Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
According to the book of Philippians, there is a salvation which is constant in our practical life. To say that this salvation is constant means that it is a salvation we may experience every day, every hour, and every moment.
In Philippians 1 and 2 Paul uses the word salvation twice. In 1:19 he says, “For I know that for me this shall turn out to salvation.” In 2:12 he says to the saints in Philippi, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” The salvation in 1:19 denotes the salvation Paul experienced during his imprisonment in Rome. A typical Jew, he was held a prisoner in Rome, far from his native land. Using today’s terms, Paul was held captive by the Roman imperialists. It certainly was a shameful, dishonorable thing for a Jew to be held in a Roman prison. Most of the time, Paul was probably chained to a guard. It certainly must have been an insult for an educated upperclass Jew to be chained to a guard in a Roman prison. It was also dishonorable for such an apostle of the Lord Jesus to be imprisoned in such a way. Nevertheless, Paul testified that his situation would turn out to him for salvation.
In 1:19 Paul is not referring to eternal salvation, the salvation from hell and the judgment of God. That salvation is objective. What Paul has in mind here is a very subjective, experiential salvation, a salvation experienced not once for all, but moment by moment.
When Paul said that he expected his situation to turn out for his salvation, he did not have in mind release from prison. Some readers of the book of Philippians may think that Paul’s expectation was that, through the prayers of the saints, especially those in Philippi, he would be released from prison. However, according to the grammatical construction of 1:19-21, this cannot be the meaning of salvation here. The salvation in verse 19 is related to Paul’s word in verse 20 about not being put to shame in anything and about Christ being magnified in his body, whether through life or through death. Hence, in verse 20 we have the definition of the salvation mentioned in verse 19. Therefore, salvation here consists of not being put to shame in anything, but of magnifying Christ in everything.
Salvation here certainly does not mean release from prison. Instead, it means that, no matter how difficult Paul’s situation was and no matter how insulting, he would not be put to shame in anything. Rather, Christ would be magnified in his body. Not even being chained to a guard would hinder Paul from magnifying Christ. This is what we mean by constant salvation.
Actually, the word constant is not adequate to describe the salvation in 1:19. All our words are related to our culture. If a certain matter does not exist in our culture, we shall not have a word for it. The salvation here is altogether wonderful and marvelous, and no word is sufficient to describe it fully. Not even in prison would Paul be put to shame. Instead of being put to shame, he knew that he would magnify Christ. This was Paul’s salvation.
Suppose instead of rejoicing in the Lord, Paul wept about his situation and complained, saying, “I’m an educated Jew and also an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, called, commissioned, and sent by Him. Now I’m in prison chained to a guard. How terrible!” If Paul had wept and complained, he would have been put to shame. However, Paul did not weep or complain. On the contrary, he rejoiced in the Lord. Anyone who visited him in prison may have been astonished and amazed. Perhaps Paul even testified to the jailer that he was happy in the Lord and rejoiced in Him. Possibly Paul’s enjoyment of Christ in prison may have been a factor in bringing Onesimus, a runaway slave, to salvation. Anyone who observed Paul in prison would have seen a man praising the Lord and rejoicing.
When Paul was imprisoned in Philippi, he and Silas sang praises to the Lord. (Acts 16:23-26). To be sure, the Philippian believers knew of Paul’s experience there in prison. They knew that the praises of Paul and Silas brought in a great earthquake. No doubt, while in prison in Rome, Paul also exercised himself to sing praises to the Lord. Far from being found complaining or weeping, he could be found rejoicing in the Lord, singing praises to Him, and testifying concerning Him. This is constant salvation.
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