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Growth (Phil. 1:9-11)

Lesson Four

Victor M. Eskew




A.   In the previous section, Paul brought the Philippians before the throne of God out of gratitude for them.


B.    Now his prayers go heavenward for their growth.  Notice the words “abound,” “more and more,” and “being filled.”


C.   This section is quite similar to Colossians 1:9-11.


For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual under-standing; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.


D.   Notice that Paul’s concern was centered upon the spiritual rather than the physical.


I.           THE PETITION (Phil. 1:9-11a)


A.   Abound in love (Phil. 1:9)


And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and judgment.


1.     The word “pray” is the more general term for prayer.

2.     Love

a.     The Greek word is “agape.”  It is the resolve to act in someone else’s best interest (I Cor. 13:4-8a).

b.    The object of that love is not specified.  It is a general reference to God, Christ, himself, the church, and the world.

3.     May abound yet more and more

a.     Abound

1)     Strong (4052):  to superabound (in quality and quantity), be in excess, be superfluous

2)     Thayer:  to abound, overflow, to be abundantly furnished with a thing, to have in abundance

b.    The Philippians already possessed much love.  The apostle wants them to grow in their love “yet more and more.”

1)     “A Christian should never become comfortable on a spiritual plateau, but rather should keep climbing to greater heights of maturity and service” (Stewart, 165-166).

2)     I Thessalonians 3:12

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.


4.     Their loved needed to grow in knowledge and judgment.

a.     Definitions

1)     Knowledge

a)     Strong (1922):  recognition…full discernment

b)     Thayer:  precise and correct knowledge, used in the NT of the knowledge of things ethical and divine

c)     Stewart:  “…the ability to wisely understand all kinds of situations and circumstances” (166).

2)     Judgment

a)     Strong (144):  perception….discernment

b)     Thayer:  perception, cognition, discernment, of moral discernment of ethical matters

c)     Hebrews 5:14


But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.


b.    Quotations:

1)     Harrell:  “…Christian love is not blind.  It is enlightened by knowledge and functions with insight” (as quoted by Stewart, 166).

2)     Ash:  “Love would weigh matters in view of the deeper purposes of God, and thus make decisions and carry them into action” (as quoted by Stewart, 166).

3)     “It is intelligent actions that helps others” (Gutzke, 25).


B.    Approve the things that are excellent (Phil. 1:10)


That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.


1.     Things that are excellent:

a.     What is best

b.    What is vital

c.    What really matters

d.    As opposed to things that do not.

2.     The Christian must be capable of “approving” the things that are best.

a.     The word “approve” means “to test by trial or examination.”

1)     Testing the genuineness of silver or gold

2)     The testing of the hearts of men

3)     The testing of soldiers for the field of battle:  strength, ability, and allegiance

4)     Testing of individuals who are seeking public office (vetting)

3.     Paul prayed that the Philippians could critically scrutinize people, ideas, teachings, and behavior, and discern their true worth.


4.     I Thessalonians 5:22-23


Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from all appearance of evil.


5.     The result of approving the things that are excellent.

a.     The Philippians would be sincere and without offence

1)     Sincere

a)     A combination of two words:  sunlight and test.  Thus, the word means “to test by sunlight.”

b)     Two applications:

-        Checking pottery for cracks by holding it up to the sun.

-        Dyed cloth was sincere if it could be held up to the sunlight with no streaks or blemishes.

c)     The Christian should be able to be held up to the light of God’s Word (John 12:48) without having any cracks or streaks.  His life is pure, holy, and sincere.

2)     Without offence

a)     Blameless before God and all people

b)     Acts 24:16


And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward man.


3)     Till the day of Christ

a)     The day of Christ involves the Second Coming and Judgment.

b)     “They needed to utilize great spiritual scrutiny as their lives would someday be scrutinized (Mt. 25:31-46; 1 Cor. 3:10-15) (Stewart, 169).


C.   Awashed in the fruits of righteousness (Phil. 1:11)


Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.


1.     Being filled

a.     Strong (4137):  to make replete, that is, (literally) to cram

b.    Thayer:  to make full, fill up, i.e. to fill to the full…to fill to the top:  so that nothing shall be wanting to full measure

2.     Filled with the fruits of righteousness

a.     The phrase can be understood as “the fruit that is righteous” or “the fruit that is produced by righteousness.”

b.    The words “fruits of righteousness” are found several times in the NT (Heb. 12:11; James 3:18; See II Cor. 9:10; Eph. 5:9).

c.    “A parallel is found in Galatians 5 which explains the fruit of the Spirit.  One must ‘walk by the Spirit’ and be ‘led by the Spirit’ to bear ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16, 18, 22, 25).  When one submits to the Spirit-inspired Word, then the fruit of the Spirit will be born in his life (Col. 1:5-6) (Stewart, 169-170).

3.     The fruit of righteousness can only come by Jesus Christ.

a.     Jesus the power source for the production of fruit.

b.    As Christians, we must be anchored in the true vine to produce fruit (John 15:4-5).


Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches.  He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.


4.     The purpose of our bearing fruit is “unto the glory and praise of God.”

a.     Glory is splendor and radiance.  Praise means recognition, approval, and honor.”

b.    Our fruits bring glory and honor to God.  This is the real mission of every Christian.

1)     Matthew 5:16


Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.


2)     I Corinthians 10:31


Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.


3)     I Peter 4:11


If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ:  to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen.