Philippians 2:16-20
Phil 2:16 (KJB)
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
Holding forth - Holding fast, hold upon, or retain
Vain - Empty, worthless, or ineffective
Paul continues from verse 15 that we shine as lights in the world because we continue to hold fast to the word of life. This may have a dual meaning, it may mean holding on to the Lord Jesus Christ and holding on to the written word of God. In both instances, Paul is advocating the maturing of the Philippian Christians by holding fast to the Lord Jesus Christ through the written word of God which is the Gospel message. Paul was looking forward to rejoicing with these Philippians on the day the Lord returns but for now he wants to ensure that he has not run in vain, that is, wasted his time on people who have disregarded the Gospel message and have not grown in the faith. He is not doubting their salvation but he wants to make sure they have engaged in the growth process so they will become strong Christians and be strong witnesses to others. It does no good to bring Scripture to Christians who will not grow but choose to remain as spiritual children all their life. One of the most important reasons for growth is so a Christian would not be snared into following a false gospel. With maturity comes the ability to discern between the true and false. Christians who will not read have no advantage over those who cannot read.
Phil 2:17 (KJB)
Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
I be offered - To be poured out like a drink offering
Sacrifice - An offering or a thing sacrificed
Service - Ministry or a public service
In the beginning of this chapter, Paul had written of the self-denial of the Lord Jesus Christ and here Paul is stating to the Philippians that he is willing to be poured out like a drink offering in the service of ministry to them. This shows the full involvement that ministry requires. It is not something which is entered into lightly. Paul rejoiced at the fact that he would be willing to be deeply involved in the life and maturation of the Philippians. His desire was to see them grow and become much stronger in the faith and if it required his life as a living sacrifice to accomplish it, then he was glad to do it. (Rom 12:1 KJV) I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. When we look at the term “living sacrifice” it is almost an oxymoron because a sacrifice was killed and not left alive. As Christians it is our responsibility to be dead while living. We are to be dead to the things of the world and the old life while alive unto God and alive in His service.
Phil 2:18 (KJB)
For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
Paul did not want the Philippians to fell any sorrow at his situation. He was willing and ready to be poured out and he already wrote to them that he would consider that a great gain since he would be with the Lord Jesus Christ. He wanted them to rejoice with him and not to be sorrowful if they heard of his death for the sake of the Gospel. At this time though he was hoping they rejoice with him for the marvelous future and life the Christian will have with Christ for all eternity. (1 Th 4:13 KJV) But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. The world will sorrow because they have no hope but the Christian, being spiritually alive, shall never taste death, as soon as our physical bodies die, we are at home in Heaven with the Lord, more alive than we could ever imagine.
Phil 2:19 (KJB)
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
May be of good comfort - Be of good courage
State - Your account or about you
The Apostle Paul was always concerned about the Christians he was involved with. If he was unable to visit them, he would send a trusted associate to visit them and bring back a report to him. Paul had considered Timothy so close that he called him his son in the faith. (1 Tim 1:2 KJV) Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. He trusted Timothy to give him an unbiased report of the state of the Philippian church.
Phil 2:20 (KJB)
For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
Likeminded - One of like soul, mind, or spirit
Naturally - Genuinely or sincerely
Here Paul gives a testimony of the magnitude of Timothy’s spirit. Paul trusted him to care for the Philippians as he would if he was coming to see them. This is a great testimony of Timothy’s Christian character that he could be trusted to truly perform in the same manner that the Apostle Paul would have. It gets you to do an introspection of our own faithfulness. Would we go the extra mile or would we do the minimum and call it acceptable ministry? Many are willing to hand out tracts but how many are willing to do the follow up?