Philippians 1:27-30

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

October 10, 2002


Paul is writing to a church that was established in difficult times. Paul himself is in the middle of a hugely difficult time.

And oddly enough, the theme of this little letter is “joy”.

:27 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;

onlymonon – only, alone, but

as becometh axios – suitably, worthily, in a manner worthy of

the gospeleuaggelion – a reward for good tidings; good tidings; the glad tidings of the kingdom of God soon to be set up, and subsequently also of Jesus the Messiah, the founder of this kingdom. After the death of Christ, the term comprises also the preaching of (concerning) Jesus Christ as having suffered death on the cross to procure eternal salvation for the men in the kingdom of God, but as restored to life and exalted to the right hand of God in heaven, thence to return in majesty to consummate the kingdom of God; the glad tidings of salvation through Christ; the proclamation of the grace of God manifest and pledged in Christ; the gospel

let you conversation be politeuomai (“politics”, from polis – “city”) – to be a citizen; to administer civil affairs, manage the state; to make or create a citizen; to be a citizen; to behave as a citizen; to avail one’s self of or recognise the laws; to conduct one’s self as pledged to some law of life

The concept of “citizenship” was an important one to Philippi.

Philippi was a Roman colony, and its citizen’s were Roman citizens.  Being a citizen came with certain responsibilities and benefits.  Paul was also a Roman citizen, being born in another Roman city, Tarsus.
The issue of Paul’s Roman citizenship came into play in the city of Philippi.  After he and Silas had been beaten and imprisoned, Paul exercised his rights as a Roman citizen, and it scared the city officials:

(Acts 16:37-39 KJV)  But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. {38} And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. {39} And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.

This is not the usual word translated “conversation” (anastrophe) which we usually translate “conduct”, or “manner of life”.

This word is about citizenship, that we are citizens of the gospel, citizens of heaven.  We could translate this, “only live as citizens, as is worthy of the gospel …”

If you study the flow of Paul’s thought, he tells us two things that demonstrate correctly that we are living as citizens of the gospel.

First, our unity.
Second, not being afraid of our enemies.

be absentapeimi – to go away, depart

ye stand faststeko – to stand firm; to persevere, to persist; to keep one’s standing

oneheis (neut.) – one

spiritpneuma – the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son; the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated; the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides; the soul; a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting; the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any one; a movement of air (a gentle blast)

onemia (fem.) – only one, someone

mindpsuche – breath; the soul; the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)

striving togethersunathleo (“with” + “to engage in a contest”(athletics)) – to strive at the same time with another


Living worthily

We aren’t citizens of Rome, we are citizens of Heaven.
Sometimes we aren’t the best examples of the gospel:

In San Jose, California, Luke Goodrich was burning garbage out back of his home and that is against the law.  But worse, while Luke was burning this garbage, the fire got away from him.  It spread over a hundred acres. It took six helicopters and 400 firefighters to put it out. Luke Goodrich is the captain of the San Jose fire department.

Associated Press  9-10-90

But when we have a life that demonstrates Jesus, it is powerful stuff.

As newsman Clarence W. Hall followed American troops through Okinawa in 1945, he and his jeep driver came upon a small town that stood out as a beautiful example of a Christian community. He wrote, “We had seen other Okinawan villages... down at the heels and despairing; by contrast, this one shone like a diamond in a dung heap. Everywhere we were greeted by smiles and dignified bows.  Proudly the old men showed us their spotless homes, their terraced fields... their storehouses and granaries, their prized sugar mill.”

Hall said that he saw no jails and no drunkenness, and that divorce was unknown in this village.  He was told that an American missionary had come there some 30 years earlier.  While he was in the village, he had led two elderly townspeople to Christ and left them with a Japanese Bible.  These new believers studied the Scriptures and started leading their fellow villagers to Jesus. Hall’s jeep driver said he was amazed at the difference between this village and the others around it.  He remarked, “So this is what comes out of only a Bible and a couple of old guys who wanted to live like Jesus.”


The importance of unity – Citizenship 101

Paul says that one way we demonstrate our citizenship in heaven is through being of “one spirit” and “one soul”.
Unity is powerful stuff.
(Psa 133 KJV)  A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is good for people to be together in unity.

{2} It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;

The anointing oil was a picture of God’s Holy Spirit.  The abundance of the oil, running down Aaron’s head is a picture of the abundance that God wants to give us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

This abundance is somehow tied with unity – our hearts being together.

{3} As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

Dew is refreshment.  It waters.  It makes things green.  This comes from unity.

My wife has been reading a book called, “Agape Leadership” by R.C. Chapman, a pastor and teacher back in 19th century England.  He has a couple of great quotes about “unity”:
“Pride nourishes the remembrance of injuries:  humility forgets as well as forgives them.”
“When mutual intercession takes the place of mutual accusation, then will the differences and difficulties of brethren be overcome.
“Humility is the secret of fellowship, and pride the secret of division”.

We’ll be talking much more about this connection between humility and unity over the next couple of weeks (see Phil. 2:1-11)


The right kind of strife

Paul tells the Philippians to “strive together”.
Often in the church, we find our selves striving with each other – and that’s not what Paul is talking about.
He’s talking about putting our energies into preaching the gospel.

:28 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.

terrified pturo – to frighten, affright; possibly derived from ptuo – to spit

The metaphor is of a timid or scared horse and from ptoew (ptoa, terror). “Not startled in anything.”

adversaries antikeimai (“against” + “to lie down”) – to be set over against, opposite to; to oppose, be adverse to, withstand

People who have “lined up against” the Philippians.


Serving Jesus brings trouble

We get this naďve idea that when we are serving the Lord, that people will line up to congratulate us pat us on the back.
Though there will be some who may thank you, you will find that there will also be folks who will oppose you.
Robertson:  “Any preacher who attacks evil will have opposition.”

an evident tokenendeixis – demonstration, proof; manifestation made by act; sign, evidence

perditionapoleia – destroying, utter destruction; of vessels; a perishing, ruin, destruction; of money; the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell

salvationsoteria – deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation; deliverance from the molestation of enemies; in an ethical sense, that which concludes to the souls safety or salvation; salvation as the present possession of all true Christians; future salvation, the sum of benefits and blessings which the Christians, redeemed from all earthly ills, will enjoy after the visible return of Christ from heaven in the consummated and eternal kingdom of God.

Paul is saying that their lack of fear was a proof of their salvation:

(Phil 1:28 NLT)  Don't be intimidated 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.

and that from God – (kai touto)  Idiomatic adverbial accusative.

“It is a direct indication from God. The Christian gladiator does not anxiously await the signal of life or death from the fickle crowd” (Lightfoot).

God gives you the ability to handle the opposition.


Not being afraid – Citizenship 102

One of the qualities that should set us apart from others is learning not to be afraid.
There are two Bible verses that help me the most with this:
(Psa 56:3 KJV)  What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
(Isa 12:2 KJV)  Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

The secret to “courage” is “trust”.

We conquer fear through trusting in the Lord.

We see it demonstrated in David’s songs:
(Psa 27:1-5 KJV)  A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? {2} When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. {3} Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. {4} One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. {5} For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
(Psa 27:13-14 KJV)  I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. {14} Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
We see it illustrated in the life of Peter:
(Mat 14:22-33 KJV)  And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. {23} And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. {24} But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. {25} And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. {26} And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. {27} But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. {28} And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. {29} And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. {30} But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

It was Peter’s fear that made him sink.

{31} And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Jesus was saying that the answer to Peter’s fears was faith, trusting in Jesus.

{32} And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. {33} Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
We need to work at putting our eyes on Jesus and learning more and more how to trust Him.
(Rom 8:37-39 KJV)  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. {38} For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, {39} Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do we believe this?


God wants to build confidence in us

We can sometimes be kind of timid about sharing our faith with others.  We can come across almost apologetic at times.  But there is a great power in what we share.  The power isn’t in us, the power is in the message.
(Rom 1:16 KJV)  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
On July 15, 1986, Roger Clemens, the sizzling right-hander for the Boston Red Sox, started his first All-Star Game.  In the second inning, he came to bat, something he hadn’t done in years because of the American League’s designated-hitter rule.  He took a few uncertain practice swings and then looked out at his forbidding opponent, Dwight Gooden, who the previous year had won the Cy Young award.  Gooden wound up and threw a white-hot fastball past Clemens.
With an embarrassed smile on his face, Clemens stepped out of the box and asked Gary Carter, “Is that what my pitches look like?”  “You bet it is!” replied Carter.  Although Clemens quickly struck out, he went on to pitch three perfect innings and be named the game’s most valuable player.
From that day on, he later said, with a fresh reminder of how overpowering a good fastball is, he pitched with far greater boldness.

-- Craig Brian Larson, Arlington Heights, Illinois. Leadership, Vol. 12, no. 2.

I have this idea that sometimes we forget where the power is.  It’s not in our own abilities.  The power is in the Holy Spirit working through us as we share the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ.

:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

it is given charizomai – to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favour to, gratify; to show one’s self gracious, kind, benevolent; to grant forgiveness, to pardon; to give graciously, give freely, bestow; to forgive; graciously to restore one to another; to preserve for one a person in peril

(Phil 1:29 ICB)  God gave you the honor both of believing in Christ and suffering for Christ. Both these things bring glory to Christ.

(Phil 1:29 NLT)  For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.

in the behalf ofhuper – in behalf of, for the sake of; over, beyond, more than; more, beyond, over

to believepisteuo – to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in; of the thing believed; to credit, have confidence; to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity; to be intrusted with a thing

to sufferpascho – to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo; in a good sense, to be well off, in good case; in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight; of a sick person

:30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

conflictagon – an assembly,; a place of assembly: especially an assembly met to see games; the place of contest, the arena or stadium; the assembly of the Greeks at their national games; hence the contest for a prize at their games; generally, any struggle or contest; a battle; an action at law, trial

An athletic or gladiatorial contest.

ye saweido – to see; to perceive with the eyes; to know; to know of anything

hearakouo – to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf; to hear; to hear something

The Philippians had seen Paul suffer while he was in Philippi with them. 

Paul had caused a controversy in town when he cast a demon out of a slave girl that earned money for her masters by telling fortunes.  The masters saw their profits disappear, and wanted Paul dealt with.

(Acts 16:22-34 KJV)  And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. {23} And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: {24} Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. {25} And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

The manner in which Paul had suffered in Philippi – he’s singing praises at midnight.

{26} And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. {27} And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. {28} But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. {29} Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, {30} And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

The results of seeing Paul suffer:  The jailer had seen what the people had done to Paul.  He now witnessed that Paul hadn’t fled when he could have during the confusion of the earthquake.  He wants what Paul has.

{31} And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. {32} And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. {33} And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. {34} And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.

They now hear about his suffering in Rome as well.

They are now being called to the same kind of suffering.


Called to Suffering

This is certainly one “promise” of the Bible you won’t hear many people trying to “claim”.
Yet suffering is actually good for us.
James wrote,

(James 1:2-4 NKJV)  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, {3} knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. {4} But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Tough times make us stronger.

Jesus said,

(John 15:2 KJV)  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

One woman writes,

A peach tree stands in our back yard.  Unpruned, the tree grew big and leafy.  And it was loaded with peaches, although the fruit was disappointingly small and tasteless.

The year he was out of work, Larry went to work on the tree. When I came home from school one day and saw how far back he had pruned it, I stared in shock.  “You’ve killed it,” I cried.  “Now we won’t have any peaches at all.”

I was wrong.  That spring the pruned branches burst forth with a beautiful blanketing of pink blossoms.  Soon little green peaches replaced the blossoms.  “Leave them alone,” I begged. Larry ignored me and thinned the fruit.

By the end of the summer the branches were so heavily laden they had to be propped up.  And the peaches—oh, how large and sweet and juicy they were.  There was no denying it: the tree was far better off for the painful cutting it endured under Larry’s pruning shears.

No one wants to go through troubles and suffering and pain. But looking back, Larry and I can only say, “Thank you, Lord, for pruning us.  Thank you for teaching us to trust you.”