Saturday, September 20, 2008

Explanatory Notes: Philippians 2:14-18

2:14 Be doing everything without grumbling or disputing,
Part of being of one mind and having an attitude like Christ's is to live together as Christians without grumbling or disputing. Paul has just told them to work out their salvation together with a deep awareness of the seriousness of the task. Disputing with each other or with leadership or grumbling about them is not helpful in moving toward the goal, nor does it reflect the proper gravitas for such a serious matter.

2:15 ... so that you might be blameless and spotless, children of God without fault in the middle of a crooked and twisted generation,
Further, grumbling and disputing makes the community of faith look like the crooked and twisted generation outside the church. The church is to look different, not least as a unified and loving community toward one another.

We once again note that Paul has no sense whatsoever of the church as a community of sinners in general. Galatians 2:17 looks primarily to individual Jews in relation to the Jewish Law, not to the inability of believers to live above the impulses of the flesh or the community as a whole to be pure. Both in Galatians (5:16) and throughout his writings Paul affirms not only the possibility but the essential need for believers to be "blameless and spotless" on the Day of Christ, "without fault." In this passage, unity and the absence of grumbling and disputing are in view.

2:16 ... among whom you are shining like stars in the world, holding on to the word of life, [which will be] boasting for me on the day of Christ, because I have not run in vain nor labored in vain.
Paul expects that believers will be noticeable in the difference between them and the world around them. The world around them is "crooked and twisted" while they "shine like stars" and are "blameless and spotless." Again, he is talking about not grumbling and disputing among each other and looking out for each other's interests and being of one mind and having the mind that was in Messiah Jesus. These are concrete, observable features of the Christian community that Paul expects to be in place.

On the Day of Christ, the honor of the Philippian community before God will be honor for Paul as well. It will show that Paul's labors bore fruit. In one dating of Galatians, Paul has recently written it from Ephesus. On this hypothesis, it is interesting to note there that he is afraid he had run in vain in relation to them (Gal. 4:11).

We note that Paul considers it okay to boast in this type of thing. In other places he indicates things he should not boast about. Boasting about works of (Jewish) Law are excluded in Romans 3:27. In Galatians 6:14 he says he should only boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ rather than things like whether the Galatians get circumcised.

2:17 But if I am poured out on the sacrifice and ministry of your faith, I rejoice and I rejoice together with you all.
Paul now compares himself to a drink offering, something he does in Romans 15:16 as well in relation to his ministry to the Gentiles as well. If he writes Philippians from Ephesus, then Romans was written perhaps less than a year later. He is thinking of his sufferings as a kind of sacrifice that furthers the faith of the Philippians and the Gentiles in general. His sufferings thus, as he had said, are not a hindrance to the gospel, but a help and celebration of its advancement.

2:18 And you are rejoicing in the same way and you rejoice together with me.
And Paul implicitly urges the Philippians to rejoice together with him that the gospel is being advanced, even if it means some suffering for him at the moment.

1 comment:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Question, (and I'm being pendantic in asking, I hope)..If we are to be "one" as in a marital relationship in Church, then how is one to have any trust where they have no "say at all" about their life? Is it that leadership makes their plans and we are "on board" or "get off board".....I cannot trust another in an absolute sense, where it concerns my very life. That is cultish, for it does not approve of the individual's reason.It is trust and obey leadership, no matter what they ask or require? I don't believe so...How do I understand?