Summary: In this message we examine Paul’s determination to promote the gospel even though he is a prisoner.
Christ Is Preached
12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,
13so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
To Live Is Christ
19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
21For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
25And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
This is the second in a sermon I am preaching from the book of Philippians. Last week I spoke on Philippians 1:3-6. We examined how God began a work of grace in our lives and is committed to finishing it. This week we will examine Philippians 1:13-26 and look at how Paul as a prisoner glorified Christ in the situation he faced.
First of all we should look at some of the background concerning the book of Philippians. Paul was writing this letter to a church in the city of Philippi, located in Macedonia. Philippi was a city on the Egnation Way, a road that led from Europe into Asia Minor. It was a city located at near the far eastern European edge of the Empire and was at a crossroads between east and west.
Paul’s history with the Philippian church began in Acts 16 when he and Silas entered the city to begin their missionary work there. When they entered Philippi they met a slave girl who worked as a fortune teller. The girl, possessed by a demon, began to follow Paul and Silas.
She followed them everywhere, proclaiming: “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:17) Now even though what she said may have sounded like a positive heralding of the two men, it seems that the way she did it brought much embarrassment to Paul and Silas.
We read in Acts 16:18 that Paul became annoyed with her and turned and spoke to the spirit inside the girl: “I command you in the name of Jesus to come out of her.” Immediately the girl was set free from the demon and as a result was no longer able to work as a fortune teller.
Her masters, having lost a considerable source of income, became angry with Paul and Silas. They had the two brought before the magistrates and then had them beaten with rods. The rods they were beaten with were not single ones, but rather ones tied together in a bundle.
They are thrown into the inner prison and their feet were placed into stocks. Whenever prisoners were placed into stocks their feet were spread as far apart as possible in order to produce painful cramping. So here they were in this dark prison cell, their bodies in pain from the severe beating, and the muscles in their legs and thighs severely cramped due to the stocks.
Most of us in this kind of situation would not be handling it very well. What we read in Acts 16, however, is that an amazing thing then begins to happen. Paul and Silas begin to pray and sing praises to God. It must have been some amazing singing they were doing, because we read that God responded by sending an earthquake to the city of Philippi.
The earthquake was so powerful that all the doors were shaken open and everyone was freed from their stocks. Paul and Silas could have escaped at this point, but rather chose to stay.