Exhortations to several Christian duties, as stedfastness, unanimity,
The apostle's grateful acknowledgments of the Philippians' kindness to
him, with expressions of his own content, and desire of their good,
He concludes the epistle with praise, salutations, and blessing,
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1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy
and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the
same mind in the Lord.
3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women
which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and
with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of
4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at
6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall
keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever
things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever
things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever
things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if
there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and
heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with
The apostle begins the chapter with exhortations to divers Christian
I. To stedfastness in our Christian profession,
It is inferred from the close of the foregoing chapter: Therefore
stand fast, &c. Seeing our conversation is in heaven, and we
look for the Saviour to come thence and fetch us thither, therefore
let us stand fast. Note, The believing hope and prospect of eternal
life should engage us to be steady, even, and constant, in our
Christian course. Observe here,
1. The compellations are very endearing: My brethren, dearly beloved
and longed for, my joy and crown; and again, My dearly
beloved. Thus he expresses the pleasure he took in them, the
kindness he had for them, to convey his exhortations to them with so
much the greater advantage. He looked upon them as his brethren, though
he was a great apostle. All we are brethren. There is difference
of gifts, graces, and attainments, yet, being renewed by the same
Spirit, after the same image, we are brethren; as the children of the
same parents, though of different ages, statures, and complexions.
(1.) He loved them, and loved them dearly: Dearly beloved; and
again, My dearly beloved. Warm affections become ministers and
Christians towards one another. Brotherly love must always go along
with brotherly relation.
(2.) He loved them and longed for them, longed to see them and hear
from them, longed for their welfare and was earnestly desirous of it.
I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ,
(3.) He loved them and rejoiced in them. They were his joy; he had no
greater joy than to hear of their spiritual health and prosperity. I
rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in the truth,
2 John 4; 3 John 4.
(4.) he loved them and gloried in them. They were his crown as well as
his joy. Never was proud ambitious man more pleased with the ensigns of
honour than Paul was with the evidences of the sincerity of their faith
and obedience. All this is to prepare his way to greater regard.
2. The exhortation itself: So stand fast in the Lord. Being in
Christ, they must stand fast in him, be even and steady in their walk
with him, and close and constant unto the end. Or, To stand fast in
the Lord is to stand fast in his strength and by his grace; not
trusting in ourselves, and disclaiming any sufficiency of our own. We
must be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might,
"So stand fast, so as you have done hitherto, stand fast unto the end,
so as you are by beloved, and my joy and crown; so stand fast as those
in whose welfare and perseverance I am so nearly interested and
II. He exhorts them to unanimity and mutual assistance
I beseech Euodias and Syntyche that they be of the same mind in the
Lord. This is directed to some particular persons. Sometimes there
is need of applying the general precepts of the gospel to particular
persons and cases. Euodias and Syntyche, it seems, were at variance,
either one with the other or with the church; either upon a civil
account (it may be they were engaged in a law-suit) or upon a religious
account--it may be they were of different opinions and sentiments.
"Pray," says he, "desire them from me to be of the same mind in the
Lord, to keep the peace and live in love, to be of the same mind one
with another, not thwarting and contradicting, and to be of the same
mind with the rest of the church, not acting in opposition to them."
Then he exhorts to mutual assistance
and this exhortation he directs to particular persons: I entreat
thee also, true yoke-fellow. Who this person was whom he calls true
yoke-fellow is uncertain. Some think Epaphroditus, who is supposed to
have been one of the pastors of the church of the Philippians. Others
think it was some eminently good woman, perhaps Paul's wife, because he
exhorts his yoke-fellow to help the women who laboured with him.
Whoever was the yoke-fellow with the apostle must be a yoke-fellow too
with his friends. It seems, there were women who laboured with Paul in
the gospel; not in the public ministry (for the apostle expressly
1 Timothy 2:12,
I suffer not a woman to teach), but by entertaining the
ministers, visiting the sick, instructing the ignorant, convincing the
erroneous. Thus women may be helpful to ministers in the work of the
gospel. Now, says the apostle, do thou help them. Those who help
others should be helped themselves when there is occasion. "Help
them, that is, join with them, strengthen their hands, encourage
them in their difficulties."--With Clement also, and other my
fellow-labourers. Paul had a kindness for all his fellow-labourers;
and, as he had found the benefit of their assistance, he concluded how
comfortable it would be to them to have the assistance of others. Of
his fellow-labourers he says, Whose names are in the book of
life; either they were chosen of God from all eternity, or
registered and enrolled in the corporation and society to which the
privilege of eternal life belongs, alluding to the custom among the
Jews and Gentiles of registering the inhabitants or the freemen of the
city. So we read of their names being written in heaven
not blotting his name out of the book of life
and of those who are written in the Lamb's book of life,
Observe, There is a book of life; there are names in that book and not
characters and conditions only. We cannot search into that book, or
know whose names are written there; but we may, in a judgment of
charity, conclude that those who labour in the gospel, and are faithful
to the interest of Christ and souls, have their names in the book of
III. He exhorts to holy joy and delight in God: Rejoice in the Lord
always, and again I say, Rejoice,
All our joy must terminate in God; and our thoughts of God must be
delightful thoughts. Delight thyself in the Lord
in the multitude of our thoughts within us (grievous and
afflicting thoughts) his comforts delight our souls
and our meditation of him is sweet,
Observe, It is our duty and privilege to rejoice in God, and to rejoice
in him always; at all times, in all conditions; even when we suffer for
him, or are afflicted by him. We must not think the worse of him or of
his ways for the hardships we meet with in his service. There is enough
in God to furnish us with matter of joy in the worst circumstance on
earth. He had said it before
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. Here he says it
again, Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say Rejoice. Joy
in God is a duty of great consequence in the Christian life; and
Christians need to be again and again called to it. If good men have
not a continual feast, it is their own fault.
IV. We are here exhorted to candour and gentleness, and good temper
towards our brethren: "Let your moderation be known to all men,
In things indifferent do not run into extremes; avoid bigotry and
animosity; judge charitably concerning one another." The word to
epieikes signifies a good disposition towards other men; and
this moderation is explained,
Some understand it of the patient bearing of afflictions, or the sober
enjoyment of worldly good; and so it well agrees with the
The reason is, the Lord is at hand. The consideration of our
Master's approach, and our final account, should keep us from smiting
our fellow-servants, support us under present sufferings, and moderate
our affections to outward good. "He will take vengeance on your
enemies, and reward your patience."
V. Here is a caution against disquieting perplexing care
Be careful for nothing--meden merimnate: the same
expression with that
Take no thought for your life; that is, avoid anxious care and
distracting thought in the wants and difficulties of life. Observe, It
is the duty and interest of Christians to live without care. There is a
care of diligence which is our duty, and consists in a wise forecast
and due concern; but there is a care of diffidence and distrust which
is our sin and folly, and which only perplexes and distracts the mind.
"Be careful for nothing, so as by your care to distrust God, and
unfit yourselves for his service."
VI. As a sovereign antidote against perplexing care he recommends to us
constant prayer: In every thing by prayer and supplication, with
thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. Observe,
1. We must not only keep up stated times for prayer, but we must pray
upon every particular emergency: In every thing by prayer. When
any thing burdens our spirits, we must ease our minds by prayer; when
our affairs are perplexed or distressed, we must seek direction and
2. We must join thanksgiving with our prayers and supplications. We
must not only seek supplies of good, but own receipts of mercy.
Grateful acknowledgments of what we have argue a right disposition of
mind, and are prevailing motives for further blessings.
3. Prayer is the offering up of our desires to God, or making them
known to him: Let your requests be made known to God. Not that
God needs to be told either our wants or desires; for he knows them
better than we can tell him: but he will know them from us, and have us
show our regards and concern, express our value of the mercy and sense
of our dependence on him.
4. The effect of this will be the peace of God keeping our
The peace of God, that is, the comfortable sense of our
reconciliation to God and interest in his favour, and the hope of the
heavenly blessedness, and enjoyment of God hereafter, which passeth
all understanding, is a great good than can be sufficiently valued
or duly expressed. It has not entered into the heart of ham,
1 Corinthians 2:9.
This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus;
it will keep us from sinning under our troubles, and from sinking under
them; keep us calm and sedate, without discomposure of passion, and
with inward satisfaction. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose
mind is stayed on thee,
VII. We are exhorted to get and keep a good name, a name for good
things with God and good men: Whatsoever things are true and
a regard to truth in our words and engagements, and to decency and
becomingness in our behaviour, suitable to our circumstances and
condition of life. Whatsoever things are just and
pure,--agreeable to the rules of justice and righteousness in all
our dealings with men, and without the impurity or mixture of sin.
Whatsoever things are lovely and of good report, that is,
amiable; that will render us beloved, and make us well spoken of, as
well as well thought of, by others. If there is any virtue, if there
is any praise--any thing really virtuous of any kind and worthy of
1. The apostle would have the Christians learn any thing which was good
of their heathen neighbours: "If there be any virtue, think of these
things--imitate them in what is truly excellent among them, and let
not them outdo you in any instance of goodness." We should not be
ashamed to learn any good thing of bad men, or those who have not our
2. Virtue has its praise, and will have. We should walk in all the ways
of virtue, and abide therein; and then, whether our praise be of men or
no, it will be of God,
In these things he proposes himself to them for an example
Those things which you have learned, and received, and heard and
seen in me, do. Observe, Paul's doctrine and life were of a piece.
What they saw in him was the same thing with what they heard from him.
He could propose himself as well as his doctrine to their imitation. It
gives a great force to what we say to others when we can appeal to what
they have seen in us. And this is the way to have the God of peace
with us--to keep close to our duty to him. The Lord is with us
while we are with him.
|Kindness Acknowledged; Christian Contentment.
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10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last
your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also
careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in
whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound:
every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and
to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate
with my affliction.
15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the
gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated
with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my
17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may
abound to your account.
18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of
Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a
sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his
riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
In these verses we have the thankful grateful acknowledgment which the
apostle makes of the kindness of the Philippians in sending him a
present for his support, now that he was a prisoner at Rome. And
I. He takes occasion to acknowledge their former kindnesses to him, and
to make mention of them,
Paul had a grateful spirit; for, though what his friends did for him
was nothing in comparison of what he deserved from them and the
obligations he had laid upon them, yet he speaks of their kindness as
if it had been a piece of generous charity, when it was really far
short of a just debt. If they had each of them contributed half their
estates to him, they had not given him too much, since they owed to
him even their own souls; and yet, when they send a small present
to him, how kindly does he take it, how thankfully does he mention it,
even in this epistle which was to be left upon record, and read in the
churches, through all ages; so that wherever this epistle shall be read
there shall this which they did to Paul be told for a memorial of them.
Surely never was present so well repaid. He reminds them that in
the beginning of the gospel no church communicated with him as to
giving and receiving but they only,
They not only maintained him comfortably while he was with them, but
when he departed from Macedonia they sent tokens of their
kindness after him; and this when no other church did so. None besides
sent after him of their carnal things, in consideration of what they
had reaped of his spiritual things. In works of charity, we are ready
to ask what other people do. But the church of the Philippians never
considered that. It redounded so much the more to their honour that
they were the only church who were thus just and generous. Even in
Thessalonica (after he had departed from Macedonia) you sent
once and again to my necessity,
1. It was but little which they sent; they sent only to his necessity,
just such things as he had need of; perhaps it was according to their
ability, and he did not desire superfluities nor dainties.
2. It is an excellent thing to see those to whom God has abounded in
the gifts of his grace abounding in grateful returns to his people and
ministers, according to their own ability and their necessity: You
sent once and again. Many people make it an excuse for their
charity that they have given once; why should the charge come upon them
again? But the Philippians sent once and again; they often relieved and
refreshed him in his necessities. He makes this mention of their former
kindness, not only out of gratitude, but for their encouragement.
II. He excuses their neglect of late. It seems, for some time they had
not sent to enquire after him, or sent him any present; but now at
the last their care of him flourished again
like a tree in the spring, which seemed all the winter to be quite
dead. Now, in conformity to the example of his great Master, instead of
upbraiding them for their neglect, he makes an excuse for them:
Wherein you were also careful, but you lacked opportunity. How
could they lack opportunity, if they had been resolved upon it? They
might have sent a messenger on purpose. But the apostle is willing to
suppose, in favour of them, that they would have done it if a fair
opportunity had offered. How contrary is this to the behaviour of many
to their friends, by whom neglects which really are excusable are
resented very heinously, when Paul excused that which he had reason
enough to resent.
III. He commends their present liberality: Notwithstanding, you have
well done that you did communicate with my affliction,
It is a good work to succour and help a good minister in trouble. Here
see what is the nature of true Christian sympathy; not only to be
concerned for our friends in their troubles, but to do what we can to
help them. They communicated with his affliction, in relieving
him under it. He who says, Be you warmed, be you filled, and giveth
not those things they have need of, what doth it profit?
He rejoiced greatly in it
because it was an evidence of their affection to him and the success of
his ministry among them. When the fruit of their charity abounded
towards the apostle, it appeared that the fruit of his ministry
abounded among them.
IV. He takes care to obviate the bad use some might make of his taking
so much notice of what was sent him. It did not proceed either from
discontent and distrust
or from covetousness and love of the world,
1. It did not come from discontent, or distrust of Providence: Not
that I speak in respect of want
not in respect of any want he felt, nor of any want he feared. As to
the former, he was content with the little he had, and that satisfied
him; as to the latter, he depended upon the providence of God to
provide for him from day to day, and that satisfied him: so that he did
not speak in respect of want any way. For I have learned, in
whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. We have here an
account of Paul's learning, not that which he got at the feet of
Gamaliel, but that which he got at the feet of Christ. He had learnt to
be content; and that was the lesson he had as much need to learn as
most men, considering the hardships and sufferings with which he was
exercised. He was in bonds, and imprisonments, and necessities, often;
but in all he had learnt to be content, that is, to bring his mind to
his condition, and make the best of it.--I know both how to be
abased and I know how to abound,
This is a special act of grace, to accommodate ourselves to every
condition of life, and carry an equal temper of mind through all the
varieties of our state.
(1.) To accommodate ourselves to an afflicted condition--to know how to
be abased, how to be hungry, how to suffer want, so as not to be
overcome by the temptations of it, either to lose our comfort in God or
distrust his providence, or to take any indirect course for our own
(2.) To a prosperous condition--to know how to abound, how to be full,
so as not to be proud, or secure, or luxurious. And this is as hard a
lesson as the other; for the temptations of fulness and prosperity are
not less than those of affliction and want. But how must we learn it?
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,
We have need of strength from Christ, to enable us to perform not only
those duties which are purely Christian, but even those which are the
fruit of moral virtue. We need his strength to teach us to be content
in every condition. The apostle had seemed to boast of himself, and of
his own strength: I know how to be abased
but here he transfers all the praise to Christ. "What do I talk of
knowing how to be abased, and how to abound? It is only
through Christ who strengthens me that I can do it, not in my
own strength." So we are required to be strong in the Lord, and in
the power of his might
and to be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus
(2 Timothy 2:1);
and we are strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner
The word in the original is a participle of the present tense, en
to endynamounti me Christo, and denotes a present and continued
act; as if he had said, "Through Christ, who is strengthening me, and
does continually strengthen me; it is by his constant and renewed
strength I am enabled to act in every thing; I wholly depend upon him
for all my spiritual power."
2. It did not come from covetousness, or an affection to worldly
wealth: "Not because I desired a gift
that is, I welcome your kindness, not because it adds to my enjoyments,
but because it adds to your account." He desired not so much for his
own sake, but theirs: "I desire fruit that may abound to your
account, that is, that you may be enabled to make such a good use
of your worldly possessions that you may give an account of them with
joy." It is not with any design to draw more from you, but to encourage
you to such an exercise of beneficence as will meet with a glorious
reward hereafter. "For my part," says he, "I have all, and
What can a man desire more than enough? I do not desire a gift for the
gift's sake, for I have all, and abound." They sent him a small
token, and he desired no more; he was not solicitous for a present
superfluity, or a future supply: I am full, having received from
Epaphroditus the things which were sent by you. Note, A good man
will soon have enough of this world; not only of living in it, but of
receiving from it. A covetous worldling, if he has ever so much, would
still have more; but a heavenly Christian, though he has little, has
V. The apostle assures them that God did accept, and would recompense,
their kindness to him.
1. He did accept it: It is an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice
acceptable, well-pleasing to God. Not a sacrifice of atonement, for
none makes atonement for sin but Christ; but a sacrifice of
acknowledgment, and well-pleasing to God. It was more acceptable
to God as it was the fruit of their grace than it was to Paul as it was
the supply of his want. With such sacrifices God is well
2. He would recompense it: But my God shall supply all your wants
according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus,
He does as it were draw a bill upon the exchequer in heaven, and leaves
it to God to make them amends for the kindness they had shown him. "He
shall do it, not only as your God, but as my God, who takes what is
done to me as done to himself. You supplied my needs, according to your
poverty; and he shall supply yours, according to his riches." But still
it is by Christ Jesus; through him we have grace to do that which is
good, and through him we must expect the reward of it. Not of debt, but
of grace; for the more we do for God the more we are indebted to him,
because we receive the more from him.
20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever.
21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are
with me greet you.
22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Cæsar's
23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
The apostle concludes the epistle in these verses,
1. With praises to God: Now unto God and our Father be glory for
ever and ever, Amen,
(1.) God is to be considered by us as our Father: Now unto God and
our Father. It is a great condescension and favour in God to own
the relation of Father to sinners, and allow us to say to him, Our
Father; and it is a title peculiar to the gospel dispensation. It
is also a great privilege and encouragement to us to consider him as
our Father, as one so nearly related and who bears so tender an
affection towards us. We should look upon God, under all our weaknesses
and fears, not as a tyrant or an enemy, but as a Father, who is
disposed to pity us and help us.
(2.) We must ascribe glory to God as a Father, the glory of his own
excellence and of all his mercy unto us. We must thankfully own the
receipt of all from him, and give the praise of all to him. And our
praise must be constant and perpetual; it must be glory for ever and
2. With salutations to his friends at Philippi: "Salute every saint
in Christ Jesus
give my hearty love to all the Christians in your parts." He desires
remembrances not only to the bishops and deacons, and the church in
general, but to every particular saint. Paul had a kind affection to
all good Christians.
3. He sends salutations from those who were at Rome: "The brethren
who are with me salute you; the ministers, and all the
saints here, send their affectionate remembrances to you. Chiefly
those who are of Cæsar's household; the Christian converts who
belonged to the emperor's court." Observe,
(1.) There were saints in Cæsar's household. Though Paul was
imprisoned at Rome, for preaching the gospel, by the emperor's command,
yet there were some Christians in his own family. The gospel early
obtained among some of the rich and great. Perhaps the apostle fared
the better, and received some favour, by means of his friends at court.
(2.) Chiefly those, &c. Observe, They, being bred at court,
were more complaisant than the rest. See what an ornament to religion
sanctified civility is.
4. The apostolical benediction, as usual: "The grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ be with you all, Amen. The free favour and good will
of Christ be your portion and happiness."