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.