Introduction: Paul writes a thank-you letter to the believers at Philippi for their help in his hour of need, and he uses the occasion to send along some instructions on Christian unity. After difficulties in the city of Philippi (Acts 16:12), Paul built a strong bond with the converts there.
Verse 1 – Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Verse 2 – grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 3 – I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
Verse 4 – always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,
Verse 5 – for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
Verse 6 – being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
The Philippians first heard the gospel about ten years earlier when Paul and his companions visited and founded the church. The God who began a good work in them and us, would continue throughout our life-time. His work in us began when we first believed.
Verse 7 – just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.
Verse 8 – For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.
Verse 9 – And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,
As a Christian grows and matures, their heart and mind will grow together in love for Christ and the love of others. We are to be united in love and that love will grow for others.
Verse 10 – that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
As Christians, we are to test that which is true and genuine. We are to know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. Yes we are to judge all things according to truth and don’t let the gospel ever offend you.
True sincerity implies: truly converted; motives are pure; conduct is not deceitful or manipulative; blameless in offending others.
Verse 11 – being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
The “Fruits of righteousness,” includes all of the character traits that follow from a right relationship with Jesus Christ.
Verse 12 – But I want you to know brethren, that the things which happen to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,
(Paul’s difficulties had opened new opportunities to spread the gospel.)
Verse 13 – so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to the rest, that my chains are in Christ;
Paul was in prison because he preached Christ, not because of any crime. Paul was in a house but still confined to a guard, who was a witness to all he did and said.
Verse 14 – and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
People watch us and listen to what we say when we go through difficult times. They will either see true faith that will encourage them, or they will hear complaining that they want no part of. The choice is ours, how react to hardships.
Verse 15 – Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will:
Verse 16 – The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains;
Paul was talking about the teachers or preachers who had come in after he left, found out he was in prison, and were trying to build a reputation for themselves. It seems there were some who were jealous of Paul and this was a good opportunity to diminish what Paul had taught beforehand. The had no real regard for the welfare of the church.
Verse 17 – but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
Verse 18 – What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
Paul accepted the message from both groups. Trusting God’s sovereignty, he refused to condemn improper motivations as long as the end result was Christ proclaimed.
Verse 19 – For I know that this will turn out for my salvation through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
Verse 20 – according to my earnest expecting and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
Verse 21 – For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
This was not Paul’s final imprisonment in Rome, but he didn’t know that . His prayer was that when he stood trial, that he would speak courageously for Christ and not be ashamed. Whether he lived or died, he wanted to exalt Christ.
Paul looked at life through an eternal perspective. Paul’s whole purpose in life was to speak out boldly for Christ and to become more like Him. When we are ready to face where we are going to spend eternity, then we can live our life to what really counts.
Verse 22 – But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.
Paul wasn’t going to just sit in prison and wait to die. Whether he remained alive or whether they executed him, his labor of spreading the gospel would bring forth fruit.
Verse 23 – For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
Verse 24 – Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
Very few people desire to die. But Paul had such a desire to be with Christ, it overwhelmed him. And yet he had a strong desire also to spread the gospel.
Verse 25 – And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,
Verse 26 – that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
Paul’s confidence came from knowing God still had work for him to do, so he would remain alive.
Verse 27 – Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
Verse 28 – and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation and that from God.
Our conduct and speech is to reflect Christ. We are to stand firm in the beliefs of the gospel and don’t be too concerned of what is happening outside the church. Stay in unity with other believers and fight the good fight of faith.
Verse 29 – For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
Verse 30 – having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Paul is talking about the conflict of his conflict of living and continuing preaching or dying and being with Christ. (He is not talking about committing suicide. His death might come through execution from the Romans, not by his own hand.) If you are truly born-again, you will suffer persecution, maybe not unto death, but you will face trials and situations that will make you wonder why. The Christian life is not easy to live. You may feel like you are always on display, people watching to see how you react to certain situations. But know this, Christ said He would never abandon us, and the stronger stand you take in your beliefs and faith , the more times you will be victorious over every situation!