Philippians 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and [in] all judgment;
10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
I was doing my devotions with Steve Gallagher’s “Pressing on Toward the Heavenly Calling,” and today it was focusing on Ephesians 1:1-14, with emphasis on the word perisseuo (Strongs: 4052). It sent me to four other passages to find out more about it, and I got stuck on the above passage in Philippians. Without a doubt, this was today’s piece of truth from God.
I started looking at the word (translated as ‘abound’ in verse 9), then looked at the context of the verse. I became a little confused (which is a sign that there is something to learn: a good thing!) about its coupling of love, knowledge, and judgment. I knew that knowledge and judgment go together, but love? They seemed disconnected to me: two different types of God’s blessings. I no doubt felt this way because of people’s extreme frequency of emphasizing love over knowledge. But in spite of my disagreement with the dichotomy, I lapsed into its confusion at this verse. I began to explore the surrounding passage, and slowly the light began to dawn, and I slowly became more and more excited. God’s Word is marvelous!
There is a sequence of steps here which lead us on the path of sanctification, which is a kind of which the Bible is full (see the Be-attitudes in Matthew 5, 1 Peter 1:5-10, etc.). I looked at it following the progression from Paul’s prayer to holiness, then I followed it back again, then did a word study to check my findings. I will try here to articulate what I found, although many of you may have already found this gem in Scripture.
Here is the first step: abounding and increasing in love. This is the word that started the whole study:
To super abound (in quantity or quality), be in excess, be superfluous; also (transitively) to cause to super abound or excel: — (make, more) abound, (have, have more) abundance (be more) abundant, be the better, enough and to spare, exceed, excel, increase, be left, redound, remain (over and above).
This is extreme love, and the love is agape: the love of 1 Corinthians 13. It is an utter outpouring of yourself for others, complete unselfishness and humility. It is the very picture of Christ, given later in this book (Philippians 2:1-11). To do this is to empty yourself, and no remnant of pride can remain in control with those conditions. You are drawing close to Christ, and He is drawing nigh to you (James 4:8). You are giving out of what you have, giving, giving, becoming a giver, and that works purity in the end (Luke 11:41). Love (in and by Christ) working out righteousness via this path is clinched by the last verse in this passage: “…filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ…”
The next key word is epignosis (Strongs: 1922). It means clear and exact knowledge; knowledge that powerfully influences your lifestyle; knowledge which determines the manifestations of religion (true and undefiled religion) and moral conduct; and which is intimately connected with the personal sympathy, desires, and your heart. In plain Baptist-preacher terms, it is “heart-knowledge” (although I still maintain that it is head-knowledge as much as heart-knowledge). This type of knowledge is crucial to sanctification, and is only available through walking with in the Light of God and His Spirit, which is attained by the previous step: abounding and growing in love. Also coming out of love is judgment, which is translated from aisthesis (Strongs: 144). It means knowledge that has to do with sensation and experience, not just mental (like epignosis). It (as is evidenced by its translation as ‘judgment,’ and by Strongs) also has to do with choosing and discerning. This also requires God’s divine guidance and presence, brought about by showing and growing in love.
The next step is ‘approving things that are excellent.’ Two words: dokimazo (Strongs: 1381), and diaphero(Strongs: 1308. Dokimazo means to try or test, to prove whether something be worthy of receiving, trusting, and relying on. It means to bring out that which is good, not that which is bad (that is peirazo, to tempt). The other one, diaphero, means (in this context) something that has born through and passed the tests. So the phrase ‘approve things that are excellent’ means to test things, seeking out those things that are good and acceptable to God for us to use and rely on. Cross reference this with 1 Thessalonians 5:21. This is clearly dependant upon the previous step: how can we test the goodness of something without Godly knowledge and judgment?
This leads to the next step, one of the most important: becoming ‘sincere and without offense.’ These are the two words: eilikrines (Strongs: 1506), and aproskopos (Strongs: 677). Eilikrines is a beautiful and fascinating word. It means pure, unsullied, free from blot or blemish to such a degree as to bear examination in the full splendor of the sun. It also means clearness or perspicuity of mind or understanding by which one is able to see all things intelligibly, clearly, and proceed without mistake. It means shaken out, cleaned, transparent, pure, and unmingled. Aproskopos means to not stumble or fall in the way of righteousness and having a clear conscience. Think about it! To not fall, to be clear and clean and pure! And it includes: ’till the day of Christ!’ We are not only in this righteous state, but we are in it continuously, and consistently! This is a good goal!
The last step is actually a part of the previous one, with a clarification: ‘Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.’ This tells us that this is more than just a righteousness seen only by God (we get that at salvation), but is truly an actual outworking of righteousness in our lives. It is fruit, springing out from the tree of God’s Holiness, that we take and are filled with. Filled utterly to overflowing! That word ‘filled’ is pleroo (Strongs: 4137), which means literally ‘crammed,’ ‘replete, ‘satisfactorily furnished,’ ‘finished,’ and ‘complete.’ This verse also reminds us whereby we get this righteousness: it is ‘by Jesus Christ.’ It is not by us, nor by any other earthly or heavenly aid: it is by Christ that we gain the victory. It also tells us why we get this great victory: for the same reason that we were created: for the ‘glory and praise of God.’ Not for our glory, but for God’s.
So here is the conclusion and sum of the whole matter: it is crucial to finding righteousness and sanctification for us to love others and to continually increase in that love. It is also crucial that we seek to accurately discern and cleave to good, while shunning evil, by continually drawing closer and closer to the Holy and Majestic Glory of God, yielding to and relishing in His penetrating, purging, convicting, and cleansing light.
With joy and peace in Christ,