Philippians 1:1-30 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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For to Me, to Live is Christ
Comments for Study 1

Philippians 1:1-30
Memory Verse: 21

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I. He Who Began a Good Work in You (1-11)

>1. Who is the sender of this letter and who is the recipient?

* Philippians 1:1-2 "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

* "Paul" -Paul persecuted the church until Jesus called him to service for God. Paul visited Philippi on his second (Acts 15:40-18:23) and third (Acts 18:23-21:17) missionary journeys. At the end of his third missionary journey Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and taken as prisoner to Rome (Acts 23:23-26:32). At the end of his two year prison Paul wrote this letter. See the Introduction for the time frame and more background information.

* "Timothy" -Timothy had joined Paul on his second missionary journey. He had stayed several times in Philippi while Paul was in neighboring towns especially on Paul's third missionary trip. Timothy was with Paul when he was arrested in Jerusalem, though he was not arrested. Timothy followed Paul to Rome and was probably the scribe who wrote this letter as Paul dictated it.

* "all the saints" -Saint means "holy", set apart by God. A saint is someone who has been sanctified, made holy, purified by the Jesus' blood, not because of good conduct. Israelites were called holy, separated, and consecrated. (Ex. 19:6; Deut. 7:6, 14:2,21; Dan. 7:8,22) The Christian church has inherited the title and the privileges of the Israelite nation. So are you a saint or a ain't? If the latter, what are you waiting for? Admit your sin and helpless state, turn to God in humble repentance and ask for his forgiveness and for him to become the Lord of your life giving him complete control.

* The first believers in Jesus in Philippi was a successful business woman and her female friends, a former demon possessed fortune telling slave girl, a jail warden and his family, and several in the jail.

* "in Christ Jesus" -We are in Jesus. We are not above, below, beside, or around Jesus. We are in Jesus. Paul stated that true believers are in the body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12:27, Eph. 4:12) Jesus said, "On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." (John 14:20)

* "Philippi" -Many retired Roman legionaries lived there and very few Jews. Ten adult males were required to start a synagogue. There were not that many for no synagogue was known to be there. Since there was so many retired Roman soldiers it is no wonder there were very few Jews. Philippi was a Roman colony. Rome had special districts in the Roman empire where mostly Roman's lives. A Roman colony was self-governed with the same city privileges as Rome free from Roman taxes. Roman Colonies were little Romes and Philippi was one of them.

* "overseers" -Traditionally this word is Bishop (Shepherd). Believers (notice the plural) who watches over and take cares of others. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 states, "Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap." And Titus 1:5-9 states, "The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless--not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it."

* "deacons" -Deacon means minister or table waiter, like one of the seven. (Acts 6:1-6) Deacons (notice the plural) is a church leader (a spiritual man) chosen to take care of secular matters for the congregation; i.e. money matters and to give money to the widows and the poor, take care of the church building and grounds, etc. They can be heads of different departments within a large congregation. 1 Timothy 3:8-13 states, "Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus."

* 1 Peter 2:25 says of Jesus, "For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls."

* "grace and peace" -Grace (charis in Greek, a greeting) is unmerited divine assistance; and peace (shalom in Hebrew, a greeting) comes from no longer resisting God, but following God's lead. (Rom. 5:1)

* "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" -Two parts of the triune God.

>How did Paul identify himself?

* "servants of Christ Jesus" -Paul and Timothy identified themselves by their relationship to Jesus. They did not compare themselves to their social status, wealth, work they did, clothes they wore, appearance, and political power. They saw themselves as connected to Jesus. They were servants of Jesus. The word means bond servant. They did what Jesus wanted. They depended on Jesus for all things.

* Jesus taught, "Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'" (Luke 17:7-10)

>2, What can we learn from verses 3-8 about Paul's relationship with the Christians in Philippi? (Acts 16:11-40)

* Philippians 1:3-8 "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus."

* "I thank my God" -Even though Paul was the one who pioneered the church he knew it was God who did all the work. Paul did not say this in his letters to other churches.

* "every time I remember you" -Paul thought of them often.

* "in all my prayers" -Prayer is personal two way conversation with God. Jesus taught a lot about prayer. (Matt. 6:5-15, Luke 11:1-13, 18:1-8, 21:36) John 17 records Jesus' prayer during the Last Supper.

* "from the first day until now" -Paul pioneered Philippi's congregation. From the moment we accept the gospel we are partners with all the believers in the gospel.

* "defending and confirming the gospel" -Paul's life revolved around the gospel.

* "God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus" -Paul truely loved the people there. Not in an impure way, not sexually motivated as the world thinks of love.

* "when our time was up" -Paul's time with them was short. God only allotted a short time. Paul left after the city when the city rulers told him to leave. He wanted to stay, but could not. God does not always work in ways that we would like. Yet as Paul did we must always recognize and accept God's leading.

>3. What are Paul's thanksgiving and prayer topics in verses 3-8?

* "I always pray with joy" -Sometimes we pray with sadness, troubled hearts, anticipation, wonder, and joy. Paul thought of these believers and was full of joy.

* "because of your partnership in the gospel" -"Partnership" is "fellowship" in other translations. The Greek word is "koinonia" and it means that which believers can share of the things of Christ. Everyone in Jesus needs to recognize that we are all partners in the gospel work. A partner has a share in the company based on the price they contribute to the business of the company. A partner may not do the exact same job as the other partners. If they all did the same job, then the company and final product would be incomplete. I once participated in a department exercise in a corporation that I worked at. We were to make "widgets". No one in this exercise occupied the same position they had in real life. The point of the exercise was to learn the function and importance of our co-workers' functions in real life so that we may be better partners with them. Paul does the same thing in his example of body parts working together. (1 Cor. 12:1-31)

* Many people had rejected Paul's message and a few who did accept it did not stay in faith in the gospel message. Paul was thankful for those who stay.

* "share" -"Share" goes back to the word "koinonia" with the preposition "syn" with it meaning "with".

* "all of you share in God's grace with me" -Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus shares in the grace of his cross.

>How can he be confident about the future work of God in the uncertain world? (6)

* Philippians 1:6 "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

* "Being confident of this" -Paul knew that once God lives in us through Jesus he will always be in us.

* "that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" -The work of God in us is continuous, and will continue until Jesus' comes. (1:10, 2:16; 1 Cor. 1:8, 5:5; and 2 Cor. 1:14). It is God who initiates salvation, who continues it and who will one day bring it to its consummation.

* "the day of Christ Jesus" -The day of Christ Jesus this is Jesus' second coming. Jesus will come for his church, dead and living soon, called the rapture. At the end of the seven years of tribulation Jesus will come and establish his kingdom. Until Jesus comes for his people, we have "the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:30)

* J. Vernon McGee wrote, "Now, my friend, let me ask you this: Is this practical for you and me? I don't know what your circumstances are, but if you are a child of God, I am sure you can testify that God has brought you up to the present moment, hasn't He? Can't you look back over your life and see how He has led you and provided for you? Then why should you be concerned about tomorrow? Do yo think he is going to let you down now?" My answer is, "No, never." As I write this I have been out of work for nine months with the only income for my family being an unemployment check. How do I feel? Confident that God will finish what he has started. More than that I rejoice becasue for all of those months he has given me clear direction to create these web pages and finish the manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires. You might think I wrote that manuscript because of the unemployment. No, that was written out of what God revealed to me after several very incommodious persecutions and personal and family problems. I am very confident that God will complete what he has started. I have great hope for the future. And what of Paul? He had been in a Roman custody and jail for nearly two years? Yet he was confident that God would complete the work he started.

>4. Think about Paul's prayer in verses 9-11. What is the work of God that he longs to see in their lives?

* Philippians 1:9-11 "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God."

* "love may abound... in knowledge and depth of insight" -Real love requires maturity over time. Good Bible study leads us to come to learn God's love with the Holy Spirit's leading us. God's love compels us to love one another practically in truth, not sentimentally or lustfully. Sometimes practical love isn't easy, especially those with us every day. We all have weaknesses and faults that can hurt and the more we know someone the more our sinful nature knows how to heart. We don't need to learn how to hurt. We do need to learn how to love. When those who hurts us apologies and repents we should forgive them completely. Even if they wrong us many times Jesus said we are to forgive the repentant heart every time and serve them. Jesus said true love is laying down ones life for another.

* "discern what is best" -As we study the Bible the Holy Spirit will reveal in our lives what is best. Often there are places where major life decisions need to be made. Sometimes two or more roads are possible, all having seemingly good or bad elements. Other times no road seems good. Through studying the Bible with Jesus the center, prayer and fasting, and sometimes through advice of mature spiritual elders the Holy Spirit will guide us. A good example is the road that lead Paul to be chained in Jerusalem and lead Peter and John to stand before the Jewish leadership.

* "until the day of Christ" -Jesus second coming is mentioned twice. A loving believer always lives with the thought of their bridegroom's imminent return.

>Why does he want to see these things?

* "may be pure and blameless" -Jesus' blood cleanses us from sin. Now we can have a personal relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. When Jesus comes to take us to him we will all individually stand before the Bema seat. The lives we lived will be examined. All that was done with faith, hope and love will survive. All that was not will be burned away.

* "filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ" -Righteousness is only through Jesus Christ. The fruit of righteousness is what springs up in us because of the righteousness that Jesus bore in us. The fruits of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self control.

* "to the glory and praise of God" -All that is good in us is solely the work of God. God's glory and praise is to be manifested and recognized.

II. For to Me, to Live is Christ (12-30)

>5. While Paul was imprisoned, to whom. did he preach the gospel?

* Philippians 1:12-13 "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ."

* "what has happened to me" -being arrested in Jerusalem, sent to Caesarea in Roman chains, and being transferred to a prison in Rome awaiting trials before Caesar. All of this is recorded in Acts 21:27-28:31.

* "has really served to advance the gospel" -Paul was able to witness to the Jewish mob who tried to killed him in Jerusalem, in several Roman courts, to Caesar's household and the guards assigned to him, and the following were written while in Rome: the book of Acts, this letter, and letters to the Ephesians, Colossians, and to Philemon. Now that's advancing the gospel no only geographically, but through time, two thousand years worth to this very day!

* The Philippians had not seen or heard of Paul for some time. They loved him as he had loved them. They were concerned when they found out he was awaiting trial in Rome. "With Paul in prison," they must have thought, "how can be be of any use in the gospel work." Paul reassured that this all happened to advance the gospel. The road may have looked unclear while going to Jerusalem and immediately after being jailed, but no more. Jesus had said to Paul when he first came to him on the road to Antioch that he would appear before kings. God was fulfilling that now and more.

* "whole palace guards" -The palace guards were a contingent of soldiers, numbering several thousand. This was Caesar's court, members of the Praetorian Guard, the Roman patricians, and members of Caesar's household. Many would have had personal contact with Paul. Every four hours was a new shift and the guard changed.

* "I am in chains for Christ" -Paul was arrested not because of what the Jews wanted to do, not because of what the commander wanted when he was arrested, not because Paul pleaded to have Caesar hear his case, but because of his service to Christ. I need to see what happens to me from God's point of view too.

>What was the response of silent and inactive brethren when Paul was imprisoned? (14)

* Philippians 1:14 "Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly."

* "most of the brothers in the Lord" -Not all of them to their shame. (Matt. 10:32-33)

* "have been encouraged" -They saw how God took care of Paul, saving him from being stoned, and enabled him to preach to so many.

*"to speak the word of God" -Every believer is to speak the word of God. To speak the word of God we need to have the Holy Spirit open our eyes as we study the Bible. Are you encouraged to speak the word of God?

* "more courageously and fearlessly" -Are you bold in your witness of the gospel? Or are you afraid of what will happen to you? The later is love of this world over love of God. Shame on us if we love the world and are afraid to witness. It is never easy for me to witness to Jesus. I've done it thousands and thousands of time. Most of the time an initial fear comes over me before I speak. There has been a few times that I did not speak. Shame on me, forgive me Lord and make me bold every time. You should pray for boldness too.

>6. What were the different kinds of motives that led people to preach the gospel?

* Philippians 1:15-17 "It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains."

* "some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry" -The KJV translates "strife" instead of "rivalry". In Greek its "eris" meaning "to stir up" - referring to demons, the spirits, that stir up strife. By preaching Jesus some hoped that it would do harm to Paul and his case and/or put them over him. Some were competing so as to say they were apostles like Paul, only greater than him because they reached more people. Envy and strife are among the most destructive forces inside the church. Paul mentions them several times in this letter. A ministry I was serving Jesus in a long time ago constantly made competitions and counted numbers to see who was greater and who was less. I never liked that and made sure that I had the right motive in witnessing about Jesus, and preaching and teaching the Bible. The Lord was kind to me leading me to study the Bible with more than all the others. Yet, I really really didn't and still don't care even to this day. I just rejoice that I am used to advance the gospel and many overseers (shepherds) have been prepared for the service of the gospel. Even with this new ministry the Lord has lead me to serve thousands upon thousand all around the world, including places where it is illegal to believe in Jesus. The ministries I have served in have been no advantage to me and has even cost me. Yet, the joy of the Lord fills my heart and I am so happy to be used even though I am mocked and considered not right by the world. David said he'd rather serve as a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than live in the tents and mansions of the wicked rich and famous. (Ps. 84:10) Me too. My home is the New Jerusalem and I will serve my Lord there, so why wait till I'm there.

* "but others out of goodwill" -We are to preach the gospel, but not for any old reason. We should preach out of goodwill in love. Jesus will judge our hearts on judgment day. What motives will he see when he looks at our hearts?

* "in love" -Jesus said that the law can be broken down into two commandments, love for God and love for others.

* "the defense of the gospel" -Continually the case against Paul was preaching Jesus and that the gospel was destroying society, religion, or both.

>How did Paul respond? (18)

* Philippians 1:18 "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,"

* "the important thing is... Christ is preached" -Every pastor, shepherd, and overseer should be sure that Christ is preached. Jesus should be the center of all, the focal point. Even in this letter Paul focus' on Jesus for he is referred to forty times, twice as much as any other topic including joy.

>What can we learn from him?

* "rejoice" -Joy is hearing Jesus preached, taught, and proclaimed.

* Do not look at what others are doing for christ and be envious or jealous. Do what is given me and rejoice in all that is done for Christ.

* Have a non-judging "what does it matter" attitude.

>7. What kind of help did Paul ask for his deliverance? (19)

* Philippians 1:19 "for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance."

* "through your prayers" -The exchanges that had taken place (see intro) between Paul and the congregation at Philippi Paul had learned how they had prayed for him. They must have prayed after he last left them, while they didn't know where he had all gone, and while he was in prison. We should always pray for one another, especially our spiritual elders.

* "the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ" -The Holy Spirit helps us in all situations.

* "turn out for my deliverance" -Paul knew that God was working behind the scenes to allow him to be released. The next time he would be in Roman chains (five years later in 67 A.D.) he would know that his life and service in this world was over.

>8. In Jesus, what kind of purpose of life did Paul have?

* Philippians 1:20 "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."

* "not be ashamed" -Paul did not want to be ashamed of Jesus. He wanted to preach Jesus even in front of Caesar Nero (reign from 54-68 A.D.) who despised Jews and Christians.

* "Christ will be exalted in my body" -Is Jesus exalted in our bodies? Do we exhibit self control by being filled with the Spirit? Do we beat our bodies and make it our slave?

>What kind of personal relationship did he have with Jesus? (21; Rom.1:5; Gal.2:20)

* Philippians 1:21 "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

* "to live is Christ" -Paul lived to serve and to get to know Jesus. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." (John 10:10b)

* "to die is gain" -Physical death is not the end of existence. Physical death in Jesus is life evermore in his presence. The sinful nature dies in the grave and we go to God. At the resurrection we will be given new powerful resurrections bodies much better than the ones we have now. (1 Cor. 15) For those in Christ, to die is to gain.

>9. What kind of decision did Paul make when he was in conflict between the desire to die and to remain alive? (22-26)

* Philippians 1:22-26 "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! 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 joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me."

* "living in the body" -Paul speaks of himself as occupying the shell of the body, referring to it as a thing he is in. He makes a distinction between himself and his body. Our life is not sustained and contained in the physical and chemical unit called the flesh. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

* "fruitful labor for me" -The more people we witness to the more chances that our witness will produce fruit. Jesus said that we are scattering the seed of the word of God. If it sinks into a person, grows, and produces a crop our witness has become fruitful. We are farmers. Are we fruitful or lazy farmers?

* "which will I choose" -Not that Paul took his life in his own hands, but that he was waging a debate in his mind as to which is more desirable.

* "better by far" -For Paul and us personally it is better to die and be with Jesus.

* "more necessary for you" -Paul loved the Philippians and knew that if we remained alive in the flesh he could serve them. Once we depart this world we can not serve and help anyone in this world.

* "for your progress and joy in the faith" -Our ministry to others is for their progress and joy. To many in ministry and spiritual leadership have personal agendas based on personal biases.

>10. What does it mean to conduct oneself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ?

* Philippians 1:27-28 "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God."

* "conduct yourselves" -When we are filled with the Spirit we have self control.

* "worthy of the gospel of Christ" -Our verbal witness should match are physical witness.

* "stand firm in one spirit" -There should be no disharmony in a congregation. Philippi has a slight problem between two powerful women. There was a struggle for control. (4:2)

* "This is a sign to them" -Jesus taught, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)

>11. Why do we have to participate in the suffering of Christ? (29)

* Philippians 1:29-30 "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have."

* "granted to you" -A king will grant favors to those he deems deserving it.

* "on behalf of Christ" -What the Lord gives us is for the honor and glory of Jesus.

* "but also to suffer" -All disciples of Jesus will suffer for him. The Philippian believers saw that Paul was persecuted when they first believed and now they are going through the same persecutions. Jesus said we should count the cost of following him.

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