Posts Tagged ‘Philippians’

To live is Christ, to die is gain

In the next chunk of Philippians (1:12-26), Paul faces three kinds of opposition.

(1) Opposition from outside the Christian Community (1:12-14). He is in prison for preaching the gospel.

(2) Opposition from inside the Christian Community (1:15-18a ). Some people are preaching Christ out of selfish ambition, envy, rivalry, thinking they may even be able to stir up trouble for Paul while he is in chains.

(3) Death (1:18b-26 ).The outcome of Paul’s trial is yet to be decided, so he knows death is very much a possibility for him.

And Paul’s response to all of this opposition, amidst even fellow brothers in Christ who are stirring up trouble for him, is extraordinary. He has one concern, and it is the GOSPEL. He rejoices in the gospel going out! See verses 13-14, his imprisonment has meant the whole palace guard have heard about Jesus Christ (likely about 2,000 soldiers according to William Taylor’s commentary), and other Christians in Philippi have been spurred on to preach because of Paul being in prison.

In verse 18, we see Paul’s response to the Christians who are preaching out of envy. And this is outrageous stuff. Paul declares that ‘The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice’. Once again, Paul rejoices because of the gospel going out to unbelievers. He really doesn’t seem bothered in the slightest about his own reputation; he’s in it for the fame of God’s name.

And upon facing death, he fears nothing, and more surprisingly, he even looks forward to it, knowing what is ahead. He shows that his life on this earth is all about proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. ‘If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me’ (v22); If God preserves his life after this imprisonment, he will continue to proclaim Jesus (which is exactly what happens), but if he dies, Paul will have gained something far better (v25), Christ himself, face to face forever.

Have a think about how you can have a greater concern for the proclamation of the gospel. Even amidst the troubles you face today, how can the gospel be proclaimed despite, and even through, those troubles?

Phil 1:1-11; God’s started so He will finish

I’ve been going through the wonderful book of Philippians with a friend over this first term and I intend to blog a short reflection on each passage as we go along, please feel free to interact with what I post.

In the first verse of Philippians 1, we have Paul’s classic address to a church, and it is worth pointing out that in verse 1 he addresses the letter to all the saints in Philippi, every follower of Jesus, not just to the overseers and deacons.

In verses 3-6 he sets the tone for this letter; joy. Paul uses the word joy or rejoice 17 times in the letter (I think). What kind of joy is going to be expressed in this letter? Well, it’s going to be rejoicing in God, and more specifically in this case joy in God for the good work that the Philippian Church is engaging in. Paul’s joy is in the partnership of the Philippian church; they are standing at the side of Paul, praying for Him, giving generously to the work of the gospel (cf. 2 Cor 8:2-5) and sharing in the work of gospel partnership. They even face the same trials as Paul for the sake of the gospel (see Phil 1:30).

In verse 5 and 6, we have three time periods that Paul is rejoicing in God’s work. Can you spot them? In v5, we have gospel partnership from the ‘first day’ until ‘now’, and in v6 Paul is utterly confident that God will complete their life of good work until the ‘day of Jesus Christ’, until Christ returns, or they die to go and be with Him. It is important to notice that Paul thanks God for the Philippians, he doesn’t just heap praise on the Philippians. We should spend more time praising God for growth in the lives of Christians and their ministries than heaping praise on them, which could lead to pride (not that we shouldn’t thank and praise people for such things, we should – see ch2:29) So the big picture in Philippi, God started the church in Philippi, God has sustained the church until this point in time and God will bring it to completion. The same can be said of the Christian believer, and we can take great confidence in the Spirit’s work to preserve us until we meet our Lord. Jesus says ‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand’ (John 10:28).

Paul is in Prison in Rome and yet the Philippians are standing beside him still (v7). This is amazing partnership, what a gem of a church! Philippi was a part of the Roman Empire and their reputation is at risk, yet here they are sharing in the grace of God with Paul. And Paul finishes this opening chunk by praying for an abundance of love in the Philippians. He basically prays for a bumper harvest of righteousness. Paul is not content to say to the Philippians “Well done, you faithful servants of Christ, put your feet up”. He doesn’t even ask God to continue their good work, he boldly asks for more! In light of the ‘day of Christ’ (v10), he wants the Philippians’ love to abound more! And notice that in v11, the fruit of righteousness is only available through Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. There is no righteousness attainable outside of Christ. He alone is our righteousness. Praise be to Him.

Reflection:

(1) How does your life or your church match up to the kind of gospel partnership that Paul speaks of here?

(2) Do you praise God for Christians partnering together in the gospel much?