Philippians 2:16-23

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

November 6, 2002


We ended last week’s study in the middle of a sentence:

(Phil 2:14-15 KJV)  Do all things without murmurings and disputings: {15} That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

:16-18 Joy in sacrifice

:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

wordlogos – word

lifezoe – life

holding forthepecho – to have or hold upon, apply, to observe, attend to; to give attention to; to hold towards, hold forth, present

The words “holding forth” are the translation of a Greek word used in secular documents of offering wine to a guest. It means “to hold forth so as to offer.” This should ever be the attitude of the saint, offering salvation to a lost and a dying world[1]

thateis – into, unto, to, towards, for, among

I may rejoicekauchema – that of which one glories or can glory, matter or ground of glorying; a glorying or boasting ; from kauchaomai – to glory (whether with reason or without); to glory on account of a thing; to glory in a thing

the day of Christ – the Rapture of the church.

vainkenos – empty, vain, devoid of truth

I have … run trecho – to run; metaph. of doctrine rapidly propagated; by a metaphor taken from runners in a race, to exert one’s self, strive hard; to spend one’s strength in performing or attaining something; word occurs in Greek writings denoting to incur extreme peril, which it requires the exertion of all one’s effort to overcome

labouredkopiao – to grow weary, tired, exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief); to labour with wearisome effort, to toil; of bodily labour

Paul has been saying that the Philippians needed to do all things without murmurings and disputings so that they would be lights in a dark world, and that if they continued to offer the gospel to others, Paul would be blessed when Jesus comes back knowing that he hadn’t wasted his time and efforts with the Philippians.


Focus on the goal

We can tend to get all caught up in our own little lives and the problems that surround us.
But our goal needs to be sharing Jesus with a sick and dying world.

:17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

I be offeredspendo – to pour out as a drink offering, make a libation; in the NT to be offered as a libation; fig. used of one whose blood is poured out in a violent death for the cause of God

It is found in one other verse in the New Testament:

(2 Tim 4:6-7 KJV)  For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. {7} I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
(2 Tim 4:6 NLT)  As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.

sacrificethusia – a sacrifice, victim; from thuo – to sacrifice, immolate; to slay, kill

serviceleitourgia – a public office which a citizen undertakes to administer at his own expense; any service; biblical usage – a service or ministry of the priests relative to the prayers and sacrifices offered to God; a gift or benefaction for the relief of the needy

faithpistis – conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it; fidelity, faithfulness

I joychairo – to rejoice, be glad; to rejoice exceedingly

rejoice withsugchairo – to rejoice with, take part in another’s joy; to rejoice together, to congratulate

Paul is using language that makes us think of the Old Testament sacrifices.

(Num 15:1-10 KJV)  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, {2} Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you, {3} And will make an offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the LORD, of the herd, or of the flock: {4} Then shall he that offereth his offering unto the LORD bring a meat offering of a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of oil. {5} And the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering shalt thou prepare with the burnt offering or sacrifice, for one lamb. {6} Or for a ram, thou shalt prepare for a meat offering two tenth deals of flour mingled with the third part of an hin of oil. {7} And for a drink offering thou shalt offer the third part of an hin of wine, for a sweet savour unto the LORD. {8} And when thou preparest a bullock for a burnt offering, or for a sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings unto the LORD: {9} Then shall he bring with a bullock a meat offering of three tenth deals of flour mingled with half an hin of oil. {10} And thou shalt bring for a drink offering half an hin of wine, for an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.

With some of the various sacrifices, the animal was laid out on the altar along with a “meal offering” made up of flour and oil, along with a “drink offering” made up of wine.
The wine was poured out on top of the sacrifice as it lay on the altar.
One commentary (Pulpit Commentary) said, “Libations are amongst the simplest and most universal of offerings to the unseen powers.”

The dictionary defines libation as: the pouring out of a liquid such as wine or oil as a sacrifice to a god.

This “libation” might have been seen as “pouring a drink” for the Lord.

The drink offering was to be a “sweet savour” to the Lord, along with the rest of the offering.


Joy in sacrifice

Paul sees his own life possibly coming to an end, and it being a picture of this drink offering that is poured out on top of a sacrifice. He sees the faith of the Philippians being a sacrifice, and he sees his own life being poured out on top of it.
Yet Paul sees his own “pouring out” as a thing of joy, a good thing, something that might be sweet to God.
Sacrifice is good. It is sweet.
Judy Anderson, whose husband is the West Africa Director of the World Relief Corporation, grew up as the daughter of missionaries in Zaire. As a little girl, she went to a day-long rally celebrating the one-hundredth anniversary of Christian missionaries coming to that part of Zaire. After a full day of long speeches and music, an old man came before the crowd and insisted that he be allowed to speak. He said he soon would die, and that he alone had some important information. If he did not speak, that information would go with him to his grave.
He explained that when Christian missionaries came a hundred years before, his people thought the missionaries were strange and their message unusual. The tribal leaders decided to test the missionaries by slowly poisoning them to death. Over a period of months and years, missionary children died one by one. Then the old man said, “It was as we watched how they died that we decided we wanted to live as Christians.”
Paul could see the purpose in his life being poured out.
He looked forward to the day of Jesus’ return, when he would see that his offering wasn’t in vain.
The legend is told of a desert wanderer who found a crystal spring of unsurpassed freshness.  The water was so pure he decided to bring some to his king.  Barely satisfying his own thirst, he filled a leather bottle with the clear liquid and carried it many days beneath the desert sun before he reached the palace.  When he finally laid his offering at the feet of his sovereign, the water had become stale and rank due to the old container in which it had been stored.  But the king would not let his faithful subject even imagine that it was unfit for use.  He tasted it with expressions of gratitude and delight, and sent away the loyal heart filled with gladness.  After he had gone, others sampled it and expressed their surprise that the king had even pretended to enjoy it. “Ah!” said he, “it was not the water he tasted, but the love that prompted the offering.”  Many times our service is marked by multiplied imperfections, but the Master looks at our motives and says “It is good.”
The Lord sees why we do things.  Others may not be pleased with what we do, but He sees our hearts.

:18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

same causeautos – himself, herself, themselves, itself; he, she, it; the same

ye joychairo – to rejoice, be glad; to rejoice exceedingly

rejoice withsugchairo – to rejoice with, take part in another’s joy; to rejoice together, to congratulate

:19-23 Timothy

:19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.

I trustelpizo – to hope; hopefully to trust in

in the Lord Jesus – Paul’s expectation to send Timothy wasn’t just hopeful thinking.  He felt it was something of the Lord.

Timotheus Timotheos – “honouring God”

Timothy was Paul’s “son in the faith”

Paul probably met Timothy on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:6ff), at which time, perhaps, the youth was converted (1 Cor. 4:17). Apparently, Timothy’s mother and grandmother had been converted first (2 Tim. 1:3-5). He was the son of a Jewish mother and Gentile father, but Paul always considered the young man his own “dearly beloved son” in the faith (2 Tim. 1:2). When Paul returned to Derbe and Lystra while on his second journey, he enlisted young Timothy as one of his fellow laborers (Acts 16:1-4). In one sense, Timothy replaced John Mark, whom Paul had refused to take along on the journey because of Mark’s previous abandonment of the cause (Acts 13:13; 15:36-41) (Wiersbe).

shortlytacheos – quickly, shortly

to sendpempo – to send; to bid a thing to be carried to one; to send (thrust or insert) a thing into another

may be of good comfort eupsucheo (“good” + “soul”) – to be of good courage, to be of a cheerful spirit

I knowginosko – to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel; to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of

your state – literally, “concerning you

:20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

no manoudeis – no one, nothing

I haveecho – to have, i.e. to hold; to have i.e. own, possess; external things such as pertain to property or riches or furniture or utensils or goods or food etc.; used of those joined to any one by the bonds of natural blood or marriage or friendship or duty or law etc, of attendance or companionship; to hold one’s self to a thing, to lay hold of a thing, to adhere or cling to; to be closely joined to a person or a thing

likemindedisopsuchos (“equal” + “soul”) – equal in soul; this is the only place this word is found.

Paul has used several words or phrases to describe some related ideas:

1:27 in one spirit – “in one spirit” – (heni pneumati)
*1:27 in one mind – “one soul” – (mia psuche)
2:2  likeminded – literally, “same minded” (auto phronete)
*2:2 of one accordsumpsuchos (“with” + “soul”) – of one mind, of one accord; being united in spirit or harmonious.
2:2 of one mind – literally, “one mind” (hen phronountes)

Paul is saying that Timothy has an “equal-soul” to himself.  He knows that Timothy has the same concerns and thoughts that Paul does.

whohostis – whoever, whatever, who; a qualitative aspect in the Greek, namely, “who is of a character such that.”[2]

naturallygnesios – genuinely, faithfully, sincerely; from gnesios – legitimately born, not spurious; true, genuine, sincere

for your state – literally, “concerning you

caremerimnao – to be anxious; to be troubled with cares; to care for, look out for (a thing); to seek to promote one’s interests; caring or providing for


Ministry of caring

Sometimes, it’s not hard to fall into a callused heart, where you stop caring for others.  We get hurt.  We don’t want to hurt anymore.  But we need to be careful that we don’t stop caring.  That’s when we lose our usefulness to the Lord.
A reporter in San Bernardino, California arranged for a man to lie in the gutter on a busy street. Hundreds of people passed the man but not one stopped to help him or even show sympathy!
Newspapers across the country a few years ago told how thirty-eight people watched a man stalk a young lady and finally attack her—and none of the spectators even picked up a phone to call the police!
A couple of teenagers in Detroit discovered a woman in a telephone booth who had suffered a heart attack. They carried her to a nearby house and rang the bell, asking for help. The only reply they received was, “Get off my porch—and take her with you!”
A Kentucky doctor was driving down the highway to visit a patient when he saw an accident take place. He stopped and gave aid to the injured and then made his visit. One of the drivers he helped sued him!
These things shouldn’t be pictures of us.  We need people who will care for others.
When the starter raised the gun and said, "On your mark, get set ..." it looked like every other hundred-meter dash. The contestants were lined up in the starting blocks. The crowd was on the edge of their chairs in suspended anticipation.
When the starter fired the gun, the contestants sprang out of the starting blocks, and even the casual observer could tell something was different. This was the Special Olympics. It was special because the contestants were developmentally and physically disabled.
It was special for a far greater reason than that. It was special because of the way that hundred-meter dash was run. The runners moved down the track shoulder-to-shoulder. Suddenly one of the young women sprawled headlong on the track and turned over in some amount of pain and embarrassment.
The rest of the contestants moved on for ten or fifteen meters. Without any communication among themselves, they all stopped, turned around, and jogged back to their fallen friend. They picked her up off the track, comforted her, and then arm in arm they ran together to the finish line. Those runners would rather finish together than win the race individually.

-- Jim Dethmer, "The Gift of Mercy," Preaching Today, Tape No. 112.

God is looking for people who will genuinely, “naturally”, care for each other.

:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.

their ownheautou – himself, herself, itself, themselves

seekzeteo – to seek in order to find; to seek after, seek for, aim at, strive after; to seek i.e. require, demand; to crave, demand something from someone

Paul is writing from Rome.  There are probably a hundred or more believers at Rome.  When Paul wrote to the Romans, he was able to greet 26 of them by name (Rom. 16).

Yet none of them were willing to go to Philippi.  Only Timothy.


Whose good are you seeking?

Paul had written earlier that one of the keys to unity was:
(Phil 2:3-4 KJV)  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. {4} Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Paul could only send Timothy because he was the only one not thinking of himself.
Instead, Timothy was concerned about the things of the Lord.  He was concerned for things bigger than himself.


Approving others

There is a sense in which we need to be careful about judging other people’s motives in ministry.
(Phil 1:12-18 KJV)  But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; {13} So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; {14} And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. {15} Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: {16} The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: {17} But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.

Paul knew that some were taking advantage of his being in prison to simply further their own goals.  They preached Jesus from “envy and strife”.

Others preached Jesus with the right motives.

{18} What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

In this situation, Paul chose to simply rejoice that Jesus was being preached, even if it was being done for the wrong reasons.

Paul is in prison, and these guys are going to preach whether Paul wants them to or not.

And for this situation, Paul simply chooses to rejoice.


There are people on representing Jesus on TV who I might not be particularly fond of, especially when it comes to their style of ministry. I can do nothing about whether they are on TV or not.

There are going to be churches that are preaching the gospel, but doing it in a way that personally makes me want to cringe a little.  I can do nothing nor do I want to do anything about these churches.

Instead, I should choose to rejoice like Paul does.

There is a sense in which each person will ultimately be accountable to Jesus.

(Rom 14:4 KJV)  Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

I need to learn to let those situations go.



Yet here, Paul clearly doesn’t want to send just anybody.
He wants to choose someone whose heart is in the right place.
Paul was greatly concerned about the church in Philippi.  He wanted to be sure to send the right person.
(Prov 25:19 KJV)  Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.
I would say that Paul has learned over the years that some people will let you down.  He apparently had learned this lesson with John Mark, who at one time had abandoned he and Barnabas during one of their mission trips.
(Acts 15:37-40 KJV)  And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. {38} But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. {39} And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; {40} And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
I know that at times when we have a need, we may want to stick the first warm body that comes along.  But that’s not always a wise thing.
Sometimes we need to learn to have a few criteria for the people we choose.
Paul will write to Timothy later concerning the choosing of men for leadership in the church at Ephesus:
(1 Tim 3:1-7 ICB)  What I say is true: If anyone wants to become an elder, he is wanting a good work. {2} An elder must be so good that people cannot rightly criticize him. He must have only one wife. He must have self-control and be wise. He must be respected by other people and must be ready to help people by accepting them into his home. He must be a good teacher. {3} He must not drink too much wine, and he must not be a man who likes to fight. He must be gentle and peaceful. He must not love money. {4} He must be a good leader of his own family so that his children obey him with full respect. {5} (If a man does not know how to be a leader over his own family, he will not be able to take care of God's church.) {6} But an elder must not be a new believer. A new believer might be too proud of himself. Then he would be judged guilty for his pride just as the devil was. {7} An elder must also have the respect of people who are not in the church. Then he will not be criticized by others and caught in the devil's trap.
There’s a place for saying to someone, “you’re not ready for this yet”.

:22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.

the proofdokime – proving, trial; approved, tried character; a proof, a specimen of tried worth

he hath serveddouleuo – to be a slave, serve, do service; of a nation in subjection to other nations; metaph. to obey, submit to; in a good sense, to yield obedience; in a bad sense, of those who become slaves to some base power, to yield to, give one’s self up to

with me – Timothy didn’t serve Paul, he served “with him”.  Together, they served Jesus Christ in the sharing of the gospel.

the gospeleuaggelion – a reward for good tidings; good tidings; the glad tidings of salvation through Christ; the proclamation of the grace of God manifest and pledged in Christ


Proving yourself in ministry

The Philippian church had seen Timothy a couple of times already.
They saw him the first time that Paul came to Philippi, when he had started the church.

(Acts 16:3 KJV)  Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

(Acts 16:12 KJV)  And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.

When Paul had his long ministry at Ephesus, at one point he sent Timothy to Macedonia (Philippi) to check on the churches.

(Acts 19:22 KJV)  So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timotheus and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season.

Later, after Paul caught up with Timothy in Philippi, and they left to go to Ephesus.

(Acts 20:3-4 KJV)  And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. {4} And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.

They had seen up close just what Timothy was like.  They knew his “proven worth”
There’s a place for proving people in ministry.
(1 Tim 3:8-10 ICB)  In the same way, deacons must be men that people can respect. They must not say things they do not mean. They must not use their time drinking too much wine, and they must not be men who are always trying to get rich by cheating others. {9} They must follow the faith that God made known to us and always do what they know is right. {10} You should test those men first. If you find nothing wrong in them, then they can serve as deacons.
This all takes time.
“The submissive mind is not the product of an hour’s sermon, or a week’s seminar, or even a year’s service. The submissive mind grows in us as, like Timothy, we yield to the Lord and seek to serve others.” (Wiersbe)
Timothy was ready for this ministry because he had been serving with Paul.  He had laid the groundwork for serving the Lord.
Warren Wiersbe shares this story:

A popular local nightclub performer visited a pastor and announced that he had been saved and wanted to serve the Lord. “What should I do next?” he asked.

“Well, I’d suggest you unite with a good church and start growing,” the pastor replied. “Is your wife a Christian?”

“No, she isn’t,” the musician replied. “I hope to win her. But, do I have to wait? I mean, I’d like to do something for God right now.”

“No, you don’t have to wait to witness for the Lord,” explained the pastor. “Get busy in a church, and use your talents for Christ.”

“But you don’t know who I am!” the man protested. “I’m a big performer—everybody knows me. I want to start my own organization, make records, and appear before big crowds!”

“If you go too far too fast,” warned the pastor, “you may hurt yourself and your testimony. And the place to start winning people is right at home. God will open up places of service for you as He sees you are ready. Meanwhile, study the Bible and give yourself a chance to grow.”

The man did not take the pastor’s counsel. Instead, he set up a big organization and started out on his own. His “success” lasted less than a year. Not only did he lose his testimony because he was not strong enough to carry the heavy burdens, but his constant traveling alienated him from his wife and family. He drifted into a “fringe group” and disappeared from public ministry, a broken and bankrupt man.

“His branches went out farther than his roots went deep,” the pastor said. “When that happens, you eventually topple.”

Take the time to grow.  Prove yourself in ministry.

:23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.

I hopeelpizo – to hope; hopefully to trust in

to sendpempo – to send; to bid a thing to be carried to one; to send (thrust or insert) a thing into another

I shall see aphorao – to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something

The Greek word speaks here of the act of turning one’s attention from other things and concentrating them upon one’s own situation. Paul was so forgetful of self, yes, so dead to self, so engrossed in the welfare of others, that, even though he was a prisoner, and was facing martyrdom, yet he had not taken thought of his own welfare.[3]

presentlyexautes – on the instant, forthwith

:24 But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.

I trustpeitho – persuade; be persuaded; to trust, have confidence, be confident

Different word than the one used in verse 19.  Here the idea is being “persuaded” by the Lord

shortlytacheos – quickly, shortly

I … shall comeerchomai – to come

[1]Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Php 2:16). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[2]Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Php 2:19). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[3]Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Php 2:19). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.