by Randy White Ministries Sunday, Mar 27, 2022

Philippians, Rightly Divided, Verse-by-Verse


Session 5 | Phillippians 1:15-23


Philippians 1:15-18 | Christ Proclaimed Out Of Bad Motives


Note: verses 15-18 are also included on session 4
  • Verse 15- Green

    • Anytime there is fame, there will be those who seek to do good things with wrong motives. Compare Acts 8:18-25. Because of Paul's fame (see note, v. 13), there was evidently some who indeed preach Christ but out of the wrong motives. Even at this, some also out of good will.


  • Verses 16-17 -- Green

    • Paul must have had specific men in mind, but he does not give details.


  • Verse 18 - Green

    • Paul's chief concern is not the preacher's attitude toward him personally, but rather that Christ is preached. In Philippians 3:18 Paul speaks about the enemies of the cross, and in numerous occasions in his letters he speaks about false teachers and false doctrine. Therefore, we must conclude that the only issue here is the motive and not the content. The pretence is secondary. In other situations, we can speculate that Paul might have something more to say about this, but here he simply ignores bad pretence. (Note: modern American English uses a different spelling (pretense), but it is the same word).


      Philippians 1:19-26 | To Live Or To Die


  • Verse 19 -- Black

    • Paul says that this shall turn to my salvation“what is this“what is my salvation?"


      His reference to this could be his well-known bonds in Christ (v. 13) or it could be the fat that some are preaching Christ in pretence (v. 18), which is the more immediate context. Because it is more immediate, this seems to be the fact that Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice (v. 18). This is strengthened by the conjunction, for.
      So, the preaching of Christ then shall turn to my salvation through your prayer“saved" by the preaching that resulted from his bonds, nor by the prayer of the Philippians. We must, therefore, acknowledge that the word salvation does not always refer to receiving the gift of eternal life.
      But if Paul is not speaking about eternal salvation, then of what salvation does he refer? Again, taking the immediate context, we understand the verse as follows:
      • Paul's imprisonment has brought about an increased witness for Jesus Christ (v. 13).

      • This emboldened many to preach Christ without fear (v. 14).

      • Some did so out of poor motives (vv. 15-18).

      • “saved" from getting embroiled in controversies simply related to his personal feelings through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (v. 19).


        Thus, the verse is not “in the moment" about the temptation to become embittered by some who want to add affliction to my bonds (v. 16).
    • Paul clearly believes that the prayer of the Philippians is of benefit. This reveals to us that *“age of silence." *It appears that God uses prayer to encourage and strengthen others.


      What is the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ? I think it would be hard to argue that this Spirit is the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is not a Spirit of Jesus Christ but the Third Person of the Trinity, and the Third Person cannot be of“personage." The Spirit of Jesus Christ is the mind of Christ or the nature of the child of God* *“Christlike spirit," and this is such a spirit.
  • Verse 20 -- Black

    • Paul's earnest expectation and hope is that he would not be ashamed. This line seems to confirm our interpretation of the last verse, that Paul would not succumb to controversies related to him personally (v 18). Therefore, as 1 Corinthians 9:27 relates to the body, so Philippians 1:20 relates to the mind. Paul does not want to be ashamed at his own response to those who are supposing to add affliction to my bonds (v. 16). In the end, His desire is that Christ shall be magnified in my body.


  • Verse 21 -- Green

    • Clearly Paul does not know whether he will live or die, and both provide Paul a bright outlook for the future.


  • To live is Christ. That is, Paul had more opportunity to preach Christ.

  • To die is gain“His bonds had furthered the gospel, what might not his death do?" (The Companion Bible, note on Phil. 1:21).


  • Verse 22 -- Green

    • If Paul continues to live, then this is the fruit of my labour. The pronoun this seems to refer to his previous statement, to live is Christ (v. 21).

    • Between life and death, Paul is not going to make a choice. Between the two, he says, I wot not*. *The word wot is a verb that is to make known and used in the sense of declaring prophetically how this would turn out. Note that it appears that Paul has no advance understanding (i.e.: word of knowledge) about the future.

    • Verse 23 -- Green

    • When Paul says that he is in a strait betwixt two he speaks of the mental pressure of not knowing which direction this will go but knowing how he wants it to go. His desire is to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.

    • Presumably Paul speaks of death (compare 2 Tim. 4:6-7), though he could be referring to the rapture. The Companion Bible“it cannot mean ‘death'" but Bullinger has adopted a soul-sleep doctrine (erroneously) which dictated his thinking here. The plain reading of the text is that the two betwen which he is in a strait are life and death (v. 21). The plain reading is not that Paul introduces a third option. Thus, death for the believer is to be with Christ; which is far better.

    • A note on the archaic phrase in a strait betwixt two. Some would argue that since we do not talk this way,“I am torn between the two" (NIV).


    ***…verses 24-26, stay tuned!*

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