Search Bible Outlines and commentaries




The path of humble service — seeking the prosperity of others above our own personal interests — is not the path we would naturally choose. In fact we shrink back from such a challenge. How can such a life be possible?


A. We Must Work Hard at Persevering in Humble Service (:12)

1. The Example of Christ should be Sufficient Motivation


“Wherefore” always introduces the logical application of a truth that has been presented = the example of Christ.

“In total abandonment to the will of God for the good of those He loved, He gave up all the rights that He had as the eternal Son of God. He veiled His essential glory in human flesh, and He went to the cross, not for His own good but because He sought the good of those whom He loved.”

“In Paul’s mind, if his presence would put pressure upon them, the example of the loving suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ ought to put even greater pressure on them. It was Paul’s greatest desire to please a person. That was the motive in his personal life, and it was not necessary for that Person to be present.”

– the extent of obedience should always be consistent since our accountability is not to men, but to God — “just as always you obeyed not as in my presence only but now much more in my absence”

– the degree of obedience of the child is not determined by what the child does when the parent is present, but by what he does when the parent is absent.

the Philippians did have a good track record in terms of obedience and Paul is quick to soften the impact of his exhortations with appropriate praise

2. Our Attitude must be that of a Humble Servant — striving to please his master “with fear and trembling”

possibly an idiomatic expression of the times

1 Cor. 2:3; 2 Cor.7:15; Eph.6:5

cf. hostess wanting to make sure everything is just right for a distinguished guest

opposite of being high-minded and proud and arrogant and self-confident

3. The Responsibility for Persevering in Humble Service Rests on Each of Us — “keep working out the salvation of yourselves”

not talking about works earning our salvation — we know we are “saved by grace thru faith and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast”

lit. “to carry out to its intended goal, to carry to its ultimate conclusion; accomplish” — speaking not of justification but of the path of sanctification that ultimately leads to glorification

they could not depend on the Apostle Paul or even on their elders for their own progress in Christlikeness — in a life of humble service (“your own” is emphatic by position)

Why suffer for loving others? Christ did it and so should we

Don’t give up when pressure or suffering come — remember it has

been granted to us not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake

B. God Works Efficaciously to Make It Possible For Us to Persevere in Humble Service (:13)

Gives us hope and assurance

1. Graciously grants the DESIRE to live a life of humble service in harmony with God’s good pleasure

2. Graciously grants the POWER to carry out that desire

word = “effective energy” — only used of supernatural power in the NT

Carson: “God’s continuous, gracious, sovereign work in our lives becomes for us an incentive to press on with fear and trembling.”


Paul uses 6 different approaches to urge the Philippians to maintain a blameless testimony in harmony with their privileged calling and new nature as children of God

A. Warning — Do Not Spoil Your Humble Service (:14)

Danger lies in wait to ruin our testimony

“Do all things” — everything that submitting to humbling yourself and serving others calls for some people try to avoid temptation by sitting life out as a spectator; not taking the risks of Christian ministry.

Paul says “Get involved; Be aggressive in taking every oppty. for humble service”

But Do Not Spoil Your Humble Service

1. By Grumblings

Background = OT grumblings of children of Israel in the wilderness

2. By Arguments Lenski: evil rationalizing thoughts and calculations (Rom. 1:21; 1 Cor. 1:20)

Lenski: “not referring to quarrels that would disrupt unity among brothers; but grumbling at the disagreeable hardships of life and persecution”

Other commentators feel that the context of the epistle deals with quarrels among the brothers that destroy church unity

B. Description — of the Type of Children that Make a Father Proud —

The Character of a Blameless Testimony

1. Blameless — nothing people can censure you for

2. Pure; innocent — unmixed; unadulterated —

devoid of matters foreign or improper to a pure heart

3. Children of God — ones who faithfully reflect the image and nature of their Father

this is where the emphasis lies

4. Without blemish; no flaws (cf. the absence of defects in sacrificial animals)

C. Reminder — of the Evil Environment and Perverse Peer Pressure that Wage War Against a Blameless Testimony

“in the midst of a generation crooked and perverted”

D. Picture — Be a Shining Star for Christ in the midst of such darkness; Be a lighthouse in your community with worldwide impact thru participation in the body of Christ

The Impact of a Blameless Testimony — a Picture helps you to Visualize the successful implementation of the Biblical principle

it is possible for us not to be shining as brightly as we should because something is clouding or obscuring our testimony

How will the world ever see the light if the light does not shine brightly?

E. Focus — The Source and Power of a Blameless Testimony

– Source — we need the content

– Power — we need the content in its efficacy

1st Option — “Holding fast the Word of Life” in peseverance; this would fit as a grounds for Paul’s boasting in the day of Christ

Other option — “holding forth the Word of life” in evangelism; this would closely parallel what precedes

Both are true; you must continue to give attention to observing the Word of life yourself in order to be able to offer it to others

F. Personal Plea — The Importance of Our Blameless Testimony to Our Spiritual Leaders — Paul’s own stake in this matter

Desire to see his ministry proved effective in the lives of others rather than futile;

Paul has invested a lot of hard work and sacrifice in their spiritual growth;

The true results will be manifest at the day of Christ


A. Fellowship in Sacrificial Service and Suffering Is Viewed as An Offering to God

OT background of drink offering

Springs from faith

Carson: “Then, if Paul has to give up his life, his sacrifice is merely a kind of libation poured out on top of their sacrifice. Such a libation is meaningless unless it is poured out on a more substantial sacrifice. But their Christian living is that sacrifice; Paul’s martyrdom–should it occur–or the pains, sufferings, and persecutions he faces as an apostle are the complementary drink offering poured over theirs.”

B. Fellowship in Joy Must Be the Dominating Tone

We must first be rejoicing ourselves

Then we must be rejoicing together