Tuesday, 27 December 2016
…having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me. Philippians 1:30
The likely construction of Paul’s words is that this completes the thought of verse 27, and thus verses 28 and 29 are parenthetical. If we leave out 28 and 29, it would read –
“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, … 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”
In his words “having the same conflict which you saw in me,” he refers to a conflict which they were aware of, and one which they had personally seen. This then is what is recorded in Acts 16, having occurred at Philippi. After noting this, he continues with “and now hear is in me.” He is showing them that, once again, he is having a conflict. This is the reason for their need to “stand fast” and to continue “striving together.” The ordeals were sure to come, and they were likely to be continuous. This is what they could expect because of their faith in Christ.
The word he uses which is translated as “conflict” is introduced here. It is used by Paul five times, and once in Hebrews. It is the Greek word agon, and it is the source of our word “agony” or to “agonize.” It indicates an arduous conflict and comes from the idea of the athletic contests of ancient Greece. These were so grueling that even the toughest of the competitors were known to weaken and crumble.
Paul’s choice of wording here shows the true nature of what it can mean to be a Christian. He didn’t simply snap his fingers and claim his way out of his trials. Instead, he suffered these agonizing ordeals for the sake of Christ and His gospel message. He notes that those in Philippi were having the same type of conflict as well.
Life application: If we are in dire straits and are facing crushing troubles because we are Christians, we can actually find encouragement from knowing that we were not the first. Further, we can know that we will be saved through them. This is the great value of reading and remembering the words of Scripture. Let us endeavor to keep such things in mind just in case we too face such immense trials. Let us stand fast and strive together with others in our pursuit of Christ.
Lord God, when we face big trials, it is such a comfort to go to Your word and see that our situation is not unique. Your faithful servant David suffered greatly, but You got him through it. Jeremiah was treated shamefully by his own people, but You were there with him. Paul went through countless physical tortures, but he persevered because he knew You were there, saving him each time. Your word shows us that we are not alone in this great struggle of faith, and that You will get us through it, just as You did for them. Thank You for this reassurance. Amen.