One mind and one love seems an appropriate theme for Chapter 2 of Philippians. When we left off from the first chapter of Philippians, Paul was indicating to the Philippians that suffering is a part of the Christian journey, just as he is currently suffering in jail as they read this letter. As we continue this letter into the beginning of chapter 2, he appeals to the Philippians to bring joy to him by being united in one mind and one love. It almost seems as if it’s an emotional appeal in a sense because he’s asking this of the Philippians in order to bring him joy as he remains in his current suffering. Paul also appears to make this appeal as a call to prove themselves. He states that if they have encouragement in Christ, if they have consolation in love, sharing in the Spirit, compassion and sympathy, then to make his joy complete in proving that, by being the same mind, same love, in full accord and of one mind.
The next verses seem to indicate more specifically what Paul is instructing them to do in being unified. He states in the NASB translation I’m using, to do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, regard others as more important than ourselves with humility of mind, and look to the interests of others and not just our own. He encourages the Philippian Christians to have this attitude which was Christ’s as he emptied himself in service to others and obedience to God to the point of death. This led to him being bestowed the name above every name. In doing these things, Christians exhibit their unity just as Paul desired of the Philippians.
Ask yourselves these questions. Do you do things out of selfish ambition or empty conceit? Are you humble before others? Do you look to the interests of others? Does your life reflect service to others and obedience to God that strives to the level of Christ’s obedience to the point of death? As you ponder those questions, it’s interesting to consider the meaning of those words in the Greek to better understand what you’re asking yourself. Here’s a list of the meaning of a few of the words stated in the passage discussed that I found on blueletterbible.org.
Eritheia (selfishness) – Electioneering or intriguing for office; apparently, in the NT a courting distinction, a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and fractious spirit which does not disdain low arts
Kenodoxia (empty conceit) – vain glory, groundless, self esteem, empty pride
Tapeinophrosyne (humility of mind) – the having a humble opinion of one’s self. a deep sense of one’s (moral) littleness. Modesty, humility, lowliness of mind.
Work out your salvation
He continues by reiterating what they already know that Jesus’s name is above all names, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Paul encourages them to remain very obedient in his absence, working out their salvation, and recognizing God is working through them for His good pleasure. Now it’s interesting when you look at the meaning for the Greek word used for “work out”. The Greek word used is katergaomai which means:
to perform, accomplish, achieve
to work out i.e. to do that from which something results
of things: bring about, result in
to fashion i.e. render one fit for a thing
So you see this meaning of the phrase “work out” which essentially seems “to make happen”, it’s hard to deny that people need to continually do our best to obey God in order for our salvation to be fulfilled. And note that it says work out salvation with fear and trembling. And there’s an interesting meaning noted as one of the meanings for the Greek word used for tremble which is Tromos. It states, “with fear and trembling, used to describe the anxiety of one who distrusts his ability completely to meet all requirements, but religiously does his utmost to fulfill his duty” You’ll see this theme continue in this chapter of one being required to affirm their salvation.
One another note before we move along, it’s interesting in verse 13 it states God is at work in Christians, to will and to work for His pleasure. Something to think about in understanding the primary purpose of a Christian.
Christians are a light to the world
Paul emphasizes in the next verses that Christians are supposed to be a light to the world, proving themselves to be blameless and innocent children of God in the midst of a perverse generation by holding fast to the word of life and striving to do so without grumbling or disputing. In doing these things, Paul states he will have reason to glory on the day of Christ. Now why would Paul’s reason to glory for Christians on the day of Christ require Christians to prove themselves as blameless innocent children of God if salvation were merely an automatic thing upon making the choice to become saved? This is a question that the “once saved always saved” believers have to consider if their conclusion on a Christian’s salvation being an automatic eternal thing regardless of whether one strives to live a life of obedience to God, or choose to live in disobedience to God, is truly right.
Paul presents himself as such a strong example of true faith in this chapter. He states that even if he is being put to death for the sake of the faith, he rejoices and shares his joy with the Philippians, and expects them to strive to respond in the same way regardless of whatever harsh circumstances they endure. He is in the exact position he needs to be in in order for them to take his plea seriously. Imagine if he were a millionaire preacher with a big house, a private jet, and all the other excesses of wealth those scam artists who have the nerve to call themselves preachers have. These Philippians would have scoffed at a person of that description making this kind of encouragement. Paul is a very strong example for Christians in general, but very much so for preachers in particular.
The second chapter division of this letter closes with Paul telling the Philippians of his hope to send Timothy to them to be encouraged to learn of their condition, describing Timothy as a selfless advocate for the Gospel. Note that this is another example not all verses directly apply to us today. Timothy is no longer alive, so obviously he can’t be sent to Christians today, thus “you” in Philippians 2:19 is talking about the Philippian Christians. Always remember context when interpreting scripture verses.
Paul also states that he believes he’ll be able to come to them eventually, but that he also intends to send Ephaphroditus to them as well, describing him as a fellow soldier and worker of the faith. He makes mention that Ephaphroditus was sick at some point, but God had mercy on him, and Paul instructs the Philippians to receive him in high regard for coming close to death for the work of Christ. Another beautifully strong example of the dedication and commitment to Christ that we can all strive for.
As always, any questions, comments or thoughts, feel free to share them below. If this post enlightened you in anyway, please share this on your social media for the benefit of others. Peace to all those who are in Christ.