Pearls from Philippians - Chapter 2
Paul’s epistle to the Philippians—what a beautiful epistle it is! In our last study together, we highlighted Chapter 1, as we are in a four-part study, devoting one study to each of the four chapters in this book. Of course, by doing that, we may only highlight this great epistle; we cannot examine every rich verse of scripture in it in detail. We might say that we can only extract some of the “Pearls from Philippians.” Oh, and what pearls they are!
In our last study together from Chapter 1, we talked about the fact that Paul expressed, first of all, in verse 6 of that chapter, a desire for them to finish their course as Christians: “being confident of this very thing,” he wrote, “that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” And we pointed out that in verses 9 through 11, Paul gave them the inspired ingredients for finishing the course; he said, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” What are those ingredients mentioned in those powerful verses? Prayer, love, knowledge, discernment, sincerity, being without offence, and being filled with the fruits of righteousness—all of these are inspired ingredients that will allow any Christian in any age to fulfill his course, to finish his work, to be faithful unto death. Oh, there is much more that might be said about this first chapter of this great epistle. We encourage you to read and re-read it. It is a most uplifting, a most encouraging epistle. Now, let us examine the “Pearls from Philippians” in Chapter 2 of this great epistle.
The apostle Paul begins Chapter 2 of the epistle to the Philippians, writing,
“If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.”
Oh, those first eight verses are “Pearls from Philippians,” indeed! Paul said, “If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ”—he was not expressing doubt; the word “If” carries the sense of the word “Since”—“Since there is...exhortation”—in other words, there is exhortation in Christ. Paul did not doubt there is exhortation in Christ, “consolation of love,” “fellowship of the Spirit,” “tender mercies and compassions.” He did not doubt it. The word “If” does not express a doubt.
But what these qualities do depict are motives for unity. In the verses we have just read, Paul called upon the brethren at Philippi, these Christians, to be united. Unity is an important thing, and I am sure that there are a great many in the world today—in the religious world, who would desire unity, who would like to see unity achieved religiously; for, we are anything but united in the religious world now. Yet, we must understand, first of all, motives for unity, but we also must see the basis for unity.
That basis must be the basis the Bible gives, not what man may think, but what God says about the basis for unity. But, look, first of all, at the motives for unity the apostle gives in verse one —“exhortation in Christ...consolation of love...fellowship of the Spirit...tender mercies and compassions.” Since these things exist, he uses them as motives for unity; because of these things, “make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.”
What we have here are attitudes and actions resulting in unity. You see, unity may be achieved if, indeed, we desire to be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. If it is our desire to do nothing through strife or vainglory—for selfish reasons, that is—but if, indeed, to manifest lowliness of mind and heart, if we esteem others better than ourselves, looking not only on our own things, but also on the things of others, then, indeed, we have the proper attitude for achieving unity. We may lay aside prejudices and achieve unity on the biblical basis, if, indeed, our attitudes are those Paul described right here in these great verses.
And the final culminating appeal for unity is seen in verse 5: “Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” That sums it up, doesn’t it? In other words, Paul said, Let each of you have the mind or attitude of Christ. Truly, if we do, then it would be far more feasible to achieve the unity we may desire, but perhaps are not willing to achieve it on the biblical basis, the proper basis.
In the Ephesian letter, the apostle Paul, in Chapter 4, talked about the fact “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.” That statement was made immediately after he wrote, “giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Then the basis of that unity is seen in that platform—that is, one body, one spiritual body, the church; one Spirit, who reveals God’s mind or will to us; one hope; one Lord; one faith, one system of faith by which we must be saved. Man today gives any number of ways by which we may be saved, but the basis for unity as God would have us achieve it is one faith, one system of faith; one baptism, a burial in water for the forgiveness of sins, as the New Testament teaches; there is one God, one Father. You know, we will admit to the fact that there is one God, one Lord; but how many will lay aside their prejudices and have the attitude of mind that Paul called upon us to have in this Philippian letter, the mind of Christ—how many will adopt that attitude, that mind, that spirit, and agree that there is but one baptism, one body—that is, one spiritual body?
You see, when the attitudes are right, as Paul called upon us to manifest those attitudes under consideration in Philippians, then we may turn to God’s platform for unity, as it is set forth in Ephesians 4, and throughout the New Testament, really; and we may achieve that unity. But we must, indeed, lay aside prejudices, we must consider others better than ourselves, we must lay aside all selfish motives, and we must seek and desire unity from the proper motive and achieve it on the proper basis, the only basis upon which it may be achieved—that is, God’s basis, revealed to us through the New Testament, the Last Will and Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
How important is unity? It is vitally important. It is one of the last things Jesus prayed for while on this earth: “I do not pray for these alone,” he said, speaking of the apostles, “but also for those who will believe in me through their word; That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that You sent me.”
Oh, yes, unity is important; but it may not be achieved on the basis of agreeing to disagree, or compromise in any way. It must be achieved on the basis of all of us being willing to be motivated properly to achieve it, to have the attitude that will be conducive to it, and seeking that unity on the basis that God has given us—being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, being of one mind: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”—“Pearls from Philippians” that are, indeed, rare and rich!
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