That is why God has raised him to such a height, given him that name which is greater than any other name; so that everything in heaven and on earth and under the earth must bend the knee before the name of Jesus, and every tongue must confess Jesus Christ as the Lord, dwelling in the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9-11KNOX
For which thing God enhanced him, and gave to him a name that is above all name; [For which thing and God enhanced him, and gave to him a name that is above all names;] that in the name of Jesus each knee be bowed, of heavenly things, [and] of earthly things, and of hell’s; and each tongue acknowledge, that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9-11WYC
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.Philippians 2:9-11AKJV
“That is why,” “For which thing” and “Wherefore” indicate the reason God exalted Jesus Christ above all others. The reason is that Jesus “6 who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (AKJV)
Jesus’ willingness to humble Himself, to “make Himself of no reputation” is also the reason Paul calls upon Christians to likewise humble ourselves. If we walk about with our noses stuck in the air, who will benefit? Certainly not those who are lost. Neither will our spiritual pride bring glory to God. Note that Jesus’ humility brought glory to God the Father. His willingness to step out of His power and accept human weaknesses – including death – is why He is now exalted above all names.
Everything that makes Paul who he is, who he was – a legalistic, rigid, God-fearing Pharisee – he now considers “a loss because of Christ.” (Philippians 3:7) Nothing compares to “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus.” Knowing Christ “and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings” is Paul’s goal.
He writes to the church at Philippi:
“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12)
Paul does not consider that he has reached his goal; indeed he writes that he continues to “forget what is behind and reach forward to what is ahead.” (Philippians 3:13) Paul is pursuing a goal, a prize.
He tells us:
“Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you.” (Philippians 3:15)
Paul encourages us:
“Stand firm in the Lord, dear friends.” (Philippians 4:1)
“Agree in the Lord.” (Philippians 4:2)
“Contend for the gospel.” (Philippians 4:3)
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
“Let your graciousness be known to everyone.” (Philippians 4:5)
“Don’t worry.” (Philippians 4:6)
Paul finishes with a call to focus on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and to praise God, who is the God of peace.
“Pursue as [your] goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)
The prize is “gaining Christ and being found in Him, not having a righteousness of [our] own from the law, but one that is through faith in [Him] — the righteousness of God based on faith.” (Philippians 3:8,9)
Paul commends the church at Philippi to “approve things that are excellent.” (Philippians 1:10) He — with Timothy — encourages them to allow “love to abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” (Philippians 1:9) He wants them to “be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:10) He commands them, “be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:11)
Paul upholds excellence. Excellence comes to us through Jesus Christ. Excellence consists of: love, knowledge, discernment, sincerity, innocence and the fruits of righteousness which include peace, gentleness, loving-kindness, joy, long-suffering, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Paul sets the bar rather high. But he provides a means to this excellence to which God calls us. Paul writes, “They that are Christ’s crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:24-25)
Paul writes to the church at Philippi, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The good work, I believe, to which Paul refers is their partnership with him in grace. These brothers and sisters in Christ partner with Paul to establish and defend the gospel. And God “carries it on to completion.” God has not begun this good work to see it fail.
Paul exhorts, “Just one thing: live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith of the gospel, not being frightened in any way.” (Philippians 1:27-28)
Paul calls them and us to stand together in “one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith of the gospel” and to do so without fear. He reminds, “If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son, but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns?” (Romans 8:31-34)
Let us “keep our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” Once again, the Holy Spirit gives us a succinct picture of the good news. The gospel is here in this single statement — Jesus is both the source and the perfecter of our faith.
Therefore, our attention — our eyes — should be focused on Jesus, not on others and certainly not on our selves.
Now this is not to say we should not “lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us” and “run with endurance the race that lies before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Indeed we are called by the same Holy Spirit to do both. We are called to put off the old man and put on our new nature.
The good news, however, is that we “have been taken hold of by Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:12) Yet, we “pursue as [our] goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13) After all, “our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20) And our Savior has “the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.” (Philippians 3:21)
Therefore, “everything that was a gain to [us], [we] consider to be a loss because of Christ.” (Philippians 3:7) Think of those things we once considered as gains: status, church standing, friends, obedience to rules and regulations. Now these have no value in our walk with God — Why? Because only Christ is the source and perfecter of our faith.
Jesus endures a cross and despises the shame associated with death on a tree “for the joy that lays before Him.” What is that joy set before Him? Yes, the joy is retaking His place “at the right hand of God’s throne.” But the other joy — the crucial joy — is becoming “the source and perfecter of our faith.” Jesus “endures such hostility from sinners against Himself” in order to save us from sin and from the wage of sin, that is — death. (Hebrews 12:3)
Because Jesus endures such pain and hostility in order to experience the joy of saving His people, we must “keep our eyes on Jesus” and “run with endurance the race that lies before us.” (Hebrews 12:2,1) As He keeps the joy in sight while He suffers on a cross, so we must keep the joy of being in Him in sight as we endure the troubles associated with life on earth. “In struggling against sin, [we] have not yet resisted to the point of shedding [our] blood” — that is true of many, if not most of us. (Hebrews 12:4)
“Just one thing: [we ought to] live [our] lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, not being frightened in any way… For it has been given to [us] on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.” (Philippians 1:27, 28, 29)
He is the source of our faith; and He perfects it. Amen.
Paul proclaims that his God “will meet all [our] needs.” Paul is not referring specifically to spiritual needs in this portion of his letter to the church at Philippi. Instead, he is saying that his physical needs have been met by “the gifts [they] sent.” He writes, “They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” (Philippians 4:18) Paul means to imply that just as his own needs have been met by the church of Philippi, so their needs will be met by God through others.
On the other hand, Paul verifies that he “has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12) He is able to be content because he “can do everything through Him who gives [him] strength.” (Philippians 4:13) Therefore, in this short passage, he is referring to his spiritual needs being met by God.
By implication, whether physical or spiritual, our needs are met by God “according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, says Paul, “rejoice in the Lord always. [He] says it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) He advises, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Paul says, “You must work out your own salvation in fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you, inspiring both the will and the deed, for His own chosen purpose.”
Here Paul shows the unique cooperation which occurs in the Christian life between us and God — we work out our salvation while God simultaneously works out our salvation. We believe while He provides the faith. We love because He first loves us. Without God, there is no salvation.
In Eden, God has already decided the means for our salvation — He even warns the serpent that Eve’s child will crush Satan’s head while Satan will only bruise the heel of her Son. God has a plan — a plan He demonstrates repeatedly throughout history until the birth of His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ.
Who works out our salvation “in fear and trembling?” The person who feels and displays the greatest “fear and trembling” for our salvation is Jesus as He kneels in the garden of Gethsemane wrestling with His dread of suffering, death and separation from His Father. What could be more terrifying? Nothing we experience can compare to the fear Jesus feels that night and on that cross. Whose purpose is being fulfilled? God the Father plans everything out to the last detail. He knows all; nothing takes Him by surprise.
For our part, Paul exhorts — “Show yourselves guileless and above reproach, faultless children of God in a warped and crooked generation, in which you shine like stars in a dark world and proffer the Word of Life.” (Philippians 2:14-16)
Jesus says, “Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day.” (John 6: 37-39)
Jesus Himself says that God’s will is that all who come to Jesus will be “raised up on the last day.” Jesus will “lose none of those [God] has given [Him].” Paul explains, “For it is God who is working in [us], enabling [us] both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)
We will be raised up on the last day as members of the family of God because “our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly await for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” And when Jesus comes, “He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
“[God] demonstrates this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens — far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.” (Ephesians 1:20-23)
We are the church; and as such, we are subject to His authority. His power, which is demonstrated in His resurrection, guarantees our relationship with Him — He is our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We wait eagerly for Him, for He is “far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion.” As Paul says, “If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies.” (Romans 8:31-33)
“Fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal,” writes Paul. That goal is to “make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) Christ Jesus “emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:7) Once in the likeness of mankind, “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even to death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)
We are to “consider others as more important than [ourselves],” looking out ‘not only for [our] own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3,4)
Look at Jesus — He did just that. He considered us as more important than Himself. He, “existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.” (Philippians 2:6) For us, He was willing to die a most shameful death, “death on a cross.” He was willing to be “crushed severely,” “oppressed and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:7,10) He was willing to be “despised and rejected by men,” to become “a man of suffering,” to “bear our sicknesses and carry our pains.” (Isaiah 53:3,4) “He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” (Isaiah 53:5)