Philippians 1:9-18

Dr. Steve Viars May 27, 1995 Philippians 1:9-18

- in verses 3-8, Paul thanks them for their fellowship in the gospel
- at the end of verse 7, he had said, I know that I'm not alone
in my defense and confirmation of the gospel (here in
prison) because I have you in my heart -- (because of my
relationship with you)

- then in verse 9, now let me tell you what I'm praying for on your

- I want you to abound in love

- yes, you're doing a lot of things right--but, I want you to
keep growing -- especially in your love.

- now, he makes that very clear and specific in the second half
of verse 9.
- he wants them to abound in love IN KNOWLEDGE AND

- and we said, that’s surprising...especially in the culture in which we

- because often times, discernment of any kind (regardless of how
sweet, well-reasoned, careful, balanced, etc.) is still viewed as

- in other words, the equation would be: being discerning or unloving
in any way automatically equals being UNLOVING.

- the point from verse 9 was – that’s exactly the opposite of what the
Scripture says.
- that’s exactly the opposite of what Paul prays for on behalf of the
this great church.
- yes, they had a lot of things going for them---but if they were
going to move to the next level (of maturity for God), their
love needed to ABOUND in more and more in knowledge and

(read quote from Vance Havner - p. 29 of RBP literature)

- so our discernment must be loving, but our love must be discerning.

- this morning we're going to continue to follow Paul's "train of
thought" and study " "

- read verses 9-11

I. Approve Things That Are Excellent

- each of the versions translates that phrase a little

- William Hendricksen says this phrase is speaking of "the person
who not only has the ability to distinguish but also actually
chooses the things that really matter, in preference to those
that either bad, or of little importance."

- that’s a very important point:

- we're talking about the ability--not just to distinguish
between right and wrong
- but against better and best.

- and thats a process:
- its one thing for our love for God/others to progress to the
point that we can discern between right and wrong.

- its a whole new level of maturity to be able to discern between better
and best...
- to choose things that really matter, instead of things of little

- the overall argument -- "let your love be discerning, so you choose the
things that are best."

- let's work on that one together:

INPUT - What might be true of a person that would cause you to say:
- that person's love is so matured that they are able to
choose things that really matter///over against things
that are of little importance?

- Hypothetical examples:

1) a family deciding if one of the parents should take on an
additional job so they can purchase something they want, but
don't really need.

- the father might argue -- buying this item is being LOVING to
my family.

- but the more they discuss it (using biblical principles), they
conclude that it would be better to do without the item, and
invest the time in their family and ministry.

- "let your love be discerning, so you choose the things
that are best."

2) a person deciding if they should witness to a co-worker

- might conclude; the most loving thing to do is to leave them
alone, after all -- my talking to them might upset them.
- that might sound "loving," but its not
- a person who's love is discerning will know that one of the
most loving things to do for another human being is to
tell them about Jesus Christ.
3) a church trying to decide if they should promote a local
conference on the family (this is completely hypothetical) where
some of the teaching is going to come from an unbiblical
perspective. (many other area churches involved)

- it may appear that the most loving thing is no say nothing
about the problem areas, and just promote the conference
wholeheartedly (cf. "doctrine divides)

- but that is not "discerning love."

- discerning love would speak the truth in a calm, balanced,
systematic way.

- "let your love be discerning, so you choose the things
that are best."

- now, Paul goes on in verse 11 to say:

II. Let Your Love Be Fruitful

- read verse 11

- what we're talking about this morning is part of the "Fruit of the

- INPUT - why is that encouraging?

- He also reminds us that this fruit is "By Jesus Christ."

- cf. 1:6

- cf. 2:12-13

- Phil. 4:13

- on one hand, that’s very encouraging -- the thought that
Jesus Christ is enabling us to put on the fruit of love.

- on the other hand -- its challenging.

- unto the praise and glory of God.

- with all of that, Paul makes an important transition in verse 12 to the
main body of the letter.
- someone might say -- but now he's going to talk about a completely
different subject.

- I don't think that’s true at all.
- instead, all he's said thus far is to prepare them for the
discussion he wants to have with them about his imprisonment, and
what their attitude toward that imprisonment should be.

- READ 12-18

III. Be Thankful For My Trouble

- in verse 12, Paul said; "the things which happened unto me have
fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel."

- of course, that leads to the question:

A. What things?

- INPUT - what's the answer to that?

- at the end of the book of Acts, Paul was under what
appeared to be "house arrest," where he had a lot of
freedom to minister.

- apparently, that status has changed -- in verse 13 he talks
about "his bonds" or "his chains."
- many Bible teachers believe that after the books of Acts
was completed, Paul's condition drastically changed--and
he was under a much more severe kind of imprisonment
and probably facing a pending trial.
- it's important also to note that Paul uses the word "rather" in verse

B. Don't miss the word "rather."

- how strongly this word is translated depends on the version you

- KJV - "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the
things which happened unto me have fallen out RATHER for
the furtherance of the gospel."

- NASB - "Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances
have turned out for the greater progress of the
gospel." (didn't translate the word "mallon")

- NIV - "Now I want to know, brothers, that what has happened to
me has REALLY served to advance the gospel."

- CCNT - "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has
happened to me has served RATHER to advance the good

- In his book How To Handle Trouble, Jay Adams writes: "No sense can be
made of this introductory `rather', unless you presuppose a letter,
or some message, from the Philippians church expressing a viewpoint
to which Paul here, at the very outset, wishes to raise a forceful
objection. `No,' he is saying, `you have it all wrong. What
happened to me served RATHER to advance the good news.'
While we do not know precisely what the Philippian church had
said, we do know that they had looked on Paul's imprisonment (by now
more than four years in all, including both the Palestinian and Roman
stints) as a hindrance to the spread of the gospel. I can almost
hear some of them talking: 'Think of it: the greatest missionary of
all has been shelved! Why? Has God goofed?"
Paul was interested in defending the honor of Christ and the
wisdom of God. That is why, first crack out, he jumps in with all
four feet to assert a contrary view, and he extensively defends it by
describing what God has already done to advance the gospel as the
direct result of his imprisonment. He than mentions the great
opportunity that lies immediately ahead."
- now, that’s how this argument all ties together.

- Paul had prayed for them to have matured, discerning love.
- It was to be the kind of love that "approved the things that were
excellent." (choose the things that were best)

- and now that’s exactly what Paul is doing in the way he is viewing his
- his love is mature -- therefore it is discerning -- and he is
choosing the best avenue of ministry although it is far from the
best avenue (with reference to his personal comfort).

C. The main issue

- for Paul, what was most important was the furtherance of the
- if the name of Jesus Christ was being proclaimed, he was happy,
regardless of the personal sacrifice involved.

1. to everyone at the palace

- the emperor had a "crack military force" called the
Praetorian Guard which consisted of 1600 men.
- Paul could say (with great joy) that each of the men had
heard about Christ as a result of his imprisonment.

- you can just imagine Paul, being chained to different

Guard - "So what are you in here for?"

Paul - "I'm a Christian."

Guard - "So what's a Christian?"

Paul - "I'm glad you asked...."

2. other are becoming bolder

3. some even are preaching out of strife

- main issue - his love for people, the desire to see them

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and four grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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