Philippians 1-2

Sunday Evening Bible Study

September 24, 2000

Introduction to Philippians

When Paul was arrested in Jerusalem for allegedly bringing a Gentile into the temple, he was brought to Caesarea in Palestine to await his trial.  He stayed in jail in Caesarea for two years, then with his appeal he was sent to Rome.  While in Rome, he was allowed to keep his own apartment, but he was also chained to a Roman guard twenty-four hours a day.  These guards were known as the Praetorian Guards, part of a group of 10,000 soldiers whose job it was to protect Caesar.

Philippians 1

:1  Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

servantsdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition

saintshagios – most holy thing, a saint

bishopsepiskopos – an overseer; a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent; the superintendent, elder, or overseer of a Christian church

deaconsdiakonos – one who executes the commands of another, esp. of a master, a servant, attendant, minister; a deacon, one who, by virtue of the office assigned to him by the church, cares for the poor and has charge of and distributes the money collected for their use

The letter isn’t just written to those in leadership positions.  Sometimes we can get the idea in certain churches that the Bible are only for a certain selected few to read and understand.  God wants ALL of us to read His Word.

This is the only one of Paul’s letters where he does not refer to himself as an “apostle”.

:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

Every time Paul thinks about the Philippians, he is thankful.

:4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,

joychara – joy, gladness

One of the main words you’ll see through Philippians is joy (and rejoicing).

:5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

fellowshipkoinonia – fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse; a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship

From the very beginning of the Philippian church, these folks had helped to support Paul financially.  For this he is grateful.

:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

being confidentpeitho – persuade; to persuade; be persuaded; to trust, have confidence, be confident

which hath begunenarchomai – to begin, to make a beginning

will performepiteleo – to bring to an end, accomplish, perfect, execute, complete

Even if we can’t see how things could ever get better, God is still at work.

God knows what He has in mind for you.  He has plans for you.

(Eph 2:10 KJV)  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


When Jesus decided to change Peter’s name in John 1:42, it demonstrated how Jesus looks at men.  He does not only see what a man is; he also sees what a man can become.  He sees not only the actualities in a man; he also sees the possibilities.  Jesus looked at Peter and saw in him not only a Galilaean fisherman but one who had it in him to become the rock on which his church would be built.  Jesus sees us not only as we are, but as we can be; and he says:  “Give your life to me, and I will make you what you have it in you to be.”  Once someone came on Michelangelo chipping away with his chisel at a huge shapeless piece of rock. He asked the sculptor what he was doing.  “I am releasing the angel imprisoned in this marble,” he answered.  Jesus is the one who sees and can release the hidden hero in every man.

-- William Barclay's Commentary on The Gospel of John

:7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

meetdikaios – righteous, observing divine laws; in a wide sense, upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God

:8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

bowelssplagchnon – bowels, intestines, (the heart, lungs, liver, etc.); the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, esp. kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections, etc.); a heart in which mercy resides

:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

aboundperisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; a thing which comes in abundance, or overflows unto one, something falls to the lot of one in large measure

knowledgeepignosis – precise and correct knowledge; a fuller, clearer, more thorough knowledge; knowledge by experience.

judgmentaisthesis – perception, not only by the senses but by the intellect; cognition, discernment; of moral discernment in ethical matters


One of Paul’s prayers!

Pay attention!  Another great prayer to pray for people.  Do you remember some of the other prayers we’ve seen?
Paul prays for their love, their agape, to be growing over the limits of what they think it can grow, but growing in the area of precise knowledge that comes through experience, and that it would be growing in all discernment.
I think that we get the idea that agape means that we have to be foolish dupes who are taken in by every con artist that comes our way.  Some of us are beginning to learn to be careful about the “con” artist, but we also need to be careful that we don’t stop growing in real agape love either.

:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent;

Here’s the goal of our love growing in knowledge and discernment:

approvedokimazo – to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals; to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy

excellentdiaphero – to bear or carry through any place; to carry different ways; to differ, to test, prove, the good things that differ,; to distinguish between good and evil, lawful and unlawful, to approve of things that excel, to differ from one

When our love grows in the proper way, we learn to recognize the things that are worth investing in and leave the other things alone.

Sometimes the “good” things keep us from doing the “best” things.

:10  that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

sincereheilikrines – pure, sincere, unsullied; found pure when unfolded and examined by the sun’s light

without offenceaproskopos – having nothing to strike against, not causing to stumble; of a smooth road; without offense, not troubled by a consciousness of sin

:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

being filledpleroo – to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally; to render full, i.e. to complete; to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim

:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

furtheranceprokope – progress, advancement

:13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

the palacepraitorion – "head-quarters" in a Roman camp, the tent of the commander-in-chief.

:14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

waxing confidentpeitho – persuade; be persuaded; to trust, have confidence, be confident

much moreperissoteros – more abundantly; more in a greater degree; more earnestly, more exceedingly; especially, above others

boldtolmao – not to dread or shun through fear; to bear, endure; to be bold; bear one’s self boldly, deal boldly


God can use anything for the good.

We like to claim the verse:
(Rom 8:28 KJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
But if you were Paul, sitting in a Roman prison, chained to two Roman guards, how could God ever use that?
God was using it.  Apparently the Roman guards were coming to the Lord through Paul, and then when others found out about Paul’s predicament, they became more bold instead of more fearful.

:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:

envyphthonos – envy; for envy, i.e. prompted by envy

People who preached about Jesus because they were envious of the attention that Paul was getting.

strifeeris – contention, strife, wrangling

Some were preaching the gospel because they just loved to get into arguments with others.

Have you ever seen a person like this out on the streets witnessing?  It’s very common.

good willeudokia – will, choice; good will, kindly intent, benevolence

Some people were preaching for the right reasons, because they cared for those they preached to.

: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.

In some of the modern translations, verses 16 & 17 are switched.  The meaning is still the same.

contentioneritheia – electioneering or intriguing for office; apparently, in the NT a courting distinction, a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and fractious spirit which does not disdain low arts; partisanship, fractiousness;

sincerelyhagnos – chaste, clean, pure, with sincerity (related to hagios, “holy”).

It would seem that the people with the wrong motives were wanting to preach the gospel just to build a bigger following, build a bigger church, things like that.  Their motives weren’t pure.  They just wanted to cause Paul more anguish while he was in prison.

afflictionthlipsis – a pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

Some people were preaching because they loved Paul.

defenceapologia – verbal defence, speech in defence; a reasoned statement or argument

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

pretenceprophasis – a pretext (alleged reason, pretended cause); show; under colour as though they would do something; in pretence, ostensibly; pretending to do something for the right reasons when really your motives are ugly.


Sometimes you shouldn’t worry about their motives.

I think we all have a concern for the purity of the gospel and for people to come to Christ in an environment where they will grow, mature, and become active disciples for Jesus.
I think we all are grieved how some ministries seem to be more intent on making people weird than making them disciples.
But sometimes we need to let go of our suspicions and just be glad that the gospel is being preached.


Rejoice at the gospel

I don’t think this means you have to support every ministry that preaches the gospel. I don’t think it means you have to watch channel 40 all the time.  But you should be glad they’re preaching the gospel.

:19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

turn toapobaino – to come down from, i.e. a ship; to turn out, result, to be the outcome

salvationsoteria – deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation

Paul isn’t talking about his eternity in heaven here.  He’s talking about getting out of jail.

supplyepichoregia – a supplying, supply; this comes from choregeo, to be a chorus leader, lead a chorus; to furnish the chorus at one’s own expense; to procure and supply all things necessary to fit out a chorus; to supply, furnish abundantly

It’s kind of like we’re the “Holy Spirit Travelling Choir”, and the Holy Spirit is in charge of making sure we’ve got all we need to sing.  The Holy Spirit will provide all we need.

:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

earnest expectationapokaradokia (“from” + “the head” + “watching”) – anxious and persistent expectation

boldnessparrhesia – freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech; openly, frankly, i.e without concealment; without the use of figures and comparisons; free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance

be magnifiedmegaluno – to make great, magnify; metaph. to make conspicuous; to deem or declare great; to esteem highly, to extol, laud, celebrate; to get glory and praise

Paul is totally confident that Jesus is going to be magnified in his life, whether it’s through living or through dying.

:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

gainkerdos – gain, advantage.

If Paul lives, Jesus is living in Paul.  If Paul dies, he goes to heaven.  Either way it’s a “win-win” situation.


How can he lose?

With an attitude like this, how can you get a guy like this discouraged?
Delores Elaine Bius (Chicago, Illinois. Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom.") writes,

One of my grown sons had made up an emergency repair kit for the trunk of my car. The box was so large, I jokingly called it "my coffin." When it was time to buy a new car, my seven-year-old grandson, Matthew, came with me to the dealer. As we looked in the trunk of the car I finally decided upon, Matthew startled the salesman by asking, "Are you going to keep your coffin in the trunk of this car now?"

In a way, that’s not a bad attitude, carrying your “coffin” around with you.  If you’re ready for death, then nothing in life seems so bad.
In 1912, a group of Englishmen were waiting for death in an ice-hut in the wild Antarctic. One of them, the doctor (Edward Wilson) of the party, was writing home to his wife. This is what he said:

Don't be unhappy.... We are playing a good part in a great scheme  arranged by God Himself, and all is well.... We will all meet after  death, and death has no terrors.... All is for the best to those  who love God, and ... we have both loved Him with all our lives....  Life itself is a small thing to me now, but my love for you is  forever and part of our love for God. All the things I had hoped to  do with you after this Expedition are as nothing now, but there are  greater things for us in the world to come.... All is well.

:22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

choosehaireomai – to take for oneself, to prefer, choose; to choose by vote, elect to office

wot – know

Paul doesn’t know what to choose, life or death.

:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

in a straitsunecho – to hold together; to hold together with constraint, to compress; to press together with the hand; to press on every side; of a strait, that forces a ship into a narrow channel

departanaluo – to unloose, undo again; to depart, break up, to depart from life, to return


Death brings us to Jesus.

Paul expected that if he died, he’d go straight to Jesus.
(2 Cor 5:8 KJV)  We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
When you are “loosed” from your physical body, your spirit goes immediately into God’s presence in heaven.
In Catherine Marshall’s book about her husband Peter, she cites a touching story of a young terminally ill son asking his mother what death was like, if it hurt.
“Kenneth,” she said, “you remember when you were a tiny boy how you used to play so hard all day that when night came you would be too tired even to undress, and you would tumble into mother’s bed and fall asleep?
“That was not your bed—it was not where you belonged.
“And you would only stay there a little while.  In the morning, much to your surprise, you would wake up and find yourself in your own bed in your own room.
“You were there because someone had loved you and taken care of you.
Your father had come—with big strong arms—and carried you away.
“Kenneth, death is just like that.
We just wake up some morning to find ourselves in the other room—our own room where we belong—because the Lord Jesus loved us.”
The lad’s shining, trusting face looking up into hers told her that the point had gone home and that there would be no more fear—only love and trust in his little heart as he went to meet the Father in Heaven.
He never questioned again. And several weeks later he fell asleep just as she had said.

-- Catherine Marshall, A Man Called Peter

:24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

more needfulanagkaios – necessary; what one can not do without, indispensable

It was better for the Philippians if Paul stayed alive.

:25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

continue withsumparameno – to abide together with; to continue to live together

furtheranceprokope – progress, advancement

:26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

rejoicingkauchema – that of which one glories or can glory, matter or ground of glorying; a glorying or boasting

The Philippians had a kind of pride in Paul.

Kind of different from the Corinthians, who were pretty divided over whether they even liked Paul.

: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;

let your conversation bepoliteuomai – to be a citizen; to administer civil affairs, manage the state; to make or create 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

We’re citizens and representatives of a foreign country, heaven.  We need to be acting like citizens of heaven.

as becomethaxios – suitably, worthily, in a manner worthy of

Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

(Eph 4:1 NLT)  Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.

striving togethersunathleo – to strive at the same time with another; it comes from athleo, to engage in a contest, contend in public games, contend for a prize.



With the Olympics going on right now, we have a reminder of what “team sports” are all about.  You can have a team made up of great individuals, but if you don’t work together, you aren’t going to get near as far as you could if you helped each other.
We are a team.  We need to work at working together.
Don’t be a hotdog.  Don’t try to go out and do it all on your own.
Work with others.  Learn to support the other players.

Magic Johnson was a great basketball player, not because he made every shot or scored the most points.  His excellence was in “assists”.  He could spot the open player and get the ball to him.

: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.

terrifiedpturo – to frighten, affright

adversariesantikeimai – to be set over against, opposite to; to oppose, be adverse to, withstand

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

(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.

: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 givencharizomai – to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favour to, gratify; to show one’s self gracious, kind, benevolent; to give graciously, give freely, bestow

This is a word based on charis, the word for “grace”.

to sufferpascho – to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo; in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight

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

conflictagon – an assembly; the assembly of the Greeks at their national games; hence the contest for a prize at their games; generally, any struggle or contest

The Philippians had seen with their eyes how Paul had suffered persecution for preaching the gospel.  Now they have heard more by hearing that he was in prison for preaching Jesus.


Claim the promise!

This isn’t one we hear people claiming too often, huh?
This is a promise of suffering for the sake of Jesus, for the sake of having shared the gospel with others.
This is not suffering because they’ve made bad choices in their lives and are now suffering the consequences.  This is not suffering because they are simply obnoxious people.
This is suffering because they have stayed faithful to Jesus.
They have been “graced” with this privilege.

Philippians 2

:1  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

consolationparaklesis – a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); importation, supplication, entreaty; exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment

comfortparamuthion – persuasive address, whether made for the purpose of persuading, or of arousing and stimulating, or of calming and consoling

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

fellowshipkoinonia – fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse

bowelssplagchnon – bowels, intestines, (the heart, lungs, liver, etc.); the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, esp. kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections, etc.); a heart in which mercy resides

merciesoiktirmos – compassion, pity, mercy; bowels in which compassion resides, a heart of compassion; emotions, longings, manifestations of pity; the inward feeling of compassion which abides in the heart.

Paul is asking a question that expects a “yes” for an answer.  Do these things exist?  Yes.

All these things are supposed to be found among Christians.  These are all supposed to be qualities found in the church.

:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

fulfilpleroo – to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally; to render full, i.e. to complete; to fill to the top: so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure, fill to the brim

Paul is asking them that they make him a happy man by doing these things.

likemindedphroneo (the word autos, “same” is also paired with this word) – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to think or judge what one’s opinion is; to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious

one accordsumpsuchos – of one mind, of one accord; This word is made up of two words "sun" (together with) and psuchos (soul, self, inner life, or the seat of the feelings, desires, affections).  So the word refers to being united in spirit or harmonious (A&G).  Paul desired the Philippians to be united in their affections-one in Christ in all desires!  Used only here in the NT. (Wayne Steury)

mindphroneo  – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to think or judge what one’s opinion is; to be of the same mind i.e. agreed together, cherish the same views, be harmonious

These are all pretty difficult tasks.  It’s a pretty amazing thing when you can get any group of people to agree on any one thing.

Apparently, some of the folks in Philippi weren’t getting along with each other.

Paul is going to give them some advice about how to get along.

:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory;

nothingmedeis – nobody, no one, nothing

strifeeritheia – electioneering or intriguing for office; apparently, in the NT a courting distinction, a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and fractious spirit which does not disdain low arts; partisanship, fractiousness; This word is found before NT times only in Aristotle where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means.

With our presidential elections coming up in November, we are currently beginning to see some great pictures of what “electioneering” is all about, doing anything to try and win your vote.

vainglorykenodoxia – vain glory, groundless, self esteem, empty pride; a vain opinion, error; it comes from kenodoxos – glorying without reason, conceited, vain glorious, eager for empty glory

:3  but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

lowliness of mindtapeinophrosune (“lowliness” + “mind”)– the having a humble opinion of one’s self; a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness; modesty, humility, lowliness of mind; not the making of one’s self small when he is really great, but thinking little of one’s self, because this is in a sense the right estimate for any human being, however great.

Humility is not a great person learning to do “humble” kinds of things.  It’s not a great person stooping “down” to help us poor peons.

It’s an attitude of your heart that says that you’re really not all that great to begin with.  You don’t think this to draw sympathy to yourself.  You don’t think this because you’re having a “pity party” for yourself.  You simply think this because it’s true.

esteemhegeomai – to lead; to consider, deem, account, think; a belief resting not on one’s inner feeling or sentiment, but on the due consideration of external grounds, and the weighing and comparing of facts; the idea of a deliberate and careful judgment

Don’t just “feel” like the other person is of more value, give it consideration and find it true.

better thanhuperecho – to have or hold over one; to stand out, rise above, overtop; to be above, be superior in rank, authority, power; to excel, to be superior, better than, to surpass

:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

lookskopeo – to look at, observe, contemplate; to fix one’s eyes upon, direct one’s attention to, any one

(Phil 2:4 NASB)  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.


Becoming “other” centered.

:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Let this mindphroneo – to have understanding, be wise; to feel, to think; to have an opinion of one’s self, think of one’s self

If you need a better picture of how this kind of thing is lived out in life, the best picture is that of Jesus Christ.

:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

formmorphe – the form by which a person or thing strikes the vision; external appearance

robberyharpagmos – the act of seizing, robbery; a thing seized or to be seized; booty to deem anything a prize; a thing to be seized upon or to be held fast, retained

thoughthegeomai – to lead; to consider, deem, account, think; a belief resting not on one’s inner feeling or sentiment, but on the due consideration of external grounds, and the weighing and comparing of facts; the idea of a deliberate and careful judgment

equalisos – equal, in quantity or quality


Jesus is fully God.

 (John 1:1 KJV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
(Rom 9:5 KJV)  Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
(1 John 5:20 KJV)  And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
(John 20:27-28 KJV)  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. {28} And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
(John 8:56-59 KJV)  Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. {57} Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? {58} Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. {59} Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
(Heb 1:1-8 KJV)  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, {2} Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; {3} Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; {4} Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. {5} For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? {6} And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. {7} And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. {8} But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Not only is Jesus God, He never stopped being God.


Jesus let go of His rights

Even though Jesus is God, He carefully considered that holding on to His place in heaven was not something that He had to hold on to.
He was able to let go of His rights.
(Eph 5:25 NASB)  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her;

:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

made himself of no reputationkenoo – to empty, make empty; of Christ, he laid aside equality with or the form of God

“He stripped himself of the insignia of majesty” (Lightfoot).

servantdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition; a slave; devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests

Instead of being in the “form” (morphe) of God, He was now in the form of a servant.

likenesshomoioma – that which has been made after the likeness of something; a figure, image, likeness, representation; likeness i.e. resemblance, such as amounts almost to equality or identity

:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

fashionschema – the habitus, as comprising everything in a person which strikes the senses, the figure, bearing, discourse, actions, manner of life etc.

humbledtapeinoo – to make low, bring low; metaph. to bring into a humble condition, reduce to meaner circumstances; to assign a lower rank or place to

This is the root of the word “lowliness of mind” in verse 3.

obedienthupekoos – giving ear, obedient


Harmony through death

This seems to be the key to learning to “get along” with each other.
Circle the words “humbled”, “obedient”, and “death”.


The gospel

He was thinking more of our needs than His own.

:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

highly exaltedhuperupsoo – metaph. to exalt to the highest rank and power, raise to supreme majesty

givencharizomai – to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favour to, gratify; to show one’s self gracious, kind, benevolent; to give graciously, give freely, bestow.  Related to the word for “grace” (charis).  God “graced” Jesus with a name above every name.

(Acts 4:12 KJV)  Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

in heaven – both angels and those who have already died and gone to heaven.

in earth – everything on earth will bow

under the earth – referring to those in hell

:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Every knee will bow before Jesus Christ.  You can bow now willingly, or you can bow later.

:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

belovedagapetos – beloved, esteemed, dear, favourite, worthy of love

work outkatergazomai – to perform, accomplish; to work out i.e. to do that from which something results

The Philippians had obeyed the things Paul had instructed them to do, not just when he was around, but also when he wasn’t around.

He’s encouraging them to simply continue obey in the things that result from being saved.  Why?

:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

workethenergeo (like the “Energizer Bunny”) – to be operative, be at work, put forth power; to work for one, aid one; to effect

You could post a sign over your head, “Construction Zone – God at work!”

This ought to put a little fear and trembling inside us, to think that some of the things that are going on in our heart might actually be God at work!

What if that “nudge” you felt to go and talk to a certain person was from the Lord?  What if that thing you could do that came to mind as you were reading God’s Word was from the Lord?

to willthelo – to will, have in mind, intend; to be resolved or determined, to purpose; to desire, to wish; to love; to like to do a thing, be fond of doing; to take delight in, have pleasure

to doenergeo – to be operative, be at work, put forth power; to work for one, aid one; to effect.  Same word as “worketh”.

good pleasureeudokia – will, choice; good will, kindly intent, benevolence; delight, pleasure, satisfaction


Be afraid.  God’s at work in you.


Desire and Doing

When God is at work in your life, He’s going to change your desires and then give you the ability to do what is pleasing to Him.

There was a story about a little boy who went to Sunday School.  When it came time for the whole class to stand up and sing, Johnny stayed in his seat.  The teacher asked Johnny to stand with everyone else.  He didn’t.  The teacher asked again.  Finally, Johnny stood up, but said, “I may be standing on the outside, but I’m still sitting on the inside!”

When God works in your life, He works from the inside out.  He gives us the willingness to obey the things that are pleasing to Him.  Then He gives us the strength to do them.

I remember one of the prayers of one of the kids in my youth group twenty years ago who prayed, “Lord, help me be willing to do my homework”.
But God not only wants to help us with the desire, but to actually help us DO His will.
Ultimately it's the doer who counts.  For as President Theodore Roosevelt once said:  "It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither defeat nor victory."
Let Him help you get out and serve Him.

:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

murmuringsgoggusmos – a murmur, murmuring, muttering; a secret debate; a secret displeasure not openly avowed

disputingsdialogismos – the thinking of a man deliberating with himself; a deliberating, questioning about what is true; hesitation, doubting; disputing, arguing

The Israelites got into constant trouble in the wilderness because they were always murmuring, always complaining.

: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;

blamelessamemptos – blameless, deserving no censure, free from fault or defect

harmlessakeraios – unmixed, pure as in wines or metals; of the mind, without a mixture of evil, free from guile, innocent, simple

No mixed motives.

without rebukeamometos – that cannot be censured, blameless

crookedskolios (“scoliosis”) – crooked, curved; perverse, wicked; unfair, surly, froward

perversediastrepho – to distort, turn aside; to oppose, plot against the saving purposes and plans of God; to turn aside from the right path, to pervert, corrupt

lights –

(Mat 5:14-16 KJV)  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. {15} Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. {16} Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

: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.

holding forthepecho – to have or hold upon, apply, to observe, attend to

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

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

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

: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.

be of good comforteupsucheo – to be of good courage, to be of a cheerful spirit

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

likemindedisopsuchos – equal in soul

naturallygnesios – genuinely, faithfully, sincerely

care formerimnao – to be anxious; to be troubled with cares; to care for, look out for (a thing); caring or providing for

This is the same word used in Phil. 4:6, “be anxious for nothing”.

Here, it’s okay for Timothy to be “anxious” or “caring” for the church.  There are some things that are okay to be “anxious” about.

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

It kind of sounds as if Paul was having a problem in finding good help.  It sounds as if he had some men serving with him who were looking for their own advancement instead of the advancement of Jesus Christ.

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

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

serveddouleuo – to be a slave, serve, do service


Proven worth

(Phil 2:22 NASB)  But you know of his proven worth that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.
I think that this is one of the best ways to grow in ministry.
1.  I need to “prove” myself to others in ministry.
Here, Paul is saying that the reason he’s choosing Timothy to go and check on the church is because Timothy has “proven” himself faithful.
2.  I need to “prove” myself to God.
(Luke 16:10-12 KJV)  He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. {11} If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? {12} And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?
After I finished seminary, Deb and I decided we wanted to spend our lives serving the Lord within the Calvary Chapel movement.  I remember standing in line to talk to Pastor Chuck, expecting that he’d have a “word” from the Lord to hire me.  Instead, he told me to teach a Sunday School class.  I didn’t want to do something as “menial” as that.  We struggled, mostly because of my pride.  When we ended up at Calvary Chapel Anaheim, I started to learn that I needed to be a servant. 

I found this verse in Luke 16 and clung to it.

I started going to band practice, but it took six months before anyone even paid attention to me.  I started helping set up the church in the mornings because we were meeting in a rented school facility.  I started a VERY small Bible Study at our home.  It took me a couple of years to “get it”.  When I was finally hired to be an assistant pastor at Anaheim, my main job assignment was to oversee Children’s Ministry.  God knows what He’s doing.

Don’t take short cuts.  Demonstrate proven worth.

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

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

Paul is hoping to get out of prison.

:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

supposedhegeomai – to lead; to consider, deem, account, think; a belief resting not on one’s inner feeling or sentiment, but on the due consideration of external grounds, and the weighing and comparing of facts; the idea of a deliberate and careful judgment

necessaryanagkaios – necessary; what one can not do without, indispensable

companion in laboursunergos – a companion in work, fellow worker

fellowsoldiersustratiotes – a fellow soldier; an associate in labours and conflicts for the cause of Christ

messengerapostolos – a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders; apostle.  Epaphroditus was an “apostle” from the Philippians in that they had sent him to help Paul.

ministeredleitourgos – a public minister, a servant of the state; a minister, servant; of the temple; of one busied with holy things

wantschreia – necessity, need; duty, business

:26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

longed afterepipotheo – to long for, desire; to pursue with love, to long after

full of heavinessademoneo – to be troubled, great distress or anguish, depressed; it comes from adeo, which means to be so stuffed, so full of food that the sight of food makes you sick.  This is the strongest of the three Greek words in the NT for depression.

:27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

Paul saw Epaphroditus’ healing as merciful not only to Ephaphroditus, but also to himself because he would have missed the guy so much.

:28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.

more carefullyspoudaioteros – hastily, with haste; diligently, earnestly

:29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:

reputationentimos – held in honour, prized, precious

:30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

not regardingparabouleuomai – to consult amiss

to supplyanapleroo – to fill up, make full, e.g. a ditch; to supply

lackhusterema – deficiency, that which is lacking; in reference to property and resources, poverty, want, destitution

serviceleitourgia – a public office which a citizen undertakes to administer at his own expense; any service; 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

(Phil 2:30 NLT)  For he risked his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while trying to do for me the things you couldn't do because you were far away.


Honor the servants

We need to be careful to honor and value those who are faithful servants.  Hold them in high regard.