2. Paul's personal situation, 1:12-26

i] Paul describes his difficulties


It may well seem to the Philippian believers that Paul's imprisonment in Rome has severely blunted the work of the gospel. At this point in his letter, Paul sets out to reassure his readers that is not the case. Many of the praetorian guard are now in contact with the gospel, v13, and local believers are encouraged and are redoubling their efforts to communicate the gospel without fear, v14. Sadly, there is some opposition to Paul within the local Christian community, v15-18b. Paul has always had his opponents, and it seems some of these are present in Rome, yet even here there is a positive outcome. They may be witnessing the gospel out of impure motives, but none-the-less, "Christ is preached."


i] Context: See 1:1-11. In Romans and 2 Corinthians Paul, gives a short account of his present circumstances, although this is toward the end of the letters. Here in Philippians 1:12-26, Paul gives a detailed account of his circumstances before commencing the letter / speech proper. It probably serves as an encouragement to the Philippians, assuring them that things are not as bad as they may seem from a distance.


ii] Background: See 1:1-11.


iii] Structure: Paul's description of his personal situation:

The advance of the gospel, despite Paul's imprisonment, v12-14;

The advance of the gospel, despite opposition, v15-18b.


iv] Interpretation:

This passage evidences a particular focus on the communication of the gospel. On the one hand, from his cell Paul is communicating the gospel ("the kingdom of God is at hand"), the message of God's grace toward humanity in Christ. On the other hand, the local believers are communicating it with renewed vigor, encouraged by Paul's situation, and even Paul's opponents are communicating it.

Paul tells the Philippian believers that his opponents are communicating the gospel, not out of pure motives, but inevitably to accentuate his sufferings - "supposing that they will add weight to my chains." They may be preaching the gospel, but their end-purpose is a form of Christianity which Paul rejects. So, their evangelizing is probably not increasing Paul's physical suffering, but his psychological suffering, the knowledge that those who follow their lead will be led to damnation. For the Who, see "Background", 1:1-11.

Text - 1:12

Paul describes his difficulties: i] The gospel is proclaimed despite Paul's imprisonment, v12-14. The opening statement "now I want you to know" is used elsewhere in Paul's letters to indicate a new section, or more particularly here, the body of the letter, cf. 2Cor.1:8 and Gal.1:11. "Some may have intended to curtail his ministry with chains, but, in fact, his imprisonment has led both to the evangelization of pagans and to the edification of believers (leading in turn to even greater evangelism)", Silva.

de "now" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, here the body of the letter.

ginwskein (ginwskw) pres. inf. "to know" - [i want you] to know [brothers]. The infinitive is best classified as complementary, but following a cognitive verb / desiring, it could be classified as introducing a dependent statement of perception.

oJti "that" - Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul want's known. "I want you to know, brothers, contrary to all that might be expected, what has happened ....", Barclay

ta "[what]" - the things [concerning me have come even more into a progress of the gospel]. The article serves as a nominalizer turning the prepositional phrase, "concerning me", into a substantive, subject of the verb "has come."

kat (kata) + acc. "-" - concerning. Expressing reference / respect; "that the things with respect to me."

mallon adv. "actually" - Here with an elative / intensive sense, "has really served", ESV, rather than comparative.

elhluqen (ercomai) perf. "served" - have come. The perfect expresses a state of affairs. Divine action may be implied by the impersonal nature of this verb. "Turned out to the advance of the gospel", Phillips.

eiV "to" - Here serving to express purpose / end view, or better result; "what has happened has resulted in the progress of the gospel", Barclay.

tou euaggeliou (on) gen. "[advance] the gospel" - [progress, advance] of the gospel. The genitive can be treated as adjectival, limiting by describing or specifying "the progress" in mind, but it is usually taken as verbal, objective; "what has happened to me has helped to spread the good news", CEV.


Paul's imprisonment has resulted in many of the pretorian guard / cohorts stationed in Rome, numbering some 9,000 men, and serving officials in Rome, coming to know of the circumstances and reasons for his incarceration. "I want to report to you, friends, that my imprisonment here has had the opposite of its intended effect. Instead of being squelched, the Message has actually prospered. All the soldiers here, everyone else too, found out that I'm in jail because of this Messiah. That piqued their curiosity, and now they've learned all about him", Peterson.

wJste + inf. "as a result [it has become]" - so that [the bonds of me in christ to have become manifest]. This construction, wJste + the infinitive genesqai, "to have become", serves to form a consecutive clause expressing result; "what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel so that it has become known .....", ESV.

en + dat. "throughout" - in [all the praetorium and all the rest]. Local, expressing sphere, "the sphere in which Paul's witness has been effective", O'Brien. The preposition applies to the datives "the praetorium" and "the rest / remaining", such that both groups are somehow linked. Paul's standing as a believer is now manifest to the pretorian guard in Rome and all the other prison officials.

mou gen. pro. "that I am" - [that the chains] of me. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

touV desmouV (oV) "in chains" - the chains. Accusative subject of the infinitive "to have become."

en + dat. "for [Christ]" - in [christ]. Here expressing cause / reason / ground; "because of Christ" = due to his being a believer. Bruce still thinks a locative sense / incorporative union is present, "his life in Christ .... sharing in the sufferings of Christ", so also O'Brien, so giving the sense "my bonds have become manifest-in-Christ", "become known / come to light in Christ."


It seems that Paul's imprisonment has become a talking point in Rome and this has given the Christian community the confidence to explain the gospel to their pagan neighbors. "The chains which have resulted in Christ's becoming known among his captors, have also served as the immediate cause of newfound boldness among the brothers and sisters in Rome", Fee.

kai "and " - and. Adjunctive; "and also, or consecutive,and as a result, most of the brethren ......... are even more so to dare ..." The construction wJste + inf. is picked up again from v13, here with the infinitive tolman, "to dare"

toiV desmoiV (oV) dat. "because of my chains" - [most of the brothers in the lord having become confident] to the chains [of me]. The dative is adverbial, reference, "with respect to my bonds", or causal, "because of my bonds", or instrumental, "by means of my bonds."

pleionaV adj. "most" - Accusative subject of the infinitive "to dare."

twn adelfqn (oV) gen. "of the brothers and sisters" - of the brothers. The genitive is adjectival, partitive. Many translations, as NIV, do not link the following Gk. en kuriw/, "in the Lord", with "the brothers", but with the participle "having become confident." A local en expressing incorporative union is very strong in the NT, but "in the Lord" can also be an identifier of association, virtually adjectival, so "brothers in the Lord" = "Christian brothers", Moule, so Bruce. "Fellow Christians", NEB.

pepoiqontaV (peiqw) perf. part. "have become confident" - having become confident, persuaded. The participle is best treated as adjectival, attributive, limiting "Christian brothers"; "who have been encouraged by my bonds." "Most of the Lord's followers have become brave and are fearlessly telling the message", CEV.

perissoterwV adv. "[dare] all the more" - are more readily [to dare]. Comparative adverb modifying the infinitive "to dare."

lalein (lalew) pres. inf. "to proclaim" - to speak [the word fearlessly]. Variant "to speak the word of God fearlessly", NEB, but probably not original. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to dare." At a stretch it could be classified as introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what is dared, namely, "to communicate the gospel fearlessly." "Boldly proclaiming the word of God", Phillips.


ii] The advance of the gospel despite opposition to Paul, v15-18b. These opponents of Paul are not easily identified. They are obviously believers, not unbelieving Jews. Some have suggested that they are leaders in the church who have grown accustomed to the perks of their office and feel somewhat threatened by Paul's circumstances, his Christ-like suffering. Yet, it is more than likely that they are Paul's old enemy, the members of the circumcision party, law-bound nomists. That Paul doesn't mention their heretical teachings here is not a sound argument for proposing that they are not heretical, only anti-pauline. See "Background" 1:1-11.

In comparing his friends and enemies, v15-17, Paul uses a chiastic structure:

envy and rivalry



selfish ambition

kai ... kai "it is true that" - and. At least the first, if not both of these conjunctions, exhibit "emphatic force", Silva; "indeed". "Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry", ESV.

men ..... de "...... but .." - on the one hand, [some proclaim christ and = indeed because of envy and strive], but on the other hand, [some and = indeed because of good intention]. Adversative comparative construction.

tineV pro. "some" - "Certain" of the "most of the brothers" = "some of the brothers."

khrussousin (khrussw) pres. "preach [Christ]" - The word is commonly used in the NT of preaching the gospel. The accusative "Christ" is most likely an accusative of respect; "some preach the gospel concerning / about Christ."

dia + acc. "out of [...... others] out of" - because of. Expressing cause, "because of", or basis, "from the motives of envy and rivalry", NAB. "Some .... proclaim Christ in a jealous and quarrelsome spirit", REB; such a description could well apply to the judaizers / members of the circumcision party.

eudokian (a) "goodwill" - Referring to the others who witness / preach Christ out of the right motive; "the right intention", JB.


"Brotherly love" is the driving motivation of those who preach the gospel about Jesus Christ out of "goodwill" for Paul.

men ..... de "the latter ....... the former ...." - [ones = these] on the one hand [out of love knowing that i am appointed for a defense of the gospel](v17) but on the other hand [those other ones ....]. Adversative comparative construction covering v16-17.

oiJ "-" - the ones. Used instead of a 3rd. pers. pl. pronoun.

ex (ek) + gen. "do so out of [love]" - from [love]. Expressing source origin; "out of love for me", Phillips = a pure motive.

eidoteV (eidon) perf. part. "knowing" - The participle is adverbial, best taken as causal; "because they know ...", TEV.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what is known.

keimai (keimai) pres. "I am put here" - i am placed, laid down, set, recline / valid for, appointed, chosen. The first meaning, "I am put here in prison" is followed by most translations, but the figurative meaning, "to be appointed or destined for something", BDAG, is adopted by some, "God has given me the work of defending the gospel", TEV. Either way, the agent is presumably God.

eiV + acc. "for" - [i am placed here] to/for [a defense]. The preposition here expresses purpose. The apologian, "defense", apologetic, in mind is unclear. Bruce suggests that this proving that the gospel is right is the opportunity Paul will soon have to explain the gospel before Caesar's tribunal. "Paul's goal was not a defense of himself to protect his life, but a defense of the gospel of Christ", Hanson.

tou euaggeliou (on) gen. "of the gospel" - The genitive is usually treated as verbal, objective, but at a stretch it could be taken as adjectival, attributed, "gospel defense."


"Partisan spirit" is the driving motivation of those who preach the gospel about Jesus Christ out of "rivalry" against Paul; they are seemingly happy to rub salt into his wounds.

oiJ de "the former" - but on the other hand, these other ones. The apodosis of the adversative comparative construction; see men ... de, v16.

ton Criston (oV) acc. "[preach] Christ" - Accusative of reference / respect; "others proclaim the gospel about Christ."

ex (ek) + gen. "out of" - Expressing source / origin.

epiqeiaV (a) "selfish ambition" - rivalry [not purely]. The word is used of purchasing favor, or promotion, by gifts, so gaining an official position to use for ones own selfish ends: "self seeking"; "selfish ambition", ESV; "from mixed motives", NEB; "jealous of us", CEV. To help with meaning Paul adds ouc aJgnwV, "not purely / sincerely" This qualification helps us understand what Paul means by epiqeiaV; "they preach in a partisan spirit", Phillips. As already indicated, it is likely that they are nomist believers. They preach the cross of Christ, grace through faith, but the problem lies with the little extra they tack on to the cross. They argue that the full appropriation of the promised blessings of the covenant requires submission to the Law, ie., FAITH = RIGHTEOUSNESS + WORKS = BLESSINGS (life). . It's a bit like the old Billy Graham gospel tract which had an illustration of the cross serving like a bridge over the valley of hell, so allowing humanity to pass from the world to heaven. The little extra is that necessary added on piece that supposedly enables the cross to reach the other side of the valley. Of course, over the years Christians have thought up many necessary extras like law-obedience, eg., confirmation, believer's baptism, Spirit baptism, Sabbath worship, the sacraments, ......

oiomenoi (oiomai) pres. mid. part. "supposing" - The participle is adverbial, best treated as causal, "because they think, intend, hope, imagine, consider ....... that ....."

egeirein (egeirw) pres. inf. "that they can stir up" - to raise up. The infinitive introduces a dependent statement of perception expressing what they intend.

qliyin (iV ewV) "trouble" - trouble, distress, affliction = pressure. Here with the sense "cause me to suffer more", TH. It is hard to imagine how, or even why, believers would purposely try to increase a person's physical suffering, irrespective of how much they may dislike the person, or disagree with their theological position. So, surely the suffering is psychological, possibly something like Peterson's paraphrase below. O'Brien is inclined to a more physical suffering driven by the motive of envy, so taking the view "that through their preaching they will stir up trouble for Paul as a prisoner."

toiV desmoiV (oV) dat. "while [I am] in chains" - in the bonds, chains [of me]. At a structural level, we have a dative of indirect object; "intending to add pressure to my chains. With both "chains" and "trouble" taken figuratively we end up with something like "they see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better - they think - for them", Peterson. The NIV has taken the dative as adverbial, temporal. It could also be instrumental, expressing means, "to make use of my imprisonment to stir up fresh trouble", NEB mg. The genitive mou, "my", is of course possessive.

v18a, b

Whatever the motive of friend and foe, the gospel is preached and Paul rejoices. The twin statements of joy are quite forceful and have prompted difficulties with paragraph division. Lightfoot sees them as a twin expression which "reflects the conflict in the Apostle's mind: he crushes the feeling of personal annoyance, which rises up at the thought of this unscrupulous antagonism." Yet, it seems likely that the first statement of joy serves as a concluding thought leading on to a new matter which also gives Paul cause to rejoice.

ti gar "but what does it matter?" - what for? The conjunction gar is more transitional here than cause / reason, drifting toward inferential, "therefore". The interrogative pronoun + gar is elliptical (omission of words) and as O'Brien notes, serves as "a separate exclamation and question", the sense being "what does it matter?", "what are we to think?" "What then shall I say about my troubles?" Silva.

plhn oJti "the important thing is that" - only that. Together plhn, used here as an adversative conjunction + oJti, serve to introduce a dependent statement of perception in response to a mused rhetorical question; "what is my considered opinion about all this? Only that ...."

tropw/ (oV) dat. "in [every] way" - Adverbial, expressing manner.

eite .... eite "weather .... or" - either .... or. A disjunctive coordinative construction.

profasei (iV ewV) dat. "from false motives" - [weather] in pretense [or in truth]. Meaning an ostensible reason = a pretext. As with alhqeia/, the dative is adverbial, expressing manner, "falsely" and "truthfully." Both words identify motives, not the content of what is preached. So JB, "dishonest motives" and the TEV "right motives."

kataggelletai (kataggellw) pres. mid./pas. "[Christ] is preached" - [christ] is announced, declared, preached, communicated. "All that matters is that people are telling about Christ", CEV.

en + dat. "because of [this]" - [and] in [this]. The preposition here expresses cause / reason, "because of this", as NIV. O'Brien notes that toutw/, "this", is neuter, so "because of this fact I rejoice."

cairw (cairw) pres. "I rejoice" - The present tense being durative / imperfective may give the meaning "I continue to rejoice."


Philippians Introduction

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