Summary: Paul was chosen by God, yet for the sake of the furtherance of the Gospel he had to suffer many things; he teaches us in the book of Philippians that we should rejoice in sufferings and anxiety, and rejoice in lowly service, with Christ as our pattern.

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December 26, 1999



Paul wrote Philippians while he was imprisoned in Rome. He had visited Philippi on his second missionary journey, this was some time later, and the Church seems to have been well established at the time of this writing. In spite of being a prisoner, Paul spoke triumphantly, using words such as “joy”, and “rejoice”. One of the things he spoke about in this epistle was rejoicing in spite of circumstances.


To feel joyful;

Philippians 1:3-6

Paul remembered the Philippians with joy. At Philippi he was mistreated; he was scourged and put into the stocks, and for the present saw little of the fruit of his labor; and yet he remembers Philippi with joy. He looked upon his sufferings for Christ as his credit, his comfort, his crown, and was pleased at every mention of the place where he suffered, he remembered it with joy.

(Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

Paul stresses that we should rejoice through anxiety. He was chosen by God as an apostle and did a great work for the Lord but he had to suffer many things. His writings form the basis of much of the new testament teachings; he taught many doctrinal matters regarding baptism, receiving the Lord’s supper, Church order, and especially in regards to how to live a victorious life. Remember he was in prison when he wrote this letter; the enemies of Jesus Christ were simply afflicting him for the sake of the gospel, but instead of stressing about it he stresses rejoicing through afflictions. He said that what had happened to him would further the gospel, would cause the gospel to advance.

Outline of Philippians

I. Paul’s Account of His Present Circumstance 1:1-30

A. Paul’s Prayer of Thanksgiving 1:1-11

B. Paul’s Afflictions Promote the Gospel 1:12-18

C. Paul’s Afflictions Exalt the Lord 1:19-26

D. Paul’s Exhortation to the Afflicted 1:27-30

In this book Paul lets us know that Christ is our life; that we should rejoice in spite of suffering; that Christ is our pattern; that we should rejoice in lowly service. If we read the whole book of Philippians we learn that Christ is the object of our faith, desire and expectation and strength, and that we should rejoice through anxiety.


a. A state of uneasiness and apprehension 1. Fearful or uneasy anticipation of the future; dread.

A state of intense apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a threatening event or situation,

Synonyms: anxiety, worry, care, concern, and solicitude. These nouns are compared as they refer to troubled states of mind. Anxiety suggests feelings of fear and apprehension, especially when these emotions seem unrelated to objective sources:

We are living in times and circumstance that often cause apprehension and take away our peace of mind. Certainly the cares of life can wear us down. The need to provide for our family sometimes seems to require us to work two jobs in order to make ends meet. The weight of trying to manage our children’s behavior and see to their needs, supervise homework assignments, tackle household chores, etc. often leave us tired and not sure of how we can do an effective work for the Lord. Add to Paul’s everyday stressors the fact the he was in prison, and one would think he might have given up. Instead he encourages us not to worry, to look to Jesus as our pattern and to count it all joy.

Worry implies persistent doubt or fear that disturbs one’s peace of mind

Care denotes a burdened state of mind arising from heavy responsibilities

Concern stresses involvement in the source of mental unrest;

Solicitude is active and sometimes excessive concern for the well being of another or others

Paul lets us know in this book that in spite of his circumstances, in spite of his imprisonment he was rejoicing and that he had confidence. Satan often works to undermine our confidence; he tries to erode our faith. Paul tells us that Christ is our hope, that in Him we live and move and have our being and even if we have to go through trials sometimes Christ is still our hope. We’re living in turbulent times; war on every hand; earthquakes; famine; natural disasters and crime. Paul doesn’t tell us in this book that we won’t go through trials, that we won’t suffer, but that we should do so rejoicing. God Himself choice Paul and then said:

Acts 9:16

16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (NIV)

God didn’t choose for Paul so he could sit around and receive the glory of his fellow man. He also didn’t choose him to suffer because He hated him, but because He had chosen him to do a work for Him. Sometimes we think that suffering means we are being punished by God for some wrong and Satan, of course, reinforces this mindset. Sometimes though suffering is just the result of the fact that God is using us or getting ready to use us, it helps to build our character, it teaches us endurance and helps us learn how to trust in God. So it often prepares us for service and God might not be getting ready to use us in some mighty way, but Paul lets us know in this book that we should also rejoice in lowly service. Sometimes suffering promotes the gospel.

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