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philippians 2: 1-30
Joe Morecraft III
Jesus Christ carne not only to die for our sins, He
carne to preach and teach and bear witness to the gospel,
and in so doing to draw people to Himself as their Lord
and Savior. He was moved by an all-consuming desire
to glorify His Father and by a deep compassion for lost
sinners that moved him not only to want to reach them by
His words but to shed His own blood for them that they
might be saved from everything that was separating them
from God and life and joy. He had the world on His heart
and so He sacrificed Himself for the life of the world,
John 6:51, becoming obedient to the point of death, even
death on a cross, philippians 2:8, to purchase for God
with (His) blood people from every tribe and tongue and
people and nation, Revelation 5:9.
When Jesus saw multitudes of people lost in sin, He
felt compassion on them because they were like sheep
without a shepherd, Mark 6:34. He taught His disciples
that compassion ought to be extended to everybody,
even our enemies, Matthew 5:43-48, Luke 10:30-37.
The word compassion, splangna, literally refers to the
upper viscera: lungs, heart, liver, denoting warm tender
affections and concern. Jesus felt compassion when
He saw people distressed, oppressed, downcast, hurting,
hungry, ignorant, blind, leprous, demon-possessed, in
debt, grieving, guilt-ridden, abusing themselves. All
kinds of human suffering, physical and spiritual, caused
by human sin, drew out Jesus' compassion; and His
compassioh always moved Him to action, to do what He
could to relieve their need and to save them from sin and
all its consequences. For instance, when He saw a woman
grieving over her dead son, He did not wait for her to ask
for His help, He was moved in His great heart by her grief
to turn her darlmess into light and her sorrow into joy by
raising her son from the dead.
Because of His compassion for poor, lost sinners,
He carne to seeb and to save those who are lost, Luke
19:10. The Gospel of Luke especially highlights Christ's
compassion by pointing out that Jesus is concerned for lost
people, for little people, for people insignificant in the
eyes of the world, for women like Mary, Elizabeth, Anna,
Mary and Martha, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna,
the widow of N ain, the little elderly crippled woman, the
widow who gave all she had, the daughters of Jerusalem
who wept for Jesus as He went to the cross, for children,
for the poor, for the disreputable. And He told them this
parable saying, "What man among you, if he has a hundred
sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-
nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is
lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays
it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes horne,
he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to
them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which
was lost!' I tell you that in the same way, there will be
more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over
ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance,"
Lube 15:3-7.
In this way the life of Jesus Christ is the model for our
witness in this world: because of his compassion for sinners,
he totally consecrated Himself to the accomplishment of
their salvation. Christ's life was one of self-sacrificing
dedication to the salvation of sinners-The Son of Man
carne not to be served but to serve, and to give His life a
ransom for many, Marl, 10:45. That is what heart-felt
compassion does to a believer: it moves him or her to
become totally dedicated to the salvation of sinners, to
be consumed with the desire to be used by God to save
somebody from their sins, anybody! Our children! Our
neighbors! Our husband or wife! Our parents! Our family
members! Our fellow employees or students or teachers!
1. (Philippians 2:5-11) THE SUPREME MODEL OF
If you are to be effective in the spread of the gospel you
must live a Christlike life of love, putting the interests,
welfare and eternal destinies of others above your own
interests and welfare.
Rev. Joe Morecraft
Paul roots his appeal in four things: encouragement
in Christ through the apostolic word, the comfort of
mutual love and of Christ's love 'for us, fellowship in the
Holy Spirit, i.e., the believer's conscious experience of
the Spirit's indwelling and activity in his life and in the
church, and affectionate sympathy and deep feelings of
compassionate yearning and action grounded in the Lord's
sympathy for His church.
This fourfold appeal leads to a fourfold result in the
church: being likeminded, having the same love, being of
one accord, of one mind. Thus undesirable features in the
life of the church will be removed and unity and harmony
will prevail in an otherwise fragmented church unprepared
to be Christ's witness in this world. If evil tendencies and
divisions in the church are to be avoided, we must possess
lowliness of mind and humility toward God and each other,
the recognition of our total dependence upon Him and to
place the interests of others above our own interest. We
are not to be so preoccupied with our own concerns that
we fail to see the Christian virtues in others, avoiding on
the one hand pride in our own moral attainments, and on
the other hand, unmerciful fault-finding in the lives of
B. (Philippians 2:5) THE EXHORTATION TO
Let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus.
"Think about things the way Christ thinks about things.
Let your whole inner life be shaped and filled by those
ideas, thoughts, motives and priorities that fill the inner
life of Christ in His humanity. Love what He loves, hate
what He hates. Be as focused and as consumed and as
devoted as He was and is to the salvation of a world of
sinners from sin and death. Be willing to humble yourself
as Christ did and to sacrifice yourself as Christ did in
order to be used of God to save those who are lost. Be
one with Christ in the great work of salvation. Display in
your church fellowship in an unforgettable and convincing
manner that you share Christ's spirit and attitude and are
controlled by the pattern of self-effacement and humility
which His incarnation and cross supremely exemplify."-
Ralph Martin, PHILIPPIANS, Tyndale.
C. (Philippians 2:6-11) THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST
Jesus' entire life was one of self-sacrificing dev.otion
to the salvation of lost people. He humiliated Himself
for our salvation, 2:6-8, because it was required if He was
to bear away the full weight of sin and its consequences
from His people. God highly exalted Him so that He
could administer this accomplished salvation leading to
the whole world bowing before Him and confessing His
lordship, 2:9-11.
1. Christ existed in the form of God, i.e., He continued
in His existence from eternity to eternity. God's form
is that which m l ~ e s Him unique. In His Essence He is
incomparable. The point is that before and after His
incarnation, Christ is everything God is. To say that Christ
is in the form of God is to say that He was God before His
incarnation, remains God after His incarnation, and will
always be God throughout eternity. He who is in the form
of God is God and only God, in full possession of all of
God's perfections.
2. Christ did not regard equality with God a thing to
be grasped. This does not mean that Christ surrendered
equality with God when He became a man. Equality with
God does not refer to His essential equality with God,
but to His equality as far as His being publicly treated
and honored and praised as God's equal. Christ did not
consider this something to cling to, but He could and
did give it up to humiliate Himself to become a human
being for our salvation. For you know the grace of our
Lord Jesus, that though He was rich, yet for your sake
He became poor, so that you through His poverty might
become rich, II Corinthians 8:9. This speaks of a spirit
of pure unselfishness and self-sacrifice. This was the
state of mind that led Jesus to give up all this: simple,
selfless, self-sacrificing love.
3. Christ made Himself of no reputation. Some
translations have "he emptied himself," which expression
is not only the root from which most heresies regarding
the incarnation have grown, it is a mistranslation of the
Greek word, "ekenosen: (See Benjamin B. Warfield's
569.) In the four other instances when the word is used
in the NT, Rom. 4:14, I Cor. 1:17,9:15 and II Cor. 9:3,
"ekenosen" is used figuratively meaning "to make of no
account" or "to make of no reputation. If we translate
the word in phil. 2: 7 according to its usage in the NT,
the word here simply means that "Christ made Himself
of no account, of no reputation, not asserting His divine
prerogative, but took the form of a servant: The fact
that Christ took the form of a servant does not in any way
involve a laying aside of the form of God. And He did
this for our salvation.
4. Christ humbled or humiliated Himself. He humiliated
Himself by becoming subject to the demands and curses of
His own law and by being obedient His whole life on earth
to that law in all His thoughts, actions and suffering, even
to the very limit of the shameful death on the cross for
our salvation. The lowest point of His humiliation, His
death and burial, was at the same time the highest point
of His saving work along with His resurrection from the
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6. Christ became obedient unto death even the death of
the cross. This obedience is a certain evidence of His deity,
for only a divine being can accept death as obedience;
for ordinary men it is a necessity. As the obedient Son
of God, Christ chose death because of His love for the
Father's redeeming purpose and for the world which He
came to save. "His death is the outward and visible sign
of the inward and spiritual devotion to God's purpose
which had characterized His whole earthly life," (Martin,
p. 103), and of His dedication to saving poor lost sinners
who cannot save themselves and who not worthy of such
dedication. "The cross" is the most hideous and cruel
form of execution. But Christ voluntarily chose the cross
for our salvation. This sinless Savior endured the curse
of separation from God in the place of His people that
they might be reconciled to God and welcomed back into
fellowship with God on the basis of His atoning death.
Christ's self-sacrificing dedication to the salvation
of sinners is. our supreme model for life and mission and
witness. He calls us and empowers us to have as our goal
being as dedicated to saving people (individuals, families,
cultures) from sin as Jesus was.
D. (Philippians 2:12-13) THE POWER FOR
Our ability to follow Christ's example is from God
alone. The indwelling Spirit of Christ fully equips
and empowers us for doing God's will in life and in the
fellowship of the gospel. We work out in our daily lives
what the Spirit works in us: the will and the ability to do
what pleases God.
II. (Philippians 2: 14-16) THE SPECIFICS REQUIRED
Our mission, like Christ's, is -1:0 "shine like stars" in the
midst of a and depraved generation: (1). By living
as blameless and pure children of God, vs. 16; (2). By
holding out the word of life to this generation, vs. 16; and
(3). By giving this mission top priority in our lives, just
as Christ did, vs. 17.
A. (2: 14) In the life and mission of the church beware
of grumbling and disputing, i.e., rebellion against God as
Israel of the OT did in the Wilderness and dissensions
among the members of the church rooted in pride and
envy. Such petty rivalry reveals that those involved are
more concerned with themselves than they are with the
mission and glory of Christ.
B. (2:16) The Corinthian church is called upon to set
its own house in order so that God's mission for them as
a witnessing community, a fellowship of the gospel, may
be fulfilled. They must show themselves "irreproachable,
living a life at which no finger of criticism may be pointed"
p. 114) and simple, unmixed and pure with regard
to evil. In their character and conduct there must be no
evil blotch which could be criticized by an outsider and
there must be no non Christian trait in their lives by which
they have been contaminated by the world. Rather they
are to live and act as sons and daughters of the living God
in the midst of a and perverse generation, i.e., the
world surrounding the church in which the church lives
and witnesses is a society morally warped and spiritually
perverted. Yet we are to live and witness in the midst of
this world, "for it is only there that true Christian witness
can be borne and influence for Christ effectively exerted.
The church's influence as a witnessing community is
described in the language of the influence of light in a
dark place." - Martin, p. 116. We are to "light-bearers",
Matthew 6: 14-16. We are the light of the world in the
sense that we are the vessels in which THE Light of the
world shines forth, John 8: 12.
C. (2: 16) We are lights in this dark world only as we hold
fast and hold forth the word of life. We are "to remain
firm in (our) adherence to the trutll of the gospel, to hold
it fast as a torch-bearer would grasp securely the light
he carries, and to let no o]Jposition daunt (our) spirits. -
- Only as we firmly 'hold fast' to the gospel truth can we
effectively 'hold it forth.'" -Martin, p. 117. If we do not
hold fast and hold forth the word of God, on the final day
of judgment we will find that we have run the race of life
In vaIn.
III. (Philippians 2:17-18) THE MODEL OF THE
God has graciously given, us in the rest of this chapter,
three secondary models to help us see the exact nature
of our devotion to Christ, of true and our
participation in the spread of the gospel: Paul, Timothy
and Epaphroditus.
Paul's life was a joyful and continual pouring out
and sacrifice of himself in the advance of the gospel.
Everything was second to that. Paullqngs to be used of
God in the salvation and sanctification of sinners. At
the return of Christ, he does not want to have appeared
to have run and in vain. In fact, in this Paul's
most personal reference in the entire epistle, he sees the
probability of his martyrdom for Christ and the gospel.
He speaks of himself as being poured out as a drink
offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, and
yet his words about the pouring out of his life's blood on
the altar of sacrifice in the service of Christ are full of joy
Rev, Joe Morecraft
based on his glad submission to God's will for his life. He
wants his readers to share that joy in suffering for Christ
as a privilege not a burden.
To be pouted out as a drink offering denotes, in
sacrificial terms, a violent and bloody death. He compares
his life-blood shed in death to the libation of wine or
perfume which was poured out in the ... rites of a sacrifice
to a pagan deity: - Martin, p. 119.
However it was the philippians' faith that experienced
the sacrifice in behalf of Paul. Paul's sacrifice of himself
in their behalf would not have been complete without
the offering of their faith in their closeness with him
by their active financial support of his ministry of the
gospel. They proved the genuineness of their faith in
their sacrificial contributions to Paul in his ministry and
suffering. Therefore, because of the knowledge of the
philippians' sacrificial devotion to the spread of the gospel
and the salvation of the lost, and because of the privilege
of suffering for the sake of Christ and the salvation of
the lost, and the prospects of a martyr's crown, Paul is
full not of anxiety but of joy. As Ignatius prayed, "Grant
me nothing more than that I be poured out to God: For
Paul, to live is Christ and to die is gain, 1:21, "because
by it Christ is magnified and the gospel proclaimed:-
Martin, p. 121
A. (Philippians 1:19-26)
Paul glorifies Christ by being so devoted to Him and
to the spreading of His gospel that he is willing to go to
any length to please Him and to advance His kingdom-
whether life or death. Paul summarized his entire life
in one word-Christ. He was the source, goal, content,
sustenance, motive and joy of his life. Without Him life
meant nothing. Is there anything in your life that you
desire with a greater intensity than to know Christ and to
serve Him?
B. (I Corinthians 9:16-23) For if I preach the gospel,
I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion;
for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For if I do
this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will,
I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my
reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the
gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my
right in the gospel. For though I am free from all men, I
have made myself a slave to all, that I miiht win the more.
And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I miiht win Iews:
to those who are under the Law as under the Law, though
not being myself under the law, that I might win those
who are under the law; to those who are without the law,
as without law, though not being without the law of God
but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who
are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might
win the weak; I have become all things to all men. that I
may by all means save some. And I do all things for the
sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of
it. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run,
but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that
you may win.
IV. (Philippians 2:19-24) THE MODEL OF
A. (2:19-20)
Paul tells the philippian church that he intends to send
Timothy to them so that Paul can be encouraged about the
true condition of the church. He sends Timothy as his
trusted friend, companion and representative.
Paul sends Timothy because he can trust Timothy,
because I have no one else of kindred spirit who will
genuinely be concerned for your welfare. "I have no one
else who is heart and soul with me. He has a genuine and
anxious concern for your spiritual condition: Others
are anxious about their own welfare, Timothy's anxiety
was for the welfare of others. His large heart was truly
burdened with the burdens of others.
B. (2:21)
There was no other person that Paul could count on at
this point in time but Timothy, for they all seek after their
own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. " ... in a world of
selfishness and self-seeking, Mat. 6:32, it is such a rare
thing to find a man like Timothy who is really anxious to
promote the welfare of other people, and to give himself
to a fatiguing journey and to the resolving of personal
quarrels in the philippian church: - Martin, p. 125.
C. (2:22-24)
Paul reminds the philippians that they are fully aware
of Timothy's proven worth that he served with me in the
furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.
"You know that Timothy has stood the test and shown
himself to be a man of sound character and worthiness. n_
Martin, p. 126. Paul loves him as his beloved and faithful
child in the Lord, I Cor. 4:17. He and Timothy both
served as slaves of Christ in the extension of the gospel.
V. (Philippians 2:25-30) THE MODEL OF
A. (2:25)
Paul also informs the philippians that he is also
sending Epaphroditus to them to minister to them in
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Paul's absence. He recommends him highly to them as my
brother, i.e., fellow believer in Christ, my fellow worker,
i.e., fellow worker in the cause of Christ and the gospel,
my fellow soldier, i.e., my comrade in arms in conflict
and persecution for the sake of the gospel, who is also
your messenger and minister to my need. He is a true
servant, "leitourgos," who offers his daily life and calling
as a "liturgy" to God for the benefit of the church.
B. (2:26-27)
Paul is sending Epaphroditus because he was longing
for you all and was distressed because you had heard that
he was sick. He had an ardent desire to the point of
agony to minister to the spiritual wellbeing of the church
at philippi. The word, "epipothon," translated "longing,"
is the same word used of Jesus' "agony" in Gethsemane,
Mat. 26:37, and denotes "great and painful mental
and spiritual agony: He had such compassion for the
philippian Christians that he was greatly distressed when
he found out that they were concerned about him because
he was sick. His yearning for the church in philippi "as a
persecuted community, takes his yearning for his fellow-
believers as a sign of his desire to aid them in their struggle
against the enemies of the gospel."- Martin, p. 131.
Although Paul reassures the philippians that his sickness
is over by the mercy of God, his sickness was serious-he
was sick to the point of death. A similar phrase is used
in vs 30 which is used of Christ's death on the cross in
2:8-obedient to the point of death, but unlike Christ,
Epaphroditus' life was spared-God had mercy on him.
And Paul rejoices in this for death would
have added grief to his imprisonment.
C. (2:28-30)
Epaphroditus is to be welcomed in the Lord with all
gladness, i.e., "with unalloyed joy which characterizes a
welcome in the church of Christ." -Martin, p. 132. He is
to be welcolTled and highly valued because of his sterling
Christlike character and his total devotion to the cause
of the gospel-receive him in the Lord with all joy and
hold men like him in high regard. Why? Because he came
close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to
complete what was deficient in your service to me. He
hazarded his life and exposed himself to great danger, not
loving his life unto death, in the advance of the gospel
of Christ. "Paraboleusamenos" "is a gambling term.
Epaphroditus staked his life for the service of Christ in
the interest of the apostle and on behalf of the philippi an
community whose lack of help was unavoidable since they
were many miles away." - Martin, p. 134.
Such a word brings its own challenge and rebuke to an easy-
going Christianity which no stern demands, and calls for
no limits of self-denying, self-effacing sacrifice. Here is a man
who gave little thought to personal comfort or safety in order to
discharge his responsibility.- Martin, p. 134.
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