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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Philippians 4

 

 

Verse 1

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

'Wherefore:' since we have such a glorious hope (Philippians 3:20-21).

Dearly beloved. Repeated at the close of the verse, implying that his great love to them should be a motive to their obedience.

Longed for , [ epipotheetoi (Greek #1973)] - 'yearned after' in your absence (Philippians 1:8).

Crown - in the day of the Lord (Philippians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:19).

So - as I have admonished you.

Stand fast (Philippians 1:27).


Verse 2

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

Euodias and Syntyche were two women at variance; probably deaconesses or persons of influence (Acts 17:12). He repeats "I beseech," as if he would admonish each separately with impartiality, both being equally to blame.

In the Lord - the element of Christian union: for those "in the Lord" to be at variance is an utter inconsistency.


Verse 3

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

And. ['Aleph (') A B Delta G f g, Vulgate, read Nai: 'Yea'].

True yoke-fellow - in the same Gospel-yoke (Matthew 11:29-30 : cf. 1 Timothy 5:17-18): Luke, who perhaps was at Philippi, as his name is not among the salutations; or Silas (Acts 15:40; Acts 16:19, at Philippi); or the chief of the bishops there. Not Synzygus, a proper name: 'Who art truly, as thy name means, a yoke-fellow.'

Help those women - rather [ autais (Greek #846)] 'help them;' namely, Euodias and Syntyche. 'Cooperate with them' (Birks); or as Alford, 'Help toward their reconciliation.'

Which laboured with me , [ haitines (Greek #3748)] - 'inasmuch as they laboured with me:' not without danger (Acts 16:19-20 : cf. Philippians 1:28). At Philippi women were the first hearers of the Gospel, and Lydia the first convert. It is a coincidence which marks genuineness, that in this letter alone instructions are given to women who laboured with Paul in the Gospel. Euodias and Syntyche were doubtless two of 'the women who resorted to the river-side, where prayer was wont to be made' (Acts 16:13), and being early converted, would naturally take an active part in teaching other women called at a later period; of course, not in public preaching, but in a less prominent sphere (1 Timothy 2:11-12).

Clement - Bishop of Rome shortly after the death of Paul. His letter from the church of Rome to the church of Corinth is extant. It makes no mention of the supremacy of the see of Peter. He was the most eminent of the apostolical fathers. Alford thinks Clement was a Philippian, and not necessarily the Clement Bishop of Rome. But Origen ('Commentary' John 1:29) identifies the Clement here with the Bishop of Rome. A Christian of Philippi, a Roman colony, might easily become subsequently Bishop of Rome.

In the book of life - the register of those whose 'citizenship is in heaven' (Luke 10:20; Philippians 3:20). Anciently, free cities had a roll containing the names of all having the right of citizenship (Exodus 32:32; Psalms 69:28 : cf. Ezekiel 13:9; Daniel 12:1; Revelation 20:12; Revelation 21:27).


Verse 4

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

Alway (Isaiah 61:10) - even amidst the afflictions now distressing you (Philippians 1:28-30).

Again - he had already said "Rejoice" (Philippians 3:1). Joy is the predominant feature of the letter.

I say - Greek, rather, 'I will say.'


Verse 5

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Moderation , [ to (Greek #3588) epieikees (Greek #1933), from eikoo (Greek #1502), 'to yield,' whence yieldingness (Trench); or from eikos, 'fitting,' whence 'reasonableness of dealing' (Alford)] - considerateness for others, not urging one's rights to the uttermost, but waiving a part; thereby rectifying the injustices of justice. The archetype is God, who presses not the strictness of His law against us (Psalms 130:3-4), having exacted the fullest payment for us from our Divine Security. Including candour and kindliness, joy in the Lord raises us above rigorism to,wards others (Philippians 4:5) and carefulness (Philippians 4:6) as to one's own affairs. Sadness produces moroseness toward others-a carking spirit in ourselves.

Let ... be known - i:e., in your conduct to all: let nothing inconsistent with "moderation" be seen. Not, Make a display of your moderation. Let this grace "be known" to men in acts; let "your requests be made known unto God" in words (Philippians 4:6).

Unto all men - even to the "perverse" (Philippians 2:15), that so ye may win them. Exercise 'forbearance' even to persecutors. None is so ungracious as not to be kindly to some one, from some motive, on some occasion: the believer is to be so "unto all men" at all times.

The Lord is at hand. The Lord's coming again speedily is the motive to every Christian grace (James 5:8-9). Harshness to others (the opposite of "moderation") would be taking into our own hands prematurely the Lord's exclusive prerogative of judging (1 Corinthians 4:5): so provoking God to judge us by the strict law (James 2:12-13).


Verse 6

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [ Merimnate (Greek #3309)] 'Be anxious about nothing' (Matthew 6:25). Care and prayer are as mutually opposed as fire and water (Bengel).

By prayer and supplication - `by your [ tee (Greek #3588): the] prayer and your (the) supplication,' as each case requires. [ Proseuchee (Greek #4335)] Prayer for blessings; the general term. [ Deeesis (Greek #1162)] Supplication to avert ill; a special term, suppliant entreaty (note, Ephesians 6:18).

Thanksgiving - for every event, prosperity and affliction alike (1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Timothy 2:1). The Philippians might remember Paul's example at Philippi in the innermost prison (Acts 16:25). Thanksgiving gives effect to prayer (2 Chronicles 20:21), and frees from anxious carefulness, by making all God's dealings matter for praise, not merely for resignation, much less murmuring. "Peace" is the companion of "thanksgiving" (Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15).

Let your requests be made known unto God - with filial, unreserved confidence; not keeping anything back, as too great or too small to bring before God, though you might feel so as to your fellow- men So Jacob, fearing Esau (Genesis 32:9-12); Hezekiah, fearing Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:14; Psalms 37:5).


Verse 7

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

And - the sure consequence of thus laying everything before God in "prayer ... with thanksgiving."

Peace - dispelling 'anxious care' (Philippians 4:6).

Of God - coming from and resting in God (John 14:27; John 16:33).

Passeth - surpasseth all man's natural powers of understanding it (1 Corinthians 2:9-10; Ephesians 3:20 : cf. Proverbs 3:17).

Shall keep , [ phroureesei (Greek #5432)] - 'shall guard,' as a well-garrisoned stronghold (Isaiah 26:1; Isaiah 26:3). The same Greek is used in 1 Peter 1:5. Peace secure within, whatever outward troubles may besiege.

Hearts - the seat of the will and affections.

Minds , [ noeemata (Greek #3540)] - 'understandings:' thoughts emanating from them. Heart has the same relation to soul as mind [ nous (Greek #3563)] to spirit.

Through - Greek, 'in Christ Jesus.' It is in Christ, our fortress (Psalms 18:2), that we are 'kept' secure.


Verse 8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Summary of exhortations as to relative duties, whether as children or parents, husbands or wives, friends, neighbours, men in the world, etc.

True - sincere, especially in words.

Honest , [ semna (Greek #4586)] - 'seemly' in bearing and action; grave, dignified.

Just - toward others.

Pure - `chaste' [ hagna (Greek #53)] (1 Timothy 5:22), in relation to ourselves.

Lovely , [ prosphilee (Greek #4375)] - loveable (cf. Mark 10:21; Luke 7:4-5).

Of good report - referring to the absent (Philippians 1:27): "lovely," loveable face to face: attracting love.

If there be any virtue - `whatever virtue there is' (Alford). "Virtue," the standing word in pagan ethics, is found once only in Paul's letters, and thrice in Peter's (1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:5); and this in uses different from pagan authors' excellence. It is a term earthly and human, as compared with the spiritual graces of Christianity: hence, its rarity in the New Testament. Piety and true morality are inseparable. Despise not anything good; only let it keep its due place.

Praise - whatever is praiseworthy; not that man's praise is to be our aim (cf. John 12:43); but we should live so as to deserve it.

Think on , [ logizesthee (Greek #3049)] - have regard to, so as to "do" these things (Philippians 4:9) whenever occasion arises.


Verse 9

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Both - rather, 'the things also which ye have learned,' etc.; the things which, besides being recommended in words, have been also recommended by my example, carry into practice. Heard, and seen. These two refer to Paul's example, as "learned" and "received" (accepted), to his teaching.

And - `and then,' as the result (Philippians 4:7). Not only 'the peace of God,' but "the God of peace" Himself, "shall be with you."


Verse 10

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

But , [ de (Greek #1161)] - transitional conjunction. 'Now' [ eedee (Greek #2235)] is used to pass to another subject.

In the Lord - the sphere of Christian joy.

At the last , [ pote (Greek #4218)] - he was expecting their gift, not from selfishness, but as a "fruit" of faith to "abound" to their account (Philippians 4:11; Philippians 4:17). Though long in coming, owing to Epaphroditus' sickness and other delays, he does not imply their gift was late.

Your care of me hath flourished again , [ anethalete (Greek #330)] - 'ye have flourished again (as trees sprouting again in spring) in your care for [ huper (Greek #5228)] me.'

Wherein ye were also careful - for which (reflourishing, namely, the sending of a supply to me) ye were also (all along) careful.

But ... - from want of means or a messenger. Your "lack of service" (Philippians 2:30) was owing to your having "lacked opportunity."


Verse 11

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

I have learned. The I is emphatic. I leave it to others, if they will, to be discontented. I, for my part, have learned, by the Holy Spirit's teaching, and the dealings of Providence (Hebrews 5:8).

Content , [ autarkees (Greek #842)] - 'independent of others, having sufficiency in one's self.' Christianity has raised the term above the haughty self-sufficiency of pagan stoicism to the contentment of the Christian, whose sufficiency is not in self, but in God (2 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:6; 1 Timothy 6:8; Hebrews 13:5 : cf. Jeremiah 2:36; Jeremiah 14:5).


Verse 12

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Abased - in low circumstances (2 Corinthians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 6:9-10).

Every where , [ en (Greek #1722) panti (Greek #3956)] - 'in every thing.'

Instructed , [ memueemai (Greek #3453)] - 'initiated in a secret teaching, a mystery unknown to the world.


Verse 13

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

I can do (I have strength for) all things , [ panta (Greek #3956) ischuoo (Greek #2480)] - not merely 'how to be abased and how to abound.' After special instances, he declares his universal power, yet taking no glory to himself. How omnipotent is Christ, who makes His disciples omnipotent in Him!

Through Christ (so C, Origen) which strengtheneth me , ['Aleph (') A B Delta f, Vulgate, omit "Christ"] - 'in Him who giveth me power' [endunamounti me]. IN living union and identification with Him, my power (Galatians 2:20). Compare 1 Timothy 1:12, whence probably "Christ" was inserted here by transcribers (2 Timothy 4:17).


Verse 14

Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

He guards against their thinking he thus makes light of their bounty.

Ye did communicate with my affliction - i:e., ye made yourselves sharers in my present affliction. What chiefly gives me 'joy' (Philippians 4:10) in your contribution is, it is a proof of your sympathy.


Verse 15

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.

Now - `Moreover' [ de (Greek #1161)], 'ye also know' (as well as I do myself). "Ye Philippians" marks his grateful remembrance of them in particular as his benefactors.

In the beginning of the Gospel - dating from the Philippian Christian era: at its first preaching at Philippi.

When I departed from Macedonia (Acts 17:14). The Philippians had followed Paul with their bounty when he went on to Corinth. 2 Corinthians 11:8-9 accords with our passage, the dates assigned to the donation in both agreeing-namely, "in the beginning of the Gospel" here, and there at his first visit to Corinth (Paley). Rather, the supply here is not that received at Corinth, but that sent to him (Acts 17:14) previously "in Thessalonica

... once and again" (Philippians 4:16) (Alford).

As concerning [ eis (Greek #1519) logon (Greek #3056): in regard to the account of]

Giving and receiving - in the account between us, the "giving" on your part, the "receiving on mine; or rather (cf. Philippians 4:17), your giving temporal gifts and receiving spiritual (Chrysostom).

Ye only. We are not to wait for others in a good work, saying, 'I will do so when others do it.' We must go forward though alone.


Verse 16

For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

Even in Thessalonica. "Even" so early as before I left Macedonia, when I had gotten no further than Thessalonica, ye sent me supplies for my necessities more than once.


Verse 17

Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

A gift. 'It is not that I seek after the gift [ to (Greek #3588) doma (Greek #1390)], but I do seek after the fruit that aboundeth to your account:' the abounding of fruits of your faith to be put down to your account against the day of reward (Hebrews 6:10).


Verse 18

But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

But. Though 'the gift' is not what I 'seek after' (Philippians 4:17), yet I am grateful for it, as ample for all my needs. [ Apechoo (Greek #568)] 'I have all' that I want, 'and more than enough;' literally, 'I abound.'

I am full , [ pepleeroomai (Greek #4137)] - 'I am filled full.'

An odour of a sweet smell (note, Ephesians 5:2). The figure is drawn from the sweet-smelling incense burnt with the sacrifices: their gift being in faith, was not so much to Paul as to God (Matthew 25:40), before whom it came up "for a memorial" (Acts 10:4), sweet-smelling in God's presence (Genesis 8:21; Revelation 8:3-4).

Sacrifice acceptable (Hebrews 13:16).


Verse 19

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

My. Paul says, "my God," to imply that God would reward their bounty to His servant, by 'fully supplying' [ pleeroosei (Greek #4137)] - literally, full to the full-their every temporal and spiritual "need" (2 Corinthians 9:8), even as they had "fully" supplied his "need" (Philippians 4:16; Philippians 4:18). My Master will fully repay you; I cannot. The Philippians invested their bounty well, since it got them such a return.

According to his riches - the measure of His supply to you will be the immeasurable "riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7.)

In glory - the element peculiarly belonging to God, IN which Him rich grace operates, and IN which He will 'supply fully all your need.' "Riches," in the New Testament, is always used with the genitive of the thing, so is not to be joined to "in glory."

By Christ Jesus - by virtue of your being "IN" [ en (Greek #1722)] Christ Jesus, the Mediator of all spiritual blessings.


Verse 20

Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Be glory - not to us, but to Him be 'the glory' (Greek: implying His exclusive title to the glory) alike of your gift and of His gracious recompense to you.


Verse 21

Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.

Salute every saint - individually.

The brethren which are with me - perhaps Jewish believers (Acts 28:21). I think Philippians 2:20 precludes our thinking of 'closer friends,' 'colleagues in the ministry' (Alford): he had only one close friend with him-namely, Timothy.

Greet - salute you.


Verse 22

All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.

Chiefly (as being nearest me) they that are of Caesar's household - dependents of Nero, probably converted through Paul while a prisoner in the praetorian barrack attached to the palace. Philippi was a Roman 'colony;' hence, there might arise a tie between the citizens of the mother city and those of the colony, especially between those of both cities converted by the same apostle and under like circumstances, he having been imprisoned at Philippi as he now is at Rome.


Verse 23

Be with you all. (Galatians 6:18) So B C. But 'Aleph (') A Delta G f g, Vulgate, read 'be with your spirit' (the highest of man's three parts, 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Amen. So 'Aleph (') A Delta f, Vulgate. But B G g omit it.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Philippians 4:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/philippians-4.html. 1871-8.

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Wednesday, July 17th, 2019
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