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Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Philippians 1

Introduction

Title. Πρὸς Φιλιππησίους. So אABK2 and many cursives. D2G2 read αρχεται προς Φιλιππησιους (D2, -ηνσιους). L has του αγιου αποστολου Παυλου επιστολη προς Φιλιππησιους; and several other forms of the title appear, all considerably later than that given in the text.

A. ST PAUL’S RESIDENCE AT ROME

(Introduction, Ch. 1)

“ST PAUL arrived in Rome, from Melita, in the spring of A.D. 61, probably early in March. There he spent ‘two full years’ (Acts 28:30), at the close of which, as we have good reason to believe, he was released.

“In the long delay before his trial[7] he was of course in custody; but this was comparatively lenient. He occupied lodgings of his own (Acts 28:16; Acts 28:23; Acts 28:30), probably a storey or flat in one of the lofty houses common in Rome. It is impossible to determine for certain where in the City this lodging was, but it is likely that it was either in or near the great Camp of the Prætorians, or Imperial Guard, outside the Colline Gate, just N.E. of the City[8]. In this abode the Apostle was attached day and night by a light coupling-chain to a Prætorian sentinel, but was as free, apparently, to invite and maintain general intercourse as if he had been merely confined by illness.

“The company actually found in his rooms at different times was very various. His first visitors (indeed they must have been the providers of his lodging) would be the Roman Christians, including all, or many, of the saints named in a passage (Romans 16) written only a very few years before. Then came the representatives of the Jewish community (Acts 28:17; Acts 28:23), but apparently never to return, as such, after the long day of discussion to which they were first invited. Then from time to time would come Christian brethren, envoys from distant Churches, or personal friends; Epaphroditus from Philippi, Aristarchus from Thessalonica, Tychicus from Ephesus, Epaphras from Colossæ, John Mark, Demas, Jesus Justus. Luke, the beloved physician, was present perhaps always, and Timotheus, the Apostle’s spiritual son, very frequently. One other memorable name occurs, Onesimus, the fugitive Colossian slave, whose story, indicated in the Epistle to Philemon, is at once a striking evidence of the perfect liberty of access to the prisoner granted to anyone and everyone, and a beautiful illustration both of the character of St Paul and the transfiguring power and righteous principles of the Gospel.

“No doubt the visitors to this obscure but holy lodging were far more miscellaneous than even this list suggests. Through the successive Prætorian sentinels some knowledge of the character and message of the prisoner would be always passing out. The right interpretation of Philippians 1:13[9] is, beyond reasonable doubt, that the true account of Paul’s imprisonment came to be ‘known in the Prætorian regiments, and generally among people around’; and Philippians 4:22 indicates that a body of earnest and affectionate converts had arisen among the population of slaves and freedmen attached to the Palace of Nero. And the wording of that passage suggests that such Christians found a welcome meeting place in the rooms of the Apostle; doubtless for frequent worship, doubtless also for direct instruction, and for the blessed enjoyments of the family affection of the Gospel. Meanwhile (Philippians 1:15-16) there was a section of the Roman Christian community, probably the disciples infected with the prejudices of the Pharisaic party (see Acts 15, &c.), who, with very few exceptions (see Colossians 4:11 and notes), took sooner or later a position of trying antagonism to St Paul; a trial over which he triumphed in the deep peace of Christ.

“It is an interesting possibility, not to say probability, that from time to time the lodging was visited by inquirers of intellectual fame or distinguished rank. Ancient Christian tradition[10] actually makes the renowned Stoic writer, L. Annæus Seneca, tutor and counsellor of Nero, a convert of St Paul’s; and one phase of the legend was the fabrication, within the first four centuries, of a correspondence between the two. It is quite certain that Seneca was never a Christian, though his language is full of startling superficial parallels to that of the N.T., and most full in his latest writings. But it is at least very likely that he heard, through his many channels of information, of St Paul’s existence and presence, and that he was intellectually interested in his teaching; and it is quite possible that he cared to visit him. It is not improbable, surely, that Seneca’s brother Gallio (Acts 18:12) may have described St Paul, however passingly, in a letter; for Gallio’s religious indifference may quite well have consisted with a strong personal impression made on him by St Paul’s bearing. Festus himself was little interested in the Gospel, or at least took care to seem so, and yet was deeply impressed by the personnel of the Apostle. And, again, the Prefect of the Imperial Guard, A.D. 61, was Afranius Burrus, Seneca’s intimate colleague as counsellor to Nero, and it is at least possible that he had received from Festus a more than commonplace description of the prisoner consigned to him[11].

“Bp Lightfoot, in his Essay, ‘St Paul and Seneca’ (Philippians, pp. 270, &c.), thinks it possible to trace in some of the Epistles of the Captivity a Christian adaptation of Stoic ideas. The Stoic, for example, made much of the individual’s membership in the great Body of the Universe, and citizenship in its great City. The connexion suggested is interesting, and it falls quite within the methods of Divine inspiration that materials of Scripture imagery should be collected from a secular region. But the language of St Paul about the Mystical Body, in the Ephesian Epistle particularly, reads far more like a direct revelation than like an adaptation; and it evidently deals with a truth which is already, in its substance, perfectly familiar to the readers[12].

“Other conspicuous personages of Roman society at the time have been reckoned by tradition among the chamber-converts of St Paul, among them the poet Lucan and the Stoic philosopher Epictetus[13]. But there is absolutely no evidence for these assertions. It is interesting and suggestive, on the other hand, to recall one almost certain case of conversion about this time within the highest Roman aristocracy. Pomponia Græcina, wife of Plautius the conqueror of Britain, was accused (A.D. 57, probably), of ‘foreign superstition,’ and tried by her husband as domestic judge. He acquitted her. But the deep and solemn seclusion of her life (a seclusion begun A.D. 44, when her friend the princess Julia was put to death, and continued unbroken till her own death, about A.D. 84), taken in connexion with the charge, as in all likelihood it was, of Christianity, ‘suggests that, shunning society, she sought consolation in the duties and hopes of the Gospel[14],’ leaving for ever the splendour and temptations of the world of Rome. She was not a convert, obviously, of St Paul’s; but her case suggests the possibility of other similar cases.”

Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (in Cambridge Bible for Schools), Introduction, pp. 16–19.

1. Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. So אBD2 109 copt: Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is the order of G2 and the large majority of other copies vulg syr (pesh and harkl). St Paul’s love of the order Χ. . inclines us to it in this case, though the adverse documentary evidence is weighty. LTTr Ell Ltft WH Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ.

C. BISHOPS AND DEACONS. (CH. Philippians 1:1)

THESE words have suggested to Bp Lightfoot an Essay on the rise, development and character of the Christian Ministry, appended to his Commentary on the Epistle (pp. 189–269), and now included also in his Biblical Essays. The Essay is in fact a treatise, of the greatest value, calling for the careful and repeated study of every reader to whom it is accessible. Along with it may be usefully studied a paper on the Christian Ministry in The Expositor for July, 1887, by the Rev. G. Salmon, D. D., now Provost of Trinity College, Dublin.

All we do here is to discuss briefly the two official titles of the Philippian ministry, and to add a few words on the Christian Ministry in general.

Bishops, ἐπίσκοποι, i.e. Overseers. The word occurs here, and Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7; besides 1 Peter 2:25, where it is used of our Lord. The cognate noun, ἐπισκοπή, occurs Acts 1:20 (in a quotation from the O.T.); 1 Timothy 3:1; and in three other places not in point. The cognate verb, ἐπισκοπεῖν, occurs Hebrews 12:15 (in a connexion not in point); 1 Peter 5:2.

On examination of these passages it appears that within the lifetime of SS. Peter and Paul there existed, at least very widely, a normal order of Church-officers called Episcopi, Superintendents. They were charged no doubt with many varied duties, some probably semi-secular. But above all they had spiritual oversight of the flock. They were appointed not by mere popular vote, certainly not by self-designation, but in some special sense “by the Holy Ghost” (Acts 20:28). This phrase may perhaps be illustrated by the mode of appointment of the “Seven” (Acts 6:3), who were presented by the Church to the Apostles, for confirmatory ordination, as men already (among other marks of fitness) “full of the Holy Ghost.”

The ἐπίσκοπος was evidently not an official comparatively rare; there were more ἐπίσκοποι than one in the not very large community of Philippi.

Meanwhile we find another designation of Church-officers who are evidently in the same way shepherds and leaders of the flock; πρεσβύτεροι, Elders. They are mentioned first, without comment, at the time of the martyrdom of James the Great. See Acts 11:30; Acts 14:23; Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22-23; Acts 16:4; Acts 20:17; Acts 21:18; 1 Timothy 5:1; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Timothy 5:19; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1 (and perhaps 5). See also 2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1. These elders appear Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; as “constituted” in local congregations by an Apostle, or by his immediate delegate.

It would appear that the N.T. ἐπίσκοπος and πρεσβύτερος are in fact the same official under differing designations; ἐπίσκοπος, a term borrowed mainly from the Gentiles, with whom it signified a superintending commissioner; πρεσβύτερος, from the “Eldership” of the Jews. This appears from Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28, where St Paul, addressing the Ephesian “elders,” says that they have been appointed “bishops” of the flock. In the Pastoral Epistles it is similarly plain that the titles coincide. See also 1 Peter 5:1-2, in the Greek.

Whether both titles were from the first in use everywhere we cannot be sure. But it is not improbable. In the very earliest post-apostolic writings we find “presbyters” at Corinth (Clem. Rom. to the Corinthians, i. cc. 42, 44, but also references to ἐπίσκοποι, ἐπισκοπή) and “bishops” (with “deacons,” as in Philippians 1:1) in the further East (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, c. 15).

We trace the same spiritual officials under more general designations, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17; and perhaps 1 Corinthians 12:28 (κυβερνήσεις), and Ephesians 4:11 (ποιμένες καὶ διδάσκαλοι).

Deacons, διάκονοι, i.e. Workers. The title does not occur in the Acts, nor anywhere earlier than this Epistle, except Romans 16:1, where Phœbe is called a διάκονος of the church at Cenchreæ[15]. Here only and in 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:12, is the word plainly used of a whole ministerial order. But in Acts 6. we find described the institution of an office which in all likelihood was the diaconate. The functions of the Seven are just those which have been ever since in history, even till now, assigned to deacons. And tradition, from cent. ii. onwards, is quite unanimous in calling the Seven by that title.

Deacons are very possibly indicated by the word ἀντιλήψεις in 1 Corinthians 12:28.

The deacon thus appears to have been primarily the officer ordained to deal with the temporal needs of the congregation. But he was assumed to be a “spiritual man,” and he was capable of direct commissioned spiritual work.

It thus appears then that during the lifetime of SS. Peter and Paul the word ἐπίσκοπος did not yet designate a minister presiding over and ruling other ministers; a “bishop” in the later and present sense. The ἐπίσκοπος was an “overseer” of not the shepherds but simply the flock, and might be (as at Philippi) one of several such in the same place.

This fact, however, leaves quite open the question whether such a presiding ministry, however designated at first, did exist in apostolic times and under apostolic sanction. That it did so may be inferred from the following evidence, very briefly stated.

It is certain that by the close of cent. ii. a definite presidential “episcopacy” (to which the word ἐπίσκοπος was then already appropriated, seemingly without the knowledge that it had once been otherwise) appears everywhere in the Church. As early probably as A.D. 110 we find it, in the Epistles of St Ignatius, a prominent and important fact of Church life, at least in the large circle of Churches with which Ignatius corresponded[16]. Later Church history presents us with the same constitution, though occasionally details of system vary[17], and the conceptions of function and power were highly developed, not always legitimately. Now between Ignatius and St John, and even St Paul, the interval is not great; 30 or 50 years at the most. It seems, to say the least, unlikely that so large a Church institution, over whose rise we have no clear trace of controversy or opposition, should have arisen quite out of connexion with apostolic precedent. Such precedent we find in the N.T., (a) in the presidency of Apostles during their lifetime, though strictly speaking their unique office had no “successors”; (b) in the presidency of their immediate delegates or commissioners (perhaps appointed only pro tempore), as Timothy and Titus; (c) in the presidency of St James the Lord’s Brother in the mother-church of Christendom; a presidency more akin to later episcopacy than anything else in the N.T.

We find further that all early history points to Asia Minor as the scene of the fullest development of primitive episcopacy, and it consistently indicates St John, at Ephesus, as in a sense its fountainhead. It is at least possible that St John, when he finally took up his abode in Asia, originated or developed there the régime he had known so well at Jerusalem.

Meanwhile there is reason to think that the episcopate, in this latter sense, rather grew out of the presbyterate than otherwise. The primeval bishop was primus inter pares. He was not so much one of another order as the first of his order, for special purposes of government and ministration. Such, even cent. v., is St Jerome’s statement of the theory. And St Jerome regards the bishop as being what he is not by direct Divine institution, but by custom of the Church.

Not till late cent. ii. do we find the sacerdotal[18] idea familiarly attached to the Christian ministry, and not till cent. iii. the age of Cyprian, do we find the formidable theory developed that the bishop is the channel of grace to the lower clergy and to the people.

On the whole, the indications of the N. T. and of the next earliest records confirm the statement of the Preface to the English Ordinal that “from the Apostles’ time there have been these orders of ministers in Christ’s Church, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.” On the other hand, having regard to the essentially and sublimely spiritual character of the Church in its true idea, and to the revealed immediate union of each member with the Head, by faith, we are not authorized to regard even apostolic organization as a matter of the first order in such a sense as that we should look on a duly ordained ministry as the indispensable channel of grace, or should venture to unchurch Christian communities, holding the apostolic faith concerning God in Christ, but differently organized from what we believe to be on the whole the apostolic model[19]. On the other hand, no thoughtful Christian will wish to forget the sacred obligations and benefits of external harmony and unity of organization, things meant to yield only to the yet greater claims of the highest spiritual truth.

B. “SAINTS AND FAITHFUL BRETHREN.” (CH. Philippians 1:1)

“IT is universally admitted … that Scripture makes use of presumptive or hypothetical language.… It is generally allowed that when all Christians are addressed in the New Testament as ‘saints,’ ‘dead to sin,’ ‘alive unto God,’ ‘risen with Christ,’ ‘having their conversation in heaven,’ and in other like modes, they are addressed so hypothetically, and not to express the literal fact that all the individuals so addressed were of this character; which would not have been true.… Some divines have indeed preferred as a theological arrangement a secondary sense of [such terms] to the hypothetical application of it in its true sense. But what is this secondary sense when we examine it? It is itself no more than the true sense hypothetically applied.… Divines have … maintained a Scriptural secondary sense of the term ‘saint,’ as ‘saint by outward vocation and charitable presumption’ (Pearson on the Creed, Art. IX.); but this is in very terms only the real sense of the term applied hypothetically.”

J. B. MOZLEY: Review of Baptismal Controversy, p. 74 (ed. 1862).

5. ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ἡμέρας. So אABP with some other (scanty) evidence. D2G2K2L, and most cursives, with good patristic support, give. . πρ. ἡμ. This is here durior lectio, and, possessing considerable documentary evidence, seems to us the better. Ell Ltft πρώτης, LTTr WH τῆς πρώτης.

7. συγκοινωνούς. Συνκοινωνούς is the spelling of אAB*D2G2. So σύνψυχοι (Philippians 2:2) and other similar words. WH (N. T. in Gr. § 393–404) deal with the question of spelling in MSS. generally, and conclude that the spellings of the best MSS. are the most trustworthy within our reach; more likely to be transmitted from the autographs than introduced at the date of transcription.

11. καρπὸντὸν. So אObadiah 1:2 G2K2L, several cursives, vulg (fuld καρπῶν) and some Greek fathers. P, the great majority of cursives, some copies of vulg syr (pesh and harkl) copt, Chrys Theophylact read καρπῶντῶν. St Paul elsewhere tends to use the singular rather than the plural of καρπός, and this, with the documentary evidence, inclines the scale to καρπὸν here. LTTr Ell Ltft WH καρπὸντὸν.

14. λ. τοῦ θεοῦ. So אObadiah 1:2*P, several cursives, vulg goth syr (pesh and harkl) copt and some other versions, Chrys (in two places) and some other fathers. The large majority of cursives omit τοῦ θεοῦ.

16, 17. οἱ μὲν ἐξ ἀγάπηςοἱ δὲ ἐξ ἐριθείας. The documentary evidence is strong for this order of the clauses, reversing that of A.V. So אObadiah 1:2*G2P, the important cursives 17 37 73 80, and several others, vulg goth copt syr (pesh) (omitting the words οἱ μὲν ἐξ ἀγάπης) and some other versions, and quotations by Basil Tertull and some other fathers. The other order is read (in certain recensions) in D2KL (with some difference in detail), the great majority of cursives, and quotations by Chrys Theodoret Damasc. To the favourable documentary evidence must be added that of the subsequent context; Philippians 1:18 follows much more naturally on the Philippians 1:17 of this order than on the Philippians 1:17 of the other. So all recent Editors.

18. πλὴν ὅτι. SO אHaggai 2 P, 17 and several other cursives, sah Athan Cyr Theophyl. πλὴν alone is given by D2KL, the great majority of cursives, syr (pesh and harkl) arm æth, Chrys Theodoret. LTTr Ltft WH πλὴν ὅτι. Ell om. ὅτι.

23. συνέχομαι δὲ. Many cursives, syr (pesh) Theodoret and Origen (translated), read συν. γὰρ. But the evidence for δὲ is decisive. So all recent Editors.

πολλῷ γὰρ. So אaABC, the important cursives 17 67 and five others, Clem Alex Or Ambrst Aug (who makes use of enim in an argument, de Doctr. Chr iii. 2). Γὰρ is omitted by א*D2FGKLP, the great majority of cursives, vulg syr (pesh and harkl) and some other versions, Chrys Theodoret and some other fathers. LTTr Ltft WH πολλῷ γὰρ. Ell πολλῷ. The evidence of copies and versions on the whole is for the omission of γὰρ.

25. παραμενῶ. So אABCD2*G2, 17 67 80 and a few other cursives, arm. Meanwhile συμπαραμενῶ is read by D2cKLP, the great majority of cursives, Chrys (who dwells on the word: συμπαραμενῶ· τοῦτʼ ἐστίν, ὄψομαι ὑμᾶς), Theodoret and other Greek fathers. Συμπαραμενῶ thus has considerable support, and is recommended besides by its comparative unlikelihood. It is easier to suppose the unusual double compound shortened to παραμενῶ than παραμενῶ expanded without any obvious call from the context. All recent Editors παραμενῶ.

28. ἐστὶν αὐτοῖς. So אABCD2*G2, the important cursives 17 178 and two others, vulg (some copies) goth arm. D2cP, 47 and some other cursives, Chrys Theophyl, read ἐστὶν αὐτοῖς μὲν. KL, the great majority of cursives, syr (harkl), Theodoret Damasc read αὐτοῖς μέν ἐστιν. All recent Editors ἐστὶν αὐτοῖς.

ὑμῶν. So אABC2P, 17 and three other cursives, arm syr (pesh), Chrys Aug. D2cKL, the great majority of cursives, vulg copt goth æth, Theodoret Ambrst and other fathers, read ὑμῖν, which is also attested indirectly by C*D*G2, which read ἡμῖν. All recent Editors ὑμῶν. Ltft says of ὑμῖν and αὐτοῖς μέν ἐστιν, “These are obviously corrections for the sake of balancing the clauses and bringing out the contrast.” They are thus rejected on the principle of preferring the durior lectio, which certainly ὑμῶν is. Otherwise, both rejected readings have considerable support, ὑμῖν especially.


Verse 1

1. Παῦλος. The name first appears Acts 13:9. It was probably from the first the alternative name (for use in intercourse with Gentiles) of Saul; given him as bearing a sound resembling his Hebrew home-name. It seems to have been a favourite name at Tarsus (Lewin, Life &c. of St Paul, i. 6).

He adds no allusion to his apostleship here (nor in the Ep. to Philemon). Affectionate and untroubled intimacy with his correspondents made it needless.

Τιμόθεος. Named 24 times in N.T. See esp. Acts 16:1; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10-11; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:4-5; below, Philippians 2:19-22. Timotheus’ connexion with Philippi was close. See Acts 16, 17, where it is implied that he was St Paul’s habitual companion till (Acts 17:14) they parted for a time at Berœa. He must thus have been present during the stormy days of the first visit to Philippi, though for unknown reasons he did not share the maltreatment of Paul and Silas. Later, Acts 20, he accompanied St Paul from Macedonia to Asia Minor, and Philippi (Acts 20:6) was visited then again.

His name is similarly linked with St Paul’s in 2 Cor., Col., 1 Thess., 2 Thess. Here, but not in those other places, the Apostle at once goes on to speak in his own person alone to his correspondents.

δοῦλοι. “Bondmen, slaves.” So St Paul designates himself (alone or in company) Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Titus 1:1. Such he was, not only as Apostle, but as Christian; see e.g. Luke 17:7-10; Romans 6:19; but he loves to emphasize the fact in connexion with his special mode of service.—The bondservice of the heavenly Master is not forced labour, against the will, but it is the labour of those who do not contract, but belong. Meanwhile, Illi servire est regnare.

Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. The order Χ. . (see critical note) is almost peculiar to St Paul, and he uses it more often than the other order. The slight emphasis thus given to Χριστός suggests a special reference to the Lord in glory.

ἁγίοις. “Holy Ones,” separated from sin to God. Ἄγιος appears to be connected linguistically not with ἄγνυμι, as if it implied a breach, a severance, but with ἄγος, or ἅγος a matter of sacred awe. The ἅγιος should thus mean the devotee of his God. Usage affirms this, and thus sanctions in effect the suggestion of separation given by the older (ἄγνυμι) derivation.

The Apostle constantly denotes the Christian community and its members by this term, as equally true of all converts. He takes them on their profession; not to lower the true meaning of the word, but using it on a well-understood hypothesis. The ἄγιος is not the professed Christian merely, but the professed Christian assumed to be what he professes to be. Otherwise he is not in deed but only in designation “a saint,” “faithful,” &c.

ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. United to Him, as the branch is “in” the tree. The ἅγιοι are what they are as they are veritably in contact with the Holy One, by covenant and in eternal life. Cp. 1 Corinthians 6:17; 1 John 5:12.

ἐν Φιλίπποις. See Introduction, ch. i.

σὺν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις. “With the bishops and deacons,” though the article is absent. Context in a case like this sufficiently defines; the persons of the classes named are self-evidently those at Philippi. So we in English could say, “bishops, deacons, and all,” as readily as “the bishops, &c.”

For further remarks on the offices here mentioned, see Appendix C.


Verse 2

2. χάρις ὑμῖν κτλ. Χάρις is a near equivalent to the English “favour,” with its alternative meanings of comeliness and goodwill, of pleasingness and pleasure. The latter is its far commoner direction in LXX. and N.T., the former in the Greek Apocrypha. Linguistically, the word seems to be connected first with the thought of brightness, then with that of beauty, and so passes into that of the kindly pleasure given by the sight of beauty. By usage in didactic passages in the N.T. it denotes specially the unbought favour of the Holy One towards the sinful and helpless, whether in pardon, in gift of Divine life, or in development of it. It is the antithesis to ἔργον and to the whole idea of merit and payment. Cp. esp. Romans 11:6. And in itself, as the act is never apart from the Agent, χάρις in our acceptance is God for us, in our new life and power it is God in us.

εἰρήνη. The word is probably cognate to εἴρω, to join. “Peace” is essentially a harmony, an adjustment. Here it denotes the enjoyment of harmony with God; His reconciled favour, resulting in the Christian’s and the Church’s inward rest and happiness.

θεοῦ. The Father; see the immediate context. Not that to St Paul the Father is more Divine than the Son, but that He is the FATHER, in whom Deity is as in the Fountain, while it is in the Son as in the Stream. Hence the frequent distinctive use of θεός where He is in view.—See Pearson, Exposition of the Creed, marginal p. 40.

κυρίου. Without the article, as frequently. Usage has given the word an adequate self-definition. Here the Lord Christ is equally with His Father the Giver of eternal blessing; a deep indication of the apostolic belief about Him.


Verse 3

3. Εὐχαριστῶ. So also in the opening of Rom., 1 Cor., Eph., Col., 1 Thess., Philem. His “thanksgivings” for the two Macedonian Churches, Philippi and Thessalonica, are peculiarly warm and full.

τῷ θεῷ μου. The phrase is almost peculiar in N. T. to St Paul. In O. T., cp. Psalms 22:1 (appropriated by the Crucified Lord), Psalms 63:1, &c.—The phrase speaks a profound individual appropriation and realization.

ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ μνείᾳ ὑμῶν. “In (or more literally “on”) all my remembrance of you.” The article may best be represented here by “my”; it was not possible to write both genitives, μου and ὑμῶν.—Cp. Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philemon 1:4.


Verses 3-11

3–11. THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER FOR THE PHILIPPIAN SAINTS


Verse 4

4. δεήσει. “Request, petition”; a narrower word than προσευχή, which may and often does denote worship at large.

μετὰ χαρᾶς. Emphatic words by position. They strike a note continually repeated in the Epistle.

τὴν δέησιν.The request” just mentioned.

ποιούμενος. The middle suggests a personal fulness in the action. The request comes from the depth of the man and relates to a welfare dear to him as his own. Only it is impossible to explain this in English without a certain exaggeration of the delicate Greek.

On the other hand ποιεῖσθαι is often used with a substantive by way of periphrasis, to express what would be more simply stated by a verb. E.g. Luke 13:22, πορείαν ποιούμενος (cf. Luke 9:51, πορεύεσθαι). Instances of ποιεῖν thus used are very rare. Thus explained the phrase here nearly equals δεόμενος, though still, surely, adding a certain fulness.


Verse 5

5. ἐπὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ ὑμῶν. “Over (on account of) your fellowship,” your making yourselves one with me, whether in deed or in spirit. See further just below, Philippians 1:7 and notes. The immediate but by no means whole reference was no doubt to their generous gifts of money; cp. Philippians 4:10-19.

εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον. “For the Gospel”; i.e. for its furtherance. For the phrase cp. 2 Corinthians 2:12, and below, Philippians 2:22. For εὐαγγέλιον denoting practically the work of evangelization cp. 2 Corinthians 8:18; Galatians 2:7; below, Philippians 2:22, Philippians 4:3; Philippians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 3:2.

ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ἡμέρας. On the reading, see critical note. If ἀπὸ πρ. ἡμ. is read, cp. Acts 10:30; Acts 20:18, for such absence of the article; it is perhaps an unconscious nuance of idiom, refusing analysis. See Lightfoot however on this verse: “the article is frequently omitted, because the numeral is sufficiently definite in itself.” With this assertion of the Philippians’ original and steady sympathy cp. ch. Philippians 4:15-16.


Verse 6

6. πεποιθὼς. “Feeling confident.” The word sometimes denotes reliance, on sure grounds, expressed or not (so e.g. Matthew 27:43; 2 Corinthians 1:9; below, Philippians 2:24, Philippians 3:3-4); sometimes a more arbitrary assurance (Romans 2:19); in every case, a feeling of personal certainty. This expression of “confidence” about their future is perhaps occasioned by the words just previous, about their preserving consistency “until now.”

αὐτὸ τοῦτο. A characteristic Pauline expression; the firm touch of an intent mind. See e.g. Romans 9:17; Romans 13:6; 2 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Galatians 2:10; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:8. Elsewhere in N. T. it appears only in 2 Peter 1:5, in a disputed reading.

ὁ ἐναρξάμενος. We may perhaps render, “He who did inaugurate.” Ἐνάρχεσθαι in Greek of the golden age (e.g. Eurip., I. A. 435) habitually means the solemn opening of the sacrificial ritual, the taking the barley from the basket. And in the Apocrypha it seems to tend on occasion to a certain solemnity; e.g. Sirach 38:16, τέκνον, ἐπὶ νεκρῷὡς δεινὰ πάσχων ἔναρξαι θρήνου. But there are cases enough to justify the simpler rendering “He who did begin,” if it is otherwise preferred.—The aorist participle points of course to the biographical crisis of their evangelization and conversion, when the Giver of grace made His message effectual in them. Cp. Galatians 3:3, ἐναρξάμενοι πνεύματι νῦν σαρκὶ ἐπιτελεῖσθε; There the crisis of conversion is viewed from the convert’s side.

ἔργον ἀγαθὸν. We may perhaps render “the good work”; so plainly is “the work of works” in view, defined by its own greatness.

ἐπιτελέσει, “Will complete it.” The verb, like ἐνάρχεσθαι, has occasionally a religious solemnity of meaning; e.g. Hdt. ii. 63, θυσίας ἐπιτελέουσι. But Biblical Greek usage hardly warrants our pressing such a meaning here. Cp. again Galatians 3:3 : “are ye now being completed, ἐπιτελεῖσθε, by the flesh?”—The thought here is that of Psalms 138:8, where it appears as the individual believer’s personal assurance. (Aquila and Symmachus there have ἐπιτελέσει.)

ἄχρις ἡμέρας Χ. . I.e., the process issuing in “completion” will go on till then, and be then summed up. “The day” is the goal, because not till then will the whole being of the Christian, body (Romans 8:23) as well as spirit, be fully “redeemed” from the results of sin. The mention of “the day” is thus equally in point, whether or not the Lord should be coming soon. In either case it, and no previous date, is the point of “completion.”—“The day” is mentioned below, Philippians 1:10, Philippians 2:16, and altogether, in St Paul, about twenty times. The Lord uses the word of His own Return, Matthew 7:22, and in some fourteen other places in the Gospels, including John 6:39-40; John 6:44; John 6:55.


Verse 7

7., Philippians 1:6 is a parenthesis in the thought, suggested probably by the last words of Philippians 1:5. We now take up the thread of Philippians 1:4-5; the thankful remembrance, the glad prayer, occasioned by their “fellowship in the Gospel.” He now justifies the assertion in detail.

δίκαιον. Not “meet” only, but “right.” He feels a delightful duty.

ἐμοὶ. The emphatic form; “for me,” whatever is right for others.

φρονεῖν. Almost, “to feel” this gratitude and joy. Φρονεῖν, a favourite word with St Paul, nearly always denotes a mental state or habit, not explicit thinking. See e.g. Romans 8:5-7; Romans 8:27; below, Philippians 3:15; Philippians 3:19; Colossians 3:2. For another shade of meaning see below, Philippians 4:10.

ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν. “On behalf of you all,” R.V. Ὑπέρ c. gen. properly means “over,” and so suggests, first and most surely, attention, concern, interest; as when a man is busy “over” his work. This of course lends itself, in fit contexts, to such special meanings as “on behalf of,” or even “in the place of”; but these need a context to develope them. The context of prayer above (Philippians 1:4) justifies R.V. here.

διὰ τὸ ἔχειν με ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμᾶς. We might render, of course, “Because you have me, &c.” But with that meaning he would probably write ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις: and the following context makes his affection for them the prominent thought.

ἔν τε τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου κτλ. His first allusion to imprisonment. We can connect these words, in grammar, with either the previous or following sentences. But a connexion with the following is, in reason, the much more probable. To St Paul, his δεσμά and his ἀπολογία were practically one experience; to the Philippians, they would seem two distinct calls for loving fellowship.

ἐν τῇ ἀπολογίᾳ καὶ βεβαιώσει. Two words linked by one definite article. They cover together his missionary work at Rome. His ἀπολογία (cp. Acts 22:1; Acts 25:16; below, 16; and esp. 1 Peter 3:15) was the explanation and vindication of the Gospel to the unconvinced; his βεβαίωσις, the development of “the reason of the hope” in the minds of convinced disciples, and also perhaps the practical “planting” of the Church for orderly work and witness.

μου τῆς χάριτος. Comparing Romans 1:5, Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 3:8, we see a reference here not to Divine grace in general (God in Christ, for and in the saints; see on Philippians 1:2 above) so much as to the special gracious gift of apostleship. So were the Philippians bound to him, alike in Divine life and in human love, that in his apostolic sufferings and labours they were his fellows, identified with him in everything, and by love, prayer, and gifts, working as it were through him.

The words συγκοινωνούς μουὄντας, in apposition to the ὑμᾶς above, may be rendered as if almost absolute; “you all being copartners of my grace.”

Observe in this whole context the iteration of πάντες ὑμεῖς. It has been suggested that he has in view the slight inner dissensions at Philippi, and thus delicately deprecates them. But the motive seems too artificial to be quite in place in this warm passage; the language is that of unreserved affection.


Verse 8

8. μάρτυςὁ θεός. Cp. Romans 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:10; and see 2 Corinthians 1:18; for similar solemn appeals, characteristic of an ardent heart, often tried by unkind suspicions.

ἐπιποθῶ. The word is not common in classical Greek, nor in Biblical Greek before the N.T., where it, with its cognates, is used 11 times by St Paul (Romans 1:11; Romans 15:23; 2 Corinthians 5:2; 2 Corinthians 7:7; 2 Corinthians 7:11; 2 Corinthians 9:14; Philippians 2:26; Philippians 4:1, and here; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Timothy 1:4), once by St James (Philippians 4:5), and once by St Peter (1. Philippians 2:2). In all the Pauline places it indicates a homesick yearning; in 2 Corinthians 5:2 the “home” is the heavenly rest. Here the verb breathes the deep family affection of the Gospel.

ἐν σπλάγχνοις Χ. . In classical Greek the σπλάγχνα are commonly (not invariably: e.g. Æsch., S. c. T. 1022) the viscera nobiliora, including the heart. The LXX. in their (rare) use of the word do not so limit it; they render by it the Heb. rach’mîm, the bowels, viewed as the seat of affection. But the question is one not of anatomy but of current reference, and our word “heart” is thus the best rendering.

“In the heart of Christ Jesus”:—the phrase is deeply significant. The Christian’s personality, never lost, is yet so united to his Lord (see 1 Corinthians 6:17) that the emotions of the regenerate member are as it were in continuity with those of the ever-blessed Head. There is more than sympathy; there is communication.


Verse 9

9. καὶ τοῦτο προσεύχομαι. He defines thus the “request” of Philippians 1:4.

ἵνα κτλ. Here ἵνα c. conj. denotes rather purport than purpose; less the aim than the idea of his prayer. This usage, as distinct from the strictly final usage, belongs to the later classical and the Hellenistic Greek, and is very frequent in N.T. A kindred but not identical usage appears e.g. John 17:3, where the Greek means, in effect, that “the life eternal is, in the true import of the words, to know &c.”

ἡ ἀγάπη ὑμῶν. Of which St Paul has had such warm proofs.

περισσεύῃ. He loves the thought of spiritual growth and overflow; see e.g. below, Philippians 1:26, Philippians 4:12; Philippians 4:18; and, for a close parallel here, 1 Thessalonians 4:1.

ἐν ἐπιγνώσει. So Romans 15:13, εἰς τὸ περισσεύειν ὑμᾶς ἐν τῇ ἐλπίδι. He prays that their love may be ever “richer in knowledge and perception” as its safety and aid. The use and construction here of περισσεύειν belongs to later classical and Hellenistic Greek.

ἐπιγνώσει. Ἐπίγνωσις is a word of later classical and Hellenistic Greek. (In LXX. and Apocrypha the noun does not occur, but the verb is frequent.) In N.T., (more than in other Biblical Greek), it tends by usage to denote full (or true) knowledge, in spiritual things. St Paul uses it 15 times, besides Hebrews 10:26; St Peter 4 times.

πάσῃ αἰσθήσει. Πάσῃ, with reference to the manifold demands for its exercise. Αἴσθησις is used only here in N.T., and cognates to it only Luke 9:45; Hebrews 5:14. In LXX. it is frequent in Proverbs as a rendering for da’ath, “knowledge.” The A.V. rendering, “judgment,” (R. V., “discernment”), a word which we often use of the criticism of e.g. works of art, and of practical insight, is a fair equivalent to the Greek here.


Verse 10

10. εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν. “With a view to (to qualify you for) testing.”

τὰ διαφέροντα. See Romans 2:18 for the same phrase.—Τὰ διαφέροντα may be either “the things which excel,” or “the things which differ” (as in margin R.V.). On the whole we prefer this latter, partly as agreeing better with the (scanty) use of the verb in older Biblical Greek and in most of the N.T. examples; and more, as more obviously agreeing with the just previous thought of a growth of “judgment.” The Greek commentator Theophylact (cent. xi.) explains the words by τί δεῖ πρᾶξαι καὶ τί δεῖ μὴ πρᾶξαι.

ἵνα ἦτε. The “judgment” was always to issue in character and conduct.

εἰλικρινεῖς. “Pure, singlehearted.” Three derivations of εἰλικρινής (occasional in Attic; in N.T. only here and 2 Peter 3:1) are suggested; [1] εἴλη, κρίνειν: a test by sunlight; [2] εἴλειν, κρίνειν: a test by rolling or racking; [3] εἴλη (ἴλη), κρίνειν: a separation, or assortment, as in ranks or troops, with the thought of the disentanglement, simplification, of motive and conduct. This latter is favoured by Lightfoot. The Latin rendering is sinceri (“unadulterated”); and it is worth while to notice that this has a possible linguistic connexion with “sin-gle.”

ἀπρόσκοποι. The word may mean either [1] “feeling no stumbling-block” (προσκοπή, πρόσκομμα; Lat. offendiculum, whence our word “offence” in its antiquated meaning), or [2] “laying no stumblingblock” in the way of others. The word is not classical, and nowhere common. The only two other N.T. examples, Acts 24:16; 1 Corinthians 10:32 (both Pauline); are exactly divided as evidence for the meaning here; and thus we are left to the context. This on the whole decides for [1]; the Apostle is mainly concerned with the inward life of the Philippians; he prays that they may be so “sincere” with God as never to “stumble over” a wrong motive.

εἰς ἡμέραν Χριστοῦ. “Unto the day”; against it, in view of it, as the crisis of absolute disclosure. Song of Solomon 2:16, where see note. On the phrase ἡμέρα Χ. see above on Philippians 1:6.


Verse 11

11. πεπληρωμένοι. The perfect participle seems to anticipate “the day.” He sees the Philippians as they will be then, “having been filled,” and therefore then full; trees whose every branch had put forth, in their earthly life, “the fruit” described Galatians 5:22-23.—On the reading, see critical note.—The accusative is “of reference.”—Here, as in Gal., l.c., the singular (καρπόν) is significant. The results of grace are manifold, yet as to their material they are one; and each is necessary to the fulness of the rest.

δικαιοσύνης. So James 3:18. And in LXX. see Proverbs 11:30; Proverbs 13:2; Amos 6:12. The “fruit” is a result yielded by “righteousness.” “Righteousness” is here probably the rightness of the regenerate will, regarded as in accord with Divine law. But there is a possible reference also, in a Pauline writing (see further on ch. Philippians 3:9), to that aspect of the word so prominent in the Roman Epistle, satisfactoriness to the law in respect of the atoning Satisfaction of Christ; so that the “fruit” would be the outcome not only of a renewed will but of an accepted person.

διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Who is alike, by His merit, the procuring Cause of the new life, and so of its fruits, and, by His Life, the true Basis of it.

εἰς δόξαν κτλ. The true goal of the whole process of salvation. “To Him are all things; to Whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).—On the use of θεός here, distinctively, as often, for the Eternal Father, see above on Philippians 1:2.


Verse 12

12. τὰ κατʼ ἐμὲ. “The things relating to me, my position, my affairs.” For the phrase cp. Romans 1:15; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7. It does not appear in LXX. or Apocrypha, and is not common in classical Greek. The special reference is to his imprisonment, as an unlooked for advantage for his missionary work.

μᾶλλον. “Rather” than otherwise, against à priori calculation.

προκοπὴν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου. “The Gospel’s progress,” rather than its “furtherance.” Προκοπή (προκόπτειν, to clear the way forward) by usage (see e.g. Philippians 1:25 below) denotes an active advance; the advancing person or cause is given by the related noun or pronoun in the genitive.

ἐλήλυθεν. “Have resulted in,” “have come out in,” the Gospel’s progress. It is difficult to find an exact parallel for this use of ἔρχομαι. Grimm (ed. Thayer) groups it with e.g. ἐλθεῖν εἰς πειρασμόν, εἰς ἀπελεγμόν: but the ideas are not identical. Perhaps the expanded thought here is that events have “come” to the Apostle, so as to result in the Gospel’s progress.


Verses 12-20

12–20. ST PAUL’S PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES AND INWARD EXPERIENCE


Verse 13

13. φανεροὺς ἐν Χριστῷ. Certainly connect these words. Briefly, they are as if he had written φανεροὺς ὡς ἐν Χριστῷ ὄντας. What was “manifest” about the captivity was that it was “in Christ”; it was due to no political or social crime, but to his union with his Lord.

γενέσθαι. Literally, “Proved, came to be.” But the aorist, as often, asks an English perfect to represent it; our English thought separates the present from the past less rapidly than the Greek’s. “Have proved” expresses, for us, the fact of recent incidents felt in a present result.

ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ πραιτωρίῳ. Πραιτώριον occurs in N. T. Matthew 27:27; Mark 15:16; John 18:28; John 18:33; John 19:9; Acts 23:35; always in the sense of the residence of an official grandee, regarded as a prætor, or military commander. (Not that the word, in Latin, always keeps a military reference; it is sometimes the near equivalent of villa, though always suggesting a grandiose scale. E.g. Sueton. Aug., 72; Juv. i. 75.) The A.V. rendering here is an inference from these cases; as if St Paul were imprisoned within the precincts of the residence of the supreme Prætor, the Emperor—the Palatium, the imperial House on the Hill of Pales, Mons Palatinus. In St Paul’s day this was a maze of buildings covering the whole hill, and more; Nero having built as far as the Esquiline (Sueton. Nero, 31) in constructing his “Golden House.” The rendering of the A.V. is accepted by high authorities, as Merivale (Hist. Rom., ch. liv.), and Lewin (Life &c. of St Paul, ii. p. 282). On the other hand Lightfoot, on this verse, and in an extensive detached note (Philippians, ed. 8, p. 99), prefers to render “in all the prætorian guard,” the Roman life-guards of the Cæsar; and he collects ample evidence for this use of πραιτώριον from both authors and inscriptions[1]. And meanwhile there is no evidence that the Palace was called Prætorium by Romans at Rome. To this however Lewin fairly answers that St Paul, a provincial, might easily apply to the Palace a provincial term for a Residency, especially after his imprisonment in Herod’s Prætorium (Acts 23, 24). But again it is yet more likely that, as Lightfoot suggests, the word πραιτώριον, in the sense of “the Guards,” would be often on the lips of the “soldiers who kept” St Paul; and so that this would now be to him the more familiar reference. On the whole we advocate the rendering of Lightfoot (and of R.V. text), “throughout the (whole) Prætorian guard.” Warder after warder came to the Apostle’s chamber (whose locality, on this theory, is left undefined; it may have been far from “the Palace,” or close to it), and carried from it information and often, doubtless, deep impressions, giving his comrades at large some knowledge of the Prisoner’s message and of the claims of the Saviour.

Other explanations of πραιτώριον are (a) the Barrack within the Palatium where a Prætorian detachment was stationed; (b) the great Guards’ Camp (castra prætoriana) just outside the eastern wall of Rome. But the Barrack was too limited a space to justify the phrase ἐν ὅλῳ κτλ.; and there is no evidence that the Camp was ever called τὸ πραιτώριον.

τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν. “To all other men”; to “the public” at large, whether through the soldiers, or as civilians of all kinds came and went as visitors to the Apostle. The words intimate a wide personal influence.


Verse 14

14. τοὺς πλείονας. “The majority.” There were exceptions, a minority. He has in mind what comes out below, the difference between friendly and unfriendly sections among the Roman Christians. Acts 28:15, and the Epistle to the Romans as a whole, assure us that the friendly were the majority. On the whole we gather from this passage (Philippians 1:14-18) that a new energy was moving the whole Roman mission, but that the motives in it varied; the majority of the converts were stimulated by the Apostle’s willing sufferings, a minority by opposition to his influence.

τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἐν κυρίῳ. So connect the words (with A.V. and R.V.), not τῶν ἀδελφῶν, ἐν κ. πεποιθότας κτλ. (with Ellicott and Lightfoot). Such authorities notwithstanding, the construction they decline is an easy one in the Greek of the N. T. In classical Greek no doubt we should have τῶν ἐν κυρίῳ ἀδελφῶν or τῶν ἀ. τῶν ἐν κ. But the law of N. T. usage is certainly looser in such “attributives”; see e.g. 1 Corinthians 10:18 (τὸν Ἰσραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα); Colossians 1:8 (τὴνἀγάπην ἐν πνεύματι). True, Galatians 5:10 (πέποιθα εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐν κυρίῳ) has been compared, to justify the rendering here, “Having in the Lord confidence in my bonds”; but the difference here is that ἐν κυρίῳ, if made to begin a clause, would take an emphasis which seems to be uncalled for. (See generally Winer, N. T. Grammar, III. § xx. Winer explains as Ellicott, &c.)—The precise phrase ἀδελφὸς ἐν κυρίῳ is not found elsewhere; but it is self-evidently possible; and see 1 Corinthians 4:15 for a (practical) instance of πατὴρ ἐν Χριστῷ.

πεποιθότας τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου. Πεποιθέναι, with the dative of the person or thing trusted, is common in Greek poetry, and occasional in Hellenistic prose. In N. T. the only parallels are 2 Corinthians 10:7; Philemon 1:2. “Confiding in my bonds” is a singular expression; but the paradox is surely intentional. On St Paul as imprisoned they leaned, as men always tend to lean on a leadership proved to be strong by self-sacrifice. So led, they began working with a new assurance of their cause, and of their hope.

περισσοτέρως τολμᾶν. “More abundantly venture”; they are more lavish of effort and venture. On the bearing of such a statement on the date of the Epistle, see Introduction, ch. ii—Περισσός and its cognates are favourite words in the warm style of St Paul.

ἀφόβως. They saw the fearless Apostle teaching Christ ἀκωλύτως (Acts 28:31); why should they not venture?

τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ. The revealed account of the glory and work of the Christ of God; the Gospel. It is observable that he regards the work of “speaking the word” as the work not only of ordained messengers but of all Christians.—On the reading see critical note.


Verse 15

15. τινὲς μὲν καὶ διὰ φθόνον καὶ ἔριν. “Some actually for envy and strife, while others, (as) actually, for goodwill.” Here he refers to that Judaistic school within the Church which followed him with persistent opposition, especially since the crisis when, in council, he won a decisive victory over their main principle (Acts 15). They held that the Gospel was indeed the crown of the Law, but that the Law was also the permanent fence of the Gospel; the blessings of the baptismal covenant could be reached only through that of circumcision. Such a tenet would not necessarily preclude a true teaching of the Person and central Work of Christ, however much it might (as in time it did) tend to a beclouded view even of His Person (see Appendix D). Thus St Paul could on the one hand rejoice that such teachers were conveying to pagan hearers the primary Fact of salvation, Jesus Christ; on the other hand he could urgently warn Christians (see the Ep. to the Galatians, and below, Philippians 3:2) against their distinctive teaching, as pregnant with spiritual disaster.

For allusions to this class of opponents see Acts 15:1-31; Acts 20:30 (perhaps), Acts 21:20-25; and the Ep. to the Galatians at large. The passages where he asserts with a special emphasis his authority, or his veracity, very probably point towards their untiring opposition and ill-will.

Not that the Judaizer of this type was his only adversary within the Church, He had also to face an opposition of a “libertine” type, a distortion of his own doctrine of free grace (Romans 6:1, &c., and below, Philippians 3:18-19); and again, of the mystic or gnostic type (see the Ep. to the Colossians). But Philippians 3:1-9 fixes the reference here to Christians of the type of Acts 15:1.

διʼ εὐδοκίαν. Εὐδοκία in N. T. usually means “good-pleasure,” the choice of what “seems good” to the chooser. See Matthew 11:26; Luke 10:21; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9; below, Philippians 2:13. But the idea of “good-will” occurs Luke 2:14; Romans 10:1; and perhaps 2 Thessalonians 1:11. Both meanings appear in O. T. Greek (e.g. Psalms 51 (LXX., 50):19; 145 (LXX., 144):17; and see Sirach 29:26).—The “good-will” here was that of loving loyalty to the Lord and His afflicted messenger.

D. EBIONITE CHRISTOLOGY. (CH. Philippians 1:15)

THE allusion in our note to “lowered and distorted views” of the Person of our Lord on the part of later Judaizers more or less Christian, has regard mainly to Ebionism, a heresy first named by Irenæus (cent. ii.) but which seems to have been the direct descendant of the school which specially opposed St Paul. It lingered on till cent. v.

It appears to have had two phases; the Pharisaic and the Essene. As regards the doctrine of Christ’s Person, the Pharisaic Ebionites held that Jesus was born in the ordinary course of nature, but that at His Baptism He was “anointed by election, and became Christ” (Justin Martyr, Dial., c. xlix.); receiving power to fulfil His mission as Messiah, but still remaining man. He had neither pre-existence nor Divinity. The Essene Ebionites, who were in fact Gnostics, held (at least in many instances) that Christ was a super-angelic created Spirit, incarnate at many successive periods in various men (for instance, in Adam), and finally in Jesus. At what point in the existence of Jesus the Christ entered into union with Him was not defined.

See Smith’s Dict. of Christian Biography, &c., art. Ebionism.


Verse 16

16. οἱ μὲν ἐξ ἀγάπης κτλ. On the order of the clauses here, see critical note.

εἰς ἀπολογίανκεῖμαι. In defensionem … positus sum (Vulgate).—For ἀπολογία, see note on Philippians 1:7 above.—Κεῖμαι: “I am set.” For a similar use of the verb see Luke 2:34, οὗτος κεῖται εἰς πτῶσιν κτλ.; 1 Thessalonians 3:3. The thought is as of a soldier posted; (perhaps not without a reference to his “lying” in the prison which was his present “post”; but κεῖσθαι is at least very rare in this reference). These loyal and loving Christians were animated to co-operation by the fact of St Paul’s plainly providential presence at Rome, to be a witness and expounder of the Gospel. He was to be their centre and point d’appui; they, in their freedom of movement, his helpers everywhere.


Verse 17

17. ἐξ ἐριθείας. “Prompted by faction, partizanship.” On the spelling ἐριθίας see Westcott and Hort, N. T. in Greek, II. Appendix, p. 153.—Ἐριθεία (cp. for this meaning Romans 2:8; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20; below, Philippians 2:3; James 3:14; James 3:16) is the work of an ἔρῖθος, a day-labourer; so, any work of a “sordid” kind; so, in politics, the trade of a hired canvasser, or the like; and so finally, partizan-work in general, and its spirit. Liddell and Scott call the alleged connexion of the word with ἔριον, “accidental.”

It has been suggested to render οἱ ἐξ ἀγάπηςοἱ ἐξ ἑριθείας, “the men of (i.e. siding with) love; the men of (i.e. siding with) faction.” But this strains the construction, certainly of Philippians 1:16, and it is needless.

τὸν Χριστὸν καταγγέλλουσιν. “Are proclaiming the Christ.” Καταγγέλλω (rare in classical Greek, where it sometimes means “to de-nounce”; nowhere in Greek O. T., except two places in Apocrypha) is to announce tidings with emphasis, or publicity.—It is a sorrowful paradox, but abundantly illustrated, that the true CHRIST could be emphatically and in a sense earnestly proclaimed with a wrong motive, οὐχ ἁγνῶς.

οἰόμενοι. The word seems to suggest, with a sort of gentle irony, that this “thought” was wide of the fact.

θλίψιν ἐγείρειν τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου. Lightfoot suggests the paraphrase “to make my chains gall me.” But the physical reference of θλίψις (not so of θλίβειν) is extremely rare, and in Biblical Greek otherwise unknown; and the phrase seems forced and unlikely. The R.V. paraphrases well, “Thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds.” So Alford. Vulgate, pressuram (a word familiar for “trouble”) suscitare. These Anti-Paulines would “raise up trouble” for him, so they “thought,” by preventing the access of enquirers or converts to the imprisoned Apostle; a severe test to his faith and patience.


Verse 18

18. τί γάρ; “Well, what of that?” Τί γάρ; is common in classical Greek in quick steps of more or less argumentative statement. Lightfoot cites Xen. Mem. II. vi. §§ 2, 3, where τί γάρ; (varied by τί δέ; τί οὖν; ) repeatedly thus takes up the thread in dialogue.

πλὴν ὅτι. “Only that.” A beautiful modification of the thought, that all this “does not matter.” It does “matter,” in one happy respect; it helps to diffuse the Gospel.—On the reading, see critical note.

προφάσει. With those who preached ἐξ ἐριθείας, the “pretext” (perhaps even to themselves) would be zeal for truth; the truer reason was prejudice against a person.

ἀλλὰ καὶ χαρήσομαι. “Aye, and I shall rejoice.” “Shall” seems better here than “will,” an expectation rather than a resolve (so Ellicott, Alford, Lightfoot, but not R.V.), because he at once goes on to anticipate a bright future.

No long comment is needed on the noble spiritual lesson of this passage. His Lord’s interests are his own, and in that fact, amidst extremely vexatious circumstances, he finds by grace more than resignation, more than equanimity; there is positive and assured happiness. Self has yielded the inner throne to Christ, and the result is a Divine harmony between circumstances and the man, as both are seen equally subject to, and usable by, Him.


Verse 19

19. οἶδα γὰρ. He explains why he “shall rejoice.” Next to the highest reason, that “Christ is being proclaimed,” comes in this attendant certainty, that his own spiritual good will be furthered.

τοῦτό μοι ἀποβήσεται. “I shall find this resulting.”

σωτηρίαν. The word includes in its widest reference the whole process of saving mercy, from the giving of the Saviour to the final glory of the saved. In the life of the Christian it points now to his first faith in Christ (2 Corinthians 6:2), now to his life-long preservation in Christ (e.g. 2 Timothy 2:20); more frequently to the heavenly issue of the whole (e.g. Romans 13:11; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:5). The same may be said of σώζειν, only that it refers more often than σωτηρία to the life-long “saving.” Here the probable reference is to the final glory, to the attainment of which, by way not of merit but of training, all gifts of grace contribute. The lower meaning, that of saving of bodily life (as e.g. Acts 27:34), is excluded here by the reference to “the supply of the Spirit” just below.

διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν δεήσεως. For St Paul’s estimate of the positive power of intercession, see e.g. Romans 15:30; Colossians 4:3.

ἐπιχορηγίας. Χορηγία is properly the work of a χορηγός (Attic, χοραγός), the “leader of a chorus” in the theatre. Χοραγός came, in time, to mean the citizen who paid the costs of the performance, and then χορηγία meant his bounty. Thence χορηγία passed on to mean “supply” in general; and so ἐπιχορηγία means additional or abundant supply. It occurs in N. T. only here and Ephesians 4:16. Ἐπιχορηγεῖν occurs 2 Corinthians 9:10; Galatians 3:5; Colossians 2:19; 2 Peter 1:5; 2 Peter 1:11; passages which all illustrate the slightly intensive force of the ἐπι-. In classical Greek the verb is rare and the noun unknown.

τοῦ πνεύματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. The genitive (πνεύματος) here denotes the Spirit as not the Supplier but the Supply, or more exactly the Resource, “of” which comes the supply. For the thought cp. Galatians 3:5, ὁ ἐπιχορηγῶν ὑμῖν τὸ πνεῦμα.

What is τὸ πνεῦμα Ἰ. Χ.? Not merely Jesus Christ’s principles and temper; such a meaning of πνεῦμα is almost if not quite unknown in Greek, classical, biblical, and ecclesiastical. The analogy of e.g. Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6; 1 Peter 1:11, taken along with our Lord’s own teaching about the relation between the Paraclete and Himself (John 14-16), assures us that “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” is here none other than the Eternal Personal Spirit, “sent” by the Son (John 15:26), occupied with Him as Revealer and Imparter (John 15:26; John 16:14). His whole work for the Church and for the soul is connected always with the glorified Lord, with Whom He is so One that where the Spirit comes Christ is (John 14:18; cp. Ephesians 3:16-17).

St Paul expects, in answer to his converts’ prayers, a new effusion of the power of the Spirit, developing in him the presence of Jesus Christ.


Verse 20

20. κατὰ τὴν κτλ. “The supply of the Spirit” will evidence itself in the “magnification of Christ in his body.” That the Lord will be so “magnified” is his eager expectation. Thus, the “supply of the Spirit” will be “according to,” correspondent to, that expectation.

ἀποκαρᾱδοκία. “Longing expectation”; the outstretched head of the watcher is almost visible in the word. It is not classical, and occurs elsewhere in N. T. only Romans 8:19. Ἀποκαραδοκεῖν occurs in Polybius (cent. iii–ii. B.C.), and in Aquila’s version (circ. A.D. 150) of Psalms 37 (LXX., Psalms 36:7).—The hope of bringing glory to Christ was to the Apostle the possessing and animating interest of life.

αἰσχυνθήσομαι. i.e. practically, “I shall be disappointed,” as one who has reckoned badly, to his own shame. See Psalms 25 (LXX., 24):3, πάντες οἱ ὑπομένοντές σε οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῶσι: Romans 5:5; 2 Timothy 1:12.

ἐνπαρρησίᾳ. Ἐν here, as very frequently in N. T., indicates accompaniment, as of a condition (so here) or of a means; representing thus the Hebrew bêth as a prepositional prefix. Such (classically) unlikely phrases as ἐν σάλπιγγι (1 Thessalonians 4:16), ἐν μαχαίρᾳ (Matthew 26:52), fall under this description.—Παρρησία. The word here naturally keeps its literal meaning, boldness of speech, for he is thinking of his testimony to his Lord. It sometimes glides into the meaning of more general security, confidence, openness; e.g. John 7:4; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 10:35.

ὡς πάντοτε καὶ νῦν. “As always, so now”; with an emphasis on “now.” Cp. 1 John 2:18, καὶ νῦν ἀντίχριστοι πολλαὶ γεγόνασιν.

μεγαλυνθήσεται. i.e. practically, “shall be glorified,” shall be so manifested as to be praised. He will be enabled to make his Lord bright and great to eyes which otherwise would see little of Him.

ἐν τῷ σώματί μου. Because the body is the soul’s necessary vehicle for all action on others. Through the body alone could others “see” how the man had peace and power in his Master, living or dying; through the words of his lips, the looks of his face, the action or patience of his limbs. Cp. Romans 12:1, and 2 Corinthians 4:10.

εἴτε διὰ ζωῆς εἴτε κτλ. We gather that he wrote at a time of suspense regarding the issue of his trial. Wonderfully did his relation to Christ, ὡς πάντοτε καὶ νῦν, make the suspense itself an occasion of peace and joy. See just below.


Verse 21

21. Ἐμοὶ γὰρ. Ἐμοὶ is emphatic, with the force not of self-assertion but of intense personal experience. This passage is linked with the former by explaining the secret of his holy equanimity in this suspense between life and death. Life and death are to him a dilemma of blessings, in Christ.

τὸ ζῆν Χριστὸς. Vivere Christus, Vulgate. Luther renders, Christus ist mein Leben, and Tindale, after him, “Christ is to me lyfe.” But this would demand rather, in the Greek, ἐμοὶ γὰρ ζωὴ Χριστός: and it destroys the balance of the two clauses; we could not go on to render “Gain is death.” He is thinking here not of the secret of “life” but of the interests of “living.” “Living,” τὸ ζῆν, is for him so full of Christ, so occupied with and for Him, that CHRIST sums it up. Such is meant to be the experience of every Christian; see Colossians 3:17, and cp. Ephesians 3:14-21.

τὸ ἀποθανεῖν. “Dying.” The aorist (note the change after the present, τὸ ζῆν, which gives the thought of life as a process) denotes the act of dying, not the process, nor again the state, of death. The dying hour is to St Paul the mere gateway into the “large room” of the presence of Christ.

κέρδος. Not merely “no harm,” but positive “gain.” “Death is his” (1 Corinthians 3:22).—This wonderful saying, uttered without an effort, appropriating as a means of bliss man’s awful and seemingly always triumphant enemy, is explained just below.—It is observable that his thought here is, apparently, more distinctly fixed on death as his own experience in prospect than it seems to have been in the earlier Epistles (e.g. 2 Corinthians 5:4, οὐ θέλομεν ἐκδύσασθαι, but see Philippians 1:8 there). Meantime the hope of the Saviour’s Return is bright as ever; see below, Philippians 3:20.


Verses 21-26

21–26. THE SAME SUBJECT: THE ALTERNATIVE OF LIFE OR DEATH: EXPECTATION OF LIFE


Verse 22

22. εἰ δὲ τὸ ζῆν ἐν σαρκί, τοῦτο κτλ. His thought, after the avowal that for him “to die is gain,” is that the other alternative—to live still in the body—has a charm in it, for it implies so much more time for fruitful toil for Christ; and so he is in suspense between bliss and bliss. We may translate, slightly paraphrasing, “But if it” (my actual lot, in the will of God) “should be to live (on) in flesh,” i.e. under the conditions of mortality (cp. Galatians 2:20), “this I shall find (μοι) to be full of fruit of work.” Living will mean working, working will mean fruit-bearing (see John 15:5; John 15:16) for Christ; and life so lived will indeed be “worth living.”

The rendering of R.V. (text) is “But if to live in the flesh—if this be the fruit of my work, then (καὶ) what I shall choose, &c.” But the explanation of καὶ by “then” is improbable, and the thought of continued life as a “fruit” of previous efforts is difficult and scarcely in place.

καὶ. Simply “and.” The “then” of R.V. and “yet” of A.V. are alike needless. He merely takes another step in the same line of thought.

γνωρίζω. The knowledge of insight, recognition, is suggested. “I do not see clearly” (Ellicott).


Verse 23

23. συνέχομαι δὲ. On the reading, see critical note.—Δὲ takes up the last clause, with a slightly differencing addition; “What to choose I do not see, but stand in suspense.”

ἐκ τῶν δύο. With συνέχομαι, the imagery is of a man “compressed” by forces acting “from both (ἐκ τῶν δύο) sides” upon him, so as to keep him fixed in the midst.

It is a wonderful and entirely Christian dilemma. “The Apostle asks which is most worth his while, to live or to die. The same question is often presented to ourselves, and perhaps our reply has been the same. But may we not have made it with a far different purport?… Life and death have seemed … like two evils, and we knew not which was the less. To the Apostle they seem like two immense blessings, and he knows not which is the better” (Ad. Monod, Adieux, No. II.).

τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν. Almost, “my desire.” He distinguishes the ἐπιθυμία, the preference by pleasure, from the preference by principle, the προαίρεσις (if we may use the word) simply to do the will of God for others. “Where his Treasure is, there is his heart.”

εἰς τὸ ἀναλῦσαι. The verb occurs elsewhere in N. T. only in Luke 12:36, πότε ἀναλύσει κτλ., “when he shall return” (but we may well explain the word there of “setting out” homeward). Ἀνάλυσις occurs 2 Timothy 4:6, obviously in the sense it bears here. Verb and noun alike can refer, by usage, to either (a) the solution of a compound (so here the Vulgate, cupio dissolvi), or (b) the undoing of a cable, to set sail, or the striking of a tent, to travel. Verb and noun are both absent from LXX., but the verb is not infrequent in the Apocrypha, and there usually means to go away, or, as the other side of that act, to return (Tobit 2:8; Judges 13:1). This points to (b) as the probable thought of the verb here; and this is supported by the comments of the Greek expositors; Chrysostom e.g. paraphrases our text by ἐντεῦθεν πρὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν μεθίστασθαι, καὶ σὺν Χριστῷ εἶναι. St Paul “desires” to leave for home; to strike his camp, to weigh his anchor, for the better country. See the same thought under other phraseology 2 Corinthians 5:1-8; the wanderer’s “tent is taken down,” καταλύεται, that he may “go home to the Lord,” ἐνδημῆσαι πρὸς τὸν κύριον.

In Suicer’s Thesaurus (of the language of the Greek Fathers) ἀναλύω and its noun are treated at length, and the words are shewn to have glided in post-apostolic Greek into an almost synonym for dying (Lucian, Philops. c. 14, has ὀκτωκαιδεκάτης ὢν ἀνέλυεν). He tells how Melanchthon, dying [1560], talked to his friend Camerarius, “prince of Greek scholars in his day,” about ἀναλύω, dwelling with delight on this passage, criticizing the Vulgate rendering, and vindicating that of departure, migration. Luther here has abzuscheiden, “to depart.”

καὶ σὺν Χριστῷ εἶναι. Such is the blissful “other side” of the Christian’s death. Cp. carefully 2 Corinthians 5:7, with its profound intimation that to step at death out of the “walk by faith” is, ipso facto, to begin to “walk by Object Seen” (διὰ εἴδους), in the disclosed presence of the Lord. “Christianity … does not [in the presence of death] tell us of the splendours of the invisible world, but it does far better when, in three words, it informs us that (ἀναλῦσαι) to loosen from the shore of mortality is (σὺν Χριστῷ εἶναι) to be with Christ” (Isa. Taylor, Saturday Evening, ch. XXVI.).

The Christian, in this life, is “with Christ,” and Christ with him. But so is the Presence manifested in that life that it is as if it had not been known before. Cp. Acts 7:39; words which St Paul had heard spoken.

πολλῷ γὰρ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον. On the reading, see critical note.—With μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον cp. ἐλαχιστότερος, Ephesians 3:8. The phrase may well be characteristic of St Paul’s vivid feeling. But classical Greek gives parallel examples: e.g. æsch. S. c. T. 673, τίς ἄλλος μᾶλλον ἐνδικώτερος; Soph. Ant. 1210, ἕρποντι μᾶλλον ἆσσον. In popular Latin there is a distinct tendency to such double comparatives, e.g. Plaut. Capt. 3. 4. 112, nihil invenies magis hoc certo certius; Stich. 5. 4. 22, magis dulcius. “Much rather better” is a bold accumulation.—Observe that he finds this “betterness,” in the unseen bliss, in comparison not with this life’s darkest but with its brightest; he has just said that “to live (on earth) is CHRIST.”


Verse 24

24. ἐπιμένειν τῇ σαρκὶ. T. R., ἐπιμ. ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ. Either reading gives a pertinent meaning, “to hold by the flesh,” i.e. to cling to this life (as to the Commander’s post of duty: cp. e.g. Acts 13:33; Romans 6:1; Romans 11:22-23, for illustrative cases of ἐπιμένειν c. dat.), or, “to stay on in the flesh.” Ἐπι- gives to μένειν the special thought of persistence or adherence.

ἀναγκαιότερον. With the noble ἀνάγκη of recognized duty to the Lord, and now especially to others in Him; διʼ ὑμᾶς, “on account of you.”


Verse 25

25. οἶδα, ὅτι μενῶ. We have good ground for saying that this οἶδα was verified in the event; see 1 Timothy 1:3 for an intimation of a visit to Macedonia after this date.

παραμενῶ πᾶσιν ὑμῖν. T. R., συμπαραμενῶ, which seems preferable; see critical note. Not only will he “stay” (μενῶ) “in the flesh”; his stay will be “with and beside” (συμπαραμενῶ) the Philippians, whether in bodily presence or in other full communication.

προκοπὴν. “Progress”; see on Philippians 1:12.

χαρὰν τῆς πίστεως. “Joy of (i.e. related to, born of) the (i.e. your) faith.” R.V. renders “joy in the faith.” But cp. Romans 15:13, χαρὰἐν τῷ πιστεύειν, where joy appears as one of the bright issues of personal faith. Ἡ πίστις in the sense of creed, the truth believed (Judges 1:3, and perhaps 20), is rarely (at most) to be found in St Paul. 1 Tim. gives the most probable examples of it; cp. 1 Timothy 3:9, 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Timothy 4:6, 1 Timothy 5:8, 1 Timothy 6:10; 1Ti_6:21. Even there it is difficult to explain the word as only objective; it may rather mean the believer’s apprehension of the revealed truth. See Ellicott on Galatians 1:23.

Connect both προκοπὴν and χαρὰν with πίστεως. He thinks of them as alike advancing and rejoicing in the believing life.


Verse 26

26. καύχημα. A favourite word with St Paul, and especially in Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians; a fact bearing on the date of this Epistle. See Introduction, ch. ii. Καύχημα is an act of exultation, of glorying; or otherwise (see Lightfoot on Galatians 6:4) a ground for exultation, as distinct from καύχησις, the exultation itself. This distinction however must not be over-drawn, as there is a tendency, in later Greek especially, to blend the meanings of nouns in -μα and -σις.

περισσεύῃ. Again a favourite word with St Paul, and in the Epistles named in the last note.

ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. The “glorying,” like all the actions of the Christian’s spirit, was to be conditioned by his life in Christ.

ἐν ἐμοὶ. Here ἐν doubtless means “in the case of,” “on occasion of.” Cp. Galatians 1:24, and (a close parallel) 2 Thessalonians 1:4, ὥστε ἡμᾶςἐν ὑμῖν καυχᾶσθαι. This variation in the rendering of ἐν (see last note) is not capricious. The phrase ἐν Χριστῷ was, so to speak, stereo-typed in its reference to the mystical Union; this phrase was familiar in another reference. St Paul was to be their occasion of “glorying,” because his restoration to them would be an example of their Lord’s faithful love to them.

διὰ τῆς ἐμῆς παρουσίας πάλιν πρὸς ὑμᾶς. We may paraphrase, “through my return (πάλιν, rursus) to you and presence with you.” R.V., “through my presence with you again.” Yet the A.V., “by my coming to you again,” is probably better as a short rendering. Παρουσία is literally “presence,” but by usage it often denotes a coming into presence, so as almost to absorb the thought of “presence” in that of “coming.” Cp. e.g. 1 Thessalonians 4:16, where the subject is the great παρουσία τοῦ κυρίου, the hope of the Church.


Verse 27

27. ΄όνον. “Only”; a word of corrective caution, as if to say, “Whether I come to you or not, remember the call to a holy and united life; let not that vary for you with my nearness or distance.” ΄όνον is similarly used Galatians 5:13, ἐπʼ ἐλευθερίᾳ ἐκλήθητεμόνον μὴ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν εἰς ἀφορμὴν τῇ σαρκί: and see 2 Thessalonians 2:7.

πολιτεύεσθε. Properly, “live your citizen-life.” By usage the verb sometimes means little more than ἀναστρέφεσθαι, with no articulate reference to πόλις: e.g. in the “long recension” (dated by Lightfoot cent. iv.) of the Ignatian Epistles, ad Trall. IX., we have the words ὁ Λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐπολιτεύσατο ἄνευ ἁμαρτίας. (And see other instances in Suicer.) But in the only two places where it occurs in Biblical Greek before N. T. (2 Maccabees 6:1; 2 Maccabees 11:25) it seems to carry the notion of a common or corporate course of life; and so perhaps Acts 23:1, the only other N. T. instance of its use: St Paul there is speaking, probably, of his “life” not from the individual point only but as a member of the Church of Israel. Lightfoot here says, “though πολιτεύεσθαι is used very loosely at a later date, at this time it seems always to refer to public duties devolving on a man as a member of a body.” Here such a reference is entirely in point; he is about to speak emphatically of the duty of common principles and action at Philippi. See below the kindred noun πολίτευμα, Philippians 3:20, and note. The verb occurs in Polycarp’s Ep. to the Philippians, ch. v., ἐὰν πολιτευσώμεθα ἀξίως [τοῦ κυρίου].

The “conversation” of the A.V. here represents the Vulg. conversamini, and means not mutual speech only, but the whole course and intercourse of life; a meaning surviving still in “conversant.”

ἵνα εἴτε ἐλθὼν καὶ ἰδὼν ὑμᾶς εἴτε ἀπὼν ἀκούω κτλ. More regularly he might have written ἵνα εἴτε ἐλθὼν καὶ ἰδὼν ὑμᾶς, εἴτε ἀπὼν καὶ ἀκούων τὰ περὶ ὑμῶν, γνῶ ὅτι κτλ. The irregularity of compression still leaves the thought perfectly clear.—Here, as below (Philippians 2:12) he is anxious to disengage them from an undue dependence on his personal and present influence; the last thing he wishes is to be necessary to them, as only Jesus Christ should and could be.

στήκετε. Στήκω is “a late present, formed from ἕστηκα, perf. of ἵστημι” (Lidd. and Scott, s.v.). It does not appear before N. T., and Suicer gives no patristic example. It is used by the Byzantine writers. In N. T. it occurs eight times; here, and Philippians 4:1 below; Mark 11:25; Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 5:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:15. In Mar. (ὅταν στήκητε προσευχόμενοι) it means “to stand” simply; in all the other cases the meaning “to stand fast” is in point.

ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι. For the precise phrase see 1 Corinthians 12:13, ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματιἐβαπτίσθημεν: Ephesians 2:18, ἔχομεν τὴν προσαγωγὴν οἱ ἀμφότεροι ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι. In both these places the reference appears to be to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, “in” whom the saints have been imbued with new life, “in” whom they approach the Father, as living members of the Son. We may therefore explain this place also of Him, as the Divine atmosphere, as it were, of life and power. In all three places manifestly the point of ἑνὶ is that the One Agent must have His counterpart in the oneness of those who are filled with Him.

μιᾷ ψυχῇ. “With one soul”; so Tindale and ‘Cranmer’; Vulg. unanimes. With the expression cp. Philippians 2:2, σύμψυχοι, τὸ ἒν φρονοῦντες, and Philippians 2:20, ἰσόψυχον. Cp. Acts 4:32, τοῦ πλήθουςἦνἡ ψυχὴ μία. It is possible that the word πνεῦμα here suggested the word ψυχή to the Apostle, by the law of association (see Isaiah 57:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12). And if so he probably used the two words in a significant connexion. Ψυχή in Scripture appears often to indicate life embodied. We have then here first the Life-Giver, the One Πνεῦμα, and then the result and manifestation of His living presence, the organization and embodiment of it, as it were, in the one ψυχή of the believing company.

συναθλοῦντες. So below, Philippians 4:3, and nowhere else in N. T. Ἆθλος (contracted from the Epic ἄεθλος) is a contest, in sport or battle, and ἆθλον (ἄεθλον) the victor’s prize. The Greek “athletic” games suggested many metaphors to St Paul; e.g. 1 Corinthians 9:24; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:7. See Appendix L. And cp. Conybeare and Howson, Life &c. of St Paul, ch. xx., at the beginning. But here this reference, if present at all, is quite subordinate to the general one of a close wrestling with complex obstacles.

τῇ πίστει. Lightfoot renders “in concert with the faith,” and compares συγχαίρει τῇ ἀληθείᾳ (1 Corinthians 13:6); συγκακοπάθησον τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ (2 Timothy 1:8). But such a personification of “the faith” is so bold as to demand special support from the context. And here the whole emphasis lies on the Christians’ co-operation with one another.

τῇ πίστει τοῦ εὐαγγελίου. “For the faith in the Gospel”; the faith which embraces it. (Cp. πίστις ἀληθείας, 2 Thessalonians 2:13.) They were to “strive together” to promote belief in the message of their Lord. Τῇ πίστει may otherwise be taken as the instrumental dative; “with the faith,” as your weapon with which to confront the foe; cp. 1 Peter 5:9, ᾧ ἀντίστητε στερεοὶ τῇ πίστει. For the reasons against explaining τῇ πίστει of the Christian’s creed, see above on Philippians 1:25.


Verses 27-30

27–30. ENTREATIES TO CHERISH CONSISTENCY, AND ESPECIALLY UNITY, MORE THAN EVER NOW IN HIS ABSENCE


Verse 28

28. πτυρόμενοι. “Scared.” The verb (akin to πτοέω) appears to occur here only in the whole range of Biblical Greek. In (later) classical Greek it is used of the starting or “shying” of frightened animals, and thence of alarm in general, as in the Axiochus (attributed to Plato) 370 A, οὐκ ἄν ποτε πτυρείης τὸν θάνατον. The word would well suit the situation of the “little flock” in violent Philippi.

ἥτις. The feminine of the pronoun is “attracted” by ἔνδειξις. The ἔνδειξις would be given by the union and quiet courage of the saints in face of seemingly hopeless odds. No doubt the followers of a mistaken idea may be united and resolute. But the Apostle does not say that the Philippians’ conduct would logically prove the truth of the Gospel, to themselves or others. He says that it would be a practical “indication,” an omen, of the ruin of the foes and the triumph of the disciples of the Truth. The more the Church acted in the spirit of calm, united decision, the more the coming issue of the conflict would be realized on both sides.

ἐστὶν αὐτοῖς ἔνδειξις ἀπωλείας, ὑμῶν δὲ σωτηρίας. So probably read; see critical note. T. R., αὐτοῖς μέν ἐστιν ἔνδ. ἀπωλ., ὑμῖν δὲ κτλ., seems to be a transcriber’s re-writing of the less balanced original. Reading ὑμῶν, not ὑμῖν, the ἔνδειξις may be taken on both hands to affect “the adversaries”—“Which to them is an indication of destruction, but of your salvation.” But the following context (see notes just below) suggests that the Apostle’s thought is rather as the T. R. interprets it.

ἀπώλεια. In its deepest and most awful sense; the eternal loss and ruin of all persistent opponents of God and His truth. So below, Philippians 3:19; and always in N. T., except only Matthew 26:8; Mark 14:4, where the word means waste, spoiling (of the precious oil).

σωτηρία. See on Philippians 1:19 above. The prospect of final glory is “indicated” the more vividly as the disciples unite more firmly and lovingly around, and in, the cause of their Lord.

καὶ τοῦτο ἀπὸ θεοῦ. Τοῦτο of course does not refer properly to σωτηρία, which would require αὕτη (cp. διὰ πίστεως, καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, Ephesians 2:8), but to the fact connected with it—the “indication” of its approach through the disciples’ conduct in the Christian conflict. That they were enabled to meet the enemy thus, and that their heavenly hope was thus reinforced—all this was a gift, a token, “from God.”


Verse 29

29. ὅτιἐχαρίσθη. The link of thought (ὅτι) is that their trying circumstances, and the benefits of them, were, as he has just hinted, no evil, but a gift of love (ἐχαρίσθη) from their Divine Friend.

ὑμῖν. Slightly emphatic by position. As if to say, “Yes, it is you whose ‘salvation’ is thus ‘indicated,’ whatever doubts and fears your trials may suggest.” They were to take fully home the concealed token of final blessing.

ἐχαρίσθη. The verb denotes specially a grant of free favour, and thus often the grant of gratuitous forgiveness, as 2 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 2:10; Ephesians 4:32; sometimes the work of free grace and salvation at large, as Romans 8:32; 1 Corinthians 2:12. (In Acts 3:14, ᾐτήσασθε ἄνδρα φονέα χαρισθῆναι ὑμῖν, we still have the word used of a grant “free” in the sense of its being arbitrary, extra-legal.)

τὸ ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ. The article τὸ is explained when we see that the sentence rose first in the writer’s mind thus:—ὑμῖν ἐχαρίσθη τὸ ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ πάσχειν, “To you was given the boon of suffering for Christ.” Then, with characteristic wealth of thought, he brought in also the boon of faith in Christ; and the present somewhat complex grammar is the result, in which the words οὐ μόνον τὸ εἰς αὐτὸν πιστεύειν ἀλλὰ καὶ are parenthetical, and ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ redundant.

εἰς αὐτὸν πιστεύειν. The phrase indicates the directness and intensity of saving faith; not that this explanation is to be pressed everywhere, for see e.g. John 2:23, where the ἐπίστευσαν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ refers to a faith not wholly satisfactory.—Faith in Christ is here incidentally viewed as a gift of Divine grace. See Ephesians 2:8, and note in the Camb. Bible for Schools.

ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ πάσχειν. Alike the call, and the power, to “suffer for Him” were a glorious boon; not only because of the coming results in glory (Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 4:13), but because of the profound communion with the Crucified Lord conveyed in and with the suffering.


Verse 30

30. τὸν αὐτὸν ἀγῶνα ἔχοντες. The participle, with its nominative, is out of construction with the ὑμῖν of Philippians 1:29, and in construction with the πτυρόμενοι of Philippians 1:28. So that, grammatically, the words from ἥτις ἐστὶν to πάσχειν must be reckoned parenthetical. But the thought of Philippians 1:29 glides into that of Philippians 1:30 supra grammaticam.

ἀγῶνα. The word (originally meaning a gathering (ἄγω), as at the Greek sports) slightly suggests the athletic arena, and thus echoes συναθλοῦντες above (Philippians 1:27). It recurs Colossians 2:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 12:1. The word ἀγωνία is used of our blessed Lord’s great “Wrestling” in the Garden, Luke 22:44. The ἀγών here obviously is the strife of faith and patience against persecuting violence.

ἀγῶνα ἔχοντες. For the phrase see Colossians 2:1, ἡλίκον ἀγὼνα ἔχω ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν. The verb in such a connexion comes nearly to mean “feeling,” “experiencing.” Cp. 2 Corinthians 1:9, ἐν ἑαυτοῖς κατάκριμα τοῦ θανάτου ἐσχήκαμεν for a somewhat similar use of ἔχειν.

εἴδετε. In the streets and court-house at Philippi, Acts 16.

ἀκούετε. In the Roman prison. He appeals to them with the magic power of a leader in suffering.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Philippians 1:1". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". "http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/view.cgi?bk=php&ch=1". 1896.

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