Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Apparently, this letter was written by Paul while he was a prisoner at Rome . He is said to have sent it to the Philippians by the hand of Epaphroditus, who had been sent by the Philippians to inquire of Paul's welfare, and to carry to him a contribution from them. While with Paul, he had fallen sick, as Paul tells us in Chapter II. There are a few things said in this epistle, which apply peculiarly to the Philippians, but for the most part, it is applicable to all Christians.

Chapter 1

(Verses 1 and 2) "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus, which are at Philippi , with the bishops and deacons: grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."


In the New Testament we have thirteen epistles which bear the name of Paul as the author. Of these there are only five which say nothing of Paul's apostleship. Philippians is one of these. Perhaps, his reason for making no mention of it in this letter is that no disturbance has been raised, and there has come up no question, which requires reference to apostolic authority. In his greeting to the Philippians he simply refers to himself and Timotheus, whom we know as Timothy, as "the servants of Jesus Christ." As much time as he had spent with the Philippians, and as close a fellowship as he had with them, there can be no doubt that they were well aware of his apostleship without its being mentioned here. He addresses this letter to "all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi , with the bishops and deacons." not to "the bishops and deacons, that they may pass the message on to the other members." He simply puts them all on the same level, which is indeed the way it should always be. His prayer for them is the same as is usual in his greetings to all the churches, "Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."


(Verses 3 through 8) "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ."


We can, from this excerpt, get some understanding of the love Paul has for the Philippians. When one considers Paul's first experience in Philippi , (Acts 16:12 -40,) it becomes evident that Philippian believers themselves must have been exceptionally obedient to the gospel to establish themselves so firmly in the apostle's heart and mind. At the time of this writing he is a prisoner at Rome for the sake of this gospel, which was the occasion of his being so ill-treated by the authorities on his first visit to Philippi . But now he is thankful to God for them every time he thinks of them and their fellowship, which has been unbroken from the first day of their acquaintance until now. He has full confidence that "He Which hath begun a good work" in them "will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." That is, their lives have been such that he is fully assured that there is nothing false, or pretended about their profession of faith. He is fully persuaded that God started that work, and since He never fails, He will surely finish that which He has begun. He reminds them that it is fitting for him to think this of them for two reasons. First, simply because they are in his heart, that is, he has such great love for them; and second, because that even in his bonds, they are partakers of his grace in both the defense and the confirmation of the gospel. When Paul says, "ye are all partakers of my grace," he does not mean "grace that I supply," but "the grace that God has supplied to me." He has given them the same grace with which He supplied Paul. They, having this grace, have stood firmly for the defense and confirmation of the gospel, and have not let Paul's bonds frighten them away from this stand. Then he declares that God is witness of the great longing he has to see them. His expression, "in the bowels of Jesus Christ," simply means "in the love of Jesus Christ." The love of Christ is the moving cause of his longing for them.


(Verses 9 through 11) "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that you may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God."


This is a continuation of the apostle's prayer for the Philippian brethren, that their love may not only increase into a deeper Christian love, but also that it may cause their knowledge and judgment to mature, so that, they will be able to "approve things that are excellent." That is, that they may be able to make proper decisions for themselves concerning the many questions that may arise after he is no longer with them to teach them what they should do. And he prays that they "may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ," as well as that they may be "filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." No doubt this would be Paul's prayer for these brethren at any time, but it has special significance at this time, because of his being a prisoner, and not knowing when, or whether, he will ever see them again.


(Verses 12 through 17) "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel."


Having expressed his love and prayers for the brethren, Paul now tells them that his imprisonment, although it is certainly an inconvenience to him, instead of being a hindrance to the gospel, is actually promoting it. Since in all places, even in the palace, everyone understands that his imprisonment is for the sake of his preaching the gospel, the brethren are encouraged to be bolder in their own preaching of Christ. Not only so, but some of Paul's enemies, thinking that by so doing they will cause him more suffering, are also preaching Christ, albeit in pretense, and not in sincerity; and although it is in pretense, they must at least be preaching the truth. On the other hand, some are preaching sincerely and honestly because of their love for Christ, and for His servant, Paul.


(Verses 18 through 21) "What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."


Since some of those who were preaching Christ were doing so, not in sincerity but only in pretense, hoping by this to add to Paul's suffering, it might be supposed that he would be somewhat irritated thereby. As mentioned earlier, however, they must have been preaching the truth even though they did not believe it themselves, for the apostle asks, "What then?" or "What difference does it make whether those who are preaching believe what they are saying or not, just so long as they preach Christ?" To him this is cause for rejoicing. When he says, "For I know that this shall turn to my salvation_ _ _," he is not referring to eternal salvation, nor even to his being delivered from imprisonment. But, as we follow his statement through to the end, we find that his concern is rather for being able to stand firmly to the end, that whether by life or by death, he may glorify Christ. And this preaching, whether sincerely or in pretense, together with the prayers of the brethren for him, and the supply of the Spirit of Christ Jesus will save him from the weakness of the flesh whereby he would be ashamed; and will give him proper boldness even to the end, all of which is according to his earnest expectation and hope. He is not greatly concerned about whether he shall live, or die, as he says, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."


(Verses 22 through 26) "But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again."


Since Paul has already said that, for his part, it makes little difference whether it is his continued life, or his death, that is used to glorify God, he now says that he does not know which he would choose, if given a choice. In view of what he says as he continues, it is not to be thought that God has offered him this choice, but just that his mind is torn between the desire to go on and be with the Lord, and the knowledge that there is still a further work which the Christ has for him to finish. He then says that because it is more needful for him to remain for the sakes of those to whom he must minister, he knows that he must continue his work. His remaining will then be for the maturing of their joy and faith, and he will again be permitted to visit them.


(Verses 27 and 28) "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God."


The apostle's greatest concern, in spite of the great love he has for these brethren, is not whether or not he will be permitted to visit them again, but that they continue in obedience to the principles of the gospel of the Christ. When he says, "Let your conversation_ _ _," he is considering much more than what we today usually mean by "conversation." In his usage it means "manner of living," including thoughts, words, and actions. When he hears about them, he wants to hear that they are united in spirit and mind, "striving together for the faith of the gospel," that is, the gospel principles, of both doctrine and practice, and facing their adversaries bravely and without terror. The clause, "which is to them an evident token of perdition," might have been slightly clearer to us in our modern manner of speaking had it been translated "which is FOR them_ _ _," since the meaning is not that it is evident to them, (for they indeed do not see it at all,) but it is an evident token concerning them. In the Greek text neither preposition occurs. Only the dative case ending of the pronoun is used; and this can be translated either "to" or "for." In this case "for" is more in keeping with the apostle's meaning, which is that those who are adversaries to you and the gospel are manifesting a clear evidence of their eternal destruction [apoleias], while the same is a clear token of your salvation, and that this salvation is of God.


(Verses 29 and 30) "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me."


Here is a principle, which has applied from the beginning, and will apply to the end; and yet it seems that very few of us ever really learn it. If we can only learn it and keep it in mind, we will do far less murmuring and complaining. Our suffering, whether of tribulations, or afflictions, or persecutions, is a "gift," or privilege, and not a burden. It is given unto us "in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake." After all, He proved His great love for us in, and by, His suffering. Should not also our love for Him be tested in the same manner, albeit never to the same extent? It is not a new conflict. It is the same one that was in the Apostle Paul.

Chapter 2

(Verses 1 through 4) "If there be any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind."


It will be noted that there are two words added by the translators in verse 1, which seem to obscure the meaning slightly. These are "there be." The meaning of the passage obviously is not "If there be_ _ _," but rather "If you are experiencing any consolation in Christ_ _ _ fulfill ye my joy_ _ _." These things are always in Christ. Sometimes, however, we do not experience them. If this were not the case they would hardly do what the apostle says. But if they are experiencing these things they will gladly fulfill his joy by maintaining the unity of the Spirit in showing forth their love for each other and, being in one accord and of one mind. Then he instructs them to do nothing for strife or "vainglory," as our modern expression would be, "to show off". Instead let everyone consider his brother better than himself; and let not each be so concerned about his own welfare as about that of others. This rule is just as necessary for us today as it was for them.


(Verses 5 through 8) "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."


The Apostle John tells us, (John 1:1-4,) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life _ _ _". In John 1:14 he says, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." Since it is He by Whom all things were made, there is no reason He should think it robbery to be equal with God. Yet when He took upon Himself the body of flesh, He took "the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." He laid aside His glory in heaven before coming down to earth to take that body, thereby making Himself of no reputation. Then being in the form of man, "found in fashion as a man," He, although actually God manifested in the flesh, "humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Since He so humbled Himself for us, should not we also humble ourselves for one another?


(Verses 9 through 11) "Wherefore God hath also highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father."


Since Jesus has so humbled Himself as to endure the death of the cross, God has now highly exalted Him, and given Him a name that is above every name, not only above any name, but above all names together, no matter how many there may be, or how great they are. There are various ideas of what is meant by the expression, "of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth." It seems that, perhaps, since it has almost always been considered by most men that the place of residence of the spirits of the dead, and particularly the wicked dead, is "under the earth," it may simply be another way of saying that both living and dead, righteous and wicked, will bow before our Lord Jesus the Christ, and confess that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Or, it may be said in reference to angels "in heaven," men "in earth," and devils "under the earth." In either case it does not misrepresent the situation, for all, whether angels, men, or devils, both living and dead, must come before Him as the "Judge of the quick and the dead," and there receive their sentences, whether it be the joyful sentence of eternal glory conferred upon the righteous, or the terrible sentence of everlasting torment upon devils and wicked men. In that day our Lord Jesus will by all be acknowledged to be THE LORD, to the glory of God the Father.


(Verses 12 and 13) "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. For it is God Which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."


This quotation contains an expression that is, perhaps, one of the most abused in all scripture, simply because many either misunderstand, or else have a flagrant disregard for, what the apostle has written. They leave off both the first and last portions of this scripture, and come up with what they perceive as a command that should be addressed to everybody. So before we consider this particular text, let us turn back to the address of this letter. Chapter 1, verse 1 says, "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to ALL THE SAINTS IN CHRIST JESUS which are at Philippi ." From this it ought not be difficult to understand that Paul is addressing persons who are already born of the Spirit of God. How else can one become a saint? Now he says, "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,_ _ _." Surely it can be understood that he is addressing the same persons, those who already have salvation, and not some who must do something in order to obtain it. So from this it is very obvious that his usage of the word, "salvation," has nothing to do with becoming children of God. These to whom he is writing are already "saints in Christ Jesus," and are far more obedient to the gospel than most professed Christians today. Still he says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." The Greek word, here translated "salvation," can mean "deliverance, preservation, safety, or salvation;" and it is clear from what Paul says, both before and after it, that he simply means that their obedience, not only in his presence, but much more in his absence, shows them to be of sufficiently good spiritual judgment to be capable of working out the answers to whatever problems may come up among them. Heretofore they have, no doubt, depended upon him to instruct them, and make decisions for them, but since he is no longer available to them, and may never again be, they must make their own decisions. Their signal obedience proves that it is God Who is leading them, both by giving them a desire to do His will and giving them the ability and zeal to do that which He directs them to. The apostle places only one restriction upon them, do this "with fear and trembling," not making what we often refer to as "snap judgments," nor trying to show what great wisdom they have, but in the fear of the Lord waiting for Him to direct them.


(Verses 14 through 18)"Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 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; 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. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me."


Paul's instructions here are just as valuable to us today as to the Philippians. There are surely few things that cause Satan any more joy than murmurings, disputes, and strife in the church of God . He can with these cause the world to blaspheme the Son of God. The cry is, "Their Christ cannot be very great or worthwhile, for if He were, His followers would be more unified." If, on the other hand, the members of the church carry on whatever they do in a quiet, peaceable, and unified manner, there can be no blame cast upon them. And no room is given for the adversary to blaspheme the name of Christ; and thus they are "blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke." The Apostle John says, (1 John 5:19 ,) "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." So we are indeed in the midst of a "crooked and perverse nation;" and if we live according to Paul's instructions to the Philippians we will "shine as lights in the world," by holding forth the word of life, not merely by words, but by deeds also. This is what we might call "keeping the flag flying." When a military unit is in combat, morale and order can be maintained even in the bitterest of struggles if the flag is kept flying; but when the colors are struck or thrown aside, pandemonium usually breaks loose. So let us follow Paul's instructions, and keep the flag flying high, as much for the sake of our brethren as for ourselves, but above all for the sake of our Captain, our Lord Jesus the Christ. Paul tells these brethren that there is another reason why he is desirous that they do this, "that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." Paul's statement in verse 17 is really the climax of his praise of the Philippians for their love, faith, and obedience to the gospel. And to appreciate the depth and seriousness of it one must remember that, at this point, although he has expressed strong confidence that he will be set free again, the apostle does not know with certainty whether his sentence will be freedom, or death. In essence he is saying, "If for the sake of your faith and obedience I must lay down my life, I count it joy to do so, and I rejoice with all of you in your faith and obedience. For the same cause I want you to rejoice in your faith, and rejoice with me in that I am counted of the Lord worthy to lay down my life for the gospel." He has no wish that his death, if that be the outcome of the present situation, cause them any sorrow.


(Verses 19 through 24) "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. For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. But ye know the proof of him, that as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly."


It seems almost incredible that at this early stage in the gospel ministry, when the Holy Ghost was still working many miracles among the saints, and giving men such faith that they could boldly face the persecutions that were being brought against them, that gospel ministers, (and surely that is Paul's meaning,) would be so greedy, callous, apathetic, or whatever adjective one might use to describe them, that they were interested only in personal gain, honor, recognition, etc., and not in the spiritual welfare of those to whom they ministered. Paul says, "For all seek their own, not the things which are  Jesus Christ's." So this leaves him with no one beside Timotheus whom he can, in good conscience, send to counsel with these brethren to find out how they are getting along, and report it back to him for his own comfort. He reminds them that they are well acquainted with Timotheus since they have already observed his service in the gospel. Therefore he hopes to send him just as soon as he finds out what his own sentence will be; and he still expresses confidence in the Lord that he will also soon be at liberty to come to them again.


(Verses 25 through 28) "Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellow-soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 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. I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful."


Paul says that although he is planning to send Timotheus as soon as he has any news to report concerning his own condition, he feels it necessary to send Epaphroditus immediately, primarily because Epaphroditus is so desirous of seeing them, and letting them know that he has recovered from a sickness he has recently experienced. Notice Paul's manner of speaking concerning him: "My brother, and companion in labour, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he who ministered to my wants." Epaphroditus was sent by the Philippian Church to bring a gift to the Apostle Paul, and to inquire of his condition. In addition to bringing the gift to the apostle, he rendered to Paul all the personal service that he possibly could. During their stay together they became extremely close friends, although, no doubt, they were already well acquainted before this. So Paul says, to the Philippians, that, since they sent Epaphroditus he is their messenger, but he is far more than that to him. Their friendship and fellowship are as of two soldiers who have side by side fought through a severe campaign. He says that Epaphroditus was so sick that he was near death, but God had mercy on him, and on Paul himself, since his death would have added greatly to the sorrow he already had because of his present condition. Although Paul is said to have sent this epistle to the Philippians by Epaphroditus, verse 28 seems to imply that Epaphroditus was already gone at the time of the writing. He says, "I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful."


(Verses 29 and 30) "Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me."


Surely this needs no explanation, unless it be the last part of the quotation, "to supply your lack of service toward me." The apostle is not accusing them of failing to do what they should for him. He is only saying that, since they were not within reach, and therefore could not do for him that which they desired to do, Epaphroditus almost worked himself to death to supply the service which they were not able to render.


Chapter 3

(Verses 1 through 3) "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."


The apostle says that it is no trouble, "is not grievous," to him "to write the same things," that is, to repeat that which he has already told them, but it is for a safeguard to them that he does it. Although he uses different words from those he has previously used, his caveats are, in fact, a summary of some of his former instructions. When he says, "Beware of dogs," he is not referring to the four-legged animals to which the word properly applies, but he is using it as did David in Psalms 22:16 and 20, and as Isaiah in Isaiah 56:10-11. No doubt his reference is to false teachers, who caused the Corinthians so much trouble, and were operating everywhere. Further, he says, "Beware of evil workers." Although the Philippians seem to be far more obedient to the gospel than many others, a caution against evil workers is by no means amiss. Finally he says, "Beware of the concision," that is, those who try to persuade Christians to be circumcised, and embrace the law as a means, or even a help, to salvation. It is noteworthy that Paul does not, in this expression, use the Greek word, "katatoma," which is always used to mean the religious rite of circumcision, but instead "peritoma," which means "mutilation."


The key to the matter is that we who worship God "in Spirit and in truth" as our Lord said, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, are the true circumcision, those who are circumcised in the heart and not in the flesh. While those who are circumcised in the flesh are actually only mutilated.


(Verses 4 through 6) "Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless."


Were it not for what Paul says in the next few verses, one might accuse him of boasting in this quotation. Actually he is only establishing the foundation of the fact that no man has anything of the flesh of which he has any right to boast. He says that, if there were anything in the flesh of which to boast, he has more than others. Verily, many of the Jews could lay claim to the first five items he lists. But few indeed could claim the last two. So far as his circumcision and lineage are concerned, they were strictly according to the law; but the same is true of many others. His zeal, however, outstripped that of most others. Not only did he persecute the church, but he was one of the foremost leaders of the persecution; and as "touching the righteousness which is in the law," he was blameless. This is not to say that he never thought, said, or did anything that was not approved by the law, but rather that, if it was in any manner brought to his attention that he had violated the law in any way, he immediately offered the appropriate sacrifice. So there was no blame that could be laid against him in this matter. Therefore, if there be anything in the flesh in which one can have confidence, he, no doubt, has an advantage over others.


(Verses 7 through 11) "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."


The apostle sets us straight about his evaluation of all the fleshly attainments he had once considered so great: "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." Until the Lord appeared to Paul, all of these things he has enumerated stood out as wonderful achievements, not only to him, but also to those around him. They caused his associates to look upon him with great admiration. They were indeed gain to him. Yet, when his eyes and heart were opened that he might receive the Lord Christ Jesus, his entire perspective was changed. That which had been gain to him, he could now see for what it really was, nothing but loss, waste, and filth. The only thing of true value is Jesus the Christ and His resurrection. Paul's usage of the phrase, "His resurrection," does not so much intend the resurrection of Jesus Christ Himself as the general resurrection of all His saints, which is properly called "His resurrection" because it will be brought about by the power of His voice. His own personal resurrection is our evidence that the general resurrection will come to pass just as He has promised. So when the Lord revealed Himself to Paul, and showed him the glory of the resurrection, the apostle was ready to throw away all these other things, and count them as nothing but filth when compared to the excellency of the knowledge of the Christ. He from that time forward is concerned only with the righteousness of God, which is not received through the law, but through faith which is of Christ Jesus our Lord. His desire now is to be found in the Christ, clothed in that righteousness which is by faith, and to know the Christ, experience the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, and to be made conformable to His death, all of this in the hope of attaining to the resurrection of the dead.


(Verses 12 through 14) "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."


The apostle is still following the same line of thought as in previous verses. He says that he does not consider himself to have attained to all of this for which he is striving, nor does he consider himself to be perfect. (His usage of the word, "perfect," does not always mean "without sin," as we sometimes have a tendency to think, but "complete," or "mature." Yet in this instance it would make little difference which meaning is understood, for nowhere does the apostle claim to have reached the sinless state, nor to have attained to all the knowledge he desires of the Christ and His resurrection.) He says that instead of making such claims, he is following after, or seeking, that for which he has been apprehended, (literally, "laid hold of,") by Christ Jesus. He declares that he is making only one claim, "forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Just as a runner in a natural race blocks out of his mind all else, and concentrates altogether on reaching the finish line, so he runs the Christian race. After all, since Christ Jesus is the "author and finisher of our faith", He is the finish line, and in Him is found the prize of the high calling of God.


(Verses 15 and 16) "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing."


Paul has already declared that he does not consider himself perfect; but he now says, "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect_ _ _." Were it not for verse 16, we might be left to wonder at his use of such language. Yet in the light of that verse his meaning seems to be, "If any one of us considers himself to be mature in the things of God, let him set his mind according to that which I have just said; and if he cannot see it this way, God will show it to him." Then he says, "Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained_ _ _," signifying that, although we are not perfect, yet at whatever plateau of maturity we stand, the same rule will work for us. So let us follow the same rule, and keep the same thing in mind. God's rules are such that it is not necessary to have a different rule for each stage of development. One rule fits all.


(Verses 17 through 19) "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)"


Here the apostle gives instructions that are good, not only for the Philippians, but equally so for us today. He first says, "Be followers together of me." He never uses the expression that for a long time has been so popular with some, "Do as I say; and not as I do." He is determined to look only to Jesus the Christ, and follow no one else. So he instructs us to "be followers together" of him. We are to maintain a unity in following him. Then he says, "Mark, (take notice of, and remember,) "them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample." If this instruction is neglected, we are soon in serious trouble, and the apostle's next statement tells us why. "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things". This statement needs no explanation, but it does need far more emphasis than is currently being given to it. The word Paul uses here, and which is translated "destruction" is the same he so often uses, and it means "eternal destruction," not just a temporary casting down, as some would try to tell us.


(Verses 20 and 21) "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."


The reason the apostle instructs us to follow him instead of these other characters whom he describes is obvious, but he, nevertheless, expresses it so that there can be no doubt. Remembering what he has said about them, take notice of what he says here, "For our conversation is in heaven_ _ _." What a contrast! As we remember that "conversation," as Paul uses it, means the entire "lifestyle," not just what we commonly think of as being "conversation." His meaning, no doubt, is that his manner of living is in harmony with, and directed by heaven, which is the home of our Lord, and the place from which He is to come on the great day of the resurrection, in which He, by that wonderful power, whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself, will change even these vile bodies in which we now live, and make them like His own glorious body.

Chapter 4

(Verses 1 through 3) "Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and my crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life."


Verse 1 shows what an intense and fervent love Paul has for the Philippians, and also carries the instruction, "so stand fast in the Lord." This letter, on the whole, is quite different from the two Corinthian epistles. Those were full of rebukes and instructions for correcting errors of both doctrine and practice, while in this the apostle is usually praising the brethren for their obedience to the gospel. However, for their continued spiritual welfare, he cautions them to "stand fast in the Lord." Now appears the only turbulence mentioned in this epistle as being in the church. Evidently there had come up a slight difference of opinion between two members. So Paul says, "I beseech Euodias and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord." Since this is all that is said about the matter, we can safely conclude that their difference has not become a major problem. He does not identify the "true yoke-fellow" whom he next addresses, but evidently the church is well enough acquainted with both Paul and this brother to know of whom he writes. His message is "Help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life". The labor in which these were all involved is not spelled out here for us. It was probably the same as that of the family of Stephanas, of whom he speaks in 1 Corinthians 16:15, and of whom he says, "They have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints," and Sister Phebe, whom he introduced to the church at Rome, (Romans 16:1-2,) saying, "For she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also." There were those among the churches who, though they did not preach the gospel, ministered to the saints, especially those who were in need and those who were persecuted.


(Verses 4 through 7) "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."


No doubt, Paul is somewhat concerned that the Philippians, whom he so fervently loves, will be very downcast because of his imprisonment, and for this reason, among others, he calls upon them to "rejoice in the Lord," then, by way of emphasis, he says, "Again I say, Rejoice." (His experience is such that he knows that, in the time of trouble and distress, the only thing, or person in whom we can rejoice is the Lord.) His next instruction to them is, "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand." Another acceptable translation is, "Show self-control before all men." The last sentence can very well be the apostle's way of reminding them that the Lord is always present, and beholding our manner of living; or, since he shows in so many places that he considers the return of our Lord imminent, it can be a reference to that. His expression, "Be careful for nothing," can be made a little clearer by the use of a more modern manner of saying the same thing, "Do not worry about any thing." Instead of being worried, we are to take every thing to God in prayer and thanksgiving, and leave our worries in His hands. Paul says that, if we will do this, "The peace of God, which passeth understanding, shall keep your minds through Christ Jesus." One of the most precious gifts our Lord gives us is that wonderful peace which He gives in the times of the greatest storms of our lives. It "passeth understanding." This can be looked upon in two ways. First, it "passeth," actually surpasses, or is greater than, understanding. Let us paraphrase 1 Cor. 13:2, "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and knowledge_ _ _ and have not peace, I am nothing". No matter how much understanding one may have, without that wonderful peace of God his life must indeed be miserable. Second, this peace "passeth understanding" in that it is beyond the ability of the wisest man to understand. Nevertheless, Anyone who has ever experienced this peace in times of trouble and sorrow, although he may never understand it, neither will he ever forget the sweetness of it.


(Verses 8 and 9) "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."


As he approaches the close of this letter, Paul sums up his instructions by telling these brethren what to set their minds upon, and how to conduct themselves that they may have the continued presence of the God of peace. No doubt, his instructions are clear enough; but a few comments may not be out of place. We remember that our Lord said, (John 14:6,) "I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life_ _ _." Therefore "whatsoever things are true" must be of Him, and approved by Him. They must be according to His instructions. Certainly those things which are honest, just, and pure, must also be of Him. We often use the word, "lovely," to describe something that is beautiful to the sight, without regard to any other quality. The word used by the apostle is "prosphilas," which means acceptable, or pleasing. So it carries, in this usage, the idea of that which is acceptable, or pleasing to God. Those things which are of good report are those that are declared good by the word of God. He adds to these those things which are of moral goodness, and to the praise of God. Then he commands that we think upon these things, that is, we are to let our minds dwell upon them. Then we are to do such things as are in keeping with his teachings and the examples he has set before us. If we do these things we have the promise, "And the God of peace shall be with you."


(Verses 10 and 11) "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content."


Here Paul is simply expressing his gratitude to these brethren for their care for him, as shown in the gift they have sent him by Epaphroditus. As he speaks of his joy that their care has flourished again, he quickly assures them that he is aware that, lack of opportunity, and not lack of care, is what has prevented their sending this sooner. He reminds them that he rejoiced more for the fact that this was an assurance of their love to him than just for the supplying of his needs. Then he makes a statement that shows a condition of mental attitude that is a wonderful achievement for any servant of God, "For I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content." Few, if any, of us can make such a claim.


(Verses 12 through 14) "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ Which strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction."


Paul continues with the idea expressed in the preceding verse. Not only has he learned to be content in all circumstances, but his experiences have taught him how "both to abound and to suffer need;" that is, He has learned how to conduct himself in both cases. A caution must be observed concerning verse 13. The expression, "I can do all things through Christ Which strengtheneth me," can very easily and readily be changed into a lie if taken out of context. Paul himself denies it in at least two places in his writings, if thus abused. In Romans 7:14-25, he tells us of his experience, how that he can not serve the Lord as he desires; and in Galatians 5:17, he says, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." However, if this verse is kept in context, and given the meaning for which the apostle designed it, it stands forth as a wonderful truth. The key to it all is that, the words Paul used had no reference to doing anything, so far as the accomplishment of anything is concerned. But rather they carry the meaning, "I can endure, or overcome, all things through Christ Who strengthens me"; and this meaning is in perfect accord with the context. Those who do as one man, who took this verse for a text did, are "changing the truth of God into a lie." That man, (I will not honor him by calling him a preacher,) took this verse alone, and from it tried to prove that all we have to do is to make up our minds what we want to do, and Christ will give us the strength to accomplish it. He even "hyped" up his congregation to the point of having them chanting in unison, "I can do anything." A bigger lie can hardly be imagined. Although Paul has declared that he can, through the strength of Christ, endure whatever may be his lot, he tells the Philippians that they have well done their duty by communicating with his affliction.


(Verses 15 through 17) "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia , no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity, Not that I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account."


In his letters to the Corinthians Paul seems to indicate that one reason why he would not receive contributions from any churches other than the Philippians was to prevent his enemies from saying that he was in the ministry for personal gain. We cannot be sure whether or not he had other reasons also, but it is evident, as he here states, that the Philippians are the only ones from whom he received such support. He reminds them of this and explains that he does not do so because he desires a gift, but because he desires fruit that may abound to their account. That is, he desires to see them manifest the proof that their profession of faith is not false, but one that is real, and that produces fruit.


(Verses 18 and 19) "But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."


He tells them that, having received from Epaphroditus their gift, he is full, that is, he has everything he needs; and this sacrifice, (for indeed, since they were mostly poor people, whatever they sent had to be at some sacrifice to themselves,) is acceptable and well pleasing to God. However they will not suffer any deprivation because of it, for God will Himself supply their needs "according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."


(Verses 20 through 23) "Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever, Amen. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."


Certainly this passage needs no explanation; but one phrase, "chiefly they that are of Caesar's household", shows us something about the spread of the gospel. This does not refer to Caesar himself, and probably not to any of his family, as we would consider it, but to his servants, for a man's household, especially that of a great, or wealthy man, consisted of his family and all of his servants. So the gospel had been received by even some of Caesar's servants even in his own palace. Paul, in keeping with his usual manner of closing, prays that the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus may continue with these brethren, and to that says, "So be it."



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