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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Philippians 1

Verse 1

Paul (Παυλος). He does not mention his apostleship as he usually does. Omitted also in I and II Thess. and Philemon.

Timothy (Τιμοθεος). In no sense the author, but associated with Paul because with him here in Rome as in Corinth when I and II Thessalonians written and in Ephesus when I Corinthians sent and in Macedonia when II Corinthians written. Timothy was with Paul when the Philippian church was founded (Acts 16:1; Acts 16:13; Acts 17:14). He had been there twice since (Acts 19:22; Acts 20:3).

To all the saints (πασ τοις αγιοις). The word saint (αγιος) here is used for the professing Christians as in 1 Corinthians 1:2 which see as well as Romans 1:7 for the origin of the word. The word "all" (πασ) means that all individual believers are included. Paul employs this word frequently in Philippians.

In Christ Jesus (εν Χριστω Ιησου). The centre for all Christian relations and activities for Paul and for us.

In Philippi (εν Φιλιπποις). See on Acts 16:12 for discussion of this name.

With the bishops (συν επισκοποις). "Together with bishops," thus singled out from "all the saints." See Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28 for the use of this most interesting word as equivalent to πρεσβυτερος (elder). It is an old word from επισκεπτομα, to look upon or after, to inspect, so the overseer or superintendent. In the second century επισχοπος (Ignatius) came to mean one superior to elders, but not so in the N.T. The two New Testament church officers are here mentioned (bishops or elders and deacons). The plural is here employed because there was usually one church in a city with several pastors (bishops, elders).

And deacons (κα διακονοις). Technical sense here of the other church officers as in 1 Timothy 3:8-13, not the general use as in Matthew 22:13. The origin of the office is probably seen in Acts 6:1-6. The term is often applied to preachers (1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6). The etymology (δια, κονις) suggests raising a dust by hastening.

Verse 3

Upon (επ). Basis of the thanksgiving.

All (παση). Note frequent use of "all" here (πασηι, παντοτε, always, παση, again, παντων υμων, you all). The use of "you all" recurs several times (Philippians 1:4; Philippians 1:7 bis, Philippians 1:8).

Verse 4

With joy (μετα χαρας). Keynote of the Epistle. Paul is a happy prisoner as in Philippi when he and Silas sang praises at midnight though in prison (Acts 16:25).

Verse 5

For your fellowship (επ τη κοινωνια υμων). "On the basis of your contribution" as in 2 Corinthians 8:4; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Acts 2:42. The particular kind of "partnership" or "fellowship" involved is the contribution made by the Philippians for the spread of the gospel (Philippians 1:7 συγκοινωνους and Philippians 4:14 where συγκοινωνησαντες occurs).

In furtherance of the gospel (εις το ευαγγελιον). "For the gospel."

From the first day until now (απο της πρωτης ημερας αχρ του νυν). As when in Thessalonica (Philippians 4:15), in Corinth (Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 11:7-10), and now in Rome.

Verse 6

Being confident (πεποιθως). Second perfect active of πειθω, to persuade.

This very thing (αυτο τουτο). Accusative of the inner object with πεποιθως, "this thing itself."

Will perfect it (επιτελεσε). Future active indicative of επιτελεω, will fully (επι-) finish. God began and God will consummate it (see 2 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 3:3 where both words occur together as here), but not without their cooperation and partnership.

Until the day of Jesus Christ (αχρ ημερας Χριστου Ιησου). The second coming as in verse Philippians 1:10. See 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 1:14; Romans 13:12. Paul never sets the time for the Lord's return, but he is cheered by that blessed hope.

Verse 7

Because I have you in my heart (δια το εχειν με εν τη καρδια υμας). Or "because you hold me in your heart." Literally, "because of the holding me (or you) in the heart as to you (or me)." One accusative is the object of the infinitive εχειν, the other is the accusative of general reference. There is no way to decide which is the idea meant except to say that love begets love. The pastor who, like Paul, holds his people in his heart will find them holding him in their hearts.

In the defence (εν τη απολογια). Old word (our word apology, but not our idea of apologizing), in the original sense in Acts 22:1; Acts 25:16. So also in verse Philippians 1:16 below.

Confirmation (βεβαιωσε). Old word from βεβαιοω (βεβαιοσ, βαινω), to make stable. In N.T. only here and Hebrews 6:16 about oath.

Partakers with me of grace (συγκοινωνους μου της χαριτος). Literally, "my co-sharers in grace" (objective genitive). "Grace prompted them to alleviate his imprisonment, to cooperate with him in defending and propagating the gospel, and to suffer for its sake" (Vincent, Int. Crit. Comm.).

Verse 8

My witness (μαρτυς μου). Same solemn oath in Romans 1:9.

I long after (επιποθω). Longing (ποθος) directed toward (επ) the Philippians. Old word, chiefly in Paul in N.T.

In the tender mercies (εν σπλαγχνοις). Literally "in the bowels" as the seat of the affections.

Verse 9

May abound (περισσευη). Present active subjunctive of περισσευω, may keep on overflowing, a perpetual flood of love, "yet more and more" (ετ μαλλον κα μαλλον), but with necessary limitations (river banks), "in knowledge" (εν επιγνωσε, in full knowledge) "and all discernment" (παση αισθησε). The delicate spiritual perception (αισθησις, old word from αισθανομα, only here in N.T. as the verb only in Luke 9:45 in N.T.) can be cultivated as in αισθητηριον (Hebrews 5:14)

Verse 10

So that ye may (εις το υμας). Either purpose or result (εις το plus infinitive as in Romans 1:11; Romans 1:20; Romans 3:26, etc.).

Approve the things that are excellent (δοκιμαζειν τα διαφεροντα). Originally, "test the things that differ." Cf. same idiom in Romans 2:28. The verb was used for assaying metals. Either sense suits this context, but the first step is to distinguish between good and evil and that is not always easy in our complex civilization.

Sincere (ειλικρινεις). Old word of uncertain origin from κρινω, to judge, by ειλη (sunlight) or to sift by rapid rolling (ειλος). At any rate it means pure, unsullied.

Void of offence (απροσκοπο). Alpha privative προς and κοπτω, to cut, "not stumbled against" (not causing others to stumble) or if active "not stumbling against." Passive sense probably, not active as in 1 Corinthians 10:32. Common in the papyri, though not in ancient Greek writers.

Verse 11

Fruits of righteousness (καρπον δικαιοσυνης). Singular, collective idea, fruit of righteousness. Accusative case retained with perfect passive participle.

Verse 12

The things which happened unto me (τα κατ' εμε). "The things concerning me" = "my affairs" as common in Josephus.

Have fallen out rather (μαλλον εληλυθεν). "Have come rather." Second perfect active indicative of ερχομα.

Unto the progress (εις προκοπην). Late word from προκοπτω, common verb, to cut or strike forward, but this late substantive does not occur in classical Greek. It is a technical term in Stoic philosophy for "progress toward wisdom" and it appears also in the papyri and the LXX. In N.T. only here, verse Philippians 1:25; 1 Timothy 4:15.

Verse 13

Throughout the whole praetorian guard (εν ολω τω πραιτωριω). There were originally ten thousand of these picked soldiers, concentrated in Rome by Tiberius. They had double pay and special privileges and became so powerful that emperors had to court their favour. Paul had contact with one after another of these soldiers. It is a Latin word, but the meaning is not certain, for in the other New Testament examples (Matthew 27:27; Mark 15:16; John 18:28; John 18:33; John 19:9; Acts 23:35) it means the palace of the provincial governor either in Jerusalem or Caesarea. In Rome "palace" would have to be the emperor's palace, a possible meaning for Paul a provincial writing to provincials (Kennedy). Some take it to mean the camp or barracks of the praetorian guard. The Greek, "in the whole praetorium," allows this meaning, though there is no clear example of it. Mommsen and Ramsay argue for the judicial authorities (praefecti praetorio) with the assessors of the imperial court. At any rate Paul, chained to a soldier, had access to the soldiers and the officials.

Verse 14

The most of the brethren (τους πλειονας των αδελφων). "The more part of the brethren." The comparative with the article with the sense of the superlative as often in the Koine.

In the Lord (εν Κυριω). It is not clear whether this phrase is to be connected with "brethren" or with "being confident" (πεποιθοτας), probably with πεποιθοτας. If so, then "through my bonds" (τοις δεσμοις μου) would be the instrumental case and mean that by means of Paul's bonds the brethren "are more abundantly bold" (περισσοτερως τολμαιν).

Verse 15

Even of envy and strife (κα δια φθονον κα εριν). "Even because of" (accusative after δια). Surely the lowest of motives for preaching Christ. Envy is an old word and an old sin and strife (ερις) is more rivalry than schism. It is petty and personal jealousy of Paul's power and prowess by the Judaizers in Rome whom Paul has routed in the east, but who now exult at the opportunity of annoying their great antagonist by their interpretation of Christ. Jealousy is always against those of one's own class or profession as preachers with preachers, doctors with doctors.

Of goodwill (δι' ευδοκιαν). Because of goodwill toward Paul.

Verse 16

Of love (εξ αγαπης). Out of love to Paul as well as to Christ. Put Philippians 1:1 here as a flash-light.

Verse 17

Of faction (εξ εριθειας). Out of partisanship. From εριθευω, to spin wool, and that from εριθος, a hireling. The papyri examples suit the idea of selfish ambition (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary). See 2 Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20.

Not sincerely (ουχ αγνως). "Not purely," that is with mixed and impure motives.

To raise up affliction for my bonds (θλιψιν εγειρειν τοις δεσμοις μου). Now that Paul is down they jump on him in mean and nagging ways. Dative case in δεσμοις. "To make my chains gall me" (Lightfoot).

Verse 18

What then? (τ γαρ?). Sharp problem put up to Paul by the conduct of the Judaizers.

Only that (πλην οτ). Same idiom in Acts 20:23. Πλην is adverb πλεον (more besides). As a preposition πλην means "except." This essential thing Paul sees in spite of all their envy and selfishness that Christ is preached.

Whether in pretence (ειτε προφασε). Either from προφαινω, to shew forth, or προφημ, to speak forth, the ostensible presentation often untrue. See Acts 27:30. Paul sees clearly through the pious pretence of these Judaizers and rejoices that people get some knowledge of Christ. Some Christ is better than no Christ.

Yea, and will rejoice (αλλα κα χαρησομα). Note affirmative, not adversative, use of αλλα. Volitive use of the future (second future passive) indicative (χαρησομα) of χαιρω. Paul is determined to rejoice in spite of the efforts of the Judaizers to prod him to anger.

Verse 19

Will turn (αποβησετα). Future middle indicative of αποβαινω, old verb, to come from, to come back, to turn out.

To my salvation (εις σωτηριαν). For his release from prison as he strongly hopes to see them again (Philippians 1:26). Lightfoot takes the word to be Paul's eternal salvation and it must be confessed that verse Philippians 1:20 (the close of this sentence) does suit that idea best. Can it be that Paul carried both conceptions in the word here?

Supply (επιχορηγιας). Late and rare word (one example in inscription of first century A.D.). In N.T. only here and Ephesians 4:16. From the late verb επιχορηγεω (double compound, επι, χοροσ, ηγεομα, to furnish supply for the chorus) which see in 2 Corinthians 9:10; Galatians 3:5.

Verse 20

Earnest expectation (αποκαραδοκιαν). In Paul alone from αποκαραδοκεω (in papyri). See on Romans 8:19 for only other example.

Shall be magnified (μεγαλυνθησετα). Future passive indicative of μεγαλυνω, old verb, to make great, from μεγας (great). See Acts 19:17.

In my body (εν τω σωματ μου). See Romans 12:1. It is harder often to make Christ great in the body than in the spirit.

Verse 21

For to me (εμο γαρ). Fine example of the ethical dative. Paul gives his own view of living.

To live is Christ (το ζηιν Χριστος). No copula (εστιν), but το ζηιν (the act of living present active infinitive) is the subject as is shown by the article το. Living is coextensive with Christ.

Gain (κερδος). Old word for any gain or profit, interest on money (so in papyri). In N.T. only here, Philippians 3:7; Titus 1:11.

To die (το αποθανειν, second aorist active infinitive, single act) is to cash in both principal and interest and so to have more of Christ than when living. So Paul faces death with independence and calm courage.

Verse 22

If this is the fruit of my work (τουτο μο καρπος εργου). There is no ε (if) here in the Greek, but τουτο (this) seems to be resumptive and to repeat the conditional clause just before. If so, κα just after means

then and introduces the conclusion of the condition. Otherwise τουτο introduces the conclusion and κα means

and .

I wot not (ου γνωριζω). "I know not." It seems odd to preserve the old English word "wot" here. But it is not clear that γνωριζω (old causative verb from γινωσκω) means just to know. Elsewhere in the N.T., as in Luke 2:15; Romans 9:22, it means to make known, to declare. The papyri examples mean to make known. It makes perfectly good sense to take its usual meaning here, "I do not declare what I shall choose."

Verse 23

I am in a strait (συνεχομα). "I am held together." Present passive indicative of the common compound verb συνεχω, to hold together, to hem together as in Luke 8:45. "I am hemmed in on both sides" (Lightfoot).

Betwixt the two (εκ των δυο). "From the two (sides)." Pressure to live on, pressure to die and be with Christ.

To depart (εις το αναλυσα). Purpose clause, εις το and the aorist active infinitive αναλυσα, old compound verb, to unloose (as threads), to break up, to return (Luke 12:36, only other N.T. example), to break up camp (Polybius), to weigh anchor and put out to sea, to depart (often in old Greek and papyri). Cf. καταλυω in 2 Corinthians 5:1 for tearing down the tent.

Very far better (πολλω μαλλον κρεισσον). Double comparative (triple Lightfoot calls it because of πολλω) like Isocrates and the Koine often. See 2 Corinthians 7:13 for περισσοτερως μαλλον. Πολλω is the instrumental case of measure (by much).

Verse 24

In the flesh (εν τη σαρκ). So B D G, but Aleph A C do not have εν. Unnecessary with επιμενω, to abide by (common verb).

Verse 25

And abide with you all (κα παραμενω πασιν υμιν). Common Pauline idiom to repeat the simple verb (μενω) as a compound (παραμενω, future active indicative), old verb, to remain beside followed by locative case. See same idiom in χαιρω, συνχαιρω (Philippians 2:17).

Verse 26

In Christ Jesus in me (εν Χριστω Ιησου εν εμο). "In Christ Jesus" as the basis for the glorying (καυχημα), "in me" as the instance in point.

Through my presence (δια της εμης παρουσιας). The word so often used of the second coming of Christ, but here in its ordinary sense as in Philippians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 16:17.

Verse 27

Let your manner of life (πολιτευεσθε). Old verb from πολιτης, citizen, and that from πολις, city, to be a citizen, to manage a state's affairs, to live as a citizen. Only twice in N.T., here and Acts 23:1. Philippi as a colony possessed Roman citizenship and Paul was proud of his own possession of this right. The Authorized Version missed the figure completely by the word "conversation" which did refer to conduct and not mere talk as now, but did not preserve the figure of citizenship. Better render, "Only do ye live as citizens."

Striving (συναθλουντες). Rather, "striving together" as in an athletic contest. Late and rare word (Diodorus). "The very energy of the Christian faith to produce energetic individualities" (Rainy). "Striving in concert" (Lightfoot).

For the faith (τη πιστε). For the teaching of the gospel, objective sense of πιστις (faith).

Verse 28

Affrighted (πτυρομενο). Present passive participle of πτυρω, old verb, to frighten. The metaphor is of a timid or scared horse and from πτοεω (πτοα, terror). "Not startled in anything."

By the adversaries (υπο των αντικειμενων). These men who were lined up against (present middle participle of αντικειμα) may have been Jews or Gentiles or both. See 2 Thessalonians 2:4 for this late verb. Any preacher who attacks evil will have opposition.

Evident token (ενδειξις). Old word for proof. See 2 Corinthians 8:24; Romans 3:25. "An Attic law term" (Kennedy) and only in Paul in N.T.

Perdition (απωλειας). "Loss" in contrast with "salvation" (σωτηριας).

And that (κα τουτο). Idiomatic adverbial accusative. "It is a direct indication from God. The Christian gladiator does not anxiously await the signal of life or death from the fickle crowd" (Lightfoot).

Verse 29

In the behalf of Christ (το υπερ Χριστου). Literally, "the in behalf of Christ." But Paul divides the idea and uses the article to again both with πιστευειν and with πασχειν. Suffering in behalf of Christ is one of God's gifts to us.

Verse 30

Conflict (αγωνα). Athletic or gladiatorial contest as in 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7. The Philippians saw Paul suffer (Acts 16:19-40; 1 Thessalonians 2:2) as now they have heard about it in Rome.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Philippians 1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/philippians-1.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.