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Exhortation to a Holy Life
Summary —Like-mindedness Commended. Lowliness Enjoined. The Lowliness and the Exaltation of Christ. Working Out Their Own Salvation. Becoming Lights in the World. The Relations of Paul and Timothy. Epaphroditus and His Sickness.
1–4. If there be therefore any consolation, etc. The apostle does not doubt that there is consolation, comfort, spiritual fellowship, etc., in Christ, but bases an exhortation on what the Philippians knew to be the case. Bowels and mercies. “Tender mercies and compassion,” as in the Revision. 2. Fulfil ye my joy. Make my joy full. They had already given him much joy (4:1–10), but he 214desired one thing more; viz., that they be like-minded, in full agreement, perfect harmony. Having the same love. Loving one another with pure hearts fervently. Being of one accord. Of one heart and soul. No outward strife. 3. Nothing through strife or vain glory. No party spirit or striving for human praise. Let each esteem, etc. Instead of exalting himself, each is to exalt others in his esteem. He that is willing to serve is greatest. 4. Look not every man on his own things. Do not look out for your own interests alone, but for the interests of others rather than your own.
5–8. Let this mind be in you. He points to Christ as the example of humility and consecration to the good of others. 6. Who, being in the form of God. He refers to the state of our Savior before he took human form. His form was divine. “He had a glory with the father before the world was.” See John 1:1; 2 Cor. 4:4; Heb. 1:3, etc. Thought it not robbery to be equal with God. The Revision says, “Counted it not a prize.” The meaning is not entirely clear, but probably is that “Having a form of glory like God, he did not count it a prize which must be clung to tenaciously, especially when he appeared upon the earth, that he should be equal with God, that is, appear in a divine form, but was willing to lay aside his glory and make himself a servant.” 7. Emptied himself. Of the divine form and glory, and took the form of a servant, of our own race, a race whose duty it is to serve God. The divine glory was exchanged for human lowliness. 8. He humbled himself. Note the infinite condescension: (1) The form of God and sharing the divine glory. (2) He divests himself of this. (3) Nor does he then take the divine form, or even the form of an angel, but of lowly, sinful man. (4) But this is not all. He not only takes the form of man, but the mortality of the flesh, and dies. (5) Nay, more; he dies the most shameful and painful of all deaths, even the death of the cross.
9–11. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him. His wonderful humility had been shown, but it is the law of the universe that he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Therefore God lifted him up from the grave to the heavens, gave all power into his hands (Matt. 28:18), and gave him a name above every name. The idea is an authority, a position, above that of all intelligences. This 215exaltation made the humble name, Jesus, a name above every name. 10. That at the name of Jesus. That name, by the exaltation, has become the name of the King of kings. It is supreme. Hence, every knee in all the universe bows to its majesty. Under the earth. In the under-world, hades, the abode of the dead. 11. And that every tongue should confess. All the universe is called to confess him as Lord, and thus glorify God. All will yet confess him, either in joy or shame.
12, 13. Wherefore, my beloved. From the contemplation of Christ's glory, the apostle turns to the lessons needed by the Philippian church. Work out your own salvation. While Christ is our Savior, and the author of our salvation, we must accept him and work together with him. Hence the Holy Spirit says, “Save yourselves” (Acts 2:40), and “work out your own salvation.” Unless we do our part Christ cannot save us. With fear and trembling. With constant anxiety not to fail. 13. For it is God which worketh in you. God works in the converted person by his word and Spirit. His Spirit is a helper. It does not destroy our free will, for we may resist it (1 Thess. 5:19). Both to will and to work. God shows his will by his word and spirit and work in us. We ought to heed it. We can work in harmony with the divine will, or we may reject to our damnation. His good pleasure. As seemeth best to him.
14–18. Do all things without murmurings. Without complaining. Some persons pass their lives complaining. 15. The sons of God. Those of so high estate ought to be harmless, blameless, and in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, a wicked world, they should shine as lights by their pure and holy lives. 16. Holding forth the word of life. Always preaching Christ in word, in life, and in deed. That was their work. Unless they did this they were a failure. That I may rejoice. Unless they had done so he would be made to feel, in the day of Christ, the day of accounts, that his labor at Philippi was in vain. 17. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice, etc. He is willing to die as a sacrifice for Christ, martyred because he has preached the gospel to the Gentiles, if it will be an encouragement to their faith. He will even rejoice in death if it will help the cause of Christ. The imagery used was familiar to those who had so often seen victims sacrificed as offerings in the heathen temples. 18. Rejoice with me. Like me, rejoice in the prospect of death, if thereby Christ may be glorified.
19–24. I trust in the Lord Jesus. Through the help of the Lord. To send Timothy. His companion at Rome at this time, his beloved convert and fellow-laborer. See notes on 1:1. That I may be of good comfort. When he returns from visiting you and shows me your state. 20. For I have no man like-minded. No one else is here with me who will so well represent my feelings and views when 216he visits you. 21. For all seek their own. Others, who were at hand, were more mindful of their own interests than of Christ's cause. We infer from this that of his faithful fellow-preachers none were in Rome save Timothy. 22. Ye know the proof of him. You have seen him and know him. Timothy had more than once visited Philippi before this (2 Cor. 2:9; 13:3). As a son with a father. Timothy was his convert, and showed him a tender reverence. 23. So soon as I shall see, etc. As soon as there is some decision in his case, showing whether he will be released, or what may be his fate, he will send Timothy. 24. But I trust. Yet he expects by the Lord's help to be released, and to visit them himself. See note on 1:25, 26.
25–30. Epaphroditus. He will now send back Epaphroditus, the messenger they had sent to Paul with their offerings, one who had been so welcome, a “brother, and companion in labor, and fellow-soldier.” 26. For he longed after you all. Was very desirous to see you. Full of heaviness. Heart-sickness. He had been sick. We thus learn that their messenger had a serious sickness while in Rome. Of course the news of this caused great anxiety at home. 27. God had mercy on him. He was “nigh to death,” but God in his mercy spared him. Sorrow upon sorrow. His death would have been a great sorrow to Paul, who had already many sorrows. 28. I sent him therefore the more diligently. Because his brethren at home were so anxious about him. Their joy in seeing him will be a joy to Paul also, so that he will be the less sorrowful over his absence. 29. Receive him. Give him a glad welcome. Hold such as he in high reputation. 30. Because. Because it was his work for Christ, his refusal to spare himself, his supreme anxiety to supply by his own service the absence of the church, which brought on his sickness. 217
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