep at it! Keep going! Don't stop!" Or how a coach might actually say, "Pick up the pace!" These words do not discount the previous effort, but acknowledge that effort and encourage it to continue.

And what is his encouragement? It is to "... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..." It's yours! You have been saved! Live like it. Have that salvation that is in you, work it's way out into the world around you.

The "your" is plural in the Greek. This means that Paul has a church-wide "working out" in mind. He is seeing this church in Phillipi bringing their salvation into their work place, into their homes, into their social circles. Your salvation ought to be impacting your friends and your enemies.

One final thought, this verse, along with the next verse, are in my opinion, one of the most important passages in the scriptures, related to our understanding of man's responsibility and God's sovereignty. As we will see in the next passage, the motivation to work out our salvation comes from the sovereignty of God at work in that salvation.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Philippians 2:11

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:11, ESV)
As the knees bow... the tongues will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Let's not forget the context of this verse though. The Apostle is encouraging us to be humbly obedient. He has told us to put others ahead of ourselves and too look to their needs, not just our own. He tells us to do this the way Jesus did... to have his mind... his thought process. And then after he describes the great lengths Jesus went to in order to be obedient to the Father, he tells us this: Christ was and will be glorified.

Why?

To help us to think beyond as well. To think past this life. Yes, Jesus suffered the cross and the humiliation. Yes he endured as a man, but he also knew the end result. God would be glorified and he would be lifted up.

If you are looking for motivation or encouragement to continue, then consider the end and your final state.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Philippians 2:10

so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (Philippians 2:10, ESV)
This truly amazing humble obedience of Jesus... The result? He is given a name. A name that is above every other name... and according to this verse, having a name that is above every other name will result in every knee reaching toward the ground. In the end, we will all bend the knee. In the end, all creatures, in heaven and on earth and under the earth... the living and the dead... the physical and the spiritual... we will all bend the knee, because this name is not only given, but because of the humble, loving obedience of Jesus Christ, it has now been earned!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Philippians 2:9

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,(Philippians 2:9, ESV)
"Therefore..." What is it "there for?"

According to the previous verse, Jesus has done the ultimate in an act of humble obedience. Now, Paul tells us that his obedience is has resulted in God's recognition of him. He has been highly exalted. On him a name has been bestowed that is above every name. Not meaning that he has a different name, but simply referring to the fact that his name is now a name that is above every other.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Philippians 2:8

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8, ESV)
How far was Jesus willing to humble himself? Was it far enough, just to be a man? Was it low enough to bear the frailty of humanity? How far did his Father call him to go?

This verse answers, for us, the extent of the humble obedience of Jesus Christ. Don't be confused by the way this is phrased. For our ears, "... to the point of death..." sounds like he came all the way up to that, but didn't cross over. That is not what this statement means. He was willing to go to death... even a humbling, humiliating death... a death on a cross. Like a common criminal, he was crucified.

No matter how much humility it might seem like it takes to be obedient to these commands of loving others and caring for others, it will never come to reach the extent of Christ's humble obedience.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Philippians 2:7

but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:7, ESV)
Being born...

The God of the Universe... the same person of the Trinity who spoke galaxies into existence, who formed man of the dust of the ground (John 1:3) ... the same one who met with Abraham (John 8:56) ... This same Jesus... was born!

What an example of humility!

Paul is telling us to put others before ourselves, to treat others as more significant (Philippians 2:3), to look to others' needs (Philippians 2:4), and he knows that this is difficult. So, he gives us an ultimate example, the example of Christ. Jesus was the very form of God and equality with God was not something that He would have to reach for, yet He can take on the form of a servant.... and be born. This is why my favorite "Nativity Story" is the one found in John's Gospel. It is wrapped up in the words, "... the Word became flesh..." (John 1:14)

The word that is translated "emptied" comes from a Greek word meaning, empty handed, destitute. In other words, He didn't bring anything with Him. He takes the form, the external appearance, of a servant... He did't come, choosing to be born in the house of a king... but of a lowly carpenter. And he is in the same physical form as any other man. The Creator  will now know the hunger, thirst, fatigue, and pain of any other man. He will also know the temptations of any other man. He truly is Immanuel -- God with Us! (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23)

When you are called upon by the Spirit of God to humble yourself and look to others, remember that there is one who has done this already for you.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Philippians 2:6

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (Philippians 2:6, ESV)
This is a continuation of the sentence in the previous verse, which ended with having the mind of Christ. Therefore, this verse is speaking about Jesus. This may seem to be phrased in an odd way, but what it means is that Jesus truly has the nature of God.  Equality with God is not something that Jesus would have to reach out for. It is His. He was God... He is God... He will always be God.

This verse is important for how it is setting up the next verse and beginning an illustration of humility that we are to follow. This is the example of humility that we will need if we are going to be obedient to the previous few verses of chapter two.

I feel the need to say, "Stay tuned for tomorrow's passage!"

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Philippians 2:5

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:5, ESV)
The word that is translated as "mind" comes form the word for the diaphragm or the midriff. If you think about this from the perspective of this time period and from a consideration of your own body, then you will understand this word. You might say, "Have your center be this way..."

Thayer's Greek dictionary defines this word this way, "...to have understanding, be wise ...to feel, to think ...to direct one's mind to a thing, to seek, to strive for."  It is easy to understand that the translators chose to use the word "mind," while other translators have used the word "attitude."  Thayer's goes on to add this to its definition, "...to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious."

The point here is that a church ought to be, each looking out for each other. Bearing one another's burdens, loving one another, caring for one another, forgiving one another, and comforting one another. The key to having this mind or attitude is that it is our in Christ Jesus. We will look to Him and see this demonstrated to perfection.

In D.A. Carson's commentary on Philippians, he uses the following quote to exemplify the difficulty of putting others before oneself:

"It takes more grace than I can tell, to play the second fiddle well."



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Philippians 2:4

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4, ESV)
The word translated "interests" is not in the original text. This could be read, "...look not only to yourself, but also to others." You can see that, even as we read this in English, the word "interests" is implied, but could also be substituted with words like "needs" or "wants".

What is important, is that this verse continues the previous thought of humility. This is a practical way to think of humble living. It isn't a complete abnegation of oneself. Everyone is naturally in tune with their own interests, needs, and wants because we live within ourselves. The way to humble living is to take yourself, out of yourself, and look through others' eyes.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3, ESV)
Wow.  Now Paul is getting practical. Now he has taken this teaching from the clouds to the ground... the nitty-gritty.

Don't let anything that you do... from the time you wake up, until the time you go to bed... be from selfish ambition or conceit.  Selfish ambition -- Thayer's Greek dictionary describes this as "electioneering or intriguing for office." It goes on to say that "This word is found before NT times only in Aristotle where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means." In this context, that is why it is translated as "selfish ambition." It is the actions or attitudes that want to promote oneself in the eyes of others. Conceit is similar -- it is the same attitude, regardless of action. It is to think of oneself at the top.

Instead of this, we ought to do the opposite. Christians, seeking to be counter-cultural, ought to come to situations in humility. We are to actually consider... to literally think of... others as being truly more significant than ourselves. (Compare to Matthew 20:25-28)

We need an example of this... a demonstration of this... Let us look to Jesus, as Paul will do shortly.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Philippians 2:2

complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. (Philippians 2:2, ESV)
This verse is overflowing with community themes:  same mind, same love, full accord, one mind, and all for a joy that is completed together.


  • "same mind" is the same understanding. 
  • "same love" is the same unconditional care for each other. 
  • "full accord" could also be translated ... same soul or same spirit.
  • "one mind" is of one understanding. 
So Paul says that these things will "complete my joy" or "fill up my joy". There is truly something to be said for a group that is like-minded. When you are in a crowd of people, all there for the same good purposes, there is something naturally invigorating about it. So much more so, when the Spirit of God is also included. 


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Philippians 2:1

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, (Philippians 2:1, ESV)
If... Then...

This is the format of a conditional statement. It's function is very basic, and just what common sense will tell you. If the first thing happens, then the second thing will happen. If the first thing is true, then the second thing will be true. If A, then B...

In this particular case, Paul has just been telling these Christians to live a life worthy of the Gospel (Philippians 1:27). He has told them to do this, primarily through their brave, unified stance together (Philippians 1:27-28). This verse starts with "So..." which could also be translated as "Therefore..." It means that this thought follows from the previous thought. In other words, because we are to live a life worthy of the Gospel, in a unified, brave stance together, this next statement naturally follows.

In verse 1, we have the "if" portion of this statement. In verse 2 will will see the logical connection, but for today, simply ask yourselves as Christians if you do have any of these things:

Do you have any encouragement in Christ? Have you ever been encouraged by Christ himself? Have you seen his Cross and his life and been lifted up?

Do you have any comfort from love? Has the love of Christ ever been any comfort to you? Have you ever considered all that he has done for you and felt or experienced comfort?

Have you participated in the Spirit? Not necessarily a feeling of participation, though that is not excluded, but have you ever found yourself doing or acting in such a way that you knew that this isn't really you? ...it had to have been the Spirit of God in you.

With each of these, have you ever experienced encouragement, comfort, and participation in the Spirit, through someone else? Has another member of the body of Christ ever shown you these things?

Have you ever, simply because you have faith in Jesus, experienced affection and sympathy?

In the next verse we will see what follows, but for today, simply ask yourself if you have these things. Instead of reading this verse as, "So if..." read it as "So since..." (Which is an alternate translation of the word that is translated "if".)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Philippians 1:30

engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:30, ESV)
This completes the sentence from verse 29 and it also completes chapter 1 of Philippians.

The conflict is not a physical fight with opponents, "... for we wrestle not against flesh and blood..." (Ephesians 6:12) Paul in engaged in a conflict against the Spiritual Powers of this world. He is fighting to continue spreading the gospel. The powers that be are aligned against him to stop the spread of the truth. Paul is tying up this section by going full circle. He began, thankful for their united effort to spread the Gospel. Now he is encouraging them to keep that battle going. Paul and these Philippian Christians are in it together.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Philippians 1:29

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, (Philippians 1:29, ESV)
"It has been granted to you..."

Hmm... It is a privileged gift to believe in Christ. What an honor! What a joy! To not only know the name of the savior of the world, but have His reality revealed to us in such a way that we have put all of our confidence in the work of Jesus Christ. But this is not the only gift that has been granted to us -- we have also been granted the opportunity to suffer for the sake of the name!

In Acts 5, after the Apostles have testified to the Jewish Council about the great realities of Jesus Christ, they are commanded to never speak about this again, and they they are beaten and released. After this beating we read in verse 41:
Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. (Acts 5:41, ESV)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Philippians 1:28

and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. (Philippians 1:28, ESV)
The beginning of this verse is the end of the previous sentence. Paul begins telling them that living a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in unity with other believers. This unity is not compromised in the face of opposition. The word for frightened means to be startled. Don't be taken off guard by the opposition.

Unified, un-startled Christians, by their very nature and existence, say something to everyone involved. To the opposition, it says, "You are condemned. You are headed to destruction." To the Christians it is reassurance. When they are united together and un-afraid of the consequences of being a Christian, it is a sign of genuine salvation.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Philippians 1:27

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, (Philippians 1:27, ESV)
"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ..." could be more literally translated as, "Only live as citizens of the gospel of Christ..." Saying it the other way is a great translation, especially for us because we don't see citizenship in the same light as these Philippian Christians would have.

A little history... In the city of Phillipi, all of its citizens had been granted Roman Citizenship. This was a great privilege because not everyone was granted the rights of citizenship. Phillipi had earned this special privilege because it had once been a Roman outpost. The city itself had been modeled after Rome, with the style of architecture and such. It is said that if one were to visit Phillipi, they would have felt like they were in Rome. If my memory serves me correctly, it had even held an unofficial title of "Little Rome."

Because of this, the people of Phillipi would have held in high regard the concept of citizenship. They would have wanted to live and act in a way that is worthy of Roman Citizenship. This sentiment is what Paul is drawing on as he encourages them to live a life worthy, not of Roman Citizenship, but of Gospel Citizenship. Thinking of all that Christ has done to bring us the good news, live a life worthy of that!

What a profound statement this actually is.

And how does he initially commend them to live a life that is worthy of this particular citizenship?  It is all about unity. Whether Paul is present with them or apart from them and in a different location, they are to stand firm, side by side, for the sake of this same Gospel.

As we progress through the rest of chapter one and into chapter two, we will see this theme of unity creep into the remainder of the conversation. Just don't forget that the foundational thought is to live worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Philippians 1:26

so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:26, ESV)
Continuing the sentence from the previous verse, Paul finishes the thought by saying that the goal is that they will glory in Christ Jesus... that they will have abundant reasons to glory in Christ Jesus... when Paul comes to them again.

When you go to visit people, does your life make Jesus look great? Do people walk away from encounters with thinking that God must be glorious?

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Philippians 1:25

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, (Philippians 1:25, ESV)
The conclusion is final in Paul's mind: He will remain here, at least for a little bit longer. The great benefits of leaving and going to be with Christ will have to wait. Notice, at the end of this verse, two things that he is remaining and continuing for: their progress and joy in the faith.

Paul is remaining, not to simply have more time to fellowship, not simply having more time to accomplish the things he wants to accomplish before he dies, not simply to complete a bucket-list of activities... No. Paul is staying to benefit their faith in Jesus Christ. Paul is staying so that they will advance in the faith and that they will have joy in the faith.

Why do you stick around?

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Philippians 1:24

But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. (Philippians 1:24, ESV)
In this phrase, I believe that we are hearing Paul come to the conclusion that he may have known all along. He is seeing the benefits of being done with this world, of heading to those heavenly places to be with Christ, of finishing his course... He can see it... almost taste it.

At the same time he is recognizing that there is still need here. There is still need with the Philippian Christians. There is still teaching that must be done, evangelism that needs to happen, training for future generations, writing that needs to be accomplished.

Remaining in the flesh is truly more necessary, not only for those Philippian Christians but also for us. There are several of Paul's letters that were written after this imprisonment.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Philippians 1:23

I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.(Philippians 1:23, ESV)
Can you feel Paul's tension?

What is truly marvelous is that Paul is teaching the Philippian Christians about the realities of life and death and service in the kingdom... but he isn't doing it from a lofty position at a Christian Institute or a Theological Seminary (though there isn't anything wrong with these things). He is doing it from a Roman Prison. He is living the lesson he is teaching.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Philippians 1:22

If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. (Philippians 1:22, ESV)
So, here is the balance for Paul: To live is Christ... To die is gain (Philippians 1:21). To be Christ in this world will be fruitful labor for Paul. It will mean that more of the gospel is being spread abroad, more people will hear the good news, more will come to believe in the one and only savior of the world: Jesus Christ.

As you read through these verses, you can almost feel Paul coming to the realization that he will stay here. He wants to go home, to be done with the labor, to be present with Christ, but almost like a dawning realization, he begins to understand that won't be the deliverance he will experience. He will most likely escape death this time, to continue in the labor. For Paul it is a Win, win situation.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Philippians 1:21

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21, ESV)
The Greek that is used here could more literally be translated, "To Live: Christ! To Die: Gain!"

The meaning here is clear: For Paul to live, well, that will be like sharing in the very person of Jesus Christ. To live is to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. To live is to be persecuted. To live is to potentially remain in prison to eventually be executed. To die... now that is gain. To die is to be removed from all of this. As I have heard before, Paul must've thought, when conversations of execution came up, "You can't threaten me with heaven..."

When Paul, under the inspiration of the Spirit, penned* these words, I wonder if he knew how much comfort they would bring to those who are suffering for Christ and those who are close to death?


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Philippians 1:20

as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. (Philippians 1:20, ESV)
Reading Paul's words in Philippians 1:19 and the beginning of verse 20, might lead you to suspect that Paul is asking / praying to be released from prison. Now, surely, that sort of deliverance is clearly included in the the thoughts and prayers of Paul and the Philippian church, but the last few words lay it out there, plain and simple. Paul's deliverance might come by life or by death.

His main concern though? It is not which form of deliverance that he experiences, but only that Christ will be honored in Paul's body.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Philippians 1:19

for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, (Philippians 1:19, ESV)
Verse 18 ended with, "Yes, and I will rejoice..." which should actually go with this verse. So, he is rejoicing that the gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed, but now he is going into another reason why he is rejoicing and continuing to rejoice.

Being in prison, it is not unusual at all that he knows they will be and have been praying for him. Even being confident in deliverance from this situation is absolutely fitting to the thought process. What will be interesting is what he considers to be his deliverance, which we will see in the next few verses.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Philippians 1:18

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.  Yes, and I will rejoice, (Philippians 1:18, ESV)
The source of Paul's joy in his circumstances, is that he can see the proclamation of Christ. It doesn't seem to matter to him what the motives of people are. He is looking beyond that at the workings of God, in spite of the motives of people.

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. 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Philippians 1:4

always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,
(Philippians 1:4, ESV)
This is a continuation of yesterday's passage... It is part of the same sentence. In yesterday's passage Paul began by saying, "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you..." (verse 3). Now he continues that sentence by telling us how he thanks God for them.

First "always" -- He always thanks God for them. It is happening all of the time!

Second "in every prayer of mine" -- When he is praying. So... he remembers them (verse 3) and this turns into a prayer of thanksgiving to God.

Third "for you all" -- not just the super Christians in Phillipi... but for all of them. Their church as a whole was praiseworthy.

Fourth "making my prayer with joy" -- These are joyful prayers. There is a genuine, deep-seated sense of happiness in his prayers for these people.

When you remember those who you are thankful for, pray for them, pray with joy. Turn those fleeting remembrances into prayers of thanksgiving to God.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Philippians 1:3

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,
(Philippians 1:3, ESV)
When Paul thinks of these Philippian Christians, he thanks God.

From the book of Acts, we learn that the first three Christians that we know about in the city of Phillipi are Lydia, a wealthy woman who was a seller of purple. Paul met her in the middle of a prayer meeting she was having with a few other ladies. Second we have a poor Greek slave girl that was caught up in fortune telling. Paul freed her from this demonic control, which in turn destroyed her profitability to her slave owners. This led to a riot in the city and Paul and Silas being thrown into prison. While there they met the jailer. When this guy thinks that Paul and Silas have escaped, he is ready to take his own life, but on realizing that they were still there, the jailer asks what he must do to be saved. This man becomes a Christian, along with his entire household.

So, this hodge-podge group of Christians (the rich lady from mainland Asia minor, the poor Greek slave girl, and the workin'-for-the-man roman soldier)  are among those whom Paul thanks God for.

Would Paul thank God for you?

Does your Pastor thank God for you?

Friday, June 02, 2017

Philippians 1:2

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:2, ESV)
This is the remainder of the greeting/introduction to Philippians. This is also very typical of Paul's greetings. He hopes and prays for both grace and peace.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Philippians 1:1

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
(Philippians 1:1, ESV)
This is a typical greeting by the Apostle. He refers to himself as a servant (or bond slave) of Christ Jesus. From this greeting, we can see that he is currently with Timothy. It is believed that Paul is in Prison in Rome during the writing of this letter, and he will make reference to such imprisonment later in this first chapter.

The saints at Philippi that we know of (from Acts) are Lydia. a seller of purple, a poor slave girl, who had been a fortune teller, and a  jailer, employed at the Philippian jail.