Inscription. Thanksgiving and Prayers for the Flourishing Spiritual
State of the Philippians. His Own State
at Rome, and the Result of His Imprisonment in Spreading the
Gospel. Exhortation to Christian
1. Timotheus—mentioned as being well
known to the Philippians (Ac 16:3, 10-12), and now present with Paul. Not that
Timothy had any share in writing the Epistle; for Paul presently uses
the first person singular, "I," not "we" (Php 1:3). The mention of his name implies merely
that Timothy joined in affectionate remembrances to them.
servants of Jesus Christ—The oldest
manuscripts read the order, "Christ Jesus." Paul does not call himself
"an apostle," as in the inscriptions of other Epistles; for the
Philippians needed not to be reminded of his apostolic authority. He
writes rather in a tone of affectionate familiarity.
all—so Php 1:4, 7, 8, 25; Php
2:17, 26. It implies
comprehensive affection which desired not to forget any one among them
bishops—synonymous with "presbyters"
in the apostolical churches; as appears from the same persons being
called "elders of the Church" at Ephesus (Ac 20:17), and "overseers" (Ac 20:28), Greek, "bishops." And Tit 1:5, compare with Php 1:7. This is the earliest letter of Paul
where bishops and deacons are mentioned, and the only one where they
are separately addressed in the salutation. This accords with the
probable course of events, deduced alike from the letters and history.
While the apostles were constantly visiting the churches in person or
by messengers, regular pastors would be less needed; but when some were
removed by various causes, provision for the permanent order of the
churches would be needed. Hence the three pastoral letters, subsequent
to this Epistle, give instruction as to the due appointment of bishops
and deacons. It agrees with this new want of the Church, when other
apostles were dead or far away, and Paul long in prison, that bishops
and deacons should be prominent for the first time in the opening
salutation. The Spirit thus intimated that the churches were to look up
to their own pastors, now that the miraculous gifts were passing into
God's ordinary providence, and the presence of the inspired apostles,
the dispensers of those gifts, was to be withdrawn [Paley, "Horæ Paulinæ]. "Presbyter,"
implied the rank; "bishop," the duties of the office
[Neander]. Naturally, when the apostles
who had the chief supervision were no more, one among the presbyters
presided and received the name "bishop," in the more restricted and
modern sense; just as in the Jewish synagogue one of the elders
presided as "ruler of the synagogue." Observe, the apostle addresses
the Church (that is, the congregation) more directly than its presiding
ministers (Col 4:17; 1Th 5:12; Heb 13:24; Re
1:4, 11). The bishops managed
more the internal, the deacons the external, affairs of the Church. The
plural number shows there was more than one bishop or presbyter, and
more than one deacon in the Church at Philippi.
2. Grace … peace—The very form of
this salutation implies the union of Jew, Greek, and Roman. The Greek
salutation was "joy" (chairein), akin to the Greek for
"grace" (charis). The Roman was "health," the intermediate term
between grace and peace. The Hebrew was "peace,"
including both temporal and spiritual prosperity. Grace must
come first if we are to have true peace.
from … from—Omit the second
"from": as in the Greek, "God our Father" and "the Lord Jesus
Christ," are most closely connected.
3. Translate, "In all my remembrance of
4. making request—Translate, "making
for you all—The frequent repetition in
this Epistle of "all" with "you," marks that Paul desires to declare
his love for all alike, and will not recognize any divisions
with joy—the characteristic feature in
this Epistle, as love is in that to the Ephesians (compare Php 1:18; Php 2:2, 19, 28; 3:1; 4:1,
4). Love and
joy are the two first-fruits of the Spirit. Joy gives
especial animation to prayers. It marked his high opinion of them, that
there was almost everything in them to give him joy, and almost
nothing to give him pain.
5. Ground of his "thanking God" (Php 1:3): "For your (continued) fellowship (that
is, real spiritual participation) in (literally, 'in regard to') the
Gospel from the first day (of your becoming partakers in it)
until now." Believers have the fellowship of the Son of God (1Co 1:9) and of the Father (1Jo 1:3) in the Gospel, by becoming partakers of
"the fellowship of the Holy Ghost" (2Co 13:14), and exercise that fellowship by acts
of communion, not only the communion of the Lord's Supper, but holy
liberality to brethren and ministers (Php 4:10, 15, "communicated … concerning
giving"; 2Co 9:13; Ga 6:6; Heb 13:16, "To communicate forget not").
6. confident—This confidence nerves
prayers and thanksgivings (Php 1:3, 4).
this very thing—the very thing
which he prays for (Php 1:4) is
the matter of his believing confidence (Mr 11:24; 1Jo 5:14, 15). Hence the result is sure.
he which hath begun—God (Php 2:13).
a good work—Any work that God begins,
He will surely finish (1Sa 3:12).
Not even men begin a work at random. Much more the fact of His
beginning the work is a pledge of its completion (Isa 26:12). So as to the particular work here
meant, the perfecting of their fellowship in the Gospel (Php 1:5; Ps 37:24; 89:33;
138:8; Joh 10:28, 29; Ro 8:29, 35-39; 11:1, 2 Heb 6:17-19; Jas
1:17; Jude 24). As God cast
not off Israel for ever, though chastening them for a time, so He will
not cast off the spiritual Israel (De 33:3; Isa 27:3; 1Pe
perform it until—"perfect it up to"
[Alford, Ellicott, and others].
the day of … Christ—(Php 1:10). The Lord's coming, designed by
God in every age of the Church to be regarded as near, is to be the
goal set before believers' minds rather than their own death.
7. meet—Greek, "just."
to think this—to have the prayerful
confidence I expressed (Php 1:4-6).
of you—literally, "in behalf of
you." Paul's confident prayer in their behalf was that God would
perfect His own good work of grace in them.
because, &c.—Punctuate and
translate, "Because I have you in my heart (so Php 1:8; otherwise the Greek and the
words immediately following in the verse, favor the Margin,
'Ye have me in your heart … being partakers
of my grace') (both, in my bonds, and in my defense and
confirmation of the Gospel), you (I say) all being fellow partakers of
my grace." This last clause thus assigns the reason why he has them
in his heart (that is, cherished in his love, 2Co 3:2; 7:3), even in his bonds, and in his
defense and confirmation of the Gospel (such as he was constantly
making in private, Ac 28:17-23; his self-defense and confirmation of
the Gospel being necessarily conjoined, as the Greek implies;
1:17), namely, "inasmuch as
ye are fellow partakers of my grace": inasmuch as ye share with me in
"the fellowship of the Gospel" (Php 1:5), and have manifested this, both by
suffering as I do for the Gospel's sake (Php 1:28-30), and by imparting to me of your
substance (Php 4:15). It
is natural and right for me thus confidently to pray in your behalf.
(Ellicott, and others translate, "To be
thus minded for you all"), because of my having you in my warmest
remembrances even in my bonds, since you are sharers with me in the
Gospel grace. Bonds do not bind love.
8. Confirmation of Php 1:7.
record—that is, witness.
in the bowels of Jesus Christ—"Christ
Jesus" is the order in the oldest manuscripts. My yearning love
(so the Greek implies) to you is not merely from natural
affection, but from devotedness to Christ Jesus. "Not Paul, but Jesus
Christ lives in Paul; wherefore Paul is not moved in the bowels (that
is, the tender love, Jer 31:20)
of Paul, but of Jesus Christ" [Bengel].
All real spiritual love is but a portion of Christ's love which yearns
in all who are united to Him [Alford].
9. The subject of his prayer for them (Php 1:4).
your love—to Christ, producing love
not only to Paul, Christ's minister, as it did, but also to one
another, which it did not altogether as much as it ought (Php 2:2; 4:2).
knowledge—of doctrinal and practical
"perceptive sense." Spiritual perceptiveness: spiritual sight,
spiritual hearing, spiritual feeling, spiritual taste. Christianity is
a vigorous plant, not the hotbed growth of enthusiasm. "Knowledge" and
"perception" guard love from being ill-judged.
10. Literally, "With a view to your
proving (and so approving and embracing) the things that
excel" (Ro 2:18); not
merely things not bad, but the things best among those that are good;
the things of more advanced excellence. Ask as to things, not merely,
Is there no harm, but is there any good, and which is the best?
sincere—from a Greek root.
Examined in the sunlight and found pure.
without offence—not stumbling; running
the Christian race without falling through any stumbling-block, that
is, temptation, in your way.
till—rather, "unto," "against"; so
that when the day of Christ comes, ye may be found pure and without
11. The oldest manuscripts read the singular,
"fruit." So Ga 5:22 (see
on Ga 5:22); regarding the works of
righteousness, however manifold, as one harmonious whole, "the
fruit of the Spirit" (Eph 5:9) Jas 3:18, "the fruit of righteousness" (Heb 12:11); Ro 6:22, "fruit unto holiness."
which are—"which is by
(Greek, 'through') Jesus Christ." Through His sending to
us the Spirit from the Father. "We are wild and useless olive trees
till we are grafted into Christ, who, by His living root, makes us
fruit-bearing branches" [Calvin].
12. understand—Greek, "know." The
Philippians probably had feared that his imprisonment would hinder the
spread of the Gospel; he therefore removes this fear.
the things which happened unto
me—Greek, "the things concerning me."
rather—so far is my imprisonment from
hindering the Gospel. Faith takes in a favorable light even what seems
adverse [Bengel] (Php 1:19,
28; Php 2:17).
13. my bonds in Christ—rather as
Greek, "So that my bonds have become manifest in Christ,"
that is, known, as endured in Christ's cause.
that is, the barrack of the Prætorian guards attached to the
palace of Nero, on the Palatine hill at Rome; not the general
Prætorian camp outside of the city; for this was not connected
with "Cæsar's household," which Php 4:22 shows the Prætorium here meant was.
The emperor was "Prætor," or Commander-in-Chief; naturally then
the barrack of his bodyguard was called the Prætorium. Paul seems
now not to have been at large in his own hired house, though chained to
a soldier, as in Ac 28:16, 20, 30, 31, but in strict custody in the
Prætorium; a change which probably took place on Tigellinus
becoming Prætorian Prefect. See Introduction.
in all other places—so Chrysostom. Or else, "TO all the rest," that is,
"manifest to all the other" Prætorian soldiers stationed
elsewhere, through the instrumentality of the Prætorian household
guards who might for the time be attached to the emperor's palace, and
who relieved one another in succession. Paul had been now upwards of
two years a prisoner, so that there was time for his cause and the
Gospel having become widely known at Rome.
14. Translate as Greek, "And
that (Php 1:13)
most of the brethren in the Lord," &c. "In the Lord,"
distinguishes them from "brethren after the flesh," Jewish fellow
countrymen. Ellicott translates,
"Trusting in the Lord."
by my bonds—encouraged by my patience
in bearing my bonds.
much more bold—Translate as
Greek, "are more abundantly bold."
15. "Some indeed are preaching Christ
even for envy, that is, to carry out the envy which they
felt towards Paul, on account of the success of the Gospel in the
capital of the world, owing to his steadfastness in his imprisonment;
they wished through envy to transfer the credit of its progress from
him to themselves. Probably Judaizing teachers (Ro 14:1-23; 1Co 3:10-15; 9:1, &c.; 2Co
some also of—rather, "for"
good will—answering to "the brethren"
1:14); some being well
disposed to him.
16, 17. The oldest manuscripts transpose these
verses, and read, "These (last) indeed out of love (to
Christ and me), knowing (the opposite of 'thinking' below) that I am
set (that is, appointed by God, 1Th 3:3) for the defense of the Gospel (Php 1:7, not on my own account). But the
others out of contention (or rather, 'a factious spirit';
'cabal'; a spirit of intrigue, using unscrupulous means to compass
their end; 'self-seeking' [Alford])
proclaim (the Greek is not the same as that for 'preach,'
but, 'announce') Christ, not sincerely (answering to 'but of a
spirit of intrigue,' or 'self-seeking'). Literally, 'not purely'; not
with a pure intention; the Jewish leaven they tried to introduce was in
order to glorify themselves (Ga 6:12, 13; however, see on Php
1:18), thinking (but in vain) to raise up (so the oldest
manuscripts read) tribulation to my bonds." Their thought
was, that taking the opportunity of my being laid aside, they would
exalt themselves by their Judaizing preaching, and depreciate me and my
preaching, and so cause me trouble of spirit in my bonds; they thought
that I, like themselves, sought my own glory, and so would be mortified
at their success over mine. But they are utterly mistaken; "I rejoice"
at it (Php
1:18), so far am I from being
troubled at it.
18. What follows from this? Does this trouble
me as they thought it would? "Notwithstanding" their unkind
thought to me, and self-seeking intention, the cause I have at
heart is furthered "every way" of preaching, "whether in pretense (with
a by motive, Php 1:16) or
in truth (out of true 'love' to Christ, Php 1:17), Christ is proclaimed; and
therein I do rejoice, yea, and I will rejoice." From this it would seem
that these self-seeking teachers in the main "proclaimed Christ," not
"another Gospel," such as the Judaizers in Galatia taught (Ga 1:6-8); though probably having some of the
Jewish leaven (see on Php 1:15,16), their
chief error was their self-seeking envious motive, not so
much error of doctrine; had there been vital error, Paul would
not have rejoiced. The proclamation of Christ," however done, roused attention, and so was
sure to be of service. Paul could thus rejoice at the good result of
their bad intentions (Ps 76:10; Isa 10:5, 7).
19. turn to my salvation—"turn out
to me for, (or unto) salvation." This proclamation
of Christ every way will turn out to my spiritual good. Christ,
whose interests are my interests, being glorified thereby; and so the
coming of His kingdom being furthered, which, when it does come, will
bring completed "SALVATION" (Heb 9:28) to me and all whose "earnest
expectation" (Php 1:20) is
that Christ may be magnified in them. So far is their preaching from
causing me, as they thought, tribulation in my bonds (Php 1:16). Paul plainly quotes and applies
to himself the very words of the Septuagint (Job 13:16), "This shall turn out to my salvation,"
which belong to all God's people of every age, in their tribulation
(compare Job 13:15).
through your prayer and the supply—The
Greek intimately joins the two nouns together, by having but one
preposition and one article: "Through your prayer and (the
consequent) supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (obtained for me
through your prayer)."
20. According to my earnest
expectation—The Greek expresses, "expectation with
uplifted head (Lu 21:28)
and outstretched neck." Ro 8:19 is the only other place in the New
Testament that the word occurs. Tittmann
says, in both places it implies not mere expectation, but the
anxious desire of an anticipated prosperous issue in afflictive
circumstances. The subject of his earnest expectation which
follows, answers to "my salvation" (Php 1:19).
in nothing I shall be ashamed—in
nothing have reason to be ashamed of "my work for God, or His work in
me" [Alford]. Or, "in nothing be
disappointed in my hope, but that I may fully obtain it"
[Estius]. So "ashamed" is used in Ro 9:33.
all boldness—"all" is opposed to "in
nothing," as "boldness" is the opposite to "ashamed."
so now also—when "my body" is "in
Christ—not Paul, "shall be
life, or by death—Whatever be the
issue, I cannot lose; I must be the gainer by the event. Paul was not
omniscient; in the issue of things pertaining to themselves, the
apostles underwent the same probation of faith and patience as we.
21. For—in either event (Php 1:20) I must be the gainer, "For to me,"
to live is Christ—whatever life, time,
and strength, I have, is Christ's; Christ is the sole object for which
I live (Ga
to die is gain—not the act of dying,
but as the Greek ("to have died") expresses, the state after
death. Besides the glorification of Christ by my death, which is my
primary object (Php 1:20),
the change of state caused by death, so far from being a matter of
shame (Php 1:20) or
loss, as my enemies suppose, will be a positive "gain" to me.
22. Rather as Greek, "But if to live in
the flesh (if), this (I say, the continuance in life which I am
undervaluing) be the fruit of my labor (that is, be the condition in
which the fruit of my ministerial labor is involved), then what
I shall choose I know not (I cannot determine with myself, if the
choice were given me, both alternatives being great goods alike)." So
Alford and Ellicott. Bengel
takes it as English Version, which the Greek will bear by
supposing an ellipsis, "If to live in the flesh (be my portion), this
(continuing to live) is the fruit of my labor," that is, this
continuance in life will be the occasion of my bringing in "the fruit
of labor," that is, will be the occasion of "labors" which are their
own "fruit" or reward; or, this my continuing "to live" will have this
"fruit," namely, "labors" for Christ. Grotius explains "the fruit of labor" as an idiom
for "worthwhile"; If I live in the flesh, this is worth my while, for
thus Christ's interest will be advanced, "For to me to live is Christ"
1:21; compare Php 2:30; Ro
1:13). The second
alternative, namely, dying, is taken up and handled, Php 2:17, "If I be offered."
23. For—The oldest manuscripts read,
"But." "I know not (Php 1:22),
BUT am in a strait (am perplexed)
betwixt the two (namely, 'to live' and 'to die'), having the
desire for departing (literally, 'to loose anchor,' 2Ti 4:6) and being with Christ; FOR (so the oldest manuscripts) it is by far
better"; or as the Greek, more forcibly, "by far the more
preferable"; a double comparative. This refutes the notion of the
soul being dormant during its separation from the body. It also shows
that, while he regarded the Lord's advent as at all times near, yet
that his death before it was a very possible contingency. The
partial life eternal is in the interval between death and
Christ's second advent; the perfectional, at that advent [Bishop Pearson]. To depart is better
than to remain in the flesh; to be with Christ is far, far
better; a New Testament hope (Heb 12:24), [Bengel].
24. to abide—to continue somewhat
for you—Greek, "on your
account"; "for your sake." In order to be of service to you, I
am willing to forego my entrance a little sooner into blessedness;
heaven will not fail to be mine at last.
25. Translate, "And being confident of
I know, &c.—by prophetical
intimations of the Spirit. He did not yet know the issue, as far as
human appearances were concerned (Php 2:23). He doubtless returned from his first
captivity to Philippi (Heb 13:19; Phm 22).
joy of faith—Greek, "joy in
26. Translate, "That your matter of glorying
(or rejoicing) may abound in Christ Jesus in me (that is, in my
case; in respect to me, or for me who have been granted
to your prayers, Php 1:19)
through my presence again among you." Alford makes the "matter of glorying," the
possession of the Gospel, received from Paul, which would abound,
be assured and increased, by his presence among them; thus, "in me,"
implies that Paul is the worker of the material of abounding in Christ
Jesus. But "my rejoicing over you" (Php 2:16), answers plainly to "your
rejoicing in respect to me" here.
27. Only—Whatever happens as to my
coming to you, or not, make this your one only care. By supposing this
or that future contingency, many persuade themselves they will be such
as they ought to be, but it is better always without evasion to perform
present duties under present circumstances [Bengel].
let your conversation be—(Compare
3:20). The Greek
implies, "Let your walk as citizens (namely, of the heavenly
state; 'the city of the living God,' Heb 12:22, 'the heavenly Jerusalem,' 'fellow
citizens of the saints,' Eph 2:19)
I … see … hear—so Php 1:30. "Hear," in order to include both
alternatives, must include the meaning know.
your affairs—your state.
in one spirit—the fruit of partaking
of the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:3, 4).
with one mind—rather as Greek,
"soul," the sphere of the affections; subordinate to the
"Spirit," man's higher and heavenly nature. "There is sometimes natural
antipathies among believers; but these are overcome, when there is not
only unity of spirit, but also of soul" [Bengel].
striving together—with united
28. terrified—literally, said of horses
or other animals startled or suddenly scared; so of sudden
consternation in general.
which—your not being terrified.
evident token of perdition—if they
would only perceive it (2Th 1:5). It
attests this, that in contending hopelessly against you, they are only
rushing on to their own perdition, not shaking your united faith and
to you of salvation—The oldest
manuscripts read, "of your salvation"; not merely your
29. For—rather, a proof that this is an
evident token from God of your salvation, "Because," &c.
it is given—Greek, "it has
been granted as a favor," or "gift of grace." Faith is the
gift of God (Eph 2:8), not
wrought in the soul by the will of man, but by the Holy Ghost (Joh 1:12,
believe on him—"To believe
Him," would merely mean to believe He speaks the truth. "To
believe on Him," is to believe in, and trust through, Him to
obtain eternal salvation. Suffering for Christ is not only not a
mark of God's anger, but a gift of His grace.
30. ye saw in me—(Ac 16:12,
19, &c.; 1Th 2:2). I am
"in nothing terrified by mine adversaries" (Php 1:29), so ought not ye. The words here, "ye
saw … and … hear," answer to "I come and see you, or
else … hear" (Php 1:27).