Philippians 2:19-30 Two Christian Missionaries

Philippians 2:19-30      Two Christian Missionaries                     WC McCarter


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Timothy’s Work (19-24)
Notice that this paragraph is bookended by Paul’s trust in the Lord: to send Timothy and to come himself to the Philippians.  Timothy accompanied Paul on the second missionary journey when the church was established.  Paul wanted to send Timothy to the Philippians, and it appears that’s what they had requested by sending Epaphroditus as somewhat of a trade-off.  Paul wanted to send Timothy so that he could report back the state of the church.

Look at the descriptions of Timothy: like-minded; sincerely caring; proven character; and serves in the Gospel.  This is in contrast with others who are described as those who seek their own.  Among Paul’s helpers, Timothy was outstanding and most valued.  Verse 21 is a general rule, yet Timothy was an exception.

Sons learned the trade of their fathers ~ Timothy learned the work of Paul, the Gospel ministry.  Let’s talk about mentorship for a few minutes. (SEE Titus 2:1-8; 2 Tim 2:1-2; Matt 5:19)

Epaphroditus’ Work (25-30)
Epaphroditus was from Philippi and was commissioned by the church as a messenger/servant.  Roman prison officials offered little-to-no provisions so the Philippians probably sent things like money, clothes, and food by Epaphroditus for Paul.  He was to deliver the gifts to Paul and offer his service in place of the church.  That service almost cost him his life.  His name is only mentioned in Philippians and there is nowhere in the letter that says this, but I think he may have been a deacon of the Philippian church.

Epaphroditus wanted to go back to Philippi because he was distressed that they had heard he was sick.  Paul also wanted to send Epaphroditus back and there are several possibilities for why: he wanted to keep Timothy, wanted Epaphroditus to deliver the letter and give an update on Paul’s situation, and he had been sick so Paul wanted him to get back home safely.  Paul and Epaphroditus could ease their anxieties if he made it back and had a joyous reunion with the church.  A big part of this letter is about Epaphroditus returning to them—how would he be received?

There is speculation that the Philippians were passing rumors about Epaphroditus’ illness which isn’t too far-fetched because churches do that type of thing all the time.  There is a good chance that he got sick from the traveling—crossing lands, boats, prison.

Epaphroditus is the type of Christian to be esteemed and emulated.  Verse 30 “not regarding his life” exemplifies Paul’s teaching (SEE 2:1-4, 8).

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) Why these two men and why now? Both exemplify Paul’s teaching.

(2) Christians (esp. servant leaders) who seek the well-being of others should be respected.

(3) This is what the Christian life is all about—Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus were looking out not only for their own interests, but also for the interests of the Philippians. That is why these verses are added and why they are added in this exact place in the letter.

Matthew 5:3 Spiritual Bankruptcy

Spiritual Bankruptcy

If I may, I would like to continue with the theme from last week’s devotional from Matthew 5:3 concerning spiritual poverty.  By the way, how are you doing with that idea?  Have you filed for spiritual bankruptcy?  A Christian is a man or woman who has come to understand and agree that all of our righteousness is like filthy rags before God (Isa 64:6).  God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 Jn 1:5).  God is absolutely perfect in His character and activities.  While the world tells us that we are “mostly good” and only do bad things sometimes, the story of the Bible is that we are mostly bad and sometimes we do good (apart from Christ’s work in us).

So, yes, atheists and religious folks are in the same situation when it comes to their efforts before God.  Our human efforts will never be good enough.  Our good will never outweigh our bad.  Remember, God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  Theoretically, someone may keep the whole law, yet stumble in one point, and they are then considered a “lawbreaker” (Jas 2:10).  God is holy and righteous.  To sin, even in the smallest of ways, is to sin against the perfect Creator God.  And, let’s face it, who among us can honestly claim that they have only sinned in the slightest of ways?  It was the Lord Jesus who said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matt 12:36).   Every word we have mumbled under our breath, every thought that has passed through our mind, and every one of our activities will be audited on Judgment Day.  Nobody’s scales will tilt toward the good—Nobody’s.

Therefore, the first step into the Christian experience is coming to a thorough understanding and confessing our spiritual poverty.  We must file spiritual bankruptcy before God.  Only then can we step into the wonders of the kingdom.  Hey, ponder this some more this week, and next week, let’s talk about the glories of the second part of the first beatitude (“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”).

Philippians 2:12-18 A Reason to Rejoice

Philippians 2:12-18      A Reason to Rejoice                         WC McCarter


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The Work of Salvation (12-13)
The point that is driving last week’s passage and our passage today is the one stated in Phil 1:27, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  Verse eight, which we saw last week, is a key verse for this passage (Silva, 117).  The idea of humility points back to the preceding section, and the idea of obedience leads to the following passage.  The word, “Therefore,” then, compels us to take the Christ hymn as our example.  We are to take Christ’s humility and obedience as our example for how to live.  Also, the commands of this passage are to be obeyed on the basis of Christ’s lordship which was just referenced and described at the end of the hymn.

The text does not say:
          1) Work to acquire your salvation
          2) You may have your salvation, but now keeping it depends on you
3) You have no responsibility in your salvation because it is only God who works

There are various interpretations:
          1) Paul is concerned with the well-being of the community (J.H. Michael)
          2) Because God works we work (John Murray)
          3) Connection between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility (Carson)
4) Present out-working of their eschatological salvation within the community (Fee)

I’ll take a stab at it:
I have always viewed this phrase to mean that we need to work out what our salvation means.  It is something that we need to do in our minds and then practice it in our everyday lives.  I think that I am still “working it out.”  No matter how mature we get, we must still continue to work it out in our minds and in our lives (SEE Jn 6:27-29; Matt 11:29; Phil 3:13-14).  It’s of the mind—it is our attitude that reflects in our obedience (remember, “let this mind”).

We have an incentive to push on – God is working in us. So, press on with fear and trembling.  If we are going to work out our salvation—grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, continually search Him out as our utmost treasure—it should be done with fear and trembling, which points us back to vv9-11.  This is not a casual thing; it’s an awesome thing.  God has given us salvation, we can only have a sense of holy awe and wonder (SEE Rom 13:11-14).

Blamelessness (14-16)
Faith in Christ is ultimately demonstrated in obedience to Christ—not in the sense of following a list of rules but willingly coming totally under His lordship because you trust Him—being completely devoted to Him.  So, the question is, how are they going to corporately respond to the salvation God has given them?  In other words, what are some practical ways of working this out?  He gives us four (two in 14-16 and two in 17-18):

[1] Do “all things” without complaining/murmuring or disputing/arguing (self-denying contentment).  Paul must have grumbling Israel in mind as they came out of Egypt: (1) Backed against the Red Sea with the Egyptian army in pursuit the people said [Exod 14:11-12], “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness?  Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?  Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’?  For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”  (2) When the people were thirsty and there was only a bitter spring they said [Exod 15:24], “And the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’”  (3) When the people grew hungry, instead of trusting the Lord to provide, we are told [Exod 16:2-3], “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.  And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full!  For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”  (4) And the list goes on: they complained about water another time and Moses struck the rock to bring forth water; they complained about the bread from heaven so God sent quail; they complained about Moses as mediator so God spoke to them directly; they complained about God speaking to them and thought that they would die; they complained on numerous occasions that they should return to Egypt; and on and on.

To avoid this kind of distrust of the Lord and awful infighting is to become blameless and harmless; it is to become like Christ.  We live as children of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.  And this generation is no different than any other.  This age is marked by crookedness and perverseness.  Yet, we are children of God.  We do not live in this way.  We are to be found without fault, and when we are, we will shine as lights in the world.  The world is crooked, but we are to be straight.  The world is perverse, but we are to pursue holiness.  Was Israel a witness to the pagan nations around them?  Were they light in that darkness?  They were not.  Do not follow them in their rebellion.  The people of God are those who make peace.

[2] The second practical way of working out their salvation was to give Paul, their Christian leader, a reason to rejoice (strive to please workers).  Paul was their father in the faith.  He was their apostle.  He had gone to them to share the Good News and now asked in return that they would fulfill his joy and give him a reason to rejoice.  On the Last Day, the Day of Christ, Paul wants the Philippians to be blameless.  He wants them to hold fast to the word of life.  This will give Paul a reason to rejoice, knowing that he had not worked in vain.

Sacrifice (17-18)
[3] Continue to sacrifice, as you have before, and Paul’s sacrifice will be complementary.  This echoes the OT sacrificial system (SEE Num 28:7).

[4] Rejoice and be glad with me.  The joy comes from our relationship with Christ and with one another in Christ, as well as from the certainty of our end.  The suffering will be a direct result of trying to bring others in on the joy.

Conclusion and Christian Application
You see, this is what it means to follow a crucified Savior, a suffering Servant.  He has taken up His cross in obedience to the Father and out of love for us, and we, too, are to take up our crosses and follow Him in obedience.  We do not work for our salvation as if we can earn it.  We work out our salvation, growing in our understanding of the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Once we begin to understand things in our minds, we put them into practice in our lives and Christian community.

(1) We move forward with fear and trembling, in awe of God’s grace in Christ.

(2) We do everything without complaining and arguing.  We pursue holiness.

(3) We hold fast the word of life knowing that it is by grace that we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ and that is not in any way our doing.

(4) We suffer but rejoice in it knowing that Christ has suffered before us and has been exalted to the highest of places.  We rejoice knowing, also, that our futures are secure in Him.

Matthew 5:3 Spiritual Poverty

Spiritual Poverty

I am studying the Sermon on the Mount this week from Matthew 5-7.  This is the most famous sermon ever delivered.  The Lord gathered His disciples together, went up a mountain, sat down, and opened His mouth to teach them.  Jesus’ healing ministry was important.  All of the miracles were definitely significant and validating.  However, the Gospels and all of the New Testament letters make clear that the ministry of the word, preaching, is the chief aspect of Gospel ministry.  Jesus was never content to only meet physical needs.  The Lord spoke to the hearts of the people.  He spoke to the spiritual needs of the multitudes.  They may have been hungry, or hurting, or poor, but, more than that, they were in danger of the wrath to come without the work of God in their lives.  This life does not last forever.  It is very brief.  We need hope for the future, and we need to know how to pass through the judgment by the grace of God.  We also need to know how to live in this life due to our future prospects.  We need to know how we can be light to our dark world.

The one theme that stands out from the Sermon and runs throughout comes from the first line that Jesus speaks after He opens His mouth: “Blessed are the poor in spirit. . . .”  The first step into the Christian experience . . . the first step toward salvation is a realization and confession of our own spiritual poverty.  The kind of person who knows his/her spiritual bankruptcy is the kind of person who is “blessed” of God, that is, satisfied in and approved by God.  This is the starting point for the new birth.  We have to know God’s holiness and our sinfulness.

Have you come to this realization?  Have you confessed this reality?  If you have been a Christian for several years, do you still understand this truth?  More can certainly be said, but we will leave it here for now.

Philippians 2:5-11 The Mind of Christ

Philippians 2:5-11        The Mind of Christ                           WC McCarter

In today’s sermon, we are after one main point “unity through humility.” Our text today exhorts us to be united by following the example of Christ. The passage contains what is known as the “Carmen Christi,” or “The Christ Song.” Verses 6-11 are universally seen as poetic in nature and may have been an early Christian hymn or confession about Christ Jesus. Before we look at that passage, look back to the previous text which we looked at last week. In 1:27-2:4 the apostle exhorted the Philippians to be united. Now he is going to tell them how to be united: “unity through humility.”

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Exhortation: Have the Mind of Christ (5)
The mind that he is talking about is found vv3-4.

The “you” (plural) refers to the church which should have the same mind (thought process, frame of mind) as Christ.

The Example of Christ (6-8)
Now, to prove his statement true (that Christ had the mind described in the previous paragraph), Paul describes Christ’s actions in the incarnation. This is called the “Kenosis,” that Christ “emptied” Himself (this comes from verse seven which the NKJV translates “made Himself of no reputation”).

(6) It is difficult to pin down a technical definition of what Paul meant by “being in the form of God,” but there is no question that it must be equivalent to the phrase “to be equal with God.”  “Form of God” + “Form of slave” (added humanity to divinity). So, as the Christmas hymn says, “veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail incarnate deity.”

“Consider” can be compared to “esteem” in v3. It is the same root word (can be translated esteem, regard, consider, think of, count). Esteeming others better than yourself is not to say that they (in the natural sense) are better at you at whatever given matter. To esteem someone better than yourself is to “count” them better no matter the circumstances.

Christ did not view equality with God something to be “seized” as though He did not already have it, or as something to be “retained,” or grabbed tightly, or clutched closely. When we look at others and think that we are better than them at so many things yet we count them as better, we have the same mind as Christ. He looked at His divinity and did not count it as something to eagerly hold. Instead, He emptied Himself of it (made Himself of no reputation).

(7) “No reputation” translates what’s called the kenosis (meaning to empty, evacuate, divest one’s self of one’s prerogatives). Did not give up divinity (in essence) but privileges.

“Likeness of men” tells us that He did not come as sinful flesh, but only in the likeness thereof. He remained fully God while incarnate. The church has traditionally understood, I think rightly, that Jesus was fully God and fully man. He was in the form of God and came in the form of a slave. The “form” seems to mean “status” in my humble opinion. To be in the status of God is to be in the highest possible position. To be God is to be that than which “none greater can be conceived.”  In contrast, the lowest position someone could be in is that of a slave. SEE John 13:3-4. So, Christ’s Deity was veiled by human form and few could see past the veil.

John says the disciples quickly realized Jesus’ divinity past the veil, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only” (1:14). Hebrews teaches us that He had to become like His brothers (human) in every way so that He might become a merciful and faithful High priest to make atonement for the sins of the people.

(8) Not only did He empty Himself (of His right to independently use His divine attributes), but He also humbled Himself. Why is the word “obedient” used of His death? It shows His Sonship and His slave form. “Obedient to death” = wages of sin is death, but Christ was sinless. He did this for sinners—for you and for me. He was obedient to the will of God the Father.

“Cross” = Romans—crucifixion was for slaves, foreigners, worst criminals
                 Jews—to be crucified was to be cursed by God

Isa 53:12: “He poured out His soul unto death.”

The Exaltation of Christ (9-11)
How humiliating it is for God to become man! That is why Muslims find Christians to be repulsive. They see us as blasphemous because we believe God became man and was crucified. The Jews also find the cross to be a stumbling block and a rock of offense. In fact, many people can not grasp the idea of God as the Suffering Servant. Yet, the Scriptures are clear that Jesus was/is God and that He died for the sins of many. The Philippians believed this fact and it was necessary that Paul conclude the short narrative of Christ’s story. Though He suffered, he was exalted. Why was it necessary? The Philippians were suffering and would suffer.

(9) Christ was restored to His exalted position. Moreover, he has been that much more glorified, that much more exalted than ever before in that position He has been exalted “to the highest possible degree.”  He bears the name which is above every name. There are basically two options for the “name.” Either the name is Jesus or it is Lord. “Lord” would be the equivalent of “Yahweh” (it is Hebraic tradition to substitute for the name of God). The context points to “Jesus” in the very next phrase. So it seems clear that that earthly name “Jesus” has now become the highest of all names (in heaven, on earth, and under the earth). Yet, by looking at verse eleven we may be able to add that the name Jesus is equivalent to Lord. (Will give refer at end).

(10) To bow one’s knee always refers to a pledged reverence and submission to something or someone. And Paul declares the full scope of the bowing, “of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.” One commentator says, “Those ‘of heaven’ refer to all heavenly beings, angels and demons; those of earth refer to all those who are living on earth at his [Second Coming], including those who are currently causing suffering in Philippi; and those ‘under the earth’ probably refer to ‘the dead,’ who shall also be raised to acknowledge his lordship over all.”

(11) Not only will every creature bend their knee, but “every tongue” will confess Jesus is Lord.  The confession then will not be of conversion, but of final acknowledgement (of Acts 2:36).

Isa 45:23: “I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath.”

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) The Christian experience is one of a renewed mind. Greco-Roman culture despised humility. They thought that humility demonstrated inferiority. Yet, Christians made it a high virtue (one of the highest).

(2) Luke 9:23: “Then [Jesus] said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

(3) “Unity through Humility”

Philippians 1:27-2:4 Gospel-Worthy Conduct

Philippians 1:27-2:4     Gospel-Worthy Conduct                           WC McCarter

Many of you come to worship services on Sundays looking to fulfill some kind of “religious” duty; some of you come because you have been guilted into coming (by your own conscience or by someone in your family); and some of you come because you long to be “spiritual.”  Now, some of the reasons for attending a worship time are not necessarily wrong or bad.  Yet, what may be wrong in your life is that you are disconnected from the church.  You may sit in the “church building,” hold down a pew, open your mouth to sing, and close your eyes when we pray—all while never actually being connected with the church.  Here’s the question: Are you involved in the life of the church?

We are all called as Christians to be “plugged in” to the church.  We are to be bound to our brothers and sisters in Christ; accountable to and responsible for one another.  We are to be united.  In doing so, we reflect well the Lord Jesus and His Gospel.  Disunity is a great enemy of the church.  Many of the New Testament letters were written to combat disharmony among the churches.  Some of them were divided because of sin; others because of false doctrine and false teachers; some (believe it or not) over racial issues, and others because of personality clashes.  But the apostles were never content to allow congregations to splinter and divide.  Never.  They were always battling, warring against strife and division.

Now, we have discussed that the Philippian church was a strong church, healthy, vibrant, and spiritually vibrant one.  Why did the apostle need to write about this subject?  I will tell you the reason and why we need to discuss it here at the Rural Hall Church: Disunity is constantly a threat against any and every Christian church.  Even during the seasons when the church is strong and healthy, we must fight against strife and for unity.

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Gospel-Worthy Conduct (27-28)
The very first phrase of verse 27 is profound.  There is no greater motivation for holy living than the point of this phrase: “Let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.”  We do not follow rules and regulations simply to be “religious.”  We pursue godliness because of the great gift that God has given us—His Son.  We have all other blessings because of Him.  We do not pursue holy living to earned these things—they are already ours.  We want to live lives that are worthy of the graciousness that we have received.

Paul, the apostle, is in prison.  He hoped to be released and go back to the churches, including Philippi, but whether he was able to or not, he wanted to hear that the church was three things related to unity:

#1 Stand Fast (We should have the same essence, thinking the same things)
          In One Spirit
          With One Mind/Soul
#2 Striving Together (Not to earn salvation, but to defend the way of salvation, the true Gospel message.  It is almost too easy—believe and receive—too many people are afraid that they will not be saved, so they work, work, work.  We must fight against the urge to try to earn salvation.)
          For the Faith
          Of the Gospel
#3 Not Terrified (You are going to have opponents in the Christian life)
          By Adversaries
                   Them = Sign of Destruction
                   You = Sign of Salvation
                             From God

Gifts from God (29-30)
You have been granted on behalf of Christ:
          #1 To Believe in Him
          #2 To Suffer for Him
                   The Philippians were suffering like Paul (they were Christians)

We have the opportunity to believe in Christ, that is, for salvation and every other spiritual blessing.  Yet, we also have been given the opportunity to suffer for the sake of Christ.  This is one of the greatest questions of our day: What do we do with the issue of suffering?  God allows for adversaries.  He grants to His people the opportunity to suffer with, like, and for Christ.  Our Savior and Lord was crucified.  Paul was beaten, mocked, imprisoned, and more.  While some people believe that suffering is a sign that God does not exist and even some Christians believe that suffering is a sign that God is displeased with them, the truth of the matter is that suffering is a sign that God approves of them.  Suffering is an opportunity to be united with Christ, to be a witness to the Good News of Christ, and to make a Christian stronger in their faith.  Suffering is a gift of God.

Therefore (1-4)
#1 If any Consolation/Encouragement in Christ
#2 If any Comfort of Love
#3 If any Fellowship of the Spirit
#4 If any [Deep] Affection and Mercy (compassions)
          àFulfill my Joy:
          #1 Being like-minded (that you might be of the same mind)
          #2 Having the same love
          #3 Being of one accord (united in soul/same soul/same essence?)
          #4 Being of one mind (same thinking)
                   àLet nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit
          #5 In lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself
          #6 Let each look out not only for his own interest, but for others

The language introduced in v27 of “one spirit/one soul” now becomes an entire paragraph.  It appears to have a poetic structure; there is a rhythmic consistency, short clauses, and repeated parallelism.  The summary found in this paragraph reverts back not to the suffering issue, but to the “conduct worthy of the Gospel of Christ.”  Paul exhorts the Philippians to live worthy of their calling by being united in the midst of adversity.  Out of the suffering conversation, he flows into the verses filled with encouragement and comfort that is found in Christ.  Then he comes back to his main point—unity.

Paul appeals to the Philippian’s common experience of the blessing of comfort in Christ.  This joyous relationship that they had with Christ came through Paul and was shared with him.  Just like they shared the same suffering, they also shared the same enjoyments.  That is why Paul can then say “fulfill my joy.”  His joy which is theirs also comes by “being like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, [and being] of one mind.”  I think we get the point.  Paul says the same thing four times in four different ways.  He wants the Philippians to be united and so does Christ!

Conclusion and Christian Application

God does not expect us to have a low self-esteem, but He does expect us to think more highly of others.  We should look out for ourselves and our families, but remember that our Christian brothers and sisters are family too.  We must think about the church.  This is the essence of Christian unity.  This is what Christ wants for His church.  This kind of attitude and effort for unity is the type of conduct that is worthy of the Gospel of Christ.  He bought us with His own blood, so we ought to live in a way that will reflect His graciousness and His glory.

Philippians 1:19-26 Progress and Joy in Christ

Philippians 1:19-26      Progress and Joy in Christ              WC McCarter

What do you do with a person like Paul?  He doesn’t care if someone preaches from an impure heart or a pure heart as long as they are preaching Christ.  In life or in death he is satisfied.  If he continues to live, he will minister to the body of Christ.  If he dies, he is confident that it will be gain!  He doesn’t care what anyone does to him or thinks of him, he is only focused on benefiting the church: for progress and joy.  What do you do with a Christian like Paul?  You cannot stop his Gospel progress, and you cannot take away his joy.  I can only hope to follow his pattern of following Christ.

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Expectation and Hope of Salvation (19-20)
If we pick up where Jim left off last week in verse 18, we can see that today’s passage is bookended by the theme of rejoicing.  In verse 19, we must first determine what “this” refers to.  Remember some of the background to this letter.  While Paul was in Jerusalem, there was a great uprising among the Jews against him because of his Christian preaching, and the apostle was arrested.  Although he was going to be freed, as a Roman citizen, he decided to employ his right to appeal to Caesar to have his case heard.  So, he was imprisoned for some time.  While in prison, Paul wrote some letters (including Philippians), he was ministered to by some Christians, he was even able to penetrate the Roman guard and some in Caesar’s house with the Gospel, and there was, of course, personal opposition to him.  Some were preaching the Gospel in a way that would sway people away from Paul and to themselves.  They did not like Paul.  Yet, Paul says, in essence, that as long as they are preaching Christ, he does not care about their personal feelings about himself.  Therefore, the “this” of verse 19 refers to his imprisonment and opposition.

The “deliverance” of v19 is apparently ultimate salvation.  Some have seen here the idea that Paul believed that he would get out of prison and return again to ministry among the people, but he uses eternally-charged words about this “deliverance.”  The word translated here as “deliverance” is same word that is translated everywhere else in the New Testament as “salvation.”  He talks about his “earnest expectation and hope” along with “death and life.”

The ultimate salvation that Paul was so confident in was not because of a reliance on himself.  Paul viewed his salvation as being accomplished by two means of cooperation: through (1) the Philippians’ prayer and (2) the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  Paul, the Philippians, and Christ were bound together in a special way.  The Philippians (and others) were with him and supporting him through prayer, and Christ was with him through the Spirit.

Commentators tell us that these two words, “expectation” and “hope,” are so closely related that they can combine to mean something like, “hope-filled expectation” (Fee, 135).  Hope is not merely wishfulness for the Christian; it is “the highest degree of certainty about the future” (Fee, 135).  I think Paul means a then-and-now type of understanding.  Ultimately, Paul would not be ashamed; so why should he be ashamed in the present?  If he knows his future is sure in Christ, what worries does he have in the present?  If all things are his in the next age, what does he have to lose in this age?  You see, Christians are to live with an eternal perspective.  We are willing to sacrifice our lives now—our time, our energy, our resources—because we know that we have been given eternal life.  We have no fear because we have a confident hope.  Our futures are sure, not because we can rely on ourselves, but because we rely on our God.  We will not be ashamed on Judgment Day because Christ’s righteousness is ours.  And if we will not be ashamed then, we certainly have no fear of shame now.

The word “boldness” (or “courage” in the NIV), actually conveys the meanings of “openness” and “public” (Fee, 137).  It is boldness of speech in the presence of others.  Through Paul’s imprisonment and defense of the Gospel, he will boldly and publicly reveal Christ to be glorious.  Paul refers to his witness as in the “body.”  He knows full-well that his imprisonment is physical.  He knows that his future is a life or death issue.  He could face the death penalty.  But Paul’s resolution is to be a public witness to the wonders of Christ whether he goes free or is condemned to death.

To Live and to Die (21-24)
With that, Paul launches into a discussion of what it means to live and to die.  Christians are those who have a unique view of life and death.  We are not those who have no hope after death.  We are not those who fear death.  We do not look forward to death as if we are happy about the way things have gone in this age and are happy to suffer to consequence of sin, which is death, but we know that God has bought for us the gift of eternal life.  And, life in eternity will not be like it is here—there will be no sin, sorrow, suffering, Satan, or any of the like.  We will enjoy God’s presence forevermore.

Paul lived by faith and not by sight.  He lived under the control of the knowledge of the grace of Jesus Christ.  Someone who lives by that knowledge can say, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  That was his faith.  That is our faith, although we may be weak in it from time to time.  Unshaken faith says “life or death means Christ for me!”  Christ is the end-all-and-be-all.  We must treasure Him above all else in this life and in death.

The “but” in verse 22 supports the understanding of “deliverance” to mean ultimate salvation.  Paul was not sure if he would live or die.  He was not sure if he would be freed.  Yet, he did know one thing—if he was freed and continued on in the flesh (the body) he would continue to labor for Christ thus producing more fruit.

If Paul was given the choice, to continue to live and minister or die and receive his reward, he would not know what to choose.  How do you choose between the two?  Both life and death were attractive to him!  Paul knew that to depart meant to be with Christ and that is “far better.”  Yet, he also knew that he could be of use to the Philippians and countless other Christians.  In the midst of a life and death situation Paul was concerned about the church; he was concerned about the brethren and not himself.  Paul has an understanding that death gives way to life.  For a Christian to die here is to be present with the Lord, to depart is to be with Christ.  Thankfully, God is the only One who knows the outcome of our situations.  If we were to choose, what a miserable amount of pressure we would experience!

There is no doubt that Paul was a highly valuable asset to the spiritual development of the Christians in Philippi and many other places.  It was needful for Paul to continue on in the flesh so that he could minister to the churches.

Progress and Joy (25-26)
Paul has left room for an unfavorable outcome in the preceding verses, but states in verse 25 that it was his personal conviction that he would have a favorable outcome.  He had no prophetic utterance from God and he had no vision from God, but he knew that he had much left to accomplish for the sake of the Gospel.  He knew that the Philippians and others could use his service.

Paul wanted three things for the Philippian believers, and I think it is extended to any church including us:
          1. Progress of Faith (remember “progress of Gospel” in verse 12)
          2. Joy of Faith (quality of the experience of the Christian life)
          3. Abundant Rejoicing in Jesus Christ (joy = rejoicing)

Conclusion and Christian Application
I use to love watching horror movies, but now I really have no taste for them.  Most of them are grimy and inappropriate anyway.  But, you know, I never was really scared of them.  There was usually the element of surprise, but there was no real fear.  I’ll tell you what kind of movies have always brought out fear in me—the kind where things are out of a person’s control, for example, when the government threatens a person and there’s no way of escape.  I’ve often thought about what it will be like for Christians in the future, especially for Christian ministers.  To be honest, I’ve had moments of anxiety.  Yet, I think about a passage like this where Paul shares his thoughts on things outside of his control.  Rather than breaking down in fear and shame, he rises up with great boldness in his witness to the message of Christ.  There is nothing you can do with Paul.  He is satisfied in life or in death.  In life he will serve the cause of Christ, and in death he will witness to the cause of Christ.  No matter the circumstances, he trusts Christ for the future.  That is bold.  That is brave.  That is confident.  That is faith.  That is what I want for myself and all of you.

(1) Joy is a key theme in this passage and the whole book.  What kind of joy do you have?  Is your joy in Christ, or would you rather take pleasure in other things?  There is only one kind of joy that is everlasting.  There is only one kind of joy that will actually satisfy you fully.

(2) It is easy to pay lip service to things like hope in God, glorifying Christ, and Christian service, but do our lives line up with those confessions?

(3) Are you growing in your faith and joy?  What kind of progress has been made in your faith?  Think about the last year of your life, for example, how have you grown?  This is the apostolic purpose.  Progress is what Christ wants for your life and for our church.  I have made it my mission in life to facilitate Christian progress.  A growing church is not one that is necessarily gaining more and more people (although, we are called to make disciples of the nations).  A growing church is one that is constantly pushing forward in the faith.  I hope we make lots of progress in the years to come.