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The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
General Editor: J. J. S. PEROWNE, D.D.,
Bishop of Worcester
The Epistle to the
With Introduction And Notes
The Rev. H. C. G. Moule, M.A.
principal of ridley hall, and late fellow of trinity college
edited for the syndics of the university press
At the university press
[ All Rights reserved .]
By the General Editor
The General Editor of The Cambridge Bible for Schools thinks it right to say that he does not hold himself responsible either for the interpretation of particular passages which the Editors of the several Books have adopted, or for any opinion on points of doctrine that they may have expressed. In the New Testament more especially questions arise of the deepest theological import, on which the ablest and most conscientious interpreters have differed and always will differ. His aim has been in all such cases to leave each Contributor to the unfettered exercise of his own judgment, only taking care that mere controversy should as far as possible be avoided. He has contented himself chiefly with a careful revision of the notes, with pointing out omissions, with suggesting occasionally a reconsideration of some question, or a fuller treatment of difficult passages, and the like.
Beyond this he has not attempted to interfere, feeling it better that each Commentary should have its own individual character, and being convinced that freshness and variety of treatment are more than a compensation for any lack of uniformity in the Series.
Chapter I . Philippi: St Paul’s connexion with it
Chapter II . Date and occasion of the Epistle
Chapter III . Authenticity of the Epistle
Chapter IV . Relation of the Epistle to the other Epistles of the first Imprisonment
Chapter V . The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians
Chapter VI . Argument of St Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians
II. Text and Notes
* * * The Text adopted in this Edition is that of Dr Scrivener’s Cambridge Paragraph Bible . A few variations from the ordinary Text, chiefly in the spelling of certain words, and in the use of italics, will be noticed. For the principles adopted by Dr Scrivener as regards the printing of the Text see his Introduction to the Paragraph Bible , published by the Cambridge University Press.
In thy Orcharde (the wals, buttes and trees, if they could speak, would beare me witnesse) I learned without booke almost all Paules Epistles, yea and I weene all the Canonicall Epistles, saue only the Apocalipse. Of which study, although in time a great part did depart from me, yet the sweete smell thereof I truste I shall cary with me into heauen: for the profite thereof I thinke I haue felte in all my lyfe tyme euer after.
Bishop Ridley, to Pembroke Hall, (Pembroke College), Cambridge.
From A letter which he wrote as his last farewel to al his true and faythefull frendes in God , October, 1555, a few days before he suffered. Transcribed from Coverdale’s Letters of Martyrs , ed. 1564.
Philippi: St Paul’s Connexion with it
The site of Philippi is near the head of the Archipelago ( Mare Ægœum ), eight miles north-westward of the port of Kavala, or Kavalla, probably the ancient Neapolis. Just south of it runs the 41st parallel of north latitude; a little to the west, the 24th parallel of east (Greenwich) longitude. The place is at present a scene of ruins. A village hard by, also in ruins, still bears the name of Philibedjik 1 1 Lewin, Life and Epistles of St Paul , vol. i. p. 208. . In the first century the town occupied the southern end of a hill above a fertile plain, and extended down into the plain, so as to comprise a higher and a lower city. These were divided by the great Egnatian Road, which crossed Roman Macedonia from sea to sea. The higher town contained, among other buildings, the citadel, and a temple, built by the Roman colonists, to the Latin god Silvanus. The lower town contained the market-place, and the forum, a smaller square on which opened the courts of justice. Four massive columns are still standing at the foot of the hill, probably marking the four corners of the forum. A little more than a mile to the west of the town the small river Bounarbachi, anciently Gangas, Gangîtes, or Angîtes, and still called, at least at one part of its course, Angista, flows southward into a fen which borders the plain of the city, and to the south of which again rise the heights of Mount Pangæus, now Pirnári, rich of old in veins of gold and silver, and covered in summer with wild roses. The whole region is one of singular beauty and fertility.
The geographical position of Philippi was remarkable. It lay on a great thoroughfare from West to East, just where the mountain barrier of the Balkans sinks into a pass, inviting the road builders of Greek, Macedonian, and Roman times. It was this which led Philip of Macedon (b.c. 359 336) to fortify the old Thracian town of Daton 1 1 Lewin, i. 207. , or Crenîdes ( Fountains ). To the place thus strengthened he gave his name, and, by pushing his border eastward into Thrace, converted it from a Thracian into a Macedonian town 2 2 To Philip it was important not only for military strength but as a place of mines. He is said to have worked the old and almost abandoned mines so vigorously as to have drawn from them 10,000 talents yearly. Long before the Christian era, apparently, the supply of precious ore was finally exhausted. .
This position of Philippi accounts for the one great event in its secular history, the double battle in which (b.c. 42) some ninety-five years before St Paul first saw Philippi, the combined armies of Brutus and Cassius were defeated by Octavius (afterwards Augustus) and Marcus Antonius. Cassius encamped on Pangæus, south of the town, plain, and fen, Brutus on the slopes to the north, near the town; thus guarding from both sides the pass of the Egnatian road. First Cassius was routed, and two days later Brutus. Each in succession was slain, at his own command, by the hand of a comrade, and with them died the cause of the great republican oligarchy of Rome.
Augustus erected Philippi into a colony ( colonia , κολωνία , Acts 16:12 ), with the full title Colonia Augusta Julia Victrix Philipporum , or Philippensis . A colony, in the Roman sense, was a miniature Rome, a reproduction and outpost of the city. The colonists were sent out by authority, they marched in military order to their new home, their names were still enrolled among the Roman tribes, they used the Latin language and Latin coinage, their chief magistrates were appointed from Rome, and were independent of the provincial governors 1 1 Britain, like other frontier provinces, had its coloniœ; e.g. Lindum Colonia, Lin-coln . . These magistrates were two in each colony, Duumviri , and combined civil and military authority in their persons. At Philippi we find them assuming the grandiose title of commandants, prætors, στρατηγοί (Acts 16:20 ), and giving their constables the title of lictors, ῥαβδοῦχοι (ver. 35). They posed, in effect, as the more than consuls of their petty Rome. Much of the narrative of Acts 17:0 comes out with double vividness when the colonial character of Philippi is remembered.
In Acts 16:12 we find Philippi called, in the Authorized Version, “the chief city of that part of Macedonia.” The better rendering of the best-attested reading is, however, “a city of Macedonia, first of the district.” This may mean, grammatically, either that Philippi first met the traveller as he entered the region of Macedonia where it lay, or that it was the political capital of that region. Mr Lewin (i. 202, 206) advocates the latter view, and holds that Philippi succeeded Amphipolis as the capital of the “first,” or easternmost, of the four Roman “Macedonias.” Bp Lightfoot ( Philippians , p. 50) prefers decidedly the former view, maintaining that the fourfold Roman division was, by St Paul’s time, long disused. We incline, however, to an explanation nearer to Mr Lewin’s view; that Philippi is marked by St Luke as first, in the sense of most important, of its district; not officially perhaps, but by prestige.
We may remark in passing that the geographical position of Philippi is incidentally illustrated by the presence there of Lydia, the purple-merchant from Asiatic Thyatira, come to this important place of thoroughfare between her continent and Roman Europe. And the colonial, military, character of Philippi explains in a measure the comparative feebleness of its Jewish element, with their humble proseucha , or prayer-house (Acts 16:13 ), outside the walls.
On the story of St Paul’s work at Philippi there is little need to dwell in detail, so full and vivid is the narrative of Acts 16:0 , from the unobtrusive opening of the mission (a.d. 52) by the Apostle, with his coadjutors Silas, Timothy, and probably Luke 1 1 The narrative (Acts 16:1 17) is in the first person. On the “ we sections” of the Acts see Salmon, Introduction to the N. T. , pp. 371 &c. We may assume Timothy’s presence from Acts 16:1 &c. and 17:14, 15. , to the moment when Paul and Silas quit the house of Lydia, and, probably leaving Luke behind them, set out westward along the Egnatian road for Amphipolis. It is enough to say here that the whole circumstances there depicted harmonize perfectly with the contents and tone of our Epistle; with its peculiar affectionateness, as written to witnesses and partners of tribulation, with its entreaties to the disciples to hold together in the midst of singularly alien surroundings, and, we may add, with its allusions to the “citizen-life” of the saints whose central civic home is (not Rome but) heaven.
Twice after a.d. 52, within the period covered by the Acts, we find St Paul at Philippi. Late in the year 57 he left Ephesus for Macedonia (Acts 20:1 ; cp. 2 Corinthians 2:12 , 2 Corinthians 2:13 , 2 Corinthians 2:7 :5, 2 Corinthians 2:6 ), and undoubtedly gave to Philippi some of his “much exhortation.” In the spring of 58, on his return eastward from Corinth by Macedonia, he spent Passover at Philippi (Acts 20:6 ), lingering there, apparently, in the rear of the main company of his fellow-travellers, “that he might keep the paschal feast with his beloved converts” 2 2 Lightfoot, p. 60. .
Intercourse with Philippi was evidently maintained actively during his absences. Our Epistle (4:16) mentions two messages from the converts to St Paul just after his first visit, and the frequent allusions to Macedonia in the Corinthian Epistles indicate that during the time spent at Ephesus (say 55 57) Philippi, with the other “churches of Macedonia,” must have been continually in his heart and thoughts, and kept in contact with him by messengers.
On the question of a visit to Philippi later than the date of this Epistle, see notes on ch. 1:25, 26.
Before leaving the topic of St Paul’s intercourse with Philippi, we may notice two points in which distinctively Macedonian traits appear in the Christian life of the mission church. The first is the position and influence of women . We have women prominent in the narrative of Acts 16:0 , and in Philippians 4:2 we find two women who were evidently important and influential persons in the Church. And similar indications appear at Thessalonica (Acts 17:4 ) and Berœa ( ib. 12). Bp Lightfoot has collected some interesting evidence to shew that Macedonian women generally held an exceptionally honoured and influential position. Thus it is common, in Macedonian inscriptions, to find the mother’s name recorded instead of the father’s; and Macedonian husbands, in epitaphs upon their wives, use terms markedly reverent as well as affectionate. The Gospel doctrine of woman’s dignity would find good soil in Macedonia. The other point is the pecuniary liberality of the Philippians, which comes out so conspicuously in ch. 4. This was a characteristic of the Macedonian missions, as 2 Corinthians 8:9 , amply and beautifully prove. It is remarkable that the Macedonian converts were, as a class, very poor (2 Corinthians 8:1 ); and the parallel facts, their poverty and their open-handed support of the great missionary and his work, are deeply harmonious. At the present day the missionary liberality of poor Christians is, in proportion, vastly greater than that of the rich.
The post-apostolic history of Philippi is very meagre. We know scarcely anything of it with the one exception that St Ignatius passed it, on his way from Asia to his martyrdom at Rome, about the year 110. He was reverently welcomed by the Philippians, and his pathetic visit occasioned communications between them and Ignatius’ friend Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who then wrote to the Philippian Christians his one extant Epistle (see below, ch. 5). “Though the see is said to exist even to the present day,” writes Bp Lightfoot ( Philipians , p. 65), “the city itself has long been a wilderness.… Of the church which stood foremost among all the apostolic communities in faith and love, it may literally be said that not one stone stands upon another. Its whole career is a signal monument of the inscrutable counsels of God. Born into the world with the brightest promise, the Church of Philippi has lived without a history and perished without a memorial.” (See further, Appendix I.)
As we leave the ruins of Philippi, it is interesting to observe that among them have been found, by a French archeological mission (1864), inscriptions giving the names of the promoters of the building of the temple of Silvanus, and of the members of its “sacred college.” Among them occur several names familiar to us in the Acts and Epistles; Crescens, Secundus, Trophimus, Urbanus, Aristobulus, Pudens, and Clemens this last a name found in our Epistle.
Date and occasion of the Epistle
It may be taken as certain that the Epistle was written from Rome, during the two years’ imprisonment recorded by St Luke (Acts 28:30 ); that is to say, within the years 61 63. It is true that some scholars, notably Meyer 1 1 His reasons are fully stated and answered in Alford’s Prolegomena to the Ephesians . , have made Cæsarea Stratonis (Acts 24:23-27 ) the place of writing of the Philippians, Ephesians, and Colossians; and some who hesitate to assign the two latter epistles to the Cæsarean captivity assign the Philippians to it (see Lightfoot, p. 30, note). But the reasons on the other side seem to us abundantly decisive. Bp Lightfoot gives them somewhat as follows (pp. 30, 31, note). (1) The notice of “Cæsar’s household” (4:22) cannot naturally apply to Cæsarea. (2) The notice (1:12 &c.) of the progress of the Gospel loses point if the place of writing is not a place of great importance and a comparatively new field for the Gospel. (3) St Paul looks forward, in this Epistle, to an approaching release, and to a visit to Macedonia. This does not agree with his indicated hopes and plans at Cæsarea, where certainly his expectation (Acts 23:11 ) was to visit Rome, under whatever circumstances, most probably as a prisoner on appeal. The chief plea, in the Philippians , for Cæsarea is that the word prœtorium (1:13) corresponds to the prœtorium , or residency, of Herod at Cæsarea (Acts 23:35 ). But here again we may remark that the allusion in the Epistle indicates an area of influence remarkable and extensive, conditions scarcely fulfilled at Cæsarea. And Rome affords an obvious and adequate solution of the problem, as we shall see at the proper place in the text.
The subordinate question arises, when within the two years of the Roman captivity was our Epistle written? Was it early or late, before or after the Ephesians and the Colossians? which are plainly to be grouped together, along with the private letter to the Colossian Philemon.
A widely prevalent view is that the Philippians was written late, not long before St Paul’s release on the final hearing of his appeal. The main reasons for this view are
(1) the indications in the Epistle that the Gospel had made great progress at Rome;
(2) the absence in the Epistle of the names Luke and Aristarchus, who both sailed from Syria with St Paul (Acts 27:2 ) and who both appear in the Colossians and Philemon;
(3) the lapse of time after St Paul’s arrival at Rome demanded by the details of Epaphroditus’ case (Philippians 2:4 ), which seem to indicate that the Philippians had heard of St Paul’s arrival; had then despatched their collection (perhaps not without delay, 4:10) to Rome by Epaphroditus; had then heard, from Rome, that Epaphroditus had been ill there (2:26), and had then somehow let it be known at Rome ( ibid. ) that the news had reached them;
(4) the tone of the Epistle, in its allusions to St Paul’s strict imprisonment and to his entire uncertainty, humanly speaking, about the issue of his appeal; allusions said to be inconsistent with the comparative freedom indicated by the Acts, but consistent with a change for the worse in the counsels of Nero, such a change as would have occurred when (a.d. 62) the wicked Tigellinus succeeded the upright Burrus in command of the Guard.
Bp Lightfoot on the other hand takes the view that the Philippians was the earliest of the Epistles of the Captivity. And he meets the above arguments somewhat as follows.
(1) There is good evidence, both in the Acts and the Epistle, and above all in the Romans , for the belief that “a flourishing though unorganized Church” existed at Rome before St Paul’s arrival. Already, three years earlier, he had addressed his greatest Epistle “to all that were in Rome, beloved of God, called saints;” and there is strong reason to think that many of the Christians greeted in that Epistle (ch. 16) were identical with “the saints of the Household” of our Epistle (see on Philippians 4:22 ), and so that those “saints” were pre-Pauline converts, at least in many instances. And when he lands at Puteoli, in 61, he finds there too Christians ready to greet him. And on the other hand the allusions in our Epistle to the progress of the work at Rome must not be pressed too far, as if the whole population of the City was being stirred. What is meant is that a distinct and vigorous “new departure” was being made by the Roman Christians, as willing evangelists, and that the warders of the Apostle were carrying out the strange and interesting news of his doctrine and character among their fellow Prætorians and “people in general” ( οἱ λοιποὶ πάντες ). But all these notes excellently suit a time not long after the Apostle’s arrival, when the stimulus of his presence among the Christians would be powerful in its novelty, and when of course already the “soldiers that kept him” would be among his hearers, and not seldom, by the grace of God, his converts. Even the allusion (1:15) to internal opposition suits such a time better than a later, “when … antagonism … and … devotion … had settled down into a routine” (Lightfoot, p. 34).
(2) As regards the absence from the Philippians of the names Luke and Aristarchus, this is in the first place an argument from silence only, which cannot be conclusive. The two disciples may be included under the “brethren” and “saints” of 4:21, 22. But further, it is at least doubtful whether Aristarchus, though he sailed from Syria with St Paul, landed in Italy with him. He was a Thessalonian, and the vessel in which St Paul sailed was an Adramyttian, from the Ægæan, in which Aristarchus may have been on his way not to Rome but to Thessalonica 1 1 Indeed, the first intention of the centurion Julius may have been that his prisoners should be conveyed to Rome by way of the Ægæan, Macedonia, and the Adriatic (Lightfoot, p. 35, note). . From Macedonia he may easily have joined St Paul in Italy later, associating himself so closely there with the imprisoned Apostle as to earn the title of his “fellow-prisoner of war” (Colossians 4:10 ). As for Luke, it is obvious that at any time he might have left Rome on a temporary errand, to Puteoli perhaps, or some other outlying mission. And of course the same remark may be made of Aristarchus, supposing him to have been after all in Italy.
(3) The argument from the case of Epaphroditus is not strong. It is not necessary to suppose that a special message went from Rome to Philippi to announce St Paul’s arrival. Very possibly through Aristarchus (see just above), if not by some other means, the Philippians may have heard that he was far on his way, and may have acted on probabilities. Epaphroditus may even have left Philippi, with the collection, before St Paul reached Italy. And a month, under favourable circumstances, would suffice for a journey from Philippi to Rome, by Brundisium (Brindisi), Dyrrachium (the Illyrian port), and the Egnatian road across Macedonia 2 2 See Lightfoot’s interesting proofs, p. 38, note. . Thus if the Philippians was written only four months after St Paul’s arrival the time would amply include all we need infer under this head.
(4) The tone of the Epistle, with its suspense, its allusions to rigour of confinement, and on the other hand its expectations of release, is not conclusive for a late date. The imprisonment as depicted in it is after all no less and no more severe than Acts 28:16 implies. And the references to the trial and its uncertain issue would probably be at least as appropriate in the early stages of its progress, or under early experiences of its delays, as later. Doubtless the Epistle depicts trials and sorrows where the Acts speaks only of opportunity and success; but Bp Lightfoot well remarks that this is perfectly truth-like. The historian reviews the sum total of a very fruitful period of influence; the letter-writer speaks under the immediate pressure of the day’s, or the week’s, chequered circumstances. St Paul’s expectation of release is discussed in the notes (2:24); it certainly affords no decisive note of time. As for the promotion of Tigellinus, Lightfoot justly says that such changes in the Imperial court would make little difference, for better or worse, in the case of an obscure provincial prisoner, the missionary of a cultus which had not yet come to be thought politically dangerous.
If these arguments for a late date for the Epistle may be fairly answered thus, we have meanwhile positive evidence for an earlier date in the doctrinal affinities of the Philippians . These point towards the great central group of Pauline Epistles ( Romans, Corinthians, Galatians ), and especially towards the Romans , the latest written of that group. In Philippians 3:0 we have in prominence the doctrine of Justification, in the precise form of the doctrine of Imputed Righteousness, the believer’s refuge and peace in view of the absoluteness of the Divine Law. Now this is the characteristic topic of the Roman and Galatian Epistles, and in a minor degree of the Corinthian (1 Corinthians 1:30 , 1 Corinthians 1:4 :4, 1 Corinthians 1:6 :11; 2 Corinthians 3:9 , 2 Corinthians 5:19-21 ). But it is absent, as regards just this form of presentation, from the Ephesian and Colossian Epistles, in which St Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to deal more expressly with the closely related, but different sides of truth conveyed in such words as Union, Life, Indwelling, Universal Church. This is strong evidence for an approximation of the Philippians to the Romans , &c., in point of time, as near as other considerations allow. Certainly it makes it likely that the Ephesians and its group were not interposed between the Romans and the Philippians .
And on closer examination we find many links of thought and expression between the Romans and the Philippians , besides this main link. Bp Lightfoot (pp. 43, 44) collects the following parallelisms of this sort:
Compare Philippians 1:3-8 with Romans 1:8-11 : Compare Philippians 1:10 with Romans 2:18 : Compare Philippians 2:2-4 with Romans 12:10 , Romans 12:16-19 : Compare Philippians 2:8-11 with Romans 14:9-11 : Compare Philippians 3:3 with Romans 2:28 , Romans 1:9 , Romans 5:11 : Compare Philippians 3:4 , Philippians 3:5 with Romans 11:1 : Compare Philippians 3:10 , Philippians 3:11 , Philippians 3:21 with Romans 6:5 : Compare Philippians 3:19 with Romans 6:21 , Romans 16:18 : Compare Philippians 4:18 with Romans 12:1 . And he notes the following words and phrases as occurring in the two Epistles, and not elsewhere: ἀποκαραδοκία, σύμμορφος, ἐξ ἐριθείας, ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν, προσδέχεσθαι ἐν Κυρίῳ . See too our note on 1:26.
On the whole, we may date the Epistle, with great probability, late in the year 61 or early in 62. See further The Epistle to the Ephesians , in this Series, Introduction , pp. 19 22.
Of the occasion of writing, little needs to be said; the Epistle itself speaks clearly on the subject. The arrival of Epaphroditus bringing the Philippian gift, his illness at Rome, and his anxiety to return to Philippi, appear to have given the immediate suggestion and made the opportunity. We gather that besides this Epaphroditus had reported, as the one serious defect of Christian life at Philippi, a tendency to party-spirit, or at least to personal antagonisms and differences, especially in the case of two well-known female converts. See 1:2, 27, 2:2, 3, 14, 26, 4:2, and notes. And meanwhile St Paul takes the occasion to warn his beloved Philippians against errors of doctrine and practice which, if not already rife at Philippi, were sure to find their way there; the errors both of the Pharisaic legalist (3:2 11), and of the antinomian would-be Paulinist (3:13 19).
So, occasioned on the one hand by present circumstances, and on the other guided by the secret working of the Holy Spirit to form a sure oracle of God for the Church for ever, the Letter was dictated, and the greetings of the Writer’s visitors were added, and the manuscript was given over to Epaphroditus, to be conveyed across Italy, the Adriatic, and Macedonia, to the plain and hill of Philippi 1 1 For further particulars of St Paul’s life and work at Rome see Appendix A. .
Authenticity of the Epistle
No trace of doubt on this subject appears in early Christian literature. Amongst direct testimonies, and taking the later first, we may cite Tertullian (cent. 2 3). He ( de Resurrectione Carnis , c. xxiii.) quotes Phil. 3:11 13 2 2 With one curious variation of reading: persequor ad palmam incriminationis; as if reading τὸ βραβεῖον τῆς ἀνεγκλήσεως. , as “written by Paul to the Philippians.” He mentions ( de Prœscriptione , c. xxxvi.) Philippi among the Churches which possessed “authentic apostolic epistles,” that is, apparently, letters received at first hand from apostles. In his Reply to Marcion , bk. v., taking up the Pauline Epistles one by one for evidence against the Gnostic theory of Christianity taught by Marcion, he comes (c. xx.) to “the Epistle to the Philippians,” and quotes, or refers to, 1:14 18, 2:6 8, 3:5 9, 20, 21. It will be observed that this latter evidence is doubly valuable, as it assumes his opponent’s agreement with him about the authenticity.
Irenœus (late cent. 2) quotes ( de Hœresibus , iv., c. xviii. 4) Philippians 4:18 as the words of “Paul to the Philippians.”
Clement of Alexandria (late cent. 2) repeatedly quotes the Epistle. He brings ( Pœdogogus , i., c. vi., ed. Migne) Philippians 3:12-14 to refute those who “call themselves ‘perfect’ and ‘gnostic’.” In the Stromata , iv., c. iii., he refers to Philippians 3:20 , in the words “having obtained citizenship in heaven;” c. v., he quotes 1:13, 14 as the “words of the Apostle;” c. xiii. he quotes 1:7, 29, 30, 2:1, 2, 17, 20, 21, and refers to the Philippians as addressed by “the Apostle” in these passages.
In the contemporary Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne , describing the martyrdoms of a.d. 177 1 1 Preserved by Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. , v. cc. i. iv. The quotation is from c. ii. , the sufferers are said to have striven to “imitate Christ, who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:6 ).
Polycarp , in his Epistle to the Philippians (very early cent. 2), both refers (c. iii.) to the Epistle which St Paul had addressed to them, and manifestly echoes its phraseology. He speaks indeed of “Epistles.” But the plural is often used for the singular of this word; see Lightfoot in his Edition of Polycarp ( Apostolic Fathers , Pt. ii.; Vol. ii., sect. ii., p. 911). Polycarp’s Epistle is given below, nearly in full; Introduction, ch. v.
Ignatius , on his way to martyrdom (about a.d. 110), wrote a series of Epistles. In that to the Romans, c. ii., he speaks of his desire to be “poured out as a libation to God”; to the Philadelphians he writes (c. viii), “do nothing in a spirit of faction” (Philippians 2:3 ); to the Smyrnæans (c. iv.) “I endure all things, for He, the perfect Man, strengtheneth me”; and (c. xi), “being perfect, be ye also perfectly minded.” These passages, taken together, are good evidence for Ignatius’ knowledge of the Epistle.
All the ancient Versions, including the oldest Syriac (cent. 2), and all the lists of N. T. books, of cent. 2, contain the Epistle.
Such evidence, combined on the one hand with the total absence of ancient negative testimony, and on the other with the perfect naturalness, and intense and tender individuality, of the Epistle itself, is abundantly enough to satisfy all but the ultra-scepticism which, however ingenious, really originates in à priori views. Such surely is the account to be given of the theory of F. C. Baur (1796 1860) that the Epistle is a fabrication of the second century, betraying a development of doctrine 2 2 See further, Appendix F. and life later than the age of St Paul, and aiming at a reconciliation between divergent Church parties (see on 4:2 below). His objections to the Epistle have, however, been discarded as futile even by rationalizing critics, such as Hilgenfeld, Pfleiderer, and Renan 1 1 Wittichen, a decidedly negative recent critic, admits the Philippians as genuine. ( Leben Jesu , p. 14; quoted by Edersheim, Prophecy and History, &c. , p. 68, note.) . Alford ( Greek Test. , iii. p. 27) says, “To those who would see an instance of the very insanity of hypercriticism I would recommend the study of these pages of Baur [ Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi , pp. 458 475]. They are almost as good, by way of burlesque, as the ‘Historic Doubts respecting Napoleon Buonaparte’ of Abp Whately. According to [Baur] all usual expressions prove its spuriousness, as being taken from other Epistles; all unusual expressions prove the same, as being from another than St Paul, &c.” Lightfoot says ( Phil. , p. 74), “I cannot think that the mere fact of their having been brought forward by men of ability and learning is sufficient to entitle objections of this stamp to a serious refutation.” Salmon says ( Introd. to N. T ., pp. 465, 6), “Baur has pronounced this Epistle dull, uninteresting, monotonous, characterized by poverty of thought, and want of originality. But one only loses respect for the taste and skill of the critic who can pass such a sentence on one of the most touching and interesting of Paul’s letters. So far is it from shewing signs of having been manufactured by imitation of the other Epistles that it reveals aspects of Paul’s character which the other letters had not presented … Elsewhere we are told how the Apostle laboured with his own hands for his support, and declared that he would rather die than let the disinterestedness of his preaching be suspected; here we find (4:10 19) that there was no false pride in his independence, and that when there was no likelihood of misrepresentation, he could gracefully accept the ungrudged gifts of affectionate converts. Elsewhere we read only of his reprobation of Christian teachers who corrupted the simplicity of the Gospel; here we are told (1:18) of his satisfaction that, by the efforts even of those whose motives were not pure, the Gospel of Christ should be more widely published.”
Relation of the Epistle to the Other Epistles of the First Imprisonment
We have pointed out the strong doctrinal link of connexion between the Philippian Epistle and the Romans with its attendant Epistles. We find in the Philippians on the other hand indications of similar connexion with the Ephesians and the Colossians , and such indications as to harmonize with the theory advocated above (p. 16) that these Epistles were dated some time later in St Paul’s captivity.
In two directions chiefly these connexions appear; ( a ) in the view of the Church as a City or Commonwealth, and ( b ) in the view of Christ’s personal Glory.
Under the first head, cp. Philippians 3:20 , with Ephesians 2:12 , Ephesians 2:19 , remembering that nowhere in the Epistles written before the Roman imprisonment is this view of the Church distinctly presented.
Under the second head, cp. Philippians 2:5-11 with Ephesians 1:17-23 , Ephesians 1:2 :8, &c.; Colossians 1:15-19 , &c. And cp. Philippians 2:10 with Ephesians 1:20 ; Colossians 1:20 . In the earlier Epistles the Apostle was guided to the fullest statements of the salvation wrought out by Christ, especially in its judicial and propitiatory aspects. But this exposition of the grace and wonder of His personal majesty, personal self-abasement, and personal exaltation after it, is in a great measure a new development in the revelations given through St Paul.
Observe in connexion with this the insistence on the blessedness of “ knowing Him ” (3:10), compared with the glowing language of Ephesians 3:19 (“to know the love of Christ, &c.”). Most certainly the idea is present everywhere in the Epistles of St Paul; but it reaches its full prominence in this group of Epistles, as other sides of truth do in the Romans and the Galatians .
Among minor notes of kinship in these Epistles observe the view of faith as the “ gift of God ” (Philippians 1:29 ; Ephesians 2:8 ); the mention of the Divine “ good pleasure ”, or gracious sovereign purpose (Philippians 2:13 ; Ephesians 1:4 ); the phrase “ preach Christ ” (Philippians 1:16 , Philippians 1:18 ; Colossians 1:28 ); the Apostle’s “ joy ” in his trials (Philippians 1:18 ; Ephesians 3:13 ; Colossians 1:24 ); the Divine “ inworking ” in the saints (Philippians 2:13 ; Colossians 1:29 ; cp. Ephesians 2:10 ); and the following words or phrases peculiar to these among the Pauline Epistles ταπεινοφροσύνη ) (Philippians 2:3 ; Ephesians 4:2 ; Colossians 3:12 ), σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμῶν (or nearly so) (Philippians 2:1 ; Colossians 3:12 ; cp. Philemon 1:7 , Philemon 1:12 , Philemon 1:20 ); ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας (Philippians 4:18 ; Ephesians 5:2 ); ἐπιχορηγία (Philippians 1:19 ; Ephesians 4:16 ; cp. Colossians 2:19 ).
The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians
This Epistle, the only other extant letter addressed to the Church of Philippi, has been already mentioned (p. 21). For the text, fully edited with notes, see Lightfoot’s Apostolic Fathers , Part ii. vol. ii., sect. 2, pp. 898, &c. We give a translation of the Epistle slightly abridged. It is interesting to observe the wealth of N. T. quotations, and the frequent tacit allusions to the topics of St Paul’s Epistle. All clear Scripture quotations are italicized, as well as phrases apparently suggested by Scripture.
Polycarp and his elders to the Church of God sojourning at Philippi; grace and peace be multiplied from God Almighty and Jesus Christ our Saviour.
i. I rejoiced greatly with you in the Lord , in your joy on welcoming those Copies 1 1 Ignatius and his companion Confessors. of the True Love, chained with those holy fetters which are the diadems of the elect; and that your long-renowned faith persists, and bears fruit to Christ, who for our sins died and rose, in whom, not having seen Him, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory , a joy into which many long to enter, knowing that by grace ye have been saved, not of works , but by the will of God in Christ.
ii. So gird up your loins , forsake the prevalent specious errors, believe on Him who raised our Lord from the dead and gave Him glory , to whom (Christ) all things in heaven and earth are subjected , to whom every living thing does service, who comes to judge the quick and dead , whose blood God will require of the unbelieving. He who raised Him will raise us also , if we walk in His ways, abstaining from all injustice, avarice, and evil-speaking, not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing; remembering how the Lord said, Judge not, that ye be not judged; blessed are the poor, and the persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God .
iii. I write thus concerning righteousness, not of my own motion but because you have invited me. Neither I nor any like me can approach the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when among you, face to face with the men of that day, taught accurately and with certainty the word concerning the truth, who also when absent wrote to you letters 1 1 See p. 21. , which if you study diligently you shall be able to be built up in the faith given you; which faith is the mother of us all , followed by hope, and by hope’s forerunner, love to God, to Christ, and to our neighbour. For if any one is given to these, he hath fulfilled the precept of righteousness. He who hath love is far from all sin.
iv. Now the beginning of all evils is the love of money. We brought nothing into the world, and can carry nothing out . Let us put on the armour of righteousness and teach one another to walk in the precept. Teach your wives too to walk in the faith, love, and purity given them, faithful to their husbands in all truth, amiable to all around them in true modesty, training their children in the fear of God. Let your widows be sober in the faith, instant in intercession, holding aloof from evil-speaking, from avarice, and from all wrong. They are God’s altar, and He inspects the victim to see if it has any blemish.
v. God is not mocked; let us walk worthy of His precept and glory. Let the deacons ( diaconi , ministers) be blameless before Him, as ministers of God and Christ, avoiding likewise evil-speaking, and avarice, and unkindness, before Him who was minister of all . If we please Him in this world we shall receive the world to come; if we walk (lit., live as citizens ) worthy of Him, we shall reign with Him , if we believe. Let the juniors too walk in holy strictness. Every lust warreth against the spirit; fornicators and such like shall not inherit the kingdom . So let them watch and abstain; let them submit to the elders and deacons. And let the virgins walk in holiness.
vi. The presbyters should be compassionate, watchful over the erring, the weak, the widows, orphans, and poor, providing always for that which is good before God and men , renouncing wrath, partiality, avarice, and rash judgment. If we ask remission, we must remit. We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give account each of himself . Let us do Him bond-service, as He bade us, and His Apostles, and the Prophets who shewed before of His coming . Be zealous for good; avoid offences, and false brethren, who deceive the careless.
vii. For whosoever confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is antichrist . Whosoever confesses not the mystery of the Cross is of the devil. Whosoever perverts the Lord’s oracles to his lusts, and says that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, is Satan’s firstborn. So let us forsake the current vain doctrines, and turn to the once-delivered Gospel, watching unto prayer , persevering in fastings, praying the all-seeing God not to lead us into temptation; as the Lord said, The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak .
viii. Let us hold fast to our hope and to the earnest of our righteousness, which earnest is Christ Jesus, who bore our sins in His own body to the tree; who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; who bore all that we might live in Him. Let us imitate His patience. If we suffer for Him, let us glorify Him. He left us this example.
ix. All of you obey the word of righteousness, and practise true endurance, which you have seen exemplified before you not only in blessed Ignatius, Zosimus, and Rufus, but in others of your own body, and in Paul himself and the other Apostles. You know that they all did not run in vain . They have gone, in the path of faith and righteousness, to their promised (lit., owed) place, beside the Lord with whom they suffered.
x. Stand fast then, according to His example, steadfast and unmoveable in the faith, kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; sharing together in truth, in the Lord’s gentleness ( moderation , Philippians 4:5 ) preferring one another. When able to do good , defer it not, for almsgiving rescueth from death (Tobit 4:11, 12:9). All being subject to one another, have your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that by your good works you may obtain praise, and the Lord be not blasphemed. Teach all men true sobriety.
xi. I am exceedingly grieved for Valens, once made an elder among you, that he so ignores the position given him. Do you avoid avarice; be pure, be true. He who cannot steer himself aright in such duties, how can he preach them? If he avoids avarice he will be defiled by idolatry, and judged as one of the Gentiles. Know we not that the saints shall judge the world? as Paul teaches. I never heard of such sins in you, among whom the blessed Paul toiled, who were his “ (living) epistles ” 1 1 So Lightfoot explains the difficult sentence. in the first (days of the Gospel). About you he glories in the churches which knew the Lord before we knew Him. I am deeply grieved for Valens, and for his wife; God grant them repentance. Count them not as enemies , but restore them as diseased and wandering members, that your whole body may be in safety.
xii. You know the holy Scriptures perfectly; a knowledge not granted to me. Only, (I know that) it is there said, Be angry and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath . Now the God and Father of our Lord, and He, the eternal High-Priest, (our) God 1 1 So Lightfoot; in preference to the reading, “ the Son of God ,” which he thinks to be later. , Jesus Christ, build you up in all holiness, and give you part and lot among His saints, and to us with you, and to all everywhere who shall believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ, and on His Father who raised Him from the dead. Pray for all the saints, and for kings and rulers, and for them that persecute you, and for the enemies of the Cross , that your fruit may be manifest in all things , that ye may be perfect in Him.
xiii. Both you and Ignatius have asked me that, if a messenger is leaving us for Syria, he may carry your letter with ours. This I will do, in person or by delegate. The letter of Ignatius to us, and all others in our hands, we have sent you, as you desired, attached to this letter. They will greatly benefit you spiritually. Report to us anything you hear of Ignatius’ companions.
xiv. My letter-bearer is Crescens, whom again I commend to you, as a blameless Christian. His sister too I commend to you, in prospect. Farewell in the Lord Jesus Christ, in grace, with all who are yours. Amen.
argument of st paul’s epistle to the philippians
Ch. 1:1 2. Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ, greet the Christians of Philippi and their Church-officers, invoking blessing on them from the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 11 . Paul assures them that his whole thought of them is full of thanksgiving, his every prayer for them full of joy, in view of their warm, steadfast cooperation from the first in his evangelical labours. He is quite sure [on this bright evidence] that the work of grace in them will reach its consummation in glory. His affectionate regard for them is but just, so fully have they claimed his heart by their identification of themselves with him in the trials of captivity and the toils of Christian witnessing and teaching. God knows with what yearning tenderness, drawn from the heart of Christ, he misses them and longs for them. [And his affection expresses itself above all things in prayer], the prayer that their love [of which he for one has had such proofs] may increasingly be guided and fortified by a quick spiritual perception, sifting truth from error, holiness from sin, and forming a character which at the Great Day should prove pure in principle, and rich in the fruit [of the Spirit], fruit generated by communion with Christ, and bringing glory to God.
12 20 . As regards his own present circumstances, he rejoices to inform them that they are conducing to the advance of the Gospel at Rome. [His imprisonment is in itself a mission]; its connexion [not with political or social offences but] with Christ is now well known throughout the Imperial Guard [which supplied his warders] and among the Romans in general. And the Roman Christians, for the most part, have felt a spiritual impetus [after a time of depression]. His captivity has nerved them to bear a bolder witness among their heathen neighbours. [True, there is a shadow across this light]; some thus proclaim Christ [with new energy] from motives of opposition to Paul, while others do so in loyal sincerity. On the one side is love, which sees in the imprisoned Apostle a centre of action, set there by Christ, for the propagation of the Gospel; on the other side is the spirit of the partizan and of self, defiling the motive of the work, actually wishing to make his imprisonment doubly trying [by intercepting enquirers and converts]. Does it matter to him? [No and] yes. [No, so far as his peace in God is concerned], yes, [ happily yes, so far as the spread of the primary Gospel truth is concerned]. For thus in every way Christ is being proclaimed. Here is cause of joy for Paul; and here shall be cause of joy [even in the eternal future]; for the situation shall only animate the Philippians to earnest prayer for him, and this shall bring him a new fulness of the Holy Spirit, and so shall promote his grace and glory. Yes, it shall forward the realization of his longing anticipation, that at this crisis, as at all others, Christ shall be glorified, whether through his body’s living energies, or through his submission to his body’s death.
21 26 . For indeed life is for him identified with, summed up in, Christ; and death, [as the introduction to Christ’s fuller presence] is gain [even over such a life]. If [it is his Lord’s will that] he should live on, [the prolonged life] will mean only larger work with richer fruit. And indeed the case is one of blessed dilemma. Personal preference is for dying, dying into the presence of Christ; a far, far better state [than the best here]; while duty, manifested in the needs of his converts, is for living patiently on. And thus he feels sure that he will live on, for the spiritual benefit of his converts, and particularly in order that his restoration to them in bodily presence may give them fresh occasion for triumph in Christ.
27 30 . Meanwhile, let them live a life of holy practical consistency. Above all, let him see, or let him hear, as the case may be, that they are standing firm, and standing together , cordially at one in Christian witness and work, and calm amidst opposing terrors. Such calmness [under such circumstances] will be an omen of their opponents’ ruin and their own coming heaven. God has thus adjusted things, God who has granted them not only faith in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him; a conflict one with that which they had seen in Paul’s case [at Philippi] and now hear of in his case [at Rome].
Ch. 2:1 4. Yes, let them above all things hold together , watching against a tendency towards internal dissension; a tendency which he fears has shewn itself, however faintly, amongst them]. By the common blessings of believers, by the pity of their human hearts, he begs them to crown his joy in them with the joy of an assurance that they are living in holy harmony; shunning the spirit of self, taking each the lowest room, entering with unselfish love into each other’s needs.
5 11 . Let them remember, and reflect, the supreme Self-forgetfulness of their Saviour. He, [in His preexistent glory,] being and seeming God, [looked indeed on the things of others]. He dealt with His true and eternally right Equality with His Father [in nature and majesty] not as a thing held, like a prize of strength or guile, anxiously and for Himself, [but as a thing which admitted of an act of most gracious sacrifice for others’ good]. In a marvellous “Exinanition” [He laid by the manifested glories of Deity], and willed to be, and to seem, [as Man], the Bondservant [of God], putting on the visible garb of embodied manhood, [while always also more than man]. Aye, and having thus presented himself to men as man, He bowed yet lower, [in His supreme outlook “upon the things of others,”] in His supreme obedience to His God; He extended that obedience to the length of dying, dying on a Cross, [that last degradation in the eyes of Gentile and Jew]. [So He “pleased not Himself,” and now, what was the result?] The Father raised Him to the eternal throne [in His now double glory, Cod and Man], giving to Him [as the once-abased One] the rights of supreme Majesty, that all creation in all spheres should worship Him, and the Father through Him, all beings confessing that Jesus Christ is “I am,” to the Father’s glory.
12 18 . [With such an Example in view] let the beloved Philippians, now as always obedient to Paul’s appeals, so watch, so live, in tender, solemn earnestness (and more than ever now, in the absence of their Apostle, [whose presence might have seemed to excuse in them a lack of such care] as to realize and carry out the plan of their salvation.[And to promote at once their solemn care and their restful hope let them remember that] it is God who is personally effecting in them [in the regenerate life] both their holy desires and their just works, in order to accomplish His own blessed purposes. Let them renounce all mutual murmurings and dissensions; seeking to prove their spiritual sonship by a perfectly consistent walk, in the midst of a rebellious world, in whose darkness they are seen as spiritual stars; offering the news of Christ to their neighbours’ notice. So Paul would rejoice at the Great Day, looking back on his course of toil, that he had not lived in vain.[Aye, and that he had not died in vain]; for what if he should after all shed his blood as a libation on the altar at which the Philippians offered themselves a living sacrifice? He would rejoice, and would congratulate his converts. Let them rejoice, and congratulate him.
19 30. [But to turn to another subject;] he hopes to send Timothy ere long, to report to him (it will be a cheering report) on their state. None of the Christians round him is so entirely in sympathy with him and with Philippi. Others of his friends might otherwise go, but alas their devotedness to the Lord’s will proves too partial. As for Timothy, the Philippians know by old experience how he had done bondservice to the Lord, with Paul, [in their very midst,] in a perfectly filial spirit. Immediately on Paul’s learning the issue of the trial, Timothy shall thus be sent. And he trusts ere long to follow personally to Philippi. Epaphroditus meanwhile, Paul’s fellow-labourer, and the bearer of the Philippians’ bounty to him, is to be spared and sent immediately, as a matter of duty. That duty is made plain by Epaphroditus’ state of feeling his yearning to revisit Philippi, his sore trouble at the thought of the grief which must have been caused at Philippi by news there of his serious illness. He has indeed been ill, almost fatally. But God has spared him the grief [of premature removal from his work, and of being the cause of mourning at Philippi], and has spared Paul too the grief of bereavement added to his other trials. So he has taken pains to send him [in charge of the present Epistle], to the joy of the Philippians and the alleviation of Paul’s own sadness. Let them give their messenger a glad Christian welcome back again. Let them shew their value for him and such as him. For Christ’s work’s sake he has all but lost his life; he has run great hazards with it, in order to do for them, in their loving assistance to Paul, what in person they could not do.
Ch. 3:1 3. Now to draw to a close. Let them rejoice in the Lord [as their all in all, cherishing a joyful insight into His fulness as their Righteousness and Life]. In effect, he has been saying this all along. But to emphasize it again is welcome to him and wholesome for them. Let them beware of the Pharisee-Christian, [cruelly exclusive, while] really excluding himself from the true Israel; of the advocate of salvation by works, himself a bungling work-man; of the assertors of a circumcision that is only now a physical maltreatment. We Christians are the true circumcised Israel, worshipping by the rites of the Spirit, making Christ Jesus our boast, renouncing all trust in self.
4 11. If indeed such self-trust ever has just grounds, Paul claims it. He can surpass the claims of any such theorists [on their own principles,] in point of sacrament, pedigree, education, school of ascetic piety, tremendous earnestness, punctilious observance. These things were once his hoarded gains; but he has now decisively judged them to be one great loss, in the light of that Christ [to whose glory they blinded him]. Yes, and he holds that judgment now, concerning not these things only, but all things whatever [that can obscure his view of] the surpassing bliss of knowing Him as Saviour and as Lord. For Him he has been deprived of his all, and treats it now as refuse, that he may [in exchange] gain Christ for his, and be found [by the Judge] in living union with Him, presenting to the Eternal Holiness not a satisfying claim of his own, based on fulfilment of the Law as covenant of life, but the satisfying claim which consists of Christ for him, appropriated by humble trust; God’s way of acceptance, thus made good for Paul. [And is this to terminate in itself, in acceptance of his guilty person, and no more? No;] its true, its necessary issue is that he gets to know his Redeemer spiritually [in His personal glory and beauty], and to experience the power of His resurrection [as conveying assurance of peace and hope of glory, and also in the inflow of His blessed Risen Life], and the joy of entrance, [in measure,] into His experience as the Sufferer, [bearing the cross daily after Him], growing thus into ever truer conformity to His willingness to die. And all this, with the longing to attain [in the path of holiness], at any cost [of self-surrender], to the resurrection of glory [in Him who died to rise again].
12 16 . [Meantime there is reason why he should say it ] he is not yet at the goal, not yet perfected. He is pressing on, aiming to grasp that crown which Christ who grasped him [in conversion] converted him that he might grasp. [Others may say of themselves and their perfection what they will]; Paul does not think of himself as having grasped that crown. His concentrated purpose is to renounce all complacency in attainment, and to seek for ever higher things, and to take for his aim nothing short of that eternal glory which is the Divine Arbiter’s award at the close of that life of heavenly conversion which is ours in Christ. Are any of us perfect Christians, then? [Christians mature and ideal?] Let us shew it [among other things] by such humbling views [of our personal imperfection, and of the greatness of our goal]. Should their views in this matter still differ from his own, he leaves them with calmness to the sure processes of God’s enlightening grace [in experience]. Only, up to present light and knowledge, let harmony of conviction, and so of behaviour and action, be cherished by Apostle and converts alike.
17 21 . [Nay, let him solemnly appeal to them to] become imitators, one and all, of his principles and practice, and to take for their visible models those among them who manifestly lived those principles out. For there were many [so-called Christians abroad whose life was a terrible and ensnaring travesty of the Gospel of free grace, antinomian claimants of a position in Christ lifted above the holy moral law, men] of whom he often warned them at Philippi, and warns them now, even with tears [over their own ruin and over the deadly mischief they do]. These men are the real enemies of the Cross [which won our pardon, but only that we might be holy]. Their end [in such a path] is eternal perdition. Their God is [not He with whom they claim special intimacy but] their own sensual appetites. They boast [of their insight and experience], but their lofty claims are their deepest disgrace. Their interests and ideas, [pretending to soar above the skies], are really “of the earth, earthy.” [Such teachings, and lives, are utterly alien to those of Paul and his true followers]. The seat and centre of their life is in heaven, whose citizens they are [free of its privileges, “obliged by its nobility”]. And from heaven they are looking, [in a life governed by that look], for the Lord Jesus Christ, as Saviour [of body as well as of soul]. He shall transfigure the body which now abases and encumbers us into true and eternal likeness to the Body He now wears upon the throne. [Do they ask, how can this be?] It is a possibility measured by His ability to subdue to His will, and to His purposes, nothing less than all things.
Ch. 4:1 7. [With such a present, and such a future], let the dear and sorely missed Philippians [cleanse themselves from all pollution, and to that end] let them keep close to Christ, or rather dwell in Christ. [Let them in particular renounce the spirit of self; and here] he entreats two Christian women, Euodia and Syntyche, to renounce their differences. And let his truehearted yoke-fellow [Epaphroditus?] help these two persons to a loving reconciliation, remembering how they toiled and strove for the cause of Christ, by Paul’s side, [in the old days]; and let Clement, and Paul’s other fellow-labourers, whose names the Lord has marked for heaven, do the like kind service [for Euodia and Syntyche]. Let all rejoice always in the Lord; yes, let them indeed rejoice in Him! Let all around them find them self-forgetful, void of self; the Lord’s [remembered] presence is the way to this. Let them be anxious in no circumstance; everything must be taken at once to God in prayer, with thanksgiving. Then the peace of God, [the glad tranquillity caused by His presence and rule in the heart], shall encircle as with walls their inner world and its actings, as they dwell in Christ.
8 9 . In conclusion, let their minds, [thus shielded, not lie idle, but] be occupied with all that is true, honourable, right, pure, amiable; with all that man truly calls virtue, all that has the praise of his conscience.
And once more, let them practise the principles they have learned of Paul, and seen exemplified in him. So the God of peace, [peace in the soul and in the community], shall be with them.
10 20 . [He must not close without loving thanks for a gift of money, for himself and his work, received lately from them.] It has given him holy joy to find that their thought about him has burst into life and fruit again after an interval. Not that they had ever forgotten him; but for some time (he knows) no means of communication had been found. Not, again, that he has been feeling any painful deficiency; for himself, he has learned the lesson of independence of circumstances. He understands the art of meeting poverty and plenty [in equal peace]. He has been let into the secret how to live so. [And the secret is Jesus Christ]. In living union with Him and His spiritual power, Paul can meet every incident of the will of God, [to bear it, or to do it]. Not that he does not warmly feel their loving participation [by this gift] in his trials. But [there was no need of this particular gift to assure him of their affection]; they will remember that when he first evangelized Macedonia, and was now leaving it, they were the only Church which aided him with money; more such gifts than one reached him even when he was no further off than Thessalonica. Do not let them think that he is hunting for their money [by such reminiscences]; no, [so far as he welcomes their money at all] it is because such gifts are deposits bearing rich interest of blessing for the givers. But he has indeed been supplied, and over-supplied, in this contribution now sent by Epaphroditus’ hands; this sweet incense from the altar [of self-sacrificing love to Christ in His servant]. For himself, [he can, send back no material present, but] his God shall supply their every need, out of the wealth of eternal love and power, lodged for the saints in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be the glory for ever. Amen.
21 23 . Let them greet individually from him every Christian of their number. The Christians associated with him greet them. So do all the Roman believers, especially those connected with the Imperial household.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with their inmost being. Amen.
If we submit ourselves fairly and honestly to the influence which the Gospel would bring to bear upon us, we may trust it to verify itself by producing inwardly “righteousness, and peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost.” There is no manner of question that it was thus with the great Apostle, and if the faith he preached is a living reality, it is not only capable of producing the like results now, but must and will do so, where there is a corresponding hold of it. If in Christ Jesus there is forgiveness of sins, and if by Him “all that believe are justified,” then, most assuredly, that which was offered by St Paul … to all, without distinction, is the heritage of Gentile as well as Jew, and may be the priceless possession of Englishmen in the nineteenth century after Christ, no less than of Greeks and Asiatics in the first. There wants but the same tenacious grasp of truth, the same uncompromising zeal, the same unflinching boldness, and the ancient message will awaken the old response. The same flower will bud and open, will form and set, in the mature and golden autumn of Christian experience, into the same rich, fragrant … fruit, which will be “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”
Stanley Leathes, D.D.; The Witness of St Paul to Christ , pp. 87 8. Moule, H. C. G. (1893). The Epistle to the Philippians, with Introduction and Notes . The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges (3 36). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28