Monday, 5 December 2016
For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:8
Paul now makes a solemn adjuration concerning his love for those in Philippi by stating, “For God is my witness.” He says this, or the same general idea at least four more times in his other epistles using the same word, martus. It is apparent that he is following in the admonition of the Lord not to swear by anything in heaven or on earth.
Rather, if one is to vow, swear, or make an oath, they are to do it in the name of the Lord alone, or with the general use of the word “God.” In other words, it is not true that we are not to make such oaths as some Christians have incorrectly concluded. Rather, when we make oaths, they are to be made on nothing less than God. To do so would be idolatry because it would elevate that thing to His level.
His oath before God says, “…how greatly I long for you.” It seems like this is something that would not require an oath at all. However, the content of the surrounding verses explains the oath. He has told them of his knowledge of their faith, and the great promises which pertain to that faith. He will next speak of his desire for them to mature in the faith. So they are fully aware that his words concerning these promises are true, and thus the importance of their continued growth in the Lord is necessary, he makes this vow concerning how he longs for them “with the affection of Jesus Christ.”
This phrase is a remarkable one indeed. First, the word translated as “affection” is splagchnon. It refers to the upper visceral organs – the heart, liver, and lungs. Thus it is a metaphor for the one’s capability to feel and express deep emotions. Paul claims this affection not of himself, but of Jesus Christ. In other words, it is well expressed by his words of Galatians 2:20, “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” His connection to Christ was so close and personal that his feelings were those of Christ, and thus they were expressions of Christ who dwelt in him.
Life application: How close are you to the One who redeemed you? Is He the first thought of your moment to moment existence? Or does He only come to mind when you need something? We are admonished to pursue Christ, to be filled with His Spirit, and to fix our eyes and thoughts on Him. If we don’t have the emotional and spiritual connection to Christ that Paul writes about, we have more maturity of ahead of us. Let us pursue it!
Glorious, marvelous heavenly Father, where am I lacking in my faith and in my daily walk with You? Help each of us to ask this with a sincere heart, and then to purposefully look for opportunities to become people of greater faith. Help us also to become more like Christ, reading the word, applying it to our lives, and being transformed into His glorious image – from glory to glory! May we radiantly shine forth His majesty more and more each day. Amen.