RPM, Volume 18, Number 41, October 2 to October 8, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament
Explanatory and Practical
Part 74

By Albert Barnes




THIS chapter consists, in the main, of exhortations to holy living, and to an effort to make great attainments in the divine life. It is full of tenderness and affection, and is one of the most beautiful appeals which can anywhere be found to induce Christians to devote themselves to the service of the Redeemer. The appeal is drawn in a great measure from the apostle's statement of his own feelings, and is one which the Philippians could not but feel, for they knew him well. In the course of the chapter, he adverts to the following points:—

He exhorts them to rejoice in the Lord, Php 3:1.

He warns them against the Jewish teachers who urged the necessity of complying with the Mosaic laws, and who appear to have boasted of their being Jews, and to have regarded themselves as the favourites of God on that account, Php 3:2,3.

To meet what they had said, and to show how little all that on which they relied was to be valued, Paul says that he had had advantages of birth and education which surpassed them all, and that all the claim to the favour of God, and all the hope of salvation which could be derived from birth, education, and a life of zeal and conformity to the law, had been his, Php 3:4-6.

Yet, he says, he had renounced all this, and now regarded it as utterly worthless in the matter of salvation. He had cheerfully suffered the loss of all things, and was willing still to do it, if he might obtain salvation through the Redeemer. Christ was more to him than all the advantages of birth, and rank, and blood; and all other grounds of dependence for salvation, compared with reliance on him, were worthless, Php 2:7-11.

The object which he had sought in doing this, he says, he had not yet fully attained. He had seen enough to know its inestimable value, and he now pressed onward that he might secure all that he desired. The mark was before him, and he pressed on to secure the prize, Php 3:12-14.

He exhorts them to aim at the same thing, and to endeavour to secure the same object, assuring them that God was ready to disclose to them all that they desired to know, and to grant all that they wished to obtain, Php 3:15,16.

This whole exhortation he enforces in the end of the chapter Php 3:17-21 by two considerations. One was, that there were not a few who had been deceived and who had no true religion—whom he had often warned with tears, Php 3:18,19; the other was, that the home, the citizenship of the true Christian, was in heaven, and they who were Christians ought to live as those Who expected soon to be there. The Saviour would soon return to take them to glory. He would change their vile body, and make them like himself, and they should therefore live as became those who had a hope so blessed and transforming.

Verse 1. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. That is in the Lord Jesus. Php 3:3, See Barnes "Ac 1:24, and See Barnes "1 Th 5:16".

The idea here is, that it is the duty of Christians to rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ. This duty implies the following things.

(1.) They should rejoice that they have such a Saviour. Men everywhere have felt the need of a Saviour, and to us it should be a subject of unfeigned joy that one has been provided for us. When we think of our sins, we may now rejoice that there is One who can deliver us from them; when we think of the worth of tile soul, we may rejoice that there is One who can save it from death; when we think of our danger, we can rejoice that there is One who can rescue us from all peril, and bring us to a world where we shall be forever safe.

(2.) We may rejoice that we have such a Saviour. He is just such as we need. He accomplishes just what we want a Saviour to do. We need one to make known to us a way of pardon, and he does it. We need one to make an atonement for sin, and he does it. We need one to give us peace from a troubled conscience, and he does it. We need one to support us in trials and bereavements, and he does it. We need one who can comfort us on the bed of death, and guide us through the dark valley, and the Lord Jesus is just what we want. When we look at his character, it is just such as it should be to win our hearts, and to make us love him; and when we look at what he has done, we see that he has accomplished all that we can desire, and why should we not rejoice?

(3.) We may and should rejoice in him. The principal joy of the true Christian should be in the Lord. He should find his happiness not in riches, or gaiety, or vanity, or ambition, or books, or in the world in any form, but in communion with the Lord Jesus, and in the hope of eternal life through him. In his friendship, and in his service, should be the highest of our joys, and in these we may always be happy. It is the privilege, therefore, of a Christian to rejoice. He has more sources of joy than any other man—sources which do not fail when all others fail. Religion is not sadness or melancholy, it is joy; and the Christian should never leave the impression on others that his religion makes him either gloomy or morose. A cheerful countenance, an eye of benignity, a conversation pleasant and kind, should always evince the joy of his heart, and in all his intercourse with the world around him he should show that his heart is full of joy.

To write the same things. That is, to repeat the same truths and admonitions. Perhaps he refers in this to the exhortations which he had given them when he was with them, on the same topics on which he is now writing to them. He says, that for him to record these exhortations, and transmit them by a letter might be the means of permanent welfare to them, and would not be burdensome or oppressive to him. It was not absolutely necessary for them, but still it would be conducive to their order and comfort as a church. We may suppose that this chapter is a summary of what he had often inculcated when he was with them.

To me indeed is not grievous. It is not burdensome or oppressive to me to repeat these exhortations in this manner. They might suppose that in the multitude of cares which he had, and in his trials in Rome, it might be too great a burden for him to bestow so much attention on their interests.

But for you it is safe. It will contribute to your security as Christians, to have these sentiments and admonitions on record. They were exposed to dangers which made them proper. What those dangers were the apostle specifies in the following verses.

{a} "rejoice in the Lord" 1 Th 5:16

{b} "same things to you" 2 Pe 1:12-15


Verse 2. Beware of dogs. Dogs in the east are mostly without masters; they wander at large in the streets and fields, and feed upon offals, and even upon corpses. Comp. 1 Ki 14:11; 16:4; 21:19.

They are held as unclean, and to call one a dog is a much stronger expression of contempt there than with us, 1 Sa 17:43; 2 Ki 8:13. The Jews called the heathen dogs, and the Mohammedans call Jews and Christians by the same name. The term dog also is used to denote a person that is shameless, impudent, malignant, snarling, dissatisfied, and contentious, and is evidently so employed here. It is possible that the language used here may have been derived from some custom of affixing a caution on a house that was guarded by a dog to persons approaching it. L'Enfant remarks that at Rome it was common for a dog to lie chained before the door of a house, and that a notice was placed in sight, "Beware of the dog." The same notice I have seen in this city affixed to the kennel of dogs in front of a bank, that were appointed to guard it. The reference here is, doubtless, to Judaizing teachers; and the idea is, that they were contentious, troublesome, dissatisfied, and would produce disturbance. The strong language which the apostle uses here shows the sense which he had of the danger arising from their influence. It may be observed, however, that the term dogs is used in ancient writings with great frequency, and even by the most grave speakers. It is employed by the most dignified characters in the Iliad, (Bloomfield;) and the name was given to a whole class of Greek philosophers—the Cynics. It is used in one instance by the Saviour, Mt 7:6. By the use of the term here, there can be no doubt that the apostle meant to express strong disapprobation of the character and course of the persons referred to, and to warn the Philippians in the most solemn mariner against them.

Beware of evil workers. Referring, doubtless, to the same persons that he had characterized as dogs. The reference is to Jewish teachers, whose doctrines and influence he regarded only as evil. We do not know what was the nature of their teaching, but we may presume that it consisted much in urging the obligations of the Jewish rites and ceremonies; in speaking of the advantage of having been born Jews; and in urging a compliance with the law in order to justification before God. In this way their teachings tended to set aside the great doctrine of salvation by the merits of the Redeemer.

Beware of the concision. Referring, doubtless, also to the Jewish teachers. The word rendered concision katatomh— means, properly, a cutting off, a mutilation, it is used here contemptuously for the Jewish circumcision, in contrast with the true circumcision. Robinson, Lex. It is not to be understood that Paul meant to throw contempt on circumcision as enjoined by God, and as practised by the pious Jews of other times, Ac 16:3, but only as it was held by the false Judaizing teachers. As they held it, it was not the true circumcision. They made salvation to depend on it, instead of its being only a sign of the covenant with God. Such a doctrine, as they held it, was a mere cutting off of the flesh, without understanding anything of the true nature of the rite; and hence the unusual term by which he designates it. Perhaps, also, there may be included the idea that a doctrine so held would be, in fact, a cutting off of the soul; that is, that it tended to destruction. Their cutting and mangling the flesh might be regarded as an emblem of the manner in which their doctrine would cut and mangle the church. Doddridge. The meaning of the whole is, that they did not understand the true nature of the doctrine of circumcision, but that with them it was a mere cutting of the flesh, and tended to destroy the church.

{c} "dogs" Isa 56:10,11; Re 22:15

{d} "beware of" Ps 119:115

{e} "concision" Gal 5:1-3


Verse 3. For we are the circumcision. We who are Christians. We have and hold the true doctrine of circumcision. We have that which was intended to secure this rites for we are led to renounce the flesh, and to worship God in the spirit. The apostle, in this verse, teaches that the ordinance of circumcision was not designed to be a mere outward ceremony, but was intended to be emblematic of the renunciation of the flesh with its corrupt propensities, and to lead to the pure and spiritual worship of God. In this he has undoubtedly stated its true design. They who now urged it as necessary to salvation, and who made salvation depend on its mere outward observance, had lost sight of this object of the rite. But this, the real design of circumcision, was attained by those who had been led to renounce the flesh, and who had devoted themselves to the worship of God. See Barnes "Ro 2:28, See Barnes "Ro 2:29".

Which worship God in the spirit. See Barnes "Joh 4:24".

Comp. Ge 17:10-14.

And rejoice in Christ Jesus. See Php 4:1. That is, we have, through him, renounced the flesh; we have become the true worshippers of God, and have thus attained what was originally contemplated by circumcision, and by all the other rites of religion.

And have no confidence in the flesh. In our own corrupt nature; or in any ordinances that relate merely to the flesh. We do not depend on circumcision for salvation, or on any external rites and forms whatever —on any advantage of rank, or blood. The word "flesh" here seems to refer to every advantage which any may have of birth; to any external conformity to the law, and to everything which unaided human nature can do to effect salvation. On none of these things can we put reliance for salvation; none of them will constitute a ground of hope.

{a} "are the circumcision" Ro 2:28,29


Verse 4. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. That is, though I had uncommon advantages of this kind; and if any one could have trusted in them I could have done it. The object of the apostle is to show that he did not despise those things because he did not possess them, but because he now saw that they were of no value in the great matter of salvation. Once he had confided in them; and if any one could find any ground of reliance on them, he could have found more than any of them. But he had seen that all these things were valueless in regard to the salvation of the soul. We may remark here, that Christians do not despise or disregard advantages of birth, or amiableness of manners, or external morality, because they do not possess them—but because they regard them as insufficient to secure their salvation. They who have been most amiable and moral, before their conversion, will speak in the most decided manner of the insufficiency of these things for salvation, and of the danger of relying on them. They have once tried it, and they now see that their feet were standing on a slippery rock. The Greek here is, literally, "although I [was] having confidence in the flesh." The meaning is, that he had every ground of confidence in the flesh which any one could have, and that if there was any advantage for salvation to be derived from such birth, and blood, and external conformity to the law, he possessed it. He had more to rely on than most other men had; nay, he could have boasted of advantages of this sort which could not be found united in any other individual. What these advantages were he proceeds to specify.


Verse 5. Circumcised the eighth day. That is, he was circumcised in exact compliance with the law. If there was any ground of confidence from such compliance with the law, he had it. The law required that circumcision should be performed on the eighth day, Ge 17:12; Le 12:3; Lu 1:59; but it is probable that, in some cases, this was delayed on account of sickness, or from some other cause; and, in the case of proselytes, it was not performed until adult age. See Ac 16:3. But Paul says that, in his case, the law had been literally complied with; and, consequently, all the advantage which could be derived from such a compliance was his.

Of the stock of Israel. Descended from the patriarch Israel, or Jacob; and, therefore, able to trace his genealogy back as far as any Jew could. He was not a proselyte himself from among the heathen, nor were any of his ancestors proselytes. He had all the advantages which could be derived from a regular descent from the venerable founders of the Jewish nation. He was thus distinguished from the Edomites and others who practised circumcision; from the Samaritans, who were made up of a mixture of people; and from many, even among the Jews, whose ancestors had been once heathen, and who had become proselytes.

Of the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin was one of the two tribes which remained when the ten tribes revolted under Jeroboam, and, with the tribe of Judah, it ever afterwards maintained its allegiance to God. The idea of Paul is, that he was not one of the revolted tribes, but that he had as high a claim to the honour of being a Jew as any one could boast. The tribe of Benjamin, also, was located near the temple, and indeed it has been said that the temple was on the dividing line between that tribe and the tribe of Judah; and it might have been supposed that there was some advantage in securing salvation from having been born and reared so near where the holy rites of religion were celebrated. If there were any such derived from the proximity of the tribe to the temple, he could claim it; for, though his birth was in another place, yet he was a member of the tribe.

n Hebrew of the Hebrews. This is the Hebrew mode of expressing the superlative degree; and the idea is, that Paul enjoyed every advantage which could possibly be derived from the fact of being a Hebrew. He had a lineal descent from the very ancestor of the nation; he belonged to a tribe that was as honourable as any other, and that had its location near the very centre of religious influence; and he was an Hebrew by both his parents, with no admixture of Gentile blood. On this fact that no one of his ancestors had been a proselyte, or of Gentile extraction—a Jew would pride himself much; and Paul says that he was entitled to all the advantage which could be derived from it.

As touching the law, a Pharisee. In my views of the law, and in my manner of observing it, I was of the straitest sect—a Pharisee. See Barnes "Ac 26:5".

The Pharisees were distinguished among the Jewish sects for their rigid adherence to the letter of the law, and had endeavoured to guard it from the possibility of violation by throwing around it a vast body of traditions, which they considered to be equally binding with the written law. See Barnes "Mt 3:7".

The Sadducees were much less strict; and Paul here says, that whatever advantage could be derived from the most rigid adherence to the letter of the law was his.

{*} "stock" "race"

{b} "Pharisee" Ac 23:6


Verse 6. Concerning zeal, persecuting the Church. Showing the greatness of my zeal for the religion which I believed to be true, by persecuting those whom I considered to be in dangerous error. Zeal was supposed to be, as it is, an important part of religion. See 2 Ki 10:16; Ps 69:9; 119:139; Isa 59:17; Ro 10:2.

Paul says that he had shown the highest degree of zeal that was possible. He had gone so far in his attachment for the religion of his fathers as to pursue, with purposes of death, those who had departed from it, and who had embraced a different form of belief. If any, therefore, could hope for salvation on the ground of extraordinary devotedness to religion, he said that he could.

Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. So far as the righteousness which can be obtained by obeying the law is concerned, it is not needful to suppose here that he refers merely to the ceremonial law; but the meaning is, that he did all that could be done to obtain salvation by the mere observance of law. It was supposed by the Jews, and especially by the Pharisees, to which sect he belonged, that it was possible to be saved in that way; and Paul says that he had done all that was supposed to be necessary for that. We are not to imagine that, when he penned this declaration, he meant to be understood as saying that he had wholly complied with the law of God; but that, before his conversion, he supposed that he had done all that was necessary to be done in order to be saved by the observance of law. He neglected no duty that he understood it to enjoin. He was not guilty of deliberately violating it. He led a moral and strictly upright life, and no one had occasion to "blame" or to accuse him as a violator of the law of God. There is every reason to believe that Paul, before his conversion, was a young man of correct deportment, of upright life, of entire integrity; and that he was free from the indulgences of vice and passion, into which young men often fall. In all that he ever says of himself as being "the chief of sinners," and as being "unworthy to be called an apostle," he never gives the least intimation that his early life was stained by vice, or corrupted by licentious passions. On the contrary, we are left to the fair presumption that, if any man could be saved by his own works, he was that man. This fact should be allowed to make its proper impression on those who are seeking salvation in the same way; and they should be willing to inquire whether they may not be deceived in the matter, as he was, and whether they are not in as much real danger in depending on their own righteousness, as was this most upright and zealous young man.

{c} "zeal, persecuting" Ac 22:3,4; Gal 1:13,14

{+} "in" "by"

{d} "blameless" Lu 1:6


Verse 7. But what things were gain to me. The advantages of birth, of education, and of external conformity to the law. "I thought these to be gain—that is, to be of vast advantage in the matter of salvation. I valued myself on these things, and supposed that I was rich in all that pertained to moral character and to religion." Perhaps, also, he refers to these things as laying the foundation of a hope of future advancement in honour and in wealth in this world. They commended him to the rulers of the nation; they opened before him a brilliant prospect of distinction; they made it certain that he could rise to posts of honour and of office, and could easily gratify all the aspirings of his ambition.

Those I counted loss. "I now regard them all as so much loss. They were really a disadvantage—a hindrance—an injury. I look upon them not as gain or an advantage, but as an obstacle to my salvation." He had relied on them. He had been led by these things to an improper estimate of his own character, and he had been thus hindered from embracing the true religion, lie says, therefore, that he now renounced all dependence on them; that he esteemed them not as contributing to his salvation, but, so far as any reliance should be placed on them, as in fact so much loss.

For Christ. Gr., "On account of Christ." That is, so far as Christ and his religion were concerned, they were to be regarded as worthless. In order to obtain salvation by him, it was necessary to renounce all dependence on these things.

{a} "counted loss" Mt 13:44


Verse 8. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss. Not only those things which he had just specified, and which he had himself possessed, he says he would be willing to renounce in order to obtain an interest in the Saviour, but everything which could be imagined. Were all the wealth and honour which could be conceived of his, we would be willing to renounce them in order that he might obtain the knowledge of the Redeemer. He would be a gainer who should sacrifice everything in order to win Christ. Paul had not only acted on this principle when he became a Christian, but had ever afterwards continued to be ready to give up everything in order that he might obtain an interest in the Saviour. He uses here the same word zhmian,—which he does in the Acts of the Apostles, Ac 27:21, when speaking of the loss which had been sustained by loosing from Crete, contrary to his advice, on the voyage to Rome. The idea here seems to be, "What I might obtain, or did possess, I regard as loss in comparison with the knowledge of Christ, even as seamen do the goods on which they set a high value, in comparison with their lives. Valuable as they may be, they are willing to throw them all overboard in order to save themselves." Burder, in Ros. Alt. u. neu. Morgenland, in loc.

For the excellency of the knowledge. A Hebrew expression to denote excellent knowledge. The idea is, that he held everything else to be worthless in comparison with that knowledge, and he was willing to sacrifice everything else in order to obtain it. On the value of this knowledge of the Saviour, See Barnes "Eph 3:19".

For whom I have suffered the loss of all things. Paul, when he became a Christian, gave up his brilliant prospects in regard to this life, and everything indeed on which his heart had been placed. He abandoned the hope of honour and distinction; he sacrificed every prospect of gain or ease; and he gave up his dearest friends, and separated himself from those whom he tenderly loved. He might have risen to the highest posts of honour in his native land, and the path which an ambitious young man desires was fully open before him. But all this had been cheerfully sacrificed in order that he might obtain an interest in the Saviour, and partake of the blessings of his religion, he has not, indeed, informed us of the exact extent of his loss in becoming a Christian. It is by no means improbable that he had been excommunicated by the Jews; and that he had been disowned by his own family.

And do count them but dung. The word here used—skubalon—occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, dregs, refuse; what is thrown away as worthless; chaff, offal, or the refuse of a table or of slaughtered animals; and then filth of any kind. No language could express a more deep sense of the utter worthlessness of all that external advantages could confer in the matter of salvation. In the question, of justification before God, all reliance on birth, and blood, and external morality, and forms of religion, and prayers, and alms, is to be renounced, and, in comparison with the merits of the great Redeemer, to be esteemed as vile. Such were Paul's views; and we may remark, that if this was so in his case, it should be in ours. Such things can no more avail for our salvation than they could for his. We can no more be justified by them than he could. Nor will they do anything more in our case to commend us to God than they did in his.

{b} "for the excellency" Isa 53:11; Jer 9:23,24; Joh 17:3; 1 Co 2:2

{c} "have suffered" 2 Co 11:25-27

{*} "but dung" "refuse"


Verse 9. And be found in him. That is, united to him by a living faith The idea is, that when the investigations of the great day should take place in regard to the ground of salvation, it might be found that he was united to the Redeemer, and depended solely on his merits for salvation. See Barnes "Joh 6:56".

Not having mine own righteousness. That is, not relying on that for salvation. This was now the great aim of Paul, that it might be found at last that he was not trusting to his own merits, but to those of the Lord Jesus.

Which is of the law. See Barnes "Ro 10:3".

The "righteousness which is of the law" is that which could be obtained by conformity to the precepts of the Jewish religion, such as Paul had endeavoured to obtain before he became a Christian. He now saw that no one complied perfectly with the holy law of God, and that all dependence on such a righteousness was vain. All men by nature seek salvation by the law. They set up some standard which they mean to comply with, and expect to be saved by conformity to that. With some it is the law of honour, with others the laws of honesty, with others the laws of kindness and courtesy, and with others the law of God. If they comply with the requirements of these laws, they suppose that they will be safe; and it is only the grace of God showing them how defective their standard is, or how far they come from complying with its demands, that can ever bring them from this dangerous dependence. Paul in early life depended on his compliance with the laws of God as he understood them, and supposed that he was safe. When he was brought to realize his true condition, he saw how far short he had come of what the law of God required, and that all dependence on his own works was vain.

But that which is through the faith of Christ. That justification which is obtained by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. See Barnes "Ro 1:17" See Barnes "Ro 3:24" See Barnes "Ro 4:5".

Righteousness which is of God by faith. Which proceeds from God, or of which he is the great Source and Fountain. This may include the following things:

(1.) God is the author of pardon—and this is a part of the righteousness which the man who is justified has.

(2.) God purposes to treat the justified sinner as if he had not sinned—and thus his righteousness is of God.

(3.) God is the source of all the grace that will be imparted to the soul, making it really holy. In this way, all the righteousness which the Christian has is "of God." The idea of Paul is, that he now saw that it was far more desirable to be saved by righteousness obtained from God than by his own. That obtained from God was perfect, and glorious, and sufficient; that which he had attempted to work out was defective, impure, and wholly insufficient to save the soul. It is far more honourable to be saved by God than to save ourselves; it is more glorious to depend on him than to depend on anything that we can do.

{e} "righteousness which" Ro 1:17; 3:21,22


Verse 10. That I may know him. That I may be fully acquainted with his nature, his character, his work, and with the salvation which he has wrought out. It is one of the highest objects of desire in the mind of the Christian to know Christ. See Barnes "Eph 3:19".

And the power of his resurrection. That is, that I may understand and experience the proper influence which the fact of his resurrection should have on the mind. That influence would be felt in imparting the hope of immortality; in sustaining the soul in the prospect of death, by the expectation of being raised from the grave in like manner; and in raising the mind above the world, Ro 6:11. There is no one truth that will have greater power over us, when properly believed, than the truth that Christ has risen from the dead. His resurrection confirms the truth of the Christian religion, See Barnes "1 Co 15:11" makes it certain that there is a future state, and that the dead will also rise; dispels the darkness that was around the grave, and shows us that our great interests are in the future world. The fact that Christ has risen from the dead, when fully believed, will produce a sure hope that we also shall be raised, and will animate us to bear trials for his sake, with the assurance that we shall be raised up as he was. One of the things which a Christian ought most earnestly to desire is, to feel the power of this truth on his soul—that his great Redeemer has burst the bands of death; has brought life and immortality to light, and has given us the pledge that our bodies shall rise. What trials may we not bear with this assurance? What is to be dreaded in death, if this is so? What glories rise to the view when we think of the resurrection! And what trifles are all the things which men seek here, when compared with the glory that shall be ours when we shah be raised from the dead!

And the fellowship of his sufferings. That I may participate in the same kind of sufferings that he endured; that is, that I may in all things be identified with him. Paul wished to be just like his Saviour. He felt that it was an honour to live as he did; to evince the spirit that he did, and to suffer in the same manner. All that Christ did and suffered was glorious in his view, and he wished in all things to resemble him. He did not desire merely to share his honours and triumphs in heaven, but, regarding his whole work as glorious, he wished to be wholly conformed to that, and, as far as possible, to be just like Christ. Many are willing to reign with Christ, but they would not be willing to suffer with him; many would be willing to wear a crown of glory like him, but not the crown of thorns; many would be willing to put on the robes of splendour which will be worn in heaven, but not the scarlet robe of contempt and mockery. They would desire to share the glories and triumphs of redemption, but not its poverty, contempt, and persecution. This was not the feeling of Paul. He wished in all things to be just like Christ, and hence he counted it an honour to be permitted to suffer as he did. So Peter says, "rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings," 1 Pe 4:13. So Paul says Col 1:24that he rejoiced in his sufferings in behalf of his brethren, and desired "to fill up that which was behind of the afflictions of Christ," or that in which he had hitherto come short of the afflictions which Christ endured. The idea is, that it is an honour to suffer as Christ suffered; and that the true Christian will esteem it a privilege to be made just like him, not only in glory, but in trial. To do this is one evidence of piety; and we may ask ourselves, therefore, whether these are the feelings of our hearts. Are we seeking merely the honours of heaven, or should we esteem it a privilege to be reproached and reviled, as Christ was—to have our names cast out, as his was—to be made the object of sport and derision, as he was—and to be held up to the contempt of a world, as he was? If so, it is an evidence that we love him; if not so, and we are merely seeking the crown of glory, we should doubt whether we have ever known anything of the nature of true religion.

Being made conformable to his death. In all things, being just like Christ—-to live as he did, and to die as he did. There can be no doubt that Paul means to say that he esteemed it so desirable to be just like Christ, that he would regard it as an honour to die in the same manner. He would rejoice to go with him to the cross, and to pass through the circumstances of scorn and pain which attended such a death. Yet how few there are who would be willing to die as Christ died, and how little would the mass of men regard it as a privilege and honour! Indeed, it requires an elevated state of pious feeling to be able to say that it would be regarded as a privilege and honour to die like Christ; to have such a sense of the loveliness of his character in all things, and such ardent attachment to him, as to rejoice in the opportunity of dying as he did! When we think of dying, we wish to have our departure made as comfortable as possible. We would have our sun go down without a cloud. We would wish to lie on a bed of down; we would have our head sustained by the kind arm of a friend, and not left to fall, in the intensity of sufferring, on the breast; we would wish to have the place where we die surrounded by sympathizing kindred, and not by those who would mock our dying agonies. And, if such is the will of God, it is not improper to desire that our end may be peaceful and happy; but we should also feel, if God should order it otherwise that it would be an honour, in the cause of the Redeemer, to die amidst reproaches—to be led to the stake, as the martyrs have been—or to die, as our Master did, on a cross. They who are most like him in the scenes of humiliation here, will be most like him in the realms of glory.

{a} "the fellowship" 1 Pe 4:13


Verse 11. If by any means. Implying, that he meant to make use of the most strenuous exertions to obtain the object.

I might attain unto. I may come to, or may secure this object.

The resurrection of the dead. Paul believed that all the dead would be raised, Ac 24:15; 26:6-8; and in this respect he would certainly attain to the resurrection of the dead, in common with all mankind. But the phrase, "the resurrection of the dead," also might be used, in a more limited sense, to denote the resurrection of the righteous as a most desirable object; and this might be secured by effort. It was this which Paul sought—this for which he strove—this that was so bright an object in his eye that it was to be secured at any sacrifice. To rise with the saints; to enter with them into the blessedness of the heavenly inheritance, was an object that the apostle thought was worth every effort which could be made. The doctrine of the resurrection was, in his view, that which distinguished the true religion, and which made it of such inestimable value, Ac 26:6,7; 23:6; 1 Co 15; ) and he sought to participate in the full honour and glory of such a resurrection.

{b} "might attain" Ac 26:7


Verse 12. Not as though I had already attained. This verse, and the two following, are full of allusions to the Grecian races, and it will illustrate the whole passage to insert a cut representing a Grecian foot-race. We shall thus have the image before us which probably the apostle had in his eye when he penned the passage. (See opposite page.) "The word rendered 'attained' signifies, to have arrived at the goal and won the prize, but without having as yet received it." Pict. Bib. The meaning here is, I do not pretend to have attained to what I wish or hope to be. He had indeed been converted; he had been raised up from the death of sin; he had been imbued with spiritual life and peace; but there was a glorious object before him which he had not yet received. There was to be a kind of resurrection which he had not arrived at. It is possible that Paul here may have had his eye on an error which prevailed to some extent in the early church, that "the resurrection was past already," 2 Ti 2:18, by which the faith of some had been perverted. How far this error had spread, or on what it was founded, is not now known; but it is possible that it might have found advocates extensively in the churches. Paul says, however, that he entertained no such opinion, He looked forward to a resurrection which had not yet occurred. He anticipated it as a glorious event yet to come, and he purposed to secure it by every effort which he could make.

Either were already perfect. This is a distinct assertion of the apostle Paul that he did not regard himself as a perfect man. He had not reached that state where he was free from sin. It is not indeed a declaration that no one was perfect, or that no one could be in this life; but it is a declaration that he did not regard himself as having attained to it. Yet who can urge better claims to having attained perfection than Paul could have done? Who has surpassed him in love, and zeal, and self-denial, and true devotedness to the service of the Redeemer? Who has more elevated views of God, and of the plan of salvation? Who prays more, or lives nearer to God than he did? That must be extraordinary piety which surpasses that of the apostle Paul; and he who lays claim to a degree of holiness which even Paul did not pretend to, gives little evidence that he has any true knowledge of himself, or has ever been imbued with the true humility which the gospel produces. It should be observed, however, that many critics, as Bloomfield, Koppe, Rosenmuller, Robinson, (Lex.,) Clarke, the editor of the Pictorial Bible, and others, suppose the word here used—teleiow—not to refer to moral or Christian perfection, but to be an allusion to the games that were celebrated in Greece, and to mean that he had not completed his course and arrived at the goal, so as to receive the prize. According to this, the sense would be, that he had not yet received the crown which he aspired after as the result of his efforts in this life. It is of importance to understand precisely what he meant by the declaration here; and, in order to this, it will be proper to look at the meaning of the word elsewhere in the New Testament. The word properly means, to complete, to make perfect, so as to be full, or so that nothing shall be wanting. In the New Testament it is used in the following places, and is translated in the following manner: It is rendered fulfilled in Lu 2:43; Joh 19:28; perfect, and perfected, in Lu 13:32; Joh 17:23; 2 Co 12:9; Php 3:12; Heb 2:10; 5:9; 7:19; 9:9; 10:1,14; 11:40; 12:23; Jas 2:22; 1 Jo 2:5; 4:12,17, 1 Jo 4:18; finish, and finished, Joh 5:36; Ac 20:24; and consecrated, Heb 7:28. In one case, Ac 20:24 it is applied to a race or course that is run—" That I might finish my course with joy;" but this is the only instance, unless it be in the case before us. The proper sense of the word is that of bringing to an end, or rendering complete, so that nothing shall be wanting. The idea of Paul evidently is, that he had not yet attained that which would be the completion of his hopes. There was something which he was striving after, which he had not obtained, and which was needful to render him perfect, or complete. He lacked now what he hoped yet to attain to; and that which he lacked may refer to all those things which were wanting in his character and condition then, which he expected to secure in the resurrection. What he would then obtain would be—perfect freedom from sin, deliverance from trials and temptations, victory over the grave, and the possession of immortal life. As those things were needful in order to the completion of his happiness, we may suppose that he referred to them now, when he says that he was not yet "perfect." This word, therefore, while it will embrace an allusion to moral character, need not be understood of that only, but may include all those things which were necessary to be observed in order to his complete felicity. Though there may be, therefore, an allusion in the passage to the Grecian foot-races, (comp. the preceding cut,) yet still it would teach that he did not regard himself as in any sense perfect. In all respects, there were things wanting to render his character and condition complete, or what he desired they might ultimately be. The same is true of all Christians now. We are imperfect in our moral and religious character, in our joys, in our condition. Our state here is far different from that which will exist in heaven; and no Christian can say, any more that. Paul could, that he has obtained that which is requisite to the completion or perfection of his character and condition. He looks for something brighter and purer in the world beyond the grave. Though, therefore, there may be—as I think the connexion and phraseology seem to demand—a reference to the Grecian games, yet the sense of the passage is not materially varied. It was still a struggle for the crown of perfection—a crown which the apostle says he had not yet obtained.

But I follow after. I pursue the object, striving to obtain it. The prize was seen in the distance, and he diligently sought to obtain it. There is a reference here to the Grecian races, and the meaning is, "I steadily pursue my course." Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 9:24".

If that I may apprehend. If I may obtain, or reach, the heavenly prize. There was a glorious object in view, and he made most strenuous exertions to obtain it. The idea in the word "apprehend" is that of taking hold of, or of seizing suddenly and with eagerness; and, since there is no doubt of its being used in an allusion to the Grecian foot-races, it is not improbable that there is a reference to the laying hold of the pole or post which marked the goal, by the racer who had outstripped the other competitors, and who, by that act, might claim the victory and the reward. See the engraving.

That for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. My Christ Jesus. The idea is, that he had been called into the service of the Lord Jesus with a view to the obtaining of an important object. He recognised

(1.) the fact that the Lord Jesus had, as it were, laid hold on him, or seized him with eagerness or suddenness, for so the word used here—katelhfyhn—means, (comp. Mr 9:18; Joh 8:3,4; 12:35; 1 Th 5:4; ) and

(2.) the fact that the Lord Jesus had laid hold on him, with a view to his obtaining the prize. He had done it in order that he might obtain the crown of life, that he might serve him faithfully here, and then be rewarded in heaven. We may learn from this,

(1.) that Christians are seized, or laid hold on, when they are converted, by the power of Christ, to be employed in his service.

(2.) That there is an object or purpose which he has in view. He designs that they shall obtain a glorious prize, and he "apprehends" them with reference to its attainment.

(3.) That the fact that Christ has called us into his service with reference to such an object, and designs to bestow the crown upon us, need not and should not dampen our exertions, or diminish our zeal. It should rather, as in the case of Paul, excite our ardour, and urge us forward. We should seek diligently to gain that, for the securing of which Christ has called us into his service. The fact that he has thus arrested us in our mad career of sin; that he has by his grace constrained us to enter into his service, and that he contemplates the bestowment upon us of the immortal crown, should be the highest motive for effort. The true Christian, then, who feels that heaven is to be his home, and who believes that Christ means to bestow it upon him, will make the most strenuous efforts to obtain it. The prize is so beautiful and glorious, that he will exert every power of body and soul that it may be his. The belief, therefore, that God means to save us, is one of the highest incentives to effort in the cause of religion.

{a} "but I follow after" Heb 12:23


Verse 13. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended. That is, to have obtained that for which I have been called into the service of the Redeemer. There is something which I strive after which I have not yet gained. This statement is a confirmation of the opinion that in the previous verse, where he says that he was not "already perfect," he includes a moral perfection, and not merely the obtainment of the prize or reward; for no one could suppose that he meant to be understood as saying that he had obtained the crown of glory.

This one thing I do. Paul had one great aim and purpose of life. He did not attempt to mingle the world and religion, and to gain both. He did not seek to obtain wealth and salvation too; or honour here and the crown of glory hereafter; but he had one object, one aim, one great purpose of soul. To this singleness of purpose he owed his extraordinary attainments in piety, and his uncommon success as a minister. A man will accomplish little who allows his mind to be distracted by a multiplicity of objects. A Christian will accomplish nothing who has not a single great aim and purpose of soul. That purpose should be to secure the prize, and to renounce everything that would be in the way to its attainment. Let us, then, so live that we may be able to say, that there is one great object which we always have in view, and that we mean to avoid everything which would interfere with that.

Forgetting those things which are behind. There is an allusion here undoubtedly to the Grecian races. One running to secure the prize would not stop to look behind him to see how much ground he had run over, or who of his competitors had fallen or lingered in the way. He would keep his eye steadily on the prize, and strain every nerve that he might obtain it. If his attention was diverted for a moment from that, it would hinder his flight, and might be the means of his losing the crown. See cut on page 249. So the apostle says it was with him. He looked onward to the prize. He fixed the eye intently on that. It was the single object in his view, and he did not allow his mind to be diverted from that by anything—not even by the contemplation of the past. He did not stop to think of the difficulties which he had overcome, or the troubles which he had met, but he thought of what was yet to be accomplished. This does not mean that he would not have regarded a proper contemplation of the past life as useful and profitable for a Christian, (See Barnes "Eph 2:11,) but that he would not allow any reference to the past to interfere with the one great effort to win the prize. It may be, and is, profitable for a Christian to look over the past mercies of God to his soul, in order to awaken emotions of gratitude in the heart, and to think of his shortcomings and errors, to produce penitence and humility. But none of these things should be allowed, for one moment, to divert the mind from the purpose to win the incorruptible crown. And it may be remarked in general, that a Christian will make more rapid advances in piety by looking forward than by looking backward. Forward, we see everything to cheer and animate us—the crown of victory, the joys of heaven, the society of the blessed— the Saviour beckoning to us, and encouraging us. Backward, we see everything to dishearten and to humble. Our own unfaithfulness; our coldness, deadness, and dulness; the little zeal and ardour which we have, all are fitted to humble and discourage. He is the most cheerful Christian who looks onward, and who keeps heaven always in view. He who is accustomed much to dwell on fine past, though he may be a true Christian, will be likely to be melancholy and dispirited, to be a recluse rather than a warm-hearted and active friend of the Saviour. Or if he looks backward to contemplate what he has done—the space that he has run over —the difficulties which he has surmounted—and his own rapidity in the race, he will be likely to become self-complacent and self-satisfied. He will trust in his past endeavours, and feel that the prize is now secure, and will relax his future efforts. Let us, then, look onward. Let us not spend our time either in pondering the gloomy past, and our own unfaithfulness, or in thinking of what we have done, and thus becoming puffed up with self-complacency; but let us keep the eye steadily on the prize, and run the race as though we had just commenced it.

And reaching forth. As one does in a race.

Unto those things which are before. Before the racer there was a crown or garland to be bestowed by the judges of the games. Before the Christian there is the crown of glory, the eternal reward of heaven. There is the favour of God, victory over sin and death, the society of the redeemed and of angelic beings, and the assurance of perfect and eternal freedom from all evil. These are enough to animate the soul, and to urge it on with ever-increasing rigour in the Christian race.

{b} "forgetting those things" Ps 45:10; Heb 6:1


Verse 14. I press toward the mark. As he who was running a race did. The "mark" means, properly, the object set up at a distance at which one looks or aims; and hence the goal, or post which was set up at the end of a race-course, and which was to be reached in order that the prize might be won. Here it means that which is at the end of the Christian race—in heaven.

For the prize. The prize of the racer was a crown or garland of olive, laurel, pine, or apple. See Barnes "1 Co 9:24".

The prize of the Christian is the crown that is incorruptible in heaven.

Of the high calling of God. Which is the end or result of that calling. God has called us to great and noble efforts; to a career of true honour and glory; to the obtainment of a bright and imperishable crown. It is a calling which is "high," or upward anw—that is, which tends to the skies. The calling of the Christian is from heaven, and to heaven. Comp. Pr 15:24, He has been summoned by God, through the gospel of the Lord Jesus, to secure the crown. It is placed before and above him in heaven. It may he his, if he will not faint or tire, or look backward. It demands his highest efforts, and it is worth all the exertions which a mortal can make even in the longest life.

{a} "press toward" 1 Co 9:24; Heb 12:1

{b} "high calling" Heb 3:1


Verse 15. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect. See Barnes "Php 3:12".

Or, rather, those who would be perfect; or who are aiming at perfection. It can hardly be supposed that the apostle would address them as already perfect, when he had just said of himself that he had not attained to that state. But those whom he addressed might be supposed to be aiming at perfection, and he exhorts them, therefore, to have the same spirit that he himself had, and to make the same efforts which he himself put forth.

Be thus minded. That is, be united in the effort to obtain the prize, and to become entirely perfect. "Let them put forth the same effort which I do, forgetting what is behind, and pressing forward to the mark."

And if in any thing ye be otherwise minded. That is, if there were any among them who had not these elevated views and aims, and who had not been brought to sec the necessity of such efforts, or who had not learned that such high attainments were possible. There might be those among them who had been very imperfectly instructed in the nature of religion; those who entertained views which impeded their progress, and prevented the simple and earnest striving for salvation which Paul was enabled to put forth. He had laid aside every obstacle; renounced all the Jewish opinions which had impeded his salvation, and had now one single aim— that of securing the prize. But there might be those who had not attained to these views, and who were still impeded and embarrassed by erroneous opinions.

God shall reveal even this unto you. He will correct your erroneous opinions, and disclose to you the importance of making this effort for the prize. This is the expression of an opinion, that to those who were sincere and true Christians, God would yet make a full revelation of the nature of religion, or would lead them on so that they would fully understand it. They who are acquainted with religion at all, or who have been truly converted, God will teach and guide until they shall have a full understanding of divine things.

{c} "be perfect" Heb 3:1

{d} "thus minded" Gal 5:10


Verse 16. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule. This is a most wise and valuable rule, and a rule that would save much difficulty and contention in the church, if it were honestly applied. The meaning is this—that though there might be different degrees of attainment among Christians, and different views on many subjects, yet there were points in which all could agree; there were attainments which they all had made, and in reference to them they should walk in harmony and love. It might be that some had made much greater advances than others. They had more elevated views of religion; they had higher knowledge; they were nearer perfection. Others had had less advantages of education and instruction, had had fewer opportunities of making progress in the divine life, and would less understand the higher mysteries of the Christian life. They might not see the truth or propriety of many things which those in advance of them would see clearly. But it was not worth while to quarrel about these things. There should be no angry feeling, and no fault-finding on either side. There were many things in which they could see alike, and where there were no jarring sentiments. In those things they could walk harmoniously; and they who were in advance of others should not complain of their less informed brethren as lacking all evidence of piety; nor should those who had not made such advances complain of those before them as fanatical, or as disposed to push things to extremes. They who had the higher views should, as Paul did, believe that God will yet communicate them to the church at large, and in the mean time should not denounce others; and those who had less elevated attainments should not censure their brethren as wild and visionary. There were common grounds on which they might unite, and thus the harmony of the church would be secured. No better rule than this could be applied to the subjects of inquiry which spring up among Christians respecting temperance, slavery, moral reform, and the various doctrines of religion; and, if this rule had been always observed, the church would have been always saved from harsh contention and from schism. If a man does not see things just as I do, let me try with mildness to "teach" him, and let me believe that if he is a Christian, God will make this known to him yet; but let me not quarrel with him, for neither of us would be benefited by that, nor would the object be likely to be attained. In the mean time, there are many things in which we can agree. In them let us work together, and strive, as far as we can, to promote the common object. Thus we shall save our temper, give no occasion to the world to reproach us, and be much more likely to come together in all our views. The best way to make true Christians harmonious is, to labour together in the common cause of saving souls. As far as we can agree, let us go and labour together; and where we cannot yet, let us "agree to differ." We shall all think alike by-and-by.

{e} "rule, let us" Gal 6:16


Verse 17. Brethren, be followers together of me. That is, live as I do. A minister of the gospel, a parent, or a Christian of any age or condition, ought so to live that he can refer to his own example, and exhort others to imitate the course of life which he had led. Paul could do this without ostentation or impropriety. They knew that he lived so as to be a proper example for others; and he knew that they would feel that his life had been such that there would be no impropriety in his referring to it in this manner. But, alas! how few are there who can safely imitate Paul in this!

And mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. There were those in the church who endeavoured to live as he had done, renouncing all confidence ill the flesh, and aiming to win the prize. There were others, it would seem, who were actuated by different views. See Php 3:18. There are usually two kinds of professing Christians in every church—those who imitate the Saviour, and those who are worldly and vain. The exhortation here is, to "mark"—that is, to observe with a view to imitate—hose who lived as the apostles did. We should set before our minds the best examples, and endeavour to imitate the most holy men. A worldly and fashionable professor of religion is a very bad example to follow; and, especially, young Christians should set before their minds for imitation, and associate with, the purest and most spiritual members of the church. Our religion takes its form and complexion much from those with whom we associate; and he will usually be the most holy man who associates with the most holy companions.

{f} "followers together" 1 Th 1:6

{+} "together" "joint imitators"


Verse 18. For many walk. Many live, the Christian life being often in the Scriptures compared with a journey. In order to induce them to imitate those who were the most holy, the apostle says that there were many, even in the church, whom it would not be safe for them to imitate. He evidently here refers mainly to the church at Philippi, though it may be that he meant to make the declaration general, and to say that the same thing existed in other churches. There has not probably been any time yet in the Christian church when the same thing might not be said.

Of whom I have told you often. When he preached in Philippi. Paul was not afraid to speak of church-members when they did wrong, and to warn others not to imitate their example. He did not attempt to cover up or excuse guilt because it was in the church, or to apologize for the defects and errors of those who professed to be Christians. The true way is, to admit that there are those in the church who do not honour their religion, and to warn others against following their example. But this fact does not make religion any the less true or valuable, any more than the fact that there is counterfeit money makes all money bad, or makes genuine coin of no value.

And now tell you even weeping. This is the true spirit with which to speak of the errors and faults of Christians. It is not to go and blazon their inconsistencies abroad. It is not to find pleasure in the fact that they are inconsistent. It is not to reproach religion on that account, and to say that all religion is false and hollow, and that all professors are hypocrites. We should rather speak of the fact with tears; for, if there is any thing that should make us weep, it is, that there are those in the church who are hypocrites, or who dishonour their profession. We should weep,

(1.) because they are in danger of destroying their own souls;

(2.) because they are destined to certain disappointment when they come to appear before God; and

(3.) because they injure the cause of religion, and give occasion to the "enemies of the Lord to speak reproachfully." He who loves religion will weep over the inconsistencies of its friends; he who does not will exult and triumph.

That they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. The "cross" was the instrument of death on which the Redeemer died to make atonement for sin. As the atonement made by Christ for sin is that which peculiarly distinguishes his religion from all others, the "cross" comes to be used to denote his religion; and the phrase here means, that they were the enemies of his religion, or were strangers to the gospel. It is not to be supposed that they were open and avowed enemies of the cross or that they denied that the Lord Jesus died on the cross to make an atonement. The characteristic of those persons mentioned in tile following verse is, rather, that they were living in a manner which showed that they were strangers to his pure gospel. An immoral life is enmity to the cross of Christ; for he died to make us holy. A life where there is no evidence that the heart is renewed is enmity to the cross; for he died that we might be renewed. They are the enemies of the cross, in the church,

(1.) who have never been born again;

(2.) who are living in the indulgence of known sin;

(3.) who manifest none of the peculiarities of those who truly love him;

(4.) who have a deeper interest ill worldly affairs than they have in the cause of the Redeemer;

(5.) whom nothing can induce to give up their worldly concerns when God demands it;

(6.) who are opposed to all the peculiar doctrines of Christianity; and

(7.) who are opposed to all the peculiar duties of religion, or who live in the habitual neglect of them. It is to be feared that at all times there are such enemies of the cross in the church, and the language or, the apostle implies that it ks a proper subject of grief and tears. He wept over it, and so should we. It is from this cause that so much injury is done to the true religion in the world. One secret enemy in a camp may do more harm than fifty men who are open foes; and a single unholy or inconstant member in a church may do much more injury than many men who are avowedly opposed to religion. It is not by infidels, and scoffers, and blasphemers, so much, that injury is done to the cause of religion; it is by the unholy lives of its professed friends—the worldliness, inconsistency, and want of the proper spirit of religion, among those who are in the church. Nearly all the objections that are made to religion are from this quarter; and if this objection, were taken away, the religion of Christ would soon spread its triumphs around the globe.

{b} "enemies of the cross" Gal 1:7; 6:12


Verse 19. Whose end is destruction. That is, as they have no true religion, they must perish in the same manner as all sinners. A mere profession will not save them. Unless they are converted, and become the true friends of the cross, they cannot enter heaven.

Whose God is their belly. Who worship their own appetites; or who live not to adore and honour God, but for self-indulgence and sensual gratifications. See Ro 16:18.

And whose glory is in their shame. That is, they glory in things of which they ought to be ashamed. They indulge in modes of living which ought to cover them with confusion.

Who mind earthly things. That is, whose hearts are set on earthly things, or who live to obtain them. Their attention is directed to honour, gain, or pleasure, and their chief anxiety is that they may secure these objects. This is mentioned as one of the characteristics of enmity to the cross of Christ; and if this be so, how many are there in the church now who are the real enemies of the cross! How many professing Christians are there who regard little else than worldly things! How many who live only to acquire wealth, to gain honour, or to enjoy the pleasures of the world! How many are there who have no interest in a prayer-meeting, in a Sabbath-school, in religious conversation, and in the advancement of true religion on the earth! These are the real enemies of the cross. It is not so much those who deny the doctrines of the cross, as it is those who oppose its influence on their hearts; not so much those who live to scoff and deride religion, as it is those who "mind earthly things," that injure this holy cause in the world.

{c} "end is destruction" 2 Co 11:15; 2 Pe 2:1

{d} "whose God is their belly" 1 Ti 6:5

{e} "glory is in their shame" Eph 2:6,19


Verse 20. For our conversation is in heaven. That is, this is true of all who are sincere Christians. It is a characteristic of Christians, in contradistinction from those who are the "enemies of the cross," that their conversation is in heaven. The word "conversation" we now apply almost entirely to oral discourse. It formerly, however, meant conduct in general, and it is usually employed in this sense in the Scriptures. See Barnes "Php 1:27, where the verb occurs, from which the noun here is derived. The word here used politeuma —is found nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, any public measure, administration of the state, the manner in which the affairs of a state are administered; and then the state itself, the community, commonwealth, those who are bound under the same laws, and associated in the same society. Here it cannot mean that their "conversation," in the sense of discourse or talking, was in heaven; nor that their "conduct" was in heaven —for this would convey no idea, and the original word does not demand it; but the idea is, that they were heavenly citizens, or citizens of the heavenly world, in contradistinction from a worldly community. They were governed by the laws of heaven; they were a community associated as citizens of that world, and expecting there to dwell. The idea is, that there are two great communities in the universe—that of the world, and that of heaven; that governed by worldly laws and institutions, and that by the laws of heaven; that associated for worldly purposes, and that associated for heavenly or religious purposes; and that the Christian belonged to the latter—the enemy of the cross, though in the church, belonged to the former. Between true Christians, therefore, and others, there is all the difference which arises from belonging to different communities; being bound together for different purposes; subject to different laws; and altogether under a different administration. There is more difference between them than there is between the subjects of two earthly governments. Comp. See Barnes "Eph 2:6,19.

From whence also we look for the Saviour. From heaven. That is, it is one of the characteristics of the Christian that he believes that the Lord Jesus will return from heaven, and that he looks and waits for it. Other men do not believe this, (2 Pe 3:4,) but the Christian confidently expects it. His Saviour has been taken away from the earth, and is now in heaven, but it is a great and standing article of his faith that that same Saviour will again come, and take the believer to himself. See Barnes "Joh 14:2, See Barnes "Joh 14:3" See Barnes "1 Th 4:14.

This was the firm belief of the early Christians, and this expectation with them was allowed to exert a constant influence on their hearts and lives. It led them

(1.) to desire to be prepared for his coming;

(2.) to feel that earthly affairs were of little importance, as the scene here was soon to close;

(3.) to live above the world, and in the desire of the appearing of the Lord Jesus. This was one of the elementary doctrines of their faith, and one of the means of producing deadness to the world among them; and among the early Christians there was, perhaps, no doctrine that was more the object of firm belief, and the ground of more delightful contemplation, than that their ascended Master would return. In regard to the certainty of their belief on this point, and the effect which it had on their minds, see the following texts of the New Testament, Mt 24:42,44; Lu 12:37; Joh 14:3; Ac 1:11; 1 Co 4:5; Col 3:4; 1 Th 2:19; 2 Th 2:1; Heb 10:37; Jas 5:7,8; 1 Jo 3:2; Re 22:7,12,20.

It may be asked, with great force, whether Christians in general have now any such expectation of the second appearing of the Lord Jesus, or whether they have not fallen into the dangerous error of prevailing unbelief, so that the expectation of his coming is allowed to exert almost no influence on the soul? In the passage before us, Paul says that it was one of the distinct characteristics of Christians that they looked for the coming of the Saviour from heaven. They believed that he would return. They anticipated that important effects would follow to them from his second coming. So we should look. There may be, indeed, a difference of opinion about the time when he will come, and about the question whether he will come to reign "literally" on the earth—but the fact that Christ will return to our world is common ground on which all Christians may meet, and is a fact which should be allowed to exert its full influence on the heart. It is a glorious truth—for what a sad world would this be, and what a sad prospect would be before the Christian, if the Saviour were never to come to raise his people from their graves, and to gather his redeemed to himself! The fact that he will come is identified with all our hopes. It is fitted to cheer us in trial; to guard us in temptation; to make us dead to the world; to lead us to keep the eye turned toward heaven.

{*} "conversation" "citizenship"

{f} "is in heaven" Eph 2:6,19

{g} "look for the Saviour" Heb 9:28


Verse 21. Who shall change our vile body. See Barnes "1 Co 5:1, and following. The original words, which are here rendered "vile body," properly mean ";" that is, our humble body. It refers to the body as it is in its present state, as subject to its infirmities, disease, and death. It is different far from what it was when man was created, and from what it will be in the future world. Paul says that it is one of the objects of the Christian hope and expectation that this body, so subject to infirmities and sicknesses, will be changed.

That it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body. Gr., "The body of his glory;" that is, the body which he has in his glorified state. What change the body of the Redeemer underwent when he ascended to heaven we are not informed; nor do we know what is the nature, size, appearance, or form of the body which he now has. It is certain that it is adapted to the glorious world where he dwells; that it has none of the infirmities to which it was liable when here; that it is not subject, as here, to pain or death; that it is not sustained in the same manner. The body of Christ in heaven is of the same nature as the bodies of the saints will be in the resurrection, and which the apostle calls "spiritual bodies," See Barnes "1 Co 15:44") and it is doubtless accompanied with all the circumstances of splendour and glory which are appropriate to the Son of God. The idea here is, that it is the object of the desire and anticipation of the Christian, to be made just like Christ in all things. He desires to resemble him in moral character here, and to be like him in heaven. Nothing else will satisfy him but such conformity to the Son of God; and when he shall resemble him in all things, the wishes of his soul will be all met and fulfilled.

According to the working, etc. That is, such a change demands the exertion of vast power. No creature can do it. But there is One who has power entrusted to him over all things, and he can effect this great transformation in the bodies of men. Comp. 1 Co 15:26,27. He can mould the mind and the heart to conformity to his own image, and thus also he can transform the body so that it shall resemble his. Everything he can make subject to his will. See Barnes "Mt 28:18" See Barnes "Joh 17:2".

And he that has this power can change our humbled and debased bodies, so that they shall put on the glorious appearance and form of that of the Son of God himself. What a contrast between our bodies here—frail, feeble, subject to sickness, decay, and corruption—and the body as it will be in heaven! And what glorious prospect awaits the weak and dying believer, in the future world!

{a} "change our vile" 1 Co 15:43; 1 Jo 3:2

{*} "fashioned" "formed"

{b} "working whereby" Eph 1:19

{c} "even to subdue" 1 Co 15:26,27


1. It is a privilege of the Christian to rejoice, Php 3:1. He has more sources of real joy than any other persons. See 1 Th 5:16. He has a Saviour in whom he may always find peace; a God whose character he can always contemplate with pleasure; a heaven to look forward to where there is nothing but happiness; a Bible that is full of precious promises; and at all times the opportunity of prayer, in which he may roll all his sorrows on the arms of an unchanging Friend. If there is any one on earth who ought to be happy, it is the Christian.

2. The Christian should so live as to leave on others the impression that religion produces happiness. In our intercourse with our friends we should show them that religion does not cause sadness or gloom, sourness or misanthropy, but that it produces cheerfulness, contentment, and peace. This may be shown by the countenance, and by the whole demeanour—by a calm brow, and a benignant eye, and by a cheerful aspect. The internal peace of the soul should be evinced by every proper external expression. A Christian may thus be always doing good—for he is always doing good who leaves the impression on others that religion makes its possessors happy.

3. The nature of religion is almost always mistaken by the world. They suppose that it makes its possessors melancholy and sad. The reason is, not that they are told so by those who are religious, and not that even they can see anything in religion to produce misery, but because they have fixed their affections on certain things which they suppose to be essential to happiness, and which they suppose religion would require them to give up without substituting anything in their place. But never was there a greater mistake. Let them go and ask Christians, and they will obtain but one answer from them. It is, that they never knew what true happiness was till they found it in the Saviour. This question may be proposed to a Christian of any denomination, or in any land, and the answer will be uniformly the same. Why is it, then, that the mass of persons regard religion as adapted only to make them unhappy? Why will they not take the testimony of their friends in the case, and believe those whom they would believe on any other subject, when they declare that it is only true religion that ever gives them solid peace?

4. We cannot depend on any external advantages of birth or blood for salvation, Php 3:4-6. Few or no persons have as much in this respect to rely on as Paul had. Indeed, if salvation were to be obtained at all by such external advantages, it is impossible to conceive that more could have been united in one case than there was in his. He had not only the advantage of having been born a Hebrew; of having been early trained in the Jewish religion; of being instructed in the ablest manner, but also the advantage of entire blamelessness in his moral deportment. He had showed, in every way possible, that he was heartily attached to the religion of his fathers, and he began life with a zeal in the cause which seemed to justify the warmest expectations of his friends. But all this was renounced, when he came to see the true method of salvation, and saw the better way by which eternal life is to be obtained. And if Paul could not depend on this, we cannot safely do it. It will not save us that we have been born in the church; that we have had pious parents; that we were early baptized and consecrated to God; that we were trained in the Sabbath school. Nor will it save us that we attend regularly on the place of worship, or that we are amiable, correct, honest, and upright in our lives. We can no more depend on these things than Saul of Tarsus could; and if all his eminent advantages failed to give him a solid ground of hope, our advantages will be equally vain in regard to our salvation. It almost seems as if God designed, in the case of Saul of Tarsus, that there should be one instance where every possible external advantage for salvation should be found, and there should be everything that men ever could rely on in moral character, in order to show that no such things could be sufficient to save the soul. All these may exist, and yet there may not be a particle of love to God, and the heart may be full of selfishness, pride, and ambition, as it was in his case.

5. Religion demands humility, Php 3:7,8. It requires us to renounce all dependence on our own merits, and to rely simply on the merits of another—the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are ever saved, we must be brought to esteem all the advantages which birth and blood and our own righteousness can bestow as worthless, and even vile, in the matter of justification. We shall not despise these things in themselves, nor shall we consider that vice is as desirable as virtue, nor that a bad temper is to be sought rather than an amiable disposition, nor that dishonesty is as commendable as honesty; but we shall feel that in comparison with the merits of the Redeemer all these are worthless. But the mind is not brought to this condition without great humiliation. Nothing but the power of God can bring a proud and haughty and self-righteous sinner to this state, where he is willing to renounce all dependence on his own merits, and to be saved in the same way as the vilest of the species.

6. Let us seek to obtain an interest in the righteousness of the Redeemer, Php 3:9. Our own righteousness cannot save us. But in him there is enough. There is all that we want, and if we have that righteousness which is by faith, we have all that is needful to render us accepted with God, and to prepare us for heaven. When there is such a way of salvation,—so easy, so free, so glorious, so ample for all,—how unwise is any one to rest on his own works, and to expect to be saved by what he has done! The highest honour of man is to be saved by the merits of the Son of God; and he has reached the most elevated rank in the human condition who has the most certain hope of salvation through him.

7. There is enough to be gained to excite us to the utmost diligence and effort in the Christian life, Php 3:10-14. If men can be excited to effort by the prospect of an earthly crown in a race or a game, how much more should we be urged forward by the prospect of the eternal prize? To seek to know the Redeemer; to be raised up from the degradation of sin; to have part in the resurrection of the just; to obtain the prize of the high calling in heaven; to be made everlastingly happy and glorious there—what object was ever placed before the mind like this? What ardour should it excite that we may gain it? Surely, the hope of obtaining such a prize as is before the Christian should call forth all our powers. The struggle will not be long. The race will soon be won. The victory will be glorious; the defeat would be overwhelming and awful. No one need fear that he can put forth too much effort to obtain the prize. It is worth every exertion, and we should never relax our efforts, or give over in despair.

8. Let us, like Paul, ever cherish an humble sense of our attainments in religion, Php 3:12,13. If Paul had not reached the point of perfection, it is not to be presumed that we have; if he could not say that he had "attained," it is presumption in us to suppose that we have; if he had occasion for humiliation, we have more; if he felt that he was far short of the object which he sought, and was pressed down with the consciousness of imperfection, such a feeling becomes us also. Yet let us not sink down in despondency and inaction. Like him, let us strain every nerve that we may overcome our imperfections and win the prize. That prize is before us. It is glorious we may be sensible that we, as yet, have not reached it, but if we will strive to obtain it, it will soon be certainly ours. We may feel that we are far distant from it now in the degree of our attainments, but we are not far from it in fact. It will be but a short period before the Christian will lay hold on that immortal crown, and before his brow will be encircled with the diadem of glory. For the race of life, whether we win or lose, is soon run; and when a Christian begins a day, he knows not but he may end it in heaven; when he lies down on his bed at night, he knows not but he may awake with the "prize" in his hand, and with the diadem of glory sparkling on his brow.

9. Our thoughts should be much in heaven, Php 3:20. Our home is there; our citizenship is there. Here we are strangers and pilgrims. We are away from home, in a cold and unfriendly world. Our great interests are in the skies; our eternal dwelling is to be there; our best friends are already there. There is our glorious Saviour, with a body adapted to those pure abodes, and there are many whom we have loved on earth already with him. They are happy now, and we should not love them less because they are in heaven. Since, therefore, our great interests are there, and our best friends there; and since we ourselves are citizens of that heavenly world, our best affections shoed be there.

10. We look for the Saviour, Php 3:20,21. He will return to our world. He will change our vile bodies, and make them like his own glorious body. And since this is so, let us

(1.) bear with patience the trials and infirmities to which our bodies here are subject. These trials will be short, and we may well bear them for a few days, knowing that soon all pain will cease, and that all that is humiliating in the body will be exchanged for glory.

(2.) Let us not think too highly or too much of our bodies here. They may be now beautiful and comely, but they are "vile" and degraded, compared with what they will soon be. They are subject to infirmity, and to numerous pains and sicknesses. Soon the most beautiful body may become loathsome to our best friends. Soon, too offensive to be looked upon, it will be hidden in the grave. Why, then, should we seek to pamper and adorn these mortal frames? Why live only to decorate them? Why should we idolize a mass of moulded and animated clay? Yet

(3.) let us learn to honour the body in a true sense. It is soon to be changed. It will be made like the glorified body of Christ. Yes, this frail, diseased, corruptible, and humbled body; this body, that is soon to be laid in the grave, and to return to the dust, is soon to put on a new form, and to be clothed with immortality. It will be what the body of Christ now is—glorious and immortal. What a change! Christian, go and look on the creeping caterpillar, and see it changed to the gay and gilded butterfly—yesterday, a crawling and offensive insect; to-day, with gaudy colours, an inhabitant of the air, and a dweller amidst flowers; and see an image of what thy body shall be, and of the mighty transformation which thou wilt soon undergo. See the change from the cold death of winter to the fragrance and life of spring, and behold an image of the change which thou thyself wilt ere long experience, and a proof that some such change awaits thee.

Shall spring the faded world revive?
Shall waning moons their light renew?
Again shall setting suns ascend,
And chase the darkness from our view!

Shall life revisit dying worms,
And spread the joyful insect's wing?
And oh! shall man awake no more,
To see thy face, thy name to sing?

Faith sees the bright, eternal doors
Unfold to make her children way:
They shall be clothed with endless life,
And shine ill everlasting day.

11. Let us look for the coming of the Lord, Php 3:21. All that we hope for depends on his reappearing. Our day of triumph, and of the fulness of our joy, is to be when he shall return. Then we shall be raised from the grave; then our vile bodies shall be changed; then we shall be acknowledged as his friends; then we shall go to be for ever with him. The earth is not our home; nor is the grave to be our everlasting bed of rest. Our home is heaven—and the Saviour will come, that he may raise us up to that blessed abode. And who knows when he may appear? He himself commanded us to be ready, for he said he would come at an hour when we think not. We should so desire his coming, that the hours of his delay would seem to be heavy and long; and should so live that we can breathe forth with sincerity, at all times, the fervent prayer of the beloved disciple, "Come, Lord Jesus, COME QUICKLY !" Re 22:20.

My faith shall triumph o'er the grave,
And trample on the tombs;
My Jesus, my Redeemer lives,
My God, my Saviour comes.
Ere long I know he shall appear,
In power and glory great;
And death, the last of all his foes,
Lie vanquish'd at his feet.

Then, though the worms my flesh devour,
And make my form their prey,
I know I shall arise with power,
On the last judgment-day.
When God shall stand upon the earth,
Him then mine eyes shall see;
My flesh shall feel a sacred birth,
And ever with him be.

Then his own hand shall wipe the tears
From every weeping eye;
And pains, and groans, and griefs, and fears,
Shall cease eternally.
How long, dear Saviour! oh, how long
Shall this bright hour delay?

Fly swift around, ye wheels of time,
And bring the welcome day.



Philippians CHAPTER 4


THIS chapter comprises the following points :—

I. Exhortations.
II. Solemn commands to live as became Christians.
III. The expression of a grateful acknowledgment of the favours which he had received from them; and,

IV. The customary salutations.

I. Exhortations, Php 4:1-3.

(1.) He exhorts them to stand fast in the Lord, Php 4:1

(2.) He entreats Euodias and Syntyche, who appear to have been alienated from each other, to be reconciled, Php 4:2

(3.) He entreats one whom he calls a "true yokefellow" to render assistance to those women who had laboured with him in the gospel, Php 4:3.

II. Commands, Php 4:4-9. He commands them to rejoice in the Lord always, Php 4:4; to let their moderation be known to all, Php 4:5; to have no anxiety about worldly matters, but in all their necessities to go to God. Php 4:6,7; and to do whatever was honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, Php 4:8,9.

III. A grateful acknowledgment of their kindness, Php 4:10-19. He says that their care of him had been manifested again, in such away as to be highly grateful to his feelings, Php 4:10. He did not indeed say that he had suffered, for he had learned, in whatever state he was, to be content, Php 4:11-13; but they had shown a proper spirit in endeavouring to relieve his necessities, Php 4:14. He remarks that their church was the only one that had aided him when he was in Macedonia, and that they had sent to him more than once when he was in Thessalonica; and says that their favour now was an offering acceptable to God, who would abundantly reward them, Php 4:15-20.

IV. Salutations, Php 4:21-23.

Verse 1. Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for. Doddridge unites this verse with the previous chapter, and supposes that it is the proper close of the solemn statement which the apostle makes there. The word therefore wste has undoubted reference to the remarks made there; and the meaning is, that in view of the fact that there were many professed Christians who were not sincere— that the "citizenship" of all true Christians was in heaven, and that Christians looked for the coming of the Lord Jesus, who would make them like to himself, the apostle exhorts them to stand fast ill the Lord. The accumulation of epithets of endearment in this verse shows his tender regard for them, and is expressive of his earnest solicitude for their welfare, anti his deep conviction of their danger. The term "longed for" is expressive of strong affection. Php 1:8; 2:26.

My joy. The source of my joy. He rejoiced in the fact that they had been converted under him; and in their holy walk and theft friendship. Our chief joy is in our friends; and the chief happiness of a minister of the gospel is in the pure lives of those to whom he ministers. See 3 Jo 1:4.

And crown. Comp. 1 Th 2:19. The word crown means a circlet, chaplet, or diadem,

(1.) as the emblem of royal dignity— the symbol of office;

(2.) as the prize conferred on victors in the public games, 1 Co 9:25; and hence as an emblem of the rewards of a future life, 2 Ti 4:8; Jas 1:12; 1 Pe 5:4;

(3) anything that is an ornament or honour, as one glories in a crown Comp. Pr 12:4, "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband;" Pr 14:24, "The crown of the wise is their riches;" Pr 16:31, "The hoary head is a crown of glory; Pr 17:6, "Children's children are the crown of old men." The idea here is, that the church at Philippi was that in which the apostle gloried. He regarded it as a high honour to have been the means of founding such a church, and he looked upon it with the same interest with which a monarch looks upon the diadem which he wears.

So stand fast in the Lord. In the service of the Lord, and in the strength which he imparts. See Barnes "Eph 6:13, See Barnes "Eph 6:14".


Verse 2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche. These are doubtless the names of females. The name Syntyche is sometimes the name of a man; but, if these persons are referred to in Php 4:3, there can be no doubt that they were females. Nothing more is known of them than is here mentioned. It has been commonly supposed that they were deaconesses, who preached the gospel to those of their own sex; but there is no certain evidence of this. All that is known is, that there was some disagreement between them, and the apostle entreats them to be reconciled to each other.

That they be of the same mind. That they be united, or reconciled. Whether the difference related to doctrine, or to something else, we cannot determine from this phrase. The language is such as would properly relate to any difference.

In the Lord. In their Christian walk and plans. They were doubtless professing Christians, and the apostle exhorts them to make the Lord the great object of their affections, and, in their regard for him, to bury all their petty differences and animosities.


Verse 3. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow. It is not known to whom the apostle refers here. No name is mentioned, and conjecture is useless. All that is known is, that it was some one whom Paul regarded as associated with himself in labour, and one who was so prominent at Philippi that it would be understood who was referred to, without more particularly mentioning him. The presumption therefore is, that it was one of the ministers or "bishops" See Barnes "Php 1:1") of Philippi, who had been particularly associated with Paul when he was there. The epistle was addressed to the "church, with the bishops and deacons," Php 1:1; and the fact that this one had been particularly associated with Paul would serve to designate him with sufficient particularity. Whether he was related to the women referred to is wholly unknown. Doddridge supposes that he might be the husband of one of these women; but of that there is no evidence. The term "yokefellow" suzugov— some have understood as a proper name, (Syzygus;) but the proper import of the word is yokefellow, and there is no reason to believe that it is used here to denote a proper name. If it had been, it is probable that some other word than that here used and rendered true— gnhsiov—would have been employed. The word true gnhsiov—means that he was sincere, faithful, worthy of confidence. Paul had had evidence of his sincerity and fidelity; and he was a proper person, therefore, to whom to entrust a delicate and important business.

Help those women. The common opinion is, that the women here referred to were Euodias and Syntyche, and that the office which the friend of Paul was asked to perform was, to secure a reconciliation between them. There is, however, no certain evidence of this. The reference seems rather to be to influential females who had rendered important assistance to Paul when he was there. The kind of "help" which was to be imparted was probably by counsel, and friendly co-operation in the duties which they were called to perform. There is no evidence that it refers to pecuniary aid; and, had it referred to a reconciliation of those who were at variance, it is probable that some other word would have been used than that here rendered help—sullambanou.

Which laboured with me in the Gospel. As Paul did not permit women to preach, (1 Ti 2:12 comp. See Barnes "1 Co 11:5,) he must have referred here to some other services which they had rendered. There were deaconesses in the primitive churches, (See Barnes "Ro 16:1" See Barnes "1 Ti 5:9, seq.,) to whom was probably entrusted particularly the care of the female members of a church. In the custom which prevailed in the oriental world of excluding females from the public gaze, and of confining them to their houses, it would not be practicable for the apostles to have access to them. The duties of instructing and exhorting them were then probably entrusted chiefly to pious females; and in this way important aid would be rendered in the gospel. Paul could regard such as "labouring with him," though they were not engaged in preaching.

With Clement also. That is, they were associated with Clement, and with the other fellow-labourers of Paul, in aiding him in the gospel. Clement was doubtless some one who was well known among them; and the apostle felt that, by associating them with him, as having been real helpers in the gospel, their claim to respectful attention would be better appreciated. Who Clement was is unknown. Most of the ancients say it was Clement of Rome, one of the primitive fathers. But there is no evidence of this. The name Clement was common, and there is no improbability in supposing that there might have been a preacher of this name in the church at Philippi.

Whose names are in the book of life. See Barnes "Isa 4:3".

The phrase, "the book of life," which occurs here, and in Re 3:5; 13:8; 20:12,15; 21:27; 22:19, is a Jewish phrase, and refers originally to a record or catalogue of names, as the roll of an army. It then means to be among the living, as the name of an individual would be erased from a catalogue when he was deceased. The word life here refers to eternal life; and the whole phrase refers to those who were enrolled among the true friends of God, or who would certainly be saved. The use of this phrase here implies the belief of Paul that these persons were true Christians. Names that are written in the book of life will not be blotted out. If the hand of God records them there, who can obliterate them?

{*} "yokefellow" "companion"


Verse 4. Rejoice in the Lord always. See Barnes "Php 3:1".

It is the privilege of Christians to do this, not at certain periods and at distant intervals, but at all times they may rejoice that there is a God and Saviour; they may rejoice ill the character, law, and government of God—in his promises, and in communion with him. The Christian, therefore, may be, and should be, always a happy man. If everything else changes, yet the Lord does not change; if the sources of all other joy are dried up, yet this is not; and there is not a moment of a Christian's life in which he may not find joy in the character, law, and promises of God.

{a} "Rejoice in the Lord alway" Re 22:7,20


Verse 5. Let your moderation be known unto all men. That is, let it be such that others may see it. This does not mean that they were to make an ostentatious display of it, but that it should be such a characteristic of their lives that it would be constantly visible to others. The word moderation epieikev—refers to restraint on the passions, general soberness of living, being free from all excesses. The word properly means that which is fit or suitable, and then propriety, gentleness, mildness.—They were to indulge in no excess of passion, or dress, or eating, or drinking. They were to govern their appetites, restrain their temper, and to be examples of what was proper for men in view of the expectation that the Lord would soon appear.

The Lord is at hand. Is near. See Barnes "Php 3:20" See Barnes "1 Co 16:22".

This has the appearance of being a phrase in common use among the early Christians, and as being designed to keep before their minds a lively impression of an event which ought, by its anticipation, to produce an important effect. Whether, by this phrase, they commonly understood the coming of the Lord to destroy Jerusalem, or to remove them by death, or to judge the world, or to reign personally on the earth, it is impossible now to determine, and is not very material to a proper understanding of its use here. The idea is, that the expectation that the Lord Jesus will "come" ought to be allowed to produce moderation of our passions, in our manner of living, in our expectations of what this world can furnish, and in our desires of earthly good. On him who feels that he is soon to die, and to stand at the bar of God— on him who expects soon to see the Lord Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven, it cannot fail to have this effect. Men indulge their passions—are extravagant in their plans of life, and in their expectations of earthly good for themselves and for their families, because they have no realizing sense of the truth that there is before them a vast eternity. He that has a lively expectation that heaven will soon be his, will form very moderate expectations of what this world can furnish.

{b} "moderation be known" 1 Co 9:25

{c} "Lord is at hand" Re 22:7,20


Verse 6. Be careful for nothing. That is, be not anxious or solicitous about the things of the present life. The word here used—merimnate —does not mean that we are to exercise no care about worldly matters—no care to preserve our property, or to provide for our families, (1 Ti 5:8;) but that there is to be such confidence in God as to free the mind from anxiety, and such a sense of dependence on him as to keep it calm. See the subject explained See Barnes "Mt 6:25".

But in every thing. Everything in reference to the supply of your wants, and the wants of your families; everything in respect to afflictions, embarrassments, and trials: and everything relating to your spiritual condition. There ia nothing which pertains to body, mind, estate, friends, conflicts, losses, trials, hopes, fears, in reference to which we may not go and spread it all out before the Lord.

By prayer and supplication. The word rendered supplication is a stronger term than the former. It is the mode of prayer peculiarly which arises from the sense of need, or want—from deomai, to want, to need.

With thanksgiving. Thanksgiving connected with prayer. We can always find something to be thankful for, no matter what may be the burden of our wants, or the special subject of our petitions. When we pray for the supply of our wants, we may be thankful for that kind Providence which has hitherto befriended us; when we pray for restoration from sickness, we may be thankful for the health we have hitherto enjoyed, and for God's merciful interposition in the former days of trial, and for his goodness in now sparing our lives; when we pray that our children and friends may be preserved from danger and death, we may remember how often God has interposed to save them; when, oppressed with a sense of sin, we pray for pardon, we have abundant cause of thanksgiving that there is a glorious way by which we may be saved. The greatest sufferer that lives in this world of redeeming love, and who has the offer of heaven before him, has cause of gratitude.

Let your request be made known unto God. Not as if you were to give him information, but to express to him your wants. God needs not to be informed of our necessities, but he requires that we come and express them to him. Comp. Eze 36:37: "Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them."

{*} "careful" "anxious"

{d} "careful for nothing" Mt 6:25


Verse 7. And the peace of God. The peace which God gives. The peace here particularly referred to is that which is felt when we have no anxious care about the supply of our wants, and when we go confidently and commit everything into the hands of God. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee," Isa 26:3. See Barnes "Joh 14:27".

Which passeth all understanding. That is, which surpasses all that men had conceived or imagined. The expression is one that denotes that the peace imparted is of the highest possible kind. The apostle Paul frequently used terms which had somewhat of a hyperbolical cast, See Barnes "Eph 3:19" comp. Joh 21:25;) and the language here is that which one would use who designed to speak of that which was of the highest order. The Christian, committing his way to God, and feeling that he will order all things aright, has a peace which is nowhere else known. Nothing else will furnish it but religion. No confidence that a man can have in his own powers; no reliance which he can repose on his own plans or on the promises or fidelity of his fellow-men, and no calculations which he can make on the course of events, can impart such peace to the soul as simple confidence in God.

Shall keep your hearts and minds. That is, shall keep them from anxiety and agitation. The idea is, that by thus making our requests known to God, and going to him in view of all our trials and wants, the mind would be preserved from distressing anxiety. The way to find peace, and to have the heart kept from trouble, is thus to go and spread out all before the Lord. Comp. Isa 26:3,4,20; 37:1-7.

The word here rendered shall keep is a military term, and means that the mind would be guarded as a camp or castle is. It would be preserved from the intrusion of anxious fears and alarms.

Through Christ Jesus. By his agency, or intervention. It is only in him that the mind can be preserved in peace. It is not by mere confidence in God, or by mere prayer, but it is by confidence in God as he is revealed through the Redeemer, and by faith in him. Paul never lost sight of the truth, that all the security and happiness of a believer were to be traced to the Saviour.

{e} "Peace of God" Isa 26:3; Joh 14:27


Verse 8. Finally, brethren. As for what remains to loipon—, as a final counsel or exhortation.

Whatsoever things are true. In this exhortation the apostle assumes that there were certain things admitted to be true, and pure, and good, in the world, which had not been directly revealed, or which were commonly regarded as such by the men of the world; and his object is to show them that such things ought to be exhibited by the Christian. Everything that was honest and just towards God and towards men was to be practised by them, and they were in all things to be examples of the highest kind of morality. They were not to exhibit partial virtues; not to perform one set of duties to the neglect or exclusion of others; not to be faithful in their duties to God, and to neglect their duty to men; not to be punctual in their religious rites, and neglectful of the common laws of morality; but they were to do everything that could be regarded as the fair subject of commendation, and that was implied in the highest moral character. The word true refers here to everything that was the reverse of falsehood. They were to be true to their engagements; true to their promises; true in their statements; and true in their friendships. They were to maintain the truth about God; about eternity; about the judgment; and about every man's character. Truth is a representation of things as they are; and they were constantly to live under the correct impression of objects. A man who is false to his engagements, or false in his statements and promises, is one who will always disgrace religion.

Whatsoever things are honest. semna. Properly, venerable, reverend; then honourable, reputable. The word was originally used in relation to the gods, and to the things that pertained to them, as being worthy of honour or veneration. Pussow. As applied to men, it commonly means grave, dignified, worthy of veneration or regard. In the New Testament it is rendered grave in 1 Ti 3:8,11, and Tit 2:2, the only places where the word occurs except this; and the noun (semnothv) is rendered honesty in 1 Ti 2:2 and gravity in 1 Ti 3:4; Tit 2:7. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The word, therefore, does not express precisely what the word honest does with us, as confined to dealings or business transactions, but rather has reference to what was regarded as worthy of reputation or honour; what there was in the customs of society, in the respect due to age and rank, and in the intercourse of the world, that deserved respect or esteem. It includes indeed what is right in the transaction of business, but it embraces also much more, and means that the Christian is to show respect to all the venerable and proper customs of society, when they did not violate conscience or interfere with the law of God. Comp. 1 Ti 3:7.

Whatsoever things are just. The things which are right between man and man. A Christian should be just in all his dealings. His religion does not exempt him from the strict laws which bind men to the exercise of this virtue, and there is no way by which a professor of religion can do more injury, perhaps, than by injustice and dishonesty in his dealings. It is to be remembered, that the men of the world, in estimating a man's character, affix much more importance to the virtues of justice and honesty than they do to regularity in observing the ordinances of religion; and therefore, if a Christian would make an impression on his fellow-men favourable to religion, it is indispensable that he manifest uncorrupted integrity in his dealings.

Whatsoever things are pure. Chaste—in thought, and feeling, and in the intercourse between the sexes. See Barnes "1 Ti 5:2".

Whatsoever things are lovely. The word here used means, properly, what is dear to any one; then what is pleasing. Here it means what is amiable—such a temper of mind that one can love it; or such as to be agreeable to others. A Christian should not be sour, crabbed, and irritable in his temper for nothing almost tends so much to injure the cause of religion as a temper always chafed; a brow morose and stern; an eye that is severe and unkind, and a disposition to find fault with everything. And yet it is to be regretted that there are many persons, who make no pretensions to piety, who far surpass many professors of religion in the virtue here commended. A sour and crabbed temper in a professor of religion will undo all the good that he attempts to do.

Whatsoever things are of good report. That is, whatsoever is truly reputable in the world at large. There are actions which all men agree in commending, and which in all ages and countries are regarded as virtues. Courtesy, urbanity, kindness, respect for parents, purity between brothers and sisters, are among those virtues—and the Christian should be a pattern and an example in them all. His usefulness depends much more on the cultivation of these virtues than is commonly supposed.

If there be any virtue. If there is anything truly virtuous. Paul did not suppose that he had given a full catalogue of the virtues which he would have cultivated. He therefore adds, that if there was anything else that had the nature of true virtue in it, they should be careful to cultivate that also. The Christian should be a pattern and example of every virtue.

And if there be any praise. Anything worthy of praise, or that ought to be praised.

Think on these things. Let them be the object of your careful attention and study, so as to practise them. Think what they are; think on the obligation to observe them; think on the influence which they would have on the world around you.

{f} "true" Eph 4:25

{1} "honest" "venerable"

{g} "honest" 2 Co 8:21

{a} "just" De 16:20; Isa 26:7

{b} "pure" Jas 3:17

{c} "lovely" 1 Co 13 {d} "if there be any virtue" Col 4:5; Heb 11:2

{e} "virtue" 2 Pe 1:3,4

{f} "praise" Ro 13:3


Verse 9. Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do. That is, what you have witnessed in me, and what you have learned of me, and what you have heard about me, practise yourselves. Paul refers them to his uniform conduct—to all that they had seen, and known, and heard of him, as that which it was proper for them to imitate. The same thing, substantially, he urges in Php 3:17. See Barnes "Php 3:1".

It could have been only the consciousness of a pure and upright life which would make such counsel proper. How few are the men at this day who can urge others to imitate all that they have seen in them, and learned from them, and heard of them.

And the God of peace shall be with you. The God who gives peace. Comp. Heb 13:20; 1 Th 5:23. See Barnes "Php 4:7".

The meaning here is, that Paul, by pursuing the course of life which he had led, and which he here counsels them to follow, had found that it had been attended with the blessing of the God of peace, and he felt the fullest assurance that the same blessing would rest on them if they imitated his example. The way to obtain the blessing of the God of peace is to lead a holy life, and to perform with faithfulness all the duties which we owe to God and to our fellow-men.

{g} "God of peace" Heb 13:20


Verse 10. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly. The favour which Paul had received, and for which he felt so much gratitude, had been received of the Philippians; but he regarded "the Lord" as the source of it, and rejoiced in it as the expression of his kindness. The effect was to lead his heart with cheerfulness and joy up to God.

That now at the last. After so long a time. The reason why he had not before received the favour, was not neglect or inattention on their part, but the difficulty of having communication with him.

Your care of me hath flourished again. In the margin this is rendered, "is revived," and this is the proper meaning of the Greek word. It is a word properly applicable to plants or flowers, meaning to grow green again; to flourish again; to spring up again. Here the meaning is, that they had been again prospered in their care of him, and to Paul it seemed as if their care had sprung up anew.

Wherein ye were also careful. That is, they were desirous to render him assistance, and to minister to his wants. Paul adds this, lest they should think he was disposed to blame them for inattention.

But ye lacked opportunity. Because there were no persons going to Rome from Philippi by whom they could send to him. The distance was considerable, and it is not probable that the intercourse between the two places was very constant.

{1} "hath flourished" "is revived"

{*} "lacked" "wanted"

{h} "opportunity" 2 Co 11:9


Verse 11. Not that I speak in respect of want. Though Paul was, doubtless, often in circumstances of necessity, yet he did not make these remarks on that account. In his journeys, in his imprisonments, he could not but be at times in want; but he had learned to bear all this; and that which most impressed itself on his mind was the interest which the church ought to show in the cause of religion, and the evidence which it would thus furnish of attachment to the cause. As to his own personal trials, he had learned to bear them, so that they did not give him great uneasiness.

For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. That is, to have a contented mind. Paul says that he had "learned" this. Probably, by nature, he had a mind as prone to impatience as others, but he had been in circumstances fitted to produce a different state of feeling. He had had ample experience, (2 Co 11:26,) and, in his life of trials, he had acquired invaluable lessons on the subject. He had had abundant time for reflection, and he had found that there was grace enough in the gospel to enable him to bear trials with resignation. The considerations by which he had been taught this he does not state; but they were probably such as the following: that it is wrong to murmur at the allotments of Providence; that a spirit of impatience does no good, remedies no evil, and supplies no want; that God could provide for him in a way which he could not foresee, and that the Saviour was able abundantly to sustain him. A contented mind is an invaluable blessing, and is one of the fruits of religion in the soul. It arises from the belief that God is right in all his ways. Why should we be impatient, restless, discontented? What evil will be remedied by it? what want supplied? what calamity removed? "He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast," Pro 15:15; and one of the secrets of happiness is to have a mind satisfied with all the allotments of Providence. The members of the Episcopal church beautifully pray, every day, "Give us minds always contented with our present condition." No prayer can be offered which will enter more deeply into all our happiness on earth.

{i} "content" Heb 13:5


Verse 12. I know both how to be abased. To be in circumstances of want.

And I know how to abound. To have an abundance. He had been in circumstances where he had an ample supply for all his wants, and knew what it was to have enough. It requires as much grace to keep the heart right in prosperity as it does in adversity, and perhaps more. Adversity, of itself, does something to keep the mind in a right state; prosperity does nothing.

Every where and in all things. In all my travels and imprisonments, and in reference to everything that occurs, I learn important lessons on these points.

I am instructed. The word here used memuhmai — is one that is commonly used in relation to mysteries, and denoted being instructed in the secret doctrines that were taught in the ancient "mysteries." Passow. In those mysteries, it was only the "initiated" who were made acquainted with the lessons that were taught there. Paul says that he had been initiated into the lessons taught by trials and by prosperity. The secret and important lessons which these schools of adversity are fitted to teach he had had an ample opportunity of learning; and he had faithfully embraced the doctrines thus taught.

Both to be full. That is, he had learned to have an ample supply of his wants, and yet to observe the laws of temperance and soberness, and to cherish gratitude for the mercies which he had enjoyed.

And to be hungry. That is, to be in circumstances of want, and yet not to murmur or complain. He had learned to bear all this without discontent. This was then, as it is now, no easy lesson to learn; and it is not improper to suppose that, when Paul says that he had "been instructed" in this, even he means to say that it was only by degrees that he had acquired it. It is a lesson which we slowly learn, not to murmur at the allotments of Providence; not to be envious at the prosperity of others; not to repine when our comforts are removed. There may be another idea suggested here. The condition of Paul was not always the same. He passed through great reveries. At one time he had abundance; then he was reduced to want; now he was in a state which might be regarded as affluent; then he was brought down to extreme poverty. Yesterday, he was poor and hungry; today, all his necessities are supplied. Now, it is in these sudden reverses that grace is most needed, and in these rapid changes of life that it is most difficult to learn the lessons of calm contentment. Men get accustomed to an even tenor of life, no matter what it is, and learn to shape theft temper and their calculations according to it. But these lessons of philosophy vanish when they pass suddenly from one extreme to another, and find their condition of life suddenly changed. The garment that was adapted to weather of an uniform temperature, whether of heat or cold, fails to be fitted to our wants when these transitions rapidly succeed each other. Such changes are constantly occurring in life. God tries his people, not by a steady course of prosperity, or by long-continued and uniform adversity, but by transition from the one to the other; and it often happens that the grace which would have been sufficient for either continued prosperity or adversity would fail in the transition from the one to the other. Hence, new grace is imparted for this new form of trial, and new traits of Christian character are developed in these rapid transitions in life, as some of the most beautiful exhibitions of the laws of matter are brought out in the transitions produced in chemistry. The rapid changes from heat to cold, or from a solid to a gaseous state, develop properties before unknown, and acquaint us much more intimately with the wonderful works of God. The gold or the diamond, unsubjected to the action of intense heat, and to the changes produced by the powerful agents brought to bear on them, might have continued to shine with steady beauty and brilliancy; but we should never have witnessed the peculiar beauty and brilliancy which may be produced in rapid chemical Changes. And so there is many a beautiful trait of character which would never have been known by either continued prosperity or adversity. There might have been always a beautiful exhibition of virtue and piety, but not that peculiar manifestation which is produced in the transitions from the one to the other.

{*} "need" "want"


Verse 13. I can do all things. From the experience which Paul had in these various circumstances of life, he comes here to the general conclusion that he could "do all things." He could bear any trial, perform any duty, subdue any evil propensity of his nature, and meet all the temptations incident to any condition of prosperity or adversity. His own experience in the various changes of life had warranted him in arriving at this conclusion; and he now expresses the firm confidence that nothing would be required of him which he would not be able to perform. In Paul, this declaration was not a vain self-reliance, nor was it the mere result of his former experience. He knew well where the strength was to be obtained by which to do all things, and on that arm that was able to uphold him he confidently relied.

Through Christ which strengtheneth me. See Barnes "Joh 15:5".

Of the strength which Christ can impart Paul had had abundant experience; and now his whole reliance was there. It was not in any native ability which he had; not in any rigour of body or of mind; not in any power which there was in his own resolutions; it was in the strength that he derived from the Redeemer. By that he was enabled to bear cold, fatigue, and hunger; by that he met temptations and persecutions; and by that he engaged in the performance of his arduous duties. Let us learn hence,

(1.) that we need not sink under any trial, for there is One who can strengthen us.

(2.) That we need not yield to temptation: there is One who is able to make a way for our escape.

(3.) That we need not be harassed, and vexed, and tortured with improper thoughts and unholy desires: there is One who can enable us to banish such thoughts from the mind, and restore the right balance to the affections of the soul.

(4.) That We need not dread what is to come. Trials, temptations, poverty, want, persecution, may await us; but we need not sink into despondency. At every step of life, Christ is able to strengthen us, and can bring us triumphantly through. What a privilege it is, therefore, to be a Christian—to feel, in the trials of life, that we have one Friend, unchanging and most mighty, who can always help us! How cheerfully should we engage in our duties, and meet the trials that are before us, leaning on the arm of our Almighty Redeemer ! Let us not shrink from duty; let us not dread persecution; let us not fear the bed of death. In all circumstances, Christ, our unchanging Friend, can uphold us. Let the eye and the affections of the heart be fixed on him; let the simple, fervent, believing prayer be directed always to him when trials come, when temptations assail, when duty presses hard upon us, and when a crowd of unholy and forbidden thoughts rush into the soul, and we shall be safe.

{a} "through Christ" Joh 15:5; 2 Co 12:9


Verse 14. Notwithstanding ye have well done. Though he had learned the grace of contentment, and though he knew that Christ could enable him to do all things, it was well for them to show sympathy for his sufferings; for it evinced a proper regard for a benefactor and an apostle.

Ye did communicate. You took part with my affliction. That is, you sympathized with me, and assisted me in bearing it. The relief which they had sent not only supplied his wants, but it sustained him by the certainty that he was not forgotten.

{+} "with my affliction" "Have jointly contributed to relieve"


Verse 15. In the beginning of the Gospel. "At the time when I first preached the gospel to you; or when the gospel began its benign influence on your hearts."

When I departed from Macedonia. See Ac 17:14. The last place that Paul visited in Macedonia, at that time, was Berea. There a tumult was excited by the Jews, and it was necessary for him to go away. He left Macedonia to go to Athens; and left it in haste, amidst scenes of persecution, and when he needed sympathizing aid. At that time, as well as when he was in Thessalonica, Ac 17:1-10, he needed the assistance of others to supply his wants; and he says that aid was not withheld. The meaning here is, that this aid was sent to him "as he was departing from Macedonia;" that is, alike in Thessalonica and afterwards. This was about twelve years before this epistle was written. Doddridge.

No church communicated with me. No church so participated with me in my sufferings and necessities as to send to my relief. Comp. 2 Co 11:8,9. Why they did not, Paul does not intimate. It is not necessary to suppose that he meant to blame them. They might not have been acquainted with his necessities. All that is implied here is, that he specially commends the Philippians for their attention to him.

{b} "no church" 2 Co 11:8,9

{++} "communicated" "had intercourse"


Verse 16. For even in Thessalonica. See Barnes "Ac 17:1".

Paul remained there long enough to establish a flourishing church. He met, indeed, with much opposition and persecution there; and hence it was necessary that his wants should be supplied by others.


Verse 17. Not because I desire a gift. "The reason why I rejoice in the reception of what you have sent to me is not that I am covetous." From the interest with which he had spoken of their attention to him, some might, perhaps, be disposed to say that it arose from this cause, he says, therefore, that, grateful as he was for the favour which he had received, his chief interest in it arose from the fact that it would contribute ultimately to their own good. It showed that they were governed by Christian principle, and this would not fail to be rewarded. What Paul states here is by no means impossible, though it may not be very common. In the reception of favours from others, it is practicable to rejoice in them mainly, because their bestowment will be a means of good to the benefactor himself. All our selfish feelings and gratifications may be absorbed and lost in the superior joy which we have in seeing others actuated by a right spirit, and in the belief that they will be rewarded. This feeling is one of the fruits of Christian kindness. It is that which leads us to look away from self, and to rejoice in every evidence that others will be made happy.

I desire fruit. The word "fruit" is often used in the Scriptures, as elsewhere, to denote results, or that which is produced. Thus we speak of punishment as the fruit of sin, poverty as the fruit of idleness, and happiness as the fruit of a virtuous life. The language is taken from the fact, that a man reaps or gathers the fruit or result of that which he plants.

To your account, A phase taken from commercial dealings. The apostle wished that it might be set down to their credit, he desired that, when they came to appear before God, they might reap the benefit of all the acts of kindness which they had shown him.


Verse 18. But I have all. Marg., "or, have received." The phrase here is equivalent to, "I have received everything. I have all I want, and desire no more." He was entirely satisfied. What they had sent to him is, of course, now unknown. It is sufficient to know that it was of such a nature as to make his situation comfortable.

I am full. I have enough. This is a strong expression, denoting that by nothing was lacking.

Having received of Epaphroditus. See Barnes "Php 2:25".

An odour of a sweet smell. This does not mean that it was such an odour to Paul, but to God. He regarded it as an offering which they had made to God himself; and he was persuaded that he would regard it as acceptable to him. They had doubtless made the offering, not merely from personal friendship for Paul, but because he was a minister of Christ, and from love to his cause; and Paul felt assured that this offering would be acceptable to him. Comp. Mt 10:41,42. The word "odour" refers, properly, to the pleasant fragrance produced in the temple by the burning of incense. See Barnes "Lu 1:9".

On the meaning of the word rendered "a sweet smell" euwdia— See Barnes "2 Co 2:15".

The whole language here is taken from an act of worship; and the apostle regarded what he had received from the Philippians as, in fact, a thank-offering to God, and as presented with the spirit of true devotion to him. It was not, indeed, a formal act of worship; but it was acceptable to God as an expression of their regard for his cause.

A sacrifice acceptable. Acceptable to God. Heb 13:16. See Barnes "Ro 12:1".

Well-pleasing to God. Because it evinced a regard for true religion. Learn hence,

(1.) that kindness done to the ministers of the gospel is regarded as an acceptable offering to God.

(2.) That kindness to the servants of God in distress and want is as well-pleasing to God as direct acts of worship.

(3.) That such acts of benevolence are evidences of attachment to the cause of religion, and are proofs of genuine piety. See Barnes "Mt 10:42".

{1} "have all" "have received"

{a} "sacrifice acceptable" Heb 13:16


Verse 19. But my God shall supply all your need. That is, "You have shown your regard for me as a friend of God, by sending to me in my distress, and I have confidence that, in return for all this, God will supply all your wants when you are in circumstances of necessity." Paul's confidence in this seems not to have been founded on any express revelation; but on the general principle that God would regard their offering with favour. Nothing is lost, even in the present life, by doing good. In thousands of instances it is abundantly repaid. The benevolent are not usually poor; and if they are, God often raises up for them benefactions, and sends supplies in a manner as unexpected, and bearing proofs of Divine interposition as decided, as when supplies were sent by the ravens to the prophet.

According to his riches in glory, See Barnes "Eph 3:16".

The word "riches" here means his abundant fulness; his possessing all things; his inexhaustible ability to supply their wants. The phrase, "in glory," is probably to be connected with the following phrase, "by Christ Jesus;" and means that the method of imparting supplies to men was through Jesus Christ, and was a glorious method; or, that it was done in a glorious manner. It is such an expression as Paul is accustomed to use when speaking of what God does. He is not satisfied with saying simply that it is so; but connects with it the idea that whatever God does is done in a way worthy of himself, and so as to illustrate his own perfections.

By Christ Jesus. By the medium of Christ; or through him. All the favours that Paul expected for himself, or his fellowmen, he believed would be conferred through the Redeemer. Even the supply of our temporal wants comes to us through the Saviour. Were it not for the atonement, there is no more reason, to suppose that blessings would be conferred on men than that they would be on fallen angels. For them no atonement has been made; and at the hand of justice they have received only wretchedness and woe.

{b} "supply all your" Ps 23:1

{*} "need" "wants"

{c} "riches in glory"


Verse 20. Now unto God and our Father, etc. See Barnes "Ro 16:27".

It was common for Paul to address such an ascription of praise to God, at the close of his epistles.

{d} "unto God" Ro 16:27

{+} "Father" "Our God and Father"


Verse 21. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. It was usual for him also to close his epistles with affectionate salutations to various members of the churches to which he wrote. These salutations are generally specific, and mention the names, particularly if prominent members of the churches. See the close of the epistles to the Romans; 1Corinthians; Colossians; and 2 Timothy. In this epistle, however, as in some others, the salutation is general. Why none are specified in particular is not certainly known.

The brethren which are with me, etc. The word "brethren" here probably refers to ministers that were with Paul, as the "saints" in general are mentioned in the next verse. It is possible that at Rome the ministers were known by the general name of the brethren. —Pierce.


Verse 22. All the saints salute you. All in Rome, where this epistle was written. No individuals are specified, perhaps because none of the Christians at Rome were personally known to the church at Philippi. They would, however, feel a deep interest in a church which had thus the confidence and affection of Paul. There is reason to believe that the bonds of affection among the churches then were much stronger than they are now. There was a generous warmth in the newness of the Christian affections the first ardour of love; and the common trials to which they were exposed would serve to bind them closely together.

Chiefly they that are of Caesar's household. That is, of Nero, who was at that time the reigning emperor. The name Caesar was given to all the emperors after the time of Julius Caesar, as the name Pharaoh was the common name of the kings of Egypt. The phrase here used—"the household of Caesar"—may refer to the relatives of the emperor; and it is certainly possible that some of them may have been converted to Christianity. But it does not of necessity refer to those related to him, but may be applied to his domestics, or to some of the officers of the court that were more particularly employed around his person and as it is more probable that some of them would be converted than his own relatives, it is more safe to suppose that they were intended. See Barnes "Php 1:13".


Verse 23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, etc. See Barnes "Ro 16:20".

In regard to the subscription at the end of this epistle it may be remarked, as has been done of the other subscriptions at the end of the epistles, that it is of no authority whatever. There is no reason, however, to doubt that in this case it is correct. The epistle bears internal evidence of having been written from Rome, and was doubtless sent by Epaphroditus. See the Intro., § 3. There is considerable variety in the subscription. The Greek is, "It was written to the Philippians from Rome by Epaphroditus." The Syriac, "The epistle to the Philippians was written from Rome, and sent by Epaphroditus." The AEthiopic, "To the Philippians, by Timothy."


The principal lessons taught in this dosing chapter are the following:—

(1.) It is our duty to be firm in the Lord, in all the trials, temptations, and persecutions to which we may be exposed, Php 4:1. This duty should be pressed on Christians by their teachers, and by each other, by all that is tender and sacred in the Christian profession, and all that is endearing in Christian friendship. Like Paul, we should appeal to others as "brethren dearly beloved and longed for; "and by all their affection for us we should entreat them to be steadfast in the Christian profession. As their "joy and crown," also, ministers should desire that their people should be holy. Their own happiness and reward is to be closely connected with the firmness with which their people maintain the principles of the Christian faith. If Christians, therefore, wish to impart the highest joy to their religious teachers, and to exalt them as high as possible m future happiness and glory, they should strive to be faithful to their great Master, and to be steadfast in attachment to his cause.

(2.) It is the duty of those who have from any cause been alienated, to seek to be reconciled, Php 4:2. They should be of the same mind. Almost nothing does more to hinder the cause of religion than alienations and bickerings among its professed friends. It is possible for them to live in harmony, and to be of the same mind in the Lord; and such is the importance of this, that it well deserves to be enforced by apostolic authority and persuasion. It may be observed, also, that in the case referred to in this chapter—that of Euodias and Syntyche—the exhortation to reconciliation is addressed to both. Which was in the wrong, or whether both were is not intimated, and is not needful for us to know. It is enough to know that there was alienation, and both of them were exhorted to see that the quarrel was made up. So, in all cases where members of the church are at variance it is the business of both parties to seek to be reconciled, and neither party is right if he waits for the other before he moves in the matter. If you feel that you have been injured, go and tell your brother kindly wherein you think he has done you wrong, he may at once explain the matter, and show that you have misunderstood it, or he may make proper confession or restitution. Or, if he will do neither, you will have done your duty, Mt 18:15. If you are conscious that you have injured him, then nothing is more proper than that you should go and make confession. The blame of the quarrel rests wholly on you. And if some meddling third person has got up the quarrel between you, then go and see your brother, and disappoint the devices of the enemy of religion.

(3.) It is our duty and our privilege to rejoice in the Lord always, Php 4:4. As God is unchanging, we may always find joy in him. The character of God which we loved yesterday, and in the contemplation of which we found happiness then, is the same to-day, and its contemplation will furnish the same joy to us now. His promises are the same; his government is the same; his readiness to impart consolation is the same; the support which he can give in trial and temptation is the same. Though in our own hearts we may find much over which to mourn, yet when we look away from ourselves we may find abundant sources of consolation and peace. The Christian, therefore, may be always happy. If he will look to God, and not to himself—-to heaven, and not to earth— he will find permanent and substantial sources of enjoyment. But in nothing else than God can we rejoice always. Our friends, in whom we find comfort, are taken away; the property that we thought would make us happy, fails to do so; and pleasures that we thought would satisfy, pall upon the sense and make us wretched. No man can be permanently happy who does not make THE LORD the source of joy, and who does not expect to find his chief pleasure in him.

(4.) It is a privilege to be permitted to go and commit everything to God, Php 4:6,7. The mind may be in such a state that it shall feel no anxiety about anything. We may feel so certain that God will supply all our wants; that he will bestow upon us all that is really necessary for us in this life and the next, and that he will withhold from us nothing which it is not for our real good to have withheld, that the mind may be constantly in a state of peace. With a thankful heart for all the mercies which we have enjoyed —and in all cases they are many—we may go and commit ourselves to God for all that we need hereafter. Such is the privilege of religion; such an advantage is it to be a Christian. Such a state of mind will be followed by peace. And it is only in such a way that true peace can be found. In every other method there will be agitation of mind and deep anxiety. If we have not this confidence in God, and this readiness to go and commit all to him, we shall be perplexed with the cares of this life; losses and disappointments will harass us; the changes which occur will weary and wear out our spirits; and through life we shall be tossed as on a restless ocean.

(5.) It is the duty of Christians to be upright in every respect Php 4:8. Every friend of the Redeemer should be a man of incorruptible and unsuspected integrity. He should be one who can always be depended on to do what is right, and pure, and true, and lovely. I know not that there is a more important verse in the New Testament than the eighth verse of this chapter. It deserves to be recorded in letters of gold in the dwelling of every Christian, and it would be well if it could be made to shine on his way as if written in characters of living light. There should be no virtue, no truth, no noble plan of benevolence, no pure and holy undertaking in society, of which the Christian should not be, according to his ability, the patron and the friend. The reasons are obvious. It is not only because this is in accordance with the law of God, but it is from its effect on the community. The people of the world judge of religion by the character of its professed friends. It is not from what they hear in the pulpit, or learn from the Bible, or from treatises on divinity; it is from what they see in the lives of those who profess to follow Christ. They mark the expression of the eye; the curl of the lip; the words that we speak; and if they perceive peevishness and irritability, they set it down to the credit of religion. They watch the conduct, the temper and disposition, the manner of doing business, the respect which a man has for truth, the way in which he keeps his promises, and set it all down to the credit of religion. If a professed Christian fails in any one of these things, he dishonours religion, and neutralizes all the good which he might otherwise do. It is not only the man in the church who is untrue, and dishonest, and unjust, and unlovely in him temper, that does evil; it is he who is either false, or dishonest, or unjust, or unlovely in his temper. One evil propensity will neutralize all that is good; and one member of the church who fails to lead a moral and upright life will do much to neutralize all the good that can be done by all the rest of the church. Comp. Ec 10:1.

(6.) It is the duty of Christians to show kindness to the ministers of the gospel, especially in times and circumstances of want, Php 4:10,14-17.

Paul commended much what the Philippians had done for him. Yet they had done no more than they ought to do. See 1 Co 9:11. He had established the gospel among them, carrying it to them by great personal sacrifice and self-denial. What he had done for them had cost him much more than what they had done for him and was of much more value. He had been in want. He was a prisoner; among strangers; incapable of exerting himself for his own support; not in a situation to minister to his own wants, as he had often done by tent-making; and in these circumstances he needed the sympathizing aid of friends, he was not a man to be voluntarily dependent on others, or to be at any time a burden to them. But circumstances beyond his control had made it necessary for others to supply his wants. The Philippians nobly responded to his claims on them, and did all that he could ask. Their conduct is a good example for other Christians to imitate in their treatment of the ministers of the gospel. Ministers now are often in want. They become old, and are unable to labour; they are sick, and cannot render the service which they have been accustomed to; their families are afflicted, and they have not the means of providing for them comfortably in sickness. It is to be remembered, also, that such cases often happen where a minister has spent the best part of his life in the service of a people; where he has devoted his most vigorous days to their welfare; where he has been unable to lay up anything for sickness or old age; where he may have abandoned what would have been a lucrative calling in life, for the purpose of preaching the gospel. If there ever is a claim on the generosity of a people, his case is one; and there is no debt of gratitude which a people ought more cheerfully to pay than that of providing for the wants of an aged or an afflicted and disabled servant of Christ, who has spent his best years in endeavouring to train them and their children up for heaven. Yet, it cannot be denied that great injustice is often done in such cases. The poor beast that has served a man and his family in the days of his rigour is often turned out in old age to die; and something like this sometimes occurs in the treatment of ministers of the gospel. The conduct of a people, generous in many other respects, is often unaccountable in their treatment of their pastors; and one of the lessons which ministers often have to learn, like their Master, by bitter experience, is the ingratitude of those for whose welfare they have toiled, and prayed, and wept.

(7.) Let us learn to be contented with our present condition, Php 4:11,12. Paul learned this lesson. It is not a native state of mind. It is a lesson to be acquired by experience. By nature we are all restless and impatient; we are reaching after things that we have not, and often after things that we cannot and ought not to have. We are envious of the condition of others, and suppose that if we had what they have we should be happy. Yet, if we have right feelings, we shall always find enough in our present condition to make us contented. Ye shall have such confidence in the arrangements of Providence as to feel that things are ordered for the best. If we are poor, and persecuted, and in want, or are prostrated by sickness, we shall feel that there is some good reason why this is so arranged—though the reason may not be known to us. If we are benevolent, as we ought to be, we shall be willing that others shall be made happy by what they possess, instead of coveting it for ourselves, and desiring to wrest it from them. If we are disposed to estimate our mercies, and not to give up our minds to a spirit of complaining, we shall see enough around us to make us contented. Paul was a prisoner; he was poor; he was among strangers; he had neither wife nor children; he was about to be tried for his life, and probably put to death—yet he learned to be content. He had a good conscience; the hope of heaven; a sound intellect; a heart disposed to do good, and confidence in God—and why should a man in such circumstances murmur? Says Jeremy Taylor, "Am I fallen into the hands of publicans and sequestrators, who have taken all from me? What now? Let me look about me. They have left me the sun and moon, fire and water, a loving wife, and many friends to pity me, and some to relieve me, and I can still discourse; and unless I list, they have not taken away my merry countenance, and a cheerful spirit, and a good conscience; they still have left me the providence of God, and all the promises of the gospel, and my religion, and my hopes of heaven, and my charity to them too; and still I sleep and digest; I eat and drink; I read and meditate; I can walk in my neighbour's pleasant fields and see the varieties of natural beauties, and delight in all in which God delights-that is, in virtue, and wisdom, in the whole creation, and in God himself. And he who hath so many causes of joy, and so great, is very much in love with sorrow and peevishness who loses all these pleasures, and chooses to sit down upon his little handful of thorns." Holy living, chap. ii. & vi. Let the whole of this section "on Contentedness" be read. It is one of the most beautiful arguments for contentment that ever proceeded from uninspired lips.

(8.) In all these things; in all the duties and the trials of life; in all our efforts to meet temptation, and to cultivate contentment with our present condition, let us put our trust in the Saviour, Php 4:13. Paul said that he could "do all things through Christ who strengthened him." His strength was there; ours is there also. If we attempt these things, relying on our own strength, we shall certainly fail. The bad passions of our nature will get the ascendancy, and we shall be left to discontent and murmuring. The arm that is to uphold us is that of the Redeemer; and, relying on that, we shall find no duty so arduous that we may not be able to perform it; no temptation so formidable that we may not be able to meet it; no trial so great that we may not be able to bear it; no situation in life through which we may be called to pass, where we may not find contentment and peace. And may God of his rich mercy give to each one who shall read these Notes on this beautiful epistle to the Philippians, abundant grace thus to confide in the Saviour, and to practise all the duties so tenderly enjoined on the Philippian Christians, and on us, by this illustrious prisoner in the cause of Christ.


The apostle Paul has many allusions to these games in his epistles, but especially in the third chapter of this epistle, in which his eye is evidently fixed upon the exercise of running.

dromov—dromos— or the exercise of running, was in great esteem amongst the ancient Grecians, insomuch that such as prepared themselves for it thought it worth their while to use means to burn or parch their spleen, because it was believed to be an hindrance to then, and retard them in their course. Homer tells us that swiftness is one of the most excellent endowments a man can be blessed withal. —Oyyss. v. 147, which is thus in the translation,

No greater honour has been e'er attained
Than what strong hands or nimble feet have gained

Indeed, all those exercises that conduced to fit men for war, were more especially valued. Now, swiftness was looked upon as an excellent qualification in a warrior, both because it serves for a sudden assault and onset, and likewise for a nimble retreat; and, therefore, it is not to be wondered that the constat character which Homer gives of Achilles is, that he was podav wkuv, or swift of foot. And in the holy Scripture, David, in his poetical lamentation over these two great captains, Saul and Jonathan, take particular notice of this warlike quality of theirs. "They were," says he, "swifter than eagles, stronger than lions!"

Racing may be traced back to the earliest period of Grecian antiquity, and may be regarded as the first friendly contest in which men engaged. Accordingly, the Olympic and Pythain, probably also the other games, opened with foot-races, Foot-racing, perfected by systematic practice, was divided into different kinds, If you ran merely to the end of the course, (stadion) it was called stadium; if you went thither and back, you ran the double course diaulov.

The longest course was dolicov—dolichos—which required extraordinary speed and power of endurance. Suidas assigns twenty-four stadia to the dolicov, and others only twelve; but the measure of it seems not to have been fixed or determinate, but variable at pleasure. Sometimes they ran back again to the place whence they at first set out, and sometimes they ran in armour. The lengths above mentioned have even been increased tot he number of four and twenty times over the stadium. This, it must be understood, was a large semi-circle of about one hundred and twenty-five geometrical paces long, which it derived the name stadium, it being a measure ordinarily used among the Greeks, being the eighth part of a Roman mile. These lengths will give some idea of the severity of the trial, and serve to illustrate the meaning of the apostle, when he speaks of running with patience in the race. Indeed, one Ladas, a victor at the Olympic games in the dolicov,] or long race, was so exhausted by his efforts, that immediately on gaining the honour and being crowned, he yielded up his breath: a fact which also serves to throw light on the Scripture language, as showing with what intense eagerness these aspirants strove for the perishing chaplets. In the preparatory discipline, everything was done that could conduce to swiftness and strength. The training was severe, and the exercises were performed with the body naked and well oiled. The contest was generally most severe: to reach the goal sooner by one foot was enough to decide the victory. The competitors employed all their ability, and displayed the greatest eagerness to gain the prize. The nearer, too, they approached to the goal, the more did they increase their efforts. Sometimes the victory depended upon a final spring; and happy he that retained enough power to leap first to the goal.

For these remarks the reader is indebted to Potter's Archeologia Graeca and Kitto's Cyclopaedia of biblical Literature — Editor.

End of Barnes Notes on Philippians.

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