2 October 2014

Philippians 1:18b-30

“Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (v. 27)


In today's passage we turn from Paul's concern for the people in the local church community to a concern for his own situation. It seems clear that the prison sentence he is undergoing is not just a temporary separation from the world but is much more serious, a probably a life sentence. His words take us to the situation of Job in the Hebrew Scriptures: when he was facing the crisis in his health Job declares that "issue of it all will be my salvation" (Job 13:16). Job was only concerned that he should keep faithful to his cause despite the crisis he finds himself in.

Paul alludes to those words of Job in his present situation: the issue for him was not whether he lived or he died but only that he should not be ashamed, and whichever way human judgement happened in his case, the truth of Christ should continue to be proclaimed and shine out through his witness. It would seem that he had no fear of dying, despite the fact that the event would lead to him coming to God's judgement. His main concern seemed to be that he would come into an even closer relationship with Christ than he has already had, and for that he was thankful. He does however seem to feel that he had an obligation to stand by his churches, and thus he desired to be spared the fate of a death sentence to be freed to continue to work with them.

The letter then turns into something of a sermon, which might have the heading 'let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ'. The last verses of chapter one give the introduction to this sermon, reminding his readers to stand firm in the one spirit whilst they wait to see whether he is able to come to them. They are to live their lives with courage, taking any suffering that might come their way as a way in which they too can suffer for Christ in the same way as he suffered for them.

The sermon continues into chapter two and we will come to that tomorrow.

To Ponder

  • What is your reaction when you are faced with seemingly insurmountable situations? To what extent are you able to see the situation as a test which will lead to 'my salvation'?
  • Do you consider that the way in which you deal with crisis in your life will enable others to deepen their faith? Why? Or why not?
  • Do you always stand firm when faced with the issues of the secular world, or are you inclined to compromise your faith for the sake of popularity?

Bible notes author

The Revd Pat Billsborrow

Pat Billsborrow is a supernumerary minister in the Northwich and Winsford Circuit, and is at present part of a district ministry team working within that circuit with pastoral care of four churches. She is ecumenical officer in the Cheshire part of the Chester and Stoke on Trent Methodist District.