There are two ways of approaching the doctrines of the Scriptures. One way is to collect all the data throughout the Bible into logical categories (called “systematic theology”). The other way is to work through individual books of the Bible, collecting the data on a particular subject (this is called “biblical theology,” although the term is used in other ways in less than conservative circles). When we ask, what does the book of Philippians say about God the Holy Spirit, we are taking a kind of biblical theology approach. Our conviction in these posts is that, while some believers overemphasize the Spirit, others overlook Him. We want to do neither, but long to have a balanced view of the Third Member of the Trinity.
What do we find when we unit-read (read straight through at one sitting) the book of Philippians? We find that —
Ch. 1 – But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.
Ch. 2 – Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (the Spirit?)
Ch. 3 – Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
So, what do we learn about God the Holy Spirit from this incredible epistle to the Philippians?
1. We learn in chapter 1 that we can rejoice when Christ is preached. But Paul is confident that what has happened to him will turn out for his deliverance because of two factors: (1) the prayers of the Philippians; and (2) God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. God provides His Spirit to encourage us when we are in dire circumstances.
2. Also in chapter 1 we see that we are to be united in Christ, and to stand firm in the one Spirit as we strive together for the faith of the gospel.
3. We can impact the joy of other Christian workers IF we are like-minded because there is a common sharing in the Spirit.
4. The fourth reference is a bit of an interpretation, but we read that “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” The primary member of the Trinity who strives to bring about sanctification in our lives is the Spirit of God.
5. The last reference to the Spirit of God in the epistle to the Philippians is in chapter 3. Paul warns these believers about the evildoers, the “mutilators of the flesh,” who boast in their flesh, not in the Lord Jesus. He refers to the true believers as “we who serve God by his Spirit.”
May the Lord guide each of us to appreciate the presence and work of God the Holy Spirit in our lives. Today!