Philippians 4:10
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
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(10-20) These verses form a singularly graceful and dignified postscript, acknowledging the offerings of the Philippians sent by Epaphroditus, in a tone mingling apostolic commendation and blessing with a true brotherly thankfulness.

(10) Now at the last.—There is in these words an expression of some hitherto disappointed expectation, not wholly unlike the stronger expression of wounded feeling in 2Timothy 4:9-10; 2Timothy 4:16. At Cæsarea St. Paul would have been necessarily cut off from the European churches; at Rome, the metropolis of universal concourse, he may have expected some earlier communication. But, fearing to wound the Philippians by even the semblance of reproof, in their case undeserved, he adds at once, “In which ye were also careful (before), but ye lacked opportunity.”. Epaphroditus would seem to have arrived early, almost as soon as St. Paul’s arrival at Rome gave them the opportunity which they previously lacked.



Php 4:10-14 {R.V.}.

It is very difficult to give money without hurting the recipient. It is as difficult to receive it without embarrassment and sense of inferiority. Paul here shows us how he could handle a delicate subject with a feminine fineness of instinct and a noble self-respect joined with warmest gratitude. He carries the weight of obligation, is profuse in his thanks, and yet never crosses the thin line which separates the expression of gratitude from self-abasing exaggeration, nor that other which distinguishes self-respect in the receiver of benefits from proud unwillingness to be obliged to anybody. Few words are more difficult to say rightly than ‘Thank you.’ Some people speak them reluctantly and some too fluently: some givers are too exacting in the acknowledgments they expect, and do not so much give as barter so much help for so much recognition of superiority.

The Philippians had sent to Paul some money help by Epaphroditus as we heard before in Chapter II., and this gift he now acknowledges in a paragraph full of autobiographical interest which may be taken as a very model of the money relations between teachers and taught in the church. It is besides an exquisite illustration of the fineness and delicacy of Paul’s nature, and it includes large spiritual lessons.

The stream of the Apostle’s thoughts takes three turns here. There is first the exuberant and delicate expression of his thanks, then, as fearing that they might misunderstand his joy in their affection as if it were only selfish gladness that his wants had been met, he gives utterance to his triumphant and yet humble consciousness of his Christ-given independence in, and of, all circumstances, and then feeling in a moment that such words, if they stood alone, might sound ungrateful, he again returns to thanks, but not for their gift so much as for the sympathy expressed in it. We may follow these movements of feeling now.

I. The exuberant expression of thanks, ‘I rejoice in the Lord greatly.’

There is an instance of his following his own twice-given precept, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always.’ The Philippians’ care of him was the source of the joy, and yet it was joy in the Lord. So we learn the perfect consistency of that joy in Christ with the full enjoyment of all other sources of joy, and especially of the joy that arises from Christian love and friendship. Union with Christ heightens and purifies all earthly relations. Nobody should be so tender and so sweet in these as a Christian. His faith should be like the sunshine blazing out over the meadows making them greener. It should, and does in the measure of its power, destroy selfishness and guard us against the evils which sap love and the anxieties which torment it, against the dread that it may end, and our hopeless desolation when it does. There is a false ascetic idea of Christian devotion as if it were a regard to Christ which made our hearts cold to others, which is clean against Paul’s experience here. His joy went out in fuller stream towards the Philippians because it was ‘joy in the Lord.’

We may just note in passing the tender metaphor by which the Philippians’ renewed thought of him is likened to a tree’s putting forth its buds in a gracious springtide, and may link with it the pretty fancy of an old commentator whom some people call prosaic and puritanical {Bengel}, that the stormy winter had hindered communication, and that Epaphroditus and the gifts came with the opening spring.

Paul’s inborn delicacy and quick considerateness comes beautifully forward in his addition, to remove any suspicion of his thinking that his friends in Philippi had been negligent or cold. Therefore he adds that he knew that they had always had the will. What had hindered them we do not know. Perhaps they had no one to send. Perhaps they had not heard that such help would be welcome, but whatever frost had kept the tree from budding, he knew that the sap was in it all the same.

We may note that trait of true friendship, confidence in a love that did not express itself. Many of us are too exacting in always wanting manifestations of our friend’s affection. What cries out for these is not love so much as self-importance which has not had the attention which it thinks its due. How often there have been breaches of intimacy which have no better reason than ‘He didn’t come to see me often enough’; ‘He hasn’t written to me for ever so long’; ‘He does not pay me the attention I expect.’ It is a poor love which is always needing to be assured of another’s. It is better to err in believing that there is a store of goodwill in our friends’ hearts to us which only needs occasion to be unfolded. One often hears people say that they were quite surprised at the proofs of affection which came to them when they were in trouble. They would have been happier and more nearly right if they had believed in them when there was no need to show them.

II. Consciousness of Christ-given independence and of ‘content’ is scarcely Paul’s whole idea here, though that, no doubt, is included. We have no word which exactly expresses the meaning. ‘Self-sufficient’ is a translation, but then it has acquired a bad meaning as connoting a false estimate of one’s own worth and wisdom. What Paul means is that whatever be his condition he has in himself enough to meet it. He does not depend on circumstances, and he does not depend on other people for strength to face them. Many words are not needed to insist that only the man of whom these things are true is worth calling a man at all. It is a miserable thing to be hanging on externals and so to be always exposed to the possibility of having to say, ‘They have taken away my Gods.’ It is as wretched to be hanging on people. ‘The good man shall be satisfied for himself.’ The fortress that has a deep well in the yard and plenty of provisions within, is the only one that can hold out.

This independence teaches the true use of all changing circumstances. The consequence of ‘learning’ therewith to be content is further stated by the Apostle in terms which perhaps bear some reference to the mysteries of Greek religion, since the word rendered ‘I have learned the secret’ means I have been initiated. He can bear either of the two extremes of human experience, and can keep a calm and untroubled mind whichever of them he has to front. He has the same equable spirit when abased and when abounding. He is like a compensation pendulum which corrects expansions and contractions and keeps time anywhere. I remember hearing of a captain in an Arctic expedition who had been recalled from the Tropics and sent straight away to the North Pole. Sometimes God gives His children a similar experience.

It is possible for us not only to bear with equal minds both extremes, but to get the good out of both. It is a hard lesson and takes much conning, to learn to bear sorrow or suffering or want. They have great lessons to teach us all, and a character that has not been schooled by one of these dwellers in the dark is imperfect as celery is not in season till frost has touched it. But it is not less difficult to learn how to bear prosperity and abundance, though we think it a pleasanter lesson. To carry a full cup without spilling is proverbially difficult, and one sees instances enough of men who were far better men when they were poor than they have ever been since they were rich, to give a terrible significance to the assertion that it is still more difficult to live a Christian life in prosperity than in sorrow. But while both threaten, both may minister to our growth. Sorrow will drive, and joy will draw, us nearer to God. If we are not tempted by abundance to plunge our desires into it, nor tempted by sorrow to think ourselves hopelessly harmed by it, both will knit us more closely to our true and changeless good. The centrifugal and centripetal forces both keep the earth in its orbit.

It is only when we are independent of circumstances that we are able to get the full good of them. When there is a strong hand at the helm, the wind, though it be almost blowing directly against us, helps us forward, but otherwise the ship drifts and washes about in the trough. We all need the exhortation to be their master, for we can do without them and they serve us.

Paul here lets us catch a glimpse of the inmost secret of his power without which all exhortations to independence are but waste words. He is conscious of a living power flowing through him and making him fit for anything, and he is not afraid that any one who studies him will accuse him of exaggeration even when he makes the tremendous claim ‘I can do all things in Him that strengtheneth me.’ That great word is even more emphatic in the original, not only because, as the Revised Version shows, it literally is in and not through , and so suggests again his familiar thought of a vital union with Jesus, but also because he uses a compound word which literally means ‘strengthening within,’ so then the power communicated is breathed into the man, and in the most literal sense he is ‘strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.’ This inward impartation of strength is the true and only condition of that self-sufficingness which Paul has just been claiming. Stoicism breaks down because it tries to make men apart from God sufficient for themselves, which no man is. To stand alone without Him is to be weak. Circumstances will always be too strong for me, and sins will be too strong. A Godless life has a weakness at the heart of its loneliness, but Christ and I are always in the majority, and in the face of all foes, be they ever so many and strong, we can confidently say, ‘They that be with us are more than they that be with them.’ The old experience will prove true in our lives, and though ‘they compass us about like bees,’ the worst that they can do is only to buzz angrily round our heads, and their end is in the name of the Lord to be destroyed. In ourselves we are weak, but if we are ‘rooted, grounded, built’ on Jesus, we partake of the security of the rock of ages to which we are united, and cannot be swept away by the storm, so long as it stands unmoved. I have seen a thin hair-stemmed flower growing on the edge of a cataract and resisting the force of its plunge, and of the wind that always lives in its depths, because its roots are in a cleft of the cliff. The secret of strength for all men is to hold fast by the ‘strong Son of God,’ and they only are sufficient in whatsoever state they are, to whom this loving and quickening voice has spoken the charter ‘My grace is sufficient for thee.’

III. The renewed thanks for the loving sympathy expressed in the gift.

We have here again an eager anxiety not to be misunderstood as undervaluing the Philippians’ gift. How beautifully the sublimity of the previous words lies side by side with the lowliness and gentleness of these.

We note here the combination of that grand independence with loving thankfulness for brotherly help. The self-sufficingness of Stoicism is essentially inhuman and isolating. It is contrary to God’s plan and to the fellowship which is meant to knit men together. So we have always to take heed to blend with it a loving welcome to sympathy, and not to fancy that human help and human kindness is useless. We should be able to do without it, but that need not make it the less sweet when it comes. We may be carrying water for the march, but shall not the less prize a brook by the way. Our firm souls should be like the rocking stones in Cornwall, poised so truly that tempests cannot shake them, and yet vibrating at the touch of a little child’s soft hand. That lofty independence needs to be humanised by grateful acceptance of the refreshment of human sympathy even though we can do without it.

Paul shows us here what is the true thing in a brother’s help for which to be thankful. The reason why he was glad of their help was because it spoke to his heart and told him that they were making themselves sharers with him in his troubles. As he tells us in the beginning of the letter, their fellowship in his labours had been from the beginning a joy to him. It was not so much their material help as their true sympathy that he valued. The high level to which he lifts what was possibly a very modest contribution, if measured by money standards, carries with it a great lesson for all receivers and for all givers of such gifts, teaching the one that they are purely selfish if they are glad of what they get, and bidding the other remember that they may give so as to hurt by a gift more than by a blow, that they may give infinitely more by loving sympathy than by much gold, and that a £5 note does not discharge all their obligations. We have to give after His pattern who does not toss us our alms from a height, but Himself comes to bestow them, and whose gift, though it be the unspeakable gift of eternal life, is less than the love it speaks, in that He Himself has in wondrous manner become partaker of our weakness. The pattern of all sympathy, the giver of all our possessions, is God. Let us hold to Him in faith and love, and all earthly love will be sweeter and sympathy more precious. Our own hearts will be refined and purified to a delicacy of consideration and a tenderness beyond their own. Our souls will be made lords of all circumstances and strengthened according to our need. He will say to us ‘My grace is sufficient for thee,’ and we, as we feel His strength being made perfect in our weakness, shall be able to say with humble confidence, ‘I can do all things in Christ who strengtheneth me within.’

Php 4:10. I rejoiced in the Lord greatly — Who directs all events. St. Paul was no stoic; he had strong passions, but all devoted to God; that now, at the last — By your present, which I have received from Epaphroditus; your care of me has flourished again — “Here, as in many other passages of his writings, the apostle shows the deep sense which he had of Christ’s governing the affairs of the world for the good of his servants: for this new instance of the Philippians’ care of his welfare, he ascribes expressly to the providence of Christ. And in the figurative expression, ανεθαλετε το υπερ εμου φρονειν, which is, literally, ye have flourished again to think or care, concerning me, he likens the Philippians’ care of him to a plant, which withers and dies in winter, but grows again in the following year; or to trees, which, after their leaves drop in autumn, put them forth again next spring. Lest, however, the Philippians might think this expression insinuated a complaint, that they had been negligent latterly, the apostle immediately adds, that they had always been careful to supply his wants, but had not had an opportunity till now.” Either they were in straitened circumstances themselves, or wanted a proper messenger by whom to send their bounty.

4:10-19 It is a good work to succour and help a good minister in trouble. The nature of true Christian sympathy, is not only to feel concern for our friends in their troubles, but to do what we can to help them. The apostle was often in bonds, imprisonments, and necessities; but in all, he learned to be content, to bring his mind to his condition, and make the best of it. Pride, unbelief, vain hankering after something we have not got, and fickle disrelish of present things, make men discontented even under favourable circumstances. Let us pray for patient submission and hope when we are abased; for humility and a heavenly mind when exalted. It is a special grace to have an equal temper of mind always. And in a low state not to lose our comfort in God, nor distrust his providence, nor take any wrong course for our own supply. In a prosperous condition not to be proud, or secure, or worldly. This is a harder lesson than the other; for the temptations of fulness and prosperity are more than those of affliction and want. The apostle had no design to urge them to give more, but to encourage such kindness as will meet a glorious reward hereafter. Through Christ we have grace to do what is good, and through him we must expect the reward; and as we have all things by him, let us do all things for him, and to his glory.But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly - The favor which Paul had received, and for which he felt so much gratitude, had been received of the Philippians; but he regarded "the Lord" as the source of it, and rejoiced in it as the expression of his kindness. The effect was to lead his heart with cheerfulness and joy up to God.

That now at the last - After so long a time. The reason why he had not before received the favor, was not neglect or inattention on their part, but the difficulty of having communication with him.

Your care of me hath flourished again - In the margin this is rendered "is revived," and this is the proper meaning of the Greek word. It is a word properly applicable to plants or flowers, meaning to grow green again; to flourish again; to spring up again. Here the meaning is, that they had been again prospered in their care of him, and to Paul it seemed as if their care had sprung up anew.

Wherein ye were also careful - That is, they were desirous to render him assistance, and to minister to his wants. Paul adds this, lest they should think he was disposed to blame them for inattention.

But ye lacked opportunity - Because there were no persons going to Rome from Philippi by whom they could send to him. The distance was considerable, and it is not probable that the contact between the two places was very constant.

10. But—transitional conjunction. But "now" to pass to another subject.

in the Lord—He views everything with reference to Christ.

at the last—"at last"; implying he was expecting their gift, not from a selfish view, but as a "fruit" of their faith, and to "abound" to their account (Php 4:11, 17). Though long in coming, owing to Epaphroditus' sickness and other delays, he does not imply their gift was too late.

your care … hath flourished again—Greek, "Ye have flourished again (revived, as trees sprouting forth again in spring) in your care for me."

wherein ye were also careful—in respect to which (revival, namely, the sending of a supply to me) "ye were also (all along) careful, but ye lacked opportunity"; whether from want of means or want of a messenger. Your "lack of service" (Php 2:30), was owing to your having "lacked opportunity."

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly; he signifies that he had been much raised in true spiritual (not carnal) joy, that the Lord had by his Spirit wrought in them such enlargedness of heart, as did show itself in their care of him for the sake of Christ. What follows, a learned man writes, may be rendered, that now at last, ye could bring to maturity the care of me; for whom indeed ye had been careful, but had not the ability. The apostle’s phrase is borrowed from trees, which in the winter season keep their sap within the bark, in the spring and summer grow green, and yield their fruit: so was the Philippians’ care of Paul, suffering in Christ’s cause; for the Greek word we translate

flourished again, or revived, is sometimes used actively, and transitively. So in the Seventy, Ezekiel 17:24; with the apocryphal writer, /APC Sir 1:18 11:22 50:11: and so it may be expounded here, not only of reviving, growing green, and budding again, (which is less than the thing is), but of bringing forth fruit. For their care of Paul was in their heart, but by reason of troubles it could not exert itself, or yield fruit, but only in the season, {as Matthew 21:34} which the apostle, softening his speech, allegeth as an apology for them: he doth not say there was not any opportunity in respect of himself, but a seasonableness in respect of them; they being destitute of a faculty of bringing forth fruit, Philippians 4:17, (which yet they always nourished in their most intimate affections towards him), till the present, when at length they had a seasonableness and an ability given them of God, to the perfecting of that fruit for the apostle. For what we translate

wherein, may, as Philippians 3:12, be translated, for where: compare the use of the particle and article, Matthew 18:4, with Matthew 26:50 Romans 5:12.

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly,.... The apostle proceeds to the last part of this epistle, and to take notice of the present which these Philippians had sent him, on account of which this his rejoicing was; and which was not small but great, and was not of a carnal but spiritual kind; it was a joy in the Holy Ghost, which is opposed to meats and drinks, and earthly enjoyments; it was a joy in the Lord; "in our Lord", as the Syriac version renders it; it was not so much on account of the nature, substance, quantity or quality of the things sent him, and the suitableness of them to his present necessity; but because this thing was of the Lord, he had put it into their hearts to do it, and had given them not only ability, but a willing mind, and had wrought in them both to will and to do; and because what they did they did for the sake of Christ, and to him as an apostle of his, and in obedience to Christ, and with a view to promote his cause and interest, honour and glory:

that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; which supposes that they had formerly, at the first preaching of the Gospel, showed great respect to him, and took great care of him, as appears from Philippians 4:15, but that for some time past, and it seems for a considerable while, they had dropped it, or at least had not shown it; but that now it revived again, and was seen in the present they had now sent him. The allusion is to trees, which in the summer season bear much fruit, in autumn cast their leaves, and in the winter are entirely bare, and in the spring of the year revive again, and put forth leaves and fruit: and just so it is with the saints, they are compared to trees, and are called trees of righteousness, Isaiah 61:3, and are fruitful ones, Jeremiah 23:3; but they have their winter seasons, when they are barren and unfruitful, and look as if they were dead; but when it is a spring time with them they revive again, as in the exercise of their faith and hope in Christ, so of their love to him, and to one another, and the ministers of the Gospel; when the south wind of the Spirit blows, the sun of righteousness arises, and, the dews of divine grace fall upon them; and such a revival was now in this church; and this was what the apostle so much rejoiced in, not so much for the gift bestowed on him, as for the fruit that appeared in them; see Philippians 4:17; but whereas he had said that this care of him flourished again, "at last"; lest this should be thought as finding fault with them, and bringing a charge against them, he corrects himself by adding,

wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity; signifying that he believed they had entertained the same sentiments of him, had the same affection and inward care for him all along; but they had no opportunity of showing it, he being at such a distance, and they having no convenient or proper persons to send to him; or were hindered through multiplicity of business on their hands, that they could not attend to him; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "but ye were busied", or taken up and employed in business; or it was for want of ability; for the words will bear to be rendered, "but ye lacked ability"; and to this sense does the Syriac version render it, , "but ye were not sufficient"; or had not a sufficiency, were not able to do it, and therefore to be easily excused.

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

(8) He witnesses that their liberality was acceptable to him, with which they helped him in his extreme poverty: but yet so moderating his words, that he might declare himself void of all suspicion of dishonesty, and that he has a mind content both with prosperity and adversity, and to be short, that he rests himself only in the will of God.

Php 4:10. Carrying on his discourse with δέ, Paul now in conclusion adds, down to Php 4:20, some courteous expressions, as dignified as they are delicate, concerning the aid which he had received. Hitherto, indeed, he had only mentioned this work of love briefly and casually (Php 2:25; Php 2:30). In the aid itself Baur discovers a contradiction of 1 Corinthians 9:15, and conjectures that the author of the epistle had 2 Corinthians 11:9 in view, and had inferred too much from that passage. But, in fact, Baur himself has inferred too much, and incorrectly, from 1 Corinthians 9:15; for in this passage Paul speaks of payment for his preaching, not of loving gifts from persons at a distance, which in point of fact put him in the position to preach gratuitously in Achaia, 2 Corinthians 11:8 ff. There is, besides, in our passage no mention of regular sendings of money.

ἐν κυρίῳ] as in Php 3:1, Php 4:4. It was, indeed, not a joy felt apart from Christ; οὐ κοσμικῶς ἐχάρην, φησὶν, οὐδὲ βιωτικῶς, Chrysostom.

μεγάλως] mightily. Comp. LXX., 1 Chronicles 29:9; Nehemiah 12:42; Polyb. iii. 87. 5; Polyc. 1. The position at the end is emphatic. See on Matthew 2:10; and Stallbaum, ad Plat. Phaedr. p. 256 E, Menex. p. 235 A.

ὅτι ἤδη ποτέ κ.τ.λ.] is to be rendered: “that ye have at length once again come into the flourishing condition of taking thought for my benefit, in behalf of which ye also TOOK thought, but had no favourable opportunity.

ἤδη ποτέ] taken in itself may mean: already once; or, as in Romans 1:10 : tandem aliquando. The latter is the meaning here, as appears from ἐφʼ ᾧ κ.τ.λ. Chrysostom justly observes (comp. Oecumenius and Theophylact) that it denotes χρόνον μακρόν, when namely that θάλλειν had not been present, which has now again (comp. Php 4:15 f.) set in. Comp. Baeumlein, Partik. p. 140. This view of ἤδη ποτέ is the less to be evaded, seeing that the reproach which some have discovered in the passage (ἐπιτίμησις, Chrysostom) is not by any means conveyed in it, as indeed from the delicate feeling of the apostle we might expect that it would not, and as is apparent from the correct explanation of the sequel.

ἀνεθάλετε] ye have again become green (refloruistis, Vulgate), like a tree or an orchard which had been withered, and has again budded and put forth new shoots (θαλλούς).[187] It cannot be the revival of their care-taking love which is meant, so that the readers would have previously been ἀπομαρανθέντες ἐν τῇ ἐλεημοσύνῃ (Oecumenius, also Chrysostom, Theophylact, Pelagius, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Beza, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Bengel, Flatt, Wiesinger, Ewald, and most expositors, who rightly take ἈΝΕΘΆΛ. as intransitive, as well as all who take it transitively; see below); for how indelicate would be such an utterance, which one could not, with Weiss, acquit from implying an assumption that a different disposition previously existed; and how at variance with the ἐφʼ ᾧ ἐφρονεῖτε κ.τ.λ. which immediately follows, and by which the continuous care previously exercised is attested! No, it is the flourishing anew of their prosperity (comp. Rheinwald, Matthies, van Hengel, Baumgarten-Crusius, Schenkel, Hofmann, and others), the opposite of which is afterwards expressed by ἠκαιρεῖσθε, that is denoted, as prosperous circumstances are so often represented under the figure of becoming green and blooming. Comp. Psalm 28:7 : ἈΝΈΘΑΛΕΝ Ἡ ΣΆΡΞ ΜΟΥ, Wis 4:3 f.; Hes. Op. 231: τέθηλε πόλις, Pind. Isth. iii. 9: ὄλβοςθάλλων, Pyth. vii. 22: θάλλουσαν εὐδαιμονίαν. Plat. Legg. xii. p. 945 D: ἡ πᾶσα οὕτω θάλλει τὲ καὶ εὐδαιμονεῖ χώρα κ. πόλις. Of frequent occurrence in the tragedians; comp. also Jacobs, ad Del. Epigr. viii. 97. It is therefore inconsistent, both with delicate feeling and with the context, to take ἀνεθάλ. transitively: “revirescere sivistis solitam vestram rerum mearum procurationem” (Hoelemann; comp. Coccejus, Grotius, Heinrichs, Hammond, and others, including Rilliet, de Wette, Weiss), although the transitive use of ἀναθάλλειν in the LXX. and also in the Apocrypha is unquestionable (Ezekiel 17:24; Sir 1:16; Sir 11:20; Sir 50:10; see generally Schleusner, Thes. I. p. 220 f.); and that of θάλλειν is also current in classical authors (Pind. Ol. iii. 24; Aesch. Pers. 622 (608); Jacobs, ad Anthol. VII. p. 103; Kühner, II. 1, p. 265). An unfounded objection is brought against the view which explains it of the revival of prosperity, that it is inappropriate as a subject of joy in the Lord (see Weiss); it is appropriate at all events, when such a use is made of the revived prosperity.

τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ φρονεῖν] is usually, with the correct intransitive rendering of ἈΝΕΘΆΛ.,[188] so understood that τὸ is taken together with ΦΡΟΝΕῖΝ, and this must be regarded as the accusative of more precise definition, which is only distinguished by its greater emphasis from the mere epexegetical infinitive. See Bernhardy, p. 356; Schmalfeld, Syntax d. Griech. Verb. p. 401 f.; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 222. Comp. van Hengel: “negotium volo mihi consulendi.” But the whole view which takes τό with ΦΡΟΝΕῖΝ is set aside by the following ἘΦʼ ᾯ Κ. ἘΦΡΟΝΕῖΤΕ; seeing that ἘΦʼ ᾯ, unless it is to be rendered at variance with linguistic usage by although (Luther, Castalio, Michaelis, Storr), or just as (Vulgate, van Hengel), could only convey in its the previous ΤῸ ὙΠῈΡ ἘΜΟῦ ΦΡΟΝΕῖΝ, and would consequently yield the logically absurd conception: ἘΦΡΟΝΕῖΤΕ ἘΠῚ Τῷ ὙΠῈΡ ἘΜΟῦ ΦΡΟΝΕῖΝ, whether ἘΦʼ ᾯ be taken as equivalent to ΟὟ ἝΝΕΚΑ (Beza) or qua de re (Rheinwald, Matthies, de Wette, Wiesinger, Ewald, and others), or in eo quod (Erasmus), in qua re (Cornelius a Lapide, Hoelemann), or et post id (Grotius), and the like. Recourse has been had, by way of helping the matter, to the suggestion that φρονεῖν ἐπί is a thinking without action, and φρονεῖν ὑπέρ a thinking with action (de Wette, Wiesinger; comp. Ewald); but how purely arbitrary is this view! Less arbitrarily, Calvin and Rilliet (“vous pensiez bien à moi”) have referred to ἘΜΟῦ, by which, no doubt, that logical awkwardness is avoided; but, on the other hand, the objection arises, that ἘΦʼ ᾯ is elsewhere invariably used by Paul as neuter only, and that it is difficult to see why, if he desired to take up ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ in a relative form, he should not have written ὙΠῈΡ ΟὟ, since otherwise in ἘΠΊ, if it merely went back to ἘΜΟῦ, the more precise and definite reference which he must have had in view would not be expressed, and since the progress of the thought suggested not a change of preposition, but only the change of the tenses (καὶ ἐφρονεῖτε). Weiss, interpreting ἘΦʼ ᾯ as: about which to take thought, refers it back to ἀνεθάλετε—a reference, however, which falls to the ground with the active interpretation of that word. Upon the whole, the only right course seems to be to take τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ together (comp. τὰ περὶ ὑμῶν, Php 2:20; also ΤᾺ ΠΑΡʼ ὙΜῶΝ, Php 4:18; and see generally, Krüger, § 50. 5. 12; Kühner, II. 1, p. 231 f.), and that as the accusative of the object to φρονεῖν (comp. Bengel, Schenkel, J. B. Lightfoot, Hofmann): “to take into consideration that which serves for my good,” to think of my benefit; on ὑπὲρ, comp. Php 1:7. Only thus does the sequel obtain its literal, logical, and delicately-turned reference, namely, when ἘΦʼ ᾯ applies to ΤῸ ὙΠῈΡ ἘΜΟῦ. Taking this view, we have to notice: (1) that ἘΠΊ is used in the sense of the aim (Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 475; Kühner, II. 1, p. 435): on behalf of which, for which, comp. Soph. O. R. 569; (2) that Paul has not again written the mere accusative (ὁ καὶ ἐφρ.), because ἘΦʼ ᾯ is intended to refer not alone to Κ. ἘΦΡΟΝΕῖΤΕ, but also to the antithesis ἨΚΑΙΡΕῖΣΘΕ ΔΈ, consequently to the entire Κ. ἘΦΡ., ἨΚΑΙΡ. ΔΈ;[189] (3) that the emphasis is placed on ἘΦΡΟΝ. as the imperfect, and καί indicates an element to be added to the φρονεῖν which has been just expressed; hence ΚΑῚ ἘΦΡ. intimates: “in behalf of which ye not only are taking thought (that is, since the ἀνεθάλετε), but also were taking thought (namely, πρόσθεν, before the ἀνεθάλετε);” lastly, (4) that after ἘΦΡ. there is no ΜΈΝ inserted, because the antithesis is meant to emerge unprepared for, and so all the more vividly.

ἨΚΑΙΡΕῖΣΘΕ] ye had no favourable time; a word belonging to the later Greek. Diod. exc. Mai. p. 30; Phot., Suid. The opposite: εὐκαιρεῖν, Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 125. Unsuitably and arbitrarily this is explained: “deerat vobis opportunitas mittendi” (Erasmus, Estius, Grotius, Bengel, Rosenmüller, and others). It refers, in keeping with the ἀνεθάλετε, not without delicacy of description, to the unfavourable state of things as regards means (Chrysostom: οὐκ εἴχετε ἐν χερσὶν, οὐδὲ ἐν ἀφθονίᾳ ἦτε; so also Theophylact; while Oecumenius adduces this interpretation alongside of the previous one) which had occurred among the Philippians, as Paul might have learned from Epaphroditus and otherwise. Comp. εὐκαιρεῖν τοῖς βίοις in Polyb. xv. 21. 2, xxxii. 21. 12; and also the mere ΕὐΚΑΙΡΕῖΝ in the same sense, iv. 60. 10; ΕὐΚΑΙΡΊΑ: xv. 31. 7, i. 59. 7; ἈΚΑΙΡΊΑ: Plat. Legg. iv. p. 709 A; Dem. 16. 4; Polyb. iv. 44. 11.

[187] The conjecture, on the ground of this figurative expression, that the Philippians might have sent to the apostle in spring, and that ἠκαιρεῖσθε δέ applies to the winter season (Bengel), is far-fetched and arbitrary. The figurative ἀνεθάλ. does not even need to be an image of spring, as Calvin, Estius, Weiss, and others understand it.

[188] In the transitive interpretation (see, against it, supra) the τὸ φρονεῖν which would likewise be taken together, would be the accusative forming the object of ἀνεθάλ. See Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 226 [E. T. 263]; Kühner, II. 2, p. 603.

[189] All the more groundless, therefore, is Hofmann’s objection, that φρονεῖν ἐτί τινι means: to be proud about something. This objection, put thus generally, is even in itself incorrect. For φρονεῖν ἐπί τινι does not in itself mean: to be proud about something, but only receives this signification through the addition of μέγα, μεγάλα, or some similar more precise definition (Plat. Theaet. p. 149 D, Alc. I. p. 104 C, Prot. p. 342 D, Sympos. p. 217 A: Dem. 181. 16, 836. 10), either expressly specified or directly suggested by the context. Very artificial, and for the simple reader hardly discoverable, is the view under which Hofmann takes the fact expressed by καὶ ἐφρονεῖτς as the ground, “upon, or on account of, which their re-emergence from an unfavourable position has been a revival unto care for him.” If the reference of ἰφʼ ᾧ to τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ were not directly given in the text, it would be much simpler to take ἐφʼ ᾧ as in Romans 5:12, Php 3:12, 2 Corinthians 5:4, in the sense of propterea quod, and that as a graceful and ingenious specification of the reason for the great joy of the apostle, that they had flourished again to take thought for his benefit; for their previous omission had been caused not by any lack of the φρονεῖν in question, but by the unfavourableness of the times.


10–20. He renders loving thanks for their Alms, brought him by Epaphroditus

10. But] The directly didactic message of the Epistle is now over, and he turns to the personal topic of the alms, for himself and his work, received through Epaphroditus from Philippi.

I rejoiced] R.V., I rejoice; taking the Greek aorist as “epistolary.” See on Php 2:25. The aorist may refer, however, to the joy felt when the gift arrived, the first thankful surprise; and if so, A.V. represents it rightly.

in the Lord] See last note on Php 1:8.—The whole circumstance, as well as the persons, was in deep connexion with Him.

at the last] Better, with R.V., at length; a phrase of milder emphasis.—“At the last” (cp. Genesis 49:19) is “at last” in an older form. The Philippians had sent St Paul a subsidy, or subsidies, before; but for reasons beyond their control there had been a rather long interval before this last.

your care of me hath flourished] Better, you have shot forth thought (as a branch or bud) for me; or, less lit., you have burgeoned into thought for me.—The verb, only intransitive in the classics, is also transitive in LXX. (see Ezekiel 17:24) and Apocrypha (see Sir 1:14). The poetic boldness of the phrase is noticeable; our second alternative translation fairly represents it. Perhaps the courteous kindliness of the Apostle’s thought comes out in it; an almost pleasantry of expression.

wherein] Or, whereon; “with a view to which”; i.e., as the previous words imply, with a view to an effort to aid him.

ye were careful] Ye took thought. The verb (phroneîn) is quite different from that in Php 4:6. It bears here (and just above, where its infinitive is represented by the English noun “thought”) the unusual meaning of definite thinking, not, as usual, that of being in a mental state. See on Php 1:7.

The gracious, sympathetic recognition of good intentions is indeed Christian.

lacked opportunity] Particularly, a suitable bearer had not been forthcoming.

Php 4:10. Μεγάλως, greatly) This would scarcely have pleased a Stoic. Paul had large affections, but in the Lord.—ἤδη ποτὲ, now at length) He shows that the gift of the Philippians had been expected by him; with what feeling of mind, see Php 4:11; Php 4:17, now, not too late—at length, not too soon. The time was the suitable time. Heb. ואת הפעם.—ἀνεθάλετε, have flourished again or revived) as trees: comp. the same metaphor, ch. Php 1:11, fruit: ἀναθάλλω is here a neuter verb, on which the infinitive φρονεῖν, think [care] depends, by supplying κατὰ, respect to; you have flourished again, in the very fact of the exertion which you have made. The deputation from the Philippians seems to have been appointed in Spring, from which, accordingly, the metaphor is taken. The phrase, wanted opportunity [referring to the past time] agrees with Winter.—τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ) The accusative τὸ is governed by φρονεῖν; τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ is said, as τὰ παρʼ ὑμῶν, Php 4:18.—ἐφʼ ᾧ, ) proportion, or to that which, according to the fact that: ἐπιθεραπεία.[55]—ἨΚΑΙΡΕῖΣΘΕ) ΚΑΙΡῸς, by Synecdoche, denotes all ability and opportunity.

[55] See App. An after mitigation or qualification of the previous words by way of conciliating the readers.—ED.

Verse 10. - But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again. St. Paul thanks the Philippian Church for the gifts brought by Epaphroditus; his expressions, so courteous and yet so dignified, bespeak, like the Epistle to Philemon, like all his writings, the perfect gentleman in the best sense of the word. I rejoiced in the Lord; he fulfils his own precept (ver. 4). His joy rises kern the gift to the love which prompted the gift, and thence to the Divine Giver of that love. Greatly. Bengel says, "Hoc vix placuerit Stoico. Paulus ingentes affectns habuit, sed in Domino." The R.V. rendering of the following words is more literal: "Ye revived your thought for me." The verb is properly used of a tree putting forth fresh shoots after its winter sleep. Bengel thinks that the metaphor was derived from the season; the apostle was writing in the spring. Offsets, as Meyer, render differently, "Ye flourished again (i.e. in your circumstances) so as to mind my interests." As the words might seem to imply some degree of blame, St. Paul hastens to ascribe the delay of the Philippians to causes beyond their own control. Wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity; more literally, wherein ye did indeed take thought, as R.V. It may be that they had no suitable messenger; but St. Paul speaks of the "deep poverty" of the Macedonian Churches in 2 Corinthians 8:1, 2, where he also praises their liberality. Philippians 4:10Your care of me hath flourished again (ἀνεθάλετε τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ φρονεῖν)

Lit., ye caused your thinking on my behalf to bloom anew. Rev., ye revived your thought for me. The verb occurs only here in the New Testament. In the Septuagint it appears as both transitive and intransitive, to flourish, or to cause to flourish. Thus Psalm 27:7, where Septuagint reads for my heart greatly rejoiceth, my flesh flourished (ἀνέθαλεν); Ezekiel 17:24, have made the dry tree to flourish.


The matter of my wants and sufferings. Implied in your care of me.

Ye were careful (ἐφρονεῖτε)

Rev., ye did take thought. Note the imperfect tense: ye were all along thoughtful.

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