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1. Paul. The official designation is omitted, as in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Philemon. It is not easy to explain the use or omission of the title apostle in all cases. Here, and in Philemon and 1 Thessalonians, its omission may be accounted for by the general, unofficial, personal, affectionate character of the letter. In 2 Corinthians and Galatians the reason for its use is apparent from the fact that Paul's official authority had been assailed. But it is also omitted in 2 Thessalonians, which has an admonitory and rebuking character. Its use in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, private letters, is explained by the fact that Paul is addressing them not only as friends, but as pastors. In Romans, while there is no evidence of any challenge of his apostolic claims, there is an authoritative exposition of Christian doctrine which appears to warrant the title.
Timothy. Associated with Paul as in the introductions to 2 Corinthians and the two Thessalonian epistles. Timothy assisted Paul in founding the Philippian church Acts xvi. 1, 13; xvii. 14. Two visits of Timothy to Philippi are recorded, Acts xix. 22; xx. 3, 4. He is evidently preparing for a third visit, see ch. ii. 19. His only part in this letter is his name in the salutation, and in ch. ii. 19.
To all the saints (pasin toiv ajgioiv). In Paul's personal addresses in this epistle the word all occurs nine times. It is sufficiently accounted for by the expansiveness of grateful christian feeling which marks the entire letter, and it is doubtful whether it has any definite or conscious connection with the social rivalries hinted at in the epistle, and which call forth exhortations to unity, as if Paul were disclaiming all partisan feeling by the use of the term. For saints, see on Col. i. 2; Rom. i. 7. The word is transferred from the Old Testament. The Israelites were called agioi holy, separated and consecrated, Exod. xix. 6; Deut. vii. 6; xiv. 2, 21; Dan. vii. 18, 22, etc. The christian Church has inherited the title and the privileges of the Jewish nation. Hence it is eqnov agion a holy nation, 1 Pet. ii. 9. The term implies, but does not assert, actual, personal sanctity. It is a social, not a personal epithet. See on Acts xxvi. 10. Philippi. In Macedonia. Travellers by sea landed at Neapolis, and then travelled ten miles to Philippi along the Via Egnatia, which traversed Macedonia from east to west. The site was originally occupied by a town called Datus or Datum, and was known as Krenides from its numerous springs. It was called Philippi in honor of Philip of Macedon, who enlarged and fortified it. Its situation was important, commanding the great high road between Europe and Asia. This fact led to its fortification by Philip, and made it, later, the scene of the decisive battle which resulted in the defeat of Brutus and Cassius. Its soil was productive and rich in mineral treasures, which had yielded a large revenue, but which, in Paul's time, had apparently become exhausted.
Augustus planted at Philippi a colonia. See on Acts xvi. 12. 172 A variety of national types assembled there - Greek, Roman, and Asiatic - representing different phases of philosophy, religion, and superstition. It was therefore an appropriate starting-point for the Gospel in Europe, a field in which it could demonstrate its power to deal with all differences of nation, faith, sex, and social standing.173 Bishops (episkopoiv). Lit., overseers. See on visitation, 1 Pet. ii. 12. The word was originally a secular title, designating commissioners appointed to regulate a newly-acquired territory or a colony. It was also applied to magistrates who regulated the sale of provisions under the Romans. In the Septuagint it signifies inspectors, superintendents, taskmasters, see 2 Kings xi. 19; 2 Chron. xxxiv. 12, 17; or captains, presidents, Neh. xi. 9, 14, 22. In the apostolic writings it is synonymous with presbyter or elder; and no official distinction of the episcopate as a distinct order of the ministry is recognized. Rev. has overseers in margin.
Deacons (diakonoiv). The word means servant, and is a general term covering both slaves and hired servants. It is thus distinct from doulov bond-servant. It represents a servant, not in his relation, but in his activity. In the epistles it is often used specifically for a minister of the Gospel, 1 Cor. iii. 5; 2 Cor. iii. 6; Eph. iii. 7. Here it refers to a distinct class of officers in the apostolic church. The origin of this office is recorded Acts vi. 1-6. It grew out of a complaint of the Hellenistic or Graeco-Jewish members of the Church, that their widows were neglected in the daily distribution of food and alms. The Palestinian Jews prided themselves on their pure nationality and looked upon the Greek Jews as their inferiors. Seven men were chosen to superintend this matter, and generally to care for the bodily wants of the poor. Their function was described by the phrase to serve tables, Acts vi. 2, and their appointment left the apostles free to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. The men selected for the office are supposed to have been Hellenists, from the fact that all their names are Greek, and one is especially described as a proselyte, Acts vi. 5; but this cannot be positively asserted, since it was not uncommon for Jews to assume Greek names. See on Rom. xvi. 5. The work of the deacons was, primarily, the relief of the sick and poor; but spiritual ministrations naturally developed in connection with their office. The latter are referred to by the term helps, 1 Corinthians xii. 28. Stephen and Philip especially appear in this capacity, Acts viii. 5-40; vi. 8-11. Such may also be the meaning of ministering, Romans xii. 7. Hence men of faith, piety, and sound judgment were recommended for the office by the apostles, Acts vi. 3; 1 Tim. iii. 8-13. Women were also chosen as deaconesses, and Phoebe, the bearer of the epistle to the Romans, is commonly supposed to have been one of these. See on Rom. xvi. 1.
Ignatius says of deacons: "They are not ministers of food and drink, but servants (ujphretai, see on Matt. v. 25) of the Church of God" ("Epistle to Tralles," 2.). "Let all pay respect to the deacons as to Jesus Christ" ("Tralles," 3.). "Respect the deacons as the voice of God enjoins you" ("Epistle to Smyrna," 8.). In "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" the local churches or individual congregations are ruled by bishops and deacons. "Elect therefore for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord; men meek and not lovers of money, and truthful and approved; for they too minister to you the ministry of the prophets and teachers. Therefore despise them not, for they are those that are the honored among you with the prophets and teachers" (xv. 1, 2).
Deaconesses are not mentioned.
3. Every remembrance (pash th mneia) Better, as Rev, all my remembrance.
Prayer (dehsei). Rev., better, supplication. See on Luke v. 33.
For you all. Connect with every prayer of mine.
Request (thn dehsin). Rev., better, my supplication. The article refers to every supplication.
With joy. Joy is the keynote of this epistle. Bengel says: "The sum of the epistle is, 'I rejoice, rejoice ye."' See vers. 18, 25; ch. ii. 2, 17, 18, 28, 29; iii. l; iv. 1, 4, 10.
5. For your fellowship (epi th koinwnia umwn). Connect with I thank God. For fellowship, see on 1 John i. 3. The word sometimes has the meaning of almsgiving, contributions, as Rom. xv. 26; Heb. xiii. 16. Though here it is used in the larger sense of sympathetic cooperation, yet it is no doubt colored by the other idea, in view of the Philippians' pecuniary contributions to Paul. See ch. iv. 10, 15, 16.
6. Being confident (pepoiqwv). With a slightly causative force: since I am confident.
Hath begun - will perform (enarxamenov - epitelesei). The two words occur together, 2 Cor. viii. 6; Gal. iii. 3. Both were used of religious ceremonials. So Euripides: "But come! Bring up the sacrificial meal-basket" (exarcou kana); that is, begin the offering by taking the barley-meal from the basket ("Iphigenia in Aulis," 435). Some find the sacrificial metaphor here, and compare ch. ii. 17, see note. Perform, better as Rev., perfect. Perform, in its older and literal sense of carrying through (per) or consummating would express the idea; but popular usage has identified it with do.
7. Even as (kaqwv). The reason for being confident (ver. 6).
Partakers of my grace (sugkoinwnouv mou thv caritov). Better, as Rev., partakers with me of grace. Lit., the grace, either the divine endowment which enabled them both to suffer bonds, and to defend and establish the Gospel, or the loving favor of God, which confers suffering and activity alike as a boon. The two may be combined. Compare ver. 29.
8. In the bowels of Jesus Christ (en splagcnoiv Cristou Ihsou). Rev., better, in the tender mercies. Describing his longing, not as his individual emotion, but as Christ's longing, as if the very heart of Christ dwelt in him. "In Paul not Paul lives, but Jesus Christ" (Bengel) With tender mercies compare reins, Apoc. ii. 23, note.
9. Judgment (aisqhsei). Only here in the New Testament. Rev., better, discernment: sensitive moral perception. Used of the senses, as Xenophon: "perception of things sweet or pungent" ("Memorabilia," i., 4, 5). Of hearing: "It is possible to go so far away as not to afford a hearing" ("Anabasis," iv., 6, 13). The senses are called aijsqhseiv. See Plato, "Theaetetus," 156. Plato uses it of visions of the gods ("Phaedo," 111). Compare aijsqhthria senses, Heb. v. 14. Discernment selects, classifies, and applies what is furnished by knowledge.
Things which are excellent (ta diaferonta). Unnecessary difficulty has been made in the explanation of this phrase. Love displays itself in knowledge and discernment. In proportion as it abounds it sharpens the moral perceptions for the discernment of what is best. The passage is on the line of 1 Cor. xii. 31, "Covet earnestly the best gifts," and the "more excellent way" to attain these gifts is love (ch. 13.). See on Romans ii. 18, where the same phrase occurs, but with a different meaning. Some explain things which are morally different.
Without offense (aproskopoi). See on Acts xxiv. 16. It may be explained, not stumbling, or not causing others to stumble, as 1 Cor. x. 32. Both senses may be included. If either is to be preferred it is the former, since the whole passage contemplates their inward state rather than their relations to men.
Till the day, etc. (eiv). Rev., unto. Better, against; with a view to.
12. Rather (mallon). For the furtherance of the Gospel rather than, as might have been expected, for its hindrance.
Furtherance (prokophn). Only here, ver. 25, and 1 Tim. iv. 15. The metaphor is uncertain, but is supposed to be that of pioneers cutting (koptw) a way before (pro) an army, and so furthering its march. The opposite is expressed by ejgkoptw to cut into; hence to throw obstacles in the way, hinder. Gal. v. 7. See on 1 Pet. iii. 7.
13. My bonds in Christ are manifest (touv desmouv mou fanerouv en Cristw genesqai). Bonds and Christ, in the Greek, are too far apart to be construed together. Better, as Rev., my bonds became manifest in Christ. His imprisonment became known as connected with Christ. It was understood to be for Christ's sake. His bonds were not hidden as though he were an ordinary prisoner. His very captivity proclaimed Christ.
In all the palace (en olw tw praitwriw). Rev., throughout the whole praetorian guard. So Lightfoot, Dwight, Farrar. This appears to be the correct rendering. The other explanations are, the imperial residence on the Palatine, so A.V.; the praetorian barracks attached to the palace, so Eadie, Ellicott, Lumby, and Alford; the praetortan camp on the east of the city, so Meyer. 174 The first explanation leaves the place of Paul's confinement uncertain. It may have been in the camp of the Praetorians, which was large enough to contain within its precincts lodgings for prisoners under military custody, so that Paul could dwell "in his own hired house," Acts xxviii. 30. This would be difficult to explain on the assumption that Paul was confined in the barracks or within the palace precincts.
The Praetorians, forming the imperial guard, were picked men, ten thousand in number, and all of Italian birth. The body was instituted by Augustus and was called by him praetoriae cohortes, praetorian cohorts, in imitation of the select troop which attended the person of the praetor or Roman general. Augustus originally stationed only three thousand of them, three cohorts, at Rome, and dispersed the remainder in the adjacent Italian towns. Under Tiberius they were all assembled at Rome in a fortified camp. They were distinguished by double pay and special privileges.
Their term of service was originally twelve years, afterward increased to sixteen. On completing his term, each soldier received a little over eight hundred dollars. They all seem to have had the same rank as centurions in the regular legions. They became the most powerful body in the state; the emperors were obliged to court their favor, and each emperor on his accession was expected to bestow on them a liberal donative. After the death of Pertinax (A.D. 193) they put up the empire at public sale, and knocked it down to Didius Julianus. They were disbanded the same year on the accession of Severus, and were banished; but were restored by that emperor on a new plan, and increased to four times their original number. They were finally suppressed by Constantine.
The apostle was under the charge of these troops, the soldiers relieving each other in mounting guard over the prisoner, who was attached to his guard's hand by a chain. In the allusion to his bonds, Eph. vi. 20, he uses the specific word for the coupling-chain. His contact with the different members of the corps in succession, explains the statement that his bonds had become manifest throughout the praetorian guard.
In all other places (toiv loipoiv pasin). Rev., correctly, to all the rest; that is, to all others besides the Praetorians.
14. Many (touv pleionav). Rev., correctly, the most. Lit., the more. Implying that there were a few who held back.
Brethren in the Lord. In the Lord should be rather connected with being confident. The expression brethren in the Lord does not occur in the New Testament; while to have confidence in one in the Lord is found Galatians v. 10; 2 Thess. iii. 4; compare ch. ii. 24. In the Lord is thus emphatic. It may be correlative with in Christ, ver. 13; but this is not certain. 175 In the Lord trusting my bonds, signifies that the bonds awaken confidence as being the practical testimony to the power of the Gospel for which Paul is imprisoned, and therefore an encouragement to their faith.
Are much more bold (perissoterwv tolman). Rev., more abundantly bold, thus holding more closely to the literal meaning of the adverb. For are bold, see on 2 Cor. x. 2. The boldness required to profess Christ within the precincts of the palace is illustrated by the graffito or wall-scribble discovered in 1857 among the ruins on the Palatine. It is a caricature of Christ on the cross, with an ass's head, while on the left appears a christian youth in an attitude of adoration. Underneath are scrawled the words Alexamenos worships God. 176 To speak (lalein). The verb denotes the fact rather than the substance of speaking. See on Matt. xxviii. 18. They have broken silence.
15. Even of envy. Strange as it may seem that envy should be associated with the preaching of Christ. They are jealous of Paul's influence.
Strife (erin). Factious partisanship.
Good will. Toward Paul.
16. The one preach Christ of contention. The order of vers. 16, 17, is reversed in the best texts. Of contentions (ex eriqeiav). See on strife, Jas. iii. 14. Rev., better, faction. Compare Chaucer:
"For mine entente is not but for to winne And nothing for correction of sinne" "Pardouere's Tale," 12337-8.
Sincerely (agnwv). Purely, with unmixed motives. The adjective aJgnov means pure, in the sense of chaste, free from admixture of evil, and is once applied to God, 1 John iii. 3. See on Acts xxvi. 10, foot-note. Not sincerely is explained by in pretense, ver. 18.
To add affliction (qliyin epiferein). Lit., to bring affliction to bear. But the correct reading is ejgeirein to raise up, as Rev.: to waken or stir up affliction. The phrase is striking in the light of the original meaning of qliyiv, namely, pressure. They would make his bonds press more heavily and gall him. See on Matt. xiii. 21.
17. I am set (keimai). Or appointed. See on Luke ii. 34. Compare 1 Thessalonians iii. 3. Some, instead of rendering the one (or some) preach Christ of contention - but the other of love, join oiJ men some, oiJ de others, in each instance with the succeeding word, making one phrase, thus: "they who are of love do so knowing that I am set, etc.: they who are of faction proclaim Christ not sincerely, etc. The phrase those who are of faction occurs Rom. ii. 8; and a similar phrase, him who is of faith, Rom. iii. 26. There seems no sufficient reason for altering A.V. and Rev. 18. What then? Such being the case, how does it affect me?
Notwithstanding (plhn). Read plhn oti except that. Rev., only that. What is my feeling in view of these things? Only that I rejoice that Christ is preached.
In pretense. With a spirit of envy and faction, possibly with a counterfeited zeal for truth.
19. This. This preaching of Christ in every way.
Shall turn (apobhsetai). Lit., come off, eventuate.
Salvation. Not his deliverance from captivity, but it will prove salutary to him in a spiritual sense and to the saving work of the Gospel. Salvation simply is used, without any more precise definition; and the broader sense, as related to his ministry, seems to be indicated by the words Christ shall be magnified, in ver. 20.
Of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Either the supply furnished by the Spirit, or the supply which is the Spirit. It is better to take it as including both. The exact phrase, Spirit of Jesus Christ, is found only here. Spirit of Christ occurs Rom. viii. 9; 1 Pet. i. 11. The Holy Spirit is meant; called the Spirit of Jesus Christ, because through the Spirit Christ communicates Himself to His people. "The Spirit is the living principle and the organ of the proper presence of Christ and of His life in them" (Meyer).
20. Earnest expectation (apokaradokian). Only here and Romans viii. 19, on which see note.
Shall be ashamed (aiscunqhsomai). Rev., better, giving the force of the passive, shall be put to shame.
Boldness. See on Philemon 8.
Shall be magnified in my body. Through my bodily sufferings Christ shall appear more glorious, and that even if I die.
Gain. As consummating the union with Christ. Compare Col. iii. 4; 2 Corinthians v. 1-8.
"Declare unto him if the light wherewith Blossoms your substance shall remain with you Eternally the same that it is now, And if it do remain, say in what manner, After ye are again made visible, It can be that it injure not your sight. As by a greater gladness urged and drawn They who are dancing in a ring sometimes Uplift their voices and their motions quicken; So, at that orison devout and prompt, The holy circles a new joy displayed In their revolving and their wondrous song. Who so lamenteth him that here we die That we may live above, has never there Seen the refreshment of the eternal rain." DANTE, "Paradiso," 14, 13-27.
22. If I live (ei to zhn). Rev., better, if to live: the living, as ver. 21. This is the fruit of my labor. According to the A.V. these words form the offset of the conditional clause, and conclude the sentence: if I live - this is the fruit. It is better to make the two clauses parallel, thus: if living after the flesh, (if) this is fruit of labor. The conditional suspended clause will then be closed by what I shall choose I do not declare. Fruit of labor, advantage accruing from apostolic work. Compare Rom. i. 13.
Yet what I shall choose I wot not (kai ti airhsomai ou gnwrizw). Kai rendered yet has the force of then. If living in the flesh be, etc., then what I shall choose, etc. Wot is obsolete for know. In classical Greek gnwrizw means: 1, to make known point out; 2, to become acquainted with or discover; 3, to have acquaintance with. In the Septuagint the predominant meaning seems to be to make known. See Prov. xxii. 19; Ezek. xliv. 23; Dan. ii. 6, 10; v. 7. The sense here is to declare or make known, as everywhere in the New Testament. Compare Luke ii. 15; John xvii. 26; Acts ii. 28; Col. iv. 7; 2 Pet. i. 16, etc. If I am assured that my continuing to live is most fruitful for the Church, then I say nothing as to my personal preference. I do not declare my choice. It is not for me to express a choice.
23. I am in a strait betwixt two (sunecomai ek twn duo). See on 2 Corinthians v. 14. The picture is that of a man pressed on both sides. Lit. I am held together, so that I cannot incline either way. Betwixt two, lit., from the two. The pressure comes from both sides. Note the article, the two, the two considerations just mentioned, departing or abiding in the flesh. Having a desire. Lit., the desire: my desire, as expressed in ver. 21, for death with its gain.
To depart (analusai). The verb means originally to unloose, undo again. So of Penelope's web: "During the night she undid it" (Homer, "Odyssey," ii., 105). Of loosing a ship from her moorings: of breaking up a camp. So 2 Macc. ix. 1. Antiochus, having entered Persepolis, and having attempted to rob the temple and to hold the city, was put to flight by the inhabitants, and broke up (analelukwv) and came away with dishonor. We have the same figure in popular usage of one who changes his residence: "He broke up at Chicago and removed to New York." Paul's metaphor here is the military one, to break camp. Compare 2 Corinthians v. 1, where the metaphor is the striking of a tent. Some prefer the nautical image, casting off from shore; but Paul's circumstances naturally suggested military figures; and, what is somewhat strange in the case of one so familiar with the sea, nautical metaphors are rare in his writings. There is one at 1 Tim. i. 19, of those "who concerning the faith have made shipwreck;" at Eph. iv. 14, "tossed as by waves, and borne about by every wind." Kubernhseiv governments, 1 Cor. xii. 28 (see note), is from kubernaw to steer.
25. Furtherance. See on ver. 12.
Of faith. Rev., in the faith. To be connected with both furtherance and joy. For promoting your faith and your joy in believing. For joy of faith, compare Rom. xv. 13.
26. Rejoicing (kauchma). The matter of rejoicing, wrought through your faith.
In Christ Jesus for me (en Cristw Ihsou en emoi). Construe in Christ Jesus with may abound, not with rejoicing. Christ is conceived as the element in which the matter of rejoicing grows and abounds. For me, better, as Rev, in me. The conjunction of the two phrases in Christ, in me, is somewhat confusing Paul's presence is the immediate cause of their christian joy; hence in me; but their rejoicing in Paul is in Christ - a joy evolved within the sphere of life in Christ, and peculiar to those only to whom to live is Christ.
Coming (parousiav). Rev., better, presence.
27. Only. This one thing I urge as the only thing needful Let your conversation be (politeuesqe). Only here in Paul's writings, and elsewhere only Acts xxiii. 1. The verb means to be a citizen. Lit., Be citizens worthily of the Gospel. Rev., Let your manner of life be. Margin, Behave as citizens. Compare Eph. iii. 19, and see on ch. iii. 20. The exhortation contemplates the Philippians as members of the christian commonwealth. The figure would be naturally suggested to Paul by his residence in Rome, and would appeal to the Philippians as a Roman colony, which was a reproduction of the parent commonwealth on a smaller scale.
Striving together for the faith (sunaqlountev th pistei). The verb occurs only here and ch. iv. 3. The figure is that of an athletic contest, and is in keeping with standfast. Not to be rendered striving in concert with the faith, thus personifying faith, and making the faith signify the gospel teaching. 177 For the faith as christian doctrine, see on Acts vi. 7. Faith is to be taken in its usual subjective sense of trust in Christ or in the Gospel. Together refers to the mutual striving of the Philippians; not to their striving in concert with Paul.
28. Terrified (pturomenoi). Only here in the New Testament. Properly of the terror of a startled horse. Thus Diodorus Siculus, speaking of the chariot-horses of Darius at the battle of Issus: "Frightened (pturomenoi) by reason of the multitude of the dead heaped round them, they shook off their reins" (xvii. 34). Plutarch says: "The multitude is not easy to handle so that it is safe for any one to take the reins; but it should be held sufficient, if, not being scared by sight or sound, like a shy and fickle animal, it accept mastery."
Which is (htiv estin). Seeing that it is.
To you of salvation (umin). Read uJmwn of you. Rev., of your salvation. And that of God. Rev., from God (apo). Lightfoot finds here an allusion, in accord with striving together, to the sign of life or death given by the populace in the amphitheater when a gladiator was vanquished, by turning the thumbs up or down. "The christian gladiator does not anxiously await the signal of life or death from the fickle crowd. The great Director of the contest Himself has given him a sure token of deliverance."
29. It is given - to suffer for His sake (ecarisqh to uper - auotu pascein). Every word here is significant. Suffering is a gift of grace. "It is given" should be "it was given," referring to the gift bestowed when they became Christians. Suffering was the marriage-gift when they were espoused to Christ: the bounty when they enlisted in His service.
Becoming one with Him they entered into the fellowship of His suffering (ch. iii. 10). The gift was not suffering as such. Its meaning and value lay in its being for His sake. The Macedonian churches, and the Philippian church especially, were preeminently suffering churches. See 2 Corinthians viii. 2.
30. Conflict (agwna). An athletic contest. See on striving, Colossians i. 29, and compare striving together, ver. 27.
Ye saw. In his sufferings at Philippi, Acts 16, see 1 Thess. ii. 2. Hear. Concerning my imprisonment.