Philippians 1:3-11

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015



I remind you that Paul wrote Philippians from prison in Rome in approximately A.D. 61 or 62, about ten years after Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke first arrived in Philippi with the gospel message. Acts closes in about A.D. 60 with Paul in prison in Rome awaiting trial. Philippians seems to have been written after the close of Acts but before Paul's release from his first Roman imprisonment. No correlations are able to be made between what is stated in Philippians and the events recorded in Acts to enable anyone to be more specific than this.

As Paul writes Philippians, he is hopeful of being released soon. Certain statements in Philippians hint that Paul's trial may have already concluded and that he was only awaiting the verdict of life or death at the time he wrote this epistle. Although the verdict could call for him to be executed, Paul was expecting to be released from prison.

I. Paul's Opening Greeting - 1:1-2

Philippians 1:1-2 - 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.

II. Paul's Thanksgiving and Prayer - 1:3-11

Philippians 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.

I thank is I am thanking, I am giving thanks, or I am repeatedly thanking.

My God, which refers to God the Father, is the One Whom Paul is repeatedly thanking.

Upon every remembrance of you implies that whenever Paul thinks of the Philippian believers, he thanks God for them.

Philippians 1:4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.

Always is at all times. It does not mean that Paul is praying for them throughout a twenty-four-hour day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. It means, instead, that whenever Paul remembers the Philippian believers, he always makes mention of them or makes request for them.

In every prayer of mine for you all suggests in every entreaty of mine on behalf of you all.

Making request with joy suggests making request joyfully. It indicates that Paul has prayed a particular prayer with regard to these Philippian believers.

Paul's basis for his prayed is -

Philippians 1:5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.

For your fellowship is upon your close relationship and indicates the basis upon which Paul is joyfully making his request.

In the gospel suggests that they had joined Paul in proclaiming the gospel in Philippi. In the gospel is with respect to the gospel or in relation to the gospel rather than in some other type of association. In some way they had labored with Paul in spreading the gospel.

Philippians 4:2-3 - 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.

From the first day until now suggests the length of time Paul has partnered with them in proclaiming the gospel message.

The first day indicates the day Paul first met them when Lydia constrained him and his associates to stay in her home (Acts 16:15 ), and until now is until the present, i.e. until the present day, i.e. the day in which Paul was writing this epistle.

Philippians 1:6 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.

In verse 6 Paul expresses his confidence that God will continue His work of saving the Philippian believers until Christ returns at the rapture when He will finish or complete the work of salvation.

The tense of being confident of this very thing indicates that it is referring to a state of being. Something has happened in the past which remains true at the time Paul is writing this epistle. It is a settled matter and not open to review.

It is understood in the sense of I have been convinced or I am convinced, and it has been translated in a way which emphasizes the result of its action.

What Paul was convinced of is this very thing, i.e. of this same thing: that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

He is referring to God the Father.

He which hath begun is the One Who has begun or the One Who began.

What He has begun is a good work (i.e. a good deed or a good action) and refers to the Philippian believers' salvation.

In you refers to the Philippian believers and tells where God has begun this good work and suggests in their lives.

Will perform it is predictive of a future event which is definitely going to happen and supports the Biblical doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. God is not going to lose any of these believers along the way. Once a person has been genuinely born again, he will never, under any circumstances, lose his salvation. God will continue to save him and will eventually complete what He has started.

Will perform it is will bring (it) to an end or will finish (it). The fact that He will bring it to an end implies that He is in the process of doing it in the present and is reminiscent of the three tenses of salvation.

Whereas hath begun a good work in you refers to the past tense of salvation, will perform it refers to the present tense of salvation; and until the day of Christ refers to the future tense of salvation.

God saves believers the instant they place their trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. In another sense He is in the process of saving these same believers and will continue saving them until the day the Lord returns at the rapture or until they die. The future tense of salvation takes place at the rapture when believers experience the redemption or glorification of the body, when they will be made completely like the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, God began the work of salvation in believers when they believed the gospel, He is continuing it now by changing our lives, and He will bring it to its completion at the rapture.

Until the day of Jesus Christ indicates how long God will perform this work of salvation which He has begun in believers. It is Jesus Christ's day and refers to the rapture of believers, the time mentioned in I Thessalonians 4:16-17 ,

I Thessalonians 4:16-17 - (16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The Lord Jesus Christ will come at the rapture and will meet believers in the air. This may occur at any time and will begin the tribulation era.

Philippians 1:7 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.

Even as introduces a comparison and is understood as just as.

It is meet is it is right or it is just.

For me, where me is emphatic, refers to the Apostle Paul.

To think this is to be thinking this.

The content of this refers to verses 3-6. Paul loves the Philippian believers dearly and longs for their fellowship. He is confident that they are genuinely saved and that he which hath begun a good work in you [i.e. a reference to God the Father] will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. God the Father will complete their salvation at the rapture.

Of you all is of all of you and refers to the Philippian believers. The use of all indicates that it refers to the group as a whole and not just to some of them.

Because I have you in my heart provides the reason it is right for Paul to think this of them all.

I have you in my heart indicates that Paul has a great love and appreciation for these believers at Philippi. It is an ongoing relationship. They are his dear friends, and he continues to love and appreciate them.

Heart is not limited to being the seat of emotions and affections. This is the meaning of bowels in verse 8. Heart includes, not only the emotions, but also the mind and will. This thought is brought out clearly in Proverbs 23:7 ,

Proverbs 23:7 - For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.

In Philippians 1:7 Paul's statement, I have you in my heart is reminiscent of the modern phrase, I have you on my mind, implying that he is greatly, genuinely, and continuously concerned for them. Paul's heart was knit together with the hearts of the Philippian believers at the time of their salvation. He had gone to Philippi and proclaimed the gospel, and they were saved and showed great growth in the time he was there. However, after a short while, he was forced to leave.

Inasmuch as . . . ye are suggests because (or since) you are.

Both followed by and introduce two different places where the Philippian believers are partakers of Paul's grace: 1) in Paul's bonds and 2) in Paul's defense and confirmation of the gospel.

In my bonds refers to Paul's fetters as a prisoner of the Roman government. It may instead refer to the fact of his imprisonment rather than to the actual bonds or fetters which held him.

The defence (or defense) of the gospel indicates that Paul was defending the gospel. Although in one sense the gospel needs no defense, in another sense Paul was arguing or debating on behalf of the gospel with anybody and everybody who would come his way, seeking to persuade them both of the truth of the gospel and of the falsehood of whatever else they believed.

The confirmation of the gospel is the establishment of the gospel. Paul was confirming or establishing the gospel. This is reminiscent of Paul's practice described in Acts 28:23 ,

Acts 28:23 - And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

It is also reminiscent of Acts 28:30-31 ,

Acts 28:30-31 - (30) And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, (31) Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

The defence and confirmation of the gospel may also include Paul's defense in his trial before the Roman emperor, especially if it had already taken place.

Ye all are is you all are and refers to the Philippian believers and includes all of them, not just a few of them.

Partakers is partners, sharers, or participants.

Of my grace refers to Paul's spiritual gift as an apostle and indicates what the Philippian believers shared with Paul. It was in Paul's exercise of his gift as an apostle that the Philippian believers had heard the good news that Christ died for their sins. As a consequence, they believed the gospel; and they then experienced the teaching ministry of the Apostle Paul and were built up in the faith until Paul was thrust out of their presence. Even in the writing of this epistle, they were recipients of the benefits of Paul's gift as an apostle.

In a similar way, you are the recipients of my grace, i.e. of my gift as a pastor teacher, in that I have exercised my spiritual gift in teaching you the Bible.

The Philippian believers also had previously sent him gifts and had now sent him another gift which occasioned the writing of this epistle. They had also prayed for Paul and his ministry. In these ways they were actively sharing with him in his apostolic ministry in the same way local churches share in the ministries of missionaries they support.

Philippians 1:8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

For is emphatic and understood in the sense of indeed or certainly.

God is not just any god. He is God the Father, the God of Christianity, the God of heaven, the God of the Bible.

God is my record, where my refers to Paul, is God is my witness. Paul is affirming the truth of what he is saying. If anyone doubts it, he can call upon God and ask for this information. This indicates that the highest power in existence is there to testify on Paul's behalf.

What God is able to testify is how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

How greatly is how.

I long after is I am longing for, I am yearning for, or I am desiring.

You all, which refers to the Philippian believers, indicates that Paul greatly desires or longs after every one of these Philippian believers. There is no favoritism here.

In the bowels of Jesus Christ is an interesting expression to the twenty-first-century English mind.

Bowels is literally inward parts or entrails and is used figuratively as the seat of the emotions. In modern English it corresponds with heart and implies tender mercies, i.e in the tender mercies of Jesus Christ.

Of Jesus Christ may mean which belong to Jesus Christ, which are produced by Jesus Christ, or which are from Jesus Christ. What Paul is saying is that deep down in the innermost recesses of his very being, Jesus Christ has produced a longing for the Philippian believers.

Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.

Verse 9 introduces Paul's prayer on behalf of the Philippian believers. It continues through verse 11.

And this I pray is and this I am praying. It is not necessarily limited to Paul's one-time statement which follows. The content of this is:

(9) . . . 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.

That introduces Paul's prayer.

Your love refers to the Philippian believers' love, the sort of love God demonstrated when He sent the Lord Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay for sin. It is a love which gives itself completely on behalf of someone else without expecting anything in return. Love is also part of the fruit of the Spirit.

May abound expresses Paul's wish or desire for the Philippian believers. It means may be present in abundance and implies that Paul desires that their love grow or increase beyond what it already is.

Yet more and more means to a still greater degree. The Philippian believers were expressing their love for the Lord and for the Apostle Paul by sending this gift to him, and Paul's desire is that their love grow even greater and suggests that the love of believers can continue to grow until the Lord takes them home or until their love reaches the full measure of the love that God has. Consequently, the longer an individual has been saved, the more this love for the Lord and for others ought to manifest itself.

In knowledge and in all judgment is within the realm of knowledge and within the realm of all judgment.

In knowledge is in a full (or complete) knowledge (or recognition). It is thorough-going in that the individual knows something fully or completely.

And in all judgment, i.e. and in all insight or in all experience.

Love is based upon a full knowledge and upon insight or experience. Love is not vague or blind. Love is discerning. It discerns between right and wrong conduct, between truth and error, between right and wrong practice, between correct and false doctrine, and between genuineness and hypocrisy.

Their love is tempered by knowledge and all judgment and does not step outside the bounds provided by knowledge and all judgment. Love is not some sickening, sentimental feeling that is lightly expressed as it often has been in the twenty-first century. Furthermore, a proper love for the Lord will never lead someone to disobey the Lord in order to do something for the Lord. The zeal and enthusiasm of new converts must never involve them in unscriptural activities.

Philippians 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.

That ye may approve implies that they must first put things to the test and that they must then accept them as proven or that they must approve them after having put them to the test. They need to be discerning.

What they must approve is things that are excellent, which means the things that are worth more, the things that are superior, or the things that really matter.

In life many things are totally worthless, and the Christian should not involve himself with these. Most Christians have no problem discerning between what is worthless and what is right and proper. It is more difficult, however, to discern something that is good from something that is excellent.

Somebody has said that the good is the enemy of the best. Believers can waste their time doing things that are good but neglect things that are best or things that really matter in life. For example, one may easily use his time in much activity without ever accomplishing anything. It would be far better for him to use his time in Bible study, prayer, witnessing, and godly living rather than to use his time watching and/or participating in fun activities.

Although there may be nothing wrong with many of these things, doing them does not really accomplish anything as far as eternity is concerned. One needs to discern what he will consider important five minutes after his death. He will find that these are the things he ought to be doing or approving now. It is the things that are excellent. The abounding of their love within the realm of the full knowledge of God and His Word will enable these believers to be discerning and, therefore, approve things that are excellent.

Sincere means pure in a moral sense.

Without offence means blameless.

There are many things in life that will ruin Christians, and Satan would love to see believers involved in some of these practices. They need to stay away from them. Satan does not care how he ruins believers as long as he ruins them.

Philippians 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Being filled with is while you are being filled with or and that you may be filled with.

The fruits of righteousness may indicate 1) that it is fruits which are characterized by righteousness, 2) that it is fruits which are righteous, 3) that it is righteousness or uprightness which produces fruits, or 4) that fruits themselves are righteousness so that the phrase means being filled with righteousness. I prefer this last one, being filled with righteousness, as the best choice.

Which are by Jesus Christ is used to restrict or limit the meaning of fruits.

By Jesus Christ is through Jesus Christ or by means of Jesus Christ.

Unto the glory and praise of God indicates the purpose of these fruits of righteousness. They have been given in order that they might produce glory and praise for God the Father. God is the one Who is going to receive glory and praise. He will be glorified and praised.