The thrust of Paul’s letter to the Philippians is a message of thanks for the gift they had sent him upon learning about his imprisonment in Rome weaved through several other topics.
The opening of this letter to the Philippians (1:1-2) introduces necessary background information and an overview of the letters contents. Paul continues by giving a joyful prayer (1:3-5), praising their affection for Jesus (1:6-8) and expresses his hope to see their love abound (1:9-11). Paul then communicated that he remained joyful about seeing the advancement of the gospel even though was disappointed in not being able to enjoy fellowship with his Philippian brothers and sisters in Christ (1:12-14). Paul continues his letter by addressing the intentions behind preaching the Gospel (1:15-17) ultimately does not matter (1:18a).
The content is covered in more depth at the links provided.
Christ Will be Glorified (1:18b – 22)
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of 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. 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!
Paul consciously made the decision to remain joyful and to declare it despite undergoing persecution that other Christians sought for him while also adding to his troubles by knowing the things many were teaching contrary to the Gospel. Nevertheless, it is believed that Paul’s assertion concerning his confidence in the Holy Spirit (vv. 19) for his deliverance from prison is in reflection of Job’s experience (cf. 1:25; 2:24; Job 13:16).
The prison environment that Paul experienced cultivated a disheartening environment. His prison experience surely could have left him, like many others, feeling “ashamed,” (vv. 20) in the midst of suffering and oppression. The emotional trauma undoubtedly caused Paul to experience intense temptation to forsake the gospel and unwavering servanthood for the sake of Christ. Paul remains committed to his life’s calling to serve in proclaiming the gospel. His commitment is a direct result of his peace in knowing that Christ indwells in him and is the one at work (cf. Romans 8:9-10) through him no matter if his service continued or ended in his death.
There is no doubt of Paul not being afraid of facing death as a result of serving Christ. He articulates that “to live is Christ” (vv. 22) in reference to that his continual source of joy in this life despite all the circumstances found in Christ alone. This joy is a result of Paul having confidence in Christ due to having a personal relationship and finding his identity in Him (cf. 3:8-10). It is through staying focused the source of his joy that Paul can remain steadfast in laboring fruitfully in sharing the gospel and building the Church (vv. 22).
To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain (1:23 – 26)
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. 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 boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Paul quickly asserts that death is not something that causes fear in him since it only signifies the gain of ‘being with Christ (vv. 23).’ The emphasis on Christians being with Him when they die in that it is far better for fellowship with Christ (vv. 23). Paul preferred to gain fellowship with Christ through death but found it necessary to remain (vv. 25). He found it necessary to place the needs of others ahead of his desires by preserving through his struggles for the sake of their spiritual growth and maturity (vv. 24).
Paul’s emphasize on being with Christ affirms the importance of Jesus and his relationship with Him as his utmost concern and most valuable possession for now and forever. This love has for Christ exemplifies the Christlike love he shows the Philippians when forsaking his gain for their benefit.
It is clear that the lives of believers is intended to be on of joyful spiritual growth and maturation (vv. 25, 9). It is Paul’s hope that his previous conduct with them will be the reason for their rejoicing in what Christ is doing among them upon his return in exemplifying their joy in Christ Jesus (vv. 26).
The application of this passage in our lives seemed to speak volumes for itself while I was writing this posting. In this selected passage to the Philippians, Paul certainly presented himself as an excellent example of a person that defined himself and found his joy in Christ and not in possessions, circumstances, or anything/anything else. There is no doubt that I want to follow in Paul’s footsteps in changing the world for Christ’s glory. But in order to do so, it is necessary to rise day by accepting the challenge to become more like Christ. Thus, I have made the decision to challenge myself in following Paul’s example as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). The challenge is to glorify Christ in everything I do and living life as he did from the worldview that to live is Christ and to die is gain. It is my sincere hope that you will take on the challenge with me.
Let Your Thoughts Be Heard
- How are we living life in light of Paul’s view?
- Is Christ being glorified through persecution?
- I sincerely wonder, how are we collectively serving each other rather than our personal preferences?
- Will you rise today to accept the challenge to become more like Christ to change this world?