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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Philippians 4

Verse 1

Philippians 4:1 . Ὥστε , therefore ) Such expectations being set before us. ἀγαπητοὶ , beloved ) This word is twice used with great sweetness; first as at the beginning of the period; and then, for strengthening the exhortation. ἐπιπόθητοι , yearned after, longed for ) so he speaks of them in their absence, ch. Philippians 1:8 . στέφανός μου , my crown ) Philippians 2:16 . οὕτω ) so , stand ye, as ye now stand; comp. οὕτω , 1 Corinthians 9:24 , note. στήκετε , stand ) Philippians 1:27 .

Verse 2

Philippians 4:2 . Παρακαλῶ , I [ beseech ], exhort ) He uses this word twice, as if exhorting each of them apart face to face, and doing it with the utmost impartiality [implied by repeating the like word to each separately].

Verse 3

Philippians 4:3 . Ναὶ , yea ) an agreeable [conciliatory, affectionate] particle, Philem., Philippians 4:20 ; Heb. נא . It is put, as it were, into the mouth of the man who is being besought, so that, upon merely pronouncing it, he may give his assent. σύζυγε γνήσιε , [genuine] okefellow, or without disguise) ὁ καὶσύζυγος , persons together, properly in marriage, and then in other things; so, however, as that the word is applied to two, and denotes some degree of parity; γνήσιος also is of the common gender. Some say, that Paul had at one time wife, but we are convinced, on good grounds, that he is here addressing a man. He had many συνεργοὺς , workers; not many συζύγους , , first Barnabas, afterwards Silas; and he seems to address the latter in this passage; for Silas had been his among the Philippians themselves, Acts [ Act 15:40 ] Acts 16:19 . [, as I am more inclined to think, Epaphroditus. V. g.] He was also [like Paul] at all events a minister, whom Paul here entreats. συλλαμβάνου αὐταῖς , those) that thou mayest maintain harmony among them, by removing impediments. αἵτινες , ) It is proper to afford help to a person who once stood well, even when he is wavering. συνήθλησάν μοι , with me) They seem to have been involved in that danger, which is described at Acts 16:19 . μετὰ , ) This word depends on συνήθλησαν , have laboured together. Κλήμεντος , ) They had imitated the great men, among whom was of distinguished excellence. The women were thus highly favoured and honoured. τὰ ὀνόματα , names) though not here mentioned. The allusion is to the victorious competitors in the public games, whose were openly read and became famous. ἐν βίβλῳ ζωῆς , the book of life) viz. , or, pray may be. The optative must be often supplied, Philippians 4:23 . They seem to have been already by that time , for we generally follow such with earnest wishes [50] of that sort. Who would not help the surviving companions of these departed ones, ול ? [51] Being associated with those who have died with honour, is to younger survivors a great recommendation to him who thus, as it were, stands in the middle place between those who are dead and those who are alive; for example, it formed a recommendation of Timothy to the Philippians, because he had been the intimate friend of Paul. [ Those have also excellent materials for concord, of whom some have good reason to think others (who have good reason to think of one another that they are) partakers of eternal life , 1 Peter 3:7 . V. g.]

[50] Wishes that they may be found among the saved, not prayers , which are contrary to Scripture. ED.

[51] Buxtorf, de Abbrev. Hebr. p. 84, writes, “ זִכְרו ̇ &#כל לִבְרָכָה ו״ל memoria ejus sit in benedictione (may his memory be blessed). De pluribus זִכְרו ̇ נָם memoria ipsorum (their memory): nomini piorum virorum defunctorum subjici solet: aut in genere sapientum vel Rabbinorum commemorationi.” The ל and ז are the initials used as the abbreviation for the whole words. ED.

Verse 4

Philippians 4:4 . Χαίρετε ἐν Κυρίῳ · πάντοτε , πάλιν ἐρῶ , χαίρετε , rejoice in the Lord: again I say, always rejoice ) The particle, again , requires an Epitasis, [52] as in Galatians 1:9 , where the Epitasis is in παρελάβετε , comp. Philippians 4:8 ; so the Galatians are more strongly bound, because [not only Paul preached , Philippians 4:8 , but] they also received or took up the Gospel which was preached. Add Galatians 5:3 , where I testify makes an Epitasis to λέγω , I say , Philippians 4:2 ; and παντί , to every man , has an Epitasis to unto you , Philippians 4:2 ; and ὀφειλέτης , he is a debtor , to shall profit you nothing , Philippians 4:2 : here the word, always , forms such an Epitasis with rejoice ye , repeated. At the beginning of the verse, it is said, rejoice ye in the Lord , as ch. Philippians 3:1 . Some join πάντοτε with the preceding words.

[52] See Append.

Verse 5

Philippians 4:5 . Τὸ ἐπιεικὲς , your kindly spirit [æquitas [53] ]) Joy in the Lord produces true kindliness in regard to our neighbour, and proper unconcern [freedom from over-carefulness] about one’s own affairs, Philippians 4:6 ; likewise true candour towards men and God Himself: and this candour is expressed by the words, γνωσθήτω , let it be known, i.e. in acts, and, γνωριζέσθω , let (your requests) be made known , viz. by prayer, Philippians 4:6 . Moroseness is the companion of sadness and care. γνωσθήτω , let be known ) from the thing itself. There are some who cherish gentleness (æquitas, a yielding and kindly spirit ) in their mind, and wish no ill to the unkindly, but yet they conceal their benignity; these do not act rightly. πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις , to all men ) good and bad, or the unkindly, ch. Philippians 2:15 , even that the wicked may be gained. No one is so harsh in spirit as not to show himself kindly to some one, from sympathy, fear, hope of gain, emulation, etc. The believer does this to all. [ But if, among all men, you know even one who has experienced the contrary conduct at your hand, see that even yet you show to him kindliness. V. g.] ὁ Κυρίος , the Lord ) Christ the Judge, favourable to you, but executing vengeance upon the wicked. This consideration produces kindliness; James 5:9 .

[53] Wahl, Clavis , N. 1, renders it ‘humanitas,’ kindness and gentleness towards others . He adds, others interpret it ‘modestia.’ moderation . Beng. has ‘æquitas,’ which includes both fairness and kindliness towards others, and equanimity in one’s own mind. Th. εἴκω , I yield . ED.

Verse 6

Philippians 4:6 . Μηδὲν μεριμνᾶτε , be careful for nothing ) When others do not treat you with kindliness , when different things are pressing upon you, be not over-careful, rather pray. Care and prayer, [ and likewise care and joy . V. g.] are more opposed to one another than fire and water. ἐν παντὶ ) in every thing . μετὰ εὐχαριστίας , with thanksgiving ) This is the best characteristic of a soul freed from cares, and of prayer joined with resignation of the human will. Accordingly peace follows, Philippians 4:7 ; and thanksgiving and peace are united together also in Colossians 3:15 . All things are thereby safe and tranquil. τὰ αἰτήματα , requests ) A thing sought , the subject δεήσεως , of supplication . γνωριζέσθω , be made known ) Those who veil, stifle, and restrain their desires, with preposterous shame and distrusting modesty, as if they were too small or too great, are tortured with cares. Those who lay them before God with a generous and filial confidence, are freed from difficulties. The Psalms abound in confessions of that sort. πρὸς τὸν Θεόν , to God ) Even though often men should be ignorant of them, and you should modestly conceal them from your fellowmen. Paul had not even asked aught from the Philippians. [ But the exercise of unaffected candour towards men, Philippians 4:5 , and here towards GOD, is perfectly consistent . V. g.]

Verse 7

Philippians 4:7 . Ἡ εἰρήνη , the peace ) Peace , free from all anxiety [ the companion of joy; comp. Philippians 4:9 . V. g.] ἡ ὑπερέχουσα πάντα νοῦν ) that exceedeth all understanding , and therefore every request; Ephesians 3:20 . φρουρήσει ) will keep; it will defend you against all inroads (assaults) and anxieties, and will correct whatever is wanting to the suitableness (dexteritati, to the spiritual skilfulness, happiness of expression ) of your desires, Romans 8:26-27 . καρδίας νοήματα , hearts thoughts ) The heart is the seat of the thoughts .

Verse 8

Philippians 4:8 . Τὸ ) The summing up. In ch. Philippians 3:1 , τὸ λοιπὸν concludes the particular admonition to joy; and here τὸ λοιπὸν concludes the general exhortation to every duty. ὅσα , whatsoever things ) in general. “ Α , Those things which , Philippians 4:9 , specially in regard to Paul. ἀληθῆ ἔπαινος , true praise) Eight nouns, in two rows of four members each, of which the one has regard to duty, the other to the commendation of it. If we compare both rows of nouns with one another, the first noun corresponds to the first, the second to the second, the third to the third, the fourth to the fourth. It is a manifold and elegant Chiasmus, comprehending the duties of children, parents, husbands, and wives, and the other (relative) duties. ἀληθῆ , true ) in words. σεμνὰ , honest ) in action. δίκαια , just ) towards others. ἁγνὰ , [pure] chaste ) in respect to yourselves. προσφιλῆ , loveable, lovely ) προσφιλῆ συναγωγῇ σεαυτὸν ποίει , make thyself a person to be loved by the synagogue , Sir 4:7 . ὁ σοφὸς ἐν λόγῳ ἑαυτὸν προσφιλῆ ποιήσει , the wise man will make himself a person to be loved in what he says , Sir 20:12 (13). ὅσα εὔφημα , whatsoever things are of good report ) προσφιλῆ , lovely or loveable , face to face: εὔφημα , of good report , is used with respect to the absent: comp. Philippians 1:27 . ἀρετὴ , virtue ) Paul uses this word only in this passage. It refers to δίκαια , whatsoever things are just . For every virtue is included in righteousness , ἐν δὲ δικαιοσύνσυλλήβδην πᾶσʼ ἀρετή ἐστι . ἔπαινος , praise ) even in those things which belong less to your neighbour than to yourselves. ταῦτα λογίζεσθε , have respect or regard to these things ) This refers to the things that are true , and which have been practised or are now practised even by others, that we may approve, remember, help forward, promote (advance), imitate such things. We should not only do them when they fall in our way, but also take care, beforehand, that they be done. Ταῦτα πράσσετε , do these things , follows with Asyndeton, which [the absence of a connecting particle between ταῦτα λογίζεσθε and ταῦτα πράσσετε ] denotes that the one kind of good things [viz. those in Php 4:8 ] does not differ from the other [those in Php 4:9 ].

Verse 9

Philippians 4:9 . Ἃ καὶ ) Those things which also [But Engl. Vers. “which ye have both learned and,” etc.] Καὶ , also , connects this verse with the following words, not with the preceding words. He makes a transition from what is general ( ὅσα , whatsoever ) to what regards Paul. There would have been place for the καὶ , and , before ἃ , which [ i.e. but for the Asyndeton], the word καὶ , also , still remaining [ i.e. in order to connect this ver. with what follows bearing on Paul in particular]. ἠκούσατε , ye have heard ) although you have not yet sufficiently ( παρελάβετε ) received them. εἴδετε , ye have seen ) although ye have not as yet sufficiently learned them ( ἐμάθετε ). [54] ΘΕῸς Τῆς ΕἸΡΉΝΗς , the God of peace ) not only the peace of God, Philippians 4:7 , but God Himself.

[54] καὶΘεὸς , and the God ) This refers also to ( think on ) have respect or regard to ( λογίζεσθε ).

Verse 10

Philippians 4:10 . Μεγάλως , greatly ) This would scarcely have pleased a Stoic. Paul had large affections, but in the Lord . ἤδη ποτὲ , now at length ) He shows that the gift of the Philippians had been expected by him; with what feeling of mind, see Philippians 4:11 ; Philippians 4:17 , now , not too late at length , not too soon. The time was the suitable time. Heb. ואת הפעם . ἀνεθάλετε , have flourished again or revived) as trees: comp. the same metaphor, ch. Philippians 1:11 , fruit: ἀναθάλλω is here a neuter verb, on which the infinitive φρονεῖν , think [care] depends, by supplying κατὰ , respect to; you have flourished again, in the very fact of the exertion which you have made. The deputation from the Philippians seems to have been appointed in Spring, from which, accordingly, the metaphor is taken. The phrase, wanted opportunity [referring to the past time] agrees with Winter. τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ ) The accusative τὸ is governed by φρονεῖν ; τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ is said, as τὰ παρʼ ὑμῶν , Philippians 4:18 . ἐφʼ ᾧ , ) proportion, or to that which, according to the fact that: ἐπιθεραπεία . [55] ἨΚΑΙΡΕῖΣΘΕ ) ΚΑΙΡῸς , by Synecdoche, denotes all ability and opportunity.

[55] See App. An after mitigation or qualification of the previous words by way of conciliating the readers. ED.

Verse 11

Philippians 4:11 . Καθʼ ὑστέρησιν ) in respect of want . ἐγὼ , I ) in so much adversity. ἔμαθον ) I have learned , from on high, Hebrews 5:8 . There is a direct Chiasmus in the four words, I have learned, I know, I am instructed, I am able . The phrase I am instructed is added (as an expansion of the idea) to I have learned; I am able , to I know . Often words referring to the understanding infer also power in the will. ἐν οἷς εἰμὶ ) in what circumstances I am , in my present state, Hebrews 13:5 . αὐτάρκης ) content .

Verse 12

Philippians 4:12 . Ταπεινοῦσθαι , to be abased ) in dress and food. περισσεύειν , to abound ) even in relieving others. The order of the words is presently inverted, so that the transition from few to many, and from many to few, may be marked. ἐν παντὶ , in everything [Engl. Ver. everywhere ]) A Symperasma, [56] as all things , Philippians 4:13 . ἐν πᾶσι , in the case of all ) in respect of all men [Engl. Ver. In all things ]. μεμύημαι ) I am trained (initiated) in a secret discipline unknown to the world. καὶ χορτάζεσθαι , both to be full ) construed with I am initiated . χορτάζεσθαι καὶ πεινᾷν , to be full and to be hungry ) for one day. περισσεύειν καὶ ὑστερεῖσθαι , to abound and to suffer need ) for a longer time. The repeated mention of the abounding is consonant with the condition of Paul, who then abounded in consequence of the liberality of the Philippians. Abasement had preceded, and need would perhaps follow. He who can relieve others has ample means and high position (amplitudinem), to which abasement is opposed.

[56] See App. It is the comprehending in a brief summary what has been previously stated.

Verse 14

Philippians 4:14 . Συγκοινωνήσαντες ) since you have communicated (imparted) to me in my affliction of your resources. It is indicated by the compound verb, that different persons also had communicated ( κοινωνήσαντας ) in a different way. [57]

[57] σὺν implying they joined together in doing so. ED.

Verse 15

Philippians 4:15 . Οἴδατε , ye know ) He shows that he was mindful even of former kindnesses: you know signifies remembrance in respect of the Philippians; knowledge , in respect of other churches. Φιλιππήσιοι , Philippians ) The proper name indicates an antithesis to the churches of other towns. ἐν ἀρχῇ , in the beginning ) of the Gospel preaching in your case. He had gone forth from them some time ago. ὅτε , when ) Join this with the following words, no , etc. οὐδεμία , no ) They might have said, We will do it, if others have done it: now their praise is greater on that account; that of the others, less. ἐκκλησία , church ) Therefore the church of Philippi sent to Paul in common. εἰς λόγον , as far as concerns ) This is a limitation. δόσεως , of giving, of what has been given ) on your part. λήψεως , of receiving, of what has been received ) on mine. μόνοι , alone ) in a manner worthy of praise. He hereby shows his need.

Verse 16

Philippians 4:16 . Καὶ ἅπαξ καὶ δὶς ) Δὶς , an ordinal member in this passage; i.e. not once and twice, which would be equivalent to thrice , but once and again, so that under δὶς , twice , ἅπαξ , once , is comprehended. So 1 Thessalonians 2:18 .

Verse 17

Philippians 4:17 . Οὐχʼ ὅτι , not that ) He explains why he uses many words. ἐπιζητῶ , I seek ) having welcomed your kindness. εἰς λόγον ὑμῶν ) [ to your account ] in respect to you .

Verse 18

Philippians 4:18 . Ἀπέχω ) The apostle’s receipt. [58] περισσεύω , I abound ) Behold the contented and grateful mind! τὰ παρʼ ὑμῶν , the things ( which came ) from you ) They had sent money or clothes and what might be serviceable. ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας , the odour of a sweet smell ) He describes their conduct by a beautiful figure. θυσίαν , a sacrifice ) Hebrews 13:16 .

[58] ‘Apocha’ may either be his acknowledgment of having received in full the debt of kindness due to him from them, or else Beng. uses ἀποχὴ as Epictetus for forbearance , moderation in desires. In the ‘apocha’ there is a direct allusion to the ἀπέχω of the text. ED.

Verse 19

Philippians 4:19 . Ὁ δὲ Θεός μου , but my God ) who will recompense what is given to His servant. In Php 4:19 this particular statement regarding the liberality of the Philippians is concluded by the word δὲ , but; but in Php 4:20 the conclusion of the whole of this joyous passage is made by δὲ , but [‘ now .’] πληρώσει ) may God supply, nay, He will fully supply . [ We may perceive that this act of kindness on the part of the Philippians was indeed excellently laid out, if even it only produced this prayer of the apostle . V. g.] χρείαν , need ) As you have supplied and relieved my need, what is empty of yours will not remain empty [it shall be filled , πληρώσει Θεός ]. ἐν δόξῃ , in glory ) This should be referred to the whole sentence. There are riches in glory , glorious riches, immediately at hand; then besides, God will fully supply in glory, i.e. gloriously.

Verse 20

Philippians 4:20 . Ἡ δόξα , glory ) in return for His gift, 2 Corinthians 9:15 . The doxology flows from the joy that pervades the whole epistle.

Verse 21

Philippians 4:21 . Πάντα ἁγίον , every saint ) individually. So presently in Philippians 4:22 , All the saints . καὶ οἱ , and the , viz. saints , so called in a wide sense. Therefore, brethren , Philippians 4:21 , may rather be understood of the Jews , (comp. Act 28:21 ), and these too believers. [59]

[59] Bengel, J. A. (1860). Vol. 4 : Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (J. Bryce, Trans.) (119 156). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Philippians 4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.