Paul's prayer for the Philippians

Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

From the verses preceding this one it is obvious that Paul was pleased with the saints at Philippi. They were abounding in knowledge and judgment but he prays that they will still do so more and more. He states two goals for this increase in effort:

Philippians 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

Then he gives the reason for his optimism and confidence:

Philippians 1:11 Being filled (Gk. having been filled) with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The word abound (perisseuo) in v.9 means to excel, to have more than enough. The word is used in Greek literature of a bud that becomes a flower. If the bud does not bloom there is no seed and therefore no increase. If all we have is a sufficiency of anything, we may be reluctant to share lest it becomes a shortage. Generosity flows more easily from having more than enough. Paul prays that their love will overflow ever more and more. This love is agape, the love of God, without which all our good works count for nothing. The love of God could abound in many areas but in this verse it is limited to only two, knowledge and judgment. Rather than being seen as a limitation, it should be looked upon as an area in which Paul would like to see them excel. One reason is given after first encouraging them (vs27,28) :

Philippians 1:29-30 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Paul is preparing them for this conflict but first he must reprove them for their disunity and self interest. He makes no accusations but rather says "Fulfill ye my joy" and make these changes. This is chastisement and it is obvious but it is done in a very loving way. Paul knows the result if they take heed.

Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

It is this fruit of righteousness that will strengthen them when they are confronted by their enemies which are listed in chapter 3.

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

The repeated use of the word 'beware' is the figure of speech anaphora and it brings our attention to each of the subjects mentioned for emphasis. The term 'dogs' is used contemptuously for the Gentiles because of their different idolatrous religions. The evil workers are not more narrowly identified but the evil (Gk. kakos - destructive, pernicious) they work is to destroy and disrupt the church. The concision are Judaizers, Judeans who enforced the belief that Gentiles had to live like Jews, including circumcision, to be Jewish and follow Jesus. They were Paul's thorn in the flesh, constantly accusing him of false teaching. The word used in the Greek text is katatome which strictly applies to Gentiles who mutilate their flesh. In 1Cor 7:19 Paul writes that circumcision (peritome) is nothing and that those Judeans who continue this practice are now lumped together with the dogs. When Paul first came to Philippi there were very few Judeans there, only Lydia is mentioned by name, and there was no synagogue. There was a place outside the city where women prayed and it was here that Paul shared the gospel. There were an unspecified number of men in their church, one being their former jailor, which met with Paul just before he departed. The Judaizers sought to take advantage of new Christians through their lack of knowledge of the scriptures and their zeal to do everything that appeared godly - even if it was wrong. It was to bring to naught the efforts of the dogs, the evil workers and the Judaizers, that Paul prayed for their love of God to abound.

This pair - knowledge and judgment - when grouped together takes on a special significance. The word used here for knowledge is epiginosko and it means 'full knowledge. A very good example of the difference in meanings is given:

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know (ginosko) in part but then shall I know (epiginosko) even as also I am known (epiginosko).

While we are yet in the flesh we cannot hope to attain the full knowledge of God although we strive for it. At the return of Christ when we receive our new bodies we will fully know God even as He already fully knows us. It is not God's will that we have only a cursory knowledge of the scriptures; He wants us to know it all.

Eph 6:17b …the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Hebrews 4:12a For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,

The Word that we know and speak is more powerful than any sword.

The word for judgment is aesthesis and is used only here in the NT. From a form of this word the English word 'aesthetics' is derived meaning that which is pleasing to the senses. It is used this way in the OT but is not limited to things sensuous.

Exodus 28:3 And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom (aesthesis), that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.

This was a spiritual gift to give the craftsman the skill to make garments that were pleasing to the eye and befitting the high priest; to know the different choices he could make and to discern between the good ones and the bad. Looking at the verb form we discover the non-sensuous side.

Luke 9:44-45 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men. 45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived (aisthanomai) it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

They heard it, they knew what Jesus had just told them, they understood the words but they could not discern the true meaning.

Hebrews 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses (aistheterion) exercised to discern both good and evil.

In this context the word means the faculty of the mind for perceiving, judging and understanding the difference between good and bad. So, to abound more and more in all judgment we must use to the fullest the spiritual gift that God has given us (the sound mind in 2Tim 1:7) to discern spiritually, mentally and sensually the good and the bad. This is absolutely necessary for us to 'approve the things that are excellent' for there shall certainly come to us those who offer doctrines that are far from the truth. The word 'approve' means to scrutinize, to test the genuineness, to assay as with precious metals. The word 'excellent' actually means 'differ.' But things that differ from what? The NAB is used here because of its clarity and the note following.

2 Corinthians 11:4 For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough.

"Preaches another Jesus: the danger is specified, and Paul's opponents are identified with the cunning serpent. The battle for minds has to do with the understanding of Jesus, the Spirit, the gospel; the Corinthians have flirted with another understanding than the one that Paul handed on to them as traditional and normative."

Paul says to do this "that ye may be sincere". The basic meaning is pure. Wine that is mixed with water is adulterated and it is no longer pure, like the word of God mixed with error. In its etymological root it means to be tested in the light of day. When our love abounds in knowledge and judgment and we strive to our full potential we will be 'without offence' which means that we will not actively or passively be the cause of another to stumble, to doubt or question our sincerity or the truth of the Word that we have shared with them, from now until the return of Christ.

Paul's confidence in the Philippians is sustained because he knows that they have been filled with the fruits of righteousness. Fruit is a product of growth and growth in our knowledge of the Word increases our exercise of the power that works in us. The fruits of righteousness are the manifestations and effects of the "exceeding great and precious promises" of God.

v.11b which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Righteousness is the state of being in conformity with God's will. We could never achieve this on our own but through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we can be born again and be in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he (God) hath made him (Jesus Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Seeing that we are righteous now, no accusation of unrighteous can be laid on us. We are in Christ and have the righteousness of God. The Devil (Gk. diabolos = the Accuser) will never give up trying to steal the Word from us, to kill our hope, to destroy our believing. But "we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."

1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Whenever the love or the power of God is manifested in our lives, it shows God to be praiseworthy and gives glory to Him.

Here is a partial list of the fruits of righteousness.

James 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

2 Corinthians 9:10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;

Psalm 5:12 For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

Psalm 34:15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Psalm 37:25 I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

Psalm 72:7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

Proverbs 10:3 The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.

Proverbs 10:24 The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.

Proverbs 11:8 The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.

Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.

Proverbs 13:25 The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul: but the belly of the wicked shall want.

Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Isaiah 3:10 Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.

2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Philippians 1:9-11 is a call to all Christians to let the love of God abound in our lives and lead us to study and share the Word of God to the point of excelling in it. We then use the Word in us to excel in discernment - spiritually, mentally and with our senses - to be able to know good and evil, truth and error. Our desire is to live sanctified and be a blessing to others, to manifest the goodness of God and bring praise and glory to Him because of it.

All Writings © Phillip Varady Sr.