Only the Magnifying of Christ Matters


In Philippians 1:12-14, Paul outlined two ways in which his imprisonment had served to advance the gospel. The first way was by providing Paul opportunities to preach the gospel. The second was by making the local church confident in the Lord, so that they boldly and fearlessly preached the gospel.

Paul then moves on to talk in more detail about these emboldened preachers.

And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. (Philippians 1:14-15)

The first thing we see in verse 15 is that Paul has broken 'the brothers' into two distinct groups.

These two groups are both proclaiming the gospel. They have the same message. The difference is that they  do so with different motives. “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others (preach Christ) from good will.”

Let's look at these two groups separately.

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry... [They] proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. (Philippians 1:15-17)

This group should shock us. Paul says they are motivated by envy and rivalry. They were envious of Paul, perhaps because of his gifts, fame and position as an apostle and leader of the church. Rather than being happy that God had given these gifts to Paul and was using him to proclaim Christ, they wanted what Paul had for themselves. This led them to set themselves in opposition to Paul. Instead of seeing themselves as partners in the gospel, they saw themselves as rivals. They wanted to bring him down and exult themselves. They were seeking their own honor and fame. This is not the way Christians should be. This is not the way we should be. In Philippians 2:3-4 Paul says,

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

Rivalry comes from pride and from considering yourself more significant than others.

It gets worse. They aimed at afflicting Paul by their preaching. Paul says, “not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.” Afflicting Paul was their intent; their planned goal. They aimed at causing his distress in his imprisonment.

What about the second group? Why were they preaching the gospel?

…but others [preach Christ] from good will. [They preach Christ] out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. (Philippians 1:15-16)

The second group preached Christ from good will. In other words they sought Paul's good. They were motivated by love for Paul. They knew that Paul was in prison for the defense of the gospel. This knowledge directed the way that they would act in love to Paul. What could make Paul happier than to join him in preaching the gospel? So they preached the gospel.

How did Paul respond to these two groups?

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.  (Philippians 1:18)

Your responses in life often reveal your treasure. Paul's response in this situation shows us that he values Christ above all else. His concern is for one thing alone; that Christ is proclaimed. This is where Paul's  happiness lies. Because of this, even those who sought to cause Paul affliction by preaching Christ, were actually a cause of rejoicing for him. He did not rejoice in their motives. He rejoiced in Christ being preached, despite the motives.“Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” 

Paul's joy is found in something outside of himself. It is not in his gifts, or his ministry, or his fame. It is in Jesus. It is beyond the reach of things like suffering and personal attacks. As long as Christ is proclaimed, Paul can rejoice despite the cost to himself. The same is true for us. Let us seek to have our joy in Jesus too.



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