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Philippians 1.1-18a NOTES

Philippians 1:3-11 - EXEGESIS:


CONTEXT:  Philippi was a city in Macedonia (northern Greece). While the apostle Paul was in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) on his Second Missionary Journey in 49-50 A.D., he had a vision of a man pleading, "Come over into Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16:9). Convinced that this was a God-given vision, Paul and his companions set sail for Macedonia and settled in Philippi, where they started a church, beginning with the conversion of Lydia (Acts 16:11-15).

While in Philippi, Paul and Silas met a slave-girl whose ability to tell fortunes brought her owners a good income. Paul cast out the spirit that made it possible for her to tell fortunes. The girl's owners responded by bringing charges against Paul and Silas. They didn't charge them with ruining their fortune teller, but instead charged them with creating a disturbance and setting "customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans" (Acts 16:21).

The authorities arrested Paul and Silas, beat and imprisoned them. However, that night an earthquake opened the prison doors and unfastened the prisoners' chains. The jailer, assuming that the prisoners had escaped, was prepared to commit suicide rather than facing charges. However, Paul shouted, reassuring him that all the prisoners were present and accounted for. Paul then converted the jailer and his family to believe in Christ (Acts 16:25-34). The next morning, Paul revealed his Roman citizenship and charged the magistrates with unlawfully beating a Roman citizen who had not yet been found guilty of any charges. After receiving the magistrates' apologies, they left the prison, visited Lydia's home, and left Philippi to go to Thessalonica, a Greek city southwest of Philippi.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul mentions that he is in prison as he writes this letter (1:7, 13-14, 17). We don't know which imprisonment this was. Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea for two years (c. 58-60 A.D.-Acts 23:23ff.)-and in Rome for another two years (c. 60-62 A.D.-Acts 28:11ff.). On another occasion, he faced a death sentence in Asia, probably in Ephesus (2 Corinthians 1:9; Acts 19:23ff.). While we think that Paul sent this letter from Rome, we can't be sure of that.

Paul acknowledges with gratitude that the Philippian church sent Epaphroditus bearing gifts for Paul in his imprisonment (2:25; 4:18). Paul informs them that Epaphroditus became seriously ill during his visit with Paul. After Epaphroditus recovered, Paul sent him back to Philippi with this letter. He also spoke of the possibility of sending Timothy to Philippi at some point in the future (2:19).

Verses 1-2 of chapter 1 constitute a salutation from "Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ; To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and servants: Grace to you, and peace from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."


1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus,  To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus. 7  For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the [i]affection of Christ Jesus.

 "I thank my God whenever I remember you" (v. 3). In the standard letter-form of the day, good wishes for the recipient's health would follow the salutation. In Paul's letters, he typically inserts a thanksgiving instead of wishes for good health.

  • There is a question about the translation of this verse. It could mean either "I thank my God whenever I remember you" or "I thank my God because of your every remembrance" (Fee). While either option would make sense, most scholars favor the first option-"I thank my God whenever I remember you."
  • Paul remembers the Philippian Christians with thanksgiving. However, there were problems in the Philippian church-serious problems. Later in this letter, Paul will admonish the Philippians to "beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision" (3:2). Some Philippians were living "as enemies of the cross of Christ"- whose god was their belly-whose minds were set on earthly things (3:18-19). Conflict between Euodia and Syntyche needed resolution (4:2). Paul is aware of these problems.
  • Nevertheless, Paul remembers the Philippian Christians with thanksgiving. While he acknowledges their problems and admonishes them to correct them, he focuses on the positive rather than the negative. In doing so, he provides us with an excellent model for relating to churches today. Every congregation has problems, and every pastor is tempted to allow those problems to discourage him/her. Paul's example leads us to acknowledge the problems but to live in faith that Christ can help us to overcome them.

"always (pantote) in every request of mine on behalf of you all making my requests with joy" (v. 4). Paul not only prays for the Philippians, but he does so always and with joy. The Greek word pantote doesn't mean that Paul spends every waking hour praying with joy for the Philippian Christians, but rather that such prayers are a regular part of his prayer life.

  • This is the first of five occurrences of the word "joy" in this letter (1:25; 2:2; 2:29; 4:1)-and there are a number of references to "rejoicing" as well (1:18; 2:17-18, 28; 3:1; 4:4, 10). Joy is a common theme in both Old and New Testaments. People gave thanks because they experienced salvation at God's hands (Isaiah 25:9). They rejoiced in God's steadfast love (Psalm 90:14) or God's presence (Psalm 16:9-11). The birth of the Savior was an occasion for joy (Luke 2:10-11). Just as an ordinary person might rejoice at the recovery of a lost sheep or coin or son, so also "there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance"(Luke 15:7).

Paul prays with joy "on behalf of all of you." Is that really possible? Doesn't it seem likely that Paul would pray with joy for most of the Philippian Christians but have unhappy memories of others? Isn't that our usual experience in the church? One of my professors once said with a twinkle in his eye, "There are some funerals you don't mind having"-his way of acknowledging that some church members can be very troublesome.

  • But while Paul knows about problem people in the Philippian church, he is nevertheless able to pray with joy for all of them. We might not always succeed in following his example perfectly, but we would do well to keep it in mind and to ask God for grace to be thankful for all our fellow Christians.

"for your partnership (koinonia) in furtherance of the Good News from the first day until now" (v. 5). Many people today are familiar with the word koinonia. We talk about koinonia groups-and koinonia camps-and koinonia homes-and koinonia family services. Seattle even boasts a Cafe Koinonia restaurant.

  • Most people are rather vague about the meaning of koinonia, but they tend to associate it with some sort of fellowship. When Christians talk about koinonia groups, they usually mean small groups that meet regularly for study and sharing-groups where people form tight bonds with each other-groups where the sharing of faith by individuals strengthens each member's faith. That is a good use of the word koinonia. The Greek word koinonia has a number of meanings: Fellowship, participation, sharing, or contribution.
  • The question, then, is what Paul means when he commends the Philippian Christians "for your koinonia in furtherance of the Good News from the first day until now" (1:5). As noted above, Paul acknowledges the gifts that the Philippian church sent with Epaphroditus (2:25; 4:18). Since the word koinonia can mean an offering (Romans 15:26), Paul could be using koinonia in this verse to show appreciation for the gifts that the Philippians sent.
  • This is not the first time that the Philippian church has been generous in their financial support of Paul. Later in this letter, he will commend them for their earlier generosity, saying, "You yourselves also know, you Philippians, that in the beginning of the Good News, when I departed from Macedonia, no assembly (ekklesia-church) shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent once and again to my need" (4:15-16). That accords with Paul's comment now that the Philippian church has koinonia "in furtherance of the Good News from the first day until now" (1:5).
  • But it is difficult to believe that Paul is using koinonia in this verse just to acknowledge the Philippians' financial support. He speaks very personally of his relationship with them, saying "I thank my God whenever I remember you" (1:3)-and says that "it is even right for me to think this way on behalf of all of you, because I have you in my heart" (1:7)-and calls them "my beloved" (2:12; 4:1) and "my brothers, beloved and longed for, my joy and crown" (4:1). Thus, when Paul says, "your koinonia in the furtherance of the Good News," he surely has in mind the personal relationship that he shares with the Philippians.
  • Also, Acts 16 makes it clear that Paul was able to do little more than to establish a fledgling congregation in Philippi before being forced to move on. When he left Philippi, he would have been able to leave only a tiny congregation in place. However, those few Christians kept the church in Philippi going and growing. When Paul speaks of "your koinonia in the furtherance of the Good News" he must be thinking also of the Philippians' sharing in the work of proclamation and evangelism.

"being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (v. 6). A key point in this verse is that God has begun a good work among the Philippian Christians, and will continue that work until Christ comes again. Paul has done his part, but God is the one who planted faith in the hearts of the Philippian Christians. The church in Philippi is a Godly achievement. In the next chapter, Paul will say, "For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure" (2:13).  To see the time span involved in Paul's thinking, we need to look back to verse 5 where he acknowledges that the Philippian Christians have been sharing in the work of the Gospel "from the first day until now" (v. 5b). God has been working among the Philippian church since the day that they first embraced the faith.

Now Paul expresses his confidence that God will continue that good work so that he might "will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ"-the day of Jesus' Second Coming-an eschatological (end of time) event that will bring judgment to the guilty and deliverance to the faithful.  So Paul is therefore expressing his faith that God has been at work among the Philippian Christians since they first embraced the faith, and that God will continue his good work among them until Christ comes again in glory.

"It is even right for me to think (phronein-from phroneo) this way on behalf of all of you" (v. 7a). How does Paul think/feel about the Philippians? He is thankful whenever he thinks of them (1:3). He is joyful (1:4). He is confident that God, who has been working in their lives, will continue to do so until the end (1:6). In other words, he is overwhelmingly positive in his estimate of them-all of them, not just a select few.

  • The Greek word phroneo is more complex than either thinking or feeling-it combines elements of both. Paul's heart and head are both involved in his attitude toward the Philippians. When both heard and head combine, the effect is powerful. Paul's attitude toward the Philippians is well-considered and well-established. The Philippians can count on him not to change the way he thinks/feels about them.

"because I have you in my heart" (v. 7b). Paul offers three reasons why he thinks/feels as he does about the Philippians:

  • First, Paul holds the Philippians in his heart. While "heart" is a literal translation of kardia, the people of Biblical times, in both Old and New Testaments, thought of the heart as the center of the intellect and will as well as the emotions. Therefore, when Paul talks about holding the Philippians in his heart, he is saying that they are in the forefront of his consciousness. He thinks about them-and his thinking has led him to care about them.
  • However, the correct translation of the Greek is uncertain at this point. The NRSV translates it, "because you hold me in your heart." If that is correct, Paul is saying that the Philippians have him in the forefront of their consciousness. They care about him. Their several offerings in his behalf, one quite recent, bear testimony to their thinking and caring about him.
  • Whichever translation is correct, the central idea is the same. There is a strong bond-intellectual and emotional-between Paul and these Philippian Christians.

"because, both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the Good News" (v. 7c). The Philippian Christians have been with Paul through thick and thin. Acts 16 tells the story of his visit to Philippi-the visit during which he founded the church there. He wasn't in Philippi very long before he was arrested and forced to leave town. However, the Philippian Christians didn't allow themselves to be embarrassed by Paul's encounter with the law-and they have continued to be supportive even now, as Paul is once again in prison chains.

"you all are partakers (sunkoinonous) with me of grace" (tes charitos-the grace) (v. 7d). This is the second reason for Paul's attitude toward the Philippians.

  • The word sunkoinonous is the product of two Greek words-sun or syn (with) and koinoneo (see above on verse 5 for the meaning of koinonia). It means "partaking with" or "sharing with."
  • In this verse Paul appears to say that he and the Philippians are partakers together of God's grace. However, the word "God's" does not appear in the original Greek. A literal translation of this verse would be "for all of you are partakers in the grace with me." The word "God's" is implied-not specified.

"For God is my witness" (v. 8a). Several commentaries refer to this as an oath, which surprised me. I think of oaths as binding promises (see Numbers 30:2)-often sacred promises sealed by using God's name (Deuteronomy 10:20). However, Paul's phrase here is neither a binding nor a sacred promise.

  • However, Fensham speaks of an "oath of confirmation" (Fensham, 574)-and that is a fitting title in this instance. This "oath of confirmation" is a form that Paul uses in several places-usually near the beginning of his epistles (Romans 1:9; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 1:20; 1 Thessalonians 2:5). By its use here, Paul calls on God to bear witness to Paul's affection for the Philippian Christians.

"how I long after all of you" (v. 8b). Paul made two earlier statements that reveal his passion for the Philippian Christians. He thanks God every time he remembers them (1:3). Either they hold him in their hearts or he holds them in his heart-the translation is uncertain (see the comments on 1:7). But this verse, expressing his longing for them, is a poignant expression of his feelings for them.

  • Once again, he says that his longing is "after all of you." This is the fifth time in this chapter that he has used this word "all"-"all the saints" (1:1)-"of you all" (1:4)-"of all of you" (1:7)-"you all" (1:7). See the comments on 1:4 above.
  • But what is the nature of Paul's longing? Is it a longing to see the Philippian Christians-to enjoy their company once again? Or is it a longing for their welfare-that they might resolve some of their problems to enhance their faith and their Christian witness? Probably both!
  • Parents who live geographically distant from their children can identify with Paul's longing. They wish not only to see their children again, but they also long for their children to work through any problems that might be plaguing them-and they would very much like to be present to help them with the problems.

"in the tender mercies (splanchnois-from splanchnon) of Christ Jesus" (v. 8c). Splanchnon is a gut-feeling word that refers to one's inner organs-the bowels or intestines-what the Greeks saw as the center of one's emotions. It is usually translated "compassion" or "affection"-but it expresses an intensity of feeling that those words might fail to convey.

  • What does Paul mean by "the splanchnois of Christ Jesus"? There are various possibilities. Paul could mean that he feels the same intensity of emotion for the Philippian Christians that Christ Jesus felt for the world that he came to save. He could mean that Christ has planted this deep affection in Paul's heart. Or he could mean both.


And this I pray, that your love may overflow still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may discover the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God.

"This I pray, that your love (agape) may abound (perisseuo-abound, increase) yet more and more in knowledge (epignosis) and all discernment" (aisthesis) (v. 9). Earlier, Paul said that he prayed constantly for the Philippian Christians (1:4). Now he provides some insight with regard to the content of those prayers.

"that your love" (agape) (v. 9b). The word that Paul uses for love (agape) is one of four Greek words for love, the other three being philos, storge and eros. Storge is familial love, such as the love one has for a child or parent. Eros is romantic or sexual love. Only agape and philos are used in the New Testament.

  • The classic distinction between agape and philos is that agape has to do with a concern for the well-being of the other person while philos has to do with brotherly love-friendship love-companionate love-the kind of love where a person receives as well as gives. While there is some question about the sharpness of that distinction, scholars tend to agree that "philos does contain an element of mutuality not found in agape" (Melick). In other words, philos has to do both with giving and getting, while agape has to do only with giving-with an unalloyed concern for the welfare of the other person.  Agape love is more a "doing" than a "feeling" word. It doesn't require that we approve of the actions of the person whom we love-or even that we enjoy their company. It does require that we act in behalf of that person-to demonstrate our love in some practical fashion. An agape person will do what is possible to feed the hungry-and to give drink to the thirsty-and to welcome the stranger-and to clothe the naked-and to visit the sick and the person in prison (Matthew 25:31-46). The agape person has little or nothing to gain by helping these hungry, thirsty, strange, naked, imprisoned people. The thrust of his/her agape love is giving, not getting.

 "may abound (perisseuo-abound, increase) yet more and more" (v. 9c). Paul acknowledges that the Philippians have agape love, but he prays that their agape love "may overflow (perisseuo-abound, increase) more and more with knowledge and full insight." The words "more and more" suggest a continuing growth. Therefore, Paul is praying that the Philippians will experience continuing growth in the knowledge and insight that feed their agape love.

"in knowledge (epignosis) and all discernment" (aisthesis) (v. 9d). The usual Greek word for knowledge is gnosis, which has to do with general knowledge. The compound word epi-gnosis "refers to knowledge of moral and ethical values as well as of sin. It also refers to intimate acquaintance with God" (Renn, 569).

  • The word aesthesis (insight or discernment) has to do with the kind of mature judgment and wisdom that comes from a broad range of experience. People with this kind of judgment/wisdom are unlikely to be swayed by fads or high-pressure sales talks. They are unlikely to make snap judgments that they will regret later. They tend to be rock-steady-to have their feet solidly planted on the ground.
  • The question, then, is what knowledge and discernment have to do with agape love. How would knowledge and discernment make it possible for the Philippian Christians to love more effectively? As noted above (comments on v. 9b), agape is an action verb-more concerned with doing than with feeling. An agape person would feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, etc. (Matthew 25:31-46). The more knowledge and discernment that the agape person brings to the situation, the more likely he/she will be to act effectively-to do what really needs to be done-and the less likely he/she will be to do something that will turn out to be harmful in the end.

"so that you may approve (dokimazo) the things that are excellent" (diaphero) (v. 10a). In this verse, Paul states two reasons why he prays "that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment" (1:9). The first reason is so that the Philippian Christians can "approve the things that are excellent."

  • The Greek word dokimazo has to do with testing something to determine its value. In 1 Peter 1:7, it is used for the testing of gold by fire, which suggests both a testing and a purifying.

If the Philippian Christians have the knowledge and insight for which Paul prayed in verse 9, they will be well-equipped to examine the choices that every day presents them-and to test those choices to choose the best (diaphero) one.

  • Life often presents us with complex possibilities. We not only have to choose between bad and good, but the spectrum often expands to bad, good, better, and best. Paul wants these Philippian Christians to be equipped to consistently choose the best.

"that you may be sincere (eilikrines) and without offense" (aproskopos) to the day of Christ (v. 10b). The "day of Christ" is an eschatological (end of time) term that has roots in Old Testament phrase, "the Day of the Lord"-a day that will bring judgment to the guilty and deliverance to the faithful. There are numerous references in the prophets to the day of the Lord (Isaiah 13:6, 9; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18, 20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7, 14; Malachi 4:5). Most of these references emphasize God's wrath, but some also include a note of vindication.

  • A number of texts emphasize being ready at all times for Christ's Second Coming (see especially the eschatological discourse in Matthew 24-25). Matthew 25:31-46 gives the clearest picture of that day. The Son of Man will come in glory to sit on the throne and to judge the nations. He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, putting the sheep at his right hand (saved) and the goats at his left (condemned). When Christ calls the sheep to "inherit the Kingdom," he will explain that they gave him food when he was hungry, drink when he was thirsty, etc. They will be astonished, and ask when they did those things. Christ's answer will be that as they showed mercy to "one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40). The reverse will be true for those who are condemned.
  • The Day of the Lord, then, constitutes the ultimate test-a life and death test. Eternity hangs in the balance. It hardly matters what else one has achieved. If we fail this "Day of Christ" test, nothing else will matter. As Jesus said, "For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life?" (Matthew 16:26).
  • Paul will shortly address the problem of those who "preach Christ even out of envy and strife" (1:15) or "from selfish ambition" (1:16). This is the sort of thing that he wants these Philippian Christians to avoid. To do so, they need to be full of knowledge and discernment (1:9).

"being filled with (pepleromenoi-from pleroo-being filled with) the fruits (karpon-fruit) of righteousness which are through through Jesus Christ" (v. 11a). On the day of Christ (v. 10), Paul wants these Philippian Christians to be found full of the fruits of righteousness-the kind of fruits that "are through Jesus Christ."

These various references use fruit as a metaphor for the fruits of discipled living-Christ-like living.

"to the glory and praise of God" (v. 11b). Christ-like lives give glory to God, because people are drawn to the qualities that manifest themselves in Christ-like living. That gives Christians an opportunity to witness to the Lord who makes that kind of life possible. This is the ultimate purpose of the Christian life-to give God glory and praise.

Richison Exegesis -  Philippians 1:12-18

12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brothers and sisters, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also  from goodwill; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking that they are causing me distress in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice.

v. 12: But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happenedto me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,"

We now turn from Paul's prayer for the Philippians to Paul's attitude about being jailed (Philippians 1:12-24). His attitude is connected closely with how he viewed God's sovereign hand on his situation.

The Philippian church was deeply concerned about Paul. They loved him. Under God, they owed their salvation to him. When Paul left Philippi for the last time, they lost track of him. Paul had gone back to Jerusalem. He was arrested and spent two years in jail in Caesarea. He was shipped to Rome and imprisoned there where, finally, the Philippians found him.

In this section, Paul was assuring the Philippian church. He was alleviating their fears to calm their concern for him.

v. 12a: "But I want you to know"

Invariably the very thing God wants us to know is the thing about which we are most ignorant. Here Paul put it in the positive: "I want you to know." Hebrews 11:3 says, "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God . . ." That is a difficult concept to grasp for non-Christians. They can grasp things on a finite scale: "By brains we understand,"; "by education we understand,"; "by intuition we understand." The Christian, however, comprehends that faith is crucial to understanding divine things. Especially when coming to grips with the adversity we face, faith is foundational to coping with the pain.

v. 12b: "that the things which happened to me..."

Paul was in danger of death and this put significant pressure on his confidence in God's plan for his life. Very shortly after that, he knew, he might be dead. Yet, he made a precise appraisal of his situation from God's viewpoint.

In the New King James Version, the words "which happened" are in italics, meaning that these words are not in the original text. Nothing just happened to Paul. Nothing just happens to us. There are no "rotten breaks" or "bad luck" for the Christian. Everything that comes into the life of the child of God comes by divine design. God divinely orders our lives. Good health, poor health, prosperity, poverty; all of these God mixes into our lives with an exact blueprint in His mind. All of the specifications are in God's plan for your life.

There is no accident, no luck, no coincidence with the believer. Paul left Philippi the last time in Acts 20. In Acts 28, he was in prison in Rome, where he wrote the book of Philippians. These are the "things which happened to me." Some mighty ugly things happened to him. He also earlier lay in prison in Caesarea without a fair trial. During that time, he could not do his missionary work freely. From a human viewpoint, it appeared that his time there was wasted. In Rome, he was again in jail. God had a definite plan in all this, as we will see in the ensuing verses.

APPLICATION: God is sovereignly in control of everything that happens to us.

In our study of the first phase, we saw that there are no accidents in the life of the child of God. Now Paul was about to demonstrate what this meant in his own life.

v. 12c: "have actually turned out"

The phrase "turned out" is in a tense that means the action was completed in the past with the results remaining unto the present. His imprisonment and near-death experience had a permanent effect on advancing the gospel! Man proposes, but God disposes. The best-laid plans of men are not adequate for God's designs for the universe.

God overruled all the unfortunate events of Paul's life. He took Paul's imprisonment and turned it into a benefit. Souls came to personally know Jesus Christ as their Savior as a result of his incarceration.

We find this same principle in Romans 8:28: "And we know [this is often something we do not know] that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." God does not make a mistake. God is too good to do wrong and too wise to make a mistake. If we are in deep pain at present, it is no mistake. God is in control of everything. Nothing is capricious with God. He manages all things that come into our lives and works them together into a pattern that will result in "good."

We might be disappointed with the standpoint of our personal design for life; however, from God's purpose, He has something better in mind. God knows our plight better than we do. God knows the future. He has not chosen to reveal to us everything in that plan. He is infinite, and we are finite. Finiteness cannot fully comprehend infiniteness. We do not have to take an exam on "why" God has allowed our predicament to happen. We will take an examination of our confidence in God's plan for our life. If we flunk it, we will have to retake the course and exam.

PRINCIPLE:  Man proposes plans, but God often disposes of them; a finite mind can never compete with an infinite God and His plans for man.

APPLICATION:  Are we willing to flex our lives so that we submit to God's plan even though it might be different from ours?

Today we come to the last phrase of verse 12. This is the reason for the sovereign hand of God upon Paul.

"for the furtherance"

The word "furtherance" was used to refer to a group of people who cut brush and trees down in an impenetrable forest before an advancing army. The word means literally to cut down in advance.

The point here is that "the things which happened" to Paul "advanced" the gospel. The adverse circumstances were divine woodcutters. How could the loss of liberty by imprisonment "advance" the gospel? He was chained to a Roman guard. He had what appears to us to be handicaps against preaching the gospel. He was no longer free to roam the Roman Empire. But to Paul, these hindrances were stepping stones to further the gospel throughout the Empire.

Paul had traveled thousands of miles to advance the gospel; how could he now say that the gospel advanced while he was in prison? He was now in one location. He did not have a great number of contacts with non-Christians.

As we will see in the next verse, Paul led some strategic people in the Roman Empire to the Lord Jesus. Instead of one person carrying the gospel to the Empire, it was now many people. These were people of significant influence politically. Instead of everyone banking on Paul to do the strategic evangelism, now his number had multiplied. One of the most important things that ever happened to Paul was that he was put into jail. The number of people dispersing the gospel had multiplied.

Having gone into prison, Paul may have thought that his missionary career was ruined. It seemed to him as if his years in jail were going to be years wasted. But God overruled the Roman Empire! God expanded his number. Many more people came to Christ as a result.

"of the gospel"

In verse 5, we have the phrase "fellowship in the gospel," in verse 7, "confirmation of the gospel," and now "furtherance of the gospel." The gospel is one of the cardinal reasons for our taking up space on earth. What part have we played in the furtherance of the gospel? God is far more interested in the furtherance of the gospel than He is in politics. Are we coupled to the Great Commission? The reason Paul could recognize God's plan for his imprisonment was that it advanced the gospel.

When we get to the Judgment Seat of Christ, God is not going to ask us how well we manicured our lawns. He is going to ask us what part we played in advancing the cause of Christ. Obviously, God wants us to care for our yards, if only for our neighbor's mental health! But it is a question of majoring in majors. However, we often major in minors. We make much ado about things of little consequence. We squander our energies. We prostitute our time in making religious daisy chains.

PRINCIPLE: God plans to use us to transcend our ability to anticipate, from a finite perspective, the global strategy of reaching those without Christ.

APPLICATION:  God has factored adversity into our lives. This often makes no sense to us but nevertheless advances the gospel. Are you absorbed in advancing the gospel? Have you placed yourself in the infinite hands of God to get the gospel out?

v. 13:  so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the praetorian guard and to everyone else,  (or "So that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ"

Now we come to the results of God's sovereignly placing Paul in prison. There were two results, two ways his adversity advanced the cause of Christ:

The impact his imprisonment had on non-Christians, v. 13

The effect his incarceration had upon believers, v. 14

Today we examine the first result.

"so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest"

"So that" is a result clause.

Paul had become a celebrated prisoner. He was renowned not because he had committed a crime; he was notable because of his testimony. He was in jail for Jesus' sake.

The "palace guard" was the Praetorian Guard. Augustus Caesar instituted this group; it formed the emperor's private bodyguard-an elite troop. Eventually, its members became the kingmakers; they appointed Caesar. As Rome conquered the nations of the world, these men were appointed to rule over them. Obviously, this band of men was strategic in the Roman Empire.

Paul had become a famous prisoner to the Praetorian Guard. Some of these men came to trust Christ as their Savior. Note the last chapter: "All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household" (4:22). Paul was able to reach a segment of society generally out of reach of most Christians of the time. The conventional arm of the church could not reach these men. No wonder God had a design for Paul's imprisonment! After these men came to Christ, they went throughout the empire, sharing their faith. Paul had multiplied himself strategically in the Roman Empire.

Evidently, the church at Rome was typically ineffective in reaching these men. Paul came to Rome as a prisoner and was able to evangelize this Praetorian Guard. He had a captive audience. They chained to one guard at a time. Each shift, he had a new opportunity to share Christ. Can you imagine the talk of the barracks? "Have you been chained to that Paul yet? Boy, are you going to get an ear full! All he can talk about is that Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection for our sins."

Paul was an effective witness to one man at a time. That is where most Christian fail: one-on-one testimony. The most effective way to reach people for Christ is one on one. I doubt that any of the Praetorian Guard attended the stated services of the church in Rome or any evangelistic services. We are the best witness to our relatives, neighbors, and friends. You are the best Christian some people know; it may be that you are the only Christian some people know.

"that my chains are in Christ"

Paul never lost the perspective that it was not the Roman Empire that placed him in jail. He was not a prisoner of Caesar but Jesus Christ. The sovereign hand of God put him there.

PRINCIPLE:  We share our faith best one by one.

APPLICATION:  Each soldier presented to Paul a fresh opportunity to preach Christ to a strategic group of people in the Roman Empire. Because of Paul's confinement, he was able to multiply himself many times. The gospel spread much faster because of it. Are you sharing your faith one on one?

v. 14:  and that most of the brothers and sisters, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. (or "And most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear."

We come now to the second result of Paul's imprisonment. The first result spread the gospel all over the Roman Empire-a number of the Praetorian Guard came to Christ. The second result impacted the Christians of Rome.

In Rome, the church lived its Christianity with caution and care. They would take no chances; they shirked sharing their faith, yet they were ready to say, "We told you so." Their insecurities were obvious.

"and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains,"

The phrase "having become confident" means having received confidence. Paul's testimony impacted them so powerfully that they derived confidence from it.

"are much more bold"

Boldness in Rome took some courage. A person could risk imprisonment or even death. They declared open season on Christians. This issued a timid and mousy witness. Believers were not sure of themselves. They were afraid of what might happen if they ran afoul of Roman authority.

Christians today often are mousy and afraid to share their faith with far less consequence than the Romans. We are apologetic and quiet about our faith. We are afraid to hurt feelings. We do not want to speak up so that the issue-heaven and hell-are clear.

The word "are" shows continual action in the Greek. Their boldness became a pattern. Previously Paul had written to the Romans that their "faith is spoken of throughout the whole world" (Romans 1:8). They did witness previously, but that had become intermittent and anemic. They were cautious because they were afraid. But here they established a pattern of "much more" boldness.

To be bold is one thing, but to be bolder is another. Yet to be much more bold is still another. Paul's testimony had a powerful impact on advancing the gospel among Christians!

Why were they bold? Because they "received confidence" from Paul's witness in prison. They saw that he was always on the move when it came to sharing his faith. He had another ministry in prison. We often are quick to find excuses for not sharing our faith; Paul was alert to every opportunity.

"to speak the Word without fear."

The fear disappeared from their witness. The prayer of the church shortly after it began was:  "Grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word" (Acts 4:29).  One of the least common denominators in witnessing is boldness. If we are not confident of what we are sharing, we are dead in the water before we begin. People will know that we do not believe what we are saying.

PRINCIPLE:  Confidence vanquishes fear.

APPLICATION:  Paul's great model of sharing his faith under adversity and winning some of the Praetorian

Guard to Christ encouraged Christians of his day to share their faith. Are we a witness to Christians? Do we model the dynamics of witnessing for our faith?

v. 15: Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from goodwill; (or"Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill.")

In Prison, Paul had two sorts of opposition, both from without and from within. Antagonism from without came from Roman authorities. Animosity from within came from the church! And this from a church that Paul said their "faith was spoken of throughout the world."

Beginning at verse 15 and running through verse 17, Paul cataloged incentives for preaching the gospel. Their message was the same (thank God!), but their motive was different.

a "Some indeed preach Christ"

They all preached Christ. They were not preaching Moses or Abraham. They were outstanding men of God, but they were not Christ. Jesus was more than a man; he was the "great God and Savior" (Titus 2:13). He stands like a majestic skyscraper over a shack.

b "even from envy and strife"

"Envy and strife"-what a blend of motives with which to preach! The word "from" means "because of" (motives). The message was acceptable, but the motive was something else!

Envy is the feeling of disapproval by hearing the successes of others. This term is always used in the negative or evil sense in the New Testament. Some preachers in Rome resented Paul's success in ministry.

It takes maturity to rejoice in the success of others. Immaturity constantly compares self with others. Juvenile Christians are intimidated by the accomplishments of others.

Envy not only means to desire to have what someone else has but to seek to deprive another person of what they have. In other words, in some way, envy aims to diminish the accomplishments of others. If a church in town is blessed with significant growth, another church may say, "All they are concerned about is numbers." Envy never builds up; it always lessens the person who exercises it. "Envy is rottenness to the bones" (Proverbs 14:30); envy will rot the core of our person.

There is a corollary that always comes when people feel diminished by the success of others-strife. Strife is an expression of hostility. These two evils are stitched together in James 3:16: "For where envy and self-seeking [strife] exist, confusion and every evil thing are there." People try to outdo and eclipse others where there is envy in motivation.

Churches are often neutralized because of this deadly combination. Think of a church full of people threatened by everybody else. Strife is inevitable.

c "and some also from good will"

"Good will" means a kind purpose. Thank God some in the church at Rome had good motives. The word "from" here also means because of. These people did not have a twisted sense of ill will at Paul's achievements.

PRINCIPLE:  Motivation is crucial because if false motivation drives us, it distorts our maturity.

APPLICATION:  Paul had no bed of roses in Rome. Small jealousies tried to undermine him. Paul stood independent from these hurts. He did not retaliate with distortions of his own. Are immature motivations distorting your soul and keeping you from being what God wants you to be? Is your motivation to gain approbation from others? In your ministry, do you try to impress?

v. 16: the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; (or v17 in nkjv "But the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel"

In verses 15 and 16, Paul's listed both proper and improper motives. In verse 17, Paul set forth another valid reason-"but the latter out of love."

Paul had just made the point that some Christian workers in Rome were seeking to rub salt into his wounds (his prison experience) by bragging about their successes in ministry. They were envious about the way the Praetorian Guard responded to Paul.

"but the latter out of love,"

Love is the second valid motive. The first good motive was "good will" of verse 15. Love is an advance on good will.

"Of" in "of love" is a source. Love is the source (motive) for what they do. Wolf packs turn on their own when one falls in the fray. Christians often shoot their wounded as well.

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal" (1 Co. 13:1). Preaching without love is just a lot of noise. Preaching like that is just sound and fury but without integrity.

"knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel"

Paul saw his purpose as defending the gospel. Note the emphasis upon the gospel in this chapter:

"fellowship in the gospel" (v.5)

"confirmation of the gospel" (v.7)

"furtherance of the gospel" (v.12)

"defense of the gospel" (here)

Paul was much exercised about advancing the gospel. Paul viewed himself as "appointed" for the gospel. He knew his mission. He saw himself clearly in God's plan of world evangelism

PRINCIPLE:  Love finds its source in viewing things from God's perspective.

APPLICATION:  The reason some Romans loved Paul was that they knew God had appointed him to advance the gospel. Love found its source in viewing things from God's perspective.  Is love more than maudlin sentimentalism to you? Does your love find its source in God's viewpoint? Does your love have content? Are

you in love with people who are advancing the gospel? How are you expressing that love?

v. 17: the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking that they are causing me distress in my imprisonment. (or v. 16 in nkjv "The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains;"

Verse 15 marked three motives for preaching the gospel. Verse 16 assigns three more negative motives.

"The former preach Christ from selfish ambition"

Christ is preached but from the motive of "selfish ambition." These words in Greek originally meant a person who works for hire. To many, to work for hire was demeaning because a man worked for his own interests. Instead of working for the good of the group, this person worked for himself. Also, it was used in a political sense; it has the idea of party making. It denotes pursuing political office by unfair means. This person would plot and scheme to reach his ends, with intrigue the name of the game.

This is a person who is out for his approbation. He operates on power lust. This motivation causes strife, contention, and discord.  It is an expression of hostility. It is the desire to fight back.  These people had a spirit of rivalry; they had an argumentative nature.

"not sincerely"

"Sincerely" means "pure"-in this context, pure intentions. To not be pure is to blend something impure with something pure. These teachers had a pure message but added something unclean to it. It is an arresting idea that God can bless the gospel preached from impure motives. Later, Paul said that he rejoiced that the gospel was preached by these people (v.18).

When we give the message of Jesus Christ with impure motives, it is like mixing gas and water. To put a gallon of gas into the tank of your car is one thing; to place a gallon of water into it as well is another. To preach the gospel is one thing; to preach the gospel with impure motives is another. Impure motives were placed into the pure gospel. This dilutes the gospel to some extent. It distorts its power because what is preached does not line up with the way it is preached.

PRINCIPLE:  Some people do not preach the gospel with pure motives; they are malicious with their message.

APPLICATION:  Some people do not preach the gospel with pure motives; they are malicious with their message. Recipients of this malice need to be people with a caliber of soul. Do you put yourself at the mercy of malice? Are you independent of people who try to hurt you?

b "supposing to add affliction to my chains"

The reason they were preaching Christ from "selfish ambition" and impure motives was they wanted to add to Paul's affliction in jail! They tried to rub salt into his wounds.

Possibly, they would come to Paul in jail and brag about the numbers of people who were coming to Christ in their ministry. Maybe they would even leave the impression that he was in prison because something was wrong with his life. They were spiritual; he was carnal.

They would watch to see if he turned green with envy. But they did not know the caliber of his soul. Paul was not jealous; in fact, he thanked God that the gospel was preached (v.18).

PRINCIPLE: The caliber of the soul transcends malice.

APPLICATION:  Some people do not preach the gospel with pure motives; they are malicious with their message. Recipients of this malice need to be people with a caliber of soul. Do you put yourself at the mercy of malice? Are you independent of people who try to hurt you?

Extra Commentary Phil. 1:12-18

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

// Circumstances Are Opportunities (12-13)

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.

As we study through Philippians - consider the way Paul is talking to this church. Here is one (Paul, who suffered terribly and courageously for the Gospel) writing to his dear friends who are about to experience the same physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional stress that he did.  Paul's dealt with the type of pain that makes him struggle with whether it's worth it. He knows the Philippians have been and will continue to struggle with that.

I imagine his tone and demeanor to be like a parent with a sick child.  When you're kid is throwing chunks and is crying between heaves, all you want to do is take it from them.  "Just let me be the sick one and let them be ok." But we're helpless to make that decision. We know that they've got to suffer through it.  So we sympathetically help by encouraging them. We get them something to drink and we say how much we love them and clean up their mess. Even if you're not a parent, you get that helplessness to relieve someone's pain but desire to encourage them through it.  

In verse 12 Paul says, 12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel."

Paul is basically saying his circumstance is an opportunity.

"Some things have happened beyond my control - like getting arrested.  But as bad as imprisonment sounds, it's actually great because it's helped to advance the Gospel."

And Paul wants the Philippians to know that.  "I want you to know, brothers." He's saying, "Don't forget.  Remember this. As you think through my situation, know that I'm considering the purpose of my suffering."  It feels like he's preparing them. "I want you to know, because you're going to have to remember to think the way I'm thinking when you're imprisoned or tortured or facing death."

Can we think this way? Facing our challenges in light of the Gospel?  Reminding ourselves that our deepest and most depressing struggle and grief is something that God can use for the advance of the Gospel? Some of you are here today and you're feeling grief - Paul's felt it too.  And he's reminding you that even in that grief, there's cause for joy.

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.

There's no doubt to those around him that he's focused on the cause of Christ.  Can that be said of us? Paul's got the "whole" imperial guard knowing. Does our neighbor know? How about our coworkers?

What if we apply Paul's statement to our situation?

"It has become known throughout the whole office and to all the rest that my work is for Christ."

Or "It has become known throughout the whole school and to all the rest that my education is for Christ."

"It has become known throughout the whole gym and to all the rest that my fitness is for Christ."

"It has become known throughout the whole hospital and to all the rest that my illness is for Christ."

Paul took advantage of his circumstances for the Glory of God. In Philippians 4 Pauls says,  

"I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need."  

He remembered that his circumstances served his purpose.  He didn't let his purpose change to match his circumstances.  Because circumstances can really quickly become idols, but they're much better as servants to the cause of Christ.  

No matter what is happening in your life, leverage it for making much of Christ as you live sent.

This takes boldness. And Paul is bold like we can be.  Those guards literally put him in prison for proclaiming Christ and he still proclaims it to them! That's pretty fearless!

And it's pretty amazing that because of his boldness even those who we would imagine were most against the Gospel have now heard it.  But there's another important result here too. Look at verse 14:

// Boldness Births Boldness (14)

14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

A cool effect of boldness is that it births boldness.   Boldness births boldness. In life, we all know how this sounds:

"Ill do it...if you do it!"

"You go first!"

We've all seen instances of mob mentality.  Where people by themselves would never try to flip over cars and burn things down.  But put a guy in a group and he starts getting bold, then some others and then all.

This has a lot to do with fear, doesn't it? Like, I want proof that something can work.  That something's worth it. I hate heights. My knees start shaking 4 steps up a ladder.  But if I see people doing a roller coaster and getting off, I think, "they're living through it.  They seem like they're having fun! So I'll chance it."

Paul's showing guys around him that the roller coaster is worth it.  He's the brave one: courageous enough to get hurt and say, "it's still worth it!"

most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

They're looking at Paul and saying, "if sharing the Gospel saves lives and brings me that type of joy, then I'm in! Even if it costs me my freedom.  Even if it costs me everything."

Paul's continuing this leading kind of commentary to the Philippians - "You're suffering can make Christ known to unbelievers and it also can encourage the believers around you!"

"Follow me! It's worth it!"

But ultimately, Paul is making sure they know their confidence shouldn't be in him. The confidence of every believer must be in Christ.  Because Christ really is perfect. Jesus really did live a perfect life. He really did die on the cross. He really did rise again. And He really is coming back.  We can have joy in all things because of the way we can use our circumstances to honor our God and King!

Look at how Paul makes this connection for the church in Thessalonica:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

And be bold. Because it is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Find ways to talk about Jesus. Make it quick to your tongue.

Not all boldness birthed from boldness has the correct motivation though, Paul continues in verse 15:

// Celebrate Christ Proclaimed (vv. 15-18)

15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

There's a lot to say out of these 4 verses, but the strongest sentiment that Paul conveys is that we should Celebrate Christ Proclaimed.  

That's not coming from an easy place. Paul's got guys who should be his brothers betraying him.  They desire the platform and presence and fame that Paul has. They see him as a public figure and they want his status.  You can imagine the frustration this causes the Christians in Philippi and really, any city where Christians are.

If men are preaching Christ to get more famous or be more popular than Paul it's not hard to imagine that they're lacking in other ways too.  These probably aren't men setting great examples of what the Christian life is. Just in this condemnation by Paul we know they're not loving others as themselves.  They're really not loving God either; they're loving themselves above all.

Even still, Paul kept the goal in mind: the proclamation of Christ.  Now, if these preachers were preaching something other than Christ or the true gospel, you can imagine Paul's message being different.  But if it's simply an issue of motivation, Paul's didn't get hung up on motivation. He's interested in the message being true so that people turn to Christ.  He trusts the Holy Spirit to save people with the message Jesus gave.

The motivation of the evangelist has never saved a single person.  Only the work of the Holy Spirit has. By grace through faith. And the Holy Spirit works through the truth of the Gospel.  So Paul celebrates Christ proclaimed even when He is proclaimed by wrong motivations.

While we have a responsibility to be on guard against false teaching and bad doctrine that doesn't line up with scripture, we need to have the same generosity as Paul does towards others.  Don't forget God's Word also says this about false teachers in 2 Peter chapter 2:

12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing.

God takes His doctrines seriously. He cares about being represented accurately, so Paul isn't dismissing wrong doctrine in verse 18.  But he is saying that there are some offenses we need to overlook. We should meet people proclaiming the true Gospel with as much grace as possible in places where we disagree.  

The encouragement for Paul is that there were Christians preaching the truth for the sake of the Christ.  They didn't care about Paul's fame or "success." Instead, they committed themselves to the Glory of the their Lord (v16).  That's the better way. The more enjoyable pursuit.

Because those preaching Christ out of love were like Paul when he says that Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.  

Their focus and their goal was Jesus. He was their consuming thought.  Because of His great worth, their joy was in seeing others know that same great worth.  God's great desire for His glory is intoxicating. Because His glory is good for us, we sip it and enjoy it.  We begin to love the One that gives love its definition. As we love Him, His love flows into the way that we look at and think of and love others.  We want to share the treasure! To be generous with the gift of salvation as Christ has been generous.  

When we hear Christ proclaimed, we rejoice! We rejoice because we recognize that Christ deserves it.  We rejoice because we want others to enjoy Christ! That's what fills our minds, not a competition or envy, or rivalry.  




Bible Ref. - Phil. 1:12-18 

Chapter Summary:  In chapter 1, Paul thanks the Philippian believers for supporting his ministry. Even when Paul was jailed, or persecuted, they had been generous and loyal. Paul encourages these Christians by explaining that all of his suffering has been for a good cause. Even better, these attempts to persecute Paul have actually caused the gospel to spread. For this, Paul is grateful. He fully expects to be released, and to see the believers of Philippi again.

Context Summary:  Philippians 1:12-18 explains Paul's perspective on his imprisonment. Specifically, Paul sees the many hardships of his life as a good thing, for one reason: they have led to the spread of the gospel. Paul has been held captive; this has allowed him to preach to his jailers. Paul has seen others repeat his own message in an effort to harm him; this has caused even more people to hear the gospel. This passage sets up Paul's upcoming argument that, whether by life or death, he intends to bring glory to God.

v. 12: Verse 12 changes Paul's focus. He began by encouraging the Philippians in what they had done, and would continue to do. Here, he begins to encourage them in what he was experiencing. Paul previously mentioned his time in prison (Philippians 1:7). He was often persecuted, sometimes severely (2 Corinthians 11:23-27), and suffered many other forms of hardship for the sake of his message. Paul puts a uniquely Christian spin-a truthful one-on these experiences. These things have all served to advance the spread of the gospel. For this, Paul is actually rejoicing. While the world would have seen Paul's situation only in negative terms, Paul saw it as a positive way to share the gospel with new people.

Further, Paul calls the spread of the gospel the "advance" of the gospel. The gospel did not merely spread like other information; it "advanced." It was a message of power that charged forward into unknown territories to change hearts and lives. The message that changed this man from Saul to Paul was changing people in the capital of the empire. Paul considered his suffering well worth the transformation it provided for those around him in Rome.

v. 13: This advance of the gospel, mentioned in verse 12, included even the guards who were part of Paul's Roman imprisonment. The imperial guard was literally the praitorion: soldiers assigned to guard high-ranking officials in Rome, who now had some exposure to Paul's teachings. Paul's captivity gave him the opportunity to interact with these men on a regular basis. As a result, many of them had been converted. It was of great significance that some of the most revered soldiers of Rome had become followers of Jesus.

In addition, Paul mentions "all the rest." This is likely a general reference to both Jews and Gentiles living in Rome who heard about Paul's gospel message. Acts 28:30-31 says of Paul, "He lived there [Rome] two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance."

Critically, Paul notes that these people are all aware that he is a prisoner for one reason only: his witness for Christ. Neither the guards, nor "all the rest," are under any illusions. Paul is no criminal or rebel. He is guilty of nothing more or less than preaching the gospel.

v. 14: Unbelievers in Rome had heard about Paul's message (Philippians 1:13). In fact, they had come to understand clearly that Paul's imprisonment was entirely for the sake of the gospel. Paul was obviously not a thug or criminal. Not only had Paul been given a chance to witness to unbelievers, but other Christians had gained confidence by seeing how Paul responded to his circumstances. Paul's captivity motivated Christians to share the gospel more boldly. If Paul could go to jail for his faith, other believers could take a bold, risky stand for their faith in Jesus as well.

Even from the earliest days of Christianity, some have struggled with fear in sharing their faith. All believers are called to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Certain occasions will give people more boldness to speak out. However, there are those who will be fearful for a variety of reasons. We must all work to better share our faith, acknowledging that some will be bolder or more gifted in evangelism than others.

v. 15: Paul acknowledged that it's possible to preach Christ with wrong motivations. Some people were jealous of Paul's popularity among Christians, so they mimicked his message in order to become more popular themselves. Based on the persecution Paul and others suffered for their faith, this was clearly not a common motivator. Others saw Paul as a rival or as competition and sought to become more popular through their own preaching outreach. It's also possible that those who hated Paul's message were deliberately spreading it, in order to inflame his enemies (Philippians 1:17).

In verse 18, Paul notes that a person's motivations for spreading the gospel don't change the fact that the gospel is being spread. As long as what these envious, jealous people said was the truth, it made little difference why they said it.

In addition to these two inappropriate motivations, Paul noted that some who preached Christ in Rome did so "from good will." They had an appropriate, godly motivation to share Christ, and to help lost people be found in Jesus. By this time in the early AD 60s, many were apparently sharing Jesus in Rome. Before long, the city would be considered the capital of Western Christianity.

v. 16: Paul says those who preach the gospel from proper motivations do so out of love. These individuals knew Paul was imprisoned specifically because he had upheld the gospel against those who opposed it. Paul had mentioned defending the gospel in verse 7. This gospel was so important that he mentions it six times in this first chapter alone. Paul will refer to Timothy serving with him in the gospel (Philippians 2:22), women and men who served with him in the gospel (Philippians 4:3), and mentions the "beginning of the gospel" (Philippians 4:15).

In 1 Peter 3:15 we are also taught, "In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you." Believers are called both to present and defend Christianity effectively, and respectfully, to help bring people to faith in Christ and help equip believers to grow in their knowledge of God. Part of doing that, in truth, is doing so out of love and concern, not selfish ambition.

v. 17: Paul referred to those properly motivated to preach Christ in verse 16. In verse 17, his thoughts return to those with inappropriate motivations. Their goals were selfish, jealous, and even hostile. Some might have even spoken about the gospel for the purpose of making Paul's imprisonment worse. Such people were more concerned with their own benefit than the spread of the gospel.

However, the opposite was actually the result. First, their selfish ambition led to more people hearing about Jesus. Second, the growing popularity of Christianity may have had something to do with Paul's later release. The church was small when Romans was written in 55-56. Yet by 64, less than 10 years later, Christians had become a large enough minority to receive the blame from Nero for the fires in Rome. Believers endured intense persecution during this time, traditionally including the deaths of both Paul and Peter in or near Rome during Nero's reign (AD 64-68). Both the Gospels of Mark and Luke may have been written in Rome during this time period as well.  Truth is a powerful thing; the harder one tries to suppress it, the more eagerly it seems to spread!

v. 18: Paul rounds out his comments on those who preach for selfish reasons with a very practical conclusion: so what? Paul was happy to see Christ proclaimed regardless of the reason. In the end, his goal was to help every person possible to hear the good news and receive it. Those who thought they were hurting Paul by repeating his preaching, or by spreading his claims, were actually giving him his very heart's desire.

In Romans 15:20-21, Paul noted one of his goals was to take the gospel to people who had yet to hear it: "I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, but as it is written, 'Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.'" His greatest desire in ministry was to get the gospel out to new people. It only makes sense that he would ultimately conclude the spread of the gospel in Rome was positive, regardless of the motivations involved.