Philippians Chapter 1:12-26 Sunday School Notes

These are some of my notes for Sunday, March 13, 2011 in the Lifeway Explore the Bible series. Books consulted in making these notes include:

Peter O’Brien NIGTC:Philippians

Frank Thielman: NIVAC:Philippians

Moises Silva:BECNT:Philippians

J. Harold Greenlee: Exegetical Summary of Philippians, 2nd Edition

NET Bible

Phil 1:12
‘I want you to know’?
This is a phrase common to letters of that time, called a disclosure form and like phrases used by Paul in other epistles. (Thielman, OBrien)

The phrase ta kat eme ‘things about me’ is another common Greek phrase in ancient letters, used to speak of a person’s
situation. What does it refer to here?

1. It refers to Paul’s imprisonment in a general sense. Or

2. It refers to new recent happenings regarding Paul’s imprisonment and trial.

3. Or it might refer to Paul’s tactic of revealing his Roman citizenship(ESP, Obrien)

Greek mallon “rather, has actually resulted”. Expresses the idea of “contrary to logical expectation”(ESP)

Phil 1:14

Many/most: Greek pleionas, a form of polus “majority, most”. This implies as always there were some Christians who didn’t witness, but the greater part of Rome’s church (if it was Rome 61-3 AD and not Epheseus 55 AD or Caesarea 58 AD that Paul was writing from) gained new courage to publicly witness to their faith. (NET, CSB)

in the Lord: This in the Greek can be taken with either “the brothers” or “trusting”, as an examination of the various translations will show. The trusting option is perhaps better because because Paul tends to add “in X” when he speaks of trusting(Rom 14:24, Gal 5:10, Phil 2:24, 3:3-4, 2 Thess 3:14), and adding “in Christ” to brothers seems redundant. (Silva, OBrien)

by my bonds/from my imprisonment: The Roman Christians were made bold by Paul’s example, his joy and confidence while arrested, and his unceasing witness to Christ at every opportunity.

Phil 1:15
Some preach out of envy (Greek pthonos, a envy more concerned with hurting the other fellow than simply gaining what he has) and strife(Greek eris, one of the classical vices, and a goddess as well)(OBrien)

The some could be:

1. A separate group of Christians than those in 1:14, Judaizers, heretics, or just enenies of Paul. Since their preaching is not deemed false, only insincere, these seem unlikely candidates.

2. Members included in 1:14 who nevertheless are somehow opposed to Paul, though doctrinally orthodox.(ESP, OBrien)

Of what are they envious? Paul’s success among Christians, plainly.

What is the strife? Their opposition to Paul, presumably intended to cause discord among Roman Christians.

To what is the “good will” directed? Paul, or the work of the gospel.

Obrien suggests that goodwill is more often used in the Bible and among Jews to express divine approval, so he suggests the goodwill preachers love Paul and se the divine approval of his ministry, despite his imprisonment. (OBrien)

Phil 1:16-17

many later Greek manuscripts reverse the order of v. 16-17, and these sorts of manuscripts underlie the KJV. Most of our earliest manuscripts order the verses like the HCSB and most modern translations. The change in the order was presumably made to make 16-17 match the order of the groups in v.15, giving the verses an AB AB structure, whereas the earliest Greek follows a more familiar AB BA pattern called a chiasmus.(ESP, OBrien)

The one/these: Greek oi men “the ones”. These preaching from love are the same as v.15’s good willers.

of love/ out of love: Love for Christ and the gospel, and/or Paul.

appointed/set for the defense of the gospel: Can be taken two ways:

1. God put me in this situation for the gospel. Greek keimai used here was originally a military term.


2. Paul’s given ministry is to defend the gospel.(ESP, OBrien)

Phil 1:17
The one/the others… the first group mentioned in v.15, who preach for the wrong reasons.

out of rivalry/contention: Greek eritheias, a word that mixes both envy and rivalry. It is formed from the noun erithos, which originally meant “day laborer”, but came to mean “mercenary”, one driven by greed and negative emotion.(ESP)

to add affliction/cause me anxiety: There are actually two different words in the Greek behind the KJV and the HCSB. HCSB is odd, as the Greek is simply translated to raise/cause affliction/trouble/distress. “thinking to cause trouble to my bonds” is the literal translation of the NET.(ESP, NET)

The anti-Paul group is either deliberately seeking to cause Paul trouble (presumably with his Roman jailers) or else hoping to upset him because they won people to Christ while being insincere. Seeking/supposing is Greek oimenoi “thinking, planning, supposing”. By implication the anti-Paulists’ plot has failed, as we see further in v.18.(ESP)

Phil 1:18
What then/what does it matter: Greek ti gar, “then what”, meaning “What is the result of this plot?”

Paul here says “Whatever the preachers’ motives, good or bad, Christ is preached, and that makes me happy.”

Phil 1:19 (18b included)
What does “this” refer to? Paul’s situation, good and bad, his imprisonment and trial. Or perhaps to Christ being preached (an older interpretation).

What does salvation/deliverance refer to? Take your pick:

1. Paul’s release from prison

2. Paul’s vindication, either in the present (Paul and the gospel succeed) or final vindication before God.

3. Good results in general.

Paul tends to speak of salvation in heavenly, final judgment terms, in which the believer is saved from wrath into glory, so here a final vindication is likely meant.(ESP, Obrien)

your prayers: Can either be seen as separate source of help to Paul, or the cause of the gift of the Spirit to Paul.

help/supply of: Either the Spirit helps Paul, or the Spirit is given to Paul, an added boost, as it were.

Phil 1:20
Eager/earnest expectation and hope/my hope: Basically Paul’s emotional desire
and his perhaps more rational hope, based on the facts.(ESP)

in nothing I shall be ashamed/I will not be ashamed about anything: Paul fears:

1. Failing to witness to Christ properly by his actions

2. Not being vindicated in his efforts, showing God has failed to help him

3. failing to win Jesus’ ultimate approval of his actions.

Paul is not specific about living to honor Christ, but also adds that his death should also honor Christ, if that is what is in store for him. In short, Paul wishes his entire life and being to honor Christ.

Phil 1:21
Living is Christ: My whole life is about Christ, witnessing for Him and serving His cause.

Dying is gain: Either or both:

1. To witness to Christ through his death would be good to Paul

2. Paul’s death would mean he would then be with Christ, the Christian’s strongest wish and greatest reward.

3. Perhaps also there is some notion of leaving the troubles of mortal life behind in Paul’s “gain”.(ESP)

Phil 1:22
This verse is translated in two ways:

1. To live on means I can serve Christ more

2. If to live is the result of my service to Christ

Most translations today prefer option 1. Option 2 though fits well with verse 23’s preference for death and union with Christ.

Paul doesn’t know whether he prefers life or death, explaining his reasons in v. 23

Obrien sees the Greek ou gnorizo not as “I do not know” or “I cannot say”, but rather “I have nothing to declare (from God), seeing a pattern in the use of gnorizo in Paul’s writings. (OBrien)

Phil 1:23-24
Paul’s personal desire is to die and be with Jesus, but he knows well that he is called to be a servant of others, and the Philippians could still use his ministry. Thus he is torn between desire and duty.

Phil 1:25
Remain/abide: Another difference in the Greek that doesn’t show in the translation. The Greek behind the KJV implies one remains at another’s side to help them, while the HCSB’s Greek (presumably, since I haven’t their Greek text and the HCSB does frequently follow the Textus Receptus Greek behind the KJV) implies simply remaining at another’s side.(ESP)

Paul knows well the Philippians need his ministry, and thus he is confident that God will allow him freedom and the opportunity to serve Philippi.

Phil 1:26
The translations are all over the map here. I give you the NET’s alternatives:

1. “your boasting may overflow in Christ Jesus because of me,”


2. “your boasting in me may overflow in Christ Jesus.”


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