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What does it mean to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27)? The expression is striking. It is also adverbial—that is, it describes the manner of our conduct, not us. Paul does not say that we ourselves are worthy of the Gospel, for that would be a contradiction in terms: the Gospel, by definition, is good news to people who are not worthy of it. But once we have received the Gospel, however unworthy we may be, we are to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of it.
The way Christians are to do this (Philippians 1:27–30) is by standing firm together (“in one spirit,” Phil. 1:27), “contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose [them]” (Phil. 1:27–28). People who have benefited from the Gospel are certainly not conducting themselves in a way worthy of the Gospel if they are ashamed of it (Rom. 1:16). Of course, in a time when the surrounding culture ridicules Christians or even persecutes them, it takes courage to stand together in bold and transparent witness to the power of the Gospel. But there, too, another element of what it means to conduct oneself in a manner worthy of the Gospel comes into play. “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him” (Phil. 1:29).
What a remarkable notion! Paul does not say that these Christians have been called to suffer as well as to believe, but that it has been granted to them to suffer as well as to believe—as if both suffering for Christ and believing in Christ were blessed privileges that have been graciously granted. That, of course, is precisely what he means. We often think of faith as a gracious gift of God (Eph. 2:8–9), but suffering?
Yet that is what Paul says. On reflection, it is easy to see why. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that in God’s good purposes Jesus suffered on our behalf, bearing our guilt and shame and atoning for our sin. Surely it should be no surprise, then, that conduct that is worthy of such a Gospel includes suffering for Jesus. In fact, that theme is part of what makes this paragraph transitional. For on the one hand, it looks back to the example of the apostle Paul (Phil. 1:12–26). He ends the paragraph by referring to his own “struggle” (Phil. 1:30), of which his Philippian readers have just read—a “struggle” so severe he was not certain he would survive. And on the other hand, the chapter ahead is one of the most powerful New Testament descriptions of Jesus’ humiliation and death. We are to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of that kind of good news.
John 17 is constantly cited in ecumenical circles. Jesus prays for “those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you . . . to let the world know that you sent me” (17:20–23). The implication is that by supporting the ecumenical movement wholeheartedly one is bringing to pass the fulfillment of Jesus’s prayer.
It is an important prayer. But note what else he prays for in this chapter:
(1) Jesus prays that God will protect his first disciples from “the evil one,” especially now that he himself is being removed from the scene (17:11, 15). Perhaps he is especially thinking of the terrible blows to their faith as their Master is crucified and buried.
(2) Jesus prays that his disciples will be sanctified by the truth — understanding well that God’s word is truth, and that the very purpose of his own sanctification (i.e., he “sanctifies” himself — sets himself apart for his Father’s holy purposes — by obeying his Father and going to the cross) is that they may be sanctified (17:17–18).
(3) Jesus prays that both this first disciples and those who will ultimately believe through their message will be “in us [i.e., ‘in’ the Father and the Son] so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (17:21).
(4) Jesus declares he wants all those the Father has given him to be where he is, and finally to see his glory, the very glory the Father gave him because the Father loved him from “before the creation of the world” (17:24).
In addition, of course, Jesus prays that his disciples may all be one. It would be nice if all those who emphasize this petition emphasized the other petitions no less — or, for that matter, that all those who emphasize, say, the second petition in the list above also emphasized the prayer for unity.
The question to ask, however, is whether Jesus’s prayers are answered. Does not Jesus elsewhere attest that he knows full well that the Father always “hears” him (11:42)? Certainly the Father protected all of the earliest disciples, except, of course, for Judas Iscariot, whom even Jesus in his prayer acknowledges is “doomed to destruction” (17:12). The other petitions are likewise being answered, and will be finally answered at the consummation. This is true also of Jesus’s prayer for unity: real Christians attest a profound unity, a real unity, regardless of hierarchical structures and often in defiance of ecumenical initiatives, in answer to Jesus’s prayer. This often attracts others to the gospel. We must hunger and strive for the fulfillment of all of Jesus’s petitions.
38:1 He made the altar of burnt offering of acacia wood. Five cubits1 was its length, and five cubits its breadth. It was square, and three cubits was its height. 2 He made horns for it on its four corners. Its horns were of one piece with it, and he overlaid it with bronze. 3 And he made all the utensils of the altar, the pots, the shovels, the basins, the forks, and the fire pans. He made all its utensils of bronze. 4 And he made for the altar a grating, a network of bronze, under its ledge, extending halfway down. 5 He cast four rings on the four corners of the bronze grating as holders for the poles. 6 He made the poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with bronze. 7 And he put the poles through the rings on the sides of the altar to carry it with them. He made it hollow, with boards.
8 He made the basin of bronze and its stand of bronze, from the mirrors of the ministering women who ministered in the entrance of the tent of meeting.
9 And he made the court. For the south side the hangings of the court were of fine twined linen, a hundred cubits; 10 their twenty pillars and their twenty bases were of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. 11 And for the north side there were hangings of a hundred cubits; their twenty pillars and their twenty bases were of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. 12 And for the west side were hangings of fifty cubits, their ten pillars, and their ten bases; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. 13 And for the front to the east, fifty cubits. 14 The hangings for one side of the gate were fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and three bases. 15 And so for the other side. On both sides of the gate of the court were hangings of fifteen cubits, with their three pillars and their three bases. 16 All the hangings around the court were of fine twined linen. 17 And the bases for the pillars were of bronze, but the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver. The overlaying of their capitals was also of silver, and all the pillars of the court were filleted with silver. 18 And the screen for the gate of the court was embroidered with needlework in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It was twenty cubits long and five cubits high in its breadth, corresponding to the hangings of the court. 19 And their pillars were four in number. Their four bases were of bronze, their hooks of silver, and the overlaying of their capitals and their fillets of silver. 20 And all the pegs for the tabernacle and for the court all around were of bronze.
21 These are the records of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the testimony, as they were recorded at the commandment of Moses, the responsibility of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. 22 Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses; 23 and with him was Oholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver and designer and embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen.
24 All the gold that was used for the work, in all the construction of the sanctuary, the gold from the offering, was twenty-nine talents and 730 shekels,2 by the shekel of the sanctuary. 25 The silver from those of the congregation who were recorded was a hundred talents and 1,775 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary: 26 a beka3 a head (that is, half a shekel, by the shekel of the sanctuary), for everyone who was listed in the records, from twenty years old and upward, for 603,550 men. 27 The hundred talents of silver were for casting the bases of the sanctuary and the bases of the veil; a hundred bases for the hundred talents, a talent a base. 28 And of the 1,775 shekels he made hooks for the pillars and overlaid their capitals and made fillets for them. 29 The bronze that was offered was seventy talents and 2,400 shekels; 30 with it he made the bases for the entrance of the tent of meeting, the bronze altar and the bronze grating for it and all the utensils of the altar, 31 the bases around the court, and the bases of the gate of the court, all the pegs of the tabernacle, and all the pegs around the court.
17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.1 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them2 in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself,3 that they also may be sanctified4 in truth.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
14:1 The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down.
2 Whoever walks in uprightness fears the LORD,
but he who is devious in his ways despises him.
3 By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back,1
but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
5 A faithful witness does not lie,
but a false witness breathes out lies.
6 A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.
7 Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
8 The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way,
but the folly of fools is deceiving.
9 Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance.2
10 The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.
11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.
12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.3
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.
14 The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways,
and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
15 The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
16 One who is wise is cautious4 and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and careless.
17 A man of quick temper acts foolishly,
and a man of evil devices is hated.
18 The simple inherit folly,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
19 The evil bow down before the good,
the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
20 The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the rich has many friends.
21 Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
22 Do they not go astray who devise evil?
Those who devise good meet5 steadfast love and faithfulness.
23 In all toil there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to poverty.
24 The crown of the wise is their wealth,
but the folly of fools brings folly.
25 A truthful witness saves lives,
but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.
26 In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.
27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.
28 In a multitude of people is the glory of a king,
but without people a prince is ruined.
29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
30 A tranquil6 heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy7 makes the bones rot.
31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
32 The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing,
but the righteous finds refuge in his death.
33 Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,
but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.8
34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.
35 A servant who deals wisely has the king's favor,
but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.
1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants1 of Christ Jesus,
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,4 both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
12 I want you to know, brothers,5 that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard6 and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word7 without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy8 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, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.