Christ is Preached: Exposition of Philippians 1:12-18

According to Acts 16, when Paul and Silas were in Philippi, Paul demonstrated the idea that the cause of Christ was far more important than our personal rights or comfort. He did this by allowing himself and Silas to be imprisoned although he could have prevented it by announcing their Roman citizenship as soon as they were accosted.

But Paul knew if he were going to reach every level of society in Philippi, he could not appear superior to anyone. So he endured the beating and imprisonment and thereby associated with the non-citizens of the city. And he trusted God to work out the details and give him an opportunity to preach Christ, which God did.

Later, when he wrote his epistle to the Christians in Philippi, he revisited that idea of the priority of Christ. And that’s what I want to look at in Philippians 1:12-18.

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12.

Even though Paul had been falsely accused and had endured years of hardship and imprisonment, and was at the moment under house arrest in Rome, he had the same view of circumstances as Joseph in Genesis 50. He knew that although life was chaos, God was still in control and could bring good from the messes we make. He recognized that God was still reaching people regardless of the current circumstances.

“so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ.” Philippians 1:13.

All could see that God was behind what was happening to Paul. What a witness to the power of Christ and the incredible display of hope! If God could take care of this man while he was in prison and even use that to bring others to Him, then God could surely be trusted to take care of my problems and bring good from them, too.

“and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 1:14.

Paul’s example wasn’t that bad things won’t happen, but that God can and will take care of us through the bad times. God doesn’t remove the storms, but He promises to be with us through them. And what He teaches by the experience is worth more than our comfort.

“Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains.” Philippians 1:15-16.

It sounds strange to think that some would actually preach Christ thinking they were going to hurt Paul by doing so. But notice how he said they did it “from selfish ambition.” They were attempting to gain something personal by their actions.

A commentary I consulted suggested these people may have been Judaizers, attempting to make themselves look important by using the message of Christ. They were actually just proclaiming the message rather than truly preaching it, to bring attention to themselves.

Since Paul wasn’t free to speak against them, they thought they could use the opportunity to lower his status by exalting themselves. And his inability to preach would further frustrate him. They viewed the privilege of preaching Christ as a position of power to be coveted and saw themselves in competition with Paul. But he was in competition with no one.

“but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.” Philippians 1:17.

These people saw an opportunity to assist Paul in his mission of spreading Christ. They weren’t exalting him, but were supporting what God had called him to do. We do the same when we give to and volunteer for organizations who are serving God. God may not have given us the same calling, but He gives us the opportunity to help and assist. And in doing so, He may even give us a unique calling. Obedience is always the key.

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” Philippians 1:18.

Paul sums it up nicely. It didn’t matter how Christ was preached or who was doing the preaching. What mattered was that the true gospel was being shared. And Paul knew what God said about His word. “It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11.

Many have asked the question, how much could we accomplish for Christ if we weren’t concerned with who got the credit? Paul understood this, but he asked the better question. How much could Christ accomplish through us if we made Him our priority?

That’s what Paul recognized. That’s how he lived.

May we learn to do the same.


Do you know Jesus? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? According to scripture, all anyone must do is recognize their sin condition, realize that Christ died to pay for that sin, and ask Him to save them from it. Salvation is a gift of grace we receive by faith. Meet Him today! Contact me at kenneth@kennethmbriggs.com if you need more information.


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