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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.

6 Persuaded of this very thing. An additional ground of joy is furnished in his confidence in them for the time to come. 3333     “Qu’il se confioit d’eux qu’ils perseuereroyent de reste de leur vie;” — “That he had confidence in them that they would persevere during the remainder of their life.” But some one will say, why should men dare to assure themselves for to-morrow amidst so great an infirmity of nature, amidst so many impediments, ruggednesses, and precipices? 3434     “Entre tant d’empeschemens, mauuais passages et fascheuses rencontres, voire mesme des dangers de tomber tout a plat en perdition;” — “Amidst so many impediments, hard passes, and disagreeable collisions, nay, even so many hazards of falling headlong into perdition.” Paul, assuredly, did not derive this confidence from the steadfastness or excellence of men, but simply from the fact, that God had manifested his love to the Philippians. And undoubtedly this is the true manner of acknowledging God’s benefits — when we derive from them occasion of hoping well as to the future. 3535     See CALVIN on the Corinthians, vol. 2, p. 121. For as they are tokens at once of his goodness, and of his fatherly benevolence towards us, what ingratitude were it to derive from this no confirmation of hope and good courage! In addition to this, God is not like men, so as to be wearied out or exhausted by conferring kindness. 3636     “Il ne se lasse point en bien faisant, et son thresor ne diminue point;” — “He does not weary himself in doing good, and does not diminish his treasure.” Let, therefore, believers exercise themselves in constant meditation upon the favors which God confers, that they may encourage and confirm hope as to the time to come, and always ponder in their mind this syllogism: God does not forsake the work which his own hands have begun, as the Prophet bears witness, (Psalm 138:8; Isaiah 64:8;) we are the work of his hands; therefore he will complete what he has begun in us. When I say that we are the work of his hands, I do not refer to mere creation, but to the calling by which we are adopted into the number of his sons. For it is a token to us of our election, that the Lord has called us effectually to himself by his Spirit.

It is asked, however, whether any one can be certain as to the salvation of others, for Paul here is not speaking of himself but of the Philippians. I answer, that the assurance which an individual has respecting his own salvation, is very different from what he has as to that of another. For the Spirit of God is a witness to me of my calling, as he is to each of the elect. As to others, we have no testimony, except from the outward efficacy of the Spirit; that is, in so far as the grace of God shews itself in them, so that we come to know it. There is, therefore, a great difference, because the assurance of faith remains inwardly shut up, and does not extend itself to others. But wherever we see any such tokens of Divine election as can be perceived by us, we ought immediately to be stirred up to entertain good hope, both in order that we may not be envious 3737     “Enuieux et desdaigneux;” — “Envious and disdainful.” towards our neighbors, and withhold from them an equitable and kind judgment of charity; and also, that we may be grateful to God. 3838     “Pour recognoistre le bien que Dieu leur a fait, et n’estre point ingrats enuers luy;” — “That we may acknowledge the kindness which God has shewn them, and may not be ungrateful to him.” This, however, is a general rule both as to ourselves and as to others — that, distrusting our own strength, we depend entirely upon God alone.

Until the day of Jesus Christ The chief thing, indeed, to be understood here is — until the termination of the conflict. Now the conflict is terminated by death. As, however, the Spirit is accustomed to speak in this manner in reference to the last coming of Christ, it were better to extend the advancement of the grace of Christ to the resurrection of the flesh. For although those who have been freed from the mortal body do no longer contend with the lusts of the flesh, and are, as the expression is, beyond the reach of a single dart, 3939     “Extra teli jactum“ — Virgil makes use of a corresponding phrase — “intra jactum teli;” — “Within the reach of a dart.” Virg. Æn. 11:608. — Ed. yet there will be no absurdity in speaking of them as in the way of advancement, 4040     “En voye de proufiter, ou auancer;” — “In the way of making progress, or advancement.” inasmuch as they have not yet reached the point at which they aspire, — they do not yet enjoy the felicity and glory which they have hoped for; and in fine, the day has not yet shone which is to discover the treasures which lie hid in hope. And in truth, when hope is treated of, our eyes must always be directed forward to a blessed resurrection, as the grand object in view.


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