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  • VINCENT'S NEW TESTAMENT
    WORD STUDIES - PHILIPPIANS 2

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    CHAPTER II

    1. Therefore. Paul has spoken, in ch. i. 26, of the Philippians' joy in his presence. Their joy is to find expression in duty - in the fulfillment of their obligations as members of the christian commonwealth, by fighting the good fight of faith and cheerfully appropriating the gift of suffering (ch. i. 27-29). Ver. 30, alluding to his own conflicts, marks the transition from the thought of their joy to that of his joy. Therefore, since such is your duty and privilege, fulfill my joy, and show yourselves to be true citizens of God's kingdom by your humility and unity of spirit.

    Consolation (paraklhsiv). Rev., comfort. Better, exhortation. See on Luke vi. 24. If Christ, by His example, sufferings, and conflicts, exhorts you.

    Comfort of love (paramuqion). Rev., consolation. Only here in the New Testament. From para beside, and muqov speech or word. Para has the same force as in paraklhsiv exhortation (see on Luke vi. 24); a word which comes to the side of one to stimulate or comfort him; hence an exhortation, an encouragement. So Plato: "Let this, then, be our exhortation concerning marriage" ("Laws," 773). A motive of persuasion or dissuasion. Plato, speaking of the fear of disgrace, or of ill-repute, says. "The obedient nature will readily yield to such incentives" ("Laws," 880). Also an assuagement or abatement. So Sophocles: "Offspring of the noble, ye are come as the assuagement of my woes" ("Electra," 130). Plato: "They say that to the rich are many consolations" ("Republic," 329). Plato also calls certain fruits stimulants (paramuqia) of a sated appetite ("Critias," 115). Here in the sense of incentive. As related to exhortation, exhortation uses incentive as a ground of appeal. Christ exhorts, appealing to love. Compare ch. i. 9 sqq. See Rom. v. 8; 1 Cor. xiii. 4; 2 Corinthians v. 14; Gal. v. 13; Eph. v. 2; 1 John iv. 16, etc. The two verbs kindred to exhortation and incentive occur together at 1 Thessalonians ii. 11. See on 1 Cor. xiv. 3. Render here, if any incentive of love.

    Fellowship of the Spirit. Communion with the Holy Spirit, whose first fruit is love. Gal. v. 22. Participation in His gifts and influences. Compare 2 Pet. i. 4, and 2 Cor. xiii. 13.

    Bowels and mercies (splagcna kai oiktirmoi). For mercies, see on 2 Corinthians i. 3, and compare Col. iii. 12.

    2. Fulfill (plhrwsate). Or complete. Compare John iii. 29.

    Be like-minded (to auto fronhte). Lit., think the same thing. The expression is a general one for concord, and is defined in the two following clauses: unity of affection, the same love; unity of sentiment, of one accord. The general expression is then repeated in a stronger form, thinking the one thing. A.V. and Rev., of one mind.

    3. Let nothing be done (mhden). Rev., doing nothing. The Greek is simply nothing, depending either, as A.V. and Rev., on the verb to do understood, or on thinking (fronountev) of the preceding verse: thinking nothing. The latter is preferable, since the previous and the following exhortations relate to thinking or feeling rather than to doing.

    Through strife (kata eriqeian). Rev., correctly, faction. Lit., according to faction. See on Jas. iii. 14; and ch. i. 16. According to indicates faction as the regulative state of mind.

    Vain glory (kenodoxian). Only here in the New Testament. The kindred adjective kenodoxoi desirous of vain glory, occurs only at Gal. v. 26. In the Septuagint the word is used to describe the worship of idols as folly (see Wisdom xiv. 14), and in 4 Macc. v. 9, the verb kenodoxew is used of following vain conceits about the truth. The word is compounded of kenov empty, vain, and, doxa opinion (but not in the New Testament), which, through the intermediate sense of good or favorable opinion, runs into the meaning of glory. See on Apoc. i. 6.

    Lowliness of mind (tapeinofrosunh). See on Matt. xi. 29.

    4. Look (skopountev). Attentively: fixing the attention upon, with desire for or interest in. So Rom. xvi. 17; Philip. iii. 17; 2 Cor. iv. 18. Hence often to aim at; compare skopov the mark, ch. iii. 14. The participles esteeming and looking are used with the force of imperatives. See on Col. iii. 16.

    5. Let this mind be in you (touto froneisqw en umin). Lit., let this be thought in you. The correct reading, however, is froneite, lit., "think this in yourselves." Rev., have this mind in you.

    6. Being in the form of God (en morfh Qeou uparcwn). Being. Not the simple einai to be, but stronger, denoting being which is from the beginning. See on Jas. ii. 15. It has a backward look into an antecedent condition, which has been protracted into the present. Here appropriate to the preincarnate being of Christ, to which the sentence refers. In itself it does not imply eternal, but only prior existence. Form (morfh). We must here dismiss from our minds the idea of shape. The word is used in its philosophic sense, to denote that expression of being which carries in itself the distinctive nature and character of the being to whom it pertains, and is thus permanently identified with that nature and character. Thus it is distinguished from schma fashion, comprising that which appeals to the senses and which is changeable. Morfh form 178 is identified with the essence of a person or thing: schma fashion is an accident which may change without affecting the form. For the manner in which this difference is developed in the kindred verbs, see on Matt. xvii. 2.

    As applied here to God, the word is intended to describe that mode in which the essential being of God expresses itself. We have no word which can convey this meaning, nor is it possible for us to formulate the reality. Form inevitably carries with it to us the idea of shape. It is conceivable that the essential personality of God may express itself in a mode apprehensible by the perception of pure spiritual intelligences; but the mode itself is neither apprehensible nor conceivable by human minds.

    This mode of expression, this setting of the divine essence, is not identical with the essence itself, but is identified with it, as its natural and appropriate expression, answering to it in every particular. It is the perfect expression of a perfect essence. It is not something imposed from without, but something which proceeds from the very depth of the perfect being, and into which that being perfectly unfolds, as light from fire.

    To say, then, that Christ was in the form of God, is to say that He existed as essentially one with God. The expression of deity through human nature (ver. 7) thus has its background in the expression of deity as deity in the eternal ages of God's being. Whatever the mode of this expression, it marked the being of Christ in the eternity before creation. As the form of God was identified with the being of God, so Christ, being in the form of God, was identified with the being, nature, and personality of God. This form, not being identical with the divine essence, but dependent upon it, and necessarily implying it, can be parted with or laid aside. Since Christ is one with God, and therefore pure being, absolute existence, He can exist without the form. This form of God Christ laid aside in His incarnation.

    Thought it not robbery to be equal with God (ouc arpagmon hghsato to einai isa Qew). Robbery is explained in three ways. 1. A robbing, the act. 2. The thing robbed, a piece of plunder. 3. A prize, a thing to be grasped. Here in the last sense.

    Paul does not then say, as A.V., that Christ did not think it robbery to be equal with God: for, 1, that fact goes without. saying in the previous expression, being in the form of God. 2. On this explanation the statement is very awkward. Christ, being in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal with God; but, after which we should naturally expect, on the other hand, claimed and asserted equality: whereas the statement is: Christ was in the form of God and did not think it robbery to be equal with God, but (instead) emptied Himself. Christ held fast His assertion of divine dignity, but relinquished it. The antithesis is thus entirely destroyed. Taking the word aJrpagmon (A.V., robbery) to mean a highly prized possession, we understand Paul to say that Christ, being, before His incarnation, in the form of God, did not regard His divine equality as a prize which was to be grasped at and retained at all hazards, but, on the contrary, laid aside the form of God, and took upon Himself the nature of man. The emphasis in the passage is upon Christ's humiliation. The fact of His equality with God is stated as a background, in order to throw the circumstances of His incarnation into stronger relief. Hence the peculiar form of Paul's statement Christ's great object was to identify Himself with humanity; not to appear to men as divine but as human. Had He come into the world emphasizing His equality with God, the world would have been amazed, but not saved He did not grasp at this. The rather He counted humanity His prize, and so laid aside the conditions of His preexistent state, and became man.

    7. Made Himself of no reputation (eauton ekenwsen).179 Lit., emptied Himself. The general sense is that He divested Himself of that peculiar mode of existence which was proper and peculiar to Him as one with God. He laid aside the form of God. In so doing, He did not divest Himself of His divine nature. The change was a change of state: the form of a servant for the form of God. His personality continued the same. His self-emptying was not self-extinction, nor was the divine Being changed into a mere man. In His humanity He retained the consciousness of deity, and in His incarnate state carried out the mind which animated Him before His incarnation. He was not unable to assert equality with God. He was able not to assert it.

    Form of a servant (morfhn doulou). The same word for form as in the phrase form of God, and with the same sense. The mode of expression of a slave's being is indeed apprehensible, and is associated with human shape, but it is not this side of the fact which Paul is developing. It is that Christ assumed that mode of being which answered to, and was the complete and characteristic expression of, the slave's being. The mode itself is not defined. This is appropriately inserted here as bringing out the contrast with counted not equality with God, etc. What Christ grasped at in His incarnation was not divine sovereignty, but service.

    Was made in the likeness of men (en omoiwmati anqrwpwn genomenov). Lit., becoming in, etc. Notice the choice of the verb, not was, but became: entered into a new state. Likeness. The word does not imply the reality of our Lord's humanity, morfh form implied the reality of His deity. That fact is stated in the form of a servant. Neither is eijkwn image employed, which, for our purposes, implies substantially the same as morfh. See on Col. i. 15. As form of a servant exhibits the inmost reality of Christ's condition as a servant - that He became really and essentially the servant of men (Luke xxii. 27) - so likeness of men expresses the fact that His mode of manifestation resembled what men are. This leaves room for the assumption of another side of His nature - the divine - in the likeness of which He did not appear. As He appealed to men, He was like themselves, with a real likeness; but this likeness to men did not express His whole self. The totality of His being could not appear to men, for that involved the form of God. Hence the apostle views Him solely as He could appear to men. All that was possible was a real and complete likeness to humanity. What He was essentially and eternally could not enter into His human mode of existence. Humanly He was like men, but regarded with reference to His whole self, He was not identical with man, because there was an element of His personality which did not dwell in them - equality with God. Hence the statement of His human manifestation is necessarily limited by this fact, and is confined to likeness and does not extend to identity. "To affirm likeness is at once to assert similarity and to deny sameness" (Dickson). See on Rom. viii. 3.

    8. Being found in fashion as a man (schmati eureqeiv wv anqrwpov). Some expositors connect these words with the preceding clause, thus: being made in the likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man; a new sentence beginning with He humbled Himself. The general sense is not altered by this change, and there is great force in Meyer's remark that the preceding thought, in the likeness of men, is thus "emphatically exhausted." On the other hand, it breaks the connection with the following sentence, which thus enters very abruptly. Notice being found. After He had assumed the conditions of humanity, and men's attention was drawn to Him, they found Him like a man. Compare Isaiah liii. 2. "If we looked at Him, there was no sightliness that we should delight in Him."

    Fashion (schmati). That which is purely outward and appeals to the senses. The form of a servant is concerned with the fact that the manifestation as a servant corresponded with the real fact that Christ came as the servant of mankind. In the phrase in the likeness of men the thought is still linked with that of His essential nature which rendered possible a likeness to men, but not an absolute identity with men. In being found in fashion as a man the thought is confined to the outward guise as it appealed to the sense of mankind. Likeness states the fact of real resemblance to men in mode of existence: fashion defines the outward mode and form. As a man. Not being found a man not what He was recognized to be, but as a man, keeping up the idea of semblance expressed in likeness.

    He humbled Himself (etapeinwsen eauton). Not the same as emptied Himself, ver. 7. It defines that word, showing how the self-emptying manifests itself.

    Became obedient unto death (genomenov - mecri). Became, compare Apoc. i. 18. Unto. The Rev. very judiciously inserts even; for the A.V. is open to the interpretation that Christ rendered obedience to death. Unto is up to the point of. Christ's obedience to God was rendered to the extent of laying down His life.

    Of the cross. Forming a climax of humiliation. He submitted not only to death, but to the death of a malefactor. The Mosaic law had uttered a curse against it, Deut. xxi. 23, and the Gentiles reserved it for malefactors and slaves. Hence the shame associated with the cross, Heb. xii. 2. This was the offense or stumbling-block of the cross, which was so often urged by the Jews against the Christians. See on Galatians iii. 13. To a Greek, accustomed to clothe his divinities with every outward attribute of grace and beauty, the summons to worship a crucified malefactor appealed as foolishness, 1 Cor. i. 23.

    9. Wherefore (dio). In consequence of this humiliation.

    Hath highly exalted (uperuywsen). Lit., exalted above. Compare Matt. xxiii. 12.

    Hath given (ecarisato). Freely bestowed, even as Jesus freely offered Himself to humiliation:

    A name. Rev., correctly, the name. This expression is differently explained: either the particular name given to Christ, as Jesus or Lord; or name is taken in the sense of dignity or glory, which is a common Old-Testament usage, and occurs in Eph. i. 21; Heb. i. 4. Under the former explanation a variety of names are proposed, as Son of God, Lord, God, Christ Jesus. The sense of the personal name Jesus seems to meet all the conditions, and the personal sense is the simpler, since Jesus occurs immediately after with the word name, and again Jesus Christ in ver. 11. The name Jesus was bestowed on Christ at the beginning of His humiliation, but prophetically as the One who should save His people from their sins, Matt. i. 21. It was the personal name of others besides; but if that is an objection here, it is equally an objection in ver. 10. The dignity is expressed by above every name. He bears the name in His glory. See Acts ix. 5. See on Matt. i. 21.

    10. At the name of Jesus (en tw onomati). Rev., better, in the name. The name means here the personal name; but as including all that is involved in the name. See on Matt. xxviii. 19. Hence the salutation is not at the name of Jesus, as by bowing when the name is uttered, but, as Ellicott rightly says: "the spiritual sphere, the holy element as it were, in which every prayer is to be offered and every knee to bow." Compare Eph. v. 20.

    Things in heaven, etc. Compare Apoc. v. 13; Eph. i. 20, 22. The words may apply either to all intelligent beings or to all things. The latter is in accord with Paul's treatment of the creation collectively in Rom. viii. 19-22, and with the Old-Testament passages, in which all nature is represented as praising God, as Psalm 148; lxv. 13.

    11. Confess (exomologhsetai). See on Matt. iii. 6; thank, Matthew xi. 25; Rom. xiv. 11. The verb may also be rendered thank, as Matthew xi. 25; Luke x. 21, that meaning growing out of the sense of open, joyful acknowledgment. The sense here is that of frank, open confession. 180 To the glory, etc. Connect with confess.

    12. Not as in my presence only. Connect with work out, not with obeyed. Do not work out your salvation as though impelled to action by my presence merely.

    Much more. Than if I were present; for in my absence even greater zeal and care are necessary.

    Work out your own salvation (thn eautwn swthrian katergazasqe). Carry out "to the goal" (Bengel). Complete. See on Rom. vii. 8. Your own salvation. There is a saving work which God only can do for you; but there is also a work which you must do for yourselves. The work of your salvation is not completed in God's work in you. God's work must be carried out by yourselves. "Whatever rest is provided by Christianity for the children of God, it is certainly never contemplated that it should supersede personal effort. And any rest which ministers to indifference is immoral and unreal - it makes parasites and not men. Just because God worketh in him, as the evidence and triumph of it, the true child of God works out his own salvation - works it out having really received it - not as a light thing, a superfluous labor, but with fear and trembling as a reasonable and indispensable service" (Drummond, "Natural Law in the Spiritual World," p. 335). Human agency is included in God's completed work. In the saving work of grace God imparts a new moral power to work. Compare Rom. vi. 8-13; 2 Cor. vi. 1. Believe as if you had no power. Work as if you had no God.

    Fear and trembling. Compare 2 Cor. vii. 15; Eph. vi. 5. Not slavish terror, but wholesome, serious caution. "This fear is self-distrust; it is tenderness of conscience; it is vigilance against temptation; it is the fear which inspiration opposes to high-mindedness in the admonition 'be not highminded but fear.' It is taking heed lest we fall; it is a constant apprehension of the deceitfulness of the heart, and of the insidiousness and power of inward corruption. It is the caution and circumspection which timidly shrinks from whatever would offend and dishonor God and the Savior. And these the child of God will feel and exercise the more he rises above the enfeebling, disheartening, distressing influence of the fear which hath torment. Well might Solomon say of such fear, 'happy is the man that feareth alway'" (Wardlaw "On Proverbs," xxviii. 14). Compare 1 Peter i. 17.

    13. For it is God which worketh in you. Completing and guarding the previous statement. In you, not among you. Worketh (energwn). See on Mark vi. 14; Jas. v. 16. The verb means effectual working. In the active voice, to be at work. In the middle voice, as here (used only by James and Paul, and only of things), to display one's activity; show one's self-operative. Compare Eph. iii. 20.

    To will and to do (to qelein kai to energein). Lit., the willing and the doing. Both are from God, and are of one piece, so that he who wills inevitably does. The willing which is wrought by God, by its own nature and pressure, works out into action. "We will, but God works the will in us. We work, therefore, but God works the working in us" (Augustine). For to do, Rev. substitutes to work, thus preserving the harmony in the Greek between "God which worketh" and "to work."

    Of His good pleasure (uper thv eudokiav). Rev., better, for His, etc. Lit., for the sake of; in order to subserve. See 1 Tim. ii. 4.

    14. Murmurings (goggusmwn). See on Jude 16; John vi. 41. Compare 1 Corinthians x. 10.

    Disputings (dialogismwn). See on Mark vii. 21. It is doubtful whether disputings is a legitimate meaning. The kindred verb dialogizomai is invariably used in the sense of to reason or discuss, either with another or in one's own mind, Matt. xvi. 7; xxi. 25; Mark ii. 6; Luke xii. 17. The noun is sometimes rendered thoughts, as Matt. xv. 19; Mark vii. 21; but with the same idea underlying it, of a suspicion or doubt, causing inward discussion. See 1 Tim. ii. 8. Better here questionings or doubtings. See on Rom. xiv. 1. The murmuring is the moral, the doubting the intellectual rebellion against God.

    15. May be - harmless (genhsqe - akeraioi). May be is rather may prove or show yourselves to be. Harmless, lit., unmixed. See on Matthew x. 16. Better, guileless. Blameless in the sight of others, guileless in your own hearts.

    Sons of God (tekna). Rev., better, children. See on John i. 12. Compare Deut. xxxii. 5.

    Without rebuke (amwma). Rev., correctly, without blemish. See on Col. i. 22. The word is epexegetical of the two preceding epithets, unblemished in reputation and in reality.

    Crooked and perverse (skoliav - diestrammenhv). Crooked, see on untoward, Acts ii. 40; froward, 1 Pet. ii. 18. Perverse, lit., warped, twisted. See on Matt. xvii. 17; Luke xxiii. 14.

    Ye shine (fainesqe). Rev., more correctly, ye are seen. Compare Matt. xxiv. 27; Apoc. xviii. 23, A.V., where the same error occurs. Shine would require the verb in the active voice, as John i. 5; v. 35. Lights (fwsthrev). Only here and Apoc. xxi. 11, see note. Properly, luminaries. So Rev., in margin. Generally of the heavenly bodies. See Gen. i. 14, 16, Sept.

    In the world. Connect with ye are seen, not with luminaries. The world, not only material, but moral. For the moral sense of kosmov world, see on John i. 9.

    16. Holding forth (epecontev). The verb means literally to hold upon or apply. Hence to fix attention upon, as Luke xiv. 7; Acts iii. 5; 1 Tim. iv. 16. In Acts xix. 22, stayed: where the idea at bottom is the same - kept to. So in Sept., Job xxvii. 8, of setting the heart on gain. Job xxx. 26, "fixed my mind on good." In Gen. viii. 10, of Noah waiting. In classical Greek, to hold out, present, as to offer wine to a guest or the breast to an infant. Also to stop, keep down, confine, cease. Here in the sense of presenting or offering, as A.V. and Rev. holding forth.

    That I may rejoice (eiv kauchma emoi). Lit., for a cause of glorying unto me.

    In the day of Christ (eijv hJmeran Cristou). Lit., against the day, as ch. i. 10. The phrase day of Christ is peculiar to this epistle. The usual expression is day of the Lord.

    Have not run (ouk edramon). Rev., better, did not run. Aorist tense. Ignatius writes to Polycarp to ordain some one "beloved and unwearied, who may be styled God's courier" (qeodromov. To Polycarp, 7.).

    17. I am offered (spendomai). Lit., I am poured out as a libation. The figure is that of a sacrifice, in which the Philippians are the priests, offering their faith to God, and Paul's life is the libation poured out at this offering. Compare 2 Cor. xii. 15; 2 Tim. iv. 6. Ignatius:

    "Brethren, I am lavishly poured out in love for you" (Philadelphia, 5.). Upon the sacrifice, etc. (epi). The image is probably drawn from heathen rather than from Jewish sacrifices, since Paul was writing to converted heathen. According to Josephus, the Jewish libation was poured round and not upon the altar; but the preposition ejpi used here, was also used to describe it. At all events, ejpi may be rendered at, which would suit either. Sacrifice and service (qusia kai leitourgia). Sacrifice, as uniformly in the New Testament, the thing sacrificed. Service, see on ministration, Luke i. 23, and ministered, Acts xiii. 2. In the Old Testament, used habitually of the ministry of priests and Levites; also of Samuel's service to God; 1 Sam. ii. 18; iii. 1. Of service to men, 1 Kings i. 4, 15. In the apostolic writings this and its kindred words are used of services to both God and man. See Rom. xiii. 6; xv. 16; Luke i. 23; Rom. xv. 27; 2 Corinthians ix. 12; Philip. ii. 25.

    Of your faith. Offered by you as a sacrifice to God.

    Rejoice with (sugcairw). There seems to be no sufficient reason for rendering congratulate.

    20. Like minded (isoyucon) Only here in the New Testament. With Paul himself, not Timothy.

    Who (ostiv). Double relative, classifying: such that he.

    Naturally (ynhsiwv). Rev., truly. The adverb only here in the New Testament. The kindred adjective gnhsiov true, own, occurs 1 Timothy i. 2; Tit. i. 4; 2 Cor. viii. 8 (see note).

    21. All (oi pantev). The all; that is, one and all. The expression, however, must have limitations, since it cannot include those spoken of in ch. i. 14,

    17. It probably means, all except Timothy, that he has at his disposal of those who would naturally be selected for such an office.

    22. In the Gospel (eijv to eujaggelion). In furtherance of, as ch. i. 5. So Rev. 23. I shall see (afidw). The compounded preposition ajpo gives the sense of looking away from the present condition of affairs to what is going to turn out.

    25. Epaphroditus. Mentioned only in this epistle. See on Epaphras, Philemon 23. The name is derived from Aphrodite (Venus), and means charming.

    Messenger (apostolon). The same word as apostle, one sent with a commission.

    He that ministered (leitourgon). Kindred with leitourgia service, in ver. 17. Rev., minister.

    26. Was full of heaviness (hn adhmonwn). Rev., was sore troubled. Used of Christ in Gethsemane, Matt. xxvi. 27.

    27. Sorrow upon sorrow (luphn epi luphn). The accusative implies motion. Sorrow coming upon sorrow, as wave after wave.

    30. The work of Christ. The text varies: some reading work of the Lord, and others the work absolutely. If the latter, the meaning is labor for the Gospel; compare Acts xv. 38. If the Lord or Christ, the reference may be to the special service of Epaphroditus in bringing the contribution of the Philippians.

    Not regarding his life (parabouleusamenov th yuch). The correct reading is paraboleusamenov, meaning to venture, to expose one's self. It was also a gambler's word, to throw down a stake. Hence Paul says that Epaphroditus recklessly exposed his life. Rev., hazarding. The brotherhoods of the ancient Church, who cared for the sick at the risk of their lives, were called parabolani, 181 or reckless persons.

    Your lack of service (to umwn usterhma leitourgiav). An unfortunate rendering, since it might be taken to imply some neglect on the Philippians' part. Rev., that which was lacking in your service. The expression is complimentary and affectionate, to the effect that all that was wanting in the matter of their service was their ministration in person, which was supplied by Epaphroditus.

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