In this special season of anticipation, Father, help me to be attentive to what truly matters. Help me to be prepared to give reason for the hope that is mine because of Jesus.
Read PHILIPPIANS 1:12-18a
Paul’s Chains Advance the Gospel
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[a] that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard[b] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,
- Philippians 1:12 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verse 14; and in 3:1, 13, 17; 4:1, 8, 21.
- Philippians 1:13 Or whole palace
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Jesus embodies what it means to live a generous life; giving everything for us on the cross. Be thankful as you study today.
Paul is in chains simply because of his commitment to preach the gospel. Almost certainly he is in Rome: his reference to the ‘whole palace guard’ (v 13), the praetorian guard, is to the elite soldiers stationed in Rome. It is quite possible that Paul’s imprisonment at the heart of this powerful empire will end in execution (cf vs 19–21). He is in grave danger.
In this situation, how does Paul pray? I know how I would pray: fervently to be released! Not Paul, though. He rejoices in a new freedom that others are already experiencing, namely a greater liberty in gospel preaching (v 14). He does this even though some preach to ‘stir up’ trouble for him (v 17). Their actions could plunge him into even deeper difficulty, yet such is his passion for Christ that his own predicament pales into insignificance beside his burning desire to see the gospel proclaimed.
What is our attitude to kingdom growth, when we see it bursting into life? Perhaps another church in our neighborhood is growing and drawing people away from our own fellowship, or someone is preaching the good news in new ways and – seemingly – with wrong motives. Of course, we should ask questions of others’ gospel work – Paul certainly does. Yet our overriding response should still be joy that the kingdom is advancing. I confess that pastors like myself are the worst at this, often too concerned about growth in our own churches to rejoice in the fruitfulness of others! These verses call us to repent and to celebrate kingdom growth wherever it occurs. A secondary application is to carry that generosity into the whole of life and be glad when others are successful. Let’s be generous, for in so doing we reflect the heart of God.
Think of a church in your area that is growing. Rejoice in all that God is doing and pray that their outreach in the run-up to Christmas is fruitful.
Father in heaven, I pray for healing among Christians where there is bitter division; show them how to love one another, appreciating that they are all brothers and sisters in Christ, loved by him.
Last Updated on December 22, 2023 by kingstar