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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Philippians 1

 

 

Verse 1

Philippians Chapter 1

Philippians 1:1,2 Paul saluteth the Philippians,

Philippians 1:3-7 and testifieth his thankfulness to God for their

uninterrupted fellowship in the gospel,

Philippians 1:8 his affection for them,

Philippians 1:9-11 and prayers for their spiritual improvement.

Philippians 1:12-20 He informeth them that his bonds at Rome had turned

out to the advancement of the gospel: which many were

thereby induced to preach, though with different views,

Philippians 1:21-24 that, considering how serviceable his life might be

to the cause of Christ, though for himself it were

happier to die, he was doubtful in his choice,

Philippians 1:25,26 but that he knew he should soon be at liberty to

visit them again for their comfort,

Philippians 1:25-30 He exhorteth them to walk worthy of their profession,

and to be steady and unanimous in the faith, for

which they had already been fellow sufferers with him.

Paul and Timotheus; i.e. the author and approver, intimating the good agreement between Paul and Timothy, whom they well knew, to gain their fuller assent to what should be written, Matthew 18:16: see 1 Corinthians 1:1 2 Corinthians 1:1.

The servants of Jesus Christ; in a special manner being wholly and perpetually dedicated to his more immediate service in the ministry of reconciliation, Acts 13:2 Romans 1:1 1 Corinthians 4:1 2 Corinthians 5:18 Galatians 1:1 James 1:1.

To all the saints in Christ Jesus; i.e. all the community of church members at Philippi, called out of the world to Christ, sanctified, separated, and dedicated to him, by a credible profession of faith in him and obedience to him, 1 Corinthians 1:2 Ephesians 1:1 Colossians 1:2; the apostle now being well persuaded of their perseverance, Philippians 1:6,7.

With the bishops and deacons: from the Syriac version it is rendered presbyters and ministers. And there appears no cogent reason why we should not adhere to the exposition of ancient and modern interpreters, who understand the apostle writing in the plural number, particularly, to the church and her officers living in this city, as meaning the two orders of ordinary standing officers, which are appointed for the church, and not the church for the officers. By the former of which are meant such pastors and teachers as did agree in name, office, and power with the bishops during the apostles' times, as they collect from several other scriptures besides this, compared together, viz. Acts 20:17,20,25,28, with Acts 11:30 1 Corinthians 4:1 12:28 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13 1 Timothy 3:1-8 5:17 Titus 1:5,7 Heb 13:17 James 5:14 1 Peter 5:1,3 3 John 1:1,9: these, whether bishops or elders, having the oversight, rule, guidance, feeding of the people, preaching of the word, and administration of the sacraments or mystical ordinances of the gospel, committed to them in common. By the latter, those to whom the special care was committed for serving of tables, the Lord's table and the poor's, together with a receiving and orderly disposing and distributing the collected alms and other goods of the church given to pious uses, according to their own discretion, taking advice of the pastors, for the support and benefit of the poor members of the church who needed as to this temporal life, to orphans, widows, yea, and strangers, especially of the household of faith, that their bodily necessities might be supplied, Acts 6:2, &c. with Romans 12:7,8 Ro 15:25-27 16:1 1 Corinthians 12:28 2 Corinthians 9:1,2,12 1 Timothy 3:8, with 1 Peter 4:11 Galatians 6:10,11 Php 2:1,25,30, with Philippians 4:18 Jude 1:12. "But two learned doctors amongst us have opposed this and made it difficult, the one by restraining the word bishops to diocesans, and the other by enlarging the word deacons to note their presbyters. He would have no such order of presbyters as now in the apostles' days; this would have deacons then to be only temporary, not standing officers in the church; and so they agree not. The former finding Clement and Polycarp agreed with the apostle here, as to two distinct orders of bishops and deacons, going upon an unproved supposition that Philippi was then a metropolis, he would, without any satisfactory evidence to one that doubted, infer the bishops here were diocesans; however, the forementioned scriptures compared, all prove the words bishop and elder in the apostles' days, to be used promiscuously, only the word elders, or presbyters, more frequently than that of bishops; conceiving that the office of presbyters was not in use till after-ages, though he assigns not the time how and when it came in. So that in effect he would have Philippi to be a mother church (that then had several daughter churches) in her infancy. Whereas the apostle writes to those who were church officers in that city, yet he would have them none of that order which we now call presbyters; thinking, whatever the apostle writes of laying on the hands of the presbytery, there were then no presbyters ordained in the church: which is a singular opinion, of holding all the places in the New Testament where presbyters are named, precisely to intend diocesan bishops in distinction from them who are only deacons, allowing the office of deacons, and the continuance of it, to be appointed therein, when that of elders (acknowledged to be superior) is not. But if, according to this novel tenet, there were not then preaching presbyters, that were not metropolitans or diocesans, how could diocesans have presbyters under them? And if they had none, what should denominate them properly diocesans? When it seems to be of the formal reason of a diocesan, to be chosen out of presbyters, or to have them to govern. And if the diocesan bishops were then as the apostles, who must the pastors and teachers be? 1 Corinthians 12:28,29 Eph 4:11,12. Exhorting, teaching, ruling were then present offices, which the apostles ordained in every church, Acts 14:23. Cenchrea was no diocess or metropolis, neither was Aquila's and Priscilla's house, Romans 16:3,4 1 Corinthians 16:19, yet are said to be churches, in the plural number, 1 Corinthians 14:33,34. If metropolitical or diocesan, how hath not the Scripture the name or thing? This appears not to be agreeable to the apostle's way who writes particularly to churches in cities, towns, and countries, as to the Hebrews. He distinguisheth Thessalonica, in directions from Macedonia and Achaia, 1 Thessalonians 1:7,8; Colosse and Laodicea, Colossians 4:13. And as there were bishops, plural, in this city of Philippi, so more doing the office in Thessalonica. 1 Thessalonians 5:12, which was in Macedonia too. And would it not look oddly: Ye Christians of Macedonia are examples to all the Christians of Macedonia? In Colosse were more bishops or presbyters, because there is mention made of Epaphras and Archippus, Colossians 4:12,17. And would it not appear strange, when they were charged, upon persons being sick, to send for the elders of the church, to conclude the intent of the injunction was to send for all the diocesans of the metropolis? James 5:14. If so he would likely have enjoined them to have called the elders of the churches, not of the church, of which, in the singular, at Jerusalem Paul and Barnabas were received, and of the apostles and elders, Acts 15:4, who were all present at Jerusalem, Acts 21:18, which, under the Roman power, was not the metropolis of Palestine, but Caesarea was chief. The latter, contradictory to the former doctor, and to the office of the Church of England for ordaining of deacons, would have the term deacons to note the order of presbyters, looking upon deacons only as temporary and occasional trustees, whose office Paul in his Epistle did not so much as hint, thinking it unreasonable by deacon in those Epistles to understand any other office than that of presbyters as now used. Whereas the word deacons being analogous and put absolutely here, in contradistinction to bishops, should, according to right reason, be expounded in the most famous and distinctive signification, wherein, no doubt, Luke, a good Grecian, and Paul's companion at Philippi, used it in the Acts, {Acts 6:3,4, &c.} written after this Epistle; unto which special import we should rather understand Paul using it here, for those who were not mere occasional and prudential temporary officers, but such as were to abide in the church: wherein, upon the multiplying of disciples, the bodily necessities of the poor saints, always with us, John 12:8, did require such who should have the peculiar care of these committed to them, Acts 20:34,35. We find the apostle in his Epistles evidently enough appointing and describing such a special ministry, yea, and giving directions about it as a distinct branch from prophecy and teaching, if we compare places, Romans 12:6-8, with Romans 15:26,27 16:1 2 Corinthians 8:19 9:1,2,12; and what is said in this Epistle, Philippians 2:25,30 4:18; answerable to Luke's history of the Acts, and to what is written by Peter, 1 Peter 4:11; taking in what Paul wrote to Timothy about this office, in distinction from his who was to be apt to teach, that he should be grave, temperate, giving proof of freedom from covetousness, of conversation blameless, having a faithful wife, and governing his family (that he may be hospitable) orderly, 1 Timothy 3:8-13, qualified to distribute, as in the texts forementioned, &c. The Church of England, in her ordination, hath reference to this special office, when yet it calls deacons, ministers; declaring there, 'It appertains to the deacon's office to assist the presbyter in distribution of the elements, gladly and willingly to search for the poor, sick, and impotent, that they may be relieved. Praying that they may be modest, humble, and constant in their ministration.'"


Verse 2

The evangelical salutation, as Romans 1:7 Ephesians 1:2 2 Peter 1:2; praying for the free and undeserved favour of God the Father to them, as the fountain, James 1:17 together with all inward and outward blessings, flowing thence through Christ the procurer of them.


Verse 3

As in most of his Epistles, {viz. Romans 1:8 1 Corinthians 1:4 2 Corinthians 1:3 Ephesians 1:3 Colossians 1:3 1 Thessalonians 1:2 2 Thessalonians 1:3 2 Timothy 1:3} he begins with thanks to God; and here,

my God, i.e. whose I am, and whom I serve in the gospel of his Son, Acts 27:23, with Romans 1:9, whom the Jews and Gentiles do not so acknowledge.

Upon every remembrance of you; intimating that he ever bore them upon his heart to God with delight.


Verse 4

As in praising of God, the Author of all that grace they had received, in every solemn prayer, so in continuing his fervent and assiduous requests unto God always, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, for them all: the term all being used three times emphatically: compare Luke 2:37 Romans 1:9.


Verse 5

Your being joined with us and other Christians in the communion of Christ, and glad tidings of salvation by him, 1 Corinthians 10:16,17 1 Peter 4:13 1 John 1:3,7; evidenced by the communication of your bounty, Galatians 6:6 Hebrews 13:16; your stedfastness and perseverance in all Christian duties from the first time of your receiving the gospel.


Verse 6

Being confident of this very thing; i.e. having thanked God for what he had done and did for them, he expresseth his firm persuasion and charitable hope of their perseverance for the future.

That he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it; not from any thing in themselves more than others, but because God the Father, (who is not weary of well-doing), having begun the work of faith in them Philippians 2:13, with John 6:29, who else were dead in sins, as the Ephesians, Ephesians 2:1, he would preserve and carry on that internal and spiritual work in the fruits of real Christians, and not leave it imperfect, Psalms 138:8 Isaiah 64:8; but would make it perfect, or perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle them in it, those words being of the same import in Scripture with perform it, connoting the difficulty of it.

Until the day of Jesus Christ; i.e. either until the day of their death, when the spirits of just men are made perfect, and Christ appears to their particular judgment, Hebrews 12:23, not as being perfect while here in this state, Philippians 3:12; or rather, until the day of Christ, or latter day, at judgment, 1 Corinthians 1:8 1 Thessalonians 4:15; when they shall be acknowledged to be blameless, to the glory of Christ, who hath carried them through all, and fullfilled the work of faith in them, and glorified them, 2 Thessalonians 1:11, and who are his glory, 2 Corinthians 8:23.


Verse 7

Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all; i.e. consonant to the law of equity and charity, Acts 4:19 1 Corinthians 13:7 Colossians 4:1, with 2 Peter 1:13. It behoves me to pass this judgment on you all, upon good grounds.

Because I have you in my heart; not barely in that he had them as it were engraved upon his heart, 2 Corinthians 3:2,3 7:3; for he could live and die with them, whom he did continually present unto God (as before).

Inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation if the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace; but in that (for which they had gotten so much of his cordial affection) they were co-partners with him in the like precious faith, 2 Peter 1:1; and holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, Hebrews 3:1; as children of light, 1 Thessalonians 5:5; walking in faith and love, 2 Thessalonians 1:3; maintaining the communion of saints, in showing the reality of the same grace with him, in that, as Philippians 1:29, it was given to them in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. Which he reckoned they did in compassionately and seasonably supporting and relieving of him in his imprisonment, whereby the gospel was defended, and what he had preached of it was confirmed, by his becoming a real patron of it, in holding fast the profession and ratifying the confession of his faith, in glorying that he was counted worthy to suffer them for the name of Christ, Acts 5:41 1 Peter 4:15,16; wherein they did by all honest means succour him, and showed themselves companions with him, Philippians 4:14 Hebrews 10:33.


Verse 8

Confirming what he had before written, he appeals to God in the heavens, who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins, as in some other Epistles, Romans 1:9 2 Corinthians 1:23, with 2 Corinthians 11:31 Galatians 1:20 1 Thessalonians 2:5,10; and as Job, Job 16:19; by making a solemn protestation, or oath, to put the matter out of doubt, Hebrews 6:16, and giving them assurance, (as he lawfully might in this way for God’s glory, and their good, Deuteronomy 6:13), of the sincerity and intenseness of his hearty affections towards every one of them, Philippians 2:26 4:1 with 2 Corinthians 9:14.

In the bowels of Jesus Christ; not out of any carnal, selfish, or worldly respects; but a really Christian, spiritual, and tender love, seated in the inward parts of this sanctified apostle, Jeremiah 31:33; by the same Spirit that united him unto Christ, who loves his spouse with no common love, but is the spring and procurer, and great exemplar, of that affectionate Christian love, which, like him, they are to exert from the very root of their hearts, purely, unfeignedly, and fervently, without dissimulation, Romans 12:9 1 Peter 1:22; imitating God and Christ, {Luke 1:78} as Paul here, in the highest degree of dearest affection, did love the Philippians, and elsewhere the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 2:7,8,11.


Verse 9

And this I pray: having praised God for their attainments, he returns, {as Philippians 1:4} in token of his love, to his great petition for them.

That your love may abound; viz. that their love both to God and man, showed in their bounty to him, might, as a rising stream from its springing fountain, yet further flow out, and more abundantly communicate itself in all Christian offices, and not abate, (as it seems it afterwards did among the Ephesians, Revelation 2:4), as our Saviour foretold it would (to in some, Matthew 24:12, {see 2 Timothy 1:13 2 Timothy 4:10} but continue increasing to the end, 1 Thessalonians 3:12.

Yet more and more in knowledge; being founded on a sound and saving understanding of the things of God, and ourselves, John 17:3 Romans 3:20 Ephesians 1:17, with Ephesians 4:13 2 Peter 3:18; and an acknowledgment of the truth which is after godliness, Titus 1:1.

And in all judgment; in the practical judgment, or internal sense, and particular experience, taste, and feeling the testimony of the Spirit in the heart concerning the grace of God, and adoption, Romans 5:1,5 8:16,17 14:17; when there is not only a right notion in the head, but a true sense and savour of spiritual things in the heart, Hebrews 5:14; which is when knowledge is not only an empty cloud in the air, but becomes effectual by falling down in a kindly shower upon the heart, warmed with the love of God, and the virtue of Christ’s resurrection, as he after gives his own experience, Philippians 3:10, like David’s, Psalms 34:8.


Verse 10

i.e. To the ends he subjoins, namely, that ye may approve things that are excellent; that upon a due expense of circumstances in a judicious trial, upon rightly discerning the differences of things not obvious to every eye, so as to choose and approve those things that are really to be preferred, being the best, Romans 2:18 1 Thessalonians 5:21 surpassing all desirable things besides, Ephesians 3:19, as being most acceptable unto God, Romans 12:2.

That ye may be sincere; and be upright, Proverbs 11:20. It is all emphatical word in the original here, being borrowed either from such things as are tried by being held up at the beams of the sun to see What faults or flaws are in them, whether without fraud, or else from such as are clarified by the heat of the sun; and notes here, that Paul would have them to be uncorrupt and impartial in heart and life, in faith and manners; free from prevailing corruptions, of pure minds, 2 Peter 3:1; purged from the old leaven, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; not suffering the knowledge of Christ to be mixed with traditions and human inventions, but endowed with evangelical simplicity in the sight of God, 2 Corinthians 1:12 1 Timothy 1:5 5:22.

And without offence; not erring from the main scope and design of Christianity, or stumbling, so as either actively or passively to trouble and offend either themselves or others in the heavenly course, but working so prudently, as to give no just occasion of scandal, or laying a snare for one or other, Matthew 18:7 Acts 24:16 1 Corinthians 10:32; abiding blameless to the coming of Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

Till the day of Christ: see on Philippians 1:6; repeated here to engage them unto serious thoughtfulness of that day.


Verse 11

Being filled with the fruits of righteousness; i.e. not only bringing forth some single, yea, or singular fruit, but replenished, plurally, with the fruits of righteousness, Acts 9:36 Colossians 1:10; elsewhere called the fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22 Ephesians 5:9; in all goodness and truth, as well as righteousness. These are such good works as are not (whatever the papists conceive) causal of righteousness, but are, through the Spirit, (who regenerates the persons, and directs the internal and external actions of those who walk in the steps of the faith of their father Abraham, Romans 4:12), wrought by supernatural grace in the heart joined unto the Lord, with whom they are one spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:17.

Which are by Jesus Christ; and without whom, from their own stock and strength, till they be ingrafted into him, John 15:1,5, trees of righteousness, of the Lord’s planting, Isaiah 61:3, and his workmanship, created unto good works, Ephesians 2:10, they cannot bring forth fruits, and do such good works as are acceptable unto God, 2 Corinthians 13:5; but Christ living and dwelling in them by faith, Galatians 2:20 Ephesians 3:17, and God working in them both to will and to do, Philippians 2:13, they can do all through Christ, Philippians 4:13, so that they shall be accepted in him.

Unto the glory and praise of God; not being empty vines, bringing forth fruit to themselves, Hosea 10:1, but to the eternal honour of him who hath called them, Matthew 5:16 1 Corinthians 10:31 Ephesians 1:6,12,14 1 Peter 2:12 1 Peter 4:11 Revelation 5:13.


Verse 12

But I would ye should understand, brethren: to obviate the insinuations which false teachers and others might make use of from Paul’s sufferings, to obstruct the cordial entertainment of those glad tidings he had brought, and to discourage those who did obey the truth, he doth by this friendly compellation (which he often useth) kindly entreat them to consider well,

that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; that his imprisonment, and what other troubles from without did befall him in his apostolical office, whereby the overruling providence of God so ordered, that they did (contrary to the intention of his persecutors) rather advantage than hinder the progress of the gospel, increase than decrease the church, since he had opportunity two years, in his own hired house, of teaching with freedom the things of Christ, Acts 28:30,31; whereupon he would not have the Philippians discouraged, but rather comforted, as the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 1:5-7: for:

1. His iron chain in the cause of Christ was more an honour to him, even in the emperor’s court, Philippians 4:22, or guard chamber, Acts 28:16, or judgment hall, Matthew 27:27 Mark 15:16 John 18:28,33; than those glittering golden ones which others were ambitious to wear, Acts 5:41 James 2:2; it being apparent there, and elsewhere, to courtiers, citizens, Jews, and foreigners, that he did not suffer as an evil-doer, 1 Peter 2:19,20 3:14; only for the Lord’s sake, Ephesians 3:1 4:1; whose power in his confinement did work in and by him, who approved himself faithful, which, when inquiry was made concerning his suffering, gave occasion to communicate some notions of Christ, and glad tidings of salvation by him.


Verse 13

Ver. 13,14. And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds; and here again, contrary to the expectation of those persecutors, who designed to make havoc of the church, his innocent carriage and constancy in bearing the cross, had all influence upon the greater part of

the brethren (not according to the flesh, Romans 9:3, but) in the service of Christ.

Are much more bold to speak the word without fear; pastors, and teachers, who had been timorous at the first, were greatly imboldened to shake of carnal fear, and to profess and preach Christ crucified, or the cross of Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:18,23, which is the power of God to salvation, Romans 1:16, more confidently than ever; as he and Barnabas had done elsewhere, Acts 13:46; and as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who were but secret disciples before Christ’s sufferings, upon his death owned him openly for their Lord, Matthew 27:57, with John 19:39.


Verse 14

See Poole on "Philippians 1:13"


Verse 15

He doth here tacitly answer an exception which might be made; It were better some of them were silent, than preach so boldly as to procure him hatred, and lessen his reputation;

1. By granting there was somewhat in the allegation, yet it did not conclude against this, that his suffering was advantageous to promote the gospel.

2. By distinguishing of those who were hollow-hearted and false, from an envious principle, designing to disparage this excellent person, who having done much in the lesser Asia and Greece, did now, in the head city of the world, when in prison, also gain proselytes, courtiers and others, for the receiving of Christ; and those were sincere and true-hearted brethren, joining with him in the cause of Christ, and assisting him from true love to Christ, and him his apostle, to get the truth of Christianity entertained in the love of it. The former were evil works, both as to their principle and end, Philippians 3:2; the latter acted sincerely in both respects, 2 Corinthians 2:17.


Verse 16

This distinction he did amplify and explain here, by particularly showing the ill motive, manners, and end of the worst sort of preachers, from an ill affection of hatred, emulation, and wrath, 2 Corinthians 12:20 Galatians 5:20; with an intemperate zeal to render Paul suspected and despicable in the eyes of the church; and to occasion in the emperor a more severe persecution, and heighten the accusers’ rage against Paul, and to gain applause to themselves, and vex his soul under outward troubles.


Verse 17

Then intimating the genuine principle and good end of the better sort, who were moved from a prevailing affection to God, the edification and salvation of souls; cordially joining with Paul in carrying on the same design that he did, who was appointed of God, Acts 23:11 1 Thessalonians 3:3; both by doctrine and obedience, active and passive, to defend the gospel, unto which he was admirably called to be a minister, yea, and here a patron, Romans 1:1 Ephesians 3:7 with 1 Corinthians 1:1; and, as it were, to tread the devil under foot (as Tertullian speaks) in his own house. Intimating from all this, that however the former did with an ill mind, in man’s judgment, as circumstances then were with Paul, (some of which we are ignorant of), the latter with a pious desire, preach the gospel; yet the event proved, by the good hand of God, beneficial to promote the gospel: and so it may happen still, when some false brethren, moved by blind ambition and intemperate zeal, may snatch a weapon out of the gospel to vex good and godly pastors in their promulgation of it.


Verse 18

What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in, truth, Christ is preached: q.d. It doth not follow, that these different intentions of the preachers should hinder the spreading of the gospel, and therefore it should not abate either your confidence or mine in the cause of Christ, since, by the overruling providence of God, that is carried on, both by the one and the other; not only by those who in truth preach the word faithfully, Jeremiah 23:28 Matthew 22:16, from a principle of love, (as before), to the same good intent with myself; but also by those who, though they act (as in Philippians 1:15) out of envy and ill will to me, for base ends under a fair show, 1 Thessalonians 2:5, yet they occasionally and accidentally, not by any direct causality, do promote the interest of Christ.

And I therein do rejoice; and upon this account, that there is so good an effect, as the making known of Christ for the salvation of sinners, I have matter of present joy.

Yea, and will rejoice; yea, and hereupon for the future, though some should continue to do that in itself which might aggravate his affliction, yet it should not take his joy from him eventually; however directly and of itself it tend to it, yet indirectly and by accident, God disposing, it should issue well for the furtherance of the gospel.


Verse 19

He doth here further commend Timothy, compared with the generality of those who with him did attend the ministry of the gospel at Rome, where it seems (whatever the papists pretend) Peter did not then preside as metropolitan. When he saith

all, he doth not necessarily imply every individual besides Timothy, (though, as before, he knew not one like-minded as he was), but almost all, (as the universal sign is elsewhere synecdochically taken, Jeremiah 6:3 Matthew 10:22 Mark 1:5), or the most part of those then employed in the ministry, who were then at liberty, and whose inclinations, probably, he had inquired into.

Seek their own; did, though not simply and absolutely, yet after a sort, seek their own profit, ease, safety, pleasure, and satisfaction; called their own, in regard of their civil right, and the world’s opinion, but yet at God’s disposal, Haggai 2:8. These they did (as John Mark in another case) prefer to a long and tedious journey, for the service of Christ, unto Philippi.

Not the things which are Jesus Christ’s; so that they did postpone the glory of Christ, the safety and edification of the church there, to their own things. Wherefore he doth not mean it absolutely, that they did not seek the things For I know that this shall turn to my salvation: rendering a reason of what went before, (as the causal particle notes), he doth here oppose his knowledge to the envious preachers’ opinion, and his salvation to the affliction they did exercise him with; so that he was fully persuaded, that the trouble they had given, or should give to him, (though in the nature of the thing it had a tendency to take him off from the defence of the gospel, and so to hazard his soul, or, if he stood in defence of it, Nero would persecute him to death), would, upon sure ground, work for his good, Romans 8:28, even the great good, the salvation of his soul; yea, and for some time, {compare Philippians 1:25} the safely of his life here, Acts 27:34 Hebrews 11:7. His prison should be an ark to him resting on God’s promise, so that he could go on boldly and cheerfully in bearing his testimony to Christ with the helmet of salvation, Ephesians 6:17.

Through your prayer; having an interest in their prayers as a means of support, which he intimates they would continue to help him with, 2 Corinthians 1:11, as much as if he had downright asked an interest in them, Hebrews 13:18.

And the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ; yea, in the use hereof, that he might have a great measure of the Spirit, promised to those that ask him, Luke 11:13, he looks higher, not doubting but he shall have a renewed subsidy of grace continued to him from the same Spirit, which is in Christ Jesus his Head, Romans 8:9 Galatians 4:6; thereby he should be helped in his infirmities, Romans 8:26 1 Corinthians 12:11; and receive grace for grace, John 1:16, out of his fulness, who had not the Spirit by measure, John 3:34; whereupon, whatever his enemies conceited, he should have undersupplies secretly communicated, like those from the head to the members, which would be effectual and victorious to deliver him from every evil work, and preserve him to the heavenly kingdom, 2 Timothy 4:18.

of Christ, or that they did deny Christ, for it is apparent, even when he penned this Epistle, Philippians 1:13,14, with Acts 28:14,15, and Romans 1:8, there were many that did seriously seek Christ; but comparatively, and in a sort, they did not seek the things of Christ so intently as they should, 1 Corinthians 10:24,33, but failed as others did in other cases, Matthew 26:58 2 Timothy 4:16: not as if all minding of their own things were denied to Christ’s ministers, 1 Timothy 3:4,5 5:8; but they did slip their necks from under the yoke, and did not mind the glory of Christ in the church of Philippi, as he did.


Verse 20

According to my earnest expectation and my hope; he allegeth and explaineth the ground and certainty of his knowledge and persuasion of his enemies’ disappointment, and all succeeding well with him, trusting

in the living God, 1 Timothy 4:10, who in all death-threatening afflictions hath upon his word engaged himself to support all those that hope in his mercies, Psalms 33:18,19 37:7,9 Psa 147:11. Then be sure, when his sincere servants, assisted by his Spirit, wait for his deliverance with their necks stretched out, (as the word here notes), being raised from past experience, intensely and wistly looking for his appearance, shall be able each to say as the apostle intimates.

That in nothing I shall be ashamed; negatively, he shall not be left to do any thing which may justly bring him under reproach. His well-grounded hope would not make him ashamed. Romans 5:5, with Romans 8:25; but upon this account he shall have wherewith to answer him that should reproach him, Psalms 119:41,42,46 Lu 9:26 2 Timothy 1:12.

But that with all boldness; positively, that he should continue constant in a courageous owning of the truth, and acknowledging of his Lord every way, whether he was delivered from or to death.

As always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death; as in the former years of his ministry he had been supported, yea, and victorious, in freely speaking for Christ, preaching and defending of his gospel, Acts 9:27 Acts 14:3, with as much courage as any other, Acts 4:13,29,31, with 2 Corinthians 11:21 Galatians 6:17: so now he was humbly confident, in his present sad circnmstances, Christ should be magnified, (not that himself can become greater), i.e. before men, his glory should be rendered greater and more illustrious, and acknowledged with praise, whether he lived or died, Romans 14:8; yea, in the earthen vessel of his body, 2 Corinthians 4:11, (about which he was not solicitous, having resigned it entirely to Christ), either in his enlargement and preaching of the doctrine of Christ, or in his being offered up and sealing it by his martyrdom.


Verse 21

Some read it: For Christ is my gain in life and in death; or: For Christ is to me both in life and in death advantage. Both acknowledge it to be brought in as a reason of Paul’s hope in life and death; and of his indifferency, in submission to God’s pleasure, in life and death, intimating it was all one to him, so Christ was magnified in his body, whether it were by life or by death. They who follow our translation, do expound the proposition disjunctively; the former referring to the honour of Christ, and the latter to the salvation of Paul, which is understood by the name of gain. Some understand the former branch efficiently, q.d. I derive myself from Christ, unto whom I am united, he being the principle of it, as Galatians 2:20; but others rather objectively and finally, q.d. As I have hitherto made it the business of life to serve Christ in preaching his gospel, so, if he continues my life, I purpose that in my living body, by preaching his gospel, and suffering for his name, as he requireth, he shall be glorified. Then, for the latter branch, if I die, in bearing testimony to Christ, it will be gain to myself, in that I shall be with Christ, which is better for me, Philippians 1:23, being present with the Lord, 2 Corinthians 5:8, in whom my life is hid, Colossians 3:3. So that death would not impoverish, but enrich him. They who choose the latter reading, take the proposition conjunctively, to the sense that he accounted gain to him, to have the honour of Christ magnified in his body, whether it happened to him to live or die, since he faithfully served him living or dying, and owned himself to be his both ways, Romans 14:8. He was not (as he saith elsewhere, Acts 20:24) moved with accidentals; neither counted he his life dear to him to testify the gospel of the grace of God; reckoning he had no life, but from Christ, whom he made it his business to serve and enjoy; so that if he continued in the body, Christ would gain, in that he designed to spend his life for the edification of his church; and if he died in that cause, Christ would gain by his death, in that his truth would, by the blood of him, who was a martyr, be further sealed, and his interest promoted, and his glory advanced; and he himself would gain, since upon his departure he should be advanced to be with Christ, Philippians 1:23, who alone makes his faithful servants happy in life and death.


Verse 22

But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: some, from the various use of the Greek particles, render this first clanse interrogatively; But whether to live in the flesh were worth the while? Or more profitable? (understand, than to die). The apostle having intimated the equality and indifferency of his mind in an entire submission to the will of God, whether that glorifying of Christ by his life or that by his death were more eligible, is upon deliberation, finding the advantage to Christ and himself, upon expense of circumstances either way, in an equal balance, weighing one thing with another: living in the flesh, i.e. abiding here in this mortal body, which he thus expresseth by way of diminution, Galatians 2:20 1 Peter 4:1; in opposition to, and comparison of, dying for and in the Lord, and so being with him, Philippians 1:23.

Yet what I shall choose I wot not; he seems, loving the Philippians as himself, to be at a loss what to determine, if God should permit him his choice, whether by labouring in his ministry for rite good of their souls he should bring more fruit to Christ, or by suffering, that which would arise from the blood of a martyr, who himself should receive a crown, 2 Timothy 4:8.


Verse 23

For I am in a strait between two; because he knew not what to choose for the best, he was held in suspense, Luke 12:50 Acts 18:5, as one drawn both ways with weighty reasons, which he amplifies with respect to himself and the church, that Christ might be honoured in both: his love to the enjoyment of Christ and the edification of his members constraining him on each hand; the former was more delightful to him, and the latter more profitable for them.

Having a desire to depart; being held not only with a bare inclination, but an ardent and perpetually active desire, to loose from this clayey tabernacle, Psalms 42:1,2 Ec 12:7 Luke 2:29 12:36 2 Corinthians 5:1,4 2 Timothy 4:6: so to depart as to abide in a better place.

And to be with Christ; which is far better; upon being absent from the body to be present with Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:8, in paradise, Luke 23:43 1 Thessalonians 4:17; so to leave the body as to live with and enjoy him in heaven, is by far much better for me.


Verse 24

However, with respect to the church, by his staying here in this mortal body he persuades himself, knowing the subtlety of false apostles, who would enter in as grievous wolves, Acts 20:29, it was necessary to strengthen them and other churches in the faith of Christ.


Verse 25

And having this confidence; viz. being persuaded of what went immediately before, how useful the continuance of his life, for a further time in this world, would be to the church of Christ, and particularly to them, he determines (as should seem) with more than probable conjecture; though, upon supposition it should be otherwise, he gives them abundant satisfaction in their adhering to Christ, Philippians 1:27 2:17.

I know; even with a well grounded knowledge, either by a prophetic Spirit, from a particular revelation such as he had sometimes before had, Acts 16:9,10 23:11, or the sanctifying Spirit witnessing with his spirit, Romans 8:16, strengthening his faith and persuasion, helped by their faith and prayer, Philippians 1:19, compared with 1 Peter 1:8.

I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; to these ends, that, by his personal presence with them, he might by his ministry further their faith in Christ, their joy in the Holy Ghost, and more abundant glorying in the power of Jesus Christ, for his safety, and being restored to them, as we see in what follows; and Ephesians 4:1, with 2 Timothy 4:17, we find, from his first imprisonment at Rome, (when likely this Epistle was written), he was delivered, and for some years restored to the churches which he had planted.


Verse 26

Here, in confidence of being again with them, and staying with them, he expresseth an admirable affection to them, that he can be content for a time to be deprived of the glorious sight of Christ, that he might see and serve them, and that under persecution; that they might, upon his return to them, more abundantly glory together, not in themselves, but, Christian-like, in Christ Jesus, the author of that doctrine he had preached to them, the Captain of their salvation, and the common Head of Christianity.


Verse 27

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: q.d. In the mean time, whatever becomes of me, that which is for your part solely incumbent on you, who are brought into the fellowship of the gospel, is to demean yourselves truly agreeable to that state. The original phrase, as afterwards in this Epistle, Philippians 3:20 4:8, and elsewhere, Acts 23:1, imports, that their deportment should be answerable to their citizenship, that they should behave themselves as might be most to the public good of the society to which they do relate, not being of the world here, any more than their Head, John 15:19 17:16. Their course of life should be every way answerable to their high calling, Ephesians 4:1 Colossians 1:10 1 Thessalonians 2:12; bringing forth fruit meet for repentance.

That whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs; intimating, that it did behove them constantly to adorn the gospel, in the exercise of Christian courage, unanimity, and patience, as well when he was distaut from them, as when among them to oversee them: not as if he doubted of returning to them for their greater edification, but further to satisfy them as to his entire submission unto God’s pleasure on his journey, or at home, 2 Corinthians 5:6,8; and to excite them to shake off sloth, and to discharge their duty with all diligence, which would greatly cheer his heart.

That ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel:

1. By their stedfast endeavour after a sweet, close, holy, lasting union amongst themselves. For one spirit, one soul or mind, here seem to imply one understanding enlightened by the sanctifying Spirit, and one heart, as an inward, uniting principle, which must upon no temptation be changed: compare Philippians 2:2 3:16 4:2; with Romans 12:16 1 Corinthians 1:10 2 Corinthians 13:11 Ephesians 4:2,3 1 Peter 3:8; according to our Savior’s prayer. John 17:11,20-23, which was heard, Acts 1:14 2:16 4:32 5:12. Nor only by their union in heart and mind, but:

2. Their mutual helpfulness in action, as spiritual champions joining their forces together, for the defence of their royal charter, the maintenance of the main principles of Christianity, against all troublers of the church, and subverters of the evangelical faith, 1 Corinthians 9:24,25 Ga 5:13 Ephesians 6:14, with 2 Timothy 4:7.

3. A courageous spirit under sufferings from their most malignant gainsayers and persecutors, who do wittingly and willingly oppose the truth, and them professing of it, as Simon Magus and others did, Acts 8:18-21 1 Timothy 1:20 2 Timothy 1:15.


Verse 28

And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: the original word which the apostle useth, imports, they should not be appalled or affrighted, as men and horses are apt to be when furiously charged by their deadly enemies, but stoutly receive them, keeping their ground, Matthew 10:28 Luke 12:32.

Which is to them an evident token of perdition; considering, on the one hand, their most pertinacious rage, it is no other than an evident and convincing argmnent, or certain forerunner, of the adversaries’ utter ruin, Exodus 22:22-24 Romans 2:8,9 2 Thessalonians 1:5-9.

But to you of salvation; but, on the other hand, to sound believers, who behave themselves as becomes the gospel, a manifest demonstration of their everlasting welfare and glory, Matthew 5:10 Matthew 10:32,39 Ro 2:7,10 Eph 3:13 2 Thessalonians 1:6,7.

And that of God; by the disposal of the all-wise and righteous Governor, who may for a time permit his or his people’s adversaries to domineer, Job 1:12 Proverbs 16:4; but being a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Hebrews 11:6, will of his grace lenify the sharpness of the cross, enable believers to hold out against all the opposition of their enemies, make them partakers of his holiness, and bring them to glory, Hebrews 12:10,11 2 Timothy 2:11,12: which might abundantly comfort the Philippians, as others, Galatians 6:17.


Verse 29

For unto you it is given; he adds a further argument to move them unto that he had exhorted, from God’s freely bestowing, of his mere grace, what he had required of them.

In the behalf of Christ; upon the account of Christ’s merit and mediation; not that they could have either evangelical faith, or patience, by virtue of their own strength, Philippians 4:13.

Not only to believe on him; that they did not only believe Christ, but believe on him, was not from any power of their own, John 6:37,44, but of God’s free gift, Ephesians 2:8, as they had an instance amongst them in Lydia, Acts 16:14; unto her and others was this victorious grace of faith freely given by the hearing of the word, which was not unto many others that heard, Matthew 13:11 2 Thessalonians 3:2 Titus 1:1; and as the grace itself was given, so was the exercise of it.

But also to suffer for his sake; upon the account of Christ, patience was given; so that to suffer, here, doth not only import a power to suffer, but actual suffering; not only the habit of faith, but the act of believing, even as the fruits of trees at the first creation were produced, as well as the trees which had a power to bear them: wherefore, if, by the grace of God, and Spirit of faith, they were empowered actually to believe, Mark 9:24 1 Corinthians 15:10 2 Corinthians 4:13, having trust through Christ God-ward, 2 Corinthians 3:4; and upon the same account they were continually enabled to suffer, not simply, but in bearing testimony to Christ, Acts 5:41 1 Peter 3:14 4:16; they might be of good comfort and courage, to the daunting of their adversaries.


Verse 30

And be heartened to partake with him in the like trials he sustained when amongst them, Acts 16:19-24, and which he now was enduring at Rome, Philippians 1:13; an example of suffering unto them, if they would but await the blessed issue of his agony.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Philippians 1:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/philippians-1.html. 1685.


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