“Let this mind be
in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: …. and took upon
him the form of a servant …” (Philippians 2:5, 7)
One of Paul’s great God given gifts was to ascertain the spiritual temperature of the various churches. He had his ear to the ground at all times, and whether physically present with that church or not, he was receiving reports from all over. And like a good father, he was able to apply the appropriate written ‘carrot or stick’, knowing where they had been, where they were now and where they had to get to.
So in this particular case, he’s in prison
for the second time in Rome and he’s writing to the Philippians, his first
church he established in Europe ten years previous, after meeting with Lydia on
the river bank. As such, he always had a soft spot for them and they for him,
as they had sent him money a couple of times before, to help him out.
So he’s sitting in prison wondering if they’d forgotten about him as he hadn’t heard from them for a few years, when out of the blue Epaphroditus appears with some money they had sent for him. So he writes them this letter of love and spiritual counsel.
Now overall, Paul was pretty happy with them so this epistle has the least rebuke of any to the churches. They were one of the purest and ‘happiest’ of the New Testament churches. Although they were a joyful lot, he warns them of overconfidence, in that they were showing signs of disunion and to be on their guard against strife and vain-glory, to esteem each other better than themselves and to cultivate lowliness and unselfishness.
He warns them against murmurings and disputings and especially mentions two women in this regard. While not a theological letter as such, it is soaked in solid Christian doctrine of Christian behaviour and holiness of life. He wants all to be humble, of the same mind and urges them to their duty of mutual forbearance, thankfulness, constant prayer, contentment and the proper thought life.
C2 = Lowliness of mind
C3 = Doctrine destroyers
C4 = Think on these things
Ch 2 = Lowliness of mind
In this chapter, Paul expounds on the divinity of Christ, his pre-existence, his equality with God, his incarnation, his perfect humanity, his precious death on the cross and his glorious exaltation by the Father (v4-11), to reinforce lowliness of mind and the avoidance of vain-glory. He urges them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (v12). That there be no disputings, strife, murmurings and for them to be blameless in a perverse and crooked world (v14-15). He commends both Timothy and Epaphroditus for their love and hard work toward the Philippians (v19-30).
Ch 3 = Robbers of joy
Pauls warns of evil workers he calls dogs – those of the concision (v2). Concision is a cutting off. A characteristic of the Philippian church was their joy in spite of persecution. The dogs were trying to cut/rob the joy off from people. How would they do this?
Now there were and are today, two types of concisors – the Jewish and the Christian. The Jewish concisors would be the equivalent of the Judaizers in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians where Paul asks them “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3). These would drag them back under Moses.
The Christian concisor the reader asks? Yes, they would, by reason of non-Pauline doctrine, get rid of the dispensations, the rapture, eternal security, confound remission with redemption, blur the distinctions between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God, introduce Calvinism, get rid of the inerrant, infallible, perfectly inspired King James Bible, introduce water baptisms, church memberships, voting and tithing to name a few.
They would bewitch you like the Galatians and bring you under their domination, intimidation, manipulation and control. What they do is to create two classes of people in their congregations – those having a tithing, water baptised membership of once married people and the rest.
They generally camouflage themselves with the name of a Baptist, Methodist, Uniting, Presbyterian or Lutheran church or a Grace Church. Like “Honest John’s Used Cars”, John wants to become honest. He hasn’t got any honesty but he needs to reassure people he is. Grace Churches are similar in not having much grace. They want to acquire this elusive quality. Like Honest John they parade the name to reassure people. Mmmm! Dogs, concisors and evil workers says Paul. Stay clear!
Now Paul says “I was an evil worker of the concision and here is my resumē as proof” (v4-6), but my past life was nothing but “animal excrement” (v8) having found the righteousness of God revealed in Christ (v9)
Paul then likens himself to an athlete that strains every nerve and muscle to obtain a goal (v14). Now of course having been to heaven (2Cor 12:1-4) he knows what he is talking about (v20-21).
He uses the phrases of ‘God is their belly’ as they ‘mind earthly things’ (v19). Indeed in his warning to the Christians at Rome, they “… serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly (Yes, you have to eat Christ the Wafer); and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Rom 16:18)
Ch 4 = Think on these things
Using the two women, Euodias and Syntyche, as examples, he urges them to be labourers (v3) of the same mind (v2) and always rejoicing (v4). Furthermore being careful, not anxious, for nothing (v6-7) with topics upon which they should dwell their minds upon (v8-9). Once again he can’t help but thank them for their generosity (v10) and reminds their doing that twice before (v15-16).
Having supplied my necessity (v16) he prays the Lord will supply theirs (v17-19).
By Harley Hitchcock.
For more information contact:
AUSTRALIAN BIBLE MINISTRIES PO Box 5058 MT Gravatt East 4122 Qld, Australia