Greetings from Paul
1 This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.
I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and deacons.
2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
7 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. 8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.
9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ[b]—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
Paul’s Joy That Christ Is Preached
12 And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters,[c] that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard,[d] knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers[e] here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message[f] without fear.
15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. 17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. 19 For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.
Paul’s Life for Christ
20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.
25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. 26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.
Live as Citizens of Heaven
27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.
Perhaps Paul’s joy in these people at Philippi was that he was seeing them by faith. Not as they were, but as they would be when God’s work was done. He was looking at them with the eye of faith. He was sure that He who began a good work in them was going to finish it, so Paul could say that, even though you rub me the wrong way once in a while, I know what you are going to be. This is the key to getting along with other Christians. Sometimes it’s difficult, but when we realize what they will be we can do it. I heard of an artist who called a friend in and asked him to comment on a picture he was painting. He said,
this is my masterpiece. It is beautiful. The man said
I guess I don’t see what you see. It just looks like dabs of different colors to me, without form or anything. The artist said,
Oh I forgot. I’m seeing it as it will be when finished. You are seeing it as it is now.
This means that life is not perfect yet. It has an adequate goal, and it is a goal which will be reached, and the final responsibility is not in my hands but in God’s. I love that! Paul’s confidence is placed in a Person, not on himself. We are all, if we know Christ, in the hands of the One who can change us. Sometimes we don’t want to be what God wants us to be, but it’s being done in us despite us. God knows how to bring us into the circumstances that will make us willing to be made willing, if He needs to. It’s a great consolation to recognize in whose hands we are. The impression is often given by we Christians today that our main task is to keep Christianity going. Christianity didn’t start that way. These early Christians gave the very clear impression that it was their faith in Christ that kept them going. There are those who tell us that we can lose our Christian life, but if this is something we can lose, then it must be based on some human factor — that it depends on us. But if it depends on us, then we can’t depend on it. I am so grateful that this rests upon a Person who is capable of doing the work, and who has promised to complete it. Thanks be to God who is able to keep us from falling.
My favorite part of this whole chapter is how Paul mentions that the whole palace guard knew the Good news. Will people know I’m a Christian when I’m having a bad week/month/year?
Let me share a quote i read today
Joy is ‘the serious business of heaven’. It is a consequence of being preoccupied with the living and indwelling Christ, confident that He will complete His redeeming work in us and through us. Are we there yet? No, but God isn’t finished either, so let’s pay attention.
Thank you Lord for the work you are doing in me and the work you will continue to do. God, teach me to be steadfast and help me to keep myself focused on You. In Jesus name, amen.