Phil 1:12-26 Paul's Confidence
12 &13. Paul adds more words of comfort. Even though Paul has endured the shipwrecks, imprisonment, beatings and unfair accusations, he proclaims to them that this is done for the advance of the Gospel. This is reminiscent of the Old Testament story of Joseph. Joseph has been sold into slavery by his brothers, only to find imprisonment due to unfair accusations. However, through his prison experience he was released and became a leader in the Egyptian government. It was through his leadership he saved the nation and his family from famine. After it was all said and done he proclaimed, “What they meant for evil, God meant for God.” What a testimony?
In what way did the gospel advance? Fr. Farley mentions that “advance” is a military term that imagines an army advancing through uncharted territory in order to take more land. Therefore, this imprisonment is not a setback but is taking more “land” for the gospel. One Father states, “the chains that bind him have become the instruments of salvation.” The whole of elite Roman guard was able to hear the gospel and the believers within the city of Rome.
14. The gospel advance in spite of Paul’s imprisonment led to confidence among the Christians to spread the gospel. Christianity was considered treasonous because they did not honor Caesar as god. Yet, it was becoming apparent because of Paul’s witness they the Christians did not want an overthrow on an earthly kingdom, but the spread of a heavenly kingdom that was rooted in the heart of man.
15-17. Not all believers were thrilled at Paul’s success. These verses begin to explain why. Paul himself states that some were preaching out of envy, rivalry, and partisanship. This has been seen before in Paul’s ministry. See 1 Cor. 1:10-15. Chrysostom said that some of the “Christians” were trying to incite persecution from the emperor in order to discredit or damage Paul’s witness. There were many that did not like Paul’s embrace of the Gentiles and this created discord. Also some of the preaching was done out of opportunism (Farley). These men were seeking power within the Christian church, and Paul appeared to stand in their way.
18. The irony of the situation is that Paul rejoices regardless of the motive of those who are preaching Christ. He is unconcerned about his own reputation and status within the Christian community as long as the gospel is preached.
19. This verse further explains why Paul is rejoicing. His misfortune is causing the church to pray. This gives him confidence, and displays the way that God works through His church. God works in synergy with those who are consecrated to Him. The outcome that Paul rejoices about will happen as a result of the prayers of the Church along with the power of the Holy Spirit. This is giving high praise to prayer and the power and responsibility of the Church in accomplishing God’s work in the world. God never forces Himself, but waits for a willing participant to accomplish His will.
This is also another example of Paul’s humility as the great Apostle asks those he loves to pray for him. A lesser man may be confident in his own prayer life to accomplish such as task (Chrysostom).
20. Paul first states here that he will not be ashamed. This means that he is confident that he nor the Philippians will not deny Christ or compromise the gospel regardless of the sufferings they may encounter. He is confident because Christ has already been glorified regardless of the circumstances, and will continue to be glorified whether he lives or dies.
21. To live is to glorify Christ, and to die for Paul is to be present with Christ for eternity. One father states, “It is not death itself that is gain but to die in Christ. Life is Christ. The one who has hope in Him is always alive, both now and forever
22-23. This expands on vs. 21. To live is fruitful labor in expanding the frontiers of the gospel. Yet Paul struggles here in where he desires to be in the future. To live is to proclaim the gospel, but to die is to be with Christ. Another Father says, “Labor is the gospel I preach. Fruit is to bring many to the hope of life and salvation.”
24-26. Paul is convinced that he will remain with the people for a while longer. He rejoices in this because it for spiritual benefit of others and the communal joy in the faith. It did happen that he was release and continued to minister for a brief time before his martyrdom. Church tradition even suggests that he even took the gospel to Spain. His ultimate release will be another cause of joy among the Christians because the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit will be evident once more.