Philippians 2
Pulpit Commentary
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
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."
Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Verse 2. - Fulfil ye my joy. St. Paul has already (Philippians 1:4) spoken of his joy derived from the life and conduct of the Philippian Christians; now he asks them to complete his joy by living in unity. There were disagreements among them (Philippians 4:2). That ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. The apostle's earnestness leads him to dwell on the idea of unity, clothing the one thought again and again in different words. Βαβαί says Chrysostom, ποσάκις τὸ αὐτὸ λέγει ἀπὸ διαθέσεως πολλῆς. "Having the same love:" loving and beloved; ὁμοίως καὶ φιλεῖν καὶ φιλεῖσθαι (Chrysostom). "Being of one accord σύμψυχοι," Bishop Ellicott renders more literally, "With accordant souls minding the one thing."
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Verse 3. - Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory. Not "strife," but "faction," as R.V. The word is the same as that rendered "contention" in Philippians 1:10, where see note. Party spirit is one of the greatest dangers in running the Christian race. Love is the characteristic Christian grace; party spirit and vain-glory too often lead professing Christians to break the law of love. But in lowiness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. In your lowliness; the article seems to have a possessive sense, the lowliness characteristic of Christians, which you as Christians possess. Ταπεινοφροσύνη an exclusively New Testament word: the grace was new, and the word was new. The adjective ταπεινός in classical Greek is used as a term of reproach - abject, mean. The life of Christ ("I am meek and lowly in heart") and the teaching of Christ ("Blessed are the poor in spirit") have raised lowliness to a new position, as one of the chief features in the true Christian character. Here St. Paul bids us, as a discipline of humility, to look at our own faults and at the good points in the character of others (comp. Romans 12:10).
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Verse 4. - Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Translate, "looking," as R.V., not making one's own interest the one only object of life, but regarding also the interests, feelings, wishes, of others. Each man must in a measure look at his own things, - the καί implies that; but he must consider others if he is a Christian indeed.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Verse 5. - Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; literally, according to the reading of the best manuscripts, mind this in you which was also (minded) in Christ Jesus. Many manuscripts take the words "every man" (ἕκαστοι) of Ver. 4 with Ver. 5: "All of you mind this." The words, "in Christ Jesus," show that the corresponding words, "in you," cannot mean "among you," but in yourselves, in your heart. The apostle refers us to the supreme example of unselfishness and humility, the Lord Jesus Christ. He bids us mind (comp. Romans 8:5) the things which the Lord Jesus minded, to love what he loved, to hate what he hated; the thoughts, desires, motives, of the Christian should be the thoughts, desires, motives, which filled the sacred heart of Jesus Christ our Lord. We must strive to imitate him, to reproduce his image, not only in the outward, but even in the inner life. Especially here we are biddcn to follow his unselfishness and humility.
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Verse 6. - Who, being in the form of God. The word rendered "being" (ὑπάρχων) means, as R.V. in margin, being originally. It looks back to the time before the Incarnation, when the Word, the Λόγος ἄσαρκος, was with God (comp. John 8:58; John 17:5, 24). What does the word μορφή form, mean here? It occurs twice in this passage - Ver. 6, "form of God;" and Ver. 7, "form of a servant;" it is contrasted with σχῆμα fashion, in Ver. 8. In the Aristotelian philosophy (vide ' De Anima,' 2:1, 2) μορφή. is used almost in the sense of εϊδος, or τὸ τί η΅ν εϊναι as that which makes a thing to be what it is, the sum of its essential attributes: it is the form, as the expression of those essential attributes, the permanent, constant form; not the fleeting, outward σχῆμα, or fashion. St. Paul seems to make a somewhat similar distinction between the two words. Thus in Romans 8:29; Galatians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:10, μορφή (or its derivatives) is used of the deep inner change of heart, the change which is described in Holy Scripture as a new creation; while σχῆμα is used of the changeful fashion of the world and agreement with it (1 Corinthians 7:31; Romans 12:2). Then, when St. Paul tells us that Christ Jesus, being first in the form of God, took the form of a servant, the meaning must be that he possessed originally the essential attributes of Deity, and assumed in addition the essential attributes of humanity. He was perfect God; he became perfect (comp. Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3; 2 Corinthians 4:4). For a fuller discussion of the meanings of μορφή and σχῆμα, see Bishop Lightfoot's detached note ('Philippians,' p. 127), and Archbishop Trench, 'Synonyms of the New Testament,' sect. 70. Thought it not robbery to be equal with God; R.V. "counted it not a prize [margin, 'a thing to be grasped'] to be on an equality with God." These two renderings represent two conflicting interpretations of this difficult passage. Do the words mean that Christ asserted his essential Godhead ("thought it not robbery to be equal with God," as A.V.), or that he did not cling to the glory of the Divine majesty ("counted it not a prize," as R.V.)? Both statements are true in fact. The grammatical form of the word ἁρπαγμός, which properly implies an action or process, favors the first view, which seems to be adopted by most of the ancient versions and by most of the Latin Fathers. On the other hand, the form of the word does not exclude the passive interpretation; many words of the same termination have a passive meaning, and ἁρπαγμός itself is used in the sense of ἅρπαγμα by Eusebius, Cyril of Alexandria, and a writer in the 'Catena Possini' on Mark 10:42 (the three passages are quoted by Bishop Lightfoot, in loco). The Greek Fathers (as Chrysostom Ὁ τοῦ Θεοῦ υἱὸς οὐκ ἐφοβήθη καταβῆναι ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀξιώματος, etc.) generally adopt this interpretation. And the context seems to require it. The aorist ἡγήσατο points to an act, the act of abnegation; not to a state, the continued assertion. The conjunction "but" (ἀλλὰ) implies that the two sentences are opposed to one another. He did not grasp, but, on the contrary, he emptied himself. The first interpretation involves the tacit insertion of "nevertheless;" he asserted his equality, but nevertheless, etc. And the whole stress is laid on the Lord's humility and unselfishness. It is true that this second interpretation does not so distinctly assert the divinity of our Lord, already sufficiently asserted in the first clause, "being in the form of God." But it implies it. Not to grasp at equality with God would not be an instance of humility, but merely the absence of mad impiety, in one who was not himself Divine. On the whole, then, we prefer the second interpretation. Though he was born the beginning in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped, a prize to be tenaciously retained. Not so good is the view of Meyer and others: "Jesus Christ, when he found himself in the heavenly mode of existence of Divine glory, did not permit himself the thought of using his equality with God for the purpose of seizing possessions and honor for himself on earth." The R.V. rendering of the last words of the clause," to be on an equality," is nearer to the Greek and better than the A.V., "to be equal with God." Christ was equal with God (John 5:18; John 10:30). He did not cling to the outward manifestation of that equality. The adverbial form ἴσα implies the state or mode of equality rather than the equality itself.
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Verse 7. - But made himself of no reputation; rather, as R.V., but emptied himself; not, he indeed, of the Godhead, which could not be, but of its manifestation, its glory. This he did once for all, as the aorist implies, at the Incarnation. The word "emptied' involves a previous fullness, "a precedent plenitude" (Pearson on the Creed, 2:25). The Divine majesty of which he emptied himself was his own, his own rightful prerogative; and his humiliation was his own voluntary act - he emptied himself. "He used his equality with God as an opportunity, not for self-exaltation, but for self-abasement" (Alford). "Manebat plenus, John 1:14, et tureen perinde se gessit ac si esset" (Bengel). And took upon him the form of a servant; rather, as R.V., taking the form. The two clauses refer to the same act of self-humiliation regarded from its two sides. He emptied himself of his glory, taking at the same time the form (μορφήν as in Ver. 6, the essential attributes) of a servant, literally, of a slave. Observe, he was originally (ὑπάρχων) in the form of God; he took (λαβών) the form of a slave. The Godhead was his by right, the manhood by his own voluntary act: both are equally real; he is perfect God and perfect Man. Isaiah prophesied of Christ (Isaiah 49 and Isaiah 52; comp. Acts 2:33, in the Greek or R.V.) as the Servant of Jehovah; he came to do the Father's will, submitting his own will in all things: "Not as I will, but as thou wilt" (comp. Matthew 20:27, 28; Mark 10:44, 45). And was made in the likeness of men; translate, becoming, or, as R.V., being made (aorist participle). This clause is another description of the one act of the Incarnation he was God, he became man. Form (μορφή) asserts the reality of our Lord's human nature. Likeness (ὁμοίωμα) refers only to external appearance: this word, of course, does not imply that our Lord was not truly man, but, as Chrysostom says ('Hom.,' 8:247), he was more. than man; "We are soul and body, but he is God and soul and body." The likeness of men; because Christ is the Representative of humanity: he took upon him, not a human person, but human nature. He is one person in two natures. As Bishop Lightfoot says, "Christ, as the second Adam, represents, not the individual man, but the human race."
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Verse 8. - And being found in fashion as a man. He humbled himself in the Incarnation; but this was not all. The apostle has hitherto spoken of our Lord's Godhead which he had from the beginning, and of his assumption of our human nature. He now speaks of him as he appeared in the sight of men. The aorist participle, "being found (εὑρεθείς)," refers to the time of his earthly life when he appeared as a man among men. Fashion (σχῆμα), as opposed to form (μορφή), implies the outward and transitory. In outward appearance he was as a man; he was more, for he was God. He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death; translate, as R.V., obedient. The participle implies that the supreme act of self-humiliation consisted in the Lord's voluntary submission to death. the obedience of his perfect life extended even unto death. "He taketh away [literally, 'beareth,' αἴρει] the sin of the world;" "The wages of sin is death;" therefore he suffered death for the sin which, himself sinless, he vouchsafed to bear. Here we may remark in passing that this connection of death with sin must have made death all the more awful to our sinless Lord. Even the death of the cross. No ordinary death, but of all forms of death the most torturing, the most full of shame - a death reserved by the Romans for slaves, a death accursed in the eyes of the Jews (Deuteronomy 21:23).
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
Verse 9. - Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him. The exaltation is the reward of the humiliation: "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Better, as R.V., highly exalted. The aorist (ὑπερύψωσεν) refers to the historical facts of the Resurrection and Ascension. And given him a Name which is above every name; read and translate, as R.V., and gave unto him the Name. The two aorist verbs, "highly exalted" and "freely gave" (ἐχαρίσατο), refer to the time of our Lord's resurrection and ascension. He voluntarily assumed a subordinate position; God the Father exalted him. We must read, with the best manuscripts, the Name. This seems to mean, not the name Jesus, which was given him at his circumcision, in accordance with the angel's message; but the name Lord or Jehovah (comp. Ver. 11), which was indeed his before his incarnation, but was given (comp. Matthew 28:18, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth") to Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son, God and Man in one Person. Or more probably, perhaps, the word "Name" is used here, as so often in the Hebrew Scriptures, for the majesty, glory, dignity, of the Godhead. Compare the oft-repeated words of the psahnist, "Praise the Name of the Lord." So Gesenius, in his Hebrew lexicon on the word שֵׁם he explains the Name of the Lord as (b) Jehovah as being called on and praised by men; and (c) the Deity as being present with mortals (comp. Ephesians 1:21; Hebrews 1:4).
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
Verse 10. - That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow; translate, in the name, not at (comp. Isaiah 45:23, quoted in Romans 14:10, 11). The words may mean, either that all prayer must be offered to God in the name of Jesus, through his mediation; or that all creation must offer prayer to him. Both alternatives are true, and perhaps both are covered by the words; but the second seems to be principally intended (comp. Psalm 63:4, "I will lift up my hands in thy Name." Comp. also (in the Greek) Psalm 43:9; 104:3; 1 Kings 8:44; also the common Septuagint phrase, Ἐπικαλεῖσθαι ἐν ὀνόματι Κυρίου). Observe, the words are, not "the name Jesus," but "the name of Jesus;" the name, that is, which God freely gave to him (Ver. 9), It is the name which is above every name, that is, the majesty, the glory of Jesus, which is to be the object of Christian worship. The end of the whole passage being the exaltation of Jesus, it seems more natural to understand this verse of worship paid to Jesus than of worship offered through him to God the Father. Observe also that the words (Isaiah 45:23) on which this passage is formed are the words of Jehovah: "Unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." They could not be used without impiety of any but God. Of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. Perhaps the angels, the living, and the dead; or, more probably (comp. Revelation 5:13 and Ephesians 1:21, 22), all creation, animate and inanimate, is represented as uniting in the universal adoration.
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Verse 11. - And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Every tongue; all creatures endowed with the gift of speech. The word rendered "confess" is commonly associated with the idea of thanksgiving, as in Matthew 11:25, and generally in the Septuagint. Every tongue shall confess with thankful adoration that he who took upon him the form of a slave, is Lord of all. To the glory of God the Father (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:28, "That God may be all in all"). The glory of God the Father, from whom, as the original Source, the whole scheme of salvation proceeds, is the supreme and ultimate object of the Savior's incarnation.
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Verse 12. - Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence. St. Paul passes to exhortation grounded on the Lord's perfect example. "Ye obeyed" (ὑπηκούσατε) answers to the γενόμενος ὑπήκοος of Ver. 8, and τὴν ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν corresponds with the Savior's exaltation described in vers. 9-11. He encourages them by acknowledging their past obedience; he urges them to work, not for the sake of approving themselves to their earthly teacher, but to think of their unseen Lord, and to realize his presence all the more in St. Paul's absence. Work out your own salvation. Complete it; God has begun the work; carry it out unto the end. Comp. the same word in Ephesians 6:13, "having done all." Christ's work of atonement is finished: work from the cross: carry out the great work of sanctification by the help of the Holy Spirit. Your own: it is each man's own work; no human friend, no pastor, not even an apostle, can work it for him. With fear and trembling (comp. 2 Corinthians 7:15 and Ephesians 6:5). "Servi esse debetis exemplo Christi" (Bengel). Have an eager, trembling anxiety to obey God in all things, considering the tremendous sacrifice of Christ, the unspeakable depth and tenderness of his love, the immense importance of a present salvation from sin, the momentous preciousness of a future salvation from death.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Verse 13. - For it is God which worketh in you. "Prmsens vobis," says Bengel, "etiam absente me." Worketh (ἐνεργῶν); not the same word as "work out" (κατεργάζεσθε) in Ver. 12; acts powerfully, with energy. In you; not lnerely among you, but in the heart of each individual believer. Both to will and to do; translate, with R.V., to work; the same word as before, ἐνεργεῖν. "Nos ergo volumus, sed Deus in nobis operatur et velle: nos ergo operamur, sed Deus in nobis operatur ct operari" (Augustine, quoted by Meyer). The grace of God is alleged as a motive for earnest Christian work. The doctrines of grace and free-will are not contradictory: they may seem so to our limited understanding; but in truth they complete and snpplement one another. St. Paul does not attempt to solve the problem in theory; he bids us solve it in the life of faith (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:24. he "So run that ye may obtain;" and Romans 9:16, "It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy"). Of his good pleasure (εὐδοκίας). As the glory of God is the ultimate end (Ver. 11), so the good will of God is the first cause of our salwttiou: "God will have all men to be saved" (1 Timothy 2:4.).
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
Verse 14. - Do all things without murmurings and disputings. Obedience must be willing and cheerful. The word rendered "murmurings" (γογγυσμός) is that constantly used in the Septuagint of the murmurings of the Israelites during their wanderings. Διαλογισμοί may mean, as here rendered, "dis-putings," or more probably, in accordance with the New Testament use of the word, questionings, doubtings. Submission to God's will must be inward as well as outward.
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Verse 15. - That ye may be blameless and harmless; read, with the best manuscripts, that ye may become; an exhortation to continued progress. "Harmless;" rather, pure, simple; literally, unmixed. The sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation; rather, children, without the article. "The slave may murmur," says Chrysostom, "but what son will murmur, who, while working for his father, works also for himself?" Substitute "blameless" for "without rebuke," and "generation" for "nation." There is a close resemblance bore, especially in the Greek, and an evident reference to Deuteronomy 32:5. The Philippians are exhorted to exhibit in their lives a contrast to the behaviour of the rebellious Israelites. Among whom ye shine as lights in the world; not "shine," but, as R.V., are seen or appear. Lights; literally, luminaries. The word is used in Genesis 1:14, 16 of the sun and moon. Comp. Ecclus. 43:7 and Wisd. 13:2, "where φεστῆρες ὀυρανοῦ is exactly equivalent to φωστῆρες ἐν κοσμῷ here, the κοσμός of this place being the material world, the firmament; not the ethical world, which has been already expressed by the crooked and perverse nation" (Trench, 'Synonyms of the New Testament').
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
Verse 16. - Holding forth the word of life. Holding out to others. Meyer translates "possessing," and others, as Bengel, "holding fast. This clause should be taken with the first clause of Ver. 15, "That ye may be blameless," etc., he the words, "among whom," etc.. he being parenthetical. That I may rejoice in the day of Christ; literally, for matter of boasting to me against the day of Christ. He boasts or glories in their salvation. "The day of Christ," says Bishop Lightfoot, "is a phrase peculiar to this Epistle, more commonly it is ' the day of the Lord.'" That I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain; translate, did not. The verbs me aorist. He looks back upon his finished course (comp. Galatians 2:2).
Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
Verse 17. - Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith. He again compares the advantages of life and death, as in Philippians 1:20-25. In the last verse he was speaking of the possibility of looking back from the day of Christ upon a life of prolonged labor. Here he supposes the other alternative. The form of the sentence, the particles used (λειτουργία), and the indicative verb, all imply that the apostle looked forward to a martyr's death as the probable end of his life of warfare: Yea. he if I am even offered, as seems likely, and as I expect. Offered; the word means "poured out" as a libation or drink offering. St. Paul regards his blood shed in martyrdom as a libation poured forth in willing sacrifice. See 2 Timothy 4:6, Ἐγὼ γὰρ ἤδη σπένδομαι, "I am already being poured forth: the libation is commencing, the time of my departure is at hand." Compare also the similar words of Ignatius, 'Rom.' 2, and the words of the dying Seneca (Tacitus, 'Annals,' 15:64). Some think that the apostle, writing, as he does, to converted heathen, draws his metaphor from heathen sacrifices: in those sacrifices the libation was a much more important element than the drink offering in the Mosaic rites; and it was poured upon the sacrifice, whereas the drink offering seems to have been poured around the altar, not upon it. On the other hand, the preposition ἐπὶ is constantly used of the Jewish drink offering, and does not necessarily mean upon, but only "in addition to," or "at;" the drink offering being an accompaniment to the sacrifice. Service (λειτουργία). This important word denotes in classical Greek

(1) certain costly public offices at Athens, discharged by the richer citizens in rotation;

(2) any service or function In the Greek Scriptures it is used of priestly ministrations (Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21; comp. also Romans 15:16). In ecclesiastical Greek it stands for the order of the Holy Communion, the ancient liturgies; it is sometimes used loosely for any set form of public prayer. The analogy of Romans 12:1, Where St. Paul exhorts Christians to present their bodies a living sacrifice, suggests that here the Philippians are regarded as priests (comp. 1 Peter 3:5), offering the sacrifice of their faith, their hearts, themselves, in the ministrations of the spiritual priesthood; St. Paul's blood being represented as the accompanying drink offering. Others, comparing Romans 15:16, where also sacrificial words are used, regard St. Paul himself as the ministering priest, and understand the metaphor of a priest slain at the altar, his blood being shed while he is offering the sacrifice of their faith. I joy, and rejoice with you all. Meyer, Bengel, and others prefer "congratulate" as the rendering of συγχαίρω "I rejoice with you."
For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
Verse 18. - For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me; or, as R.V., in the manner. Their joy is to be like his, to mingle with his joy. The second clause may be rendered, as in Ver. 17, "and congratulate me."
But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
Verse 19. - But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you; read and translate, with R.V., I hope in the Lord Jesus. He had urged them, in Ver. 12, not to depend too much on human teachers; but "much more in nay absence work out your own salvation;" still he will give them what help he can - he will send Timotheus. In the Lord Jesus (comp. Philippians 1:8, 14; 3:24). Bishop Lightfoot has a beautiful note here: "The Christian is a part of Christ, a member of his body. His every thought and word and deed proceed from Christ, as the center of volition. Thus he loves in the Lord, he hopes in the Lord, he boasts in the Lord, he labors in the Lord. He has one guiding principle in acting and forbearing to act, 'only in the Lord' (1 Corinthians 7:39)."That I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. Timothy is both to assist the Philippians by his presence and counsel, and to comfort St. Paul by bringing back tidings of their Christian life.
For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
Verse 20. - For I have no man like-minded; literally, of equal soul (comp. Deuteronomy 13:6, "Thy friend, which is as thine own soul"). "Timotheus,' says Bengel, "is a second Paul: where he is, there you should think that I myself am present." Others, not so well, explain the words, "I have no one like Timothy." The expression must, of course, be limited to those present at the moment, and available for the mission: it cannot in-elude St. Luke. Who will naturally care for your state (ὅστις); such as will care. Naturally (γνησίως: comp. 1 Timothy 1:2, where St. Paul calls Timothy "mine own soul in the faith," γνήσιον τέκνον); with a true, genuine affection. Timothy's love for St. Paul as his spiritual father will inspire him with genuine love for those who were so dear to St. Paul. Care is a strong word, μεριμνήσει, will be anxious (comp. Matthew 6:31).
For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.
Verse 21. - For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. All of them, he says (οἱ πάντες); Timothy is the one exception. He calls those about him brethren in Philippians 4:21; but, it seems, they were like St. Paul, not willing to spend and to be spent for the salvation of souls. It was a great sacrifice in one who so yearned for Christian sympathy to submit to the absence of the one true loving friend. St. Paul's spiritual isolation increases our wonder and admiration for the strain of holy joy which runs through this Epistle.
But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
Verse 22. - But ye know the proof of him. Ye recognize from your former experience (Acts 16.) his approved character. That, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel; translate, with R.V., that, as a child serveth a father, so he served with me in furtherance of the gospel. Served ἐδούλευσεν); as a slave. He was both a son and servant to St. Paul, and also a fellow-worker with St. Paul, both being slaves of God.
Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
Verse 23. - Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. Presently; rather, forthwith, as R.V. Dr. Farrar translates, "As soon as I get a glimpse." The oldest manuscripts here read ἀφίδω (remarkable for the aspirate) instead of ἀπίδω.
But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
Verse 24. - But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly. Notice the variations of tone respecting his prospects of release. "I know" (Philippians 1:25), "I hope" (Philemon 1:22, in the Greek), "I trust" here. The apostle was subject, like all of us, to changing currents of thought, to the ebb and flow of spirits; but his trust was always in the Lord. "Behold," says Chrysostom, "how he makes all things depend upon God." His hope, in all probability, was fulfilled (see Titus 2:12).
Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
Verse 25. - Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus; translate, but I count it necessary. Ἡγησάμην here and in Ver. 28 are epistolary aorists; they point, that is, to the time of reading the letter, not to that of writing it; and are therefore to be rendered by the English present. Epaphroditus is mentioned only in this Epistle. Epaphras is the contracted form, but the name is a common one, and there is no evidence of his identity with the Epaphras of Colossians and Philemon. He seems to have been the bearer of this Epistle. St. Paul felt that to come himself, or even to send Timothy, might possibly not be in his power; he thought it necessary, a matter of duty, to send Epaphroditus at once. My brother, and companion in labor, and fellow-soldier. Mark how the epithets rise one above another; they imply fellowship in religion, in work, in endurance. But your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. "Your" refers to both clauses; "your messenger, and (your) minister to my need." Epaphroditus had brought to St. Paul the contributions of the Philippians (Philippians 4:18). Some think that the word rendered "messenger" (ἀπόστολος, literally "apostle") means that Epaphroditus was the apostle, that is, the bishop of the Philippian Church. It may be so (comp. Philippians 4:3, and note); but there is no proof of the establishment of any diocesan bishops, except St. James at Jerusalem, at so early a period. The word ἀπόστολος. both here and in 2 Corinthians 8:23 (ἀπόσψολος ἐκκλησιῶν), is probably used in its first meaning in the sense of messenger, or delegate. The Greek word for minister, λειτουργός, seems to imply, like λειτουργία in Ver. 30, that St. Paul regarded the alms of the Philippians as an offering to God, ministered by Epaphroditus. (But see Romans 13:6, also 2 Kings 4:43; 2 Kings 6:15, etc. in the Greek.)
For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
Verse 26. - For he longed after you all. The verb is strengthened by the preposition: "was eagerly longing." Perhaps it should be rendered. he "is longing;" like "I count it necessary," in Ver. 25. And was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. "Full of heaviness" (ἀδημονῶν) is the word used of our blessed Lord in his agony (Matthew 26:37). Some derive it from ἄδημος, he away from home; others, more probably, from ἄδην, in the sense of loathing, weariness, satiety. The word implies heart-sickness, restless; unsatisfied weariness, produced by some overwhelming distress.
For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
Verse 27. - For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. St. Paul recognizes the thankfulness of Epaphroditus for the recovery of his health: he shares that thankfulness himself. Mark his human sympathies; he had a "desire to depart," but he rejoices in the recovery of his friend. St. Paul does not seem to have healed Epaphroditus. The power of working miracles, like that of foreseeing the future (comp. Philippians 1:25, and note), was not, it seems, continuous; both were exercised only in accordance with the revealed will of God and on occasions of especial moment.
I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
Verse 28. - I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful; rather, I send him (epistolary aorist, as Ver. 25), I send him with the letter. Perhaps "again" is better taken with the following clause; "that when ye see him, ye may again rejoice." Note St. Paul's ready sympathy with the Philippians: their restored joy will involve a diminution of his sorrow. Mark also the implied admission that sorrows must still remain, though spiritual joy brightens and relieves them. "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10).
Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
Verse 29. - Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: In the Lord (see note on Ver. 19; comp. Romans 16:2). With joy on every account. Notice the constant repetition of the word "joy," characteristic of this Epistle.
Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
Verse 30. - Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death. The readings vary between "Christ" and "the Lord." One ancient manuscript reads simply, "for the work's sake." The work in this case consisted in ministering to the wants of St. Paul. Translate the following words, with R.V., he came nigh unto death. Not regarding his life; rather, as R.V., hazarding his life, which translation represents the best-supported reading, παραβολευσάμενος: the verb literally means "to lay down a stake, to gamble." Hence the word Parabolani, the name given to certain brotherhoods in the ancient Church who undertook the hazardous work of tending the sick and burying the dead in times of pestilence. The A.V. represents the reading παραβουλευσάμενος consulting amiss. To supply your lack of service toward me; rather, as R.V., that which was lacking in your service. The Philippians are not blamed. Epaphroditus did that which their absence prevented them from doing. His illness was caused by over-exertion in attending to the apostle's wants, or, it may be, by the hardships of the journey. Υμῶν must be taken closely with ὑστέρημα, the lack of your presence. St. Paul, with exquisite delicacy, represents the absence of the Philippians as something lacking to his complete satisfaction, something which he missed, and which Epaphroditus supplied.

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