on Philippians 1 :30
Having the same conflict - When Paul preached the Gospel at Philippi he was grievously persecuted, as we learn from Acts 16:19-40, being stripped, scourged, thrown into prison, even into the dungeon, and his feet made fast in the stocks. This was the conflict they had seen in him; and now they heard that he had been sent prisoner to Rome as an evil doer, and that he was at present in bonds, and shortly to be tried for his life before the Roman emperor to whom he had been obliged to appeal.
1. It was no small encouragement to these persons,
(1.) That whatever sufferings they met with they were supported under them.
(2.) That they suffered in the same cause in which their illustrious apostle was suffering.
(3.) That they suffered, not because they had done any evil, or could be accused of any, but because they believed in the Son of God, who died for them and for all mankind.
(4.) That all these sufferings were sanctified to their eternal good.
2. And God is able to make the same grace abound towards us in like circumstances; it is for this purpose that such consolatory portions are left on record. He who is persecuted or afflicted for Christ's sake, is most eminently honored by his Creator.
on Philippians 1 :30
Having the same conflict - The same agony - ἀγῶνα agōna - the same strife with bitter foes, and the same struggle in the warfare.
Which ye saw in me - When I was in Philippi, opposed by the multitude, and thrown into prison; Acts 16.
And now hear to be in me - In Rome. He was a prisoner there, was surrounded by enemies, and was about to be tried for his life. He says that they ought to rejoice if they were called to pass through the same trials.
In this chapter we have a beautiful illustration of the true spirit of a Christian in circumstances exceedingly trying. The apostle was in a situation where religion would show itself, if there were any in the heart; and where, if there was none, the bad passions of our nature would be developed. He was a prisoner. He had been unjustly accused. He was about to be put on trial for his life, and it was wholly uncertain what the result would be. He was surrounded with enemies, and there were not a few false friends and rivals who took advantage of his imprisonment to diminish his influence and to extend their own. He was, perhaps, about to die; and at any rate, was in such circumstances as to be under a necessity of looking death in the face.
In this situation he exhibited some of the tenderest and purest feelings that ever exist in the heart of man - the genuine fruit of pure religion. He remembered them with affectionate and constant interest in his prayers. He gave thanks for all that God had done for them. Looking upon his own condition, he said that the trials which had happened to him, great as they were, had been overruled to the furtherance of the gospel. The gospel had become known even in the imperial palace. And though it had been preached by some with no good will toward him, and with much error, yet he cherished no hard feeling; he sought for no revenge; he rejoiced that in any way, and from any motives, the great truth had been made known that a Saviour died. Looking forward to the possibility that his trial before the emperor might terminate in his death, he calmly anticipated such a result, and looked at it with composure.
He says that in reference to the great purpose of his life, it would make no difference whether he lived or died, for he was assured that Christ would be honored, whatever was the result. To him personally it would be gain to die; and, as an individual, he longed for the hour when he might be with Christ. This feeling is religion, and this is produced only by the hope of eternal life through the Redeemer. An impenitent sinner never expressed such feelings as these; nor does any other form of religion but Christianity enable a man to look upon death in this manner. It is not often that a man is even willing to die - and then this state of mind is produced, not by the hope of heaven, but by disgust at the world; by disappointed ambition; by painful sickness, when the sufferer feels that any change would be for the better. But Paul had none of these feelings. His desire to depart was not produced by a hatred of life; nor by the greatness of his sufferings; nor by disgust at the world.
It was the noble, elevated, and pure wish to be with Christ - to see him whom he supremely loved, whom he had so long and so faithfully served, and with whom he was to dwell forever. To that world where Christ dwelt be would gladly rise; and the only reason why he could be content to remain here was, that he might be a little longer useful to his fellow human beings. Such is the elevated nature of Christian feeling. But, alas, how few attain to it; and even among Christians, how few are they that can habitually feel and realize that it would be gain for them to die! How few can say with sincerity that they desire to depart and to be with Christ! How rarely does even the Christian reach that state of mind, and gain that view of heaven, that, standing amidst his comforts here, and looking on his family, and friends, and property, he can say from the depths of his soul, that he feels it would be gain for him to go to heaven! Yet such deadness to the world may be produced - as it was in the case of Paul; such deadness to the world should exist in the heart of every sincere Christian. Where it does exist, death loses its terror, and the heir of life can look calmly on the bed where he will lie down to die; can think calmly of the moment when he will give the parting hand to wife and child, and press them to his bosom for the last time, and imprint on them the last kiss; can look peacefully on the spot where he will moulder back to dust, and in view of all can triumphantly say, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."
on Philippians 1 :30
1:30 Having the same kind of conflict with your adversaries, which ye saw in me - When I was with you, Acts 16:12,19, and c.