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Philippians 4:1-3

1. Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

1. Itaque, fratres mei dilecti et desiderati, gaudium et corona mea, sic state in Domino, dilecti.

2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

2. Euodian hortor, et Syntchen hortor, ut unum sentiant in Domino.

3. And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

3. Sane rogo etiam to, germane compar, adiuva eas, quae in evangelio idem mecum certamen sustinuerunt, cum Clemente etiam, et reliquis adiutoribus meis, quorum nomina sunt in libro vitae.

 

1. Therefore, my brethren He concludes his doctrine, as he is wont, with most urgent exhortations, that he may fix it the more firmly in the minds of men. He also insinuates himself into their affections by endearing appellations 208208     Et les appelant par noms amiables et gracieux, il tasche de gaigner leurs coeurs;” — “And calling them by lovely and kind names, he endeavors to gain their hearts.” , which at the same time are not dictated by flattery, but by sincere affection. He calls them his joy and crown; because, delighted to see those who had been gained over through his instrumentality persevering in the faith 209209     “Estant ioyeux de les veoir perseuerer en la foy, a laquelle ils auoyent este amenez par son moyen;” — “Being delighted to see them persevere in the faith, to which they had been brought through his instrumentality.” , he hoped to attain that triumph, of which we have spoken 210210     Calvin seems to refer here to what he had said when commenting on Philippians 2:16. See p. 72.—Ed. , when the Lord will reward with a crown those things which have been accomplished under his guidance.

When he bids them so stand fast in the Lord, he means that their condition is approved of by him. At the same time, the particle so might be taken as referring to the doctrine going before; but the former view is more suitable, so that, by praising their present condition, he exhorts them to perseverance. They had already, it is true, given some evidence of their constancy. Paul, however, well knowing human weakness, reckons that they have need of confirmation for the future.

2. I exhort Euodias and Syntyche It is an almost universally received opinion that Paul was desirous to settle a quarrel, I know not of what sort, between those two women. While I am not inclined to contend as to this, the words of Paul do not afford ground enough for such a conjecture to satisfy us that it really was so. It appears, from the testimony which he gives in their favor, that they were very excellent women; for he assigns to them so much honor as to call them fellow-soldiers in the gospel 211211    1l les appelle ses compagnes de guerre, d’autant qu’elles ont batail1e auec luy en l’euangile;” — “He calls them his companions in war, inasmuch as they had struggled hard with him in the gospel.” . Hence, as their agreement was a matter of great moment 212212     C’estoit une chose grandement requise et necessaire qu’elles fussent d’un consentement;” — “It was a thing greatly requisite and necessary that they should be in a state of agreement.” , and, on the other hand, there would be great danger attendant on their disagreement, he stirs them up particularly to concord.

We must take notice, however, that, whenever he speaks of agreement, he adds also the bond of it—in the Lord. For every combination will inevitably be accursed, if apart from the Lord, and, on the other hand, nothing is so disjoined, but that it ought to be reunited in Christ.

3 I entreat thee, also, true yokefellow I am not inclined to dispute as to the gender of the noun, and shall, accordingly, leave it undetermined 213213     “Je le laisse a disputer aux autres;” —”I leave it to others to dispute as to this.” , whether he addresses here a man or a woman. At the same time there is excessive weakness in the argument of Erasmus, who infers that it is a woman from the circumstance, that mention is made here of other women — as though he did not immediately subjoin the name of Clement in the same connection. I refrain, however, from that dispute: only I maintain that it is not Paul’s wife that is designated by this appellation. Those who maintain this, quote Clement and Ignatius as their authorities. If they quoted correctly, I would not certainly despise men of such eminence. But as writings are brought forward from Eusebius 214214     Comme ainsi soit qu’on metre en auant ie ne scay quels faux escrits sous le nom d’Eusebe;” — “As they set forth I know not what spurious writings under the name of Eusebius.” which are spurious, and were contrived by ignorant monks 215215     “Et adioustez a son histoire;” — “And added to his history.” , they are not deserving of much credit among readers of sound judgment 216216     “Ils ne meritent point enuers les lecteurs de bon iugement, qu’on y adiouste grande foy;” — “They do not deserve, as to readers of good judgment, that much credit should be attached to them.”

Let us, therefore, inquire as to the thing itself, without taking any false impression from the opinions of men. When Paul wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians, he was, as he mentions, at that time unmarried.

“To the unmarried,” says he, “and widows, I say it is good that they should continue even as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:8.)

He wrote that Epistle at Ephesus 217217     See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 2, pp. 70, 72, 78. when he was prepared to leave it. Not long after, he proceeded to Jerusalem, where he was put in prison, and sent to Rome. Every one must perceive how unsuitable a period of time it would have been for marrying a wife, spent by him partly in journeying, and partly in prison. In addition to this, he was even at that time prepared to endure imprisonment and persecutions, as he himself testifies, according to Luke. (Acts 21:13.) I am, at the same time, well aware what objection is usually brought forward in opposition to this — that Paul, though married, refrained from conjugal intercourse. The words, however, convey another meaning, for he is desirous that unmarried persons may have it in their power to remain in the same condition with himself. Now, what is that condition but celibacy? As to their bringing forward that passage —

Is it not lawful for me to lead about a wife (I Corinthians 9:5,)

for the purpose of proving he had a wife, it is too silly to require any refutation 218218     See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 1, p. 234, 235, 292. . But granting that Paul was married, how came his wife to be at Philippi — a city which we do not read of his entering on more than two occasions, and in which it is probable he never remained so much as two whole months? In fine, nothing is more unlikely than that he speaks here of his wife; and to me it does not seem probable that he speaks of any female. I leave it, however, to the judgment of my readers. The word which Paul makes use of here (συλλάμβανεσθαι) means, to take hold of a thing and embrace it along with another person, with the view of giving help 219219     It is defined by Wahl, in his Clavis N. T. Philologica, as follows. Una manaum admoveo, i.e. opitulor, opem fero, iuvo; (I lend a helping hand; that is, I assist, I bring assistance, I aid.)Ed.

Whose names are in the book of life The book of life is the roll of the righteous, who are predestinated to life, as in the writings of Moses. (Exodus 32:32.) God has this roll beside himself in safekeeping. Hence the book is nothing else than His eternal counsel, fixed in His own breast. In place of this term, Ezekiel employs this expression — the writing of the house of Israel. With the same view it is said in

Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and let them not be written among the righteous; (Psalm 69:28)

that is, let them not be numbered among the elect of God, whom he receives within the limits of his Church and kingdom 220220     See Calvin on the Psalms, vol. 3, pp. 73, 74. .

Should any one allege, that Paul therefore acts rashly in usurping to himself the right of pronouncing as to the secrets of God, I answer, that we may in some measure form a judgment from the token by which God manifests his election, but only in so far as our capacity admits. In all those, therefore, in whom we see the marks of adoption shine forth, let us in the mean time reckon those to be the sons of God until the books are opened, (Revelation 20:12,) which will thoroughly bring all things to view. It belongs, it is true, to God alone now to know them that are his, (2 Timothy 2:19,) and to separate at least the lambs from the kids; 221221     “Les agneux des boucs;” — “The lambs from the goats.” but it is our part to reckon in charity all to be lambs who, in a spirit of obedience, submit themselves to Christ as their Shepherd 222222     “Christ vray Pastuer;” — “Christ the true Shepherd.” , who betake themselves to his fold, and remain there constantly. It is our part to set so high a value upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which he confers peculiarly on his elect, that they shall be to us the seals, as it were, of an election which is hid from us.


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