The previous study emphasized the concept of leadership. Paul stood as a bold leader in the early church, and the last study took note of how people followed his lead and shared the gospel with others. Some people did it out of a heart of love, while others did it out of pride. In today’s study, we examine Paul’s reaction, starting in Philippians 1:18.
“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” (NKJV).
Paul understood that those who preach out of a spirit of love help the cause of Christ and do not damage the name of Christ or heap undue persecution on him. He also understands that those who preach out of a spirit of pride are preaching for the wrong reasons and do not reflect God’s character in how they deliver the gospel. Nevertheless, Christ was still being preached.
Based on the above criteria, Paul deems it as a net positive. Even if it requires him to work harder and under greater persecution, he had laser-focused goals on getting the gospel out. And regardless of whatever reasons others got that truth out, he rejoiced in knowing that Christ was being preached to a world that desperately needed Him then and still needs Him today.
Following Paul’s conversion, he was “all in” for the cause of Christ. That was what got him up out of bed and propelled him throughout the day. These ideas manifest themselves in the next section of this letter.
“For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 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” (NKJV, Philippians 1:19-20).
Although Paul viewed it as a net positive that others followed his lead, he realized that it came at a great personal cost. He had two factors that he was certain would help him persevere though.
First, Paul relied on the prayers of believers. Prayer is the one of the most powerful forces in the world. Prayer is not limited to any geographical, political, or economic barrier. Whether you are praying for someone thousands of miles away from you or for someone right next to you, God is ready and willing to hear and answer that prayer.
In that day, there were no airplanes, cars, or trains to speed up the process, so it would have taken plenty of time for anyone to travel to him. But he knew that when believers who were congregated even far away from him prayed on his behalf, geographical distance was no hindrance to God’s hearing and answering of prayer.
The Bible further reveals that prayers that come from righteous people are powerful. God still works miracles today. Many of those miracles come as a result of the consistent prayers of His dedicated children.
Second, Paul relied on the Holy Spirit. In John 16, the Bible states that it is better that Jesus return to heaven so that the Holy Spirit could come. Another term used in the Bible for the Holy Spirit is “comforter.” As the Holy Spirit indwells every believer, He is able to provide guidance and comfort when we need it most. Paul comprehended this and trusted the Holy Spirit to help him.
Without God, we cannot do anything. He is the vine, and we are the branches. Just as branches separated from the vine cannot survive, let alone produce any fruit, so also must we as Christians be connected to God. Only then can we grow and produce fruit.
The purpose of this desire for prayer on his behalf and his reliance on the Holy Spirit is due to his aspiration to boldly magnify God’s name. He wanted to tell the world the awesome truth that Jesus offers eternal life to all who believe. He wanted to bear fruit which he could only produce when connected to the vine.
Because this goal of seeing people come to Christ so consumed Paul, he wanted his entire life while living and his memory afterwards to be a means of transmitting the gospel.
As we fast-forward 2,000 years later, we see he got his wish. He managed to write a large portion of the New Testament. These writings have proclaimed the truth that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, was buried, and rose again, so that all who place their faith in Jesus alone for salvation will be saved from their sins and live in eternal bliss with Him.