Philippians 1

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs.

Philippians 1

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and prayer
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.

Paul’s chains advance the gospel
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Life worthy of the gospel
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved – and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.


Paul and Timothy are writing to this church in Philippi. Sometimes when we read Paul’s letter’s in the New Testament his purpose is to correct error or theology, but this letter is simply written to encourage. It is warm, loving and personal in character. Paul is under house arrest and chained in Rome, awaiting trial and execution, despite this, Paul speaks of ‘Joy’ 16 times in the letter.

There are three things that Paul wants the church in Philippi to know.

  1. He has confidence in them (3, 6)
  2. He loves them. (5-7) Love being the supreme characteristic of the Christian life – not just a feeling but also a series of practical expressions.
  3. He is praying that they would grow in love (9-11) for God and each other.

Let me draw your attention verse 6:

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. (6)

Before his conversion, Paul was a Pharisee. As such he would have memorised the Hebrew Scriptures. This gives him a huge theological pool to draw from and make links with when writing to the churches. It’s not always clear to us in our translations, but when Paul writes ‘began, ‘good work’ and ‘completion’ it’s possible that he is referencing a story his readers would recognise and understand. The story of creation.

The Bible begins with a God who created everything: Light, solar systems, planets, oceans, mountains, rainforests.

And the Genesis account repeatedly shared what God thought about his work of creation. He says it was good. And then at the start of chapter 2 it says: Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

So, something that was begun, that is a good work, that is completed to the Jewish mind is a concept that comes from Genesis 1 and 2.

he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. (6)

He’s essentially saying that God who created everything, and brought the universe into being, that power, is at work in you.

The same power has been unleashed in you…

What if we actually believed this? What if we lived with the awareness of such power?

If you lived with an addiction?
If you felt your life was a little hopeless?

Yeah, that same power that breathes out stars - I could do with a little of that right now.

Perhaps you have a colleague or family member who is driving you mad and you are this close to physically harming them.

Paul says: When you said yes to God’s grace, when you heard about the new creation in Christ. His death and resurrection. You said yes to that power. The same God who began a that good work doesn’t start things that he doesn’t bring to completion…

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