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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Colossians 1:1-2 (L 01)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                    Published: December 8, 2019

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

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Welcome to HBS everyone.

We recently completed our study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, so our next undertaking is Paul’s letter to the Believers at Colosse.

Introduction to Colossians
(Colossians 1:1-2)

Colossians 1:1, identifies our Apostle Paul as the author of this letter.  My English teacher taught me to the proper place for my name (signature) is at the end of the letter.  In Paul’s day it was customary for the writer to identify them self in the opening of their communication or work and then list their credentials.   This is what Paul is doing:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

Colossians was written circa 60-61 AD during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, where he spent at least two years “under house arrest” awaiting trial before the Roman Emperor Nero (Acts 28:16-31).  Some people believe he wrote Colossians from Ephesus or Caesarea, but the biblical evidence favors Rome.  In fact, all his prison letters (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon) were penned while he was “the prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:1) in Rome.

Long before Paul’s day, Colosse was a leading city in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey).  It was located on the Lycus River and on the great east-west trade route leading from Ephesus on the Aegean Sea to the Euphrates River.  By the first century AD Colosse was reduced to a second-rate market town, which had been surpassed long before by its neighboring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis (4:13).

The Colossian churches were made up of gentiles for the most part (2:13).  They had been introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ by Epaphras (1:7) and not Paul.  In fact, as we read on we learn Paul never visited the Colossian churches (1:4-5, 2:1).  But, be that as it may, in this letter we learn of his great love and concern for the people he never met.  He continually prayed for them and with much thanksgiving for their salvation (1:3).

But this assembly was being exposed to local heresy’s that threatened to undermine the gospel of grace and their faith (2:5-8, 18).  These issues led to Epaphras’ visit to Rome to consult with Paul (Philemon 23).  He told him about the heretical doctrine circulating in the churches at Colosse.  In response to Epaphras plea for guidance, Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians, which is also to be read in the church at Laodicea (4:16) in an attempt to check the heresy’s influence on these new Believers.

Paul describes the heretical teachings he opposed in the Colossian letter but doesn’t identify them directly.  Some of those errant teachings could be categorized as:  ceremonialism the practice that held to strict rules regarding the kinds of permissible food and drink, religious festivals (2:16-17), and the religious rite of circumcision (2:11, 3:11);  asceticism or self-discipline in the extreme, i.e. “do not handle, taste, or touch” (2:21-23); Angel worship (2:18); the insufficiency of Christ Jesus which is implied by Paul’s emphasis on the Supremacy of Christ (1:15-20, 2:2, 3:9); and reliance on human wisdom and traditions (2:4-8).  These elements fall into two categories, Jewish and Gnostic (relating to knowledge, especially esoteric mystical knowledge).  Thus, the heresy in Colosse was a mixture of an extreme form of Judaism and an early stage of Gnosticism (2:23).

Purpose and Theme

The letters purpose was to refute the Colossian heresy, to demonstrate the superiority of Christ Jesus, and to confirm and edify the relatively new Believers in the faith.

The theme of this letter is the supremacy of Christ.  Paul presents the risen Lord as fully God (2:9), as the Creator God (1:16), as preeminent over the universe and His Church (1:17), and as our Savior (1:20-21).  Because Christ Jesus is over all, the Colossians are “complete in Him” (2:10), that is, He is more than adequate in that He alone can meet all their spiritual needs.  Therefore, the Colossians should worship God the Father through Him alone and depend of Him only for their salvation, refusing to rely on vain philosophy, secret knowledge, or legalism in an attempt to secure God’s divine favor.

One final note before we dig into Colossians.  Please know Paul doesn’t communicate with the grace churches just to say hello there’s always church-related issues and conflicts to settle.  Wherever the Revelation of the Mystery was being preached people rose up in opposition to its message.  The only difference today is the date on the calendar, otherwise, this practice is ongoing; people of all creeds oppose Paul’s gospel of grace (Romans 2:16), and their not likely to take a shine to you for bringing it up.  But bring it up we must for every Believer is Christ’s ambassador on earth.  This is our ministry today and not “the great commission.” (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
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Please open your Bible at Colossians 1:1-2.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,” (1:1a) - here our Apostle Paul identified himself as the author of this letter, as he does to the churches at  Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1, and Ephesians 1:1).  However, we should not assume he penned this letter himself.  In most cases Paul dictated his thoughts to a scribe who in turn wrote Paul’s words down (Romans 16:22).  The exception to this rule might be Paul’s letter to the Galatians:

Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand” (Galatians 6:11).

The phrase “I have written” could mean Paul dictated this letter to a scribe.  But the reference to “large letters” might be telling us Paul wrote it himself.  The usage of large letters could be related to a physical malady (disease) or the direct result of the stoning he received from his antagonists in Lystra (Acts 14:19-20).  He also declared that the Galatians would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him (Galatians 4:13-15).  Some folks believe this was Paul’s “thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7).  But ultimately these beliefs are merely conjecture; no one knows for certain and this book does not reveal these truths to us.  Therefore, I remind my classes frequently not to major on the minors, and always, repeat, always “walk by faith not by sight.”  The thing we are certain of is Paul is the author of Colossians.   

Furthermore, he’s “…an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,” – here Paul presents his divine credentials letting his readers know he is their apostleby the will of God.”  In other words, Paul didn’t wake up one morning calling himself God’s apostle.  In actuality, he was known as the chief persecutor of those who believed in Jesus’ name or the gospel of the kingdom.  While enroute to persecute the Christians at Damascus, the risen Lord saved him by grace alone and then called him “to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:” (Acts 9:15).

Before this Church event the gentiles had no apostle to call their own (Ephesians 2).  Despite what you’re hearing at church I echo what this book teaches, specifically, the twelve apostles at Jerusalem had no ministry with the gentiles and this includes the revered Apostle Peter (Matthew 10:1-7; see also the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 and Acts 10).  So then, Paul is not the “thirteenth apostle,” and the twelve didn’t make a mistake in choosing Mathias as Judas’ replacement (Acts 2:15-26).  God doesn’t make mistakes!  So then, want to make this very clear men did not choose Paul or make him an apostle.  He was called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles by the will of God the Father through Christ Jesus:

“ But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12-13).  

Therefore, we must understand our Apostle Paul had a very different ministry than the twelve and that his ministry superseded theirs.  This is why Paul wrote this message to the Believers in Rome:

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:” (Romans 11:13) 

Paul isn’t boasting in the flesh here, as some will tell you, instead he’s trying to provoke his fellow countrymen, i.e. God’s chosen nation of Israel to jealousy:

If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh (his Jewish countrymen), and might save some of them” (Romans 11:14).

Even though Paul is the apostle to the gentiles he expressed empathy for the nation of Israel who for the most part are blind to the truth re: the revelation of the mystery of God’s Grace:

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25).

Now to him that is of power to stablish you (how) according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever.  Amen.”(Romans 16:25-27; see also Galatians 1:11-23)

Returning to our text, Paul ends 1:1 recognizing Timothy his co-laborer in the cause of Christ: “and Timotheus our brother… Paul mentioned Timothy frequently in his writings (see Acts 17:14, 18:5, 19:22, 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17, 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:1, 19; Philippians 11:1, 2:19; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 3:2, 6; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:2, 18, 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:2; Philemon 1:1; Hebrews 13:23).

Paul described him as “my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord,” (1 Corinthians 4:17).  In 1 Timothy 1:2 he wrote “Timothy my true child in the faith;” and in 2 Timothy 1:2 he addressed him as “Timothy my beloved child.”  Paul’s saying he and Timothy had a father-son relationship (1 Corinthians 4:15).

Without a doubt Timothy was one of Paul’s best-known companions and evidently one of his converts.  He was a resident either of Lystra or Derbe.  Paul evangelized these two cities on his 1st missionary journey (Acts 14:6).  There are some scripture references that lead us to believe of these two cities Lystra was Timothy's hometown.  For instance, in Acts 20:4 in a list of Paul's friends there are the names of "Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy"; this might be saying Timothy was not "of Derbe."  And in Acts 16:3, the brethren who gave Paul the favorable report about Timothy were "at Lystra and Iconium"; the brethren from Derbe are not mentioned, which again might mean Timothy called Lystra his hometown.    

In 2 Timothy 3:10-11 Paul mentioned Timothy had fully known the persecutions and afflictions which came to him at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra.  These persecutions occurred during his first visit to these towns; and it would seem Timothy was one of the people Paul converted.  I say this because we find that on Paul's subsequent visit to Lystra and Derbe, Timothy is identified as one of the “disciples” there:

"Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium" (Acts 16:1-2). 

In 2 Timothy 1:5 we learn Timothy's “father was a Greek,” that is, a gentile and his mother was “a Jewess.”  Timothy had not been circumcised in infancy probably because his father objected.  His mother’s name was Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois: 

When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”

Clearly, Eunice had been converted during Paul’s first missionary journey to Derbe and Lystra just like Timothy because when he returned to these cities she is spoken of as “a Jewess who believed" (Acts 16:1)

During Paul’s second visit to Derbe and Lystra, he was drawn to Timothy’s unfeigned faith; from childhood he had been taught the O.T. Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15).  Moreover, having received favorable reports about his character and deportment “…by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium…” (Acts 16:2), and his suitability for the  work of the ministry, Paul wanted him "to go forth with him" preaching the gospel of grace (Acts 16:3). 

Prior to heading out as a fellow laborer in the cause of Christ Jesus Paul had Timothy circumcised.  The reason for this was twofold:  1) It was meant to appease the Jewish Christians who would otherwise raise an unnecessary ruckus and the fact that he was uncircumcised would weaken Timothy’s position and his work for the Lord.  2) Paul agreed to this procedure because Timothy’s mother was a Jewess.  But it’s worth noting Paul’s logic did not apply to Titus.  Before they went up to Jerusalem to confront the Jewish Believers and the twelve regarding Paul’s ministry to the gentiles, he refused to allow circumcision to be performed on him (Acts 15:2) for Titus, unlike Timothy, was a gentile from birth (see Genesis 17). 

Verse 2.

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here Paul identifies the recipients of this letter “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse:

Having been water baptized into and raised as a Roman Catholic, I’m aware of the lengthy process one must undergo to be recognized as a saint in the Catholic church.  There are five steps:

1)      The person’s local bishop investigates their life by gathering information from witnesses of their life and any writings they may have penned.  If the bishop finds them worthy of being a saint, then he submits the information he gathered to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

2)      The Congregation for the Causes of Saints can choose to reject the application or accept it and begin their own investigation of the person’s life.  If the application is accepted, the person may be called Servant of God.

3)      If the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approves of the candidate, they can choose to declare the person lived a virtuous life.  This isn’t a declaration that the person is in heaven, but that they pursued holiness while here on earth.  If this is indeed found to be the case, the person may be called Venerable. 

4)      To be recognized as someone in heaven requires that a miracle has taken place through the intercession of that person.  The miracle is usually a healing.  The healing has to be instantaneous, permanent, and complete while also being scientifically unexplainable. Miracles have to be first verified as scientifically unexplainable by a group of independent doctors, then the person is approved by a panel of theologians, and then the final approval lies with the pope.  If this is the case, a person is declared a blessed

5)      A second miracle is needed in order to declare someone a saint.  The  confirmation of a second miracle goes through the same scrutiny as the first. 

This five-step process is a general outline for how someone becomes a saint by Catholic standards.  There are definitely exceptions to this process and situations that may change the process as well.  By-the-by, this process is lengthy it can take many years or even centuries.

Returning to our text, according to God’s Word, there isn’t even a hint of this five-step process before a person is recognized as a “saint, in Christ The only thing required of you to become a saint, that is, a member of the Body of Christ, is believe the Lord Jesus Christ shed His blood for your sin, was buried, and then rose from the dead on the third day, according to the scriptures (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  

The word “saint” is derived from the Koine Greek word hagios, which literally means “set apart to God for His purpose."  It is almost always used in the plural, “saints” (Acts 9:13, 32, 26:10).  I say almost because the word “saints” appears 67 times in the N.T.  whereas the term saint appears only once in Philippians 4:21.  But even though Paul used the singular form in his letter to the Philippians writing, “every saint;” a plurality of saints is understood.   Eurodias and Syntyche may not have been behaving as saints, but in spite of their foolish behavior, they are still recognized as being saints, in Christ.   

The Scriptures have something to say about the godly character of saints, in Christ:

"That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, (Romans 16:2).  

"For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  (Ephesians 4:12).  

"But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;" (Ephesians 5:3).

So then, every Believer is a saint by virtue of their personal relationship with the Christ Jesus.  This is of God and not man.  Therefore, scripturally speaking, the “saints” are the Body of Christ, a.k.a. the Church.  First Corinthians 1:2 states this clearly:


 Unto the church (ekklesia) of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” 

Verse 1:2b.

“…Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The KJV Dictionary defines the grace of God as “the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him.”  So, in the Bible, the grace of God is His loving favor toward fallen mankind from which every spiritual blessing flows.  Our Apostle Paul has more to say about God’s grace than any other Bible writer.  He opens every one of his epistles or letters with the declaration, “Grace be unto you and peace.” 

This doesn’t surprise me because Paul was the first person saved by God’s grace, alone.   Paul remarks on this in 1 Timothy 1:12-16:

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief (Paul’s not saying he is the worst sinner that ever lived; he’s saying he was the first person saved by God’s grace - alone).  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

After many years of suffering for serving the risen Lord, he declared:

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify (to what exactly) the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Salvation is wholly by God’s grace, not in addition to man’s works, for in Romans 11:6 we read:  And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

And in Romans 4:5:  “…to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Thus salvation is “not of works” but “unto good works “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).  

Romans 3:23 clearly says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” but thanks be to God that all who believe the gospel of grace may be “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:24).

God’s desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 1:4).  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:2b).

This “grace and peace” Paul speaks of is one of the themes of Paul’s message to all the saints, in Christ Jesus.  This is because God prophesied in the O.T. that (not if but) when mankind rejects the Lord Jesus Christ, He will judge them.  This prophesy is still in play folks.  Although God the Father has temporarily interrupted the Prophetic Program which concerns the nation of Israel primarily, the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back again one day future:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war” (Revelation 19:11).

The Lord isn’t coming back to restore harmony and peace even though many people think so.  What is this Bible verse telling us?  When He returns it is to judge and make war with Satan and all those who oppose Him!  Judgement and war are the very opposite of grace and peace.  The nation of Israel and the world rejected God’s Son and publicly humiliated Him by hanging him on a Roman cross to die.  Because of their unbelief they will be judged, by the righteous Creator God:

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17; Acts 2:22-23).    

Don’t just read through that passage of Scripture let it sink in…

 
(To be continued.  Publication date uncertain).

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Sunday, December 1, 2019

Philoippians 4:14-23 (L 39)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                    Published: December 2, 2019

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

***********************************************************************************************
Welcome to HBS.

I continue to thank God for each one of you, your faithful attendance and your earnest desire to grow in faith and knowledge of our Lord and Savior.

Let’s review.

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be

content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (4:10-13).

The statement, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” suggests there was a time in Paul’s life when he was discontented in spite of all his earthly gains.  He came from a family that was privileged financially, religiously, and socially, which means he was no different than the majority of people today who equate contentment with the size of their bank balance, their careers, the car they drive, the affluent home in which they live, and their standing in the church and community.  But now Paul considered his worldly assets inconsequential saying, “…what things were gain to me, those I counted but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:” (Philippians 3:7).

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need… I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (4:11-13).

The alarming thing is churched people are misinterpreting verse 4:13.  They ignore verses 4:11-12 while over emphasizing the first part of 4:13 that reads, “I can do all things. Paul clearly said Christ Jesus provides the strength we need, not to go out and get whatsoever our heart desires, but to be content in whatsoever state we might be in for when we are weak He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;” (Ephesians 3:16)

Finally, my brethren, be strong (how) in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” (Colossians 1:9-11).

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(Continued from L 38)

Please open your Bible at Philippians 4:13.  I want to park here awhile longer.  

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

This was one of the first Bible verses I memorized and there are plenty of churched people who can say the same thing.  Without a doubt Philippians 4:13 is one of the most popular verses in all the Bible.  It can be found printed on millions of ball caps, banners, key chains, t-shirts, cellphone cases, and coffee mugs.  But it also one of the most misunderstood, misused, and misinterpreted verses in the Bible.  Permit me to illustrate:  on July 27, 2009, the cover of “Sports Illustrated” featured the image of Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow.  The headline read, “Tim Tebow: Man of Many Missions.”  Coinciding with that headline, underneath his eyes he used black grease to write “Phil 4:13.”  His many fans picked up on his message with little difficulty, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

For many Christians Philippians 4:13 functions as a kind of mystical prayer.  They pull the Philippian 4:13 card whenever they need to draw power from another source to defeat whatever opposition stands before them or to obtain one or more of life’s dreams.  Where do people get such notions?  Finding an example was not difficult.

Joel Osteen preaches the prosperity gospel to an evangelical mega-church located in Houston, TX.  He provided the following commentary on Philippians 4:13 in the January 21, 2013 edition of his “Today’s Word” devotional and I quote:

“Most people tend to magnify their limitations.  They focus on their shortcomings.  But scripture makes it plain: all things are possible to those who believe.  That’s right!  It is possible to see your dreams fulfilled.  It is possible to overcome that obstacle.  It is possible to climb to new heights.  It is possible to embrace your destiny.  You may not know how it will all take place.  You may not have a plan, but all you have to know is that if God said you can…you can!”

Because of Mr. Osteen’s preaching, and others, many churched Christians today understand and interpret this verse as meaning if they want something, they can have it.  For them, the “all things” that Christ empowers them to accomplish includes “fulfilling their dreams, climbing to new heights, and embracing their destinies.”

Do you want: that promotion, to find your soul mate, to make more money, to break the bank at the Hard Rock Casino?  No problem.  You can accomplish “all things.”  Sadly, this popular way of interpreting and applying Philippians 4:13 couldn’t be further from its actual meaning.  To understand the meaning we have to read the verse in context.

Philippians is one of Paul’s “prison epistles,” so it isn’t surprising the book draws heavily on the themes of humility and self-sacrifice or taking on the mind of Christ.  When you imagine Paul penning this letter while chained to a member of the Pretorian guard around the clock and facing a possible death sentence (not exactly the new heights and destiny imagined above) you begin to realize those prevalent interpretations of this verse fall well short of its intended meaning.  When you add verses 4:11-12 to verse 4:13, or keep the passage in context, you recognize Paul’s expressing a broader concept:

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Paul isn’t telling the Philippians (and us) no dream is too big; he is reminding them that they can endure the agony of defeat if their dreams go unrealized.  He’s not encouraging these Believers to go out and get whatever they desire; he’s reminding them to keep on keeping on, “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (3:14) even though their heart’s desire is not realized.

Let’s revisit Paul’s statement in verse 4:11b and combine it with Philippians 4:13.

…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content… I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  


Paul was able to say, “… no matter what state I am;” “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Paul’s saying whether “I am” free or in prison,

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  

He had been “instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” by going through life’s ups and downs.  Christ Jesus provides the strength we need not only to endure whatever crisis might be on our doorstep, but also the ability to be content while going through it.  So here’s the thing, the Philippians (and us) are instructed to live their lives through Christ and in order to do this they have to have the mind of Christ, which means they have to know Christ, dispensationaly speaking.  This is achieved by studying the Word of God rightly divided or that portion of scripture written to and for the Body of Christ.  (See Romans thru Philemon) 

So, contrary to popular opinion, this scripture passage is not teaching us “God will give you the strength to do whatever you want.”  By the by, anytime someone tells you or you read something that begins with the phrase “God will give you…” it should cause you to think twice.  God is not a divine genie in the bottle or cosmic powerplant to fuel your carnal desires.  Instead, and in keeping with Paul’s meaning, God is a sustainer when life becomes unsustainable... “when we are weak He is strong!”  So then, the God of the Bible promises to give us exactly what we need in our time of need, especially when we encounter one of life’s many obstacles (2 Timothy3:12).  He gives us the strength to go through them.  Remember, Christ Jesus’ path to glory led through a Roman Cross! 

Philippians 4:14-20:

“Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.  For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.  Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.  But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”

There’s a lot going on here but we’ll take it one verse at a time starting with verse 4:14: 

“Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction. 

The word communicate means the Philippians took part in Paul’s affliction or they sympathized with his current situation and assisted him in his time of need. 

Verse 4:15:

Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

What does “the beginning of the gospel” mean?  First, the gospel Paul is referring to is his gospel of grace (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and not the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God found in Mark 1:1.  These are two separate gospels, given under different situations, to two different groups of people.  One is the circumcison (the nation of Israel) and the other is the uncircumcision, i.e. the gentiles (Ephesians 2:11-12).  Mark 1:1 or the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ is in relation to God’s prophetic program.  It’s known as such because the LORD God (Jehovah) revealed prophecy (or things to come) to the Jews through the major and minor prophets of Israel (Hebrews 1:1-2).  So, Mark’s announcement marked the start of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry to the nation of Israel.  This gospel is also known as the kingdom gospel.  It presents Jesus Christ as Israel’s king and Messiah who came to redeem the lost sheep of the whole house of Israel (Matthew 15:24; Luke 19:10).  Paul does not refer to the Lord Jesus Christ as either our king or Messiah; He is the Head of the Church, i.e. the Body of Christ and we are all members of His body (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:30; Colossians 1:18). 

Many people disagree with what I just said, but those folks aren’t rightly dividing their Bible.  The disagreement continues over the phrase, “in the beginning.”  However, it’s clear to me this phrase takes us back to one of his opening comments in chapter 1:

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;” (Philippians 1:3).

The first time Paul shared the gospel in the Roman colony of Philippi is recorded for us in Acts 16:11-14.  There was no synagogue in this community, so on the Sabbath he and Silas went out of the city by a river side and shared the gospel with the Jewish women he found there, one of which was Lydia.  The Lord opened her heart to receive it.  So, in reference to Paul’s comment “in the beginning” he means to say, “When I first preached the gospel to you or when the gospel took root influencing minds and hearts” (Acts 16): 

 “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is

rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:11-15).

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).  

Verse 15b:

“…no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.”

After Paul left Macedonia no grace church partnered (communicated) with him in the cause of Christ (the furtherance of the gospel of grace) except the Philippians.  They alone were willing to step up to the plate, no pun intended, to support Paul and his ministry. 

Paul told the Philippians they had “done well’ (4:14), and described their gift as “fruit that abounds to your account” (4:17).  What does this mean?  First, every Believer has a running account with the Lord; a record of the good things and the bad things done in the flesh.  The day is coming when there will be an accounting:

Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:13).

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Second, their gift served Paul and his apostolic ministry or the cause of Christ Jesus. Therefore, Paul described it as  spiritual fruit that abounds to their account.  Not every good deed we perform is credited to our account.  Permit me to explain.  I have partnered with ministries in the past that helped the poor and homeless veterans.  We gave them hot food, clothing, winter wear, and temporary shelter along with empathy.  One group provided both dental and medical care.  But here’s the thing, not one of these groups shared the gospel of grace with these folks.  Arguably, their greatest need.  So, although helping the poor and the homeless is certainly a good thing, in reality, if you only provide material things, leaving the gospel that saves out, then all you’ve done is help their outer man you’ve done nothing to feed their inner man, spiritually speaking.  So, only one of these good works quantifies as spiritual fruit - “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God” (4:18b).  It’s the one that supports the cause of Christ in the Dispensation of God’s Grace:

Adding to this, over the years I’ve also partnered with several denominational churches and supported their ministry with my “tithes,” but to be honest; I didn’t hear the gospel of grace once.  So, although my gift was a tax deduction that benefited me on April 15 it did not count as spiritual fruit abounding to my account!

Verse 4:16.

For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.” 

The assembly at Philippi had truly touched the heart of Paul with their sacrificial giving.  I think the reason for this lies in the fact they decided in their heart what they should give and then gave above that amount (2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 9:7), and “They gave from their poverty.”  Since no other church chose to partner with Paul’s ministry, I’m sure he was pleasantly surprised when the Philippians came to his aid at Thessalonica, not once, but twice, in support of his ministry, which demonstrated their love for Paul and the level of their commitment:

But this would not be the last time this assembly would offer financial assistance to the Lord’s work.  The Jews at Jerusalem who had practiced the “all things common” program (Acts 2:44-45), believing Jesus Christ’s return to set up the kingdom was just over the horizon.  But that didn’t happen so they found themselves without means when the supplies ran out.  Until they were able to provide for themselves, as before, God supplied their material needs through the gentile’s gifts, which had to be a humbling experience to say the least (Acts 20:1-5; Romans 15:25-26; Galatians 2:10).  

To encourage the Philippians they weren’t the only assembly supporting the effort to help the poor Believers at Jerusalem, Paul praised the Corinthians who had promised they would give a generous gift.  However, a year had passed and they had not honored that promise.  Their carnality short circuited the fulfillment of it.  The saints at Corinth were in a position to help the most, but had done the least to support the cause of Christ.  So, Paul challenged them to keep their promise (2 Corinthians 9:3-4). 

Applying these truths to our lives, the purpose of our giving should mimic the Philippians, that is, to see the cause of Christ advanced, according to the revelation of the mystery of God’s Grace.  If God has opened the eyes of your understanding to the Word, rightly divided, then you have an obligation to support those ministries that stand with us in the faith.  Plainly said, grace people need to support grace works.  If we fail to do this, then the grace message, as we know it, will eventually be lost.  Now it’s also true people want to give to the grace ministry but are in a tight spot financially.   This is where God’s grace program shines because those who are able to give make up the deficit. 

Please note I didn’t not mention the word “tithe” once and that’s because our Apostle Paul does not.  Instead he encourages us to give in this manner:

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (1 Corinthians 9:7).



On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper,” (1 Corinthians 16:2).

Verses 17-18:

Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.  But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.”

Paul’s not dropping a direct hint to the saints at Philippi for more money.  I base this on what he wrote, “…But I have all, and abound: I am full…  Instead, he pointed out “the things which were sent from you” counted as spiritual fruitan odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.”

Every time a Believer gives to further the gospel of grace they are making a spiritual investment, which in time will bear eternal dividends (reward) at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Paul acknowledged he was both grateful and content with what he had received from their assembly.   He also wanted them to be aware their thoughtfulness and generosity “an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable” had touched the very heart of God. 

Paul borrows this particular phraseology from the Old Testament.  There were five Levitical offerings that were practiced under the Mosaic system, three of which were sweet smelling savor offerings.  They are: the burnt offering which typified Christ offering Himself to the Father as the sinless spotless Lamb of God (Leviticus 1:3-4); the meal offering which typified the flawless humanity of Christ who endured suffering on behalf of the sinner (Leviticus 2:1-3); and the peace offering which typified Christ as the peacemaker who brings the Believer into fellowship with God and other Believers through His finished work of the cross (Leviticus 3:1-3). 

These three offerings were well pleasing to God, illustrating Christ’s affectionate devotion to His Father’s will.  They were also acts of worship!  In like manner, the Philippians’ faithful support of Paul’s apostleship and message of God’s grace to all demonstrated their devotion to God and His will.  This too is an act of worship. 

Verse 4:19.

But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  
Like Philippians 4:13, Philippians 4:19 is a popular verse that’s often misused.  After thanking the Philippians for generously supporting his apostolic ministry, Paul wrote: “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”   Some people use this verse to suggest God wants us to be healthy and wealthy or He will make us healthy and wealthy on the condition we give our money to a particular cause or person.   One such group would be the people who preach and teach the prosperity gospel; one of the most dangerous heretical doctrines in operation today.  But Paul is not promising God intends to make us wealthy or healthy at least not in the way people typically think.  Paul knows something about physical healing having healed people early on in his ministry (see Acts 19:11-12, 28:9).  He also knows what it’s like to have all he needs and be in need (4:12).  It’s important to point out I don’t put God in a box by saying He can’t or won’t respond to an individual’s need.  The difference is Paul’s not saying these things are connected in some way to our sacrificial giving.   In other words, your money cannot purchase God’s love!

To understand what verse 4:19 means we need to examine the Philippians motives for giving in support of Paul’s ministry of grace or the cause of Christ.  Paul is expressing his heartfelt gratitude to the Philippians for their sacrificial gifts.  These saints were known  for the poverty as the Corinthians were known for their prosperity.  They supported Paul willingly out of their poverty.  So, the question before us is, “Why would they give so generously if they had so little?”  It wasn’t because they believed their gifts would somehow generate a cash flow, but because they were spiritually invested in the gospel and the ministry Paul was doing in Rome.  They believed in Paul and his ministry, and they could see and hear about the spiritual fruit it was producing.  Paul talked about how the gospel is spreading throughout Rome and Caesar’s palace in the first chapter of Philippians (1:12-13).

Supporting Paul and his labor for the Lord wasn’t a formula for the church or individual to make more money.  If anything, it was a strategy, divine in nature, to keep the gospel of grace in play throughout the known world.  And the Philippians were on board with that program, despite having very little.  In Philippians 4:19, Paul is saying God meets all of our needs according to the riches in Christ Jesus, that is, God promises as we participate and partner in the ministry of the gospel we'll be blessed.

Verses 4:20-23 bring this letter to a close.

Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.   Salute every saint in Christ Jesus.  The brethren which are with me greet you.  All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.   Amen.”

I’ll take the time to point out in verse 19 Paul stated, “My God....”  You see, Paul had a personal relationship with God, as all Believers in Christ do.  He cherished this relationship, unlike some people today who simply believe God is far off, if He exists at all,  and unconcerned about them and their circumstances.  But Paul knew better.  He understood God was an ever-present help in time of need (Psalm 46:1) and interested in every aspect of his life and ministry.  And when he considered all that God had done for him through Christ, and was presently doing, he closed this epistle with a doxology, “Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.

Salute every saint in Christ Jesus” (4:21a) -  here Paul sends greetings to “every saint” at Philippi.  Their hearts and names were forever attached to the Lord’s work, proof of this is here we are in the year of our Lord 2019 studying the letter Paul wrote to them, even those who were misbehaving at Philippi, namely, Eurodias and Syntyche and their followers. 

The brethren which are with me greet you” (4:21b) - Paul’s companions in travel were very dedicated to the Lord’s work and to Paul.  While there were many such workers Paul is undoubtedly referring to Luke and Aristarchus (Acts 27:1-3; Colossians 4:10-14).

Aristarchus (“a Greek Macedonian of Thessalonica” (Acts 27:2) was a Believer mentioned in a few passages of the N. T.  He accompanied Paul on his journey to Rome.  Along with Gaius, another Macedonian, Aristarchus was seized by the mob at Ephesus and taken into the theater (Acts 19:29).  Later, he returned with Paul from Greece to Asia (Acts 20:4).  At Caesarea, he embarked with Paul on a ship of Edremit bound for Myra in Lycia (Acts 27:2); whether he traveled with him from there to Rome is not recorded.  Aristarchus is described as Paul's "fellow prisoner" and "fellow laborer" in Colossians 4:10 and Philemon 1:24.

Luke is the Apostle Luke.  He wrote both the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.

All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household” (4:22) - Although Paul suffered dearly for his gospel and in trying to reach his countrymen at Jerusalem with it, thankfully, in the end it all worked out for the furtherance of the gospel.  Here, again, we witness the risen Lord’s prophecy re: Saul of Tarsus being fulfilled:

“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16). 

Paul was able to reach many people in Caesar’s household and the city of Rome itself with his gospel that in all probability might not have been reached otherwise.  Those added to the household of faith included servants, slaves, Roman soldiers, and perhaps even some of Nero’s family members.  

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen” (4:23) -  The theme of all of Paul’s epistles is God’s amazing grace; therefore Philippians begins with grace (4:2) and now ends with grace (4:23).  It also begins and ends with our first love (Luke 10:27).  As the song says, “Christ is all that He claimed to be,” and so much more!  Praise God!

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Friday, November 22, 2019

Philippians 4:10-13 (L 38)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
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Established November 2008                                    Published: November 22, 2019

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
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Welcome  everyone to HBS.
Let’s review.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (4:8-9).

In Matthew 6:5-15 the Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples how to pray.  It’s not a prayer in and of itself it is Israel’s outline for prayer.  In Philippians 4:6-7 our Apostle Paul used a similar teaching aid when he outlined the manner in which the Believers in Philippi (and us today) are to pray.  He began by saying, “Be careful for nothing.”  They were not to worry about anything because God is in control (Romans 8:28-29).  Worry is an exercise that gains you nothing.  It not only adds unnecessary stress to one’s life and it distracts your attention from the things of God.  Paul then explained their prayers ought to be balanced:  “…but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  He then assured them God answers their prayers with the promise:  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds (how) through Christ Jesus.”

Peace with God” is one thing; “the peace of God” is another thing altogether.  To enjoy the latter, we must first experience the former, for the peace of God, ruling in our hearts, is the result of “peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul declared by divine inspiration that “Christ Jesus was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification” and that “therefore, being justified by faith,” we, who once were at enmity with God, may enjoy “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 4:25, 5:1).  The result of “peace with God” is “the peace of God,” the peace that He gives to His own amid all of life’s troubles:

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13).

While only those who are at peace with God can and should know “the peace of God,” it does not follow, however, that all those who are at peace with God necessarily enjoy “the peace of God.”  This is because not every Believer follows Paul’s outline for prayer or bothers to pray at all.  They will only experience “the peace of God” when they put into practice Philippians 4:6:  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.”

As we follow Paul’s prayer outline the promise which follows will be fulfilled.

Then, before Paul could say “Finally” and “think on these things,” (4:8-9) the Philippians needed to have the mind of Christ.  It’s highly unlikely they could or would think on those things that are true, honest, just, pure, etc. without embracing this mindset.  Paul goes on to say, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me do: and the God of peace shall be with you, which is another way of saying, “Following my example:

“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (Corinthians 11:1).

At the trail end of verse 4:9 Paul mentioned the God of peace.  We discussed the “peace with God,” and “the peace of God” recently, so what does the God of peace mean?  If we skip ahead to 4:11-12  we’ll find the answer to this question.  This is where Paul admitted he had learned to be content no matter what:

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

Having the mind of Christ, makes enables you to be content even in the midst of difficult times.  Paul wasn’t stymied by his circumstances or his surroundings, he practiced what he preached saying, “rejoice in the Lord alway” (in every way) in spite of his predicament.  Paul had learned to be content in any situation, so this is what “the God of peace shall be with you” means.
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Please open your Bible at Philippians 4:10-13.

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care for me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

After wrapping up his instructions on prayer, Paul begins a new topic.  In this section of Scripture he explains how and why the Believer ought to behave when they have all they need and when they do not.  He wanted these folks to learn by following his example, not because he was perfect, but because sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is by following a visual example. 

Back in the day when I taught the Bible in classrooms I learned from trial and error that people absorb information differently.  Some folks are auditory they’re able to learn by reading the material aloud, to themselves, or by discussing the topic in group.  Others are visual; they require teaching aids such as pictures, power point, slide shows and the like.  Then there are those who learn best by getting their hands dirty, so to speak.  This is known as kinesthetic learning or learning by doing.  It’ also true some people require more than one of these teaching aids to learn the material.  We know Paul, whether knowingly or unknowingly, utilized two of these teaching techniques.  The Philippians had either read this letter themselves, or heard it read aloud in their house church, and he urged them to follow his example which is certainly a visual aid (4:9).   

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly” (4:10a) -  Paul personalized this declaration when he said, “I.”  He is expressing his heartfelt gratitude for the Philippian’s gift, but he didn’t thank  them.  Paul’s gratefulness is addressed to the Lord because He is the source of the gift.  It came about because the Lord was able to work effectively in and through the saints in Philippi.  

Verse 4:10b:

“…that now at the last your care (concern) for me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

Paul planted many churches but the assembly at Philippi was the only one that supported him financially.  He specifically mentioned this in 4:15-18.  Paul was imprisoned multiple times, so when he said, “So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;” (1:13) we know he was writing this letter while under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:17-31).  It stands to reason this was most likely a transitional period for Paul, that is, after he’d been falsely accused of being an insurrectionist, but before he stood trial before Nero.  During this period of time, Paul wrote his prison epistles, i.e. Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and of course Philippians (1 Corinthians 9:11-14; Galatians 6:6). 

We aren’t told how the Philippians became aware of Paul’s predicament in Rome.  But they demonstrated their concern (care) for his wellbeing by sending him a gift.  But here’s the thing, most people fail to understand the significance of that gift.  The Romans didn’t have prisons like the ones we know today.  Accused wealthy citizens were simply kept under house arrest, provided they behaved, until a trial could take place.  The poor generally found justice swift and usually fatal.  Outside of the cities, a villa might have three areas to keep slaves, one for those who were well behaved, one for those that were kept shackled, and one for those allowed some freedom of movement.  The actual prisons in Rome themselves were merely a place where the  condemned were held awaiting execution.  In addition, the prison system in Rome didn’t provide meals for their prisoner’s or any of the creature comforts.  This duty fell to their family members and friends, or else they would simply do without.  We know Paul wasn’t being held in the dungeon at this time.  He was chained to a Pretorian guard around the clock in a rented house.   Paul was a Roman citizen so he was better off than some others, but he still required help.  After learning about his situation, the Philippians sent Paul money that  could be used to pay for his basic needs.  But there was still a lot that Paul couldn’t do for himself, so the church also sent Epaphroditus to assist him (2:27-30). 

“…your care (concern) for me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

Another word for “flourished” is revived.  It is a word applicable to plants and flowers, meaning to grow again; to flourish again; to spring up again.  The Philippians “lacked opportunity” or were hindered from helping Paul because of his situation and the great distance between them.  So, when their gift arrived in Rome it was as though their care for him had been revived, i.e. sprung up again.  

Verse 4:11.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

One dictionary defines contentment as: "The state of being mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are. Contentment is a rare state of mind today.  In fact, based on my observations, people do not comprehend the value of contentment.  If they truly understood its worth, wouldn't they be doing all they could to obtain it and then retain it?  Thus, we live in a discontented culture.  I say this because it’s more common to find someone who is dissatisfied with his or her condition in life than not.  People are discontent with what they have, what they are missing in life, how they look, who they are married to, their vocation, their relatively new and fully operational smart phone, and their circumstances.  Paul demonstrated he is the polar opposite of that mental attitude.  For example, with Christmas Day almost on our doorstep I’m certain you know few, if any, people who have said, “I have all that I need.  Don’t buy me anything.  Fortunately, I do and Paul is one of them.  According to verse 4:17, Paul wanted the Philippians to understand although he was grateful for both their concern and their generosity, he did not want them to think he was expecting another gift, for he had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself. 

When Paul said, “I have learned” he implied there was a time in his life when he was not content.  He had come from a family that was well off financially, religiously, and socially prior to his conversion, which meant he was like so many other folks, Believers included, who equate contentment with the accumulation of stuff and monetary wealth tops the list.  But now, Paul considered all of his earthly gains as “dung” (3:4-12).  He had “learned” how to be “content in whatsoever state he found himself.  He had  learned contentment in this life wasn’t dependent upon his worldly assets or gains, but through Christ Jesus:  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (4:7). 

Verses 4:12-14.

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.”

This is how Paul could confidently say that whether he was full or hungry he knew how to be content, whether he was free or in prison, he simply left it with the Lord.  True spiritual contentment is found in Christ for our sufficiency is Christ and Christ alone!.  Until we come to accept this truth we will be hopelessly searching for the same contentment Paul experienced.  That thought takes us to verse 4:13:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” – Paul means to say he is independent of his circumstances, i.e. he is content no matter what happens.  He knows God is able to move or remove whatever mountain that is confronting him, but if He does not Christ Jesus will provide the strength needed to withstand any and all of life’s difficulties.  

The number one thief of contentment is undesirable circumstances.  Paul said, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound :  The word abased means to "get along with humble means."  He knew how to do without food, clothing, shelter, or the basic human comforts without murmuring or complaining.  He also knew how to abound which means: "to have more than enough or to be prosperous.  It requires as much grace to maintain the right mental attitude in prosperity as it does in adversity, perhaps more.  Adversity in and of itself does something to keep the mind in the right state; prosperity does nothing.  

I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” -  the phrase “I am instructed” means Paul is well acquainted with the lessons learned from his adverse situations because he went through each and every one.  The word “full” means to have plenty to eat, and the word “hungry” means to go without food.  Plainly said, Paul was able to be abased without feeling anxiety, resentment, or worry.  He suffered the need of clothing, food, safety, shelter, etc. without murmuring or complaining.  This peace, this state of mind, does not come naturally folks it has to be learned.  Paul said, “I have learned” through life’s experiences, i.e. every kind of trial and tribulation known to man and yet he was unaffected by them.  Negative situations didn’t produce anger or bitterness in him, instead, Paul “rejoiced in the Lord alway.”

Paul wasn’t a victim of his circumstances because he learned to take on an eternal perspective.  He focused not on temporal things and the struggles of life, but on his eternal rewards (2 Timothy 4:8).

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5).

If our Apostle Paul could view his afflictions as light (2 Corinthians 4:23-28), what is this saying to every Believer in Christ Jesus?  It means you and I are more than the sum of our fears and woes.   In light of eternity, it means our physical adversities are momentary and temporal, but the service we do as the Lord’s ambassadors here on earth “worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory which is eternal. 

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