The Furtherance of the Gospel Phil. 1: 12-20 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
The things that happened to Paul, particularly his imprisonment, were for the furtherance of the gospel. Preaching the gospel was Paul’s principle concern. His persecutors thought once he was in prison, the gospel couldn’t continue to spread by his preaching. They were wrong. Ex 1:12 shows us that the more the Jews were afflicted the more they multiplied. Likewise, Paul’s imprisonment resulted in the furtherance of the gospel. The preaching of the gospel was furthered by:
Paul himself – Phil 1:13 – even when he was locked up, his preaching went forth [2 Tim 4:16-17]. Everyone who heard him in prison, or heard him at his trial [Phil 4:22] or through others who heard him, heard the gospel. According to Phile 10, Onesimus was saved when he met Paul in prison. In Acts 28:30-31 Paul was in his own house during part of his arrest and many heard the gospel there. Festus, Felix, Agrippa, prisoners who sailed with him, and the barbarous people on Melita heard him.
Other brethren – Phil 1:14 – Paul’s imprisonment emboldened them to action. They got worked up because Paul was imprisoned. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. They were able to preach without fear.
His enemies – Phil 1:15-18 – his enemies contended with him in their preaching, but they had to mention Christ when they talked against him. When you see the things that are wrong, it makes the things that are right clearer [1 Cor 11:19]. When it comes to the gospel, God even allows men who don’t agree with his doctrine to preach. Paul basically said, “You have to talk about Christ if you are going to talk against me.”
His friends – Phil 1:15-18 – these men were preaching in truth, in goodwill and in sincerity. His friends basically said, “We have to carry on where Paul left off.” This is how what God stared through 12 men ended up reaching the world.
His response to this furtherance of the gospel was:
Joy – Phil 1:18 – Paul didn’t care how the job was getting done, he just rejoiced that it was getting done and souls were getting saved [1 Thes 2:19; Lk 15:7, 10]. So, he didn’t get sad when they locked him up.
Salvation – Phil 1:19 – this is not talking about his soul being saved [see 1 Tim 2:15]. This is talking about saving his ministry, despite the fact that he disobeyed the Holy Spirit when he went to Jerusalem.
Expectation – Phil 1:20 – Paul’s hope was that Christ would be magnified in his body. Paul saw that martyrdom could magnify Christ, perhaps even more than he could have magnified him through life. Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”