Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
THANKS FOR THE
1. "Wherefore"; since we have such a glorious hope
(Php 3:20, 21).
dearly beloved--repeated again at the close of the verse, implying that
his great love to them should be a motive to their obedience.
longed for--"yearned after" in your absence
crown--in the day of the Lord
so--as I have admonished you.
2. Euodia and Syntyche were two women who seem to have been at
variance; probably deaconesses of the church. He repeats, "I beseech,"
as if he would admonish each separately, and with the utmost
in the Lord--the true element of Christian union; for those "in the
Lord" by faith to be at variance, is an utter inconsistency.
3. And--Greek, "Yea."
true yoke-fellow--yoked with me in the same Gospel yoke
(Mt 11:29, 30;
1Ti 5:17, 18).
Either Timothy, Silas
(Ac 15:40; 16:19,
at Philippi), or the chief bishop of Philippi. Or else the
Greek, "Sunzugus," or "Synzygus," is a proper
name: "Who art truly, as thy name means, a yoke-fellow."
Certainly not Paul's wife, as
implies he had none.
help those women--rather, as Greek, "help them," namely,
Euodia and Syntyche. "Co-operate with them" [BIRKS]; or as
in the work of their reconciliation."
which laboured with me--"inasmuch as they labored with me." At
Philippi, women were the first hearers of the Gospel, and Lydia the
first convert. It is a coincidence which marks genuineness, that in this
Epistle alone, special instructions are given to women who labored with
Paul in the Gospel. In selecting the first teachers, those first
converted would naturally be fixed on. Euodia and Syntyche were
doubtless two of "the women who resorted to the riverside, where prayer
was wont to be made"
and being early converted, would naturally take an active part in
teaching other women called at a later period; of course not in public
preaching, but in a less prominent sphere
(1Ti 2:11, 12).
Clement--bishop of Rome shortly after the death of Peter and Paul.
His Epistle from the Church of Rome to the Church of Corinth is extant.
It makes no mention of the supremacy of the See of Peter. He was the
most eminent of the apostolical fathers. ALFORD thinks that the Clement
here was a Philippian, and not necessarily Clement, bishop of Rome.
But ORIGEN [Commentary, John 1:29] identifies the Clement here with
the bishop of Rome.
in the book of life--the register-book of those whose "citizenship
is in heaven"
Anciently, free cities had a roll book containing the names of all
those having the right of citizenship (compare
Re 20:12; 21:27).
alway--even amidst the afflictions now distressing you
again--as he had already said, "Rejoice"
Joy is the predominant feature of the Epistle.
I say--Greek, rather, "I will say."
5. moderation--from a Greek root, "to yield," whence
yieldingness [TRENCH]; or from a root, "it
is fitting," whence "reasonableness of dealing" [ALFORD], that considerateness for others, not urging
one's own rights to the uttermost, but waiving a part, and thereby
rectifying the injustices of justice. The archetype of this grace is
God, who presses not the strictness of His law against us as we deserve
(Ps 130:3, 4);
though having exacted the fullest payment for us from our Divine
Surety. There are included in "moderation," candor and
kindliness. Joy in the Lord raises us above rigorism towards
as to one's own affairs. Sadness produces morose harshness
towards others, and a troublesome spirit in ourselves.
Let . . . be known--that is, in your conduct to
others, let nothing inconsistent with "moderation" be seen. Not a
precept to make a display of moderation. Let this grace "be
known" to men in acts; let "your requests be made to God" in
unto all men--even to the "perverse"
that so ye may win them. Exercise "forbearance" even to your
persecutors. None is so ungracious as not to be kindly to someone, from
some motive or another, on some occasion; the believer is to be so
"unto all men" at all times.
The Lord is at
hand--The Lord's coming again speedily is the grand motive to every
(Jas 5:8, 9).
Harshness to others (the opposite of "moderation") would be taking into
our own hands prematurely the prerogatives of judging, which belongs to
the Lord alone
and so provoking God to judge us by the strict letter of the law
(Jas 2:12, 13).
6. Translate, "Be anxious about nothing." Care and prayer are as
mutually opposed as fire and water [BENGEL].
by prayer and supplication--Greek, "by the prayer
and the supplication" appropriate to each case [ALFORD]. Prayer for blessings; and the general
term. Supplication, to avert ills; a special term, suppliant
entreaty (see on
thanksgiving--for every event, prosperity and affliction alike
The Philippians might remember Paul's example at Philippi when in the
Thanksgiving gives effect to prayer
and frees from anxious carefulness by making all God's dealings
matter for praise, not merely for resignation, much less
murmuring. "Peace" is the companion of "thanksgiving"
let your requests be made known unto God--with generous, filial,
unreserved confidence; not keeping aught back, as too great, or else too
small, to bring before God, though you might feel so as to your fellow
men. So Jacob, when fearing Esau
Hezekiah fearing Sennacherib
7. And--The inseparable consequence of thus laying everything before
God in "prayer with thanksgiving."
peace--the dispeller of "anxious care"
of God--coming from God, and resting in God
(Joh 14:27; 16:33;
passeth--surpasseth, or exceedeth, all man's notional powers
of understanding its full blessedness
(1Co 2:9, 10;
shall keep--rather, "shall guard"; shall keep as a well-garrisoned
(Isa 26:1, 3).
The same Greek verb is used in
There shall be peace secure within, whatever outward troubles may
hearts and minds--rather, "hearts (the seat of the thoughts) and
thoughts" or purposes.
through--rather as Greek, "in Christ Jesus." It is in Christ
that we are "kept" or "guarded" secure.
8. Summary of all his exhortations as to relative duties, whether as
children or parents, husbands or wives, friends, neighbors, men in the
intercourse of the world, &c.
true--sincere, in words.
honest--Old English for "seemly," namely, in
action; literally, grave, dignified.
pure--"chaste," in relation to ourselves.
Lu 7:4, 5).
of good report--referring to the absent
as "lovely" refers to what is lovable face to face.
if there be any virtue--"whatever virtue there is" [ALFORD]. "Virtue," the standing word in heathen ethics,
is found once only in Paul's Epistles, and once in Peter's
and this in uses different from those in heathen authors. It is a term
rather earthly and human, as compared with the names of the spiritual
graces which Christianity imparts; hence the rarity of its occurrence
in the New Testament. Piety and true morality are inseparable. Piety is
love with its face towards God; morality is love with its face towards
man. Despise not anything that is good in itself; only let it keep its
praise--whatever is praiseworthy; not that Christians
should make man's praise their aim (compare
but they should live so as to deserve men's praise.
think on--have a continual regard to, so as to "do" these things
whenever the occasion arises.
9. both--rather, "The things also which ye have learned . . .
these practice"; the things which besides recommending them in
words, have been also recommended by my example, carry into
heard--though ye have not yet sufficiently "received" them.
seen--though ye have not as yet sufficiently "learned" them
and--"and then," as the necessary result
Not only "the peace of God," but "the God of peace" Himself "shall be
10. But--transitional conjunction. But "now" to pass to another
in the Lord--He views everything with reference to Christ.
at the last--"at last"; implying he was expecting their gift, not
from a selfish view, but as a "fruit" of their faith, and to "abound" to
(Php 4:11, 17).
Though long in coming, owing to Epaphroditus' sickness and other
delays, he does not imply their gift was too late.
your care . . . hath flourished again--Greek, "Ye have flourished
again (revived, as trees sprouting forth again in spring) in
your care for me."
wherein ye were also careful--in respect to which
(revival, namely, the sending of a supply to me) "ye were also
(all along) careful, but ye lacked opportunity"; whether from want of
means or want of a messenger. Your "lack of service"
was owing to your having "lacked opportunity."
11. I have learned--The I in Greek is emphatical.
I leave it to others if they will, to be discontented. I, for my
part, have learned, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and the
dealings of Providence
to be content in every state.
content--The Greek, literally expresses "independent of others,
and having sufficiency in one's self." But Christianity has raised
the term above the haughty self-sufficiency of the heathen Stoic to
the contentment of the Christian, whose sufficiency is not in
self, but in God
1Ti 6:6, 8;
Jer 2:36; 45:5).
12. abased--in low circumstances
(2Co 4:8; 6:9, 10).
everywhere--rather, "in each, and in all things" [ALFORD].
instructed--in the secret. Literally, "initiated" in a secret teaching,
which is a mystery unknown to the world.
13. I can do all things--Greek,
"I have strength for all things"; not merely "how to be abased
and how to abound." After special instances he declares his
universal power--how triumphantly, yet how humbly! [MEYER].
through Christ which strengtheneth me--The oldest manuscripts omit
"Christ"; then translate, "In Him who giveth me power," that is,
by virtue of my living union and identification with Him, who is my
whence probably, "Christ" was inserted here by transcribers.
14. He here guards against their thinking from what he has just said,
that he makes light of their bounty.
ye did communicate with my affliction--that is, ye made yourselves
sharers with me in my present affliction, namely, by sympathy; of
which sympathy your contribution is the proof.
15. Now--"Moreover." Arrange as Greek, "Ye also know (as well as
I do myself)."
in the beginning of the gospel--dating from the Philippian Christian era; at the first preaching of the Gospel at Philippi.
when I departed from Macedonia--
The Philippians had followed Paul with their bounty when he left
Macedonia and came to Corinth.
2Co 11:8, 9
thus accords with the passage here, the dates assigned to the donation
in both Epistles agreeing; namely, "in the beginning of the
Gospel" here, and there, at the time of his first visit to
Corinth [PALEY, Horæ Paulinæ].
However, the supply meant here is not that which he received at
Corinth, but the supply sent to him when "in Thessalonica, once and
as concerning giving and receiving--In the account between us, "the
giving" was all on your part; "the receiving" all on mine.
ye only--We are not to wait for others in a good work, saying, "I
will do so, when others do it." We must go forward, though alone.
16. even in Thessalonica--"even" as early as when I had got no further
than Thessalonica, ye sent me supplies for my necessities more than
17. a gift--Greek, "the gift." Translate, "It is not that
I seek after the gift, but I do seek after the fruit that
aboundeth to your account"; what I do seek is your spiritual good,
in the abounding of fruits of your faith which shall be put down to your
account, against the day of reward
18. But--Though "the gift" is not what I chiefly "seek after"
yet I am grateful for the gift, and hereby acknowledge it as
ample for all my needs. Translate, "I have all" that I want, "and more
than enough." Literally, as English Version, "I abound" over and
above my needs.
I am full--Greek, "I am filled full."
the odour of a sweet smell--(See on
The figure is drawn from the sweet-smelling incense which was burnt
along with the sacrifices; their gift being in faith was not so much to
Paul, as to God
before whom it "came up for a memorial"
sweet-smelling in God's presence
Re 8:3, 4).
19. my--Paul calls God here "my God," to imply that God would
reward their bounty to HIS servant, by "fully
supplying" (translate so, literally, fill to the full) their
even as they had "fully" supplied his "need"
(Php 4:16, 18).
My Master will fully repay you; I cannot. The Philippians invested
their bounty well since it got them such a glorious return.
according to his riches--The measure of His supply to you will be
the immeasurable "riches of His grace"
in glory--These words belong to the whole sentence. "Glory" is the
element in which His rich grace operates; and it will be the element IN
which He will "supply fully all your need."
by Christ Jesus--by virtue of your being "IN" (so Greek, not "by")
Christ Jesus, the Giver and Mediator of all spiritual blessings.
20. God and our Father--Translate, "Unto our God and Father."
be glory--rather as the Greek, "be the glory." Not to us, but
to Him be "the glory" alike of your gift, and of His gracious
recompense to you.
21. Salute every saint--individually.
The brethren which are with me--Perhaps Jewish believers are meant
precludes our thinking of "closer friends," "colleagues in the
ministry" [ALFORD]; he had only one close friend
with him, namely, Timothy.
22. they that are of Cæsar's household--the slaves and dependents
of Nero who had been probably converted through Paul's teaching while he
was a prisoner in the Prætorian barrack attached to the palace.
Philippi was a Roman "colony," hence there might arise a tie between the
citizens of the mother city and those of the colony; especially between
those of both cities who were Christians, converted as many of them were
by the same apostle, and under like circumstances, he having been
imprisoned at Philippi, as he now is at Rome.
be with you all. Amen--The oldest manuscripts read, "Be with your
spirit," and omit "Amen."