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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Philippians 4



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. Ὥστε. The word is frequent in St Paul to introduce an inference. He has now to infer much from the glorious data just stated.

ἀγαπητοὶ. A word characteristic of the Gospel of love, and used by all the apostolic writers. St Paul has it 27 times.

ἐπιπόθητοι. The word is found here only in N.T. Ἐπιποθεῖν is used not seldom in LXX. In this Epistle it occurs Philippians 1:6, Philippians 2:26; and ἐπιποθία, Romans 15:23, ἐπιποθίαν ἔχων τοῦ ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς: and ἐπιπόθνσις, 2 Corinthians 7:7; 2 Corinthians 7:11.

χαπὰ καὶ στέφανός μου. Cp. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, τίς γὰρ ἡμῶνχαρὰ ἤ στέφανος καυχήσεως; … ὑμεῖς ἐστὲ ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαπά: words addressed to the sister Macedonian Church. Here, as there, he is looking forward to the Lord’s Return, and to a joyful recognition of his converts then.

οὕτως. In the faith and in the practice just expounded.

στήκετε. For this verb see above, note on Philippians 1:27. Cp. 1 Corinthians 16:13, στήκετε ἐν τῇ πίστει: 1 Thessalonians 3:8, νῦν ζῶμεν, ἐὰν ὑμεῖς στήκετε ἐν κυρίῳ: and see Galatians 5:1.

ἐν κυρίῳ. In recollection and use of your vital union with Him, as your righteousness and your hope.

ἀγαπητοί. He can hardly say the last word of love.

Verse 2

2. ΕὐοδίανΣυντυχὴν. Both are feminine names (the bearers are referred to as women just below, Philippians 4:3), and both are known in the inscriptions. Lightfoot quotes (from the collections of Gruter and Muratori) e.g. Euhodia, Euodia, Syntyche, Suntyche, Syntiche. In Tindale and ‘Cranmer’ the second name appears as “Sintiches,” intended (like Euodias, shortened from Euodianus) to be masculine. But the inscriptions give neither Euodias nor Syntyches; this last would be at best a very doubtful variant for (the regular) Syntychus.

We know nothing of Euodia and Syntyche outside this passage. They may have been διάκονοι τῆς ἐκκλησίας (Romans 16:1); they had certainly given St Paul active help. Perhaps their high reputation had ensnared them in self-esteem and so led to mutual jealousy.—Lightfoot (Phil., pp. 55–57) points out that “the active zeal of the women [in the Macedonian missions] is a remarkable fact, without a parallel in the Apostle’s history elsewhere, and only to be compared with their prominence at an earlier date in the personal ministry of our Lord”; and that “the extant Macedonian inscriptions seem to assign to the sex a higher social influence than is common among the civilized nations of antiquity.” See above, Introduction, ch. i.

As a curiosity of interpretation Ellicott (see also Lightfoot, p. 170) mentions the conjectures of Schwegler (developed by Volkmar) that the two names are really designations of Church-parties, and were devised with a meaning: “Euodia,” “right-path,” is orthodoxy, i.e. Petrinism; Syntyche, “partner,” symbolizes the incorporation of the Gentiles, Paulinism. Of course this theory views the Epistle as a fabricated eirenicon, belonging to an after-generation.

Verse 3

3. ἐρωτῶ. “I beg”; as in our polite use of that word. In secular writers (and often in Biblical Greek) ἐρωτάω regularly means “to enquire,” “to question.” The meaning “to request” is very rare in secular Greek; occasional in LXX., and somewhat frequent in N.T., e.g. Luke 14:18, ἐρωτῶ σε, ἔχε με παρῃτημένον (the construction used here): John 14:16, ἐρωτήσω τὸν πατέρα: 1 Thessalonians 5:12, ἐρωτῶμεν ὑμᾶς εἰδέναι κτλ.

καὶ σέ. “Thee also,” as co-operating with St Paul.

γνήσιε σύνζυγε. “True yoke-fellow.” Vulg., te, germane compar, which Wyclif renders, “the german felowe,” i.e. “thee, genuine (germane) comrade.”—For the metaphor (σύζυγος) cp. 2 Corinthians 6:14, μὴ γίνεσθε ἑτεροζυγοῦντες ἀπίστοις.—Who was this person? One curious explanation is, St Paul’s wife[6]. So Clem. Alex., Strom. iii. p. 535 (Potter): ὁ Παῦλος οὐκ ὀκνεῖ ἔν τινι ἐπιστολῇ τὴν αὐτοῦ προσαγορεύειν σύζυγον, ἥν οὐ περιεκόμιζε κτλ. This is not only unlikely in itself, but γνήσιε is against it; “the uncertain gender of σύνζ. would cause γνήσιος to revert to three terminations” (Ellicott). Another suggestion is that σύνζ. is in fact a proper name, Σύνζυγος, belonging to some Philippian leader, and that St Paul describes him as “true to his name” (γνήσιε). Such a play on Ὀνήσιμος occurs Phlippians 1:11. But Syzygus does not occur as a name in inscriptions. Chrysostom suggests a husband or brother of one of the women; others, Timothy. Lightfoot advocates Epaphroditus, who would thus have this friendly commission given him in writing as well as orally. This is at least probable.

συνλαμβάνου αὐταῖς. “Help them”; obviously, the two Christian women. The word “help” happily suggests that they would themselves do their best for peace.—This open mention of a personal difficulty seems to indicate the modest and, so to speak, domestic scale of the Philippian community.

αἵτινες. Just more than αἵ: see above on ἅτινα, Philippians 3:7. R.V., well, “for they.”

συνήθλησάν μοι. So above, Philippians 1:27, συναθλοῦντες, where see the note. These two women had given earnest and energetic aid in St Paul’s work at Philippi; perhaps with special χαρίσματα (see Acts 21:9; cp. 1 Corinthians 11:5), or simply as instructors of other women, or in practical labours of love.

ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ. Cp. Philippians 1:5, Philippians 2:22, and below on Philippians 4:15.

μετά καὶ Κλήμεντος, κτλ. I.e., probably, Clement &c. were associated with them in the special “wrestling” to which St Paul refers. The words may of course mean that Clement &c. are asked to join the “yokefellow” in “helping” the two women (a view preferred in the note here in the Camb. Bible for Schools); but it seems less likely that St Paul would thus call in help from many quarters in a personal matter than that he should (with happy tact) pass from his allusion to the disagreement to expand his allusion to past labours in which the two persons at variance had joined.

Κλήμης. We cannot be sure of his identity; the name was common. Origen (in Joann. i. 29) identifies him with St Clement of Rome, whom he names as ὁ πιοτός Κλ. ὑπὸ Παύλου μαρτυρούμενος, quoting this passage. So Eusebius (H. E. iii. 4), Κλήμης τῆς Ῥωμαίωνἐκκλησίας τρίος ἐπίσκοποςΠαύλουσυναθλητὴς γεγονέναι πρὸς αὐτοῦ μαρτυρεῖται. So Jerome (Scriptt. Eccl.); not Chrysostom here. There is nothing impossible in this. But the dates of St Clement’s life and work are obscure in detail, and some evidence makes him survive till quite 120, more than half a century later than this. In his Ep. to the Corinthians (cp. 47) he makes most reverent mention of St Paul, but does not claim him as his personal chief.—See Lightfoot, Phil., p. 168.

τῶν λοιπῶν συνεργῶν μου. “The rest of my fellow workers,” at the time and in the circumstances here recalled.

ὧν τὰ ὀνόματα ἐν βίβλῳ ζωῆς. A βίβλος which God has written appears Exodus 32:31; Exodus 32:33; a βιβλος ζώντων, Psalms 68 (Heb., 69):33; ἡ βίβλος simply, Daniel 9:12; ἡ β. τῆς ζωῆς, Revelation 3:5; Revelation 20:15; τὸ βιβλίον τῆς ζ., Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 21:27. Cp. Isaiah 4:3; Ezekiel 13:9; Daniel 12:1. On the whole, in the light of these passages, St Paul seems here to refer to “the Lord’s knowledge of them that are His” (2 Timothy 2:19; cp. John 10:27-28), for time and eternity. All the passages in the Revelation, save Revelation 3:5, connect the phrase with the ultimate preservation of the saints; especially Revelation 13:8, Revelation 17:8; cp. Daniel 12:1 and Luke 10:20. Revelation 3:5 (οὐ μὴ ἐξαλείψω τὸ ὄνομα, κτλ.) seems to point another way (see Trench there, Seven Epistles). But compared with other passages, that sentence may be only a vivid assurance that the name shall be found in the (indelible) register. Exodus 32. and Psalms 69. may well refer to a register of “the living” in respect of life temporal, not eternal.—Practically, Clement and “the rest” are referred to as having fully evidenced by their works their part in that “life eternal” which is to know God and Christ (John 17:3).—The word ὀνόματα powerfully suggests the individual incidence of Divine love. Cp. Luke 10:20, τὰ ὀνόματα ὑμῶν ἐγγέγραπται ἐν τοῖς οὐ ρανοῖς.

Verse 4

4. Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ παντότε. Gaudete in Domino semper, Vulg.—See above Philippians 3:1, and notes, where the evidence of παντότε in favour of rendering χαίρετε by “rejoice” is pointed out.—Cp. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, παντότε χαίρετε, ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε.

He leads them above all lower reasons for joy, and away from all variations of events and feelings, direct to HIM (ἐν κυρίῳ) who is the supreme and unalterable gladness of the believer. And now, in deep sequence, he draws in detail the ideal of the life upon which Christ thus shines.

Verse 5

5. τὸ ἐπιεικὲς ὑμῶν. Vulg., Modestia vestra; A.V., “your moderation”; Wyclif, “youre pacience”; Tindale and ‘Cranmer,’ “youre softenes”; Geneva, “your patient mynde”; Rheims, “your modestie”; Luther, Eure Lindigkeit; R.V. text, “your forbearance,” marg. “your gentleness.” “Forbearance” is best, though scarcely adequate. Ἐπιεικής, ἐπιέκεια, are connected either with εἴκω, “to yield,” or, more probably, with τὸ εἰκὸς (ἔοικα), “the equitable.” Aristotle (Eth. N., v. 10. 6) contrasts the ἐπιεικής with the ἀκριβοδίκαιος, the stickler for his full rights; the ἐπιεικής will rather take sides against himself, look from the other’s point of view, remember his own duties and the other’s rights. Ἐπιείκεια is, so to speak, πραότης applied in action. In the N.T. we have it (or ἐπιεικής) in e.g. 2 Corinthians 10:1, παρακαλῶ ὑμᾶς διὰ τῆς πραότητος καὶ ἐπιεικείας τοῦ Χριστοῦ: 1 Timothy 3:2-3, δεῖἐπίσκοπονεἶναιἐπιεικῆ, ἄμαχον (so Titus 3:2): James 3:17, σοφίαἐπιεικής, εὐπειθής.—The ἐπιεικές ὑμῶν of this passage is the spirit which will yield like air in matters of personal feeling or interest, while it will stand like rock in respect of moral principle. See Trench’s careful discussion, N. T. Synonyms, § xliii.

γνωσθήτω πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις. For τὸ ἐπιεικὲς is essentially practical and operative. Estius (quoted by Trench) says that “ἐπιείκεια magis [quam πραότης] ad exteriorem conversationem pertinet.”

ὁ κύριος ἐγγύς. Perhaps rather in the sense of presence than of coming; cp. Psalms 118 (Heb., 119):151, ἐγγὺς εἶ, κύριε. “In the secret of His presence” (בְּסֵתֶר פָּנָיו ἐν ἀποκρύφῳ τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ, Psalms 31 [30]:19) they were to be “hid” from the vexations of life around them. Yet the deeply calming thought of the Lord’s Return may well be latent in the words too. In the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (probably cent. i.), the final Eucharistic prayer closes with the words ΄αρὰν ἀθὰ (“The Lord cometh,” 1 Corinthians 16:21) ἀμήν.

Verse 6

6. μηδὲν μεριμνᾶτε. “In nothing be anxious,” R.V. Nihil solliciti sitis, Vulg. Sorget nichts, Luther. On the etymology of μεριμνᾶν, and on the thought here, see above on Philippians 2:20. The mental action here blamed is there (in Timothy) commended; a discrepancy harmonized by the different conditions contemplated in the two places. Here the saints are enjoined never to forget their Lord’s attention and loving power, and in that spirit to meet every trial to inward peace. Cp. Psalms 55 (LXX., 54):22, ἐπίρριψον ἐπὶ κύριον τὴν μέριμνάν σου (יְהָבְךָ): 1 Peter 5:7, πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν ὑμῶν ἐπιρρίψαντες ἐπʼ αὐτόν, ὅτι κτλ.: 1 Corinthians 7:32, θέλω ὑμᾶς ἀμερίμνους εἶναι. See the warnings against μέριμναι τοῦ αἰῶνος, μ. βιωτικαί, Mark 4:19; Luke 21:34.

ἀλλʼ ἐν παντὶ. The all-inclusive positive exactly answers the all-inclusive negative, μηδὲν. Cp. πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν, κτλ., 1 Peter 5:7.

τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ δεήσει. Προσευχή and δέησις occur together, in LXX., e.g. Psalms 6:9, εἰσήκουσε κύριος τῆς δ. μου, κύριος τὴν π. μου προσεδέξατο: in N.T., Ephesians 6:18, διὰ πάσης π. καὶ δ. προσευχόμενοι: here: 1 Timothy 2:1, παρακαλῶ ποιεῖσθαι δεήσεις, προσευχάς: 1 Timothy 5:5, προσμένει ταῖς δεήσεσι καὶ ταῖς π. Προσενχή is the larger word, and always sacred; it includes all varieties of worship; our “prayer” thus nearly corresponds to it, though we occasionally use “prayer,” “pray,” in mundane connexions. Δέησις has no limitation to religious uses, and is the narrower word; “request,” petition for desired benefits. (See Trench, N.T. Syn., s.v. προσευχή.) Not that the distinction is to be much pressed in an accumulation like this; practically he means to emphasize the one thought of a reverent approach to God about our needs.

μετὰ εὐχαριστίας. Cp. Colossians 2:7, περισσεύοντες ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ: Philippians 3:15, ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ θεοῦ βραβευέτω ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶνκαὶ εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε: Philippians 4:2, τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτερεῖτε, γρηγοροῦντες ἐν αὐτῇ ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ: 1 Timothy 2:1, παρακαλῶποιεῖσθαι δεήσεις, προσευχάςεὐχαριστίας. “The temper of the Christian should always be one of thanksgiving … The Psalms, in Hebrew, are the Praises (תְּהִלִּים). All prayer ought to include the element of thanksgiving, for mercies temporal and spiritual” (Bp Perowne).—The privilege of access to God is itself an abiding theme of praise.

γνωριζέσθω. Exactly as if He needed information. HE, not we, must reconcile such action on our part with His Infinity. True faith will rest (and act) on such a precept, with little anxiety about the rationale; and Scripture is full of illustrations and encouragements, from the prayers of the patriarchal saints (e.g. Genesis 18, 24) onwards.

Verse 7

7. καὶ. An important link here. Prayerfulness and the Divine peace are in profound connexion.

ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ θεοῦ. The inward serenity, caused by the known presence of ὁ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης (Philippians 4:9), as His Spirit calms our spirit. Cp. Colossians 3:15, [ἐνδύσασθετὴν ἀγάπην …], καὶ ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ χριστοῦ βραβενέτω ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν: and see John 14:27, εἰρήνην τὴν ἐμὴν δίδωμι ὑμῖν.

πάντα νοῦν. “All mind,” all mere thinking power. “It passes the mind of man,” to analyse or describe. Lightfoot renders “ ‘surpassing every device or counsel’ of man, i.e. [producing] a higher satisfaction than all anxious forethought.” But this seems scarcely to harmonize with the lofty tone of the words. Lightfoot himself quotes as in favour of the ordinary rendering Ephesians 3:20, τῷ δυναμένῳ ὑπὲρ πάντα ποιῆσαιὧννοοῦμεν.—Vulg., not happily, omnem sensum.

φρουρήσει. “Shall guard,” R.V. Geneva, “shall defend.” Vulg., custodiat, missing the point of the future tense, with its strong positive promise, far different from an aspiration. For the verb cp. 2 Corinthians 11:32, ἐφρούρει τὴν Δαμασκηνῶν πόλιν: 1 Peter 1:5, τοὺς ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ φρουρουμένους διὰ πίστεως εἰς σωτηρίαν.

καρδίαςνοήματα. “Heart” in Scripture includes the whole inner world, with its contents of understanding (a frequent special reference), affections, and will.—Νοήματα are the actions of the νοῦς. Cp. 2 Corinthians 2:11, οὐ γὰρ αὐτοῦ τὰ νοήματα ἀγνοοῦμεν (the word is confined to this Ep. and 2 Cor. in the whole range of Biblical Greek).—Even the details of our mental action, as we plan, reason, judge, and the like, shall be shielded from evil by the peace of God.

ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.In,” not (A.V.) “through.” The Lord is the Place of peace.

Verse 8

8. Τὸ λοιπόν. See above, on Philippians 3:1. Once more he gathers up the thought towards a close.—Are their “hearts and thoughts” thus “sentinelled,” in Christ, by the peace of God? Then let them, in their safe Castle, “in the Secret of the Presence,” not sleep, but give their minds all possible pure material to work upon, with a view to holy practice. Let them reckon up, think over, estimate aright (λογίζεσθε), all things true and good; perhaps specially in contrast to the subtle “reckonings” of the teachers denounced above (Philippians 3:18-19), who would divorce the “spiritual” and the moral.

ὅσα ἐστὶν ἀληθῆ. “All things which are true.” Truthfulness of word and act, sincerity of character, is utterly indispensable to the holiness of the Gospel.

σεμνά. “Honourable,” R.V.; almost, “dignified”; like the old English use of “solemn.”—Vulg., pudica.—Cp. 1 Timothy 3:8, where the children of the ἐπίσκοπος are to be ruled μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος: 11, where the γυναῖκες of the διάκονοι are to be σεμυναί: Titus 2:2, πρεσβύταςεἶναι σεμνούς. The word points to seriousness of purpose and to self-respect in conduct.

δίκαια. As between man and man. The Christian will be a model of dutifulness.

ἁγνά. Probably in the special respect of true bodily chastity, in thought and act. “Ἁγνός and καθαρός differ from ἅγιος in that they admit the thought or the fact of temptation or pollution; while ἅγιος describes that which is holy absolutely, either in itself or in idea” (Westcott, on 1 John 3:3). See also Trench, Syn. II., xxxviii.

προσφιλῆ. “Pleasing,” “amiable.” The Christian must remember manner. Grace must make him gracious; he is to “adorn (κοσμεῖν) the doctrine of God his Saviour” (Titus 2:10).

εὔφημα. “Sweet spoken”; προσφιλῆ in a special respect. “Not ‘well-spoken of, well-reputed,’ for the word seems never to have this passive meaning; but with its usual active sense, ‘fair-speaking,’ and so ‘winning, attractive’ ” (Lightfoot). In the classics a frequent meaning is “auspicious,” the opposite of δύσφημος: so εὔφημον ἦμαρ, æsch. Ag. 636; and it thus glides into the meaning “silent,” with the silence which precludes δυσφημία. But such aspects of the word can hardly be supposed present here. Ellicott explains, “fair-sounding,” “high-toned.” R.V. (with A.V.) renders, “of good report”; margin, “or, gracious.”

εἴ τις ἀρετὴ. “Whatever virtue there is.” “St Paul seems studiously to avoid this common heathen term for moral excellence.… [It is not] found elsewhere in the N.T. except in 1 Peter 2:9 [τὰς ἀρετάς, “the excellencies,” of God], 2 Peter 1:3 [τοῦ καλέσαντος ἡμᾶς ἰδίᾳἀρετῇ], 5 [ἐπιχορηγήσατε ἐν τῇ πίστει ὑμῶν τὴν ἀ.], in all which passages it seems to have some special sense. In the O.T. it always signifies ‘glory, praise’ … In the Apocrypha it has its ordinary classical sense. Some [e.g. Alford] treat εἴ τις ἀ., εἴ τις ἔπαινος, as comprehensive expressions, recapitulating the previous subjects under two general heads, the intrinsic character and the subjective estimation. The strangeness of the word, however, combined with the change of expression εἴ τις, will suggest another explanation; ‘Whatever value may reside in your old heathen conception of virtue, whatever consideration is due to the praise of men’; as if the Apostle were anxious not to omit any possible ground of appeal. Thus Beza’s remark on ἀρετή seems to be just; ‘Verbum nimis humile, si cum donis Spiritus Sancti comparetur’ ” (Lightfoot). By origin and usage ἀρετή is connected with thoughts of manhood and self-reliance. In the Gospel, the basis of goodness is self-renunciation, in order to the reception of χάρις, the undeserved gift of God.

ἔπαινος. It is not right to do good for the selfish pleasure of praise. But to praise good deeds is right, and so may give the recipient of the praise a pure moral pleasure. St Paul appeals to the fact of such desert of praise, and uses it to attract thought in right directions. “Make right praise an index of the things on which you should spend thought.”

λογίζεσθε. “Reckon up,” “calculate.” To illustrate negatively, ἀγαπὴ οὐ λογίζεται τὸ κακόν (1 Corinthians 13:5), “does not reckon up the evil” done against her; does not dwell on it, brooding over it, counting up the elements of the grievance.

Verse 8-9


Verse 9

9. ἃ καὶ ἐμάθετεἐν ἐμοί. On the apparent egotism, see above on Philippians 3:17.—The aorists refer to the past days at Philippi.

παρελάβετε. In the sense of receiving a truth passed on by a teacher, who on his part παραδίδωσιν. See e.g. 1 Corinthians 11:23, ἐγὼ παρέλαβον ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου ὃ καὶ παρέδωκα ὑμῖν. Cp. Galatians 1:9, εἴ τις ὑμᾶς εὐαγγελίζεται παρʼ ὃ παρέλαβετε, ἀνάθεμα ἔστω: and 1 Thessalonians 4:1. Παραλαμβάνειν thus comes very nearly to mean “to learn” and παραδιδόναι (παράδοσις) “to teach.”

ἐν ἐμοί. Strictly, the words attach themselves to εἴδετε only. It is as if he had written ἅ ἐμάθετε κτλ. παρʼ ἐμοῦ καὶ εἴδ. ἐν ἐμοί.

πράσσετε. “Practise.” “Roughly speaking, ποιεῖν may be said to … designate performance, πράσσειν intentional … habitual performance; π. to point to an actual result, πρ. to the scope and character of the result” (Grimm, ed. Thayer, s.v. ποιεῖν).

καὶ. See above on the καὶ which introduces Philippians 4:7.

ὁ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης. Author and Giver of “The peace of God.” The phrase occurs Romans 15:33; Romans 16:20, ὁ θ. τῆς εἰρ. συντρίψει τὸν σατανᾶν: 2 Corinthians 13:11, ὁ θ. τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ τῆς εἰρ. ἔσται μεθʼ ὑμῶν: 1 Thessalonians 5:23, αὐτὸς ὁ θ. τῆς εἰρ. ἁγιάσαι ὑμᾶς κτλ.: Hebrews 13:20, ὁ δὲ θ. τῆς εἰρ., ὁ ἀναγαγὼν κτλ. And cp. 2 Thessalonians 3:16, ὁ κύριος τῆς εἰρ.: and 1 Corinthians 14:33, οὐ γὰρ ἀκαταστασίας ὁ θ. ἀλλὰ εἰρήνης. In the last case the peace is plainly social peace rather than internal, personal peace. But the two are closely connected; the peace of God in the individual tends always to the peace of the society, for it means the banishment of the self-spirit. Here very possibly St Paul has in side-view the Philippians’ need of peace in their community, and of a higher tone of Christian thought and feeling as an aid towards it. But the whole context is so full of the inward aspects of Christian experience that it seems best to take this phrase as referring primarily to the sabbath of the soul, the peace of God in the man.

Verse 10

10. Ἐχάρην δὲ. The thought now finally turns from the didactic to the personal.—R.V., “But I rejoice”; the present; taking ἐχάρην as an epistolary aorist. See on Philippians 2:25. The time reference, however, may be to the day when the gift arrived, now probably some while ago.

ἐν κυρίῳ. The persons and the act were all bound up with Him.

ἤδη ποτὲ. “At length,” R.V., a milder phrase than the “at the last” of A.V. No reproach, we may be sure, underlies the allusion to the interval; see the loving words of the next sentence. He may even mean to emphasize the thought of the Philippians’ persistence and fidelity.

ἀνεθάλετε τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ φρονεῖν. “You have burgeoned into thought on my behalf.” The poetic boldness of the phrase is unmistakable. It is an almost pleasantry of expression, full of courteous affectionateness.—Ἀναθάλλειν occurs here only in N.T. In the classics it is always intransitive; in Biblical Greek it is transitive as well, e.g. Ezekiel 17:24, ἀναθάλλων ξύλον ξηρόν: Sirach 1:15, φόβος κυρίου ἀναθάλλων εἰρήνην. Here either construction is intelligible.—Φρονεῖν (ἐφρονεῖτε) in this verse comes very near φροντίζειν in meaning; a rare phenomenon.

ἐφʼ . “As to which”; i.e. as to St Paul’s condition and interests, implied in the ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ just before.

ἠκαιρεῖσθε. “You lacked the καιρός,” not having, at the moment the needed bearer for the subsidy.

Verses 10-20


Verse 11

11. καθʼ ὑστέρησιν. “In terms of need.” Vulg., propter penuriam. See Mark 12:44 for the only other occurrence of the noun in Biblical Greek; ἐκ τῆς ὑστερήσεως αὐτῆς πάνταἔβαλεν (de penuria sua, Vulg.).

ἐγὼ γὰρ ἔμαθον. “For I” (with a slight emphasis) “have learned.” Here the English perfect (A.V. and R.V.) well represents the Greek aorist.

ἐν οἷς εἰμὶ. “In the position in which I am placed” (Lightfoot). It is obviously a contracted construction, for ἐν ἐκείνοις ἐν κτλ.

αὐτάρκης. Literally, “self-sufficing”; i.e. independent of circumstances. Omnia sua secum portat. The adjective occurs here only in N.T.; rarely in LXX.—For αὐτάρκεια see 2 Corinthians 9:8, πᾶσαν ἀ. ἔχοντες (through fulness of grace): 1 Timothy 6:6, πορισμὸς μέγας ἡ εὐσέβεια μετʼ αὐταρκείας. Aristotle defines τὸ αὔταρκες as τὰ πάντα ὑπάρχειν καὶ δεῖσθαι μηθενός (Polit. vii. 5 init.). And this is just the Apostle’s consciousness, in his possession of Christ under all circumstances.

Verse 12

12. οἶδα καὶ ταπεινοῦσθαι. Apparently he would have written οἶδα καὶ τ. καὶ περισσεύειν: but a second οἶδα is thrown in for emphasis. See Lightfoot’s note.—“I know both how to be abased.” For this use of εἰδέναι, callere, “to know how,” cp. e.g. Matthew 7:11, οἴδατε δόματα ἀγαθὰ διδόναι: 1 Thessalonians 4:4, εἰδέναι ἕκαστον ὑμῶν τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος κτᾶσθαι. For ταπεινοῦσθαι in the sense of “running low,” cp. Diodorus I. 36, of the fall of the Nile: καθʼ ἡμέρανταπεινοῦται. The same word is used of other rivers in the context.

οἶδα καὶ περισσεύειν. As I do now, thanks to the Philippians.—“I know how to abound”; for plenty as well as want needs grace if it is to be borne aright.

ἐν παντὶ καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν. In the detail and in the aggregate of experience. Lightfoot compares 2 Corinthians 11:6, ἐν παντὶ φανερώσαντες ἐν πᾶσιν εἰς ὑμᾶς.

μεμύημαι. “I have been initiated.” R.V., “I have learned the secret.” The word is the perf. pass. of μυέω, “to initiate”; connected with μύω, “to shut the eyes.” Hence μύστης, μυστικός, μυστήριον, κτλ.—The μυστήρια, or secret religious rites, were a great phenomenon in classical paganism, frequently mentioned from Herodotus downwards. The most famous were those of Demeter, at Eleusis in Attica; but every considerable Greek city had its “mysteries.” The secrecy of these rites perhaps originated in the desire of the votaries of pre-Hellenic religion to protect their belief and worship by concealment. “The mysteries probably were … scenic representations of mythical legends” (Liddell and Scott, s.v.). The celebration was always secret; but initiation was granted to even slaves, while it was sought by the most cultured and dignified, including Roman Emperors; with the hope apparently of a special immunity from evil in this life and the next. See Smith, Dict. of Gr. and R. Ant., s.v. Mysteries.—Freemasonry familiarly illustrates such a system of concealment; and we now often borrow its name, somewhat as St Paul here borrows μυεῖν (and μυστήριον itself, e.g. Romans 11:25; Romans 16:25, and about twenty times altogether; and cp. e.g. Matthew 13:11; Revelation 1:20; Revelation 10:7; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 17:7), when we speak of “the freemasonry of the Gospel,” meaning the intimate sympathy of hearts in Christ.

χορτάζεσθαι. “To be filled,” “full fed.” St Paul uses the word here only. Its first meaning was to give fodder to cattle; but it lost this lower (as a distinctive) meaning in later and Biblical Greek. Cp. Psalms 106 (Heb., 107):9, ἐχόρτασε ψυχὴν κενήν: Matthew 5:6, οἱ πεινῶντεςτὴν δικαιοσύνηνχορτασθήσονται.

πεινᾶν. No doubt often in stern literality; cp. 1 Corinthians 4:11, πεινῶμεν καὶ διψῶμεν καὶ γυμνητεύομεν: 2 Corinthians 11:27 ἐν λιμῷ καὶ δίψει.

Verse 13

13. πάντα ἰσχύω. “For all things I have strength”; to do or to bear. Ἰσχύς tends to denote physical strength; the idea here passes into metaphor; his spiritual frame is strong.—Vulg., beautifully, omnia possum.—Πάντα is not, of course, “all things” absolutely. It is “all things” in the actual path of duty and suffering allotted by his Master. Along that path (let us note the word and its message) not only some things but all can be met in peace and strength.

ἐν τῷ ἐνδυναμοῦντί με. “In Him who enableth me,” who gives me δύναμις, ability.—For the reading, see critical note.—Ἐνδυναμόω in the active occurs 1 Timothy 1:12, χάριν ἔχω τῷ ἐνδυναμώσαντί με: 2 Timothy 4:17, ὁ κύριος ἐνεδυνάμωσέ με: and in the middle or passive, Acts 9:22, Σαῦλος ἐνεδυναμοῦτο: Romans 4:20, ἐνεδυναμώθη τῇ πίστει: Ephesians 6:10; 2 Timothy 2:1; Hebrews 11:34.

Observe ἐν τῷ ἐνδ. It is only in vital union with the Head that the member is thus “able” (John 15:5, χωρὶς ἐμοῦ οὐ δύνασθε: cp. 2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Verse 14

14. πλὴν καλῶς ἐποιήσατε. He is lovingly anxious lest his “ability in Christ” should even seem to blunt his gratitude to his friends, whose “deep poverty had abounded to the riches of their liberality” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2).

ἐποιήσατε. “Ye did”; when you sent your alms.

συνκοινωνήσαντες. “Unitedly sharing in.”—See above, Philippians 1:7.—Their practical sympathy, with its self-denial, blent their experience and that of the afflicted Apostle into one; and they were all of one mind (συν-) in so acting.

Verse 15

15. οἴδατε δὲ. The δὲ suggests, with the same delicacy of love, that their earlier gifts would have sufficed to assure him of their fellowship with him. “You have now done well; but indeed you had repeatedly, and to a rare degree, shewn your sympathy before.”

καὶ ὑμεῖς. You as well as I.

Φιλιππήσιοι. This form of the civic adjective appears also in “Titles” of the Epistle, and in “Subscriptions.” Other forms (in secular Greek) are Φιλιππεῖς, Φιλιππηνοί. Probably the Latin “colonists” called themselves Philippenses, which is the word used here in the Vulg. So Corinthienses, Romanenses, Sicilienses, were foreign residents in Corinth, &c. (See Facciolati, Lexicon, s.v. Corinthiensis.) And this word may have grown out of that, for Greek tends to represent the Latin -ens- by -ησ-: so Clemens, Κλήμης.

ἐν ἀρχῇ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου. In the beginning of his Gospel-work in their region. For this use of the word εὐαγγέλιον see above Philippians 1:5; Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:12, Philippians 4:3. Cp. 2 Corinthians 10:14, ἄχρι καὶ ὑμῶν ἐφθάσαμεν ἐν τῷ εὐ. τοῦ χριστοῦ.

ὅτε ἐξῆλθον ἀπὸ ΄ακεδονίας. “On my leaving Macedonia”; not “when I had left,” for he proceeds to refer to an incident at Thessalonica, in Macedonia. He means the general period of his removal from Macedonia (Roman Northern Greece) into Achaia (Roman Southern Greece). For the narrative, see Acts 17:1-15. He is looking back now over some ten years.

οὐδεμίαἐκκλησία. We gather that thus early the Gospel had taken root in more than one or two spots in Macedonia, not counting Philippi and Thessalonica. Acts 16. (and Acts 17:1) evidently gives only the leading specimen of the first work of the evangelists.

εἰς λόγον. “As regards”; literally, “to the account of.” Lightfoot quotes Thucyd., iii. 46, ἐς χρημάτων λόγον ἰσχυούσαις (πόλεσι), “states strong in regard to wealth”; and Demosth. (de F. L., p. 385), εἰς ἀρετῆς λόγον.

δόσεως καὶ λήμψεως. A recognized formula for money transactions, where one gives and another takes. Chrysostom explains the words as meaning εἰς δόσεως τῶν σαρκικῶν καὶ λήψ. τῶν πνευματικῶν—the Philippians gaining blessing in return for their alms. But this misses the point; St Paul is speaking exclusively of practical liberality. See Lightfoot here.

Verse 16

16. καὶ ἐν Θεσσαλονίκῃ. That is, even when I was no further away from you than Thessalonica; so prompt and generous were you.—See Acts 17:1-9.—Thessalonica was just 100 Roman (about 92 English) miles from Philippi, on the Via Egnatia. Amphipolis and Apollonia were the two intermediate stations, each about 30 miles from the other and from one of the two other towns. Apparently Paul and Silas, leaving Philippi and hastening to Thessalonica, passed only a night at each intermediate place, and remained at least some weeks at Thessalonica. See Conybeare and H., ch. ix; and Lewin, L. and E. of St Paul, vol. I. ch. xi. Thessalonica was thus St Paul’s first long pause; and it lay comparatively near Philippi.

καὶ ἅπαξ καὶ δὶς. Within no very long time. In Acts 17:2 we read of σάββατα τρία before the disturbances began. No certain note of time is given afterwards; but the withdrawal to Berœa was not long delayed. Short as the stay was, it was long enough to produce profound impressions, as the Thessalonian Epistles testify.

εἰς τὴν χρείαν μοι. At Thessalonica he refused to take support from the converts, and worked for his living. See 1 Thessalonians 2:9, νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἐργαζόμενοι, πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἐπιβαρῆσαί τινα ὑμῶν, ἐκηρύξαμεν εἰς ὑμᾶς τὸ εὐ. τοῦ θεοῦ.

Verse 17

17. οὐχ ὅτι κτλ. Here again see the sensitive delicacy of love. He fears lest this allusion to the cherished past, made only to shew that he needs no present proof of sympathy, might after all read like “thanks for future favours.”

ἐπιζητῶ. Almost “am hunting for.” Cp. Matthew 12:39, γενεὰ πονηρὰσημεῖον ἐπιζητεῖ: Romans 11:7, ὅ ἐπιζ. Ἰσραήλ, τοῦτο οὐκ ἐπέτυχε.

τὸ δὁμα.The gift”; the mere money, for myself.

τὸν καρπὸν τὸν πλεονάζοντα κτλ. “The fruit which is abounding to your account.” Chrysostom writes here, ὁ καρπὸς ἐκείνοις τίκτεται. (Cp. æsch. S. c. T. 437, τῷδε κέρδει κέρδος ἄλλο τίκτεται.) Τόκος is regularly used in the sense of interest on money; and it is probable that Chrysostom’s τίκτεται implies that he, a Greek, took St Paul to be using here the language of the money market; so that καρπός, πλεονάζειν, λόγος, might all be metaphorical; “The interest which is accruing to your credit.” The objection is that καρπός and πλεονάζειν do not appear elsewhere as technical financial words; but such an application of them here is at least possible.

Observe τὸν πλεονάζοντα. He takes it as certain that the καρπόςis abounding,” not only “may abound.”

Verse 18

18. ἀπέχω δὲ. The δὲ carries on the correction, begun in Philippians 4:17, of any possible mistake of his warm words. He is well supplied; he must not be suspected of suggesting more gifts in the future.

ἀπέχω. “I have received in full.” Cp. Matthew 6:2; Matthew 6:5; Matthew 6:16, ἀπέχονσι τὸν μισθὸν αὐτῶν: Luke 6:24, ἀπέχετε τὴν παράκλησιν ὑμῶν: Phlippians 1:15, ἵνα αἰώνιον αὐτὸν ἀπέχῃς. So in classical Greek, Callim., Epigr. 57, τὸ χρέος ὡς ἀπέχεις, Ἀσκληπιέ, κτλ. If the Philippians did owe him anything, they have amply paid!

παρὰ Ἐπαφροδίτου. See on Philippians 2:25-30. Here we learn explicitly what is implied there (Philippians 2:25; Philippians 2:30), that he was the bringer of the collection to St Paul.

τὰ παρʼ ὑμῶν. He will not say τὰ παρʼ . χρήματα: it was more than money; the money was but the symbol of their hearts.

ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας. “Odour of fragrancy” (εὖ, ὄζω). So Ephesians 5:2, of the Saviour’s atoning Sacrifice. The phrase is common in LXX. for the Hebrew רֵיחַ הַנִּיחֹחַ, “savour of rest” (e.g. Genesis 8:21); the fume of the altar, recognized by the Deity as a token of allegiance or propitiation. Here the ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας is either that of the “burnt-offering” of self-dedication, embodied in self-denying giving, or that of the “peace-offering” of thanksgiving, similarly embodied (cp. Leviticus 1:9; Leviticus 3:5), or that of both, as both are combined in our Liturgy of the Holy Communion.

θυσίαν δεκτὴν εὐάρεστον. Cp. Hebrews 13:16, τῆς εὐποιΐας καὶ κοινωνίας μὴ ἐπιλανθάνεσθε, τοιαύταις γὰρ θυσίαις εὐαρεστεῖται ὁ θεός.

Verse 19

19. ὁ δὲ θεός μου. “And my God,” R.V. But there is surely a slight implied contrast, or correction; as if he said, “I would requite you if I could; but my God will do so.”

ὁ θεός μου. Words deeply characteristic of St Paul; see on Philippians 1:3 above. Lightfoot well remarks that they are specially in point here; the Apostle is thinking of what God will do for others on his behalf.

πληρώσει. The future of the certainty of faith. For πληροῦν χρείαν cp. Psalms 126 (Heb., 127):5, μακάριος ὃς πληρώσει τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν αὐτοῦ.

πᾶσαν χρείαν ὑμῶν. “Your every need.” See again 2 Corinthians 8:2 for the exceptional poverty (ἡ κατὰ βάθους πτωχεία) of the Macedonian converts. The main reference here is, surely, to temporal “need”; such need as the Philippians had so lovingly “filled” for St Paul. See 2 Corinthians 9:8-9, δυνατεῖ ὁ θεὸς πᾶσαν χαρίν περισσεῦσαι εἰς ὑμᾶς, ἵνα κτλ.: where the first thought seems to be of God’s ability to give His self-denying servants the means for yet further bounties for His work. But neither here nor there are we to shut out the widest and deepest applications of the promise.

κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος αὐτοῦ ἐν δόξῃ. According to, on the scale of, those resources which reside in the δόξα of His manifested power and love; in fact, in His revealed Self. Cp. Romans 6:4 for such a use of δόξα: ἠγέρθη Χριστὸςδιὰ τῆς δόξης τοῦ πατρός.

Lightfoot explains the thought to be, “He shall supply your need by placing you in glory,” the glory of His heavenly presence. But this seems to be somewhat far-fetched, and indeed to be out of place if the explanation of χρεία given above is right.

St Paul loves the word πλοῦτος, and its cognates, in spiritual connexions. Cp. Romans 2:4; Romans 9:23; Romans 10:12; Romans 11:12; Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Corinthians 9:11; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 2:4; Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:8; Ephesians 3:16; Colossians 1:27; Colossians 2:2.

ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. Cp. Colossians 2:9-10, ἐστὲ ἐν αὐτῷ πεπληρωμένοι: and 1 Corinthians 1:5, ἐν παντὶ ἐπλουτίσθητε ἐν αὐτῷ. The “glory” of both grace and providence is lodged in Him for His people.

Verse 20

20. τῷ δὲ θεῷ κτλ. “Now to our God and Father &c.”; the ultimate Source of all blessing for the members of His Son.

ἡμῶν. “It is no longer μου, for the reference is now not to himself as distinguished from the Philippians, but as united to them” (Lightfoot).

ἡ δόξα. “The adoring praise” due in view of all fruits of His grace and promises of His blessing.

ἡ δ. εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. For this phrase in Ascriptions cp. Galatians 1:5; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:21. The “for ever and ever” of A.V. and R.V. is a true paraphrase. The idea conveyed by the Greek is of cycles consisting of, embracing, other cycles, ad infinitum; the ever-developing “ages” of heavenly life.

ἀμήν. Properly a Hebrew adverb, אָמֵן, “surely”; repeatedly used as here in O.T. See e.g. Deuteronomy 27:15, &c., where “all the people” affirm the sentences against sin with their אָמֵן.

Verse 21

21. Ἀσπάσασθε. Cp. Romans 16:3-16 for such ἀσπασμοί in detail.

πάντα ἅγιον ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. “Every saint” (see on Philippians 1:1) “in Christ Jesus.” We might explain the clause, as Lightfoot inclines to do, “Salute in Christ Jesus every saint”; cp. 1 Corinthians 16:19, ἀσπάζοντας ὑμᾶς ἐν κυρίῳ πολλὰ Ἀκύλας καὶ Πρίσκα (Romans 16:22 is not clear). But on the whole the other connexion seems preferable, looking at Philippians 1:1, πᾶσι τοῖς ἁγ. ἐν Χρ. .

οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ ἀδελφοί. “Apparently the Apostle’s personal companions, as distinguished from the Christians resident at Rome, who are described in the following verse” (Lightfoot).

Verses 21-23


Verse 22

22. μάλιστα δὲ. There was something marked and emphatic about this message.

οἱ ἐκ τῆς Καίσαρος οἰκίας. “Probably slaves and freedmen attached to the palace” (Lightfoot). It has been thought, on the other hand, that these persons were members of the imperial family, or at least grandees of the court; and this has been used either to prove a remarkable advance of the Gospel in the highest circles during St Paul’s imprisonment (and incidentally to evidence a late date for the Epistle in that imprisonment), or to indicate the spuriousness of the Epistle. Lightfoot (Phil., pp. 171–178) has fully shewn that “the Household of Cæsar” was a term embracing a vast number of persons, not only in Rome but in the provinces, all of them either actual or former imperial slaves, filling every description of more or less domestic office. He illustrates his statements from the numerous epitaphs of members of the Domus Cæsaris found within the last 175 years near Rome, most of them of the Julian and Claudian times. It is remarkable that the names in these epitaphs afford curiously many coincidences with the names in Romans 16; among them are Amplias, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, Tryphæna, Tryphosa, Rufus, Hermes, Hermas, Patrobas, Philologus, Julius, Nereis (a name which might possibly be that of the sister (Romans 16:15) of a man Nereus). It appears by the way very likely that both Aristobulus’ and Narcissus’ “households” (Romans 16:10-11) were in fact the slave-establishments respectively of the son of Herod the Great and of the favourite freedman of Claudius—transferred to the possession of the Emperor. Lightfoot infers a high probability that the “saints” greeted in Romans 16, as resident at Rome, were on the whole identical with “the saints of the Household” who here send greeting from Rome. Various as no doubt were their functions, and their nationalities, the members of the Household, as such, must have had an esprit de corps which made it likely, humanly speaking, that a powerful influence like that of the Gospel would be felt widely among them, if felt at all; and that it would be intensified by the difficulties of their surroundings; and that so that they would be in the way to make a united and emphatic expression of their faith and love on occasion.

This view of “the saints” here mentioned, as to their associations and duties, not only in the age of Nero but in the precincts of his court, and probably (for many of them) within the chambers of his palace, gives a noble passing illustration of the power of grace to triumph over circumstances, and to transfigure life where it seems most impossible. “Dieu laisse quelquefois ses serviteurs au milieu du monde, pour montrer la souveraineté de sa grace” (Quesnel on this verse).

A certain parallel to the Domus Cæsaris appears in the vast Maison du Roy of the French monarchy. But the Maison was for the nobility alone.

Verse 23

23. Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κ. . Χ. So, or nearly so, every Epistle of St Paul’s closes, or almost closes. In the Ep. to the Romans the “grace” occurs twice; Romans 16:20; Romans 16:24. The exact form here used (τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν) occurs Galatians 6:16; Phlippians 1:25.

Observe the implied testimony to the Divine glory of the Saviour, named thus alone, and in conclusion, as the Fountain of grace.

μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν. On the reading, see critical note.—The πνεῦμα is the inmost basis of the life and will of man. It is not absorbed, or annulled, by the Divine χάρις, which is “with” it. Cp. 1 Corinthians 15:10, οὐκ ἐγώ, ἀλλὰ ἡ χάρις τοῦ θεοῦ σὺν ἐμοί.

On ἀμήν (here in T.R.) and on the Subscription, see critical note.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Philippians 4:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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