1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,
5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
7 just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.
8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,
10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,
11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,
13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;
14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill:
16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains;
17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.
23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.
24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.
25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,
26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.
27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.
29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
There was a work that began with our turning to Christ that is yet in need of much development towards completion. While this work is God’s doing, there are many potential participants, as what affects one can have a direct influence on many. As Paul was encountering what could appear to be discouraging and detrimental in the chains that restrained him, he disallowed their effect and even utilized them for participating together with others in the grace of God. He did this by stirring up and maintaining love in powerful affection for those he could bond with. He was proactive in fulfilling his role in their development, including them in his every prayer, with a passionate request for them to ever grow in the character and likeness of Christ that touches every part of life with wisdom and righteousness. As enduring suffering of some nature is inevitable in the walk of the new life, by grace activated in love, any adversity was made to be a tool for God’s working rather than against it. Even death was stripped of its foreboding as it was seen as a welcomed improvement rather than something to be feared.
There will always be a reason to be ill-effected by the experiences and circumstances of life, allowing them to bring separation and isolation. In our new life, though, we’ve been given a way to turn any difficulty into a strengthening exercise. Since the work that continues towards completion is one of love, the attacks against can be unifying when they become an inspiration for increased expressions of love in prayer and encouragement. When our reason for remaining on this earth is believed to be for the betterment of others, everything will look different and be used differently. Love will ignite so much better things than strife and disunity.