1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
The Advance of the Gospel
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
To Live Is Christ
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
Philippians 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It’s known as Paul’s letter of joy. It speaks personally to the people but also of his own circumstances. Circumstances he has not allowed to dictate his outlook! in fact, the words rejoicing or joy are written 16 times in 4 chapters. The entire letter shines brightly to look beyond where we are and find the joy of Jesus.
What makes this so profound is it’s written while sitting in chains in a Roman prison. Paul had returned to Jerusalem and was arrested by some Jews for preaching the Gospel. He appealed to Caesar and off he was sent. Initially, he was put under house arrest awaiting trial. It would be during this time God worked despite Paul’s circumstances and he was allowed a certain degree of freedom. He was allowed to have visitors and wrote letters. More on point, he preached to the listeners, which amazingly was the entire Roman palace guard. Several of these men would come to know Christ.
The church in Philippi was the first established on the European continent during Paul’s second missionary journey. They had become a great source of encouragement and love for him and had even sent money to help. Unlike the letter to the Ephesians which was to be circulated, this was personal for this church.
Throughout his life, Paul had experienced everything imaginable. He struggled with poverty and had wealth. He had been persecuted, beaten, and left for dead. Paul had seen hundreds come to Jesus. He had preached, taught mentored and continued to encourage people despite wherever or whatever circumstance he found himself. For as he writes in this letter, “To live is Christ and die is gain” his mindset was always that Jesus be proclaimed. It was what drove him no matter what affliction came to his person.
All of us face to some degree some of the same highs and lows. We are on the mountain top and can be plummeted to the valley at the blink of an eye. Those valley times often dictate our outlook as we look at circumstances. For Paul, he never lost his focus. He worked through the situations but kept his eyes firmly on Jesus and the calling upon his life.
As he would write in the third chapter, it really sums up so much.
“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him… that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death to His death in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”Philippians 3:8-11
As you read this letter may Jesus Christ turn your eyes toward Him. May you find joy despite what the circumstance which bombards you. May your focus be fine tuned. Above all, Jesus is in control. He is aware of everything about you. Be filled with joy and rejoice you have an Advocate who is right now interceding for you and has a mission no matter where you may be.
Philippians 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
He who began a good work…
Paul qualifies the promise of God completing a good work with a specific view. He says “in view of your participation in the Gospel from the first day until now.” That is directly set in front of us as readers before the good work. “God started the work in your heart, and Philippi, you responded.” This is important because not everyone responds. We know this. Not everyone is an active participant. A lot of people want to be saved, but not a lot of people want to participate.
Why does Paul qualify the good work with a specific view? We learn in Chapter 4 that the church here in Philippi was the only church to support Paul with multiple gifts. In his own words, no other church gave to Paul. We could assume it’s a financial gift, but we don’t know with certainty. Regardless, we all know that you can tell a lot about where a person’s heart is by looking at their bank account. Give me your checkbook or debit card and I can tell you what’s important to you. The Philippians believed in Paul’s Gospel message and they didn’t just talk about it. They literally put their money where their mouth was.
This is exactly why Paul clarifies the source of his thankfulness in verse 17. He says, “not that I seek the gift itself.” Sure, he was tremendously grateful for it. But Paul, even in the verses leading up to this passage, stated that he has learned to live in all circumstances. It didn’t matter if he was hungry or full, living in abundance or having need – in the end, the Lord had strengthened Paul to find joy in everything.
What he is really excited about is the fact that their hearts were stirred to give and receive in the participation of the Gospel. By this evidence, Paul knew that Jesus Christ had dug himself deep into their hearts. He was most excited about the spiritual freedom they had to give, participate, and embody Christ without obligation or compulsion. He knew that through their faithful giving and receiving, Christ was doing a work, and that work was being crafted in them towards completion.
The reason all this is important is because people use this verse to describe many things that lack context. For those who are faithful participants in the Gospel, out of the joy of Jesus, He will complete the good work He started.