Summary: Philippians 2:1-8. Paul encourages unity, love, and humility in the body of Christ; while Christ himself exemplifies these qualities.
AGAIN I SAY REJOICE
COMPLETE MY JOY
- After a bit of time away from the book of Philippians for various reasons; Easter, Mother’s Day, and Small Group preparation; we return to the letter that Paul wrote to the church in Philippi. Turn to Philippians chapter 2.
- Our study of Scripture today brings with it some of the most rich theological truths of the Christian faith. For in our passage we are going to be wrestling with the Trinitarian nature of God, with the self-emptying or kenosis of Christ (we will talk about what that means in a moment), and the deity and humanity of Jesus.
- These are issues that theologians throughout the centuries have labored to understand and articulate. So we will approach these matters not in an attempt to comprehensively understand their importance, but with a view to increase our knowledge ever so slightly; so that we can comprehend how to apply these truths and grow in our knowledge of God. For these truths are deep, but we do not sit idly by; we work to understand, through the Holy Spirit, all that he would reveal to us.
- There are three very practical topics that arise out of this text in the midst of some very profound theological statements, and in the context of Paul encouraging the Philippian church to display these qualities. They are unity, love, and humility. These are, especially unity, topics that we have already seen addressed in the letter. What we are going to find, however, is that now Paul presents these qualities as worthy of pursuit in light of how Jesus Christ himself displayed them.
- In other words, Paul is going to ask the Philippians to “complete his joy”; to make him proud of the hard work and spiritual service he put into them; by having these three attitudes. And in an effort to help them understand the importance of possessing these characteristics, he is going to appeal to the life of Jesus. In that appeal, we will begin to scratch the surface of the deepness of God. So let’s see what Paul has to say:
[READ PHILIPPIANS 2:1-8]
- In v.1 Paul begins with four conditional clauses. And they are a type of conditional clause that assumes the condition in question is an actuality. So the meaning of the first part of v.1 would be: “If there is any encouragement in Christ, and there is...then complete my joy.” And so forth with the remaining three phrases.
- We might shorten the thought in English by saying this: “Since there is encouragement in Christ, comfort from love, participation in the Spirit, and affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind.” This is how he starts his thought: since Christ has come alongside you and consoles you with his love; since because of that you now have fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life; and since you now experience the affection, love, and compassion of God: do what I am about to tell you to do.
- We could say that he lists four motivating factors to listen carefully to what he is about to write.
- Let’s look a little more closely at what he calls them to do. First:
PAUL ENCOURAGED UNITY WITHIN THE BODY
- By “body” of course, I mean the body of Christ, the church. In this case, the church in Philippi. Look again at v.2: complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
- You see Paul’s personal joy and satisfaction was linked to whether or not the believers in Philippi were unified. We talked about unity when we looked at vv.27-30 of chapter 1. Remember that true unity always has a central truth or object that it rallies around. There is a false sense of unity where people who disagree on core issues neglect or dismiss their disagreements. Authentic unity is a common commitment to the core issues.
- Obviously then, for the true church, the object of our unity is the gospel, the person we are united around is Jesus Christ, and the purpose of our unity is the glory of God. We can disagree on a lot of things, but we cannot disagree on the necessity of the gospel, the exclusivity of Christ, and the ultimate end of all things being the glory of God.
- Here, Paul reiterates that point in two ways: “be of the same mind” and “be in full accord and of one mind.” We get the idea that we are not just talking about looking like we are one on the outside. It is an inward state of mind. We are focused on one purpose; and that is the unity of the body for the sake of God’s glory through the gospel.