Philippians 1:15-17 Commentary

Philippians 1:15 Some, to be sure, are preaching (3PPAI) Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Tines men kai dia phthonon kai erin, tines de kai di' eudokian ton Christon kerussousin; (3PPAI)
Amplified: Some, it is true, [actually] preach Christ (the Messiah) [for no better reason than] out of envy and rivalry (party spirit), but others are doing so out of a loyal spirit and goodwill. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
NLT: Some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Wuest: In fact, certain ones even because of envy and rivalry, but also others because of good will are proclaiming Christ;
Young's Literal: Certain, indeed, even through envy and contention, and certain also through good-will, do preach the Christ;

SOME TO BE SURE ARE PREACHING CHRIST EVEN FROM ENVY AND STRIFE: Tines men kai...ton Christon kerussousin (3PPAI) kai dia phthonon kai erin : (Php 1:16;18 Acts 5:42; 8:5 8:35; 9:20; 10:36; 11:20; 1Co 1:23; 2Co 1:19; 4:5; 1Ti 3:16) (Php 2:3; Mt 23:5; Ro16:17; 16:18; 1Co3:3; 3:4; 13:3; 2Co12:20; Gal2:4; Jas 4:5; 6) (Php 1:17; 1Pe 5:2, 3, 4)

out of envy and rivalry (NIV)

through envy and contention (YLT)

I know that some are preaching Christ out of jealousy, in order to annoy me (Phillips)

It is true that some of them are preaching Christ out of malice and rivalry (NJB)

Some - This reflects back to Php 1:14--the brethren.

To be sure - This phrase emphasizes that the detractors Paul is referring to did indeed preach the genuine gospel & were not heretics, Judaizers, Gnostics, idol worshipers, or devotees of Greek mythology.

Are preaching (proclaiming) (2784)(kerusso [word study] or kerysso from kerux/keryx = a herald - one who acts as the medium of the authority of one who proclamation he makes; kerugma = the thing preached or the message) means to proclaim (publicly) or to herald or act as a public crier - the town official who would make a proclamation in a public gathering.

Kerusso was used of the official whose duty it was to proclaim loudly and extensively the coming of an earthly king, even as our gospel is to clearly announce the coming of the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16-note)!

The Imperial Herald would enter a town in behalf of the Emperor, and make a public proclamation of the message which his Sovereign ordered him to give, doing so with such formality, gravity, and authority as to emphasize that the message must be heeded! (Think about this in regard to the Gospel of God instead of the decree of a man! cf 1Th 2:13-note). He gave the people exactly what the Emperor bade him give, nothing more, nothing less. He did not dare add to the message or take away from it. Should this not be the example and pattern every preacher and teacher of the holy gospel of God seeks and strives to emulate, yea, even doing so with fear and trembling! ("not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts" see 1Th 2:4-note)

Christ (5547) (Christos from chrio = to anoint, rub with oil, consecrate to an office) is the Anointed One, the Messiah, Christos being the Greek equivalent of the transliterated Hebrew word Messiah. S

They were "preaching (present tense = continually) Christ" (literally "the Christ" or "the Messiah") and not "another gospel" (Gal1:8) or "another Jesus" (2Co11:4) In Acts we see the early church "kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as (the) Christ" (the Messiah)." (Acts 5:42) Philip "went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming (the) Christ (the Messiah) to them" and to the Ethiopian eunuch "Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture (Isa 53:7) he preached Jesus to him." (Acts 8:5, 35)

Wasting no time after his Damascus Road encounter with the Resurrected Messiah, Paul "immediately...began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." (Acts 9:20) Paul continued to emphasize that "we preach Christ (Messiah) crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness," and that they did "not preach (themselves) but Christ Jesus as Lord." (1Co1:23; 2Co4:5) (Click here for 15 references re "preaching Christ") Who is my life "preaching"?

These detractors valued success, not as a triumph over paganism, but as a triumph over Paul. It would make them feel good if they could make his sufferings in prison more acute by reason of jealousy which might arise in his heart. But their evil motives did not steal his joy, for as long as Jesus was being proclaimed as the Messiah, Paul was content.

Moule on "even from envy" - A mournful paradox, but abundantly verifiable. (Philippians 1 Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges)

John MacArthur says that the aspect of ministry that "most distresses (him) is being falsely accused by fellow preachers of the gospel. For whatever reason, there are men who seem to desire to discredit the ministry of others. As a result they falsely accuse other ministers, not because those they attack are unbelievers, but simply to discredit them....The pain runs deep when preachers of the gospel slander, malign, misrepresent, criticize, accuse, oppose, or belittle your ministry." (John MacArthur)

Envy (5355) (phthonos [word study]) describes pain felt and malignity conceived at the sight of excellence or happiness. It means not just wanting what another person has, but also resenting that person for having it. It is an attitude of ill-will that leads to division and strife and even murder. When we envy, we cannot bear to see the prosperity of others, because we ourselves feel continually wretched.

Phthonos - 9x in 9v - Matt 27:18; Mark 15:10; Rom 1:29; Gal 5:21; Phil 1:15; 1 Tim 6:4; Titus 3:3; Jas 4:5; 1 Pet 2:1. NAS = envy(7), envying(1), jealously(1).

The English word envy is interesting as it is derived from the Latin in = against and video = to look, “to look with ill-will,” etc., toward another, and obviously is an evil strongly condemned in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

To envy is to feel a grudging discontent aroused by the possessions, achievements, or qualities of another along with the desire to have for oneself something possessed by another. To envy another is to show spiteful malice and resentment over another’s advantage. To envy is to possess a discontented feeling that arises in one's selfish heart in view of the superiority of another, and being nearly tantamount to the expression of jealousy. The one who envies possesses a malignant passion that sees in another qualities that it covets, and can even degenerate into hatred for their possessor. When we feel envy towards others our basic desire is to degrade them, not so much because we aspires after elevation as because we delight in obscuring those who are more deserving. It follows that envying while seemingly just an "innocent" sin is in fact one of the most odious and detestable of all vices.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary - Sin of jealousy over the blessings and achievements of others, especially the spiritual enjoyment and advance of the kingdom of Christ freely and graciously bestowed upon the people of God. Old Testament examples of the sin of jealousy include the rivalry of Joseph's brothers over the favor that Joseph received at the hand of God (Genesis 37:12-36; Acts 7:9 ), and Saul's animosity toward David for his physical and spiritual prowess (1 Samuel 18 ). Envy inevitably leads to personal harm and debilitation, affecting one's physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being (Job 5:2; Proverbs 14:30 ). Unchecked, it gradually leads to a destructive and remorseful way of life (Proverbs 27:4 ), and ultimately, to estrangement from God (Romans 1:28-32 ). Envy manifests the insidiousness of sin and human depravity apart from the intervention of God's redeeming grace. As a sin of the flesh, envy characterizes the lives of the unregenerate. Envy is one of the traits of the Christian's former way of life (Romans 13:8-14; Titus 3:3 ). Those who practice envy and strife are barred from the kingdom of heaven (Galatians 5:19-26 ). Indeed, the unregenerate nature ever tends toward envy, manifesting the unbeliever's rejection of God, his truth, and his will for human conduct (James 3:14,16 ). (Envy - Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Bible Dictionary -

Jealousy and envy are close in meaning, but nevertheless are expressive of distinct attitudes, for jealousy makes us fear to lose what we possess, while envy creates sorrow that others have what we do not have. In other words, we are jealous of our own possessions, but we are envious of another man’s possessions. Jealousy fears to lose what it has, while envy is pained at seeing another have it!

Vine says that "envy differs from jealousy in that the former desires merely to deprive another of what he has, whereas the latter desires as well to have the same, or a similar, thing for itself." On this account envy is said to be “as the rottenness of the bones (Pr 14:30).

Thus Trench calls envy “the meaner sin” of the two.

Although Paul is characterizing those without Christ, believers are not immune to this sin which especially sad in the body of Christ, where the envying party is resentful of the spiritual accomplishments freely and graciously bestowed upon another brother or sister in Christ. Instead we should rejoice with them, but ultimately we can only do this when we are walking by the Spirit.

Spurgeon observes "How often, if one Christian brother does a little more than his fellow-workers, they begin to find fault with him; and if one is blessed with greater success than others are, how frequently that success is disparaged and spoken of slightingly! This spirit of envy is, more or less, in us all and though, perhaps we are not exhibiting it just now, it only needs a suitable opportunity for its display, and it would be manifested. No man here has any idea of how bad he really is. You do not know how good the grace of God can make you, nor how bad you are by nature, nor how bad you might become if that nature were left to itself.

Strife (2054) (eris [word study]) means contention, wrangling, quarrels. It refers to engagement in rivalry, especially with reference to positions taken in a matter, such a belief in the meaning of a genealogy! strife, a general term that carries the ideas of all kinds of self-centered rivalry and contentiousness about the truth. Strife is an expression of enmity with bitter sometimes violent conflict or dissension. It refers to persistent contention, bickering, petty disagreement, and enmity. It reflects a spirit of antagonistic competitiveness that fights to have its own way, regardless of cost to itself or of harm to others. It is produced by a deep desire to prevail over others, to gain the highest prestige, prominence, and recognition possible. Strife is characterized by self-indulgence and egoism. It has no place even for simple tolerance, much less for humility or love.

Barclay writes that strife (eris)...

is the contention which is born of envy, ambition, the desire for prestige, and place and prominence. It comes from the heart in which there is jealousy. If a man is cleansed of jealousy, he has gone far to being cleansed of all that arouses contention and strife. It is God-given gift to be able to take as much pleasure in the successes of others as in one’s own...Eris is the spirit that is born of unbridled and unholy competition. It comes from the desire for place and power and prestige and the hatred of being surpassed. It is essentially the sin which places self in the foreground and is the entire negation of Christian love...(Eris) is a word of battles. It denotes rivalry and competition, discord about place and prestige. It is the characteristic of the man who has forgotten that only he who humbles himself can be exalted. (Daily Study Bible)

Eris is found 9 times in the (Ro 1:29 - note; Ro 13:13 - note; 1Cor 1:11; 3:3; 2Co 12:20; Gal 5:20; Php 1:15 - note; 1Ti 6:4; Titus 3:9) and not in the Septuagint (LXX).

Eris describes the discord, contention, rivalry, and/or conflict which resulted when Paul’s critics began discrediting him. Paul was simply following the example of his Master Jesus (1Pe 2:21) Who even Pilate "knew that because of envy ...had (been) handed ...over." (Mt 27:18) It is a sad that this kind of contention is rampant in the church today. Because people are jealous, they focus their whole lives on trying to discredit people who occupy places of blessing, such as evangelists, writers, pastors, teachers, and leaders of various ministries. Like Paul's detractors, they compete with others by using slander, accusation, and criticism--anything to tear another down.

Some preached Christ but had personal ambition whereas others had personal hostility toward Paul.

Paul had scolded the Corinthians for persistence in similar sins writing that

"for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife (Gk = eris, wrangling, quarreling) among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?" (1Cor 3:3)

Puritan Thomas Manton gives some good advice when you find yourself in a situation of being misrepresented like Paul was. He writes

"God is the most powerful asserter of our innocence. He has the hearts and tongues of men in His own hands, and can either prevent the slanderer from uttering reproach, or the hearer from the entertainment of the reproach. He that hath such power over the consciences of men can clear up our innocence; therefore it is best to deal with God about it; and prayer many times proves a better vindication than" to attempt to defend ourselves.

How did Paul handle the false accusations? (Php 1:18-note)

Charles Simeon (click to read biographical sketch of Simeon if you want to see an almost unbelievable example of standing firm in the face of fierce opposition) wrote,

"Let a pious minister arise in the Established Church (of England), and what labors (those filled with envy & strife will use) to draw away his people: preachings, prayer-meetings, societies, will all be formed for this very end & persons of popular talent will be brought from a distance to further the base design"

BUT SOME ALSO FROM GOOD WILL: tines de kai di' eudokian:

but some are preaching him in good faith (Phillips)

but there are many as well whose intentions are good (NJB)

Good will (2107) (eudokía) refers to good pleasure, good intent, benevolence, a gracious purpose. This group was kindly disposed to Paul & was composed of Gentile converts, friends of Paul, who were encouraged to preach by the thought that it would give joy to the great apostle whose liberty was restricted. They were sympathetic towards Paul and grateful for his ministry. There are also people like that today--what a blessing, encouragement, and source of joy they are! If these "Barnabas" type folks are in your life then you should give praise and thanks to God for their lives.

Eudokia - 9x in 9v - Matt 11:26; Luke 2:14; 10:21; Rom 10:1; Eph 1:5, 9; Phil 1:15; 2:13; 2 Thess 1:11. NAS = desire(2), good pleasure(1), good will(1), kind intention(2), pleased(1), well-pleasing(2).

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Our Daily Bread: When the famous sculptor Michelangelo and the painter Raphael were creating works of art to beautify the Vatican, a bitter spirit of rivalry rose up between them. Whenever they met, they refused to speak to each other. Yet each was supposedly doing his work for the glory of God. Jealousy often parades behind the facade of religious zeal. Miriam and Aaron criticized their brother Moses for marrying an Ethiopian. But God's anger revealed that it was actually jealousy that prompted their criticism. Out of jealousy, Saul sought to kill David, whom God had chosen to succeed Saul as king. And when the apostle Paul was in prison, some people were so jealous of the way God was using him that they preached Christ in order to add to the apostle's distress.

We can overcome this harmful attitude, but first we must identify it. Jealousy believes that someone else is getting what we deserve—whether money, popularity, wisdom, skill, or spiritual maturity. Sec­ond, we must confess it. Call it what it is—sin. And third, we must give thanks. The moment we see someone enjoying any advantage, we must accept it with gratitude. We can keep jealousy in check by refusing to compare ourselves with others. As we learn to find our satisfaction in God, His grace enables us to rejoice with those who rejoice. When we do that, we have little room for envy. —D J De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

When we turn green with jealousy,
We are ripe for trouble.

Philippians 1:16 the latter do it out of love, knowing (RAPMPN) that I am appointed (1SPMI) for the defense of the gospel (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: oi men ex agapes, eidotes (RAPMPN) hoti eis apologian tou euaggeliou keimai, (1SPMI)

Amplified: The latter [proclaim Christ] out of love, because they recognize and know that I am [providentially] put here for the defense of the good news (the Gospel). (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

KJV: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:

NLT: They preach because they love me, for they know the Lord brought me here to defend the Good News.

Wuest: some indeed out of a spirit of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;

Young's Literal: the one, indeed, of rivalry the Christ do proclaim, not purely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds,

THE LATTER DO IT OUT OF LOVE KNOWING THAT I AM APPOINTED FOR THE DEFENSE OF THE GOSPEL : oi men ex agapes, eidotes (RAPMPN) hoti eis apologian tou euaggeliou keimai, (1SPMI): (Php 1:7; Ro 1:13, 14, 15, 16, 17; 1Co 9:16 17; Gal 2:7;2:8 1Ti 2:7; 2Ti 1:11, 12; 4:6, 7; Lk 21:14; Acts 22:1; 26:1, 24; 2Ti 4:16) Other translations = "These latter are preaching out of their love for me. For they know that God has set me here in prison to defend our right to preach the Gospel" (Phillips "Those who tell the message about Christ out of love know that God has put me here to defend the Good News" (GWT)

Those who supported Paul did so "out of love". Those who preached Christ out of envy and strife certainly weren't characterized by love. An essential element of any effective ministry is love as Paul emphasized to the Corinthian church - "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." (1Cor 13:1; 2; 3)

Love (Jn 3:16, 1Jn 4:9) and that God enables in His children (see note on fruit of the Spirit - Gal 5:22-note).

Appointed (destined) (2749)(keimai) means literally to be in a recumbent position, to lie down, to be laid down. The root meaning refers to lying down or reclining and came to be used of an official appointment and sometimes of destiny. In the military keimai was used of a special assignment, such as guard duty or defense of a strategic position - the soldier was placed (set) on duty. God had placed Paul on duty to defend the gospel and He calls all saints to consider a similar charge to "suffer (command to suffer) a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2Ti 2:3, 4).

Paul was in prison because he was destined to be there by God’s will, so as to be in a strategic position to proclaim the gospel.

Wiersbe comments that keimai can also mean

“to canvass for office, to get people to support you. Paul’s aim was to glorify Christ and get people to follow Him; his critics’ aim was to promote themselves and win a following of their own. Instead of asking, “Have you trusted Christ?” they asked, “Whose side are you on—ours or Paul’s?” Unfortunately, this kind of “religious politics” is still seen today. And the people who practice it need to realize that they are only hurting themselves."

Paul fully understood his "appointment" and that as a "good soldier of Christ Jesus" he was "under compulsion (compelled, a necessity having been laid upon him)," going on to explain that "woe is me if I do not preach the gospel for... I have a stewardship entrusted to me. (or as NLT paraphrases it - 'God has chosen me and given me this sacred trust, and I have no choice'." (1Co 9:16, 17)

How does this truth apply to me today?

Defense (627)(apologia from apo = from + logos = speech; English = apologetic) literally means, “to talk one’s self off from". Apologia was a technical word used in the Greek law courts and was used of an attorney who talked his client off from a charge preferred against him. In short it refers to a speech given in defense.

Apologia - Acts 22:1; 25:16; 1 Cor 9:3; 2 Cor 7:11; Phil 1:7, 16; 2 Tim 4:16; 1 Pet 3:15. NAS = defense(7), vindication(1).

The English word apologetics describes the branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity. Paul was a defender of the gospel and had been sovereignly, providentially placed by God in a strategic position to make his stand -- before the imperial government of the Roman Empire. How could he defend the gospel before the great and fearsome emperor of Rome? First, he had to understand that he was not defending himself but the gospel and secondly that he could not do it in his own strength.

As Jesus instructed His disciples

make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. (Lk 21:14, 15)

If God is for us, who is against us" for "in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. (Ro 8:31-note, Ro 8:37-note)

Philippians 1:17 (but) the former * proclaim (3PPAI) Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives , thinking (PMPMPN) to cause (PAN) me distress in my imprisonment. (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: hoi de ex eritheias ton Christon kataggellousin, (3PPAI) ouch hagnos oiomenoi (PMPMPN) thlipsin egeirein (PAN) tois desmois mou.

Amplified: But the former preach Christ out of a party spirit, insincerely [out of no pure motive, but thinking to annoy me], supposing they are making my bondage more bitter and my chains more galling. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)

ASV: but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. (This translation corresponds to the Greek text above)

KJV: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.

NIV: The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

NLT: Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Wuest: but others out of a partisan self-seeking spirit are announcing Christ, not with pure unmixed motives, but insincerely, thinking to make my chain gall me

Young's Literal: and the other out of love, having known that for defence of the good news I am set: (This & the KJV translations are from the Greek Textus Receptus accounting for the differences)

THE FORMER PROCLAIM CHRIST OUT OF SELFISH AMBITION RATHER THAN FROM PURE MOTIVES: hoi de ex eritheias ton Christon kataggellousin, (3PPAI) ouch hagnos : (2Co2:17)

"The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely" (NIV),

"but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely" (ASV), "But those are preaching Christ in a spirit of competition" (BBE)

"but those out of contention, announce the Christ, not purely" (Darby)

"There are others who are proclaiming Christ out of jealousy, not in sincerity" (NJB)

"Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely" (NLT)

"the former proclaim Christ out of partisanship, not sincerely" (RSV), "But others preach about Christ because they are selfish. Their reason for preaching is wrong." (ICB)

" but others out of a partisan self-seeking spirit are announcing Christ, not with pure unmixed motives, but insincerely" (Wuest)

"But the others are insincere. They tell the message about Christ out of selfish ambition" (GWT), "But the former preach Christ out of a party spirit, insincerely [out of no pure motive, but thinking to annoy me]" (Amp)

"The motive of the former is questionable - they preach in a partisan spirit" (Phillips)

Proclaim (2605) (kataggello [word study]) was used in secular Greek in honor of the emperors as the proclamation of imperial rule & meaning especially to announce or declare publicly, as in 1Co 11:26, where partaking of the Lord’s Supper is spoken of as a proclamation of His death until He comes again. Paul later wrote that the faith of the Roman saints was being openly & publicly declared (Ro 1:8 same verb kataggello cf uses in 1Co 2:1,1Co 9:14, Col 1:28)

Selfish ambition (2052) (eritheia [word study]) originally meant to work for hire but came to be applied in a negative sense toward those who sought solely to benefit themselves--to advance themselves by acquiring wealth and prestige. It was often used of those who promote themselves in the course of running for government office. It was also used of the ruthlessly ambitious--those who sought to elevate themselves at all costs. Paul's imprisonment provided the perfect opportunity for such types to enhance their personal prestige and lessen his (or so they thought). Paul’s detractors used his incarceration as an opportunity to promote their own prestige possibly by accusing Paul of being so sinful the Lord had chastened or disciplined him by this imprisonment. In contrast to the love that characterized Paul's supporters, his detractors were motivated by selfish ambition--the most wicked of all motives. They were far removed from the principles of Php 2:3:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves

The Philippians were not to behave like Paul's detractors in Rome. While the message of Paul's detractors was right, their motive was wrong. Selfishness comes in many forms. Peter warned against seeking after sordid gain (1Pe 5:2) and dominating others (1Pe 5:3). The apostle John spoke against seeking to be first (3Jn 1:9). Selfishness can show itself in any of those ways.

Pure (motives) (53) (hagnos [word study]) means means freedom from defilements or impurities. So not with pure motives means their motives were mixed and impure, with duplicity. This group proclaimed Christ with but had underlying selfish motives. The preached with "dissimulation" which means they hid their motives under a false appearance. Do we ever do this among the brethren?

THINKING TO CAUSE ME DISTRESS IN MY IMPRISONMENT: hoiomenoi (PMPMPN) thlipsin egeirein (PAN) tois desmois mou:.

To make my chains gall me (Lightfoot)

supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. (NIV)

thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds (ASV)

but with the purpose of giving me pain in my prison (BBE)

supposing to arouse tribulation for my bonds (Darby)

meaning to add to the weight of my chains (NJB)

intending to make my chains more painful to me. (NLT)

hoping to make my chains even more galling than they would otherwise be (Phillips)

intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment. (NRSV)

They want to make trouble for me in prison. (ICB)

thinking to make my chain gall me (Wuest)

in order to stir up trouble for me while I'm in prison. (GWT)

supposing they are making my bondage more bitter and my chains more galling (Amp)

Thinking (Hoiomai) according to BDAG means "to consider something to be true but with a component of tentativeness." The present tense describes this as a continual way of thinking.

Distress (2347) (thlipsis [word study]) means tribulation (distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution), trouble, affliction and is derived from thlíbo which means to crush, press, compress, squeeze, which in turn is from thláo meaning to break. It is interesting to note the etymology of our English "tribulation" derives from the Latin tribulum which was the drag used in threshing grain, separating the wheat and the chaff. Is that not the eternal purpose of trials God allows in to our life? (Jas 1:2, 1:3, 1:4, 1:5) When Paul was "crushed" or "pressed", what came out of him was what continually filled him, the fruit of the Spirit of Christ. What comes out of me when I am squeezed out of my comfort zone?

Cause (1453)(egeiro) means to "raise up" and is a vivid metaphor of the detractors thinking they could "raise up affliction" with their desired goal being

"to annoy the apostle by seeking to achieve success in gospel work in a spirit of rivalry against him, glorying in the fact that he was in chains." (Vine)

Thus we see the vivid picture of what Paul's detractors desired to do to him! And surely the malicious behavior of these envious detractors added to the physical chaffing of the shackles. Far from exalting Christ, protecting the church, evangelizing the lost, or defending the Word of God, their goal was to irritate Paul. Paul's words serve as a warning to us and we should not to be surprised by similar impious malicious behavior in the church today. If it happened to Paul, it will happen to all who "retain the standard of sound words" (2Ti 1:13).

Many times the NT warns against envy, strife, selfish ambition, and impure motives (Php 2:3;1Co 3:3 3:4; 13:3; 2Co 12:20; Gal 2:4; Jas 4:5 4:6) which are to be assiduously avoided now as much as they ought to have been then.


F B Meyer...


Phil. 1:12-18

Man's Purpose and God's Power.

In Psalm 75, breathing courage and confidence, which exalts the mighty Sovereign of all and magnifies His mighty power, the Psalmist tells us that the wrath of man shall be made to praise God. The wicked may plot against God, seeking to injure His servants and obstruct the progress of His truth, and within certain limits they may appear to succeed; but when they expect to reap the harvest of their evil machinations, they suddenly find themselves put to the worse, and God takes all that they had meant for the suppression of the Gospel, to promote its progress and triumph. There are few instances establishing this fact more striking than the story of the Apostle, for the misfortunes which befell his human life, and the difficulties over which he was compelled to make progress, were used by God to promote the highest interests of that very Gospel which was so dear to his heart, and for which he suffered so much.

St. Paul's yearning for Rome.

How eagerly he set his heart upon reaching Rome! In the Epistle to the Roman Christians, he tells them that he hopes presently that he may see Rome, not only that he may comfort them and be comforted by them, but because Rome was the metropolis of the world. From the golden mile-stone that stood in the Forum the mighty roads emanated to the far East and West. What Jerusalem was during the one week of the Passover, Rome was always. The statesmen who filled her Senate would be commissioned to all parts of the known world as consuls and praetors; the soldiers who gathered in her barracks might be despatched to the far Euphrates on the one hand, or the white cliffs of Britain on the other. To reach Rome seemed like standing in some telephonic centre, from which a whisper would reverberate to the ends of the world.

The Apostle Paul was a great strategist.

He knew the value of cities; they were the head of waters, into which if seed were dropped the current would carry it everywhere. Therefore, as he had spoken in Jerusalem, the heart of Palestine; at Antioch, the heart of Syria; at Ephesus, the heart of Asia Minor; and at Athens, the heart of Greece, he was desirous of preaching at Rome also, the heart of the empire of the world. No doubt he expected to get there as to other places, paying his own passage, going freely, and being welcomed by the little Churches of the saints, which were beginning to shed their light amid the surrounding gloom. But it was not thus that Paul accomplished his life-purpose. He came to Rome a prisoner, his passage paid as a convict by the Roman Government; and the hatred of his enemies was the breath of the Almighty that wafted him to his chosen destination.

Thus, constantly, God allows men to rage madly against His Gospel up to a certain point, which may cause annoyance, inconvenience, and pain, but there is always a "thus far and no further," and the Gospel proceeds upon the very lines which God from all eternity had determined.

This wonderful truth, which is capable of almost endless application, meets with three very remarkable illustrations in this paragraph.

Paul's Imprisonment in its Effect upon the Soldiers.

"My bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest" (Phil. 1:13). It would be better translated--to the whole circle of the imperial lifeguards. We are all familiar with the fact that the Apostle was chained to a Roman soldier during the entire term of his two years' imprisonment, the soldier being changed every six hours. What an exquisite torture this must have been to a sensitive nature like his! Bad enough never to be alone, but still worse to have to spend the long hours always in company with a man chosen from the Roman guard.

In the Epistles of Ignatius, the good bishop of Antioch, who was entrusted to such guards to bring him from his see at Antioch to be thrown to the wild beasts, describes himself as fighting day and night with ten leopards, who, the more kindness was shown them, waxed worse and worse. Though we may well imagine that some of the soldiers chained to the Apostle may have been quiet and wistful men, eager to know the truth, yet, quite as likely, others would fill the room with ribald songs and jokes, and turn into blasphemous ridicule the words they heard the Apostle speak to those who came to visit him.

At times the hired room would be thronged with people, to whom the Apostle spoke words of life; and after they withdrew the sentry would sit beside him, filled with many questionings as to the meaning of the words which this strange prisoner spoke. At other times, when all had gone, and especially at night, when the moonlight shone on the distant slopes of Soracte, soldier and Apostle would be left to talk, and in those dark, lonely hours the Apostle would tell soldier after soldier the story of his own proud career in early life, of his opposition to Christ, and his ultimate conversion, and would make it clear that he was there as a prisoner, not for any crime, not because he had raised rebellion or revolt, but because he believed that He whom the Roman soldiers had crucified, under Pilate, was the Son of God and the Saviour of men. As these tidings spread, and the soldiers talked them over with one another, the whole guard would become influenced in sympathy with the meek and gentle Apostle, who always showed himself so kindly to the men as they shared, however involuntarily, his imprisonment.

The Witness of the Consistent Life.

How absolutely consistent the Apostle must have been! If there had been the least divergence, day or night, from the high standard which he upheld, his soldier-companion would have caught at it, and passed it on to others. The fact that so many became earnest Christians, and that the Word of Jesus was known far and wide throughout the praetorian guard, indicates how absolutely consistent the Apostle's life was. Do you not see how this applies to your own life? You may be bound to unsympathetic companions, as the Apostle to his soldier, as Ignatius to his ten leopards, or as Nicholas Ridley, afterwards Bishop and martyr, to the bigoted Roman Catholic Mayor of Oxford; but by your meek consistency and purity of life you may win these for God, and what might therefore have appeared an obstacle to your growth in grace, and to the progress of the Gospel, may turn out just the opposite. See to it that you so live and speak that it may be so.

The Imprisonment: its Effect upon the Brethren.

"Most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear" (Phil. 1:14). That is, courage was supplied them by the striking example of this noble man. Many who realised that, notwithstanding his chains and bonds, he was as enthusiastic in spreading the Gospel as he had been when his life was at his own disposal, and that, in spite of every difficulty and obstacle, he was still doing so much for the Gospel he loved, were rebuked for their lack of zeal and said: "If the Apostle is so strong and brave and energetic, when there is every reason for him to slacken and mitigate his energy, how much more reason there is for us, who have unrestrained liberty of action, to be unceasing in our endeavours for that Gospel for which he suffers."

The man who works for Christ when everything is against him stirs those up who have no such difficulties; just as he who makes confession for truth and righteousness, when there are many reasons for him to hush his voice, incites others to break forth in confession of Jesus Christ. They who dare to speak for God, even to death, are the means of stirring others to heroic defence of the Gospel. Think, for instance, of one of the greatest men that ever lived in England--a man whose name is almost forgotten now, but who is immortally associated with the cadence and splendid diction of the Bible--William Tyndale. It was his avowed purpose that every plough-boy in England should be able to know as much of the Bible as the priests. To accomplish this he appealed to the Bishop of London, but received no sympathy, and sorrowfully discovered that England could not hold the translator of the Bible. He was compelled to flee from England to Hamburg, from Hamburg to Cologne, from Cologne to Worms, and finally to Antwerp, where he was executed as a martyr; but not before he had put his imprimatur upon the magnificent English of the Bible, and had invested the Scriptures with priceless interest for the minds and hearts of those who had watched his noble life, his beneficent career, and his bloody death, so that out of his ashes there sprang a hundred, nay, a thousand men, to scatter the Bible for which he died.

A Call to You.

This may also be the case with you who are called to suffer for the Gospel. It may seem as if your voice were being hushed in blood and tears; but others are being made bold. Many a young man in that worldly society or godless counting-house is saying "If he dares to stand for God, I too will be a hero"; so that the very effect of your example is to stimulate weaker ones to become confessors and martyrs for Jesus Christ. Has not this been the result of the wholesale martyrdoms of Chinese missionaries and converts?

The Imprisonment: its Effect upon the Opponents of Evangelical Truth.

"Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of goodwill." "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice" (Phil. 1:1-18). There were two parties in Rome. The one loved Paul enthusiastically, and accepted his teaching; the other, though professedly Christian, held by the Temple, the Pharisees, and the old restrictions of Judaism. They avowed Christ, but often looked backward to the Old Covenant and tried to weave the two together. Paul's coming aroused these to more earnestness in promoting their own views of Christianity, but he said: "It does not matter, if Christ is preached; they do not love me, they do not come to me for help, they are doing all they can to make my life difficult; but nevertheless, if my Lord Jesus Christ is being preached, I am more than thankful." Perhaps that explains why God has permitted the various denominations to divide England between them. Perhaps it is better that it should be so, because one stirs up the other. It may be that the efforts of the Nonconformists stir to more activity the members of the Church of England, and vice versa. In any case the various doctrines of Christianity are more likely to be strongly enforced and maintained, when they underlie the very existence of a body of Christians, than if they were held in common by all.

All through the history of the world God has taken what seemed to be a hindrance and obstacle, and, if only His servants were patient and true to Him, has converted it into a pulpit from which they could better promulgate the truth. Remember how Nebuchadnezzar harried the Jews. It seemed as if the holy city was never again to wield an influence for good over the world; but the chosen people were scattered with their Scriptures throughout the world, and the world of God was magnified much more than it could have been by their concentration in their own city. The devil stirred up the Jews to murder Christ, but the grain of wheat which fell into the ground to die, no more abode alone, but has covered the world with the harvests of rich grain. The Emperors persecuted the early Church, but only drove the disciples everywhere preaching the Word. King Charles chased the Puritans out of England, but they landed on Plymouth Rock, and founded the great Christian commonwealth across the Atlantic. Out of the awful Civil War the conditions arose that made it possible for Abraham Lincoln to free the slave, and again the wrath of man turned out to further the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"Careless seems the great Avenger,
History's pages but record
One death-grapple, in the darkness,
'Twixt old systems and the Word.
Truth for ever on the scaffold,
Wrong for ever on the throne;
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow,
Keeping watch upon His own."

So it May be with us. So it will be in our life. Let us begin to rejoice at difficulties, to rejoice when Satan rages. The power which is used against us, God will convert for our good; only let us always cherish the eager expectation and hope that Christ may be magnified in our body, whether by life or by death, whether by joy or by shame, whether by good fortune or by misfortune, whether by success or by failure. Christ, Christ, Christ, the Blessed Christ--not the Bible alone, not the creed alone, not doctrine alone, but Christ, Christ, Christ, always Christ manifested in our body, whether it be by life or by death.

Is Christ dear to you? Do you live for Him? Is the one passion and aim and purpose of your nature to glorify Him? Can you say: To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain? Oh, let us from today begin to live for this!

And if you are discouraged and disheartened, be of good cheer. When you are devoted to Christ, your very bonds will become electric chains through which the pulsation's of energy shall go to others, and your very troubles will be pulpits from which you shall preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.

Storms cannot shipwreck the Gospel; they waft it forward. Its foes contrive ingenious devices to obstruct it, but they awake to discover that all they had done to hinder is used to help. The lines of rail and the rolling stock which the enemy elaborated for incursions of hostile intent, are found to be simply invaluable to bear forward the precious message of the Gospel they would overthrow. It will be found, doubtless, at the end of all things, that the beneficent purposes of God have not been hindered one whit, but promoted and fostered, by all that has been done to frustrate them. This is the mystery of God's providence---that, so far from being set aside by evil, evil helps by furnishing the material on which the fire of the Gospel feeds, and flames to the furthest limits of God's universe. (F. B. Meyer. The Epistle to the Philippians)


Charles Simeon...


Phil. 1:17

THE Gospel is a revelation of mercy to sinful man, and the most stupendous display of God’s wisdom and grace that ever was given to his intelligent creation — — — It might naturally have been expected that such tidings should have been invariably welcomed with unbounded joy: but, in every age, and every place under heaven, has it excited the fiercest opposition — — — On the other hand, it has been maintained with firmness by God’s faithful servants, and has triumphed over all the opposition that either men or devils could raise against it — — — In truth, it has been assailed no less by subtilty than by force; and its very doctrines have been propagated with a view to undermine its influence. St. Paul tells us, that, on his imprisonment, many rose to the occasion, and proclaimed the Gospel with augmented fortitude; but that some had preached it for no other end than that of drawing away his disciples, and thereby adding affliction to his bonds. He, however, whether under prosperous or adverse circumstances, “was set for the defence of the Gospel,” and was determined to maintain it, even unto death.

In him we see,

I. What place the Gospel should hold in our estimation—

Nothing is of importance in comparison of it—

[Nothing can vie with it in certainty as a record, in richness as a system, or in value as a remedy.

Whatever can be conceived as necessary to establish its authority as a divine record, is found in it in such abundance, that no record under heaven can be received, if this be not. Its evidences, both external and internal, are so clear and numerous, that it is not possible for a candid mind to withstand their force — — —

And what wonders of love and mercy does it bring to our view! the substitution of God’s co-equal, co-eternal Son, in the place of his rebellious creatures, to bear the wrath which they had merited, and fulfil the law which they had broken, and thereby to work out a righteousness wherein they might find acceptance! — — — the sending also of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person in the ever-adorable Trinity, to impart to men the knowledge of this salvation, and to prepare them for the enjoyment of it! Such a mode of restoring man to his offended God infinitely surpasses all finite conception: nor will eternity suffice to explore the wonders of love and mercy contained in it — — —

To the weary and heavy-laden soul nothing else is wanting. It provides for sinful man all that his necessities require—pardon, and peace, and holiness, and glory: pardon of all his sins, how great or numerous soever they may have been; peace with God, and in his own conscience; strength for the performance of every duty; and everlasting happiness at the right hand of God. Never was there a case which this did not reach; never a want for which it was not an adequate supply — — —]

Nothing, therefore, should equal it in our esteem — — —

[How vain and empty does the world appear, when viewed by the eye of faith! St. Paul, speaking of the cross of Christ, says, that, “by it the world was crucified unto him, and he unto the world.” This expression of his will set this matter in its true light. Suppose a person suspended on the cross, and in the very article of death: what are the world’s feelings in relation to him, and his in reference to the world? His dearest friends and relatives feel their connexion with him altogether dissolved; and he, even if he has possessed crowns and kingdoms, feels no further interest in them; but bids them, without regret, an everlasting farewell. Precisely thus are the bonds which once subsisted between the believer and the world burst asunder; they no longer regarding him as theirs, and he no longer regarding them as his. The concerns of eternity have taken possession of his mind; and he has no longer any taste for the things of time and sense. This, I hesitate not to say, should, in the main, be the experience of all who embrace the Gospel: “they should count all things but dung, that they may win Christ.”

Nor should personal ease be deemed of any importance in comparison of fidelity to Christ. The fiery furnace should not intimidate: the den of lions should not deter us from the path of duty. Whatever we may have suffered, or may be threatened with, for the Gospel’s sake, we should be ready to say, with the Apostle, “None of these things move me: neither count I my life dear unto me, so that I may but fulfil my duty to my Lord and Saviour” — — —

It is scarcely needful to say, that we must be ready to relinquish for it our own righteousness: for though self-righteousness cleaves closer to us than to any thing else, a just view of the Gospel will dispel it all, as a morning cloud; and we shall be ready to seek our all in Christ; making him, and him alone, “our wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.]

From hence, then, we may easily see,

II. What firmness it should produce in our conduct—

The Apostle “was set for the defence of the Gospel,” in the midst of greater difficulties and trials than ever were encountered by mortal man. And a similar firmness should we manifest,

1. In our adherence to it—

[It is, indeed, “our very life;” and should occupy our whole souls. It should be to our souls what our souls are to our bodies: it should live, and move, and act in every part. Our every act, and word, and thought, should be directed by it; and we should be as tenacious of it as of life itself. It is justly said, “Skin for skin; yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life:” and in this light we should view the Gospel: in comparison of it, every thing in the whole universe should be considered as of no account: and, if all the world endeavour to wrest it from us, we should be ready to lay down our life in its defence; well knowing, that “whoso will save his life, shall lose it; but that whosoever will lose it for the Gospel’s sake, the same shall save it.”]

2. In our profession of it—

[There were, in the Apostle’s days, some who “preached Christ of envy and strife;” and who affected an union in sentiment with him, only with a view to subvert his power. And such preachers exist at this day; adopting and proclaiming the Gospel itself, for the purpose of diminishing the influence of those whose principles are more pure, whose aims are more exalted, whose lives are more heavenly. Indeed, there is scarcely any thing more common, than for the people of the world to point out to their friends men as patterns of sound doctrine and of correct conduct, with no better view than to draw away from more zealous ministers their followers and adherents. But we should be alike on our guard against pretended friends and avowed enemies. I mean not to say that we should not listen to counsel of any kind: for certainly we ought to suspect our own judgment, and to lend a willing ear to good advice; but we should guard against seduction, from whatever quarter it may come; and should “prove all things, and hold fast that only which is good.” As to concealing our love to the Gospel, we should not attempt it, or even endure the thought of it for a moment. We should not be afraid of having it known “whose we are, and whom we serve.” We should shine as lights in the world; holding forth, in our lives, as well as with our lips, the word of life:” and should so make “our light to shine before men, that all who behold it may glorify our Father who is in heaven.” It was a matter of public notoriety that the Apostle was “set for the defence of the Gospel:” nor should our devotion to it be unknown by those around us, who have an opportunity of observing our life and conversation.]

3. In our propagation of it to the world—

[This is the duty both of ministers and people; each of whom, in their respective places and stations, should advance the knowledge of it to the utmost of their power. The whole mass of converts, when driven from Jerusalem by the persecution which had consigned Stephen to martyrdom, “went every whore preaching the word.” And, in like manner, all, of every description, though not called to the ministerial office, are, in a less ostensible manner indeed, though scarcely less effectual, to bear testimony to the truth, and to commend the Saviour to all around them — — — To “put our light under a bushel “would be the greatest injustice both to God and man: to God, who has imparted it to us for the good of others; and to man, who can by no other means be guided into the way of peace. To the pious zeal of others we are indebted for all that we know; and, “having freely received, we should freely give.”]


1. Those who have no regard for the Gospel—

[In what a pitiable state are you! and how awfully has “the god of this world blinded your eyes!” — — — Perhaps you think that the opposition which it meets with is a just ground for questioning its real worth. But I should rather say, that that very opposition is a presumptive evidence in its favour; because it has been so opposed from the days of Cain and Abel until now; and because it declares what reception it shall ever meet with from an ungodly world. And may I not add, that the firmness of holy men in its support is a further testimony in its behalf? I know, indeed, that many have died in the defence of error: but where, in the annals of the world, will be found such a frame of mind as that of Stephen, except under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and in attestation to the truth of God? Let not then that Gospel, which has been so esteemed by others, be any longer slighted by you. Be careful, indeed, that you receive the true Gospel: guard against all perversions of the doctrine of Christ: see to it, that, in your view of it, the sinner is laid low, even in the dust, and that the Lord Jesus Christ alone is exalted: and, having once embraced that, let it “be all your salvation, and all your desire.”]

2. Those who, knowing the Gospel, are yet afraid to confess it—

[No sin is more severely reprobated in the Gospel, than the being ashamed of Christ — — — And as none is more fatal, so none is more foolish: for the very persons who hate us for the sake of Christ will honour us more, in their minds, for adhering to our principles, than for renouncing them, or acting unworthy of them. But, supposing it wore not so, what is man’s displeasure, in comparison of God’s; or his favour, when compared with God’s? To all, then, I say, “Fear not man, who, when he has killed the body, hath no more that he can do: but fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him.”]

3. The sincere followers of our Lord—

[If you suffer even unto bonds, care not for it: let your only fear be, lest by any means you should dishonour the Gospel of Christ. Instead of being intimidated by opposition, let it be to you rather an occasion for manifesting your fidelity to Him, whose servant you are: and in proportion as persecution rages, let your courage rise, and your efforts be increased; and, if called to lay down life itself for him, rejoice that you are counted worthy so to do; and have no concern whatever, but that “Christ may be magnified in your body, whether by life or death.”]