READ the Text. If you have ever taken the time to read about the planting of the church at Philippi in Acts 16:11-40, you realize that Paul spent very little time there before he was asked to leave town. So it seems only normal that Paul would wonder about these brethren and their walk with the Lord. Were they glorifying Christ in their lives? Would they remain united as one body? Would they stand fast in the face of opposition?
As we noted in our previous lesson, Paul has realized that he will be released from his imprisonment in Rome. But when, he did not know. Meanwhile he has a great concern for their faithfulness. So in 1:27-30, Paul tells them about the expected conduct of the believer.
In any and every circumstance they must "let their conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Christ." The Greek word for conduct is "polis", it means "as a citizen of". In 3:20 Paul also reminds them, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." The Christian is held to a higher standard of conduct than the citizens of the world. That standard is revealed to us in the Gospel accounts of Christ; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Here, the Lord's teachings are revealed to us as well as His conduct. Christ alone is our model. This conduct cannot be expected of the non-believer, but only those who are "born again" in Christ. (Jn. 3:3, 2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 8:5,6)
Paul also tells them in v.27, 'stand fast in one spirit, with one mind." This is a call for unity in the church. Jesus prayed to the Father in Jn. 17:20,21, for unity among all believers. However this unity must be based on God's word, the Bible. Prior to unity, Jesus had prayed, "Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth." (Jn.17:17)
The teachings of the New Testament is what we must believe and practice. Jude in Jude 3 states, "I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was, once for all delivered to the saints." The "faith" here is not what I choose to believe, but the whole body of teachings that God through His Holy Spirit gave us in the NT Scriptures. This must always be our basis for unity. A unity that is not grounded in the truth of God's word is compromise!
If the brethren in Philippi do these two things; conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, and stand united for the faith, then they will not be "terrified of their adversaries." (v.28) The word for "terrified" actually means to "alarm" or "startle". When horses are startled they turn and run away. Paul is here reminding the brethren that they cannot run away from proclaiming the truth about Christ. There will always be opposition to the truth (Jn.15:18,19). But, those who seek to "suppress the truth" will one day face the wrath of God, (Rom.1:18).
For the believer who stands fast, opposition is a proof of the believer's salvation. To those who oppose the truth, their opposition is a proof of their "perdition" (destruction) (v.28). The believer must never compromise even in the face of persecution.
In vv.29,30, Paul reminds them and us that "God grants" that we not only have faith in Christ, but that we will suffer "for His sake". The Greek word rendered "grant" literally means "gift". Suffering for Christ is a "gift". I doubt if you have ever thought about suffering for Christ as such, but the Apostles did. Read Acts 5:40-42, though beaten, the Apostles "rejoiced." Later in 3:10, Paul states that he wants to know Christ completely, including to have knowledge of "the fellowship of His sufferings." It is in this sense that suffering is a "gift from God." Because we suffer as Christ suffered we have fellowship with Him.
Paul's final thought in v.30 is an assurance that it's okay to be conflicted about suffering. Paul did not embrace suffering anymore than you and I will. Pain and humiliation are against human nature. Paul reminds them of his own conflict which some of them had witnessed while he was in Philippi. Read Acts 16:35-38. Paul was outraged that he and Silas' rights as Romans had been violated! The tone he takes with the authorities is one of indignation. Paul's point is that it is alright for us to feel conflicted about suffering. In 2 Tim. 3:12, Paul reminds us, "Yes and all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." The blessings of Christ do not come without opposition and suffering!
1. Finish this statement: "Only let your conduct be worthy of the ______________________
2. Finish this statement: "that they may be all one, as you Father _____________________
__________________________________; that they also may be one in us."
3. True or False, Paul wanted the Philippians to run from their adversaries?
4. True or False, Opposition to the faith pof the Gospel is proof of your salvation?
5. True or False, Suffering for the sake of Christ is not a gift from God?
6. True or False, A Christian should have no conflict internally about suffering for the sake of Christ?