Only let your conversation be as it becomes the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent…
I. THE FAITH OF THE GOSPEL. "The faith which was once delivered to the saints," "the truth as it is in Jesus": viz. —
1. The truth about God. His unity and three-fold Personality.
2. About man — his fall and ruin.
3. About redemption — the Incarnation and Atonement of Christ; the acceptance of salvation by faith; regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Ghost.
4. About immortality.
II. THE IMPORT OF THE APOSTLE'S LANGUAGE CONCERNING IT. The Philippians are to strive together for it. The gospel was a precious deposit; they were to hold it fast in opposition to all who would rob them of it; they were to preserve it in its original purity, in opposition to those who sought to adulterate it. But it was not to be a concealed treasure, or appropriated exclusively by themselves, but was to be communicated to their fellow men.
1. All Christians may and must aid in disseminating the faith of the gospel. Some think this the business of ministers. Paul told the "saints" as well as the bishops and deacons to do it. Christians may do this.
(1) By cultivating purity of heart and life and maintaining an exemplary deportment. This method is sanctioned by Christ Himself — "Let your light so shine." Its efficacy may be illustrated by numerous facts. This was the main method of gospel propagation in Apostolic and early Christian times. Gibbon puts the virtues of Christians among his "secondary causes." So today. The greatest enemies of the Cross are inconsistent Christians.
(2) By pecuniary contributions. Many overvalue money; some undervalue it: the truth is, it is a talent to be employed for God. God has given you the power and opportunity to get it. Consecrate it therefore to Him. The proportion must be left to conscience. The poorest should not be discouraged, for God values the widow's mite, when the offering of a willing mind. Let modern Churches take example by the Church at Philippi.
(3) By union and cooperation. The advantages of this are obvious. We see this in business and politics, and in philanthropic and religious societies. Why then should minor differences separate Christians? Divisions are a source of weakness; union is strength.
(4) By humble, importunate, and believing prayer. Old Testament and New alike enjoin this as a means of advancing the faith. Let this be remembered in public, private, and family prayer. It is a means which God delights to honour.
2. In this good work Christians should be zealous. "Striving" as the competitors in the games. Nothing is more offensive to Christ than lukewarmness.
(1) The work needs the most strenuous effort. It has to struggle with the most inveterate and formidable opposition, from the evil heart and from evil systems.
(2) It is worthy of them. It brings glory to God, the highest good to man, and honour to the Redeemer.
(J. Thomson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
WEB: Only let your way of life be worthy of the Good News of Christ, that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your state, that you stand firm in one spirit, with one soul striving for the faith of the Good News;