Commentaries

This is my journaling commentary that began on January 1, 2022. It covers the entire 4 chapters, 104 verses, 2,183 words over the course of 12 months. Feel free to read, copy, & utilize in your own personal bible study. Throughout, the English Standard Version is used.

Philippians

January 1, Chapter 1, Verse 1a, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ,”

Who are Paul and Timothy, what was their relationship like, and what really is a servant of Christ.

I’ve read Paul’s letters for years, including Hebrews, and I can tell you he didn’t mince words, he was highly intelligent, well educated, especially in his use of semantics, was sometimes highly opinionated, and fiercely dedicated to his friends.

Paul was well-travelled, he worked hard, didn’t complain, and always encouraged people to be and do their best. As far as I can tell, he never denied his love for God and always, after he was saved, represented the gospel well.

January 2, Chapter 1, Verse 1a, con’t, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ,”

Timothy. Who was he and how did he handle his assignment in life? Obviously, a young man when he came to faith, he must have been very bold after he answered his call to preach because Paul defended his service. Also, it appears he was fiercely loyal to Paul, his father in the ministry. No doubt, as a young pastor, in a very young church, likely filled with older converts, Jews who were set in their ways, he did his vest to emulate his mentor–hence, the criticism about his young age. Apparently, he didn’t back down, didn’t give up or give in, and he continued to lead and preach the gospel with courage for the glory of God. I remember those days in my life. Challenged, often feeling defeated, but determined to continue because the call to preach, if it is real, is not from man but from God.

January 3, Chapter 1, Verse 1a, con’t, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ,”

Is a servant just a person who responds to the whim of another? Sometimes, yes. But not here. For Paul, a servant is someone whose life has been radically changed by God, causing that life to be so enriched that the person actually yearns to serve the one who changed it. When he moved from destroying lives of people who followed God to being a man who loved God and others more than his own life, it is no wonder the enemies of God took notice and opposed him. Paul, and those who followed his example, were not interested in building their own personal kingdom. Their servant lives were aimed at building God’s kingdom one soul at a time. We only serve God when we serve others for their gain and not for our own.

January 4, Chapter 1, Verse 1a, con’t, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ,”

Is it Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ? Christ, the anointed one, is a title describing what he is, the one chose to judiciously represent mankind in the matter of redemption. Jesus, on the other hand, which tells us who he is while leaving off his family identification, means “God is salvation.” So, he is both our representative before God in the matter of salvation and at the same time the source of our salvation. Semantic use, or word order, doesn’t change who he is or what he does. Paul is theologically accurate to call him the Christ who is Jesus and Jesus who is the Christ in the same verse. Either way, he is the savior of all who believe and accept the gospel message as portrayed in the New Testament.

January 5, Chapter 1, Verse 1b, “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons”

Who and what are these saints? The who is pretty easy–people that were mostly gentile who received the gospel preached by Paul and claimed salvation in Jesus Christ. The what requires some semantic investigation. The Greek word used in Paul’s letter is “hagios,” that typically means set apart or holy (agios). Are all believers saints? Yes. Are the saints to be viewed as super holy ones venerated by the church? No. We are all regular people who continue to struggle in the world but we are trying, as best we can, to be different from the world by being more like God. Is is a lifetime task that requires two daily investments: 1, time in the word and, 2, time in prayer.

January 6, Chapter 1, verse 1b, “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons”

How would the culture of the city shape the lives of its believers? Probably just like it does now with flavors of race, economic access, and competing faiths. In Paul’s time, Philippi was a wealthy Roman city who practiced polytheism focusing on Caesar worship. Patterned after Rome, the city was in Greece (Macedonia) near a seaport and gold mines. So it was modern, influential, and controlled by the military. The church at Philippi was Paul’s first in Europe. His message was new to these people and as word spread and more come to faith, Paul ended up in jail, was delivered by God, and established this beachhead for the gospel that would support his work when no one else could afford it–in spite of its members not being part of the wealthy class. Paul visited at least three times and helped establish a strong work for God.

January 7, Chapter 1, verse 1b, con’t, “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons”

Every church in every time needs leaders, good leaders. It was true then and it is now. The overseer ἐπισκόποις, episkopois, was a title given to public supervisors in civil life and the God-called men in church to “keep an eye” on the spiritual welfare of the local church. In today’s church, he would be an elder or presbyter, one who has protective responsibility rather than simply ruling authority. The deacon, διακόνοις, was a waiter or servant in the church, not a person of grand authority. Their responsibility was and is to make sure the needs of the church are met, especially those who struggle–particularly widows and orphans. The men were tasked with guiding the church so that its members could better understand and enjoy the benefits of grace and peace Paul would mention in verse two.

January 8, Chapter 1, verse 2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul extended grace and peace because he had been given the same. Most people cannot understand grace because everything else come with a price they have to pay themselves. And they cannot wrap their mind around Jesus paying that price through his self sacrifice. Who would do that? God. No person deserves grace and yet God still provided it. Most people do not even want it, but God still offers it. Grace is like that very expensive gift you receive for some special occasion and never find out who gave it. Every time you think about that gift, you are amazed. But grace was not give in secret. It was given very publicly as Christ hung on the cross and gave his life to give us grace to save us from our sin. Only when we receive grace will we ever have the secret, not to be understood, greatest right now benefit of grace, peace.

January 9, Chapter 1, verse 2, con’t, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The peace of God which, according to Paul in 4:7, surpasses all understanding, is not something we can fully understand. But is it an idea we cannot understand at all? Not at all. His peace is not elusive. It is the thumb print on the soul of every believer that give us a quiet spirit in the middle of every storm in life–if we are paying attention. Peace is not about the absence of chaos. It is about the presence of God. Learning to be aware of God’s actual presence in our daily lives is a big part of sanctification and it is something a lot of people ignore. Peace is present for every believer, but is is very elusive is do not take time to enjoy God and his word. You cannot learn the meaning of real peace reading a dictionary. It is only learned through a quiet, loving relationship with the one who gave it to you to begin with. Jesus is our peace.

January 10, Chapter 1, verse 2, con’t,

I have heard about and studied the one God in three persons for years–the Trinity. Trinity is not directly taught in the Bible. The word is not there. And yet there are very clear passages where two or all three persons of the Godhead speak or act at the same time. From Moses at the burning bush to Jesus’ baptism, God speaks. What’s the difference? Nobody truly knows. There are lots of opinions, some scholarly, but still just opinions. I know this: The Father speaks from heaven; the Son walked on the earth; the Spirit guides in my life and one these days I will see the fulness of God when I stand before him in the person of Jesus Christ. We will never fully understand God because he created us and is different from us. I am just thankful that the love of God has been applied to my life by faith in Jesus.

January 11, Chapter 1, Verse 3, “I thank my God in all my remembrances of you.”

Paul, just like always, clearly states his personal relationship with God. From God hater to God promoter, he was truly amazing in his God given ability to communicate. Apparently, he had some really good interactions with his disciples in Philippi because he was speaking about “actively” remembering them. For me, that is like bringing to memory a special event like getting married or the birth of a child. Paul wanted all who read this letter to know his deep feelings for his friends. And so should I–that is, let my very close friends, who are few, know how important they are to me. Without them, there would be a lot of very empty gaps in my life.

January 12, Chapter 1, Verse 4, “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy.”

Paul obviously care deeply for these believers in Philippi so he prayed for them. His prayers for them have two major features: 1) he prayed for them often and, 2) he prayed for them joyfully. That’s a good model to follow for every believer–especially when praying for those close to you. Not only that, but it is a good idea when praying about different people difficult circumstances. Bringing to remembrance the hard times will prevent bitterness and hatred. When those two rise in our hearts, it cripples our ability to represent Christ well in church and in the world. Pray more, expect God to answer, and watch how you change.

January 13, Chapter 1, Verse 5, “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

First it was husband and wife, then spouse, then marriage partner, then domestic partner, and now just partner or even worse, co-habitater. What’s the result? Throw away relationships. The are as widespread inside the church as they are outside. Paul used the word κοινωνίᾳ, koinonia, partnership, in clear context as an intimate relationship based on a common concern for anything and everything shared in a circumstance; i.e., living daily life together. This fellowship, or communion, or association, was and is the spiritual link that physically binds us together. Koinonia, or sticking together over the long haul, is the best proof that we really do care about each other, christian or not–but especially in the church. Come and stay. Do not come and go.

January 14, Chapter 1, Verse 5, con’t, “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

What exactly is the gospel? Paul made it clear in 1 Corinthians 15, “that Christ died for our sins. . .that he was buried. . .that he was raised on the third day.” If you add anything or take away anything, it becomes a commentary, not the gospel. How do we partner in the gospel? First, make sure that you know what it is as just stated. Second, learn from others how to share it based on our own experience. And third, take every opportunity to share with those who are not saved. And always remember this: you have no responsibility in convincing people they are sinner or in saving them. That is God’s work. Yours is only to share plainly and simply that Jesus saves–and that without Jesus, no one has any hope in eternity.

January 15, Chapter 1, Verse 5, con’t, “because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”

From the first day likely mean from the day they came to faith. We know from Paul’s report that the Philippians helped when others couldn’t or wouldn’t. What was their regular continuing partnership in the gospel? First, it was clearly financial. Paul had to eat, find shelter, support his team, and supply other needs as a traveling evangelist/missionary. These people helped make that happen over and over. So should every church support missions? Absolutely. Second, they continued the gospel work in Philippi after Paul left–church growth. Dr. Gray Allison (former president/founder of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary), used to say that the work of evangelism is not complete in a believer’s life until they have share their faith and led someone else to to faith. He was right. Participation in the gospel is not a one time, temporary event. It is a lifelong surrender to kingdom work here on earth.

January 16, Chapter 1, Verse 6, “And I am sure of this, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

How can you be sure about anything these days when there is so much turmoil in the world fueled by media and instant coverage of everything wrong in the world? You can’t unless you look past all the confusion and turn to the word of God and a life of faith. It is becoming increasingly hard to believe anything is true when so many talking heads change their story daily. But remember this, the Bible has not changed. The message is the same, God is the same, and believing faith is still the key to being able to trust God who you cannot see except in the life of those who follow him daily in spite of their circumstances. Jesus still saves, period.

January 17, Chapter 1, Verse 6, con’t, “And I am sure of this, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

You have to look way beyond this verse to catch its meaning. “Began” in the immediate sense means when the person accepted Jesus as Savior. In the broader sense, since God is Sovereign in all maters, it means God chose those who would believe before time as we know it began. Beginnings are important. For us, they are like dock moorings, something to hold onto to remember what was and then what is. Genesis 1:1 is the perfect example. But remember, God operates outside of time and space: he has no beginning and end, so dates and time are not important to him. They are for our benefit. While God knew before time I would saved, I did not know until Friday, April 6th, 1979 at 8 PM that the deal was done. Thank God for beginnings. And what he starts, he finishes.

January 18, Chapter 1, Verse 6, con’t, “And I am sure of this, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

This is one of the very difficult parts of being a believer that many do not want to discuss. Of course, becoming a believer is pretty east once you know the truth about Jesus; repentance and faith are the only ingredients. Living out the life we call Christian is another matter. In some ways, the longer you walk with God, the harder it gets. The more you are reminded of evil in you’re life, the harder you have to fight for good. And the harder you fight the fight of faith, the more opposition you will have to face from Satan, the father of lies. But the good news from Paul is that God will never leave his teaching post. The Holy Spirit will continue to guide and correct all the way up to the time when you meet God face to face. And at the day of Jesus Christ, completed will be stamped on the work he started in you when you were first saved.

January 19, Chapter 1, Verse 6, con’t, “And I am sure of this, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Aside from some controversy that arises from theologians discussing what day this is, it seems to me it is actually easy to understand when you look back to the beginning of the verse. Jesus began his good work in me wen I was saved, 43 years ago (1979). During that time, as I have read, studied, and meditated on the word, and prayed, all while seeking to share the gospel and help others with their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, God has continue to work in me by his Spirit. I don’t know how everything is going to work when I die or the rapture happens, but clearly when I stand before Jesus at his judgment seat, everything will be answered. This is the day of Jesus Christ, I have no doubt. I will be there because I’m saved. I will leave there with no tears or sadness. What a day that will be.

January 20, Chapter 1, Verse 7a, “It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in heart.”

Paul doubled down on his feeling about the church family at Philippi, and with good reason. The felt the same way about them and proved it by their actions in support of his missionary enterprise. Why is this statement so important and often glossed over? It is simple. At the very core of the Christian experience is the importance of the unbreakable relationship between God and believers through faith in Jesus and the permanent habitation of the Spirit in the life of every born again person. In every church family, all the members should feel the same way about each other as they stick together and support the work of the gospel all the while showing a needy world what caring really looks like.

January 21, Chapter 1, Verse 7b, “for you are all partakers of my grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.”

It was not grace from Paul, rather, as in Greek, συνκοινωνούς μου τῆς χάριτος, synkoinonous mou tes charitos, “fellow partakers with me of grace.” Just like Paul, all these saints in Christ were saved by grace through faith and had received the same powerful, life-changing redemption that comes from the gospel message. The result of their real faith brought an awesome result. In spite of the Roman religious mandate to worship Caesar, these new believers stood with Paul and defended him personally as he was imprisoned in Rome. And in his absence, they defended the gospel message and continued their own kingdom building work in their home city. That is what grace does when you get saved and surrender to serve God in an unbelieving world.

January 22, Chapter 1, verse 8, “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affections of Christ Jesus.”

There are two keys to understanding Paul’s feelings here: ἐπιποθῶ, epipotho, “yearn,” or long after and, σπλάγχνοις, splanchnois, “affection.” The first one indicates he strained after or greatly desired with a yearning love to be with them; kind of like when you are separated from your spouse or kids for too long and you start thinking about all the good times together. The second seems a little weird at first because it is the word for the internal organs, generally used for “emotion.” It is actually well placed because, in tandem with epipotho, it indicates figuratively–gut level compassion–as when your stomach hurts while you are thinking about someone you miss. It reminds me that I never have to feel that way about God because his is always with me even in the moments when I feel all alone.

January 23, Chapter 1, Verse 9, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment.”

Because Paul held these people so dear in his heart, he prayer that they would develop the same sort of love for each other. The big idea here is that he prayed. Once again, he majored on the most important part of believing. . .prayer. And he prayed specifically. Paul realized that loving each other as Christ loves us is a real challenge. Why? Because either other’s sin always get in the way. And that causes us to ake judgments about each other that just aren’t right. So, what must we do? We must love each other more and more in spite of what we know. We can only do that in relationship with Jesus and with a deep and inspiring prayer life that lets us see beyond ourselves.

January 24, Chapter 1, Verse 9, con’t, “And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment.”

There are two important words to consider here, knowledge, ἐπιγνώσει, epignosei and discernment, αἰσθήσει, aisthesei. The first is speaking to a particular perception, that is, first hand understanding of relationship, or more precisely, “contact knowledge.” This simply means that the way you learn best to love another person is to spend time with them. Amazing, right? In today’s society, we seem to have forgotten that, especially in what is left of the nuclear family where a mom and dad spend time together unhindered by the world’s pressures. πάσῃ, pase, all, with discernment means that as we learn love for each other we also learn to cut through any hazy or not clear moral matters and really “size up” or discern with clarity what it takes toward an ever growing, loving relationship to gain ground and strength no matter what any outside influence might suggest. So, love one another as Christ first loved us.

January 25, Chapter 1, Verse 10, “so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”

We test idea by doing and observing. That is what approve means here. With so many ideas in the world today, and some of them not clearly corrupt or clean, how do we test them? It’s really pretty easy. How does an idea stack up against the Word? If you find the bible doesn’t clearly address your inquiry, make sure what you are considering is legal and moral and doesn’t violate any other biblical teaching. And then, is your idea extremely valuable (excellent) for your life and the impact it will have on others? While it is simple enough to live an OK life either in cloister or avoidance, it is very difficult to live in an evil world while maintaining a high standard of conduct and trying to influence those who do not know Christ so that they might come to faith as they observe your life of walking with him.

January 26, Chapter 1, Verse 10, con’t, “so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”

How in the world do we do that? It certainly doesn’t mean sinless, so what does it mean? Paul’s intent was to lead us to clarity, or the idea of being transparent, like looking through a clean window or glass of water. And our transparency is to be heart-felt, or sincere, reflecting what is really in our heart as we go through life. On top of that, it means we have to do a lot of self-examination and constantly ferret out impurities. Living without blame is just as difficult. That means we have to walk through life not causing others to stumble as they observe us. It also means that how we live our life must not lead another person into sin. This is particularly important when we are dealing with new believers. As we mature in our faith, our ability to confront issues with forceful discernment could lead a young believer to think they should be as bold as we are before they are able to handle the consequences of their actions.

January 27, Chapter 1, Verse 11, “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God”

Here, the form of “filled” indicates “having been filled” and “being filled,” hence, we were filled with God’s righteousness when we were first saved and that continues to happen throughout our Christian life. As God matures us, while we are in the words and the word grows in us, we begin to better understand what it is we are supposed to be in the world and what that is supposed to look like. In other words, we change so that those around us see more of the attitude of Jesus in our lives, giving us more inner strength to overcome the effects of evil upon our lives, especially in our words and in our actions toward the unbelieving world who desperately need to be saved. He is developing our testimony so we an be good witnesses.

January 28, Verse 11, con’t, “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God”

I like fruit in my diet, some better than others. But that is about intake and physical metabolism; this is about spiritual maturity and making a kingdom difference in the world around us. This idea of bearing fruit is based on our relationship with Christ and how it results in an eternal yield–of righteousness. This righteousness is not something we work for as was supposed be the Jews in in Paul’s day. But, rather, it is imputed to us be God judiciously so that as we grow in Christ, and resist the worldliness that surrounds us, we learn to act justly and with true fairness in the daily aspects of life. A generation ago the question was, “What would Jesus do?,” replete with hats, t-shirts, and wrist bands. We should still ask that question and make sure our conduct bears out the result of our growing relationship with Jesus as we tackle life with kingdom intent.

January 29, Verse 11, con’t, “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God

In America, and probably the rest of the world, social media is quickly destroying an important part of our moral fabric. It used to be that every once in a while someone would get a compliment for a job well done. Now, not only does this “patting on the back” come way too often, people are complementing themselves ad nauseam. What happened that caused this? And why is it so rampant? Likely, it is because tired, confused, isolated people feel they are being forced to applaud themselves because they have lost, if they ever had, a firm grip on the reality of what life is really all about. Frankly, we don’t deserve as many accolades as we think we do. Only God is that good. Only God never lets us down and only God never leaves us or gives up on us. If we are going to brag and report on it, let us give God all the credit and all the accolades for only God is good.

January 30, Chapter 1, Verse 12, “I want you to know brothers, that what happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”

Paul always had a way of writing with clarity. It is important to note the he wanted others to have that same clarity, especially where it concerned the gospel. To know, the this context, from γινώσκω, ginosko, is a common greek word expressing the idea of learning something through personal experience. Also, it expresses the idea of “come to realize,” as in having a clear perception of something. So, Paul wanted his audience to clearly understand his situation. His audience, brothers, ἀδελφοί, were quite simply, fellow believers with him in the lordship of Jesus. They could have been mostly converted Jews, but more likely they were mostly gentiles led to faith in Christ by Paul himself. Being new to the faith, just like today, they needed clarity of thought so as to not be confused by non-believers and so they could share the faith with others.

January 31, Chapter 1, Verse 12, con’t, “I want you to know brothers, that what happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”

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