1.Therefore, my brethren He concludes his doctrine, as he is wont, with most urgent exhortations, that he may fix it the more firmly in the minds of men. He also insinuates himself into their affections by endearing appellations, which at the same time are not dictated by flattery, but by sincere affection. He calls them his joy and crown; because, delighted to see those who had been gained over through his instrumentality persevering in the faith, he hoped to attain that triumph, of which we have spoken, when the Lord will reward with a crown those things which have been accomplished under his guidance.
When he bids them so stand fast in the Lord, he means that their condition is approved of by him. At the same time, the particle so might be taken as referring to the doctrine going before; but the former view is more suitable, so that, by praising their present condition, he exhorts them to perseverance. They had already, it is true, given some evidence of their constancy. Paul, however, well knowing human weakness, reckons that they have need of confirmation for the future.
Therefore, my – beloved – Because ye have this armor, and those enemies, and God for your support, see that ye stand fast in him. This verse most unquestionably belongs to the preceding chapter.
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for – Doddridge unites this verse with the previous chapter, and supposes that it is the proper close of the solemn statement which the apostle makes there. The word “therefore” – ώστε hoste – has undoubted reference to the remarks made there; and the meaning is, that in view of the fact that there were many professed Christians who were not sincere – that the “citizenship” of all true Christians was in heaven, and that Christians looked for the coming of the Lord Jesus, who would make them like to himself, the apostle exhorts them to stand fast in the Lord. The accumulation of epithets of endearment in this verse shows his tender regard for them, and is expressive of his earnest solicitude for their welfare, and his deep conviction of their danger.
The term “longed for” is expressive of strong affection; see Phi_1:8, and Phi_2:26.
My joy – The source of my joy. He rejoiced in the fact that they had been converted under him; and in their holy walk, and their friendship. Our chief joy is in our friends; and the chief happiness of a minister of the gospel is in the pure lives of those to whom he ministers; see 3Jo_1:4.
And crown – Compare 1Th_2:19. The word “crown” means a circlet, chaplet, or diadem:
(1) as the emblem of royal dignity – the symbol of office;
(2) as the prize conferred on victors in the public games, 1Co_9:25, and hence, as an emblem of the rewards of a future life; 2Ti_4:8; Jam_1:12; 1Pe_5:4;
(3) anything that is an ornament or honor, as one glories in a crown; compare Pro_12:4, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband;” Pro_14:24, “The crown of the wise is their riches;” Pro_16:31, “The hoary head is a crown of glory;” Pro_17:6, “Children’s children are the crown of old men.”
The idea here is, that the church at Philippi was that in which the apostle gloried. He regarded it as a high honor to have been the means of founding such a church, and he looked upon it with the same interest with which a monarch looks upon the diadem which he wears.
So stand fast in the Lord – In the service of the Lord, and in the strength which he imparts; see the notes at Eph_6:13-14.
2.I exhort Euodias and Syntyche It is an almost universally received opinion that Paul was desirous to settle a quarrel, I know not of what sort, between those two women. While I am not inclined to contend as to this, the words of Paul do not afford ground enough for such a conjecture to satisfy us that it really was so. It appears, from the testimony which he gives in their favor, that they were very excellent women; for he assigns to them so much honor as to call them fellow-soldiers in the gospel. Hence, as their agreement was a matter of great moment, and, on the other hand, there would be great danger attendant on their disagreement, he stirs them up particularly to concord.
We must take notice, however, that, whenever he speaks of agreement, he adds also the bond of it—in the Lord. For every combination will inevitably be accursed, if apart from the Lord, and, on the other hand, nothing is so disjoined, but that it ought to be reunited in Christ.
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche – These were two pious women, as it is generally supposed, who were deaconesses in the Church at Philippi, and who in some points of doctrine and discipline had disagreed. He exhorts them to be of the same mind, that is, to compose their differences; and, if they could not perfectly agree to think and let think, and to avoid all public opposition, as their dissension would strengthen the hands of the common enemy, and stumble those who were weak. But it is more likely that Euodias was a woman, and Syntyche a man, and probably the husband of Euodias; and that it is Syntyche whom the apostle calls true yokefellow in the next verse.
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche – These are doubtless the names of females. The name Syntyche is sometimes the name of a man; but, if these persons are referred to in Phi_4:3, there can be no doubt that they were females. Nothing more is known of them than is here mentioned. It has been commonly supposed that they were deaconesses, who preached the gospel to those of their own sex; but there is no certain evidence of this. All that is known is, that there was some disagreement between them, and the apostle entreats them to be reconciled to each other.
That they be of the same mind – That they be united, or reconciled. Whether the difference related to doctrine, or to something else, we cannot determine from this phrase. The language is such as would properly relate to any difference.
In the Lord – In their Christian walk and plans. They were doubtless professing Christians, and the apostle exhorts them to make the Lord the great object of their affections, and in their regard for him, to bury all their petty differences and animosities.
Euodia (Euodian). This name means literally “prosperous journey” (eu, hodos). It occurs in the inscriptions.
Syntyche (Suntuchen). From suntugchano, to meet with and so “pleasant acquaintance” or “good-luck.” Occurs in the inscriptions and identified with Lydia by some. Klopper suggests that each of these rival women had church assemblies in their homes, one a Jewish-Christian church, the other a Gentile-Christian church. Vincent doubts the great influence of women in Macedonia held by Lightfoot who also suggests that these two were ladies of rank or perhaps deaconesses of the church in Philippi. Schinz suggests that in such a pure church even slight bickerings would make a real disturbance. “It may have been accidental friction between two energetic Christian women” (Kennedy).
Php 4:3 I entreat thee, my sincere  companion. St. John Chrysostom expounds it of his fellow labourer or fellow soldier, and says that some pretended that by it was meant St. Paul’s wife; but this he absolutely rejects, as do all the ancient interpreters, who teach us that St. Paul was never married, if we except the particular opinion of Clement of Alexandria, (lib. 3. strom. p. 448. Edit. Heinsii) who at the same time tells us, that St. Paul and those ministers of the gospel who had wives, lived with them as if they had been their sisters. The pretended reformers, who bring this place to shew that bishops and priests may marry, will they be for living after this manner? See 1 Corinthians vii. 7, 8. But even Calvin, Beza, and Dr. Hammond, expound this of some man that laboured with St. Paul. (Witham) — It seems probable that St. Paul is here speaking to one of the persons mentioned in the previous verse. Others think that he is speaking to the gaoler [jailer] whom he converted at Philippi. It seems most probable, however, that St. Paul is here speaking to the bishop of the Church, at Philippi. As to the opinion that he is speaking to his wife, we have elsewhere refuted that sentiment. (Calmet) — St. Paul says of himself that he had no wife, (1 Corinthians vii. 8.) and all the Greek Fathers are very positive on this point. — With Clement. St. Jerome, Estius, and some others, believe that this Clement was the fourth pope that governed the Church, after Sts. Linus and Cletus: this at least is the common opinion. — Those women who have laboured with me in the gospel, not by preaching, but by assisting other ways to promote the gospel. (Witham)
3I entreat thee, also, true yokefellow I am not inclined to dispute as to the gender of the noun, and shall, accordingly, leave it undetermined, whether he addresses here a man or a woman. At the same time there is excessive weakness in the argument of Erasmus, who infers that it is a woman from the circumstance, that mention is made here of other women — as though he did not immediately subjoin the name of Clement in the same connection. I refrain, however, from that dispute: only I maintain that it is not Paul’s wife that is designated by this appellation. Those who maintain this, quote Clement and Ignatius as their authorities. If they quoted correctly, I would not certainly despise men of such eminence. But as writings are brought forward from Eusebius which are spurious, and were contrived by ignorant monks, they are not deserving of much credit among readers of sound judgment
Let us, therefore, inquire as to the thing itself, without taking any false impression from the opinions of men. When Paul wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians, he was, as he mentions, at that time unmarried. “To the unmarried,” says he, “and widows, I say it is good that they should continue even as I am” (1Co_7:8.)
He wrote that Epistle at Ephesus when he was prepared to leave it. Not long after, he proceeded to Jerusalem, where he was put in prison, and sent to Rome. Every one must perceive how unsuitable a period of time it would have been for marrying a wife, spent by him partly in journeying, and partly in prison. In addition to this, he was even at that time prepared to endure imprisonment and persecutions, as he himself testifies, according to Luke. (Act_21:13.) I am, at the same time, well aware what objection is usually brought forward in opposition to this — that Paul, though married, refrained from conjugal intercourse. The words, however, convey another meaning, for he is desirous that unmarried persons may have it in their power to remain in the same condition with himself. Now, what is that condition but celibacy? As to their bringing forward that passage — Is it not lawful for me to lead about a wife (1Co_9:5,) for the purpose of proving he had a wife, it is too silly to require any refutation. But granting that Paul was married, how came his wife to be at Philippi — a city which we do not read of his entering on more than two occasions, and in which it is probable he never remained so much as two whole months? In fine, nothing is more unlikely than that he speaks here of his wife; and to me it does not seem probable that he speaks of any female. I leave it, however, to the judgment of my readers. The word which Paul makes use of here (συλλάμβανεσθαι) means, to take hold of a thing and embrace it along with another person, with the view of giving help
Whose names are in the book of life The book of life is the roll of the righteous, who are predestinated to life, as in the writings of Moses. (Exo_32:32.) God has this roll beside himself in safekeeping. Hence the book is nothing else than His eternal counsel, fixed in His own breast. In place of this term, Ezekiel employs this expression — the writing of the house of Israel. With the same view it is said in
Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and let them not be written among the righteous; (Psa_69:28 ) that is, let them not be numbered among the elect of God, whom he receives within the limits of his Church and kingdom.
Should any one allege, that Paul therefore acts rashly in usurping to himself the right of pronouncing as to the secrets of God, I answer, that we may in some measure form a judgment from the token by which God manifests his election, but only in so far as our capacity admits. In all those, therefore, in whom we see the marks of adoption shine forth, let us in the mean time reckon those to be the sons of God until the books are opened, (Rev_20:12,) which will thoroughly bring all things to view. It belongs, it is true, to God alone now to know them that are his, (2Ti_2:19,) and to separate at least the lambs from the kids; but it is our part to reckon in charity all to be lambs who, in a spirit of obedience, submit themselves to Christ as their Shepherd, who betake themselves to his fold, and remain there constantly. It is our part to set so high a value upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which he confers peculiarly on his elect, that they shall be to us the seals, as it were, of an election which is hid from us.
Help those women which labored with me – Both in the Grecian and Asiatic countries women were kept much secluded, and is was not likely that even the apostles had much opportunity of conversing with them; it was therefore necessary that they should have some experienced Christian women with them, who could have access to families, and preach Jesus to the female part of them. The apostle tells us that certain women labored with him in the Gospel, and were assistants to others also who had assisted him.
Some think the women here were Euodias and Syntyche; but I rather incline to the opinion that Syntyche was a male, and Euodias his wife. Euodias signifies a pleasant scent; Syntyche, fortunate. There have been a number of conjectures who these persons were, and who is meant by the true yokefellow; but as there is nothing certain known on the subject, it is useless to propagate conjecture.
With Clement also – Supposed to be the same who was afterwards bishop of Rome, and who wrote an epistle to the Corinthians, which is still extant.
Whose names are in the book of life – Who are genuine Christians; who are enlisted or enrolled in the armies of the Lord, and have received a title to eternal glory. The reader is requested to refer to the note on Exo_32:32-33 (note), and the concluding observations at the end of that chapter, (Exo_32:35 (note)) where the writing in and blotting out of the book of life are particularly considered, and the difficulties on the subject removed. See also on Luk_10:20 (note).
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
And — Greek, “Yea.”
true yoke-fellow — yoked with me in the same Gospel yoke (Mat_11:29, Mat_11:30; compare 1Ti_5:17, 1Ti_5:18). Either Timothy, Silas (Act_15:40; Act_16:19, at Philippi), or the chief bishop of Philippi. Or else the Greek, “Sunzugus,” or “Synzygus,” is a proper name: “Who art truly, as thy name means, a yoke-fellow.” Certainly not Paul’s wife, as 1Co_9:5 implies he had none.
help those women — rather, as Greek, “help them,” namely, Euodia and Syntyche. “Co-operate with them” [Birks]; or as Alford, “Help in the work of their reconciliation.”
which laboured with me — “inasmuch as they labored with me.” At Philippi, women were the first hearers of the Gospel, and Lydia the first convert. It is a coincidence which marks genuineness, that in this Epistle alone, special instructions are given to women who labored with Paul in the Gospel. In selecting the first teachers, those first converted would naturally be fixed on. Euodia and Syntyche were doubtless two of “the women who resorted to the riverside, where prayer was wont to be made” (Act_16:13), and being early converted, would naturally take an active part in teaching other women called at a later period; of course not in public preaching, but in a less prominent sphere (1Ti_2:11, 1Ti_2:12).
Clement — bishop of Rome shortly after the death of Peter and Paul. His Epistle from the Church of Rome to the Church of Corinth is extant. It makes no mention of the supremacy of the See of Peter. He was the most eminent of the apostolical fathers. Alford thinks that the Clement here was a Philippian, and not necessarily Clement, bishop of Rome. But Origen [Commentary, Joh_1:29] identifies the Clement here with the bishop of Rome.
in the book of life — the register-book of those whose “citizenship is in heaven” (Luk_10:20; Phi_3:20). Anciently, free cities had a roll book containing the names of all those having the right of citizenship (compare Exo_32:32; Psa_69:28; Eze_13:9; Dan_12:1; Rev_20:12; Rev_21:27).
And I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow – It is not known to whom the apostle refers here. No name is mentioned, and conjecture is useless. All that is known is, that it was someone whom Paul regarded as associated with himself in labor, and one who was so prominent at Philippi that it would be understood who was referred to, without more particularly mentioning him. The presumption, therefore. is, that it was one of the ministers, or “bishops” (see the notes at Phi_1:1) of Philippi, who had been particularly associated with Paul when he was there. The Epistle was addressed to the “church with the bishops and deacons” Phi_1:1; and the fact that this one had been particularly associated with Paul, would serve to designate him with sufficient particularity. Whether he was related to the women referred to, is wholly unknown. Doddridge supposes that he might be the husband of one of these women; but of that there is no evidence. The term “yoke-fellow” – συζυγος suzugos – some have understood as a proper name (Syzygus); but the proper import of the word is yoke-fellow, and there is no reason to believe that it is used here to denote a proper name. If it had been, it is probable that some other word than that used here and rendered “true” – γνήσιος gnesios – would have been employed. The word “true” – γνήσιος gnesios – means that he was sincere, faithful, worthy of confidence. Paul had had evidence of his sincerity and fidelity; and he was a proper person, therefore, to whom to entrust a delicate and important business.
Help those women – The common opinion is, tidal the women here referred to were Euodias and Syntyche, and that the office which the friend of Paul was asked to perform was, to secure a reconciliation between them. There is, however, no certain evidence of this The reference seems rather to be to influential females who had rendered important assistance to Paul when he was there. The kind of “help” which was to be imparted was probably by counsel, and friendly cooperation in the duties which they were called to perform, There is no evidence that it refers to pecuniary aid; and, had it referred to a reconciliation of those who were at variance, it is probable that some other word would have been used than that rendered here as “help” – συλλαμβάνου sullambanou.
Which laboured with me in the gospel – As Paul did not permit women to preach (see 1Ti_2:12; compare the notes at 1Co_10:5), he must have referred here to some other services which they had rendered. There were deaconesses in the primitive churches (see the Rom_16:1 note; 1Ti_5:9., note), to whom was probably entrusted particularly the care of the female members of a church. In the custom which prevailed in the oriental world, of excluding females from the public gaze, and of confining them to their houses, it would not be practicable for the apostles to have access to them. The duties of instructing and exhorting them were then probably entrusted chiefly to pious females; and in this way important aid would be rendered in the gospel. Paul could regard such as “laboring with him,” though they were not engaged in preaching.
With Clement also – That is, they were associated with Clement, and with the other fellow-laborers of Paul, in aiding him in the gospel. Clement as doubtless someone who was well known among them; and the apostle felt that, by associating them with him, as having been real helpers in the gospel, their claim to respectful attention would be better appreciated. Who Clement was, is unknown. Most of the ancients say it was Clement of Rome, one of the primitive fathers. But there is no evidence of this. The name Clement was common, and there is no improbability in supposing that there might have been a preacher of this name in the church at Philippi.
Whose names are in the book of life – see the notes at Isa_4:3. The phrase, “the book of life,” which occurs here, and in Rev_3:5; Rev_13:8; Rev_20:12, Rev_20:15; Rev_21:27; Rev_22:19, is a Jewish phrase, and refers originally to a record or catalogue of names, as the roll of an army. It then means to be among the living, as the name of an individual would be erased from a catalog when he was deceased. The word “life” here refers to eternal life; and the whole phrase refers to those who were enrolled among the true friends of God, or who would certainly be saved. The use of this phrase here implies the belief of Paul that these persons were true Christians. Names that are written in the book of life will not be blotted out. If the hand of God records them there who can obliterate them?
True yokefellow (gnesie sunzuge). All sorts of suggestions have been made here, one that it was Lydia who is termed Paul’s wife by the word sunzuge. Unfortunately for that view gnēsie is masculine vocative singular. Some have suggested it as a proper name though it is not found in the inscriptions, but the word does occur as an appellative in one. Lightfoot even proposes Epaphroditus, the bearer of the Epistle, certainly a curious turn to take to address him. After all it matters little that we do not know who the peacemaker was.
Help these women (sunlambanou autais). Present middle imperative of sunlambano, to seize (Mat_26:55), to conceive (Luk_1:24), then to take hold together with one (associative instrumental case), to help as here (Luk_5:7). “Take hold with them.”
They laboured with me (sunethlesan moi). First aorist active indicative of sunathleo (for which see note on Phi_1:27) with associative instrumental case (moi).
With Clement also (meta kai Klementos). There is no evidence that he was Clement of Rome as the name is common.
In the book of life (en bibloi zoes). The only instance of this expression in the N.T. outside of the Apocalypse (Rev_3:5; Rev_13:8; Rev_17:8, etc.). Hence real Christians in spite of their bickerings.
4.Rejoice in the Lord It is an exhortation suited to the times; for, as the condition of the pious was exceedingly troublous, and dangers threatened them on every side, it was possible that they might give way, overcome by grief or impatience. Hence he enjoins it upon them, that, amidst circumstances of hostility and disturbance, they should nevertheless rejoice in the Lord, as assuredly these spiritual consolations, by means of which the Lord refreshes and gladdens us, ought then most of all to show their efficacy when the whole world tempts us to despair. Let us, however, in connection with the circumstances of the times, consider what efficacy there must have been in this word uttered by the mouth of Paul, who might have had special occasion of sorrow. For if they are appalled by persecutions, or imprisonments, or exile, or death, here is the Apostle setting himself forward, who, amidst imprisonments, in the very heat of persecution, and in fine, amidst apprehensions of death, is not merely himself joyful, but even stirs up others to joy. The sum, then, is this — that come what may, believers, having the Lord standing on their side, have amply sufficient ground of joy.
The repetition of the exhortation serves to give greater force to it: Let this be your strength and stability, to rejoice in the Lord, and that, too, not for a moment merely, but so that your joy in him may be perpetuated. For unquestionably it differs from the joy of the world in this respect — that we know from experience that the joy of the world is deceptive, frail, and fading, and Christ even pronouces it to be accursed (Luk_6:25 ). Hence, that only is a settled joy in God which is such as is never taken away from us.
Rejoice in the Lord alway – Be continually happy; but this happiness you can find only in the Lord. Genuine happiness is spiritual; as it can only come from God, so it infallibly tends to him. The apostle repeats the exhortation, to show, not only his earnestness, but also that it was God’s will that it should be so, and that it was their duty as well as interest.
Rejoice in the Lord alway – Php 3:1
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord – That is, in the Lord Jesus; see Phi_3:3; compare the Act_1:24 note, and 1Th_5:16 note. The idea here is, that it is the duty of Christians to rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ. This duty implies the following things:
(1) They should rejoice that they have such a Saviour. People everywhere have felt the need of a Saviour, and to us it should be a subject of unfeigned joy that one has been provided for us. When we think of our sins, we may now rejoice that there is one who can deliver us from them; when we think of the worth of the soul, we may rejoice that there is one who can save it from death; when we think of our danger, we can rejoice that there is one who can rescue us from all peril, and bring us to a world where we shall be for ever safe.
(2) we may rejoice that we have such a Saviour. He is just such as we need. He accomplishes just what we want a Saviour to do. We need one to make known to us a way of pardon, and he does it. We need one to make an atonement for sin, and he does it. We need one to give us peace from a troubled conscience, and he does it. We need one to support us in trials and bereavements, and he does it. We need one who can comfort us on the bed of death, and guide us through the dark valley, and the Lord Jesus is just what we want. When we look at his character, it is just such as it should be to win our hearts, and to make us love him; and when we look at what he has done, we see that he has accomplished all that we can desire, and why should we not rejoice?
(3) we may and should rejoice in him. The principal joy of the true Christian should be in the Lord. He should find his happiness not in riches, or gaiety, or vanity, or ambition, or books, or in the world in any form, but in communion with the Lord Jesus, and in the hope of eternal life through him. In his friendship, and in his service, should be the highest of our joys, and in these we may always be happy. It is the privilege, therefore, of a Christian to rejoice. He has more sources of joy than any other man – sources which do not fail when all others fail. Religion is not sadness or melancholy, it is joy; and the Christian should never leave the impression on others that his religion makes him either gloomy or morose. A cheerful countenance, an eye of benignity, a conversation pleasant and kind, should always evince the joy of his heart, and in all his contact with the world around hint he should show that his heart is full of joy.
4.4 It is the privilege of Christians to do this, not at certain periods and at distant intervals, but at all times they may rejoice that there is a God and Saviour; they may rejoice in the character, law, and government of God – in his promises, and in communion with him. The Christian, therefore, may be, and should be, always a happy man. If everything else changes, yet the Lord does not change; if the sources of all other joy are dried up, yet this is not; and there is not a moment of a Christian’s life in which he may not find joy in the character, law, and promises of God.
5Your moderation This may be explained in two ways. We may understand him as bidding them rather give up their right, than that any one should have occasion to complain of their sharpness or severity. “Letall that have to deal with you have experience of your equity and humanity.” In this way to know, will mean to experience. Or we may understand him as exhorting them to endure all things with equanimity. This latter meaning I rather prefer; for is a term that is made use of by the Greeks themselves to denote moderation of spirit — when we are not easily moved by injuries, when we are not easily annoyed by adversity, but retain equanimity of temper. In accordance with this, Cicero makes use of the following expression, — “My mind is tranquil, which takes everything in good part.” Such equanimity — which is as it were the mother of patience — he requires here on the part of the Philippians, and, indeed, such as will manifest itself to all, according as occasion will require, by producing its proper effects. The term modesty does not seem appropriate here, because Paul is not in this passage cautioning them against haughty insolence, but directs them to conduct themselves peaceably in everything, and exercise control over themselves, even in the endurance of injuries or inconveniences.
The Lord is at hand Here we have an anticipation, by which he obviates an objection that might be brought forward. For carnal sense rises in opposition to the foregoing statement. For as the rage of the wicked is the more inflamed in proportion to our mildness, and the more they see us prepared for enduring, are the more emboldened to inflict injuries, we are with difficulty induced to possess our souls in patience. (Luk_21:19.) Hence those proverbs, — “We must howl when among wolves.” “Those who act like sheep will quickly be devoured by wolves.” Hence we conclude, that the ferocity of the wicked must be repressed by corresponding violence, that they may not insult us with impunity. To such considerations Paul here opposes confidence in Divine providence. He replies, I say, that the Lord is at hand, whose power can overcome their audacity, and whose goodness can conquer their malice. He promises that he will aid us, provided we obey his commandment. Now, who would not rather be protected by the hand of God alone, than have all the resources of the world at his command?
Here we have a most beautiful sentiment, from which we learn, in the first place, that ignorance of the providence of God is the cause of all impatience, and that this is the reason why we are so quickly, and on trivial accounts, thrown into confusion, and often, too, become disheartened because we do not recognize the fact that the Lord cares for us. On the other hand, we learn that this is the only remedy for tranquillizing our minds — when we repose unreservedly in his providential care, as knowing that we are not exposed either to the rashness of fortune, or to the caprice of the wicked, but are under the regulation of God’s fatherly care. In fine, the man that is in possession of this truth, that God is present with him, has what he may rest upon with security.
There are, however, two ways in which the Lord is said to be at hand— either because his judgment is at hand, or because he is prepared to give help to his own people, in which sense it is made use of here; and also in Psa_145:18, The Lord is near to all that call upon him. The meaning therefore is,— “Miserable were the condition of the pious, if the Lord were at a distance from them.” But as he has received them under his protection and guardianship, and defends them by his hand, which is everywhere present, let them rest upon this consideration, that they may not be intimidated by the rage of the wicked. It is well known, and matter of common occurrence, that the term solicitudo (carefulness) is employed to denote that anxiety which proceeds from distrust of Divine power or help.
Let your moderation be known – The word επιεικες is of very extensive signification; it means the same as επιεικεια, mildness, patience, yieldingness, gentleness, clemency, moderation, unwillingness to litigate or contend; but moderation is expressive enough as a general term. “Moderation,” says Dr. Macknight, “means meekness under provocation, readiness to forgive injuries, equity in the management of business, candour in judging of the characters and actions of others, sweetness of disposition, and the entire government of the passions.”
The Lord is at hand – A phrase something similar to the Maranatha of 1Co_16:22 : The Lord is Judge, and is at hand to punish. Schoettgen supposes, from this verse, taken in connection with the preceding, that Euodias and Syntyche were of a quarrelsome disposition; and hence the exhortation and threatening in the third and fifth verses.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
moderation — from a Greek root, “to yield,” whence yieldingness [Trench]; or from a root, “it is fitting,” whence “reasonableness of dealing” [Alford], that considerateness for others, not urging one’s own rights to the uttermost, but waiving a part, and thereby rectifying the injustices of justice. The archetype of this grace is God, who presses not the strictness of His law against us as we deserve (Psa_130:3, Psa_130:4); though having exacted the fullest payment for us from our Divine Surety. There are included in “moderation,” candor and kindliness. Joy in the Lord raises us above rigorism towards others (Phi_4:5), and carefulness (Phi_4:6) as to one’s own affairs. Sadness produces morose harshness towards others, and a troublesome spirit in ourselves.
Let … be known — that is, in your conduct to others, let nothing inconsistent with “moderation” be seen. Not a precept to make a display of moderation. Let this grace “be known” to men in acts; let “your requests be made to God” in word (Phi_4:6).
unto all men — even to the “perverse” (Phi_2:15), that so ye may win them. Exercise “forbearance” even to your persecutors. None is so ungracious as not to be kindly to someone, from some motive or another, on some occasion; the believer is to be so “unto all men” at all times.
The Lord is at hand — The Lord’s coming again speedily is the grand motive to every Christian grace (Jam_5:8, Jam_5:9). Harshness to others (the opposite of “moderation”) would be taking into our own hands prematurely the prerogatives of judging, which belongs to the Lord alone (1Co_4:5); and so provoking God to judge us by the strict letter of the law (Jam_2:12, Jam_2:13).
Let your moderation be known unto all men – That is, let it be such that others may see it. This does not mean that they were to make an ostentatious display of it, but that it should be such a characteristic of their lives that it would be constantly visible to others. The word “moderation” – ἐπιεικὲς epieikes – refers to restraint on the passions, general soberness of living, being free from all excesses. The word properly means that which is fit or suitable, and then propriety, gentleness, mildness – They were to indulge in no excess of passion, or dress, or eating, or drinking. They were to govern their appetites, restrain their temper, and to be examples of what was proper for people in view of the expectation that the Lord would soon appear.
The Lord is at hand – Is near; see the Phi_3:20 note: From whence also we look for the Saviour – From heaven. That is, it is one of the characteristics of the Christian that he believes that the Lord Jesus will return from heaven, and that he looks and waits for it. Other men do not believe this 2Pe_3:4, but the Christian confidently expects it. His Saviour has been taken away from the earth, and is now in heaven, but it is a great and standing article of his faith that that same Saviour will again come, and take the believer to himself; see the Joh_14:2-3, note; 1Th_4:1, note. This was the firm belief of the early Christians, and this expectation with them was allowed to exert a constant influence on their hearts and lives. It led them:
(1) to desire to be prepared for his coming;
(2) to feel that earthly affairs were of little importance, as the scene here was soon to close;
(3) to live above the world, and in the desire of the appearing of the Lord Jesus.
This was one of the elementary doctrines of their faith, and one of the means of producing deadness to the world among them; and among the early Christians there was, perhaps, no doctrine that was more the object of firm belief, and the ground of more delightful contemplation, than that their ascended Master would return. In regard to the certainty of their belief on this point, and the effect which it had on their minds, see the following texts of the New Testament; Mat_24:42, Mat_24:44; Luk_12:37; Joh_14:3; Act_1:11; 1Co_4:5; Col_3:4; 1Th_2:19; 2Th_2:1; Heb_10:37; Jam_5:7-8; 1Jo_3:2; Rev_22:7, Rev_22:12, Rev_22:20. It may be asked, with great force, whether Christians in general have now any such expectation of the second appearing of the Lord Jesus, or whether they have not fallen into the dangerous error of prevailing unbelief, so that the expectation of his coming is allowed to exert almost no influence on the soul.
In the passage before us, Paul says that it was one of the distinct characteristics of Christians that they looked for the coming of the Saviour from heaven. They believed that he would return. They anticipated that important effects would follow to them from his second coming. So we should look. There may be, indeed, a difference of opinion about the time when he will come, and about the question whether he will come to reign “literally, on the earth – but the fact that Christ will return to our world is common ground on which all Christians may meet, and is a fact which should be allowed to exert its full influence on the heart. It is a glorious truth – for what a sad world would this be, and what a sad prospect would be before the Christian, if the Saviour were never to come to raise his people from their graves, and to gather his redeemed to himself! The fact that he will come is identified with all our hopes. It is fitted to cheer us in trial; to guard us in temptation; to make us dead to the world; to lead us to keep the eye turned toward heaven.
This has the appearance of being a phrase in common use among the early Christians, and as being designed to keep before their minds a lively impression of an event which ought, by its anticipation, to produce an important effect. Whether, by this phrase, they commonly understood the coming of the Lord to destroy Jerusalem, or to remove them by death, or to judge the world, or to reign personally on the earth, it is impossible now to determine, and is not very material to a proper understanding of its use here. The idea is, that the expectation that the Lord Jesus will “come,” ought to be allowed to produce moderation of our passions, in our manner of living, in our expectations of what this world can furnish, and in our desires of earthly good. On him who feels that he is soon to die, and to stand at the bar of God – on him who expects soon to see the Lord Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven, it cannot fail to have this effect. People indulge their passions – are extravagant in their plans of life, and in their expectations of earthly good for themselves and for their families, because they have no realizing sense of the truth that there is before them a vast eternity. He that has a lively expectation that heaven will soon be his, will form very moderate expectations of what this world can furnish.
6But in all things It is the singular number that is made use of by Paul, but is the neuter gender; the expression, therefore, is equivalent to omni negotio, (in every matter,) for (prayer) and (supplication) are feminine nouns. In these words he exhorts the Philippians, as David does all the pious in Psa_55:22, and Peter also in 1Pe_5:7, to cast all their care upon the Lord. For we are not made of iron, so as not to be shaken by temptations. But this is our consolation, this is our solace — to deposit, or (to speak with greater propriety) to disburden in the bosom of God everything that harasses us. Confidence, it is true, brings tranquillity to our minds, but it is only in the event of our exercising ourselves in prayers. Whenever, therefore, we are assailed by any temptation, let us betake ourselves forthwith to prayer, as to a sacred asylum.
The term requests he employs here to denote desires or wishes. He would have us make these known to God by prayer and supplication, as though believers poured forth their hearts before God, when they commit themselves, and all that they have, to Him. Those, indeed, who look hither and thither to the vain comforts of the world, may appear to be in some degree relieved; but there is one sure refuge — leaning upon the Lord.
With thanksgiving As many often pray to God amiss, full of complaints or of murmurings, as though they had just ground for accusing him, while others cannot brook delay, if he does not immediately gratify their desires, Paul on this account conjoins thanksgiving with prayers. It is as though he had said, that those things which are necessary for us ought to be desired by us from the Lord in such a way, that we, nevertheless, subject our affections to his good pleasure, and give thanks while presenting petitions. And, unquestionably, gratitude will have this effect upon us — that the will of God will be the grand sum of our desires.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Translate, “Be anxious about nothing.” Care and prayer are as mutually opposed as fire and water [Bengel].
by prayer and supplication — Greek, “by the prayer and the supplication” appropriate to each case [Alford]. Prayer for blessings; and the general term. Supplication, to avert ills; a special term, suppliant entreaty (see on Eph_6:18).
thanksgiving — for every event, prosperity and affliction alike (1Th_5:18; Jam_5:13). The Philippians might remember Paul’s example at Philippi when in the innermost prison (Act_16:25). Thanksgiving gives effect to prayer (2Ch_20:21), and frees from anxious carefulness by making all God’s dealings matter for praise, not merely for resignation, much less murmuring. “Peace” is the companion of “thanksgiving” (Phi_4:7; Col_3:15).
let your requests be made known unto God — with generous, filial, unreserved confidence; not keeping aught back, as too great, or else too small, to bring before God, though you might feel so as to your fellow men. So Jacob, when fearing Esau (Gen_32:9-12); Hezekiah fearing Sennacherib (2Ki_19:14; Psa_37:5).
Be careful for nothing – That is, be not anxious or solicitous about the things of the present life. The word used here – μεριμνᾶτε merimnate – does not mean that we are to exercise no care about worldly
matters – no care to preserve our property, or to provide for our families (compare 1Ti_5:8); but that there is to be such confidence in God as to free the mind from anxiety, and such a sense of dependence on him as to keep it calm; see the subject explained in the notes on Mat_6:25.
But in everything – Everything in reference to the supply of your wants, and the wants of your families; everything in respect to afflictions, embarrassments, and trials; and everything relating to your spiritual condition. There is nothing which pertains to body, mind, estate, friends, conflicts, losses, trials, hopes, fears, in reference to which we may not go and spread it all out before the Lord.
By prayer and supplication – The word rendered “supplication” is a stronger term than the former. It is the mode of prayer which especially arises from the sense of “need,” or “want” – from δέομαι deomai, “to want, to need.”
With thanksgiving – Thanksgiving connected with prayer. We can always find something to be thankful for, no matter what may be the burden of our wants, or the special subject of our petitions. When we pray for the supply of our wants, we may be thankful for that kind providence which has hitherto befriended us; when we pray for restoration from sickness, we may be thankful for the health we have hitherto enjoyed, and for God’s merciful interposition in the former days of trial, and for his goodness in now sparing our lives; when we pray that our children and friends may be preserved from danger and death, we may remember how often God has interposed to save them; when, oppressed with a sense of sin, we pray for pardon, we have abundant cause of thanksgiving that there is a glorious way by which we may be saved. The greatest sufferer that lives in this world of redeeming love, and who has the offer of heaven before him, has cause of gratitude.
Let your request be made known unto God – Not as if you were to give him information, but to express to him your wants. God needs not to be informed of our necessities, but he requires that we come and express them to him; compare Eze_36:37. “Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.”
7.And the peace of God Some, by turning the future tense into the optative mood, convert this statement into a prayer, but it is without proper foundation. For it is a promise in which he points out the advantage of a firm confidence in God, and invocation of him. “If you do that,” says he, “the peace of God will keep your minds and hearts.” Scripture is accustomed to divide the soul of man, as to its frailties, into two parts — the mind and the heart. The mind means the understanding, while the heart denotes all the disposition or inclinations. These two terms, therefore, include the entire soul, in this sense, — “The peace of God will guard you, so as to prevent you from turning back from God in wicked thoughts or desires.”
It is on good ground that he calls it the peace of God, inasmuch as it does not depend on the present aspect of things, and does not bend itself to the various shiftings of the world, but is founded on the firm and immutable word of God. It is on good grounds, also, that he speaks of it as surpassing all understanding or perception, for nothing is more foreign to the human mind, than in the depth of despair to exercise, nevertheless, a feeling of hope, in the depth of poverty to see opulence, and in the depth of weakness to keep from giving way, and, in fine, to promise ourselves that nothing will be wanting to us when we are left destitute of all things; and all this in the grace of God alone, which is not itself known otherwise than through the word, and the inward earnest of the Spirit.
And the peace of God – That harmonizing of all passions and appetites which is produced by the Holy Spirit, and arises from a sense of pardon and the favor of God;
Shall keep your hearts – Φρουρησει· Shall keep them as in a strong place or castle. Your hearts – the seat of all your affections and passions, and minds – your understanding, judgment, and conscience through Christ Jesus; by whom ye were brought into this state of favor, through whom ye are preserved in it, and in whom ye possess it; for Christ keeps that heart in peace in which he dwells and rules.
This peace passeth all understanding; it is of a very different nature from all that can arise from human occurrences; it is a peace which Christ has purchased, and which God dispenses; it is felt by all the truly godly, but can be explained by none; it is communion with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost.
And the peace of God – The peace which God gives. The peace here particularly referred to is that which is felt when we have no anxious care about the supply of our needs, and when we go confidently and commit everything into the hands of God. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee;” Isa_26:3; see the notes at Joh_14:27.
Which passeth all understanding – That is, which surpasses all that people had conceived or imagined. The expression is one that denotes that the peace imparted is of the highest possible kind. The apostle Paul frequently used terms which had somewhat of a hyperbolical cast (see the notes on Eph_3:19; compare Joh_21:25, and the language here is that which one would use who designed to speak of that which was of the highest order. The Christian, committing his way to God, and feeling that he will order all things aright, has a peace which is nowhere else known. Nothing else will furnish it but religion. No confidence that a man can have in his own powers; no reliance which he can repose on his own plans or on the promises or fidelity of his fellow-men, and no calculations which he can make on the course of events, can impart such peace to the soul as simple confidence in God.
Shall keep your hearts and minds – That is, shall keep them from anxiety and agitation. The idea is, that by thus making our requests known to God, and going to him in view of all our trials and wants, the mind would be preserved from distressing anxiety. The way to find peace, and to have the heart kept from trouble, is thus to go and spread out all before the Lord; compare Isa_26:3-4, Isa_26:20; Isa_37:1-7. The word rendered here “shall keep,” is a military term, and means that the mind would be guarded as a camp or castle is. It would be preserved from the intrusion of anxious fears and alarms.
Through Christ Jesus – By his agency, or intervention. It is only in him that the mind can be preserved in peace. It is not by mere confidence in God, or by mere prayer, but it is by confidence in God as he is revealed through the Redeemer, and by faith in him. Paul never lost sight of the truth that all the security and happiness of a believer were to be traced to the Saviour.
The peace of God (he eirene tou theou). See in 2Th_3:16 “the Lord of peace” (ho Kurios tes eirenes) and Phi_4:9 for “the God of peace” (ho theos tes eirenes).
Shall guard (phrouresei). “Shall garrison,” future active indicative of phroureo, old verb from phrouros (prohoros, proorao, to see before, to look out). See note on Act_9:24; 2Co_11:32. God’s peace as a sentinel mounts guard over our lives as Tennyson so beautifully pictures Love as doing.
8.Finally What follows consists of general exhortations which relate to the whole of life. In the first place, he commends truth, which is nothing else than the integrity of a good conscience, with the fruits of it: secondly, gravity, or sanctity, for τὸ σεμνόν denotes both — an excellence which consists in this, that we walk in a manner worthy of our vocation, (Eph_4:1,) keeping at a distance from all profane filthiness: thirdly, justice, which has to do with the mutual intercourse of mankind — that we do not injure any one, that we do not defraud any one; and, fourthly, purity, which denotes chastity in every department of life. Paul, however, does not reckon all these things to be sufficient, if we do not at the same time endeavor to make ourselves agreeable to all, in so far as we may lawfully do so in the Lord, and have regard also to our good name. For it is in this way that I understand the words —
If any praise, that is, anything praiseworthy, for amidst such a corruption of manners there is so great a perversity in men’s judgments that praise is often bestowed upon what is blameworthy, and it is not allowable for Christians to be desirous even of true praise among men, inasmuch as they are elsewhere forbidden to glory, except in God alone. (1Co_1:31.) Paul, therefore, does not bid them try to gain applause or commendation by virtuous actions, nor even to regulate their life according to the judgments of the people, but simply means, that they should devote themselves to the performance of good works, which merit commendation, that the wicked, and those who are enemies of the gospel, while they deride Christians and cast reproach upon them, may, nevertheless, be constrained to commend their deportment.
The word, προσφιλὢ καὶ εὔφημα however, among the Greeks, is employed, like cogitareamong the Latins, to mean, meditate. Now meditation comes first, afterwards follows action.
Finally, brethren – The object of the apostle is to recommend holiness and righteousness to them in every point of view; and to show that the Gospel of Christ requires all its professors to have the mind that was in Christ, and to walk as he himself also walked. That they were not to attend to one branch of righteousness or virtue only, but to every thing by which they might bring honor to God, good to their fellow creatures, and credit to themselves.
Whatsoever things are true – Οσα – αληθη· All that is agreeable to unchangeable and eternal truth. Whether that which is to be learned from the nature and state of created things, or that which comes immediately from God by revelation.
Whatsoever things are honest – Οσα σεμνα· Whatever is grave, decent, and venerable. Whatever becomes you as men, as citizens, and as Christians.
Whatsoever things are just – Οσα δικαια· Whatsoever is agreeable to justice and righteousness. All that ye owe to God, to your neighbor, and to yourselves.
Whatsoever things are pure – Οσα αγνα· Whatsoever is chaste. In reference to the state of the mind, and to the acts of the body.
Whatsoever things are lovely – Οσα προσφιλη· Whatsoever is amiable on its own account and on account of its usefulness to others, whether in your conduct or conversation.
Whatsoever things are of good report – Οσα ευφημα· Whatsoever things the public agree to acknowledge as useful and profitable to men; such as charitable institutions of every kind, in which genuine Christians should ever take the lead.
If there be any virtue – If they be calculated to promote the general good of mankind, and are thus praiseworthy;
Think on these things – Esteem them highly, recommend them heartily, and practice them fervently.
Instead of ει τις επαινος, if there be any praise, several eminent MSS., as D*EFG, add επιστημης, of knowledge; and the Vulgate and the Itala have disciplinae, of discipline; but none of these appear to be an original reading.
Finally, brethren – As for what remains – τὸ λοιπὸν to loipon – or as a final counsel or exhortation.
Whatsoever things are true – In this exhortation the apostle assumes that there were certain things admitted to be true, and pure, and good, in the world, which had not been directly revealed, or which were commonly regarded as such by the people of the world, and his object is to show them that such things ought to be exhibited by the Christian. Everything that was honest and just toward God and toward people was to be practiced by them, and they were in all things to be examples of the highest kind of morality. They were not to exhibit partial virtues; not to perform one set of duties to the neglect or exclusion of others; not to be faithful in their duties to God, and to neglect their duty to people, not to be punctual in their religious rites, and neglectful of the comment laws of morality; but they were to do everything that could be regarded as the fair subject of commendation, and that was implied in the highest moral character. The word true refers here to everything that was the reverse of falsehood. They were to be true to their engagements; true to their promises; true in their statements; and true in their friendships. They were to maintain the truth about God; about eternity; about the judgment; and about every man’s character. Truth is a representation of things as they are; and they were constantly to live under the correct impression of objects. A man who is false to his engagements, or false in his statements and promises, is one who will always disgrace religion.
Whatsoever things are honest – σεμνὰ semna. Properly, venerable, reverend; then honorable, reputable. The word was originally used in relation to the gods, and to the things that pertained to them, as being worthy of honor or veneration – Passow. As applied to people, it commonly means grave, dignified, worthy of veneration or regard. In the New Testament it is rendered “grave” in 1Ti_3:8, 1Ti_3:11, and Tit_2:2, the only places where the word occurs except this; and the noun (σεμνότης semnotes) is rendered “honesty” in 1Ti_2:2, and “gravity” in 1Ti_3:4, and Tit_2:7. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The word, therefore, does not express precisely what the word “honest” does with us, as confined to dealings or business transactions, but rather has reference to what was regarded as worthy of reputation or honor; what there was in the customs of society, in the respect due to age and rank, and in the contact of the world, that deserved respect or esteem. It includes indeed what is right in the transaction of business, but it embraces also much more, and means that the Christian is to show respect to all the venerable and proper customs of society, when they did not violate conscience or interfere with the law of God; compare 1Ti_3:7.
Whatsoever things are just – The things which are right between man and man. A Christian should be just in all his dealings. His religion does not exempt him from the strict laws which bind people to the exercise of this virtue, and there is no way by which a professor of religion can do more injury perhaps than by injustice and dishonesty in his dealings. It is to be remembered that the people of the world, in estimating a person’s character, affix much more importance to the virtues of justice and honesty than they do to regularity in observing the ordinances of religion; and therefore if a Christian would make an impression on his fellow-men favorable to religion, it is indispensable that he manifest uncorrupted integrity in his dealings.
Whatsoever things are pure – Chaste – in thought, in feeling, and in the conversation between the sexes; compare the notes at 1Ti_5:2.
Whatsoever things are lovely – The word used here means properly what is dear to anyone; then what is pleasing. Here it means what is amiable – such a temper of mind that one can love it; or such as to be agreeable to others. A Christian should not be sour, crabby, or irritable in his temper – for nothing almost tends so much to injure the cause of religion as a temper always chafed; a brow morose and stern; an eye that is severe and unkind, and a disposition to find fault with everything. And yet it is to be regretted that there are many persons who make no pretensions to piety, who far surpass many professors of religion in the virtue here commended. A sour and crabby temper in a professor of religion will undo all the good that he attempts to do.
Whatsoever things are of good report – That is, whatsoever is truly reputable in the world at large. There are actions which all people agree in commending, and which in all ages and countries are regarded as virtues. courtesy, urbanity, kindness, respect for parents, purity between brothers and sisters, are among those virtues, and the Christian should be a pattern and an example in them all. His usefulness depends much more on the cultivation of these virtues than is commonly supposed.
If there be any virtue – If there is anything truly virtuous. Paul did not suppose that he had given a full catalogue of the virtues which he would have cultivated. He, therefore, adds, that if there was anything else that had the nature of true virtue in it, they should be careful to cultivate that also. The Christian should be a pattern and an example of every virtue.
And if there be any praise – Anything worthy of praise, or that ought to be praised.
Think on these things – Let them be the object of your careful attention and study, so as to practice them. Think what they are; think on the obligation to observe them; think on the influence which they would have on the world around you.
Finally (to loipon). See note on Phi_3:1.
Whatsoever (hosa). Thus he introduces six adjectives picturing Christian ideals, old-fashioned and familiar words not necessarily from any philosophic list of moral excellencies Stoic or otherwise. Without these no ideals can exist. They are pertinent now when so much filth is flaunted before the world in books, magazines and moving-pictures under the name of realism (the slime of the gutter and the cess-pool).
Honourable (semna). Old word from sebo, to worship, revere. So revered, venerated (1Ti_3:8).
Pure (hagna). Old word for all sorts of purity. There are clean things, thoughts, words, deeds.
Lovely (prosphile). Old word, here only in N.T., from pros and phileo, pleasing, winsome.
Of good report (euphema. Old word, only here in N.T., from eu and pheme, fair-speaking, attractive.
If there be any (ei tis). Paul changes the construction from hosa (whatsoever) to a condition of the first class, as in Phi_2:1, with two substantives.
Virtue (arete). Old word, possibly from aresko, to please, used very often in a variety of senses by the ancients for any mental excellence or moral quality or physical power. Its very vagueness perhaps explains its rarity in the N.T., only four times (Phi_4:8; 1Pe_2:9; 2Pe_1:3, 2Pe_1:5). It is common in the papyri, but probably Paul is using it in the sense found in the lxx (Isa 42:12; 43:21) of God’s splendour and might (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 95) in connection with “praise” (epainos) as here or even meaning praise.
Think on these things (tauta logizesthe). Present middle imperative for habit of thought. We are responsible for our thoughts and can hold them to high and holy ideals.
9.What things ye have learned, and received, and heardBy this accumulation of terms he intimates, that he was assiduous in inculcating these things. “This was my doctrine — my instruction — my discourse among you.” Hypocrites, on the other hand, insisted upon nothing but ceremonies. Now, it was a dishonorable thing to abandon the holy instruction, which they had wholly imbibed, and with which they had been thorouglly imbued.
You have seen in me Now, the main thing in a public speaker should be, that he may speak, not with his mouth merely, but by his life, and procure authority for his doctrine by rectitude of life. Paul, accordingly, procures authority for his exhortation on this ground, that he had, by his life no less than by his mouth, been a leader and master of virtues.
And the God of peace He had spoken of the peace of God; he now more particularly confirms what he had said, by promising that God himself, the Author of peace, will be with them. For the presence of God brings us every kind of blessing: as though he had said, that they would feel that God was present with them to make all things turn out well and prosperously, provided they apply themselves to pious and holy actions.
Those things, which ye have – learned – From my preaching and writing;
And received – By faith, as a revelation from God;
And heard – From my preaching, and that of those who labored with me; and heard from me, in my private communications with you; and heard of me from other Churches;
And seen in me – While living and labouring among you;
Do – Take them for the rule of your faith and practice.
And the God of peace – He who is the author of peace, the lover of peace, and the maintainer of peace; he who has made peace between heaven and earth, by the mission and sacrifice of his Son, shall be ever with you while you believe and act as here recommended.
Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do – That is, what you have witnessed in me, and what you have learned of me, and what you have heard about me, practice yourselves. Paul refers them to his uniform conduct – to all that they had seen, and known, and heard of him, as that which it was proper for them to imitate. The same thing, substantially, he urges in Phi_3:17; see the notes at that verse. It could have been only the consciousness of a pure and upright life which would make such counsel proper. How few are the people at this day who can urge others to imitate all that they have seen in them, and learned from them, and heard of them.
And the God of peace shall be with you – The God who gives peace; compare Heb_13:20; 1Th_5:23; see also the notes at Phi_4:7. The meaning here is, that Paul, by pursuing the course of life which he had led, and which he here counsels them to follow, had found that it had been attended with the blessing of the God of peace, and he felt the fullest assurance that the same blessing would rest on them if they imitated his example. The way to obtain the blessing of the God of peace, is to lead a holy life, and to perform with faithfulness all the duties which we owe to God and to our fellow-men.
11Not that I speak with respect to want Here we have a second correction, by which he guards against its being suspected that his spirit was pusillanimous and broken down by adversities. For it was of importance that his constancy and moderation should be known by the Philippians, to whom he was a pattern of life. Accordingly he declares, that he had been gratified by their liberality in such a way that he could at the same time endure want with patience. Want refers here to disposition, for that man can never be poor in mind, who is satisfied with the lot which has been assigned to him by God.
In what state I am, says he, that is, “Whatever my condition may be, I am satisfied with it.” Why? because saints know that they thus please God. Hence they do not measure sufficiency by abundance, but by the will of God, which they judge of by what takes place, for they are persuaded that their affairs are regulated by his providence and good pleasure.
Not that I speak in respect of want – I am quite unconcerned in this respect; leaving the whole of my support, while bound for the testimony of Jesus, to the providence of God.
For I have learned – I am so satisfied with the wise providence and goodness of God, that I know whatever he determines is the best; and therefore I am perfectly contented that he should govern the world in that way which seems best to his godly wisdom. How true is the proverb, A contented mind is a continual feast! What do we get by murmuring and complaining?
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
I have learned — The I in Greek is emphatical. I leave it to others if they will, to be discontented. I, for my part, have learned, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, and the dealings of Providence (Heb_5:8), to be content in every state.
content — The Greek, literally expresses “independent of others, and having sufficiency in one’s self.” But Christianity has raised the term above the haughty self-sufficiency of the heathen Stoic to the contentment of the Christian, whose sufficiency is not in self, but in God (2Co_3:5; 1Ti_6:6, 1Ti_6:8; Heb_13:5; compare Jer_2:36; Jer_45:5).
Not that I speak in respect of want – Though Paul was doubtless often in circumstances of necessity, yet he did not make these remarks on that account. In his journeys, in his imprisonments, he could not but be at times in want; but be had learned to bear all this; and that which most impressed itself on his mind was the interest which the church ought to show in the cause of religion, and the evidence which it would thus furnish of attachment to the cause. As to his own personal trials, he had learned to bear them, so that they did not give him great uneasiness.
For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content – That is, to have a contented mind. Paul says that he had “learned” this. Probably by nature he had a mind as prone to impatience as others, but he had been in circumstances fitted to produce a different state of feeling. He had had ample experience 2Co_11:26, and, in his life of trials, he had acquired invaluable lessons on the subject. He had had abundant time for reflection, and he had found that there was grace enough in the gospel to enable him to bear trials with resignation. The considerations by which he had been taught this, he does not state; but they were probably such as the following: that it is wrong to complain at the allotments of Providence; that a spirit of impatience does no good, remedies no evil, and supplies no want; that God could provide for him in a way which he could not foresee, and that the Saviour was able abundantly to sustain him. A contented mind is an invaluable blessing, and is one of the fruits of religion in the soul. It arises from the belief that God is right in all his ways. Why should we be impatient, restless, discontented? What evil will be remedied by it? what want supplied? what calamity removed? “He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast” Pro_15:15; and one of the secrets of happiness is to have a mind satisfied with all the allotments of Providence. The members of the Episcopal church beautifully pray, every day: “Give us minds always contented with our present condition.” No prayer can be offered which will enter more deeply into all our happiness on earth.
12I know both how to be abased There follows here a distinction, with the view of intimating that he has a mind adapted to bear any kind of condition. Prosperity is wont to puff up the mind beyond measure, and adversity, on the other hand, to depress. From both faults he declares himself to be free. I know, says he, to be abased— that is, to endure abasement with patience. Περισσεύειν is made use of twice, but in the former instance it is employed as meaning, to excel; in the second instance as meaning, to abound, so as to correspond with the things to which they are exposed. If a man knows to make use of present abundance in a sober and temperate manner, with thanksgiving, prepared to part with everything whenever it may be the good pleasure of the Lord, giving also a share to his brother, according to the measure of his ability, and is also not puffed up, that man has learned to excel, and to abound. This is a peculiarly excellent and rare virtue, and much superior to the endurance of poverty. Let all who wish to be Christ’s disciples exercise themselves in acquiring this knowledge which was possessed by Paul, but in the mean time let them accustom themselves to the endurance of poverty in such a manner that it will not be grievous and burdensome to them when they come to be deprived of their riches.
I know both how to be abased – To be in circumstances of want.
And I know how to abound – To have an abundance. lie had been in circumstances where he had an ample supply for all his needs, and knew what it was to have enough. It requires as much grace to keep the heart right in prosperity, as it does in adversity, and perhaps more. Adversity, of itself, does something to keep the mind in a right state; prosperity does nothing.
Everywhere and in all things – In all my travels and imprisonments, and in reference to everything that occurs, I learn important lessons on these points.
I am instructed – The word used here – μεμύημαι memuemai – is one that is commonly used in relation to mysteries, and denoted being instructed in the secret doctrines that were taught in the ancient “mysteries” – Passow. In those mysteries, it was only the “initiated” who were made acquainted with the lessons that were taught there. Paul says that he had been initiated into the lessons taught by trials and by prosperity. The secret and important lessons which these schools of adversity are fitted to teach, he had had an ample opportunity of learning; and he had faithfully embraced the doctrines thus taught.
Both to be full – That is, he had learned to have an ample supply of his needs, and yet to observe the laws of temperance and soberness, and to cherish gratitude for the mercies which he had enjoyed.
And to be hungry – That is, to be in circumstances of want, and yet not to murmur or complain. He had learned to bear all this without discontent. This was then, as it is now, no easy lesson to learn; and it is not improper to suppose that, when Paul says that he had “been instructed” in this, even he means to say that it was only by degrees that he had acquired it. It is a lesson which we slowly learn, not to complain at the allotments of Providence; not to be envious at the prosperity of others; not to repine when our comforts are removed. There may be another idea suggested here. The condition of Paul was not always the same. He passed through great reverses. At one time he had abundance; then he was reduced to want; now he was in a state which might be regarded as affluent; then he was brought down to extreme poverty. Yesterday, he was poor and hungry; today, all his necessities are supplied.
Now, it is in these sudden reverses that grace is most needed, and in these rapid changes of life that it is most difficult to learn the lessons of calm contentment. People get accustomed to an even tenor of life, no matter what it is, and learn to shape their temper and their calculations according to it. But these lessons of philosophy vanish when they pass suddenly from one extreme to another, and find their condition in life suddenly changed. The garment that was adapted to weather of an uniform temperature, whether of heat or cold, fails to be suited to our needs when these transitions rapidly succeed each other. Such changes are constantly occurring in life. God tries his people, not by a steady course of prosperity, or by long-continued and uniform adversity, but by transition from the one to the other; and it often happens that the grace which would have been sufficient for either continued prosperity or adversity, would fail in the transition from the one to the other.
Hence, new grace is imparted for this new form of trial, and new traits of Christian character are developed in these rapid transitions in life, as some of the most beautiful exhibitions of the laws of matter are brought out in the transitions produced in chemistry. The rapid changes from heat to cold, or from a solid to a gaseous state, develop properties before unknown, and acquaint us much more intimately with the wonderful works of God. The gold or the diamond, unsubjected to the action of intense heat, and to the changes produced by the powerful agents brought to bear on them, might have continued to shine with steady beauty and brilliancy; but we should never have witnessed the special beauty and brilliancy which may be produced in rapid chemical changes. And so there is many a beautiful trait of character which would never have been known by either continued prosperity or adversity. There might have been always a beautiful exhibition of virtue and piety, but not tidal special manifestation which is produced in the transitions from the one to the other.
13I can do all things through ChristAs he had boasted of things that were very great, in order that this might not be attributed to pride or furnish others with occasion of foolish boasting, he adds, that it is by Christ that he is endowed with this fortitude. “I can do all things,” says he, “but it is in Christ, not by my own power, for it is Christ that supplies me with strength.” Hence we infer, that Christ will not be less strong and invincible in us also, if, conscious of our own weakness, we place reliance upon his power alone. When he says all things, he means merely those things which belong to his calling.
I can do all things – From the experience which Paul had in these various circumstances of life, he comes here to the general conclusion that he could “do all things.” He could bear any trial, perform any duty, subdue any evil propensity of his nature, and meet all the temptations incident to any condition of prosperity or adversity. His own experience in the various changes of life had warranted him in arriving at this conclusion; and he now expresses the firm confidence that nothing would be required of him which he would not be able to perform. In Paul, this declaration was not a vain self-reliance, nor was it the mere result of his former experience. He knew well where the strength was to be obtained by which to do all things, and on that arm that was able to uphold him he confidently relied.
Through Christ which strengtheneth me – See the notes at Joh_15:5. Of the strength which Christ can impart, Paul had had abundant experience; and now his whole reliance was there. It was not in any native ability which he had; not in any vigor of body or of mind; not in any power which there was in his own resolutions; it was in the strength that he derived from the Redeemer. By that he was enabled to bear cold, fatigue, and hunger; by that, he met temptations and persecutions; and by that, he engaged in the performance of his arduous duties let us learn, hence:
(1) that we need not sink under any trial, for there is one who can strengthen us.
(2) that we need not yield to temptation. There is one who is able to make a way for our escape.
(3) that we need not be harassed, and vexed, and tortured with improper thoughts and unholy desires. There is one who can enable us to banish such thoughts from the mind, and restore the right balance to the affections of the soul.
(4) that we need not dread what is to come. Trials, temptations, poverty, want, persecution, may await us; but we need not sink into despondency. At every step of life, Christ is able to strengthen us, and can bring us triumphantly through. What a privilege it is, therefore, to be a Christian – to feel, in the trials of life, that we have one friend, unchanging and most mighty, who can always help us! How cheerfully should we engage in our duties, and meet the trials that are before us, leaning on the arm of our Almighty Redeemer! Let us not shrink from duty; let us not dread persecution let us not fear the bed of death. In all circumstances, Christ, our unchanging Friend, can uphold us. Let the eye and the affections of the heart be fixed on him; let the simple, fervent, believing prayer be directed always to him when trials come, when temptations assail, when duty presses hard upon us, and when a crowd of unholy and forbidden thoughts rush into the soul: and we shall be safe.
I can do all things (panta ischuo). Old verb to have strength (ischus).
In him that strengtheneth me (en toi endunamounti me). Late and rare verb (in lxx) from adjective endunamos (en, dunamis). Causative verb to empower, to pour power into one. See same phrase in 1Ti_1:12 toi endunamosanti me (aorist tense here). Paul has such strength so long as Jesus keeps on putting power (dunamis) into him.
15And ye know I understand this to have been added by way of excuse, inasmuch as he often received something from them, for if the other Churches had discharged their duty, it might have seemed as though he were too eager to receive. Hence in clearing himself he praises them, and in praising them he modestly excuses others. We must also, after Paul’s example, take heed lest the pious, on seeing us too much inclined to receive from others, should on good grounds reckon us to be insatiable.
You also know, says he. “I do not require to call in other witnesses, for ye yourselves also know.” For it frequently happens, that when one thinks that others are deficient in duty, he is the more liberal in giving assistance. Thus the liberality of some escapes the notice of others.
In the matter of giving and receivingHe alludes to pecuniary matters, in which there are two parts, the one receiving, the other expending. It is necessary that these should be brought to an equality by mutual compensation. There was an account of this nature carried on between Paul and the Churches. While Paul administered the gospel to them, there was an obligation devolving upon them in return for supplying what was necessary for the support of his life, as he says elsewhere, If we dispense to you spiritual thinqs, is it a great matter if you give in return carnal things? (1Co_9:11.)
Hence, if the other churches had relieved Paul’s necessities, they would have been giving nothing gratuitously, but would have been simply paying their debt, for they ought to have acknowledged themselves indebted to him for the gospel. This, however, he acknowledges, had not been the case, inasmuch as they had not laid out anything on his account. What base ingratitude, and how very unseemly, to treat such an Apostle with neglect, to whom they knew themselves to be under obligation beyond their power to discharge! On the other hand, how great the forbearance of this holy man, to bear with their inhumanity with so much gentleness and indulgence, as not to make use of one sharp word by way of accusing them!
In the beginning of the gospel – “At the time when I first preached the gospel to you; or when the gospel began its benign influence on your hearts.”
When I departed from Macedonia – See Act_17:14. The last place that Paul visited in Macedonia, at that time, was Berea. There a tumult was excited by the Jews, and it was necessary for him to go away. He left Macedonia to go to Athens; and left it in haste, amidst scenes of persecution, and when he needed sympathizing aid. At that time, as well as when he was in Thessalonica Act_17:1-10, he needed the assistance of others to supply his wants; and he says that aid was not withheld. The meaning here is, that this aid was sent to him “as he was departing from Macedonia;” that is, alike in Thessalonica and afterward. This was about twelve years before this Epistle was written – Doddridge.
No church communicated with me – No church so participated with me in my sufferings and necessities, as to send to my relief; compare 2Co_11:8-9. Why they did not, Paul does not intimate. it is not necessary to suppose that he meant to blame them. They might not have been acquainted with his necessities. All that is implied here is, that he specially commends the Philippians for their attention to him.
In the beginning of the gospel (en archei tou euaggeliou). After he had wrought in Philippi (2Th_2:13).
Had fellowship (eKoinéonesen). “Had partnership” (first aorist active indicative).
In the matter (eis logon). “As to an account.” No other church opened an account with Paul.
Of giving and receiving (doseos kai lempseos). Credit and debit. A mercantile metaphor repeated in Phi_4:17 by eis logon humon (to your account). Paul had to keep books then with no other church, though later Thessalonica and Beroea joined Philippi in support of Paul’s work in Corinth (2Co_11:8.).
But ye only (ei me humeis monoi). Not even Antioch contributed anything but good wishes and prayers for Paul’s work (Act_13:1-3).
For even in Thessalonica – While labouring to plant the Church there, he was supported partly by working with his hands, 1Th_2:9; 2Th_3:7-9; and partly by the contributions sent him from Philippi. Even the Thessalonians had contributed little to his maintenance: this is not spoken to their credit.
For even in Thessalonica; – see the notes, Act_17:1. Paul remained there long enough to establish a flourishing church. He met, indeed, with much opposition and persecution there; and, hence, it was necessary that his wants should be supplied by others.
17.Not that I demand a gift.Again he repels an unfavourable opinion that might be formed of immoderate cupidity, that they might not suppose that it was an indirect hint, as if they ought singly to stand in the room of all, and as if he abused their kindness. He accordingly declares, that he consulted not so much his own advantage as theirs. “While I receive from you,” says he, “there is proportionably much advantage that redounds to yourselves; for there are just so many articles that you may reckon to have been transferred to the table of accounts.” The meaning of this word is connected with the similitude formerly employed of exchange or compensation in pecuniary matters.
Not because I desire a gift – “The reason why I rejoice in the reception of what you have sent to me, is not that I am covetous.” From the interest with which he had spoken of their attention to him, some might perhaps be disposed to say, that it arose from this cause. He says, therefore, that, grateful as he was for the favor which he had received, his chief interest in it arose from the fact that it would contribute ultimately to their own good. It showed that they were governed by Christian principle, and this would not fall to be rewarded. What Paul states here is by no means impossible; though it may not be very common. In the reception of layouts from others, it is practicable to rejoice in them mainly, because their bestowment will be a means of good to the benefactor himself. All our selfish feelings and gratifications may be absorbed and lost in the superior joy which we have in seeing others actuated by a right spirit, and in the belief that they will be rewarded. This feeling is one of the fruits of Christian kindness. It is that which leads us to look away from self, and to rejoice in every evidence that others will be made happy.
I desire fruit – The word “fruit” is often used in the Scriptures, as elsewhere, to denote results, or that which is produced. Thus, we speak of punishment as the fruit of sin, poverty as the fruit of idleness, and happiness as the fruit of a virtuous life. The language is taken from the fact, that a man reaps or gathers the fruit or result of that which he plants.
To your account – A phrase taken from commercial dealings. The apostle wished that it might be set down to their credit. He desired that when they came to appear before God, they might reap the benefit of all the acts of kindness which they had shown him.
18I have received all things, and abound He declares in more explicit terms, that he has what is sufficient, and honors their liberality with a remarkable testimony, by saying, that he has been filled. It was undoubtedly a moderate sum that they had sent, but he says, that by means of that moderate sum he is filled to satiety. It is, however, a more distinguished commendation that he bestows upon the gift in what follows, when he calls it a sacrifice acceptable, and presented as the odour of a good fragrance For what better thing can be desired than that our acts of kindness should be sacred offerings, which God receives from our hands, and takes pleasure in their sweet odour? For the same reason Christ says, Whatsoever ye shall have done unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me.
The similitude of sacrifices, however, adds much emphasis, by which we are taught, that the exercise of love which God enjoins upon us, is not merely a benefit conferred upon man, but is also a spiritual and sacred service which is performed to God, as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that he is well pleased with such sacrifices. (Heb_13:16.) Alas for our indolence! — which appears in this, that while God invites us with so much kindness to the honor of priesthood, and even puts sacrifices in our hands, we nevertheless do not sacrifice to him, and those things which were set apart for sacred oblations we not only lay out for profane uses, but squander them wickedly upon the most polluted contaminations. For the altars, on which sacrifices from our resources ought to be presented, are the poor, and the servants of Christ. To the neglect of these some squander their resources on every kind of luxury, others upon the palate, others upon immodest attire, others upon magnificent dwellings.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
But — Though “the gift” is not what I chiefly “seek after” (Phi_4:17), yet I am grateful for the gift, and hereby acknowledge it as ample for all my needs. Translate, “I have all” that I want, “and more than enough.” Literally, as English Version, “I abound” over and above my needs.
I am full — Greek, “I am filled full.”
the odour of a sweet smell — (See on Eph_5:2). The figure is drawn from the sweet-smelling incense which was burnt along with the sacrifices; their gift being in faith was not so much to Paul, as to God (Mat_25:40), before whom it “came up for a memorial” (Act_10:4), sweet-smelling in God’s presence (Gen_8:21; Rev_8:3, Rev_8:4).
sacrifice acceptable — (Heb_13:16).
But I have all – Margin, “or, have received.” The phrase here is equivalent to, “I have received everything. I have all I want, and desire no more.” He was entirely satisfied. What they had sent to him is, of course, now unknown. It is sufficient to know, that it was of such a nature as to make his situation comfortable.
I am full – I have enough, This is a strong expression, denoting that nothing was lacking.
Having received of Epaphroditus – see the notes at Phi_2:25.
An odour of a sweet smell – This does not mean that it was such an odor to Paul, but to God. He regarded it as an offering which they had made to God himself; and he was persuaded that he would regard it as acceptable to him. They had doubtless made the offering, not merely from personal friendship for Paul, but because he was a minister of Christ, and from love for his cause; and Paul felt assured that this offering would be acceptable to him; compare Mat_10:41-42. The word “odor” refers properly to the pleasant fragrance produced in the temple by the burning of incense; notes on Luk_1:9. On the meaning of the word rendered “a sweet smell,” – ευωδία euodia – see the notes at 2Co_2:15. The whole language here is taken from an act of worship; and the apostle regarded what he had received from the Philippians as in fact a thank-offering to God, and a presented with the spirit of true devotion to him. It was not, indeed, a formal act of worship; but it was acceptable to God as an expression of their regard for his cause.
A sacrifice acceptable – Acceptable to God; compare Heb_13:16; notes, Rom_12:1.
Well-pleasing to God – Because it evinced a regard for true religion. Hence, learn:
(1) that kindness done to the ministers of the gospel is regarded as an acceptable offering to God.
(2) that kindness to the servants of God in distress and want, is as well-pleasing to God as direct acts of worship.
(3) that such acts of benevolence are evidences of attachment to the cause of religion, and are proofs of genuine piety; notes, Mat_10:42.
I have all things (apecho panta). As a receipt in full in appreciation of their kindness. Apecho is common in the papyri and the ostraca for “receipt in full” (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 110). See Mat_6:2, Mat_6:5, Mat_6:16.
I am filled (pepleromai). Perfect passive indicative of pleroo. “Classical Greek would hardly use the word in this personal sense” (Kennedy).
An odour of a sweet smell (osmen euodias). Osme, old word from ozo, to smell. Euodia, old word from eu and ozo. In Eph_5:2 both words come together as here and in 2Co_2:15 we have euodia (only other N.T. example) and in verse 2Co_2:16 osme twice. Euodias here is genitive of quality.
Sacrifice (thusian). Not the act, but the offering as in Rom_12:1.
Well-pleasing (euareston). As in Rom_12:1.
19My God will supply Some read impleat— in the optative— May he supply. While I do not reject this reading, I approve more of the other. He expressly makes mention of God as his, because he owns and acknowledges as done to himself whatever kindness is shewn to his servants. They had therefore been truly sowing in the Lord’s field, from which a sure and abundant harvest might be expected. Nor does he promise them merely a reward in the future life, but even in respect of the necessities of the present life: “Do not think that you have impoverished yourselves; God, whom I serve, will abundantly furnish you with everything necessary for you.” The phrase, in glory, ought to be taken in place of the adverb gloriously, as meaning magnificently, or splendidly. He adds, however, by Christ, in whose name everything that we do is acceptable to God.
But my God shall supply all your need – That is, “You have shown your regard for me as a friend of God, by sending to me in my distress, and I have confidence that, in return for all this, God will supply all your needs, when you are in circumstances of necessity.” Paul’s confidence in this seems not to have been founded on any express revelation; but on the general principle that God would regard their offering with favor. Nothing is lost, even in the present life, by doing good. In thousands of instances it is abundantly repaid. The benevolent are not usually poor; and if they are, God often raises up for them benefactions, and sends supplies in a manner as unexpected, and hearing proofs of divine interposition as decided, as when supplies were sent by the ravens to the prophet.
According to his riches in glory – see the notes, Eph_3:16. The word “riches” here means, His abundant fullness; His possessing all things; His inexhaustible ability to supply their needs. The phrase “in glory,” is probably to he connected with the following phrase, “in Christ Jesus;” and means that the method of imparting supplies to people was through Jesus Christ, and was a glorious method; or, that it was done in a glorious manner. It is such an expression as Paul is accustomed to use, when speaking of what God does. He is not satisfied with saying simply that it is so; but connects with it the idea that whatever God does is done in a way worthy of himself, and so as to illustrate his own perfections.
In Christ Jesus – By the medium of Christ; or through him. All the favors that Paul expected for himself, or his fellow-men, he believed would be conferred through the Redeemer. Even the supply of our temporal needs comes to us through the Saviour. Were it not for the atonement, there is no more reason to suppose that blessings would be conferred upon people than that they would be on fallen angels. For them no atonement has been made; and at the hand of justice they have received only wretchedness and woe.