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Improbable Joy – Philippians 1:12-18

Jan 21, 2024
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Philippians 1:12-18

Paul is under house arrest as a result of preaching the gospel. He is chained daily to the Imperial Guard, which means he has a captive audience. While he is there, he writes a letter to the church at Philippi. In verse 12, he says, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,” Remember, Paul has lived through a riot, has been shipwrecked, has been in prison, and more. He sees all of this through the lens of the gospel. He has had some really hard times. He has suffered, but He has a bigger perspective about it. Suffering forms us more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

As citizens of the United States, we live in the most prosperous nation in history. As humans, when we suffer, we want to fix it. We either try to fix the ailment itself, or we try to distract ourselves from the reality of what is actually going on. We have all either suffered and come out of it, are in the “hard” of suffering now, or will suffer at some point in our lifetime. It is a part of the reality of living in a fallen world. We must remember that we do not live for this life alone. It won’t always be this way. If we are in Christ, our reality is that we will spend eternity with no suffering!

In verse 13, we see Paul’s perspective of his imprisonment:

  1. “It has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonmet is for Christ.” Imprisonment means “chains”. Paul gets access to the most powerful entity in the world. He knows that through the different guards that he is being chained to, he is influencing about 9000 guards. They were captive to Paul’s message. Paul is also saying to look at the chains, and not his wrist in them. The chain are what is advancing the gospel. They are the opportunity for 2 years.
  2. “And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Some preach Christ from envy and rivalry, while others preach from good will. In both instances, the content is ok. For the former, the motive is bad. They are jealous of Paul coming to town. But whatever the motive, Christ is being preached, and in that, Paul rejoices.

Remember, God is able to work all things together for good. Life is not perfect and rosy. There is pain and suffering. We must choose to dwell on the gospel of Jesus instead of dwelling on the bad.


  1. Where is there suffering in your life right now? Are you able to see the big picture in that journey yet? Remember, we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death”. It isn’t permanent.
  2. Do you find yourself telling others, “everything is great” when it’s not? Who do you trust to be honest and speak the hard truth that you are walking through? Can you focus on God’s faithfulness during those conversations?
  3. Are you part of “most of the brothers” that share the gospel? Why don’t you share more often?
  4. Pray for those brothers and sisters that are experiencing persecution around the world. Pray that through their lives, and the death of some, that the gospel would advance for God’s glory.