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Having the same conflict, which you all saw in me, and now hear to be in me. (Philippians 1:30)
The Greek word (ἀγών agōn) that Paul uses is generally used to speak of a contest between athletes. Paul often uses metaphoric statements dealing with believers being soldiers, farmers, or athletes. That is, having the same conflict, discord with angry foes, and the same fight in the warfare.
The Philippian believers were well aware of the fact that Paul was no stranger to suffering. They had seen him flogged and imprisoned in Philippi, they had heard of his many hardships in spreading the gospel. They were now knowledgeable of the fact of his present tribulations. Paul is acknowledging that they too are involved in the same contest that he is – the struggle with the opponents to the truth and message of the Gospel.
In verse 29, Paul made the point that suffering was a privilege for Christ. In this final statement, Paul wants to reinforce their understanding that passive suffering for Christ is not what we are called to. We are called to be actively engaged in the conflict against evil. In 2 Corinthians 10:4, the Apostle had instructed that our weapons for this warfare were not carnal – they were mighty in overturning evil. In essence, conflict is inevitable for believers. If we live up to our citizenship, we will be faced with the contest of Christ vs. this evil world system and the underlying demonic strategies to defeat (unsuccessfully) the work of God.
The suffering we endure because of standing firm in confidence for Christ can be used far more greatly than we imagine. The account is given of Adonirum Judson, a renowned missionary to Burma who endured untold hardships during his seven years of trying to reach the lost for Christ. He suffered hunger, privation, and imprisonment. During 17 months in AVA Prison, he suffered unbelievable treatment. Because of this, he carried scars and marks made by the chains and shackles he endured.
Upon his release from Ava Prison, he asked to be allowed to minister in another region. The godless ruler refused, saying, “My people are not fools enough to listen to anything a missionary might SAY, but I fear they might be impressed by your SCARS and turn to your religion!”
We need to be reminded, as Paul reminded his friends and readers in Philippi, that suffering for the right reasons is a gift from God and is part of our “prize of the calling from above of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:14, UASV.
And now hear to be in me. As we have established, Paul was a prisoner in Rome, surrounded by enemies, and was about to be put on trial for his life. He has told them that they should rejoice if they ever had the same opportunity to suffer through this same trial. In this chapter, we have had a front-row seat of the kind of spirit needed for a Christian suffering steadfastly faithful in extraordinarily trying situations. Paul found himself in a situation where true faith would evidence itself if it were within him. And if there had been none, his being mentally bent toward evil like all imperfect humans (Gen. 6:5; 8:21) and having a treacherous heart that he could not have fully known (Jer. 17:9) would show itself. He was unjustly being accused and now sat imprisoned, awaiting his trial that could lead to his being executed. Enemies of Paul and Christianity were all around, false friends/Christians, who sought this opportunity to use his imprisonment to besmirch his name and to make known their own. Paul sat staring death in the face!
In such a situation as this, Paul showed that his concern was not with himself, but rather the gentlest and purest feelings, evidence of his true faith, was only for the sake of Christ and his fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. He reminisced about them in his heart with loving and relentless interest as he prayed. He thanks God for all that he had done for the Philippians. When contemplating his own dire circumstances, he spoke of his trials as a joyful opportunity, which was to be set aside for the continuance of the gospel. Because of Paul’s trial, the good news of the kingdom even reached the royal palace. And even though his opponents preached the gospel as well, slipping in errors at odds with the real message, he was not revengeful, harboring bad feelings. In fact, he rejoiced that at least the gospel truth that the Savior had died, was resurrected, and ascended was being spread in some fashion during his absence.
We end this first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippian Church. We see that the Purpose of Life is Jesus Christ and is summed up in verse 21 – “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul will now shift our attention to Christ – the pattern of life, in this next chapter.
 Paul Lee Tan, encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations (Rockville, MD: Assurance Publishers, 1979). #6152