Summary: The heart of the letter to the Philippians, calling us work in unity, following the example of Jesus by putting each other first.
Philippians 2:1-11 - “Just one thing”
By James Galbraith,
Bethel First Baptist Church
Preached at First Baptist Church, Port Alberni, June 11, 2006
2 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
vss. 1-2 - Unity in the body
vss. 3-4 - through humility towards each other
vss. 5-11 - as demonstrated by Jesus Christ
6-8 – humility of Christ
9-11 – victory of Christ
Paul is writing from prison, his first Roman imprisonment,
- house arrest with company, as opposed to death row
- Timothy and others caring for him, gospel work proceeding, even expanding
1:14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
The letter as a whole is a thank-you letter for support,
much like a modern day missionary would send a letter to their supporters,
But Paul is also taking the opportunity to address other concerns
Paul has spent the first chapter thanking the Philippians for their love and support (1:3-11)
and encouraging them to remain faithful even through hard times.
He is now turning his attention to the health of their church.
Verses 1-2 a call to unity
“if’s - not questions, but rather confirmations.
like telling a child, “If you want dessert, than finish your peas!”
Paul is confirming that this list of qualities exist in the Philippian church.
“Encouragement from being united with Christ”
“comfort from his love”
“fellowship with the Spirit”
“tenderness and compassion”
“Encouragement from being united with Christ” can be understood on two levels.
One level is their unity of faith with Paul and the rest of the Christian community.
They have the encouragement of knowing that they are not alone,
that Paul is with them in spirit as are many other Christians throughout the empire.
The other level is that they are united with Christ in his suffering.
He suffered to bring them salvation,
and now they are suffering because of their belief in Christ.
In this way they are united with Christ in suffering;
he is a Saviour that can understand and relate to their pain
because he’s been through so much himself.
Now that may seem like little encouragement at first, but hold on.
I’ve been through painful times, as most of us have,
and there’s something about having someone to talk to whose has felt pain as well.
It is encouraging - it gives perspective to your own pain. Pain can really alienate someone,
and knowing that you’re not alone helps to draw you back into reality and face pain.
“Comfort from his love”
can refer to the peace they receive from God through being part of his growing community of believers.
But since the past paragraph spoke of suffering,
it is hard to see these words as unrelated to what has just been said.
They have comfort from being Christians, sure,
but they also have comfort from Christ’s act of love on the Cross,
suffering for their sins so that they would not have to.
Fellowship with the Spirit
Their Christian faith brings them into fellowship with the Holy Spirit,
God’s helper for his children.
He is with them always, in times of need and times of plenty.
Paul can’t be with them, because he’s in prison for his faith,
but the Holy Spirit will never leave them.
He is and always will be Jesus’ deposit of the complete salvation that is to come.
They also have tenderness and compassion.
Now, in the light of the other qualities, what does this mean?
Is Paul saying that they have been treated with tenderness and compassion