1) If therefore there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any
fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender feelings and mercies, 2) you fulfill my joy, that
you think the same, having the same love, in one soul, minding one thing. 3) Nothing
done through rivalry or vainglory; but in humility each esteeming the other
surpassing themselves; 4) not looking every man at his own things, but also at the
things of others. 5) For you think this among you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6)
Who, existing in the form of God, thought it not something to be retained to be equal
with God: 7) but emptied Himself, took upon Him the form of a servant, being made
in the likeness of men: 8) becoming in likeness of a man, He humbled Himself, and
becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9) Because of this God
also highly exalted him, and gave Him a name which is above every name: 10) that
at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, heavenly ones, and earthly ones, and
ones under the earth; 11) and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12) Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence, cultivate your own salvation with fear and
trembling. 13) For it is God Who works in you both to will and to work for the sake of
His good pleasure.
Paul's joy was for the Philippians to think the same thing, to be on the same page. To
think the same thing was to have the same love, be of one soul, paying attention to the
same thing: it was to allow the gospel which Paul suffered for, and was willing to die
for, which he had preached to them, be their guide. Think in terms of the gospel. Love
as the gospel taught: God, the truth and each other. Be united as Jesus had prayed
and Paul had pleaded. Seek to observe all things whatever Jesus commanded.
This is what they needed to do, if "there is any consolation in Christ," if there is any
comfort in love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if there were any tender feelings
and mercies. Each of these things is a given. If there was no consolation in Christ,
they would not be Christians: there would be no reason. Even an infant knows there is
comfort in love; and, the Christian knows the comfort not only of the love of his parents,
but the love of God and Christ, along with the love of the brethren. The fellowship of the
Spirit is fundamental to the faith. The tender feelings and mercies of God and Christ
are well documented as the foundation of the gospel. If these things were true, they
needed to seek "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Paul argued from
absurdity, because the end was so obvious.
Unlike those who preached the gospel for the wrong reasons Paul spoke of in chapter
1, the Philippians were not to do anything because of rivalry or obtaining self
gratification. It was not to be out of selfish motives, but selfless motives. Not seeking
what they wanted for themselves, but considering and even putting first the feelings,
pleasures and interest of others. That is how "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of
peace" would be obtained. By everyone seeking the good of everyone else, not their
own interests. What was important was the truth, the gospel, the doctrine of Christ, not
the individual wants and wishes being pushed forward.
The example is Christ. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God." (John 1:1). He was equal with God in glory, form and
authority. But, He did not consider that equality something which He should hold onto,
but willfully emptied Himself of all the glory of heaven to become a slave, in form and
fashion as a man. And not only did He become a man, but He willingly went to His
death, the tortuous death of the cross. Not because of what it would give Him, but
because of what it would do for us. He placed our good above His glory. He placed
our interests above His comfort. He placed our souls above His pleasure.
And because He did this, God exalted Him above every other name that is to be found
in the history of the world. Every being in heaven, every being on earth, and every being
under the earth shall bow before Him and confess that He is the Lord, the Master, the
One Whom all men should serve, to the glory of God the Father. The exaltation of
Jesus is because He humbled Himself, not because He sought His exaltation or
because He sought His own glory.
The implications are that the Philippians, if they wished the exaltation of God, and the
glory which He alone can give, will find it not in exalting themselves, but in the service of
others, and by putting others first.
Thus, the beloved Philippians were to obey the teaching, in Paul's absence even as
they had in his presence, as they always had. Working out, or cultivating (as the
original indicates) their own salvation. It brings to mind the parable of the sower where
the field is the hearts of men [see Mark 4]. They needed to work the soil of their heart,
to plow and cultivate it, to receive the seed of the Word of God. Each person is
responsible for their own heart, what type of soil they are. Whether they are going to be
fruitful in the work of the Lord, nor not.
God has determined that Christians are to do good works. Paul had said that
Christians were to be a peculiar people because they were zealous of good works.
They were anxious to do good. They wanted to do good. That is what set them apart
from the world. [see Titus 2:14]