Philippians - Joyful Partnership in the Gospel (January 10, 2020 version


One important point in Philippians is being joyful, for the word "joy" or "rejoice" appears 16 times. It is not merely a fair-weather joy that someone has only if everything goes well. It is an "all-weather joy" that is joyful in prison, near-fatal illness, in the face of external opposition, and in triumphs in your personal life. The book of Philippians also candidly discusses "thieves of joy".


Circumstances
should not diminish our joy (Philippians 1:12,15-18). If a fellow believer tells you she is doing pretty good under the circumstances, ask them what are they doing, living under the circumstances. Paul was writing this while imprisoned. This is a very personal letter, Paul uses the words I/me/my over 100 times.


People
should not take away our joy, as Philippians 2:2-4,14,21 and Philippians 3:2-7 show.


Things, or lack of them,
should not take away our joy. Philippians 3:19 and 4:11-12 says our joy should be constant, regardless of what we have. Also, do not think that you will be happier if you have more things.


Worries
should not take away our joy, but rather drive us to prayer, as Philippians 4:6-7 shows.


Discord
, even among believers, should not take away our joy, as Philippians 4:2-3 show.


As the New Geneva Study Bible p.1873 puts it, "Philippians rings with joy and gratitude for the way God is carrying forward His saving work among the Philippians and for the special bond that exists between Paul and his readers."


This letter emphasizes the source of Paul's joy; the words Jesus, Christ, Lord, Savior, or a combination occur 51 times according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.11 p.99.


Background on Philippi: The city was originally called "Crenides/Krenides" meaning fountains. Philip of Macedon, Alexander's father conquered it in 356 B.C. and renamed it after himself. There were gold mines near there. In 42 B.C., Marc Antony and Octavian defeated Brutus and Cassius at Philippi. Marc Antony had Roman soldiers live there. In 30 B.C. Octavian (Emperor Augustus) ordered some people in Italy to more to Philippi, while retaining their rights as Roman citizens, including not having to pay taxes, and being able to call their new land a part of Italian soil. Paul started the church there in 50 A.D. He traveled back there on his third missionary journey in 55-56 A.D.


The NIV Study Bible
p.1802 says since Philippi had too few Jews to form a synagogue, Paul does not quote the Old Testament in Philippians, as he does in Romans, 1, 2, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians.


Dating of Philippians: Paul was executed by Nero, who committed suicide in June of 68 A.D., and Philippians was probably written from Rome 59-61 A.D.. The Marcionite prolog to Philippians said it was from Rome. Some think it might be from Ephesus in 53-55 A.D., except that Paul was not imprisoned in Ephesus. A few think Paul could have written it from Caesarea. The problem with that is that Philippians 1:13 Paul was witnessing to the Praetorian guard (Caesar's bodyguard in Rome), and Paul expected that he might be released in Philippians 2:25-26. Paul was certain he was going to Rome when he was in Caesarea.


Pre-Nicene writers who quote or allude to Philippians

(Some incorrectly claim 1 Clement and Ignatius) Treatise Against Novatian (250-257 A.D.)
To Diognetus (c.130 A.D.) (allusion) Novatian (250-257 A.D.)
Polycarp (c.150 A.D.) Treatise on Rebaptism (250-257 A.D.)
Christians of Vienna and Lugdunum (177 A.D.) Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258A.D.)
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) Firmilian of Caesarea (256 A.D.)
The Muratorian Canon (170-210 A.D.) Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.)
Clement of Alexandria (193-202 A.D.) Phileas of Thmuis (martyred 306/307 A.D.)
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) Peter of Alexandria (306,285-311 A.D.)
Hippolytus (222-235/236 A.D.) Methodius (270-311/312 A.D.)
Origen (225-254 A.D.) Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.)

Writings up through 325 A.D. quote 40.8% of the 104 verses of Philippians.


Earliest manuscripts of Philippians

p46 (100-150 A.D.) Sahidic Coptic (3rd-4th century)
p19 (late 3rd century) Alexandrinus (=A) c.450 A.D.)
Sinaiticus (Si) (340-350 A.D.) Italic (4th-5th century)
Bohairic Coptic (3rd-4th century) Vulgate (4th-5th century)

Early manuscripts up through 325 A.D. quote 82.7% of the 104 verses of Philippians.


An Outline of Philippians<
Php 1:1-26 Rejoicing in all situations
Php 1:27-2:18 Encouragement to work with courage, unity and humility
Php 2:19-30 Esteeming other servants: Timothy and Epaphroditus
Php 3 Staying out of the weeds of Judaizers and easy-believism
Php 4:1-9 Standing in unity and godliness
Php 4:10-23 Thanking them for their partnership





Philippians 1 - Rejoicing in All Situations


1. In Php 1:4,18 (2 times),25,26; 2:2,17,18,19 (cheered); 3:1; 4:1,4 (2 times),4:10, Philippians can be called the epistle of joy, because Paul's joy for God, the Philippians, and the gospel was overflowing. How do we cultivate warmth and joy in our life today?



2. In Php 1:1, does using the term "bishop/overseer" show a late date for Paul's letters, as some have claimed?



3. In Php 1:1 and Col 1:2, who are the "saints" Paul is writing to? Can common Christians ignore these books?



4. In Php 1:4, Rom 1:9, and 2 Tim 1:3, did Paul really pray for people without ceasing and in every prayer he made?



5. In Php 1:5 exactly how were the Philippians partners with Paul in the Gospel?



6. In Php 1:10 and 2 Pet 3:1 what is unusual about this word for "pure"?



7. In Php 1:11, what exactly does "the fruit of righteousness" mean?



8. In Php 1:14, how did Paul being put in prison encourage other Christians?



9. In Php 1:15-18, how is it good for people to preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, not sincerely?



10. In Php 1:19 should it say "salvation" or "deliverance"?



11. In Php 1:20, why is Paul concerned about not being ashamed?



12. In Php 1:21, how was it true that "to live is Christ and to die is gain?



13. In Php 1:23 what precisely does the word "depart" mean?

 

Philippians 1:27-2:18 - Encouragement to Work with Courage, Unity, and Humility


1. In Php 1:27, how does a believer live "worthy of the gospel" vs. not?



2. In Php 1:27, should be "let your conversation be", or behave/conduct?




3. In Php 2:3-4, as Christians, what are ways we can demonstrate considering others as more important than ourselves?




4. In Php 2:6, since Christ had the form of God, how could Christ be God Himself?




5. In Php 2:6-9, exactly how did Christ empty Himself?




6. In Php 2:6-11, was this an early Christian hymn instead of originally being written by Paul?




7. In Php 2:10, why will every knee bow to Jesus?



8. In Php 2:12, why was Paul distinguishing between obeying in his presence versus obeying in his absence?



9. In Php 2:12-13, since we are saved by grace through faith, how do we work out our own salvation?



10. In Php 2:14, are we really never supposed to murmur or complain about anything?



11. In Php 2:14, how do you counsel a Christian who is always negative and complains a lot?



12. In Php 2:15, how do Christians shine as stars?



13. In Php 2:15-16, how and for whom are Christians supposed to shine?

 

Philippians 2:19-2:30 - Encouragement and Other Christians


1. In Php 2:19, since Paul had the joy of the Lord, what role is there for the encouragement of others?




2. In Php 2:20-21, since all sought their own good, not Jesus', why did Paul thank God for them in Php 1:3?



3. In Php 2:21, what does it mean to be self-centered, and how can we avoid being that?



4. In Php 2:21, how can we / do we work with Christians who are self-centered?




5. In Php 2:25, what is significant about Epaphroditus here?




6. In Php 2:25, since Paul could heal, why couldn't he heal Epaphroditus, who almost died?




7. In Php 2:27-28, why was Paul anxious, since Paul said do not be anxious about anything in Php 4:6-7?




8. In Php 2:27-28, why was Paul anxious about Epaphroditus' serious illness, since Paul said to live is Christ and to die is gain in Php 1:21-23?




9. In Php 2:29 of course we are supposed to honor God, but how are we also supposed to honor exemplary believers for their service?




10. In Php 2:29, what are the limits to honoring others for their service?




11. In Php 2:30, why did Paul seem negative toward the Philippians here, saying "to make up for the help you could not give me"?

 

Philippians 3 - Stay out of the Weeds


1. In Php 3:1, is there a change in writing style that indicates a second letter by a second author?



2. In Php 3:1, why did Paul emphasize joy here?




3. In Php 3:2, why does Paul call some Judaizers "dogs" since we are not to judge others in Mt 7:12-5?



4. In Php 3:7-8, what rights do we have as a Christian?




5. In Php 3:8 should the word here be "rubbish" or "dung"?




6. In Php 3:8, why have some lost the drive simply "to know Christ??



7. In Php 3:10, did Paul think he might miss the first resurrection?



8. In Php 3:4-11, how can having a natural advantage become a liability?



9. In Php 3:15, are some Christians perfect?



10. In Php 3:15, why are some Christians adept as seeing others' financial needs, and others are blind to that?



11. In Php 3:17, Php 4:9, and 1 Cor 11:1, since we are to follow Paul's example, does that justify authoritarian leadership?



12. In Php 3:18, how could people in church live as "enemies of the cross of Christ?"



13. In Php 3:18, who are people who live as enemies of the cross of Christ?



14. In Php 3:20, was Paul calling Jesus our Savior borrowing a title from pagan sources?

 

Philippians 4 - Standing Together Thankful in the Lord


1. In Php 4:1, what does this word "crown" mean?




2. In Php 4:2-3, what do you do with fellow believers that you either have trouble getting along with, or else they have trouble getting along with you?



3. In Php 4:3, who is "Syzygus", or "yokefellow"?




4. In Php 4:4, should Christians rejoice, since Jesus said those who mourn are blessed in Mt 5:4?




5. In Php 4:5, how was the Lord near 2,000 years ago?



6. In Php 4:6-7, how does the peace of God help when we are anxious?




7. In Php 4:8, what are some things in society today that lead people to the opposite of what this verse says?




8. What does Php 4:16-18 teach us about giving?




9. In Php 4:10,20 people would see Paul as anything but stoic. How can we appear less stoic to others?




10. In Php 4:11, with so much going on in the world that we might be missing out on, how can we learn to be content in Christ?




11. In Php 4:19, does God really meet all our needs, such as when Paul went hungry in Php 4:12?



12. In Php 4:22, who exactly comprised Caesar's household?

 

Philippians 1:1-26 - Rejoicing in All Situations - some brief answers



1. In Php 1:4,18 (2 times),25,26; 2:2,17,18,19 (cheered); 3:1; 4:1,4 (2 times),4:10, Philippians can be called the epistle of joy, because Paul's joy for God, the Philippians, and the gospel was overflowing. How do we cultivate warmth and joy in our life today?
A: Paul cared about the heart of God, how Paul could please and honor Him. God's glory and work on earth was more important to Paul than Paul's comfort, convenience, or even life. Paul's joy was in seeing God glorified, and often that was by people turning to God for salvation.
God and His children were often in Paul's thoughts. Paul joy was not "geographical" his joy was with Paul everywhere, even while in prison. Paul knew he had a purpose in life much, much greater than himself. Do you?


2. In Php 1:1, does using the term "bishop/overseer" show a late date for Paul's letters, as some have claimed?
A: No, because according to the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.441, the community at Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were found, prior to Christ also had the office of bishop/overseer. Paul was appointing bishops/overseers in Acts 14:23. In Acts 20:28 Paul addressed the bishops of Ephesus. 1 Peter 5:2 also addresses the bishops/overseers.


3. In Php 1:1 and Col 1:2, who are the "saints" Paul is writing to? Can common Christians ignore these books?
A: The Biblical use of "saints" or "set-apart ones", means all believers. See The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.184 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1959-1960 for more info.


4. In Php 1:4, Rom 1:9, and 2 Tim 1:3, did Paul really pray for people without ceasing and in every prayer he made?
A: He probably prayed for God's people in every prayer for them, which is what this means.


5. In Php 1:5 exactly how were the Philippians partners with Paul in the Gospel?
A: The Greek word for partner here, koinonia, is a business word. Scripture does not explicitly say how they were partners, but as a business partner shares in monetary investment, time, and rewards, Scripture suggests three things:
Financial giving:
The city of Philippi was in Macedonia, and the Macedonian churches were very generous, according to 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. Paul says the Philippian church in particular supplied Paul again and again in Philippians 4:15-18.
Time and people:
Epaphroditus, Euodia, Syntyche, Szygygus, Clement and others joined in serving with Paul in Philippians 3:25; 4:2-3.
Rewards:
The Philippians, like Paul, could look forward to their citizenship in heaven and future transformation in Philippians 3:20-21. In addition, Paul considered the Philippian believers part of his reward, his crown in Heaven in Philippians 4:1.


6. In Php 1:10 and 2 Pet 3:1 what is unusual about this word for "pure"?
A: This particular word for pure, eilikrinesis, is used only in these two places in the Bible. It comes from the words "sun" and "judge". In other words, everything done can stand the scrutiny of others by the light of day. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.650 for more info.


7. In Php 1:11, what exactly does "the fruit of righteousness" mean?
A: This is an unusual expression. The only other place is Amos 6:12, though Hebrews 12:11 and James 3:18 have "harvest of righteousness". The fruit of righteousness has at least three aspects.
Internal Character:
Righteous living helps grow a righteous heart. The fruit of the spirit is listed in Galatians 5:22-23.
External Results:
The fruit of righteousness of course includes righteous actions and lack of wicked actions, but it includes more benefits than that. It includes freedom from fear of someone discovering what you did or did not do, and it helps in building trust and close friendships with others. If we live as children of the light (Ephesians 5:8), we do not have to worry about the light shining upon our lives.
Praise to God:
The righteous heart and righteous actions of a believer please God and glorify Him. Despite whatever background we had, despite whatever temptations we have today, and despite any worries about our future, our righteousness is a testimony that angels, demons, and God can see. Our righteousness should not become a snare to us, by puffing up our pride or by us thinking we merit anything toward salvation. But our knowledge that we are pleasing God should be an encouragement to us.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 11 p.108-109 for more info.


8. In Php 1:14, how did Paul being put in prison encourage other Christians?
A: Paul did not say they were just encouraged, or that good Christians were happy to see Paul suffer. Rather, they were encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. Many times Christians do not see an urgency to fulfill their role in spreading the gospel when someone else is around to do a good job.


9. In Php 1:15-18, how is it good for people to preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, not sincerely?
A: Preaching from wrong motives is not as good as preaching from right ones. This is Christian service to God in the energy of the flesh. But having the true Gospel correctly preached from wrong motives is better than not having it preached.


10. In Php 1:19 should it say "salvation" or "deliverance"?
A: The context in this passage is deliverance in this life, not salvation in heaven. The Greek word (soteria 4991) can mean salvation or also deliverance. This same word is also used in Luke 1:60,77; 19:9; John 4:22; 4:12 (salvation/deliverance in no one else), Acts 13:26,47; 16:17; Rom 1:16; 10:10; 11:11; 13:11; 2 Cor 1:6,2; 7:10; Eph 1:13; Php 1:28; 2:12; 1 Th 5:8,9; 2 Thess 2:13; 2 Tim 2:10; 3:15; Heb 1:14; 2:3; 2:10; 5:9; 6:9; 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5,9,10; 2 Pet 3:13; Jude 3; Rev 7:10; 12:10; 19:1
Williams has "spiritual welfare" with a footnote saying "Grk., salvation (in general sense)."


11. In Php 1:20, why is Paul concerned about not being ashamed?
A: Paul was saying that he hoped that his courage and bravery would not fail him when he underwent sufferings and possibly death for Christ.


12. In Php 1:21, how was it true that "to live is Christ and to die is gain?
A: Paul was remarking that he was in a win-win situation. If he died, he would gain by going to Heaven and seeing Jesus. As 2 Corinthians 5:8 shows, to be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord.
However, if Paul did remain alive on this earth, Paul would still be able to continue in fruitful ministry and help others, and Philippians 1:22-24 and Romans 1:11-12 show.


p align="left">13. In Php 1:23 what precisely does the word "depart" mean?
A: This Greek word was used by sailors for setting sail. A Christian dying can be thought of as "setting sail" for home. This word was also used by farmers for unyoking an ox. Christians are unyoked from their labor and struggles on earth when they die.


Philippians 1:27-2:18 - Encouragement to Work with Courage, Unity, and Humility - some brief answers


1. In Php 1:27, how does a believer live "worthy of the gospel" vs. not?
A: Jesus paid the full price for our sins, but some Christians have come to life in such as way as though they are still in their sins. In the end they will be ashamed. If everyone knew you were a Christian, and everyone knew that what you were doing, would you be happy with your witness?


2. In Php 1:27, should be "let your conversation be", or behave/conduct?
A: This Greek word politeuomai (Strong's Concordance 4176) is actually rather complex to translate as one word. It means to behave as a citizen. Wuest translates this as "recognize your responsibility as citizens [of heaven]". Williams translation has "practice living lives"


3. In Php 2:3-4, as Christians, what are ways we can demonstrate considering others as more important than ourselves?
A: First you can do small things, like waiting for others, slowing down to walk at the same pace as others, and holding the door open for others. Whether you are a guy holding a door open for a girl, or a girl holding a door open for a guy, it makes no difference; we are all one in Christ.


More important are other things like listening to others, no interrupting others, and focusing on listening to others so you will remember what they said.
In addition, you can do bigger, sacrificial things such as give up your position for them, and share with them your time and money. Drive them around if they have a need for that.
In an ideal society, people should be friends with others, and seen with others regardless of their culture, race or ethnic background, financial status, money, or among teens "coolness". But don't forget, we don't yet live in an ideal society, because we are not in heaven yet. But as a demonstration of a foretaste of heaven, and the love we have for each other now, be with them, sit with them, and let others see that you are with them. When you go to a gathering you should never be concerned about with you don't have anyone to sit with. Rather. You should look for the people who are alone, or that others might not want to sit with, and make an effort to sit with them and get to know them.
Remember that Jesus said that he would be great among them must be a servant in Matthew 20:26 and Mark 10:43.


4. In Php 2:6, since Christ had the form of God, how could Christ be God Himself?
A: The word "form" also means nature. Philippians 2:10 is a paraphrase of Isaiah 45:10, except that Isaiah refers to Yahweh.
Jesus is not God the Father, but as part of the Trinity, Jesus is our God (John 20:28), is called God (Hebrews 1:9), and is worshipped as God (Hebrews 1:6). He has the fullness of God (Colossians 1:9), of which Jesus needed to by His own power empty Himself. See When Critics Ask p.481 for more info.


5. In Php 2:6-9, exactly how did Christ empty Himself?
A: An earthly prince can take off his jewels and royal robes, dress as a beggar, and go out into the streets. The prince, without his trappings, is still the prince, though.
This verse only specifically says that Christ voluntarily lowered Himself and did what He needed to become a human, it did not say how. Christ asked the Father to restore to Him to glory He had before the world began in John 17:5. Jesus was still God while He was one earth (Hebrews 1:8-9; John 1:1 + Hebrews 13:8) and worthy of the same honor and worship (John 5:22-23; 9:39).
The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.101-102 says Christ did not "give up" any divine attributes, but merely had a "voluntary nonuse" of some divine attributes. Other Christians disagree and say Christ "gave up" some of the secondary divine attributes, but not in any way that no longer made Jesus God. Either way, the fact remains that He was both God and human. Now That's a Good Question p.42-43 gives a brief theological history of this issue and emphasizes that God the Son never stopped being God. When Critics Ask p.481 also points out that Jesus was still God, but He emptied Himself of His rights as deity. See also 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.25 for more info.


6. In Php 2:6-11, was this an early Christian hymn instead of originally being written by Paul?
A: While there is no external evidence of this being an early Christian hymn, the poetic cadence does suggest this. Regardless of whether Paul originated this or copied this from a hymn, it was still written in the Book of Philippians under Paul's authority.
The New International Bible Commentary p.1444 and Millard J. Erickson's Christian Theology p.689 says the opinion that this was an Aramaic hymn goes back to Ernst Loymeyer (wrote 1912-1946). However, Erickson points out that there is no agreement on how to divide the passage into stanzas (unlike Psalms). Whether or not it is a hymn does not affect its meanings, for "interpretation cannot be governed by form."


7. In Php 2:10, why will every knee bow to Jesus?
A: This is a very similar thought as Isaiah 45:23-24, where God swears that every knee will bow to the LORD. Jesus is not just the hope of the world, He is the only hope of the entire world. This will likely occur at the time of the Great White Throne Judgment. This verse also shows that by the time this occurs, everyone will have heard the Gospel.


8. In Php 2:12, why was Paul distinguishing between obeying in his presence versus obeying in his absence?
A: Then as well as now, some people obey well only when their leader or boss is watching them. Paul is commending them for their consistency, in obeying well regardless of whether Paul was there or not. Someone once said that "character" is who you are when no one is looking. Of course, at all times God is looking.
A friend of mine from Mainland China thought long and hard about the following before he became a Christian. If there were no God, why shouldn't you get away with everything you can when nobody is watching? Unfortunately, I fear that others have thought about this question too, believed there was no God, and ' well, frequent financial fraud and high crime rates tell the rest of the story.


9. In Php 2:12-13, since we are saved by grace through faith, how do we work out our own salvation?
A: We do not get saved through our own work. However, the fruit, or outworking of our salvation, is a combination of us working and God working in us. See the discussion on Ephesians 2:5-8 and James 2:14-25. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.645-647 for more info.


10. In Php 2:14, are we really never supposed to murmur or complain about anything?
A: As Paul suggested in Philippians 4:9, we need to look to Paul's example. Paul never murmured, complained, or did any useless griping. On occasion, though, Paul did forcefully bring up shortcomings in order to show people how they needed to change, though.


11. In Php 2:14, how do you counsel a Christian who is always negative and complains a lot?
A: Being a grumbler is very serious to God, as the Israelites learned in the book of Exodus. What kind of encouragement does it give to others when you complain about serving or obeying God? We should not just obey, but obey cheerfully. That is true in our service to God, but if you also practice with your boss at work things likely will go better for you there too.


12. In Php 2:15, how do Christians shine as stars?
A: On earth our righteousness and character shines against the blackness of the society. In heaven, those who are wise will shine like the heavens, and those who lead many to the truth will shine like stars forever and ever, according to Daniel 12:3. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.195-196 for more info.


13. In Php 2:15-16, how and for whom are Christians supposed to shine?
A: Like a star shines regardless of the audience, we are to show forth our character regardless of who on earth is watching. But, God is always watching and the angels and demons are likely watching too. So, go out and do what you feel like doing. Just remember who is watching, and to whom you will have to give account.

 

Philippians 2:19-2:30 - Encouragement and Other Christians - some brief answers


1. In Php 2:19, since Paul had the joy of the Lord, what role is there for the encouragement of others?
A: There is a large role, in us obeying the command to encourage others in 1 Thessalonians 5:14. All Christians, not just Christian leaders, are commanded to encourage each other daily in Hebrews 3:13 and 10:25. Philippians 2:1 indicates that we have our encouragement from being united with Christ. From that we should mutually encourage others.


2. In Php 2:20-21, since all sought their own good, not Jesus', why did Paul thank God for them in Php 1:3?
A: He knew of no other candidates for his team who had the degree of concern for others that Timothy had. Everyone has sins of selfishness to some degree, but despite our faults and sins, we can still thank God for each other, imperfect though we are.


3. In Php 2:21, what does it mean to be self-centered, and how can we avoid being that?
A: As a pop star sang about just being a "material girl" some people, both men and women, just care about the money, excitement, and pleasure of life, and don't really care about others, except as means to those self-centered ends. But your universe is too small if you are the only significant person in it. You are not the center of the universe; God is! Our purpose is to be supporting actors, supporting the star of the show: God. Look to God, draw close to Him, and you will forget about your ambitions and put God as number 1.
Something that was probably unintentional here is that Paul was so joyful about Timothy, so concerned about the Philippians, and so relieved about Epaphroditus still being alive. If someone had reminded Paul that he himself was in a dark prison, possibly facing execution himself, Paul might have said, "Oh yea, I almost forgot about that!"
A side-effect of praying for others is that you will have a more balanced perspective about yourself.


4. In Php 2:21, how can we / do we work with Christians who are self-centered?
A: With patience and prayer. Many people, when they first come to Christ, still have a lot of self-centeredness. Rather than condemning them, we must realize that God is not finished with them yet. But perhaps God could use us, and our example, to help them become Christ-centered instead of self-centered. Show them how to look beyond themselves, to God and greater things.
When we were first Christians, and perhaps sometimes even now, we were self-centered, and God was patient with us. Since God who is perfect is so patient with us, it is a small thing for us to be patient with others. Be persistent in correction and encouragement over time.


5. In Php 2:25, what is significant about Epaphroditus here?
A: Epaphroditus was not addressed as a church leader, elder, or deacon. His only title in the church was "one of you". One did not have to be a leader, to come sacrificially to help others. Paul gives Epaphroditus three titles: brother, fellow worker, and soldier. These three titles are of family affection, hard work, and conflict.
As an aside, Epaphroditus' name was a common name; the secretary of Nero and later Domitian was also named Epaphroditus.
See the New International Bible Commentary p.1446 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1969 for more info.


6. In Php 2:25, since Paul could heal, why couldn't he heal Epaphroditus, who almost died?
A: Paul did not have the power to arbitrarily heal: only God has the power to heal. However, Paul was often an instrument of healing. However, God, who can do things as He chooses, chose not to immediately heal Epaphroditus. For that matter, Paul himself was sick when he spoke to the Galatians. Epaphroditus almost died of illness because he was serving Christ. As the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1970 says, "it is better to burn out for Christ than to rust out." See the discussion on Galatians 4:13 and When Critics Ask p.481-482 for more info.


7. In Php 2:27-28, why was Paul anxious, since Paul said do not be anxious about anything in Php 4:6-7?
A: Paul never claimed to be sinlessly perfect, and he was honestly expressing his own feelings in Philippians 2:27-28. We are to follow Paul's example only as he follows Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). But as Paul found, if worrying is your disease, then praying to God is your cure.
The Greek word for anxious in Philippians 2:20 (merimnao) is used nineteen times in the New Testament. Paul uses it four times positively (1 Corinthians 7:32,34; 12:25; Philippians 2:20). Everywhere else (Matthew 6:25,27,28,31,34; Luke 10:41) etc. is in a negative sense. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 11 p.153 for more info.


8. In Php 2:27-28, why was Paul anxious about Epaphroditus' serious illness, since Paul said to live is Christ and to die is gain in Php 1:21-23?
A: Paul was not anxious for himself, but for Epaphroditus. This also shows that even apostles could not do miracles any time they wanted to. Rather, it was God working through the apostles when God wanted to.


9. In Php 2:29 of course we are supposed to honor God, but how are we also supposed to honor exemplary believers for their service?
A: We should show that we notice and appreciate their selfless hard work. Our primary purpose is to glorify God, but praising other people is OK too.


10. In Php 2:29, what are the limits to honoring others for their service?
A: When you honor and affirm others, as you should, there are two potential snares. They can be built up where they are tempted by pride and vanity. Seconds, others might be tempted to put them on a pedestal. So don't praise to the extent of tempting others, and be careful of loving too much praise for yourself.


11. In Php 2:30, why did Paul seem negative toward the Philippians here, saying "to make up for the help you could not give me"?
A: It is fine to be candid, which includes not shielding people from positive or negative things. However, this is not necessarily negative. Paul was extremely appreciative of them sending Epaphroditus to help him, and he pointed out that he knew Epaphroditus was there to give them help they could not do in person.

 

Philippians 3 - Stay out of the Weeds - some brief answers


1. In Php 3:1, is there a change in writing style that indicates a second letter by a second author?
A: No. This was suggested by form criticism, which has now been fundamentally discredited. Before answering the question, first is a fact that is not used in the answer.
Philippians 1:1
says Philippians was written by Paul and Timothy. While Paul could have written one part and Timothy the other, the change in style is not so great as to suggest this. Paul was likely the sole author.
The Answer:
There is absolutely no evidence of a different author except for a change in style. The change from encouragement to rebuke can be for a combination of three reasons.
1.
Ancient letter-writing style did not demand transitional sections as much as is required for modern formal documents.
2.
The abrupt change is due to a change in topic.
3.
Paul might have had an interruption in writing at this point. (Lightfoot first suggested this.)
4.
The Greek word here can mean "finally", "furthermore", "moreover", "in addition", or "As for the rest". 1 Thessalonians 4:1 uses the same word in the same way.
The Expositor's Bible Commentary
volume 11 p.96-96, 137-138 says that no one ever questioned the unity of Philippians until F.C. Baur (1792-1860) and the liberal Tubingen school in Germany in the nineteenth century, and that the multiple author viewpoint for Philippians has never been widely accepted. See The New International Bible Commentary p.1441 and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1957-1958,1970 for more info.


2. In Php 3:1, why did Paul emphasize joy here?
A: Scripture does not explicitly say, but we can see four reasons.
Look beyond the circumstances:
The Philippians could have been disappointed that Paul was imprisoned. Paul wanted them to be joyful and look to God, not Paul.
Normal for the Christian life:
A Christian's life is to be full of joy, regardless of the circumstances.
For strength:
David said "the joy of the Lord is my strength." By realizing and rejoicing in our relationship with God, we can have perseverance to face the trials and temptations of the world, and not be swayed by success in this world.
For encouraging others to press on with Christ:
It is hard to be a light for others when you are glum and depressed yourself.


3. In Php 3:2, why does Paul call some Judaizers "dogs" since we are not to judge others in Mt 7:12-15?
A: Paul was not judging their eternal state (reprobate or elect), but his name-calling was a severe rebuke of people who were similar to what he himself once was. The Jews sometimes called Gentiles dogs. Paul here was turning the tables on them.
The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 11 p.144 says the Greek language has two words for dog: kynarion means house dog or pet, and kuon, the word used here, means outside dog or a dog of the streets.


4. In Php 3:7-8, what rights do we have as a Christian?
A: We have been given the right to be children of God. All of our use or non-use of rights operate under that. First, here are some hard-and-fast rules, and then general guidelines about defending our rights vs. turning the other cheek.
Hard-and-fast rules
1.
The fact that we have a right does not mean we have to exercise it. Paul chose not to exercise the right to take money for preaching the word (1 Corinthians 9:6) or have a believing wife (1 Corinthians 9:5).
2.
Sometimes exercising of political rights is OK, as Paul did in Philippi (Acts 16:37-40), in avoiding a flogging (Acts 22:25-29), and in appealing to Caesar (Acts 25:10-12).
3.
We do not have the right to sue other believers (1 Corinthians 6:1-8).
4.
We do have the right to have disputes with other Christians to be arbitrated by other Christians (1 Corinthians 16:1-8).
5.
We do not have the right to try get revenge (Romans 12:19-21; Deuteronomy 32:35).
6.
We do not have the right to hold a grudge (Ephesians 4:26-27).
7.
We do not have the right to defend ourselves in ways that disobey God (Ephesians 5:11-12). We do not have the right to do things outside of the law (Romans 13:1-7).
General Guidelines

In some cases, Paul defended his rights for the sake of the Gospel, and Jeremiah 22:15-16 shows we are to defend the rights of the oppressed. A person's first natural impulse is to get mad or get even. However, Jesus also said to turn the other cheek (Luke 6:29).
Choosing when to defend our rights and when not to, should be done in the context of whatever is best for achieving our ultimate goal. But what is our ultimate goal? It should not be protecting our turf (i.e. territory) or increasing our wealth or power. Rather, our ultimate goal is to glorify God. So defend your rights where it will best glorify God, and turn the other cheek where it will best glorify God.
Remember, defending our rights can be fine, but when our desire to defend our rights is greater than our desire to best glorify God, our desire to defend our rights is a sin.


5. In Php 3:8 should the word here be "rubbish" or "dung"?
A: The Greek word actually means "dung" or "manure" or "food scraps". This Greek word is also used in Luke 13:8 as the fertilizer that is put around a tree to help it grow better. One does not usually put regular trash around a tree, but stinkier stuff.
Williams Translation has "refuse" which is closest to rubbish.


6. In Php 3:8, why have some lost the drive simply "to know Christ??
A: The Greek word here is not the normal word for "know". Rather it is gnonai, which means to know by experience. It is important to have knowledge of Christ, but do you also desire to spend time with Him, to know Him?
Hudson Taylor said, "There is a needs-be for us to give ourselves for the life of the world '. Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing. 'Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone.' We know how the Lord Jesus became fruitful - not by bearing His cross only, but by dying on it. Do we know much of fellowship with Him in this? There are not two Christs - an easy-going Christ for easy-going Christians, and a suffering, toiling Christ for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ. Are we willing to abide in Him and so to bear fruit?" Quoted from Believer's Bible Commentary p.1974 (quoted by Mrs. Howard Taylor in Behind the Ranges p.170.)
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.661 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.11 p.141 for more info.


7. In Php 3:10, did Paul think he might miss the first resurrection?
A: No. Paul's hope here was a certain hope, not a wishful one. Likewise, when Paul looked forward to Christ's return, that does not mean Paul was not sure if Christ would ever return. In both cases, Paul expressing his heartfelt desire should not be misconstrued to mean Paul was denying his assurance that his desire would be fulfilled. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.278-279 and Hard Sayings of the Bible p.649-650 for more info.


8. In Php 3:4-11, how can having a natural advantage become a liability?
A: Paul mentioned two types of advantages: advantages by birth, and advantages by hard work. Advantage by birth can turn into disadvantages when a person thinks they don't need to be as diligent or work so hard. Advantages by hard work, either by yourself or others, can become a liability when you think you can stop working hard. There is also the psychological self-deception called "compensation", where a person thinks that extra hard work in one area can substitute for a shortcoming in another.
But all of the preceding hinges on confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:7 has been called "the great renunciation". Paul is saying he is willing to give up any rights by birth, and even willing to renounce the benefits of his hard work, all for the sake of knowing Christ.
See The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.11 p.140, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.660, and the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1971 for more info.


9. In Php 3:15, are some Christians perfect?
A: Paul said he was not "perfect" in Philippians 3:12, yet he was "mature" in Philippians 3:15. There can be confusion in the King James, since it uses "perfect" for both, but the words are different in the Greek. See When Critics Ask p.482 and Haley's Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.169 for more info.
This is translated as "mature" in NIV, NKJV, RSV, NRSV, and Williams.
The NET Bible translates this as "perfect" but it puts the perfect in quotes.
Wuest's Expanded Translation has "mature (in a relative sense)"
uNASB has "perfect" with a footnote saying, "Or mature".


10. In Php 3:15, why are some Christians adept as seeing others' financial needs, and others are blind to that?
A: Some Christians have the gift of "helps" to see quicker other people's needs. Others might not want to look, because they don't want to be in a position where they feel they should help.
If in a church a member seems to never show up to events that might cost money, perhaps they do not have money to spare. You might politely inquire if they could use some help, and help them out financially.
Many times a church might announce a church camp, retreat, or other event that costs money, but ask people who would have trouble paying and still want to go to contact the church, and the church can give them a scholarship to help them.


11. In Php 3:17, Php 4:9, and 1 Cor 11:1, since we are to follow Paul's example, does that justify authoritarian leadership?
A: No. Three points to consider in the answer.
1.
Paul was an apostle, and we are to place his writings of Scripture as a higher authority than any leader or so-called apostle today.
2.
1 Peter 5:3-4 says that leaders are to be good examples to the flock. Presumably, we are to follow those good examples.
3.
Hebrews 3:17 says we are still supposed to obey our leaders today. However, 1 Peter 5:3-4 says that leaders are not to lord over the flock.
See When Cultists Ask p.229-230 for a more extensive answer.


12. In Php 3:18, how could people in church live as "enemies of the cross of Christ?"


A: Paul says their "destiny is destruction", so these people are not genuine believers, but people in church who are going to Hell. Paul was not saying this out of either pleasure or anger, but Paul was saying this "with tears" and sadness.


13. In Php 3:18, who are people who live as enemies of the cross of Christ?
A: Philippians 3:18 does not say enemy of God, or enemy of truth, but specifically an enemy of the cross of Christ. There can be those who had some knowledge of the cross of Christ, and either decided to oppose it or subvert and twist it. These are not necessarily pagans, because many pagans know nothing about the cross of Christ, so they could not choose to be an enemy of something they did not know. These were not primarily Judaizers because they were discussed in the previous section. Rather this warning includes professing Christians who follow easy-believism and live like they want. It says that their end is destruction.
Why did Paul have tears for them? It was because of the damage they did to the church, and the damage they did to themselves.
See the Believer's Bible Commentary p.1976 and The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.11 p.147 for more info.


14. In Php 3:20, was Paul calling Jesus our Savior borrowing a title from pagan sources?
A: No. While the Greek word here (soter) was in fact used for idol gods and human leaders, the Greek Septuagint used this word (soter) as applied to God in Psalm 24:5; 26:9; and other places. If anything, the New Testament "borrowed" this title from the Old Testament. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 11 p.149 for more info.

 

Philippians 4 - Standing Together Thankful in the Lord - some brief answers


1. In Php 4:1, what does this word "crown" mean?
A: The Greek word diadema can mean only crown, but that is not the word used here. This Greek word (stephanos) can mean either crown or wreath, as in a victory wreath given to an athlete. Thus it implies victory and reward, and not necessarily rulership. The same word is used for Jesus' crown of thorns. And it is amazing to ponder that Jesus endured crown of thorns so that we could have a crown of victory. See The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 11 p.150 for more info.


2. In Php 4:2-3, what do you do with fellow believers that you either have trouble getting along with, or else they have trouble getting along with you?
A: Everything was no perfect with the Philippians. Apparently Euodia and Syntache worked for the gospel, both even at Paul's side, yet they had trouble getting along with each other. In writing this, Paul knew this was not a brief, one-time thing, but potentially an on-going problem. Paul did not say which one was in the wrong, or if it was both of them.
Remembering that the Lord being near can effectively put our petty quarrels in proper perspective. Going forward, we can better get along with Christians we might not like, or have disagree sharply with in the past when we realize we are both servants of the same Christ. 1 John 3:10 warns us that a person who does practice righteousness, or does not love their brother, is not of God. But Christ who unites us is greater than anything that would divide us. In John 17:23 Jesus prayed for us "that they may be perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me." (NKJV)


3. In Php 4:3, who is "Syzygus", or "yokefellow"?
A: The Greek word means "yokefellow" and there are two views:
1.
The Greek word Syzygus could be a personal name. However, while Euodia and Synteche were common women's names, the name Syzygus is not elsewhere found as a name in all of the Greek literature we have.
2.
Paul could have deliberately kept unnamed someone he particularly wanted to help with the dispute between Euodias and Syntyche. Sometimes people who diplomatically bring people back together work better when the attention is not drawn to them.


4. In Php 4:4, should Christians rejoice, since Jesus said those who mourn are blessed in Mt 5:4?
A: You have to mourn and repent of your sins before you can rejoice as a child of God. Even as Christians, we mourn over things that break God's heart, but even through our mourning we rejoice in our relationship with God. When Critics Ask p.482-483 emphasizes that mourning is a condition, and our rejoicing is a result of a proper relation to God.


5. In Php 4:5, how was the Lord near 2,000 years ago?
A: Now as well as then, the Lord is near to us in not just one but three ways.
1.
Given our variations in life, we may die and meet the Lord at any time. As believers will see Jesus after our own last breath.
2.
Nobody knows the day or hour of Christ's return (Matthew 24:36), or if it is near or far away in time. Yet it is imminent in that the required preconditions of Christ's return can be fulfilled quickly.
3.
Christ is near and indwelling all believers (John 14:23; Romans 8:9)
See the discussion on 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 1 Peter 4:7, Revelation 22:6-20, When Critics Ask p.483-484, and 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.265-266, 277-278 for more info.


6. In Php 4:6-7, how does the peace of God help when we are anxious?
A: Try as hard as we might, the peace of God is not something we can get ourselves; it is something that is given. As we make our requests to God in prayer, God's peace can guard (i.e. defend) both our hearts and minds. As we dwell upon God and eternal things, our own momentary troubles can seem small.


7. In Php 4:8, what are some things in society today that lead people to the opposite of what this verse says?
A: Horror movies, and bloody movies do not seem to fall in line with this verse. Vulgar things, including vulgar comedy, also go against this verse. When we contend for the truth, natural weapons, including force, but seem tempting to use. However, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says we are only to use spiritual weapons, not natural ones.


8. What does Php 4:16-18 teach us about giving?
A: Apparently the Philippians sent Paul monetary help without Paul asking for it. At least some of the time Paul was not expecting it. Do you give money to Christian workers who need it, even if they have not asked you for it? It is sad when Christian missionaries, called to do God's work abroad, have to come home solely to raise more support.


9. In Php 4:10,20 people would see Paul as anything but stoic. How can we appear less stoic to others?
A: Are you excited and enthusiastic? Why or why not? It is hard to fake those things, so you need to find something to be excited about. What excited Paul was sharing the gospel and seeing people come to Christ. What primarily excites you? Having God's heart means, in part, to be excited by the things that excite God.


10. In Php 4:11, with so much going on in the world that we might be missing out on, how can we learn to be content in Christ?
A: Think of the major issues and controversies 40 years ago. Many of them worked out just fine, and even the ones that did not, most of us or our parents were in no position to change it. However, there are some things we can change for better, but we don't have the time to work on everything. Choose wisely how you spend your time, and focus on the more eternal or long-lasting things, not the short-term things.


11. In Php 4:19, does God really meet all our needs, such as when Paul went hungry in Php 4:12?
A: When we let Him, God does meet all our needs. Never going hungry is a want, not a need. Life is not always so rosy for Christians on this earth, as Paul noted in 1 Corinthians 15:19. However, as Romans 8:18 and 1 Peter 4:12-14, our earthly sufferings are nothing compared to our future glory.


12. In Php 4:22, who exactly comprised Caesar's household?
A: According to The Expositor's Bible Commentary volume 11 p.159, scholars have compiled lists of Caesar's household from tomb inscriptions. It included vast numbers of imperial servants and foreign slaves.
Philippians 4:21 is better translated "Greet every saint" according to The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.11 p.159. "All the saints in Rome" is the best translation for the next phrase though.



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by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.