Philippians 1

The Word Made Fresh

1From Paul and Timothy, the servants of Christ Jesus; to God’s people in Philippi and your bishops and deacons.

2May grace and peace be with you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3I thank God for you when I pray, 4and it is always a joyful prayer. 5You have been my partners in the gospel from the day you first believed, and I’m glad that you are. 6I’m certain that the one who began a good work in you will remain with you to finish it by the day of Christ Jesus. 7I keep you in my heart, and that is why I pray for you. You have been my partners in God’s grace while I’ve been in prison to support and defend the gospel. 8God is a witness of the affection I have for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

9So, this is my prayer; that your love might grow even richer with knowledge and insight. 10I pray that you will be able to decide what really matters so that you will be certain and blameless on the day of Christ. 11And I pray that you will be filled with the fruits of righteousness, for righteousness comes from Jesus Christ to give glory and praise to God.

12Friends, I want you to know that the troubles I have had have actually advanced the gospel. 13The Praetorian Guard and everybody else knows that I’m in prison for Christ. 14Because of my time in jail the Lord has given most of the friends more confidence to preach boldly. 15There are some, of course, who preach Christ for jealous and competitive reasons, but others preach for good purposes, 16motivated by love. They know that I’m here to defend the gospel, 17while others do so selfishly. They’re not sincere, and want to cause me more pain while I’m incarcerated.

18This is what I think about it: while Christ is preached, whether with true or dishonest motives, I’m happy for it. 19I’m glad because I know it will eventually result in my release through your prayers and with the help of the Spirit of Christ Jesus. 20I expect and hope that I won’t be ashamed in anything, but that with courage Christ will be seen in me now and always, whether I live or die. 21As far as I’m concerned, living serves Christ, but dying is even better. 22While I’m living, I see the results of my work, 23but I don’t know which I prefer. I’m torn between wanting to remain here or leave this life and be with Christ, which would be far better. 24But perhaps it’s better for me to stay in this world for your sake. 25I’m certain that I should stay alive and be with you to help your progress and share the joy of your faith 26and increase your love for Christ Jesus whenever I’m with you again.

27But most of all I want you to live together in a way that is worthy of the gospel of Christ. Do this whether I come to see you in person or hear about you in my absence. Do this so that you will stand firm and be united in one spirit and mind while you work together to stay faithful to the gospel. 28In that way you won’t fear anything your enemies might do. Your faithfulness and courage are signs that their destruction and your salvation from God is on the way. 29God has given you the double privilege of believing in Christ and suffering for Christ. 30You are confronted with the same struggles that I faced and am still facing.


Philippi was located on the northern shore of the Aegean Sea in Macedonia. It was established by Philip, father of Alexander the Great, and was later the site of the victory of Antony over Cassius. The Battle of Philippi secured the Roman Empire some 40 years before the birth of Jesus, and Philippi was rewarded by being made a Roman province. Paul’s visit there, during his second missionary journey, is recorded in Acts 16.

1-2: The letters to Philippi and to Timothy are the only ones to mention bishops (or “overseers”) and deacons (or “helpers”), and reveal a rather extensive organizational structure in the church very early on.

3-11: The opening thanksgiving and prayer for the recipients of his letter is a typical Pauline feature.

12-14: Paul tells them that his imprisonment has been a blessing because it has emboldened others to proclaim the word.

15-18: There is also some rivalry and competition for leadership in the early church. We have seen that in other letters, especially Galatians. But Paul takes the high road here: regardless of the motives of others who have preached in Philippi, Paul is grateful for all who proclaim Christ.

19-26: Paul believes that his imprisonment (probably in Rome) very well might result in his death, but that does not burden him. Death to Paul was simply the doorway through which he would be united with Christ. Still, he allows that his continued presence might provide some needed leadership in the church in Philippi, and hopes to visit them again.

27-30: He urges them to be strong and keep the faith in the face of opposition. When Paul was there before, he was arrested for causing a disturbance when he healed a slave girl of a “demon” that earned money for her owners. He and Silas were miraculously freed from the jail (see Acts 16, beginning at verse 16).


The Church was divided by factions early on, and that is reflected in today’s world by all the various denominations of Christianity. Paul’s attitude is that while “Christ is preached, whether with true or dishonest motives, I’m happy for it.” Wouldn’t the church be enriched if we all had that attitude?