In His Letter to the Philippians
Continuing our inquiry into what the Apostle meant by his words "the gospel which I preach", we take in our hands the little letter written by Paul to the Philippians. Although this was one of the last writings of the Apostle - it was written from his imprisonment in Rome shortly before his execution, at the end of a long, full life of ministry and work - we find that he is still speaking of everything as "the gospel". He has not grown out of the gospel, he has not go beyond the gospel. Indeed, at the end he is more than ever aware of the riches of the gospel which are far beyond him.
Here are the references that he makes in this letter to the gospel:
"I thank my God ... for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel ..." (1:3, 5).
"...It is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as, both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers with me of grace" (1:7).
" ... the one [preach Christ] of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel: but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. What then? only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice" (1:16 -18).
"But I know the proof of him that, as a child serveth a father, so he served me in furtherance of the gospel" (2:22).
"Yea, I beseech thee also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they labored with me in the gospel ..." (4:3).
"I can do all things in Him that strengthened me. Howbeit ye did well, that ye had fellowship with me in my affliction. And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving, but ye only ..." (4:13-15)
You see there is a good deal about the gospel in this little letter. I say "little" letter. This letter is like a beautiful jewel in the crown of Jesus Christ, or like a beautiful pearl whose colors are the result of exquisite pain and suffering. It is something very costly and very precious. So far as actual chapters and verses are concerned, it is small. It is one of the smallest of Paul's letters, but in its intrinsic values and worth it is immense; and as a real setting forth of what the gospel is, there are few, if any, thins in the New Testament to be compared with it. What we really come to in this letter is not only a setting forth of what the gospel is in truth, but an example of what the gospel is in effect. Look at it again, dwell upon it with openness of heart, and I think you verdict will be - it surely should be - 'Well, if that is the gospel, give me the gospel! If that is the gospel, it is something worth having!' That surely is the effect of reading this little letter. It is a wonderful example of the gospel in expression.
(continued with # 26 - (The Letter of the Joy of Triumph)