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The Church at Philippi

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Christ, Suffering
Philippians 1:18b–30 KJV 1900
What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again. Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Difficult circumstances become bearable if we keep Christ and his purpose as our focus.
Maturity means being able to live with all kinds of emotions and still focus on Jesus.
1. “While suffering is not the dominant motif in Philippians, it constitutes the church's primary historical context in Philippi and thus underlies much of the letter. … Opposition and suffering probably lie behind a further—seldom noted—major motif in the letter: Paul's repeated emphasis on the believer's sure future with its eschatological triumph,” (Gordon D. Fee, Paul's Letter to the Philippians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995], 30).
2. Paul was able to hold both joy and sorrow at the same time as we see in this letter to the Philippians, as well as in
2 Corinthians 6:10 KJV 1900
As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
where he describes himself as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” This maturity gave him strength when he faced immense suffering for the gospel. All believers will find a similar capacity to endure hardship with pervasive trust in God when we develop this ability to hold positive and negative emotions simultaneously.
The second portion of this section focuses on Paul’s hope. “I eagerly expect and hope” introduce the content of Paul’s hope. The anticipation of his deliverance accorded perfectly with his lifelong hope that Christ would be glorified in him.

Paul stated his hope in two ways. First, he hoped that he would not be ashamed; second, that Christ would be exalted in his body.

Isaiah 28:16 KJV 1900
Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, A tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: He that believeth shall not make haste.
Romans 9:33 KJV 1900
As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Romans 10:11 KJV 1900
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

In Rom 9:33, he contrasted a stumbling over a stone (Christ) with those who do not stumble (i.e., are not put to shame). In Rom 10:10–11, Paul stated that the one who confesses Christ “with his mouth” after believing “in his heart” will not stumble

Confession seals the commitments, and those commitments do not lead to embarrassment.

Paul expected, therefore, not to be put to shame. He confidently had confessed Jesus as Lord. It was not a thoughtless or quick confession; it was the direction of his life.

The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon Paul’s Commitment to the Philippians (1:21–24)

The themes of life and death explain how Paul would glorify God in his body—even death would not keep him from it. These themes also prompted him to evaluate the purpose of living. With this introduction to 1:21–24, it seems that the section explains the commitment of the previous verses (vv. 18b–20). As far as Paul was concerned, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon Paul’s Commitment to the Philippians (1:21–24)

Often Paul spoke of Christ as his life. In Gal 2:20 he said, “I live by faith in the Son of God.” In Col 3:4 he stated that Christ “is your life.”

Galatians 2:20 KJV 1900
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Colossians 3:4 KJV 1900
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon Paul’s Confidence of Future Ministry (1:25–26)

It was a joy in Christ through Paul’s release. A similar statement occurs in 4:10, where Paul said, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me.” Their financial support caused Paul to worship and praise the Lord, who sent it through them. Naturally, the gift brought joy, but the greater joy was what it meant in the work of the Lord. Applying that understanding here, Paul realized that his presence provided an occasion for worship and praise. In spite of the similarity of 1:26 and 4:10, two different words describe “joy.” In 4:10, Paul used chairō, “to rejoice” or “be glad.” Here, the word is kauchēma, “to boast or be proud.” Kauchēma often suggests an occasion or object of the joy and has the sense of “taking pride in” something specific.

The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon The Nature of the Philippians’ Stand (1:27–28)

The main verb “conduct yourselves” (politeuesthe) called the church to appropriate conduct. It is an unusual term, and the verb form occurs only here and in Acts 23:1. Normally Paul used the verb “walk” (peripateō) to describe a Christian’s conduct. Here he used the verb “conduct yourselves as citizens” (politeuō). Scholars differ as to the exact force of the word in this text. It was a word built upon the Greek polis (city) and had overtones of citizenship responsibilities. Paul made conscious use of the term. The noun form occurs in 3:20 in calling the Philippians to appropriate ethical conduct. There he stated that “our citizenship is in heaven.” No doubt the readers would have associated the word with the Roman citizenship which they prized so much. This was Paul’s way of reminding them of the obligations of people who participate in a society. In this case, the society was of Christians whose strongest ties were in heaven.

The New American Commentary: Philippians, Colossians, Philemon The Nature of the Philippians’ Stand (1:27–28)

Paul expressed his concern for the church earlier (1:24–26). He so longed for its maturity that he was convinced that God would leave him on earth to help it grow in faith. In reality it could grow with or without him, and now he spoke of the possibility that he would not come. If he were absent, perhaps because of the unfavorable verdict in his trial or unexpected delays, he still longed to hear of its good spiritual condition. Paul had no inflated ideas about his importance. The church was capable of standing for the gospel.

Melick, R. R. (1991). Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Vol. 32, p. 82). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
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