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Asbury Bible Commentary – B. Paul's Grateful, Affectionate Prayer (1:3–11)
Resources » Asbury Bible Commentary » Part III: The New Testament » PHILIPPIANS » Commentary » I. Introduction (1:1–11) » B. Paul's Grateful, Affectionate Prayer (1:3–11)
B. Paul's Grateful, Affectionate Prayer (1:3–11)

A note of joyous and optimistic realism fills this letter. Paul was confident (v. 6) that God, having [begun] a good work (of saving grace) in them, would tend to its “completion” (its final perfection) until the day of Christ Jesus (either the day Christ returns, or the day the believer meets him in death). Wesley comments, “He who, having justified, hath begun to sanctify you, will carry on this work, till it issue in glory.” The emphasis here is on inaugurated holiness, with the hope of final perfection based on confidence in God's ability and faithfulness.

Paul prays for his readers' abounding holiness in 1:9-11. This is not only typically Pauline, it is a very Wesleyan prayer focusing on the key aspect of Christian holiness: love. Love (agapē) is “the distinctive feature of the Christian character” (Beet, 39). Love is the supreme commandment of God, the highest excellence of biblical religion, and the core of holiness. This love, which originates with the Spirit, is to abound (progressively) in experiential knowledge and insight so that the best of spiritual truth may be tested and proved. This progressive aspect of holiness (“abound” is present tense) is fully as crucial as the instantaneous work. Paul further prays that this abounding love will result in his readers' being found pure and blameless for the day of Christ. Wesley says this means “having a single eye to the very best things, and a pure heart. . . . Holy, unblameable in all things.”

The Greek term translated “pure” means unmixed, having no foreign element. The term blameless (not faultless) means not blameworthy. One is blameless who has pure motives, even though performance may be flawed.

V. 11 completes Paul's prayer, stressing the fact, the means, and the goal of holiness. The fact: having been filled with the fruit of righteousness (righteousness=right relationship); the means: through Jesus Christ; the goal: the glory and praise of God.