As I move along chapter 1 of the book of Philippians I come to verse 8 next. It says, “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” This is a carry on comment linked closely to verse 7’s 01 god onlycomment about having the Philippians in his heart. There is an unusual affection that Paul feels for these believers. He’s already expressed his love for them as partners in God’s wonderful grace through faith. He included the fact that they all have suffered much together which also draws them into a deeper fellowship. He then expressed that their common mission, the good news about Jesus, also served to create even a stronger connection with them. This affection Paul expresses now comes in the form of an oath. He begins his expression of concern for them by saying, “For God is my witness.” Whatever is coming now, he wants the Philippians to see it as totally motivated out of an honest love and concern for their wellbeing. Only God knows how true this is. We often use the phrase ourselves; “God knows,” or “only God knows” or “God only knows.”

In 1966 Brian Wilson wrote a song entitled, “God only knows.” The Beach Boys took it into the top forty but according to “Songfacts” website, “This song is considered a Beach Boys classic, but it only managed to scrape the Top-40 in the United States. That’s because it was released as a B-side, partly because of fear that radio stations would refuse to play a song with ‘God’ in the title.” But Wikipedia reports that, “The song was also recognized by Pitchfork Media as the number one ‘greatest song of the 1960s’ in their feature on the 200 Best Songs of the 1960s.” The catchy chorus says, “God only knows what I’d be without you.” Like Paul, the Beach Boys wanted to express the seriousness of deep feelings for someone that were too hard to communicate in words alone. But Paul’s love and concern, being as profound, had its source in a different motive.

Paul’s yearning for them seems be more of a profound interest in what’s going on in their lives. This yearning might be established on the basis of what the carrier of the letter told Paul about what was happening there. Fee observes, “Whatever in fact was going on among them, reported to him by Epaphroditus, he wants them to know how strongly he feels toward them—toward all of you.” The yearning Paul feels is because something is not right in the fellowship of believers. He wants it to be right but can’t be there himself so he writes this letter. Paul expressed a similar concern to the Galatians in his letter to them. It’s a Christ like concern. It’s the loving concern a parent might have for a child that seems to be going in a wrong direction. When the Old Testament talks about God being “Jealous” over His people, it carries the same concern. He wants only the best for us and yearns to intercede to get us back on track. Paul says his yearning is with the “affection of Christ.” I believe Christ is the action God took because of His great love for us to get us back on track. Christ is the real “God only knows” expression for you and me!