Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The first four verses of Philippians 2 are one long sentence. Verses 1 and 2 say, “If there is therefore any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of spirit, if any tenderheartedness and compassions, make my joy full, that you think the same thing, having the same love, joined in soul, thinking the one thing.” In verses 1 and 2 the apostle appealed to the Philippians for their encouragement and consolation. He begged them to make his joy full, if they had any encouragement in Christ, any consolation of love, any fellowship of spirit, and any tenderheartedness and compassions toward him.
The predicate in 2:1-4 is make my joy full. Since this book is concerned with the experience and enjoyment of Christ, which issue in joy, it is also a book filled with joy and rejoicing (1:4, 25, 18; 2:17-18, 28-29; 3:1; 4:1, 4). Among the Philippians there was dissension in their thinking (4:2), dissension which troubled the apostle. Hence, he asked them to think the same thing, even the same one thing, that they might make his joy full.
In 2:1-4 we see the fellowship between the believers and the apostle. The traffic in Philippians 1 is one-way traffic from the apostle to the believers. Now in chapter two we see the traffic from the believers to the apostle. Fellowship requires such two-way traffic. This two-way traffic is for the experience of Christ. Because Paul was rich in the experience of Christ, he could present an account of his experience to the believers in chapter one. This was his fellowship to them. Now in chapter two he asks the believers in Philippi to return the fellowship to him.
Paul appealed to the Philippians that if there was any encouragement in Christ, any consolation of love, any fellowship of spirit, any tenderheartedness and compassions toward him, they would make his joy full. Paul could rejoice over the Philippians, but something about them kept him from rejoicing in a full way. Paul could say, “Philippians, I have joy concerning you, but my joy is not full. There is something among you which hinders me from rejoicing in a full way. I beg you to make my joy full.”
Philippians 2:1-4 was obviously written by an experienced person, full of maturity. The tone of Paul’s words is tender and soft. Because of the way Paul wrote these verses, most readers of Philippians do not understand them adequately. This is especially true of verse 1. What is Paul talking about in this verse? Why does he inquire if there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation of love, any fellowship of spirit, or any tenderheartedness and compassions? Paul was saying that if the Philippians had such things for him, they would make his joy full. If they had any encouragement, consolation, fellowship, tenderheartedness and compassions, they would be eager to cause the apostle Paul to rejoice in full.
These words could not have been uttered by a young man. A young person would have spoken in a strong, direct way, saying, “Philippians, do you love me? If you love me, you must encourage me.” The tone would have been harsh instead of soft. Paul’s tone and expression testify of his maturity. He appealed to them and begged them to respond to his fellowship. He had given them such positive fellowship in the preceding chapter. Now he wanted them to return this fellowship. Such a return of fellowship would be the believers’ support to the apostle. Their encouragement, consolation, and tenderheartedness would support Paul in his imprisonment.
Although Paul was a prisoner, his concern was not for his imprisonment. Instead, he was concerned about the attitude of the believers and for the kind of spirit they had toward him. Nothing hurt the apostle as much as a negative attitude of the believers toward him. In other words, Paul was not troubled by his imprisonment, but he was troubled by the situation among the believers in Philippi. He was very concerned about their spiritual condition. Therefore, Paul appealed to the Philippians to make him happy to the uttermost. Paul needed their encouragement, consolation, and fellowship to be a support to him. If the Philippians would render him such support, they would make his joy full.
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