Sacrifices of Joy

being -

Meditations on the Epistle to the Philippians

G C Willis.

Contents and Preface   (this file)
Chapter 1 of Philippians
1. Introduction
2. The theme of the Epistle
3. The Signature - Phil. 1:1
4. To all the saints - Phil. 1:1
5. Bishops and Deacons - Phil. 1:1
6. "Grace be unto you, and Peace" - Phil. 1:2
7. Thanksgiving and Prayer - Phil. 1:3-5
8. "Persuaded" - Phil. 1:6
9. "In your heart" - Phil. 1:7
10. His longing and his prayer - Phil. 1:8-11
11. Bonds in Christ - Phil. 1:12-14
12. Preaching Christ: From envy or from love? - Phil. 1:15-18
13. Salvation through Supplication - Phil. 1:19
14. "My earnest expectation" - Phil. 1:20
15. Life . . . Death - Phil. 1:21
16. "What I shall choose" - Phil. 1:21-26
17. Live worthily - Phil. 1:27, 28
18. Suffering for His sake - Phil. 1:29, 30

Chapter 2 of Philippians
19. Mind the one thing - Phil. 2:1, 2
20. Hindrances to minding the one thing - Phil. 2:3, 4
21. The mind in Christ Jesus - Phil. 2:5-7
22. Seven steps downward - Phil. 2:5-8
23. Supremely exalted - Phil. 2:9-11
      Note to Chapter 24 - Phil. 2:12
24. Presence and Absence - Phil. 2:12, 13
25. Results of Cultivating - Phil. 2:14-16
26. "I have not run in vain" - Phil. 2:16-18
27. "All seek their own" - Phil. 2:19-21
28. "A child to a father" - Phil. 2:22-24
29. Epaphroditus - Phil. 2:25-30

Chapter 3 of Philippians
30. "Rejoice in the Lord" - Phil. 3:1, 2
31. Dogs, Evil Workmen, Concision - Phil. 3:2, 3
32. Loss and Profit - Phil. 3:4-7
33. All gains but refuse - Phil. 3:8
34. "That I may know Him" - Phil. 3:9-11
35. The Race - Phil. 3:12-14
36. How minded? - Phil. 3:15,16
37. The victory won - Phil. 3:17-21

Chapter 4 of Philippians
38. A Help or a hindrance? - Phil. 4:1-3
39. Rejoice! - Phil. 4:4-7
40. Think! . . . Do! - Phil. 4:8, 9
41. Initiated - Phil. 4:10-13
42. Full and Running Over - Phil. 4:14-20
43. The Final Greetings - Phil. 4:21-23


These 'Meditations' were prepared at the request of a beloved friend and brother in the Lord, who is now with Christ: and this, as the Epistle tells us, is 'far more better.' They were only intended to appear in the magazine, 'The Steward,' but at the request of several readers they are now being sent forth in a more permanent form.

Most of my life I have loved the Epistle to the Philippians, a love taught me, perhaps, by my Father's love of it. He used to have on his wall the three words from it: KATA SKOPON DIOKO: Down to the Goal I Press! (3:14): a grand motto for any of us!

Whose heart does not thrill at the early verses of the Second Chapter, and the early verses of the Third Chapter? And preparing these Meditations has caused me to love it more dearly than ever. Should they be the means of causing any other, especially you, my dear young Brothers and Sisters, to fall in love with it, my joy will be full.

Another has said, "He must be a man of boundless hardihood who imagines himself to have sounded the depths of a single book, or a single sentence of Scripture." (Vaughan). These Meditations make no pretence at anything of this sort, but perhaps here and there they may point the way to unsounded depths where lie precious treasures still untouched.

I have sought every means available to learn what the Spirit of God would teach from these four precious chapters. I owe an unspeakable debt to many who have laboured in this field before me. Mr. J. N. Darby's, and Mr. William Kelly's translations have been beside me continuously, as well as Mr. Kelly's Lectures on this lovely Book.

Perhaps I owe most of all to Dr. C. J. Vaughan's little book, "St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians with translation, Paraphrase, and Notes, for English Readers." In this book (long out of print) the Greek Text appears at the top of the right hand page, and his own translation at the top of the left hand page; with paraphrase and notes below. I have also Dr. Vaughan's larger book on the same Epistle, written some twenty years earlier; but the sound judgment, and mellowed spirit of his later book, added to his intimate knowledge of Greek, and his ability to make it clear (he was at one time master in Harrow School, and his similar book on Romans is dedicated "To the Sixth Form Past and Present of Harrow School"), these qualities have been of priceless value to me in this work.

I have also had much help from "Pridham on Philippians." Mr. Arthur Pridham was, I believe, another schoolmaster. And often has Canon Baskerville's "Sidelights on the Epistle to the Philippians" thrown 'sidelights' on it for me. Mr. William Lincoln's "Lectures on Philippians" have also proved helpful. A friend in England kindly sent me a mimeographed copy of Mr. Lavington's Lectures on the same Book, which have also helped me. I have constantly referred to Bishop Moule's "Philippian Studies," as well as his smaller book on the same Epistle; and like so many others I owe a great debt to Bishop Lightfoot and Sir William Ramsay: but time would fail to mention all who have given me help in this delightful occupation. In a coming day may they each have their own reward for all that they have ministered.

It is of some such men that Mr. Darby writes: "those men, who, however they may have been outwardly entangled with what was not of their own spirit, and failed in freeing themselves from it, seem to have drunk more deeply of the Spirit of Him who called them, than any since the days of the apostles; men in whose communion I thankfully delight myself, whom I delight to honour." May we think not less highly of them.

Some of my readers will object to the fresh translation that has been attempted, and I truly sympathise with them in this. I would far rather have stuck entirely to the grand old Authorised Version throughout. One well qualified to judge, says of it: "Taken as a whole, it is the most perfect translation of any book I have ever read."

Why, then, attempt to use something fresh? There are several reasons. First, it is a most serious matter to undertake to expound the Word of God at all: and, it seems to me, that the one who does venture to make the attempt is responsible, to the very best of his ability, to seek to ascertain exactly what the Spirit of God is telling us in the Scripture before us.

Again, since the Authorised Version was prepared; indeed, since Mr. Darby and Mr. Kelly made their translations; not only have fresh manuscripts been found that help to give us a more accurate Greek Text, but untold numbers of secular manuscripts of approximately the same date as the New Testament, and in the same style, have come to light, and these throw most valuable and most interesting light on the meaning of many Greek words in the New Testament. For instance, to me, it throws wonderful light on Phil. 2:12, to find that the word translated "work out" in our Authorised Version, and also in Mr. Darby's and Mr. Kelly's translations, was commonly used, at the time the New Testament was written, to mean to cultivate a garden, or allotment.

Also, as I recall the pleasure I had as a child, when I learned enough French to read the New Testament, to find the same old truths come to me in a new dress, that often caused me to see them in an entirely fresh light: it is my hope that some of my readers may find similar pleasure in seeing these dear familiar passages come to them in a new way, yet still remain the very same Scriptures they know and love. I have used every effort to try and present the words in as accurate a translation as possible, regardless of style. As you will see, at the beginning of each chapter of this book the Authorised Version is quoted for the portion under consideration, and below, in different type the literal translation that has been attempted, so it will always be easy to compare them.

Perhaps none will realize the shortcomings of these Meditations so much as the writer; but such as they are I commend them to God and to His grace, that in His mercy He may accept them, and use them for His own Glory, and for food for some of His sheep and lambs: for, the whole Flock, not any party, has been in view in their preparation.

G. Christopher Willis,

Sandakan, 12th September, 1963.