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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Philippians 4

 

 

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Verse 1

Philippians 3:1 to Philippians 4:1.] WARNING AGAINST CERTAIN JUDAIZERS,—ENFORCED BY HIS OWN EXAMPLE (1–16): ALSO AGAINST IMMORAL PERSONS (17–4:1).


Verse 17

17–4:1.] Exhortation to follow his example (17): warning against the enemies of the cross of Christ (18, 19): declaration of the high privileges and hopes of Christians (20, 21), and affectionate entreaty to stedfastness (Philippians 4:1). Be imitators together (i.e. with one another: so, and not imitators together with those mentioned below (Mey., Wies.), must the word here be rendered. The latter would be allowable as far as the word is concerned, but the form of the sentence determines for the other. συμμιμηταί μου γίνεσθε forms a complete clause, in which συμμιμηταί has the place of emphasis, and in συμμιμηταί the preposition: it is therefore unallowable to pass on the sense of the συμ. to another clause from which it is separated by καί and another verb. So that instead of καὶ σκοπεῖτε κ. τ. λ. being a reason for this meaning, it is in fact a reason against it) of me, and observe (for imitation: τοὺς εὐτέλειαν μᾶλλον ἢ πολυχρηματίαν σκοποῦντας, Xen. Symp. iv. 42) those who walk in such manner as ye have an example in us. The construction is much controverted. Meyer and Wiesinger would separate οὕτως and καθώςobserve those who thus walk (i.e. as implied above); as ye have (emphatic—ye are not in want of) an example in us (viz. Paul and those who thus walk). My objection to this is, that if οὕτως and καθώς are to be independent—the three verbs γίνεσθε, σκοπεῖτε, ἔχετε, being thus thrown into three independent clauses, will be all correlative, and the ἔχετε τύπον will not apply to οὕτως περιπατοῦντας, but to the foregoing verbs, thus stultifying the sentence: “Be &c., and observe &c., as ye have an example (viz. of being συμμιμηταί μου and of σκοπεῖν τοὺς οὕτως περιπατοῦντας) in us.” Besides which, the οὕτως περιπατοῦντας would he (1) very vague as referring back to what went before, seeing that no περιπατεῖν has been specified, whereas (2) it is directly related to what follows, by the πολλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν of Philippians 3:18. I therefore retain the usuul rendering. Meyer’s objections to it are, (1) that it is ἔχετε, not ἔχουσιν:—but this does not affect the matter: for, the example including in its reference the τοὺς οὕτως περιπατοῦντας and the Philippians, the 2nd person would be more naturally used, the 3rd making a separation which would not be desirable:—(2) that it is ἡμᾶς, not ἐμέ:—but granting that this does not apply to Paul alone, it certainly cannot, as Mey., be meant to include the τοὺς οὕτ. περ. with him, which would be a way of speaking unprecedented in his writings,—but must apply to himself and his fellow-workers, Timotheus, Epaphroditus, &c. Of course the τύπον is no objection (as De W.) to the proper plural sense of ἡμᾶς, for it is used of that wherein they were all united in one category, as in ἡδεῖς τὴν ὄψιν (Plato), κακοὶ τὴν ψυχήν (Æsch.): see Kühner, ii. 27.


Verse 1

1.] Concluding exhortation, referring to what has passed since ch. Philippians 3:17,—not farther back, for there first he turns directly to them in the second person, with ἀδελφοί, as here,—there also οὕτως occurs, answering to the οὕτως here,—and there, in the Christian’s hopes, Philippians 4:20-21, lies the ground of the ὥστε here.

ὥστε] ‘quæ cum ita sint’—since we have such a home, and look for such a Saviour, and expect such a change:— ὥστε κἂν ὁρᾶτε τούτους χαίροντας, κἂν ὁρᾶτε δεδοξασμένους, στήκετε, Chrys. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58.

ἐπιπόθ.] longed for. The word occurs in Appian, vi. 43, ὅρκους τε ὤμοσεν αὐτοῖς κ. ἔλαβεν, ἐπιποθήτους ἐν τοῖς ὕστερον πολέμοις πολλάκις γενομένους. For the verb, see ch. Philippians 1:8 reff.: for the substantive, - ησις, 2 Corinthians 7:7; 2 Corinthians 7:11.

στέφανος] from ref. 1 Thess., both χαρά and στέφανος apply to the future great day in the Apostle’s mind. And indeed even without such reference to his usus loquendi, it would be difficult to dissociate the “crown” from such thoughts as that in 2 Timothy 4:8.

οὕτως] see above: ‘as I have been describing:’ not ὡς ἑστήκατε ἀκλινῶς, as Chrys., Thl., Œc., Calv., Beng., ‘ita, ut statis, state,’ which would be inconsistent with ch. Philippians 3:17.

ἐν κυρίῳ] as the element wherein your stedfastness consists.

ἀγαπητοί] an affectionate repetition: μετʼ εὐφημίας πολλῆς ἡ παραίνεσις, Thdrt. “Doctrinam suo more vehementioribus exhortationibus claudit, quo eam hominum animis tenacius infigat. Et blandis appellationibus in eorum affectus se insinuat: quæ tamen non sunt adulationis, sed sinceri amoris.” Calv.


Verse 2

2.] Euodia and Syntyche (both women, cf. αὐταῖς and αἵτινες below) appear to have needed this exhortation on account of some disagreement, both however being faithful, and fellow-workers (perhaps deaconesses, Romans 16:1) with himself in the Gospel. θαυμάζει μὲν τὰς γυναῖκας· αἰνίττεται δὲ ὡς ἔριν τινὰ πρὸς ἀλλήλας ἐχούσας, Thdrt. The repetition of the verb παρακαλῶ not merely signifies ‘vehementiam affectus’ (Erasm.), but hints at the present separation between them.

τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν] see ch. Philippians 2:2, note. He adds ἐν κυρίῳ, both to shew them wherein their unanimity must consist, and perhaps to point out to them that their present alienation was not ἐν κυρίῳ.


Verses 2-9

2–9.] Concluding exhortations to individuals (2, 3), and to all (4–9).


Verse 3

3.] ναί assumes the granting of the request just made, and carries on farther the same matter, see Phlippians 1:20 and note; but does not conjure, as Grot., al.

γνήσιε σύνζυγε] true (‘genuine:’—true, as distinguished from counterfeit: lit. of legitimate worth ( γενήσιος)) yoke-fellow. Who is intended, it is quite impossible to say. Various opinions have been, (1) that St. Paul addresses his own wife. So Clem. Alex. Strom. iii. 6 (53), p. 535 P, καὶ ὅ γε παῦλος οὐκ ὀκνεῖ ἔν τινι ἐπιστολῇ τὴν αὐτοῦ προσαγορεύειν σύνζυγον, ἣν οὐ περιεκόμιζε διὰ τὸ τῆς ὑπηρεσίας εὐσταλές,—Eus. H. E. iii. 30, al. But this is evidently an error, and Thdrt. says rightly,— τὸν δὲ σύνζ. τινες ἀνοήτως ὑπέλαβον γυναῖκα εἶναι τοῦ ἀποστόλου, οὐ προσεσχηκότες τοῖς ἐν τῇ πρὸς κορινθίους γεγραμμένοις (1 Corinthians 7:8), ὅτι τοῖς ἀγάμοις συνέταξεν ἑαυτόν. Besides which, the adjective in this case would be feminine,—cf. Eur. Alcest. 326, ποίας τυχοῦσα συνζύγου;—and 354, τοιᾶσδʼ ἁμαρτάνοντι συνζύγου: perhaps even if it were of two terminations (as adjectives in - ιος frequently in the N. T., e.g. οὐράνιος, Luke 2:13; Acts 24:19; ὁσίους χεῖρας, 1 Timothy 2:8, &c. See Winer, § 11. 1), in which case Ellic. remarks, it would revert to three terminations; but authority for this statement seems wanting. (2) that he was the husband, or brother, of Euodia or Syntyche; so Chrys. doubtfully, and Thl., al. But then the epithet would hardly be wanted—nor would the expression be at all natural. (3) that he was some fellow-labourer of the Apostle. So Thdrt.,— σύνζυγον καλεῖ, ὡς τὸν αὐτὸν ἕλκοντα τῆς εὐσεβείας ζυγόν, Pelag., all., and De W.,—and of these some (Grot., Calov., al.) have understood Epaphroditus,—Estius, Timotheus,—Bengel (but afterwards he preferred Epaphroditus), Silas,—Luther, the chief bishop at Philippi. (4) Others have regarded σύνζυγε as a proper name: so τινές in Chrys. and Œc., and so Meyer. In this case the γνήσιε would mean, ‘who art veritably, as thy name is,’ a yoke-fellow. And this might be said by the Apostle, who elsewhere compares the Christian minister to the βοῦς ἀλοῶν. It seems to me that we must choose between the two last hypotheses. The objections to each are about of equal weight: the Apostle no where else calls his fellow-labourers σύνζυγοι,—and the proper name σύνζυγος is no where else found. But these are no reasons, respectively, against either hypothesis. We may safely say with Chrys., εἴτε τοῦτο, εἴτε ἐκεῖνο, οὐσφόδρα ἀκριβολογεῖσθαι δεῖ.

συνλαμβάνου αὐταῖς] help them (Euodia and Syntyche): but not, as Grot., ‘ut habeant, unde se suosque honeste sustentent:’ it is the work of their reconciliation which he clearly has in view, and in which they would need help.

αἵτινες] ‘utpote quæ’—seeing that they.… The E. V. here is in error, ‘help those women which …’ The Gospel at Philippi was first received by women, Acts 16:13 ff., and these two must have been among those who, having believed, laboured among their own sex for its spread.

ἐν τῷ εὐαγ.] see reff.

μετὰ καὶ κλήμεντος] These words belong to συνήθλησαν, not to συνλαμβάνου, and are rather an additional reminiscence, than a part of the exhortation ‘as did Clemens also &c.’ q. d. ‘not that I mean, by naming those women with distinction, to imply forgetfulness of those others &c., and especially of Clemens.’ The insertion of καί between the preposition and substantive is said to be a habit principally of Pindar,—e.g. ἐν καὶ θαλάσσᾳ, Ol. ii. 28; ἐν καὶ τελευτᾷ, Ol. vii. 26; ἐπὶ καὶ θανάτῳ, Pyth. iv. 330. See Hartung, i. 143.

It is not necessary to regard the καὶκαί as bound together: so that these examples are in point (against Ellic.).

Clemens must have been a fellow-worker with the Apostle at Philippi, from the context here; and, from the non-occurrence of any such name among Paul’s fellow-travellers, and the fact that οἱ λοιποὶ συνεργοί must have been Philippians,—himself a native of Philippi. It is perhaps arbitrary, seeing that the name is so common, to assume his identity with Clemens afterwards Bishop of Rome, and author of the Epistles to the Corinthians. So Eus. H. E. iii. 4, ὁ κλήμης, τῆς ῥωμαίων κ. αὐτὸς ἐκκλησίας τρίτος ἐπίσκοπος καταστάς, παύλου συνεργὸς κ. συναθλητὴς γεγονέναι πρὸς αὐτοῦ μαρτυρεῖται: see also H. E. Philippians 4:6; so Origen, Com. in Joan. t. vi. 36, vol. iv. p. 153: and Jer. Script. Eccl., 15, vol. ii. p. 854. Chrys. does not notice any such idea. See on the whole, Ellicott’s note.

ὧν τὰ ὀν. ἐν βίβλῳ ζωῆς] belongs to the λοιποί, whom he does not name: whose names are (not a wish, εἴη, as Bengel, nor are they to be regarded as dead when this was written) in the book of life (reff., and Luke 10:20).


Verse 4

4. πάλιν ἐρῶ] AGAIN I Will say it: referring to ch. Philippians 3:1, where see note. It is the ground-tone of the Epistle.


Verses 4-9

4–9.] Exhortation to ALL.


Verse 5

5.] τὸ ἐπιεικές, your forbearance, from ἐπί, implying direction, and εἰκός, ἔοικα (not εἴκω, to yield, as Trench, N. T. Syn. 171: see Palm and Rost’s Lex., under the word, as also under εἴκω and ἔοικα), reasonableness of dealing, wherein not strictness of legal right, but consideration for one another, is the rule of practice. Aristot., Eth. Nic. 4:10. 6, defines it to be that which fills up the necessary deficiencies of law, which is general, by dealing with particular cases as the law-giver would have dealt with them if he had been by. διό, he adds, δίκαιον μέν ἐστι, καὶ βέλτιόν τινος δικαίου· … καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ φύσις ἡ τοῦ ἐπιεικοῦς, ἐπανόρθωμα νόμου, ᾗ ἐλλείπει διὰ τὸ καθόλου. And he describes the ἐπιεικής as ὁ μὴ ἀκριβοδίκαιος ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον. See Trench, New Test. Syn., as above.

By the γνωσθήτω πᾶσιν ἀνθρ., the Apostle rather intends, ‘let no man know of you any inconsistency with ἐπιείκεια.’ The universality of it justifies its application even to those described above, ch. Philippians 3:18 f.,—that though warned against them, they were to shew all moderation and clemency towards them: so Chrys. Meyer observes well, that the succession of these precepts seems to explain itself psychologically by the disposition of spiritual joy in the Lord exalting us both above rigorism, and above anxiety of mind (Philippians 4:6).

ὁ κύριος ἐγγύς] These words may apply either to the foregoing—‘the Lord will soon come, He is the avenger; it is yours to be moderate and clement’ (so De Wette, al.): or to the following—‘the Lord is near, be not anxious:’ so Chrys., Thdrt., all. Perhaps we may best regard it as the transition from the one to the other: Christ’s coming is at hand—this is the best enforcer of clemency and forbearance: it also leads on to the duty of banishing anxiety.

ὁ κύριος is Christ, and the ἐγγύς refers to the παρουσία; see on ch. Philippians 3:20.


Verse 6

6.] μηδέν has the emphasis. It is the accusative of the object, as τὸ πολλὰ μεριμνᾷν, Xen. Cyr. viii. 7. 12.

ἐν παντί] in every thing: see ref. 1 Thess. and note. Meyer remarks that the literally correct rendering of the Vulg. ‘in omni (neut.) oratione’ led Ambrose wrong, who gives it ‘per omnem orationem.’

τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ δεήσει] by your prayer and your supplication: or better, by the prayer and the supplication appropriate to each thing. On the difference between προσευχή and δέησις, see on Ephesians 6:18, 1 Timothy 2:1.

Not μετὰ τῆς εὐχαριστίας, because the matters themselves may not be recognized as grounds of εὐχαριστία, but it should accompany every request. Ellic., who doubts this explanation, thinks it “more simple to say that εὐχαριστία, ‘thanksgiving for past blessings,’ is in its nature more general and comprehensive, προς. and δεησ. almost necessarily more limited and specific. Hence, though εὐχαρ. occurs 12 times in St. Paul’s Epistles, it is only twice used with the article, 1 Corinthians 14:26, 2 Corinthians 4:15.” But I much prefer the other view.

τὰ αἰτήματα] = ὃ ἂν αἰτώμεθα, 1 John 5:15. Plato, Rep. viii. p. 566, speaks of τὸ τυραννικὸν αἴτημααἰτεῖν τὸν δῆμον φύλακάς τινας τοῦ σώματος.

πρὸς τὸν θεόν] unto, ‘before,’ ‘coram:’ see Acts 8:24.


Verse 7

7.] Consequence of this laying every thing before God in prayer with thanksgiving—peace unspeakable.

καί, and then.

ἡ εἰρ. τοῦ θεοῦ, that peace which rests in God and is wrought by Him in the soul, the counterpoise of all troubles and anxieties—see John 16:33—… ἵνα ἐν ἐμοὶ εἰρήνην ἔχητε· ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ θλίψιν ἔχετε. Meyer denies that εἰρήνη ever has this meaning: but he is certainly wrong. The above verse, and John 16:27, Colossians 3:15, cannot be fully interpreted on his meaning, mere mutual concord. It is of course true, that mutual concord, and τὸ ἐπιεικές, are necessary elements of this peace: but it goes far beyond them. See the alternatives thoroughly discussed, as usual, in Ellic.’s note.

ἡ ὑπερέχουσα πάντα νοῦν] not as Chrys., ὅταν λέγῃ πρὸς τοὺς ἐχθροὺς εἰρηνεύεινπῶς οὐχ ὑπὲρ νοῦν ἐστιν ἀνθρώπινον τοῦτο; nor as Estius, “quia omnem expectationem humanam excedit, quod Deus pro inimicis sibi reconciliandis filium suum dederit in mortem:” nor as Calvin, “quia nihil humano ingenio magis adversum, quam in summa desperatione nihilominus sperare:” but as Erasm., all., “res felicior quam ut humana mens queat percipere.” νοῦς is the intelligent faculty, the perceptive and appreciative power: reff. On the sentiment itself, cf. Ephesians 3:19.

φρουρήσει must not with Chrys., Thdrt., Thl., Luth., all. and Vulg., be made optative in sense: it is not a wish, but a declaration—following upon the performance of the injunction above.

τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν κ. τὰ νοήματα ὑμῶν] The heart is the fountain of the thoughts, i.e. designs, plans (not minds, as E. V.): so that this expression is equivalent to ‘your hearts themselves, and their fruits.’

ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ is not the predicate after φρουρήσειshall keep &c. in Christ, i.e. keep them from falling from Christ ( ὥστε μένειν κ. μὴ ἐκπεσεῖν αὐτοῦ τῆς πίστεως, Chrys.): but, as usual, denotes the sphere or element of the φρουρά thus bestowed—that it shall be a Christian security:—the verb φρουρήσει being absolute.


Verse 8

8.] τὸ λοιπόν resumes again his intention of closing the Epistle with which he had begun ch. 3., but from which he had been diverted by incidental subjects. It is unnatural to attribute to the Apostle so formal a design as De W. does, of now speaking of man’s part, as he had hitherto of God’s part:—Chrys. has it rightly,— τί ἐστι τὸ λοιπόν: ἀντὶ τοῦ, πάντα ἡμῖν εἴρηται. ἐπειγομένου τὸ ῥῆμά ἐστι, καὶ οὐδὲν κοινὸν ἔχοντος πρὸς τὰ παρόντα.

This beautiful sentence, full of the Apostle’s fervour and eloquence, derives much force from the frequent repetition of ὅσα, and then of εἴ τις.

ἀληθῆ] subjective, truthful: not, true in matter of fact. The whole regards ethical qualities. ταῦτα γὰρ ὄντως ἀληθῆ, ἡ ἀρετή, ψεῦδος δὲ ἡ κακία. κ. γὰρ ἡ ἡδονὴ αὐτῆς ψεῦδος. κ. ἡ δόξα αὐτῆς ψεῦδος, κ. πάντα τὰ τοῦ κόσμου ψεῦδος. Chrys.

σεμνά] τὸ σεμνὸν ὄνομα, τὸ καλόν τε κἀγαθόν, Xen. Œc. vi. 14. It is difficult to give it in any one English word: ‘honest’ and ‘honourable’ are too weak: ‘reverend’ and ‘venerable,’ ‘grave’ are seldom applied to things: Nor do I know any other more eligible.

δίκαια] not ‘just,’ in respect of others, merely—but right, in that wider sense in which δικαιοσύνη is used—before God and man: see this sense Acts 10:22; Romans 5:7.

ἁγνά] not merely ‘chaste’ in the ordinary confined acceptation: but pure generally: “castimoniam denotat in omnibus vitæ partibus.” Calv.

προσφιλῆ] lovely, in the most general sense: no subjects need be supplied, as τοῖς πιστοῖς, or τῷ θεῷ (Chrys.): for the exhortation is markedly and designedly as general as possible.

εὔφημα] again, general, and with reference to general fame—of good report, as E. V. The meaning ‘sermones qui bene aliis precantur,’ adopted by Storr and Flatt, though philologically justified, is evidently not general enough for our context.

εἴ τις ἀρετὴ] sums up all which have gone before and generalizes still further. The E. V. ‘if there be any virtue,’ &c. is objectionable, not for the reason alleged by Scholefield, Hints, &c. p. 85, as ‘expressing a doubt of the existence of the thing in the abstract,’ which it does not,—but as carrying the appearance of an adjuration, ‘by the existence of,’ &c. which conveys a wrong impression of the sense—whatever virtue there is (not ‘there be,’ as Scholef.) &c.

ἀρετή] virtue, in the most general ethical sense: ἔπαινος, praise, not ‘pro eo quod est laudabile,’ as Calv., al., but as Erasm., ‘laus, virtutis comes.’ The disciplinœ, which follows ‘laus’ in the Vulg. &c., is a pure interpolation, and beside the meaning: see various readings.

ταῦτα—viz., all the foregoing—the ἀληθῆ &c.,—the ἀρετή, and the ἔπαινοςthese things meditate: let them be your νοήματα.


Verse 8-9

8, 9.] Summary exhortation to Christian virtues not yet specified.


Verse 9

9.] These general abstract things he now particularizes in the concrete us having been exemplified and taught by himself when among them. The first καί is not ‘both,’ as E. V., but also,—moreover: which, besides what I have said recommending them above, were also recommended to you by my own example.

ἐμάθετε] again, not as E. V. ‘have learned,’ &c.—but all aorists,—referring to the time when he was among them. Those things which (not ‘whatsoever things:’ we are on generals no longer: nor would he recommend to them all his own sayings and doings; but the καί expressly provides for their being of the kinds specified above) ye moreover learned, and received (reff.: here of receiving not by word of mouth, but by knowledge of his character: the whole is not doctrinal, but ethical) and heard (again not of preaching, but of his tried and acknowledged Christian character, which was in men’s mouths and thus heard) and saw (each for himself) in me ( ἐν ἐμοί will not properly belong to the two first verbs, ἐμάθ. and παρελ., but must be associated by zeugma with them—he himself being clearly the example throughout), these things ( ταῦτα) practise (correlative with, not opposed to, λογίζεσθε above:—that λογισμός being eminently practical, and issuing, in the concrete, in the ταῦτα πράσσειν, after Paul’s example).

καί] and then: see Philippians 4:7. On εἰρήνη, see there.


Verse 10

10.] δέ is transitional; the contrast being between the personal matters which are now introduced, and those more solemn ones which he has just been treating.

ἐν κυρίῳ] see above, ch. Philippians 3:1, Philippians 4:4. “Every occurrence, in his view, has reference to Christ,—takes from Him its character and form.” Wiesinger.

ἤδη ποτέ] now at length, as E. V.: ‘tandem aliquando:’ χρόνον δηλοῦντός ἐστι μακρόν, Chrys. The ποτέ takes up and makes indefinite the ἤδη: as in δή ποτε, δή που, &c. See Klotz ad Devar. p. 607, 8. But no reproof is conveyed by the expression, as Chrys. thinks: see below.

ἀνεθάλετε] lit. ye came into leaf; “metaphora sumta ab arboribus, quarum vis hyeme contracta latet, vere florere incipit,” Calv. But it is fanciful to conclude with Bengel, that it was Spring, when the gift came: see on a similar fancy in 1 Corinthians 5:7. The word is taken transitively (see reff.) by Grot., all.,—‘ye caused to spring again your care for me’ (see below): but the intransitive only will suit the sense here—ye budded forth again in caring for my interest (see below). Your care for me was, so to speak, the life of the tree; it existed just as much in winter when there was no vegetation, when ye ἠκαιρεῖσθε, as when the buds were put forth in spring. This is evident by what follows. We must thank Meyer, to whom we owe so much in accuracy of grammatical interpretation, for having followed out the right track here, first indicated by Bengel, and rendered τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ as the accusative governed by φρονεῖν. The ordinary way (so Wiesinger and Ellicott recently) has been to regard the words as = τὸ φρονεῖν ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ, thus depriving the relative ἐφʼ of any thing to refer to, and producing the logical absurdity (Mey.), ἐφρονεῖτε ἐπὶ τῷ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ φρονεῖν, or forcing ἐφʼ to some unjustified meaning (‘although,’ as Luth., al.,—‘sicut,’ as vulg.,—&c.), or understanding it ‘for whom,’ as Calv., al.,—contrary to the Apostle’s usage, in which (reff.) ἐφʼ is always neuter. But if we take τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ together,—‘my interest,’—and govern it by φρονεῖν, all will be simple and clear: I rejoiced, &c. that at last ye flourished in anxiety for my interest: for which purpose (cf. Plato, Gorg. p. 502 B, ἐφʼ ᾧ ἐσπούδακε:—the purpose, namely, of flourishing, putting forth the supply which you have now sent. Wiesinger prefers the other, and vindicates it from Meyer’s imputation: but to me not convincingly: as neither Ellicott) ye also were anxious (all that long time, imperfect), but had no opportunity ( ἀκαιρέω is a word of later Greek: εὐκαιρέω, its opposite, is used by Lucian, Plutarch, Polyb., &c., as also its compounds ἐνευκαιρέω, προσευκαιρέω, &c. See Phryn. ed. Lobeck, p. 125. Wiesinger well remarks that we must not press this ἠκαιρεῖσθε into a definite hypothesis, such as that their financial state was not adequate—that they had no means of conveyance, &c.—it is perfectly general, and all such fillings up are mere conjecture).


Verses 10-20

10–20.] He thanks them for the supply received from Philippi.


Verse 11

11.] inserted to prevent misunderstanding of the last verse.

οὐχ ὅτι] See ch. Philippians 3:12; my meaning is not, thatκαθʼ, according to, i.e. in consequence of—see reff., and Od. γ. 106, πλαζόμενοι κατὰ ληΐδʼ: Herod. ii. 152, κατὰ ληΐην ἐκπλώσαντας: Thuc. vi. 31, κατὰ θέαν ἥκειν: not, as Van Hengel, ‘ut more receptum est penuriæ,’ which would be κατὰ τοὺς ὑστεροῦντας (see Romans 3:5 al.).

For I (emphatic: for my part, whatever others may feel) learned (in my experience, my training for this apostolic work: not ‘have learned:’ the aorist is much simpler and more humble—‘I was taught:’ the present result of this teaching comes below, οἶδα, but not in this word), in the state in which I am (not ‘in whatsoever state I am’ (E. V.: which would be ἐν οἷς ἂν εἰμί,—cf. ὅπου ἂν εἰσεπορεύετο, Mark 6:56, ὅσοι ἂν ἥπτοντο αὐτοῦ, ib. Winer, § 42. 3. a), nor as Luther, bei welchen ich bin ( οἷς masculine), which is against the context. But ἐν οἷς εἰμί does not apply only to the Apostle’s present circumstances, but to any possible present ones: ‘in which I am at any time:’ see next verse) to find competence (we have no word for αὐτάρκης. ‘Self-sufficing’ will express its meaning of independence of external help ( τελειότης κτήσεως ἀγαθῶν, Plato, Def. p. 412), but is liable to be misunderstood: ‘competent’ is not in use in this sense, though the abstract noun competence is: the German genügsam gives it well).


Verse 12

12.] See above. I know (by this teaching) also (the first καί expresses that, besides the general finding of competence in all circumstances, he specially has been taught to suffer humiliation and to bear abundance. See Ellic.’s note) how to be brought low (generally: but here especially by need, in humiliation of circumstances.

Meyer remarks that 2 Corinthians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 6:9-10, are a commentary on this), I know also ( καί as before, or as an addition to οἶδα καὶ ταπεινοῦσθαι) how to abound ( ὑψοῦσθαι, as Wies. remarks, would be the proper general opposite: but he chooses the special one, which fits the matter of which he is treating): in every thing (not as vulg., E. V., all., ‘every where,’ nor ‘at every time,’ as Chrys., Grot.,—nor both, as Thl., &c.:—but as usually in St. Paul: see ref. and note) and in all things (not, as Luth., Beng., ‘respectu omnium hominum:’ ἐν παντὶ πράγματί, φησι, κ. ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς παρεμπίπτουσι, Œc.: the expression conveys universality, as ‘in each and all,’ with us) I have been taught the lesson (‘initiated:’ but no stress to be laid, as by Beng., ‘disciplina arcana imbutus sum, ignota mundo:’ see the last example below. Beware (against Wiesinger) of joining μεμύημαι with ἐν παντὶ κ. ἐν πᾶσιν, initiated in, &c.; the verb is (against Ellicott) not constructed with ἐν, but with an accusative of the person and the thing ( μυεῖν τινά τι), which last accusative remains with the passive: so μʼ ἀνὴρ ἐμύησʼ ἑλικωνίδα, Anthol. ix. 162,— οἱ τὰς τελετὰς μεμυημένοι, Plato, Symp. p. 209. The present construction, with an infinitive, occurs, Alciphr. ii. 4, κυβερνᾷν μυηθήσομαι) both to be satiated and to hunger (the forms πεινᾷν, διψᾷν, for - ῇν, seem to have come in with Macedonian influence: being found first in Aristotle; see Lobeck in Phryn. p. 61), both to abound and to be in need.


Verse 13

13.] ‘After these special notices, he declares his universal power,—how triumphantly, yet how humbly!’ Meyer. I can do (reff.: so μηδὲν ἰσχύειν, Plato Crit. p. 50 B) all things (not ‘all these things,’ τὰ πάντα, as Van Hengel: ‘the Apostle rises above mere relations of prosperous and adverse circumstance, to the general,’ De W.) in (in union with,—by means of my spiritual life, which is not mine, but Christ living in me, Galatians 2:20; the E. V. ‘through’ does not give this union sufficiently) him who strengthens me (i.e. Christ, as the gloss rightly supplies: cf. 1 Timothy 1:12).


Verse 14

14.] ‘Cavet, ne fortiter loquendo contempsisse ipsorum beneficium videatur.’ Calv. μὴ γὰρ ἐπειδή, φησιν, ἐν χρείᾳ οὐ καθέστηκα, νομίσητε μὴ δεῖσθαί με τοῦ πράγματος· δέομαι διʼ ὑμᾶς. Chrys.

συγκοινωνήσαντές μου τῇ θλίψει] ὅρα σοφίαν, πῶς ἐπαίρει τὸ πρᾶγμα, Thl.: in that ye made yourselves partakers with my present tribulation (not poverty: by their sympathy for him they suffered with him; and their gift was a proof of this sympathy).


Verse 15

15.] δέ contrasts this former service with their present one.

καὶ ὑμεῖς] ‘as well as I myself.’ He addresses them by name (as 2 Corinthians 6:11) to mark them particularly as those who did what follows: but not to the absolute exclusion of others, as Bengel (‘antitheton ad ecclesias aliorum oppidorum’): others may have done it too, for aught that this appellative implies: that they did not, is by and by expressly asserted: ἐν ἀρχῇ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, penes vos, Beng.: he places himself in their situation; dates from (so to speak) their Christian era. This he specifies by ὅτε ἐξῆλθον ἀπὸ ΄ακεδονίας. See Acts 17:14. By this is not meant, as commonly understood, the supply which he received at Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:9), in order to which De W., Wies., al., understand ἐξῆλθον as a pluperfect,—but that mentioned below: see there: ἐξῆλθον being the aorist marking the simple date: when I left Macedonia.

οὐδεμία μοι ἐκκλησία] no church communicated with me as to (in) an account of giving and receiving (i.e. every receipt being part of the department of giving and receiving, being one side of such a reckoning, ye alone opened such an account with me. It is true the Philippians had all the giving, the Apostle all the receiving: the debtor side was vacant in their account, the creditor side in his: but this did not make it any the less an account of “giving-and-receiving,” categorically so called. This explanation, which is Meyer’s, is in my view far the most simple (against Ellic., who apparently has misunderstood it), and preferable to the almost universal one, that his creditor and their debtor side was that which he spiritually imparted to them: for the introduction of spiritual gifts does not belong to the context, and therefore disturbs it. Similar usages of λῆψις κ. δόσις occur: e.g. Artemid. i. 44, οἱ διὰ δόσεως κ. λήψεως ποριζόμενοι: Arrian, Epict. ii. 9, τὸν φιλάργυρον ( ἐπαύξουσιν) αἱ ἀκατάλληλοι λήψεις κ. δόσεις: Cicero, Lælio 16, ‘ratio acceptorum et datorum.’ See Wetst.) but you only:


Verses 15-17

15–17.] Honourable recollection of their former kindness to him.


Verse 16

16.] for even in Thessalonica (which was an early stage of my ἐξελθεῖν ἀπὸ ΄ακ., before the departure was consummated. The ὅτι gives a reason for and proof of the former assertion—ye were the only ones, &c.,—and ye began as early as ἐν θεσσ., i.e. when I was at Thessalonica. In such brachylogical constructions the preposition of rest, as belonging to the act accomplished, overbears the preposition of motion, as belonging to it only in its imperfect state; so οἱ ἐν τῷ ἡραίῳ καταπεφευγότες, Xen. Hell. iv. 5. 5,— ταῖς λοιπαῖς ἐν τῇ γῇ καταπεφευγυίαις ἐνέβαλλον, Thuc. iv. 14,— ἀποστελοῦντεςἐν τῇ σικελίᾳ, ib. vii. 17, where ἐς τὴν σ. in Bekker’s text is a correction) ye sent both once and twice (the account of the expression being, that when the first arrived, they had sent once: when the second, not only once, but twice. So in ref.: and Herod. ii. 121, αὐτῷ κ. δὶς κ. τρὶς ἀνοίξαντι: iii. 148, τοῦτο κ. δὶς κ. τρὶς εἴπαντος ΄αιανδρίου. The opposite expression, οὐχ ἅπαξ οὐδὲ δίς, is found in Plato, Clitoph. § 7) ye sent (absolute as in ref.) to (for the supply of, ref.) my necessity.


Verse 17

17.] Again he removes any chance of misunderstanding, as above in Philippians 4:11. It was not for his own sake but for theirs that he rejoiced at their liberality, because it multiplied the fruits of their faith. Not that (see above, Philippians 4:11) I seek (present, ‘it is my character to seek.’ The preposition in composition denotes, as so often, the direction; not studiose, nor insuper) the gift ( τό—in the case in question), but I do seek (the repetition of the verb is solemn and emphatic) the fruit which (thereby, in the case before us) abounds to your account (this εἰς λόγον refers to the same expression, Philippians 4:15—fruit, μισθόν in the day of the Lord, the result of your labour for me in the Lord. De W., after Van Hengel, doubts whether πλεονάζοντα can be constructed with εἰς, and would therefore separate them by a comma. But surely little would be thus gained, for the εἰς would belong to the whole clause, the connecting link being καρπὸν πλεονάζοντα, so that even thus the idea of πλεονάζοντα must be carried on to εἰς: and perhaps in 2 Thessalonians 1:3 it is so: see note there).


Verse 18

18.] But (notwithstanding that the gift is not that which I desire, I have received it, and been sufficiently supplied by it) I have (emphatic, and exactly as in ἀπέχειν τὸν μισθόν—‘I have no more to ask from you, but have enough:’—not as Erasm., Beza, Grot., &c. ‘I have duly received all you sent’) all (I want), and abound (over and above): I am filled (repetition and intensification of περισσεύω), having received at the hands of Epaphroditus the remittance from you, a savour of fragrance (a clause in apposition, expressing a judgment,—so frequently in poetry, especially in tragedians,—Il. ω. 735, ἤ τις ἀχαιῶν ῥίψει, χειρὸς ἑλών, ἀπὸ πύργου, λυγρὸν ὄλεθρον: Eur. Orest. 950, τιθεῖσα λευκὸν ὄνυχα διὰ παρηΐδων, αἱματηρὸν ἄταν. See Kühner, ii. 146. On ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας see Ephesians 5:2, note), a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God (see Hebrews 13:16; 1 Peter 2:5).


Verse 19

19.] an assurance taken up from τῷ θεῷ above, μου because he (Paul) was the receiver: this was his return to them: ‘qui quod servo ejus datur remunerabitur.’ Beng.

πληρώσει all refers to Philippians 4:16; Philippians 4:18;—as ye πεπληρώκατέ μου τὴν χρείαν. It is an assurance, not a wish (- σαι). πᾶσαν,—not only in the department alluded to, but in all. Meyer refers to the beatitudes in Matthew 5 and especially St. Luke’s χορτασθήσεσθε and γελάσετε, Luke 6:21, as illustrative.

ἐν δόξῃ] to be connected with πληρώσει, not with τὸ πλοῦτος αὐτοῦ: not, gloriously, as many Commentators, which is weak and flat in the extreme: but δόξα is the instrument and element by and in which ‘all your need’ will be supplied: in glory, cf. Ps. 16:15 LXX: but not only at the coming of Christ (as Meyer, according to his wont), but in the whole glorious imparting to you of the unsearchable riches of Christ, begun and carried on here, and completed at that day.

ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ] and this filling (or, ‘this glory,’ but then perhaps τῇ would have been expressed) is, consists, and finds its sphere and element, in Christ Jesus.


Verse 20

20.] The contemplation both of the Christian reward, of which he has been speaking, and of the glorious completion of all God’s dealings at the great day,—and the close of his Epistle,—suggests this ascription of praise.

δέ] But—however rich you may be in good works, however strong I may be by Christ to bear all things,—not to us, but to our God and Father be the glory. On εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, see note, Ephesians 3:21.


Verse 21

21.] πάντα ἅγιον, every individual saint. The singular has love and affection, and should not be lost as in Conyb., ‘Salute all God’s people.’

ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ] belongs more probably to ἀσπάσασθε,—see Romans 16:22; 1 Corinthians 16:19,—than to ἅγιον, as in ch. Philippians 1:1, where, as Meyer observes, the expression has a diplomatic formality, whereas here there is no reason for so formal an adjunct.

οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ ἀδελφοί] These must, on account of the next verse, have been his closer friends, perhaps his colleagues in the ministry, such as Aristarchus, Epaphras, Demas, Timotheus. But there has arisen a question, how to reconcile this with ch. Philippians 2:20? And it may be answered, that the lack of ἰσοψυχία there predicated of his companions, did not exclude them from the title ἀδελφοί, nor from sending greeting to the Philippians: see also ch. Philippians 1:14.


Verses 21-23

21–23.] GREETING AND FINAL BENEDICTION.


Verse 22

22.] πάντες οἱ ἅγιοι, all the Christians here.

οἱ ἐκ τῆς καίσαρος οἰκίας] These perhaps were slaves belonging to the familia of Nero, who had been converted by intercourse with St. Paul, probably at this time a prisoner in the prætorian barracks (see ch. Philippians 1:13 note) attached to the palace. This is much more likely, than that any of the actual family of Nero should have embraced Christianity. The hint which Chrys., al., find here, εἰ γὰρ οἱ ἐν τοῖς βασιλείοις πάντων κατεφρόνησαν διὰ τὸν βασιλέα τῶν οὐρανῶν, πολλῷ μᾶλλον αὐτοὺς χρὴ τοῦτο ποιεῖν, is alien from the simplicity of the close of an Epistle. The reason of these being specified is not plain: the connexion perhaps between a colonia, and some of the imperial household, might account for it.


Verse 23

23.] See Galatians 6:18.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Philippians 4:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/philippians-4.html. 1863-1878.

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