The Philippian Prayer
by Gary Carpenter

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The letter to the Philippians, more than anything else, is Paul's response to his partners in Philippi. Epaphroditus had just brought a contribution from them to Paul while he was imprisoned at Rome. The letter contains much teaching, but the context is that Paul is responding to their gift. In the Amplified Bible, the actual word "partner" is used several times. Some verse by verse teaching (Note: Comments in { } are mine):

1:3   Paul thanked God for them every time he thought of them.
1:4   In every prayer of Paul's, he would make entreaty and petition for them, with joy (delight). What, specifically, was Paul making entreaty and petition for?
1:5   (Amp) ... for their cooperation, contributions, and partnership in advancing the good news (the Gospel) from the first day they heard it until now. PAUL MADE ENTREATY AND PETITION FOR THEIR PARTNERSHIP!

Obeying the laws of meditation and refusing to take a verse out of its context, this next verse applies to the subject matter at hand, which is their ability to prosper to the point that they can support Paul's ministry financially (See TE960215 and TE960215.002).

1:6   Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform {continue} it until the day of Jesus Christ.

We have used this verse to teach about the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to conform us into the image of Jesus, and that teaching is not wrong. But, in context, the good work being spoken of here is that God placed in these Philippians both the desire and the ability to be financial partners with Paul in spreading the gospel. Paul says here that this is a good work of God Himself! Notice that in the Amplified Bible, "He" is capitalized;

1:6   (Amp) And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ right up to the time of His return developing {that "good work"} and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

If we were going to put a label on this "good work" that God Himself was doing through the Philippians, what would we call it? God had placed in them both the desire and the ability to finance Paul's outreach for the gospel. What other name could you give it except Gospel Entrepreneurship, or the Simplicity of Giving? Philippi was a city of commerce, being located on the Roman Road and with close access to a major seaport. These Philippian believers were being "blessed" (empowered to prosper) in the commerce of the world system by God Himself in order to finance Paul's ministry.

Although there were Jews in Philippi, they must have been few in number because Paul could find no synagogue there to preach in, as was his custom in other cities. The point is, Philippi was not a very "religious" city. Not even religious like Ephesus, which was the world's capital for the worship of the goddess Diana (Asteroth in the old testament). I notice that there are no instructions given to the Philippians regarding food that has been "sacrificed to idols". There was no need. This was a city of business (commerce), predominantly Gentile in nature, and the people were not steeped in a lot of "religious" tradition, neither Jewish nor pagan. Therefore they had no qualms about making money to finance the gospel. They had not been religiously brainwashed in any sort of "poverty doctrine." I am convinced that is one of the reasons that God was able to use them in the arena of Gospel Entrepreneurship. They did not feel guilty about prospering, especially for the sake of propagating the gospel of Christ.

Going back to chapter one, verse six, Paul is saying "God is going to continue to cause you to prosper and you are going to continue to be my partners in the gospel." How could Paul be so sure of that? He tells us in the next verse;

1:7   (Amp) It is right and appropriate for me to have this confidence and feel this way about you all, because even as you do me, I hold you in my heart as partakers {partners} and sharers, one and all with me of {"my" KJV} grace {the mission, the assignment that God had given Paul}. [This is true] both when I am shut up in prison and when I am out in the defense and confirmation of the good news (the Gospel).

Paul is saying that the same God that called him to preach the Gospel has called these Philippians to be partakers, sharers, partners, co laborers in the same call! Paul's call was to preach it. The Philippians' call was to finance it. For God to remove His call from the Philippians would be the same as God removing His call from Paul to preach it! God would not fail these Philippians in the performance of their part of the call any more than He would fail Paul in the performance of his part. Paul said they were actually partakers of the same "grace" {assignment, mission from God} as himself. Their part was no less essential than his part. That is why he could be so confident that God would continue the good work that He had begun in them and that they would be able to continue it until the day of Jesus Christ. After all, Paul felt the same way about his part of the call. Paul knew that God would not withdraw the assignment He had given him and that the Lord would continue to sustain him in the accomplishing of it all the days of his life.

Paul is saying "You have continued to be partners with me no matter whether I was free and preaching to the people or shut up in prison. You have not lost confidence in my ministry because of imprisonment." Why hadn't they? The Philippians, of all people, knew that Paul could call on the power of God while in prison! They well remembered the earthquake that opened the doors of their own prison when Paul and Silas had been incarcerated there. But they also remembered that Paul was more concerned about the gospel of Jesus Christ than he was his own personal freedom. How could they forget that Paul had remained in the prison even after the cell doors had been opened in order to lead the jailer and his whole family to Christ. They knew that prison could not stop Paul. Him being in prison did not in any way affect their giving.

1:8   (Amp) For God is my witness how I long for and pursue you all with love, in the tender mercies of Jesus Christ [Himself].

Love gives! The Philippians had expressed their love for Paul and his ministry by their gift. Paul has no way to respond in kind (at this moment) except to assure them of his love for them, Christ being his witness.

1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound...{I hear the Spirit quoting from 2 Cor 8:2, "the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality}. The love being spoken of here is their love for Jesus, which is being expressed by their giving to Paul to spread the message of Jesus. Paul prays that their love abounds more and more in knowledge and judgment. Some definitions in the Greek;

knowledge = epignosis = Full knowledge, a greater participation by the knower in the object known, thus more powerfully influencing him.

judgment = aisthesis = perception, discernment.

1:10   That ye may approve things that are excellent: that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.

approve = dokimazo = To approve after testing. Used especially regarding metals. Coins could be tried by fire to see which were precious.

excellent = diaphero = differ, the highest and best.

sincere = eilikrines = unalloyed, pure of unmixed substances {single minded}.

offence = to stumble, or to cause to stumble.

After hours of mediation and prayer in the spirit, the Lord gave me the following paraphrase of verses nine and ten;

THE PHILIPPIAN PRAYER
"I pray that as your love for Jesus increases, you will progressively come to know Him better. You will come to understand what He is doing in the earth and become even more of a participant in His plans, purposes, and pursuits. The mind of Christ Himself will come to have an ever increasingly powerful influence in every area of your life. Your greater depth of acquaintance with Him will result in more comprehensive discernment regarding what to get involved in, and what not. You will be able to test various potential endeavors with the very mind (thinking processes) of Christ to determine which of them contain the highest and best potential for accomplishing His plans in the earth. By this process you will remain sincere, unalloyed, pure and single minded in serving Jesus and not Mammon. That purity and single mindedness will both keep you from stumbling into the world's way of thinking (the deceitfulness of riches and the lust of other things), and it will keep others from stumbling also."

Not until the Spirit was able to birth that paraphrase in me did I realize that this is almost exactly the same thing Paul said of himself later on in this same letter in Phil 3:10 14. Paul wanted to "know" Jesus...completely! In His power, His suffering, and to even be made conformable to his death. Why? So the resurrection life of Jesus could be made manifest in Paul. So that Jesus would be able to accomplish through Paul everything that He had in mind when He appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus. Paul says he is ever pressing toward that mark. Paul is actually praying the same things for the Philippians here in chapter one.

BUT THE KEY TO ALL OF THIS IS THAT OUR LOVE FOR JESUS ABOUNDS TO ALL OF THESE THINGS!

No increase in love for Him, no increase in knowing Him! No increase in knowing Him, no increase in discernment and understanding His mind for our lives! No increase in discernment, no protection against the deceitfulness of riches and the lust of other things tripping us up! No protection from those things, the more likely we are to stumble and to cause others to stumble!

1:11   Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Jesus said that anyone who was single minded, serving God and not Mammon, seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all of these "things" (the very things that the unsaved Gentiles spend their whole lives seeking after) would be added to him. This is referring to the same thing as :

Mat 6:33   But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Phil 4:19   But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.


Your fellow servant for Christ,

Gary Carpenter


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