Christ is Worth More than Everything

About this letter

Paul wrote this letter while he was in a prison at Rome. Rome is the capital of the country called Italy now. At that time, the king of Rome was very powerful and he ruled many countries. We think that Paul wrote this letter about the year AD 62. That was more than 30 years after Jesus died. At that time, Philippi was an important city in Macedonia (the north part of Greece).

Paul visited Philippi about 12 years before he wrote this letter. He went there to teach the people about Jesus Christ. Some people there became angry about the things that Paul was doing. So they put Paul in a prison. (See Acts 16:11-40.) We think that Paul visited Philippi again after that. He may have gone there several times. The Christians there were his special friends.

In his letter, Paul tells the Christians that they are very special to him. Like Paul, they are Christ’s servants. So, because they also work for Christ, they help Paul to be stronger for Christ. Paul loves Christ. Christ is much, much more important to him than anything else is. The whole purpose of Paul’s life is to tell people about Christ.

Christ obeyed God so completely that he died on our behalf. Paul wants the Christians at Philippi to obey God completely too. He wants them to be like Christ. Paul is afraid that they might listen to false teachers. The false teachers were teaching wrong ideas. Paul wants the Christians to do the things that make God happy. They must continue to believe God. They must continue to obey God, even when other people are not kind to them.

Also, Paul thanks the Christians at Philippi for the gifts that they had sent to him. He tells them that he will send Timothy and Epaphroditus to Philippi. These men will tell all the news about Paul to the Christians there.

Chapter 1

Paul and Timothy write a letter

1 Paul and Timothy, who are servants of Christ Jesus, are writing this letter. We are writing to you, God’s people at Philippi, who are united to Christ Jesus. We are writing to all of you. This includes your leaders and those who help them.

Paul prays for the believers at Philippi

2 We pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ will continue to be very kind to you. We pray also that they will cause you to be without trouble inside yourselves.

3 Every time that I think about you, I thank my God because of you. 4 I am always praying for you. Every time that I pray for you, I feel very happy. 5 I am happy because you are helping people to know the good news about Christ. You have helped me with that work since the first day that someone told you about the good news. And you are still helping with that work. 6 I know that God has begun to do good things in you. And he will continue to work in you until the day when Jesus Christ returns. Then God will finish this work in you. I am sure about that.

7 It is right for me to feel like this about you, because I love you so much. You are very special friends to me. And, like me, all of you continue to know how very kind God is to us. You know it now, while I am in this prison. And you knew it before I was in a prison. Then I was free and I could teach the good news. I explained to people why the good news is certainly true. And all of that is the reason that I love you. 8 God himself knows that I very much want to be with all of you. I love you in the same way that Christ Jesus himself loves you.

9 This is what I pray for you. I pray that you will continue to love each other more and more. I pray that you will continue to know God more and more. If you do that, you will understand things more completely. You will understand why things are right or wrong. 10 So then, you can choose to do what is best. So you can keep yourselves clean inside until the day when Christ returns. So, on that day, you will not have done anything wrong. 11 Jesus Christ will make you completely good and right with God. Jesus will help you also to do many good things. Then you will show everyone the great things that God has done in you. So people will say that God is very great.

God has done good things as a result of Paul’s time in a prison

12 Friends, I want you to know this. The things that have happened to me have helped more people to know about God’s good news. 13 I am in a prison because I am Christ’s servant. All the soldiers in the king’s house know that. And everyone else knows that too. 14 Also, because I am in a prison, almost all of the other Christians here are trusting in the Lord. So they have become much braver. The Lord has made them brave so that they are not afraid to speak God’s message to people.

15 It is true that some of these Christians do not like me. So, they are telling people about Christ because they want to make me angry. These Christians want people to think great things about them. They want to be better than I am. But other Christians are friendly to me. They speak about Christ because they want to help me. 16 They speak about him because they love me. They know that God has put me here in this prison. And he wants me to explain to people why the good news is true. 17 Those other Christians, who do not like me, speak about Christ because of wrong reasons. They speak about him because they want to seem important. They do not really want people to know Christ. They want to cause trouble for me while I am here in this prison. 18 But it does not matter! All of them are telling people about Christ. That is the most important thing. Whether they speak because of wrong reasons or because of right reasons, they are speaking about Christ! So, because of that, I am happy.

Yes, and I will continue to be happy. 19 You are praying for me and Jesus Christ’s Spirit is helping me. So, what has happened to me will have good results for me. God will save me. I know that, so I will continue to be happy. 20 I never want to do anything that will cause me to be ashamed. I hope very much that I will never do that. I hope that now, as always, I will be brave. In my body, I want to show that Christ is very great. I want to do that if I live. And I want to do that if I die.

21 Christ is everything that I live for. And if I die, that will be even better for me. 22 But if I continue to live in this body, I will be able to do more good work. That work will have good results. So perhaps I should continue to live. I do not know whether to live or to die. I do not know which to choose. 23 I want to do both those things. I want to leave this world so that I can be with Christ. That is a much better thing. 24 But you people need me to continue to live in my body. 25 I am sure that you need me. So I know that I will continue to live. I will continue to help all of you. I will help you to believe Christ more and more. So, you will become happier and happier. 26 And, when I am with you again, you will have an even better reason to thank Christ Jesus. You will say that he is very great. You will say that because of what he has done for me.

Verses 19-26 Paul is in a prison while he is writing this letter. He is waiting to talk to the people who put him in the prison. He is waiting for them to decide what they will do to him. They might decide to kill him. Or they might decide to let him live. If they decide that, he can be free to leave the prison.

27 You have believed the good news about Christ. So, whatever things may happen, you must continue to live for Christ. You must do everything that Christ’s people should do. So, whether I come to visit you or not, people will tell me good things about you. I will know that you are continuing to believe Christ strongly. You will be like one person with one spirit and one mind, because all of you have the same purpose. You will work together so that more people will believe the good news. 28 You will not be afraid of your enemies, but instead you will be brave. This will show your enemies that God will certainly destroy them. But it will show also that God will certainly save you from the results of sin. 29 God has given you special work to do as Christ’s servants. He wants you to believe Christ. But also, he has chosen that you must have troubles and pain on behalf of Christ. 30 You are fighting the same fight that I am fighting. When I was with you, I was fighting that fight. You saw that. And now people are telling you that I am still fighting that fight.

Verse 30 Paul does not mean that he is really fighting anyone with his body. He means the ‘fight’ against enemies of the good news. The believers at Philippi were in trouble because they were Christ’s people. Paul was also in trouble for the same reason. So they were in the same ‘fight’.

Chapter 2

Be more like Christ

1 You are united with Christ, so he can make you strong and brave. He can help you not to be sad. You can know that he loves you very much. All of you can know his Spirit. So you can be kind to each other. You can love each other as Christ loves you. 2 So, make me completely happy because all of you agree. All of you should love each other in the same way. All of you should be like one person, because you have the same purpose. 3 You must not do only the things that you want. You should not do anything only for the reason that it makes you seem more important than other people. Instead, always think about what other people need. Do not think that you are better than other people. But think about other people as better than you. 4 Do not think only about the things that are important to you yourself. But each of you should think also about the things that are important to other people. 5 You should think in the same way as Christ Jesus thought:

            6 Christ had completely the same nature as God.

            He was as important as God.

            But Christ did not demand that he should continue to be important like that.

            7 Instead, he made himself much, much less important.

            He took for himself a servant’s nature.

            He became like men.

            8 And when he was a man,

            he made himself even less important.

            He obeyed God so completely that he died.

            He even died on a cross!

            9 That is why God raised Jesus Christ to the most important place.

            God gave him the name that is greater than every other name.

            10 So that, when they hear Jesus’ name, everyone must bend down.

            Everything that is alive in heaven must bend down.

            Everything that is alive on earth, or under the earth, must bend down.

            They must bend their knees to show that he is very great.

            11 And everything that is alive must say aloud:

            ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’

            That will show that God the Father is very great and very good.

Verses 6-11 These verses may have been part or all of a song that Paul knew.

Christians must be like lights in the world

12 So, my friends that I love, you too must obey God. When I was with you, you always obeyed. Now that I am not with you, that is even more important. You are people that God has worked to save from the results of sin. And you must live as people like that should live. You must be very careful to obey God always. You should be afraid not to do that. You must remember that he is very great and very powerful. 13 Obey God, because he is working in you. He is changing you so that you want to obey him. And he is making you able to do the things that make him happy.

14 When you do anything, do not become angry about it. And do not argue about it. 15 Then you will be clean inside yourselves. You will be without anything wrong in you, as God’s children should be. And nobody will be able to say that you have done anything wrong. In this world, you are living with bad people all round you. They have become very bad. And they want to do wrong things. But you must be like lights among them, like the bright stars that shine in the dark sky at night. 16 You will be like lights to these people while you tell Christ’s message to them. That message can cause them to become really alive. If you are like this, I can be happy because of you. I will be happy on the day when Christ will return. Then I will know that all my work among you had good results. I will know that I did not waste my time.

17 You believe Christ, so you are his servants. You offer yourselves to God, like a sacrifice, to work for him. Perhaps I will have to die. Perhaps I must become like part of your sacrifice. Perhaps I must become like the drink that people pour on to their sacrifice. But if I die, I will be happy. And I want you to be happy also. 18 It is right that you should be happy too. You should be happy, as I will be happy.

Paul will send Timothy and Epaphroditus to Philippi

19 But I hope that the Lord Jesus will let me send Timothy to you soon. Then, when he returns to me, he can tell me news about you. And that will make me happy. 20 Timothy really loves you, as I do. He really has an interest in you. I have nobody else like him. 21 Everyone else thinks about the things that are important to themselves. They have no interest in the things that are important to Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy is a good man. He has worked with me like a son works with his father. You know that. He has helped me to tell people the good news. 23 That is why I hope to send him to you. I am waiting to discover what will happen to me. Then, when I know, I will send him. 24 But I believe that the Lord will let me come to you soon myself.

25 Epaphroditus is my Christian brother, who works with me. We are both like soldiers in Christ’s army. When I needed help, you sent him to me. And he brought your message to me. But now I think that I must send him back to you. 26 He wants very much to meet all of you again. You knew that he was ill. So he has not been happy that you knew. He does not want you to be sad about him. 27 Certainly, he was very ill, and he almost died. But God was kind to him. God was also kind to me, so that I was not even more sad. 28 So I want even more to send him to you. When you see him, you can be happy. And I will not feel so sad. 29 Like you, he belongs to the Lord’s people. So you must say ‘welcome’ to him. You should be very happy when he comes to visit you. People like Epaphroditus have done great things. So you should remember how important they are. 30 Epaphroditus nearly died because he worked for Christ. He would have died so that he could help me. He helped me because you could not help me yourselves.

Verses 25-30 Epaphroditus belonged to the group of Christians at Philippi. The Christians at Philippi had sent him to Rome. He had brought gifts from them to Paul. (See chapter 4:18.) Epaphroditus had been very ill while he was at Rome. But God had made him well again.

Verse 30 Epaphroditus could help Paul because he was at Rome with Paul. He was helping on behalf of all the Christians at Philippi.

Chapter 3

Christ is more important than anything

1 Now, friends, I want to say this to you. Be happy because you are united to the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again. And it will be safer for you. 2 Some people are teaching wrong things. They say that you must cut your bodies. They are like dangerous dogs. Be very careful that you do not believe them. 3 They are not really God’s people. But we are God’s people, because God himself has circumcised us. We are really his people, because we worship him by his Spirit. We thank God because of what Christ Jesus has done for us. We do not need to have marks on our bodies. We are sure that we cannot save ourselves from the results of sin.

Verse 3 To ‘circumcise’ means to cut the skin from the end of a boy’s or a man’s sex part. God had told Abraham that he must do this. (See Genesis 17:9-14.) The Jews circumcise men and boys to show that the Jews are God’s people. But if we believe Christ, God ‘circumcises’ us in our spirits. Our spirits are God’s. We are God’s people because Christ died for us. So we have something much better than a mark on our bodies. Some false teachers were saying that Christians had to cut themselves. They were saying, ‘Unless you cut yourselves, like the Jews, you cannot really be God’s people.’ That is what they were teaching. So Paul is telling the Christians at Philippi that they must not believe these bad teachers.

4 I could think that I was good. I could think that I could save myself from the results of sin because of that. I have good reasons to think like that. I have better reasons to think like that than anyone else could have. 5 I belong to Israel’s people, to Benjamin’s family group. I am a Jew completely. They circumcised me when I was 8 days old. God’s rules, that he gave to Israel’s people, were very important to me. I was a Pharisee. 6 I wanted very much to be a good Jew. So I caused a lot of trouble and pain for the Christians. I obeyed all God’s rules very carefully. I did everything right, as the rules said.

7 But all the things that were very important to me before are worth nothing to me now, because of Christ. 8 And it is not only those things that are worth nothing to me. Now I think that all things are worth nothing, because of Christ. The only thing that is really important to me is to know Christ Jesus, my Lord. That is the most important thing. I have lost everything for him. But all the things that I have lost are only like dirt to me. I think about them like that, so that I can have Christ. 9 I can be united to him, so that I am completely right with God. If I obeyed all God’s rules completely, I could never become right with God. Only God can make me right with himself, because I believe Christ.

10 The only thing that I want is to know Christ. He rose, to become alive again, after he had died. And I want to know in myself how powerful his new life is. Also, I want to have troubles and pain, as he did. I want to become like him in his death. 11 That is how I hope to rise from death myself. I hope to become alive again after death, so that I will live with God always.

Christians do not belong to this world

12 I am not saying that I have already got all those things. I have not yet become completely as God wants me to be. I am not saying that I have become like that already. But Christ Jesus has made me his own. And it is my whole purpose to become completely what he wants me to be. I am like someone who is running strongly to reach a certain point. 13 My friends, I do not think that I have reached that point yet. But this one thing is what I do. I forget past things, which are behind me. And I try very much to reach the things that are in front of me. 14 I run straight towards that point, so that I can win God’s gift. God has chosen that I should live in heaven. Then I will be united to Christ Jesus. That is his gift to me.

15 So all of us who have learned to live properly for Christ should think like this. And if you think differently about anything, God will make it clear to you. 16 But we should continue to live as we have lived until now. I mean that we must continue to obey God. We must continue to do what God wants. As far as we understand it, we must do that.

17 My friends, all of you should try to do what I do. Also, watch everyone else who, like me, obeys God. And try to do what they do. Try to be like us. 18 Many people live like enemies of Christ’s death on the cross. I have told you about these people many times before. And I am crying when I tell you about them now. 19 God must destroy them. Their god is their stomach. They do bad things that should make them ashamed. But they are not ashamed. Instead, they are happy because they do those bad things. They do bad things like that. And they think that they are clever because of it. They think only about the things that belong to this world. 20 But we belong to heaven. Our home is not really in this world. We are waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ, who saves us from the results of sin, to come from heaven. We very much want him to come. 21 He will change these poor bodies that we have now on this earth. He will make our bodies like his own beautiful body in heaven. Christ can do this because he is so powerful. He is so powerful that he can rule over everything.

Chapter 4

Paul is happy about the Christians at Philippi

1 My friends, I love you very much. And I want very much to meet you again. You make me very happy. You show that my work among you had good results. So I am very happy because of you. My good friends, please remember what I have told you. If you do remember it, you will continue to believe Christ strongly. You will continue to live for the Lord, because you are united to him.

Agree with each other

2 I say this to Euodia and I say it to Syntyche: ‘You are like sisters because you are united to the Lord. So I ask very strongly that you agree with each other.’ 3 I ask you too, my good friend, to help these women. You have worked with me to tell people the good news. And these women have worked with me too. They have worked very much so that people would believe the good news. They worked with Clement, and they worked with all my other workers. All those workers’ names are in God’s book. This book says who will live with him always.

Verse 3 Paul is speaking to someone who is his special friend. He does not say what his friend’s name is. Perhaps it is someone who had travelled with Paul to tell people the good news. Then that person had stayed at Philippi. Some people think that it might be Luke. Luke wrote the book in the Bible called Acts.

Be happy and think good thoughts

4 Always be happy because you live united to the Lord. I will say it again, ‘Be happy!’ 5 Always be kind and patient. So everyone will see that you are very kind and good. Remember that the Lord is near. 6 Do not be afraid about anything. Do not let anything cause you trouble inside yourselves. Instead, tell everything to God. Pray to him. Ask him for everything that you need. And when you pray, always thank him. 7 If you do that, God will rule you. He will rule your minds by Christ Jesus. He will rule what you feel like. He will cause you to be without trouble inside yourselves. God is so great that he can do that for us. But we cannot understand how he does it.

8 Now friends, I want to say this to you. Think about the things that are true and honest. Think about the things that are right and good and lovely. Everyone can see that some things are completely good. Think about these things. 9 Do those things that you learned from me. Remember the things that I said. Remember the things that I did. You must do those things too. And so the God who causes us to be without trouble inside ourselves will be with you.

Paul thanks the believers at Philippi for their gifts to him

10 I am very happy that now you want to help me again. I thank the Lord that you want to help me. I know that you helped me before. But it is a long time since you had a chance to help me. 11 I am not saying this because I need anything. I have learned to be happy, whatever things may be happening to me. 12 I know what it is like to need things. I know what it is like to have plenty. I have learned to be happy at any time and during all things. I have learned this secret. I can be happy whether I have enough food or not. I can be happy whether I have plenty of things or nothing. 13 I can do everything because Christ makes me strong.

14 But certainly, you have been very kind to me. You have helped me at this time, when I am in trouble. 15 You helped me also earlier, when I was starting to tell people the good news. When I left Macedonia, you helped me. You were the only group of Christians who helped me then. You people who live at Philippi know that yourselves. No other group of Christians gave gifts to me as you did. 16 Even when I was at Thessalonica, you helped me. More than once, you sent gifts to me because I needed things.

Verse 15 Macedonia was the north part of the country called Greece now. Philippi was a city in Macedonia.

Verse 16 Thessalonica was also a city in Macedonia. Paul had taught the good news at Thessalonica also.

17 It is not your gifts themselves that I want. But instead, I want you to do good things so that God will be happy about you. So he will be good to you even more, because you have helped me. 18 Epaphroditus has brought the gifts that you sent to me. I have received those gifts, and now I do not need anything. You have sent me plenty. It is more than enough. Your gifts are like a sacrifice with a nice smell, that people offer to God. God accepts a sacrifice like that, because it makes him happy. 19 My God, who has plenty of very good things for us because of Christ Jesus, will supply everything for you. By Christ, God will give to you everything that you need.

20 Everyone should always say that our God, our Father, is very great! They should never stop saying that! This is true.

21 On behalf of me, say ‘hello’ to everyone who belongs to Christ Jesus’ people. The Christians who are here with me say ‘hello’ to you. 22 All God’s people here say ‘hello’ to you. And those Christians who live in the king’s house say a special ‘hello’ to you.

23 We pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will continue to be very kind to all of you.

Word List

AD 50 means 50 years after Jesus came, and so on.
a person who knows and accepts Christ.
another man who is a Christian.
to cut the skin from the end of a boy’s or a man’s sex part. See note after 3:3.
a piece of wood that someone has fastened across another piece. People put Jesus on a cross to kill him.
person that wants to hurt or to attack.
the place above the earth where God and Jesus Christ live.
God gave to Jacob the name of Israel; Israel is all the people born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children; Israel is the group of people that God chose.
a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
master; another name for God which means that he is greater than everyone else.
a group of Jews who were very careful to obey all God’s rules.
a gift that people offer to God; when people choose to give themselves completely to God, to work for him.
not to obey God; or, what you do when you do not obey God.
the part of a person that will always be alive. It will be alive even after their body is dead.
believe that someone will be good to you.
to love and thank someone (God) more than anyone else.

Book List

J. Barton & J. Muddiman (Ed.) ~ Oxford Bible Commentary

R. P. Martin ~ Philippians ~ Tyndale NT Commentary

G. D. Fee ~ New International Commentary on the New Testament ~ Paul’s Letter to the Philippians

A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament

Various Bible versions


© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2009

This version published February 2009

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.