Philippians 1:15-19

Philippians 1:15-18
15Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

There is no doubt that Paul’s preaching was effective in bringing thousands of people throughout the ancient Mediterranean to salvation in Christ. This is not to say that it was Paul’s preaching which brought the salvation. Certainly not! It is the Spirit of God which does this work as Paul affirms…
1 Corinthians 3:5-7
5Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
Nevertheless, since so many were being influenced by Paul’s preaching to seek (and find) the Lord Jesus, some became jealous as we see here in verse 15. Small wonder, since the members of some of at least the Corinthian church apparently had their own favorite preachers…
1 Corinthians 1:11
For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s [household], that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Let’s be honest here. We all have our own favorite preachers, and those of whom we’re not so fond, right? Sadly, to a great degree, the preaching of the Gospel has become a competitive business. Many folks today, are making tidy livings teaching pastors and their staffs how to grow their churches in terms of the number who attend (and, of course, tithe!). So much so, that the focus on bringing the Gospel Truth to the people of the community has in many cases become a secondary concern, if a concern at all! We see from this note in Philippians that this sad church “tradition” has its roots way back in the 1st century.
15Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains;
What does Paul mean, here when he says “supposing to add affliction to my chains?” I think what Paul is saying is that those who were preaching from envy and strife were hoping to grieve Paul’s heart. Since he was imprisoned, there was nothing Paul could do to hinder these jealous, insincere preachers, and they knew it. Not only that, Paul says here that they hoped that this would only serve to dishearten him, and thereby reduce even further his threat to their own so-called “ministries.” Yet Paul tells us here that “I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice” even in this, for two reasons…
 
1.    His chains have moved some to sincerely preach the Gospel more fervently out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
2.    That “in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached;
 
In this, Paul models Jesus…
Mark 9:38-41
Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.” But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
There is an important lesson for us here. We should not have favorites among those who preach the Word of God. I confess, I am guilty in this. I do have some favorite preachers that I like to listen to and read. I won’t mention any living preachers, but J. Vernon McGee was one of my favorites, as was Chuck Smith. Conversely, I’m not very fond of Charles Fuller’s preaching style. But why do we prefer one preacher over another. Why don’t I like to listen to rebroadcasts of Charles Fuller’s “Old Fashioned Revival Hour,” while I can listen to rebroadcasts of J. Vernon McGee’s “Through the Bible” quite contentedly all day long. Sadly, I admit that it’s not the content of the messages, but the style of presentation that I find attractive or unattractive. This is grossly wrong. We need to judge preaching by the content of the message, not the package it comes in.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
1And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t discriminate among teachers of the Word. On the contrary, it is biblical to judge teaching. Jesus Himself gives us a dire warning concerning the last days in which we find ourselves…
Matthew 24:5
For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.
Matthew 24:11-12
Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
Matthew 24:24
For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
Clearly, we need to discriminate among teachings, but how? The model is given in…
Acts 17:10-12
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily [to find out] whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.
Our yardstick for discernment among teachings (and teachers) must always be, the Word of God, and nothing else. Thank God we have it, and can read it. Throughout church history, the freedom to possess the Word, and the ability of the ordinary Christians to read it for themselves have been rarities. In this we are truly a blessed people living in a blessed time.
_____________________________
Philippians 1:19-20
19For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
Remember that this letter to the Philippians was presumably written during Paul’s first imprisonment under house arrest in Rome. Paul had prophesied this imprisonment to the Ephesians years before…
Acts 20:17-25 (Paul nearing the end of his third missionary journey)
17From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. 24But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25“And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.”
In this passage, Paul testifies that God has shown him that chains awaited him in Jerusalem. Indeed this turned out to be so. In Acts 21 we see that the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem had heard he was coming, and had laid a trap for him, to kill him. After a mob attacked him in the temple, he was placed under protective custody by the Roman guards. Although he was moved to Caesarea, and eventually shipped to Rome, he remained in custody with relative freedom to preach the Gospel until the presumed time of the writing of this letter, and that is where the book of Acts leaves him. Here in verse 19 Paul seems to be saying that he expects that through the prayers of the believers and by the Spirit of God, he would be released from this imprisonment, and that he would be able to come together with the church in Philippi again (see verse 26).Although the Bible doesn’t specifically say so, we can infer from 1 Timothy that Paul was indeed released from his initial imprisonment in Rome…
1 Timothy 1:3
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
Indeed, since Paul mentions his having gone into Macedonia, we can also presume that he did get to visit once more at Philippi. We need to be careful, though, because we have no clear Biblical timeline of Paul’s movements after his first house arrest in Rome.
 
The Greek word translated here as “deliverance” in the New King James is σωτηρία sōtēria. Translations I read are roughly split in translating this word in this verse as “deliverance” (as from one’s enemies or situation) and “salvation.” (in the context of God’s salvation of sinners by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross). Paul may be referring to his expected eternal deliverance through faith in the Gospel by the power of God’s Spirit. The commentaries I read are split on whether Paul is referring here to his expect release out of earthly prison or to his eternal salvation in Jesus Christ.
 
Regardless of which it is, though, Paul makes it clear that this deliverance will come as the result of the prayers of the Philippians and other believers by the power of God’s Spirit. This raises an interesting question…
 
Why should we pray?
If God is omniscient, He clearly knows the outcome of every situation. If He is omnipotent, indeed these outcomes are clearly due to God’s own will. So what difference do our prayers make? This seems logical, yet the Bible is clear that God’s will for us is that we pray…
2 Chronicles 7:14
“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Isaiah 65:24
“It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
James 5:13-18
13Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
Matthew 7:7-11
7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Clearly, God directs us to be people of prayer, and promises to hear and answer our prayers. Indeed Jesus modeled this life of prayer continually throughout His life.
 

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.