Philippians 1 Lesson

Glorifying God in times of adversity

Chronologically, Philippians is the 10th of the 13 epistles written by the Apostle Paul.  It was written in 62 AD and is the fourth and final “prison epistle” written by Paul while he was under house arrest in Rome (Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon being the other three). 

Philippians is a beautiful letter that focuses on:

  • Christian unity.
  • Joy.
  • Peace.
  • And encouragement. 

This is a feel-good letter that highlights Jesus as our perfect example in all things, with a concentration on His humility.  Paul is at a pivotal point in his Christian walk.  He is ready to stand trial, to be put to death, and to be with Jesus, if that is the outcome.  Paul's focus during his time of adversity is a powerful example to us all! Often it is what we do during the most difficult times in our lives that has the greatest impact on those around us.    

Philippians 1:12-14 states:

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.”

Let us pause and think about the following words written by Paul:

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.” – Philippians 1:12.

Paul is saying that his pain and suffering help him spread the Gospel!  That is not the way that most people think, and that is the point.  Paul’s behavior is not ordinary, it is extraordinary!  Paul is in prison, waiting to find out if he is going to be sentenced to death.  Instead of complaining, or focusing on his problems, he is thinking about others, and how to glorify God.

That is admirable!

It is a powerful thing to watch somebody that is suffering be optimistic about their faith and talk openly about how God has blessed them.  It is powerful because it is not what people in these situations usually do.

As it says in John 1:5:

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” 

Over the course of the next 3 days, as we progress through our study on the book of Philippians, we will turn our focus to the subject of humility.

Humility is defined as, “Genuine gratitude and lack of arrogance, a modest view of one’s self.”  One way to practice humility is to get in the practice of counting our blessings and thanking God for them.  Another way is to take the focus off ourselves and put it on God.

Jesus personified humility.  In Mark 10:17, a man ran up to Jesus, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Before answering the man’s question, Jesus replied:

“Why do you call Me good?  No one is good except God alone.” – Mark 10:18.

What an example of humility!

We can glorify God during times of adversity by taking the focus off ourselves and putting it on God.  With a thankful and sincere heart, we can choose to let God’s light shine in us, even during the most difficult times in our lives. 

The darker the situation, the brighter God’s light will shine, if we allow Him to work in our lives.

When we seek to glorify Him and not ourselves, like Paul, our adversity can help spread the gospel. 



Counting one's blessings and taking focus off of oneself is great advice.