Are you ready to dig into Philippians chapter 1? Here are 7 facts to know about Christ, suffering right, and the church in Philippi.
Everything God does in His Word is on purpose! Every word, punctuation mark, letter, and number is important and intentional. Though referring to only one person, there is a difference in emphasis when the Bible says Jesus versus Lord versus Christ. When a combination (like Lord Jesus or Jesus Christ) is used, the first name listed helps drive home a point.
- The name of Jesus, the name above every name (Phil. 2:9), is His only saving name (Mat. 1:21; Acts 4:12), and relates to our personal relationship with Him. Watch this video for a breakdown!)
- Lord, on the other hand, reflects His authority, His role as the King, ruler of all (Acts 10:36; Phil. 2:11; Jude 1:4; Rev. 4:8). (Learn more in this video!)
Christ is what we’ll explore in more depth today.
Fact #2: Christ speaks of a suffering servant.
What is Christ about? Let’s watch this video to gain more understanding.
In scripture, Christ relates to His humanity, His servanthood, and His suffering (1 Cor. 12: Phil. 2:5-8; 1 Pet. 3:18; 4:1, 13). How amazing is it that Christ and love (including loveth, loving, et.) are both used 555 times?! This makes incredible sense because His suffering for us reflects His love! Search the Bible for Christ and you’ll see — Christ, Christos (S:5547), the anointed Messiah, is about suffering!
Fact #3: Christ is emphasized throughout Philippians.
Which of these aspects of Jesus are emphasized in Philippians, a book written from prison by one who identifies as a servant (Phil. 1:1)? Let’s look at the numbers:
- JESUS is used 8 times (Jesus 1x, Jesus Christ 7x).
- LORD is used 15 times (Lord 11x, Lord Jesus 1x, Lord Jesus Christ 3x).
- CHRIST is used 26 times (Christ 17x, Christ Jesus 9x).
From the first verse (which is reiterated in the closing of the book), we see that Philippians is written to the saints in CHRIST Jesus (Phil. 1:1; 4:21). Paul wanted CHRIST to be magnified in his body by life or death (Phil. 1:20), and declared their conversation should be as it becometh the gospel of CHRIST (Phil. 1:27). Even later in the book, we read about the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5), the cross of Christ (Phil. 2:18), losing all to know and win Christ (Phi. 3:7-8), and being content through Christ which strengtheneth us (Phil. 4:11-13).
Though they served (and rejoiced in) a personal saviour JESUS Christ (Phil. 1:1, 26) and knew all would bow and confess that He is LORD (Phil. 2:11), the book of Philippians emphasizes CHRIST!
Now let’s delve into some Christ points from Chapter 1.
Fact #4: Paul wrote Philippians while in his “bonds in Christ.”
Paul wrote the book of Philippians while imprisoned. How do we know? He repeatedly (Phil. 1:7, 13, 14, 16) spoke of his “bonds.” Bonds is from a Greek word desmos (S:1199):
- Desmos is translated in the Bible as bond, band, string, and chain.
- It is defined as a shackle (of a prisoner), a band, fetter, or anything for tying.
- It is from a verb (S:1210) that means to bind or fasten with chains.
Paul was locked up in what he called his bonds in CHRIST (Phil. 1:13), but there he did not have a pity party, fault God, or quit the ministry.
His spiritual mindset and Godly perspective recognized this was for the “furtherance of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). He knew his bonds allowed the word of God to be declared in the palace and all other places, and gave confidence to others to be “much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Phil. 1:13-14). And in those bonds, he wrote this book we’re still blessed by today.
Keep perspective – what you’re going through for Christ, if you hold on, can further the gospel and be a blessing to the ministry.
Fact #5: Paul still wanted Christ to be preached.
Paul noted that those who saw his example preached Christ, but their motivations varied. From envy to good will, insincere contention to love, pretence to truth, their reasons varied but Paul rejoiced in the fact that CHRIST was preached (Phil. 1:15-18).
Even when some thought they’d add affliction to his bonds (and make what he was going through worse) in their preaching, Paul didn’t trip – He focused on the mission and the message, knowing that Christ is Lord and He knew the hearts of all. Paul specifically said in verses 19-20,
“19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 According to my earnest expectation and [my] hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but [that] with all boldness, as always, [so] now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether [it be] by life, or by death.”
What I’m going through now is not forever – God can turn it! As we do right, we won’t be ashamed in Him, and so we must boldly do what He called us to do. Having perspective is powerful! Preach Christ and rejoice when Christ is preached, then leave the rest to Him.
Fact #6: Paul still declared “to live is Christ.”
Paul knew he was going through (and would continue to) but his whole life belonged to Christ. As we’ll see down the road in Philippians 3, knowing Christ and winning Christ was worth everything to him.
Paul declared in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Whether he lived it was for and with Christ, and if he died he knew he’d gain because he’d depart “to be with Christ, which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). Whether he lived or died, Christ made it worth it!
Paul knew and was communicating to the Philippian church (and us) that life and death is about Christ! This same Paul said in Colossians 3:1-4 what he was living out here:
1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
How tight is that?! Our life is with Christ! Christ is our life! With all we say and do, let’s make it all about Him.
Fact #7: We are to believe on Christ & suffer for His sake.
Towards the end of chapter 1, Paul let the Philippian church (and us) know their conversation (behavior, lifestyle) should be as becometh (or is worthy of) the gospel of Christ, whether he came and saw them, or was absent (Phil. 1:27). No matter who’s watching, we must live everyday in a way that appropriately reflects Christ.
Though they did not need to be terrified by their adversaries in anything, Paul plainly told them, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Phil. 1:29). We must believe on Christ! What He did, what He said, is surely worthy of full faith and complete confidence.
And since we believe Him enough to obey Him, we’ll suffer for His sake in this life, but as we “suffer as a Christian” (1 Pet. 4:16), we must hold onto the perspective given in the word of God. We suffer for Him but we BELIEVE God & His Word, which gives us joy, peace, and hope in the middle of our tribulation (Rom. 15:13).
Today, arm yourself with the same mind Christ had when He suffered (Phil. 2:5-8; 1 Peter 4:1-2) for the will of God. God has a plan, He has a purpose, and He still has the power. Christ understands and will bring us through it all.
What did you learn from Philippians Chapter 1? What stands out to you? Share your comments below!