Full Text for Sermon Study on Phil. 1,27-2,4 (Text)

. . .' ., "Continuing.. ... . Leh~e'und;Wehre (Vol. LXXVI:) . Magaiirl fuer Ev.~Luth~aomiletik (V;ot tIV): .' Theol.Quartedy(l897 ~1920) ~J'heo1. Monthly (Vol. X)' . .. . CONTENTS .. . ' ... ' ..•.... .•. ...... •. .......• . ,'. .·.·.!'F~ge·' Pl;EPER, F.: :"Dasi:ruclitbare Lesen del' 'Schriften Luther:;;'!Sl' G:RAEBNER, TH. ,:TheIndwellingof the .Trinity in the. .' Beartof the Believer .. ; ......... : ................... : . ;EN:(XELl?E~,~B,:Marlnirg: DerSieg d~s ScJtriftprinzlvs. 99 . ~ENGi1LDER;T:e:. : Does £he Bible Claim Infallible AuthQt~ ..... ; . . >ityfor All I1;s ~artsl''' ....... ; ...... ~; .... ; ..... : .'. ;'; .. J07 :KEINATH, H. O. A.: The.Contacts 9f the Bobk: of A..eta . "withRom8;n Political Institutions ., .............. '.".'; .. lfI~:i>iNE~,F.:SermollStudy .on Phn: '1,· 27~2,~ .......• DlspQSition~nU:eber .die ~jsenacherEvangelienreihe ..... '. ~h~:i()gical' Obs~~er.-<Kirchlich-ZeitgeSchichtli~hes ; .... . 'VI~~schtes und zeitgeschieht'lf:che Notizen ... .' ........... . . ~~~. :ltevie~"~Literatur .. ;.-.." . iE,fu 'Prediger DlltPa nicht allein w6idMl, #da~8erdies~fe unterwei8e.Wte .. &ie . recbte ·~Ii' &o.lleD· &ein\ . IIOllden /aUch :dariebeb den WoelfenwelWm,da&8' . ilie .!ite. Schare. nieht~ffen .. wid .:mit .faI8eher'~·verfu$$ und I~., ~~ •. 4.tuI~er. E~'istk~J>tiig;~'die,Leote meW .... . bei •• ~er .·Kir.che .• ~¥el,t.~fi .. d~., gpt~ . pre1l~~i:-;tPotOqw,:~~f.~if.. '. If th~ tnuIlpet give, an bnceitain ~salmd, who ~~I prepa~h~to!:h'eliilttle1' " 1 Oo .. ;.'.u'~'··'" 198 eDd of a year. The imperial governor, bo-treTer, is a propraetor, dnun~, or, 88 he W88 more often called, a lfgal .. , ~~. of the emperor. Be gCle6 out from Italy with all the pomp of • military commander, and he does not return until the emperor reealls him.» 16) Bis great dependence on the emperor is evident at once. In fact, the object of Augustus in efecting this provincial lJT8IIgeDleDt was to have a corpa of of6ciaJs in oommand of all the military forces who were immediately dependent upon him in their office.. It was a senatorial province, then, which Paul ente1:ed when he came to Cyprus ca. 4'1 A. D., for the title of the governor is hHn:at~. The incumbent of th.i8 office at this time was Setgiua Paulos, who very likely had preriOll8ly held the oftice of OVl'G'lor Biparum et AI.,. Tib,,;, and was possibly of pretorian rank.J6) Th.i8 man caUed Paul and his companions before him. But an antagonist appeared in the form of the eorcerer Elymas; he W88 blinded, and Sergius Paulus believed, "marveliDg at the teaeJring of the Lord." 1'1) It W88 not an ordinary convert whom the apostle had gained; for this man .in his official position 88 Roman proconsul could have aU: lictora, had a small number of soldiers at his c0m.­mand, exercleed the imperium over all his pro'riDciala, presided in tribunals, judged the claima of the usurer and the tax-gat.herer, and was attended by a host of aeeretariee, notaries:, b.eraJds, phJai-ciani, and augurs. J8) ('.1'0 k ClOtICIIIW) Seward. Nebr. H. O. A. Kmu.m. .... Sermon Study on PhiL 1,27-2,4. (Bieenaeh Epiatolary LeeaoD for 8eptupeima.) A thorougb study of this tm~ the EieeDacb EpietJe.-leaaoID for SeptusgeeUna. wiD continn the impreasion received by a easual read­ing of the words that their import is an ezboriation of the .Apoat1e Panl to the cong:regation at Philippi to J'8IDIrin stead:faet in the faith of the Gospel and united in spirit, in spite of aD hindra:neee that might come from without or within.. It will be found quite convenient to group the various items found in the ten under .a:n,y theme which expreaees the above thought. The apostle. in writing thia preae:nt chapter of his letter to the 15) Conybeare aDd Rowacm. Life aINI.,..". of Bt.Pa.u., I, 143. 16) Pauly, Wiaaowa. KroII. &Mr..,~ '.f). 8tJrgiu. 17) Acta 13,12-18) lle.rivale, lIWIorfI of tM ....... m,407-409. 124 Sermon Study on PhD. 1, 27-2, 4. Philippians, had just come to the conclusion of a debate which be had had with himself. He had debated with himself whether it wouId be better for him to live or to die. It was not a question of "to be or not to be"; Paul W88 not contemplating suicide. Death would release him from the many troubles of this life and from the prison chains which fettered him at that time and bring him to Obrist and heaven. But, on the other hand, if be wen! spared, be might be able to see his beloYed Philippians again. He concluded that "to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." He expects to be released from prison and to be preeent with the Christians at Philippi once more. 1, 23. 24-But whether he will ever get to see them again or not, there is one thing that he cu:pecta of them and bopea for. No matter wbether he lives or dies, whether he is preaent or absent, they should let their conversation. their daily lives, be 88 it becometh the Gospel of Obrilt, "and they are to stand fast in the faith and be united in one spirit. The pbraae "let your conversation be" is to be translated, behave .. citisens, ~MII.. The Philippians were very proud of their Roman citizenship. which had been granted them by Oaeeu Aucuetus in memory of his victory over Brutus and CassiWl Dear this city. See Acts 16. 21. Now a Roman citisen, .Acta 16,37--t(), reminds Roman citizens of a still greater honor which had been sreted them, of their citizenship in God's kingdom of beaven, Phil3.1O. _1.I.,."I'a. and urges them to behave .. citiseDa of this kiDadom-Oa:b' in the letter to the P)illippians, of an his epiat1es, 00. Paul us theee two words. The word "only" at the head of the sentence clearly elCproII8e6 the apostle's mind. This is the one thing that counts. The GoepeJ of Christ is not a law. It does not give precept aDd command and threaten punishment if the command is dieobeyed. The Gospel of Christ is a strong, compelling motive. and it produoee right living. A life "as it becometh the Gospel of Christ" is a life that is moYed and actuated by the Gospel, the glad tidings of the grace of God in Christ Jesus. A person who has heard the glad Deft that be baa inherited a great fortune will comport himaeJf in I'DlUly ....,.. in ac­cordance with, "as it becometh," this good DeW'8. He who believes the Gospel, the news that he is saved from beD and saved for beaven. will be moved by this glad news to lead a godly life in righteoumeea and good works. Paul's presence or absence shouJd mab no difference to the Philippians in this matter. The Obriatian conduct and ac­tivity of the members of a congregation should not depend upon the presence of this or that pastor. It sometimes 00CUJ'8 that one minister will build up a congregation, and people will cling to him. His suo­cessor may find that some who were very ardent members before become lukewarm or drop away altogether. Christians should DOt. be faithful Sermon Study on Phil. 1,27-2,4. 125 to their church for the sake of their pastor, but for the sake of their Savior. Pastors may be present or absent; the Savior is always with us. Perhaps the thought expressed here by the apostle will give a grain of comfort to a pastor who is away from his flock on a neces­sary vacation to build up his body and mind. God will keep the congregation in righteous ways and good works even in his absence. The apostle might have mentioned many ways in which this righteous life that becometh the Gospel of Christ should reveal itself. Indeed, his writings are replete with suggestions and directions and admonitions; he describes every item of a godly life and adduces many examples of good works. In the present passage he confines himself to one item in the Christians' godly life. He urges the Christians at Philippi that they "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel." By "standing fast in one ,spirit" he means that they are to show themselves :firm and unyielding in maintaining their faith, with unity of conviction, mind, and will. He wants this congregation to be a group of people who are united in spirit by the firm conviction that their common faith is absolutely true and who stand by this faith without wavering. The expression "in one spirit" does not refer to the Holy Spirit. Christians should feel themselves bound together by their faith and should be unwavering in the declaration of their faith. They should consider such matters as concern their faith as settled once for all between themselves and God. There should be no more questioning or quibbling or argument concerning the fundamental articles of their faith than there is about the facts of common arithmetic. These things are settled for all times and are beyond question. The apostle furthermore writes that he wishes to hear that the Philippians are "with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel." The word striving was taken from the language of sports; it is the word from which our English word "athletics" is derived. The Philippians are to strive, to exert themselves, to work hard, in order to uphold the faith of the Gospel. They have received the faith of the Gospel as a precious possession; they are to put forth every effort to keep their faith and to frustrate any attacks upon it, to drive back all enmity against it. Christians should go to great lengths in maintaining and defending their faith. They should contend for the faith of the Gospel as earnestly, as fervently, as vehemently, as those contend who are engaged in athletic combat. Defending our faith, maintaining it, propagating it, are earneSt and serious matters for the Christian. The unity with which this should be done is evident from the expression "with one mind" and from the preposition used in the original of the expression "striving together." Great tasks require united efforts, and there is comfort in numbers. The Philippians are to strive for the faith of the Gospel, not each one for himself, but 126 Sermon Study on Phil. 1,27-2,4. with combined efforts. And in doing so they are to act as if one mind, one soul, pervaded them, controlled them. Games are won in athletic contests, not through individual and separate activity, but by team-work, controlled by one mind. Ohristian activity for the faith of the Gospel has greatest force if Ohristians stand united as if they were all of one soul. It is a characteristic of the Lutheran Ohurch that its members are firm and steadfast in confessing their faith and that they are of one mind in striving for their faith. This unity in our Ohurch is a blessing of God and a result of our splendid educational system, through which the minds of our members are early molded by the Word of God and merged into one spirit and one mind in matters of faith. The apostle recognizes that he is not asking something easy. There will be difficulties to surmount. There are adversaries. He mentions them in v.28. There are false teachers who attack the faith of the Gospel, who try to break the faith and trust of the Ohris­tian, and who attempt to subvert the true Ohurch. There are also enemies who persecute and work harm and mischief to the Ohurch. The Philippians had to contend with such adversaries; and there was danger for them. But the apostle admonishes them not to be ter­rified. The word in the original for terrified referred to the shying of frightened horses. The Philippians should not get into a panicky condition because of their adversaries, not lose their head and heart. It was at Philippi that Paul had been thrust into prison by his adversaries; the Ohristians at Philippi knew how he had acquitted himself. It is a lesson for our own times. The Ohurch has its adversaries: the unbelieving world, carping critics, the unbelieving scientists and their blind followers, false teachers, and dangerous disturbers. But we are not to lose our assurance of faith when we encounter such enemies. Our faith is anchored upon the eternal Rock. The modern attacks against our faith are not modern; they are old weapons, thrust ~ack by the Ohurch in times past, but newly burnished. Let nothing terrify the Ohristian; he has God on his side. We must be prepared for these attacks lest we shy at them like horses at a piece of paper in the road. We must prepare our young people to expect, and defend themselves against, such attacks. While the apostle has these adversaries in mind, whose violent at­tacks should in no wise terrify the Ohristians, he adds a remark that affords consolation to Ohristians, v. 28. There is comfort in the thought that the staunch and unterrified valor of Ohristians, when attacked by adversaries, is evidence of the futility of the attacks and of the final ruin and perdition of the adversaries and at the same time an evidence of the final victory and salvation of the Ohristians. There is danger that the Ohristians, often weak in numbers and Sermon Study on Phil. 1,27-2,4. 127 strength, may be led to believe that the strength, the courage, and the adroitness of their enemies are an indication that there must be something to the argument and statements of the adversaries. H it is a high dignitary of a Church who makes a statement contrary to the doctrines of the Bible or a well-known scientist or anybody else of high standing in the world, many people sit up and take notice and believe the statement or argument must have force simply because of the source from which it comes. Many will bow in mental sub­mission to a great name without an understanding of the argument set forth. The apostle assures the Christians that they need not think the enmity against them is evidence of the weakness of their own position. When anyone attacks the Church of Christ and its doc­trines, he is beating against a stone wall with bare fists. On the other hand, the very fact that the Church is suffering attacks and persecutions, the very fact that a Christian has to submit to the attacks of unbelievers, is evidence of divine favor. Of course, this is true only of those who contend for the true faith of the Gospel. Errorists have also had to suffer. But there is no comfort for them here. We may think of the sufferings of Pharaoh, Korah, and Herod, sufferings sent as punishment. The adversity suffered by children of God is an assurance of final victory and the salvation which God will give them. While the apostle has in mind the sufferings which Christians may have to bear on account of the persecution of their adversaries, he adds another remark (vv. 29. 30) to show the right attitude a Christian should take toward the sufferings of this life. The per­secution and sufferings endured by Christians are really gracious gifts of God. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake," Matt. 5,10. God gives the Christians faith and then sends them suffering to strengthen their faith. The expression "not only, but also" lifts the gift of suffering to a place of distinction and im­portance in the Christian's life. Without faith there is no blessing in suffering; without suffering there is no endurance of faith. All who follow Jesus must take up His cross. The sufferings of the wicked are punishment; the sufferings of the children of God bring blessings. David's trouble brought repentance; Joseph's troubles brought him honor and glory. The word used in the original for ~'it is given" indicates the mercy of God in sending us trouble. And we are to look upon our suffering as endured for the sake of Christ. The expression "in behalf of Christ" must not be connected with "it is given." Suffering for the sake of Christ is a privilege given by God. And as it was comforting for the Philippians to know that their own Apostle Paul was also suffering in prison, so Christians are comforted by the thought that they are not alone in their suffering. The Philippians knew of Paul's imprisonment in their own city and 128 Sermon Study on Phil. 1,27-2,4. of his present imprisonment in Rome. The messenger who brought them the epistle from Rome, Epaphroditus, no doubt made a full report to them. We are comforted when we know of the sufferings of others; others are comforted when they know of our sufferings. Sufferings make companions in the Church of Christ. Chapter 2, although separated from chapter one by a chapter heading, is really a continuation of the same thought that has been followed so far. The first verse of the second chapter presents a dif­ficulty respecting its interpretation. One of the solutions offered is to make the verse read: If there is any consolation, then it is in Christ, etc. Thus the fourfold conditions in v.1 would stand alone, and v. 2 would be independent, beginning a new thought. Probably most of our readers will feel that such an arrangement takes v. 1 too far away from the continuity of thought in the text. The inter­pretation usually followed in our literature will be most satisfactory and does not violate the logical arrangement of the text. Accordingly, we hear the apostle saying: If the doctrine of Christ which I brought you affords any consolation to you at all, if there is anything in Christ's doctrine that can serve as an exhortation to you (for the Greek word is best understood here as meaning exhortation), then make my heart glad (v. 2) by harmony and concord among your­selves. The apostle is thinking of the evangelical exhortation he has given the Philippians and of the exhortations that Christians give each other. The translation consolation is justifiable for the reason that Christian exhortation, when successful, turns out to, be real consolation. David was exhorted by Nathan, and through the ex­hortation he received great consolation. Likewise the apostle says: If the love springing from your faith has any power to urge you, and if through the Holy Ghost there is any feeling of fellowship and brotherly relation among you, or if there is among you any mercy, feeling of benevolence and kindness emanating from your hearts (the expression "if any bowels and mercies" indicates kindness and its source), then you are to do as I have asked you to do in v.2. The apostle makes his statements conditional; but he knows that in the minds of his readers the answer will be an emphatic affirmative = Certainly there is exhortation in the doctrine that we have heard, etc. The apostle is therefore assured that the Christians at Philippi will heed his request that they make him glad (v. 2) by being of the same mind. The congregation at Philippi had always brought joy to the apostle's heart. The Epistle to the Philippians begins and ends with an acknowledgment that this congregation has caused him joy, 1,3.4; 4,15. He now asks that the Philippians increase his joy over them. Every Christian pastor is happy at the progress made by his congregation. ''1 have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth," 3 John 4. The apostle asks the Philippians to be lik& Sermon Study on Phil. 1,27-2,4. 129 minded. The Greek expresses it thus: "that ye think the same." He asks for harmonious thinking among the Christians as a pre­requisite for harmonious action. Thinking the same thing, their thoughts in spiritual matters running in the same channel, they will have the same love in their hearts. It will not be said of them that one loves the world and the other the Savior. This common love of the common Savior will unite their hearts in mutual love. The expression "being of one accord, of one mind," means as much as having their souls united, and it is simply a further emphasis of the expression "like-minded." In thought and soul, in mind and heart, there is to be complete accord. To achieve such complete accord, all peace-disturbing elements must be subjugated. Therefore the apol!tle counsels the congregation as in v. 3. The writer's omission of the verb in his sentence makes it emphatic. The word strife or faction has an original connotation of "serving for hire" and is used in the sense of seeking advantage by trickery. Certainly, if there is to be harmony and concord in the ~li~egation, there must be no factions, no party strife, no small groups opposing one another; and there must be no desire among the members to push themselves to the front at the expense of others, no ardent quest for honor and glory in the work of the church. Strife and jealousy are the ruin of congregational life; and strife and jealousy are the results of factions and desire for honor and glory. The translation through strife and vainglory should be understood as meaning "with strife and vainglory as a motive." The preposition employed frequently has this meaning. The best cure for these evils is to minimize one's own achievements and deserts and to think highly of others. And this is the apostle's counsel in vv.3 and 4. This is the exact opposite of the way of the world. It is characteristic of worldly people to esteem their own things, talents, achievements, successes, everything that is their own, very highly, and to disdain the accomplishments of others. As every one has a certain amount of pride or self-esteem in his bosom, this frequently leads to faction and friction. Nothing else can be expected of people in this world; but Christians, intent on keeping harmony among themselves, will heed the apostle's counsel; they will, in lowliness of mind, in humility, delight in the good they observe in others and gladly acknowledge it. They will willingly let another's reputation become greater than theirs. Jonathan acknowledged David's excellence and gladly permitted him to forge ahead. John the Baptist was very willing that Jesus should outstrip him. The Christian looks for excellence and superiority in others, not in himself. But such a state of mind is found only where there is true humility before God, where there is an. understanding of sin and grace. 9 130 ~i~tlofitionen fiber bie ~tfenacl)er ~\)ange1ientet~e. The material in this text may be grouped under any theme which expresses the central thought of the text, the "standing fast in one spirit, with one mind striving for the faith of the Gospel." It might be: Let Us Stand Steadfast in the Oonfession of Our Faith, despite all that adversaries may say or do, and not permit strife and factions to weaken our confession; and let us not be hindered in our confession by the prospect of suffering. -Or we may phrase our theme: Paul's Plea to the Ohristians at Philippi. 1. That they remain steadfast in the faith of the Gospel Their adversaries must not shake them. There is great value and blessing in the faith and doctrine of the Gospel (2, 1), which makes it worth while to remain steadfast. 2. That they strive for harmonY and concord in the congregation. 3. That they endure suffering willingly, esteeming it a God-given privilege.­Another theme: Oharacteristics of a True Ohristian Oongregation. St. Charles, Mo. FREDERIC N IEDNER. ~i~~J)fifu1ueu iilJu bie G:ifeultdju G:ultugdielUei~e. ~iettet Sonntag nad) (ilJi.~ljania£l. ;s 0 Jj. 4, 31-42. ~eutautage ift faft jebermann oereH anauneJjmen, ba13 ;s@;ue ~Jjri" ;tue dner ber gtil13ten, ttJenn nidjt ber gro13te, EeJjrer ber men; djJjeit ge" ttJefen rei. ;sn unferm Eanbe oefennen bie Eioeralen in ailen SHrdjen" gemein;djaften, audj unter ben ;suben, fidj au bie;em 6a~. 60gar geleJjde ~eiben in ben ~eibenliinbern iiu13ern ;oldje ~nfidjten. man nennt ben ~@rrn gern !Raooi, !n. 31. ~oer ;s@fum ale eingeoornen 60Jjn ®ottee unb ~eilanb ber !melt anauerfennen, bagegen ;triiuot man iidj mit ailer madjt, eoen;oieJjr ttJie frliJjer bie ~rianer, 60ainianer unb !Rationali;ten. ~odj i;t gerabe em ;oldjee lBefenntnie notig, ttJenn ein menfdj ein ttJaJjrer ~Jjrift f ein ttJill. Un; er ~eilanb Jjode ee ttJoJjI gerne, ba13 iJjm ;eine ;slinger ben 5titel !Raobi gaoen, ;soJj. 13, 13; aoer bennodj erttJiee er fidj flar unb beutlidj are 60Jjn ®ottee unb 6eligmadjer ber 6iinber unb freute ;idj wer foldje ~nerfennung, mattJj. 16, 16; ~oJj. 20,28; 3,16; 1, 12 ft.; mattJj. 3, 17. ;sm @bangelium bee Jjeutigen 60nntage Jjaoen ttJit: ~ine Offenlillrnng bet S!!enlidifeit ~fu al£l be£l S!!eUanbe£l bet !melt. ~er ~@rr aeigt une 1. fein Jjerrlidjee miffionefelb, 2. ; ei n e n Jj e r rl i dj en m i if ion e aUf tr a g, 3. ; ei n e Jj e rr Ii dj e m i if ion ~ b e r Jj e i 13 u n g.