Philippians 2:19-24

As we saw last month, the splendid portrayal of the mind of Christ in Philippians 2:1-11 was reflected in Paul's attitude of concern for the interests of others (2:17-18). Now in the remaining portion of Philippians 2, Paul mentions two of his coworkers, Timothy and Epaphroditus, who also exemplify the Christlike attitude of submission and servanthood.

As soon as he knew the outcome of his trial, Paul was planning to send Timothy to Philippi so that he could get an updated report on their situation:

But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; and I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall be coming shortly (2: 19-24).

Because he was concerned for the welfare of the Philippian church, Paul was willing to send his most valued associate to follow up his appeal for a spirit of unity among the believers in that city. "I hope in the Lord Jesus" reveals the apostle's submissiveness and dependence upon the Lord in all his plans. He hoped to be acquitted, but acknowledged that the outcome of his trial was in God's hands.

Paul uses a rare word that literally means "of like soul" to describe the kindred spirit Timothy shares with him. Timothy colabored with Paul in founding the church in Philippi and had a natural concern for the welfare of this body of believers. In other contexts, the word translated "be concerned" in 2:20 can mean "be anxious" as it does in 4:6, where Paul exhorts his readers to "be anxious for nothing." This epistle tells us not to be anxious about our own interests, but commends Timothy for being concerned about the interests of others. The person who possesses the mind of Christ shares the burdens and concerns of others. Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 12:25 that "there should be no division in the body, but the members should have the same care for one another" aptly sums up the spirit of his epistle to the Philippians.

It is difficult to be sure of what Paul meant when he wrote, "for they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus" (2:21). It could mean that no one else was willing to undertake the journey to Philippi or that no one he might have sent to Philippi possessed the mind of Christ to the degree that Timothy did. Alternatively, it could be a general comment about the selfishness and self seeking in the world around him and the rarity of people like Timothy who exhibit the spirit of a true servant. It has been observed that believers live either in Philippians 1:21 or in Philippians 2:21. Those who embrace the truth of 1:21 (For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain") share the apostle's desire to find true profit in seeking the profit of others (see 1 Cor. 10:33).

Timothy, Paul's child in the faith, had proven himself to be a valued and trustworthy laborer in the furtherance of the gospel, having been personally taught and tested by Paul. Because he was "faithful with a few things," he was eventually put "in charge of many things" as Paul's successor and entered into the joy of Christ his Master (Matt. 25:21). Both men were "bond-servants of Christ Jesus (1:1) who Himself took "the form of a bond-servant" (2:7) and came among His own "as the one who serves" (Luke 22:27).


Christian Apologetics: Four Systems

New York University Ph.D. dissertation. An analysis of four Christian apologetic systems: rationalism, evidentialism, presuppositionalism, and subjectivism. Concludes with the strengths and weaknesses of each of these approaches to the defense of the faith. 553 pages.