Text: Philippians 1:12–14
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard] and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear (Phil 1:12–14 NIV).
THEME: Why Trials or Chains?
HOMILETICAL IDEA: Our steadfastness in the face of trials helps others to maintain steadfastness in their Christian walks in the time of trials.
I. THE IMPARTS OF PAUL’S CHAINS:
A. The gospel is preached courageously (verse 14)
1. 1 Cor 16:13–14
2. 1 John 4:18
3. James 1:2–4
B. The gospel is preached fearlessly (verse 14)
1. Eph 6:19–20
2. Rom 5:1–4
3. 2 Tim 4:7
What lifestyle will you live to advance this gospel after this message?
What will you do to make this gospel to be believed by others after you leave
Historical-Cultural/ Geographical Context
Before 359 BC, Philippi was known as the Krenides, meaning “The Little Fountains.” In 359 BC, it was annexed by Philip II, the Father of Alexander the Great and renamed after him. Alexander made Philippi a great urban center of the east. The Greek language at the time was spread through Philip and Alexander. Philippi, one of its six provinces was governed by Rome in 146 BC. In 42 BC, the battle took place between Brutus and Cassius, the defenders of the Roman republic, and Antony and Octavian (later Augustus) in order to avenge Caesar’s death. At the end of the battle of Philippi, Brutus and Cassius were dead and Antony and Octavian victorious; as the result, Philippi was made a Roman colony. In 31 BC, Antony was defeated by Octavian, who became Caesar Augustus and many of Antony’s Roman soldiers lost their land claims in Rome and were resettled in Philippi. Philippi is located 10 miles northwest of Neopolis, the present day Kavalla at the heart of the Greek tobacco industry, the renowned gold mining region. Philip annexed the region of Macedonia and supported his conquest from the gold produced around Philippi. After 31 BC, Philippi became a Roman colony with all its privileges. The population was predominantly Roman citizen and was given the rights of the citizens of Rome. Citizenship of Rome entails being exempted from flogging, paying taxes, and the right to appeal to Caesar. Philippi was full of military presence though it was a renowned gold mining region. The ability to avoid paying taxes to Caesar made the Philippian church to support other churches in Thessalonica, Athenia, and Corinth. Paul and Silas, along with Timothy, desired to go and to preach the gospel in Asia and Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit stopped them and gave them a vision of a man of Macedonia calling for help; as the result, they went to Philippi in obedience to the voice of the God.
Paul wrote the book of Philippians to give thanks to the Philippians for the loving gift to him, to guide the Philippians in dependence upon Jesus and their understanding of who he is, to fill their vision with joy and happiness, and to encourage them with good news concerning Epaphroditus’ return that has been quite ill as Paul sent him home.
I. PAUL’S CHAINS EXPLAINED:
CHAINS FOR CHRIST
Chain for Christ indicates the cost of following Christ. It means a bond, imprisonment, a string or ligament, an impediment, or infirmity. In Greek, it is called desmos meaning a band or bond. Christians are bond slaves for Christ; therefore, persecution is inevitable because it is part of our calling. Why chains in the Christian life mean? Chains for Christ in the Christian life help advance the gospel. Paul experienced dramatically this chain in prison; however, he found this unpleasant happening as an opportunity to stand for the truth in order to advance the gospel message to other parts of the world. By his example, others who knew his ministry were encouraged to stand for the truth courageously and fearlessly.
II. THE IMPARTS OF PAUL’S CHAINS:
The Gospel Preached Courageously (Verse 14)
The Christian life is characterized by cross bearing. This means leaving all to serve Christ Jesus. The all involve one’s life, material possession, self-denial, and total surrender to God through total obedient lifestyle. By human nature, no one wants to face persecution or to forfeit the above mentioned categorized experiences; however, the Christian life is predestined to undergo or to face crisis. Apostle Paul is cognizant of this fact; therefore, he is prepared to face this reality. His courageous stand to face the chains courageously made others to preach the gospel courageously. Paul understood his mission; therefore, he was prepared to pay the price for what he has been called to be and to do. How many of us are willing to pay the price or suffer for preaching Gospel? We are called to preach the gospel that brings salvation to the souls of mankind. The gospel is the good news of the coming of the Messiah referred in Greek as euaggelion. We are called to preach this glad tiding without precondition. This Gospel is preached and exemplified by the lives we live before this generation. The stands we take for the cost of this Gospel through suffering make others to believe the gospel and therefore emulate our examples. Paul’s obedience to suffer for the gospel made others to follow his example in suffering for the same. This doctrine on the teaching of suffering for Christ is not being welcomed by many believers today; therefore, many compromise thereby subjecting Christ to public disgrace making Christianity appears to have no positive effect on those whose consciences are weak. Apostle Paul admonished the Corinthians (1 Cor 10:23) concerning the permission to do anything; unfortunately, the things we do through compromise are not beneficiary to our spiritual well-being; therefore, Christians are admonished to spiritually analyze and evaluate practices before getting involved. Your rejection of ungodly practices and your stand to preach against such is the testimonial proclamation of the Gospel message to this generation. Our Lord Jesus admonished us in Matthew 5:16 that we should allow our light to shine before men; therefore, they will be able to see our good works and glorify our heavenly Father who is in heaven. We are called to bear the chains that advance the Gospel. The trials, mockery, rejection, persecution, self-denial, hunger, hardship, tribulation, and death faced by Christians in other parts of the world and among others are chains. Every Christian is anticipated to bear chains that come in various fashions. Can you identify the chain you bear today? If you are not bearing any chain today; then, you need to examine your Christianity to see whether you stand for the truth of the gospel. Anyone who follows Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. Persecution is the test of true Christianity in the Christian life.
Confident In The Lord
The effect of Paul’s chains for Christ emotionally appealed to the brethren at Philippi to develop confident in the Lord. Confidence in Greek is peitho meaning to persuade, to urge, or to have confidence. It is an emotional appeal to the audience the Gospel is preached to. In order to persuade our audience to listen to us when we preach, we must live the lifestyle; therefore, our ethos is important to make our listener listen to us when we preach. How many of us are living for God in total obedience? Our obedience before God determines our Christian ethics. Ethically, there are things forbidden for Christians to be involved. Such forbidden things are called sin in general. I want you to take a retrospect and introspect of your life now. Which areas of your spiritual life are struggling with? Are you living a good life model for others to follow your example as the brethren in Philippi were persuaded to follow Apostle Paul? What part of your Christian life is persuading others to follow Christ? What activities are you involved on the daily that do bring glory to God instead of disgrace? As you leave today after this message, I want you to answer these questions. Be example of Paul who surrendered himself totally to God through ethos and peithos to advance the gospel of Christ.
The Gospel Preached Fearlessly (Verse 14)
The chains of Apostle Paul did not only advance the Gospel courageously, additionally, his chains made others to preach the gospel fearlessly. In Greek, aphobós is defined as without fear. It is associated with fearlessly, shamelessly, securely, and tranquility proclamation of the Gospel. This boldness is peaceful, confidential, and full of faith. This fearless preaching trusts and depends on God without precondition. This fearless preaching is the one that causes one to die for his or her faith. After Paul’s chains, the people at Philippi were moved to preach the Gospel even if they were scheduled for execution. How many of us are willing to die for the Gospel we preach today?
The belief systems one holds is imparted by what one does on the daily basis. In today’s world, we hear about political battles being fought on behalf of others because one who is engrossed with such feelings feels that such strata in society have been inhumanly treated or segregated against. We hear about the Civil Rights Movement in United States in the 60’s and among others. The proponents of such movement felt that certain human responsibility concerning justice or fair play was being ignored; therefore, they stepped out to preach against injustice and inhuman or cruel treatment of humanity based on colors. The convictions they had made them stand for the truth in society that they formed part of. Some faced the chains of beating and even death because they preached against the ugliness in society. Missionaries sent oversea faced persecution and deaths because of the Gospel message preached by them in these areas and these messages are forbidden as the result of the belief systems not based on Christianity; nevertheless, these missionaries preached despite of being under threat by the authorities in these areas like the Middle East countries where Islam is considered the state religions and any other religions like Christianity is an enemy to the state. How many of you are ready to face the chains of persecution, hardship, abandonment, and death for preaching the Gospel message? If the proponents of the Civil Rights Movement in United States in the 60’s were ready to die for the cost of their conviction, how many of us today are willing to die for the preaching of the Gospel message? Today, we will look at Apostle Paul’s chains that helped advanced this Gospel today.
What do you believe and stand for today that brings glory to God and cannot be altered by anyone or the devil?
In your Christian walk with Christ, what time in your life have you resisted temptation or suffer for Christ that made others to believe God and live this Christian life?