This Bible Study is part of the "Philippians" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
Philippi, which was the city of the Philippians, was a city in Macedonia near modern Greece about ten miles from the Aegean Sea. Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi while he was in prison the first time—approximately 59 to 61 AD.
Greetings! I am Jeff Fall with the Living Church of God. In this series of Bible study commentaries we will be studying the book of Philippians. Philippi, which was the city of the Philippians, was a city in Macedonia near modern Greece about ten miles from the Aegean Sea. Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi while he was in prison the first time—approximately 59 to 61 AD. This was ten years after Paul had founded the church in Philippi. Apparently, the Philippians were a joy to Paul. He appreciated them and their support, and wanted to encourage them to keep the true faith of God and to work together in harmony. This was the most personal letter that Paul had written to the churches in the New Testament era.
We will begin with Chapter 1, Verse 1.
Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ [Paul mentions that Timothy is with him and Paul refers to them as servants or bond slaves of Jesus Christ.], to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: [Notice that saints can be living. They were living in Philippi. Saints are not saints just at the point of death. There are living saints.] Grace to you [Grace is unmerited blessings and favor from God.] and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
He was wishing the Philippians inner peace—that calmness, mental peace and stability that we all want.
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy.
Paul was thankful for them, and they were a joy to him. The Philippians were not a problem like some of the other churches were. Paul was very thankful for their support.
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.
Their fellowship in the Gospel was their life—not just some abstract theology, one day a week. It was their life together—the way of life.
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.
As Hebrews 13:5 tells us, once God has begotten us with His Spirit He will never leave us or forsake us, once He has begun that process in our life. This is God’s promise to us. Of course, it is possible for us to leave God, but God gives us that assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us.
Just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart [Paul was speaking of his heart, his love for the brethren. God’s spiritual Law is summarized by outgoing concern—that is love, fulfilled in the Law of God.], inasmuch as both in my chains [Paul was imprisoned in Rome at that time.] and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.
They were partakers, with Paul, of the grace of God, of the grace of Jesus Christ. God pours out His forgiveness—even undeserved forgiveness—and His Spirit and, eventually, the undeserved blessing of eternal life.
For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.
Paul had a very strong emotional bond with the Philippians. He had affection for them.
And this I pray, that your love may abound…
Paul’s prayer for them included several requests. He asked "that your love may abound"—asking for the fulfillment of God’s spiritual Law by their love—their outgoing concern for God and for their brethren and for all humanity.
…still more and more in knowledge [That knowledge of God’s way of life and God’s spiritual Laws is the foundation of God’s way of life.] and all discernment, [That discernment is a mind set that goes far deeper than the superficial.] that you may approve the things that are excellent [In other words, prioritize correctly in your life the things that are excellent.], that you may be sincere [wholehearted or genuine] and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness [obedience to God] which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, [Paul’s imprisonment was the door to spreading God’s Word to the Roman court and that area of the world.] so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Paul knew that God was working it all out for His purpose—for God’s purpose. Paul knew well his own words found in Romans 8:28: "All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
And most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Others were inspired by Paul’s example. He was in chains, yet he was enthused by the chance to do the Work of God.
Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife…
There were two types of ministry extant at that time. "Some… preach[ed] Christ even from envy and strife." Some were trying to inflate their own egos and "to be somebody."
…and some also from good will.
Others were truly motivated to do the will of God.
The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains.
Some were really motivated by personal gain, especially seeking their own prestige. They apparently sought to increase their influence and stature while Paul was imprisoned.
But the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
The true servants of God work from the basis of love—from outgoing concern.
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.
Those pretending to preach from outgoing love and concern must at least have fulfilled the overall message.
For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
It will all work out for the good. This is repeating again Romans 8:28: "All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
Paul was so confident in God’s purpose that he was determined to honor God even in his death if he were to die. In Paul’s mind, there was no doubt about his future resurrection at Christ’s return. It was real to him.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Paul had true vision. He knew that if he died, at the very next moment of his consciousness he would be resurrected in the Kingdom of God.
But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.
There would be additional work accomplished if Paul were to live. He was not sure what God’s answer would be, but he was willing to live on and to accomplish more of God’s purpose.
For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
Paul referred to departing this life and being with Christ. What did he mean by this—to depart this life to be with Christ? We find in many other scriptures, including Ecclesiastes 9:5, that "the dead know nothing." At the moment of their death they lose consciousness. Christ clarified this when He said in John 3:13 that "no one has ascended to heaven." Not Abraham, not Isaac, not David, not any of the prophets—no one has ascended to heaven. They are dead and buried to this day. Clearly, the dead are still in the grave after death. Paul recognized that after dying, he would at the next moment of his consciousness be resurrected, to be with Christ at His return.
Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
Paul knew that the Philippians still needed his guidance and his concern and his teaching.
And being confident of this, I know that I [Paul] shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again. [Paul hoped to visit the Philippians again if God was willing.] 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.
One spirit, one mind, striving together—unity is so crucial to the Church of God, to the people of God, in God’s sight.
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.
The Philippians’ fearlessness was a proof—or a sign—to their adversaries, of those adversaries’ eventual destruction and downfall. That same fearlessness was also a clear sign of the Philippians’ ultimate success and salvation. God was with them.
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.
Being tested and tried refines our character and prepares us for God’s family. Paul also said in Romans 8:18: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Of course, Paul was referring to the eventual resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ.
Having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Paul and the Philippians had the same conflict. They had the same spiritual battle that we all have. Life can be a struggle, but God promises the victory if we stick with Him, and if we remain faithful throughout life.
We will continue with Chapter 2 in the next segment.