This is the page for all my resources and documents for the book of Philippians. The first section contains documents that survey the entire book. The next section is broken down by each passage. Click the label of any passage to expand for access to documents and information about each individual passage. Feel free to use and distribute any information you find helpful as long as you give credit where appropriate.
General Documents
Survey Videos
Individual Passages
Click on each passage to expand for more or less information
1:1-11 Introduction and Prayer
  • 1:1-2 Salutation
  • 1:3-8 Thanksgiving
    Detailed Outline Expand All + All Collapse All X All
    3-6 I always pray and hope for you all
    3-5 I always give thanks for you by praying for your partnership in the Gospel
    3-4a I always give thanks
    to my God
    upon every remembrance/mention of you
    To remember and therefore make mention
    in all my prayers
    4b-5 By making prayers
    on behalf of all of you
    with joy
    about our fellowship/partnership in the Gospel
    fellowship = having something in common, being in common cause
    the Philippians partnered with Paul, supporting him logistically, prayerfully, and financially
    from the first day
    until now
    6 Being convinced that God will finish His good work in you
    6a Being convinced of this very thing:
    6b The One beginning a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus
    God will not, cannot fail to bring to a successful completion that which He has started
    7-8 It is proper for me to think this way about you because I care for you in Christ
    7a Since for me to think this about all of you is right
    right in the sense of proper, justified, appropriate, proven
    7b-8 Reason: I care for you deeply in my heart
    7b Because I have you in my heart
    7c-8 Reason: You're my partners and I care for you
    7c Because you are all being fellow sharers of grace with me
    fellow sharers is a related word to fellowship in v. 5
    In my imprisonment
    In the defense and establishment/confirmation of the Gospel
    8 And because I have a strong affection for you in Christ
    8a God is my witness
    A formula that emphasizes the truth of what follows
    8b As I have a strong affection/yearning for all of you in the affection/compassion of Christ Jesus
    The affection/compassion which Christ has, He has implanted in Paul toward the Philippians
  • 1:9-11 Thanksgiving
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    9a I am praying this:
    9b-11 What Paul is praying and why
    9b That your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment
    abound has the implication of being more than what is expected
    discernment is the ability to perceive clearly and therefore to understand the real nature of something as opposed to its appearance or propaganda
    10-11 The result is that you will discern/approve what matters most and be blameless and pure
    10a That you may discern and approve what matters most
    discern (different word than in v. 9) means drawing a conclusion based on testing, with the result that it has passed the test and therefore is approved by testing
    what matters most means what is superior, having more worth. It is not always an issue of good vs. bad, but sometimes it is good vs. best. Don't settle for second best, hold out for, and pursue the best option.
    10b-11 So that you may be pure and blameless, filled with the fruit of righteousness
    10b-11a So that you may be pure, filled with righteousness
    10b So that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ
    pure has the connotation of sincere, without guile, hypocrisy or pretense
    blameless means being without fault because of not giving any ground for offense
    11a By being filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus
    11b Purpose: to the glory and praise of God
1:12-26 The Gospel is not Hindered
1:27-2:30 Live Worthy of the Gospel
  • 1:27-30 Conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the Gospel
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    27a Only live as citizens appropriately of the Gospel of Christ
    worthy/appropriately of the Gospel, not in the sense of deserving, but in the sense of appropriate, fitting - matching what is suitable and right
    live as citizens means to conduct one's life with reference to one's obligations to others
    The city of Philippi was an official Roman colony and therefore, its people were granted citizenship in Rome - a privilege they took seriously, with a lot of pride. Paul uses this to urge them to take their citizenship in the Kingdom of God as seriously, by living in a way that is appropriate for that Kingdom.
    27b-30 Purpose: so that you will live rightly and I will hear about it
    27b-e So that I am hearing the [good] things about you
    27b-d No matter if I am present or absent
    On Paul's presence and absence, cf. 2:12, Col. 2:5
    Paul's usual method was to stay in a place, planting a church until he was forced to leave, or until the church was healthy. Then he would move on to plant churches in other places. Then he would keep in contact with the churches via letter and also occasionally visit them as circumstances allowed.
    27b-c Whether coming and seeing you
    27b So that, either coming
    27c And seeing you
    27d Or being absent/far away
    27e I am hearing the things about you
    Almost certainly, Paul heard news about them through Epaphroditus, when he came to Paul to deliver the gift from the Philippians (see 4:18)
    27f-30 Specifically, what I am hearing
    27f That you are standing in one [unified] spirit
    standing means firmly holding conviction in belief and conduct
    Unity is a theme for this section and the next
    27g-30 Specific ways that they are now and are to continue standing firm in unity
    What follows is 3 items in parallel construction, describing the manner in which they are to stand firm in unity
    27g Toiling together with one soul, for the faith of the Gospel
    with one soul is emphasized by its position in the sentence. It means unity in mind, feelings, and will - all parts of the human personality. cf. Acts 4:32
    toiling together is a term with two components - 1) to contend/struggle/toil, which implies opposition, and 2) this struggle is done along with others doing the same, cf. 4:3
    the faith of the Gospel is a phrase occurring only here in the New Testament. It means either the 'faith' which is proclaimed in the Gospel or for the sake of people having faith, as the result of the proclamation of the Gospel.
    28-29 Not being intimidated, but trusting God in suffering
    28a Not being intimidated in anything by those opposing you
    In Acts ch. 16, we learn of the opposition to the church in Philippi. This opposition apparently continued after Paul left town. And here we learn that the church did not give in to this intimidation.
    But this is also an encouragement from Paul to continue resistance to any intimidating actions or circumstances
    28b-29 This is God's plan and proves you are on God's side
    28b-c This is proof of their destruction and your salvation
    The church's upright, unified behavior in the midst of opposition testifies to their God, their ultimate vindication, and the futility of all opposition to God's sovereign plan
    28b Neg: Which is to them proof of destruction
    28c Pos: but [proof of] your salvation
    28d-29 Your standing firm under intimidation is part of God's plan
    28d This is from God
    this is almost certainly referring to their standing firm under suffering
    For Paul to assure them that their suffering is not outside of God's control would be very assuring, as well as strengthening them for continued standing
    29 Reason: God has given you both to believe and to suffer
    29a Because this is granted to you on behalf of Christ
    granted has the connotation of graciously given, cf. 2:9
    Suffering for Christ is s privilege given by God, and will eventually reap great rewards
    29b-c to believe in Him and suffer for Him
    these two are parallel, strongly suggesting that their faith is granted by God as much as their suffering
    29b Not only to believe in Him
    29c But also to suffer on behalf of Him
    30 Struggling/fighting after my example
    30a Having the same struggle/fight
    Paul highlights the similarity of what they are going through with what he is going through
    30b-c Which you know I have and am going through
    30b You saw the same kind [of struggle] in me
    30c and you now are hearing [about the struggle] in me
    They are hearing about his situation [including his struggles] through the previous section of this letter
  • 2:1-11 Follow Christ's example in serving the interest of others
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    1 Grounds: Because these things are true
    The first section is a series of four if conditional statements, which Paul used as the grounds for the rest of the passage. Just like in English, Paul's word translated if can introduce something that everyone knows is not true. Like I could say, if pigs could fly... and we would all assume that this is not going to happen. But if can also introduce something that is unknown, which could go either way, like saying if we win the game tomorrow... We would have to wait and see who actually wins. And if can also introduce something that everyone already knows to be true. I could say, if politicians lie... and we would all take this as a given, as a true statement. In this last case, I could use the word since instead of the word if - since politicians lie...
    In Paul's four statements, it is almost certain that he intended them to be taken as true, like my last example. He used the grammatical form that signals the statement is assumed true for argument's sake. (see Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 690). And so, it would be appropriate to use the word since in Paul's statements, because he was using them as assumed facts in order to ground and strengthen the request he was about to make.
    These four statements are expressed in general categories, not necessarily referring to specific things. Because in each of them, Paul used a word that signals indefiniteness, any encouragement, any consolation, etc. In other words, Paul was saying that his readers had experienced some kind of encouragement, and he was willing to let the reader fill in the details of the specific kinds of encouragement that came to mind from their own life. And the same kind of general category is used in all four statements, assuming them to be true in some way for his readers to specify.
    And each of these four statements can be taken in one of two ways, or (as I think most probable) as a combination of these two dynamics. They are all referring to interpersonal relationships. They could refer to each Christian's relationship with Christ. For instance, any encouragement in Christ would mean the encouragement we have received from Christ. Or they could refer to the church's relationship with one another, and with Paul. In this case, any encouragement in Christ would mean any encouragement the Philippians received from one another and from Paul, because they are all together in Christ. I think it is a combination of all these dynamics. This book is characterized by a deep personal connection between Paul and this church, and an emphasis on the relationship between church members. So, Paul is saying something like, because we have mutual encouragement, consolation, fellowship, etc., because we are united in a common experience of these things from Christ, live this out in the way I am asking.
    1a Therefore, If/since there is any encouragement in Christ
    This means that we are emboldened, strengthened, and pushed toward good things by one another in Christ, because we are sharing the same encouragement which we have received from Christ.
    1b If/since there is any consolation of love
    This means that our mutual love works to take away or alleviate those negative things that occasionally happen in life. We pick one another up, because we have been picked up and rescued by Christ.
    1c If/since there is any fellowship of spirit
    This means that we have genuine common life, common goals, and common work, being united in spirit, because we have all been given the same new life which we share with Christ by His Holy Spirit.
    1d If/since there is any affection and compassion
    That is, because we all have genuine concern for one another, especially when someone is in need, because we all have received compassion and mercy from Christ when we were in need.
    All these statements describe a common care Christians have for one another because we have all experienced the same care from Christ. Paul assumed this was true for the Philippians, and used it as the basis for what he was requesting from them.
    2-11 Give me joy by having the other-serving attitude which Christ demonstrated
    2a Fulfill my joy
    Paul's main command in this passage is simply to fulfill my joy. That means make my joy full, or complete. Philippians is a very joyful letter, and Paul consistently expressed his joy in the Philippians - in their discipleship and partnership with him in the Gospel. Here he asked them to make him as joyful as possible, by living out their discipleship to the fullest extent possible, and by acting out their partnership in the Gospel to the fullest extent possible. And thereby, they would complete Paul's reason for joy on their behalf. Just like Paul earlier expressed his confidence that God would complete His work in the Philippians (1:6), here he is asking them to cooperate in this transformation, and so complete Paul's joy in God's work in them.
    The rest of the passage is, in essence, a description of how they could complete his joy. In other words, Paul described what they should do and how they should think in order to be the kind of mature disciples he would delight in them becoming. He described the manner of attitude and lifestyle they should adopt in order to fulfill this command. He commanded, fulfill my joy, and then he wrote and here's how. Of course, the here's how is the heart of this passage - what Paul really wanted to accomplish. All that he had just written was the rhetorical packaging to motivate them to do what he was about to describe in the next few verses.
    2b-11 Manner: How you can make my joy full:
    2b-4 Have a unified, serving attitude
    2b That is - you all should have the same mindset/attitude
    Paul commanded the Philippians to have the same mindset, to think the same thing. This word is a verb, to think this way. But the word means so much more than think, and because there is no similar English verb, it is usually translated something like have this mindset. This word overlaps the meanings of the English words attitude, mindset, and thinking. It is similar, yet slightly different from all these concepts. It is like having a certain attitude, but not quite. Because we typically think of attitude as something that changes. One day you have a good attitude, and the next day you don't. But Paul is commanding his readers to have something that is more of a settled character habit - a consistent disposition of life and attitude. It is like a mindset, except it refers to more than just thinking. It involves emotions and gut level desires. And all of this results in a consistent way of thinking about and processing everything around us. It is our default way of seeing, evaluating, and reacting to the world.
    And Paul wanted them to have the same mindset, to think the same thing, to have a unified attitude. This is not at all talking about some kind of forced uniformity of thought, where we lose intellectual autonomy. Just the opposite. Paul was encouraging them to voluntarily conform their thinking to Christ, because He is right and true. When we conform to the truth of Christ, we become freest of all in our thinking, because He is the real Lord of all. The only people who resort to manipulating people's thoughts, or forbidding certain kind of thinking, or using propaganda, are those who are pushing falsehood. And as we'll see in the way Paul will elaborate, he emphasized the unity that would happen when all the Christians together brought themselves into conformity with a truly Christian mindset.
    As any sports team or business with testify, when there is genuine unity of purpose and goal and methods, when everyone is working together in the same direction, it is not only more successful, but it is more pleasant to be a part of. Paul commanded them to have the same mindset/attitude, to think in the same general direction.
    2c-4 Specifically: Have an other-serving attitude
    Paul continued to elaborate what he was asking with a number of additional phrases, which are grouped into three categories.
    2c-e Have the same united, loving, mindset
    2c Having the same love
    They should all love one another, with no one left out, with no one refusing to participate in this love. That they would all be together in their mutual love for one another.
    2d Being united in spirit
    Literally, this word is together in soul. Paul wanted them to be harmonious, to have a similarity of attitude, to be in one spirit. This is kind of like what you see in a healthy marriage after they have been together for a long time. They start to think in the same way, and are on the same mental track together. They know what the other is thinking before anything is spoken. This is sometimes described as their souls being knitted together. This is similar to the kind of attitude and phenomenon that Paul wants the church to experience in their mutual care for one another.
    2e Having a mindset/attitude of unity
    Literally, this is to think the one. This is the same word, and almost the exact same phrase as the overall command to have the same mindset in 2b. Here the emphasis is to have one mindset, a unified mindset. Again, this is nothing like the forced uniformity of totalitarian societies, but it is a genuine unity based on mutual love and unified purpose and goals.
    3 Don't be selfish, but consider others more important
    This concept is explained with a positive/negative contrast. what they are not to do is stated along with what they are to do, so that each will mutually explain and reinforce one another.
    3a-b Pos: Don't act out of selfishness and pride
    3a [do] nothing according to selfish strife
    This is self-centered ambition, which sometimes involves rivalry or resentment. This same word was used in 1:17 where Paul described the motivation for some talking about Christ in a way they thought would harm Paul.
    3b neither according to vain pride
    This refers to an exaggerated evaluation of your own importance. This kind of empty pride and self-centeredness should not be the motivating cause of anything that a mature Christian thinks or does. These kinds of attitudes are not appropriate in the church, and will only bring problems.
    3c Neg: but with humility consider one another to be of more value/more important than yourself
    This means we should consider others better than ourselves. Paul is not suggesting that Lebron James should think that I am better at basketball than he is. Paul is not asking us to lose touch with reality or deny that some people have different giftings and abilities. God has designed us to be different and excel at our own particular callings. Unity was never intended to be uniformity, and the kind of mindset that claims everyone should be equal in outcome at everything is not only denying reality, it is denying God who created us different. On the other hand, just because someone is good at sports or acting (for instance), this does not mean that I should care what they have to say about other issues in which they do not have any expertise. Paul is not talking about any of this kind of stuff, which our society makes such a big deal about.
    Paul means that we should consider other people to be valuable and important and worthy of our consideration, care, and courtesy, especially among the community of believers. He is commanding the opposite of self-centeredness. He is commanding consideration of others. Instead of putting yourself first, put others first. We should consider others ahead of ourselves.
    And Paul added that we should do this in humility. The best definition of humility that I have heard goes back to C. S. Lewis. He said, in essence, it is not thinking of yourself too highly. But neither is it thinking of yourself too lowly. It is not thinking of yourself at all (see Mere Christianity, Book 3, Chapter 8). That means that true humility, the kind that Paul was encouraging, is not focused on ourselves. But it is focused on others, for the sake of Christ. If we think very highly of Christ, we will not think of ourselves too highly. And we will consider others for the sake of Christ.
    4 Don't focus on yourself, but care for others
    Again, Paul taught by way of contrast, first saying what not to do, in order to highlight what we should do.
    4a Neg: Each [of you] not [only] focusing on/paying attention to your own matters/concerns
    Paul is not forbidding that we take care of our concerns. Rather, we are not to focus exclusively on them. We are to care about other things beside ourselves and the things that are important to us. This is elaborated in the next proposition.
    4b Pos: But each [of you] also [focusing on/paying attention to] the matters/concerns of others
    We should keep our eyes open, looking out for one another, and making sure the other person is taken care of.
    Paul's point is similar to the old saying, happy spouse, happy house. This means, in a marriage, if the husband is selfish, and only tries to make himself happy, and tries to use his wife only for his own selfish benefit. And if, at the same time, the wife has the same attitude, only trying to make herself happy, and trying to make her husband do what she wants. Neither the husband nor the wife will ever be happy; Neither will get what they want. They will both be miserable and make each other miserable.
    But if the husband makes an effort to make his wife happy, if he puts her wants and needs before his own, and if the wife does the same for her husband. Then they will both get what they want, and they both will be happy.
    In a similar way, if each member of a church family is looking out for others, we will all meet the needs of one another and take care of one another, and thereby, we all will be taken care of.
    This is the kind of mindset, attitude, and actions which Paul commanded his readers to have toward one another, in a unified, serving attitude. At this point, all this may seem like wouldn't that be nice, but I don't know that it could ever happen. It may seem unrealistic that selfish, sinful people would ever be able to live like this. And that is why, in the rest of the passage, Paul brings out the big guns. The imperative follows from the indicative. Gospel behavior always comes from Gospel truth. Paul does not expect that we could ever love one another in this way by our own decision or will power. Remember, all of this passage is part of Paul's instructions how we can live out the Gospel of Christ. And so, Paul next explicitly connected it with Christ.
    5-11 Imitate the mindset/attitude of Christ
    5 Have THIS mindset/attitude in you, which was also in Christ Jesus
    We are not to try to do this on our own, but we are to imitate the mindset, attitude, and actions of Christ. Have this mindset/attitude is the same word he had been using throughout this passage (see the comment on 2b). Our mindset, our attitude and way of thinking that influences all of our actions should be conformed to Christ and the Gospel. It should be empowered by Christ and the Gospel as we are changed by Christ and the Gospel.
    This passage is profitable on two levels: First, as Paul intended it, we need to understand what Christ did as an example for our own attitude and actions. We need to ask, how does this instruct and help me to live humbly, putting others first? But at the same time, we need to understand all this tells us about Christ (which was also Paul's intention, but less explicitly, as he probably assumed the Philippians already knew most of this). In other words, how does this help us to grasp the nature and mission of Jesus as a whole? and What does this passage contribute to our knowledge of Christ as our Savior and Lord?
    6-11 Like Jesus put others first, and therefore, God exalted Him
    6-8 Even though He had the right to be first, He put others first
    During His life on Earth, He did not insist on His outward glory, and did not demand to always be treated as the boss (even though He certainly still was the boss). Rather, He gave and served for the sake of others.
    6a Even though He exists in the exact form of God
    Paul started his description of Christ by saying that He is equal with God (the Father). Exists in the exact form of God does not mean that Jesus is like an action figure or bobble-head, having the form, but not being the same. In the next phrase, Paul will clearly say that Jesus is equal with God. And the word form which Paul used means the outward appearance, but more than just the appearance. It means the actual shape, the exact nature and character of something. This word always signifies a form which truly and fully expresses the being which underlies it (Nicoll, The Expositor's Greek Testament, Vol. 3, p. 436). This is another clear example of the deity of Christ, which leads us to the doctrine of the Trinity. Jesus had the actual nature and outward glory of God. And Paul used this statement to set up the contrast with what Jesus did.
    6b-8 He didn't behave selfishly, but humbled Himself
    6b Neg: He did not consider being equal with God something to be selfishly grasped
    He did not consider...
    Consider is the same word used in 3c when Paul said we should consider others above ourselves. It reflects this mindset, attitude and way of thinking that Paul had been commanding.
    ...being equal with God...
    Equality with God means equality with God. There is no denying or getting around this simple, straightforward statement. Paul wrote that Jesus was and is the same as God the Father in His deity. Again, we see clear evidence of the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.
    ...something to be selfishly grasped.
    But even though Jesus is equal with God, He did not think that this was something to be grasped. This phrase something to be grasped is an attempt to translate the one word which Paul used. This can be a confusing topic, and there are a variety of views. It can mean the act of grabbing and holding on to something (sometimes violently). It can also refer to something that is taken, such as plunder. And it can refer to something precious, which is held onto tightly.
    I think a helpful way to illustrate and understand how Paul used this word is to notice that the Old King James bible translated this word as robbery - He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. That might make it more confusing at first, but bear with the explanation.
    If you sneak into someone's house while they are away, and steal their stuff, that is burglary, not robbery. But if you go up to someone, grab their stuff and take it away from them, that is robbery. So, we can imagine the cliche of a purse snatcher: Some little old lady is minding her own business, when a bad guy grabs her purse and tries to run away. The bad guy is grabbing on to her purse, holding it tightly, and thinking Mine! That is robbery. However, imagine that the old lady is feisty and she sees the bad guy coming. She will hold on to her purse and not let go. She would hold it tightly and be thinking Mine! That is also robbery according to the Old English definition. And the word Paul used could mean the bad guy illegitimately grabbing and holding on to something that was not rightfully his. But it could also mean the lady grasping and holding on to something that legitimately was hers.
    So here, Paul said that even though equality with God, and all its outward manifestations and honor, rightly belonged to Jesus, He did not selfishly insist on Mine! Mine! for things that were rightfully His. Rather, He gave them up.
    Jesus, as God, had a right not to suffer, to not be treated unjustly. He had a legitimate, inherent right not to be crucified. And for our sake, He did not selfishly hold on to that privilege, even though He legitimately had every right to do so. At the transfiguration (see Matt. 17:1-9) part of Jesus's true glory, which was usually hidden, was revealed. Imagine if He had walked around like that all the time, with His full glory shining. People would have fallen on their face and worshipped Him. They would have recognized Him as God and treated Him as God. They would have hung on His every word and immediately obeyed His every command. But they would not have arrested and crucified Him. And that is what He came for. Back in Genesis (see Gen. 3:4-5), the first temptation included the false promise that you will be like God. And when Jesus was being tempted by the devil in the wilderness (see Matt. 4:1-11), the devil said, in essence, just use your divine powers to avoid suffering, and show yourself to be marvelous, and take rulership of all the kingdoms of the world, but do it in a way that avoids the cross. The desire to be treated as a god is a constant temptation for all of us. And Jesus rejected that temptation, not only in the wilderness, but throughout His earthly life. Because His mission was to go to the cross and not avoid it. His character is to give and help, and His nature is gracious, loving, and giving. So, Jesus never did think equality with God was something to be selfishly held on to, to the exclusion of His greater mission and purpose.
    7-8 Pos: Rather, He humbled Himself
    7 He humbled Himself by taking on humanity
    7a But He emptied Himself
    We need to be careful here, because many people have fallen into heresy by misunderstanding this phrase. When Paul said He emptied Himself, this does not in any way mean that Jesus stopped being God, or that Jesus gave up any of the attributes and character of God. It does not say that Jesus emptied Himself of His divinity or His omniscience, or His omnipresence. It does not say He emptied Himself of anything. Rather, it says that He emptied Himself, similar to what Jesus commanded His disciples - that they deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him (see Lk. 9:23).
    Paul clearly defined what he meant by emptied with three modifying phrases. And each of these phrases do not mention anything being taken away. Rather they talk about humanity being added. Jesus emptied Himself by taking on humanity, not by taking off any part of His deity.
    7b-d How He emptied Himself - He took on human nature
    7b Taking the form of a servant
    This word form is the same one used in 6a to say that Jesus is in the form of God. The One existing in the form of God did not cease to be in the form of God. But His form as God was hidden by His putting on the form of a servant. The significance of Paul's word servant (or slave) is shown in Jesus's attitude of service and obedience, as well as His death by crucifixion, which was reserved for slaves.
    7c becoming into the likeness of a human
    He changed state so that now He is also in the likeness of humanity. Jesus now has two natures. He has always had the full nature of God. And after the incarnation, He now has the full nature of humanity. This term likeness is used in Rom. 8:3 to say that Jesus had the likeness of sinful man (without the sin). This term separates the two entities somewhat. The term form (in 6a and 7b) means the exact form, whereas this term can mean only a similarity.
    7d and being found in outward appearance as a human
    And He took on the outward appearance of a man. However, this does not mean that Jesus only appeared to be human. He actually was (and still is) fully human, just not a normal human. He was completely without sin. And He was fully human while also still remaining fully God. Paul's stress was that, judging only by outward appearance, He was fully human, even though He was God by nature.
    Being a normal human being is not a big deal for us. It is what we were created to be. But for the One Who is God, this is quite a step down in status and glory. It was a huge demotion, that Jesus willingly took for our sakes. Jesus emptied Himself by taking on the form and nature of humanity, with its inherent limitations.
    8 He humbled Himself even unto death
    This verse is a progression of three statements. Each statement adds to the previous, going further along the same progression of thought, describing the depths of how Jesus lowered Himself for the sake of His people.
    8a He humbled Himself
    He made Himself low. Not just by becoming human, but He humbled Himself even further by becoming obedient, event to death on a cross. His giving up of His prestige and status did not stop merely with His becoming human, even though this is an infinite loss of status compared with His equality with God.
    8b-c Becoming obedient unto death on a cross
    8b becoming obedient unto death
    He continued down to the lowest status and experience of humanity. He took on the nature and attitude of a servant, being obedient. And He did not just become obedient, He became obedient even unto death.
    8c even [becoming obedient unto] death on a cross
    And He did not just become obedient to death, He became obedient to death on a cross. This was the most painful, most humiliating, most despised form of death reserved for only the lowest classes of humanity like slaves and rebels. It was something so humiliating that it was not talked about in polite society.
    This is the kind of loving, giving God that He is. He is not needy. He has nothing to prove. He is infinitely great and will always remain so. And so, He was willing to stoop down and save us, even at great cost to Himself. He is so great that He could afford to pay that cost. But this also highlights the great cost that He did pay on our behalf, not just by dying on the cross, but also in humbling Himself to become a human, because that was the only way to bring us back to God. And He did genuinely become human, so that we can forever related to Him, because He related to us.
    He might have used the miraculous powers inherent in His Divine nature in such a way as to compel men, without further ado, to worship Him as God. Instead of that He was willing to attain this high dignity by the path of humiliation, suffering and death. Expositor's Greek Testament, Vol. II, p. 437.
    Remember, this is to be an example that we follow. In light of what Christ has done, how could we refuse to endure a little inconvenience for the sake of someone else? We can give up some of our status and privilege so that someone else can hear the Gospel and grow in discipleship. We don't need to insist on our rights and status, or hold it over other people.
    Christian leaders do not need to be treated as celebrities. It bugs me whenever someone insists on being addressed as reverend doctor so and so. If someone insists on this in order to puff their pride or exalt their own status, lording it over others, than that seems like evidence that they are not following this self-humbling Savior as closely as they should be. If someone insists that they are something great, they are probably not. Because if they were, you would not need to be told.
    And this is not just for Christian leaders. Every Christian should be willing to take a lower status to serve others, outside of the spotlight. Our reward and status is secured with Christ in heaven. We have been accepted in Christ. So, what do we have left to prove about our own status and greatness? Our identity is in Christ. Therefore, we no longer have a need to selfishly grab and say Mine! We can empty ourselves and put others first, just like He did.
    And the rest of this passage will give and even greater reason for us to humble ourselves and serve.
    9-11 Therefore, God exalted Him above everything
    This section also starts with the word therefore. This connects these verses with the previous ones. This connects what God did (as described in this section) with what Christ had done, as just described in the previous verses.
    9 Therefore, God exalted Him and gave Him the Highest Name
    Because Christ had humbled Himself and taken on human nature, and the role of a servant, giving His life for His people. God responded and did two things which Paul listed here.
    9a Therefore, God also exalted Him to the highest height
    God raised Him above everything. God exalted Him to the very highest point of honor. Christ voluntarily made Himself low, and God raised Him high. Christ gave up His privilege and honor, and God gave Him the highest privilege and honor. Christ was humbled for a time, and for a purpose, but God would not allow His time of humiliation to be permanent. This is not only because God is just, and honor is Christ's deserved reward. But this is also because Christ's exaltation was the ultimate purpose of His going through humiliation all along. Like Hebrews 12:2 says, Christ endured the cross for the joy set before Him. He knew His resurrection and exaltation was all part of the plan from the beginning. This is exaltation back to the equal status with God the Father which He had before the incarnation. But it also included a new status of having completed the plan to save humanity, and being the resurrected Lord of the new humanity.
    9b And He granted to Him the Name which is beyond every name
    His Name surpasses other names, meaning that He is more exalted and excellent and glorious than all others. In this period, a person's name was more than just a title. It signified their character and status. So, the Name of Christ refers to His inherent being. Jesus now has the very highest honor over anyone else. In one sense, He already had that honor, being equal with God. But here Paul emphasized that, as a result of His ministry, Christ is publicly, officially acknowledge by the Father as having the highest status.
    If a list were made of the most important people of all time, Jesus's Name would be at the top. And this is not just a popularity contest or the result of a press agent promoting His image and brand. This is reality. Jesus really is Lord over all, with the highest glory, honor, and authority. He really is infinitely better than anyone else. And this means that when we tell people the good news, we are not just trying to force our opinion on them. We are trying to help them find and recognize reality. Jesus genuinely is worthy of all praise and honor. His salvation really is the greatest thing that can happen to any human being. And we are spiritually blind if we don't see it. And God validated all this in response to what Christ had done.
    10-11 Purpose: So that everyone will acknowledge Him as Lord
    God did all this for a purpose. This is a singular purpose, described in a few phrases.
    10 So that every knee - in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth - will bow at the Name of Jesus
    This is a sign both of submission, acknowledging Christ's Lordship and greatness, but also of an act of worship, delighting in that greatness. And Paul emphasized that every knee will bow, in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth. The good guys and the bad guys will all submit to Christ and acknowledge His Lordship.
    11 And every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord
    11a And every tongue will confess to the glory of God the Father
    Notice again, that this is every tongue. Everyone will eventually acknowledge Christ. Some will joyfully, willingly confess because they are saved, having believed in Christ. But others, even as they will be punished eternally, will acknowledge that they were wrong all along about Christ.
    And all this, Paul wrote at the end of this passage, is for the glory of God the Father. Because the Father and Son share the same glory and glorify each other for all eternity. Again, this is the doctrine of the Trinity.
    11b That Jesus Christ is Lord
    This proposition is simply the content of what will be confessed, as described in the previous proposition. The fact is that Jesus is the Ruler, Master, and King of the entire universe. In the context of the Philippian church, with their Roman citizenship, this meant that Jesus was Lord over Caesar, and the church's loyalty to Christ should be greater than their loyalty to Rome. And this obviously applies to every Christian of every age, no matter what political system they live under. Christ is a greater authority than anything else, and so, deserves greater loyalty than anyone or anything else.
    These two phrases together are another confirmation of the deity of Christ - that He is God. Because in Isaiah 45:23 (which Paul was alluding to), God swore that every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will swear by Him, that He, the LORD, is righteous, and His enemies will be put to shame. And this is in a context where He says that there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior, there is none but me. (v. 21). And in Isaiah 42:8, God swore that He would not share His glory with another. So, here in Philippians it says that God's purpose is that Christ will receive the glory that is due to God alone, which is clear evidence that He is God.
    There are two things we should grasp from God's response of glorifying Christ to the highest: First is that Christ truly is exalted, and worthy of all our worship and trust and obedience. He is Lord and God, with the Name above all names. So, our knee should bow and our tongue confess, even now.
    And second, notice that Paul included this exaltation after humbling as part of the patter to be taken as our example. This was to encourage his readers in their own humble attitude of service. The implication is that just as God rewarded and exalted Christ after He had humbled Himself and served others, we also can expect that if we genuinely humble ourselves and serve others, then God will reward and exalt us as well. Of course, we won't be exalted as high as Jesus, because we didn't do as great an act of humility as He did. But God will in some way lift us up and bless us, as we put others first and take the role of a servant. This is the theme that I call V for Victory. The way up is first to go down in service, trusting that God will lift us up.
  • 2:12-18 Work out your salvation because God works
  • 2:19-30 The example of Timothy and Epaphroditus
3:1-4:1 Stand Firm in the Gospel
  • 3:1 Rejoice in the Lord
    Detailed Outline Expand All + All Collapse All X All
    1a Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord
    rejoice is a key word in Philippians. Paul uses it in 1:18, 2:17, 18, 28, 4:4, 10 as well as in this passage.
    Joy is a normal characteristic of a thoughtful Christian, not because of outward circumstances (which change often), but because of the truth of what Christ has accomplished, and its result for the inward circumstances and eternal destiny of the Christian.
    1b-c Writing this is no harm to me, and does you good.
    Paul addresses the motivation for his writing. It is not a negative for him, and it is potentially a positive for them. This is not so much a contrast between these two realities, as a 'both/and'. It is a good thing on both ends, for both parties.
    This affectionate language is a reflection of the great relationship between Paul and this church.
    This section may refer backward to rejoice, but in light of the idea of safety in 1c, it may also refer ahead to the warning in 3:2-11
    1b It is not bothersome to me to write these things to you
    bothersome has the connotation of something that would cause someone to hesitate, to be reluctant. Paul, by using the understated negative of this idea, probably means something like, not only is it not a bother, it is a joy, a privilege for me to write these things
    1c And it is a safe thing for you
    safe thing has the connotation of a safety/security feature, a safeguard like a guardrail. Hopefully it is not necessary to state this, but just in case, Paul will say it for their spiritual protection
  • 3:2-11 Glory in Christ, not the flesh
    Detailed Outline Expand All + All Collapse All X All
    2 Beware of those opposed to the way of Christ
    This is probably a reference to Jewish teachers who tried to convince Gentile Christians to follow the Jewish Law and traditions, claiming that they are necessary for the Christian life. This same kind of opponents plagued Paul in many other of the churches he started. The entire Book of Galatians was written to deal with exactly this issue.
    Paul warns the Philippians to be on the lookout for these types of people, obviously to resist/reject their teaching
    2a Look out for the dogs
    dogs is an insult in the Jewish culture, because dogs were considered unclean
    2b Look out for the evildoers
    2c Look out for those who mutilate the flesh
    mutilate the flesh is an ironic wordplay on circumcision, which Paul argues could result in spiritual destruction as well as physical damage.
    See the book of Galatians for Paul's teaching on whether Gentile Christians should undergo the rite of circumcision, and the theological reasons for his answer.
    3-11 Reason: We are those who are the true followers of Christ
    3a For we are the circumcision
    i.e. the true circumcision, of the heart, not just flesh, cf. Deut. 30:6, Rom. 2:29, Col. 2:11
    3b [We are] those serving by the Spirit of God
    serving refers to the carrying out of religious duties. This refers to good religious actions in contrast to the useless/harmful religious activities recommended by the opponents. There are ways to worship and serve God that are God-given and pleasing to Him. There are also ways which are human inventions, which are not pleasing to God.
    And the difference Paul highlights is that the good actions are motivated and empowered by God's Spirit.
    3c-11 We are those who boast/put our confidence in Christ
    3c-d General statement: We put our confidence in Christ, not in the flesh
    3c Positive: and [we are] boasting in Christ Jesus
    boasting is to take pride and to have confidence in something. We all have something (or things) that we think about which make us feel good about ourselves - something that we have accomplished or that we identify with in some way (even if it is just a sports team). And we put our hope in the possibility that it will continue to cause good things in our life. Most things will eventually disappoint us.
    But Paul emphasizes that His basis for hope, identity, and confidence is Christ Himself, who will never disappoint.
    3d Negative: and [we are] not putting confidence in flesh
    Notice that Paul does not say in the flesh which might be taken to mean in ourselves, but he says in flesh which means that he has no confidence in any part of humanity, including himself.
    4-11 Specific example and application from Paul's life
    4-6 Negatively: Paul doesn't put any value on his fleshly accomplishments
    4a Disclaimer: Although I [could be] having confidence in flesh
    Paul could put confidence in the flesh from a worldly point of view, based on his experiences, background, and accomplishments. Paul only brings this up to show how foolish it is to put confidence in even the highest of human attainments, compared with the alternative of putting confidence in Christ.
    4b-6 the explanation of what Paul could put confidence in:
    4b Rhetorical comparison: If someone else thinks [they have reason] to put confidence in flesh
    Notice how Paul has repeated the phrase confidence in flesh three times in the last three propositions.
    Paul compares himself to his opponents. His life could meet any standard they teach, but he knows that no human standard is high enough to meet God's standard. And so, Paul insists on a completely different standard, the standard of Christ's righteousness, given through faith.
    4c-6 Rhetorical response: I have more reason for confidence in the flesh
    4c General statement: I have more
    Paul is claiming to beat his opponents, even on their standards. He does not do this to give credence to his opponent's standards, but as a setup for the following contrast - that even the best of human achievement pales in comparison to Christ's righteousness.
    5-6 Specific examples of his reasons
    5a-d List of reasons considered absolutely
    This first list describes Paul's personal heritage as a model Jew
    5a being circumcised on the eighth day
    From birth, Paul followed the Law by initiation into Israel's covenant sign, cf. Gen. ch. 17
    5b being from the people of Israel
    5c being from the tribe of Benjamin
    5d being a Hebrew of Hebrews
    this probably refers to the fact that Paul was a native Hebrew speaking Jew, i.e. the epitome of Jewish heritage
    5e-6 List of reasons according to a standard
    This second list emphasizes Paul's track record of Law keeping and personal righteousness according to Jewish standards
    5e According to the Law - a Pharisee
    Pharisees were the strictest sect in observing the Law
    6a According to zeal - persecuting the church
    Paul's zeal for the Law led him to persecute those who he thought transgressed, dishonored, or disregarded the Law
    6b According to righteousness by Law - being blameless
    Paul goes so far as to claim that he was perfect as far as the requirements of the Law
    7-11 Positively: Paul puts no value on those things, but absolutely all value on knowing Christ
    7 I have considered these things to be disadvantage/loss compared to Christ
    7a Which things [once] were [considered] advantage/gain to me
    gain refers to any kind of profit, benefit, or advantage. cf. 1:21
    Paul once thought these things listed above were important because they gave him an advantage in his relationship with God.
    7b I have concluded these things are disadvantage/loss for the sake of Christ
    concluded refers to a mental process of consideration. But the tense of the verb highlights that the process is finished, and the result of the process is settled - I now hold this opinion as the result of the process of thinking it through
    disadvantage/loss is obviously the opposite idea of advantage/gain in 7a. This could mean that Paul considers himself to have lost all of these things as a result of being in Christ. In this case, he would say that he does not miss it at all. But it more likely means that Paul now considers these things to be of no advantage, to the point that they may even be a detriment if they at all take away from the new thing (Christ) that is of all advantage by comparison. This may be slight exaggeration to say these things are disadvantage instead of saying that they are of no advantage. But in light of the infinite advantage of Christ, to say these things are of no advantage would be to understate the reality.
    for the sake of could be translated because of, in which case it would mean that the past reality of Christ results in Paul's conclusion and attitude. This is doubtlessly true, but it is probably not the meaning and emphasis here. It could be translated for the sake of and mean for the benefit of Christ and/or His cause. This is certainly possible, and Paul says something similar in other places (e.g. Col. 1:24-25). But in the context of the following verses, it most likely means for the sake of in the sense of the reason why I do this is the possibility of experiencing Christ. In this case, the ideas of reason and purpose are blurred in this preposition, which also occurs with the same sense in 8a and 8b.
    8a-b I consider all things to be disadvantage, loss compared to Christ
    8a But, more than that, I also consider all things to be disadvantage/loss for the sake of the surpassing greatness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord
    This proposition is partially a repeat of the previous one, but Paul emphasizes that he is taking the argument a step further by saying more than that, and also with two major differences:
    First, Paul emphasizes that, not only the things listed above, but absolutely every thing else is considered loss compared to Christ.
    Second, Paul gives the reason why he considers all things to be loss - because of the surpassing greatness of the knowledge of Christ. surpassing greatness has an inherent connotation of being better compared with something else - to surpass in value, to be better. And the thing which is of surpassing value is the knowledge of Christ Jesus. Paul will elaborate more precisely what he means by this phrase down in v. 8d through the end of this passage in v. 11.
    8b [That is-] I have suffered the loss of all things for the sake of Him
    This proposition is similar to the previous two. The major difference, which is the point of this proposition, is that Paul not only considers all these things to be loss, but he also has actually lost all things. Paul has given up on any claim and confidence in anything from his past life, and has experienced living with no continuing connection with them.
    8c-11 I consider [all things] to be rubbish, in order to gain Christ
    8c And I consider [all things] to be rubbish
    rubbish is a polite translation of a word which literally means crap/dung. Paul is not exaggerating, but showing how drastic the difference is between any human merit and the merit of Christ being compared as being reasonable grounds for confidence.
    8d-11 Purpose - so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him and know Him
    All that follows describes Paul's purpose in rejecting all the things that he has just described as loss and rubbish. He does so for the purpose of gaining the One Who is better by far.
    8d-9 So that I may gain Christ and His righteousness by faith
    8d So that I may gain Christ
    gain is a verb related to the noun used above (v. 7a). And it has the sense of somehow acquiring Christ, and all the benefits that are in Him. Paul has traded up - exchanging all that he once had and hoped in for the One Who is worth more than everything else combined. See Matt. 13:44
    9 And benefit from receiving His righteousness by faith
    9a And be found in Him
    found is a generic term. In this context, it has the connotation of being the object of the judgment and evaluation of another (presumably God & Christ), and to receive a particular evaluation - similar to someone being found to be innocent in a court decision. When the final evaluation is given, Paul wants to be found in Him.
    in Him (or in Christ) is a formula often found in Paul
    cf. 3:14, 4:19, Rom. 6:11, 23, 8:1, 39, 12:5, 1 Cor. 1:4, 5, 30, 4:17, 15:18, 19, 22, 2 Cor. 1:19, 2:14, 17, 5:17, 19, 21, 12:19, 13:4, Gal. 2:17, 3:28, 5:6, Eph. 1:3, 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, 2:6, 7, 10, 13, 21, 22, 3:6, 11, 12, 4:21, 32, Col. 1:2, 17, 28, 2:6, 7, 10, 11, 17, 3:3, 1 Thes. 1:1, 2:14, 4:14, 16, 5:18, 2 Thes. 1:12, 1 Tim. 1:14, 2 Tim. 1:1, 9, 13, 2:1, 10, 3:12, Philem. 6, 8, 20, 23.
    It refers to things, benefits, and people that are in the sphere identified with, and controlled by Christ.
    This concept is sometimes referred to as corporate solidarity. It is similar to every citizen of a country having the same rights and responsibilities as a consequence of being a citizen in that country. For instance, if the country goes to war, technically, every citizen is at war (whether they participate or not).
    In the same way, Jesus is the King. And there are many benefits, responsibilities, and blessings in the sphere of Christ's rule, because of Christ's accomplishments. Therefore, every person who has been converted into the sphere of Christ, by being converted to Christ, is now in Christ. To be in Christ is somehow to participate in all that Christ is and has done. And this is Paul's purpose. And he will elaborate on some of the benefits of being in Christ throughout the rest of this passage.
    9b-d Not by my own righteousness, but by Christ's, through faith
    This next section elaborates and explains what Paul means by being found in Christ. To be found in Christ means to have Christ's righteousness and not to rely on one's own righteousness through good works or heritage.
    This section is obviously a contrast between two approaches to righteousness - one which Paul rejects (connected with those things that he now accounts as loss/dung), and one which he pursues (connected with gaining Christ and being found in Him)
    9b Neg: not having my own righteousness from the Law
    righteousness is always a legal term - meaning to be on the right side, or having the right standing in terms of right and wrong. Paul has already rejected reliance on his won heritage or history of keeping the law, not because these things are bad in themselves, but (as he teaches elsewhere, see e.g. Gal. ch. 3 and Rom. ch. 10) they have never been, and never will be enough to merit any standing with God. Therefore, Paul will put no confidence in flesh. And the primary reason Paul rejects reliance on his own righteousness is that it is loss compared with the righteousness of Christ that is available to him by grace through faith (see 9c-d).
    9c-d Pos: rather, having the righteousness from God through faith in Christ
    9c But [having] the [righteousness] through faith in Christ
    Rather than relying on his own righteousness, Paul relies on the righteousness that he has through faith in Christ. The following proposition clarifies that this righteousness is not from Paul, but it is a result of him being in Christ by grace through faith.
    9d The righteousness from God upon faith
    This proposition may seem like repeated information (which it partially is), but it is elaborating and clarifying the nature of this righteousness by adding two phrases: it is from God, and it is given on the basis of faith.
    from God shows that God is the ultimate source of the righteousness which Paul has received. He is the source in more than one sense. First, the righteousness is the righteousness of Christ, who is God. Second, God is the One Who pronounces (reckons/imputes) this righteousness to Paul, on the basis of Christ's righteousness. And finally, God is the One Who bestows this righteousness by faith as a gift, not because of any merit in Paul (or in us).
    upon faith highlights faith as the means or basis by which Paul receives this righteousness. cf. Acts 3:16 where this same wording is used. See Rom. chs. 3-4 and Gal. chs. 3-4 for a further explanation of how righteousness comes through faith (but not primarily because of faith).
    10-11 So that I may fully experience His death and resurrection
    these two verses continue to elaborate the purpose of 8c, telling why Paul counts all things as dung. As such, these verse are parallel to 8d-9. to gain Christ and be found in Him is the same overall concept described by to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, even though, obviously, Paul emphasizes two different aspects of his purpose in the two different sections.
    10a [in order] to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering
    This proposition has three parts corresponding to the three things which Paul says he wants to know.
    to know Him has the connotation of a personal knowing. It is more than (but not less than) knowing about Christ. It means to have a continuity of relationship and a growing relationship. Obviously, by this point of his life, Paul knew Christ. But he is still pressing to know Christ further, and in a deeper way. He will address his desire to press forward in this dynamic in vv. 12-14. And part of what it means to know Christ personally is elaborated in the next two parts of this proposition.
    [to know] the power of His resurrection also has the connotation of a more personal, experiential knowledge. Paul wants to (more and more) experience resurrection power. From the rest of Paul's writings, we can surmise that he does not here mean just a naked demonstration of miraculous power. For Paul, the resurrection is not just about extraordinary power, which most of Paul's readers already assumed that God had. But resurrection power is primarily about changed lives and experiencing the life of the next age, which Christ has procured and of which He is the firstfruits. Paul will often describe this kind of life in ethical terms, such as joy, peace, and love, similar to the fruit of the Spirit described in Gal. ch. 5. When someone's mindset and lifestyle is radically changed to conform to God's Kingdom priorities and ethics, Paul would see this as a demonstration of Christ's resurrection power.
    [to know] the fellowship of His sufferings also has the connotation of a more personal, experiential knowledge. Paul often emphasized that Christians should not expect to experience the blessings of the resurrection without also experiencing the suffering and death of Christ (see 2:1-11 as well as Rom. 8:18). fellowship means a close sharing in something, involving close mutual relationship and association. Paul has elsewhere (Col. 1:24-25) spoken of somehow experiencing Christ's suffering. By this Paul does NOT mean that he somehow contributes tot he atonement which Christ attained at the cross. Rather, he means that, like Christ suffered on our behalf, Paul will imitate the willingness to suffer for the sake of delivering the message of Christ and serving others. Notice how this repeats the sentiment of 2:1-11.
    Paul elaborates on all of these in the following verses.
    10b-11 Sharing in His death and resurrection
    As typical for Paul, Christ's death and resurrection go together very closely.
    10b Being conformed to His death
    being conformed means being brought into a similarity of form or style. Notice that this is a passive verb ("being conformed") not active ("conforming"). Paul wants his own life and experience to be caused to be like Christ's death. He may have a role to play in this, but the real initiative and power for this must come from God.
    This is most likely referring to the attitude of self-sacrifice on behalf of others, which characterized the death of Christ. It could also mean that he want to be brought into more and more experience of the benefits of Christ's death. It definitely does not refer to any of Paul's activity having any atoning significance.
    In any case, its meaning must take into account the reality of Paul being in Christ and thereby sharing in all the benefits and responsibilities of what Christ accomplished by His death.
    11 If perhaps I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
    attain means to arrive at the experience of the intended goal
    resurrection is a different word than usual, and probably has the connotation of coming to fullness of life
    Paul's ultimate goal is to fully experience all the new life that Christ has provided through His own death and resurrection.
  • 3:12-16 Press toward the goal
  • 3:17-4:1 Stand firm in the Lord
4:2-19 Exhortations and Thanks
4:20-23 Conclusion