Tag Archives: spiritual recovery

Philippians 1:7 Capacity for Spiritual Growth

updated: 1/29/2012

Before you begin this or any study of the Word of God, because you are ultimately taught by God the Holy Spirit, make sure you are in fellowship with Him.  When you are in fellowship with Him, He empowers you to both learn and apply Bible Doctrine.  To regain His filling, apply 1 John 1:9, by naming your sins to God the Father.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For more information on this, read this article.

Chapter Outline

Verse 1-2:        The Salutation

Verse 3-           Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians

Verses 1-2  Paul and Timothy, slaves belonging to Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus, to those residing in Philippi, together with pastor-teachers and deacons. Grace to you and so prosperity from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verses 3-6  Every time I remember you, I thank God for all of you.  [Always in my every prayer, for of all of you.] because of your contribution for the purpose of spreading the Gospel from that first day until now.  Because I have confidence in this doctrine (logistical grace) itself that He who began a good work in you (grace support from the moment of salvation) will complete or accomplish it until the Day of Christ.

Pertinent Verses

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17


  1. Introduction
  2. The Correctness of Paul’s Attitude
  3. Paul’s Thinking About the Philippians
  4. Paul’s Demonstration of Capacity
  5. The Basis of Rapport between Paul and the Philippians
  6. Partners in Grace

For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.  Philippians 1:7, NAS

A.         Introduction

1.            Paul’s Failure and Spiritual Recovery

In our first point of introduction we will review Paul’s current state of spiritual growth.  In our study of Paul we looked briefly at a time in his life when he lost his level of spiritual growth and capacity for life. He made an emotional decision to go to Jerusalem to bring his fellow Jews up to speed concerning the Church Age.  They were mostly operating on Age of Israel doctrines which were anachronisms. On the surface, Paul’s motivation seemed right; after all he had a strong desire to evangelize the Jews then teach them Church Age doctrine.  This, however, was not God’s plan for him.  Not understanding this, he made an emotional decision to go anyway, applying his own desires to his life instead of God’s plan for him.  That state of emotion caused him to decline spiritually.  He applied emotional fervor to his life instead of thought as revealed to him from our Lord.

We’ve noted the hardship and misery this erroneous decision cost him. He was caught up in a riot in the Temple which resulted in his imprisonment.  He almost lost his life at that point, but God preserved him for spiritual recovery and for a great ministry which we all continuously benefit from.  Paul took the opportunity to recover spiritually, doing so while being imprisoned.  He also made a fantastic discovery related to God’s plan for his life.  He was an apostle to the Gentiles not to the Jews.  God had uniquely gifted him to teach doctrines of the new dispensation to the Gentiles.

A part of his recovery was going through evidence testing which demonstrated and further established his reliance upon the Lord.  God reserves evidence testing as the ultimate testing of the mature believer’s spiritual growth.  The Book of Job teaches this principle as do other passages.  It is through evidence testing that the believer gives evidence to Satan of our Lord’s righteousness and justice.  Having passed this extreme level of testing, and the resultant level of his spiritual growth, at this point Paul had a tremendous capacity for love and life.  God doesn’t select every believer for this category of testing; only those who reach a very advanced stage of spiritual growth.

2.            Characteristics of Evidence Testing

Evidence testing is characterized by unique spiritual pressures.  You may go through this phase of testing being isolated from your normal structure of support.  You may be isolated from your normal source of doctrinal teaching so you have to rely upon the doctrinal resources in your soul.  What soldier in combat can afford to take a remedial gun care seminar in the middle of battle?  Your scale of values and priorities in life change.  Your viewpoint changes from human viewpoint to divine view point because the unseen doctrinal resources provide for you better than the usual human resources.  This doesn’t happen instantly; the process of your change in viewpoint begins at the moment you began growing up spiritually then continues.  At this point, though, your spiritual growth solidifies.  Your confidence in God and your rapport with Him becomes reality to you.

As a result of this change, the factors upon which you base rapport with people and the factors upon which you base your priorities change.  This results in changes in your life and changes in relationship with people. The bottom line is that your life changes.

Going through this level of testing has its own peculiarities and unique pressures.  As a result of these pressures, your life takes on a much more intense focus upon doctrinal resources for application. The further you advance in the spiritual life the more your priorities and scale of values change.  As a result, the factors upon which you base rapport with people and the factors upon which you base your priorities change.  This results in changes in your life and changes in relationship with people.

3.            Your Thinking Changes Your Capacity

One of the important themes in this verse deals with the importance of your thinking, thinking on a moment by moment basis.  If you are thinking God’s thoughts then you will find that your capacity for life increases.  By capacity, I am referring to the degree to which God can bless you.  If you have a small capacity for blessings, for instance, a thimble in your soul, then God cannot input blessings to you without making you miserable.  On the other hand, if, from constantly learning and applying principles from the Word of God, you gain great capacity for blessing, God can bless you immeasurably.  So, if you find yourself always thinking thoughts which are contrary to God’s plan for your life, to that degree you will lose both capacity for life and capacity for happiness.  Look for principles throughout this study which deal with this issue.

If you keep concentrating on the Word, both the written Word, and upon our Lord, seeking to make application of it and His thinking to your life, to that degree your capacity for life will increase, and so will your happiness.  The greater your level of spiritual growth, the greater your capacity for life, love and happiness. The greater your capacity, the more God can bless you. God will never bless you beyond your level of capacity.  When you look at your life, this is a good principle to remember.  If you are miserable, and unhappy, then your spiritual life is so out of kilter so that God can’t share His happiness with you!

Returning to Paul’s spiritual growth, he was going through evidence testing, his final push into the final stage of spiritual adulthood.  If he successfully emerged from this stage of testing, he would be occupied with Jesus Christ.  His faith would be unshakeable.  He was preparing to go through this stage of testing before his emotional decision to go to Jerusalem, but failed instead.    So, this verse expresses his return to that level of advanced spirituality where those with whom he has rapport is limited to those who under the same testing.

B.         The Correctness of Paul’s Attitude

“For it is right for me…”

καθώςKATHOS Since, so, just as ComparativeConjunction AdverbialCausalConjunction
εἰμίESTIN it is Verb of Being 3ps, pres activeindicative Predicate
δίκαιονDIKAION right Adjective NominativeNeuterSingular PredicateNominative
ἐγώEGO for me Personal Pronoun 1stPersonDative Complement

This verse begins with the adverbial comparative conjunction, KATHOS καθώς, which is usually used to indicate a comparison. Because this is in the causal sense (BAG), it is best translated “so,” indicating the drawing of a conclusion based on what has proceeded.

The next word in the Greek word order is ESTIN εἰμί, which is, grammatically, the third person singular, present active indicative of EIMI, a verb of being, translated “it is.”  A third person singular subject can be either “he” “she” or “it.”  Before we launch into an analysis of what “present active indicative” means let’s look at what the present tense can indicate in the Greek. Such analysis is the domain of a word’s syntax.  Tense in the Greek language, in contrast to the English, expresses kind of action.  In the English, tense designates time of action.  The kinds of action most often encountered are labeled as either continuous or punctilliar action. Continuous action can be illustrated as a continuous line.  The action continues.  Punctilliar action occurs at a single moment.  It can be illustrated as a single point.  Voice indicates who produces the action while mood indicates the relation of the action of the verb to reality.

Syntactically, this present tense is a customary present tense falling into the category of linear action.  The action this verb expresses is continual.  This customary present denotes conditions which customarily or continually exist.  In this context, Paul, who is maturing spiritually, has rapport with the Philippian congregation, who are maturing spiritually and who whole-heartedly accept Paul’s teaching. He had been acting as their pastor-teacher.  This rapport continually exists between Paul and the Philippian believers. The simple active voice indicates that he is the one producing the action of the verb. Though he is an apostle, he is doubling as a pastor-teacher.  The declarative indicative mood indicates that this statement is a dogmatic statement of absolute reality.

The next word is DIKAION δίκαιον, the predicate nominative neuter from DIKAIOS δίκαιοςGrammatically, it is an adjective which usually modify or further describe nouns. This adjective is a predicate nominative acting adverbially describing the verbal idea of the previous verb of being, EIMI.  Along with the previous words, it is translated, “it is right.”

The verse continues with the dative of advantage of the personal pronoun EGW ἐγώ, translated, “for me.”  It is to Paul’s advantage for this action to take place.  It is for his benefit.  All of these words are translated “So it is right for me…”  Paul is making an important point with these words.  What he is about to say about his rapport with the believers in Philippi in this certain stage of spiritual growth is absolutely correct to say.  He wants his readers to understand clearly that the following statement is absolutely right and matches the level of integrity the believer in this stage of spiritual growth should exude.  A believer does not progress to this stage where his faith is tested to this extreme without most of his thinking falling into line with our Lord’s thinking.  Reverting to human viewpoint and evil at this point of spiritual growth means that the believer will most likely go into reversionism, possibly, never to recover.

We can apply two principles which we can apply from this short phrase to our lives.  First, we can have the same dynamic of thought that Paul possessed at that time.  It is available to us, today, as a result of our own spiritual growth.  Secondly, we each have the responsibility to grow up to this level of spiritual growth.  God designed us to do so, for the purpose of glorifying Him.

Our translation so far reads as this: “So it is right for me…”

C.         Paul’s Attitude toward the Philippian Believers

“…to feel this way about you…”

οὗτοςHOUTOS  this DemonstrativePronoun AccusativeNeuterSingular Direct Object ofthe Infinitive
φρονέωPHRONEO think,to have an attitude Verb PresentActiveInfinitive Begins InfinitivalClause
ὑπέρHUPER for, on behalf of,about Preposition
πᾶςPAS all Adjective GenitivePluralMasculine
σύSU you PersonalPronoun 2ndperson

Correctly translated “this,” the accusative neuter singular of the immediate demonstrative pronoun of HOUTOS οὗτος, is the direct object of the proceeding infinitive.  This pronoun places emphasis on the confidence Paul has just stated in verse six, that the Father’s provision, all wrapped up in logistical grace, will see every positive believer through to the ultimate goal of occupation with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We can derive some applicable principles from this demonstrative pronoun.  Even though we are tempted to place our confidence in people themselves, the issue is to have confidence in the fact that these people rely on Bible doctrine, applying the doctrine of logistical grace to their lives.  So the confidence is placed on God the Father who continually provides believers with their needs.  Now, you may ask, doesn’t God logistically provide for every believer, both positive and negative?  Yes, but only those believers who are continually growing spiritually are guaranteed logistical support through to the goal of occupation with Christ.  If you are negative, not actively learning and applying the Word, then God will supply your every need until He removes you through the sin face to face with death: the sin resulting in death.

The present active infinitive of the verb PHRONEO φρονέω, translated, “to think,” “to have a mindset” or “to maintain an attitude” continues the verse.  It begins a short infinitival clause.  It denotes objective thinking as compared with emotionalism.  Believers in this stage of spiritual growth are capable of objective thinking even in the rigors this kind of testing brings.  This word is better translated, “to hold an opinion.”  The customary present indicates that mature believers consistently make their spiritual growth, by learning and applying the Word of God, their highest priority in life.  Their opinions are always intrinsically right because their thoughts are based upon the thought patterns of Christ.  The active voice of the verb means that Paul, as a believer in this stage of spiritual growth, is the one who is thinking objectively, who has the right attitude.

This is an infinitive of conceived result, which leads Paul to assume that as a consequence of the Philippians’ arrival to this level of spiritual maturity they will keep on growing in grace. Secondly, Paul will continue to hold this attitude toward them because of their spiritual growth.  Because both Paul and his Philippian congregation continue to grow spiritually; they have a mutual rapport based upon their spiritual growth and resultant spiritual status.

Confidence about people is the issue here, but not necessarily confidence in the people themselves.  We are to be confident in the Lord’s dealing with positive people not in each individual person.  We are often tempted to place our confidence in people themselves.  The issue though is to have confidence in the fact that these people have placed their spiritual growth as the highest priority in their lives.  You can have confidence in people when they put their gaining knowledge of the Word of God as the first priority in their life.

The word, thought, brings to mind some important principles.  First, the content of your thought determines in which direction your life will go.  Many scriptures express this fact.  If concentrate on the thinking of Christ, then you will fulfill God’s plan for your life.  Otherwise, satanic thinking will take you down the road of self-destruction.   Always remember that human viewpoint always conflicts with divine thought.  Actually, the term, “human viewpoint,” connotes that a human being has thoughts original to himself.  A person, at any given time, is either thinking satanic thoughts or divine thoughts.  Any category of thinking outside of divine is satanic.  Remember, the content of your thought will make or break you.  If you are thinking on our Lord’s thinking, you are in the process of “making” your life.  Otherwise, you are “breaking” your life, without hope of recovery.

Anytime you put forth the effort to concentrate on any given subject, you will accelerate your knowledge and application about that subject.  So also it is with your concentration upon the Word of God.  The only caveat is your exploitation of the empowerment of God the Holy Spirit during the course of your concentration.

The verse continues with the preposition UPER ὑπέρ, translated, “about” or “concerning” with the ablative plural of the adjective PAS πᾶς, translated, “all” with the second person plural personal pronoun SU σύ, translated, “you.”  These words are translated, “about all of you.”  Therefore, the first part of this verse is translated:

“So it is right for me to be holding this opinion concerning of all of you all…”

This is the fourth time in just seven verses that Paul uses the words “all of you all.”  Without going into too much detail here, there is some evidence of a squabble or some sort of power struggle going on in this church.  It was probably quite minor considering Paul’s attitude toward them, but by using this plural term he does make sure that everyone in the congregation understands that they are being included in this prayer.  No one is being left out nor is he taking sides in the squabble.

Paul has an opinion of his favorite congregation because they are right behind him spiritually.  He is confident that they will advance right through this pivotal stage of spiritual growth, following him.  When you, as a mature believer look around to see who is out there with you, you can’t help but have a tremendous rapport and love for those on the same battlefield.  You no longer have a foundation for rapport with those you have known before but who have chosen not to pursue the spiritual life, having become casualties in the angelic conflict.  You will no longer have rapport with those who have dropped away because your values will have changed.  The scale of values that you will retain for the rest of your life will be formed as you progress through this crucial stage of spiritual growth.  Paul, therefore, has perfect rapport with these believers who have stuck it out, persisting in their spiritual lives.

“…because I have you in my heart…” (NASB)

DIA διά through preposition + accusative
TO the article
EKO ἒχω I have Predicate ofclause Present activeinfinitive
EGW ἐγώ I personal pronoun Accusative singular

A classical Greek idiom follows.  It is not the everyday Koine Greek, but language that harkens back to the 5th Century BC, to Athens.  This is “high fallutin’” language, emphasizing and calling attention to Paul’s special message.  He emphasizes his rapport with them with this clause. It begins with the preposition DIA διά followed by the articular infinitive of EKO ἒχω with the accusative singular from the personal pronoun EGW ἐγώ.  This phrase cannot be translated in to the English using the normal KOINE clues.  The preposition DIA takes the accusative case and is usually translated ‘through.’  Then the article in the accusative is translated ‘the,’ with the infinitive usually translated “to have.”  Putting it all together, as if were a KOINE clause, it would be meaningless: “through the to have I!”  I know that that is a mouthful.  I need to look at it closely every time I look at it, to fully understand the mechanics as well: but you do understand that Paul is expressing himself in a language totally apart from the normal KOINE, which he usually communicates in. I need to credit R. B. Thieme for this analysis.  Some commentaries mention that this phrase is classical Greek but don’t come close to this.  So let’s continue the analysis:

The following explanation is important to understand.  I want you to understand the complexity of what these four words mean and how Paul penned his thoughts.  Syntactically, the Attic Greek views this phrase differently from the KOINE.  We have a preposition followed by an article in the accusative case, followed by an infinitive and then an accusative singular personal pronoun.  The preposition with the accusative is translated “because of.”  This article also, because of its placement before the infinitive, allows us to understand the meaning of the infinitive.  The personal pronoun, which follows the infinitive, is in the accusative case, which is normally the case of the direct object.  But in this case the accusative personal pronoun acts as the subject of the clause.  What is normally the object acts as the subject of the infinitive.  The article preceding the infinitive is also very significant.  It restores the balance between the substantival use and the verbal use of the infinitive.  If a definite article precedes the infinitive, 85% of the time the infinitive is used substantively, that is, as a noun.  If an accusative proceeds if, then the infinitive is used verbally.  Normally, if a definite article precedes an infinitive it is used substantively, but if it is followed by an accusative of general reference acting as its subject, its verbal concept is restored.  So the translation goes like this: “Because I have you…

Paul is saying this, instead of in everyday common Greek, in classical aristocratic Greek.  The language Paul used here is for aristocracy!  Why did he, all of a sudden revert to and use a language that was centuries old?  When Paul wrote this, the Philippians did not have to stop and have this explained to them.  They understood it because they comprehended the classical language and the context created by using it.  This phrase well illustrates the great soul rapport that existed between them.  He is saying to the Philippian believers, “Because I have you…” in a beautiful, magnificent, classical way!  It is as if Paul is playing these words on a beautiful pipe organ or musical instrument.  It would have been breathtaking to the Philippians to hear these words read to them because it was the classical language of drama.  Read in the original Greek, it is beautiful to behold Paul’s use of this wonderful language.  American English has never enjoyed a system of aristocratic language, or even had aristocracy of thought, at least, not since Shakespeare.  You, though, as a maturing believer in Jesus Christ, can have the ultimate aristocracy of thought; the thoughts of our Lord Jesus Christ in your thinking!

This also illustrates why Greek is the language of the New Testament.  It is the greatest language of thought ever written!  The Christian Way of Life is thought.  As Church Age believers we must learn to think.  When we first look at the subject matter here, that is, of Paul expressing his great affection to these believers, our first instinct is to consider the emotions, how we feel.  But not Paul!  This is an expression of profound thought!  In its verbal use, the historical present of the infinitive views a past event with a vividness of a present occurrence.  It is as if Paul had just written this a minute ago.  Because of this we can look back and see vividly Paul’s great rapport with and love for these Philippian believers. Though this is indicative of thought, certainly his emotions responded as well, to those thoughts.

Paul, in his Roman imprisonment, had suffered rejection by most of his former friends.  Those with whom he had had rapport have deserted him.  Many of these would testify against him, leading to his eventual execution.  Friendships die for lack of rapport.  But Paul, along with the Philippians, is pushing through no man’s land of spiritual adolescence while those in Rome have dropped along the wayside.  Those who stay in doctrine develop a magnificent rapport based upon spiritual growth while with others, who reject doctrine, it is lost.  Doctrine divides believers.  In that division, with new friends, new rapport is formed.  So look for new friendships to develop based upon new rapport.

The active voice means that Paul is the one producing the action of the infinitive.  This is also an infinitive of cause owing to the fact of the preceding preposition.  This verse, thus far, reads:

So it is right for me to have this opinion concerning all of you because I have you…”

“…you in my heart…” (NASB)

ἕν EN in preposition + dative
HO the definite article dative singular
καρδία KARDIA my heart noun dative singular
σύSU you all second personpersonal pronoun accusative plural

The verse continues with the preposition EN ἕν and the articular HO locative feminine singular of KARDIA καρδία and SU σύ.  The phrase is translated “in my heart.”  This heart does not refer to the physiological part of the human anatomy which circulates blood.  The word sometimes does designate that anatomical heart, but most of the time it refers to the soul which circulates thought.  The Greeks often used parts of the body to describe functions of the soul.  We’ll see more examples of this as we work our way through this book.

Our translation thus far reads like this:

So it is right for me to have this opinion concerning all of you because I have you in my heart…”

Doctrinal Consideration

Doctrine of the Heart Power Point Presentation

“…since both in my imprisonment…”

EN ἕν in preposition preposition
TE τέ and conjunction connective
HA the article dative plural masculine definite article
DESMOS δεσμός imprisonment noun dative plural masculine object
EGO  ἐγώ my personal pronoun first person singular adverbial

This is a prepositional phrase beginning with the preposition EN ἕν with the articular locative singular of DESMOS δεσμός.  Between the preposition and the article is the enclitic connective particle TE τέ, an Atticism, which connects simple concepts.  The adverbial genitive of place of the personal pronoun EGO ἐγώ follows the noun.  The prepositional phrase can be translated “in my imprisonment” or with that particle; a better translation is “while in prison.”

 “So it is right for me to be holding this opinion in behalf of you because I have you in my heart. While in my imprisonment…”

…and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel…

KAI καί both conjunction connective
EN ἕν in preposition
HA the definite article dative sing fem
APOLOGIA ἀπολογία defense noun dative sing fem
KAI καί and conjunction
BABAIOSEI βεβαίωσις confirmation locative, singular
TOU the definite article genitive singular
EUAGGELION  εὐαγγέλιον gospel object genitive singular

The next phrase of the verse employs the KAI——-KAI pattern, translated “both—–and.” The first conjunction KAI καί, translated ‘both’ is followed by the preposition EN ἕν and the articular locative of the noun, “defense,” APOLOGIA ἀπολογία.  Following the second KAI καί, translated ‘and’ is the locative singular feminine of the noun, BEBAIOSEI βεβαίωσις, translated, “confirmation.” Following is the descriptive genitive singular of the definite article TOU and of EUAGGELIOU.  This phrase is translated “both in the defense and confirmation of the Good News.”

The Greek word, APOLOGIA, translated, defense or vindication, refers to the presentation of the Gospel or evangelization.  Paul, upon entering a city would often seek out the city synagogue and preach there, often evangelizing, forming the nucleus of a new church.  He was an incredible evangelist.  BEBAIOSEI βεβαίωσις, the establishment or confirmation of the Gospel is a presentation of the various categorical doctrines of the Christian Life and the organization of the local church.

“So it is right for me to be holding this opinion in behalf of you because I have you in my heart. While in my imprisonment, both in the defense and confirmation of the gospel …”

to be continued