Shall we turn in our Bibles now to Philippians, chapter two, as we continue our journey through the Bible. This week we’ve arrived at Philippians, chapter two.
Paul begins the chapter by exhorting them to unity and to meekness.
He said, If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels (tenderness) and mercies, (Then) 2Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. If you are really walking after Jesus Christ, if you have that consolation, that hope in Christ, if you have the comfort of His love, if you have fellowship in the Spirit, then get along with each other. Don’t be striving against those within the body of Christ.
This is, I believe, such a needed exhortation for this day! When it seems like there is so much feeling of competition within the church, there are so many who are divided and who seek to divide over trivial issues, minor differences of interpretation of Scripture. The sad thing is that they don’t allow for a differing view than their own. Someone has once defined a heretic as someone who believes differently from you. And that’s usually the way we sort of define it. And thus, if you don’t see it exactly the way I see it, you are a heretic of the first or second order, you know. And that’s tragic!
Paul is calling for a unity. If you really love the Lord and if you are really walking in the Spirit, then fulfill, Paul said, my joy. Be like-minded, having the same love. Be of one accord. Be of one mind.
3Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; Now Paul in the previous chapter had said that while there in Rome, the word of Christ had spread throughout the palace. Some of the people were preaching Christ out of envy and strife. And there were others who were preaching Christ out of goodwill.
But here Paul is saying to the Philippians don’t do anything through envy or strife. Don’t let that be your case. Paul rejoiced in Rome that Christ was being preached. He didn’t care what their motive was as long as Christ was being preached. But don’t do things out of strife. Don’t do things for vainglory, seeking to draw attention to yourself. That is something that we have to be extremely careful about, drawing attention to ourselves.
We can it in so many subtle ways. There is something perverse about our fleshly nature. That is that we desire that people believe and think that we are very spiritual. Somehow we get a satisfaction out of people thinking that we are a deeply spiritual person. And so many times we develop sort of affectations that sort of give off an aura of deep spirituality. The tone of voice, mannerisms, expressions, “Oh, brother, my!” And we like people to think of us as deeply spiritual. “The other morning when I was in prayer, the Lord spoke to my heart. I was waiting for the sun to come up because you know.” Oooh, he gets up before the sun comes up and prays. Isn’t he spiritual?
Now you see the reason why I do that is that I want people to sort of admire me. I’m looking for vainglory. And if you want to know how vainglory is, just watch a baseball player whose has gone into a hitting slump. One who has been the leading batter, let him go into a slump and you will find out how vain the glory of the world is. It is so empty.
As I have gotten older, the knee that I injured in football in college, gets more painful. I look at it as my thorn in the flesh, a painful knee. And it is to me a constant reminder of vainglory. I can remember still so clearly the night that I injured my knee. The pain–vainglory. The Lord uses that as a constant, sort of reminder to me that the glory of the world is so vain, so passing, but it leaves a lifetime of pain.
Don’t let anything be done through strife or vainglory, but rather in contrast, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. When I was in junior high school, I joined the Hi Y club. And in joining the Hi Y club, one of the requirements was to memorize a poem. A poem entitled, “Others”. Lord, help me live from day to day in such a self forgetting way that even when I kneel to pray, my pray shall be for others. Help me in all the things I do to ever be sincerely true and know that all I do for You must need be done for others. Others, Lord, yes others, let this my model be. Help me to live for others that I may live for Thee. And that’s basically what Paul is telling us here that we should esteem others better than ourselves.
And we are not to 4Look not every man on his own things, Or after my own welfare. That shouldn’t be the tenor of my life, just always looking out for numero uno.
but every man also on the things of others. I should be concerned in helping others, in reaching out and in helping others, much as the Salvation Army has modeled for us. A ministry to those who are in need.
But then he said, we have a classic example of this very truth in Jesus Christ our Lord. 5Let this mind be in you, (Let this be your mindset. The same mindset that Jesus had.) which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery (or something to be grasped) to be equal with God: That’s starting at the highest. In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. The Word was God. In the form of God, not something to be grasped, to be equal with God.
7But made himself of no reputation, Now he gives us a seven step downward, from the form of God, not robbery to be equal with God, in seven steps downward that end at the cross. He made Himself of no reputation.
and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. You can’t get any higher in the form of God, not robbery to be equal with God. You can’t any lower than death on the cross. He submitted Himself to the will of the Father. Jesus said I didn’t come to do My own will but the will of Him who sent me. And that of giving Himself to be obedient to the Father in coming to this world in a body of flesh. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
Of course that’s what we are about ready to celebrate as we come to Christmas Day. This celebration of the church is the fact that the Word became flesh and He dwelled among us and we beheld His glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, the mystery of all mysteries. He didn’t come to immediately rule and reign, but He came to give His life as a ransom for many. He came to die on the cross. Let this mind also be in you, which was in Christ Jesus, giving Himself for others.
But because of that, 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, (And we take the seven steps back until we get to every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!)
Wherefore God has also highly exalted Him, and given him a name which is above every name: He has given Him a name that is above every name!
10That at the name of Jesus (At the birth of Christ, Mary, of course was engaged to Joseph. They had not yet consummated their marriage. And when it was discovered that Mary was pregnant, Joseph was deeply troubled. The story that she had to tell was rather far-fetched and hard to accept. His love for Mary gave him mixed emotion. He wanted to put her away privately, perhaps, because if he publicly exposes her, she’ll be stoned by the village and that he couldn’t bear. And while he was pondering just what shall I do, he was ripped up inside, the angel of the Lord came to him at night. The angel said don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife because that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. And she is going to bear a son. And you shall call His name, Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sin.
The name, Jesus, is the Greek for the Hebrew name, Joshua, which is a contraction of the name, Yehowshuwa, which is contraction of Jehovah Shuwa. And the name literally means, the Lord our salvation, or Jehovah, our Salvation. It’s a beautiful name! The angel said, you shall call His name, Joshua, or Yehowshuwa, for He shall save His people from their sins. That’s what the name means. Yah or Jehovah Shuwa, salvation. Yehowshuwa, you shall call His name, Yehowshuwa, for He shall save His people from their sin.
When the angel announced to Mary, that God had chosen her to be the human instrument, the vessel to bring the Messiah into the world, the angel told her that she was to call His name Yeshua. And so God has given Him a name that is above every name.
That at the name of Yeshua, every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, (that Yeshua Meshiach, is the Curios, that Jesus is the Messiah, the Lord. The Curios being the New Testament name for Jehovah, that Jesus is God!
Now in Isaiah 45:23, the Lord there declares, I have sworn by Myself and it shall actually come to pass or it shall be, that unto Me every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear. The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness. It will not return. So the prophecy of every knee bowing, every tongue swearing.
In Psalm 22, that Psalm that is prophetic of the crucifixion, we read in verse 27, “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord and all of the nations and the families of nations, shall worship before Thee. They that go down to the dust (verse 29, the middle part) shall bow before Him and none can keep alive His own soul.”
Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Messiah, the Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Sooner or later every knee shall bow! It’s better sooner that later. Tonight we gladly bow our knee! We gladly confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord.
In Romans 10:9-10, that is thou shall confess with thy mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and you believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shall be saved!
To confess now and to submit now to the lordship of Jesus Christ, means salvation. It means eternal life. To wait until that day, in future, when every knee should bow, those that are in heaven, those that are on the earth and those that are under the earth, if you wait until the day in which you are forced to bow your knee and make that confession, at that time it will not mean salvation, it will be an acknowledgement of the righteous justice of God in forbidding you entrance into His eternal kingdom. But that confession will be made! People may curse and use the name of Jesus for blasphemy today, but one day they will bow their knee. And they will confess that He is Lord!
The night that Jesus was born, there were certain shepherds in the field keeping watch over their flocks, that night. Suddenly the angel of the Lord came upon them. The glory of the Lord shone round about them. They were sore afraid. The angel said, fear not, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people! For unto you a Son is born this day in the city of David, the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord. The soter, the christos, and the curios—Jesus Christ the Lord! That’s how He was announced.
Now Jesus is salvation. Every knee shall confess that Jesus is salvation! He is the Messiah. He is the Lord! Jesus, is the Messiah, the Lord, to the glory of God the Father!
When the angel announced there is born in the city of David, the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord, suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of heavenly hosts, praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest! The confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the Lord, unto the glory of God! It was announced at His birth. It shall happen again. So God has highly exalted Him. He has given Him this name above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven, of things in earth and of things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord to the glory of God the Father!
12Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. You were very diligent when I was there. Now while I am absent, be even more diligent to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. But watch out! Because here is where many people stop. They begin to preach a gospel of works. Doesn’t it say work out your own salvation with fear and trembling? But that’s the danger of taking a Scripture out of its context.
For you need to read on, the very next verse declares, 13For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Where does the desire come from? It comes from God. God said and in that day, I will no longer write My law on tables of stone, but I will write them on the fleshly tablets of their hearts. (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 11:19; 2 Corinthians 3:3)
The Psalmist said (Psalms 37:4), delight thyself also in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. He will plant His will in your heart. So work out your own salvation, yes, with fear and trembling, yes, but realize it’s God that is working in you! He is the one that gave you the will. He is the One that put it upon your heart. It is God that works in you both to will and then He is the One that gives the ability to do it! It is God that works in you both to will, to guide you by the heart and the desires, and then gives to you the capacity and power of doing. So it is He that works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
14Do all things without murmurings and disputings: Wouldn’t you like to put that up in your kid’s bedroom? So often and how sad, when we hear people that as you know, you suggest something and they have to argue. They have to dispute over it. Or they do it murmuring.
But do all things without murmuring or disputing, 15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Let your light so shine before men, the Bible says, that when they see your good works they glorify your Father that is in heaven. Do things without murmuring, without disputing, with the right attitude, that you might be an example of a son of God, beyond reproach, because you are living in the midst of a perverse generation. But you are to shine as a light to the world.
16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. So I am absent, but I want you to live a life of commitment to Jesus Christ. Work out your own salvation as God is working in you, both to will and to do, and do it without murmuring, without disputing, with a cheerful attitude because you are shining as a light in this dark world as you hold forth the word of life.
As I was reading I thought that would a great theme for a pastors’ conference—holding forth the word of life. Don’t be surprised if you hear that as the next theme for the pastors’ conference.
Paul said, 17Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. Now at this particular point, Paul’s future was in question. Many believe that he had already had his first hearing and was going to now appear before Nero in the final hearing. And Nero being the kind of person that he was, Paul’s future was quite uncertain. And he didn’t know if he was going to live or die. And he sort of had mixed emotions about the future as he shared in chapter one. I find myself torn between, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better and yet it’s needful for your sakes that I stay around awhile longer. So if I am offered upon the sacrifice and the service of your faith, if my life is taken, by Caesar, I rejoice with you all. I rejoice for the fact that I was able to minister to you and for the friendship, for the fellowship that we enjoyed.
18For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me. In other words, if Caesar takes my life, don’t be sorrowing. I want you to rejoice with me. You know, it’s interesting, Paul says this and in just a few moments as he talks about Epaphroditus, who had come from the church in Philippi to bring him an offering from the church to help him, in talking about Epaphroditus, he said that he was upset because you heard that Epaphroditus was sick. Indeed he was sick. He almost died, Paul said for the cause of the gospel, but the Lord was gracious and he healed him, lest I have sorrow upon sorrow. And now he is talking about if Epaphroditus died, he said he would have sorrow on sorrow, but if I die, rejoice! Rejoice with me.
In writing to the church in Thessalonica, he said concerning those who sleep in Christ, those that have died I write to you that you sorrow not as those who have no hope. Now he is not denying our sorrow. When we lose a loved one, we do sorrow. It’s a natural thing to sorrow over the loss of a loved one.
But as I examined my sorrow in the loss of my father and brother, and I examined my sorrow at the loss of my mother, I realized that my sorrow was for myself. When I thought of myself and I thought of all that I’m going to be missing and you know, and all of the input, the positive input that they brought into my life and all of the love and the, you know, the whole thing, I sorrowed! I grieved! But my sorrow was not as those who have no hope, because when I would think of them, they are with the Lord, in the presence of our Lord! Oh, you know you rejoice that they are with Jesus!
So there is that sorrow and rejoicing. It’s all where your mind is set. Thinking of them you rejoice. Thinking of yourself, you sorrow. And so Paul is talking about, perhaps, his being offered for the service of Jesus Christ. And if so, rejoice with me!
19But (he said) I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. So, I’ll be sending Timothy shortly and he will report back to me because I am anxious to find out just how you are doing.
And he said concerning Timothy, 20For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state (or your condition). That’s quite an interesting statement! Paul says that no one who really shares my heart for you like Timothy. He is like-minded with me. He is concerned, as I am, for you.
It’s a rather tragic thing that Paul should make that statement, for he goes on to say. 21For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. There are many different motives for people being involved in the ministry. Paul’s heart was for the people. Gladly, he said, will I be offered for your sakes. He said no one has quite the same vision. No one has quite the same heart for you, as I do, except Timothy. That’s why I’m am going to send him to you.
Naturally, as the age that I have now come to, arrive to day by day at the older, I realize my mortality. You know when you are young, you feel like you’re immortal. The path in front of you seems endless. But as you get older, the realization that your days are numbered, becomes a very kind of governing factor of your life. You want to make sure that you spend your time wisely.
But in beginning to look for a successor, I have great difficulty because I’m looking for someone who would be like-minded and have the same degree and intensity of love for you that I have. Someone who would care for your estate as I care for it. Someone who would have the same love and compassion to minister to you, not for gain but for a heart that just wants to minister from the motive of love.
As the board was talking about my salary a couple of years ago and raised my salary, I said, you fellows, I said, you’re too much. If you only knew, you could cut off my salary and I could still minister. It’s just my heart! And I guess maybe I’ll live forever because God put me on earth to accomplish so many things and I’m so far behind now, I don’t think I’ll ever die.
So Paul is sending Timothy because he has that care for them that Paul does.
22But ye know (he said) the proof of him (that is of Timothy), that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. What a glorious record of Timothy as a son with a father, he has been faithful, standing side by side with Paul throughout the ministry.
23Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. As soon as the trial is over, Timothy is going to stay until I have my case heard. Then you know, if I am put to death or if I’m imprisoned longer, whatever, then I’ll send Timothy, but he is going to stay with me through this trial until the outcome is know.
24But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly. I trust that, you know, this all will be over, will be behind us and I will be able to come. Now whether or not Paul did receive a reprieve at the first hearing before Nero, we’re not sure. There are early church traditions that do say that on the first time, the first appearance before Nero, that Paul was dismissed, that he did return to Philippi and to Ephesus and to some of the churches but then Nero had Paul arrested and brought back to Rome. And then he had him beheaded.
A very interesting thing about this fellow, Caesar Nero, now we do know that Paul, whenever he stood before the court, Felix, Festus, Agrippa, that he always took the opportunity of sharing the gospel. When he preached to Felix, he was feeling so convicted, he trembled under the conviction of the Spirit. He said, I’ll hear more from you some other time. When he appeared before Festus. Festus was also touched. When he appeared before Agrippa, after Paul gave his witness, Agrippa said, almost thou persuadest me to become a Christian! Festus sort of put him off. I’ll hear you again at a more convenient time.
Now don’t you know that when Paul appeared before Nero, he gave Nero a witness of Jesus Christ that was powerful, that was dynamic, that was convicting. I’m certain that as Paul stood before Nero, he was thinking, if I could just convert this guy, what it would mean! The emperor of Rome receiving Christ! I’m sure that Paul laid on him a witness that was second to none!
It is interesting that as you study the history of Caesar Nero, in the early part of his reign as the emperor of Rome, he seemed to be a fairly decent person. But he had a radical change of personality. And it is interesting that that radical change of personality happened about the same time as Paul appeared before Nero. And I believe that it is quite possible that Paul gave to Nero an extremely powerful witness of Christ. Nero had his opportunity to receive eternal salvation, but in rejecting the witness, though he, according to tradition, he released Paul the first time, that in rejecting it, he rebelled so much the Lord that I believe that he became possessed by an evil spirit. When you read the things that Caesar Nero did, it could only be done by a man who was not in his right mind, who was possessed by an evil spirit! The rejection of God’s grace and love often turns a person into a violent enemy of Christ.
So Paul said, I trust in the Lord that I also will come shortly to you, 25Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellow soldier, So these are the–He’s my brother. He’s my companion in labor. He’s a fellow soldier.
but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. He was here, bringing from you the offering that you sent, ministering to my needs.
26For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 27For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: 30Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me. He hazarded his own life in order to bring to me your offering. So hold him in high esteem and the fellow who is willing to put his life on the line for the sake of the gospel.
So we come to the end of chapter two. Next week, if you will read the third chapter, we’ll continue our journey through the Bible as we study the Word of God together.
Father, we thank You for the ministry of Paul and for the exhortation. And Lord, help us that we might take these to heart, that we might serve You, Lord with a joyful, happy heart, that we wouldn’t be guilty of doing things through strife or vainglory. Nor Lord, help us that we would not be filled with murmuring and disputing, but Lord may we be like Jesus, who was willing to empty Himself in order to be obedient unto Your will. And Lord, so may we give our lives as we are giving ourselves for the sake of others, reaching out to help and to minister to those that are in need. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Transcribed from “The Word For Today”, Pastor Chuck Smith, Tape #8177, (KJ Version)