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TO THE PHILIPPIANS
1:1–11. THE PROLOGUE
The Prologue contains:
An Address and Greeting (1–2);
A Thanksgiving (3–5);
A Commendation and Prayer (6-11).
Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, send greeting to the members and officers of the church at Philippi. Grace and peace to you from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
All my remembrance of you is mingled with thanksgiving to God. On every occasion of my prayers I joyfully make my petition for you all, giving thanks for your coöperation in promoting the gospel from the time it was first preached among you until the present, and with confidence that God will perfect the good work which he has begun in you and will show it completed in the day when Christ shall appear. And my confidence in you is justified by my personal affection for you, by your sympathy with me in my imprisonment, and by the aid which you give me in the defence and establishment of the gospel; thus showing yourselves to be sharers in the grace which enables me to preach Christ and to suffer for his sake.
God is my witness how I long after you all with a Christly affection. I pray that you may abound in intelligent and discriminating love: that in your inquiries into truth and duty you may approve that which is supremely good: that you may be sincere and blameless in view of the day when Christ shall appear: and that you may be filled with the fruit of righteousness which shall redound to the glory and praise of God.
The character of the whole Epistle is reflected in this introduction. It is unofficial, affectionate, familiar, unlike the opening of the Galatian Epistle, and more nearly resembling the introductions to the two Thessalonian letters. At the same time it is solemn and deeply earnest.
Address And Greeting
1. Παῦλος καὶ Τιμόθεος: So in the introductions of 2 Cor., Col., and Philem., and of 1 and 2 Thess. where the name of Silvanus is added. Timothy was well known to the Philippian Church as Paul’s intimate friend and companion. He was with Paul at Rome. He had been his companion in his first visit to Macedonia (Acts 16:1, Acts 16:3, Acts 16:10, Acts 16:13). He had visited Macedonia later (Acts 19:22, Acts 19:20:1, Acts 19:4); and Paul was proposing to send him again as his representative to the Philippian Church (Philippians 2:19-23). His name, however, in this letter, is associated with Paul’s only in the salutation, although the omission of Paul’s apostolic title is not due to his naming Timothy with himself. (Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1.) That Timothy acted as amanuensis is possible, but is not indicated by anything in this letter. The omission of the title “apostle” (comp. Introductions to 1 and 2 Cor., Rom., and Gal.) accords with the familiar and unofficial character of the letter, and also with the fact that his apostolic claims were not challenged by a Judaising party in Philippi as they were in Galatia and Corinth.
Δοῦλοι Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ: Δοῦλος occurs in Paul’s introductory salutations only here and in Rom. and Tit. The phrase ‘bond-servants of Jesus Christ’ exhibits the general conception under which ‘apostle’ is classed. Jerome observes: “Ambo servi, non ambo apostoli. Omnis enim apostolus servus, non omnis autem servus apostolus.” The servile element does not enter into Paul’s use of the expression. It carries for him the thoughts of cheerful and willing service which, in his view, is inseparable from true freedom (Romans 6:18, Romans 6:22); of dependence upon Christ; of ownership by Christ (1 Corinthians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 7:22); and of identification with Christ in his assuming the form of a bondservant (Philippians 2:7). The term may be slightly colored with a reference to his special calling, as is διάκονος in 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Ephesians 3:7. He would thus announce himself as not acting in his own name, but as the agent of another. (Comp. Galatians 1:10; Romans 1:1; Colossians 4:12.) The phrase עֶ֣בֶד יְהוֹה֑, LXX δοῦλος θεοῦ or κυρίου, is often applied to the O.T. prophets in a body. (See Amos 3:7; Jeremiah 7:25; Ezra 9:11; Daniel 9:6.) Also to Moses, Joshua 1:2 (ὁ θεράπων); to Joshua, Jude 1:2:8 (δοῦλος); to David, Psa_36 (35), title, 78 (77):70, 89 (88):4, 21 (δοῦλος). It is found in the introductory greetings of Rom., Tit., Jas., Jude, 2 Pet., “showing,” as Professor Sanday justly remarks, “that as the apostolic age progressed, the assumption of the title became established on a broad basis. But it is noticeable how quietly St. Paul steps into the place of the prophets and leaders of the Old Covenant, and how quietly he substitutes the name of his own Master in a connection hitherto reserved for that of Jehovah” (Comm. on Rom., i. 1).
The MS. readings of the Pauline introductions vary between Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς and Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς. For a table of the variations see Sanday’s note on Romans 1:1.
From this it appears that ἸΧ is peculiar to the earlier group of introductions, and ΧἸ to the later; 1 and 2 Cor. and Rom. being doubtful. The change seems to point to the increasing use of Χριστὸς as a proper name instead of a title. Nevertheless, in the bodies of the Epistles both designations occur; in Rom., Gal., Eph., Col., and the Pastorals, almost equally, while ΧἸ predominates in 1 and 2 Cor. and Phil., and ἸΧ predominates decidedly only in the Thessalonian Epistles.
πᾶσιν τοῖς ἁγίοις: It will be observed that the letter is addressed to all the individual Christians in Philippi, though the superintendents and ministers are named immediately after. See farther in Excursus on Bishops and Deacons. Ἅγιος, which is rare in classical Greek, in the LXX is the standard word for “holy.” Both the LXX and N.T. writers bring it out of the background in which it was left by classical writers. Its fundamental idea is setting apart. Thus, in class., “devoted to the gods.” Occasionally in a bad sense, “devoted to destruction”; “accursed”; but not in Biblical Greek. In O.T., “set apart to God,” as priests (Leviticus 21:6, Leviticus 21:7); the tithe of the land (Leviticus 27:30); the holy place in the house of God (1 K. 8:10; comp. Hebrews 9:2); the most holy place (Exodus 26:33; comp. Hebrews 9:3); the Israelites, as separated from other nations and consecrated to God (Exodus 19:6; Leviticus 20:26; Deuteronomy 7:6; Daniel 7:22; Dan_2 Ezra 8:28). This idea is transferred to the N.T. and applied to Christians (Acts 9:13, Acts 9:32, Acts 9:41; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 6:1, 1 Corinthians 6:2; 1 Peter 2:9). Ideally ἅγιος implies personal holiness; moral purity. See Leviticus 11:44, Leviticus 11:19:2; 1 Corinthians 7:34; 1 Peter 1:16. Of John the Baptist (Mark 6:20); of Christ (Acts 3:14); of God (1 Samuel 6:20; Jn. John 17:11; 1 Peter 1:15); of God’s law (Romans 7:12); of the Spirit of God (Acts 2:33, Acts 2:38; Romans 5:5; etc.). Paul uses it here as a common designation of Christians belonging to the Philippian community. It does not imply actual holiness, but holiness as appropriate to those addressed and obligatory upon them, as persons set apart and consecrated. In this sense it does not occur in the Gospels (except, possibly, Matthew 27:52) or in the Epistles of Pet. and John. It is rare in Acts. It appears in the opening salutations of all Paul’s letters to Churches except Gal. and 1 and 2 Thess. It is applied to Jewish Christians (1 Corinthians 16:1, 1 Corinthians 16:15; 2 Corinthians 8:4, 2 Corinthians 8:9:1, 2 Corinthians 8:12; Romans 15:25, Romans 15:26, Romans 15:31). Chrys. remarks: “It was likely that the Jews too would call themselves ‘saints’ from the first oracle, when they were called ‘a holy and peculiar people’ (Exodus 9:6; Deuteronomy 7:6). For this reason he added ‘that are in Christ Jesus.’ For these alone are holy, and those henceforward profane.” Similarly Theoph. (See Delitzsch, Art. “Heiligkeit Gottes” in Herz. Rl. Enc.)
ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ: Connect with τοῖς ἁγίοις. This, and the kindred formulas ἐν Χριστῷ, ἐν Ἰησοῦ, ἐν Κυρίῳ, ἐν αὐτῷ, are common Pauline expressions to denote the most intimate communion of the Christian with the living Christ. Ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ occurs 48 times, ἐν Χριστῷ 34, ἐν Κυρίῳ 50. These phrases are not found in the Synoptic Gospels, though their equivalent appears in John in the frequent ἐν ἐμοί. The conception is that of a sphere or environment or element in which a Christian lives, as a bird in the air, a fish in the water, or the roots of a tree in the soil. Christ glorified, Christ as πνεῦμα (2 Corinthians 3:17), is the normal life-element of the believer. He “puts on” Christ as a garment (Galatians 3:27). In Christ alone he truly lives, and his powers attain their full range and efficiency. The order is invariably ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.
The formula is elaborately and ably discussed by G. A. Deissmann in his monograph Die neutestamentliche Formel ‘in Christo Jesu,’ Marburg, 1892. He carefully traces the use of ἐν with the personal singular through the Classics, the LXX and the N.T., and concludes that the phrase is original with Paul. His discussion as to whether a material conception is at the bottom of it, or whether it is a purely rhetorical mode of speech is not important.
συν ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις:
B3DK read συνεπισκοποις, “to the fellow-bishops.” So Chrys., Theoph.
Render: ‘with the superintendents and ministers,’ and notice that the mention of these officials is appended to the more special salutation to the members of the Church. See Excursus at the end of this chapter.
2. χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη�Romans 5:2; Galatians 5:4), and consequently the capacity or ability due to that gracious state (Ephesians 4:7). It is this free favor of God, with all that follows it, that Paul in his salutation desires for his readers. Εἰρήνη is not tranquillity or repose, save as these are conceived as resulting from the cessation of hostility between God and man. Reconciliation is always at the basis of the Pauline conception of peace. Similarly Psalms 29:11, 85:8; Isaiah 53:5. These terms, therefore, are not to be regarded as mere equivalents of the ordinary forms of salutation. They link themselves with these, and it is also true that Paul does not use them with any distinct dogmatic purpose; but it is inconceivable that he should have employed them without some consciousness of the peculiar sense which attaches to them throughout his letters. Thus Weiss justly says that “the fact that these terms connect themselves with the ordinary Greek and Hebrew greetings does not exclude the employment of ‘grace’ in its specifically Christian and Pauline sense in which it denotes the unmerited divine operation of love, which is the source and principle of all Christian salvation. Similarly, ‘peace’ is not to be understood primarily in the technical sense of Romans 5:1, as the first-fruit of justification; but we may be sure that, in Paul’s mind, the whole state of tranquillity and general well-being which was implied in ‘peace’ attached itself at the root to the fact of reconciliation with God.”
The fact that God and Christ appear on an equality in the salutation cannot be adduced as a positive proof of the divine nature of Christ, though it falls in with Paul’s words in ch. 2., and may be allowed to point to that doctrine which he elsewhere asserts. We cannot be too careful to distinguish between ideas which unconsciously underlie particular expressions, and the same ideas used with a definite and conscious dogmatic purpose. This Epistle especially has suffered from the overlooking of this distinction.
3. Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ μνείᾳ ὑμῶν, πάντοτε ἐν πάσῃ δεήσει μου, ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν μετὰ χαρᾶς τὴν δέησιν ποιούμενος:
ευχαριστω τω θεω μου א ABDKLP, Vulg., Syr.utr, Cop., Basm.
εγω μεν ευχαριστω τω κυριω ημων D*FG.
Render: ‘I thank my God in all my remembrance of you; always, in every supplication of mine, making my supplication for you all with joy.’ Thus πάντοτε ἐν πάσῃ δεήσει μου is attached to the following words, and ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν belongs, not to ἐν πάσῃ δεήσει μου, but to τὴν δέησιν ποιούμενος.
This is the most natural and simple arrangement of the words (so Weiss, Kl., Lips., Weizs.). Lightf. makes a single clause of πάντοτε … ὑμῶν and attaches it to the foregoing words; and makes μετὰ χαρᾶς … ποιούμενος a separate explanatory clause defining the character of πάσῃ δεήσει. He joins πάντοτε with εὐχαριστῶ. Ellic. connects ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν with δεήσει μου, as Mey.
Comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:2; Romans 1:9, Romans 1:10; Ephesians 1:16; Colossians 1:4; Philemon 1:4.
τῷ θεῷ μου: For μου with the sense of personal relationship, see Acts 27:23; Romans 1:8; Philemon 1:4.
ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ μνείᾳ ὑμῶν: The local sense of ἐπὶ runs into the temporal, and blends with it (Jelf, Gr. 634, 2). Render ‘in,’ and comp. 2:17. The sense is similar if not identical where ἐπὶ occurs with the genitive in 1 Thessalonians 1:2; Ephesians 1:16; Philemon 1:4. But see Ellic. here. Not ‘upon every remembrance’ as A.V., which is precluded by the article with μνείᾳ but ‘in all my remembrance’; my remembrance of you as a whole is mingled with thanksgiving. Μνεία is not ‘mention’ (as Kl.), a meaning which it has only when joined with ποιεῖσθαι, as Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:2. To make ὑμῶν the subjective genitive, ‘your thought of me,’ with an allusion to their gift, is against usage, and would require a definite mention of the object of remembrance. Harnack, Th. LZ., 1889, p. 419, wrongly renders “for every mode of your remembrance,” adding “whereby, in the very beginning of the letter, the Philippians’ gift is thought of with tenderness.” The thought is quite unsuitable that Paul is moved to remembrance only by the exhibition of their care for him.
4. πάντοτε ἐν πάσῃ δεήσει· Πάσῃ δεήσει defines πάντοτε, as πάντοτε marks the occasions of εὐχαριστῶ. On every occasion of his praying he makes request for them. Δέησις is petitionary prayer; ‘supplication.’ Paul alone joins it with προσευχὴ, which is the more general term for prayer. (See Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Timothy 2:1.) Προσευχὴ is limited to prayer to God, while δέησις may be addressed to man. (See Trench, N.T. Syn. li.; Schmidt, Synon. 7, 4; Ellic. on 1 Timothy 2:2; Ephesians 6:18.) Τὴν δέησιν defines the more general πάσῃ δεήσει, and is in turn defined by ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν.
μετὰ χαρᾶς: The petitions are accompanied with joy, the cause of which is indicated in vs. 5-7.
5. ἐπὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ ὑμῶν: Connect with εὐχαριστῶ, not with τὴν δενησιν ποιούμενος. For, 1. εὐχαριστῶ would thus be left without an object. 2. The ‘fellowship’ is not the subject of Paul’s prayer, but of his thanksgiving. 3. Εὐχαριστεῖν and similar verbs are used by Paul with ἐπὶ, as 1 Corinthians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 9:15; but ἐπὶ never occurs with δέησιν ποιούμενος or δεῖσθαι to mark their cause or ground. Neither should ἐπὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ be connected with μετὰ χαρᾶς which would require τῆς before ἐπὶ.
κοινωνία: ‘Fellowship’ (κοινὸς, ‘common’). A relation between individuals which involves common and mutual interest and participationin a common object. The word occurs often in Paul and in John’s epistles. Occasionally of the particular form which the spirit of fellowship assumes, as the giving of alms (Romans 15:26; Hebrews 13:16), but always with an emphasis upon the principle of Christian fellowship which underlies the gift. Here it means sympathetic participation in labor and suffering.
τῇ κοιν. ὑμῶν: ‘your fellowship.’ ‘Not fellowship with you’ (objective genitive); for when Paul uses the objective genitive with κοινωνία, it is to express fellowship with a divine and not a human person (1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 13:13; Philippians 2:1). Moreover, when κοινωνία is used of fellowship with (una cum) human persons, the relation is indicated by μετὰ (1 John 1:3, 1 John 1:7). Comp. πρὸς, 2 Corinthians 6:14. Hence ὑμῶν here is subjective. No defining word indicates their fellowship with him. The meaning is their fellowship with each other in the cause of the gospel. If the reference had been particularly to their fellowship with Paul, μετʼ ἐμοῦ would probably have been added.
εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον: Describes the character and object of the fellowship. For κοινωνία with εἰς, see Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13; and comp. ἐκοινώνησεν εἰς, Philippians 4:15. The meaning is not ‘contribution,’ though the thought of their gifts may have been distinctly present to the apostle’s mind (so Ellic. and Lightf.); nor ‘participation’ in the gospel as sharers of its blessings; but ‘your close association in the furtherance of the gospel.’
ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ἡμέρας:
WH. and Weiss retain της with א ABP 37. Tisch. omits with DFGKL
‘The first day’ is the day when they received the gospel. (See Acts 16:13; Colossians 1:6.) Connect with τῇ κοινωνίᾳ ὑμῶν, not with πεποιθὼς.
ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν: As Romans 8:22. Only in Paul.
The Commendation and Prayer
6. πεποιθὼς: ‘being confident.’ Appended to εὐχαριστὼ and parallel with ποιούμενος.
αὐτὸ τοῦτο: Not governed by πεποιθὼς, but appended to it as specially marking the content and compass of the action (Ellic.). It prepares the way for the matter introduced by ὅτι. (Comp. Ephesians 6:22; Colossians 4:8.) Not ‘for this very reason’ (Mey.), i.e. by reason of your past coöperation, but referring to what follows.
ὁ ἐναρξάμενος: ‘He’—God—is the source of Paul’s confidence, not only for himself, but for his converts; God, whom he thanks in all his remembrance of them. For the omission of θεὸς, comp. Romans 8:11; Galatians 1:6, Galatians 1:2:8, Galatians 1:3:5, Galatians 1:5, Galatians 1:5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:24. That ἐναρξάμενος contains a sacrificial metaphor, the beginning of the gospel-work among the Philippians being conceived as the inauguration of a sacrifice (Lightf.), is not probable. The word is used in that sense mostly in poetry, and the conception, in any case, is far-fetched. Lightf. compares 2:17, but that can hardly be said to be in point. Ἐνάρχεσθαι occurs three times in the N.T. (2 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 3:3), only in Paul, and always with ἐπιτελεῖν.
ἐν ὑμῖν: ‘In you’; in your hearts. Not ‘among you.’ (Comp. 2:13.)
ἔργον αʼγαθὸν: Comp. 2:13. The work begun in their reception of the gospel, and developed in their activity and close fellowship for its promotion. The thought is taken up again in vs. 7.
ἐπιτελέσει: ‘Complete,’ ‘consummate.’ For the thought, comp. 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3. The sense is pregnant; will carry it on toward completion, and finally complete.
ἄχρι ἡμέρας Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ: ‘Day of Jesus Christ’ is the second coming or parousia of the Lord. The phrase is varied in Paul’s epistles: ἡ ἡμέρα, absolutely (1 Thessalonians 5:4; 1 Corinthians 3:13; Romans 8:12); ἡ ἡμέρα ἐκείνη (2 Thessalonians 1:10); ἡμέρα Χριστοῦ (Philippians 1:10, Philippians 2:16); ἡμέρα κυρίου or τοῦ κυρίιου (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2); ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ (Χτοῦ) (1 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:14). It refers to a definite point of time when the Lord will appear, and Paul expects this appearance soon. Attempts to evade this by referring his expressions to the day of death, or to the advance toward perfection after death until the final judgment, are forced and shaped by dogmatic preconceptions of the nature of inspiration. (See Jowett, “On the Belief of the Coming of Christ in the Apostolical Age,” in The Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, etc.).
7. καθώς ἐστιν δίκαιον ἐμοὶ τοῦτο φρονεῖν ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν: ‘Even as it is right for me to be thus minded on behalf of you all.’
Καθώς is a nearer definition of πεποιθὼς, stating its ground in the affectionate relation between Paul and his readers. For a similar usage, see Galatians 3:6. I am confident, even as it is right for me to have such confidence. Comp. also 3:17; Romans 1:28; 1 Corinthians 1:6; Ephesians 1:4.
δίκαιον: in the general moral sense, as 4:8; Acts 4:19; Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 4:1; referring, as in classical usage, to the conception of what is normal, yet having at its foundation, not the natural relation of man to man, but the moral relation of man to God. The classical construction of the clause would be δίκαιον ἐμὲ τοῦτο φρονεῖν, or δίκαιος εἰμὶ τοῦτο φρ. (See Win. lxvi.)
φρονεῖν: ‘To be minded’; not as A.V., ‘to think.’ The word denotes rather a general disposition of the mind than a specific act of thought directed at a given point. Comp. 3:15, 19, 4:2; Romans 8:5, Romans 8:11:20; 1 Corinthians 13:11; Galatians 5:10; Matthew 16:23; and see on 3:15. Comp. also φρόνημα (Romans 8:6, Romans 8:7, Romans 8:27). Mey. defines ‘the ethical Christian quality.’ Similarly, in class. Greek, φρονεῖν often occurs with εὖ, καλῶς, ὀρθῶς κακῶς: τά τινος φρονεῖν is to be of one’s party or on his side. (See Schmidt, Synon. 147, 7, 8.) The reference of φρονεῖν here is to πεποιθὼς, not to the ‘supplication’ (vs. 4), which the sense of φρονεῖν does not admit.
ὑπὲρ παντῶν ὑμῶν: Ὑπὲρ is stronger than περὶ, ‘concerning.’ Const. with φρονεῖν, as 4:10. ‘All,’ collectively. The reference of this frequently recurring ‘all’ to Paul’s deprecation of divisions in the church is far-fetched.
διὰ τὸ ἔχειν με ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμᾶς: ‘Because I have you in my heart.’ Not, ‘because you have me,’ which is forbidden by the position of the words, and by the following verse (Win. xliv.). It is right for me so to think, because I have a personal affection for you (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:3), as those who are my partakers in grace and my co-laborers in the work of the gospel. This is not to be understood as if Paul’s natural affection for his readers made it right for him to expect that the work begun in them would be completed, but the expectation was justified by his love for them in Christ. He knew no man after the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:16); he loved them ‘in the heart of Jesus Christ’ (vs. 8), and the reason for his love was also the fundamental reason for his confidence in the completion of the work of God in them.
ἔν τε τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου, etc.: Not to be taken with the preceding sentence, so as to read ‘I have you in my heart both in my bonds,’ etc. (so Mey., De W., Alf., Beet, Weizs.), but to be attached to the following συνκοινωνούς … ὄντας (so Lips., Lightf., Dw., Weiss, Ellic., Kl., Ead., WH., R.V.), ‘I have you in my heart as being (ὄντας) partakers with me in grace both in my bonds and in the defence,’ etc. The development of the thought as related to κοινωνία (vs. 4) and the repetition of ὑμᾶς, which is more easily accounted for if the new clause begins with ἔν τε τοῖς δεσμοῖς, make this connection the more probable one. The apostle is confident because of his love for them in Christ, and he cherishes them in his heart because of the evidence furnished by them that in his sufferings and in the defence of the gospel they are united with him in the closest Christian fellowship.
καὶ ἐν τῇ�
Ἀπολογία occurs in the sense of defence against a judicial accusation (Acts 25:16; 2 Timothy 4:16). As a defence against private persons (1 Corinthians 9:3; 2 Corinthians 7:11). In a loose sense, including both these (Philippians 1:16; 1 Peter 3:15). Here it may include Paul’s defence before the Roman authorities, but it must not be limited to that. It includes all his efforts, wherever put forth, to defend the gospel.
Βεβαίωσις occurs only here and Hebrews 6:16. It is closely allied but not synonymous with�1 Corinthians 1:6, 1 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:21.
συνκοινωνούς μου τῆς χάριτοσͅ: Συνκοινωνὸς occurs in the N.T. with both persons (1 Corinthians 9:23) and things (Romans 11:17). Render ‘partakers with me of grace,’ not as A.V. ‘partakers of my grace.’ Against this is the order of the pronouns, and the fact that when Paul speaks of the grace peculiar to himself he never says μοῦ ἡ χάρις or ἡ χάρις μου, but ἡ χάρις ἡ δοθεῖσα μοι (Galatians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 3:10; Romans 12:3, Romans 15:15); or ἡ χάρις αὐτοῦ ἡ εἰς ἐμὲ (1 Corinthians 15:10). Moreover, the grace is characterised by ‘in my bonds,’ etc For a similar construction of a noun with a double genitive, of the person and of the thing, see 1:25, 2:30. The article with χάριτος characterises the absolute grace of God in its peculiar applications to his trials and theirs, and in its manifestations in their sympathy and effort. Grace prompted them to alleviate his imprisonment, to coöperate with him in defending and propagating the gospel, and to suffer for its sake.
8. μάρτυς γάρ μου ὁ θεός:
The reading μοι for μου, Vulg. mihi, has little support.
A strong adjuration thrown in as a spontaneous expression of feeling, like “God knows.” (Comp. Romans 1:9; 2 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:5, 1 Thessalonians 2:10.) Chrys. says it is an expression of his inability to express his feeling, ‘I cannot express how I long.’ Similarly, Aretius, “No necessity compels him to this appeal, yet the greatness of his love does not satisfy itself without betaking itself to God’s tribunal.”
Some of the earlier interpreters explained the words as an attestation of Paul’s love made with a view of heightening that of his readers; as a formal oath in verification of his teaching; as a protection against slanderers and against suspicion. Klöpper thinks that they were aimed at certain persons in the church who were not in full sympathy with him and did not wholly trust his assurances. All these explanations are forced. The general statement, ‘I have you in my heart,’ is carried out by the stronger expression.
ὡς ἐπιποθῶ πάντας ὑμᾶς ἐν σπλάγχνοις Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ:
ὡς: ‘how,’ as Romans 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:10. Not ‘tha.’ (See Thay. Lex. sub voce, i. 6.)
ἐπιποθῶ: Mostly in Paul. The only exceptions are James 4:5; 1 Peter 2:2. Ἐπὶ denotes the direction, not the intensity of the emotion, as Lightf. and Kl.
σπλάγχνοις: Σπλάγχνα are the nobler entrails—the heart, liver, and lungs, as distinguished from the intestines (τὰ ἔντερα), and regarded collectively as the seat of the feelings, the affections and passions, especially anxiety and anger. ‘Heart’ is used similarly by us. A like usage appears in Hebrew, though the nobler organs are not selected for the metaphorical usage. Thus מֵעִֽים, ‘bowels,’ ‘womb,’ ‘stomach,’ and קֶרֶב, ‘bowels,’ ‘belly,’ ‘womb,’ are both used for the heart as the seat of feeling. The plural of רַֽחִם, ‘the womb,’ רַֽהֲמִֽים, is rendered in the LXX by οἰκτιρμοί, Psa_25 (24):6, 40 (39):12; by ἔλεος, Isaiah 47:6; by σπλάγχνα, Proverbs 12:10. The word occurs occasionally in the singular, σπλάγχνον, in the tragedians. (See Æsch. Eum. 240; Soph. Aj. 995; Eur. Orest. 1201, Hippol. 118.) For N.T. usage, see 2:1; 2 Corinthians 6:12, 2 Corinthians 6:7:15; Colossians 3:12; Philemon 1:7, Philemon 1:12, Philemon 1:20.
Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ: Paul’s feeling is not his mere natural affection, but an affection so informed with Christ that it is practically Christ’s own love. Christ loves them in him. Thus Beng., “In Paulo non Paulus vivit sed Jesus Christus; quare Paulus non in Pauli, sed Jesu Christi movetur visceribus.”
9. καὶ τοῦτο προσεύχομαι: With reference to δέησιν in vs. 4. Καὶ not connecting τοῦτο προς. with ἐπιποθῶ, so as to read ‘how I long and how I pray’ (so Ril.). This would weaken, if not destroy the force of vs. 8. A new topic is introduced by καὶ.
Τοῦτο points to what follows, calling attention to the subject of the prayer. ‘This which follows is what I pray.’
Ἵνα marks the purport of the prayer. For προσεύχ. ἵνα, see 1 Corinthians 14:13.
There is abundant evidence that ἵνα has, in many cases, lost its telic sense and has come to express result or purport. See, for example, 1 Thessalonians 5:4; 1 Corinthians 7:29, and the sensible remarks of Canon Evans on the latter passage in the Speaker’s Com. The examples are drawn out and classified by Burton, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of N. T. Greek, 191-223. See also Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 176 ff.
ἔτι μᾶλλον καὶ μᾶλλον περισσεύῃ: Comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:9, 1 Thessalonians 4:10. Notice the accumulation of comparative phrases so common with Paul, as vs. 23; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 3:20.
For περισσευη, BD 37 read περισσευση; so Weiss, and WH. marg. K*P περισσευελ. FG περισσευοι.
Love, like other Christian graces, grows. (Comp. 3:13.) Notice the progressive present, ‘may continue to abound.’ Chrys. remarks: “For this is a good of which there is no satiety.”
ἐν ἐπιγνώσει καὶ πάσῃ αἰσθήσει: ‘in knowledge and in all discernment.’ Ἐπίγνωσις and the kindred verb ἐπιγινώσκειν are favorite words with Paul. Ἐπί has the force of addition; knowledge superadded; advanced knowledge, rather than (as Thay. and Kl.) direction toward; application to that which is known. (See Sanday on Romans 1:28, and Evans on 1 Corinthians 13:12.) Thus it signifies here developed knowledge of truth, with more especial reference to the practical knowledge which informs Christian love as to the right circumstances, aims, ways, and means. (See Colossians 1:9, Colossians 1:10.) The difference between the simple and the compound word is illustrated in 1 Corinthians 13:12; Romans 1:21, Romans 1:28. Ἐπίγνωσις is always applied in the N.T. to the knowledge of things ethical and divine. In all the four epistles of the captivity it is one of the subjects of the apostle’s opening prayer for his readers. It is constructed mostly with a genitive of the object, as ἁμαρτίας, ἁληθείας, and occurs absolutely only in Romans 10:2.
αἰσθήσει: Only here in N.T. Comp. αἰσθητήρια (Hebrews 5:14). In LXX, Proverbs 1:4, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 1:22, Proverbs 1:3:20, Proverbs 1:5:2; Sir. 22:19; Jude 1:16:17. Primarily of sensuous, but also of spiritual perception. It is the faculty of spiritual discernment of the bearings of each particular circumstance or case which may emerge in experience. It is more specific than ἐπίγνωσις with the practical applications of which it deals. Πάσῃ is added because this discernment operates in manifold ways, according to the various relations of the subject to the facts of experience. Ἐν, which belongs to both nouns, follows the standing usage, περισσεύειν ἐν. (See Romans 15:13; 2 Corinthians 3:9, 2 Corinthians 8:7.) Paul prays for the abounding of love in these two aspects, advanced knowledge and right spiritual discernment; an intelligent and discriminating love; love which, however ardent and sincere, shall not be a mere unregulated impulse. Even natural love has a quick perception, an intuitive knowledge; but without the regulative principle of the spiritual reason, it is not secure against partial seeing and misconception, and results which do not answer to the purity of its motives. Ἐπίγνωσις is the general regulator and guide. Αἴσθησις applies ἐπίγνωσις to the finer details of the individual life, and fulfils itself in the various phases of Christian tact.
10. εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τὰ διαφέροντα: ‘That you may put to the proof the things that differ.’
Εἰς governing the infin. with τὸ is frequent in Paul. (See Romans 1:11, Romans 1:3:26, Romans 1:8:29; Ephesians 1:12.)
Δοκιμάζειν in class. Gk. of assaying metals. (Comp. LXX, Proverbs 8:10, Proverbs 8:17:3; Sir. 2:5; also 1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Peter 1:7.) In class. the technical word for testing money (Plato, Tim. 65, c.). Δοκιμάζειν and πυροῦσθαι occur together (Jeremiah 9:7; Psa_12 (11):6, 66 (65):10). Generally, ‘to prove,’ ‘examine,’ as 1 Corinthians 11:28; Galatians 6:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:21. ‘To accept’ that which is proved to be good. This and the more general sense appear together in 1 Corinthians 16:3; 2 Corinthians 8:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:4.
τὰ διαφέροντα: Διαφέρειν, in class. and N.T., means both ‘to excel’ (Matthew 6:26, Matthew 6:10:31, Matthew 6:12:12; Luke 12:7, Luke 12:24), and ‘to differ’ (1 Corinthians 15:41; Galatians 4:1, Galatians 2:6).
Expositors are divided between two renderings. 1. ‘To put to the proof the things that differ,’ and so discriminate between them (so Alf., Ead., Lips., Kl., De W., Weiss, Hack.). 2. ‘To approve the things that are excellent’ (so Ellic., Mey., Beet, Lightf., Vulg., R.V., but with 1 in marg.). The difference is not really essential, since, in any case, the result contemplated is the approval of what is good. But 1 agrees better with what precedes, especially with αἴσθησις. Paul is emphasising the necessity of wisdom and discrimination in love. This necessity arises from circumstances which present moral problems, and develop differences of view, and give room for casuistry. The discrimination of love applies tests, and makes distinctions impossible to the untrained moral sense. Therefore the Romans are urged to be ‘transformed by the renewing of their mind,’ in order that they may prove (δοκιμάζειν) the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). Paul illustrates this discrimination in the matter of eating meat offered to idols (1 Cor. 8., 10:19-33). In that case love abounds, not only in knowledge, but in perception of a delicate distinction between an act which is right in itself, and wrong in the light of the obligation to the weak conscience. The αἴσθησις of love is the only sure guide in questions which turn upon things morally indifferent. Thus the whole thought is as follows: ‘May your love increase and abound in ripe knowledge and perceptive power, that you may apply the right tests and reach the right decisions in things which present moral differences.’ (Comp. Ephesians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; Hebrews 5:14.)
The majority of the Greek fathers explained the differences as those between believers and unbelievers, heretics or errorists, or between true and false doctrine; many of the moderns of the difference between right and wrong. (See Klöpper on this pass.)
ἵνα ἦτε εἰλικρινεῖς καὶ�
There is good ancient authority for ειλικ., both with and without the aspirate. (See WH. N. T. Append. sub ‘breathings.’) The word only here and 2 Peter 3:1. The kindred noun εἰλικρίνεια in 1 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 1:12, 2 Corinthians 2:17. The meaning is ‘pure,’ ‘sincere.’
None of the etymologies are satisfactory. The usual one is εἵλη, ‘tested by the sunlight,’ but εἵλη means the heat of the sun.
Lightf. suggests a probable(?) derivation from εἵλη, ‘a troop’; others, from εἴλω or ἴλλω, ‘to turn round,’—hence ‘judged by turning round,’ or ‘sifted by revolution.’
ἀπρόσκοποι: Either (1) ‘not causing others to stumble’ (Lips., Mey., Ead.), or (2) ‘not stumbling’ (Alf., Ellic., Kl., Weiss, Lightf.). For 1, see 1 Corinthians 10:32; and comp. Romans 14:13; 2 Corinthians 6:3; for 2, Acts 24:16. The former meaning is clearly preferable, as related to what precedes. The discernment of love is especially demanded in adjusting a Christian’s true relations to his brethren. Lightf.’s reason for adopting 2 is that the question is solely that of the fitness of the Philippians to appear before the tribunal of Christ, and that therefore any reference to their influence upon others would be out of place. How influence upon others can be left out of the question of such fitness, it is not easy to see. Certainly, if we are to believe Christ himself, the awards of the day of Christ will be determined quite as much by the individual’s relations to his fellow-men as by his personal righteousness, if the two can be separated, as they cannot be. Christ’s thought on that point is unmistakably expressed in Matthew 25:40; and Paul furnishes his own interpretation of�Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 10:32; 2 Corinthians 4:3; and especially 1 Corinthians 8:13.
εἰς ἡμέραν Χριστοῦ:
εἰς, not ‘till,’ as A.V., but ‘for,’ ‘against,’ as those who are preparing for it. For this sense of εἰς, comp. 2:16; Ephesians 4:30; 2 Timothy 1:12.
11. πεπληρωμένοι καρπὸν δικαιοσύνης: ‘being filled with the fruit of righteousness.’ Πεπλ. agrees with the subject of ἦτε in vs. 10, and defines εἰλικρινεῖς and�Colossians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11. (Comp. LXX, Exodus 31:3.) Paul elsewhere uses πληροῦν with the genit. or dat. (See Romans 1:29, Romans 1:15:13, Romans 1:14; 2 Corinthians 7:4.)
The reading of TR καρπων … των is feebly supported.
Καρπὸς in its moral and religious sense occurs in vs. 22, 4:17; Romans 1:13, Romans 1:6:21, Romans 1:22, Romans 1:15:28; Galatians 5:22, nearly always of a good result. The phrase ‘fruit of righteousness’ is from the O.T. (See Proverbs 11:30; Amos 6:13. Comp. James 3:18.) The genit. δικαιοσύνης is not appositional, ‘fruit which consists in righteousness,’ but, as Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9; James 3:18, ‘the fruit which righteousness produces.’
Δικαιοσύνη, not in Paul’s more technical sense of ‘righteousness by faith,’ but moral rightness; righteousness of life; though, as Mey. justly observes, it is a moral condition which is the moral consequence, because the necessary vital expression of the righteousness of faith. (Comp. Romans 7:4; Colossians 1:10.) “The technical and the moral conceptions of righteousness may be dogmatically distinguished, but not in fact, since the latter cannot exist without the former” (Weiss). This appears from the next clause—τὸν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Notice the defining force of τὸν.
Righteousness without Christ cannot be fruitful (John 15:5, John 15:8, John 15:16).
εἰς δόξαν καὶ ἔπαινον θεοῦ: Construe with the whole preceding sentence, and not with καρπὸν only.
Δόξα is not used in N.T. in the classical sense of ‘notion’ or ‘opinion.’ In the sense of ‘reputation’ (John 12:43; Romans 2:7, Romans 2:10). As ‘brightness’ or ‘splendor’ (Acts 22:11; Romans 9:4; 1 Corinthians 15:40). ‘The glory of God’ expresses the sum total of the divine perfections. It is prominent in the redemptive revelation (Isaiah 60:1; Romans 5:2, Romans 4:4). It expresses the form in which God reveals himself in the economy of salvation (Romans 9:23; Ephesians 1:12; 1 Timothy 1:11). It is the means by which the redemptive work is carried on; in calling (2 Peter 1:3); in raising up Christ and believers with him (Romans 6:4); in imparting strength to believers (Ephesians 3:16; Colossians 1:11). It is the goal of Christian hope (Romans 5:2, Romans 5:8:18, Romans 5:21; Titus 2:13). It is the redemptive aspect of the phrase which gives the key to its meaning here. The love of God’s children, abounding in discriminating knowledge, their being filled with the fruit of righteousness, redounds to (εἰς) his glory as a redeeming God. It honors him in respect of that which is preëminently his glory. Every holy character is a testimony to the divine character and efficiency of the work of redemption.
ἔπαινον: The homage rendered to God as a God of ‘glory.’ (See Ephesians 1:6, Ephesians 1:12, Ephesians 1:14; 1 Peter 1:7.)
The apostle now enters upon the subject-matter of the letter. From vs. 12 to vs. 26 he treats of—
1. The state of the gospel in Rome.
(a) Its advancement through his imprisonment (12-14).
(b) The different kinds of preachers (15-17).
2. His own condition and hopes (18-26).
12-14. Though you may have feared that the cause of the gospel is suffering by reason of my imprisonment, I wish to assure you that it has rather been promoted thereby. My imprisonment has become known as being for Christ’s sake, not only to the whole band of the prætorian troops, but also to the rest of Rome; and the majority of the Christian brethren have had their faith in God strengthened by my example, and their boldness in preaching the gospel increased.
12. γινώσκειν δὲ ὑμᾶς βούλομαι: ‘now I would have you know.’ This phrase does not occur elsewhere in N.T., but Paul uses several similar expressions in order to call special attention to what he is about to say. Thus, θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς εἰδέναι (1 Corinthians 11:3; Colossians 2:1); οὐ θέλω (ομεν) ὑμᾶς�1 Corinthians 10:1; Romans 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13); γνωρίζω (ομεν) ὑμῖν (1 Corinthians 15:1; 2 Corinthians 8:1; Galatians 1:11).
ὰ κατʼ ἐμὲ: ‘The things pertaining to me’; my experience as a prisoner. (Comp. Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7.) Not ‘that which has been undertaken against me,’ which would require ἐμοῦ.
μᾶλλον: Not ‘more’ (quantitatively), but ‘rather.’ Though you feared that my circumstances might injure the cause of the gospel, they have rather promoted it. The comparative is often used without mention of the standard of comparison. (See 2:28; Romans 15:15; 1 Corinthians 7:38, 1 Corinthians 7:12:31; 2 Corinthians 7:7, 2 Corinthians 7:13, etc.; Win. xxxv. 4.)
προκοπὴν: Only here, vs. 25, and 1 Timothy 4:15. A word of later Greek, occurring in Plut., Jos., and Philo. (See Wetst.) In LXX, see Sir. 51:17; 2 Macc. 8:8. The figure in the word is uncertain, but is supposed to be that of pioneers cutting a way before an army, and so furthering its march. The opposite is expressed by ἐγκόπτειν, ‘to cut into,’ ‘to throw obstacles in the way of,’ and so ‘to hinder’ (Galatians 5:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 1 Peter 3:7).
εὐαγγελίου: Originally ‘a present given in return for good news.’ (See Hom. Od. xiv. 152; Aristoph. Knights, 647; 2 Samuel 4:10, 2 Samuel 18:22.) In class. Gk. it meant, in the plu., ‘a sacrifice for good tidings’; hence the phrase εὐαγγελία θύειν (Aristoph. Knights, 656; Xen. Hell. i. 6, 37, iv. 3, 14). Later, ‘the good news’ itself, as 2 Samuel 18:20, 2 Samuel 18:25, 2 Samuel 18:27; 2 Kings 7:9. Hence ‘the joyful tidings of Messiah’s kingdom—the gospel.’ In the N.T., never in the sense of a book.
εἰς … ἐλήλυθεν: Not elsewhere in Paul. (See Sap. 15:5.) ‘Has redounded to’; ‘fallen out unto.’
13. ὥστε τοὺς δεσμούς μου φανεροὺς ἐν Χριστῷ:
Ὥστε with the accus. w. inf., as 1 Corinthians 1:7. With an explanatory force, the explanation being regarded as a result of the notion of προκοπὴν. (See Jelf, Gram. 863, obs. 7.) Render: ‘so that my bonds became manifest in Christ’; not ‘my bonds in Christ,’ against which is the position of the words. Moreover, the force of the statement lies in the fact that his imprisonment has become a matter of notoriety as being for Christ. His confinement as a Christian would excite attention and inquiry. (Comp. Ign. Smyr. xi. δεδεμένος θεοπρεπεστάτοις δεσμοῖς πάντας�
ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ πραιτωρίῳ:
‘In (or throughout) the whole prætorian guard.’ The prætorians formed the imperial guard. They were ten thousand in number, picked men, originally of Italian birth, but drawn later from Macedonia, Noricum, and Spain. They were originally instituted by Augustus, who stationed three of their cohorts in Rome, and dispersed the others in the adjacent towns. Tiberius concentrated them all at Rome in a permanent and strongly fortified camp. Vitellius increased their number to sixteen thousand. They were distinguished by special privileges and by double pay. Their original term of service was twelve years, afterwards increased to sixteen. On retiring, each soldier received a bounty amounting to nearly nine hundred dollars. Paul was committed to the charge of these troops, the soldiers relieving each other in mounting guard over him in his private lodging. (See note at the end of this chapter.)
καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν: (Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:2.) ‘All the rest,’ as distinguished from the prætorians. Not as A.V., ‘in all other places’ (so Chrys., Thdrt., Calv.). His imprisonment as a Christian became known beyond the limits of the guard, in the city at large. Immediately upon his arrival he addressed the chief of the Jews (Acts 28:17), and later a larger number (vs. 23), and for two years received all that came to him (vs. 30).
14. καὶ τοὺς πλείονας τῶν�
τοὺς πλείονας: Not as A.V. ‘many,’ but ‘the greater number.’ (Comp. 1 Corinthians 10:5.)
Differences as to the connection of the words. 1. ἐν κυρίῳ: (a) with�
As to 1 (a),�1 Corinthians 4:17; Colossians 4:7; Philemon 1:16, are in point, since in none of them does the preposition depend directly on�Galatians 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:4.) But the sense is forced, if it can be called sense. What is meant by ‘having confidence in,’ or ‘trusting in my bonds’? 2 (b) is a legitimate construction. (See Jeremiah 31:7, LXX, Eng. Bib. 48:7; Philippians 2:24; and the analogous constructions, Philippians 3:3, Philippians 3:4.) It is true that in such cases πεποιθ. usually precedes; but the change of position is for the sake of emphasis, as Philippians 3:3. Ἐν κυρίῳ is the ground of πεποιθ., and τοῖς δεσμ. is instrumental. The sense is thus simple and consistent. By Paul’s bonds the brethren have had their confidence in the Lord strengthened. He has already said that his bonds have become manifest in Christ. The testimony borne by his imprisonment has been distinctly that of Christ’s prisoner, and has therefore encouraged confidence in Christ.
περισσοτέρως τολμᾷν�2 Corinthians 1:12, 2 Corinthians 1:2:4; Galatians 1:14. It belongs with τολμᾷν, not with�
Τολμᾷν is to carry into action the feeling of resolute confidence expressed by θαρσεῖν. (See 2 Corinthians 10:2, and W. St. ad loc.)
τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ: The message of God; the gospel. Very frequent in N.T. Once in the sense of ‘the declared purpose of God’ (Romans 9:6). Not elsewhere in Paul with λαλεῖν. For the phrase τὸν λόγ. λαλ. or τὸν λόγ. θε. λαλ., see Acts 4:31, Acts 13:46, Acts 14:25.
Paul’s boldness and patience in his captivity have stirred up the courage and zeal of the Roman Christians, and probably have awakened shame in some recreant disciples. Chrys. remarks that their courage had not failed before, but had grown by the apostle’s bonds.
15-17. But all those who preach Christ are not actuated by equally pure motives. While some are moved by love and by sympathy with me as a defender of the gospel, others, in a spirit of envy, contention, and partisanship, proclaim Christ insincerely, seeking to add to the affliction of my captivity.
15. τινὲς μὲν καὶ διὰ φθόνον καὶ ἔριν: ‘some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife.’ These words are independent of the preceding clause, and introduce a new feature of the condition of the gospel in Rome. The words τὸν λόγ. τ. θε. λαλ. open to the apostle the general subject of the preaching of the gospel in the metropolis. Much wearisome discussion has arisen on the question whether Paul includes those who preach Christ of envy and strife in the πλείονας of vs. 14, or treats them as a distinct class. It seems apparent on its face that the motives of envy and strife which attach to the τινὲς μὲν cannot be reconciled with the ἐν κυρίῳ πεποιθ., nor with the sympathetic consciousness that Paul is set for the defence of the gospel. (See Weiss’ novel effort to reconcile these.) Moreover, the καὶ has its familiar contrasting force, and introduces another and a different class, and not the same class with the addition of a subordinate and baser motive. Thus the τινὲς μὲν are set over against the πλείονας.
But who are meant by these τινὲς μὲν? Some of the Fathers, as Chrys., Œc., Theoph., explained of unbelievers who proclaimed Christianity in order to awaken the hatred of Paul’s enemies; others, as Grot., of Jews, who brought the gospel and its evidences into controversy in order to injure or refute it. Since Beng. the view has prevailed that they were Judaising Christians (so Lightf., Lips., Dw., Mey., Beet, Ellic., Lum., Nedr., Weizs.). But this view does not seem reconcilable with Paul’s words concerning the Judaisers in this very epistle (3:2), and in the Galatian and Second Corinthian letters. Nowhere in his epistles does Paul speak of the Judaisers as preachers of Christ unless it be “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4). Although they accepted Jesus as the Messiah, in their preaching he was thrown into the background behind the claims of the law. Paul found worse enemies among these Christians than among the heathen; yet here he virtually sanctions their preaching, and rejoices in it. To say that they are shown to have been Judaising Christians because they preached Christ of envy and strife, is to argue in a circle. The attempt to solve the difficulty by assuming that the form of Judaistic opposition was milder in Rome than in the East (Mey., Dw., Pfl. Paulinismus, pp. 42, 332) seems like a desperate resource. To say that a conciliation of the Jewish-Christian element in Rome is implied in Paul’s recognition of the value of the old covenant relation (Romans 3:1 f., Romans 9:4, Romans 10:2); in his charity towards a narrow conscientiousness (14:3-23); in his expressions of love and sympathy for his own race (9:1-3, 10:1, 11:1, 13); and in his warning of the Gentiles against self-elation (11:17-24)—is a piece of special pleading. Paul shows equal respect for narrow conscientiousness in 1 Cor., and he never fails to treat the law and the covenants with respect; while his love and sympathy for his own race appear everywhere. Weiss (Einl. i. d. N. T. § 26) remarks on this passage: “This is generally supposed to refer to Judaistic teachers in Rome, whose appearance is made an argument for the still strongly Jewish-Christian character of the Roman church. But the way in which Paul unreservedly gives expression to his joy respecting this accession of preaching, makes it quite inconceivable that these personal opponents should have preached a gospel in any way differing from that which he preached.”
While therefore the τινὲς μὲν, etc., may include individual Judaisers, they are not to be limited to these. I incline rather to regard them as Pauline Christians who were personally jealous of the apostle, and who sought to undermine his influence. It may be, as Weiss suggests, that as the Roman church before Paul’s arrival had no definite leadership, it was easy for ambitious and smaller men to obtain a certain prominence which they found menaced by the presence and influence of the apostle. Comp. the state of things in the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 3:4).
διὰ φθόνον καὶ ἔριν: Directed at Paul personally. Διὰ, ‘on account of,’ marking the motive. (Comp. Matthew 27:18; Ephesians 2:4; Romans 13:5.)
εὐδοκίαν: A purely Biblical word. As related to one’s self, it means ‘contentment,’ ‘satisfaction’ (Sir. 29:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; on which, see Bornemann, Comm. ad loc.). As related to others, it means ‘good-will,’ ‘benevolence.’ Of God’s good-will to men (Luke 10:21; Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:9; Philippians 2:13). The meaning ‘desire’ (so Lightf. for Sir. 11:7, and Romans 10:1 [see comm. on this pass.], and Thay. Lex. for Romans 10:1) cannot be supported. (See Sanday on Romans 10:1.) For εὐδοκεῖν, see 1 Corinthians 10:5; 2 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12. Here ‘good-will’ towards Paul and the cause of the gospel.
τὸν Χριστὸν κηρύσσουσιν:
Κηρύσσειν, orig. ‘to perform the duty of a herald’ (κήρυξ), is the standard N.T. word for the proclamation of the gospel. Not often in any other sense. Of the preaching of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1; Mark 1:4; Acts 10:37); of preaching the claims of the Mosaic law (Acts 15:21; Galatians 5:11). Chiefly, perhaps wholly, confined to the primary announcement of the gospel, and not including continuous instruction or teaching of believers, which is expressed by διδάσκειν. (See both in Matthew 4:23, Matthew 9:35, Matthew 11:1.) Yet in passages like 1 Corinthians 1:23, 1 Corinthians 9:27, 1 Corinthians 15:11, the distinction between missionary and church preaching cannot be clearly inferred. For the phrase κηρύσσειν Χτὸν or τὸν Χτὸν, Χτὸν Ἰησοῦν, Ἰ. Χτὸν, see Acts 8:5; 1 Corinthians 1:23, 1 Corinthians 1:15:12; 2 Corinthians 1:19, 2 Corinthians 4:5.
τον before χτον omitted by אca BFG.
16. The TR reverses the order of vs. 16, 17 (so Dbc KL., Syr.P, and several Fathers). The change seems to have been made in order to conform to the order of the parties in vs. 15. The words in the correct order of our text exhibit a cross-reference (chiasmus), the first specification of vs. 16 referring to the second of vs. 15. Render: ‘They that are of love (preach Christ) because they know that I am set for the defence of the gospel; and they that are of faction (preach Christ) not purely, because they think to add affliction to my bonds.’
Οἱ μὲν ἐξ�
For the expressions οἱ ἐξ�John 18:37; Romans 2:8; Galatians 3:7.
Εἰδότες and οἰόμενοι (vs. 17) have a causal force; ‘since they know,’ ‘since they think.’
ἀπολογίαν: See on vs. 7. The meaning as there. Not as Chrys., Theoph., Œc., the ‘account’ of his ministry which Paul was to render to God.
κεῖμαι: As Luke 2:34; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Timothy 1:9. Orig. ‘to be laid’; ‘to lie.’ Hence ‘to be appointed or destined.’
17. ἐριθίας: Not from ἔρις, but ἔριθος, ‘a hired servant.’ Hence ἐριθία is, primarily, ‘labor for hire’ (see Tob. 2:11), and is applied to those who serve in official positions for their own selfish purposes, and, to that end, promote party-spirit or faction. Render, ‘faction.’
καταγγέλλουσιν: Substantially the same as κηρύσσουσιν, though among the compounds of�
οἰόμενοι: Only here in Paul, and only twice besides in N.T. (See LXX, Job 11:2; Job_1 Macc. 5:61; 2 Macc. 5:21, 7:24.) It denotes, in class. Gk., a belief or judgment based principally upon one’s own feelings, or the peculiar relations of outward circumstances to himself. In its radical sense it implies the supposition of something future and doubtful. In Attic Gk., an opinion with a collateral notion of wrong judgment or conceit (so in the citations from LXX, above). The knowledge of Paul’s mission by his friends (εἰδότες) is offset by the malicious imagining (οἰόμενοι) of his enemies.
θλίψιν ἐγείρειν: ‘to raise up affliction.’
TR επιφερειν with DKL.
The phrase is unique in N.T., but a similar usage is found in LXX; Proverbs 10:12, Proverbs 10:15:1, Proverbs 10:17:11; Sir. 33:7. The meaning is not that they deliberately set themselves to aggravate Paul’s sufferings, but that their malice was gratified by the annoyance which their efforts to promote their own partisan ends caused him.
18-26. What then comes of this insincere preaching and of this malice towards me? Only this, that whether Christ is preached in pretext or in truth, he is preached, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice; for I know that this train of afflictions will turn out for my salvation in answer to your prayer and through that which the Spirit of Christ shall supply to me. And thus will be fulfilled my earnest expectation and my hope that I shall be put to shame in nothing; but that, as with all boldness I shall continue to preach and to suffer for Christ’s sake, Christ will be magnified in this afflicted body of mine, whether I live or die. For as to life, life to me is Christ. As to death, it is gain. Now, if to continue to live means fruitful labor, I have nothing to say as to my own preference. I am strongly appealed to from both sides. If I should consult only my own desire, I should wish to go and be with Christ, for that is by far the better thing. But, on the other hand, I am assured that, for your sake, it is more necessary that I should continue to live; and therefore I know that I shall remain with you, that I may promote your advancement and your joy in your faith; so that, in Christ Jesus, your joy in me may abound through my being present with you again.
18. τί γάρ: To be followed by the interrogation-point. Interjectional, and called out by what immediately precedes. (Comp. Romans 3:3.) They think to raise up affliction for me in my chains. What then? Suppose this is so. (Comp. Eng. ‘for why.’) For γάρ in interrogations suggested by what precedes, see Matthew 27:23; Romans 4:3, Romans 4:11:34; 1 Corinthians 2:16, 1 Corinthians 11:22. (See Win. liii., lxiv.)
πλὴν ὅτι: ‘only that.’
TR omits οτι, as DKL. B reads οτι without πλην.
What does it signify? Only that, in any event, Christ is preached. He leaves the annoying side of the case to take care of itself, and passes on to the encouraging aspect. For πλὴν, comp. 3:16, 4:14; 1 Corinthians 11:11; Ephesians 5:33. Πλὴν with ὅτι only Acts 20:23. (See Blass, Gramm. § 77, 13.)
παντὶ τρόπῳ: ‘in every way’ of preaching the gospel.
εἴτε προφάσει εἴτε�
προφάσει: Using the name of Christ as a cover or mask for personal and selfish ends. For the word, comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:5. Used absolutely, Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47.
Χριστὸς καταγγέλλεται: Christianity thrives even through insincere preaching. The enemies of the truth proclaim it by their opposition. The words imply Paul’s confidence in the power of the mere proclamation of Christ as a fact.
Mey. thinks that the interrogation-point should be placed after καταγγ. instead of τί γάρ. In that case the rendering would be: ‘What else takes place save that Christ is preached?’ But though τί γάρ as an independent question occurs only twice, Paul often uses τί οὖν in that way. There is no instance in his letters of πλὴν ὅτι=τί�
Οἶδα as distinguished from γινώσκειν is the knowledge of intuition or satisfied conviction, or absolute knowledge. So often, by John, of Christ (3:11, 5:32, 6:6, 61, 64, 7:29, 8:14, 13:1, 11). So Paul, of God (2 Corinthians 11:11, 2 Corinthians 12:2). In. John 21:17 the two verbs appear together. Οἶδα is often used by Paul in appealing to what his readers know well, or ought, or might naturally be expected, to know (Romans 2:2, Romans 2:7:14; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Galatians 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; etc.).
τοῦτο: In a general sense, explained by τὰ κατʼ ἐμὲ (vs. 12). This whole train of afflictions which has attended my preaching of the gospel.
So Lightf., Kl., De W., Lum., Hack., and the patristic interpreters. But Mey., Ellic., Dw., Lips., Weiss, Ead., Alf., Beet, refer to the τούτῳ of vs. 18. It seems unlikely, however, that Paul should have said ‘I know that the fact that in every way Christ is preached will turn out to my salvation.’ Kl. justly remarks that, on this supposition, Paul would have been more likely to express his expectation of a favorable result which would offset the fears or wishes of those who looked for an evil result, than of a result which would redound to his own advantage.
ἀποβήσεται εἰς: ‘Shall turn out to’; ‘effectively go to.’ The formula�Luke 21:13). In LXX, Job 13:16 (cited here), 15:31; Exodus 2:4.
σωτηρίαν: Not his release from prison, since the result will be the same whether he lives or dies (vs. 20). Nor ‘will be salutary for me’ (Mey.), since Paul habitually uses σωτηρία in its Messianic connection. Nor does it mean ‘salvation from eternal destruction’ (Weiss, Kl.). The key to the meaning is found in vs. 28, 2:12; Romans 1:16; and especially 2 Thessalonians 2:13. It is used here in its widest N.T. sense; not merely of future salvation, but of the whole saving and sanctifying work of Christ in the believer.
διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν δεήσεως καὶ ἐπιχορηγίας τοῦ πνεύματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ: ‘through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.’ Δέησις ὑμῶν and ἐπιχορηγία τ. πν. ἸΧ are thus two distinct instruments of�
διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν δεήσεως: Paul makes mention of the Philippians in his own supplications (vs. 4). Here he assumes that their fellowship with him in furtherance of the gospel (vs. 5), and their partaking with him of grace (vs. 7), will call out their supplications for him. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1f.; 2 Corinthians 1:11; Romans 15:30-32; Philemon 1:22. Also Ign. Philad. v.�
ἐπιχορηγίας: Only here and Ephesians 4:16. Lightf.’s explanation of ἐπι, bountiful supply, is unwarranted. The force of ἐπι is directive. Comp. ἐπιχορηγῶν (Galatians 3:5), where the idea of bountifulness resides in the verb. (See Colossians 2:19; 2 Corinthians 9:10.) In 2 Peter 1:11, πλουσίως is added to ἐπιχορηγηθήσεται.
τοῦ πνεύματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ: The genitive is subjective, ‘the supply which the Spirit of Jesus Christ affords’; not appositional, ‘the supply which is the Spirit,’ etc. Lightf.’s combination of the two—the Spirit at once the giver and the gift—is contrary to N.T. usage. The exact phrase, πν. ἸΧ, occurs only here. Πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ is found Romans 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6), not as proceeding from Christ (Thdrt.), since the impartation of the Holy Spirit is habitually ascribed by Paul to the Father. (See 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 1:17; Galatians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:8.) In John 3:34 Christ is represented as dispensing the Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus Christ here is the Spirit of God which animated Jesus in his human life, and which, in the risen Christ, is the life-principle of believers (1 Corinthians 15:45; comp. Romans 8:9-11). Christ is fully endowed with the Spirit (Mark 1:10; John 1:32); he sends the Spirit from the Father to the disciples, and he is the burden of the Spirit’s testimony (John 15:26, John 15:16:7, John 15:9, John 15:10, John 15:15). The Paraclete is given in answer to Christ’s prayer (John 14:16). Christ identifies his own coming and presence with that of the Spirit (John 14:17, John 14:18). Paul identifies him personally with the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17). The Spirit which Christ has is possessed also by members of his body (Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6). In Romans 8:9, Romans 8:10, Paul uses πνεῦμα θεοῦ, πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ, and Χριστὸς as convertible terms.
20. κατὰ τὴν�
ἀποκαραδοκίαν: Only here and Romans 8:19. A picturesque word:�
Others, however, give�Romans 8:19. See also Crem. and Thay. Lexs.).
ἐλπίδα: The inward attitude, while�Galatians 5:5; Colossians 1:5; Hebrews 6:18; Titus 2:13.) This can hardly be the meaning here.
ὅτι: ‘that’; not ‘because.’ It denotes the object of the hope, supplying the specific definition of the more general εἰς σωτηρίαν (vs. 19).
ἐν οὐδενὶ, ‘in nothing’: in no point or respect. Not ‘by no one,’ since no persons are brought forward in what follows.
αἰσχυνθήσομαι: ‘shall I be put to shame.’ Rare in N.T., and only twice in Paul. Frequent in LXX, as Psa_35(34):4, 26; 70(69):2. (Comp. 2 Corinthians 10:8.) He will not be brought into disgrace by the frustration of his efforts and the disappointment of his hopes. He will not be shown to be a deluded enthusiast, a fanatic, a preacher of a fancied and impossible good. On the contrary,—
μεγαλυνθήσεται Χριστὸς ἐν τῷ σώματί μου:
Μεγαλυνθήσεται=‘shall be glorified’; lit. ‘enlarged.’ Often in LXX for הִגְדִּיל. (See 2 Samuel 7:26; 1 Chronicles 17:24; Psa_34(33):3, 35:27.)
ἐν τῷ σώματί μου: Instead of the simple ἐμοί; because the question of bodily life or death was imminent. In his afflicted, imprisoned body Christ will be magnified. (Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:10; Galatians 6:17.)
The force of this positive and general statement, ‘Christ shall be magnified in my body,’ is heightened by three incidental clauses, which are to the following effect: 1. Christ will be magnified, though Paul shall refuse to modify his preaching and shall continue to proclaim the gospel with all boldness. 2. Christ’s being magnified in spite of opposition will be nothing new. It has always been so. 3. The result will be the same whether Paul shall live or die.
ἐν πάσῃ παρρησίᾳ: in contrast with αἰσχυνθήσομαι, as 1 John 2:28; LXX, Proverbs 13:5. The primary meaning of παρρησία is ‘free and bold speaking’; speaking out every word (πᾶν, ῥῆμα). The verb παρρησιάζεσθαι always in N.T. in connection with speaking. The dominant idea of παρρησία is boldness, confidence. (See 2 Corinthians 3:12, 2 Corinthians 3:7:4; Ephesians 6:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; Philemon 1:8; and Lightf. on Colossians 2:15.) It is opposed to fear (John 7:13), and to ambiguity or reserve (John 11:14). The idea of publicity sometimes attaches to it, but as secondary (John 7:4). Πάσῃ, the direct opposite of οὐδενὶ; every way in which boldness can manifest itself. (Comp. Ephesians 6:18.) Christ will be magnified in his bold and uncompromising preaching of the unpalatable truth.
ὡς πάντοτε καὶ νῦν: ‘As always, so now.’ Καὶ in the apodosis answers to ὡς in the protasis. (See Matthew 6:10; John 6:57; Galatians 1:9; 1 John 2:18; Win. liii. 5.) It is the testimony of history that Christ has always been magnified in spite of opposition. As Paul’s imprisonment has, up to this time, ministered to the progress of the gospel (vs. 12), he is no less confident of the same result now that his fate is hanging in the balance.
εἴτε διὰ ζωῆς εἴτε διὰ θανάτου: “Inimicis suis insultat, quod ei nocere non valeant. Si enim eum occiderint, martyrio coronabitur. Si servaverint ad Christum annunciandum, plurimum facient fructum” (Jer.).
The last words lead him to speak of his own feelings respecting the possible issue of his trial.
21. ἐμοὶ γὰρ τὸ ζῇν Χριστὸς: ‘For to me to live is Christ.’ For Paul life is summed up in Christ. Christ is its inspiration, its aim, its end. To trust, love, obey, preach, follow, suffer,—all things are with and in Christ. So Theoph. καινήν τινα ζωὴν ζῶ, καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς μοί ἐστι τὰ πάντα, καὶ πνοὴ, καὶ ζωὴ, καὶ φῶς: “A kind of new life I live, and Christ is all things to me, both breath and life and light.” See further on ἐν αὐτῷ (ch. 3:9), and comp. 3:7-10, 20, 21; Romans 6:11; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Colossians 3:3. Also Ign. Eph. iii., ἸΧ τὸ�Romans 8:12; 2 Corinthians 1:8), it denotes the process, not the principle, of life.
τὸ�Romans 8:17.) This is in striking contrast with the Stoic apathy which, in proud resignation, leaves all to fate. (See a beautiful passage in Pfleiderer, Paulinismus, 2 Aufl. p. 219.)
22. εἰ δὲ τὸ ζῇν ἐν σαρκί, τοῦτό μοι καρπὸς ἔργου, … καὶ τί αἱρήσομαι οὐ γνωρίζω:
B reads αιρησωμαι.
Render: ‘But if living in the flesh—(if) this is fruit of toil to me, then what I shall choose I do not declare.’
The protasis is thus εἰ δὲ τὸ ζῇν … ἔργου. The apodosis is καὶ τί αἱρήσομαι, etc. The subject of the protasis, τὸ ζῇν ἐν σαρκί, is resumed by τοῦτο, which brings out the contrast of καρπὸς ἔργου with the subjective personal κέρδος (vs. 21). The apodosis is introduced by καὶ ‘then.’ (So Chrys., (Ec., Mey., Ellic., Dw., De W., Alf., Lum., Kl., Lips., Ead.) Several other arrangements have been advocated, the principal one of which is to take εἰ δὲ τὸ ζῇν ἐν σαρκί as protasis, and τοῦτο … ἔργου as apodosis, making καὶ merely connective: ‘But if living in the flesh (be my lot), this is fruit of toil to me, and what I shall choose I do not declare.’ (So Weiss and Beet.) Lightf. suggests an arrangement in which he has been anticipated by Rilliet,—to take εἰ as implying an interrogation (as Romans 9:22; Acts 23:9), and to regard the apodosis as suppressed: ‘But what if my living in the flesh is to bear fruit? In fact what to choose I know not.’ The rendering adopted seems to me to satisfy most of the conditions, though neither of those proposed is entirely free from objection. On the one hand, the awkward ellipsis required by the second appears quite inadmissible. On the other hand, the καὶ introducing the apodosis after a conditional protasis with εἰ is of doubtful authority, though I think that James 4:15, with the reading ζήσομεν καὶ ποιήσομεν, is a fair case in point, not to mention 2 Corinthians 2:2, which is perhaps a little more doubtful. Some weight also should be allowed to the LXX passages, Exodus 33:22; Leviticus 14:34, Leviticus 14:23:10, Leviticus 14:25:2; Joshua 3:8, Joshua 8:24. Though not strictly analogous, these imply a sort of condition in the protasis. The exact construction is certainly found in Gk. poetry (see Hom. Il. v. 897; Od. xiv. 112). Δὲ is also used in the same way (Hom. Il. i. 135, xii. 246; Od. xii. 54). In Revelation 3:20, καί in the apodosis after ἐάν is retained by Tisch. and stands in marg. in WH. (See Blass, § 77, 6.) The use of εἰ as explained by Lightf., though legitimate, leaves some awkwardness attaching to καὶ. (See Win. lxiv. 7.)
Εἰ is not conditional or problematical (Beet), but syllogistic. (Comp. Romans 5:17.) It assumes that fruitfulness will follow his continuance in life. Τοῦτο is not redundant, but resumptive and emphatic, calling attention to remaining in life. It was just this, in contrast with dying, which was to mean fruit of toil.
καρπὸς ἔργου: fruit which follows toil and issues from it.
τί αἱρήσομαι. Τί for πότερον. (Comp. Matthew 9:5, Matthew 9:21:31; Luke 7:42, Luke 7:22:27; and see Win. xxv. 1.) The future αἱρήσομαι takes the place of the deliberative subjunctive (Win. xli. 4 b).
οὐ γνωρίζω: ‘I do not declare.’ Most modern commentators render ‘I do not perceive’ or ‘know.’ The meaning ‘to make known,’ ‘point out,’ ‘declare,’ is extremely rare in class. One case occurs (Æsch. Prom. 487). In the sense of ‘to become known’ (passive) it is found in Plato and Aristotle (see Stallbaum on Phaedrus, 262 B); but the prevailing sense is ‘to become acquainted with,’ ‘to gain knowledge of.’ In the N.T. the sense, without exception, is ‘to make known’ or ‘declare.’ This is also the prevailing sense in LXX, though there are a few instances of the other meaning, as Job 34:25. See, on the other hand, 1 Samuel 6:2, 1 Samuel 6:10:8, 1 Samuel 6:14:12; Daniel 2:6, Daniel 2:10, Daniel 2:5:7; Psa_16 (15):11; cit. Acts 2:28. For Paul’s usage, see 4:6; 1 Corinthians 12:3, 1 Corinthians 12:15:1; Galatians 1:11. No sufficient reason can be urged for departing from universal N.T. usage. Paul says ‘to die is gain; but if the case is put to me that it is for your interest that I should continue to live, then I have nothing to say about my personal choice.’ Possibly he felt that under the strong pressure of his desire to depart, he might be tempted to express himself too strongly in favor of his own wish. As it is, he will leave the matter in the hands of his Master. “Marvellous!” says Chrys. “How great was his philosophy! How hath he both cast out the desire of the present life, and yet thrown no reproach upon it.”
23. συνέχομαι δε ἐκ τῶν δύο:
The TR γαρ for δε is very slenderly supported.
Δὲ introduces an explanation, and at the same time separates it from that which is to be explained. (See John 3:19, John 3:6:39; 1 Corinthians 1:12.) It may be rendered ‘now.’ I do not declare my preference. Now the reason is that I am in a strait, etc. Συνέχομαι is used by Paul only here and 2 Corinthians 5:14. (See Luke 12:50; Acts 18:5; LXX; Job 3:24, Job 7:11, Job 10:1, Job 31:23.) The figure is that of one who is in a narrow road between two walls. I am held together, so that I cannot move to the one or the other side. (Comp. Ign. Rom. vi.) The pressure comes from (ἐκ) both sides, from ‘the two’ (τῶν δύο) considerations just mentioned, departing and abiding in the flesh.
τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν ἔχων: ‘having the desire.’ Τὴν has the force of a possessive pronoun, ‘my’ desire. Ἐπιθυμία is used in N.T. in both a good and a bad sense. (Comp. Luke 22:15 and Mark 4:19; Romans 1:24, Romans 1:7:7; Galatians 5:16; 1 John 2:16.)
εἰς τὸ�2 Timothy 4:6). If he employs the verb here with any consciousness of its figurative meaning, the figure is probably that of breaking camp. Paul’s circumstances would more naturally suggest the military than the nautical metaphor; and, singularly enough, nautical expressions and metaphors are very rare in his writings. The idea of striking the tent and breaking camp falls in with 2 Corinthians 5:1. For the construction with εἰς, comp. Romans 1:11, Romans 1:3:26, Romans 1:12:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; Hebrews 11:3.
σὺν Χριστῷ εἶναι: Beng. says: “To depart was sometimes desired by the saints (of the O.T.), but to be with Christ is peculiar to the New Testament.” Paul assumes that, on departing this life, he will immediately be with the Lord. (Comp. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Acts 7:59.) On the other hand, Paul elsewhere treats death as a sleep from which believers will awake at the appearing of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:51, 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
The passage does not lend itself to controversies on the condition of the dead in Christ. It is not probable that the dogmatic consciousness enters at all into this utterance of the apostle. Discussions like those of Weiss and Klöpper as to the agreement or disagreement of the words here with those of Cor. and Thess. are beside the mark, as is the assumption that Paul’s views on this subject had undergone a change which is indicated in this passage. Lightf. is quite safe in the remark that the one mode of representation must be qualified by the other. Weiss (Bibl. Theol. § 101) justly says that “if the more particular dealing with eschatological proceedings is reserved in the four principal epistles, to a yet greater extent is this the case in the epistles of the captivity, without its being possible to show any essential change in the position on these points.” In this familiar epistle, in this passage, written under strong emotion, Paul throws out, almost incidentally, the thought that death implies, for him, immediate presence with Christ. If it be asserted that death introduces believers into a condition of preparation for perfect glorification, that supposition is not excluded by either these words or those in Cor. and Thess. In 2 Corinthians 5:8 the intimation is the same as in this passage. In any case we are warranted in the belief that the essential element of future bliss, whether in an intermediate or in a fully glorified state, will be the presence of Christ. These words do not exclude the idea of an intermediate state, nor do the words in 1 Cor. exclude the idea of being with Christ.
πολλῷ γὰρ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον: ‘for it is very far better.’
DFgr G read ποσω for πολλω.
γαρ with אa ABC 17, 31, 47, 67, WH. Tisch. Omitted by א* DFGKLP, Vulg., Goth., Syr.utr, Basm., Arm., Æth.
Notice the heaping up of comparatives according to Paul’s habit. (Comp. Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 7:13, 2 Corinthians 7:4:17; Ephesians 3:20.) Render, ‘very far better.’
24. τὸ δε ἐπιμένειν τῇ σαρκὶ:
For επιμενειν B reads επιμειναι.
BDFGKL add εν with σαρκι. ἐπιμένειν ἐν occurs only in Paul (1 Corinthians 16:8).
Observe the change of construction from τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν ἔχων. Render, ‘to abide by the flesh.’ Not precisely the same as τὸ ζῇν ἐν σαρκί (vs. 22), which was a little more abstract, expressing life in general, while this refers specifically to his own staying by the flesh. (Comp. Romans 6:1.)
ἀναγκαιότερον: The comparative is slightly illogical. The strong emotion which shaped the comparative πολλῷ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον carries on that form, by its own momentum, to the succeeding adjective. The point of comparison is not definitely conceived. Living is the more necessary under the present circumstances. (Comp. Seneca, Ep. 98: “Vitae suae adjici nihil desiderat sua causa, sed eorum quibus utilis est.” Also a striking passage Ep. 104). Two practical errors are suggested by these words,— the subsiding of all interest in the future world, and the undue longing for it which strikes at patient submission to the will of God. There is also to be noted the higher grade of self-abnegation exhibited by Paul, not in the casting aside of earthly pleasures and honors, which really possessed little attraction for him, but in the subjugation of the higher longing to enjoy the perfect vision of Christ.
25. καὶ τοῦτο πεποιθὼς οἶδα: ‘And being confident of this I know.’ Construe τοῦτο with πεποιθὼς, not with οἶδα, as Lightf., who takes πεπ. adverbially with οἶδα, ‘I confidently know,’ citing Romans 14:14; Ephesians 5:5. But these are hardly in point. (Comp. vs. 6.) Οἶδα is not prophetic. It merely expresses personal conviction.
μενῶ καὶ παραμενῶ:
TR συμπαραμενω with DEKLP and some Fathers.
For similar word-plays, see Romans 1:20, Romans 1:5:19; 2 Corinthians 4:8, 2 Corinthians 4:5:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:11; Acts 8:30. Μενῶ is absolute, ‘to abide in life’: παραμενῶ is relative, ‘to abide with some one.’ Παραμενῶ in a manner defines the simple verb. The value of his remaining in life lies chiefly in his being with his brethren and promoting their spiritual welfare. Paul uses μένειν in the sense of continuing to live, only here and 1 Corinthians 15:6.
εἰς τὴν ὑμῶν προκοπὴν καὶ χαρὰν τῆς πίστεως: ‘for your progress and joy in the faith.’ For προκοπὴν, see on vs. 12. The genitives τῆς πίστεως and ὑμῶν to be taken with both nouns. (Comp. 1:20, and see Win. xix.) For the phrase ‘joy of faith,’ comp. χαρὰ ἐν τῷ πιστεύειν (Romans 15:13). Progressiveness and joyfulness alike characterise faith.
Kl. and Weiss take πίστεως with χαρὰν only.
26. ἵνα τὸ καύχημα ὑμῶν περισσεύῃ: ‘that your glorying may abound.’ Ἵνα marks the ultimate aim of μενῶ καὶ παραμενῶ, and the clause defines more specifically the general statement εἰς τὴν ὑμ. προκ., etc. Καύχημα is the matter or ground of glorying, not the act of glorying, which would be καύχησις, as Romans 3:27; 2 Corinthians 1:12. (Comp. Romans 4:2; 1 Corinthians 9:15; Galatians 6:4.)
Ὑμῶν is subjective: Not ‘my ground of glorying in you,’ but ‘your ground of glorying.’
ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ: With περισσεύῃ, not with καύχημα. (Comp. 1:9; Romans 3:7; Colossians 2:7.) Christ is the element or sphere in which the abounding develops. Christ is always needed to control, no less than to promote, overflow. The abundant glorying does not take place in the sphere of human ambition, like that of the Jew in his law and his nationality,—the ‘boasting according to the flesh’ (2 Corinthians 11:18); ‘in men’ (1 Corinthians 3:21); ‘in appearance’ (2 Corinthians 5:12).
ἐν ἐμοὶ: The immediate occasion of the glorying would be Paul. The ground of boasting would attach specially to him as the representative of the cause which was the great matter of glorying. Ἐν ἐμοὶ is a special cause or ground within the sphere designated by ἐν ΧἸ.
διὰ τῆς ἐμῆς παρουσίας πάλιν πρὸς ὑμᾶς: Connect with ἐν ἐμοὶ as a special instance. The ground of glorying is first, and comprehensively, in Christ; then in Paul as representing Christ; then in Paul’s personal presence again with them. Παρουσίας, in its ordinary sense, as 2:12; 1 Corinthians 16:17, etc. There is a slight emphasis on the word as contrasted with letters or messages. How far Paul’s confidence in his liberation and future personal intercourse with the Philippians was justified, it is impossible to determine without more knowledge concerning the latter portion of his career.
He now proceeds to give his readers some practical exhortations. Until he can personally minister to their faith, he must content himself with writing to them. Their standard of Christian consistency and efficiency must not be regulated by his personal presence or absence.
27-30. Only, under any circumstances,—whether I shall come to you, as I hope to do, or remain absent, as I may be compelled to do,—I exhort you to bear yourselves as becomes members of a Christian community, in your steadfastness, unity, and active exertion on behalf of the gospel, and in your courage in the face of your adversaries; which will demonstrate the hopelessness of their efforts and their doom to destruction, and will be God’s own evidence to you of your own salvation. For the privilege conferred upon you of suffering for Christ will show that you are one with him, and partakers of that same grace which has enabled me to contend for his cause, and of that same conflict which you saw me undergo, and which you now hear of my still waging in my Roman prison.
27. μόνον�1 Corinthians 7:39; Galatians 2:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:7. Not as though he would say: ‘Look to your own conduct and God will take care of me’; nor as though he intended to state the only condition on which he would come to them; but, ‘whether I come or not, I have only to say,’ etc. Only on this condition can he successfully minister to their furtherance and joy of faith if he shall come to them, and only thus can these be maintained if he shall not come.
πολιτεύεσθε: Lit. ‘be citizens’; ‘exercise your citizenship.’ The verb occurs in N.T. only here and Acts 23:1. In LXX, see 2 Macc. 6:1, 11:25. For the kindred noun πολίτευμα see ch. 3:20. Paul’s usual word for Christian conduct is περιπατεῖν, ‘to walk’ (Romans 6:4, Romans 6:8:4; 1 Corinthians 3:3), with�Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10. The primary reference is to their membership in the church at Philippi; and the word is selected as pointing to their mutual duties as members of a local Christian commonwealth; probably not without an underlying thought of the universal Christian commonwealth embracing all the saints in earth and heaven. (Comp. 3:20, and Clem. Rom. ad Cor. iii., xxi., liv.) Clement develops the idea of individual obligation to a spiritual polity by comparison with the obligations due to secular states, in lv. See also Polyc. ad Phil. v. The word would naturally suggest itself to Paul, contemplating from the metropolitan centre the grandeur of the Roman state, and would appeal to the Philippians as citizens of a Roman ‘colonia’ which aimed to reproduce, on a smaller scale, the features of the parent commonwealth. (See Introd. II.) Here, as elsewhere in Paul’s letters, may be detected the influence of Stoicism upon his mode of thought. Stoic philosophy had leavened the moral vocabulary of the civilised world. Its language was fruitful in moral terms and images and furnished appropriate forms of expression for certain great Christian ideas. A favorite Stoic conception was that of a world-wide state. (See Lightf.’s essay on “St. Paul and Seneca,” Comm. p. 270 ff.)
ἀξίως τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τοῦ Χριστοῦ: ‘in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.’ Τοῦ Χτοῦ is the objective genitive,—the gospel which proclaims Christ. This is Paul’s more usual formula. (See 1 Corinthians 9:12; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Galatians 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 3:2.) We find also εὐαγγ. τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ (Romans 1:9); τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ (2 Thessalonians 1:8); τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ (2 Corinthians 4:4).
ἵνα εἴτε ἐλθὼν καὶ ἰδὼν ὑμᾶς εἴτε�
The construction is rhetorically inexact. Ἵνα goes with�Colossians 4:8; comp. τὰ κατʼ ἐμὲ (ch. 1:12): ‘the things concerning you’; ‘your state’ (R.V.). Render the whole: ‘That whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of your state.’
ὅτι στήκετε, etc.: Explaining the details of their ‘state.’ Στήκειν mostly in Paul, and always signifying firm standing, acquiring that meaning, however, from the context. In Mark 3:31, Mark 11:25, it means simply ‘to stand.’
ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι: ‘in one spirit.’ (Comp. Ephesians 4:4, and see Clem. ad Cor. xlvi.) Πνεῦμα here is not the Holy Spirit (as Weiss), but that disposition which is communicated in Christ to believers, filling their souls, and generating their holy qualities and works. In the possession of this they are πνευματικοί, —they are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with him (1 Corinthians 6:17. See 2 Corinthians 12:18; Luke 1:17; John 6:63; Acts 6:10). The character, manifestations, or results of this disposition are often defined by qualifying genitives; as, the spirit of meekness, faith, power, wisdom. (See Romans 8:2, Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 4:21; 2 Corinthians 4:13; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 1:17; 2 Timothy 1:7.) At the same time it is to be carefully observed that these combinations are not mere periphrases for a faculty or disposition of man. The energy of the Holy Spirit is always assumed as behind and animating the disposition in its various manifestations. (See W. St. on Romans 8:4.)
μιᾷ ψυχῇ: ‘with one mind.’ (Comp. ch. 2:2, 20.) Ψυχὴ is the mind as the seat of sensation and desire. It is that part of the individual, personal life which receives its impressions on the one hand from the πνεῦμα, the higher divine life-principle, and on the other hand from the outer world. There are cases where the meanings of ψυχὴ and πνεῦμα approach very nearly, if indeed they are not practically synonymous. (See Luke 1:46, Luke 1:47; John 11:33, comp. 12:27; Matthew 11:29; 1 Corinthians 16:18.) But there must, nevertheless, be recognised a general distinction between two sides of the one immaterial nature which stands in contrast with the body. Πνεῦμα expresses the conception of that nature more generally, being used both of the earthly and of the non-earthly spirit; while ψυχὴ designates it on the side of the creature. Πνεῦμα, and not ψυχὴ, is the point of contact with the regenerating forces of the Holy Spirit,—the point from which the whole personality is moved Godward. Ψυχὴ must not be restricted to the principle of animal life; nor must it be distinguished from πνεῦμα as being alone subject to the dominion of sin, since πνεῦμα also is described as being subject to such dominion. See 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:23; 1 Corinthians 7:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, which imply that the πνεῦμα needs sanctification. Ψυχὴ is never, like πνεῦμα, used of God. (See W. St. on Romans 11:3.) Here μιᾷ ψυχῇ is not to be construed with στήκετε, but only with συναθλοῦντες.
συναθλοῦντες τῇ πίστει τοῦ εὐαγγελίου: ‘striving together for the faith of the gospel.’ Συναθ. only here and 4:3. The simple verb�2 Timothy 2:5, where it signifies ‘to contend in the games’; but in class. it is used also of contending in battle (Hdt. vii. 212; Hom. Il. vii. 453, xv. 30); of conflicts of cities (Plat. Tim. xix. c). The compounded σὺν does not mean with Paul (so Mey.), but in fellowship with each other. Mey. appeals to vs. 30, but there the apostle’s conflict is introduced as a new point. Others refer to 4:3, but there μοί is written. Lightf., after Erasm., renders ‘in concert with the faith,’ faith being personified. He cites 1 Corinthians 13:6; 2 Timothy 1:8; 3 John 1:8. The first is fairly in point, but the two others are too much in dispute to be decisive.
τῇ πίστει: Dat. of interest. The trustful and assured acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Saviour from sin and the bestower of eternal life, is the clear sense of πίστις in the majority of N.T. passages. At the same time, there is an evident tendency of the subjective conception to become objective. The subjective principle of the new life is sometimes regarded objectively as a power. It is the sender or proclaimer of a message (Galatians 3:2; Romans 10:16. See Sieffert on Galatians 3:2, and Bornemann on 1 Thessalonians 2:13). It is something to be contended for (Jude 1:3). It is a precious gift to be obtained (2 Peter 1:1). It is something to be held fast (1 Timothy 1:19). Hence, though not equivalent to doctrina fidei (so Lightf. here and on Galatians 3:23, and Sanday on Romans 1:5), its meaning may go beyond that of the subjective energy to that of the faith as a rule of life (so Galatians 3:23; 1 Timothy 1:19, 1 Timothy 1:4:1; and here). Thus Kl. explains πίστις here as “the new regimen of those who are Christ’s; the objectively new, obligatory way of life.” The phrase πίστις τοῦ εὐαγγελίου occurs nowhere else in N.T. According to the common analogy of genitives with πίστις, εὐαγγελίου would be the objective genitive, ‘faith in the gospel’; but according to the meaning of πίστις given above, it will be rather ‘the faith which belongs to the gospel,’ the rule of life which distinctively characterises it.
28. πτυρόμενοι: ‘startled,’ ‘affrighted.’ Used of a frightened horse.
ἐν μηδενὶ: As 2 Corinthians 6:3, 2 Corinthians 6:7:9; James 1:4.
τῶν�Luke 13:17, Luke 13:21:15; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:4.) Of all kinds, Jewish and Pagan. Paul’s sufferings at Philippi had been caused by Gentiles.
ἥτις: ‘seeing it is.’ ‘It,’ i.e. your unterrified attitude. The relative, with an explanatory force (as Ephesians 3:13; Colossians 3:5; Hebrews 10:35), takes its gender from the predicate ἔνδειξις (Win. xxiv. 3), but agrees logically with μὴ πτυρόμενοι, etc.
αὐτοῖς: whether they recognise the token or not.
ἔνδειξις: ‘an evidence,’ ‘a proof.’ R.V., ‘evident token.’ The word is not common in N.T. (See Romans 3:25, Romans 3:26; 2 Corinthians 8:24.)
Comp. ἔνδειγμα: 2 Thessalonians 1:5. The verb ἐνδείκνυσθαι almost entirely confined to Paul. Lit., ‘a pointing out.’ Used in Attic law of a writ of indictment.
ἀπωλείας: ‘destruction’ or ‘waste’ in general (as Mark 14:4; Acts 8:20); but specially and principally as here, the destruction which consists in the loss of eternal life. The meaning is determined by the contrary σωτηρίας. The undaunted bearing of the Philippians in the face of opposition and persecution will be a token of destruction to their adversaries. It will show that their persecutors are powerless to thwart God’s work; that their resistance is working out their own spiritual ruin; that they are fighting against God, which can mean only destruction.
ὑμῶν δε σωτηρίας: ‘but of your salvation.’
υμων, as א ABC2 P 17, 31, 47, Arm., Syr.P.
υμιν in DKL Vulg., Cop., Basm., Goth., Æth.
Future and eternal salvation as contrasted with�
29. ὅτι: ‘because,’ justifies the preceding statement, but with special reference to σωτηρία. The evidence that your courage is a divine token of salvation lies in the fact that God has graciously bestowed on you, along with faith in Christ, the privilege of suffering with him. For faith implies oneness with Christ, and therefore fellowship with his sufferings (Romans 8:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:12; Philippians 3:10). That you suffer with Christ proves your union with him, and your union with Christ insures your salvation.
Ὑμῖν has an emphatic position corresponding with that of ὑμῶν in vs. 28.
ἐχαρίσθη: ‘it hath been granted’; freely bestowed as a gracious gift. The word is significant as opening the conception of suffering from the Christian point of view. God rewards and indorses believers with the gift of suffering. In Paul’s bonds the Philippians are partakers with him of grace (vs. 7. Comp. Acts 5:41). The aorist points to the original bestowment of the gift. (See Matthew 5:11; Mark 10:38, Mark 10:39.)
τὸ ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ: ‘on behalf of Christ.’ Τὸ belongs to πάσχειν, but the connection is broken by οὐ μόνον … πιστεύειν, after which τὸ is repeated. With the whole passage, comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10.
30. ἔχοντες: ‘you having,’ or ‘so that you have.’ Characterising ὅτι ὑμῖν ἐχαρ … πάσχειν by the concrete case of their share in his own conflict. The participle agrees with ὑμεῖς, the logical subject of the entire clause. (Comp. similar construction in Ephesians 3:17, Ephesians 3:4:2; 2 Corinthians 1:7; Colossians 2:2.) Not with στήκετε (vs. 27), making ἥτις … πάσχειν a parenthesis, which would be clumsy.
ἀγῶνα: ‘conflict.’ (Comp. συναθλοῦντες [vs. 27] and Colossians 2:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Timothy 6:12; Hebrews 12:1.) The word applied originally to a contest in the arena, but used also of any struggle, outward or inward. For the latter see Colossians 2:1, and comp. Colossians 4:12. The reference here is to his experience in his first visit to Philippi, and to his latest experience in Rome. Their conflict is the same (τὸν αὐτὸν). They too have suffered persecutions, and for the same reason, and from the same adversaries.
εἴδετε: ‘ye saw,’ when I was with you at Philippi (Acts 16:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:2). They saw him scourged and imprisoned.
BISHOPS AND DEACONS (Philippians 1:1)
It is evident that these words are related to the large and complicated question of primitive church polity. Do they denote official titles, or do they merely designate functions? What is their relation to the πρεσβύτεροι of the Acts and Pastoral Epistles? Were the offices of bishop and presbyter originally the same, and the names synonymous; or, was there an original distinction? Were the ἐπίσκοποι the direct successors of the apostles, distinct from the πρεσβύτεροι and higher; or, was the episcopate a development from the presbyterate, formed by gradual elevation, and, finally, appropriating to itself the title which was originally common to both, so that the New Testament knows only two orders —presbyters and deacons? What light is thrown on the question by the use of the terms here?
To deal adequately with these questions, and with the voluminous discussion which they have called out, is manifestly impossible within the limits of an excursus, and the result of the most elaborate discussion cannot be decisive, owing to the imperfection of the sources at our disposal.
The theory of the original identity of bishops and presbyters has been a subject of controversy from a very early date. It was opposed to the Roman theory that bishops were the only successors of the apostles, and had from the beginning the divine commission to rule the church. This latter theory was issued as a dogma by the Council of Trent, and the opposite view was declared heretical. The Roman dogma was rejected by the Calvinists and Lutherans. About the middle of the seventeenth century the battle over this question raged between the Anglican church on the one hand, and the English Puritans and the French Reformers on the other. Dissatisfaction with the Roman view developed as the discussion gradually shifted from a dogmatic to a historical basis. The present century has been prolific in attempts to solve the problem. Passing by those of Baur, Kist, Rothe, and Ritschl, the three most significant discussions from 1868 to 1883 were those of Lightfoot in his essay on “The Christian Ministry” in his Commentary on Philippians; Hatch, in the Bampton Lectures for 1880 (The Organisation of the Early Christian Church), and Harnack’s translation and development of Hatch’s work (E. Hatch: Die Gesellschaftsverfassung der christlichen Kirchen im Alterthum, übers. von A. Harnack, 1883). Harnack’s views were further expounded in his Lehre der zwölf Apostel, 1884; his Review of Loening’s Gemeindeverfassung in Th. Lz., 1889, No. 17; in Gebhardt and Harnack’s Texte und Untersuchungen, Bd. ii. Heft 1, 5, and in his Dogmengeschichte.
Among the most important of the later discussions are: Lechler, Das apostolische und das nachapostolische Zeitalter, 3 Aufl., 1885; Kühl, Die Gemeindeverfassung in der Pastoralbriefen, 1885; E. Loening, Die Gemeindeverfassung des Urchristenthums, 1889; F. Loofs, Die urchristliche Gemeindeverfassung, Stud. u. Krit., 1890, Heft 4; Weizsäcker, Das apostolische Zeitalter der christlichen Kirche, 2 Aufl., 1892; Rud. Sohm, Kirchenrecht, Bd. 1., 1892; Jean Réville, Les Origines de l’ Épiscopat, 1894. Harnack is reviewed by Professor Sanday in The Expositor, 3d ser. vol. v. This and the succeeding volume contain an interesting group of papers by J. Rendel Harris, J. Macpherson, C. Gore, W. Milligan, G. Salmon, G. A. Simcox, and Professor Harnack.
The Pauline epistles, omitting for the present the Pastorals, exhibit church polity in a rudimentary and fluid state in which official designations are not sharply defined, and the offices themselves have not taken permanent and definite shape. The forms of polity are simple, founded upon local conditions, and not uniform over the entire area of the church. The official designations, so far as they have arisen, are the natural and familiar expressions of particular functions. The terms often overlap or are confused, and a term in use in one part of the church does not appear in another part. An apostle, a bishop, a teacher, a deacon, are alike “servants.” An overseer will be likely to be a presbyter, chosen on account of his age and experience. The overseers may be called προϊστάμενοι, ἡγούμενοι, or κυβερνήσεις. The assistants of an overseer may be known as διάκονοι or�
In short, we find within this circle an entire lack of uniformity in the terms applied to church officials, and a marked vagueness in their use. The terms do not wholly explain themselves. Most of them are capable of a functional meaning; and in most, if not all, cases of their occurrence, they may be explained as indicating the peculiar function of an official instead of his official title. This is the case in Acts 20:28, which is so often cited as decisive of the original identity of presbyter and bishop. Ἐπίσκοπος occurs but once in these epistles (Philippians 1:1); διάκονος but once in an official sense (Philippians 1:1); προϊστάμενοι in Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12, both times functionally. In 1 Corinthians 12:28, we have, besides apostles, prophets, and teachers, δυνάμεις,�Ephesians 4:11, Ephesians 4:12, Paul says that Christ gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to the work of διακονία for the perfecting of the saints. Paul and Apollos, Timothy and the secular ruler, are alike διάκονοι (1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; Romans 13:4).
This unsettled state of the nomenclature corresponds with the fact that the primitive church was not a homogeneous body throughout Christendom. While the Jewish-Christian church assumed the connection of all local congregations with the mother-church at Jerusalem, there was no similar bond among the Gentile churches. Paul’s ideal was one body—the church, as the body of Christ, embracing all Christians of every nationality and social condition. He aspired to found a world-wide society, united neither by national tradition nor by common rites, but by a common faith and a common inspiration (1 Corinthians 10:16, 1 Corinthians 10:12:27; Romans 12:5; Ephesians 2:14-22). He speaks of “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:32), and of “the church” (1 Corinthians 12:28). He labored to hold the provincial churches together by his letters and messengers (1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Corinthians 1:1). The boldness of his ideal, and his profound faith in the truth which he proclaimed, are all the more striking when the heterogeneous character of his churches is considered. (See a fine passage in Réville, Les Origines de l’ Épiscopat, p. 115.) But the Gentile churches were united mainly through their relation to him, and all the churches were not within the sphere of his personal authority and work. Hence a collective Christendom was, as Holtzmann observes, “a genuine, ideal whole, identical with the body of the Lord, but not an actual fact” (Pastoralbriefe, p. 193). The primitive Pauline church consisted of a number of little fraternities, composed largely of the poor and of the lower orders of society, holding their meetings in the private houses of some of their members.
These communities were self-governing. The recognition of those who ministered to the congregations depended on the free choice of their members. At Corinth the household of Stephanas is commended by Paul to the church as being the earliest converts in Achaia, and as having voluntarily assumed the work of ministry to the saints (1 Corinthians 16:15, 1 Corinthians 16:16). They were not regularly appointed to office. The church is exhorted to render obedience to them, and also to every one who shall coöperate with them in their ministry. (See Pfleiderer, Paulinismus, 2 Aufl. p. 244.) Phœbe is not a deaconess, but a servant of the congregation, a patroness (προστάτις) of Paul and of others (Romans 16:1, Romans 16:2). The congregation exercises discipline and gives judgment (1 Corinthians 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 2:6, 2 Corinthians 2:7, 2 Corinthians 2:7:11, 2 Corinthians 2:12; Galatians 6:1). In 1 Corinthians 6:1, Paul recommends to the church to settle their differences by arbitration. The alternative is litigation before heathen tribunals. There is, in short, no hint of any one ecclesiastical office endowed with independent authority. “Paul,” to quote the words of Réville (p. 99), “is a sower of ideas, not a methodical administrator; a despiser of ecclesiastical forms and of ritualism; a mighty idealist filled with Christian enthusiasm, and who knew no other church government than that of Christ himself inspiring his disciples with the knowledge of what they ought to say and do.”
It is thus evident that within the circle of the generally acknowledged Pauline epistles there is no trace of formally constituted church officers, except, apparently, in the Philippian epistle where bishops and deacons are addressed. Of this presently. Certain functions, however, are distinctly recognised by Paul as of divine institution in the church; and to these, necessarily, pertained a degree of prominence and influence in the congregation.
The measure of this prominence and influence cannot be discussed here. Harnack (on Loening, Th. Lz., 1889) thinks that the pneumatic functions carried with them a “despotic” authority. (See Loening, Gemeindeverfassung, ch. ii.; Loofs, Stud. u. Krit., 1890, p. 622.)
Apostles, prophets, and teachers are declared by Paul to have been set by God in the church, and to these are added δυνάμεις, ἰάματα,�1 Corinthians 12:28; comp. Ephesians 4:11, Ephesians 4:12; and see Réville, p. 124 f.).
I do not agree with Réville that the προϊστάμενοι of 1 Thessalonians 5:12 (comp. Romans 12:8) are to be regarded as charismatically endowed.
These do not represent offices resting on the appointment of the church. Their warrant is a special divine endowment or χάρισμα. Apostles, prophets, teachers, do not signify three official grades in the church. The same man could be both a prophet and a teacher. Whatever authority they possessed depended upon the church’s conviction that their charisma was of divine origin.
In Paul’s two lists in 1 Cor. and Eph. of those who have been divinely commissioned in the church, neither ἐπίσκοποι, πρεσβύτεροι, nor διάκονοι appear. Nor do they appear anywhere in the acknowledged epistles of Paul with the exception of the greeting to the bishops and deacons in the Philippian letter. But in the Ignatian epistles (100-118 a.d.) we find a clear recognition of three orders of ministry,—bishops, presbyters, and deacons,— without which it is asserted that a church is not duly constituted (Trall. iii.). This ministry is the centre of church order. The bishop is distinguished from the presbyter as representing a higher order. He is to be regarded as the Lord himself (Eph. vi.); to be obeyed as Christ and as God (Trall. ii.; Mag. iii.). Nothing is to be done without his consent (Polyc. iv.). He is to be followed as Jesus followed the Father (Smyr. viii.). The presbyters are to preside after the likeness of the council of the apostles (Mag. vi.). Obedience is to be rendered to them as to the apostles of Jesus Christ (Trall. ii.). The deacons are to be respected as Jesus Christ (Trall. iii.). In short, we have in these epistles the strongly marked beginnings of the monarchical episcopacy.
See Lightf. Ignatius, vol. i. p. 389 ff.
Somewhat earlier, in the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (about 96 a.d.), we find a greater variety of names applied to church functionaries. Besides ἐπίσκοποι, πρεσβύτεροι, and διάκονοι, occur the titles ἡγούμενοι, προηγούμενοι, πρεσβύτεροι καθεσταμένοι, and ἐλλόγιμοι ἄνδρες. But it is also distinctly asserted (xlii. xliv.) that the apostles appointed bishops and deacons to succeed them because they knew through Christ that strife would arise over the name of the bishop’s office (ἐπισκοπὴ). It is to be noticed that presbyters are not mentioned.
Assuming the Philippian letter to have been written in 61 or 62 a.d., we have less than forty years to the time of Clement’s epistle, and less than sixty to the time of the Ignatian letters. A great development has taken place in those years from the rudimentary conditions of church polity which we have been considering. This change did not come at a leap. Its elements must have been long in solution in the fluid and more democratic polity of the earlier time. The important and difficult question is the process by which the earlier and crude forms of polity developed into that system which is more than foreshadowed in Clement, sharply defined in Ignatius, and an accepted fact in Irenæus, Tertullian, and Cyprian.
Here a difficulty arises as to our sources. Ἐπίσκοποι and διάκονοι appear in Phil.; ἐπίσκοποι, πρεσβύτεροι, and διάκονοι in the Pastoral Epistles; ἐπίσκοποι and πρεσβύτεροι in the Acts and 1 Pet.; πρεσβύτεροι in Jas., 1 Pet., 2 and 3 Jn., and the Apocalypse. Harnack places the Pastorals in the middle of the second century; Holtzmann, in its former half. The modern radical criticism of the Acts pushes its date forward into the second century (so Harnack) besides impugning its reliability on various grounds.
See Weizsäcker, Apost. ZA. 84ff., 167 ff., 199 ff.; J. Jüngst, Die Quellen der Apostelgeschichte, 1895; C. Clemen, Die Chronologie der paulinischen Briefe, 1893.
The point to be observed is, that if the later date of the Pastorals be accepted, they must be held to represent an advanced stage in the development toward the episcopal polity. Only let it be noted that Harnack’s date brings us within the circle of the Ignatian polity, and warrants us in expecting a far more precise use of terms in the three epistles than we actually find. There is a great distance between the episcopate of the Pastorals and that of the Ignatian epistles. (See Réville, p. 304.)
If, on the other hand, the Pastorals be accepted as late products of Paul’s hand, and the Acts as composed within the first century, we have in these, along with the Epistle to the Philippians and the Catholic epistles, traces of the transition from the looser to the better defined polity. We have evidence of the existence of πρεσβύτεροι and ἐπίσκοποι in the church contemporary with Paul, without our being compelled to admit either that the ἐπίσκοπος was a regularly ordained ecclesiastical officer, or that πρεσβύτεροι and ἐπίσκοποι are synonymous. We have simply what we have reason to expect; namely, that the three titles, ἐπίσκοποι, πρεσβύτεροι, and διάκονοι, fall within the period of unsettled polity and loose nomenclature. The fact that all these names may represent functions without designating official titles accords with this view. The process of crystallisation is going on. These different designations emerge here and there in the church as local developments, just as the terms προϊστάμενοι and ἡγούμενοι. It may be admitted that one term might, on occasion, have been loosely used for another; but the recognised and habitual identification of ἐπίσκοποι and πρεσβύτεροι is precluded by the very assumption that these functions had assumed the character of regularly constituted church offices or orders of the ministry. If such had been the case, such looseness and confusion in the use of the names of formally appointed and recognised church officers is inconceivable. I think that the indications of the nature of church polity furnished by the Pastorals are far fewer and less definite than is often assumed, and much too scanty to warrant the positive inferences based upon them as to the later date and the non-Pauline authorship of the letters. Harnack’s admission that older documents have been used in the composition of the Pastorals is an important concession, which makes against the theory of their testimony to a later stage of ecclesiastical polity.
According to our view of the case, therefore, the mention of bishops and deacons in the Philippian letter furnishes no exception to the statement that, within the circle of the acknowledged Pauline letters, there is no evidence of regularly constituted church officers representing distinct orders in the ministry. While the greeting to bishops and deacons is unique, it does not imply a polity differing substantially from that exhibited in 1 Cor. and 1 Thess. It will be observed that the greeting is first to the church, and that the letter is addressed to the whole church. The special mention of the bishops and deacons by way of appendage is explained by the fact that the letter was called out by the pecuniary contribution of the Philippian church to Paul, of the collection and sending of which these functionaries would naturally have charge. It will also be noticed that the address assumes several ἐπίσκοποι, showing that the right of administration is possessed by no single one.
At the same time, I think it must be granted with Harnack (Expositor, 3d ser. vol. v. p. 330) that while there cannot yet be any reference to an ecclesiastical authority over the church, the greeting of the Philippian letter implies a development of polity, in that the ministry has become divided into a higher and a lower ministry, and that its functionaries have obtained special designations, so that the name διάκονος has received a narrower signification, and designates a lower grade of ministry. The church at Philippi, at the time when Paul wrote this letter, had been in existence for ten years, and was the oldest Pauline church in Europe. It would not have been strange if its polity had become somewhat matured and more sharply defined, especially since it had suffered less distraction than other churches from conflicts with the Jews.
The Didache or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is most important in its bearing on this subject. This brief church manual or directory, composed, probably in Syria, about 100 a.d., is a valuable contribution to the literature of the period between the destruction of Jerusalem (a.d. 70) and the middle of the second century, the least-known period of church history. Its special value consists in marking the transition-period from the apostolic to the later church polity, in which the spiritual functions pass over from the apostles, prophets, and teachers to the local officers —the bishops and deacons. On the one side it is linked with the apostolic polity. The principal offices are still the charismatic offices. The apostle, who is to be received as the Lord (xi. 4), is a travelling missionary, and is not to remain for more than two days in a place (xi. 5). The prophet speaks by divine inspiration, and is not to be tried or proved, as if for appointment to his office (xi. 7). The prophets are the chief priests (xiii. 3). Comp. the emphasis on prophecy in 1 Corinthians 12:28, 1 Corinthians 14:1-37. Presbyters are not mentioned, though it does not follow from this that they did not exist in some of the Syro-Palestinian churches. (See Réville, p. 259.) But bishops and deacons are distinctly recognised. They are local officers. They are elected to office (xv. 1), and on occasion they are to perform the ministry of the prophets and teachers (xv. 1); that is to say, the distinctively spiritual functions of the prophets may be discharged by them when the prophet is not present (xiii.).
The testimony of the Didache, therefore, does not bear out the original prominence which is claimed for the bishop. He is a secondary officer. He falls into the background behind the apostles, prophets, and teachers. The testimony, further, goes to show that spiritual functions did not originally attach to the offices of bishop and deacon. The evidence prior to the Didache that bishops or presbyters exercised such functions is very slight. The principal point insisted on is the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 4:14 [see especially Loening, p. 75 ff.]) and the allusions to the gift of teaching or preaching as a qualification of presbyters or bishops (1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 3:5:17; Titus 1:9). As to ordination, it will be observed that the charisma described as imparted to Timothy is given through the medium of prophecy (διὰ προφητείας). As to teaching or preaching, 1 Timothy 5:17 shows that even if this function was occasionally exercised by presbyters or bishops, it did not pertain to the office as such. “The elders who rule well” are to be accounted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in word and teaching, which clearly implies that there were elders who did not labor in word and teaching.
In the Didache the spiritual functions belong, as in 1 Cor., to the prophets and teachers. The prophet is to discharge them when he is present. The prophet alone is allowed the free use of extemporary prayer (x. 7). In other respects the teacher is on the same footing with him. In the absence of the prophet or teacher, his ministry may be assumed by the bishops and deacons (xiii. xv. 1.). In other words, the evidence of the Didache is to the effect that, as the special supernatural endowments subside, as the visits of the prophets become less frequent, the ministrations of worship devolve more and more upon the subordinate and local officers.
This view is carried out by Harnack in his discussion of the Apostolical Ordinances or Canons (Tt. u. Unt. ii. 5). One portion of this formed a considerable part of the Didache. Two more parts, dating from forty to eighty years later than the Didache, mention the church officers in the following order: bishop, presbyter, reader, deacon. The bishop is the shepherd of the flock. The presbyters, two in number, form the council of the bishop, oversee church discipline, and take part with the bishop in the celebration of the Eucharist. The deacon has charge of the church charities, and keeps an eye upon disorderly members. The reader discharges the duties of an evangelist. He is a preacher or expounder, succeeding the evangelist, who belonged originally to the class of charismatically endowed teachers (comp. Ephesians 4:11); thus showing how formally appointed officials gradually succeeded to the functions of those who were supernaturally endowed by the Spirit.
The office of the ἐπίσκοπος thus acquired a different character when it assumed the teaching function. This does not yet appear in Clement. The function is described as λειτουργεῖν and προσφέρειν τὰ δῶρα (xliv.), yet the position is different from that of the Pauline period. With the passing away of the apostles, the authority of the bishop has increased. Its recognition no longer depends so exclusively on the approval of the members. Clement proclaims the apostolic origin and authority of the office, and at least suggests its life-long tenure (xliv.), a theory, as Harnack justly says, which has the appearance of being devised to meet an emergency; while some remnant of the earlier democratic sentiment is apparent in the ejection of the church authorities which was the occasion of Clement’s letter.
The bishop’s office, therefore, was originally not spiritual but administrative. He had a local function in a particular community. The question as to the precise nature and range of this function cannot be answered decisively; but some modern critics have, I think, narrowed it too much. Hatch, following in the track of Renan, Foucart, Lüders, Heinrici, and Weingarten, derives the term ἐπίσκοπος from the financial officers in the heathen municipalities or in the confraternities or guilds which were so common in the Roman Empire (see note on τῇ κατʼ οἶκον σου ἐκκλησίᾳ [Philemon 1:2]), and regards the original ἐπίσκοπος as simply a financial officer.
Sanday justly remarks that the evidence, on this theory, is rather better for ἐπιμελητής than for ἐπίσκοπος (Expositor, 3d ser. v. p. 98). See also on this point, Reéville, Les Origines de l’ Épiscopat, p. 153 f. The subject of the relations of the Christian official nomenclature to that of the heathen guilds is ably discussed by Loening, Gemeindeverfassung, pp. 12, 20, 64. See also Sohm, Kirchenrecht, p. 87, and Salmon, Expositor, 3d ser. 6. p. 18 ff.
In favor of this view it is also urged that the earliest authorities concur in demanding that bishops should be free from covetousness. Thus the Didache requires that bishops and deacons shall be�1 Timothy 3:3, a bishop must be�Titus 1:7 is to the same effect, the bishop being described as θεοῦ οἰκονόμος. It is assumed, in short, that such expressions were determined by the special temptations which attached to the financial function of the bishop.
It seems to me quite possible to lay undue stress upon these indications. Without denying that the episcopal function included, and was possibly largely concerned with the financial interests of the church, it could not have been confined to these. It must have extended to the social relations of the community, to inspection of the performance of social duties, to guardianship of those rules and traditions which were the charter of the infant organisation, and to representation of the community in its relations with other Christian churches or with the outside world. It can hardly be supposed that, in associations distinctively moral and religious, one who bore the title of overseer should have been concerned only with the material side of church life. (See Réville, p. 306 ff.).
Sohm, whose Kirchenrecht is among the very latest and strongest contributions to this discussion, holds that, though the original character of the bishop’s office was administrative, the teaching function attached itself naturally to his duty of receiving and administering the offerings of the congregation presented at the celebration of the Eucharist. He claims that the episcopal office grew, primarily, out of this celebration, and that the bishop’s distribution of the offerings to the poor involved a cure of souls and the consequent necessity of teaching. See also Réville, pp. 178, 309.
But though it cannot be shown that the Christian title ἐπίσκοπος was formally imitated from the Pagan official, we are not thereby compelled to deny entirely the influence of the Pagan nomenclature in determining it. No doubt its adoption came about, in both cases, in the same natural way; that is to say, just as senatus, and γερουσία, and πρεσβύτερος passed into official designations through the natural association of authority with age, so ἐπίσκοπος would be almost inevitably the designation of an overseer. The term was not furnished by the gospel tradition; it did not come from the Jewish synagogue, and it does not appear in Paul’s lists of those whom God has set in the church. The process of natural selection, however, would be helped by the familiar employment of the title in the clubs or guilds to designate functions analogous to those of the ecclesiastical administrator. (See the interesting remarks of Réville, p. 160 f.) The title can hardly, I think, be traced to the Old Testament. The usage there is predominantly functional. There are but two passages in the LXX where ἐπίσκοπος has any connection with religious worship (Numbers 4:16; Num_2 K. 11:18). It is applied to God (Job 20:29), as it is applied to Christ in the New Testament (1 Peter 2:25). It is used of officers in the army, and of overseers of workmen. The prevailing meaning of ἐπισκοπὴ is “visitation,” for punishment, inquisition, or numbering. In any case, little light can be thrown on the question by the derivation of the word, until we clearly understand the functions of the Christian officials.
Into the complicated question of the origin of the presbyterate it is not necessary to enter. It may be remarked that modern critical opinion has largely abandoned the view maintained by Rothe, Baur, Lightfoot, Hatch, and others, that the original Christian church polity was an imitation of that of the synagogue. This is largely due to the investigations of Schürer into the Jewish church constitution.
See Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi, 2 Aufl. Bd. ii., 1866, Eng. trans., 2d divis. vol. ii. p. 56 ff.; Die Gemeindeverfassung der juden in Rom in der Kaiserzeit, 1879.
The secular and religious authorities of the Jewish communities, at least in purely Jewish localities, are shown by Schürer to have been the same (comp. Hatch, Lect. iii.),—a fact which is against the probability that the polity was directly transferred to the body of Christian believers. The prerogatives of the Jewish elders have nothing corresponding with them in extent in the Christian community. Functions which emerge later in the Jewish-Christian communities of Palestine do not exist in the first Palestinian-Christian society. At the most, as Weizsäcker observes, it could only be a question of borrowing a current name. The use of συναγωγὴ for a Christian assembly occurs but once in the New Testament, and that by James, whose strong Jewish affinities are familiar. The regular designation of the Christian assembly was ἐκκλησία. The Christian society regarded itself as the inaugurator, not of a new worship, not of an ecclesiastical organisation, but of a new society representing the beginnings of the kingdom of God on earth, the institutions of which would soon be definitely and permanently established by the return of the Son of Man in his glory. Such a society would not be satisfied with forming a separate synagogue merely, nor would the mere reading and exposition of the law and the prophets interpret their fresh Christian sentiment.
See Holtzmann, Pastoralbriefe, p. 217.
However they originated, in the Acts and the Pastoral Epistles presbyters appear as a factor of church government, forming a collective body in the congregation. Whatever may have been their original functions, in these documents the office of teaching pertains to both them and the bishops. (See 1 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 3:5:17; Titus 1:9.) It is at this point that the tendency to confound and identify the two distinct offices reveals itself. It would be strange if the two were synonymous, and that two names should be given to the same functions. Yet Hatch (Lect. ii. p. 39, note) declares that this identity is so well established that it has been practically removed from the list of disputed questions. Such certainly is not the testimony of later critical discussion in which this question bears a prominent part. The reasons which make against the identity, moreover, are not trifling. Acts 20:17, Acts 20:28, which is so often urged as conclusive, proves absolutely nothing, or rather favors the opposite conclusion. Either it may be said that the word ἐπισκόπους is not titular, but expresses function, describing the body of presbyters generally as “overseers” of the flock of God; or that the ἐπίσκοποι regarded as officers are represented as belonging to the class of presbyters and appointed from their number, which does not imply the identification of the official titles.
Bishops and deacons are habitually associated, while no mention of presbyters occurs along with them. It is a begging of the question to affirm that presbyters are not mentioned because they are identical with bishops. It cannot be proved for instance that there were not presbyters at Philippi when Paul wrote to that church; and the probability is that if they had held a rank identical with that of the bishops or equal with it, notice of them would not have been omitted.
Turning to the Pastoral Epistles, in 1 Timothy 3:1-13, we find the qualifications of bishops and deacons described, with no mention of presbyters. These are referred to in 1 Timothy 5:17-19, but in an entirely different connection,—as worthy of a double maintenance, and not to be accused except on the testimony of two or three witnesses. In the Epistle of Clement (xlii.) the apostles are declared to have appointed bishops and deacons, not presbyters. Passing on to a later date (140?), the Shepherd of Hermas distinguishes bishops and deacons from presbyters (3 Vis. v. 1; Sim. ix. 27, 2. Comp. 2 Vis. iv. 2 f; 3 Vis. i. 8, ix. 7; Mand. xi. 12).
The testimony of Clement’s letter to the Corinthians is of special importance. It was written on behalf of the Roman church, rebuking the church at Corinth for ejecting its rulers from office. (See Lightf. Clem. i. p. 82.) The passages in point are in chs. i., iii., xxi., xlii., xliv., xlvii., liv., lvii.
At first sight it appears as if Clement uses ἐπίσκοπος and πρεσβύτερος as synonymous terms (see especially xliv., liv., lvii.); but in chs. i., xxi. the ἡγούμενοι and προηγούμενοι, by whom the bishops are meant, are placed side by side with πρεσβύτεροι as distinct, πρεσβύτεροι in both cases being contrasted with the young. In short, a more careful examination of the epistle goes to show that if the bishops are apparently designated as presbyters, it is because they have been chosen from the body of presbyters, and have retained that name even when they have ceased to hold office. For this reason the deceased bishops are called presbyters (xliv.). As the presbyters are not designated by Clement among those appointed by the apostles as their successors, it appears that “presbyter” signifies, not an office, but a class or estate. The presbyters are church members of long standing, who have approved themselves by their good works and pure character. The leaders
of the church are to be sought among these; but “the aged” as such are not described as office-bearers regularly appointed, but merely as a body of persons distinguished by ripe wisdom and approved character. Thus the exhortation “Submit yourselves to the presbyters” (lvii.) tallies with the same expression in 1 Peter 5:5, where the younger are bidden to be subject unto the elder. “The office-bearers belong to the πρεσβύτεροι, but the πρεσβύτεροι as such are not office-bearers. The bishops are reckoned as πρεσβύτεροι, not because the presbyter as such is a bishop, but because the bishop as such is a presbyter” (Sohm). The “appointed presbyters” (πρεσβύτεροι καθεσταμένοι [liv.]) are not the πρεσβύτεροι collectively, but a smaller circle within the πρεσβύτεροι. It is the bishops who are appointed (xlii., xliv.), and who count with the “aged” from whose ranks they proceed. They are summoned to a specific official activity as ἐπίσκοποι.
A linguistic usage of the second century which appears in Irenæus goes to confirm this view,—the use of πρεσβύτερος to denote the authorities for the tradition, the survivors of the preceding generation (Iren. Haer. ii. 22, 5, iv. 27, 1, 2, 30, 14, 32, 1, v. 5, 1, 33, 3, 36, 1). (See Weizs., Ap. ZA. p. 618.) The bishops would therefore be called πρεσβύτεροι (Haer. iii. 2, 1, 3, 1), in so far as they successively vouched for the tradition, and thus reached back into the preceding age.
The qualifications which distinguish a presbyter are indicated at the close of Clement’s epistle in the description of the three commissioners from the Roman church who are the bearers of the letter. They are “old, members of the Roman church from youth, distinguished by their blameless life, believing, and sober” (lxiii.). No official title is given them.
To the same effect is the testimony of the Pastoral Epistles. 1Ti_3. treats of the officers of the church, but only of bishops and deacons, concluding with the statement that this is the direction concerning the ordering of the church as the house of God (vs. 14, 15). The offices are exhausted in the description of bishops and deacons. Nothing is said of presbyters until ch. 5., where Timothy’s relations to individual members of the church are prescribed (5:1); and in Titus 2:2 ff. these church members are classified as old men (πρεσβύτας), old women, younger men, and servants. Similarly, in 1 Peter 5:1, the apostle describes himself as a “fellow-elder” (συνπρεσβύτερος); and the church is divided into elders who feed the flock of God, and the younger (νεώτεροι) who are to be subject to the elders. In 1 Timothy 5:17 mention is made of “elders who rule well” (οἱ καλῶς προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι). Assuming that elders had an official position identical with that of bishops, a distinction between two classes of bishops would be implied,—those who rule well and those who do not. Whereas the distinction is obviously between old and honored church members collectively considered, forming the presbyterial body, and certain of their number who are worthy to be appointed as overseers. All of the presbyters do not fulfil equally well the duty of ruling. All are not alike worthy to be chosen as overseers. Only those are to be accounted worthy of double honor who have approved themselves as presbyters to be worthy of the position of ἐπίσκοποι. The following statement in vs. 19 refers to the rights of the presbyters generally. The presbyters as such are not invested with office. There is no formal act which constitutes an elder or a well-ruling elder. The bishops are reckoned among the elders, but the elders as such are not officers.
Thus are explained the allusions to “appointed” elders. Titus (Titus 1:5) is enjoined to appoint elders in the Cretan churches, men who shall be blameless, husbands of one wife, having believing children who are free from scandal. Then follows, “For the bishop (τὸν ἐπίσκοπον) must be blameless,” etc. The qualifications of the elders are thus fixed by those of the bishop; and the injunction is to appoint elders to the position of overseers, for the overseers must have the qualifications of approved presbyters. Similarly the ordination of presbyters, in Acts 14:23, is to be understood as setting apart elders to the position of superintendents.
The ecclesiastical eldership is, therefore, not identical with the episcopate, though in the unsettled state of ecclesiastical nomenclature, the names might, on occasion, be interchanged, and though, in the later stage of ecclesiastical development, the assumption of the teaching function by both classes, through the gradual subsidence of charismatic endowments, tends to confuse them. The presbyterate denotes an honorable and influential estate in the church on the ground of age, duration of church membership, and approved character. Only bishops are “appointed.” There is no appointment to the presbyterate.
The special office of deacon occurs in the Pastorals, and nowhere else in the writings attributed to Paul; for the deacons in Philippians 1:1 do not stand for an ecclesiastical office, although, as has been already observed, they mark an advance towards it. They appear as regular church officers in Clement and in the Didache, and Clement asserts their apostolic appointment. The testimony does not bear out the older view of the origin of the diaconate in the appointment of the seven (Acts 6:1-6). The terms διάκονος and διακονία are common expressions of service, either to Christ or to others. Paul habitually uses them in this way, applying them to his own ministry and to that of his associates. Διακονία is applied to the service of the apostles (Acts 1:25, Acts 6:4), and διάκονοι is used of the ministers of Satan in 2 Corinthians 11:15. The appointment of the seven grew out of a special emergency, and was made for a particular service; and the resemblances are not close between the duties and qualifications of deacons as detailed in 1 Tim. and those of the seven. The word διάκονος does not occur at all in the Acts; and when Paul and Barnabas brought the contribution for the poor saints to Jerusalem, they handed it over to the elders.
Our evidence on this question is, at best, incomplete. Loening does not put the case too strongly when he describes the sources from which alone our knowledge can be drawn as lückenhaft. Such as the evidence is, however, it seems to be fatal alike to the Roman and to the Presbyterian theory of an apostolic norm of church polity. There can be no doubt that discussions of this subject have too often been unduly influenced by ecclesiastical preconceptions, and conclusions reached in which the wish was father to the thought. To be able successfully to vindicate for any system of ecclesiastical polity an apostolic origin and sanction is to put into the hands of its representatives a tremendous lever. Investigation of this subject, if it is to lead to the truth, must be conducted on purely historical grounds apart from all dogmatic or ecclesiastical prepossessions. In the conduct of such investigations we shall do well to heed the caution conveyed in the words of Réville. “The prolonged and minute analysis of the smallest texts, in which one thinks to find an echo of the first Christian ecclesiastical organisation, tends to a forcing of the meaning and to an exaggeration of the value of each trace that we discover; because we cannot be satisfied without reconstructing a complete organism, in which all the parts are logically related and mutually adjusted like the wheels of a perfect machine. Not only is the mechanism not complete, but, properly speaking, there is yet no regular mechanism. The organisation of these humble communities which were still unnoticed by the great world, or noticed only to be despised, was not the result of sage legislative labor. … The functions, the dignities, the spiritual magistracies of primitive Christianity emerge little by little by organic growth” (Les Origines de l’Episcopat, p. 330).
The forms of church polity were gradual evolutions from primitive, simple, crude modes of organisation shaped by existing conditions. Official titles were naturally suggested by official functions. The church was not one body, but only an aggregate of local communities; and the features of organisation and government in any single community and the official titles which their administrators bore were not the same in other communities. Nothing is clearer than the absence of any uniform system of ecclesiastical nomenclature in the church of the Pauline period. We see at first a loose, democratic organisation, in which leadership depends upon spiritual endowment and its recognition by the spiritual community. The early enthusiasm gradually passes away. The apostle, prophet, and teacher recede, formal election takes the place of general recognition of the gifts of prophecy or tongues; the spiritual functions pass from the charismatic leaders to the administrative functionaries; gradually the official polity crystallises as the church grows stronger and its intercourse with the outside world and among its several branches extends. The tendency observable in the history of all organisations towards the concentration of authority in fewer hands develops; and by the time the first half of the second century is reached, the episcopal polity has defined itself in the Ignatian letters, and the tide is setting towards the monarchical episcopacy.
Note on πραιτωρίῳ (1:13)
It is impossible to determine with certainty the place of Paul’s confinement in Rome. The explanations of πραιτώριον (prætorium) are the following:
The prætorian camp at the Porta Viminalis (Kl., Lips., Mey., Weiss, Hack.).
The whole prætorian camp whether within or without the city (Ellic.).
The prætorian barracks attached to the Neronian palace (Alf., Con. H., Weizs. [Ap. Zeit.], O. Holtzmann [Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte], Merivale [Hist.Rom. under the Emp.]).
The prætorian guard (Lightf., Lewin, De W., Beet, Mangold [Bleek’s Einl.]).
I do not think that Lightf.’s note (Comm. p. 99) has ever been successfully answered or his conclusion shaken. He has shown that there is no sufficient authority for applying the term ‘prætorium’ to the imperial residence on the Palatine; and his view on this point is confirmed by Mommsen (Römisches Staatsrecht, 3 Aufl. ii. p. 807). After stating that the word was used to denote the headquarters of the emperor, Mommsen goes on to argue against Hirschfeld’s assertion that the imperial palace itself was regarded as a camp. “Against this,” he says, “are both tradition and theory. When the emperor was absent from Rome he was ‘in praetorio,’ and so Juvenal (iv. 34) rightly calls Domitian’s Albanum a camp. But the palace in the city is never called so; for such a designation would be against the existence of the Augustan principate, and Augustus’ tendency to conceal military domination.”
Livy, xxvi. 15, xxx. 5; Tac. Hist.i.20, ii. 11, iv. 46; Suet. Nero, 9; Pliny, N. H. xxv. 2, 6, with the testimony furnished by inscriptions, are decisive for the use of ‘prætorium’ to denote the prætorian guard.
So Marquardt (Römische Staatsverwaltung, ii. pp. 460, 464), and Mommsen (Röm. Staatsr. ii. 865, 3 Aufl.), who says of the prætorian troops: “Their collective designation was praetorium, as appears in the expressions praefectus in praetorio, mittere ex praetorio, decedere in praetorio. The name of the emperor was not usually added, though Vespasian speaks of the soldiers who have served in praetorio meo (Corp. 1. Lat. p. 583).”
Professor Ramsay (St. Paul, the Traveller and the Roman Citizen, p. 357) says that ‘prætorium’ means “the whole body of persons connected with the sitting in judgment—the supreme imperial court; doubtless in this case the prefect or both prefects of the prætorian guard, representing the emperor in his capacity as the fountain of justice, together with the assessors and high officers of the court.” For this explanation he cites the authority of Mommsen, but without giving any references. I must confess that this definition of ‘prætorium’ is new to me, and I am unable to reconcile it with Mommsen’s statements. Mommsen says (Röm. Staatsr. 2. p. 959) that the first emperors, for the most part, personally conducted the imperial court. On p. 972 he says: “From the penal sentences of the provincial governors, the appeal, about the middle of the third century, lay to the prætorian prefects; and, as accused persons from the provinces, sent to Rome for judgment, were, in the earlier period, committed to the prætorian prefects as guards (here he cites the case of St. Paul), so, in the third century, the judgment of such persons passed over to them.”
The unquestionable fact that ‘prætorium’ was used to denote the prætorian guard makes it unnecessary to assume that the apostle in this passage refers to any place, and furnishes a simple explanation and one entirely consistent with the narrative in Act_28. Paul was permitted to reside in his private lodging under the custody of a prætorian soldier. As the soldiers would naturally relieve each other in this duty, it would not be very long before Paul could say, as he does here, that the entire body of the prætorians had become aware that the imprisonment was for Christ’s sake. This explanation, moreover, agrees with καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς πᾶσιν, which, on the other interpretations, is exceedingly awkward.
LXX Septuagint Version.
B Cod. Vaticanus: 4th century. Vatican Library. Contains both epistles entire. Correctors: B2, nearly the same date; B3, 10th or 11th century.
D Cod. Claromontanus: 6th century. Græco-Latin. National Library, Paris. Contains both epistles entire. Corrector: Db, close of 6th century.
K Cod. Mosquensis: 9th century. Moscow. Contains both epistles entire.
Weiss Der Philipperbrief ausgesetzt und die Geschichte seiner Auslegung kritisch dargestellt. 1859. A most thorough piece of work. It leaves no point untouched, and treats every point with ample learning, conscientious pains taking, independence, and positiveness. It is valuable in studying the history of the exegesis.
אԠCod. Sinaiticus: 4th century. Discovered by Tischendorf in the convent of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai, in 1859. Now at St. Petersburg. Contains both epistles complete. Correctors: אa, nearly contemporary; אb, 6th century; אc, beginning of 7th century, treated by two correctors,—אca אcb.
A Cod. Alexandrinus: 5th century. British Museum. Contains both epistles entire.
L Cod. Angelicus: 9th century. Angelican Library of Augustinian monks at Rome. Wanting from ἐξουσίαν (Hebrews 13:10) to the end of Philemon.
P Cod. Porphyrianus: beginning of 9th century. Palimpsest. St. Petersburg. Both epistles entire, but many words illegible.
Syr. Peshitto and Harclean versions.
Cop. Coptic, Memphitic, or Bohairic.
F Cod. Augiensis: 9th century. Græco-Latin. Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. Philippians entire; Philemon wanting in the Greek from πεποιθὼς (vs. 21) to the end.
Cod. Boernerianus: 9th century. Græco-Latin. Dresden. Wanting Greek and Latin, Philemon 1:21-25.
An asterisk added to the title of a MS., as D*, signifies a correction made by the original scribe.
A.V. Authorized Version.
WH. Westcott and Hort: The New Testament in the Original Greek.
37 Library of Town Council of Leicester: 15th century. Both epistles entire. See Miller’s Scrivener, vol. i. 202.
Tisch. Tischendorf: Novum Testamentum Graece. Editio Octava Critica Major.
Win. Winer: Grammar of N. T. Greek. 8th ed. of Eng. Transl. by Moulton. Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Sprachidioms, 8 Aufl., von P. W. Schmiedel. 1 Theil, 1894.
De W. De Wette.
R.V. Revised Version of 1881.
Thay. Thayer: Greek-English Lexicon of the N. T.
TR Textus Receptus.
Sap. Wisdom of Solomon.
W. St. Vincent: Word Studies in the N. T.
= Equivalent to.
Crem. Cremer: Biblico-Theological Lexicon of N. T. Greek.
C Cod. Ephraem: 5th century. Palimpsest. National Library, Paris. Very defective. Wanting from τοῦτο οὖν (Ephesians 4:17) to καὶ τί αἱρήσομαι (Philippians 1:22), and from μειν (Βενιαμειν) (Philippians 3:5) to the end. Correctors: C2, 6th century; C3, 9th century.
17 National Library, Paris: 9th or 10th century. Both epistles entire.
31 British Museum: 11th century. Both epistles entire.
47 Bodleian Library: 11th century. Both epistles entire.
67 Vienna: 11th century. Both epistles entire.
Clem. Rom. Clement of Rome.
Th. Lz. Theologische Literaturzeitung.
Stud. u. Krit. Studien und Kritiken.
Weiss Der Philipperbrief ausgesetzt und die Geschichte seiner Auslegung kritisch dargestellt. 1859. A most thorough piece of work. It leaves no point untouched, and treats every point with ample learning, conscientious pains taking, independence, and positiveness. It is valuable in studying the history of the exegesis.
Con. H. Conybeare and Howson.
De W. De Wette.
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Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Philippians 1". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany