Thursday, June 27, 2013

Philippians 1:19-26

While expecting to be released from prison (1:19), Paul has a larger expectation—to glorify Christ in whatever happens. His release is not a certainty. He expresses that in these verses. While he expects to gain his freedom, he has a greater expectation—“an earnest expectation and hope” (1:20).  The word expectation (apokaradokian) comes from the sports world (used only here and Romans 8:19). The word is made up of three words: “away, the head, to watch.”[1] It speaks of a spectator who stretches over a crowd to see the outcome of the event. His attention is directed toward one thing—the outcome. It means to anxiously watch with eager longing to confirm what is an uncertain outcome until it becomes a reality.[2] Gromacki says “Expectation is the outward manifestation of hope, whereas hope is the inward conviction of heart.”[3] Both are awaiting the outcome.

We tend to look at this expectation and hope as future outcome at the judgment seat of Christ. Certainly there is a future expectation and hope. However, the context shows this expectation is not some future event, but a daily expectation and hope with a daily outcome. It is a here and now expectation. This daily expectation is centered in Christ. The daily outcome is to glorify Christ. This daily expectation does three things: (1) It broadens the dimension of our circumstances. (2) It delivers us from preoccupation with others. (3) It calms our fears regarding ourselves and our future.[4]  Paul’s daily expectation and hope brings the following outcome:

He would not be ashamed—“that I will not be put to shame in anything” (1:20). Kent suggests this is a broad statement referring “to his appearance before the authorities for the final disposition of his case.”[5] This would surely be an expectation and hope in his current circumstances. Yet it points beyond that to not being put to shame in any circumstance. The word shame has the idea of being disgraced. This shame had nothing to do with public opinion but relates to his relationship and standing before God. The phrase “in anything” refers to all situations, good or bad. We are not to be ashamed of the gospel (Rom 1:16), nor of our identity with believers (2 Tim. 1:8) in any circumstance. The servant of Christ should be ashamed if his Lord is not gloried through him in every circumstance and situation.

With boldness magnify Christ—“[that] with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (1:20). The word exalted is the Greek word is megalyno which means to amplify or enlarge, thus to magnify or exalt. Wuest’s freely translates this “Christ shall be conspicuously and gloriously manifested.”[6] Gromacki gives the following features of magnifying Christ:[7]
  • It is a manner of boldness. This is a common element that Paul needed and wanted (Eph. 6:19-20; Heb. 10:19). Boldness (parresia) entails two elements which are closely connected: courage and freedom. An internal freedom from fear to act or speak with conviction and the courage to do so. It is manifested by witnessing to the love and grace of our Savior.
  • It is to be done consistently—“even now, as always.”
  • Its sphere is in the body—“in my body.” Compare this with Paul’s instruction in 1 Cor. 6:20: “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” Here body denotes the entire person. It speaks of our consecration.
  • The means of accomplishment—“whether by life or by death.”

It is a manner of Life and Death—(1:21-24). O’Brien points out that these verses have a series of parallels between the alternatives of life and death. He sets forth the structure as follows: [8]
                        21a – “For to me to live: Christ          (Life)
                        21b – “to die: gain                              (Death)
                        22  – ‘if I am to live on in the flesh”   (Life)
                        23  –  “to depart and be with Christ”             (Death)
                        24  –  “to remain in the flesh”             (Life)

These parallels bring out another element: internal conflict. This conflict is concisely noted by Paul--“for to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (1:21). The word “for” gives the explanation. He gives what the two elements of the conflict means: Life means Christ. Death means gain.  Paul sees this conflict of terms of a win-win situation. The words “to me” are emphatic. It is extremely personal for him. It carries the idea of “as far as I am concerned.” There are no losers by those who have this conflict. It is no doubt that both aspects of the conflict are viewed as a method of glorifying Christ.

There are two alternatives in bringing glory to God.
  • First, is to continue to live is Christ. In this epistle that means deriving strength from Christ (Phil. 4:13); to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5-11); to rejoice in Christ (Phil. 3:1; 4:4) while living on this earth. He describes what will result. To live means a continuing successful ministry—“[will mean] fruitful labor for me” (1:22).  This speaks of God’s blessing on his ministry. He will remain active in preaching and teaching the gospel. As a result God will bless in salvation and edification of more people. When one serves Christ and lives for Him, his “labor will not be in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
  • Second, is death, which he says will be gain. Death is not a loss for the believer, but a gain. The word gain (kerdos) means to profit, or have an advantage, thus gain. It means being in the presence of Christ (2 Cor. 5:8). Hendriksen points out that, “Death will be a distinct gain because it will be the gateway to clearer knowledge, more wholehearted service, more exuberant joy, more rapturous adoration, all of these brought to a focus in Christ.”[9] It is also gain because it brings release from this sinful body and limitations.

Paul is torn between the two—“I am hard-pressed from both [directions]” (1:23). The Greek word for hard-pressed is synechomai, when used of feelings indicates at the least constraint, and at worst torment. Silva says “we surely miss the real import of this passage if we fail to see in it an echo of Paul’s psychological ordeal.”[10] This was a real struggle for Paul. It was a struggle between desire and necessity. “Having a desire to depart and be with Christ, for [that] is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake” (Phil. 1:23-24). Personal desire gives way to necessity as it should. Fulfilling desire over necessity is selfish. Pentecost observes: “I find no selfishness in Paul’s heart that puts his own good above those to whom he is privileged to minister.”[11]

Paul’s conviction is that he would stay—“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again” (1:25-26). Confidence carries the idea of being persuaded in ones mind. He is confident that he has not finished his course, and he will continue on the course. The purpose of his continuing is (1) their progress in the faith, (2) their joy in the faith.

To be continued

[1]  Wuest,PHILIPPIANS, 43.
[2]  O’Brien, PHILIPPIANS, 113.
[3]  Gromacki, UNITED IN JOY, 63.
[5]  Homer A. Kent, Jr, EBC: PHILIPPIANS, 114.
[6]  Wuest’s, 44.
[7]  Gromacki, 65-66.
[8]  O’Brien, 117. Also Hawthorne, WBC: PHILIPPIANS, 44.
[9]  Hendriksen, NTC: PHILIPPIANS, 76.
[10]  Silva, PHILIPPIANS, 81.
[11]  J. Dwight Pentecost, THE JOY OF LIVING, 43-44.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


While most articles center upon modern commentaries, many have a tendency to overlook the older commentaries. Here are commentaries or works that are at least 20 years old. These works should not be overlooked by the student or Pastor. All of these are still in print and available.

While in this section these are not commentaries, they are valuable works in the study of the Gospels and the Life of Christ. They are not listed in any type of order.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JESUS THE MESSIAH, by Alfred Edersheim, a classic. Provides good historical background of the events of the Gospels and the Life of Christ. Edersheim had a grasp of the Talmud and sheds light on first century thought. It is available in print and on kindle.

A GUIDE TO THE GOSPELS, by W. Graham Scroggie. Barber says of this work: “Worth an entire shelf of books on the same subject.” He is correct. It has valuable information synthetically and analytically. One of the first books I reach for on the Gospels.

 CHRIST OF THE GOSPELS, J.W. Shepard. There have been newer and equal works, but none better. Great to use for homletical work.

THE TRAINING OF THE TWELVE by A.B. Bruce, a true classic. A study of Jesus and his disciples. An influential work for years. Bruce was a very good exegete. Every Pastor should read this book. It will help in dealing with people and making disciples. A must for every library.  

A HARMONY OF THE GOSPELS by A.T. Robertson. At one time it was a college standard text. It is still considered one of the best available. I have newer ones, but still prefer Robertson.

You will not be sorry you have these in your library. Do you have any other suggestions of older works on this subject that are not to be overlooked? 

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Acts 13 is a natural division in the Book of Acts. Acts is divided into two parts, the first part running to the end of chapter 12, and the second from chapter 13 to the end of the book. Up to chapter 12 the major area of the working of God was centered in Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. Up to this point Luke has dealt primarily with the renewed offer of the Kingdom to the nation Israel.[1] Now a major transition is seen. The ministry unto Israel becomes less and less, while the outreach to the Gentiles becomes prominent. Peter and the Twelve are no longer the center of attention. Paul is the new apostle of the Gentiles and his message of Grace becomes the center of attention. The rejection of the gospel of the kingdom by Israel becomes explicit—“since you [Israel] repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles” (13:46; cf. 18:6; 28:28). At this point, “partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles[2] has come in” (Rom. 11:25). Therefore Paul reaches out in the first journey to the Asia Minor. Marshall points out the importance of the event saying, “…it describes the first piece of planned ‘overseas mission’ carried out by representatives of a particular church, rather than by solitary individuals, and begun by a deliberate church decision, inspired by the Spirit, rather than somewhat more casually as a result of persecution.”[3]

[1]  J. Sidow Baxter, Grasp of the Bible, 307-311.
[2]  It is the author’s view is that this is not the same as the times of the Gentiles, which began in the days of Daniel. The fullness of the Gentiles is the present dispensation of Grace (or the Mystery) which will end at the rapture of the Church. At that point God will resume his dealing with Israel and all Israel will be saved, and the deliverer will come (Rom. 11:25-28).
[3]  Marshall, Acts, 228.

Thursday, June 13, 2013



In praying for the Philippians, Paul now turns to inform them of his own circumstances in the light of the gospel.  Paul is ministering under the most limited of circumstances. He opens the body of the letter with a “Closure form” informing them not only of the fact, but the effects of imprisonment.[1]  His freedom is limited, yet the gospel is unlimited.

There are two important principles in these verses:

The Gospel will Progress in Spite of Bad Circumstances (1:12-14).

Bad circumstances befall us all at one time or another. Paul’s current circumstances were not ideal by any means. As he opens the body of this letter, Paul leads off with and centers upon his own circumstances. He wants the Philippians to know certain things and calls attention to them right at the beginning. Why? First, to inform the readers of what is happening during this time of imprisonment. Second, to encourage them that those circumstances do not to hinder one with purpose. “Paul wishes in this section to reassure the Philippians that his imprisonment has not suppressed the work of the gospel” observes Silva.[2] He is still fulfilling his calling to preach the gospel of grace. “The word of God is not imprisoned” (2 Tim. 2:9), although he is. Chained between two guards 24 hours a day, Paul is confined, but not dejected.

It is not his suffering that he centers upon; but the sufficiency of God to use him to preach the gospel to his limited audience. The key word used in verse 12 is progress. Notice it is twice in this chapter of Philippians: here and verse 25. Here it is used in the context of the gospel; the gospel of grace was progressing in Rome and the palace of Caesar. In verse 25 it speaks of progress in the Philippian’s lives. The word is prokope in the Greek, meaning to advance in a journey, furtherance, or progress. There are evidently two backgrounds which the word pictures: First, a military one in which the troops advance through rough terrain by removing barriers. Second, the word is used by Greek philosophers as a catchword for the difficult path to wisdom.[3] The word clearly indicates advancement in spite of difficulty or circumstances. It is a word that speaks of overcoming the difficulty and advancing through it.

So that” (v. 13) indicates results. These results were twofold: First, “my imprisonment in [the cause] of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else” (v.13). The stress is on Paul’s imprisonment, which became wellknown as a result. Paul's relationship to Christ, not just his service for Christ, was what had
became known. He is not chained because of a crime, but because of his preaching Christ. There are two great truths that Paul knows and communicates to the Philippians: (1) God is in every circumstance; (2) Every circumstance is an opportunity to minister.

Second, that he ministered where he was, and results are known. Ministry is to take place where we are in spite of the circumstances that exist. It is not clear if the phrase “praetorian guard” refers to the solders or the palace. The praetorian guard was a place. In all likelihood it refers to the guards themselves. In Acts it indicates that Paul was kept in his own hired house, not the location known as the praetorian guard (cf. Acts 28:30-31). Paul was chained to two guards 24 hours a day. A.T. Robertson tells us: "There were originally ten thousand of these picked soldiers, concentrated in Rome by Tiberius. They had double pay and special privileges and became so powerful that emperors had to court their favor. Paul had contact with one after another of these soldiers."[4] How many of them were chained to him in two years of imprisonment is unknown.[5] It can be said it was a significant number so that his message was known among the whole guard.

Third, it had resulted in an aggressive witness by believers. Paul’s example was an encouragement to others to stand for the gospel. The way we act in times of troubling circumstances has an influence on others. This is an additional result from Paul’s imprisonment as indicated by the word “and,” connecting verses 13 and 14. Because of Paul’s imprisonment, believers “have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear” (1:14). One cannot arrest the spread of the gospel. Instead of discouraging the witness of God’s people, Paul being in bonds is an encourager of their witness. Interestingly, the word speak does not mean preach. The Greek word is laleo and means primarily to make vocal utterance, to talk, to hold conversation. It can take on the aspect of preaching, but that is not its primary meaning. Most witnessing is done through conversation rather than through preaching. The word is a present active infinitive, indicating that their bold speaking out for Christ lasted throughout the Apostle’s imprisonment.[6] One purpose for the difficult circumstances and suffering is to increase effective testimony and witness of the gospel.

The Gospel will Progress in Spite of Bad Motives (1:15-18)

As one turns to these verses, it should be notice that Paul now goes beyond speaking by believers to preaching by preachers. The word for preach is not the same as the word speak. The word used here is the Greek word kerysso, from the word keryx (a herald or a preacher), meaning to proclaim publicly as a herald or a preacher.  Second, special notice should be taken that these preachers are NOT preaching false doctrine, but preaching truth from bad motives. They are “preaching Christ,” that cannot be questioned. For Paul the preaching of Christ is key. This would include and center upon His crucifixion (1 Cor. 1:23; Gal. 5:11) and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:11-12, 14). The problem is not the material they are preaching, but the manner in which they are preaching.

In this section, Paul is contrasting two classes of preachers. One does so out of bad or faulty motives, others from pure motives. Note the double use of the word “some.” Some are on one side, and some are on the other. He thus describes good and bad motives: 

Bad Motives (1:15a-16)

The group with bad motives exhibits six features:
  • They preach “even from envy and strife” (1:15). The word translated even in our text is dia, which is normally translated “because of.” The first listed is envy (phthonon).  This is not simply wanting what someone has, but “the concern was more to deprive the other person of the desired thing than to gain it.”[7] It is one of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:21 cf. Rom. 1:29). They may have been envious of Paul’s popularity and wanted to draw attention to themselves and away from Paul.
  • Second, is strife. (1:15). The Greek word is erin, meaning strife or contention. It speaks of having a contentious or disputing spirit. It is the outward effort to outdo the object of envy It likewise is the work of the flesh (Gal. 5:20). We are to avoid such motives (Rom. 13:13).
  • Third, is “selfish ambition” (1:17). The Greek word is eritheias, which is related to erin, also meaning contention. However, this word takes it to a higher and more personal level. It is not just a disputing spirit, but indicates a self-seeking partisanship; a factious, selfish spirit. While strife is an effort to outdo the object of envy, contention or selfish ambition is the effort to outdo the other for self-serving results. 
  • Fourth, without “pure motives,” or better “not sincerely” (KJV, NIV). The Greek word is hagnos with a negative.  It is where we get the word holy, and means pure, undefiled, and guiltless. It speaks of impure motives. It speaks of  not being free of ulterior motives. They preach out of motives that uplifted their own reputation, not Christ.
  • Fifth, from wrong intentions. Their intention was to aggravate or cause distress to Paul. The Greek word for distress (thlipsin) means friction. The term distress makes the image of the aggravation of rubbing of the iron chains against the skin. The phrase “to cause me distress in my imprisonment” (1:16) identifies that their wrong sprit or motives were directed against Paul. People often try to invoke jealousy and cause a split among the brethren. This was experienced even between John the Baptist and Jesus (cf. John 3:22-29). 
  • Sixth, is pretense (1:18). The Greek word prophasis is that which is put forward to hide the true state of things; a pretext, “in order to cover one’s real intent.”[8] It is pretending to do one thing, but in reality doing another.

Good Motives (1:15b, 17).

In contrast to those preaching with bad motives, are some who preached from pure motives. What is not clear is which group is the majority. These two groups are found among every group of Preachers. Pure motives involve:

  • First, they are motivated by “goodwill” (1:15b). This phrase is somewhat controversial. The Greek word is eudokia meaning favor, good pleasure or intention and speaks of that which brings pleasure to another or to oneself. It can be used of goodwill of men, or it can have a Godward reference denoting divine pleasure. The Rabbis used it for “divine good pleasure.”[9] The word is used mostly in reference to God. However, most take it here as goodwill toward men, i.e. for their benefit. Can it be said that both ideas are present here? Is not the preaching of the gospel out of God’s goodwill for man’s goodwill? The concern of the preacher is for the goodwill of man because of the goodwill of God.
  • Second, they do so in love (1:16). Interestingly, love here in this context indicates the love is directed toward Paul. In other words, they are preaching the gospel out of love for Paul. Some may question the motive here. However, love for the brethren reflects the love of Christ (cf. Gal. 5:13; 2 Cor. 5:14). Paul evidently was their motivator and mentor (should he not be ours?).
  • The third great motive in preaching is truth (1:18). Truth acts as both motivation and content in the gospel.

The Conclusion (1:18).

This gives Paul’s reaction and analysis all of this. “What then?” (1:18) reflects his conclusion. In this conclusion he lays aside any problems that they were causing him (1:18 cf. Rom. 15:3). His conclusions are twofold: First, in spite of motives, Christ was preached. Again this emphasizes that the matter did not involve false doctrine. While some try to identify these as Judaizers, but they are not. Judaizers preached a false gospel (cf. 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 1:6-9). There is no evidence that those preaching were preaching a false gospel. Paul is not condoning doctrinal error. To Paul motivation whether “in pretense or truth,” is secondary to the fact that Christ is preached.” This does not mean that he is putting a premium upon pretense. He is simply stating the fact that the grain of truth can overcome any inaccuracy of the preacher. Preaching of Christ is what matters. Second, in the preaching of Christ, he proclaims “I rejoice.”  He was thrilled that Christ was being preached.

[1]  O’Brien, PHILIPPIANS, 86.
[2]  Silva, PHILIPPIANS, 66-67.
[3]  Bob Utley, LETTERS FROM PRISON, 175.
[4]  A.T. Robertson, WORD PICTURES, 4:438.
[5]  However, Gromacki, STAND UNITED IN JOY, 54, estimates 3,000 guards in a two year period, assuming no one guarded him more than once.
[6]  Gromacki, 55.
[7]  O’Brien, 99.
[9]  O’Brien, 99-100.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


By John D. Harvey, Kregel Academic, Grand Rapids, 2012

This is the first of a series on interpreting the New Testament. In addition to the Pauline letters there will be one on Apocalyptic Literature, Gospels and Acts, and the General letters.

Harvey does a good job on the Epistles of Paul and adds a good persprctive to their understanding. There are five features of this work that I like:
  1. It guides the reader from background, interpretation, to application from text to sermon.
  2. Each chapter begins with a overview, and ends with a conclusion of the chapter.  This aids the reader in knowing where the chapter is going and where it has been with a brief conclusion.
  3. There are very usable charts within the chapters that are understandable.
  4. Interspersed in the chapters are listed sources for the reader to consult. For example on translation of the text he gives a number of sources including Greek text, lexicons, and even software.  At the end he list his bibliography in an unusual way—instead of one long lists, he breaks it down into sections, such as: Editions of Greek New Testament, Resources for Textual Criticism, New Testament Commentary Series, Commentaries on Paul’s Epistles, with each book listed and resources listed under each book. I find this refreshing and easy to use. However, his bibliography is somewhat limited, and is one weakness of the book.
  5. He also has a glossary at the end for terms an average reader may not understand.

As to the content of the book, I found it reader friendly and easily understandable. He upholds a high view of Scripture. While I enjoyed the book, there were some areas that I found especially worthy: The chapter on The Genre of Paul’s Letters gave me a better understanding of Paul and his epistles in the light of first century communication. His chapter on The Theology of Paul’s Letters centers upon the overall idea of two spheres of human existence—“In Adam” and “In Christ.” For Paul, faith is the means of transferring from one sphere to the other. Then, the chapter on From Text to Sermon should be read by every Pastor. It gives great examples of how to handle the Biblical text for sermons. His guidance is very helpful on how to integrate interpretation into hermetical usefulness. 

This book will be a valuable addition to any library.

 [Thanks to Kregel for providing a free copy of this book for my honest review.] 

Moo's advice on the Use of Commentaries

Douglas Moo just did a blog on writing of commentaries. He knows, since he seems to continually be working on one and having them publish. You will find the complete blog at

However, I would like to share part of it. It is sound advise on using Commentaries.

"If the ministry of commentaries is important for the church, how can we best utilize this resource? A quick Google search on”commentaries on John” turns up a bewilderingly long list. Which commentaries should we use? First, use more than one. The very best commentator who has ever written made all kinds of mistakes. Comparing commentaries reveals these errors. Second, use commentaries from different times and cultures. John Chrysostom in the ancient church and John Calvin at the time of the Reformation still have a lot to teach us. And we are blessed to live in a time when more and more commentaries are being written by scholars from different parts of the world. Reading commentaries distant from us in time or culture can help reveal our own biases. Third, read commentaries from different theological traditions. We may not agree with everything such commentators say, but they help us think better about the text and why we believe what we do about it. Finally, use different levels of commentaries. Commentaries vary from massive scholarly tomes that require a lot of dedication to plow through to brief, often superficial reflections on the text. Our tendency is to be content to read the easy ones. But it is good to challenge ourselves sometimes with more detailed commentaries. It pays rich dividends in getting us to think more deeply about Scripture."