Be Like Christ
1Therefore if there is any encouragement and comfort in Christ [as there certainly is in abundance], if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship [that we share] in the Spirit, if [there is] any [great depth of] affection and compassion, 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love [toward one another], knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose [and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ]. 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves. 4Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Have this same attitude in yourselves which was in Christ Jesus [look to Him as your example in selfless humility], 6who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; 7but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]. 8After He was found in [terms of His] outward appearance as a man [for a divinely-appointed time], He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9For this reason also [because He obeyed and so completely humbled Himself], God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [in submission], of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (sovereign God), to the glory of God the Father.
12So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ]. 13For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.
14Do everything without murmuring or questioning [the providence of God], 15so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness], 16holding out and offering to everyone the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to rejoice greatly because I did not run [my race] in vain nor labor without result. 17But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith [for preaching the message of salvation], still I rejoice and share my joy with you all. 18You too, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.
Timothy and Epaphroditus
19But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may also be encouraged by learning news about you. 20For I have no one else [like him who is] so kindred a spirit who will be genuinely concerned for your [spiritual] welfare. 21For the others [who deserted me after my arrest] all seek [to advance] their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But you know of Timothy’s tested worth and his proven character, that he has served with me to advance the gospel like a son serving with his father. 23Therefore, I hope [that it is His will] to send him immediately, just as soon as I see how my case turns out; 24and I trust [confidently] in the Lord that soon I also will be coming to you. 25However, I thought it necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, [who has been] my brother and companion and fellow soldier, who was also sent as your messenger to take care of my needs. 26For he has been longing for all of you and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27He certainly was sick and close to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28So I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you. 29Welcome him home in the Lord with great joy, and appreciate and honor men like him; 30because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me [which distance prevented you from rendering personally].