Sorry it has taken me so long to continue this study. My computer was on the fritz for a while. Should be good now. 🙂 Today we pick up in verse 12.
“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:12-20 NASB).
Looking at verse 12, we find that Paul is convinced that everything that has happened to him so far (his imprisonment) has happened to further spread the Gospel. And he is perfectly ok with this. Everyone around him is aware that Paul has been imprisoned because of his work for Christ.
First of all, He talks about the “whole praetorian guard”. Just in case you aren’t aware what the Praetorian guard was, it was a group of Roman guards that were used as bodyguards for the Roman emperors. Paul, being in prison in Rome, was chained to a guard morning and night and the guard was traded out in shifts. Talk about a captive audience for Paul! The Roman guard couldn’t help but hear Paul speak about Christ.
Second, Paul speaks about the brethren who have heard about Paul’s plight and are actually encouraged by the boldness by which Paul preaches, even while in prison (verse 14). News of Paul’s imprisonment would have spread quickly among the churches. Such news could have been devastating to them knowing that one of their main evangelists was captured. However, because of Paul’s attitude of courage and boldness, the other churches were encouraged to continue to spread the word in spite of the dangers. We, too, can be encouraged by Paul even today as we reach out into a hostile world and share the good news of the gospel.
The word of Christ was being preached, but it seems that not all who were preaching were motivated for the same reasons. There were some who were actually preaching out of wrong motives. Paul says they were teaching out of jealousy and rivalry. Jealous of who? Well, Paul had gotten quite a bit of renown in his travels. There would be people who would have wanted some of that glory for themselves, just as the teachers of religious law wanted when Jesus was getting His fame just a few years earlier.
“But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men” (Matt. 23:5-7 NASB).
So, what are some right motives for spreading the gospel? 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 says “For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.” We are to please God. Not men. There were some in Philippi who were spreading the gospel with pure motives. Some of them were preaching because they loved Paul and desired to continue his work as in verse 16.
Regardless of motive, Paul states that the point is that Christ is being preached. It didn’t matter WHY people were preaching, it only mattered that more and more people were hearing the good news. This reminds me of a time when the disciples approached Jesus about some people who were not Jesus’ disciples but were doing things in Jesus’ name:
“John said to Him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is for us.’.” (Mark 9:38-40 NASB)
At the end of our section here, we see Paul doing something that few tend to do in prison: he is rejoicing! Why would he do something like that? Well, for one thing, Paul rejoices in the fact that Christ is being preached even though (and because of) Paul being imprisoned. He is glad that all his work has not been in vain and that it continues to bear fruit. Paul is also rejoicing because he is confident that he will be delivered one way or another from his imprisonment. And that no matter what happens, Christ will be glorified in Paul.
As we end our study today, here are some questions to ponder:
- In view of our study, what do you believe are some “pure” motives for spreading the gospel?
- Can you think of any other “impure” motives, besides selfish ambition and jealousy, that may foul up our good intentions for spreading the gospel?
- Paul is rejoicing even while in prison. Taking a sneak peek at Philippians 4:4, how do you think it is possible to “Rejoice always”?
Thank you for reading today and I hope you will join me next time, we will discuss the question “Is it better to live or die?” Have a blessed day!