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Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27)
Paul, in this verse, gives his first major appeal in this letter here. He calls the Philippian believers to realize and discharge their responsibility as citizens of Heaven. The words “manner of life” come from one Greek word (πολιτεύομαι politeuomai), which literally reads – “let your citizenship be.” Here and in chapter 3:20 of this letter, Paul reminds the readers of the fact that they hold citizenship in a higher kingdom. Because Philippi held the privileged status of being a Roman colony, they understood the importance and responsibilities associated with citizenship. Even though we hold certain responsibility to the here and now, our ultimate allegiance must be to the kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, we must be sure to live a life worthy of this important heavenly citizenship.
This lifestyle should be one of unity – one spirit and mind. Paul uses two different terms to help us understand this concept. First, he uses a military term – stand firm – (στήκω stēkō) which denotes firmness and courage. It means to stand up under judgment, to persevere under trial. He quickly follows it up with a term (συναθλέω sunathleō), which basically means to contend alongside of another. This was an athletic picture of a team working together to reach the goal. This was a different word than which he used in verse 15 above. That word used for strife – Greek eris – means contentions, quarrels, and rivalry. This is the picture of unity and cooperation. Therefore, depending on the will of God, whether Paul got to visit with them again, or just get reports back about them, Paul encouraged them to live life as citizens of heaven in unity and firmness of spirit and understanding.
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Only let your manner of life. Again, the Greek word (πολιτεύομαι politeuomai), means to live in accordance with the civic duties of one’s state or body of politic, conduct in one’s life, lead one’s life (Ac 23:1; Php 1:27) In general, the term refers to conduct, and that is the sense used in the New Testament. Specifically, it refers to a person’s conduct according to the laws of a state. Therefore, “let your manner of life [conduct] be worthy of the gospel of Christ,” without misconduct indecency. Christian conduct reflects on the gospel and Christ as the Christian community is also citizens of the superior authorities.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “Let every soul be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God, and those that exist have been placed by God. Therefore, the one setting himself against authority has taken a stand against the ordinance of God; and those who have taken a stand against it will receive judgment against themselves.” (Rom. 13:1-2) Christians need to be obedient to the laws of the state, maintaining the laws, in submission to governing authorities, unless the government asks you to conduct yourselves in a way that is at odds with the Bible. Acts 5:27-29, “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” The principle behind what Paul is saying here is that Christian’s conduct can reflect poorly on the gospel of Christ, so every Christian must be obedient to the Word of God, in all relations in life: in the church, the home, at work, in the community, in the city, the state, and the country in which they live. We are reflecting the gospel to all that hear us and see us. So, the way we speak to others, how we live and carry ourselves, how we deal with others, our conduct, and how we walk with God inside and outside the church. It is all about conduct.
Worthy of the gospel of Christ. The principles of the gospel are to be reflected in all our conduct. This includes things like our conversations, our place of employment, dealings with others, the modesty of our personal appearance, style of living, forms of entertainment. There is a lifestyle that is proper to what the gospel entails. Character reveals itself. Christians should stand out as different in all aspects of their lives. Christians do not put entertainment as the main priority in their life, and they do not focus on honorific titles, chase after wealth as the ultimate objective in life. A group of young Christians influenced by the gospel walking through the mall should stand out in the way they are dressed, their grooming, temperament, the way they talk, and purpose, which would characterize them from the other youths. That is why knowing and understanding the gospels especially and the rest of the New Testament is paramount. How can one apply what they do not know or properly understand? Christians have earnestly covenanted with the Lord to take the gospel as their guide.
So that whether I come and see you. He was alluding to the possibility that he might be released and be permitted to revisit them.
Or am absent. Either still imprisoned in Rome or released and permitted to travel again to other congregations within the Roman Empire.
I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. Paul wants them, regardless of his presence or not, to be united, to be of one mind (lit. one soul, that is, ψυχή psuchē). Additionally, as one, they are enthusiastically striving to share the interests of the gospel.
 Clifton J. Allen, ed., The Broadman Bible Commentary, ed. Clifton J. Allen, Vol. 11 (Nashville, Tenn: Broadman Press, 1971). P. 192. See also, Earl D. Radmacher, ed., The Nelson Study Bible, ed. Earl D. Radmacher (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1997). Note p. 2000.