CONDUCT WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL
The last part of Philippians 1 and the first part of Philippians 2 are actually one portion and should not be separated. One thought flows from 1:27 through 2:8. In 1:27 Paul says, "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Gk.). When I read this verse years ago, I thought that conduct worthy of the gospel was behavior that was perfect before those to whom we preach the gospel. But this is not Paul’s meaning here. The remainder of verse 27 says, "That whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one soul striving together for the faith of the gospel." (Gk.). Paul does not speak here of loving our wives, submitting to our husbands, honoring our parents, or behaving in a kind, lovable manner. Rather, he tells us to stand fast in one spirit with one soul. If we are not in one spirit with one soul, then our conduct is not worthy of the gospel. No matter how many of us there may be in a locality or on a campus, in our preaching of the gospel everyone must be fully impressed that we are in one spirit and with one soul. Nothing is more convincing than this. When all the members in the church are in one spirit with one soul, this oneness will be convincing, subduing, and attractive. When we have such a subduing and convincing oneness, we shall experience Christ and enjoy Him. We shall enjoy Christ by being in one spirit with one soul. By preaching the gospel we express our oneness in spirit and in soul. When we preach the gospel in this way, we have the enjoyment of Christ. The more we preach like this, the more we enjoy Christ. We shall be able to say, "We don’t care mainly for how many souls are saved, or for how many people are brought to the Lord. We are enjoying the Lord." We shall be full of enjoyment, and the preaching of the gospel will be a feast. But if we do not sense that we are feasting on Christ as we preach the gospel, something is wrong. We lack the oneness in spirit and in soul. But if we are in one spirit with one soul, the number of people saved through our preaching of the gospel will be secondary. The primary thing is that in the course of our preaching, we shall be feasting on Christ and enjoying Him. We shall have not only experience, but also enjoyment.
Verse 29 says, "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." Although in this verse Paul speaks of suffering, in reality to suffer for the sake of Christ is to enjoy Him. When we suffer for Christ’s sake in the preaching of the gospel, we enjoy Him.
The concept expressed in the last part of chapter one continues in the first part of chapter two. Verse 1 says, "If there be therefore any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions" (Gk.). When Paul spoke of encouragement here, he was speaking of encouragement to himself. He seemed to be saying, "I am suffering a great deal. You have heard of my suffering in prison. I hope that you have some encouragement for me in Christ. I also hope that you have some comfort of love, some fellowship of spirit, and some tender mercies and compassion." Verse 2 continues, "Fulfill ye my joy, that ye think the same thing, having the same love, one in soul, thinking the one thing" (Gk.). In this verse Paul asked the Philippians to make his joy full. This means that their situation should not be one that troubled him. Paul seemed to be saying, "Your situation bothers me. Although you preach the gospel, you are not one. I am suffering in prison for this gospel, but you are not one. Your lack of oneness does not encourage me; it troubles me. It does not comfort me or give me the proper fellowship. You are not showing mercy to me because you are bothering me. Don’t you Philippians believe that you should have some mercy toward me and have some compassion on me? I beg you to fulfill my joy."
Paul was not asking the Philippians to fulfill his joy by sending him more offerings or by endeavoring to do something to secure his release from prison. That would not have been a comfort to him. What would have comforted Paul was that the Philippians would think the same thing, have the same love, be one in soul, and think the one thing. Paul seemed to say, "If you do these things, you will be merciful to me, and you will be an encouragement to me. Such oneness will be a genuine comfort of love to me. But now you are not one. Thus, you are killing me. I beg you to be merciful to me. I am like an old father, and you are like my dear children. Your fighting with one another troubles me very much." This was Paul’s concept in verses 1 and 2.
(The Experience of Christ, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)