DIGGING IN THE WORD: Philippians 1

Philippians 1*


1:1 Usually Paul would address himself as apostle, but here as slave.  We are to be servants of Jesus Christ, obeying Him totally as our master; this applies to all Christians, from the simplest of the faithful to the highest of the prelates.  It is becoming more and more common for various denominations to declare that each person in the church has an equal role, and that there should not be one person put over the others, but we see clearly here that already in the earliest days of the Church there is a clear regard to different roles.  Paul here writes to all the Christians, along with the ‘overseers’ and ‘ministers’, who have specific roles within the community.  Both of these words, as the Church develops, become concretized as ‘Bishop’ (overseer) and ‘Deacon’ (minister).  Thus we see the natural development of the Christian Church.

1:2 It was very common in the New Testament to refer to the Father as God and to the Son as the Lord.  It does not mean that the Father is not Lord, or that the Son is not God.  The future Creeds of the Church guide us to a clear understanding that the Son is equal to the Father: God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God.

1:3 Saint Paul gives thanks for the Christian congregation, and why? Because they are laboring with him to spread the gospel in a harmonious way.  Saint Paul does not give thanks in a generic way, even if the text could be cut up to seem so: “I give thanks to God.”  Rather, a further reading shows us that our thanks should be to God THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, and for particular reasons.  Romans 1:8 helps: “I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ;” thus we see that Saint Paul is praying by invoking the holy name of Jesus and that he is praying ‘because’ of something, in this case because of their faith, in Philippians because of their partnership for the gospel, in 1 Corinthians 1:4 for the grace God poured on them, in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 for their faith, hope, and love.  Therefore, do not simply pray “thank you God” but rather pray by giving thanks to God, invoking the holy name of Jesus our Lord, and for particular spiritual benefits given.

1:4 Saint Paul prays with joy.  Many people only pray when they are in need, therefore without joy but rather with pain or sadness or anxiety or concern.  The prayer of thanksgiving is filled with joy and should be normative in the Christian life.

1:6 We are usually unaware of the work of God, but this verse helps us to see that God is always at work on our behalf, since He is good, our Father, desiring us all to inherit eternal life.  God will continue to care for us until the day when Jesus Christ comes back again to judge the living and the dead.

1:7 Each Christian should partner with the leader of the community to defend the gospel and to confirm it.  Defense of the gospel includes absolute conviction that Jesus Christ is the sole Saviour of mankind, and any other message must therefore be false.

1:8 The leader of the community loves with the same affection as Jesus.

1:9 Growth as a Christian is constant.  If you are not growing, you are neglecting your vocation.  This growth in knowledge and discernment is necessary for us to become pure and blameless.  We are as of yet not perfectly pure, not completely blameless, so we must strive.  Romans 12:2 warns us not to be conformed to this age, but that our minds are to be renewed.  Ephesians 3:14-19 insists that we can grow in a great way, to know “the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Colossians 1:9-10 shows Saint Paul praying for us to grow in knowledge, wisdom, understanding, worthy living, “so as to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God.”  Are you growing?

1:11 God the Father is glorified when we are grow in fruitfulness through Jesus Christ.  Jesus Himself testifies to this in John 15:8: “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”  And again, He says in Matthew 5:16: “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”  This fruitfulness is not done apart from God, but through Jesus Christ, as Jesus declares in John 3:21: “But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”

1:12 Paul’s situation is that he is imprisoned.  He also refers to himself as “an ambassador in chains” in Ephesians 6:20, and he considers himself not a prisoner of any adversary, but as a prisoner of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:1).  Paul sees that he is suffering for the Gospel, “even to the point of chains, like a prisoner.  But the word of God is not chained” (2 Timothy 2:8-9).

1:14 The fact that Paul is imprisoned urges others to continue the work of proclaiming the gospel.  This shows us that God can work out His plans regardless of the situation at hand.

1:18 In any realm of society there are those who are pure and those who are impure, even in regard to the ministry of Christ.  Again, God is able to bring about fruitfulness even in spite of the motivations of man.  The theme of rejoicing is central to this letter; indeed, this is a central theme of Christianity, even in the midst of persecution.

1:20 It is not only our spirit or soul which gives glory to God, but even in our bodies and in suffering Christ can be magnified or glorified. Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 6 that our body is a temple of the holy Spirit, and that we have been purchased at a price.  “Therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:20), and “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).  Saint Peter speaks likewise: “But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name” (1 Peter 4:16).

1:21 Paul knows that either of the two ultimate realities will be used by God as God sees fit; if to be alive, to live in Christ and proclaim Him; if to die, to go to be with Christ whom he proclaimed.

1:22 If Paul remains alive, he will continue to preach and win converts to Christianity.

1:23 Paul’s ultimate desire is to go to Heaven.  Notice that it is not his ultimate desire in a long, far off way, like so many who say “Of course I want to go to Heaven, but I want to stay here on earth for a long time,” as if they will accept the fact that they can’t live forever, but if they could they might choose earth.  Rather, for Paul, he wants to go there now!  It is his ultimate desire now, to be united with Jesus in Heaven.  In fact, that would be “far better.”  He says this again in 2 Corinthians 5:8: “we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.”

1:24 Paul sees that his role in building up the body of Christ is why he is alive.

1:27 Our conduct should match the dignity of those reborn in Christ, as he writes in Ephesians 4:1 “live in a manner worth of the call you have received,” “in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:10).  Unity is also central here: one spirit, one mind, together, the faith, the gospel.  See Ephesians 4:3-6 on the 7 unities: body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God.

1:28 Christians are not to be influenced by the opinions of non-believers and outsiders, but rather built up together.

1:29 to suffer for Christ is seen as a gift.  He suffered for me; it is an honor for me to suffer for Him.  Jesus speaks to this in his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:10-11) when he says: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.” And why? “Your reward will be great in heaven.”  In fact, Jesus makes this willingness a condition to be one of His disciples: “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).  He adds in Mark 8:35 that “whoever wishes to save hiss life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”  The early Apostles rejoiced “that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name” (Acts 5:41).  Saint Peter exhorts us: “Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.”

1:30 The Christians participate in Paul’s difficulties; they may be put in chains as he has been.  Even if not, they will endure hardships for the Gospel.  Paul had been imprisoned in Phillipi, the place where he is now writing this letter, as we learn from Acts 16:19-24 as well as from 1 Thessalonians 2:2.

*[NOTE: This Bible exposition has not been edited, so there are misspellings, grammatical errors, and possibly verse citation errors.  Maybe one day someone will professionalize it.  I simply wanted to get the content to you. God bless!]

List of Spiritual Gifts

The Charism of Craftsmanship empowers a Christian to be an effective channel of God’s goodness to others through artistic or creative work that beautifies and/or orders the physical world.
Art & Environment Team Shawl Ministry
“To paint Christ, one must live Christ.” Bl. John of Fiescol (Fra Angelico)


The Charism of Discernment of Spirits empowers a Christian to be an effective channel of God’s wisdom by accurately perceiving a divine or demonic presence in certain people, places or things.
                   Faith Formation
“It is impossible to enumerate the charisms which the Church throughout the world has received from God.”  St. Cyril of Jerusalem (310-386) Catechetical Lectures


The Charism of Encouragement empowers a Christian to be an effective channel of God’s love — nurturing others through his or her presence and words of comfort, encouragement, and counsel.
Addiction Ministry Meals & Rides Ministry
Grief Ministry Volunteer Military Support Ministry
Guardian Angel Volunteer RCIA Volunteers
Home Visitation Ministry Sunday Nursery Volunteers
“Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy.”
CCC, 2447


The Charism of Evangelism empowers a Christian to be an effective channel of God’s love by sharing the faith with others in a way that draws them to become disciples of Jesus and responsible members of his Church.
Baptismal Godparents Military Support Ministry
Children’s Breakout Leaders Music Ministry
Confirmation Sponsors Prayer Ministry
Extraordinary Ministers of Communion RCIA Volunteers & Sponsors
Home Visitation Volunteers Rosary Makers Ministry
“Missionary evangelism is…the primary service that the Church can render to every individual and to all humanity in the modern world.”  Pope John Paul II


The Charism of Faith empowers a Christian to be an effective agent of God’s purposes through an unusual trust in the love, power, and provision of God and a remarkable freedom to act on this trust.
“God has determined, unless I interfere with his plan, that I should reach that which will be my greatest happiness.  He looks on me individually, he calls me by name, he knows what I can do, what I can best be, what is my greatest happiness, and he means to give it to me.”  St. John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890)


The Charism of Giving empowers a Christian  to be a cheerful channel of God’s provision by giving with exceptional generosity to those in need.
Food Pantry Volunteers Meals & Ride Volunteers
Funeral Reception Volunteers Military Support Ministry
Grief Ministry Volunteers Rosary Makers
Home Visitation Volunteers Shawl Ministry
Knights of Columbus Members
“When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours.  More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.”  Pastoral rule of St. Gregory the Great (540-604)


The Charism of Healing empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s love through whom God cures illness and restores health when healing is unlikely to occur quickly or to happen at all.
Addiction Ministry Home Visitation Volunteers
Funeral Ministry Volunteers Meals & Ride Volunteers
Funeral Reception RCIA Volunteers
Grief Ministry Shawl Ministry
Guardian Angel Volunteers
“The Holy Spirit gives to some a special charism of healing so as to make manifest the grace of the risen Lord.”  CCC, 1508


The Charism of Helps empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s goodness by using his or her talents and charisms to enable other individuals to serve God and people more effectively.
Addiction Ministry Guardian Angel Volunteers
Altar Linen Angels Hospitality Volunteers
Altar Servers MOMs
Boy Scouts RCIA Volunteers
Funeral Ministry Volunteers Sacristan Volunteers
“And in the Church God has appointed…those able to help others.”  St. Paul, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 12:28


The Charism of Hospitality empowers a Christian to be a generous channel of God’s love by warmly welcoming and caring for those in need of food, shelter, and friendship.
Art & Environment Team Men’s Club
Big Kids MOMs
Coffee & Donuts Music & Choirs
Food Pantry Volunteers Prayer Ministry
Funeral Ministry Volunteers Pro-Life Committee
Funeral Reception Volunteers RCIA Volunteers
Grief Ministry Volunteers Shawl Ministry
Guardian Angel Volunteers Sunday Nursery Volunteers
Home Visitation Volunteers Ushers
Hospitality Committee Welcome Committee
Meals & Rides Volunteers Women’s Club
“All guests to the monastery should be welcomed as Christ, because he will say, “I was a stranger and you took me in.”  Rule of St. Benedict (480-547)


The Charism of Intercessory Prayer empowers the intense prayer of a Christian for others to be the means by which God’s love and deliverance reaches those in need.
Addiction Ministry MOMs
Altar Servers Outreach Volunteers
Funeral Reception Volunteers Prayer Ministry
Grief Ministry Volunteers Pro-Life Committee
Guardian Angel Volunteers RCIA Volunteers
Home Visitation Volunteers Rosary Makers
Meals & Rides Volunteers Shawl Ministry
“But I beg you…to help me through my dangers by praying to God for me.” 
St. Paul, Epistle to the Romans, 15:30


The Charism of Knowledge empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s truth through diligent study and intellectual activity that enables us to better understand God, ourselves, and the universe.
Faith Formation Teachers             Lectors
“I feel I can personally guarantee that St. Thomas.”  Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964)


The Charism of Leadership empowers a Christian to be an agent of God’s purposes by sharing a compelling vision of a better future with others and by directing the overall efforts of a group as they work together to make the vision a reality.
Altar Servers Boy Scouts
Altar Linen Angels Sacristan
“Only love is creative.”  St. Maximilian Kolbe, (1894-1941)


The Charism of Mercy empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s love through practical deeds of compassion that relieve the distress of those who suffer and help them experience God’s love.
Addiction Ministry Home Visitation Volunteers
Altar Linen Angels Knights of Columbus Members
Altar Servers Meals & Rides Volunteers
Extraordinary Ministers of Communion Rosary Makers
Food Pantry Volunteers Shawl Ministry
Funeral Ministry Volunteers Sunday Nursery Volunteers
Funeral Reception Volunteers Ushers
Grief Ministry Volunteers Welcome Committee
Guardian Angel Volunteers
“My poor ones in the world’s slums are like the suffering Christ.  In them God’s Son lives and dies, and through them God shows me his true face.” 
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, (1910-1997)


The Charism of Missionary empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s goodness to others by effectively and joyfully using their charisms in a second culture.
            Vocation Awareness
“Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you.”  Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in the Gospel according to Matthew, 28:18-16


The Charism of Music empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s creative goodness to others through writing or performing music for the delight of others and the praise of God.
Music & Choir Ministry Sound Ministry
Music “helps man to build a bridge of holiness between this world and the World of all Beauty and Music.”   St. Hildegard of Bingen, (1098-1179)


The Charism of Pastoring empowers a Christian to be an effective channel of God’s love and build Christian community by nurturing the relationships and long-term spiritual growth of a group.
Coffee & Donuts Military Support Ministry
Hospitality Committee MOMs
Knights of Columbus Members Women’s Club
Men’s Club
“Thus to Saint Paul the Church of the living Christ does not appear as some kind of administrative organization but as a living web of gifts, of charisms, of ministries.”  Leon-Joseph Cardinal Suenens, in a speech to the second session of the Second Vatican Council, October 22, 1963


The Charism of Prophecy empowers a Christian to be a channel of divine truth and wisdom by communicating a word or call of God to individuals or a group through inspired words or actions.
Extraordinary Ministers of Communion           Music & Choir Ministry
          Lectors Prayer Ministry
“They are truly unfortunate who, realizing there are false prophets, take this as a pretext for expelling the grace of prophecy from the Church.” 
St. Irenaeus, Against the Heresies (c. 175-195)


The Charism of Service empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s purposes by recognizing the logistical gaps or unmet needs that can prevent good things from happening, and by personally doing whatever it takes to solve the problem and meet the need.
Altar Servers Sunday Nursery Volunteers
Boy Scouts Ushers
Knights of Columbus Members Welcome Committee
Men’s Club Women’s Club
Outreach Volunteers
“Where there is not love, put love, and you will find love.” 
St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)


The Charism of Teaching empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s truth and wisdom by enabling others to learn information and skills that help them reach their fullest spiritual and personal potential.
Altar Servers Men’s Club
Children’s Breakout Leaders           MOMs
Faith Formation Catechist Music & Choir Ministry
Grief Ministry Volunteers Outreach Volunteers
Lectors Women’s Club
“I eat questions the way other people eat steak.” A professor of philosophy


The Charism of Voluntary Poverty empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s loving presence by living a life of cheerful, voluntary simplicity or poverty in order to identify with Jesus and the poor.
“My personal definition of voluntary poverty is this:  the sincere will to do without as much as one can in order to be free to live a full human life.” 
William Gauchat (1907-1975), friend of Dorothy Day


The Charism of Wisdom empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s goodness through remarkable insight that enables him or her to come up with creative solutions to specific problems and make good decisions.
Guardian Angel Volunteers           Ushers
Parish Office Volunteers Welcome Committee
“God of my fathers, Lord of mercy…Give me Wisdom, the attendant of your throne.”  Wisdom 9:1a, 4a


The Charism of Writing empowers a Christian to be a channel of God’s creativity by using words to create works of truth or beauty that reflect the fullness of human experience and bring glory to God.
Music & Choirs Ministry
“The difference between ordinary people and saints is not that saints fulfill the plain duties that ordinary men neglect.  The things saints do have not usually occurred to ordinary people at all…’Gracious’ conduct is somehow like the work of an artist.  It needs imagination and spontaneity.  It is not a choice between presented alternatives but the creation of something new.”  A.D. Lindsey (1879-1952)


The Charism of Celibacy empowers a Christian to be most fulfilled and spiritually fruitful by remaining unmarried and celibate for the sake of Christ.
“There are three forms of the virtue of chastity:  the first is that of spouses, the second that of widows, and the third that of virgins.  We do not praise any one of them to the exclusion of the others.”  St. Amborse (339-397)

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