“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”—Philippians 1:29–30 (NKJV)
Have you ever been granted something? Perhaps as a student, you received a grant from the government based on your good grades or economic status. Maybe you were granted permission to marry your spouse or follow your dream. Here at the close of Philippians 1, the apostle Paul tells us what the believers at Philippi had been granted: to suffer for Christ’s sake.
Did you know that the Greek word for granted (charizomai) means to be shown favor, or to receive grace? The root of this word is charis, the Greek word for grace! Seems like an interesting choice of words to describe persecution and suffering, doesn’t it?
But, as we’ve seen from the apostle Paul (Romans 5:3–5; Philippians 3:10), as well as the other apostles (James 1:2–4; 1 Peter 4:12–13), suffering was something to rejoice in, particularly suffering for the sake of Christ. Why? Because “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV).
Charles Ellicott put it this way: “The fearlessness of the Christian is a gift of God, not an inherent stoic self-sufficiency. It rests indeed upon the sense that it is a privilege to suffer in the cause of truth, yet still more on the belief that such suffering is for no abstract principle, but on behalf of Christ and with Christ.”
If you notice, Ellicott stated that not only do we suffer on behalf of Christ, but also with Christ. That is a truly profound, powerful, and deeply encouraging thing for us as believers to hold to. As we suffer for His sake, our Lord Jesus suffers along with us.
Paul wanted to show the Philippians that it was a true privilege and honor to suffer for Christ, and, as we’ve seen in the verses leading up to this point, an important means of accomplishing good. Remember Paul’s declaration that all his suffering had been a good thing because it advanced the gospel and emboldened believers? The same principle applies here, and Paul wanted the Philippians to be able to rejoice in their trials as he had.
When Paul says, “having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me,” Acts 16:22–24 is being referenced, where the Philippians witnessed the baseless and unprovoked beating and imprisonment of the apostle. So now, as the Philippians experienced their own persecution and suffering, they not only had Paul’s example, which they witnessed in Acts 16, but they also had his testimony from his recent suffering and imprisonment.
1. What is your decision to follow Christ costing you personally?
2. How are you suffering for the sake of Jesus?