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Unveil the profound message of Philippians 1:18 in this enlightening article. Explore the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to find joy in the midst of opposition and discover how this timeless wisdom resonates with our modern lives. Gain insights into the transformative power of rejoicing amidst adversity and be inspired to face challenges with a joyful spirit. Join us as we unpack the profound message of Philippians 1:18 and its relevance for believers today.
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. (Philippians 1:18)
Yes, I will also rejoice,
So, how does Paul react to this? He was happy. You see, Paul did not preach out of concern for himself; he brought the message so that others would find the salvation that only comes by grace through faith in the Son of God. He was happy that even if the motives of the proclaimer were wrong, the message was still being spread. The bottom line for Paul was that Christ is proclaimed in every possible way.
It is good to understand that even if the person speaking the truth about Jesus is wrong in themselves, God still honors His Word. It will not go out and return void.
We must never forget that it is not the man speaking who saves a person; salvation is fully of the Lord. We speak God saves. Even if we mess up the presentation of God’s Word to someone, God’s Holy Spirit can still take that and use it to reach the heart and mind of the recipient. We must never be afraid to give a defense of what we hold because it is not our feeble attempts, it is God who works.
Even today, God uses some of the most unlikely people to reach others. We may not agree with their motives or methods, but we must praise God when Christ is proclaimed, and the lost find the Shepherd.
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What then? What happens next after this dissension from some and those who proclaim Christ of love on the other? What impact does it have on the mental stability of Paul? Some preach Christ from envy and rivalry; does this pain the apostle Paul?
Only that in every way. While it matters how the proclaiming of Christ is accomplished, Paul was pleased it was being done at all. Paul did not lack interest or enthusiasm in proclaiming the gospel or the nature in which it was carried out. Paul is trying to convey here that it brought him a measure of joy that it was being done at all, regardless of the reasons.
Whether in pretense or in truth. The pretense here was that some believed the gospel wholeheartedly and loved it. In truth, they were proclaiming Christ from envy and rivalry, out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict him in his imprisonment, trying to weaken the apostolic authority and presence of Paul.
Christ is proclaimed. The Greek verb (καταγγέλλω kataggellō) means to make known throughout, report, tell with conviction, i.e., preach and advocate. (Ac 4:2; 16:17, 21; 17:3; Ro 1:8; 1Co 2:1; 9:14; 11:26; Php 1:17; Col 1:28) Those working in opposition to Paul made known the name of the Savior and proclaimed that the long-awaited Messiah had come. Regardless of their intentions, they made known some truths about Christ. There were likely some distortions within the truths that they proclaimed. However, proclaiming the name of Christ as the Savior is still getting the message out. Some aspects of Christ’s life and what his ransom accomplished were not the full truth, yet while Paul was imprisoned, something was better than nothing. While there were certainly some errors in these dissenters’ message, there was still some truth. Yes, Paul would have rather had his students proclaiming Christ everywhere, who were correctly instructed with accurate knowledge (epignosis), more sensible, with better intentions. However, now Paul was unable to be out there directing things personally. If some get on the path of salvation with these dissenters’ message, it can be cleared up later.
And in this I rejoice. This thinking was generous and altruistic on the part of Paul, which evidenced his life for Christ. Some motives were to cause Paul more afflictions, cause him anxiety at what was being proclaimed, intent on unnerving him, decreasing his influence. Yet, they had to be very surprised that Paul focused on the good, Christ is proclaimed, and not the bad, wolves in sheep’s clothing. If some good was taking place while he was confined, he was willing to have his name dragged through the mud. This should not in any way be taken that when today’s Christian leaders (pastors, authors, teachers, professors) proclaim untruths, errors, unscriptural teachings, we should rejoice. The circumstances are different. And Paul, when out of prison, cleaned up false teachers and false teachings. At that moment, Christianity was spread out across the Roman Empire and was very small. Therefore, to put out fires through letters or personal visits took much time and work. Today, some 2.3 billion persons claim to be Christian, and we have the technology to address dissenters immediately. We have hundreds of thousands of churchgoers who, through apologetics, fight for the truth daily, putting out fires of false teachings. We have thousands of pastors and hundreds of well-trained Christian apologists. Now, this is certainly a David and Goliath situation at the moment with so few in number against such numerous modern day false teachers. Nevertheless, we all remember how the David and Goliath account turned out.
Now, let’s delve into an exegetical study of Philippians 1:18, using the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible, which reads: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”
This opening question by Paul serves as a transitional phrase that invites the reader to consider the implications of the preceding context. The immediate context deals with some people preaching Christ out of envy and rivalry (vs. 15), while others do so out of goodwill (vs. 16). Paul is transitioning from that description to the important point he wants to make.
“Only that in every way,”
The term “only” narrows down the focus to what really matters to Paul. “In every way” is comprehensive, capturing the diversity of motives and methods behind Christ’s proclamation. This indicates Paul’s emphasis on the message over the messenger.
“whether in pretense or in truth,”
This clause contrasts two sets of motives for preaching Christ: “pretense” refers to the ulterior motives that some preachers might have, such as self-gain or causing Paul distress in his imprisonment, while “truth” refers to preaching Christ out of pure, godly motives. Paul summarizes these categories to emphasize that even when the motives are flawed, the proclamation of Christ is what ultimately counts.
“Christ is proclaimed,”
This passive construction puts the focus on the act of proclaiming Christ, rather than on the people doing the proclaiming. For Paul, the most important thing is that the message of Christ is getting out there, reaching ears and potentially transforming lives.
“and in that I rejoice.”
Paul’s joy is not anchored in the circumstances, conditions, or even the purity of motives in those who proclaim Christ. His joy is rooted in the very act that Christ is being proclaimed. Here, “rejoice” is an active verb, indicating an ongoing state. For Paul, this is a continuous source of joy.
So, from a historical-grammatical method of interpretation, Philippians 1:18 highlights Paul’s overarching concern for the proclamation of Christ above all else. Despite the mixed motives behind the proclamation, Paul focuses on the essential point that Christ is being made known, and that alone is a reason for rejoicing.
 Isaiah 55:11 (HCSB)