Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the Bible there are two books which are concerned with experience rather than with doctrine. These books are Song of Songs and Philippians. Apparently these books have no relation to each other. But if we get into the depths of these books, we shall find that they are sister books and that both are concerned with the experience of Christ. For this reason, it would be helpful to study the Song of Songs along with the book of Philippians.
We have pointed out that four New Testament books make up the heart of the divine revelation. These books are Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians all have a similar pattern of composition. In these books Paul first presents doctrines, then experience. After setting forth a certain doctrine, Paul encourages us to walk according to that doctrine. Ephesians, for example, is written in two main parts. The first part, chapters one through three, sets forth the doctrine regarding the church, the Body of Christ. But the second section, composed of chapters four through six, is concerned with our walk according to the doctrine unfolded in the first three chapters. Since Ephesians is composed in this way, it is a book of both doctrine and experience. In principle, the same is true of Galatians and Colossians.
The book of Philippians, however, is different in this regard. It is not Paul’s intention in writing this book to convey doctrine. This does not mean that there is no doctrinal element in this book. All the New Testament writings have a doctrinal ingredient. But strictly speaking, Philippians is not concerned with doctrine; it is concerned with the experience of Christ.
In 1:20 Paul says, “Christ shall be magnified in my body,” and in 1:21 he declares, “To me to live is Christ.” These two statements represent the basic concept of the whole book. In this book we are charged to magnify Christ and to live Him. To magnify Christ is not only to express Him; it is to express Christ by causing Him to be enlarged. We should magnify Christ by living Him in a practical way day by day. Our daily living should be a living that lives Christ. Certain ethical teachings encourage people to live by particular virtues. The book of Philippians, however, does not charge us to live according to ethics or virtues; it charges us to live according to Christ. Christ must be everything in our daily living. He must be even such virtues as humility and kindness.
Before Paul was saved, his life was centered around the law, and he lived the law. But after he was converted to Christ and was regenerated, he began to live Christ. Christ became not only Paul’s life, but also his living. Eventually, according to his experience, Paul could declare that to him to live was Christ.
In this message we shall consider the background and subject of Philippians. Every book in the Bible has both a background and a subject. Since the book of Philippians is concerned with the experience of Christ, some may think that there is no need to consider the background. However, even this book on the experience of Christ was written with a certain kind of background. This background is the reason the book was written. In order to get into the depths of the significance of this book, we must know its background.
The book of Philippians does not say explicitly what the background is. But as we consider Paul’s statements and exhortations in this book, we detect certain hints regarding the background. If we read the four chapters of this book carefully, we shall find four elements related to the background.
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