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The letter of the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, to the congregation at Philippi is rich with sound council and knowledge.  He touched on many topics in this predominately gentile city.  There was very few Jews residing in Philippi, to the point that there wasn’t even a synagogue there.  Today many of the ancient Philippian structures remain in the city where Paul once taught. Pictured to the left is an ancient Philippian road.  To clearly understand any of Paul’s writings, one must understand the Old Testament, and the meanings of the terms sin, and righteousness.  These are terms that have been twisted to be extremely vague at best, yet a study of the scriptures is very clear and specific as to their meanings.  To recap- Sin means to disobey the law of God/the Commandments:

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” ~ 1 John 3:4

“… I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” ~ Romans 7:7

Righteousness means to walk according to the Commandments of God:

“And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:25

“My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.” ~ Psalm 119:172

“Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law ~ Isaiah 51:7

“And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” ~ Luke 1:6

Now let’s begin to look into the teachings found in the letter to the Philippians.  First, Paul reveals that he wishes that their love may abound “in knowledge” and “in all judgment.”

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” ~ Philippians 1:9-11

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As a soul grows in knowledge of the Old Covenant, the New Covenant and Yeshua- their love for every human soul automatically grows and blossoms.  Love is abound when understanding the breadth of this gift through Christ!  Growing in knowledge comes from prayerful study of the scriptures. At the time of this letter to the Philippians, only the Old Testament was available- along with the eye witness testimony of the Apostles.  Paul goes on to wish that they remain “sincere” and “without offence” till the day of Christ being filled with the “fruits of righteousness which are by Christ”.  Christ walked in perfect obedience to the commands of the Father, and we are now called to follow Him in that obedience out of love for the Father and love for our neighbor.  Remember what righteousness means?  To obey the commands of God!  To remain without offence, means to remain in obedience to the Word and Command of the Father and the Son.  This growth in knowledge echoes Pauls teachings to Timothy:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

We were also warned by the prophets of destruction that comes with “lack of knowledge”:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” ~ Hosea 4:6

Paul goes into more detail in Philippians explaining the clear difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.  Let’s take a look:

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit (New Covenant Reference), and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” ~ Philippians 3:2-9

This passage is a prime passage that has been twisted by many that lack knowledge of the Old and New Covenants.  Under the Old Covenant, the people were found lacking in that they obeyed God’s law only because it was the law.  The law was not found in their hearts, and the people lacked love and mercy for their neighbor- as was pointed out by many of the prophets.  Under the Old Covenant, the people sought righteousness by obedience to the law period, and constantly lacked faith in God.  This was a very cold understanding, and empty “religion.”  Also under the Old Covenant, forgiveness was offered through sacrifices according to the law of Moses, where the Levitical high priest would offer up a sacrifice once a year on the “Day of Atonement” (10th day of the 7th month) in the most holy place of the tabernacle.  Unfortunately, the Israelites lacked love, and only obeyed the imagesCAVFT3FYlaw in an outward fleshly way.  They were circumcised in their flesh, but not circumcised in their hearts.  Under the New Covenant, this would change.  We can find in Jeremiah 31:31, Ezekiel 11:19-21, Ezekiel 36:25-28, and Hebrews 8, a New Covenant where we receive the Holy Spirit and God’s law is written into the heart, and we obey the law from the heart out of faith.  Instead of cold observance, we would eminate the love and mercy of Yeshua along with our obedience to the law.  In other words, under the New Covenant, we obey the law of God not because we are justified by it, and not because it will make us righteous, rather because we love Yahweh, we love Yeshua, we love our neighbor and we have faith in the promise of eternal life and the resurrection of the dead.  The motivation behind obedience to the law has changed.  We become righteous (obedient to the commandments of God) through faith in Yeshua, and we obey because of that faith.  Yeshua in the book of Hebrews is now described as our only “High Priest” that intercedes for those that repent of their disobedience and turn to Him.  Paul in this passage, describes how he was under the Old Covenant, circumcised, obedient to all of the law (not because he loved his neighbor which was evident in his murder of innocent Christians, but because it was law).  He describes himself as blameless under the law, in other words, he obeyed it to the letter.  His final statement describes a New Covenant through Christ where he says “not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”  Understand- Abraham was used in the book of Romans to explain the New Covenant.  Abraham obeyed God by faith, and because of this he received the promise.  Under the New Covenant, we now obey God’s commandments and law- BY FAITH, just as Abraham did, to receive the promise of eternal life.  This is outlined in Romans and Genesis:

“For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:…..He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;” ~ Romans 4:13-14; 20-24

Why did Abraham receive the promise?

“And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” ~ Genesis 26:4-5

Abraham obeyed the law of God because of FAITH in God period.  Not because he could be justified by his obedience, but rather he obeyed because he believed and loved!  The New Covenant is a covenant of promise- where if we obey the commandments and the law of God BY FAITH, we will receive eternal life with Yeshua!  We no longer have confidence that our flesh can save us, or our obedience to the law will save us- we all fall short.  Please note- the law remains intact, and we are called under New Covenant to obey the law from the heart as it is now written in the heart, by faith through the Holy Spirit.  We are called to obey the same law that Yeshua obeyed, through Yeshua.  This is what it means to “follow Yeshua.”  Obedience even unto death.  Please also realize- This topic is “hard to be understood” as Apostle Peter mentioned (2 Peter 3:13-16), but email me if you have questions here.

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Continuing on in Philippians, Paul mentions that there were different “divisions” preaching Christ with different motivations- some out of love, and others out of contention, others out of envy and strive, others out of good will.  He concludes- as long as Christ is preached, he rejoices:

 “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” ~ Philippians 1:14-18

In other words, no man can micromanage God’s work.  Rejoice when Christ is preached.  It appears Christ uses different people in different ways with different methods, and it is hard for us as human beings to understand His methods sometimes.  This goes along with the teaching of Yeshua himself:

“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” ~ Mark 9:38-41

Next comes another text that is misused and misunderstood when taken out of context:

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” ~ Philippians 1:21-23

Many use this verse to teach a doctrine which insists that immediately upon death, we receive eternal life with Yeshua.  An “immortal life” for the soul after death is a widely accepted false teaching today.  This teaching is simply not true, and an examination of the entirety of scripture rules this assumption out.  The text referencing “having a desire to depart and to be with Christ” is taken by many as meaning upon death you go to be with Christ immediately. You can call this a leaping assumption.  When considering the knowledge available in the bible, a large amoung of scriptural doctrine points to true death (ceasing conciousness), until the Day of the Lord when we are resurrected to life again.  This false doctrine of an immortal afterlife is the same lie that Satan told to Eve in the garden- that if she ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge (good and evil) she would be as smart as God and she would never die. 

Many of the scriptural references explaining death can be found on the “Truth About Afterlife” page of this website.  Paul preached the resurrection to life on the Day of the Lord, and to understand exactly what Paul is referencing, one must understand what death means and what the doctrine of resurrection is.  Looking further into the book of the Philippians reveals Paul again touching on the doctrine of the resurrection to life:

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3:10-14

 “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:52

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This “last trump” resurrection can be found in the book of Revelation, on the “Day of the Lord.”  In Philippians, Paul indicates his goal to attain the resurrection of the dead and clearly says “not as though I had already attained.”  Paul realizes that he is still in the flesh, and he has not finished the test.  He knows he is not perfected, and indicates “I count not myself to have apprehended” or achieved the right to this resurrection yet.  He was still running the race.  He presses towards the goal of our faith, the prize of the high calling of God in Yeshua, but acknowledges he has not yet attained it.  This too is contrary to many Christian teachings today that declare a simple “Believe in Jesus Christ and you are instantly saved” another verse taken alone and out of context.  The teaching of the resurrection of the dead comes from Daniel, and Yeshua who both indicated two resurrections- one to life (which comes on the “Day of the Lord”), and one to shame and everlasting contempt/damnation/judgment (which will come after the 1,000 year reign of peace in Revelation):

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” ~ Daniel 12:2

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” ~ John 5:28-29 (Yeshua)

This “awakening” aka the resurrection to life doesn’t come until the “Day of the Lord” when Yeshua returns to take up the worthy dead and the living to meet Him in the air.  To understand what death means- see the “Truth About Afterlife” page of this website- some relevant verses concerning death we will list here below:

But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” Daniel 12:13

For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand.” ~ Acts 2:34

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” ~ Psalm 146:3-4

The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” ~ Psalm 115:17

You can get the jist, and see that death means death.  It is a punishment for sin, and our redemption doesn’t come until the Day of the Lord, the resurrection to life.  I encourage you again to see the full study on “Truth About The AfterLife.”  Paul refers to our new body that we will receive on this day also in Philippians:

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” ~ Philippians 3:20-21

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Paul also teaches in the Philippians an important lesson of the New Covenant- practicing humility and like mindedness, doing nothing for vain glory, and he even uses Yeshua as an example:

 “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” ~ Philippians 2:2-3

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” ~ Philippians 2:5-8

It is a humbling thought to think that “The Word made flesh,” the same Word that brought about all of creation, became as lowly and humble as represented in Yeshua.  Homeless, no earthly belongings, afflicted, persecuted, tortured and killed.  We are to be like minded with Yeshua, even though we know that if we run the race well as Paul did, one day we will attain the goal of eternal life with Him.  Paul also promises the Philippians persecution and instructs them not to fear their enemies:

“And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;” ~ Philippians 1:28-29

Paul gives us a hint into what it means to present a sacrifice before God that is acceptable.  Under the Old Covenant, the people would bring sacrifices to God to be burnt on the altar of the one and only tabernacle/temple in Jerusalem.  Today, there is no earthly tabernacle or earthly altar so the logical question of many is, how can I offer a sacrifice that is pleasing to God?  Let’s take a look at what Paul says:

“Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” ~ Philippians 4:15-18

Paul’s reference to “an odour of sweet smell,” is a reference to the OT sacrifices that were burned sending smoke with an odour of a sweet smell to heaven.  Here you can see that the Philippians had asked Paul, “what can we give to help you, and what can we give to forward the gospel?”  This was counted as a “sacrifice” under the New Covenant that is well pleasing to God.  For those that are seeking to bring a sacrifice before the Father, this presents an example of a New Covenant sacrifice that is pleasing to Him.  Finally, Paul teaches the Philippians to be satisfied and content with whatever they have, whether it is a lot, or a little, or even nothing.  He advises not to “want” things, but to be content, which aligns with the commandment- Thou shalt not covet:

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” ~ Philippians 4:10-13

The letter to the Philippians is rich with teaching in only four chapters, and I highly recommend prayerfully studying this text.  Seek the truth and knowledge that can be found throughout the law and testimony that is provided to us in the Word today!

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