Philippians 2

The Word Made Fresh

1So, if there is any encouragement in Christ and any comfort in love and any sharing in the Spirit, or any sympathy for one another, 2make my joy complete by thinking and loving and being united and agreeing with one another. 3Don’t do anything for selfish reasons. Be humble and think of others as better than yourselves. 4Watch out for what is best for others instead of looking out for your own good. 5Behave in a way that reflects Christ Jesus.

6Even though he was like God,
he didn’t think that was something to take advantage of.
7He put himself aside.
He took on the character of a servant,
and became like a man.
When he realized he was in the form of a man
8he was humble and obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
9God honored him greatly,
and gave him a name above all names
10so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven
and everyone on the earth or under the earth might bow down,
11and every voice confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
so that the Father is glorified.

12So, my friends, you always obey me when I’m with you, but also now while I’m away from you. Work for your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13God is the one who helps you desire and achieve his own good plans. 14Do it without complaining and without arguing 15so that you might be without blame. Be pure and innocent like children of God surrounded by crooked and corrupt people, and you will shine like stars among them 15because you cling to the word of life. Then, on the day of Christ, I’ll be able to declare that I haven’t toiled and labored for nothing. 17But even if I’m poured out like an offering on the altar of service because of your faith, I’m satisfied. I’m happy for all of you. 18And you ought to be happy about this as well. Celebrate with me!

19My hope in the Lord Jesus is to send Timothy to you soon so that I can be encouraged when I hear about you. 20I don’t know anyone else like him. He genuinely cares about your welfare 21while others put their own plans ahead of Christ’s plan. 22You know how he works with me for the gospel, like a son working for his father. 23That’s why he’s the one I want to send to you as soon as I learn how things will turn out here for me. 24I trust the Lord that I will be able to visit you soon.

25I also think I should send Epaphroditus to you; he is my brother and my coworker and comrade, and he is the one from among you who takes care of my needs. 26He misses you and was very upset when he found that you had heard that he was ill. 27He was very ill, and almost died, but God had mercy on him. And not just on him, but on me as well, because if he had died I would have deeply grieved. 28So I’m sending him on so that when you see him you’ll be happy and I won’t have to worry. 29Joyfully welcome him in the Lord, and demonstrate your respect for him and others like him. 30He almost died because he risked himself for the work of Christ, and he did it as a way of making up for the help you weren’t able to give me.


1-5: Paul feared the church would not survive if it became a place of competition and striving, and so he pleads with the congregation at Philippi to be “united and [agree] with one another.” He tells them to put others first even as Christ had considered his own life to be forfeit for the good of all.

6-11: This is an early Christian hymn. Christ, though divine, willingly humbled himself as a frail human being who suffered and died. Early on, Christians saw the death of Jesus as a sacrifice that he willingly made on their behalf. Having done so, God raised him and put him over heaven and earth. Given this, every knee indeed should bend, and every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord.

12-13: Verse 12 is another of John Wesley’s favorite verses: “Work for your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We don’t save ourselves; only God can grant salvation. But God will not do so without our willing participation. Salvation does indeed depend on our acceptance of it; and to accept salvation is to accept Jesus Christ as “the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”

14-18: Paul asserts that his imprisonment and likely execution will not be in vain if they will only “cling to the word of life.”

19-24: He plans to send Timothy to them as soon as he knows the outcome of the charges under which he has been imprisoned, but hopes himself to be able to come to them as well. Verse 21, “all of them are putting their plans above Christ’s plans,” is an indication that Paul lost some support while he was in prison in Rome (see 2 Timothy 4:16).

25-30: In the meantime, he will also send Epaphroditus, who has been to Philippi at least once already (see 2 Timothy 4:18). Epaphroditus has been ill, he says, but has recovered, and longs to see them again.


A good question to ask ourselves in any situation is whether we are putting our own plans and desires above the Lord’s. Hopefully, our plans and God’s plans are the same. Or at least partly so. Otherwise, we should change our plans.