Sometimes, I learn that the chapter and verse breaks were simply unfortunate. In today’s reading, I noticed a pattern from Philippians 1:27-2:18. Prior to that section, Paul was talking about his own circumstances and how he was able to find joy despite what was going on his life. After that section, he wrote about the companions he hoped to send to Philippi. It would have been easier to notice this if this section had been a chapter all by itself.
In this section, he has two parallel movements. Notice in Philippians 1:27 his statement about how the Philippians should walk whether he is present or absent. Then in Philippians 2:12, he spoke again about how they should live whether he was present or absent. The first occurrence says they should stand firm, striving side by side for the faith of gospel. Fighting as a team, they should not be frightened by the opponents who will cause them to suffer just as Paul suffered. In the second occurrence, Paul encourages them to obey God and work out their salvation with fear and trembling because they are not alone, God is working with them.
However, the parallels do not stop here. In the first movement, Paul moves from talking about how they should behave whether he is present or absent to say in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit.” In the second movement, he moves from talking about how to live whether he is present or absent to saying in Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or questioning.”
Both sections are talking about our relationships with one another. We need to view each other as more important. Instead of being like those erring brethren in Philippians 1:15-18, who preach out of rivalry with Paul wishing to cause him affliction, we must seek good for each other. We must not grumble and complain against each other. The terms translated “grumbling” and “questioning” often carry the idea of an internal complaint or questioning that is not voiced, but can also refer to private quarrels and complaints. I think the point is twofold. We shouldn’t “go along” with our brethren externally while muttering under our breath against them. At the same time, we must not clump together in secret groups forming up party lines and complaining secretly among ourselves against others.
This entire section is about our relationships with one another. In contrast with the conceited rivals of Paul, we must learn to get along. The “one mind” of Philippians 2:2 is not saying we must have 100% agreement on every detail, but that we must all have Jesus’ mind that puts others first.
We have enemies in the world that will attack and make us suffer. We shouldn’t act like enemies within the body, competing, politicizing, complaining, and grumbling. We must learn to love each other and lift each other up, working out our own salvation while strengthening our brethren to face the struggles Satan will launch our way.
Keep the faith and keep reading,
P.S. What struck you in today’s reading?