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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NTInternational Critical

- Philippians

by S.R. Driver, A.A. Plummer and C.A. Briggs






Baldwin Professor of Sacred Literature in Union Theological Seminary, New York



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The two epistles treated in this volume have always had a peculiar attraction for both readers and expositors. On the Epistle to the Philippians more than a hundred commentaries have been produced, some of them by scholars of the first rank. It would be strange, therefore, if this work did not contain a great deal which has appeared elsewhere; and I am sure that the call for its publication has not arisen from the deficiencies of my predecessors.

I find, nevertheless, some satisfaction in the thought that the knowledge of any subject is promoted, in however small a degree, by the independent and honest treatment of each new expositor, who, by approaching his work from a different direction, seeing his material at a different angle and in the light of the most recent criticism, and shifting the points of emphasis, may reawaken attention to what is already familiar, and thus stimulate inquiry if he does not widen the sphere of knowledge.

The main object in this commentary has been to exhibit St. Paul’s thought in these two letters which I am fully convinced are from his pen. To this end all comment—grammatical and lexical as well as exegetical—has been directed, and special care has been given, to the paraphrases with which the several sections are prefaced, and to the illustration of the apostle’s nervous and picturesque diction upon which the marks of his personality are so deeply set. The theological bearings of certain passages it is manifestly impossible to overlook; and the student is entitled to demand of the commentator such notice and treatment of these as are consistent with the recognised difference between a commentary and a theological treatise. To such passages I trust that I have brought no dogmatic bias to prevent or to modify the application of strict exegetical principles.

I am conscious of the difficulties which attach, at certain points, to all attempts to place the Philippian letter in its complete and truthful historical setting. These difficulties are inevitable in the present fragmentary and limited state of our knowledge concerning some conditions of the Roman and Philippian churches which are presupposed in the epistle, so that whatever conclusions may be reached by the most conscientious study will awaken question and criticism.

I have had constantly in view the fact that these two letters are familiar and informal productions, and have allowed that fact due weight in the exegesis. Epistolary colloquialisms present serious difficulties to an interpreter who refuses to recognise them, and who insists upon the rigid application of rhetorical, logical, and dogmatic canons to the unstudied and discursive effusions of the writer’s heart.

In seeking to avoid the selva selvaggia of technical discussion which impairs the value of some most important works of this class, I have not felt bound to go to the opposite extreme of dogmatic conciseness. A brief discussion has sometimes seemed necessary; but, as a rule, I have given my own interpretation with the reasons for it at the beginning of each note, appending a simple statement of different views with the names of those who hold them.

I avail myself of this opportunity to acknowledge gratefully my obligations to previous workers in this field, and not least to some of those from whom I have often had occasion to differ.


Union Theological Seminary, New York.






In the earliest times, Macedonia was included in that vast region called Thrace, which had no definite boundaries, but was regarded as comprising all that part of Europe lying to the north of Greece.

The original seats of the Macedonians were bounded on the west by the chain of Scardus, the northerly continuation of Pindus; on the south by the Cambunian Mountains which formed the northwestern boundary of Thessaly; on the east by Mt. Bermius. The northern boundary cannot be determined. The original Macedonia, therefore, did not reach the sea.

The country included within these boundaries is mountainous; but between the lateral ridges connecting with the main line of Scardus were three wide alluvial basins, two of which were possessed by the original Macedonians. The territory was fertile, affording abundant pasture and cornland. The inhabitants of the mountains and of the plains acknowledged a common ethnical name, though distinguished from each other by local titles. Their language differed from those of the Illyrians, Thracians, and Greeks. The different sections, at first distinct and independent, were finally absorbed into one under the name of Macedonia, having its centre at Ægæ or Edessa, the modern Vodhena, which, according to Phrygian legends, was the site of the gardens of Midas. Edessa was always retained as the royal burying-place, and was regarded as the religious centre of the nation.

Such was the position of the Macedonians in the seventh century b.c. It was changed by a family of exiled Greeks of the Herakleid or Temenid race of Argos (Hdt. viii. 137, 138). According to Herodotus, Perdiccas was the founder of the new Macedonian dynasty; and he gives a list of five successive kings from Perdiccas to Alexander, the son of Amyntas (b.c. 520-500). During the reigns of Amyntas and Alexander, Macedonia became implicated with the affairs of Greece. The Temenid kings extended their dominions on all sides. Among their conquests was Pieria, between Mt. Bermius and the sea, which gave them the command of a part of the coast of the Thermaic Gulf.

Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, ascended the Macedonian throne b.c. 360. He subjugated the Pæonians and Illyrians, recovered Amphipolis, and gained possession of Pydna, Potidæa, and Krenides, into which last-named place he introduced colonists and named it, after himself, Philippi. By the battle of Chæronea (b.c. 338), he became master of all Greece. At his death Macedonia had become a compact empire. Its boundaries had been extended as far as the Propontis, and from the coast of the Propontis to the Ionian Sea, and the Ambracian, Messenian, and Saronic gulfs.

His son Alexander succeeded him b.c. 336. The victory over the Persians at the Granicus in Troas (b.c. 334) was followed by the submission of nearly all Asia Minor. The campaign against the Persians ended in the battles of Issus (b.c. 333) and Arbela (b.c. 331), which decided the fate of the Persian Empire and were followed by the submission of Syria and Phœnicia. Passing into Egypt, he founded Alexandria, and carried his conquests into the far East, where Babylon, Susa, Persepolis, and Pasargadæ fell into his hands. This wonderful campaign closed b.c. 327, by which time his design had become manifest to combine Macedonia, Greece, and the East into one vast empire. The execution of this plan was cut short by his death (b.c. 323). The ultimate bearing of Alexander’s conquests upon the diffusion of Christianity is familiar to every student.

After Alexander’s death the Macedonian empire fell into the hands of his principal generals, and after a series of wars extending over twenty-two years, it was broken into three great states,—Macedonia, Egypt, and Syria.

Macedonia was first brought into contact with Rome through the Carthaginian victories at Trasimene and Cannæ (b.c. 217, 216). Philip, the son of Demetrius, then king of Macedonia, sent to Hannibal proffering his alliance; and a treaty was concluded a year later. The result of this treaty was the first Macedonian war with Rome, which was terminated by the treaty of Dyrrhachium (b.c. 205). A second war followed, which ended in the annihilation of the Macedonian army at Cynocephalæ (b.c. 197). A peace was concluded which destroyed the political standing of the Macedonians, and by which all the states which had previously been subject to Philip were declared free.

Philip was succeeded by his son Perseus, whose efforts against Eumenes of Pergamus, the ally of the Romans, brought on a third war (b.c. 171). The Macedonians experienced a crushing defeat at Pydna (b.c. 168), by the Roman army under Lucius Æmilius Paullus. The whole country was divided into four districts (Livy, xlv. 29), each of which was to constitute a separate republic; but the citizens of each were forbidden to form any commercial or connubial relations with those of any of the others. Thus perished the empire of Alexander the Great, a hundred and forty-four years after his death. The isolation of Macedonia was secured, while the people were amused with a show of liberty.

Two claimants for the Macedonian throne, both professing to be sons of Perseus, successively attempted to stir the Macedonians to revolt. The Achæans broke with Rome. L. Mummius was sent to Greece b.c. 146, and burned the city of Corinth. By the commission which arrived from Rome soon after, all Greece south of Macedonia and Epirus was formed into a Roman province under the name of Achaia, and Macedonia with Epirus into another province.

Upon the succession of Augustus the provinces were divided between the emperor and the senate (b.c. 27; see Suet. Augustus, 47). The provinces which enjoyed absolute peace were assigned to the senate, while the frontier provinces, which required military force, fell to the emperor. Augustus thus strengthened his own military power, under pretence of relieving the senate of the cares and dangers of the empire.

The governors of the senatorial provinces were called proconsuls. Their term of office was one year. They had no military authority, and therefore no power of life or death over the soldiers in their provinces. The full title of governors of the imperial provinces was “Legatus Augusti pro Praetore.” They were appointed by the emperor, and their term of office depended upon his pleasure. Their long residence made them familiar with the country and the people. There were fewer temptations to peculation, and the imperial provinces were so much better governed than the senatorial, that the people of the latter sometimes petitioned to be transferred to imperial supervision; especially as the expenses of proconsular administration were paid by the provinces, and the proconsuls were able to practise sundry abuses by which the amounts were increased. Macedonia and Achaia, which originally fell to the senate, were, at their own request, made imperial provinces by Tiberius (Tac. Ann. i. 76). By Claudius they were again placed under the senate (Suet. Claud. 25).



C. Müller: Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, 1841.

A. Schäfer u. H. Nissen: Abriss der Quellenkunde der griech. u. röm. Geschichte, 1885-1889.

Fabricius: Bibliotheca Graeca.

J. G. Droysen: Die Materialien zur Geschichte Alexanders.

A. Fränkel: Die Quellen der Alexandergeschichte, 1883.

J. Kaerst: Forschungen zur Gesch. d. Alex. d. Gr., 1887.

Fragments of lost writers collected by R. Geier: Scriptores Historiarum Alex. Mag. aetate suppares, 1844; and

C. Müller: Scriptores Rerum Alex. Mag., 1846.


Polybius: covering 220-144 b.c.

Diodorus Siculus: Βιβλιοθήκη Ἱστορική, B. xi.-xx., from the second Persian war (b.c. 480) to b.c. 302.

Livy: B. xxxi.-xlv. (201-167 b.c.).

Teuffel: Gesch. d. röm. Lit., 5 Aufl., 1890.

G. Herzberg: Gesch. Griechenlands unter der Herrschaft der Römer, 1886.

W. Schoen: Gesch. Griechenlands von der Entstehung des ätolischen und achäischen Bundes bis auf die Zerstörung Korinths, 1883.


J. G. Droysen: Gesch. Alex. d. Gr., 1833; Gesch. des Hellenismus, 1836, 1843. Comes down to b.c. 220. The two works in a 2d ed. under the title Gesch. d. Hellenismus, 1877, 1878.

B. Niese: Gesch. d. griech. u. maked. Staaten seit der Schlacht bei Chaeronea. Pt. i. to b.c. 281. Good bibliography. 1893.

Thirlwall: Hist. Greece, to b.c. 146. Grote: to b.c. 301. Curtius: to b.c. 338.

G. Findlay: Hist. Greece, 1877. B. G. Niebuhr: Lectures on Anc. Hist.; trans. by Schmitz; 1852.

E. A. Freeman: Alex. G. and Greece during the Maced. Period; review of Niebuhr. Alex. G.; review of Grote. Historical Essays, 2d ser.


J. Marquardt: Römische Staatsverwaltung, 2 Aufl., 1881.

W. T. Arnold: The Roman System of Provincial Administration to the Accession of Constantine the Great, 1879.

Th. Mommsen: The Provinces of the Roman Empire; trans. by Dickson, 1886.


“Corpus” of Gk. and Rom. Insc., Berlin Akad.; supplemented by the Collection of Le Bas-Waddington, Voyage Archéologique en Gréce et en Asie Mineure, 1847.

Later and more complete Berlin Collection, 1877-1883.

A. J. Letronne: Recueil des Inscr. Grecques et Latines de l’Egypte, 1842.

Collection of Ancient Greek Inscr. in Brit. Mus., 1874.

E. L. Hicks: A Manual of Greek Historical Inscr., 1882.


J. H. Eckhel: Doctrina Numorum Veterum, 1792-1798.

Mionnet: Description de Médailles Antiques Grecques et Romaines, 1806.

B. V. Head: Historia Numorum, 1887.



The district occupied by Philippi was originally called Krenides, ‘Little Fountains’ (Strabo, 331; Appian, Bell. Civ. iv. 105), from the numerous springs which arose in the mountains on the north, and ran into the neighboring marsh.

According to Appian (Bell. Civ. iv. 105), Krenides was also known as Datos or Daton. This statement has been too hastily set down as an error, largely on the authority of Leake (N. Greece, iii. 223. See Lightf., Philip., p. 47; Rawlinson, Herodotus, on ix. 75). It appears that Daton was a Thasian town near the Strymonic Gulf, and was the centre of the continental possessions of the Thasians. According to Strabo (vii. frag. 36), Neapolis was a dependency of Daton. The name of the town passed into a proverb, as a place endowed with all good things. The probability is that the first Thasian colony of Daton originally extended up to the plain of Krenides, and included it in its territory, but had fallen into the hands of the northern barbarians. About 360 b.c. the Thasians, aided by the banished Athenian orator Callistratus, with some Athenian adventurers, founded a new colony at Krenides under the old name. The year 360, which followed the arrival of Callistratus at Thasos, is noted by Diod. Sic. (xvi. 3) as the date of the occupation of the mines of Krenides by the Thasians. It is an interesting fact that the coins struck by the Thasians on the occasion of reviving the mines of Krenides, and which bore the head of the Thasian Hercules, the tripod (the symbol of foundation) and the legend ΘΑΣΙΩΝ ΗΠΕΙΡΟ, were preserved by the city of Philippi with only a change of inscription (see Heuzey and Daumet, Mission Archéologique de Macédoine, p. 60 ff. Comp. Curtius, Hist. Greece, Trans. v. 53).

The site was between the rivers Strymon and Nestus, and answered, geographically, to the basin of the Angites (Hdt. vii. 113), which issued from the right bank of the Strymon, and formed, two leagues from the sea, the lake Kerkinitis. The basin might rather be described as a plain, now known as the plain of Drama, and framed on every side by mountains. The vast masses of Pangæus separated it from the sea; but at one point the range was depressed, affording easy access to the gulf where now the Turkish harbor of Kavala, the ancient Neapolis, opens, opposite to the island of Thasos.

Thrace contained rich deposits of gold. Golden particles from Hæmus were borne down by the waters of the Hebrus, and the Pæonian laborers, according to Strabo (vii. frag. 35), turned them up with their ploughshares. But the treasures of Pangæus and of the mountains adjoining Krenides surpassed all others in richness. Gold-mining was the principal industry of the region for a long series of years; and from the time that the treasures of the mountains were first brought to light by the Phœnicians, they played an important part in the history of the northern kingdoms. The feverish greed for gain did not promote the advance of civilisation; agricultural and commercial interests suffered, and the rapacity of foreign invaders was stimulated.

The Thasians, at the instigation of Callistratus, in the year before the accession of Philip of Macedon, penetrated into the interior to the plain of the Angites, and revived Krenides as a centre of mining operations. But the assaults of the Thracians upon the new colony soon compelled it to seek the assistance of Philip. He drove back the Thracians, annexed to Macedonia all the country as far as the Nestus, and built a fortress which became the centre of the mining district. He also gave the place his own name, Philippi. The plural form of the name seems to indicate that the new town, at the time when it fell into his hands, was composed of several distinct groups of dwellings defended by detached works for the protection of the miners, and not by a common and continuous enceinte. A fort on the hill which commanded the defile was a necessity. Under the protection of this work it was sufficient to bar the defile by a temporary wall in order to allow an important group of dwellings to be erected at the foot of the rocks. Philip improved the region, drying up the marshes and laying out roads, and Theophrastus (Causae Plantarum, v. 14) relates that by these works the climate was perceptibly modified.

The gold-mining industry yielded to Philip an annual revenue of a thousand talents,—a treasure which furnished him with the means of establishing and maintaining a navy, and which was quite as potent as his army in securing the future triumphs of Macedonia. “The gold of Krenides spread itself over Greece, preceding the phalanx like an advance-guard, and opening more gates than the battering-rams and catapults” (Heuzey).

On the mines, see Curtius, Hist. Greece, v. 52; Appian, Bell. Civ., iv. 106; Boeckh, Public Economy of Athens; Heuzey and Daumet, Mission Archéologique. See especially their interesting description of the rock formations of Philippi, and the comparison with the auriferous rocks of California (p. 55 ff.). On mining under the Romans, Marquardt, Röm. Staatsverwaltung, Bd. ii. 245, 252-258.

The Romans became masters of this region upon the defeat of the Republican forces under Brutus and Cassius by Octavianus and Antony (b.c. 42). Philippi was the scene of the final conflict. The Republicans occupied two hills facing the town to the southeast, while the triumviral army was posted in the open plain. Two battles were fought: the first indecisive, resulting in the death of Cassius; the second, twenty days later, which decided the fate of the republic.

The sojourn of Octavianus at Philippi revealed to him its importance both as a military position and as a source of revenue. After his victory, and in commemoration of it, he made Philippi a military colony, and bestowed upon it the jus Italicum. The inscription COHOR. PRAE. PHIL. found on little copper coins of Philippi goes to show that this colony was originally composed of a division of veterans belonging to the prætorian cohorts of the triumvirate. It bore the name COLONIA JULIA AUGUSTA VICTRIX PHILIPPENSIUM. The colony was not a mere town with its outskirts, but a great department, with boroughs and secondary towns, of which Philippi was the administrative centre. The Romans succeeded the Macedonians in the working of the mines, but never made them as profitable as the Macedonians had done.

Communities in the Roman provinces were either municipia (free towns) or coloniae (colonies). The colony represented transplanted citizenship, while the municipium was engrafted upon the state. A provincial town became a municipium when its inhabitants received the Roman franchise, and a constitution from a Roman governor or commissioner. At the time of the Republic, and among the Italian cities, the municipia were the more important; but in the imperial period the colonies outranked them. Extraordinary privileges were mostly, if not exclusively, confined to the colonies. The principal of these privileges was the jus Italicum, which was a grant to the community, not to individuals, and consisted in the right of proprietorship according to the Roman civil status. This right involved the acquisition of ownership by long use or prescription (usucapio); the right of transferring ownership by a fictitious suit (in jure cessio); the right of the purchase or transfer of property (mancipatio), and the right of civil action or lawsuit (vindicatio). As, according to Roman law, landed property in Italy was exempt from taxation, the jus Italicum conferred the same immunity upon provincial land. The right was never given except to a colony; but all colonies did not possess it, and when they did not, the colonists were subjected to both a poll-tax and a land-tax.

A colony was a miniature Rome. The colonists proceeded to their destination under their standards, and marked out with the plough the limits of the new city. The land was divided into sections of two hundred acres, which were subdivided into lots (sortes), and in military colonies these were apportioned according to rank. Even in the form and appearance of the city the mother-city was imitated. The coinage bore Roman inscriptions. The colonies were free from any intrusion by the governor of the province. Their affairs were regulated by their own magistrates called Duumviri, who delighted to style themselves Praetores (στρατηγοί). The officers of Philippi are referred to by Luke under this title (Acts 16:20-38).

On colonies see Marquardt, Röm. Staatsverwaltung, Bd. i. 360 ff.; Savigny, Gesch. des röm. Rechts; ‘Coloni,’ in Philological Museum, ii. 117; Walther, Gesch. des röm. Rechts; Arnold, Roman Provincial Administration. Good summaries in Conybeare and Howson’s Life and Epistles of St. Paul, ch. ix., and Lewin, Life and Eps. of St. P., ch. xi.

The name Philippi was long preserved in the village of Filibedjik or Filibat, but has now disappeared. The only inhabited place near the enceinte of Philippi is the village of Ratchka, half hidden in a ravine of the mountain a little on one side of the ancient acropolis. In the higher town, which represents the ancient Macedonian city, an enclosure of rough stones preserves traces of the Hellenic wall. The whole plain at the foot of the mountains is covered with ruins. The circular outline of the theatre on the steep slope of the acropolis facing Pangæus may still be seen. The neighboring rocks are covered with numerous pious inscriptions, and with images of the deities venerated by the colonists, together with the names of their worshippers. At the foot of these rocks are vestiges of a temple of Silvanus, one of the deities most revered by the Romans of the imperial period, as the guardian of plantations, as one of the household gods, and as the protector of the empire and of the emperor. His worship extended everywhere over the provinces. Two large statues of this deity have been discovered, one of which appears to have been the image worshipped in the sanctuary of the temple; also tablets containing lists of offerings for the construction and decoration of the temple, and of the names of the members of the sacred college. Among these names are some which are familiar to the readers of the Acts and Pauline epistles; as Crescens, Secundus, Trophimus, Pudens, etc. In the lower town is found a ruin known by the Turks as Dérékler or ‘the columns,’ consisting of a portion of a wall and four massive columns, and which cannot be identified. It is supposed to have been a public bath. Lewin (Life and Eps. etc., i. 211) says, without any authority for the statement, that this was the forum where the apostles were scourged.

See the Mission Archéologique de Macédoine by Heuzey and Daumet, one of the most interesting and important of modern contributions to the study of the history and antiquities of Macedonia. The expedition was undertaken in 1861 under the auspices of Napoleon III.



Philip and Alexander, Æmilius, Mummius, and Octavianus had thus prepared the way for Paul. According to the account in Acts 16., Paul, at Alexandria Troas, saw in a vision a Macedonian man who said to him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

Professor Ramsay (St. Paul, the Traveller and the Roman Citizen, p. 201) says that Paul did not infer the Macedonian origin of the man in the dream from his words, but recognised him as a Macedonian by sight; and since the Macedonians dressed like Greeks, it follows that the man in the vision was personally known to him. Professor R. also holds with Renan (St. Paul, ch. v.) that Luke was a Macedonian. I do not know the grounds of his statement that it has been generally recognised that Luke must have had some connection with Philippi. In our ignorance of Luke’s antecedents the possibility of his having been a Macedonian cannot be denied.

Paul, therefore, embarked at Troas with Luke, Timothy, and Silvanus (Acts 15:49, Acts 15:16:1, Acts 15:3. Comp. Acts 16:8, Acts 16:10), and landing at Neapolis, proceeded over Mt. Pangæus, about eight miles, to Philippi, by a branch of the great Via Egnatia.

See Renan’s beautiful description of the route (St. Paul, ch. vi.). Cousinéry (Voyage dans la Macédoine) and Tafel (De Via Militari Romanorum Egnatia) have endeavored unsuccessfully to identify the site of Neapolis with Eski Kavala, fifteen miles S.W. of Kavala.

With the arrival of Paul at Neapolis the gospel first entered Europe. Yet the apostle was not consciously entering a new continent. The distinction between Europe and Asia did not exist for him. Asia, in the New Testament, denotes the Roman province of that name, and the word Europe does not occur. To St. Paul these later divisions represented only sections of the one Roman world.

In Acts 16:12, Philippi is described as ἥτις ἐστὶν πρώτη τῆς μερίδος Μακεδονίας πόλις κολωνία. There is probably an error in the text. To the epithet πρώτη explained as denoting the political rank of Philippi, it is objected that Thessalonica was the general capital, and that πρώτη, though common as an honorary title of cities in Asia, was not so used in Greece or Macedonia. Again, if μερὶς be explained as denoting one of the four districts into which Macedonia was divided by Æmilius, it may be replied that that division was made more than two hundred years before Paul’s arrival, and continued for only twenty-two years to the time when the country was formed into a single province; so that the fourfold division had long been abandoned and was perhaps forgotten. Moreover, if this division had survived, the centre of this district would have been Amphipolis and not Philippi.

Even stronger are the objections against taking πρώτη to mean the first city which Paul reached in his Macedonian tour (so Erasm., Beng., Olsh., Lightf., and others). Philippi was not the first city of Macedonia at which Paul arrived. It cannot be shown that Neapolis was at this time regarded as a Thracian town (Lightf., Phil., p. 50. See contr. Hort, N. T. Notes on Select Readings, ad loc.). Μερίδος, on this interpretation, is apparently superfluous; for Philippi was, in that case, regarded not as the first city of that district, but of all Macedonia. Neither ἥτις nor ἐστὶν suit this meaning, since both are used for characterising, and ἦν would probably have been chosen to mark a mere stage of the apostle’s journey. Moreover, πρῶτος by itself never has the local sense. If there is no error in the text, πρώτη, I think, must denote rank; though, even if it were proved that Luke was a Macedonian, I should not be disposed to accept Professor Ramsay’s view that Luke exaggerated the dignity of Philippi from pride in his own city (St. Paul the Traveller, etc., p. 206). Μερὶς, which does not mean ‘province’ (ἐπαρχία), may indicate some subdivision, not recognised in the formal political arrangement, of which Philippi was the centre; and πρώτη may mark an emphasis on its colonial rank as possessing the jus Italicum (note the emphatic position of κολωνία); so that Philippi is designated as the most considerable colonial city of this part of Macedonia, πόλις κολωνία being taken together. In this designation lies the motive expressed by ἥτις ἐστὶν, ‘seeing it is,’—that the prominence of the city led Paul to choose it as the starting-point of his missionary work.

See Wendt’s Meyer on Acts xvi. 12; Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, p. 156 f.; O. Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte, p. 104; Lightf., Phil., p. 50.

The events of St. Paul’s Macedonian ministry are related in Acts 16., Acts 16:17. Imprisoned at Philippi, and then expelled by the magistrates, he went to Thessalonica, and thence to Berœa, from both which places he was driven by the fanatical opposition of the Jews. From Berœa he went to Athens.

The narrative in Acts is sketchy and full of movement, dwelling only upon salient points, and furnishing no definite information as to the length of the apostle’s stay in Philippi. Slight hints like ἡμέρας τινάς (16:12), and ἐπὶ πολλὰς ἡμέρας (16:18), and the fact that some time must have been required to form a circle of “brethren” (16:40), and to develop those strong and affectionate relations which appear in the Philippian letter, seem to indicate a longer stay than might be inferred from the surface of the narrative.

See Clemen, Die Chronologie der paulinischen Briefe, s. 192; Klöpper, Komm. Einleit., S. 3.

From the dropping of the first person plural at Acts 16:40, it has been inferred that Luke remained behind in Philippi. About five years later the apostle again visited Macedonia, and having gone thence to Corinth, was about to return to Syria by sea, when a plot against his life determined him to return to Macedonia (Acts 19:21, Acts 19:20:Acts 19:1-3; 2 Corinthians 1:15, 2 Corinthians 1:17, 2 Corinthians 1:2:13, 2 Corinthians 1:7:5). The last meeting with his Philippian converts is noted (Acts 20:6), after which he departed for Troas. This is our last notice of the Philippians until the time of the Roman imprisonment.



After the shipwreck at Malta, Paul arrived at Rome in the spring of 56 a.d., during the reign of Nero (54-68). Burrhus, the prætorian prefect, a rough but kindly disposed soldier, extended to him every liberty which the law allowed; permitting him to occupy a lodging of his own under the charge of a prætorian soldier (Acts 28:16), and allowing his friends and other visitors free access to him (Acts 28:30).

I follow the chronology of Harnack, Die Chronol. d. altchr. Lit. bis Eusebius, Bd. i. S. 233. See also O. Holtzmann, Neutest. Zeitgesch. S. 132; and Prof. A. McGiffert, Amer. Journ. Theol. Jan. 1897, p. 147. Against these see Schürer, Gesch. d. jüd. Volkes, 2 Aufl. i. S. 483 ff. (Clarks’ Trans. Divis. i. Vol. ii. p. 182), and Professor Ramsay, Expositor, May, 1896, p. 338, and April, 1897, p. 245 ff.

The church at Rome had been for some time in existence before the apostle’s arrival, although we are ignorant of the circumstances of its foundation. In Acts 28:15 its existence is assumed, and the company which meets Paul at Appii Forum has the character of a deputation. Nor is it likely that the church was insignificant either in numbers or influence, since the important letter to it, with its numerous salutations, was composed three or four years before his arrival at Rome.

His influence quickly made itself felt in the prætorian guard, and among his visitors from the city; and the brethren of the Roman church were stimulated to greater boldness and zeal in the proclamation of the gospel (Philippians 1:12-14). His presence and activity also stirred up certain hostile elements in the church itself; men who made the preaching of the gospel a means of promoting their own partisan interests, and of venting their envy and spite against the apostle. See on ch. 1:15, 16.

Paul’s long detention before his trial was nothing unusual, as is shown by Josephus’ account of some Jewish priests sent by Felix to Rome, who were not released for three years (Jos. Vita, 3). The delay may have been caused by the non-arrival of his prosecutors, and possibly by the loss in the shipwreck of the official record of the proceedings forwarded by Festus; although there was a law of Claudius which permitted the discharge of a prisoner if the prosecutors did not appear within a certain time (Di. Cass. lx. 28). The pressure of judicial business also was enormous: a long time might have been required for bringing witnesses from Syria and Proconsular Asia after the arrival of the prosecutors; and a vacation occurred during the winter months when judicial proceedings were suspended (Suet. Aug. 32; Claud. 23; Galba, 14).

See Wieseler, Chron., and Geib, Gesch. d. römischen Criminalprocess.



That the Philippian letter was written from Rome is now generally conceded. The view of Paulus (1799), Böttger (1837), Rilliet (1841), Thiersch (1879), placing its composition at Cæsarea, has been mostly abandoned, and even those who assign Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon to Cæsarea, hold that Philippians was written at Rome. The environment of the apostle as indicated by the letter itself, the different groups of persons which it includes, the number and complexity of the relations, and the different and influential party tendencies do not suit the narrow limits of a provincial city; while the prætorian guard and the saints of Cæsar’s household clearly point to Rome. Paul’s expectation of a speedy decision of his case (2:23) agrees better with Rome. In 1:25, 27, 2:24, he expresses the hope of returning to Philippi in the event of his liberation, while in Cæsarea he would still have been directing his thought to Rome.

The date of composition as related to that of the three Asiatic letters cannot be determined with certainty. The majority of critics assign the epistle to the later period of Paul’s imprisonment, and place it last of the four (Mey., Weiss, Alf., Ellic., Kl., Godet, Lips., Holtzn., Jül.).

The reasons assigned for this opinion are the following: 1. The evidence assumed to be furnished by the epistle that a long period of imprisonment has elapsed (1:12 ff.). 2. The abandonment of the apostle by his more intimate companions (2:20), and the absence of salutations from Luke and Aristarchus. 3. The time required for journeys in the communications between Rome and Philippi implied in the letter. 4. A spirit of depression assumed to be manifest in the epistle, indicating a later stage of confinement and increased severity of treatment. 5. The expectation expressed of a speedy release.

Lightfoot’s ingenious discussion (Comm. p. 30 ff.) does little more than to show the futility of these reasons. No decisive evidence of a long imprisonment is furnished by 1:12 ff. All the results detailed in 1:13-17 might easily have come to pass in a few months after the apostle’s arrival, especially since he was in constant contact with the prætorian soldiers, the residents of the city had free access to him, and the church in Rome had been founded some years before. Our ignorance of the movements of his companions forbids any positive conclusions from the allusions in the letter. The statement in 2:20, 21, is quite inexplicable (see note). The names of Luke and Aristarchus, which occur in Colossians and Philemon, are wanting in Ephesians, together with that of Timothy, and an argument from silence is in any case precarious. The tone of depression ascribed to the epistle is a pure fancy. The letter is preëminently joyful and hopeful. If the date assigned to St. Paul’s arrival in Rome is correct, the events which are assumed to have increased the rigor of the apostle’s treatment and thus to have depressed his spirits—the death of Burrhus, the accession of Tigellinus as prætorian prefect, and Nero’s marriage to Poppæa—are too late. Poppæa’s influence over Nero did not begin until 58 (Tac. Ann. xiii. 45, 46), and the marriage was not celebrated until 62 (Tac. Ann. xiv. 60). Burrhus died and was succeeded by Tigellinus in 62 (Tac. Ann. xiv. 51). The expectation of a speedy release is also expressed in the letter to Philemon.

As to the time necessary for sending a message to Philippi announcing Paul’s imprisonment, for Epaphroditus’ journey to Rome with the contribution, for the message to Philippi concerning Epaphroditus’ sickness, and for the message to Rome announcing that the Philippians had received this report,—the distance between Rome and Philippi was only seven hundred miles, and even with the imperfect means of travelling, all the four journeys could have been accomplished in four months. Lightfoot’s attempt to reduce the four journeys to two is founded on the assumption that Aristarchus left Paul at Myra and proceeded to Thessalonica, thus carrying the news of the apostle’s removal to Rome. But for this there is not a particle of evidence.

On the other hand, Lightfoot’s constructive argument for the earlier date of the letter is anything but conclusive, and is, I venture to think, illogical in method, although it has the weighty indorsement of Dr. Hort. Lightfoot urges that in style and tone this epistle more resembles the earlier letters than do the epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians; that it represents the transition from the conflict with Pharisaic Judaism to that with the new type of error which was emerging in the Asiatic churches. But granting the striking parallels between Romans and Philippians, and granting that Ephesians and Colossians exhibit an advanced stage of development in the churches both on the side of heresy and of Christian knowledge, surely it by no means follows that the order of composition corresponds with the stages of development. The special circumstances in the case of each church must be taken into the account. I cannot see the force of Farrar’s statement (Paul, ii. p. 419) that the Philippian epistle, if it had been written later than the Asiatic epistles, must have borne traces of the controversy with the incipient gnosticism of the Colossian church. Why?—“The incipient gnosticism of the Colossian church” had not reached Philippi. As Professor Ramsay observes, “It was not in Paul’s way to send to Philippi an elaborate treatise against a subtle, speculative heresy which had never affected that church.” And, in any case, it is not easy to construct, on the data furnished by these epistles, a scale of church development so accurately graded as to furnish a satisfactory basis of reasoning in a case like this. Philippians, it is true, presents some striking parallels with Romans; but parallels with Romans may be pointed out in both Ephesians and Colossians (see v. Soden, Hand-Comm. Koloss., Einl. iv.); and it would not be difficult to make out a case for a development in the Philippian church quite as advanced as that represented in Ephesians, though possibly on different lines.

Nothing in the epistle compels us to place it later than the others, and nothing prevents our placing it earlier; but it must be admitted that positive evidence for the earlier date is lacking. It may be remarked that the Philippians would follow the apostle’s movements as closely as possible. It is not impossible that the news of his departure for Rome might have reached them from Asia before his arrival, especially as the voyage was so long. In that case their gift would probably have reached him comparatively early. The tone of the letter, so far as it relates to himself, seems to indicate fresh impressions rather than those received after a long and tedious confinement.



The immediate occasion of the epistle was a contribution of money brought by Epaphroditus from the members of the Philippian church (2:25, 4:18). They had sent him similar tokens of their affection on former occasions (4:15, 16; comp. 2 Corinthians 11:9); but an opportunity of repeating their gifts had been long wanting (4:10). Whether from the hardships of the journey, or from over-exertion in forwarding Paul’s work in Rome, Epaphroditus became dangerously sick (2:27, 30). On his recovery he was troubled lest the Philippians should be anxious about him, and was eager to return in order to relieve their fears, besides suffering, no doubt, from the homesickness peculiar to an invalid in a foreign land (2:26). Paul therefore sent him back, and sent by him this letter (2:25, 28), containing not only thanks for the gift (4:10-18), but also information about his own condition, his success in preaching the gospel, and other matters of special interest to the Philippians; besides such exhortations and admonitions as the condition of the church as reported by Epaphroditus seemed to demand.



The external evidence for the authenticity and genuineness of the epistle is substantially the same as for the principal epistles. It appeared in Marcion’s Canon, and Hippolytus (Haeres. v. 143, x. 318) says that the Sethians, an Ophite sect of the second century, interpreted Philippians 2:6, Philippians 2:7, to explain their doctrines. The excerpts from the Valentinian Theodotus preserved by Clement of Alexandria contain two references to Philippians 2:7 (35, 43). The letter of Polycarp to the Philippians appeals to the epistle or epistles of Paul to the Philippian church (c. 3. See note on Philippians 3:1). A few passages which have the appearance of reminiscences of the Philippian letter occur in Clement (Ad Cor. xvi., xlvii.); Ignatius (Rom. ii.; Philad. viii.); The Epistle to Diognetus, 5, and Theophilus of Antioch (Ad Autolycum). The Muratorian Canon places it among the letters of Paul. It is included in the Syriac (Peshitto) and Old-Latin versions. At the close of the second century it is in use by Irenæus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria.

See Iren. iv. 18, 4; Clem. Alex. Paedag. i. 524; Strom. iv. 12, 19, 94; Tert. De Resur. 23; Cont. Marc. v. 20; De Praescr. 26.

It is cited in the letter from the churches of Lyons and Vienne to the brethren in Asia and Phrygia (a.d. 177, Euseb. H. E. v. 1, 2). Origen and Eusebius admit and use it as a work of Paul. From the time of Irenæus and Clement of Alexandria its authenticity and genuineness were generally recognised.

The epistle was first assailed by Baur (Paulus, 1845; Th. J., 1849, 1852), followed by several representatives of the Tübingen school,—Schwegler (Nachap. Zeital., 1846), Planck (Th. J., 1847), Köstlin (Th. J., 1850), Volkmar (Th. J., 1856, 1857), Bruno Bauer (Christus und die Cäsaren, 1877). The grounds of attack were: lack of originality and imitation of other epistles; traces of gnostic ideas; the antedating of the offices of Bishop and Deacon; and the disagreement of the statements concerning justification by faith with Paul’s statements elsewhere. The epistle was a product of the second century, intended to reconcile the two parties then struggling in the church. These parties were symbolically represented by Euodia and Syntyche (4:2). Clement of Rome was a myth, founded upon the conversion of Flavius Clemens, the kinsman of Domitian. The writer of the Clementine Homilies, in order to represent Clement as the disciple of Peter, represents him as the kinsman of Tiberius. The Pauline writer of Philippians, accepting this fiction, and anxious to conciliate the Petrine faction, represents this fictitious disciple of Peter as the fellow-laborer of Paul (4:3).

These objections are mainly imaginary. On the antedating of the episcopate see Excursus on 1:1. The identification of Clement with Flavius Clemens is absurd. The assumed imitation of other epistles amounts only to an occasional relationship in expression, the absence of which would be remarkable, and which does not imply dependence. Baur asserted that in 2:5-8 the writer had in view the gnostic Sophia, the last of the æons, which, in the attempt to grasp the knowledge of the absolute One, fell from the πλήρωμα into κένωμα or emptiness. The ambition of the æon was contrasted with the self-emptying of the eternal Christ. Volkmar explained Euodia (‘right path’) as a synonym for orthodoxy, and Syntyche (‘partner’) as designating the Gentile church. Such vagaries are their own refutation.

The assault was renewed after an interval by Hitzig (Zur Krit. paulin. Br., 1870); Kneucker (Die Anfänge d. röm. Christenthums, 1881); Hinsch (Zw. Th., 1873); Hoekstra (Th. J., 1875); Biedermann (Christl. Dogmatik, ii. 1885); and especially by Holsten, in a vigorous and searching critique (Jp. Th, 1875, 1876).

The objections of this group of critics turned mainly on alleged divergencies in style and matter from the acknowledged Pauline epistles. The principal points are the following:

1. The sharp contrast between the divine and the human form of existence (2:6-11) is unpauline. In 1 Corinthians 15:47-49, Paul conceives Christ in his preëxistence as ἄνθρωπος ἐπούρανιος, ‘a heavenly man,’—an ideal man (see Excursus on 2:6-11). According to the Epistle to the Philippians, Christ’s manhood begins with his incarnation, while his preincarnate state is described as ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων. In other words, according to 1 Corinthians, the preincarnate Christ would be only an ideal man. According to Philippians, the preincarnate Christ would belong to an order of beings higher than the heavenly humanity.

The error lies in the misinterpretation of ἐπούρανιος. It is true that Philippians 2:6 presents a notion of the preincarnate Christ superior to that of a mere heavenly man; but ἐπούρανιος in 1 Corinthians does not refer to the preincarnate Christ, but to the risen and glorified Christ. According to Corinthians, while the first man, Adam, is of earthly origin (ἐκ γῆς, χοϊκός), the second man, Christ, is of heavenly derivation (ἐξ οὐρανοῦ), and is in heaven with his glorified body in which he will appear at his second coming. Ὁ ἐπούρανιος is he who is in heaven, not as the heavenly archetype existing ideally in the mind of God, but as exalted to heaven (Ephesians 4:8; Philippians 2:9). This appears from the term ἐπουράνιοι applied to risen and glorified Christians (comp. Philippians 3:20, Philippians 3:21). The question which Paul is answering in 1 Corinthians 15:35 ff., is, “With what kind of a body do they come?” and the question is answered by showing the relation of the resurrection-body, not to that of the preincarnate Christ, but to that of the risen and glorified Christ. Hence there is no contradiction between the ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων by which Paul represents the preincarnate glory of Christ, and the ἐπούρανιος by which he represents Christ risen and glorified. In Corinthians Paul is not contemplating the mode of Christ’s preëxistence at all, but the mode of his existence as the risen and glorified Saviour, in which all true believers shall share.

2. Divergences from the Pauline theology in the conception of Jewish law and the doctrine of justification (3:4-11). Such are: the assumption that Paul is blameless as touching the righteousness that is in the law; the antithesis of δικαιοσύνη ἡ ἐκ νόμου and δικαιοσύνη ἡ ἐκ θεοῦ; the representation of justification by faith as δικαιοσύνη ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει; the connecting of objective and subjective righteousness; the putting of communion with Christ’s resurrection before communion with his death.

Some of these objections are treated in the notes on 3:4-11. The words, “as touching the righteousness which is of the law, blameless” (3:6), have their parallel in Galatians 1:14; and, in any case, are used of merely legal righteousness, and are to be read in the light of Paul’s conception of righteousness in vs. 9. The doctrine of justification by faith is not treated otherwise than in Romans, except that the appropriation of Christ by the act of faith and the union of the life with Christ are combined in one conception and are not considered separately as in Romans.

3. Indifference to the objective truth of his gospel (1:15-18). The same parties who, in Galatians 1:6, Galatians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 11:4, are said to preach another Jesus and another gospel, are declared to be preaching Christ, instead of being anathematised as in Galatians 1:8, Galatians 1:9.

But the parties are not the same (see notes on 1:15, 16). The words concerning the Judaisers in ch. 3:2 have the indignant flavor of Galatians and 2 Corinthians, and exhibit no indifference to the objective truth.

4. Paul expresses uncertainty concerning his resurrection (3:11), which is inconsistent with the assurance that he displays elsewhere (Romans 5:17, Romans 5:18, Romans 5:21, Romans 5:8:38, 39; 2 Corinthians 5:1 ff.). But the words εἴ πως are an expression of humility and self-distrust, not of doubt. He elsewhere urges the necessity of caution and watchfulness against a possible lapse from the faith (2:12; 1 Corinthians 10:12; Galatians 3:3, Galatians 5:4), and he takes the same caution to himself (see note on 3:11). He displays no uncertainty as to the objective basis of salvation, and the fellowship of suffering with Christ as the subjective condition of sharing his glory agrees with Romans 8:17.

5. Self-glorification on the part of Paul in setting himself before his readers as a type of the righteousness of the law, and afterwards of justification by faith (3:4-17). This requires no answer. Where he speaks of his advantages as a legally righteous Jew, he describes them as a trusting in the flesh (vs. 4), while as a Christian he expressly disclaims confidence in the flesh (vs. 3, 7-12).

6. Contradictory expressions as to his expectations for the future. On the one hand, he looks for a speedy release (1:25, 2:24); on the other, he contemplates martyrdom (2:17). But he says nothing but what is compatible with the alternations of hope and fear which are natural to a prisoner; and circumstances might have awakened his hopes at one time, and clouded them at another.

7. The words concerning the gift of the Philippians (4:10-19) contradict 1 Thessalonians 2:9. There is no contradiction. The latter passage confirms the statement of 4:15, that the Thessalonians were not among the Macedonians who contributed to Paul while in Corinth. Holsten’s assertion that Paul’s way of thanking the Philippians is thankless, is nonsense. Nothing can be more delicate, more hearty, and more manly than his expression of gratitude.

8. Differences in style from the acknowledged Pauline letters. Holsten collects these, and classifies them as non-pauline, unpauline, and anti-pauline.

It would seem self-evident that any writer whose mind is alive and whose thoughts do not move always in the same round, will use in one book or letter words and phrases which he does not use in another. The difference in subject or mood may be sufficient to account for this. The mere counting of unique words in any single epistle amounts to little or nothing. To forty-three hapaxlegomena in Ephesians, there are above a hundred in Romans, and more than two hundred in 1 Corinthians. In Ephesians the special treatment of the unity of the Christian body accounts for a group of words with σύν not found in the other epistles.

But Pauline words abound in this epistle. For a very full table, see Speaker’s Commentary on Phil., supplementary note at the close of the Introduction, “On the Pauline Diction of this Epistle.” For parallels with Romans, see Lightf. Comm. p. 43.

Schürer (cit. by Godet) says: “All the reasons advanced in this sphere against the authenticity, have weight only with him who makes the Apostle Paul, that most living and mobile spirit the world has ever seen, a man of habit and routine, who behoved to write each of his letters like all the others, to repeat in the following ones what he had said in the preceding, and to say it again always in the same way and in the same terms.”

The authenticity and genuineness of the epistle are defended by Lünemann (Pauli ad Phil. Ep. contra Baurium defendit, 1847); B. Brückner (Ep. ad Phil. Paulo auctori vindicata contra Baurium, 1848); Ernesti (Stud. u. Krit., 1848, 1851); Grimm (Zw. Th., 1873); Hilgenfeld (Zw. Th., 1873, 1875, 1877, 1884); Schenkel (Bibellex. iv. 534, Christusbild der Apostel); Weizsäcker (Jd. Th., 1876; Apost. Zeital.); A. Harnack (ZKG. ii., 1878); Mangold (Der Römerbrief, 1884, and Bleek’s Einl. in d. N. T., 1886); Pfleiderer (Urchristenthum; Paulinismus); Davidson (Introd. to the Study of the N. T.); Lipsius (Hand-Comm. ii., Einl. z. Phil.); Godet (Introd. au Nouv. Test., pt. 1., 1893); B. Weiss (Lehrb. d. Einl. in d. N. T., 1889); Jülicher (Einl. in d. N. T., 1894); Klöpper (Paulus an die Philipper, 1893).

H. J. Holtzmann (Einl. in d. N. T. 3 Aufl., 1892) says: “It is the testament of the apostle which we have before us, and he wrote it at Rome.” It is accepted by Reuss and Renan.

For the history of the controversy, see the Introds. of Holtzmann and Weiss, and Lips. in the Hand-Comm., Bd. ii. See also Knowling (The Witness of the Epistles, p. 6 ff.) and Theo. Zahn (Die Briefe des Paulus seit fünfzig Jahren im Feuer der Kritik, ZWL., 1889).



To any one reading this epistle as a familiar letter of Paul to a greatly beloved church, intended to inform them concerning his own circumstances, to thank them for their generous care for him, and to give them such counsel as his knowledge of their condition might suggest, its informal and unsystematic character, and its abrupt transitions from one theme to another, will appear entirely natural. Modern criticism, however, refuses to be satisfied with this view of the case, and has discovered, as it thinks, substantial reasons for challenging the integrity of the letter.

The principal stumbling-block is at 3:2, where, after being about to close the letter, as is claimed (vs. 1), the apostle begins afresh, and proceeds to the discussion of most important matters, and then returns thanks for the contribution, which the letter conveyed to Philippi by Epaphroditus could not have omitted. This, it is asserted, forms an abrupt and harsh transition, since the point at which he proposed to close is really the middle of the epistle. Holtzmann remarks that “the rush of all the tides of criticism upon this passage raises the suspicion of a hidden rock.”

Stephan Lemoyne (Varia Sacra), Heinrichs (in Koppe’s N. T., 1803), Paulus (Heidelb. Jhrb., 1812), Hausrath (N. T. Zeitgesch. iii. 2 Aufl., 1873-1877; Der Apostel Paulus, 2 Aufl., 1872), Weisse (Beitr. z. Kritik d. paulin. Br., 1867),—all assumed two letters. The last four assumed that 3:1-4:20 was addressed to a narrower circle of readers,—perhaps the superintendents of the church. Hausrath held that the first letter was written after Paul’s first hearing before the imperial tribunal, and the second some weeks later, after his receipt of the gift. Schrader (Der Apostel Paulus) regarded 3:1-4:9 as an interpolation; while Ewald (Sendschr. des Ap. Paulus, 1857), Schenkel (Bibellex.), and Reuss (Gesch. d. heil. Schr. N. T., 1874) held the portion from 3:1 to be a later addition, prompted by fresh information received by Paul. Völter (Th. J., 1892) holds that there were two letters,—a genuine and a spurious one. The former consisted of 1:1, 2 (exc. ἐπισκ. καὶ διακ.), 3-7, 12-26, 2:17-30, 4:10-20, 21, and perhaps 23; the latter of 1:8-11, 27-30, 2:1-16, 3:1-4:9. Lünemann, Ewald, Schenkel, Hilgenfeld, and Mangold hold that iii. 1 implies former and lost Philippian letters; and the question thus becomes complicated with the interpretation of the passages in Polyc. ad Phil., iii., xiii. (see note on 3:1).

The theory of two letters rests mainly on the assumption that τὸ λοιπόν in 3:1 indicates an intention to close the letter. But while τὸ λοιπόν may mean ‘finally,’ it also means ‘for the rest’; ‘as to what remains,’ as 1 Thessalonians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:1. The phrase is common with Paul where he loosely attaches, even in the middle of an epistle, a new subject to that which he has been discussing. In 1Th_4. two entire chapters follow τὸ λοιπόν in vs. 1. If Paul had meant to close the letter at 3:1, he would surely have expressed his thanks for the Philippians’ gift before reaching that point. Τὸ λοιπόν means there ‘as to what remains,’ and is an introduction to what follows, not the close of what precedes.

The abrupt transition and apparent lack of connection accord, as has been remarked, with the unsystematic, informal, familiar character of the whole letter. If the Judaistic and Libertine influences as a germ of discord demanded such an utterance as 3:2 ff., the transition was not easy to make in a familiar letter to those with whom the apostle’s relations were so intimate and affectionate. The want of connection, however, is rather apparent than real, since the divisions likely to be created by these dangerous influences would militate against that unity and concord which the apostle urges in the former part of the letter. Without specifying and pressing some such definite points, the earlier exhortations might have appeared abstract and vague.

There seem to be, therefore, no sufficient grounds for disputing the integrity of the epistle. If the partition theory is admitted, the attempt to fix the dividing lines must be regarded as hopeless in the face of the differences between critics.

See R. A. Lipsius (Hand-Comm. Einl. z. Phil.), Holtzmann (Einl. N.T.), Klöpper (Komm. Einl.), Lightfoot (Phil. p. 69).



The opening salutation is of unusual length, consisting of the first eleven verses, and containing thanks to God for the Philippians’ former Christian fellowship with the apostle, and their coöperation in promoting the gospel, expressions of confidence in the completion of the good work begun in them by God, and prayer for their spiritual growth.

From vs. 12 to vs. 26 St. Paul describes his own condition as a prisoner, the progress of the gospel, the work of his opposers, the increased zeal and boldness of the Christians in Rome, and expresses his own feelings in view of the alternative of his speedy death or of his continuing to live and labor for the church.

With vs. 27 he begins an exhortation to Christian unity and courage which extends to the fourth verse of ch. 2., where he introduces the example of Jesus Christ as an exhibition of the humility and self-abnegation which are essential to the maintenance of their fellowship. A few words of exhortation follow; and ch. 2. closes with an expression of the hope of his speedy release, his intention of sending Timothy to Macedonia, and the announcement of the sickness, recovery, and return of Epaphroditus.

Chapter 3. opens with an exhortation to joy, after which he proceeds to warn the church against the possible attempts of the Judaisers to influence its members, characterises them in severe terms, and contrasts their religious attitude and teachings with those of the true household of faith; the true circumcision with the false; the power of faith with the inefficiency of works and ordinances; and adduces in illustration a comparison of his own early education, aims, and religious attainments with his present position and hopes as a Christian. He follows this with an exhortation to steadfastness, a lament over those who had yielded to the influence of the Epicurean Libertines, and had thus fallen into sensuality and worldliness, and a contrast of such with the citizen of heaven, who minds not earthly things, but confidently awaits the appearing of the Lord Jesus as Saviour.

Chapter 4. begins with a repetition of the exhortation to steadfastness. Two prominent women of the church are urged to reconcile their differences, and a former fellow-laborer of the apostle is entreated to aid them in this. Then follow exhortations to forbearance, trustfulness, prayer, and giving of thanks, to the cultivation of all holy and gracious thoughts and dispositions, and to the imitation of his own Christian example as they had seen it in the days of their former intercourse. To all is added the promise of the comfort of God’s peace.

With 4:10 begins the acknowledgment of the gift received from the church, accompanied with hearty commendations of their habitual thoughtfulness and generous care for himself, and an expression of his assurance that such a spirit and such ministry will redound to their spiritual growth.

The closing salutations are general. No names are mentioned. The epistle ends with the benediction, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

The pervading tone of the letter is imparted by Paul’s strong personal attachment to the church, in which respect it resembles the first Thessalonian epistle. It is entirely devoid of official stateliness. The official title is dropped from the opening salutation, and the apostle greets the church as their friend and fellow-servant of Jesus Christ. The character of the epistle is almost wholly commendatory, in strong contrast with the epistle to the Galatians and with portions of the two Corinthian letters. While 2 Corinthians is tumultuous, often stern, sometimes almost menacing, this letter flows on to the end in a steady stream of thankful joy. It breathes the spirit of unimpaired confidence. It somewhat resembles Ephesians in the freedom with which the apostle abandons himself to those spontaneous impulses of thought which lead away from the direct line of his subject into the profound depths of some divine counsel, or bear his soul upward in impassioned prayer. It exhibits “none of the sensitiveness about the behavior of his converts to himself which appears in Galatians and 2 Corinthians; none of the earnestness about points of difference, none of the consciousness of the precarious basis of his authority in the existing state of the two churches” (Jowett). There is the assumption throughout of frank understanding and Christian friendship.

The epistle is also marked by the absence of formulated doctrinal statement. It exhibits the substance and heart of the gospel rather than its relation to any specific form of doctrinal error. The doctrinal points elaborated in other epistles are here matters of allusion rather than of discussion. Between the apostle and his readers there is assumed a community of faith in the truths to which he so confidently appeals for the enforcement of all that is pure, lovely, and of good report, and a knowledge of those truths which renders formal instruction unnecessary.

Where points of doctrine are touched, it is invariably with a view to their practical application. The ethical character of the epistle is very pronounced. Even the splendid passage, 2:5-11, is introduced, not for the purpose of formulating the doctrine of Christ’s preëxistence and of defining the nature of his humanity as related to his preincarnate condition, but in order to enforce the practical exhortation to humility. Thus, too, the doctrine of justification by faith as treated in ch. 3. lacks none of the essential elements of the discussion in Romans; yet it gains in practical force and attractiveness by being intertwined with the doctrine of mystical union with Christ. It is this which makes that passage, brief as it is, so valuable for the study of the real Pauline doctrine of justification, affording as it does no room for that scholastic and mechanical interpretation according to which justification is resolved into a forensic adjustment effected by a legal fiction of imputed righteousness.

Yet the attitude of the epistle towards doctrinal error is neither hesitating nor compromising. Its dealing with the Judaisers in ch. 3. reminds us that the writer is still the Paul of the Galatian and second Corinthian letters. None the less it bears witness to the discriminating quality of a ripe charity, to the sound wisdom of Christian love which knows how to draw the line between weakness and perverseness; between the occasional lapses of Christian immaturity and the wicked obstinacy of an estranged heart; between the mistakes of an untutored conscience and the selfish persistence of unholy desire.

But while the character of the epistle is ethical rather than doctrinal or controversial, it gives no countenance to the tendency to resolve the gospel into a mere code of morals. The moral inspiration which it represents has its impelling centre in a person and a life, and not in a code. The personal Christ is its very heart. It exhibits Christ in Paul rather than before him. Christ is not a subject of controversy; he is not simply a pattern of conduct. He is the sum of Paul’s life. Paul’s ideal is to be found in him. His death is not a sorrowful reminiscence; it has been shared by the apostle in his own death to sin. The view of the resurrection, which this letter in common with that to the Romans presents, is a standing rebuke to the superficial conception and the loose grasp which the church too often brings to that truth. The resurrection of the Lord is to Paul a present, informing energy and not only a memory and a hope. He would know the power of the resurrection now and here as well as hereafter. He not only lives according to Christ’s life, he lives it. Christ loves, obeys, suffers, sympathises, toils, and hopes in him. Under the power of this life his own natural affection is transfigured. He knows not men after the flesh, but loves and longs for them in the heart of Jesus Christ.

With the exhibition of these facts goes the corresponding emphasis of the apostle’s personality. The letter is more distinctively personal than any of the epistles to the churches except 2 Corinthians. In this lies largely its peculiar fascination. But the personality is accentuated on a different side. Its sensitive, indignant, self-vindicatory aspect, so marked in the Corinthian letter, is completely in the background here. The Paul of the Philippian letter is not the man whose apostolic credentials have been challenged, and whose personal motives have been impugned; not the vindicator of himself and of his ministry against the pretensions of false apostles; not the missionary who is reluctantly constrained in his own defence to unfold the record of his labors and sufferings. He is the disciple who counts all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord; for whom to live is Christ, and to die is to be with Christ. What a blending of the restfulness of faith with the tenseness of aspiration! What an upreach of desire! With an experience behind him unique in its depth and richness and variety, with the memory of personal vision of Christ and of ravishment into the third heaven, with a profound knowledge of the mysteries of divine truth won through heart-shaking moral crises, in solitary meditation and in the vast experience of his missionary career,—his attainment is only a point for a larger outlook, an impulse to more vigorous striving. In Christ he is in a sphere of infinite possibilities, and he counts not himself to have apprehended, but stretches forward under the perpetual stress of his heavenward calling.



The epistle presents no textual questions of importance. The authority for the sources is Tischendorf’s 8th ed. Crit. Maj. I have also used the 4th ed. of Scrivener’s Introduction to the Criticism of the N. T., ed. Miller, and in some places have noted the readings of Weiss in his recent Textkritische Untersuchungen und Textherstellung, 1896.

The text followed is that of Westcott and Hort with two or three exceptions.

The following manuscripts are referred to:


א Cod. Sinaiticus: 4th century. Discovered by Tischenderf 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.

B. Cod. Vaticanus: 4th century. Vatican Library. Contains both epistles entire. Correctors: B2, nearly the same date; B3, 10th or 11th century.

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.

D. Cod. Claromontanus: 6th century. Græco-Latin. National Library, Paris. Contains both epistles entire. Corrector: Db, close of 6th century.

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.

G. 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.


K. Cod. Mosquensis: 9th century. Moscow. 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.


17. National Library, Paris: 9th or 10th century. Both epistles entire.

31. British Museum: 11th century. Both epistles entire.

37. Library of Town Council of Leicester: 15th century. Both epistles entire. See Miller’s Scrivener, vol. i. 202.

47. Bodleian Library: 11th century. Both epistles entire.

67. Vienna: 11th century. Both epistles entire.

80. Vatican: 11th century. Philippians entire; Philemon mutilated.

137. Paris: 13th or 14th century. Both epistles entire.



Vetus Latina (Lat. Vet.). Vulgate (Vulg.).


Coptic, Memphitic, or Bohairic (Cop.). Bashmuric (Basm.).

Sahidic (Sah.).


Peshitto (Pesh.). Syr.utr (Peshitto and Harclean versions).

Harclean (Harcl.).

Syr.sch (Schaaf’s ed. of Peshitto). Syr.p (Harclean).

Other versions:

Armenian (Arm.). Ethiopic (Æth.).

Gothic (Goth.).




Chrysostom, Theodoret, Œcumenius, Theophylact, Theodore of Mopsuestia.

Chrysostom’s commentary is in the form of fifteen homilies. It is not regarded as one of his best, but it illustrates his peculiarities as an expositor: his honest effort to discover and interpret his author’s meaning; his sound grammatical and historical treatment; his avoidance of forced and fanciful allegorical interpretations; his felicitousness in illustration, fluency of style, dramatic power, and general knowledge of Scripture. Migne’s Patrologia, Paris, 1863; Trans. Library of the Fathers, Oxford, 1843; Schaff’s Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers.

Theodoret: simple and literal, mingling the expository and apologetic. Migne.

The commentaries of Theodore of Mopsuestia remain only in a few Greek fragments and a Latin version. They are valuable as a protest against the vicious allegorical method of the Alexandrian school. Theodore is distinguished by close adherence to the text, attention to grammatical points and textual variations,—by his exegetical instinct and his effort to adhere to the line of his author’s thought. Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Commentary on the Minor Epistles of St. Paul: The Latin Version with the Greek Fragments. Ed. from the MSS., with Notes and an Introduction, by H. B. Swete, Cambridge University Press.


Among these may be named those of Erasmus, Bucer, Zwingli, Beza, Calvin, Calixtus, Daillé, Musculus or Meusslin, Velasquez, Le Clerc, Hyperius, Vorstius, Grotius, Crocius, Aretius, Piscator, Estius, a Lapide, Breithaupt, am Ende, Rheinwald, Matthies, van Hengel, Hoelemann, Bengel, Rilliet.

John Calvin is marked by solid learning, contempt for exegetical tricks, independence, thoroughness, terseness, and precision of language.

John Albert Bengel: Gnomon Novi Testament. Ed. of Steudel, 1855. Translations by Fausset, Edinburgh, and Lewis and Vincent, Philadelphia, 1860. While most of his critical work is obsolete, he remains distinguished for keen spiritual insight, terse and pithy diction, and suggestive exposition of the force and bearing of individual words. Always mentioned with respect by modern commentators.

A. Rilliet: Commentaire sur l’Épitre de l’Apôtre Paul aux Philippiens. 1841. With illustrative essays. Learned,—not controversial or dogmatic,—interesting, Scriptural, clear in statement. Issued before the attacks of the Tübingen school.


Henry Alford: Greek Testament, 1849-1861 and later. Largely a digest of German exegesis which he was the first to introduce to the scholars of the established church in England. He is judicial rather than original, sometimes too much given to balancing opinions after the earlier German method; but in his treatment of this epistle, his judgments show considerable independence and decisiveness, and the commentary contains matter which is still valuable.

W. M. L. De Wette: Kurzgefasstes exegetisches Handbuch zum Neuen Testament. Kurze Erklärung der Briefe an die Kolosser, an Philemon, an die Epheser und Philipper. 1836-1848. Wide and accurate scholarship; sound exegetical tact,—independent, acute, concise.

H. A. W. Meyer: Kritisch exegetisches Handbuch über die Briefe an die Philipper, Kolosser, und an Philemon, 5 Aufl. A. H. Franke, 1886. New ed. in preparation. This volume of the Kommentar über das Neue Testament was prepared by Dr. Meyer’s own hand. Meyer stands in the very front rank of exegetes. Great learning; remarkable exegetical insight; devout, fair, independent, clear and forcible in statement; strong historic sense. He leans somewhat towards excessive literalism, and is not a good authority on text. The American edition, 1885, 4th Germ., contains the notes of President T. Dwight of Yale University. These are discriminating and helpful. Dr. Dwight has a rare faculty of putting into a clear and simple form the factors of a complicated exegetical discussion.

C. J. Ellicott: A Critical and Grammatical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistles to the Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon 1:0:5th ed. Ripe exegetical judgment; careful discrimination of grammatical niceties; remarkable power of stating fine distinctions and shades of meaning; great accuracy. His commentary is still most valuable.

J. B. Lightfoot: St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. Revised Text with Introduction, Notes, and Dissertations. 1st ed. 1868; 12th ed. 1896, a reprint of the revised and slightly altered 4th ed. of 1885. Has long held a very high rank among commentaries on this epistle. The lamented author’s large and varied learning appears especially in the essays and excursuses which so delightfully exhibit the historical setting of the letter. In point of exegesis, the commentary, while always suggestive, is not equal to some others.

B. 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.

Albert Klöpper: Der Brief des Apostel Paulus an die Philipper. 1893. A commentary which must be reckoned with. Carefully and conscientiously done, with adequate scholarship. Needlessly elaborated; too diffuse; but the reader who has the patience to make his way through the mazes of an involved style will commonly be rewarded for his pains. His critical tendencies are radical, but he accepts and defends the authenticity of the epistle.

Joseph Agar Beet: A Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, and to Philemon. 1891. With a good scholarly basis. It can hardly be called a popular commentary, but does not meet the demands of a full critical commentary. In the attempt to condense, some things are passed over with mere statement which deserve more careful notice.

J. Rawson Lumby: The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians. Schaff’s Popular Commentary, 1882. Bright, interesting, and suggestive.

Karl Braune: Die Briefe Sti Pauli an die Epheser, Kolosser, Philipper, theologisch-homiletisch bearbeitet. Lange’s Bibelwerk, 1867. Trans. with additions by H. B. Hackett, Schaff’s Lange, 1870. The value of Lange’s Bibelwerk is impaired by an accumulation of doctrinal, ethical, homiletical, and practical material. The quality of Dr. Hackett’s work is always good, and his additions are valuable.

R. A. Lipsius: Briefe an die Galater, Römer, Philipper. Hand-Commentar zum Neuen Testament, von Holtzmann, Lipsius, Schmiedel, und von Soden. Bd. ii Abth. 2, 2 Aufl., 1892. In striking contrast with most earlier German commentaries in which conflicting opinions are elaborately discussed; terse and condensed; learned, acute, penetrating, and clear. Introduction valuable. Represents the radical German school of N. T. criticism.

H. von Soden: Der Brief des Apostels Paulus an die Philipper. 1889. A charming homiletical exposition.

John Eadie: A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians. 2d ed. 1884. A full and useful commentary; too much of the homiletic element.




Ambrost. Ambrosiaster.

Ans. Anselm.

Aug. Augustine.

Chr. Chrysostom.

Clem. Alex. Clement of Alexandria.

Clem. Rom. Clement of Rome.

Cyr. Alex. Cyril of Alexandria.

Euseb. Eusebius.

Greg. Nys. Gregory of Nyssa.

Hil. Hilary.

Hippol. Hippolytus.

Ign. Ignatius.

Jer. Jerome.

Joh. Dam. John of Damascus.

Jos. Josephus.

Just. M. Justin Martyr.

Œc. Œcumenius.

Polyc. Polycarp.

Tert. Tertullian.

Thdrt. Theodoret.

Theo. Mop. Theodore of Mopsuestia.

Theoph. Theophylact.


Æs. Æschylus.

App. Appian.

Aristid. Aristides.

Aristoph. Aristophanes.

Aristot. Aristotle.

Athen. Athenæus.

Corp. I. Lat. Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.

Corp. I. Gr. Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum.

Dem. Demosthenes.

Diod. Sic. Diodorus Siculus.

Dion. H. Dionysius of Halicarnassus.

Eur. Euripides.

Hdt. Herodotus.

Hom. Homer.

Juv. Juvenal.

Ov. Ovid.

Petron. Petronius.

Pind. Pindar.

Plut. Plutarch.

Polyb. Polybius.

Q. Curt. Quintus Curtius.

Soph. Sophocles.

Suet. Suetonius.

Tac. Tacitus.

Ter. Terentius.

Thuc. Thucydides.

Xen. Xenophon.


Alf. Alford.

am E. am Ende.

Aq. Aquila.

B. Crus. Baumgarten Crusius.

Beng. Bengel.

Bl. Bleek.

Calov. Calovius.

Calv. Calvin.

Con. H. Conybeare and Howson.

Croc. Crocius.

De W. De Wette.

Dw. Dwight.

Ead. Eadie.

Ellic. Ellicott.

Erasm. Erasmus.

Ew. Ewald.

Grot. Grotius.

Heinr. Heinrichs.

Hack. Hackett.

Hofn. Hofmann.

Holtzn. Holtzmann.

Holst. Holsten.

Hoel. Hoelemann.

Jül. Jülicher.

Kl. Klöpper.

Lips. Lipsius.

Lightf. Lightfoot.

Lum. Lumby.

Luth. Luther.

Mey. Meyer.

Matth. Matthies.

Mich. Michaelis.

Nedr. Neander.

Pfl. Pfleiderer.

Pisc. Piscator.

Rhw. Rheinwald.

Ril. Rilliet.

Rosenm. Rosenmüller.

Str. Storr.

Symm. Symmachus.

v. Fl. von Flatt.

van Heng. van Hengel.

van Oos. van Oosterzee.

v. Sod. von Soden.

Weizs. Weizsäcker.

Westc. Westcott.

Wetst. Wetstein.

Wiesel. Wieseler.

Wies. Wiesinger.

W. St. Vincent: Word Studies in the N. T.


Burt. Burton: N. T. Moods and Tenses.

Crem. Cremer: Biblico-Theological Lexicon of N. T. Greek.

Herz. Herzog: Real-Encyclopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche.

Hesych. Hesychius: Lexicon.

Suid. Suidas: Lexicon.

Thay. Thayer: Greek-English Lexicon of the N. T.

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.


WH. Westcott and Hort: The New Testament in the Original Greek.

Tisch. Tischendorf: Novum Testamentum Graece. Editio Octava Critica Major.

R.V. Revised Version of 1881.

A.V. Authorized Version.

TR Textus Receptus.


Zw. Th. Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie.

Th. L Z. Theologische Literaturzeitung.

Th. J. Theologische Jahrbücher.

Th. T. Theologisch Tijdschrift.

Jp. Th. Jahrbücher für protestant. Theologie.

Stud. u. Krit. Studien und Kritiken.

Jd. Th. Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie.

Heidelb. Jhrb. Heidelberg Jahrbücher.

ZKG. Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte.

ZWL. Luthardt’s Zeitschrift für kirchl. wissenschaft und kirchl. Leben.


Apocr. Apocrypha.

Art. Article.

Bib. Gk. Biblical Greek.

Bib. Bible.

Class. Classics or Classical.

Comp. Compare.

Const. Construe.

LXX Septuagint Version.

Sap. Wisdom of Solomon.

Sir. Wisdom of Sirach.

= Equivalent to.

Lightf. Lightfoot.

Diod. Sic. Diodorus Siculus.

Comp. Compare.

Erasm. Erasmus.

Beng. Bengel.

Mey. Meyer.

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.

Alf. Alford.

Ellic. Ellicott.

Kl. Klöpper.

Tac. Tacitus.

Clem. Alex. Clement of Alexandria.

Tert. Tertullian.

Th. J. Theologische Jahrbücher.

Zw. Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie.

Jp. Jahrbücher für protestant. Theologie.

Stud. u. Studien und Kritiken.

Jd. Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie.

ZKG. Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte.

ZWL. Luthardt’s Zeitschrift für kirchl. wissenschaft und kirchl. Leben.

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