13 We cannot “work out our salvation” by our own strength. Only because God is working in us are we able to do so (John 15:5). God not only gives us the strength to do His will; He also gives us the desire to do it. Yes, we are the ones that must carry out His will; we are the ones that must actually do the work. But it is only through God’s grace and strength that we can do it. Everything we do is done by the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10). To God goes all the praise!
But remember this: We are free to reject God’s grace. We can refuse to obey God’s will. We can continue in sin without repenting. That is dependent on us; that is our choice. But if we choose to accept God’s grace and to obey Him, then God has promised to help us.
Let us examine our hearts. Is there any area of our life in which we are refusing to obey God? Let us repent of that disobedience. Let us not despise the grace of God!
14 In God’s sight, our inner minds and spirits are far more important than our outward actions (1 Samuel 16:7). There must be no silent complaining or arguing in our minds and spirits. Because that is really the same as complaining and arguing against God. And when we complain and argue against God, we are rejecting His grace and His will for our lives.
15 If there is no complaining or arguing in our minds and spirits, then we shall be blameless and pure. We were chosen, as God’s children, to be holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4). If we are blameless and pure in our inner minds and spirits, then we shall also be blameless and pure in our outward behavior. The holiness of our outward behavior is both the proof and the result of our inward holiness.
Let us examine ourselves. Are we blameless and pure? Do we shine like stars in the universe? That is Paul’s hope and expectation for the Philippians. And it is also Christ’s hope and expectation for us (Matthew 5:14,16; Ephesians 5:8).
16 Not only must we “shine like stars” for other men to see, but we must also hold out8 the word of life for other men to hear. The word is Christ’s word, which gives life (John 6:63). The word is also the Gospel, which is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). However, there is little use in our preaching the word of Christ to others if the light of Christ is not visible in our lives.
If the Philippians “shine like stars” and proclaim the word of life, then Paul’s labor among them will not have been in vain. He will be able to boast about the Philippians on the day of Christ (see Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
17-18 The Philippians have already been offering to God their sacrifice and service (verse 17). Now, in addition to their sacrifice, Paul may have to offer his own life as a sacrifice. But he is happy to do so. He may be about to receive the death sentence. But even though he is sentenced to death, Paul can be glad and rejoice that, through his death, Jesus Christ will be glorified (Philippians 1:20). Whether Paul is sentenced to death or not, let the Philippians rejoice with him!
19 Timothy helped Paul establish the church at Philippi (Acts 16:1-3). At the time Paul wrote this letter, Timothy was with him in Rome (Philippians 1:1).
Paul hopes in the Lord to send Timothy to Philippi. All Paul’s hopes are in the Lord (verse 24). But whatever the Lord wills, Paul is ready to accept (see James 4:13-16).
20-22 Why was Timothy such a valuable colleague for Paul? Because Timothy was always looking out for the interests of others, for the welfare of others. Timothy cared deeply for the Philippians. Timothy had served with Paul as a son with his father (verse 22). Notice that Paul doesn’t say here that Timothy “served” him, but rather that Timothy “served with” him. Timothy did not serve Paul; rather, together with Paul, he served Christ.
Paul writes that everyone else looks out for his own interests; that is, they selfishly seek first their own advantage in everything. Timothy was not like that. Timothy looked out for Christ’s interests first of all.
How many people like Timothy are there in our church? Whose interests do we look out for first—ours or Christ’s?
23-24 Timothy will be able to give news to the Philippians about how things go with [Paul]—that is, whether he is released or sentenced to death. Paul is confident in the Lord that he will be released and will be able to come to the Philippians himself (Philippians 1:25).
25 Epaphroditus was a Philippian, who had been sent to Rome by the church in Philippi to give help to Paul and to bring Paul a gift from the church (Philippians 4:18). Epaphroditus stayed for some time in Rome with Paul; that’s why Paul calls him my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier.
26-28 While he was in Rome, Epaphroditus became ill. When the Philippians heard about it, they were greatly worried. After his recovery, Epaphroditus wanted to return to Philippi so that he could dispel the anxiety of the Philippians on his behalf. For the Philippians’ sakes, Paul was willing to let his helper Epaphroditus go.
29-30 All those who risk their lives for Christ deserve the respect of other Christians. It was always Paul’s custom to give honor to each servant of Christ. Paul always speaks well of all those who serve Christ faithfully.
Paul writes that Epaphroditus risked his life to make up for the help you (the Philippians) could not give me (verse 30). Paul means that since all the Philippians could not personally come to Rome to help Paul, they had sent their representative Epaphroditus to do what they could not do in person.