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EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS - Chapter 4 - Verse 3

Verse 3. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow. It is not known to whom the apostle refers here. No name is mentioned, and conjecture is useless. All that is known is, that it was some one whom Paul regarded as associated with himself in labour, and one who was so prominent at Philippi that it would be understood who was referred to, without more particularly mentioning him. The presumption therefore is, that it was one of the ministers or "bishops" See Barnes "Php 1:1") of Philippi, who had been particularly associated with Paul when he was there. The epistle was addressed to the "church, with the bishops and deacons," Php 1:1; and the fact that this one had been particularly associated with Paul would serve to designate him with sufficient particularity. Whether he was related to the women referred to is wholly unknown. Doddridge supposes that he might be the husband of one of these women; but of that there is no evidence. The term "yokefellow" suzugov— some have understood as a proper name, (Syzygus;) but the proper import of the word is yokefellow, and there is no reason to believe that it is used here to denote a proper name. If it had been, it is probable that some other word than that here used and rendered truegnhsiov—would have been employed. The word true gnhsiov—means that he was sincere, faithful, worthy of confidence. Paul had had evidence of his sincerity and fidelity; and he was a proper person, therefore, to whom to entrust a delicate and important business.

Help those women. The common opinion is, that the women here referred to were Euodias and Syntyche, and that the office which the friend of Paul was asked to perform was, to secure a reconciliation between them. There is, however, no certain evidence of this. The reference seems rather to be to influential females who had rendered important assistance to Paul when he was there. The kind of "help" which was to be imparted was probably by counsel, and friendly co-operation in the duties which they were called to perform. There is no evidence that it refers to pecuniary aid; and, had it referred to a reconciliation of those who were at variance, it is probable that some other word would have been used than that here rendered helpsullambanou.

Which laboured with me in the Gospel. As Paul did not permit women to preach, (1 Ti 2:12 comp. See Barnes "1 Co 11:5,) he must have referred here to some other services which they had rendered. There were deaconesses in the primitive churches, (See Barnes "Ro 16:1"; See Barnes "1 Ti 5:9, seq.,) to whom was probably entrusted particularly the care of the female members of a church. In the custom which prevailed in the oriental world of excluding females from the public gaze, and of confining them to their houses, it would not be practicable for the apostles to have access to them. The duties of instructing and exhorting them were then probably entrusted chiefly to pious females; and in this way important aid would be rendered in the gospel. Paul could regard such as "labouring with him," though they were not engaged in preaching.

With Clement also. That is, they were associated with Clement, and with the other fellow-labourers of Paul, in aiding him in the gospel. Clement was doubtless some one who was well known among them; and the apostle felt that, by associating them with him, as having been real helpers in the gospel, their claim to respectful attention would be better appreciated. Who Clement was is unknown. Most of the ancients say it was Clement of Rome, one of the primitive fathers. But there is no evidence of this. The name Clement was common, and there is no improbability in supposing that there might have been a preacher of this name in the church at Philippi.

Whose names are in the book of life. See Barnes "Isa 4:3".

The phrase, "the book of life," which occurs here, and in Re 3:5; 13:8; 20:12,15; 21:27; 22:19, is a Jewish phrase, and refers originally to a record or catalogue of names, as the roll of an army. It then means to be among the living, as the name of an individual would be erased from a catalogue when he was deceased. The word life here refers to eternal life; and the whole phrase refers to those who were enrolled among the true friends of God, or who would certainly be saved. The use of this phrase here implies the belief of Paul that these persons were true Christians. Names that are written in the book of life will not be blotted out. If the hand of God records them there, who can obliterate them?

{*} "yokefellow" "companion"

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