Sunday, November 28 2021
Paul’s imprisonment “served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12). While many fear persecution, Christians can live by faith that God will work all things for good. In the letter to the Philippians, everyone knew that Paul was imprisoned for Christ and that spread the news of Christ. The apostle explained that the gospel had spread to the imperial guard because he was in prison for Christ (1:13). The imperial guard protected the emperor of Rome and often decided if an emperor would remain the emperor. The apostle concluded the epistle with greetings, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household” (4:22). Christians were now in the house of the most powerful governing authority on earth. Christians should not fear persecution for the gospel. God will work it out for good.
The apostle Paul recognized that other evangelists were much bolder to proclaim the gospel because the worst that had occurred was his imprisonment (Philippians 1:14). This is the work of God that every Christian should think of every life event or major world event is being worked ultimately for good (cf. Romans 8:28). The apostle noted that some contentious individuals were motivated to proclaim Christ by envy and rivalry (Philippians 1:15). Whether they were actual preachers or opponents, they spoke of Jesus Christ so they spread the message of Christ. Paul found reason to rejoice over this. He later described some Judaizers who spread false teachings as dogs and evildoers who mutilate the flesh and continue in the law requiring circumcision (3:2). These are those who walked as enemies of Christ (3:18). Some were proclaiming Christ from ill will and others from goodwill. Those who proclaimed the gospel from goodwill did so by love and recognized that Paul was there for the defense of the gospel (1:16). The Greek for “defense” is apologia for which Christians today study apologetics in defense of the gospel. The envious proclaimed the gospel from selfishness and without pure motives (1:17). Despite the negative motivations of some talking about Christ, the apostle rejoiced that the gospel was spread whether in pretense or in truth (1:18). Today, many church leaders are constantly disturbed by the spreading of error without recognizing the good of publicizing Jesus Christ.
Paul’s faith produced a positive outlook. He was confident of his deliverance from prison because of the prayers of the saints and the help of the Spirit of Christ (Philippians 1:19). Whether in life or death, he was committed to honoring Christ in his body with all courage in Christ (1:20). Paul declared, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21). The apostle reasoned that if he stayed and lived then he would produce fruit, and if he died, then he would better to be with Christ (1:22–23). Paul saw himself living for the need of the saints (1:24). He was convinced that he would continue for them to further their joy in the faith so that they glory in Christ (1:25–26).
For all of this, Christians must live worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27). Christians strive in one spirit and with one soul side-by-side for the faith without fear of anyone who opposes believers (1:28). This is evidence from God of the destruction coming upon the enemies of Christ and evidence from God of salvation for the faithful (1:28). God granted this evidence of destruction and salvation. For this reason, Christians believe and suffer as this is the Christian’s conflict (1:29–30). Despite difficulties, Paul found reasons by faith to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18).
Do you think like Paul? Paul thinks like Christ. Do you find the positive working of God in hard times? Does your faith produce joy and hope in all circumstances? God is victorious and so are His people.