Beware of…

Philippians 3:1-3 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. 

‘Rejoice in the Lord’ – Let your happiness be in the Lord (4:4; 1Thess. 5:16; 1Pet. 1:8) for the joy of the LORD is our strength (Neh. 8:10). When we live in thanksgiving and joy because of who the Lord is and what He has done for us, all complaining will cease. Through complaining we lose what we received, the enemy knows this and focus all his attacks on stealing our joy. We have a choice between allowing this or resisting him (Jas. 4:7; 1Pet. 5:7-8; 1Jn. 5:18).

‘To write the same things to you.’ – he wrote the same doctrines that he had preached and written to others.

‘Dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.’ Jews are called three things here: Dogs – the very things they called others (Mat. 15:26-27); evil workers, Judaizing teachers; the concision, mutilators [Greek: katatome], but the verb katatemno occurs in the Septuagint of heathen mutilations (Lev. 21:5; 1Kin. 18:28). Paul regards circumcision as no better than heathen practices. False teachers lie in wait to catch ignorant souls by their fallacies there are ten marks of false teachers: They cause divisions among Christians. They cause offences against truth (Rom. 16:18). They do not serve God (Rom. 16:17-18). They serve their own bellies (3:19; Rom. 16:18;). They use slick tongues to deceive (Rom. 16:18). They are enemies of the cross (3:18). They walk contrary to the gospel (3:17). They glory in their shame (3:19). They mind earthly things (3:19). They bring in heresies (2Pet. 2:1).

The founders of false religions and human philosophies pamper the flesh and give their victims elated feelings of importance to make an appeal to them for their own benefit and popularity, making followers for themselves instead of for Christ.

‘For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.’ Four points about Christians here: The true circumcision – that of the heart (Rom. 2:29). Worshipers in spirit (John 4:24). Rejoice in Christ (3:1; 4:4; 1Pet. 1:1-25). Have no confidence in the flesh (3:3-4; 2Cor. 5:16).

God Had Mercy on Him

Philippians 2:26-30 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that you had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when you see him again, you may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me. 

‘Full of heaviness’ [Greek: ademoneo] heavily burdened.

‘Sick’ – he had been sick. This proves that at the time of the writing of this epistle he was well again. For the work of the Lord, he had been “nigh unto death” (2:30). How could the work of God make him sick if not by overwork and improper rest? In such a case, it would be a physical breakdown rather than some disease. The Greek verb for “he had been sick” is astheneo, to be weak or frail in any sense. It is used 15 times of: Weak faith (Rom. 4:19; 14:1, 2, 21; 1Cor. 8:9-12); weak law (Rom. 8:3); weak (poor) people (Acts 20:35) and weak in boldness and power (2Cor. 11:21, 29; 12:10; 13:3, 4, 9).

It is used 17 times for physical sickness and 3 times for physical breakdowns because of overwork (2:26-27; 2Tim. 4:20). Thus, to conclude that the cases of Epaphroditus (here) and Trophimus (2Tim. 4:20) prove that Paul and the apostles had lost their power to heal, or that it was only occasionally that they had such power is concluding too much. Paul did have the power to do special miracles (Acts 19:11-12). He had the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:18-19, 29). He even had the power to impart gifts to others (Acts 19:1-7; Rom. 1:11; 1Tim. 4:14; 2Tim. 1:6). Gifts are not given so that bodies may be abused by overwork to bypass consequences. They are not to enable man to work beyond what is sensible and best for the body.

‘But God had mercy on him.’ This proves that God did miraculously restore the man and save him from death. Prayer will do wonders even in a physical breakdown, but it will never sustain a body that is not properly taken care of by rest and nourishment.

‘Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.’ This was the cause of his physical trouble – overwork. In such a case like this, and no doubt that of Trophimus, it was best to let them recuperate before going back into the work.

Be of Good Comfort

Philippians 2:19-25 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But you know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he has served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly. Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. 

‘Timotheus’ – this is Timothy who was converted by Paul on his first trip (Acts 14:6-7 with 1Tim. 1:2). Part Jew and Greek, uncircumcised, but a good Christian (Acts 16:1-3). A miracle worker like Paul (1Cor. 16:10). Paul’s companion from here on (2:19; Acts 16:1-3; 17:14-15; 18:5; 19:22; 20:4; Rom. 16:21; 1Cor. 4:17). On a mission (Heb. 13:23). It is believed by some that he was Paul’s scribe in writing Hebrews and Galatians. He had the gifts of the Spirit (1Tim. 4:14; 2Tim. 1:6). He was a great student of Scripture (2Tim. 1:5; 2:15; 3:15).

‘Know the proof of him’ – This known proof of Timothy is stated in Acts 16:1-3; 17:14.

‘With the father’ – Timothy worked with Paul, not for him (1Cor. 16:10).

‘How it will go with me’ – He was confident of being liberated (2:24; 1:19, 25-26).

‘My brother, and companion in labour, fellow-soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.’ Seven facts regarding Epaphroditus: A brother in Christ (2:25); a companion in labour [Greek: sunergos] fellow-labourer in (4:3); fellow-soldier [Greek: sustratiotes]; your messenger [Greek: apostolos] apostle; Minister [Greek: leitourgos] public servant; had a physical breakdown because of overwork (2:26-30); was healed (2:27-29).

Do All Things Without Murmurings

Philippians 2: 14-18 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do you joy, and rejoice with me. 

‘Do all things without murmurings’ – we are warned in Psalm 55:22 to cast thy burden upon the LORD – Man is commanded to do one thing; then God will do two things. All promises are conditional. Christians tend to emphasize the promises and ignore their conditions. Then they murmur and complain when the promises aren’t fulfilled. There is more to Christianity than its benefits (1Cor. 15:19). From Jude 1:15-16 we see that God’s judgment will come over those who murmur and complain.

‘That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.’ Six results of obedience to Philippians 2:12-14: [1] Blameless before God. [Greek: amemptos]. Blameless in legal righteousness like Paul (3:6), as well as in keeping the commandments. At the rapture, Christ will meet the saints in the air (1Thess. 4:16) and take them to heaven where they will be presented before God the Father and established in eternal and unblameable holiness by God (1Thess. 3:13). [2] Harmless to men. [Greek: akeraios] God desires that we show wisdom by discerning and choosing good from evil (Rom. 16:19). [3] The sons of God Sonship – adopted sons share the same rights and privileges as one born in the family. (Rom. 8:14-16, 23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5). [4] Without rebuke by man [Greek: amometos]. From 1Timothy 3:7 we see the necessary standard of having a good report from outsiders. [5] Shine as lights (Mat. 5:14-16). When God’s word is in us we can bring light as the sun and moon (John 15:1-5). [6] Hold forth the word of life. Be lighthouses to guide people safe to the harbour of safety and rest (2Cor. 4:4).

Work Out Your Own Salvation

Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worked in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 

‘Obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ We all have the responsibility of working out our own salvation until it is completed (3:21; Rom. 6:22; 8:23; 1Pet. 1:5-13). It is everyone’s own responsibility to ask to receive (Matt. 7:7; Jas. 4:7-8) and allow God to complete the work He has begun in us (1:6). God can only bring salvation in us to completion when we are willing to die to the self (Matt. 10:11-13, 37-38).

‘Fear and trembling’ – Why fear and trembling if there is no possibility of a fall and a failure? From 1Corinthians 9:27 we see Paul’s warning to keep our bodies under and bring them into subjection: lest by any means we should be castaways. From Hebrews 6:4-9 we see that Christians can backslide, tearing down the foundation of repentance that is already laid. Should they ever again be admitted into Christ, they will have to build again the foundation of repentance and do their first works again (Heb. 2:1-4; Rev. 2:5) and that Christians can fully apostatize from Christ, completely rejecting Him and His atoning work, so that it is impossible to renew them again to repentance (Heb. 10:26-29; 2Pet. 2:20-22).

‘Worked in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure’ If one will not obey in working out His own salvation, will God continue to work when man refuses to permit Him? Man’s power to will and to do as he pleases should not be puzzling. Such power comes from God but the use of it lies with man. One who will not use this power to work out His salvation will be held responsible. All people possess the power but not all use it (John 3:16-20; Mark 16:15-16; 1Jn. 1:9; Rev. 22:17).

At the Name of Jesus

Philippians 2:9-11 Wherefore God also had highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

‘Had highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.’ Seven steps in His exaltation: God highly exalted Him (2:9; Eph. 1:21). God gave Him a name above all. At the mere mention of His name, every knee must bow (2:10). Everything in heaven must bow. Everything on earth must bow. Everything under the earth must bow. Every tongue shall confess His Lordship to the glory of God the Father (2:11).

‘That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow …’ This is the 2nd New Testament prophecy in Philippians (2:10-11) that is unfulfilled.

‘Of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.’ There are three worlds that are inhabited: Heaven (2:10; Job 1:6; 2:1; Dan. 4:35; Col. 1:15-18; Rev. 12:12; 13:6). Earth (2:10; Col. 1:16; Rev. 12:12). Underworld. [Greek: katachthonios] under the earth; subterranean; infernal world (2:10; cp. Ps. 16:10 with Mat. 12:40 and Eph. 4:8-10). This includes the angelic inhabitants in Tartarus (2Pet. 2:4; Jude 1:6-7; 1Pet. 3:19); the pre-Adamites and demon inhabitants of the abyss (Luke 8:31; Rev. 9:1-21; 20:3, 20:7); the giant races that have no resurrection (Gen. 2:4; Isa. 26:14); the human inhabitants of Sheol/Hades (Ps. 9:17; 16:10; 71:20; Pro. 9:18; 15:24; Isa. 14:9; Ezek. 31:14-18; 32:18-27; Luke 16:1-31; Rev. 20:11-15); and all other inhabitants of the infernal world (2:10; Rev. 5:13). This proves that hell is not the grave.

Of No Reputation Part 3

Philippians 2:7-8 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 

He could do nothing of Himself in all His earthly life. He attributed all His works, doctrines, powers, etc. to the Father through the anointing of the Holy Spirit (John 8:28). This is proved by the following facts in Scripture (continued): (10) He did not claim the attributes of God, but only the anointing of the Spirit to do His works (John 8:28; Matt. 12:28; Luke 4:16-21). Others stated this was the source of His power (John 3:34; Acts 10:38). Most scriptures used in theological texts proving that Christ had divine attributes on earth are statements true of Him since His glory has been restored and do not prove anything during His life on earth. All scriptures related to His earthly life can be explained as referring to the exercise of the gifts of the Spirit and not natural attributes. (11) The fact that Christ promised all believers power to do the works He did prove that it was through the anointing of the Spirit, not by His deity and natural attributes, that He did His works (Mat. 10:1-20; 16:18; 18:18; Luke 10:1-42; 24:49; Mark 16:15-20; John 14:12-15; Acts 1:4-8). (12) His exaltation to original glory and the highest place under God the Father is proof of His lowest humiliation and earthly limitation short of being God by nature (2:9-11; Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:15-23; 1Pet. 3:22).

‘Humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’ Christ humbled Himself from the divine form to human form, and from sinless humanity to sinful and corrupt infamy – even the death of the cross, bearing the sins of all men (2:8; 1Pet. 2:24).

Of No Reputation Part 2

Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men

He could do nothing of Himself in all His earthly life. He attributed all His works, doctrines, powers, etc. to the Father through the anointing of the Holy Spirit (John 8:28). This is proved by the following facts in Scripture: (1) He was limited to the status of a man (2:6-8; Heb. 2:14-18; 5:8-9). (2) He was God’s agent using God’s power of attorney (John 8:28; Acts 10:38). (3) He was our example that we should walk in His steps (1Pet. 2:21-23). (4) The temptations prove that He was limited as a man so that He could overcome as a man and not as God (Heb. 4:14-16; 5:7-9). (5) Isaiah (Isa. 7:14-16) speaks of the Messiah being born without knowledge enough to know to refuse the evil and choose the good. (6) Isaiah (Isa. 11:2; 53:1-12) speaks of the Messiah being limited as an ordinary baby, showing that God would give Him the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. If He had these attributes as God from all eternity and did not lay them aside in becoming a man when was this ever true of Him? (7) Isaiah (Isa. 50:4-11) predicted that the Messiah would be born without the tongue of the learned, without knowing how to speak a word in season to help any soul, and that He would be wakened day by day to increase in knowledge and wisdom. (8) Isaiah (Isa. 42:1-7; 61:1-11) speaks of the Messiah receiving His power to manifest divine acts by the anointing of the Holy Spirit and not by retaining His own former natural attributes and powers. Is it necessary for God to be anointed with the Holy Spirit to do what He is naturally capable of doing? If it became necessary to anoint Jesus during His earthly life, then it proves He did not retain His former glory and attributes which He had from all eternity when He emptied Himself to become like men in all things (2:6-8; Heb. 2:14-18; 5:8-9). (9) History records that Christ was limited as a baby and grew in body, soul, and spirit, grace, wisdom, stature, and favour with God and man (Luke 2:40, 52). Even after His manhood, His full anointing and gifts of the Spirit, He was still limited in knowledge (Mark 13:32). He even learned obedience by the things He suffered (Heb. 4:14-16; 5:7-9).

To be continued…

Of No Reputation Part 1

Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men

‘Made himself of no reputation’ – The “Kenosis” of Christ: [Greek: kenoo] to empty out, drain. It is translated “make void” (Rom. 4:14; 1Cor. 9:15); “make of none effect” (1Cor. 1:17); “be in vain” (2Cor. 9:3); and “make of no reputation” (i.e., He emptied Himself; 2:7).

Of what did Christ empty Himself? It could not have been His divine nature, for He was God not only from all eternity (Mic. 5:1-2; John 1:1-2; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 1:8-11), but God manifest in flesh during His life on earth (Isa. 7:14; 9:6-7; Mat. 1:18-25; John 1:1-2, 14; 1Tim. 3:16). Christ emptied Himself of: [1] Equality with God (2:6-7; John 14:28; 1Cor. 11:3). [2] God-form or God-body, the spirit body that He lived in from eternity, to take human-form (2:6-8; 3:21; Mat. 1:18-25; Luke 1:35; 24:37-40; John 1:14; Zech. 13:6; Gal. 4:4; Rom. 8:3). [3] Immortality of body (1Cor. 15:3; Ps. 16:10; 1Pet. 2:24; 3:18). As God, He could not die for our sins or take our place as a substitute (1Cor. 15:20-22). [4] The glory that He had with the Father before the world was (2:5-11; John 12:23; 17:5; Mat. 16:27). [5] His authority in heaven and on earth, which was given back to Him after the resurrection (2:9-11; Mat. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; 1Pet. 3:22). [6] His divine attributes and outward powers that He had with the Father from eternity. He had no power to do miracles until He received the Holy Spirit in all fullness (John 2:11; 3:34; Isa. 11:1-2; 42:1-7; 61:1-2; Luke 3:21-22; 4:16-21; Mat. 12:28; Acts 10:38). He could do nothing of Himself in all His earthly life. He attributed all His works, doctrines, powers, etc. to the Father through the anointing of the Holy Spirit (John 8:28).

To be continued…

This Mind Be in You

Philippians 2:5-6 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God

‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.’ Let the mind of self-emptying be in you which was in Christ (2:7). We are warned to have the same attitude as Christ if we want to be His followers (1Pet. 2:21-23).

‘Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.’ Seven steps in His humiliation: Christ was consecrated to humble Himself (2:5). Christ laid aside His divine form (2:6). Christ made Himself of no reputation (2:7). Christ took the form of a servant (2:7). Christ was made in the likeness of human beings (2:7). Christ humbled Himself (2:8). Christ became obedient unto death (2:8). These points to the humiliation of Christ’s kenosis, the emptying of Himself, so He could become the best human example for how a man should live (Heb. 4:15).

‘Being’ [Greek: huparcho] though existing; subsisting. He existed as God from all eternity (Isa. 7:14; 9:6-7; Mic. 5:2; John 1:1-2; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 1:8-11).

‘Form’ [Greek: morphe] is the outward form that strikes the vision; the external appearance. The passage should read, “who, existing in the form of God (by which He from eternity had appeared to the inhabitants of heaven), yet not thinking that this equality with God should be clung to or retained, He emptied Himself of it, to assume the form of a servant and become like man” (2:6-7).