Paul’s point in this last section of the letter may be the central point: He wrote a letter to thank the Philippians for their generous gift and support for him.
Verse 10 – “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.” (NASB)
‘Rejoiced’ – Paul rejoiced in the Lord, not in circumstances, not in himself!
The word ‘revived’ is like a gardening/farming term for a fresh sprouting, a new flourishing of a crop or plant.
The Philippians had a concrete way to help Paul via the gift sent with ‘Epaphroditus’.
Verse 11 “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (NASB)
The word ‘content’ used here by Paul really refers to ‘self sufficiency’. We too need to be self sufficient, earn a living and take care of ourselves. When it comes to the Lord though, we are sufficient in the strength that Jesus gives us.
I wonder also if part of Paul’s ‘self sufficiency’ came from the fact that he was a tent maker and could support himself while he was planting churches, preaching, and facing hardships. His self sufficiency also could have come from a deep assurance that the Lord was going to take care of him in whatever situation he found himself. He knew that God’s grace was sufficient.
We need to provide for our needs. We need to work, to earn a living, to pay our bills, to be responsible. There is a tension though, we are self sufficient and dependent on Him the same time. He is the one who has provided for us so that we can be self sufficient. All that we have comes from Him.
Verse 12 “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” (NASB)
Is what Paul said true about you? If you had to, could you live in very humble place and have a good attitude at the same time? Can you and I live a content and generous life whether we are in a very affluent place or living in a tent or mud hut? Paul’s standard of living was far below ours and yet he knew how to make do. Can we do the same, or do all the ‘creature comforts’ have to be ‘5 Star’ for us to utter the slightest praise?
Books with titles like, ‘the secret of success’, or the secret to losing weight’, or ‘the secret to becoming wealthy’ would all be big sellers on shelves in America. I believe that Paul understood that ‘the secret of being filled and going hungry’ had more to do with an unfailing trust in the Lord and less to do with extreme conditions and difficult times that we sometimes face.
By the way, who do you know who has lived a rags to riches life (Esther) or a riches to rags life? (Jesus)? He went from the throne room of God in all His glory to becoming a man and living among dirty, sinful people for over 30 years, to be spoken against and killed by them on a cross.
Verse 13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
When you read this verse, do you place the emphasis on ‘I’ and ‘me’? Or do you place it on ‘Him who strengthens’?
You and I are not super man. We however know Jesus and He will help us deal with whatever we face.
Verse 14 “Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.”
Sharing is a good thing.
Living and moving around in a Roman jail probably was like an affliction. I can only imagine that the conditions were horrible. Many of them were under ground or under the streets, accessed via holes the size of man hole covers and ladders. As I have said before, there were no automatic ‘3 meal a day’ or TV or comfy mattresses provided. Conditions were rough.
Verse 15 “You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone;”
I believe that Paul saw the giving and receiving as a 2 way street. He gave to them by preaching to them, nurturing them in Christ and helping to see the church established. They gave to him by sending money and supplies to him while he was in jail in Rome. They were generous. We should take a cue from this and ask ourselves how generous and willing are we to share what we have?
Verse 16 “for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.”
The Philippians were a thoughtful, generous bunch. Thessalonica was a nearby town where Paul also preached the gospel and God raised up a church.
Verse 17 “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.”
The point is that the Philippians would be blessed by their kindness and ability to help him!
Verse 18 “But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.”
By giving to Paul, the Philippians were sacrificing not only to help him, but also for the Lord’s work through Paul. The Lord was pleased with their kindness and generosity.
Verse 19 “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
My God, Your God will do it!
He Will Supply, not may, not could, not might!
All of your needs – and not necessarily your wants. There is a difference between the two. God is not a sugar-daddy when we say ‘gimme this or gimme that’.
His riches – God is not a penny pincher or a poor man. He has riches, in a way that you and I cannot even fathom.
Out of His abundance, Paul was saying that the Lord would also abundantly provide for the Philippians.
Verse 20 “Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Verse 21 “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.”
Friends greet friends. Family greet family members. Friendly people greet other people. To greet someone is to notice them, speak to them, take an interest in them.
Verse 22 “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.”
Remember in the very first chapter of the letter where Paul talked about his chains and the open doors the Lord was giving him with the Praetorian Guard. This likely refers to that.
Verse 23 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
And His grace will be with us, today, tomorrow, and every day!
- We could stand to rejoice a lot more and be a lot more content, no matter what the circumstances.
- Learn the secret (as Paul described it).
- Through Christ (our emphasis).
- We could learn to be generous from the Philippian example.
- Our God will supply all our needs!
- May the grace of God also be with you!
I hope you have enjoyed and been blessed by these notes on Philippians. There is a blog post for each chunk of the book..