Sunday, April 15, 2018

Ephesians Chapter 2 – Part Two

Verses 11-12: Gentiles (the “uncircumcision”) experienced two types of alienation. The first was social, resulting from the animosity that had existed between Jews and Gentiles for thousands of years. Jews considered Gentiles to be outcasts, objects of derision, and reproach. The second and more significant type of alienation was spiritual, because Gentiles as a people were cut off from God in 5 different ways:
  1. They were “separate from Christ” the Messiah, having no Savior and Deliverer and without divine purpose or destiny.
  2. They were “excluded from the commonwealth of Israel”. God’s chosen people, the Jews, were a nation whose supreme King and Lord was God Himself, and from whose unique blessing and protection was God Himself, and from whose unique blessing and protection they benefitted.
  3. Gentiles were “strangers to the covenants of promise,” not able to partake of God’s divine covenants in which He promised to give His people a land, a priesthood, a people, a nation, a kingdom and a king, and to those who believe in Him, eternal life and heaven.
  4. They had “no hope” because they had been given no divine promise.
  5. They were “without God in the world”.
While Gentiles had many gods, they did not recognize the true God because they did not want Him.
Converted Jews had difficulty breaking from the ceremonial laws such as Sabbath observance and the eating of unclean animals. Converted Gentiles had difficulty with such things as eating meat that had been offered as a sacrifice to a pagan deity. In many such ways, Jewish and Gentile believers stumbled over their former traditions and beliefs, and in doing so they also stumbled over each other.
What was of extreme importance to one group was inconsequential to the other. In Ephesians 2:11-22 Paul confronts that problem from two sides. First, he describes the former social and spiritual alienation of Jews and Gentiles, and then he describes their new spiritual unity in Jesus Christ.
The first kind of alienation was social:
Ephesians 2:11
"Wherefore remember, that ye [being] in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;"
Uncircumcision was a derogatory term used by the Jews regarding Gentiles because the latter were uncircumcised. Jews called themselves the Circumcision since they were circumcised. David had called Goliath an “uncircumcised Philistine” (1 Sam. 17:26)
The circumcision is the Jews who thought that they were God's only people. Many of the Jews thought that they would be saved, just because they were the descendents of Abraham. Pertaining to the law, they were circumcised in the flesh. They thought this would make them God's people.
It was not the circumcision of Abraham that put him in right standing with God, but his faith. Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, was saved before he was circumcised 4:9-12.
Circumcision had never been a mark of personal relationship to God, for Jews or anyone else. Paul makes much of that truth in the book of Romans 2:28-29.
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:” “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
This is speaking of cutting away the earthly desires from the heart. In a man's heart, he believes unto salvation. What our heart is is what we are.
Paul also takes exception for such Jewish hatred, as evidenced in his choice of words to describe Jews, the so called “Circumcision”.
A much more important Gentile alienation was spiritual:
Ephesians 2:12
"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:"
At that time refers to the readers’ pre-Christian life. Commonwealth (or nation) of Israel recalls the concept of ancient Greek city-states, whereby a city or country provided numerous valuable advantages, benefits, and privileges for it citizens, but withheld them from foreigners.
Since the Gentile addressees used to be aliens from the Jewish nation, who were God’s people, the Gentiles were without the spiritual blessings given them by God. Without God means not having His help and assistance. This was their spiritual plight before salvation.
Before Christ came, the Jews were the people of promise from God, but the Gentiles as a people were cut off from God in five different ways as is shown at the top of this chapter.
Had the Gentiles accepted the true God they, too, could have been a part of that blessed nation. But because they rejected God, they forfeited His national blessing. They had no God blessed community or kingdom and no divine benefactor. They received no special blessing or protection, because they were outside the dominion of God.
The Gentiles were spiritually alienated because they were hopeless, “having no hope”. Those who have no Christ, no commonwealth, and no covenants of promise also have no hope. Living without hope of future joy and enrichment reduces man to a piece of meaningless protoplasm.
Most Gentiles of Paul’s day either thought that death ended all existence or that it released the spirit to wander aimlessly in some nether world throughout the rest of eternity. Death brought only nothingness or everlasting despair.
This describes the whole world, before Jesus came and gave them hope. It especially describes all who were not Jews. The covenant did not cover the non-Jews, until Jesus came. Now, if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.
We who have faith in Jesus are seed of Abraham, because he believed, also. It is our faith that makes us faithful Abraham's seed. There was no hope for the heathen world, until Jesus came and brought us hope.
The problem was not that the Gentiles had no god but that they did not have the true God. They were without God in the world because they did not want Him. The Gentiles rejected God by suppressing the truth about Himself that He had made abundantly evident.
The problem was that, “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened”, verse 21.
There will never be an end to alienation until Christ returns and by only His power breaks down the barriers of separation. Apart from Christ there not only can be no harmony with God but no harmony among men.
Ephesians 2:13
"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
Far off”: A common term in rabbinical writings used to describe Gentiles, those who were far apart from the true God. Jews considered themselves and their converts to be brought near to god because of their covenant relation to Him and the presence of His Temple in Jerusalem.
Made nigh or brought near”: Every person who trusts in Christ alone for salvation, Jew or Gentile, is brought into spiritual union and intimacy with God.
This is the reconciliation of 2 Cor. 5:18-21. The atoning work accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross washes away the penalty of sin and ultimately even its presence.
Because Jews had access to God through His temple in Jerusalem, they were said to be nigh. But Gentile nations, geographically removed from the temple, were said to be far off. These terms of space came to denote moral distance, so that to be “nigh” was to have a proper relationship with God, and to be “far off” was to have an improper relationship with Him.
The blood of Christ Jesus does not just do away with our sin, but literally saves us. It is the blood of Jesus {our Savior}. That makes us acceptable to the Father. It was His blood being shed that removed the veil to the holy of holies.
Colossians 1:14 "In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:"
1 Peter 1:18-19 "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers;" "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:"
The cleansing value of the blood of Christ immediately washes away the penalty of sin and ultimately washes away even its presence. Because in Christ the great foundational barrier of sin has been removed, every other barrier has been removed as well. Those who are one in Christ are on in each other, whether they realize it or act like it or not (1 Cor. 6:17).
The purpose of the Lord’s Table is to remind us of the sacrifice our Lord made not only to bring us to Him but also to each other. By removing our sin, Christ gives us peace with each other and access to God.
In verse 14-15, “Who hath made both one:” Jesus has formed the two antagonistic groups of Jew and Gentile into a single new party, the Christian church. He did this by removing the middle wall of partition, that is, the Mosaic Law. The law was meant to protect Jews from pagan corruptions; but by misconstruing the purpose of the law, the Jews felt superior to Gentiles, who were incensed at this arrogance.
So Jesus abolished this enmity (hatred), caused by an abuse of the law, by making the law invalid for His church. Of twain one new man: As above, Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles now compose this “one new man” or Christian church.
Ephesians 2:14
"For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us];"
He Himself”: This emphatically indicates that Jesus alone is the believer’s source of peace, Isaiah 9:6. Jesus alone is our peace.
Just as sin is the cause of all conflict and division, it is also the enemy of all peace and harmony. Built into wickedness is the impossibility of peace. Sin is basically selfishness, and selfishness is basically divisive and disruptive. We cannot always have what we want without infringing on what someone else wants or needs. We cannot always have our own way without interfering with someone else’s way.
Jesus Christ is the King of Peace. He not only brings peace, but is Peace. When we receive Jesus Christ within us {whether Jew or Gentile}, we have the peace of God which passes all understanding.
Peace comes only when self dies, and the only place self truly dies is at the foot of Calvary. “I have been crucified with Christ,” Paul said; “and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).
In Jesus Christ, a Jew is no longer distinct from a Gentile as far as religion is concerned. Since AD / 70, when the Temple was destroyed, true religious Judaism ceased to exist. Not only was the place of sacrifice destroyed, but so were all the genealogical records on which priestly descent was based. Likewise, a Gentile in Christ is no longer distinct as far as his spiritual condition is concerned. His paganism is gone, his unbelief is gone, his hopelessness is gone, and his godlessness is gone.
The barrier of the dividing wall”: This alludes to a wall in the temple that portioned off the Court of the Gentiles from the areas accessible only to Jews. Paul referred to that wall as symbolic of the social, religious and spiritual separation that kept Jews and Gentiles apart. Jesus made both groups, Jew (those who were “near”) and Gentiles (those who were “far off”), into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.
God had originally separated Jews from Gentiles for the purpose of redeeming both groups. He placed the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple for the very purpose of winning Gentiles to Himself. It was meant to be a place for Jewish evangelism of Gentiles, a place for willing proselytes to Judaism and of thereby bringing them “near.”
In this church of Ephesus, both Jew and Gentile had given their heart to Jesus. They were one in Him. Jesus is the focal point upon which all of us, whatever denomination, must center on. He is the hub of the wheel, and each of us is spokes. We all are connected to Him, if we are Christians.
We draw our strength and power from Him. Of course, we all know that Jesus tore the veil in the temple from the top to the bottom when He gave His body on the cross. The veil in the temple was symbolic of the flesh of Jesus. He opened the way for whosoever will into the very presence of the Father.
It matters not whether we are Jew or Gentile. We are one in Him. He is our Peace.
Ephesians 2:15
"Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace;"
Christ forever broke down (the Greek aorist tense signifies completed action) every dividing wall by “abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances”. When Jesus died on the cross He abolished every barrier between man and God and between man and his fellow man.
The greatest barrier between Jew and Gentile was the ceremonial law, “The law of commandments contained in ordinances. The feasts, sacrifices, offerings, laws of cleanliness and purification, and all other such distinctive outward commandments for the unique separation of Israel from the nations were abolished.
Abolishing in His flesh the enmity”: Through His death, Christ abolished Old Testament ceremonial laws, feasts, and sacrifices which uniquely separated Jews from Gentiles. God’s moral law (as summarized in the Ten Commandments and written on the hearts of all men, Romans 2:15) was not abolished but subsumed in the New Covenant, however, because it reflects His own holy nature, read Matthew 5:17-19.
One New man”: Christ does not exclude anyone who comes to Him, and those who are His are not spiritually distinct from one another. “New” translates a Greek word that refers to something completely unlike what it was before. It refers to being different in kind and quality. Spiritually, a new person in Christ is no longer Jew or Gentile, only Christian, (Rom. 10:12-13; Gal. 3:28).
Jesus summarized God’s moral law still further by declaring, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) The 10 commandments, like all of God’s moral laws, are but the structured and particularized love that God still requires (James 2:8).
Jesus fulfilled the law of commandments in His body on the cross. He paid the debt of the ordinances in full for all of mankind in His body. He is our Sacrifice. He is our Way. He is our Truth. He is our Life. The way to heaven is in Jesus. It does not matter whether you are black or white, young or old, male or female. The only way is in Him.
The new person in Christ is not simply a Jew or Gentile who now happens to be a Christian. He is no longer a Jew or Gentile but only a Christian. Every other characteristic is “former”, see v.11. Paul summed it up when he said “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:12-13)
When we receive Jesus, we are a new creature in Christ. Our old self has vanished away. Our prejudices vanished with self. Now we live by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:3 "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:"
Ephesians 2:16
"And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:"
Reconcile them both … to God”: As Jews and Gentiles are brought to God through Christ Jesus, they are brought together with each other. This was accomplished by the cross where Jesus became a curse, Gal 3:10-13, taking God’s wrath so that divine justice was satisfied and reconciliation with God became a reality.
There would be no longer special privileges to one race of people. God is the Father of them all. We all, Jew and Gentile, make up the family of God. When we become believers in Christ, we are brothers and sisters with all other believers no matter what the race. The separation is over. We are actually sons of God.
Romans 8:14 "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." The Spirit of the Risen Christ dwells within us if we are believers in Christ.
1 John 3:1 "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not."
The cross is God’s answer to Judaizing, racial discrimination, segregation, apartheid, anti-Semitism, bigotry, war, and every other cause and result of human strife. This is the great mystery of Eph. 3:6, “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Ephesians 2:17
"And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh."
Preached peace”: The Greek word for “preached” literally means “to bring or announce good news,” and in the New Testament is almost always used of proclaiming the good news those sinners can be reconciled to God by the salvation which is through Jesus Christ. In this context, Christ, the One who “Himself is our peace” (v.14), also announced the good news of peace.
Far off and … nigh”: That is to Gentiles and Jews alike.
Jesus' main mission upon this earth was to reconcile man to God. He preached the good news of the Gospel to all who would hear. Only the love of God can bring peace to mankind then or now. Man had lived in terror of God. Jesus taught the love of God.
Romans 5:1 "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:"
Among His last words to His disciples were, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace” (John 16:33). The ministry of the apostles and others preachers of the early church was characterized by “preaching peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36).
Ephesians 2:18
"For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."
Access in one Spirit to the Father”: No sinner has any right or worthiness in himself for access to God, but believers have been granted that right through faith in Christ’s sacrificial death, 3:12; Romans 5:2. The resources of the Trinity belong to believers the moment they receive Christ, and the Holy Spirit presents them before the heavenly throne of God the Father, where they are welcome to come with boldness at any time.
"Him", in this verse is Jesus Christ. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The Father is, of course, Father God. We see the action of Father, Son {Word}, and Holy Ghost here. The Gentile and the Jew had no way to reach the Father directly, before Jesus opened the way for us. Our Mediator is Jesus Christ and Him alone.
Matthew 28:19 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"
John 14:6 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
1 Corinthians 12:13 "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
When we have Jesus Christ (Him) we also have access by the Spirit to the Father. The resources of the entire Trinity are ours the moment we receive Christ. The only access into God’s presence, the only door into the sheepfold of His kingdom, is through His Son. We can always “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
Christians can now come to God as their own Father, knowing that He no longer judges or condemns but only forgives and blesses. Even His discipline is an act of love, given to cleanse and restore His precious children to purity and spiritual richness.
 In verses 19-20, “Now therefore” draws a conclusion for verses 14-18: Christian Gentiles are no longer alienated from God, but now enjoy the same intimate relationship with Him and the same spiritual blessings as do Christian Jews. Three figures express this unity and equality existing between believing Jews and Gentiles.
1.      A city: this figure comes from the Greek city-state political concept whereby all inhabitants of a particular city-state were fellow-citizens enjoying the same privileges.
2.      A family: Since Gentiles have been reconciled to God (v.16) and to His people (v.15) they are now members of the household of God, that is, children of the divine family.
3.      A building: Believing Jews and Gentiles are part of the same divine structure, the church. The church’s foundation is composed of the apostles and prophets, its chief corner stone is Christ, and its superstructure is composed of Christians. Oriental architecture placed greater importance on the cornerstone than on the foundation, for it connected the walls and concentrated the weight of the building on itself, thus bonding and holding together the whole structure.
Ephesians 2:19
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;"
Paul closes his discussion of the marvelous unity of the Body of Christ by giving three metaphors to illustrate it.
Fellow citizens with the saints”: God’s kingdom is made up of the people from all time who have trusted in Him. There are no strangers, foreigners or second class citizens there, Phil. 3:20. Both have become part of the same kingdom. Paul shows how all believers are one spiritual family in Christ.
Of God’s household”: Redeemed sinners not only become heavenly citizens but also members of God’s own family. The Father bestows on believers the same infinite love He gives His Son. All believers are together a habitation for God.
The Gentiles had no opportunity to know God, until the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The law was limited to just a very few people, but Christianity was offered to all who would believe. Look at the following Scripture and see who is in the family of God.
Mark 3:35 "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother."
Look, with me once more, who can receive the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:17 "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
The next Scripture will show that the Gentiles were far off, but belief in Jesus brought them in, too.
Ephesians 2:13 "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
As if being members of His divine kingdom were not enough, God’s gracious work in Christ draws us even closer and makes us members of God’s household. Because we have identified ourselves with His Son by faith, God now sees us and treats us exactly as He sees and treats His Son, with infinite love.
Heavenly citizenship and family membership are not distinct roles or positions but simply different views of the same reality, because every kingdom citizen is a family member and every family member is a kingdom citizen.
If believers have no distinctions before God, they should have no distinctions among themselves. We are fellow citizens and fellow family members, equal in every spiritual way before God. If God accepts each one of us, how can we not accept each other?
Ephesians 2:20
"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone];"
The foundation of the apostle and prophets”: As important as they were, it was not them personally, but the divine revelation they taught, (which in its written form is the New Testament) as they authoritatively spoke the word of God to the church before the completion of the New Testament, that provided the foundation, Romans 15:20.
Because the Greek genitive case appears to be used in the subjective sense, signifying the originating agency, the meaning is not that the apostles and prophets were themselves the foundation – though in a certain sense they were – but that they laid the foundation. Paul spoke of himself as “a wise master builder” who “laid a foundation” and went on to say, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ”.
The unique function of these N.T. prophets was to authoritatively speak the word of God to the church in the years before the N.T. canon was complete. The fact that they are identified with the foundation reveals that they were limited to that formative period. As 4:11 show, they completed their work and gave way to “evangelist, and … pastors and teachers.”
Corner stone”: This stone set the foundation and squared the building. The corner stone of the foundation is Christ Jesus Himself (see Isaiah 28:16; Psalms 118:22; Matthew 21:42 and Acts 4:11. A cornerstone was the major structural part of ancient buildings.
It had to be strong enough to support what was built on it, and it had to be precisely laid, because every other part of the structure was oriented to it. That is what Jesus Christ is to God’s kingdom, God’s family and God’s building.
The stone that the builders rejected was Jesus Christ. He became the Cornerstone, and we are the lively stones that build upon that cornerstone.
1 Peter 2:5 "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
The apostles and prophets have laid the foundation for this building. Jesus is the cornerstone. We Christians are building this spiritual temple {house}.
Through Isaiah God declared, “Behold I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed” (Isa. 28:16). After quoting that passage, Peter says, “This precious value, then, is for you who believe … you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1 Peter 2:7, 9).
Ephesians 2:21
"In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:"
This verse refers to the careful joining of every component of a piece of furniture, wall, building, or other structure. Every part is precisely cut to fit snugly, strongly and beautifully with every other part. Nothing is out of place, defective, misshapen or inappropriate. Because it is Christ’s building, the church is perfect, spotless, without defect or blemish. And that is how He will one day present the church, His own holy temple, to Himself, Eph. 5:27.
A holy temple in the Lord”: Every new believer is a new stone in Christ’s temple, the church, Christ’s body of believers. Christ’s building of His church will not be complete until every person who will believe in Him has done so, (2 Peter 3:9).
Paraphrased, this verse would read, “By whom the whole building, being carefully and harmoniously joined together, raises into a holy temple for the Lord.”
Christ’s body, however, will not be complete until every person who will believe in Him has done so. Every new believer is a new stone in Christ’s building, His holy temple. Thus Paul says the temple is growing because believers are continually being added.
Fitly framed together is translated above as “being carefully and harmoniously joined together.” This implies the harmonious blending of the Jewish and Gentile believers in the church.
The "who" here, of course, is Christ? The apostle Paul, here, is trying to make these Ephesians understand that each Christian {whether Jew or Gentile} framed together make up the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the cornerstone that brings the building together.
The church is made up of many members. Those members have one head {Jesus Christ}. We are to grow into the temple holy, acceptable unto God. The church that Jesus is the head of is righteous, because we have taken on the righteousness of Christ. We are in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:22
"In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."
A dwelling of God in the Spirit”: The term for “dwelling” connotes a permanent home. God the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in His earthly sanctuary, the church, the vast spiritual body of all the redeemed (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 6:16)
Ye also” in Greek is emphatic. It stresses that Christian Gentiles, as well as their Jewish counterparts, are part of the church. Christians are viewed as a habitation or dwelling place in which God lives through His Holy Spirit.
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is the habitation of God. We Christians are the church of God. We are the habitation of God on this earth.
Revelation 21:3 "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God."
John 14:17 "[Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
Through the blood, the suffering flesh, the cross, and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, aliens become citizens, strangers become family, idolaters become the temple of the true God, the hopeless inherit the promises of God, those without Christ become one in Christ, those far off are brought near, and the godless are reconciled to God. Therein is the reconciliation of men to God and of men to men.

Philippians Chapter 1 Part One

Philippians 1:1
" Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:"
Paul has a much more personal approach to this church than to the church in Galatia, Ephesus, or the church at Corinth. For some reason, he felt more at ease and personal with these Christians than with any of the others.
All formality was dropped in this letter. This does not mean that Timothy wrote this letter, but that Timothy was in agreement. One notable variation here is that Paul included Timothy’s name because Timothy was an important gospel coworker in and around Philippi and a trusted corroborating witness to the truths Paul expounded.
Notice, they have recognized their position with Jesus Christ as His servants. Paul is saying, in this, that he is free of sin, but servant, or slave to Christ. This denotes a willing slave who was happily and loyally linked to his master.
I Corinthians 7:22 "For he that is called in the Lord, [being] a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, [being] free, is Christ's servant."
The letter is written to all saints or believers in Christ at Philippi. It seems that they had set up an order in the church of bishops and deacons at this time. "Bishops" (referred to as overseers) overlooked the spiritual aspect of the church as elders do today, but "deacons" had the job of looking to the financial needs of the church.
An overseer is a term used to emphasize the leadership responsibilities of those who are elders, who are also called pastors and bishops. These are the leaders having the spiritual oversight of a local church. Their duty is to nurture, protect and care for the flock of God.
All three terms are used in the New Testament to describe the same men. Deacons literally mean “those who serve” who are church officials whose responsibilities were mainly administrative in nature.
Philippians 1:2
"Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and [from] the Lord Jesus Christ."
This benediction that Paul begins with in his letters let us know beyond a shadow of doubt that this is a Pauline letter. Paul’s standard greeting reminded the believers of their relationship to God.
Grace, of course, is unmerited favor. When this grace is applied by God to our lives, it brings perfect peace.
The salvation plan was from the foundation of the earth. The Father, Word, and Holy Ghost were all in on the planning from the beginning. The Word took on the form of flesh and saved us. He tore the veil in the temple from the top to the bottom and opened the way directly to the Father for us.
You might say that Jesus, with His crucified body, and shed blood, reconciled us to the Father. In fact, Jesus paid the price for us to be sons of God.
Philippians 1:3
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,"
Paul is like a loving parent to these people who came to the Lord through his ministry. He is so pleased with the results from this church that every time he thinks about it, is pleasant to him. Paul’s letters usually included such commendation.
Philippians 1:4
"Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,"
The Greek word for “prayer” denotes a petition for or a request made on behalf of, someone else. Paul is saying that, it is no chore to pray for them. He has only pleasant thoughts of them. His heart is full of joy when he thinks of their relationship with God.
Philippians 1:5
"For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;"
Paul is thanking God for their desire to help spread the gospel. It appears that this enthusiasm for the gospel was from the very first. We will see as we go on, that Lydia insisted on Paul using her house as a place of ministry immediately after she first met Paul. At her conversion, she opened her home to Paul and his evangelistic team (Acts 16:14-15) and her home later became a church (Acts 16:40).
It is wonderful to be able to fellowship with Christian friends, but to fellowship in the gospel means that they studied of God when they were together. They shared in the Word of God and in the work of God.
Philippians 1:6
"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:"
This is a reference to salvation itself. When God begins a work of salvation in a person, He finishes and perfects that work. Thus the verb “will perform (meaning perfect) points to the eternal security of the Christian.
The phrase “day of Jesus Christ” is not to be confused with “Day of the Lord”, which describes final divine judgment and wrath. (Isa. 13:9; Joel 1:15; 2:11; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10) Day of Christ Jesus” is also called the “day of Christ” v.10; 2:16) and the “day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8), which looks to the final salvation, reward, and glorification of believers. (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 4:5; 2Cor. 5:9-10)
God works through those He has called. God will not call you to do any job that He does not equip you to do. The anointing of God on you to do a specific job is never taken away. God will not leave you half way through the job.
Romans 11:29 "For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance."
We see in this, that the call of God never goes away. If He called you to do a job, the call is still there until the day you die. He will stay with you through thick and thin and give you whatever strength you need to complete the job.
God never turns away from us. Sometimes we give up and turn away from Him. The day of Jesus Christ is the day we die, or are carried away into heaven.
We will find all through the years of work for the Lord that all He wants for us is our willingness to use the ability that He gives us to His glory.
Philippians 1:7
"Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace."
The meaning of the word “meet” is right. “In my heart” is a common biblical word used to describe the center of thought and feeling. The words “dense and confirmation are two judicial terms referring either to the first phase of Paul’s trial in Rome in which he defended his gospel ministry or in a general sense to his continual defense of the faith, which was the heart of his ministry.
Paul loved the church at Philippi. He knew that they believed as he did. He knew that God had given him grace to suffer imprisonment and, also, to preach the gospel in whatever circumstance he found himself.
Paul, also, knew that these Philippians were full of that same grace. He had every confidence in them that they would live in the grace of God as he had taught them. It was pleasant for Paul to think of them, because he knew they were sincere in their belief.
He knew that some small problem that might arise would not stop them from following the Lord Jesus. He felt their love for him and for the Lord, even while he was in chains.
Philippians 1:8
"For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ."
Bowls in Greek refers to the nobler human entrails or organs; the heart, liver and lungs. By a figure of speech one word “bowels” is changed for another, love, only remotely connected with it; that is, as a man’s entrails are located deep within his body, so his strongest passions (e.g. love) come from deep within.
For Paul to say that he longs for the Philippians with the “entrails of Chris” is to say that he longs for them with the love of Christ. He is saying that only God knows how much he believes that they will stay with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Paul wanted them to do as the Scripture says.
Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
To truly be a believer in Christ, then or now, we must let Christ live in us.
Philippians 1:9
"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and [in] all judgment;"
In knowledge” is from the Greek word that describes genuine, full, or advanced knowledge. Biblical love is not an empty sentimentalism but is anchored deeply in the truth of Scripture and regulated by it.
Judgment here is speaking of discernment. The English word “aesthetic” comes from this Greek word, which speaks of moral perception, insight and the practical application of knowledge. Love is not blind, but perceptive and it carefully scrutinizes to distinguish between right and wrong.
Paul's prayer for them was that the more they learned of Jesus, the more they would love Him. The more any of us learn about the Lord Jesus Christ, the more we love Him. We love Him more, because we understand more and more just exactly what He did for each of us.
If you really want to appreciate the great sacrifice that Jesus made for each of us, study the lessons on the sacrifices in Leviticus.
Philippians 1:10
"That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;"
Things that are excellent” means “things that really matter.” This refers to important issues. As the Philippians’ love increases in knowledge and discernment, v.9, they will be able to accurately distinguish the vital and worthwhile things in life from those that are not.
Contextually, the readers’ love for Paul vexes them as they are anxious over his imprisonment. He wants them to perceive his imprisonment as being among those “things that really matter” because of the good that God will bring out of it. The purpose for such discrimination is that ye may be sincere or, morally pure, and without offense till the day of Christ.
This, of course, is the desire of every Christian. We must conform to God's ways, not God to our ways. The only way that we can do what this Scripture and the one following says, is to stay in the Word of God and find out what the will of God is.
Romans 12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
When we study the Word of God, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will know the will of God for our lives. God wants us to have a sincere heart, and He will do the rest.
Philippians 1:11
"Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."
This verse could be translated, “Filled with the fruit that is righteousness, which comes through Jesus Christ for the purpose of glorifying and praising God.”
The believer who is pure and without offense before God, v.10, has divinely developed in him a practical “righteousness” or daily moral life that measures up to God’s standards in character and conduct. The ultimate purpose for this “righteousness” is to glorify God.
The fruit of righteousness here means that they will strive to live holy lives. The "fruit of righteousness" is what righteousness produces. That would be a holy life, without spot or wrinkle. Our righteousness is a gift from the Lord Jesus Christ. Our own righteousness without Jesus would be as filthy rags.
We must put on the righteousness of Christ to be acceptable before God. The righteousness that we are clothed with is a garment of white linen washed in the blood of Jesus. Our righteousness received from Jesus glorifies the Father.
Look, with me, just how this fruit comes. Look with me and see what Jesus says about the fruit.
John 15:2 "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."
The “purgeth it ” in v.2 is saying that God removes all thing in the believer’s life what would hinder fruit bearing, i.e., He chastises to cut away sin and hindrances that would drain spiritual life just as the farmer removes anything on the branches that keep them from bearing maximum fruit.
John 15:4-5 "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." "I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
John 15:8 "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."
Philippians 1:12
"But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things [which happened] unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;"
Paul tells the readers that his imprisonment has occurred for the purpose of furthering or spreading the gospel. The word “rather” suggests that the Philippians were anticipating the reception of bad news as a result of Paul’s captivity. He informs them rather to the contrary.
In His wisdom and sovereignty God has deliberately designed His servant’s present circumstances, as undesirable as they may be, for the gospel’s benefit. Two positive results of Paul’s imprisonment are given in verses 13 and14;
(1) Caesar’s palace learned the gospel from him, v.13; and (2) many Roman Christians were stirred to preach the gospel during his bondage, v.14.
Paul reminds them here, that they are not to grieve about what happens to him. Everything that happened to him is for a reason. The reason is to further the gospel of Jesus Christ. It really seemed the greater the persecution, the more the church grew.
Paul had chosen to walk this road. The Lord had told Paul that He would show him what great things he would suffer for the gospel. Even today, it seems the church is the strongest where it is forbidden.
Philippians 1:13
"So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other [places];"
This verse is better translated, “So that my imprisonment has been recognized as being because of my commitment to Christ, in all the palace and in all other places.” All eventually realized that Paul was no criminal, but an evangelist with a pure and blameless life. They also perceived that his incarceration was caused by no crime on his part, but because he was representing the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection.
This palace has been defined as Praetorian Guard or governor’s palace. The Greek word praetorian can denote either a special building (e.g., a commander’s headquarters, the emperor’s palace) or the group of men in the Imperial guard.
Because Paul was in a private house in Rome, “praetorian guard” probably refers to the members of the Imperial guard who guarded Paul day and night. “Others” meaning those in the city of Rome, who met and heard Paul.
Paul was proud to be chained in the palace for Jesus. Many were convinced of the reality of Christ by Paul being so willing to suffer for Him. Many received Christ as their Savior while Paul was under arrest.
Philippians 1:14
"And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."
Waxing confident means “depending on.” The whole verse could be rendered, “And the majority of the brethren, depending on the Lord, because of my imprisonment have much more courage to speak the word fearlessly.”
The Roman believers were aroused by Paul’s bonds and, relying upon the Lord for enablement, were more courageous that before to spread the gospel in and around Rome. The whole church, thus stirred, did more in spreading the Good News that Paul could have done by himself had he not been in jail.
It seemed that the strength Paul showed in chains gave the other brethren more confidence. They felt if Paul loved the Lord enough to suffer imprisonment for Him, they could, too. It was as if he were the example of what all believers should be willing to go through, if necessary, for Christ.
Paul’s example of powerful witness to the gospel as a prisoner demonstrated God’s faithfulness to His persecuted children and that their imprisonment would not halt the progress of the gospel. This encouraged others to be bold and not fear imprisonment.