- Paul encourages the Philippian Saints to follow Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
“By appealing his rights of Roman citizenship, Paul had been brought to Rome to stand trial before Nero’s court. There in a hired residence near the Imperial Palace on the Palatine hill, and for two whole years, Paul was confined to house arrest. Whatever motives his enemies had in pressing for the delay of his trial, or if legitimate purposes may account for the wait, Paul used those years to build in Rome the cause of the Master. He was guarded day and night by a sequence of soldiers, many of whom, together with others from the royal household, became convinced by the steady faith and persuasions of Paul that Jesus was indeed the Lord and Redeemer whom they should serve. His preaching in those years was incessant, and his letters to the church never tired.” (Institute Manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, 2nd ed., p. 359)
Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
‘What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in, truth, Christ is preached: q.d. It doth not follow, that these different intentions of the preachers should hinder the spreading of the gospel, and therefore it should not abate either your confidence or mine in the cause of Christ, since, by the overruling providence of God, that is carried on, both by the one and the other; not only by those who in truth preach the word faithfully, from a principle of love, (as before), to the same good intent with myself; but also by those who, though they act (as in Philippians 1:15) out of envy and ill will to me, for base ends under a fair show, yet they occasionally and accidentally, not by any direct causality, do promote the interest of Christ.’ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)
Philippians 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
‘The word “conversation” we now apply almost exclusively to oral discourse, or to talking. But it was not formerly confined to that and is never so used in the Scriptures. It means conduct in general – including, of course, our manner of speaking, but not limited to that – and should be so understood in every place where it occurs in the Bible.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
Philippians 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
“Whereas the spirit of the world divides, the Spirit of God unites. Whereas the spirit of the world encourages divisive competition, the Spirit of God prompts us to look to the needs of others and to cooperate. In short, whereas the spirit of the world celebrates diversity as an end in itself, the Spirit of God calls us to unity in all our diversity.” (Robert L. Millet, Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 124-125.)
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
‘Bridle the passion to speak or write contentiously for personal gain or glory. The Apostle Paul thus counseled the Philippians, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Such high mutual regard would then let us respectfully disagree without being disagreeable.’ (Russell M Nelson, General Conference, April 1989)
Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
‘To acknowledge the scriptural evidence that otherwise perfectly united members of the Godhead are nevertheless separate and distinct beings is not to be guilty of polytheism; it is, rather, part of the great revelation Jesus came to deliver concerning the nature of divine beings. Perhaps the Apostle Paul said it best: “Christ Jesus … being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.’ (Jeffrey R Holland, General Conference, October 2007)
Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
‘This verse needs more exact translation. It should be, But emptied (or,stripped) Himself of His glory by having taken on Him the form of a slave and having been made (or,born) in likeness of men. The “glory” is the “glory which He had with the Father before the world was” ‘ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)
Philippians 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
‘In such a climactic time as the last days, we shall see things both wonderful and awful. Joel and Zephaniah prophesied that the last times would be a “day of gloominess” (Joel 2:2; Zeph. 1:15). Even so, this is all the more reason for us to “shine as lights in the world” (Philip. 2:15). So illuminated, we can better help to gather the Lord’s flock in “the last days” from wherever they have been scattered in the “cloudy and dark day” (Ezek. 30:3; 34:12). Yet even as some things clearly worsen in the world, the true Saints will simply get better.’ (Neal A Maxwell, One More Strain of Praise [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 18.)
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
‘Sometimes we want to have growth without challenges and to develop strength without any struggle. But growth cannot come by taking the easy way. We clearly understand that an athlete who resists rigorous training will never become a world-class athlete. We must be careful that we don’t resent the very things that help us put on the divine nature.
Not one of the trials and tribulations we face is beyond our limits, because we have access to help from the Lord. We can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us.’ (Paul V Johnson, General Conference, April 2011)
- Paul reminds the Colossians that redemption comes only through Christ.
Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Our Savior has redeemed us from the sin of Adam, but what about the effects of our own sins? Since “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23), we are all spiritually dead. Again, our only hope for life is our Savior, who, the prophet Lehi taught, “offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law” (2 Ne. 2:7).
In order to lay claim upon our Savior’s life-giving triumph over the spiritual death we suffer because of our own sins, we must follow the conditions he has prescribed. As he has told us in modern revelation, “I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
“But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I” (D&C 19:16-17). (Dallin H Oaks, “The Light and Life of the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 64-65)
Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
‘Not one of us could have entered this house this evening without being sustained by the power of God. Not one of us could leave this house without guidance, strength and power from him to accomplish it. We have been taught to believe that he is the Creator of all things visible and invisible, whether they be things in the heavens or on the earth, whether they belong to this world or other worlds, and that there is an all wise, all powerful Being, who controls, manipulates and manages all the affairs of the human family, and this is true whether it relates to the world in which we live, to the heavens that are above us, or to other worlds by which we are surrounded. It relates to our bodies and to our spirits, and to all things associated therewith. Hence we are very dependent beings.’ (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses)
Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
‘And by him all things subsist – Or are sustained. The meaning is, that they are kept in the present state; their existence, order, and arrangement are continued by his power. If unsupported by him, they would fall into disorder, or sink back to nothing. If this be the proper interpretation, then it is the ascription to Christ of infinite power – for nothing less could be sufficient to uphold the universe; and of infinite wisdom – for this is needed to preserve the harmonious action of the suns and systems of which it is composed.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
I know that I am not the head of this church… The Lord Jesus Christ is its head. He is its living head. My mission, my chief responsibility, my greatest honor comes in bearing solemn testimony of His living reality. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, who condescended to come into this world of misery, struggle, and pain to touch men’s hearts for good, to teach the way of eternal life, and to give of Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. (Gordon B Hinckley, “News of the Church,” Ensign, Feb. 1996, 76)
Colossians 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;
‘In the hearts of all mankind, of whatever race or station in life, there are inexpressible longings for something they do not now possess. This longing is implanted in man by a loving Creator.
It is God’s design that this longing of the human heart should lead to the one who alone is able to satisfy it. That fulness is found only in Jesus the Christ, the Son of our Eternal Father in Heaven. Paul declared, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.”’ (David B Haight, General Conference, April 1982)
Colossians 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
‘And you, that were sometime alienated – In this work of reconciling heaven and earth, you at Colossae, who were once enemies of God, have been reached. The benefit of that great plan has been extended to you, and it has accomplished in you what it is designed to effect everywhere – to reconcile enemies to God.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Colossians 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
‘Grounded – On a firm foundation;
And settled – Greek, “firm;” as a building is that is founded on a rock; compare Matthew 7:25.
And be not moved away from the hope of the gospel – By the arts of philosophy, and the allurements of sin.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
Colossians 2:5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
‘We have the seed of the gospel word. It is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful. We must seek to be firmly rooted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Colossians 2:6-7). We achieve this conversion by praying, by scripture reading, by serving, and by regularly partaking of the sacrament to always have His Spirit to be with us. We must also seek that mighty change of heart that replaces evil desires and selfish concerns with the love of God and the desire to serve Him and His children.’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 2015)
- Paul teaches the Colossians what they should do as the elect of God.
Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
We need to pray for the gift of love so that those whom we serve will feel our love. Just as Christ’s followers were bound one to another by his love, so too should the members in each ward and branch be “knit together in love” (Col. 2:2). (Joseph B Wirthlin, “Guided by His Exemplary Life,” Ensign, Sept. 1995, 37)
Colossians 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
‘The word “hidden” (apocryphi) is an almost technical word for secret teaching given only to the initiated;’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)
Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
If there be any who nurture in their hearts the poisonous brew of enmity toward another, I plead with you to ask the Lord for strength to forgive. This expression of desire will be of the very substance of your repentance. It may not be easy, and it may not come quickly. But if you will seek it with sincerity and cultivate it, it will come. And even though he whom you have forgiven continues to pursue and threaten you, you will know you have done what you could to effect a reconciliation. There will come into your heart a peace otherwise unattainable. That peace will be the peace of Him who said: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15.) (Gordon B Hinckley, Be Thou an Example [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981], pp. 50-51.)
Colossians 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
‘Which is the bond of perfectness – The bond of all perfection; the thing which will unite all other things, and make them complete,’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
‘Rule in your hearts – Preside in your hearts; sit as umpire there; govern and control you. The word rendered here “rule” – βραβεύετω brabeuetō – is commonly used in reference to the Olympic and other games. It means, to be a director, or arbiter of the public games; to preside over them and preserve order, and to distribute the prizes to the victors. The meaning here is, that the peace which God gives to the soul is to be to us what the brabeutes, or governor at the games was to those who contended there. It is to preside over and govern the mind; to preserve every thing in its place; and to save it from tumult, disorder, and irregularity.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
The scriptures contain many affirmations that hymn singing is a glorious way to worship… When the Lord’s Apostles meet in modern times, the singing of hymns is still part of their meetings. The weekly meetings of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Salt Lake Temple always begin with a hymn. Elder Russell M. Nelson plays the organ accompaniment. The First Presidency, who conduct these meetings, rotate the privilege of selecting the opening song. Most of us record the date each hymn is sung. According to my records, the opening song most frequently sung during the decade of my participation has been “I Need Thee Every Hour” (Hymns, 1985, no. 98). Picture the spiritual impact of a handful of the Lord’s servants singing that song before praying for his guidance in fulfilling their mighty responsibilities.
The veil is very thin in the temples, especially when we join in worshipping through music. At temple dedications I have seen more tears of joy elicited by music than by the spoken word. I have read accounts of angelic choirs joining in these hymns of praise, and I think I have experienced this on several occasions. In dedicatory sessions featuring beautiful and well-trained choirs of about thirty voices, there are times when I have heard what seemed to be ten times thirty voices praising God with a quality and intensity of feeling that can be experienced but not explained. Some who are listening today will know what I mean.
Sacred music has a unique capacity to communicate our feelings of love for the Lord. This kind of communication is a wonderful aid to our worship. Many have difficulty expressing worshipful feelings in words, but all can join in communicating such feelings through the inspired words of our hymns. (Dallin H Oaks, “Worship through Music,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 10)
- Paul encourages Philemon to be forgiving toward Onesimus.
Philemon 1:14 But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.
‘But without thy mind would I do nothing,…. Which shows great modesty and humility in the apostle, that though as such he had an authority, which he could have used, as well as had understanding and judgment how to have used it without consulting Philemon, or having his sense of this affair, yet chose to consult him: and it also shows the strict regard the apostle had to equity and justice, that he would do nothing with another man’s servant without his consent; he would not seem to alienate, or engross another man’s right and property, whatever power he might have, as an apostle, to have retained Onesimus as a minister to him,’ (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)
Philemon 1:16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?
“The church equalized society in a unique fashion. It leveled rich and poor by insisting that wealth was merely an accident and that wealth or appearance must not cause discrimination in worship. (See James 2:1-4.) The gospel created a feeling of brotherhood and emphasized that true achievement was righteousness before God, rather than status with men. Paul and Peter consistently treated the slave as a brother, while asking him to fill his legal obligations to his master. Yet Paul did more than hint at a better way in his short letter appealing for mercy to the master Philemon, insisting that as a missionary he loved the slave as much as the master, both of whom owed their conversion to Paul.” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, “The Church and the Roman Empire,” Ensign, Sept. 1975, 22)