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Brad's Blog

Philippians 1:6 In Context: "He Who Began A Good Work In You..."

 "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6


One of the most quoted Bible verses is Philippians 1:6 which says, "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." 

Even though many people know that God begins a good work in us at salvation, most do not know what the good work is. To understand, appreciate, and experience the good work God has started in those who have come to faith in Jesus, we must first understand the historical context of this verse. So let's take a closer look at the context of Philippians 1:6.


I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you
with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-8

The writer of this letter to the Philippian people was Paul. Paul had been given the revelation of grace by the ascended Jesus (Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 3:2; 1 Timothy 1:14) and the mission by Jesus of taking the good news of God's grace to people in cities all over the world (Acts 20:23-24). After taking grace into cities, Paul would start grace-based in these cities consisting of those who responded to the good news of God's grace. One of these cities Paul started a grace-based church in was Philipi.

Paul had a vision of a man in Macedonia begging him to come over to Macedonia to help them. So Paul and his companions of grace traveled to the leading city of Macedonia, Philippi (Acts 16:6-12).

After being in Philippi several days, they went down to the river on the Sabbath (The Jewish Sabbath was from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.) where they expected to find people praying. They came upon a group of women who were in prayer. They began speaking to the women about the good news of God's grace freely given to them in Jesus (Acts 16:13).

One of the women at the river was named Lydia. The Lord opened Lydia's heart to respond to Paul's message (Acts 16:14). Lydia and her family were baptized. She then invited Paul and his companions to her house to stay for awhile (Acts 16:15).

Lydia was originally from the city of Thyatira, which was in Asia (Acts 16;14). But evidently, because of her business in selling purple cloth, she also had a home in Philippi. Philippi was in Europe. So Lydia was about 500 miles from her home town.

Lydia had responded to Paul's message. So what was Paul's message that she responded to? Paul's message was the Lord's message. It was the good news of God's grace that the ascended Jesus had given to him through revelation. It was the message of the new covenant of grace in Jesus blood. It was the message of all that God accomplished for us through Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, and ascension.

Paul was an ambassador of the Lord's message of grace...the new covenant (2 Corinthians 3:3-6:2). It was a message that God was reconciling the world to himself through Jesus, not counting people's sins against them, because they were all counted against Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). It was a message that people would become righteous before God by placing their faith in Jesus. It was a message where Paul proclaimed the forgiveness of sins through Jesus and, by faith, a person could receive God's forgiveness (Acts 13:38-39). It was the message of forgiveness that the ascended Jesus had given Paul to take to people all over the world (Acts 26:17-18). It was a message that produced joy in the hearts of those who heard and responded to it by faith, causing gratitude to overflow from their hearts to God (2 Corinthians 4:15).

This is the message the Lord opened Lydia's heart and the hearts of the women in her family to understand and respond to by placing their faith in Jesus. Through this small group of humble women, the Philippian church began.

The beginning of the Philippian church actually started in the hearts of the women whom the Lord had opened to receive the good news of God's grace. Not only was their response to grace the beginning of the Philippian church, it was also the beginning of God's work in their hearts.

Paul's initial visit to Philippi, where his grace-encounter with Lydia and her household occurred, was in A.D. 52. Soon Paul left, but later returned for a short time. In A.D. 62, Paul wrote a letter to the church in Philippi that had been established in grace through Lydia and her family. In the opening remarks of his letter, Paul writes in Philippians 1:3-8 the following:


I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you
with the affection of Christ Jesus.


In his opening words to the Philippian church, Paul looks back with gratitude, fondness, love, and joy upon those who first responded to the gospel (good news of grace). He recalls the first day they joyfully shared (partnership) in God's grace together. The joy of experiencing God's grace had remained in their hearts since the first day they responded to it all the way up to the time of Paul's writing his letter to them.

Now, along with Paul and his companions, and Lydia and her household, many other Philippian people had come to share in the joy of grace. Paul writes in Philippians  1:7, "...all of you share in God's grace with me." 

It is in this historical context that Philippians 1:6 rests, and can be understood, appreciated, and experienced. As a reminder, Philippians 1:6 says:

...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

With this understanding of the historical context of Philippians 1:6, let's now seek to interpret this verse so we can make proper application as the Spirit inside us gives us understanding. 

First, two questions:

Question #1: Who began a good work in the people of Philippi?

Question #2: What is the work that was begun?

From the historical context of this verse, we know that it was the Lord who opened the hearts of Lydia and her household, along with many others in Philippi, to respond to the good news of God's grace that Paul shared. Therefore, it was the Lord Jesus Christ who had begun the good work of grace in the hearts of those who responded by faith to Paul's message of grace. 

Paul was confident, since it was the Lord Jesus who opened their hearts to respond to God's grace, that Jesus would complete the work of his grace in them. Paul was confident that Jesus would continue his work of grace in the Philippians' hearts until the return of Jesus.

Paul understood the power and the process of grace in a person's heart. He was an example of one whom the Lord's grace powerfully changed, and one whom the Lord's grace was in process of changing. Therefore, he could confidently tell the Philippian people that the work of grace the Lord Jesus had started in their hearts would continue and would eventually be completed.

This certainly must have been an encouragement to the Philippian people. It is an encouragement to us as well.

The Lord will never stop working his grace within us. We need to know this because we all struggle daily...we fail daily. Even though the good news of God's grace initially had a powerful impact on our lives, we are still in process. We know ourselves. We know our weaknesses. We know our struggles...and so does Jesus. Thankfully, he is committed to us in grace.

Until his return, Jesus is committed to continue and complete his work of grace within us that he started on the very first day our hearts responded to his grace by faith. If we are not established in the good news of God's grace and assured of the Lord's commitment to continue and complete his work of grace within our hearts until he returns, we will get down, give up, and eventually go away.

This is what I love about God's grace. His grace goes to work within us. His grace stays with us. His grace never gives up on us. His grace will never leave us. His grace is always working within us to change us. His grace doesn't come at us in condemnation in our failures...our weakness...or our struggles. The Lord, through his grace, works to bring transformation within us over a lifetime.

The Lord is patient with us in this process of transformation produced by grace. His patience will never run out. His patience will last until he returns, gathers us to himself, and then places us into his Kingdom of Grace to enjoy his grace together forever.

Not only does the Lord want us to be established in and assured of his gracious long-term patience with us in our transformation process, but he wants us to express to others the same long-term gracious patience in their transformation process. Rather than getting mad and angry at those in our lives who aren't changing as quickly as we would like them to, such as those in our families, churches, and work places, the Spirit of Jesus wants to develop within us the fruit of his gracious patience toward them. He wants them to be established in and assured of his gracious patience as they experience his gracious patience through us.

I am confident of this, that the Lord who started the good work of grace in you on the very first day he opened your heart to responded to his grace by faith is committed to graciously and patiently continue and complete the work of grace he started in you until he returns. And when he returns, he will gather you to himself, along with all of the others who belong to his family of grace, and place you into his Kingdom of Grace where you will enjoy his grace forever.

Some of those you will be enjoying God's grace with in his Kingdom of Grace will be Lydia, her family, and all the other Philippian people who will share in the joy of God's grace with you forever!

If you would like to learn more about God's grace freely given to us in Jesus and received simply by faith, visit my Home Page.
















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