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The Cast

Philippians 1:1-2

Email headers have the helpful habit of identifying all the people who are involved in the communication. Greek letters were like that too.

God's Family at Work

Philippians 1:3-5

Family relationships are, or should be, the strong girders around which society is built.  In a way, gospel-friends are even more significant because they enable Christ’s church to be built.  They are not just acquaintances; they are blood relatives in a dynasty that will never die!  The blood belongs to Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice brought us into His family, making us brothers and sisters with Him (Hebrews 2:11).  No wonder that Paul was thankful for the believers in Philippi. His house arrest (probably in Rome) was made easier when he remembered the love of his spiritual family.

Completion Assured

Philippians 1:6

When we have done something successfully before, we might be confident to do it again.  But when the job, journey, relationship or study course is new, how do we know that we will be able to carry on to the end? That uncertainty is magnified when we have previously had trouble or failure.  Paul suffered persecution and was writing from prison to new believers who were also facing opposition (Philippians 1:29).  None of them knew what each day would bring.  Would they let their Lord down?

Bound in a Common Purpose

Philippians 1:7-8

Real love does not stop when difficulties arise.  Despite Paul's pain at being separated from the church that had supported him the most, the first beacon of gospel light in Europe, he did not forget them.  They were not just yesterday's ministry, or a convenient means of support for the apostle and his missionary team.  They were bound to his heart like blood brothers or comrades in arms.  

Love that Builds

Philippians 1:9-11

Sentimental feelings and nice emotions can be described as love, but they are neither the essence of love nor its purpose.  True love only works when it is rooted in a full and clear understanding of the facts and is devoted to building others up in the truth (1 John 3:1-3).  Without knowing what is true, the power of love will become misdirected and fail to achieve its objective.  And this is especially necessary when it comes to loving somebody as special as God.

Opposition Builds Opportunities

Philippians 1:12-14

The Christian life is no fairy-tale of undiluted bliss!  Problems do come, and they are usually bigger than we want to deal with.  So, when difficulties arise, we usually pray for them to be removed.

Mixed Motives in Ministry

Philippians 1:15-18a

It is strange that some of God's people can pretend to love while practising hate, and even stranger that God might use them.  Paul's imprisonment in Rome had opened a whole new debate about Jesus.  Not only did it provide the church with new opportunities in personal witnessing, but Christians who were gifted to speak publicly found a new platform before an eager audience.  Although some identified themselves with the Apostle Paul and spoke out in support of him, others appeared to forget their spiritual family roots: they tried to compete against Paul, who experienced a bizarre hatred fro

Confidence and Realism

Philippians 1:18b-20

Paul is suffering in prison and being slandered by critical Christians (Philippians 1:15-18), but rejoicing is one of the great themes of this letter.  Although he rejoices that his circumstances have provoked a much wider public debate about Jesus, he is not passive and waiting for the end as a condemned man.  He wants to be released to get on with his gospel ministry in more places. But rather than longing sadly for a better tomorrow, he is rejoicing in all that God is already doing each day.  

Anticipating Life and Death

Philippians 1:21-24

Persecution brings a mixture of thoughts about the future.  Suffering's worst fear is that everything will be lost at death, and its worst delusion is that nothing in life is worthwhile anymore.  The Apostle Paul robustly contradicts both.

Working to Win

Philippians 1:25-26

Confident realism marked Paul's view of his uncertain future (Philippians 1:12-24).  He was not afraid to look at the worst, as well as the best, of what might become of his life; he was settled that whatever God allows is eternally safe.  Neither life nor death frightened him because Christ is central in both.  However, Paul knew there was much work still to do.  While not discounting the possibility that the Lord may call him home to Himself, he had been encouraged by the Holy Spirit to anticipate more gospel ministry.