Philippians was most likely written from Rome in about 61 A.D. or 62 A.D. Paul’s reference to the palace guard in Phil. 1:13, as well as his concern about facing possible death in verses 20-26 indicate the letter was written from Rome.
The Philippian church was established during Paul’s Second Missionary Journey. When the Philippian believers heard about Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, they sent Epaphroditus, apparently their preacher, to minister to Paul. Epaphroditus personally ministered to Paul and brought him a financial contribution. The book of Philippians is a thank you letter to the Philippians. Paul provides many exhortations and challenges to the Philippians, so the primary theme of the letter is “living the Christian life.”
Epaphroditus became so ill while in Rome that he almost died (2:27). After he recovered, he took Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
Philippi was a Roman colony and Anthony ordered some Roman soldiers to live there after the Battle of Philippi in 42 B.C. Also, in 30 B.C. Octavian forced some Italians to give up their homes and go to Philippi to settle. These residents of Philippi were given special privileges, including the “Italic right.” This right gave the Philippians the status of Roman citizens, including exemption from taxation. Thus, Paul’s words “live as citizens” (1:27) and “our citizenship is in heaven” (3:20) had special meaning for the Philippians.
I. Encouragement for Living the Christian Life (1:1-30)
A. Paul’s praise of the saints at Philippi (1:1-8)
Paul often began his letters with greeting, praise and commendation for the recipients of the letter. Paul was very gentle with the Philippian believers.
(Phil 1:1 KJV) Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Paul was his Gentile name as Saul was his Hebrew name. Paul used his Gentile name to address the Philippians. Paul calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ instead of referring to his apostleship. Timothy was associated with Paul’s imprisonment (2:19,23) and Timothy had a special interest in the Philippian saints ((2:20). The word “saints” is a generic term for all of God’s chosen people, including the Christians in Philippi. It simply means “those set apart” and does not imply any specific level of maturity. All Christians are saints, whether they are faithful or unfaithful. Saved Jews and saved Gentiles outside of the Church Age are also saints.
Paul includes the “bishops and deacons” among the saints of Philippi. The bishops were the overseers or elders (Titus 1:5, 7) in the local church. They were responsible for shepherding or pastoring the flock (cf. Acts 20:17, 28). The “deacons” were church leaders with special responsibilities for serving the members of the local church (cf. Acts 6).
(Phil 1:2 KJV) Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul uses the terms grace and peace to greet the Philippians. The word grace refers to the divine influence of the Holy Spirit upon one’s life, and peace refers to the peace of God that comes from this divine influence. The Christian is spiritually saved by grace and he receives peace with God at the time. The grace and peace referred to here goes beyond spirit salvation to Paul’s wish for the realization of soul salvation via the divine influence of the Holy Spirit upon one’s life to the point of having the peace of God. Many Christians are saved by grace and have peace with God, but they do not allow the free activity of the Holy Spirit to bring about the peace of God in their lives.
(Phil 1:3 KJV) I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
Paul states his endearment to the Philippians every time that they come to his mind.
(Phil 1:4 KJV) Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
Every time they come to his mind, Paul prays for the Philippians requesting with joy for their continued participation (i.e., fellowship) in the gospel. The following verses confirm that Paul is speaking of the gospel of the kingdom, which is typical of Paul’s writings throughout the New Testament.
(Phil 1:5 KJV) For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
Paul is stating that the Philippians began their participation or partnership in the gospel of the kingdom from the first day of their spirit salvation.
(Phil 1:6 KJV) 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:
Paul states that he is confident that the “good work” that had been begun in the Philippians would be continued on until it was completed at the day of Jesus Christ. The day of Jesus Christ is the time of the Rapture of Christians, whether it is Firstfruits or the Main Harvest. The “good work” to be completed or finalized is soul salvation.
(Phil 1:7 KJV) 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.
The NIV provides an excellent sentence translation of this verse as follows:
(Phil 1:7 NIV) It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God's grace with me.
Since the Philippians received Paul and supported him both personally and financially, they will share in his sufferings in chains and for defending and confirming the gospel. The Philippians will receive credit at the Judgment Seat of Christ from the work of Paul, since they shared in his ministry.
(Phil 1:8 KJV) For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
Paul states that God is the witness of how Paul longs after the Philippians with the tender affections of Jesus Christ.
(Phil 1:9 KJV) And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
Paul prays to God that the agape (i.e., love of God) in the Philippians would abound more and more in the deeper knowledge of God (epignosis) and in moral discernment in ethical matters (i.e., judgment). Paul is praying for their spiritual growth and maturity. Paul desires that the Philippians experience the love of God, the knowledge of God and the moral discernment of God. All of this results in practical righteousness and success in living the Christian life. Please see my dissertation: The Sermon on the Mount for a detailed explanation of the difference between imputed righteousness and practical righteousness.
(Phil 1:10 KJV) That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
The NIV clarifies the meaning of this verse.
(Phil 1:10 NIV) so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,
Paul desires that the Philippians know how to live the Christian life so that they “MAY BE PURE AND BLAMELESS” until the rapture of the Church. Please note the conditional aspect of this wish by Paul. These Christians “may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ” but they may not. The purpose is for them to experience practical righteousness as described in the following verse:
(Phil 1:11 KJV) Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
If the Philippians are filled with the fruits of righteousness, then they may attain unto the glory and praise of God at the Judgment Seat of Christ. At the Judgment Seat of Christ Christians can experience the glory and praise of God, or they can experience shame and the contempt of God. Christians can receive a positive judgment or a negative judgment. It all depends upon their success in living the Christian life.
C. Paul’s presentation of himself to the saints (1:12-30)
(Phil 1:12 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;
The apostle faced much opposition but this did not distract him from fulfilling God’s call. Even in chains, the gospel was being preached and the message of Christ was spreading among the Gentiles. The Philippians were afraid that Paul was discouraged and that the gospel of Christ had gone awry. Paul was clarifying that it was on course.
(Phil 1:13 KJV) So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
The spreading of the gospel among the Gentiles came about because of the “palace guard”. This almost certainly applies to the Praetorian Guard, which consists of Roman soldiers. In accordance with Acts 28:30, Paul lived in his own rented quarters, but he was guarded by these Roman soldiers all the time. The Roman custom was for a soldier to be continuously chained at the wrist to Paul. This was tremendous opportunity for Paul to witness to each Roman soldier and to teach him the gospel of Christ. These Roman soldiers would then become witnesses to their friends and family. The attempt by the Roman authorities to silence the truth only brought about the furtherance of the gospel among the Gentiles, which was the purpose of Paul’s mission.
(Phil 1:14 KJV) And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Paul’s incarceration also had the effect of encouraging others to speak out boldly for Christ. Large numbers of believers began to speak out more boldly and more courageously for Christ.
(Phil 1:15 KJV) Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
Some preached Christ insincerely out of envy and rivalry, but some preached it sincerely and benevolently. We have this same situation today with churches competing for power and influence. The Laodicean church today preaches the gospel out of selfish ambition for power and money.
(Phil 1:16 KJV) The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
The ones preaching about Christ out of contention sought to do Paul harm and add affliction to him in his incarceration.
(Phil 1:17 KJV) But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
Others preached Christ in sincerity and truth out of love for the truth. These knew that Paul was appointed for the defense of the gospel of Christ.
(Phil 1:18 KJV) What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
Paul was glad that the gospel of Christ was preached, whether in pretense or in truth. It is a fact that many are saved during the preaching of the gospel by insincere Christians who do it out of selfish ambition.
(Phil 1:19 KJV) For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
Paul states that he perceives that this will result in his own salvation through the prayers of the Philippians and the supply of the Holy Spirit. Paul is addressing his own soul salvation coming as a result of the prayers of the Philippians and the filling of the Holy Spirit allowing Christ to live in him.
(Phil 1:20 KJV) 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.
Paul continues to state that he has an earnest expectation and hope that he will attain to soul salvation and not be ashamed for anything at the Judgment Seat of Christ. His earnest expectation is that Christ will be lived out in his body, whether he lives or dies.
(Phil 1:21 KJV) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Paul states that if he lives Christ will be lived out in his body, but if he dies he will profit from his death as a martyr for Christ. Paul is stating that he will profit either way, whether he lives or dies for Christ.
(Phil 1:22 KJV) But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
Paul states that if he lives on in his body, he will perform fruitful labor, but he is not able to choose what he prefers to do.
(Phil 1:23 KJV) For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
Paul has a strong desire to depart and be with the Lord, as this is far better than living on this earth.
(Phil 1:24 KJV) Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you
However, his presence upon the earth is necessary for the growth and maturity of the Philippian believers.
(Phil 1:25 KJV) And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
Paul states that he is confident that he will abide upon the earth and continue with the Philippian believers to help them in their progress or advancement in living the Christian life.
(Phil 1:26 KJV) That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
If Paul is able to go to them again, then they shall have more abundant rejoicing in Jesus Christ at the Judgement seat of Christ. Paul would like to go and be with the Lord, but he needs to stay and help the Philippian Christians in their maturity in the faith. The more maturity that occurs in this life, the more rejoicing there will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
(Phil 1:27 KJV) 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;
Paul cautions the Philippian Christians that whether he dies or is able to come and visit them, their manner of life (i.e., conversation) should be appropriate to the gospel of Christ. He desires that they be strong in the faith in one spirit striving together to be strong, faithful Christians.
(Phil 1:28 KJV) 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.
He cautions the Philippians not to be terrified by their adversaries. These adversaries are Christians that provide evidence of their destruction (i.e., perdition) at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but it will result in the salvation (i.e., soul salvation) on the part of the Philippians. Paul confirms that soul salvation also comes from God. It occurs when the Christian dies to self and allows God the Holy Spirit to control them.
(Phil 1:29 KJV) For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Paul confirms that the Philippian Christians are not merely Christians, but it has been given to them to suffer for Christ. This is confirmation of their favor with God and the receipt of their inheritance because of their faithfulness in suffering for Christ.
(Phil 1:30 KJV) Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
The conflict that Paul mentions here is the contest for winning the prize. Paul is stating that the Philippians are contenders for being the bride of Christ, just as they saw Paul contending for this prize. They are also hearing about Paul’s sufferings in chains for the purpose of winning the prize.
Suffering for Christ was not to be considered as accidental or as divine punishment. The suffering referred to by Paul was a sign of God's favor. Paul and his readers were suffering a similar struggle. They wanted to know how he was faring in Rome. He told them so they could be encouraged as they also faced hardships.
II. Examples for Living the Christian Life (2:1-30)
A. Mature Christians manifest the attitude of Christ (2:1-18)
1. The declaration (2:1-2)
(Phil 2:1 KJV) If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
Paul speaks of four graces from God: (a) encouragement from being united with Christ in his sufferings, (b) comfort from the love or agape of God in the midst of sufferings, (c) fellowship or partnership with the Holy Spirit in performing God’s work, and (d) tenderness and compassion for fellow believers in the same suffering.
Paul is stating that if these four graces are present in the readers of this message, then they will make Paul’s joy complete or fulfilled. This is stated in the following verse:
(Phil 2:2 KJV) Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
The NIV translates these verses as follows:
(Phil 2:1 NIV) If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
(Phil 2:2 NIV) then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
If the readers have the four graces described above, then they will make Paul’s joy abundant by being of the same mind as Paul. They will have the same agape or love of God, and they will be united in the same spirit and purpose as Paul. Paul is encouraging these Philippian Christians to go on into a maturity in the faith that is manifested by the life of Christ, the love of God, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the caring and mercy that God has for fellow Christians.
The mature Christian lives the life of Christ, loves the love of God, works in the power of the Holy Spirit, and loves and cares for his fellow Christians as God loves and cares for them. God ordains the suffering of a mature Christian. As stated in verse 29 above, God’s grace is associated with both believing on Christ and suffering for him.
The expression of spiritual unity among the Philippians would make Paul’s joy complete.
2. The Exhortations (2:3-4)
(Phil 2:3 KJV) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Paul exhorts the Philippians not to do anything through strife or selfish ambition (i.e., vainglory meaning empty glory). Work in the church out of strife or contention is of the flesh and not the Holy Spirit. Also, Christians that work hard to achieve fame and fortune on this earth are working out of selfish ambition. Paul exhorts the Philippians to work in “lowliness of mind” and to “esteem each other better than themselves.” It is true humility when a Christian esteems other Christians as better than himself. This attitude occurs when the Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit and walks close to God. Any Christian walking in the light sees his own flaws and weaknesses much better than he sees the flaws and weaknesses of his fellow Christians. Therefore, he will be filled with compassion and mercy for his fellow Christians going through the same trials and temptations.
(Phil 2:4 KJV) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
The NIV translates this verse as follows:
(Phil 2:4 NIV) Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Please note that Christians are to see after their own interests, but they are ALSO to look after the interests of others.
3. The Humiliation of Christ (2:5-8)
(Phil 2:5 KJV) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Christians are to have the mind of Christ. This means that we are to see things as Christ sees them. We are to have his attitude. This is not a haughty attitude looking down on our fellow Christians that falter, but an attitude of compassion and mercy on our fellow Christians in their failings.
(Phil 2:6 KJV) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
“Being in the form of God” means that Christ manifested God to us in the body of Jesus. Jesus was God in a body. Christ was the name of his divine nature and Jesus was the name of his human nature. The disciples were seeing and interacting with Jesus Christ, so they were seeing and interacting with God. Jesus Christ as God incarnate did not seize upon this reality and act selfishly with it. Most men can handle adversity but the true test of a man’s character is to give him power. Jesus passed this test with flying colors.
(Phil 2:7 KJV) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Instead, Jesus Christ humbled himself to be a servant of man. Becoming “in the likeness of men” means that Jesus Christ also had the human nature in addition to having God’s nature. This is the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ. He was both God and man, but he did not take upon himself the sin nature of man. This was accomplished by the virgin birth. The sin nature of man was passed down through the blood, and the father determined the blood of man. Since Jesus did not have a natural earthly father, the passage of the sin nature through the genes did not occur. Jesus was similar to Adam in that he did not have the sin nature as part of his human nature, but He was greater than Adam because of his divine nature.
(Phil 2:8 KJV) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
As a human being Jesus Christ humbled himself and became obedient to God the Father and died for us. He even died an ignominious death upon a cross, which was a sign of being cursed. Jesus Christ did not have the sin nature of man and he never committed the first sin, but he became sin for us. He suffered and paid the penalty for our sins even though he never sinned himself. This was true humility in its finest form and was voluntarily submitted to by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
4. The Exaltation of Christ (2:9-11)
(Phil 2:9 KJV) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
It was because of his willing decision to do this for us in obedience to the Father that Jesus Christ has now been exalted to the highest position in the universe. His name is above every name. This means that his position, power and authority is above every position, power and authority in the universe.
(Phil 2:10 KJV) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
The position, power and authority (i.e., name) of Jesus Christ is such that every person should bow and worship him. This includes everyone in heaven, everyone in the earth and everyone in Hades and Tartarus. Hades is the abode of the dead in the subterranean world beneath the surface of the earth. Tartarus is the pit or the abyss underneath Hades and is the place where many of the fallen angels are incarcerated until the time comes for them to be set free to torment mankind. This time of torment will take place during the trumpet judgments during the last half of the seven-year tribulation period.
(Phil 2:11 KJV) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Not only should every knee bow but also every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. The glory for bringing this about goes to God the Father, for He ordained all things and is bringing all to fulfillment.
5. The exhortations continued (2:12-18)
(Phil 2:12 KJV) 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.
Paul continues his exhortations to the Philippians with the encouragement to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” This is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted verses in the Bible. Numerous pastors have read this verse and promptly stated, “Now this does not mean that you need to work out your salvation.” The verse means exactly what it states, but it is not referring to spirit salvation. It is referring to the salvation of the soul, which must be worked out with fear and trembling. The verse even clarifies that this salvation is to be accomplished by the obedience of the Philippians to God. Soul salvation is by works of obedience to God. Soul salvation comes as a result of fearing God and keeping his commandments. This requires a study and application of the Word of God (i.e., the Bible). The following verse in James also clarifies this requirement for soul salvation:
(James 1:21 KJV) Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
The loss of the soul at the Judgment Seat of Christ is not eternal condemnation but the loss of rewards, position and honor in the millennial kingdom. It is a life wasted in the pursuit of earthly things under the power and control of the soulical nature (i.e., flesh nature).
(Phil 2:13 KJV) For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Paul clarifies that it is God who works in them so that they will voluntarily choose to serve God and please him. The choice to serve God and please him in this life is an act of the will. Every born-again Christian has the free will to choose whether or not he will serve the Lord. It is our life that will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and we will be judged on the choices that we make after we have been born again spiritually.
(Phil 2:14 KJV) Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
As Christians who have chosen to serve God, we are commanded by God to do all the things that we do without complaining and arguing. These are two bad habits of Christians, but we are to work and serve God without complaining about our lives or arguing about things.
(Phil 2:15 KJV) 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;
We are to work and serve God without complaining and arguing, so that we may be blameless and free from guile and deceit (i.e., harmless). If we live our lives in this manner, we can be children of God who are blameless, pure, and undefiled in the midst of the children of God who are froward and have strayed from the correct path. The Greek word translated “nation” is a reference to the Church as a whole. It refers to all the “begotten” children of God. The majority of the Church is froward (i.e., crooked) which means that they are stubbornly contrary and disobedient. They have also become “perverse”, and this means that they have strayed from the correct path. The Greek word, teknon, translated “sons” is more accurately translated as “children”. The blameless and harmless children (i.e., teknon) of God who will be without rebuke at the Judgment Seat of Christ will be adopted as “sons”, which is the Greek word huios. The presentation of the “sons of God” will be a special event in heaven after the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church. The following passage of Scripture explains which “children of God” will be adopted as “sons of God”:
(Rom 8:12 KJV) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
(Rom 8:13 KJV) For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
(Rom 8:14 KJV) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
(Rom 8:15 KJV) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
(Rom 8:16 KJV) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children (teknon) of God:
(Rom 8:17 KJV) And if children (teknon), then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
(Rom 8:18 KJV) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
(Rom 8:19 KJV) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons (huios) of God.
This passage very clearly states that all “brethren” that live according to their flesh natures shall die, but those “brethren” that crucify their flesh natures and “are led by the Spirit of God” shall be adopted as “sons” (i.e., huios) of God.
Verses 16 and 17 clearly state that we are all children (teknon) of God and this makes us heirs of God. However, we will only realize our inheritance (i.e., be joint-heirs with Christ) if we suffer with Christ. The purpose of our suffering is so we can realize our inheritance and be glorified with Christ in his coming kingdom.
Those Philippians and any members of the Church who are obedient to God shine as lights in the Church (i.e., world). The Greek word for world is the word kosmos and it is a reference to the whole Church. The Greek word for “nation” above refers to the begotten or family of God, and the Greek word for “world” refers to the Church. Most of the Church have strayed from the correct path and become disobedient, but the ones who have remained faithful serve as lights and salt in the Church to provide spiritual light and prevent further corruption.
NOTE: Verse 15 above distinguishes between faithful and unfaithful Christians and not between the saved and unsaved.
(Phil 2:16 KJV) 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.
Paul confirms the distinction by saying that these faithful Christians hold forth the “word of life”. Paul is exhorting the Philippians to remain faithful by “holding forth the word of life” so that he can rejoice in the day of Christ that he has not run in vain, nor labored in vain. Paul wants the Philippians to realize soul salvation and be manifested as “sons of God” so that his efforts will not have been in vain. Please understand that Paul will receive his reward for running and laboring, whether the Philippians remain faithful or not, but Paul wants them to also receive the reward of soul salvation and the adoption as sons of God.
The “word of life” is the teaching about soul salvation and the requirements for attaining it. The “day of Christ” is the time of the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church when all of the Church is in heaven around the throne praising and serving God. The “day of the Lord” will be taking place on the earth at the same time that the “day of Christ” will be taking place in heaven. The time for both is the same but one takes place in heaven while the other is taking place on the earth. The time for both is in the middle of the seven-year tribulation period immediately after the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church.
(Phil 2:17 KJV) Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
Paul knew that his death was a real possibility, and he viewed himself as being poured out like a drink offering on behalf of the Philippians. Also, the work or service of the Philippians was considered an act of worship. The Greek word for “be offered” refers to a drink offering being given as a sacrifice to God. Even though Paul thought his life was about to end in execution, he still rejoiced and wanted the Philippians to rejoice with him, as is seen in the following verse:
(Phil 2:18 KJV) For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
Paul wanted the Philippians to rejoice also because their service was considered an act of worship. God desires that all Christians make themselves a living sacrifice as described in the following passage of Scripture:
(Rom 12:1 KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
(Rom 12:2 KJV) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Many Christians are conformed to this world, and they are never transformed in this life by the renewing of the mind. If they are not transformed in this life, then God will transform them at the Judgment Seat of Christ and their lives will perish. This is the loss of the soul (i.e., life) at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
B. The servants of God & the manner of life the believer is to follow (2:19-30)
(Phil 2:19 KJV) 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.
The incarceration of Paul prevented him from visiting the Philippians, as stated in verse 12. Paul’s concern for the spiritual welfare of the Philippians caused him to send Timothy to minister to them in his place. This epistle was to be delivered by Epaphroditus with Timothy’s visit following. Paul was also looking forward to Timothy’s report about the condition of the Philippians.
(Phil 2:20 KJV) For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
Timothy was greatly interested in the welfare of the Philippians. There was no one else in Rome that cared for the Philippians as much as Paul, except for Timothy.
(Phil 2:21 KJV) For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.
Paul states that all the Christians that were associated with Paul in Rome—other than Timothy—were concerned with their own interests and not the interests of Christ. The Main Body of the Church today is primarily interested in their own interests in this world, rather than the coming kingdom of God. This is why the majority of Christians today have no interest in the Second Coming of Christ, and actually prefer that it not happen at this time.
(Phil 2:22 KJV) But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
Timothy served with Paul in the ministry of the Gospel as a child would naturally serve its father. This had already been demonstrated or proven at the writing of this epistle.
(Phil 2:23 KJV) Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
Paul hoped to send Timothy to the Philippians very soon, as soon as he found out what was going to happen to him. Paul was apparently awaiting a legal decision in his case.
(Phil 2:24 KJV) But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
Even though Paul was going to send Timothy either way, Paul was trusting in the Lord that he would be released so he could also visit the Philippians.
(Phil 2:25 KJV) 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.
Paul decided that it was necessary to go ahead and send this epistle with Epaphroditus to encourage the Philippians. Epaphroditus was a Christian, a co-laborer with Paul, an associate in Christian toil, a messenger or apostle of Paul and a minister to Paul. As a co-laborer he worked side-by-side with Paul. As an associate in Christian toil (i.e., fellowsoldier) he suffered the same kind of hardships and persecutions that Paul suffered. As an apostle of Paul he went out on missions for Paul. As a minister to Paul he attended to the wants and needs of Paul.
Epaphroditus was a common Greek name and means one that is favored by Aphrodite—goddess of love and beauty in the Greek. The Roman counterpart was Venus. This probably means that Epaphroditus was a very handsome and charming man.
(Phil 2:26 KJV) For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
Epaphroditus earnestly longed to be present with the Philippians, and he was greatly distressed or anguished because he knew the Philippians were distressed over his illness. This is real agape to be distressed over someone else’s emotions and feelings. It is one thing to be distressed over another person’s physical pain, but it is true agape to be distressed over another person’s mental and emotional pain. Epaphroditus was sick unto death, but he was more concerned over the emotional pain of the Philippians than he was over his own physical suffering. This is truly thinking of others and putting them ahead of one’s self. This is self-sacrifice and uncommon in the Church today.
(Phil 2:27 KJV) 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.
Epaphroditus almost died but God had mercy on him and preserved him from death. This also prevented much sorrow in Paul’s life over losing a faithful and trusted friend.
(Phil 2:28 KJV) I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
Paul sent Epaphroditus back to Philippi when he had recovered. Paul wanted Epaphroditus to return to minister to the Philippians. Paul apparently felt badly that Epaphroditus had gotten sick in his efforts to minister to Paul. Paul was very anxious over this state of affairs and he was relieved when Epaphroditus was returning to be with the Philippians.
(Phil 2:29 KJV) Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
Paul asked the Philippians to receive Epaphroditus cheerfully and to cherish him highly.
(Phil 2:30 KJV) Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
Epaphroditus risked his life to minister to Paul and to perform the services to Paul that the Philippians were unable to perform due to their separation.
III. Exhortations for Living the Mature Christian Life (3:1-21)
A. The necessity of the exchanged life for winning the prize
(Phil 3:1 KJV) Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
The word “finally” in this verse shows Paul was introducing a new subject. It also serves as a clue that Paul has begun to conclude his epistle. The things that Paul is about to tell them has been told them before, but Paul needed to tell them again for their safeguard. The word “rejoice” appears several times in this epistle, so the Philippians apparently needed this encouragement. It is easy for believers to allow circumstances discourage them, but the truth is that we have much to rejoice about in the Lord’s victory and our future inheritance. It is much easier for Christians to rejoice in the Lord when their focus is on the coming kingdom at the return of the Lord.
(Phil 3:2 KJV) Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
Metaphorically, a dog is an impudent man of impure mind. A dog is a man who lacks shame. A dog is a man who is offensively bold and impervious to disgrace. Paul is telling the Philippians to beware of those Christian teachers who are boldly deceptive. They are evil workers that put their confidence in the power of the flesh. They add works to grace as a requisite for spirit salvation. Paul is referring to the Judaizers who insisted that the physical act of circumcision was necessary for spirit salvation. Paul called them “the concision” or the mutilators.
We have the same dogs and evil workers in the Church today who insist that repentance is a prerequisite for spirit salvation. Repentance is a work that Christians are expected to do, but it is unnecessary for spirit salvation. We also have those dogs and evil workers who teach that water baptism is a necessity for spirit salvation. Water baptism is a physical act that serves as a sign that a Christian intends to die to self and allow Christ to live in him, but it is not a requirement for spirit salvation. The actual physical act of water baptism is not even a prerequisite for soul salvation, but the mindset that the physical act symbolizes is necessary for soul salvation. All born-again Christians are commanded to “repent and be baptized”. This means that all Christians are commanded to turn away from their life of sin, die to their old nature and allow the life of Christ to be lived out in their lives. The physical act of circumcision is similar in that it means the person is to “cut away” the old flesh nature and allow the new nature to blossom in one’s life.
Many Christians who have gone through water baptism still live in accordance with their old flesh natures. Also, many physically circumcised Christians still live in accordance with their old flesh natures. Paul explains the meaning of true circumcision in the following verse:
(Phil 3:3 KJV) For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Paul states that Christians that worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in their flesh natures are the ones who are truly circumcised. Only Christians that have crucified their old flesh natures can worship God in the spirit. Similarly, the Holy Spirit leads only Christians that rejoice in Christ Jesus in spite of their circumstances. In addition, only Christians that realize the utter worthlessness of the old flesh nature are willing to lose their souls for Christ. It is necessary for a Christian to lose his soul for the sake of Christ in order to save his soul at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
(Mat 16:24 KJV) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
(Mat 16:25 KJV) For whosoever will save his life (i.e., soul) shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life (i.e., soul) for my sake shall find it.
(Mat 16:26 KJV) For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
(Mat 16:27 KJV) For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
NOTE: Verse 27 confirms that soul salvation is a work of faith that will be rewarded as a work. Verse 24 confirms that the requirement is to kill the old nature and live like Christ.
Water baptism is the New Testament pictorial of losing one’s soul for the sake of Christ. Circumcision is the Old Testament pictorial of the same thing. Both portray the mindset of dying to the old flesh nature and allowing the nature of Christ to live in us. This mindset is a lifelong work of faith that must be continued until death or rapture in order to realize the salvation of one’s soul at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Jesus Christ was the first to expound clearly on this, but it was alluded to many times in the Old Testament.
(Phil 3:4 KJV) Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Paul emphasizes the utter worthlessness of having confidence in the old nature (i.e., the flesh). He uses himself as an example of someone who might mistakenly have confidence in the old flesh nature. Paul is stating that if anyone had a right to have confidence in the flesh nature, then he would be the one. He is using himself as an example for not having confidence in the old flesh nature.
(Phil 3:5 KJV) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
Paul emphasizes the reasons why he would be able to have confidence in the flesh, if it were a legitimate pursuit. He was circumcised the eighth day in accordance with the Jewish law. He was a pure offspring of Jewish parents, and out of the tribe of Benjamin, which are direct descendants of Abraham through Jacob and Rachael. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. This means that he followed the letter of the law to the extreme and in his meticulous following of the Jewish law he was a Pharisee. These were the very conservative Jews that went through all the motions of religiosity.
(Phil 3:6 KJV) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Paul was a zealous Jew, persecuted the Church, and was faultless in following the legalistic righteousness demanded by the law.
(Phil 3:7 KJV) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Paul finally realized that all of these works of the flesh were worthless and he forsook them all to follow Christ.
(Phil 3:8 KJV) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Paul considered everything that he did in the power of his old nature as worthless as manure. This is a very strong statement against legalistic righteousness. Many Christians do not understand that Paul is comparing the legalistic righteousness of the Jews with the practical righteousness that comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is not comparing the legalistic righteousness of the Judaizers to the imputed righteousness that we receive when we believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins. Every Christian has this imputed righteousness, but every Christian does not have this practical righteousness. This practical righteousness comes through the crucifying of the old nature, while allowing the new nature to perform righteous acts in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul was seeking to “win Christ”, which means that he was seeking to be the bride of Christ. This happens through a “knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord”. The knowledge that Paul is addressing is the moral wisdom that comes through right living. It is the deeper, maturer knowledge of things lawful and unlawful for Christians. Paul explains the process in winning Christ in the following verses:
NOTE: Paul is talking about a righteousness that he was seeking, and not a righteousness that he already possessed. Paul already possessed the imputed righteousness of Christ, but he was still seeking the practical righteousness of Christ. In verse 12 below Paul states that he does not consider himself to have already attained this goal. It is very important for the reader to understand the difference between legalistic righteousness, imputed righteousness and practical righteousness. Please read my dissertation The Sermon on the Mount for an in depth look at the differences.
(Phil 3:9 KJV) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Paul is not seeking to have a righteousness that comes through keeping the Law of Moses, which is observing the rituals laid down by Moses to the Jewish people. Paul seeks to be “found in him” and to have a righteousness that comes through fidelity or faithfulness to Christ. This is the righteousness of God addressed in the following verse, and the righteousness that all Christians should seek, after having already received the imputed righteousness of Christ.
(Mat 6:33 KJV) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Practical righteousness involves the integrity, virtue, purity of life and the correctness of thinking, feeling and acting that comes through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. These are all works that come from the filling or control of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. They are works of faith that come from God the Holy Spirit and not from ourselves. Yet, they are still works or deeds of righteousness that the Christian practices in his daily walk with God while filled or controlled by the Holy Spirit.
(Phil 3:10 KJV) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Paul is seeking to know Christ, “and the power of his resurrection”. The word for “know” is the Greek word ginosko and refers to experiential knowledge of Christ that comes through studying his Word and getting to know him intimately. Most Christians do not have an experiential knowledge of Christ because they have not studied his Word.
Paul also wants to experience the power of the resurrection of Christ. This means that he wants to experience the life of Christ in his life. Paul desires to live the life of Christ. This means that he must also experience the sufferings of Christ. The faithful Christian must take up his cross daily and experience the suffering that Christ suffered. The faithful Christian must experience the death of the old self. This is the meaning of “being made conformable unto his death.” Paul greatly desires to experience the sufferings of Christ and die to his old flesh nature, and he gives the reason for this in the following verse:
(Phil 3:11 KJV) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
The Greek word for resurrection in verse 11 is exanastasis while the Greek word for resurrection in verse 10 is anastasis. Both are talking about a literal resurrection from the dead. Verse 10 refers to the resurrection of Jesus, but verse 11 is referring to a special resurrection or out-resurrection from among fellow Christians. It is a literal resurrection, and it is "attained" by good works. All Christians will be resurrected from the dead whether they have good works or not, but Paul wants to attain to this special resurrection that he calls the out-resurrection. It is a violation of basic principles of Bible study to say that this out-resurrection is figurative, and that it takes place at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The context leaves no doubt that Paul is talking about a literal resurrection, and this resurrection can only be attained by great effort.
This out-resurrection that Paul is seeking will take place at the time of the Firstfruits Rapture of the Church. It is a time when faithful Christians that have died before the Firstfruits Rapture will be resurrected out from among their fellow Christians that have not been faithful to the Lord. Please read my dissertation on The Separation for an in depth look at this out-resurrection of faithful Christians.
The following verse confirms this is a goal that Paul would not dare assume he had already attained:
(Phil 3:12 KJV) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
This verse also confirms the requirement for attaining to or laying hold onto this out-resurrection. The Christian that attains to the out-resurrection must be “perfect”. The Greek word for “perfect” is teleioo (tel-i-o’-o) and refers to completeness or maturity as a Christian. It refers to a level of maturity in the Christian faith that only Christ is capable of judging. This level of Christian maturity is different for every Christian, for Christ will consider everything in this judgment. This individual and tailored judgment by Jesus is possible because Jesus Christ is omniscient. He knows everything about us individually. He knows our weaknesses, our strengths, our opportunities, our obstacles and our sincerity and efforts expended in being faithful to him. The Christian who has exerted no effort in living the Christian life will almost certainly be “cut asunder” or separated at the time of the Firstfruits Rapture. This means that unfaithful dead Christians will be left in the ground, and unfaithful living Christians will be left upon the earth to go through the first half of the tribulation period.
Paul was striving to attain to that for which Christ had established for him. This goal that Paul was striving for is to be the bride of Christ. This is the highest level of reward in the kingdom, and it requires faithfulness to the Lord to achieve this goal. Most Christians today automatically assume that they are the bride of Christ, but even Paul did not assume to have attained this great honor.
(Phil 3:13 KJV) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Paul was most likely a spiritual giant in the eyes of the Philippians, yet he wanted them to know that he had not reached the final stage of his sanctification. He had not yet accounted himself as worthy of the out-resurrection. He was still striving for spiritual maturity in the faith. If Paul had not yet accounted himself as worthy of the out-resurrection, then no Christian should presume himself as worthy of this great honor. We should never cease striving to be among the Firstfruits Christians. There is a level of maturity for this honor that only Christ can judge, as stated above. Much is expected of the Christian who has been given much.
(Phil 3:14 KJV) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul reiterates that he is striving for the prize of the high calling of God, which is to be the bride of Christ Jesus or “win Christ”. The bride of Christ will be the highest level of reigning and ruling by Church members in the kingdom of heaven. It is true that all members of the Church have been espoused or betrothed to Jesus Christ, but many will not measure up in their faithfulness to Jesus Christ during the Church age. All members of the Church will be in heaven, but not all members will be awarded the grand prize of the high calling of God—to be presented as the bride of Christ. Please read The Bride of Christ and my article on The New Jerusalem—Figure for the Church of God for a more detailed discussion on the bride of Christ, her identity and her role in the New Jerusalem.
The following Scripture passage confirms that not all the Church will be the bride of Christ:
(2 Cor 11:1 KJV) Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.
(2 Cor 11:2 KJV) For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
(2 Cor 11:3 KJV) But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
The Corinthians were a carnal group of Christians, and Paul was very doubtful that they would remain faithful in their espousal to Jesus Christ. Just as Joseph was planning to put away or divorce Mary when he thought she had been unfaithful, Jesus Christ is going to put away or divorce those Christians who are unfaithful in their betrothal to him. The separation (i.e., cut asunder) or Firstfruits Rapture is the divorcement that will take place. Please read my dissertation on The Separation for a more detailed look at the divorcement that will take place.
B. Mature Christians strive to be the bride of Christ (3:15-21)
(Phil 3:15 KJV) Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Paul exhorts and urges mature Christians that this should also be the focus of their minds. The NIV translates this verse as follows:
(Phil 3:15 NIV) All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
Those Christians who think the whole Church is going to be the bride of Christ are going to be in for a rude awakening at the Firstfruits Rapture. As seen above, Paul was striving with his whole being to be among the out-resurrection, which is the separation between faithful and unfaithful Christians who have died before the Firstfruits Rapture takes place. Faithful Christians will be resurrected out from among the unfaithful Christians at the out-resurrection.
(Phil 3:16 KJV) Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
Paul states that they should strive for this high calling of God regardless of the level of maturity that has been achieved. Jesus Christ will be the Judge of those who have attained to the Firstfruits Rapture, and only He knows the level for each person. Each Christian will be judged based on his length of time as a Christian, circumstances, opportunities, obstacles, strengths, and virtually every thing that that Christian has experienced. Only Jesus Christ knows who will be accounted worthy for the out-resurrection. To be the bride of Christ is the “blessed hope” and all Christians should be striving for the Blessed Hope, which is to “win Christ” (3:8). Jesus Christ is The Blessed Hope, and it is a hope and not a certainty.
This verse states that all Christians should be striving for the Blessed Hope, regardless of their maturity level. Many recent Christians with lesser maturity levels will be accounted as worthy for the Firstfruits Rapture, if they have greatly improved in their Christian walk. Those of us who have had many years for Christian maturity will have much more required of us. Those of us who have been given much will have more required of us. This is why even Paul did not presume himself as worthy for the prize of the high calling of God. This is why none of us should presume ourselves as worthy of the prize of the high calling of God.
(Phil 3:17 KJV) Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
Paul urges the Philippians to follow him as an example and others that are striving for the same goal of the prize of the high calling of God.
(Phil 3:18 KJV) (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
As Paul is urging the Philippians to strive after the high calling of God, he warns them that many Christians are walking or living their Christian lives as enemies of the cross of Christ. Paul is greatly saddened by this fact that Christians are living as the enemies of the cross of Christ. In the current Laodicean church age, many Christians are living as enemies of the cross of Christ..
Unfortunately, many Christians automatically assume that Paul is speaking of spiritually unsaved people—even though the distinction is between mature and immature Christians.
(Phil 3:19 KJV) Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
The end of these Christians who are living as enemies of the cross of Christ is destruction or perdition. This destruction will take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ when the souls or lives of these Christians are adjudged as a total waste. This is the loss of the soul at the Judgment Seat of Christ and only pertains to Christians.
The NASB translates this verse as follows:
(Phil 3:19 NASB) whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
The god or idol of these Christians is the things that they seek. Their idol is the things that they have an appetite for, and this is described as earthly things. The clause “whose glory is in their shame” means that these Christians consider their assets or prize-worthy things to be those things that will actually be to their shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ. For example, the Laodicean church today considers material wealth as a sign of God’s favor towards them. It will be to their shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is seen in the following verse:
(Rev 3:17 KJV) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
These Christians who will be destroyed at the Judgment Seat of Christ “set their minds on earthly things”. They are caught up in worldly things and their god is their appetite for worldly treasures. They are not longing for the return of the Lord to set up his kingdom, and they are not seeking after the high prize of his calling. They are seeking after wealth, honor and status in the current earthly kingdom with Satan as the king. This contrast is seen in the following verse:
(Phil 3:20 KJV) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Paul states that the citizenship (i.e., conversation) of mature Christians is in heaven. The mature Christian has the coming kingdom of heaven as his focus, and the mature Christian is watching for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to set up his kingdom on the earth. The mature Christian has his focus on heaven rather than earth.
(Phil 3:21 KJV) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
When Jesus Christ returns to set up his kingdom, all Christians will receive a new glorified body, and this body will be similar to the one that Jesus Christ received when He was resurrected. Some Christians will receive more glory and their glorified body “may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” This means that some Christians will share the magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity and grace that Jesus Christ possesses. However, not all Christians will share in the highly exalted state that Jesus Christ will exhibit. All Christians will receive glorified bodies, but some will receive much more glory than others. This higher glory will be manifest to all present in heaven. This is the reason for the conditional clause “may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” The bodies of some Christians will shine with great glory, but many will shine with lesser glory. All Christians shall be conformed to the image of Christ, but some will shine much more than others will. Some Christians will be very plain in comparison to the bride of Christ. A good analogy is the bride and her bridesmaids. The bride outshines them all in her beautiful white bridal gown. The bridesmaids are beautiful in their colorful dresses, but they pale in comparison to the bride. The family members are also decked out in their fine clothing, but they also pale in comparison to the bridesmaids.
IV. Final Exhortations for Maturity in the Faith (4:1-23)
Paul’s love for the Philippians is evident throughout this letter, but it is highly evident in this final chapter. One of Paul’s chief concerns was that the fruit of the Spirit would characterize the Philippians. Love, joy and peace were primary in Paul’s mind for the Philippians. Christ must be the center of a believer’s life in order for these graces to be manifest.
(Phil 4:1 KJV) Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
In this verse Paul expresses his great love for this congregation of believers, and he provides a general plea for unity and steadfastness. Paul calls them his dearly beloved and longed for brethren. He also calls them his joy and crown and exhorts them to stand fast or remain faithful to the Lord. The crown of joy is the crown of rejoicing, which is one of the five crowns addressed in the Bible. The crown of rejoicing is on the same level as the crown of glory, and is won by being a soul winner. Souls are won by witnessing to other Christians. This is why Paul describes the Philippians as his joy and crown. Please read The Five Crowns for an in depth discussion of the five crowns that may be won by faithful service to the Lord.
(Phil 4:2 KJV) I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
Two women were apparently not living up to their names. Euodias means a “prosperous journey” and Syntyche means “a pleasant acquaintance.” In pleading with these women to agree with each other in the Lord, Paul infers that they were causing dissension in the assembly. This confirms Paul’s plea for unity in verse 1.
(Phil 4:3 KJV) And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Paul also refers to one individual he calls “true yokefellow” to help these women in seeking a unity in the faith. The Greek word for “yokefellow” is also the proper name Zyzygus and seems to be the meaning in this verse. He alludes to the fact that Euodias and Syntyche had been laborers in the gospel along with a man named Clement, and with other “fellowlabourers”. Paul mentions that their names are in the book of life.
The book of Life contains the names of all Christians, and represents that all Christians may win the crown of Life. If a Christian fails to be an overcomer in his walk with the Lord, then his name will be blotted out of the book of life. The book of life pertains to soul salvation and not spirit salvation. Unfortunately, many Christians will have their names blotted out of the book of life when they appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Overcoming Christians will not have their names blotted out of the book of life.
Paul is reminding these believers that their names are in the book of life, and he is making the point that works (i.e., being a fellow laborer) is necessary for the name to remain in the book of life. Christians whose names remain in the book of life are those who overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. Jesus warns Sardis church members in the following verse about the possibility of having their names blotted out of the book of life:
(Rev 3:4 KJV) Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
(Rev 3:5 KJV) He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
(Phil 4:4 KJV) Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Paul exhorts the Philippians to “rejoice in the Lord alway” and he repeats it. The meaning is for them to be well and to thrive in their Christian walk. The only way for them to do this is “in the Lord”. They are to thrive and have inner joy in the face of external circumstances such as persecution, imprisonment and the threat of death.
(Phil 4:5 KJV) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Paul encourages them to let their gentleness (i.e., moderation) be known to all men. This suggests a forbearing, nonretaliatory spirit. Joy is an inner quality in relation to circumstances, and may not always be seen, but the way one reacts to others—whether harsh or gentle—can be observed. Paul is telling the Philippians to allow their rejoicing (vs. 4) to be seen by everyone in the manner in which they react to their circumstances.
“The Lord is at hand” refers to the Second Coming to set up the kingdom. Paul stated this since they were still in the 40-year testing of the Jews, and it was conceivable that the Lord could return to set up his kingdom. The end of the 40-year period ended about 8 years after this epistle was written, and the Diaspora took place with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Jesus stated that the “kingdom was at hand” in his 3-1/2 year ministry to the Jews. The requirement was that the nation of Israel repent and be baptized. We know that this did not happen then, and it did not happen during the 40 years that the kingdom remained open to Israel. The 40-year period ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Roman General Titus. Paul was reminding the Philippians that the return of Jesus was a distinct possibility at that time.
If Jesus had returned at that time, then the kingdom of heaven would have been given to the Jews. Of course, we know now that this was not in God’s plan, so it did not happen.
(Phil 4:6 KJV) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Paul exhorts the Philippians to be anxious for nothing. To “be careful” means to be anxious or troubled with cares. Instead of being loaded down with the cares of this world, the Philippians were to pray about everything and to make their petitions known to God. It is actually a sin to worry and be anxious, since we are to put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. We are to entrust our spiritual well being unto Jesus Christ. This is the meaning of the clause “believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Christians are commanded to entrust our spiritual well being unto his power and authority.
(1 John 3:23 KJV) And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
(1 John 3:24 KJV) And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
(Phil 4:7 KJV) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
If we pray and petition God to help us in our Christian walk, then we can have the peace of God, which is beyond our understanding. This peace of God will overwhelm our hearts and minds and maintain us through the power and authority of Christ Jesus. The peace of God is not the bubbly, giddy happiness that many Christians mistake for peace and joy, but it is the inner peace and confidence that God will complete every promise that he has made to us. It is the Laodicean church that exhibits the frothy, giddy, showy Christianity that is nothing but pretense and false piety. It is the Philadelphia church that suffers in quiet with the peace and calmness of God, knowing that Jesus Christ will judge all things in truth and sincerity. The frothy, giddy, showy Christianity will be shown to be nothing but wood, hay and stubble.
(Phil 4:8 KJV) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Paul tells the Philippians about the things upon which they should meditate He is talking about being a “doer” of the Word of God and not just a “hearer”. The things that are honest are the things that will not deserve a rebuke at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The just things are things that are right or equitable. They are the things that fall under the category of relative righteousness, and they are fair and impartial. Pure things are things that are pure of carnality. They are chaste and clean. The lovely things are things that are acceptable to our brothers in Christ who are walking in the Spirit. They are things that reflect brotherly (i.e., phileo) love. Things of good report are reputable things. They are things that are known among Christians to be the right behavior. These may be things that are not really sin, but are perceived as wrong by other Christians. Christians should avoid things that even appear to be wrong. Christians should avoid even the appearance of evil.
Things of virtue are things of moral excellence. This includes all things that we do in our lives that are morally right. The list is in the thousands or even millions of righteous acts and acts of restraint. It includes every act or behavior that does not grieve or quench the Holy Spirit.
Things worthy of praise are the proactive things that Christians do that are deserving of commendation or approbation.
The phrase “think on these things” is used metaphorically and means that the Philippians are to actually have these things passed over to their account. This means that they are to do more than just think on these things. They are to act on these thoughts to the point that these things are actually credited to their account for the Judgment Seat of Christ.
(Phil 4:9 KJV) Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Paul continues the thought in using himself as an example for them to follow. Paul emphasizes that the Philippians have already learned these things from Paul, accepted these things from Paul as true, heard or believe these things from Paul as being true, and they have seen Paul doing these things. Therefore, they SHOULD DO these very same things. Paul is telling them not to be just hearers of the Word, but they should be doers of the Word. A hearer is one who hears, understands and believes something true, but he does not take action on this truth. A doer is someone who hears, understands, believes and acts in accordance with what he knows to be true in regard to the Word of God. Numerous Christians are hearers of the Word but not doers of the Word. A hearer is saved spiritually, but a doer is effecting the salvation of his soul. The doers are the ones that will realize soul salvation at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
If the Philippians DO these same things that Paul is doing, “the God of peace shall be with you”. This means that their Christian life will be marked by a tranquil state of mind marked by harmony and concord—even when life’s circumstances are everything but tranquil and harmonious. The Christian who is a doer of the Word of God does not have his tranquility upset by the circumstances of life. He goes through the trials and tribulations of life in a tranquil state of mind. He is filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in spite of life’s circumstances. The doer of the Word of God exudes the fruit of the Spirit in spite of his circumstances.
(Phil 4:10 KJV) But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Paul says that he is rejoicing that the Philippians once again have an opportunity to show their care and concern for Paul. We must remember that Paul is under house arrest with the potential for being executed, and the Philippians are taking care of him economically with their gifts, and spiritually through intercessory prayer. Paul is rejoicing that the Philippians are being doers of the Word of God in this grand opportunity that has been provided for them.
(Phil 4:11 KJV) Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Paul makes it clear that his rejoicing is not because of his need—even though a real need—but because of the reward that the Philippians are accruing to their account. Paul iterates that he has learned to be content “in whatsoever state I am”. This confirms that the “peace of God” is with Paul in his dire circumstances. A Christian who can have peace and contentment while incarcerated and looking at possible execution certainly has the “peace of God”.
(Phil 4:12 KJV) I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Paul continues by stating that he has learned how to be content with being in a low position or in a high position. He knows how to be content when he has plenty to eat and little to eat. He knows how to be content when he has no needs and when he has many needs.
(Phil 4:13 KJV) I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Paul sums up his ability to be content in all things to Jesus Christ, who provides the strength for him to do these things.
(Phil 4:14 KJV) Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
Paul commends the Philippians for their well-doing and comments that they were partakers (i.e., communicate) with his afflictions. This means that they shared his afflictions with him. The Philippians vicariously suffered with Paul. We can probably understand this better if we have been parents or grandparents attending to sick children. We suffer right along with our children or grandchildren when they are sick or are enduring hardship. This is the unconditional love that defines agape.
(Phil 4:15 KJV) Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
Paul again commends the Philippians for their generosity in providing economic help to him. In the beginning of their Christian experience (Acts 16) when Paul left Macedonia, they were the only ones that shared with Paul.
(Phil 4:16 KJV) For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
Also, when Paul was on his second missionary journey in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1) and was in need, the Philippians sent aid to him two times.
(Phil 4:17 KJV) Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
Paul confirms that his joy was not because his needs were met, but because the Philippians were bearing fruit that would accrue to their credit at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Others were always uppermost in Paul’s mind.
(Phil 4:18 KJV) But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
Paul lets the Philippians know that he is no longer in need because of their gifts. He tells them that he is amply supplied with the necessities, and that their gifts were acceptable as a sacrifice and well-pleasing to God.
(Phil 4:19 KJV) But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Paul tells the Philippians that God will also supply all of their needs in accordance with the glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Since the Philippians met the needs of Paul, God would reciprocate and meet their needs. It is a spiritual principal that the Christian who gives generously of his means will always have his needs met abundantly. God would not only meet their needs out of his bounty, but also in accordance with it.
(Phil 4:20 KJV) Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
In concluding the epistle Paul gives praise to God who is their Father.
(Phil 4:21 KJV) Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.
Paul concludes by sending final greetings to every Christian in Philippi from the brethren in Rome.
(Phil 4:22 KJV) All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.
A salute is an expression of good will or respect from the Christians in Rome and chiefly those Christians of Caesar’s household. These Christians had most likely come to Christ as a result of Paul’s house arrest through the soldiers chained to him.
(Phil 4:23 KJV) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
In accordance with Paul’s usual practice, he gave prominence to the marvelous grace of Jesus Christ in his conclusion.