PRAYERS FOR THE
STATE OF THE
ROME, AND THE
1. Timotheus--mentioned as being well known to the Philippians
(Ac 16:3, 10-12),
and now present with Paul. Not that Timothy had any share in writing
the Epistle; for Paul presently uses the first person singular, "I,"
The mention of his name implies merely that Timothy joined in
affectionate remembrances to them.
servants of Jesus Christ--The oldest manuscripts read the order,
"Christ Jesus." Paul does not call himself "an apostle," as in the
inscriptions of other Epistles; for the Philippians needed not to be
reminded of his apostolic authority. He writes rather in a tone of
Php 1:4, 7, 8, 25;
Php 2:17, 26.
It implies comprehensive affection which desired not to forget any one
among them "all."
bishops--synonymous with "presbyters" in the apostolical churches;
as appears from the same persons being called "elders of the Church" at
Greek, "bishops." And
This is the earliest letter of Paul where bishops and deacons are
mentioned, and the only one where they are separately addressed in the
salutation. This accords with the probable course of events, deduced
alike from the letters and history. While the apostles were constantly
visiting the churches in person or by messengers, regular pastors would
be less needed; but when some were removed by various causes, provision
for the permanent order of the churches would be needed. Hence the
three pastoral letters, subsequent to this Epistle, give instruction as
to the due appointment of bishops and deacons. It agrees with this new
want of the Church, when other apostles were dead or far away, and Paul
long in prison, that bishops and deacons should be prominent for the
first time in the opening salutation. The Spirit thus intimated that
the churches were to look up to their own pastors, now that the
miraculous gifts were passing into God's ordinary providence, and the
presence of the inspired apostles, the dispensers of those gifts, was
to be withdrawn [PALEY, "Horæ
Paulinæ]. "Presbyter," implied the rank; "bishop,"
the duties of the office [NEANDER].
Naturally, when the apostles who had the chief supervision were no
more, one among the presbyters presided and received the name "bishop,"
in the more restricted and modern sense; just as in the Jewish
synagogue one of the elders presided as "ruler of the synagogue."
Observe, the apostle addresses the Church (that is, the congregation)
more directly than its presiding ministers
Re 1:4, 11).
The bishops managed more the internal, the deacons the external,
affairs of the Church. The plural number shows there was more than one
bishop or presbyter, and more than one deacon in the Church at
2. Grace . . . peace--The very form of this salutation implies the
union of Jew, Greek, and Roman. The Greek salutation was "joy"
(chairein), akin to the Greek for "grace" (charis). The
Roman was "health," the intermediate term between grace and
peace. The Hebrew was "peace," including both temporal and
spiritual prosperity. Grace must come first if we are to have true
from . . . from--Omit the second "from": as in the Greek, "God
our Father" and "the Lord Jesus Christ," are most closely connected.
3. Translate, "In all my remembrance of you."
4. making request--Translate, "making my request."
for you all--The frequent repetition in this Epistle of "all" with
"you," marks that Paul desires to declare his love for all alike,
and will not recognize any divisions among them.
with joy--the characteristic feature in this Epistle, as love is
in that to the Ephesians (compare
Php 2:2, 19, 28; 3:1; 4:1, 4).
Love and joy are the two first-fruits of the Spirit.
Joy gives especial animation to prayers. It marked his high
opinion of them, that there was almost everything in them to give him
joy, and almost nothing to give him pain.
5. Ground of his "thanking God"
"For your (continued) fellowship (that is, real spiritual
participation) in (literally, 'in regard to') the Gospel from the first
day (of your becoming partakers in it) until now." Believers
have the fellowship of the Son of God
and of the Father
in the Gospel, by becoming partakers of "the fellowship of the Holy
and exercise that fellowship by acts of communion, not only the
communion of the Lord's Supper, but holy liberality to brethren and
(Php 4:10, 15,
"communicated . . . concerning giving";
"To communicate forget not").
6. confident--This confidence nerves prayers and thanksgivings
(Php 1:3, 4).
this very thing--the very thing which he prays for
is the matter of his believing confidence
1Jo 5:14, 15).
Hence the result is sure.
he which hath begun--God
a good work--Any work that God begins, He will surely finish
Not even men begin a work at random. Much more the fact of His
beginning the work is a pledge of its completion
So as to the particular work here meant, the perfecting of their
fellowship in the Gospel
Ps 37:24; 89:33; 138:8;
Joh 10:28, 29;
Ro 8:29, 35-39; 11:1, 2
As God cast not off Israel for ever, though chastening them for a time,
so He will not cast off the spiritual Israel
perform it until--"perfect it up to" [ALFORD,
ELLICOTT, and others].
the day of . . . Christ--
The Lord's coming, designed by God in every age of the Church to be
regarded as near, is to be the goal set before believers' minds rather
than their own death.
7. meet--Greek, "just."
to think this--to have the prayerful confidence I expressed
of you--literally, "in behalf of you." Paul's confident prayer
in their behalf was that God would perfect His own good work of
grace in them.
because, &c.--Punctuate and translate, "Because I have you in my
otherwise the Greek and the words immediately following in the
verse, favor the Margin, 'Ye have me in
your heart . . . being partakers of my grace') (both,
in my bonds, and in my defense and confirmation of the Gospel),
you (I say) all being fellow partakers of my grace." This last clause
thus assigns the reason why he has them in his heart (that is,
cherished in his love,
2Co 3:2; 7:3),
even in his bonds, and in his defense and confirmation of the Gospel
(such as he was constantly making in private,
his self-defense and confirmation of the Gospel being necessarily
conjoined, as the Greek implies; compare
namely, "inasmuch as ye are fellow partakers of my grace": inasmuch as
ye share with me in "the fellowship of the Gospel"
and have manifested this, both by suffering as I do for the Gospel's
and by imparting to me of your substance
It is natural and right for me thus confidently to pray in your behalf.
(ELLICOTT, and others translate, "To be thus
minded for you all"), because of my having you in my warmest
remembrances even in my bonds, since you are sharers with me in the
Gospel grace. Bonds do not bind love.
8. Confirmation of
record--that is, witness.
in the bowels of Jesus Christ--"Christ Jesus" is the order in
the oldest manuscripts. My yearning love (so the Greek
implies) to you is not merely from natural affection, but from
devotedness to Christ Jesus. "Not Paul, but Jesus Christ lives in Paul;
wherefore Paul is not moved in the bowels (that is, the tender love,
of Paul, but of Jesus Christ" [BENGEL]. All real
spiritual love is but a portion of Christ's love which yearns in all
who are united to Him [ALFORD].
9. The subject of his prayer for them
your love--to Christ, producing love not only to Paul, Christ's
minister, as it did, but also to one another, which it did not
altogether as much as it ought
(Php 2:2; 4:2).
knowledge--of doctrinal and practical truth.
judgment--rather, "perception"; "perceptive sense." Spiritual
perceptiveness: spiritual sight, spiritual hearing, spiritual feeling,
spiritual taste. Christianity is a vigorous plant, not the hotbed growth
of enthusiasm. "Knowledge" and "perception" guard love from being
10. Literally, "With a view to your proving
(and so approving and embracing) the things that excel"
not merely things not bad, but the things best among those that are
good; the things of more advanced excellence. Ask as to things, not
merely, Is there no harm, but is there any good, and which is the best?
sincere--from a Greek root.
Examined in the sunlight and found pure.
without offence--not stumbling; running the Christian race without
falling through any stumbling-block, that is, temptation, in your way.
till--rather, "unto," "against"; so that when the day of Christ comes,
ye may be found pure and without offense.
11. The oldest manuscripts read the singular, "fruit." So
regarding the works of righteousness, however manifold, as one
harmonious whole, "the fruit of the Spirit"
"the fruit of righteousness"
"fruit unto holiness."
which are--"which is by (Greek, 'through') Jesus Christ."
Through His sending to us the Spirit from the Father. "We are wild and
useless olive trees till we are grafted into Christ, who, by His living
root, makes us fruit-bearing branches" [CALVIN].
12. understand--Greek, "know." The Philippians probably had feared
that his imprisonment would hinder the spread of the Gospel; he
therefore removes this fear.
the things which happened unto me--Greek, "the things concerning
rather--so far is my imprisonment from hindering the Gospel.
Faith takes in a favorable light even what seems adverse [BENGEL]
(Php 1:19, 28;
13. my bonds in Christ--rather as Greek, "So that my bonds
have become manifest in Christ," that is, known, as endured in
palace--literally, "Prætorium," that is, the barrack of
the Prætorian guards attached to the palace of Nero, on the
Palatine hill at Rome; not the general Prætorian camp outside of
the city; for this was not connected with "Cæsar's household,"
shows the Prætorium here meant was. The emperor was
"Prætor," or Commander-in-Chief; naturally then the barrack of
his bodyguard was called the Prætorium. Paul seems now not to
have been at large in his own hired house, though chained to