Philippians 1:27-30 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. In verse 27a (printed below), what does the apostle Paul exhort the Philippian Christians to do?

Live your life only in a way that is worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that if I come and see you—or if I remain absent what I will hear about you is that you are standing firm in one spirit, and with one soul are contending for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27)

The apostle exhorts the Philippian Christians, and all Christians, “Live your life only in a way that is worthy of the gospel of Christ.” The word translated by the phrase “live your life” had the literal meaning, “to carry out the public duties incumbent on a man because of his citizenship.” In the ancient Roman world, with his citizenship there came certain civic duties a man was obligated to perform. As citizens of the kingdom of heaven (Philippians 3:20) and members of the church of Christ, we have spiritual duties and obligations to perform.

2. In the event that he is unable to visit them, what report does Paul desire to hear about the Christians in Philippi? See Philippians 1:27b (printed above under question #1)

Christ’s desire, as expressed through the apostle Paul, is that Christians “stand firm;” that we stand our ground for Christ and His gospel like soldiers in the face of battle; that there be no retreat or compromise of the gospel before the pressures of the world. Christians are called to stand together “in one spirit;” as fellow believers, we are to have one common overarching purpose: to preserve and promote the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (note 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and Acts 4:12). The apostle furthermore exhorts the church to “contend for the faith of the gospel.”

3. What further exhortation does the apostle give the church in verse 28a (printed below?) What is the difference between intimidation and fear?

…what I will hear about you is that you are standing firm…(28) and that you are in no way being intimidated by those who oppose you. Your firm stand is a clear indication of their condemnation, but of your salvation. Indeed, this is from God (Philippians 1:28)

The apostle Paul goes on to urge the church not to be intimidated by those who are opposing them. The word Paul uses here, translated “frightened” in the NIV, is better rendered, “to be intimidated” or “to be terrorized.” Intimidation is fear that results in flight, surrendering to the enemy’s will and betraying the cause of Christ. We must remember that the source of faithfulness in the face of pressure to betray the Lord Jesus is nothing other than the power of the Holy Spirit (note Acts 4:29,31).

4. The apostle Paul tells us that steadfast allegiance to Christ in the face of opposition is a clear indication of what two things? See Philippians 1:28b (printed above under question #3)

Steadfast allegiance to Christ and His gospel, especially in the face of hostile opposition, is described as being “a clear indication of their condemnation, but of your salvation.” What Paul means is that steadfast Christian courage in the face of opposition becomes a divinely granted evidence of two things: that the adversaries of the gospel are opposing the unconquerable Christ, and therefore are doomed to come to ruin and final judgment; and, that the committed Christian belongs to the unconquerable Christ, and therefore will participate in His final triumph. This is not necessarily a sign that is recognized and acknowledged by the adversaries; but rather it is a sign or evidence that is given by God to the Christian.

5. How should Christians view the opposition and suffering they encounter? See Philippians 1:29-30 (printed below)

…it has been graciously granted to you, for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him. (30) You are experiencing the same opposition that you saw happening to me and now hear is happening to me. (Philippians 1:29-30)

In verses 29-30 the apostle informs the church that the intense opposition and suffering they were presently encountering was a unique privilege granted to them for the sake of Christ. The Philippian Christians were experiencing a unique degree of suffering; the apostle defines such suffering as being a unique privilege. With this unique privilege of suffering for Christ’s sake comes a unique blessing; namely, the blessing of being given the divine evidence of assurance that you truly belong to the victorious Christ and participate in His victory.