Main point summary
Advancing the Gospel through the suffering of the saints.
Γινώσκειν δὲ ὑμᾶς βούλομαι, ἀδελφοί, ὅτι τὰ κατʼ ἐμὲ μᾶλλον εἰς προκοπὴν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου ἐλήλυθεν,
I want you to know, brothers, 1 that what has happened to me has really x served to advance the gospel,
ὥστε τοὺς δεσμούς μου φανεροὺς ἐν Χριστῷ γενέσθαι ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ πραιτωρίῳ καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν,
so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard 1 and y to all the rest that z my imprisonment is for Christ.
καὶ τοὺς πλείονας τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἐν κυρίῳ πεποιθότας τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου περισσοτέρως τολμᾶν ἀφόβως τὸν λόγον λαλεῖν.
And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment,
are much more bold a to speak the word 1 without fear.
τινὲς μὲν καὶ διὰ φθόνον καὶ ἔριν, τινὲς δὲ καὶ διʼ εὐδοκίαν τὸν Χριστὸν κηρύσσουσιν•
b Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry,
but others from good will.
οἱ μὲν ἐξ ἀγάπης, εἰδότες ὅτι εἰς ἀπολογίαν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου κεῖμαι,
The latter do it out of love, c knowing that I am put here for d the defense of the gospel.
οἱ δὲ ἐξ ἐριθείας τὸν Χριστὸν καταγγέλλουσιν, οὐχ ἁγνῶς, οἰόμενοι θλῖψιν ἐγείρειν τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου.
The former proclaim Christ e out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.
πλὴν ὅτι παντὶ τρόπῳ, εἴτε προφάσει εἴτε ἀληθείᾳ, Χριστὸς καταγγέλλεται,
Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed,
καὶ ἐν τούτῳ χαίρω. Ἀλλὰ καὶ χαρήσομαι,
and in that I rejoice . Yes, and I will rejoice,
Through apparent defeat, God is accomplishing his purposes. This would be important for the Philippians to hear! Their father in the faith is in chains, bound to Roman guards. He is in prison, perhaps soon to lose his life. It doesn't seem like the gospel will march on. Instead, quite opposite of what Jesus had said, seems to be coming true. That is, the gates of hell have indeed prevailed. And yet, Paul assures his friends and fellow-partners, that despite the way things look, the good news marches on and the purposes of God come to pass.
This whole section is chiastic. It begins with those who are preaching from impure motives (-), moves those who are preaching from pure motives (+), speaks of them again (+) before closing with another reference to the impure preachers (-). The idea, Christ is proclaimed by both. And that gives Paul reason to rejoice.
Here is another reason for joy! Paul's friends and partners in the gospel have caused Paul a great deal of joy. Here, Paul finds joy in the continued preaching of the good news. In some sense, it doesn't matter to him who is doing the preaching. He simply rejoices that people are hearing the good news of Jesus. His main purpose in life is that Jesus would be honored, whether in life or death. So here, he is thrilled that Jesus is being proclaimed.
Paul’s Central Concern (1:15–18a) The Advance of the Gospel for the Glory of God Why do I say that the advance of the gospel was Paul’s central concern? Notice what he writes, “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (1:15–18a). Here is Paul, suffering in prison, but the gospel is being proclaimed. Sure, there are some who preach “from envy and rivalry…thinking to afflict” Paul. Their motives are less than pure. Regardless, these aren’t false teachers. They are preaching the gospel. Then, there are those who are preaching “from good will…out of love.” And they are preaching the good news. So, both groups are preaching the gospel . They have the same message, though their motives are different. Paul could complain about those who are seeking his harm. He could be upset that they seem to be drawing people away from him. But he isn’t concerned about any of those things. Instead, his central concern is the gospel. Therefore, he rejoices that the message is going forward. Paul could complain about his circumstances. He could complain about his chains. He could complain about his enemies. He could plead with his friends to come to his aid. But he doesn’t do any of that. He simply rejoices that “Christ is proclaimed.” That’s the central concern of his life. Paul had no greater concern than to see the gospel run and flourish. But you say, “wait a minute . I thought the central concern of Paul’s life was God’s glory? Isn’t that the reason God created the world (ala Jonathan Edwards)?” Yes, you’re right. The ultimate reason the world exists, the ultimate reason the gospel exists, the ultimate reason that Paul is proclaiming the good news, even willing to suffer for the it, is so that God would receive the glory, honor, and praise. Saying the gospel is the central to Paul’s life doesn’t mean that he wasn’t aiming at God’s glory. In the end, the gospel is the news that saves sinners. It’s the news through which God builds his church. It’s the message that calls people from every tribe and tongue to bow their knees to him. And when people bow their knees to Jesus, when God builds his church, he gets the glory. In other words, to put the gospel at the center is to place God’s glory at the center. Because it is through the good news of Jesus that God is winning those who would sing his praises forever . Therefore, I’m arguing that we should be a gospel-centered church. That means that in all our efforts, whether it is setting up chairs, or fellowship over a meal, or singing songs, or spending time together at the lake … we are aiming to see the gospel advance.