Lesson 3

Paul's Letter to the Philippians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

1:12 Now I desire to have you know, brothers, that the things which happened to me have turned out rather to the progress of the gospel; 1:13 so that it became evident to the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest, that my bonds are in Christ; 1:14 and that most of the brothers in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear. 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even out of envy and strife, and some also out of good will. 1:16 The former insincerely preach Christ from selfish ambition, thinking that they add affliction to my chains; 1:17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.

1:18 What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed. I rejoice in this, yes, and will rejoice.

Today's Lesson 

Paul had greeted the saints that were in Christ at Philippi. He prayed for them always because they had shared in the gospel from the first days until now. He was certain that God would complete the work that He had begun in them and that they would be found blameless on the Day of the Lord. He knew this because God had placed a deep love and concern for the Philippians on his heart. Because God had entrusted them into his care, he prayed that their love would abound more and more until they grew in knowledge and discernment. They would be filled with righteousness in Christ and their salvation would result in glory to God.


But with the love they had toward Paul would come concern over his incarceration. Paul wanted them to know that he was not distressed about his arrest and imprisonment. In fact, his arrest had led to the advancement of the gospel. When Paul had appealed to Caesar for a trial in Rome, he came under the protection of the Praetorian Guard until such time as the trial could be held. Paul the evangelist was being guarded by Caesar's own troops and he took the opportunity to speak with them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not only this, but other Christian evangelist were free to preach while Paul awaited trial. No one else was likely to be arrested until Paul's case was decided.


Paul was under house arrest during his first imprisonment in Rome. This was not to say that it was altogether pleasant, but he was able to receive visitors and speak with people freely. Paul had had to suffer under much worst conditions while on the road preaching the gospel from town to town. He certainly missed his freedom to travel and the opportunity to visit with the churches that he had helped to found. But he was able to speak with smaller groups and he was given the time to compose letters such as this one that in the long run have done more to advance the gospel than his freedom would have accomplished.


Paul told the Philippians that many of the brothers in the Lord were speaking out boldly because of his own circumstances and example. But there were also some that preached Christ out of envy and strife. These men were selfish and some even thought to add to the burden of Paul's imprisonment by their preaching. But Paul says that he is not overly concerned about this. He reasoned, "in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed. I rejoice in this, yes, and will rejoice." God can use a message even when the messenger is filled with sin and has impure motives. Even those who seek to undermine the gospel of Christ will serve to advance it.


God's purpose is set and His plan is clear. The gospel will advance no matter what individual people may try to do to prevent it. His will can not be thwarted by my failure. When I allow to the Spirit to work through me, I participate in the work of God and I am blessed through it. But when I refuse to allow God to work through me, God can and does still work in spite of me.


God's purpose will advance. Are you prepared today to advance with it? Are you ready to participate in the work that God will do today?


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