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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
Philippians 2

 

 

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Verses 1-14

Christian unity and humility

Philippians 2:1-14

This chapter is an exhortation to unity of spirit, mutual affection and love for one another, humility and lowliness of mind and real concern and care for one another.

Philippians 2:1-2. Our Master said, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments.’ John said, ‘If they had been of us, they no doubt would have continued with us.’ Paul uses the same argument in these verses.

1. ‘If there be any comfort and confidence in Christ,’ that is, if you have a genuine reason for hope in Christ founded on person, his righteousness and his death and intercession.

2. ‘If there be any comfort and strength in love,’ the love of the Father for us which is everlasting; the love of the Son who gave himself for us; the love of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, and the love of brethren, which is so pleasant and delightful.

3. ‘If there be any fellowship of the Spirit,’ – if there is such a thing as a union of spirits, a oneness of heart and communion with one another.

4. ‘If there is any bowels and mercy’ – if there is any real depth to your affection, and real compassion and concern for one another, then fulfill ye my joy. I rejoice in the evidence of your being complete and entire by living together in unity, love, mutual concern and respect, and by having the same purpose. Be of one mind in the gospel of grace, the glory of Christ and the work of the church. This reveals the grace of God in you’ (James 2:26).

Philippians 2:3. When things are done through strife, it involves quarrelling, contention and dividing into bitter camps. It leads to division. This is not the Spirit of Christ. We are not to do things seeking recognition and personal praise; this is empty vainglory. In humility and sincerity, let us regard the other brother as spiritually superior to ourselves. Paul said, ‘I am less than the least of the saints.’ Be ready to give way to the judgment and desires of others as they are in accord with the Scriptures.

Philippians 2:4. ‘Look not every man on his own interests but on the interests and welfare of others.’ Paul is still talking mainly of church fellowship. A man must have concern for his relationship with Christ, the right ordering of his home and children, his business and his other responsibilities; he is not to leave these to the care of others! He ought to be as concerned for the welfare of his brother in Christ as he is for his own comforts. Respecting spiritual things and spiritual gifts, a believer should not seek to have his own way, but should consult the glory of Christ, the will of the Spirit and the general good and peace of all the church.

Philippians 2:5-11. Having called for unity of spirit and purpose, love and humility among brethren and sincere compassion and concern for one another, Paul uses the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:5. ‘Let that humility be seen in you that was in Christ.’ Let this same attitude be in you that was in Christ. Let Christ be your example of humility and lowliness of mind.

Philippians 2:6. Although being essentially one with God, Christ did not seek to obtain it by force and robbery, as did Satan and Adam. He was God and was with God in the beginning. He did not in any showy display exhibit his glory and power.

Philippians 2:7. Rather, he stripped himself of all privileges and rightful dignity and became a mere man, a carpenter and a friend of sinners.

Philippians 2:8. He was really a man, not just in appearance, but in reality. He lay nine months in a womb; he lay in a manger; he knew hunger, thirst, weariness, grief, pain and death. His real submission and obedience, from the cradle to the cross, is our example – not only our righteousness (Romans 5:19), but our example!

Philippians 2:9-11. God, the Father, has highly exalted and rewarded him.

Philippians 2:12. ‘Wherefore (staying with our subject and example), since you have heard my teachings and have obeyed the exhortations of God (whether I preached them to you in person or by letter), work out these Christian attitudes and principles,’ which are called ‘your salvation’ (not of your souls, but the deliverance of the church from strife and division). Do it in fear and trembling, not in fear of men or fear of damnation, but with serious caution and humility, lest we disturb and destroy the fellowship of the church which our Lord purchased with his own blood.

Philippians 2:13. ‘This attitude of humility and this spirit of love and unity are not of your own doing; but it is God who energizes and creates in you the desire and the ability to do his good pleasure. Your unity is his pleasure.’

Philippians 2:14. ‘Do all things without murmuring, grumbling, or finding fault, either with God or the brethren.’

Let brethren all agree, and peace among them spread;

Old and young, rich and poor, are one in Christ, their Head.

Among the saints on earth, let fervent love be found,

Sons of our great God, with common blessings crowned;

Let pride, that child of hell, be banished far away;

Those should in humility dwell, who the same Lord obey.


Verses 14-30

The importance of faithful ministers

Philippians 2:14-30

Philippians 2:14-15. In the preceding verses Paul exhorts to us Christian unity, sincere love, humility and care, and concern for the needs and welfare of others. All good things which accompany salvation (whether civil, moral, or spiritual), no matter how disagreeable to our flesh, are to be done without murmuring against the will of God or disputing among ourselves.

‘That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God,’ in the sight of men, not in the sight of God. In Christ we are blameless before God. In Christ we are sons of God. Paul is saying that our attitude, conversation and conduct before our brethren and the wicked of this world should be such that they cannot charge us with hypocrisy and insincerity. We are to be lights and examples to those about us, ‘that they may see our good works and glorify our Father’ (Matthew 5:16). In short, let us speak and live as sons of God ought (Romans 12:1-2).

Philippians 2:16. ‘Holding out and offering to men the word of life,’ the gospel of our Lord Jesus (1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:10). If these two things are present in and among you, then I have not labored in vain and I will be able to rejoice with you in the day of glory. Your conduct and character reveal that you are one with Christ (sons of God) and that you are burdened and concerned that others come to know the Lord Jesus. Love for Christ and love for others will constrain us to please him and to evangelize them! (Matthew 22:36-40; Galatians 5:14).

Philippians 2:17-18. Paul had been the means God used to bring the Philippian believers to Christ. He also believed that he would be killed for preaching the gospel; thus he says, ‘Do not be sorrowful when you hear of my death and the pouring out of my blood for the sake of the gospel; but rejoice with me, for I am ready not only to be bound but to die for Christ's sake’ (Acts 21:13; Acts 5:41).

Philippians 2:19. Paul wished to send Timothy to visit the church (and preach to them) that he might know of their general spiritual welfare, how the gospel stood with them, how they kept the ordinances, how their ministers preached, etc. Notice how Paul proposes this: ‘I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy.’ Even the apostle Paul subjected his intentions, desires and plans to the will of our Lord! (Romans 8:26 : James 4:13-15).

Philippians 2:20-21. This is a serious charge, but unfortunately true. Not all ministers are genuinely interested in the glory of Christ and the good of their congregations. Rather, they seek to advance their own interests. Timothy had a heart and soul like Paul's! He preached the gospel of God's glory and grace. He sought not his own comfort and praise, but he cared for the spiritual welfare of the people (Ezekiel 34:1-6).

Philippians 2:22-24. ‘You know Timothy's value and worth. He was with me when I preached to you at the first. He was as a son to me in the labors of the Lord. I trust that I shall also be able to visit you.’ Our Lord uses his ministers to teach, set in order and lead his church. We are not to despise our true spiritual leaders, but to respect and follow them as they follow Christ (Ephesians 4:10-16; Philippians 2:29).

Philippians 2:25-30. Meanwhile, before Paul or Timothy could come to preach and minister to them, Epaphroditus, one of their own ministers, would return to them. He had been sent to Rome with presents from them to Paul. While at Rome (or on the journey to Rome), he became ill and was at the point of death. Believers have natural bodies and are subject to illness the same as all men, but God had compassion on him and healed him (James 5:15-16).

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on Philippians 2:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/philippians-2.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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