Philippians 2:1-2 The Philippian Believers were strong in their faith and filled with a desire to advance the Good News. A strong congregation is interested beginning many programs for outreach. Because of this, there is always the danger of differences of opinion: differences in vision, concern, emphasis, and interests. That is why called them to give great attention to unity.
Paul knew that he had to put the Philippian church on guard to protect itself against disunity and division. He speaks in Philippians 2:1 of the trait of consolation which in the present context means encouragement, comfort, exhortation, and strengthening. This trait is a characteristic of Yeshua Himself. The ministry of His Spirit is to encourage, comfort, and strengthen believers to be one in spirit and busy about the ministry.
As our fathers learned (or not) in the wilderness God wants no murmuring, grumbling, or weakening of the unity within His people. This is underscored in Philippians 2:2 where we are told to “Be likeminded” like Yeshua: console, comfort, encourage, exhort, and strengthen each other. Then Paul speaks of the comfort of love that is in Messiah. His love stirs a person to keep the unity with other believers.
The word “love” here is agapē, the love that is selfless and sacrificial. It is the love of the mind, reason, and will. It is love for a person even if they do not deserve to be loved. It is the love of Messiah which He showed when He sacrificed Himself for us. We did not deserve it and were unworthy of such love, yet He loved us despite all.
When we have this kind of love there is no bitterness, anger, no action that would hurt another person (John 13:34-35). Paul also speaks of the fellowship in the Spirit. When a person comes to true faith in Yeshua God’s Spirit enters the heart and life to comfort, guide, teach, equip, and use him as a witness for Messiah.
He also creates a spiritual union between the new believer and other believers. They have a joint life sharing their blessings, needs and gifts together all focused on the Lord and His purposes. The mind of the Holy Spirit is set on unity and fellowship centered on Yeshua and His mission.
He also speaks of tenderness and compassion. Compassion is the trait that stirred the Lord to reach out for us time and time again even when we were in rebellion and opposed to Him. Think how many would have already been reconciled back into fellowship if we had been compassionate and gone after them.
Just think how much less trouble would have happened if we reached out in compassion when a difference first appeared. We are to have the compassion of Yeshua flow in and through us. (Isaiah 63:9;Romans 15:1;Galatians 6:2). In Philippians 2:2 Paul speak of trait of joy. Nothing brings joy to a congregation quicker than unity. Joy is always disturbed when there is criticism, dissatisfaction, grumbling, murmuring, cliques, and other divisive negatives.
We are to worship, plan, organize, program, build, staff, and serve in the joy of Messiah. But the only way we can do that is by being likeminded, having love for each other and being of one mind and accord. This comes only as we are fixed on Messiah, abiding in Him and yielded to Him and His Spirit (Romans 14:17;1 Corinthians 1:10;Ephesians 4:3).
Philippians 2:3-4 An active and growing congregation will always have two problems selfish ambition and vain conceit. There is always the danger that people work not to advance the Kingdom but to advance themselves in their pursuit of the Kingdom.
Selfishness is the root of every other sin. It was by placing his will above God’s that Satan fell (Isaiah 14:12-17), and it was by placing their own wills above God’s that Adam and Eve first brought sin into the world. Self-will has been at the heart of every subsequent sin.
Some people are going to strive with others if they do not get their way or what they want. The result is disunity and divisiveness, one of the most terrible sins within the church to God. When Satan realized that he could not defeat and crush the church he joined it (Matthew 13:24ff).
Selfish ambition is often clothed in religious language by those who are convinced of their vision in advancing God’s work. Probably the classic congregation where this was a major problem was the congregation in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:10-13;3:4-6). The factions were claiming to follow faithful leaders who were worthy of respect and esteem; But their loyalty was not to them or even the Lord but rather to themselves.
Each of the groups was self-serving using the name of Yeshua and others to further their agendas. Selfish ambition is a clear mark of the actions of the flesh or sinful nature (Galatians 5:19-20;James 3:16). Paul counsels the Philippians to avoid selfish ambition and empty conceit. Selfish ambition pursues personal goals, while empty conceit seeks personal fame and acclaim.
This is a person who considers himself always to be right and expects others to agree with him. It is what Paul warned the Gentile Believers to be careful of avoiding in the church at Rome when he told them not to be “wise in your own estimation” (Romans 11:25).
The ancient Greeks had an expression for it hubris which Paul used in Romans 1:30 and is translated “insolent”. The way spiritual unity is fostered Paul teaches is by being humble.
The first of beatitudes is a synonym of humility being “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). This is the opposite of pride and greatly esteemed in the Tenach (Proverbs 11:2;16:19). Zechariah used it as an identifying mark of the Messiah (Zechariah 9:9). God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5-6).
This is best overcome as Paul writes by considering others as better than ourselves. This comes as we consider our own hearts which we know far better than someone else’s.
When we truly recognize our own sinful hearts this keeps us from lifting ourselves above others. We are called to submit ourselves one to another (Ephesians 5:21). Spiritual unity is further fostered when we follow the advice of Philippians 2:4. Our natural way of thinking is that the more we can get for ourselves the happier we’ll be. But God’s word tells us just the opposite is true. If you want to be great, you’ve got to be the last. If you want to get everything you want, you’ve got to be willing to put others first.
Philippians 2:5-6 Yeshua is the best example of humility. This verse begins one of the greatest passages ever written about Yeshua. It tells us that Yeshua is God, yet He humbled Himself and became Man. Jesus dwelt in Heaven in perfection, but He humbled Himself and came to this world that is filled with selfishness, greed and death. What a tremendous step down Yeshua had to take to become a Man.
This is what He did and what we are called to do as well. The only way the problems of the world can be solved is for every person to let the mind of Yeshua become his mind. We are to let the mind of humility and lowliness become our mind. It is only by humbling ourselves as Yeshua did that we can become part of the solution instead of the problem.
Look at the mind of Christ. Yeshua is of the very nature of God. This means that Yeshua was not like God; He is God. He did not just achieve a high level of righteousness when on earth; He was the essence of righteousness. Yeshua did not become God when on earth, He has been God throughout all eternity.
Yeshua is God; He is the very being of God (John 1:1,14). The word nature in the original language is morphē and is better translated “form”. It points to the reality that Yeshua is the very essence of God who is unchangeable. Barclay in his commentary points out that there is another Greek word translated “form” (schema). In contrast, it means the fleeting, outward form of a person that is always changing. Like the God, Yeshua never changes (Malachi 3:6;Hebrews 13:8).
Philippians 2:7-8 This is one of the most amazing truth’s of Scripture, the kenosis as it is called in the Greek. Kenosis means “emptying” Messiah emptied Himself of His glory and power and humbled Himself by taking on human form. We need to remember that the context for this statement is the subject of humility.
The fact is that Yeshua took one great step down from heaven to earth. The Sovereign Lord of the universe who existed in eternity and perfection, in glory and majesty, in dominion and power, stepped down and became a man. He who was the Lord and Master of the universe who deserved honor and the loyalty and service of all living beings became a servant not only of God, but the servant of men.
The Lord whom we are to serve, came and served us. The Lord whom we are to love, came and loved us. The Lord whom we are to seek, came and sought us. The God who redeemed us in Egypt and gave to us His holy laws embodied those Laws and showed us how they were to be lived out.
The Torah, the writings and the prophets display our father’s rebellion against God. But it also shows us God’s persistent pursuit of Israel to experience intimacy with Him. He chose Israel to be the object of His affection and love. Israel was to be his bride that He might show the world His great love and tenderness.
But sadly Israel rejected His love and care and was not interested in being faithful to her Husband. She kept wandering away and pursuing other lovers as Hosea so beautifully described. Whether God treated her with tenderness or stern discipline His bride continued to rebel against Him. Israel was a picture of a universal truth, man will not seek after God and do all he can to avoid Him.
At the close of the Tenach, God speaks to Israel using the language of wounded lover, and then He is silent, at least through His Word for 400 years. Then Johannan appears calling Israel to repentance and immersion and preparing the way for the Messiah. The Torah laid down God’s precepts and a study of the outworking of Israel’s history coupled with the wisdom of the Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes along with the prophets helps us to understand the reasons, wisdom and principles behind God’s Law.
They were all given that we might begin to comprehend the nature of God. But we still found it difficult to understand God and misinterpreted His character. Either we would be too liberal or too legalistic. In Hebrews 1:1-3 we learn why God sent His Son; to display His character.
In Hebrews 8:6-13 we learn that He came also to bring a New Covenant which would bring a new level of intimacy. The Kenosis is an integral part of bringing Israel and the nations into that relationship with God so that through the Person of Yeshua we could understand the Principles of Torah and obey its Precepts in a New and Living way.
Yeshua made Himself nothing according to the NIV or emptied Himself according to the NASB. According to one commentator it is a picture of pouring water out of a glass until it is empty, which shows us just how far Messiah went in humbling Himself for us. What was it that was poured or emptied out of Yeshua when He left heaven and came to earth?
Scriptures give us some idea. First Yeshua did not lay aside His deity when He came to earth. He could not cease to be who He was: God. No one can ever cease to be who they are but we can take on different traits and behave differently; we can change our behavior and as extreme makeovers tell us we can change our looks, but we still are the same people, and essence. Similarly Yeshua is God; and He is always God (John 1:1-2).
But Yeshua laid aside some of His rights as God. He laid aside His right to experience continual glory, honor and worship. He laid aside His right to dwell only in heaven and to appear only as the Sovereign God of heaven. In coming to earth as a man, He appeared as a man on earth (John 17:5).
Yeshua, Scripture tells us “was made in the likeness of men.” The Greek word means to become; and is speaks of a period of time and not a permanent state. Yeshua became a man, but it was not permanently. Philippians 2:8 tells us that he humbled Himself to the point of death “even the death of the cross.”
Yeshua humbled Himself to the Father and was obedient to God the Father. He was not only the second Adam but the second Israel. He was a perfect son and modeled for us the way. It was the Father’s will for Yeshua to come to earth and to die for the sins of men. And He did it; He obeyed God the Father (John 10:18;14:31;Romans 5:19;Hebrews 10:9).
He humbled Himself to men. He willingly allowed men to kill Him. He didn’t have to bear such hostile treatment, but He did to model true humility. In His humiliation on the cross He became sin embracing all the sin of man, past present and future (2 Corinthians 5:21;Hebrews 2:9;1 Peter 2:24;3:18).
Again we need to remember the point of this passage is the call to be humble and our model is Yeshua. We are to be humble to walk in humility before each other so that we as Believers can be unified. There is to be no discordance among us.
When we consider the humility of Yeshua it calls us to put away divisiveness, grumbling and complaining, jealousy and selfish ambition, and not think ourselves better than others. We need to let His humility flow in and through us.
Philippians 2:9-11 His humility was done in obedience to the Father and His obedience was rewarded. It resulted in His exaltation. The point is made that God will reward and honor any believer who will walk as Yeshua walked, humbly before Him and men (Isaiah 66:2;Matthew 18:4;Luke 22:26;James 4:6;1 Peter 5-6).
God has given Yeshua a name above every name it is in His name that sins are forgiven (Luke 24:47) and in His name that we access into God’s presence (John 16:23-24). God has given Yeshua all power and authority so that every knee will bow before Him all will be subject to Him (Isaiah 45:22-23;Ephesians 1:22;1 Peter 3:22). All will worship Him as Lord (Romans 14:11,Revelation 5:12;15:4).
Philippians 2:12-13 Paul has just shown us Yeshua as our great example in learning humility and servant-hood. We read it, and we agree with it, but how do we go about practicing it? In Philippians 2:13 we are told that God who is at work within us can empower us to do what we cannot do ourselves. It is by Messiah living in us that we can do all things (Galatians 2:20;Philippians 4:13), and by abiding in Him John 15:1-5.
We cultivate the submissive mind by responding to the divine provisions God makes available to us. Working out our salvation means working to full completion, like working out a problem in math or working a field so as to get the greatest harvest possible.
The work God wants us to achieve is Messiah likeness, “to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). Most of us want to know what God’s will is for our lives well it is spelled out quite clearly in Scripture (1 Thessalonians 4:3) For this is the will of God, your sanctification.
Philippians 2:14-18 Here Paul contrasts believers with unbelievers. Worldly people complain but God’s people have contentment in all things. One of the ways that we work out our salvation is by not murmuring, disputing or arguing. The word “complaining” means in the original language to mutter, murmur, grumble, and complain.
It is the kind of criticism, dissatisfaction, fault-finding and gossip that goes on within small groups or cliques. Murmurings, unless they are stopped, will lead to disputes, turmoil, and divisiveness. Murmuring and disputes re never of God. These were the very sins that brought judgment on our fathers in the wilderness (2 Timothy 2:24). We are not to retreat from the world but are called to live in it.
It is only as we are confronted with the needs and problems of real life that we can begin to become more like Yeshua. The Pharisees separated themselves so completely that they were unable to minister to the very people they were called to care for. It is not by leaving the world but by ministering to it that we see God’s purpose fulfilled in our lives.
Believers are to work out their salvation by “Holding forth the word of life.” We have words of life. The Messiah came to bring life both now and forever. It’s like saying the cure for cancer has been discovered with one difference: the Word of life not only cures the cancer; it brings the energy of everlasting life into the other cells of the body. Sadly we don’t share the Words of life. We hold back (Exodus 15:23ff;John 5:24;10:10). Philippians 2:17-18 furthermore we work out our salvation by following the example of sacrificial service. Paul offered himself as a sacrifice to serve others (Romans 12:1-2;1 Corinthians 6:20).
Philippians 2:19-20 In this section we learn of Timothy, who because of his Jewish mother was an effective testimony to both Jews and Gentiles. Timothy willingly served in second place. Paul as he writes this letter is in prison because of his faith and through the persecution by the leadership of the Jewish community in Jerusalem.
He concerned about the Philippian believers wanting to how they are doing and is concerned for their growth in the Lord. Since his is in prison and can’t be with them personally he plans to send his faithful companion and co-worker, Timothy, to them.
Both Paul and Timothy have concern for the believers in Philippi. Serving in second place is a privilege. The second man not only leads those under his responsibility, but he also contributes to the life and ministry of the one he serves under. Timothy had a spirit like the Lord in caring for others (Jeremiah 3:15).
Philippians 2:21-24 Timothy was willing to deny himself unlike most that we come in contact with even congregational and spiritual leaders. Timothy did not seek his own things. He denied himself. He had not fallen into the trap of so many (Ezekiel 33:31).
Timothy was willing to be a disciple and servant to Paul and others. Paul recruited Timothy to work with him as one of his disciples and partner on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-3). Timothy was with Paul in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Corinth, Ephesus and even served while he was in prison in Rome (Colossians 1:1;Philippians 1:1;Hebrews 13:23).
Philippians 2:25-30 when the Philippian Believers heard that Paul was in prison, and that he was having an extremely difficult time. Their hearts went out to him, so they decided to take up an offering to meet Paul’s needs and to send one of them who would stay and help him.
The man had to have great courage because by associating with someone facing the death penalty could make him vulnerable to the charge of being an accomplice he really was risking his life to help Paul. Epaphroditus was chosen to be that man. While there, Epaphroditus became very ill and came close to death. There was great worry by all over his condition.
But God spared him, and after gaining his strength, Paul felt that Epaphroditus should return to Philippi, either to keep this illness from recurring or to eliminate the possibility of his being arrested. On his return there was a concern that some would call him a quitter or a coward. Paul writes the Philippians that this was not the case at all. In writing the Believers in Philippi Paul wanted them to know some things about him.
First, that he was and acted as a brother in the faith. That he was a true companion serving side by side with Paul. That he was a fellow soldier despite the danger and his poor health he endured. (2 Timothy 2:3-4). That he was a very special minister. The word Paul uses here in the Greek was a word used only of great men.
It was a title given to great philanthropists who loved their city or some work that they gave huge sums of money to support it. In saying this Paul is saying he gave much and was not a quitter or a coward. Paul was sending Epaphroditus back to them, probably with this letter, and the brethren was to honor him for his faithfulness.
He was returning because Paul was sending him back, not because he was choosing to return. His example was one of self-denial and sacrifice giving little thought to his personal comfort and safety and like Timothy serves as an example for us.