Philippians Chapter 1:12-26 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
Php 1:12
12But I wish you to know We all know from our own experience, how much the flesh is wont to be offended by the abasement of the cross. We allow, indeed, Christ crucified to be preached to us; but when he appears in connection with his cross, then, as though we were thunderstruck at the novelty of it, we either avoid him or hold him in abhorrence, and that not merely in our own persons, but also in the persons of those who deliver to us the gospel. It may have happened to the Philippians, that they were in some degree discouraged in consequence of the persecution of their Apostle. We may also very readily believe, that those bad workmen who eagerly watched every occasion, however small, of doing injury, did not refrain from triumphing over the calamity of this holy man, and by this means making his gospel contemptible. If, however, they were not successful in this attempt, they might very readily calumniate him by representing him as hated by the whole world; and at the same time leading the Philippians to dread, lest, by an unfortunate association with him, they should needlessly incur great dislike among all; for such are the usual artifices of Satan. The Apostle provides against this danger, when he states that the gospel had been promoted by means of his bonds. The design, accordingly, of this detail is, to encourage the Philippians, that they may not feel deterred (54) by the persecution endured by him.

Adam Clarke
Php 1:12
That the things which happened unto me – St. Paul was at this time a prisoner at Rome, and it appears probable that he had already been called to make a defense for himself, and to vindicate the doctrines of the Gospel; and this he had been enabled to do in such a manner that the honor of the Gospel had been greatly promoted by it. As the Philippians loved him greatly, he felt it right to give them this information relative to his state, and how God had turned his bonds to the advantage of that cause on account of which he was bound.

Albert Barnes
Php 1:12
But I would ye should understand – Paul here turns to himself, and goes into a somewhat extended account of his own feelings in his trials, and of the effects of his imprisonment at Rome he wished them to understand what his circumstances were, and what had been the effect of his imprisonment, probably, for such reasons as these:

(1) They were tenderly attached to him, and would feel an interest in all that pertained to him.

(2) it was possible that they might hear unfounded rumors about the manner of his treatment, and he wished that they should understand the exact truth.

(3) he had real intelligence to communicate to them that would be joyful to them, about the effect of his imprisonment, and his treatment there; and he wished them to rejoice with him.

That the things which happened unto me – The accusations against him, and his imprisonment at Rome. He had been falsely accused, and had been constrained to appeal to Caesar, and had been taken to Rome as a prisoner; Acts 25–28. This arrest and imprisonment would seem to have been against his success as a preacher; but he now says that the contrary had been the fact.

Have fallen out – Have resulted in. Literally, “have come.” Tyndale. “My business is happened.”

The furtherance – The increase, the promotion of the gospel. Instead of being a hindrance, they have been rather an advantage.

John Calvin
Php 1:13
13So that my bonds He employs the expression — in Christ, to mean, in the affairs,or in the cause of Christ, for he intimates that his bonds had become illustrious, so as to promote the honor of Christ. The rendering given by some — through Christ, seems forced. I have also employed the word illustria(illustrious)in preference to manifesta, (manifest,)— as having ennobled the gospel by their fame. “Satan, indeed, has attempted it, and the wicked have thought that it would turn out so, that the gospel would be destroyed; but God has frustrated both the attempts of the former and the expectations of the latter, and that in two ways, for while the gospel was previously obscure and unknown, it has come to be well known, and not only so, but has even been rendered honorable in the Praetorium, no less than in the rest of the city.” By the praetoriumI understand the hall and palace of Nero, which Fabius and writers of that age call Augustale, (the Augustal.) For as the name praetorwas at first a general term, and denoted all magistrates who held the chief sway, (hence it came that the dictator was called the sovereign praetor, ) it, consequently, became customary to employ the term praetoriumin war to mean the tent, either of the consul, or of the person who presided, while in the city it denoted the palace of Caesar, from the time that the Caesars took possession of the monarchy. Independently of this, the bench of praetor is also called the praetorium

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Php 1:13
my bonds in Christ — rather as Greek, “So that my bonds have become manifest in Christ,” that is, known, as endured in Christ’s cause.

palace — literally, “Praetorium,” that is, the barrack of the Praetorian guards attached to the palace of Nero, on the Palatine hill at Rome; not the general Praetorian camp outside of the city; for this was not connected with “Caesar’s household,” which Phi_4:22 shows the Praetorium here meant was. The emperor was “Praetor,” or Commander-in-Chief; naturally then the barrack of his bodyguard was called the Praetorium. Paul seems now not to have been at large in his own hired house, though chained to a soldier, as in Act_28:16, Act_28:20, Act_28:30, Act_28:31, but in strict custody in the Praetorium; a change which probably took place on Tigellinus becoming Praetorian Prefect. See on Introduction.

in all other places — so Chrysostom. Or else, “TO all the rest,” that is, “manifest to all the other” Praetorian soldiers stationed elsewhere, through the instrumentality of the Praetorian household guards who might for the time be attached to the emperor’s palace, and who relieved one another in succession. Paul had been now upwards of two years a prisoner, so that there was time for his cause and the Gospel having become widely known at Rome.

Albert Barnes
Php 1:13
So that my bonds in Christ – Margin, “for.” The meaning is, his bonds in the cause of Christ. He was imprisoned because he preached Christ (see the notes, Eph_6:20), and was really suffering because of his attachment to the Redeemer. It was not for crime, but for being a Christian for had he not been a Christian, he would have escaped all this. The manner of Paul’s imprisonment was, that he was permitted to occupy a house by himself, though chained to a soldier who was his guard; Act_28:16. He was not in a dungeon indeed, but he was not at liberty, and this was a severe mode of confinement. Who would wish to be chained night and day to a living witness of all that he did; to a spy on all his movements? Who would wish to have such a man always with him, to hear all he said, and to see all that he did? Who could well bear the feeling that he could never be alone – and never be at liberty to do anything without the permission of one too who probably had little disposition to be indulgent?

Are manifest – That is, it has become known that I am imprisoned only for the sake of Christ – Grotius. The true reason why I am thus accused and imprisoned begins to be understood, and this has awakened sympathy for me as an injured man. They see that it is not for crime, but that it is on account of my religious opinions, and the conviction of my innocence has spread abroad, and has produced a favorable impression in regard to Christianity itself. It must have been a matter of much importance for Paul to have this knowledge of the real cause why he was imprisoned go abroad. Such a knowledge would do much to prepare others to listen to what he had to say – for there is no man to whom we listen more readily than to one who is suffering wrongfully.

In all the palace – Margin, “Or, Caesar’s court.” Greek, εν όλω τω πραιτωρίω en holo to praitorio – in all the praetorium. This word properly denotes the general’s tent in a camp; then the house or palace of a governor of a province, then any large hall, house, or palace. It occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: Mat_27:27, where it is rendered “common hall”; Mar_15:16, rendered “Praetorium”; Joh_18:28, Joh_18:33; Joh_19:9; Act_23:35, rendered “judgment hall”; and here in Phi_1:13. It is employed to denote:

(1) the palace of Herod at Jerusalem, built with great magnificence at the northern part of the upper city, westward of the temple, and overlooking the temple;

(2) the palace of Herod at Caesarea, which was probably occupied by the Roman procurator; and,

(3) in the place before us to denote either the palace of the emperor at Rome, or the praetorian camp, the headquarters of the praetorian guards or cohorts.

These cohorts were a body of select troops instituted by Augustus to guard his person, and have charge of the city; see Robinson (Lexicon), Bloomfield, Rosenmuller, and some others, understand this of the praetorian camp, and suppose that Paul meant to say that the cause of his imprisonment had become known to all the band of the praetorians.

Grotius says that the usual word to denote the residence of the emperor at Rome was palatium – palace, but that those who resided in the provinces were accustomed to the word “praetorium,” and would use it when speaking of the palace of the emperor. Chrysostom says that the palace of the emperor was called praetorium, by a Latin word derived from the Greek; see Erasmus in loc. Calvin supposes that the palace of Nero is intended. The question about the meaning of the word is important, as it bears on the inquiry to what extent the gospel was made known at Rome in the time of Paul, and perhaps as to the question why he was released from his imprisonment. It the knowledge of his innocence had reached the palace, it was a ground of hope that he might be acquitted; and if that palace is here intended, it is an interesting fact, as showing that in some way the gospel had been introduced into the family of the emperor himself. That the palace or residence of the emperor is intended here, may be considered at least probable from the following considerations:

(1) It is the name which would be likely to be used by the Jews who came up from Judea and other provinces, to denote the chief place of judgment, or the principal residence of the highest magistrate. So it was used in Jerusalem, in Cesarea, and in the provinces generally, to denote the residence of the general in the camp, or the procurator in the cities – the highest representative of the Roman power.

(2) if the remark of Chrysostom, above referred to, be well founded, that this was a common name given to the palace in Rome, then this goes far to determine the question.

(3) in Phi_4:22, Paul, in the salutation of the saints at Rome to those of Philippi, mentions particularly those of “Caesar’s household.” From this it would seem that some of the family of the emperor had been made acquainted with the Christian religion, and had been converted. In what way the knowledge of the true cause of Paul’s imprisonment had been circulated in the “palace,” is not now known. There was, however, close intimacy between the military officers and the government, and it was probably by means of some of the soldiers or officers who had the special charge of Paul, that this had been communicated. To Paul, in his bonds, it must have been a subject of great rejoicing, that the government became thus apprised of the true character of the opposition which had been excited against him; and it must have done much to reconcile him to the sorrows and privations of imprisonment, that he was thus the means of introducing religion to the very palace of the emperor.

And in all other places – Margin, to all others. The Greek will bear either construction. But if, as has been supposed, the reference in the word praetorium is to the palace, then this should be rendered “all other places.” It then means, that the knowledge of his innocence, and the consequences of that knowledge in its happy influence in spreading religion, were not confined to the palace, but were extended to other places. The subject was generally understood, so that it might be said that correct views of the matter pervaded the city, and the fact of his imprisonment was accomplishing extensively the most happy effects on the public mind.

John Calvin
Php 1:14
14Many of the brethren. By this instance we are taught that the tortures of the saints, endured by them in behalf of the gospel, are a ground of confidence (65) to us. It were indeed a dreadful spectacle, and such as might tend rather to dishearten us, did we see nothing but the cruelty and rage of the persecutors. When, however, we see at the same time the hand of the Lord, which makes his people unconquerable, under the infirmity of the Cross, and causes them to triumph, relying upon this, we ought to venture farther than we had been accustomed, having now a pledge of our victory in the persons of our brethren. The knowledge of this ought to overcome our fears, that we may speak boldly in the midst of dangers.

Albert Barnes
Php 1:14
And many of the brethren – Many Christians. It is evident from this, that there were already “many” in Rome who professed Christianity.

In the Lord – In the Lord Jesus; that is, united to him and to each other by a professed attachment to him. This is a common phrase to, designate Christians.
Waxing confident by my bonds – Becoming increasingly bold and zealous in consequence of my being confined. This might have been either:

(1) that from the very fact that so distinguished a champion of the truth had been imprisoned, they were excited to do all they could in the cause of the gospel. Or,

(2) they were aroused by the fact that the cause of his imprisonment had become generally understood, and that there was a strong current of popular favor setting toward Christianity in consequence of it. Or,

(3) they had had contact with Paul in his own “hired house,” and had been incited and encouraged by him to put forth great efforts in the cause. Or,

(4) it would seem that some had been emboldened to promulgate their views, and set themselves up as preachers, who would have been restrained if Paul had been at liberty.

They were disposed to form parties, and to secure followers, and rejoiced in an opportunity to increase their own popularity, and were not unwilling thus to diminish the popularity and lessen the influence of so great a man as Paul. Had he been at liberty, they would have had no prospect of success; see Phi_1:16. To this may be added a suggestion by Theodoret. “Many of the brethren have increased boldness – θάρσος tharsos – on account of my bonds. For seeing me bear such hard things with pleasure, they announce that the gospel (which sustains me) is divine.” The same sentiment occurs in Oecumen, and Theophylact; see Bloomfield. In Paul himself they had an illustration of the power of religion, and being convinced of its truth, they went and proclaimed it abroad.

To speak the word without fear – That is, they see that I remain safely (compare Act_28:30), and that there is no danger of persecution, and, stimulated by my sufferings and patience, they go and make the gospel known.

A.T. Robertson
Php 1:14
The most of the brethren (tous pleionas ton adelphon). “The more part of the brethren.” The comparative with the article with the sense of the superlative as often in the Koiné.
In the Lord (en Kurioi). It is not clear whether this phrase is to be connected with “brethren” or with “being confident” (pepoithotas), probably with pepoithotas. If so, then “through my bonds” (tois desmois mou) would be the instrumental case and mean that by means of Paul’s bonds the brethren “are more abundantly bold” (perissoteros tolmain).

John Calvin
Php 1:15
15Some indeed. Here is another fruit of Paul’s bonds, that not only were the brethren stirred up to confidence by his example — some by maintaining their position, others by becoming more eager to teach — but even those who wished him evil were on another account stirred up to publish the gospel.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Php 1:15
“Some indeed are preaching Christ even for envy, that is, to carry out the envy which they felt towards Paul, on account of the success of the Gospel in the capital of the world, owing to his steadfastness in his imprisonment; they wished through envy to transfer the credit of its progress from him to themselves. Probably Judaizing teachers (Rom_14:1-23; 1Co_3:10-15; 1Co_9:1, etc.; 2Co_11:1-4).

some also of — rather, “for”

good will — answering to “the brethren” (Phi_1:14); some being well disposed to him.

Albert Barnes
Php 1:15
Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife – What was the ground of this “envy and strife” the apostle does not mention. It would seem, however, that even in Rome there was a party which was jealous of the influence of Paul, and which supposed that this was a good opportunity to diminish his influence, and to strengthen their own cause. He was not now at large so as to be able: to meet and confute them. They had access to the mass of the people. It was easy, under plausible pretences, to insinuate hints about the ambitious aims, or improper influence of Paul, or to take strong ground against him and in favor of their own views, and they availed themselves of this opportunity. It would seem most probable, though this is not mentioned, that these persons were Judaizing teachers, professing Christianity, and who supposed that Paul’s views were derogatory to the honor of Moses and the Law.

And some also of good will – From pure motives, having no party aims to accomplish, and not intending in any way to give me trouble.

John Calvin
Php 1:16
16Some, I say, from contention. Here we have a lengthened detail, in which he explains more fully the foregoing statement; for he repeats that there are two classes of men that are stirred up by his bonds to preach Christ — the one influenced by contention, that is, by depraved affection — the other by pious zeal, as being desirous to maintain along with him the defense of the gospel. The former, he says, do not preach Christ purely, because it was not a right zeal. For the term does not apply to doctrine, because it is possible that the man who teaches most purely, may, nevertheless, not be of a sincere mind. Now, that this impurity was in the mind, and did not shew itself in doctrine, may be inferred from the context. Paul assuredly would have felt no pleasure in seeing the gospel corrupted; yet he declares that he rejoices in the preaching of those persons, while it was not simple or sincere.

It is asked, however, how such preaching could be injurious to him? I answer, that many occasions are unknown to us, inasmuch as we are not acquainted with the circumstances of the times. It is asked farther, “Since the gospel cannot be preached but by those that understand it, what motive induced those persons to persecute the doctrine of which they approved?” I answer, that ambition is blind, nay, it is a furious beast. Hence it is not to be wondered if false brethren snatch a weapon from the gospel for harassing good and pious pastors. Paul, assuredly, says nothing here of which I have not myself had experience. For there are living at this very day those who have preached the gospel with no other design, than that they might gratify the rage of the wicked by persecuting pious pastors. As to Paul’s enemies, it is of importance to observe, if they were Jews, how mad their hatred was, so as even to forget on what account they hated him. For while they made it their aim to destroy him, they exerted themselves to promote the gospel, on account of which they were hostile to him; but they imagined, no doubt, that the cause of Christ would stand or fall in the person of one individual. If, however, there were envious persons, who were thus hurried away by ambition, we ought to acknowledge the wonderful goodness of God, who, notwithstanding, gave such a prosperous issue to their depraved affections.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Php 1:16-17
The oldest manuscripts transpose these verses, and read, “These (last) indeed out of love (to Christ and me), knowing (the opposite of ‘thinking’ below) that I am set (that is, appointed by God, 1Th_3:3) for the defense of the Gospel (Phi_1:7, not on my own account). But the others out of contention (or rather, ‘a factious spirit’; ‘cabal’; a spirit of intrigue, using unscrupulous means to compass their end; ‘self-seeking’ [Alford]) proclaim (the Greek is not the same as that for ‘preach,’ but, ‘announce’) Christ, not sincerely (answering to ‘but of a spirit of intrigue,’ or ‘self-seeking’). Literally, ‘not purely’; not with a pure intention; the Jewish leaven they tried to introduce was in order to glorify themselves (Gal_6:12, Gal_6:13; however, see on Phi_1:18), thinking (but in vain) to raise up (so the oldest manuscripts read) tribulation to my bonds.” Their thought was, that taking the opportunity of my being laid aside, they would exalt themselves by their Judaizing preaching, and depreciate me and my preaching, and so cause me trouble of spirit in my bonds; they thought that I, like themselves, sought my own glory, and so would be mortified at their success over mine. But they are utterly mistaken; “I rejoice” at it (Phi_1:18), so far am I from being troubled at it.

Albert Barnes
Php 1:16
The one preach Christ of contention – So as to form parties, and to produce strifes among his professed followers.

Not sincerely – Not “purely” – αγνως hagnos – not with pure motives or intentions. Their real aim is not to preach Christ, but to produce difficulty, and to stir up strife. They are ambitious people, and they have no real regard for the welfare of the church and the honor of religion.

Supposing to add affliction to my bonds – To make my trial the greater. How they did this is unknown. Perhaps they were those who were strongly imbued with Jewish notions, and who felt that his course tended to diminish respect for the law of Moses, and who now took this opportunity to promote their views, knowing that this would be particularly painful to him when he was not at liberty to meet them openly, and to defend his own opinions. It is possible also that they may have urged that Paul himself had met with a signal reproof for the course which he had taken, and, as a consequence, was now thrown into chains. Bloomfield suggests that it was the opinion of many of the ancient expositors that they endeavored to do this by so preaching as to excite the fury of the multitude or the rulers against Paul, and to produce increased severity in his punishment. But the way in which they did this is unknown, and conjecture is altogether useless.

John Calvin
Php 1:17
17That for the defense. Those who truly loved Christ reckoned that it would be a disgrace to them if they did not associate themselves with Paul as his companions, when maintaining the cause of the gospel; and we must act in such a manner, as to give a helping hand, as far as possible, to the servants of Christ when in difficulty. Observe, again, this expression — for the defense of the gospel For since Christ confers upon us so great an honor, what excuse shall we have, if we shall be traitors to his cause, or what may we expect, if we betray it by our silence, but that heshall in return desert our cause, who is our sole Advocate, or Patron, with the Father? (1Jo_2:1.)

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Php 1:16-17
The oldest manuscripts transpose these verses, and read, “These (last) indeed out of love (to Christ and me), knowing (the opposite of ‘thinking’ below) that I am set (that is, appointed by God, 1Th_3:3) for the defense of the Gospel (Phi_1:7, not on my own account). But the others out of contention (or rather, ‘a factious spirit’; ‘cabal’; a spirit of intrigue, using unscrupulous means to compass their end; ‘self-seeking’ [Alford]) proclaim (the Greek is not the same as that for ‘preach,’ but, ‘announce’) Christ, not sincerely (answering to ‘but of a spirit of intrigue,’ or ‘self-seeking’). Literally, ‘not purely’; not with a pure intention; the Jewish leaven they tried to introduce was in order to glorify themselves (Gal_6:12, Gal_6:13; however, see on Phi_1:18), thinking (but in vain) to raise up (so the oldest manuscripts read) tribulation to my bonds.” Their thought was, that taking the opportunity of my being laid aside, they would exalt themselves by their Judaizing preaching, and depreciate me and my preaching, and so cause me trouble of spirit in my bonds; they thought that I, like themselves, sought my own glory, and so would be mortified at their success over mine. But they are utterly mistaken; “I rejoice” at it (Phi_1:18), so far am I from being troubled at it.

Albert Barnes
Php 1:17
But the other of love – From pure motives, and from sincere affection to me.

Knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel – They believe that I am an ambassador from God. They regard me as unjustly imprisoned, and while I am disabled, they are willing to aid me in the great cause to which my life is devoted. To alleviate his sorrows, and to carry forward the great cause to defend which he was particularly appointed, they engaged in the work which he could not now do, and went forth to vindicate the gospel, and to make its claims better known. Coverdale renders this: “for they know that I lie here for the defense of the gospel.” So Piscator, Michaelis, and Endius render it: supposing that the meaning is, that he lay in prison for the defense of the gospel, or as a consequence of his efforts to defend it. But this is not in accordance with the usual meaning of the Greek word κειμαι keimai. It means to lie, and, in the perfect passive, to be laid, set, placed. If the apostle had referred to his being in prison, he would have added that fact to the statement made. The sense is, that he was appointed to be a defender of the gospel, and that they being well convinced of this, went forth to promulgate and defend the truth. That fact was one of Paul’s chief consolations while he was thus in confinement.

John Calvin
Php 1:18
18But in every way. As the wicked disposition of those of whom he has spoken might detract from the acceptableness of the doctrine, he says that this ought to be reckoned of great importance, that they nevertheless promoted the cause of the gospel, whatever their disposition might be. For God sometimes accomplishes an admirable work by means of wicked and depraved instruments. Accordingly, he says that he rejoices in a happy result of this nature; because this one thing contented him — if he saw the kingdom of Christ increasing — just as we, on hearing that that impure dog Carolus was scattering the seeds of pure doctrine at Avignon and elsewhere, we gave thanks to God because he had made use of that most profligate and worthless villain for his glory: and at this day we rejoice that the progress of the gospel is advanced by many who, nevertheless, had another design in view. But though Paul rejoiced in the advancement of the gospel, yet, had the matter been in his hand, he would never have ordained such persons as ministers. We ought, therefore, to rejoice if God accomplishes anything that is good by means of wicked persons; but they ought not on that account to be either placed by us in the ministry, or looked upon as Christ’s lawful ministers.

Adam Clarke
Php 1:18
What then? – It is a matter of little importance to me how Christ is preached, provided he be preached. I rejoice that any thing is known of him; and am truly glad that the Gospel is even made partially known, for this will lead to farther inquiries, and in the end be of service to the truth.

Albert Barnes
Php 1:18
What then? – What follows from this? What effect does it have on my mind? Does the fact that some preach from a spirit of envy and contention give me pain?

Notwithstanding every way – No matter in what way it is done. We are not to suppose, however, that Paul was indifferent as to the way in which the gospel was preached, or the spirit with which it was done; but the meaning is, that it was a matter of rejoicing that it was done at all, whatever the motives might be.

Whether in pretence or in truth – Whether as a mere pretext to cover up some other design, or from pure motives. Their pretence was that they preached the gospel because they believed it true and loved it; their real object was to build up a party, and to diminish the influence and authority of Paul.

Christ is preached – They made known the name of the Saviour, and announced that the Messiah had come. They could not go forth under any pretence as preachers, without making known some truth about the Redeemer. So now, it is hardly possible that any persons should attempt to preach, without stating some truth that would not otherwise be known. The name of a Saviour will be announced, and that will be something. Some views of his life and work will be presented, which, though they may be far enough from full views, are yet better than none. Though there may be much error in what is said, yet there will be also some truth. It would be better to have preachers that were better instructed, or that were more prudent, or that had purer motives, or that held a more perfect system, yet it is much in our world to have the name of the Redeemer announced in any way, and even to be told, in the most stammering manner, and from whatever motives, that man has a Saviour. The announcement of that fact in any way may save a soul; but ignorance of it could save none.

And I therein do rejoice – This is an instance of great magnanimity on the part of Paul, and nothing, perhaps, could better show his supreme love for the Saviour. Paul preached to increase his afflictions, and the tendency of that preaching was, probably, as it was designed to be, to unsettle confidence in him, and to lessen his influence. Yet this did not move him. The more important matter was secured, and Christ was made known; and if this were secured, he was willing that his own name should be cast into the shade. This may furnish valuable lessons to preachers of the gospel now:

(1) When we are laid aside from preaching by sickness, we should rejoice that others are in health, and are able to make the Saviour known, though we are forgotten.

(2) when we are unpopular and unsuccessful, we should rejoice that others are more popular and successful – for Christ is preached.

(3) when we have rivals, who have better plans than we for doing good, and whose labors are crowned with success, we should not be envious or jealous – for Christ is preached.

(4) when ministers of other denominations preach what we regard as error, and their preaching becomes popular, and is attended with success, we can find occasion to rejoice – for they preach Christ.

In the error we should not, we cannot rejoice; but in the fact that the great truth is held up that Christ died for people, we can always find abundant occasion for joy. Mingled as it may be with error, it may be nevertheless the means of saving souls, and though we should rejoice more if the truth were preached without any admixture of error, yet still the very fact that Christ is made known lays the foundation for gratitude and rejoicing. If all Christians and Christian ministers had the feelings which Paul expresses here, there would be much less envy and uncharitableness than there is now in the churches. May we not hope that the time will yet come when all who preach the gospel will have such supreme regard for the name and work of the Saviour, that they will find sincere joy in the success of a rival denomination, or a rival preacher, or in rival plans for doing good? Then, indeed, contentions would cease, and the hearts of Christians, “like kindred drops,” would mingle into one.

JohnCalvin
Php 1:19
19For I know that As some published the gospel with the view of rendering Paul odious, in order that they might kindle up against him the more the rage of his enemies, he tells them beforehand that their wicked attempts will do him no harm, because the Lord will turn them to a contrary design. “Though they plot my destruction, yet I trust that all their attempts will have no other effect but that Christ will be glorified in me — which is a thing most salutary to me.” For it is evident from what follows, that he is not speaking of the safety of the body. But whence this confidence on the part of Paul? It is from what he teaches elsewhere, (Rom_8:28,) — that all things contribute to the advantage of God’s true worshippers, even though the whole world, with the devil, its prince, should conspire together for their ruin.

Through your prayer  That he may stir them up to pray more ardently, he declares that he is confident that the Lord will give them an answer to their prayers. Nor does he use dissimulation: for he who depends for help on the prayers of the saints relies on the promise of God. In the mean time, nothing is detracted from the unmerited goodness of God, on which depend our prayers, and what is obtained by means of them.

And the supply. Let us not suppose, that because he joins these two things in one connection, they are consequently alike. The statement must, therefore, be explained in this manner: — “I know that all this will turn out to my advantage, through the administration of the Spirit, you also helping by prayer,” — so that the supply of the Spirit is the efficient cause, while prayer is a subordinate help. We must also observe the propriety of the Greek term, for ἐπιχορηγία is employed to mean the furnishing of what is wanting, just as the Spirit of God pours into us everything of which we are destitute.

He calls him, too, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, to intimate, that if we are Christians, he is common to all of us, inasmuch as he was poured upon him with all fullness, that, according to the measure of his grace, he might give out, so far as is expedient, to each of his members.

Adam Clarke
Php 1:19
This shall turn to my salvation – That is: It will be the means of my temporal safety; of my deliverance; for so the word σωτηρια is here to be understood. The Jews had denounced the apostle as an enemy to Caesar; but he knew that, when the nature of the Gospel should be fully known, the Romans would see that he could be no enemy to Caesar who proclaimed a prince whose kingdom was not of this world; and who had taught, in the most unequivocal manner, that all Christians were to give tribute to whom tribute was due, and while they feared God to honor also the king, though that king was Nero.

Through your prayer – Knowing them to be genuine followers of Christ, he was satisfied that their prayers would be very available in his behalf; and under God he places much dependence upon them.

The supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ – The word επιχορηγια, which we translate supply, signifies also furnishing whatever is necessary. The Spirit of God he expected to help all his infirmities, and to furnish him with all the wisdom, prudence, strength of reason, and argument, which might be necessary for him in the different trials he had to pass through with his persecutors, and the civil powers, at whose judgment-seat he stood.

Jamison, Fausset, and Brown
Php 1:19
turn to my salvation — “turn out to me for, (or unto) salvation.” This proclamation of Christ every way will turn out to my spiritual good. Christ, whose interests are my interests, being glorified thereby; and so the coming of His kingdom being furthered, which, when it does come, will bring completed “SALVATION” (Heb_9:28) to me and all whose “earnest expectation” (Phi_1:20) is that Christ may be magnified in them. So far is their preaching from causing me, as they thought, tribulation in my bonds (Phi_1:16). Paul plainly quotes and applies to himself the very words of the Septuagint (Job_13:16), “This shall turn out to my salvation,” which belong to all God’s people of every age, in their tribulation (compare Job_13:15).

through your prayer and the supply — The Greek intimately joins the two nouns together, by having but one preposition and one article: “Through your prayer and (the consequent) supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (obtained for me through your prayer).”

Albert Barnes
Php 1:19
For I know that this shall turn to my salvation – Will be a means of my salvation. Whether the effect shall be to turn public favor toward the Christian religion, and secure my release; or whether it shall be to instigate my enemies more, so as to lead to my death; I am satisfied that the result, so far as I am concerned, will be well. The word “salvation,” here, does not refer to his release from captivity, as Koppe, Rosenmuller, Clarke, and others, suppose; for he was not absolutely certain of that, and could not expect that to be effected by “the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” But the meaning is, that all these dealings, including his imprisonment, and especially the conduct of those who thought to add affliction to his bonds, would be among the means of his salvation. Trying and painful as all this was, yet trial and pain Paul reckoned among the means of grace; and he had no doubt that this would prove so.

Through your prayer – See the notes at 2Co_1:11.

And the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ – To sustain me, and to cause those happy results to come out of these trials. He needed the same spirit which Jesus Christ had, to enable him to bear his trials with patience, and to impart to him the consolations which he required. He had no idea that these trials would produce these effects of their own accord, nor that it could be by any strength of his own.

A.T. Robertson
Php 1:19
Will turn (apobesetai). Future middle indicative of apobaino, old verb, to come from, to come back, to turn out.

To my salvation (eis soterian). For his release from prison as he strongly hopes to see them again (Phi_1:26). Lightfoot takes the word to be Paul’s eternal salvation and it must be confessed that Phi_1:20 (the close of this sentence) does suit that idea best. Can it be that Paul carried both conceptions in the word here?

Supply (epichoregias). Late and rare word (one example in inscription of first century a.d.). In N.T. only here and Eph_4:16. From the late verb epichoregeo (double compound, epi, choros, hegeomai, to furnish supply for the chorus) which see in 2Co_9:10; Gal_3:5.

John Calvin
Php 1:20
20According to my expectation. Should any one object, “From what do you derive that knowledge?” he answers, “From hope.” For as it is certain that God does not by any means design to frustrate our hope, hope itself ought not to be wavering. Let then the pious reader carefully observe this adverb secundum, (according to,) that he may be fully assured in his own mind, that it is impossible but that the Lord will fulfill our expectation, inasmuch as it is founded on his own word. Now, he has promised that he will never be wanting to us even in the midst of all tortures, if we are at any time called to make confession of his name. Let, therefore, all the pious entertain hope after Paul’s example, and they will not be put to shame.

With all confidence We see that, in cherishing hope, he does not give indulgence to carnal desires, but places his hope in subjection to the promise of God. “Christ,” says he, “will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” By making express mention, however, of the body, he intimates that, amongst the conflicts of the present life, he is in no degree doubtful as to the issue, for we are assured as to this by God. If, accordingly, giving ourselves up to the good pleasure of God, and having in our life the same object in view as Paul had, we expect, in whatever way it may be, a prosperous issue, we shall no longer have occasion to fear lest any adversity should befall us; for if we live and die to him, we are his in life and in death. (Rom_14:8.) He expresses the way in which Christ will be magnified— by full assurance. Hence it follows, that through our fault he is cast down and lowered, so far as it is in our power to do so, when we give way through fear. Do not those then feel ashamed who reckon it a light offense to tremble, when called to make confession of the truth? But how much ashamed ought those to feel, who are so shamelessly impudent as to have the hardihood even to excuse renunciation?

He adds, as always, that they may confirm their faith from past experience of the grace of God. Thus, in Rom_5:4, he says, Experience begets hope.

Jamison, Fausset, and Brown
Php 1:20
According to my earnest expectation — The Greek expresses, “expectation with uplifted head (Luk_21:28) and outstretched neck.” Rom_8:19 is the only other place in the New Testament that the word occurs. Tittmann says, in both places it implies not mere expectation, but the anxious desire of an anticipated prosperous issue in afflictive circumstances. The subject of his earnest expectation which follows, answers to “my salvation” (Phi_1:19).

in nothing I shall be ashamed — in nothing have reason to be ashamed of “my work for God, or His work in me” [Alford]. Or, “in nothing be disappointed in my hope, but that I may fully obtain it” [Estius]. So “ashamed” is used in Rom_9:33.

all boldness — “all” is opposed to “in nothing,” as “boldness” is the opposite to “ashamed.”

so now also — when “my body” is “in bonds” (Phi_1:17).

Christ — not Paul, “shall be magnified.”

life, or by death — Whatever be the issue, I cannot lose; I must be the gainer by the event. Paul was not omniscient; in the issue of things pertaining to themselves, the apostles underwent the same probation of faith and patience as we.

Albert Barnes
Php 1:20
According to my earnest expectation – The word used here occurs but in one other place in the New Testament; see it explained in the notes at Rom_8:19. The earnest desire and hope which Paul had was not, primarily, that he might be released; but it was that, in all circumstances, he might be able to honor the gospel, living or dying. To that he looked as a much more important matter than to save his life. Life with him was the secondary consideration; the main thing was, to stand up everywhere as the advocate of the gospel, to maintain its truth, and to exhibit its spirit.

That in nothing I shall be ashamed – That I shall do nothing of which I shall have occasion to be ashamed. That in these heavy trials, I may not be left to deny the truth of the Christian religion; that, even before the emperor, I may maintain its principles; and that the dread of death may not lead me to do a dishonorable thing, or in any way so to shrink from an avowal of my belief, as to give me or my friends occasion of regret.

But that with all boldness – By my speaking the truth, and maintaining my principles with all boldness; see the 2Co_7:4 note; Eph_6:19-20 notes.

Christ shall be magnified – Shall be held up to the view of man as the true and only Saviour, whatever becomes of me.

Whether it be by life – If I am permitted to live. He was not yet certain how the case would terminate with him. He had not been put on his trial, and, whether that trial would result in his acquittal or not, he could not certainly know. But he felt assured that, if he was acquitted, the effect would be to honor Christ. He would ascribe his deliverance to his gracious interposition; he would devote himself with new ardor to his service; and he felt assured, from his past efforts, that he would be able to do something that would “magnify” Christ in the estimation of mankind.

Or by death – If my trial shall result in my death. Then, he believed he would be able to show such a spirit as to do honor to Christ and his cause. He was not afraid to die, and he was persuaded that he would be enabled to bear the pains of death in such a manner as to show the sustaining power of religion, and the value of Christianity. Christ is magnified in the death of Christians, when his gospel is seen to sustain them; when, supported by its promises, they are enabled to go calmly into the dark valley; and when, in the departing moments, they confidently commit their eternal all into his hands. The effect of this state of feeling on the mind of Paul must have been most happy. In whatever way his trial terminated, he felt assured that the great object for which he lived would be promoted. Christ would be honored, perhaps, as much by his dying as a martyr, as by his living yet many years to proclaim his gospel. He was, therefore, reconciled to his lot. He had no anxiety. Come what might, the purpose which he had most at heart would be secured, and the name of the Saviour would be honored.

John Calvin
Php 1:21
21For to me to live. Interpreters have hitherto, in my opinion, given a wrong rendering and exposition to this passage; for they make this distinction, that Christ was life to Paul, and death was gain. I, on the other hand, make Christ the subject of discourse in both clauses, so that he is declared to be gain in him both in life and in death; for it is customary with the Greeks to leave the word πρός to be understood. Besides that this meaning is less forced, it also corresponds better with the foregoing statement, and contains more complete doctrine. He declares that it is indifferent to him, and is all one, whether he lives or dies, because, having Christ, he reckons both to be gain. And assuredly it is Christ alone that makes us happy both in death and in life; otherwise, if death is miserable, life is in no degree happier; so that it is difficult to determine whether it is more advantageous to live or to die out of Christ. On the other hand, let Christ be with us, and he will bless our life as well as our death, so that both will be happy and desirable for us.

Adam Clarke
Php 1:21
For to me to live is Christ – Whether I live or die, Christ is gain to me. While I live I am Christ’s property and servant, and Christ is my portion; if I die – if I be called to witness the truth at the expense of my life, this will be gain; I shall be saved from the remaining troubles and difficulties in life, and be put immediately in possession of my heavenly inheritance. As, therefore, it respects myself, it is a matter of perfect indifference to me whether I be taken off by a violent death, or whether I be permitted to continue here longer; in either case I can lose nothing.

Albert Barnes
Php 1:21
For to me to live is Christ – My sole aim in living is to glorify Christ. He is the supreme End of my life, and I value it only as being devoted to his honor – Doddridge. His aim was not honor, learning, gold, pleasure; it was, to glorify the Lord Jesus. This was the single purpose of his soul – a purpose to which he devoted himself with as much singleness and ardor as ever did a miser to the pursuit of gold, or a devotee of pleasure to amusement, or an aspirant for fame to ambition. This implied the following things:

(1) a purpose to know as much of Christ as it was possible to know – to become as fully acquainted as he could with his rank, his character, his plans, with the relations which he sustained to the Father, and with the claims and influences of his religion; see Phi_3:10; Eph_3:19; compare Joh_17:3.

(2) a purpose to imitate Christ – to make him the model of his life. It was a design that his Spirit should reign in his heart, that the same temper should actuate him, and that the same great end should be constantly had in view.

(3) a purpose to make his religion known, as far as possible, among mankind. To this, Paul seriously gave his life, and devoted his great talents. His aim was to see on bow many minds he could impress the sentiments of the Christian religion; to see to how many of the human family he could make Christ known, to whom he was unknown before. Never was there a man who gave himself with more ardor to any enterprise, than Paul did to this; and never was one more successful, in any undertaking, than he was in this.

(4) it was a purpose to enjoy Christ. He drew his comforts from him. His happiness he found in communion with him. It was not in the works of art; not in the pursuits of elegant literature; not in the frivolous and fashionable world; but it was in communion with the Saviour, and in endeavoring to please him.

Remarks On Philippians 1:21

(1) Paul never had occasion to regret this course. It produced no sadness when he looked over his life. He never felt that he had had an unworthy aim of living; he did not wish that his purpose had been different when he came to die.

(2) if it was Paul’s duty thus to live, it is no less that of every Christian. What was there in his case that made it his duty to “live unto Christ,” which does not exist in the case of every sincere Christian on earth? No believer, when he comes to die, will regret that he has lived unto Christ; but how many, alas, regret that this has not been the aim and purpose of their souls!

And to die is gain – Compare Rev_14:13. A sentiment similar to this occurs frequently in the Greek and Latin classic writers. See Wetstein, in loc., who has collected numerous such passages. With them, the sentiment had its origin in the belief that they would be freed from suffering, and admitted to some happy world beyond the grave. To them, however, all this was conjecture and uncertainty. The word “gain,” here, means profit, advantage; and the meaning is, there would be an advantage in dying above that of living. Important benefits would result to him personally, should he die; and the only reason why he should wish at all to live was, that he might be the means of benefiting others; Phi_1:24-25. But how would it be gain to die? What advantage would there be in Paul’s circumstances? What in ours? It may be answered, that it will be gain for a Christian to die in the following respects:

(1) He will be then freed from sin. Here it is the source of perpetual humiliation and sorrow; in heaven be will sin no more.

(2) he will be freed from doubts about his condition. Here the best are liable to doubts about their personal piety, and often experience many an anxious hour in reference to this point; in heaven, doubt will be known no more.

(3) he will be freed from temptation. Here, no one knows when he may be tempted, nor how powerful the temptation may be; in heaven, there will be no allurement to lead him astray; no artful, cunning, and skillful votaries of pleasure to place inducements before him to sin; and no heart to yield to them, if there were.

(4) he will be delivered from all his enemies – from the slanderer, the calumniator, the persecutor. Here the Christian is constantly liable to have his motives called in question, or to be met with detraction and slander; there, there will be none to do him injustice; all will rejoice in the belief that he is pure,

(5) He will be delivered from suffering. Here he is constantly liable to it. His health fails, his friends die, his mind is sad. There, there shall be no separation of friends, no sickness, and no tears.

(6) he will be delivered from death. Here, death is always near – dreadful, alarming, terrible to our nature. There, death will be known no more. No face will ever turn pale, and no knees tremble, at his approach; in all heaven there will never be seen a funeral procession, nor will the soil there ever open its bosom to furnish a grave.

(7) to all this may be added the fact, that the Christian will be surrounded by his best friends; that he will be reunited with those whom he loved on earth; that he will be associated with the angels of light; and that he will be admitted to the immediate presence of his Saviour and his God! Why, then, should a Christian be afraid to die? And why should he not hail that hour, when it comes, as the hour of his deliverance, and rejoice that he is going home? Does the prisoner, long confined in a dungeon, dread the hour which is to open his prison, and permit him to return to his family and friends? Does the man in a foreign land, long an exile, dread the hour when he shall embark on the ocean to be conveyed where he may embrace the friends of his youth? Does the sick man dread the hour which restores him to health; the afflicted, the hour of comfort? the wanderer at night, the cheering light of returning day? And why then should the Christian dread the hour which will restore him to immortal rigor; which shall remove all his sorrows; which shall introduce him to everlasting day?

John Calvin
Php 1:22
22But if to live in the flesh. As persons in despair feel in perplexity as to whether they ought to prolong their life any farther in miseries, or to terminate their troubles by death, so Paul, on the other hand, says that he is, in a spirit of contentment, so well prepared for death or for life, because the condition of believers, both in the one case and in the other, is blessed, so that he is at a loss which to choose. If it is worth while;that is, “If I have reason to believe that there will be greater advantage from my life than from my death, I do not see which of them I ought to prefer.” To live in the flesh, is an expression which he has made use of in contempt, from comparing it with a better life.

Adam Clarke
Php 1:22
But if I live in the flesh – Should I be spared longer, I shall labor for Christ as I have done; and this is the fruit of my labor, that Christ shall be magnified by my longer life, Phi_1:20.

Yet what I shall choose I wot not – Had I the two conditions left to my own choice, whether to die now and go to glory, or whether to live longer in persecutions and affliction, (glorifying Christ by spreading the Gospel), I could not tell which to prefer.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Php 1:22
Rather as Greek, “But if to live in the flesh (if), this (I say, the continuance in life which I am undervaluing) be the fruit of my labor (that is, be the condition in which the fruit of my ministerial labor is involved), then what I shall choose I know not (I cannot determine with myself, if the choice were given me, both alternatives being great goods alike).” So Alford and Ellicott. Bengel takes it as English Version, which the Greek will bear by supposing an ellipsis, “If to live in the flesh (be my portion), this (continuing to live) is the fruit of my labor,” that is, this continuance in life will be the occasion of my bringing in “the fruit of labor,” that is, will be the occasion of “labors” which are their own “fruit” or reward; or, this my continuing “to live” will have this “fruit,” namely, “labors” for Christ. Grotius explains “the fruit of labor” as an idiom for “worthwhile”; If I live in the flesh, this is worth my while, for thus Christ’s interest will be advanced, “For to me to live is Christ” (Phi_1:21; compare Phi_2:30; Rom_1:13). The second alternative, namely, dying, is taken up and handled, Phi_2:17, “If I be offered.”

Albert Barnes
Php 1:22
But if I live in the flesh – If I continue to live; if I am not condemned and make a martyr at my approaching trial.

This is the fruit of my labour – The meaning of this passage, which has given much perplexity to commentators, it seems to me is, “If I live in the flesh, it will cost me labor; it will be attended, as it has been, with much effort and anxious care, and I know not which to prefer – whether to remain on the earth with these cares and the hope of doing good, or to go at once to a world of rest.” A more literal version of the Greek will show that this is the meaning. Τουτό μοι καρπὸς έργου Touto moi karpos ergou – “this to me is (or would be) the fruit of labor.” Coverdale, however, renders it: “Inasmuch as to live in the flesh is fruitful to me for the work, I wot not what I shall choose.” So Luther: “But since to live in the flesh serves to produce more fruit.” And so Bloomfield: “But if my life in the flesh be of use to the gospel (be it so, I say no more), verily what I shall choose I see and know not.”

See also Koppe, Rosenmuller, and Calvin, who give the same sense. According to this, the meaning is, that if his life were of value to the gospel, he was willing to live; or that it was a valuable object – operae pretium – worth an effort thus to live. This sense accords well with the connection, and the thought is a valuable one, but it is somewhat doubtful whether it can be made out from the Greek. To do it, it is necessary to suppose that μοι moi – “my” – is expletive (Koppe, and that καὶ kai – “and” – is used in an unusual sense. See Erasmus. According to the interpretation first suggested, it means, that Paul felt that it would be gain to die, and that he was entirely willing; that he felt that if he continued to live it would involve toil and fatigue, and that, therefore, great as was the natural love of life, and desirous as he was to do good, he did not know which to choose – an immediate departure to the world of rest, or a prolonged life of toil and pain, attended even with the hope that he might do good. There was an intense desire to be with Christ, joined with the belief that his life here must be attended with toil and anxiety; and on the other hand an earnest wish to live in order to do good, and he knew not which to prefer.

Yet – The sense has been obscured by this translation. The Greek word (καὶ kai) means “and,” and should have been so rendered here, in its usual sense. “To die would be gain; my life here would be one of toil, and I know not which to choose.”

What I shall choose I wot not – I do not know which I should prefer, if it were left to me. On each side there were important considerations, and he knew not which overbalanced the other. Are not Christians often in this state, that if it were left to themselves they would not know which to choose, whether to live or to die?

John Calvin
Php 1:23
23For I am in a strait Paul did not desire to live with any other object in view that that of promoting the glory of Christ, and doing good to the brethren. Hence he does not reckon that he has any other advantage from living than the welfare of the brethren. But so far as concerns himself personally, it were, he acknowledges, better for him to die soon, because he would be with Christ. By his choice, however, he shews what ardent love glowed in his breast. There is nothing said here as to earthly advantages, but as to spiritual benefit, which is on good grounds supremely desirable in the view of the pious. Paul, however, as if forgetful of himself, does not merely hold himself undetermined, lest he should be swayed by a regard to his own benefit rather than that of the Philippians, but at length concludes that a regard to them preponderates in his mind. And assuredly this is in reality to live and die to Christ, when, with indifference as to ourselves, we allow ourselves to be carried and borne away withersoever Christ calls us.

Having a desire to be set free and to be with Christ These two things must be read in connection. For death of itself will never be desired, because such a desire is at variance with natural feeling, but is desired for some particular reason, or with a view to some other end. Persons in despair have recourse to it from having become weary of life; believers, on the other hand, willingly hasten forward to it, because it is a deliverance from the bondage of sin, and an introduction into the kingdom of heaven. What Paul now says is this; “I desire to die, because I will, by this means, come into immediate connection with Christ.” In the mean time, believers do not cease to regard death with horror, but when they turn their eyes to that life which follows death, they easily overcome all dread by means of that consolation. Unquestionably, every one that believes in Christ ought to be so courageous as to lift up his head on mention being made of death, delighted to have intimation of his redemption. (Luk_21:28.) From this we see how many are Christians only in name, since the greater part, on hearing mention made of death, are not merely alarmed, but are rendered almost lifeless through fear, as though they had never heard a single word respecting Christ. O the worth and value of a good conscience! Now faith is the foundation of a good conscience; nay more, it is itself goodness of conscience.

To be set free This form of expression is to be observed. Profane persons speak of death as the destruction of man, as if he altogether perished. Paul here reminds us, that death is the separation of the soul from the body. And this he expresses more fully immediately afterwards, explaining as to what condition awaits believers after death — that of dwelling with Christ We are with Christ even in this life, inasmuch as the kingdom of God is within us, (Luk_17:21,) and Christ dwells in us by faith,(Eph_3:17,) and has promised that he will be with us even unto the end of the world, (Mat_28:20,) but that presence we enjoy only in hope. Hence as to our feeling, we are said to be at present at a distance from him. See 2Co_5:6. This passage is of use for setting aside the mad fancy of those who dream that souls sleep when separated from the body, for Paul openly declares that we enjoy Christ’s presence on being set free from the body.

Adam Clarke
Php 1:23
For I am in a strait betwixt two – Viz. the dying now, and being immediately with God; or living longer to preach and spread the Gospel, and thus glorify Christ among men.

Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ – Την επιθυμιαν εχων εις το αναλυσαι. It appears to be a metaphor taken from the commander of a vessel, in a foreign port, who feels a strong desire αναλυσαι, to set sail, and get to his own country and family; but this desire is counterbalanced by a conviction that the general interests of the voyage may be best answered by his longer stay in the port where his vessel now rides; for he is not in dock, he is not aground, but rides at anchor in the port, and may any hour weigh and be gone. Such was the condition of the apostle: he was not at home, but although he was abroad it was on his employer’s business; he wishes to return, and is cleared out and ready to set sail, but he has not received his last orders from his owner, and whatever desire he may feel to be at home he will faithfully wait till his final orders arrive.

Which is far better – Πολλω – μαλλον κρεισσον· Multo magis melior, Vulgate; much more better. The reader will at once see that the words are very emphatic.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Php 1:23
For — The oldest manuscripts read, “But.” “I know not (Phi_1:22), BUT am in a strait (am perplexed) betwixt the two (namely, ‘to live’ and ‘to die’), having the desire for departing (literally, ‘to loose anchor,’ 2Ti_4:6) and being with Christ; FOR (so the oldest manuscripts) it is by far better”; or as the Greek, more forcibly, “by far the more preferable”; a double comparative. This refutes the notion of the soul being dormant during its separation from the body. It also shows that, while he regarded the Lord’s advent as at all times near, yet that his death before it was a very possible contingency. The partial life eternal is in the interval between death and Christ’s second advent; the perfectional, at that advent [Bishop Pearson]. To depart is better than to remain in the flesh; to be with Christ is far, far better; a New Testament hope (Heb_12:24), [Bengel].

Albert Barnes
Php 1:23
For I am in a strait betwixt two – Two things, each of which I desire. I earnestly long to be with Christ; and I desire to remain to be useful to the world. The word rendered “I am in a strait” – συνέχομαι sunechomai – means to be pressed on or constrained, as in a crowd; to feel oneself pressed or pent up so as not to know what to do; and it here means that he was in perplexity and doubt, and did not know what to choose. “The words of the original are very emphatic. They appear to be derived from a ship when lying at anchor, and when violent winds blow upon it that would drive it out to sea. The apostle represents himself as in a similar condition. His strong affection for them bound his heart to them – as an anchor holds a ship to its moorings and yet there was a heavenly influence bearing upon him – like the gale upon the vessel – which would bear him away to heaven.” Burder, in Ros. Alt. u. neu. Morgenland, in loc.

Having a desire to depart – To die – to leave this world for a better. People, as they are by nature, usually dread to die. Few are even made willing to die. Almost none desire to die – and even then they wish it only as the least of two evils. Pressed down by pain and sorrow; or sick and weary of the world, the mind may be worked up into a desire to be away. But this with the world is, in all cases, the result of misanthropy, or morbid feeling, or disappointed ambition, or an accumulation of many sorrows. Wetstein has adduced on this verse several most beautiful passages from the classic writers, in which people expressed a desire to depart – but all of them probably could be traced to disappointed ambition, or to mental or bodily sorrows, or to dissatisfaction with the world. It was from no such wish that Paul desired to die. It was not because he hated man – for he ardently loved him. It was not because he had been disappointed about wealth and honor – for he had sought neither. It was not because he had not been successful – for no man had been more so. It was not because he had been subjected to pains and imprisonments – for he was willing to bear them. It was not because he was old, and infirm, and a burden to the world – for, from anything that appears, he was in the vigor of life, and in the fullness of his strength. It was from a purer, higher motive than any of these – the strength of attachment which bound him to the Saviour, and which made him long to be with him.

And to be with Christ – We may remark on this expression:

(1) That this was the true reason why he wished to be away. It was his strong love to Christ; his anxious wish to be with him; his firm belief that in his presence was “fulness of joy.”

(2) Paul believed that the soul of the Christian would be immediately with the Saviour at death. It was evidently his expectation that he would at once pass to his presence, and not that he would remain in an intermediate state to some far distant period.

(3) the soul does not sleep at death. Paul expected to be with Christ, and to be conscious of the fact – to see him, and to partake of his glory.

(4) the soul of the believer is made happy at death. To be with Christ is synonymous with being in heaven – for Christ is in heaven, and is its glory. We may add:

(a) that this wish to be with Christ constitutes a marked difference between a Christian and other people. Other people may be willing to die; perhaps be desirous to die, because their sorrows are so great that they feel that they cannot be borne. But the Christian desires to depart from a different motive altogether. It is to be with Christ – and this constitutes a broad line of distinction between him and other people.

(b) A mere willingness to die, or even a desire to die, is no certain evidence of preparation for death. If this willingness or desire is caused by mere intensity of suffering; if it is produced by disgust at the world or by disappointment; if it arises from some view of fancied Elysian fields beyond the grave, it constitutes no evidence whatever of a preparation for death. I have seen not a few persons who were not professed Christians on a bed of death, and not a few willing to die, nay, not a few who wished to depart. But in the vast majority of instances it was because they were sick of life, or because their pain made them sigh for relief, or because they were so wretched that they did not care what happened – and this they and their friends construed into an evidence that they were prepared to die! In most instances this is a miserable delusion; in no case is a mere willingness to die an evidence of preparation for death.

Which is far better – Would be attended with more happiness; and would be a higher, holier state than to remain on earth. This proves also that the soul of the Christian at death is made at once happy – for a state of insensibility can in no way be said to be a better condition than to remain in this present world. The Greek phrase here – πολλω μαλλον κρεισσον pollo mallon kreisson – is very emphatic, and the apostle seems to labor for language which will fully convey his idea. It means, “by much more, or rather better,” and the sense is, “better beyond all expression.” Doddridge. See numerous examples illustrating the phrase in Wetstein. Paul did not mean to say that he was merely willing to die, or that he acquiesced in its necessity, but that the fact of being with Christ was a condition greatly to be preferred to remaining on earth. This is the true feeling of Christian piety; and having this feeling, death to us will have no terrors.

A.T. Robertson
Php 1:23
I am in a strait (sunechomai). “I am held together.” Present passive indicative of the common compound verb sunecho, to hold together, to hem together as in Luk_8:45. “I am hemmed in on both sides” (Lightfoot).

Betwixt the two (ek ton duo). “From the two (sides).” Pressure to live on, pressure to die and be with Christ.

To depart (eis to analusai). Purpose clause, eis to and the aorist active infinitive analusai, old compound verb, to unloose (as threads), to break up, to return (Luk_12:36, only other N.T. example), to break up camp (Polybius), to weigh anchor and put out to sea, to depart (often in old Greek and papyri). Cf. kataluo in 2Co_5:1 for tearing down the tent.

Very far better (polloi mallon kreisson). Double comparative (triple Lightfoot calls it because of polloi) like Isocrates and the Koiné often. See note on 2Co_7:13 for perissoteros mallon. Polloi is the instrumental case of measure (by much).

Adam Clarke
Php 1:24
To abide in the flesh – It would certainly be gain to myself to die, but it will be a gain to you if I live. If I die I shall go immediately to glory; if I live I shall continue to minister to you, and strengthen you in the faith.

Albert Barnes
Php 1:24
Nevertheless to abide in the flesh – To live. All this is language derived from the belief that the soul will be separate from the body at death, and will occupy a separate state of existence.

Is more needful for you – Another object that was dear to the heart of Paul. He never supposed that his life was useless; or that it was a matter of no importance to the cause of religion whether he lived or died. He knew that God works by means; and that the life of a minister of the gospel is of real value to the church and the world. His experience, his influence, his paternal counsels, he felt assured would be of value to the church, and he had, therefore, a desire to live – and it was no part of his religion affectedly to undervalue or despise himself.

John Calvin
Php 1:25
25And having this confidence. Some, reckoning it an inconsistent thing that the Apostle should acknowledge himself to have been disappointed of his expectation, are of opinion that he was afterwards freed from bonds, and went over many countries of the world. Their fears, however, as to this are groundless, for the saints are accustomed to regulate their expectations according to the word of God, so as not to promise themselves more than God has promised. Thus, when they have a sure token of God’s will, they in that case place their reliance also upon a sure persuasion, which admits of no hesitation. Of this nature is a persuasion respecting a perpetual remission of sins, respecting the aid of the Spirit for the grace of final perseverance, (as it is called,) and respecting the resurrection of the flesh. Of this nature, also, was the assurance of the Prophets respecting their prophecies. As to other things, they expect nothing except conditionally, and hence they subject all events to the providence of God, who, they allow, sees more distinctly than they. To remain, means here, to stay for a little while: to continue, means, to remain for a long time.

Adam Clarke
Php 1:25
Having this confidence, I know that I shall abide – Convinced that it is necessary that I should live longer, for the spreading and defense of the Gospel, I am persuaded that I shall now be liberated. This was in fact the case, for, after having been two years in bonds at Rome, he was released.

For your furtherance – In the way of righteousness.

And joy of faith – And happiness in that way. The farther a man proceeds in the way of truth, the stronger his faith will be; and the stronger his faith, the greater his joy or happiness.

Albert Barnes
Php 1:25
And having this confidence – “Being persuaded of this, that my continuance on earth is desirable for your welfare, and that the Lord has a work for me to do, I confidently expect that I shall be permitted to live.” The “confidence” here referred to was, that his life was needful for them, and hence that God would spare him. A literal translation would be, “And being persuaded as to this, or of this” – τοῦτο πεποιθὼς touto pepoithos – “I know,” etc. The foundation of his expectation that he should live does not appear to have been any revelation to that effect, as Doddridge supposes; or any intimation which he had from the palace of the intentions of the government, as some others suppose, but the fact that he believed his life to be necessary for them, and that therefore God would preserve it.

I know that I shall abide – The word “know,” however, (οιδα oida) is not to be pressed as denoting absolute necessity – for it appears from Phi_1:27 and Phi_2:17, that there was some ground for doubt whether he would live – but is to be taken in a popular sense, as denoting good courage, and an earnest hope that he would be permitted to live and visit them. Heinrichs.

And continue with you all – That is, that he would be permitted not only to live, but to enjoy their society.

For your furtherance and joy of faith – For the increase of your faith, and the promotion of that joy which is the consequence of faith. Wetstein has quoted a beautiful passage from Seneca (Epis. 104) which strikingly resembles this sentiment of Paul. He says that when a man had meditated death, and when on his own account he would be willing to die, yet that he ought to be willing to live – to come back again to life – for the sake of his friends. Pagan adds: “It pertains to a great mind to be willing to come back to life for the sake of others; which distinguished people often do.”

John Calvin
Php 1:26
26That your glorying. The expression which he employs, ἐν ἐμόι, I have rendered de me(as to me,)because the preposition is made use of twice, but in different senses. No one assuredly will deny that I have faithfully brought out Paul’s mind. The rendering given by some — per Christum, (through Christ,)I do not approve of. For in Christ is employed in place of Secundum Christum, (According to Christ,)or Christiane, (Christianly,)to intimate that it was a holy kind of glorying. For otherwise we are commanded to glory in God alone. (1Co_1:31.) Hence malevolent persons might meet Paul with the objection, How is it allowable for the Philippians to glory as to thee? He anticipates this calumny by saying that they will do this according to Christ— glorying in a servant of Christ, with a view to the glory of his Lord, and that with an eye to the doctrine rather than to the individual, and in opposition to the false apostles, just as David, by comparing himself with hypocrites, boasts of his righteousness. (Psa_7:8.)

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Php 1:26
Translate, “That your matter of glorying (or rejoicing) may abound in Christ Jesus in me (that is, in my case; in respect to me, or for me who have been granted to your prayers, Phi_1:19) through my presence again among you.” Alford makes the “matter of glorying,” the possession of the Gospel, received from Paul, which would abound, be assured and increased, by his presence among them; thus, “in me,” implies that Paul is the worker of the material of abounding in Christ Jesus. But “my rejoicing over you” (Phi_2:16), answers plainly to “your rejoicing in respect to me” here.

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2 responses to “Philippians Chapter 1:12-26 Antique Commentary Quotes

  1. Sometimes I am called upon to lead our Sunday school class and the above notes really help !! Thanks

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