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1: Servants - St. Paul, writing familiarly to the
Philippians, does not style himself an apostle. And under the
common title of servants, he tenderly and modestly joins with
himself his son Timotheus, who had come to Philippi not long
after St. Paul had received him, (Ac 16:3,12).
To all the saints - The apostolic epistles were sent more directly
to the churches, than to the pastors of them. With the bishops
and deacons - The former properly took care of the internal state,
the latter, of the externals, of the church, (1Ti 3:2-8);
although these were not wholly confined to the one, neither
those to the other. The word bishops here includes all the
presbyters at Philippi, as well as the ruling presbyters:
the names bishop and presbyter, or elder, being promiscuously
used in the first ages.
4: With joy - After the epistle to the Ephesians, wherein
love reigns, follows this, wherein there is perpetual mention
of joy. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy." And joy
peculiarly enlivens prayer. The sum of the whole epistle is,
I rejoice. Rejoice ye.
5: The sense is, I thank God for your fellowship with us
in all the blessings of the gospel, which I have done from the
first day of your receiving it until now.
6: Being persuaded - The grounds of which persuasion are
set down in the following verse. That he who hath begun a good
work in you, will perfect it until the day of Christ - That he
who having justified, hath begun to sanctify you, will carry
on this work, till it issue in glory.
7: As it is right for me to think this of you all - Why?
He does not say, "Because of an eternal decree;" or, "Because
a saint must persevere;" but, because I have you in my heart,
who were all partakers of my grace - That is, because ye were
all (for which I have you in my heart, I bear you the most
grateful and tender affection) partakers of my grace - That is,
sharers in the afflictions which God vouchsafed me as a grace
or favour, (Php 1:29,30);
both in my bonds, and when I was called forth to answer for
myself, and to confirm the gospel. It is not improbable that,
after they had endured that great trial of affliction, God had
sealed them unto full victory, of which the apostle had a
8: I long for you with the bowels of Jesus Christ - In
Paul, not Paul lives, but Jesus Christ. Therefore he longs
for them with the bowels, the tenderness, not of Paul, but
of Jesus Christ.
9: And this I pray, that your love - Which they had
already shown. May abound yet more and more - The fire which
burned in the apostle never says, It is enough. In knowledge
and in all spiritual sense - Which is the ground of all
spiritual knowledge. We must be inwardly sensible of divine
peace, joy, love; otherwise, we cannot know what they are.
10: That ye may try - By that spiritual sense. The things
that are excellent - Not only good, but the very best; the
superior excellence of which is hardly discerned, but by the
adult Christian. That ye may be inwardly sincere - Having a
single eye to the very best things, and a pure heart. And
outwardly without offence - Holy, unblamable in all things.
11: Being filled with the fruits of righteousness,
which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of
God - Here are three properties of that sincerity which is
acceptable to God:
- It must bear fruits, the fruits of righteousness, all
inward and outward holiness, all good tempers, words, and
works; and that so abundantly, that we may be filled with them.
- The branch and the fruits must derive both their virtue
and their very being from the all - supporting, all - supplying
root, Jesus Christ.
- As all these flow from the grace of Christ, so they must
issue in the glory and praise of God.
12: The things concerning me - My sufferings. Have
fallen out rather to the furtherance, than, as you feared,
the hinderance, of the gospel.
13: My bonds in Christ - Endured for his sake. Have
been made manifest - Much taken notice of. In the whole
palace - Of the Roman emperor.
14: And many - Who were before afraid. Trusting in the
Lord through my bonds - When they observed my constancy, and
safety not withstanding, are more bold.
15-16: Some indeed preach Christ out of contention
- Envying St. Paul's success, and striving to hurt him thereby.
Not sincerely - From a real desire to glorify God. But supposing
- Though they were disappointed. To add more affliction to my
bonds - By enraging the Romans against me.
17: But the others out of love - To Christ and me. Knowing
- Not barely, supposing. That I am set - Literally, I lie; yet
still going forward in his work. He remained at Rome as an
ambassador in a place where he is employed on an important
18: In pretence - Under colour of propagating the gospel.
In truth - With a real design so to do.
19: This shall turn to my salvation - Shall procure me an
higher degree of glory. Through your prayer - Obtaining for me
a larger supply of the Spirit.
20: As always - Since my call to the apostleship. In my
body - however it may he disposed of. How that might be, he
did not yet know. For the apostles did not know all things;
particularly in things pertaining to themselves, they had
room to exercise faith and patience.
21: To me to live is Christ - To know, to love, to follow
Christ, is my life, my glory, my joy.
22: Here he begins to treat of the former clause of the
preceding verse. Of the latter he treats, (Php 2:17).
But if I am to live is the flesh, this is the fruit of my
labour - This is the fruit of my living longer, that I can labour
more. Glorious labour! desirable fruit! in this view, long
life is indeed a blessing. And what I should choose I know not
- That is, if it were left to my choice.
23: To depart - Out of bonds, flesh, the world. And to be
with Christ - In a nearer and fuller union. It is better to
depart; it is far better to be with Christ.
25: I know - By a prophetic notice given him while he was
writing this. That I shall continue some time longer with you
- And doubtless he did see them after this confinement.
27: Only - Be careful for this, and nothing else. Stand
fast in one spirit - With the most perfect unanimity. Striving
together - With united strength and endeavours. For the faith of
the gospel - For all the blessings revealed and promised therein.
28: Which - Namely, their being adversaries to the word of
God, and to you the messengers of God. Is an evident token
- That they are in the high road to perdition; and you, in the
way of salvation.
29: For to you it is given - As a special token of God's
love, and of your being in the way of salvation.
30: Having the same kind of conflict with your
adversaries, which ye saw in me - When I was with you,(Ac 16:12,19), &c.