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Philippians 1:16 – Providence and Persecution

The real quality of a Christian is not seen when times are ideal; rather, when the going is rough – then a person’s true character is revealed.

When Paul pens the letter to the saints in Philippi, he is imprisoned in Rome — a two-year incarceration (Acts 28:30; Philippians 1:13, 17). Great affliction was his (4:14), compounded by the fact that envious brothers attempted to increase his difficulties (1:15-17).

In the midst of such trials, the valiant apostle could say: “I am set for the defense of the gospel” (16). We believe we are safe in saying that the average reader of the English Bible does not catch the full flavor of Paul’s declaration.

The verb “set” in the Greek Testament is keimai, which means to be appointed, or destined (Arndt & Gingrich, Greek Lexicon, p. 428). The word takes on the sense of “to be placed.” Paul was “put in place for the defense of the gospel” (Balz & Schneider, Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, II, p. 280).

The apostle sees his present circumstances as something which was determined by God so that he might defend the message regarding Christ. Yet, not a trace of bitterness is expressed; amazing indeed.

Mark the term “set,” and note: Placed in present circumstances; acknowledgment of providence.