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.