RPM, Volume 18, Number 30, September 25 to October 1, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament
Explanatory and Practical
Part 73

By Albert Barnes




PHILIPPI is mentioned in the New Testament only in the following places and connexions. In Ac 16:11,12, it is said that Paul and his fellow-travellers "loosed from Troas, came with a straight course to Samothracia and Neapolis, and from thence to Philippi." It was at this time that the" Lord opened the heart of Lydia to attend to the things which were spoken by Paul," and that the jailer was converted under such interesting circumstances. In Ac 20:1-6, it appears that Paul again visited Philippi after he had been to Athens and Corinth, and when on his way to Judea. From Philippi he went to Troas. In 1 Th 2:2, Paul alludes to the shameful treatment which he had received at Philippi, and to the fact, that having been treated in that manner at Philippi, he had passed to Thessalonica, and preached the gospel there.

Philippi received its name from Philip, the father of Alexander the Great. Before his time its history is unknown. It is said that it was founded on the site of an old Thasian settlement, and that its former name was Crenides, from the circumstance of its being surrounded by numerous rivulets and springs descending from the neighbouring mountains, (from krhnh—krene, a spring.) The city was also called Dathos, or Datos—datov. See Barnes "Ac 16:12".

The Thasians, who inhabited the island of Thasus, lying off the coast in the AEgean Sea, had been attracted to the place by the valuable mines of gold and silver which were found in that region. It was a city of Macedonia, to the north-east of Amphipolis, and nearly east of Thessalonica. It was not far from the borders of Thrace. It was about fifteen or twenty miles from the AEgean Sea, in the neighbourhood of Mount Pangeeus, and had a small river or stream running near it which emptied into the AEgean Sea. Of the size of the city when the gospel was preached there by Paul we have no information.

This city was originally within the limits of Thrace. Philip of Macedon having turned his attention to Thrace, the situation of Crenides and Mount Pangeeus naturally attracted his notice. Accordingly he invaded this country, expelled the feeble Cotys from his throne, and then proceeded to found a new city, on the site of the old Thasian colony, which he called after his own name, Philippi. Anthon, Class. Die. When Macedonia became subject to the Romans, the advantages attending the situation of Philippi induced that people to send a colony there, and it became one of the most flourishing cities of the empire. Comp. Ac 16:12; Pliny, iv. 10. There is a medal of this city with the following inscription: COL. JUL. AUG. PHIL.; from which it appears that there was a colony sent there by Julius Caesar. Michaelis. The city derived considerable importance from the fact that it was a principal thoroughfare from Asia to Europe, as the great leading road from one continent to the other was in the vicinity. This road is described at length by Appian, De Bell. Civ L. iv. e. 105, 106.

This city is celebrated in history from the fact that it was here that a great victory, deciding the fate of the Roman empire, was obtained by Octavianus (afterwards Augustus Ceesar) and Antony over the forces of Brutus and Cassius, by which the republican party was completely subdued. In this battle, Cassius, who was hard pressed and defeated by Antony, and who supposed that everything was lost, slew himself in despair. Brutus deplored his loss with tears of the sincerest sorrow, calling him "the last of the Romans." After an interval of twenty days, Brutus hazarded a second battle. Where he himself fought in person he was successful; but the army everywhere else gave way, and the battle terminated in the entire defeat of the republican party. Brutus escaped with a few friends, passed a night in a cave, and, seeing that all was irretrievably lost, ordered Strato, one of his attendants, to kill him. Strato for a long time refused; but seeing Brutus resolute, he turned away his face, and held his sword, and Brutus fell upon it. The city of Philippi is often mentioned by the Byzantine writers in history. Its ruins still retain the name of Filibah. Two American missionaries visited these ruins in May, 1834. They saw the remains of what might have been the forum or market-place, where Paul and Silas were beaten, Ac 16:19; and also the fragments of a splendid palace. The road by which Paul went from Neapolis to Philippi, they think, is the same that is now travelled, as it is cut through the most difficult passes in the mountains. It is still paved throughout.


PHILIPPI was the first place in Europe where the gospel was preached; and this fact invests the place with more interest and importance than it derives from the battle fought there. The gospel was first preached here, in very interesting circumstances, by Paul and Silas. Paul had been called by a remarkable vision Ac 16:9 to go into Macedonia, and the first place where he preached was Philippi; having made his way, as his custom was, directly to the capital. The first person to whom he preached was Lydia, a seller of purple, from Thyatira, in Asia Minor. She was converted, and received Paul and Silas into her house, and entertained them hospitably. In consequence of Paul's casting out an evil spirit from a "damsel possessed of a spirit of divination," by which the hope of gain by those who kept her in their employ was destroyed, the populace was excited, and Paul and Silas were thrown into the inner prison, and their feet were made fast in the stocks. Here, at midnight, God interposed in a remarkable manner. An earthquake shook the prison; their bonds were loosened; the doors of the prison were thrown open; and their keeper, who before had treated them with peculiar severity, was converted, and all his family were baptized. It was in such solemn circumstances that the gospel was first introduced into Europe. After the tumult, and the conversion of the jailer, Paul was honourably released, and soon left the city, Ac 16:40. He subsequently visited Macedonia before his imprisonment, at Rome, and doubtless went to Philippi, Ac 20:1,2. It is supposed that after his first imprisonment at Rome, he was released, and again visited the churches which he had founded. In this epistle Php 1:25,26; 2:24, he expresses a confident hope that he would be released, and would be permitted to see them again; and there is a probability that his wishes in regard to this were accomplished. See Introduction to 2 Timothy.


IT is evident that this epistle was written from Rome. This appears,

(1.) because it was composed when Paul was in" bonds," Php 1:13,14;

(2.) because circumstances are suggested, such as to leave no doubt that the imprisonment was at Rome. Thus, in chap. i. 13, he says that his "bonds were manifested in all the palace;" a phrase which would naturally suggest the idea of the Roman capitol; and, in Php 4:22, he says, "All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household." It is further evident that it was after he had been imprisoned for a considerable time, and probably not long before his release. This appears from the following circumstances:

(1.) The apostle had been a prisoner so long in Rome, that the character which he had manifested in his trials had contributed considerably to the success of the gospel, Php 1:12-14. His bonds, he says, were manifest "in all the palace;" and many of the brethren had become increasingly bold by his "bonds," and had taken occasion to preach the gospel without fear.

(2.) The account given of Epaphroditus imports that, when Paul wrote this epistle, he had been a considerable time at Rome. He was with Paul in Rome, and had been sick there. The Philippians had received an account of his sickness, and he had again been informed how much they had been affected with the intelligence of his illness, Php 2:25,26. The passing and repassing of this intelligence, Dr. Paley remarks, must have occupied considerable time, and must have all taken place during Paul's residence at Rome.

(3.) After a residence at Rome, thus proved to have been of considerable duration, Paul, at the time of writing this epistle, regards the decision of his destiny as at hand. He anticipates that the matter would soon be determined. Php 2:23. "Him therefore (Timothy) I hope to send presently, so soon as I see how it will go with me." He had some expectation that he might be released, and be permitted to visit them again. Php 2:24. "I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly." Comp. Php 1:25,27. Yet he was not absolutely certain how it would go with him, and though in one place he speaks with great confidence that he would be released, Php 1:25, yet in another he suggests the possibility that he might be put to death. Php 2:17: "Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all." These circumstances concur to fix the time of writing the epistle to the period at which the imprisonment in Rome was about to terminate. From Ac 28:30, we learn that Paul was in Rome "two whole years;" and it was during the latter part of this period that the epistle was written. It is commonly agreed, therefore, that it was written about A.D. 61 or 62. Hug (Intro.) places it at the end of the year 61, or the beginning of the year 62; Lardner, at the close of the year 62. It is evident that it was written before the great conflagration at Rome in the time of Nero, (A.D. 64;) for it is hardly credible that Paul would have omitted a reference to such an event, if it had occurred. It is certain, from the persecution of the Christians which followed that event, that he would not have been likely to have represented his condition to be so favourable as he has done in this epistle. He could hardly have looked then for a release.


THE object of the epistle is apparent. It was sent by Epaphroditus, Php 2:25, who appears to have been a resident at Philippi, and a member of the church there, to express the thanks of the apostle for the favours which they had conferred on him, and to comfort them with the hope that he might be soon set at liberty. Epaphroditus had been sent by the Philippians to convey their benefactions to him in the time of his imprisonment, Php 4:18. While at Rome, he had been taken ill, Php 2:26,27. On his recovery, Paul deemed it proper that he should return at once to Philippi. It was natural that he should give them some information about his condition and prospects. A considerable part of the epistle, therefore, is occupied in giving an account of the effects of his imprisonment in promoting the spread of the gospel, and of his own feelings in the circumstances in which he then was. He was not yet certain what the result of his imprisonment would be, Php 1:20; but he was prepared either to live or to die, Php 1:23. He wished to live only that he might be useful to others; and, supposing that he might be made useful, he had some expectation that he might be released from his bonds. There is, perhaps, no one of the epistles of the apostle Paul which is so tender, and which abounds so much with expressions of kindness, as this. In relation to other churches he was often under the necessity of using the language of reproof. The prevalence of some error, as in the churches of Galatia; the existence of divisions and strifes, or some aggravated case requiring discipline, or some gross irregularity, as in the church at Corinth, frequently demanded the language of severity. But, in the church at Philippi, there was scarcely anything which required rebuke; there was very much that demanded commendation and gratitude. Their conduct towards him, and their general deportment, had been exemplary, generous, noble. They had evinced for him the tenderest regard in his troubles: providing for his wants, sending a special messenger to supply him when no other opportunity occurred, Php 4:10, and sympathizing with him in his trials; and they had, in the order, peace, and harmony of the church, eminently adorned the doctrine of the Saviour. The language of the apostle, therefore, throughout the epistle, is of the most affectionate character—such as a benevolent heart would always choose to employ, and such as must have been exceedingly grateful to them. Paul never hesitated to use the language of commendation where it was deserved, as he never shrank from reproof where it was merited; and he appears to have regarded the one as a matter of duty as much as the other. We are to remember, too, the circumstances of Paul, and to ask what kind of an epistle an affectionate and grateful spiritual father would be likely to write to a much-beloved flock, when he felt that he was about to die and we shall find that this is just such an epistle as we should suppose such a man would write. It breathes the spirit of a ripe Christian, whose piety was mellowing for the harvest; of one who felt that he was not far from heaven, and might soon "be with Christ." Though there was some expectation of a release, yet his situation was such as led him to look death in the face. He was lying under heavy accusations; he had no hope of justice from his own countrymen; the character of the sovereign, Nero, was not such as to inspire him with great confidence of having justice done; and it is possible that the fires of persecution had already begun to burn. At the mercy of such a man as Nero; a prisoner; among strangers; and with death staring him in the face, it is natural to suppose that there would be a peculiar solemnity, tenderness, pathos, and ardour of affection, breathing through the entire epistle. Such is the fact; and in none of the writings of Paul are these qualities more apparent than in this letter to the Philippians. He expresses his grateful remembrance of all their kindness; he evinces a tender regard for their welfare; and he pours forth the full-flowing language of gratitude, and utters a father's feelings toward them by tender and kind admonitions. It is important to remember these circumstances in the interpretation of this epistle. It breathes the language of a father, rather than the authority of an apostle; the entreaties of a tender friend, rather than the commands of one in authority. It expresses the affections of a man who felt that he might be near death, and who tenderly loved them; and it will be, to all ages, a model of affectionate counsel and advice.



This chapter embraces the following points :—

I. The salutation to the church, Php 1:1,2.

II. Php 1:3-8, the apostle expresses his gratitude for the evidence which they had given of love to God, and for their fidelity in the gospel from the time when it was first proclaimed among them. He says that he was confident that this would continue, and that God, who had so mercifully imparted grace to them to be faithful, would do it to the end.

III. He expresses the earnest hope that they might abound more and more in knowledge, and be without offence to the day of Christ, Php 1:9-11.

IV. In Php 1:12-21, he states to them what had been the effect of his imprisonment in Rome—presuming that it would be grateful intelligence to them that even his imprisonment had been overruled for the spread of the gospel. His trials, he says, had been the means of the extension of the knowledge of Christ even in the palace, and many Christians had been emboldened by his sufferings to increased diligence in making known the truth. Some indeed, he says, preached Christ from unworthy motives, and with a view to increase his affliction, but in the great fact that Christ was preached he says he rejoiced. Forgetting himself, and any injury which they might design to do to him, he could sincerely rejoice that the gospel was proclaimed—no matter by whom or with what motives. The whole affair he trusted would be made conducive to his salvation. Christ was the great end and aim of his life; and if he were made known, everything else was of minor importance.

V. The mention of the fact, Php 1:21, that his great aim in living was "Christ," leads him to advert to the probability that he might soon be with him, Php 1:22-26. So great was his wish to be with him, that he would hardly know which to choose—whether to die at once, or to live and to make him known to others. Believing, however, that his life might be still useful to them, he had an expectation of considerable confidence that his life would be spared, and that he would be released.

VI. The chapter closes, Php 1:27-30, with an earnest exhortation that they would live as became the gospel of Christ. Whatever might befall him—whether he should be permitted to see them, or should hear of them—he entreated that he might know that they were living as became the gospel. They were not to be afraid of their adversaries; and if called to suffer, they were to remember that "it was given" them not only to believe on the Redeemer, but also to suffer in his cause.

Verse 1. Paul and Timotheus. Paul frequently unites some person with him in his epistles. See Barnes "1 Co 1:1".

It is clear, from this, that Timothy was with Paul at Rome. Why he was there is unknown. It is evident that he was not there as a prisoner with Paul; and the probability is, that he was one of the friends who had gone to Rome with a view to show his sympathy with him ill his sufferings. See Barnes "2 Ti 4:9".

There was special propriety in the fact that Timothy was joined with the apostle in writing the epistle, for he was with him when the church was founded, and doubtless felt a deep interest in its welfare, Ac 16. Timothy had remained in Macedonia after Paul went to Athens, and it is not improbable that he had visited them afterwards.

The servants of Jesus Christ. See Barnes "Ro 1:1".

To all the saints in Christ Jesus. The common appellation given to the church, denoting that it was holy. See Barnes "Ro 1:7".

With the Bishops. sun episkopoiv. See Barnes "Ac 20:28".

The word here used occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: Ac 20:28, translated overseers, and Php 1:1; 1 Ti 3:2; Tit 1:7; 1 Pe 2:25, in each of which places it is rendered bishop. The word properly means, an inspector, overseer, or guardian, and was given to the ministers of the gospel because they exercised this care over the churches, or were appointed to oversee their interests. It is a term, therefore, which might be given to any of the officers of the churches, and was originally equivalent to the term presbyter. It is evidently used in this sense here. It cannot be used to denote a diocesan bishop; or a bishop having the care of the churches in a large district of country, and of a superior rank to other ministers of the gospel; for the word is here used in the plural number, and it is in the highest degree improbable that there were dioceses in Philippi. It is clear, moreover, that they were the only officers of the church here, except "deacons;" and the persons referred to, therefore, must have been those who were invested simply with the pastoral office. thus Jerome, one of the early fathers, says respecting the word bishop:—"A presbyter is the same as a bishop. And until there arose divisions in religion, churches were governed by a common council of presbyters. But afterwards, it was everywhere decreed, that one person, elected from the presbyters, should be placed over the others." "Philippi," says he, "is a single city of Macedonia; and certainly there could not have been several like those who are now called bishops, at one time in the same city. But as, at that time, they called the same bishops whom they called presbyters also, the apostle spoke indifferently of bishops as of presbyters." Annotations on the Epistle to Titus, as quoted by Dr. Woods on Episcopacy, p. 68.

And Deacons. On the appointment of deacons, and their duty, See Barnes "Ac 6:1".

The word deacons does not occur before this place in the common version of the New Testament, though the Greek word here rendered deacon frequently occurs. It is rendered minister and ministers, in Mt 20:26; Mr 10:43; Ro 13:4; 15:8

1 Co 3:5; 2 Co 3:6; 6:4; 11:15,23; Gal 2:17; Eph 3:7; 6:21; Col 1:7,23,25; Col 4:7; 1 Ti 4:6; servant and servants, Mt 22:13; Mt 23:11; Mr 9:35; Joh 2:5,9; 12:26; Ro 16:1; and deacon or deacons, Php 1:1; 1 Ti 3:8,12.

The word properly means servants, and is then applied to the ministers of the gospel as being the servants of Christ, and of the churches. Hence it came especially to denote those who had charge of the alms of the church, and who were the overseers of the sick and the poor. In this sense the word is probably used in the passage before us, as the officers here referred to were distinct in some way from the bishops. The apostle here mentions but two orders of ministers in the church at Philippi; and this account is of great importance in its bearing on the question about the way in which Christian churches were at first organized, and about the officers which existed in them. In regard to this we may remark,

(1.) that but two orders of ministers are mentioned. This is undeniable, whatever rank they may have held.

(1.) There is no intimation whatever that a minister like a prelatical bishop had ever been appointed there, and that the incumbent of the office was absent, or that the office was now vacant. If the bishop was absent, as Bloomfield and others suppose, it is remarkable that no allusion is made to him, and that Paul should have left the impression that there were, in fact, but two "orders" there. If there were a prelate there, why did not Paul refer to him with affectionate salutation? Why does he refer to the two other "orders of clergy," without the slightest allusion to the man who was set over them as "superior in ministerial rank and power?" Was Paul jealous of this prelate? But if they had a prelate, and the see was then vacant, why is there no reference to this fact? Why no condolence at their loss? Why no prayer that God would send them a man to enter into the vacant diocese? It is a mere assumption to suppose, as the friends of prelacy often do, that they had a prelatical bishop, but that he was then absent. But even granting this, it is an inquiry which has never been answered, why Paul did not make some reference to this fact, and ask their prayers for the absent prelate.

(3.) The church was organized by the apostle Paul himself, and there can be no doubt that it was organized on the "truly primitive and apostolic plan."

(4.) The church at Philippi was in the centre of a large territory, was the capital of Macedonia, and was not likely to be placed fix subjection to the diocesan of another region.

(5.) It was surrounded by other churches, as we have express mention of the church at Thessalonica, and the preaching of the gospel at Berea, Ac 17.

(6.) There is more than one bishop mentioned as connected with the church at Philippi. But these could not have been bishops of the Episcopal or prelatical order. If Episcopalians choose to say that they were prelates, then it follows

(a.) that there was a plurality of such persons in the same diocese, the same city, and the same church—which is contrary to the fundamental idea of Episcopacy, It follows also,

(b.) that there was entirely wanting in the church at Philippi what the Episcopalians call the "second order" of clergy; that a church was organized by the apostles defective in one of the essential grades, with a body of prelates without presbyters—that is, an order of men of "superior" rank, designated to exercise jurisdiction over "priests" who had no existence. If there were such presbyters or "priests" there, why did not Paul name them? If their office was one contemplated in the church, and was then vacant, how did this happen? and if this were so, why is there no allusion to so remarkable a fact?

(7.) It follows, therefore, that in this church there were but two orders of officers; and, further, that it is right and proper to apply the term bishop to the ordinary ministers of the churches. As no mention is made of a prelate; as there are but two orders of men mentioned to whom the care of the church was entrusted, it follows that there was one church at least organized by the apostles without any prelate.

(8.) The same thing may be observed in regard to the distinction between" teaching" elders and "ruling" elders. No such distinction is referred to here; and however useful such an office as that of ruling elder may be, and certain as it is that such an office existed in some of the primitive churches, yet here is one church where no such officer is found; and this fact proves that such an officer is not essential to the Christian church.

{a} "with the bishops" Ac 16:12


Verse 2. Grace be unto you, etc. See Barnes "Ro 1:7".

{b} "be unto you" Eph 1:14; 1 Th 1:2


Verse 3. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Marg., mention. The Greek word means recollection, remembrance. But this recollection may have been suggested either by his own reflections on what he had seen, or by what he had heard of them by others, or by the favours which they conferred on him reminding him of them. The meaning is, that as often as he thought on them, from whatever cause, he had occasion of thankfulness. He says that he thanked his God, intimating that the conduct of the Philippians was a proof of the favour of God to him; that is, he regarded their piety as one of the tokens of the favour of God to his own soul—for in producing that piety he had been mainly instrumental.

{1} "remembrance" "mention"


Verse 4. Always. There is much emphasis in the expressions which are here used. Paul labours to show them that he never forgot them; that he always remembered them in his prayers.

In every prayer of mine. This was a proof of particular and special affection, that while there were so many objects demanding his prayers, and so many other churches which he had founded, he never forgot them. The person or object that we remember in every prayer must be very dear to the heart.

For you all. Not for the church in general, but for the individual member. "He industriously repeats the word all, that he might show that he loved them all equally well, and that he might the more successfully excite them to the manifestation of the same love and benevolence." Wetstein.

Making request with joy. With joy at your consistent walk and benevolent lives—mingling thanksgiving with my prayers in view of your holy walk.

{b} "prayer of mine" Eph 1:14; 1 Th 1:2

{*} "request" "supplication"


Verse 5. For your fellowship in the Gospel. "For your liberality towards me, a preacher of the gospel." Wetstein. There has been, however, no little difference of opinion about the meaning of this phrase. Many—as Doddridge, Koppe, and others—suppose it refers to the fact that they participated in the blessings of the gospel from the first day that he preached it until the time when he wrote this epistle. Others suppose that it refers to their constancy in the Christian faith. Others—as Pierce, Michaelis, Wetstein, Bloomfield, and Storr—suppose it refers to their liberality in contributing to the support of the gospel; to their participating with others, or sharing what they had in common with others, for the maintenance of the gospel. That this is the true sense seems apparent,

(1.) because it accords with the scope of the epistle, and what the apostle elsewhere says of their benefactions, he speaks particularly of their liberality, and indeed this was one of the principal occasions of his writing the epistle, Php 4:10-12,15-18.

(2.) It accords with a frequent meaning of the word rendered fellowship—koinwnia. It denotes that which is in common; that of which we participate with others, communion, fellowship, Ac 2:42; 1 Co 1:9; 10:16; Phm 1:6; then it means communication, distribution, contribution, Ro 15:26; 2 Co 9:13. That it cannot mean "accession to the gospel," as has been supposed, (see Rob. Lex.,) is apparent from what he adds— "from the first day until now." The fellowship must have been something constant, and continually manifest; and the general meaning is, that in relation to the gospel to its support, and privileges, and spirit—they all shared in common. They felt a common interest in everything that pertained to it, and they showed this in every suitable way, and especially in ministering to the wants of those who were ap- pointed to preach it.

From the first day. The time when it was first preached to them. They had been constant. This is honourable testimony. It is much to say of a church, or of an individual Christian, that they have been constant and uniform in the requirements of the gospel. Alas, of how few can this be said! On these verses Php 1:3-5 we may remark,

(1.) that one of the highest joys which a minister of the gospel can have, is that furnished by the holy walk of the people to whom he has ministered. Comp. 3 Jo 1:4. It is joy like that of a farmer, when he sees his fields whiten for a rich harvest; like that of a teacher, in the good conduct and rapid progress of his scholars; like that of a parent, in the virtue, success, and piety of his sons. Yet it is superior to all that. The interests are higher and more important; the results are more far-reaching and pure; and the joy is more disinterested. Probably there is nowhere else on earth any happiness so pure, elevated, consoling, and rich, as that of a pastor in the piety, peace, benevolence, and growing zeal of his people.

(2.) It is right to commend Christians when they do well. Paul never hesitated to do this, and never supposed that it would do injury. Flattery would injure—but Paul never flattered. Commendation or praise, in order to do good, and not to injure, should be

(a.) the simple statement of the truth;

(b.) it should be without exaggeration;

(c.) it should be connected with an equal readiness to rebuke when wrong to admonish when in error, and to counsel when one goes astray. Constant fault-finding, scolding, or fretfulness, does no good in a family, a school, or a church. The tendency is to dishearten, irritate, and discourage. To commend a child when he does well, may be as important, and as much a duty, as to rebuke him when he does ill. God is as careful to commend his people when they do well, as he is to rebuke them when they do wrong—and that parent, teacher, or pastor, has much mistaken the path of wisdom, who supposes it to be his duty always to find fault. In this world there is nothing that goes so far in promoting happiness as a willingness to be pleased rather than displeased; to be satisfied rather than dissatisfied with the conduct of others.

(3.) Our absent friends should be remembered in our prayers. On our knees before God is the best place to remember them. We know not their condition. If they are sick, we cannot minister to their wants; if in danger, we cannot run to their relief; if tempted, we cannot counsel them. But God, who is with them, can do all this; and it is an inestimable privilege thus to be permitted to commend them to his holy care and keeping. Besides, it is a duty to do it. It is one way—and the best way—to repay their kindness. A child may always be repaying the kindness of absent parents by supplicating the Divine blessing on them each morning; and a brother may strengthen and continue his love for a sister, and in part repay her tender love, by seeking, when far away, the Divine favour to be bestowed on her.

{+} "fellowship" "participation"


Verse 6. Being confident. This is strong language. It means to be fully and firmly persuaded or convinced. Part. Mid. voice from peiyw—to persuade. Comp. Lu 16:31: "Neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead;" that is, they would not be convinced. Ac 17:4; Heb 11:13; Ac 28:24.

It means here that Paul was entirely convinced of the truth of what he said. It is the language of a man who had no doubt on the subject.

That he which hath begun a good work in you. The "good work" here referred to, can be no other than religion, or true piety. This is called the work of God; the work of the Lord; or the work of Christ, Joh 6:29. Comp. 1 Co 15:58; 16:10; Php 2:30.

Paul affirms here that that work was begun by God. It was not by their own agency or will. See Barnes "Joh 1:13".

It was on the fact that it was begun by God, that he based his firm conviction that it would be permanent. Had it been the agency of man, he would have had no such conviction, for nothing that man does today can lay the foundation of a certain conviction that he will do the same thing to-morrow. If the perseverance of the Christian depended wholly on himself, therefore, there could be no sure evidence that he would ever reach heaven.

Will perform it. Marg., "or, finish." The Greek word—epitelesei —means that he would carry it forward to completion; he would perfect it. It is an intensive form of the word, meaning that it would be carried through to the end. It occurs in the following places: Lu 13:32, "I do cures;" Ro 15:28, "when I have performed this;" 2 Co 7:1, "perfecting holiness;" 2 Co 8:6, "so he would also finish in you;" Php 1:11, "perform the doing of it;" Ga 3:3, "are ye now made perfect by the flesh;" Heb 8:6, "when he was about to make the tabernacle;" Heb 9:6, "accomplishing this service;" and 1 Pe 5:9, "are accomplished in your brethren." The word occurs nowhere else; and here means that God would carry on the work which he had begun to completion. He would not leave it unfinished. It would not be commenced, and then abandoned. This would or could be "performed" or "finished" only

(1.) by keeping them from falling from grace, and

(2.) by their ultimate entire perfection.

Until the day of Jesus Christ. The day when Christ shall so manifest himself as to be the great attractive object, or the day when he shall appear to glorify himself, so that it may be said emphatically to be his day. That day is often called "his day," or "the day of the Lord," because it will be the day of his triumph and glory. It refers here to the day when the Lord Jesus will appear to receive his people to himself—the day of judgment. We may remark on this verse, that Paul believed in the perseverance of saints. It would be impossible to express a stronger conviction of the truth of that doctrine than he has done here. Language could not be clearer, and nothing can be more unequivocal than the declaration of his opinion that where God has begun a good work in the soul, it will not be finally lost. The ground of this belief he has not stated in full, but has merely hinted at it. It is based on the fact that God had begun the good work. That ground of belief is something like the following.

(1.) It is in God alone. It is not in man in any sense. No reliance is to be placed on man in keeping himself. He is too weak; too changeable; too ready to be led astray; too much disposed to yield to temptation.

(2.) The reliance, therefore, is on God; and the evidence that the renewed man will be kept is this:

(a.) God began the work of grace in the soul.

(b.) He had a design in it. It was deliberate, and intentional; it was not by chance, or hap-hazard; it was because he had some object that was worthy of his interposition.

(c.) There is no reason why he should begin such a work, and then abandon it. It cannot be because he has no power to complete it, or because there are more enemies to be overcome than he had supposed; or because there are difficulties which he did not foresee; or because it is not desirable that the work should be completed. Why, then, should he abandon it?

(d.) God abandons nothing that he undertakes. There are no unfinished worlds or systems; no half-made and forsaken works of his hands. There is no evidence in his works of creation of change of plan, or of having forsaken what he began from disgust, or disappointment, or want of power to complete them. Why should there be in the salvation of the soul?

(e.) He has promised to keep the renewed soul to eternal life. See Joh 10:27,28,29; Heb 6:17-20.

Comp. Ro 8:29,30.

{c} "of this very thing" Heb 10:35

{d} "which hath begun" Ps 138:8

{2} "perform" "finish"

{e} "work" Heb 10:35

{f} "day of Jesus Christ" 2 Pe 3:10


Verse 7. Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all. "There is a reason why I should cherish this hope of you, and this confident expectation that you will be saved. That reason is found in the evidence which you have given that you are sincere Christians. Having evidence of that, it is proper that I should believe that you will finally reach heaven."

Because I have you in my heart. Marg., Ye have me in your. The Greek will bear either, though the former translation is the most obvious. The meaning is, that he was warmly attached to them, and had experienced many proofs of their kindness; and that there was, therefore, a propriety in his wishing for their salvation. Their conduct towards him, moreover, in his trials, had convinced him that they were actuated by Christian principle; and it was proper that he should believe that they would be kept to eternal life.

Both in my bonds. While I have been a prisoner—referring to the care which they had taken to minister to his wants, Php 4:10,14,18.

And in the defence. Gr., apology. Probably he refers to the time when he made his defence before Nero, and vindicated himself from the charges which had been brought against him. See Barnes "2 Ti 4:16".

Perhaps he means, here, that on that occasion he was abandoned by those who should have stood by him, but that the Philippians showed him all the attention which they could. It is not impossible that they may have sent some of their number to sympathize with him in his trials, and to assure him of the unabated confidence of the church.

And confirmation of the gospel. In my efforts to defend the gospel, and to make it known. Php 1:17. The allusion is probably to the fact that, in all his efforts to defend the gospel, he had been sure of their sympathy and co-operation. Perhaps he refers to some assistance which he had derived from them in this cause, which is now to us unknown.

Ye all are partakers of my grace. Marg., "Or, with me of grace." The meaning is, that as they had participated with him in the defence of the gospel; as in all his troubles and persecutions they had made common cause with him, so it followed that they would partake of the same tokens of the Divine favour, he expected that the Divine blessing would follow his efforts in the cause of the gospel, and he says that they would share in his blessing. They had shown all the sympathy which they could in his trials; they had nobly stood by him when others forsook him; and he anticipated, as a matter of course, that they would all share in the benefits which would flow to him in his efforts in the cause of the Redeemer.

{*} "meet" "right"

{1} "I have you in my heart" "ye have me in your"

{+} "heart" "I affectionately regard you"

{a} "defense and confirmation" Php 1:17

{2} "partakers of my grace" "with me of grace"


Verse 8. For God is my record. My witness; I can solemnly appeal to him.

How greatly I long after you all. To see you; and how much I desire your welfare.

In the bowels of Jesus Christ. The word "bowels," in the Scriptures, denotes the upper viscera—the region of the heart and lungs. See Barnes "Isa 16:11".

That region was regarded as the seat of affection, sympathy, and compassion, as the heart is with us. The allusion here is to the sympathy, tenderness, and love of the Redeemer; and probably the meaning is, that Paul regarded them with something of the affection which the Lord Jesus had for them. This was the tenderest and strongest expression which he could find to denote the ardour of his attachment.

{+} "bowels of Jesus Christ" "With the tender affection of"


Verse 9. And this I pray. We pray for those whom we love, and whose welfare we seek. We desire theft happiness; and there is no way more appropriate of expressing that desire than of going to God, and seeking it at his hand. Paul proceeds to enumerate the blessings which he sought for them; and it is worthy of observation that he did not ask riches, or worldly prosperity, but that his supplications were confined to spiritual blessings, and he sought these as the most desirable of all favours.

That your love may abound, etc. Love to God; love to one another; love to absent Christians; love to the world. This is an appropriate subject of prayer. We cannot wish and pray for a better thing for our Christian friends, than that they may abound in love. Nothing will promote their welfare like this; and we had better pray for this, than that they may obtain abundant riches, and share the honours and pleasures of the world.

In knowledge. The idea is, that he wished them to have intelligent affection. It should not be mere blind affection, but that intelligent love which is based on an enlarged view of Divine things—on a just apprehension of the claims of God.

And in all judgment. Marg., sense. See Barnes "Heb 5:14".

The word here means, the power of discerning; and the meaning is, that he wished that their love should be exercised with proper discrimination. It should be in proportion to the relative value of objects; and the meaning of the whole is, that he wished their religion to be intelligent and discriminating; to be based on knowledge, and a proper sense of the relative value of objects, as well as to be the tender affection of the heart.

{b} "yet more" 1 Th 3:12; 2 Pe 3:18


Verse 10. That ye may approve things. Marg., "Or, try." The word used here denotes the kind of trial to which metals are exposed in order to test their nature; and the sense here is, that the apostle wished them so to try the things that were of real value, as to discern that which was true and genuine.

That are excellent. Marg., "or, differ." The margin here more correctly expresses the sense of the Greek word. The idea is, that he wished them to be able to distinguish between things that differed from each other; to have an intelligent apprehension of what was right and wrong—of what was good and evil. He would not have them love and approve all things indiscriminately. They should be esteemed according to their real value. It is remarkable here how anxious the apostle was, not only that they should be Christians, but that they should be intelligent Christians, and should understand the real worth and value of objects.

That ye may be sincere. See Barnes "Eph 6:24".

The word here used—eilikrinhv nowhere else in the New Testament, except in 2 Pe 3:1, where it is rendered pure. The noun eilikrineia, however, occurs in 1 Co 5:8; 2 Co 1:12; 2:17; in all which places it is rendered sincerity. The word properly means, that which is judged of in sunshine, eilh krinw; and then that which is clear and manifest. It is that over which there are no clouds; which is not doubtful and dark; which is pure and bright. The word sincere means literally without wax (sine cera;) that is, honey which is pure and transparent. Applied to Christian character, it means that which is not deceitful, ambiguous, hypocritical; that which is not mingled with error, worldliness, and sin; that which does not proceed from selfish and interested motives, and where there is nothing disguised. There is no more desirable appellation that can be given to a man than to say that he is sincere—a sincere friend, benefactor, Christian; and there is nothing more lovely in the character of a Christian than sincerity. It implies,

(1.) that he is truly converted—that he has not assumed Christianity as a mask;

(2.) that his motives axe disinterested and pure;

(3.) that his conduct is free from double-dealing, trick, and cunning;

(4.) that his words express the real sentiments of his heart;

(5.) that he is true to his word, and faithful to his promises;

(6.) that he is always what he professes to be. A sincere Christian would bear to have the light let in upon him always; to have the emotions of his heart seen; to be scanned everywhere, and at all times, by men, by angels, and by God.

And without offence. Inoffensive to others. Not injuring them in property, feelings, or reputation. This is a negative virtue, and is often despised by the world. But it is much to say of a man that he injures no one; that neither by example, nor opinions, nor conversation, he leads them astray; that he never does injustice to their motives, and never impedes their influence; that he never wounds their feelings, or gives occasion for hard thoughts; and that he so lives that all may see that his is a blameless life.

Till the day of Christ. See Barnes "Php 1:6"

{a} "ye may" Ro 2:18

{1} "approve" "try"

{2} "are excellent" "differ"

{b} "sincere" Eph 5:27


Verse 11. Being filled with the fruit if righteousness. That which will righteousness in the heart produces. The fruits, or results, will be seen in the life; and those fruits are honesty, truth, kindness, meekness, goodness. The wish of the apostle is, that they might show abundantly by their lives that they were truly righteous. He does not refer to liberality merely, but to everything which true piety in the heart is fitted to produce in the life.

Which are by Jesus Christ.

(1.) Which his religion is fitted to produce.

(2.) Which result from endeavouring to follow his example.

(3.) Which are produced by his agency on the heart.

Unto the glory and praise of God. His honour is never more promoted than by the eminent holiness of his friends. See Barnes "Joh 15:8".

If we wish, therefore, to honour God, it should not be merely with the lips, or by acts of prayer and praise; it should be by a life devoted to him. It is easy to render the service of the lips; it is far more difficult to render that service which consists in a life of patient and consistent piety; and in proportion to the difficulty of it, is its value in his sight.

{c} "and praise of God" Joh 15:8


Verse 12. But I would ye should understand. Paul here turns to himself, and goes into a somewhat extended account of his own feelings in his trials, and of the effects of his imprisonment at Rome. He wished them to understand what his circumstances were, and what had been the effect of his imprisonment, probably for such reasons as these:

(1.) They were tenderly attached to him, and would feel an interest in all that pertained to him.

(2.) It was possible that they might hear unfounded rumours about the manner of his treatment, and he wished that they should understand the exact truth.

(3.) He had real intelligence to communicate to them that would be joyful to them, about the effect of his imprisonment, and his treatment there; and he wished them to rejoice with him.

That the things which happened unto me. The accusations against him, and his imprisonment at Rome. He had been falsely accused, and had been constrained to appeal to Caesar, and had been taken to Rome as a prisoner, Acts chapters 15 thru 18. This arrest and imprisonment would seem to have been against his success as a preacher; but he now says that the contrary had been the fact.

Have fallen out. Have resulted in. Literally, "have come." Tindal. "My business is happened."

The furtherance. The increase, the promotion of the gospel. Instead of being a hinderance, they have been rather an advantage.


Verse 13. So that my bonds in Christ. Marg., for. The meaning is, his bonds in the cause of Christ. He was imprisoned because he preached Christ, See Barnes "Eph 6:20, and was really suffering because of his attachment to the Redeemer. It was not for crime, but for being a Christian—for had he not been a Christian, he would have escaped all this. The manner of Paul's imprisonment was, that he was suffered to occupy a house by himself, though chained to a soldier who was his guard, Ac 28:16. He was not in a dungeon indeed, but he was not at liberty, and this was a severe mode of confinement. Who would wish to be chained night and day to a living witness of all that he did; to a spy on all his movements? Who would wish to have such a man always with him, to hear all he said, and to see all that he did? Who could well bear the feeling that he could never be alone—and never be at liberty to do anything without the permission of one too who probably had little disposition to be indulgent?

Are manifest. That is, it has become known that I am imprisoned only for the sake of Christ. Grotius. The true reason why I am thus accused and imprisoned begins to be understood, and this has awakened sympathy for me as an injured man. They see that it is not for crime, but that it is on account of my religious opinions; and the conviction of my innocence has spread abroad, and has produced a favourable impression in regard to Christianity itself. It must have been a matter of much importance for Paul to have this knowledge of the real cause why he was imprisoned go abroad. Such a knowledge would do much to prepare others to listen to what he had to say—for there is no man to whom we listen more readily than to one who is suffering wrongfully.

In all the palace. Marg., "or Caesar's court. Gr., en olw tw praitwriw, in all the praetorium. This word properly denotes the general's tent in a camp; then the house or palace of a governor of a province; then any large hall, house, or palace. It occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: Mt 27:27, where it is rendered common hall; Mr 15:16, rendered pretorium; Joh 18:28,33; 19:9; Ac 23:35, rendered judgment hall; and in Php 1:13. It is employed to denote

(1.) the palace of Herod at Jerusalem, built with great magnificence at the northern part of the upper city, westward of the temple, and overlooking the temple;

(2.) the palace of Herod at Caesarea, which was probably occupied by the Roman procurator; and

(3) in the place before us, to denote either the palace of the emperor at Rome, or the pretorian camp, the head quarters of the pretorian guards or cohorts. These cohorts were a body of select troops instituted by Augustus to guard his person, and have charge of the city. See Rob. Lex. Bloomfield, Rosenmuller, and some others, understand this of the pretorian camp, and suppose that Paul meant to say that the cause of his imprisonment had become known to all the band of the pretorians. Grotius says that the usual word to denote the residence of the emperor at Rome was palatium—-palace, but that those who resided in the provinces were accustomed to the word pretorium, and would use it when speaking of the palace of the emperor. Chrysostom says that the palace of the emperor was called pretorium, by a Latin word derived from the Greek. See Erasmus in loc. Calvin supposes that the palace of Nero is intended. The question about the meaning of the word is important, as it bears on the inquiry to what extent the gospel was made known at Rome in the time of Paul, and perhaps as to the question why he was released from his imprisonment. If the knowledge of his innocence had reached the palace, it was a ground of hope that he might be acquitted; and if that palace is here intended, it is an interesting fact as showing that in some way the gospel had been introduced into the family of the emperor himself. That the palace or residence of the emperor is intended here, may be considered at least probable from the following considerations:

(1.) It is the name which would be likely. to be used by the Jews who came up from Judea and other provinces, to denote the chief place of judgment, or the principal residence of the highest magistrate. So it was used in Jerusalem, in Cesarea, and in the provinces generally, to denote the residence of the general in the camp, or the procurator in the cities—the highest representative of the Roman power.

(2.) If the remark of Chrysostom, above referred to, be well founded, that this was a common name given to the palace in Rome, then this goes far to determine the question.

(3.) In Php 4:22, Paul, in the salutation of the saints at Rome to those of Philippi, mentions particularly those of "Caesar's household." From this it would seem that some of the family of the emperor had been made acquainted with the Christian religion, and had been converted. In what way the knowledge of the true cause of Paul's imprisonment had been circulated in the "palace," is not now known. There was, however, close intimacy between the military officers and the government, and it was probably by means of some of the soldiers or officers who had the special charge of Paul, that this had been communicated. To Paul, in his bonds, it must have been a subject of great rejoicing, that the government became thus apprized of the true character of the opposition which had been excited against him; and it must have done much to reconcile him to the sorrows and privations of imprisonment, that he was thus the means of introducing religion to the very palace of the emperor.

And in all other places. Marg., to all others. The Greek will bear either construction. But if, as has been supposed, the reference in the word pretorium is to the palace, then this should be rendered "all other places." It then means, that the knowledge of his innocence, and the consequences of that knowledge in its happy influence in spreading religion, were not confined to the palace, but were extended to other places. The subject was generally understood, so that it might be said that correct views of the matter pervaded the city, and the fact of his imprisonment was accomplishing extensively the most happy effects on the public mind.

{3} "bonds in Christ" "for"

{4} "all the palace" "Caesar's court" Php 4:22

{5} "in all other places" "to all others"


Verse 14. And many of the brethren. Many Christians. It is evident from this, that there were already "many" in Rome who professed Christianity.

In the Lord. In the Lord Jesus; that is, united to him and to each other by a professed attachment to him. This is a common phrase to designate Christians.

Waxing confident by my bonds. Becoming increasingly bold and zealous in consequence of my being confined. This might have been either

(1.) that from the very fact that so distinguished a champion of the truth had been imprisoned, they were excited to do all they could in the cause of the gospel. Or

(2.) they were aroused by the fact that the cause of his imprisonment had become generally understood, and that there was a strong current of popular favour setting towards Christianity in consequence of it. Or

(3.) they had had intercourse with Paul in his own "hired house," and had been incited and encouraged by him to put forth great efforts in the cause. Or

(4.) it would seem that some had been emboldened to promulgate their views, and set themselves up as preachers, who would have been restrained if Paul had been at liberty. They were disposed to form parties, and to secure followers, and rejoiced in an opportunity to increase their own popularity, and were not unwilling thus to diminish the popularity and lessen the influence of so great a man as Paul. Had he been at liberty, they would have had no prospect of success. See Php 1:16. To this may be added a suggestion by Theodoret. "Many of the brethren have increased boldness—yarsov —on account of my bonds. For seeing me bear such hard things with pleasure, they announce that the gospel (which sustains me) is divine." The same sentiment occurs in Oecumen and Theophyl. See Bloomfield. In Paul himself they had an illustration of the power of religion, and being convinced of its truth, they went and proclaimed it abroad.

. That is, they see that I remain safely, (comp. Ac 28:30,) and that there is no danger of persecution, and, stimulated by my sufferings and patience, they go and make the gospel known.

{*} "confident" "growing confident"


Verse 15. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife. What was the ground of this "envy and strife" the apostle does not mention. It would seem, however, that even in Rome there was a party which was jealous of the influence of Paul, and which supposed that this was a good opportunity to diminish his influence, and to strengthen their own cause. He was not now at large so as to be able to meet and confute them. They had access to the mass of the people. It was easy, under plausible pretences, to insinuate hints about the ambitious aims, or improper influence of Paul, or to take strong ground against him and in favour of their own views, and they availed themselves of this opportunity. It would seem most probable, though this is not mentioned, that these persons were Judaizing teachers, professing Christianity, and who supposed that Paul's views were derogatory to the honour of Moses and the law.

And some also of good will. From pure motives, having no party aims to accomplish, and not intending in any way to give me trouble.


Verse 16. The one preach Christ of contention. So as to form parties, and to produce strifes among his professed followers.

Not sincerely. Not purely—agnwv—not with pure motives or intentions. Their real aim is not to preach Christ, but to produce difficulty and to stir up strife. They are ambitious men, and they have no real regard for the welfare of the church and the honour of religion.

Supposing to add affliction to my bonds. To make my trial the greater. How they did this is unknown. Perhaps they were those who were strongly imbued with Jewish notions, and who felt that his course tended to diminish respect for the law of Moses, and who now took this opportunity to promote their views, knowing that this would be particularly painful to him when he was not at, liberty to meet them openly, and to defend his own opinions. It is possible also that they may have urged that Paul himself had met with a signal reproof for the course which he had taken, and, as a consequence, was now thrown into chains. Bloomfield suggests that it was the opinion of many of the ancient expositors that they endeavoured to do this by so preaching as to excite the fury of the multitude or the rulers against Paul, and to produce increased severity in his punishment. But the way in which they did this is unknown, and conjecture is altogether useless.


Verse 17. But the other of love. From pure motives, and from sincere affection to me.

Knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. They believe that I am an ambassador from God. They regard me as unjustly imprisoned, and while I am disabled, they are willing to aid me in the great cause to which my life is devoted. To alleviate his sorrows, and to carry forward the great cause to defend which he was particularly appointed, they engaged in the work which he could not now do, and went forth to vindicate the gospel, and to make its claims better known. Coverdale renders this, "for they know that I lie here for the defence of the gospel." So Piscator, Michaelis, and Endius render it, supposing that the meaning is, that he lay in prison for the defence of the gospel, or as a consequence of his efforts to defend it. But this is not in accordance with the usual meaning of the Greek word, keimai. It means to lie, and in the perf. pass. to be laid, set, placed. If the apostle had referred to his being in prison, he would have added that fact to the statement made. The sense is, that he was appointed to be a defender of the gospel, and that they being well convinced of this, went forth to promulgate and defend the truth. That fact was one of Paul's chief consolations while he was thus in confinement.

{+} "set" "placed"


Verse 18. What then? What follows from this? What effect does it have on my mind? Does the fact that some preach from a spirit of envy and contention give me pain?

Notwithstanding every way. No matter in what way it is done. We are not to suppose, however, that Paul was indifferent as to the way in which the gospel was preached, or the spirit with which it was done; but the meaning is, that it was a matter of rejoicing that it was done at all, whatever the motives might be.

Whether in pretence or in truth. Whether as a mere pretext to cover up some other design, or from pure motives. Their pretence was that they preached the gospel because they believed it true and loved it; their real object was to build up a party, and to diminish the influence and authority of Paul.

Christ is preached. They made known the name of the Saviour, and announced that the Messiah had come. They could not go forth under any pretence as preachers, without making known some truth about the Redeemer. So now, it is hardly possible that any persons should attempt to preach, without stating some truth that would not otherwise be known. The name of a Saviour will be announced, and that will be something. Some views of his life and work will be presented, which, though they may be far enough from full views, are yet better than none. Though there may be much error in what is said, yet there will be also some truth. It would be better to have preachers that were better instructed, or that were more prudent, or that had purer motives, or that held a more perfect system; yet it is much in our world to have the name of the Redeemer announced in any way, and even to be told, in the most stammering manner, and from whatever motives, that man has a Saviour. The announcement of that fact, in any way, may save a soul; but ignorance of it could save none.

And I therein do rejoice. This is an instance of great magnanimity on the part of Paul, and nothing, perhaps, could better show his supreme love for the Saviour. Part preached to increase his afflictions, and the tendency of that preaching was, probably, as it was designed to be, to unsettle confidence in him, and to lessen his influence. Yet this did not move him. The more important matter was secured, and Christ was made known; and if this were secured, he was willing that his own name should be east into the shade. This may furnish valuable lessons to preachers of the gospel now. When

(1.) we are laid aside from preaching by sickness, we should rejoice that others are in health, and are able to make the Saviour known, though we are forgotten.

(2.) When we are unpopular and unsuccessful, we should rejoice that others are more popular and successful—for Christ is preached.

(3.) When we have rivals, who have better plans than we for doing good, and whose labours are crowned with success, we should not be envious or jealousy for Christ is preached.

(4.) When ministers of other denominations preach what we regard as error, and their preaching becomes popular, and is attended with success, we can find occasion to rejoice—for they preach Christ. In the error we should not, we cannot rejoice; but in the fact that the great truth is held up that Christ died for men, we can always find abundant occasion for joy. Mingled as it may be with error, it may be nevertheless the means of saving souls; and though we should rejoice more if the truth were preached without any admixture of error, yet still the very fact that Christ is made known lays the foundation for gratitude and rejoicing. Had all Christians, and Christian ministers, the feelings which Paul expresses here, there would be much less envy and uncharitableness than there is now in the churches. May we not hope that the time will yet come when all who preach the gospel will have such supreme regard for the name and work of the Saviour, that they will find sincere joy in the success of a rival denomination, or a rival preacher, or in rival plans for doing good? Then, indeed, contentions would cease, and the hearts of Christians, "like kindred drops," would mingle into one.


Verse 19. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation. Will be a means of my salvation. Whether the effect shall be to turn public favour towards the Christian religion, and secure my release; or whether it shall be to instigate my enemies more, so as to lead to my death; I am satisfied that the result, so far as I am concerned, will be well. The word "salvation," here, does not refer to him release from captivity, as Koppe, Rosenmuller, Clarke, and others, suppose; for he was not absolutely certain of that, and could not expect that to be effected by "the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." But the meaning is, that all these dealings, including his imprisonment, and especially the conduct of those who thought to add affliction to his bonds, would be among the means of his salvation. Trying and painful as all this was, yet trial and pain Paul reckoned among the means of grace; and he had no doubt that this would prove so.

Through your prayer. See Barnes "2 Co 1:11".

And the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. To sustain me, and to cause those happy results to come out of these trials. He needed the same Spirit which Jesus Christ had, to enable him to bear his trials with patience, and to impart to him the consolations which he required. He had no idea that these trials would produce these effects of their own accord, nor that it could be by any strength of his own.

{a} "shall turn" Ro 8:28

{b} "your prayer" 2 Co 1:11


Verse 20. According to my earnest expectation. The word here used occurs but in one other place in the New Testament. See it explained See Barnes "Ro 8:19".

The earnest desire and hope which Paul had was not, primarily, that he might be released; but it was that, in all circumstances, he might be able to honour the gospel, living or dying. To that he looked as a much more important matter than to save his life. Life with him was the secondary consideration; the main thing was, to stand up everywhere as the advocate of the gospel, to maintain its truth, and to exhibit its spirit.

That in nothing I shall be ashamed. That I shall do nothing of which I shall have occasion to be ashamed. That in these heavy trials, I may not be left to deny the truth of the Christian religion; that, even before the emperor, I may maintain its principles; and that the dread of death may not lead me to do a dishonourable thing, or in any way so to shrink from an avowal of my belief, as to give me or my friends occasion of regret.

But that with all boldness. By my speaking the truth, and maintaining my principles with all boldness. See Barnes "2 Co 7:4" See Barnes "Eph 6:19, See Barnes "Eph 6:20".

Christ shall be magnified. Shall be held up to the view of man as the true and only Saviour, whatever becomes of me.

Whether it be by life. If I am permitted to live. He was not yet certain how the case would terminate with him. He had not been put on his trial, and, whether that trial would result in his acquittal or not, he could not certainly know. But he felt assured that, if he were acquitted, the effect would be to honour Christ. He would ascribe his deliverance to his gracious interposition; he would devote himself with new ardour to his service; and he felt assured, from his past efforts, that he would be able to do something that would "magnify" Christ in the estimation of mankind.

Or by death. If my trial shall result in my death. Then, he believed, he would be able to show such a spirit as to do honour to Christ and his cause. He was not afraid to die, and he was persuaded that he would be enabled to bear the pains of death in such a manner as to show the sustaining power of religion, and the value of Christianity. Christ is "magnified" in the death of Christians, when his gospel is seen to sustain them; when, supported by its promises, they are enabled to go calmly into the dark valley; and when, in the departing moments, they confidently commit their eternal all into his hands. The effect of this state of feeling on the mind of Paul must have been most happy. In whatever way his trial terminated, he felt assured that the great object for which he lived would be promoted. Christ would be honoured, perhaps, as much by his dying as a martyr, as by his living yet many years to proclaim his gospel, tie was, therefore, reconciled to his lot. He had no anxiety. Come what might, the purpose which he had most at heart would be secured, and the name of the Saviour would be honoured.

{c} "ashamed" Ro 5:5

{d} "as always" Eph 6:19,20

{e} "whether it be life" Ro 14:7,8


Verse 21. For to me to live is Christ. My sole aim in living is to glorify Christ. He is the supreme End of my life, and I value it only as being devoted to his honour. Doddridge. His aim was not honour, learning, gold, pleasure; it was to glorify the Lord Jesus. This was the single purpose of his soul—a purpose to which he devoted himself with as much singleness and ardour as ever did a miser to the pursuit of gold, or a devotee of pleasure to amusement, or an aspirant for fame to ambition. This implied the following things:

(1.) A purpose to know as much of Christ as it was possible to know—to become as fully acquainted as he could with his rank, his character, his plans, with the relations which he sustained to the Father, and with the claims and influences of his religion. See Php 3:10; Eph 3:19. Comp. Joh 17:3.

(2.) A purpose to imitate Christ—to make him the model of his life. It was a design that his Spirit should reign in his heart, that the same temper should actuate him, and that the same great end should be constantly had in view.

(3.) A purpose to make his religion known, as far as possible, among mankind. To this Paul seriously gave his life, and devoted his great talents. His aim was to see on how many minds he could impress the sentiments of the Christian religion; to see to how many of the human family he could make Christ known, to whom he was unknown before. Never was there a man who gave himself with more ardour to any enterprise, than Paul did to this; and never was one more successful, in any undertaking, than he was in this.

(4.) It was a purpose to enjoy Christ. He drew his comforts from him. His happiness he found in communion with him. It was not in the works of art; not in the pursuits of elegant literature; not in the gay and fashionable world; but it was in communion with the Saviour, and in endeavouring to please him. Remark,

(1.) Paul never had occasion to regret this course. It produced no sadness when he looked over his life. He never felt that he had had an unworthy aim of living; he did not wish that his purpose had been different when he came to die.

(2.) If it was Paul's duty thus to live, it is no less that of every Christian. What was there in his case that made it his duty to "live unto Christ," which does not exist in the case of every sincere Christian on earth? No believer, when he comes to die, will regret that he has lived unto Christ; but how many, alas! regret that this has not been the aim and purpose of their souls?

And to die is gain. Comp. Re 14:13. A sentiment similar to this occurs frequently in the Greek and Latin classic writers. See Wetstein, in loc., who has collected numerous such passages. With them, the sentiment had its origin in the belief that they would be freed from suffering, and admitted to some happy world beyond the grave. To them, however, all this was conjecture and uncertainty. The word gain, here, means profit, advantage; and the meaning is, there would be an advantage in dying above that of living. Important benefits would result to him personally, should he die; and the only reason why he should wish at all to live was, that he might be the means of benefiting others, Php 1:24,25. But how would it be gain to die? What advantage would there be in Paul's circumstances? What in ours? It may be answered, that it will be gain for a Christian to die in the following respects:—

(1.) He will be then freed from sin. Here it is the source of perpetual humiliation and sorrow; in heaven he will sin no more.

(2.) He will be freed from doubts about his condition. Here the best are liable to doubts about theft personal piety, and often experience many an anxious hour in reference to this point; in heaven, doubt will be known no more.

(3.) He will be freed from temptation. Here, no one knows when he may be tempted, nor how powerful the temptation may be; in heaven, there will be no allurement to lead him astray; no artful, cunning, and skilful votaries of pleasure to place inducements before him to sin; and no heart to yield to them, if there were.

(4.) He will be delivered from all his enemies—from the slanderer, the calumniator, the persecutor. Here the Christian is constantly liable to have his motives called in question, or to be met with detraction and slander; there, there will be none to do him injustice; all will rejoice in the belief that he is pure.

(5.) He will be delivered from suffering. Here he is constantly liable to it. His health fails, his friends die, his mind is sad. There, there shall be no separation of friends, no sickness, and no tears.

(6.) He will be delivered from death. Here, death is ever nigh—dreadful, alarming, terrible to our nature There, death will be known no more. No face will ever turn pale, and no knees tremble, at his approach; in all heaven there will never be seen a funeral procession, nor will the soil there ever open its bosom to furnish a grave.

(7.) To all this may be added the fact, that the Christian will be surrounded by his best friends; that he will be reunited with those whom he loved on earth; that he will be associated with the angels of light; and that he will be admitted to the immediate presence of his Saviour and his God? Why, then, should a Christian be afraid to die? And why should he not hail that hour, when it comes, as the hour of his deliverance, and rejoice that he is going home? Does the prisoner, long confined in a dungeon, dread the hour which is to open his prison, add permit him to return to his family and friends? Does the man in a foreign land, long an exile, dread the hour when he shall embark on the ocean to be conveyed where he may embrace the friends of his youth? Does the sick man dread the hour which restores him to health? the afflicted, the hour of comfort? the wanderer at night, the cheering light of returning day? And why, then, should the Christian dread the hour which will restore him to immortal vigour; which shall remove all his sorrows; which shall introduce him to everlasting day? \-

Death is the crown of life:
Were death denied, poor man would live in vain;
Were death denied, to live would not be life;
Were death denied, even fools would wish to die.
Death wounds to cure; we tall; we rise; we reign !
Spring from our fetters; hasten in the skies;
Where blooming Eden withers in our sight.
Death gives us more than was in Eden lost.
The king of terrors is the prince of peace.
Night Thoughts, iii.


Verse 22. But if I live in the flesh. If I continue to live; if I am not condemned, and made a martyr at my approaching trial.

This is the fruit of my labour. The meaning of this passage, which has given much perplexity to commentators, it seems to me is, "If I live in the flesh, it will cost me labour; it will be attended, as it has been, with much effort and anxious care, and I know not which to prefer—whether to remain on the earth with these cares and the hope of doing good, or to go at once to a world of rest."

A more literal version of the Greek will show that this is the meaning— touto moi karpov ergou "this to me is [or would be] the fruit of labour." Coverdale, however, renders it, "Inasmuch as to live in the flesh is fruitful to me for the work, I wot not what I shall choose." So Luther, "But since to live in the flesh serves to produce more fruit." And so Bloomfield, "But if my life in the flesh be of use to the gospel, (be it so, I say no more,) verily what I shall choose I see and know not." See also Koppe, Rosenmuller, and Calvin, who give the same sense. According to this, the meaning is, that if his life were of value to the gospel, he was willing to live; or that it was a valuable object—operae pretium —worth an effort thus to live. This sense accords well with the connexion, and the thought is a valuable one, but it is somewhat doubtful whether it can be made out from the Greek. To do it, it is necessary to suppose that moi—my—is expletive, (Koppe,) and that kai and —is used in an unusual sense. See Erasmus. According to the interpretation first suggested, it means that Paul felt that it would be gain to die, and that he was entirely willing; that he felt that if he continued to live it would involve toil and fatigue; and that therefore, great as was the natural love of life, and desirous as he was to do good, he did not know which to choose-an immediate departure to the world of rest, or a prolonged life of toil and pain, attended even with the hope that he might do good. There was an intense desire to be with Christ, joined with the belief that his life here must be attended with toll and anxiety; and, on the other hand, an earnest wish to live in order to do good, and he knew not which to prefer.

Yet. The sense has been obscured by this translation. The Greek word kai means and, and should have been so rendered here, in its usual sense. "To die would be gain; my life here would be one of toil, AND I know not which to choose."

What I shall choose I wot not. I do not know which I should prefer, if it were left to me. On each side there were important considerations, and he knew not which overbalanced the other. Are not Christians often in this state, that if it were left to themselves they would not know which to choose, whether to live or to die?

{*} "wot" "know"


Verse 23. For I am in a straight betwixt two. Two things, each of which I desire. I earnestly long to be with Christ; and I desire to remain to be useful to the world. The word rendered "I am in a strait" sunecomai—means, to be pressed on or constrained, as in a crowd; to feel one's self pressed, or pent up, so as not to know what to do; and it here means that he was in perplexity and doubt, and did not know what to choose. "The words of the original are very emphatic. They appear to be derived from a ship when lying at anchor, and when violent winds blow upon it that would drive it out to sea. The apostle represents himself as in a similar condition. His strong affection for them bound his heart to them as an anchor holds a ship to its moorings; and yet there was a heavenly influence bearing upon him—like the gale upon the vessel —which would bear him away to heaven." Burder, in Ros. Alt. u. neu. Morgenland, in loc.

Having a desire to depart. To die—to leave this world for a better. Men, as they are by nature, usually dread to die. Few are even made willing to die. Almost none desire to die—and even then they wish it only as the least of two evils. Pressed down by pain and sorrow, or sick and weary of the world, the mind may be wrought up into a desire to be away. But this, with the world, is in all cases the result of misanthropy, or morbid feeling, or disappointed ambition, or an accumulation many sorrows. Wetstein has adduced on this verse several most beautiful passages from the classic writers, in which men expressed a desire to depart—but all of them probably could be traced to disappointed ambition, or to mental or bodily sorrows, or to dissatisfaction with the world. It was from no such wish that Paul desired to die. It was not because he hated man—for he ardently loved him; it was not because he had been disappointed about wealth and honour—for he had sought neither; it was not because he had not been successful—for no man has been more so; it was not because he had been subjected to pains and imprisonments—for he was willing to bear them; it was not because he was old, and infirm and a burden to the world—for, from anything that appears, he was in the rigour of life, and in the fulness of his strength. It was from a purer, higher motive than any of these—the strength of attachment which bound him to the Saviour, and which made him long to be with him.

And to be with Christ. We may remark on this expression,

(1.) that this was the true reason why he wished to be away. It was his strong love to Christ; his anxious wish to be with him; his firm belief that in his presence was "fulness of joy."

(2.) Paul believed that the soul of the Christian would be immediately with the Saviour at death. It was evidently his expectation that he would at once pass to his presence, and not that he would remain in an intermediate state to some far distant period.

(3.) The soul does not sleep at death. Paul expected to be with Christ, and to be conscious of the fact—to see him, and to partake of his glory.

(4.) The soul of the believer is made happy at death. To be with Christ is synonymous with being in heaven, for Christ is in heaven, and is its glory. We may add,

(a.) that this wish to be with Christ constitutes a marked difference between a Christian and other men. Other men may be willing to die; perhaps be desirous to die, because their sorrows are so great that they feel that they cannot be borne. But the Christian desires to depart from a different motive altogether. It is to be with Christ—and this constitutes a broad line of distinction between him and other men.

(b.) A mere willingness to die, or even a desire to die, is no certain evidence of preparation for death. If this willingness or desire is caused by mere intensity of suffering; if it is produced by disgust at the world, or by disappointment; if it arises from some view of fancied Elysian fields beyond the grave, it constitutes no evidence whatever of preparation for death. I have seen not a few persons who were not professed Christians on a bed of death, and not a few willing to die, nay, not a few who wished to depart. But in the vast majority of instances it was because they were sick of life, or because their pain made them sigh for relief, or because they were so wretched that they did not care what happened—and this they and their friends construed into an evidence that they were prepared to die! In most instances this is a miserable delusion; in no case is a mere willingness to die an evidence of preparation for death.

Which is far better. Would be attended with more happiness; and would be a higher, holier state than to remain on earth. This proves, also, that the soul of the Christian at death is made at once happy—for a state of insensibility can in no way be said to be a better condition than to remain in this present world. The Greek phrase here pollw mallon kreisson—is very emphatic, and the apostle seems to labour for language which will fully convey his idea. It means, "by much more, or rather better;" and the sense is, "better beyond all expression." Doddridge. See numerous examples illustrating the phrase in Wetstein. Paul did not mean to say that he was merely willing to die, or that he acquiesced in its necessity, but that the fact of being with Christ was a condition greatly to be preferred to remaining on earth. This is the true feeling of Christian piety; and, having this feeling, death to us will have no terrors.

{a} "to depart" 2 Co 5:8

{b} "far better" Ps 16:11


Verse 24. Nevertheless to abide in the flesh. To live. All this is language derived from the belief that the soul will be separate from the body at death, and will occupy a separate state of existence.

Is more needful for you. Another object that was dear to the heart of Paul. He never supposed that his life was useless; or that it was a matter of no importance to the cause of religion whether he lived or died. He knew that God works by means; and that the life of a minister of the gospel is of real value to the church and the world. His experience, his influence, his paternal counsels, he felt assured, would be of value to the church; and he had, therefore, a desire to live—and it was no part of his religion affectedly to undervalue or despise himself.


Verse 25. And having this confidence. "Being persuaded of this, that my continuance on earth is desirable for your welfare, and that the Lord has a work for me to do, I confidently expect that I shall be permitted to live." The "confidence" here referred to was, that his life was needful for them, and hence that God would spare him. A literal translation would be, "And being persuaded as to this, or of this" touto pepoiywv "I know," etc. The foundation of his expectation that he should live does not appear to have been any revelation to that effect, as Doddridge supposes; or any intimation which he had from the palace, of the intentions of the government, as some others suppose; but the fact that he believed his life to be necessary for them, and that therefore God would preserve it.

I know that I shall abide. The word know, however, (oida) is not to be pressed as denoting absolute necessity—for it appears from Php 1:27; 2:17, that there was some ground for doubt whether he would live—but is to be taken in a popular sense, as denoting good courage, and an earnest hope, that he would be permitted to live and visit them. Heinrichs.

And continue with you all. That is, that he would be permitted not only to live, but to enjoy their society.

For your furtherance and joy of faith. For the increase of your faith, and the promotion of that joy which is the consequence of faith. Wetstein has quoted a beautiful passage from Seneca (Epis. 104) which strikingly resembles this sentiment of Paul. He says that when a man had meditated death, and when on his own account he would be willing to die, yet that he ought to be willing to live—to come back again to life—for the sake of his friends, he then adds, "It pertains to a great mind to be willing to come back to life for the sake of others; which distinguished men often do."


Verse 26. That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Christ Jesus. Through the mercy and grace of Christ. If he was spared, his deliverance would be traced to Christ, and they would rejoice together in one who had so mercifully delivered him.

For me by my coming to you again. Their joy would not only be that he was delivered, but that he was permitted to see them again.


Verse 27. Only let your conversation. The word conversation we now apply almost exclusively to oral discourse, or to talking. But it was not formerly confined to that, and is never so used in the Scriptures. It means conduct in general—including, of course, our manner of speaking, but not limited to that—and should be so understood in every place where it occurs in the Bible. The original word here used politeuw-politeuo, means, properly, to administer the State; to live as a citizen; to conduct one's self according to the laws and customs of a State. See Ac 23:1. Comp. examples in Wetstein. It would not be improperly rendered, "let your conduct, as a citizen, be as becomes the gospel;" and might without impropriety, though not exclusively, be referred to our deportment as members of a community, or citizens of a State. It undoubtedly implies that, as citizens, we should act, in all the duties which that relation involves—in maintaining the laws, in submission to authority, in the choice of rulers, etc., as well as in other relations —on the principles of the gospel; for the believer is bound to perform every duty on Christian principles. But the direction here should not be confined to that. It doubtless includes our conduct in all relations in life, and refers to our deportment in general; not merely as citizens of the State, but as members of the church, and in all other relations. In our manner of speech, our plans of living, our dealings with others, our conduct and walk in the church and out of it—all should be done as becomes the gospel. The direction, therefore, in this place, is to be understood of everything pertaining to conduct.

As it becometh the Gospel of Christ.

(1.) The rules of the gospel are to be applied to all our conduct—to our conversation, business transactions, modes of dress, style of living, entertainments, etc. There is nothing which we do, or say, or purpose, that is to be excepted from those rules.

(2.) There is a way of living which is appropriate to the gospel, or which is such as the gospel requires. There is something which the gospel would secure as its proper fruits in all our conduct, and by which our lives should be regulated. It would distinguish us from the gay, and from those who seek honour and wealth as their supreme object. If all Christians were under the influence of the gospel, there would be something in their dress, temper, conversation, and aims, which would distinguish them from others. The gospel is not a thing of naught; nor is it intended that it should exert no influence on its friends.

(3.) It is very important that Christians should frame their lives by the rules of the gospel, and, to this end, should study them, and know what they are. This is important,

(a.) because they are the best and wisest of all rules;

(b.) because it is only in this way that Christians can do good;

(c.) because they have solemnly covenanted with the Lord to take his laws as their guide;

(d.) because it is only in this way that they can enjoy religion; and

(e.) because it is only by this that they can have peace on a dying bed. If men live as "becometh the gospel," they live well. Their lives are honest and honourable; they are men of truth and uprightness; they will have no sources of regret when they die, and they will not give occasion to their friends to hang their heads with shame in the remembrance of them. No man on a dying bed ever yet regretted that he had framed his life by the rules of the gospel, or felt that his conduct had been conformed too much to it.

That whether I come and see you. Alluding to the possibility that he might be released, and be permitted to visit them again.

Or else be absent. Either at Rome, still confined, or released, and permitted to go abroad. I may hear of your affairs, etc. I may hear always respecting you that you are united, and that you are vigorously striving to promote the interests of the gospel.

{a} "let your conversation" Eph 4:1; Php 3:20

{*} "conversation" "Conduct"

{b} "stand fast" Php 4:1

{a} "striving together" Jude 1:3


Verse 28. And in nothing terrified by your adversaries. Adversaries, or opponents, they had, like most of the other early Christians. There were Jews there who would be likely to oppose them, Ac 17:5 and they were exposed to persecution by the heathen. In that city, Paul had himself suffered much Ac 16; and it would not be strange if the same scenes should be repeated. It is evident from this passage, as well as from some other parts of the epistle, that the Philippians were at this time experiencing some form of severe suffering. But in what way, or why, the opposition to them was excited, is nowhere stated. The meaning here is, "Do not be alarmed at anything which they can do. Maintain your Christian integrity, notwithstanding all the opposition which they can make. They will, in the end, certainly be destroyed, and you will be saved."

Which is to them an evident token of perdition, What, it may be asked, would be the token of their perdition? What is the evidence to which Paul refers that they will be destroyed? The relative "which" htiv— is probably used as referring to the persecution which had been commenced, and to the constancy which the apostle supposed the Philippians would evince. The sentence is elliptical; but it is manifest that the apostle refers either to the circumstance then occurring, that they were persecuted, and that they evinced constancy, or to the constancy which he wished them to evince in their persecutions. He says that this circumstance of persecution, if they evinced such a spirit as he wished, would be to them an evidence of two things:

(1.) Of the destruction of those who were engaged in the persecution. This would be, because they knew that such persecutors could not ultimately prevail. Persecution of the church would be a certain indication that they who did it would be finally destroyed.

(2.) It would be a proof of their own salvation, because it would show that they were the friends of the Redeemer; and they had the assurance that all those who were persecuted for his sake would be saved. The gender of the Greek relative here is determined by the following noun endeixiv in a manner that is not uncommon in Greek. See Wetstein, in loc., and Koppe.

And that of God. That is, their persecution is a proof that God will interpose in due time, and save you. The hostility of the wicked to us is one evidence that we are the friends of God, and shall be saved.

{b} "your adversaries" Isa 51:7,12; Mt 10:28

{c} "which is to them" 2 Th 1:5

{d} "but to you" Ro 8:17


Verse 29. For unto you. Unto you as Christians. This favour is granted unto you in your present circumstances.

It is given. God concedes to you this privilege or advantage.

In the behalf of Christ. In the cause of Christ, or with a view to honour Christ. Or, these things are brought on you in consequence of your being Christians.

Not only to believe on him. It is represented here as a privilege to be permitted to believe on Christ. It is so.

(1.) It is an honour to a man to believe one who ought to be believed, to trust one who ought to be trusted, to love one who ought to be loved.

(2.) It is a privilege to believe on Christ, because it is by such faith that our sins are forgiven; that we become reconciled to God, and have the hope of heaven.

(3.) It is a privilege, because it saves the mind from the tortures and the deadly influence of unbelief —the agitation, and restlessness, and darkness, and gloom of a sceptic.

(4.) It is a privilege, because we have then a Friend to whom we may go in trial, and on whom me may roll all our burdens. If there is anything for which a Christian ought to give unfeigned thanks, it is that he has been permitted to believe on the Redeemer. Let a sincere Christian compare his peace, and joy, and hope of heaven, and support in trials, with the restlessness, uneasiness, and dread of death, in the mind of an unbeliever, and he will see abundant occasion for gratitude.

But also to suffer for his sake. Here it is represented as a privilege to suffer in the cause of the Redeemer—a declaration which may sound strange to the world. Yet this sentiment frequently occurs in the New Testament. Thus it is said of the apostles, Ac 5:41, that "they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." Col 1:24: "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you." 1 Pe 4:13: "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings." Comp. Jas 1:2; Mr 10:30. See Barnes "Ac 5:41".

It is a privilege thus to suffer in the cause of Christ, because

(1.) we then resemble the Lord Jesus, and are united with him in trials;

(2.) because we have evidence that we are his, if trials come upon us in his cause;

(3.) because we are engaged in a good cause, and the privilege of maintaining such a cause is worth much of suffering; and

(4.) because it will be connected with a brighter crown and more exalted honour in heaven.

{e} "given in the behalf" Ac 5:41

{*} "of" "in respect to"


Verse 30. Having the same conflict. The same agony agwna— the same strife with bitter foes, and the same struggle in the warfare.

Which ye saw in me. When I was in Philippi, opposed by the multitude, and thrown into prison, Ac 16.

And now hear to be in me. In Rome. He was a prisoner there, was surrounded by enemies, and was about to be tried for his life. He says that they ought to rejoice if they were called to pass through the same trials.

In this chapter we have a beautiful illustration of the true spirit of a Christian, in circumstances exceedingly trying. The apostle was in a situation where religion would show itself, if there were any in the heart; and where, if there was none, the bad passions of our nature would be developed. He was a prisoner. He had been unjustly accused. He was about to be put on trial for his life, and it was wholly uncertain what the result would be. He was surrounded with enemies, and there were not a few false friends and rivals who took advantage of his imprisonment to diminish his influence, and to extend their own. He was, perhaps, about to die; and, at any rate, was in such circumstances as to be under a necessity of looking death in the face.

In this situation he exhibited some of the tenderest and purest feelings that ever exist in the heart of man—the genuine fruit of pure religion. He remembered them with affectionate and constant interest in his prayers. He gave thanks for all that God had done for them. Looking upon his own condition, he said that the trials which had happened to him, great as they were, had been overruled to the furtherance of the gospel. The gospel had become known even in the imperial palace. And though it had been preached by some with no good will towards him, and with much error, yet he cherished no hard feeling; he sought for no revenge; he rejoiced that in any way, and from any motives, the great truth had been made known that a Saviour died. Looking forward to the possibility that his trial before the emperor might terminate in his death, he calmly anticipated such a result, and looked at it with composure. He says that, in reference to the great purpose of his life, it would make no difference whether he lived or died, for he was assured that Christ would be honoured whatever was the result. To him personally it would be gain to die; and, as an individual, he longed for the hour when he might be with Christ. This feeling is religion, and this is produced only by the hope of eternal life through the Redeemer. An impenitent sinner never expressed such feelings as these; nor does any other form of religion but Christianity enable a man to look upon death in this manner. It is not often that a man is even willing to demand then this state of mind is produced not by the hope of heaven, but by disgust at the world; by disappointed ambition; by painful sickness, when the sufferer feels that any change would be for the better. But Paul had none of these feelings. His desire to depart was not produced by a hatred of life; nor by the greatness of his sufferings; nor by disgust at the world. It was the noble, elevated, and pure wish to be with Christ—to see him whom he supremely loved, whom he had so long and so faithfully served, and with whom he was to dwell for ever. To that world where Christ dwelt he would gladly rise; and the only reason why he could be content to remain here was, that he might be a little longer useful to his fellow-men. Such is the elevated nature of Christian feeling. But alas! how few attain to it; and even among Christians how few are they that can habitually feel and realize that it would be gain for them to die! How few can say with sincerity that they desire to depart, and to be with Christ? How rarely does even the Christian reach that state of mind, and gain that view of heaven, that, standing amidst his comforts here, and looking on his family, and friends, and property, he can say, from the depths of his soul, that he feels it would be gain for him to go to heaven? Yet such deadness to the world may be produced—as it was in the case of Paul; such deadness to the world should exist in the heart of every sincere Christian. Where it does exist, death loses its terror, and the heir of life can look calmly on the bed where he will lie down to die; can think calmly of the moment when he will give the parting hand to wife and child, and press them to his bosom for the last time, and imprint on them the last kiss; can look peacefully on the spot where he will moulder back to dust, and in view of all can triumphantly say, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."

{f} "ye saw in me" Ac 16:19; 1 Th 2:2




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"


Verse 2. Fulfil ye my joy. Fill up my joy so that nothing shall be wanting to complete it. This, he says, would be done by their union, zeal, and humility. Comp. Joh 3:29.

That ye be likeminded. Gr., That ye think the same thing. See Barnes "2 Co 13:11".

Perfect unity of sentiment, opinion, and plan would be desirable, if it could be attained. It may be, so far as to prevent discord, schism, contention, and strife in the church, and so that Christians may be harmonious in promoting the same great work—the salvation of souls.

Having the same love. Love to the same objects, and the same love one for another. Though their opinions might differ on some points, yet they might be united in love. See Barnes "1 Co 1:10".

Being of one accord, sumqucoi— of one soul; having your souls joined together. The word used here does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means a union of soul; or an acting together as if but one soul actuated them.

Of one mind. Gr., Thinking the same thing. The apostle here uses a great variety of expressions to denote the same thing. The object which he aimed at was union of heart, of feeling, of plan, of purpose. He wished them to avoid all divisions and strifes; and to show the power of religion by being united in the common cause. Probably there is no single thing so much insisted on in the New Testament as the importance of harmony among Christians. Now, there is almost nothing so little known; but if it prevailed, the world would soon be converted to God. See Barnes "Joh 17:21" or Joh 17:21.

{+} "fulfil" "Fill up"

{b} "ye my joy" Joh 3:29

{c} "be like minded" 2 Co 13:11; 1 Pe 3:8


Verse 3. Let nothing be done through strife. With a spirit of contention. This command forbids us to do anything, or attempt anything, as the mere result of strife. This is not the principle from which we are to act, or by which we are to be governed. We are to form no plan, and aim at no object, which is to be secured in this way. The command prohibits all attempts to secure anything over others by mere physical strength, or by superiority of intellect or numbers, or as the result of dark schemes and plans formed by rivalry, or by the indulgence of angry passions, or with the spirit of ambition. We are not to attempt to do anything merelyoutdo others. This is all wrong. There is no holiness in such efforts. Never once did the Redeemer act from such a motive, and never once should this motive be allowed to influence us. The conduct of others may be allowed to show us what we can do, and ought to do; but it should not be our sole aim to outstrip them. Comp. 2 Co 9:2-4.

Or vainglory. The word here used —kenodozia kenodoxia, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though the adjective—kenodoxov kenedoxos, occurs once in Gal 5:26. See Barnes "Gal 5:26".

It means, properly, empty pride, or glory, and is descriptive of vain and hollow parade and show. Suidas renders it, "any vain opinion about one's self"—mataia tiv peri eautou oihsiv. The idea seems to be that of mere self-esteem; a mere desire to honour ourselves, to attract attention, to win praise, to make ourselves uppermost, or foremost, or the main object. The command here solemnly forbids our doing anything with such an aim—no matter whether it be in intellectual attainments, in physical strength, in skill in music, in eloquence or song, in dress, furniture, or religion. Self is not to be foremost; selfishness is not to be the motive. Probably there is no command of the Bible which would have a wider sweep than this, or would touch on more points of human conduct, if fairly applied. Who is there who passes a single day without, in some respect, desiring to display himself? What minister of the gospel preaches, who never has any wish to exhibit his talents, eloquence, or learning? How few make a gesture, but with some wish to display the grace or power witch which it is done! Who, in conversation, is always free from a desire to show his wit, or his power in argumentation, or his skill in repartee? Who plays at the piano without the desire of commendation? Who thunders in the senate, or goes to the field of battle; who builds a house, or purchases an article of apparel; who writes a book, or performs a deed of benevolence, altogether uninfluenced by this desire? If all could be taken out of human conduct which is performed merely from "strife," or from "vain-glory," how small a portion would be left!

But in lowliness of mind. Modesty, or humility. The word here used is the same which is rendered humility in Ac 20:19; Col 2:18,23; 1 Pe 5:5; humbleness in Col 3:12; and lowliness in Eph 4:2; Php 2:3. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It here means humility, and it stands opposed to that pride or self-valuation which would lead us to strive for the ascendancy, or which acts from a wish for flattery or praise. The best and the only true correction of these faults is humility. This virtue consists in estimating ourselves according to truth. It is a willingness to take the place which we ought to take in the sight of God and man; and, having the low estimate of our own importance and character which the truth about our insignificance as creatures and vileness as sinners would produce, it will lead us to a willingness to perform lowly and humble offices that we may benefit others.

Let each esteem other better than themselves. Comp. 1 Pe 5:5. This is one of the effects produced by true humility, and it naturally exists in every truly modest mind. The reasons are these:

(1.) We are sensible of our own defects, but we have not the same clear view of the defects of others. We see our own hearts; we are conscious of the great corruption there; we have painful evidence of the impurity of the motives which often actuate us— the evil thoughts and corrupt desires in our own souls; but we have not the same view of the errors, defects, and follies of others. We can see only their outward conduct; but, in our own case, we can look within. It is natural for those who have any just sense of the depravity of their own souls, charitably to hope that it is not so with others, and to believe that they have purer hearts. This will lead us to feel that they are worthy of more respect than we are. Hence this is always the characteristic of modesty and humility—graces which the gospel is fitted eminently to produce. A truly pious man will be always, therefore, an humble man, and will wish that others should be preferred in office and honour to himself. Of course, this will not make him blind to the defects of others when they are manifested; but he will be himself retiring, modest, unambitious, unobtrusive. This rule of Christianity would strike a blow at all the ambition of the world. It would rebuke the love of office, and would produce universal contentment in any low condition of life where the providence of God may have cast our lot. See Barnes "1 Co 7:21".

{d} "nothing be done" Gal 5:26; Jas 3:14

{a} "each esteem" 1 Pe 5:5


Verse 4. Look not every man on his own things. That is, be not selfish. Do not let your care and attention be wholly absorbed by your own concerns, or by the concerns of your own family. Evince a tender interest for the happiness of the whole, and let the welfare of others lie near your hearts. This, of course, does not mean that there is to be any improper interference in the business of others, or that we are to have the character of "busy-bodies in other men's matters," See Barnes "2 Th 3:11" See Barnes "1 Ti 5:13" See Barnes "1 Pe 4:15" but that we are to regard, with appropriate solicitude, the welfare of others, and to strive to do them good.

But every man also on the things of others. It is the duty of every man to do this. No one is at liberty to live for himself, or to disregard the wants of others. The object of this rule is to break up the narrow spirit of selfishness, and to produce a benevolent regard for the happiness of others. In respect to the rule we may observe: (1.) We are not to be "busy-bodies" in the concerns of others. See the references above. We are not to attempt to pry into their secret purposes. Every man has his own plans, and thoughts, and intentions, which no other one has a right to look into. Nothing is more odious than an intermeddler in the concerns of others.

(2.) We are not to obtrude our advice where it is not sought, or at unseasonable times and places, even if the advice is in itself good. No man likes to be interrupted to hear advice; and I have no right to require that he should suspend his business in order that I may give him counsel.

(3.) We are not to find fault with what pertains exclusively to him. We are to remember that there are some things which are his business, not ours; and we are to learn to "possess our souls in patience," if he does not give just as much as we think he ought to benevolent objects, or if he dresses in a manner not to please our taste, or if he indulges in things which do not accord exactly with our views. He may see reasons for his conduct which we do not; and it is possible that he may be right, and that, if we understood the whole case, we should think and act as he does. We often complain of a man because he does not give as much as we think he ought to objects of charity; and it is possible that he may be miserably niggardly and narrow. But it is also possible that he may be more embarrassed than we know of; or that he may just then have demands against him of which we are ignorant; or that he may have numerous poor relatives dependant on him; or that he gives much with "the left hand" which is not known by "the right hand." At any rate, it is his business, not ours; and we are not qualified to judge until we understand the whole case.

(4.) We are not to be gossips about the concerns of others. We are not to hunt up small stories and petty scandals respecting their families; we are not to pry into domestic affairs, and divulge them abroad, and find pleasure in circulating such things from house to house. There are domestic secrets which are not to be betrayed; and there is scarcely an offence of a meaner or more injurious character than to divulge to the public what we have seen in a family whose hospitality we have enjoyed.

(5.) Where Christian duty and kindness require us to look into the concerns of others, there should be the utmost delicacy. Even children have their own secrets, and their own plans and amusements, on a small scale, quite as important to them as the greater games which we are playing in life; and they will feel the meddlesomeness of a busy-body to be as odious to them as we should in our plans. A delicate parent, therefore, who has undoubtedly a right to know all about his children, will not rudely intrude into their privacies, or meddle with their concerns. So, when we visit the sick, while we show a tender sympathy for them, we should not be too particular in inquiring into their maladies or their feelings. So, when those with whom we sympathize have brought their calamities on themselves by their own fault, we should not ask too many questions about it. We should not too closely examine one who is made poor by intemperance, or who is in prison for crime. And so, when we go to sympathize with those who have been, by a reverse of circumstances, reduced from affluence to penury, we should not ask too many questions. We should let them tell their own story. If they voluntarily make us their confidants, and tell us all about their circumstances, it is well; but let us not drag out the circumstances, or wound their feelings by our impertinent inquiries, or our indiscreet sympathy in their affairs. There are always secrets which the sons and daughters of misfortune would wish to keep to themselves. But, while these things are true, it is also true that the rule before us positively requires us to show an interest in the concerns of others; and it may be regarded as implying the following things:

(1.) We are to feel that the spiritual interests of every one in the church is, in a certain sense, our own interest. The church is one. It is confederated together for a common object. Each one is intrusted with a portion of the honour of the whole, and the conduct of one member affects the character of all. We are therefore to promote, in every way possible, the welfare of every other member of the church. If they go astray, we are to admonish and entreat them; if they are in error, we are to instruct them; if they are in trouble, we are to aid them. Every member of the church has a claim on the sympathy of his brethren, and should be certain of always finding it when his circumstances are such as to demand it.

(2.) There are circumstances where it is proper to look with special interest on the temporal concerns of others. It is when the poor, the fatherless, and the afflicted must be sought out in order to be aided and relieved. They are too retiring and modest to press their situation on the attention of others, and they need that others should manifest a generous care in their welfare in order to relieve them. This is not improper interference in their concerns, nor will it be so regarded.

(3.) For a similar reason, we should seek the welfare of all others in a spiritual sense. We should seek to arouse the sinner, and lead him to the Saviour. He is blind, and will not come himself; unconcerned, and will not seek salvation; filled with the love of this world, and will not seek a better; devoted to pursuits that will lead him to ruin, and he ought to be apprized of it. It is no more an improper interference in his concerns to apprize him of his condition, and to attempt to lead him to the Saviour, than it is to warn a man in a dark night, who walks on the verge of a precipice, of his peril; or to arouse one from sleep whose house is in flames. In like manner, it is no more intermeddling with the concerns of another to tell him that there is a glorious heaven which may be his, than it is to apprize a man that there is a mine of golden ore on his farm. It is for the man's own interest, and it is the office of a friend to remind him of these things. Hie does a man a favour who tells him that he has a Redeemer, and that there is a heaven to which he may rise; he does his neighbour the greatest possible kindness who apprizes him that there is a world of infinite woe, and tells him of an easy way by which he may escape it. The world around is dependant on the church of Christ to be apprized of these truths. The gay will not warn the gay of their danger; the crowd that presses to the theatre or the ball-room will not apprize those who are there that they are in the broad way to hell; and every one who loves his neighbour should feel sufficient interest in him to tell him that he may be eternally happy in heaven.

{b} "his own things" 1 Co 13:5


Verse 5. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. The object of this reference to the example of the Saviour is particularly to enforce the duty of humility. This was the highest example which could be furnished, and it would illustrate and confirm all the apostle had said of this virtue. The principle in the case is that we are to make the Lord Jesus our model, and are in all respects to frame our lives, as far as possible, in accordance with this great example. The point here is, that he left a state of inexpressible glory, and took upon him the most humble form of humanity, and performed the most lowly offices, that he might benefit us.

{a} "mind" Joh 13:14; 1 Pe 2:21


Verse 6. Who being in the form of God. There is scarcely any passage in the New Testament which has given rise to more discussion than this. The importance of the passage on the question of the Divinity of the Saviour will be perceived at once; and no small part of the point of the appeal by the apostle depends, as will be seen, in the fact that Paul regarded the Redeemer as equal with God. If he was truly Divine, then his consenting to become a man was the most remarkable of all possible acts of humiliation. The word rendered form morfh morphe, occurs only in three places in the New Testament, and in each place is rendered form, Mr 16:12; Php 2:6,7.

In Mark it is applied to the form which Jesus assumed after his resurrection, and in which he appeared to two of his disciples on his way to Emmaus. "After that he appeared in another form unto two of them." This "form" was so unlike his usual appearance, that they did not know him. The word properly means, form, shape, bodily shape, especially a beautiful form, beautiful bodily appearance. Passow. In Php 2:7, it is applied to the appearance of a servant— "and took upon him the form of a servant;" that is, he was in the condition of a servant— or of the lowest condition. The word form is often applied to the gods by the classic writers, denoting their aspect or appearance when they became visible to men. See Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 2; Ovid, Meta. i. 73; Silius xiii. 643; Xeno. Memora. ix; 2Eniad, iv. 556, and other places cited by Wetstein, in loc. Hesychius explains it by idea, eidov. The word occurs often in the Septuagint,

(1.) as the translation of the word Ziv splendour, Da 4:33; 5:6,9,10; 7:28;

(2.) as the translation of the word Tabnith—structure, model, pattern—as in building, Isa 44:13;

(3.) as the translation of temuna—appearance, form, shape, image, likeness, Job 4:16. See also the Book of Wisdom 18:1. The word can have here only one of two meanings, either

(1.) splendour, majesty, glory—referring to the honour which the Redeemer had, his power to work miracles, etc.; or

(2.) nature, or essence—meaning the same as fusiv, nature, or ousia, being. The first is the opinion adopted by Crellus, Grotius, and others, and substantially by Calvin. Calvin says, "The form of God here denotes majesty. For as a man is known from the appearance of his form, so the majesty which shines in God is his figure. Or, to use a more appropriate similitude, the form of a king consists of the external marks which indicate a king —as his sceptre, diadem, coat of mail, attendants, throne, and other insignia of royalty; the form of a consul is the toga, ivory chair, attending lictors, etc. Therefore Christ, before the foundation of the world, was in the form of God, because he had glory with the Father before the world was, Joh 17:5. For in the wisdom of God, before he put on our nature, there was nothing humble or abject, but there was magnificence worthy of God." —Comm. in loc. The second opinion is, that the word is equivalent to nature, or being; that is, that he was in the nature of God, or his mode of existence was that of God, or was Divine. This is the opinion adopted by Schleusner (Lex.;) Prof. Stuart (Letters to Dr. Channing, p. 40;) Doddridge, and by orthodox expositors in general, and seems to me to be the correct interpretation. In support of this interpretation, and in opposition to that which refers it to his power of working miracles, or his divine appearance when on earth, we may adduce the following considerations.

(1.) The "form" here referred to must have been something before he became a man, or before he took upon him the form of a servant. It was something from which he humble& himself by making "himself of no reputation;" by taking upon himself" the form of a servant;" and by being made "in the likeness of men." Of course, it must have been something which existed when he had not the likeness of men; that is, before he became incarnate, he must therefore have had an existence before he appeared on earth as a man, and in that previous state of existence there must have been something which rendered it proper to say that he was "in the form of God."

(2.) That it does not refer to any moral qualities, or to his power of working miracles on earth, is apparent from the fact that these were not laid aside. When did he divest himself of these in order that he might humble himself ? There was something which he possessed which made it proper to say of him that he was "in the form of God," which he laid aside when he appeared in the form of a servant, and in the likeness of men. But assuredly that could not have been his moral qualities, nor is there any conceivable sense in which it can be said that he divested himself of the power of working miracles in order that he might take upon himself the "form of a servant." All the miracles which he ever wrought were performed when he sustained the form of a servant, in his lowly and humble condition. These considerations make it certain that the apostle refers to a period before the incarnation. It may be added,

(3.) that the phrase "form of God" is one that naturally conveys the idea that he was God. When it is said that he was "in the form of a servant," the idea is, that he was actually in a humble and depressed condition, and not merely that he appeared to be. Still it may be asked, what was the "form" which he had before his incarnation? What is meant by his having been then "in the form of God?" To these questions perhaps no satisfactory answer can be given. He himself speaks (Joh 17:5) of "the glory which he had with the Father before the world was;" and the language naturally conveys the idea that there was then a manifestation of the Divine nature through him, which in some measure ceased when he became incarnate; that there was some visible splendour and majesty which was then laid aside. What manifestation of his glory God may make in the heavenly world of course we cannot now understand. Nothing forbids us, however, to suppose that there is some such visible manifestation; some splendour and magnificence of God in the view of the angelic beings such as becomes the Great Sovereign of the universe—for he "dwells in light which no man can approach unto," 1 Ti 6:16. That glory, visible manifestation, or splendour, indicating the nature of God, it is here said that the Lord Jesus possessed before his incarnation.

Thought it not robbery to be equal with God. This passage, also, has given occasion to much discussion. Prof. Stuart renders it, "did not regard his equality with God as an object of solicitous desire;" that is, that though he was of a Divine nature or condition, he did not eagerly seek to retain his equality with God, but took on him a humble condition —even that of a servant. Letters to Channing, pp. 88—92. That this is the correct rendering of the passage is apparent from the following considerations :—

(1.) It accords with the scope and design of the apostle's reasoning. His object is not to show, as our common translation would seem to imply, that he aspired to be equal with God, or that he did not regard it as an improper invasion of the prerogatives of God to be equal with him, but that he did not regard it, in the circumstances of the case, as an object to be greatly desired, or eagerly sought to retain his equality with God. Instead of retaining this by an earnest effort, or by a grasp which he was unwilling to relinquish, he chose to forego the dignity, and to assume the humble condition of a man.

(2.) It accords better with the Greek than the common version. The word rendered robbery arpagmov— is found nowhere else in the New Testament, though the verb from which it is derived frequently occurs, Mt 11:12; 13:19; Joh 6:15; 10:12,28,29; Ac 8:39; 23:10; 2 Co 12:2,4; 1 Th 4:17; Jude 1:23; Re 12:5.

The notion of violence, or seizing, or carrying away, enters into the meaning of the word in all these places. The word here used does not properly mean an act of robbery, but the thing robbed—the plunder— das Rauben, (Passow,) and hence something to be eagerly seized and appropriated. Schleusner. Comp. Storr, Opuscul. Acade. i. 322, 323. According to this, the meaning of the word here is, something to be seized and eagerly sought; and the sense is, that his being equal with God was not a thing to be anxiously retained. The phrase "thought it not," means "did not consider;" it was not judged to be a matter of such importance that it could not be dispensed with. The sense is, "he did not eagerly seize and tenaciously hold," as one does who seizes prey or spoil. So Rosenmuller, Schleusner, Bloomfield, Stuart, and others understand it.

To be equal with God. to einai isa yew. That is, the being equal with God he did not consider a thing to be tenaciously retained. The plural neuter form of the word equal in Greek isa used in accordance with a known rule of the language, thus stated by Buttman. "When an adjective as predicate is separated from its substantive, it often stands in the neuter where the substantive is a masculine or feminine, and in the singular where the substantive is in the plural. That which the predicate expresses is, in this case, considered in general as a thing." Gr. Gram., § 129, 6. The phrase "equal with God," or "equal with the gods," is of frequent occurrence in the Greek classics. See Wetstein, in loc. The very phrase here used occurs in the Odyssey, O.—- ton nun isa yew iyakhsioi eisorowsi.

Comp. Joh 5:18. "Made himself equal with God." The phrase means one who sustains the same rank, dignity, nature. Now it could not be said of an angel that he was in any sense equal with God; much less could this be said of a mere man. The natural and obvious meaning of the language is, that there was an equality of nature and of rank with God, from which he humbled himself where he became a man. The meaning of the whole verse according to the interpretation suggested above, is, that Christ, before he became a man, was invested with honour, majesty, and glory, such as was appropriate to God himself; that there was some manifestation, or splendour in his existence and mode of being then, which showed that he was equal with God; that he did not consider that that honour, indicating equality with God, was to be retained at all events, and so as to do violence, as it were, to other interests, and to rob the universe of the glory of redemption; and that he was willing, therefore, to forget that, or lay it by for a time, in order that he might redeem the world. There were a glory and majesty which were appropriate to God, and which indicated equality with God—such as none but God could assume. For how could an angel have such glory, or such external splendour in heaven, as to make it proper to say that he was "equal with God?" With what glory could he be invested which would be such as became God only? The fair interpretation of this passage therefore is, that Christ, before his incarnation, was equal with God.

{b} "in the form of God" Joh 1:1,2; Col 1:15

{c} "equal with God" Joh 5:18


Verse 7. But made himself of no reputation. This translation by no means conveys the sense of the original. According to this it would seem that he consented to be without distinction or honour among men; or that he was willing to be despised or disregarded. The Greek is, eauton ekenwse. The word kenow means, literally, to empty, to make empty, to make vain or void. It is rendered made void in Ro 4:14; made of none effect, 1 Co 1:17; make void, 1 Co 9:15; should be vain, 2 Co 9:3. The word does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, except in the passage before us. The essential idea is that of bringing to emptiness, vanity, or nothingness; and hence it is applied to a case where one lays aside his rank and dignity, and becomes, in respect to that, as nothing; that is, he assumes a more humble rank and station. In regard to its meaning here we may remark,

(1.) that it cannot mean that he literally divested himself of his Divine nature and perfections, for that was impossible. He could not cease to be omnipotent, and omnipresent, and most holy, and true, and good.

(2.) It is conceivable that he might have laid aside, for a time, the symbols or the manifestation of his glory, or that the outward expressions of his majesty in heaven might have been withdrawn. It is conceivable for a Divine Being to intermit the exercise of his almighty power, since it cannot be supposed that God is always exerting his power to the utmost. And, in like manner, there might be for a time a laying aside or intermitting of these manifestions or symbols, which were expressive of the Divine glory and perfections. Yet

(3.) this supposes no change in the Divine nature, or in the essential nature of the Divine perfections. When the sun is obscured by a cloud, or in an eclipse, there is no real change of its glory, nor are his beams extinguished, nor is the sun himself in any measure changed. His lustre is only for a time obscured. So it might have been in regard to the manifestation of the glory of the Son of God. Of course, there is much in regard to this which is obscure; but the language of the apostle undoubtedly implies more than that he took an humble place, or that he demeaned himself in an humble manner. In regard to the actual change respecting his manifestations in heaven, or the withdrawing of the symbols of his glory there, the Scriptures are nearly silent, and conjecture is useless—perhaps improper. The language before us fairly implies that he laid aside that which was expressive of his being Divine—that glory which is involved in the phrase "being in the form of God"—and took upon himself another form and manifestation in the condition of a servant.

And took upon him the form of a servant. The phrase "form of a servant," should be allowed to explain the phrase "form of God" in Php 2:6. The form of a servant is that which indicates the condition of a servant, in contradistinction from one of higher rank. It means, to appear as a servant, to perform the offices of a servant, and to be regarded as such. He was made like a servant in the lowly condition which he assumed. The whole connexion and force of the argument here demands this interpretation. Storr and Rosenmuller interpret this as meaning that he became the servant or minister of God, and that in doing it, it was necessary that he should become a man. But the objection to this is obvious. It greatly weakens the force of the apostle's argument. His object is to state the depth of humiliation to which he descended; and this was best done by saying that he descended to the lowest condition of humanity, and appeared in the most humble garb. The idea of being a "servant or minister of God" would not express that, for this is a term which might be applied to the highest angel in heaven. Though the Lord Jesus was not literally a servant or slave, yet what is here affirmed was true of him in the following respects:

(1.) he occupied a most lowly condition in life; and

(2.) he condescended to perform such acts as are appropriate only to those who are servants. "I am among you as he that serveth," Lu 22:27. Comp Joh 13:4-15.

And was made in the likeness of men. Marg., habit. The Greek word means likeness, resemblance. The meaning is, he was made like unto men by assuming such a body as theirs. See Barnes "Ro 8:3".

{a} "made himself" Ps 22:6

{*} "reputation" "account"

{b} "and was made" Lu 22:27

{+} "made" "Being born"

{1} "likeness" "habit"


Verse 8. And being found. That is, being such, or existing as a man, he humbled himself.

In fashion as a man. The word rendered fashion schma means figure, mien, deportment. Here it is the same as state, or condition. The sense is, that when he was reduced to this condition he humbled himself, and obeyed even unto death. He took upon himself all the attributes of a mall. He assumed all the innocent infirmities of our nature. He appeared as other men do, was subjected to the necessity of food and raiment, like others, and was made liable to suffering, as other men are. It was still He who had been in the "form of God" who thus appeared; and, though his Divine glory had been for a time laid aside, yet it was not extinguished or lost. It is important to remember, in all our meditations on the Saviour, that it was the same Being who had been invested with so much glory in heaven that appeared on earth in the form of a man.

He humbled himself. Even then, when he appeared as a man. He had not only laid aside the symbols of his glory, Php 2:7, and beck, he a man; but, when he was a man, he humbled himself. Humiliation was a constant characteristic of him as a man. He did not aspire to high honours; he did not affect pomp and parade; he did not demand the service of a train of menials; but he condescended to the lowest conditions of life, Lu 22:27. The words here are very carefully chosen. In the former case, Php 2:7, when he became a man, he "emptied himself," or laid aside the symbols of his glory; now, when a man, he humbled himself. That is, though he was God appearing in the form of man—a Divine Person on earth—yet he did not assume and assert the dignity and prerogatives appropriate to a Divine Being, but put himself in a condition of obedience. For such a Being to obey law implied voluntary humiliation; and the greatness of his humiliation was shown by his becoming entirely obedient, even till he died on the cross.

And became obedient. He subjected himself to the law of God, and wholly obeyed it, Heb 10:7,9. It was a characteristic of the Redeemer that he yielded perfect obedience to the will of God. Should it be said that, if he was God himself, he must have been himself the lawgiver, we may reply, that this rendered his obedience the more wonderful and the more meritorious. If a monarch should, for an important purpose, place himself in a position to obey his own laws, nothing could show in a more striking manner their importance in his view. The highest honour that has been shown to the law of God on earth was, that it was perfectly observed by him who made the law —the great Mediator.

Unto death. He obeyed even when obedience terminated in death. The point of this expression is this:—One may readily and cheerfully obey another where there is no particular peril. But the case is different where obedience is attended with danger. The child shows a spirit of true obedience when he yields to the commands of a father, though it should expose him to hazard; the servant who obeys his master, when obedience is attended with risk of life; the soldier when he is morally certain that to obey will be followed by death. Thus many a company or platoon has been ordered into the "deadly breach," or directed to storm a redoubt, or to scale a wall, or to face a cannon, when it was morally certain that death would be the consequence. No profounder spirit of obedience can be evinced than this. It should be said, however, that the obedience of the soldier is in many cases scarcely voluntary, since, if he did not obey, death would be the penalty. But in the case of the Redeemer it was wholly voluntary, he placed himself in the condition of a servant to do the will of God, and then never shrank from what that condition involved.

Even the death of the cross. It was not such a death as a servant might incur by crossing a stream, or by falling among robbers, or by being worn out by toil; it was not such as the soldier meets when he is suddenly cut down covered with glory as he fails; it was the long, lingering, painful, humiliating death of the cross. Many a one might be willing to obey if the death that was suffered was regarded as glorious; but when it is ignominious, and of the most degrading character, and the most torturing that human ingenuity can invent, then the whole character of the obedience is changed. Yet this was the obedience the Lord Jesus evinced; and it was in this way that his remarkable readiness to suffer was shown.

{++} "as a man" "And being in condition truly man"

{c} "obedient" Heb 12:12


Verse 9. Wherefore. As a reward of this humiliation and these sufferings. The idea is, that there was an appropriate reward for it, and that that was bestowed upon him by his exaltation as Mediator to the right hand of God. See Barnes "Heb 2:9".

God also hath highly exalted him. As Mediator. Though he was thus humbled, and appeared in the form of a servant, he is now raised up to the throne of glory, and to universal dominion. This exaltation is spoken of the Redeemer as he was, sustaining a Divine and a human nature. If there was, as has been supposed, some obscuration or withdrawing of the symbols of his glory Php 2:7 when he became a man, then this refers to the restoration of that glory, and would seem to imply, also, that there was additional honour conferred on him. There was all the augmented glory resulting from the work which he had performed in redeeming man.

And given him a name which is above every name. No other name can be compared with his. It stands alone. He only is Redeemer, Saviour. He only is Christ, the Anointed of God. See Barnes "Heb 1:4".

He only is the Son of God. His rank, his titles, his dignity, are above all others. See this illustrated See Barnes "Eph 1:20, See Barnes "Eph 1:21".

{a} "God" Heb 2:9; Re 3:21


Verse 10. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. The knee should bow, or bend, in token of honour, or worship; that is, all men should adore him. This cannot mean merely that at the mention of the name of Jesus we should bow; nor is there any evidence that God requires this. Why should we bow at the mention of that name, rather than at any of the other titles of the Redeemer? Is there any special sacredness or honour in it above the other names which he bears? And why should we bow at his name rather than at the name of the Father? Besides, if any special homage is to be paid to the name of the Saviour under the authority of this passage—and this is the only one on which the authority of this custom is based—it should be by bowing the knee, not the "head." But the truth is, this authorizes and requires neither; and the custom of bowing at the name of Jesus, in some churches, has arisen entirely from a misinterpretation of this passage. There is no other place in the Bible to which an appeal is made to authorize the custom. Comp. Neal's History of the Puritans, chap. 5. Ninth. 5. The meaning here is, not that a special act of respect or adoration should be shown wherever the name "Jesus" occurs in reading the Scriptures, or whenever it is mentioned, but that he was so exalted that it would be proper that all in heaven and on earth should worship him, and that the time would come when he would be thus everywhere acknowledged as Lord. The bowing of the knee properly expresses homage, respect, adoration, See Barnes "Ro 11:4" and it cannot be done to the Saviour by those who are in heaven, unless he be Divine.

Of things in heaven. Epouraniwn —rather, of beings in heaven, the word "things" being improperly supplied by our translators. The word may be in the neuter plural; but it may be also in the masculine plural, and denote beings rather than things. Things do not bow the knee; and the reference here is undoubtedly to angels, and to the "spirits of the just made perfect" in heaven. If Jesus is worshipped there, he is divine; for there is no idolatry of a creature in heaven. In this whole passage there is probably an allusion to Isa 45:23. See it illustrated See Barnes "Ro 14:11".

In the great divisions here specified—of those in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth—the apostle intends, doubtless, to denote the universe. The same mode of designating the universe occurs in Re 5:13; Ex 20:4; Ps 96:11,12.

This mode of expression is equivalent to saying, "all that is above, around, and beneath us," and arises from what appears to us. The division is natural and obvious- that which is above us in the heavens, that which is on the earth where we dwell, and all that is beneath us.

And things in earth. Rather, "beings on earth," to wit, men; for they only are capable of rendering homage.

And things under the earth. Beings under the earth. The whole universe shall confess that he is Lord. This embraces, doubtless, those who have departed from this life, and perhaps includes also fallen angels. The meaning is, that they shall all acknowledge him as universal Lord; all bow to his sovereign will; all be subject to his control; all recognise him as divine. The fallen and the lost will do this; for they will be constrained to yield an unwilling homage to him by submitting to the sentence from his lips that shall consign them to woe; and thus the whole universe shall acknowledge the exalted dignity of the Son of God. But this does not mean that they will all be saved, for the guilty and the lost may be compelled to acknowledge his power, and submit to his decree as the sovereign of the universe. There is the free and cheerful homage of the heart which they who worship him in heaven will render; and there is the constrained homage which they must yield who are compelled to acknowledge his authority.

{*} "at the name" "In"


Verse 11. And that every tongue should confess. Every one should acknowledge him. On the duty and importance of confessing Christ, See Barnes "Ro 10:9, See Barnes "Ro 10:10".

That Jesus Christ is Lord. The word Lord, here, is used in its primitive and proper sense, as denoting owner, ruler, sovereign. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 14:9".

The meaning is, that all should acknowledge him as the universal sovereign.

To the glory of God the Father. Such a universal confession would honour God. See Barnes "Joh 5:23, where this sentiment is explained.

{c} "to the glory" Joh 13:13; Ro 14:9


Verse 12. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed. The Philippians had from the beginning manifested a remarkable readiness to show respect to the apostle, and to listen to his teaching. This readiness he more than once refers to and commends. He still appeals to them, and urges them to follow his counsels, that they might secure their salvation.

Now much more in my absence. Though they had been obedient when he was with them, yet circumstances had occurred in his absence which made their obedience more remarkable, and more worthy of special commendation.

Work out your own salvation. This important command was first addressed to Christians, but there is no reason why the same command should not be regarded as addressed to all—for it is equally applicable to all. The duty of doing this is enjoined here; the reason, for making the effort, or the encouragement for the effort, is stated in the next verse. In regard to the command here, it is natural to inquire why it is a duty, and what is necessary to be done in order to comply with it? On the first of these inquiries, it may be observed that it is a duty to make a personal effort to secure salvation, or to work out our salvation:

(1.) Because God commands it. There is no command more frequently repeated in the Scriptures, than the command to make to ourselves a new heart; to strive to enter in at the strait gate; to break off from sin, and to repent.

(2.) It is a duty because it is our own personal interest that is at stake. No other one has, or can have, as much interest in our salvation as we have. It is every man's duty to be as happy as possible here, and to be prepared for eternal happiness in the future world. No man has a right either to throw away his life or his soul. He has no more right to do the one than the other; and if it is a man's duty to endeavour to save his life when in danger of drowning, it is no less his duty to endeavour to save his soul when in danger of hell.

(3.) Our earthly friends cannot save us. No effort of theirs can deliver us from eternal death without our own exertion. Great as may be their solicitude for us, and much as they may do, there is a point where their efforts must stop—and that point is always short of our salvation, unless we are roused to seek salvation. They may pray, and weep, and plead, but they cannot save us. There is a work to be done on our own hearts which they cannot do.

(4.) It is a duty, because the salvation of the soul will not take care of itself without an effort on our part. There is no more reason to suppose this than that health and life will take care of themselves without our own exertion. And yet many live as if they supposed that somehow all would yet be well; that the matter of salvation need not give them any concern, for that things will so arrange themselves that they will be saved. Why should they suppose this any more in regard to religion than in regard to anything else?

(5.) It is a duty, because there is no reason to expect the Divine interposition without our own effort. No such interposition is promised to any man, and why should he expect it? In the case of all who have been saved, they have made an effort—and why should we expect that God will favour us more than he did them? "God helps them who help themselves;" and what reason has any man to suppose that he will interfere in his case and save him, if he will put forth no effort to "work out his own salvation?" In regard to the other inquiry —What does the command imply; or what is necessary to be done in order to comply with it?—we may observe, that it does not mean

(1.) that we are to attempt to deserve salvation on the ground of merit. That is out of the question; for what can man do that shall be an equivalent for eternal happiness in heaven? Nor

(2.) does it mean that we are to endeavour to make atonement for past sins. That would be equally impossible—and it is, besides, unnecessary. That work has been done by the great Redeemer. But it means,

(1.) that we are to make an honest effort to be saved in the way which God has appointed;

(2.) that we are to break off from our sins by true repentance;

(3.) that we are to believe in the Saviour and honestly to put our trust in him;

(4.) that we are to give up all that we have to God;

(5.) that we are to break away from all evil companions and evil plans of life; and

(6.) that we are to resist all the allurements of the world, and all the temptations which may assault us that would lead us back from God, and are to persevere unto the end. The great difficulty in working out salvation is in forming a purpose to begin at once. When that purpose is formed, salvation is easy.

With fear and trembling. That is, with that kind of anxiety which one has who feels that he has an important interest at stake, and that he is in danger of losing it. The reason or the ground for "fear" in this case is in general this: there is danger of losing the soul.

(1.) So many persons make ship wreck of all hope and perish, that there is danger that we may also.

(2.) There are so many temptations and allurements in the world, and so many things that lead us to defer attention to religion, that there is danger that we may be lost.

(3.) There is danger that if the present opportunity passes, another may not occur. Death may soon overtake us. No one has a moment to lose. No one can designate one single moment of his life, and say, "I may safely lose that moment. I may safely spend it in the neglect of my soul."

(4.) It should be done with the most earnest concern, from the immensity of the interest at stake. If the soul is lost, all is lost. And who is there that can estimate the value of that soul which is thus in danger of being lost for ever?

{a} "work out" Pr 10:16; Joh 6:27-29; Heb 4:11; 2 Pe 1:5-10


Verse 13. For it is God that worketh in you. This is given as a reason for making an effort to be saved, or for working out our salvation. It is often thought to be the very reverse, and men often feel that if God works "in us to will and to do," there can be no need of our making an effort, and that there would be no use in it. If God does all the work, say they, why should we not patiently sit still, and wait until he puts forth his power, and accomplishes in us what he wills? It is of importance, therefore, to understand what this declaration of the apostle means, in order to see whether this objection is valid, or whether the fact that God "works in us" is to be regarded as a reason why we should make no effort. The word rendered worketh—energwn—working—is from a verb meaning to work, to be active, to produce effect—and is that from which we have derived the word energetic. The meaning is, that God produces a certain effect in us; he exerts such an influence over us as to lead to a certain result in our minds—to wit, "to will and to do." Nothing is said of the mode in which this is done, and probably this cannot be understood by us here. Comp. Joh 3:8. In regard to the Divine agency here referred to, however, certain things, though of a negative character, are clear. It is not God who acts for us. He leads us to "will and to do". It is not said that he wills and does for us, and it cannot be. It is man that "wills and does"—though God so influences him that he does it.

(2.) He does not compel or force us against our will. He leads us to "will" as well as to do. The will cannot be forced; and the meaning here must be that God exerts such an influence as to make us willing to obey him. Comp. Ps 110:3.

(3.) It is not a physical force, but it must be a moral influence. A physical power cannot act on the will. You may chain a man, incarcerate him in the deepest dungeon, starve him, scourge him, apply red-hot pincers to his flesh, or place on him the thumb-screw, but the will is still free. You cannot bend that, or control it, or make him believe otherwise than as he chooses to believe. The declaration here, therefore, cannot mean that God compels us, or that we are anything else but free agents still, though he "works in us to will and to do." It must mean merely that he exerts such an influence as to secure this result.

To will and to do of his good pleasure. Not to will and to do everything, but his "good pleasure." The extent of the Divine agency here referred to is limited to that, and no man should adduce this passage to prove that God "works" in him to lead him to commit sin. This passage teaches no such doctrine. It refers here to Christians, and means that he works in their hearts that which is agreeable to him, or leads them to "will and to do" that which is in accordance with his own will. The word rendered "good pleasure"— eudokia— means delight, good-will, favour; then good pleasure, purpose, will. See Eph 1:5; 2 Th 1:11. Here it means that which would be agreeable to him; and the idea is, that he exerts such an influence as to lead men to will and to do that which is in accordance with his will. Paul regarded this fact as a reason why we should work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It is with that view that he urges it, and not with any idea that it will embarrass our efforts, or be a hinderance to us in seeking salvation. The question then is, how this fact can be a motive to us to make an effort? In regard to this we may observe,

(1.) that the work of our salvation is such that we need help, and such help as God only can impart. We need it to enable us to overcome our sins; to give us such a view of them as to produce true penitence; to break away from our evil companions; to give up our plans of evil, and to resolve to lead different lives. We need help that our minds may be enlightened; that we may be led in the way of truth; that we may be saved from the danger of error, and that we may not be suffered to fall back into the ways of transgression. Such help we should welcome from any quarter; and any assistance furnished on these points will not interfere with our freedom.

(2.) The influence which God exerts on the mind is in the way of help or aid. What he does will not embarrass or hinder us. It will prevent no effort which we make to be saved; it will throw no hinderance or obstacle in the way. When we speak of God's working "in us to will and to do," men often seem to suppose that his agency will hinder us, or throw some obstacle in our way, or exert some evil influence on our minds, or make it more difficult for us to work out our salvation than it would be without his agency. But this cannot be. We may be sure that all the influence which God exerts over our minds will be to aid us in the work of salvation, not to embarrass us; will be to enable us to overcome our spiritual enemies and our sins, and not to put additional weapons into their hands, or to confer on them new power. Why should men ever dread the influence of God on their hearts, as if he would hinder their efforts for their own good?

(3.) The fact that God works is an encouragement for us to work. When a man is about to set out a peach or all apple tree, it is an encouragement for him to reflect that the agency of God is around him, and that he can cause the tree to produce blossoms, and leaves, and fruit. When he is about to plough and sow his farm, it is an encouragement, not a hinderance, to reflect that God works, and that he can quicken the grain that is sown, and produce an abundant harvest. What encouragement of a higher order can man ask? And what farmer is afraid of the agency of God in the case, or supposes that the fact that God exerts an agency is a reason why he should not plough and plant his field, or set out his orchard? Poor encouragement would a man have in these things if God did not exert any agency in the world, and could not be expected to make the tree grow, or to cause the grain to spring up; and equally poor would be all the encouragement in religion without his aid.

{c} "God which" Heb 13:21


Verse 14. Do all things without murmurings and disputings. In a quiet, peaceful, inoffensive manner. Let there be no brawls, strifes, or contentions. The object of the apostle here is, probably, to illustrate the sentiment which he had expressed in Php 2:3-5, where he had inculcated the general duties of humbleness of mind, and of esteeming others better than themselves. In order that that spirit might be fully manifested, he now enjoins the duty of doing every thing in a quiet and gentle manner, and of avoiding any species of strife. See Barnes "Eph 4:31, See Barnes "Eph 4:32".

{a} "murmurings" 1 Co 10:10

{b} "disputings" Ro 14:1


Verse 15. That ye may be blameless. That you may give no occasion for others to accuse you of having done wrong.

And harmless. Marg., sincere. The Greek word (akeraiov) means, properly, that which is unmixed; and then pure, sincere. The idea here is, that they should be artless, simple, without guile. Then they would injure no one. The word occurs only in Mt 10:16; Php 2:15, where it is rendered harmless, and Ro 16:19, where it is rendered simple. See Barnes "Mt 10:16, See Barnes "Ro 16:19".

The sons of God. The children of God—a phrase by which true Christians were denoted. See Barnes "Mt 5:46" See Barnes "Eph 5:1".

Without rebuke. Without blame; without giving occasion for any one to complain of you.

In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. Among those of perverted sentiments and habits; those who are disposed to complain and find fault; those who will take every occasion to pervert what you do and say, and who seek every opportunity to retard the cause of truth and righteousness. It is not certainly known to whom the apostle refers here, but it seems not improbable that he had particular reference to the Jews who were in Philippi. The language here used was employed by Moses De 32:6 as applicable to the Jewish people, and it is accurately descriptive of the character of the nation in the time of Paul. The Jews were among the most bitter foes of the gospel, and did perhaps more than any other people to embarrass the cause of truth, and prevent the spread of the true religion.

Among whom ye shine. Marg., "Or, shine ye." The Greek will admit of either construction, and expositors have differed as to the correct interpretation. Rosenmuller, Doddridge, and others, regard it as imperative, and as designed to enforce on them the duty of letting their light shine. Erasmus says it is doubtful whether it is to be understood in the indicative or imperative. Grotius, Koppe, Bloomfield, and others, regard it as in the indicative, and as teaching that they did, in fact, shine as lights in the world. The sense can be determined only by the connexion; and, in regard to it, different readers will form different opinions. It seems to me that the connexion seems rather to require the sense of duty or obligation to be understood. The apostle is enforcing on them the duty of being blameless and harmless; of holding forth the word of life; and it is in accordance with his design to remind them that they ought to be lights to those around them.

As lights in the world. The comparison of Christians with light often occurs in the Scriptures. See Barnes "Mt 5:14, See Barnes "Mt 5:16".

The image here is not improbably taken from lighthouses on a sea-coast. The image then is, that as those lighthouses are placed on a dangerous coast to apprize vessels of their peril, and to save them from shipwreck, so the light of Christian piety shines on a dark world, and in the dangers of the voyage which we are making. See the Note of Burder, in Rosenmuller, Alt. u. neu. Morgenland, in loc.

{1} "harmless" "sincere"

{c} "sons of God" Mt 5:45; Eph 5:1

{*} "rebuke" "reproach"

{d} "crooked and perverse" De 32:5

{2} "ye shine" "shine ye"

{e} "lights in the world" Mt 5:14,16


Verse 16. Holding forth the word of life. That is, you are under obligation to hold forth the word of life. It is a duty incumbent on you as Christians to do it. The "word of life" means the gospel, called the "word of life" because it is the message that promises life; or perhaps this is a Hebraism, denoting the living, or life giving word. The gospel stands thus in contrast with all human systems of religions for they have no efficacy to save—and to the law which "killeth." See Barnes "Joh 6:63" See Barnes "2 Co 3:6".

The duty here enjoined is that of making the gospel known to others, and of thus keeping up the knowledge of it in the world. This duty rests on Christians, Mt 5:14,16, and they cannot escape from the obligation. They axe bound to do this, not only because God commands it, but

(1.) because they are called into the church that they may be witnesses for God, Isa 43:10.

(2.) Because they are kept on the earth for that purpose. If it were not for some such design, they would be removed to heaven at once on their conversion.

(3.) Because there are no others to do it. The gay will not warn the gay, nor the proud the proud, nor the scoffer the scoffer. The thoughtless and the vain will not go and tell others that there is a God and a Saviour; nor will the wicked warn the wicked, and tell them that they are in the way to hell. There are none whothis but Christians; and, if they neglect it, sinners will go unwarned and unalarmed down to death. This duty rests on every Christianto the mass of communicants. They are to shine as lights in the world; they are to hold forth the word of life. There is not one member of a church who is so obscure as to be exempt from the obligation; and there is not one who may not do something in this work. If we are asked how this may be done, we may reply,

(1.) they are to do it by example. Every one is to hold forth the living word in that way.

(2.) By efforts to send the gospel to those who have it not. There is almost no one who cannot contribute something, though it may be but two mites, to accomplish this.

(3.) By conversation. There is no Christian who has not some influence over the minds and hearts of others; and he is bound to use that influence in holding forth the word of life.

(4.) By defending the Divine origin of religion when attacked.

(5.) By rebuking sin, and thus testifying to the value of holiness. The defence of the truth, under God, and the diffusion of a knowledge of the way of salvation, rests on those who are Christians. Paganism never originates a system which it would not be an advantage to the world to have destroyed as soon as it is conceived. Philosophy has never yet told of a way by which a sinner may be saved. The world at large devises no plan for the salvation of the soul. The most crude, ill-digested, and perverse systems of belief conceivable, prevail in the community called "the world." Every form of opinion has an advocate there; every monstrous vagary that the human mind ever conceived finds friends and defenders there. The human mind has of itself no elastic energy to bring it from the ways of sin; it has no recuperative power to lead it back to God. The world at large is dependant on the church for any just views of God, and of the way of salvation; and every Christian is to do his part in making that salvation known.

That I may rejoice. This was one reason which the apostle urged, and which it was proper to urge, why they should let their light shine. He had been the instrument of their conversion, he had founded their church, he was their spiritual father, and had shown the deepest interest in their welfare; and he now entreats them, as a means of promoting his highest joy, to be faithful and holy. The exemplary piety and holy lives of the members of a church will be one of the sources of highest joy to a pastor in the day of judgment. Comp. 3 Jo 1:4.

In the day of Christ. The day when Christ shall appear—the day of judgment. It is called the day of Christ because he will be the glorious object which will be prominent on that day; it will be the day in which he will be honoured as the Judge of all the world.

That I have not run in vain. That is, that I have not lived in vain—life being compared with a race. See Barnes "1 Co 9:26".

Neither laboured in vain. In preaching the gospel. Their holy lives would be the fullest proof that he was a faithful preacher.

{f} "neither laboured" 1 Co 9:26


Verse 17. Yea, and if I be offered. Marg., poured forth. The mention of his labours in their behalf, in the previous verse, seems to have suggested to him the sufferings which he was likely yet to endure on their account. He had laboured for their salvation. He had exposed himself to peril that they and others might have the gospel. On their account he had suffered much; he had been made a prisoner at Rome; and there was a possibility, if not a probability, that his life might be a forfeit for his labours in their behalf. Yet he says that, even ff this should happen, he would not regret it, but it would be a source of joy. The word which is here used— spendomai properly means, to pour out, to make a libation; and is commonly used, in the classic writers, in connexion with sacrifices. It refers to a drink-offering, where one who was about to offer a sacrifice, or to present a drink-offering to the gods, before he tasted of it himself, poured out a part of it on the altar. Passow. It is used also to denote the fact, that, when an animal was about to be slain in sacrifice, wine was poured on it as a solemn act of devoting it to God. Comp. Nu 15:6; 28:7,14.

In like manner, Paul may have regarded himself as a victim prepared for the sacrifice. In the New Testament it is found only in this place, and in 2 Ti 4:6, where it is rendered, "I am ready to be offered." See Barnes "2 Ti 4:6".

It does not here mean that Paul really expected to be a sacrifice, or to make an expiation for sin by his death; but that he might be called to pour out his blood, or to offer up his life as if he were a sacrifice, or an offering to God. We have a similar use of language, when we say that a man sacrifices himself for his friends or his country.

Upon the sacrifice. epi th yusia. The word here rendered sacrifice means,

(1.) the act of sacrificing;

(2.) the victim that is offered; and

(3.) any oblation or offering. Robinson, Lex. Here it must be used in the latter sense, and is connected with "faith"—" the sacrifice of your faith." The reference is probably to the faith, that is, the religion of the Philippians, regarded as a sacrifice or an offering to God; the worship which they rendered to him. The idea of Paul is, that if, in order to render that offering what it should hereto make it as complete and acceptable to God as possible—it were necessary for him to die, pouring out his blood, and strength, and life, as wine was poured out to prepare a sacrifice for the altar and make it complete, he would not refuse to do it, but would rejoice in the opportunity. He seems to have regarded them as engaged in making an offering of faith, and as endeavouring to make the offering complete and acceptable; and says that if his death were necessary to make their piety of the highest and most acceptable kind, he was ready to die.

And service, leitourgia —a word taken from an act of worship, or public service, and especially the ministry of those engaged in offering sacrifices, Lu 1:23; Heb 7:6. Here it means, the ministering or service which the Philippians rendered to God; the worship which they offered, the essential element of which was faith. Paul was willing to endure anything, even to suffer death in their cause, if it would tend to make their "service" more pure, spiritual, and acceptable to God. The meaning of the whole is,

(1.) that the sufferings and dangers which he now experienced were in their cause, and on their behalf; and

(2.) that he was willing to lay down his life, if their piety would be promoted, and their worship be rendered more pure and acceptable to God.

I joy. That is, I am not afraid of death; and if my dying can be the means of promoting your piety, it will be a source of rejoicing. Comp. See Barnes "Php 1:23".

And rejoice with you all. My joy will be increased in anything that promotes yours. The fruits of my death will reach and benefit you, and it will be a source of mutual congratulation.

{3} "offered" "poured forth"

{g} "upon the sacrifice" 1 Co 9:26


Verse 18. For the same came. Because we are united, and what affects one of us should affect both.

Do ye joy and rejoice with me. That is, "Do not grieve at my death. Be not overwhelmed with sorrow, but let your hearts be filled with congratulation. It will be a privilege and a pleasure thus to die." This is a noble sentiment, and one that could have been uttered only by a heroic and generous mind—by a man who did not dread death, and who felt that it was honourable thus to die. Doddridge has illustrated the sentiment by an appropriate reference to a fact stated by Plutarch. A brave Athenian returned from the battle of Marathon, bleeding with wounds and exhausted, and rushed into the presence of the magistrates, and uttered only these two words, cairete, cairomen —"rejoice, we rejoice"—and immediately expired. So Paul felt that there was occasion for him, and for all whom he loved, to rejoice, if he was permitted to die in the cause of others, and in such a manner that his death would benefit the world.


Verse 19. But I trust in the Lord Jesus. His hope was that the Lord Jesus would so order affairs as to permit this—an expression that no man could use who did not regard the Lord Jesus as on the throne, and as more than human.

To send Timotheus shortly unto you. There was a special reason why Paul desired to send Timothy to them rather than another person, which he himself states, Php 2:22, "Ye know the proof of him, that as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel." From this passage, as well as from Php 1:1, where Timothy is joined with Paul in the salutation, it is evident that he had been with the apostle at Philippi. But this fact is nowhere mentioned in the sixteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which contains an account of the visit of Paul to that place. The narrative in the Acts, however, as Dr. Paley has re- marked, Horae Paulinae, in loc., is such as to render this altogether probable; and the manner in which the fact is adverted to here is such as would have occurred to no one forging an epistle like this, and shows that the Acts of the Apostles and the epistle are independent books, and are not the work of imposture. In the Acts of the Apostles it is said that when Paul came to Derbe and Lystra he found a certain disciple named Timothy, whom he would have go forth with him, Ac 16:1-3. The narrative then proceeds with an account of the progress of Paul through various provinces of Asia Minor, till it brings him to Troas. There he was warned in a vision to go over into Macedonia. In pursuance of this call, he passed over the AEgean Sea, came to Samothracia, and thence to Neapolis, and thence to Philippi. No mention is made, indeed, of Timothy as being with Paul at Philippi; but after he had left that city, and had gone to Berea, where the "brethren sent away Paul," it is added, "but Silas and Timotheus abode there still." From this it is evident that he had accompanied them in their journey, and had no doubt been with them at Philippi. For the argument which Dr. Paley has derived from the manner in which this subject is mentioned in the Acts, and in this epistle, in favour of the genuineness of the Scripture account, see Horae Paul on the epistle to the Philippians, No. iv.

When I know your state. It was a considerable time since Epaphroditus had left the Philippians, and since, therefore, Paul had been informed of their condition.

{1} "But I trust" "Moreover"

{a} "Timotheus" 1 Th 3:2

{*} "state" "affairs"


Verse 20. For I have no man like-minded, Marg., so dear unto me. The Greek is, isoqucon similar in mind, or like-minded. The meaning is, that there was no one with him who would feel so deep an interest in their welfare.

Who will naturally care. The word rendered naturally gnhsiwvmeans sincerely; and the idea is, that he would regard their interests with a sincere tenderness and concern. He might be depended on to enter heartily into their concerns. This arose, doubtless, from the fact that he had been with them when the church was founded there, and that he felt a deeper interest in what related to the apostle Paul than any other man. Paul regarded Timothy as a son, and his sending him on such an occasion would evince the feelings of a father who should send a beloved son on an important message.

{2} "like minded" "so dear unto me"

{*} "state" "affairs"


Verse 21. For all seek their own. That is, all who are with me. Who Paul had with him at this time is not fully known, but he doubtless means that this remark should apply to the mass of Christians and Christian ministers then in Rome. Perhaps he had proposed to some of them to go and visit the church at Philippi, and they had declined it because of the distance and the dangers of the way. When the trial of Paul came on before the emperor, all who were with him in Rome fled from him, 2 Ti 4:16; and it is possible that the same disregard of his wishes and his welfare had already begun to manifest itself among the Christians who were at Rome, so that he was constrained to say that, as a general thing, they sought their own ease and comfort, and were unwilling to deny themselves in order to promote the happiness of those who lived in the remote parts of the world. Let us not be harsh in judging them. How many professing Christians in our cities and towns are there now who would be willing to leave their business and their comfortable homes, and go on an embassy like this to Philippi? How many are there who would not seek some excuse, and show that it was a characteristic that they "sought their own" rather than the things which pertained to the kingdom of Jesus Christ?

Not the things which are Jesus Christ's. Which pertain to his cause and kingdom. They are not willing to practise self-denial in order to promote that cause. It is implied here,

(1.) that it is the duty of those who profess religion to seek the things which pertain to the kingdom of the Redeemer, or to make that the great and leading object of their lives. They are bound to be willing to sacrifice "their own" things—to deny themselves of ease, and to be always ready to expose themselves to peril and want if they may be the means of advancing his cause.

(2.) That frequently this is not done by those who profess religion. It was the case with the professed Christians at Rome, and it is often the case in the churches now. There are few Christians who deny themselves much to promote the kingdom of the Redeemer; few who are willing to lay aside what they regard as "their own" in order to advance his cause. Men live for their own ease; for their families; for the prosecution of their own business—as if a Christian could have anything which he has a right to pursue independently of the kingdom of the Redeemer, and without regard to his will and glory.

{b} "not the things" 2 Ti 3:2


Verse 22. But ye know the proof of him. You have had evidence among yourselves how faithfully Timothy devoted himself to the promotion of the gospel, and how constantly he served with me. This proves that Timothy was with Paul when he was at Philippi.

As a son with the father. Manifesting the same spirit towards me which a son does towards a father, and evincing the same interest in my work. He did all he could do to aid me, and lighten my labours and sufferings.


Verse 23. So soon as I shall see how it will go with me. Paul was a prisoner at Rome, and there was not a little uncertainty whether he would be condemned or acquitted. He was, it is commonly supposed, in fact released on the first trial, 2 Ti 4:16. He now felt that he would soon be able to send Timothy to them at any rate. If he was condemned and put to death, he would, of course, have no further occasion for his services; and if he were released from his present troubles and dangers, he could spare him for a season to go and visit the churches.

{*} "with me" "See through my own affairs"


Verse 24. But I trust in the Lord, etc. See Barnes "Php 1:25".


Verse 25. Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus is nowhere else mentioned but in this epistle. See Php 4:18. All that is known of him, therefore, is what is mentioned here. He was from Philippi, and was a member of the church there. He had been employed by the Philippians to carry relief to Paul when he was in Rome, Php 4:18, and while in Rome he was taken dangerously sick. News of this had been conveyed to Philippi, and again intelligence had been brought to him that they had heard of his sickness, and that they were much affected by it. On his recovery, Paul thought it best that he should return at once to Philippi, and doubtless sent this epistle by him. He is much commended by Paul for his faithfulness and zeal.

My brother. In the gospel; or brother Christian. These expressions of affectionate regard must have been highly gratifying to the Philippians.

And companion in labour. It is not impossible that he may have laboured with Paul in the gospel at Philippi; but more probably the sense is, that he regarded him as engaged in the same great work that he was. It is not probable that he assisted Paul much in Rome, as he appears to have been sick during a considerable part of the time he was there.

And fellow-soldier. Christians and Christian ministers are compared with soldiers, Phm 1:2; 2 Ti 2:3,4, because of the nature of the service in which they are engaged. The Christian life is a warfare; there are many foes to be overcome; the period which they are to serve is fixed by the Great Captain of salvation, and they will soon be permitted to enjoy the triumphs of victory. Paul regarded himself as enlisted to make war on all the spiritual enemies of the Redeemer, and he esteemed Epaphroditus as one who had shown that he was worthy to be engaged in so good a cause.

But your messenger. Sent to convey supplies to Paul, Php 4:18. The original is, "your apostle"—umwn de apostolon—and some have proposed to take this literally, meaning that he was the apostle of the church at Philippi, or that he was their bishop. The advocates for Episcopacy have been the rather inclined to this, because in Php 1:1, there are but two orders of ministers mentioned— "bishops and deacons"—from which they have supposed that "the bishop" might have been absent, and that "the bishop" was probably this Epaphroditus. But against this supposition the objections are obvious.

(1.) The word apostolon means, properly, one sent forth, a messenger, and it is uniformly used in this sense unless there is something in the connexion to limit it to an apostle, technically so called.

(2.) The supposition that it here means a messenger meets all the circumstances of the case, and describes exactly what Epaphroditus did. He was, in fact, sent as a messenger to Paul, Php 4:18.

(3.) He was not an apostle, in the proper sense of the term —the apostles having been chosen to be witnesses of the life, the teachings, the death, and the resurrection of the Saviour. See Ac 1:22. See Barnes "1 Co 9:1".

(4.) If he had been an apostle, it is altogether improbable that he would have been sent on an errand comparatively so humble as that of carrying supplies to Paul. Was there no one else who could do this, without sending their bishop? Would a diocese be likely to employ a "bishop" for such a purpose now?

And he that ministered to my wants. Php 4:18.

{b} "my brother" Php 4:18

{c} "your messenger" Phm 1:2


Verse 26. For he longed after you all. He was desirous to see you all, and to relieve your anxiety in regard to his safety.

{+} "heaviness" "was uneasy"


Verse 27. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death. Dr. Paley has remarked (Hor. Paul. on Phil. No. ii.) that the account of the sickness and recovery of Epaphroditus is such as to lead us to suppose that he was not restored by miracle; and he infers that the power of healing the sick was conferred on the apostles only occasionally, and did not depend at all on their will, since, if it had, there is every reason to suppose that Paul would at once have restored him to health. This account, he adds, shows also that this epistle is not the work of an impostor. Had it been, a miracle would not have been spared. Paul would not have been introduced as showing such anxiety about a friend lying at the point of death, and as being unable to restore him. It would have been said that he interposed at once, and raised him up to health.

But God had mercy on him. By restoring him to health, evidently not by miracle, but by the use of ordinary means.

On me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. In addition to all the sorrows of imprisonment, and the prospect of a trial, and the want of friends. The sources of his sorrow, had Epaphroditus died, would have been such as these:

(1.) He would have lost a valued friend, and one whom he esteemed as a brother and worthy fellow-labourer.

(2.) He would have felt that the church at Philippi had lost a valuable member.

(3.) His grief might have been aggravated from the consideration that his life had been lost in endeavouring to do him good. He would have felt that he was the occasion, though innocent, of his exposure to danger.


Verse 28. I sent him therefore the more carefully. With more diligence, or speed; I was the more ready to send him.

That I may be the less sorrowful. That is, on account of my solicitude for you; that I may know that your minds are at ease, and that you rejoice in his being among you.

{++} "carefully" "speedily"


Verse 29. Receive him therefore in the Lord. As the servant of the Lord, or as now restored to you by the Lord, and therefore to be regarded as a fresh gift from God. Our friends, restored to us after a long absence, we should receive as the gift of God, and as a proof of his mercy.

And hold such in reputation. Marg., honour such. This is a high commendation of Epaphroditus, and, at the same time, it enjoins an important duty in regard to the proper treatment of those who sustain such a character. It is a Christian duty to honour those who ought to be honoured, to respect the virtuous and the pious, and especially to honour those who evince fidelity in the work of the Lord.

{1} "hold such" "honour such"


Verse 30. Because for the work of Christ. That is, either by exposing himself in his journey to see the apostle in Rome, or by his labours there.

Not regarding his life. There is a difference in the Mss. here, so great that it is impossible now to determine which is the true reading, though the sense is not materially affected. The common reading of the Greek text is, parabouleusamenov; literally, misconsulting, not consulting carefully, not taking pains. The other reading is, paraboleusamenov; exposing one's self to danger, regardless of life. See the authorities for this reading in Wetstein. Comp. Bloomfield, in loc. This reading suits the connexion, and is generally regarded as the correct one.

To supply your lack of service toward me. Not that they had been indifferent to him, or inattentive to his wants, for he does not mean to blame them; but they had not had an opportunity to send to his relief, Php 4:10, and Epaphroditus therefore made a special journey to Rome on his account. He came and rendered to him the service which they could not do in person; and what the church would have done, if Paul had been among them, he performed in their name and on their behalf.

{d} "to supply" 1 Co 16:17

{&} "lack" "deficiency"


1. Let us learn to esteem others as they ought to be, Php 2:3. Every person who is virtuous and pious has some claim to esteem He has a reputation which is valuable to him and to the church, and we should not withhold respect from him. It is one evidence, also, of true humility and of right feeling, when we esteem them as better than ourselves, and when we are willing to see them honoured, and are willing to sacrifice our own ease to promote their welfare. It is one of the instinctive promptings of true humility to feel that other persons are better than we are.

2. We should not be disappointed or mortified if others think little of us—if we are not brought into prominent notice among men, Php 2:3. We profess to have a low opinion of ourselves, if we are Christians, and we ought to have; and why should we be chagrined and mortified if others have the same opinion of us? Why should we not be willing that they should accord in judgment with us in regard to ourselves?

3. We should be willing to occupy our appropriate place in the church, Php 2:3. That is true humility; and why should any one be unwilling to be esteemed just as he ought to be? Pride makes us miserable, and is the grand thing that stands in the way of the influence of the gospel on our hearts. No one can become a Christian who is not willing to occupy just the place which he ought to occupy; to take the lowly position as a penitent which he ought to take; and to have God regard and treat him just as he ought to be treated. The first, second, and third thing in religion is humility; and no one ever becomes a Christian who is not willing to take the lowly condition of a child.

4. We should feel a deep interest in the welfare of others, Php 2:4. Men are by nature selfish, and it is the design of religion to make them benevolent. They seek their own interests by nature, and the gospel would teach them to regard the welfare of others. If we are truly under the influence of religion, there is not a member of the church in whom we should not feel an interest, and whose welfare we should not strive to promote, as far as we have opportunity. And we may have opportunity every day. It is an easy matter to do good to others. A kind word, or even a kind look, does good; and who is so poor that he cannot render this? Every day that we live, we come in contact with some who may be benefited by our example, our advice, or our alms; and every day, therefore, may be closed with the feeling that we have not lived in vain.

5. Let us in all things look to the example of Christ, Php 2:5. He came that he might be an example; and he was exactly such an example as we need. We may be always sure that we are right when we follow his example, and possess his spirit. We cannot be so sure that we are right in any other way. He came to be our model in all things, and in all the relations of life.

(1.) He showed us what the law of God requires of us.

(2.) He showed us what we should aim to be, and what human nature would be if it were wholly under the influence of religion.

(3.) He showed us what true religion is, for it is just such as was seen in his life.

(4.) He showed us how to act in our treatment of mankind.

(5.) He showed us how to bear the ills of poverty, and want, and pain, and temptation, and reproach from the world. We should learn to manifest the same spirit in suffering which he did, for then we are sure we are right.

(6.) And he has showed us how to die. He has exhibited in death just the spirit which we should when we die; for it is not less desirable to die well than to live well.

6. It is right and proper to worship Christ, Php 2:6. He was in the form of God, and equal with God; and, being such, we should adore him. No one need be afraid to render too high honour to the Saviour; and all piety may be measured by the respect which is shown to him. Religion advances in the world just in proportion as men are disposed to render honour to the Redeemer; it becomes dim, and dies away, just in proportion as that honour is withheld.

7. Like the Redeemer, we should be willing to deny ourselves in order that we may promote the welfare of others, Php 2:6-8. We can never, indeed, equal his condescension. We can never stoop from such a state of dignity and honour as he did; but, in our measure, we should aim to imitate him. If we have comforts, we should be willing to deny ourselves of them to promote the happiness of others. If we occupy an elevated rank in life, we should be willing to stoop to one more humble. If we live in a palace, we should be willing to enter the most lowly cottage, if we can render its inmates happy.

8. Christ was obedient unto death, Php 2:8. Let us be obedient also, doing the will of God in all things. If in his service we are called to pass through trials, even those which will terminate in death, let us obey. He has a right to command us, and we have the example of the Saviour to sustain us. If he requires us, by his providence, and by the leadings of his Spirit, to forsake our country and home, to visit climes of pestilential air, or to traverse wastes of burning sand, to make his name known; if he demands that, in that service, we shall die far away from kindred and home, and that our bones shall be laid on the banks of the Senegal or the Ganges—still, let us remember that these sufferings are not equal to those of the Master. He was an exile from heaven, in a world of suffering. Our exile from our own land is not like that from heaven; nor will our sufferings, though in regions of pestilence and death, be like his sufferings in the garden and on the Cross.

9. Let us rejoice that we have a Saviour who has ascended to heaven, and who is to be for ever honoured there, Php 2:9-11. He is to suffer no more. He has endured the last pang; has passed through a state of humiliation and woe which he will never repeat; and has submitted to insults and mockeries to which it will not be necessary for him to submit again. When we now think of the Redeemer, we can think of him as always happy and honoured. There is no moment by day or by night in which he is not the object of adoration, love, and praise—nor will there ever be such a moment to all eternity. Our best friend is thus to be eternally reverenced, and in heaven he will receive a full reward for all his unparalleled woes.

10. Let us diligently endeavour to work out our salvation, Php 2:12,13. Nothing else so much demands our unceasing solicitude as this, and in nothing else have we so much encouragement. We are assured that God aids us in this work. He throws no obstructions in our path, but all that God does in the matter of salvation is in the way of help. He does not work in us evil passions, or impure desires, or unbelief; his agency is to enable us to perform "his good pleasure," or that which will please him—that is, that which is holy. The farmer is encouraged to plough and plant his fields when God works around him by sending the warm breezes of the spring, and by refreshing the earth with gentle dews and rains. And so we may be encouraged to seek our salvation when God works in our hearts, producing serious thoughts, and a feeling that we need the blessings of salvation.

11. Christians should let their light shine, Php 2:14-16. God has called them into his kingdom that they may show what is the nature and power of true religion. They are to illustrate in their lives the nature of that gospel which he has revealed, and to show its value in purifying the soul and in sustaining it in the time of trial. The world is dependent on Christians for just views of religion, and every day that a Christian lives he is doing something to honour or dishonour the gospel. Every word that he speaks, every expression of the eye, every cloud or beam of sunshine on his brow, will have some effect in doing this. He cannot live without making some impression upon the world around him, either favourable or unfavourable to the cause of his Redeemer.

12. We should be ready to die, if called to such a sacrifice, in behalf of the church of Christ, Php 2:17. We should rejoice in being permitted to suffer, that we may promote the welfare of others, and be the means of saving those for whom Christ died. It has been an honour to be a martyr in the cause of religion, and so it ever will be when God calls to such a sacrifice of life. If he calls us to it, therefore, we should not shrink from it, nor should we shrink from any sufferings by which we may honour the Saviour, and rescue souls from death.

13. Let us learn, from the interesting narrative respecting Epaphroditus at the close of this chapter, to live and act as becomes Christians in every situation in life, Php 2:25-30. It was much to have the praise of an apostle, and to be commended for his Christian conduct, as this stranger in Rome was. He went there, not to view the wonders of the imperial city, and not to run the rounds of giddy pleasure there, but to perform an important duty of religion. While there he became sick—not by indulgence in pleasures; not as the result of feasting and revelry, but in the work of Christ. In a strange city, far from home, amidst the rich, the great, the gay; in a place where theatres opened their doors, and where places of amusement abounded, he led a life which an apostle could commend as pure. There is nothing more difficult for a Christian than to maintain an irreproachable walk when away from the usual restraints and influences that serve to keep him in the paths of piety, and when surrounded with the fascinations and allurements of a great and wicked city. There strangers, extending the rites of hospitality, often invite the guest to places of amusement which the Christian would not visit were he at home. There the desire to see all that is to be seen, and to hear all that is to be heard, attracts him to the theatre, the opera, and the gallery of obscene and licentious statuary and painting. There the plea readily presents itself that an opportunity of witnessing these things may never occur again; that he is unknown, and that his example, therefore, can do no harm; that it is desirable, from personal observation, to know what is the condition of the world; or that perhaps his former views in these matters may have been precise and puritanical. To such considerations he yields; but yields only to regret it in future life. Rarely is such a thing done without its being in some way soon known; and rarely, very rarely, does a Christian minister or other member of the church travel much without injury to his piety, and to the cause of religion. A Christian man who is under a necessity of visiting Europe from this country, should feel that he has special need of the prayers of his friends, that he may not dishonour his religion abroad; he who is permitted to remain at home, and to cultivate the graces of piety in his own family, and in the quiet scenes where he has been accustomed to move, should regard it as a cause of special thankfulness to God.

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