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Philippians 2

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Verses 1-99

2:1-4. EXHORTATION TO UNANIMITY, LOVE, AND HUMILITY

If therefore there is any power of exhortation in your experience as Christians; if your mutual love affords you any consolation; if you are in true fellowship with the Spirit of God; if there are any tender mercies and compassions in your hearts—I beseech you to complete my joy by your unanimity and your love to each other. Do not act from a spirit of faction or vainglory, but each of you account his brother as better than himself, and study his interests in preference to your own.

1. εἴ τις οὖν παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ: ‘if there be any exhortation in Christ.’

The particular connection of οὖν is clearly with 1:27, ἥτις … ἐν ἐμοί being a digression, though not parenthetical. The main element of πολιτεύεσθε is brave standing for the gospel in a spirit of concord. It is this which is taken up and expanded in the opening of this chapter. ‘I have exhorted you to stand fast in one spirit; to strive with one mind for the faith of the gospel, unterrified by your adversaries. Therefore complete my joy by being of one accord and avoiding faction and vainglory.’ Out of this appeal grows, logically, the exhortation to humility, without which such unanimity cannot be maintained. The exhortation opens in the form of an adjuration. The rapid succession and variety of the appeals and the repetition of εἴ τις are peculiarly impressive. Says Chrys.: πῶς λιπαρῶς, σφοδρῶς, μετὰ συμπαθείας πολλῆς! “How earnestly, how vehemently, with how much sympathy!”

This earnestness was largely due to the fact that Paul was disturbed by reports of internal dissensions in the Philippian church. This is indicated not only by his words here, but by his moving appeal to the example of Christ; his admonition to do all things without murmurings and disputings (vs. 14); his entreaty of Euodia and Syntyche (4:2); his exhortation to moderation or forbearance (4:5); and his reference to the peace of God (4:7).

The appeal is upon four grounds. The first and third set forth objective principles of Christian life; the second and fourth, subjective principles. The appeal is not to what was demanded by the readers’ personal relations to Paul. So Chrys. “If ye wish to give me any comfort in my trials, and encouragement in Christ; if you have sympathy with me in my sufferings,” etc. So the Gk. Fathers generally. It is the Christian experience of the Philippians that is appealed to. ‘I exhort you by those feelings of which, as Christians, you are conscious.’

παράκλησις ἐν Χριστῷ: If the fact of your being in Christ has any power to exhort you to brotherly concord. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:15, Ephesians 4:16.)

Παράκλησις from παρακαλεῖν, ‘to call to one’s side’ for help, counsel, etc. Thus παράκλητος, ‘an advocate,’ is one who is called in to plead another’s cause. With this primary sense are associated the ideas of entreaty, exhortation, and consolation. In the sense of ‘entreaty,’ the noun appears in N.T. only in 2 Corinthians 8:4, but the verb is common. (See Matthew 8:34, Matthew 8:14:36; Mark 1:40, etc.) As ‘consolation’ or ‘comfort,’ the noun, Luke 2:25, Luke 2:6:24; 2 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:7:4; the verb, 2 Corinthians 1:4, 2 Corinthians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 1:7:6. As ‘exhortation’ or ‘counsel,’ the noun, Acts 13:15; Romans 12:8; Hebrews 13:22; the verb, Acts 2:40, Acts 2:11:23; Romans 12:8; Titus 2:15. The last sense is the usual one in Paul.

παραμύθιον: ‘persuasion.’ Only here, but the earlier form παραμυθία, 1 Corinthians 14:3. Class. ‘address,’ ‘exhortation’ (Plat. Leg. vi. 773 E, ix. 880 A); ‘assuagement’ or ‘abatement’ (Soph. Elec. 130; Plat. Euthyd. 272 B). Hence ‘consolation’ (Plat. Repub. 329 E). See παρακαλεῖν and παραμυθεῖσθαι together, 1 Thessalonians 2:11. Here, the form which παράκλησις assumes—a friendly, mild persuasion, “not pædagogic or judicial” (Kl.). Paul means, therefore, ‘if love has any persuasive power to move you to concord.’

κοινωνία πνεύματος: ‘fellowship of the Spirit.’ (Comp. Romans 15:30.) For κοινωνία, see on 1:5. The exact phrase only here, and κοιν. with πν. only 2 Corinthians 13:13.

Πνεῦμα is the Holy Spirit. The meaning is ‘fellowship with the Holy Spirit,’ not ‘fellowship of spirits among themselves.’ The genitive is the genitive of that of which one partakes. So habitually by Paul (1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Corinthians 1:10:16; 2 Corinthians 8:4, 2 Corinthians 8:13:13; Ephesians 3:9; Philippians 3:10). Not ‘the fellowship which the Spirit imparts,’ which would be grammatical, but contrary to N.T. usage. Hence Paul means, ‘if you are partakers of the Holy Spirit and his gifts and influences.’


εἴ τις σπλάγχνα καὶ οἰκτιρμοί: ‘if any tender mercies and compassions.’

τις σπλαγχνα with א ABCDFGKLP and nearly all the verss. is overwhelmingly supported agt. τινα in a few minusc., Clem., Chrys., Thdrt., Theoph. But the attested reading is a manifest solecism,—either a transcriber’s error, or a hasty repetition of τις.

For σπλάγχνα, see on 1:8, and comp. Philemon 1:7, Philemon 1:12, Philemon 1:20. The exact phrase σπλ. καὶ οἰκ. only here, but see James 5:11; Colossians 3:12.


Σπλάγχνα is the organ or seat of compassionate emotion: οἰκτιρμοί are the emotions themselves. (See Schmidt, Synon. 143, 4.)

2. πληρώσατέ μου τὴν χαρὰν: ‘fulfil’ or ‘fill ye up my joy.’

Πληρ., in its original sense, ‘to make full’; the joy regarded as a measure to be filled. (Comp. John 3:29, John 3:15:11, John 3:17:13; 2 Corinthians 10:6.)

Μου before τὴν χαρὰν implies no special emphasis. (See Colossians 4:18; Philemon 1:20; and often elsewhere.) (Win. xxii.)


ἵνα: not ‘in order that,’ but to be taken with ‘I bid’ or ‘exhort,’ which is implied in the imperat. πληρώσατε, and indicating the purport of the bidding. (See on 1:9.)

Mey. maintains the telic sense, and Lightf. renders ‘so as to,’ but refers to 1:9, where he explains ἴνα as signifying purport.

τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε: ‘be of the same mind.’ (Comp. Romans 12:16, Romans 12:15:5; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 4:2.) For φρονῆτε, see on 1:7. This more general expression is defined by the following two, not three, separate clauses.

τὴν αὐτὴν�Colossians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 John 4:12-16.)


σύνψυχοι τὸ ἓν φρονοῦντες: ‘with harmony of soul cherishing the one sentiment.’ This second participial clause points back to τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε, and is illustrated by σύνψυχοι, which marks the common disposition under the influence of which unanimity of sentiment is to be attained. So Mey., Alf., Ellic., Weiss, Beet.

Others, as WH., Kl., Lightf., De W., Lips., Weizs., take σύνψ. and τὸ ἒν φρον. as separate predicates. The attempted distinctions between τὸ αὐτὸ and τὸ ἓν are hypercritical. Thus, τὸ ἓν, agreement of mind and will; τὸ αὐτὸ, agreement in doctrine (Calov., Am E., Rosenm.); τὸ αὐτὸ, unanimity in general; τὸ ἓν, the one concrete object of their striving (Weiss). The two are practically synonymous. Wetstein cites λέγοντες ἓν καὶ ταὐτὸ (Polyb. v. 441), and ἓν καὶ ταὐτὸ φρονοῦντες (Aristid. Concord. Rhodior. 569). This is the only occurrence of σύνψυχος in Bib. Gk. (Comp. ἰσόψυχος, vs. 20.)

For το εν φρον. א* Act_17, Vulg., Goth., read το αυτο φρον., a mechanical conformation to το αυτο φρονητε.


The same exhortation to concord is now put negatively, showing what the requirement excludes.

3. μηδὲν κατʼ ἐριθίαν μηδὲ κατὰ κενοδοξίαν: ‘being in nothing factiously or vaingloriously minded.’ (Comp. Ign. Philad. i., viii.) Supply φρονοῦντες from vs. 2, which is better than ποιοῦντες or πράσσοντες (A.V.; R.V.), since the thought is on the line of moral disposition rather than of doing. For the suppression of the verb, comp. Galatians 5:13; 2 Corinthians 9:6; Matthew 26:5.


ἐριθίαν: see on 1:17.

κατὰ: ‘by way of’; marking the rule or principle according to which something is done. (See John 2:6; Romans 2:2, Romans 2:11:21; Win. xlix.)

κενοδοξίαν: ‘vainglory.’ Only here in N.T., but comp. LXX; Sap. 14:14; 4 Macc. 2:15, 8:18; and κενοδοξῶν (4 Macc. 5:9); also κενόδοξοι (Galatians 5:26). Primarily, ‘vain opinion,’ ‘error,’ as Ign. Magn. xi., ἄγκιστρα τῆς κενοδοξίας. (See on δόξα, 1:11.) A vain conceit of possessing a rightful claim to honor. Suidas defines, ‘any vain thinking about one’s self.’ It implies a contrast with the state of mind which seeks the true glory of God, as ch. 1:26. Its object is vain and fleshly—something which imparts only a superficial glitter in the eyes of the worldly-minded. In Galatians 5:26, κενόδοξοι is further defined by�Romans 3:1, Romans 9:4). Against these the Philippians are warned in ch. 3. On the Gentile side the temptation would lie in the conceit of a profound gnosis, and in their self-esteem growing out of their call and the rejection of the Jews. Paul deals with this in Romans 11:20-25. They might also be tempted by the fancy of their own superior culture and breadth of view to despise the scruples of weak brethren. (See Rom_14.; 1Co_8.)

τῇ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ: ‘in lowliness of mind.’ In class. Gk. ταπεινὸς usually implies meanness of condition; lowness of rank; abjectness. At best the classical conception is only modesty, absence of assumption, an element of worldly wisdom, and in no sense opposed to self-righteousness. The word ταπεινοφροσύνη is an outgrowth of the gospel. It does not appear before the Christian era. The virtue itself is founded in a correct estimate of actual littleness conjoined with a sense of sinfulness. It regards man not only with reference to God, but also with reference to his fellowmen, as here. The article τῇ probably denotes the virtue considered abstractly or generically. (Comp. Romans 12:10 ff.) It may, however, be used possessively, ‘your lowliness’ (Lightf.), or as indicating the due lowliness which should influence each (Ellic.).

ἀλλήλους ἡγούμενοι ὑπερέχοντας ἑαυτῶν: ‘each counting other better than himself.’ (Comp. Romans 12:10.) Ἡγεῖσθαι implies a more conscious, a surer judgment, resting on more careful weighing of the facts, than νομίζειν. (See Schmidt, Synon. 105, 4; 70, 1, 3, 7.)

Ὑπερέχειν with genit. not elsewhere in Paul. (Comp. iv. 7; Romans 13:1.)


B reads τους with υπερεχοντας. DFG υπερεχοντες.

4. ἕκαστοι σκοποῦντες—ἕκαστοι:

1st εκαστοι, as ABFG 17, Vulg.; א CDKLP, Goth., Cop., Arm., Syr.utr, read εκαστος, WH. marg. 2d εκαστοι, as א ABCvi Dgr P 17, 31, 47, Cop.; KL, Goth., Syr.utr, Arm., read εκαστος.

For σκοποῦντες with a few Fath. reads σκοπειτε.

σκοποῦντες: ‘looking.’ For this use of the participle instead of the imperative, comp. Romans 12:9; Hebrews 13:5. It forms an expansion of the previous words. Σκοπεῖν is ‘to look attentively’; to fix the attention upon a thing with an interest in it. (See Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 4:18; Galatians 6:1; Philippians 3:17.) Hence, often, ‘to aim at.’ (Comp. σκοπὸν, 3:14.) Schmidt defines: “to direct one’s attention upon a thing, either in order to obtain it, or because one has a peculiar interest in it, or a duty to fulfil towards it. Also to have an eye to with a view of forming a right judgment” (Synon. 11, 12).


ἀλλὰ καὶ: Καὶ, ‘also,’ is inserted because Paul would not have it understood that one is to pay no attention to his own affairs.

א* Act_17 join 2d εκαστοι with τουτ. φρον. following. The previous sentence would therefore end with ετερων.

Humility is urged because it is necessary to concord, as κενοδοξία is fatal to concord. For the supreme example and illustration of this virtue, the readers are now pointed to Jesus Christ. (Comp. Romans 15:3; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 Peter 2:21, and the striking parallel in Clem. ad Cor. xvi.)


5-8. Cherish the disposition which dwelt in Christ Jesus. For he, though he existed from eternity in a state of equality with God, did not regard that divine condition of being as one might regard a prize to be eagerly grasped, but laid it aside, and took the form of a bondservant, having been made in the likeness of men: and having been thus found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to God even so far as to suffer death, yea, the ignominious death of the cross.

On the whole passage, see note at the end of this chapter.

5. τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ: ‘have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus.’

אc DFGKLP, Goth., Syr.P, insert γαρ after τουτο; א*ABC 17, 37, Cop., Arm., Æth., omit γαρ; φρονειτε with א ABC* DFG 67**, Vulg., Syr.utr; C3 KLP, Cop., Arm., Goth., read φρονεισθω.

ἐν ὑμῖν: ‘in you’; not ‘among you,’ which is precluded by the following ἐν ΧἸ. (Comp. Matthew 3:9, Matthew 3:9:3, 21.) Ἐν ὑμῖν with the active φρονεῖτε presents no difficulty if it is remembered that φρονεῖν signifies the general mental attitude or disposition. (See on 1:7.)


ἐν ΧἸ: There was a slight difference of opinion as to whether that which is commended to imitation is Christ’s ταπεινοφροσύνη (so the Gk. Fathers), or his self-denying zeal for the salvation of others (Aug. Ans.). It is both combined. They are represented respectively by ἐταπείνωσεν (vs. 8) and ἐκένωσεν (vs. 7). So Beng., “qui non sua quaesiverit sed se ipsum demiserit.”

6. ὃς: Refers to Christ as the subject. It is the subject of both classes of statements which follow,—those predicated of Christ’s preincarnate state and of his human condition. The immediate context defines the specific reference in each case.

ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ: ‘in the form of God.’ ‘Form’ is an inadequate rendering of μορφὴ, but our language affords no better word. By ‘form’ is commonly understood ‘shape,’ ‘sensible appearance.’ So of Christ’s human form (Mark 16:12). But the word in this sense cannot be applied to God. Μορφὴ here means that expression of being which is identified with the essential nature and character of God, and which reveals it. This expression of God cannot be conceived by us, though it may be conceived and apprehended by pure spiritual intelligences.


ὑπάρχων: ‘subsisting’ or ‘though he subsisted.’ Originally ‘to begin,’ ‘make a beginning’; thence ‘to come forth’; ‘be at hand’; ‘be in existence.’ It is sometimes claimed that ὑπάρχειν, as distinguished from εἶναι, implies a reference to an antecedent condition. Thus R.V. marg. ‘being originally.’ Suidas, = προεῖναι. That it does so in some cases is true. (See Thuc. iv. 18, vi. 86; Hdt. ii. 15; Dem. iii. 15, v. 13.) Comp. the meaning ‘to be taken for granted’ (Plat. Symp. 198 D; Tim. 30 C). On the other hand, it sometimes denotes a present as related to a future condition. (See Hdt. vii. 144; Thuc. ii. 64; and the meaning ‘to be in store’ [Æs. Ag. 961].) The most that can be said is that the word is very often used with a relative meaning; while, at the same time, it often occurs simply as ‘to be.’ (See Schmidt, Synon. 81, 7.)

οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ: ‘counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God.’

Ἁρπαγμὸν is here equivalent to ἅρπαγμα, the more regular form for the object of the action,—the thing seized,—while substantives in μος have usually an active sense. There are, however, exceptions to this. Thus θεσμός and χρησμός are neither of them used actively. Φραγμός, ‘a fencing in,’ is also used like φράγμα, ‘a fence.’ Ἁγιασμός is both ‘the act of consecration’ and ‘sanctification.’ (Comp. ὀνειδισμός, σωφρονισμός, and ἱλασμός.) There is only one example of ἁρπαγμός in any class. author (Plut. Moral. p. 12A) where the meaning is apparently active. It occurs in two passages of Cyr. Alex., De Adorat. i. 25, and Cont. Jul. 6., both in a passive sense, and in Euseb. Comm. in Luc. 6., also passive. Max. Conf. Schol. in Lib. de divin. nom. 57 D, explains οὐχ ἁρπ. ἡγ. by οὐκ�

τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ: Εἶναι, ‘to exist’; not as the abstract substantive verb ‘to be.’ Ἴσα is adverbial, ‘in a manner of equality.’ (Comp. Thuc. iii. 14; Eurip. Orest. 882; and other examples in Win. xxvii.) (See LXX; Job 5:14; Sap. 7:3.) The phrase therefore does not mean ‘to be equal with God,’ but ‘existence in the way of equality with God’ (Mey., Ellic., Weiss, De W., Kl.).


Others, as Lightf., take ἴσα predicatively, and εἶναι as ‘to be.’

7.�Romans 4:14; 1 Corinthians 1:17, 1 Corinthians 1:9:15; 2 Corinthians 9:3; LXX; Jeremiah 14:2, Jeremiah 15:9. Not used or intended here in a metaphysical sense to define the limitations of Christ’s incarnate state, but as a strong and graphic expression of the completeness of his self-renunciation. It includes all the details of humiliation which follow, and is defined by these. Further definition belongs to speculative theology. On Baur’s attempt to show traces of Gnostic teaching in these words, see Introd. vi.

μορφὴν δούλου λαβών: ‘having taken the form of a bondservant.’ Characterising ἑαυ. ἐκ. generally. The participle is explanatory, ‘by taking.’ (Comp. Ephesians 1:9; and see Burt. 145, and Win. xlv.) Μορφὴν, as in vs. 6, an expression or manifestation essentially characteristic of the subject. Christ assumed that form of being which completely answered to and characteristically expressed the being of a bondservant. Only μορφὴ δούλου must not be taken as implying a slave-condition, but a condition of service as contrasted with the condition of equality with God.

Some, as Mey., Ellic., supply θεοῦ, ‘servant of God.’ But this limits the phrase unduly. He was not servant of God only, but of men also. (Comp. Matthew 20:27, Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:44, Mark 10:45; Luke 12:37; John 13:1-5, John 13:13-17.)

ἐν ὁμοιώματι�Romans 5:14, Romans 6:5, Romans 8:3.) “To affirm likeness is at once to assert similarity and to deny sameness” (Dickson, Baird Lect., 1883).

γενόμενος: Contrasted with ὑπάρχων. He entered into a new state. (Comp. John 1:14; Galatians 4:4; 1 Timothy 3:16.) For the phrase γενόμενος ἐν, see Luke 22:44; Acts 22:17; Romans 16:7; 2 Corinthians 3:7.

καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος: ‘and being found in fashion as a man.’ Σχῆμα is the outward fashion which appeals to the senses. The ‘form of a bondservant’ expresses the fact that the manifestation as a servant corresponded to the real fact that Christ came as a servant of men. In ἐν ὁμ. ἄνθ. the thought is still linked with that of his essential nature, which rendered an absolute identity with men impossible. In σχῆμ. εὑρ. the thought is confined to the outward guise as it appealed to human observation. Σχῆμα denotes something changeable as well as external. It is an accident of being. (See 1 Corinthians 7:31.) The compounds of μορφὴ and σχῆμα bring out the difference between the inward and the outward. Thus συμμόρφους, Romans 8:29; συμμορφιζόμενος,Philippians 3:10; Philippians 3:10; μεταμορφούμεθα (οῦσθε), 2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 12:2; μορφωθῇ, Galatians 4:19; —all of an inner, spiritual process, while συσχηματίζεσθαι (Romans 12:2; 1 Peter 1:14) marks a process affecting that which is outward. See the two together in Philippians 3:21. See Lightf.’s note on the synonyms μορφὴ and σχῆμα (Comm. p. 127).

Mey. and De W. take καὶ σχ. … ἄνθ. with the preceding clause: ‘becoming in the likeness of men and (so) found in fashion,’ etc. This is plausible, but it makes the next sentence very abrupt, and breaks the progression. Εὑρεθεὶς introduces a new portion of the history. The laying aside of the form of God—the self—emptying—consisted in his taking the form of a servant and becoming in the likeness of men. In this condition he is found. In this new guise he first becomes apprehensible to human perception; and on this stage, where he is seen by men, other acts of humiliation follow. (Comp. Isaiah 53:2.)

Εὑρεθεὶς is not a Hebraism, nor does it stand for εἶναι. Εἶναι expresses the quality of a person or thing in itself; εὑρ. the quality as it is discovered and recognised. (Comp. Matthew 1:18; Luke 17:18; Acts 5:39; Romans 7:10; 2 Corinthians 11:12; and see Win. lxv.)


ὡς: not what he was recognised to be, which would have been expressed by ἄνθρωπος alone; but as, keeping up the idea of semblance expressed in ὁμοιώματι.

8. ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν: ‘he humbled himself.’ The emphasis is on the act, not on the subject. Not synonymous with ἐκένωσεν. (Comp. 2 Corinthians 11:7; Philippians 4:12.)

The more general ἐταπείνωσεν is now specifically defined. γενόμενος ὑπήκοος: ‘becoming obedient or subject.’ He became as a man; in that condition he humbled himself; his humiliation appeared in his subjection. Γενόμ., with an explanatory force, ‘by becoming.’ Understand θεῷ. (Comp. Matthew 26:39; Romans 5:19; Hebrews 5:8.)

μέχρι θανάτου: ‘even unto death.’ To the extent of death. (Comp. Hebrews 12:4; 2 Timothy 2:9.)


θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ: ‘yea, death of the cross.’

Δὲ introduces another and more striking detail of the humiliation, and leads on to a climax: ‘death, yea, the most ignominious of deaths.’ For this force of δὲ, comp. Romans 3:22, Romans 9:20.

σταυροῦ: א adds του. The close of the description leaves the reader at the very lowest point of Christ’s humiliation, death as a malefactor; the mode of death to which a curse was attached in the Mosaic law. (See Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 12:2.) Paul, as a Roman citizen, was exempt from this disgrace.


The result of this humiliation was the highest exaltation.

9-11. On this account God exalted him above all creatures, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, earth, and hades, should bow the knee and acknowledge him as Lord, and by this confession glorify God the Father.

9. διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν: ‘wherefore also God highly exalted him.’

διὸ: ‘in consequence of which.’ (Comp. Hebrews 2:9, Hebrews 12:2.) The idea of Christ’s receiving his exaltation as a reward was repugnant to the Reformed theologians. Calvin attempts to evade it by explaining διὸ as quo facto, which is utterly untenable. At the same time, it is not necessary to insist on the idea of recompense, since διὸ may express simply consequence; and exaltation is the logical result of humility in the N.T. economy (Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11, Luke 18:14). As Mey. remarks, “Christ’s saying in Matthew 23:12 was gloriously fulfilled in his own case.” “Die Erniedrigung ist nur die noch nicht eingetretene Herrlichkeit,” says Schmidt (Art. “Stand, doppelter Christi,” Herz. Rl. Enc.). For διὸ καὶ introducing a result, see Luke 1:35; Acts 10:29. The consequence corresponding to the humiliation is expressed by καὶ.


Different explanations of καὶ are given, however. Lightf. and Kl.; maintain the sense of reciprocation,—‘God, on his part’; Ellic., contrast of the exaltation with the previous humiliation.

ὑπερύψωσεν: Only here in N.T. In LXX; Psa_97 (96):9; Daniel 4:34. Not in class. Gk. Paul is fond of ὑπὲρ in compounds, and the compounds with ὑπὲρ are nearly all in his writings. (See Ellic. on Ephesians 3:20.) Its force here is not ‘more than before,’ nor ‘above his previous state of humiliation,’ but ‘in superlative measure.’ This exaltation took place through Christ’s ascension (Romans 1:3, Romans 1:4, Romans 1:8:34; Ephesians 4:9, Ephesians 4:10; Colossians 3:1). But the exaltation is viewed, not in respect of its mode, but as a state of transcendent glory, including his sitting at God’s right hand (Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1); his lordship over the living and the dead (Romans 14:9); and his reign in glory (1 Corinthians 15:25).


καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα: ‘and gave unto him the name which is above every name.’

ἐχαρίσατο: See on 1:29. Christ obtained as a gift what he renounced as a prize. (See Ephesians 1:21; Hebrews 1:4.)

τὸ ὄνομα: Possibly with a reference to the practice of giving a new name to persons at important crises in their lives. (See Genesis 17:5, 32:28; Revelation 2:17, Revelation 3:12.) The name conferred is JESUS CHRIST, combining the human name, which points to the conquest won in the flesh, and the Messianic name, ‘the Anointed of God.’ The two factors of the name are successively taken up in vs. 10, 11.


There is a great variety of explanations on this point: Κύριος (Kl., Lips., Weiss), Ἰησοῦς (Ellic., Ead.), Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς (De W., Mey.), Υἱὸς (Thdrt., Pelag., Aug.), Θεὸς (Theoph., Œc.). Lightf. holds that ὄνομα means ‘title’ or ‘dignity,’ and must be taken in the same sense in both verses. (See on next vs.)

The reading το ονομα is acc. to א ABC 17. το is omitted by DFGKLP.

10. ἵνα: Denotes the purpose of the exaltation.

ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ: ‘In the name of Jesus’; not ‘at the name.’ Ὄνομα with τοῦ κυρ. ἡμ. ἸΧ, or τ. κυρ. Ι., or κυρ. Ἰ., or αὐτοῦ (Cht.), occurs ten times in Paul. In none of these cases is the word a mere title of address. Paul follows the Hebrew usage, in which the name is used for everything which the name covers, so that the name is equivalent to the person himself. (So Matthew 6:9, Matthew 10:41.) To baptize into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to put the subject of baptism symbolically into connection and communion with all that those names represent. He who believes on the name of the Lord believes on the Lord himself. Hence, to bow the knee in the name of Jesus is to pay adoration in that sphere of authority, grace, and glory for which the name stands; as being consciously within the kingdom of which he is Lord, as recognising the rightfulness of the titles ‘Jesus,’ ‘Saviour,’ ‘Lord,’ and as loyally accepting the obligations which those titles imply.

πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῇ: Comp. Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11. The meaning can only be that Christ is presented as the object of worship; his claim to that honor being fixed by the previous declarations. Before his incarnation he was on an equality with God. After his incarnation he was exalted to God’s right hand as Messianic sovereign.

ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων: The whole body of created intelligent beings in all departments of the universe. (See Romans 8:21; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:20-22; Hebrews 2:8; Revelation 5:13; and comp. Ign. Trall. 9.; Polyc. Phil. ii.) Ἐπουράνιοι are heavenly beings, angels, archangels, etc. (Ephesians 1:21, Ephesians 1:3:10; Hebrews 1:4-6; Heb_1 Pet. 3:23); Ἐπίγειοι, beings on earth (1 Corinthians 15:40).

καταχθονίων: Only here in Bib. and Apocr. In class. of the infernal gods. Chr., Œc., Theoph., and the mediæval expositors explain of the demons, citing Luke 4:34; James 2:19. These, however, are not regarded by Paul as in Hades. (See Ephesians 2:2, Ephesians 6:12.) Rather the departed in Hades. Nothing definite as to Christ’s descent into Hades can be inferred from this.


Lightf. regards all the genitives as neuter, urging that the whole creation is intended, and that the limitation to intelligent beings detracts from the universality of the homage. This, however, seems to be over-subtilising.

11. ἐξομολογήσηται: ‘should confess.’ The LXX, Isaiah 45:23, has ὀμεῖται, ‘shall swear,’ for which the seventh-century correctors of א read ἐξομολογήσεται.


WH., Treg., R.T., Weiss. (Txtk. Unt.), read εξομολογησηται with א B; Tisch. εξομολογησεται, with ACDFGKLP. It is possible that εται may have been altered to ηται by transcribers in order to conform it to κάμψῃ.

Lightf. renders ‘confess with thanksgiving.’ He says that the secondary sense of ἐξομολ., ‘to offer thanks,’ has almost entirely supplanted its primary meaning, ‘to declare openly.’ But out of eleven instances in the N.T., four are used of confessing sins, one of Christ’s confession of his servants before the Father, and one of Judas’ ‘agreeing’ or ‘engaging’ with the chief priests. He says, further, that ‘confess with thanksgiving’ is the meaning in Isaiah 45:23. But the reading there is ὀμεῖται.

Κύριος does not necessarily imply divinity. It is used in LXX of Abraham (Genesis 18:12; comp. 1 Peter 3:6); of Joseph (Genesis 42:10, Genesis 42:33); of Elkanah (1 Samuel 1:8). In the Pauline writings the master of slaves is styled both δεσπότης (1 Timothy 6:1, 1 Timothy 6:2; Titus 2:9), and κύριος (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1). Often in N.T. in the general sense of ‘master,’ or in address, ‘sir.’ Of God, Matthew 1:20, Matthew 1:22, Matthew 1:24, Matthew 1:2:15; Acts 11:16. Ὀ κύριος is used by Mt. of Christ only once (21:3) until after the resurrection (28:16). In the other gospels much oftener. In the progress of Christian thought in the N.T. the meaning develops towards a specific designation of the divine Saviour, as may be seen in the expressions ‘Jesus Christ our Lord,’ ‘Jesus our Lord,’ etc. Von Soden remarks: “God gave him the name Jesus Christ. It was necessary that his human, Messianic character should be developed before men would confess that Jesus is Lord. What God as Jehovah in the old Covenant has determined and prepared, Christ shall now carry out.”

εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός: ‘to the glory of God the Father.’ (Comp. John 12:28, John 12:13:31, John 12:32, John 12:14:13, John 12:17:1.) The words are dependent upon ἐξομολ., not on ὅτι. It is the confession that is to be to the glory of God the Father, not the fact that Christ is Lord. (See Romans 15:7-9; Ephesians 1:6, Ephesians 1:11, Ephesians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 1:20.) “Everywhere where the Son is glorified the Father is glorified. Where the Son is dishonored the Father is dishonored” (Chr.). (See Luke 10:16; John 5:23.)


Some practical exhortations are now drawn from the divine example just portrayed, especially from the spirit of subjection exhibited by the incarnate Lord.

12-18. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, even as you have always manifested a spirit of obedience, so now, not as though I were present, but much more in my absence, carry out your own salvation with conscientious caution and self-distrust, because you are appointed to carry out God’s good pleasure; and it is for this that God energises your will and stimulates you to work. That you may thus carry the divine will into effect, perform all its dictates without murmuring or criticising, that so you may show yourselves blameless and guileless, true children of God in the midst of an ungodly society, in which you are to appear, holding forth the gospel as luminaries in a dark world. Thus I shall have good reason to boast when Christ shall appear, that my labors for you have not been in vain. Yes, even if, along with the offering of your faith to God, my own blood is to be poured out like a libation at a sacrifice, I rejoice in this, because my death will only promote the working out of your salvation; and this will be a cause of joy to you no less than to me.

12. ὥστε: ‘so that’; ‘so then.’ The point of connection through ὥστε with the preceding passage is ὑπήκοος in vs. 8. As Christ obtained exaltation and heavenly glory through perfect obedience to God, therefore do you, with like subjection to him, carry out your own salvation. The spirit of obedience is to be shown in their godly fear, in the avoidance of murmuring and skeptical criticism, and in their holy lives and their bold proclamation of the gospel in the midst of ungodly men. For a similar use of ὥστε, comp. iv. 1; Romans 7:12; 1 Corinthians 14:39, 1 Corinthians 15:58.

ὑπηκούσατε: Υ̓πακούειν is, properly, to obey as the result of listening or hearkening �Acts 5:29, Acts 5:32, Acts 5:27:21; Titus 3:1) The question whether θεῷ or μοὶ is to be supplied is quite superfluous, since ὑπηκ. is used absolutely. Ye have always shown a spirit of obedience, whether to God or to me as his apostle.


μὴ ὡς ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ μου μόνον: ‘not as in my presence only.’ Connect with κατεργάζεσθε, not with πάντ. ὑπηκ., which would require οὐ instead of μὴ (see Win. lv, and Burt. 479), and would imply that the readers, left to themselves, had been more obedient than when Paul was with them.

ὡς: Introduced because Paul could not give an admonition for the time when he would be present. It points to an inward motive by which the readers are not to suffer themselves to be influenced. (Comp. Romans 9:32; 2 Corinthians 2:17; Philemon 1:14.) They are not to work out their salvation as if they were doing it in Paul’s presence merely, neglecting it in his absence.


ως omitted by Lat. Vet., Vulg., Syr.P, Cop., Arm., Æth., B, 17. WH. bracket.

μόνον: with ἐν τῇ παρ. μου, on which the emphasis lies. For its position after the emphatic word, comp. Romans 4:16, Romans 4:23; 1 Thessalonians 1:5.


νῦν: Now that you are deprived of my personal presence.

ἀπουσίᾳ: Only here in Gk. Bib., and not common anywhere.

μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου τὴν ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν κατεργάζεσθε: ‘carry out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’ (Comp. Hebrews 12:28.)

Φόβος and τρόμος often occur together in LXX. (See Genesis 9:2; Exodus 15:16; Isaiah 19:16.) In N.T. see 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 6:5. Φόβος is godly fear, growing out of recognition of weakness and of the power of temptation; filial dread of offending God. (See Acts 9:31; Romans 3:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 1:17, 1 Peter 3:15.) Chr. justly observes that καὶ τρόμου only strengthens the μετ. φόβ. Paul would say: ‘The work is great. Failure is possible. Do not be over confident.’ “It is necessary to fear and tremble in each one’s working out of his own salvation, lest he be tripped up (ὑποσκελισθεῖς) and fail of this” (Œc.).

τὴν ἑαυτ. σωτ. κατεργ.: Κατεργάζεσθαι is ‘to accomplish’; ‘achieve’; ‘carry out or through.’ So Beng., “usque ad metam”; Calov., “ad finem perducere”; Grot., “peragere.” (See Romans 4:15, Romans 4:5:3; 2 Corinthians 5:5; James 1:3; Ephesians 6:13; and comp. especially 2 Corinthians 7:10.) There is no contradiction implied of the truth that salvation is the gift of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8). That grace itself engenders moral faculties and stimulates moral exertions. Because grace is given, man must work. The gift of grace is exhibited in making man a co-worker with God (1 Corinthians 3:9); the salvation bestowed by grace is to be carried out by man with the aid of grace (Romans 6:8-19; 2 Corinthians 6:1). What this carrying out includes and requires is seen in Philippians 3:10, Philippians 3:4:Philippians 3:1-7; Ephesians 4:13-16, Ephesians 4:22 ff.; Colossians 2:6, Colossians 2:7. For these things the believer is constantly strengthened by the Spirit. The possibility of success appears in Paul’s prayer (Ephesians 3:16-20). (See a good passage in Pfleiderer, Paulinismus, p. 234.)

ἑαυτῶν: ‘your own’; not =�Matthew 16:7, Matthew 16:21:38; Ephesians 4:32.) Ἑαυτῶν is emphatic as related to the following θεὸς. God is working in you; do your part as co-workers with God.

13. θεὸς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ἐνεργῶν ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ τὸ θέλειν καὶ τὸ ἐνεργεῖν ὑπὲρ τῆς εὐδοκίας: ‘for it is God that worketh in you both the willing and the working for his good pleasure.’ The reason for the exhortation κατεργ. is that it is God’s own work which they have to do. It is God’s good pleasure which they are to fulfil, as did their great example, Jesus Christ; and it is God who, to that end, is energising their will and their working. (See 2 Corinthians 5:18.) This is a serious task, to be performed in no self-reliant spirit, but with reverent caution and dependence on God.


Γάρ does not introduce the reason for the fear and trembling especially, but only as these are attached to κατεργ. It gives the reason for the entire clause, κατεργ. … τρόμου.

ὁ ἐνεργῶν: Ἐνεργεῖν is ‘to put forth power’; and the kindred ἐνέργεια (always in N.T. of superhuman power) is ‘power in exercise.’ Paul invariably uses the active, ἐνεργεῖν, of the working of God or of Satan, and the middle, ἐνεργεῖσθαι, in other cases, as Romans 7:5; Galatians 5:6. Never the passive. The verb carries the idea of effectual working, as here; and the result is often specified. (See Romans 7:5; Galatians 2:8, Galatians 2:3:5; Ephesians 1:11 ff.) On the different words for ‘power’ in N.T., see W. St. on John 1:12.

ἐν ὑμῖν: ‘in you,’ as 1 Corinthians 12:6; 2 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 2:2; Colossians 1:29. Not ‘among you.’

τὸ θέλειν: As between θέλειν and βούλεσθαι, the general distinction is that θέλ. expresses a determination or definite resolution of the will; while βούλ. expresses an inclination, disposition, or wish. The two words are, however, often interchanged in N.T. when no distinction is emphasised. (Comp. Mark 15:15 and Luke 23:20; Acts 27:43 and Matthew 27:17; John 18:39 and Matthew 14:5; Mark 6:48 and Acts 19:30.) (See W. St. on Matthew 1:19.) Here θέλειν, of a definite purpose or determination.

τὸ ἐνεργεῖν: The inward working in the soul, producing the determination which is directed at the κατεργ. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 12:6; Galatians 3:5; Ephesians 3:20.) The two substantive-infinitives are used rather than nouns because active energy is emphasised; and the two καὶ’s point to the fact that both—the willing and the working alike—are of God. God so works upon the moral nature that it not only intellectually and theoretically approves what is good (Romans 7:14-23), but appropriates God’s will as its own. The willing wrought by God unfolds into all the positive and determinate movements of the human will to carry God’s will into effect.


ὑπὲρ τῆς εὐδοκίας: ‘for the sake of his good pleasure.’ Different connections have been proposed for this clause. That with the succeeding verse, ‘for good will’s sake do all things,’ etc., may be summarily dismissed. The majority of interpreters rightly connect it with ὁ ἐνεργῶν: ‘it is God who works in you the willing and the working in order that he may carry out his good pleasure.’ Paul’s thought is this: Carry out your own salvation with holy fear, and especially for the reason that it is God’s good pleasure that you should achieve that result; and therefore he energises your will and your activity in order that you may fulfil his good pleasure in your completed salvation.

εὐδοκίας: See on 1:15. Not mere arbitrary preference, as if Paul meant that God thus works because it suits him to do so. Nor, as Weiss, the pleasure which he has in working. Rather that his good pleasure is bound up with his fatherly love and benevolence which find their satisfaction in his children’s accomplished salvation. Hence ὑπὲρ is not=κατὰ, as if εὐδοκία were the norm or standard of God’s working (however true that may be abstractly), but expresses “the interested cause of the action” (Ellic.), as John 11:4; Romans 15:8.


Certain elements of the σωτ. κατεργ.

14. πάντα ποιεῖτε χωρὶς γογγυσμῶν καὶ διαλογισμῶν: ‘do all things without murmurings and questionings.’

πάντα: Everything that may fall to them to do. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 10:31.)

γογγυσμῶν: Not elsewhere in Paul. (See John 5:12; Acts 6:1; 1 Peter 4:9; LXX; Exodus 16:7, Exodus 16:8, Exodus 16:9, Exodus 16:12; Numbers 17:5, Numbers 17:10.) Murmuring against the dictates of God’s will is meant. (See 1 Corinthians 10:10.)

διαλογισμῶν: Skeptical questionings or criticisms. (Comp. 1 Timothy 2:8.) Usually by Paul in the sense of ‘disputatious reasoning.’ (See Romans 1:21, Romans 1:14:1; 1 Corinthians 3:20.) So LXX; Psalms 56:5 (6), 94(93):11; Isaiah 59:7. The verb διαλογίζεσθαι, always to ‘reason’ or ‘discuss,’ either with another or in one’s own mind.


Mey., De W., Lips., Ellic., Ead., render ‘doubtings.’ Œc., Theoph., Ans., ‘hesitation’ whether to perform God’s commands. So De W. and Mey. Weiss, ‘hesitation’ with reference to things which are to be done or suffered for the sake of salvation. Others, ‘doubts’ about future reward, or the divine promises.

15. ἵνα γένησθε ἄμεμπτοι καὶ�

ἀκέραιοι: lit. ‘unmixed,’ ‘unadulterated,’ describing the inward condition. (Comp. Matthew 10:16; Romans 16:9.)


τέκνα θεοῦ ἄμωμα: ‘children of God without blemish.’

Both τέκνον and υἱός signify a relation based upon parentage. It is usually said that τέκνον emphasises the natural relationship, while υἱός marks the legal or ethical status (Thay. Lex. sub τέκνον, and Sanday on Romans 8:14. Comp. Westcott, Eps. of John, p. 121); but this distinction must not be too closely pressed. In LXX both τέκνα and υἱός are applied ethically to the people of Israel as God’s peculiarly beloved people; so τέκνα (Isaiah 30:1; Sap. 16:21); or so by implication as inhabitants of his favored seat (Joel 2:23; Zechariah 9:13, comp. Matthew 23:37); υἱός (Isaiah 43:6: Deuteronomy 14:1; Sap. 9:7, 12:19, etc.). In the ethical sense, in which the distinctive character is indicated by its source, we find τέκνα�Hosea 10:9), σοφίας (Matthew 11:19), ὑπακοῆς (1 Peter 1:14), φωτὸς (Ephesians 5:8), ὀργῆς (Ephesians 2:3). Similarly υἱοὶ, according to the Hebrew use of בֵּן, בְּנֵי to mark characteristic quality as conditioned by origin. Thus υἱοὶ τῶν�Numbers 23:19; indicating people accursed, 1 Samuel 26:19; υἱ. τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, φωτὸς, Lk. 26:8;�Ephesians 2:2; διαβόλου, Acts 13:10; γεέννης, Matthew 13:15. It is true that John never uses υἱός to describe the relation of Christians to God (Revelation 21:7 is a quotation); but both the ethical relation and the relation of conferred privilege, as well as that of birth, attach to τέκνα. See John 1:12, where believers receive ἐξουσία or conferred right to become τέκνα θεοῦ, on the ground of faith. Believers are τέκνα in virtue of the gift of divine love (1 John 3:1). The τέκνα θεοῦ are manifest as such by their righteous deeds and their brotherly love (1 John 3:10). On the other hand, those who have the true filial disposition are described as ‘begotten’ or ‘born’ of God (γεγεννημένοι), John 1:13, John 1:3:3, John 1:7; 1 John 3:9, 1 John 3:4:7, 1 John 3:5:1, 1 John 3:4, 1 John 3:18. It is also true that Paul often regards the Christian relation, from the legal point of view, as adoption. He alone uses υἱοθεσία (Romans 8:15, Romans 8:23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). But in Romans 8:14, Romans 8:17, we have both υἱοὶ and τέκνα. They who are led by the Spirit are υἱοὶ; the Spirit witnesses that they are τέκνα. Both these are ethical. In vs. 21 the legal aspect appears in τὴν ἐλευθερίαν … τ. τέκ. τ. θε. (Comp. Ephesians 5:1; Romans 9:8.)


ἄμωμα: ‘without blemish.’

αμωμα as א ABC, 17. DFGKLP read αμωμητα.

αμωμητος never in LXX. The citn. is from Deuteronomy 32:5, and αμωμητα is probably due to μωμητα there.

For ἄμωμα comp. Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 1:5:27; Colossians 1:22;�2 Peter 3:14.

μέσον γενεᾶς σκολιᾶς καὶ διεστραμμένης: ‘in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.’ (See Deuteronomy 32:5, and comp. Matthew 12:39, Matthew 17:17.)


Μέσον (TR ἐν μέσῳ) is adverbial, with the force of a preposition (Win. liv.).

σκολίας: ‘indocile,’ ‘forward.’ Only here in Paul. (See Acts 2:40; 1 Peter 2:18; LXX; Psa_78[77]:8; 2:15, etc.)

διεστραμμένης: ‘twisted’ or ‘distorted.’ Only here in Paul. It denotes an abnormal moral condition. Σκολιὸς is the result of διαστρέφειν. Comp. στρεβλοῦν (2 Peter 3:16), ‘to twist or dislocate on the rack.’


ἐν οἷς φαίνεσθε ὡς φωστῆρες ἐν κόσμῳ: ‘among whom ye are seen (appear) as luminaries in the world.’

οἷς: For the plural after γενεᾶς comp. Acts 15:36; 2 Peter 3:1; Galatians 4:19; and see Blass, Gramm. p. 163.

φαίνεσθε: Not ‘shine’, which would be φαίνετε. (Comp. Matthew 2:7, 24:27; James 4:14.) The word is indicative, not imperative. For the thought, comp. Matthew 5:14, Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5.

φωστῆρες: Only here and Revelation 21:11. In LXX of the heavenly bodies, as Genesis 1:14, Genesis 1:16.


ἐν κόσμῳ: With φωστῆρες: luminaries in a dark world (Ellic., Mey., Kl., Lips.).

Lightf., De W., and Weiss connect with φαίνεσθε. Lightf.’s interpretation turns on his explanation of κόσμος, which, he says, has in the N.T. a sense so dominantly ethical that it cannot well be used here of the physical as distinguished from the moral world. An examination of the number of instances in which κόσμος occurs in a physical sense will show that this view is groundless. If taken with φαίνεσθε, ἐν κόσμῳ would be merely an unmeaning expansion of ἐν οἷς; while with φωστῆρες we have a definite image. For the omission of the article with κόσμῳ see Win. xix. 1 a.

16. λόγον ζωῆς ἐπέχοντες: ‘holding forth the word of life.’

λόγον ζωῆς: the gospel: a word which has life in itself, and which leads to life. The phrase not elsewhere in Paul. (Comp. John 6:68; Acts 5:20; 1 John 1:1.) By ζωὴ is not to be understood Christ himself, nor the eternal life, but the life which the Christian possesses through faith in Christ, and leads in fellowship with Christ (Romans 6:13, Romans 6:8:6, Romans 6:10). The genitive is the genitive of contents: not, ‘the word concerning life,’ but the word ‘which has in itself a principle as well as a message of life’; or, as Mey., “the divinely efficacious vehicle of the spirit of life.” (Comp. John 6:68.) Life and light appear in correlation in John 1:4; Ephesians 2:1; and especially since heathenism is regarded as a state alike of death and of darkness (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). Ζωὴ is the correlative of salvation. With quickening from the death of sin the believer enters upon ‘newness of life’ (Romans 6:4, Romans 6:11). This life, as to its quality, is that which shall be lived with the exalted Christ. Now it is hidden with Christ, because the exalted Christ is still hidden (Colossians 3:3; comp. Colossians 1:5). But it will be manifested in glory when Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested (Colossians 3:4). Then will come the change into ‘the likeness of the body of his glory’ (Philippians 3:21), and “mortality” will be “swallowed up of life” (2 Corinthians 5:4).

ἐπέχοντες: ‘holding forth.’ In Paul only here and 1 Timothy 4:16. In LXX only in the sense of ‘apply,’ as Job 18:2, 30:26; or ‘forbear’; ‘refrain,’ as 1 K. 22:6, 15. Lit. ‘to hold upon’ or ‘apply.’ So ‘to fix the attention’ (Luke 14:7; Acts 3:5, Acts 19:22). In the sense of ‘to hold out’ or ‘present’ it occurs only in class.

‘Holding forth,’ as Ellic., Alf., Ead., Lightf.; ‘holding fast’ (Luth., Beng., De W.); ‘having in possession’ (Kl., Lips., Mey., Weiss). Lightf. regards ἐν οἷς … κόσμῳ as parenthetical, and connects λόγ. ζω. ἐπέχ. with ἵνα γέν … διεστραμ. (vs. 15). He finds an incongruity in the images φαίν. and ἐπεχ. Surely this is hypercritical. ‘Ye appear holding forth the word as a light.’ It is common to personify a luminary as a light-bearer. Paul was not always so consistent in his metaphors as this criticism would imply. See for inst. 2 Corinthians 3:2, 2 Corinthians 3:3, and Lightf. on 1 Thessalonians 5:4, Notes on Eps. of St. P. from unpublished Commentaries. (See Mey.’s citn. from Test. 12. Patr.)

εἰς καύχημα ἐμοὶ: ‘for a matter of glorying unto me.’ For καύχημα see on 1:26. Their success in working out their own salvation and proclaiming the gospel to others will be a cause of boasting to Paul. (Comp. 2 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:19.) Εἰς καύχ. ἐμ. belongs to the whole passage ἵνα γεν … ἐπέχ.; not merely to λόγ. ζω. ἐπέχ.

εἰς ἡμέραν Χριστοῦ: ‘against the day of Christ.’ (See on 1:10, and comp. Galatians 3:23; Ephesians 4:30.) The day is the point with reference to which the boasting is reserved. Not ‘until the day,’ etc. The glorying is put in relation to the decisions and awards of the parousia, as 2 Corinthians 1:14.


Ὅτι may be taken as explicative either of the nature of the glorying (‘that’), or of its ground (‘because’).

εἰς κενὸν: ‘in vain’; ‘to no purpose.’ See for the phrase, 2 Corinthians 6:1; Galatians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:5. LXX, εἰς κενὸν, τὸ κεν., κενὰ, Leviticus 26:20; Job 2:9, 20:18, 39:16; Isaiah 29:8; Jeremiah 6:29. ‘In vain’ is the dominant thought here, as is shown by the repetition.

ἔδραμον: Metaphor of the stadium, as Galatians 2:2. (Comp. Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 9:24; 2 Timothy 4:7.) The aorist is used from the point of view of the day of Christ.

ἐκοπίασα: Κοπιᾷν, lit. ‘to labor to weariness’; κόπος, ‘exhausting toil.’ (See 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 4:11; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 1 Thessalonians 3:5.)

Lightf. thinks that ἐκοπίασα is a continuation of the metaphor in ἔδραμον, — ‘labor such as is bestowed in training for the race.’ In his note on Ign. Polyc. vi. he says that κοπιᾷν is used especially of such training, and cites 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Colossians 1:29; 1 Timothy 4:10. I do not find any evidence of this special sense of the verb either in classical or N.T. Greek. Certainly in the athletic contests the wearisome labor was not confined to the preparation.


Paul does not shrink from these labors. He will rejoice even in his martyrdom, since he believes that it will promote the work of salvation among his Philippian brethren. The assumption that vs. 16 implies his conviction that he will be alive at the parousia, and that vs. 17 is an admission of the contrary possibility, is entirely gratuitous.

17.�

θυσίᾳ: Not the act of sacrificing, but the thing sacrificed. So always in N.T. (See Luke 13:1; Acts 7:41; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 10:18; Ephesians 5:2.)

λειτουργίᾳ: ‘ministry’ or ‘service.’ (See Luke 1:23; 2 Corinthians 9:12; Hebrews 8:6, Hebrews 9:21.) From an old adjective λεῖτος or λέϊτος, found only in this compound, ‘belonging to the people,’ and ἔργον, ‘work.’ Hence, originally, ‘service of the state in a public office.’ In LXX the verb λειτουργεῖν, of the performance of priestly functions (Nehemiah 10:36); λειτουργεῖν and λειτουργὸς, of service rendered to men (1 K. 1:4, 19:21; 2 K. 4:43, 6:15). In N.T., of sacerdotal ministry (Acts 13:2; Hebrews 10:11; Luke 1:23; Hebrews 9:21; Romans 13:6, 15:16; Hebrews 8:2). Also of human, non-official ministry (Romans 15:27; 2 Corinthians 9:12; Philippians 2:25, Philippians 2:30). In the general sense of ‘servants of God’ (λειτουργοὺς αὐτοῦ), Hebrews 1:7. Here metaphorically in the priestly sense. Θυς. and λειτ. have the article in common, and form one conception (not a hendiadys), a sacrifice ministered.


τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν: The objective genitive common to θυς. and λειτ.; a sacrifice which consists of your faith; a ministry which offers faith as a sacrifice.

According to Paul’s metaphor, therefore, the Philippians as priests offer their faith to God in the midst of an ungodly generation who had already shed Paul’s blood at Philippi, had imprisoned him at Rome, and would probably put him to death. If they should do this, Paul’s blood would be the libation which would be added to the Philippians’ offering.

This explanation, in which Lightf. stands almost alone among modern expositors, is preferable because it accords better with the course of thought from vs. 12, in which the Philippians are the agents, and distinctly corresponds with Romans 12:2, where the Romans are exhorted to present their bodies as a sacrifice (θυσίαν), which is further described as λατρεία, ‘a service rendered to God.’ See note on λατρεύοντες (3:3). In 4:8, the gift of the Philippians is described as a sacrifice to God. The other and favorite interpretation makes Paul the priest, the Philippians’ faith the sacrifice, and Paul’s apostolic activity the ministry offering the sacrifice. Then the blood of the priest is poured out upon the sacrifice which he is offering. This explanation is urged principally upon the ground of Romans 15:16, Romans 15:17, where Paul represents himself as λειτουργὸς, ministering the gospel in sacrifice, and presenting the Gentiles as an offering to God. But in that passage Paul is specially exhibiting his apostolic office as a priestly service of offering ordained by Christ, who was himself made a minister that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy (vs. 8). That is the only instance of the figure, and in view of the great variety of Paul’s metaphors cannot be regarded as decisive.

The fact that Paul is writing from Rome and to a Gentile church seems to indicate that the metaphor is cast in the mould of heathen rather than of Jewish sacrificial usage. Comp. 2 Corinthians 2:14, where the picture of a Roman triumph is suggested, with the clouds of incense rising from the altars.


χαίρω καὶ συνχαίρω πᾶσιν ὑμῖν: ‘I joy and rejoice with you all.’ Comp. μενῶ καὶ παραμενῶ (1:25). The natural connection is with εἰ καὶ σπένδομαι as the subject of congratulation, not in itself, but as a means of promoting their salvation—that cause of boasting which he desires to have in them. Thus his joy will be fulfilled in them (vs. 2).

συνχαίρω: ‘I rejoice with.’ This is the natural and appropriate meaning in every N.T. passage in which the word occurs. The rendering ‘congratulate’ (Lightf., Mey.) is admissible in Luke 1:58, Luke 1:15:6, Luke 1:9, but the other is equally good. ‘Congratulate’ does not suit vs. 18.


‘Rejoice with’ is the rendering of the Gk. Fathers, Luth., Calv., De W., Wies., Weiss, Weizs., Lips., von Sod. Mey.’s objection, repeated by Lightf., that the apostle would thus summon his readers to a joy which, according to vs. 17, they already possessed, requires no notice beyond a reminder of the informal and familiar style of the epistle.

Paul therefore says: Even if I should be poured out as a libation in addition to the sacrifice of faith which you are offering to God, I rejoice, and rejoice with you, because such a result will promote your salvation, and that will be a cause of joy to us both alike. (Comp. Ephesians 3:13.)


18. τὸ δὲ αὐτὸ καὶ ὑμεῖς χαίρετε καὶ συνχαίρετέ μοι: ‘for the same reason do ye also joy and rejoice with me.’

τὸ δὲ αὐτὸ: ‘for the same reason’; to wit, the advancement of the work of your salvation. For the grammatical construction, see Win. xxxii. 4 a; and comp. Romans 6:10. The verbs χαίρ. and συνχαίρ. acquire a quasi-transitive force.


Rill., Weiss, Lightf., Weizs., R.V., render ‘in the same manner.’

χαίρετε καὶ συνχαίρετέ μοι: Comp. the striking figure of the Romans forming a chorus and singing a sacrificial hymn round the martyr Ignatius. (Ign. Rom. ii.; see also Trall. i.)

He hopes soon to send Timothy to them.

19-24. But, though the worst may come to the worst, yet I hope for such a favorable issue in my case as will enable me to dispense with the services of Timothy here and to send him to you, in order that I may be comforted by hearing of your condition. For besides him I have no one likeminded with myself who will care for you with the same fatherly care. For they all are occupied with their own interests, not with the things of Jesus Christ. But Timothy you yourselves have proved; for you know with what filial devotion he served me in the work of promoting the gospel. I hope therefore to send him shortly, as soon as I shall have learned something definite about my own case, but I trust in the Lord that I shall soon be with you in person.

19. ἐλπίζω δὲ: The δὲ, ‘but,’ offsets the possibility at which he has hinted in σπένδομαι, and which he knows is disturbing the minds of his faithful friends at Philippi. Mey.’s statement that there is an immediate change from a presentiment of death to a confidence of being preserved in life and liberated, is too strong. The εἰ καὶ σπένδομαι, etc., on its face, at least, merely contemplates a possibility. The words rather revert to 1:25.

Lightf. and Lips. connect with vs. 12: ‘I urged you to work out your salvation in my absence, but I do not mean to leave you without personal superintendence, and therefore I propose to send Timothy. The connection, however, seems too remote and labored. According to Weiss the δὲ offsets the joy to which he has exhorted them with the means which he proposes to employ to obtain joyful news from them.

ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ: The sphere or element in which his hope moves. (Comp. 1:8, 14, 3:1; Romans 9:1, Romans 9:14:14; 1 Corinthians 1:31, 1 Corinthians 7:39, etc.)


ἵνα κἀγὼ εὐψυχῶ: ‘that I also may be of good heart.’

κἀγὼ: ‘I also,’ by the tidings which I shall hear from you, as you by the accounts of me.

εὐψυχῶ: Not elsewhere in Bib. Gk. Εὔψυχος, -ως, -ία, in LXX; 1 Macc. 9:14; 2 Macc. 7:20, 14:18.

20. οὐδένα γὰρ ἔχω ἰσόψυχον: ‘for I have no one likeminded.’

γὰρ: reason for sending Timothy.

ἰσόψυχον: Only here in N.T. (See LXX, Psa_55[54]:13[14].) Supply μοὶ, not Τιμοθέῳ. Timothy was to be sent to minister to them in Paul’s stead. Moreover, the quality of Timothy’s care for them is just that which marks Paul’s care—γνησίως, ‘naturally,’ ‘by birth-relation,’ and therefore ‘truly’ or ‘genuinely’; with such a care as springs from a natural, parental relation. In other words, there is no one who will care for them in a fatherly way as Paul does. (See 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:11; Philemon 1:10; 1 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4.) Timothy would have such a feeling for the Philippian Christians, since he was associated with Paul in founding their church. For γνήσιος, see 4:3; 2 Corinthians 8:8; 1 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4.


Lightf., Lips., Weiss, and others refer ἰσόψυχον to Timothy.

21. οἱ πάντες γὰρ τὰ ἑαυτῶν ζητοῦσιν, οὐ τὰ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ: ‘for they all seek their own, not the things of Christ Jesus.’

οἱ πάντες: Collective; the whole number in a body. (See Acts 19:7; Romans 11:32; 1 Corinthians 10:17; Ephesians 4:13.) The statement is very sweeping, especially in view of the high commendation of Epaphroditus which follows. The common explanations are that all who were likeminded with himself, as Luke, were absent at the time of his writing; or that those about him were interested in promoting party interests, Gentile or Jewish-Christian. The Fathers attempted various explanations,—as that no one was willing to sacrifice his own quiet and security by undertaking the journey to Macedonia; that they were unwilling to sacrifice their own honor and profit to the welfare of the church; or that the words were used only in comparison with Timothy’s exceptional zeal and fidelity. None of these help the case. Augustine and Anselm held to the full severity of the charge, maintaining that all the apostle’s companions were mercenary. Without more information a satisfactory explanation seems impossible.

22. τὴν δοκιμὴν: ‘the proof’ or ‘approvedness.’ Used only by Paul, and meaning both ‘the process of trial’ (2 Corinthians 8:2) and ‘the result of trial,’ as here, Romans 5:4; 2 Corinthians 2:9, 2 Corinthians 9:13. You know that he has approved himself to you.

γινώσκετε: Not imperat., for they had known Timothy in Philippi (Acts 16., Acts 16:17.).


ὡς πατρὶ τέκνον σὺν ἐμοὶ ἐδούλευσεν: ‘as a child a father so he served with me.’ Paul began the sentence as if he were going to write, ‘Timothy served me as a child serves a father’; but he was checked by the thought that both himself and Timothy were alike servants of Jesus Christ (1:1), and also by that of his intimate and affectionate relations with Timothy. Accordingly he wrote ‘with me’ instead of ‘me.’

εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον: As 1:5.

23. οὖν: Resuming vs. 19; he being thus qualified.

ὡς ἂν�

24. πέποιθα δὲ ἐν κυρίῳ: See on 1:14; and with Paul’s language here comp. 1 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Corinthians 4:19.


ὅτι καὶ αὐτὸς ταχέως ἐλεύσομαι: Expectation of speedy release. (Comp. 1:25.)

א * ACP with several minusc. add προς υμας to ελευσομαι.

How soon Timothy or Paul himself may be able to visit them is uncertain, but he is sending them a messenger at once.

25-30. Meanwhile, whether Timothy and I come to you or not, I send you a messenger at once—my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier Epaphroditus, who came as the bearer of your gift to me. I thought it necessary to send him because he was really homesick, longing to see you, since he feared that you would be distressed by the report of his sickness. And very sick he was, so much so that it seemed as though he would die. But God was merciful to both him and me, and restored him and spared me the additional sorrow of his death. I send him therefore in order that his return to you may restore your cheerfulness, and that the sorrow of my captivity may be mitigated by your joy. Joyfully receive him therefore in the Lord. Such as he are to be honored; for he wellnigh died through his zeal for the work of Christ, hazarding his life in order that he might render to me that sacrificial service of love which, if it had been possible, you would gladly have performed in your own persons.

25.�2 Corinthians 9:5. Emphatic as contrasted with the possible visits of Timothy and of himself. I hope to send Timothy and to come in person, but I think it necessary to send Epaphroditus at once.


ἡγησάμην: See on vs. 6. If this is the epistolary aorist, as is probable, it points to Epaphroditus as the bearer of the letter. (See Introd. v.)

Ἐπαφρόδιτον: Mentioned only in this letter. Examples of the name are common in both Greek and Latin inscriptions. (See Wetst.) It is not probable that Ἐπαφρᾶς. (Colossians 1:7, Colossians 4:12) is a contraction of Ἐπαφρόδιτος. (See Thay. Lex. sub Ἐπαφρᾶς.) Win. xvi. says “probable”; Schmiedel, Rev. of Win. xvi. 9, “possible.” (See Lightf. Introd. and Comm. ad loc.) Even if the names can be shown to be the same, it is unlikely that the persons were the same. Eadie justly remarks that it is scarcely supposable that the Asiatic Epaphras, a pastor at Colossæ and a native of that city, could be Epaphroditus, a messenger delegated to Paul with a special gift from the distant European church of Philippi, and by him sent back to it with lofty eulogy, and as having a special interest in its affairs and members. From two allusions in Suetonius (Nero, 49; Domitian, 14), a tradition arose that Epaphroditus was Nero’s secretary.

ἀδελφὸν, συνεργὸν, συνστρατιώτην: ‘a brother,’ as a Christian; ‘a fellow-worker,’ in the cause of the gospel; ‘a fellow-soldier,’ in the conflict with the adversaries of the faith. (Comp. Romans 16:3, Romans 16:9; Philemon 1:2; Philippians 1:28, Philippians 1:30; 2 Timothy 2:3.)


ὑμῶν δὲ�

ἀπόστολον: Not in the official sense, but a messenger sent on a special commission. So 2 Corinthians 8:23.

λειτουργὸν: See on vs. 17, and comp. vs. 30. The explanation ‘sacrificial minister’ (Mey., Lightf.), regarding the gift of the Philippians as an offering to God, is favored by 4:18. Westcott, on Hebrews 1:7, observes that the word seems always to retain something of its original force, as expressing a public, social service. (See Romans 15:27; 2 Corinthians 9:12.)


26. ἐπειδὴ ἐπιποθῶν ἦν πάντας ὑμᾶς: ‘Since he was longing after you all.’ Giving the reason for vs. 25. The participle with the substantive verb indicates a continued state. For ἐπιποθεῖν, see on 1:8.

א* ACD add ιδειν after ὑμας. WH. bracket ιδειν.

ἀδημονῶν: Also with ἦν. Only here in Paul. (See Matthew 26:37; Mark 14:33.) In LXX only in second-century revisions (Symm. Ecclesiastes 7:17; Psalms 116:11 [115:2], 61:2 [60:3]; Aq. Job 18:20). The etymology is uncertain. Commonly from�


27. καὶ γὰρ ἠσθένησεν: ‘and (you were correctly informed about him) for he was sick.’

παραπλήσιον θανάτῳ: Παραπ. not elsewhere in Bib. The adv. παραπλησίως, Hebrews 2:14. Here adverbially. Not precisely ‘nigh unto death,’ but ‘in a way nearly resembling death.’


א* ACDFGKL read θανατω; so Tisch., R.T., Weiss, Txtk. Unt. אcBP, 31, 80, θανατου; so WH.

λύπην ἐπὶ λύπην: ‘sorrow upon sorrow,’ or ‘after’ sorrow, as we say ‘wave upon wave,’ ἐπὶ having a sense of motion. (See LXX; Ezekiel 7:26; Isaiah 28:10, Isaiah 28:13; Psa_69[68]:27.) Not the sorrow for Epaphroditus’ death following upon the sorrow for his sickness, but the sorrow for Epaphroditus’ death following that of Paul’s imprisonment.


Weiss prefers the former explanation, for the singular reason that 1:12-24, 2:16-18, do not indicate sorrow on Paul’s part for his captivity. (See Mey’s ingenious note.)

28. σπουδαιοτέρως: ‘with the greater despatch.’ (Comp.Luke 7:4; Luke 7:4; Titus 3:13.) More hastily than I would have done otherwise. For the comparative without statement of the standard of comparison, see on μᾶλλον (1:12).


The older commentators render ‘studiosius,’ ‘sollicitius.’ So A.V., ‘carefully’; R.V., ‘diligently’; Lightf., ‘with increased eagerness’; Ellic., ‘more diligently.’ Our rendering as Thay. Lex., Ead., Lips., Hack., Weiss, Weizs., Mey., v. Sod.

ἔπεμψα: ‘I send.’ Epistolary aorist.

ἵνα ἰδόντες αὐτὸν πάλιν χαρῆτε: ‘that when ye see him ye may rejoice again.’ Construe πάλιν with χαρῆτε, not with ἰδόντες (as R.V.). Paul’s habit is to place πάλιν before the verb which it qualifies. The Philippians’ joy had been clouded by Epaphroditus’ sickness. They would rejoice again when he should arrive.

ἀλυπότερος: ‘the less sorrowful.’ The sorrow of captivity still remains. The word only here.

29. οὖν: Since I sent him that you might rejoice, ‘therefore’ receive him with joy.

πασῆς χαρᾶς: Every kind of joy. (Comp. 1:20; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Peter 2:1.)

τοὺς τοιούτους: The article marks Epaphroditus as belonging to the class designated by τοιούτ. (Comp. Mark 9:37; Romans 16:18; 2 Corinthians 11:13, 2 Corinthians 11:12:3; Galatians 5:23, Galatians 5:6:1; and see Win. xviii. 4.)


ἐντίμους ἔχετε: The only occurrence of the phrase in N.T. In class. usually ἐντίμως ἔχ.

30. ἔργον Χριστοῦ: All his exertions in forwarding Paul’s work in Rome, and the risk and hardship of the journey thither.

Χριστου, BFG, 80, Tisch., Weiss.

του Χριστου, DEKL, Vulg., Goth., Syr.sch, four Lat. verss. (d, e, f, g).

For Χριστου, א AP, 17, 31, 47, Cop., Syr.P, Arm., Æth., WH., read κυριου. το εργον without addn. C.

Lightf. reads διὰ τὸ ἔργον on the sole authority of C, and says it must be the correct reading. He cites Acts 15:38; Ign. Eph. xiv., Rom. iii., and the analogy of ἡ ὁδός, τὸ θέλημα, and τὸ ὄνομα for the absolute use of τὸ ἔργον. But while τὸ ἔργον is used absolutely in these cases, it is too much to assert, in the face of such strong MS. authority, that Χτοῦ, τοῦ Χτοῦ, or κυρίου are mere “insertions to explain τὸ ἔργον.” Κυρίου might be substituted for Χτοῦ in order to assimilate to 1 Corinthians 15:58, 1 Corinthians 15:16:10; and ΧΥ or ΚΥ might easily be overlooked and omitted in transcription, as by C.


μέχρι θανάτου ἤγγισεν: ‘he came nigh unto death.’ (Comp. LXX; Psa_107[106]:18], 88:3 [87:4]; Job 33:22.)

παραβολευσάμενος: Only here. A gambler’s word, from παράβολος, ‘venturesome,’ ‘reckless.’ He gambled with his life; recklessly hazarded it. (Comp. Romans 16:4.) A most generous and appreciative recognition of Epaphroditus’ services. The voluntary visitors of the sick, who, in the ancient church, formed a kind of brotherhood under the supervision of the bishop, were styled ‘Parabolani.’ The graphic description of these in Kingsley’s Hypatia is familiar. The word might have been suggested to Paul by seeing the soldiers throwing dice. Comp. κυβία, ‘dicing’ (Ephesians 4:14).


TR with CKLP and several Fath. reads παραβουλευσαμενος, ‘having consulted amiss.’

ἵνα�1 Corinthians 16:17; 2 Corinthians 9:12.)

ἀναπληρώσῃ: Not synonymous with the simple verb πληροῦν, ‘to fill up a total vacancy,’ but denoting the making up of what is lacking to perfect fulness; the filling up of a partial void. So Erasm.: “Accessione implere quod plenitudini perfectae deerat.” For double compounds of the verb, see 2 Corinthians 9:12, 2 Corinthians 9:11:9; Colossians 1:24.


ὑμῶν: Genitive of the subject, with ὑστέρημα, not with λειτουργίας: ‘the lack which was yours.’

λειτουργίας: See on vs. 17. It describes the service as the act of the Philippian community, and as a sacrificial act. So far from implying a censure in τὸ ὑμῶν ὑστέρημα, that clause is a most delicate, courteous, and sympathetic tribute to both Epaphroditus and the Philippians. The gift to Paul was the gift of the church as a body. It was a sacrificial offering of love. What was lacking, and what would have been grateful to Paul and to the church alike, was the church’s presentation of this offering in person. This was impossible, and Paul represents Epaphroditus as supplying this lack by his affectionate and zealous ministry. He thus, in this single sentence, recognises the devotion of Epaphroditus and the good-will of the Philippians, and expresses the pleasure which he himself would have had in their personal presence and ministry. Withal there is a touch of tender sympathy for Epaphroditus. It would have been a great thing if you could, as a body, have offered this sacrifice of love here in my prison; and poor Epaphroditus made himself sick unto death in his efforts to supply this want.

πρός με: Πρός combines with the sense of direction that of relation with, intercourse. (Comp. Matthew 13:56; Mark 9:16; John 1:1; Acts 3:25, 28:25; 1 Thessalonians 4:12; Colossians 4:5; Hebrews 9:20.) Their gift to Paul was a sacrificial offering to God, in which the spirits of Paul and of the Philippians communed.


EXCURSUS ON VS. 6-11

Much of the difficulty which appears to attach to this passage arises from the assumption that in it Paul is aiming to formulate a statement of the character of Christ’s mode of existence before and during his incarnation. This is inconsistent with the informal and familiar tone of the letter, and with the obviously practical character of this passage, the principal object of which is to enforce the duty of humility. As the supreme illustration of this virtue, the apostle adduces the example of Jesus Christ in his voluntary renunciation of his preincarnate majesty, and his identification with the conditions of humanity. The points of the illustration are thrown out in rapid succession, merely stated and not elaborated, and are all brought to bear upon the exhortation, “Look not every one at his own things, but every one also on the things of others.” Paul does, indeed, rise here above the level of epistolary colloquialism; but the impulse to the higher flight is emotional rather than philosophical.

I think that Lightfoot has fallen into the error just mentioned in his excursus on the synonyms σχῆμα and μορφὴ (Commentary, p. 127 ff.). Prior to the philosophical period of Greek literature, the predominant sense of μορφὴ was “shape” or “figure.” Schmidt (Synon. 182, 4) says it is distinguished from εἶδος and ἰδέα as the outward appearance of a thing considered in and for itself, and partially contrasted with the inner and spiritual being. It includes the coloring and the whole outward appearance—the body itself with no reference to other than outward peculiarities. This sense is retained to some extent in philosophical usage. Both Plato and Aristotle employ μορφὴ with this meaning (Plat. Repub. ii. 381 C; Phaedr. 271 A; Arist. Hist. An. i. 1, 7, ii. 10, 1, 2).

But the word has also a far wider meaning in Plato and Aristotle. Both apply it to immaterial things, and it is especially from Aristotle’s usage that Lightfoot draws the meaning specific character for μορφὴ. That Aristotle uses it in this sense may be granted, though there are three things to be said on that point without entering into discussion: (1) That Aristotle, as has been said already, uses the word in the external and earlier sense also. (2) That his more abstract conception of μορφὴ is not uniform throughout, being more purely intellectual in his logic than in his physics. And (3) that even in his most abstract and immaterial conception of “form” the abstract is brought into concrete realisation. His doctrine is familiar that sensible objects consist of matter and form; matter being simply the potentiality of becoming, while form makes this potentiality actual, so that matter is not intelligible without form, though the form is not necessarily external or material.

I do not, however, believe that Paul’s use of the term was derived from this source, or applied in the sense of “specific character.” The starting-point of his conception lay nearer to the anthropomorphic than to the philosophic: not necessarily that he definitely conceived God as invested with a human form, but that he conceived of the essential personality of God as externalising itself and expressing itself in some mode apprehensible by pure spiritual intelligences if not apprehensible by the human mind. But it seems probable that Paul’s mind touched the conception of “the form of God” very slightly and incidentally, and only on its outskirts, and that the application of the term μορφὴ to God was principally a reflection of its application to a bondservant. Christ’s humiliation was the dominant thought in Paul’s mind, and the μορφὴ of a bondservant therefore came first in the order of thought. The idea of some embodiment of the divine personality was not altogether absent from his mind, but μορφὴ θεοῦ was chiefly a rhetorical antithesis to μορφὴ δούλου.

Still, there is evidence that Paul uses μορφὴ with a recognition of a peculiar relation of the word to the essential and permanent nature of that which is expressed or embodied, so that μορφὴ is purposely selected instead of σχῆμα, which signifies merely the outward and transient configuration without regard to that which is behind it. This has been clearly shown by Lightfoot in his examination of the compounds into which the two words severally enter. (See Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18, 2 Corinthians 3:11:2 Corinthians 3:13-15; Philippians 3:21.) It is possible that in illustrating this legitimate distinction, Lightfoot, in one or two instances, may have refined too much. His remarks on μεταμορφοῦσθαι in Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2, are just, since a compound of σχῆμα, denoting merely a change in the outward aspect of Christ’s person and garments, would not have expressed the fact that this change acquired its real character and meaning from the divineness which was essential in Christ’s personality. A foreshadowing or prophecy of his real “form”—the proper expression of his essential being—comes out in the transfiguration. He passes for the moment into the form prophetic of his revelation in the glory which he had with the Father before the world was.

The case is more doubtful in Mark 16:12, where it is said that Jesus, after his resurrection, appeared ἐν ἑτέρᾳ μορφῇ. It is possible that μορφὴ may have been selected with conscious recognition of the fact that, though the accidents of figure, face, and pierced hands and feet were the same as before, yet the indefinable change which had passed upon Jesus prefigured his transition to the conditions of his heavenly life; but it is quite as probable that the writer used μορφὴ in its earlier sense of “shape.”

However that may be, I cannot accept Lightfoot’s explanation of μόρφωσις in Romans 2:20 as signifying an aiming after or affecting the true μορφὴ of knowledge and truth. There was actually a truthful embodiment of knowledge and truth in the law. The law was “holy and just and good,” and Paul habitually recognised in it the impress of the divine character and will. It was this fact which aggravated the culpability of the Jew, to whom had been committed the oracles of God (Romans 3:2).


Thus it is quite legitimate to define μορφὴ in this passage as that “form,” whatever it be, which carries in itself and expresses or embodies the essential nature of the being to whom it belongs. (See note on vs. 6.)

Μορφὴ, however, applied to God, is not to be identified with δόξα, as by Weiss (Bib. Theol. § 103 c, d, Clarks’ Trans.). Weiss reaches this conclusion by a very circuitous and inconclusive process. He says: “The identification of the μορφὴ θεοῦ with the δόξα depends on this; that here also the δόξα, which the perfected attain to and which belongs to the glorified body of Christ (Philippians 3:21), belongs originally to God, who is called (Ephesians 1:17) the πατὴρ τῆς δόξης, and therefore, on that account, it belongs to the Son of his love in his original heavenly existence.” Δόξα is the manifestation, the “unfolded fulness,” of the divine attributes and perfections, while μορφὴ θεοῦ is the immediate, proper, and personal investiture of the divine essence. Δόξα attaches to Deity; μορφὴ is identified with the inmost being of Deity. Δόξα is and must be included in μορφὴ θεοῦ, but δόξα is not μορφὴ. Indeed, the difference may be roughly represented by the English words “glory” and “form.” Glory may belong to one in virtue of birth, natural endowment, achievement, and the possession of great qualities; but it does not belong to him in the immediate and intimate sense that his form does.

A study of the usage, both in the Old and in the New Testament, will confirm this distinction. In the Old Testament בָּבוֹד applied to God occurs often in connection with theophanies, where, if anywhere, we might expect the peculiar sense of μορφὴ to appear.1 The passage which seems most to favor this view is Exodus 33:18-23, Exodus 34:5-7. But it will be observed that in answer to Moses’ prayer that God will show him his glory, God promises to reveal his goodness, and to proclaim his name, with the reservation, however, which is put anthropomorphically, that Moses cannot bear that revelation in its fulness, and that therefore it will be tempered for him. In the sequel the Lord descends and proclaims “the Lord God, merciful, gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” This was what Moses desired, not, like Semele, to behold Deity clothed in outward splendor, but to behold the true glory of God as revealed in his moral attributes.

The phrase “glory of the Lord” (כְּבוֹד יהוה) is used of the voice and fire on Sinai (Exodus 24:17; Deuteronomy 5:24); of the splendor which, on different occasions, filled the tabernacle and the temple (Exodus 40:34; Numbers 14:10, Numbers 14:15:19, Numbers 14:42, Numbers 14:20:6; 2 Chronicles 5:14, 2 Chronicles 5:7:1, 2 Chronicles 5:2, 2 Chronicles 5:3; Ezekiel 10:4, Ezekiel 43:4, Ezekiel 10:5, Ezekiel 44:4). It appears as a bow in the cloud (Ezekiel 1:28); as the glory which the prophet saw by Chebar (Ezekiel 3:23; comp. 1:4-28); in the fire which consumes the sacrifice on the altar (Leviticus 9:23). In the last three instances the mode or form of the revelation of divine glory is distinctly specified. It appears over the cherubim (Ezekiel 10:19, Ezekiel 11:22); on the threshold of the house and on the mountain (Ezekiel 10:4, Ezekiel 11:23). The earth shined with it (Ezekiel 43:2). None of these exhibitions answer to the definition of μορφὴ θεοῦ. They are mostly symbolical. Again, the glory of the Lord will be revealed in a march through the wilderness to the Holy Land (Isaiah 40:5); it will be the “rearward” of Israel (Isaiah 58:8); the resting-place of the Messiah will be glory (Isaiah 11:10). The impossibility of identifying such expressions with μορφὴ θεοῦ will be seen if we attempt to substitute this for δόξα. Shall we say “the heavens declare the form of God” (Psalms 19:1); “the form of God shall dwell in the land” (Psalms 85:9); “the rest of the Messiah shall be the form of God” (Isaiah 11:10)? These instances are fairly representative; and the Old Testament furnishes no others which, any more than these, warrant the identification of μορφὴ θεοῦ with δόξα.

In the New Testament the following may be specially noted: John 17:5, John 17:22, John 17:24. In vs. 5, 24, Jesus speaks of his preincarnate glory which he laid aside in his incarnation. In vs. 22 he speaks of a glory which he had not relinquished, but had retained in his incarnation, and had imparted to his disciples. The two conceptions cannot be identical. The μορφὴ θεοῦ was laid aside, and could not be imparted (John 1:14). Δόξα was something which Jesus possessed in the flesh, and which the disciples beheld. It could not be identical with μορφὴ θεοῦ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Εἰκὼν approximates more closely to μορφὴ θεοῦ than perhaps any other word in the New Testament. But δόξα here is not the same as εἰκὼν. The image of the Lord is attained by a process, through successive stages or grades of glory. (See Heinrici, Comm. ad loc.; 1 Corinthians 11:7.) Man is the image (εἰκὼν) and glory of God. The preincarnate Son of God was the effulgence of God’s glory, and the very impress (χαρακτὴρ) of his substance (Hebrews 1:3).


In short, it is apparent that δόξα is used with too large a range and variety of meaning to warrant its identification with an expression which is unique in the New Testament, and entirely wanting in the Old Testament, and which, if the definition given be correct, is strictly limited in its meaning.

A common error of the Greek Fathers, adopted by Calvin, Beza, and others, was the identification of μορφὴ with οὐσία, ‘essence,’ and φύσις, ‘nature.’ Μορφὴ is identified with οὐσία, not identical with it. It is the perfect expression of the essence, proceeding from the inmost depths of the perfect being, and into which that being spontaneously and perfectly unfolds, as light from fire. If the two were identical, the parting with the μορφὴ in the incarnation would have involved parting with the οὐσία. But Jesus did not surrender the divine essence in his incarnation, nor did he surrender the divine nature, which is the οὐσία clothed with its appropriate attributes. Μορφὴ expresses both οὐσία and φυσις, but neither is surrendered in the surrender of the μορφὴ.

The Greek Fathers and Augustine, followed by the Catholic and most of the Reformed expositors, held that vs. 6 referred to Jesus in his preincarnate state; while vs. 7 and 8 referred to the incarnate Saviour. According to this view, Christ exchanged the divine mode of existence for the human, not insisting for the time on holding fast to his divine majesty. The form of God was voluntarily exchanged for the form of a bondservant.

The majority of the Lutheran and rationalistic expositors, on the other hand, explained vs. 6 of the incarnate Son. According to this view, the form of God was retained by him in his incarnate state, and was displayed in his miracles and words of power. He retained the μορφὴ θεοῦ as his right, not regarding it an act of robbery when he claimed equality with God. Thus the statement was used to vindicate the divinity of our Lord in the flesh. This view shaped the rendering of King James’ Bible.

But this is contrary to the entire structure and drift of the passage, the main point of which is Christ’s example of humility in renouncing his divine dignity and becoming man. The emphasis is upon the humanity, not upon the deity, of our Lord. The prominent thought is “thought it not a thing to be grasped.” Moreover, this interpretation utterly destroys the manifest antithesis of οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο, etc., and ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν, which is indicated by�

The doctrine of the preincarnate existence of Christ I assume. Statements like those of 1 Corinthians 1:24, 1 Corinthians 1:8:6, 1 Corinthians 1:11:3, 1 Corinthians 1:10:3, 1 Corinthians 1:4; 2 Corinthians 8:9, show that Paul held a real and not a merely ideal preëxistence of the Son of God,—a unique position of the preincarnate Christ with God. The truth is well stated by Professor Bruce (St. Paul’s Conception of Christianity, p. 330): “To make the conception of Christ’s earthly experience as a humiliation complete, is it not necessary to view it as a whole, and regard it as resulting from a foregoing resolve on the part of Christ to enter into such a state? If so, then the necessary presupposition of the Pauline doctrine of redemption is the preëxistence of Christ, not merely in the foreknowledge of God, as the Jews conceived all important persons and things to preëxist, or in the form of an ideal in heaven answering to an imperfect earthly reality, in accordance with the Greek way of thinking, but as a moral personality capable of forming a conscious purpose.” Similarly Weizsäcker (Ap. Zeit. p. 122), to whom Professor Bruce refers: “He had a personal existence before his human birth, and his earlier life was divine, and absolutely opposed to the dependent life of man upon earth … Christ becomes man by a personal act … Precisely because of this the conception is perfectly consistent with the notion of ‘the second man’ who comes from heaven. For the heavenly descent is equivalent to the thought that he was in the form of God, and Paul can therefore say without hesitation, that it was Jesus, the Christ, who first existed in the divine form and then humbled himself, just as he says of him that he was rich and voluntarily submitted to poverty. Had he not given his doctrine of Christ this backward extension, the human life of Christ would have become for him a sort of impersonal event, and Jesus a mere instrument. His doctrine of the preëxistence accordingly enables him to look upon Christ’s work as a personal act, and to preserve the bond between him and humanity.”


The phrase ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων is then to be understood of Christ’s preincarnate state. To say that he was ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ is to say that he existed before his incarnation as essentially one with God, and that objectively, and not merely in God’s self-consciousness as the not yet incarnate Son—the ideal man. (See Beyschlag, Die Christologie des neuen Testaments, and Neutestamentliche Theologie, 2 Aufl. vol. ii. p. 77 ff.; Pfleiderer, Paulinismus, 2 Aufl. p. 126; Bruce’s discussion of Beyschlag’s view, Humiliation of Christ, p. 431.)

Do ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων and τὸ εἶναι ἴσα signify the same thing?—“No,” it is said. Equality with God did not inhere in Christ’s preincarnate being. He received it first at his exaltation and as a reward for his perfect obedience. Thus Dorner (Christliche Glaubenslehre, ii. p. 286 f.) says: “His manhood is raised to a full share in the divine majesty as a reward of its maintaining true obedience. He could not have been exalted if he had not exhibited a faultless development in a true human existence and obedience.”

Along with this view goes an assumed antithesis between Christ and Adam. Dorner says: “While the first Adam grasped at equality with God, the second obtained exaltation to the divine majesty, since not only would he not assume the divine dignity, but, though himself elevated in dignity, humbled himself and became obedient even unto death.” The parallel is developed by Ernesti (Stud. u. Krit. Hft. 4, p. 858, 1848). Adam would be God; Christ renounces his godlikeness. Adam suffered death as a doom; Christ voluntarily. Adam incurred the divine curse; Christ won the approval of God, and the reward of exaltation to equality with God.

The same view is held by my friend and colleague Dr. Briggs (Messiah of the Apostles, p. 180). He says: “It was indeed involved in his existing in the form of God that he should be equal in rank with God. From that point of view it might be said that he would not grasp after his own rank to which he was entitled as the Son of God; but it is probable that the apostle had in mind the antithesis between the first and the second Adam which is so characteristic of his theology. He is thinking of the sinful grasping of the first Adam after equality with God under the instigation of the serpent. As the second Adam, he will not grasp after equality with God, even though it is his birthright. He will receive it from the hands of God as a gift of love, after he has earned it by obedience, just as the first Adam ought to have done.” Similarly Beyschlag, N. T. Theol. 2 Aufl. Bd. ii. p. 88.

Setting aside for the moment the question of the two Adams, I do not quite see the consistency of Dr. Briggs’ first statement—that equality in rank with God was involved in Christ’s existence in the form of God, and his last statement, that equality with God was something which Christ earned, and received as a recompense for his obedience. The inconsistency is not reconciled by the antithesis between the two Adams. But passing this, these statements can mean only that the status of the preincarnate Christ was inferior to that in which he was after his incarnation; that the being whom Paul describes as existing in the form of God was something less than the being whom God highly exalted. This is clearly stated by Beyschlag (N. T. Theol. ii. p. 86): “The subject of this passage is not Son of God as in the so-called Athanasian symbol, but one sharply distinguished from God. The μορφὴ θεοῦ in which he preëxisted is not a μορφὴ τοῦ θεοῦ, and the ἴσα θεῷ εἶναι is not an ἴσα τῷ θεῷ εἶναι. There remains between him and the one God who is the Father (vs. 11) so decided a difference that the incomparable glory which Christ won through his self-emptying and obedience unto death does not belong to him as his eternal, natural possession, but is given to him by God’s free grace, and must redound only to the honor of the Father. Hence ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν cannot signify a laying aside of his divine being, but only the laying aside of his mode of manifestation.”

Such statements cannot be reconciled with passages like Colossians 1:15-17. Speaking of the Epistle to the Colossians, Dr. Briggs justly says: “It unfolds the doctrine of the preëxistent Messiah beyond anything that we could be prepared to expect from our study of the other epistles. To the doctrine of the form of God in the Epistle to the Philippians, we have added the doctrine that the preëxistent Son of God was the mediator between God and the creature, in creation, in providence, and in redemption” (Messiah of the Apostles, p. 215). Add to this John 1:1, John 1:2, John 1:5:21, John 1:6., John 1:10:18, and especially Hebrews 1:2, Hebrews 1:3. In this last passage we have a more technical and formal statement, after the manner of the Alexandrian school, and according to this statement the preëxistent Christ was the very impress of God’s substance.

Beyschlag, as Philo (De Somn. i. 39, 41), insists on the distinction between ὁ θεός and θεός, claiming that this distinction is observed in John 1:1. But in that passage, θεός, predicated of the λόγος, is used attributively, with a notion of kind, and is thus necessarily anarthrous. It excludes identity of person, but emphasises unity of essence and nature. Accordingly, what John says is, that the λόγος was with God, and that with no lower nature than God himself. Philo, on the contrary, claims that the anarthrous θεός describes the λόγος as of subordinate nature—“ δεύτερος θεός.”

Dorner cites Romans 1:4 to show that Christ was constituted the Son of God with power, only after his resurrection. “Therefore, before this, he was not ‘the Son of God with power,’ though he was already the Son (Chr. Glaubensl. ii. p. 284). But this inference rests on a misinterpretation. Ἐν δυνάμει does not belong with υἱοῦ θεοῦ, but is adverbial and qualifies ὁρισθέντος. Paul’s statement is that Christ was designated as Son of God in a powerful, impressive, efficient manner, by his resurrection from the dead as a work of divine power. So Sanday, Mey., Godet, Alf., Moule, Gifford. (Comp. 2 Corinthians 13:4 and Ephesians 1:19.)


Besides all this, how can equality with God be conferred or superinduced? The words are τὸ εἶναι ἴσα. It is a matter of essential being. Equality with God can belong only to essence. Equality of power or of rank can be conferred, but not equality of being.

As to the antithesis of the two Adams. It seems forced at the best, but is there any real antithesis? According to the narrative in Gen. 3., Satan declared that the eating of the fruit would confer a knowledge which would make the eaters as gods, knowing good and evil; and the woman saw that the tree was to be desired to make one wise. Nothing is said of a desire to be equal with God in the absolute and general sense. The temptation and the desire turned on forbidden knowledge. The words “as gods” are defined and limited by the words “knowing good and evil”; and it is nowhere asserted or hinted in Scripture that Adam desired equality with God in the comprehensive sense of that expression. Moreover, if Adam had proved obedient, his reward would not have been equality with God.

Yet something was obtained by Christ as the result of his incarnation and of his perfect obedience therein, which he did not possess before his incarnation, and which he could not have possessed without it. Equality with God he had as his birthright, but his Messianic lordship was something which could come only through his incarnation and its attendant humiliation; and it was this, and not equality with God, that he received in his exaltation. The διὸ of vs. 9 is not to be taken as if God bestowed exaltation as a reward for perfect obedience, but rather, as Meyer correctly says, as “the accession of the corresponding consequence.” The sequence is logical rather than ethical. Out of the human life, death, and resurrection of Christ comes a type of sovereignty which could pertain to him only through his triumph over human sin (Hebrews 1:3), through his identification with men as their brother. Messianic lordship could not pertain to his preincarnate state. As Messianic lord he could be inaugurated only after his human experience (Acts 2:36). Messianic lordship is a matter of function, not of inherent power and majesty. The phrase “seated at the right hand of God” is Messianic, and expresses Christ’s Messianic triumph, but not to the detriment of any essential dignity possessed before his incarnation. But the incarnation places him, in a new sense, in actual, kingly relation to the collective life of the universe. There cannot be the bowing of every knee and the confession of every tongue so long as Christ merely remains being in the form of God,—until he has made purification of sins, redeemed creation, and been manifested to earth, heaven, and hades as the Saviour of men.

Thus new elements enter into the life and sovereignty of the exalted Christ. He exists no less as Son of God, but now also as Son of Man, which he could be only through being born of woman and made in the likeness of men. The glory of God shines through the bodily form which he carried into heaven with him (Colossians 2:9), yet in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead. He is what he was not before his incarnation, the Great High Priest. Having begun the high-priestly work in his death and sacrifice, he now carries it on in the heavenly places by his work of intervention (ἐντυγχάνειν, Hebrews 7:25) in the lives of those who believe in him. He is the minister of the resurrection-life to his redeemed, ever bringing to bear on them through the Spirit the divine forces which cause them to “walk in newness of life.” Thus lordship won by conquest in incarnation is distinguished from inherent lordship. This is the lordship which Jesus preferred to that which was merely inherent in him as the equal of God,—lordship through self-renunciation, mastery through service.


And in this fact lies the answer to the much-discussed question, What is the name which God gave him at his exaltation? As the lordship is Messianic, as the Messianic lordship comes only through the human experience and victory, the name will unite the human experience and the Messianic dominion,—‘Jesus’ the human name, ‘Christ’ the Messianic name. Not ‘Lord,’ for lordship was his inherent right and his prerogative before incarnation. Not Jesus alone, for that represents only the human experience of humiliation; but JESUS CHRIST—Christ the Messiah only as he was Jesus. Accordingly “Lord” in vs. 11 is defined by “Jesus Christ.”

This whole statement in Phil. is, in a broad sense, parallel with the words in Hebrews 1:3, and the two passages should be studied together. In both the preincarnate Son’s conditions of being are set forth. To these Heb. adds a statement of the preincarnate activity of the Son. Φέρων is “bearing onward,” not simply “upholding” or “sustaining”; for, as Westcott remarks, “the Son is not an Atlas sustaining the dead weight of the world.” (See Comm. on Heb. ad loc. and the striking parallels cited.) The Son was persistently carrying on from eternal ages the universe of God towards its consummation. Incarnation and atonement were not a break in the history of humanity, nor in the eternal activity of God in Christ. They were in the line of the eternal purpose of God. The Lamb was “slain from the foundation of the world.” In pursuance of this purpose the Divine Son assumed our humanity, purged our sins, and then “sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high.”


In Phil. the parallel to this is found in the statement and detail of Christ’s humiliation. In his human nature, in the form of a servant, in the likeness of men, in humbling himself and enduring the death of the cross, he is still bearing on all things, restoring humanity to the divine archetype by making purification of sins and inaugurating the High-Priestly function developed in Heb. In Phil. the mediatorial aspect is not treated, but both passages depict the exaltation which followed the humiliation.

Whether ἁρπαγμὸν is active or passive is treated in the note. If taken actively,—“an act of robbery,” “a seizing,”—it expresses Christ’s assertion of equality with God; that is to say, he did not think being equal with God an act of robbery, but claimed it as his right in his incarnate state. The awkwardness of regarding a state of being as an act of robbery needs no comment. If taken passively,—“a prize, a thing to be snatched or clutched,” — it expresses the surrender of the preincarnate state of majesty. He did not think equality with God a prize to be eagerly grasped (and held fast), but surrendered it, though it was his right.

Lightfoot’s citations from the Greek Fathers show that they conceived the passage as carrying the idea of a surrender of preincarnate glory, and a condescension from a higher estate. (Note on “Different Interpretations of οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο,” Comm. p. 133.)

I am not convinced that Lightfoot’s interpretation is wrong by the strictures of Mr. Beet in his Commentary, ad loc., and in the Expositor, 3d ser. vol. 5, p. 115, especially when I find him adopting Meyer’s explanation. See below.

It may be observed that Lightfoot does not bring out the full force of his first quotation, from the Letter of the Gallican church (Euseb. H. E. v. 2), which lies in the exhibition of the martyrs’ humility as shown in their refusal to accept the title of “witnesses,” which they had earned by their sufferings. Thus, in refusing to insist upon their rightful claim, they imitated Christ, who refused to grasp at the majesty which was rightfully his. Also it should be observed that in Origen on Romans (Lat. v. § 2), rapinam, which is given for ἁρπαγμὸν, occurs in both the active and the passive sense, the latter in late Latin.

Meyer’s explanation should be noticed. He paraphrases: “Jesus Christ, when he found himself in the heavenly mode of existence of divine glory, did not permit himself the thought of using his equality with God for the purpose of seizing possessions and honor for himself on earth.”

He translates “Nicht als ein Rauben betrachtete er das gottgleiche Sein” (Not as a robbing did he regard the being equal with God), and then explains that he did not put being equal with God under the point of view of gaining booty, as if it (being equal with God) was, with respect to its expression in action, to consist in seizing what did not belong to him.

According to this, τὸ εἶναι ἴσα is not the object but the subject of the seizing. Christ did not regard equality with God as a means of grasping. This interpretation is adopted by Beet. It is an illustration of the excessive literalism which sometimes mars Meyer’s splendid exegetical qualities. The interpretation turns on the endeavor to preserve the active force of ἁρπαγμὸς, which, in the very ragged condition of the evidence concerning that word, seems desperate. If this had been Paul’s meaning, I can conceive of no mode of expression which he would have been less likely to choose. Moreover, the explanation misses Paul’s point, which is to show the magnitude of the renunciation from the preincarnate and heavenly point of view, and not from the earthly and incarnate side. According to Meyer, Christ’s self-renunciation consisted in his refusal to grasp at earthly possessions and honors by means of his equality with God. According to Paul, it consisted in his relinquishment of heavenly glory and majesty.

As regards ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν, any attempt to commit Paul to a precise theological statement of the limitations of Christ’s humanity involves the reader in a hopeless maze. The word ἐκένωσεν was evidently selected as a peculiarly strong expression of the entireness of Jesus’ self-renunciation, and in order to throw the preincarnate glory and the incarnate humiliation into sharp contrast: to show that Christ utterly renounced and laid aside the majesty which he possessed in his original state. Its most satisfactory definition is found in the succeeding details which describe the incidents of Christ’s humanity, and with these exegesis is compelled to stop. The word does not indicate a surrender of deity, nor a paralysis of deity, nor a change of personality, nor a break in the continuity of self-consciousness. Christ’s consciousness of deity was not suspended during his earthly life. He knew that he came from God and went to God; that he had glory with the Father before the world was, and would receive it back. But he was made in all things like unto his brethren. “He took to himself all that belongs to the perfection of man’s being. He lived according to the conditions of man’s life, and died under the circumstances of man’s mortality” (Westcott).









Comp. Compare.

Class. Classics or Classical.

A Cod. Alexandrinus: 5th century. British Museum. Contains both epistles entire.

Soph. Sophocles.

B Cod. Vaticanus: 4th century. Vatican Library. Contains both epistles entire. Correctors: B2, nearly the same date; B3, 10th or 11th century.

Kl. Klöpper.

אԠCod. Sinaiticus: 4th century. Discovered by Tischendorf in the convent of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai, in 1859. Now at St. Petersburg. Contains both epistles complete. Correctors: אa, nearly contemporary; אb, 6th century; אc, beginning of 7th century, treated by two correctors,—אca אcb.

C Cod. Ephraem: 5th century. Palimpsest. National Library, Paris. Very defective. Wanting from τοῦτο οὖν (Ephesians 4:17) to καὶ τί αἱρήσομαι (Philippians 1:22), and from μειν (Βενιαμειν) (Philippians 3:5) to the end. Correctors: C2, 6th century; C3, 9th century.


D Cod. Claromontanus: 6th century. Græco-Latin. National Library, Paris. Contains both epistles entire. Corrector: Db, close of 6th century.

F Cod. Augiensis: 9th century. Græco-Latin. Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. Philippians entire; Philemon wanting in the Greek from πεποιθὼς (vs. 21) to the end.

G

Cod. Boernerianus: 9th century. Græco-Latin. Dresden. Wanting Greek and Latin, Philemon 1:21-25.


An asterisk added to the title of a MS., as D*, signifies a correction made by the original scribe.

K Cod. Mosquensis: 9th century. Moscow. Contains both epistles entire.

L Cod. Angelicus: 9th century. Angelican Library of Augustinian monks at Rome. Wanting from ἐξουσίαν (Hebrews 13:10) to the end of Philemon.


P Cod. Porphyrianus: beginning of 9th century. Palimpsest. St. Petersburg. Both epistles entire, but many words illegible.

Thdrt. Theodoret.

Theoph. Theophylact.

Win. Winer: Grammar of N. T. Greek. 8th ed. of Eng. Transl. by Moulton. Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Sprachidioms, 8 Aufl., von P. W. Schmiedel. 1 Theil, 1894.

Mey. Meyer.

Lightf. Lightfoot.

Alf. Alford.

Ellic. Ellicott.

Weiss Der Philipperbrief ausgesetzt und die Geschichte seiner Auslegung kritisch dargestellt. 1859. A most thorough piece of work. It leaves no point untouched, and treats every point with ample learning, conscientious pains taking, independence, and positiveness. It is valuable in studying the history of the exegesis.

WH. Westcott and Hort: The New Testament in the Original Greek.

De W. De Wette.

Lips. Lipsius.

Weizs. Weizsäcker.

Calov. Calovius.

Rosenm. Rosenmüller.

Polyb. Polybius.

Aristid. Aristides.

Bib. Gk. Biblical Greek.

17 National Library, Paris: 9th or 10th century. Both epistles entire.

Vulg. Vulgate.

Goth. Gothic.

Ign. Ignatius.

A.V. Authorized Version.

R.V. Revised Version of 1881.

LXX Septuagint Version.

Sap. Wisdom of Solomon.

Cop. Coptic, Memphitic, or Bohairic.

Arm. Armenian.

Syr. Peshitto and Harclean versions.

31 British Museum: 11th century. Both epistles entire.

47 Bodleian Library: 11th century. Both epistles entire.

Syr. Harclean.

37 Library of Town Council of Leicester: 15th century. Both epistles entire. See Miller’s Scrivener, vol. i. 202.

Æth. Ethiopic.

67 Vienna: 11th century. Both epistles entire.

Aug. Augustine.

Ans. Anselm.

Beng. Bengel.

= Equivalent to.

Thuc. Thucydides.

Hdt. Herodotus.

Dem. Demosthenes.

Plut. Plutarch.

Cyr. Alex. Cyril of Alexandria.

Euseb. Eusebius.

Burt. Burton: N. T. Moods and Tenses.

Art. Article.

Herz. Herzog: Real-Encyclopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche.

Ead. Eadie.

Œc. Œcumenius.

Polyc. Polycarp.

Bib. Bible.

Apocr. Apocrypha.

Chr. Chrysostom.

Tisch. Tischendorf: Novum Testamentum Graece. Editio Octava Critica Major.

Lat. Vet. Vetus Latina.

Grot. Grotius.

W. St. Vincent: Word Studies in the N. T.

Thay. Thayer: Greek-English Lexicon of the N. T.

TR Textus Receptus.

Luth. Luther.

Calv. Calvin.

Wies. Wiesinger.

Wetst. Wetstein.

Symm. Symmachus.

Aq. Aquila.

80 Vatican: 11th century. Philippians entire; Philemon mutilated.

Hack. Hackett.

v. Sod. von Soden.

Syr. Schaaf’s ed. of Peshitto.

Erasm. Erasmus.

1 I am under obligation to my colleague, Dr. Briggs, for kindly furnishing me with a proof of the article יָּבוֹר from the new Hebrew Lexicon.

Stud. u. Krit. Studien und Kritiken.

Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Philippians 2". International Critical Commentary NT. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/philippians-2.html. 1896-1924.
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