Notes on Philippians 1:12-20

Philippians 1:12-20
From the introduction, which bears ample witness of the apostle's love in the Spirit to the Philippian saints, of his confidence in them and his earnest desire for them, we enter on the first great topic on which he writes—his own condition at Rome. He felt that it was needful to lay it before them in the light of the Lord, not merely because of their affectionate solicitude, not only again because of evil workers, who would gladly make it a handle against himself and his ministry; but chiefly with the holy and loving end of turning it to their profit and even their establishment in the truth and diligence in the work and singleness of purpose in cleaving to the Lord.
Indeed the apostle had every ground to expect a blessing through that which Satan was perverting to injure souls. It had already issued in good fruit as regarded the work of the gospel; and he looks for just as good fruit as to all that concerned himself either in the present or in the future, whether by life or by death. Such is the confidence and joy of faith. It overcomes the world; it realizes Christ's victory over the enemy. What can man, what can Satan, do with one who is careful about nothing, but in everything gives thanks? What can either avail to disconcert one whose comfort is in God and who interprets all circumstances by His love, with unshaken reliance on His wisdom and goodness?
Such an one was the apostle, who now proceeds to turn for the salvation of the saints at Philippi, so tenderly loved, what the malice of Satan and of his instruments would be sure to catch at greedily as a means of alarming some and stumbling others, as if God, too, cared not for His Church or His servant. It is experience we have unfolded rather than doctrine; it is the rich, and mellow, and mature fruit of the Spirit in the apostle's own heart as he expounds to them the facts of his own daily life according to God. What a privilege to hear! and how sweet to know that it was not written merely nor so much to inform us of him as to conform the saints practically to Christ thereby! Blessedly as the lesson was learned in the bonds that lay upon the Apostle Paul, for our sakes, no doubt, it has been written.
Therefore was the apostle inspired. “But I wish you to know, brethren, that my condition (literally what concerns me) has turned out rather (i.e., rather than otherwise) unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds have become manifest in Christ in the whole Pretorium and to all the rest” (ver. 12, 13). The devil had hoped to merge the apostle in the common crowd of criminals; but God, ever watchful for good, made it plain that His servant was a prisoner for no moral offense, but because of Christ. Thus the enemy's cunning device had ended in a testimony for the Savior, and the gospel penetrated where before it was wholly unknown. His bonds were manifestly in Christ's cause. The grace of Christ was made known, and His servant was vindicated.
But this was not all. For as the apostle tells them further, “Most of the brethren in the Lord, having confidence in my bonds, dare more abundantly to speak the word without fear” (ver. 14). Here was another step in the blessing, and of rich promise too. How unexpected of the enemy! He, however, was on the alert, and if he could not silence the tongues that bore their testimony to the Savior, would not fail to bring in mixed motives and tempt some to an unhallowed spirit and aim, even in a work so holy. It was not undiscerned of the apostle; neither did it disturb in the least his triumphant assurance that all things were working together for good, not only to them that love God but to the advance of the glad tidings of His grace; so that this too he does not hide in sorrow or shame but cheerfully explains. “Some indeed also on account of envy and strife, but some also on account of goodwill, preach the Christ; these indeed out of, love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel; but those out of contention, proclaim the Christ, not purely, supposing to stir up tribulation for my bonds” (ver. 15-17).
The truth is that the apostle was then and there in the happiest enjoyment of that truth, which not so long before he had held before the saints at Rome. He was glorying in tribulations by the way as well as in the hope of God's glory at the end; and not only so, but glorying in God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1, 2, 111Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1‑2)
11And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:11)
). His bonds but proved how entirely the liberty of grace is independent of all that man or Satan can rage against him who stands fast in it and has Him before his heart by whom alone it came and could be given. There was no blindness to the feelings of some whose zeal in no way concealed their malevolent desires; but nothing weakened the spring of his joy in God nor his thankful perception that, whatever man meant, the testimony of grace going out widely and energetically, and Christ was held up and exalted more and more. For it was no question here of doctrine; there is no ground to think that even contentious men did not preach soundly. It was the good God intended that occupied Paul's thoughts, whatever might be in theirs. Hence he breaks forth in that blessed expression of an unselfish, full heart, “What then? Notwithstanding in every way, whether in pretext or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice, yea and will rejoice” (ver. 18). How happy is the simplicity, how deep the wisdom of faith, which thus sees in everything, even where flesh intrudes into the Lord's work, the defeat of Satan. What a present blessing to his soul who, thus delivered from self-confidence on the one hand and from anxiety on the other, sees the sure, steady, onward working of God for the glory of Christ, even as by and by when Christ is displayed in His kingdom, all will be ordered to the glory of God the Father (chap. 2). Hence in the consciousness of the progress of gospel testimony and his own blessing through all that to which his imprisonment had given occasion, the apostle can say, “I know that this will turn to my salvation through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ; according to my earnest expectation, and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but, in all boldness, as always, now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (ver. 19, 20). Imprisoned, he could not separate himself from the mighty conflict which was on foot in the world; he knew victory assured, however hotly the enemy might contest. Salvation here means the final defeat of the enemy, and so it is throughout our epistle, never a past thing as in Eph. 2 and 2 Tim. 1:99Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2 Timothy 1:9), but always future, as in chapters manifestly. In Philippians, as in Hebrews, &c. it is the full deliverance at the close. Both views are true, and each has its own importance.