15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill:
16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains;
17 But the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.
preach Christ (v.15) = proclaim as a herald — declare publicly
envy (v.15) = displeasure produced by hearing of the advantages or prosperity of another — always negative — envy wishes to deprive another (jealousy wants the same thing)
strife (v.15) = the expression of enmity
goodwill (v.15) = with a good object in view
In the original Greek, verses 16 and 17 are reversed.
selfish ambition (v. 16) = faction, contention — to work for hire (in a degrading sense) so, here, selfishly, with base ambitions
not sincerely (v.16) = not with pure motives
add (v.16) — should be “raise up,” “rouse”
affliction (v.16) = pressure
bonds (v.16) — They were hoping to make Paul’s imprisonment more galling by contrast. Evidently, those Paul is referring to were preaching out of competition, to be more famous or successful than Paul.
So, there’s a big difference between those who preach a false gospel (Galatians 1:8) and those who preach with false motives. Paul wasn’t approving their motives, but the motives meant nothing to him as long as Christ was preached.
Some people say these people were Judaizers who were preaching Christ plus works, but that can’t be because of how Paul reacted to THAT message in Galatians. Others say they were preaching against Christ but by doing so, spreading His name where it was unknown. Here too, Paul’s response doesn’t support the view.
What then? Only that in every way (v.18) — What then? Nothing, except that …
pretense (v.18) — with real motives disguised, giving a false impression
truth (v.18) — with sincerity and integrity of character
rejoice (v.18) — Paul considered the preaching of Christ as far more important than his own freedom.
yes, and will rejoice (v.18) — connected to the thought in verse 19