In this chapter, we learn that the church at Philippi had sent one of their members, Epaphroditus, to minister to Paul’s needs while he was in prison ( verses 25-30). But Epaphroditus became gravely ill (with what, we do not know) and had not returned to them. Furthermore, it has been long enough that word had gotten back to the brethren at Philippi of their brother’s illness. So Paul is sending him back (probably with this letter).
He also lets them know that he plans to send Timothy to see them. They would be familiar with Timothy, as he was with Paul and Silas when they first arrived in Philippi a decade or so before. We know from Philippians 1:1 that Timothy assisted Paul in writing this letter – likely acting as Paul’s “secretary.”
In the first chapter of this letter, Paul wrote to them about some brethren who (in light of his imprisonment) were preaching the gospel out of envy, rivalry, and selfish ambition. Now he urges the Philippian brethren to do nothing from selfish ambition, but to “count others more significant than yourselves.” It is in this context that he then wrote what is in verses 5-8 – a passage familiar to many of us:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross
So what did Paul mean when he told them to “have this in mind…?” The same thing that Jesus meant when he gave his disciples an important lesson before the Passover Feast in John 13:1-17. Washing their feet, he told them that, as servants and as messengers of the one who sent them, they are not “greater” than He. They must learn to serve others as he has done.
Jesus gave up everything to come here as a man to die for a purpose. We must keep that in mind in our daily lives, living life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ – knowing that our purpose is to serve others, edifying our brethren, and bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to those outside the gospel.
Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.
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