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What does “faith of the gospel” mean in Philippians 1:27?

faith of the gospel

Philippians 1:27 states, “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (ESV). To understand the phrase faith of the gospel, we must review both the immediate context and related biblical passages.

The chief theme of Philippians is encouragement. In Philippians 1:27, Paul encourages believers to walk “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (ESV). To walk worthy of the gospel of Christ means that we are “standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (ESV). Believers should strive for the “faith of the gospel.”

Paul’s use of the word of instead of in is key to understanding what the “faith of the gospel” is. When someone speaks about “faith in the gospel,” the emphasis is on personal conviction and trust. Someone with faith in the gospel is convinced that Jesus lived, died, and rose again on the third day (see 1 Corinthians 15:1–4). “Faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27, ESV), however, shifts our focus from personal conviction to the shared faith of all believers. Essentially, the “faith of the gospel” is about the totality of what Christians believe. It has a unifying power. Believers are collectively committed to “all the truths revealed, the duties enjoined, and the blessings promised” in the gospel (Joseph Benson, Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments).

The “faith of the gospel,” then, corresponds to several New Testament passages. For example, in Romans 1:16–17, Paul writes, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (ESV). Through the gospel, God draws both Jews and Gentiles to Himself, creating a body of believers who are not ashamed to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, ESV).

On the church as a body, Paul writes, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:4–6, ESV). As one body, believers should be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3, ESV). This unity of faith and purpose accompanies the faith of the gospel.

Paul says that we should be “striving for” the faith of the gospel. This implies the presence of opposition and the need to strive. In striving for the faith of the gospel, believers should “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24–25, ESV). Mutual love, good works, fellowship, and encouragement are “duties enjoined” by the gospel.

The phrase faith of the gospel reminds believers that faith is more than personal conviction; it is also the shared faith of all believers. It is not “I believe the gospel” but “We believe the gospel” (see John 6:69). Since we hold the same truths and believe the same gospel, we should labor “side by side” (Philippians 1:27, ESV) with our brothers and sisters in Christ for the gospel, maintaining the spirit of love, peace, and unity.

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What does “faith of the gospel” mean in Philippians 1:27?
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This page last updated: May 21, 2024