Philippians 1:28-30

In Philippians 1:28-30 Paul wraps up this first chapter by pressing the believers to stay strong and be bold in the midst of their adversaries. “….and not frightened in anything by your opponents.” In the ancient Greek language, Martin explains that frightened “is a vivid term, unique in the Greek Bible and denoting the uncontrollable stampede of startled horses.” In the face of this kind of opposition, Paul wanted the Philippian Christians to have the same kind of boldness he had. And while we cannot stand firm on our own accord, God has provided us the needed armor to do exactly that and to not have any reason to be afraid.

When a believer is unafraid of their adversaries, it is a clear sign that they have the upper hand and can destroy those very adversaries. “This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.” When Christians stand strong against intimidation against the world, the flesh and the devil, it shows those spiritual enemies that their ultimate destruction is certain. And when our spiritual enemies fail to make us afraid, they have failed completely because they really have no other weapon than fear and intimidation. We stand against adversaries of many types, but none can defeat the power we have through Christ.

If we fail to stand strong and remain fearless against our enemies, we give “hope” and “confidence” to our spiritual enemies, even though it is a false hope and confidence because their destruction is still assured. In fact, the battle has been fought and the war is already won. Jesus did that on the Cross. So we have absolutely no reason to fear. And when we stand confident and strong in our faith, we have evidence of our salvation in Jesus Christ. He alone is the source of our strength and the ability to be bold because of His victory which is already complete and documented in God’s Word.

Paul drives home why the Philippians need not be terrified by their adversaries: the attacks and challenges they face are ordained by God. He grants our enemies the opportunity to attack us. “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.” The Philippians didn’t need to fear that their present trial (and Paul’s present trial) meant that God abandoned them. Their present difficulty was granted to them, not as a punishment, but as a tool in God’s hand. It is a privilege to suffer for His sake.

Meyer writes “Everyone cannot be trusted with suffering. All could not stand the fiery ordeal. They would speak rashly and complainingly. So the Master has to select with careful scrutiny the branches which can stand the knife.” And he further explains “Look up and take each throb of pain, each hour of agony, as a gift. Dare to thank Him for it. Look inside the envelope of pain for the message it enfolds. It is a rough packing-case, but there is treasure in it.” The Philippians faced the difficulty of walking right with the Lord and proclaiming the gospel when persecuted and under attack. But like Paul, we can and should have joy in that journey!

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