Friday, September 14, 2012

Philippians 1

I'll start by linking to the wikipedia page. Apparently there is pretty wide agreement that this was actually written by Paul, unlike Ephesians which apparently many suspect was a forgery. There is apparently general agreement that it was written around 62A.D., although some argue it could be as early at 50. Not the type of details I typically focus on, but interesting nonetheless.

Greeting (v. 1-2)

Not much here, just a greeting. It does mention Timothy as well as Paul. I'm guessing that means that when Paul visited the Philippians, Timothy was with him as well. Not sure if this matters much but it seems like something to keep an eye on.

Thanksgiving and Prayer (v. 3-11)

Basically Paul has a bunch of good stuff to say about the Philippians. He thanks God for his time with them, he mentions them in his prayers. He basically wishes good things for them, he says their love should abound, he says he hopes they are blameless for the day of Christ, which I think means he wants them to get into heaven. There are a few good verses there that would work well in one of those inspirational posters. I suppose there are a couple options that would be good for my summary, I'll focus on 9 I guess.

Something I found interesting was he mentioned his imprisonment. It doesn't sound like he was imprisoned by the Philippians, it sounds more like he was either thinking of them for strength while he was imprisoned, or maybe he was imprisoned with him.

The Advance of the Gospel (v. 12-18)

Paul has been put in prison and it has resulted in the gospel being spread. Some preach from good will out of love for me. But other preach from envy and rivalry intending to inflict me in my imprisonment. Whether in pretense or in truth, I am happy that Christ is being proclaimed.

So basically the ends justify the means. All he cares about is that Jesus is being talked about, he doesn't care by who or how. You have to expect that if someone is preaching about Jesus our of rivalry, he is probably doing it an manner that Paul wouldn't like. But all that matters is the bottom line. Jesus is being talked about so he's happy. When someone is arguing for a position I agree with but their logic is terrible it drives me crazy.

I suppose a counter-argument here could be that he is just looking at the bright side. "At least Jesus is being talked about". But I would think Jesus being talked about in a false manner would be worse than him not being talked about at all. Isn't silence preferable to the spreading of lies?

To Live Is Christ (v. 19-30)

Paul is hoping for deliverance (he must be writing this letter from prison). If he lives he will be of great help to the Philippians, but part of him would rather die and be with Jesus. Since living will be of great service to many people, he is sure Jesus will help him through. He instructs those reading to live a worthy life whether or not he returns.

There are a few things in this section that jumped out at me, both good and bad. One thing is that he is putting the good of someone else above his own wishes, that is certainly a good thing. On the other hand, his desire that he is overcoming is a wish to die and be with Jesus. This is a danger of preaching a paradise after death, if you are going through hard times, why not just hope to die and be in a better place? If that possibility isn't in your mind I think you'd be more apt to focus your attention on making your situation better. To be fair, in this instance he is in prison so there are probably not a whole lot of opportunities for him to make things better for himself, but this impulse is a danger outside of this particular situation.

The wishful thinking also bothers me a little bit. He thinks Jesus would want him to get out of prison and help these people, so he's just convinced it will happen. Again, he's in prison so there's probably not a whole lot he can do, but this mentality in everyday life could keep people from being proactive about improving their lives. "If Jesus wants this for me he'll make it happen." How many times have you heard statements along those lines? 

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation) 


1:9 Encourage good things for other people

1:24-25 Put other's needs above your own


1:18 The bottom line is all that matters

1:23 Death is better than life, I wish I was dead

1:24-25 Wishful thinking


  1. Your comment about wishing to die and be with Jesus rather than continuing to live through tough times is quite interesting. My grandmother is in her 90's and is in pretty poor physical condition--lots of pain. She made that comment the other day. She mentioned that she would rather die and be with Jesus than to have to live much longer in her current condition.

    As I am only 37, I can't imagine what it must be like to live in constant arthritis pain that prevents her from moving around. I was struck the absurdity of her statement though. I hope that if I find myself in that condition in the future, I take the time to enjoy the good around me every day. I feel bad that she is ignoring all of that and focusing on a fairy tale of better things to come.

    1. That is interesting. When I was writing that, I was more thinking of the teenage angst side of things. When I was in high school I pretty much hated life and I definitely remember thinking it would be better to be dead and in heaven (I was never suicidal or anything, but I did waste a lot of energy wishing I was in heaven). Apart from a teenager, maybe a middle aged person in a shitty situation, maybe a bad marriage, or maybe no real relationships and lonely. These are all situations that are transient and could be made better with a bit of effort.

      The whole, end of life, constant huge amount of pain that will never get better adds a new wrinkle to this that I had never considered. I guess it depends on how bad it really is. I could imagine a situation where I was in constant pain and wanting to kill myself, and I think I should be able to make that choice for myself. But I don't like the idea of going into such a decision thinking I'm going to go see Jesus.


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