Imitate Christ's Humility
Comments for Study 2
Memory Verse: 5
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I. From Being United with Christ (1-4)
>1. According to verse 1, how can we be humble like Jesus?
* Philippians 2:1 "If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,"
* "If you" -Paul is being rhetorical. He knew they did. He using "if" as an argument rather than a condition. Replace "if" with "since" and the idea is the same without being an argument.
* "encouragement from being united with Christ" -Jesus said that he and the Father would be in his people. (John 14:10, 20; 15:4) We are one with him. Our union with the Lord Jesus should give us courage, strength and bolstering support.
* "comfort from his love" -Jesus' love for us is displayed in his laying down his life for us. "For God so loved the world that he sent one and only son." His love is like laying down on a comforting bed, or sitting in our favorite chair so that our muscles relax and we are at ease.
* "fellowship with the Spirit" -2 Peter 1:4 "Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."
* "tenderness and compassion" -The love of a mother for her newborn comes to mind.
* Jesus is in very nature God (6). He always had the nature of God. He always will have the nature of God. Jesus exists as the form and essence of Sovereign God (11). He is as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes-the entire nature of deity. John 1:1-3 says this well.
I am united with Jesus through grace (1). I am united with love. I have fellowship with the Spirit of Christ. I experience his tenderness and compassion. His power and strength flow through my spiritual veins. His wisdom and insight are at access all the time. My relationship and companionship with him are like the union between a loving husband and a respectful wife. All this is encouragement to my soul.
Being one with God in spirit will and should transpose into my daily life (2). My life should change like a musician changes the key of a melody making it new and different. The interactions I have with others, especially fellow believers should be as Jesus interacts with me (5).
Jesus became a man in outward appearance (8) while retaining his deity. He did not lose the position nor essence of his divinity when he acquired flesh and bones (7). When he was found in appearance as a man Jesus chose to further humble himself and become a servant to other humans (8). He did not assert his divine place. He lived and displayed true humility.
I can and should follow Jesus' example. I can live in humility, not that I am lesser of a person than others. In fact, I am a son of the most high God. Rather, my humility should be like Jesus. I should do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit (3). I should look out for the interests of others (4).
Thus, as the Father exalted Jesus, so I will be exalted on the day of judgment (9-11).
>What does it mean to be united with Christ?
* Philippians 2:2 "then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose."
* "make my joy complete" -Joy sprang up as Paul thought of this congregation, but it would not be complete joy until the two who were in disagreement would get along in love.
* "like-minded" -meaning in affection and sentiment.
* "having the same love" -Love for the same thing as well as being equal in love.
* "one in spirit" -The union that different body parts have. The trinity has complete union though individual parts. The members of Jesus' congregation is to be one like the trinity.
* "one in purpose" -When two mules yoked together pull in opposite directions, both go nowhere and no work is done.
>How can one be united with Christ? (Rom.6:5-8: Jn. 15:5)
* Romans 6:5-8 "If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him."
* John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
* To be one in Christ permits differences of expressions, differences in gifts, differences in methods of service, even differences in minor doctrines (understandings/principle).
>2. According to vv. 1-4, what effects does a personal relationship with Jesus produce in us?
* Philippians 2:3-4 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."
* First, is unity as discussed above. Second is humility. Third is looking to the interests of others.
>Why is it important that a Christian be an encouragement to others?
* Jesus is the focus of these verses. He is the reason for everything. If we discourage each other we break up the body of Christ. If we encourage each other we build up the body of Christ. The damage from the inside a church building has caused more damage than on the outside. Strife and envy are the sin within that needs to be purged.
>How can we have true fellowship or friendship with others, and real tenderness and compassion?
* "in humility" -This is a good definition as any, "consider others better than yourselves."
* "not only too your own" -We can not neglect the health and well being of the body God has given us to dwell in.
>3. Look at verse 3. Why is it so hard for anyone to do this?
* "selfish ambition" -Every congregation have had people like Judas who was so selfish that he stole from the treasury. A sign of a congregation in trouble is when the pastor (i.e. shepherd, director, minister, leader) has a lot more wealth than the average member of his congregation. (More on this below.)
* "selfish ambition" -Even within the body of beievers there are those who desire authority over others. This is contrary to the will of Jesus. Sadly I've seen it all to often in congregations and the destruction and hurt it caused to many. Jesus taught, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matt. 20:25-28)
* "vain conceit" -The apostles often thought about their needs while with Jesus' earthly ministry. Food was often on their mind to the point of being a filter to the truth Jesus was teaching. Vanity blocks the truth from changing us. (More on this below.)
* "vain conceit" -The moment any believer in Christ entertains the thought, "I am able to be a leader because I have what it takes to be one," has the seed of Satan in him. Such believers are like Miriam and Aaron when they spoke against Moses seeking to take his place. (Num. 12)
* If you are doing something through strife in the church, you had better not do it at all. The same is true if you do things because you expect to be recognized... Do Christians need to be recognized and complimented and commended for things they do?" (J. Vernon McGee)
* Can anyone name one congregation that have not had a power struggle? That is why we look forward to the Millennium. What government will that be? Read the manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires.
>How can we be so humble and consider others better than ourselves?
* "look to the interest of others" -Love compels us to do this. The world today believes this is wrong because they do not know and/or truly believe that God loves them. They say we need to look out for ourselves because no one else will. Such belief is Godless, not understanding his love. Jesus' parable of the lilies of the field tells us that God looks out for us. To be like him is to look out for others.
* Do you want to know if believers in Jesus in my generation have failed at this? Look in your congregation to see if anyone there had to go to the goverment for some kind of assistance because their believing brothers did not help them.
II. Have the Attitude of Christ Jesus (5-11)
* "One of the greatest Christological passages occurs in these verses as an example to the Philippians of genuine humiliation and obedience. It speaks to Christ's eternal deity, incarnation, humiliation, death, resurrection, and exaltation via ascension. Theologians have called it the Kenosis passage based upon the Greek test underlying the phrase: "But made himself of no reputation" (7). The three Greek words of this praise (alla heauton ekenosen) are literally translated: "But himself he emptied." The kenosis theory takes its name from a transliteration of the Greek ekenosen. The questions raised is: Of what did Christ empty Himself when He became man? Did He empty Himself of His divine attributes? If He did, then He was less than God when He walked upon the earth. But He was just as much God when He was in the womb of Mary or when He hung on the cross as He was when He created the worlds. Rather, Christ surrendered the independent exercise of His divine attributes when He became incarnate. He had them, but He did not always use them. He learned, hungered, and grew weary; these are characteristics of His human nature. However, He did use His attributes at times under the control of the Holy Spirit. He forgave sin, created food, gave life to the dead, and walked on the water. The Kenosis also involved the veiling of the outward display of His deity, namely His glory, in human flesh. No halo was upon His head nor did a glow radiate from His face. Only on the Mount of Transfigurations (Matt. 17:1-13) was His glory permitted to shine through His flesh. He also emptied Himself of the prerogative of sovereignty to be served in order to assume the attitude of a servant to serve others. (from New testament Survey, Robert G. Gromacki)
* Verses 6-11 is believed to be a early hymn of the church. It is poetry and should be studies as such.
* "So far as the second and third phases are concerned, the hymn appears to be based on the fourth Isaiahic Servant Song (Isa. 52:12-53:12), where the Servant's exaltation following his humiliation is mores clearly celebrated. The very wording of the song is echoed here and there throughout the hymn. (International Bible Commentary, F.F.Bruce general editor)
>4. According to verse 5, how can we imitate Jesus?
* Philippians 2:5 "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:"
* "Your attitude" -The way we think and do. The way we present ourselves from true feelings and thought. This is not just going through the motions. This is not putting on a mask. This is to be genuine attitude.
* "the same as" -In all ways we are to be like Jesus, even in attitude.
* "Christ Jesus" -Christ is the Greek word for Messiah. Messiah refers to his kingship, priesthood, and prophetic office.
>What is the basic attitude of Christ? (6-8)
* Philippians 2:6-8 "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!"
* "being in very nature God" -Jesus is God in all aspects of the meaning.
* University and college philosophy 101 professors will ask the age old question, “Can God create a rock that he can't lift?” This question seems intriguing at first hearing except for those who have a deep knowledge of and relationship with God. The fundamental problem with the logic in this question is that it lacks wisdom. Let’s ask the question in other ways and then answer the question.
Can anyone go farther than infinity? Infinity implies distance and distance implies space. God not only created space, he exists before space.
Can anyone live longer than eternity? Eternity implies time and time is a measurement from event to event. God not only created time, he exists outside of time.
Can anyone be omnipresent? Presence implies substance and substance implies material. God not only created matter, he exists without matter.
Can anyone have more than absolute power (omnipotent)? Power implies ability and ability implies authority. God not only created authority, he controls all authority.
Can anyone be cleaner than pure? Purity implies quality and quality implies integrity. God not only created integrity, his will is always accomplished.
Can anyone be happier than bliss? Bliss implies contentment and contentment implies wholeness. God is whole unto himself before he created anything.
Can anyone be all knowing (omniscient)? Knowing implies intelligence and intelligence implies wisdom. God is wisdom.
Jesus is the Creator God. Jesus is therefore infinity, eternity, omnipresent, omnipotent, pure, bliss, and omniscient. The revelation of Jesus is the unending life pursuit of the bride. Can the attributes of Jesus be comprehended by those who are finite, limited, localized, weak, dirty, and in need? Yes, if God wills it and he wants no more that to reveal himself to his bride, but not all at once.
Can God create a rock that he can't lift? C.S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain, “(God's) omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles of Him, but not nonsense. There is no limit to His power. If you choose to say, ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,’ you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words ‘God can.’ It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. …Nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.”
* The above is taken from the manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires.
* "did not consider" -The word "consider" implies thought; so Jesus did not think equality with God was possible (the temptation Adam and Eve fell to). This does not mean that he was not equal for the phrase before it says that Jesus is in very nature God.
* "something to be grasped" -Equality with God is not obtained for the simple fact that if you don't have divinity before hand you can not have it later. Equality with God is not possible for created things for we need to have divinity always to be equal with God. Satan thinks that equality with God can be grasped. He lacks fundemental wisdom. Though he knows a lot he does not grasp this simple fact.
>How could Jesus obey God even to death on a cross?
* "but made himself nothing" -When Jesus came in the world he had flesh and bones as the apostles witnessed. "Nothing" here is not nothing in form, but nothing in title and position.
* "taking the very nature of a servant" -A servant is not in control of his actions because he submits to another's will.
* "being made in human likeness" -Jesus was in very nature man when he came to this earth in Mary's womb to his death on the cross. Hebrews 2:14 states, "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil"
* "being found in appearance as a man" -As noted above Jesus' glory was hidden behind his flesh so that his radiance did not shine through except on the mount of transfiguration.
* "he humbled himself" -The example Paul wants the Philippians to follow is Jesus' humility.
* "became obedient to death-- even death on a cross" -Jesus' full submission is seen in the fact that he endured the horrible death and humiliation.
>Why was this so hard to do? (Gal.3: 13)
* Galatians 3:13 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."
* Jesus told his Heavenly Father just before he allowed himself to be arrested, tried, and killed, “Not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:32) He was then betrayed by a close friend and chosen apostle. (Luke 22:47) Guards arrested and hit him. His other friends deserted him and denied knowing him. (Luke 22:57) His family members abandoned him. Jesus was all alone when the guards took him to be judged.
Jesus was jailed, beaten, and scourged. A whip made of short leather straps that were impregnated with bone and sharp pieces of metal was lashed onto his body thirty-nine times. His pure blood and pieces of flesh that were ripped from his side splattered on the ground. A crown of thorns was thrust into his head as streams of pure blood and sweat ran down his head. A robe was placed on him and he was given a stick that was made to be a staff while evil men ridiculed him. They spit on him, mocked him, and beat him. (Luke 22:47-71)
Rulers who were corrupt and selfish stood in evil judgment of Jesus, an innocent man. He was given a mock trial. False accusations concerning his words and actions were given with fervor. No one spoke in his favor. (Matt. 26:59, Luke 23:1-23)
Jesus was condemned and despised by a crowd of people. They accepted a known criminal over him, demanding that Jesus be put to death. (Luke 23:25) He was publicly humiliated by being forced to carry a heavy beam through the city streets. People laughed at him and taunted him. Pilate, one of his judges, had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (John 19:19)
During Jesus' punishment of crucifixion soldiers drove nails into his hand and feet. They dislocated his joints as they attached him to a coarse wooden cross. Naked, Jesus was put up high on the cross so all could see his condemned state. Bored and greedy men gambled for his clothes. (Mark 15:24) People mocked him the whole time he hung on the cross. When Jesus asked for water they offered him a foul drink. (John 19:29)
Jesus was misunderstood even while being crucified. Those who killed him did not know who he was. They did not know of his desire to do the right thing for his bride. They did not know of his love. They did not know what he was doing for them. Yet he said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing,” while being crucified. (Luke23:34)
Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man took his bride's sins upon his body. The sin he accepted became unacceptable to God, his Father. His Father rejected him in his shame. (Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34) Jesus had received the curse his bride was supposed to receive. (Gal. 3:13) With sin removed we have access to God. This good news “is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Rom. 1:16)
Jesus willingly went from the highest point to the lowest point because he loved and wanted to be with his bride. He died for his bride. His physical body stopped functioning so his bride's body could be cleansed, restored, and revived. (Isa. 53) His dead body was maligned so his bride could be corrected. Those overseeing his crucifixion drove a shaft into his side to ensure that his body had stopped functioning. The white and red blood cells in his heart separated and poured out of his heart when the shaft sliced through his body. (John 19:35) The separation only happens when the blood stops flowing for one is heavier than the other, so they separate. His body was buried and lay in a grave for three days so his bride's body could be raised from the grave. (Rom. 7:4, 8:11)
* The above is taken from the manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires.
* God is at work in me (13). He is working on my character so that I will be like Jesus, the Son of God. He is leading, guiding, and directing me to will and to act. He is like a good father that instructs and disciplines me so that I may be a mature and stable adult. Even more, he gives me the will and strength to overcome every false impulse and motive in me that harms and destroys, and the will to act according to his good purpose.
I have a choice to submit to his works in me or resist them. I can incorrectly submit with complaints and arguments (14), or I can be a good and obedient child trusting his works in me is best for me (15).
Working out my salvation with fear and trembling (12) means cultivating it, bringing it to full effect, and actively pursuing spiritual maturity. The fear of God is awe-inspired fear and trembling. It's using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ.
Work my salvation out to the finish is not a reference to the attempt to earn my salvation by works, but to the expression of my salvation in spiritual growth and development. Salvation is not merely a gift received once for all; it expresses itself in an ongoing process in which believers in Jesus are strenuously involved (Matt. 24:13; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 3:14, 6:9-11; 2 Peter 1:5-8) in the process of perseverance, spiritual growth, and maturation.
>5. According to verses 9-11, what was the result of Jesus' humiliation?
* Philippians 2:9-11 "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
* "Therefore" -meaning as a result of.
* "God exalted him" -Jesus that was humiliated is now honored.
* "to the highest place" -No one can be with God the Father except Jesus. However, when we are with Jesus we are with God. (John 14:9)
* "the name above every name" -Son of God
>What should be our attitude toward Christ?
* "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow" -Whether one believes in Jesus' absolute authority now or not, all will acknowledge Jesus as Lord eventually. This is the day of judgement. On that day they will not see the hateful eyes that they believe he has. Instead they will see love and be so sad that they lost their chance to be with those loving eyes for eternity. Jesus said, "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 13:47-50)
* "in heaven and on earth and under the earth" -God the Father is in heaven with the Son at his right hand and the Holy Spirit is in heaven and the hearts of believers whether in heaven or on earth. The angles of God are in heaven when they are not ministering to God's people on earth. Those waiting for judgement are under the earth.
* "every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" -Whether they do or do not now eventually all will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus said, "But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 24:48-51)
* "to the glory of God the Father" -Jesus is the glory of the Father and the honor of his chosen. All his believers adore him.
>What do we learn here about God's view of true humility? (James 4:6: Mt. 5:5)
* James 4:6 "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
* Matthew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."
* Humility is good because we have nothing to be proud of. Isaiah 64:6 says, "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." If it were not for Jesus coming to clean us up we would still be dirty street orphans.
* Meekness is the result of humility. The meek are patient and submissive to God.
>How can anyone ever become a truly humble person?
* The truly humble are those who have turned to Jesus in repentance.
* Humility is not a part of the sinful nature. We are born with the sinful nature. Humility must be learned. God teaches us humility. Deuteronomy 8:2-3 records the Lord saying, "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." And 1 Kings 11:39 records the prophet saying, "I will humble David's descendants because of this, but not forever.'" And the Lord told Solomon, "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chron. 7:13-14)
III. Continue to Work Out Your Salvation (12-18)
>6. In verse 12 why does Paul say, "continue to work out your salvation"?
* Philippians 2:12 "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,"
* "Therefore" -meaning as a result of.
* "my dear friends" -Another place showing Paul's close relationship to the congregation at Philippi.
* "obeyed" -They obeyed Jesus' teachings not Paul. Paul taught Jesus' teachings. Thus, they obeyed Jesus. To many have others obeying themselves rather than Jesus.
* "not only in my presence" -The congregation found it easier to obey Jesus when Paul was with them. Paul acting as overseer took the brunt of the persecution when he was with them. The cost to the believers in Jesus was small when Paul was around. When Paul left they received the brunt of the persecution. Obeying Jesus is hard when persecution comes if we are not firmly rooted in Jesus.
>What does this mean?
* "continue to work out your salvation" -Work it out to the finish; not a reference to the attempt to earn one's salvation by works, but to the expression of one's salvation in spiritual growth and development. Salvation is not merely a gift received once for all; it expresses itself in an ongoing process in which the believer is strenuously involved (Matt. 24:13; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 3:14, 6:9-11; 2 Peter 1:5-8) in the process of perseverance, spiritual growth and maturation." (NIV Study Bible)
* Our transformation is not complete as long as we are in this dying body. Jesus' sacrifice has cleansed our spirits. Our spirits are new creations. They are not filthy sin filled rages. They are white as snow. Yet, the body that we live in is cursed with the rest of the dirt of the soil. The fleshly body is fading away with the rest of the earth. Also, we are in a sinful and unbelieving generation. When Jesus comes he will take us away and we will receive a incorruptible body so that we will be like him as he is now in heaven. Jesus will save us from this generation and the decaying body. When Jesus comes again he will install his kingdom. He will rule the earth. Then our salvation will be complete. The glory of the body we receive when he comes depends on the service we live by faith, hope and love in this life. The positions we are given depends on the life we live in this life. Salvation is freely given by grace. Rewards in the future are earned now.
* "Carry out 'to the goal' (Bengel). Complete. See on Rom. 7:8. Your own salvation. There is a saving work which God only can do for you; but there is also a work which you must do for yourselves. The work of your salvation is not completed in God's work for you. God's work must be carried out by yourselves. 'Whatever rest is provided by Christianity for the children of God, it is certainly never contemplated that it should supersede personal effort. And any rest which ministers to indifference is immoral and unreal -it makes parasites and not men. Just because God worketh in him, as the evidence and triumph of it, the true child of God works out his own salvation -works it out having really received it -not as a light thing, a superfluous labor, but with fear and trembling as a reasonable and indispensable service' (Crummond, 'Natural Law in the Spiritual World,' p. 335). Human agency is included in God's completed work. In the saving work of grace God imparts a new moral power to work. Compare Rom. 6:8-13; and 2 Cor. 6:1. Believe as if you have no power. Work as if you had no God." (Word Studies in the New Testament, Prof. Marvin R. Vincent, D.D.)
* "This salvation is a present one, and not so much individual as collective. The church at Philippi is in peril from inward strife, and the marring of the unity in which alone the true purpose of the church will be realized. Work out (karergazomai, the compound verb indicating achievement or bring to a conclusion)." (International Bible Commentary)
* "The Philippians were to carry through (katergazomai, keep on working out, is continuous present) the deliverance of the church into a state of Christian maturity." (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary)
* "We are required to work out our salvation,. The word signifies working thouroughly at a thing, and taking true pains. Observe, we must be dilignet in the use of all the means which conduce to our salvation, by doing all that is to be done, and persevering therein to the end. Salvation is the great thing we should mind, and set our hearts upon; and we cannot attain salvation without the utmost care and diligence." (Matthew Henry, A Commentary on the Whole Bible)
* "'Salvation' in the verse is used, I believe, in a general sense. Paul is talking about working out their problems which in their own Christian lives. He is not there to help them and is not sure that he ever will be there again because he is in a Roman prison. So he tells them to work out their "own salvation with fear and trembling.l" (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary Series)
* "with fear and trembling" -As we live our life, we should live it humbly for we will all stand before the Bema seat of Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 14:10 tell us that believers will be brought into examination before the Son of God, the King and their Bridegroom. The New Testament uses the Greek word “bema” for this judgment seat. Bema means a raised platform which had a seat on it. Sale-Harrison wrote in the book The Judgment Seat of Christ, “In the Grecian games in Athens, the old arena contained a raised platform on which the president or umpire of the arena sat. From here he rewarded all the contestants; and here he rewarded all winners. It was never used as a judicial bench.” Paul used the Athen games as an example of his goal to gain a prize and a crown. (1 Cor. 9:24-27, and 2 Tim. 2:5, 4:6-8, Phil. 4:1, and 1 Th. 2:19)
>How can we do this?
* Philippians 2:13 "for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
* "God who works in you" -God is in the process of making us in the image of his Son. This can be done easily by submitting humbly and obeying Jesus. Or it can be done with the rod and staff of our shepherd Jesus. The shepherd used a rod and a staff to keep the sheep out of harms way, in the flock, and to lead them to right way when they went the wrong way. David said, "The LORD is my shepherd... your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23) Obeying the Lord in fear and trembling is to remember that he carries a rod and a staff for a reason.
* "to act according to his good purpose" -The places that God leads us to and the things he has planned for us is good. The purpose is good. So we should not hesitate to humbly obey.
>7. Why does Paul say, "do everything without complaining or arguing"?
* Philippians 2:14-16a "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life--"
* God's people do not live in individual vacuums. God institutes apostles, prophets, pastors (shepherds), and Bible teachers over us. They are accountable to God and we are to follow their advice without complains or arguing. We are responsible to pray that they obey Jesus and present his words. Those over us can go astray just as we can. If a pastor goes astray is it because we have not prayed for him? If they have not gone astray and give the word of God correctly shouldn't we follow their directions without arguing and complaining?
* "blameless and pure" -The Lord will examines us on his day, burning away all that is not pure. We will be to blame if we did not follow the direction given us through his apostles, prophets, pastors, and Bible teachers.
* "in a crooked and depraved generation" -Jesus said he lived in such a generation. Paul lived in such a generation. Every generation since them have been crooked and depraved. Every generation will be with way until he comes. Yet, even then those who live on the earth during the Millennium will not be perfect.
>How can we "shine like stars in the universe"?
* "shine like starts" -The glory in us is not visible with the eyes. The glory in us is not generated by our selves. Rather the glory in us is a reflection of the glory of Jesus. His is like the sun and we are like the moon. All the glory shining off us comes from Christ.
* "as you hold out the word of life" -Jesus' words are the words of life. As we tell others the gospel and teach the Bible we shine. We do not shine for no reason. We shine because we humbly obey Jesus' world mission command.
>>What was Paul's response to this? (16b-18)
* Philippians 2:16b-18 "in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me."
* "in order that I may boast" -At the Bema seat those we lead to Christ and build up with the word of God will be symbols of our obedience. We can say, "See Jesus, we obeyed your world mission command. Look at the people who heard the message that you gave me to say, and I did say it to them."
* "on the day of Christ" -Paul repeats this several times in this letter. The day of Christ is the day he comes to take us home (the rapture) and we will stand before his Bema seat.
* "for nothing" -Paul wanted to make sure that the Philippian believers did not abandon the faith that they professed by continual sin.
* "poured out like a drink offering" -Paul saw his life as a sacrifice to the Lord. A drink offering goes way back to Jacob, before the law of Moses. Romans 12:1 states, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship."
>Why does he rejoice?
* "am glad and rejoice with all of you" -We should be glad and rejoice when we see the lives of faith in others bearing fruit. We should not be jealous and envy.
* "So you too should be glad and rejoice with me" -Christian joy should be a mutually shared event.
IV. Honor Men Like Him (19-30)
>8. Who was Timothy?
* Philippians 2:19 "I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you."
* Acts 16:1-3, 5 "He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek... So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers."
* 1 Timothy 4:12a "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young"
* Timothy's mother was a Jew. His father a Greek and perhaps not influential in his life, thus making Timothy timid in nature meaning he lacked confidence in his ability to carry out the mission given him. He was well spoke of and underwent circumcision for ministry purposes even though he knew he didn't need to. He went with Paul on mission journeys. Paul considered him a son of faith. He was gifted for ministry though young and thus some considered him inexperienced. He took interest in other's welfare. He became the pastor (Latin for shepherd) for the congregation in Ephesus. He stood up against false doctrine being taught there, having the gift of discernment. He remained loyal to Paul, and the gospel he preached to the end of Paul's life. He was sincere, easily discouraged, sentimental, powerful, emotional, and leadership quality.
* Timothy was a third generation Christian. His grandmother and mother were probably converted on Paul's first missionary journey. Timothy would have been a young lad then. Timothy joined Paul for the first time on Paul's second missionary journey.
* "send to you soon" -Timothy might be carrying this letter with Epaphroditus to Philippi, or shortly after on his own.
* "I receive news about you" -Paul may have intended for Timothy to return to him.
* I self looks out for the well-being of myself, that is until Jesus came into my life (21). Humans are born with selfish traits. I think of young toddlers. They play with themself and their toys. Soon some learn and/or are taught to interact and play with others. An adult needs to show by interacting with the child that interacting and playing with others can be better than living in one's own self-contained world. I don't remember much of those years. Still, I'm sure I was no different than the rest of the human race.
Even though I now have a compelling need to be with and interact with others do I still look out for my needs? Or am I concerned for the needs of others
I sit alone in an apartment getting ready for work and the day ahead. I don't want to be alone. Yet, I had chances to make choices to be with others. I looked out for my financial needs and chose to move to a new job, starting over in a new place making new acquaintances and friends.
Therein lays a need to search my motives. When I reach out to others I need to have a genuine interest in others (20). Am I like a toddler who has just learned that interactions and playing with others is better than being alone? Or do I follow Jesus' teaching of love for my neighbor?
>Why was he so indispensable to Paul?
* Philippians 2:20-24 "I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon."
* "a genuine interest in your welfare" -Timothy had spent considerable time in Philippi during Paul's second and third missionary trips.
* "everyone looks our for his own interest" -The sinful selfish way.
* "not those of Jesus Christ" -Those who truly believe in Jesus care for others, whether with them or absent.
* "how things go with me" -Once a release verdict is known to be coming, Paul would send Timothy.
* "I myself will come soon" -Then when Paul was released either he, Timothy would return to him and then both would go to Philippi or Paul would join Timothy in Philippi.
>9. Who was Epaphroditus?
* Philippians 2:25-26 "But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill."
* "it is necessary to send back" -Paul wanted to send Epaphroditus with the letter as soon as he finished it.
* "my brother" -in Christ.
* "fellow worker and fellow soldier" -Epaphroditus is believed to be the pastor (shepherd) of the Philippi congregation.
* "your messenger" -Delivering messages back and forth.
>What had been his problem?
* Philippians 2:27-28 "Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety."
* "almost died" -Traveling was not very good in those days. The inns and meals were unhealthy.
* "sorrow upon sorrow" -If Epaphroditus would have died Paul would have felt personally sad.
* "less anxiety" -Epaphroditus' illness had been a burden to Paul, who was in prison.
* Epaphroditus was the man that the Philippi congregation sent to help Paul in his incarceration (25). He was a messenger. He became ill probably because of the travel and almost died (26,27). He became better. Paul was sending him back to his home congregation and friends (28).
Every human that has ever lived has had to deal with illness in their lives. Sometimes the illness is an annoying cough and sinus infection that lasts for many days. Other times the illness is life-threatening. Sometimes we are ill. Other times a spouse, family member, and friend become ill.
Epaphroditus' life-threatening illness was the result of his service in the Lord for this fellow Philippian believers and for Paul. We are prone to wonder why would God allow a person who is kind and loving, who is serving others, and who is dedicated to the service of God to become ill.
Though some may consider this a copout I seldom find the need to ask the "why" question anymore. I use to let the question "why" way me down and stress me. What I discovered is that my "why" questions were based on doubt of God's love for me.
I considered the hardship that I was going through unjustifiable. So I asked God "why" in hope that the reason for the illness would make it endurable and I would be at peace. Now I just skip the "why" and accept that I don't need to know "why" to find out that God loves me and cares for me. I accept that whatever transpires is for the good of me and those I love. Just accept and don't let an unanswerable "why" add anger, guilt, and shame to my illness and suffering.
>Why does Paul say to honor men like him?
* Philippians 2:29-30 "Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me."
* "honor men like him" -Those who live for others in Christ, to the point of illness and near death should be honored.
* "making up for the help" -When he was healthy he helped Paul.
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