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by John Eadie
THE EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL TO THE PHILIPPIANS
Based on the Greek Text
John Eadie, D.D., LL.D.
Rev. W. Young, M.A., Glasgow
I HAVE little to add to the explanations made in the prefaces to my previous Commentaries on the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians. My object is still the same, however far I may fall short of realizing my own ideal the development and illustration of the great apostle's thoughts, as they are expressed in his “weighty and powerful” letters. I humbly trust, that through a prolonged intimacy with his genius and style, my “profiting may appear to all.” For one forms a gradual and happy acquaintance with the peculiarities of his mind and language through careful and continuous observation and study; just as, had we lived in those early times, we should have grown familiar, from being much in his company, with his gait, voice, features, and dress. While he writes after the same general pattern as do the other sacred penmen of the New Testament, he has an unmistakeable type of his own, has his own favourite turns and points, his own recurring modes of putting an argument or giving edge to an appeal, of rebutting an objection, or going off by some sudden suggestion into a digression or parenthesis. While these special features may be recognized in all his epistles, they occur naturally in a letter like that to the Philippians, which is thrown off without any steady or definite aim, and where neither designed exposition nor reproof forms the burden of the communication.
The first question then is What is the precise meaning of these sentences which the apostle wrote to the church in Philippi? or what is the sense which the church in that city would most naturally ascribe to them? It is to be supposed that they understood the document, and our effort is simply to place ourselves in their intellectual or spiritual position. We seek to comprehend the epistle by a careful analysis of its clauses, an anxious survey of the context, and a cautious comparison of similar idioms and usages; while through a profound sympathy with the writer, we seek to penetrate into his mind, and be carried along with him in those mental processes which, as they create the contents of the composition, impart to it its character and singularity. Our knowledge of Greek is perfect only in so far as it enables us to attach the same ideas to his words, which the apostle intended to convey by them. Every means must be employed to secure this unity of intelligence every means which the progress of philological science places within our reach. At the same time, there is much which no grammatical law can fix, for the meaning of a particle is often as much a matter of aesthetics as of philology. The citation of a grammatical canon, in such cases, often proves only the possibility of one meaning out of many, but does not decide on any one with certainty; while reliance on such isolated proof is apt to degenerate into mere subtileness and refinement. The exegesis, or the ascertainment of the course of thought, must determine many minute questions, not against grammar, but in harmony with its spirit and laws. Contextual scrutiny and grammatical legislation have a happy reactionary influence, and any attempt to dissever them must tend to produce one-sided and unsatisfactory interpretation.
But the meaning of the epistle to those who originally received it being ascertained, the second question is What are the value and signification of the same writing for us? What was simply personal between Paul and Philippi was so far temporary, though it does suggest lessons of permanent interest. But believing that the apostle was inspired, I accept his dogmatic and ethical teaching as divine truth truth derived from God, and by God's own impulse and revelation communicated to the churches. This unreserved acceptance of scriptural truth is not at all hostile to the free spirit of scientific investigation. But it is wholly contrary to such a belief, and at variance with what I hold to be the origin and purpose of the New Testament, to regard the apostle's theology as made up of a series of Jewish theories, not always clearly developed or skilfully combined and adjusted; or to treat it as the speculations of an earnest and inquisitive mind, which occasionally lost itself among “deep things,” and mistook its modified and relative views for universal and absolute truth. What are called “St. Paul's opinions,” are conceived, worded, or presented by a conscious mind, according to its own habits and structure; but they are in themselves enunciations of divine truth, in and through the Spirit of God, for all ages; while the private matters mixed up with them show, that inspiration did not lift a man above what is natural, that divine guidance did not repress the instincts of a human temperament, check the genial outburst of emotion, or bar the record of mere impressions about future and unrevealed events, such as the alternatives of the apostle's own release or martyrdom.
With such convictions, and under this broad light, I have endeavoured to examine this epistle; and “my heart's desire and prayer to God is,” that He who “gave the Word,” and “hath given us an understanding that we may know Him that is true,” may bless this honest and earnest effort to expound a portion of the “lively oracles.” The love of the truth is homage to Him who shows Himself as the Spirit of Truth, while He is coming into His heritage as the Spirit of Love. On the reception and diffusion of the truth in no narrow spirit, and in no cold and crystallized formulas, but in all the breadth and living power with which Scripture contains and reveals it, depend what so many good men are now sighing for-the reunion of the churches and the conversion of the world.
13 LANSDOWNE CRESCENT, GLASGOW,
THE LITERATURE OF THE EPISTLE
I. Philippi, and the Introduction of the Gospel
How the course of the apostle was divinely shaped, so that it brought him to Philippi, is stated in Acts 16:6-12: “Now, when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they, passing by Mysia, came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore, loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next. day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.” The apostle, during his second great missionary journey, had gone through a large portion of Asia Minor, and wished to extend his tour into proconsular Asia. But a curb, which he durst not resist, was laid upon him, though its precise object he might not be able at the moment to conjecture. The Holy Ghost, in forbidding him to preach in Asia, meant to turn his steps towards Europe. But he and his colleagues reached Mysia, and when they made an effort to pass into Bithynia, they were suddenly stopped on the frontier, for the “Spirit of Jesus” suffered them not to enter. This double check must have warned them of some ultimate purpose. Passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas, but not to labour, as they might have anticipated, in a city surrounded by the scenes of so many classical associations. The divine leading had so shut up their path as to bring them to the seaport from which they were to set sail for a new region, and for a novel enterprise. As Peter had been instructed and prepared by a vision to go to the house of a Roman soldier, so by a similar apparition Paul was beckoned across the AEgean sea to Europe. The low coasts of the Western world might be dimly seen by him under the setting sun; the spiritual wants of that country, still unvisited by any evangelist, must have pressed upon his mind; the anxious ponderings of the day prepared him for the vision of the night, when before him “there stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia and help us.” He was now in a condition to respond to the prayer, for a narrow sea was the only barrier between him and the shores of northern Greece. The object of the vision could not be mistaken, and the supernatural limitations set to previous inland journeys would now be comprehended. The prediction had been verified in the apostle and his colleagues “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not, I will lead them in paths that they have not known;” and the promise, too, was now fulfilled “I will make darkness light before thee, and crooked things straight,” for the vision so impressed them that they were “assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” No time was lost-they loosed from Troas; the wind was fair-no weary tacking, no idle flapping of the sails in a calm; a steady southern breeze urged them through the current that rushes from the Dardanelles; they passed the island of Imbros, running “with a straight course to Samothracia,” and cast anchor the same night, in the smooth water of its northern shore. Half the voyage had been made, and next day, after skirting the isle of Thasos, they arrived at Neapolis, a harbour that seems to have stood in such a relation to Philippi as Ostia to Rome, Cenchrea to Corinth, Seleucia to Antioch, and Port-Glasgow, according to the original intentions of its founders, to Glasgow. When, at a subsequent period, Paul recrossed from Philippi to Troas, the voyage occupied five days; but now, “the King's business required haste,” and to speed it, “by His power He brought in the South Wind.” The historian briefly adds, “and from thence to Philippi;” that is, along a path ten miles in length, ascending first a low ridge of hills, and then leading down to the city and the great plain between Haemus and Pangaeus, where their last battle was fought and lost by the republican leaders of Rome. After a sojourn of “certain days,” the apostle and his companions went out to an oratory on the side of the river Gangites, and met with a few pious Jewish women and proselytes “which resorted thither.” This humble spot was the scene of Paul's first preaching in Europe; but the divine blessing was vouchsafed, and the heart of Lydia was opened as she listened “unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” It was “a man of Macedonia” that invited the apostle across into Europe; but his first convert was a woman of Thyatira, in Asia. The heart of a proselyte, who must have been an anxious inquirer before she relinquished Paganism, was in a more propitious state for such a change than either Jew or heathen, as it was neither fettered by the bigotry of the one, nor clouded by the ignorance of the other. The dispossession of a female slave, “who had a spirit of divination,” happened soon after; her rapacious and disappointed masters, a copartnery trading in fraud, misery, and souls, finding that the hope of their gain was gone, dragged Paul and Silas into the forum- εἰς τὴν ἀγοράν -before the magistrates, who, on hearing the charge, and without any judicial investigation, ordered the servants of God to be scourged, and then imprisoned. But their courage failed them not. On losing a battle in that neighbourhood, the vanquished warriors dared not to survive their defeat. The intriguing Cassius, “the last of the Romans,” hid himself in his tent, and in his panic ordered his freedman to strike. Brutus fell upon his sword, and his sullen and desperate spirit released itself by this self-inflicted wound. But Paul and Silas, unjustly condemned at the bidding of a mob, “thrust into the inner prison, and their feet made fast in the stocks,” fixed in that tormenting position, and their backs covered with “wounds and bruises and putrefying sores which had not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment”-these victims of wanton outrage did not bewail their fate, nor curse their oppressors, nor arraign a mysterious Providence, nor resolve to quit a service which brought them into such troubles, and desert a Master who had not thrown around them the shield of His protection, nor conclude that the vision at Troas had been a cunning and malignant lure to draw them on to Philippi, and to these indignities of stripes and a dungeon. No, “at midnight Paul and Silas, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name,” “prayed and sang praises unto God, and the prisoners heard them.” The prison was shaken, and their “bands were loosed;” the jailor and all his house believed in God, and “he and all his were baptized.” The praetors- οἱ στρατηγοί -in the morning sent an order to the lictors for the release of the prisoners; but Paul's assertion of his privilege as a Roman citizen, when reported to them, alarmed them; and knowing what a penalty they had incurred by their infraction of the Valerian and Porcian laws, they came in person, and urged the departure of the evangelists from the city. “They went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them and departed,” passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, and taking up their abode for a brief season in Thessalonica. Such were the apostle's experiences when he first trod the soil of Europe, and such the first conflict of Christianity with Hellenic heathenism and the savage caprice of Roman authority.
The apostle had not paused at Samothrace-an island renowned for its sanctity and its amulets, its gods and orgies, its Cybele and Cabiria-a scene where the mysteries of Eastern and Western superstition seem to have met and blended. Nor did he stop at Neapolis, the harbour of the Strymonic gulf, but he pressed on to Philippi; and the ground of his preference seems to be given in the statement “which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony”- ἥτις ἐστὶν πρώτη τῆς μερίδος τῆς Μακεδονίας πόλις κολωνία . A reason is often assigned by the use of ἥτις - “inasmuch as it is.” The adjective πρώτη may admit of a political or a geographical meaning. Some have regarded it as signifying “chief,” much in the same way as it is rendered in our version. It cannot indeed mean the chief or capital city of the province, for that was Thessalonica; and if there existed at that period a minuter subdivision, the principal town was Amphipolis. Others look on the epithet as merely designating the first city that lay on the apostle's route; Neapolis being either regarded as only its seaport, or rather as a town belonging to Thrace, and not to Macedonia. Meyer, preceded by Grotius and followed by Baumgarten, advances another view, which joins πόλις and κολωνία “the first colony and city,” and Philippi, in the Peutinger Tables, stands before Amphipolis. Without entering into any discussion of these opinions, we may only remark, that each of them furnishes a sufficient reason for the apostle's selection of Philippi as the spot of his first systematic labours in Europe. If it was the first city of the province that lay on his journey, then he naturally commenced to give it the help which the man of Macedonia had prayed for. If it was a chief city in that part, there was every inducement to fix upon it as the centre of farther operations; and if it enjoyed special advantages as a city and colony, then, its importance in itself, and in relation to other towns and districts, made it a fitting place both for present work and subsequent enterprise. You may either say that Paul went to Philippi as the first city on his path, for he had been summoned into Macedonia, and he could never think of passing the first city which he came to; or that he formally selected Philippi because of its rank, and because of its privileges as a Roman colony. If the apostle had taken this tour of his own accord, or as the result of plans previously matured; if he had traced out the itinerary of an evangelistic campaign before he set out, then the latter hypothesis would appear the more plausible; but if, as was the case, his purpose was hastily formed, and the general idea of traversing the province without any distinct regard to the order or arrangements of the visits, was suggested by the prayer of the representative man, then the first would appear to be the more natural and simple hypothesis.
Philippi was anciently called Κρηνίδες or the “Springs,” on account of its numerous fountains, in which the Gangites has its sources. Philip, about 358 B.C., enlarged the old town, and fortified it, in order to protect the frontiers against Thracian invaders, and named it after himself- Φίλιπποι - to commemorate the addition of a new province to his empire. After the famous battle fought and won in its neigh bourhood by the Triumvirs, Augustus conferred special honours upon the city, and made it a Roman colony. A military settlement- cohors proetoria emerita -had been made in it, chiefly of the soldiers who had been ranged under the standard of Antony, so that it was a protecting garrison on the confines of Macedonia; such settlements being, as Cicero calls them, propugnacula imperii. A colonia was a reproduction, in miniature, of the mother city Rome. The Roman law ruled, and the Roman insignia were everywhere seen. The municipal affairs were managed by duumvirs or praetors. Philippi had also the Jus Italicum, or Quiritarian ownership of the soil; its lands enjoying the same freedom from taxation as did the soil of Italy. It thus possessed a rank far above that of a municipium or a civitas libera; but there is no proof that Augustus gave it the title of πρώτη πόλις , or that it ever assumed such an appellation like Pergamus, Smyrna, and Ephesus. The historian calls it κολωνία , the proper Roman name, and does not use the Greek term ἀποικία , which had a very different meaning-a settlement founded by a body of adventurers or emigrants. Its distinctive name seems here to be given it on account of the events which so soon transpired in connection with the apostle's labours.
Highly favoured as Philippi had been, it was in need of “help.” Political franchise and Roman rights, Grecian tastes and studies, wide and varied commerce, could not give it the requisite aid. It was sunk in a spiritual gloom, which needed a higher light than Italian jurisprudence or Hellenic culture could bring it. It was helpless within itself, and the “man” who represented it had appealed to the sympathies of a Jewish stranger, whose story of the cross could lift the darkness off its position and destiny. The spear and phalanx of Macedonia had been famous, and had carried conquest and civilization through a large portion of the Eastern world; the sun of Greece had not wholly set, and Epicureans and Stoics yet mingled in speculation, and sought after “wisdom;” the sovereignty of Rome had secured peace in all her provinces, and her great roads not only served for the march of the soldier, but for the cortege of the trader; art and law, beauty and power, song and wealth, the statue and the drama, survived and were adored; but there was in many a heart a sense of want and of powerlessness, an indefinite longing after some higher good and portion, a painless and restless agitation, which only he of Tarsus could soothe and satisfy, with his preaching of the God-man-the life, hope, and centre of humanity. Probably about the year 53 Paul paid his first visit to Philippi. A second time does he seem to have visited it on his journey from Ephesus to Macedonia, Acts 20:1-2; and again when, to avoid the plots of his enemies, he returned to Asia through Macedonia, Acts 20:6. Many remains of antiquity, such as are supposed to belong to the forum and the palace, are on the site of Philippi. The Turks now name it Felibedjik. Copies of its old coins may be seen in Eckhel, vol. ii. p. 75. The scenes and the ruins are described by Leake, Northern Greece, vol. iii., and Cousinéry, Voyage dans Maced. vol. ii. Mannert, Geogr. der Griech. und Röm. vol. vii. p. 217. Forbiger, Alt. Geog. vol. iii. p. 1070.
II. The Genuineness of the Epistle
The genuineness of the epistle had not been questioned till a very recent period. The early external testimonies in its favour are very abundant. Thus Polycarp, ad Philip. iii.- οὔτε γὰρ ἐγὼ οὔτε ἄλλος ὅμοιος ἐμοὶ δύναται κατακολουθῆσαι τῇ σοφίᾳ τοῦ μακαρίου καὶ ἐνδόξου Παύλου , ὃς καὶ ἀπὼν ὑμῖν ἔγραψεν ἐπιστολάς . It is not necessary, as a matter of philology, to take the last noun as plural and as denoting more epistles than one, as Cotelerius, Hefele, and Jacobson have shown in their notes on this quotation. Rettig, Quoest. Philip. p. 37. The same father, in the eleventh chapter of this same epistle to them, says- Ego autem nihil tale sensi in vobis vel audivi, in quibus laboravit beatus Paulus qui estis ( laudati) in principio epistoloe ejus. Meyer, who holds that from the style of the New Testament and the Apostolical Fathers, the word ἐπιστολάς in the first quotation must be plural, supports his view by the somewhat strange device of making epistoloe here the nominative plural, as if the meaning were “who are in the beginning his epistles,” or commendatory letters. But in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3, the place cited in proof by him, the noun is in the singular- ἐπιστολὴ ἡμῶν , ἐπιστολὴ Χριστοῦ ; and the use of the plural epistoloe, according to Meyer's own understanding of the clause, shows that the plural form may have a singular reference even in Polycarp's style. Irenaeus, Adversus Hoeres., also writes, Quemadmodum et Paulus Philippensibus ait, referring to the apostle's acknowledgment of the subsidy sent to him by Epaphroditus; and again, in quoting this epistle, Philippians 4:17, Non inquiro datum, sed inquiro fructum, he prefaces by saying- propter hoc et Paulus. There are other allusions of the same kind, as rursus ad Philippenses ait, quoting Philippians 3:20; or apostolus in ea quae est ad Philippenses, quoting Philippians 3:10; or hoc est quod a Paulo dicitur, quoting Philippians 2:15. Clement of Alexandria, in allusion to the apostle's confession “Not as though I had attained,” etc.-says αὐτοῦ ὁμολογοῦντος τοῦ Παύλου περὶ ἑαυτοῦ . Paedag. 1.6. The epistle is quoted by Clement in various portions of his writings:-thus Philippians 1:13; Philippians 1:29, Philippians 2:1; Philippians 2:20, Philippians 4:12, are quoted in the fourth book of the Stromata; 1.20 in the third book; Philippians 1:9, Philippians 2:10 in the first book; Philippians 3:19 in Poedag. ii.; Philippians 2:15 in Poedag. iii.; Philippians 2:6 in Cohort. ad Gentes. These quotations are made by Clement generally without any affirmation that they belong to the epistle to the Philippians, though sometimes they are ascribed to Paul. Tertullian's evidence is as full:- thus, De Resurrectione Carnis, cap. 23, quoting the declaration “If by any means I may attain to the resurrection of the dead”-he prefaces by saying, ipse ( Paulus) cum Philippensibus scribit; then, in the twentieth chapter of his fifth book against Marcion, he employs this epistle as an argument against the heretic; again, in his De Proescript. cap. xxxvi., speaking of the places where the authenticoe literoe of the apostles are read, he says, Si non longe es a Macedonia habes Philippos, habes Thessalonicenses. From Ephiphanius too, we learn that Marcion received this epistle; for among the ten epistles of Paul acknowledged by him he reckons δεκάτη πρὸς Φιλιππησίους . Haer. 42. In the epistle of the churches of Vienne and Lyons, preserved in Eusebius' Hist. Eccles. lib. 5.2, 2.6 is quoted. Cyprian, also, Test. 3.39, quoting Philippians 2:6, prefixes item Paulus ad Philippenses. Eusebius placed this epistle among the universally acknowledged ones- ὁμολογουμένοις . It is found in the Syriac version, and in all the early synopses or catalogues of canonical books. Zeller, in the Theol. Jahrb. i. p. 61, objects that Clemens Romanus does not quote the Epistle to the Philippians, when he might have done so in the sixteenth chapter of his First Epistle to the Corinthians, where he inculcates the grace of humility. The argument is precarious. It cannot prove that Clement was unacquainted with our epistle, but only that he has omitted a citation directly to his purpose. Besides, as Brückner has remarked, we have the testimony of Polycarp, which belongs to this period.
Prof. Baur of Tübingen, in his Die so-genannte Pastoralbriefe des Apost. Paulus, published in 1835, suspected the genuineness of this epistle, because of the mention of bishops and deacons in it, as if these offices belonged to a later age. In the following year, in an article in the third part of the Tübing. Zeitschrift, p. 196, he intimated his doubts more decidedly. In 1841, in the Introduction to his Die Christliche Lehre von der Dreieinigkeit und Menschwerdung Gottes, where he treats of the doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ as taught in the New Testament, no citation is made of any passages from this epistle, not even of Philippians 2:6. At length, in 1845, in his Paulus der Apostel Jesu Christi, he formally attacked the epistle, and the next year his assault was followed up by his disciple Schwegler, whom Lünemann well names impiger sententiarum Baurianarum interpres ac propugnator. Das nachapostol. Zeitalter, etc., vol. ii. p. 143; Tübingen, 1846. The objections are trivial, and the wonder is, that a mind so acute and accomplished as that of Baur should ever have proposed them. They are arranged by him under three separate heads; though we shall consider them in a somewhat different order from that in which their author has set them forth. Two excellent replies were made to Baur:- Pauli ad Philip. Epistola. Contra F. C. Baurium defendit G. C. Amadeus Lünemann, e collegio Repetentum ac Dr. Ph.; Göttingen, 1847- Epistola ad Philip. Paulo auctori vindicata contra Baurium. Scripsit Brenno Bruno Brückner, Cand. Theol.; Lipsiae, 1848.
I. Baur alleges some palpable anachronisms and contradictions.
1. The mention of Clement-4:3-is adduced to show that the writer of the epistle must have lived in postapostolic times. Without any proof whatever, he identifies this Clement with him whom tradition associates with Peter at Rome, and him again with another of the same name, who was a relative of the later imperial house. He refers to Flavius Clement of Domitian's time, whom that emperor put to death as an atheist, and who is referred to by Suetonius, Dion Cassius, and Eusebius. But it is contrary to all evidence, to identify the Clement of Rome or the Clement of the Homilies with the kinsman of this emperor. The writers who refer to them never confound them-never confound a bishop of one age with a consul of another. The author of the Epistle to the Corinthians stands out in his own individuality to the men of his own and the following epoch. Clemens Romanus is said to have been well-born- ἐξ εὐγενοῦς ῥίζης -and was connected with the imperial family- πρὸς γένους ὑπάρχων Καίσαρος - Τιβερίου . Clementine Homilies, 4.7, 14.10. But Flavius Clement was related to Domitian, who put him to death- καίπερ ἀνεψιὸν ὄντα -and banished his wife. As Suetonius says, he was charged ex tenuissima suspicione, there being alleged against him in his office- contemptissima inertia. Nor, if the Clement of this epistle were even Clemens Romanus, would the fact raise any difficulty. There is, however, no proof that he was; at least he was at Philippi when this epistle was written. See Hefele, Ap. Patr. Prolegomena, p. 19; Ritschl, Geschichte der Entstehung der alt. kathol. Kirche, p. 284. You may admit an intermingling of traditions about the two Clements, and yet maintain that the men were distinct. There is no proof that the Roman Clement was a martyr; at least Irenaeus, Eusebius, and Jerome know nothing of such a death. The questions as to whether he was a Jew or a Gentile; whether he was a disciple of Peter or of Paul; whether he followed Linus or Cletus, or preceded them; whether his first epistle be interpolated, and his second be spurious altogether;-such questions affect not the identity of the man, and the distinction in position, office, and end, between him and the Clement the husband of Domitilla, under Domitian. See the article “Clement von Rom,” in Herzog's Real-Encyclopädie, vol. ii. p. 720. The trick of Baur is very manifest. It is a series of assumptions. He assumes, first, that the Clement of this epistle, of whom nothing is given but the name, and about whom nothing can be conjectured but his present residence at Philippi, is Clemens Romanus; next, that this Clemens Romanus is a myth, or that he must be really Flavius Clemens, the martyred kinsman of Domitian; next, that the writer of our epistle refers to him, and to this well-known imperial relationship, when he speaks of his bonds being known in the praetorium, and sends a salutation from them of Caesar's household; and the inference is, that as the Clemens of our epistle is no other than this later Clemens, such a reference must show that the epistle could not be written by Paul, but by some forger long after his time. The ingenuity is too transparent. Would a forger have placed such a Clement at Philippi? and would he not have given him greater prominence? for certainly the apostle's joy in his bonds, the publicity of these bonds in the praetorium, his “strait between two,” and his other expressed emotions, can all be explained without reference to any such hypothesis.
2. It is alleged by Baur, that the mention of “bishops and deacons” in the first verse, betrays also a post-apostolical origin. The proof, however, tends all the other way. The organization of the churches presupposes such office-bearers, as may be seen in Acts 6:1-6; Acts 20:28; Romans 16:1. The bishop and presbyter were then identical, and the names are sufficiently indicative of the character of the office.
3. Baur alleges that the author of the Epistle to the Philippians has totally misunderstood the apostle's pecuniary relations to the church at Philippi. But he must have been a novice in fabrication, if with the other epistles before him he could allow himself to be so easily detected. The apostle writes thus in Philippians 4:14-16 “Notwithstanding ye have well done that ye did communicate with my affliction. Now, ye Philippians, know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me, as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.” Baur quotes, as opposed to this, 1 Corinthians 9:15 “But I have used none of these things; neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.” Baur's exegesis is, that this passage plainly teaches that Paul stood in no such relation to any church, as our epistle represents him as sustaining to the Philippian church, for he would not own himself indebted to any of them. But the apostle is not affirming that he refused all support from every church; he only says, that he merely waived his right for good reasons with regard to the Corinthian church; for when he was in the city of Corinth, he wrought as a tentmaker, and no doubt for the best of reasons. Besides, that he took support from other churches, while he would not take it from them, is plain from his own declaration, that they were an exception to his usual course-2 Corinthians 11:7-8 “Have I committed an offence in abasing myself, that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.” Nay more, in connection with this passage now quoted, the apostle affirms-verse 9 “And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied; and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself. ” Now this is an assertion of the very same kind with that which Baur so strongly objects to as un-Pauline, in the epistle before us. The use of καί in the phrase ὅτι καὶ ἐν Θεσσαλονίκῃ -4:16 -cannot support his argument, as if the forger had 2 Corinthians 11:9 before his eyes, and took his cue from it, for the καί is used precisely in the same way in 1 Corinthians 1:16 - ἐβάπτισα δὲ καὶ τὸν Στεφανᾶ οἶκον . See comment on Philippians 4:16. It is of no use to allege, as Baur does, that the apostle's stay in Thessalonica was brief-so brief, that two contributions could scarcely be necessary-for we know not all the circumstances; but we do know that in that city, and as a reproof probably to the sloth which he so earnestly reprimands in both his letters, he set an example of industry, working with his own hands, and might therefore be in need of the gift which was sent south to him from Philippi. Both Brückner and Lünemann slyly remark, that it is odd that Baur should, in proof of Paul's short stay in Thessalonica, cite the Acts of the Apostles-a book which he declares to be unworthy of all historical credit. Paulus der Apostel, pp. 146-150, 243. What more natural for the apostle than to refer to the earliness of their first pecuniary presents; or to say, that when he was leaving Macedonia, they supplied him; nay, to affirm, that prior to the period of his departure from the province, and when he was yet in Thessalonica, they sent once and a second time to his necessities? Baur seems to suppose that he who wrote these verses forgot that Thessalonica was in Macedonia. He renders “when I was no more in Macedonia,” no church communicated with me but you, for even in Thessalonica ye sent to me, as if Thessalonica had been a place reached after his departure from the Macedonian province. But this, again, is a complete misapprehension of the apostle's statement, which is of this kind-When I went out of Macedonia ye helped me; nay, at an earlier period still and before I left the province, ye helped me. So feeble are Baur's objections against the genuineness of the epistle, taken from supposed anachronisms or contradictions of fact alleged to be found in it.
II. Baur also raises objections from the style. Few forms of subjective reasoning and criticism are so deceptive as this. What belongs to aesthetics, and not to logic or history, can never form a wise or valid antagonism. For there are others as well qualified to judge as Baur can be, some of whom have on his and similar principles rejected others of the epistles but who yet declare unhesitatingly in favour of this one. De Wette, who will not admit Ephesians, has everything to say in favour of Philippians.
1. To object, with Baur, that subjectivity of feeling prevails in this epistle, is only to commend it, for the writer had no definite polemical end in view, there being no special error or inconsistency in the Philippian church requiring rebuke or warning. Therefore he composes a letter to thank his beloved Philippians for a needed gift sent all the way to Rome, and remembers their repeated kindnesses to him from the very first. No wonder there is that he opens his heart and speaks in the fulness of his joy, follows no regular plan, but expresses his emotions as they rise within him; nay, in the fervour of his soul, occasionally repeats himself-his clauses being offhand and artless, and now and then complex because unstudied, the whole being the outpouring of a spirit that was gladdened alike by memory and hope and present relationship-blessing his distant converts for their past fidelity, and urging them to higher and yet higher spiritual attainment, cautioning them against errors into which they might be tempted, and portraying his own experience as an outline with which theirs might recognize a growing similarity, and find increasing blessedness, as the likeness filled and brightened into complete identity. This epistle is a conveyance of thanks-a matter wholly personal, so that individuality and emotion must predominate. The apostle could not repress his feelings, like a man mechanically signing a receipt in a counting-room; but he utters his heart, or as one may say, he puts himself into his letter. An epistle of thanks for monies so received, could not but be a matter of feeling, and the gratitude of the apostle's loving and confiding heart would be no common emotion, and therefore his acknowledgment is no common composition.
2. To say, with Baur, that the epistle discovers no sufficient motive for the composition of it, is to shut one's eyes; to affirm with him, that it is stale and flat, is not only to be steeled against the exuberance of its sentiment, but also to turn a deaf ear to the very rhythm of many of its paragraphs; to object that it is marked by poverty of thought, is to forget that it is not a treatise like the Epistle to the Romans, or an argumentative expostulation like the Epistles to the Corinthians; and to attack it, because it wants a certain formal unity, is tastelessly to overlook its naturalness, as it moves from one topic to another, referring now to one class of persons near the writer in Rome, and now to his own emotions in his imprisonment; then turning to his converts and bidding them be of good cheer in the midst of hostility; exhorting them to cultivate humility, love, and self-denying generosity, as seen in the example of Christ; next, telling them how he hopes to see them soon, and meanwhile sends Epaphroditus home to them; farther, improving the opportunity, and bidding them beware of false teachers and of inconsistent professors; summoning them, as he proceeds, to rejoice, to be of one mind, and to seek for perfection in the exercise of virtue; and, lastly, sending his acknowledgment for the gift which they had so kindly and considerately sent him, and wafting to them salutations from the brethren, and from the saints of Caesar's household.
Baur fixes upon Philippians 3:1 “To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe,” as a proof of poverty of thought. See our interpretation of the passage. The phrase, so far from arguing scantiness of ideas, is only an index of earnestness; or rather a proof, that while a throng of new subjects might be pressing on the writer's mind, he could even forego the pleasure of introducing them, and for the safety of his readers, reiterate statements previously made to them. Baur also objects to the phrase δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐν νόμῳ -3:6-but the apostle is there speaking from a previous standpoint-from a point of view which he had occupied in his unconverted state.
3. The record of the apostle's experience, Philippians 3:4, is declared to be a feeble copy of 2 Corinthians 11:18. There is similarity, but not great similarity. Both are references to his past life, and therefore we anticipate a necessary likeness of allusion. But the purposes are different. In the second epistle to the Corinthians the vindication is of his public or official life and its sufferings and successes; in this epistle the self-portraiture has reference to personal experience. In the former he speaks as an apostle, but in the latter as a saint. The first is terse and vehement-a lofty and disdainful challenge to his antagonists, if ever they had done what he had done, or endured what he had endured: the last is calm in its fervour, and exhibits his soul in its perfect repose upon Christ Jesus his Lord, and in its aspirations after complete likeness to Him. The idea of plagiarism is wholly out of the question when the subjects are so different. Detail in speaking of his Jewish descent is natural to him-Romans 11:1 -for the subject admitted of minute and climactic treatment.
4. Baur objects to peculiar words. Granted that κατατομή , the concision, is a hard expression; but fully harder is ἀποκόψονται , Galatians 5:12, as very many explain it. Granted that the epithet κύνες is not fine; but neither are ψευδαπόστολοι , ἐργάται δόλιοι… οἱ διάκονοι αὐτοῦ - Σατανᾶς , in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, and κύνες did not at least sound in the East so awkwardly as with us. Baur mistakes the nature of the contrast between περιτομή and κατατομή . The apostle does not by any means degrade the Abrahamic rite in itself, or call Jews the false, circumcision; but he simply implies that the circumcision which the Judaists insisted on as essential to salvation is useless and spurious. Compare too, for similar ideas, Romans 2:25-29 -an epistle which Baur acknowledges to be genuine. Nor is it the case that the contrast is distorted, as if the idea of quality in περιτομή were opposed to that of quantity expressed by κατατομή . The notion of quality belongs to both nouns, and it alone could the apostle mean to express. See our comment on the place.
On the other hand, many terms and phrases in this epistle, being such as we find in the other epistles, indicate identity of authorship. Lünemann has made a considerable collection of them. The following are Pauline phrases:- γινώσκειν ὑμᾶς βούλομαι , Philippians 1:2 -compare 1 Corinthians 10:1; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Romans 1:13; Romans 11:25: δοκιμάζειν τὰ διαφέροντα , Philippians 1:10 -found in Romans 2:18: καυχᾶσθαι ἐν Χριστῷ , Philippians 3:3 -found in 1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17: μάρτυς γάρ μου ἐστὶν ὁ Θεός , Philippians 1:8 -found in Romans 1:9: πιστεύειν εἰς Χριστόν , Philippians 1:29, exceedingly common in the Gospel of John, but also found in Paul, as in Romans 10:14; Galatians 2:16; Acts 19:4. The names Χριστός , ᾿Ιησοῦς , Κύριος , preceded by ἐν , to denote the sphere of spiritual action, feeling, or enjoyment, as to “hope in the Lord,” “rejoice in the Lord,” etc.-allusions to ἡ ἡμέρα Χριστοῦ , as the period of glory and perfection-characterize this epistle and all the others ascribed to the apostle. We have ἔργον Χριστοῦ in Philippians 2:30, and ἔργον Κυρίου , in the same sense, in 1 Corinthians 16:10; εἰς κενὸν ἔδαμον in Philippians 2:16, and in the same view εἰς κενὸν τρέχω ἢ ἔδραμον , Galatians 2:2. It is true there are some ἅπαξ λεγόμενα , but we have them in every epistle. We have such as αἴσθησις , Philippians 1:9; συναθλέω , Philippians 1:27, Philippians 4:3; πτύρεσθαι , Philippians 1:28; σύμψυχοι , Philippians 2:2; ἁρπαγμός , Philippians 2:6; ὑπερυψοῦν , Philippians 2:9; καταχθόνιος , Philippians 2:10; ἰσόψυχον , Philippians 2:20; ἀδημονεῖν , Philippians 2:26; παραπλήσιον , Philippians 2:27; παραβολεύειν , Philippians 2:30; σκύβαλον , Philippians 3:8; ἐξανάστασις , Philippians 3:11; ἐπεκτείνεσθαι , Philippians 3:14; προσφιλής , Philippians 4:8; ἀρετή , Philippians 4:8; ἀναθάλλω , Philippians 4:10; μεμύημαι , Philippians 4:12. But the occurrence of such terms can never be a proof of spuriousness, for ἅπαξ λεγόμενα are found in the Epistles to Rome, Corinth, and Galatia, which Baur himself receives as genuine. At the same time, we have certain Pauline terms -words all but peculiar to the apostle, and the use of which betokens his authorship. Thus we have τί γάρ , Philippians 1:18; εἴπως , Philippians 3:11; οὐχ ὅτι , Philippians 3:12; τὸ λοιπόν , Philippians 4:8 -turns of expression common with the apostle. Again, such words as ἀπρόσκοποι , Philippians 1:10; ἐπιχορηγία , Philippians 1:19; ἀποκαροδοκία , Philippians 1:20; ἀντικείμενοι , Philippians 1:28; εἰλικρινεῖς , Philippians 1:10; κενοδοξία , Philippians 2:3; δικαιοσύνη , Philippians 3:9; βραβεῖον , Philippians 3:14; and πλοῦτος , Philippians 4:19 -are favourite and characteristic terms. The adjective κενός , and the phrase εἰς κενόν , are the Pauline phrases, in this and the other epistles, for failure real or anticipated, and κοπιᾶν is the peculiar verb employed to denote apostolical labour. Have we not, in a word, the image and likeness of the apostle in this style, not only in its separate and characteristic idioms and expressions, but in its entire structure-in its sustained passages as well as in its briefer clauses-in its longer arguments as well as in its more abrupt transitions? Why, in a word, be entangled among such minutiae, when the whole letter is so Pauline in what is peculiar to itself, and in what is common to it with other epistles? in its order and in its loose connection; in its unwonted expressions and in its mannerisms; in its doctrines insisted on and in its errors warned against; in its illustration of his teaching by the experience of the teacher; in his spirit of disinterested zeal in spite of every drawback; in his manly confession that he felt his privations while he was contented under them; and in his constant recognition of union to Christ as the sphere of joy, love, strength, hope, stedfastness, confidence, peace, and universal spiritual fulness.
III. Baur adduces doctrinal objections. The only dogmatic part of the epistle-2:6-11-is, according to him, Gnostic in its ideas and language. Indeed, the whole epistle, as he affirms, “moves in the circle of Gnostic ideas and expressions” -not opposing them, but rather acquiescing in them. The phrases οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἶσα Θεῷ , ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος , σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος , ἐπουρανίων - καταχθονίων , are laid hold of as belonging to the Gnostic vocabulary; and as proving that he who has so employed them, must have lived after the apostle's time, and when the Gnostic heresy had acquired wide range and influence. Now, if a heresy shall arise which clings to Scripture for support, what can you expect but it shall, in its speculations and defences, employ the words of Scripture, and dexterously affix its own meaning to them? What has heresy usually been but such artful or innocent misinterpretation? In the daring and dreamy descriptions of the divine nature and of the celestial hierarchy, which characterize Gnosticism, such terms as the apostle has used may be found; but the natural inference is, that the epistle gave rise to them, and not they to the epistle. Some of the passages referred to by Baur are found in Irenaeus. In his book, Contra Hoereses, 1.1, he has the words- ὅμοιόν τε καὶ ἶσον τῷ προβαλλόντι ; and the mother of another AEon is described- πρόφασιν μὲν ἀγάπης , τόλμης δέ . We have such phrases as παραυτίκα δὲ κενωθεῖσαν , or ἐν εἰκόνι τοῦ ἀοράτου πατρός . But what do these expressions prove? They are not similar in meaning with those found in this epistle, and they belong to the domain of metaphysical mysticism. Our interpretation of the passage gives the sense we attach to it. See in loc.
The expression οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο is in no way derogatory to Christ's claim and dignity. The alternatives were τὸ εἶναι ἶσα Θεῷ , and ἑαυτὸν κενοῦν , and Jesus voluntarily preferred the latter, and assumed humanity. For Christ's pre-existence is a Pauline doctrine, though Baur denies it. Romans 9:5; Rom 11:36 ; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:9. Does not μορφὴ Θεοῦ resemble εἰκὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ ? 2 Corinthians 4:4. What absurdity to find a parallel to this ἁρπαγμός and the origin of the term in the wild, daring, and restless attempt of the Valentinian Sophia to penetrate the essence of the All-father, and become one with Him-the Absolute; or, as Baur says of this AEon- er will das Absolute erfassen, begreifen, ihm gleich, mit ihm Eins werden? To give the phrase ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων a Docetic meaning, is ridiculous, and is affixing a technical sense to a popular term. Romans 8:3. The meaning is, he appeared as other men appeared; notwithstanding his possession of a divine nature, his appearance was the ordinary appearance of humanity. He had the form of God, and he assumed as really the form of a man. Baur also frames a dilemma “Were he already God, wherefore should he first desire to become what he already was? and were he not yet like God, what an eccentric, unnatural, and self-contradictory thought-‘to be equal with God’!” The true meaning is, not that He was originally less than God, and strove to be on equality with Him. Nor is being God, and being like God, the same idea. It is not, as Baur would seem to suppose-being God, He thought it no robbery to be equal with God. For it is not of essence, but of form, that the apostle speaks. Equality with God, in the possession of this form, was no object of ambition to him; he laid it aside, and assumed the form of a servant. Very different this from the Gnostic and Valentinian image of Wisdom descending from the πλήρωμα into the κένωμα . The phrase ἐκένωσεν ἑαυτόν is identical in spirit with ἑπτώχευσε , though different in form-2 Corinthians 8:9 -and has no sort of affinity with the Gnostic γενέσθαι ἐν κενώματι , which seems to mean that annihilation which happened to the AEon Sophia, or rather to its cupidity- ἐνθύμησις . The Gnostic nomenclature has much the same connection with the Pauline writings as the book of Mormon has with the English Scriptures; and were the Greek original lost, some critic might rise up a thousand years after this, and affirm with some show of erudition, and a parade of parallel terms, that the most of the epistles of the English Testament did not originate under James VI., but must have been fabricated by men who knew the system of the Latter-day saints, and had studied its so-called Bible. It is needless to enlarge. Neither ingenuity nor erudition characterizes the objector's argument against the epistle; so far from borrowing Gnostic ideas and terms, it again and again, as if by anticipation, condemns the heresy. It calls the Saviour Lord or Κύριος , which, according to Epiphanius, the Gnostics would not. It ascribes a body to the exalted Jesus -which the Gnostics denied; and assigns a body also to glorified believers, but the Gnostics held that it would be burnt up and destroyed. Of the day of Christ, or the coming of Christ, Gnosticism knew nothing, for its benighted disciples did not hope, after death, “to be with Christ.” But, indeed, the entire argument of Baur against the genuineness of this epistle, is what Alford calls “the very insanity of hypercriticism. . . . According to him, all usual expressions prove its spuriousness, as being taken from other epistles; all unusual expressions prove the same, as being from another than St. Paul. Poverty of thought, and want of point, are charged against it in one page; in another, excess of point, and undue vigour of expression.”
We need say nothing in conclusion of the attack of this epistle by the English Evanson, in his Dissonance of the Four Gospels, who, indeed, was earlier than Baur in cold and insipid negation. Nor need we do more than allude to Schrader, who has thrown suspicion on the latter part of the epistle, and for reasons not a whit stronger than those of Baur. A Paley says on this topic “Considering the Philippians as his readers, a person might naturally write upon the subject as the author of the epistle has written, but there is no supposition of forgery with which it will suit.”
III. Unity and Integrity
Heinrichs in his Prolegomena started the idea that the epistle as we have it is made up of two distinct letters, the first reaching to the end of the first clause in Philippians 3:1 “Finally, brethren, farewell in the Lord,” along with Philippians 4:21; Philippians 4:23, intended for the church; and the second, including the remaining portion of the epistle, and meant for the apostle's more intimate friends. Paulus, adopting the hypothesis, but reversing its order, imagines that the first letter was for the bishops and deacons. The theory is baseless, for the use of τὸ λοιπόν may be otherwise explained. See Commentary on the phrase. Though we should admit that the phrase τὰ αὐτὰ γράφειν may imply that the apostle had written other epistles to the Philippians, there is still no proof that we have a sample of any of them in our present canonical book. Heinrichs' arguments are not worth refutation; but they have been replied to, seriatim, by Krause, Hoelemann, and Matthies. The first part of the epistle may be more general, and the second more special; but to divide any production on such a principle would be chimerical in the extreme. May not a man have a general and a special purpose in writing a single letter? Nay more, is not the latter half of the second chapter as special as any paragraph in the third or fourth chapters; and are not the four last verses of the third chapter, and the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth verses of the fourth chapter, as general as any paragraph in the earlier half of the epistle? There is nothing of an exoteric or esoteric tone about its various sections, nor is any such distinction warranted by the use of τέλειοι , Philippians 3:15. The transitions depend upon no logical train -as the thoughts occurred they were dictated. And we can never know what suggested to the apostle the order of his topics. We can conceive him about to finish his epistle at Philippians 3:1, and with τὸ λοιπόν ; but a conversation with Epaphroditus, or some train of thought in his own mind, directed and moulded by the Spirit of God, may have led him to launch out again after he seemed to be nearing the shore.
IV. The Circumstances of the Philippian Church, and the Occasion of the Epistle
This Epistle was not written for any polemical or practical purpose. Its object is neither to combat error nor establish truth, nor expose personal or ecclesiastical inconsistencies, nor vindicate his apostolical prerogative and authority. A gift had been sent him to Rome, from a people that had distinguished themselves by similar kindnesses in former times. The churches in Macedonia were poor, but “their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” They contributed the gift to the apostle when he needed it, and it was enhanced alike by their poverty and his want. As a prisoner he could not support himself by labour as at Thessalonica and Corinth, and he might not feel that he had a claim for maintenance upon the church in Rome. He had not founded the church there, and as he was not sowing “spiritual things” he did not expect to reap “carnal things.” The gift from this small, poor, and distant people, whom he had not seen for some years, was therefore very opportune; and the receipt of it, combined with a knowledge of all their circumstances, was to him a source of great exhilaration. Epaphroditus, who had brought the contribution, was to convey the apostle's thanks to the donors, and he takes occasion, in returning these thanks, to address some counsels to his beloved people, to tell them how he prayed for them and hoped well of them, and what was his own condition at Rome, as they would be anxious to hear of it from himself; to inform them what a spirit of tender considerateness ought to reign among them; how Timothy was soon coming to them; how they ought to be on their guard against false teachers and immoral free-thinkers; how they should rejoice in the Lord, and pursue all that is spiritually elevated and excellent; and all this-before he formally acknowledges the receipt of the subsidy. His thoughts turn to himself and them alternately. They had not, like other churches, given him reason for regret or censure. He was fond of them, and what he had suffered among them had endeared them to him. He did not forget that “we were shamefully entreated at Philippi;” but the recollection made them all the dearer to him, by what he had endured for them. The majority of the church seem to have been proselytes or converted heathens, and to the paucity of Jews in the membership may be ascribed this continuous attachment to their spiritual founder, and the absence of those prejudices and misunderstandings that so soon sprang up in some of the other churches.
That the Philippian church was in trial and exposed to danger is evident from several allusions. At an earlier period they had “a great trial of affliction,” and the conclusion of the first chapter indicates that the same perils still continued. The apostle says, Philippians 1:28-30: “And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” We cannot tell who their antagonists were. There is no ground for supposing that they were Jews especially, for there were apparently so few in the place that they do not seem to have possessed a synagogue. The probability is, that the population generally was hostile to them, and that the rancorous feeling manifested against Paul and Silas on their first visit, continued to show itself in a variety of forms against their converts. But persecution did not intimidate them. They did not become cowardly and regretful, or sullen and spiteful. They had “abundance of joy,” feeling as James counsels his readers “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” That joy the apostle bids them still cherish, and the soul of his letter is “Rejoice in the Lord.” Because the opposition which they encountered drove all worldly gladness from them, it forced them to a more vivid realization of their union to Christ, the source of all joy. Persecution only raked away the ashes, so that the spiritual flame was steady and brilliant.
But this very condition had a tendency to create spiritual pride. Men so upborne are apt to forget themselves. As Dr. Davidson remarks “The highest spirituality stands near the verge of pride, superciliousness, and vainglory.” The earnest injunctions enforced by the example of Christ, in the beginning of the second chapter, plainly point to such a tendency. There were also two ladies who are entreated by the apostle to be of the same mind in the Lord, and others are asked to help them to this reconciliation. The Philippians are exhorted “to stand fast in one spirit and one mind.” We dare not say that factions actually existed, but there were jealousies and alienations of feeling. Yet there is no proof that false teaching had created parties and produced schism; so that the broad assertions and hypotheses of many on this subject cannot be received. The Philippians are warned against Judaizers, but there is no evidence that Judaizers had, as in Galatia, made havoc among them; and they are told of others who are enemies of the cross, not from dogmatic perversity, but from immoral lives. Storr, Flatt, Eichhorn, Guericke, and Rheinwald are as much without evidence in supposing the existence of a Judaizing faction, as is Bertholdt in imagining that the apostle condemns certain false doctrines which sprang from Sadducean influence. As if they had still been safe and uncontaminated, they are commanded so to stand in the Lord as to form a contrast to those whose end is destruction, and their fellowship for the gospel had been uninterrupted. Against the errors and tendencies incidental to their situation, or which might be originated by their history, experience, and temperament, their sagacious monitor frankly warns them. For the stream, if it receive tributaries which have flowed through a muddy soil, is in danger of being discoloured.
V. Place and Time at Which the Epistle was Written
The general opinion has been, that the epistle was written at Rome. OEder proposed Corinth; Paulus and Böttger fix on Caesarea; and Rilliet thinks this theory plausible. The probabilities are all against Caesarea. The phrase οἰκία Καίσαρος could not surely be applied to Herod's family. The dwelling of Herod at Caesarea is indeed called πραιτώριον , for the word had a secondary or general significance; and it is used of the dwelling of the Procurator in Jerusalem. See under Philippians 1:13. When he was in custody at Caesarea, Paul, as a Roman citizen, could at any time appeal to Caesar against any sentence passed upon him, and his condition could not therefore have that uncertainty about it which he speaks of in Philippians 1:23-25. There he could ward off martyrdom at least for a period. All the allusions are best explained by the supposition, that the apostle wrote the epistle in Rome-his bonds being made known in the barracks of the imperial lifeguards-his enemies filled with spite, and his life in danger- and the gospel achieving such signal triumphs as warranted him to send salutations to Philippi from Caesar's household.
The tone of the epistle in reference to himself, seems to place it later than those written by him to Ephesus and Colosse. Dangers were thickening around him, sorrows were pressing upon him, and the future was wrapt in dark uncertainty. The period must have been later than the two years with which the book of the Acts closes-the period when he was at liberty to preach and to teach, “with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” Still more, Epaphroditus had brought him money, and tarried so long as allowed the Philippians time to hear that their messenger had been sick; nay, the apostle had heard that they had received such intelligence. Some considerable time therefore must have elapsed. He does not now ask their prayers for “utterance,” as when he wrote to the Ephesians. Ephesians 6:19. Burrus, the prefect of the praetorian guards-the στρατοπεδάρχης -to whose care Paul as a prisoner was entrusted, was a man of a benignant spirit, and under him the two years of comparative freedom may have been enjoyed. But Burrus died or was poisoned in 62; and the government of Nero rapidly degenerated. The power of Seneca over the emperor was destroyed by the death of Burrus, and he sank into undisguised infamy. He married a Jewish proselytess, and she might listen to the apostle's Jewish antagonists. These changes wrought a correspondent alteration in the apostle's circumstances. His liberty was abridged; he was lodged in the praetorium, and a violent death seemed to be at hand. Such was his condition, when in the summer or autumn of 63, or in the beginning of 64, he composed the Epistle to the Philippians. Wieseler places it in 62 ( Chronologie des Apost. Zeitalters, p. 458); and Davidson agrees with him. Lardner had adopted the same chronology. Works, vol. vi. p. 74; ed. London, 1834.
VI. Contents of the Epistle
Address and Salutation
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Proof of his Attachment
I thank my God on my whole remembrance of you, always in every supplication of mine, making, with joy, supplication for you all, on account of your fellowship for (in favour of) the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun in you a good work, will perform it until the day of Christ Jesus, even as it is right in me to think this on behalf of you all, because I have you in my heart, both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel-you, all of you, as being fellow-partakers with me of grace. For God is my witness, how I do long for you all in the bowels of Christ Jesus; and this I pray, that your love yet more and more may abound in full knowledge, and in all judgment, so that ye may distinguish things that differ, in order that ye may be pure and offenceless anent the day of Christ-being filled with the fruit of righteousness, which is by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
History of the Writer's own Condition, and its Results
But I wish you to know, brethren, that things with me have resulted to the furtherance of the gospel, so that my bonds have become known in Christ in the whole praetorium, and to all the rest; and the greater part of the brethren putting in the Lord confidence in my bonds are more abundantly bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed, even for envy and contention, but some also for goodwill, preach Christ,- the one party indeed, of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel; but the other party proclaim Christ out of faction, not purely, thinking to stir up affliction to my bonds. What then? Notwithstanding, in every way, whether in pretence or in sincerity Christ is proclaimed, even in this I do rejoice, yea and I shall rejoice. For I know that this shall fall out for salvation to me, through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ; according to my firm expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so also now Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death: for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if to live in the flesh, if this to me be fruit of labour, then what I shall choose I wot not; yea, I am put into a strait on account of the two, inasmuch as I have the desire for departing to be with Christ, for it is much by far better, but to abide in the flesh is more necessary on your account. And being persuaded of this I know that I shall abide and remain with you all for the advancement and joy of your faith, that your boasting may abound in Jesus Christ in me, on account of my coming again to you.
General Admonition in the Circumstances
Only let your conversation be worthy of the gospel of Christ, in order that whether having come and seen you, or whether being absent I may hear of your affairs, that ye are standing in one spirit, with one soul striving together for the faith of the gospel, and in nothing terrified by the adversaries- the which is to them a token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you was it granted, on behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also on behalf of Him to suffer; as you have the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear of in me.
If, then, there be any exhortation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, to the end that ye mind the same thing, having the same love, with union of soul minding the one thing-minding nothing in the spirit of faction nor in the spirit of vainglory, but in humility, counting others better than themselves-looking each of you not to your own things, but each of you also to the things of others.
This last Injunction illustrated and enforced by the Example of Christ
For let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, reckoned not the being on a parity with God a prize to be snatched at, but emptied Himself, having taken the form of a servant, having been made in the likeness of men, and having been found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, having become obedient unto death-yea, unto the death of the cross. Wherefore God also did highly exalt Him, and gave Him the name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow-of them in heaven, of them on earth, and of them under the earth-and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Inferential Counsels to guide them, and secure the Apostle's own Reward
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, carry out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for God it is who worketh in you both to will and to work, of His own good pleasure. All things do without murmurings and doubts, that ye may be blameless and pure; children of God beyond reach of blame, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye appear as luminaries in the world; holding forth the word of life for rejoicing to me against the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain nor yet labour in vain. But, if I am even being poured out on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and give joy to you all; yea, for the very same reason do ye also joy and give joy to me.
But I hope in the Lord Jesus shortly to send Timothy to you, that I also may be of good spirit when I have known your affairs; for I have no one like-minded who will really care for your affairs, for the whole of them seek their own things, not the things of Jesus Christ. But his tried character ye know, that as a child a father, he served with me for the gospel. Him, then, I hope to send immediately, whenever I shall have seen how it will go with me; but I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall shortly come. Yet I judged it necessary to send Epaphroditus on to you, my brother and fellow-labourer, and fellow-soldier, but your deputy and minister to my need, forasmuch as he was longing after you all, and was in heaviness, because ye heard that he was sick; for he really was sick, nigh unto death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him alone, but on me also, that I should not have sorrow upon sorrow. The more speedily, therefore, have I sent him, in order that having seen him ye may rejoice again, and that I too may be the less sorrowful. On that account receive him in the Lord with all joy, and hold such in honour, because for the work of Christ he came near even to death, having hazarded his life that he might supply your deficiency in your service towards me. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.
Warning against Judaists
To write to you the same things to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Look to the dogs, look to the evil-workers, look to the concision. For we are the circumcision, who by the Spirit of God do serve and make our boast in Christ Jesus, and have no trust in the flesh-though I am in possession too of trust in the flesh.
The Apostle's Spiritual History and Experience
If any other man thinketh that he has confidence in the flesh, I more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal persecuting the church, as to the righteousness which is in the law being blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, these for Christ's sake I have reckoned loss; yea, indeed, for that reason I also (still) reckon them all to be loss, on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I suffered the loss of them all, and do account them to be but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ-the righteousness which is of God upon faith; so that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, while I am being made conformable to His death, if anyhow I may arrive at the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained, either have already been perfected; but I am pressing on, if indeed I may seize that for which also I was seized by Christ. Brethren, I do not reckon myself to have seized; but one thing I do-forgetting indeed the things behind, but stretching forth to the things before, towards the mark I am pressing on for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let as many of us then as be perfect think this, and if in any respect ye think otherwise, yea this shall God reveal to you. Howbeit whereto we have reached, by the same do ye walk on.
Be together followers of me, brethren, and observe them who are walking in such a way as ye have us for an example: for many walk, of whom many times I told you, but now tell you even weeping, that they are those who are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame-persons they, who are minding earthly things. For our country is in heaven, out of which we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall transform the body of our humiliation, so that it be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the working of His power even to subdue all things to Himself. Wherefore, my brethren, beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand in the Lord, beloved.
Minuter Counsels to Members of the Church
Euodia I exhort, and Syntyche I exhort, to be of one mind in the Lord; yea, I ask thee too, true yoke-fellow, assist these women, for they laboured hard with me in the gospel, along with Clement, too, and my other fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again will I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known before God; and so the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true; whatsoever things are seemly; whatsoever things are right; whatsoever things are pure; whatsoever things are lovely; whatsoever things are of good report; whatever virtue there is, and whatever praise there is, these things think upon; the things which also ye learned and received, and heard and saw in me, these things do. And the God of peace shall be with you.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at length ye flourished again in mindfulness for my interest, for which indeed ye were mindful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak on account of want, for I have learned, in the circumstances in which I am, to be content. I know also to be abased, I know also to abound; in everything and in all things, I have been instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. I can do all things in Him strengthening me. Howbeit ye did well in that ye had fellowship with my affliction. But you, Philippians, are yourselves also aware, that in the introduction of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me to account of gift and receipt but you only; for even in Thessalonica, both once and a second time, ye sent to me for my necessity. Not that I seek for the gift, but I seek for the fruit which does abound to your account. But I have all things and I abound; I have been filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you-an odour of a sweet smell-a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to God and our Father be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. There salute you the brethren who are with me: there salute you all the saints, chiefly they who are of Caesar's household. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with your Spirit.
VII. Commentators on the Epistle
We need scarcely mention the commentaries of the Greek Fathers-Chrysostom, Theophylact, Theodoret, Oecumenius, with others found in the Catena, or those of the Latin Pelagius and Ambrosiaster, or those of Erasmus, Calvin, Zuingli, Bucer, Beza, Hunnius, Grotius, Schmidius, Crocius, Zanchius, Piscator, Aretius, etc. There are the Romish Estius, a-Lapide, and Justiniani; and there are also the Protestant Clericus, Calovius, Calixtus, Vorstius, Schotanus, Balduin, Tarnovius, Musculus, Hyperius, Wolf, van Til, Jaspis, Küttner, Heumann, Bengel, Storr, Flatt, Hammond, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Whitby, Pierce, Macknight, Heinrichs, and Schrader. Every one knows the New Testaments of Bloomfield and Alford, and the quartos of Conybeare and Howson. Of more special expositions on the epistle, we have Velasquez- In Epistolam Pauli ad Philippenses, Commentarii; Antverpiae, 2 vols. folio, 1637. Breithaupt- Animadversiones exeget. et dogmat. pract. in Epistolam ad Philippenses; Halae, 1703. Am Ende- Pauli Ap. ad Philipp., Epistola ex recensione Griesbach.-nova versione Latina et annotatione perpetua illustrata; Wittebergae, 1798. J. F. Krause- Observat. crit. exeget. in Pauli Epistolam ad Philippenses, cap. i. ii.; Regiomont. 1810. F. A. W. Krause- Die Briefe an die Philipper und Thessalonicher; Frankfurt am Main, 1790. Rheinwald- Commentar über den Brief Pauli an die Philipper; Berlin, 1827. Matthies - Erklärung des Briefes Pauli an die Philipper; Greifswald, 1835. Van Hengel- Commentarius Perpetuus in Epistolam Pauli ad Philippenses; Lugduni Batavorum et Amstelodami, 1838. Hoelemann- Commentarius in Epistolam divi Pauli ad Philippenses; Lipsiae, 1839. Rilliet - Commentaire sur l'Épître de l'Apôtre Paul aux Philippiens; Genève, 1841. Müller- Commentatio de locis quibusdam Epistoloe Pauli ad Philippenses; Hamburgi, 1843. De Wette- Kurze Erklärung der Briefe an die Colosser, an Philemon, an die Epheser und Philipper; Leipzig, 1843. Meyer- Kritisch exegetisches Handbuch über den Brief an die Philipper; Göttingen, 1847. Baumgarten-Crusius- Commentar über die Briefe Pauli an die Philipper und Thessalonicher; Jena, 1848. Peile- Annotations on the Apostolical Epistles, vol. ii.; London, 1849. Wiesinger- Die Briefe des Apostels Paulus an die Philipper, an Titus, Timotheus, und Philemon; Königsberg, 1850. Beelen, Commentarius in Epistolam S. Pauli ad Philippenses; ed. secunda, Lovanii, 1852. Bisping - Erklärung der Briefes an die Epheser, Philipper, Kolosser, und des ersten Briefes an die Thessalonicher; Münster, 1855. Ellicott- A Critical and Grammatical Commentary on St. Paul's Epistles to the Philippians, Colossians, and to Philemon, with a Revised Translation; London, 1857. Ewald- Die Sendschreiben des Apostels Paulus übersetzt und erklärt; Göttingen, 1857. We need scarcely allude to more popular treatises, such as Daillé- Sermons sur l'Épître aux Philippiens; 1644-47. De Launay- Paraph. et Expos. sur les Épîtres de St. Paul; Charenton, 1650. Passavant- Versuch einer praktischen Auslegung des Briefes Pauli an die Philipper; Basel, 1834. Kähler- Auslegung der Epistel Pauli an die Philipper in 25 Predigten; Kiel, 1855. Florey- Bibelstunden über den Brief St. Pauli an die Philipper; Leipzig, 1857. There are similar works in English, of very unequal merit, such as Airay, 1618; Acaster, 1827; Baynes, 1834; Neat, 1841; Hall, 1843; Toller, 1855.
IN the following pages, when Buttmann, Matthiae, Kühner, Winer, Stuart, Green, Jelf, Madvig, Scheuerlein, and Krüger are simply quoted, the reference is to their respective Greek grammars; and when Suidas, Suicer, Passow, Robinson, Pape, Wilke, Wahl, Bretschneider, and Liddell and Scott are named, the reference is to their respective lexicons. If Hartung be found without any addition, we mean his Lehre von den Partikeln der griechischen Sprache, 2 vols., Erlangen, 1832; and the mention of Bernhardy without any supplement, represents his Wissenschaftliche Syntax der griechischen Sprache; Berlin, 1829. The majority of the other names are those of the commentators or philologists enumerated in the previous chapter. The references to Tischendorf's New Testament are to the second edition.
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17