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THE BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS
Gain (Phil. 1:12-18)
Victor M. Eskew
A. “Paul’s purpose in this section is to update the Philippians concerning his situation and calm their fears about his confinement” (Stewart, 172).
1. The Philippians love Paul. When they heard of his imprisonment, they were deeply concerned. They dispatched Epaphroditus to take Paul a gift.
2. Up to this point in time, they had not heard back from either man. Paul wanted to let them know how things were going.
B. Paul models for the Philippians the right kind of attitude toward both suffering and rival Christians.
C. NOTE: The main concern of Paul’s life was not his physical well-being, the fulfillment of fleshly desires, but the advancement of the gospel of Christ.
D. LESSON: In our suffering sometimes divine purposes are fulfilled.
E. Outline of the section:
i. THE EXPANSION OF THE GOSPEL (Phil. 1:12)
ii. THE EVIDENCE OF GAIN (Phil. 1:13-18)
A. Palace (Phil. 1:13)
B. Preachers (Phil 1:14-18)
1. Confidence of preachers (Phil 1:14)
2. Categories of preachers (Phil 1:15-17)
3. Celebration of Paul (Phil. 1:18).
I. THE EXPANSION OF THE GOSPEL (Phil. 1:11)
But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which have happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.
A. Awareness: “I would ye should understand…”
1. This is a transitional phrase for Paul.
a. It alerts the readers that new information is forthcoming.
b. Paul used this phrase in other epistles (I Cor. 11:3; 15:1; II Cor. 8:1).
c. He also used the negative phrase: “I do not want you to be ignorant” (Rom. 1:13; 11:25; I Cor. 10:1; II Cor. 1:8; I Thess. 4:13).
a. Strong (1097): to know, to be aware of
b. Thayer: to know, perceive, have knowledge of
B. Address: “…brethren…”
1. Paul notes the relationship that they share as kinsmen in Christ.
a. God is their Father.
b. Jesus Christ is their elder brother.
c. They are brothers in Christ.
2. “It emphasizes Paul’s equality with them, rather than superiority” (Stewart, 174).
C. Afflictions: “…the things which have happened unto me…”
1. Many things had happened to Paul that put him in this present circumstance.
a. He had been falsely accused by the Jews.
b. His life had been threatened by the Jews.
c. He had to appeal unto Caesar.
d. His trip to Rome had been very dangerous and life threatening.
e. His freedom was taken from him and he was chained.
f. His sentence at Caesar’s hand could have brought death.
2. “Have you ever noticed how often it happens that the very calamity that brought trouble becomes the source of blessing?” (Gutzke, 32).
D. Advancement: “…have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.”
1. In this hardship, the gospel advanced.
2. Two definitions:
a. Have fallen out: to come into being, arise, serve, help
1) The afflictions helped the spread of the gospel. They were the thing that allowed to gospel to go to certain places that otherwise might not have heard the message.
2) See Acts 8:1, 4
And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles….Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.
1) Strong (4297) and Thayer: progress, advancement
2) Two illustrations (Stewart, 175):
a) A nautical term: Making headway, even against contrary winds
b) A military term: Soldiers cutting a path through a forest so their army could continue its advancing march
3. Paul’s confinement “fueled the flame” of gospel preaching (Stewart, 175).
a. The fulfillment of Jesus’ words (Luke 21:12-13)
But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
b. Even though the apostle was bound, the Word of God was not (II Tim. 2:9)!
Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds, but the word of God is not bound.
c. The gospel is what is being spread.
1) The gospel is more than just the “story” of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
2) It involves all that man must do to receive the benefits of this sacri-fice in their lives. It also involves what must be done after one has become a child of God.
3) The gospel is the New Covenant, the New Testament, and the Law of Christ.
II. THE EVIDENCE OF GAIN (Phil. 1:13-18)
A. Palace (Phil. 1:13)
So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places.
1. Paul again reveals that his imprisonment was for the cause of Christ, “…my bonds in Christ.”
2. These bonds were “manifest” in all the palace.
1) Strong (5318): shining, that is apparent, publically, externally
2) Thayer: apparent…known…to be plainly recognized
b. “It did not take very long for those who guarded Paul to realize that he was not guilty of any crimes, such as theft, murder, rebellion, or arson. His confinement was for the sake of his religious beliefs, that is, his faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God” (Stewart, 177).
c. See I Peter 4:15-16
But let none of your suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as a busy body in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
3. His bonds were manifest in the palace.
1) The Greek word is “praetorian.” Some translations use this word instead of palace.
2) The word has several definitions. The one here refers to the Praetorian Guard.
a) In 2 B.C. the emperor Augustus organized this guard.
b) It was composed of 9 cohorts of 1,000 men each for a total of 9,000 men.
c) These were elite soldiers, well paid and dressed in classy uniforms.
d) This guard was located in the city of Rome.
b. How were his bonds spread through the guard?
a) Guard: Why are you in chains?
b) Paul: For the cause of Christ.
c) Guard: Who is Christ?
d) Paul: Preaches the gospel unto them.
2) Houlder: “In getting himself put in prison, and in Rome above all, he has acted the Trojan horse, entering into the very heart of the Gentile world to which Christ dispatched him as an apostle” (as quoted by Stewart, 178).
4. This reference to the spread of the gospel among the elite guard of Rome would have been of great interest to the Philippians.
a. Some of the Praetorian guard were recruited from Macedonia. The ones to whom Paul spoke could have been family or friends of the Philippians.
b. Too, many of the veterans of the Praetorian guard retired in the city of Philippi. Some of these older military men may have known some with whom Paul spoke.
5. The palace was not the only place and people impacted by Paul while in prison. He says that his bonds were also manifest “in all other places.”
a. Acts 28:30-31 sheds some light on Paul statement.
And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house and received all that came unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding.
b. Those who came to Paul were from many places scattered throughout the Empire. They would leave and tell others about Paul and why he was in prison.
6. LESSON: Could it be that the church today is suffering from a lack of persecution?
a. We have it too easy and too simple.
b. Some believe that they are really doing something extra if they attend Bible classes and worship services.
c. Our lack of suffering has diminished our lack of consecration to the Lord.
d. Our lack of consecration is that which hinders the spread of the gospel.
e. If we had persecution, our message just might be spread abroad again.
B. Preachers (Phil. 1:14-17)
1. Confidence of preachers (Phil. 1:14)
And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
a. This passage is filled with thoughts about courage.
1) Waxing confident
a) Strong (3982): convince…to rely (by inward certainty)
b) Thayer: persuade, to trust, have confidence, be confident
2) Much more bold
a) Much more
- Strong (4056): more superabundantly
- Thayer: more abundantly, more earnestly, more exceedingly
- Strong (5111): boldness, to venture, to be courageous
- Thayer: not to dread or shun through fear, to be bold, to bear one’s self boldly, deal boldly
3) Without fear
a) Strong (870): fearlessly
b) Thayer: without fear, boldly
Because of my imprisonment, a great number of the brethren have developed renewed trust and confidence, and are more superabundantly courageous and are more earnestly preaching the word without any fear of the consequences.
b. Paul begins by noting that “many of the brethren” were emboldened.
1) There seems to have been a large Christian presence in the city of Rome.
2) Too, numerous visitors had come to the apostle while he was in prison.
3) He says “many,” but not all. The “bad” experiences of some only cause some to grow more fearful and more unfaithful.
c. Their boldness was in speaking the word.
1) This is what was supposed to be proclaimed (Mark 16:15; II Tim. 4:2).
2) In this context, we learn that the gospel, the word, and preaching Christ are synonymous.
d. They were speaking without fear.
1) Courage always involves some type of risk, whether it is social shame or bodily harm or death.
2) These individuals were preaching without any fear of the conse-quences that might be brought to bear upon them.
1) The faithfulness of a few Christians in the midst of tribulation can motivate other brethren to persevere in their own faith.
2) Carson: “A whiff of persecution sometimes puts backbone into otherwise timid Christians” (as quoted by Stewart, 184).
2. Categories of preacher (Phil. 1:15-17)
Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add afflictions to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
1) Paul lamented the poor motives of a group of evangelists.
2) Four terms are used to describe “how” these men were preaching, or, “why” they were preaching.
+ Strong (5355): ill will…that is, jealousy (spite)
+ Thayer: envy…prompted by envy
- Envy carries the idea of “resentment at the success of others.”
- It could involve causing harm to the one envied (Mark 15:10).
For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.
- These men were well aware of Paul’s ministry.
+ Perhaps they were jealous of his success.
+ They may have been envious of the honor Paul was receiv-ing even while in bonds.
+ Strong (2054): a quarrel…wrangling :- contention, debate, strife, variance
+ Thayer: contention, strife, wrangling
- Other translators may have “rivalry” or “partisanship.”
- These men did not preach to build up the kingdom, but to win converts to “their number.” These men were more interested in advancing self rather than the gospel.
- NOTE: Both envy and strife are found in vice lists, lists of sins of the flesh, that describe those who are controlled by their own evil desires (Rom. 1:29; Gal. 5:19-21; I Tim. 6:4).
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers.
+ Strong (2052): faction
+ Thayer: courting a distinction, a desire to put self forward, a partisan or factious spirit
- New Testament examples:
+ The elders of Ephesus were warned of this (Acts 20:30).
Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
+ Diotrephes loved to have the preeminence among them (III
d) Not sincerely
+ Strong (55): purely, honestly
+ Thayer: chaste, clean, pure, with sincerity
- LESSON: It is possible to do good works from impure motives. Chrysostom summarizes the principle well: “’ So it is possible to do a good work, from a motive which is not good. And not only is there no reward in store for such an action, but punishment’” (Stewart, 188-189).
3) The purpose of the preaching of these evil men was to “add afflictions to my bonds,” Paul says.
+ Strong (2018): to bear upon…to inflict, superinduce
+ Thayer: to lay upon, to inflict…in addition, add, increase
+ Strong (2347): pressure :- afflict, anguish, tribulation, trouble
+ Thayer: pressing together, pressure, metaphorically oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits
b) They sought to add afflictions to Paul inwardly, emotionally.
- Perhaps they thought he would become jealous of their soul-winning efforts.
- Perhaps they thought he would be upset because there was nothing he could do to stop their efforts while in prison.
c) LESSON: There are very evil people in the world who want to afflict others. There are some who enjoy afflicting those who are already in affliction. Some of these people refer to themselves as Christians. Some may refer to themselves as preachers of the gospel.
1) There were other preachers, however, who preached Christ with pure motives.
2) Paul describes them with two words:
a) Good will
- Strong (2107): satisfaction, delight, kindness
- Thayer: good will, kindly intent
- Strong (25): love, affection, benevolence
- Thayer: brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence
3) This second set of preachers were motivated to preach from right motives.
a) They wanted individuals to convert to Christ, not to themselves.
b) They preached because they loved Paul. Paul’s example encouraged them to preach with the same boldness that he had.
4) These individuals knew that Paul was truly a defender of the gospel of Christ, a loyal soldier in the Lord’s army.
a) Paul was “set,” that is, appointed by God to this end (Acts 9:15-16).
But the Lord said unto him (Ananias), Go thy way: for he (Paul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
b) These men knew that Paul was a defender of the gospel and they appreciated him for this.
+ Strong (627): a plea :- answer…defense
+ Thayer: verbal defense, speech in defense, a reasoned statement or argument
- LESSON: The gospel must be discussed and argued. If we do not, false doctrine will run rampant in the world with no oppo-sition at all.
3. Celebration of Paul (Phil. 1:18)
What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
a. What then?
1) What follows from the efforts of these individuals?
2) How does this affect Paul?
3) Remember: Some of these preachers were doing all in their power to add afflictions to the apostle’s bonds.
b. Every way
- Strong (4392): an outward showing, that is pretext
- Thayer: alleged reason, pretended cause
b) There were some whose efforts looked sincere, but in reality they had ulterior motives in their preaching.
c) Paul’s preaching never involved such (I Thess. 2:3-6)
For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth the hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
- Strong (225): truly
- Thayer: truth as personal excellence…free from pretense, simulation, falsehood, deceit
b) These were ministers who were completely pure in their efforts in spreading the gospel of Christ. Their sole purpose in preaching the gospel was to seek and save the lost.
c. Christ is preached
1) Notice that Paul does not say that false doctrine is being preached.
2) Christ is the message of the gospel in all of its points.
3) See Acts 8:5, 35 and I Corinthians 2:1-4
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
4) Two important points:
a) To preach Christ involves more than just preaching Christ’s death on Calvary.
- Look at Acts 8:4-5
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
+ Philip was part of those who went every where preaching
+ Preaching the word and preaching Christ are synonymous
- Look at Acts 8:12
But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
+ Preaching Christ involved preaching the kingdom of God.
+ Preaching Christ involved preaching the name of Jesus.
+ Preaching Christ involved preaching about baptism.
b) Some believe that Paul is approving of all the denominations that presently exist and affirm that they preach Christ.
- Remember, preaching Christ is synonymous to preaching the Word.
- If one does not preach the Word of God, then he is not preaching Christ.
- Denominations are preaching the commands of men, not the Word of God. Therefore, they are not preaching Jesus Christ.
d. I therein do rejoice, and will rejoice.
a) Strong (5463): to be full of cheer, that is calmly happy
b) Thayer: to rejoice, be glad, to rejoice exceedingly
2) When Paul considered all those lost souls who were hearing the good news about Jesus, it gave him great season to rejoice.
3) “That central activity is the message being preached as the advance-ment of the gospel rests at the heart of the Philippian letter. By placing priority on the gospel, Paul establishes a hierarchy of concerns. He is looking at the situation through the lens of God’s ultimate purposes” (Stewart, 189).
4) Upon hearing these words, what was the reaction of those who wanted to afflict Paul? Instead of afflicting him, they brought in exceeding joy.
e. Two lessons:
1) God is able to use less than desirable preachers to convict others. In the Old Testament, He utilized the reluctant (and prejudiced, vme) prophet Jonah to preach to the rebellious Ninevites – an activity which brought their repentance and deliverance from judgment (Stewart, 190).
2) There are times that the ulterior motives of those who are evil do not materialize as planned. Sometimes the opposite occurs from that which they desired.