If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,…
I. THE MANNER OF THE APOSTLE'S EXHORTATION. He exhorteth them to be like minded, having their affections (Romans 12:16), likings, and desires so set on the same things as to fulfil his joy. "I joy in your fellowship in the gospel," etc. (chap. Philippians 1:5-7), yet my joy is not full so long as I hear of your contentions.
1. "If there be any consolation in Christ."(1) In general the apostle's vehement obtestation for the embracing of concord, love, and humility, is to be noted. Pastors ought to labour to repress such enormities among their people as hinder the course of Christian conversation by beseeching as though they desired no other recompense than that such disorders might be reformed. They are fathers to their flocks (1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 John 2:1). Sometimes, however, sternness must be used. Paul did not deal with the Galatians as with the Philippians, nor with some of the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 4:21).
(2) In particular, the ground of his argument is, that if they had received comfort in Christ by him, then they ought at his request thus to comfort him, as to be like minded, etc.
2. "If there be any comfort of love." The ground of which argument is that if they loved him as he loved them, and desired his comfort as he did theirs, then they would fulfil his joy. To yield to the holy desires of one another is an effectual token of Christian love towards one another (John 14:15; Philemon 1:17). Men are ready enough to yield to wicked enticings (Proverbs 1:10-12).
3. "If there be any fellowship of the Spirit," i.e., "if ye be knit together in the bond of one Spirit, and have fellowship as members of one body, under one head, fulfil ye my joy." The ground of this argument is, that men knit together are to give proof thereof by concord. What proof of this many give, let their contentions and divisions witness.
4. "If any compassion and mercy." The ground of which argument is that in mercy and compassion to him, the Lord's prisoner for their sake, they should fulfil his joy in being like minded. The godly requests of God's saints afflicted for Christ's sake should move in us such compassion as that we should gladly hearken and yield to them.
II. THE MATTER. Observe —
1. The godly pastor's joy is to be in his people, whatever his own case may be.
2. That that joy is not full as long as there is anything amiss amongst his people.
3. That he should be admonished to labour that nothing be amiss either touching doctrine or practice, so that his joy may be full. That there was something amiss here is proved by the exhortation; whence learn —
(1) That, what the state of the best churches, so of the most holy men is.
(2) To long to be of that triumphant Church, and to enter the holiest. Here Abraham, David, Job, Paul, Peter, have their faults.There they are perfected.
1. He exhorteth them to be "like minded" (Romans 12:16), having their affections, likings, desires, set on the same things (1 Corinthians 1:10; Romans 15:5). Are not Jews, Turks, Pharisees, etc., like minded? The necessity of this is seen —
(1) From the fact that we have "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," etc. (Ephesians 4:5).
(2) Because there is no better remedy against dissensions (John 17:21; Philippians 3:16). Let us, therefore, beware how we dissent about matters of less moment when we are agreed in greater.
2. "Having the same love." This is how we may be like minded. Love —
(1) In respect of the object. Love the same Church, gospel, truth. Where one loves one thing, and another another, distractions and desolations ensue.
(2) In respect of fervour.
3. "One accord" — agreeing in our wills that unity and concord may be maintained" (Psalm 7:18; 133:1; Acts 4:32).
4. "One mind," or judgment.
(H. Airay, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,