Philippians 1 NIV

1:1 Paul and Timothy [Timothy had assisted Paul in establishing the church at Philippi and had visited them at least twice since (cf. Acts 19:22; 20:3-4); not a co-author of this letter], servants [Gr. “doulos” meaning “slave”] of Christ Jesus [Paul and Timothy belonged to Jesus and acted in His name], To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

1:2 Grace [unmerited favor of God toward man] and peace [the kind of peace born of reconciliation; note the order: grace and then peace] to you from [the source from which grace and peace flow] God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:3 I thank my God every time I remember [according to Acts 16 we might conclude that Paul’s memories of Philippi (illegally arrested and beaten, imprisoned and humiliated before the people) ought to produce sorrow rather than joy, but those memories caused Paul to rejoice and give thanks] you.

1:4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always [he continually prayed on their behalf] pray with joy [first mention of this little word which will be used repeatedly throughout this letter]

1:5 because of [the specific occasion for his thanksgiving and joy] your partnership [Gr. word “koinoniai” which means “fellowship, sharing, participation”] in the gospel from the first day [from the day Lydia was converted and opened her home to Paul’s missionary team] until now,

1:6 being confident of this, that he [God] who began a good work [refers to the perfecting of character (sanctification) and also to the furtherance of the gospel] in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus [cf. 1 Jn. 3:2].

1:7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart [Paul had a deep and sincere love for the Philippian believers]; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.

1:8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection [Gr. word “splagchnois” is the strongest word in Greek for the feeling of compassion (Rienecker/Rogers)] of Christ Jesus.

1:9 And this is my prayer: that your love [refers to their mutual love for each other and their regard for their fellowman] may abound [overflow] more and more in knowledge [practical, spiritual principles] and depth of insight [refers to moral discernment or perception],

1:10 so that you may be able to discern [wise and careful discrimination of issues of right and wrong, true and false] what is best and may be pure [in relation to God] and blameless [giving no offense to others] until the day of Christ [the coming of Christ should serve as an incentive to holy living],

1:11 filled with the fruit of [the fruit which righteousness produces] righteousness [right standing with God and right doing (Amplified)] that comes through [comes only through our union with Christ (cf. Jn. 15:4-5); as we are in proper union with Christ the Holy Spirit is able to produce the fruit of the Spirit in us (cf. Gal. 5:22-23)] Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.

1:12 Now I want you to know [come to know, learn, or understand], brothers [fellow believers who are members of the same spiritual family by faith in Christ], that what has happened to me [his imprisonment] has really served [in contrast to what might be expected; his imprisonment did not end his missionary activity but rather expanded it for himself and for others] to advance [Gr. “prokope” used to describe the progress of an army or expedition] the gospel [circumstances served to clear the way for the gospel to advance into new areas].

1:13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard [the soldiers to whom Paul was chained; Paul’s imprisonment opened the way for exposing soldiers in the Roman army to the gospel of Christ] and to everyone else [refers to a wide circle in Rome beyond the guard itself] that I am in chains [Paul’s chains gave him contact with the lost] for [Paul was in prison because of his religious convictions and teachings] Christ.

1:14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged [inspired and stimulated to greater evangelistic activity] to speak [in everyday conversations and opportunities] the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

1:15 It is true that some [the brothers mentioned in the previous verse] preach Christ [the issue here was not the substance of their message but rather the motivation that led them to preach it] out of envy and rivalry [some preached from unworthy motives], but others out of goodwill [some preached from worthy motives].

1:16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.

1:17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition [Gr. “eritheia” refers to a self-seeking, ambitious, and competitive spirit], not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

1:18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached [Paul was able to see the bigger picture — Christ was being preached!]. And because of this [the fact that Christ was being preached in spite of the imperfect motives of the preachers] I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,

1:19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance [Paul believed things would work out for the best].

1:20 I eagerly expect [Gr. “apokaradokia” from “apo” (away), “kara” (head), “dokein” (to watch)] and hope that I will in no way be ashamed [cf. Rom. 1:16], but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain [because he would be with Christ].

1:22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!

1:22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!

1:23 I am torn between the two [“hard-pressed from both directions” (NASB); Gr. “senechomai” means “to hem in on both sides”]: I desire to depart [military term for breaking camp] and be with Christ, which is better by far;

1:24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

1:25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain [to remain alongside another], and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,

1:26 so that through my being with you again [when Paul and Philippians see one another again] your joy [Paul’s presence will give them occasion to boast and rejoice in the Lord] in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me [Paul was a living testimony of how Christ can sustain a man in and through the worst of circumstances].

1:27 Whatever happens, conduct [Gr. “politeuesthe” means “to behave as citizens”; cf. Eph. 4:1; Col. 1:10] yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm [like a soldier who will not budge from his post] in one spirit, contending [Gr. “sunathleo” means “to contend or struggle with someone”] as one man [working cooperatively like an athletic team] for the faith of the gospel

1:28 without being frightened [like a startled animal] in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.

1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer [not because of their sin but because of their allegiance to Christ and their commitment to the advancement of the gospel; cf. Jn. 15:18] for him [Paul saw this as a privilege],

1:30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Philippians 2 NIV

2:1 If [Gr. first class conditional statement: should be understood to mean “since” or “in view of the fact”] you have any encouragement [Gr. “paraklesis” can also mean exhortation, comfort] from being united with Christ, if any comfort [may be rendered “consolation”] from his love, if any fellowship [Gr. “koinonia” means participation, association, sharing] with the Spirit [Holy Spirit], if any tenderness [“bowels” (KJV) is tender mercies; sensitivity to the needs and feelings of other people] and compassion [to feel another person’s sorrow or hurt],

2:2 then make my joy complete by [1] being like-minded [“thinking the one thing”; cf. Phil. 2:5], [2] having the same love [the kind of love demonstrated by Jesus], [3] being one in spirit [cf. Phil. 1:27; Jn. 17:22] and [4] purpose [a common goal, namely, to spread the gospel].

2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition [Gr. “eritheia” refers to a self-seeking, ambitious, competitive spirit] or vain [empty] conceit [Gr. “kenodoxia” is literally “empty praise” or boastful pride], but in humility [“lowliness of mind” (KJV); ability to recognize personal insufficiency and God’s sufficiency; recognizes need to depend on God] consider others better than yourselves.

2:4 [cf. Rom. 12:10] Each of you should look [make it your aim] not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus [the ultimate example of true humility]:

2:6 Who, being in very nature [“in the form of” (KJV)] God [a reference to the preexistence of Christ], did not consider equality with God something to be grasped [Jesus did not have to grasp what was already His; Jesus willingly laid aside His heavenly glory or status for our sakes],

2:7 but made himself nothing [Gr. “ekenosen” means that He emptied Himself; He gave up divine privileges; He imposed on Himself certain limitations], taking the very nature of [“the form of” (KJV)] a servant [a slave; one without advantage, without rights, and without privileges], being made in human likeness [He exchanged His kingly robe for the sackcloth of human flesh].

2:8 And being found in appearance [Gr. “schemati”; “in fashion” (KJV)] as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross [the ultimate display of humiliation]!

2:9 Therefore God exalted [through His resurrection and ascension] him [the One despised and rejected and regarded as a criminal] to the highest place and gave him the name [Jesus, the Gr. equivalent of the Heb. Joshua, an abbreviation of Yahweh [Jehovah] is Savior] that is above every name,

2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow [in worship], in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father [cf. Jn. 17:1,5].

2:12 Therefore, my dear friends [an affectionate term; a reminder that the Philippians were dear to Paul], as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out [not “for”] your [plural (indicating that they were to work out their salvation in the context of their relationships with others in the church); they already possessed salvation] salvation [a reference to sanctification] with fear and trembling,

2:13 for it is God who works [through His Holy Spirit who energizes and empowers believers] in you to will [or to want] and to act according to his good purpose [God’s desired unity in the Philippian church].

2:14 Do everything without complaining [cf. 1 Cor. 10:1-5,10; 1 Pet. 4:9] or arguing [may possibly imply “arguing” in court (cf. 1 Cor. 6:1-11)],

2:15 so that [the goal or purpose of the prohibitions of 2:14] you may become [implies a process of development] blameless [expresses what the Christian is to the world (Barclay)] and pure [refers to that which was unmixed and unadulterated; expresses what the Christian is in himself (Barclay)], children of God without fault [refers to what the Christian is in the sight of God] in a crooked [unbelieving] and depraved [refers to an abnormal moral condition or being twisted and misshapen in character and conduct] generation, in which you shine like stars [Gr. “phosteres”] in the universe

2:16 as you hold out [or hold forth; to offer to a lost world] the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing [in vain; empty].

2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice [the prospect of death did not rob Paul of his joy (cf. Phil. 1:21)] with all of you.

2:18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

2:19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy [as his representative; Timothy was always willing to go anywhere; his message was as safe as if Paul had delivered it himself] to you soon, that [the purpose for sending Timothy] I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.

Note: Timothy held a special place in Paul’s life. Paul had enlisted Timothy to accompany him on the second missionary journey while passing through Derbe and Lystra (see Acts 16:1-3). Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father. His grandmother (Lois) and mother (Eunice) were both believers. Thus Timothy was with Paul on the second missionary journey when he founded the church at Philippi. Timothy had also visited the saints at Philippi on at least two other occasions (see Acts 19:22 and 20:3-4).

2:20 I have no one else like him [an expression of Paul’s confidence in Timothy], who takes a genuine interest in your welfare [characteristic of the good minister].

2:21 For everyone [as opposed to Timothy] looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ [Timothy was more “other-centered” than “self-centered”; “In a very real sense, all of us live either in Philippians 1:21 or 2:21!” (Wiersbe)].

2:22 But [conjunction places Timothy’s character in contrast to what Paul mentioned in v. 21] you know [Philippians knew Timothy personally] that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father [served as father and son, side by side] he has served with [preposition “with” shows Paul’s humility (Wuest) and raises Timothy to the position of an equal, a fellow laborer, a fellow messenger (Erdman)] me in the work of the gospel [in the common cause of advancing the gospel of Christ].

2:23 I hope, therefore, to send him [Timothy would bear the news of Paul’s deliverance or death to the Philippians] as soon as I see how things go with me [once he knew the outcome of his trial, which at this time was still uncertain].

2:24 And I am confident [a settled persuasion or conviction] in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

2:25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother [brother in the faith; shared a common sympathy with Paul], fellow worker [shared a common service with Paul , namely, the advancement of the gospel] and fellow soldier [shared a common suffering and danger with Paul ], who is also your messenger [Gr. “apostolos” refers to one entrusted with a mission], whom you sent [acted as the official representative and priestly servant of the entire church at Philippi] to take care of [“minister to” (NAS) from Gr. “leitourgos” which refers to “one who is engaged in priestly service.”] my needs.

Note: Like Timothy, Epaphroditus was a man whose life exemplified the exhortations of Philippians 2:1-4. He was a man who was more “other-centered” than “self-centered.” Epaphroditus, a member of the Philippian church, had been given the responsibility of taking the Philippians’ special love offering to Paul. He had also been charged with the responsibility of staying to minister to Paul’s needs, doing the things that the Philippians could not do themselves because of distance, but that could only be done by one present. Epaphroditus showed kindness to Paul and was concerned for others in his church.

2:26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.

2:27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died [literally means “alongside of a neighbor”; he was next door to death]. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow [death of Epaphroditus would have been almost more than Paul could stand].

2:28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.

2:29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him,

2:30 because [the reason they are to lovingly receive Epaphroditus and hold him in high regard] he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life [Gr. “paraboleuesthai” means to expose one’s self to danger] to make up for the help you could not give me [not a rebuke but a reminder that he was there to do what they could not do for him].

Philippians 4 NIV

4:1 Therefore [connects the last verses of chapter 3 with the first verse of chapter 4], my brothers, you whom I love and long for [reminder of his affection for the Philippian saints], my joy [Philippians were source of joy and gladness to Paul (cf. Phil. 1:3)] and crown [Gr. “stephanos” refers to the crown or garland that was awarded to a victorious athlete at the Greek games], that is how you should stand firm [Gr. “stekete” means to stand fast in the heat of battle when the enemy is coming upon you; Paul urged them to maintain their spiritual position as citizens of heaven, especially in face of persecution from without and error from within] in the Lord, dear friends!

4:2 I plead [ exhort] with [note that Paul listed them in alphabetical order, perhaps to show impartiality] Euodia [name means “prosperous or successful journey,” or, according to some texts, “sweet savor/fragrance”] and I plead [exhort] with Syntyche [name means “pleasant acquaintance, good fortune, or affable”] to agree [be of the same mind; to live in harmony; we are not told the cause of their dissension; must have been at odds a long time since news of their disagreement reached Paul in Rome] with each other in the Lord.

4:3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow [has been interpreted to mean either a proper name (Syzygus) or as a reference to some outstanding saint who Paul felt was capable of helping these two women; some believe this is reference to Epaphroditus], help these women [sadly, these women are remembered because they quarreled; thy failed to live up to the meaning of their names] who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel [had been of great service in furthering the establishment of the Philippian church], along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4:4 Rejoice [keep on rejoicing] in the Lord always [at all times; in all places; in good or bad circumstances; when things look promising; when everything is wrong (cf. Hab. 3:17-18)]. I will say it again: Rejoice!

4:5 Let your gentleness [or reasonableness; “the opposite of stubbornness and thoughtlessness” (Erdman)] be evident to all [not just to some persons; to those within the church and in society at large]. [note the reason and motive for this exhortation…] The Lord is near [the expectation of the Lord’s return should serve as an incentive to holy living].

4:6 Do not be anxious [means “to be pulled in different directions” (Wiersbe)] about anything, but in everything [someone noted that there is nothing too great for God’s power, and nothing too small for His fatherly care], by prayer [the general word for making requests known to the Lord; prayer is the cure for anxiety] and petition [means to ask for things], with thanksgiving [bringing requests to God with an attitude of appreciation for whatever answer He may give], present your requests [refers to particular or specific petitions] to God.

4:7 And the peace of God [the fruit of believing prayer], which transcends all understanding, will guard [stand guard like a soldier] your [cf. Isa. 26:3] hearts [feelings] and your minds [thoughts] in Christ Jesus.

4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true [keep in mind that Satan is a liar (Jn. 8:44) and wants to corrupt our minds with his lies (2 Cor. 11:3)], whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure [refers to moral purity], whatever is lovely [means beautiful or attractive], whatever is admirable [means worth talking about, appealing]—if anything is excellent [that which motivate us to do better] or praiseworthy [worth commending to others]—think [consider; ponder] about such things.

Paul’s goal was to press on toward maturity in Christ. He believed all spiritually mature believers would embrace his way of thinking. Because our thoughts affect how we live and how we interact with others, Paul listed some of the virtues that should dominate believers’ thinking.

Paul urged the Philippian believers to fill their minds with the kind of thoughts that please God and would guide them on the journey toward Christlikeness. Right thinking does not just happen but is the result of filling our hearts and minds with the Word of God (see Ps. 19:7-9; 119:9-16). That is the way we develop a new mind-set that impacts how we live and a biblical worldview that impacts how we view life. Filling our minds with God’s Word will help us to pursue a mature way of thinking and to dwell on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable.

4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice [an exhortation to follow his example (cf. Phil. 3:17)]. And the God of peace will be with you.

4:10 I rejoice [Paul rejoiced specifically because they had sent an offering and Epaphroditus to minister to him] greatly [word used only here in the NT] in the Lord that at last you have renewed [Gr. word means “to sprout or blossom again”] your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned [they had never lost their interest in or concern for him], but you had no opportunity to show it.

4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need [Paul’s joy was not dependent upon whether or not his needs were met], for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances [included the litany of experiences recorded in 2 Cor. 11:23-33].

4:12 I know what it is to be in need [having very little], and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned [means “understanding” or “entering into the secret of” ] the secret of being content in any [particular] and every [general] situation, whether well fed [refers to being full of food] or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want [refers to one who is in serious financial difficulty or in debt].

4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength [enabled Paul to deal with the “every situation” of verse 12].

4:14 Yet it was good of you to share [Paul was truly thankful for their gift and for the ministry and friendship of Epaphroditus] in my troubles.

4:15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days [Paul recalled the past generosity of the Philippians] of your acquaintance with the gospel [they had expressed their thankfulness for and commitment to the gospel from the very beginning, from the day Paul founded the church at Philippi some ten years earlier], when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving [possibly refers to the gift Paul received from Macedonia while he was in Corinth (2 Cor. 11:8-9)], except you only [no other church followed their example];.

4:16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you [the Philippian church was a new assembly of believers when it made these donations] sent me aid again and again when I was in need.

4:17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account [the Philippians benefited spiritually by their giving].

4:18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied [Paul addressed the matter of the personal benefits of the Philippians’ gift; Paul told his Philippian friends that his needs were “amply supplied” by their generous gift (cf. Eph. 3:20-21)], now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

4:19 And my [personal relationship] God will [speaks of certainty] meet [supply] all your needs [both temporal and spiritual] according to his glorious [God will supply their needs in such a way that His glory will be manifested] riches [inexhaustible and boundless] in Christ Jesus .

4:20 To our God and Father be glory [Paul’s earnest desire was for God to be glorified] for ever and ever. Amen.

4:21 Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings.

4:22 All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household [those who worked in Caesar’s household; Paul had likely led these to faith in Christ through his ministry in Rome (cf. Phil. 1:12-14).].

4:23 [a simple benediction…] The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Philippians 3 NIV

3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord [indicates the true sphere of joy]! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again [views include: refers to rejoice; refers to encouragement to live in harmony; refers to previous letters to them; refers to warnings against false teachers], and it is a safeguard for you.

3:2 Watch out for [beware; note three references to the Judaizers whose activity was dangerous, divisive, and subversive (cf. 2 Cor. 11:13)…] those dogs [they followed Paul and barked their contradictory doctrines], those men who do evil [their teaching and activity led people away from God], those mutilators of the flesh [Judaizers believed that circumcision was essential to salvation (Acts 15:1; Galatians 6:12-18); cf. Col. 2:11 re: spiritual “circumcision done by Christ”; Judaizers had also “mutilated” the message of the gospel].

From the time of his dramatic conversion on the Damascus road, Paul committed himself to tell others about Him. In addition to the physical hardships he experienced as he took the gospel to new frontiers, Paul felt the pressure of concern for all the churches (see 2 Cor. 11:28). He often encountered strong opposition from those who sought either to add to Christ’s work on the cross or to subtract from His deity. These individuals wedged their dangerous doctrines into the hearts of new believers and caused divisions in the early church.

Paul warned the Philippian believers to watch out for evil workers or the Judaizers. This subversive group (2 Cor. 11:13) taught that Gentiles had to first become Jews before they could become Christians. They added to Christ’s work by insisting that circumcision was essential to salvation. Paul therefore referred to them as those who mutilate the flesh. Like dogs, the Judaizers followed Paul everywhere he went. They barked their contradictory doctrines and mutilated the message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

3:3 For it is we [those who trust Christ Jesus alone for salvation] who are the circumcision, we who worship [serve] by [under the leadership and power of] the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus [and not in any outward rites], and who put no confidence in [to depend on] the flesh [what we are and can achieve apart from Christ]

3:4 [Paul reinforced his warning against the Judaizers by referring to his own personal testimony] though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more [because of who he was and what he had achieved before coming to faith in Christ]:

Under the old covenant, circumcision was a physical sign that set the Jews apart from the Gentiles. This bodily sign was to be a mark of a spiritual relationship with God. However, after Jesus Christ, physical circumcision was no longer necessary. He made it possible for all who believe in Him as Savior to become part of God’s family. Those who have placed their faith in Christ have had their hearts circumcised by Him (Col. 2:11-12). Unlike the Judaizers who put confidence in their own external achievements, true believers boast or exult only in Christ Jesus and in what He has done to make salvation possible.

The Judaizers placed a great deal of confidence in their personal religious credentials and accomplishments. They mistakenly believed that their religious effort and activity would earn their salvation. However, if religious credentials were the basis for salvation, then Paul had better grounds for confidence in the flesh.

Paul listed several facts about his life that would have qualified him for a place in the covenant people of God according to the Judaizers’ standards. However, after his encounter with Christ, Paul realized that his religious resume had actually kept him from knowing God. Those who depend on their religious credentials will be disappointed.

3:5 [Paul listed seven personal credentials which formed the basis for his boasting in v. 4…] [1] circumcised [the Judaizers were most vocal about this] on the eighth day, [2] of the people of Israel [he was not a proselyte but a true Jew], [3] of the tribe of Benjamin [youngest son of Jacob and his beloved wife, Rachel; the only one of Jacob’s sons who was born in the Promised Land], [4] a Hebrew of Hebrews [a Hebrew from Hebrew parents (pure and unmixed Hebrew stock)]; [5] in regard to the law, a Pharisee [strictest and most law-abiding sect of Judaism; name means “the separated ones”];

3:6 [6] as for zeal, persecuting the church [cf. Acts 8:1; 9:1-2]; [7] as for legalistic righteousness, faultless [Paul kept the demands of the Law (the Mosaic law as interpreted by the Pharisaic tradition)].

Like the Judaizers, many religious people today need to experience a transformation of their way of thinking. Christianity is not about religion or religious activity, but about a relationship with God made possible by Christ’s work on the cross. How arrogant to imagine ourselves standing before God and expecting that our personal religious resume will either please or impress Him.

Isaiah noted that our own works and accomplishments, however good or righteous we imagine them to be, are as filthy rags before God (Isa. 64:6). If following the law, doing good works, and building an impressive resume is how people are made right with God, then Christ died for nothing (Gal. 2:21).

3:7 But whatever [reference to the things (cf. Phil. 3:5-6) which both the Jews and the Judaizers looked to put them in right relationship with God] was to my profit [reference to all of the things mentioned which were a source of enrichment and pride] I now consider [to count, deem, think, account] loss [all of the things that were keeping him from gaining righteousness in Christ] for the sake of Christ.

Paul saw things differently after his conversion. His encounter with Christ led him to rethink all of his Old Testament studies in light of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus. Only then did he understand that all of the things he once considered profitable were actually useless in helping him gain righteousness in Christ. The sum of all his religious activity could not earn him salvation. He learned that right standing with God comes at God’s initiative and by faith in Christ. He therefore abandoned trust in the flesh and external rites and observances and tossed his religious resume into the garbage.

3:8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things [refers to a specific time in the past, probably his conversion when he suffered the confiscation or loss of all things]. I consider them rubbish [can refer either “to human excrement . . . or . . . to the refuse or leavings of a feast, the food thrown away from the table” (Rienecker/Rogers)], that [Paul had a new ambition in life] I may gain Christ [a profitable exchange]

Paul recognized the surpassing value of knowing Christ. All of the things he had once considered valuable he now considered to be a loss by comparison to knowing Christ. For Paul, knowing Christ was indeed a profitable exchange for everything he had lost.

Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who found a pearl of great value. Recognizing the surpassing value of that pearl, the merchant eagerly sold all that he had and bought the pearl (Matt. 13:45-46). Like this merchant, Paul counted everything he had lost as nothing in comparison to what he had gained.

I know many believers who live in places that are hostile to the gospel of Jesus Christ. What convicts and inspires me most is what they have exchanged for the privilege of knowing and following Christ. Many have exchanged personal security. Others have lost careers, property, and family. And yet, I have never heard a single one of these believers utter a complaint. Their lives are a testimony to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ and to the fact that what they have gained far exceeds anything they have lost.

We should make knowing Christ the central goal of our lives and be absolutely determined to accomplish that goal. Knowing Christ is not merely having factual information about Him, but a growing, personal experience with Him that shapes our entire outlook on life.

One way in which we can become better acquainted with Jesus is by spending time in the study of the Bible. While we should not equate knowing the Bible or knowing theology with loving Jesus, we must gain acquaintance with Him in the Bible. We must become so familiar with Christ and know Him so well that we are not duped by counterfeits or by thinking that minimizes who He is or adds to what He did to make provision for our redemption.

3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Prior to his conversion, Paul had thought that his own righteousness and religious credentials were sufficient to gain him access to God. After his conversion, Paul’s thinking underwent major changes. His greatest desire was that he might be found in Christ, not depending on his own righteousness, but in the righteousness that results from placing one’s faith in Christ alone for salvation. Like Paul, we too should want to be found in Him every moment that we live, when we die, when He returns, and at the final judgment.

3:10 I want to know [same word that Paul used in verse 8; means “to know personally through experience.”] Christ [“to know Christ” was the was the deep desire and passion of Paul’s life] and the power of his resurrection [God’s great power was manifested in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead] and the fellowship [means “a joint participation”] of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

After his conversion, knowing Christ became Paul’s greatest ambition in life. While many are content to know about Christ or to be acquainted with facts about His life, Paul’s deepest desire was to know Christ intimately. He wanted to live each day in the power of the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead. Paul also was willing to suffer for Christ who suffered for him. Paul indeed suffered many hardships and trials for the sake of the gospel. And, he expressed a desire to become like Christ in His death, something that Paul did by daily dying to his sinful nature and personal ambitions.

3:11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect [the Greek word used here does not mean “sinless, flawless,” but “spiritually mature”], but I press on [Watchman Nee said that all who aspire to spiritual maturity must maintain Paul’s attitude in Phil. 3:12; picture here is of athlete running a race, straining every nerve and muscle to reach his goal] to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Paul understood that knowing Christ and becoming like Christ is a lifelong process. His journey toward becoming all that he was meant to be began on the day Christ took hold of him on the road to Damascus. Like an athlete running a race, Paul pressed on, straining every muscle to move toward the finish line. Every step carried him closer to spiritual maturity—to Christlikeness. Every believer who aspires to spiritual maturity must maintain Paul’s attitude of pressing on toward the goal of knowing Christ better and better.

3:13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it [Paul was still a learner and understood that he had not arrived]. But one thing I do [Paul focused on a single purpose]: Forgetting what is behind [he did not allow past victories to fill him with pride nor past failures to fill him with fear] and straining [like an athlete expending every ounce of strength to win a race] toward what is ahead,

While Paul was satisfied with Christ, he was never satisfied with his Christian life. He recognized that complacency and satisfaction are the enemies of spiritual progress. Instead, Paul maintained the attitude of a learner or of one who had yet to arrive. He did not allow past successes to fill him with pride or past failures to fill him with fear lest these cause him to stumble. Instead, he had a single focus — to reach or to lean forward like an athlete on the home stretch of a race. He fixed his eyes on the goal of spiritual maturity — knowing Christ, and finishing the race set before him. He allowed nothing to distract or deter him from reaching that goal.

3:14 I press [continual action] on toward the goal [translates a word meaning “a mark on which to fix the eye”] to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Not everyone in the Philippian church shared Paul’s views about spiritual maturity. Some were filled with pride and looked down on others from their perch of perceived personal perfection. Paul therefore urged his friends in Philippi to pursue a mature way of thinking. Those who are truly mature generally are more aware of their imperfections and of their need to press on toward Christlikeness. For those who thought otherwise, Paul expressed the hope that God would reveal the truth to them.

Note: Here are a few things that you and I can do to know Christ better.
G = Make it your goal to know Christ intimately. Spend time alone with Him daily in prayer and in the study of His Word.
R = Take responsibility for your spiritual progress. Invite others to hold you accountable for your spiritual health.
O = Order your priorities to reflect your determination to press on toward spiritual maturity.
W = Watch out for modern-day Judaizers who add rules, regulations, rites and rituals or other external standards as qualifications for receiving salvation.
T = Guard your thoughts. Fill your mind with God’s Word and think about things that please God.
H = Aim high. Make it your goal to follow Christ daily and to know him more intimately.

3:15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

3:16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained [exhortation to stay on the path in which they had made steady spiritual progress].

3:17 Join with others in following my [Paul wanted for the Philippians to follow his example only insofar as he followed the example of Christ] example [cf. 1 Cor. 11:1], brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we [others whose lives were exemplary and worthy of imitation included Timothy and Epaphroditus, whom Paul highly commended in Phil. 2:19-30] gave you.

3:18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears [“to weep audibly” (Lightfoot)], many [men of a character far different from Paul’s] [1] live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

3:19 [2] Their destiny is destruction [reference here is to eternal punishment; they will not be able to stand in the judgment. (cf. Ps. 1:4-6)], [3] their god is their stomach [“may be used as a general term to include all that belongs to the bodily, fleshly life of man and therefore inevitably perishes” (Rienecker/Rogers)], and [4] their glory is in their shame [they were proud of things they should have been ashamed of]. [5] Their mind is on earthly things [cf. Col. 3:1-2; Rom. 13:12-14].

3:20 But our citizenship [the same word used in Phil. 1:27; conduct of believer must be in accordance with citizenship] is in heaven. And we eagerly await [we ought to have an eager longing for the Lord’s return (it is at that time that He will bring to completion our salvation)] a Savior from there [cf. Jn. 14:2-3], the Lord Jesus Christ,

3:21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body [cf. 1 Jn. 3:2].

Genesis 11

On December 30, 1968, the late Frank Sinatra recorded the song entitled “My Way.” Written especially for him by songwriter Paul Anka, this song resonated with Baby Boomers, dubbed the Me Generation. The lyrics tell the story of a man who is nearing the end of his life and reflects on the challenges he faced and the choices he made. He ultimately concludes that he is satisfied with his life because he did things his way.

Sinatra’s song would have been popular among the people who set out to build the Tower of Babylon. Within a few short generations after the Flood, humanity had already lost sight of the judgment that had wiped every living thing off the face of the earth. People continued to disobey God and instead stubbornly determined to do things their own way. They pursued their own selfish ambitions and sought to find ways to make themselves famous.

The builders of the Tower of Babylon were certainly neither the first nor the last to insist on doing things their own way. There is certainly something about our sinful nature that delights in self-centered pursuits, in doing things the way we want to do them. Life ultimately is about the choices we make and whether we give any consideration to God and His purposes. One day, we will all likely look back and reflect on how we lived our lives and whether we did things our way or God’s way.

The Context
God charged Noah’s three sons and their wives with the responsibility of multiplying and populating the earth. The descendants of Noah’s sons are listed in Genesis 10, a passage often called The Table of Nations. This genealogical list includes the descendants of Japheth (Gen. 10:2-5), the descendants of Ham (Gen. 10:6-20), and the descendants of Shem (Gen. 10:21-31). Nimrod, the father of the Babylonian civilization, was a descendant of Ham while the Hebrew people are descendants of Shem. Babylon would become the enemy of God’s people. For several generations after the Flood, all of the people in the world spoke the same language.

Many people chose to settle in the cities of Nimrod in the land of Shinar. Those who settled in the place that later came to be called Babylon decided to build an impressive tower. This tower was a symbol of their arrogance and independence from God. The tower builders cleverly utilized available natural resources to fashion the bricks that would enable them to build a tower so high that the world would take notice. God, however, took notice and concluded that if the people built their tower they would become emboldened to pursue other projects apart from Him. He therefore confused the language of the people which resulted in their being scattered throughout the earth.

After the account of the Tower of Babylon, Shem’s genealogy is repeated and expanded to include his descendants leading up to Abram. Abram, later known as Abraham, became the father of the Jewish nation. Beginning with Abraham, the Bible tells the story of God’s interaction with this man and his descendants. The Messiah, whose coming was foretold in Genesis 3:15, was a descendant of Abraham. His birth changed the course of human history.

11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.

Human beings alone have the power of speech. While animals have ways of communicating with one another, only humans use spoken words. We use language to express thoughts and ideas, to forge friendships, and even to communicate with future generations. Speaking a common language certainly makes it easier to promote unity among people. Differences in language, however, can create barriers, suspicion, and even separation between individuals and groups.

We don’t know what language Adam and Eve spoke or if eventually more than one language was spoken before the Flood. However, for several generations after the Flood, the whole earth spoke the same language, essentially the language that Noah and his family had spoken. The population of the whole earth at that time had probably spread only as far as the Mesopotamian Valley.

11:2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinarb and settled there.

As the descendants of Noah multiplied, they also began to migrate from the east. After God had driven Adam and Eve out of the garden, He stationed cherubim east of the garden to restrict their access to the tree of life (see Gen. 3:4). When God cast Cain from His presence, Cain settled in a place east of Eden (see Gen. 4:16). The east became the starting point of the movement to multiply and fill the earth.



Nimrod, one of Noah’s descendants, apparently led many people to settle in a valley in the land of Shinar. Nimrod was “the first powerful man on earth” (Gen. 10:8). He was, undoubtedly, an extremely influential man whose fame endured for many generations.

Micah, the Old Testament prophet, later referred to the land of Assyria as “the land of Nimrod” (Micah 5:6). Nimrod is regarded as the founder of the Babylonian civilization. His name means “we shall rebel” — an appropriate moniker since he influenced many to settle in his city rather than to obey God’s command to scatter and fill the earth.

11:3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.

Those who migrated to Shinar chose to stay there and disregarded God’s command to scatter and subdue the earth. These settlers determined to build a city with an impressive tower as its defining feature. Those who choose to disobey God are often very resourceful. The scarcity of stones in the area did not deter the people from pursuing their ambitious building project.

Instead of building with stones, they made oven-fired bricks from materials readily available in the area. Brick-making was already common in the construction of homes. The adobe-type bricks used in simple home construction were made of mud and water mixed with a binding material and then sun dried. However, the multi-story building project in Shinar was much more ambitious and required durable oven-fired bricks. Asphalt, another material readily available, was used to mortar the bricks together.

11:4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

The phrase let us is used twice in this verse and once in the previous verse, suggesting that the ambition of the people was egocentric. Their desire was to build for themselves a city and a tower. Their motivation for building was to make a name for ourselves. The people were filled with pride and interested in promoting their own fame rather than God’s. The people were united in their efforts. The passage gives no indication that any person offered pushback or tried to suggest that they consult God before proceeding. It is never wise to leave God out of any building enterprise (see Ps. 127:1).

The tower is described as having its top in the sky. This does not mean that the tower would literally reach to heaven but instead was a structure of great height in relation to everything else around it. The construction of the tower was likely in the form of a ziggurat, a pyramidal structure with receding tiers and a flat top. The people thought that the presence of such a tower in their city would make them famous. The also believed that their tower would serve as a landmark to attract others and to dissuade people from “being scattered over the face of the earth.”

The word Babel means “the gate of the gods.” The Tower of Babylon was a religious structure. Like other ziggurats, it was designed for the worship of pagan gods and even for the practice of human sacrifice. It was a place where people hoped to make a connection with the gods or goddesses they worshiped. The Tower of Babylon is an indication that in the few short generations after the Flood, humanity had again wandered far from God and neglected to worship Him alone. Those who are far from God tend to make bad decisions.

11:5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.

The people who settled in Shinar determined to construct the city and the tower without God’s approval. They were undoubtedly proud of their plans, especially their plans to build a grand tower that would reach up to the sky. Their plans and construction activity did not go unnoticed. The Lord, in fact, took an interest in what they were doing and came down to look things over. The expression came down is a human way of describing the involvement of God in the matter. God, of course, is omniscient and did not need to come down in order to to see what was going on.

The city and the tower that seemed great in the people’s eyes were not so great in God’s eyes. Although the people were proud of their tall tower, God still had to come down to look at it. When we lose sight of how big God is, then it becomes easier for us to see our own accomplishments as bigger than they actually are. Our pride always grows in proportion to the distance between us and God. The father from God the greater the pride.

To the Creator of the macroscopic — the universe and everything in it — the Tower of Babylon was microscopic and unimpressive by comparison. God came down to look at the tiny tower and, more importantly, to hold the people accountable for engaging in this prideful initiative without His approval and without regard for Him. This would become among the first of many occasions in the Scriptures that illustrate the truth that pride often goes before destruction (see Prov. 16:18).

11:6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

God was concerned about humanity’s inclination to pursue their own ambitions without regard for Him. With a common language to unite them and to facilitate communication, the people were poised to fulfill whatever evil purposes they desired. Filled with pride, they were intent on building a civilization that did not acknowledge God. Humanity was on a slippery slope that would plunge mankind into deeper rebellion against God. God, therefore, had no choice but to intervene. He had to restrain the people and to frustrate their plans which would have driven them even farther away from Him and His redemptive purposes.

11:7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

11:8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

God had finally had enough and decided to go down there and deal with the rebellion. He was not interested in destroying the people but in keeping the people from destroying themselves by establishing a way of life that excluded Him. And, rather than destroying the tower, God instead intervened by confusing the language of the people so that the builders could no longer understand one another’s speech. The inability to communicate with one another brought the people’s prideful project to a halt — “they stopped building the city.”

Ultimately, what the people feared most is what God allowed to happen to them. The people had followed Nimrod to his cities in defiance of God’s command to fill the earth. They did not want to be scattered but preferred instead to determine their own future. The Lord Himself, however, scattered them from their comfortable valley in the land of Shinar over the face of the whole earth. It is likely that those who spoke the same language united and then eventually wandered off to find new places to live and ultimately to fulfill God’s command to replenish and subdue the earth. This is the only account in the Bible of how mankind was divided into people groups by means of different languages.

11:9 That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

The name of the place where these events took place came to be known as Babylon. Nimrod’s impressive city of Babylon eventually became a great empire, one that troubled the people of God for generations.

Babylon also became a symbol of defiance against God. The word “babel” originally meant “the gate of the gods.” The people thought that their great building enterprise would connect them with alleged deities other than the God who had created them. The word, however, came to mean “confusion” to commemorate what God did when He confused the language of the whole earth.

Centuries later, God reversed the confusion of languages on the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit enabled believers to speak of God’s mighty deeds (Acts 2:11) in different languages. The word languages does not refer to ecstatic or unintelligible utterances, but rather to known languages and dialects previously unknown to those speaking them. The people of various nationalities (Acts 2:8-11) present at the feast clearly understood what was being spoken.

Today, many people groups are still waiting to read or hear the gospel in their own heart languages. Through the initiatives of missionaries and Bible translators, more and more people are learning of the wonders of God and of His love for them.

11:10 This is the account of Shem’s family line. Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father[d] of Arphaxad.

11:11 And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah.

11:13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber.

11:15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg.

11:17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu.

11:19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug.

11:21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor.

11:23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah.

11:25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.

11:26 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

11:27 This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot.

11:28 While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth.

11:29 Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah.

11:30 Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.

11:31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.

11:32 Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.

Introduction to Genesis

In 1976, Alex Haley published “Roots, The Saga of an American Family,” a novel about his family’s journey to America aboard a slave ship. His story resonated with millions of readers, prompting many to investigate their respective ancestries. Today, online ancestry registries make it easy to learn about our origins. Knowing something about our roots is important because it gives context to our existence and reminds us that we are here because of those who came before us.

The book of Genesis addresses the roots or origin of all things except God. If you are curious about the first time things happened in our collective human history, then Genesis is the place to look. Among the many firsts recorded in Genesis are references to the first man and woman, the first sin, the first sabbath, the first sacrifice, the first murder, the first global catastrophe, the first cities, the first languages, and more.

An important first in the book of Genesis is the protoevangelium or the first mention of God’s plan to send a Messiah to redeem sinful humanity (see Gen. 3:15). The first eleven chapters of the book address the bigger picture happenings like creation, the fall, the flood, and the spread of the nations. However, the remaining chapters of the book address God’s dealings with a man named Abraham and his descendants. God used Abraham and his family to ultimately fulfill His promise in the protoevangelium.

BACKGROUND

Author — Moses is regarded as the human author of Genesis and the four books that follow. These first five books of the Bible are called the Pentateuch, a Greek term that means five scrolls. These books are also called the Torah, from a Hebrew term meaning law, teaching, or instruction. Although there are direct and indirect references to Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch throughout the Old and New Testaments, the name of the author is not explicitly stated in any of these books. Jesus, for example, said that Moses had written about Him (see John 5:46). He also used the expression “the Law of Moses” (Luke 24:44) to refer to the Pentateuch.

Theme — The theme of Genesis is God’s choice of Abraham — the man whose descendants became the nation through whom God would bless all other nations. Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, was a descendant of Abraham. The story of God’s plan to redeem fallen humanity begins in Genesis and unfolds through the remaining books of the Bible. Genesis provides the context and perspective for understanding the scope of God’s redemptive plan.

Date — A key word in the book of Genesis is “generations.” Genesis is, essentially, a book of biographies or a record of the roots of the human family. The phrase “these are the generations of” is used to introduce all of the major divisions of the book. The first eleven chapters of Genesis tell the story of God’s dealings with humanity in general. These chapters cover a time span of approximately 2,000 years, from 4000 to 2090 BC. Starting in the twelfth chapter, however, Genesis traces the story of God’s interaction with one family — Abraham and his descendants Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. These remaining chapters cover a time period of approximately 300 years, from 2090 to 1804 BC.

KEY MESSAGES/THEMES

As you study the book of Genesis, look for the following key themes.

God created humans in His image therefore all human life is sacred. From the start, the Bible affirms the dignity and worth of all human beings.

Sin is the most destructive force in the universe. Once sin entered into the world, everything changed and sin put mankind at enmity with God.

God judges sin and offers opportunities for a fresh start. God is holy and holds human beings responsible for their choices. God is also merciful and kind and offers people the opportunity to make new beginnings.

God established important covenants with humanity in general and one man in particular. God promised humanity that He would never again destroy the earth with flood waters and promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars.

God is trustworthy, even when things look bleak. From an altar on a mountain in the land of Moriah to a man in search of a wife to a pit in the desert sands to a famine that threatened to destroy His people, God consistently proved Himself trustworthy.

Esther 8

Esther 8:11-13


8:11 [Haman’s earlier decree made in the king’s name remained in force because Persian laws were permanently binding (cf. 1:19), so the king allowed Mordecai (promoted to position of prime minister) to issue a decree that would offset the earlier decree] The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate any armed force of any nationality or province that might attack them [the Jews were authorized to defend themselves from attackers, including Persians] and their women and children; and to plunder the property of their enemies.

8:12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar [corresponds to our mid-February to mid-March].

8:13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.

Esther 8:16
8:16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor [Feast of Purim celebrated to commemorate their deliverance from Haman and his plan to exterminate them (cf. 9:20-22); this festival often includes a reenactment of the story of Esther; Purim comes from the Akkadian word for “lots” (used by Haman to determine the best day for the Jews destruction; cf. 3:7)].