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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Philippians 4

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAP. IV.

From particular admonitions he proceedeth to general exhortations: shewing how he rejoiced at their liberality towards him lying in prison, not so much for the supply of his wants, as for the grace of God in them: and so concludeth with prayer and salutations.

Anno Domini 62.

TO the foregoing condemnation of the doctrines and practices of the Judaizers, the Apostle,astheapplicationofhis discourse, subjoined, in the beginning of this chapter, an exhortation to the Philippians, to stand firm in the belief of the doctrine of Christ, and in the constant practice of his precepts.

In what follows, St. Paul proceeds to a new subject. Euodias and Syntyche, two Christian women of note at Philippi, having differed on some points of doctrine, or practice, the Apostle besought them to lay aside their disputes, and be united to each other in affection, Philippians 4:2.—And to bring about their reconciliation, he requested a person in Philippi, whom he calls his true yoke-fellow, to help them to compose their differences; because they were sincere in the belief of the gospel, and had formerly assisted himself and Clement, and other faithful preachers, in the work of Christ, Philippians 4:3.—Next, he gave the Philippians directions concerning their temper and conduct as Christians. They were to cherish spiritual joy, moderation, freedom from anxious cares, and to be often employed in prayer, Philippians 4:4-6.—All these graces and virtues they were to practise, according as they had learned them from him, and had seen them exemplified in him, Philippians 4:8-9.—Then, in very delicate terms, he thanked the Philippians for their affection to him, expressed by the care that they had taken to supply his wants, Philippians 4:10.—But lest, from the warmth of his gratitude, they might fancy that he had been out of measure distressed with his poverty, he told them, that the want of the necessaries of life was not an evil insupportable to him; for he had learned in every state to be content; and was able to bear all sorts of distress, through Jesus Christ, Philippians 4:11-13.—yet he commended them for attending to his state, Philippians 4:14.—and told them that he accepted their present the more willingly, because they were the only church that he had received any thing from while he preached in Macedonia, Philippians 4:15.—From which they would see, that he was not covetous of gifts; and that he received their present only because he sought from them pious actions, as the fruit of his labours among them, which, in the end, would abound to their own advantage, Philippians 4:17.—Knowing, however, that it would give them joy, he told them that, though their liberal gift sent by Epaphroditus, henow had every thing he wished, and was filled with comfort, Philippians 4:18.—Withal, to encourage them in such good works, he assured them that God would supplyall their wants abundantly, Philippians 4:19.—In which persuasion he addressed a short doxology to God, Philippians 4:20.

The Apostle having, in this handsome manner, thanked the Philippian church for their present, he desired the bishops and deacons to salute every saint at Philippi in his name, and sent them the salutation of the brethren, who were with him at the writing of this letter, Philippians 4:21.—adding, that all the saints in Rome saluted them, but chiefly they of Caesar's household, Philippians 4:22.: for the gospel being made known in the palace by means of the Apostle's bonds, chap. Philippians 1:12-13 it had made such an impression on some of the emperor's domestics, that they embraced and professed the Christian faith. Having, therefore, friends in the palace, the Apostle hoped to be released through their good offices, under the blessing of God, chap. Philippians 1:25, Philippians 2:24. Nor was he disappointed in his expectation; for, after having been confined two years, he was set at liberty.—St. Paul concluded this Epistle as usual, with his apostolical benediction, sealed with an Amen, to shew his sincerity in all the things that he had written, Philippians 4:23.


Verse 1

Philippians 4:1. Therefore, my brethren; &c.— There is no more reason for making this the beginning of a new chapter, than there would be for disjoining the last verse of 1 Corinthians 15. (in a sense exactly parallel to this,) from the preceding discourse on the resurrection, with which it is so beautifully and properly connected. The variety of words here used by the Apostle is remarkable,—My brethren,—dearly beloved, and longed for;—my joy and crown; repeating again one of the terms at the end of the verse, as though he thought he could never apply words enough to express the greatness of his love and tenderness to them. The word so refers to his immediately foregoing discourse; "So stand fast as I have exhorted you: follow this my example which I have earnestly recommended to you; and be accordingly solicitous, in defiance of all the insinuations of such as would seduce you, to persevere in your dependance on Christ, and to press after that state of future happiness which he will shortly bestow upon his saints." But since the word may be supposed to denote a continued and persevering posture, it seems not unreasonable to allow, that he may herein have a respect to their past behaviour, and the steadfastness for which he had before commended them.


Verse 3

Philippians 4:3. True yoke-fellow, My genuine associate. Doddridge. Heylin reads the clause, I beseech thee also, my faithful partner, to assist them both, for they assisted me, &c. Some have supposed that by the word συζυγε, St. Paul means his wife; but as the word in the original is masculine, waving all other arguments, it cannot be taken in that sense. It is probable that this was an officer of considerable dignity and authority in the church at Philippi, perhaps husband to one of the pious women here mentioned. As women's preaching was so expressly forbidden by St. Paul, we must conclude, that it was in some other way that these good women were helpful to him in the gospel; not so much by ministering to his person, though that, no doubt, they were ready to do as they had opportunity; but by such services as suited their sex and station, and bythe intelligence which they might give him of the state of religion among their female acquaintance, their children, and other branches of their families.


Verse 4

Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord alway: The Apostle, in this advice, seems to have a respect to thesuffering condition in which it appears, by other passages in the Epistle, that he considered them. This is confirmed by the strain of his advice in the next verses. See ch. Philippians 2:18, Philippians 3:1. 1 Thessalonians 5:16.


Verse 5

Philippians 4:5. Let your moderation be known Let your meekness, &c.—The Lord is nigh you. Both the parts of this verse shew, that St. Paul considers the Philippians in a state of persecution. Gentleness, or meekness, (which is the import of the original ( το επιεικες ),) was peculiarly suited hereto; and the Lord's being at hand, was a proper motive to excite them to bear their sufferings with such temper. And as the adversaries against whom, at least principally, he encourages them, were the Jews, or Judaizing converts, the Lord's being at hand may well enough be interpreted, of the overthrow which the Lord would suddenly bring upon the Jews; which, by the destruction of the temple, and the abolishing the greater part of the Jewish service, would, in a manner, put an end to their contest, as well as be a signal vengeance taken on the most virulent enemies of the Christian cause.


Verse 6

Philippians 4:6. With thanksgiving, When St. Paul directs them to join thanksgiving with prayer and supplication, in their suffering condition, he appears to have the same design before noticed; namely, to divert them from the frightful view of persecution, and to put them in mind, as he does ch. Philippians 1:29-30 that their being called hereunto was a gracious gift, for which they ought to be thankful. Instead of, be careful for nothing, it would be more proper to read, with Dr. Heylin, be solicitous for nothing; "Whatever your danger or wants may be, do not distract yourselves with an anxious care about them."


Verse 7

Philippians 4:7. And the peace of God, &c.— This expression is only found here and in Colossians 3:15. In both some understand it of that peaceable temper which God hath commanded; but it seems much more easy and natural to understand it of that peace which we have with God. St. Paul is here arming the Philippians against persecution; nor could anything be a greater support to them under it, than the peace of God thus understood; for the sense of it will make the heaviest afflictions and pressures sit easy upon us. Having peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, we may well rejoice in hope of the glory of God, and glory in tribulations; nor will our hope make us ashamed. It will be so far from it, that it will fill us with boldness and resolution, when the love of God, that is, the sense of his love, which is equivalent to the peace of God,—is shed abroad in our hearts, Romans 5:1-5. Indeed, a peaceable and quiet temper will be a support and comfort to a man under his troubles, when he considers that he has done nothing to provoke men, and that their fury and wrath against him is without cause. But this is inconsiderable in comparison of the support which we shall have from a sense of God's favour, and his being at peace with us: and the commendation here given of the peace of God, that it passeth all understanding, seems to suit better with this sense than the other. The same is, perhaps, confirmed by that clause, through Christ Jesus; and that, whether it be joined with the peace of God, or with the keeping their hearts and minds. Finally, the connection here may be thought to lead us to this sense. They were, under their troubles, to cast their care upon God, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving; and when they did so, the peace of God that passeth all understanding would keep their minds; that is, by guarding against diffidence and distrust, and committing themselves to, and relying upon the favour of God, they would be secure of his favour; the sense of which would make them easy and happy. See John 14:27. 1 Peter 1:5.


Verse 8

Philippians 4:8. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things, &c.— The reader will find in the Inferences a complete exposition of this beautiful and comprehensive passage


Verse 9

Philippians 4:9. The God of peace So called, on account of his affording us peace with himself; as he is called the God of all grace, 1 Peter 5:10 on account of all the favours that he bestows upon us. See Hebrews 13:20. 1 Thessalonians 5:23.


Verse 10

Philippians 4:10. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly The Apostle uses a very skilful way here of commending the generosity of his benefactors; whereby he signifies, not only that they had done their duty, but that the Lord had favoured them, by stirring them up to it; and that they had given him occasion of much thankfulness to the Lord. The original, which we render,Wherein ye were else careful,is doubtful; andmay signify, For whom ye were also careful: or it may be taken, in the sense of our translators,—in which matter ye were careful. St. Chrysostom's explanation of the last clause is, "But you wanted an ability to supply me."


Verse 11

Philippians 4:11. Not that I speak in respect of want Nor do I speak upon the account of my want. He had told them, in the verse before, that he rejoiced greatly in the revival of their care for him; and here he presents their mistaking the true cause of his joy.


Verse 12

Philippians 4:12. I am instructed "I find myself initiated, as it were, into this great mystery." This is well known to be the peculiar sense of the word μεμοημαι ; and it seems as if the Apostle, by the choice of this peculiar word, meant to intimate to his Greek readers, how much he esteemed the good dispositions of mind here spoken of, beyond all their boasted instructions, whatever mysteries they might be supposed to contain. See Doddridge, Grotius, and Stockius.


Verse 15

Philippians 4:15. In the beginning of the gospel That is, when he first preached the gospel among the Philippians. See ch. Philippians 1:5. The next verse shows, that the clause, when I departed, &c. should be rendered, when I was departing? &c. Thessalonica was itself in Macedonia, and therefore he had not departed from Macedonia, when they sent to him in Thessalonica; but he was then about to leave that country, to preach the gospel elsewhere, and so needed assistance in order to it.


Verse 16

Philippians 4:16. Ye sent once and again, &c.— It appears by 1 Thessalonians 2:9 and 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9 that it was not to the liberality of the inhabitants of that city, but chiefly to the labour of his own hands, that St. Paul owed his subsistence during his abode among them. St. Chrysostom remarks judiciously upon this place, "That it is a great commendation of the Philippians, that when St. Paul resided in the metropolis, [Thessalonica,] he should receive no assistance from the inhabitants of that city, while generous contributions were made to him from the little city of Philippi."


Verse 19

Philippians 4:19. But my God shall supply And my God. This is to be understood in the nature of a wish, or as expressive of what was the matter of his prayer for them. Many copies and versions read it in the optative mood; and may my God supply. Observe further, he says not our God, but my God; because he is speaking of God's recompensing to them the kindness which they had shown to him, as his servant; it was therefore most proper to mention the relation which God stood in to him, as that would be a means of the divine regard to those who had done him good.


Verse 20

Philippians 4:20. Now unto God and our Father Now unto our God and Father. Pierce and Doddridge.


Verse 21

Philippians 4:21. Salute every saint The Syriac reads, "every one who has acquired holiness by Jesus Christ." As the brethren here stand contradistinguished to the saints, Philippians 4:22 we must understand the brethren in office, or the ministers.

[ See Grotius, Hammond, Lardner, Michaelis, Pierce, Doddridge, Whitby, Heylin, Pyle, Gataker, Beza, Blackwall, Wetstein, Mill, Fleming, Scott, Sherlock, Bos, Ellys, Burnet, Howe, Calmet, Plutarch, Castalio, Diodati, Budaeus, Dunlop, West, Wolfius, Bengelius, Dumont, and Stockius.]

Inferences on Philippians 4:8 of this chapter.—It would be needless to lay down particular rules of morality, directly referring to every possible case that may happen in human life; since the cases themselves are almost infinite, and continually varying in some circumstance or other: all therefore that can be expected in the most improved and complete moral system, is, that to supply the place of this vast multiplicity of distinct and minute directions, there be certain general characters, describing the proper dispositions, behaviour, and duty of men; and that these characters have a clear and determinate meaning, and are easy to be applied to particular cases by a common capacity.

St. Paul's words, in the verse now under consideration, being taken in this sense, will be found eminently useful: they not only suppose the unalterable difference of good and evil, and give us a noble and perfect summary of the whole of holiness, virtue, and moral goodness; but the marks therein proposed, to enable us to judge rightly in all circumstances, are obvious and infallible.

Every one of these branches,—whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, deserve our constant and strict regard, considered as general rules; and are always proper to influence and determine our conduct. By the things which are true, in this large sense, are meant those habits, and that course of life and manners, which are agreeable to the renewed state of man through grace; and which are suitable to the rank and character that we sustain in the universe, and to the relations that we bear, and the various obligations we are under, to other beings. Now, to assert that this is one invariable standard, to which believers are obliged to conform, is only asserting, in other words, that they are all bound to live and act like new-born creatures, like Christ, who is the Truth itself, and not like different beings from what they really are, through the grace of God; and that they are bound to have exactly the same consideration of their fellow-creatures, according to the circumstances in which they are placed, and to treat them in the same manner, according to their measure and station, as Christ would have treated them in like circumstances. And the contrary scheme supposes, that we are at full liberty, upon every start of humour, every impulse, or headstrong appetite, to violate the settled order of society; and that monstrous and unnatural characters are equally to be approved, with those which are formed on the strictest rules of grace and truth.

Secondly, By whatsoever things are honest, or, as the original word signifies, grave, decent, venerable,—are meant things not affected and formal, nor morose and splenetic, nor recluse and unsociable; (for these are the natural properties of peevishness, discontent, and pride;) but such a conduct as springs from serious reflection, as argues a calm and steady temper;—and is therefore decent, because becoming the importance and dignity of the renewed man; and venerable, as it both tends to create, and deserves respect from our fellow-creatures.

From what has been said, it necessarily follows, that it must be our indispensable duty to adhere constantly to whatever things are just; i.e. in the unrestrained and general acceptation of the term, right and fit in themselves;—and to whatsoever things are pure, or which have a direct and certain tendency to perfect our superior intelligent frame; for if things are right in themselves, because they correspond with the great plan of redemption laid down by the Triune God, and, in some sense, with the original scheme of the universe; if the same things are likewise pure, because they preserve the comeliness and true honour of regenerate nature uncorrupted, to the glory of the grace of God;—every obligation that lies upon us to conform our actions to the truth of things, must, of course, infer an equal degree of obligation to right action: and all the ties to which we are bound, by virtue of our union to God and his saints, by the power of his grace, to preserve the complexion of our minds and our moral faculties fair and unspotted, in order to behave with a decent gravity, and render regenerate nature venerable—must also be considered as so many indissoluble bonds of duty, to cultivate universal purity of dispositions, affections, and manners.

If, again, there are any things in themselves lovely, it can admit of no possible dispute, whether they be the just objects of our esteem and choice. To say of characters, that they are lovely, and that they deserve our love, is only expressing the self same idea by different terms; and to say that they deserve our love, and therefore ought to be delighted in; and that, because they ought to he delighted in, they should be diligently and constantly improved and cultivated;—this again is only laying down a plain principle, and, asserting the necessary consequences which result from it.

Finally, we have another right general rule of conduct, Whatever things are of good report,—think on these things. By which we are not to understand those actions which suit the taste and genius of the country where we live, and are admired from the force of education and habit, or because they agree with opinions and prejudices received from our ancestors;—but such actions only as have universally a good report in all Christian countries, however disagreeing in peculiar sentiments, customs, and forms of religion. Whatever is of this kind, it may fairly be presumed has a solid foundation in the will of God, and the original frame of things. Nor indeed can we pretend to account for this agreement of sentiment, and harmony of applause, with any appearance of reason, otherwise than by supposing the intrinsic and immutable excellency of the things themselves; and that there is one original superior POWER, which, with respect to general rules of eternal use and importance to all, dictates to all alike; and is therefore the light, the voice, the law of God, in his creature and subject man; and is fully displayed in the revealed word, and, through the grace of the Divine Spirit, may operate effectually in the hearts of the fallen sons of men, and renew them after the image of God.

Having thus considered the Apostle's argument in a general view, it may be proper briefly to point out the particular graces and virtues more directly included in each of the above characters.

And, 1. It is obvious that the Apostle, by the things that are true, intends to recommend the virtue of truth and fidelity; that is, sincerity in all our professions of reverence and duty to God, and of respect and service to our fellow-creatures; the being true to our promises, contracts, friendships, and discharging with diligence and care every trust reposed in us;—the contrary vices to which are, dissimulation, deceitful compliment, lying, fraud, treachery,—which are infallible indications of a selfish and base disposition, and the source of endless confusion in societies.

2. In the things that are grave, decent, and venerable, are particularly included a calm, composed temper, free from the perturbation of excessive passions; an uniform and unshaken resolution to adhere to the principles of truth and right, and that sedateness and dignity of behaviour, which is the result of inward irregularity—of that harmony of the powers of the soul, which Divine Grace alone can establish within us. To these instances of venerable conduct, are opposed a slavish subjection to appetite, which renders human nature despicable:—a fickle, fluctuating temper, levity, vanity, and ridiculous affectation;—those unguarded familiarities which lessen our weight and influence, and, in short, all such deportment as is unsuitable to our peculiar situation in life, and tends to disgrace it in the judgment of the genuine people of God.

3. Under the next head are comprehended all the different branches of justice: the distinct offices of justice are, indeed, various, as men's conditions and characters differ; but the general obligations and the general rules are one and the same; which may easily be reduced to that admirable maxim of our blessed Saviour,—the compendium and substance of all equity; "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, were they in your circumstances, and you in theirs, do ye even so to them." We may add, that the virtue of justice is not only the main pillar and strength of societies, but, as it were, the essential and vital spirit by which they subsist; and that the contrary vices,—viz. censoriousness, detraction, slander, undermining arts, rigorous oppression, and injuries of every kind, are directly calculated to dissolve the frame of all governments, to render a regular social life absolutely impossible, and human existence itself insupportable, except from the hope of enjoying that eternal state, where the wicked shall for ever cease from troubling.

4. By the following article, whatever things are pure, is chiefly meant the virtues of continence and chastity; opposed to which stand the infamous sin of adultery, universally detested and branded; fornication, sensuality,—actions or discourses offensive to modesty, which are all known and fitly described by the name of impurities,—as spreading defilement and a deadly taint over the soul, and thus creating a strong aversion to intellectual and spiritual enjoyments, and to the divine pleasures arising from communion with God, and from a consciousness of moral rectitude through the grace and Spirit of Christ.

Finally, by the things which are of good report, if any particular virtues are designed, those must be understood which are universally celebrated as the marks of a truly noble and gracious disposition; and by the things which are amiable and lovely, those virtues which have a peculiar attractive beauty and gracefulness;—such as a disinterested and unconfined benevolence, generosity, returning good for evil, moderation in affluence and power, humility and condescension in high stations;—in opposition to all selfishness, narrowness of heart, revenge,—dishonouring and corrupting the innocent, to satiate a brutal passion; haughtiness and insolence, ingratitude and cruelty. So that from the view above taken, united with the power of Almighty grace, the course lies open and plain before us, in which we may adorn human nature, and advance it to the highest pitch of moral beauty; as well as the opposite path, which necessarily leads to deformity, and shame, and everlasting ruin.

Thus then we have seen, that in a single passage of the New Testament we have a complete system of morals, as it were in miniature; the grand character of genuine virtue is clearly asserted, wisely laid down, and exhibited in a proper variety of lights: the characteristics are so proposed, that they may be considered as general rules, at the same time that they direct our view to almost all the particular branches of morals: and to render the account as comprehensive as possible, a clause is added, in which, by a fair and easy interpretation, the peculiar duties of every rank and condition, and the noblest refinements and heights of grace, holiness, and virtue, may be supposed to be inculcated. In short, from the abridgment of its precepts here given by St. Paul, we may reasonably infer, "the extent, the sublimity, the perfection of that moral goodness which the gospel of Christ requires."

What then remains, but that, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, we should think on these things? If holiness and virtue be realities, and not empty fictions; and if there be any just ground of praise, it must of necessity be in such things as these. And what crowns the whole, if, through the grace of God, we obtain acceptance with him in and through the Beloved, and by the inspiration of his Spirit attain to these heavenly graces, "an entrance shall be ministered unto us abundantly, into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

REFLECTIONS.—1st. The Apostle,

1. With the most endearing appellations, exhorts his Philippians to stand fast in the truth. Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, to whom my whole soul is drawn out in warmest affection, and whose salvation I so earnestly desire, longing to see you my joy in every remembrance of your fidelity, and my crown, whom now I esteem my chief honour, and who will I trust be my most distinguished glory in the day of Christ; so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved; cleaving to that divine Redeemer in whom you have believed; unshaken by danger, unterrified by opposition, and looking up for that Divine grace, which can make you more than conquerors. Note; (1.) None can tell the fervent longings of a faithful minister's heart after the salvation of his people's souls, but those that feel them. (2.) They who have already approved themselves faithful, are especially bound to persevere in the same blessed course.

2. He entreats, that some individuals who were at variance, either with the church or each other, might be happily reconciled. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord, and lay aside their disputes, united in love and peace. And I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, who with me already hast heartily laboured in the cause of Christ, help those women, and endeavour to reconcile them to the church, and to each other, which have been so useful in former days, and laboured with me in the gospel, helping and assisting me; with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers, those names are in the book of life, possessing a present interest in Christ: happy are they, whose names shall be found written there on the great day of account.

3. He exhorts them to holy joy. Rejoice in the Lord always; in all circumstances, and under every trial, maintain a holy delight in God, which will sweeten every affliction: and again I say, Rejoice in him as your Saviour, your refuge, help, and hope, in every time of need.

4. Let your moderation be known unto all men: show a spirit of meekness and patience, which never is wearied out with provocations; and be weaned from every inordinate attachment to this present world. The Lord is at hand, and will soon confound your Jewish adversaries in the destruction of their city and temple; and shortly will put an end to all the trials of his faithful people in the great day of his appearing and glory.

5. Be careful for nothing; be without perplexity or tormenting solicitude about the concerns of this world, and the difficulties in your way: but in every thing, at all times, and in all circumstances, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God; casting all your care upon him, praising him for all past mercies that you have experienced, and trusting him for whatever may be yet to come. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds, through Christ Jesus; in answer to your prayers, God will give you his blessed peace, preserving you sedate and calm amidst every storm, fortifying your minds against every foe, and keeping you in a happy serenity, neither dis-composed, nor fainting under any of your troubles. Note; (1.) Though prudent forecast is not forbidden, all anxious fears which imply distrust of God, and bring torment to the heart, are exceeding sinful. (2.) Prayer is an antidote to every ill; and while we have a throne of grace open, where we can pour all our complaints into the bosom of a compassionate God, however perplexed, we need never be in despair, but should quietly wait to see the salvation of God.

6. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, agreeable to the word of God, and the dictates of sincerity and truth; whatsoever things are honest, venerable and becoming in dress, language and deportment; whatsoever thing's are just, and equitable in your dealings and transactions; whatsoever things are pure, in thought, word, or action; whatsoever things are lovely, and render you amiable in the sight of God and man; whatsoever things are of good report, among the truly religious; if there be any virtue, any thing truly noble, brave, and generous; and if there be any thing that deserves praise and commendation; think on these things, and seriously desire to be found in the exercise of them. Those things which ye have both learned and received, and heard, and seen in me, do; copy after my precepts and practice; and then the God of peace shall be with you, and bless you with his presence, and with more abundant measures of his grace and love.

2nd, The Philippians had generously contributed to the Apostle's support, and he gratefully mentions it to their honour.

1. He expresses his joy in the present fresh proof that they had given of love to him, and regard for the cause of Christ. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again, and you have added to your former instances of generosity; wherein ye were also careful, and would ere this have sent to my relief, but ye lacked opportunity.—Though it was a debt that they justly owed him, he mentions it as a favour for which he esteemed himself much obliged.

2. He obviates an ill use which might be made of what he said. Not that I speak in respect of want, as though I was distrustful of a provision, or uneasy at my worldly circumstances; for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content, satisfied in all the will of God. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in the lowest circumstances composed, in the greatest affluence not elated. Every where, and in all things, I am instructed, by my divine Master, to accommodate my mind to my situation; both to be full, and to be hungry; both to abound and to suffer need; to know the want of bread without repining, and to have abundance without abusing it to excess. I can do all things, through Christ which strengtheneth me, and enables me for all the services and sufferings to which in his providence he is pleased to call me: notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction, in the seasonable relief you kindly sent. Note; (1.) Want is a great temptation to murmur, as abundance is to excess; but Divine grace will enable us to accommodate our hearts to every circumstance. (2.) Though our strength is very weakness, the omnipotence of Jesus is engaged for his believing people; and then nothing is impracticable.

3. He makes honourable mention of what they had formerly done. Now, ye Philippians, know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, or was ready to depart to other countries, no church communicated with me, as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only; for even in Thessalonica, a city so much more wealthy than yours, where I was constrained to work hard for my bread, ye sent once and again unto my necessity, when my circumstances were very strait, and my wants pressing. Not that I mention these things because I desire a gift, and want to worm myself into your favour: no such mercenary views influence my conduct; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account in the great day of recompense, when these labours of love shall be remembered and rewarded.

4. He acknowledges the receipt of what Epaphroditus brought, and how sufficient it was for his wants; assuring them, that God would accept it as a grateful sacrifice at their hands. But I have all I want, 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, well-pleasing to God; better than the fumes of incense, or the smoke of burnt-offerings. But though I cannot repay you in kind, my God, who is all-sufficient, shall supply all your need, giving you the earthly good things that you want, and especially bestowing all spiritual blessings upon you, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus, which inestimable treasures he hath laid up for all his faithful saints. Note; None were ever losers by what they lent to the Lord, and employed in the service of his blessed cause.

3rdly, We have,

1. An ascription of praise to God. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. He is our Father to love us, our God abundantly to provide for us. We have long experienced his love and grace; with confidence let us trust him and ascribe to him the praise that we owe for all his past kindness and precious promises. Note; If God be our Father, we can want no manner of thing that is good.

2. Salutations to the brethren. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus; let every member of the church be assured of my most cordial regard and kindest wishes. The brethren which are with me greet you with best remembrances. All the saints salute you, and join in Christian respects towards you; chiefly they that are of Cesar's household, domestics of his family, now converted to the faith, and one in affection with you. Note; It is a comfort to a real Christian to consider, that multitudes whom he never saw or knew, bear him upon their hearts, and remember him in their prayers.

3. His closing benediction. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in all its incomprehensible extent, and inconceivable fulness, be with you all: may the whole church and every member share it in the richest abundance! Amen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Philippians 4:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/philippians-4.html. 1801-1803.

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