A Study of Philippians 1:18-19
Introduction: In studying the book of Philippians, I’ve come across a phrase—a single phrase—that has led me to a great deal of thought and soul-searching. Let’s read it in its context, and then analyze it and make some practical suggestions as to how to latch onto it.
Background: To understand it, we need to review very briefly. The apostle Paul began a church in the city of Philippi in Northern Greece. He arrived in Philippi in about A.D. 49 with a handful of people we meet in Acts 16. Now about a dozen years later, he wrote to them to thank them for the gift they had sent him. At the time of this writing, Paul is under house arrest in Rome, where he was facing trial before Emperor Nero. We have strong grounds for believing Paul was later released and that he had another season of ministry before being arrested again and beheaded. So when he wrote to the Philippians, he was optimistic about the outcome.
Scripture: With that said, let’s start reading in Philippians 1:18–
The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
What I want to focus on is verse 18 and 19—and let’s look at this text one phrase at a time.
1. Yes, and I Will Continue to Rejoice
The apostle Paul is rejoicing. He has made up his mind about it. No matter the outcome of his trial, he is going to rejoice. And he is going to continue to rejoice.
Rejoicing is in short supply on this earth. There is a famine of joy. We all need to work on this. Too often I trudge around with low spirits when I should be in high spirits.
I read one book that said, “Joy is a high-energy state for the brain. The practice of joy builds brain strength and the capacity to engage life with energy, creativity and endurance. In fact, the capacity for the brain to engage every intense or difficult aspect of life develops out of joy. High-joy people are very resilient. High-joy communities are energetic and productive even in hard times. When we are empowered with joy, we are better able of suffer, withstand pain, and still maintain intact relationships.”
How do we become a high-joy person? It comes from knowledge.
2. For I Know…
Paul said, Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know….
The apostle Paul knows something, and what he knows produces his joy. His joy comes from knowledge. And the more he thinks about it, the more joyful he feels.
The same thing is true for us. Recently I had a hard decision to make. I had to get into a better state of mind and I did that by going into the Scriptures and reminding myself of God’s Word. He gave me direction. My joy returned.
Joy is the attitude of the Holy Spirit that is fueled by knowing something—especially knowing what God has said in His Word.
Psalm 19:8 says: The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
Psalm 119:111 says: Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
The prophet Jeremiah said: When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight (Jeremiah 15:16).
Jesus told us that He gave us His divine teaching so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (John 15:11).
We draw our emotions from the things we feel; but we base our aptitudes on the things we know.
Well, in this particular case, what did Paul know that brought him joy in the middle of the legal threats against him in the city of Rome?
3. That Through Your Prayers
First, he knew that the Philippians were praying for him, and that God was listening to their prayers on his behalf: Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers….
It’s a remarkable thing that this little congregation could lift up Paul’s name in prayer in Philippi, and 800 miles away strength and encouragement would enter the heart of the apostle Paul.
Whenever I think of intercessory prayer—that is, praying for other people and interceding for them—I think of James O. Fraser, who was a missionary in China long ago. He was staying in an attic room, which was very lonely. But he learned to get up each morning and go outside where he could hike in the fields and hills. He found different places to pray, and he learned to walk back and forth, praying out loud, talking to God as he would to a friend. He often used a hymnbook, taking the stanzas of the hymns and turning them into prayers.
I’d like to suggest you take his advice. Just have someone for whom you want to pray and pace back and forth in your room or outside. Pray aloud for them, talking to the Lord just like a friend.
Second, use a hymnbook. When I was growing up we used to sing an old Gospel song entitled, “Send a great revival to my soul. Let the Holy Spirit come and take control, and send a great revival to my soul.”
Very often, I’ve prayed that for someone else. “Lord, send a great revival to his soul. Let the Holy Spirit come and take control, and send a great revival to His soul.”
The Philippians must have been praying something like that for Paul, and he believed God was altering his circumstances because of their prayers for him.
4. And God’s Provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ
Now we come to the part of the passage that has really gripped me:
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the eternal God the Son who has always existed and will always exist. But when He came to earth through a virgin’s womb, He left behind many of the privileges and prerogatives of His Godness. For example, as God, Jesus is omniscient. He knows everything. He knows absolutely everything about everything everywhere. But when He came to earth in His humanity, He left that behind. Luke tells us that as a child, Jesus grew in wisdom. He was not omnipotent. Now, when He returned to Heaven following His 33 years here, He resumed His place on the throne and all His qualities.
So how, then, did Jesus know what to say and how did He have the power to do all that He did?
We read this in Luke 3:21-23:
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, Heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” Now Jesus Himself was about thirty years old when He began His ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph.
Jesus was baptized, not only with water but with the Spirit. And God the Father did His work through His Son by His Spirit.
John 5:19: Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can do only what He sees His Father doing.”
John 12:49: For I do not speak on My own, but the Father who sent Me commended me to say all that I have spoken…. Whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.
John 14:40: The words I say to you I do not speak on My own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in. Me, who is doing His work.
John 14:24: These words you hear are not My own; they belong to the Father who sent Me.
God the Father was doing His word and speaking His through Jesus Christ.
How? By the Holy Spirit!
Look at Luke 4:14:
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised Him. He went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day He went into the synagogue, as was His custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. Unrolling it, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor.”
He had been baptized and anointed with the Holy Spirit, and now God the Father was doing His work and speaking His words through Christ in the power of the Spirit.
Matthew 12:28: It is by the Spirit that I drive out demons.
John 3:34: For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.
Acts 10:38: …how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.
Now, here is the great secondary truth. Just as God the Father baptized Jesus of Nazareth at the Jordan River, so Jesus Christ baptized His church with the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
And as a result of that, just as God the Father lived His life through His Son by His Spirit, so Jesus Christ is living His life through us by His Spirit.
Just as God the Father did His work through His Son by His Spirit, so Jesus Christ is doing His work through us by His Spirit.
Just as God the Father spoke His words through His Son by His Spirit, so Jesus Christ is speaking His words through us by His Spirit.
Major Ian Thomas said:
…if your Christian life does not derive from that fact that Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, has come to take occupation of your humanity and become in you the origin of His own image and the source of His own activity and the dynamic of His own demands and the cause of His own effects, you’ve become a Christian but haven’t yet learned to be one….
That’s why the epistles are full of teachings about the life of power offered by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 5:5: And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace and you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.
2 Corinthians 3:18: And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16: So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness
Ephesians 5:18: Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit…
That is the provision of the Spirit! Now, when the provision of the Spirit is combined with the prayers of the saints, it transforms all our circumstances. Look at our key passage again.
5. What Has Happened to Me Will Turn Out For My Deliverance
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
The apostle Paul wasn’t yet totally certain of how he would be delivered, but he knew it would be in one of two ways—either by his release from prison or by his execution. And either one was all right with him.
All that we face will turn out for our good, for our deliverance. Paul is saying ‘Here I am, on trial at the imperial court, and everything is going to turn out all right! Because you are praying for me, and I have the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.’ Prayers from below, and Spirit from above. Paul says, ‘I don’t know which I would rather choose; to live is Christ and to die is gain.’
With Jesus Christ, we cannot lose. If we die, we go to be with Christ. And if we live, we get to continue in our service to God. In either case, God will be glorified and we will be delivered.
1. Make Up Your Mind to Rejoice Based on the Knowledge We Find in God’s Word.
2. Find Someone for Whom to Pray
3. Yield Yourself to Christ and Let Him Fill You with His Spirit
If there’s anything blocking or grieving or quenching the Spirit in your life, then confess it, get it out of the way, and recognize this statement. As major Ian Thomas said, “All there is of God is available to the person who is available to all there is of God.”