Philippians 1:27-30

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:25
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Philippians 1:27-30

Philippians 1:27–30 “Only conduct yourselves43 in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that—whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent—I should hear that44 you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel,45 and by not being intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is46 a sign of their47 destruction, but of your salvation—a sign which48 is from God. For it has been granted to you49 not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him, since you are encountering50 the same conflict that you saw me face and now hear that I am facing.51”
Introduction: introduce, pray, Philippians sermon series
if you have your bibles, we’re going to be looking at philippians 1:27-30.
just so youre aware, I had originally planned for us to be spending 4 weeks in philippians. theres 4 chapters, I was going to spend a week on each chapter, and that was going to have us finishing up the book just in time for christmas
and then we’d do a little 2 part christmas series, and wed start something new at the first of the year.
So today, this is our third week of the series, and if the Lord wills it and the creek don’t rise, we’re going to just barely finish up chapter 1 today
Needless to say, We’re not going to get this series done by Christmas
I tried, I even tried to get us caught up, but at this point I’m just gonna let it go.
We’re going to take as long as it takes to work through this book.
And the way we’re looking at this letter, the “method” we’re looking at this letter,
If you’ve paid attention over the last couple of years, We’ve been talking about different “lenses” that we use to read scripture. We’ve been talking about different “tools” and “methods” that we’ve used to read scripture.
when we went through genesis we spent a lot of time reading scripture from a “christ-centered” lens, where we filter everything through Jesus, where we’re looking for Jesus’ fingerprints all over
When we went through Exodus, we looked at the pyramid method, and the various “layers” we can use to look at scripture
When we went through matthew, we kind of broke it down into what’s called a “literary” style
We looked at matthew’s five major “speeches” and we looked at the account of Jesus life through the lens of these themes in the speeches, we really leaned in hard to Jesus’ theme of the “kingdom”
We looked at some psalms, and we took more of an experiential approach, because we were looking at poetry, and so we really didn’t look at history or context, we just tried to appreciate the psalms for their beauty and poetry.
And as we get into philippians we’re pulling out the microscope.
We’re going to go verse by verse, word by word, we’re going to try to understand the original language behind the letter, we’re going to try to understand the historical context behind the letter
we’re going to try to dive into what was going on in Paul’s mind, in the church in philippi’s mind
We’re going to study this scripture like a scientist would
We’re going to try and collect all the data, and really just pick it apart.
And I was thinking about this the other day, as I was going through all of these different “tools” and “methods” of reading the Bible
And the thought popped into my head, which one is the “right” way to read scripture?
which “lens” is the right lens to read scripture?
That’s a question I hear, when we are going through our passages in Bible study, and we’re trying to figure out a certain verse, someone will say
well what does it “actually” say
What’s the “right” way to understand this?
And As we work through these different series’ and different methods, I want us to break out of that mindset of just wanting the “right” answer, “right now”
that’s that instant gratification, I think, that we want to just be able to read it, understand it, know exactly how to apply it to our lives, and just know it, so that we can move on to the next passage of scripture.
And I don’t think that’s how our attitude toward scripture should be.
Example: I’m in school working on my Masters of Divinity.
Part of what you do in programs like that is you write big long papers about different passages of scripture.
About a year ago I did a really big research project on one verse, in the book of mark.
And actually the research I did was about one single word in one verse in the book of Mark.
One word.
I spent 6 months, I probably read about a hundred different books, and research articles.
I spent time studying and examining the images of some of the old manuscripts of this one word in this one verse in ancient greek.
I spent time looking through the old translations of this one word when it got translated into Latin
I spent time studying the history behind this one word, and the way the word is used in other parts of the Bible, and the way the word is used outside the bible
I looked at the literary themes in mark and how they are used to look at this one word
I spent time looking into how this one verse in this one word might have been used in the time before mark wrote it down, when the apostles and churches were telling this story to each other verbally in the churches before anything actually got written down.
6 Months, countless pages of reading and writing and when I got done with it, I still wasn’t truly convinced that I understood what I needed to know about this one single word in the Bible.
I wrote the Paper, I turned it in,
and a few months ago I was thinking about all that research I had done, and I went back and re-read the paper I had written, and finally, almost a year after I had written the paper, I said to myself, “you know” I think I understand that word
I think I’m about 90% certain how that word was used, and what it means, and what we should do with it.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because I think the “right” way to read scripture is to immerse ourselves in it
It’s to spend 18 months reading everything you can and every resource you can about it
Read what the different “families” of christians say about it
listen to different sermons about it
with the hope that you immerse yourself in scripture so much that you move beyond the point of just wanting to “know” the answer, and get to a point where you’re really truly familiar with the text, and all of the different aspects about it.
So I want to encourage you all as we’re going through this scripture, go home and read it again.
Read it in your study Bible. come to Bible Study on tuesday. go on your phone and look up some other preacher and what he says about it.
And so, as best as we can, here in 40 or so minutes once a week, that’s what we’re going to try to do.
So if you have your Bibles, we’re going to start in Philippians 1:27.
Just so we don’t forget where we’ve been up until this point.
When we looked at the book of Acts, we talked about how philippi is the first “roman” city that the church is planted in. It’s the first place where the gospel is going out into a “non-jewish” area.
and the church in Philippi was formed right in the middle of a big debate going on in the Church, about circumcision.
so the big question, the big “problem” that we were looking at was, how do we keep a church together in that new environment.
and then last week, we looked at Paul’s introduction to the letter, his major themes that he wants to introduce.
We looked at Paul’s imprisonment. and the fact that he was, quite realistically going back and forth about the idea that he might not make it out of prison.
What does that mean for the church in Philippi. How is Paul going to lift up this church, knowing that perhaps this letter might be the last one he sends.
So I want you to kind of keep those ideas in the back of your mind, as we work our way through these next few verses.
Philippians 1:27 NET 2nd ed.
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that—whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent—I should hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel,
“Only conduct yourselves in a manner...”
“Conduct yourselves” πολιτεύεσθε, Act as a citizen.”
Recall from Acts,
Philippi is a “leading city” in macedonia
Philippi is the first church that is squarely “roman” both Geographically and culturally
They didn’t even have enough Jews to form a proper synagogue—the limit was 10 jewish Males.
What makes Philippi more “roman” than any other place?
Asia Minor was part of the roman empire. Israel was part of the roman empire. Even Egypt was part of the Roman empire. But some places were more “roman” than others.
Israel was part of the roman empire, but they were roman “occupied” territory.
They weren’t loyal to Rome, they didn’t like the romans, they were simply “ruled” by rome.
Other places were more loyal, more dedicated to the empire.
In the same way, up until a few years ago the countries of Afganistan or Iraq were controlled by the united states
We had a military presence there, we tried to oversee their elections, we provided the training for their military, we provided them with the bulk of their financial needs.
Obviously on paper we didn’t consider them “part” of the united states, but from a practical standpoint, we “owned” those countries. We were in control over those countries.
But nobody would ever fly to iraq or afganistan while we were still occupying and controling those regions, nobody would ever fly there and say “wow, welcome to america”
Because it’s not.
That’s what asia minor was like, that’s what israel was like.
They were roman controlled, but there was no allegiance to rome in the culture there whatsoever.
Philippi is a lot more like Ohio.
We can see plain as day how “Ohio” is much more “american” than occupied Afganistan, even though technically both places were under the auspices of the United States Government.
And not only that, but philippi was one of more “roman” cities even within the true and proper roman empire.
Just like there are some places that “feel” more american than others.
When we say “what comes to mind when we think of American”
Apple Pie, Baseball, Ford trucks. High School Football games, homecoming parades.
Please don’t take this to be political, I hate getting into politics,
But let’s be real, Seattle, Washington doesn’t give you that “american” vibe in the same way that some small town in the midwest does.
Or some place in Texas where all the stores shut down on friday night to go to the High school football game.
That’s the kind of place Philippi was.
Of all the places that Paul went and the churches he wrote to, Philippi was probably the second most “Roman” place that he went to, culturally.
Obviously the firstmost would be…Rome itself, in his letter to the Romans.
But Philippi is like the cleavland Ohio of the Roman Empire
When Paul says “Act like a Citizen” “conduct yourselves” worthy of the gospel, he’s pulling at those roman patriotism heartstrings of the church and saying “you know how proud you are of rome?” You know how as a proud roman citizen there’s just certain ways you know how to act, certain things you just know what to do, certain things that you just feel down to your core, this is what a Roman citizen does, this is the way a Roman citizen acts, these are the values that My roman citizenship demands of me.
Paul says take that same attitude, now apply it to your citizenship in Christ’s kingdom.
“…worthy of the gospel of Christ...”
What would it be like for us if we celebrated Christ with the same veracity that we celebrate the red white and blue?
When I go to a sporting event, at least in the places where I hang around, they sing the national anthem before every game
Everyone stands up, the crowd is silent.
You hear that song, and you look at that flag and it just sends shivers down your spine a little bit.
Maybe it’s just me, but I get emotional every time.
What would it be like if instead of the national anthem it was a song glorifying Christ? What would it be like if after we sang a song for christ we got all emotional and cheered and yelled.
What would it be like if we had parades for Christ, and set off fireworks for Christ, and had Barbeques for Christ
And culturally we could just feel it deep down in our bones, this is what it means to be a Christian
Be citizen, conduct yourself, in a manner “worthy of the gospel”
So that:
“...whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent...”
Recall from last week
Paul is in prison, he’s facing the very real reality that he might not make it out.
He discusses the pros and cons of dying in prison, or getting out so that he can build up the church
and he decides “I’m confident that I’m going to get out, because that’s what is going to grow the gospel the most
BUT...
In v. 27 he realistically faces the fact, yet again, that no matter how confident he is, he knows that it’s not in his hands.
He knows that Ultimately God is going to do what God is going to do, so no matter how confident he is he still has to face that fact.
Whether I see you or “remain absent” which is a really euphamistic way of saying “whether I get out of prison or not”
“I should hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel”
It’s this idea that because Paul is in prison, and because he truly has no control over our situation, where we start to really see what is going on in the mind of Paul, and in the mind of the church.
Recall from acts
Philppians is culturally seperated from a lot of the rest of the church, it’s geographically separated from a lot of the church
it was started in a time in the church when a lot of points of division were starting to form
The judiazers, the men who wanted gentiles to be circumcised, they were starting to gain traction.
And the big question we were left with in Acts was “how on earth” are we going to keep a church like that together with all of these challenges.
How are we going to keep the church from disentegrating, the people from falling away, or being led away into false teachigns.
Fast forward to where we are in Philippians and we have an extra wrinkle
How are we going to keep this church together without Paul.
I don’t think this was a concern for Paul ,but I do think it was a concern that the church had
Paul, now that you’re in prison, if you die, if you get exiled, if you don’t get to come back to us, how are we going to keep this church afloat
You’re the guy we write to when we have questions, you’re the guy we look forward to seeing. You’re the guy who first told us the gospel, you’re the guy who started the church in the first place, what on earth are we going to do if heaven forbid you don’t make it out of prison alive?
So paul’s instructions are: First off, act in a manner worthy of someone who is a citizen of heaven.
So that no matter, what, if I see you or I don’t if I get out of prison or not
“...I should hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind...”
See the unity theme coming up again?
You want to keep the church from falling apart, you need to be united.
You need to be able to make decisions together, you need to be able to think as a church, as a group, and not as individuals.
And you need to be united around the gospel.
“…by contending side by side...”
This is a sports metaphor Paul is using
The word, if we were to translate it as literally as possible, paul says “Athletic-ing” togehter…or training as athletes togehter
they didn’t neccecarily have “team” sports in rome.
But atheletes who competed together trained together
There was a fellowship among athletes, you wanted your fellow athelete to do well, you wanted to make each other better.
train together like you’re on the same team.
When we talk about “roman” culture, and roman identity, there’s one thing that the romans loved more than anything else. and that was sports.
Top of the list for any good roman citizen was chariot races
That was their Baseball…it was the all roman past-time
Remember, Paul’s drawing on roman patriotism
So when Paul says conduct yourself like a citizen of heaven, stand firm, and “compete together” act like atheletes toegether, you’ve got to think that this was one of the first things that comes to mind for them.
obviously, there’s also the gladiator fights,
most of the time, except for a few exceptions, the gladiators were slaves, not free-men.
we know that in the early church the vast majority of christians were slaves.
the church was the one place where slave and master, men and women, poor and rich, would all be able to meet in one place, and serve a common master. Remember Paul’s opening to the letter, Paul and timothy, “slaves” of Christ
This is the theater in Philippi, you can go there today, and actually see it
Early on it was used as a proper theater, for music, and plays, and the arts
But after the Romans rose to power, what do you think it got re-purposed for?
Blood sport
Gladiator fights, animal fights, roman boxing
Roman boxing was a lot more like our modern UFC fights. No rules, no holds barred, the only way the match ends is a knock out.
And so Paul’s using this sports imagry, this roman patriotism imagry, and he’s re-purposing their views on it for Christ.
Paul’s pep-talk for them is
Come on, act like a roman, but for Christ
Act like you’re defending the championship, but for Christ
Work together as a team, stand together united in spirit, united in mind, for what ?
“…for the faith of the gospel...”
That word faith gets used in a couple different ways in the new testament and I think sometimes we can breeze on through it
But the word faith can mean, what we typically think of, “faith” belief, adherance to somethign
Word can also mean “faithfulness” or Loyalty.
The idea that when someone “has faith” what you’re implying also is the idea that they are “faithful” “loyal” trustworthy”
unwaiveringly commited to the thing they have faith to.
But the term is also used as a noun simply to describe the christian “faith” or the Christian “religion”
We might say someone is “of the faith”
What we really mean is they are a Christian.
So Paul’s plea here as they’re standing in the arena, and Paul’s encouraging them to be patriotic for the gospel, united we stand, for the gospel,
He says contend together, play on the same team, for the faith—of the gospel.
I think the word has so much more nuance than merely “believing” in the gospel
Here in this context, and the way Paul is talking about it, they need to be united around “team jesus”
They need to be “loyal” to team jesus.
the team they are a part of is “the faith”
“team faith”
Philippians 1:28 NET 2nd ed.
and by not being intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of their destruction, but of your salvation—a sign which is from God.
And again in verse 28, paul is using words and terms you would see in sports
“Being intimidated” is same form of the word you would use to describe your horse getting spooked in a chariot race.
Paul says you’re standing in the arena, fighting for team Christ, this is how you cary on whether I come back or not, don’t get spooked by your enemies.
Every good sports movie in history, especially the underdog sports movies
has a scene where the team you’re supposed to be rooting for, the underdog team, they show up for the big game, or maybe it’s the night before the big game
and they finally get to see their opponents
And in the underdog sports movies, the opposing team always looks tough. they always look about 5 years older and 20 pounds bigger than the underdog team, they always look like they’ve been playing for way longer than the underdog team
that’s the point in the movie where the coach has to pull them aside and have the pep talk,
Don’t be afraid of those guys.
just like we practiced, come on.
This is a sign of their destruction/
What exactly is the sign of their desctruction?
it’s their ability to be united.
Their unity is what is going take down their enemies
but also it’s a sign of your salvation.
a Sign which is from God.
We don’t actually know at this point who or what the “opponents” of the church at philippi are.
we don’t know if he’s talking about people outside the church who are trying to disrupt things, we don’t know if it’s people inside the church
We don’t even know if Paul’s talking about people, or if he’s referencing the true enemy . The spiritual forces of the unsean realm, like we read about in Ephesians 6.
In some regard, it doesn’t really matter.
The point is, there is something opposing them, someone opposing them, and paul is placing them in the arena, ready to fight
and one thing you’ll notice through all of it, is that never once does paul say “you don’t actually have to fight”
“you don’t actually have to compete in this contest
the way paul is painting the picture here, he’s saying you’re already in the areana
your only hope is to be united.
Philippians 1:29 NET 2nd ed.
For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him,
It has been granted to you, as in it has been given to you as a gift.
it has been graced to you, by god,
Not only to believe—again that’s the word there for faith. I would argue that the english word “believe” only gives us about a fraction of what the word implies
-Not only to have faith…to be of the faith, to be faithful to God
-not only have you been granted the pleasure of having faith, but also
To suffer for him.
I’m going to be perfectly clear, on what Paul is saying to the church here in philippi
he’s saying that to suffer for Christ isn’t somethign bad that happens to you. It’s not a mere product of your circumstances
To suffer for Christ is an act of God’s grace
-it’t something that God has granted to you, he’s gifted to you.
Philippians 1:30 NET 2nd ed.
since you are encountering the same conflict that you saw me face and now hear that I am facing.
This is more sports imagry. The word there is sometimes translated as “contest” or “race” as in you are running the same race, you’re playing the same sport that you saw me face.
Here I think what we’re getting is combat. in the arena. Fighting the lion, fighting the gladiator, fighting the openent in a fist fight.
Paul says here I am, fighting the spiritual oponents in matial combat, and he says I recognize that you’re going through the same fight.
Conclusion So we take all of this. this word picture Paul is painting, and what do we do with it?
I think we can relate to the church here in a lot of ways.
we understand the idea of loyalty to our country. Every four years we watch the olympics, and we cheer for people we’ve never met in sports we’ve never watched. And we get emotionally invested in them. We have this connection with them, why? because they’ve got an american flag on their jersey.
And if you’re not big into the olympics, lets frame it this way.
Every saturday, in every city in nebraska in the fall, it’s Red and white husker gear everywhere.
-when I first moved here, it actually took me a couple of weeks before I realized that the big red N flag, wasn’t actually the official state flag of nebraska
I was actually dissapointed when I realized it was that lame blue whatever it is.
we understand that idea of team loyalty, and patriotism and the way it causes us to get emotional. It gives us this almost irrational sense of pride and honor to be able to rally with one another under this common cause.
Here, Paul is saying take that same pride, that same attitude, that same gut level loyalty and unity, now apply it to the faith
apply it to other christians.
cheer for other christians in the same way you cheer for the husker volleyball team.
train with other christians and build them up in the same way that olympic atheletes would, fighting for a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to win on the world’s stage .
because at the end of the day, they’re fighting the same fight.
they’re running the same race we are.
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