Whats New Entire CPC
Studies in Philippians
Philippians has been
on my heart for many long years, and, at various times, I have jotted down notes as
certain passages were pressed upon my attention. One lengthy article, that on "The
Kenosis," or emptying of Christ, has already been published. In the last few years
particularly, the need of a fuller exposition has made itself felt. Even noble and devoted
men, full of zeal for God and His Word, seemed to have hardly an inkling of its message.
The gracious revival of Pauline teaching seems to be suffering a reaction, and to be
taking false and fantastic forms because this epistle is not studied as a whole.
Exhortation (Philippians 1:1-24:21-23)
Epistle comes to us from two slaves, not from an apostle. It is an exhortation,
designed to affect our feet, rather than a revelation for the enlightening of our minds.
Paul and Timothy do not present the truth as to our position in Christ, but the path to be
pursued by the Philippians, after they know their place in Him. It consists principally of
four "living expressions" of the evangel, which are set forth for us to follow.
Christ, Timothy, Epaphroditus, Paulthese are the patterns who give us a clue to the
conduct which becomes us todayChrist and Paul in particular.
Contribution (Philippians 1:3-114:14-20)
Among the most
precious privileges which come to us with the reception of God's unspeakable gift, is that
of giving, of participating in the service of heralding the evangel by supporting the
efforts made to spread the knowledge of God. In this the Philippians as a whole are our
example, for they seem to have excelled all others in their contributions to the evangel
from the beginning to the very end of Paul's career. Therefore a whole section is set
aside for this subject both at the commencement and at the conclusion of the epistle. Let
us seek to enter the delightful atmosphere which pervades it and lifts it heaven high
above the plane on which this matter is usually found in the churches of today.
The affairs of Paul,
the slave of Christ Jesus, at the crisis which introduced the present administration of
God's transcendent grace, are of extraordinary interest and importance to those who wish
to walk in accord with the will of God. As the framework of Philippians shows, he
discusses his affairs twice, in two balancing sections, one near the beginning, and the
other at the end of the epistle. First he brings up his bonds in Christ (1:12- 18).
Corresponding to this he speaks of his strength in Christ (4:13). In the early part of the
epistle he dilates on his indifference to death (1:19-26). In the latter he declares his
complacency in want. Besides this, in each section, he touches on the experience of the
Philippians, their suffering with Paul (1:27) and their care of him (4:10).
The Example of Christ
Practice is more
powerful than precept. Deeds may do more than declarations in directing our lives. In
Ephesians we have already been told how we should walk. In Philippians we are given
examples of such conduct in the careers of others. We are pointed to the kenosis of
Christ, the forfeits of Paul, the solicitude of Timothy, and the suffering of
Epaphroditus. These are the special characters in Holy Writ who are presented for our
emulation within the boundaries of this present secret administration. Hence they should
be frequent and foremost in our exhortations. They should be the leading characters in
The Human Will
God is operating in
us to will as well as to work for the sake of His delight (Phil.2:13). This brief allusion
to the human will throws a flood of light into a very dark and dismal doctrine which has
so vitiated the theology of Christendom that it has practically robbed God of His Deity
and the Saints of a God worthy of the name. It is generally taken for granted that the
Bible teaches that man, being made in the image of God, is absolutely sovereign in the
realm of his will. Just as God can will, without being influenced by aught about Him, so
we can create a decision out of the blue, without the least reference to what we are, or
to the world about us.
The Service of Timothy
As Paul is bound,
and cannot visit the Philippians himself, he sends Epaphroditus and contemplates sending
Timothy. In these two characters we have two "living expressions" of the evangel
for this economy. They set forth the highest ideal in service and suffering. In Timothy we
see the model slave. His very name is eloquent, for it means Honor-God. He is one of the
few of whom it could be said that he did not seek his own, but others' good. In many ways
he seems to be a typical character for the present, combining, in his own person, both
Circumcision and Uncircumcision, and the weakness of the flesh with the power of the
Sufferings (Philippians 2:25-30)
Suffering is the
supreme service. It comes nearest to the sacrifice which our Saviour made for us. The
service of the strong is acceptable to God, yet the work of the weak is far more welcome.
It is a deeper display of sacrificial love and demands much more affection to suffer than
to serve. It is when both are combined that we see the highest response to God's grace.
And both are found in the four examples set before us. Christ was the supreme Sufferer.
Paul had his splinter in the flesh and his persecutions. Timothy had his frequent
infirmities and the evils from without. Epaphroditus, the apostle of the Philippians, was
especially signalized by his suffering, which took him very near to death (2:25-30).
The Imitation of Paul
The keynote of true
service is rung out once again: "Rejoice in the Lord!" Not in ourselves,
in the flesh, or the terrestrial at this time, but in Him, in spirit, among the
celestials. To be safe, we should keep this ever before us. Paul apologized for repeating
this so often, but it is sorely needed, for it is seldom heeded. Indeed, few realize the
precise force of the simple terms used. It is a very different matter to rejoice in Christ
in regard to our salvation and glory, and to rejoice in the Lord in relation to our
service for His sake. This chapter deals with service, not salvation. It is saved saints
who are enemies of the cross (not of Christ), whose consummation is destruction (so
far as their service is concerned). This is no chapter for unbelievers, but for saints in
their character as slaves, who rejoice in their master, or Lord.