Jesus commands prayers for enemies and friends alike but in this passage Paul willingly and with great pleasure labors in prayer for the Philippian church. He describes his desire to see the church in verse 8 with strong emotion. Literally, he longs to see them in his entrails! The Greek is used figuratively to express the raw emotional desire to be among the believers of the church. True partnership in the gospel produces this type affection. When God transforms the local church into a place of gospel focus, the affections for one another are also transformed. This emotional connection compels and amplifies prayers one for another. God’s church, bound together in Christ Jesus and partnered together in his gracious work, needs transformed affections for one another. The absence of focused gospel work results in the absence of love for one another.
As fellow partakers with Paul of God’s grace in the work of the gospel, certain spiritual matters rise as most important prayers Paul could pray. The church needs continually overflowing love that produces knowledge and complete comprehension (a hapax word). Both knowledge and complete comprehension seem peculiarly placed juxtaposed to love. Love produces these two mental components and particularly in the modern context seems out of place. We are accustomed to dividing mental pursuits from emotional ones. This is not the case however with God’s teaching plan for his people. Christian people who abound in love for one another become a more knowledgeable people as a result.
The connection between love and knowledge and comprehension is tied by the strands of personal completion. Paul envisions a church who, through its endeavors to tap into the abundant love flowing from God, is filled with the same incredible knowledge of God as he experiences. God wants his people to know him. In knowing God we learn to obey him and make him known through our lives. Paul is confident of God’s completed work in the Philippian church (vs. 6) expressed in terms of overflowing love that results in a keen knowledge and discernment of God. When we find an absence of love we will always find an absence of knowledge.
Transformed affections produce love that overflows into the mental disposition of the believers. The love Christ produces through his spiritual work also fills the mind. Transformed affections produce transformed understanding. The church needs to know how to discern between good and evil, God’s word and satanic deceptions, and truthful leadership and false direction. Paul indicates that the people will become sincere minded – an indication of sincerity of thought – and blameless – an indication of moral transformation.
The struggle for transformed affections produces the transformation of the mind. Jesus empowers the change because it is to his glory and praise that the change occurs. The means of this affection transformation is not the good will of the believer but the internal fruit of righteousness planted within the believer by Christ.