1Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ While Paul is accustomed, in the inscription of his epistles, to employ titles of distinction, with the view of procuring credit for himself and his ministry, there was no need of lengthened commendations in writing to the Philippians, who had known him by experience as a true Apostle of Christ, and still acknowledged him as such beyond all controversy. For they had persevered in the calling of God steadfastly, and in an even tenor.
Bishops He names the pastors separately, for the sake of honor. We may, however, infer from this, that the name of bishop is common to all the ministers of the Word, inasmuch as he assigns several bishops to one Church. The titles, therefore, of bishop and pastor, are synonymous. And this is one of the passages which Jerome quotes for proving this in his epistle to Evagrius, and in his exposition of the Epistle to Titus. Afterwards there crept in the custom of applying the name of bishop exclusively to the person whom the presbyters in each church appointed over their company. It originated, however, in a human custom, and rests on no Scripture authority. I acknowledge, indeed, that, as the minds and manners of men are, there cannot be order maintained among the ministers of the word, without one presiding over the others. I speak of particular bodies, not of whole provinces, much less of the whole world. Now, although we must not contend for words, it were at the same time better for us in speaking to follow the Holy Spirit, the author of tongues, than to change for the worse forms of speech which are dictated to us by Him. For from the corrupted signification of the word this evil has resulted, that, as if all the presbyters were not colleagues, called to the same office, one of them, under the pretext of a new appellation, usurped dominion over the others.
Deacons. This term may be taken in two ways — either as meaning administrators, and curators of the poor, or for elders, who were appointed for the regulation of morals. As, however, it is more generally made use of by Paul in the former sense, I understand it rather as meaning stewards, who superintended the distributing and receiving of alms. On the other points consult the preceding commentaries.
Paul and Timotheus – That Timothy was at this time with the apostle in Rome we learn from Phi_2:19, and also that he was very high in the apostle’s estimation. He had also accompanied the apostle on his two voyages to Philippi, see Acts 16 and 20., and was therefore deservedly dear to the Church in that city. It was on these accounts that St. Paul joined his name to his own, not because he was in any part the author of this epistle, but he might have been the apostle’s amanuensis, though the subscription to the epistle gives this office to Epaphroditus. Neither in this epistle, nor in those to the Thessalonians and to Philemon does St. Paul call himself an apostle; the reason of which appears to be, that in none of these places was his apostolical authority called in question.
Bishops and deacons – Επισκοποις· The overseers of the Church of God, and those who ministered to the poor, and preached occasionally. There has been a great deal of paper wasted on the inquiry, “Who is meant by bishops here, as no place could have more than one bishop?” To which it has been answered: “Philippi was a metropolitan see, and might have several bishops.” This is the extravagance of trifling. I believe no such officer is meant as we now term bishop.
Paul and Timotheus – Paul frequently unites some person with him in his epistles; see the notes at 1Co_1:1. It is clear from this, that Timothy was with Paul at Rome. Why he was there is unknown. It is evident that he was not there as a prisoner with Paul, and the probability is, that he was one of the friends who had gone to Rome with a view to show his sympathy with him in his sufferings; compare the notes at 2Ti_4:9. There was special propriety in the fact that Timothy was joined with the apostle in writing the Epistle, for he was with him when the church was founded, and doubtless felt a deep interest in its welfare; Acts 16. Timothy had remained in Macedonia after Paul went to Athens, and it is not improbable that he had visited them afterward.
The servants of Jesus Christ – see the notes at Rom_1:1.
To all the saints in Christ Jesus – The common appellation given to the church, denoting that it was holy; see the notes, Rom_1:7.
With the bishops – σὺν επισκόποις sun episkopois; see the notes, Act_20:28. The word used here occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: Act_20:28, translated “overseers;” and Phi_1:1; 1Ti_3:2; Tit_1:7; 1Pe_2:25, in each of which places it is rendered as “bishop.” The word properly means an inspector, overseer, or guardian, and was given to the ministers of the gospel because they exercised this care over the churches, or were appointed to oversee their interests. It is a term, therefore, which might be given to any of the officers of the churches, and was originally equivalent to the term presbyter. It is evidently used in this sense here. It cannot be used to denote a diocesan bishop; or a bishop having the care of the churches in a large district of country, and of a superior rank to other ministers of the gospel, because the word is used here in the plural number, and it is in the highest degree improbable that there were dioceses in Philippi. It is clear, moreover, that they were the only officers of the church there except “deacons;” and the persons referred to, therefore, must have been those who were invested simply with the pastoral office. Thus, Jerome, one of the early fathers, says, respecting the word bishop: “A presbyter is the same as a bishop. And until there arose divisions in religion, churches were governed by a common counsel of presbyters. But afterward, it was everywhere decreed, that one person, elected from the presbyters, should be placed over the others.” “Philippi,” says he, “is a single city of Macedonia; and certainly there could not have been several like these who are now called bishops, at one time in the same city. But as, at that time, they called the same bishops whom they called presbyters also, the apostles spoke indifferently of bishops as of presbyters.” Annotations on the Epistle to Titus, as quoted by Dr. Woods on Episcopacy, p. 63.
And deacons – On the appointment of deacons, and their duty, see the notes at Act_6:1. The word “deacons” does not occur before this place in the common version of the New Testament, though the Greek word rendered here as “deacon” frequently occurs. It is rendered “minister” and “ministers” in Mat_20:26; Mar_10:43; Rom_13:4; Rom_15:8; 1Co_3:5; 2Co_3:6; 2Co_6:4; 2Co_11:15, 2Co_11:23; Gal_2:17; Eph_3:7; Eph_6:21; Col_1:7, Col_1:23, Col_1:25; Col_4:7; 1Ti_4:6; “servant” and “servants,” Mat_22:13; Mat_23:11; Mar_9:25; Joh_2:5, Joh_2:9; Joh_12:26; Rom_16:1; and “deacon” or “deacons,” Phi_1:1; 1Ti_3:8, 1Ti_3:12. The word properly means servants, and is then applied to the ministers of the gospel as being the servants of Christ, and of the churches. Hence, it came especially to denote those who had charge of the alms of the church, and who were the overseers of the sick and the poor. In this sense the word is probably used in the passage before us, as the officers here referred to were distinct in some way from the bishops. The apostle here mentions but two orders of ministers in the church at Philippi, and this account is of great importance in its bearing on the question about the way in which Christian churches were at first organized, and about the officers which existed in them. In regard to this we may remark:
(1) That only two orders of ministers are mentioned. This is undeniable, whatever rank they may have held.
(2) there is no intimation whatever that a minister like a prelatical bishop had ever been appointed there, and that the incumbent of the office was absent, or that the office was now vacant. If the bishop was absent, as Bloomfield and others suppose, it is remarkable that no allusion is made to him, and that Paul should have left the impression that there were in fact but two “orders” there. If there were a prelate there, why did not Paul refer to him with affectionate salutations? Why does he refer to the two other “orders of clergy” without the slightest allusion to the man who was set over them as “superior in ministerial rank and power?” Was Paul jealous of this prelate? But if they had a prelate, and the see was then vacant, why is there no reference to this fact? Why no condolence at their loss? Why no prayer that God would send them a man to enter into the vacant diocese? It is a mere assumption to suppose, as the friends of prelacy often do, that they had a prelatical bishop, but that he was then absent. But even granting this, it is an inquiry which has never been answered, why Paul did not make some reference to this fact, and ask their prayers for the absent prelate.
(3) the church was organized by the apostle Paul himself, and there can be no doubt that it was organized on the “truly primitive and apostolic plan.”
(4) the church at Philippi was in the center of a large territory; was the capital of Macedonia, and was not likely to be placed in subjection to the diocesan of another region.
(5) it was surrounded by other churches, since we have express mention of the church at Thessalonica, and the preaching of the gospel at Berea; Acts 17.
(6) there is more than one bishop mentioned as connected with the church in Philippi. But these could not have been bishops of the Episcopal or prelatical order, if Episcopalians choose to say that they were prelates, then it follows:
(a) that there was a plurality of such persons in the same diocese, the same city, and the same church – which is contrary to the fundamental idea of Episcopacy. It follows also,
(b) that there was entirely missing in the church at Philippi what the Episcopalians call the “second order” of clergy; that a church was organized by the apostles defective in one of the essential grades, with a body of prelates without presbyters – that is, an order of men of “superior” rank designated to exercise jurisdiction over “priests” who had no existence.
If there were such presbyters or “priests” there, why did not Paul name them? If their office was one that was contemplated in the church, and was then vacant, how did this happen? And if this were so, why is there no allusion to so remarkable a fact?
(7) it follows, therefore, that in this church there were only two orders of officers; and further that it is right and proper to apply the term “bishop” to the ordinary ministers of the churches. As no mention is made of a prelate; as there are but two orders of men mentioned to whom the care of the church was entrusted, it follows that there was one church at least organized by the apostles without any prelate.
(8) the same thing may be observed in regard to the distinction between “teaching” elders and “ruling” elders. No such distinction is referred to here; and however useful such an office as that of ruling elder may be, and certain as it is, that such an office existed in some of the primitive churches, yet here is one church where no such officer is found, and this fact proves that such an officer is not essential to the Christian church.
The official designation is omitted, as in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Philemon. It is not easy to explain the use or omission of the title apostle in all cases. Here, and in Philemon and 1 Thessalonians, its omission may be accounted for by the general, unofficial, personal, affectionate character of the letter. In 2 Corinthians and Galatians the reason for its use is apparent from the fact that Paul’s official authority had been assailed. But it is also omitted in 2 Thessalonians, which has an admonitory and rebuking character. Its use in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, private letters, is explained by the fact that Paul is addressing them not only as friends, but as pastors. In Romans, while there is no evidence of any challenge of his apostolic claims, there is an authoritative exposition of Christian doctrine which appears to warrant the title.
Associated with Paul as in the introductions to 2 Corinthians and the two Thessalonian epistles. Timothy assisted Paul in founding the Philippian church Act_16:1, Act_16:13; Act_17:14. Two visits of Timothy to Philippi are recorded, Act_19:22; Act_20:3, Act_20:4. He is evidently preparing for a third visit, see Phi_2:19. His only part in this letter is his name in the salutation, and in Phi_2:19.
To all the saints (πασιν τοις αγίοις)
In Paul’s personal addresses in this epistle the word all occurs nine times. It is sufficiently accounted for by the expansiveness of grateful christian feeling which marks the entire letter, and it is doubtful whether it has any definite or conscious connection with the social rivalries hinted at in the epistle, and which call forth exhortations to unity, as if Paul were disclaiming all partisan feeling by the use of the term. For saints, see on Col_1:2; see on Rom_1:7. The word is transferred from the Old Testament. The Israelites were called ἅγιοι holy, separated and consecrated, Exo_19:6; Deu_7:6; Deu_14:2, Deu_14:21; Dan_7:18, Dan_7:22, etc. The christian Church has inherited the title and the privileges of the Jewish nation. Hence it is ἔθνος ἅγιον a holy nation, 1Pe_2:9. The term implies, but does not assert, actual, personal sanctity. It is a social, not a personal epithet. See on Act_26:10.
In Macedonia. Travellers by sea landed at Neapolis, and then travelled ten miles to Philippi along the Via Egnatia, which traversed Macedonia from east to west. The site was originally occupied by a town called Datus or Datum, and was known as Krenides from its numerous springs. It was called Philippi in honor of Philip of Macedon, who enlarged and fortified it. Its situation was important, commanding the great high road between Europe and Asia. This fact led to its fortification by Philip, and made it, later, the scene of the decisive battle which resulted in the defeat of Brutus and Cassius. Its soil was productive and rich in mineral treasures, which had yielded a large revenue, but which, in Paul’s time, had apparently become exhausted.
Augustus planted at Philippi a colonia. See on Act_16:12. A variety of national types assembled there – Greek, Roman, and Asiatic – representing different phases of philosophy, religion, and superstition. It was therefore an appropriate starting-point for the Gospel in Europe, a field in which it could demonstrate its power to deal with all differences of nation, faith, sex, and social standing.
Lit., overseers. See on visitation, 1Pe_2:12. The word was originally a secular title, designating commissioners appointed to regulate a newly-acquired territory or a colony. It was also applied to magistrates who regulated the sale of provisions under the Romans. In the Septuagint it signifies inspectors, superintendents, taskmasters, see 2Ki_11:19; 2Ch_34:12, 2Ch_34:17; or captains, presidents, Neh_11:9, Neh_11:14, Neh_11:22. In the apostolic writings it is synonymous with presbyter or elder; and no official distinction of the episcopate as a distinct order of the ministry is recognized. Rev. has overseers in margin.
The word means servant, and is a general term covering both slaves and hired servants. It is thus distinct from δοῦλος bond-servant. It represents a servant, not in his relation, but in his activity. In the epistles it is often used specifically for a minister of the Gospel, 1Co_3:5; 2Co_3:6; Eph_3:7. Here it refers to a distinct class of officers in the apostolic church. The origin of this office is recorded Act_6:1-6. It grew out of a complaint of the Hellenistic or Graeco-Jewish members of the Church, that their widows were neglected in the daily distribution of food and alms. The Palestinian Jews prided themselves on their pure nationality and looked upon the Greek Jews as their inferiors. Seven men were chosen to superintend this matter, and generally to care for the bodily wants of the poor. Their function was described by the phrase to serve tables, Act_6:2, and their appointment left the apostles free to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. The men selected for the office are supposed to have been Hellenists, from the fact that all their names are Greek, and one is especially described as a proselyte, Act_6:5; but this cannot be positively asserted, since it was not uncommon for Jews to assume Greek names. See on Rom_16:5. The work of the deacons was, primarily, the relief of the sick and poor; but spiritual ministrations naturally developed in connection with their office. The latter are referred to by the term helps, 1Co_12:28. Stephen and Philip especially appear in this capacity, Acts 8:5-40; Act_6:8-11. Such may also be the meaning of ministering, Rom_12:7. Hence men of faith, piety, and sound judgment were recommended for the office by the apostles, Act_6:3; 1Ti_3:8-13. Women were also chosen as deaconesses, and Phoebe, the bearer of the epistle to the Romans, is commonly supposed to have been one of these. See on Rom_16:1.
Ignatius says of deacons: “They are not ministers of food and drink, but servants (υπηρέται, see on Mat_5:25) of the Church of God” (“Epistle to Tralles,” 2). “Let all pay respect to the deacons as to Jesus Christ” (“Tralles,” 3). “Respect the deacons as the voice of God enjoins you” (“Epistle to Smyrna,” 8). In “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” the local churches or individual congregations are ruled by bishops and deacons. “Elect therefore for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord; men meek and not lovers of money, and truthful and approved; for they too minister to you the ministry of the prophets and teachers. Therefore despise them not, for they are those that are the honored among you with the prophets and teachers” (xv., 1, 2). Deaconesses are not mentioned.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Grace … peace — The very form of this salutation implies the union of Jew, Greek, and Roman. The Greek salutation was “joy” (chairein), akin to the Greek for “grace” (charis). The Roman was “health,” the intermediate term between grace and peace. The Hebrew was “peace,” including both temporal and spiritual prosperity. Grace must come first if we are to have true peace.
from … from — Omit the second “from”: as in the Greek, “God our Father” and “the Lord Jesus Christ,” are most closely connected.
Grace – This word properly means “favor.” It is very often used in the New Testament, and is employed in the sense of benignity or benevolence; felicity, or a prosperous state of affairs; the Christian religion, as the highest expression of the benevolence or favor of God; the happiness which Christianity confers on its friends in this and the future life; the apostolic office; charity, or alms; thanksgiving; joy, or pleasure; and the benefits produced on the Christian’s heart and life by religion – the grace of meekness, patience, charity, etc., “Schleusner.” In this place, and in similar places in the beginning of the apostolic epistles, it seems to be a word including all those blessings that are applicable to Christians in common; denoting an ardent wish that all the mercies and favors of God for time and eternity, blended under the general name grace, may be conferred on them. It is to be understood as connected with a word implying invocation. I pray, or I desire, that grace, etc. may be conferred on you. It is the customary form of salutation in nearly all the apostolic epistles; 1Co_1:3; 2Co_1:2; Gal_1:3; Eph_1:2; Phi_1:2; Col_1:2; 1Th_1:1; 2Th_1:2; Phm_1:3.
And peace – Peace is the state of freedom from war. As war conveys the idea of discord and numberless calamities and dangers, so peace is the opposite, and conveys the idea of concord, safety, and prosperity. Thus, to wish one peace was the same as to wish him all safety and prosperity. This form of salutation was common among the Hebrews. Gen_43:23, “peace to you! fear not;” Jdg_6:23; Jdg_19:20; Luk_24:36. But the word “peace” is also used in contrast with that state of agitation and conflict which a sinner has with his conscience. and with God. The sinner is like the troubled sea, which cannot rest, Isa_57:20. The Christian is at peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, Rom_5:1. By this word, denoting reconciliation with God, the blessings of the Christian religion are often described in the scriptures, Rom_8:6; Rom_14:17; Rom_15:13; Gal_5:22; Phi_4:7. A prayer for peace, therefore, in the epistles, is not a mere formal salutation, but has a special reference to those “spiritual” blessings which result from reconciliation with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
From God our Father – The Father of all Christians. He is the Father of all his creatures, as they are his offspring, Act_17:28-29. He is especially the Father of all Christians, as they have been “begotten by him to a lively hope,” have been adopted into his family, and are like him; Mat_5:45; 1Pe_1:3; 1Jo_5:1; 1Jo_3:1-2. The expression here is equivalent to a prayer that God the Father would bestow grace and peace on the Romans. It implies that these blessings proceed from God, and are to be expected from him.
And the Lord Jesus Christ – From him. The Lord Jesus Christ is especially regarded in the New Testament as the Source of peace, and the Procurer of it; see Luk_2:14; Luk_19:38, Luk_19:42; Joh_14:27; Joh_16:33; Act_10:36; Rom_5:1; Eph_2:17. Each of these places will show with what propriety peace was invoked from the Lord Jesus. From thus connecting the Lord Jesus with the Father in this place, we may see,
(1) That the apostle regarded him as the source of grace and peace as really as he did the Father.
(2) he introduced them in the same connection, and with reference to the bestowment of the same blessings.
(3) if the mention of the Father in this connection implies a prayer to him, or an act of worship, the mention of the Lord Jesus implies the same thing, and was an act of homage to him.
(4) all this shows that his mind was familiarized to the idea that he was divine.
No man would introduce his name in such connections if he did not believe that he was equal with God; compare Phi_2:2-11. It is from this incidental and unstudied manner of expression, that we have one of the most striking proofs of the manner in which the sacred writers regarded the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I give thanks. He begins with thanksgiving on two accounts — first, that he may by this token shew his love to the Philippians; and secondly, that, by commending them as to the past, he may exhort them, also, to perseverance in time to come. He adduces, also, another evidence of his love — the anxiety which he exercised in supplications. It is to be observed, however, that, whenever he makes mention of things that are joyful, he immediately breaks forth into thanksgiving — a practice with which we ought also to be familiar. We must, also, take notice, what things they are for which he gives thanks to God, — the fellowship of the Philippians in the gospel of Christ; for it follows from this, that it ought to be ascribed to the grace of God. When he says, upon every remembrance of you, he means, “As often as I remember you.”
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you – Margin, “mention.” The Greek word means, “recollection, remembrance.” But this recollection may have been suggested either by his own reflections on what he had seen, or by what he had heard of them by others, or by the favors which they conferred on him reminding him of them. The meaning is, that as often as he thought on them, from whatever cause, he had occasion of thankfulness. He says that he thanked his God, intimating that the conduct of the Philippians was a proof of the favor of God to him; that is, he regarded their piety as one of the tokens of the favor of God to his own soul – for in producing that piety he had been mainly instrumental.
4Always in every prayer. Connect the words in this manner: “Always presenting prayer for you all in every prayer of mine.” For as he had said before, that the remembrance of them was an occasion of joy to him, so he now subjoins, that they come into his mind as often as he prays. He afterwards adds, that it is with joy that he presents prayer in their behalf. Joy refers to the past; prayer to the future. For he rejoiced in their auspicious beginnings, and was desirous of their perfection. Thus it becomes us always to rejoice in the blessings received from God in such a manner, as to remember to ask from him those things that we are still in need of.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
making request — Translate, “making my request.”
for you all — The frequent repetition in this Epistle of “all” with “you,” marks that Paul desires to declare his love for all alike, and will not recognize any divisions among them.
with joy — the characteristic feature in this Epistle, as love is in that to the Ephesians (compare Phi_1:18; Phi_2:2, Phi_2:19, Phi_2:28; Phi_3:1; Phi_4:1, Phi_4:4). Love and joy are the two first-fruits of the Spirit. Joy gives especial animation to prayers. It marked his high opinion of them, that there was almost everything in them to give him joy, and almost nothing to give him pain.
Rev., better, supplication. See on Luk_5:33.
For you all
Connect with every prayer of mine.
Request (τὴν δέησιν)
Rev., better, my supplication. The article refers to every supplication.
Joy is the keynote of this epistle. Bengel says: “The sum of the epistle is, ‘I rejoice, rejoice ye.”’ See Phi_1:18, Phi_1:25; Phi_2:2, Phi_2:17, Phi_2:18, Phi_2:28, Phi_2:29; Phi_3:1; Phi_4:1, Phi_4:4, Phi_4:10.
For your fellowship in the gospel – “For your liberality toward me, a preacher of the gospel.” – Wetstein. There has been, however, no little difference of opinion about the meaning of this phrase. Many – as Doddridge, Koppe, and others – suppose it refers to the fact that they participated in the blessings of the gospel from the first day that he preached it until the time when he wrote this Epistle. Others suppose that it refers to their constancy in the Christian faith. Others – as Pierce, Michaelis, Wetstein, Bloomfield, and Storr – suppose it refers to their liberality in contributing to the support of the gospel; to their participating with others, or sharing what they had in common with others, for the maintenance of the gospel. That this is the true sense seems apparent:
(1) because it accords with the scope of the Epistle, and what the apostle elsewhere says of their benefactions. He speaks particularly of their liberality, and indeed this was one of the principal occasions of his writing the Epistle; Phi_4:10-12, Phi_4:15-18.
(2) it accords with a frequent meaning of the word rendered “fellowship” – κοινωνία koinonia. It denotes that which is in common; that of which we participate with others, communion, fellowship; Act_2:42; 1Co_1:9; 1Co_10:16; Phm_1:6; then it means communication, distribution, contribution; Rom_15:26; 2Co_9:13. That it cannot mean “accession to the gospel” as has been supposed (see Robinson’s Lexicon), is apparent from what he adds – “from the first day until now.” The fellowship must have been something constant, and continually manifest – and the general meaning is, that in relation to the gospel – to its support, and privileges, and spirit, they all shared in common. They felt a common interest in every thing that pertained to it, and they showed this in every suitable way, and especially in ministering to the wants of those who were appointed to preach it.
From the first day – The time when it was first preached to them. They had been constant. This is honorable testimony. It is much to say of a church or of an individual Christian, that they have been constant and uniform in the requirements of the gospel. Alas, of how few can this be said. On these verses Phi_1:3-5 we may remark:
(1) That one of the highest joys which a minister of the gospel can have, is that furnished by the holy walk of the people to whom he has ministered; compare 3Jo_1:4. It is joy like that of a farmer when he sees his fields ripe for a rich harvest; like that of a teacher in the good conduct and rapid progress of his scholars; like that of a parent in the virtue, success, and piety of his sons. Yet it is superior to all that. The interests are higher and more important; the results are more far-reaching and pure; and the joy is more disinterested. Probably there is nowhere else on earth any happiness so pure, elevated, consoling, and rich, as that of a pastor in the piety, peace, benevolence, and growing zeal of his people.
(2) it is right to commend Christians when they do well. Paul never hesitated to do this, and never supposed that it would do injury. Flattery would injure – but Paul never flattered. Commendation or praise, in order to do good, and not to injure, should be:
(a) the simple statement of the truth;
(b) it should be without exaggeration;
(c) it should be connected with an equal readiness to rebuke when wrong; to admonish when in error, and to counsel when one goes astray.
Constant fault-finding, scolding, or fretfulness, does no good in a family, a school, or a church. The tendency is to dishearten, irritate, and discourage. To commend a child when he does well, may be as important, and as much a duty, as to rebuke him when he does ill. God is as careful to commend his people when they do well, as he is to rebuke them when they do wrong – and that parent, teacher, or pastor, has much mistaken the path of wisdom, who supposes it to be his duty always to find fault. In this world there is nothing that goes so far in promoting happiness as a willingness to be pleased rather than displeased to be satisfied rather than dissatisfied with the conduct of others.
(3) our absent friends should be remembered in our prayers. On our knees before God is the best place to remember them. We know not their condition. If they are sick, we cannot minister to their needs; if in danger, we cannot run to their relief; if tempted, we cannot counsel them. But God, who is with them, car do all this; and it is an inestimable privilege thus to be permitted to commend them to his holy care and keeping. Besides, it is a duty to do it. It is one way – and the best way – to repay their kindness. A child may always be repaying the kindness of absent parents by supplicating the divine blessing on them each morning; and a brother may strengthen and continue his love for a sister, and in part repay her tender love, by seeking, when far away, the divine favor to be bestowed on her.
For your fellowship (epi tei Koinéoniai humon). “On the basis of your contribution” as in 2Co_8:4; 2Co_9:13; Act_2:42. The particular kind of “partnership” or “fellowship” involved is the contribution made by the Philippians for the spread of the gospel (Phi_1:7 sugKoinéonous and Phi_4:14 where sugKoinéonesantes occurs).
In furtherance of the gospel (eis to euaggelion). “For the gospel.”
From the first day until now (apo tes protes hemeras achri tou nun). As when in Thessalonica (Phi_4:15.), in Corinth (Act_18:5; 2Co_11:7-10), and now in Rome.
6Persuaded of this very thing.An additional ground of joy is furnished in his confidence in them for the time to come. But some one will say, why should men dare to assure themselves for to-morrow amidst so great an infirmity of nature, amidst so many impediments, ruggednesses, and precipices? Paul, assuredly, did not derive this confidence from the steadfastness or excellence of men, but simply from the fact, that God had manifested his love to the Philippians. And undoubtedly this is the true manner of acknowledging God’s benefits — when we derive from them occasion of hoping well as to the future. For as they are tokens at once of his goodness, and of his fatherly benevolence towards us, what ingratitude were it to derive from this no confirmation of hope and good courage! In addition to this, God is not like men, so as to be wearied out or exhausted by conferring kindness. Let, therefore, believers exercise themselves in constant meditation upon the favors which God confers, that they may encourage and confirm hope as to the time to come, and always ponder in their mind this syllogism: God does not forsake the work which his own hands have begun, as the Prophet bears witness, (Psa_138:8; Isa_64:8;) we are the work of his hands; therefore he will complete what he has begun in us. When I say that we are the work of his hands, I do not refer to mere creation, but to the calling by which we are adopted into the number of his sons. For it is a token to us of our election, that the Lord has called us effectually to himself by his Spirit.
It is asked, however, whether any one can be certain as to the salvation of others, for Paul here is not speaking of himself but of the Philippians. I answer, that the assurance which an individual has respecting his own salvation, is very different from what he has as to that of another. For the Spirit of God is a witness to me of my calling, as he is to each of the elect. As to others, we have no testimony, except from the outward efficacy of the Spirit; that is, in so far as the grace of God shews itself in them, so that we come to know it. There is, therefore, a great difference, because the assurance of faith remains inwardly shut up, and does not extend itself to others. But wherever we see any such tokens of Divine election as can be perceived by us, we ought immediately to be stirred up to entertain good hope, both in order that we may not be envious towards our neighbors, and withhold from them an equitable and kind judgment of charity; and also, that we may be grateful to God. This, however, is a general rule both as to ourselves and as to others — that, distrusting our own strength, we depend entirely upon God alone.
Until the day of Jesus Christ The chief thing, indeed, to be understood here is — until the termination of the conflict. Now the conflict is terminated by death. As, however, the Spirit is accustomed to speak in this manner in reference to the last coming of Christ, it were better to extend the advancement of the grace of Christ to the resurrection of the flesh. For although those who have been freed from the mortal body do no longer contend with the lusts of the flesh, and are, as the expression is, beyond the reach of a single dart, yet there will be no absurdity in speaking of them as in the way of advancement, inasmuch as they have not yet reached the point at which they aspire, — they do not yet enjoy the felicity and glory which they have hoped for; and in fine, the day has not yet shone which is to discover the treasures which lie hid in hope. And in truth, when hope is treated of, our eyes must always be directed forward to a blessed resurrection, as the grand object in view.
Being confident – This is strong language. It means to be fully and firmly persuaded or convinced; participle, middle voice, from πείθω peithō – to persuade; compare Luk_16:31. “Neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead;” that is, they would not be convinced; Act_17:4; Heb_11:13; Act_28:24. It means here that Paul was entirely convinced of the truth of what he said. It is the language of a man who had no doubt on the subject.
That he which hath begun a good work in you – The “good work” here referred to, can be no other than religion, or true piety. This is called the work of God; the work of the Lord; or the work of Christ; Joh_6:29; compare 1Co_15:58; 1Co_16:10; Phi_2:30. Paul affirms here that that work was begun by God. It was not by their own agency or will; compare the notes on Joh_1:13. It was on the fact that it was begun by God, that he based his firm conviction that it would be permanent. Had it been the agency of man, he would have had no such conviction, for nothing that man does today can lay the foundation of a certain conviction that he will do the same thing tomorrow. If the perseverance of the Christian depended wholly on himself, therefore, there could be no sure evidence that he would ever reach heaven.
Will perform it – Margin, “Or, finish” The Greek word – επιτελέσει epitelesei – means that he would carry it forward to completion; he would perfect it. It is an intensive form of the word, meaning that it would be carried through to the end. It occurs in the following places: Luk_13:32, “I do cures;” Rom_15:28, “when I have performed this;” 2Co_7:1, “perfecting holiness;” 2Co_8:6, “so he would also finish in you;” 2Co_8:11, “perform the doing of it;” Gal_3:3, “are ye now made perfect by the flesh;” Heb_8:5, “when he was about to make the tabernacle;” Heb_9:6, “accomplishing this service;” and 1Pe_5:9, “are accomplished in your brethren.” The word occurs nowhere else; and here means that God would carry on the work which he had begun to completion. He would not leave it unfinished. It would not he commenced and then abandoned. This would or could be “performed” or “finished” only:
(1) by keeping them from falling from grace, and,
(2) by their ultimate entire perfection.
Until the day of Jesus Christ – The day when Christ shall so manifest himself as to be the great attractive object, or the day when he shall appear to glorify himself, so that it may be said emphatically to be his day. That day is often called “his day,” or “the day of the Lord,” because it will be the day of his triumph and glory. It refers here to the day when the Lord Jesus will appear to receive his people to himself – the day of judgment. We may remark on this verse, that Paul believed in the perseverance of saints. It would be impossible to express a stronger conviction of the truth of that doctrine than he has done here. Language could not be clearer, and nothing can be more unequivocal than the declaration of his opinion that where God has begun a good work in the soul, it will not be finally lost. The ground of this belief he has not stated in full, but has merely hinted at it. It is based on the fact that God had begun the good work. That ground of belief is something like the following:
(1) It is in God alone. It is not in man in any sense. No reliance is to be placed upon man in keeping himself. He is too weak; too changeable; too ready to be led astray; too much disposed to yield to temptation.
(2) the reliance, therefore, is on God; and the evidence that the renewed man will be kept is this:
(a) God began the work of grace in the soul.
(b) He had a design in it. It was deliberate, and intentional. It was not by chance or haphazard. It was because he had some object that was worthy of his interposition.
(c) There is no reason why he should begin such a work and then abandon it. It cannot be because he has no power to complete it, or because there are more enemies to be overcome than he had supposed; or because there are difficulties which he did not foresee; or because it is not desirable that the work should be completed. Why then should he abandon it?
(d) God abandons nothing that he undertakes. There are no unfinished worlds or systems; no half-made and forsaken works of His hands. There is no evidence in His works of creation of change of plan, or of having forsaken what He began from disgust, or disappointment, or lack of power to complete them. Why should there be in the salvation of the soul?
(e) He has promised to keep the renewed soul to eternal life; see Joh_10:27-29; Heb_6:17-20; compare Rom_8:29-30.
7As it is reasonable. For we are envious valuators of the gifts of God if we do not reckon as children of God those in whom there shine forth those true tokens of piety, which are the marks by which the Spirit of adoption manifests himself. Paul accordingly says, that equity itself dictates to him, that he should hope well of the Philippians in all time to come, inasmuch as he sees them to be associated with himself in participation of grace. It is not without due consideration that I have given a different rendering of this passage from that of Erasmus, as the judicious reader will easily perceive. For he states what opinion he has of the Philippians, which was the ground of his hoping well respecting them. He says, then, that they are partakers with him of the same grace in his bonds, and in the defense of the gospel.
To have them in his heart is to reckon them as such in the inmost affection of his heart. For the Philippians had always assisted Paul according to their ability, so as to connect themselves with him as associates for maintaining the cause of the gospel, so far as was in their power. Thus, although they were absent in body, yet, on account of the pious disposition which they shewed by every service in their power, he recognises them as in bonds along with him. “I have you, therefore, in my heart;” this is, sincerely and without any pretense, assuredly, and with no slight or doubtful opinion — as what? as partakers of grace— in what? in my bonds, by which the gospel is defended. As he acknowledged them to be such, it was reasonable that he should hope well respecting them.
Of my grace and in the bonds.It were a ludicrous thing in the view of the world to reckon a prison to be a benefit from God, but if we estimate the matter aright, it is no common honor that God confers upon us, when we suffer persecution for the sake of his truth. For it was not in vain that it was said, Blessed shall ye be, when men shall afflict and harass you with all kinds of reproaches for my name’s sake. (Mat_5:11 )
Let us therefore bear in remembrance also, that we must with readiness and alacrity embrace the fellowship of the cross of Christ as a special favor from God. In addition to bonds he subjoins the defense and confirmation of the gospel,that he may express so much the better the honourableness of the service which God has enjoined upon us in placing us in opposition to his enemies, so as to bear testimony to his gospel. For it is as though he had entrusted us with the defense of his gospel. And truly it was when armed with this consideration, that the martyrs were prepared to contemn all the rage of the wicked, and to rise superior to every kind of torture. And would that this were present to the mind of all that are called to make a confession of their faith, that they have been chosen by Christ to be as advocates to plead his cause! For were they sustained by such consolation they would be more courageous than to be so easily turned aside into a perfidious revolt.
Here, however, some one will inquire, whether the confirmation of the gospel depends on the steadfastness of men. I answer, that the truth of God is in itself too firm to require that it should have support from any other quarter; for though we should all of us be found liars, God, nevertheless, remains true. (Rom_3:4.) There is, however, no absurdity in saying, that weak consciences are confirmed in it by such helps. That kind of confirmation, therefore, of which Paul makes mention, has a relation to men, as we learn from our own experience that the slaughter of so many martyrs has been attended at least with this advantage, that they have been as it were so many seals, by which the gospel has been sealed in our hearts. Hence that saying of Tertullian, that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” — which I have imitated in a certain poem: “But that sacred blood, the maintainer of God’s honor, will be like seed for producing offspring.”
It is meet for me to think this – Εστι δικαιον· It is just that I should think so, because I have you in my heart – you live in my warmest love and most affectionate remembrance.
Inasmuch as both in my bonds – Because you have set your hearts upon me in my bonds, sending Epaphroditus to minister to me in my necessities, Phi_2:25, and contributing of your own substance to me, Phi_4:14, sending once and again to me while I was in bonds for the defense of the faith, Phi_4:15, Phi_4:16; those things which being a sweet savor, a sacrifice well pleasing and acceptable to God, Phi_4:18, confirm my hope concerning you; especially when I find you yet standing firm under the like afflictions, having the same conflict which ye saw in me, when I was among you, Act_16:12, etc., and now hear to be in me, Phi_1:30. Whitby.
Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all – “There is a reason why I should cherish this hope of you, and this confident expectation that you will be saved. That reason is found in the evidence which you have given that you are sincere Christians. Having evidence of that, it is proper that I should believe that you will finally reach heaven.”
Because I have you in my heart – Margin, “Ye have me in your.” The Greek will bear either, though the former translation is the most obvious. The meaning is, that he was warmly attached to them, and had experienced many proofs of their kindness; and that there was, therefore, a propriety in his wishing for their salvation. Their conduct toward him, moreover, in his trials, had convinced him that they were actuated by Christian principle; and it was proper that he should believe that they would be kept to eternal life.
Both in my bonds – While I have been a prisoner – referring to the care which they had taken to minister to his needs; Phi_4:10, Phi_4:14, Phi_4:18.
And in the defence – Greek: apology. He is probably referring to the time when he made his defense before Nero, and vindicated himself from the charges which had been brought against him; see the notes at 2Ti_4:16. Perhaps he means here, that on that occasion he was abandoned by those who should have stood by him, but that the Philippians showed him all the attention which they could. It is not impossible that they may have sent some of their number to sympathize with him in his trials, and to assure him of the unabated confidence of the church.
And confirmation of the gospel – In my efforts to defend the gospel, and to make it known; see Phi_1:17. The allusion is probably to the fact that, in all his efforts to defend the gospel, he had been sure of their sympathy and cooperation. Perhaps he refers to some assistance which he had derived from them in this cause, which is now to us unknown.
Ye all are partakers of my grace – Margin, “Or, with me of grace.” The meaning is, that as they had participated with him in the defense of the gospel; as in all his troubles and persecutions they had made common cause with him, so it followed that they would partake of the same tokens of the divine favor. He expected that the divine blessing would follow his efforts in the cause of the gospel, and he says that they would share in the blessing. They had shown all the sympathy which they could in his trials; they had nobly stood by him when others forsook him; and he anticipated, as a matter of course, that they would all share in the benefits which would flow to him in his efforts in the cause of the Redeemer.
Because I have you in my heart (dia to echein me en tei kardiai humas). Or “because you hold me in your heart.” Literally, “because of the holding me (or you) in the heart as to you (or me).” One accusative is the object of the infinitive echein, the other is the accusative of general reference. There is no way to decide which is the idea meant except to say that love begets love. The pastor who, like Paul, holds his people in his heart will find them holding him in their hearts.
In the defence (en tei apologiai). Old word (our word apology, but not our idea of apologizing), in the original sense in Act_22:1; Act_25:16. So also in Phi_1:16 below.
Confirmation (bebaiosei). Old word from bebaioo (bebaios, baino), to make stable. In N.T. only here and Heb_6:16 about oath.
Partakers with me of grace (sugKoinéonous mou tes charitos). Literally, “my Corinthians-sharers in grace” (objective genitive). “Grace prompted them to alleviate his imprisonment, to cooperate with him in defending and propagating the gospel, and to suffer for its sake” (Vincent, Int. Crit. Comm.).
8.For God is my witness.He now declares more explicitly his affection for them, and, with the view of giving proof of it, he makes use of an oath, and that on good grounds, because we know how dear in the sight of God is the edification of his Church. It was, too, more especially of advantage, that Paul’s affection should be thoroughly made known to the Philippians. For it tends in no small degree to secure credit for the doctrine, when the people are persuaded that they are beloved by the teacher. He calls God as a witness to the truth, inasmuch as he alone is the Truth, and as a witness of his affection, inasmuch as he alone is the searcher of hearts. In the word rendered long after, a particular term is made use of instead of a general, and it is a token of affection, inasmuch as we long afterthose things which are dear to us.
In the bowels He places the bowels of Christ in opposition to carnal affection, to intimate that his affection is holy and pious. For the man that loves according to the flesh has respect to his own advantage, and may from time to time change his mind according to the variety of circumstances and seasons. In the meantime he instructs us by what rule the affections of believers ought to be regulated, so that, renouncing their own will, they may allow Christ to sit at the helm. And, unquestionably, true love can flow from no other source than from the bowels of Christ, and this, like a goad, ought to affect us not a little — that Christ in a manner opens his bowels, that by them he may cherish mutual affection between us.
For God is my record – My witness; I can solemnly appeal to him.
How greatly I long after you all – To see you; and how much I desire your welfare.
In the bowels of Jesus Christ – The word “bowels,” in the Scriptures denotes the upper viscera – the region of the heart and lungs: see the notes at Isa_16:11. That region was regarded as the seat of affection, sympathy, and compassion, as the heart is with us. The allusion here is to the sympathy, tenderness, and love of the Redeemer; and probably the meaning is, that Paul regarded them with something of the affection which the Lord Jesus had for them. This was the tenderest and strongest expression which he could find to denote the ardor of his attachment.
9This I pray that your love He returns to the prayer, which he had simply touched upon in one word in passing. He states, accordingly, the sum of those things which he asked from God in their behalf, that they also may learn to pray after his example, and may aspire at proficiency in those gifts. The view taken by some, as though the love of the Philippians denoted the Philippians themselves, as illiterate persons are accustomed very commonly to say, “Your reverence,” — “Your paternity,” is absurd. For no instance of such an expression occurs in the writings of Paul, nor had such fooleries come into use. Besides, the statement would be less complete, and, independently of this, the simple and natural meaning of the words suits admirably well. For the true attainments of Christians are when they make progress in knowledge, and understanding, and afterwards in love. Accordingly the particle in, according to the idiom of the Hebrew tongue, is taken here to mean with, as I have also rendered it, unless perhaps one should prefer to explain it as meaning by, so as to denote the instrument or formal cause. For, the greater proficiency we make in knowledge, so much the more ought our loveto increase. The meaning in that case would be, “That your love may increase according to the measure of knowledge.” All knowledge, means what is full and complete — not a knowledge of all things.
This I pray – This is the substance of all my prayers for you, that your love to God, to one another, and to all mankind, may abound yet more and more, ετι μαλλον και μαλλον περισσευη, that it may be like a river, perpetually fed with rain and fresh streams so that it continues to swell and increase till it fills all its banks, and floods the adjacent plains.
In knowledge – Of God’s nature, perfections, your own duty and interest, his work upon your souls, and his great designs in the Gospel.
And in all judgment – Και παση αισθησει· In all spiritual or moral feeling; that you may at once have the clearest perception and the fullest enjoyment of those things which concern your salvation; that ye may not only know but feel that you are of God, by the Spirit which he has given you; and that your feeling may become more exercised in Divine things, so that it may he increasingly sensible and refined.
And this I pray – We pray for those whom we love, and whose welfare we seek. We desire their happiness; and there is no way more appropriate of expressing that desire than of going to God, and seeking it at his hand. Paul proceeds to enumerate the blessings which he sought for them; and it is worthy of observation that he did not ask riches, or worldly prosperity, but that his supplications were confined to spiritual blessings, and he sought these as the most desirable of all favors.
That your love may abound … – Love to God; love to one another; love to absent Christians; love to the world. This is an appropriate subject of prayer. We cannot wish and pray for a better thing for our Christian friends, than that they may abound in love. Nothing will promote their welfare like this; and we had better pray for this, than that they may obtain abundant riches, and share the honors and pleasures of the world.
In knowledge – The idea is, that he wished them to have intelligent affection. It should not be mere blind affection, but that intelligent love which is based on an enlarged view of divine things – on a just apprehension of the claims of God.
And in all judgment – Margin, “sense;” compare the notes at Heb_5:14. The word here means, the power of discerning; and the meaning is, that he wished that their love should be exercised with proper discrimination. It should be in proportion to the relative value of objects; and the meaning of the whole is, that the wished their religion to be intelligent and discriminating; to be based on knowledge, and a proper sense of the relative value of objects, as well as to be the tender affection of the heart.
10That ye may approve the things that are Here we have a definition of Christian wisdom — to know what is advantageous or expedient — not to torture the mind with empty subtleties and speculations. For the Lord does not wish that his believing people should employ themselves fruitlessly in learning what is of no profit: From this you may gather in what estimation the Sorbonnic theology ought to be held, in which you may spend your whole life, and yet not derive more of edification from it in connection with the hope of a heavenly life, or more of spiritual advantage, than from the demonstrations of Euclid. Unquestionably, although it taught nothing false, it well deserves to be execrable, on the ground that it is a pernicious profanation of spiritual doctrine. For Scripture is useful, as Paul says, in 2Ti_3:16, but there you will find nothing but cold subtleties of words.
That ye may be sincere.This is the advantage which we derive from knowledge— not that every one may artfully consult his own interests, but that we may live in pure conscience in the sight of God.
It is added — and without offense The Greek word ἀπροσκοποι is ambiguous. Chrysostom explains it in an active sense — that as he had desired that they should be pure and upright in the sight of God, so he now desires that they should lead an honorable life in the sight of men, that they may not injure their neighbors by any evil examples. This exposition I do not reject: the passive signification, however, is better suited to the context, in my opinion. For he desires wisdom for them, with this view — that they may with unwavering step go forward in their calling until the day of Christ, as on the other hand it happens through ignorance, that we frequently slip our foot, stumble, and turn aside. And how many stumbling blocks Satan from time to time throws in our way, with the view of either stopping our course altogether, or impeding it, every one of us knows from his own experience.
That ye may approve things that are excellent – Εις το δοκιμαζειν υμας τα διαφεροντα· To the end that ye may put to proof the things that differ, or the things that are in are more profitable. By the pure and abundant love which they received from God they would be able to try whatever differed from the teaching they had received, and from the experience they had in spiritual things.
That ye may be sincere – Ινα ητε ειλικρινεις. The word ειλικρινεια, which we translate sincerity, is compounded of ειλη, the splendor of the sun, and κρινω, I judge; a thing which may be examined in the clearest and strongest light, without the possibility of detecting a single flaw or imperfection. “A metaphor,” says Mr. Leigh, “taken from the usual practice of chapmen, in the view and choice of their wares, that bring them forth into the light and hold up the cloth against the sun, to see if they can espy any default in them. Pure as the sun.” Be so purified and refined in your souls, by the indwelling Spirit, that even the light of God shining into your hearts, shall not be able to discover a fault that the love of God has not purged away.
Our word sincerity is from the Latin sinceritas, which is compounded of sine, without, and cera, wax, and is a metaphor taken from clarified honey; for the mel sincerum, pure or clarified honey, is that which is sine cera, without wax, no part of the comb being left in it. Sincerity, taken in its full meaning, is a word of the most extensive import; and, when applied in reference to the state of the soul, is as strong as the word perfection itself. The soul that is sincere is the soul that is without sin.
Without offense – Απροσκοποι· Neither offending God nor your neighbor; neither being stumbled yourselves, nor the cause of stumbling to others.
Till the day of Christ – Till he comes to judge the world, or, till the day in which you are called into the eternal world. According to this prayer, a man, under the power and influence of the grace of God, may so love as never to offend his Maker, to the latest period of his life. Those who deny this, must believe that the Spirit of God either cannot or will not do it; or, that the blood of Christ cannot cleanse from all unrighteousness. And this would be not only antiscriptural, but also blasphemous.
That ye may approve things – Margin, “Or, try.” The word used here denotes the kind of trial to which metals are exposed in order to test their nature; and the sense here is, that the apostle wished them so to try the things that were of real value, as to discern that which was true and genuine.
That are excellent – Margin: Or, “differ.” The margin here more correctly expresses the sense of the Greek word. The idea is, that he wished them to be able to distinguish between things that differed from each other; to have an intelligent apprehension of what was right and wrong – of what was good and evil. He would not have them love and approve all things indiscriminately. They should be esteemed according to their real value. It is remarkable here how anxious the apostle was not only that they should be Christians, but that they should be intelligent Christians, and should understand the real worth and value of objects.
That ye may be sincere – See the notes at Eph_6:24. The word used here – ειλικρινής eilikrines – occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in 2Pe_3:1, where it is rendered “pure.” The noun ειλικρίνεια eilikrineia, however, occurs in 1Co_5:8; 2Co_1:12; 2Co_2:17; in all which places it is rendered “sincerity.” The word properly means, “that which is judged in sunshine” είλη κρίνω heile krino; and then “that which is clear and manifest.” It is that over which there are no clouds; which is not doubtful and dark; which is pure and bright. The word “sincere” means literally without wax (sine cera); that is, honey which is pure and transparent. Applied to Christian character, it means that which is not deceitful, ambiguous, hypocritical; that which is not mingled with error, worldliness, and sin; that which does not proceed from selfish and interested motives, and where there is nothing disguised. There is no more desirable appellation that can be given to a man than to say that he is sincere – a sincere friend, benefactor, Christian; and there is nothing more lovely in the character of a Christian than sincerity. It implies:
(1) that he is truly converted – that he has not assumed Christianity as a mask;
(2) that his motives are disinterested and pure;
(3) that his conduct is free from double-dealing, trick, and cunning;
(4) that his words express the real sentiments of his heart;
(5) that he is true to his word, and faithful to his promises; and,
(6) that he is always what he professes to be. A sincere Christian would bear to have the light let in upon him always; to have the emotions of his heart seen; to be scanned everywhere, and at all times, by people, by angels, and by God.
And without offence – Inoffensive to others. Not injuring them in property, feelings, or reputation. This is a negative virtue, and is often despised by the world. But it is much to say of a man that he injures no one; that neither by example, nor opinions, nor conversation, he leads them astray; that he never does injustice to their motives, and never impedes their influence; that he never wounds their feelings, or gives occasion for hard thoughts; and that he so lives that all may see that his is a blameless life.
Till the day of Christ – See the notes at Phi_1:6.
So that ye may (eis to humas). Either purpose or result (eis to plus infinitive as in Rom_1:11, Rom_1:20; Rom_3:26, etc.).
Approve the things that are excellent (dokimazein ta diapheronta). Originally, “test the things that differ.” Cf. same idiom in Rom_2:28. The verb was used for assaying metals. Either sense suits this context, but the first step is to distinguish between good and evil and that is not always easy in our complex civilization.
Sincere (eilikrineis). Old word of uncertain origin from krino, to judge, by heile (sunlight) or to sift by rapid rolling (eilos). At any rate it means pure, unsullied.
Void of offence (aproskopoi). Alpha privative pros and kopto, to cut, “not stumbled against” (not causing others to stumble) or if active “not stumbling against.” Passive sense probably, not active as in 1Co_10:32. Common in the papyri, though not in ancient Greek writers.
11Filled with the fruits of righteousness. This now belongs to the outward life, for a good conscience produces its fruits by means of works. Hence he desires that they may be fruitful in good works for the glory of God. Such fruits, he says, are by Christ, because they flow from the grace of Christ. For the beginning of our well-doing is, when we are sanctified by his Spirit, for he rested upon him, that we might all receive of his fullness. (Joh_1:16.) And as Paul here derives a similitude from trees, we are wild olive-trees,(Rom_11:24,) and unproductive, until we are ingrafted into Christ, who by his living root makes us fruitbearing trees, in accordance with that saying, (Joh_15:1,) I am the vine, ye are the branches.He at the same time shews the end — that we may promote the glory of God. For no life is so excellent in appearance as not to be corrupted and become offensive in the view of God, if it is not directed towards this object.
Paul’s speaking here of works under the term righteousness, is not at all inconsistent with the gratuitous righteousness of faith. For it does not immediately follow that there is righteousness wherever there are the fruits of righteousness, inasmuch as there is no righteousness in the sight of God, unless there be a full and complete obedience to the law, which is not found in any one of the saints, though, nevertheless, they bring forth, according to the measure, the good and pleasant fruits of righteousness, and for this reason, that, as God begins righteousness in us, through the regeneration of the Spirit, so what is wanting is amply supplied through the remission of sins, in such a way that all righteousness, nevertheless, depends upon faith.
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness – By righteousness we may understand, here, the whole work of the Spirit of God, in the soul of a believer; and by the fruits of righteousness, all holy tempers, holy words, and right actions. And with these they are to be filled, πεπληρωμενοι, filled up, filled full; the whole soul and life occupied with them, ever doing something by which glory is brought to God, or good done to man.
By Jesus Christ – That is, according to his doctrine, through the power of his grace, and by the agency of his Spirit.
Unto the glory and praise of God – God being honored when the work of his grace thus appears to men in the fruits of righteousness; and God is praised by all the faithful when his work thus appears. Every genuine follower of God has his glory in view by all that he does, says, or intends. He loves to glorify God, and he glorifies him by showing forth in his conversion the glorious working of the glorious power of the Lord.
Php 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God – Here are three properties of that sincerity which is acceptable to God: It must bear fruits, the fruits of righteousness, all inward and outward holiness, all good tempers, words, and works; and that so abundantly, that we may be filled with them. The branch and the fruits must derive both their virtue and their very being from the all – supporting, all – supplying root, Jesus Christ. As all these flow from the grace of Christ, so they must issue in the glory and praise of God.
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness – That which righteousness in the heart produces. The fruits, or results, will be seen in the life; and those fruits are – honesty, truth, charity, kindness, meekness, goodness. The wish of the apostle is, that they might show abundantly by their lives that they were truly righteous. He does not refer to liberality merely, but to everything which true piety in the heart is fitted to produce in the life.
Which are by Jesus Christ –
(1) Which his religion is fitted to produce.
(2) which result from endeavoring to follow his example.
(3) which are produced by his agency on the heart.
Unto the glory and praise of God – His honor is never more promoted than by the eminent holiness of his friends; see the notes at Joh_15:8. If we wish, therefore, to honor God, it should not be merely with the lips, or by acts of prayer and praise; it should be by a life devoted to him. It is easy to render the service of the lips; it is far more difficult to render that service which consists in a life of patient and consistent piety; and in proportion to the difficulty of it, is its value in his sight.