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Not an Accident

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Notes & Transcripts
Our passage today begins to get the purpose of the letter which Paul is writing to the Philippian church. It begins we these words, “I want you to know...”
This phrase was a common way of transitioning to the letter’s crucial information. The Philippians were concerned about Paul’d condition in prison, and would have wanted to know his circumstances. Let’s look at what Paul wants them to know.
Philippians 1:12-18
Philippians 1:12–18a ESV
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,
“I want you to know...”
This is what Paul wants them to know. “What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
Wait, what?
Notice that Paul uses the word, “really” or rather.
The Philippians, like most of us would have expected that Paul’s imprisonment would have him down, dejected, and lets face it they would probably have felt discouraged that the apostle they love and respect is in prison.
Instead Paul gives them a message once again that is positive.
What has happened to me (MY IMPRISONMENT) has really served to advance the Gospel.
really is being used emphatically here in the sense of “it’s not what you think” or rather.
Philippians 1:13 ESV
so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.
Philippians 1:14 ESV
And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
That phrase “for Christ” is literally “in Christ”. This would probably not only carry the idea that Paul has been imprisoned for Christ’s sake, but is also participating in Christ’s suffering by being in prison.
…in Christ = ...ἐν Χριστῷ
Philippians 1:13 NA28
ὥστε τοὺς δεσμούς μου φανεροὺς ἐν Χριστῷ γενέσθαι ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ πραιτωρίῳ καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν,
Phil 1:13
The character of his suffering has become clear to everyone - the guards and the community as to why he is there.
Philippians 1:14 ESV
And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
It’s a lot easier to speak out when someone has gone before. If they can face it, by golly so can I.
Paul’s emphasis becomes that the Gospel would be preached:
Phil 1:15
Philippians 1:15–17 ESV
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.
Notice the emphasis on Christ and the Gospel. These are not people preaching a different gospel, these preach Christ, and Paul therefore can celebrate. Nor are these opponents false prophets - these people seem to oppose Paul for personal reasons.
The emphasis is that the Gospel of Christ is preached.
What’s the point?
Human circumstances lie in God’s hands and God uses them to advance the gospel.
Place our circumstances under the authority of God and know that God is using them to accomplish his purposes.
What’s our take away?
Three things:
There is value in finding other believers that set an example of how to deal with suffering in a Christian way.
There is value in finding other believers that set an example of how to deal with suffering in a Christian way.
God works not merely in spite of but through our circumstances, both good and bad.
When our joy is connected to the advancement of the gospel rather than other things it remains firm.
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