Translations: 简体中文 繁體中文

Philippians 1 (web)

Fellowship in the Gospel

1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ;
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi,
with the overseers and deacons {or "servants"}:
1:2 Grace to you, and peace from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:3 I thank my God whenever I remember you,
1:4 always in every request of mine on behalf of you all making my requests with joy,
1:5 for your partnership {or "fellowship", "sharing."}
in furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now;
1:6 being confident of this very thing,
that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

1:7 It is even right for me to think this way on behalf of all of you,
because I have you in my heart, because,
both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel,
you all are partakers with me of grace.
1:8 For God is my witness, how I long after all of you in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus.
1:9 This I pray,
that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment;
1:10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent;
that you may be sincere and without offense to the day of Christ;
1:11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness,
which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Fearlessly Contend for the Gospel

1:12 Now I desire to have you know, brothers,
that the things which happened to me have turned out rather to the progress of the gospel;
1:13 so that it became evident to the whole praetorian guard,
and to all the rest, that my bonds are in Christ;

1:14 and that most of the brothers in the Lord, being confident through my bonds,
are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear.

1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even out of envy and strife,
and some also out of good will.
1:16 The former insincerly preach Christ from selfish ambition,
thinking that they add affliction to my chains;
1:17 but the latter out of love,
knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
1:18 What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth,
Christ is proclaimed. I rejoice in this, yes, and will rejoice.
1:19 For I know that this will turn out to my salvation,
through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
1:20 according to my earnest expectation and hope,
that I will in no way be disappointed, but with all boldness, as always,
now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death.
1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
1:22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will bring fruit from my work;

yet I don't make known what I will choose.
1:23 But I am in a dilemma between the two,
having the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
1:24 Yet, to remain in the flesh is more needful for your sake.

1:25 Having this confidence, I know that I will remain, yes,
and remain with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,
1:26 that your rejoicing may abound in Christ Jesus in me
through my presence with you again.

1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, that,
whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your state,
that you stand firm in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the gospel;
1:28 and in nothing frightened by the adversaries,
which is for them a proof of destruction, but to you of salvation, and that from God.
1:29 Because it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ,
not only to believe in him, but also to suffer on his behalf,
1:30 having the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear is in me.

Discussion Questions

vs 20 How would you like to die?
vs 23-26 Would you rather be alive or dead?
vs 27 What kind of conduct is worthy of the gospel?
vs 29 In what way is suffering for Christ a priviledge?
Would you like to see this as part of your lifestyle?
vs 29-30 Compare your life to Paul's. How do you measure up?



Php 1:1,2 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was on his second missionary journey that Paul first went to Philippi, which lies in Macedonia, having received a vision to do so, crossing the Aegean Sea. A vision appeared to Paul in the night. There was a man of Macedonia standing, begging him, and saying, "Come over into Macedonia and help us."  When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go out to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.  Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a straight course to Samothrace,  and the day following to Neapolis;  and from there to Philippi, which is a city of Macedonia, the foremost of the district, a Roman colony. We were staying some days in this city.  Acts 16:6-9 He journeyed there with Silas and Timothy.

The Aegean Sea represented a significant cultural boundary in the progression of the gospel westward towards Rome. To the east of it the culture was more oriental. Ideas were communicated more in the form of stories, parables, utilizing more of one's intuition. As so we note of the rhetoric utilized in the Old Testament and in Jesus' teachings. To the west was Greece, the intellectual and cultural center of western civilization. It was said that in conquering Greece, the Romans themselves were culturally conquerered. There was the home of Plato and Aristotle. How would the gospel be received in such an environment?

And as if the cultural boundary weren't significant enough, Paul's first encounter across the Aegean also involved a gender boundary as he preached to a Philippian woman - Lydia.

Acts 16:13-15 On the Sabbath day we went forth outside of the city by a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down, and spoke to the women who had come together. A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one who worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to listen to the things which were spoken by Paul.   When she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and stay." So she persuaded us.

They ran into trouble in Philippi after casting out a demon and were imprisoned which became their next mission field. They prayed and sang hymns publically. An earthquake then occurred which opened their cells. But rather than viewing this as a means of escape, as Peter had utilized earlier in Acts, they remained. Their jailer was so impressed with them that he and his household became Christians. And this was a significant issue the Lord dealt with as the gospel progressed closer to Rome. The Lord was directing them to submit to the governing authorities rather than trying to illegally escape. In fact Paul used his status as a Roman citizen to secure their freedom. And the Lord blessed their ministry. Such was the beginning of the church at Philippi.

Your Partnership in the Gospel

Php 1:3-5  I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now

Far from the concept of a clergy/laity division in which congregations are viewed as nothing much more than stupid sheep to be nothing more than lectured to and shorn, Paul view those he ministered to as partners in the gospel with himself. I expect those to whom I am writing to be partners in the gospel and not mere readers. And this should be the expectation and hope of all who are involved in Christian ministry, that all in the Christian community would together be partners in the gospel, actively involved in the ministry of the propagation of the gospel in some manner. And such activities should not be viewed jealously as competition, but rather welcomed as cooperation on a global scale.

However, realize that Paul is not thanking them for their partnership. He is thanking God. And this is characteristic of many of Paul's prayers of thanksgiving. If Christians are behaving as they should, it is God who should get the praise. For as we will learn in the next chapter, "it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." Php 2:13 Therefore let us make sure to give credit to whom credit is due - namely to God be the glory, great things he has done.

Confident of God's Work

Php 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Once a person is in the faith, God faithfully and persistently commits himself to completing the work that he started in that person. And this is a foundational concept for the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints in which it is inevitable that those who have been born of God will be sanctified. For what is the "good work" which was being done in them? It is the work of sanctification. John describes this more technically this way, speaking in a lifestyle sense, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because Godís seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:9 And of this you can be confident.

But again, this is an effect not born of human effort, though in fact effort is involved. It is an effect born of God - born of the regenerate nature imparted to genuine believers, which inclines and provokes us towards a lifestyle consistent with that of a child of God. Paul is confident of this because this is part of the promise of the gospel. The gospel is not just about justification - the forgiveness of sins. The gospel is also about God changing us inwardly to conform to the image of Christ.

Therefore if you are confident you are in the faith, and thus confident of being saved from God's wrath, you can also be confident that God will make you the kind of person of whom he is pleased. "The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." 1Th 5:24

The Affection of Christ

Php 1:7,8  It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in Godís grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

"Affection" is literally referring to one's internal organs, communicating the idea of one's personal or intimate feelings, which are often inexpressible or may not be so obvious on the surface. But this itself again is the work of God who sanctifies our feelings for one another. "Share" here is again the word previously translated "partner" or "fellowship" combined with the greek stem "sun" = "together". Thus Paul is saying that part of that common partnership in the gospel is in the common experiences and activities they share with Paul in promoting the gospel. For just as Paul publically defended and confirmed the gospel, so did they. And just as Paul suffered for his convictions, so did they. It was not that they did so vicariously through Paul, like one would watch a movie. But rather they were actively involved following Paul's example in the propagation of the gospel.

Now consider in what ways you might likewise be involved. How have you been persecuted as a consequence of trying to propagate the gospel? How have you been involved in defending the gospel? And by what means have you helped to confirm it?

Pray for a Discerning Love

Php 1:9-11 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christó to the glory and praise of God.

vs 9-11 The point of Paul's prayer was that the Philippians may gain insight into applications of love. For it is one thing to have genuine love, but it takes discernment in order to apply it properly. Without such discernment, love may be applied improperly or inefficiently. It's a matter of discerning between what is good and what is best.

Paul is speaking ideally here with respect to their behavior. He wants their behavior to be perfect, having no basis for blame. Of course the believers will be pure and blameless in God's sight in a positional sense, having been forgiven of all sin. But Paul is speaking here of their performance. These two are related, as for example, the Matthew 25 judgment reveals. If one has been forgiven of sin, they have also been born of God. And if they have been born of God, then there is an inevitable affect on their behavior indicative of children of God.

The "fruit of righteousness" spoken of in vs 11 is simply the outworkings of saving faith. For the faith that saves is a application-oriented faith. And Jesus says, "by their fruit you will recognize them." Mt 7:20 and also it says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

Persecutions which Serve to Advance the Gospel

Php 1:12,13 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

The eternal optimist, Paul looked beyond his difficulties with eyes of faith to the fruitfulness of his labors. Paul communicated the depth of his convictions in remaining steadfast in his faith despite the chains. And practically speaking it also allowed him an opportunity to preach to the Romans who guarded him. Literally he had a "captive" audience. In this way the gospel was spread to the whole palace guard.

We must learn to see the benefits of the difficulties we face. Are we living under humiliation? That's good! It develops humility. Are we being persecuted for our beliefs? That's good! If we react properly, it will communicate conviction. Persecutions are to be viewed as opportunities to communicate our convictions. As you run into difficulties in life, consider how each of them may serve to advance the gospel. And be assured that if you suffer for the gospel, you will be vindicated.

Courage Invokes Conviction

Php 1:14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

Courage is essential in communicating the gospel with conviction. Even Paul requests "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." Ephesians 6:19,20

It takes courage just to speak the gospel to others. But also courage itself communicates. In Acts 4, in asking God to help them preach, the Christians prayed thusly:

And even the last verse in Acts emphasizes this boldness, speaking of Paul: On the other hand, cowards will be the first to get thrown into the lake of fire. Now if you would like your fellow Christians to boldly speak the Word of God, the best encouragement for them is by doing so yourself.

Motives are Secondary in Evangelism

Php 1:15-18  It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice

There are people who preach the gospel telling people the right information, but having a wrong motivation. One must be careful not to misjudge others with regards to motivation. In fact Paul himself advises, "judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of menís hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God."1Cor 4:5 But if motivations are obvious and if one has proper discernment as Paul does, one can often recognize motives.

Now Paul is not speaking of false teachers who communicate wrong information as they preach a false gospel. If the gospel is being communicated correctly, Paul is encouraged. Nor is he envious or jealous of the ministry of others. He could have been bitter at the fact that some of these preachers didn't respect him, but rather saw themselves as competing with him for popularity. Perhaps there were professional Christians, being payed for their preaching who felt insecure at the fact that Paul ministered free of charge, and so tried to make trouble for him. Perhaps they criticized him for being in prison as if he was guilty of some crime and should be disqualified to preach.

But despite the fact that there are many even today who preach out of selfish ambition and impure motives, we should be encouraged that at least they are preaching. The vast majority of Christians aren't even doing that. Surprisingly we learn that it's better that the gospel be preached out of bad motivates than not preached at all.

Deliverance by Life or Death

Php 1:19-20  for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

By "deliverance", Paul means his release from prison - whether alive or through death. I'm reminded of a Christian woman and her sister in a German prison camp. Her sister had a vision that she would be released the next day. The next day she died. The Christian considers death simply as a doorway to eternity. It is not a threatening thing, as non-Christians may view it fearfully. Rather death is the way home.

This is not to say that Christians should be suicidal. And Paul is not speaking in this manner. (When he speaks of "choice" in vs 22, he is speaking of preference.) Rather he is speaking of being put to death, as Christ was, as a result of persecution, and not as Judas was by suicide. What kind of death would most glorify God? That was Paul's concern. The blood of the martyrs became the seed of the Church.

What also stands out here is Paul's expectation. What would be your expectations in such a circumstance? Many Christians have said, "I don't know if I could go through that!", but Paul was confident that he would have sufficient courage. However it was not self-confidence, of which many think one needs to endure. No, it was Paul's experience that "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1Cor 10:13

Life after Death

Php 1:21-24 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;  but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

Thus it was both gain for Paul and for the Church if he died. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24 But then again, if he lived he could also be fruitful as he had been in his ministry. This is the problem that those who try to destroy the church face. If they leave it alone, it grows. And if they try to kill it, it grows. There is no stopping people of faith.

Paul is speaking of his preference here. If he dies, then he is with Christ in paradise, just as Jesus said to the thief on the cross, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43 But this idea has caused some problems with those who believe in soul sleep, in which we do not meet Jesus until the resurrection on the last day. These verses disprove the idea of "soul-sleep".

Knowing God's Will

Php 1:25,26  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

Paul concluded that it would be better if he remain for their sakes. And if that was best for the Church, then that was what was going to happen. This was a principle Paul used in determining God's will. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."Romans 8:28  Paul was not fatalistic as if God worked randomly, or as if God didn't get involved in manipulating circumstances. But he knew that God would work for his good and for the good of the Church. Therefore in considering God's will for your own life, consider the impact upon the Church.

A Manner Worthy of the Gospel

Php 1:27,28 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be savedó and that by God.

 There is a conduct which is worthy of the gospel, as he also mentions in Eph 4:1 "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Paul was the example, as was Jesus Himself. Paul realized, as should we all, that such a lifestyle doesn't come naturally. Christians need to be exhorted, urged and prompted into it. He writes to the young Christians in Thessalonica "encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory." 1Th 2:12 Therefore encourage one another along these lines. Else sheep left to themselves without instruction may wander off aimlessly.

Now in particular here Paul was emphasizing having courage, boldly proclaiming the gospel, which is the theme of this chapter, and indeed characteristic of a conduct worthy of the gospel. Courage not only communicates conviction, but condemnation, which is an essential aspect of the gospel message often not communicated well these days.

The Gift of Suffering

Php 1:29,30  For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Suffering for Christ is a priviledge and honor. It is contrary to the pleasure seeking, feel good, health and wealth obsessed versions of Christianity one may find today. If you're not suffering for Christ, then you may be doing something wrong. For it is written, "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." 2Tim 3:12,13 There's a fellowship in suffering, not only with other Christians but with Christ. Paul writes later in this letter, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death" Php 3:10 And "if we are children, then we are heirsó heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Rom 8:17

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jan 28,2022