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The Lord Your Healer: 

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The Bible Teaching Commentary on Genesis: The Book of Foundations

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Overcoming Anxiety: Finding Peace, Discovering God


2 Timothy 2:2

Stepping Into God’s Love

Philippians 1:9-11

Practical Love
Philippians 1:9a

Four ways love can abound!

Paul J. Bucknell

The Bible Teaching Commentary

Philippians 1:9-11 Intro | Philippians 1:9a Practical love |
Philippians1:9b Discerning Love | Philippians 1:10 Righteous Love |
Philippians 1:11 Glorious Love | 1:9-11 Video |
Philippians Introduction


Stepping Into God’s Love from Philippians 4:9-11 speaks about four stages of love: practical love, discerning love, righteous love and glorious love, the later being the final culmination of love’s purpose. The first stage, practical love from Philippians 1:9a, is discussed here.

1) Practical Love (Philippians 1:9a)

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” (1:9).

Paul’s thoughts of love all began when he reflected on what counted the most. He probably discovered this from his prayers and and by his reflections helps us see not only where we are at as His people but the way to reach the place God has appointed us to go.

Four ways to love

These words are actually a condensed version of Paul’s prayer for the believers. They are things that can and should be. They are our inheritance.

Love needs to abound

He himself is sitting in a prison as he dictates his letter to the church in Philippi. He was willing to suffer so that those there in Philippi could know Christ. They were in Paul’s heart. He loved them. He gave themselves as Christ gave Himself.

God wants this very love of God to be born in their hearts. He says in verse 8, “For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.”

He hears that their love, though good and lovely, is not quite where it could be. As we journey through the epistle here, we will discover relationship and other kinds of problems in the church at Philippi.

How does this love grow?

BFF New Testament Digital LibraryThese stresses and difficulties become the very crucibles where God wants them to grow in love. Paul is urging them to gain a greater vision of God’s love. It is not a time to give up.

No doubt these thoughts came to Paul because he battled them left and right. Here he is unjustly sitting in a jail for who knows how long, the church leaders have a big problem between themselves, and he probably suffers from the dirty clammy prison. (We see this struggle work out in a different way starting in verses 12.)

The big question is does, “Does God’s love really work in this real world of mine?”

The apostle knows these truths work. They were working with him through all the difficult situations he had been in. They work for handling messy church problem. We see Paul's confidence in his prayer.

Paul's Prayer

Paul’s prayer transcends the selfish ‘give me’ prayer or the religious ‘do I have to’ prayer by remembering God’s ultimate purposes.

The clearer our theology, the more effective our prayers.

Emotions are to learn from theology rather than shaping our views from what we feel. Paul prays that the Philippian believers’ love might abound. It is clear from what he is saying that there is always room for love. This nature of love will be discussed in a moment, but let us first remember the context in which Paul is speaking.

Let these words of the apostle Paul be what inspires each of us.


We need to be honest with our thoughts. If you are not being tested at the moment, then pray these things through for the times you will need them. God’s love is always greater, better and stronger than what we could find in the world. Seek to have a Christ-centered love that is shown in our very prayer lives. The very time we feel like love won’t work or that we can’t love any more, let our minds turn back to this call to abound in love.


Right now, think of a brother or sister that needs God’s love to inflame them. Pray quietly for them as well as yourself as we proceed. We will see the development of love is much like that of a flower, each of the four stages beckon us to further extend our notion and life of love.

Click to continue 'Stepping into His Love' on Philippians 1:9b

Discerning Love (Philippians 1:9)

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Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted: (C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988

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