Philippians 2:1
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
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(1-4) In this section the hint given above, in the allusion to “one spirit” and “one soul,” is expanded into a direct exhortation to unity of spirit, as shown both by absence of self-assertion and by presence of a genial sympathy.

(1) If there be therefore any consolation . . .—In the four-fold division of this verse we trace, first, a reference to unity with Christ, and to a spiritual effect following from it; next, a similar reference to communion with the Holy Ghost, and a corresponding spiritual result. (1) “Consolation” is properly encouragement—the stirring up of spiritual activity—ascribed in Acts 9:31 to the action of the Holy Spirit, but here viewed as a practical manifestation of the life flowing from union with Christ. Out of it comes naturally the “comfort of love,” that is, as always, the deep and thankful sense of comfort in His love, overflowing into comfort, lovingly given to our brethren. On this “encouragement” in Christ, both received and given out to others, St. Paul dwells at length (2Corinthians 1:3-7). (2) Next, he speaks of “communion of the Spirit” (the very word used in 2Corinthians 13:13), by which, indeed, we are brought into that unity with Christ; and of this, still keeping to the main idea of love, he makes the manifestation to be in “bowels and mercies”—that is, both in strong affection, and in that peculiar form of affection which is directed towards suffering, viz., compassion or pity. The whole passage (like Philippians 4:8-9) is full of a grave and persuasive eloquence characteristic of this Epistle. No absolute distinction is to be drawn between the two elements of the sentence; but it may be noted that the “consolation in Christ” is exhibited in the action which visibly follows His divine example, “the communion with the Holy Spirit” is shown by the inner emotion, not seen, but felt.



Php 2:1-4 {R.V.}.

There was much in the state of the Philippian church which filled Paul’s heart with thankfulness, and nothing which drew forth his censures, but these verses, with their extraordinary energy of pleading, seem to hint that there was some defect in the unity of heart and mind of members of the community. It did not amount to discord, but the concord was not as full as it might have been. There is another hint pointing in the same direction in the appeal to Paul’s true yoke-fellow, in chapter 4:, to help two good women who, though they had laboured much in the gospel, had not managed to keep ‘of the same mind in the Lord,’ and there is perhaps a still further indication that Paul’s sensitive heart was conscious of the beginnings of strife in the air, in the remarkable emphasis with which, at the very outset of the letter, he over and over again pours out his confidence and affection on them ‘all,’ as if aware of some incipient rifts in their brotherhood. There are always forces at work which tend to part the most closely knit unities even when these are consecrated by Christian faith. Where there are no dogmatical grounds of discord, nor any open alienation, there may still be the beginnings of separation, and a chill breeze may be felt even when the sun is shining with summer warmth. Wasps are attracted by the ripest fruit.

The words of our text present no special difficulty, and bring before us a well-worn subject, but it has at least this element of interest, that it grips very tightly the deepest things in Christian life, and that none of us can truly say that we do not need to listen to Paul’s pleading voice. We may notice the general division of his thoughts in these words, in that he puts first the heart-touching motives for listening to his appeal, next describes with the exuberance of earnestness the fair ideal of unity to which he exhorts, and finally touches on the hindrances to its realisation, and the victorious powers which will overcome these.

I. The motives and bonds of Christian unity.

It is not a pedantic dissection {and vivisection} of the Apostle’s earnest words, if we point out that they fall into four clauses, of which the first and third {‘any comfort in Christ, any fellowship of the Spirit’} urge the objective facts of Christian revelation, and the second and fourth {‘any consolation of love, any tender mercies and compassions’} put emphasis on the subjective emotions of Christian experience. We may lay the warmth of all of these on our own hearts, and shall find that these hearts will be drawn into the blessedness of Christian unity in the precise measure in which they are affected by them.

As to the first of them, it may be suggested that here, as elsewhere in the New Testament, the true idea of the word rendered ‘comfort’ is rather ‘exhortation.’ The Apostle is probably not so much pointing to the consolations for trouble which come from Jesus, as to the stimulus to unity which flows from Him. It would rather weaken the force of Paul’s appeal, if the two former grounds of it were so nearly identical as they are, if the one is based upon ‘comfort’ and the other on ‘consolation.’ The Apostle is true to his dominant belief, that in Jesus Christ there lies, and from Him flows, the sovereign exhortation that rouses men to ‘whatsoever things are lovely and of good report.’ In Him we shall find in the measure in which we are in Him, the most persuasive of all exhortations to unity, and the most omnipotent of all powers to enforce it. Shall we not be glad to be in the flock of the Good Shepherd, and to preserve the oneness which He gave His life to establish? Can we live in Him, and not share His love for His sheep? Surely those who have felt the benediction of His breath on their foreheads when He prayed ‘that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee,’ cannot but do what is in them to fulfil that prayer, and to bring a little nearer the realisation of their Lord’s purpose in it, ‘that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.’ Surely if we lay to heart, and enter into sympathy with, the whole life and death of Jesus Christ, we shall not fail to feel the dynamic power fusing us together, nor fail to catch the exhortation to unity which comes from the lips that said, ‘I am the vine, ye are the branches.’

The Apostle next bases his appeal for unity on the experiences of the Philippian Christians, and on their memories of the comfort which they have tasted in the exercise of mutual love. Our hearts find it hard to answer the question whether they are more blessed when their love passes out from them in a warm stream to others, or when the love of others pours into them. To love and to be loved equally elevate courage, and brace the weakest for calm endurance and high deeds. The man who loves and knows that he is loved will be a hero. It must always seem strange and inexplicable that a heart which has known the enlargement and joy of love given and received, should ever fall so far beneath itself as to be narrowed and troubled by nourishing feelings of separation and alienation from those whom it might have gathered into its embrace, and thereby communicated, and in communicating acquired, courage and strength. We have all known the comfort of love; should it not impel us to live in ‘the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace’? Men around us are meant to be our helpers, and to be helped by us, and the one way to secure both is to walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.

But Paul has still further heart-melting motives to urge. He turns the Philippians’ thoughts to their fellowship in the Spirit. All believers have been made to drink into one spirit, and in that common participation in the same supernatural life they partake of a oneness, which renders any clefts or divisions unnatural, and contradictory of the deepest truths of their experience. The branch can no more shiver itself off from the tree, or keep the life sap enclosed within itself, than one possessor of the common gift of the Spirit can separate himself from the others who share it. We are one in Him; let us be one in heart and mind. The final appeal is connected with the preceding, inasmuch as it lays emphasis on the emotions which flow from the one life common to all believers. That participation in the Spirit naturally leads in each participant to ‘tender mercies and compassions’ directed to all sharers in it. The very mark of truly possessing the Spirit’s life is a nature full of tenderness and swift to pity, and they who have experienced the heaven on earth of such emotions should need no other motive than the memory of its blessedness, to send them out among their brethren, and even into a hostile world, as the apostles of love, the bearers of tender mercies, and the messengers of pity.

II. The fair ideal which would complete the Apostle’s joy.

We may gather from the rich abundance of motives which the Apostle suggests before he comes to present his exhortation, that he suspected the existence of some tendencies in the opposite direction in Philippi, and possibly the same conclusion may be drawn from the exuberance of the exhortation itself, and from its preceding the dehortation which follows. He does not scold, he scarcely even rebukes, but he begins by trying to melt away any light frost that had crept over the warmth of the Philippians’ love; and having made that preparation, he sets before them with a fulness which would be tautological but for the earnestness that throbs in it, the ideal of unity, and presses it upon them still more meltingly, by telling them that their realisation of it will be the completion of his joy. The main injunction is ‘that ye be of the same mind,’ and that is followed by three clauses which are all but exactly synonymous with it, ‘having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.’ The resemblance of the latter clause to the main exhortation is still more complete, if we read with Revised Version {margin} ‘of the same mind,’ but in any case the exhortations are all practically the same. The unity which Paul would fain see, is far deeper and more vital than mere unanimity of opinion, or identity of polity, or co-operation in practice. The clauses which expand it guard us against the mistake of thinking that intellectual or practical oneness is all that is meant by Christian unity. They are ‘of the same mind,’ who have the same wishes, aims, outlooks, the same hopes and fears, and who are one in the depths of their being. They have ‘the same love,’ all similarly loving and being loved, the same emotion filling each heart. They are united in soul, or ‘with accordant souls’ having, and knowing that they have them, akin, allied to one another, moving to a common end, and aware of their oneness. The unity which Christian people have hitherto reached is at its best but a small are of the great circle which the Apostle drew, and none of us can read these fervid words without shame. His joy is not yet fulfilled.

That exhortation to be ‘of the same mind,’ not only points to a deep and vital unity, but suggests that the ground of the unity is to be found without us, in the common direction of our ‘minds,’ which means far more than popular phraseology means by it, to an external object. It is having our hearts directed to Christ that makes us one. He is the bond and centre of unity. We have just said that the object is external, but that has to be taken with a modification, for the true basis of unity is the common possession of ‘Christ in us.’ It is when we have this mind in us ‘which was also in Christ Jesus,’ that we have ‘the same mind’ one with another.

The very keynote of the letter is joy, as may be seen by a glance over it. He joys and rejoices with them all, but his cup is not quite full. One more precious drop is needed to make it run over. Probably the coldness which he had heard of between Euodias and Syntyche had troubled him, and if he could be sure of the Philippians’ mutual love he would rejoice in his prison. We cannot tell whether that loving and careful heart is still aware of the fortunes of the Church, but we know of a more loving and careful heart which is, and we cannot but believe that the alienations and discords of His professed followers bring some shadow over the joy of Christ. Do we not hear His voice again asking, ‘what was it that you disputed among yourselves by the way?’ and must we not, like the disciples, ‘hold our peace’ when that question is asked? May we not hear a voice sweeter in its cadence, and more melting in its tenderness than Paul’s, saying to us ‘Fulfil ye My joy that ye be of the same mind.’

III. The hindrances and helps to being of the same mind.

The original has no verb in front of ‘nothing’ in verse 3, and it seems better to supply the one which has been so frequently used in the preceding exhortation than ‘doing,’ which carries us too abruptly into the outer region of action. Paul indicates two main hindrances to being of the same mind, namely, faction and vainglory on the one hand, and self-absorption on the other, and opposed to each the tone of mind which is its best conqueror. Faction and vainglory are best defeated by humility and unselfishness. As to the former, the love of making or heading little cliques in religion or politics or society, has oftenest its roots in nothing loftier than vanity or pride. Many a man who poses as guided by staunch adherence to conviction is really impelled only by a wish to make himself notorious as a leader, and loves to talk of ‘those with whom I act.’ There is a strong admixture of a too lofty estimate of self in most of the disagreements of Christian people. They expect more deference than they get, or their judgment is not taken as law, or their place is not so high as they think is their due, or in a hundred different ways self-love is wounded, and self-esteem is inflamed. All this is true in reference to the smaller communities of congregations, and with the necessary modifications it is quite as true in reference to the larger aggregations which we call churches or denominations. If all in their work that is directly due to faction and vainglory were struck out there would be great gaps in their activities, and many a flourishing scheme would fall dead.

The cure for all these evils is lowliness of mind. That is a Christian word. Used by Greek thinkers, it meant abjectness; and it is one conspicuous instance of the change effected in morals by Christian teaching that it has become the name of a virtue. We are to dwell not on our gifts but on our imperfections, and if we judge ourselves with constant reference to the standard in Christ’s life, we shall need little more to bring us to our knees in true lowliness of mind. The man who has been forgiven so many talents will not be in a hurry to take his brother by the throat and leave the marks of his fingers for tenpence.

Christian unity is further broken by selfishness. To be absorbed in self is of course to have the heart shut to others. Our own interests, inclinations, possessions, when they assert themselves in our lives, build up impassable barriers between us and our fellows. To live to self is the real root of every sin as it is of all loveless life. The Apostle uses careful language: he admits the necessity for attention to our ‘own things,’ and only requires that we should look ‘also’ on the things of others. His cure for the hindrances to Christian unity is very complete, very practical, and very simple. Each counting other better than himself, and each ‘looking also to the things of others’ seem very homely and pedestrian virtues, but homely as they are we shall find that they grip us tight, if we honestly try to practise them in our daily lives, and we shall find also that the ladder which has its foot on earth has its top in the heavens, and that the practice of humility and unselfishness leads straight to having ‘the mind which was also in Christ Jesus.’

Php 2:1. The apostle, in the latter part of the preceding chapter, having exhorted the Philippians to walk worthy of their Christian profession, by having their conversation according to the gospel; and, as nothing is more required by it, or can be more suitable to it, than mutual love among the followers of Christ, he here beseeches them, by every thing most affecting in Christianity, to fulfil his joy, by exercising that love. If there be therefore any consolation in Christ — And his grace, in his person and offices, in his humiliation and sufferings for you, or in his exaltation and glory. This is not an expression of doubt, but the strongest affirmation that there is the greatest consolation in him, 2 Corinthians 1:4. If any comfort of love — In the love of God to you, or in your love to him in return; if any fellowship of the Spirit — Any communion with the Father and the Son, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in you; if any bowels and mercies — Resulting therefrom; any tender affection toward each other, or any compassion for me, now a prisoner for Christ, fulfil ye my joy — To all the other causes of joy which I have concerning you, add this also, and make my joy complete; that ye be like-minded — That ye be alike disposed; that ye esteem, desire, and pursue the same thing, even your high and holy calling, as το αυτο φρονητε seems here to signify, it being explained in the following clauses as implying having the same love, being of one accord; συμψυχοι, united in soul, or animated with the same affections and intentions; το εν φρονουντες, minding; that is, delighting in and aiming at one thing, namely, the glory of God, or the honour of Christ, in their salvation. It is justly observed by Macknight here, that the word φρονειν, rendered to mind, has different meanings in the New Testament. Sometimes it denotes an act of the understanding, Acts 28:22 : We desire to hear of thee, α φρονεις, what thou thinkest, Galatians 5:10; That, ουδεν αλλο φρονησετε, ye will think nothing differently. Sometimes it denotes an act of the will, Php 2:5; τουτο φρονεισθω, Let this disposition be in you which was even in Christ. It signifies also to set one’s affections on an object so as to use every means in one’s power to obtain it, as Colossians 3:2; τα ανω φρονειτε, Set your affections on things above, and endeavour to obtain them. Php 4:10, I rejoiced that now at length, ανεθαλλετε το υπερ εμου φρονειν, you have made your care of me to flourish again.”

2:1-4 Here are further exhortations to Christian duties; to like-mindedness and lowly-mindedness, according to the example of the Lord Jesus. Kindness is the law of Christ's kingdom, the lesson of his school, the livery of his family. Several motives to brotherly love are mentioned. If you expect or experience the benefit of God's compassions to yourselves, be compassionate one to another. It is the joy of ministers to see people like-minded. Christ came to humble us, let there not be among us a spirit of pride. We must be severe upon our own faults, and quick in observing our own defects, but ready to make favourable allowances for others. We must kindly care for others, but not be busy-bodies in other men's matters. Neither inward nor outward peace can be enjoyed, without lowliness of mind.If there be therefore any consolation in Christ - This, with what is said in the remainder of the verse, is designed as a motive for what he exhorts them to in Philippians 2:2 - that they would be of the same mind, and would thus fulfill his joy. To urge them to this, he appeals to the tender considerations which religion furnished - and begins by a reference to the consolation which there was in Christ. The meaning here may be this: "I am now persecuted and afflicted. In my trials it will give me the highest joy to learn that you act as becomes Christians. You also are persecuted and afflicted Philippians 1:28-30; and, in these circumstances, I entreat that the highest consolation may be sought; and by all that is tender and sacred in the Christian religion, I conjure you, so to live as not to dishonor the gospel. So live as to bring down the highest consolation which can be obtained - the consolation which Christ alone can impart We are not to suppose that Paul doubted whether there was any consolation in Christ but the form of expression here is one that is designed to urge upon them the duty of seeking the highest possible. The consolation in Christ is that which Christ furnishes or imparts. Paul regarded him as the source of all comfort, and earnestly prays that they might so live that he and they might avail themselves in the fullest sense of that unspeakable enjoyment. The idea is, that Christians ought at all times, and especially in affliction, so to act as to secure the highest possible happiness which their Saviour can impart to them. Such an object is worth their highest effort; and if God sees it needful, in order to that, that they should endure much affliction, still it is gain. Religious consolation is always worth all which it costs to secure it.

If any comfort of love - If there be any comfort in the exercise of tender affection. That there is, no one can doubt. Our happiness is almost all centered in love. It is when we love a parent, a wife, a child, a sister, a neighbor, that we have the highest earthly enjoyment. It is in the love of God, of Christ, of Christians, of the souls of people, that the redeemed find their highest happiness. Hatred is a passion full of misery; love an emotion full of joy. By this consideration, Paul appeals to them, and the motive here is drawn from all the joy which mutual love and sympathy are fitted to produce in the soul Paul would have that love exercised in the highest degree, and would have them enjoy all the happiness which its mutual exercise could furnish.

If any fellowship of the Spirit - The word "fellowship - κοινωνία koinōnia - means that which is common to two or more; that of which they partake together; Ephesians 3:9 note; Philippians 1:5 note. The idea here is, that among Christians there was a participation in the influences of the Holy Spirit; that they shared in some degree the feelings, views, and joys of the Sacred Spirit Himself; and that this was a privilege of the highest order. By this fact, Paul now exhorts them to unity, love, and zeal - so to live that they might partake in the highest degree of the consolations of this Spirit.

If any bowels and mercies - If there is any affectionate bond by which you are united to me, and any regard for my sorrows, and any desire to fill up my joys, so live as to impart to me, your spiritual father and friend, the consolation which I seek.


Php 2:1-30. Continued Exhortation: To Unity: To Humility after Christ's Example, Whose Glory Followed His Humiliation: To Earnestness in Seeking Perfection, that They May Be His Joy in the Day of Christ: His Joyful Readiness to Be Offered Now by Death, so as to Promote Their Faith. His Intention to Send Timothy: His Sending Epaphroditus Meantime.

1. The "therefore" implies that he is here expanding on the exhortation (Php 1:27), "In one Spirit, with one mind (soul)." He urges four influencing motives in this verse, to inculcate the four Christian duties corresponding respectively to them (Php 2:2). "That ye be like-minded, having the same love, of one accord, of one mind"; (1) "If there be (with you) any consolation in Christ," that is, any consolation of which Christ is the source, leading you to wish to console me in my afflictions borne for Christ's sake, ye owe it to me to grant my request "that ye be like-minded" [Chrysostom and Estius]: (2) "If there be any comfort of (that is, flowing from) love," the adjunct of "consolation in Christ"; (3) "If any fellowship of (communion together as Christians, flowing from joint participation in) the Spirit" (2Co 13:14). As Pagans meant literally those who were of one village, and drank of one fountain, how much greater is the union which conjoins those who drink of the same Spirit! (1Co 12:4, 13) [Grotius]: (4) "If any bowels (tender emotions) and mercies (compassions)," the adjuncts of "fellowship of the Spirit." The opposites of the two pairs, into which the four fall, are reprobated, Php 2:3, 4.Philippians 2:1,2 Paul earnestly recommends to the Philippians mutual

love and union,

Philippians 2:3 lowliness of mind,

Philippians 2:4-8 and that charitable condescension for the good of

others, exemplified in the life and death of Christ,

Philippians 2:9-11 for which God had exalted him to be Lord of all.

Philippians 2:12,13 He exhorteth them to carefulness in working out their

own salvation,

Philippians 2:14,15 to obey the will of God cheerfully and universally,

that so they might distinguish themselves from the

rest of the world by a bright example of virtue,

Philippians 2:16-18 and by their steadiness give him, cause to rejoice in

the success of his labours, who would gladly lay down

his life to serve them.

Philippians 2:19,20 He hopeth to send Timothy to them shortly, whom he

greatly commendeth,

Philippians 2:21-30 as he doth the affection and zeal of Epaphroditus,

whom he sendeth, with this Epistle.

The apostle, reassuming his exhortation in the former chapter to unanimity, Philippians 1:27, doth here, by way of inference from what went immediately before, press them in a very affectionate manner, with a kind of rhetorical relation, and obtestation, as it were, adjure them.

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ; if any such exhortation, (as the word is rendered, Acts 13:15 1 Thessalonians 2:3 1 Timothy 4:13), in the name of Christ, might avail with them to cheer him and one another by their loving concord and being unanimous. Or as we, rendering it consolation; ;{ so Romans 15:4 2 Corinthians 1:4} If, which he may well suppose, and strongly affirm that he took it for granted, the main body of them had in some measure found by his ministry, what he here moves them to complete, {compare Philippians 1:6,7,27} in expectation to find more of what they had experimented, whatever indisposition might have crept upon some by the insinuations of the false apostles; yet, this

consolation in Christ may be considered either:

1. Actively: q.d. If ye would comfort me afflicted, in the concerns of Christ, or if ye have any Christian comfort which doth only proceed from those that are in Christ, (not from moral philosophy), or which is wont to be in those who worship the same Christ, let me his apostle be a partaker thereof. Or:

2. Passively, 2 Corinthians 7:4,6 Phm 1:7: If you, being in Christ, find any consolation against your afflictions, forasmuch as you have receivcd it by my ministry, we, being both in suffering circumstances, should be further comforted by a sweet agreement.

If any comfort of love; the Syriac renders it, any speaking to the heart, any solace from good and comfortable words did reach your hearts, John 11:19,31 1 Corinthians 14:3 1 Thessalonians 2:11 5:14, cheered with the love of God or Christ, or the brethren: or refreshed with my love to you, Philippians 1:8,9; or would that I should be conforted with your love to me, (as he himself and others were with the gracious affections of the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 7:7), which ye ought unfeignedly.

If any fellowship of the Spirit; if ye have any communion with me in the graces of the Spirit, and stand fast in one spirit, Philippians 1:27, and would show that you do persevere in the same Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:4, which acts in all the members of the mystical body of Christ, that do in him their Head partake of it.

If any bowels and mercies; if ye are duly affected with any real sympathy and commiseration towards me in my bonds for Christ, such inward affections as were moving in him towards them; Philippians 1:8, with Luke 1:78 2 Corinthians 7:15 Colossians 3:12; the latter word emphatically expressing the sense of the metaphor in the former. Then he, having thus pathetically urged these arguments, and closely followed them to embrace the matter proposed, puts them upon.

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ,.... Or "exhortation", as the word is sometimes rendered; that is, either if there is any exhortation of Christ to love and unity, as there is in John 13:34, and this is of any weight and value; or if an exhortation hereunto made in the name of Christ, by any of his ministers, messengers, and ambassadors, will be regarded, as it ought to be, then fulfil ye my joy, &c. Philippians 2:2, but as the word is frequently translated "consolation", as it is here in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions; the sense may be either, if there is any comfort to be given to them that are in Christ Jesus, as every converted man is, and as the apostle was, and especially to them that are afflicted and persecuted for the sake of Christ, are prisoners in him, and on his account, which was the apostle's case, then he desired they would attend to his following request: or if there was any consolation for them, and they had had any comfort in and from Christ; as all true, solid, strong, and everlasting consolation is only in Christ, and is founded on the greatness of his person, as God our Saviour, on the fulness of his grace, the efficacy of his blood, the perfection of his righteousness and sacrifice, and on the great salvation he is the author of: agreeably the Syriac version renders it, "if therefore ye have any consolation in Christ"; and the Arabic version, "if therefore ye enjoy any consolation from the grace of Christ"; which is displayed in the Gospel, as undoubtedly they did; and since then all this comfort was enjoyed by them, through the Gospel the apostle preached to them, the argument from hence must be strong upon them, to attend to what he desired of them:

if any comfort of love; in it, or from it; as from the love of God the Father, which is everlasting and unchangeable, and must be comforting, when shed abroad in the heart by the Spirit; and from the love of the Son, which is the same, and equally immovable and lasting, and which passeth knowledge; and from the love of the Spirit, in applying the grace of the Father, and of the Son, whereby he becomes a glorifier of them, and a comforter of his people; and from the love of the saints to one another, which renders their communion with each other comfortable, pleasant, and delightful: or the apostle's sense is, if they had so much love for him, as to wish and desire he might be comforted in his present situation, and that they would be willing to make use of any methods to comfort him, then he desires this; and this is all he desires, mutual love, peace, harmony, and agreement among themselves:

if any fellowship of the spirit: of the spirit of one saint with another; if there is such a thing as an union of spirits, an oneness of souls, a tasting of each other's spirits, and a communion with one another, then care should be taken to keep this unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace, Ephesians 4:3, or if there is any fellowship of the Holy Spirit of God, any communion with him, any such thing as a witnessing of him to, and with our spirits, or as fellowship with the Father and the Son by him, and saints are baptized into one body by one Spirit, and have been made to drink of the same Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:13, then it becomes them to be of one mind, and to stand fast in one Spirit, Philippians 1:27,

if any bowels and mercies; as there are in God, and in the Lord Jesus Christ, moving towards the saints; or such as become Christians, who, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, ought to put on bowels of mercies to one another; express the most hearty, inward, tender, and compassionate concern for each other's welfare, temporal and spiritual. Thus the apostle premises the most moving and pathetic arguments, leading on to the exhortations and advice, to love, harmony, and unity, given in Philippians 2:2.

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

(1) A most earnest request to remove all those things, by which that great and special consent and agreement is commonly broken, that is, contention and pride, by which it comes to pass that they separate themselves from one another.

(a) Any Christian comfort.

(b) If any seeking of inward love.

Php 2:1. Οὖν] infers from Php 1:30 what is, under these circumstances, the most urgent duty of the readers. If they are engaged in the same conflict as Paul, it is all the more imperatively required of them by the relation of cordial affection, which must bind them to the apostle in this fellowship that they should fulfil his joy, etc. Consequently, although, connecting what he is about to say with what goes immediately before (in opposition to Hofmann), he certainly, after the digression contained from ἥτις in Php 2:28 onwards, leads them back to the exhortation to unanimity already given in Php 2:27, to which is then subjoined in Php 2:3 f. the summons to mutual humility.

εἴ τις κ.τ.λ.] four stimulative elements, the existence of which, assumed by εἰ (comp on Colossians 3:1), could not but forcibly bring home to the readers the fulfilment of the apostle’s joy, Php 2:2.[85] With each ἐστί simply is to be supplied (comp. Php 4:8): If there be any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort of love, etc. It must be noticed that these elements fall into two parallel sections, in each of which the first element refers to the objective principle of the Christian life (ἐν Χριστῷ and πνεύματος), and the second to the subjective principle, to the specific disposition of the Christian (ἀγάπης and σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί). Thus the inducements to action, involved in these four elements, are, in equal measure, at once objectively binding and inwardly affecting (πῶς σφοδρῶς, πῶς μετὰ συμπαθείας πολλῆς! Chrysostom).

παρακλ. ἐν Χ.] ἐν Χ. defines the παρακλ. as specifically Christian, having its essence and activity in Christ; so that it issues from living fellowship with Him, being rooted in it, and sustained and determined by it. Thus it is in Christ, that brother exhorteth brother. παράκλησις means exhortation (1 Corinthians 14:3; Romans 12:8; Acts 4:36; Acts 9:31; Acts 13:15; Acts 15:31), i.e. persuasive and edifying address; the more special interpretation consolatio, admissible in itself, anticipates the correct rendering of the παραμύθιον which follows (in opposition to Vulgate, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Erasmus, Beza, Calvin, Estius, Grotius, Heinrichs, and many others; and recently Hoelemann and Ewald).

εἴ τι παραμ. ἀγάπ.] παραμύθιον (see generally Schaefer ad Bos. p. 492; Lobeck ad Phryn. p. 517; Jacobs ad Ach. Tat. p. 708) corresponds to the fourth clause (σπλάγχνα κ. οἰκτ.), and for this reason, as well as because it must be different from the preceding element,[86] cannot be taken generally with Calovius, Flatt, Matthies, de Wette, Hoelemann, van Hengel, Ewald, Weiss, J. B. Lightfoot, and Hofmann as address, exhortation (Plat. Legg. vi. p. 773 E, xi. p. 880 A), but definitely as comfort (Thuc. v. 103; Theocr. xxiii. 7; Anth. Pal. vii. 195, 1; Wis 3:18; Esther 8:15; comp. παραμυθία, Plat. Axioch. p. 375 A; Luc. Nigr. 7; Psalm 65:12; Wis 19:12; 1 Corinthians 14:3). Ἀγάπης is the genitive of the subject: a consolation, which love gives, which flows from the brotherly love of Christians. In order to make out an allusion to the Trinity in the three first points, dogmatic expositors like Calovius, and also Wolf, have understood ἀγάπης of the love of God (to us).

εἴ τις κοινων. πν.] if any fellowship of the Spirit (i.e. participation in the Spirit) exists; comp. on 2 Corinthians 13:13. This is to be explained of the Holy Spirit, not of the animorum conjunctio (Michaelis, Rosenmüller, am Ende, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Hoelemann, Wiesinger, Hofmann, and others; Usteri and Rilliet mix up the two), which is inconsistent with the relation of this third clause to the first (ἐν Χριστῷ), and also with the sequel, in which (Php 2:2) Paul encourages them to fellowship of mind, and cannot therefore place it in Php 2:1 as a motive.

εἴ τινα σπλ. κ. οἰκτ.] if there be any heart and compassion. The former used, as in Php 1:8, as the seat of cordial loving affections generally; the latter, specially as misericordia (see on Romans 9:15), which has its seat and life in the heart. See also on Colossians 3:12; comp. Luke 1:28; Tittmann, Synon. p. 68 f.

It must further be remarked, with regard to all four points, that the context, by virtue of the exhortation based upon them πληρώσατέ μον τὴν χαράν in Php 2:2, certainly presupposes their existence in the Philippians, but that the general expression (if there is) forms a more moving appeal, and is not to be limited by the addition of in you (Luther, Calvin, and others). Hence the idea is: “If there is exhortation in Christ, wherewith one brother animates and incites another to a right tone and attitude; if there is comfort of love, whereby one refresheth the other; if there is fellowship in the Spirit, which inspires right feelings, and confers the consecration of power; if there is a heart and compassion, issuing in sympathy with, and compassion for, the afflicted,—manifest all these towards me, in that ye make full my joy (μου τὴν χαράν).” Then, namely, I experience practically from you that Christian-brotherly exhortation,[87] and share in your comfort of love, and so ye put to proof, in my case, the fellowship in the Spirit and the cordial sympathy, which makes me not distressed, but glad in my painful position.

There is much that is mistaken in the views of those who defend the reading τις before σπλ. (see van Hengel and Reiche), which cannot be got rid of by the assumption of a constructio ad synesin (in opposition to Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 71. [E. T. 81]). Hofmann is driven by this reading, which he maintains, to the strange misinterpretation of the whole verse as if it contained only protases and apodoses, to be thus divided: εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις, ἐν Χριστῷ· εἴ τι παραμύθιον, ἀγάπης· εἴ τις κοινωνία πνεύματος, εἴ τις, σπλάγχνα κ. οἰκτιρμοί; this last εἴ τις being a repetition of the previous one with an emphasizing of the εἰ. Accordingly the verse is supposed to mean: “If exhortation, let it be exhortation in Christ; if consolation, let it be a consolation of love; if fellowship of the Spirit, if any, let it be cordiality and compassion.” A new sentence would then begin with πληρώσατε.[88] Artifices such as this can only serve to recommend the reading ΕἼ ΤΙΝΑ.

[85] Hitzig, z. Krit. Paul. Briefe, p. 18, very erroneously opines that there is here a made excitement, an emphasis in which not so much is felt as is put into the words; and the four times repeated if is to cover the defect,—in connection with which an utterly alien parallel is adduced from Tacit. Agric. 46.

[86] Hofmann erroneously makes the quite arbitrary distinction that παρακλ. refers to the will, and παραμ. to the feelings. The will, feelings, and intellect are called into exercise by both. Comp., especially on παραμύθ., Stallbaum, ad Plat. Rep. p. 476 E; Phaed. p. 70 B; Euthyd. p. 272 B; Thuc. viii. 86, 1.

[87] In the application of the general εἴ τις παράκλησις ἐν Χ., the subjects of this παράκλησις must, following the rule of the other elements, be the Philippians; Paul (Wiesinger, comp. Ewald) cannot he conceived as the παρακαλῶν.

[88] From this interpretation of the whole passage he should have been deterred by the forlorn position which is assigned to the εἴ τις before σπλάγχνα as the stone of stumbling, as well as by the purposelessness and even inappropriateness of an oddly emphasized problematical sense of this εἴ τις.—If it be thought that the reading εἴ τις σπλ. must be admitted. I would simply suggest the following by way of necessary explanation of the passage:—1st, Let the verse be regarded as consisting of a series of four protases, on which the apodosis then follows in ver. 2; 2d, Let ἐν Χριστῷ, ἀγάπης, πνεύματος and σπλάγχνα κ. οἰκτιρμοί be taken uniformly as predicative specifications; 3d, Let κοινωνία be again understood with the last εἴ τις. Paul would accordingly say: “If any exhortation is exhortation in Christ, if any comfort is comfort of love, if any fellowship is fellowship of the Spirit, if any (fellowship) is cordiality and compassion (that is, full of cordiality and compassion) fulfil ye,” etc. The apostle would thus give to the element of the κοινωνία, besides the objective definition of its nature (πνεύματος, referring to the Holy Spirit), also a subjective one (σπλ. κ. σἰκτιρμ.), and mark the latter specially by the repetition of εἴ τις, sc κοινωνία., as well as designate it the more forcibly by the nominative expression (σπλάγχνα κ. οἰκτ., not another genitive), inasmuch as the latter would set forth the ethical nature of such a κοινωνία (comp. such passages as Romans 7:7; Romans 8:10; Romans 14:17) in the form of a direct predicate. The εἰ, moreover, would remain uniformly the syllogistic εἰ in all the four clauses, and not, as in Hofmann’s view, suddenly change into the problematic sense in the fourth clause.


Ch. Php 2:1-4. The subject continued: appeal for self-forgetful Unity

1. therefore] The connexion of thought with the previous sentences is close. He has pressed on them the duty and blessing of concord and cooperation, and now enforces it further, with a special appeal to them to minister happiness to himself, as to a Christian brother, by obedience.

consolation] R.V. comfort, which is better. The Greek word, in its prevailing meaning, denotes rather encouragement, strengthening, than the tenderer “consolation”; and the word “comfort”, by its derivation (confortatio), may fairly represent it. The thought of the mutual love and union of the Philippians would cheer and animate their Apostle and friend.

in Christ] Getting its motive and virtue from the union in Christ of the Apostle and the Philippians.

comfort of love] Better, consolation, &c. See last note but one.—The word occurs here only in N.T. A closely similar form occurs in a kindred connexion, 1 Corinthians 14:3.—“Of love:”—love’s result and expression.

fellowship of the Spirit] Cp. 2 Corinthians 13:14 “the communion of the Holy Spirit.” In the Greek here the word pneuma (spirit) is without the article, and many scholars hold that in all such cases not the Divine Spirit as a Person, but His gift or gifts, is meant; and that thus here the meaning will be “if there is a participation, on your part and mine alike, in the same spiritual love, joy, peace, &c.” But the presence or absence of the article in these cases is a very precarious index of meaning, when the substantive is a great and familiar word. Context and parallels are necessary to the decision in each place. And in this place the parallel (2 Cor.) quoted, seems to us to point clearly to the highest reference—to “the one and the selfsame Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:11), the promised Paraclete Himself, Whom all the saints “share” as their common Life-Giver, Strengthener, and Sanctifier.—“Fellowship of” might grammatically mean “union of heart and interests, prompted by.” But usage is decisively for the meaning “participation in.”

bowels and mercies] Better, with R.V., tender mercies and compassions. No English version before 1582 has the word “bowels.” On that word see note above on Php 2:8.—He appeals with pathetic directness and simplicity, last of all, to their human emotions as such.

Php 2:1. Εἴ τις) If it be thought preferable that this word be read four times, we may thus explain it: if therefore exhortation[12] in Christ be any (joy), if the comfort of love be any[13] (joy), if the fellowship of the Spirit be any (joy), if bowels and mercies be any (joy), fulfil ye my joy; so that the predicate supplied four times may be joined with the subject expressed. See on a similar ellipse, Mark 15:8, note. Certainly Paul’s joy was most present and vivid; even with the common reading,[14] ΕἼ ΤΙςΕἼ ΤΙΝΑ, if any—if any, the joy is still by implication denoted, being about to be fulfilled by harmony, etc.—οὖν, therefore) This corresponds to ch. Php 1:27, in one spirit, with one mind.—παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ, exhortation [consolation] in Christ) This has as its adjunct, comfort of love; and fellowship of the Spirit has as adjuncts, bowels and mercies. The four fruits correspond to these four influencing motives in the same order, that, etc., in the following verse, as even the mention of love, put twice [viz. both in Php 2:1 and Php 2:2], in the second place indicates; and the opposites of each pair are put away [as unworthy of Christians] in Php 2:3-4. All things are derived from Christ and the Holy Spirit.

[12] The Greek word παράκλησις signifies either exhortation or consolation. The Engl. Vers. has taken the latter, Bengel the former

[13] ABCGfg Vulg. and Rec. Text read εἴ τι παραμύθιον. Only D(Δ) corrected reads τις.—ED.

[14] Which both the margin of each Ed. and the Germ. Vers. seem to prefer.—E. B.

ABCD(Δ)G read εἴ τις σπλάγχνα. And so Lachm. Vulg. has “Siquid (siquis) viscera.” fg Rec. Text and Tisch., with less authority, read εἴ τινα σπλάγχνα.—ED.

Verse 1. - If there be therefore, any consolation in Christ. Mark the fervor of the apostle. Ὅρα πῶς λιπαρῶς πῶς σφοδρῶς πῶς μετὰ συμπαωείας πολλῆς (Chrysostom). He appeals to the Christian experience of the Philippians; if these experiences are real, as they are; facts verified in the believer's consciousness; not talk, not mere forms of speech, - then fulfill ye my joy. Consolation; perhaps "exhortation" is the more suitable rendering in this place: if the presence of Christ, if communion with Christ, hath power to stir the heart, to stimulate the emotions, to constrain the will. If any comfort of love; comfort springing out of love. Love is the subjective result of the presence of Christ as an objective reality, and with love comes comfort (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:3 and 1 Thessalonians 2:11). If any fellowship of the Spirit. If the indwelling of the Holy Ghost be true, a felt reality in the Christian life. Not, as some understand, "If there be any fellowship of spirit among themselves." If any bowels and mercies. Bowels (see note on Philippians 1:8), the seat of the feelings of compassion; mercies, those feelings themselves. The pronoun "any," according to the reading of all the best manuscripts, is masculine singular; the word "bowels," being neuter plural εἴ τις σπλάγχνα If St. Paul really wrote thus, we must suppose that the warmth of his feelings suddenly led him to substitute σπλάγχνα for some other word originally in his thoughts. "Under any circumstances," says Bishop Lightfoot, "the reading εἴ τις is a valuable testimony to the scrupulous fidelity of the early transcribers, who copied the text as they found it, even when it contained readings so manifestly difficult." Philippians 2:1Therefore

Paul has spoken, in Philippians 1:26, of the Philippians' joy in his presence. Their joy is to find expression in duty - in the fulfillment of their obligations as members of the christian commonwealth, by fighting the good fight of faith and cheerfully appropriating the gift of suffering (Philippians 1:27-29). Philippians 2:30, alluding to his own conflicts, marks the transition from the thought of their joy to that of his joy. Therefore, since such is your duty and privilege, fulfill my joy, and show yourselves to be true citizens of God's kingdom by your humility and unity of spirit.

Consolation (παράκλησις)

Rev., comfort. Better, exhortation. See on Luke 6:24. If Christ, by His example, sufferings, and conflicts, exhorts you.

Comfort of love (παραμύθιον)

Rev., consolation. Only here in the New Testament. From παρά beside, and μῦθος speech or word. Παρὰ has the same force as in παράκλησις exhortation (see on Luke 6:24); a word which comes to the side of one to stimulate or comfort him; hence an exhortation, an encouragement. So Plato: "Let this, then, be our exhortation concerning marriage" ("Laws," 773). A motive of persuasion or dissuasion. Plato, speaking of the fear of disgrace, or of ill-repute, says. "The obedient nature will readily yield to such incentives" ("Laws," 880). Also an assuagement or abatement. So Sophocles: "Offspring of the noble, ye are come as the assuagement of my woes" ("Electra," 130). Plato: "They say that to the rich are many consolations" ("Republic," 329). Plato also calls certain fruits stimulants (παραμυθία) of a sated appetite ("Critias," 115). Here in the sense of incentive. As related to exhortation, exhortation uses incentive as a ground of appeal. Christ exhorts, appealing to love. Compare Philippians 1:9 sqq. See Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 13:4; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 5:2; 1 John 4:16, etc. The two verbs kindred to exhortation and incentive occur together at 1 Thessalonians 2:11. See on 1 Corinthians 14:3. Render here, if any incentive of love.

Fellowship of the Spirit

Communion with the Holy Spirit, whose first fruit is love. Galatians 5:22. Participation in His gifts and influences. Compare 2 Peter 1:4, and 2 Corinthians 13:13.

Bowels and mercies (σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί)

For mercies, see on 2 Corinthians 1:3, and compare Colossians 3:12.

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