Christ is Preached

Rivalry

Evangelist and Bible teacher Wendell Calder entitles this book “Praise from Prison.” One of the biggest robbers of joy in the Christian life is circumstances. In this passage Paul stresses the fact that there are no accidents with God. His confinement was doing what his circumstances outside of prison could never do. First of all he was having an opportunity to minister to the whole palace guard (vv. 12-13). Also many who had been reluctant about speaking up for Christ were gaining courage as they witnessed Paul’s boldness in his difficult circumstances (v. 14). Think of how many books of the Bible he wrote from jail that he would have never of had time to do if he had not been in jail.

It is hard to believe that anyone would oppose Paul but some did. It seems that there were even some believers who for some unknown reason did not love the apostle or appreciate his work. It says that they preached Christ out of envy and rivalry (v. 15). It appears that they were doctrinally sound but they promoted themselves. Perhaps these people belonged to the “legalistic” wing of the church. Instead of asking, “Have you trusted Christ?” they asked, “Whose side are you on - ours or Paul’s?"  Unfortunately this same kind of thing happens in the church today. Paul rejoiced whether they preached Christ in pretense or in truth (vv. 16-18). We should be glad if God uses their message regardless of their motives. Paul’s prayer was that he would speak courageously (vv. 19-20).

Application

Paul rejoiced that the Gospel was being preached, even though it may have been for wrong reasons by some (v. 18). I should always rejoice when God uses other people, regardless of their motives.

Philippians 1:15-21 (English Standard Version)

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

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