Re: Trembling at the threshold of Philippians 1:18

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Thu Aug 28 1997 - 01:05:16 EDT

Well put, Jim. Another way of saying it is, the ends don't justify the
means. I recall that Moses struck the rock and water came out. Some
might have thought that what he did in striking the rock was justified
because the consequence was the same as when he spoke to the rock, i.e.,
blessed with water coming forth. Yet, Scripture tells us he was
forbidden from entering the promised land because of his disobedience

The point is God's power and grace can bring good in spite of our
weaknesses and disobedience, and we dare not deduce from the results that
our behavior in the process is condoned.

A lot of what is being done these days claims biblical support, but as
you rightly address, often the support is from misinference.

Rather, the point of the whole verse, particularly in the context of the
whole epistle, is declared sufficiently by the rest of the verse:


In spite of the motives of others, whether good or evil, Paul had learned
to rejoice and he would continue to rejoice because of the good he saw
coming out of it. Rather than deduce that the motives or methods of
evangelism don't matter, let's conclude what Scripture tells us, that we
should learn to rejoice in all things. God is indeed at work!

Paul S. Dixon, Pastor
Ladd Hill Bible Church
Wilsonville, Oregon

On Wed, 27 Aug 1997 23:03:13 +0100 Jim Beale <> writes:
> (Philippians 1:18, MT)
>Although there are no grammatical difficulties with this verse (I
>don't think!) perhaps there is a contextual one. I think we've seen
>this verse abused in recent days. And I dislike the twisting of
>Scripture to any end to which it is not intended, even if that end
>is a good one. Exegetical method is more general and hence more
>controlling than any particular conclusion.
>Acceptance of a method because a true conclusion happens to stand
>at the end of it is foolish. Fallacious argument forms such as
> "If a, then b; b, therefore a" (affirming the consequent)
>can lead to true conclusions, e.g.,
> "If Milton wrote _Paradise Lost_, then he was a great author;
> Milton was a great author,
> therefore he wrote _Paradise Lost_."
>But they aren't guaranteed to do so:
> "If Milton wrote _Hamlet_, then he was a great author;
> Milton was a great author,
> therefore he wrote _Hamlet_."
>As I said, the verse seems to present no grammatical difficulties at
>all. The contrast between PROFASIS and ALHQEIA seems to indicate
>the motives from which the gospel was preached. Even the *briefest*
>glance at the context is sufficient to confirm this:
>There are those who preach from the motives of envy and strife and
>others who preach from goodwill (v. 15). hH EUDOKIA is as clear as
>a bell in indicating that the motive of those who preach the gospel
>is in view. On the flip side, the intention of the others is to
>increase Paul's affliction (v. 16). Some preach in order to cause
>injury to Paul; the others love Paul and preach the gospel in order
>to carry on his work.
>And so, this passage is only talking of the motivation of some small
>number of people who were preaching the gospel in Paul's day. If we
>generalize the underlying principles involved in the passage, we might
>say that even if those who are opposed to the gospel happen to declare
>the gospel out of spite, or some other false motive, that does not
>negate the power of the gospel.
>I have some reason to believe that a professor of history at the
>University of Pennsylvania read Jonathan Edwards' sermon, _Sinners in
>the Hands of an Angry God_, to his class in order to show how harsh
>and disagreeable the preaching of the Puritans was. Nevertheless,
>in spite of his *evil* intention, at least one person in the class was
>converted to Christianity.
>Now, in my opinion, it is exegetically monstrous to view this text
>as saying anything about _how_ the gospel ought to be preached. There
>is simply no mention of the form in which the gospel should be
>presented. We are presented with a historical situation and motives.
>>From this logical base, one cannot validly deduce anything concerning
>the form in which the message ought to be cast. Therefore, I'd say
>that it is an exegetical fallacy (non sequitir) to conclude that
>Philippians 1:18 authorizes just any form of the preaching of the
>gospel whatever (e.g. spamming).
>And I would like to add, by way of a personal note, that I'm quite
>evangelical. I'm all for the preaching of the gospel, and the
>evangelization of the lost. I think the Scripture is abundantly
>clear in commanding all Christians to be salt and light, and to
>preach the gospel as we go about our daily lives. I've been known to
>step out of my comfort zone and do a bit of door-to-door evangelism.
>I just happen to think that there is a right way to do it (always ask
>permission) and many wrong ways.
>Philippians 1:18 does not justify spamming or hitting people over the
>head with a large family Bible or any other form of rude obnoxious
>Christian behavior. Paul is quite concerned the proper behavior of
>Christians that the Word of God may not be blasphemed, that those who
>oppose Christianity may have nothing evil to say of Christians (cf.
>Titus 2:5,8).
>In Christ,
>Jim Beale
> _/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/
> The worth and excellence of a soul is to
> be measured by the object of its love.
> ~ Henry Scougal
> _/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/_/

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