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Christogenea Internet Radio, Friday January 8th, 2015. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians Part 1: Contending for the Faith
The city of Philippi was established and named after Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. From Diodorus Siculus' Library of History, Book 16, chapter 8, while writing of the time of the Social War between the Athenians and various other Greek states, we read thus:
1 About the same time Philip, king of the Macedonians, who had been victorious over the Illyrians in a great battle and had made subject all the people who dwelt there as far as the lake called Lychnitis, now returned to Macedonia, having arranged a noteworthy peace with the Illyrians and won great acclaim among the Macedonians for the success due to his valour. 2 Thereupon, finding that the people of Amphipolis were ill-disposed toward him and offered many pretexts for war, he entered upon a campaign against them with a considerable force. By bringing siege-engines against the walls and launching severe and continuous assaults, he succeeded in breaching a portion of the wall with his battering rams, whereupon, having entered the city through the breach and struck down many of his opponents, he obtained the mastery of the city and exiled those who were disaffected toward him, but treated the rest considerately. 3 Since this city was favourably situated with regard to Thrace and the neighbouring regions, it contributed greatly to the aggrandizement of Philip. Indeed he immediately reduced Pydna, and made an alliance with the Olynthians in the terms of which he agreed to take over for them Potidaea, a city which the Olynthians had set their hearts on possessing. 4 Since the Olynthians inhabited an important city and because of its huge population had great influence in war, their city was an object of contention for those who sought to extend their supremacy. For this reason the Athenians and Philip were rivals against one another for the alliance with the Olynthians. 5 However that may be, Philip, when he had forced Potidaea to surrender, led the Athenian garrison out of the city and, treating it considerately, sent it back to Athens — for he was particularly solicitous toward the people of Athens on account of the importance and repute of their city — but, having sold the inhabitants into slavery, he handed it over to the Olynthians, presenting them also at the same time with all the properties in the territory of Potidaea. 6 After this he went to the city of Crenides, and having increased its size with a large number of inhabitants, changed its name to Philippi, giving it his own name, and then, turning to the gold mines in its territory, which were very scanty and insignificant, he increased their output so much by his improvements that they could bring him a revenue of more than a thousand talents. 7 And because from these mines he had soon amassed a fortune, with the abundance of money he raised the Macedonian kingdom higher and higher to a greatly superior position, for with the gold coins which he struck, which came to be known from name as Philippeioi, he organized a large force of mercenaries, and by using these coins for bribes induced many Greeks to become betrayers of their native lands. But concerning these matters the several events, when recorded, will explain everything in detail, and we shall now shift our account back to the events in the order of their occurrence.
We have seen from our studies of Paul's epistle to the Romans and other historical studies at Christogenea, such as Classical Records of Trojan-Roman-Judah, that the Romans were indeed of the so-called “lost” tribes of the Old Testament children of Israel. According to all ancient accounts, the Illyrians, like the Romans, are also descended from the Trojans. A district of Illyria was named for the Dardans, the Trojan descendants of Darda, and Strabo tells us that in his time there was still a tribe of the Illyrians called Dardans (Geography, 7.5.6-7). According to the Byzantine historian Procopius, the emperor Justinian was of the tribe of Dardans found among the Illyrians to his day, which was the early 6th century AD. The Illyrians are also connected to the Phoenicians, as Cadmus the Phoenician, the legendary founder and king of Thebes, who was also said to have once been the king of the Illyrians. In ancient accounts, both the Cilicians and the Carians, tribes which were considered to have been Phoenician in origin, took their kings from the princes of the Trojans and were closely connected to the Trojans. The origin of the Makedonians, however, is even more obscure, and continually debated by modern historians.
Early Greek legends fabulously link the Macedonians to an eponymous Makedon, a son of Osiris, which suggests a nostalgic connection with ancient Egypt. The Macedonian kings were said to be descendants of Heracles, which, like the Greeks of Thebes, Thessaly and elsewhere, also gives them a connection to the Phoenicians. Early historians such as Herodotus and Thucydides connect the royal dynasty of the Macedonians from which Philip and Alexander had descended to the Danaan Greeks of Argos, and the establishment of the kingdom of Macedon from these in what we may reckon as the 9th century BC. Diodorus Siculus explains that a historical Caranus had made an expedition from the Peloponnesus and was “the first to unite the power of Macedon and to hold it”, reckoning that time to have preceded the ascension of Alexander the Great by 480 years, which would place him and the founding of the Macedonian kingdom in the very late 9th century BC. (Library of History, 7.15.3)
There are no references to Macedonia in the writings of Homer or the other early Greek epic poets, who wrote of the events of earlier times, and therefore the accounts of later historians concerning the founding of the Kingdom of Makedonia by Argives from the Peloponnesus seem to be credible. The early records also show that the Illyrians had a hand in helping the establishment of the kingdom of Macedon, and both Illyrian and Thracian tribes were incorporated into it at an early time.
After its establishment by Philip of Macedon, Philippi developed into a notable city-state which had endured for nearly 200 years, until 168 BC when the Romans, conquering the Macedonians, divided it into four separate states, and the city survived but seems to have fallen into relative obscurity. However after the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, where Octavian and Antony had defeated the forces of Brutus and Cassius, Octavian retired some of his forces to Philippi, which increased its population, and established the city as a colony. It was customary for retired Roman soldiers to be given grants of land either in Italy or in conquered provinces as a sort of pension for their services. Twelve years later, in another civil war, after the Battle of Actium and the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra by Octavian, the colony at Philippi was reorganized and expanded with grants to other Roman army veterans. We can safely imagine that the city had a mixed Macedonian Greek and Roman population in the New Testament period. At Acts 16:12 Philippi is called “the first city of the district of Makedonia, a colony”. At that time the Roman status of colony was a political designation which elevated the status of a city, and was not necessarily a mere settlement of newcomers. Although we have seen that many Roman soldiers were retired and settled there, there are no records that the original population was dispossessed. As a colony, the residents of Philippi were granted Roman citizenship, and were placed under the municipal law of Rome. The city was governed by military officers who were appointed by Rome. This was the government under which Paul and Silas were arrested, as it is described in Acts chapter 16.
As it is recorded in Acts chapter 16, Paul of Tarsus was beckoned by the Spirit to go to Macedonia before preaching the gospel in Asia (where he had later established many assemblies), and therefore boarding a ship in the Troad he landed in Philippi. This is where Paul and those with him had met Lydia, the woman from Thuateira who was a merchant of purple cloth. We believe that the leading of Paul to Macedonia before he could preach in Asia, as well as his encounter with Lydia, was both in fulfillment of certain prophecy and a prophetic statement in itself. While Lydia was from Thuateira, which was also a city of Asia (meaning Asia Minor, the westernmost district of Anatolia), she is selling purple cloth in Macedonia. Purple cloth, although it had other decorative uses, was the color of royalty from the most ancient times. It is our opinion that Paul was summoned to Macedonia – where from Romans Chapter 15 we learn that he also went into Illyria – because many of the descendants of the dispersed Dardans, who were the Trojans of old, were living in those areas. Therefore, since the Dardans were largely descended from the royal tribe of Judah, Lydia’s purple cloth seems to be a prophetic hint that Yahweh summoned Paul to Macedon before he could preach in Asia in order to display the truth of the prophecy that He would “save the tents of Judah first”, which is found in Zechariah chapter 12. So many of the Makedonians and Illyrians had the opportunity to hear the Gospel before Paul established any of the more illustrious Christian assemblies among the Greeks.
It was at Philippi that Paul cast the demon of the Python out of a woman, and along with Silas he was beaten and thrown into jail for it, being released the next day, as it is described in Acts chapter 16. In that chapter of Acts, Luke writes in the first person plural, as he was in Paul's company in Philippi. However at the end of the chapter we see that Paul and Silas had left Philippi without Luke, where Luke writes of them in the third person and says “40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.” We are persuaded that since Luke does not mention seeing Paul again until Acts chapter 20, that Luke had remained with Lydia in Philippi for several years, as many as eight or nine years, from the events recorded in Acts 16 up to the time when Luke left Philippi to meet Paul and the others in the Troad, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 20, verses 4 through 6.
So apparently Luke remained in Philippi during the time of Paul's ministries in Corinth and Ephesus, and all of his other travels, which upon describing Luke always used the third person forms of verbs and pronouns to describe Paul's activities (i.e. he and them). But while Luke was with Paul, as in Acts chapter 16 and then later from Acts chapter 20 and onwards, Luke frequently used first person forms of verbs and pronouns to describe their activities (i.e. we and us). In the chapters where Luke was with Paul, he typically describes their activities in much greater detail. So we have only 3 chapters, Acts 17 through 19, describing Paul's ministries in Corinth and Ephesus and his several journeys to Macedonia and Jerusalem and Antioch, all of which spanned from about 49 AD to 57 AD. But we have 9 chapters where Luke is with Paul, describing the important events of his ministry from the time Luke reunited with him in the Troad, through his arrest and arrival in Rome, which took place from early 57 AD to 60 AD. This also helps to establish our assertion. Luke was with Paul from the time that he met him in Antioch, and during the events recorded in Acts chapters 15 and 16. Then Luke was with Paul from Acts chapter 20 through the end of Paul's ministry and Acts chapter 28. But Luke was in Philippi, and not with Paul, during the time recorded in Acts chapters 17 through 19, which was actually a considerable period. We may conjecture, that Luke having spent so many years in Philippi at this time, the majority of his accounts in Scripture, both the Gospel of Luke and the early chapters of the Book of Acts, at least through chapter 16, may have been written there.
As we explain in an article at Christogenea titled Ordering and chronology of the Epistles of Paul, prior to his arrest in Jerusalem the apostle had already written eight of his 14 surviving epistles. These would include 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 Corinthians, Titus, 1 Timothy, 2 Corinthians and Romans, in that order. Of the remaining 6 epistles, all written while he was a prisoner, one seems to have been written while Paul was under arrest in Caesareia, which is Hebrews. We will further establish that assertion when we present that epistle, God willing, some time on this program in the not-so-distant future. The first two epistles written by Paul from Rome and before Timothy had joined him there are Ephesians and then 2 Timothy, in that order. In 2 Timothy, we see Paul request that Timothy come to him in Rome. The remaining 3 epistles, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, were all written from Rome after Timothy had joined him, and shortly before his execution which he was already anticipating as he wrote 2 Timothy.
Timothy was mentioned as being partner with Paul in the writing of this epistle, as well as the others which were written at this time, which are Colossians and Philemon. The epistle to the Colossians reveals that another epistle was also written at this time which is now missing, and which was addressed to the Laodiceans. Earlier, before Paul's arrest, Timothy was with Paul in Nicopolis where Paul had written his second epistle to the Corinthians, and Timothy was attributed as a partner in the message of that epistle. With the exception of Romans, wherever Timothy is with Paul near the end of his career, Paul addresses his epistles as being from himself and Timothy. We believe that doing this, Paul is associating Timothy with himself in his ministry, and is indicating to us that Timothy is seen by Paul as both an equal partner and the heir to his ministry, although that is never stated explicitly. Yahweh God be willing, we shall discuss this at a greater extent when we make our presentation of 2 Timothy later in this series.
The ancient manuscript sources for the epistle to the Philippians are the 3rd, or perhaps 4th, century papyrus P16, in which are preserved large portions of chapters 3 and 4, the 3rd century papyrus P46 in which most of the text was preserved, the 4th century Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Vaticanus (B), the 5th century Codices Alexandrinus (A), Ephraemi Syri (C), Claromontanus (D 06) and Freerianus (I 016), the 5th century Uncial 048 and the 6th century Uncial 0282. With this, we shall commence with our presentation of Paul's epistle to the Philippians.
1 Paul, and Timotheos, bondmen of Christ Yahshua, to all the saints among the number of Christ Yahshua who are in Philippos, along with the supervisors and ministers:
Rather than Philippi, as it is known from its Latin form, when making the Christogenea New Testament translation we chose to transliterate the Greek form of the name Philippos, which was the original name of the city. The word means lover of horses, and it was a common Greek name. It was also the name of one of the twelve original apostles and the later Philip who was called the Evangelist.
The word for bondman is which is δοῦλος (Strong's # 1401), which was properly an involuntary servant or slave. According to Liddell & Scott, a δοῦλος was originally one who was born as a bondman or slave.
The Greek word ἐπίσκοπος (Strong's # 1985) is supervisor here. The word is “one who watches over, an overseer, guardian” (Liddell & Scott) and it is the Greek equivalent of the Latin word supervidere which also means to oversee, and is the word from which the English word supervisor was derived. The Greek word ἐπίσκοπος was adopted into Medieval Latin as ebiscopus, from which our English church word bishop was ultimately made. But here we chose to translate the word ἐπίσκοπος literally, so as to avoid any endorsement of the man-made church hierarchy which words such as bishop now represent.
Although διάκονος (Strong's # 1249) is minister here, which is also a Latin word, the word minister should be understood as a servant to the assembly, as the word is literally a servant. The original meaning of minister as a verb in English is to attend to the needs of someone. The King James Version has deacon here, which is quite dishonest since it usually translates the word διάκονος as minister. As we have often said, the translation of that version was engineered so as to make the Anglican church hierarchy appear to be legitimate, and, God willing, we shall address that issue at greater length when we have the occasion to discuss 1 Timothy. The word ἐπίσκοπος appears elsewhere in Paul's letters only at 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:7, elsewhere in the New Testament only at 1 Peter 2:25, and it is always supervisor or overseer in the Christogenea New Testament. The word διάκονος is frequent in Paul, where sometimes we have minister and sometimes servant. [διάκονος is servant at Romans 13:4, 16:1; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6, 6:4, 11:23; Ephesians 3:7, 6:21; Colossians 1:7, 23, 25, and 4:7. It is minister at Romans 15:8; 2 Corinthians 11:15; Galatians 2:17; Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Timothy 3:8, 12, and 4:6.]
In part 2 of our presentation of Acts chapter 16 given here in October of 2013, we explained that the year in which Paul, Silas and Luke first arrived in Philippi was either 47 or 48 AD. Now upon Paul's writing this epistle, it is perhaps 61 or 62 AD. In Acts chapter 16, we see Paul encounter a small group of women gathered at a river for prayer on the Sabbath. As Luke had recorded it: “13 And on the day of the Sabbaths we departed outside of the gate by the river, which we supposed to be for prayer, and sitting we spoke to the women gathered there.” This statement reveals the following facts: first, that Lydia and her women-friends were Judaeans, or they would not have had such a custom of gathering by a river on the Sabbath to pray, which was a Hebrew custom as early as the days of Ezekiel and which is also evident in Judaea as so many people gathered to the river to see John the Baptist on the Sabbaths. Then secondly, there was no Judaean synagogue in Philippi, so the Judaean population of the city was probably not very large. If there were such a synagogue, the women may have been found there on the Sabbath, as well as Paul and his companions.
Therefore, in 15 years we see that the assembly of Christians in Philippi has grown from the household of Lydia and the other women who were with her when they were first encountered by Paul, into a multitude numerous enough to require several overseers and ministers to serve it. The family of the jailer and perhaps some of the other prisoners of Acts chapter 16 must also be considered. In Acts chapters 18 and 19 we see that Timothy, Silas and Erastos had all ministered in Macedonia as Paul was working elsewhere, and undoubtedly the city of Philippi was included in their travels. However Luke and others may also have had a hand in this growth of the Christian assemblies there. The records which may be gleaned from the Book of Acts and Paul's epistles are fragmentary, and only careful conjecture can fill in some of the blanks.
2 Favor to you, and peace from Yahweh our Father and Prince Yahshua Christ.
As the heavenly multitude is portrayed as having said in Luke 2:14: “Honor to Yahweh in the heights, and peace upon the earth among approved men.”
The Codex Claromontanus (D) has verse 3 to read: “Indeed I thank our Prince upon every mention of you”. Here we shall proceed with the text:
3 I thank my God upon every mention of you, 4 always in my every supplication, making supplication with joy on behalf of you all 5 for your partnership in the good message; from the first day until now 6 being persuaded of this very thing: that he who begins a good work among you will discharge it until the day of Christ Yahshua.
The reference to partnership in the Gospel indicates that the Christian having accepted the Gospel should become an active partaker in its message, and not merely a passive recipient of its hope; a doer of the Word, as James tells us in his epistle, and not merely a hearer of the Word. Paul's meaning in verse 6 seems to be that good deeds performed by Christians become habitual, and have an eternal effect, an effect which is referred to in the Gospel as the storing up of treasure in heaven. Where Paul refers to “the first day” he must be recollecting the events of Acts chapter 16, that he had been impressed by the faith and good works of these Christians in Philippi from that very time.
7 Just as it is righteous for me to think this concerning all of you, because for you to have me in heart, both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the good message, you are all joint-partakers of my favor.
The Philippians must have been aware that Paul was held a prisoner in Rome, and that he was about to undergo the trial of defending the faith. That Paul was in their prayers was a source of encouragement to him in his trials. Here we may also conclude that Paul must have received some correspondence from the Christians of Philippi, to which he is now responding.
In chapter 4 of his first epistle, Peter speaks of Christians put to the trials of this world thusly: “13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” Here Paul tells the Christians of Philippi likewise, of himself, and this should be a model for all Christians, that we should help one another through suffering, and we shall be partakers with one another in times of joy and favor. If we have a common origin, we should realize that we have a common destiny, and act accordingly.
8 For my witness is Yahweh [P46 has “For God is witness”], that I yearn for you all in the affections of Christ Yahshua.
The Greek word σπλάγχνον is literally bowels, as the King James Version has it here, but metaphorically it is affections, as the ancient Greeks saw the bowels as the source of feelings and affections (see Liddell & Scott, σπλάγχνον). Paul yearned, or longed, for the Philippians in the sense of desiring fellowship with them once again.
9 And this I pray, that your love would still more and more abound in knowledge and in all understanding, 10 for you to examine those things that differ, in order that you would be pure [or “sincere”] and not stumbling unto the day of Christ, 11 being filled with fruit of righteousness which is through Yahshua Christ, for the honor and praise of Yahweh.
Rather than “for you to examine those things that differ” the King James Version has “that ye may approve things that are excellent”, however our rendering is perfectly literal. The final verb, διαφέρω (Strong's # 1308) means to differ. The first verb, δοκιμάζω (Strong's # 1381) may mean to approve in some contexts, but more literally means to test, scrutinize or examine. The difference in translation is not a small one. The organized churches historically expected the people to approve of their decrees. The apostles insisted that the people study for themselves and learn through the Word of God what it is that they should accept or reject. The verb διαφέρω does not mean excellent.
We read in chapter 2 of the Wisdom of Sirach: “16 They that fear the Lord will seek that which is well, pleasing unto him; and they that love him shall be filled with the law.” Likewise, in Proverbs chapter 1 we read: “22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.”
So we see that with the Spirit of God the words of the law of God are revealed unto men. So Paul explained in 2 Corinthians chapter 3 that a veil covered the law, but that the veil was lifted when one turned to Christ. As Paul had taught in Romans, the law is spiritual. Here we see that the Proverb says “I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you”, and we see that those with the Spirit of God can understand the law of God, because it is spiritual. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 Paul had admonished his readers: “19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise expounding of scripture, 21 but scrutinize all things. Hold fast that which is right. 22 Abstain from every sort of wickedness.”
To scrutinize all things and hold fast that which is right, one must understand the words of the law. To examine the things that differ, one must turn to the law, and by that one may be able to measure what differs from the law, and hold fast to that which is right. The significant example is in Acts chapter 17 and Paul's experience in Beroia: “10 Then the brethren forthwith sent off Paul and Silas by night to Beroia, who departed arriving in the assembly hall of the Judaeans. 11 These were of more noble a race than those in Thessalonika, who accepted the Word with all eagerness, each day examining the writings, if these things would hold thusly.”
12 Now I wish you to know, brethren, that those things concerning me have gone still more to the advancement of the good message, 13 so that my bonds in Christ have become manifest to the whole Praetorium and to all the rest;
The Praetorium at Rome was the place where the official business of the emperor was conducted, and this is where Paul's case would have been heard. Here Paul informs his readers that he has already defended the Faith in Christ before Caesar in Rome. The epistle to the Ephesians is the first of Paul's surviving epistles which was written while he was captive in Rome, and it is evident that he still looked forward to standing before Caesar, so he had asked the Ephesians to pray for him. We find this in Ephesians chapter 6, where he encourages them to be: “18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
The next epistle Paul had written was 2 Timothy, and we see that he did already stand before Caesar, and expected to once again, where while discussing the whereabouts of the various people who had been associated with his ministry he says in the closing verses of that epistle that “16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.”
Now, writing this epistle to the Philippians, Timothy has joined Paul as he was requested to in 2 Timothy, and Paul once again makes a reference to his defense before Caesar. But we cannot be entirely certain at this point if he is describing that first defense which he mentions in 2 Timothy, or if there has already been another.
14 and most of the brethren among the number of the Prince, trusting in my bonds, venture more exceedingly to speak the word of Yahweh [P46 and the MT want the word for “of Yahweh”] fearlessly.
Here Paul leaves an example which Christians should follow to this day: to speak the truth of the message of the gospel without fear. Paul's defense of the faith before Caesar Nero must have made a spectacle, and caused much subsequent discussion outside of the Praetorium. This must have encouraged other Christians to defend the faith openly outside of the Praetorium.
The NA27, following P46 and the MT, has verse 14 to end “to speak the word of Yahweh fearlessly”, wanting the phrase “of God”; the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Claromontanus (D) and Uncial 048 (also known as the Codex Vaticanus Graecus 2061).
Next Paul describes two types of people declaring the Gospel in Rome as a result of his defense before the emperor, but note that they are both declaring the Gospel, and whether for better or for worse Paul considers that to be a positive circumstance.
15 Some indeed even because of envy and strife, but some also by approval are proclaiming the Christ.
Here Paul seems to be telling his readers that the enemies of Christ help prove that the gospel is true. Even the historical enemies of Christ, mocking and blaspheming Him, had never denied His existence or the fact that He had suffered crucifixion on the day before the Passover. The passages concerning Christ in the Talmud also mock his mother, Mary, contend that He was of illegitimate birth, claim that He was a sorcerer, a conjurer and a magician, complain that He was worshipped as God after His death. Talmudic literature has contained many such disparaging passages concerning Christ since the earliest times, for which reason Christians began to seek censorship of the Talmud from the times of Justinian. The writings concerning Christ found in the Talmud, while they mock and blaspheme Him, help to prove that the Gospel is true once we understand the nature of those who wrote them. So it was with Paul, that those who spoke of Christ with hostility in Rome nevertheless helped to prove that the Gospel is true.
16 Surely these out of love, knowing that I am set for a defense of the good message, 17 but those out of contention are declaring the Christ not purely, supposing to stir up tribulation in my bonds.
The Majority Text has the last phrase of verse 17 to read “the MT has “supposing to add tribulation to my bonds.” But the Majority Text has also inverted the Greek text of verses 16 and 17, the result being evident in the King James Version. The text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Claromontanus (D 06) and Vaticanus Graecus 2061 (048).
Here Paul describes his opponents in Rome as provocateurs, who would repeat the elements of the Gospel in a way so as to invite the further persecution of true Christians rather than out of any care for the Faith. Like the Talmudic writings, this testimony also displays the fact that even from the very beginning, the enemies of Christ could not directly deny Him. They may have misrepresented the facts of the Gospel, but were nevertheless admitting them to be true. By their not directly denying Christ, we can determine that the Gospel is true.
18 What then? That in every way, whether in pretext or in truth, Christ is declared, and in this I rejoice. And surely I will rejoice.
The enemies of Christ opposed His nature, but not His existence. They argued with the how and the why of the events described in the Gospel, and they debated the status that Christians assigned to Him, but they could not deny the actual facts themselves which had been attested by so many witnesses. So even when the enemies of Christ argued against the Gospel, they proved that it was true.
It is only modern scoffers who have come to directly denying the existence of Christ, out of their own historical ignorance and exploitation of the ignorance of others. This was not, however, the case in antiquity.
19 For I know that this for me will result in preservation, through your supplication and the additional fortune of the Spirit of Yahshua Christ 20 in accordance with my eager expectation and hope, seeing that in nothing shall I be ashamed, but with all freespokenness - as always - even now Christ shall be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
Further on in this discourse, in verse 25, Paul reveals that the preservation of which he speaks here is that of his own life, for which he is confident that he will not be executed as a result of his defense of the faith before the emperor. However in spite of his own life or death, he is also confident that the cause of the Gospel will be advanced and in that manner that Christ, being declared, shall also be exalted.
But there should be no doubt that Paul was indeed executed some time after his writing of this epistle, and here he also considered and bravely countenanced that possibility, where he declares that:
21 For me to live anointed and to die is gain.
The King James Version has this verse in part: “for me to live is Christ”, which makes no sense whatsoever. This verse helps establish that Paul certainly did use the word χριστός as an adjective, anointed, which the King James and most translators seem not to have understood.
Christians should understand that to suffer the death of the body is to enter into life. Christ Himself illustrated this in an allegory where He said, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 18: “8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.” But He also stated it more directly where he told the thief who was being executed along with Him that “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise”, as it is recorded at Luke 23:43. Paul further illustrates this principal here:
22 But if to live in flesh, this for me a fruit of labor, then I know not which I prefer. 23 I am afflicted by the two, having the desire for which to depart, and to be with Christ, very much the better; 24 but to continue in the flesh is of more necessity for your sake.
The Christian belief in eternal life is in addition to the hope of ultimate resurrection. The people who believe that the conscience of the Adamic man dies, or even somehow hibernates along with the death of the body are mistaken. When those who are born from above die, their spirits return to God, and Paul describes that as being with Christ. In 2 Corinthians chapter 5 Paul had written in this same manner where he said, as the King James Version records it: “1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved [referring to the physical body], we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens [referring to the Adamic spirit]. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
To continue with Philippians chapter 1:
25 And persuaded of this, I know that I shall abide and remain with you all for your advancement and joy of the faith 26 that your boast may be abundant in Christ Yahshua in respect of me [or simply “in me”], because of my presence again with you.
If Paul were spared execution, he felt that it would be for the benefit of the assemblies, but not necessarily for himself. For himself, he expresses the desire to die, so that he may be with Christ. The Christian should be as confident as Paul was in this respect, and in that way see himself in his daily walk through life as a sojourner working to build the kingdom of God on earth for as long a time as he is in the flesh. Ultimately, resurrection returns the entire Adamic race to the flesh, as Yahweh God shall not fail to have His Creation as He had originally designed, in spite of the sins of men.
Being confident of these things, that the Christian has life rather than penalty in death, the Christian should be fully confident in contending for the Faith. For this reason Paul exhorts his readers to obedience in Christ:
27 Only conduct yourselves worthily of the good message of the Anointed, in order that whether coming and seeing you, or being away, I hear of the things concerning you, that you stand in one spirit, in one soul together striving in the faith of the good message.
Paul's confidence that he may live includes the hope that he will ultimately be released from his bonds and be free once again to continue his ministration to the assemblies. Yet he holds out the possibility that this may not happen, where he again mentions “being away” in reference to his possible death, and nevertheless encourages the Philippians to remain steadfast in the Faith in Christ.
28 And in nothing being frightened by the opposition, which to them is an indication of destruction, but of your preservation, and this from Yahweh.
The Majority Text has this verse to read in part “but to you of preservation”; the Codices Ephraemi Syri (C) and Claromontanus (D) have “but to us of preservation”; the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B).
The opposition, starting with the Jews, are not to be converted, but rather Christians are to pray for their destruction. As Paul had said in 1 Corinthians chapter 1, “For the account of the cross is folly to those who are going to die, but to those who are being preserved, to us, it is the power of Yahweh.” The only conversion of the Jews which Christians may expect upon the return of the Christ will be to see them all converted into ashes. It was a purpose of the Gospel to separate the wheat from the tares, but never to attempt to make wheat from the tares.
For these reasons, Christian obedience to the Word of God is the biggest fear of the enemies of Christ. For this they have infiltrated and subverted all Christian churches for over 1900 years, as Paul, Jude and Peter all attest. Paul had told those same Corinthians in chapter 10 of his second epistle to them, that they should be “in readiness to avenge all disobedience, whenever [they] shall have fulfilled [their] obedience.” The Jews understand that Christian obedience to God is a sign that they themselves shall be destroyed.
That is why, more than any other sect or creed, the Jews hate and fear what we call Christian Identity. Christian Identity is the only form of Christianity which teaches the truth concerning the historical identity of the various tribes and parties of the Scripture, which also teaches the love for kinship and race which goes along with that understanding, and which also beckons Christians to obedience in Christ: to keep the laws of Yahweh our God as Christ Himself had commanded.
29 Because to you it has been offered [or “granted”] concerning Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also in behalf of Him to suffer,
As it says in Psalm 44, which Paul had quoted in Romans chapter 8, “22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”
30 having that same struggle like you have seen with me, and now you hear of with me [P46 wants “with me”].
The offering, or granting, of which Paul speaks is the general theme of the prophets concerning the granting of mercy and offering of reconciliation to the children of Israel. We may read one small example in Isiah chapter 48: “10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. 11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another. 12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.” And we will offer one other example, in Jeremiah chapter 30: “18 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof. 19 And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small. 20 Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them.” Jeremiah was writing long after most of the children of Israel had gone into that captivity with the Assyrians.
Contending for the faith in Christ, pursuing the Kingdom of Yahweh, obeying His commandments, these lead to a life of relative hardship. But the consequences of sin are much more difficult to live with. Paul sets forth his own walk in the faith, and the ultimate sacrifice which he is about to make, but which he nevertheless hopes to avoid, as examples for his readers, that they follow in that same struggle.