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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Philippians 2

 

 

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Verse 1

1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

Ver. 1. If there be therefore] A most passionate obtestation, importing his most vehement desire of their good agreement; whereunto he conjures them, as it were, by all the bonds of love between him and them. Matters of importance must be pressed with utmost vehemence, Colossians 3:14. Love is charged upon us above all those excellent things there reckoned up.

If any comfort of love] As there is very much, making the saints to enjoy one another’s society with spiritual delight, Psalms 16:3, and to communicate with gladness and singleness of heart, Acts 2:46. The Lord doth usually and graciously water the holy fellowship of his people with the dews of many sweet and glorious refreshings; so that they have a very heaven upon earth, for kind the same with that above, and differing only in degrees.

If any bowels and mercies] Ipsa suada, credo, si loqui posset, non potuisset, εμφατικοτερως, ubi quot verba, tot tela, &c., saith Dr Morton; that is, persuasion itself could not speak more persuasively, here are so many words, so many weapons, able to pierce and work upon any heart not possessed with an iron sinew.


Verse 2

2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Ver. 2. Being of one accord, of one mind] Hereunto those many "ones" should move us mentioned by our apostle, Ephesians 4:4-5. {See Trapp on "Ephesians 4:4"} {See Trapp on "Ephesians 4:5"} {See Trapp on "Acts 4:32"} They were of one heart. Animo animaque inter se miscebantur, saith Tertullian of those primitive Christians; yea, they were una anima, one soul (so Tremellius rendereth this text out of the Syriac), all informed with one and the same soul; all as one man, in the matters of God’s worship.


Verse 3

3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Ver. 3. Let nothing be done through strife] These are those hell hags that set the Church on fire, φιλονεικεια and φιλαρχια: if these men could be cast out of men’s hearts, great hopes there were, παντας εις το θειον κηρυγμα ομοφωνως και ορθοδοξως συνδραμειν, as Isidore hath it, that all men would soon consent in one and the same truth, and be at peace among themselves.

Let each esteem other better than themselves] Non minus vere, quam humiliter, as Bernard glosseth; because in some gift or other, at least in the measure or use, another may be better than us.


Verse 4

4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Ver. 4. Look not every man, &c.] Self is a great stickler, but must be excluded where love shall be maintained. He that is wholly set up within himself is an odious person; and the place he lives in longs for a vomit to spew him out. It is his pleasure, his profit, and his preferment (saith one) that is the natural man’s trinity; and his carnal self that is these in unity. Indeed it is that flesh that is the principal idol; the others are deified in the relation to ourselves.


Verse 5

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Ver. 5. Let this mind be in you] We should strive to express Christ to the world, not as a picture doth a man in outward lineaments only, but as a child doth his father in affections and actions. Our lives should be as so many sermons upon Christ’s life, 1 Peter 2:9.


Verse 6

6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Ver. 6. To be equal with God] Gr. Equals, that is, every way equal; not a secondary inferior God, as the Arians would have him. {See Trapp on "John 1:1"} {See Trapp on "John 1:2"} {See Trapp on "John 1:3"} {See Trapp on "John 1:4"} Hold fast this truth; it is of the foundation, it is the rock whereon the Church is built, Matthew 16:18; and all the devils in hell shall not wrest this place from me, for a clear proof of the Divinity of Christ, saith learned Calvin.


Verse 7

7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Ver. 7. But made himself. &c.] Gr. εκενωσεν, "emptied himself," suspended and laid aside his glory and majesty, and became a sinner both by imputation (for God made the iniquity of us all to meet upon him, Isaiah 53:6) and by reputation, for he was reckoned not only among men, but among malefactors, Philippians 2:9. Hence he is said to be sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, Romans 8:3.

And took upon him the form of a servant] Yea, of an evil servant, that was to be beaten.

In the likeness of men] Yea, he was a worm and no man, nullificamen populi, as Tertullian hath it. Christ vilified, nullified himself to the utmost, ex omni seipsum ad nihil redegit, as Beza expounds the former part of this verse, of everything he became nothing.


Verse 8

8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Ver. 8. He humbled himself] The Sun of righteousness went 10 degrees back in the dial of his Father, that he might come to us with health in his wings, that is, in his beams.

Became obedient unto death] That is, to his dying day, saith Beza. He went through many a little death all his life long, and at length underwent that cursed and painful death of the cross, his soul also being heavy to the death, Matthew 26:38, he suffered the insufferable wrath of God for a season. Ne perderet obedientiam, perdidit vitam, he lost his life lest he lose his submission to authority, saith Bernard.


Verse 9

9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

Ver. 9. Wherefore God also, &c.] "Wherefore" denoteth not the cause, but the order of Christ’s exaltation, as a consequent of his sufferings, as some conceive.


Verse 10

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Ver. 10. That at the name] Gr. In the name. The Papists stiffly defend the ceremony of bowing at the name of Jesus, to countenance the adoration of their deified images, altars, and their host; teaching in their pulpits, that Christ himself on the cross bowed his head on the right side, to reverence his own name, which was written over it. {a} But name is here put for person, bowing of the knee for inward subjection. It is taken out of Isaiah 45:23.

{a} Sir Edwin Sands in Spec. Europ.


Verse 11

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Ver. 11. And that every tongue] The heathens were wont to say, Mutus sit oportet qui non laudarit Herculem. Let that tongue be tied up for ever that cries not out with David, Vivat Dominus, and with Luther, Vivat et regnet Christus, Amen.


Verse 12

12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Ver. 12. Work out your salvation] κατεργαζεσθε. The reason that men still tremble, and are still troubled with this doubt, and that fear, is, because their salvation is not wrought out, something is left undone and their conscience tells them so.

With fear and trembling] Opposed to carnal security. Those venturous bold spirits that dare live in any evil, so it stare not in their faces, and have not a heart fearful of the least evil, aspire not to immortality.


Verse 13

13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Ver. 13. For it is God which worketh] Therefore work out, &c. As acti agentes, moti moventes, as the inferior orbs move, as acted by the superior. When God hath turned, and doth touch us, we must move; and while the Spirit imbreathes us, we must turn about like the mill.

To will and to do] Sub laudibus naturae latent inimici gratiae, saith Augustine; who stood so much for grace, that the schoolmen say he yielded too little to freewill. That we live is the gift of the gods (saith Seneca); that we live well, is of ourselves. A base speech! So Cicero (De Nat. Deor.), Iudicium hoc omnium mortalium est fortunam a Deo petendam, a seipso sumendam sapientiam. For which impious sentence Augustine saith of him, Eum, ut faceret homnes liberos, fecisse sacrileges. (De Civ. Dei, 5.)


Verse 14

14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Ver. 14. Without murmurings] Gr. οργης, wrath and rancour, or discontent, which makes men’s lips like rusty hinges seldom to move without murmuring and complaining.

And disputings] Or wranglings about trifles, niceties or novelties, things whereof we can have neither proof nor profit. Zanchy thus distinguisheth these two; murmurings are secret complaints one of another, like to the grunting of hogs; disputings are open contentions and quarrels.


Verse 15

15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Ver. 15. Blameless and harmless] Gr. ακεραιοι, hornless, or sincere, without mixture of deceit or guile, Israelites indeed.

The sons of God] Dignity enforceth duty. Remember that thou art a king’s son, said he to Antigonus, and thou canst not do amiss.

Without rebuke] αμωμητα, such as envy itself cannot justly tax, or fasten her fangs on. Si Luthero faverem ut viro bono, quod fatentur et hostes, &c., saith Erasmus, who yet loved him not. Luther is a good man, as his very enemies cannot but acknowledge. So Bucer, Bradford, Melancthon. Christians should excel others, standing as standard bearers, higher than others, as Saul was by the head and shoulders; being without blemish from head to foot, as Absalom; fair to the eye and good to the taste, as the tree of knowledge, Genesis 3:6.

In the midst of a crooked] As Noah was righteous in his generation; as Joshua would serve Jehovah, though alone; as David therefore loved God’s testimonies, because other men kept not his law; as Elijah amidst the Baalites cries, Zelando zelavi; the worse they were, the better was he. Baruch kindled himself ( accendit seipsum, Trem.) from other men’s coldness, and quickened himself from other men’s dulness, Nehemiah 3:20.

As lights in the world] φωτηρες, luminaries, great lights, such are the sun and moon, that give light to others. Some wicked have greater common gifts than the godly; as many metals are brighter and more orient than the heavens: yet as those metals are not fit to convey the light of the sun, nay indeed they would stop it; so neither are the wicked fit to shine the true light into us; but Christ and Christians, those lights of the world. Such as Chrysostom was, whom Theodore styleth eximium orbis terrarum luminare, a famous light of the Church; and others said, that the sunlight might better be spared than Chrysostom’s preaching.


Verse 16

16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Ver. 16. Holding forth the word] επεχοντες, as an ensign, or rather as the hand doth the torch, or the watch tower the light, and so the haven to weather beaten mariners.


Verse 17

17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

Ver. 17. Yea, and if I be offered] Or, be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice, &c., to seal up my doctrine, whereby I have brought you to the obedience of faith. Bishop Ridley in a letter to Bishop Brooks of Gloucester, writeth thus: "As for the doctrine which I have taught, my conscience assureth me that it was sound and according to God’s word, to his glory be it spoken; the which doctrine, the Lord being my help, I will maintain, so long as my tongue shall wag, and breath is within my body, and in confirmation thereof seal the same with my blood."


Verse 18

18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

Ver. 18. For the same cause also, &c.] The hearers’ affections and endeavours should exactly answer to the affections and endeavours of the preacher, as the elders of Ephesus did, Acts 20:31; Acts 20:37; and as those religious Romans did, Romans 6:17, and these Philippians, 2 Corinthians 8:5.


Verse 19

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.

Ver. 19. That I also may be of good comfort] εμψυχω, that I may be inspirited. For when Silas and Timotheus were come from these Macedonians, Paul was pressed in spirit, and set vigorously upon the Lord’s work, Acts 18:5.


Verse 20

20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

Ver. 20. Likeminded] ισοψυχον, an alter ego to me. True friendship transformeth us into the condition of those we love, as Eusebius into his friend Pamphilus the martyr, whence he was called Eusebius Pamphili. Amicitia sit tantum inter binos qui sunt veri, et bonos qui sunt pauci. (Jerome.)


Verse 21

21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

Ver. 21. For all seek their own] If it were so then, what wonder if now, as was so long since foretold, 2 Timothy 3:2. Self must be shouldered out, and Christ’s share studied more than our own; all private interests let fall, and all self-respect drowned in the glory of God and the public good; or else we want that pious ingenuity that becometh saints. It is said of Cato, that he did- toti genitum se credere mundo, That the care of the community lay upon him. (Lucan.) Timothy was of a choice and excellent spirit that naturally cared for the Churches’ welfare; few such today. {See Trapp on "Philippians 2:3"}


Verse 22

22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.

Ver. 22. As a son with the father] Happy son in such a father, 1 Timothy 1:2. If Jason the Thessalian held himself so happy in his tutor Chiron (Pindar. lib. 4, Pyth.), Alexander in his Aristotle, Paul in his Gamaliel, how much more was Timothy in Paul the aged, Phlippians 1:9, whose not only doctrine but manner of life he knew fully and followed faithfully, 2 Timothy 3:10, as a diligent disciple!


Verse 23

23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.

Ver. 23. So soon as I shall see] For his life was now in suspense by reason of that roaring lion Nero, whom Tertullian wittily calleth Dedicatorem damnationis Christianorum, quippe qui orientem fidem primus Romae cruentavit.


Verse 24

24 But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.

Ver. 24. Shall come shortly] Whether ever he did come or no we know not. Fallitur augurio spes bona saepe suo. Good hopes are often frustrated. Howbeit the word here signifieth an "assured confidence;" and is seldom or never used but when the thing followeth, which thus is trusted.


Verse 25

25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

Ver. 25. Necessary to send to you] It is not meet that a pastor be long absent from his people. Moses was away but 40 days, and before he came again Israel had made them a golden calf. A godly minister when he is abroad is like a fish in the air; whereinto if it leap for recreation or necessity, yet it soon returns to his own element.


Verse 26

26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

Ver. 26. For he longed after you] επιποθων. The word signifieth such a vehement desire as is impatient of delays. His heart was in the same place his calling was.

And was full of heaviness] Gr. αδημονων, he was out of the world, as it were, and could not take comfort in any company.


Verse 27

27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

Ver. 27. For indeed he was sick] Which should not have been, if St Paul could have cured him, as he did others. This shows that the apostles cured the sick, and did miracles, not by their own power, or at their own pleasure, &c.

But God had mercy on him.] A great mercy it is to recover health, and highly to be prized. After sickness, offer to God the ransom of thy life, as they did, Exodus 32:31-33. Bless Jehovah thy physician, so he is called, Exodus 15:26. Thus did David, Psalms 103:3. Thus Hezekiah, Isaiah 36:9. Thus the very heathens, whose custom was after a fit of sickness to consecrate something to their gods.

But on me also] For it is a very sore affliction to lose a dear friend, which is as a man’s own soul, Deuteronomy 13:6, and is there set after brother, son, daughter, wife of a man’s bosom, as dearer than all of them.

Lest I should have sorrow] God’s care is that we suffer in measure, Isaiah 27:8; and according as we can, 1 Corinthians 10:13. {See Trapp on "1 Corinthians 10:13"}


Verse 28

28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.

Ver. 28. That when ye see him] And receive him as risen from the dead. God knows how to commend his mercies to us, by threatening us with the loss of them; for Bona a tergo formosissima. We know best the worth of mercies by the lack of them.


Verse 29

29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:

Ver. 29. Hold such in reputation] Or set a just price, a due estimate upon them. Horrible is the contempt that is now cast upon the ministry, by our novellers, as if they had learned of Campian to say, Ministris eorum nihil vilius. To your minister, nothing is vile.


Verse 30

30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

Ver. 30. Not regarding his life] Gr. Ill providing for his life, casting away all inordinate care of it, as if he had put on that Roman resolution, Necesse est ut eam, non ut vivam, Needsly I must go, not needsly live.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Philippians 2:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/philippians-2.html. 1865-1868.

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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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