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The Epistle of Paul The Apostle
The oldest known form is the briefest, To the Philippians, or, exactly, To the philippesians (see on 4:15). So in the “Subscription” to the Epistle, which see. The title as in the Authorized Version agrees with that adopted in the Elzevir editions of 1624, 1633.
Ch. 1:1 2 . Greeting
1 . Paul ] See Acts 13:9 . The Apostle probably bore, from infancy, both the two names, Saul (Saoul, Saulus ) and Paul . See on Ephesians 1:1 , and Romans , p. 8, in this Series.
Timotheus ] Named 24 times in N. T. See Acts 16:1 for his parentage and early home, and for indications of his character as man and Christian cp. 1 Corinthians 4:17 , 1 Corinthians 4:16 :10, 1 Corinthians 4:11 ; 1 Timothy 1:2 ; 2 Timothy 1:4 , 2 Timothy 1:5 ; and especially below, 2:19 22. His association with St Paul was intimate and endeared, and his connexion with the Philippian Church was close. See Acts 16:0 , where it is clearly implied that with Silas he accompanied St Paul on his first visit to Philippi (cp. 17:14, and below, 2:22), though for unknown reasons he did not share the maltreatment of his friends. Later, Acts 20:4 , he appears accompanying St Paul from Macedonia to Asia Minor, and the mention of Philippi, ver. 6, makes it practically certain that by then Philippi had been visited again. With Macedonia generally, including of course Thessalonica, we find his name often connected; see mentions of him in Acts 17:0 and 19:22; 2 Cor. (written in Macedonia) 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2 , 1 Thessalonians 3:6 . His name is associated as here with St Paul’s 2 Corinthians 1:1 ; Colossians 1:1 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:1 ; 2 Thessalonians 1:1 . In this Epistle the association begins and ends with this verse, and the Apostle writes at once in the singular number. It is otherwise in 2 Cor., Col., and Thess.
the servants ] Bondservants, slaves . The word is used by St Paul of himself (with or without his missionary brethren), Romans 1:1 ; Galatians 1:10 ; Titus 1:1 . Cp. Acts 20:19 , Acts 20:27 :23; Galatians 6:17 . He was a bondservant, in the absolute possession of his redeeming Lord, not only as an apostle but as a Christian; but he loves to emphasize the fact in connexion with his special mode of service. On the principles and conditions of the believer’s sacred and happy bondservice see e.g. Matthew 6:24 ; Luke 17:7-10 ; Romans 6:19 , Romans 6:7 :6; 1 Corinthians 6:20 , 1 Corinthians 6:7 :22; Ephesians 6:7 ; 2 Timothy 2:24 . The word with its imagery conveys the truth that the spiritual bondservant is altogether and always not only the helper, or agent, but the property and implement of his Master; having no rights whatever as against Him. Only, the Master being what He is, this real bondage is transfigured always into the “perfect freedom” of the regenerate and loving heart.
of Jesus Christ ] Better, on documentary evidence, of Christ Jesus . This order of our blessed Lord’s Name and Title is almost peculiar to St Paul, and is the most frequent of the two orders in his writings. It is calculated that he uses it (assuming the latest researches in the Greek text to shew right results) 87 times, and “Jesus Christ” 78 (see The Expositor , May, 1888). The slight emphasis on “Christ” is suggestive of a special reference of thought to the Lord in glory.
the saints ] Holy ones ; men separated from sin to God. The word takes the man, or the community, on profession; as being what they ought to be. This is not to lower the native meaning of the word, but to use a well-understood hypothesis in the application of it. A saint is not merely a professing follower of Christ, but a professing follower assumed to be what he professes. He who is not this is in name only and not in deed a saint, faithful, a child of God, and the like. See Appendix B.
in Christ Jesus ] Holy ones, because united in Life and Covenant, by grace, to the Holy One of God. See further on Ephesians 1:1 , and below, on ver. 8.
Philippi ] See Introduction, p. 10, &c.
with the bishops and deacons ] In this address the laity come before the clergy. “ With ,” because these persons, though merely some of “the saints” as men , were differenced from the others by office. Apart from all questions in detail on the Christian Ministry, observe this primeval testimony to some already established and recognized order and regimen in a young Church; to a special “oversight” and “service” committed to not all but some. The “bishop” ( episcopus ) of this passage is identical with the “presbyter” of e.g. Acts 20:17 , called episcopus there, ver. 28. For further remarks on the offices here mentioned, see Appendix C.
2 . Grace be unto you , &c.] See, on the whole verse, the notes in this Series on Ephesians 1:2 , where the wording is identical. “Grace,” as a Scriptural term, demands careful study. In its true idea, kindness is always present, with the special thought of entire and marked absence of obligation in the exercise of it. It is essentially unmerited and free. See e. g. Romans 11:6 . In its normal application, the word denotes the action of Divine kindness either in the judicial acceptance of the believer “not according to his works,” for Christ’s sake (e.g. Romans 3:24 ), or in the gift and continuance of new life and power to the believer (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:10 ). And, as the action is never apart from the Agent, we may say that grace in the first reference is “God for us” (Romans 8:1 ), in the second, “God in us” (below, 2:13). In the first reference grace is the antithesis to merit , in the second to nature .
our Father ] in the new birth and life, which is coextensive with union with Christ the Son. See below, on 2:15.
3 11 . Thanksgiving and Prayer for the Philippian Saints
3 . I thank ] So Romans 1:8 ; 1 Corinthians 1:4 ; Ephesians 1:16 ; Colossians 1:3 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:2 , 1 Thessalonians 1:2 :13; 2 Thessalonians 1:3 , 2 Thessalonians 1:2 :13; Philemon 1:4 . St Paul’s thanksgivings for the two Macedonian Churches, Philippi and Thessalonica, are peculiarly warm and full. See Bp Lightfoot here. Observe the recognition in all these thanksgivings of God as the whole cause of all goodness in the saints.
my God ] So Romans 1:8 ; 1 Corinthians 1:4 ; 2 Corinthians 12:21 ; below, 4:19; Philemon 1:4 . Cp. also Acts 27:23 ; Galatians 2:20 ; and below, 3:8. See too Psalms 63:1 , and many other O. T. passages. Profound personal appropriation and realization speaks in the phrase. And we are reminded that the salvation of the Church takes place through the salvation of individuals, and their personal coming to (John 6:37 ) and incorporation into Christ.
upon every remembrance ] Lit. and better, in my whole remembrance ; as in a habit rather than as in single acts. For such remembrance, and its expressions, cp. Romans 1:9 ; Ephesians 1:16 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:2 ; 2 Timothy 1:3 ; Philemon 1:4 .
4 . every prayer ] every request . The Greek word is narrower than that, e. g. Ephesians 1:16 , which includes the whole action of worship . See below on 4:6.
for you all ] See, for the same phrase, or kindred words, vv. 7, 8, 25, 2:17, 26. We seem to see, in this emphasis on the word “ all ,” a gentle reference to the danger of partizanship and divisions at Philippi. See Introduction, p. 19.
request ] Lit. and better, the request just mentioned.
with joy ] These words strike the key-note of a main strain of the Epistle. They are here the emphatic words of the sentence. He illustrates the assurance of his thankfulness for them by saying that every request for them is lighted up with happiness. For St Paul’s joy over his converts’ consistency cp. 2 Corinthians 2:3 , 2 Corinthians 2:7 :4, 2 Corinthians 2:13 ; below, 2:2, 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19 , 1 Thessalonians 2:20 , 1 Thessalonians 2:3 :9; Philemon 1:7 .
5 . For your fellowship in the gospel ] Lit. “on account of your participation unto the Gospel”; i.e. because of your efforts, in union with mine, for the furtherance of the Gospel. See R.V.; and cp. 2 Corinthians 2:12 , and 2:22 below. The immediate reference doubtless is to the pecuniary help sent again and again to the Apostle as a missionary. (See 4:10 19.) But the fact and thought would far transcend this speciality.
from the first day until now ] See the passage below, just referred to, for comment and explanation.
6 . Being confident ] This verse is a parenthesis in the thought, suggested by the continuity “until now” of the Philippians’ love and labour. The past of grace leads him to speak of its future. The English word “confident” happily represents the Greek, which like it sometimes denotes reliance , on definite grounds (so Matthew 27:43 ; Mark 10:24 ; 2 Corinthians 1:9 ; below, 2:24, 3:3, 4; Hebrews 2:13 , &c), sometimes a more or less arbitrary assurance (so Romans 2:19 ). In every case in the N. T. the word indicates a feeling of personal certainty, for whatever cause.
this very thing ] A favourite phrase with St Paul; Romans 9:17 (where he varies the phrase of the LXX.), 13:6; 2 Corinthians 2:3 , 2 Corinthians 2:5 :5, 2 Corinthians 2:7 :11; Galatians 2:10 ; Ephesians 6:18 , Ephesians 6:22 ; Colossians 4:8 . Elsewhere it occurs only 2 Peter 1:5 , and there the reading is disputed. The words are a characteristic touch of keen and earnest thought.
he which hath begun ] Lit. he that began; at the crisis of their evangelization and conversion. “He” is God the Father (as habitually, where nothing in the context defines Either of the Other Persons), the supreme Author of the work of grace.
The Greek verb here occurs also Galatians 3:3 , where the crisis of conversion is viewed from the convert’s point of view; “ ye began by the Spirit.” The reference to the Holy Spirit, however, reminds us there also that a Divine enabling is absolutely needed in order to man’s “beginning” the new life.
a good work ] We may perhaps render the good work . The article is absent in the Greek, but the reference is obviously to the work of works. Cp. below, 2:13, and note.
will perform it ] Better, as R.V., will perfect it . Cp. again Galatians 3:3 ; “ye began by the Spirit; are ye now being perfected by the flesh?”
For the thought of this sentence cp. Psalms 138:8 ; “the Lord will complete (all) for me; O Lord, Thy mercy is for ever; forsake not the works of Thy hands.” There the individual believing soul expresses the confidence of faith which is here expressed with regard to the community ( “you” ) of such souls.
until the day , &c.] The glorious goal of the redeeming process, because then, and not before, the whole being of the saint, body (Romans 8:23 ) as well as spirit, shall be actually delivered from all the results of sin. The mention of this Day here is thus equally in point whether or not the Apostle were contemplating a speedy or distant return of the Lord. If He returns before the believer’s death, His coming is of course the final crisis; if otherwise, “the redemption of the body ,” and so far the redemption of the being, is deferred. Cp. Ephesians 4:30 ; 2 Timothy 1:12 .
The “Day” of Christ is mentioned below, 1:10, 2:16; and altogether, in St Paul, about twenty times. For the Lord’s own use of the word “Day” for the Crisis of His Return as Judge and Redeemer, cp. Matthew 7:22 , Matthew 7:10 :15, Matthew 7:11 :22, Matthew 7:24 , Matthew 7:12 :36, Matthew 7:24 :36; Luke 17:24 , Luke 17:26 (“days”), 30, 31, 21:34; John 6:39 , John 6:40 , John 6:44 , John 6:54 .
7 . meet ] Lit., and better, just, right .
for me ] The pronoun is emphatic in the Greek; “for me , whatever may be right for others.”
to think this ] Better, to be of this mind , to feel the thankfulness and joy described above (ver. 3, 4). The Greek verb (a favourite with St Paul) almost always denotes not an articulate act of thought but a “state of mind.” See, for some passages where this remark is important, Romans 8:5 , Romans 8:6 , Romans 8:7 , Romans 8:27 ; Romans 12:3 , Romans 12:16 ; below, 3:15, 19; Colossians 3:2 . For another shade of meaning see 4:10, and note.
of you ] R.V., “on behalf of you.” His joyful thanks were given not only “about” them but “on behalf” of them, as being an element in intercessory worship. But the usage of the Greek preposition allows either rendering.
because , &c.] Such feelings are specially right for him, because of the intimacy of affectionate intercourse which has brought him into living contact with the glow of their spiritual life.
I have you in my heart ] The Greek admits the rendering (A.V. and R.V., margins) “you have me in your heart.” But the following context favours the text. For the warm thought, cp. 2 Corinthians 5:12 , 2 Corinthians 5:6 :11, 2 Corinthians 5:7 :3; 1 Thessalonians 2:17 .
in my bonds ] The first allusion in the Epistle to imprisonment. Here again the grammar leaves two explanations open. Grammatically, the Apostle may say either that he has them in his heart both in his bonds and in his advocacy of the Gospel; or that in both these experiences they are partners of his grace. But the latter is the far more probable. There is something artificial in the statement that he carried them in his heart both in his imprisonment and in his work; for to him the two experiences would run up into one. But it would be natural for the Philippians (see next note but one) to isolate the two experiences of the Apostle in thought and sympathy.
the defence and confirmation ] The two words are linked, in the Greek, into one idea. “Defence”: Greek, apologia . For the word, see Acts 20:1 , Acts 20:25 :16; below, 16; and esp. 1 Peter 3:15 . Unlike our word “apology,” in its every-day use, it means the statement of a good case against an accuser. Acts 28:17-23 shews us St Paul “apologizing” in his Roman prison. The early “Apologies” for Christianity, e.g. by Justin and Tertullian (cent. 2), are apologies in this sense.
ye all are partakers of my grace ] This has been explained to mean that they too knew by experience the power of grace under imprisonment and in evangelistic work. But we have no reason to think that “all” (if indeed any) of the Philippian converts had been imprisoned at this date. The natural meaning is that their sympathy, and active assistance (4:10 19), had so united them with both the bearing and doing of the Apostle that in this sense they were bound with him, and worked with him, and felt the power of God with him. The word “grace” here (as in Romans 1:5 ; Ephesians 3:2 , Ephesians 3:8 ) may refer to the gracious gift to him of apostolic work and trial, rather than to the internal Divine power for service. In this case, still more plainly, the Philippians were partners in “his grace.” A closer rendering of the Greek is, copartners of my grace as you all are.
8 . God is my record ] Better, witness ; for which word “record” is a synonym in older English, e.g. in Chaucer. For this solemn and tender appeal cp. Romans 1:9 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:5 , 1 Thessalonians 2:10 ; and see 2 Corinthians 1:18 .
long after ] The Greek verb is full of a yearning, homesick tenderness. It occurs in similar connexions, Romans 1:11 ; 1 Thessalonians 3:6 ; 2 Timothy 1:4 ; below, 2:26; and its cognates, Romans 15:23 ; 2 Corinthians 7:7 , 2 Corinthians 7:11 (?), 9:14; below, 4:1. St Paul employs the verb also, with beautiful significance, to denote the believer’s yearning for heavenly rest and glory, 2 Corinthians 5:2 ; St James, for the Spirit’s yearning jealousy for our spirits’ loyalty, James 4:5 ; St Peter, for the regenerate man’s longing for the “milk” of Divine truth, 1 Peter 2:2 .
in the bowels of Jesus Christ ] MS. evidence favours the order Christ Jesus , see note on ver. 1. “In the bowels”: better perhaps in the heart . The Greek word in the classics means, strictly, the “nobler vitals,” including the heart, as distinguished from the intestines (Æschylus, Agam. , 1221). On the other hand the Septuagint in their (rare) use of the word do not observe such a distinction, and render by it the Heb. rachǎmîm , the bowels, regarded as the seat of tender feeling. But in any case, the question is not of anatomy, but of current usage and reference; and our word “heart” is thus the best rendering. The phrase here carries with it no assertion of a physicospiritual theory; it only uses, as a modern naturalist might equally well do, a physical term as a symbol for non-physical emotion. R.V. paraphrases “ tender mercies .”
The phraseology (“ in the heart of Christ Jesus ”) is deeply significant. The Christian’s personality is never lost, but he is so united to his Lord, “one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17 ), that the emotions of the regenerate member are, as it were, in continuity with those of the ever-blessed Head. Tyndale (1534), Cranmer (1539), and Geneva (1557) render “from the very heart root in Jesus Christ.” The ministration of His life to the member is such that there is more than sympathy in the matter; there is communication.
9 . I pray ] He takes up the words, ver. 4, “in every request for you all.”
that ] Lit., by classical rules, “ in order that .” But in later Greek the phrase has lost its more precise necessary reference to purpose , and may convey (as here) the idea of purport , significance. So we say, “a message to this effect,” meaning, “in these terms.” In John 17:3 (where lit., “ in order to know, &c .”), the phrase conveys the kindred idea of equivalence, synonymous description; “life eternal” is, in effect , “to know God.”
your love ] Perhaps in its largest reference; Christian love, however directed, whether to God or man, to brethren or aliens. But the previous context surely favours a certain speciality of reference to St Paul; as if to say, “your Christian love, of which I have such warm evidence.” Still, this leaves a larger reference also quite free.
abound ] A favourite word with St Paul. In this Ep. it occurs again, ver. 26, 4:12, 18. Cp. 1 Thessalonians 4:1 for a near parallel here. Nothing short of spiritual growth ever satisfies St Paul. “The fire in the Apostle never says, Enough ” (Bengel).
in ] As a man “abounds in” e.g. “hope” (Romans 15:13 ). He prays that their love may richly possess knowledge and perception as its attendants and aids.
knowledge ] Greek, epignôsis , more than gnôsis . The structure of the word suggests developed, full knowledge; the N.T. usage limits the thought to spiritual knowledge. It is a frequent word with St Paul.
all judgment ] “All”: with reference to the manifold needs and occasions for its exercise; judgment developed, amplified to the full for full use. “Judgment”: lit. “ sensation, perception .” The word occurs here only in N.T., and cognates to it only Luke 9:45 ; Hebrews 5:14 . R.V., “ discernment .” But the word “judgment” (in the sense e.g. of criticism of works of art, or of insight into character) is so fair an equivalent to the Greek that the A.V. may well stand. In application, the “judgment” would often appear as delicate perception, fine tact ; a gift whose highest forms are nowhere so well seen as in some Christians, even poor Christians.
10 . That ] Better, as better marking a close sequence on the last clause, so that .
approve ] Better, in modern English, test . The spiritual “judgment” was to be thus applied.
things that are excellent ] “the things, &c.” R.V. An alternative rendering is, that ye may prove (test) the things that differ ; so margin R.V.; “that you may use your spiritual judgment in separating truth from its counterfeit, or distortion.” The two renderings come to much the same; for the “approval of the excellent thing” would be the immediate result of the “detection of its difference.” We prefer the margin R.V., however; first, as giving to the verb its rather more natural meaning, and then, as most congruous to the last previous thought, the growth of “judgment.”
that ye may be ] It is implied that the process of “discernment” would never be merely speculative. It would be always carried into motive and conduct.
sincere ] The idea of the Greek word is that of clearness, disengagement from complications. One derivation (favoured by Bp Lightfoot here) is military; from the orderly separateness of marshalled ranks. Another and commoner one is solar; from the detection of pollution by sunlight , with the thought of the clearness of what has passed such a test well. The word “sincere” (from Lat. sincerus ) has a possible connexion with “ sin -gle,” and so with the idea of separation, disengagement, straightness of purpose. In Latin, it is the equivalent to our “ unadulterated .”
without offence ] I.e., “without stumbling-block ” (Lat., offendiculum ). Our common meaning of “offence,” with its special reference to grievances and pique, must be banished from thought in reading the English Bible. There these words are always used to represent original words referring to obstacles, stumbling, and the like. So e.g. 2 Corinthians 6:3 , “giving no offence ” means, presenting no obstacle such as to upset the Christian principle or practice of others. “ Without offence ” here (one word in the Greek) may mean, grammatically, either “ experiencing no such obstacle” or “ presenting none.” The word occurs elsewhere only Acts 24:16 ; 1 Corinthians 10:32 ; and the evidence of these passages is exactly divided. On the whole the context here decides for the former alternative. The Apostle is more concerned at present with the inner motives than the outer example of the Philippians: he prays that the simplicity (sincerity) of their spiritual relations with God may be such as never to “upset” the inner workings of will and purpose. Tyndale and Cranmer render here, “that ye may be pure, and such as (should) hurt no man’s conscience;” Geneva, “that ye may be pure, and go forward without any let.” So Beza’s Latin version.
till the day of Christ ] Lit. unto , &c.; “against, in view of, the great crisis of eternal award.” So 2:16, where see note. On the phrase “ the day of Christ” see note on 1:6, above.
11 . Being filled ] Lit. and better, having been filled . He anticipates the great Day, and sees the Philippians as then, completed and developed as to the results of grace. His prayer for them is that they may be then found “filled” with such results; bearers of no scanty or partial “fruit”; trees whose every branch has put forth the produce described Galatians 5:22 , Galatians 5:23 .
fruits ] Rather, on documentary evidence, fruit ; as in Galatians 5:22 . The results of grace are manifold, and yet a total, a unity; effects and manifestations of one secret, ingredients in one character, which, if it lacks one of them, is not fully “itself.”
of righteousness ] The phrase “ fruit of righteousness” occurs in the LXX., Proverbs 11:30 , Proverbs 11:13 :2; Amos 6:12 ; and in St James, 3:18. By analogy with such phrases as e.g. “fruit of the Spirit,” it means not “fruit which is righteousness,” but “fruit which springs from righteousness.” “Righteousness” is properly a condition satisfactory to Divine law. Thus it often means the practical rectitude of the regenerate will; and so probably here. But often in St Paul we can trace an underlying reference to that great truth which he was specially commissioned to explain, the Divine way of Justification; the acceptance of the guilty, for Christ’s sake, as in Him satisfactory to the Law, broken by them, but kept and vindicated by Him. See further below, on 3:9. Such an inner reference may be present here; the “fruit” may be the fruit not merely of a rectified will, but of a person accepted in Christ.
which are ] Read, which is .
by Jesus Christ ] Through Him, as both the procuring cause, by His merits, of the new life of the saints, and the true basis and secret of it, in their union with His life. Cp. Romans 5:17 .
unto the glory and praise of God ] The true goal and issue of the whole work of grace, which never terminates in the individual, or in the Church, but in the manifestation of Divine power, love, and holiness in the saving process and its result. “To Him are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:36 ). “ God ” here is distinctively the Eternal Father, glorified in the members of His Son.
12 20 . Account of St Paul’s present Circumstances and Experience
12 . But ] Better, now , as R.V.
I would , &c.] More lit. and simply, I wish you to know ; I desire to inform you.
the things which happened unto me ] More lit. and simply, my circumstances , with no special reference to the past. Wyclif renders, with the Vulgate Latin, “the thingis that ben aboute me”; so the (Romanist) Rhemish version 1582; “the things about me”; Tyndale, “my business.” He means his imprisonment, which had proved and was proving a direct and indirect occasion for Gospel-work.
rather ] than otherwise, as had seemed so likely à priori .
furtherance ] Better, as R.V., progress . The Greek gives the idea of an advance made by the Gospel.
13 . So that , &c.] Render, So that my bonds are become manifest (as being) in Christ . In other words, his imprisonment has come to be seen in its true significance, as no mere political or ecclesiastical matter, but due to his union of life and action with a promised and manifested Messiah.
in all the palace ] Greek, “ in the whole Prœtorium (praitôrion) .” The word occurs elsewhere in N. T., Matthew 27:27 ; Mark 15:16 ; John 18:28 , John 18:33 , John 18:19 :9; Acts 23:35 ; in the sense of the residence, or a part of it, of an official grandee, regarded as a prœtor , a military commander. (Not that the word, in Latin usage, always keeps a military reference; it is sometimes the near equivalent of the word villa , the country residence of a Roman gentleman.) The A.V. rendering here is obviously an inference from these cases, and it assumes that St Paul was imprisoned within the precincts of the residence of the supreme Prætor, the Emperor; within the Palatium , the mansion of the Cæsars on the Mons Palatinus, the Hill of the goddess Pales. In Nero’s time this mansion (whose name is the original of all “palaces”) had come to occupy the whole hill, and was called the Golden House. The rendering of the A.V. is accepted by high authorities, as Dean Merivale ( Hist. Rom . vi. ch. 54), and Mr Lewin ( Life and Epistles of St Paul , ii. p. 282). On the other hand Bp Lightfoot (on this verse, Philippians , p. 99) prefers to render “in all the Prætorian Guard,” the Roman life-guard of the Cæsar; and gives full evidence for this use of the word Prœtorium . And there is no evidence for the application of the word by Romans to the imperial Palace. To this last reason, however, it is fair to reply, with Mr Lewin, that St Paul, as a Provincial, might very possibly apply to the Palace a word meaning a residency in the provinces, especially after his long imprisonment in the royal Prœtorium at Cæsarea (Acts 23:35 , Acts 24:27 ). But again it is extremely likely, as Bp Lightfoot remarks, that the word Prœtorium , in the sense of the Guard, would be often on the lips of the “soldiers that kept” St Paul (Acts 28:16 ); and thus this would be now the more familiar reference. On the whole, we incline to the rendering of Lightfoot, (and of the R.V.) throughout the (whole) Prætorian Guard . Warder after warder came on duty to the Apostle’s chamber (whose locality, on this theory, is nowhere certainly defined in N. T.), and carried from it, when relieved, information and often, doubtless, deep impressions, which gave his comrades knowledge of the Prisoner’s message and of the claims of the Saviour.
Other explanations of the word Prœtorium are ( a ) the Barrack within the Palatium where a detachment of Prætorians was stationed, and within which St Paul may have been lodged; ( b ) the great Camp of the Guard, just outside the eastern walls of Rome. But the barrack was a space too limited to account for the strong phrase, “in all the Prætorium”; and there is no evidence that the great Camp was ever called Prætorium.
Wyclif renders, curiously, “in eche moot (council) halle”; Tyndale, Cranmer, and Geneva, “throughout all the judgment hall.”
in all other places] Better, to all other (men) ; to the Roman “public,” as distinguished from this special class. The phrase points to a large development of St Paul’s personal influence.
14 . many ] Better, most . It is noticeable that the Apostle should imply that there were exceptions. Possibly, he refers here to what comes out more clearly below, the difference between friendly and unfriendly sections among the Roman Christians. We can scarcely doubt (in view of Romans 16:0 and Acts 28:0 ) that the friendly were the majority. If so, St Paul may here practically say that a majority of the brethren were energized into fresh efforts, by his imprisonment, while a minority, also stirred into new activity, were acting on less worthy motives. In view of the context, this seems more likely than that he should merely imply by this phrase that the revival of activity was not universal.
In any case, this verse implies that a spirit of languor and timidity had recently infected the believing community at Rome.
the brethren in the Lord ] So also R.V. Bps Ellicott and Lightfoot connect the words here otherwise; “ the brethren, having in the Lord confidence , &c.” Grammatically, either is possible. But to us the “rhythm of the sentence,” a sort of evidence not easy to define and explain, but a real item for decision, seems to plead for the connexion in the text. It is true that the precise phrase “brethren in the Lord” is not found elsewhere. But a near parallel is Romans 16:13 , “Rufus, the chosen one in the Lord”; for there too the words “in the Lord” are in a certain sense superfluous. See too Romans 16:8 , Romans 16:10 .
waxing confident ] More strictly and simply (for the Greek participle is practically, though not in form, a present ), being confident, confiding . The idea is that of a sense of rest and reassurance after misgivings.
by my bonds ] More closely, perhaps, in my bonds. The “confidence was, in a sense, reposed “in,” or on, Paul’s chains, his captivity, just so far as that captivity vividly reminded the Roman believers of the sacredness and goodness of the cause, and of the Person, for whose sake the Apostle unflinchingly incurred it and willingly bore it. The heart is the best interpreter of such words.
For the construction in the Greek, cp. Philemon 1:21 , the only exact N.T. parallel. It is found, but rarely, in the LXX.
are much more bold ] Lit., and better, more abundantly venture . They “venture” more often, more habitually, than of late. On the bearing of such statements on the date of the Epistle see Introduction, p. 16.
to speak the word ] “The word of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18 ); “of truth” (Ephesians 1:13 ); “of life” (below, 2:16); “of Christ” (Colossians 3:16 ); “of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 1:8 , 1 Thessalonians 4:15 ); &c. It is the revealed and delivered account of what Christ is, has wrought, &c. It is observable that St Paul regards such “speaking” as the work, not only of the class of ordained Christians, but of Christians in general. See further on 2:16.
15 . Some indeed ] Here he refers to members of that Judaistic party, or school, within the Church, which followed him with persistent opposition, especially since the crisis (Acts 15:0 ) when a decisive victory over their main principle was obtained by St Paul in the Church-council at Jerusalem. Their distinctive idea was that while the Gospel was the goal of the Mosaic institutions, those institutions were to be permanently, and for each individual convert, the fence or hedge of the Gospel. Only through personal entrance into the covenant of circumcision could the man attain the blessings of the covenant of baptism. Such a tenet would not necessarily preclude, in its teacher, a true belief in and proclamation of the Person and the central Work of the true Christ, however much it might (as it did, in the course of history) tend to a lowered and distorted view even of His Person (see further, Appendix D.). St Paul was thus able to rejoice in the work of these preachers, so far as it was a true conveyance to Pagan hearers at Rome of the primary Fact of the Gospel Jesus Christ. The same Apostle who warns the Galatian and Philippian (3:2) Christians against the distinctive teaching of this school, as a teaching pregnant with spiritual disaster, can here without inconsistency rejoice in the thought of their undistinctive teaching among non-Christians at Rome.
For allusions to the same class of opponents see Acts 15:1-31 , Acts 20:30 (perhaps), 21:20 25; and particularly the Ep. to the Galatians at large. The passages in which St Paul asserts his authority with special emphasis, as against an implied opposition, or again asserts his truthfulness as against implied personal charges, very probably point in the same direction.
Not that the Judaizer of the Pharisaic type was his only adversary within the Church. He had also, very probably, to face an opposition of a “libertine” type, a distortion of his own doctrine of free grace (Romans 6:1 , &c., and below, 3:18, 19); and again an opposition of the mystic, or gnostic, type, in which Jewish elements of observance were blent with an alien theosophy and angelology (see the Ep. to the Colossians). But ch. 3:1 9 fixes the reference here to Christians of the type of Acts 15:1 .
even of envy ] A mournful paradox, but abundantly verifiable. Render (or paraphrase) here, some actually for envy and strife, while others as truly for goodwill .
good will ] The Greek word, eudokia , in N.T. usually means “good pleasure,” in the sense of choice of what is “good” in the chooser’s eyes. See Matthew 11:26 ; Luke 10:21 ; Ephesians 1:5 , Ephesians 1:9 ; below, 2:13. But in the few remaining passages the idea of benevolence appears; Luke 2:14 ; Romans 10:1 ; and perhaps 2 Thessalonians 1:11 . Both meanings appear in the use of the word in the LXX, and in Ecclesiasticus. There it often denotes the favour of God; Heb. râtsôn . The idea here is strictly cognate; what in a lord is the goodwill of favour is in a servant the goodwill of loyalty.
16 . The one preach Christ , &c.] There is good critical evidence for reading vv. 16, 17 in the opposite order to that of the A.V. Render, with R.V., The one do it of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the Gospel; but the other proclaim Christ of faction , &c. It is possible to render, with Bp Ellicott, “ Those who are (men) of love , do it, &c.… but those who are (men) of faction , &c.” But this puts a certain strain on the Greek, and is not required by the context.
preach ] Better, with R.V., proclaim ; not the same verb as that rendered “preach” just above. It is a word of slightly greater force.
contention ] Better, faction , or rather factiousness, partizanship . The Greek word means first, “work for hire”; passes thence by usage into special political references, denoting hired canvassing, or other interested party-work; and lastly emerges into the present meaning. It is used similarly Romans 2:8 ; 2 Corinthians 12:20 ; Galatians 5:20 ; below, 2:3 (where see note); James 3:14 , James 3:16 .
sincerely ] Lit. purely .
to add affliction to my bonds ] So the Received Text. But a better reading gives to raise up . The R.V. gives a good paraphrase; thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds . So Alford. Lightfoot suggests the paraphrase, “thinking to make my chains gall me ,” the word rendered “affliction” meaning literally “ rubbing ,” or “ pressure .” (The Vulgate here has pressura , a word which easily bears, however, a non-physical meaning.) But the suggestion seems to us not altogether probable.
How did the persons in question expect to “raise up trouble” for the imprisoned Apostle? By preventing the access of enquirers or converts to him, unable as he was to go after them. Loyal fellow-workers would have made it a point to bring their hearers under the personal influence of the great Messenger of Christ, and also into a connexion of order with him. Every instance in which the opposite was done was fitted to try severely the spirit of St Paul; to afflict him in and through his position of restraint.
17 . I am set ] Lit., “ I lie .” But the A.V. and R.V. are right. See the same verb clearly in the same sense, Luke 2:34 ; 1 Thessalonians 3:3 . The thought is as of a soldier posted, a line of defence laid down. Still, there may be also an allusion in the word, used in this context, to the fact of his literal fixture in one spot.
defence ] Lit., “ apology ,” apologia; vindication. See on ver. 7 above. Perhaps the point of the word here is that the loyal Christians recognized in their freedom a call to move about as active evangelists; in St Paul’s captivity, a call to him rather to clear up the difficulties and develope the intelligent faith of enquirers brought in by them. The “men of faction” might affect to see in St Paul’s chain a sign of Divine prohibition and displeasure; the “men of love” would recognize in it a sign of designation to a special and noble work.
18 . What then? ] “What matters it? Qu’importe? ” The right order of the two previous verses gives full force to such a question.
notwithstanding ] Better, only . With beautiful significance he modifies the thought that it matters not . There is one respect in which it matters; it promotes the diffusion of the Gospel.
R.V. reads, only that ; an elliptical phrase, for “only I must confess that,” or the like. The documentary evidence for the word “ that ” is strong, but not decisive.
pretence ] The Judaists would “pretend,” perhaps even to themselves, that their energy came of pure zeal for God.
preached ] Better, proclaimed . See second note on ver. 16. In modern English the Greek (present) tense is best represented by is being proclaimed .
I therein ] Better, therein I , &c. There is no emphasis on “ I ” in the Greek.
will rejoice ] Better, perhaps, with Alford, Ellicott, and Lightfoot (but not so R.V.), shall rejoice ; an expectation, rather than a resolve. He is assured that the future will only bring fresh reasons for rejoicing.
No long comment is needed on the noble spiritual lesson of this verse. The interests of his Lord are his own, and in that fact, realized by the grace of God, he finds, amidst circumstances extremely vexatious in themselves, more than equanimity positive happiness. Self has yielded the inner throne to Christ, and the result is a Divine harmony between circumstances and self, as both are seen equally subject to Him and contributing to His ends.
19 . For I know ] A development of the thought implied in “I shall rejoice,” just above. Subordinate to the supreme fact that “Christ is being proclaimed,” comes in here the delightful certainty that the attendant discipline will further his own spiritual and eternal good, always in connexion with service rendered to his Lord.
that this shall turn to my salvation ] Rather more closely, in view of the Greek idiom, that I shall find this thing result in salvation .
“ Salvation ”: here, probably, final glory. The word sótêria includes, in its widest reference, the whole process of saving mercy, from the gift of the Saviour to the ultimate bliss of the saved. More definitely, in the life of the Christian, it points sometimes to his first knowledge of and faith in the Saviour (2 Corinthians 6:2 ), sometimes to the lifelong process of his Divine preservation in Christ (2 Timothy 2:10 ; 1 Peter 1:9 ), more frequently to the heavenly issue of the whole in glory (Romans 13:11 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:8 ; Hebrews 9:28 ; 1 Peter 1:5 ). The same may be said of the cognate verb, only that it more often than the noun refers to the lifelong process.
In a few passages (e.g. Acts 27:34 ) the noun refers to bodily preservation. But this meaning is precluded here by the reference just below to the “supply of the Spirit .”
through your prayer ] He is sure of the coming blessing, and equally sure of the efficacy of the means to it intercessory prayer. For St Paul’s high estimate of the worth of intercession for himself and his work cp. e.g. Romans 15:30 ; 2 Corinthians 1:11 ; Colossians 4:3 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:1 .
the supply ] The Greek word slightly indicates a supply which is large and free. For the thought cp. John 10:10 .
of the Spirit of Jesus Christ ] Here first, what is “ the Spirit of Jesus Christ ”? Certainly not merely “His principles and temper.” So vague a meaning of the word “Spirit” is foreign to the N. T. 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 personal Paraclete who was to be His Divine Representative and Equivalent in the true Church (Joh. 14 16), assures us that this is the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the blessed Trinity. He is “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” because in the eternal relations within Deity He “proceeds” from the Eternal Son, and is sent by Him (John 15:26 ) as well as by the Father (14:16, 26), and is so one with Christ that where the Spirit comes Christ comes (14:18). His whole work for and in the Church and the soul is essentially and entirely connected with the glorified Lord. He regenerates by effecting our vital union with Christ; He sanctifies and strengthens by maintaining and developing it. We possess the Spirit because of Christ; we possess Christ, in the sense of union, by the Spirit.
Secondly, what is “ the supply of the Spirit”? Grammatically, the phrase may mean either, “the supply which is the Spirit,” or, “the supply which the Spirit gives.” Happily the two practically converge. But we prefer the former, in view of Galatians 3:5 , where the verb “ ministereth ,” R.V. “ supplieth ,” is cognate to the noun “ supply ” here. The Apostle thus anticipates, in answer to the Philippians’ prayers, a new outpouring within him of the power of the blessed Paraclete, developing there the presence of Jesus Christ. Cp. his own prayer for other converts, Ephesians 3:14-19 .
20 . According to ] He describes this “supply of the Spirit” by its longed for and expected results, which would thus prove the test “according to” which it would be known as present.
earnest expectation ] Lit., “ waiting with outstretched head ”; one forcible word in the Greek. It occurs here and Romans 8:19 .
ashamed ] I.e. practically, disappointed ; as often in Scripture language. See Psalms 25:3 ; Zechariah 9:5 ; Romans 5:5 , Romans 5:9 :33; 2 Timothy 1:12 .
boldness ] More precisely, boldness of speech . See Ephesians 3:12 , Ephesians 6:19 , and notes in this Series. He looks to “the supply of the Spirit” to maintain in him an unwavering testimony to the Lord and His truth. Cp. Joel 2:28 with Acts 2:17 , Acts 2:18 ; 1 Corinthians 12:3 . Such testimony might or might not be literally verbal; but it would be utterance , whether in speech or act.
in my body ] The body is the spirit’s vehicle and implement in action upon others. See Romans 12:1 , and note in this Series; and cp. 2 Corinthians 4:10 . The impression made on others, the “magnification” of Christ in the view of others, “whether by means of life or by means of death,” would have to be effected through bodily doing or suffering.
by life, or by death ] We gather hence, and from 2:23, that the Epistle was written at a time of special suspense and uncertainty, humanly speaking, regarding the issue of the Apostle’s trial. See further just below.
21 26 . The same subject: the Alternative of Life or Death: Expectation of Life
21 . For , &c.] He takes up and expands the thought of the alternative just uttered, and the holy “indifference” with which he was able to meet it.
to me ] Strongly emphatic in the Greek. It is not self-assertion, however, but assertion of personal experience of the truth and power of God.
to live is Christ ] Luther renders this clause Christus ist mein Leben; and so Tyndale, “Christ is to me lyfe”; so also Cranmer, and the Genevan version. The Vulgate has vivere Christus; and this, the rendering of A.V. and R.V., is undoubtedly right. For the Apostle, undoubtedly, Christ was life, in the sense of source and secret; see Galatians 2:20 ; Colossians 3:4 . But what he is thinking of here is not the source of life, but the experiences and interests of living. Living is for him so full of Christ, so preoccupied with Him and for Him, that “Christ” sums it up. Hence the “eager expectation” just expressed; eager, because it has to do with the supreme interest of life.
What the Apostle experienced in his own case is intended to be the experience of every believer, as to its essence. See Colossians 3:17 ; and cp. Ephesians 3:14-21 .
to die is gain ] This wonderful saying, uttered without an effort, yet a triumph over man’s awful and seemingly always triumphant enemy, is explained just below.
22 . But if I live in the flesh , &c.] The Greek construction here is difficult by its brevity and abruptness. R.V. renders “ But if to live in this flesh if this is the fruit of my work, then &c.”; and, in the margin, “ But if to live in the flesh be my lot, this is the fruit of my work; and &c.”; a rendering practically the same as A.V. This latter we much prefer, for grammatical reasons. It requires the mental insertion of “ be my lot ,” or the like; but this is quite easy, in a sentence where the words “ to live ” are obviously echoed from the words “ to live is Christ ” just above. As if to say, “But if this ‘living’ is still to be a ‘living in the flesh ,’ this is fruit &c.”
this is the fruit of my labour ] Rather better, in view of the Greek idiom, this I shall find fruit of work . This “living in the flesh,” as it will be “Christ,” so will be “fruit,” result, of lifelong work. He means that work for Christ, the being employed by Christ, is for him the pulse of life on earth; is life for him, in a certain sense. And this he expresses with additional force by saying not merely “work” but “fruit of work.” For the work is of course fruitful: he who abides in Christ “beareth much fruit ,” fruit that shall “remain” (John 15:5 , John 15:16 ), whether or no he sees it. It is only the “works of darkness” that can be “unfruitful” (Ephesians 5:11 ).
yet ] Lit. and better, and . The simple word suits the great rapidity of transition.
wot ] An old English present indicative, of which the infinitive is to wit . It was probably a past tense originally. See Skeat’s Etymological Dictionary . Wyclif has “knowe”. The Greek here is, precisely, “I recognize not”; “I do not see clearly” (Ellicott).
23 . For ] Read But , with conclusive evidence. The word here marks addition rather than distinction. An English writer would have dispensed with a transitional particle, probably.
in a strait betwixt two ] More precisely, with R.V., the two ; the two alternatives just spoken of, life and death. The imagery is of a man hemmed in right and left, so as to be stationary. Quite literally the words are, “I am confined from the two (sides)”; the position is one of dilemma, viewed from whichever side.
Wonderful is the phenomenon of this dilemma, peculiar to the living Christian as such. “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 that of the Apostle. But may we not have made it with a far different purport?… Life and death have seemed to us 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.)
To the question, “Is life worth living?” this is the Christian answer.
having a desire ] Lit., the desire . That is, the whole element of personal preference lies that way, not merely one desire among many. We may paraphrase, “ my longing being towards departure &c.”
to depart ] The verb ( analuein ) occurs only here and Luke 12:36 , where A.V. and R.V. render “when he shall return from the wedding,” but where we may equally well render, “when he shall depart , set out homewards, from the wedding.” The cognate noun analŭsis , whence our word analysis is transliterated, occurs 2 Timothy 4:6 , in a connexion exactly akin to this; “the time of my departure is at hand.” The root meaning of the verb has to do with loosing, undoing; and by usage it can refer to either ( a ) the dissolution of a compound (so the Vulgate here, cupio dissolvi ), or ( b ) the unmooring of a ship, or striking of a tent or camp. It does not occur in the LXX., but is not infrequent in the Apocrypha, and there usually means to go away, or, as another side of the same act, to return (cp. Tobit 2:8; Judith 13:1). Such a meaning is doubtless to be traced to the imagery of ( b ) above, but appears to have dropped all conscious reference to it. This apocryphal usage, and the comments here of the Greek expositors (St Chrysostom paraphrases our text by “ migration from hence to heaven”), are decisively in favour of our Versions as against the Vulgate. St Paul desires to leave for home; to break up his camp, to weigh his anchor, for that better country. See the same thought under other phraseology 2 Corinthians 5:1-8 ; where we see a “tent taken down,” and a wanderer “going to be at home with the Lord.”
Suicer ( Thesaurus , under ἀναλύω ), says that Melanchthon on his death-bed called the attention of his learned friend Camerarius to this word, dwelling with delight on the passage, correcting the “dissolution” of the Vulgate, and rendering rather, “to prepare for departure,” “to migrate,” or “to return home.” Luther renders here abzuscheiden , “to depart.”
and to be with Christ ] The other side of the fact of departure, and that which makes its blessedness. From this passage and 2 Corinthians 5:0 quoted above we gather that as it were not a space, but a mathematical line, divides the state of faith this side death from the state of sight that side; see esp. 2 Corinthians 5:7 , in its immediate context. “Those who blame as … presumptuous the fervours and speciality of devout affection, such as eminent Christians have expressed in their dying moments, know probably nothing of Christianity beyond the bare story they read in the Gospels, and nothing of human nature … as affected by religion, beyond what belongs to the servile sentiments of a Pelagian faith, better called distrust … Christianity meets us where most of all we need its aid, and it meets us with the very aid we need. It does not 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 Χριστῶ̣ εἶναι ) to be with Christ.” (Isaac Taylor, Saturday Evening , ch. xxvi.)
It is divinely true that the Christian, here below, is “with Christ,” and Christ with him. But such is the developed manifestation of that Presence after death, and such its conditions, that it is there as if it had not been before. Cp. Acts 7:59 ; words which St Paul had heard.
which is far better ] Probably read, for it is &c. And the Greek, quite precisely, is “ much rather better ”; a bold accumulation, to convey intense meaning. R.V., for it is very far better .
Observe that it is thus “better” in comparison not with the shadows of this life, but with its most happy light. The man who views the prospect thus has just said that to him “to live is Christ.” Death is “gain” for him, therefore, not as mere escape or release, but as a glorious augmentation; it is “Christ” still, only very far more of Christ.
24 . to abide in the flesh ] Quite lit., as Bp Lightfoot, to abide by the flesh , to hold fast to its conditions of trial, for the sake of the Lord and His flock.
more needful ] More necessary . Desire, and the sense of betterness, lie on the side of death; obligation, in view of the claims of others, lies on the side of life.
for you ] Lit. and better, on account of you .
25 . having this confidence ] The Greek is the same as in ver. 6 above, where see note.
I know ] An unqualified assertion, made more explicit still by the next verse. We have the strongest ground, from the merely historical point of view, for saying that this expectation was verified by the event; that the Apostle was released, and enabled to revisit his missions. See 1 Timothy 1:3 for an intimation of a visit to Macedonia , later in date than the writing of this passage.
It has been asked how this “ I know ” is to be reconciled with the “I know that ye all shall see my face no more ,” of Acts 20:25 . Were both verified by the event? We believe that they were, and that only our necessary ignorance of the history in detail makes the difficulty. We believe that the guidance of the Divine Spirit, however His action worked through a perfect freedom of mental processes in St Paul, secured the veracity of his deliberate forecasts in a way quite supernatural. But apart from this ground of inference, we think that Acts 20:25 has natural evidences of its fulfilment. The narrative there, vv. 37, 38, calls special and pathetic attention to the prediction; and it seems hardly credible that if it had been contradicted by events within a few years the passage should have remained intact; some sort of intimation that St Paul had after all met them again would have crept in. And we have seen that there is good evidence for the fulfilment of the present anticipation also. It seems reasonable, then, from the merely historical point of view, to assume that events did prevent an after-visit of St Paul’s to Ephesus, though he did revisit Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20 ); or at least that there was no such after-visit as allowed him to meet that body of presbyters again.
and continue with you all ] Better, with R.V., yea, and abide with you all . The word “abide” is repeated: it will be not only continuance, but continuance with you . Quite lit., “abide by you all”; as side by side in Christian life and labour.
furtherance ] R.V., progress ; more accurately. The A.V. suggests St Paul’s helping them on, which is not the point of the Greek word here. See above on ver. 12.
joy of faith ] Lit., “ joy of the faith .” R.V. “ joy in the faith .” But Romans 15:13 (“joy … in believing ”) seems to us to favour the A.V., and Marg. R.V. The definite article quite naturally may mean “ your faith,” your act and experience of believing. For the deep connexion between joy and faith see Rom. quoted above; Acts 16:34 ; 1 Peter 1:8 . Both “ progress ” and “ joy ” in this verse have relation to the word “faith.”
26 . rejoicing ] Better, with R.V., glorying ; not the same word as that just previous, nor akin to it. The Greek word is a favourite with St Paul, especially in the Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians. This fact is an item in the evidence for the time of writing of this Epistle. See Introduction, p. 14.
may be more abundant ] On the Greek word thus rendered we may make the same remark precisely as on “glorying”; see last note.
in Jesus Christ ] Read, with all the evidence, in Christ Jesus ; and see note on ver. 1 above. Observe here, as so often (see above, on ver. 8), how the whole action of the Christian’s life is carried on “ in Christ.” This glad exultant pleasure, this “glorying,” was to be experienced as by men in vital union with their Lord by the Spirit.
for me ] Lit. and better, in me . Here, on the other hand, “ in ” bears its frequent meaning of “ in the case of ,” “ on occasion of .” Cp. e.g. Galatians 1:24 ( not Galatians 1:16 ) and 2 Thessalonians 1:4 , a close parallel. This change of interpretation of the same preposition in one passage is not arbitrary. The phrase “ in Christ ” is, so to speak, stereotyped; not so this latter. St Paul was to be their occasion for “glorying,” as a living example of the Lord’s faithfulness and love, restoring him to the needing disciples.
by my coming to you ] R.V., “ through my presence with you .” Better, perhaps, through my coming to you . The word ( parousia ) rendered “coming” is lit. “presence”; but by usage it very frequently means “coming to be present,” as especially in the case of the “Parousia” of the Lord at the Great Day.
27 30 . Entreaties to cherish Consistency, and especially Unity, more than ever now in the Apostle’s absence
27 . Only , &c.] The mention of his anticipated coming and its joyful effects leads him to speak by way of caution and entreaty of the unvarying law of Christian duty, the same always whether he visited them or not. We trace in this Epistle, along with the Apostle’s desire that they should in a general sense live consistently, a special anxiety that the consistency of holy and unselfish mutual love should be more prevalent among them.
let your conversation be &c.) Lit., “ live your citizen-life in a way worthy of &c.” The verb represented by “ live your citizen-life ” occurs, in N.T., here and Acts 23:1 ; where A.V. simply, “I have lived .” A cognate noun occurs below, 3:20, an important illustrative passage; see note there. The verb is used in 2 Maccabees (6:1, 11:25) in the same sense of living a life, living according to certain laws or principles, without emphasis on the “citizen” element of the word. R.V., like A.V., here drops that element out of its rendering; let your manner of life be worthy &c. It is interesting to find the same verb in Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians, ch. 5 (Introduction, p. 27). “ Conversation ” in A.V. is used in its old and exact sense, still apparent in our word “ conversant .” It is the whole active intercourse and business of life, not merely the exchange of words . See note in this Series on Ephesians 2:3 . The Gospel is meant, by its essential principle, to rule and leaven the whole of human life.
or else be absent ] Words which are perfectly consistent with the two previous verses. He bids them live the life of holy consistency at once and always , not waiting for his presence in order to begin. See further, in the same strain, 2:12.
I may hear ] Strictly, of course, this refers only to the alternative of his prolonged absence. If he “came and saw them” hearing would be superseded. But this is obviously implied in the whole sentence.
your affairs ] Better, with R.V., your state . The literal rendering is “ the things concerning you .” The phrase occurs also, in St Paul, Ephesians 6:22 , and below 2:19, 20.
stand fast ] The Greek is one word, a verb not found earlier than the N.T., where it occurs eight times; here, and Mark 11:25 ; Romans 14:4 ; 1 Corinthians 16:13 ; Galatians 5:1 ; below, 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:15 . In Mark it appears to mean simply “ to stand ”; but in all the other places the idea of good foothold is conspicuous.
in one spirit ] For the precise phrase see (in the Greek) 1 Corinthians 12:13 ; Ephesians 2:18 . In both these passages the reference is clearly to the Holy Spirit, “in” whom the saints have been baptized with new life, and “in” whom they approach the Father through the Son. We therefore explain this place also of Him, as the surrounding, penetrating, Giver of life and power to each saint and to the community. On the word “Spirit” see notes in this Series on Romans 8:4 ; Ephesians 1:17 .
Manifestly, in the two places quoted above, the point of the word “one” is that the Unity of the Divine Agent must have its holy counterpart in the unity of the saints’ action “in Him.”
with one mind ] Lit. and better, with one soul . So Tyndale and Cranmer. Latin Versions, unanimes . Cp. in this Epistle the adjectives “ one-souled ” (2:2, where A.V. and R.V. “of one accord ”), “ equal-souled ” (2:20), and notes. The phrase “one soul” occurs also Acts 4:32 ; a close parallel to this passage, in which as in many others (see e.g. Matthew 12:18 , Matthew 12:26 :38; Luke 2:35 ; John 12:27 ; Acts 14:22 ; Ephesians 6:6 ; Hebrews 6:19 , Hebrews 12:3 ), the word soul ( psychê ) is associated with ideas of sensibility, as manifested either in suffering or action. It is possible that the word “ Spirit ” suggested, humanly speaking, the word “ soul ” to the Apostle, by the law of association. See Isaiah 57:16 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ; Hebrews 4:12 . If so, it may be further possible that he uses the two words in a significant connexion. “Soul” in Scripture appears often to connote life embodied, organized. Now here in the first place is the Divine Life-giver, the One Spirit; then we have the result and manifestation of His presence, the organization of it, as it were, in the “one soul ” of the believing company.
striving together ] The same word occurs below, 4:3, and only there in N.T. By derivation it refers to the athletic , or prize-seeking, contests of the games; the races, wrestlings, and boxings of the Greeks; favourite similes and metaphors with St Paul. See e.g. 1 Corinthians 9:24 , 1 Corinthians 9:27 ; 2 Timothy 2:5 , 2 Timothy 4:7 , and cp. Conybeare and Howson, Life &c. of St Paul , ch. xx. at the beginning. But the reference is quite subordinate to the general one of close and vigorous encounter with complex obstacles.
for the faith ] It is possible to render “ with the faith ”, and Lightfoot adopts this version. But not only does it involve a personification of “the faith” bolder than any parallel personification in St Paul (Lightfoot adduces for parallels 1 Corinthians 13:6 ; 2 Timothy 1:8 , itself a doubtful case; 3 John 1:8 ), but the whole stress of the passage lies on the cooperation of the Christians not with anything else but with one another . This is lost in the rendering in question.
“The faith of the Gospel”: i.e. the faith which embraces the Gospel. Cp. “faith of (the) truth,” 2 Thessalonians 2:13 . They were to strive, side by side, for the object of bringing men to believe the Gospel of their Lord. The objective meaning of the word “faith,” the body of truth, the Christian’s creed, is a meaning very rare, to say the least, in St Paul (see note on Ephesians 4:5 in this Series); and this other suits both context and construction better.
28 . terrified ] More precisely, scared . The verb (found here only in N.T., and nowhere in LXX. and Apocrypha) is used in classical Greek of the starting, or “shying,” of frightened animals, and thence of alarm in general. The word would specially suit the experience of the “little flock” in violent Philippi.
which is to them &c.] He means that the whole phenomenon of this union, stedfastness, energy, and calm of the saints in face of seemingly hopeless odds, is in itself an omen of the issue. Of course the statement is made not in the abstract, but in the particular case of the Gospel. Many a false and finally losing cause may conceivably be maintained for a time courageously and calmly. But the Apostle assumes that the Gospel is the eternal truth, sure of ultimate victory, and then says here that the realization of this fact, in the convictions of both its foes and its friends, will be all the more impressive the more the Church acts in the spirit of calm, united, decisive resolution.
perdition ] in its deepest and most awful sense; the eternal loss and ruin of all persistent opponents of God and His truth. So below, 3:19; and so always in N.T., excepting only Matthew 26:8 ; Mark 14:4 ; where the word means waste, spoiling, loss of a material thing.
salvation ] This word also bears its deepest sense here. The faithful believer, witness, and worker, is on the way to eternal glory; and the prospect brightens in anticipation and realization as the company of such disciples unites around, and in, the cause of Jesus Christ. On the word “ salvation ” see note above, on ver. 19.
and that ] “ That ” in the Greek, refers not immediately to the word “salvation” but to the whole previous idea, of opposition met in a way to encourage faith . God Himself has ordained the circumstances, and given the union and courage. See next note but one.
of God ] Lit. “ from God ”; so R.V. But the older English of the A.V. (and all previous English versions) is scarcely mistakable.
29 . For , &c.] He carries out the statement just made (see last note but one), by saying that not only the grounds of faith in Christ, and the power to believe, but the occasion of suffering for Christ, and the power to meet the suffering, are things of Divine grant and gift.
it is given ] Lit. “ it was given .” But the A.V. is true to English idiom. The verb rendered “give” denotes specially a grant of free favour or kindness. It is thus often used of free forgiveness, e.g. Luke 7:42 ; 2 Corinthians 2:7 , 2 Corinthians 2:10 ; Ephesians 4:32 ; sometimes of the work of free grace and salvation, e.g. Romans 8:32 ; 1 Corinthians 2:12 . (In Acts 3:14 , Acts 3:25 :11, Acts 3:16 , it is used of an arbitrary, extra-legal, giving up of a prisoner to others, either for liberation or penalty.) Thus the word here, with its associations of sovereignty, favour, boon, forms a noble paradox.
on the behalf of Christ ] The structure of the Greek indicates that the Apostle was about to write simply, “ it is granted you to suffer on behalf of Christ ”, but that he suspended the thought and phrase to insert, “ not only to believe on Him but to suffer on His behalf.” Thus “on the behalf of Christ” anticipates here the close of the verse, where it is repeated.
to believe on him ] Lit., “ into Him ,” a phrase suggesting the directness and holdfast of saving faith. But this speciality of meaning must not be pressed far, for the phrase occurs here and there in connexions not naturally adapted to such thought; e.g. John 2:23 , John 12:42 . The Greek verb is in the present tense, and points to the continuousness of the action of faith. The Christian, having once believed, lives by still believing. See Romans 11:20 ; Galatians 2:20 ; Hebrews 10:38 . Faith in Christ is here incidentally spoken of as a grant of Divine grace. See further on this, Ephesians 2:8 , and note in this Series.
for his sake ] Better with R.V., in His behalf , to mark the connexion of thought with the “in the behalf of Christ” just above.
30 . Having &c.] The Greek construction, if strictly taken, points back to the first clause of ver. 28, and leaves the intermediate words as a parenthesis. But it is much likelier that the construction here is free, and that this verse accordingly carries out the last words of ver. 29 into detail.
conflict ] Greek agôn , a word suggestive of the athletic arena rather than the battle-field. See above on “ striving together ,” ver. 27. It recurs Colossians 2:1 (perhaps for the “wrestlings” of prayer); 1 Thessalonians 2:2 ; 1 Timothy 6:12 ; 2 Timothy 4:7 ; Hebrews 12:1 . Our blessed Lord’s great “Wrestling” in Gethsemane, His sacred “Agony,” is called by the kindred word agônia , Luke 22:44 .
ye saw ] in the streets and in the court-house at Philippi; Acts 16:0 . One of the probable recipients of this letter, the Jailer, had not only “seen” but inflicted other sufferings in the dungeon.
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"Commentary on Philippians 1". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany