Week 2 Philippians 1:12-26 // A Christ-shaped Life - Neville Jones

Teaching text

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defence of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 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 honoured in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.


Paul was called by God to travel around, starting churches and proclaiming the good news of Jesus. However, at the time that he was writing this letter to the Philippians, he was in prison. This seems like it would be a setback but he does not see it this way.
Paul’s mindset is radical because it is lined up with who God is and the truth of the gospel. Therefore, he does not despair when things don’t go according to his plan.
Earlier in his life, Paul had hated the teachings of Jesus and went around killing and imprisoning Christians. But, in Acts 9, Jesus stopped him on the road to Damascus, changing the course of his life. He realised that Jesus is God and started to follow Him. All of his values and perspectives were completely changed. He lost everything that he thought was important and gained a personal relationship with Christ. He saw that this is the only thing that truly matters and so ‘to live is Christ’.
Though the gospel is good news, life is still hard. Paul was still in prison and unable to go anywhere. However, he had the opportunity to share the gospel with the people in the prison. He was confident in the proclamation of Christ to advance the gospel and so he did not stop proclaiming it through hardship. Even when we go through difficult times we can still proclaim the goodness of God. If our lives are underpinned by the truth of the gospel, this changes our perspective on everything!
We can’t stop there though. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, ‘For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.’ Paul knows that there is something better to come and so he does not fear death but says, ‘to die is gain’. Jesus defeated death so that we can have eternal life with Him in heaven.

  1. In times of despair, realign your life with the truth of the gospel and who Jesus is. When we change our focus to what is true and what really matters, it puts everything else into perspective.
  2. In times of hardship take a step back to see what God could be doing. We can testify to His goodness in every season of our lives.
  3. Don’t fear death but hope in eternity with Jesus. Death was swallowed up in victory and though there is still suffering and sadness involved, there is also glory that Jesus won for us when He died on the cross.

Discussion Questions

  1. To live is… what? What are you most prone to put there (apart from Christ)?
  2. Paul went through a radical conversion - what about you? What has your journey to see Christ been?
  3. ‘To live is Christ’ - what does that mean for you?