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Philippians 1:12-20: His Truth is Marching On

Posted by Gary Labels: ,

I want you to understand, brothers, that my circumstances have taken place, rather, for the advance of the Gospel. The result is that my bonds in Christ have become apparent to the entire palace guard, and everyone else, too. Also, the majority of the brothers in the Lord, through my bonds, are made confident to dare all the more abundantly to declare the Word fearlessly.

Some proclaim Christ out of envy and strife; others, however, do so because it is pleasing to God. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I stand for the defense of the Gospel; the former proclaim Christ due to selfish ambition -- not sincerely -- intending to cause distress while I am in bonds. So what?! Regardless, in every way, be it in pretense or truth, Christ is proclaimed! In this I rejoice.

And yes -- I will indeed rejoice! For I know that this will result in salvation for me through your petition and the supply of the spirit of Christ Jesus. This accords with my hope and eager longing that I not be ashamed, but with full boldness, now as always, Christ be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death.

____Translation Notes
- I'm trying to think of a better way to say "to become apparent" in verse 13. The idea is that the palace guard all know him now; he's somewhat famous. However, "famous" implies he's a super-star of some sort, which is not accurate. "Notorious" would also be misleading because of its negative connotation. Any ideas?

- I'd appreciate feedback on verse 14. It sort of flows in Greek and the word order is strange. I didn't purposefully try to make the word order strange in English, but I tried to capture the structure. Hopefully it's poetic, even if a bit awkward.

- I'm rendering two different words as "proclaim" because I can't think of an alternate that works. Traditionally the first word, kerusso, is rendered "preach," but I don't think "preach" gets the right idea across. Paul is referring to evangelism, not sermons in the pulpit.

- Concerning "petition" in v 19... I have to wonder if anyone petitioned the emperor or a governor on Paul's behalf. No doubt Paul mostly has the idea of prayer (a petition to God) in view, but perhaps he also might be thinking of a petition for his release. I don't know if people even did that in the Roman Empire, though. Who knows.

- Concerning "salvation" in v 19... This word can often be used in a non-theological sense to refer to "deliverance," though it's also the word used for "salvation" in theological jargon. I go against most translators here (following my professor, Curt Niccum) in saying that every day, in Paul's thought, is full of salvation moments. The other occurrences of this word (1:28, 2:12) definitely disturb some theologies, but it is what it is. He is not referring to mere "deliverance" here.

- In verse 20 it says "that in no way would I be ashamed," but that is not good English. The "in no way" is emphatically in front, so a bolded "not" fits English style and also conveys the emphasis.

In accordance with missionary thank-you letters, Paul follows up his thank-you by explaining to the Philippians how things are going. At the moment he has deemphasized mention of how their gift has made the difference and has instead attributed things to God's implicit providence in superintending Paul's current circumstances. House arrest has not reduced his opportunities for outreach. Actually, it's increased them and he also is an encouraging example for the fellow believers in Rome.

Confidence so far has been used in conjunction with God's work in sanctifying the Philippians (1:6) and God's work through Paul as an example of faith under fire (1:14). Paul also shows confidence that God will provide salvation for him through the power of prayer (1:19). His confidence is based on a fervent hope that he will have a clear conscience in knowing he did everything possible to give Christ glory (1:20). Compared to that, it doesn't matter if some people seem to be acting out of selfish conceit (1:15-17). Yes, it's wrong. But it doesn't stop God from acting. If chains and Roman guards can't stop the Gospel, then neither can selfish preachers.

Thus far, Paul's joy and hope are always looking forward to the Day of Christ. This future hope energizes and motivates for present action. He is not afraid he will be shamed by Jesus for committing sin; his highest longing is to work diligently and unswervingly so that he may hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."