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Philippians 1:12-26 – Partnership of Paul and the Philippians

Summary

Paul's imprisonment and the uncertainty about his future prompt him to reflect on his relationship with the believers in Philippi.

Analysis

These verses reveal Paul's current circumstances and offer a glimpse into his connections with the Philippians. The beginnings of the Christian community in Philippi are also discussed in Acts 16:6-40. The story begins with Paul in the city of Troas in Asia Minor. Paul's night vision of a man from Macedonia requests: "Come over to Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16:9). Paul sets sail across the Aegean Sea, arrives in the seaport city of Neapolis (16:10-11), and travels inland to Philippi, "a leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony" (16:12). The story of Paul and Silas in Philippi is recounted in a dramatic way with Lydia, a seller of purple goods (16:13-15); a demon-possessed girl, whom Paul exorcizes only to incite the rage of her owners, who lose their source of income (16:16-24); Paul and Silas's imprisonment, the earthquake that releases their shackles, and the response of the jailor and his household, whom Paul baptizes (16:23-34); the city magistrates' apology for imprisoning Roman citizens and the release of Paul and Silas (16:35-39); and Paul and Silas's final gathering with Lydia and "the brothers and sisters" before leaving Philippi (16:40).

Situated on the Egnatian Way, the main east-west land and trade route through Macedonia, the community in Philippi is privileged to information from travelers, and the Christians there learn of Paul's imprisonment. Since Paul was the bearer of the gospel to them, they decide to respond by sending Epaphroditus to minister to Paul (2:25-30). While Epaphroditus is with Paul, he gets seriously ill and nearly dies. The Philippians learn of this and assume that Epaphroditus has only compounded Paul's hardship. Paul learns of the despondence in Philippi and decides to write to them, commending the ministry of Epaphroditus, which exceeded any expectations they might have had: "Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honor such people, because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me" (2:30).

Philippians 1:12-26

Paul’s Present Circumstances

12 I want you to know, beloved,* that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, 13so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard* and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; 14and most of the brothers and sisters,* having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word* with greater boldness and without fear.

15 Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. 16These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defence of the gospel; 17the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. 18What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will result in my deliverance. 20It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me; and I do not know which I prefer. 23I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; 24but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, 26so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

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10 February 2011

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