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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Philippians 1



Verse 1

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

Timothy (ΤιμοτεοςTimotheos). 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 (πασι τοις αγιοιςpāsi tois hagiois). The word saint (αγιοςhagios) 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” (πασιpāsi) means that all individual believers are included. Paul employs this word frequently in Philippians.

In Christ Jesus (εν Χριστωι Ιησουen Christōi Iēsou). The centre for all Christian relations and activities for Paul and for us.

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

With the bishops (sun episkopois). “Together with bishops,” thus singled out from “all the saints.” See note on Acts 20:17 and note on Acts 20:28 for the use of this most interesting word as equivalent to presbuteros (elder). It is an old word from συν επισκοποιςepiskeptomai to look upon or after, to inspect, so the overseer or superintendent. In the second century πρεσβυτεροςepiscopos (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 (επισκεπτομαιkai diakonois). 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 (επισχοποςdiaκαι διακονοιςkonis) suggests raising a dust by hastening.

Verse 3

Upon (επιepi). Basis of the thanksgiving.

All (πασηιpāsēi). Note frequent use of “all” here (πασηι παντοτεpāsēiπασηιpantote always, παντων υμωνpāsēi again, pantōn humōn you all). The use of “you all” recurs several times (Phlippians 1:4, Phlippians 1:7 bis, Phlippians 1:8).

Verse 4

With joy (μετα χαραςmeta charas). 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 (επι τηι κοινωνιαι υμωνepi tēi Koinéōniāi humōn). “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 (Phlippians 1:7 συγκοινωνουςsugKoinéōnous and Phlippians 4:14 where συγκοινωνησαντεςsugKoinéōnēsantes occurs).

In furtherance of the gospel (εις το ευαγγελιονeis to euaggelion). “For the gospel.”

From the first day until now (απο της πρωτης ημερας αχρι του νυνapo tēs prōtēs hēmeras achri tou nun). As when in Thessalonica (Phlippians 4:15.), in Corinth (Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 11:7-10), and now in Rome.

Verse 6

Being confident (πεποιτωςpepoithōs). Second perfect active of πειτωpeithō to persuade.

This very thing (αυτο τουτοauto touto). Accusative of the inner object with πεποιτωςpepoithōs “this thing itself.”

Will perfect it (επιτελεσειepitelesei). Future active indicative of επιτελεωepiteleō will fully (επιepi̇) finish. God began and God will consummate it (see note on 2 Corinthians 8:6 and note on Galatians 3:3 where both words occur together as here), but not without their cooperation and partnership.

Until the day of Jesus Christ (αχρι ημερας Χριστου Ιησουachri hēmeras Christou Iēsou). The second coming as in Phlippians 1:10. See note on 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 τηι καρδιαι υμαςdia to echein me en tēi kardiāi humas). 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 εχεινechein 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 τηι απολογιαιen tēi apologiāi). 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 Phlippians 1:16 below.

Confirmation (βεβαιωσειbebaiōsei). Old word from βεβαιοωbebaioō (βεβαιοσ βαινωbebaiosσυγκοινωνους μου της χαριτοςbainō), to make stable. In N.T. only here and Hebrews 6:16 about oath.

Partakers with me of grace (sugKoinéōnous mou tēs charitos). Literally, “my Corinthians-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 μουmartus mou). Same solemn oath in Romans 1:9.

I long after (επιποτωepipothō). Longing (ποτοςpothos) directed toward (επιepi) the Philippians. Old word, chiefly in Paul in N.T.

In the tender mercies (εν σπλαγχνοιςen splagchnois). Literally “in the bowels” as the seat of the affections.

Verse 9

May abound (περισσευηιperisseuēi). Present active subjunctive of περισσευωperisseuō may keep on overflowing, a perpetual flood of love, “yet more and more” (ετι μαλλον και μαλλονeti mallon kai mallon), but with necessary limitations (river banks), “in knowledge” (εν επιγνωσειen epignōsei in full knowledge) “and all discernment” (πασηι αιστησειpāsēi aisthēsei). The delicate spiritual perception (αιστησιςaisthēsis old word from αιστανομαιaisthanomai only here in N.T. as the verb only in Luke 9:45 in N.T.) can be cultivated as in αιστητηριονaisthētērion (Hebrews 5:14)

Verse 10

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

Approve the things that are excellent (δοκιμαζειν τα διαπερονταdokimazein ta diapheronta). 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 (ειλικρινειςeilikrineis). Old word of uncertain origin from κρινωkrinō to judge, by ειληheilē (sunlight) or to sift by rapid rolling (ειλοςeilos). At any rate it means pure, unsullied.

Void of offence (απροσκοποιaproskopoi). Alpha privative προςpros and κοπτωkoptō 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 δικαιοσυνηςkarpon dikaiosunēs). Singular, collective idea, fruit of righteousness. Accusative case retained with perfect passive participle.

Verse 12

The things which happened unto me (τα κατ εμεta kat' eme). “The things concerning me” = “my affairs” as common in Josephus.

Have fallen out rather (μαλλον εληλυτενmallon elēluthen). “Have come rather.” Second perfect active indicative of ερχομαιerchomai

Unto the progress (εις προκοπηνeis prokopēn). Late word from προκοπτωprokoptō 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, Phlippians 1:25; 1 Timothy 4:15.

Verse 13

Throughout the whole praetorian guard (εν ολωι τωι πραιτωριωιen holōi tōi praitōriōi). 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 αδελπωνtous pleionas tōn adelphōn). “The more part of the brethren.” The comparative with the article with the sense of the superlative as often in the Koiné.

In the Lord (εν Κυριωιen Kuriōi). It is not clear whether this phrase is to be connected with “brethren” or with “being confident” (πεποιτοταςpepoithotas), probably with πεποιτοταςpepoithotas If so, then “through my bonds” (τοις δεσμοις μουtois desmois mou) would be the instrumental case and mean that by means of Paul‘s bonds the brethren “are more abundantly bold” (περισσοτερως τολμαινperissoterōs tolmāin).

Verse 15

Even of envy and strife (και δια πτονον και ερινkai dia phthonon kai erin). “Even because of” (accusative after διαdia). Surely the lowest of motives for preaching Christ. Envy is an old word and an old sin and strife (εριςeris) 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 ευδοκιανdi' eudokian). Because of goodwill toward Paul.

Verse 16

Of love (εχ αγαπηςex agapēs). Out of love to Paul as well as to Christ. Put 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 here as a flash-light.

Of faction (ex eritheias). Out of partisanship. From eritheuō to spin wool, and that from erithos 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 (ouch hagnōs). “Not purely,” that is with mixed and impure motives.

To raise up affliction for my bonds (thlipsin egeirein tois desmois mou). Now that Paul is down they jump on him in mean and nagging ways. Dative case in desmois “To make my chains gall me” (Lightfoot).

Verse 18

What then? (τι γαρti gaṙ). Sharp problem put up to Paul by the conduct of the Judaizers.

Only that (πλην οτιplēn hoti). Same idiom in Acts 20:23. ΠληνPlēn is adverb πλεονpleon (more besides). As a preposition πληνplēn means “except.” This essential thing Paul sees in spite of all their envy and selfishness that Christ is preached.

Whether in pretence (ειτε προπασειeite prophasei). Either from προπαινωprophainō to shew forth, or προπημιprophēmi to speak forth, the ostensible presentation often untrue. See note on 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 και χαρησομαιalla kai charēsomai). Note affirmative, not adversative, use of αλλαalla Volitive use of the future (second future passive) indicative (χαρησομαιcharēsomai) of χαιρωchairō Paul is determined to rejoice in spite of the efforts of the Judaizers to prod him to anger.

Verse 19

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

To my salvation (εις σωτηριανeis sōtērian). For his release from prison as he strongly hopes to see them again (Phlippians 1:26). Lightfoot takes the word to be Paul‘s eternal salvation and it must be confessed that Phlippians 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 (επιχορηγιαςepichorēgias). 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 επιχορηγεωepichorēgeō (double compound, επι χοροσ ηγεομαιepichoroshēgeomai to furnish supply for the chorus) which see in 2 Corinthians 9:10; Galatians 3:5.

Verse 20

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

Shall be magnified (megalunthēsetai). Future passive indicative of megalunō old verb, to make great, from μεγαλυντησεταιmegas (great). See note on Acts 19:17.

In my body (μεγαλυνωen tōi sōmati mou). See note on Romans 12:1. It is harder often to make Christ great in the body than in the spirit.

Verse 21

For to me (εμοι γαρemoi gar). Fine example of the ethical dative. Paul gives his own view of living.

To live is Christ (το ζηιν Χριστοςto zēin Christos). No copula (εστινestin), but το ζηινto zēin (the act of living present active infinitive) is the subject as is shown by the article τοto Living is coextensive with Christ.

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

To die (το αποτανεινto apothanein 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 μοι καρπος εργουtouto moi karpos ergou). There is no ειei (if) here in the Greek, but τουτοtouto (this) seems to be resumptive and to repeat the conditional clause just before. If so, καιkai just after means then and introduces the conclusion of the condition. Otherwise τουτοtouto introduces the conclusion and καιkai means and.

I wot not (ου γνωριζωou gnōrizō). “I know not.” It seems odd to preserve the old English word “wot” here. But it is not clear that γνωριζωgnōrizō (old causative verb from γινωσκωginōskō) 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 (συνεχομαιsunechomai). “I am held together.” Present passive indicative of the common compound verb συνεχωsunechō to hold together, to hem together as in Luke 8:45. “I am hemmed in on both sides” (Lightfoot).

Betwixt the two (εκ των δυοek tōn duo). “From the two (sides).” Pressure to live on, pressure to die and be with Christ.

To depart (εις το αναλυσαιeis to analusai). Purpose clause, εις τοeis to and the aorist active infinitive αναλυσαιanalusai 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. καταλυωkataluō in 2 Corinthians 5:1 for tearing down the tent.

Very far better (πολλωι μαλλον κρεισσονpollōi mallon kreisson). Double comparative (triple Lightfoot calls it because of πολλωιpollōi) like Isocrates and the Koiné{[28928]}š often. See note on 2 Corinthians 7:13 for περισσοτερως μαλλονperissoterōs mallon ΠολλωιPollōi is the instrumental case of measure (by much).

Verse 24

In the flesh (εν τηι σαρκιen tēi sarki). So B D G, but Aleph A C do not have ενen Unnecessary with επιμενωepimenō to abide by (common verb).

Verse 25

And abide with you all (και παραμενω πασιν υμινkai paramenō pāsin humin). Common Pauline idiom to repeat the simple verb (μενωmenō) as a compound (παραμενωparamenō future active indicative), old verb, to remain beside followed by locative case. See same idiom in χαιρω συνχαιρωchairōsunchairō (Phlippians 2:17).

Verse 26

In Christ Jesus in me (εν Χριστωι Ιησου εν εμοιen Christōi Iēsou en emoi). “In Christ Jesus” as the basis for the glorying (καυχημαkauchēma), “in me” as the instance in point.

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

Verse 27

Let your manner of life (πολιτευεστεpoliteuesthe). Old verb from πολιτηςpolitēs citizen, and that from πολιςpolis 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 (συνατλουντεςsunathlountes). 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 (τηι πιστειtēi pistei). For the teaching of the gospel, objective sense of πιστιςpistis (faith).

Verse 28

Affrighted (πτυρομενοιpturomenoi). Present passive participle of πτυρωpturō old verb, to frighten. The metaphor is of a timid or scared horse and from πτοεωptoeō (πτοαptoa terror). “Not startled in anything.”

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

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

Perdition (απωλειαςapōleias). “Loss” in contrast with “salvation” (σωτηριαςsōtērias).

And that (και τουτοkai touto). 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 Χριστουto huper Christou). Literally, “the in behalf of Christ.” But Paul divides the idea and uses the article to again both with πιστευεινpisteuein and with πασχεινpaschein Suffering in behalf of Christ is one of God‘s gifts to us.

Verse 30

Conflict (αγωναagōna). 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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Philippians 1:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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Thursday, August 13th, 2020
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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