Poured Out As A Drink Offering – Philippians 2:17-18

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Poured Out As A Drink Offering – Philippians 2:17-18

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Philippians 2:17-18




Paul has challenged these brethren to let their light shine in this dark work. His hope was that if they did this, his efforts would not have been “in vain”.   Now, as a further encouragement to these brethren, He challenges them (again) to rejoice, regardless of what happens.

The Drink Offering

  1. Part of the LOM and various sacrifices – the drink offering was part of the Levitical sacrifice system. Accompanying various sacrifices of meats and/or grains, there was to be a drink offering – an offering of wine poured out at the foot of the altar of sacrifice. It was simply part of God’s sacrificial system.
    The pouring out of drinks was associated with giving something to God that was of value.
    – Genesis 35:10 – on Jacob’s return from being with Laban for 20 years and settling in the land, he is told by God to go to Bethel and make an altar there.   On the way, we read about his wrestling with the Angel of God and his name is changed to Israel.   At that place, in our text, he sets up a pillar of stone and pours out a drink offering on it.
    – Number 15:5, as noted, they were offered along with other sacrifices.   Daily sacrifices – Exodus 29:39-41, both morning and evening included the drink offering.   They were offered at various feasts and for unintentional sin offerings (Number 15:24). Much more could be said, but this explains what the drink offering is.
    Also of interest, was an occasion in the life of David, where he poured out water. 1 Chronicles 11:17-19 records some of David’s mighty and loyal men.   There was an occasion, when the Philistines occupied Bethlehem and David And David said with longing, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” So the three broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless David would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord. And he said, “Far be it from me, O my God, that I should do this! Shall I drink the blood of these men who have put their lives in jeopardy? For at the risk of their lives they brought it.” Therefore he would not drink it. These things were done by the three mighty men.  This shows his humility and devotion to God.
  2. Here, Paul has reference to the possibility of his death.   The fact that his body might be “poured out” to God indicates his willingness to die for Him.   His only hope is that if this occurs, good will come of it.
    Tradition holds that Paul was beheaded, which would have involved the pouring out of blood at his death.

Reflections on what might happen

  1. Above are the details of a drink offering. Exactly how Paul dies (and when) are inconsequential.   What is important is WHY.   That is what we want to notice in this text and others.
  2. FIRST, notice that Paul was willing to sacrifice himself.
    Consider Paul headed toward Jerusalem – Acts 20:23-24 – his is willing to sacrifice himself. 21:13-14 – willing to die to win others.
    2 Corinthians 12:15 – I will very gladly spend and be spent…
    Exactly when Paul will die is uncertain here (many believe that after this imprisonment Paul was released for a short time and then taken again into custody where he would face his death).   We know when he penned 2 Timothy 4:6, he KNOWS the time of his departure is near. Paul again uses this language.     We will deal more with Paul’s sacrificial attitude in chapter 3.
    HOW far will we go with our sacrifices?   Romans 12:1 – we are living sacrifices.
    Will we give up our possessions?   Will we give up our prestige? Our relationships? Our personal achievements? Our lives? Luke 9:23-24, 14:26-27, etc.
    Following the example of Jesus, we ought to be willing to sacrifice. We find this in numerous texts.
    1 John 3:16, Galatians 2:20, John 10:11, 15:13, etc.
  3. The sacrifice and service of your faith – he was willing to die for them (just as Christ was willing to die for us). For Paul, this was never just about him.   In fact, everything he did was with others, especially his brethren, in mind.   1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 gives us similar language
  4. It was about “your faith” – meaning their trust in God and service to Him.
    These brethren had sacrificed for the Lord by their faith. Consider 1 Peter 1:6-7, which speaks of some of the trials they faced, and how the genuineness of their faith, though tested, made them stronger. Also James 1:2-4 – the testing of your faith produces patience…
    They had faithfully rendered service to God and the Lord.     Paul’s willingness to suffer, even to death, was because of that faithfulness. Paul knew that many were paying a very high price to follow Christ because of him.   He did not want that to be in vain, or for him to treat such lightly.
    Genuine faith is the motivation.   When we see godly brothers and sisters standing firm in their faith, especially in troubling times, it gives us cause for gladness and rejoicing.
    When we have helped brethren to stand firm and sacrifice for the cause of Christ, do we see the gravity of that?   Teaching someone the gospel might result in them losing many things. We best take that seriously and continue to see them as our work.   How sad it is, when one truthfully convinces another to sacrifice for the cause, and then they abandon God or fail to be there for their spiritual “children”.   It can cause one to become discouraged, and perhaps cause some to give up.
    I think of the rebuke of Jesus against the Pharisees in Matthew 23:13-15 – they travel to the ends of the earth to win one proselyte and then make the “twice as much a son of hell”.     Don’t abandon your “children in the faith”.
  5. He will rejoice and encourages them to rejoice – again, Paul’s point is that he would gladly suffer and his hope is that they too will rejoice, even facing persecutions and death.
    Matthew 5:10-12 – Blessed are the persecuted and reviled.   Like the apostles who rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus (Acts 5:41).
    Hebrews 10:34 – the writer speaks of the compassion of these brethren and how they joyfully accepted plundering, knowing something better awaited them in heaven. This is within a passage where the writer is saying, “DO YOU QUIT!”
  6. A final thought: There is something to be said about our approach to life. Whether or good or bad, our disposition will determine what we make of it.   We can make the best of a bad situation, or look for the “silver lining” in the storm clouds. Perspective. That is key to the life of a Christian.


Letters like these show us intimately who Paul is and how much he genuinely cares. This was his motivation as he sought to further the cause of Christ.   These brethren meant so much to him that even as he faced death, he didn’t want them to give up, but rather to find good in the situation.

How do we face the prospect of death or persecutions?   This is something that passages like this challenge us with.   Think about it.