This Bible Study is part of the "Philippians" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
In this letter to the church at Philippi, we saw the beginning of a very personal letter from Paul. He appreciated the Philippians’ support, and wanted to encourage them to work together in unity and to continue in their spiritual growth. In Chapter 2, Paul continues with this theme of unity and harmony.
This is Jeff Fall. Last time we looked at Chapter 1 of the book of Philippians. In this letter to the church at Philippi, we saw the beginning of a very personal letter from Paul. He appreciated the Philippians’ support, and wanted to encourage them to work together in unity and to continue in their spiritual growth. In Chapter 2, Paul continues with this theme of unity and harmony.
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ…
Yes, there can be consolation and encouragement in Christ. As we live our lives as Christians, we can receive a very stable mindset—with joy and peace and self-control and all of the fruit of the spirit, or the evidence of the spirit, found in Galatians 5.
Philippians 2:1 (continued)
…and, if any comfort of love…
Everyone wants to be comforted in love. That is true in God’s way of life.
Philippians 2:1 (continued)
…if any fellowship of the Spirit [Fellowshipping through God’s spirit with our spiritual family brings stability to ourselves and to the Church.], if any affection and mercy.
We all receive and give mercy to others. It is stabilizing to us, and it is stabilizing to the Church.
Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
In effect, Paul was saying to the Philippians: "If you have found these benefits in your life, in your church, then make me truly happy by developing true unity." He was speaking to them just like a loving father.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit [Selfish ambition or conceit will destroy the fellowship of a church. It will destroy the unity God wants.], but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
That is true humility—getting our ego out of the way, esteeming others better than our self.
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Of course, this is speaking of outgoing concern, a basis for all of the spiritual Law of God—outgoing concern to God and to the rest of humanity as well.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.
Paul now demonstrates the same mindset in Jesus Christ. He said, "being… equal with God." Colossians 1:16 says that "by Him [Jesus Christ] all things were created that are in heaven and earth, visible and invisible." Jesus Christ was the member of the God family who created the entire universe, and the invisible spirit beings that we call angels.
But made Himself of no reputation [The Greek keno or kenos—to make empty. He emptied Himself as the Supreme Creator, the One who created the vast Universe. He emptied Himself to be born as a human being capable of dying and serving humanity in this way. So, He emptied Himself…], taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus Christ humbled Himself from a life as a God-being. He humbled Himself to become a human being just like you and me, and He gave His life. It says "even [to] the death of the cross"—a slow, agonizing death. At one point Jesus Christ prayed, as recorded in Mark 14:36: "Oh, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." He humbled Himself. He was willing to die a slow, agonizing death for your benefit and for my benefit.
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.
That name is of our Savior, our High Priest and our soon-coming King.
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.
"Those under the earth" refers to those dead and buried, many of them thousands of years ago, who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. This is speaking of a future resurrection. They will bend their knee to Jesus Christ.
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Every human being who has ever lived will have this chance someday.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
It takes work. It takes effort. We must struggle to overcome our nature.
For it is God who works in you both to will [So, it is God who will even give us the will to overcome.] and to do for His good pleasure.
God will give us the ability, if we trust Him, to do His will—to obey God and to fulfill His way of life.
Do all things without complaining and disputing.
There is no place in the Church for divisions—disputing, murmuring and arguing. We are being trained to work as a team in the Kingdom of God at Christ’s return.
That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation [Of course, we live in that generation now as we look around the world—a very perverse generation.], among whom you shine as lights in the world.
Elsewhere, Christ referred to us in John 12:36 as "sons" or "children" of the light. We are to walk in the Truth. We are to walk in the light, and reflect that Truth in how we live our life.
Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Paul really wanted to see all of the Philippians at the future resurrection when all of them—he hoped—would be resurrected together.
Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.
Even if his life was sacrificed on their behalf, he had a deep and abiding joy in their spiritual success.
For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.
Paul wanted to see the same confidence and the same joy in them.
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.
Paul had intended to send Timothy to Philippi, who would then bring word back to Paul to update him on the Philippian church.
For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.
Paul had total trust and confidence in Timothy. In 1 Timothy 1:2, Paul refers to Timothy as "my true son in the faith."
For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.
Apparently, many had come and gone in Rome as well. Some may even have fled when Paul was imprisoned. They may even have preached Christ to make names for themselves.
But you know his [Timothy’s] proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.
Timothy’s proven character was beyond questioning. His character was fixed—just as God wants us to fix that same character in our lives.
Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.
Timothy didn’t carry the letter, because Paul wanted him to stick around and find out the outcome of the legal case then going on in Rome with Paul’s imprisonment.
But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly.
Paul seemed confident that his release was likely. Other epistles support the belief that Paul was released, and traveled further throughout that area of the world.
Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need.
Epaphroditus had earlier brought Paul gifts—or provisions—from the Philippians. We will find that in Chapter 4.
Since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.
The Philippians had heard that Epaphroditus was very sick. This was quite distressing to them, and they wanted to know the truth.
For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
In actual fact, Epaphroditus came close to death, but God intervened and healed him. Of course, this was certainly a blessing for Epaphroditus, but also for Paul himself. He not only had the burden of his own imprisonment, but he also had concern for Epaphroditus as well as for the Philippians themselves.
Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful.
Paul felt so badly that the Philippians were very worried about the health and possible death of Epaphroditus that he sent Epaphroditus in a big hurry. He wanted him to get to Philippi quickly to reassure them.
Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.
Here Paul gives Epaphroditus a tremendous compliment. He gave all for the Work of God as done through Paul. Epaphroditus was present with Paul, and almost gave his life, so Paul wanted the Philippians to greet Epaphroditus—to encourage him and to be rejoicing with his return and his health.
This concludes Chapter 2 of Philippians. In the next segment, we will begin with Chapter 3.