Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In reading the book of Philippians it is important to find out what are the basic factors which motivated Paul in his writing. In chapter three the motivating factors are the need for the dealing with the soul and with the body. We have seen that Paul referred to two groups of people, the Judaizers and the Epicureans, in giving instructions to the saints concerning how to deal with the soul and with the body. As we come now to 4:5-9, we find eight excellent characteristics. We need to ask why at this point in his writing Paul mentions these characteristics.
Chapter four is a word of conclusion. As he was composing this concluding word, Paul was still motivated by those factors which caused him to write the first three chapters. He was still considering such matters as thinking the same thing by pursuing Christ and rejoicing in the Lord in order to enjoy the riches of Christ. In the first three chapters of Philippians Paul refers to the inner reality of the experience of Christ. But prior to chapter four, he does not give any illustrations of the outer expression of this reality. If we enjoy Christ and experience Him, we shall have a certain inner reality. Such an inward reality invariably issues in an outward expression. In 4:5-9 we find a full expression of this inward reality, a full expression of a life that lives Christ.
In 1:21 Paul declares, “To me to live is Christ.” This statement is a testimony of Paul’s inner reality. But what is the real expression of a life that lives Christ? This expression is found in the virtues listed in 4:5-9. In the same principle, in chapter two Paul sets forth Christ as our pattern. Suppose we take the crucified and exalted Christ as our pattern. What will be the expression of a life which lives according to this pattern? The expression is in 4:5-9. The same is true with respect to Paul’s word in chapter three concerning counting all things loss, even refuse, in order to gain Christ. What kind of expression will there be in a person’s life if that one condemns philosophy, rejects culture, and renounces religion, counting them as refuse in order to gain Christ? What kind of life will such a person live, and what will be the practical expression of this life? Once again we would point out that the expression is seen in 4:5-9.
Although Philippians is a short book, the factors which motivated the writing of this book are rich and profound. In these messages we have been exercised to dig into the depths of Philippians and bring these factors to light. This is also our purpose in considering chapter four. What was the factor which motivated Paul to write this concluding chapter in the way he did? Why immediately after speaking of rejoicing in the Lord does he go on to speak of forbearance and anxiety? Why does he continue with naming certain virtues, and why do these virtues not include such things as holiness, victory, and patience? The basic factor within Paul motivating him to write this concluding word was the need to show the expression of a life that lives Christ, that takes Christ as the pattern, that counts all religious, philosophical, and cultural things as refuse, and that enjoys Christ as everything. With this as his motivation, Paul composed chapter four as a concluding word to this Epistle.
The title of this message is “Excellent Characteristics of the Christian Life.” But it could be entitled “The Expression of a Life Which Lives Christ.” The latter title is deeper and more profound than the former. This portion of Philippians presents the expression of a life that lives Christ—a life that takes Christ as the pattern and counts all things refuse in order to gain more of Christ.
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