Metropolitan United Methodist Church, Indian Head, MD
Leaning but living
September 20, 2020

Leaning but living

September 20, 2020

Phil 1:21-30

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[a] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

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Paul writes Philippians to express his thanks for the gift the church has sent him while he is in jail (probably in Rome, possibly in Ephesus) and to encourage the church to stand united against the opposition of non-Christians and the doctrinal deviations of so-called Christians. 1:21–30 touches on both these basic concerns. The former part of the text (vv. 21–26) concludes Paul’s opening sketch of his circumstances, while the latter part (vv. 27–30) inaugurates, and neatly summarizes, the exhortations of the letter.

After the salutation (vv. 1–2), Paul adds his typical section of thanksgiving for the Philippians (vv. 3–11). He hints at the gift the Philippians have sent him by thanking them for their “share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (v. 7). In verses 12–18a Paul elaborates on these matters. He is especially concerned to help the Philippians discern the providence of God in his arrest and imprisonment. For these circumstances have given Paul himself the opportunity to make Christ known to his guards and has emboldened other believers to preach Christ more openly than before. In verse 18b he turns his attention more directly to his personal prospects. He is confident that God will deliver him from his present confinement. But his greatest hope is that Christ will continue to be exalted through him, whether he lives or dies (v. 20).[1]

Point 1 

Notes from Point 1

Point 2 

Notes from Point 2

Point 3

Notes from Point 3


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  1. Douglas Moo, “Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A,” in The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday’s Texts, Volume Two, ed. Roger E. Van Harn (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), 347–348.


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