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Great Message from Philippians 2: The Mind of Christ by Charles Lawson
PAUL AND EPHESUS
NOTE. For more details see, McGee, Philippians. This study is taken from that book with significant modifications mainly dealing with organization and method aligned to Bible principle and teaching. The study is also available online in audio at: Philippians.
DATE. A.D. 64 is the commonly received date.
Four men left Rome in A.D. 62 bound for Turkey. These men had four of the most sublime compositions of the Christian faith. When these men bade farewell to the Apostle Paul, each was given an epistle to bear to his particular constituency. These four letters are in the Word of God, and they are designated the “Prison Epistles of Paul,” since he wrote them while he was imprisoned in Rome. He was awaiting a hearing before Caesar Nero. The four men and their respective places of abode were: (1) Epaphroditus from Philippi who had the Epistle to the Philippinans (Philippians 4.18). (2) Tychicus from Ephesus who had the Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6.21). (3) Epaphras from Colosse who had the Epistile to the Colossians (Colossians 4.12). (4) Onesimus, a runaway slave from Colosse, who had the Epistle to Philemon, his master (Philemon 10).
These epistles present a composite picture of Christ, the church, the Christian life, and the interrelationship and functioning of all. These different facets present the Chritian life on the highest plane.
The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians was written to the believers in Europe in the city of Philippi. Paul had a wonderful relationship with the Philippian church. This church was closer to Paul than to any other church. Their mutual love is mirrored in this epistle. It deals with Christian experience at the level on which all believers should be living.
Paul visited Philippi on his second missionary journey. Paul had taken Barnabas with him on his first missionary journey. Paul took Silas with him on his second missionary journey. They retraced Paul’s steps into Galatian country, visiting the churches they had established in the first missionary journey.
The Spirit of God put a roadblock on Paul’s attempt to go south, so he went north, to where Turkey is today, but when “they assayed to go into Bithynia . . . the Spirit suffered them not” (Ac. 16.7). He can’t go south or north, he has come from the east, so there is but one direction to go. He went west as far as Troas. To go further, he would have to go by boat. He was waiting for instructions from God. Sometimes we feel God must lead us immediately, but He can let us wait, let us cool our heels. Finally Paul was given the vision of the man of Macedonia, recorded in Ac. 16.9, 10. Paul & his companions boarded the ship which took them to Europe. His first stop was Philippi. There he met Lydia, a seller of purple. See Ac. 16.13-15. She was saved and baptized. She besought them to stay at her house.
Lydia was the man in Macedonia. She was holding a prayer meeting down by the river, which probably had a lot to do with bringing Paul to Europe. That was the greatest crossing that ever took place. Lydia was the first convert in Europe.
Lydia was a member of the Philippian church to which Paul wrote this epistle. Anoterh member was a girl who was delivered from demon possession (Ac. 16.16-18).
And the Philippian jailer and his family were members of this church (See Ac. 16.30-34). All the members were very close to the Apostle Paul. They followed him in his journeys and ministered to him time and time again. The lost sight of him 2 years after his arrest in Jerusalem. They finally heard he was in a Roman prison. They immediately dispatched their pastor, Epaphroditus, with a gift that would minister to Paul’s needs.
So Paul wrote this epistle to thank the church and express his love for them. He had no doctrine to correct as in his letter to the Galatians. Neither did he have to correct their conduct as in his epistle to the Corinthians. There was only one small ripple in the fellowship of the church between tow women, Euodias and Syntyche, and Paul gives them a word of admonishment near the end of his letter. He didn’t seem to treat it as being serious.
His letter to the Philippian believers is the great epistle of Christian experience. that is his subject in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians.
I. PHILOSOPHY OF CHRISTIAN LIVING, Chapter 1
1. Introduction, verses 1, 2
2. Paul’s Tender Feeling for the Philippians, 3-11
3. Bonds and Afflictions Further the Gospel, 12-20
4. In Life or Death—Christ, 21-30
II. PATTERN FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING, Chapter 2
1. Others, 1-4
2 Mind of Christ—Humble, 5-8
3. Mind of God—Exaltation of Christ, 9-11
4. Mind of Paul—Things of Christ, 12-18
5. Mind of Timothy—Like-minded with Paul, 19-24
6. Mind of Epaphroditus—the Word of Christ, 25-20
III. PRIZE FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING, Chapter 3
1. Paul Changed His Bookkeeping System of the Past, 1-9
2. Paul Changed His Purpose for the Present, 10-19
3. Paul Changed His Hope for the Future, 20, 21
II. POWER FOR CHRISTIAN LIVING, Chapter 4
1. Joy—the Source of Power, 1-4
2. Prayer—the Secret of Power, 5-7
3. Contemplation of Christ—the Sanctuary of Power, 8, 9
4. In Christ—the Satisfaction of Power, 10-23
The Philosophy of Christian Living
As we study this letter, we will not be seated in the heavenlies as in Ephesians. Philippians is practical. We will be down where the rubber meets the road.
Introduction (vv1, 2)
v1 Paul associated Timothy with himself. Paul is encouraging Timothy. Paul loved Timothy. He was Paul’s son in the Lord—he won him to Christ—and he was very interested in him. Paul is constantly identifying certain young preachers with himself.
Paul identifies himself and Timothy as servants of Jesus Christ; this contrasts with Galatians and Corinthians where Paul began with, “Paul, an apostle.” The Philippians loved him and accepted his apostleship. So Paul takes a humble place, his rightful position.
“To all the saints….” Paul is not writing to one little clique. Every believer is a saint. There are 2 groups in the human race: the saints and the ain’ts. Saints are believers in Christ. They are saints, not because of their conduct, but because of their position in Christ. “Saint” means holy, set apart for God.
The saints are “in Christ Jesus.” You are put in Christ by the Holy Spirit who baptizes you into the family of God.
Salvation is to be in Christ. You get in Christ when you accept Him as your Saviour.
“With the bishops and deacons.” “Bishop” means “overseer or shepherd; it refers to the office. “Deacons” refers to spiritual men who are performing an earthly service (Ac. 6).
v2 Peace always follows grace. There is a peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Ro. 5.1). The grace and peace are “from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit was already there in Philippi, indwelling the believers.
PAUL’S TENDER FEELING FOR THE PHILLIPPIANS (vv3-11)
v3 All believers should have this tender relationship.
v4 Always in prayer for them and making “request with joy.” “For you all.” He is speaking to all the saints, the whole body of believers. He was in Roman prison, but he makes his request with joy! The word joy is used 19 times in this epistle. The name of Jesus Christ appears over 40 times in this epistle. Christ is the center of the epistle. The emphasis should be on Christ rather than upon joy. The philosophy of Christian living has to do with Christ; the pattern has to do with Him. The price of Christian living has to do with Him, and the power has to do with Him. It is a personal relationship with Christ that brings joy to a believer’s life.
We try to produce joy in a church by external means. We have programs and invite people to enjoy them. We have a banquet. Actually, joy does not depend on outward circumstances. Real joy depends on the inward condition of the individual. You may have a little fun at a church banquet, but that will not be joy. When a believer gets to the place where he finds himself in the center of the will of God and know he is in His will regardless of circumstances, then there will be joy in our lives.
Paul said, “As I am here in jail, it is a lot of fun to pray for you Philippians; it brings joy to my heart.” Now, having told them he thanked God for them, he gives a reason.
v5 “For your fellowship in the gospel.” Fellowship means that which believers can share in the things of Christ. There are three elements which must enter into it: spiritual communication (sharing the things of Christ), sympathetic cooperation (working together for Christ), and sweet communion (this makes us partners with Christ).
“From the First day until now.” From the day Paul met Lydia til now!
v6 “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.” The Holy Spirit has sealed you and me until the day of redemption. In the meantime, Ep. 4:30 “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
v7 “Meet” is an old Elizabethan word that means “right.” “Because I have you in my heart.” “Partakers of my grace.” Paul is saying that he and the Philippians are all wrapped up together as partners in the gospel.
Paul was closer to the church at Philippi than to any other church. With a church like this, there is that sympathetic cooperation, besides spiritual communication, and it always produces sweet communion.
v8 “Bowels” really means tender feelings. Paul says he longs for them in the tender feelings of Jesus Christ. Very little takes place in the head. Paul’s reaction is not mental but emotional.
v9 Paul prays that “Your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment [or discernment]. We are to love all believers in Christ. Some believers are a little difficult to love. We are to love the unlovely, but we are to love with knowledge and with discernment.
v10 When Paul says “That ye may approve things that are excellent,” he means that you need to try the things that differ. That has to do, according to Dr. McGee, with the Lord’s will for your life. There are times when there are two or more routes that we could go. There are times we do not know which route to go. The Lord will not send an angel to tell us, nor will he turn on red or green lights to give us signals. He expects us to use a little consecrated and concentrated gumption. Try the things that differ.
“That ye may be sincere.” Paul is saying, “Don’t be a phony. Be real, be genuine, be sincere.”
“Without offense,” means blameless. Just make sure that the bad things people say about you are not true. “Till the day of Christ.”
v11 The “fruits of righteousness” are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. See Ga. 5.22, 23.
BONDS AND AFFLICTIONS FURTHER THE GOSPEL (vv12-20)
v12 Paul says that the Gospel is going out and that they things that have happened to him have not curtailed but have actually furthered the gospel. Now he will make clear what he means by this.
Paul was chained to a member of the Praetorian Guard, and these members where the Roman patricians, members of Caesar’s household. See Ac. 28.16. The Lord said Paul would “bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Ac. 9.15). Until this point, Paul had taken the gospel to largely the common, vegetable variety of citizens in the Roman Empire. Now he has members of the royalty chained to him. What do you think Paul talked about? Many of the royalty did come to know Christ and Tertullian wrote that the Roman government killed many of those in authority when they were found to be Christians. Here Paul reveals that his imprisonment enabled him to reach into Caesar’s household with the Gospel.
v14 Many brethren became emboldened to preach the gospel without fear by Paul’s example.
v15 Some preached Christ of envy and strife. If you will exercise your gift in love, you will not envy someone else. The believer is warned against strife and envy. “Strife means to stir up, referring to demons. Demons stir up strife. Envy and strife hurt a church. Alcohol and drugs on the outside of a church cannot hurt it nearly as much as the envy and strife on the inside of a church.
Notice however that some preached Christ of good will.
v16 Some preached “Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing ot add affliction to my bonds.” They were envious of the Apostle Paul.
v17. “The other of love.” There were 2 groups. What was Paul’s attitude toward them?
v18 The main thing to Paul was that Christ be preached, whether in pretense of by true motives. Christ can be preached insincerely and yet people can still be saved. God honor His Word, not the man nor the organization.
V19 By “salvation” here, Paul means deliverance from prison. Paul says that through their prayers he hopes to be set free. “Through … the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”
v20 Paul said he did not want to be ashamed of his witness while in this life and also when he came into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
IN LIFE OR DEATH—CHRIST (vv21-30)
v21 To live is Christ and to die is gain. This is the philosophy of Christian living. The most important thing is to have fellowship with Him so that your joy might be full. Now we know why Paul was undisturbed by the criticism being leveled at him. You can’t hurt a man who is in fellowship with Jesus Christ. What could anyone do to such a man?
v22 Paul did not know his future—what a single day would bring forth. Same for everyone.
vv23-4 Paul says he was torn between wanting to go to be with the Lord, which is the better of the two, or to stay with the Philippian believers because they needed him. It is normal for a believer who is doing something for Christ to want to finish it before going home to be with the Lord.
vv25-26 Paul is practical. He still has work to do. Get busy for the Lord. “This is the stage on which you and I play our part. I want to stay as long as possible, and I have promised the Lord I would teach the Word as long as He lets me stay” (Dr. McGee).
v27 “Conversation” means your way of life which should be a credit to the gospel, as well as our speech.
vv28-9 Don’t be terrified by your adversaries, for it is given to you not only to believe on Him, but to suffer for Him.
v30 Paul knew what it was to suffer for Christ. Suffering for Christ is a token of blessing, not a sign that God has turned His face away.
Chapter 1 is summed up in one verse: “For me to live is Christ, and to die gain.”
The pattern for Christian living
The pattern for Christian living is the mind of Christ as we shall see. It cannot be by imitation. Paul is not talking about imitation. He is talking about impartation. That is, the mind of Christ should be in us, and it can only be there by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We need to sit back and watch the Spirit of God move. Of course, we carry on the program that God has given us, but the power and dynamic comes from the Spirit of God.
v1 “If” here is not conditional.
v2 Even though he is in prison, he is rejoicing in the Lord. Paul wants the Philippian church to be of one mind. To be of one mind is to let the mind of Christ be in you. We won’t be beating each other over the head because of disagreements.
v3 “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory.” Most problems in a church are due to strife and envy. Some people just naturally cause trouble. If you are doing something through strife and vainglory, you would be better off not to do it at all. The same thing is true if you do it to be recognized.
v4 “Look nor every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Christ came from heaven’s glory to this earth for others. Why should we carry the gospel? For others.
THE MIND OF CHRIST—Humble (vv5-8)
v5 Humility characterized the mind of Christ. Ephesians 4:1-2: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.”
You and I can’t be humble. We are not made that way. We can’t be meek. None of us want to be offended, or ignored. We develop hang-ups if we are brought up in such a way that we have been trampled on.
We not come to the emptying, the kenosis, of Christ It wll give us the seven steps of humiliation which Christ took. Then we have listed 7 steps upward. Then we will see the mind of God. It is in the mind of God the Father to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. Since it is the purpose of God the Father to exalt Jesus Christ, Dr. McGee believes it is the will of God for every one of us. We are to exalt Jesus Christ wherever we are and whatever we do. We are to be one with the Father in this ultimate purpose of the exaltation of Jesus Christ.
The first step downward was when He left heaven’s glory. He came all the way down to where you and I are. It is absolutely beyond human comprehension to understand what He did for us.
v6 Jesus Christ was God. He did not have to hold to it or fear that an angel might take His place.
Now we see the 2nd step down
v7 “Made himself of no reputation” means to empty. Christ emptied Himself. The Gnostics propounded the first heresy that He emptied Himself of His deity, that the deity entered into Him at the time of His baptism and left Him at the cross. This theory is not substantiated anywhere in the Word of God. He emptied Himself of something, but it was not His deity. There was never a moment when He was not God. See John 1.1-3, 14.
Dr. McGee believes He emptied Himself of the prerogatives of deity. He lived on this earth with limitations which were self-limitations.
The whole universe, not just a few shepherds and wisemen, and even the multitude of angels were a sorry turnout.
Jesus did not force them to come because he had laid aside His prerogatives of deity. He was willing to be born in a dirty, filthy place—not the pretty, clean stable of Christmas pageants and Christmas cards. He was willing to grow to manhood in a miserable town named Nazareth. He was willing to be an unknown carpenter. He could have had the Shekinah glory with Him all the time, but he didn’t. He didn’t have a halo around His head as we see in so many paintings of Him. Judas has to kiss Him the night he was betrayed so that the crowd would know which was the man they were to capture. He didn’t stand out from other men by some kind of inner light or glory around Him. He was a human being, but He was God manifest in the flesh. He laid aside the prerogitives of His deity.
Can we be sure of that? Dr. McGee thinks we can. After He finished His ministry, He gathered His own about Him on His last night on earth, and He prayed a very wonderful prayer to His Heavenly Father. On thing He said in that prayer is this: “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (Jn. 17.5). Notice this carefully: He prayed to have His glory restored. He did not pray to have His deity restored, because He had never given up His deity. He is asking that His glory, the glory light, a prerogative of deity, be restored. Obviously, He had laid that aside. Philippians 2:6: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”
The 3rd step downward in the humiliation of Christ is this: “And took upon him the form of a servant.” Jesus came to earth as a servant. He worked as a carpenter. He came as a working man, a humble man, a little man. He was one of the little people.
Isaiah wrote that Christ would come as a “root of Jesse) (Is. 11.10). Yes, Mary was in the line of David as was Joseph by another route. But Jesse was a farmer in Bethlehem, and his line had dropped back to the place of peasant. Our Lord was born into a peasant family.
The 4th step in his humiliation is this: “And was made in the likeness of men.” For a man to become an ant would be humiliation. But that is nothing compared to what my Lord did when He left heaven’s glory and became a man, when He took upon Himself our humanity, when He was made in the likeness of men.
The 5th step in our Lord’s humiliation is that He humbled Himself. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself.” For a man to humble himself is very unusual, but here, God humbled Himself.
Example: One time John Wesley was starting over a bridge just wide enough for one person. As he was starting over, he met a liberal preacher of that day. This preacher swelled up and said, “I never give way to a fool.” John Wesley looked at him for a moment, smiled, and began to back off, saying, “I always do.” It is difficult to take that humble place. Our Lord humbled Himself.
The 6th step in His humiliation: “and [He] became obedient unto death.” Death is a very humiliating sort of thing. It is not natural. God did not create man to die. Man dies because of sin, because of his transgression. Death came by the transgression of one man, Adam; and death has passed down to all men.
Jesus came to earth to die. You and I came to live. He did not have to die, but He “became obedient unto death” and gave himself willingly. I have to die, but don’t want to. He didn’t have to die, but He “became obedient unto death” and gave Himself willingly. He did not have to die, but He wanted to. Why? In order that He might save you and me if we will put our trust in Him. He said, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (Jn. 10:15-18).
The 7th and last step in the humiliation of Christ is “even the death of the cross.” Not only did He become obedient unto death, but to the death of the cross. It was a disgraceful death. He came from the highest glory to the lowest place of humiliation. Why. “Look not every man on hius own things, but every man also on the things of others.” He came to earth and suffered the death of a criminal for others—for y0ou and me. Thank god for that! This is the mind of Christ.
THE MIND OF GOD (vs. 9-)
The mind of God the Father is to glorify Christ. We have seen the seven steps downward; now we will see the seven steps upward. The mind of God is the exaltation of Christ.
The 1st step up: “God also hath highly exalted him.” The supreme purpose of God the Father is that Jesus Christ be glorified in the universe which He created., and that He be glorified on the earth where man dwells, where man rebelled against God.
Nothing but the death of Christ makes this little earth significant. The thing that has lent dignity to man and has caused him to look up into the heavens and sing the doxology is the fact that Jesus Christ came to this earth and died on the cross for him. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.
Now the 2nd step. “and given him a name which is above every name.” The next time you take His name in vain, think of and drag in the mud. His name will be exalted above the names of all the great men of this world and above the names of all the angels in glory.
v10 gives the next 3 steps of Christ’s exaltation.
The 3rd step: “That at the name of Jesus”—“Jesus” means Saviour. Matthew 1:21: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Now notice the reference to prophecy: “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Mt. 1.22-23). One can find no verse where they called Him Emmanuel. But He can save His people from their sins because He will be Immanuel, God with us. Because of that, He can be called Jesus. Nobody else can properly be called Jesus.
The 4th step. “Of things in heaven.”
The5th step: “And things in earth.”
And the 6th step: “And things under the earth.” Here God is talking about the Lordship of Christ. God has highly exalted Him, that at the name of Christ every knee must bow, in heaven, in earth, and under the earth. That is, even hell will bow down to Him because He is the Lord. He is God. But merely bowing does not imply salvation. Colossians 1.20 is not talking about Lordship, but about Christ’s reconciling work, His redemptive work. And what was reconciled? What was redeemed? Was Hell included? No. The tunings under the earth are not mentioned. Why? Because this verse is talking about redemption, and there is no redemption in hell.
v11 The final and 7th step of Christ’s exaltation: Every tongue shall “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” That doesn’t mean every man shall confess Him as savior. Even in hell, they will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Word of caution. Be careful about calling Jesus your Lord if He is not your Lord. Matthew 7:21-23: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” You better know Him as your Savior before you say He is your Lord. If He is your Savior, then you can become obedient to Him as your Lord.
Jesus said, John 15:14: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
MIND OF PAUL (vs. 12-18)
We have seen that the mind of Christ cannot be imitated. It can happen only be impartation. It is the work of the Spirit of God within us which will produce the fruit of meekness or humility in our lives. We will see the mind of Christ as it walked down Roman roads, lived in Roman homes, and in a Roman jail. We will see three examples; the mind of Paul, the mind of Timothy, and the mind of Epaphroditus (pastor of the church of Philippi).
v12 “Salvation” here is used in a general sense. Paul is talking about working out their problems which they had in the church, and working out the problems in their own Christian lives. He is in a Roman prison, so he does not know if he will ever be there with them again to help them. So he tells them to work out their “own salvation with fear and trembling.”
v13 God works out that which He had worked in. God saves a person by faith plus nothing. After one is saved, God talks to him about his works. He will work out the salvation He has worked in by faith. James 2:17-18: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” True faith will work itself out so that the people around us will be able to tell that we are different, that we are Christians.
v14 “Do all things without murmuring of disputings.”
v15. Be a light.
v16 “Holding forth the word of life.” Life and light are related. Holding for the word of life, we are lights to the world.
v17 This verse is one of the most wonderful in the entire Word of God. It pictures what the Christian life really should be. He is referring to one of the earliest sacrifices in the OT. Genesis 35:14: “And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.” Then in the books of Leviticus and Numbers, the sacrifices are described. The drink offering was to be added to the burnt offering and the meal offering, but never to the sin or trespass offering. It had to do with the person of Christ. They would bring in a skin of wine and pour it on the sacrifice which was being consumed by fire. It would just go up in smoke.
Paul was saying, “I want my life to be poured out like a drink offering on the offering in Christ.” Paul knows that the Lord Jesus Christ made the supreme sacrifice. He wanted his life to be a drink offering—just poured out to go up in steam. He wanted to be consumed and obscured that all that is seen is just Jesus. He wanted Jesus Christ to receive all the honor and the glory. This was the mind of Paul.
v18 In other words, “If your life commends the gospel, my life is just poured out as a drink offerning. Together we’ll rejoice over this.” Paul ends on a note of joy and rejoicing. If we are walking in humility, we will rejoice at the success of others. We have too much strife and vainglory. This hurts the cause of Christ.
THE MIND OF TIMOTHY—Like-minded with Paul (vs. 19-24)
v19 Timothy was Paul’s spiritual son. Paul had great confidence in him. He could trust Timothy to care for the state of the Philippian believers.
v20 He is like-minded with Paul which means he had the mind of Christ, and he was characterized by humility. If men have the mind of Christ, they are together.
Timothy had been faithful to Paul. Like minded men can work together. Sometimes a convert later turns against the person who led him to the Lord.
v21 There were many others who were seeking their own glory. They wanted to make a name for themselves. Because they were seeking their own glory, they were willing to belittle Paul.
v22 You can be miles apart from someone, but they can be together if they have the mind of Christ. When a husband and wife have the mind of Christ, they are really together. It is a glorious wonderful relationship.
vs.23-24 Paul wanted Timothy to be the one to bring them the message about what was going to happen to him in prison. He hoped to be released. He was released, but when the Christians were persecuted under Nero, Paul was brought back and executed. This is not recorded in Scripture.
MIND OF EPAPHRODITUS—The Work of Christ (vs. 25-30)
v25 Epaphroditus also had the mind of Christ. He, Paul and Timothy worked together. Paul had founded the church at Philippi, but Epaphroditus was not jealous of him. Paul calls him, “my brother, and my companion in labor, and my fellowsoldier.” Paul says, “He fights with me. He doesn’t stick a knife in my back when I’m away. He does not side with my enemies.” He was a practical help to Paul who is confined there in chains.
v26 Epaphroditus was sick, and word got back to the church at Philippe that their own pastor was sick. He longed for them. It hurt him that they were hurt because he was sick! This revealed the marvelous relationship between the church and their pastor.
The rejection of a Bible preaching pastor is the death knell of many churches . The devil has been very clever. He has shifted his attack from the Word of God itself to the man who teaches the Word of God.
Epaphroditus was greatly loved by his church, and that speaks well for the church in Philippi.
v27 Why did not Paul heal Epaphroditus? He was so sick he almost died! Paul and the apostles had the sign gifts because they did not have what we have today, a New Testament. His authority when he went into new territory was his message was nothing but sign gifts, which included the gift of healing. Paul had a thorn in the flesh which the Lord Jesus would not remove. Instead, He gave Paul the grace to bear it. Timothy had stomach trouble. If Paul was a faith healer why did he not heal Timothy? Actually, he told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake. In 2 Ti. 4.20, he said that he had left Torphimus in Miletum sick. And now here Paul says he has this young preacher, Epaphroditus, with him, and he was so sick he almost died. He did not heal him. Rather, he gives all the credit to God; he says that God had mercy on him. His healing came about in a natural sort of way. Paul made it a matter of prayer, and God heard and answered. Even at this late stage, even before the apostles disappeared from the scene, the emphasis is moving back to the Great Physician.
You see, this epistle is emphasizing the mind of Christ, a humble mind. If I were a faith healer, I would be in the limelight. I would be somebody very great and very famous. but I am not. The Lord Jesus is the great physician. So Paul here is putting no emphasis on healing whatsoever. He has a sick preacher with him, but is putting the emphasis where it should be, on the Lord Jesus Christ.
v28 Now Paul is sending Epaphroditus back to them. Paul wants them to rejoice, not sorrow, that he “may be the less sorrowful.”
v29 How gracious Paul is with this preacher from Philippi! A man like Epaphroditus whould be respected and loved. We should respect the one who is teaching the Word of God. Both the gift and the teacher should be respected. Our attention should be focused on the Word of God. Our problem is not the drug problem, the alcohol problem, the sex problem. The problem is that we don’t get back to the Word of God. It is the Word of God that reveals Christ and the mind of Christ.
v30 Epaphroditus was doing the work of Christ. He had to have the mind of Christ to do that. “Because for the work of Christ, he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.” In the Roman Empire, there was no mercy shown to anyone, but there was law and order everywhere. Then there went out this little man, Paul the Apostle, and those who were like-minded with him, and they preached a gospel that there is a God of the universe who, through a redemption that He has wrought on a Roman cross, had provided mercy for mankind. Multitudes turned to the Lord Jesus in that day.
Now this little man, Paul, is chained to a Roman soldier. He is witnessing for Christ, and he is rejoicing in the Lord. He has the mind of Christ. And a find young man, Timothy, walking in that pagan city. He did pretty well in a godless society. He had the mind of Christ. And then Epaphroditus, a faithful pastor way up in the city of Philippi, a pagan heathen city. Epaphroditus had the mind of Christ.
Then I look at me. I say Stop offering excuses in this day in which you are living! Forget yourself, humble yourself, you have nothing to be proud about. Seek the mind of Christ! Yield to Him so the Spirit of God can produce in you the mind of Christ!
The prize for Christian living
v1 Paul’s final message was going to be “Rejoice in the Lord.” He has shown 3 men, Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus who were able to rejoice in sickness and imprisonment. The early church could rejoice amid the first of persecution.
Paul is saying that it has been no burden for him to write this letter (as there had been in his heart when he wrote the Galatians and Corinthians). The Philippians had been a great joy to him. It is safe for him to write to the Philippians. He felt close to them. He knows they will understand.
v2 “Beware of dogs.” We get some insight into what Paul was writing by looking at Isaiah who warned against the false prophets of his day. Isaiah 56:10: “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.” The northern kingdom had already gone into captivity because the false prophets had given them a false security. God was warning the southern kingdom not to do the same thing. He was calling the false prophets “dumb dogs.” They won’t speak out. They won’t tell it like it is. Dogs are those who are not declaring the full counsel of God.
We are comfortable today. We look for the same comfort in the church. There is a danger of comforting the church members because that is what they would like to find in the ministry.
Most church members don’t need messages of comfort but messages of warning. America has gone to sleep under the comfortable blanket of affluence.
“Beware of evil workers.” another group that would actually abuse them and use them They are not honest.
“Beware of the concision.” He is saying that they are no longer of the true circumcision, referring to the legalizers, those who were attempting to force Christians to keep the law of Moses for salvation and sanctification.
v3 “We are of the circumcision.” He makes clear what he means by this in Galatinas 6.15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” True circumcision is of the heart. It is the new birth, a new heart attitude toward God. It is being in Christ.
“And have no confidence in the flesh.” No confidence in our old nature. We trust Christ alone.
v4 Paul answers those who speak behind his back that because of Paul’s ignorance and failure in life to measure up to the requirements of the law he says have no confidence in the flesh. Paul says he would be willing to stack his religious life against that of any man. He says, “And I more.”
Now, in vs.5-6 he is lists 7 things in which he trusted at one time. This is religion. He had godly parents and was circumcised on the 8th day. They brought him up according to the Mosaic law. (2) He was “of the stock of Israel.” (3) “Of the tribe of Benjamin.” Benjamin had been Jacob’s favorite son. (4) “An Hebrew of Hebrews.” This means he was a leader, in the highest strata of the religious circle. (5) As touching the law, a Pharisee.” The Pharisees represented the very best in Israel. They were a religious-political party and their aim was to establish the kingdom. They were fundamental Bible believers. (6) “Concerning zeal, persecuting the church.” He though he was doing God’s will by that. (7) Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” He does not say he was sinless or perfect; he says he was blameless. Ro. 7:7:”What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” One can covet without anyone knowing. Paul says the law “slew him.”
By “touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless,” Paul menat that he had brought the proper sacrifice for his sin to make things right before God. Paul was sincere.
Paul thought all those things commended him to God. However, he hated Christ and His followers and set out to eliminate them. Then He met Jesus and he changed his whole bookkeeping system.
v7 But then Paul met Christ and put all his trust in Him.
v8 Paul’s conversion was not just an experience of the moment. Conversion is not a balloon ascension. Conversion stays with you. It continues for a lifetime. Sanctification is a daily walk in dependence upon God. Paul flushes away all the things he used to trust. He now trusts the Lord Jesus and Him only for His salvation.
v9 “Not having mine own righteousness which is of the law.” That righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight (Is. 64.6). One comes to Christ as a bankrupt sinner offering Christ nothing. You have nothing; He has everything, and He offers it to you.
“By faith” is the important word. “The righteousness of God” came about because when Christ died on the cross He subtracted your sins, and He rose again from the dead for your justification, your righteousness.
PAUL CHANGED HIS PURPOSE FOR THE PRESENT (vs.10-19)
Paul is no longer trying o build up legal righteousness. He has changed his bookkeeping system and is going to change his purpose.
vs.10-11 Saving faith is a faith that moves you. James 2:18: “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” If you don’t have works, you are not saved! That is what Paul is saying. If you have faith that saves, you have a new motivation, a new life purpose, a new life style. If your faith in Christ has not saved you, you have not been saved.
Paul’s effort and energy comes from the Holy Spirit, which is far greater than any legal effort. Under the law system, he was willing to go to Damascus to stamp out the followers of Christ. Under the grace-faith system, he will go to the end of the earth to make followers of Christ and to witness for Him. Your works have nothing to do with your salvation. Your faith in Christ is the motivation for you to live for God.
“That I may know him”—Paul still had a motivation, at the end of his life, to know Christ. We need the reality of Christ in our lives.
“And the fellowship of his sufferings.” If you don’t enjoy praising Christ now, why should you go to heaven?
“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” Paul is affirming that he will have a part in the rapture with great joy. He did not expect to attain perfection in this life. The church will be resurrected at the rapture. The rest of the dead will not be raised until the end of the millennium. And the Old Testament saints are not to be raised until the end of the great tribulation period.
v12 The knowledge that he will not already detained perfection does not deter Paul.
v13 Paul gives us the modus operandi of his life. “I count not myself to have apprehended”—Paul is saying that he had not arrived.
“This one thing I do.” Paul had whittled his life down to one point. “Forgetting those things which are behind.” He is leaving the past and its mistakes behind, not letting it handicap him for the future. The future—he lives in the present in the anticipation of the future when he will grow and develop.
v14 “I press toward the mark for the prize.” He likens himself to a track star, running for the prize. The Olympic Games were held at times in the amphitheater in Ephesus. Paul lived there three years. He used many figures of speech that were taken from those athletic events.
“The prize for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Not some earthly reward, but to be in His presence.
We don’t run for salvation. Salvation is not the prize. Either we trust Christ or we don’t. Faith in Christ is a gift. Ep. 2.8, 9.
Paul, after he received eternal life, is running for a prize. Christ is everything to him, and he is running a race that he might win Christ. His whole thought is “When I come into His presence, I don’t want to be ashamed.” John said it is possible to be ashamed at His appearing: “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 Jn.2.28).
v15 “As many as be perfect.” By “perfect” Paul means arriving where one should be in maturation. If a 17 year old says, “Da-da,” there is something radically wrong.
“And if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God will reveal even this unto you.” Maybe God does have something else for you to do. If you are willing to do it, He will show it to you. He is able to lead a willing believer. It is a matter of being in touch with the Lord, being close to Him.
v16 Paul is encouraging the Philippian believers to get out on the race track. He now gives himself as an example.
v17 “If you want to know how to do it, watch me” he says. Not an imitation. He means, “Learn to share the power of Christ in the body of Christ, the church.”
Now Paul discusses the negative side.
vs18, 19 This is a severe condemnation of those who profess to be Christians. They contradict their profession by their lives. Their God is their belly. This means they are led by their appetites. Some professing Christians have an appetite for money and will do most anything for the almighty dollar. For others, it is sex. Others covet. They live for self and self only, and glory in this.
If you have no works, you are not going to convince your neighbor. James 2:17-18: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
PAUL CHANGED HIS HOPE FOR THE FUTURE (vs20-21)
v20 “Conversation in heaven” means the total way of life, a new life style. We are to represent heaven and heaven’s message here upon the earth today.
“From whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul expresses the hope of the believer on a high plane.
v21 “Our vile body.” It means he shall change our earthly body.
One day our bodies will be transformed “unto his glorious body.” The trump shall sound suddenly (1 Co.15.51, 52). Revelation deals with Israel. In the OT we read that Israel moved in the wilderness march by the blowing of 2 silver trumpets. Israel is used to trumpets, we are not. 1 Thes. 4.16. It is the trump of God. Revelation 1:10: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.”
“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” This is exactly the same thought that John had: 1 Jn. 3:2 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” When Christ appears, we shall be like him. This is a high hope.
The power for Christian living
Philosophy, pattern, prize would be meaningless and useless if there were no power for them. Power is all-important.
JOY—THE SOURCE OF POWER (vs1-4)
v1: “My joy and crown.” Paul expected to receive a crown for winning these folk to the Lord. And they were his joy down here. He loved these believers in Philippi!
“So stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”
v2 Now he comes to the only problem in the Philippian church. It was a ripple, not serious. Apparently, these 2 ladies were not speaking to each other.
v3 Women had labored with Paul in the gospel. Etc.
v4 This is a commandment to the Christian: Rejoice always in the Lord, Rejoice. Regardless of the circumstances. We can’t produce this. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. There is no power in a Christian’s life if he has no joy.
PRAYER—THE SECRET OF POWER (vs5-7)
v5 We need to emphasize the person of Christ. The Lord is at hand” Paul believed the Lord would come at any moment.
v6 “Be careful for nothing.” Another commandment. Worry about nothing, pray about everything. Prayer is the secret of power. The reason we are to worry about nothing is that we are to pray about everything. Nothing leaves out everything. There is nothing in our life that is big to God.
“With thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
v7 Different kinds of peace. World peace. One day the world will have peace. The peace that comes when sins are forgiven (Ro. 5.1). Peace that is tranquility (Jn. 14.27).
The “peace that passeth all understanding” in this vers “shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” We entered this passage with anxiety, worry and fear and we come out of it w/peace. Between the two was prayer. We should be praying, “God change me.” Prayer is the secret of power. We enter with worry, we can come out in peace. Joy is the source or power; prayer is the secret of power.
COMTEMPLATION OF CHRIST—THE SANCTUARY OF POWER (vs.8-9 )
v8 “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.”
Only the Word of God can bring strength to you. This world surrounds us with filth. Get into the Word of God.
v9 Paul says “Do what I do.”
IN CHRIST—THE SATISFACTION OF POWER (vs10-)
v10 Paul has been talking about the Christian experience. Now he is thanking them for their gift. He said, in other words, “You had lost contact with me; so that you didn’t have the opportunity ot help me.”
v11 Paul is content in whatever state he is in, even in prison.
v12 “Though I appreciate your sympathy, I know how to live on the lowest plane economically, and how to live on the highest plane.”
v13 Paul is saying he can do all things through Christ (in the will of God). He can’t go jump over a house. Whatever Christ has for you to do, He will give you the power. He will give you the power to manifest the gift He has given you. It is essential to be in God’s will, and His will is determined by a knowledge of His Bible.
v14 Paul wants them to know he appreciates their gift.
v15 This church was a jewel. They were the ones who sent him support. Paul was their missionary.
v16 No one was helping Paul but the Philippian believers.
v17 Paul wrote them to thank them.
v18 A Christian in his giving is like a high priest making an offering to God. When given with the right spirit, it is an offering, an odor of a sweet smell to God.
v19 Thinking of their sacrifice, Paul assures them that God would supply all their needs.
v21 God gets all the glory. He will not share it with another.
vs21-22 He greets each believer personally.
v23 Paul closes with a benediction.