Useful Bible Studies > Philippians Commentary > chapter 2

Paul’s life, as a ‘drink-offering’

Philippians 2:17

Paul knew that his life was in danger (1:20). He had many enemies because of his bold work to declare the gospel (God’s message about Christ). He himself was not afraid to die. He knew that he had a much better home in heaven, with Christ (1:23). However, he still needed to teach the Christians what their reaction should be to news of his death.

So, Paul described the sacrifices that the priests offered to God at the temple (the house of God in Jerusalem). Those sacrifices were animals, and with them the priests offered special gifts of flour, oil and wine (Numbers 15:1-10). They poured out that wine to give it to God (Numbers 28:7). Such a gift of wine is called a libation or drink-offering. We must not consider that as a waste of that wine: we do not waste anything if we give it to God.

Paul explained that the faith (belief and trust in God) of the Christians was like a sacrifice. Like the animals, God had provided that faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) so that the Christians could offer it to him. When they did that, their faith would please God (Hebrews 11:6).

However, like the wine with the sacrifices, it was right that there should be other gifts to God, too. So, even as the priests poured out the wine, Paul might have to offer his own life back to God, too (compare Mark 10:38-39). He urged the Christians not to think of that as a waste of his life; rather, it was a gift to God. Paul was glad to offer such a gift – especially because he gave his life to help other people. Their faith was the result of Paul’s work to declare the gospel to them (Romans 10:14-17). Paul was glad to do that work, even as now he willingly offered his own life back to God.

Next part: Joy in troubles (Philippians 2:18)


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