Philippians 1

Introduction

Chapter 1

Address.[a] 1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with their bishops and deacons: 2 grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Joyful Prayer for the Philippians.[b] 3 I give thanks to my God every time I think of you. 4 I always pray for you, interceding for you with joy 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this: that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Christ Jesus.[c]

7 It is only right for me to feel this way toward you, because I hold you in my heart, for you have all shared with me in God’s grace, both during my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 Indeed, God is my witness how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9 And for this I pray: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and full insight 10 to enable you to discover what is really important, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 filled with the fruits of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

News and Instructions

12 To Live Is Christ.[d] Brethren, I want you to know that what has happened to me has actually helped spread the gospel, 13 for my imprisonment has become known not only throughout the praetorium[e] but to everyone else as well. 14 And the majority of the brethren having taken encouragement in the Lord from my imprisonment, dare more than ever to proclaim the word without fear.

15 It is true that some are proclaiming Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others are doing so with goodwill. 16 These latter ones do so out of love, aware that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not in sincerity, but in an effort to increase my suffering while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter, as long as in every way, with false motives or true, that Christ is proclaimed? And in that I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and with the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will result in deliverance for me. 20 It is my firm expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but will act with complete fearlessness, now as always, so that Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by my life or by my death.

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.[f] 22 But if I continue living in the body, that will mean fruitful work for me. Hence, I do not know which I should choose. 23 I am pulled in opposite directions. My desire is to depart and to be with Christ, for that is far better, 24 but, it is a more urgent need for you that I remain in the body.

25 Since I am convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with all of you to ensure your progress and joy in the faith. 26 Thus, you will rebound with joy in Christ Jesus when I return to be with you once again.

27 Striving and Suffering for Christ.[g] Only live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or simply hear news of you from a distance, I will know that you are standing firm and united in spirit, striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and being in no way intimidated by those who oppose you.

This will be a clear sign to them of their forthcoming destruction as well as of your salvation. All of this is in accord with God’s design. 29 For it has been granted you not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him. 30 You are taking part in the same struggle that you have seen in me and that you now hear I am experiencing.[h]

Footnotes

  1. Philippians 1:1 While writing to all of the baptized—“the saints”—the author thinks in particular of the responsibility of the “bishops” (literally, “overseers”), that is, of those who, under the higher authority of the apostles and with the help of deacons (literally, “assistants”), lead and encourage the community (see 1 Tim 3:1; 5:17; Tit 1:5-9).
  2. Philippians 1:3 This prayer, filled with confidence and thanksgiving, gives us a glimpse of the deep attachment held by Paul, the prisoner, for the living community of Philippi that shares his concerns and his initiatives. He regards the action and life of Christians as a project that must be ceaselessly developed until the encounter with Christ at his Second Coming. Hence, he prays that believers might have the spiritual sense that will enable them to take hold of the essential, i.e., the very will of the Lord, in any situation: faith and love will help discern what is the best thing for them to do.
  3. Philippians 1:6 The day of Christ Jesus: the Second Coming of the Lord in all his glory, when the faithful will be with him and will share in eternal glory (see 1 Cor 1:8; Phil 1:10; 2:16; 3:20f; 1 Thes 4:17; 5:10; 2 Thes 1:10).
  4. Philippians 1:12 Little concerned for his own fate, the prisoner is interested only in the progress of the Good News of Christ. Certain missionaries, jealous of his success among the Gentiles, profit from his captivity to gain influence at his expense (see 1 Cor 1). Far from taking offense, Paul is able to rejoice in this: for it means that Christ is better known and loved.
    Never before has he let his readers discern the profound bond that unites him to Jesus, a bond inaugurated by Baptism and sealed by the Eucharist but a bond that is lived in the whole initiative of his existence. He has already attained his spiritual maturity, and all his desire is fixed on Christ. As in the Second Letter to the Corinthians (5:6-8), he lets us glimpse his eager longing for an immediate meeting with the Savior. There is a part of him that can no longer wait for the day of the resurrection. This striking text constitutes one of the highest points of Christian mysticism.
  5. Philippians 1:13 Praetorium: this may refer to the praetorian guard in the city of Paul’s imprisonment or to the governor’s residence in a Roman province (see Mk 15:16; Acts 23:35).
  6. Philippians 1:21 Paul has reached the highest level of spiritual growth.
  7. Philippians 1:27 At Philippi itself, Paul quickly encountered persecution (see Acts 16:19-40; 1 Thes 2:2). His mission was plagued by unceasing threats and perils (see 2 Cor 11:24—12:10). The life and activity of Christians partake of the Lord’s Passion (see Mt 5:12; Acts 5:41).
  8. Philippians 1:30 This verse refers to the Apostle’s earlier imprisonment in Philippi (Acts 16:29-34; 1 Thes 2:2) and to his present situation in chains.

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