Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Philippians 1:18-21 is one sentence. In verse 18 Paul says, “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is announced, and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.” Verse 19 begins with the word for. This indicates that verse 19 is an explanation of verse 18. Verse 19 says, “For I know that for me this shall turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” The word this refers to the different preachings of Christ mentioned by Paul in the foregoing verses. Through the petition of the saints and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Paul knew that these different preachings would turn out to salvation. Then verse 20 opens with the words according to my earnest expectation and hope. This phrase modifies salvation in verse 19. With a full hope, Paul expected to enjoy salvation. Verse 20 indicates that the salvation Paul expected to enjoy was that in nothing he would be put to shame, but that with all boldness, as always, Christ would be magnified in his body.
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was in prison in a foreign country, far away from his homeland. Paul had good reason to worry and be sad. Since his circumstances were so difficult, he could have easily wept about his situation. However, if Paul had been weeping instead of rejoicing, he could not have said, “For me this shall turn out to salvation.” If he had wept, he would not have experienced salvation in that environment. Suppose you were a Jew held captive in a Roman prison. Would you have rejoiced? I am sure we all would have felt sorrowful and homesick. But instead of weeping, Paul rejoiced in the Lord. For him, everything that happened turned out to salvation.
According to the context of these verses, salvation means that Paul was not put to shame in anything. Not only did he not feel shameful, but nothing caused him to be put to shame. Christ was magnified in Paul’s body. This magnification of Christ, spoken of in verse 20, is the very salvation mentioned in verse 19. This means that the salvation which was according to Paul’s earnest expectation and hope was that he would not be put to shame, but would magnify Christ in his body. Therefore, in verse 20 we have a definition of the practical enjoyment of salvation.
To enjoy this kind of salvation is to live Christ. This is the reason Paul says in verse 21, “For to me to live is Christ.”
Paul’s sufferings did not put him to shame. Instead, they afforded him an opportunity to magnify Christ. If we experience the salvation mentioned in these verses, then when we undergo suffering, we shall magnify Christ and not be put to shame. But if we are defeated by suffering, suppressed by it, and filled with worry, we shall be put to shame. But if we magnify Christ in sufferings, we shall experience this salvation.
One day the wife of a certain brother died. Her death was a great loss to her husband and children. If in our contact with this brother we had seen nothing but sorrow and tears, we would have had a sense of shame. In such a case, the loss of his wife would have brought him into shame, and there would have been no manifestation of Christ and no magnification of Him. As a result, there would have been no experience of salvation. Rather, the brother’s experience in grieving over the loss of his wife would not have been different from the experience of an unbeliever. However, with this brother the situation was very different. He could rejoice, praise the Lord, and testify of the Lord’s grace. Truly in his situation the Lord was manifested and magnified, and the brother experienced salvation. In this experience of salvation, the brother was saved in his suffering from the loss of his wife. Furthermore, this salvation enabled the brother to magnify Christ.
The experience of this brother in magnifying Christ after the loss of his wife illustrates Paul’s experience in prison. Although he was a prisoner in a foreign country, his suffering did not put him to shame. According to Paul’s earnest expectation and hope, Christ was magnified in him, and Paul enjoyed the Lord’s salvation.
The key to Paul’s experience of salvation was the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Everything that happened to Paul turned out to salvation through this bountiful supply. Between salvation in verse 19 and the magnifying of Christ in verse 20, we have the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Actually, in our experience, salvation, Christ, and the bountiful supply of the Spirit are one. But if we would enjoy Christ and experience Him as our salvation in every circumstance, we need the bountiful supply of the Spirit. Just as this Spirit dwelt in the apostle Paul during his imprisonment, He also dwells within us today. Through the supply of such a Spirit, Paul enjoyed salvation.
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