Elder Vernon Johnson

   
 

Philippians 1:12-20  

12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. 18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places… 

It is generally believed that this epistle to the Philippians was written from Rome, where Paul was a prisoner and would eventually be beheaded by the Roman emperor Nero.  Paul had been accused by the Jews at Jerusalem who tried to kill him there, he had been taken into custody by a Roman centurion and carried to Caesarea and as a Roman citizen had appealed to Caesar's judgment seat.  The Lord had told him that he would testify at Rome as well as at Jerusalem.   

Persecutions against the true gospel of the grace of Christ and against his ministers and his church have generally fueled the growth of the church and the spread of the gospel.  This happened at Jerusalem: Acts 8:3 "As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word."  Paul was the apostle who had labored more abundantly than they all.  He is the one who carried the gospel the furtherest and who ultimately suffered the most persecutions.  No doubt many were worried that at the death of Paul that the gospel would be quenched.  However, Paul knew that the example was stronger than the persecution.  In prison and ultimately awaiting death, Paul said, "the things which happened to me have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel."   

The testimony of one who is willing to die for what he believes is far greater than the testimony of his persecutors.  Paul knew that many would see that since he was willing to die for the gospel that the gospel was worth dying for.  No doubt Paul's sufferings and death encouraged many to show even greater zeal for the truth and for the cause of Jesus Christ and His church.   

Next, Paul's bonds were manifest in all the palace and all other places.  Paul was in prison to the Roman government.  However, the bonds to which he referred were not the bonds of men, but his bonds to Christ.  He was the Lord's prisoner and he manifest that he would be the servant of the Lord even in the most wretched of circumstances.  He worshipped and served the Lord in the most miserable of circumstances in a Roman jail.  No doubt, many who were around him took note that he was the love servant of Jesus Christ.   

And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Paul's example had showed to the brethren that the Lord will be with you and not desert you even in prison and in death.  This knowledge emboldened the ministering brethren to more boldly speak the word without fear of what man may do to you.  The devil and his ministers do not understand this.  They think they can through force and fear cause the Lord's servant to cease preaching the true gospel.  Just the opposite effect happens when they use force and persecution to try to stop the mouths of the Lord's true servants. 

Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.   

Some have misunderstood this passage and have thought that those who use the name of Christ and call it a gospel even though what they preach is a perverted gospel that this is acceptable and pleasing to the Lord.  This is not acceptable unto the Lord.  Paul taught in Galatians that "if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." 

The truth is that Paul was setting forth the situation where some preach the true gospel of Christ, but do it out of impure motives.  They do it out of envy and strife.  There are men who become envious of other brethren and of their influence and success in preaching the gospel.  These men with the impure motives want the recognition or fame and influence and purported success of those who preach out of good will and love.  They will even strive and speak against others if they think it will enhance their position among the churches.  Their preaching is not sincere but is done for personal gain.   

What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.  

Paul was not rejoicing over the preaching of a false Christ, but he was rejoicing in the fact that the true Christ was preached.  The hearers of the gospel rarely are able to judge the heart of the one who preaches to know if he is preaching out of strife and envy or if he is preaching out of good will and love.  The message of the grace of God is the same whether the motive of the preacher who preaches it is good or impure.  We rejoice in the gospel message, even though sometimes we may hear it from men who have impure motives. 

For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.  

When Paul speaks of his "salvation" here he is not referring to his eternal deliverance from sin.  Paul certainly taught that salvation from sin is by the grace of God and not through man's efforts.  Paul was speaking of the "salvation" from his current circumstances.  Paul said that he knew that through the prayers of the saints and through the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ that he would be delivered from his current circumstances of men's bonds and persecution.  He knew that he would be delivered either by life or by death.   

Paul desired that whether he lived or died that it was his earnest expectation and hope that he never do anything that would bring shame upon his master Jesus Christ.  His earnest desire was that Christ would be magnified in his body, whether it be by life or by death.  He wanted to live his life as the bond-servant of Jesus Christ and he wanted to die as the servant of Jesus Christ.  This should also be the desire of each one of us.  We should desire to live as the bondservants of Jesus Christ and we should desire that in death we would still be serving our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.