Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Intro: Phil 1:27-30 – Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation,* and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
I. Worthy… What is it worth? to you? The answer may differ from person to person. We recognize that the word worthy (noun – worth) is a determined value. The worth of a thing is determined by a person who applies a particular standard. (Kelly blue book; What is it selling for on eBay?, or even the person’s own assessment – some things I would not sell at any price, etc.) Paul admonishes the Philippians to conduct themselves in a way that is worthy of the gospel of Christ. The gospel message is the standard by which the worth of my behavior can be judged. Is it worthy of that standard?
A. The N.T. word translated as worthy in the N.T. is most often axios (Ax-ee-os) which means literally, “of weight”, and in its adjective form means deserving or suitable. (Vines) It is used to describe individuals and deeds. In this sense it denotes an attained quality or value that is deserved. A piece of land is “worth” so much. A laborer is worthy of his wages (1 Tim 5:18)
1. The verb form of axios, as used in the N.T. describes a favorable estimation formed by God. He counts individuals as worthy of His blessings.
• 2 Thessalonians 1:5 – 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;
• 2 Thessalonians 1:11 – Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, – Notice in this passages that God counts us worthy, it does not say we make ourselves worthy. What is described is the value God places on our conduct or “work of faith” and suffering. We are worthy, not because we have earned God’s blessings and made ourselves worthy, but because God values us to worthy of His blessings.
B. What does the word mean here in Philippians? How can our conduct be worthy of the gospel? There is a N.T. phrase containing the word worthy (axios) that may be helpful to our understanding. Fruits worthy of repentance.
• Acts 26:20 – but declared first to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and perform deeds worthy of their repentance.
• Matthew 3:8 – 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,
• Luke 3:8 – 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
1. What does the word worthy mean here? (Some translations use the word suitable or befitting) This cannot mean we bear fruit deserving of repentance, because the repentance (change of mind) has already occurred. It means there are deeds that are suitable to the change of mind that has occurred. It means that a person values his change of mind enough to do the deeds that show its worth. What is the value of your repentance? Show it be your reformed conduct and you will be bearing fruit that is worthy of your repentance. Have you ever had someone apologize to you and then turn right around and do the same thing again. You might conclude that their apology was not worth much to them.
2. Therefore, conduct worthy of the gospel, is behavior that displays the value or worth of the message itself. Is is conduct befitting of the gospel. The gospel is not just a joyful story, it is a call to conduct. It demands certain choices and actions that correspond to the story. What does the message commend and demand? What type of message is the gospel?
• It is a message of compassion – I must be compassionate to others
• It is a message of truth – I must seek the truth and speak truth to others
• It is a message of impartiality and justice – I must be fair and impartial toward others
• It is a message of mercy – I must extend mercy to others
• It is a message of obedience – I must respect God’s authority and strive to do all that He commands
• It is a message of forgiveness – How can I refuse to forgive my brother?
• It is a message of love – above all things I must love others, as Christ has loved me
a. This is a powerful argument to those who value their own salvation and sanctification from God. If you know what the gospel is all about; if you know what Jesus did for you, then you know how to act…
1) Ephesians4:1-3 – I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Do you see any of the characteristics of the gospel message in the conduct Paul commands – lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, bearing in love, unity, peace?
2) What did Paul mean when he told the church at Rome to receive their sister Phoebe in “a manner worthy of the saints” ( 16:1-2)? Did they know what that meant or did Paul need to spell it out?
3) The apostle John urged Christians to treat strangers in a “manner worthy of God”. (3 John 5-6)
II. Conduct: What is conduct? The ASV uses the phrase “manner of life”. The HCSB says “live your life in a manner…” We most often think of conduct as the way we “conduct” ourselves, or our behavior. But the language of this admonition is enlightening in its original context.
• Do you know the duties of being a citizen of the United States? There are certain obligations of U.S. citizenship, annunciated to all those who seek citizenship in this country. Five mandatory duties: 1) obey the laws, 2) Pay taxes, 3) serve on a jury, 4) serve as a witness, 5) register for the draft, and one voluntary duty: – 6) vote. But we would also recognize that there is other conduct that comes with being an American. We would expect Americans to respect the freedom and property of others; to value and uphold the Constitution; to defend democracy and seek justice. This is conduct that would be worthy of being an American. In fact, we may be distinguished from non-citizens by these very activities.
A. The Philippian saints lived in a Roman province or colony (Acts 16:12). This city of Philippi was made to reflect Rome as much as possible (“Rome away from Rome”). I believe that Paul utilizes this setting to reflect a Christian’s duty to live a life that distinguishes him from the world around him.
1. The verb form of conduct is politeuomai (pol-it-yoo’-om-ahee) Only found one other time in the N.T. (Acts 23:1). This word has a more precise meaning than simply conduct or behavior. The Greek word (from which we get politics or political) meant, in Hellenistic writings, to conduct your life “as pledged to a law of life” – or to live as a citizen of a government. In his other epistles Paul used another word for conduct almost exclusively. Why use this word here? It seems that Paul was admonishing them to exercise their citizenship, while living in a hostile environment. But he was not referencing their Roman citizenship…
2. Later Paul uses the noun form of this term in Phil. 3:20 – “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”. They were called to a commonwealth that was ruled from heaven itself. The standard (constitution) that defined their allegiance was the “gospel of Christ”.
III. Conduct Worthy of the Gospel –What was involved in exercising their citizenship, and “having their conduct worthy of the gospel”?
A. Standing Fast in One Spirit, with One Mind – their call to citizenship by the gospel requires that they face opposition, as they were already doing. Paul admonishes them to “stand fast“. Or literally to take a stand. These words imply a unifying code or conviction to which one must adhere. The Christian lives a principled life; not one that shoots from the hip or goes with the popular notion.
• 2 Thess 2:15“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle”. 1 Cor 16:13 “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong”.
1. But this encouragement is towards a “united stand” as they are to stand fast “in one spirit, with one mind” .
a. in one spirit – this could have reference to the unity of the Holy Spirit through revelation. In Paul’s similar admonition of Ephesians 4(walk worthy of the calling) he lists several “ones” that characterize the gospel and are essential to our unity: – endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
1) Considering the context, it may be referring to the human spirit. Christians are to share in their attitude and aspirations. Seeking the same goals.
b. “With one mind” – the mind is the seat of emotions and reasoning. It is totally unbiblical to suggest that we are not responsible for the working of our mind. Consider how the mind is converted in Christ:
• Rom 12:2 – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
• Rom 12:15-16 – “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
• 1 Cor 1:10 – “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1) Paul speaks about “the mind” at least 8 times in the book of Philippians. In four of those passages he urges Christians to be of the same mind; In 2 He tells us to have the mind of Christ; in the others he speaks about need for lowliness, and maturity, and urges against a minding of earthly things.
2) They are all admonitions that demand a new attitude and new thinking. It demands that we attempt to be unified in our desire to please God first in humble obedience. Without this single mind we cannot stand fast in the face of opposition.
i. This new mindset on which, and with which we are to be united comes from God alone. It is not borne through secular education or consensus of our thinking. We must put our minds on the things above and seek to know the will of God through scripture.
B. Striving Together For the Faith (vs. 27) – As we stand shoulder to shoulder against the world, we must “strive together for the faith”. The faith here is objective in nature, or the revealed word of God in which we are to have faith. Jude tells us that we must contend for the faith.
1. The word here combines the activity of striving, or contending with the quality of togetherness. We do this by fighting together. This stands in contrast to the fighting each other that we often see done in the name of contending for the faith.
2. “Striving together for the faith of the gospel.” The NIV translates this phrase “contending as one,” while both Moffatt and the RSV render the preposition “side by side.” Beck’s translation is, “fighting side by side like one man.” (finding courage in the company of another fan)
C. Not in Any Way Terrified by Your Adversaries, (vs. 28) – Although Christians are struggling and fighting in a hostile territory, they are encouraged to not be afraid of their enemies.
1. Paul’s explanation in verse 28 provides the necessary courage: “which is for them an evident token of perdition, but of your salvation, and that from God.” We can endure a lot of pressure if we understand the meaning of the situation and how things will turn out. We live in a bad place, but this is not our home, and righteousness will prevail in the end.
a. The faithful struggle of the saints is proof that we are true citizens of God’s kingdom and as such will be victorious in the end. It points to the destruction and ruin of the adversaries and to the salvation of the saints.
• Rom 8:31-37 – What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us
• 1 Cor 15:57-58 – But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
2. Their suffering was actually a precious privilege granted them by God. It was suffering in behalf of Christ! We often thank God for the opportunity to be believers or worshipers, but do you thank God for the opportunity to be a sufferer? The apostles did in Acts 5:41.
a. It was “the same conflict” they had seen and now heard to be in Paul (v. 30). They knew why Paul was suffering. It had become evident to all that Paul’s bonds were because of his relation to Christ (v. 13). This conflict and suffering was a certain indication that God would provide a victory. They were called to act live victors, in a manner that displayed the worth of the gospel message.
Conclusion: L.A. Mott summarizes these passages this way… Keep together. Put up a united front. Battle it out. Do not be intimidated by the opposition. Thus will you show behavior as citizens which is worthy of the gospel.
Are you a citizen of the kingdom of God? Are you a Christian? You need to hear God’s words; believe on Jesus Christ – put your trust in Him alone. Repent of your sins; Confess Jesus as the Son of God; Be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.