The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
December 25, 2011
1) Philippians 1:19-27 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
by Tom Edwards
In our last installment, we closed with Paul's noble attitude to
rejoice in the truth being preached -- even when it was being done
by people with wrong motives who were seeking to bring distress to
him during his imprisonment. For Paul was more concerned
toward others hearing God's word proclaimed, rather than merely his
own personal vindication. Philippians 1:19,20 shows another
reason why Paul could have this positive and joyful outlook in spite
of his circumstances. He says, "for I know that this will turn
out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the
Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and
hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all
boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body,
whether by life or by death."
Paul believed in the power of prayer. He knew that much could
be accomplished by it and, therefore, prayed fervently for others (2
Cor. 13:9; Eph. 1:18,19; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-12; 2 Thess.
1:11,12; Phm. 1:6); and also, at times, solicited prayer from the
brethren for himself as well as for others (Eph. 6:19,20; 1 Thess.
5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1,2).
The KJV refers to these prayers as helping with Paul's
"salvation." The term "salvation" is rendered as "deliverance"
in the NASB, and is most likely referring to his deliverance out of
his imprisonment -- which he later did receive. It is from the
Greek word "soteria," which Strong defines as "rescue or safety
(physically or morally)...." Thayer also shows that it can
refer to either deliverance from things of this life or salvation in
Christ. It is the same Greek word that is used in Acts 7:25
with reference to Moses: "And he supposed that his brethren
understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but
they did not understand." Primarily, however, this word is
used in the New Testament in referring to the salvation one can have
in Christ. But it appears in Philippians 1:19 that it is
simply referring to Paul's deliverance from prison. However,
even if Paul would be put to death, he had faith in an even greater
deliverance -- one from this world which would lead to heaven.
So he could have a very positive outlook either way.
Though there were those who sought to bring distress to Paul, he
knew he would not be put shame (Phil. 1:20). For when one
lives for the Lord, always striving to do what is right, then that
one need not feel humiliated over persecution for righteousness'
sake. For example, did the apostles feel ashamed that they
were whipped and imprisoned for preaching the gospel? Not according
to Acts 5:40-42. Rather, they were "...rejoicing that they had
been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name...."
Instead of feeling disgraced, they could rejoice; because in God's
eyes they were "blessed" and had an eternal reward in heaven that
was surpassingly great (Matt. 5:11,12). (See also 1 Peter
What enabled Paul to not be put to shame, coupled with his obedience
to the gospel, was the "hope" and "earnest expectation" that he had
in his Lord (Phil. 1:20). Many very difficult things can be boldly
faced when our outlook is also filled with those positive
qualities. Consider, for instance, the great example the
Hebrew writer sets forth in Hebrews 12:1-3: "Therefore, since we
have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay
aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing
our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the
joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has
sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider
Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so
that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Various times,
the people insulted and tried to humiliate the Lord; but He knew in
His heart that He was doing right and had never committed any sin,
or anything to be ashamed of.
Rather than experiencing disgrace, Paul was filled with boldness as
he strove to always exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in his life.
This should also be true of us.
In making mention of exalting Christ in his body, "whether by life
or by death," Paul implies that at that time he did not know what
decision the court would make concerning his release. This is
also indicated in Philippians 2:23, where he states, "Therefore I
hope to send him [Timothy] immediately, as soon as I see how things
go with me." Paul, as we have seen, believed in a God who
could deliver; but, apparently, Paul did not know at that time
whether it was the Lord's will to bring him physical deliverance
from this Roman imprisonment or not; but Paul did desire to be
released and goes on to say in Philippians 2:24, "and I trust in the
Lord that I myself also shall be coming shortly." But whether
in prison or out of prison, Paul tersely sums up his life in
Philippians 1:21, by declaring, "For to me, to live is Christ and to
die is gain." Because he was living for the Lord, Paul
was able to say that "to die is gain." What a wonderful way to
be able to view death. Unfortunately, for most people today,
this is not so because they have not yet met God's conditions to
have their sins blotted out by the precious blood of Jesus and
receive the Lord's grace and mercy. However, we often hear
many people refer to those who have been racked with much pain
during this life as being better off when they pass away; but that
is not so, unless they, too, belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.
For if they are faithfully His, then Revelation 14:13 holds true for
them. It states, "And I heard a voice from heaven,
saying, 'Write, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now
on!"' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors,
for their deeds follow with them.'" "Precious in the sight of
the Lord is the death of His godly ones" (Psa. 116:15).
While Lazarus enjoyed the blissfulness of Paradise after he passed
away, the rich man who had not God in his life was in torment (Luke
16:19-31). Yes, it makes a great deal of difference of whether
we are right with God or not when we leave this world.
As we think more about Paul's own attitude toward death, consider 2
Corinthians 5:6-8: "Therefore, being always of good courage, and
knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the
Lord -- for we walk by faith, not by sight -- we are of good
courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to
be at home with the Lord." And, in view of that attitude, look
what Paul strove to do, as the next verse shows: "Therefore we also
have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to
Him" (v. 9).
As we think of death being a gain for the faithful Christian,
consider also what Jesus states in Matthew 16:25: "For whoever
wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life
for My sake shall find it." In other words, those who would
save their life are those who would deny the Lord in order to do
so. For in the early church, weak Christians could denounce
their faith, deny the Lord, and save themselves from martyrdom; but
for those who acknowledged their faith in and allegiance to Christ,
many of those were put to death. In understanding the possible
martyrdom that many of the Christians faced in the early church, we
can better understand the Lord's statement that "Everyone therefore
who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My
Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men,
I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven" (Matt.
10:32,33). Notice, too, that it is in this same context that
Jesus says, "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable
to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both
soul and body in hell" (v. 28). So back in that time,
Christians risked the loss of their physical lives by simply
confessing their faith in Christ; but Jesus gives assurance to those
In Philippians 1:22-24, we read more of Paul's attitude toward
death: "But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful
labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am
hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and
be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in
the flesh is more necessary for your sake."
The word "depart" comes from the Greek word "analuo," which has been
used in old Greek and papyri with reference to "hoisting an anchor
and putting out to sea." Death will be like a voyage,
metaphorically speaking, in which a soul will sail either to a shore
of bliss or a shore of suffering. (This word was also used
with a military connotation of "breaking up camp.")
In thinking about remaining in this earth-life or departing from it
to be with Christ, Paul speaks about being "hard-pressed from both
directions" (Phil. 1:23). The KJV translates this as "in a
strait betwixt two." For in either case, he saw advantages;
and though he viewed it as far greater to depart and be with Christ,
Paul also realized the good he could continue to do while on earth
for the cause of the Lord and that which would be, as Paul
says, "fruitful labor for me" (v. 22) and "more necessary for your
sake" (v. 24).
From this, we can also infer that man is not totally mortal or
fleshly; but that, rather, he does have an eternal, spiritual soul
that is separate from the body. For Paul knew that he could
leave the body and be with Christ. Not everyone, however,
believes that man has a soul. The Jehovah Witnesses, for
instance, believe that man is a soul; but not that he has an eternal
soul within him that is separate from the body. They,
therefore, believe in what is referred to as the "total
annihilation" of the soul. In other words, when an unsaved
person dies, there is nothing left for that person to continue
on. There is no eternal torment, no anything; for the
individual simply ceases to be. He or she has been completely
obliterated. Though "soul" is sometimes used metonymically to
refer to all of man (Gen. 2:7, KJV), it is also used to refer to
that eternal part of man that is separate from the body. This
distinction between the body and the soul can be clearly seen in
Matthew 10:28, a passage we saw earlier, where Jesus states,
"And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the
Paul then specifies at least some of what this "fruitful labor"
would be: "And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and
continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith" (Phil.
1:25). Paul's fruitful labor would involve helping the
Philippians grow in the faith and the joy of the Lord -- and that in
itself would also be a reward to Paul. For after speaking
about there being only one foundation -- and that being Jesus Christ
-- Paul goes on to say the following in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15: "Now
if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious
stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for
the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire;
and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any
man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a
reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss;
but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire." The
gold, silver, and precious stones represent those Christians who
will remain faithful -- even during persecution -- and ultimately be
eternally saved. These are also those whom the ones who
converted them to the Lord can truly rejoice in. John says, "I
have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the
truth" (3 Jn. 3:4). Paul, also, speaks of the
Thessalonians as being to him and others a hope, joy, crown of
exultation, and glory (1 Thess. 2:19,20). On the other hand,
the wood, hay, and straw represent those Christians who will fall
away. They will perish. And though the one who had
initially won them to the Lord will not also be lost just because of
their apostasy, yet he will suffer the emotional loss of those who
have fallen away. For instance, Paul says, "But I fear, lest
by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so
your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in
Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3). To the Thessalonians, Paul declares,
"...when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about
your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and
our labor should be in vain" (1 Thess. 3:5). After he then received
the good news of their faith and love, Paul was comforted and now
could "rejoice before God on your account" (v. 9).
The fact that Paul saw his remaining as being "necessary" for the
Christians, might have been in view of the false teachers that he
knew many Christians would be confronted with. For the New
Testament warns in various places of those who would teach false
doctrines and lead God's children astray.
After showing that he was convinced of the need to remain and help
build his brethren up in the faith, Paul then goes on to say the
following in Philippians 1:26, "so that your proud confidence in me
may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again." As
we have noted, Paul wrote this epistle during his first imprisonment
in Rome. The gospel does not mention Paul's returning to the
Philippians; but, I would imagine they were praying for his release
-- and not really knowing when that would be. That is
something to think about. We know that Paul's imprisonment
would be for 2 years, but it appears that these Christians would not
have known that until Paul was finally released. So they
probably kept praying for him concerning that, up until that time,
and could then view his release as an answer to their prayers.
It has also been said that the fact that Paul positively speaks of
coming to them again does not necessarily imply that the Lord had
revealed to Paul that he would. There were, of course, some
future things that the Lord did inform Paul about, such as his going
to Rome. God had told Paul of that when he was in Jerusalem
(Acts 23:11), and prior to his 2-year imprisonment in
Caesarea. But this doesn't mean that God always revealed
future events to Paul, as to where he would go next.
And the fact that Paul didn't know for sure if he would be seeing
the Philippians again is implied in the next verse, where the
apostle exhorts the brethren toward the proper behavior: "Only
conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so
that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you
that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving
together for the faith of the gospel" (Phil. 1:27). The KJV
renders this first part as, "Only let your conversation be as it
becometh the gospel of Christ..." In 1611, when the KJV was
first written, the word "conversation" pertained to more than merely
speech. For the Greek word denotes one's entire behavior --
which is be godly. "Conversation" is, therefore, rendered in
some other Bible versions as "manner of life," "behavior," and
In our next installment, we will consider more of Paul's message to
the Philippians and conclude chapter 1.
News & Notes
Let those of us who are Christians be praying for the following
* Clifton Trimble who was
recently in ICU, due to not doing well after receiving a pacemaker.
* Shondra Kyle and family. Before giving birth,
Shondra lost her baby and then developed some serious complications
after a C-section was performed, which led to a longer
hospitalization; but she is now doing somewhat better.
* Terry MacDonald whose
wife had to take him home during the beginning of our Sunday
worship, due to his not feeling well.
* Jean Calloway whose
breathing problem has returned, due to fluid build-up.
* Shirley Young whose
fibromyalgia often causes much pain and discomfort.
* Mike Dubose who is
receiving cancer treatment.
* Geneva Wilson, one of our
elderly members, who has been very weak physically and not able to
be with us at church for several weeks.
* Cheryl Crews who has been
having chronic ailments.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
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Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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