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2. Imitating Christ's Humility
1If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, 2make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; 3doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; 4not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. 5Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. 9Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; 10that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, 11and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. 14Do all things without murmurings and questionings: 15that ye may become blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye are seen as lights in the world, 16holding forth the word of life; that I may have whereof to glory in the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain neither labor in vain. 17Yea, and if I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all: 18and in the same manner do ye also joy, and rejoice with me. 19But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. 20For I have no man likeminded, who will care truly for your state. 21For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. 22But ye know the proof of him, that, as a child serveth a father, so he served with me in furtherance of the gospel. 23Him therefore I hope to send forthwith, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me: 24but I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall come shortly. 25But I counted it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need; 26since he longed after you all, and was sore troubled, because ye had heard that he was sick: 27for indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow. 28I have sent him therefore the more diligently, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy; and hold such in honor: 30because for the work of Christ he came nigh unto death, hazarding his life to supply that which was lacking in your service toward me.
15 The sons of God, unreprovable. It ought to be rendered — unreprovable, because ye are the sons of God. For God’s adoption of us ought to be a motive to a blameless life, that we may in some degree resemble our Father. Now, although there never has been such perfection in the world as to have nothing worthy of reproof, those are, nevertheless, said to be unreprovable who aim at this with the whole bent of their mind, as has been observed elsewhere. 129129 Our Author most probably refers to what he had stated when commenting on 1 Corinthians 1:8. See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 1, pp. 58, 59. — Ed.
In the midst of a wicked generation. Believers, it is true, live on earth, intermingled with the wicked; 130130 “Mesles auec les infideles et meschans;” — “Mingled with the unbelieving and the wicked.” they breathe the same air, they enjoy the same soil, and at that time 131131 “Et lors mesme que S. Paul escriuoit ceci;” — “And even at the time that St. Paul wrote this.” they were even more intermingled, inasmuch as there could scarcely be found a single pious family that was not surrounded on all sides by unbelievers. So much the more does Paul stir up the Philippians to guard carefully against all corruptions. The meaning therefore is this: “You are, it is true, inclosed in the midst of the wicked; but, in the mean time, bear in mind that you are, by God’s adoption, separated from them: let there be, therefore, in your manner of life, conspicuous marks by which you may be distinguished. Nay more, this consideration ought to stir you up the more to aim at a pious and holy life, that we may not also be a part of the crooked generation, 132132 “De la generation peruerse et maudite;” — “Of the perverse and accursed generation.” entangled by their vices and contagion.”
As to his calling them a wicked and crooked generation, this corresponds with the connection of the passage. For he teaches us that we must so much the more carefully take heed on this account — that many occasions of offense are stirred up by unbelievers, which disturb their right course; and the whole life of unbelievers is, as it were, a labyrinth of various windings, that draw us off from the right way. They are, however, notwithstanding, epithets of perpetual application, that are descriptive of unbelievers of all nations and in all ages. For if the heart of man is wicked and unsearchable, (Jeremiah 17:9,) what will be the fruits springing from such a root? Hence we are taught in these words, that in the life of man there is nothing pure, nothing right, until he has been renewed by the Spirit of God.
Among whom shine ye. The termination of the Greek word is doubtful, for it might be taken as the indicative — ye shine; but the imperative suits better with the exhortation. He would have believers be as lamps, which shine amidst the darkness of the world, as though he had said, “Believers, it is true, are children of the night, and there is in the world nothing but darkness; but God has enlightened you for this end, that the purity of your life may shine forth amidst that darkness, that his grace may appear the more illustrious.” Thus, also, it is said by the Prophet,
“The Lord will arise upon thee,
and his glory will be seen upon thee.”(Isaiah 60:2.)
He adds immediately afterwards, “The Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy countenance.” Though Isaiah speaks there rather of doctrine, while Paul speaks here of an exemplary life, yet, even in relation to doctrine, Christ in another passage specially designates the Apostles the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14.)