Day 321 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue start Philippians. Here’s the overview video for Philippians.
Video – Read Scripture: Philippians
How does this video help you understand Philippians better?
Philippians 1 – Paul’s greeting to the Philippians sounds the theme of the Gospel of grace immediately. That Paul could speak of himself as a servant of Christ Jesus testifies to God’s grace in the life of a man who had been an arrogant and self-righteous persecutor of the church ( ; Philippians ). And since “saints” literally means “holy ones,” Paul reminds us that in the Gospel our identity has been fundamentally changed. Having been cleansed by the work of Jesus once and for all, we are empowered to live holy lives that reflect our new identity. The imperatives (what we do) of the Gospel are based on the indicatives (our new identity) provided to us through our relationship with Jesus.
Grace and peace are more than mere greetings: they are two of God’s greatest gifts through the Gospel. Grace (God’s unmerited favor or undeserved lavish blessing) and peace (restored, non-hostile relationship with God) come only through Jesus’ self-sacrificing work on the cross and His subsequent resurrection (Philippians 2:1–11).
The remarkable prayer of Paul for the Philippians spills over with the thankfulness that meditation on the Gospel of grace produces.
The word Paul uses for “partnership” is the Greek term koinonia, often translated “fellowship.” Used six times in Philippians (1:5, 7; 2:1; 3:10; 4:14–15), here in verse 5 and in 4:14–15 it includes the idea of working together for the advance of the Gospel. The same word in verse 7 (translated “partakers”) carries the idea of participating together in the grace of salvation
Believers are empowered to live as a community marked by ongoing thankfulness and confidence in God’s continued work among them. Paul continues his reflection on the Gospel by explaining that God’s work is not hindered by the persecution that has come to him. Quite the opposite. God is using it to advance the Gospel.
Our confidence and joy in the Gospel is not diminished by trials. Hostility, when rightly viewed through the Gospel, can embolden us to speak good news without fear, as it did for Paul and his colleagues. Just as Paul finds that he can rejoice in persecution and even in those who preach out of rivalry, we too are freed from fearing the suffering that comes because of our allegiance to Jesus. After all, such suffering ushers us into profound communion with Jesus, our suffering Savior (see Philippians 3:10).
Paul repeats the main theme of the letter in verses 19-30: rejoicing in the Gospel no matter what the circumstances. This is not a blind or naive rejoicing. Nor is it a pain-denying stoicism. It is confidence that God’s purposes will triumph in the end.
Personally, Paul faces a dilemma as he writes. He contemplates the possibility of death by Roman execution, and wonders which is better: remaining on in the flesh or dying. Either way, Paul wants Jesus to be honored in his body. In one of the most famous and powerful statements in Philippians, Paul acknowledges that death is “gain” but that continued living is “Christ” (v. 21). This remarkable affirmation of the union of a Believer with the once-suffering and now-risen Lord gives us important insight into our own relationship with the Savior.
The life that we now live in union with Jesus furthers our understanding of the One who gives us His identity and resources despite our sin and weaknesses. The result is that we may be confident of God’s care and purpose for each of us, as His precious child, united to all others who are in Jesus.
Paul tells the Philippians to live as “citizens” worthy of the gospel. They are citizens of heaven, even as they suffer in this world. Paul reminds them that as they stand firm, united in the Gospel, unafraid of their opponents, their lives become a sign of the Gospel itself.
Since we are united to Jesus and our citizenship is in heaven, we are enabled to face persecution with joyful steadfastness. In doing so, we uphold the truthfulness of the good news of Jesus who suffered for us. Amazingly, we can face even the most difficult situations with joy. We are empowered by a joy that defies any explanation by the world’s categories.
How does the Gospel provide you with unexplainable joy, regardless of your circumstances?
Philippians 2 – The hymn in verses describes the Gospel as it was lived out by Jesus. Despite His equality with God, Jesus “emptied” Himself of heavenly privileges, taking the form of a servant and humbling Himself to the point of death. The lowest point of Jesus’ humiliation was crucifixion, a violent means of punishing and degrading the lowliest of criminals. Yet God raised Jesus to eventual universal praise. Jesus’ humble death, burial, and resurrection for our sins is the essence of the Gospel ( Corinthians ).
Paul makes the Gospel application for Believers clear: unity (v. 2), humility (v. 3), and service (v. 4) is the path to which we are invited. Since we are one with Jesus, Believers are given Jesus’ mind-set toward each other: having the same love, being of one mind, pursuing no rivalry, doing nothing from empty conceit, always prioritizing the interests of others.
For Paul, this lifestyle of humility is again linked to “koinonia” (1:5, 7), but here the encouragement is “in Christ” and the empowering is our “participation in the Spirit.” Since we are one with Jesus by the Spirit, we are empowered to act as one and reflect Jesus.
Paul does not pretend that working out the implications of the Gospel into a lifestyle of practical humility is easy. But when we apply the Gospel to ourselves with the radical humility of Jesus, we stand out in the world as lights for Jesus. The application of the Gospel is tremendously difficult work. It requires working out our salvation “with fear and trembling,” all the while trusting God to do the work of the Gospel in us. Meanwhile, we live with a luminous joy, seeking to be free of grumbling and complaining.
As followers of Jesus, we cannot expect our path to be one of ease. Salvation by grace is totally free, but that does not mean there is no personal cost (Luke 14:28). God is at work, but there is strenuous work for us to do as well. And yet the strain of living for Jesus does not eclipse our joy. The redemption into which we have been swept up is too great to be tepid about. What a Gospel this is! Reflecting on God’s grace to us, the very “children of God,” our hearts are softened once more.
Paul now holds up two other servants already known to the Philippians as Christlike models of servant-humility: Timothy (vv. 19–24), who is genuinely concerned for their welfare; and Epaphroditus (vv. 25–30), who nearly died twice in his service for the Lord.
Timothy emulates Jesus’ model of not merely looking to his own interests, as he is “genuinely concerned” for the “welfare” of the Philippians.
Similarly, Epaphroditus, another partner in the Gospel, exemplifies Christlike, other-centered Gospel service, and so Paul had already sent him to Philippi. Paul’s sense of Gospel unity and partnership with Epaphroditus is so strong that he speaks of him as a “brother,” “fellow worker,” “fellow soldier,” “messenger,” and “minister”—all in just one verse (v. 25). Paul’s affection for Epaphroditus was so potent that his death would have caused “sorrow upon sorrow.”
We need biblical teaching on godly self-sacrifice, but we also need models of those who have placed their faith and hope in Jesus. He is the primary model of humble service. But let us also look around ourselves today for men and women who, like Timothy and Epaphroditus, set an example of humble, sacrificial service because they are living in gratitude for God’s grace.
People like Timothy and Epaphroditus should be honored (v. 29), commended, and unleashed for ministry (vv. 19, 25, 28) even as we rejoice in God for their lives. Living for Jesus is not easy. It requires humility, service, and complete dependence on God’s grace. A redemptive perspective on others that views them as examples not in place of Jesus but for the sake of Jesus encourages us in this grace.
Who do you look to who reflects Jesus to you and continuously points you to follow Jesus?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.
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