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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Philippians 3

Verse 1

Philippians 3:1 . Τὸ λοιπὸν , Furthermore ) a phrase used in continuing a discourse, 1 Thessalonians 4:1 . So λοιπὸν and τοῦ λοιποῦ are used. [28] τὰ αὐτὰ , the same things ) concerning joy. [ The proper principle on which to rest our rejoicing is presently presented, namely, to be in communion with Christ. V. g.] οὐκ ὀκνηρὸν , is not troublesome ) For it is pleasant for a person who feels joy to write: rejoice . The contrary is found at Galatians 6:17 . ὑμῖν δὲ ἀσφαλές , but for you it is safe ) Spiritual joy produces the best safety against errors, especially Jewish errors, Philippians 3:2 .

[28] Χαίρετε ἐν Κυρίῳ , rejoice in the Lord ) dost thou thyself rejoice with all diligence (earnestness) and constancy in the Lord Jesus Christ? ch. Philippians 4:4 . V. g.

Verse 2

Philippians 3:2 . Βλέπετε , see ) A vehement Anaphora, [29] See , and you will avoid; a metonymy of the antecedent for the consequent. [30] The antithesis is σκοπεῖτε , observe, mark , [31] Philippians 3:17 ; for Php 3:17 returns to this topic, wonderfully tempered by reproof and exhortation. τοὺς κύνας , the dogs ) Undoubtedly he used this appellation often in their presence, Philippians 3:18 , and he now brought it to the recollection of the Philippians; and hence they would more easily understand it than we. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 2:5 . The three members of the following verse correspond, by a retrograde gradation (descending climax), to the three clauses of this verse; so that the dogs are the false apostles and carnal men, who do not trust in Christ, but in the flesh, and are slaves to foul lusts [ utter strangers to true holiness, although exulting in the name of Jews. V. g.], Philippians 3:19 . So the term dogs is applied to ἐβδελυγμένοις , those to be abominated , Revelation 22:15 ; comp. Revelation 21:8 ; or in other words, the abominable , impure ( βδελυκτοὶ , ΜΕΜΙΑΜΜΈΝΟΙς ), Titus 1:16 ; Titus 1:15 , strangers to holiness, Matthew 7:6 ; quite different from Paul, living and dying; for in life they abound to overflowing in the vices of dogs, in filthiness, unchastity, snarling, 2 Peter 2:22 ; Deuteronomy 23:19 (18); Psalms 59:7 ; Psalms 59:16 ; and they are most of all the enemies of the cross of Christ, Philippians 3:18 ; comp. Psalms 22:17 ; Psalms 22:21 : and in death they are dead dogs (by which proverb something of the vilest sort is denoted): comp. Philippians 3:19 . That saying is applicable to these, which is commonly used, Take care of the dog . [32] The Jews considered the Gentiles as dogs; see at Matthew 15:26 ; they are now called dogs, who are unwilling to be the Israel of God. τοὺς κακοὺς ἐργάτας , evil workers ) who do not serve God; comp. 2 Corinthians 11:13 . τὴν κατατομὴν , the concision ) A Paranomasia [See Append.]; for he claims for Christians the glorious name of the circumcision ( περιτομῆς ) in the following verse. The circumcision of the body was now useless, nay hurtful. See κατατέμνω on the prohibition of cutting the flesh, Leviticus 21:5 ; 1 Kings 18:28 . He speaks not without indignation.

[29] Repetition of the same word at the beginnings of several clauses. ED.

[30] See , instead of avoid , which is its consequence. ED.

[31] So as to follow; not as here, See so as to avoid . ED.

[32] Εὐλαβοῦ τὴν κύνα , cave canem , used to be written near the door of ancient houses to guard strangers against the dog kept in the ostium or janua. At Pompeii, “in the house of the tragic poet,” there is wrought in the Mosaic pavement, “Cave canem,” and the figure of a fierce dog. See Gell’s Pomp. ED

Verse 3

Philippians 3:3 . Γὰρ , for ) This gives the reason why in Php 3:2 he separates and banishes the others to such a distance, [ and also why he calls the external circumcision of the flesh only concision. V.g.] ἡ περιτομὴ , the circumcision ) The abstract for the concrete; the true people . πνεύματι , in the spirit ) not in the letter, Romans 2:29 . πνεύματι Θεῷ λατρεύοντες , serving God in the spirit ) So Romans 1:9 . [33] καυχώμενοι , glorying, rejoicing ) This is more than πεποιθότες , trusting, having confidence .

[33] Οὐκ ἐν σαρκὶ , not in the flesh ) in carnal circumcision and origin (stock), ver. 5. V. g.

Verse 4

Philippians 3:4 . Καίπερ ἐγὼ , although I ) The singular is included in the preceding plural: we glory, and I glory, although I , etc.; but because the discourse proceeds from the plural to the singular, I is interposed and is added, because the Philippians had been Gentiles. Paul was of the circumcision. Comp. Revelation 17:8 , note. ἔχων , having ) for the construction depends on those things which go before [34] : Having , not using . εἴτις ἄλλος , if any other ) a word of universal comprehension: other is sweetly redundant; comp. note ad Gregorii Neocaes. Paneg. p. 195. ἐγὼ μᾶλλον , I more ) i.e. ἐγὼ μᾶλλον πέποιθα , I have more ground for being confident . He speaks of his former feeling with a Mimesis [35] of those who gloried in such outward carnalities; see the following verse.

[34] ἐγώ being included in the ἡμεῖς οἱ πεποιθότες , constructed with the verb ἐσμεν . ED.

[35] An allusion, in the way of imitation, to his opponents’ mode of stating their grounds of confidence. ED.

Verse 5

Philippians 3:5 . Περιτομὴ ὀκταήμερος , [36] circumcision on the eighth day ) These heads [of carnal glorying], counted very briefly as it were on the fingers, render the discourse very plain. Moreover, for the sake of brevity, he puts together the abstract and concrete circumcision , a Hebrew: as in Colossians 3:11 . ὀκταήμερος , on the eighth day ) not putting it off until full age. Βενιαμὶν , Benjamin ) son of Rachel, not of the maid-servant. ἐξ Ἑβραίων , of the Hebrews ) not a proselyte, and neither the one parent nor the other being of the Gentiles. Φαρισαῖος , a Pharisee ) of the most rigid description [“of the straitest sect,” Act 26:5 ].

[36] The oldest authorities have περιτομῇ , i.e. Being an eighth day person in respect to my circumcision. So fg Lucif. “circumcisione:” Vulg. “circumcisus octavo die.” ED.

Verse 6

Philippians 3:6 . Διώκων , persecuting ) He formerly thought that he was acting most meritoriously.

Verse 7

Philippians 3:7 . Ἅτινα , those things which ) Referring to the things just now enumerated. κέρδη , gains ) A very comprehensive plural. ἥγημαι , I counted ) A most Christian profession respecting the past, present, and future; extending as far as the 14th verse. διὰ τὸν Χριστὸν , for the sake of Christ ) To these words are to be referred the words following in Philippians 3:8-9 , ἵνα , κ . τ . λ ., that , etc. ζημίαν ) loss .

Verse 8

Philippians 3:8 . Μενοῦν , yea ) There is an amplification of the language, namely, in the employment of this particle, and then by the emphatic addition [ Epitasis . Append.] of synonymous terms; also in the fuller appellation of Christ Himself. καὶ ἡγοῦμαι , even I count ) καὶ , even , intensifies the force of the present tense in ἡγοῦμαι , I count . Righteousness, not only at first, but always throughout the whole career of the saints, is of faith. πάντα , all things ) not only those which I have now mentioned, but all things . διὰ γνώσεως , κ . τ . λ ., for of the knowledge , etc.) Construed with I count [37] , and refer to this, Philippians 3:10-11 , τοῦ γνώναι , that I may know . τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως , the excellency of the knowledge ) Excellency properly belongs to Christ; but when He is known, the knowledge of Him likewise obtains excellency . τοῦ Κυρίου μου , of my Lord ) The appropriation of the [Saviour by the] believer. ἐζημιώθην ) not only I counted them loss , but in reality I cast them away . σκύβαλα ) There is an amplification here in regard to the believer’s self-denial as to all things: ζημία , loss , is incurred with equanimity; σκύβαλα are hastily thrown away, as things not afterwards to be considered worthy either to be touched or looked at. The Hebrew word, פרש , contains an Antanaclasis [38] in relation to the Pharisees; [39] see P. Zornii, T. 2. Opusc. sacr. p. 514. Gataker says: “ σκύβαλον marks out any worthless thing, that is to be cast away, such as the excrements of animals, the dregs and grounds of liquors, the dross of metals, what falls from plants, the refuse of the crops, the bran of meal, the crumbs of the table, the wipings of the hands, which are destined for the dogs. [40] See this very fully in Adversar. misc. posth. cap. 43.” ἵνα , that ) The two things are incompatible, both to retain other things and to win (obtain) Christ. κερδήσω καὶ εὑρεθῶ , that I may win and he found ) Each of the two is antithetical to ζημίαν , loss . He who loses all things, not even excepting himself, wins Christ, and is won in Christ. Christ is his, and he is Christ’s. More still, Paul speaks as if he had not yet won.

[37] On account of the excellency, etc., I count all things loss: not with εἶναι ζημίαν , to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge. ED.

[38] The same word, in the same context, used in a double sense. See Append. ED.

[39] Of whom Paul, ver. 5, had said he was one, a Pharisee , Th. Pharash , in the sense separate: and yet one who counted all else but Christ פֶרֶשׁ , in the sense . ED.

[40] According to the derivation assigned to σκύβαλον , εἰς κύνας βάλλειν , as σκορακίζω , from εἰς κόρακας . ED.

Verse 9

Philippians 3:9 . Εὑρεθῶ ἐν αὐτῷ ) viz. ὤν . μὴ ἔχων , not having ) The words, to suffer loss, to win, to be found, to have , are figurative. The immediate consequence of being, and being found, in Christ, is to have righteousness by faith in Christ. The book מחזור , the collection of prayers for the Jews, has אני ממעשים שולל וערום וצדקתך לבדה היא כסתי , .e. In regard to works I am quite empty and bare, and Thy righteousness alone is my clothing. ἐμὴν , own) The antithesis is, (the righteousness) is of () ; but ἐμὴν without the article serves to indicate oblivion of the past. [41] τὴν ἐκ νόμου , that which is of the law ) Philippians 3:6 ; comp. of , Romans 4:14 . The antithesis is, that which is by faith . διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ ) by the faith of Christ , viz. in Christ. ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει ) [which rests] upon faith .

[41] i.e . A wish to forget his former kind of righteousness, as if not his at all . ED.

Verse 10

Philippians 3:10 . Τοῦ γνῶναι , that I may know ) The genitive, τοῦ , is connected with πίστει , faith; and resumes the mention of τῆς γνώσεως , knowledge , made at Philippians 3:8 , and now to be more fully explained. αὐτὸν ) Him . δύναμιν , the power ) Romans 1:4 . τῆς ἀναστάσεως αὐτοῦ ) It is consonant to the order of the discourse that the verbal noun ἀνάστασις should be taken, not for the resurrection from the dead, which is expressed in Php 3:11 with a change of the word [ ἐξανάστασιν ], but of the rising of Christ, Hebrews 7:14 [The Lord sprang out of Juda], as the verb ἀναστῆσαι is used in Acts 13:32 , where see the note [ ἀνάστησας Ἰησοῦν “quum suscitavit et nobis prœsentem exhibuit; ” adding that this absolute ‘suscitatio’ is distinct from the “suscitatio e mortuis”]. For ἀνάστασις is not always put for the resurrection of the dead, Luke 2:34 [ ἀνάστασιν πολλῶν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ , the spiritual rising again , etc., not their actual resurrection], ( Luk 7:16 ); Lamentations 3:63 ; Zephaniah 3:8 ; and truly the very rising or coming of the Messiah has its own power , on the knowledge of which believers depend, 2 Peter 1:16 . τὴν κοινωνίαν , the fellowship ) Galatians 2:20 . συμμορφούμενος , being conformed [“made conformable”]) The nominative case after the infinitive is frequent with the Greeks, although here it may be construed with the following finite verb [ καταντήσω ]. Believers are conformed by faith. Imitation is not excluded, but most assuredly follows after [conformation by faith], Galatians 3:1 , note; comp. σύμμορφον , conformed, fashioned like , Philippians 3:21 .

Verse 11

Philippians 3:11 . Εἴπως , if by any means, in any way ) This denotes the struggle of Paul’s faith; so, εἰ , if , Philippians 3:12 . καταντήσω , I may attain ) He gradually passes from the figure of loss and gain to that of a race . Καταντᾷν is to come up to , the very act of attaining and gaining possession. ἐξανάστασιν [42] ΤῶΝ ΝΕΚΡῶΝ ) i.e. ἀνάστασιν ( Χριστοῦ ) ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν , the resurrection (of Christ) from the dead; comp. Romans 1:4 , note [ 2Ti 2:11 ]; for the style of Paul ascribes ἀνάστασιν to Christ; ἘΞΑΝΆΣΤΑΣΙΝ to Christians. [43] But the resurrection of Christ and our resurrection are considered as one resurrection, by reason of the κοινωνία , fellowship . After the mention of the resurrection, he brings in some things suited to his own present state, and interweaves the rest [of the discussion of the resurrection] at Philippians 3:20-21 .

[42] Τὴν ἐκ is read by ABD( Δ ) fg Vulg., Iren. 309, Lucif. 166. Τῶν ἐκ is read by G. Τῶν by Memph. and Rec. Text. ED.

[43] This fact ought to have led Beng. to take ἀναστάσεως above of the resurrection , not the mere appearing of Christ. The phrase, “power of His resurrection,” expresses a parallel idea to Ephesians 1:19-20 , “The exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe , according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead .” Comp. Colossians 2:12 ; Colossians 3:1 ; Romans 6:5 . The same power is needed to quicken the soul as was needed to raise Jesus from the dead. To have that power (the Holy Spirit) in us, is a pledge of our hereafter attaining the ἐξανάστασις , Romans 8:11 . This word probably implies the rising of the saints first out of the rest of the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:23 ; Revelation 20:5 . Ἐξανάστασις is nowhere else found in N. T. ED.

The Germ. Vers., following the decision of the 2d Ed., adopts the reading τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν , which was reckoned among those not to be approved in the larger Ed. E. B.

Verse 12

Philippians 3:12 . Οὐχʼ ὅτι , not that , not as though ) In his highest fervour, the apostle does not let go his spiritual sobriety. ἔλαβον , I had received [ attained ]) the prize. τετελείωμαι ) τέλειος and τετελειωμένος differ. The former is applied to the man fully fit for running, Philippians 3:15-16 ; the latter to him who is nearest to the prize, at the very point of receiving [ attaining ] it. [44] καὶ καταλάβω ) Καὶ , even , is intensive; for καταλαμβάνω , to apprehend (comprehendere), is more than λαμβάνω , to take hold of (prehendere): λαμβάνειν , to take hold of , is done at the moment when the last step has been made; καταλαμβάνειν , to apprehend , is done when the man is in full possession. There is an example of one “on the very point of receiving” [attaining] at 2 Timothy 4:7-8 [Psalms 73:23 ; Psa 73:28 ]. ἐφʼ ᾧ , since [but Engl. Vers. that for which ]) The perception of the power of Christ influences the Christian. καὶ κατελήφθην , I have been also apprehended ) by a heavenly calling, Philippians 3:14 ; Acts [ Act 9:6 ] Acts 26:14 ; Act 26:19 ; 2 Corinthians 5:14 . Christ, the author and finisher [consummator], when He consummated His own ‘race’ of faith, also consummates His people, Hebrews 12:2 ; where the very appellation, ἀρχηγοῦ , prince ( author ), implies His relation to His followers. Καὶ , also , is again intensive, so that the force of the first aorist [“I am apprehended”] may be observed denoting the present state of the apostle.

[44] Τέλειος means often not absolutely perfect , but one having attained the full limit of stature, strength , etc., which constitute the man’s τέλος , opposed to νεοι or παῖδες , youths or children. See 1 Corinthians 2:6 . So Paul here, ver. 15, claims to be τέλειος , fully established in the things of God, no longer a babe in Christ. Yet in ver. 12 he denies that he is as yet τετελειωμένος (a race-course expression), i.e. crowned with the garland of victory, his course completed , and perfection absolutely reached . See Trench Syn. ED.

Verse 13

Philippians 3:13 . Ἀδελφοὶ , brethren ) He makes his confession in a familiar manner. ἐγὼ , I ) Others might easily think this of Paul. οὐ λογίζομαι , I count not ) It is proper for the saints, and conducive to their activity, to consider themselves inferior to what they really are.

Verse 14

Philippians 3:14 . Ἓν , one thing ) viz. I do . τὰ ὀπίσω , the things that are behind ) even the very part of the course that has been finished. ἐπεκτεινόμενος ) that is literally, extending myself over . The eye goes before (outstrips) and draws on the hand, the hand goes before (outstrips) and draws on the foot. κατὰ σκοπὸν , along, after [towards] the mark ) straightforward. διώκω , I follow [I press]) It is used as a neuter verb, as in Luke 17:23 . βραβεῖον , the prize ) the crown of life. ἄνω , [ high ] above ) Philippians 3:20 .

Verse 15

Philippians 3:15 . Τέλειοι , perfect ) Philippians 3:12 , note. τοῦτο ) this one thing , Philippians 3:14 . ἑτέρως ) otherwise than perfect (for the person is changed, let us be minded, ye are minded ). He does not, however, say ἕτερον or ἄλλο [ φρονεῖτε ; which would mean difference or disagreement of mind]: nor does he mean aught of “minding earthly things,” Philippians 3:19 . Comp. also Galatians 5:10 . καὶ τοῦτο ) even this , which we, that are perfect, mind, expressed in Philippians 3:14 . ὁ Θεὸς , God ) even though I do not write it. ὑμῖν , to you ) striving at perfection. ἀποκαλύψει , will reveal ) Ephesians 1:17 .

Verse 16

Philippians 3:16 . Πλὴν , nevertheless ) The expectation of a new revelation should not make you yield the position which you now firmly hold. εἰς ὃ ) in that, to which we have attained. ἐφθάσαμεν , we have attained ) at a greater or less distance. They are admonished in order that the others should act with them that are perfect . στοιχεῖν , to walk ) The infinitive, mildly for the imperative; Romans 12:15 . κανόνι ) [45] Al. Boern. Clar. Colb . 7. Copt . both the Hilarys , [46] leave out this word; Facundus too, or, by comparing Pelagius, even Sedulius . The clauses thus correspond, τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν , and τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν . Nor even do we follow the Latin Vulgate copies, which transpose the clauses, Covelianus 2 following them in this, since ἐφθάσαμεν and στοιχεῖν more nearly cohere with one another, and στοιχεῖν , which is metaphorical, is explained by the φρονεῖν which follows after. The word κανόνι seems evidently to have been brought hither from Galatians 6:16 . τὸ ) There is here an Asyndeton. τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν , to mind the same thing ) He returns to this topic, ch. Philippians 4:2 .

[45] AB Memph. Theb. read only τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν : Hilar. 1097, “in ipso ingrediamur.” DG fg (‘convenire,’ for στοιχεῖν ) read τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν , τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν . Vulg., with Rec. Text, retains κανόνι , but transposes the Order. Rec. Text has τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν κανόνι τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν . ED.

[46] Viz., Hilary the deacon, and Hilary of Poitiers. ED.

Verse 17

Philippians 3:17 . Συμμιμηταὶ , imitators [ followers ] together with ) Paul himself was an imitator [ follower ] of Christ; the Philippians, therefore, were to be imitators [ followers ] together with him . σκοπεῖτε , regard [ mark ]) with unanimity. οὕτως , so ) The inferior examples of friends of the Cross of Christ ought to be tried by the standard of those that are superior and nearer to perfection.

Verse 18

Philippians 3:18 . [47] Περιπατοῦσιν , walk ) before your eyes. πολλάκις , often ) There ought to be a constant demonstration. κλαίων , weeping ) We may suppose that Paul added this word, after he had moistened the epistle with his tears; in joy, there is still sorrow, Romans 9:2 . τοὺς ἐχθροὺς τοῦ σταυροῦ , the enemies of the Cross ) Galatians 6:12 ; Galatians 6:14 .

[47] πολλοὶ , many ) To follow many in the way of imitation is dangerous. V.g.

Verse 19

Philippians 3:19 . Ὧν , whose ) The nominative is implied; comp. οἷ , which presently after occurs and is dependent on περιπατοῦσιν , walk . τὸ τέλος , the end ) This statement is put before the others, that what follows may be read with the greater horror. It will be seen in the end. [ The end, to which the plans of every man tend, shows truly what is his condition . V. g.] ἀπώλεια , destruction ) The antithesis is σωτῆρα , Saviour , Philippians 3:20 . ὧνθεὸςκοιλία , whose god is their belly ) Romans 16:18 . The antithesis is Κύριον , Lord , Philippians 3:20 ; and τὸ σῶμα , body , Philippians 3:21 , as 1 Corinthians 6:13 . Their belly is sleek, our body is wasted; the fashion [ σχῆμα out of υετασχηματίσει ] of both will be changed. ἡ δόξα , glory ) The previous, God , and glory , here are set down as parallel; and therefore δόξα , glory , in this passage denotes a god , or glorying concerning a god. Hosea 4:7 , LXX., τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν εἰς ἀτιμίαν θησομαι , “I will turn their glory to dishonour.” αἰσχύνη , shame ) It corresponds to the Hebrew word בשת , for example, Habakkuk 2:10 . Comp. respecting this prophet, the note at Colossians 2:23 ; likewise ערוה below, ἡ κοιλία , belly. But at the same time the word alludes to ah idol, to which בשת , αἰσχύνη , , corresponds. The LXX. have sometimes αἰσχύνη , , for ערוה , ; therefore in this passage Paul seems to denote τὴν κατατομὴν , concision, to indicate, that the now was not , but a subject for . So the and are closely allied. They worship that of which they ought to be ashamed, and they will be miserably ashamed of it at the proper time, although even now they want frankness. [48] ΟἹ ΤᾺ ἘΠΊΓΕΙΑ ΦΡΟΝΟῦΝΤΕς , who mind earthly things ) The antithesis is at the beginning of the following verse.

[48] Beng. seems to mean, Even now they deprive themselves of that Gospel freedom which they who place no trust in carnal ordinances enjoy. ED.

Verse 20

Philippians 3:20 . Ἡμῶν , our ) whom you have as a type or example [ Php 3:17 ]. γὰρ , for ) This gives the reason why the Philippians ought to imitate them. τὸ πολίτευμα ) the community, country, city , or state: for ὑπάρχει , has its existence , follows. Therefore it is the antecedent to ἐξ οὗ , from which . [49] σωτῆρα , the Saviour ) This furnishes the ground on which we rest our expectation, 2 Timothy 4:18 . Κυρίον , the Lord ) now exalted, ch. Philippians 2:11 . This furnishes the confirmation of this expectation.

[49] τόπον , implied in οὐρανοῖς , might seem otherwise to be the word to which οὗ refers. ED.

Verse 21

Philippians 3:21 . Ὃς μετασχηματίσει , who will transform ) not only will give salvation , but also glory; 2 Timothy 2:10 . τῆς ταπεινώσεως , of humiliation ) which is produced by the Cross, Philippians 3:18 , ch. Philippians 4:12 , Philippians 2:17 ; 2 Corinthians 4:10 . דכא is in the LXX., ταπείνωσις , Psalms 90:3 . κατὰ , ording to) construe with will transform. The work of the Lord’s omnipotence. τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ δύνασθαι , working efficacy of His power [Engl. Vers. to the working, whereby He is able]) The Infinitive instead of the noun. [His] power will be brought forth into action. καὶ ) ; not merely to make our body conformed to His. τὰ πάντα , things) even death.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Philippians 3". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.