Greetings from a Roman Prison.
SUMMARY.--Greetings to the Church and Its Officers.
Reasons for Thanksgiving.
The Progress of the Gospel in Rome.
Different Motives for Preaching the Gospel.
The Apostle's Desire to Depart and Be with Christ.
Exhortations to Unity and Fortitude.
1, 2. Paul and Timotheus, the servants, etc. The beloved Timothy
was attending and aiding Paul at Rome. The name of Timothy appears at
the head of
In this letter to be a beloved church, so devoted to him, Paul does not
refer to his apostleship in his greeting, as in
as one speaking with authority, but exhorts them as a fellow-servant of
To all the saints in Christ Jesus. Every one in Christ,
i. e., every Christian was and is a saint.
With the bishops and deacons. We find two classes of officers in
this church organized by an apostle. There was a plurality of each
class. All commentators agree that "the bishops" and "the elders" of
the primitive church are the same, only different names of the same
office. Paul calls the "elders" of Ephesus "bishops." See
(Revision). Also in
Titus 1:5, 7,
he calls an "elder" a "bishop." For the duties of this office, see
1 Tim. 3:2,
The word "Overseer," which is a literal translation of the Greek word
suggests the nature of the office. The duties of the deacons are
supposed to be explained by the work of the "Seven Deacons" ordained in
the church at Jerusalem. See
Acts, chapter 6.
See notes on
1 Tim. 3:8.
2. Grace. The usual apostolic benediction, such as we have found
3-7. I thank my God. Almost all the Epistles open with
thanksgiving. How glorious a faith that which led him always, even in
the darkest hour, to see the hand of God present in blessing! Yet in
the remembrance of the Philippians there was much to cheer his
4. In every prayer. The repeated assurances shows us that Paul
was wont daily to carry the interests of the churches he planted to
God. In the case of this faithful church he did it with joy.
5. For your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel [Revision].
He is thankful and full of joy that from the first they had constantly
sympathized with him and aided in extending the gospel. It was a really
Until now. See
2:25, and 4:10, 18,
6. Being confident. So faithful have they been that he is
confident that they will be faithful to the end.
He which began a good work. God, who sent
Paul to them with the gospel, began the good work. He will sustain them
by his grace.
Day of Jesus Christ. The day they are called to his
7. Because I have you in my heart. Their faithfulness had
engraven them on his heart. He shows how that faithfulness had been
demonstrated. They were
all partakers of his grace, the grace of suffering for the
gospel and of defending it.
In my bonds. He was a prisoner bound. As a prisoner he preached
and defended the gospel. The Philippians sympathized with him, prayed
for him, and sustained him by their offerings, thus becoming
partakers. They not only did this, but defended and suffered for
the gospel. See
8-11. Long after you. Love you and long for your presence.
In the bowels of Jesus Christ. See Revision. With a tender love
like that of Christ.
9. This I pray. Not that their love for him should abound more,
but with the increase of their love there might be fuller knowledge and
10. That ye may approve. This increase in knowledge and judgment
would lead them to approve what is really excellent. How often men
approve what does not bless them! How often the judgment errs!
Without offense. Without leadings others to stumble.
11. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness. This must
follow from being "sincere," etc. Those who are earnest and sincere
occupy themselves with works of righteousness, such as are due to faith
Jesus Christ and his help, and which are
unto the glory and praise of God. In no way can we glorify God
more than by living holy, helpful lives.
12-14. I would ye should understand. No doubt the Philippians
grieved greatly that he was a prisoner, but he assures them that all
things have turned to the furtherance of the gospel. He has been given
an opportunity to reach those whom otherwise he never could have had
13. So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace.
Prætorium in the Greek, rendered by the Revision,
"Prætorian guard." The prætorian camp was the great
military camp of a body of soldiers stationed permanently at Rome,
called the prætorian guards. Paul, as a military prisoner, was
under charge of its commander, the præfect. The necessity of
reporting regularly would make him well known, and would give him many
opportunities to preach Christ there and elsewhere. Compare
14. Many of the brethren. Taking courage from his boldness, though
in bonds, the brethren were engaged in preaching the gospel with
greater zeal than ever before. See
for some of the results of this preaching.
15-18. Some, indeed, preach Christ even of envy. The motives of
all preachers are not pure. Some still preach Christ, full of envy for
other preachers, and some from a love of strife. Those envious of Paul
were probably Judaizing Christians. See
16. The one preach Christ from contention. Not from sincere love
of the gospel, but from a factious spirit. While preaching, they sought
to undermine Paul's influence,
supposing to add affliction to his bonds. For an illustration of
this class, read the
first and second chapters of Galatians,
17. The other of love. These are the true and earnest preachers.
They knew that Paul was not sent to Rome because he was an evil doer,
but because he was
set for the defense of the gospel. God had sent him there to
18. What then? So anxious is he to have Christ preached, that,
whatever may be the motives of men, whether their zeal is only a
pretence or in truth, still if only Christ is preached, he will
rejoice. This is not a sanction of a false gospel (see
nor of the men themselves, but rejoicing, if by any means the knowledge
of Christ is spread. How different this glorious unselfishness, and
greatness of spirit, from the narrowness of those who higgle over
"plans" and forbid "those who walk not with them!"
19-21. For I know that this, etc. All this envy and opposition
will tend to promote his salvation. He will be delivered by God who
will hear their
prayers, and who will strengthen and direct him by the
Spirit of Jesus Christ.
20. That in nothing shall I be ashamed. Whatever may come,
whether his bonds lead to death or life, his trust is that the Spirit
will give him such boldness that Christ shall be magnified. There is no
anxiety about himself, only that he may glorify Christ.
21. For to me to live is Christ. Should he be suffered to live,
his life would be for extending the kingdom of Christ, but personally,
to die would be gain; a release from sufferings and an entrance upon
22-26. But if I live in the flesh. In the body;
i. e., on earth. In this state the fruit of his labor is
Yet what I shall choose. He can hardly tell whether he would
choose the gain of death, or to continue to live in order that he may
work for Christ.
23. Having a desire to depart. His feelings would lead him
to choose to depart from the flesh (see
and to be with Christ. Note that with Paul to depart from the
flesh, the body, is followed by going immediately to Christ.
24. Nevertheless. Though it is better to depart and dwell with
Christ, the brethren
need him in
the flesh. That is the reason why he is in the strait
25. And having this confidence. Rather, "Being fully persuaded
of this." Sure that he is needed on earth by the churches, he has no
doubt that he will be delivered from his present danger and
abide and continue, live to further their faith.
26. That your rejoicing. Nay, he is assured that the Philippians
will rejoice over a visit from him. There is every reason to believe
that his confidence was justified; that he was released and did again
27-30. Only let your conversation. Your manner of life. Whether
absent, or present, he wishes to know that they are perfectly
28. And in nothing terrified by your adversaries. Probably there
had been another outbreak of heathen violence at Philippi such as Paul
and Silas endured
Which is to them. Your courage. When they see that they cannot
terrify or overcome you, it will be a token to them of the ruin which
will befall them, but an assurance to you of your salvation, through
the help of God.
29. For to you it is given. Two things were granted: (1) The
privilege of believing in Christ. (2) That of suffering for Christ.
Such was the lot of all ancient Christians. See
Heb. 12:3, 4, and 1 Peter 4:16.
30. Having the same conflict which ye saw in me. You saw when I
was at Philippi what I had to endure
you hear that I am now a prisoner threatened with death. You must
expect similar conflicts and meet them with fortitude.