Weds 11th October Philippians 1:12-26
Meditation on Philippians 1:12-26
12Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[c] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
I don’t know what your circumstances are as you read these verses and what follows.
Could we be in a worse place than in prison because you and I are committed Christians?
Paul is in a Roman prison. He spent many years in prison for his faith. And things haven’t changed much for those around the world who, today, are in prison because of their faith.
(There are many websites that give information about numbers of Christians in prison and the countries where they are – why not check some of these websites out?)
We know that Paul suffered on many occasions as he outlines such in his second letter to the Corinthians. ‘I have…been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles, in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea and in danger from false believers.’ (2 Corinthians 11:23-26)
That’s quite a list!
Remember that before he became a Christian, Paul was the one doing the persecuting –
Acts 8:1 ‘And Saul approved of their (the members of the Sanhedrin) killing him (Stephen).’
Acts 8:3 ‘But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.’
Acts 9:1-2 ‘Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.’
Then the Lord intervened.
Now, Paul is in prison and he now sees this as an opportunity for the gospel.
Here is a challenge for us to pray for those who are involved in prison ministry – Christ is being preached in our prisons today.
- THE GOSPEL BRINGS BLESSINGS Verses 12-18
Paul’s imprisonment may seem to hinder the preaching of the good news about Jesus. But, no, the opposite is happening.
- the gospel is bearing fruit
- the whole (not just some) of the palace guard are hearing the gospel
- the brothers and sisters have an increasing confidence in the gospel for themselves
- the brothers and sisters are also preaching the gospel
You and I have a testimony in our own lives as to the power of the gospel. We can have confidence in the Lord and be witnesses to Him and for Him wherever He has put us.
But…there seems to be a slight snag.
What motives do some have for preaching the gospel? Paul mentions one positive motive and three negative motives.
- selfish ambition
There are those who appreciate Paul’s situation and they, out of love for him and increasing confidence in the gospel, are preaching out of love for the Lord and love for Paul.
There are there are others who ‘stir up trouble for me (Paul) while I am in chains’.
How does Paul react to these three negative motives?
How would I react?
- ‘does it matter?’
- ‘the important thing is that in every way…Christ is preached’
- ‘I rejoice’
- ‘I will continue to rejoice’.
- WITH CHRIST – HERE? OR THERE? Verses 19-26
Paul is encouraged by two factors.
- the prayers of the Philippian Christians
- the Spirit of Christ
These two, combined, will lead to ‘my deliverance’.
Notice that Paul refers to the ‘Spirit of Christ’.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ.
- Romans 8:1,9; 1 Corinthians 1:10-11,14 refer to the Spirit of God.
Acts 16:7; Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6 refer to the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of His Son.
It could have been a lot easier for Paul to abandon his commitment to the gospel and be freed from prison but, no, that was not in his thinking as he prayed for courage to stand firm, so that he would bring glory to the Lord Jesus one way or another – i.e. remain alive or die.
Either would be good.
If he remains alive, he would keep on preaching the gospel and see more people come to the Lord.
If he goes to heaven, he would be ‘with Christ, which is better by far.’
His going to heaven was a certainty so he wanted more time to tell people the good news about Jesus so that the lives of more people would be changed as they accepted Jesus as Saviour and Lord and that their going to heaven was also a certainty.
And there was another outcome of Paul remaining alive, even though he would still be in prison for much of the time.
He had four reasons for wanting to stay alive.
- to continue with the Philippian Christians – that’s the joy of Christian fellowship
- to encourage them to make progress in their faith
- to encourage them to have joy in their faith – as he says in the earlier verses, ‘that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight’. Verse 9
- to encourage them to rejoice in the Lord.
The same for us today.
The gospel brings blessings as people come to faith in Christ. Let’s keep praying for that in our own families, in our local communities, across our country and across the world.
For all Christians we can look forward to being with Christ which is better by far but, until that day comes, may He help us to be His witnesses to others wherever He may lead.