by John Lowe
(2:16) as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run16.2 or labor in vain16.3.
A child of God is in God’s family, but the unregenerate are alienated from Him. They are His enemies. God’s sovereign plan is to use His Word, administered by God’s people, to transform His enemies into His friends by the regenerating work of God’s Spirit.
The Greek word translated “hold firmly” was used in secular Greek when offering wine to a guest at a banquet. “Hold out” may be better here. As the Philippian saints held out (or offered) “the word of life” to others, Paul would then be able to boast (glory) “on the day of Christ”16.4 that he had not labored in vain with them. The “day of Christ”16.1 refers to the Rapture when the Savior returns and meets His own His Church in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and believers will be rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ. This boasting was not a selfish ambition of Paul’s; he was concerned with God’s honor. The apostle is not bragging about his own accomplishments. Rather, he is communicating a passionate concern that the Gospel runs its course in the Philippians’ lives. He understands that professions of faith that do not culminate in living worthy of the Gospel are empty. They leave those who minister the truth like Paul with nothing too present to Christ for His eternal Glory. Living worthy of the Gospel means letting “your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
The purpose of their outward holiness and Christian life of humility, unity, and obedience is to shine the light of Christ into the world (Matthew 5:14-16) as they hold to the truth of the Gospel and present the Gospel to the world in both word and deed—the Gospel alone has the power to bring life to the spiritually dead. Life and light are related. When we hold forth the Word of Life, we are lights in the world. Paul rejoiced when he hears that the Philippian believers are manifesting their faith in good works. The believers were very close to the heart of Paul because they were his converts. Paul calls for their Christian lives to be true for their own sakes and also so that Paul may rejoice and boast in the Philippians. Paul not only wanted to be a benefit to the Philippians, but wanted to reach countless others through them. Paul has worked and labored for this congregation, and he greatly desires at the final day to boast in all that they have become. He does not want all the love he has given to end up being for nothing.
Special notes and Scripture
16.1 Although many expositors identify this phase as the day of the Lord, the context of its usage seems to refer to the blessings upon Christians rather than judgment on the world The system opposed to God. as contemplated in the day of the Lord. It is at this judgment that Christian testimony will be evaluated, and Paul longs to have his own efforts not rated as “in vain” or empty. It also reminds the Philippians that their efforts will be evaluated and rewarded.
16.2 “Run”―to strive to advance; to make progress.
16.3 “Vain”―empty; without content; without result.
16.4 Paul does not mean “on the day of Christ” but rather “with the day of Christ in view.” He foresaw the potential joy of that momentous event.
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