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Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-7363-0912-8
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 15 of 62 Section 1 of 3

LIFE-STUDY OF PHILIPPIANS

MESSAGE FIFTEEN

THE APOSTLE’S CONCERN FOR THE BELIEVERS

Scripture Reading: Phil. 2:19-30

In 2:19-30 we see Paul’s concern for the believers. Immediately after referring to himself as a drink offering poured out upon the sacrifice and priestly service of the believers’ faith, Paul speaks of sending Timothy and Epaphroditus, two intimate co-workers, to the saints in Philippi. We may wonder why Paul turned to such a matter, which seems to have no relationship to the experience of Christ. However, if we get into the depths of this portion of the book of Philippians, we shall see that it is definitely related to the experience of Christ.

EXPERIENCING CHRIST AND CARING FOR THE SAINTS

In 2:20 and 21 Paul says, “For I have no one like-souled who will genuinely care for what concerns you; for all seek their own things, not the things of Christ Jesus.” In these verses we find a strong hint that even Paul’s concern for the believers was the concern for the things of Christ and for the genuine experience of Christ. Besides Timothy, Paul did not have another who was like-souled with him. Paul’s soul was concerned with the things of Christ. What are the things of Christ? The things of Christ are the churches with all the saints.

Here we see the important point that if our seeking after Christ does not result in a concern for the church, our seeking is at least somewhat abnormal or biased. Many Christians today are seeking spirituality, but they have no concern for the churches with the saints. Such a spiritual seeking is not normal. Where today can you find believers who are truly seeking after Christ with a concern for the churches and the saints? We must check our seeking after Christ in relation to the concern for the churches with the saints. Many desire to be “spiritual,” “holy,” or “victorious.” Those who pursue spirituality without a concern for the churches are misled in their seeking. The normal seeking after Christ includes a concern for the churches and the saints.

In this Epistle, Paul does not cover the experience of Christ in a doctrinal way. Rather, little by little, he unveils the genuine experience of Christ and enjoyment of Christ by dealing with practical matters and actual situations. In 2:19-30 he indicates that the experience of Christ must include a concern for the churches and the saints. We may have the concept that the experience of Christ is one thing, but the concern for the church is another. Not many of us may realize that to experience Christ and to enjoy Christ is actually to care for the church, and to care for the church is to experience Christ and enjoy Him. Our natural tendency is to separate these things. We may think that because we are enjoying Christ, we do not have time to care for the church. Or, on the other side, we may think that because we are so busy in caring for the church, we have no time to enjoy Christ. It is important for us to see in 2:19-30 that these two things must be one. If we truly experience Christ and enjoy Him, this should result in a concern for the church and the saints. There is a principle in the Word that if our seeking after Christ and our experience of Christ do not result in a concern for the churches and the saints, our seeking and our experience are abnormal. The experience of Christ must be for His Body.

I believe that, deep within, as Paul was testifying that he was willing to be poured out as a drink offering upon the believers’ faith, he was concerned for them. In these verses Paul seems to be saying, “My desire is to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and priestly service of your faith. Because I am in prison, I have no way to come to you. If I were at liberty to do so, I would visit you immediately. Since I am not able to come, I shall send Timothy, one whose experience of Christ makes him full of concern for the churches and the saints.” I wish to emphasize again and again the crucial point that the genuine experience of Christ will always cause us to care for the churches and the saints.

I have often said that if we have good fellowship with the Lord in the morning, we shall be eager to meet with the church in the evening. This is another indication that the real experience of Christ always turns us to the church and results in a care for the saints.

Caring for the church because we have the genuine experience of Christ is very different from the so-called pastoring work common among Christians today. That kind of work may be a distraction from the true experience of Christ. However, the concern for the church which issues from the experience of Christ is not a distraction from the enjoyment of Christ. Because that kind of pastoring work often becomes a preoccupation which keeps people from the enjoyment of Christ, many of today’s pastors have no time to enjoy the Lord.

Paul’s concern for the churches and the saints came out of his experience of Christ. The real concern for the church will always proceed from the experience of Christ and the enjoyment of Christ.

No doubt, both Timothy and Epaphroditus were younger than Paul. In verse 22 Paul says of Timothy, “But you know his approvedness, that as a child with a father he has served with me in the gospel.” The Greek word rendered approvedness means “approved worth, proof of having been tested.” We have seen that in verse 20 Paul speaks of Timothy as one who was like-souled. Timothy’s being like-souled with the apostle Paul was the secret of his experience of Christ.


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