Having been filled

Philippians 1:9 KJV And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

We see Paul in his Epistles, consistently pray for believers and churches. On some occasions, he would state what he prays for them about.

Philippians 1:9-11 is one of such Spirit-inspired prayers recorded for us. Paul here states 3 main points of his prayers for the Philippian church:

  • that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,
  • that you may approve the things that are excellent,
  • that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.

Paul is not making a guesswork. He is not stating things that are only in the realm of probability. This prayer is rooted in a firm and sure foundation which we would see shortly.

Here is it: verse 11 – Being filled with the fruits of righteousness.

In some translations, it looks like Paul is praying that believers be filled with fruits of righteousness as an ongoing process. But what is he really saying?

The grammatical construction of this verse in the original Koine Greek makes it clear. The word πεπληρωμένοι – peplērōmenoi (derived from the verb πληρόω -pleróō – to make full) rendered as “Being filled” in some translations, is not a present continuous verb. Rather, it is a perfect middle/passive participle, which means it could be more clearly rendered as “having been”, “since/because you have been”.

This means that whatever Paul is talking about here has been completed, and that his audience, in this case, believers in the Philippian church (and by extension, all believers in Christ), are passive entities in this transaction, they are recipients of an action by another.

Again, the type of participle we see here is the participle of cause. The causal participle indicates the cause, reason, or ground of the action of the finite verb. The reason why he prays and expects this prayer to be potent, is because, they “having been filled.” They have been filled by the fruit of righteousness. Also, the context further clarifies that the participle is in the passive voice. It tells us about how this filling was accomplished, “by Christ Jesus.” It is not of works. It is not by their performance.

Here, Paul is praying, that which God has worked in the believers by the reason of what he accomplished in them through Christ, be increasingly expressed in and through them.

Paul, would later instruct them how this would happen:

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

He is not saying they should work for the accomplishment or security of their salvation. He is simply saying, “Work out that which God has worked in. Express the fruit of righteousness which is already in you.” He instructs the same thing he prays.

Today, we pray the same prayer for one another, and we receive this same instruction as we are taught the word of God.

The sure foundation of Paul’s prayer is, “having been filled with the fruit of righteousness.”

As we acknowledge every good thing in us in Christ, doing the word, and yielding to the leading of the Spirit, we shall increasingly walk in the reality of this 3-points prayer by Paul in this context (Philippians 1:9-11), increasingly expressing the fruit of righteousness, because we have already been filled with this fruit by Christ Jesus.


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