READ PHILIPPIANS ONE
Having concluded his prayer, Paul’s letter to his friends in Philippi changes tone as he gives them an update on his current situation. When read New Testament letters, we sometimes have to “read between the lines” to understand the situation of the letter.
Read Phil. 1:12-18. From these verses what seems to be going on at the time of Paul’s writing? Look back at your Book Overview study if needed.
Paul has been put in prison for preaching the Gospel, and he is likely writing from within the walls of a prison cell. But, even in prison he continues to preach the good news concerning Jesus Christ – such that the entire guard keeping watch over his cell is well aware that he is only in prison because he proclaims the name of Jesus.
What is the result Paul mentions? (vs 14)
How could Paul’s imprisonment lead to greater confidence in other believers?
Paul’s chains have given boldness to other believers. In a seemingly ironic way, that Paul was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel has given other Christians – even those similarly at risk of being thrown in jail for their preaching – a greater confidence to teach others about Christ.
But … this is not the only way people responded to Paul’s imprisonment. Paul also mentions another group that has responded to the news that he is in jail for his preaching. What does Paul say about this group?
There are some Christians in Rome (where Paul is imprisoned) who are rivalrous with Paul in their preaching ministry. They preach the Gospel out of a place of envy for Paul’s ministry and, perhaps, platform. And, as he is in prison, they continue preaching the Gospel boldly thinking that word of their powerful preaching will somehow get back to Paul and it will afflict him while he is in prison.
Have you ever experienced this kind of jealousy within the church context? Do you know of preachers who are competitive with others?
Have you ever been jealous of someone’s ministry or envious of the platform the Lord gave them?
This kind of jealousy and competition is something many of us are used to seeing in our own church communities, and it certainly doesn’t show the “fruits of righteousness” that Paul references only a few verses earlier. But, even when we see competition like this, might our response be similar to Paul’s: “Christ is proclaimed, and in that I will rejoice!”
Is it ever hard for you to rejoice in when you see others preaching the Gospel from a platform bigger than your own?
How can you ask the Lord to change your heart in this area?
PRAY & REFLECT
Talk to the Lord about any jealousy in your heart towards other believers. Confess your sin to Him and ask Him to give you a heart that rejoices in the preaching of His Word, like Paul’s own rejoicing. Spend some time praying for your local community of churches to be united in the Gospel.