I am preaching through Paul’s epistle to the Philippians and this past Sunday we looked at 1:27-30. Paul is writing from prison (1:7, 13, 17) and the Philippians had sent a love offering to support Paul and the gospel ministry (1:3-7; 4:15-20). In addition, they were very concerned for his well-being and Paul reports to them that he was well though personally torn between leaving this world to be with Christ and remaining on in gospel service which would benefit them (1:21-26). He then calls on them to live lives worthy of being God’s children (1:27) and to not fear the enemies of the gospel (1:28). Paul was in prison because of his devotion to the gospel message, and as he powerfully declared in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” The Philippians were not exempt.
Paul then declares a most remarkable thing. He writes in 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” The verb “it has been granted” (χαρίζομαι) can mean to “give graciously, cancel, or forgive,” depending on context, though all three shades of meaning flow out of an act of grace. In addition, the verb is passive stressing that what Paul is about to describe is something that is given or bestowed upon us. We don’t earn it or deserve it. We don’t participate in the granting of it. We receive the gracious act of God, which Paul attributes as done for the sake or glory of Christ. Paul states that what God does for us out of pure grace is two-fold: God has graciously granted to us that we believe in Christ for salvation. This is something we know well and love to hear over and over again. But Paul adds one more thing that God has graciously granted to us: God has bestowed upon us the privilege of suffering. We do not often equate suffering and salvation as equal gifts from God!
“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.