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1. Thanksgiving and Prayer

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: 2Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

12But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: 17But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. 18What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 25And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; 26That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again. 27Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 29For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

1 Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ While Paul is accustomed, in the inscription of his epistles, to employ titles of distinction, with the view of procuring credit for himself and his ministry, there was no need of lengthened commendations in writing to the Philippians, who had known him by experience as a true Apostle of Christ, and still acknowledged him as such beyond all controversy. For they had persevered in the calling of God steadfastly, and in an even tenor. 2424     “Sans se desbaucher;” — “Without corrupting themselves.”

Bishops He names the pastors separately, for the sake of honor. We may, however, infer from this, that the name of bishop is common to all the ministers of the Word, inasmuch as he assigns several bishops to one Church. The titles, therefore, of bishop and pastor, are synonymous. And this is one of the passages which Jerome quotes for proving this in his epistle to Evagrius, 2525     “Evagrius, a native of Antioch, and a presbyter apparently of the Church of Antioch. He traveled into the west of Europe, and was acquainted with Jerome, who describes him as a man acris ac ferventis ingenii, (of a keen and warm temper.)” — Smith’s Dictionary of Greek Biography and Mythology. — Ed. and in his exposition of the Epistle to Titus. 2626     The reader will find both of the passages referred to quoted at full length in the Institutes, vol. iii. pp. 75, 76. — Ed. Afterwards 2727     “Depuis les temps de l’Apostre;” — “After the times of the Apostle.” there crept in the custom of applying the name of bishop exclusively to the person whom the presbyters in each church appointed over their company. 2828     “Ordonnoyent conducteur de leur congregation;” — “Appointed leader of their congregation.” It originated, however, in a human custom, and rests on no Scripture authority. I acknowledge, indeed, that, as the minds and manners of men are, there cannot be order maintained among the ministers of the word, without one presiding over the others. I speak of particular bodies, 2929     “De chacun corps d’Eglise en particulier;” — “Of each body of the Church in particular.” not of whole provinces, much less of the whole world. Now, although we must not contend for words, it were at the same time better for us in speaking to follow the Holy Spirit, the author of tongues, than to change for the worse forms of speech which are dictated to us by Him. For from the corrupted signification of the word this evil has resulted, that, as if all the presbyters 3030     “Tous prestres et pasteurs;” — “All priests and pastors.” were not colleagues, called to the same office, one of them, under the pretext of a new appellation, usurped dominion over the others.

Deacons. This term may be taken in two ways — either as meaning administrators, and curators of the poor, or for elders, who were appointed for the regulation of morals. As, however, it is more generally made use of by Paul in the former sense, I understand it rather as meaning stewards, who superintended the distributing and receiving of alms. On the other points consult the preceding commentaries.

3 I give thanks. He begins with thanksgiving 3131     “Vne protestation, qu’il est ioyeux de leur bien;” — “A protestation, that he is delighted on account of their welfare.” on two accounts — first, that he may by this token shew his love to the Philippians; and secondly, that, by commending them as to the past, he may exhort them, also, to perseverance in time to come. He adduces, also, another evidence of his love — the anxiety which he exercised in supplications. It is to be observed, however, that, whenever he makes mention of things that are joyful, he immediately breaks forth into thanksgiving — a practice with which we ought also to be familiar. We must, also, take notice, what things they are for which he gives thanks to God, — the fellowship of the Philippians in the gospel of Christ; for it follows from this, that it ought to be ascribed to the grace of God. When he says, upon every remembrance of you, he means, “As often as I remember you.”


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