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THIS chapter is made up principally of exhortations to the performance of various Christian duties, and the exhibition of Christian virtues. The apostle first exhorts the Philippians, in the most tender manner, so to live as to give him joy, by evincing among themselves unity and concord. He entreats them to do nothing by strife and a desire of distinction, but to evince that humility which is manifested when we regard others as more worthy than we are, Php 2:1-4. This exhortation he enforces in a most impressive manner by a reference to the example of Christian example of condescension and humiliation fitted to repress in us all the aspirings of ambition and to make us ready to submit to the most humble offices to benefit others, Php 2:5-11. He then exhorts them to work out their salvation with diligence, assuring them, for their encouragement, that God worketh in them to will and to do of his good pleasure, Php 2:12,13. To this he adds an exhortation, that they would avoid everything like murmuring and disputing that they would be blameless and harmless in their walk, showing the excellency of the religion which they loved to all around them, and exerting such an influence on others that Paul might feel that he had not laboured in vain, Php 2:14-16. To excite them to this, he assures them that he was ready himself to be sacrificed for their welfare, and should rejoice if, by his laying down his life, their happiness would be promoted. He asked the same thing in return from them, Php 2:17,18. He then tells them, in expressing his interest in them, that he hoped soon to be able to send Timothy to them again a man who felt a deep interest in their welfare, and whose going to them would be one of the highest proofs of the apostle's love, Php 2:19-24. The same love for them, he says, he had now shown to them by sending to them Epaphroditus—a man to whom he was tenderly attached, and who had an earnest desire again to return to the church from which he had been sent. Paul sent him, therefore, again to Philippi, that he might be with them and comfort them, and he asked for him a kind reception and affectionate treatment, in view of the sufferings which he had experienced in the cause of the Redeemer, Php 2:25-30.

Verse 1. If there be therefore any consolation in Christ. This, with what is said in the remainder of the verse, is designed as a motive for what he exhorts them to in Php 2:2—that they would be of the same mind, and would thus fulfil his joy. To urge them to this, he appeals to the tender considerations which religion furnished— and begins by a reference to the consolation which there was in Christ. The meaning here may be this: "I am now persecuted and afflicted. In my trials it will give me the highest joy to learn that you act as become Christians. You also are persecuted and afflicted, Php 1:28-30; and, in these circumstances, I entreat that the highest consolation may be sought; and by all that is tender and sacred in the Christian religion, I conjure you so to live as not to dishonour the gospel. So live as to bring down the highest consolation which can be obtained—the consolation which Christ alone can impart." We are not to suppose that Paul doubted whether there was any consolation in Christ, but the form of expression here is one that is designed to urge upon them the duty of seeking the highest possible. The consolation in Christ is that which Christ furnishes or imparts. Paul regarded him as the source of all comfort, and earnestly prays that they might so live that he and they might avail themselves in the fullest sense of that unspeakable enjoyment. The idea is, that Christians ought at all times, and especially in affliction, so to act as to secure the highest possible happiness which their Saviour can impart to them. Such an object is worth their highest effort; and if God sees it needful, in order to that, that they should endure much affliction, still it is gain. Religious consolation is always worth all which it costs to secure it.

If any comfort of love. If there be any comfort in the exercise of tender affection. That there is, no one can doubt. Our happiness is almost all centred in love. It is when we love a parent, a wife, a child, a sister, a neighbour, that we have the highest earthly enjoyment. It is in the love of God, of Christ, of Christians, of the souls of men, that the redeemed find their highest happiness. Hatred is a passion full of misery; love an emotion full of joy. By this consideration, Paul appeals to them, and the motive here is drawn from all the joy which mutual love and sympathy are fitted to produce in the soul. Paul would have that love exercised in the highest degree, and would have them enjoy all the happiness which its mutual exercise could furnish.

If any fellowship of the Spirit. The word "fellowship" koinwnia—means that which is common to two or more; that of which they partake together. See Barnes "Eph 3:9"; See Barnes "Php 1:5".

The idea here is, that among Christians there was a participation in the influences of the Holy Ghost; that they shared, in some degree, the feelings, views, and joys of the sacred Spirit himself; and that this was a privilege of the highest order. By this fact, Paul now exhorts them to unity, love, and zeal—so to live that they might partake, in the highest degree, of the consolations of the Spirit.

If any bowels and mercies. If there is any affectionate bond by which you are united to me, and any regard for my sorrows, and any desire to fill up my joys, so live as to impart to me, your spiritual father and friend, the consolation which I seek.

{a} "any bowels" Col 3:12 {*} "bowels" "tender regards"

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