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Read Introduction to Philippians


“Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”


Paul’s main concern was that the Philippian church would not lose its testimony and impact on the non-Christian world. In verse 15, he said that we are to illumine the world like lights.

“holding fast the word of life”

“Holding fast” means to give concentrated attention to something. It also can mean “hold out” as a gift to the needy. The use of this word in secular Greek was for offering wine to a guest at a banquet. This is the offer of a message. “The word of life” is the Word of God, which produces life. It is the Word of God that has life. It is a life-giving Word.

“so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ “

“The day of Christ” refers to the day we will meet the Lord when He comes again. One clear point of rejoicing in Scripture is at the judgment seat of Christ. The point of joy will be how many people we have led to Christ. When all the records are presented, then there will be a joy.

“that I have not run in vain or labored in vain”

“That” is a result clause. We should be result oriented. Paul was. He kept a global view of his life in mind. He constantly looked to the end when he would meet the Lord. He was concerned about how the Lord would evaluate his life. The Christian life is a race. The word “run” means to run in a stadium in competition. What are we racing against? The word “vain” means empty. We are racing against an empty life, a wasted life.

The word “labored” means to labor to the point of exhaustion, to the last ounce of strength. We can labor to the point of exhaustion yet still conclude our life in a vacuum.


The believer should pursue results that please the Lord by offering the gospel in clear terms.


If we are to hold forth the Word of God, we need to climb over our petty differences. We need to get on with the task. What other people think about us will not matter when we meet the Lord. It is poor obedience that does only what will be noticed.