Ephesians 1:27-30

Last week, Sharon and I celebrated 27 years of being married. My boss told me that 25 is the silver anniversary. Apparently, the jewelry stores have convinced consumers that silver must be purchased to commemorate that many years together. I bought Sharon and rose, then we went out to a steak house in Sandusky, after which we walked around the mall and got our pictures taken in a photo booth. Not so exciting, but we enjoyed our time together.

Speaking of gifts, how long has it been since God saved you. For some of us it has been quite a few years. What should be given to each of us as a gift after so many years? As you read these verses at the end of the first chapter, you may be surprised at the gift that God gave to the Philippians. We will see that in the last two verses.

Before getting to the gifts of God, Paul gives the Philippian believers (and us) incentive to do two things for the Lord. The first is to live for Christ (27-28) and the second is to suffer for Christ (29-30).

  1. Live for Christ (27-28).

    What does it mean to live for Christ?

    “The words ‘conduct yourselves’ translate a political word which would mean much to the Philippian believers. Literally it means ‘live as citizens.’ Because Philippi was a Roman colony, the Christian inhabitants of the city would appreciate Paul’s use of that verb” (Lightner 652).

    Hendriksen uses this translation: “Only exercise your citizenship in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Hendriksen 80). No doubt, the Philippians were proud of their citizenship as Roman colonists. It was something that not all people had. Paul, then, wanted them to use their citizenship for the Lord’s purposes.

    We, Americans, have certain rights as citizens. We are free to practice religion, speak without government intervention, and protection from unlawful searches into our homes (among other things).

    How should we use our privileges as citizens in this country and around the world? How should we live our lives? Paul gives us four ways to live our lives.

    a. Be worthy of the gospel (27).

    What is the gospel?

    gospel – “It is the glad news of salvation which God addresses to a world lost in sin. Not what we must do but what God (in Christ) has done for us is the most prominent part of that news” (Hendriksen 81).

    Add to this the change of life that happens as a result of what God has done for us. He makes sinners into holy people dedicated to Him.

    How can we live worthy of the gospel?

    worthy – Living worthy of the gospel means that our lives reflect the change that God has made in us. This means not living in such a way that detracts from the gospel message. The way that we live at home, work, or play should always be worthy of the gospel message?

    b. Be worthy regardless of who is with you (27).

    In previous verses, Paul was unsure whether he would make it to Philippi because of his imprisonment. He hope he would but wasn’t sure. Nonetheless, he wanted the Philippian believers to live worthy of the gospel whether he was there or not. They needed to take the responsibility seriously no mater who was with them.

    Have you ever felt like living differently when you are alone than when you are with others? Sometimes pastors only see the best side of people. But should this be the case, or should we always live in a way that glorifies God? I think we know the answer.

    c. Be worthy while working together (27).

    While I was at Morrow Bible Church, someone told me that he liked individual sports better than team sports. He suggested that this gave better opportunity for one-on-one relationships and opportunities to share the gospel. While that can be true, there is much to be learned from working together as a team.

    Paul here “suggests a joint effort, like that of an athletic team” (Lightner 652) and exhorts them to do two things.

    stand fast – They were to stand fast like soldiers holding back the enemy from entering the castle. This reminds me of the children’s game Red Rover. The team is only as strong as its weakest link. But when others stand together with the other team members, they are fortified and helped to stand against the opposition.

    Christians should not give in to temptation but should stand fast in the truths of the Scriptures resting on the promises of God.

    striving together – They were to strive together for the faith of the gospel. This again is a team effort. The Church is not just a bunch of individuals doing things alone. It is a body of believers who work together for the spread of the gospel, the discipling of believers, and the glory of God.

    How are you working with others in this church to further God’s work? It may take a while to think through, but we need to consider what we can do together to further the gospel in our area.

    d. Be worthy without fear (28).

    Paul told the Philippian believers to live worthy lives without being terrified.

    terrified – “to frighten, startle, terrify. The metaphor is from a timid horse (Lightfoot). Perhaps an allusion to Cassius who at the battle of Philippi committed suicide at the fear of defeat” (Reinecker 548). Think also of King Saul.

    What would cause Christians to be terrified?

    If you consider some of the suffering that Paul faces and that other Christians have faced, there are plenty of terrifying events that could cause nightmares. But Paul wanted them to be undaunted by the events that could or had happened to him or them.

    adversaries – Paul had faced adversaries on Philippi who were fortune tellers, merchants, and city officials. But in Philippians 3:18-19, he describes enemies who once seemed like believers but had become “enemies of the cross of Christ.” The truth is that adversaries can come from a variety of sources.

    What would the results of their fearlessness be?

    When the Christian believers stood fast and worked together for the gospel, they would face opposition without fear. That is called intrepidity.

    intrepidity – “undaunted courage” (Hendriksen 89) “resolute fearlessness, fortitude, and endurance” (Miriam Webster)

    This is the God-given ability to stand up against opposition whatever happens. Paul says that their response would show their opponents their own coming destruction and would give the believers assurance of their own salvation from God.

    How do we get this courage?

    that from God – “If intrepidity were merely a homemade article, a state of mind into which a person enters without divine assistance, it would prove nothing as to salvation. But… such fearlessness can and must be considered a gift of God, the product of his Spirit working in the heart” (Hendriksen 89-90).

    Summary: There is a lot that is expected of believers. (1) We are to be worthy of the gospel in our daily lives. (2) We are to be worthy regardless of who is with us. (3) We are to live worthy lives together with other believers. (4) We are to live worthy lives without fear.

    When you consider all of this, it would be easy to scream, “I can’t do it!” And you would be right. None of us can do these things in our own strength. But with God’s help we can. Will you trust Him to help you to live a life worthy of the gospel?

  2. Suffer for Christ (29-30).

    If you were asked what you enjoyed most about being a Christian, what would you say? You might mention peace with God, strength during tribulation, answered prayers, or God’s provision. But would you include suffering? Paul tells us here to be ready for suffering.

    a. Be ready to suffer as God’s will (29).

    It is a gift.

    Every college student knows the meaning of the word grant. When struggling to pay for their college tuition, needy students often apply for a government grant to pay for some or all of their bill. I know of a student at a Christian college who was given an anonymous gift to pay her school bill. When she wrote a thank you letter to the donor, he mentioned that no other person had ever written him a thank you letter. He later paid off her whole college education.

    The word used here is ἐχαρίσθη which means “to gratify; to bestow, in kindness, grant as a free favor” (Mounce). It is the idea of giving a gift without strings attached.

    Some examples of this word in the New Testament:

    Luke 7:21 – “And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.”

    Luke 7:42 – “And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

    Acts 27:24 – “saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’”

    1 Cor. 2:12 – “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

    In each of these examples, the gift was given freely to someone. With that in mind, let’s look at the gifts Paul mentions in verse 29. One gift is suffering, but another is mentioned first.

    God’s grants to us the gift of faith.

    When we think of our faith, we often emphasize the word our. We have the idea that God was inactive until we flipped the switch and believed. This verses (among others) indicates that this was not the case. God granted us the ability to believe in Him.

    Compare the following verses:

    Eph. 2:8 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

    Philp. 1:29 – “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

    “Whether or not one regards Eph. 2:8 as proof … that such faith is God’s gift, the conclusion is at any rate inescapable here in Phil. 1:29 faith — not only in its inception but also in its continued activity — is so regarded. It is one and the same time God’s gift and man’s responsibility” (Hendriksen 90).

    While we want to focus on what we did when we were saved, we should bow our heads and be thankful that the Lord convicted us of our sin, showed us the truth of the gospel, and brought us to the place where we would believe. God gave us all of this.

    God grants to us the gift of suffering.

    Once again, we see that God has granted not only the ability to believe but also the opportunity to suffer for Jesus’ sake. “Suffering for Christ was not to be considered accidental or divine punishment” (Lightner 652). When other believers have faced suffering, God knew about it and even had a hand in it for his divine purposes. Think of Job, Jesus, and the disciples. God used their suffering to accomplish His purposes.

    So should we dance and shout and be looking for suffering?

    “Now suffering is not a privilege in itself. One should not court suffering. But suffering in behalf of Christ, in the interest of him and his gospel is different. Such suffering is indeed a blessing, a gracious privilege (Acts 5:41)” (Hendriksen 90).

    When suffering comes into your life, and it is as a result of standing firm for the Lord and working together for the gospel, be reminded that this is part of God’s will for you. Accept it and consider it an honor to suffer for the Lord who died for you.

    b. Be ready to suffer as others have (30).

    Who else had suffered?

    They had seen Paul’s suffering at the beginning and had heard of his present suffering. “In Philippi Paul had been … slandered, mobbed, stripped, flogged, thrown into a dungeon, his feet locked in gruesome stocks” (Hendriksen 91). And at the present time, he was in prison because of his stand for Christ.

    Paul’s example of suffering for Christ was something that these early believers would eventually face. This must have been a fearful proposition as Paul had been mistreated while in Philippi for only a few days. They lived in Philippi and would have to face it in their own home town.

    Where would the suffering come from?

    “The Philippians, vexed in a variety of ways by idol-and-emperor-worshippers, legalistic Judaists, paganistic sensualists, quarreling church-members, all of these the result of Satanic influence, were engaged in the same conflict. The conflict is the same because at bottom the arch-enemy is the same!” (Hendriksen 91)

    Remember that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). This might help us to not hate the people involved but to hate the wicked one who stirs them up.

    Consider how the early church responded to suffering.

    Matt. 5:11-12 – “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    Acts 5:41 – “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

    Suffering, though allowed by God, is many times a result of the enemy’s plans. He wants to destroy the work of God in us and in those we are trying to reach for Christ. As you face this suffering for the Lord, recognize that other have endured it and been faithful. Then trust the Lord for the strength to endure.


These four verses are filled with truths that may not be easy to handle. We are to live for the Lord. We are to suffer for the Lord. Are you willing to do both? With God’s help and the example of faithful Christians of the past, we can do it. And some day, our faithfulness to the Lord on earth will be rewarded in heaven.


Chafer, Lewis Sperry, “Suffering,” Systematic Theology Doctrinal Summarization, Binghamton: Vail-Ballou Press, 1948, pp. 297-300.

Hendriksen, William, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994, pp. 80-92.

Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians,” Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, p. 652.

Mounce, Bill, χαρίζομαι, as viewed at https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/charizomai on 9/4/2022.

Mounce, Bill, πολιτεύομαι , as viewed at https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/politeuomai on 8/28/2022.

Moule, H. C. G., The Epistle to the Philippians, Cambridge: The University Press, 1889, pp. 59-60.

Rienecker, Fritz and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976, p. 548.

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