Realizing God’s Plan in Life – PT.3

Realizing God’s Plan in Life – PT.3

Editor’s Note: In this writings, A.T. Robertson gives a good insight of Philippians 2:12-18

Paul’s Pride (verse 16)

“For a ground of glorying in the day of Christ.” This clause is related to all of verse 15 and the preceding part of 16. The day of accounts comes to figure more largely in Paul’s mind as he grows older.(Kennedy) The writer of Hebrews speaks of the sleepless watch of the shepherds of souls “as they that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief; for this were unprofitable for you.” (Heb. 13:17) Paul longs’ to have “whereof to glory” in the day of Christ. The success of the Philippians will give Paul something tangible to present to Christ. They will be stars in his crown. He means by “day of Christ” the judgment day, commonly termed the day of the Lord outside of this Epistle.

Paul does not wish to be saved “so as by fire” with all his works gone. (I Cor. 3:15) When that day comes and Paul looks back upon his work in Philippi, he does wish to feel “that I did not run in vain neither labour in vain.” He has the metaphor of the stadium before him as in Galatians 2:2 when he expresses the same dread about the Galatians. He does not wish it all to come to nothingness. The word for labor here means the weariness of labor. Toil and sweat and weariness were all for naught. It is a pitiful case when the preacher has to see the people go back to the flesh-pots of Egypt and leave his work null and void. The Philippians will be Paul’s jewels in the presence of Christ as the mother of the Gracchi boasted of her boys.

Paul’s Sacrifice (verse 17)

“Yea, though I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith,” Paul adds. He will not shrink from death in order to be of service to them and to help them in their efforts to press on in the Christian life. He hopes to live, but he stands in the constant presence of death, and he is not afraid. He had faced death at Phillippi and often since. It will come someday. He is ready now. It is not his apostolic office, but his very life that he offers. The picture here is of their faith in the sense of their Christian life as a sacrifice and priestly service. The Philippians as priests lay down upon the altar their Christian lives (faith and fidelity).

Upon’ this Paul is ready to pour out his own life as an additional sacrifice in their service. It is not necessary to press the point whether Paul has in mind the Jewish custom of pouring the drink offering around the altar or the heathen of pouring the libation upon the altar. The latter would be more familiar to the Philippians but the point holds good in either case. Paul is willing to spend and be spent in the service of the Philippians (cf. 2 Cor. 12:15). One thinks of the student volunteers who offer their lives for mission service and challenge the churches to furnish the money for their support. One thinks of David Livingstone who gave his life gladly for the healing of the open sore of the world in Africa.

Mutual Joy (verses 17-18)

“I joy and rejoice* with you all,” says Paul. He is glad by himself to make the offering of his life, if this supreme sacrifice is demanded. He will not shrink back, but will meet it gladly, and all the more readily since he can share his joy with them. Fellowship is a blessed reality. Paul is glad on his own account that he has been the instrument in their salvation (Kennedy). He is still more joyful at the experiences of grace which they have in Christ. Joy is not selfish, but wishes company. The woman in Luke 15:9 who found her lost piece of money called in her women friends and said: “Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost.”

So the shepherd who found the one lost sheep said to his friends: “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost” So the father says: “Make merry, for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15 : 24). The child all aglow with his Christmas toys wishes other children to come and share his joys. “And in the same manner do ye also joy, and rejoice with me.” Play up to your part of the joy. Plutarch tells of the messenger from Marathon who expired on the first threshold in Athens with these words on his lips: “Rejoice and we rejoice.” Nowhere in the Epistle is Paul so insistent about joy as here. The Christian is rich in his joy in Christ. What joy it will be in heaven to tell the story of the triumph of Christ over sin in your life and in mine.

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