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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 1

Bengel's Gnomon of the New TestamentBengel's Gnomon

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Verse 1

Philippians 1:1 . Δοῦλοι , the servants ) Paul writes more familiarly to the Philippians than to those to whom, in writing, he calls himself an apostle . Under this common predicate, he very courteously joins Timothy with himself, who, by his means, was called to be a disciple, and who, having recently joined Paul, had come to Philippi, Acts 16:3 ; Acts 16:12 . σὺν , with ) The Church is superior to the bishops; and the apostolic writing is sent more directly to the Church than to the presiding ministers; Hebrews 13:24 ; Ephesians 3:4 ; Colossians 3:18 , etc., Colossians 4:17 ; Revelation 1:4 ; Revelation 1:11 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:12 . ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις , with the bishops and deacons ) At that time the former properly managed the internal, the latter the external affairs of the Church, 1Ti 3:2 ; 1 Timothy 3:8 ; the latter, however, were not excluded from care about the internal affairs, nor the former about the external. Sometimes Paul, in the inscriptions, calls them churches; sometimes he uses a periphrasis, which either signifies something greater, as we have remarked at 1 Corinthians 1:2 , or is used because, as in the instance of the Romans, they had not yet been fully reduced to the form of a church . This epistle to the Philippians alone is so inscribed as to connect the mention of the bishops and deacons with the emphatic paraphrase. [1]

[1] Michaelis ( in der Enleitung, etc., T. I. p. m. 165, sq.) confirms the venerable antiquity of the Syriac Version of the N. T . from the fact, that in this passage it uses the word elders for bishops, and therefore it was made at that time when the real difference between bishops and presbyters was not yet known . E. B.

Verse 2

Philippians 1:2 . Εὐχαριστῶ , I give thanks ) In this place we shall give a synopsis of the epistle. We have in it

I. The Inscription, Philippians 1:1-2 .

II. Thanksgiving and Prayers for the flourishing spiritual state of the Philippians, , Philippians 1:3-4 ; Philippians 1:9-10 .

III. Paul mentions his present state, and good hope for the future, , Philippians 1:12-13 ; Philippians 1:18-19 .

Whence he exhorts the Philippians:

1. Since he is to continue to live, that they should walk worthily of the Gospel, , Php 1:25 to Philippians 2:16 .

2. Although he should be put to death, that they should rejoice with him, , Philippians 1:17-18 ; and promises that he will very soon give them all information by Timothy, , Philippians 1:19-20 ; and in the meantime sends Epaphroditus, , Philippians 1:25-26 .

IV. He Exhorts them to rejoice, Philippians 3:1 , admonishing them to avoid false teachers of righteousness, and to follow the true, Philippians 3:2-3 ; and commending peace and harmony, Philippians 4:1-3 . In like manner he exhorts them to joy, accompanied with gentleness and calmness of mind, Philippians 4:4-7 , and to do all things that are excellent, Philippians 4:8-9 .

V. He accepts warmly the Liberality of the Philippians, Philippians 4:10-20 .

VI. The Conclusion, Philippians 4:21-23 .

Ἐπὶ , upon ) The mention , the remembrance is the occasion of thanksgiving. πάσῃ , every ) Paul’s heart was large: comp. the following verse, where it occurs thrice.

Verse 4

Philippians 1:4 . Ὑπὲρ , for ) Construe it with praying . μετὰ χαρᾶς , with joy ) The sum of the epistle is, I rejoice, rejoice ye . This epistle on joy aptly follows that to the Ephesians, where love reigns; for joy is perpetually mentioned, Philippians 1:18 , etc.; likewise ch. Philippians 2:2 ; Philippians 2:19 ; Philippians 2:28 , Philippians 3:1 , Philippians 4:1 ; Philippians 4:4 . The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy . Joy particularly gives animation to prayers . τὴν δέησιν , [my request ], the prayer ) of which he had just spoken.

Verse 5

Philippians 1:5 . Ἐπὶ , for ) Construe with I thank . κοινωνίᾳ , fellowship ) which has come to you from above, [2] and is practised by you in holy liberality, ch. Philippians 4:10 ; Philippians 4:15-16 ; comp. 2 Corinthians 9:13 . ἀπὸ , from ) Construe with I thank . ἡμέρας , day ) when ye became partakers of the Gospel.

[2] If only the one or the other part of this fellowship, and that too the latter, must be understood, which is performed by the exercise of liberality, and this is the opinion of some, I scarcely understand how the words ἄχρις ἡμέρας Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ , at the end of ver. 6, can be made to agree with it . E. B.

Verse 6

Philippians 1:6 . Πεποιθὼς , being confident ) This confidence constitutes the sinews of thanksgiving. ὁ ἐναρξάμενος εν ὑμῖν , who has begun in you ) ἐν twice emphatically. ἔργον ἀγαθὸν , a good work ) It is the one great and perpetual work of God for our salvation, ch. Philippians 2:13 . ἐπιτελέσει , will perfect ) The beginning is the pledge of its final consummation. Not even a man begins anything at random. [3] ἌΧΡΙς , even to ) Believers set before their minds, as the goal, the day of Christ , rather than their own death. ἡμέρας , the day ) Philippians 1:10 .

[3] Much less does God. ED.

Verse 7

Philippians 1:7 . Καθὼς , even as ) He explains the reason why he speaks so kindly as to the Philippians. δίκαιον , just ) I find just reasons in my own case, from the relationship of faith, and these reasons are not trifling. I am both justly bound by them, and demand them as a right. φρονεῖν ) to think . διὰ , for this reason, because ) This is the connection: I have you in my heart as partakers of grace ( 2Co 7:3 ), and long for you, and this not merely from natural affection, but from devotedness to Jesus Christ; hence I clearly perceive, that it is rather the Lord Himself who has the same affection for you, and He will carry on the work from the beginning to its termination. δεσμοῖς ἀπολογίᾳ , in my bonds in defence ) A Hendiadys [My bonds in defence of the Gospel]. Bonds do not restrain my love. ἀπολογίᾳ , in defence ) The Romans brought accusations against the Gospel. βεβαιώσει , in confirmation ) This is something more than a defence . τοῦ εὐαγγελίου , of the Gospel ) by which grace is announced. συγκοινωνοὺς ὑμᾶς ὄντας ) He said above, you; therefore here is the accusative for the genitive, as Acts 7:21 , where see the note.

Verse 8

Philippians 1:8 . Ἐν σπλάγχνοις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ , in the bowels of Jesus Christ ) Not Paul, but Jesus Christ lives in Paul; wherefore Paul is not moved in the bowels of Paul, but of Jesus Christ.

Verse 9

Philippians 1:9 . Καὶ τοῦτο , and this ) He declared, from Php 1:3 and onward, that he prayed for them; he now shows what was his prayer in their behalf. ἡ ἀγάπη , love ) Love makes men docile and [spiritually] sagacious, 2 Peter 1:7-8 . Hence arose the form used formerly in the assemblies of the Church, [4] and which is vernacular among us: Caritas vestra, your love (charity), in a wider sense. ὑμῶν , your ) Correlative to the love of Paul, Philippians 1:7-8 . A previous [anticipatory] allusion to the love which they had shown to him; ch. Philippians 4:10 ; Philippians 4:18 . ἔτι μᾶλλον , yet more ) The fire in the apostle’s mind never says, It is sufficient [past and present attainments are enough]. ἐν ἐπιγνώσει καὶ πάσῃ αἰσθήσει , in all knowledge and perception [ judgment ]) Knowledge is a very noble species, as sight is in the body: αἰσθήσις , perception , is the genus; for we have also [included under it] spiritual sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, i.e. the senses for investigation, and those for enjoyment, [5] as they are called. So part of the perception [ sense ] is joy , frequently mentioned in this epistle. And all is an indication that it is the genus; 2 Corinthians 8:7 , note. In philosophy, the Peripatetics referred all things only to knowledge [ which is the principal fault of the modern philosophers also, when they come upon spiritual subjects. V. g.] The Platonists referred all things to the remaining word, sense , or perception; for example, in lamblicus. Regard is to be had to both in Christianity: each is met with in the Cross, and renders men fit to approve . Here, after love, expressly mentioned, he describes faith and hope in the following verse. Paul everywhere describes Christianity as something vigorous; wherefore the doctrine of the Mystics on Privation is so to be received, as not to be in any respect injurious to that practical ardour of mind.

[4] Or else in sermons .

[5] Sensús investigativi et fruitivi.

Verse 10

Philippians 1:10 . Δοκιμάζειν ) prove and embrace, Romans 12:2 . τὰ διαφέροντα , the things that are excellent ) not merely good in preference to bad, but the best among those that are good, of which none but those of more advanced attainments perceive the excellence. Truly we choose accurately in the case of things external, why not among things spiritual? Comparative theology is of great importance [ from which they are farthest distant, who cease not to inquire (who are always asking), how far they may extend their liberty without sin . V. g.] εἰλικρινεῖς , sincere ) According to knowledge . ἀπρόσκοποι , without offence ) According to all sense or judgment .

Verse 11

Philippians 1:11 . Πεπληρωμένοι καρπὸν δικαιοσύνης , κ . τ . λ ., filled with the fruits of righteousness ) The same construction is found at Colossians 1:9 , ἵνα πληρωθῆτε τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν ; and the fruit of righteousness is generally used in the singular number, Hebrews 12:11 ; James 3:18 ; also Romans 6:22 , precisely as Paul elsewhere speaks of the fruit of the Spirit, of light, of the lips . The more common reading is πεπληρωμένοι καρπῶν , κ . τ . λ . [6]

[6] ABD( Δ )Gfg Vulg. (except Fuld. MS. corrected by Victor of Capua), read καρπόν . No old authority except Syr. supports the καοπῶν of the Rec. Text. ED.

Verse 12

Philippians 1:12 . Γινώσκειν , to know ) The churches may have been prepossessed with contrary rumours [which the apostle wishes to counteract]. μᾶλλον , rather ) So far from my bonds having been injurious. εἰς , into ) Faith takes in a favourable light all that is adverse, Philippians 1:19 ; Philippians 1:28 , ch. Philippians 2:27 . ἐλήλυθεν , [have fallen out] came ) easily.

Verse 13

Philippians 1:13 . Τοὺς δεσμοὺς , bonds ) Paul, delivered up along with other prisoners, seemed on the same footing with them: afterwards it became known that his case was different, and so the Gospel prevailed. φανεροὺς , manifest ) Colossians 4:4 . πραιτωρίῳ , in the prœtorium ) The court of Cæsar; comp. Philippians 4:22 . καὶ , and ) then. τοῖς λοιποῖς , in the other ) places outside of it; 2 Timothy 4:17 . So other , 1 Thessalonians 4:13 .

Verse 14

Philippians 1:14 . Τῶν ἀδελφῶν , of the brethren ) who had formerly been afraid. ἐν Κυρίῳ , in the Lord ) construed with are bold . τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου , by my bonds ) They saw Paul both constant and safe in his confession of Christ. ἀφόβως , without fear ) no one terrifying them. Fear often is no longer felt by [flies from] those who make an attempt.

Verse 15

Philippians 1:15 . [8] ΤΙΝῈς ΜῈΝ ΤΙΝῈς ΔῈ , some indeed and some ) A separation [Sejugatio; see Append.]: for two clauses are laid down, which are afterwards more fully treated. διʼ εὐδοκίαν ) of good-will: εὐδοκία often corresponds to the Hebrew word רצון .

[8] Τὸν λόγον , the word ) which, he says, I preach. V. g.

Verse 16

Philippians 1:16 . [9] Ἐξ ἐριθείας , of contention ) Construed with preach . οὐχ ἁγνῶς , not sincerely ) not with a pure intention, or, not without a Jewish leaven; comp. Galatians 6:12-13 . They spoke of and related what Paul taught: they either did not believe it themselves, or did not confess that they did so. Rumour, report, general preaching, is useful for rousing the attention of many, and requires no great ability [ ἱκανότητα ] in them that preach, which is necessary, and demands purity of mind and doctrine in closer application; as, for example, among the Galatians; comp. Galatians 1:7 , etc. οἰόμενοι , thinking ) They thought that the Gentiles, when they observed the increase of the Gospel, would be indignant with Paul in particular; but the efforts of his opponents did not succeed with them, nor did Paul consider it as an affliction , therefore he says, thinking . θλίψιν , affliction ) even accompanied with the danger of death. ἐπιφέρειν , to add ) His bonds were already an affliction: they were adding affliction to the afflicted.

[9] The Germ. Vers. places the 17th verse before this clause of the 16th, following the marg. of the 2d Ed. rather than the larger Ed. E. B.

ABD( Δ )G Vulg. place οἱ μὲν ἐξ ἀγάπης κεῖμαι before οἱ δἐ ἐξ ἐριθ . μου . The Rec. Text order is supported by none of the very old authorities except the later Syr. ED.

Verse 17

Philippians 1:17 . Ἐξ ἀγάπης , from love ) towards Christ and me. εἰδότες , knowing ) An antithesis to thinking . εἰς ἀπολογίαν , for the defence ) not on my own account. κεῖμαι , I am laid, set ) in one place. Lying [laid aside in imprisonment], or running, Paul still made advancement, 2 Timothy 2:9 . He abode at Rome, as an ambassador does in any place on account of a somewhat lengthened negotiation.

Verse 18

Philippians 1:18 . Τί γὰρ , what then? ) What does it matter? That is, I am helped [the cause I have at heart is furthered ] either way, Philippians 1:12 . πλήν , yet ) nevertheless. προφάσει , in pretext ) Such men, says he, make the name of Christ a pretext: they really design to excite against me ill-will. ἀληθείᾳ , in truth ) from the heart, seriously.

Verse 19

Philippians 1:19 . Γὰρ , for ) [aetiologia]. The reason assigned, why he should rejoice . τοῦτό μοι ἀποβήσεται εἰς σωτηρίαν , this shall turn to my salvation ) So evidently the LXX., Job 13:16 , with whom, in that one book, the verb ἀποβαίνω is of frequent occurrence; and in the same passage, Job 13:15-16 , the question relates to sincerity , which is purity ( ἁγνῶς ) with Paul, Philippians 1:16 . εἰς σωτηρίαν , to salvation ) not only not to affliction , Philippians 1:16 . δεήσεως , prayer ) ascending to heaven ἐπιχορηγίας , supply ) coming down from heaven; ἐπὶ indicates the relation.

Verse 20

Philippians 1:20 . Ἐν οὐδενὶ αἰσχυνθήσομαι , ἀλλʼ ἐν πάσῃ παῤῥησίᾳ μεγαλυνθήσεται Χριστὸς , in nothing shall I be ashamed, but in all boldness Christ shall be magnified ) He removes the ignominy from himself: he ascribes the boldness to himself, the glory to Christ. σώματι , in my body ) in bonds. εἴτε διὰ ζωῆς , εἴτε διὰ θανάτου , whether by life or by death ) The disjunction follows, Philippians 1:21-22 . In what way soever it shall fall out, says he, it will be well. I cannot lose. Paul himself was ignorant what would be the issue; for the apostles were not omniscient, but rather in what referred to themselves they were exercised [disciplined] by faith and patience.

Verse 21

Philippians 1:21 . Ἐμοὶ ) to me , at the beginning of a section, means, so far as I am concerned; for he treated in the preceding verse of what regarded Christ. τὸ ζῇν , Χριστός , to live is Christ ) The article denotes the subject, as again in the next clause. Whatever may be the life I live (in the natural life), its principle and end is Christ. [10] [ While I live in the world I consider the cause of Christ to be my own . V. g.] τὸ ἀποθανεῖν κέρδος , to die is gain ) Although in dying I seem to suffer the loss of all things.

[10] Literally, I live Christ . “Christum vivo.”

Verse 22

Philippians 1:22 . Εἰ δὲ , but if ) Here he begins to discuss the first member of the period: the second at ch. Philippians 2:17 , yea, and if I am offered . Moreover, he uses δὲ , but , because, from the disjunction [two alternatives] laid down in the preceding verse, he now assumes the one; and on this assumption, presently, as if repenting, he begins to doubt, in such a way, however, as not to avoid assuming it in the meantime. τὸ ζῇν , viz. ἐστί μοι ) if living is to me: if I am to live. ἐν σαρκί ) This is a limitation; for even they who die, live. καρπὸς ἔργου , the fruit of my labour ) I derive this fruit from it [from living], that I may thereby do the more work; a noble work , ch. Philippians 2:30 ; desirable fruit , Romans 1:13 . Another seeks fruit from [by means of] his labour; Paul regards the labour itself as the fruit. This living is the fruit of my labour. The expression, καρπὸς ἔργου , the fruit of labour [= the labour (is) my fruit]; as, the river of the Rhine, the virtue of liberality [for the river Rhine; the virtue, liberality ]. The price of the labour is its immediate result. [11] Cicero says, “ I propose to myself as the fruit of friendship, friendship itself, than which nothing is more abundant .” αἱρήσομαι , I shall choose ) He supposes the condition, viz. if the power of choosing were given to him. This is the reason of [the ground on which he uses] the Future. [ The lot of the Christian is truly an excellent one. It is only of things that are good that the choice can be made, so as to perplex or put his mind in a strait with hesitation. He never can be disappointed . V. g.] οὐ γνωρίζω ) I do not explain , viz. to myself; i.e. I do not determine.

[11] The reward which the labour itself affords is an immediate result, independent of its future rewards. ED.

Verse 23

Philippians 1:23 . Συνέχομαι , I am in a strait [I am perplexed]) He suitably expresses this hesitation , when he dwells upon this deliberation. δὲ , but [for]) He hereby declares the cause of his doubt. ἔχων , having ) The participle, expressive of the feelings of the mind, for the indicative. εἰς τὸ ἀναλῦσαι ) to depart from bonds, from the flesh, and from the world. There is no need to seek for metaphor. The use of this word is of wide extent [application], Luke 12:36 ; 2Ti 4:6 σὺν Χριστῷ , with Christ ) there, whither Christ has gone before him. Paul takes it for granted as a certainty, that, after his martyrdom, he will be immediately with Christ, and that his condition will be greatly superior to what it was in the flesh. [ How delightful it is to rejoice in this hope! Reader, dost thou love Christ? Think then what will be the feeling of thy mind, if, after an interval of some months or days, thou shalt be with Christ. If that were indeed sure in thy case, what wouldst thou think should be done? See then that thou art doing this very thing at the present time . V. g.] πολλῷ μᾶλλον κρεῖσσον , far the more preferable [ far better ]) This short clause is to be referred to the verb to be , not to depart , whether we take it as a predicate, or rather understand it absolutely, by supplying ὂν , in this sense, since that is much better . For the comparative is cumulative; comp. 2 Corinthians 7:13 , note. To depart is better than to remain in the flesh; to be with Christ is far far better . The Vulgate alone, so far as I know, has rightly, multo magis melius, much more better [preferable]. To depart was always a thing wished for by the saints, but to be with Christ is in accordance with the New Testament [a privilege peculiar to the New Testament]; comp. Hebrews 12:24 .

Verse 24

Philippians 1:24 . Ἐπιμένειν , to abide longer ) ἀναγκαιότερον , more necessary ) It appertains more to me [I feel it more desirable], he says, even with a view to the perception of my love [on your part]; more than even the access to blessedness just now mentioned. The Philippians might have said, This man is necessary to us . Egotism has ceased in the mind of Paul: he therefore acknowledges that circumstance [the personal gain it would be to him to depart]; comp. ch. Philippians 2:25 . He however adds this also: It is more important for me to be serviceable to you, than a little sooner to enjoy heaven. Heaven will not fail to be mine [ at last , notwithstanding the delay].

Verse 25

Philippians 1:25 . Καὶ τοῦτο , and this ) While he was writing these things, he had a prophetical suggestion in his mind concerning his continuance among them. πεποιθὼς οἶδα , I confidently know ) He knew by spiritual confidence; he did not yet know from the report of men, Philippians 1:17 , ch. Philippians 2:23 . μενῶ , that I shall continue ) in life. συμπαραμενῶ , remain with you) I shall remain for a considerable length of time with you. Psalms 72:5 , the LXX., συμπαραμενεῖ τῷ ἡλιῳ , He shall continue along with [ as long as ] the sun . There is no doubt that Paul returned from his first captivity into that country, Philem Philippians 1:22 ; Hebrews 13:19 .

Verse 26

Philippians 1:26 . Τὸ καύχημα ὑμῶν , your glorying [rejoicing]) concerning my restoration to you, who were praying for that very thing. It is correlative to the words, to my rejoicing [ glorying over you], Philippians 2:16 . Glory is joy , proceeding from virtue; glorying is the expression of joy, an affection full of joy: from virtue, either true or false; whence glorying is also true or false; comp. Isaiah 57:12 , where righteousness is called, though it is falsely so called, righteousness.

Verse 27

Philippians 1:27 . Μόνον , only ) Make this one thing your care; nothing else. [ whatever happens as to my arrival. By supposing this or that event, not a few persuade themselves, that they will be at last such as it is proper for them to be; but it is better always to perform present duty, without evasions . V. g.] τοῦ εὐαγγελίου , the Gospel ) For the sake of propagating which I delight [feel it desirable] to remain. [ There is plainly taught in this very passage all that is worthy of a Christian man, who desires to be called evangelical. Faith is mentioned , Philippians 1:27 , hope , Philippians 1:28 , love , ch. Philippians 2:2 . V. g.] ἰδὼν ἀκούσω , seeing I may hear ) Comp. Philippians 1:30 . ἀκούσω ) I may hear and know; for ἀκούσω is to be referred also to coming and seeing you . ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι , in one spirit) one among you. μιᾷ ψυχῇ , with one soul [ mind ]) There is sometimes a certain natural antipathy among saints, but this feeling is overcome, when there is not only unity of spirit but also of soul. συναθλοῦντες ) striving along with me. Paul was struggling in a conflict, Philippians 1:30 .

Verse 28

Philippians 1:28 . Μὴ πτυρόμενοι , not terrified ) with a great and sudden terror; for πτύρω is properly said of horses. ἥτις , which ) the striving . αὐτοῖς ) to them . ἔνδειξις , an evident token ) 2 Thessalonians 1:5 .

Verse 29

Philippians 1:29 . Ὅτι , because ) The force of the declaration falls upon the word ἐχαρίσθη , God bestowed it of grace . The gift of grace is a sign of salvation . τὸ ὑπὲρ ) It is repeated after the intervening clause, τὸ ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ πάσχειν . πιστεύειν · πάσχειν , to believe to suffer ) Philippians 1:27 , at the end.

Verse 30

Philippians 1:30 . Ἐχοντες , having ) construed with ye stand fast, in nothing terrified , Philippians 1:27-28 . εἴδετε , you have seen ) Acts 16:12 ; Acts 16:19-20 . ἐν ἐμοὶ , in me ) who am not terrified .

Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Philippians 1". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jab/philippians-1.html. 1897.
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