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This is a personal Bible study in Philippians Ive been working on in the mornings. I have written it out mostly in commentary form. Please verify all things I have written imitating the Bereans in Acts 17:11 "they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so". Thank You! Robin Aylor 11/09/18.

Philippians 2 (ESV)

2:1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 

When you ponder Jesus in your life what affections stir?  Remember the song “Count your many blessings name them one by one”? What are some of the blessings you have that come from knowing Jesus? In your own words how would you describe any encouragement, comfort or joy that you have on a daily basis in Christ?

 

Paul says if there is anything good in Christ… Bring it on! Fill me up! Paul indicates that if Jesus is what satisfies the Philippians then for them to join with him in this venture will complete his joy. 

 

We considered the importance of unity in chapter one paralleling it with how soldiers in war should be unified if they want to obtain victory. Here Paul analyzes the details that make up the unity we need to maintain as we maintain our charge. 

 

In verse 1 and 2 Paul begins mentioning these unifying factors in Christ. Knowing we are loved is comforting and actually seeing Christ's love work out in our life strengthens our faith. There is the amazing participation of the Holy Spirit that is ours in Christ along with Gods affection and sympathy toward us. Now we have this desire that our joy be completed by internalizing these attributes of God and being sympathetic and affectionate and loving toward others pointing one another to Jesus and his glory… thereby being in unity with Christ. God created us in a fashion that we find our fullest joy and delight when we see him as beautiful and are in this fellowship of unity with him.

 

Paul continues with details of how our Unity together and in Christ plays out practically.

3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 

Of course we can all likely remember when our goal in life was for our own earthly benefit. To be well liked, to make enough money and have enough things to sustain happiness. But for believers the foundation beneath our life motivation has changed. We have a new Master and a new undertaking. Instead of self centered conceit and ambition, we look out for the good of others for Christs sake. This brings us joy now. Our mission is not a “Me Mission” any longer but a “Messiah Mission”. The fundamental objective from which all our purposes and actions flow has changed. Sure, we do many of the same things we used to. We work to make money and provide for family and we enjoy holidays and vacations and we have hobbies. But somehow the bedrock of our being has been replaced. Now when we surf the web, when we shop at the store, when we watch tv, when we work and play… The Holy Spirit reminds us of what it says in: 

  • 1st Corinthians10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

    • As we do so, we find JOY!!!

 

This is the mission Jesus was on for his Father and the same charge he gave to his disciples to hand to us. Jesus was our perfect example in life and in his death. We are to be united in that we take up our cross dying to self and living for him daily.

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

 

The Philippians knew Jesus was the promised Messiah. This one who would come and be good news… the only hope for sinful man. And they knew he was obedient to the Father in receiving the wages of our sins with his death on the cross.

This is the good news God wants you to delight in and find your hope in. God wants you to believe in Jesus. He died to receive the wages of our sin and he rose again that he might stand up for us on judgment day. In his rising he gives us access to that same power but over sin in every day life as we walk with him. In his rising he will raise all who believe in him up with glorified bodies no longer tainted by sin and entropy. There will be no more wages of sin paid us and therefore no more death. Would you delight in Jesus as good news even now?

Paul is wanting the Philippians to be like Christ in submission to God... in trusting his commands as a safe haven even in laying down our live.

 

9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus pleased his Father. He fulfilled his mission as the offspring of the woman who would be the only hope for sinful man. Where Adam failed in disobedience and where we fall short of Gods glory, Jesus was successful. He never sinned… and yet he was willing to receive the wages of our sins on the Cross. Jesus is good news for everyone who delights in him as good news. In his humility God raised him up from the grave and exalted him that every knee should bow and all should agree and confess he is Lord. In this the Father is glorified and well pleased.

God will be pleased in us also as we persevere in him. 

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Yes, the Philippians were to be intentional about persevering in Christ. To “work out” implies that one is to be studied and purposeful and serious as it says even to the point of “fear and trembling”… and yet at the same time, the Philippians were a work in progress by God himself. Not only were the good works they preformed motivated and quickened by God, but even their desire and will to deliberately seek the things of God came from him. Notice the two paradoxical uses of the word “work”. In verse 12 we are to work out our own salvation, but in verse 13 he says for it is God who works in us even so far as conforming our will. These were gifts of Gods grace at work in their life.

  • Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

 

Again, we are to be intentional regarding all matters of salvation concerning our new life in Christ.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 

 

Instead of blending in with the world, we are to shine as one who has seen Gods glory in Jesus. Remember when Moses came down from the Mountain the second time with the 10 Commandments and how his skin shown. He had seen the glory of God. This is a good example of how Gods glory changes us spiritually. A good example of shining for God in the world is Peter and John who had spent years with Jesus.

  • Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

 

We are not to conform to this world but be transformed. That is what happened to Peter and John and that is what God wants for us.

  • Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

Again my favorite verse… we are transformed as we see more of Gods glory.

  • 2nd Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,e are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.f For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

 

In Verse 16 Paul highlights that we should hold fast to the word of life. We are to be intentional about persevering to the end. The word of life is Jesus, the good news, the hope for sinful mankind which Jesus gave us by living a perfect life, dying our death and justifying us in rising from the dead. We are honored to carry this good news every day all the way to our death and all the way we are understanding more and more as our eyes are enlightened to more and more of his glory.

17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

 

Paul had laid down his life many times and in a sense been poured out as a drink offering to God that the faith of the church might be strengthened. Paul was willing to die for Jesus and did not hesitate to risk his life for the sake of the Gospel over and over.

Notice the communal language Paul uses here… 

"I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.”

This unified way of thinking and speaking reminds us we are family and one is not better than another. We all share in the same grace of God through Jesus and we should live out our lives in this heart of humility.

 

Next: Timothy and Epaphroditus

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you.

Paul had a deep connection with the Philippians in Christ which he has already mentioned. Timothy was Paul’s trusted brother in the Lord who he hoped to send and find out all the news of the church in Philippi.

Consider how a mother hopes well for her children. When they are away she longs to know how they are doing… Their joys and sorrows… even her grandchildren. In a sense I expect many of the Philippian believers were Paul’s children in that they had come to Christ because of him. Paul longed for news of how God was working in their lives, what problems they faced and to know of others who had come to Christ from their witness… And so he would hope to send Timothy.

20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.

These words about Timothy are inspiring. Yet for Paul to say he didn’t have anyone else who would show genuine concern for these Philippian believers is a scary statement. I assume Paul was talking about all the other believers that he was in association and contact with. None who would be genuinely concerned.

21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 

Do you ever wake up and find yourself drawn away from genuine love for others in Christ and instead you are all wrapped up in your own interest? I have. This can throw us off mission. Unfortunately since worldly selfish interest is in conflict with following Christ and repentance, sometimes it takes time to find your way back. 

22 But you know Timothy's proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

Paul uses the phrase “Proven Worth” to describe Timothy. The others with Paul had not been proven. In school that's what tests are for; they prove that a student would be of worth in an area of study. Paul says Timothy had served with him in the gospel like a son with his father. They must have went through some difficult tests together and Paul sent him many places to carry out ministry. Timothy had proved himself and therefore Paul could see that he would genuinely care for the Philippians without being led away with self distractions of interest.

Paul did however have someone else he could trust to send with this message to the Philippians… a man named Epaphroditus. Maybe he was a new believer, or one not equipped to serve the church in the way Timothy could, but clearly he was a person Paul deemed up for this task. Notice the encouraging introduction Paul gives for him.

25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and and minister to my need, 

Paul gives five titles that give a glimpse into who his man is. Notice the spirit of unity Paul has cultivated and woven throughout the letter so far. Epaphroditus is a brother in Christ (this indicates there is a common bond between all believers); he is a fellow worker (they worked side by side), a fellow soldier (they fought spiritual darkness together) “your messenger” Now Epaphroditus is also bringing this message to you. Consider how he would have traveled somewhere from 700 to 1,200 miles between Rome and Philippi depending on the route taken. It would have taken many weeks to make the journey and in unfavorable conditions possibly 3 months. That would be for each one way trip… on he returned he would do it all again, most of the way likely traveling on the Roman built roads Via Egnatia and Via Appia. This was a big deal as all kinds of dangers lurked including bad weather, thieves and wild animals. 

26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill.

Epaphroditus had a genuine spiritual connection and affection with the Philippians. He had spent time with those of the church in Philippi before. It may be that he was from that area… we do not know. Later in chapter 4 we find that the church in Philippi had sent gifts to Paul through Epaphroditus. 

  • Philippians 4:18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

 

27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 

So since Epaphroditus previous trip to Philippi he had returned to Paul and at some point become very ill, but apparently he was now recovered and ready to journey to Philippi again.

29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

 

Such Men:

Men like Timothy and Epaphroditus and also Paul who risk and risk and risk their lives over and over. Men who give their time with a genuine interest and love for others over selfish interest… Receive them joyfully with honor. 

 

At first it seems a little puzzling what Paul says about Epaphroditus concerning his risk of life.  “risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.” 

 

But I’m thinking it could be that of the whole church in Philippi, for a good while no one was willing to go out of the way to send messengers to Paul in Prison. Their service to Paul was found lacking. They did not intentionally with purposeful fortitude reach out and offer the comfort of Christ from his Philippian spiritual family to Paul while in prison. They did not tell him what great things God had been doing among them. These things would have encouraged Paul greatly… He must have longed to know how they were. at some point there was communication and now Paul is reaching out to them with this great letter inspired by God. Epaphroditus risk his life to complete what was lacking in the Philippians service to Paul.