Stick with Humility                 24 MAY 15

PHIL 2:1 Paul wrote Philippians about 61 A.D. After thanking them for their money gift, he turned to deal with a conflict between two important persons in their congregation. But he doesn’t call names until chapter 4. (Phil 4:2 RSV)  "I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord." Before he did, Paul built the theology and principles the whole church needed to gain peace between them and the rest. It is rare that any conflict is confined to only two people. Friends and others tend to join in and take sides.

            Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs in his Studying Life and Work Lessons, July-Sept 1978, page 90 wrote “In verse 1 Paul used four conditional clauses which were assumed as being true… Indeed, verses 1-11 all point back to 1:27 where Paul appealed for unity.” (Phil 1:27 RSV)  "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” This is the unity, i.e. oneness, that Paul wrote about to the Ephesians. In the Greek “consolation” has several meanings. In this case Dr. Hobbs wrote “All these meanings throw light upon Paul’s usage here.” The summary meaning is comfort, and definitely NOT control. Dr. Hobbs notes “One form of it is used as a synonym for the Holy Spirit (see “Comforter” in John 14:16-17).” Dr. Hobbs believed “However, in the greater context of 2:1-11, the basic idea of “calling alongside” seems to be an apt meaning. Note (Gal 5:18 RSV) "But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law."

 “Comfort” translates a word meaning “incentive” This incentive is “of love” or “in love.” “Love” (agape) means selflessness…. “Fellowship” (koinonia) means having all things in common, sharing, or partnership.” As with the Ephesians, Paul made a major call for unity in the family of God. “One accord, of one mind” does not mean that every Christian is to be a clone of another. Note that while Jesus called for a unity equivalent to that between Himself and the Father (John 17:21-23), Jesus and the Father are not the same Persons. The Father can keep secrets from Jesus. The Father is on the Throne of Heaven, Jesus is not. Thus unity does not mean sameness. It does mean identical spiritual doctrines and service to God. Dr. Hobbs put it this way, page 91 “This does not mean that they should cease to be individual persons and become rubber stamps. Rather they were to show a spirit of denying self for the good of the whole.”

            Actually for significant context we must look again at (Phil 1:27-28 RSV) "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, {28} and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear omen to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God." Paul’s fundamental theme is Unity in Christ. It is rarely preached but the key to Christian evangelism and the measure of a Christian church is in the words of Jesus in (John 17:21-23 RSV) "that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. {22} The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, {23} I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me." Today most SBC preachers and teachers say little about this call for unity and its vital effects upon the world. I think a major reason is they would have to deal with serious Bible issues that demand strong support for Sunday School and Discipleship Training. This unity is impossible without serious advancement in the Growth Process of Peter in 2 Pet 1:5-7. Unity is critical for the world to “know” three essential things (meaning in Greek 1097. ginosko, ghin-oce'-ko; a prol. form of a prim. verb; to "know" (absol.), in a great variety of applications and with many impl. (as follow, with others not thus clearly expressed):--allow, be aware (of), feel, (have) known (-ledge), perceive, be resolved, can speak, be sure, understand.  

These three of John 17:21-23 are (1) The Father loves the lost, (2) The Father has sent Jesus to the world. (3) The world will be able to believe in Jesus because they see his reality in the lives of united Christians. Today there are so many kinds of churches and groups using the name Christian that the world in fully confused as to which message, IF ANY, to believe. Today Unity is the primary lost element in the SBC and general Christianity. Because of it, the Gospel is losing ground every year. In fact people who have no spiritual belief are the fastest growing group in the United States. And they are people 36 and younger. Thus Paul called for this church to become united “in the Lord” was critical need, even in a time when the divisions in church types existed but were not as numerous as today.

PHIL 2:1-2 The Greek is 3874. paraklesis, par-ak'-lay-sis; from G3870; imploration, hortation, solace:--comfort, consolation, exhortation, intreaty. Paul starts by saying if they are to find any real value “in Christ” for them, it will come through UNITY! This “one mind” is the same as the Jesus’ call “that they may be one even as we are one.” So we see that John 17:21-23 is fundamental to a proper Christian church and to ignore it is to cause critical damage to the effect of this church’s witness upon its community-world. Note carefully it is not any kind of unity but it is the same unity as is between the Father and Jesus. So is there any mystery why churches are not seeing more lost being saved and the community agreeing to higher moral standards? No there isn’t when you read John 17:21-23. Churches can never get by on “Do as I say and not as I do.”

PHIL 2:3-4 Paul made frequent use of the word “Let” in his letters. The word means to do individual action and take responsibility. It does not mean Jesus or the Holy Spirit will do it for you. It you don’t do it, it will remain undone. Thus these Christians controlled whether there was or would remain having church fights. Dr. Hobbs stated “It is better to swallow one’s pride than to disrupt the church fellowship… This self-abnegation does not mean to demean oneself as a person. It means that personal ambition and pride should not be governing factors in one’s life.” “Swallow one’s pride” is another way of saying humility. It does not mean to sit back and do nothing if a church correction or discipline needs to be addressed. Dr. Hobbs also noted “The Christian’s goal should be to look out for the interests of others rather than for his own (v. 4). Above all else he should seek the mind and will of Christ, and be guided thereby in Christian fellowship.”

Paul is not saying a person should never have any personal “own things.” But he/she is never to have ONLY his/her “own things.” “But …also on the things of others.” “Look” is 4648. skopeo, skop-eh'-o; from G4649; to take aim at (spy), i.e. (fig.) regard:--consider, take heed, look at (on), mark. Comp. G3700. The focus is consideration of others first, but not exclusively. Then note 5012. tapeinophrosune, tap-i-nof-ros-oo'-nay; from a comp. of G5011 and the base of G5424; humiliation of mind, i.e. modesty:--humbleness of mind, humility (of mind), lowliness (of mind). Think the good about others. However, Paul is not saying to lie. You may be better than some others. But be the first to give the other person the chance to show he/she is worthy of the esteem. It is when this does not happen within leadership that major problems arise and remain. A church leader is not always right and the pastor is not a Little Jesus. Unity is not achieved while some maintain a superiority complex. The SBC took a step backward by negating (Gal 3:28 RSV)  "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" at a recent Convention The messengers did not tell husbands to hold wives in this esteem. But Paul declared all Christians to be equal “in Christ” and so he renewed this call for unity “in Christ” to the Philippians.

PHIL 2:5 This is a lot of misinformation about this verse. Dr. Hobbs pointed out; page 92 “Let this mind be” renders a verb used in verses 2-3 for “mind.” As he had urged his readers to think the same things with one another, here he challenged them to be in perfect harmony with Christ Jesus in thoughts, attitude, and purpose.” “Let” means you have the action and responsibility to do it. So Dr. Hobbs gave the translation as “Keep on thinking the same thing in you which is also in Christ Jesus…. It includes the whole trend of life.”

Paul makes a summary of his base thought: Have the same mind as is in Jesus. The Greek for mind is 5426. phroneo, fron-eh'-o; from G5424; to exercise the mind, i.e. entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by impl. to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction). We are to THINK like Jesus and one thing Jesus thinks is Gal 3:28. Men are equal to women. Pastors are equal to members. Everyone who is saved is “one in Christ Jesus.” When we don’t act this way, the unity slips. Humility cannot well exist. When unity slips, the world starts not knowing about Jesus because they don’t see Jesus in our live as being different from their lives. Paul took this most seriously. The SBC gives more lip service than actual service to being ONE in Christ. Only a local church can start the change to what Jesus commanded and Paul presented.

PHIL 2:12 Based upon the definition of how Jesus thinks, Paul moves to motivate his readers toward a better achievement of Phil 2:5. “Obeyed” is not referring to the authority of a pastor. But it is the unique authority Jesus gave to the 13 Apostles for them to begin the organized Church movement. Paul (Apostle 13) seldom used this authority but rather preferred to use persuasion. The Philippians were pretty unique in that they worked harder to “be worthy of the gospel of Christ” when Paul was absent. How rare indeed! “But now” refers to Paul’s prison situation. The RSV reads “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” “Work” in the Greek is to work fully, i.e. accomplish; by impl. to finish, fashion:--cause, do (deed), perform, work (out). “Salvation” here in Greek (soteria) is to rescue or safety (phys. or mor.):--deliver, health, salvation, save, saving. Obviously the word should not be translated “salvation” meaning spiritual salvation, for they were already saved. The precise idea is Eph 2:10 "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Dr. Hobbs noted that the Greek word soteria can also mean to solve a problem. Was there a problem to solve? Certainly with verse 14 Paul gets into the problems concerning him about their actions. As noted before, names were given in a major problem in Phil 4:2. What had Paul so stressed? Phil 2:2: "complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind." There was a lessening of this growth toward unity that Paul had begun to notice. They were not thinking as much like Jesus as they once had. Thus Paul is telling them to get back to work solving their unity problem before it got out of hand. This would split the church and greatly reduce its effectiveness. So Paul is not saying to work out their salvation in the sense of becoming saved, but to work toward solving their problems of living as saved people.

PHIL 2:13 Again Paul held the Father up as the supreme example of a worker. The Greek for “work” is energeo, en-erg-eh'-o; from G1756; to be active, efficient:--do, (be) effectual (fervent), be mighty in, shew forth self, work (effectually in). The Father is working (energizing) in every Christian through the Holy Spirit: (1) “to will”. This means in context to determine (as an act. option from subj. impulse. God is setting the work directives. We are called to Missions and we are under the direction of the Father. Note it is not an issue of God running our lives. If it were, much more work would get done. Rather God is directing us along what needs to be done at any point in our lives. But the work achievement depends upon how we follow directions. (2) “to accomplish his good purpose in their lives.” Note again Eph 2:10. God is not only providing the direction but the tasks to be done. But God is not doing the work of witnessing, because we are a better witness to Mankind. Nor does He force anyone to do this work. But if we don’t work, we are held accountable. 1 Cor 3:14-15 "If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."

PHIL 2:14 So now Paul gets into the problems at issue. The first word in the Greek sentence here is “everything”, thus it has the most emphasis. Many Christians do some things without complaints. Paul is calling on them to do everything without complaints. In the Greek, “murmurings” means to mutter or grumble. The word sounds like angry bees. This was leading to disputes and breaking the unity. There can be no humility.

PHIL 2:15 The Greek says “to become” and not just “be”. Thus the problem was real and existing as Paul write. (Example Phil 4:2). Since they were “sons [and daughters] of God’, they were to become “blameless” and “harmless.”  This would have them to be seen as “without a need to be rebuked” in front of a lost world. Again the idea is of Unity and the message of Jesus’ prayer in John 17. John 17:23  "I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me." This is because Christians are the visible LIGHT TO THE WORLD! Mat 5:14 ""You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid." All Christians are lights to the lost. The issue Paul raises is “Just what is the quality of your light that they see?” Does it shine Jesus or is it a dim confusing light? “Nation” means generation, thus all people of the day. “Crooked’ is not straight, which is commonly used for being sinful. “Perverse” means distorted or turned to one side”; here to the side of sin.

PHIL 2:16 “Hold” means to hold upon, i.e. (by impl.) to retain; (by extens.) to detain; (with impl. of G3563) to. The issue is indeed something to pay attention to. Again it is the matter of “the word of life” which is (Phil 1:27) “the gospel of Christ.” So Paul is demanding once again that they become and stay “worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Naturally being humans, we want to know “How long do I have to work?” Paul’s answer: “Until the Second Coming!” Paul was quite a sports fan. He often used sports metaphors. They were to work so that Paul would be proud that he “did not run in vain or [for non-sports fans] labor in vain.” Here is a significant point. How people respond to our light is a part of the work we produce. Certainly we cannot make a person love or live like God. But God will judge us on how much we were able to positively affect people as compared to how much they could have be affected. We have to do our part. We are responsible to motivate people when we can to the extent we can. Paul will voice a similar thought to Timothy in 2 Tim 4:7-8 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing." As Paul states, it is not just a matter of the leadership and the getting “rewards” but all faithful Christians are have done their work well.

            (Phil 2:3 RSV) "Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves." The count anyone better you must see their worth and potential. As Peter wrote in (1 Pet 5:5-6 RSV) "Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Pet 5:5 RSV) "Likewise you that are younger be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you."


Marvin Ganote, Advanced Bible Study Class, Adult Teacher. Lesson at:  or