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These short expositions have been complied from our Website's "Standing With the Bagwells Page," which is updated each day.

Along with personal news and prayer requests ... we try to include a few minutes in God's Word.

Lately we've been in Paul's sweetest Epistle, Philippians.

Study with us!

--- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Visit "Phrases From Philippians, Part 2" also!



 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15





The opening words of Paul's sweetest Epistle are unusual.  Paul here does not call himself an "Apostle" of Jesus Christ!  He did so in Romans, both Corinthian Letters, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, both Epistles to Timothy and the one to Titus as well!  When using that particular term, Apostle, Paul is having to exercise some of his God given "authority" to either rebuke or correct or teach the Church in one way or another.

However, in Philippians and 1st and 2nd Thessalonians he omits his "rank" and just greets the Christians personally.  Such an opening sentence is a harbinger of good things to come!

Listen to Philippians 1:1.  "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints ...." 

Here, instead of being an "apostle," Paul is just a "servant" of Jesus Christ! That noun ("doulos") means a lowly slave!  Paul and Timothy, the old and the young, the bold and the timid, the educated and the unlearned, the Jew and the half Gentile, cheerfully calling themselves slaves of Jesus Christ!

Why would they use such wording?

It's a "hint" of things to come, folks!

This whole Epistle is one of "servanthood!"

Chapter two even tells us that God the Son came to earth a a Servant, the word "doulos" being used again!

If Jesus was willing to come to earth as God's Sin yet God's slave ... to die for sinners ... we Christians should have no trouble at all living lowly lifestyles too!

Paul wrote that Jesus ... "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant ("doulos," slave) ...." 

Then Paul said in so many words, "Be like Him!"

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus!"


                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The "greeting" Paul uses in Philippians 1:1 contains a critically important word! "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi ...."

The little word I need to emphasize is "all."

In Greek it's an adjective, plural in number, and dative in case.

Paul is saying that this Letter, this Epistle is lovingly addressed to ALL ... to EVERY ONE ... of the Believers in Christ who reside in Philippi.

No one is omitted, not even the poor folks or the slaves or the sickly!

Each Christian is treated the same!

In fact, upon reviewing the facts, I noticed that Paul uses the word "all" very often in this short little Book!

Twenty six times in four chapters to be exact!

Hello in Christ to ALL!  "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi ...."

Paul prays for them ALL!  "Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy ...."  Philippians 1:4

He thinks of them ALL!   Philippians 1:7a

They ALL are partakers of God's good Grace!   Philippians 1:7d

Paul longs after them ALL in Christ, craves their fellowship!  Philippians 1:8

The Apostle plans to come visit them ALL soon, after being released from a Roman prison.  Philippians 1:25

He rejoices with them ALL!  Philippians 2:17

Timothy also longs after ALL the Philippians!  (2:26)

Paul wants the Church to be filled with "moderation" or kindness ... equally expressed to ALL!  Philippians 4:5

And, in closing his Epistle, Paul takes extra care to show that ALL the saints at Rome send love to the Philippians, thereby exhibiting impartial Holy Spirit induced love among the Brethren!  Philippians 4:22

And, at the conclusion, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. "

But ... why this "all" emphasis?

Remember that Paul often drops little "hints" in his opening paragraphs, "hints" as to the purpose of a Letter!   I would definitely say that in Philippi ALL the saints were NOT living in complete harmony!

And we later see the truth of that evaluation!

Two church members, two saints have NOT been enjoying unbroken fellowship!

They have had disagreements and maybe even open arguments.  At least, the whole Church knew about it!

Paul writes:  "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord."  Philippians 4:2

Ladies, you ALL love one another! 

Patch those broken bonds of love!

Quit fighting!

Yes, here we have a whole Epistle built around the concept of us "ALL" who are in Christ, washed in His Blood, loving Him and serving Him in complete harmony while still on earth!

May we ALL graciously obey!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Apostle Paul directs his great Philippian Letter, of course, to the saints in the Greek city of Philippi!

And he specifically includes the "bishops and deacons!"

"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons ...."  Philippians 1:1

This is interesting!

Liberal preachers and non Bible-believing teachers do not think Paul wrote the Letters of 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus!

One reason they deny Pauline authorship over the Pastoral Epistles is that the Church, they say, is there too well developed for Paul's day!  They suggest that such offices as pastor and bishop and deacon did not develop until a much later time in church history.

But they have a problem!

The same crowd that says Paul did not write Timothy and Titus ... feely admit that he wrote Philippians, that sweet little "thank you" letter to the Macedonians!

BUT the same offices are mentioned in Philippians that are discussed in the Pastoral Epistles!  And Philippians is one of Paul's earlier Books!

Of course, liberalism has never made a lot of sense, has it?

Again, in Philippians ... "to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons ...." 

Bishops, a noun, translates "episkopos" and means he who "looks" (scope) "over" (epi) a congregation, caring for its spiritual well-being!  An "overseer!"

That what the Pastor does, you know!

And deacons ("diakonos") are men who simply serve the preacher and the church!  They are helpers ... not "bosses" by the way!  In Acts 6 these folks were chosen to wait on tables and help widow ladies in their time of need!

And both duties were already being pursued by men at Philippi!

Interestingly, they are never mentioned again in this whole Philippian Epistle!

But the salutation or introduction sure highlights them and their work!

This Pauline Epistle of love and good-will and appreciation as well as godly instruction (Philippians) is properly addressed to the leaders of the Assembly who help guide the congregation as they should go!  Pastors first ... then deacons!  That's God appointed chain of command!

So ... Pastor, to you and the deacons ... as well as to every Believer in Philippi ... here's Paul inspired Letter!

Listen well!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The usual Greek/Roman letter of Paul's day contained at its very beginning a short section called a "health wish."

Only one example of such exists in the New Testament.   John the Beloved wrote: "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."  2nd John 1:2

Instead of this customary paragraph, Paul desires for his readers to be blessed spiritually!  Here's what he wrote to his Philippian brethren:  "Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."  Philippians 1:2

This is Paul's greeting!

No carnal "hello" for him!

No "How you doing?" either!

No sir!

Grace and Peace ... to you all!

Grace, which has a root meaning that hints of joy and gladness, is a Greek concept ... and no doubt would speak volumes to the Gentiles in Philippi.

Peace, the traditional "shalom" of Hebrew culture, says a lot to the Jews there.

Paul is sharing a salutation with all the members of the fellowship in Philippi!

We too need to speak to everyone!

To include our "friends" and our "acquaintances" and the "brethren" we don't yet know very well too!

If someone is "in" Christ Jesus ... he or she is our brother or sister in the Lord!

Grace to him!

Peace to her!

And, by the way, Paul basically uses this greeting in most of his Epistles, all but Hebrews!

See Romans 1:7, 1st Corinthians 1:3, 2nd Corinthians 1:2 and so forth!

And when he does ... he always places Grace first ... then Peace!

Never does he invert the order!


Because one cannot know the Peace of God ... without first experiencing the Grace of God!

It would be impossible to know His Peace without the existence of His marvelous Grace!

So ... to each of you today, our friends in Christ ... I wish for you Grace and Peace from our Father in Heaven and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ!

That's a New Testament greeting for sure!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul wrote to his beloved Philippians: "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now."  Philippians 1:3-5

The great Apostle is at prayer, intercessory prayer.

Praying for his friends in Christ ... at Philippi, a prominent Macedonian city.

But, before he asks the Lord for anything on their behalf, he is overwhelmed with "thanksgiving!"

Each time he recalls them, or really ... every time they are "mentioned," he thanks God for them and their salvation and dedication and fellowship in the Gospel!

That's enough for today right there!

Do we always include "thanks" and "praise" to God in our prayers?

Paul did.


Try this: The next time you have a "thought" about some Christian brother or sister in Christ ... pause and "thank" God for them!

Then, after a brief season of reverent thanksgiving, pray for their spiritual growth too!

You will only be following the godly pattern Paul set many years ago!

Scripturally speaking, it seems that "thanksgiving" enhances and empowers one's prayers!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul also thanked the Philippians for their "fellowship" in the Gospel!  "I thank my God ... for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now."  Philippians 1:5

This word is "koinonia" and means "that which is shared" or "things held in common." 


The Philippians had been "giving" to Paul as he preached the Gospel!

They were "supporters" of his Ministry!

There is reasonable evidence to believe that Philippians is one full Holy Ghost inspired "thank you" letter written back to this sweet congregation at Philippi ... expressing gratefulness for their recent "gifts!"

And, in that very real sense, Paul said that they were "partakers" of his labours in the Lord!

Now remember that ... the next time you help a missionary or an evangelist or share a love gift with your pastor!

You are not just donating a pair of shoes or a new commentary or a tank of gas! 

No! No! No!

You are becoming a fellow-worker with the Preacher!

And Jesus said once to those who had helped the poor and needy and hungry ... "inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."  Matthew 25:40

I realize Jesus' words here are prophetical, but hear me ... this "giving" thing gets big in a hurry!

The very thought:  sharing "fellowship" in the Gospel with the great Apostle Paul!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




This is certainly one of my favorite verses in the Book of Philippians!  "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."  Philippians 1:6

I believe that "good work" to which Paul refers is the Gift of Salvation which God imparted to the old sinner who repents and trusts Jesus as Saviour!

Notice that it is God Who began the saving act in our lives!

Yet again look!

Our Lord not only started things by saving our lost souls ... He has promised to continue those things, never quitting, until the Day of Jesus Christ!

The verb "perform" is "epiteleo" and means to bring something to a completed end!  To perfect it!  To allow it to mature! 

What hope a Believer has!

A sure hope!

Saved friend, on the basis of Philippians 1:6 here ... you can't fail!  I mean ... the God Who indwells you will not allow it!  He is fashioning you into His very image! 

And He is lovingly persistent in doing so!

Of this Paul is confident, "peitho" in Greek!  It just means fully persuaded or convinced!

Glory to God!

No wonder Jude said this:  "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."   Jude 24-25

What encouragement!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Apostle Paul said to the Philippians ... "I have you in my heart."  See Philippians 1:7

The verb "have" is "echo" and means to "hold on to!"

This godly Preacher loved the saints of God!

Paul often used expressions such as this one to speak of his love for the people of God!  For example ... "O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels."  2nd Corinthians 6:11-12

Paul's "enlarged heart" is a word picture for his great love for these little "children" in Christ, the Corinthians!

They too were "in his heart!"

Do you have the brethren in your heart?

Is your Pastor in your heart?

How about your own family?

What a difference it would make in our churches if we did so!

                                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




This word is written especially to those of you who "support" this Ministry so faithfully. I mean either by your prayers or financial gifts or in any other way.

Paul wrote to the Philippians, who also supported him regularly ... "In the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace." Philippians 1:7

Paul here just called his whole ministry "a defence and confirmation of the Gospel."

Now the noun "defence" is spelled "apologia" and means a verbal vindication of the Word of God!  Literally it's a refutation of the enemies' arguments!  It's the Christian's answer to the devil and his cohorts!

Then "confirmation," spelled "bebaiosis," literally means the very "bottom" or the "basis" of something!  The foundation!

Paul, even while in a Roman prison, planned to witness and preach and teach the Word of God!

Defending it and explaining it to its deepest levels!

And in this great work of God ... the Philippians had become "partakers!"

But how?

They lived hundreds of miles away from Rome!

How could they literally "share" ("partakers" is "sugkoinonos" in Greek and means those who "have in common" something with another person) in Paul's ministry?

By their giving!

Their gifts of love became sources of future reward in their lives!

Investments ... in the ministry of Paul!

And that's exactly what the great Apostle is saying to his generous friends today!

And we, Debbie and me, desire to say the very same thing to you all!

Thank you!

You are indeed fellow laborers with us in the work of the Lord!

And we love you all!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Apostle Paul prayed a number of things for the Believers in the city of Philippi.

One was this:  "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more ...."  Philippians 1:9

The love Paul has in mind is "agape" love, the very love of God!

I believe Paul is specifically longing for these Christians to have love "one for another."  There are a couple of places in the Philippian Epistle where such love is needed!  ("I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord." Philippians 4:2)

But ... where can a bunch of people like this, Gentiles with such sordid backgrounds, get God's love?  In Romans 5:5 Paul answers our question. "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."  The verb "shed abroad" means "poured out copiously!"  When one gets saved, the Holy Spirit literally "overflows" him or her with God's love!

In fact, that's the idea behind the verb "abound."  It is "perisseuo" and means "to super abound" or to "exceed a fixed number or measure" or "to exist in abundance!"  It was used of the ancients to describe a river that had flooded its banks!

Paul is praying that love, the love of God, will grow and mature and permeate every area of the Philippians' lives ... to the glory of our Lord!

Folks, how does our love compare ... by these standards?

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




In Philippians 1:10 Paul asks prayerfully that the Believers in that heathen city learn to "approve things that are excellent."

What a prayer!

The verb "approve" is "dokimazo" and means to test or examine or determine the real quality of something.

And the substantive "excellent" is "diaphero."  This one needs to be studied. It literally means "to carry" or "to bear" ("phero") "across" or "through" ("dia") a place.

But in the context of our verse here it means to always be going to a "better" place.  From here to over there ... always bettering the situation!

Always improving!

By the Grace of God ... always maturing!

Living more and more holy lives day by day!

More separated!

More dedicated!

Yesterday I memorized one verse.  Today I shall try to learn two verses!

This "spirit" of Paul's Prayer is captured, of all places, in the Book of Proverbs! "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."  Proverbs 4:18

Brighter and brighter!

Things excellent ... then more excellent ... then even more!

That's an attitude of maturity if I ever saw one!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




In Philippians 1:19 Paul says an amazing thing.

He, initially talking about the Philippians' prayers on his behalf, comments: "For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ

Paul has just said, under Holy Spirit inspiration, that there exists something called the "supply" of the Spirit of Jesus Christ!

He is taking about the Holy Spirit of God!

That noun, "supply" is great!

It translates "epichoregia," which actually became the "root" of our English word choreography!

It described a man who wanted to produce a "drama," a "play" down at the community center!  Often the Holy Spirit takes secular Greek words and "sanctifies" them, investing them with spiritual truth!

The man who "leads" ("ago" in Greek) the "chorus" ("choros" in Greek) and does  so with intensity ("epi" in Greek) is the choreographer of the whole program!

But he, in Greek culture, not only led the singing ... but also rented the building, made the wardrobe, trained the talent, promoted the event and did everything else too!

He provided ALL that was necessary for a successful endeavor!

And Paul just used this vast word for the Ministry of the Holy Spirit!

Folks, God the Spirit, provides all we need to live successfully for Jesus here on earth!

And He does so in the background ... always magnifying the Lord our Saviour!

Paul would have never dared to live one single day ... without the "supply" of the Spirit of God!

Still sounds like good advice, doesn't it?

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul said it!

He was not bragging either, just stating facts!

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."  Philippians 1:21

This godly man was so close to the Lord ... He "breathed" and "thought" and "lived" for Him moment by moment!

The verb for "live" there is in Greek "zao" and implies life in its fullest sense. Not simply biological life, but life with its all fullness!  For Paul ... no doubt this is "abundant life!"

And to die?

Why, Paul says, that "is gain!"

The word is "kerdos" and means "advantage" as well as "gain."  Once, in Titus 1:11, our word is translated "lucre," the New Testament word for money!

It sounds like Paul has been sending "investments" to Heaven for some time! His treasures are over there!

Jesus said we could do that!  "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal."  Matthew 6:19-20

Paul's dividends were waiting for him on the "other side," in Glory!

Hence, to die ... was "gain!"

Folks, think about that today.

Where are your treasures?

Jesus also said:  "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:21

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




It is really a "word picture."

Paul wrote to the Philippians:  "And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith."  Philippians 1:25

The great Apostle, although in a Roman jail as he wrote, planned to yet visit the Philippians again! 

He planned to "abide" with them, "meno" meaning "to remain" or "to dwell" with someone.

The the verb "continue" compounds "meno," suggesting even a more lengthy stay!

Paul loves these Believers in Christ!

But, WHY is he going there?

He answers that, "for their furtherance," he pens!

Here's today thought:  the noun "furtherance" is "prokope" in Greek and means "to cut" or "to cut forward" or "to cut through" something!

It actually pictures a dense jungle-like forest up ahead, inhibiting one's progress toward a desired goal!  It insists that one get a sharpened blade and go to work!  Cutting and cutting and cutting, sweat flying and muscles aching ... all with an eye on the finish line, the goal ahead, one's destination!

Paul wants to help the Philippians "cut ahead" through this old world's thick growth of wood, hay and stubble ... reaching the goal of godly living and mature spirituality!





The path is being formed ... with daily diligence!

That's Paul's idea of spiritual growth, of progress in the Lord!

Anybody ready to grow?

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul wants to know that the Philippians are "striving together for the faith of the gospel."  Philippians 1:27

That's his way of encouraging them to be "helpers" in the work of the Lord.

But, look with me at that verb "striving together."

In Greek it is spelled "sunathleo."

Look at it carefully.

The "root" of the word is "athleo."  That's our English word "athlete!"

The prefix "sun" just means "with" someone or something.

Paul wants the Christians at Philippi to be "athletes" when it comes to spreading the Gospel!

An athlete is one who labors and trains and disciplines himself ... all these words being definitions for "athleo" in our verse today!

During these days of the Winter Olympics many minds have been attuned to the rigorous preparation these men and women have endured!

Fashioning themselves into superb physical condition, they have excelled in their respective games.

So we Christians are to train and labor and discipline ourselves ... to serve the Lord!

To grow in grace and faith!

To spread the Gospel!

Say it again, Paul:  "That ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."   Philippians 1:27


                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul is in prison as he writes the Epistle to the Philippians.  He mentions his bonds or chains in the very first chapter ... then again in chapter six.

But in Philippians 1:29 Paul made an amazing statement about our "hardships" in Christ.  "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." 

You see, the Philippian Christians also were suffering for their faith.

In essence Paul is here saying that just as we were called upon to "believe" in Jesus, having been convicted then drawn by the Holy Spirit, so we may often be called upon to "suffer" for Jesus' sake too!

The pronoun "you" is plural, indicating that Paul is writing to the whole Church body.

The verb "given" translates "charizomai," its root being "charis," the Greek noun for "grace."

Literally Paul is saying that God "graced" us with faith, faith to believe in His Name!

I personally believe that saving faith is a gift of God in the first place!  Some grammarians tell me I can't say this, but it looks like Ephesians 2:8 reveals the true source of our faith.  "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."

Faith is the gift of God!

He "graced" it to us!

But that's not all!

He also "gave" us, "graced" to us, "lovingly bestowed" upon us ... the opportunity to suffer for His sake too!

That's exactly what Philippians 1:29 says!

Again, here it is.  "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." 

The phrases "in behalf of" and "for" His sake both use the Greek preposition "huper."  It means "in one's stead" or "for one's sake" or "concerning" or "about" or even "over" or "above" or "beyond!"

God blessed us, showered us with grace, when He allowed us and motivated us to believe in Jesus! That's how we were saved!

Then, Paul is also saying here that God further blessed us or graced us with "suffering."  This is suffering that we would not necessarily be experiencing if we were not associated with Christ Jesus and his followers!  It is thus "on His behalf."

What a view of the Christian life!

Either way, sweet times or hard times, God has blessed us!

"In season" and "out of season" we have been abundantly showered with His amazing grace!

Praise His Name!

I have heard Paul speak of the "grace of giving" in 2nd Corinthians 8:7.

And again in Ephesians 3:8 he talks about the grace of preaching.

But now ... the grace of suffering!

I'm about ready to say that the Grace of God is all encompassing, surely overarching every area of life! 

And all I can say is "Thank God!"

Blessed be His Name!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul actually said it!

He was talking about death, death for a Christian.

Paul admits to "... having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better ...."  Philippians 1:23

"Depart," a verb, translates the Greek word "analuo."  It means to untie or to unloose something.  He is picturing life as a series of "hard knots" needing to be unraveled!  Such a thing will happen when a Believer dies and goes to heaven ... all life's problems will be solved!

To be "with" Christ Jesus (in Greek = "sun") means "beside" Him or literally "in his company!"

To go and be with Jesus ... in Heaven ... is for Paul a great "desire!"

This noun, "epithumia" means something like a "passion!"  It is a craving or a longing in one's heart!  It is actually translated "lust" 31 times in the New Testament!  Remember, "lust" means an extremely strong yearning.  In the Bible the word is not always used in a bad sense either. 

Paul passionately looked forward to Heaven, to seeing Jesus, to loving His Lord!

Isn't that amazing?

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul, writing to the Philippians, says:  "Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me."  Philippians 1:30

What "conflict" does the Apostle have in mind.

We know that he is in jail, a Roman prison, as he writes Philippians.

He is likely accused of some form of treason, not being willing to acknowledge Caesar as Lord!

To Paul and all Believers, you see ... Jesus is Lord!  Jesus alone!

Now it has become apparent that the Philippian Christians are facing the same (although not as severe) situation.

While not yet incarcerated, some of them may have been threatened with loss of jobs or cuts in pay or public beatings or even confiscation of property!

The point being ... these dear souls "in Christ," saved people, are experiencing such severe "conflict!" 

Right with God ... yet in "conflict!"

Loving the Apostle Paul, supporting his ministry, yet "suffering" for Jesus!

Growing in Grace, yet under great and unpleasant "pressure!"

This sounds a lot different than a lot of today's preaching ... on television and radio and in print I mean.  They say the Spirit-filled life is always filled with "health" and "wealth."

Yet that's just not the case with Paul ... or Jesus or Isaiah or Peter or Jeremiah or anyone truly living for God!  "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" says Paul in 2nd Timothy 3:12.

What is this "conflict" Paul describes?

The noun is "agon."

It assimilates into English as "agony!"

In the King James Bible it is translated 4 different ways.  It is "conflict" twice and "fight" twice and "contention" once and even "race" once!

It is believed to have derived from the word that means a place of assembly, an arena in which to see the Greek games or contests!

Paul likens our battles to great public displays of strength and power!

Filled with agony? Yes!

But also ripe with opportunities to display the power and beauty of the Gospel!

Today I write and some Christian reads here, someone who is in "agony."

Trials for you now are severe or temptations are great or suffering is acute or discouragement is heavy! 

Friend in Christ, fight!

Endure the agony!

Defeat the enemy through the Blood of Jesus shed on the Cross of Calvary!

Let all who watch see your good works ... and glorify your Father Which is in Heaven!

No one said it would be easy!

Paul, remind us again: "Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me." Philippians 1:30

And, just in case you think this "battling" is unusual, Peter reminds us:  "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."  1st Peter 4:12-13

Do remember this too.

In the Greek/Roman culture of Paul's day ... successful "agonizing" led to crowns and recognition and bounty beyond measure!

So is it with the dear Lord Jesus too!

He rewards faithful and often agonizing service!

"Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."  Matthew 25:21

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul shared a real "secret" for harmony in the Christian life when he encouraged the Philippians to "let each esteem other better than themselves." Philippians 2:3

To "esteem" (in Greek = "hegeomai") means "to think or count or estimate or evaluate."

The pronoun "other" is "allelon" and means one's brother or sister in Christ, another of the same sort as you!  A fellow Believer!

But, get this:  "better" is spelled "huperecho" and means "over or above" ("huper" or "hyper") and "to hold" ("echo") with determination!  Putting it all together; "better" here means superior!

Paul just told us to lay aside our own "self importance" and "visions of grandeur" and consider our brothers and sisters first! 

If more of this type living were to become reality ... home life and church life would be transformed!

"Let each of you place others above yourselves!"

That's the very opposite of today's cultural values, isn't it?

And, by the way, one more thing about that verb "esteem."  It is built upon the "root" word "ago," to lead or to command! 

If I'm going to live in this unselfish way ... I will have to take the "lead" and "command" myself to do so!  Such "esteeming others better" will not occur naturally!  Spiritual self-control and discipline will be required!

Paul must have preached this type of sacrificial living everywhere he went!  In Romans 12:10 he commanded: "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another!"  The participle "preferring" here is again derived from the same verbal root, "ago!"

Highly value your brothers and sisters in Christ!

Jesus did!

He said of Himself in Matthew 20:28 ... "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

What living!

Talk about being a peacemaker!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Everyone knows the verse. 

Paul began by commanding us to ... "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 2:5

The verb "let mind be" translates one Greek word, "phroneo."  It is an imperative.  Paul is requiring this of us Christians!  It means "to think."  He says: Think like this!  Also it is a present tense verb.  Consistent habitual action is being required here! 

The Bible here is actually telling us how to think!

We are to have the same mind ... Jesus did!

The "mind of Christ!"

Listen to 1st Corinthians 2:16.  "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? But we have the mind of Christ."

Elsewhere, in Philippians 4:8, Paul does it again!  He tells us how to think! "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

And again in 2nd Corinthians 10:5 we are told to be ... "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."


Today let's be careful what we think!

Jesus' thoughts, as the verses following "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus"  prove, were meditations of humility and service and sacrifice and obedience to His Father's Will!

If we Believers could ever learn to really think this way, there would nearly be no more bitterness or hatred or murders or lust or worry or any other kind of sin!

Now, that's Lordship!

When a man or a woman is willing to allow Him to control every thought, every imagination, every moment!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul says that Jesus was in the very "form" of God when He came to earth! Letís notice the "context" of his words: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God ...." Philippians 2:5-6

That critically important noun, "form," translates the Greek word "morphe." It carries this idea: "external appearance." The word is only used three times in the Bible: twice here in our Philippians paragraph and then in Mark 16:12. There Jesus, after His Resurrection, "appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country." Obviously that means an "external appearance!"

The noun "meros" is said to be derived from a parent verb "meiromai" which means "to share" or "to be allotted."  To be part of!

In other words, to see God the Father ... one must behold Jesus, Who is the very Form of God!

He is the Visible Appearance of God!

He is God the Son!

Jesus one day said to Philip: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." John 14:9

In English we use the word metamorphosis to indicate something that has changed in outward form! Thatís a proper use of "morphe" as it is seen in Scripture.

Further proof that our analysis is on target can be seen in Philippians 2:7. There Jesus is said to have also taken upon Himself "the form of a servant." Our Lord beautifully fulfilled the role of Godís great Servant as prophesied in Isaiah!

He looked like a servant!

He acted like a servant!

He lived like a servant!

He was Godís Servant!

He assumed that form ... and men beheld Him as such.

God ... in human flesh ... Jesus!

Praise His dear Name!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The old debate continues!

Jesus ... Is He "equal" with God?

In His "humiliation," His time on earth as the suffering Saviour Who came to die for the sins of mankind ... Jesus clearly said:  "If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I."  John 14:28

Yet when speaking of Jesus' very Essence, His Godhood, Paul fiercely declared: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God!"  Philippians 2:6

Jesus, still being very God of very God, did "voluntarily" humble Himself to die on the Cross!  He obeyed His Father's Will!  He gladly assumed the place of a servant, a common slave!  You see, slaves were basically the only ones Rome ever crucified!  Jesus lived His Life as a lowly slave or servant!  He said so in Mark 10:45!  "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."  And here in Philippians 2:7 Paul just declared that Jesus "took upon Him the form of a servant."  That noun for "servant" is "doulos," a common slave!  In that sense alone, Jesus said "My Father is greater than I."

But in His Person, in His Essence, in His character, in His very Being ... Jesus IS God!  God cannot be subdivided.  We DO NOT worship three Gods ... only One God, Who manifests Himself in a triune manner! 

Yes, Jesus is "equal" with God!

Here Paul reiterates the Doctrine of the Deity of Christ: "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God!"  Philippians 2:6

The adjective "equal" is "isos" in Greek.  It obviously means "equal" ... but  can also mean the "same!"  In geometry two triangles are not said to be "isosceles" triangles until they have been compared and measured and identified as being equal in every known way!  One Textbook says the word "isos" means equal in quality or quantity!

Then the noun "robbery," which is spelled "harpagmos," means that which is held or seized or retained or even snatched!  In the early years of the seventeenth century this word meant "that which was robbed from another!"

Paul is saying that Jesus did not think He had done one thing improper when He revealed the Fact that He and the Father were "equal!"  Our Lord even said this elsewhere: "I and my Father are one."  John 10:30

And all I can say to these things is "Praise the Lord!"

Then maybe I will add with the Psalmist:  "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it."  Psalm 139:6

Jesus What a Saviour He is!

Equal with God ... because He is God!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Bible says, in Philippians 2:8, that Jesus "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

That is a strange way of describing someone's death!

It is guaranteed that when I die ... no one will say, "Brother Bagwell became obedient to death.  He decided just to go ahead and die!  He had other choices, but laid them aside!"

No! No! No!

When the days of earthly life are accomplished for this preacher, the only path remaining will be "the valley of the shadow of death!"  That is, if the Rapture has not yet occurred. 

But, with Jesus, it was different!

He had no taint of sin in His body!


And He was God the Son too!

On either count ... sin could not reap its wages on the Lord!

Sinless men don't have to quote:  "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23

And the Godhead, being eternal, will never die!  "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." Psalm 90:2

That's why Paul had to describe Jesus' death on the Cross in such an unusual manner!

"He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."  Philippians 2:8

The verb "become obedient" translates "hupekoos" and means "to hear" ("akouo") "under" ("hupo"), suggesting a submissive response to the Words of Another!  Here is Jesus listening to and obeying His Father's Will!

He yielded to death!


Otherwise He would yet, well over two thousand years later, still be walking planet earth!

Jesus Himself expressed this truth when He said such things as:  "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." John 10:17-18

He never would have died on that Cross ... had He not "bowed His Head and gave up the ghost."

John expresses it best:  "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and he bowed His head, and gave up the ghost." John 19:30

He became "obedient" unto death!

He died voluntarily ... for you and me!

What a Saviour!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Bible says that God the Father has "highly exalted" His Son Jesus!

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name."  Philippians 2:9

That verb, "highly exalted," is a compound word that is spelled like this: "huperupsoo."  It literally means "hyper" exalted!  "Hupsoo" means "to elevate!"  The Greek word here, when carefully examined nearly says Jesus has a "hyper-hyper" Name! 

Jesus has been powerfully uplifted and honored and praised and glorified and magnified by His Father in Heaven!


At least partly because of the victory He purchased for us on the Cross of Calvary!

This special verb, "highly exalted" is only used once ... right here ... in all Scripture!

Jesus' exaltation is unique!

"One of a kind!"

There is none like it!

And in today's verse ... even the preposition "above" is important!

"A name above every name!"

That too spelled "hyper!"

We are surely in the Bible's most "hyper" charged verse ... and it focuses on Jesus!

In a  purely grammatical sense you may correctly say that we have a "hyper" Saviour!  A "super" Lord!  A "chief" Master!  An "above and beyond" Protector! The "superlative" Son of God!

Praise His (highly exalted) Name!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul said it!

In fact, it's a command!

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings." Philippians 2:14

I think he wrote these words because there were some murmurings occurring in Philippi!

He later asks two ladies to behave themselves!  "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord." Philippians 4:2

The verb "do," which is spelled "poieo" in Greek, gives us the English word "poem!"  That which is done or created or built by an individual!

To live a life without grumbling and arguing is a "work" of art!

A beautiful achievement!

A "poetic" tribute to the Lord God Who saved us!

That's why Paul also here says: "... that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world." Philippians 2:15

Also this verb "poieo" is an imperative, expressed in the present tense.  We are to habitually not grumble!

The noun "murmurings" is interesting too.

"Goggusmos" means something like "debates" or "grudges."

It is only used 4 times in the whole New Testament.

And "disputings" is a familiar word.  "Dialogismos" in Greek gives us our English noun "dialogue."

Here it implies a "talking back and forth" that is contentious!

Incessant verbal "dodge ball," if you please!

Paul says such behavior is not allowed!

It must stop!

What a goal!

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings."


                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




It's one of those beautiful phrases Paul often uses ... no doubt "dictated" to Him by God the Holy Spirit!

In writing to the Philippians he reminds them that they are "holding forth the word of life."  Philippians 2:16

What a responsibility!

In fact, this is one of the reasons Paul gives us to encourage peaceful, godly living!

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life ...." 

Let's study those last six words.

The "verbal" here, a present participle, is "epecho" and is rendered "holding forth!"  It means to grasp or firmly grip something!  The prefix "epi" intensifies the implied action too!  To hold onto something, vigorously!  And the present tense reveals that this diligence is to be practiced continually! 

"Hold on," Christian friend!  That's our charge! Our command!

And of course the Word of Life is either the Bible or the Lord Jesus Christ!

The noun "logos" (Word) is well known.  It is used as a Name both for the written Word of God and the Living Word of God, Jesus!

But this specific term, "Word of life," is only found twice in Scripture, here and in 1st John 1:1.  And John definitely uses it as a Name for Jesus.  "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." 1st John 1:1-3

Think of that, folks!

Paul says we are "holding on" to the Word!

Now, I realize that in many ways the Word of God holds us!

And Jesus certainly holds or keeps us too!

But there is a sense, a Bible sense, in which we also "hold on to" or "hold forth" the Word of God or our dear Saviour, Jesus Himself!

If it were not so ... Paul would not have told us!

Keep on "holding forth!"

The word picture here may be that of a faithful soldier strongly gripping a bright lantern on a dark and stormy night!  Standing by the rocky shores somewhere warning others of impending danger and certain death!  Pointing to safety!  To the Harbor! 

"Holding forth the Word of Life!"

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Paul was writing to the Philippians.

In what is the great Apostle's "sweetest" Epistle of all, he introduces us to a man named Epaphroditus.

He was a member of the Church at Philippi and was likely their Minister too, their Pastor.

He had, at great peril, come to visit Paul who was in Rome ... in prison!

There is every reason to believe that he had brought a love offering to the suffering Paul!

From the Philippians!

He tenderly cared for the jailed Preacher, though he himself was sick for a while!

When the time had come for Epaphroditus to return to the his home Church, Paul wrote ... "I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me."  Philippians 2:28-30

Notice today with me the words:  "Hold such in reputation."

But first, when a person has been consistently faithful to the Lord, fervent in prayer and generous in spirit, he is to be gladly "received" by the Church! "Received" in the Lord! The verb here means to joyfully and eagerly welcome someone ... face to face! 

Then comes the brief command:  "Hold such in reputation!"

The verb "hold" (in Greek = "echo") means to regard, to consider or to maintain something.

And the noun "reputation" translates "entimos" which suggests that which is dear or precious or valuable or honorable or prized!

Philippians, when your Preacher returns from helping poor aged Paul, suffering in jail in Rome ... welcome him home gladly and hold him in high honor!

Paul is here asking the same thing he did in 1st Timothy 5:17. "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine."  Respect the Preacher!

And in 1st Thessalonians 5:12-13. "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake."  Again, highly value the Man of God!

Then again ... as is recorded here in Philippians 2:29 ... "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation."  With determination, honor the faithful Pastor!

Lord, teach us to honor your Men!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Apostle Paul, talking about the godly man Epaphroditus, said in Philippians 2:30 ... "Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me."

Either through sickness or through some form of persecution, Epaphroditus was once at the point of death!


To help Paul, who was in prison at that time!

To do for Paul what the Philippians, due to the hundreds of miles that separated them, could not do!

He "supplied" their lack of service!

In Bible language, to do certain things for Paul the Preacher was to "supply" his needs by the grace of God!

That verb is "anapleroo" and means "to fill to the brim! Actually, "to overflow!" Like a river in rainy season!

Literally we have this definition: "to fill full from above!"

The verb is a subjunctive here too.  It implies that this "supplying" was the proper longing and desire for any Christian to have toward Paul!

Let me stop right here and ask a question.

Christian friend, whom are you "supplying" with spiritual strength and encouragement?

Or with physical needs even?

Whom in your life, in your "circle" of acquaintances, is being overflowed with joy and peace and love and prayers and, when needed, food and funds and fellowship too?

Read the context around verse 30 above.  Se how Paul praised Epaphroditus ... for being such a good "channel" of blessing!

Today ... be someone's "supply" line!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell


Also see "Phrases From Philippians, Part 2," which completes this series of studies from Paul's sweetest Epistle!




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