The Book of Philippians Survey
Pr Edi Giudetti
Paul had planted the Church of the Philippians in the area of Philippi a colony of Rome, in Macedonia. It was named after Philip of Macedon, the King and father of Alexander the Great. And it became a Roman Province.
As with all these ancient cities, pagan worship and Idolatry abounded. Philippi was beset by the debauchery of Bacchus worship and the entrance of New Mystery religions. Yet Paul was summoned to go there and preach the Gospel.
Turn with me to Acts 16:6-10
6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
Verse 12 tells us that they settled in Philippi, being the chief City of that part of Macedonia.
This is that city where Paul discerned a woman possessed with a spirit of Divination.
16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17 The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18 And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
It’s interesting that what she was saying seemed right according to the words of our passage, yet Paul discerned in his spirit that it was not right, in fact so clear minded was he on the matter that he commanded the spirit to come out of her. Obvious too it was that this spirit provided to her a skill and ability that she could not manifest on her own. (consider musicians such as Robert Johnson)
19 And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers,
As a result, Paul and Silas were beaten, whipped and thrown into prison in Philippi.
Here they prayed and sang songs encouraging all in the prison, and here we have that famous account of the earthquake which not only flung the doors open for their escape but facilitated it further by loosing their bands….yet they would not flee.
And we have recorded the second group of people saved by the Lord in Philippi, first Lydia a seller of purple and her family, now in verse 33 the jailer, who would have killed himself had the prisoners escaped, he and his family were baptised and the Church in Philippi had its founding members. (Acts 16:25-34)
Paul left after this, and we are not sure when the Church began to grow, but we do know that it was a thriving Church ten years later when Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians from yet another prison.
Philippians is one of the four Prison Epistles, do you recall one of the other three?
Philippians is undoubtedly written from Rome, a letter which would have come to them some ten years after the church began.
There is confidence that It was his first imprisonment in Rome and not his second.
Though he seems confident of his release, there seems to be the thought in his mind that death was the potential outcome. (Compare Phil 1:21-26 & 2:23)
Lets now come to this letter and pray the Lord might help our understanding of it.
1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
How encouraging is it to know that it was not us that began a good work in ourselves, but the Lord began it. There is certainly one thing that my wife would confess to you and that is that if it was me who began a good work, there is no guarantee it would get completed! What God begins, he will complete, it’s his responsibility not yours, he began the good work in you and we have the same confidence of Paul, that he will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
All the fruit of a man/woman are on display. Paul longs after them and prays that their love might abound. One of the great joys in life is to experience an abounding love, love for the brethren, love for the lost and particularly Love for Jesus Christ.
Brethren this grows the more we grow in knowledge and judgement. Paul is not speaking about our own resource for these things, he referring to that which will enable them to “approve things that are excellent”, this is the word of God that we are to abound more and more in knowledge of, that we might discern true judgement.
12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
When your life is set and sold for the sake of the Gospel of Christ, God is able to make all things that happen to you to abound to the furtherance of the Gospel.
Our Lord looks for men and women such as this, those who are willing to know the joy that can be experienced even through great trials and pains, because they have not sold themselves to themselves and to their own well being, but to Christ and the Gospel, and “being poor yet making many rich, having nothing yet possessing all things”.
Those who trust so completely in Christ for the sake of the only reason we remain in this world, are even willing like Paul, to be made a “spectacle to the world” To be fools for Christ’s sake, weak, despised.
Paul said 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. (1 Cor 10:11-13)
He says he is “set for the defence of the Gospel” and as long as Jesus is being preached, either by contention or sincerity, he rejoices that Christ is preached. How incredible is it to sell yourself for the Gospel, to have such incredible joy in trials, to say with all sincerity that Christ might be magnified in our bodies, whether by life or by death?
Truly when people suffer it is not the state of their suffering that generally concerns those who care for them, but their attitude through their suffering that we worry about. When a man or woman has cancer and given a short time for life, their end being inevitable is partly our concern, but we are encouraged when their attitude is hope in Christ. Paul understood that nature of his life, knowing also that death is swallowed up in victory, so he continues and says;
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again. (These two verses is where we are somewhat confident it was not his last imprisonment)
To live is Christ, and to die is gain…for I am in a straight betwixt two
There are only one people who would ever dare think this way, that is those who know they know Christ and the hope of Glory to come. Dying is gain to the apostle, not loss. When you have Christ you don’t lose your life at death…you gain it!
Paul mourned in Romans 7 “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the boy of this death”
And Peter knew his body in this life was merely a tabernacle that he will one day put off (2 Pet 1:14)
27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
A fascinating verse, the persecution by the persecutors is evidence to themselves of Perdition (Damnation), and at the same time it is evidence to you of salvation. What a way to have your attitude changed! You see, it’s the reading of the Bible that helps you think correctly and change those poor thoughts and choices made by those thoughts.
I want you to know that you will not be persecuted living ungodly lives, people will not come against you when you do the wrong thing. Trouble comes in a variety of ways when you do the right thing, when you live Godly.
2 Tim 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
This charge is one to truly be learned; how many esteem others better than themselves? Our natural tendency is not only to think of ourselves higher than others, but even to put them down that we might lift ourselves up. This is not the mind of Christ!
Jesus had no thought of his own welfare on the cross. If that was so, he would never have left his throne in heaven, what did he lack? He has no need of anything let alone mankind. Charged we are to look on the things of others, that includes their happiness, confidence and well-being. Start first with words of encouragement, Not by jokingly putting them down but by lifting them up that they may rejoice in relationship with you.
Friends, on a side note, don’t play games with each other, don’t try to manipulate one another, not only does that betray insincerity on your part, but it demonstrates your love for yourself, esteeming yourself more than others and not your willing to sacrifice your own esteem for the esteem of the other!
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
We find here what is often thought of as a hymn sung, it is a poetic praise song that is used as a form of Catechism to remember Jesus Christ, both as Lord of heaven and earth and Judge of all.
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye 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. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. 17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
One of the great fears of the Apostle Paul is that his labor for the Church was in vain, empty of value to the people because they would not hearken to his words and live the Gospel life, set apart from the world. He feared just as he did the Galatians that there is a risk of them turning back to the things of the world like a dog to its vomit.
As both a father and a Pastor I can tell you that this also is my great fear.
Notice that Paul is not concerned of any loss of reward, he is expecting a Crown of Righteousness laid up for him in heaven, and much more, his reward is not predicated on the acceptance or rejection of his teaching.
In Acts 20:26 he says “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”
No, his fear is that the word has fallen on the church in vain. Jesus was first to curse the tree without fruit when expecting to find some. John the apostle rejoiced even saying he had NO GREATER JOY than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 4) But let me tell you in all sincerity, there is rarely a sorrow greater than when a child nurtured in Christ, turns back.
Hebrews 10:38 Paul said “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him’”
Don’t draw back, don’t be like the Ephesians and lose your first love.
My desire, is that of Paul’s, to joy and rejoice with you all.
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. 3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Warning of heresy should be part of the staple of the Church. Some fish have bones in them, but if we assume all is ready to eat without checking for that which can do us harm, we become fools. Paul writes that they might rejoice in the Lord and warns of the dangers of Judaizers, those same people whom he warned the Galatians of.
“Beware of evil workers, beware of the concision”, Paul is not shy, he, like King David “hates every false way” and calls them what they are “dogs” “evil workers”. The concision are those who mutilate the flesh, Circumcision, thinking heaven is open to them for this work. The Jews were overtaken by Roman Catholicism in the fourth century with their confidence in the Flesh.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
The pearl of great price, who would not be willing to sacrifice all they have for the sake of infinite gain?
What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? (Mrk 8:36)
Anything that holds you back from eternal life SHOULD be counted as dung, EVERYTHING that you think you gain by rejecting Christ you will find will to be loss, TOTAL LOSS.
There will not be a moment in hell where you will look to reminisce with fondness you’re so temporary gains on earth, each and every gain, each and every bit of fun, each and every toy that took your mind from matters eternal, will be a torment to you for eternity. You will recall to you mind every time you glimpsed that pearl, every time you had it offered to you, and you will dread with eternal dread, that you did not forsake all for it.
I have been in Business for over 25 years, I know a bargain when I see one. To give up all and the desire of all, for the sake of eternity is a bargain. But friends, the sale ends immanently, death closes the door to that store and the pearl of great price is lost forever.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
God does not ask you to sell all your possessions, just that which keeps you from him.
To the rich young ruler it was his possessions, to others it is their pride. When we come to him as a child, we come by faith.
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Not sure if that passage encourages you, but to think the apostle Paul, the penman of fourteen letters of the New Testament, if he had not yet attained toward the end of his life, we can be encouraged that Christ has attained for us. Our sin would remind us of all we yet lack, the gain which we once thought to BE gain is now past and worth forgetting, these are behind and should be left behind, not looking back like Lots wife, but reaching forth unto those things which are before.
What value did we truly have in those things in which we are now ashamed? There is nothing for us back in that life and in that way, don’t draw back, don’t get caught up in the trivial pursuits which once snared you from life.
press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus
Beloved, Paul wrote this letter from prison, keep that in mind as you read of his joy. Does he sound like he has any regrets?
Now, canst your mind back to King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, was there anything he did not regret? He lived much of his life chasing what many Christians have returned to today, and sums it up in verse saying;
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Eccl 12:13-14)
Back to our text
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
Every time I hear about the gay mardi gras of Sydney or Melbourne or over the world, I think of this verse, “Whose glory is in their shame”. They refer to these marches as Pride marches don’t they?
They glory in their shame, just as so many people do today. Mardigras is the most public example as the attribute for which they should most be ashamed, they take pride in.
Sit around private conversation with other sinners and you will see the same characteristics, Thieves in their theft, liars in their lies, drunkards in their drink, revelers in their revelry, anarchists in their anarchy.
Their end is destruction, and they will have an eternity to ponder all they thought was gain, became their loss.
20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
That we all would stand fast in the Lord. Paul knows that many will turn away, but how he pleads with them to stand fast. Which will you decide to be? Will you be as the many which turn back, or will you stand fast?
2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
If your name is in the book of life, rejoice. There is no reason why anyone who hears the message of Philippians, does not turn to the Lord by faith have their name in that book, and rejoice even today.
4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation (that is, your restraint, self- control and fairness) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Amen, we would all say, come Lord Jesus.
6 Be careful for nothing; (This refers simply to being ‘full of care’, worried in other words) but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Prayer is truly the antidote to worry, it settles the heart and mind like no toxin can ever do. For those in Christ it is upon him to “keep your hearts and minds”, to bring “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding”. How many there are who have suffered such trials only to confess of this comfort, one that the God of all comfort gives.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Our minds need care and attention, not to be idle, but to be holy. Those things learned and received by the Philippians are contained in the volume of this book. Within these pages contains all things True, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtue and praise. Thinking in the things you have learned through the pages of the Bible will have the God of peace…with you.
Now, consider the state you are in today, whatever your financial position is, whatever your health, whatever your trials and tribulations and ask yourself is it possible to have all the difficulties of life, and even more, yet still be content?
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
The balance of the book is a salutation to the brethren, and that concerning giving and the supply of the Lord, but my desire is to conclude on this point that you might leave encouraged.
The words Joy and Rejoice are mentioned eighteen times in the book, by a man sitting in a prison cell and not knowing whether his lot is to live or die there.
Paul encouraged the Philippians to be as he is.
He knew there was nothing in this world that can compare with Christ, 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
And what is his confidence?
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me