Philippians 1:27-2:11 | Christ Centred Conduct
27Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.
- Paul’s emphasis here is that whatever happens in life, and especially in the context of suffering, that we be united in our Christian conduct and values.
- This brings to mind the image of Christians locking arms and walking together in unity, that we all walk in the same direction and hold gospel values at heart.
- The key benefit of a solid Christian unity is a fearless and bold response to any opposition
- In fact, one of the things stopping us pursuing a gospel driven conduct is fear. But when we know that we stand in unity with other brothers and sisters in Christ who share the same gospel values, this gives great confidence and boldness.
- The “for” in the next verse makes clear that ‘whatever happens’ is meant in the context of suffering
29For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
- The Philippians were enduring suffering and Paul points out that this has also been “granted” from God as was their belief in Him. The Church continues to endure the suffering and world’s rejection of Christ.
- ‘granted’ is a positive thing, it is not just that God had allowed it but that God delighted to give them (and us) times of suffering.
- We need to see that suffering is something to be used as an opportunity to glorify God and deepen our dependence on Him, and just as Paul said in verse 19 these times can ‘turn out for our deliverance’ (ongoing sanctification).
2:1Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing (fellowship) in the Spirit, if any tenderness (affection) and compassion (mercies), 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
- Up till this point, Paul’s letter to the Philippians can be quite a gritty, hard read. It calls us to a high account, to be willing to suffer, to proclaim ‘to live is Christ, to die is gain’. How is a Christian supposed to handle all this?
- Paul shows us here that our strength comes from the Lord. He is the one who encourages, comforts, provides fellowship, shows affection and compassion to us in our walks. We are pilgrims, but tenderly loved pilgrims.
- These blessings are not just for us personally though, but they intend to overflow and spur us on to serve others.
- The blessing and comfort of Christ enables us to be loving, united, humble and to serve others above ourselves.
5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped;
7rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
- Jesus sets the example for us of a humble, obedient, servant, who grasps at nothing for his own benefit.
- He was willing to disguise his own divinity and be found in the appearance as a weak and humble man. His ultimate example of humility and obedience was shown through his death on the cross, as he laid himself down for us.
- It is through Jesus’ humble & servant attitude towards us that we can be like-minded and be the same to others
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
- This is the “J Curve” – that Jesus humbled himself and made himself lowly, but was then exalted because of it, and will be exalted even further in time to come.
- A name in the world of the Bible can carry a lot of weight and significance, e.g. when God changed Jacob’s name to Israel and that became the name for his chosen people. So for Jesus to have a name above every other name means he will have absolute pre-eminence over all things.
- All beings in heaven and on earth, living or dead (under the earth) will bow the knee and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.
- Even though Jesus Christ will be pre-eminent and have authority over all things does not mean that He will take glory away from God the Father, for its says ‘to the glory of God the Father’. The Father still receives and retains glory for glorifying his Son. In the words of Jesus, ‘no servant is greater than his master’, even if the master exalts Him to the highest place.
Paul calls us to have a Christ centred conduct, to be comforted by his love and fellowship and so to live in a like manner. He calls us to be humble, servant-hearted, to honour others above ourselves and ultimately lay our lives down on behalf of others, as Christ set the example for us.