Wednesday, September 16, 2009


In yesterday’s posting we discussed the attributes of joy seen in the book of Philippians. Today we will see three advantages of joy in Philippians 1:12-18.

We begin my noticing the reality of Paul’s circumstances that he refers to in verse 12. These circumstances are described in Acts 20-28. He was attacked by a lynch mob. He was put through a mock trial. He was betrayed and convicted as a criminal. He was beaten severely with rods. And he was imprisoned in stocks. You also see more of these circumstances in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. He was beaten by a mob. He was imprisoned. He was shipwrecked. He was snake-bitten. And he was imprisoned in the palace in Rome. These weren’t the best of circumstances but, as we saw yesterday, joy has nothing to with circumstances but everything to do with Christ. It all comes down to attitude.

In spite of Paul’s challenging circumstances his joyous outlook allowed him to find three powerful opportunities. Joy does that. It allows us to find opportunities in the midst of obstacles. The first opportunity Paul found in his circumstances was to proclaim the Gospel (v12b-13). This was directed to “the whole praetorian guard” which were 9,000-10,000 hand-picked soldiers serving Caesar. Paul was chained to a guard day and night. Guards were changed every 6 hours for 2 years of Paul’s imprisonment. If no duplicates occurred, Paul would have spoken with nearly 3,000 different guards over that time-span who would have also heard him pray, sing and read what he wrote.

This was also directed “to everyone else,” a reference to the household servants and government officials in the palace. At least some of these gave their lives to Christ seen in Philippians 4:22, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.”

The second opportunity Paul found was to encourage believers (v14). Paul’s circumstances had a profound and positive impact on most believers who knew of his ordeal. As a result, they were encouraged to speak the Word of God with fear. The word “speak” here refers to everyday conversation as opposed to preaching.

Finally, Paul found opportunity to exalt the name of Christ (v15-18). Not everyone who was encouraged to speak more boldly for Christ did so with proper motives. Many of them preached Christ out of a motive to hurt Paul. Some did so out of envy, perhaps being jealous of Paul’s success. Some did so out of strife. Perhaps they did not like Paul’s style. Some did so out of selfish ambition. They wanted to gain personally. And some did so desiring to cause distress to Paul and make his situation worse.

What was Paul’s response to those who attacked his integrity while proclaiming Christ? He asks, “What then?” In modern lingo, “So what?” or “Who cares?” The wrong motive of others to hurt Paul was insignificant in comparison to the fact that the message of Christ was being communicated. Paul’s response was an attitude of joy the resulted in opportunities. In Philippians 1:18 he concludes, “in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.”

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