Speaker: Jerry Cisar
The Philippian church had supported Paul’s gospel advancing ministry from the first day they had heard him. Though that support fell off for a time, it had recently been renewed. His imprisonment no doubt concerned them, and many may have thought that the advance of the gospel itself was threatened, if not stopped. One commentator notes: “Some… may have regarded Paul’s imprisonment as invalidating his ministry, or at least as rendering him passe.”
Paul declares that despite appearances, the Gospel is growing and advancing. They likely expected to hear a Paul who was downcast, or at least focused on himself and his own needs and pains. Instead they find a Paul who is joyful. As Karl Barth commented on this: “To the question of how it is with him, an apostle must react with information as to how it is with the Gospel.” That is exactly what Paul does.
How do we find Paul? Joyful. Why is Paul joyful? Because the Gospel is advancing in three specific ways because of his imprisonment: 1) The Gospel is reaching the heart of the Empire; 2) Many others have begun preaching Christ; and 3)Paul knows how God works in salvation!