Loving Words of Peace and Joy
Epistle to the Philippians
Note to readers: This series contains some photographs but we have not learned how to include them at this time. The process is quite involved. We intend to insert photos soon so the appropriate spaces are left blank on purpose. Ed.
The Apostle Paul wrote his epistle to Philippi from his confinement in “his own hired house”1 at Rome and had it hand-delivered to the brethren at Philippi by Paul’s trusted and reliable messenger, Epaphroditis (Philippians 2: 25; 4: 18).
We can learn something of this faithful and dependable friend of Paul from Paul’s remarks concerning him.
He was acknowledged as a brother to Paul, a companion in labor and a fellow-soldier – and a messenger from the Philippian Ecclesia who ministered to Paul’s wants (needs), Paul now being entirely dependent upon others to assist him in his ministry.
Epaphroditis recently had brought certain gifts to his brother from the brethren at Philippi, an unidentified gift which Paul describes in 4: 18 as “the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, (and) well pleasing to God.”
In his now meager circumstances (on house arrest) Paul exults that he “(has) all, and abound; I am full,” after having received that loving offering from his brethren.
One might marvel that one in such a case should consider himself as “abounding” in the amenities far inferior to which most of us are accustomed … our own home, a livelihood, a stable community: pins of nominal stability and surety in our lives.
The apostle had none of these – yet he “abounded,” meaning that he was full of praise to God and had been overcome with appreciation for these treasured blessings.
That defined clearly what Paul meant when he stated, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.”
The mystery was adequately solved, its motivation established, as embedded in his next words: “I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4: 12).
The beloved apostle was uncommonly adept at following godly directions!
Even the intensely personal detail of Epaphroditis’ recent illness is reflective of the loving intensity of this epistle – the most caring, concerned, and compassionate of all his letters … his particular notation of Epaphroditis’ concern that his brethren in Macedonia had been disturbed by his serious recent illness and was anxious to hear of his current status.
When we thoughtfully analyze the Epistle to Philippi, we find it to be Paul’s most intimate, most tender communication with his brethren in distant places.
His cherished concern for each of those at Philippi is evident in nearly every phrase. His appreciation is summarized as being “your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,” the seemingly overreaching, heartfelt bond with those brethren which had been established from the day when Paul had first preached the truth to those who pleaded for him “to come over and help us” (Acts 16: 9, 10), in which he had seen in vision “a man” (an angel?) of Macedonia praying him to “Come over into Macedonia and help us,” immediately after which he assayed to do just that.
Turning abruptly about at Troas in his journey eastward, Paul had responded obediently and joyously to that assurance of the Spirit that the Almighty had commanded such an initiative – one that would result in the establishment of some of the strongest and most prominent Ecclesias of Paul’s entire ministry.
That trait in Paul of ready spiritual comprehension and action was what had drawn him into Macedonia initially.
“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, ‘Come over into Macedonia, and help us.’ And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” Acts 16:9, 10.
A Slightly Different Approach to this Epistle
Instead of our usual, immediate, verse-by-verse approach to this study of Paul’s Epistle to Philippi, initially we would rather adopt a more fluid approach to its investigation of Paul’s message to his loving brethren.
Firstly, we would like to establish the physical location of Philippi, and some demographics of its identity according to historians and cartographers.
The producer of these study notes is fortunate to have visited personally and photographed extensively the thorough excavation of the ruins of Philippi while conducting a tour of fellow Bible students to Greece and Turkey around the turn of the 21st century.
Philippi was an important city in ancient time, located on the main road leading from Constantinople to Rome – the Via Egnatia. It connected the Appian Way (Via Appia) in Italy to a ferry spanning the Adriatic Sea and resuming on the western shore of Ilyricum (now Albania).
Paul and all other travelers would have utilized this road many times, and certainly when traveling from Thessalonica to Philippi. (Wikipedia)
The road was constructed in the second century BC and took its name from the Procurator of Macedonia who designed and built it. It served as the major east-west artery for hundreds of years and was built so durably that major portions of it still exist and may be seen today. It is nearly as wide as modern turnpikes (two lanes) and could accommodate the two-way passage of freight wagons and chariots. But its surface was often uneven, violently bouncing the wheels of vehicles and shaking their occupants! Yet the hard surface prevented vehicular slowing by getting stuck in mud or deep sand...
Neapolis is the port city for Philippi located on the northern shore of the Aegean Sea; but Via Egnatia transits both locations. A portion of the present road is seen here at Neapolis.
The city of Philippi is notable for several important features.
It was named for the father of Alexander the Great, Philip of Macedon.
II Corinthians 13: 14 indicates that the Second letter to the Corinthians was written from Philippi.
Here Paul and Silas were jailed for teaching the Gospel but were miraculously delivered from their cell by an angel after much prayer and praise to God. This commentator has personally surveyed an excavated gaol (jail) cell in the extensive, exquisite ruins of Philippi, being able even to thrust his head and upper body into the cramped space (about six by eight feet constructed of roughly cut stones set without mortar) in order better to understand the plight in which Paul and Silas were embroiled.
The actual name of the Apostle Paul has been found in the ruins of Philippi set in colored tiles as part of a large floor mosaic discovered in the city.
The well-excavated and capacious Roman Theater has been repaired and is commonly used today for concerts in the summer season. One plaster panel displays the familiar classical depiction of theater (drama) as a dual, beaming, happy-face and a downcast sad-face in line art.
It was notably in Philippi of Macedonia that Paul made his first European conversion – Lydia of Thyatira (a city in Roman Asia, and one of the seven Ecclesias addressed in The Revelation).
Lydia was a legitimate businesswoman ─ an expatriate (aka “expat”) who had settled in Philippi, a notable city of commerce and learning in eastern Greece of today.
An appropriate memorial dedicated to Lydia may be seen today at the suburban location near the ruins of Philippi, where she is believed to have been baptized into the name of Christ – in the rapidly-flowing River Zygaktis which features occasional deep pools appropriate for complete immersion.
It is not fully correct to describe the memorial as “appropriate” in the context of our unique concept of the Gospel except that it marks this important event. The main building on the site is overly ornate in the Greek Orthodox tradition, festooned with iconography and ornate stained-glass windows, decorated in expensive marble, guarded by tall columns at the entryway. It does not reflect the simplicity of Lydia’s time, and surely violates her sense of appropriateness and propriety if she were alive today.
Greek Orthodox priests administer the site today with their highly stylized and set-in-stone rituals of prayer and incense offerings...
The actual memorial marking the supposed place of Lydia’s immersion is less sumptuous and is flanked by stone tiers for seating the crowds who come here to witness full-immersion baptisms. An ornate stone altar is present for the priests’ use for holding prayer books and other articles. It is unknown whether baptisms into faiths other than Greek Orthodoxy are permitted.
Lydia’s conversion to the gospel is more than remarkable in our opinion. Being specified as a native of Thyatira, she becomes immediately and closely identified with the customs and mores of that city.
Thyatira is especially remembered for its trade guilds which are said to have been more tightly organized than in any other ancient city. Every tradesman (artisan) belonged to a specific guild; each was an incorporated, tightly knit organization. Each possessed property in its own name. Each of these was autonomous, and concluded its own contracts for great construction projects. Each guild yielded wide influence and exerted tremendous impact on its local community and beyond – and tight control over its members.
One of the most influential was the Guild of the Dyers which had innovated its techniques to utilize the madder-root instead of the shell-fish Murex for making its purple dyes. The brilliant color resulting is now known as Turkish Red.
Lydia would have been a member of that guild as a seller of either the dyes themselves or clothing of that vaunted coloration (her specific wares are not defined, being simply “a seller of purple” – Acts 16: 14).
A portion of an entry in Wikipedia explains further (emphasis ours): “The guilds were closely connected with the Asiatic religion of the place (i.e., Thyatira). Pagan feasts, with which immoral practices were associated, were held, and therefore the nature of the guilds was such that they were opposed to Christianity. According to Acts 19: 10, Paul may have preached there while he was living at Ephesus but this is uncertain, yet Christianity reached there at an early time. It was taught by many of the early church that no Christian might belong to one of the guilds, and thus the greatest opposition to Christianity was presented.”
So, Sister Lydia had been no different from all the other pagans who dwelt in Philippi and in all Macedonia with one exception; she may have been a member of the Jewish congregation which met at a convenient place by a river, and may therefore have been in the advantageous position of having a prior knowledge of the God of heaven. But in any case, all these (the Jews included, unfortunately) were “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2: 12.
Her devotion to the plausible teaching of the Apostle Paul changed those conditions in her forever, and perhaps even “broke the ice” for others of her associates or neighbors who were seriously considering this wonderful and unique teaching that was so new to their ready ears…
Details of the Epistle
The opening words of this epistle attribute its authorship to both Paul and Timothy, “the servants of Jesus Christ,” although the work is generally labeled a Pauline epistle, omitting Timotheus as co-author. Epaphroditis (see 4: 23) is signified as courier … but perhaps also as Paul’s amanuensis.
The named association with Timothy illustrates the tight bond between the Apostle Paul and his “son” (an especially warm term of endearment between them) in the faith (I Timothy 1: 18; II Timothy 1:2), one otherwise known as Paul’s brother in Christ.
Philippians 1:1 - Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
The routine use of the word “saints” to indicate all baptized believers of the Gospel belies the more modern (but erroneous) concept of sainthood. The apostate Church appoints only specially selected of its own faithful sycophants to be “saints,” but such is not the scriptural concept.
By full-immersion baptism, everyone is nominated a “saint,” and is so-called because he or she has become sanctified – or dedicated ... set apart from the world and has set himself as a committed servant to the Almighty.
And yes, even though he later may fall into gross sin, he is yet considered a “saint” in this special sense, and shall surely stand before the LORD of all the earth to give account for his deeds whether good or bad (II Corinthians 5: 10). Until he does so appear before the returned Christ, the way is always open to repentance – his turning from sin – and re-adopting the ways of righteousness. In such action there is surely salvation (Ezekiel 18: 27).
Php 1:2 - Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s oft-used salutation indicated his chief concern for his dear brethren in Philippi and in all Macedonia – for the epistle, like others, was probably read widely in the congregations of Berea, Thessaloniki, Athens, and Corinth. His address shows that the structure of the Ecclesial body included some who are named bishops and deacons.
His phraseology “grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” indicates that their beliefs were solid in their fundamental aspects. It denies the concept of the Trinity which had already begun to creep into the household, and is a subject upon which he will comment later in the epistle.
From Paul’s opening words the reader learns that not only is each individual effort to advance the gospel important, but that its spread may be enhanced by helping others like Paul, who were dedicated to its diffusion.
The brethren of the Ecclesia at Philippi had fulfilled that obligation admirably time after time by giving liberally to worthy causes such as relief for the poor brethren at Jerusalem – Romans 15: 26.
In response, Paul offered fervent prayer for his brethren in Macedonia and Achaia – his equals in the conflict with their common enemies – and those who shared in the same loving favor of Christ and His Father.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
Philippians 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
Php 1:4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
These sentiments recall Paul’s admonition to the brethren at nearby Thessalonica: “Pray without ceasing.” 1Thessalonians 5: 17.
Php 1:5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
Fellowship might better be understood as partnership in the sublimest sense. Paul’s spirit was buoyed by his knowledge of the Philippians being equally yoked with him in the promulgation of the Gospel in every way and from their earliest time of stewardship. Their interest in spreading the saving Gospel of Christ was as keen as his.
Php 1:6 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:
They exhibited the admirable quality of persistence against all obstacles; their tendency to finish every good work stood them in good stead with the apostle ... and with Christ, Who shall reward them accordingly in the day of His appearing!
They were “in it for the long haul” as some phrase it today; they would not sell short the precious gift of love that they had received in such copious abundance from the Father’s bounty...
Php 1:7 Even as it is meet (fitting, or suitable) for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart (the Greek word is kardia, meaning thoughts or feelings of the mind); inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
His brethren at Philippi had always shown themselves in complete harmony with his own basic approach to spreading the Gospel of Christ. They were acutely aware of his imprisonment, and the uncertainty of his immediate future. Their concern was as intense as was his: Would he be given the death sentence after his impending trial before Caesar?
In this principle the grace of the Father was spread equally upon all their efforts ... trending to His glory and honor.
Php 1:8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels (the Greek is splagchnon, or Paul’s innermost yearnings for their devotion, which he identifies with the Savior; the current medical term splanchnion is derived from this word, and relates to the viscera or internal organs, and means most central, or deepest of any concept. In another context it is “a gut feeling”) of Jesus Christ.
It is in this most deeply-felt sense that Paul relishes and yearns for the spiritual presence of his brethren in every initiative.
Php 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
There is no surprise that the apostle here prays for that most basic of binding instincts – the love of one for another. It is the tie that binds all his brethren tightly to Paul – and him to them. It is the most basic of all requirements of the fellowship of Christ as defined by the Apostle John – “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” 1John 2:10.
Php 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
The apostle knows that he can expect a high standard from his beloved brethren at Philippi – that they are universally without guile or subterfuge, desiring the best outcome for their brethren and the greatest honor for Christ and His Father.
Php 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
The Philippian brethren, prior to Paul’s arrival on his second missionary journey, had been in darkness concerning God’s will and way, but had become converted by the LORD working through him, to the ways of God – to the way of Light. Like the Ephesians, they had developed the fruit of the Spirit, among the attributes of which are “goodness and righteousness and truth.”
Around the same time, Paul had written these words to Ephesus:
Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness (shady as to principles, and obscure, yea worthless as to godly distinction or spiritual worth), but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
Eph 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
And now continuing his thought before the parenthesis...
Eph 5:10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
Proving is only substantiated by DOING. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” wrote the Apostle James (in James 1:22).
The Advance of the Gospel
Being filled with the “fruits of righteousness” (vs. 11) may bring results that are accomplished in unexpected ways – and by unforeseen circumstances.
Paul’s next words are reminiscent of the comforting words of Joseph to his brethren to whom the newly appointed prime minister of Egypt, Joseph, had just revealed himself to his kinsmen as their brother whom they had treated spitefully (Genesis 45).
Joseph in a dramatic moment of revelation to them, reassured them that for God’s purposes had they sold him into Egypt – so that he could later, from a position of power – save his family from the famine that was raging at the time, and thus preserve in a natural way the heritage of Jacob.
A similar instance in a later time must also be noted: Queen Esther, having just learned of Haman’s evil plot to destroy her people, was counseled by her uncle Mordecai that it will be dependent upon her actions with the king whether the Jews are saved: he wisely counseled, “and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
The apostle recognized this same principle in his own case, and wrote to the brethren at Philippi...
Php 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
The seeming adversity which the apostle had suffered would have a positive effect as he now reassures them. The ways of the Almighty are wonderful and mysterious, and will work to his glory if we pursue them.
Php 1:13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
Those “bonds” were “the hope of Israel” because of which the apostle had previously stated that “that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”
These bonds were not troublesome, but beneficial to the furtherance of the gospel of Christ.
The high profile of Paul as a roving ambassador for Christ – known widely in the Empire – caused many to take note of his circumstances of having been taken prisoner at his own volition (after his appeal to Caesar, knowing the extent of notoriety that this would bring) ... and of awaiting a crucial trial in Caesar’s realm.
Such intense adversity would work for good in the end, as contemporary brethren noted Paul’s example of strength and fortitude. They, themselves, began to conduct their own personal ministries in a similar way, emulating Paul’s fervent spiritual outlook.
Php 1:14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
By their positive responses, the furtherance of the gospel was becoming evident – the boldness exhibited by Paul in his adversity was spurring action rather than passivity or fear among his brethren.
Yes, their motives may have been mixed (some teaching with envy and strife), but the end result was that the Gospel of Christ was being preached intensely – and the name of God elevated by His servants.
But the result was mixed with good will as well ... and here was the sharp contrast plainly described in bas-relief...
Php 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
Php 1:16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
Php 1:17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
Note the opposition of motivations in this statement...
The apostle comments on this principle of envy and strife as being present among some of the teachers of the Gospel – his contemporaries – in the next chapter (3: 14-18).
We cannot be certain of this probability, but the apostle is probably revealing here that some are teaching that Paul’s predicament (being in prison) is a device of his own making ... perhaps for his own aggrandizement by making him the object of widespread sympathy – and that it will work to his disadvantage.
There he writes of the mystery of such a contrast – the ill will of such an attitude as opposed to the loving, concerned mien of those who teach the Gospel being imbued with the wisdom that is from above.
The Apostle James addresses the same concept. His remarks summarize in a few words the implications of both motivations:
Jas 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation (Greek: anastophe, or behavior) his works with meekness of wisdom.
Jas 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
The concept here is that their works belie their faith. Their words do not measure up to their observed deeds ... and its motivation (or source) is evil:
Jas 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
Jas 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
Jas 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
Jas 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
It is difficult to understand just why some would indulge in this corrupt and abominable practice – preaching the Truth of God out of envy, unless it would result in self-aggrandizement.
Indeed, it is difficult to visualize precisely what its nefarious nature really was, but we suspect that its spiritual variance, or “drift,” had intimately to do with the rapidly approaching compromise of the Gospel of salvation by some preachers who “changed the truth of God into a lie” (cf., Romans 1: 25) resulted in the distinct favor being expressed back toward the corrupt principles of Babylonian and Egyptian “religion.”
We see a depressing picture of such behavior drawn in Ezekiel 34, nearly the entirety of which is consumed with this conduct: “Because ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad;” Ezekiel 34:21.
We must understand that the Almighty has a permanent solution to such errant behavior, and it begins in the next verse of Ezekiel 34:
Eze 34:22 Therefore will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle.
In these cited passages the prophet is addressing the deplorable conditions contemporary with his own time, when the priests and elders were corrupt, serving their own wants and fleshly needs at the expense of their brethren. That sad state was resolved by Assyria and by Babylon with the overthrow of their realms and the captivity of their people...
But when such conduct is being exhibited among the brethren of Christ, as in Paul’s time ... and in ours, the same solution will be applied in principle, but with a far more favorable result.
And, in the end- time He shall “save My flock,” by sending His Son back into the earth, first for the immediate salvation of all those who of all ages have striven to follow Him in all His ways ... to do his bidding in every matter ... to think His thoughts and to do His deeds.
After that great deliverance of millions (cf., Daniel 7: 10 and Revelation 5:11) of righteous followers, He shall then intervene personally as the Multitudinous Christ in the geopolitical strife that is even now being endured by His returning People (Isaiah 59: 19-21), delivering them, too, from their enemies and those who despise them (Luke 1: 71, 74).
We readily accept that in both cases, the “furtherance of the Gospel” was and shall be accomplished ... all to the glory and majesty of the Father of both natural and spiritual Israel ... terminating in the glorious establishment of His everlasting Kingdom among the kingdoms of the world!
To Live Is Christ
Now, continuing with the apostle’s stream of thought, he poses the question: What is the ultimate meaning of these things? How do they advance the preaching of the Gospel of Christ?
Php 1:18 What then? Not withstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
Php 1:19 For I know that this shall turn to (result in) my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ...
Paul had written before this time in his life to the very Ecclesia in which he now functioned (Rome) and to which he now ministered from prison, this profound truth: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.
The ultimate effect of this spiritual uplift was the increased preaching of the Gospel of Christ, which should work a good work in myriad ways...
Php 1:20 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.
Paul’s statement of reality here is not a plea for sympathy from anyone; and it is not the utterance of a martyr. Instead, it is a BOLD (as he admits) account of the certainty of the final result – the outcome of his most intense efforts to serve God ... unashamedly and without reticence to proclaim Him and His mission to every man.
The result of his plight is all good.
Either endpoint will have its advantages.
Stating clearly the alternatives, he leaves that election to His Father...
Php 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Php 1:22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
Php 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
Many misunderstand this statement by the apostle out of hand, believing that he is voicing a desire to “depart” (or die) and go up to heaven to “be with Christ.”
He is making no such petition.
Paul, as is true with all knowledgeable Believers, reject that principle upon his and their understanding of Jesus’ words in John 14:3, where he is quoted by John at the Last Supper, proclaiming His solemn promise: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am (i.e., back on earth!), there ye may be also.
Paul’s stark realization was that, if he should die, he would go down into Sheol (hell, hades, an hidden place; the grave) to sleep in Christ as did Stephen who succumbed to the stoning at Jerusalem (Acts 7: 60), and in line with the apostle’s own clarification of the state of the dead in Christ recorded in 1Thessalonians 4:15 - For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (i.e., be resurrected from the death state) them which are asleep.
Having said that, the apostle realizes that his continued existence among them in the living state is more needful and beneficial to them:
Php 1:24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
Php 1:25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
That alternative to his death would have decided benefits for his brethren, and would involve his return to them in person if it be God’s will...
Php 1:26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
Php 1:27 Only let your conversation (your conduct) 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;
This expectation is Paul’s most fervent desire – that they serve together with one mind ... without rancor or dissonance or any such clamor of disunity ... as well as without fear of any opponent or challenger of the Gospel of Christ.
This advantage shall accrue to all those who cultivate and exhibit faith by “standing fast” in one Spirit and in one Faith – the only valid and effective defense against the “perdition” (ruin) that will be suffered by some brethren.
Php 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition (Greek, apoleia; loss or ruin), but to you of salvation, and that of God.
Php 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Likely, due to his own wide experience, Paul cautions here that “suffering” for His sake will be a requirement in their lives, too.
But his admonition, inherent in his next words, was that they should take heart and bear up in this tribulation, having seen it as a spiritually profitable experience as exhibited against the beloved Apostle to the Gentiles nearly throughout his entire spiritual lifespan.
Php 1:30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
In this expectation, the apostle reminds his brethren of the principle about which he had earlier written, that he was confident of this: “...that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ....” Verse 6, above.
<HEL> February 8, 2021. ~5500 words. Studies in Philippians, chapter one.
The apostle now continues in his theme of brethren being of one spirit, of having one mind, and striving together for the faith of the Gospel. Such a cadre of believer will inevitably bravely face their adversaries who seem intent on thrusting and shoving at their brethren with malice.
Their common spiritual bond of such gentility is the ultimate agent which unites a community such as theirs (and ours), so it is a natural and logical progression of thought, that he urges his dear brethren in Philippi always to maintain that united spiritual stance ... because the benefits are noteworthy.
Philippians 2:1 If there be therefore any consolation (this word is paraklesis in Greek, meaning solace, and comfort – but there is a distinct element of exhortation also included: a teaching component that is immeasurable in value to those who would be heirs of salvation. If there be any consolation) in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels (the deepest, heartfelt satisfaction) and mercies,
Php 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
His counsel is propriety, and diligence of the highest spiritual order – urging their cultivation of these noble traits by the deeply righteous siblings of the Savior Himself, prompting their mimicking His own loving character of first caring for others.
The great joy that Paul senses in their like-mindedness brings him great spiritual joy – satisfaction of purpose – in their expression of concord with him.
The benefits are uniquely mutual, presenting a strong, united front to the surrounding world of pagan Rome.
Any other course of conduct, such as one might offer through strife or vainglory, is a distinct betrayal of one’s calling in Christ Jesus.
Spiritual modesty is Paul’s urgent admonition...
He therefore counsels the humble, self-effacing, deeply devoted manner of interpersonal relations, which he calls “lowliness of mind” – an attitude in which each esteems others better than himself, always helpful and supportive, never hypercritical or finding fault ... not inferior or mediocre, or even ordinary, in any sense.
In the deepest sense, lowliness of mind is an expression of ultimate meekness – the basic trait which results in their ultimate “inheritance of the earth” (Matthew 5: 5).
Php 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
The consequent result is that every man considers the advantage of his brother before he considers his own advantage in any transaction, be it social, financial, or spiritual. The roadmap to such accomplishment is described in his next phrases...
Php 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
By this statement, Paul is not advocating the envious acquisition of others’ property or goods; instead, he is advising each to look upon the “things” of his neighbor with the same protective attitude as he should upon his own “things” or possessions ... including the property, the camels, the oxen and the asses of his field, his children, and the wives and husbands of their brethren. All were to be respected and protected as one’s own property.
That was concisely the mindset that Jesus exhibited:
Php 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
The argument is being made here that Jesus was not jealous of His Father in His position of supremacy over all ... including Himself.
A son is never deemed greater than his father; that is true not only on a personal level but in the spiritual realm as well. That was Jesus’ mindset. He gave no glory to himself, but all glory to His Father.
So the apostle makes the obvious point that Jesus, although He exhibited all the righteous characteristics of the Father, did not deem Himself to be equal with His Father.
That self-effacing principle was in the mind of Jesus when He spoke about doing the Father’s will (works), reasoning that none should trust His claims to be God’s Son if He did not practice the works of the Father ... His mindset and purpose among Jesus’ fellows.
On the other hand, if they could perceive that Jesus was consistently doing the works of the Father, although they might not readily believe His oral statements, they should believe the operational validity of His life and works – that they were the works of God and were being executed because of His love for God.
In this way they should have been able to perceive that the Father was “in Me” in the same way that YHVH was “in the angel” that led Joshua into the Land of Promise...
Moses faithfully recorded the message of the Almighty in Exodus...
Exodus 23:20 “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him. 22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.”
The angel in a certain sense was identical with the Father in his assigned role. To see the angel was tantamount to seeing God.
It was the same with Jesus during His ministry; His conduct and preaching were dictated by His Father, therefore were identical with the ideals of His Father in every sense. And in this special sense, to see Jesus was to “see the Father” as He proclaimed in John 6: 46 and John 14: 9.
In that simple logic Jesus clarified the vision of Philip, His long-time companion and fellow worker.
The next words of Jesus (John 14: 10) as recorded by John reflect the principle of a living testimony as exhibited by Jesus: he invariably worked the work of His Father so there was no reason to deny His statements of Truth and promises of better things in future store for His devout followers.
Because of His WORKS, everyone could trust His WORDS.
His conduct validated his words in every sense...
Jesus’ brother in the flesh, James, expressed that same principle in his epistle: James 2:18 “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
The differentiating contrast between words and works is therefore seen to be the testimony voiced by the WORKS – one’s manifest conduct among other men...
Finally, Jesus Himself confirmed the validity of the same principle:
Joh 10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
Joh 10:38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
We contend that it is in this same context that Jesus denied being God, but vigorously identified Himself as the SON of God ... not as GOD the Son.
But without any presumption whatever, Jesus then brings the concept full circle when he proclaimed this intimate association that he had with His Father in these words: “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” John 5:23.
Our understanding can then be established as to the next words as stating the principle that Jesus was not emulating the character of His Father (in God manifestation) in order to make others believe He was equal with His Father but was conducting His life in this manner because He knew that such was His Father’s expressed will.
Php 2:6 Who, being in the form of God (Genesis 1:26 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:”), thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
It was for this specific reason that Jesus demonstrated the service aspect of His character at the Last Supper when He girded Himself with a towel and washed the feet of the disciples.
He thus illustrated in works His claim to be a mere man, although yet Son of God – and of the same nature as His brethren. That dedication to humility led eventually to the stake of death which was erected at Golgotha upon which He offered the ultimate sacrifice of a life purified by righteous living and pure thoughts (works and words).
His self-effacement is therefore made more than visible to all...
Php 2:7 But made himself of no reputation (the meaning of the Greek word (kenoo) is a reflexive verb meaning to make Himself empty), and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
[Note: please do not consult Bullinger’s Companion Bible on this verse because, as a Trinitarian, he wastes several lines of his side notes “proving” the “divinity” of Christ when no such reality exists. In his extensive Appendices in the CB, he admits that the Bible does not teach the validity of the Trinity (three gods in one) but asserts that he believes the principle because some of the Bible seem to point in that direction!]
Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself (meaning that His entire life was lived in abject humility!), and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
It was directly due to this mindset in Jesus (Note the conjunction “Wherefore” in the next verse) that led directly to His elevation by His Father (and not by His own volition) to the right hand of His Father, there to make intercession for His weaker, condemned brethren – that in HIS NAME we might have salvation.
Php 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (note: He did not exalt Himself...).
Php 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
[This elevated position of Jesus was conferred upon Him by His Father, not self-originated in any wise. This principle would show subservience of one “co-eternal” Being to another “co-eternal” Being – an impossibility...]
Php 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
That last phrase bears directly upon the purpose for which He was brought forth – to glorify His Father; that is our purpose, too...
Php 2:12 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.
To “work out” your salvation in this usage is not to accomplish it by works of any law or set of rules although observance of such is an integral part of the process, the “works” substantiating the words.
It is more meaningful to think of this “working out” of salvation as a thoughtful course of life in the context of the Will of our Father – humbling one’s self in submission to His global interest in righteousness and in deep-seated faith in Him and His provision for His servants – those who have dedicated their lives to His service and ends, who have not deviated in their hearts from that mindset.
One may easily see that same principle of our Father being “in” each of His servants – His called and elected sons and daughters – by their manifestation of His thoughts and intentions in their daily conduct. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” wrote the proverbist (Proverbs 23: 7).
Such an approach by every Believer brings our Father into the process in an intimate way, creating within our breasts a more meaningful certainty to the outcome of our pitiful lives.
As God was “in Christ” during His ministry, so will He be “with us” if we invite him without restraint, and in that way it really is “God which worketh in you both theoretically (guided by one’s will, or intentions) and functionally (guiding our doing).
Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
From personal experience, the apostle advises the gentlest, most thoughtful, considerate, and peaceful approach to our lives.
Php 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
Php 2:15 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;
Such a gentle attitude does not preclude standing firmly for the faith, disputing wrong doctrines or erroneous conduct; but it counsels gentility and singular dedication in one’s interpersonal affairs.
The Master recognized the hazards that would be faced by His faithful brethren, but counseled, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16.
Those who so conduct their lives will ultimately be successful in presenting the Word of life to all men ... and this is the fervent wish expressed in the phrase “that I may rejoice in the day of Christ....”
Php 2:16 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.
That sentiment certainly presents his ambition for his brethren on the highest of planes, for we surely remember similar expressions of purpose in the prophecy of Isaiah about the righteous Servant that should deliver his people: “He shall see (the results) of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:” Isaiah 53:11.
Paul’s fervent wish was identical...
We get the sense that the enormity of Jesus’ work and sacrifice will not have His own deepest appreciation until the returned Jesus looks upon the “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Daniel 7: 10; Revelation 5: 11) of the redeemed, and is able, in one vast overview, to appreciate most fully the gigantic impact of the work that He worked among his brethren!
Php 2:17 Yea, and if I be offered (poured out, as a drink offering – Bullinger) upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
Paul, it appears, would even consider being sacrificed (poured out) by them if that were required in the execution of their faithful service.
The statement shows the great depth of determination in Paul that Christ is served by every motion of their faith.
He asserts that their cause is the same as his; that brings rejoicing that the will of the Father is done...
Php 2:18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
Paul returns again and again to the core concern ... his love for his brethren at Philippi and his concern for them.
They cannot be present with him in Rome, and he realizes that full well.
His alternative is to send Timothy (as well as Epaphroditis – vs. 25) to visit Philippi and its Ecclesia to learn of their state of being – that they may reassure Paul of their continuing dedication to the things of the Spirit.
The words are an indication of his extremely close association with Philippi and his intimate concern for their spiritual wellbeing.
Php 2:19 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.
Php 2:20 For I have no man likeminded (no one of equal mind, or concern, other than Timothy), who will naturally care for your state.
We understand from these phrases that there is no one whom Paul trusts more than his fellow servant, Timotheus. Indeed, he suspects that many (nearly all?) others “seek their own” ends, and thus leave the service of Jesus Christ in second place.
Php 2:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.
But there is another reason that he is sending Timothy: the Ecclesia in Philippi knows him intimately, and trusts him as a “son” of Paul, expressing the same intimate relationship as an offspring to his parent – the deepest affection and respect.
His next statement bears this out...
Php 2:22 But ye know the proof (the experience – Romans 5: 4. Timothy is a veteran in Christ’s service who has proven himself to all men, in Paul’s estimation) of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
There is no person who Paul holds more dear or faithful than Timothy in their common dedication and service to the LORD.
Php 2:23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
Php 2:24 But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
It is almost certain that this fervent hope was never realized by Paul...
Php 2:25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
Epaphroditis, as a native member of the Ecclesia at Philippi, is intimately known and loved by them; therefore he is the fulfilling component of the mission of Timothy to them. Paul reassures his brethren that Epaphroditis has maintained his love and interest in their common work, and that their connection to them has never wavered.
Php 2:26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
As remarked in chapter one, these phrases are indications of Paul’s deepest concern for the brethren at Philippi, and recognition of their heartfelt feeling for their brother Epaphroditis, who it seems in some way has made himself seriously ill by his service in the missionary work.
Php 2:27 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.
In our opinion, this statement of the depth of Epaphroditis’ illness and the recognition that it was reversed by the mercy of the Almighty, proves that we, too, should so evaluate similar illnesses or other difficulties of ourselves and our dear brethren in the same light; we should voice our certainty that rectification and healing is brought by the direct intervention of our Father in many cases. Such faithful testimony brings glory to His name, and recognizes His constant care for His dear children in their natural (and spiritual, temporal) lives.
Php 2:28 I sent him therefore the more carefully (glossed as “diligent” by Bullinger, CB) that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
Even though the absence of Epaphroditis will be a drawback to Paul, he is sending his fellow laborer “diligently” on this mission because of its importance to Paul’s wellbeing. Others will be required to make up for Epaphroditis’ absence.
Php 2:29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation (as honorable, and esteemed):
There is extremely good reason for expecting their gladness; Epaphroditis’ illness was brought on by his diligence in the “work of Christ,” which no man should denigrate or diminish.
Paul’s seeming scornful remark about their “lack of service towards me” might seem harsh if it was valid, but the meaning is more perfectly understood as a logical observation: “Paul’s joy at their kind ministration lacked one thing, their personal presence. This, Epaphroditis, their messenger, supplied,” (per Bullinger).
Php 2:30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
Translators today supply the more contemporary meaning of these words. Students are fortunate to have the resource of some older scholars who can illuminate the otherwise obscure intention of such phrases as this...
The renowned translator and commentator James Moffat concurs with this meaning. His version of Philippians 2:28-30 is here presented:
“So I am specially eager to send (Epaphroditis), that you may be glad when you see him again, and thus my own anxiety may be lightened. 29 Give him a welcome in the Lord, then, with your hearts full of joy. Value men like that, 30 for he nearly died in the service of Christ by risking his life to make up for the services you were not here to render me.”
The last phrase is not a rebuke, but a recognition of stark reality. No criticism is implied.
<HEL> ~3,500 words. Studies in Philippians, Chapter Two. Dated February 12, 2021.
Philippians, Chapter Three
Paul, the Example for His Brethren
The apostle now begins the conclusion of his supportive letter, voicing his deepest desire in these words: “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.” Philippians 4:9
A good teacher teaches by example – and Paul is one of the best...
His next phrases contain subtle references to the danger of the Judaisers who are among them – those who wish to retain portions of the Law of Moses along with the standards of salvation taught by Jesus.
One of the outstanding requirements upon which they insisted was circumcision of the flesh.
So Paul assures them that his message is and has been consistent – the message of Jesus Christ ... of the new covenant; not of the old. That message is what assures their safety. It is a privilege that is not worrisome or troublesome to this former staunch member of the sect that is called the Pharisees. He has shed all that baggage in his conversion at Damascus and has left it entirely behind. They must not adopt those un-saving tenets – those requirements which have been nailed to the stake of Christ’s death, and therefore have been done away...
Php 3:1 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.
His next words address directly “the concision,” or the cutting-off or mutilations of the heathens. It is the only occurrence of the word in the N.T., and it shows Paul’s emphasis as being parallel in the new order of things to the similar requirement contained in the Law – circumcision.
If so, this is one of the strongest indications that Paul intended such double-entendre by the distinct use of this word to show his repudiation of the Jewish practice of circumcision as being a throwback ... insisted upon by some as fundamental doctrine in his day. If so, it illustrates his firm conviction that the Judaisers are “dogs ... evil workers.”
Php 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
He wastes no words in drawing the clear contrast between the circumcision of the Law as opposed to the “circumcision” of Christ’s followers. Claiming that “WE are the (true) circumcision” he states ... We who worship God in the Spirit (not by works of the flesh), and that this is the TRUE “cutting off” that is required by Christ – the separation from the world that the true Christian takes upon himself by the sanctification of full immersion in water in the name of Christ.
Such folk are wholly dedicated to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, and have left the practices of the flesh as ineffectual for salvation.
Php 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (i.e., the works of the flesh as exemplified in the Law).
He insists, “WE are the (true) circumcision” having separated ourselves from the works of the flesh and of sin, rejoicing in Christ Jesus.
Paul’s next words might at first seem confusing until we realize that he is now referring to his former status as a “Pharisee of the Pharisees,” vehemently upholding all that sect’s teachings, even to the violent persecution of those who are now his fellow-believers in Christ.
Php 3:4 Though I might also have (have had?) confidence in the (works of the) flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more (or moreso – pointing to his former state of mind):
So that no one can misunderstand, he now reiterates his deeply-grounded, former, traditional stance as a Pharisee...
The litany is entirely contrary in every sense to the principles that he now knows to be vital ... and salvational...
Php 3:5 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;
Php 3:6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Paul had been a “model” Pharisee: righteous in his own eyes; blameless; guileless; zealous, and entirely exemplary as a “godly” man, and better than most every other man in his own eyes, formerly!
But now he draws the stark contrast between then and now...
Php 3:7 But what things were (at that time) gain to me (as a Pharisee), those I counted loss for Christ.
Php 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things (of that former order of things) but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all (those former) things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Php 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that (righteousness) which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (faith being contrasted with the works of the Law):
It is important for the student to understand that the “righteousness “ of which Paul here speaks is not his OWN righteousness, but that of Christ Jesus, which has been imputed to him by his ready, humble acceptance of the teachings of Christ, and his abrupt conversion and baptism into the saving name of Christ.
In the fourth of Romans, Paul writes extensively of the faith of Abraham, saying, “Abraham believed God (i.e., had faith in God), and it was counted unto him for (or imputed to him as) righteousness.” Romans 4: 3.
As every student of the word realizes, this imputation of righteousness to Abraham was made well before the giving of the Law of Moses at Sinai. It thus pre-dated that comprehensive set of rules that no man could possibly obey ... and which did not offer redemption of any kind more than temporal life in the land. Although being the oldest Covenant (predating the Law) it is enigmatically referred to as the New Covenant; it is our covenant with Him even today.
Later in that same chapter, Paul draws tightly the drawstring of the closure of his argument that Christ’s righteousness is IMPUTED to us as an operation of the same principle...
Rom 4:23 Now it was not written for his (Abraham’s) sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
Rom 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
Rom 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
The grandeur of this assertion is pervasive. We often seem not to make this vital connection to that unique benefit of the imputation of His righteousness to us at baptism.
That required ritual connects each of us closely with Abraham, for it is an expression of the same brand of faith that Abram had ... the firm conviction that what He has promised, He is also willing and able to perform.
That act of immersion into Christ is the same assertion that was affirmed by Abraham, and connects each of today’s believers WITH Abraham and his brand of faith – and constitutes each of us as heirs of the promises made TO Abraham ... promises of the Land forever, and life in it forever.
We must realize that stark fact and the unfathomable implications of it, for it is at the innermost core of our destiny.
And there, also, is laid out for all to accept, the operation of God’s grace to us-ward who believe – the imputation of (or the labeling of us with) His righteousness, for we have none of our own!
That is a point upon which Paul dwells elsewhere, in Romans 8:3, stating the most powerful feature of that superior Plan – “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:”
It is our considered understanding that the principle stated here is entirely effective in removing the curse of death placed upon Adam after his transgression, which was “Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.” (Genesis 3: 19). Those words sealed the penalty which the Almighty had earlier enunciated (Genesis 2: 17), that if Adam and Eve should eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, “thou shalt surely die,” a better translation of which seems to be “dying, thou shalt die.”
Death would be Adam’s destiny, not just a possibility. Adam’s sin changed Adam’s basic nature to a dying nature. Our conviction is that, prior to that, the way was open in either direction: he could have obeyed God and inherited life at some point (?), or, as it happened, he could transgress and be certain of death.
But an effective provision was made for the atonement of Adam’s sin, which was symbolized by his and Eve’s nakedness; God slew animals and covered their sin.
The benefits of this magnificent provision are without limit or scope: indeed the extent of further possibilities is without any constraint or boundary...
Php 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable (details of which are outlined in verse 21, below) unto his death;
Php 3:11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
We must notice particularly that the Greek word for “resurrection” here is not the ordinary one employed to describe the raising of one from the death state back to mortal life. That word is Anastasis.
But the Greek word in this sentence is Exanastasis, or a standing out from among the dead ones (i.e., separating from all those who are existing in mortality – the state of the certainty of death), and indicates the elevation of a mortal to immortality. Immortality is a state of certain LIFE ... unending life.
It is the only resurrection of much significance because the recipients of Anastasis can die again and sink into eternal oblivion, or hades.
The concept therefore offers the prospect of a much greater reward than merely being raised from the grave ... ultimate possibilities that mere humans cannot possibly imagine, in our opinion!
But initially, it offers the prospect of a secondary rising, following one’s appearance at the Judgment Bar – a rising to immortality, or perfection, by His grace.
Paul states his deep appreciation for this feature of his life – that he has been apprehended, or grabbed up, by Christ, and that the prospects of immortality are more than favorable!
Php 3:12 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.
Firstly, it is obvious that Paul is here disclaiming any certainty of his own salvation in contrast to the claim of many that “once a person has been 'saved,’ he or she is always saved,’ and that there is no possibility of failure to attain immortality.”
Paul admits that he has not “attained” perfection, but that the pathway to that destiny is now open to “apprehension,” or attainment ... but that it is yet to BE obtained.
If that is so for Paul, how much more so for us?
The concept involves principles far loftier than one might at first imagine. Note carefully the juxtaposition of Christ’s “apprehension” (capture) of Paul as compared to his response ... that requirement being to comply or submit to that “apprehension” which is own willingness to BE apprehended!
This circular argument absolutely closes any doubt to the theory that we are individually called, chosen, and elected by our Master; it is to our great advantage to respond positively to that fact of His willingness to “capture” us!
The fact is that it is not primarily we who have “accepted Christ,” but that it is He Who has selected US, and brought us out of the world of darkness into His marvelous light, making future life possible.
The volition, the initiative, has been Christ’s all along ... not ours... that vital action of our “calling.
The pointed words of the Apostle Peter attest to that fact: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” 1Peter 2:9.
To reiterate: Paul is not one to boast. He shows no arrogance in admitting that his final approval (“apprehension”) is not yet certain, it is a mark toward which all God’s children must “press toward,” or seek diligently.
His next words express that hope:
Php 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended (not stated in the past tense: it is not yet accomplished!): but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind (we believe his is recalling his failed career carried forth within the impossible confines of Moses’ Law – his “old” life), and reaching forth unto those things which are before (the bright prospects of eternal life in Christ Jesus),
Php 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
This vital contest – this race for the prize – is not considered by Paul already to have been won; but it is the object of his most fervent hope, this “high calling” of God in, or through, Christ Jesus.
Php 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect (Greek, teleios, not meaning already BEING perfect, but becoming perfect; the word has a progressive component indicating a certain hoped-for end: perfection), be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
It would seem that Paul’s meaning in this last phrase is that in such a person’s ongoing career in the LORD, his careful introspective mien, and his constant prayer, would reveal any lethal flaws that should need to be addressed and corrected.
All the above considerations, however, are not to negate the apostle’s already attained progress in the things of the Spirit. His basic “rule” has long since been established by personal instruction from Jesus Himself after his recovery from the inflicted blindness of Damascus; his task now is to follow this pathway carefully and diligently...
Php 3:16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
He recognizes in this ambition that he must strive constantly to set a good example for his brethren, and admonishes them humbly to follow his paradigm.
As already considered, he is building his case toward the pointed goal expressed in chapter four, verse nine: “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.” Philippians 4:9
We must not conceive this instruction to be an expression of arrogance on Paul’s part. Instead, it is a faithful admonition for his brethren to “do as you see me do” in all things – devotedly emulating his faithful conduct in all their lives...
Php 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
His next words concern a few (?) who do not so conduct their lives. He defines these as “enemies” of the stauros (a stake or post, as set upright: not a “cross” as we now see it depicted, but a stout, tall pole upon which one was crucified in Roman times – Strong G4716).
Php 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross (stauros) of Christ:
The figure of the stauros is used, of course, as representative of the redemption that was brought about by the loving sacrifice of Christ on the tree at Golgotha, and the salvation that results from that offering.
Such shall have their reward, these adversaries of Christ...
The resultant contrast is of the largest magnitude away from the rewards of righteousness. Their end is clearly that of being thrown into the lake of fire along with death and hell – a graphic, metonymic figure of the finality – the utter obliteration, the destruction – of all these adversaries of God and His Son “which is the second death.” Revelation 19: 20; 21: 8.
Php 3:19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
On the obverse, more favorable side of that coin, is engraved the fate of the righteous, whose conversation (or, general conduct) is consistently focused on the principles given them from heaven – from our heavenly Father personally through His Spirit (word) and His Son.
And that splendid goal shall be achieved at the Second Coming of the LORD from heaven – our Savior ... Who shall work a work in His approved ones which shall alter their destiny for all time, making their vile bodies like unto His already glorious body.
Only in such a state are the righteous ones equipped to give assistance to their LORD in His coming worldwide crusade which shall result in the obeisance of everyone remaining on the earth ... their submission to His Will and Way in that glorious day of peace, of righteousness, and of tranquility.
Php 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
It is notable that the word translated “conversation” here is Greek politeuma, meaning citizenship: politeuma – the seat and source of the future government of which we are (then) citizens, or polités, of which we have both rights and responsibilities – Bullinger f.n. on the verse.
As such it reflects the heavenly character which shall be the hallmark of Christ’s earthly Kingdom beginning at Jerusalem.
From that center of government the Messiah and Savior of Israel both natural and spiritual shall act swiftly to subdue the earth and do away with all the vile elements of ungodliness and iniquity – and dedicate it to the glory of His heavenly Father.
And all men shall know Him from the least to the greatest!
That certain destiny is outlined briefly in the last verse of this wonderful revelation of the Almighty’s will for man and His glorious earth.
Php 3:21 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.
<HEL> ~3,150 words. Dated February 13, 2021. Studies in Philippians, Chapter Three.
Philippians, Chapter Four
The blessed conditions of salvation attained, reflected in the last verse of chapter three, can only come about through one faithful pathway – their focused, devoted attention to His Way of life...
Php 4:1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown (Greek, stephanos)so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
Paul’s usage of stephanos here is especially interesting. The article is a chaplet – a badge of royalty, or of a winner in the public games of the day, a badge of honor. It marks winners of a special race ... that race in which Paul has already stated that he is engaged in (as are they): pressing forward (racing) for it, he says (Philippians 3: 14) “I press (race) toward the mark (the finish line) for the prize (here the word is from Greek: brabeion – a prize in the public games) of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
The resultant reward could not be symbolized to the spiritual community in more appropriate, common terms as being similar to the temporal crown of the winners in the games that they knew so well.
The key difference is that THAT crown perishes, being made of laurel leaves wreathed together, but OUR CROWN (spephanos) is eternal...
Php 4:2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (in the sense of ‘mind the same things’).
Both proper names addressed here are female and probably indicate a minor (?) schism in the Philippian Ecclesia stirred up by these women. It seems to be a rather minor degree of reproach leveled at them...
This admonition is a repetition of chapter 2: 2, 3 and 3: 16, q.v.
His cautionary words of I Corinthians 1: 10 are much like this one but includes an additional stipulation: “that there be no divisions among you.”
We of today perhaps should pay more diligent heed to that plea...
Php 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow (this is an ambiguous reference; it is not known who is indicated), help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other (i.e., the rest of) my fellowlabourers , whose names are in the book of life.
It is important here to note Paul’s intentional inclusion of the women who have aided him in his work. In stressing their roles, he is departing from his earlier training as a staunch Pharisee and their apparent stress on men as the main factors in God’s work.
The consequent enrollment of their names in the book of life is paramount in the consciousness of the apostle.
That enrollment in that “book” is the chief thrust of his spiritual life as he travels widely about the Empire, recruiting intense new acolytes to the Gospel of Christ Jesus.
His next remarks are aimed at every member of the congregation at Philippi...
Php 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Php 4:5 Let your moderation (your forbearance, or mildness, and patience) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
We believe Paul’s meaning here relates to the nearness of the Savior to each of them as they severally walked their personal pathways of salvation. The Master had assured his disciples much earlier in that century that “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13: 5).
Php 4:6 Be careful (in the sense of not being anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
The steady, consistent application of prayerful supplication will allay their anxiety; “prayer changes things” as the saying goes, and like all clichés, has deeply rooted meaning supporting its familiar structure.
The practice of constant prayer will have a consistent effect; it will convey a calming, peaceful blessing upon those who practice it diligently.
Php 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. That commodity of godly tranquility is surely an untroubled mind, clear as to creed and purpose, steadfast, unmovable, convicted...
The following verse is outstanding in its comprehensiveness – its litany of wonderfully godly characteristics of the Believer. It is somewhat parallel to the fruit of the Spirit although an entirely different (but complementary) list of traits: “... love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5: 22,23)
Note, please, the separate elements...
Php 4:8 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.
That sober admonition is immediately followed by an humble, sincere (not arrogant in any way, or boastful) urging of his yokefellows: these things “which ye (have) ... seen in me, DO.”
His place as a role model shall be invaluable to them, if they “think on these things” and therefore, DO them.
And just what ARE those “things?”
Php 4:9 Those things, which ye ... both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
Repeatedly, Paul’s emphasis has been placed on DOING, rather than simply SEEING alone...
The Philippians’ Solicitude for Paul
Php 4:10 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.
In these words we learn of some past shortfall in the Philippians’ care for Paul. It seems to be information that we cannot corroborate by any other writing and seems mysterious. His brethren had fallen short of his needed support in some manner.
But the apostle is not deterred. He reassures them...
Php 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
Those words indicate that Paul was adept at stifling further seeking of additional benefits beyond those which he had liberally been given. He was by no means a voracious hunter in that regard...
Php 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed (the Greek term is museo, meaning literally, t0 have been initiated into the secret –Bullinger) both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
This scholarly gloss on museo reveals a certain air of mystery in the statement. It uncovers a degree of special enlightenment and delegation given Paul specifically as that word is indeed the source of the noun musterion, or mystery, in English.
To our mind it harkens back to the very special manner in which Paul was summoned to his lifelong service in Christ, and relates to the singularly miraculous nature and high caliber of that calling.
The Almighty has literally placed His hand upon Paul and taken him out of his former life in order to use him as an instrument to enlighten the Gentiles.
The result has been uncommon dedication to the things of the Spirit in Paul’s life – enabling the “all things” of his present struggle and his entirely adverse circumstances at Rome. He continues...
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Whatever their earlier shortfall on Paul’s behalf, the Ecclesia has rebounded, to their honor.
Php 4:14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
Paul’s next words hint at one of the major steps that had been taken by his Philippian brethren in their attention to his collection of funds for the needy as he had left them earlier to travel to Thessalonica.
They had joined willingly with the brethren of all Macedonia and Acacia and had given liberally to his cause both then and later, when he had collected funds for the poor saints at Jerusalem (Romans 15: 26).
The apostle takes special note of that faithful response in his following words:
Php 4:15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church (Greek: ekklesia – congregation) communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
Php 4:16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
We get the distinct impression that even the Thessalonian brethren were not attending to Paul’s needs ... but only his fellow laborers at Philippi.
Php 4:17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
The difference in these two objects – gifts, as opposed to fruit – points to the inherent worth of each. A gift is a once-and-done offering. But fruit implies a continuing source of the commodity, and is not merely temporary or even temporal; it sustains for long periods.
Again, Paul’s lack of yearning for their support was evident; but even so, their generosity was pressed willingly and lovingly upon him by them.
Their largess had been spontaneous; apparently, Paul had not requested assistance from them at those times, but their concern for him motivated them to help in ways in which they were capable...
As we have commented earlier in this study, Paul reminds the brethren that even in the exigencies of his present predicament (being a prisoner of Rome) he is “abounding” in his good fortune – a scenario which is rather difficult for us today to visualize or appreciate. To us, the paucity of his existence would be dull ... and oppressive. Discouraging.
In contrast, Paul “abounded!”
Php 4:18 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, wellpleasing to God.
The nature of that offering is unknown to us. It was evidently highly significant to him and appreciated greatly by the apostle.
He reminds that that their abundant generosity shall reflect upon themselves by supplying all their needs in future time. That is a condition that is assured by their willing, un-requested generosity toward Paul.
Php 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
We believe his subtle implication is, that God shall supply all their eternal needs as well as their temporal ones, based partially on their liberality, for which Paul gives thanks: “... unto God ... be glory for ever and ever (perpetually, without end).”
Php 4:20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
His closing blessing expressed to those at Philippi includes “every saint” of the same spiritual mindset who is with Paul in Rome; these spiritual kinsmen express mutual concern and affection for one another, and loving greetings, just as we are accustomed to do today.
Php 4:21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.
Php 4:22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.
It is gratifying that the saving Truth of the Gospel has penetrated even to the inner workings of the mighty sovereign of the Roman Empire!
That is a reflection that God is not a respecter (or even a dis-respecter) of any person as also attested by Peter as he was, in an earlier year, manifestly commanded to go to Caesarea and baptize a Roman centurion named Cornelius who was stationed there (Acts 10: 34, 35).
Php 4:23 The grace (Greek: charis) of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. To the Philippians written from Rome, by Epaphroditus.
Charis is the Greek word from which we derive our word, charity – graciousness of manner or act, especially as reflected in lives ... liberality, benefit, and favor.
It was obviously an hallmark on prominent display at Philippi.
Their sweet, thoughtful gift which Epaphroditis had borne from them to Paul had touched his innermost being.
It is inescapable that the apostle held his brethren at Philippi in highest esteem – that he loved them as his own soul. For these brethren were markedly unlike many others during his turbulent ministry, who opposed him and exalted themselves to their dishonor.
The Philippians were not among that number.
We can visualize the beloved Epaphroditis accepting this freshly written parchment directly from the faithful hand of the Apostle Paul as he donned his cloak and hat, grasped his walking staff, and set out from the site of Paul’s Roman confinement along Via Appia.
Soon he would leave the city heading due east toward the coast of the Italian peninsula, where he would board a commercial ferry along with scores of other travelers, vehicles, wagons, animals, and with mounds of merchandise being shipped to Byzantium along this relatively newly-constructed route, and soon disembark in the far coastland and place his eager feet upon the treadstones of Via Egnatia to make his way steadily, and safely, toward the rising of the sun, traversing the now settled lands of the lower Balkans to his beloved brethren who eagerly awaited him at Philippi.
<HEL> ~2,200 words. A Study in Philippians, Chapter Four. February 15, 2021.