Philippians 4:11-15
Phil 4:11 (KJB)
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Of want - poverty or lacking
Content - Satisfied
The Apostle Paul is not trying to tell these Philippians that he has a need right now nor is he trying to cajole them into another financial gift. That type of con job is reserved for the TV preachers, especially the late night ones. Paul is basically stating that Christ is his sufficiency and because of that Paul had learned that no matter what his social or physical condition was, Christ was his under girding strength in every situation. Paul had a made a commitment to serve the Lord Jesus Christ no matter what the circumstances would be. In ministry, there are times of plenty and there are times of famine and in each case, the Lord Jesus Christ remains the stabilizing one in all situations. (Psa 37:25 KJV) I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. David understood this principle well because of all the problems he had in his life, especially with Saul, Absalom, and Amnon. All during the times he was on the run from Saul, the Lord had protected him and provided for him. God never forsakes His own, even when times get tough, the provision of God will always come through.
Phil 4:12 (KJB)
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Abased - Make low or humbled
Abound - To have an abundance or have more than needed
I am instructed - Initiate into or to learn a secret
Paul expresses the idea from verse 11 and this verse stating that he has learned the secret of being sufficient in times when there was lack of material goods. In the ancient days of Greece the Stoics spoke about being self-sufficient and being independent of external circumstances. Paul used the word behind ďI am instructedĒ to show that his sufficiency was in Christ and nor himself. This is why Paul could be sufficient in ministry in the leanest of times. (2 Cor 3:5 KJV) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Paul wrote that very principle to the Corinthians in his second letter which would have been written about 5-7 years before Philippians. During those years, the Apostle Paul had faced much opposition and also had some very fruitful times in his ministry. He always believed that the Lord Jesus Christ was his sufficiency and not an abundance of goods. Too many believe that abundance of goods makes them sufficient and therefore never realize that it is God who gives them the abundance but when their abundance wanes, then the reality of who they trust comes out.
Did you ever hear ministries begging for money in constant desperation? It may be that the Lord is trying to get them to realize that it is not their ministry but the Lordís and He will fund it according to His plan. How many times do we hear that ministries want to reach the entire world? It is a good thing to want to reach the whole world for the Lord, but maybe the Lord wants certain ministries focusing on certain areas of the world, instead of the whole world. Ministry focus must be done according to the Lordís guidance and plan. This may be why many ministries are starving because they are going outside the plan of the Lord. When the Lord told us to go into all the world and reach them for the gospel, that command was to the whole body of Christ and not to one person or ministry. This is why He gave us the principle of the human body that each part is different yet has a strategic function. We know the hand is important and the foot is important and the ear is important and the eye is important, but each one has a strategic function. This is why God gave different gifts in the body of Christ, not so we all do the same thing, but we tend to accomplish the goal of evangelism from different methods with different focus. If we would realize this, then when lean times come we can have the same confidence Paul had that the Lordís ministry will be taken care of by the Lord in His timing and in His way.
Phil 4:13 (KJB)
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Strengtheneth - Empowering
Here is the summary of what Paul had been speaking about in the previous verses. No matter what the circumstances are, it is Christ who gives us the strength to endure. Whatever ministry God has me do, I can be assured that the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who will strengthen me. This verse should never be misapplied to believe that now we can go around healing people, raising the dead, or attempting to do outrageous miracles. This verse speaks specifically of the fact that whatever God commissions us to do in this life, He will under gird us with strength to accomplish the task. Just as the Lord empowered Paul in his ministry, He will empower us in the ministry He has chosen for us.
Phil 4:14 (KJB)
Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
That ye did communicate - Have fellowship in
Affliction - Tribulation
Paul did not want the Philippians to think that he did not appreciate the fact that they had helped him considerably but he wanted them to know that the help he received from them was ordained of the Lord and the Philippians had become part of Paulís ministry. God works through His people and He still does that today. Whenever you help a ministry, you are sharing in the ministry. The absolute truth is there is no such thing on earth as a self-sufficient ministry as God uses the body of Christ to help each other. The hand helps the eye and the ear helps the foot, etc. While Paul was in prison, he wanted them to know how much he appreciated the help that they sent and their prayers for him.
Phil 4:15 (KJB)
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
Paul wants them to know that they have been faithful to him from the beginning of his ministry to them. Philippi was located in Macedonia and here Paul is commending them that even when he left them, they were willing to continue their support of his ministry. Paul may have visited other churches in Macedonia but it was the Philippian church that became his greatest supporter. From this verse, it seems that they were also his sole supporter. The Philippians had also kept an account of what was received and what was sent for Paulís ministry maybe they did this as good stewards of the Lordís money or they may have remembered what happened to Ananias and Sapphira concerning the Lordís money and honesty in ministry. It was more likely the first scenario that they were being good stewards of the Lordís money. It is never wrong to keep good records, in fact, it is wise.