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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 2

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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Verse 1

A Call for Unity and Mutual Consideration (2:1-4)

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

If there be therefore: This chapter begins with a series of four clauses that summon the Philippians to unity and mutual consideration. Paul has just spoken to them concerning the opposition they are facing from the world, and now he deals with the dangers that arise from within. They have been exhorted to walk worthily of the gospel of Christ. This walking involves their "standing firm in one spirit without being frightened by non-Christian opponents (1:27) and being one in aim or direction with other members of the congregation (2:1)" (O’Brien 164). Verses 1-4 are a call to unity, love, and humility. They are to be united against their enemies and united in heart and mind with one another. Congregations today should become acquainted with Paul’s words here and take preventive measures against division that so frequently attacks them. It is nothing less than ignorance and negligence of God’s word that leads churches into division.

Each of the clauses begins with the word "If," making the statements appear to be conditional; actually they are affirmative statements that are true. A better translation of the word would be "since." This fourfold appeal in verse 1 is to have a fourfold result that is found in verse 2.

The Greek text has no verb expressed in these four clauses, and the New American Standard Bible supplies "there is." This translation is of course grammatically correct but it may leave the impression that the apostle is appealing to the (general) existence of these qualities, whereas he surely has in mind the Philippians’ specific experience of them (NIV "if you have") (Silva 102).

Lightfoot’s paraphrase is:

If then your experiences in Christ appeal to you with any force, if love exerts any persuasive power upon you, if your fellowship in the Spirit is a living reality, if you have any affectionate yearnings of heart, any tender feelings of compassion, listen and obey (107).

any consolation in Christ: The word "consolation" (KJV) is rendered "encouragement" by most translators and can mean comfort (ASV) or exhortation. "The context seems to favor the meaning of helping, encouraging, or strengthening" (Loh and Nida 48). O’Brien says, "The majority of exegetes render the word by ’exhortation’ in the sense of Hebrews 13:22, regarding it as an ’urgent appeal’" (168). However, O’Brien prefers "consolation" or "comfort" (170). Lightfoot likewise prefers "encouragement" (107). Therefore, this first clause to which Paul appeals refers to the encouragement, consolation, or comfort they have in Christ. This is certainly a powerful appeal to unity. It contemplates the very life that Christians live in Christ. To contemplate life in Christ should stir up Christians and make them strong. It should bind brethren together.

if any comfort of love: The second clause makes appeal to the "comfort of love." The word for "comfort" occurs only here in the New Testament and can be translated "persuasion" (JB), "consolation" (ASV), or "incentive" (RSV). It probably means comfort or consolation.

It speaks of gentle cheering or tender counsel. It depicts an individual coming close and whispering in another’s ear and is used in the New Testament in the context of friendship and intimate love" (J. MacArthur 28).

The "love" is a "subjective genitive (the consolation of love) and refers not to the brotherly love of Christians, nor to Paul’s love for his Philippian readers, but to Christ’s love" (Spicq 294). It is "the loving tenderness of God in Christ experienced by every Christian" (MacArthur 27). Because of the love that God manifested through His Son Jesus Christ, unity should abound among Christians. There is no place for the sinful attitudes that bring about division in hearts ruled by the love of Christ.

if any fellowship of the Spirit: Paul’s third appeal to unity among the Philippians is based on the "fellowship of the Spirit." Koinonia (from which "fellowship" is derived) and its cognates are found six times in this letter. The exact same word is found not only here but in Philippians 1:5 and Philippians 3:10. This word appears nineteen times in the New Testament, thirteen of which are used by Paul. As earlier noted in Philippians 1:5, the word refers to partnership, communion, contribution, sharing, or having something in common with someone.

Although the word pneumatos:

...could possibly denote the human spirit (NAB "fellowship in spirit"; Bruce "spiritual fellowship"), suggesting "fellowship of spirits among themselves," it is almost universally agreed by commentators, on contextual grounds and the similar expression at 2 Corinthians 13:14, that the reference is to the Holy Spirit (O’Brien 172-173).

Some have taken the phrase to be "the Spirit’s fellowship" and, therefore, understand this phrase to refer to "the partnership and fellowship, which only the Holy Spirit can give" (Barclay 40). Others believe it means "participation in the Spirit" (Campbell 25-26). Others, such as W. Hendriksen, say "the marvelous Spirit-fellowship," therefore, believing it denotes a fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

This phrase evidently refers to the fellowship Christians have "in the Spirit." The unity of the church is called "the unity of the Spirit" (Ephesians 4:3). "We have all been baptized by the Spirit into one body and made to drink of the same Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13). All baptized believers have received the "gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). The Spirit desires unity, is the source of unity, and is in fellowship with all of the saved. Division violates one’s relationship with the Spirit.

if any bowels and mercies: The fourth and final appeal for unity that Paul makes in this verse is "if any bowels and mercies." These two words appear together in Colossians 3:12 as well, and there the King James Version translates "bowels of mercies." The noun "bowels" is found in Philippians 1:8, where it refers to the "bowels" (entrails, heart) of Christ. Splanchnon is treated under 1:8 and simply refers to the emotions of the heart of man. It is translated here "affection" (Gpd; RSV; NEB), "tenderness" (JB), "compassion" (NAB), and "kindness" (Phps).

The word "mercies" is usually rendered "sympathy" (Gpd; RSV; JB) or "compassion" (Today’s English Bible; New English Bible). In Romans 12:1, it denotes God’s compassion and in 2 Corinthians 1:3 God’s acts of mercy through His Son. In light of the first three appeals Paul makes, he is probably referring to the tender mercy and compassion of Christ experienced by the Philippians. Paul’s plea to them is simply based on the goodness of God.

Paul’s appeal to unity is based on things the Philippians know for certain: God’s comfort they experience in Christ; the consolation of Christ’s love for them in every situation; the sharing of the Holy Spirit who is in their hearts; and the tender mercy and compassion they have felt as God has worked in their lives.

Verse 2

Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Fulfill ye my joy: An additional motive for them to unite is they would "fill his cup of joy to the brim" (Bruce 167). "Paul’s choice of this particular verb indicates the Philippians are already a source of joy to him" (1:4-5, 4:1) (Loh and Nida 50). Literally Paul is saying, "Make my joy complete." The verb "fulfill" is found in Philippians 1:11, "being filled" with the fruits of righteousness. If unity presides in their midst, Paul’s joy for them will be complete.

that ye be likeminded: "Paul’s joy would be made full by their being likeminded, having the same love, being united in spirit and intent on one purpose" (O’Brien 177). In verse 2 there are four marks of spiritual unity. These are different aspects of unity. The first thing he mentions is that they "think the same." The word "likeminded" (phroneo) is found in Philippians 1:7; Philippians 2:5, and twice in 3:15. This verb "expresses not merely an activity of the intellect, but also a movement of the will" (Goetzmann, II 617). To the Corinthians, who had serious factions in their midst, Paul writes, "that ye all speak the same thing" (1 Corinthians 1:10). Unity comes when believers think alike. The mind set or disposition of a man is what Paul has in mind, which leads him into the example of the mind set "which was also in Christ Jesus."

having the same love: The next aspect of unity he addresses is that they "have the same love." Spicq takes the phrase to mean "a sincere love for God in which all share alike" (298). This love, however, is probably a reference to the love the Philippians have for one another, which is the result of Christ’s love for them (verse 1). If Christians maintain unity in their attitudes, they will be united in love. Conflict comes when people do not show proper love for each other.

being of one accord: The third phrase in this verse is "being of one accord." The word sumpsuchoi is found only here in the New Testament and means "united in spirit" (Bauer, Ardnt, Gingrich and Danker 781). It is literally "one souled" (Loh and Nida 51). This speaks of Christians whose passions, desires, and ambitions are the same. When Christians are "one souled," unity will abound.

of one mind: Finally, Paul says they are to be "of one mind," meaning they are to be "intent on one purpose and speaks of a life directed towards a single goal" (O’Brien 179). People who think alike (have the same attitudes and dispositions), who truly love one another, and who are united in their passions and desires will be united in their purpose. People with different purposes are going to have a lot of problems. Personal agendas are to be put aside as the church moves toward her one eternal and glorious purpose.

Verse 3

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Let nothing be done through strife: There is no verb in the first half of this verse in the Greek text; and, therefore, the construction is literally, "nothing according to partisanship nor according to vainglory" (Loh and Nida 51). Paul’s statement has the force of a negative command; and, therefore, the Revised Standard Version translates "do nothing," the Good News Bible, "don’t do anything," and the New English Bible, "never act." The word eritheian means "a desire to put oneself forward" (Thayer 249), hence, self ambition, and is sometimes rendered "strife." Paul in Galatians 5:20 lists "strife" as a work of the flesh. A personal desire to advance one’s self is always destructive and disruptive. The factions at Corinth are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3, and in verse 3 Paul says, "Since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?"

or vainglory: Kenodoxia signifies "vain, empty glory" (TDNT, 3 662). It is a compound word made up of kenos ("devoid of truth," "empty," vain") and doxa ("glory") (MacArthur 49). In Galatians 5:26, the word refers to pride or conceit that is groundless. It refers to seeking after personal glory, which is the desired result of the selfishness in the preceding paragraph. Such a person holds an erroneous opinion of himself and the facts, all the while seeking his own glory. That kind of attitude creates discord. It is nothing but vanity.

but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves: In this phrase Paul conveys the idea of lowliness or humility; of being base, shabby, low, and common. The scriptures tell men to serve Christ in lowliness of mind (Acts 20:19) and to display humility in our relationships with other Christians (Ephesians 4:2; 1 Peter 5:5; Colossians 3:12). Jesus is the supreme example of humility as Paul discusses beginning in verse 5. The Lord Jesus Christ invites all to come to Him for He is "meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29). Paul considers himself "the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle" (1 Corinthians 15:9), and "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost" (1 Timothy 1:15). Every Christian should adopt this same attitude toward himself; and if he does, it will give him a different attitude toward others. "Discord, division, and factionalism end when we view others as more worthy of respect and honor, and more deserving to be heard and followed than ourselves" (MacArthur 51).

The word "esteem" means to "think, consider or regard" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich 343). The word "other" signifies "others, or one another, without restriction or exception within the congregation" (Barth 56). We should have a sense of our own unworthiness and a readiness to see and appreciate the good in others.

Verse 4

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Paul’s appeal to the Philippians for unity and humility ends with an exhortation to focus their attention on the interests of others, rather than self interests. Such an attitude is the antithesis of partisanship and selfish ambition. Selfish ambition and competition among Christians are tragic. Later in this letter Paul says, "all the others (apart from Timothy) are pursuring their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus" (2:21). Paul tells the Corinthians, "Each of you should aim at his neighbor’s well-being rather than his own" (1 Corinthians 10:24).

"The participle translated ’look out’ means basically ’to look attentively,’ that is, to fix one’s attention on something with deep interest in it (Barclay’s translation says ’concentrate’; 2 Corinthians 4:18; Galatians 6:1)" (Loh and Nida 52). This word (skopeo) is used also in Philippians 3:17 and is translated there as "mark" them (also Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 4:18; Galatians 6:1). Paul uses the noun form of the word in Philippians 3:14 (unique in the New Testament) when he says, "I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

Paul is "not prohibiting any interest in one’s own affairs. It is the selfish preoccupation with them that he condemns" (O’Brien 185). The word "interest" is not a very specific term and should be understood that way. Christians simply need to be concerned with the matters of those who are around them. Especially should this be true regarding the "interests, enterprises, needs, tasks, goals, gifts, spiritual character, ministries, qualities, strengths, and significance of others to the Lord and the church" (MacArthur 51).

Christ Jesus, the Supreme Example of Humility (2:5-11)

The passage at hand is one of the grandest, most beautiful in all of God’s word. It is evidently one of the earliest Christian hymns, and it describes the self-humiliation and exaltation of Christ.

It should be noted that the term (hymn) is not being employed in the modern sense of what we understand by congregational hymns with metrical verses. The category is used broadly, similar to that of creed, and includes dogmatic, confessional, liturgical, polemical, or doxological material (O’Brien 188).

Some critics claim its author is not Paul, based on structural, linguistic, and theological reasons. Lohmeyer is a significant adherent to this belief, and he believes it was sung at the Lord’s Supper among the Jewish-Christians in Jerusalem (4ff). Suffice it to say, the critics are lacking in their evidence, and it is beyond the scope of this work to discuss the issue.

Verse 5

Paul’s Exhortation: Adopt Christ’s Attitude (2:5)

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

This verse concludes Paul’s appeal to them for unity and also introduces the majestic hymn that follows. Both the New International Version and New American Standard Bible translate "mind" as "attitude," and the traditional understanding is they were to have the same attitude toward humility and unity as Jesus exemplified. Yet there are some problems with this position. O’Brien states in his excellent commentary, "The paragraph is the most difficult to interpret in Philippians" (188). Then, in his comments on verse 5, he says, "These words are particularly difficult to interpret because they are elliptical" (205).

The verse has two parts: "Let this mind be in you" and "which was also in Christ Jesus." The problem in understanding the verse may be identified as follows: In the Greek text, the first part has a primary verb "let this mind," that means "to think," and the second part has no verb. The verb phroneite is used in Philippians 1:7 and Philippians 2:2, denoting a state of mind or inward disposition. Some commentators believe the verb "think" should be supplied in the second part; thus the sense would be "you think, or have the same disposition, or attitude in yourselves that Jesus had." The King James Version, New International Version, and New American Standard Bible supply the verb "was" rather than repeating phroneite, giving the sense mentioned in the previous sentence.

Many exegetes and commentators now feel such liberties should not be taken and the literal words should stand on their own without supplying a verb in the second clause. Therefore, the sense of the verse is not discussing the disposition that Christ had. Furthermore, to supply the verb in the second clause, as these commentators would make of this verse, would be close to, "have the disposition toward one another as is proper for those who are united in Christ Jesus." This is the so-called kerygmatic position while the traditional one in the preceding paragraph is called the ethical position. In support of this latter position, it is important to notice the only other two occurrences of "phronein en" in the New Testament (Deismann 116). One of these is in Philippians at 4:2: "I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to think the same thing in the Lord." The other passage is Romans 15:5 where Paul prays that God will grant the Romans "to think the same thing among each other according to Christ Jesus" (Silva 109). This is a "deliberately general expression that calls attention to our relationship with Christ" (although it may well include a reference to Jesus’ example) (Moule 264).

There is also another interesting angle provided by Lenski: "This keep minding in your case, (the thing) which (appears) also in Christ Jesus’ case" (770). He explains his paraphrase thus:

The reading "keep minding" (plural active) is overwhelmingly attested over against the passive singular: "Let this be minded among you," which then makes it necessary that another passive be supplied in the relative clause: which (was minded, aorist or imperfect passive) in Christ (Lenski 770).

It is difficult to go against the traditional view of this verse; however, the kerygmatic position seems to have greater scriptural support. From the context, Paul’s purpose is to appeal to the conduct of Christ and to reinforce teaching in Christian living. He presents Christ as the ultimate model for Christian behavior and action.

Christ’s Humiliation (2:6-8)

This hymn provides the ultimate example of humility and self-sacrificing service in Jesus Christ. There is no other passage in scripture that so completely details the event of God’s becoming man in Christ Jesus. "Theologians have called it a Christological gem—a sparkling diamond of the New Testament" (MacArthur 56). "The passage has a liturgical style, with its majestic rhythms, balanced clauses, and artful parallelisms" (Loh and Nida 53). Within its lines we find imageries of the fall of Adam in Genesis chapters one through three and the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. It is essentially composed of two parts: verses 6-8, which speak of Christ’s humiliation, and verses 9-11, which refer to Christ’s exaltation by the Father. Each part consists of four lines each.

Verse 6

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God

Who, being in the form of God: "Who" obviously refers to Christ. The Holy Spirit through Paul says the man Jesus "existed in the form of God." "’In the form of God’ is a key phrase and one’s exegesis of it has a bearing on the interpretation of the whole passage" (Hawthorne 81). This word "form" is only used again in verse 7 and in Mark 16:12 in the New Testament. The word is found only six times in the Septuagint. Its cognates are found in several places in the New Testament (Romans 2:20; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:10; Philippians 3:21; 2 Timothy 3:5; Galatians 4:19).

As Hawthorne implies, there are differences of opinion as to the meaning of the word "morphe." Some believe it refers to the external form, thus, "that which may be perceived by the senses" (Behm, IV 745; Goetzmann, I 705); and "the external appearance" (Thayer 418); others think it denotes in this verse "the essential nature and character of God" (Bruce 45; Hawthorne 84; Lightfoot 110). In other words, the expression means that which is unchanging, the unchangeable nature, or essence. Yet another position worth consideration is that of Meyer who defines morphe as the divine glory, denoting the visible form of God (the shining light, the shekina glory) of the Old Testament. It is "that form of being corresponding to the essence and exhibiting the condition" of God (Meyer 80).

Moses Silva writes:

In view of the great variety of contexts in which morphe may be used, Hawthorne makes a significant point in admitting that the word’s "precise meaning is elusive." To put it differently, morphe is characterized by semantic extension; it covers a broad range of meanings and therefore we are heavily dependent on the immediate context to discover its specific nuance...To go beyond this equivalence and inquire whether morphe tells us precisely in what respects Jesus is equal with God (in essence? attributes? attitude? appearance?) is asking too much from one word" (115).

Contextually, morphe in this verse is used to denote the nature of God as opposed to the nature of a servant, that is, man, in verse 7. "Being in the form of God" means being "equal with God." Each of these views are probably correct to some extent. Silva is right when he in essence says the context must determine the meaning and the word is somewhat ambiguous. The traditional scholars are correct in saying it refers to the essential unchangeable nature of God. Meyer and others who hold his view are also correct in regard to the word’s referring to the external glory of God. In fact, the word evidently includes the complete scope of everything the nature of God represents, whether externally or internally. Perhaps the scholars have missed this point by trying to be too precise in their definitions. Nevertheless, Jesus is identified in this verse as being equal with God, or by very nature, God. Hebrews 1:3 is the most definitive commentary on the matter and says that Jesus is "the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being."

thought it not robbery to be equal with God: In teaching the Philippians the extent of Christ’s humiliation, Paul begins by telling them "He was God in every way." Paul then says He "thought it not robbery to be equal with God." The word harpagmon (robbery):

...has created a literature far more extensive than it probably deserves. In particular, one is impressed by the futility of trying to reach a decision regarding Jesus’ preexistence and deity on the basis of whether harpagmon here has an active or a passive meaning (Silva 116-117).

The word "robbery" (harpagmon) occurs only here in the New Testament and is derived from harpadzo, which means to snatch or seize. Taken in the active sense, then, it would mean the act of snatching or seizing. If taken in the passive sense, it would refer to that which is seized.

Many commentators have been influenced by Lightfoot on this passage; and, therefore, his is a common viewpoint. Lightfoot understands the word to mean "a prize, or treasure" (134). He thinks the phrase does not refer to Christ’s majesty but to His condescension; Christ did not regard the rank and privilege of His equality with God, which He already possessed, as something to be clung to greedily. Instead, He gave them up at the incarnation. This view represents Jesus’ having the attitude that He would not cling to His position if by letting go He could serve others. If this is the meaning, Paul is using Christ as an example to the Philippians and telling them they should not seek vainglory and self-ambition, for Jesus had true glory and held the highest position, yet willingly surrendered it for the salvation of man.

Another view worthy of consideration is that of C. F. D. Moule, who says the point of the passage is "instead of imagining that equality with God meant getting, Jesus on the contrary, gave—gave until he was empty...even to death" (272). R. W. Hoover is quoted by O’Brien and says, "The question is not whether one possesses something, but whether or not one chooses to exploit something" (215). Therefore, the understanding would be that Jesus did not consider His equality with God to be used for His own advantage. He refused to employ for His own gain the glory He had in the beginning.

The pre-existent son regarded equality with God not as excusing him from the task of (redemptive) suffering and death, but actually as uniquely qualifying him for that vocation...Because he was in the form of God he did not regard this equality with God as something to be used for his own advantage (Wright 339-345).

A somewhat different, yet interesting outlook on the phrase is represented by Hooker, who emphasizes the contrast between Christ and Adam and suggests that Christ did not need to snatch at equality with God, as Adam tried, since He already had it (151-164). In fact, there are a number of ideas that might be discussed on this verse, but they go beyond the purpose of this volume.

The point Paul is making can be seen from looking at the context. Verse 7 says that He emptied Himself, and verse 8 that He humbled Himself. Verse 6 states negatively what verses 7 and 8 say in a positive manner. Also, in verse 3 Paul tells the Philippians, "each of you must regard one another as more important than himself" and then in verse 4, "look out for the interests of others." Within this context, Paul is telling them to follow Christ’s example, for He refused to act selfishly.

Verse 7

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

What is true in the previous two verses is applicable here as well: there are many differences of opinion as to the meaning of this verse and the specific terms found therein. There are two main verbs found in this verse that are the key to understanding it (ekenosen--"made himself of no reputation" and etapeinosen--"humbled himself" verse 8). The first is used as a "graphic expression of the completeness of his self-renunciation. It includes all the details of humiliation which follow. Further definition belongs to speculative theology" (Vincent 433).

But made himself of no reputation: Many commentators have debated what exactly Jesus emptied Himself of. The verb "to empty" ("made himself of no reputation" KJV) is also used by Paul in other epistles (Romans 4:14; 1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 9:15; 2 Corinthians 9:3). The word means literally, to empty, and metaphorically, to make of no effect. "In each instance it is used metaphorically in the sense of to bring to nothing, to make worthless, or to empty of significance" (Loh and Nida 58). There is a strong likelihood, therefore, that the verb should be taken metaphorically here as well. The New International Version is probably correct when it says, "He made Himself nothing." Christ gave up His divine status or rank of dignity and glory (John 17:5). Jesus was God and never stopped being God, yet humbled Himself in the incarnation. He emptied "Himself"; it was a choice Jesus made of His own free will.

and took upon him the form of a servant: The next phrase is literally, "taking the form of a slave," and is explained in the following phrase: "being found in human form." The word "form" here is the same as in verse 6. For an in-depth discussion of it, see the preceding comments on that verse. The word there covers both the internal and external characteristics; therefore, Jesus did not simply come disguised as a man, but He took on the basic nature and fundamental characteristics of man. "The implication is not that Christ, by becoming incarnate, exchanged the form of God for the form of a slave, but that he manifested the form of God in the form of a slave" (Bruce 270). When Jesus emptied Himself by becoming incarnate, He became a slave without any rights whatsoever.

and was made in the likeness of men: "And was made in the likeness of men" defines His emptying Himself. In verse 6 Christ is said always to have been in the form of God (He always existed), but here He became a man (came into existence). The participle "was made" (genomenos) means "becoming" and "can be taken in its so-called ’etymological’ sense of ’being born’ (RSV; NAB ’being born in the likeness of men’)" (Loh and Nida 59). "There is no doubt that Jesus’ entrance into an existence like that of human beings was certainly brought about by human birth, and the same participle means ’born’ at Galatians 4:4 and Romans 1:3" (O’Brien 224).

In stressing Christ’s likeness to man, Paul continues by saying, literally, "becoming in the likeness of men." The word "likeness" in the King James Version is homoioma, sometimes used to signify what is similar, likeness, image, or copy. It can also be used to mean "equivalence or identity (Romans 6:5; Romans 5:14) to emphasize the sense of an identical duplicate of the original, and thus here speaks of Christ’s essential identity with the human race" (O’Brien 224-225).

When God became man in the form of Jesus Christ, He did not become man as man was before the Fall. He partook of human nature in its fallen and weakened condition: He hurt, He wept, He hungered, He thirsted, He tired, and He died. He was burdened with the results of man’s Fall (Hendriksen 110).

He did not, however, assume fallen human nature in that He did not become a sinner (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15). In Matthew 20:28, Jesus says, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." His service to sinners took the form of total identification with them. He became a genuine human being in order to accomplish His service of atonement and advocacy.

Verse 8

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

And being found in fashion as a man: Many translations place "and appeared in human likeness" in verse 8. But the structure of the hymn suggests the verse division followed by Today’s English Version and Jerusalem Bible is to be preferred. Likewise, many commentators place the first phrase of verse 8 at the end of verse 7.

The first phrase in this verse, "And being found in fashion as a man," is more literally translated, "and being found in the form as a man." The word "fashion" or "form" is schema in Greek. It means "outward appearance, or shape" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker 797). It is found in only one other place in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 7:31). This phrase "contains an unmistakable witness to His personal humanity in its declaration that, in the eyes of those who saw His incarnate life, he was ’as a man’" (Martin 207). This expression, then, views Jesus from the vantage point of those who saw and experienced Him. Most men would think Him to be no different from themselves. He so closely identified with them as man that they thought Him no better than themselves. While it was a profound example of humility on the one hand, it was a great tragedy on the other. Thus, many today have failed to see God in His creation, His church, His word, and His work on earth. Often people profane that which is holy by not recognizing it as something from God.

he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death: Verse 8 concludes the first part of this great hymn. Having fully identified Himself with mankind in His incarnation, Jesus humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the greatest degree: He was obedient to death; and His was the most shameful way to die--by being crucified on a cross. It is the climactic event of His humiliation. From the cradle to the cross, Jesus was the epitome of humility. "The God who made the universe stood alongside a man named Joseph and helped him in his carpenter shop in Nazareth" (MacArthur 62).

The phrase "he humbled himself" indicates His action was free and voluntary. The Good News Bible says, "He walked the path of obedience all the way to death." Hawthorne says He was "obedient to God to the full length of accepting death" (Hawthorne 89). The word for "humbled" means to humiliate and is found in a number of passages in the New Testament (Matthew 18:4; Matthew 23:12; Luke 3:5; Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Philippians 4:12; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). Christ humbled Himself by becoming "obedient unto death." Christ’s humility was such that He was willing to die for sinners. He volunteered to die, for John 10:18 says no man took His life from Him. The sinless Son of God died to pay the penalty for the sins of man.

even the death of the cross: "Even the death of the cross" tells of the degradation of Christ’s death. He hit rock bottom. He reached the lowest rung on the ladder.

The use of crucifixion as a penalty in the Graeco-Roman world was very widespread as a political and military punishment, inflicted by the Romans especially on the lower classes, including slaves, violent criminals, and unruly elements in provinces such as Judea. In order to be an efficient deterrent crucifixion was carried out publicly, usually in some prominent place. It was usually associated with other forms of torture, including at least flogging...the criminal could be tortured to death for days in an unspeakable way (Hengel 86-90).

"By first-century standards no experience was more loathsomely degrading than this" (Bruce 47). Deuteronomy 21:23 and Galatians 3:13 teach that anyone dying by crucifixion died under a curse. Such was the awful, horrible, humiliating death of the Lord.

Often humility is painful and unfair. It is sometimes misunderstood and is only attained at a high price. This passage, remember, is setting forth the example of Christ for the Philippians and Christians in all ages to follow.

Christ’s Exaltation by the Father (2:9-11)

This passage begins the second part of the hymn, which speaks of the exaltation of Jesus Christ. There are not nearly so many lexical and exegetical problems in this section as is found in the first part of the hymn. These verses constitute one sentence in the Greek text. The sentence marks a great turn of events in this drama. From the most degradable humiliation, "God takes the initiative in conferring on Christ the highest honor" (Loh and Nida 61).

Verse 9

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him: The sentence begins with the words "dio," which means "therefore", and "kai" which means "also." The sense of these words is "and that is why" or "for this very reason." God exalted Jesus because He humbled Himself. God’s response was one of approval and vindication. The words of our Lord, "whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Matthew 23:12), are brought to life in His own experience in this passage. God "highly exalted" Him, the Bible says. This verb was used in Moses’ lifting up the serpent on the pole for everyone to see (John 3:14; Numbers 21:9). This is a rare compound verb, possibly meaning that God hyper-extended Him. In direct antithesis of Jesus’ lowest humiliation, God exalted Him to the highest position possible.

and given him a name which is above every name: God’s giving Him a "name which is above every name" explains the previous phrase of God’s highly exalting Him.

In ancient thought a "name" was employed not only as a means of distinguishing one person from another but also as a means of revealing the inner being, the true nature of that individual (Genesis 25:26; 1 Samuel 25:25) (O’Brien 237).

This name, which God graciously bestows upon Jesus and which accurately portrays His nature and character, is greater than any other and is none other than the name of God Himself—"Lord." This honor is the rarest of all in light of Isaiah 42:8, which reads, "I am the Lord, that is my name, that is mine and no one else’s." This name distinguishes Him from all other beings and is a title that outranks all other titles. Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, "All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth."

Verses 10-11

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 God the Father.

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: These words are adapted from Isaiah 45:23, which is quoted by Paul in Romans 14:11. Verses 10 and 11 give the purpose of God’s exalting Jesus. Paul describes the universality of the worship of Christ in all His authority and power in these verses. At the second coming of Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess, in worship and praise to Him. Jesus is the object of this worship. It is not that every knee shall bow at every instance the name Jesus is uttered, but as the Good News Bible renders this phrase: "In honor of the name of Jesus." It is not the name "Jesus" that is meant, but the name Jesus has been given: the name "Lord."

The bending of the knee was an expression denoting great reverence and submission in the Old Testament especially marking the humble approach of the worshipper who felt his need so keenly that he could not stand upright before God (O’Brien 240-241).

As Paul bowed his knees in submission to God (Ephesians 3:14), so all will do so and will confess that Jesus is Lord.

And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord: The Old Testament teaches that the Lord is King and rules over all the world (1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Psalms 47:2; Psalms 47:7; Psalms 83:18; Psalms 97:5; Psalms 97:9; Psalms 103:19; Isaiah 54:5). Consequently, all beings should worship Him and give glory to His name (Psalms 95:1-7; Psalms 29:1-2; Psalms 103:19-22; Psalms 148:2-4; Psalms 150:6; Psalms 66:1-2; Psalms 69:34; Psalms 96:9-13; Psalms 98:4-9; Psalms 103:22; Psalms 145:10-11). There is a threefold division in this passage that encompasses all the universe. It refers to the beings in heaven, earth, and the underworld, probably referring to angels, man, and the souls and demons in Hades. Colossians 2:14-15 is a good commentary on this passage, teaching that through Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, He disarmed the powers and authorities and made a spectacle of them. On that great and final day when Jesus comes again, all beings will bow before Him and confess His name. Many will gladly do so while others will not be able to refuse to do so to their own damnation. All will openly declare that He is Lord.

to the glory of God the Father: "To the glory of God the Father" is the final phrase in this majestic hymn. Acknowledging the person of Jesus as Lord brings glory to God. Romans 15:7-13 makes this point clear. The Lordship of Jesus "actually reveals the divine glory since the Father has planned that this should be so" (O’Brien 251). How important it is for people to confess Jesus as Lord, willingly, as they are called from sin by the gospel (Romans 10:9-10). To live a life of acknowledgment of the Lordship of Jesus brings glory and honor to the Father and will result in the Christian’s exaltation (Matthew 10:32-33).

With this beautiful hymn, Paul has explained the paradox of humiliation and exaltation. The Philippian Christians have been warned to unite against their foes and not be intimidated by them. The Philippian church must stand together and avoid the pride and self-ambition that could destroy them. They are to humble themselves and exalt others above them. This attitude is paramount to unity in the church. To show them the way to unity and humility, Paul sets forth the example of Jesus, who chose to become a slave and then was exalted as Lord. If He willingly humbled Himself to such depths of degradation, surely the Christian can humble himself before his Lord and his brethren.

Verse 12

Work Out Your Salvation (2:12-18)

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.

Wherefore, my beloved: Paul has just written a marvelous passage on the humiliation and exaltation of Christ. He scaled the heights of His equality with God and sounded the depths of His experience in leaving the throne of God, coming to earth as man, dying on the cross, and ascending back to the Father in heaven. The word "Wherefore" introduces the logical application of the truth Paul has just presented. He, therefore, resumes his exhortation to the Philippians by directly addressing them ("my beloved"). This expression is often used when he makes an earnest appeal to his readers (1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Corinthians 12:19; Philippians 3:1). Paul has explained God’s purpose for the Philippians is for them to live in unity and humility. Having provided for them the perfect example of humility in the life of Jesus, Paul, therefore, calls the Philippians to obedience.

as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence: The obedience of Christ is mentioned in verse 8, and now the Philippians are called to obedience. He commends them for their past obedience, which had been evident from the first time they had received the gospel till the present (1:5; 4:15). Since they had consistently obeyed in the past, he expects that they will heed the things he says to them in the remainder of the letter.

Paul refers to them as God’s children in verse 15. Children will usually obey their parents in their presence, but that is not necessarily the case when they are absent. The degree of obedience of the child is not determined by what the child does when the parent is present but by what he does when the parent is absent. Paul is absent from them at the time of writing, and he commands them to be under obedience just as if he were with them. He doesn’t want them to be compelled to obedience merely to please him, but the humiliation of Christ should serve as a powerful motive to bring them to obedience. They are to obey to please Christ.

work out your own salvation: Since they have the motive of Christ set before them, Paul tells them to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." This phrase has caused commentators a great deal of anguish. Prominent writers such as Hawthorne, Collange, Gnilka, R.P. Martin, and J.H. Michael have contended that the "salvation" spoken of here by Paul is not used in its ordinary theological sense but that it refers to the general well-being of the Philippian church as a whole. Their conclusion, as stated by O’Brien, is that "Paul is therefore urging all the Christians corporately to take whatever steps are necessary to remove every trace of spiritual disease and thus to restore the congregation to health and wholeness" (277). Silva, in his excellent commentary, deals with the fallacy of such arguments presented by the detractors of verse 12 (135-137). He concludes by stating, "These arguments, therefore, whether viewed separately or in concert, utterly fail to dislodge the view that verse 12 speaks of personal salvation" (137).

It is Calvinist theology that causes esteemed Bible scholars to take such liberties with the text in order to sustain their doctrine. The tension between verses 12 and 13 seems unbearable to many; and, therefore, they attempt to relieve it by misapplying the words of the Holy Spirit. The term "salvation" is used consistently by Paul in all his writings, including Philippians (1:19, 28), to refer to the personal salvation of each individual believer. These two verses bring together the paradox of salvation: the fact that it is the working of God and that it includes the personal obedience of the believer. There is no contradiction here with Divine Sovereignty and human effort, just as there is none with faith (Paul) and works (James) or grace and obedience.

The biblical concept of salvation is not restricted to justification; rather, it includes all of God’s redemptive work. Many falsely assume that "salvation" refers only to justification or the initial act of conversion. To the Christian, salvation would be referred to as a past act, "I was saved" (Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:8; Titus 3:5). Neither is the concept limited to the present abiding relationship of God and the believer. In this sense the Christian could say, "I am saved." In the Bible, there is also the idea that we are yet to be saved (Romans 5:9-10; 1 Corinthians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Timothy 4:18). Within the entire scope of salvation, the Christian necessarily lives a life of righteousness. This lifestyle is an integral part of the process of salvation. Ephesians 2:9 tells us that our salvation is "not of works" yet immediately reminds us that the Christian is created "for good works" in verse 10. Peter writes, "For as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble" ( 2 Peter 1:10).

The verb "work out" (katergazomai) involves a continuous, sustained effort and is often referred to in the imagery of a race, contest, or fight (Philippians 3:12; Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Timothy 6:12). Paul has already told them to live lives worthy of the gospel (1:27). Silva says:

It is impossible to tone down the force with which Paul here points to our conscious activity in sanctification. The thought should give us pause: our salvation, which we confess to be God’s from beginning to end, is here described as something that we must bring about (139).

Their obedience is not to be done with a legalistic spirit toward earning their salvation, but in humility, realizing that they are nothing without Christ. Christians do not work in order to earn their salvation; rather they work because they have been saved from their sins.

with fear and trembling: The phrase "with fear and trembling" is an Old Testament expression (Psalms 2:11; Isaiah 19:16) that denotes humble reverence, dependence, and devotion to God. The phrase is found in the New Testament in Ephesians 6:5 and 1 Corinthians 2:3. In light of the context of Philippians 1:27 to Philippians 2:18, the phrase may be a reference to providing for them an eschatological motive for obedience. "The day of Jesus Christ" has already been used in 1:6, 10. This day is also alluded to in the hymn of 2:5-11. Paul has brought the judgment scene to their minds; and in anticipation of that great day, he calls on them to live obedient lives in accordance with the standard set forth by the gospel of Christ. What better motive is there for any Christian to live a godly life than the realization that judgment is coming?

Verse 13

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

For it is God which worketh in you: This verse is very much like Philippians 1:6, where Paul speaks of the One who has begun a good work in them. Here he tells them that the One who works mightily in them is God. It is God Himself who works in the Christian. The present tense of the verb "works" (energon) points out His continuous activity. The Good News Bible says He is "always at work." Paul uses the word eighteen out of its twenty-one occurrences in the New Testament. It is used of God’s working all things according to the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11), of God’s distributing spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4-26), of His mighty working in Peter and Paul (Galatians 2:8; Colossians 1:29), and especially of His raising Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12). It is this same power that now works in the heart of every believer (Ephesians 1:19; Ephesians 3:20; Colossians 1:29; Philippians 3:21). This theme is found particularly when the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is discussed (Romans 8:3-4; 2 Corinthians 3:4-6). What unsurpassing joy the Christian has in knowing that God is working in him!

both to will: What does Paul declare to be the purpose and extent of this work? God supplies the willingness or determination to obey Him and the help to do so. "God is the one who energizes in you both the impulse and the energy to carry out the impulse" (Robertson 147). The word "will" denotes a "resolve or purposeful determination" (Romans 7:15; Romans 7:18-19; 2 Corinthians 8:10) (Loh and Nida 68). The verb "work" is used to indicate that it is God who is working in them.

God’s working in the Christian is not suspended because we work, nor is the believer’s working suspended because God works. Neither is the relationship strictly one of cooperation as if God did His part and the Christian did his so that the conjunction or coordination of both produced the required result. God works and so also does the Christian, but the relationship is that because God works the Christian works. The more persistently active man is in working, the more persuaded he may be that all the energizing grace and power are of God.

The Christian’s life in the Spirit is dependent on God’s grace in sending His Son. Because of God’s redemptive work, believers have an obligation not to live according to the flesh. Those who are in Christ have put off the old man and put on the new (Colossians 3:9-10; Ephesians 4:22-24); they have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27); in fact, they are commanded to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 13:14). The conclusion is inescapable: Christians are commanded to be obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ as He was obedient even to death on the cross. What was required of our Lord and Master is required of all who choose to serve Him. God provides the impetus to accomplish this obedience.

and to do of his good pleasure: God is powerfully working in their lives for "his good pleasure." The noun here "good pleasure" is translated "good will" in Philippians 1:15. The idea here is that of God’s glory (John 11:4; Romans 15:7). God’s will, pleasure, or purpose that will redound to His glory and honor is the salvation of the Philippians mentioned in verse 12. It is God’s gracious resolution to save. Their salvation is the completion of His good pleasure.

Verses 14-16

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.

Verses 14-16 are a lengthy complex sentence. As the Philippians work out their own salvation in fear and trembling, they are to do so without "complaining and arguing" (NIV). "Paul is drawing a studied contrast between God’s desire for these Philippians and the experience of the children of Israel in the wilderness" (Pentecost 92). This incident is found in Deuteronomy 32:5 in the Septuagint where the Israelites are described as "spotted children, a crooked and perverse generation." Furthermore, the only other time Paul specifically refers to the complaining of the children of Israel is in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 when he is writing to a congregation plagued by dissension. Paul warns them of their sins by reminding them of Israel’s sins against God (Numbers 11:1-6; Numbers 14:1-4; Numbers 20:2; Numbers 21:4-5).

Do all things without murmurings: It is quite likely Paul has heard reports of such "complaining and arguing" from Epaphroditus, who has come to minister to him and deliver their gift. Although the Israelites’ murmuring and complaining were against God, the evidence suggests the Philippians’ sins are against one another. There seems to be no indication in the letter that they have complained about God or doubted His promises. "Murmuring" (gongysmos) is found in three other places in the New Testament. In Acts 6:1, the Hellenist Christians grumbled against the Hebrew Christians; in 1 Peter 4:9, hospitality is to be given without complaining; and in John 7:12, the people were going back and forth between their opinions about Jesus. It may be that as Israel’s complaining was directed toward Moses, yet was in truth against God, Paul is telling them that when they grumble against their leaders, they are actually grumbling against God. The words found in 2:29 may be an implication that such disrespect has been shown toward the leaders of the congregation in Philippi.

and disputings: The second word "disputings" (dialogismos) has a wide range of meanings, "from an evil thought to an anxious reflection or doubt, a dispute, or an argument" (TDNT, 2 97-98). Thayer defines the word as "the thinking of a man deliberating with himself; a thought, inward reasoning; purpose, design; a deliberating, questioning about what is true; hesitation, doubting; disputing, arguing" (139). The word is most commonly translated as "thoughts." Such "disputings" would certainly be in direct opposition to what Paul said earlier about being united in spirit or being one souled. The Philippians should not have evil thoughts toward one another, which evolve into quarrels, disputes, and complaining. They must learn that such quarreling is against God.

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God: Paul’s point in telling them to live without "murmuring and disputings" is so they would be "blameless and harmless." Their actions are to be consistent with their calling of being God’s children. Such sins characterize those in the world, but Christians are to live such a life that the world will see the difference and know they are God’s children. "They are ’to become’ blameless and harmless. They are not so in the state of nature and do not easily become so in a state of grace" (Robertson 150).

The Philippians are to be free from blame or accusation, whether from God or man. The word amemptos ("blameless"), found here, is used in regard to Zechariah and Elizabeth who were "blameless" in keeping the commandments of God (Luke 1:6) and to Paul in Philippians 3:6, regarding his former life in Judaism. The second word "harmless" literally means "unmixed or unadulterated" (Loh and Nida 69). It was used of "undiluted wine or unalloyed metal" (Behm, I 209). "When referring to people, it carried the notions of simplicity of character, purity, sincerity, or innocence (Matthew 10:16; Romans 16:19)" (O’Brien 293). The reason they should be blameless is they are to be pure and innocent.

without rebuke: The phrase "without rebuke" means to be "without fault" (NIV; NKJ). The Today’s English Version renders this phrase "as God’s perfect children." The Philippians are to be unblemished or blameless before God. The Christian’s election is so that he will be blameless (Ephesians 1:4). He is reconciled through Christ’s death in order to be without blemish (Colossians 1:27). Christ will present the church as His bride without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but rather, holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:27; Judges 1:24; Revelation 14:5).

in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation: "In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation" comes from Deuteronomy 32:5, which says, "They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation." "Crooked" is opposed to straight. The figure refers to those who do not walk in the straight and narrow way that God has ordained for them but rather are crooked, distorted, or perverted. Such people pervert the right ways of God (Acts 13:10; Acts 20:30). The Philippians are to be a direct contrast to these Israelites, who were "no longer his children because of their blemish" (Deuteronomy 32:3-4). Christians have replaced Israel as God’s children; therefore, they are to be separate from the world and "shine like lights in the sky" (Isaiah 9:2-7; Isaiah 42:6-7; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 58:8-10; Daniel 12:3).

among whom ye shine as lights in the world: The New American Standard Bible says, "among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life." The New International Version translates the word "appear" (phainesthe) as "shine." The appearing of a light is at the same time a shining, so both translations are essentially the same. The Philippians "shine" as they "hold forth the word of life." The Greek word here is used elsewhere only in Revelation 21:11 and is defined as "any light-giving body, or luminary" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker 872). In the Old Testament, light comes from God (Psalms 27:1; Isaiah 60:20; Micah 7:8). It is His nature to dispel darkness.

The concept of light is closely associated with the teaching of Christ and His people (Isaiah 9:2-7; Isaiah 42:6-7; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 58:8-10; Daniel 12:3). John 1:9 says, "There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man." Jesus proclaims in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." The disciples of Christ are taught by Him that they are the "light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). As they hold forth His teaching, they shine God’s truth and goodness to a world of sin and corruption (John 12:36; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5). "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). Paul is essentially telling the Philippians the same thing he told the Ephesians: "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8). They are to live lives that will shine brightly in a world of darkness.

Paul now leaves his use of the figure of stars lighting up the sky by explaining how the Philippians can live as God’s children in the world. By holding fast to the gospel, the word that brings life, they would demonstrate that his strenuous efforts for the gospel and for them will have been fruitful. Paul constantly lived his life in light of the approaching day of Christ when he will give the final account of his stewardship. The lives of his converts will be his crown (Philippians 4:1). His readers’ continued blamelessness and steadfastness will be the basis of his boast, and he will not stand before the Judge on that final day with empty hands.

Holding forth: This phrase means "to hold forth" and presents the idea of two travelers going through the night, one with a light and one without light. The one extends his light to the other who is following that light might fall on his footsteps. "To hold forth" or "hold out" could mean either to offer the word of life or to hold fast to it. If Paul is thinking of the evangelistic efforts and influence of the Philippians on the surrounding evil world, then the rendering "holding forth" or "proffering" (NEB), that is, offering the word of life for acceptance, would be the best translation. However, the rendering "hold fast" is preferable to many scholars. The overall context of Philippians 1:27 to Philippians 2:18 has to do with standing firm in the faith against the attacks of opponents from outside the body of Christ as well as from dissension within. As they "hold fast the word of life," they will preserve unity. Furthermore, if the gospel is held firm, then Paul will have no occasion for shame or regret that his work at Philippi had failed.

the word of life: "The word of life" is synonymous with "the gospel." The apostles were commissioned to proclaim "the full message of this new life" (Acts 5:20), also called "this message of salvation" (Acts 13:26). The gospel has the principle of life in it. John’s gospel unites light and life as descriptive of the Word (1:4), and Christ is said to offer men "the light of life" (John 8:12).

In Philippians 1:26, Paul hopes his arrival in Philippi will be the basis for their glorifying. In this passage it is the Philippians themselves who are the grounds for Paul’s exultation, "We are your cause for boasting as you are also ours in the day of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 1:14). The Philippians’ holding fast the word of life provides the grounds for Paul’s glorying before the judgment seat of Christ as well as for their being blameless and pure while living as God’s holy children in the midst of a corrupt and sinful world.

that I may rejoice in the day of Christ: "In the day of Christ" explains when Paul’s boast will occur. "This is not a present boasting in prospect of the day of Christ but to the Philippians as his boast at the parousia" (Meyer 119). Paul focuses their attention on the "day of the Lord" so the One who has begun a good work in their lives will bring it to completion on the day of Christ Jesus (1:6). He prays they will be pure and blameless on that great day, filled with the fruit of righteousness to the glory and praise of God (1:10). On that day every knee will bow in heaven and on earth in submission to and acknowledgment of the Lord Jesus Christ (2:10-11). Their citizenship is in heaven; and they eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform their lowly bodies on that day to be like his glorious body (3:20-21).

that I have not run in vain: This phrase indicates Paul has not run or worked in vain. The verb "run" is a favorite of Paul’s (Romans 9:16; 1 Corinthians 9:24; 1 Corinthians 9:26; Galatians 2:2; Galatians 5:7; Philippians 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). It brings to mind the imagery of the athlete in the stadium running towards the finish line. It is a comprehensive term for the entire missionary labors of the apostle. The triumphant progression of the gospel is the goal for which he is running. It is a goal that is not to be hindered by his own personal interests.

neither laboured in vain: The second metaphor is a verb meaning "work hard, toil, strive, or struggle." It is the proper term for physical tiredness induced by work, exertion, or heat (TDNT 3 827-830). The context implies it is the goal of toiling for the gospel that is in view here. Both verbs are in the aorist tense and "look back from the standpoint of the day of Christ, from which the whole course of Paul’s life and work is surveyed" (O’Brien 301).

The concept of Paul’s giving an account of his apostolic stewardship is found in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 1 Corinthians 4:1-4. Paul wishes to present the Philippian Christians as part of his stewardship to God the Judge. "The phrase ’in vain’ (which is used only by Paul in the New Testament) is found in the papyri as describing water running to waste" (Loh and Nida 72). At the coming of the Lord, they will be his ground of boasting, his joy and crown, evidence that he has not run or labored in vain.

Verse 17

Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

Yea, and if I be offered: In verse 17, Paul increases the intensity of his appeal to the Philippians to consider the spiritual condition of their congregation as having weighty implications for his apostolic work. His words are also encouraging to them, for he already rejoices on behalf of their faith and devotion. Once again, the apostle changes figures, shifting from the athletic stadium to the altar. Paul considers their righteous lives as being a sacrificial offering to God. He adds his own life as a drink offering, implying that while he believes he will be acquitted of all charges against him, there remains the possibility he will be executed. If so, his own sacrificial death will be credited to their account, thereby making the Philippians’ sacrifice all the more acceptable to God.

The first of these sacrificial terms is a Greek verb meaning "I am poured out." It brings to mind the Old Testament libation or drink offering. It was usually a cup of wine poured out on the ground to honor a deity. When used of a person, it denoted a bloody death. In thinking of the possibility of his martyrdom, Paul likens his life’s blood to a drink offering poured out to honor God (Romans 15:16; 2 Timothy 4:6). In speaking of the drink offerings, Bruce comments:

This was added last, and completed the sacrifice, and if one thing remains to make that offering perfectly acceptable, Paul is willing that the sacrifice of his own life should be that one thing" (63).

Having made Jesus his Lord, Paul is prepared, if necessary, to be "obedient even to the point of death." It is not so much that he rejoices in the thought of martyrdom, but rather that such a turn of events would be the crowning achievement of his apostolic work. Such an attitude is consistent with Paul’s feelings toward his converts--his willingness to spend and be spent for them (2 Corinthians 12:15).

upon the sacrifice and service of your faith: The second reference to the altar and sacrificial rites in this verse is "the sacrifice and service of your faith." There seems to be some question as to whether these words refer to Paul’s work as an apostle or to the Philippians’ good works. The dispute is whether "faith" is an objective genitive ("on behalf of your faith, resulting in your faith") or a subjective genitive ("ministry that springs from your faith"). Is it that Paul’s work has wrought faith in them, or is he saying their faith is the source of their efforts? While both statements are true, the context seems to indicate that the latter is the meaning here. Paul is once again referring to the Philippians’ participation in the gospel. He opens the letter with this theme in mind (1:5). He refers to the gift they sent to him with the word "service" (leitourgia, 2:30) in this immediate context and later calls it a "sacrifice" (thysian, 4:18).

The word for "sacrifice" is the common term for any general or specific sacrifice (Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7; Luke 2:24). It is used in reference to Jesus’ sacrificial death (Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 10:12). It is found in Romans 12:1 regarding the Christian’s offering of himself. Here the word is used somewhat differently from the other occurrences in the New Testament. Rather than meaning the act of offering, it refers to that which is offered, that is, the thing sacrificed (Vincent 71).

The term for "service" is used in the Septuagint almost exclusively for the service of priests and Levites in the temple. Christ’s death brought an end to that system, and such priests are no longer necessary to provide access to God. Therefore, the term is not found very often in the New Testament. In 2 Corinthians 9:12, "service" is found regarding the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem. The word is used to describe Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25 as he served the apostle selflessly.

I joy, and rejoice with you all: These two terms are placed together here to indicate a sacrificial service, which includes all the good works the Philippians have done as they have served the Lord, the chief of which is their sacrifice to God. They are the sacrifice; Paul’s life is the accompanying libation or drink offering that complements or completes their sacrifice. Both Paul and the Philippians have gladly offered themselves in sacrifice to God and therein lies the reason for Paul’s joy and the joy he shares with them. Paul has indeed captured the mind of Christ for himself as he rejoices in the possible prospect of dying for his Lord Who was obedient unto death.

Verse 18

For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

The Philippians are happy about their sacrificial service to God. Now Paul exhorts them to rejoice in his willingness to be poured out as a drink offering along with their sacrifice. It is important to note the repetition of the words "joy" (chairo) and "rejoice with" (sunchairo). Joy or rejoicing is the constant theme throughout this epistle. Paul is glad on his own account that he has been the instrument in their salvation. He is still more joyful for the experiences of grace they have in Christ. Joy is not selfish but wishes company. The woman in Luke 15:9, who found her lost coin, called her friends to rejoice with her as did the shepherd who found the lost sheep. Paul almost seems insistent as he exhorts them to rejoice. Both Paul’s and the Philippians’ mutual joy in Christ is truly a blessing. Christians today should also experience sweet fellowship in the joy that is shared in Christ.

News About Timothy and Epaphroditus:
Two Christ-Like Examples (2:19-30)

At this point in the letter, Paul takes up his report to the Philippian church. Remember they have heard of his trials and have sent an emissary to him with a generous gift. They have questions concerning his welfare and the progress of the work. After alleviating their concerns and exhorting them to godly living and unity, he continues his report by discussing his future plans. Paul expresses his intention to visit them in the event he is released from prison. He obviously is uncertain as to when such a visit might be possible; and, therefore, in lieu of an immediate visit from him, he will send his beloved associate Timothy. First, however, Epaphroditus will return to them, a source of great comfort and cause for rejoicing on their part. Paul hopes after Timothy visits them, he will return to him with news of how they are doing in their Christian walk.

The placement of his future plans at this juncture of the letter is curious and has given rise to many theories concerning the purpose and function of this passage in the letter. Paul employs Timothy and Epaphroditus as godly examples to whom the Philippians could look as ones who lived lives worthy of the gospel. After the exhortations in Philippians 1:27 to Philippians 2:18, it is natural to continue his report by providing men who are examples of the very attitudes he has called them to possess.

Verse 19

Timothy (2:19-24)

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.

But I trust in the Lord Jesus: The Today’s English Version begins the verse with "If it is the Lord’s will." In 1 Corinthians 16:7, we read "if the Lord permits"; again in 1 Corinthians 4:19 Paul’s plans are conditioned by "if the Lord wills" (NEB). His plans are not certain but are subject to the will of God.

to send Timotheus shortly unto you: Timothy is undoubtedly Paul’s closest companion and co-worker. It is not unusual for Paul to send him to churches as his messenger to strengthen and encourage them (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10-11). He will send Timothy soon, but not immediately, for Paul wants to wait until his own situation is clarified or resolved (2:23).

that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state: His reason for sending Timothy is not only to relieve their anxiety by relating to them Paul’s state of affairs, but that Paul, too, would be comforted after receiving news about them. The phrase "good comfort" comes from a word that literally means, "be well in the soul" (Loh and Nida 77). It means to be encouraged or cheered up.

Verse 20

For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state.

For I have no man like-minded: Literally the opening phrase of the verse is "For I have no one equal in soul." Here is a very rare Greek adjective meaning "like-souled." It is similar to the word in Philippians 2:2 where they are exhorted to be of the same soul. This word means not so much a sharing of the same disposition but as a sharing of intimate feelings, a genuine concern and care. Paul is stating that Timothy is the only person with him in Rome who shares the same feelings for the Philippians. Paul may be using these words indirectly, serving as a rebuke to selfish members of the Philippian church.

who will naturally care for your state: The verb "care" is the same as in Philippians 4:6 where they are told to stop worrying about anything. But here it is used in a positive sense of being concerned for the welfare of the Philippians (also 1 Corinthians 7:32-34; 1 Corinthians 12:25). Since Timothy so deeply cares for them, he is the ideal one to be sent.

Verse 21

For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

Paul further elaborates on why he has chosen Timothy in particular to be sent to them. The words here are in direct antithesis to what he said earlier in verse 4. In this case, it seems to Paul that all others in his company, or at least those at his disposal, do not share the genuine concern for the cause of Christ that he and Timothy have. The others are more concerned with selfish interests. Just who the others are, we do not know. It would be safe to presume they do not include Luke and Aristarchus, who, though at one time were with Paul in Rome, had apparently left (Colossians 4:10; Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:24), for they are not mentioned among those who send greetings to the Philippians. Neither is Epaphroditus to be included with them, for he is in fact from Philippi and would soon return.

Verse 22

But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.

But ye know the proof of him: Timothy’s worth to Paul is already known by the Philippians. He has proved himself to be genuinely concerned about the progress of the gospel in their midst (Acts 16). Moffatt translates, "you know how he has stood the test." The word "proof" is similar to that in Philippians 1:10. It is used seven times in the New Testament and here refers to Timothy’s proven character.

that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel: Paul is not particularly alluding to Timothy as serving him as a son would his father, but the reference is more likely to the loving relationship between the two that has developed as they have worked together for the advancement of the gospel. Paul often uses the imagery of spiritual parenthood (1 Corinthians 4:15; Galatians 4:19). He sometimes refers to Timothy and Titus as his children (1 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4). O’Brien says:

The terms "father" and "son" with reference to a master and his disciple appear as early as 2 Kings 2:12 (of Elijah and Elisha respectively), while at the time of Jesus it was customary for a rabbi to call his pupil "my son" (324).

Paul has already spoken to them of the fact that Jesus became a slave, and now Paul is setting forth himself and Timothy as having followed the steps of the Lord in taking on the role of a servant. They are role models for the Philippians to follow.

Verse 23

Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.

Literally the opening phrase of the verse is, "this one, then, I hope to send" (Loh and Nida 80). The New American Standard Bible translates "presently" as "immediately." This translation is misleading, for Paul has already stated he could not send Timothy immediately (verse 19). The word means "when, or as soon as" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker 898). It refers to an uncertain, future event. In all likelihood, Paul is referring to his impending trial. Before he sends Timothy to them, he would like to see how the events pertaining to his imprisonment and impending trial unfold.

Another viewpoint worth considering regarding Paul’s hesitation to send Timothy to them at once is the possibility that Paul needs Timothy with him. The argument is that verses 19-22 are not providing for them the qualifications that make Timothy worthy of being an emissary, but that they serve to explain to the Philippians that Paul needs him at this trying hour.

Verse 24

But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.

A number of times in this letter, Paul has already alluded to his desire to visit them (1:8, 27; 2:12). In spite of his previous uncertainty concerning his coming to them (1:20; 2:17), he echoes his thoughts in chapter one, verses 24-26:

Yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. And convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again (NASB).

Paul’s confidence is "in the Lord." This thought is similar to verse 19 when he says, "I hope in the Lord" (NIV, NKJV, ASV, NASB). Once again, the Lord is the determining voice in what the future holds. In spite of the seemingly immense obstacles that presently afflict him, Paul believes in his heart that the Lord will free him and allow him to return to Philippi.

To encourage them, Paul says "I trust in the Lord" that I will come shortly. When "shortly" would be is pure conjecture.

The whim of a Nero was an elusive thing to count upon. But he no longer thinks of going on to Spain first as he had once planned (Romans 15:28). His heart now turns to the east (Philemon 1:22). His long imprisonment in Caesarea and Rome has made it necessary for Paul to set things in order in the east. The Gnostic disturbers had already appeared on the horizon before Paul left Asia (Acts 20:29). These "grievous wolves" had taken full advantage of Paul’s absence to play havoc with the flock in various parts of Asia. Philippi also tugs at Paul’s heart, which now definitely turns eastward. When he was released, it seems probable that he did go east at once. We catch traces of Paul’s tracks at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20), Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3), Macedonia and so probably Philippi (1 Timothy 1:3), Troas (2 Timothy 4:13), and Nicopolis (Titus 3:12). We may believe therefore that in time the Philippians did see Paul again as well as Timothy who was certainly in the east (1 Timothy 1:3) (Robertson 165).

Verse 25

Epaphroditus (2:25-30)

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.

Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus: The following verses are one of many examples in Paul’s writings that indicate the warm, tender feelings Paul has for his friends and coworkers. While Paul awaits further developments of his situation before sending Timothy to Philippi, he determines to send Epaphroditus immediately. The necessity for sending him immediately is to ease the Philippians’ concerns not only for Paul but also for the mutual concerns that Epaphroditus and the Philippians have for one another (verses 26-28). The fact is Epaphroditus is extremely homesick. Paul sends Epaphroditus with word concerning their questions about Paul’s welfare, the progress of the gospel in Rome, and Paul’s hopes for the future. In sending Epaphroditus, he is providing them another example of sacrificial service that the Philippians themselves have been encouraged to emulate.

Epaphroditus is mentioned only here and in Philippians 4:18 in the New Testament. He is the one sent by the Philippian church to bear the gift they provided for Paul. He has also served Paul by doing whatever he could to assist, comfort, relieve, and provide for the imprisoned apostle. The name, derived from the goddess Aphrodite, was common in that time and means "lovely, charming, or amiable." There is no reason for confusing this Epaphroditus of Philippi with Epaphras of Colossae (Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12; Philemon 1:23), even if the latter is a shortened form of the other name.

Epaphroditus, then, is the bearer of this letter. The verb "I have thought" is to be understood "as a so-called ’epistolary’ aorist; that is, the writer puts himself in the position of the reader for whom, when the letter arrives, the writer’s present thoughts and actions would be matters of the past" (Loh and Nida 81).

my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier: Paul calls Epaphroditus "my brother, my fellow worker, and my fellow soldier." The term "brother" is commonly used in scripture as a synonym for Christian, but probably here it also conveys the tender, loving relationship that has developed between the two. The term "fellow worker" is not used as a general term describing Christians, but usually individuals are differentiated from others in the congregation by being referred to in this manner (1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 8:23; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; Romans 16:3; Romans 16:9; Romans 16:21; Philemon 1:1; Philemon 1:24). It refers to those who work together in the task of preaching the Word of God. Such activity is truly "work," and woe unto the preacher of the gospel who will not work diligently in exercising this divine task. "Fellowsoldier" is a military term describing those who fight side by side. Those who work together for the Lord are fighting the spiritual forces of evil by promoting and spreading the gospel. They are involved in spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10:3-4; 1 Corinthians 9:7). Such warfare often involves persecution, suffering, adversity, and great loss.

but your messenger: Epaphroditus is also called here the "messenger" of the Philippians, who "ministered" to Paul’s needs. He was their "apostle" or messenger commissioned to bear the gift to Paul (4:18). The word apostle (apostolos) is used generally of the messengers of churches (2 Corinthians 8:23), but more commonly and specifically of the Twelve and the Apostle Paul, who were commissioned by the Lord Himself as His authoritative representatives.

and he that ministered to my wants: The word "minister" (leitourgia) is used of Christ’s service as High Priest (Hebrews 8:2), of secular rulers (Romans 13:6), of angels (Hebrews 1:7), and of Paul (Romans 15:16). It is implied he is to serve Paul as long as he is needed, and it almost seems Paul is apologetic for returning him perhaps sooner than they expected. Epaphroditus has done for Paul what the Philippians could not do themselves, but Paul deems it best to return him to Philippi and keep Timothy, who may have been more useful to him at this time, for a while longer.

Verse 26

For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

Here are the reasons Paul gives for returning Epaphroditus to them at this time. Soon after leaving Philippi, Epaphroditus had become sick. Somehow word had gotten to the Philippians informing them of his dire condition. They are very concerned about his condition, and Epaphoditus wants to relieve their concerns by letting them know he has recovered. He knows they will worry about him, and he does not want them to. He is homesick for them, and so Paul thinks it best for all concerned to return him immediately with this letter.

For he longed after you all: The terms used to describe Epaphroditus’ emotions are interesting. The word "longed" (epipotheo) means an intense longing or yearning. Paul had used this same word earlier in Philippians 1:8 in describing his own feelings for the brethren there. Furthermore, the phrase "was full of heaviness" (ademoneo) means "to be in anxiety, be distressed, or troubled" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker 16). The word is found in the New Testament only in Matthew 26:37 and Mark 14:33 when Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane. It carries with it the idea of mental anguish.

because that ye had heard that he had been sick: The reason Epaphroditus is in such a state of mind is that he is aware the Philippian church knows of his illness and that they are upset and worried about him. We do not know when he became ill, whether it was on the way to Philippi or after he arrived there. We do not know the nature of the illness or how long he was sick. Bruce suggests perhaps he became sick on the way and "was able to send a message back to them by someone traveling in the opposite direction" (71).

Verse 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.

For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: The fact is Epaphroditus was so sick that he almost died. The phrase "nigh unto death" literally means "a near neighbour to death" (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker 621). Paul informs the Philippians of the severity of Epaphroditus’ sickness for at least three reasons: (1) to give glory to God for his recovery; (2) in order that they will give him a warm reception upon his return; and (3) to show them the extent of Epaphroditus’ sacrificial service as a model for them to follow.

but God had mercy on him: Paul views Epaphroditus’ recovery as the direct merciful intervention of God, sparing a devoted servant for the work of the gospel. Paul has previously mentioned his desire to die and be with the Lord, rather than go on living (1:21-24). John Calvin asks, "Where, then, is the mercy of God, when it merely lengthens out our miseries?" (264). So how is it that God’s extending Epaphroditus’ life is looked upon by Paul as a merciful act? As Calvin goes on to explain, life itself is an "excellent gift from God" (264). Paul even writes that death is an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26), and "sickness and death are bearers of pain and grief which are not at all anticipated or endured with joy" (Hawthorne 118).

and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow: God not only spared Epaphroditus’ life but also spared Paul the pain of suffering if his dear friend had died. Hence, God delivered Paul from "sorrow upon sorrow" or wave upon wave of grief. (The second "sorrow" possibly has reference to Paul’s imprisonment.) Just as God delivered Epaphroditus from death, He certainly delivers the sick from death today when it is His will to do so. God’s actions bring the same kind of blessings now as they did to Paul and the Philippians in His healing Epaphroditus. How many hearts have rejoiced and been spared the suffering of grief when God has brought healing to a loved one. Praise God for His mercy and may all Christians pray for the sick whom God is able to heal.

Verse 28

I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.

I sent him therefore the more carefully: Paul is sending Epaphroditus home sooner than either he or the Philippians expect for a number of reasons: Epaphroditus has become ill; Paul desires to communicate with the Philippians; Epaphroditus has become homesick; and Paul needs to keep Timothy with him a while longer before sending him on to Philippi. Paul, Epaphroditus, and the Philippians would all be comforted when the young brother returns home. The words "more carefully" are perhaps better translated as "more hastily" or "as quickly as possible" (Vincent 76). Some prefer "more eagerly" referring to Paul’s attitude in sending him (Loh and Nida 84).

Paul desires a twofold result in sending Epaphroditus home. First, the Philippians would be joyful upon his safe return for they are concerned for their sick brother. Second, Paul’s own sorrow would be lessened, for he would no longer have to worry about Epaphroditus or the Philippians’ concern for him. Paul still has many reasons for sorrow, as is found in chapter one, yet had Epaphroditus died, he would have had sorrow on top of the sorrow that he already has in regard to his circumstances.

Verse 29

Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:

Hawthorne says of these verses:

These verses (29 and 30) combine command and explanation in such a way as to strongly indicate that Paul anticipated problems at Philippi over Epaphroditus’ unexpected return. Hence, he wards off this criticism with apostolic authority and orders the Philippians to welcome Epaphroditus in the Lord (119).

Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness: The word "Receive" is generally understood as either "to take up, receive, or welcome" someone, or "to wait for, or expect someone." Here it means to welcome him. Paul wants them to welcome him "with all gladness" or "joy," that is, completely, without reservation or resentment. To welcome him "in the Lord" could mean "as a brother in Christ," or more likely it means as the Lord Himself would welcome him: in the spirit of Christ.

and hold such in reputation: Not only are they to give him a wholehearted welcome, but they should esteem him very highly for what he has done. Rather than consider Epaphroditus as failing to complete his mission, they should honor him, for Paul informs them he almost gave his life in the work he did on their behalf. 1 Thessalonians 5:13 says, "And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake." Those who make great sacrifice for the cause of Christ should certainly be esteemed highly by the church.

Verse 30

Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life: It is on account of the work of Christ that Epaphroditus nearly died. Furthermore, "not regarding his life" means that he "risked" his life (Today’s English Version) for Paul; or as the New English Bible says, "he staked his life to give me the help you were not able to give me yourselves."

The words "not regarding" are translated "risking" in the New International Version and the New American Standard Bible. The word has been understood by some to be derived from words meaning "staked," "to throw down a stake," or "to make a venture" (Hawthorne 120). Obviously, these are references to gambling. The words "probably refer to nothing more than the risk of ill-health involved in Epaphroditus’ devoted service to the people" (Loh and Nida 85). Three times in verses 27-30 Paul refers to the danger to which Epaphroditus has subjected himself. Silva says:

In spite of the illness, which must have struck him during his journey, Epaphroditus pressed on at the risk of his life. Perhaps his condition had greatly deteriorated by the time he reached Rome, and his life hung in the balance for a while (161).

to supply your lack of service toward me: This phrase reveals the selfless spirit of Epaphroditus, which models perfectly the Christ-like spirit of the hymn earlier in this chapter. Such humble service toward the cause of Christ and one’s fellow companion in Christ is the exact character Paul is exhorting the Philippians to cultivate in their own lives. As his example is precisely that which they are to follow, they are to welcome him warmly and esteem him highly for his work.

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Philippians 2". "Contending for the Faith". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/philippians-2.html. 1993-2022.
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