ES/PHIL/09 Philippians 1:27-30
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
These verses are part of a whole passage that ends in chapter 2 verse 18 that is all about the Philippians’ affairs and a call to steadfastness and unity. We will spend some time going through them.
Up to now we have found that Christ is everything for Paul and that death is great gain but whilst we are here on earth we have a great hope that should cause us to live out our lives effectively for Jesus. His confidence then exudes through this passage for the following instructions come as if he already knows the outcome of his trial; that he will live.
Then he speaks as if to be on the wrong side of Paul is also to be on the wrong side of God for he acts and speaks with apostolic authority. Then as now Paul’s authority remains under attack from within and without the Church. Paul had true apostolic authority given by God.
There are others who make this claim. There is the head of a Church who thinks that he also has such authority, that is, the Pope, but this is a grand assumption on his part. He takes the title of Christ and King yet, if anything he is an antichrist. The word ‘antichrist’ means one who takes the place of Christ. It does not mean He is against Christ though the outcome of trying to take His place is just that. I am not saying he is The Antichrist but he behaves in that way taking the place of Jesus making people saints, forgiving sins, etc etc.
We also know. according to Revelation 17, that Rome will become the seat of the Antichrist and the false prophet. Many understand that this can mean none other that the Roman Catholic Church. The fact is, whatever the future we can never have fellowship with the Roman Catholic Church. This despite all the overtures that so-called evangelicals are making towards them and the Catholic Church towards us. It is true the Church has changed somewhat but all its false doctrines have remained in place and they have added a whole bundle more in recent time in relation to Mary and making her co-redemptive. Jesus is the only way – not through Roman Catholic Sacraments or other works or through May; all these are the false gospel that Paul warns us about. This does not mean that there are no Christians there but it would be better it they were not.
Paul used his true apostolic authority not so that he could condemn them or to be upset with them in an authoritarian way. No! His concern was simply that they reflect Christ. He only wanted Christ to be glorified in them. Let’s have a closer look at verses 27-30.
Verses 27-30 is one sentence in the Greek – so put another way it says:
worthy of the gospel of Christ,
live out your “citizenship”
whether coming and seeing you
or being absent,
I hear about “your affairs,”
you stand firm
in the one Spirit,
as one person
contending together for the faith of the gospel
not being frightened in any way
by those who oppose you
is for them an “omen”
of your salvation,
and this from God ]
it has been granted to you,
not only to believe
but also to suffer
having the same struggle,
Fee, G. D. (1995)
Paul wants the Philippians to live in such a way that the progress of the gospel is not hindered or slandered because of something they do wrong.
Only walk worthy of the Gospel. The word in English here is ‘conduct’ but in the Greek it really has to do with our citizenship. To conduct ourselves really means to take our citizenship of Heaven seriously and to partake of the life that is Kingdom living for King Jesus. To not set our minds and hearts on earthly things but on heavenly things. This means that we should stop complaining about earthly things and having selfish ambition. To live is Christ.
We are citizens of Heaven. How do the citizens of Heaven behave? Like children of the King, I would hope. Worthy ambassadors. What is an Ambassador? One that represents the nation that they are from. How are we representing our homeland?
It is clear from the way the verse is put that we can actually make the gospel regress or go back rather than progress by the way we live our lives. None of us have lived sinless lives since the day we became Christians but later in this letter Paul says of himself:
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
What is past is past. What matters is going forward.
Paul’s concern is that they do not strive with one another. Why would he say this? Christians have the uncanny ability to find things to divide us over the smallest of matters. But all that matters is Christ and the Gospel; its clear presentation and warnings of what it is not. Paul simply wants them to focus their energies to strive and struggle for the Gospel; just as it is plain that Paul does. It is in unity that God commands the blessing.
A Church should never be insular and inward looking but seeking for ways to make the light of Jesus shine that much brighter. What is this gospel? That there is forgiveness, that there is reconciliation with God because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, that there is eternal life instead of an eternity in the lake of fire.
Stand fast in one spirit. The Spirit is the key to the unity of the Church, who is the one who makes us one together. And we add to this singleness of mind and heart for it is only as we do this that we can contend for the Gospel and not allowed ourselves to be intimidated by enemies within and without.
Why was this so important? It is easier to stand together than or side-by-side, as one translation rightly puts it, rather than on our own. There will be suffering as a result of sharing the gospel. It is clear that if we are at odds with one another the Gospel does not easily progress.
The Gospel has inherent power; power for people to believe and be saved or to refuse. There can only be one of two ways to go; either it will save you or condemn you. The Gospel, Paul says, is like an omen of destruction to some people. They cannot bear to hear it because it proves that they are evil and cannot come to Jesus, the light, to be saved because it would mean recognising that they have no power to save themselves; no acknowledgement of their helplessness before a holy God who demands that each person gives an account of the way they are living; it is proof to them of their perdition, their impending judgement and rightful punishment and it is pride that stops them from taking the step required to accept that Jesus has paid the price in full. But for those who come with child-like faith they are saved.
--And it is the privilege of those who have believed on Jesus with this child-like trust to also suffer for His name. The persecutors can either recognise that Jesus is the Saviour or to condemn themselves further – and for those who suffer to receive from Jesus the crown of life. Suffering leads to further witnessing of Jesus as is evident with Paul – of course, that may not be clear at all at the time we are suffering but the outcome, which God planned beforehand, will lead to the Gospel to move forward especially if we persist and do not give up and lose heart. God is always in control.
The suffering that the Philippians went through was because of their particular situation, being a Roman colony with its allegiance to Rome and the proclaimed Lordship of Caesar. There can be no other Lord other than Jesus. Because there would have been public meetings to honour Caesar there would have been pressure on all the citizens of Philippi to attend and give their honour to him.
We, also, are not to be intimidated by the so-called tolerant society that expects us to conform to its ideas of who and how we should be – their tolerance does not extend to us for we witness that our society’s works are evil especially in the praise of those who live homosexual lifestyles or any other sexual deviancy in teaching children as young as 6 or 7 that same-sex partnerships and marriage are normal and that sex outside of marriage is part of growing up providing you use condoms and if you get pregnant, don’t worry, the abortion clinic will deal with it without informing your parents.
When we say that Jesus is Lord we are saying that Jesus takes precedent over any decree or law from parliament that crosses the line of biblical principles that this nation was once proud to own but instead gives more and more credence to Islam on one hand and to the liberals on the other without referring to the true and living God who has been ousted out of our society but to whom all will one day give an account. British values used to mean standing up for truth and justice with God at the centre but today it means whatever you want it to mean.
But let me comfort you with these words: Paul is encouraging the Philippian believers not to be intimidated by them, not to be frightened in any way. Remember; to die is gain. We don’t know whether it will get that extreme again here but whatever happens God is in control. In fact, it is put even more forcefully at the end of verse 28: all this is from God. It is part of the larger plan for the Gospel to go forward.
For us it has been granted to believe but it may also be granted to us to suffer as was permitted the Philippians. This is a gift from God.
In the meantime we have to be true to the Gospel and to proclaim its truth to all, knowing that most will reject it and be our haters to their own utter ruin and destruction but for some it will be the power of God to salvation. We have eternal life and have nothing to fear from this life and what people can throw at us. By us standing strong together with one voice we can make the case for Christ against all opposition even from those who also call themselves Christian.
We are saved by God because He first sent His Son to us whilst we were still sinners and in His grace we came to believe. And as a result we can expect also to suffer which is also part of His grace. In another Scripture it says that those who have suffered are done with sin so it brings us to a place of purification of our lives that we become more like Jesus. If we suffer it is a sign of God’s favour on us that we are suffering for Christ. Our love for Jesus is such that suffering for Him is a privilege given to us by God. Our love for Jesus is such because of His great love for us.
17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
We have to see things through the lens of God’s eyes:
As long as we insist on viewing the world through our own perspective—with comfort, security, and happiness as the benchmark—we will never accomplish what God desires
God has lavished his love on the world and we blessed few have seen it for what it is. This world is openly hostile to God but we too are to lavish our love upon this world suffering on Christ’s behalf for people, of which few will be saved and most will reject. We are to love unto death for glory awaits us. Instead of cowering away from suffering we should accept the fact that this may be God’s will for us. Therefore we should welcome it.
He loved us unto death so that one day we could go to be with Him forever. But to achieve this He had to suffer. It pleased God for Him to suffer:
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
God has purposes in suffering. The fact is that we deserve to suffer and be driven away from the presence of the Lord yet Jesus was made to suffer in our place as if He had done wrong. However, Jesus looks upon us, and despite His suffering is pleased with the result. This is why He was able to give thanks for what was about to happen to Him at the Last Supper.
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.