Philippians 1:15-18 "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
Are you able to rejoice when Christ is preached with impure motives? It seems that Paul was. But I must confess that I really struggle with this. Yes, even in some cases that intellectually I think may meet Paul's criteria my heart still recoils.
Paul is not speaking of a compromised or falsified gospel. That was anathema to him: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you that that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (Gal. 1:8)." When he contrasts "whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached" the reference must be to the reason or motive rather than the true facts about who Christ was and what He did.
In the case Paul affirms in Philippians, Christ WAS being preached. It seems there are two classes of preachers in mind, those with impure motives (some preach Christ of envy, strife & contention) and those with pure motives (some preach Christ of good will & love). The pretence is evidently that the pretended cause is to forward the gospel of Christ, when in fact the true motivation is an attempt to cause more affliction to come Paul's way. Their envy and strife is directed toward Paul.
What is the relation of verse 19? "For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ..." Does the "FOR" mean that the reason he is rejoicing that Christ is preached is BECAUSE this spreading knowledge will result in his (Paul's) deliverance from his present imprisonment? The attempt of the envious ones will be thwarted. Their pretence causes Paul to rejoice, and eventually lightens his affliction rather than adding to it. He is ready to die for Christ, but expects to be delivered (saved) from his bonds and minister once again to the Philippians (vs. 25,26). Or should we take a more "standard" interpretation -- regardless of how Christ is preached, the truth will not return void, but will accomplish what God sends it to do? Or both?
We should also consider that to some extent this passage emphasizes the importance of the message over the messenger. With that thought I am reminded of Jonah. He was a running, disobedient, whale-vomit-stinking, sulking, pouting prophet who didn't care for those to whom he was sent to preach. But ultimately he did preach the preaching that God bid him!
I suppose I've never found a particularly comfortable middle ground of interpretation of this passage. What think ye?