Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Philippians (page 1 of 3)

Coming Soon!

The third volume of the “… for Pastors” commentaries is almost ready for release. Please pray God will superintend the final processes and use this volume for His glory.

Here are some endorsements:

  • “John Kitchen’s Philippians for Pastors is thoroughly done, theologically informed, exegetically sound, and hermeneutically thoughtful. Suggestions for digging deeper and ministry maxims are sprinkled throughout the text. This commentary will make a fine addition to the library of any pastor or serious student of the Bible.” George Gianoulis, Professor Emeritus of Greek and New Testament, Crown College
  • “Dr. Kitchen’s outstanding Philippians commentary balances sound exegesis with practical pastoral insights and applications. Any pastor seeking to faithfully proclaim and apply the truth of Philippians will find this commentary extremely valuable.” Steven F. Pace, Senior Pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Lancaster, SC
  • “There are easier things to find than a busy pastor conversant with the Greek New Testament. But rarer still is that pastor who not only can make his way through the original language but can comfortably weigh interpretive options and teach others. Usually, one needs to buy both an upper middle-level exegetical commentary, and a pastoral exposition, breathing a warmer devotional tone. Surprisingly, John Kitchen has managed to bring both together in this new commentary.” Matthew Fisher, Lecturer in Biblical Theology, St. Petersburg Christian University, St. Petersburg, Russia

Discovering Joy in Contentment

The Way We Think

In the design and plan of God the mind is at the center of all human experience (cf. Prov. 4:23;  Matt. 12:34-35; Mark 7:20-23), and of our relationship to our Creator. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is one line of evidence that powerfully makes this point. Repeatedly and in a variety of ways God, though Paul, emphasizes the significance and power of not just what we think about, but how we think. With the rest of Scripture it calls us not just to Christian thoughts, but to a Christian mind.

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The entire letter might we outlined (even if a bit overly simplistically) around this theme:

  • A United Mind. (1)
    • United in prayer. (1:1-11)
    • United in gospel witness. (1:12-17)
    • United in suffering and serving. (1:18-30)
  • An Unselfish Mind. (2)
    • The example of Christ. (2:1-11)
    • The example of Christ’s servants. (2:12-30)
  • An Undistracted Mind. (3)
    • Undistracted by the past. (3:1-7)
    • Undistracted from Christ. (3:8-16)
    • Undistracted from hope. (3:17-21)
  • An Undivided Mind. (4)
    • Undivided in fellowship. (4:2-3)
    • Undivided in worry. (4:4-9)
    • Undivided in contentment. (4:10-23)

The high point of all this focus upon the centrality of the mind is in Philippians 2:5: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (NKJV).

But Paul is pervasive throughout the letter in making this point. It comes to a beautiful crescendo later in the letter, in what is an encyclopedic call to the way we are to think, as enabled by God through His Spirit: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (4:8, ESV).

As I thought about this beautiful, poetic expression of what the mind of Christ looks like in His people, I thought of how remarkably different is the standard way of thinking in our world. So I wondered, how would the world (and its proponents) write their call to a way of thinking that represents the loves and commitments of the world-system. I think it might go something like this: “Finally, sad comrades, whatever is grimly possible (however unlikely it might be), whatever is degraded, dark and depressing, whatever is askew and cockeyed, whatever is vile, whatever is gruesome, whatever is deplorable, if there is anything wrong, if there is anything that can be complained about, think about these things.”

Hold those two ways of thinking over against one another. If the disposition of the heart is largely established by the direction and devotion of the mind, then is it any wonder the world and its people are as sad and depressed as they so often seem to be. But we must also ask: Does this in some way explain why so many of us who bear the name of Christ find ourselves in such the sad, depressed and anxious state in which we too seem to pass through this world?

May God grant us “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) and thus enable us to experience relationship to Him and to His world in a way that is full of the joy of the Lord.

What is Humility?

“… in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:4)

Humble

“The biblical view of humility is precisely not feigned or groveling, nor a sanctimonious or pathetic lack of self-esteem, but rather a mark of moral strength and integrity. It involves an unadorned acknowledgement of one’s own creaturely inadequacies, and entrusting one’s fortunes to God rather than to one’s own abilities or resources. … Humility has … an ‘ex-centric’ orientation, taking its focus outside oneself, and finding its power in the power of God.” (Markus Bockmuehl, The Epistle to the Philippians, p.110)

Humility “is simply the sense of entire nothingness which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all.” (Andrew Murray, Humility, p.14)

A Writing Update

Let me give you a brief update on what is happening in the world of my writing ministry. I am delighted to announce that Kress Biblical Resources has agreed to continue the series of New Testament commentaries they have been undertaking with me.

The current titles are:

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The next volume will be Philippians for Pastors. I have been working on this commentary for years and am excited by what God has been showing me from the text of this magnificent New Testament epistle. My deadline for submission is June 1, 2016 with release sometime after that as their publication schedule will dictate.

Would you pray with me and for me as I use these next six months to refine, hone, rework, edit and proof the manuscript? I will very much appreciate your intercession on my behalf!

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