Philippians 1
Pulpit Commentary
Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Verse 1. - Paul and Timotheus. St. Paul does not assume his official title in writing to the Macedonian Churches, Philippi and Thessalonica; it is used in all his other Epistles, except the short letter to Philemon. His relations to the Philippians and Thessalonians were those of the deepest personal affection; there was no need of a formal introduction, especially in an Epistle which has so little of an official character as this to the Philippians. He joins the name of Timothy with his own, as in 2 Corinthians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Thus Timothy is associated with St. Paul in every Epistle in which another name is found except 1 Corinthians, where Sosthenes only is mentioned; this shows the intimate affection that bound St. Paul to his "own son in the faith." There was a special reason for mentioning Timothy in this Epistle, as he was so well known to the Philippians, and St. Paul was intending (Philippians 2:19) to send him shortly to Philippi. But St. Paul writes in his own name from the beginning. Timothy was not in any sense a joint author; he may possibly have been St. Paul's amanuensis, as Tertius was in the case of the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:22). Possibly also motives of humility led St. Paul to insert other names besides his own; but it was not to support his teaching by additional authority - he was "an apostle, not of man, neither by man," and needed not the weight of other names. The servants of Jesus Christ; slaves, literally: "made free from sin and become servants [slaves] to God," whose service is perfect freedom. We belong to him: he he is our Master (κύριος δεσπότης) as well as Father, we are his slaves as well as his sons: "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price." Compare the words of the "damsel possessed with a spirit of divination" at Philippi: "These men are the servants [slaves] of the most high God." She felt the difference between her state and theirs; she was the slave of her Philip-plan masters, of the evil spirit too; St. Paul and his companion were the slaves of God most high. In the best manuscripts, as in the R.V., "Christ" is put before "Jesus" here. The apostle frequently sets the official before the personal name of our Lord; possibly because he knew not the Lord Jesus after the flesh, but saw him first as the Messiah, the Christ of God. To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi. The word "all" is of very frequent occurrence in this Epistle. There may possibly be a reference to the dissensions alluded to in ch. 4:2; or, as some think, to the supplies sent for St. Paul's assistance; he addresses all alike, not only those who contributed; he does not recognize their divisions. But it is, perhaps, only the natural expression of his warm affection: the apostle was beloved by all the Philippians, and all were dear to him; there was no hostile faction there, as at Corinth and else where. Compare the affectionate repetition, "always," "every," "all," in Ver. 4. St. Paul uses the word "saint" as the general name for his converts, like "Christian." The word "Christian" occurs only three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Christ's people are called "brethren," "disciples," or "saints." Thus St. Paul addresses the Corinthians generally as "saints," though many of them were far from possessing holiness of heart and life. The ancient Church was holy; the Israelites are called "a holy nation," "saints of the Most High." They were holy by God's election, his chosen people, separated unto him by the rite of circumcision. By the same election the Christian Church is holy, dedicated to God in baptism. This holiness of dedication (comp. 1 Corinthians 7:14) does not necessarily involve the actual existence of that inner holiness of heart "without which no man shall see the Lord." But it does imply the bounden duty of striving after that spiritual holiness. "Ye are the temple of the living God," St. Paul says to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 6:16). "for God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people... therefore... let us cleanse ourselves from el! filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." The Greek word ἅγιος (in our translation sometimes "holy," sometimes "saint") is the usual rendering for the Hebrew קָדושׁ. The primary idea of the Hebrew word seems to be that of separation - separation from all that defileth. God is "of purer eyes than to behold evil;" those who are dedicated to him must strive by his grace to purify themselves even as he is pure. "Be ye holy, for I am holy." In Christ Jesus. They are saints in virtue of their relation to Christ. They were once" baptized into one body" - the mystical body of Christ. Holiness of dedication can issue in holiness of heart and life only by abiding in him (comp. John 15:4-6). All saints are one body in Christ; they are knit together into one communion and fellowship by their personal union with the one Lord. With the bishops and deacons. In the New Testament the word ἐπίσκοπος is synonymous with πρεσβύτερος (comp. Acts 20:17; 1 Peter 5:1, 2; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Titus 1:5-7). St. Paul is addressing the elders of the Church at Philippi, not bishops in our sense of the word. It is possible that Epaphroditus may have been the presiding bishop of the Church (see notes on Philippians 2:25 and Philippians 4:3). If so, we see a reason why the second and third orders of the ministry only are mentioned, as Epaphroditus was the bearer of the Epistle. But diocesan episcopacy does not seem to have become general till the last quarter of the first century. We know that Paul and Barnabas "ordained elders in every Church" in their first missionary journey; we need not, therefore, be surprised at the mention of these official designations in this Epistle, which was written seventeen or eighteen years later. St. Paul's address to the elders of the Church at Ephesus shows the importance which he attached to the office and to the faithful performance of its duties. Perhaps "the bishops and deacons" are specially mentioned here as having collected. the contributions sent to St. Paul; so Chrysostom and Meyer. On the whole subject, see Bishop Lightfoot's exhaustive 'Dissertation on the Christian Ministry,' in his volume on the Epistle to the Philippians.
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 2. - Grace be unto you, and peace. This combination of the Greek and Hebrew salutations is the common form in St. Paul's earlier Epistles; in the pastoral Epistles "mercy" is added. Grace is the favor of God, free and sovereign, which rests on the faithful Christian, and brings the gift of peace; which is, first, reconciliation with God and, secondly, the childlike confidence and trustful hope which result from faith in Christ's atonement. From God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. God the Father is the first Author of our salvation; God the Son, the Word made flesh, brought the message of peace from heaven, and reconciled us to God.
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
Verse 3. - I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. All St. Paul's Epistles, except those to the Galatiaus, 1 Timothy, and Titus, begin with a thanksgiving. In this Epistle the thanksgiving is especially warm and earnest; no cloud of doubt darkened the apostle's confidence in the Philippians; he pours forth his gratitude to God for their spiritual gifts fervently and without reserve. My God. The pronoun expresses the inner consciousness of personal relations with God; it reminds us of Acts 27:23, "God, whose I am, and whom I serve." Upon all my remembrance of you (as R.V.) is the more exact rendering. The remembrance (not mention)was continuous; he "had them in his heart," and that unbroken remembrance resulted in unbroken thanksgiving.
Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
Verse 4. - Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy. Perhaps the first part of this verse is better joined with Ver. 3, "I thank my God... always in every prayer of mine for you all;" so Bishop Lightfoot The Greek word for "prayer" and "request "is the same, better rendered "my supplication," he as the R.V.; it implies not merely a lifting up of the heart to God, but an earnest entreaty for a necessary gift. We meet now for the first time with that "joy" which is the keynote of this Epistle. "Summa epistolae, Gaudeo; gaudete;" so Bengel, who continues, "This Epistle of joy well follows that to the Ephesians, where love reigns. 'The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy.' Joy gives life to prayer."
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
Verse 5. - For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; rather, as R.V., for your fellowship in furtherance of the gospel. This verse should be taken in connection with Ver. 3. St. Paul thanks God for their help, their co-operation towards the work of the gospel. They helped forward the work by their prayers, their labors, and their liberal bounty. This fellowship began "in the beginning of the gospel," when the Philippians sent aid to the apostle at Thessalonica and Corinth; it continued "until now" ten years; they had just sent their alms to St. Paul at Rome by phroditus (Philippians 4:10).
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Verse 6. - Being confident of this very thing. St. Paul's thanksgiving refers, not only to the past, but also to the future. He has a confident trustfulness in God's power and love. The words αὐτὸ τοῦτο might mean "on this account," i.e. on account of the perseverance described in Ver. 5, but the order seems to support the ordinary rendering. That he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it; rather, as R.V., which began. Both ἐναρξάμενος and ἐπιτελέσει have (Bishop Lightfoot) a sacrificial reference. The good work is self-consecration, the sacrifice of themselves, their souls and bodies, issuing in the co-operation of labor and almsgiving. This sacrificial metaphor recurs in Philippians 2:17. The good work is God's; he began it and he will perfect it. The beginning (Bengel) is the pledge of the consummation. Yet it is also their work - their co-operation towards the gospel (comp. Philippians 2:12, 13). Until the day of Jesus Christ. The perfecting will go on until the great day. To the individual Christian that clay is practically the day of his death; though, indeed, the process of perfecting may be going on in the holy dead till they obtain their perfect consummation and bliss both in body and soul. These words do not imply that St. Paul expected the second advent during the life of his Philippian converts. The words "in you" must be understood as meaning "in your hearts," not merely "among you."
Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
Verse 7. - Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all. It is meet; rather, just, right. To think this; to entertain this confidence concerning you. Because I have you in my heart; or, because you have me in your heart. But the order of the words, and ver. 8, make the first rendering the more probable. His love for them increases his confidence. Inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel. These words may be taken with the preceding, "I have you in my heart during my imprisonment and defense." So Chrysostom, whose words are very striking: Οὕτω γάρ ἐστι τυραννικὸν ὁ ἔρως ὁ πνευματικὸς ὡς μηδενὶ παραχωρεῖν καιρῷ. But it is, perhaps, more natural to take them with the following. Ye all are partakers of my grace; rather, ye all are partakers with me of the grace. They were partakers of the grace of God given to him in his bonds and in his work. The like grace was given to them both for the passive and active sides of the Christian life - both in endurance of suffering and in propagating the gospel. Thus there seems to be no reference in the words "defense and confirmation" to his public defense before Caesar (which probably had not yet taken place), but generally to his work of preaching the gospel, which was both apologetic, meeting the objections of adversaries, and aggressive, asserting the truth.
For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
Verse 8. - For God is my record - rather, witness (comp. Romans 1:9) - how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. The word σπλάγχνα, here rendered "bowels," means the heart, liver, etc.. he not the entrails. The expression is remarkable, and is well illustrated by Bengel's striking words, "Paulus non in Pauli, sed Jesu Christi movetur visceribus." "Not I, but Christ liveth in me." He is so united with Christ that he feels with the heart of Christ, he loves with the love of Christ.
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
Verse 9. - And this I pray. This is the purport of the prayer already mentioned in Ver. 4. The conjunction ἵνα marks the end of St. Paul's prayer, and so its purport. That your love may abound yet more and more. Your love; not love for the apostle only, but the grace of Christian charity. St. Paul finds no fault with the Philippians, but "ignis in apostolo nunquam dicit, Sufficit" (Bengel). He prays for their continued growth in love, but not unintelligent love. In knowledge and in all judgment. Ἐπίγνωσις is a stronger word than γνῶσις: it means full, complete knowledge. The Greek αἴσθησις (literally, sense) occurs only here in the New Testament, though αἰσθητήρια (organs of sense) is found in Hebrews 5:14. "Discernment," the rendering of R.V., is more correct than "judgment." It is, Bishop Wordsworth says, "that delicate tact and instinct, which almost intuitively perceives what is right, and almost unconsciously shrinks from what is wrong." It cannot exist without love. "Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." With love there comes a spiritual sense, spiritual sight, spiritual hearing, a sense of the beauty of holiness, a fine perception of Christian propriety; ἡ ἀγάπη οὐκ ἀσχημονεῖ.
That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
Verse 10. - That ye may approve things that are excellent. Love, issuing in spiritual discernment, would enable them to recognize, to test, to prove things that are excellent; so Bengel," Non modo prae malts bona, seal in bonds optima." This seems better than the alternative rendering, "to prove the things that differ" (comp. Romans 2:18). That ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ. Αἰλικρινής according to the common derivation (from εἵλη, sunlight, and κρίνω), means "judged in the full light of the sun," that is, pure, true; comp. John 2:21, "He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." According to another possible derivation, the word would mean "unmixed," that is, genuine, sincere. "Without offense" may be taken actively or passively; without giving offense (causing stumbling) to others, or without stumbling themselves. Perhaps the latter sense is more suitable here. He prays that the Philippians may be true and pure inwardly, and blameless in their outward lives. "Till," rather, "against the day of Christ." The preposition εἰς does not denote time only, as ἄχρις in Ver. 6; it implies preparation.
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
Verse 11. - Being filled with the fruits of righteousness. The best manuscripts read "fruit." He prays that their love may abound, not only in knowledge and discernment, but also in the fruit of holy living. The fruit of righteousness is sanctification, which springs from justification, and manifests itself in holy living (comp. Amos 6:12; Galatians 5:22). Which are by Jesus Christ; rather, through. The righteousness of God's saints is not that" which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ" (comp. John 15:4). The branch lives by the life of the vine; the Christian lives by the life of Christ. It is his life, living in, assimilated by the Christian soul, which brings forth the fruit of righteousness. Unto the glory and praise of God. The righteousness of God's saints, springing from the abiding presence of Christ, shows forth the glory of God. The glory of God is his majesty in itself; praise is the acknowledgment of this majesty by the voice and heart of man. The glory of God is the end of all Christian effort.
But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
Verse 12. - But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel. After thanksgiving and prayer, St. Paul turns to his own imprisonment at Rome. That imprisonment, he says, has resulted in the furtherance of the gospel, rather than, as might have been expected, in its hindrance.
So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
Verse 13. - So that my bonds in Christ are manifest; rather, as R.V., so that my bonds became manifest in Christ. At first he seemed like ether prisoners; afterwards it became known that he suffered bonds, not for any crime, but in Christ, i.e. in fellowship with Christ and in consequence of the relation in which he stood to Christ. In all the palace; rather, as R.V., throughout the whole Praetorian Guard; literally, in the whole praetorium, The word elsewhere means a governor's house: Pilate's house in the Gospels, Herod's palace in Acts 23:35. But at Rome the name so used would give unnecessary offense, and there is no proof that it was ever used for the palatium there. St. Paul must have heard it constantly as the name of the Praetorian regiment; he was kept chained to a soldier of that corps (Acts 28:16); and as his guard was continually relieved, his name and sufferings for Christ would become gradually known throughout the force. Others, on the authority of a passage in Dion Cassius, understand the word of the barracks of that part of the Praetorian guard attached to the imperial residence on the Palatine. But the passage relates to the time of Augustus, before the Praetorian cohorts were established by Tiberius in the camp outside of the Colline Gate. And in all other places; rather, as R.V. and to all the rest; generally, that is, throughout the city.
And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Verse 14. - And many of the brethren in the Lord; rather, and that most. Most of the brethren took courage; there were exceptions. Waxing confident by my bonds. The words, "in the Lord," are perhaps better taken with being "confident." Their confidence rests upon St. Paul's bonds, but it is in the Lord. St. Paul's example gives them courage, because they know that he is suffering for the love of Christ, and is supported in his sufferings by the grace of Christ. Are much more bold to speak the word without fear; better, more abundantly, as R.V. The best manuscripts read here, "the Word of God."
Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
Verse 15. - Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife. The Judaizing party, whom St. Paul censures in Philippians 3:2, preached Christ, but not from pure motives. Like the writers of the pseudo-Clementines, they envied St. Paul, and in the wicked madness of the odium theologicum, they wished to distress St. Paul, to depreciate his preaching, and to exalt their own. And some also of good will. The word generally means God's good pleasure, as in Philippians 2:13, but here simply good will, benevolence towards St. Paul.
The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
Verses 16, 17. - These two verses must change places according to the reading of the best manuscripts. The clauses are inverted by the figure chiasmus. But the other of love; read, as R.V., the one do it of love. This is better than the other possible rendering, "those who are of love do it." Knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. Κεῖμαι. I am set or appointed, as in 1 Thessalonians 2:3; not, as some understand, I lie in prison. They preach Christ out of love - love for Christ, and love for Paul for Christ's sake. The one preach Christ of contention; read and translate, as R.V., but the other proclaim Christ of faction; perhaps rather, announce (καταγγέλλουσιν); bring news of Christ; and that they do out of factious-ness. Ἐριθεία, derived from ἕριθος, a hired servant, means labor for hire, and is commonly used of hired canvassers, in the sense of factiousness, party spirit. It is reckoned by St. Paul in Galatians 5:20 among the works of the flesh, and is condemned also in Romans 2:8. Not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds; rather, as R.V. (reading with the best manuscripts ἐγείρειν), thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. Their motives were not pure; they wished to make St. Paul feel the helplessness of imprisonment, and to increase his affliction by opposing his doctrines, and by forming a party insisting on the observance of the ceremonial law. Bishop Lightfoot translates θλίψιν ἐγείρειν "to make my chains gall me."
But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
Verse 18. - What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; rather, only that, as R.V. (comp. Acts 20:23). What is the result of all this preaching? Only that Christ is announced, that the story of Christ is told. The motives of the preachers may not be good, but the result is good; the gospel facts are made more widely known, not only by those who preach in sincerity, but even by means of those who strive to promote their own party ends under the pretense of preaching Christ. And I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. St. Paul rejoices in the good which God brings out of evil; though that good is produced by the outward agency of his own adversaries. Yea, and I shall rejoice. He will not allow himself to be vexed by the bitterness of his opponents, he will not imitate their party spirit; his joy will continue, for he knows that, in spite of present hindrances, the result is assured.
For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
Verse 19. - For I know that this shall turn to my salvation. Τοῦτο, this, refers to the general preaching of Christ, rather than (as Calvin and others interpret) to the affliction raised up for St. Paul. The opposition of his enemies will stir him up to greater activity and earnestness, and so conduce to his spiritual well-being now and to his salvation hereafter. This he knows, for "all things work together for good to them that love God." Some, as Chrysostom, understand σωτηρία here of present safety or deliverance from prison; but this seems improbable. The words are quoted from Job 13:16, Septuagint Version. Through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. He knows that they pray for him; he humbly believes that those prayers assist him in working out his own salvation. As the prayer ascends, says Bengel, the supply of the Spirit descends; comp. Galatians 2:5, "He that ministereth ['supplieth,' R.V.] to you the Spirit." The Spirit is the supply; the Lord Jesus sends the quickening Spirit from the Father. Others, as Meyer, make the genitive subjective, and interpret "the aid which the Spirit supplies." The Spirit is here called "the Spirit of Jesus Christ" - "proceeding from the Father and the Son." So also Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:9; Acts 16:7 (in the true reading), "the Spirit of Jesus."
According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
Verse 20. - According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed. The Greek word for "earnest expectation," which occurs also in Romans 8:19, means literally, a watching with outstretched head, with the attention concentrated on one object, and turned away from all others. Neither his sufferings nor the opposition of the Judaizers will put him to shame. But that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. After " boldness" (literally, boldness of speech) we should expect the active form, "I shall magnify." St. Paul, in his humility, prefers the pasture, "Christ shall be magnified." Boldness of speech was to be his part, the glory should be Christ's. Whatever the issue might be, whether a life of Christian labor or a martyr's death, it would be well. The apostles were not omniscient, says Bengel, in relation to their own future lot; they lived in faith and hope.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Verse 21. - For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Others, as Calvin, render (not so well), "For to me Christ is gain both in life and in death." The alternative suggested in Ver. 20 leads St. Paul to a short digression on the comparative advantages of life and death; he is content with either. Life is blessed, for it is Christ; comp. Colossians 2:4, "Christ, who is our Life," and Galatians it. 20, "Not I, but Christ liveth in me;" "Quit-quid rive, Christum vivo" (Bengel). The life of Christ lives, breathes, energizes, in the life of his saints. His flesh, his incarnate life is their meat; his blood, the mystery of his atonement, is the drink of their souls. He abideth in them, and they in him. And yet death is gain; the slate of death, not the act of dying, is meant (the infinitive is aorist, τὸ ἀποθανεῖν), for the dead in Christ are at home with the Lord (ἐνδημοῦντες πρὸς τὸν Κύριον) in a far more blessed sense than the saints on earth.
But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
Verse 22. - But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I wot not; or perhaps, as Meyer, "I make not known." St. Paul wavers between his own personal longing for rest in Paradise with Christ, and the thought that the continuance of his life on earth might conduce to the spreading of the gospel. The grammar of the Greek sentence aptly represents the apostle's hesitation. The construction is almost hopelessly confused. Perhaps the interpretation of the R.V. is the simplest: "But if to live in the flesh, - if this is the fruit of my work, then what shall choose I wot not." Thus καρπός is parallel with κέρδος (Ver. 21); τὸ ζῇν ἐν σαρκι is also a gain, a fruit; the genitive is one of apposition; the work itself is the fruit. St. Paul, says Bengel, regards his work as fruit, others seek fruit from their work. Bishop Lightfoot proposes another rendering, "But what if my living in the flesh will bear fruit, etc.? In fact what to choose I know not." Surely, says Bengel, the Christian's lot is excellent; he can hesitate only in the choice of blessings; disappointed he cannot be.
For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
Verse 23. - For I am in a strait betwixt two; rather, but (so the best manuscripts) I am straitened, hemmed in (Bishop Lightfoot) betwixt the two alternatives, life and death, pressing upon me, constraining me on either side. Having a desire to depart; having my desire set towards departing εἰς τὸ ἀναλῦσαι). The word occurs again in 2 Timothy 4:6, Ὁ καιρὸς τῆς ἐμῆς ἀναλύσεως It is used of a ship, to loose from its moorings; or a camp, to break up; comp. 2 Corinthians 5:1, "If our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved (καταλυθῇ)." Probably here the metaphor is taken from tent life; to loosen, to remove the tent, the temporary abode, in the journey to the heavenly city. And to be with Christ. The holy dead are with Christ, they rest from their labors; they live unto God (Luke 20:38); they do not sleep idly without consciousness, for they are described in Holy Scripture as witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) of the race set before living Christians (comp. also 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8 and Acts 7:59). Yet they are elsewhere described as sleeping (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 15); for the rest of the spirits of just men in Paradise is as a sleep compared with the perfect consummation and bliss of God's elect, both in body and soul, in his everlasting glory. Which is far better; read and translate, for it is by much very far better. He piles up comparatives, as if unable to find words capable of expressing the glory of his hope.
Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
Verse 24. - Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. To abide by the flesh (if with some authorities the preposition is omitted), to hold to this human life with all its trials, is more needful for your sake. Meyer quotes Seneca, 'Epist.' 98, "Vitae suae adjici nihil desiderat sua causa, sed eorum, quibus utilis est."
And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
Verse 25. - And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all. Being persuaded of this, that my life is needful for you; or, as others render, "And this I certainly, confidently know." The first translation seems preferable, for St. Paul's assurance does not seem to rest on direct inspiration, but on a calculation of probabilities. The apostles could not always foresee their own future (Acts 20:22). Bishop Lightfoot says, "The same word οϊδα is used Acts 20:25, where he expresses his belief that he shall not see his Asiatic converts again. Viewed as infallible presentiments, the two are hardly reconcilable; for the one assumes, the other negatives, his release. The assurance here recorded was fulfilled (1 Timothy 1:3); while the presentiment there expressed was overruled by events (2 Timothy 1:15, 18; 2 Timothy 4:20)." For your furtherance and joy of faith; for the progress and joy of your faith, that you may continually increase in faith and take delight in it. Joy is the key-note of this Epistle.
That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
Verse 26. - That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again. Glorying or boasting (καύχημα), not rejoicing. Perhaps rather, as Meyer," That the matter in which you have to glory [i.e. the bliss in which you rejoice as Christians] may increase abundantly in Christ Jesus [as the element or sphere of the glorying] in me [as the instrument or cause]."
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
Verse 27. - Only let your conversation be. St. Paul exhorts the Philippians to steadfastness. Only, whatever happens, whether I come or no, πολιτεύεσθε, behave as citizens (comp. Philippians 3:20, Ἡμῶν τὸ πολιτεῦμα and Ephesians 2:19, Συμπολῖται τῶν ἁγίων. The verb also occurs in Acts 23:1, "I have lived (πεπολίτευμαι) in all good conscience towards God." St. Paul was himself a Roman citizen; he was writing from Rome; his presence the re was caused by his having exercised the rights of citizenship in appealing to Caesar. He was writing to a place largely inhabited by Roman citizens (for Philippi was a Roman colony), a place in which he had declared himself to be a Roman (Acts 16:37). The metaphor was natural. Some of you are citizens of Rome, the imperial city; live, all of you, as citizens of the heavenly country, the city of the living God. As it becometh the gospel of Christ; rather, as R.V. margin, behave as citizens worthily of. There is a striking parallel in Polycarp's letter to these same Philippians (sect. 5). Ἑὰν πολιτευσώμεθα ἀξίως αὐτοῦ καὶ συμβασιλεύσομεν αὐτῷ literally, "If we live as citizens worthily of him, we shall also reign with him." That whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit. The metaphor is military, and follows naturally from the thought of citizenship. Philippi was a military colony, its chief magistrates were praetors, στρατηγοί (Acts 16:20), literally, "generals" (comp. Eph. 6:13 and Galatians 5:1). Spirit is the highest part of our immaterial nature, which, when enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God, can rise into communion with God, and discern the truths of the world unseen. In one spirit; because the spirits of believers are knit together into one fellowship by the one Holy Spirit of God abiding in them all. This distinction between spirit and soul occurs again in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The soul is the lower part of our inner being, the seat of the appetites, passions, affections, connected above with the πνεῦμα, below with the σάρξ With one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; with one soul (not mind); i.e. with all the desires and emotions concentrated on one object, all acting together in the one great work; comp. Acts 4:32, "Striving together with one another for the faith," rather than "striving together with the faith." The personification of faith, though approved by high authority, seems forced and improbable. Faith is here used objectively; the faith of the gospel is the doctrine of the gospel, as Galatians 1:23, "The faith which once he destroyed."
And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
Verse 28. - And in nothing terrified by your adversaries; literally, snared, as a frightened horse. Which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation; translate, seeing that it (your courage) is to them an evident token of perdition, but (with the best manuscripts) of your salvation. And that of God. These words are to be taken with "an evident token." The courage of God's saints in the midst of dangers is a proof of his presence and favor, a token of final victory (comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:5).
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Verse 29. - For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. On you it was conferred (ἐχαρίσθη) as a gracious gift, a free spontaneous act of Divine bounty. Faith in Christ is the gift of God, so is "the fellowship of his sufferings." It is not a burden, but a privilege:" In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Verse 30. - Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. These words are best taken with Ver. 27, vers. 28 and 29 being parenthetical. The apostle returns to the military or gladiatorial metaphor of a contest, ἀγών. He had himself been persecuted at Philippi (Acts 16:1 Thessalonians 2:2); now the Philippians heard of his Roman imprisonment, and were themselves suffering similar persecutions.

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