Philippians 4:15-23

15. Now, ye Philippians, know also, that in the beginnng of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me, as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

15. Nostis autem et vos Philippenses, quod initio Evangelii, qunado exivi ex Macedonia, nulla mecum Ecclesia in ratione dati et accepti, nisi vos soli.

16. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

16. Nam et Tessalonicam semel atque iterum mihi, quod opus erat, misistis:

17. Not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

17. Non quia requiram donum, sed requiro fructum, qui exsuperet in rationem vestram.

18. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.

18. Accepi autem omnia et abundo, impletus sum, postquam ab Epaphrodito accepi, quai missa sunt a vobis in odorem bonae fragrantiae, sacrificium acceptum gractum Deo.

19. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

19. Deus autem meus implebit, quicquid vobis opus est, secundum divitias suas in gloria per Christum Iesum.

20. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

20. Porro Deo et Patri nostro gloria in secula seculorum. Amen.

21. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.

21. Salutate omnes sanctos in Christo Iesu. Salutant vos qui mecum sunt fratres.

22. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Cesar's household.

22. Salutant vos omnes sancti: maxime qui sunt ex domo Caesaris.

23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

23. Gratia domini nostri Iesu Christi cum omnibus vobis. Amen.

It was written to the Philippians from Rome by Epaphroditus.

Scripta est a roma per Epaphroditum.


15. And ye know. I understand this to have been added by way of excuse, inasmuch as he often received something from them, for if the other Churches had discharged their duty, it might have seemed as though he were too eager to receive. Hence in clearing himself he praises them, and in praising them he modestly excuses others. We must also, after Paul's example, take heed lest the pious, on seeing us too much inclined to receive from others, should on good grounds reckon us to be insatiable. You also know, says he. "I do not require to call in other witnesses, for ye yourselves also know."For it frequently happens, that when one thinks that others are deficient in duty, he is the more liberal in giving assistance.Thus the liberality of some escapes the notice of others.

In the matter of giving and receiving. He alludes to pecuniary matters, in which there are two parts, the one receiving, the other expending. It is necessary that these should be brought to an equality by mutual compensation. There was an account of this nature carried on between Paul and the Churches 1. While Paul administered the gospel to them, there was an obligation devolving upon them in return for supplying what was necessary for the support of his life, as he says elsewhere,

If we dispense to you spiritual thinqs, is it a great matter if you give in return carnal things? (1 Corinthians 9:11.)

Hence, if the other churches had relieved Paul's necessities, they would have been giving nothing gratuitously, but would have been simply paying their debt, for they ought to have aclcnowledged themselves indebted to him for the gospel. This, however, he acknowledges, had not been the case, inasmuch as they had not laid out anything on his account. What base ingratitude, and how very unseemly, to treat such an Apostle with neglect, to whom they knew themselves to be under obligation beyond their power to discharge! On the other hand, how great the forbearance of this holy man, to bear with their inhumanity with so much gentleness and indulgence, as not to make use of one sharp word by way of accusing them!

17. Not that I demand a gift. Again he repels an unfavourable opinion that might be formed of immoderate cupidity, that they might not suppose that it was an indirect hint 2, as if they ought singly to stand in the room of all 3, and as if he abused their kindness. He accordingly declares, that he consulted not so much his own advantage as theirs. "While I receive from you,"says he, "there is proportionably much advantage that redounds to yourselves; for there are just so many articles that you may reckon to have been transferred to the table of accounts."The meaning of this word 4 is connected with the similitude formerly employed of exchange or compensation in pecuniary matters.

18. I have received all things, and abound. He declares in more explicit terms, that he has what is sufficient, and honors their liberality with a remarkable testimony, by saying, that he has been filled. It was undoubtedly a moderate sum that they had sent, but he says, that by means of that moderate sum he is filled to satiety. It is, however, a more distinguished commendation that he bestows upon the gift in what follows, when he calls it a sacrifice acceptable, and presented as the odour of a good fragrance. For what better thing can be desired than that our acts of kindness should be sacred offerings, which God receives from our hands, and takes pleasure in their sweet odour? For the same reason Christ says, Whatsoever ye shall have done unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me.

The similitude of sacrifices, however, adds much emphasis, by which we are taught, that the exercise of love which God enjoins upon us, is not merely a benefit conferred upon man, but is also a spiritual and sacred service which is performed to God, as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that he is well pleased with such sacrifices. (Hebrews 13:16.) Alas for our indolence! 5--which appears in this, that while God invites us with so much kindness to the honor of priesthood, and even puts sacrifices in our hands, we nevertheless do not sacrifice to him, and those things which were set apart for sacred oblations we not only lay out for profane uses, but squander them wickedly upon the most polluted contaminations. 6 For the altars, on which sacrifices from our resources ought to be presented, are the poor, and the servants of Christ. To the neglect of these some squander their resources on every kind of luxury, others upon the palate, others upon immodest attire, others upon magnificent dwellings. 7

19. My God will supply. Some read impleat--in the optative--May he supply. 8 While I do not reject this reading, I approve more of the other. He expressly makes mention of God as his, because he owns and acknowledges as done to himself whatever kindness is shewn to his servants. They had therefore been truly sowing in the Lord's field, from which a sure and abundant harvest might be expected. Nor does he promise them merely a reward in the future life, but even in respect of the necessities of the present life: "Do not think that you have impoverished yourselves; God, whom I serve, will abundantly furnish you with everything necessary for you."The phrase, in glory, ought to be taken in place of the adverb gloriously, as meaning magnificently, or splendidly. He adds, however, by Christ, in whose name everything that we do is acceptable to God.

20. Now to our God and Father. This may be taken as a general thanksgiving, by which he closes the epistle; or it may be viewed as bearing more particularly upon the last clause in reference to the liberality shewn to Paul 9. For in respect of the assistance which the Philipplans had afforded him, it became him to reckon himself indebted to them for it in such a manner as to acknowledge, that this aid had been afforded to them by the mercy of God.

22. The brethren that are with me salute you. In these salutations he names first of all his intimate associates, 10 afterwards all the saints in general, that is, the whole Church at Rome, but chiefly those of the household of Nero--a thing well deserving to be noticed; for it is no common evidence of divine mercy, that the gospel had made its way into that sink of all crimes and iniquities. It is also the more to be admired, in proportion as it is a rare thing for holiness to reign in the courts of sovereigns. The conjecture formed by some, that Seneca is here referred to among others, has no appearance of foundation; for he never gave any evidence, even the smallest, of his being a Christian; nor did he belong to the household of Caesar, but was a senator, and had at one time held the office of praetor 11.


1 "Il y auoit quelque telle condition et conuenance entre Sainct Paul et les Eglises;"-- "There was some such condition and correspondence between St. Paul and the Churches."

2 Pour les induire a continuer;"-- "To induce them to hold on."

3 "Comme si eux deussent tenir la place de tous, et faire pour les autres;"-- "As if they ought to hold the place of all, and to act in the room of others."

4 Calvin evidently refers to the word (account,) which the Apostle had made use of in the fifteenth verse, in the phrase (in the matter of giving and receiving.) It is noticed by Beza, that the Rabbins make use of a corresponding phrase (mattan umassa)--giving and taking.--Ed.

5 "Or mauditc soit nostre paresse;"-- "But accursed be our indolence."

6 "Les consumons prodigalement et meschamment en choses infames et abominables;"-- "We lay them out lavishly and wickedly on things infamous and abominable."

7 "Les vns dependent tout leur bien en toutes de dissolutions, les autres en gouermandise et yurognerie, les autres en brauetes excessiues, les autres a bastir des palais somptueux;"-- "Some lay out all their wealth on all kinds of luxuries, others on eating and drinking, others superfluous elegance of dress, others in building sumptuous palaces."

8 "Comme si c'estoit vn souhait que sainct Paul feist;"-- "As if it were a wish that St. Paul expressed."

9 "La liberalitc de laquelle les Philippiens auoyent vse enuers sainct Paul;"-- "The liberality which the Philipilans had exercised towards St. Paul."

10 "Les compagnons,qui demeuroyent auec luy;"-- "His associates who lived with him."

11 "Some imagine,"says Dr. A. Clarke, "that Seneca, the preceptor of Nero, and the poet Lucan, were converted by St. Paul; and there are still extant, and in a MS. now before me, letters which profess to have passed between Paul and Seneca; but they are worthy of neither. They have been printed in some editions of Seneca's works." --Ed.