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Thanksgiving and Prayer July 22, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Philippians 1:3-11.

Summary: In this passage, Paul begins by telling the Philippians that he thanks (his) God at all times. In particular, he is thankful for the Philippians and rejoices in them, because of their cooperation towards the Gospel from his initial departure from Philippi up to the present time. His past experiences assure him that God, who has enabled them to cooperate with him in spreading the Gospel, will enable them to continue acting in this regard until the trial that is connected with the return of Christ.

Indeed, Paul notes that the Philippians have joined him in:

  • suffering for the Gospel
  • removing obstacles to the Gospel and establishing it.

This is a divine privilege, and it anchors them in his memory. God can confirm this, as he eagerly strains for them with the heart of Christ.

Now Paul prays that the love the Philippians possess – which characterizes the state of their souls – would continuously grow in terms of:

  • understanding the general principles of the Gospel
  • manifesting itself via practical application.

Thus, they can understand transcendent things, be unsullied and not stumble – all for the return of Christ. Paul concludes by praying that they would live the life of Christ and possess His righteousness – which manifests His power and causes men to recognize it.

Thoughts: One of the major themes of this passage is the joy that Paul feels regarding the Philippians, as they have cooperated with him in spreading the Gospel. Lightfoot offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 5:

…but here, as the context shows, it denotes cooperation in the widest sense, their participation with the apostle whether in sympathy with suffering or in active labor or in any other way. At the same time their almsgiving was a signal instance of this cooperation and seems to have been foremost in the apostle’s mind.

This reminds me of a ministry that one of my friends started a few years ago. I have definitely enjoyed cooperating with him in spreading the Gospel – mainly through prayer and financial support. Whenever we exchange e-mails he always thanks me for my support of his ministry and wishes God’s blessings on me – and so this passage truly hits home for me. Witnessing to those who are resistant to the Gospel is a rather challenging endeavor – both physically and mentally; my assumption is that missionaries view any support that they receive during such trying times as a gift from God, explaining the impassioned nature of their thanksgiving.

The phrase “day of Christ” appears twice in this passage; Lightfoot offers some thoughts on this phrase in his commentary on verse 6:

The idea of a testing is prominent: “God will advance you in grace, so that you may be prepared to meet the day of trial.”

It will be interesting to see if the notion of Christians anticipating a day of trial plays a role in the rest of this letter. For now, as believers we should ask, “are we preparing ourselves for the time when Christ returns? Will we be found faithful when He judges us on that Day?” Paul is definitely reminding us that as believers, we must allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and mold us so that we will be found “pure and blameless” by our Righteous Judge. Along these lines, we must resist the temptation to become overly focused on temporal matters, though that is a topic for another day.

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