Philippians 1

1. Paul and Timothy, bond-slaves of Jesus Christ to all the ones set apart in Christ Jesus with the shepherds, and church-servants at Philippi.

Psalm 40:6 shows us that Jesus was a bondservant. A bondservant was somebody who loved his master and stayed with him for the rest of his life. Exodus 21 shows how a slave can decide to stay with his master because he loved him or because he loved his wife and does not want to go free while his wife is still a slave. This gives us some background into the decision Jesus made.

2. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ the Lord!

See Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Philemon verse 3.

3. I thank God for all our memories together!

Read Acts 16 and make a list of memories that the Philippians shared with Paul. Remember the first meeting with Lydia? The arrest? The earthquake? The guard's family? The girl set free the demon? See also 3 John 4.

4. Always in all my prayers for all of you making my requests with joy .

A good way to pray is thanking God for the people He has put in our lives. We thank the Lord that He is trusting us to pray for others when perhaps nobody else is praying for them!

5. Because from the first day we met until now you are my partners in sharing God's Message.

The word partner is the same word used for close fellowship with God in the Holy of Holies. This is the kind of relationship we have with God and each other.

6. For this very reason, I am sure that the One who started working in you will not stop His work until Christ returns.

See Philippians 2:8. God's work is His work, not ours. In Num 13:31-33 we see that the people said that they could not do what needed to be done. God had told them that He would fight for them as He did against the Egyptians. He never told them that they had to do it all themselves. Because they would not believe this they had to stay in the desert for forty years. Paul is reminding his readers that God is working in them in such a way that they do not have to face life by themselves.

The Day of the Lord is speaking of the day when Jesus is comes back with us in the clouds. Matthew 24:30. Hebrews 12:2, Psalm 138:8

7. It is right for me to think this about all of you because I have you in my heart. You are all partners of God's grace with me both in my chains , and in the defense and confirmation of God's Message.

Paul's memories would include the gifts which the Philippians sent to him. Their gifts have made them close partners in the ministry. He sees them as being on trial with him because they stand for the same things he does. This whole letter is a “Thank You” note.

8. For God knows, how greatly I love all of you with the love that Jesus Christ gives me.

There are four words for love in the Greek language:

storge – family love

eros - romantic love

phileo – brotherly love

agape – love that puts others above yourself

Paul uses the word “agape” here so that the Philippians will know how greatly they are loved.

9. I pray , that you may have even more love that is full of knowledge and insight.

Notice how Paul prays specifically instead of a general prayer. Sometimes we are distracted during prayer because we have not taken the time to think about what we should be praying about. Praying out loud works best. Pray the same way that you would want someone to be praying for you.

10. And that ye may prove the things that are the very best; that you may be sincere and without blame when Christ returns.

Colossians 3:1, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

The word genuine or sincere here reminds us of broken statues sometimes sold in those days. Mistakes were covered with wax which could later fall off and the buyer would see that he had been cheated. Those who sold these statues were not sincere. Paul wants the Philippians to live with nothing to hide.

The words “without blame” mean that believers should not be a stumbling block to anyone. This reminds us that some of the things we do can cause another Christian to stumble. When we act as if we do not care when we hurt another Christian, we are not walking in love.

You may say that you are free to dress in any way you want, to drink strong drink or talk in any way you feel like talking, but Paul said he would not even eat meat if it offended his brother (1 Corinthians 8:13).

11. And that you will be filled with the fruits of Godly living which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Paul prays for them to see the results in their lives that come from walking closely with God.

God says, “Draw closer to Me and I will draw closer to you.” James 4:8

12. Now I want you to understand, brothers, that the things which happened to me have turned out for the progress of God's Message .

Problems cause us to refocus our priorities. Notice how Paul is saying that his arrest has caused the Gospel to be heard by more people. He is saying that God makes no mistakes. (Psalm 76:10). When we have trials the world watches to see what we will do.

As Joseph said, “ meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20

Sometimes we get upset because we are late to an appointment. For all we know, we might be late because God is preventing us from being involved in a car accident. The devil tells us that it is strange that we would have problems, but Peter tells us not to think of this as strange ( 1 Peter 4:12).

Paul knows that God could release him with an earthquake as He did in Philippi, but he trusts God whether there is an earthquake or no earthquake.

Daniel's three friends said, “... the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power... but even if He does not, we want to make it clear to you ...that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up. ” Daniel 3:17-18

This is the kind of trust God is looking for from us.

13. The fact that I am in chains because of Christ is known by all the palace [Nero's personal guards] and in all other places.

At the time this letter was written Paul went to court but not to Nero's court. Paul waited under ar r est for two years for the Jews to come to Rome to accuse him in court. The Jews never came and Paul was released.

2 Timothy 4:16 tells us about the second time he was arrested and taken to court.

Some Bible experts believe that at the second trial Paul explained the gospel to Nero as he did to other rulers (see Acts 23:11). After this, history shows that Nero became more and more insane and he had Paul executed.

Nero burned the city of Rome and blamed it on the Christians. He burned Christians in his garden and sent them to be eaten by lions in the arena. When the people became disgusted with Nero and attacked his palace, Nero's personal guards refused to protect him.

It is logical to think that the guards who were chained to Paul had watched his way of life and saw that he was blameless. They would have been the first to spread the word to the palace and some even believed in Christ.

14. And many of the brothers in the Lord, becoming full of courage because of my chains, are speaking the message of the Word with no fear.

God does NOT send fear to us because fear has torment (1 John 4:8). So thoughts which torture CANNOT be from God (Revelation 12:10).

Sudden fear is a automatic signal that you are being attacked by demonic forces. See Proverbs 3:25.

Fear is trying to tell us that God cannot be trusted.

2 Timothy 1:7 says that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power to resist demonic attacks because of His love and His gift of a sound mind.

The next step in the attack is to tell us to stay away from those who can help us. Wolves always separate one sheep away from the rest of the flock. If we agree with these lies the attacks will become stronger. When these attacks come we need to turn our attention more to our serious study of the Word and leave the situation in God's hands completely. If we can do nothing else then at least we can cry out, “Help me Jesus!” God loves to see our total trust in Him this way and He will rescue us.

The devil's plan to stop Paul did not work. “The Word of God is NOT chained!” 2 Timothy 2:9

15. Some surely proclaim Christ because of envy and jealousy but others out of good will.

Some Jewish believers taught that you still had to follow Jewish laws to be a Christian. They followed Paul everywhere and made people confused about what Paul was saying.

* 17. These last ones are doing it from love , knowing that I am here for the defense of God's Message .

* Notice that verses 16-17 got reversed in some old manuscripts and were left that way in some Bible versions. It is easier to understand in the order shown here.

The word “defense” here comes from the word we use for “apologetics” or the answers to questions about the Bible. Paul sees himself as being chained in Rome so that he can explain the Gospel to everyone he comes in contact with.

*16. The other ones are proclaiming Christ out of jealousy, not sincerely , thinking to add trouble to my chains .

Our enemies look for weak spots that they can twist to make us look bad. Paul could be speaking of the Jews in Acts 28:24 who rejected the message.

18. What then? It does not matter as long as Christ is proclaimed, whether for false reasons, or in truth, I am full of joy , yes, and I definitely will be full of joy !

Notice how Paul does not care who gets the credit as long as people hear the Gospel. God can even use a poorly presented Gospel.

Paul is saying that his circumstances do not determine his joy.

19. For I know that your prayers (and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ) will cause my release from prison.

Paul knows that when our prayers line up with what God wants then nothing can stop us.

20. My eager expectation is that I will not be ashamed, but will have the courage to honor Christ in my body whether I live or die.

Many Christians ask themselves if they will have the courage to stay strong when they are persecuted for their faith. Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit will take over when we face these kind of situations. See Matthew 10:19, Daniel 3:17, 2 Timothy 4:16-17.

21. For Christ is the center of my life, and to die is to have more of Him.

Sometimes it seems like our lives are centered on _____ (something else). Do I need anything besides Jesus to make me happy today? Am I ready in case something happens to test me on this today? Would you give God permission to remind you when something else tries to take His place? See 1 Corinthians 15:31, Matthew 16:24, Romans 8:36.

22. If I live in the body , this will allow more fruit in the ministry: but I do not know what I would choose.

What fruit have you produced since the day you gave your life to Christ? Matthew 10:18-19, 2 Corinthians 5:8

23-24 For I am torn between the two, having a desire to leave the world, and to be with Christ, which is far better. But to stay in the body is better for you.

Some cults teach soul-sleep which says that we remain somehow in an unconscious state after we die. The Bible says that as soon as we leave the body we are instantly with the Lord. See 2 Corinthians 5:8.

25. I am sure that I will stay alive and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith .

I shall live and not die. Psalm 118:17

Ravi Zacharias wanted to commit suicide when he was a young man. He heard these words and was delivered from thoughts of suicide: “Because I live, you will live.” (John 14:19)

26. And that your joyfulness in Jesus Christ will increase by my coming back to you.

Paul is encouraging them to think about the good days they will have together instead of focusing on the hard times.

27. Let your way of life make God's Message look good. So that if I come and see you, or if I am with the Lord, I will hear that you stand strong in one spirit, with one mind battling together for the faith .

Our way of life is being watched by unbelievers. People are not the real enemy (Ephesians 6:12) but the devil is. Stand together as an army that can lock their shields (Ephesians 6:16) together in the same way that the Roman soldiers did.

28. Do not be suddenly filled with fear by your enemies. This will remind them that they are lost but will remind you of how you are safe with God.

The words here can be paraphrased as, “Do not be shocked as horses who run away in fear but be confident in God's protection.”

29. For to you it is graciously given in Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.

This is the opposite of “Name it and Claim it” or “Positive Thinking” teachings. False teachers tell us that Christians do not need to suffer but can live as rich people live on the earth. This is a kind of teaching that hurts people because it teaches that those who go through trials do not have enough faith to overcome their situation. This puts the focus on us rather than on Christ.

Besides all this, it is God who gives us faith so when people accuse you of not having enough faith they are accusing God.

Jesus said that we would have troubles, but that He would be with us in those times. John 16:33

The original language says, “you have been graced” which shows us God's kindness in giving us the power to live this way.

30 . Now you are in the same battle which you saw me fighting and, as you have heard, I am still fighting.

What kind of battles was Paul fighting? The Philippians saw Paul beaten and put in jail because he was a threat to the local demonic powers. Paul was in trouble for teaching what is right.

Paul is telling them that they have the same kind of battle. We are a threat to the devil's plans so it makes sense that he would attack us. It would be bad if a soldier was walking in the middle of a war and did not even know what was happening or who the enemy was.