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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 2

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


Does? Paul bases his encouragement to them on things they know to be true! Robert Rainy says: “Deeds are the true profession of our faith; they are the verification of our religious experience. And in this practical form we must overcome, not the temptations of other people or other ages, but our own. There is no more dangerous working of unbelief than that in which it never questions the doctrinal theory, but renders our Christianity cold and slack, and leads us to indulge a preference for a religion that goes easy.”

Verse 2


I urge you, then. “Because you know all these things I just mentioned are true, I ask you just one thing more. Make my joy complete by really being one in Christ!” What Paul describes in this verse is a messianic community with a life style which finds its main expression in love and respect, and a common goal!

Verse 3


Don’t do anything. Selfish ambition or a cheap desire to boast, would destroy the spirit of community!!! Christians must work together, not compete!!! But be humble. When each tries to seize the honor and glory for himself, no one is honored! But when each gives the honor and glory to the other person, all are honored!!!

Verse 4


And look out for. See 1 Corinthians 10:24; 1 Corinthians 10:33 and notes.

Verse 5


The attitude. “Let me show you the example which Christ set for us!” There was a real threat of division in the Philippian church, and it was of vital importance that they develop a spirit of community! They must relate to each other through their reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21 and note).

Verse 6


He always had. Ernst Lohmeyer has expanded the meaning of this section of verses. He says this is a very early Christian hymn, originally written in Aramaic (the Judean dialect of Hebrew), and sung in connection with the Lord’s Supper (Holy Meal). But in studying this, note that Paul uses it to emphasize Christian ethics, not theology. The very nature of God. Compare John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:3. But he did not think. “He always had the very nature of God, even when he was in human form, but while in the flesh, he did not have an attitude of selfish ambition and try to make himself equal with God by force, even though he could have done it!” The next verse explains.

Verse 7


Instead. “The Son, who is the Eternal Logos, of his own free will gave up his rank (but not his divine nature) to take the nature of a servant and become what we are – a human being, with a human nature (Romans 8:3) and be tempted as we are (Hebrews 4:15).”

Verse 8


He was humble. The pagan world thought of humility as we think of humiliation! Obedience. Remember Paul is stressing the Christian ethic!!! Christ set the example by his obedience!!! His death on the cross. This is the ultimate humiliation!!! Note: (1) He always (even in human form) had the very nature of God, and also the rank. (2) He gave up his rank and the glory of heaven. (3) He took a servant’s nature and became like us. (4) He shared our human nature completely, by also experiencing death. (5) He was completely humiliated in the shame of the Cross!

Verse 9


God. The first part of this hymn tells what Christ did. The second part shows God’s response. “God raised him from the dead and took him up to the highest place above, in his crucified body! This is how God rewarded Christ for his humility and obedience! I show you this as an example.” And gave him the name. Names, to the ancient people, showed character and status. Being given a new name, then, shows Christ being raised to high rank and great honor! The question arises: “If Christ always had the very nature of God, is it possible that he is now higher than he was before???” Robert Rainy answers: “A line of contemplation, hard to follow yet inspiring, opens up in considering the Incarnation of our Lord as permanent. No day is coming in which that shall have to be looked upon as gone away into the past. This is suggestive as to the tie between Creator and creature, as to the bridge between Infinite and finite, to be evermore found in Him. But it may suffice here to have indicated the topic.” Compare Psalms 8:0; Hebrews 9:24-28.

Verse 10


And so, in honor. In honor to the authority that the name “Lord” represents, all Creation and even his enemies, fall on their knees in praise and submission to him!!! Angels, men, and even the dead!!!

Verse 11


Proclaim. It is the beings mentioned in Philippians 2:10 who proclaim this. The symbolism is of subjects swearing loyalty to their king. Johnson says: “All the universe is called to confess him as Lord, and thus glorify God. All will yet confess him, either in joy or shame.”

Verse 12


So then. Now Paul draws some needed lessons from this example of Christ he showed them in Philippians 2:6-11. As you always obeyed me. “Even though I cannot be with you in person, it is more important than ever that you show the attitude of humility and obedience that Christ had!!!” Keep on working. The Philippian church will not always have Paul available to them in person. It is very important that they be able to take care of themselves. It is necessary that they keep on working to complete their salvation!!! They do this by imitating the attitude and obedience which Christ demonstrated. Johnson says: “While Christ is our Savior, and the author of our salvation, we must accept him and work together with him . . . Unless we do our part Christ cannot save us.” We must reach out through faith to seize Christ, and then continue to hold firmly to him! Fear and trembling. This is a favorite expression of Paul, and means: “reverence and awe.”

Verse 13


Because God. After stressing personal responsibility in Philippians 2:12, Paul shows God at work in us. Johnson says: “God works in the converted person by his word and Spirit. His Spirit is a helper. He does not destroy our free will, for we may resist him (1 Thessalonians 5:19).” To make you willing and able. Robert Rainy says: “All efforts to divide the ground between God and man go astray. In the inward process of salvation, and especially in this ‘willing and doing,’ God does all, and also man does all. But God takes precedence. For it is He that quickeneth [makes alive] the dead, and calleth things that are not as though they were. Here we may say, as the Apostle does in another case, ‘This is a great mystery.’ Let us recognize it as a mystery bound up with any hope we ourselves have of proving to be children of God. And under the sense of it, with fear and trembling let us work, for it is God that worketh in us to will and to do.”

Verse 14


Without. “Do not be like restive slaves, who complain about everything they are asked to do; nor like disobedient children, who argue with their parents about everything they are asked to do!”

Verse 15


Innocent and pure. If they do as Paul urges them, they will be innocent and pure. As God’s perfect children. Compare Ephesians 5:8 and note. You must shine. Compare Matthew 5:16 and note.

Verse 16


As you offer them. Johnson says: “Always preaching Christ in word, in life, and in deed. That was their work. Unless they did this they were a failure.” Reason to be proud of you. Compare 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 and notes.

Verse 17


Perhaps my life’s blood. Paul viewed his service to Christ as an offering for the Gentiles. In Philippians 1:25 he seems confident he will not die just yet. Perhaps here he looks into the future to the time his life’s blood will be poured out as an offering – poured over the sacrifice of the Gentile Christian’s faith. Paul was beheaded in Rome, either 67 or 68 A.D.

Verse 18


In the same way. “You must have this same attitude and be glad when you suffer and even die for the gospel! In this way you will share your joy in Christ with me!”

Verse 19


To send Timothy. “Through the help of the Lord Jesus, I hope to send Timothy to you soon. He can tell you about me, and he can bring back the good news of what you are doing!”

Verse 20


He is. Robert Rainy says: “Notice the importance which may justly attach to human instrumentalities. One is not as good as another. Some are far more fit for use than others are. The Apostle thought earnestly on the point who was fittest to go, and he was glad he had a man like Timothy to send. It is true that the supreme source of success in gospel work is God Himself; and sometimes He gives unexpected success to unlikely instruments. But yet, as a rule, much depends on men being adapted to their work. When God prepares fresh blessing for His Church, He commonly raises up men fitted for the service to be rendered. Therefore we do well to pray earnestly for men eminently qualified to do the Lord’s work.”

Verse 21


Everyone else. Paul does not mean his associates, if any are with him. MacKnight says: “For all the teachers here seek their own pleasure and profit, and not the things belonging to Christ Jesus.”

Verse 22


And you yourselves know. They knew Timothy well (Acts 16:3; Acts 16:12). Paul speaks like a proud father! Timothy played an important part in the spread of Christianity!

Verse 23


As soon as I know. The fact that Paul is inspired, does not mean the future is an open book to him! He feels the need to keep Timothy with him until he hears the Emperor’s verdict!

Verse 24


And I trust. Paul has great confidence in the Lord, and may have had a vision about this, yet he knows he cannot place an obligation on the Lord. Compare Philippians 1:25-26 and notes.

Verse 25


Epaphroditus. This is the messenger which the Philippian church sent to Paul. Now Paul is going to send him back to them immediately, with this Letter.

Verse 26


He is anxious. Epaphroditus has stayed at Rome much longer than he had intended to do. He is eager to get home, and is upset because he knows they have worried about him!

Verse 27


Almost died. This makes some ask: “Why didn’t Paul use his power to heal this man???” MacKnight says: “Those who possessed the power of miracles could not exercise it according to their own pleasure, but according to the direction of the Holy Spirit; otherwise Paul would have most certainly have healed Epaphroditus, who, as implied in Philippians 2:30, had fallen into this dangerous sickness through fatigue which he underwent in assisting the apostle. Miracles of healing were generally wrought for convincing unbelievers.” But God. Paul implies that Epaphroditus’ recovery was God’s response to their earnest prayers!

Verse 28


So that you. “I could use his help here, but I send him back to you, so that your own happiness will make me happy tool”

Verse 29


With all joy. This is a genuine praise for one who had demonstrated his willingness to lay down his life for the Good News!!! Show respect. It is right and proper to show respect and give honor to all who show themselves worthy of it!!!

Verse 30


Because. “He risked his life and nearly died! He thought no price was too high to pay, to spread the Good News of God’s act in Christ to set men free!!! He was your proxy to me!”

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Philippians 2". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/philippians-2.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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