“Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1,2). Paul opens the book of Philippians with a simple greeting to the church at Philippi. In verse 3, Paul thanks God every time he remembers them.
This is because “Paul’s treatment by the unbelievers in the city of Philippi was very bitter. He and Silas had been beaten by many stripes…they had been harshly cast into the inner prison and their feet made fast in stocks; but out of it all a most faithful church had grown that has shown an earnest love for Paul, that followed him in his labors and sufferings with their prayers and their contributions for his help, so that every time he called them to remembrance his heart overflowed with thanksgiving to God for them” (Lipscomb, pg. 157).
Read Philippians 1:4-11. In verse 6, Paul does not refer to himself as the founder of the church at Philippi, even though in a sense he was the founder. “Paul, however, preferred to give the glory to God, recognizing the Father as the one who actually converted them and brought them to a saving knowledge of the Savior” (Coffman, pgs. 245-246).
Paul could have easily bragged here, saying, “Look what I did. I started an extremely faithful church in the midst of wickedness.”, but he did not. He gave God the glory. Have you ever bragged about something that you have done? I know that I have a few times. Instead of bragging and glorifying ourselves, we should glorify God in our works (Colossians 3:17).
“[T]hat you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” (1:10). Paul told the Philippians that they need to grow in knowledge of God’s Word so that they will not sin while living the Christian life. Paul wanted the church to practice sound doctrine from generation to generation. Are we, as Christians, studying to know if our worship to God is acceptable to Him or if the preacher is preaching false things? “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Read Philippians 1:12-18. Paul was put in prison for preaching Christ and everyone knew it. Being put in prison did not make Paul quit preaching the gospel. The only thing that could stop Paul was death and he even glorified God in his death. Paul was chained to a Roman soldier at all times. Throughout the day, the soldier would be replaced with another soldier, giving Paul the prime opportunity to preach Christ to different people while being held captive (Coffman, pg. 250). We should never, under any circumstance, stop spreading the gospel, even if our lives are on the line, just like Paul.
Read Philippians 1:19-26. In verse 20, Paul makes the statement that Christ will be magnified in his body, whether by life or by death. “God is not magnified in political movements, earthly cathedrals, temples, or church houses, but in the bodies of Christians (Coffman, pg. 253). To magnify Christ in our bodies is to let people see Christ through our actions. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (1:21). “To exalt and glorify Christ was [Paul’s] only incentive in life” (Lipscomb, pg. 168). Paul had an unwavering faith that caused him to view death as the door to a new and more glorious life. By living, we are physically separated from God, but if we live a faithful Christian life, death will bring us to an eternal life with Christ.
When a faithful Christian dies, they gain the life with God that they have been working for during their time on earth. “[T]o depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (1:23). Paul says “that the after-death state of Christians will be ‘very far better’ than any earthly life, however blessed” (Coffman, pg. 254). We, as Christians, should not fear death, for it brings us a life living in heaven with the Lord our Savior.
Read Philippians 1:27-30. The Philippian church was suffering persecution from their enemies at the time. Paul tells them to strive “together for the faith of the gospel” (1:27). We should encourage and support one another, overcoming adversaries. If there is no unity in the church, it will be easier for Satan to destroy it. “[T]o suffer for His sake” (1:29). Life will not always be easy, but God will always be there for us. God has not promised blue skies all of our lives. He has not promised sun without rain or joy without sorrow. God has not promised no temptation and trials. He has not promised that our load will always be light as we walk life’s path. But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the laborer, light for the way, grace for the trials, help from above, and undying love.
Coffman, James Burton. Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Abilene: A.C.U. Press, 1977. 241-257.
Lipscomb, David. A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles. Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1968. 155-175.