Paul's Apparent Appathy Toward Motives (Philippians 1:14-18)

(Micah Bush) #1

In going through Philippians, both on my own and as part of a Bible study, I’ve had difficulty with Philippians 1:14-18a:

"And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word.

“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice” (ESV).

Something about this attitude seems off, especially considering that Paul goes on in chapter 2 to exhort the Philippians to “do nothing out of selfish ambition.” I expect such a utilitarian sentiment from modern-day teachers who are most interested in maximizing their audiences, not from an apostle who wrote half of the New Testament as part of his efforts to promote sound doctrine and Christ-like living. Is Paul really so foolish as to not realize that corruption and false doctrines are more likely to creep in when people preach out of selfish ambition? Or is there some other angle to this that I’m not seeing?

(SeanO) #2

@MicahB Paul is not condoning their false motives, but rather declaring that as long as Christ is preached he rejoices because the Gospel is the power of salvation to all who believe. I actually think Jesus sets a precedent for this same attitude towards hypocritical teachers. Do not imitate them, but if they are teaching the Word you should obey it if taught correctly.

Matthew 23:1-4 - Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

Imagine a Church teaching the truth that is growing quickly. A person may mimic what is being taught in order to get money / power while still teaching the truth. I agree that may lead to false doctrine more quickly, but I think Paul is more so dealing with the reality that was before him than making any suggestions about what would be optimal.

(Jimmy Sellers) #3

This is a verse that I have wrestled with in my life also. I have come to understood this verse as a verse that confirmed the power of God’s word and not the power of the person or the method of its delivery.
I use to wonder would you salvation experience be any less real or of any less value if you found that the person/sermon/encounter was delivered by a charlatan? I think Paul’s answer is no. I don’t think that he is being apathic he is just acknowledging the realty of the day that the selfish motives of men will be trumped by the Gospel. We have the same situation today. One that comes to mind is the Jim Baker story, PTL ministries.

1 Like