Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 1st, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Philippians 2

Beet's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentBeet on the NT

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-18


CH. 1:27-2:18.

Only act as citizens worthy of the Gospel of Christ, that, whether I come and see you or be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand in one spirit, with one soul together contending by your belief of the Gospel, and not affrighted in any thing by the adversaries, which is for them proof of destruction, but of your salvation, and this from God: because to you it has been graciously given on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer on His behalf; having the same contest, such as ye saw in me and now hear to be in me.

If there be then any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender feelings and compassions, make full my joy, that ye may mind the same thing, having the same love, with united souls minding the one thing; doing nothing by way of faction nor by way of vainglory, but with lowliness of mind each counting others better than themselves; not each of you looking to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who existing in the form of God, did not count His equality with God a means of high-handed self-enrichment, but emptied Himself taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men: and, found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself becoming obedient even unto death, death on a cross. For which cause also God exalted Him beyond measure, and graciously gave to Him the name which is beyond every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee may bow of heavenly ones and earthly ones and those under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So then, my beloved ones, according as always ye have obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, with fear and trembling work out your own salvation. For it is God who works in you both to will and to work, for His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that ye may become blameless and pure, children of God without blemish, in the midst of a generation crooked and perverted, among whom ye are seen as luminaries in the world, holding forth the word of life, that I may have whereof to exult in the Day of Christ that not in vain I have run, neither have laboured in vain. Yes, if even I am being poured out as a libation upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and rejoice with you all. and, the same thing, rejoice ye all, and rejoice with me.

After speaking in §§ 3, 4 about the things concerning himself, Paul comes now to those immediately concerning his readers. He bids them stand firm in face of their enemies, Philippians 1:27-30; exhorts to unity, Philippians 2:1-2; and to unselfishness, supporting this exhortation by the example of Christ, Philippians 1:3-11; points out that on this depends their salvation, Philippians 1:12-13; exhorts them to a spotless life, Philippians 1:14-16; and concludes with an expression of joy on their account, Philippians 1:17-18.

Philippians 1:27-30. Only: as in Galatians 2:10; Galatians 3:2; Galatians 5:13. All that Paul has to say is summed up in this one exhortation.

Act-your-part-as-citizens: same word in Acts 23:1, from the lips of Paul: a remarkable coincidence. Also 2 Maccabees vi. 1; xi. 25. It represents the Church as a free city, like those of ancient Greece, of which all Christians are citizens. Possibly this word here, and the cognate word in Philippians 3:20, were suggested by the municipal rights which distinguished the citizens of the Roman colony of Philippi from the provincials around: cp. Acts 16:20. Citizenship involves privileges and duties. Paul therefore bids his readers act worthily of the Gospel, which is both their charter of privileges and their law.

This general exhortation the rest of § 5 expounds in detail.

In order that… I may hear that etc.: the first detail in Paul’s exhortation, in the form of a purpose which he bids his readers have in view in their behaviour as citizens of the Kingdom of God. He urges them to act worthily in order that he may have the joy of hearing about their worthy conduct. He thus adds to his exhortation a motive, viz. his own attentive interest in them. Cp. Philippians 2:1.

Whether… or: two ways in which, as circumstances may determine, Paul hopes to hear about his readers, viz. either by visiting and seeing them and thus hearing from their own lips, or if absent by the report of others. Even in their midst, he would hear about their steadfastness. In this case, hearing would be associated with coming and seeing, in the other case, with absence. The form of the alternative suggests that Paul thinks chiefly of hearing about his readers from a distance. Re assumes that his life will be spared. Otherwise, he would neither visit nor hear about them.

That ye stand etc.: the matter Paul wishes to hear about his readers; and consequently the real object of his first exhortation.

Stand: maintain your position in the Christian life. A word and thought familiar to Paul: Philippians 4:1; Ephesians 6:11-14; Romans 5:2; Romans 11:20, etc. It suggests the presence of enemies or dangers threatening to drive them back or cause them to fall.

In one spirit: one animating principle moving the many members of the Church, this principle looked upon as the element in which they maintain their position: either the One Holy Spirit, who is (1 Corinthians 12:9; 1 Corinthians 12:11) the one personal inward source of life and harmony to the many servants of Christ; or the inward harmony which He imparts to those in whom He dwells, as suggested by one soul. Since this Person and this harmony are cause and effect, the distinction is unimportant, and was perhaps not clearly marked in the writer’s mind. Notice that, as in an army, so in the Church, harmony is a condition of steadfastness. The disunited fall.

Now follow two collateral clauses, each noting a condition of the desired steadfastness, viz. mutual help in the conflict, and fearlessness.

Contend: the Greek original of our word athlete. It represents the Christian life as a struggle for a prize, like the athletic contests of Greece. See note under 1 Corinthians 9:27.

Together-contending: athletes represented as comrades in one struggle, each helping the others. Similar word in Romans 15:30, where Paul begs his readers to join with him, by praying for him, in the struggle of his apostolic work. But here he does not expressly mention his own conflict; and on the other hand the words one spirit, one soul, place conspicuously before us the desired union of the Philippian Christians one with an other.

Paul remembers that his readers are engaged in one great struggle, and desires that in it all may act together, as though the many were impelled by the soul of one man, this harmony being a condition of the steadfastness of which he hopes to hear.

Soul: see under 1 Corinthians 15:53. It is that side of man’s immaterial nature which is nearest to the body and directly influenced by it, and through the body by the outer world; and is thus distinguished from the spirit, which is that in man nearest to God and directly influenced by the Spirit of God. The soul is therefore the emotional side of man, that which is roused by his surroundings. Paul desires that his readers be moved by one impulse.

The faith (or belief) of the Gospel: belief that the good news is true. The Gospel is the object-matter believed. So 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Colossians 2:12; cp. faith of Christ in Philippians 3:9.

Philippians 1:28-30. A second collateral clause, noting a second condition of steadfastness, with comments upon it.

Affrighted: as a horse takes fright at a sudden alarm.

In anything: any adverse circumstances, be they what they may.

Adversaries: same word in 1 Corinthians 16:9; and, of one tremendous opponent, in 2 Thessalonians 2:4. The definite term the adversaries shows that the conflict implied in the foregoing words was in part caused by abiding personal enemies, Jews or Gentiles. Samples may be found in 1 Thessalonians 2:14; Acts 17:5; Acts 16:19, these last being at Philippi. Paul bids his readers not to be frightened out of their compact rank by any attack of their enemies.

Which is etc.: an encouraging comment on the fearlessness which Paul desires in his readers.

Destruction: see under Philippians 3:19 and note under Romans 2:24.

Proof: same word in Romans 3:25; 2 Corinthians 8:24. The fearlessness of the persecuted will be to their enemies a proof that eternal ruin awaits them. For it will reveal supernatural help given to the persecuted, and thus prove that God is with them, and that consequently their opponents are fighting against God. An example of this in Acts 4:13; Acts 5:39.

To them or for them: this proof being an objective reality before their eyes, whether they see it or not.

Salvation: as in Philippians 1:19. Their own courage, being evidently divinely given, is to them a proof that God is with them and that therefore they are on the way to eternal safety. So is every manifest work of God in us an earnest of final deliverance.

And this from God: not only actually a proof, but designed by God to be such. Both the courage and the proof therein implied are from God. Taken in itself, this last statement might cover destruction as well as salvation, stating that both elements of the proof are from God. But, since the explanation which follows in Philippians 1:29 refers only to the persecuted, probably to them only refer the last words of Philippians 1:28.

Philippians 1:29. A proof that the courage of the persecuted was designed by God to be to them a proof of their ultimate salvation.

Graciously-given: or given-as-a-mark-of-favour or grace: frequent with Paul, found only with him and Luke. A cognate word, frequent with Paul, is found elsewhere only in 1 Peter 4:10 : see under Romans 1:11.

On-behalf-of Christ: in order to advance His pleasure or interests.

To believe in him: a phrase very common with John, with Paul only Romans 10:14; Galatians 2:16. The repeated words on his behalf lay great stress on the fact that the sufferings endured by the Philippian Christians were endured in order to help forward the Kingdom of Christ. God had ordained, in His favour towards them, that they should not only accept as true the promises of Christ but also undergo suffering in order to advance a work dear to Him. Their sufferings were, therefore, part of a divine purpose; and consequently the proof involved in them was part of that purpose.

Since the mention here of faith is only casual and is designed chiefly to throw into prominence the sufferings for Christ which follow faith in Him, it is unsafe to base upon these words a definite proof that faith is a gift of God. But, since we should never have believed in Christ had He not first spoken to us, and had not God exerted upon us influences leading us to accept the words of Christ, we may in this guarded sense speak of faith as a gift of God. Similarly, sufferings are gifts of God’s favour: for they come upon us by His design and for our good. This seems to me all that can fairly be inferred from this verse. The scantiness in the N.T. of proofs that faith is a gift of God was perhaps occasioned by the danger lest, if it were taught more definitely, we might wait for faith as for some gift not yet bestowed, instead of at once accepting the promises of Christ.

Philippians 1:30. A statement collateral and subordinate to that of Philippians 1:29, giving to the persecuted still further encouragement.

Conflict: the ordinary word for the athletic contests referred to in Philippians 1:27.

The same conflict or the same sort of conflict as ye saw in me: close coincidence with Acts 16:19-24. The persecutions of Paul’s readers arose from the same cause, and therefore belonged to the same category, as his own scourging and imprisonment at Philippi. They might therefore look for similar divine help. And this letter tells them that similar hardships and perils surround him now at Rome. When Paul was before their eyes at Philippi, they saw in him a conflict like their own present troubles. And now from a distance they hear tidings which reveal in his person a similar conflict. Yet at Philippi they saw him unmoved by his enemies. And from this letter they hear that he is unmoved now. Thus Paul brings the example of his own courage to inspire his readers.

Turning to the Christians at Philippi, Paul’s one thought is that they may act in a manner worthy of the spiritual commonwealth to which they belong and of the good news they have heard. His own deadly peril reminds him that they also are exposed to hardship and peril. He therefore bids them maintain their position in face of their foes; and to this end exhorts them to contend bravely shoulder to shoulder, armed with their belief of the good news; and to be undismayed by their enemies. Their fearlessness will be a proof of the destruction awaiting their foes and of the deliverance awaiting them, and this by God’s design. For their persecutions are no mere accident, but are a part of God’s great purpose of mercy, He having ordained that they shall not only believe the promises of Christ, but also suffer to advance His kingdom. Their hardships have the same source and the same gracious aid as the hardships at Philippi from which God so wonderfully delivered Paul, and as the hardships now at Rome, in which, while he writes, Christ is daily magnified.

Philippians 2:1-2. Another exhortation arising out of, and in part repeating and developing, the exhortation in Philippians 1:27-30.

If there be then: an appeal based on the conflict just mentioned.

Encouragement: speech calculated to prompt to action or endurance: same word as exhort in Romans 12:1, where see note.

In Christ: if in the spiritual life, of which Christ is Himself the surrounding and lifegiving element, there is anything to move you. Cp. 1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 10:1.

Consolation: kind words to one in sadness, thus distinguished from the word rendered encouragement. Such kind words Christian love ever prompts. ‘If love prompts words of comfort to those in sorrow, remember me in prison at Rome and yield to my request.’

Fellowship of the Spirit: either a sharing with others the gift of the Holy Spirit, or brotherliness prompted by the Spirit. The latter would give to the word fellowship the same sense as in Philippians 1:5, and is suggested by the Christian harmony so earnestly desired in the words following. It is therefore the more likely interpretation. A close parallel in Romans 15:30, where an appeal is supported by reference both to Christ and to the love of the Spirit, i.e. the love with which the Holy Spirit fills the hearts of those in whom He dwells.

Tender-mercies: as in Philippians 1:8. To this word, the word compassions adds the idea of pity towards one in distress, viz. Paul at Rome. Thus the 4th plea is related to the 2nd, which recalls the idea of distress: the 3rd is related to the 1st, giving the divine source of the disposition Paul desires. If there is anything in Christ moving you to yield to my request, if my sufferings claim the consolation which love is ever ready to give, if the Holy Spirit whom ye have received as the animating principle of a new life is a spirit of brotherhood, if in your hearts sufferings can evoke tenderness and pity, etc. The earnestness of this fourfold appeal prepares us for a request of the highest importance.

To the word any before tender-mercies all uncials and many cursive MSS. agree to give a form utterly ungrammatical and unintelligible, a manifest error. The error extends only to one or two letters, and makes no appreciable difference in the meaning of the passage. That an error so evident has passed uncorrected in all the older and many of the later Greek MSS. is certainly remarkable, and proves that even the agreement of the best copies is no absolute guarantee against error. But one trifling slip does nothing whatever to shake our confidence in the general accuracy of our copies. Moreover it reveals the accuracy of the transcribers, an accuracy not less valuable because it is sometimes unthinking.

Philippians 2:2. An earnest request, for which the foregoing pleas have prepared the way.

Fill up my joy: implying that if the readers will yield to Paul’s request nothing will be wanting to make him full of joy. Cp. 1 Thessalonians 3:8-9. We have here again (cp. Philippians 1:4) the golden thread of joy which runs through and illumines this Epistle. Notice that, although grammatically fulfil my joy is the matter of Paul’s request, it is really another plea, the actual request being added, in the form of a purpose, in the words following. This first request is an appeal to fill with gladness the heart of the prisoner awaiting his trial at Rome.

That ye may etc.: the real request, put in rather furtively as the aim the readers are to have in view. They must resolve to mind the same thing. By so doing they will fill Paul with joy.

Mind: as in Romans 8:5. The same thing actuated by a like aim; as in Philippians 4:2; Romans 12:5; 2 Corinthians 13:11. This purpose is expounded and developed in two participial clauses. The same thing, which Paul desires in his readers, is love one to another, the same love in each breast.

The one thing: stronger than the same thing, stating that the readers are not only to agree in thought and aim but to agree in one definite aim. That this aim is to be Christ and His Kingdom, Paul leaves them to infer.

With-united-souls: similar words in Philippians 1:27. It is best to connect this word closely with those following, as describing the manner in which they are to mind the one thing, thus giving to this clause the chief weight. The harmony is to pervade not only the intelligence but the emotions. Cp. from the soul in Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:23. The earnestness of these repeated pleas reveals the infinite importance of Christian unity: and this is confirmed by similar language in Romans 15:5; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Ephesians 4:3-6, and by the Saviour’s prayer in John 17:21-23.

Philippians 2:3-4. Two other participial clauses, each warning against a disposition fatal to Christian unity and commending the opposite virtue.

Faction: as in Philippians 1:17.

Vainglory, or empty glory: an appearance without reality.

By way of faction and vainglory: two distinct paths, along neither of which would Paul have his readers go. He warns them both against a mercenary spirit and against a desire for empty show. In this clause we have no verb. Since the repeated word by-way-of suggests actions along a mental line marked out, it is better to supply the word doing. It was needless to insert it: for action was clearly implied.

Lowliness-of-mind: see under Colossians 3:12. It is suggested by the word mind in Philippians 2:2. [The Greek article indicates the well-known virtue of humility.] This virtue must be in active exercise when Christians compare themselves with others.

Looking-at: not making his own interest the goal of his forethought. See under 2 Corinthians 4:18.

But also; rather softens the foregoing absolute prohibition. Paul now requires, not that the interest of others be the only object of our thought, but that it have a place along with our own interest. Similar teaching in 1 Corinthians 10:24; 1 Corinthians 10:33; 1 Corinthians 13:5. It is therefore another note of common authorship. Whether the above warning against selfishness was prompted by something special at Philippi, we have no means of knowing. The universality of selfishness, imperilling everywhere Christian unity, forbids us to infer from these words such special occasion.

Philippians 2:5-11. A new sentence bringing suddenly before us the supreme example of Christ. A close coincidence with Romans 15:3; 2 Corinthians 8:9. Since the example of Christ does not bear directly on Christian unity, but is the absolute opposite of every kind of selfishness, which is a universal hindrance to unity, it is best to understand the example of Christ as adduced simply to give the strongest possible support to the words immediately preceding.

Have this mind etc.: ‘cherish in yourselves as an object of your thought the thought and disposition which was in Christ.

Also in Christ Jesus: the mind which was actually in Christ and that which Paul desires in his readers being placed side by side.

Notice that although the words which follow refer to the not yet Incarnate Son, (see under Philippians 2:7,) He is here called Christ Jesus. So 2 Corinthians 8:9; 1 John 4:2. This reveals Paul’s intense conviction of the continuous and undivided personality of the Eternal Son and the God-Man. This made it easy to give to the Pre-incarnate Son the name He bore as Man among men; the more so because only through His appearance in human form is the Eternal Son known to men. It is specially easy here because Paul is really adducing the example of the Incarnate Son, tracing however the example of Christ on earth to the purpose of the not yet Incarnate Son contemplating His approaching life on earth. See below.

Philippians 2:6-11. The thought of Christ which Paul desires in his readers he expounds in Philippians 2:6-8, in its successive stages of self-emptying and self-humiliation until He hangs dead on the cross, this being the lowest point in His descent. Then follows in Philippians 2:9-11 His exaltation by the Father, until to the Name of Jesus is paid universal homage, all this being a divine recompense for His self-humiliation and an inducement to men to follow His example. We have thus a unique and infinite example of unselfishness, crowned by unique honour.

Philippians 2:6-8. The voluntary descent of Christ, in its two successive stages.

Philippians 2:6-7 describe His original condition, and His surrender of it at His Incarnation: Philippians 2:8 describes the condition then assumed, and His action to the moment of death. We thus find the Son in three positions, in His original glory, as man on earth, and dead upon the cross.

Form: that in which essence manifests itself; the sum total of that by which an object is distinguished from other objects and thus made known. Whatever, we can see, hear, or touch is the form of a material object: whatever we can grasp with the mind is the form of a mental object. It is to the essence what the outside is to the inside, what the manifestation is to the underlying and unseen reality. It is “the utterance of the inner life” (Trench) of whatever exists. Same word in the N.T. only Mark 16:12; also Daniel 5:6; Daniel 5:9-10; Daniel 7:28; Daniel 4:33; Isaiah 44:13; Job 4:16. Cognate words in Romans 2:20; 2 Timothy 3:5; also Galatians 4:19; Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:29; Philippians 3:10; Philippians 3:21. It is closely related in sense to image, which however suggests the idea of comparison and similarity.

Existing: a more emphatic word than being, yet common. It recalls the condition and surroundings of existence.

These words refer evidently to the not yet incarnate Son. For they describe His state when He emptied Himself by becoming in the likeness of men, i.e. by His birth as a human child. To this, as we have seen, the words Christ Jesus are no objection. Nor is it an objection that this is an example for men on earth. For the action even of the Father is made in Matthew 5:45-48 an example for men. Moreover the entire action of Christ on earth is an outflow in human form of His divine nature. See under Philippians 2:11. These words therefore describe the Eternal Son before, and apart from, His incarnation. He was then in the form of God. And since, without an intelligent mind to grasp it, form would lose its real significance, we must conceive the Son contemplated by the Father and by the bright ones of heaven. They saw in Him an expression corresponding to the essence of God. This implies that the Son was, before His Incarnation, a Person distinct from the Father. And, if so, a divine Person. Other wise His self-manifestation would be (cp. 2 Timothy 3:5) a deception, which is inconceivable. Consequently, these words imply equality with God. And this is explicitly assumed in the words following. See Dissertation iii.

The phrase in the form of God was chosen doubtless for contrast to form of a servant. This contrast reveals the supreme unselfishness of Christ.

On the Mount the Incarnate Son assumed, in the presence of the chosen Apostles, as He did after His resurrection to the disciples going to Emmaus, a form, or mode of self-manifestation, different from that in which they were accustomed to see Him: Mark 9:2; Mark 16:12. And our bodies, having laid aside their present transitory shape, will share, as their mode of self-presentation, the glorious form in which Christ Himself will appear: Philippians 3:21.

His equality with God: literally the existing in a manner equal to God. The Greek article points to a definite thought already before us. And this is found, and found only, in the words existing in the form of God. For He who thus existed must have also existed in a manner equal to God. These last words tell us the inner reality underlying the form of God. And, as we have seen, He whose existence can be thus described must be divine.

In these words Paul’s teaching about the nature of the Son finds its culmination. Throughout his Epistles the Son occupies a place infinitely above that of the loftiest creatures. He is here explicitly assumed to be equal to God.

This equality Christ did not count a means of high-handed self enrichment: or, more literally, no high-handed self enriching did He deem the being equal to God. [The verb underlying the substantive I have rendered high-handed self-enrichment means to snatch, to take hold of quickly with a strong hand. With such strong-handed taking, very frequently injustice is associated, yet not always: for the word is used of a man grasping his own sword; and in John 6:15; Acts 8:39; 2 Corinthians 12:2 the same word is used without any thought of injustice. But it always denotes taking hold of, or snatching, something not yet in our hands. This is made quite certain by an argument in Chrysostom’s Homily (vi. 2) on this passage. The precise word here used is found in non-Christian Greek only, I believe, in Plutarch’s Morals p. 12a for a violent act of seizure, according to the usual active sense of the termination. For the booty seized, the passive form αρπαγμα is common in later Greek. Lightfoot quotes three passages from early Christian writers in which apparently this meaning is given to the word αρπαγμος which is used in the passage before us. It is so understood here by him and Ellicott and several early Greek writers. But these two modern commentators suggest no reason why Paul passes by the common phrase αρπαγμα ηγεισθαι and uses instead the rare word αρπαγμος. The natural explanation is that the word chosen expresses a sense not conveyed by the word passed over. And, if so, the difference of sense must be sought in the different termination. Moreover, Lightfoot’s exposition gives to αρπαζω the sense of refusing to let go that which one already securely holds, a sense which it never has. The real meaning of the verb is illustrated by one of Lightfoot’s own quotations, Eusebius, Church History bk. viii. 12, where we have τον θανατον αρπαγμα θεμενοι written about men who, casting themselves from high roofs, laid violent hands on death and made it their own. Evidently death was not theirs until they threw themselves down. Lightfoot compares the words ευρημα and ερμαιον. But, like αρπαγμα, these words denote always an acquisition, not an ancient possession. And equality with God was to the Eternal Son no acquisition. Consequently it could not be an object to be snatched hold of. Again if, as Lightfoot interprets, the Son did not clutch His equality with God, we must suppose that he allowed it to go from His grasp, that He gave it up. Surely this is inconceivable. The Son gave up the form of God, i.e. the utterance of the inner reality of the divine existence, in order to assume the form of a servant: but, even when He had emptied Himself, He was in very truth essentially equal to God.

The force of this combined objection seems to me irresistible. The exposition before us makes Paul use a rare word which suggests a meaning he did not intend instead of a common word expressing exactly his intended meaning; gives to the root of the word here used a sense it never has, viz. to hold fast something already in one’s hand; and implies that the Son of God did not refuse to give up His equality with God.

Meyer and Hofmann, expositors unsurpassed for grammatical accuracy and exegetical tact, give to the word αρπαγμος its natural sense, and interpret the passage to mean that the Son did not look upon His divine powers as a means of self-enrichment. They understand this passage to describe the Son contemplating His own divine powers in view of His approaching entrance into the world. He did not look upon his equality with God as a means of laying hold for Himself, after becoming man, of the good things of earth, wealth, enjoyment, power; but, instead of this, laid aside the form of God, i.e. the assertion of His divine powers, and took His lot merely as a man among men. Christ thus presents an infinite contrast to the gods of Homer, who ever used their superhuman powers for their own enjoyment.

This exposition seems to me altogether satisfactory. It accepts the natural grammatical meaning both of the root and the termination of the uncommon Greek word here used. Meyer appropriately compares a similar word used in 1 Timothy 6:5 to describe persons who looked upon piety as a means of gain. In their thought piety and gain were coincident: to have the one was to have the other. And it agrees most fully with the context. For Christ’s refusal to use His divine powers to take for Himself as man material good was the highest conceivable example of seeking not His own things, but the things of others.

The Latin writers generally, Tertullian, Ambrosiaster, Ambrose, Augustine, led astray by the Latin rendering rapina, a word denoting plunder, explain this passage to mean that Christ did not look upon His equality with God as an act of robbery, in other words, that He deemed Himself to be justly equal to God. This exposition is quite consistent with the following word αλλα: see my Corinthians p. 124. But it gives to the words equality with God the meaning of assumption of equality with God, a meaning in no way suggested by the context; and makes injustice to be the most conspicuous idea of αρπαγμος, an idea not belonging to the word. Moreover, it reduces this passage to an exposition of in the form of God with no direct bearing upon Christ’s self-humiliation as an example of unselfishness, thus leaving unexplained its emphatic position in the sentence.

This exposition is based on the Latin versions, and is almost confined to the Western Church. It thus came into the English Versions, Protestant and Roman Catholic. But it is rejected by almost all modern expositors.

Of Greek commentators, Origen (On Romans bk. v. 2, p. 553) expounds the passage to mean did not reckon it a great thing for Himself that He was equal to God: and he is followed by Theodore of Mopsuestia and by Theodoret. But the connection between this exposition and Paul’s Greek words is not evident. Chrysostom expounds it to mean that Christ did not look upon His own equality with God as something which He had taken by force, and which since it was acquired by force might be lost by force and must therefore be carefully guarded. Instead of doing this, and conscious that His equality with God was securely His own, Christ emptied Himself, thus laying aside for a time the manifestation of His equality with God.

This exposition gives to the word αρπαγμος the sense of αρπαγμα, and thus fails to explain Paul’s substitution of a rare and less suitable word for one common and altogether suitable. And it makes the connection between Philippians 2:6 and Philippians 2:7 so distant as to be unrecognisable, On the other hand, it holds fast the true sense of αρπαζω, viz. to take hold of something not yet in our grasp. A somewhat similar exposition is found in other Greek writers. Others again quote the words of Paul as an example of the condescension of Christ, without expounding their exact meaning.

Lightfoot says that his own exposition “is the common and indeed almost universal interpretation of the Greek Fathers, who would have the most lively sense of the requirements of the language,” and gives a long list of quotations. These quotations support him in rejecting the exposition of the Latin Fathers. But not one of them confirms his own exposition. So far as I know it is not supported by any ancient writer. And inasmuch as the writers he quotes evidently understood αρπαγμος in the sense of acquirement or something acquired, and Chrysostom speaks of this as implied in the word, they really contradict the exposition they are quoted to support. On the other hand, I do not know of any ancient writer who holds Meyer’s view. We are therefore left, in the interpretation of this difficult passage, without any help from the early Christian writers. See farther in the Expositor, 3rd series, vol. v. p. 115.

Philippians 2:7. Exact opposite of counting His equality with God a means of self-enrichment.

Himself: emphatic. A grasping hand frequently empties those on whom it is laid. So did the hand of the Eternal Son: but it was upon Himself that the violent hand was laid. The two participial clauses following specify with increasing clearness the way in which the Son’s self-emptying was manifested.

The likeness of men: close coincidence with Romans 8:3, in the likeness of the flesh of sin. It suggests that Christ was not in every respect a man. And this is fully consistent with Paul’s frequent description of Him as Man: e.g. Romans 5:15; Romans 5:18; 1 Corinthians 15:21; 1 Corinthians 15:47; 1 Timothy 2:5. Since the human race is older than sin, we may think of the essential attributes of manhood without thought of sin, and, using the word in this correct sense, speak of Christ as truly man. On the other hand, the universality of sin justifies our including it now in our conception of mankind. In this sense, Christ was not man, but in the likeness of men. For in outward form He was exactly similar to the race which inherited Adam’s sin. In all things He was made like to His brethren: Hebrews 2:17. These two modes of viewing our race forbid us to infer from this verse that Christ was not actually man.

Being-made: literally having-become: same word in Romans 1:3; Galatians 4:5. By clothing Himself in a humanity like that of other men, the Eternal Son entered a mode of existence new to Him. These words are Paul’s counterpart to John 1:14, The Word became flesh.

By entering a mode of existence like that of Adam’s children, the Son took the form of a servant, or slave. For creatures are essentially the property of the Creator, bound to use all creaturely powers to work out His will. This simple exposition forbids us to infer from these words that Christ was ever servant to an earthly master. The Son assumed the obligations of a creature. He who had been recognised by angels as bearing the form of God presented Himself on earth to the eyes of men as one doing the work of another.

In connection with His entrance into human life, and with His assumption of a creature’s form, the Son emptied Himself. These words involve the whole mystery of the Incarnation. They therefore demand in their exposition the utmost caution and reverence.

The words emptied Himself assert that the Son exerted upon Himself an influence which deprived Him, while on earth, of some fulness which He previously had, and made Him in some sense empty. And this suggests that this self-emptying was the negative condition of His assumption of a servant’s form.

It will help us to understand these words if we first note a broad distinction between certain elements which go to make up, so far as we can understand it, the nature of God.

Love is the essence of God: 1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16. Consequently, to lay aside His love, even for a moment, would be not to empty, but to deny and mutilate Himself. For an empty vessel still retains all its essential parts. Nor could the Son (cp. 2 Timothy 2:13) interrupt the full exercise of His infinite love. Indeed of that love His entire life on earth was a ceaseless outflow. Moreover all the moral attributes of God are involved in His unique attribute of love. To be untrue or unjust would be unloving. Consequently, the essential truth and justice of the Son could not even for a moment become inoperative. These therefore were not in any way laid aside at the Incarnation.

On the other hand, the natural attributes of God stand in a different relation to Him. His power is not necessarily, like His love, always in full exercise.

It is active only so far and in such manner as His love and wisdom determine. To refrain from its full exercise is therefore not inconsistent with the nature of God. A limitation even of knowledge does not necessarily contradict infinite love. Yet both power and knowledge increase immensely the practical value of love.

With this distinction in view we turn to the recorded life of the Incarnate Son. We find Him (Luke 2:52) growing in knowledge, and yet acknowledging at the close of His life (Mark 13:32) that He did not know the day of His return. Yet strangely mingled with this human ignorance we find in Him divine omniscience: John 2:25. The Son was guided (Luke 4:1) by the Holy Spirit; and in the strength of the Spirit (Luke 4:14; Matthew 12:28) were wrought His miracles. This limited knowledge reveals the presence in the God-Man of a human Spirit capable of limitation and increase. And that the indivisible personality of the Eternal Son accepted the limitations of a pure human spirit, and was anointed for work (Acts 10:38) by the power of the Holy Spirit, implies a renunciation for a time and for man’s salvation of the full exercise of His divine powers. See under 2 Corinthians 8:9. To this renunciation indisputably refer the words before us. How He who from all eternity knows all things, and by the word of His power upholds all things, could in any sense accept the limitation of human knowledge and become a medium of the operation of the power of the Holy Spirit, is beyond our thought. It is to us inscrutable, because divine. But it is the mystery of divine love.

Notice that although in one sense, as here stated, the Incarnate Son was empty, in another sense even upon earth He was (John 1:14) full of truth and grace. The difference is only verbal. The words of John look upon grace and truth as contents of the Son’s divine personality: the words before us assume that they are part of His nature and therefore remain with Him even when He had emptied Himself.

We may therefore reverently believe that, in order to save man, the Eternal Son entered a life subject to human limitations; and that in order to do this, while retaining in full exercise the infinite love which is the essence of God and which could not be even for a moment inoperative, the Son deliberately laid aside, by an influence upon Himself which no creature can exert, the full exercise of His divine powers, thus permitting them to become for a time latent. Guided by infinite wisdom and prompted by infinite love, the Eye Omniscient was for a moment closed, and the power which made the world became latent. The possibility of this self-emptying lies deep in the mystery of the Divine Trinity. But it is the most wonderful outshining conceivable of the infinite splendour of divine love.

Every attempt to understand the Great Renunciation must hold fast the real Manhood, the unchangeable Divinity, and the undivided Personality, of the God-Man.

Since the exercise of the Son’s divine powers were the utterance of His inner essence, of His equality with God, that which He laid aside was the form of God. But this is not expressly asserted here. On the other hand, we have no hint, and no reason to believe, that He laid down His equality with God. We are merely told that He did not look upon it as a means of seizing for Himself the good things of earth.

Philippians 2:8. Further and final descent of the Son, in graphic delineation. Some ancient versions and the Rheims Roman Catholic version punctuate, being made in the likeness of men and found in fashion as a man: He humbled Himself. But this extension of the last clause of Philippians 2:7 is rather tautological, and gives to the words He humbled Himself an unaccountable abruptness: whereas the punctuation of the A.V. and R.V. gives to the whole sentence a more harmonious and majestic flow and to each clause due weight. Paul describes first the not yet incarnate Son, then His descent into humanity, then depicts His condition as a man among men, and His further descent, until He reaches its lowest point and hangs dead upon the cross.

Fashion (in N.T. only 1 Corinthians 7:31) differs from form as any occasional appearance or visible clothing differs from an expression which corresponds to actual inner reality. The form of God is the appropriate self-manifestation of the Son’s essence, of His equality with God. The fashion as a man was the outward guise of humanity, a visible clothing bearing only a distant relation to the actual nature of the Son. It is practically the same as in the likeness of men, except perhaps that it recalls more conspicuously the outward aspect of Christ as an individual man. In this outward guise, by those who sought Him, the Incarnate Son was found. This last word keeps before us, as does the conspicuous repetition of the word form, the self-presentation of the Son both as God and as man.

Humbled Himself: chose for Himself a lowly path. Such was Christ’s every step from the manger to the grave.

Becoming obedient: mode of Christ’s self-humiliation. It is related to He humbled Himself as is taking the form of a servant to He emptied Himself. Having laid aside the manifestation of His divine powers and become Man, the Son entered also the path of obedience, the normal moral state of man. He thus manifested in the human form of obedience His essential and absolute devotion to the Father.

As far as to death: the extent of Christ’s obedience. [Cp. 2 Timothy 2:9; Hebrews 12:4.] In the path of obedience He went on till He reached the grave.

Death upon a cross: a graphic detail marking the extreme limit of the downward path which God marked out for His Son on earth, and which He obediently trod. He refused not to die a criminal’s death. This was the lowest step of the lowly path entered when He emptied Himself.

Such is the example by which Paul supports his exhortation that his readers seek not their own things, but also the things of others. It is found in the visible human life of the Son of God, of whom therefore Paul speaks as Christ Jesus. The thoughts which manifested themselves in the Incarnate Son he bids us think in ourselves. And, since these thoughts were earlier than the incarnation, he lays open to us the mind of the pre-existent Son. Contemplating His approaching life on earth, He did not look upon His divine powers as a means of grasping the good things which are to so many men objects of highest ambition and desire; but gave up, for the term of His life on earth, the exercise of these powers, thus leaving His divine personality in a sense empty, accepted the distinctive features of service, and became like men. Nor was this all. A further descent begins where the first ended. We go to seek the self-emptied Son, and we find Him clothed in a guise such as men wear. He treads a lowly path marked out for Him by divine command, until it leads Him to death in its most shameful form. As we gaze at Christ dead upon the cross, and remember the splendour from which He came and the earthly possibilities which were within His reach, and remember also that He left that glory and endured that shame of His own free will and in order to save the lost and to make them sharers of His glory, we see in Him an example of unselfishness the most sublime we can conceive.

Philippians 2:9-11. The matchless exaltation which followed the matchless self-humiliation of Christ.

For which cause also God: the divine recompense for the foregoing.

Him: emphatic; the divine Author and divine object of this exaltation placed side by side.

Highly exalted: literally exalted-beyond measure.

Graciously-given: same word in Philippians 1:29. The name given was a mark of the Father’s favour to the Son.

Beyond every name: corresponding to exalted-beyond measure. This name comes up to, and goes beyond, every other. Same thought in Hebrews 1:4. As a definite object of thought, it is the name. Not necessarily the name Jesus, which is merely that by which He was actually known among men; nor any special articulate sound; but the name which belongs to, and denotes, in heaven and earth, the personality of Him that was born at Bethlehem. For this, not an articulate sound, is the one essential point. The exaltation and name of Christ are a gift of the Father, as in Ephesians 1:20-22; Colossians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 15:15; 1 Corinthians 15:27.

Philippians 2:10-11. A purpose of God in exalting Christ.

In the name of Jesus: so 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:20; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:14; James 5:14. A name is personality as known and recognised among men, and as distinguished from others. In the recognised personality of Jesus abides the Majesty before which God designs all to bow.

Every knee bow: graphic delineation of the act of worship. So Ephesians 3:14; Romans 11:4; Romans 14:11.

Those-in-heaven: its angelic in habitants. Same word in Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 15:40; 1 Corinthians 15:48-49.

Those-on-earth: living men. Same word in Philippians 3:19; 1 Corinthians 15:40; 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Those-under-the-earth: the dead, in contrast to the living. So Homer (Iliad bk. ix. 457) speaks of Pluto as “Zeus under the earth.” It is unsafe to infer from this term that Paul thinks of universal worship earlier than the resurrection. His threefold division includes angels and men at the moment of writing: and he divides the latter into those now living and those already dead. Without thought of time, looking only at the persons belonging to these three all-inclusive classes, Paul says that God exalted Christ in order that every one of them should bow to Him. Nor is it safe to infer from every knee that angels and departed human spirits have bodily form. For these words were naturally prompted by Paul’s thoughts about living men: and with these he easily associated angels and the dead.

Acknowledge: see under Romans 14:11.

Every tongue acknowledge; completes the picture of worship. The words every knee bow, every tongue confess are appropriately taken from Isaiah 45:23 (quoted in Romans 14:11), where God solemnly announces His purpose of salvation for the Gentiles. And inasmuch as that ancient purpose will be fulfilled in homage paid to Christ, and only thus, the submission to God foretold by Isaiah is legitimately stated here in the form of submission to Christ.

Jesus Christ is Lord: confessed submission to the rule of Christ; so 1 Corinthians 12:3.

For the glory of God the Father: manifestation of the Father’s greatness, evoking His creatures’ admiration, this being here represented as the ultimate purpose for which God exalted Christ. As ever, Paul rises from the Son to the Father. Close coincidence in 1 Corinthians 15:28 : cp. Ephesians 1:12; Ephesians 1:14.

We cannot conceive this worship and praise to be other than genuine. Consequently, all men are embraced in the purpose of salvation which raised Christ from the grave to the throne. But this by no means implies that all men will actually be saved. And, as we shall see under Philippians 3:19, Paul did not expect that all men will eventually be saved. The harmony of the two passages is found in the truth that God has made the fulfilment of His own purpose of mercy contingent on man’s submission and faith. Nor can we, from the word those-under-the-earth, infer a probation in Hades, even for those who did not on earth hear the Gospel. For it is quite possible that the fate of these will be determined by their acceptance or rejection of such light as they had on earth. And, if so, their eternal song will be a designed result of Christ’s victory over death. The whole passage is so easily explained by Paul’s teaching elsewhere that we cannot fairly infer from it any further teaching about the position or prospects of the dead.

Christianity differs from all other religions in presenting a perfect model of human excellence, suitable alike for all persons in all circumstances, an absolute standard by which every one may and must be measured and judged. To this example appeal is constantly made in the N.T.: 1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 15:3; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:6. This being so, it might be expected that of the human life of Christ we should have a very full record, that we should be told much about Him in whose steps we are bidden to tread. Such is not the case. If from the Gospels we deduct the miracles and teaching of Christ, there remain only scanty memorials of the Saviour. It is well that this is so. Had we more details, we should imitate these, forgetting perhaps the deep underlying principles of the sacred life. As it is, we are directed chiefly, as in the passage before us, to those elements in Christ apparently furthest above reach of imitation, to His incarnation and His death for our sins. The reason is evident. In these supreme events shone forth in its intensest lustre the inmost heart of the Eternal Son. Consequently, Paul bids us, not to do as Christ did, but to have the mind that was in Him. Notice specially, in the example of Christ here set before us, two elements, unsparing self-abnegation for the good of others and unreserved obedience to God. These led the Son from heaven to earth, and from earth to the grave; and from the cross and the grave, in a ruined world, to the splendours of the eternal throne and the ceaseless songs of wondering angels and of a ransomed human race. In that path it is ours to tread.

Philippians 2:12-13. Philippians 2:12 is an exhortation based on the foregoing; Philippians 2:13 is a reason for it. The one main exhortation is prefaced by several preparatory clauses.

So then etc.: a designed moral consequence of the foregoing.

Beloved-ones: Philippians 4:1 twice: a mark of the tenderness of this epistle. Cp. Romans 12:19; 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 7:1.

Obeyed: viz. the apostolic authority of Paul. For only thus can we account for the mention of his presence and absence. Such authority he claims over his children in the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 4:14-15; 1 Corinthians 4:21; 1 Corinthians 5:3. He does so in confidence that his commands are the will of God. This mention of obedience recalls the example of Christ in Philippians 2:8, and the authority (1 Thessalonians 2:6) with which Paul might command.

They had always obeyed: close agreement with Philippians 1:5, from the first day until now. This recognition of previous obedience softens somewhat Paul’s silent assumption of authority. He only bids them continue to act according as they had always done. They were not to act as though their action were prompted by Paul’s presence. [The word ως is omitted in the Vatican MS. and some good versions. But its omission is so easily accounted for that we may with some confidence retain it. It gives the readers’ subjective view, in Paul’s wish, of their own conduct.]

Now much more: the absence of the teacher’s help making their own care more needful.

With fear and trembling: with anxious care as in a matter serious and difficult: a Pauline phrase; see 1 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 6:5. It suggests the real peril to which Christians are exposed, and especially the great peril of selfishness.

Salvation: as in Philippians 1:19 : deliverance from the perils which surround the Christian life. That it is their own salvation is good reason why they should work it out with anxious care, and with even greater care in Paul’s absence than when his watchful eye is on them.

Work-out: literally be working out: same word in Romans 5:3; 2 Corinthians 4:17; 20 times in the Epistles of Paul, 3 times in the rest of the N.T. it is akin to the word in Philippians 2:13. It denotes effective effort, and implies that deliverance day by day is a result of persistent work: cp. Ephesians 6:13. While using all means to strengthen our spiritual life, we are bringing about our present and final deliverance. So sailors have often toiled to save their ship from the rocks and themselves from a watery grave.

Philippians 2:13. Encouragement to work out our own salvation. Paul assumes that there is One who works in us, speaks of Him as a definite object of thought, and calls Him God. [To this last word he gives great prominence by bringing it to the beginning of the sentence.]

Works: 1 Corinthians 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Romans 7:5; Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:2, instructive parallels; 17 times with Paul, 3 times in the rest of the N.T. Like the kindred word in Philippians 2:12, it is a note of Pauline authorship. The cognate substantive is used in Philippians 3:21. It is the in-working activity of God.

In you: within your personality, body or spirit: cp. Ephesians 2:2; Colossians 1:29; also Ephesians 1:20. Even to will, the inward determination to act, is a result of God working in us.

And to work: the inward effort to accomplish the formed purpose. Both the purpose and the energy with which we work it out are here said to be an inward work of God.

His good-pleasure: that which seems good in the sight of God, as in Matthew 11:26, suggesting possibly that it is for the good of others. Same word as good-will in Philippians 1:15; where however the context makes the idea of benefit to others much more conspicuous than here.

On-behalf-of His good-pleasure: in order to accomplish a purpose pleasing to God. Cp. Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9.

This verse by no means implies that these divine influences are irresistible. And indisputably they are resisted. For God’s good pleasure is (1 Timothy 2:4) that all men be saved; whereas not all men are saved. Even to an impenitent man Paul says (Romans 2:4), God is leading thee to repentance; although evidently the divine influences were completely thwarted. Yet in all cases these influences are real and of infinite worth. For without them there would be no good in man. But their actual effect depends upon our surrender to them.

We have here a plain statement of prevenient grace, a divine influence in man preceding and producing whatever in him is good, from the earliest desire for salvation to final victory over the last temptation.

Philippians 2:12-13 present two opposite and yet completely harmonious sides of the Christian life. The latter is the source and ground and motive of the former. All good in man, from the first good desire, is an outworking of a divine purpose and power. Through the Gospel, and the written and unwritten Law, God is ever exerting an influence leading men to repentance and salvation. He does this in order to gratify His own desire to save and bless. The actual result depends upon man’s self-surrender to these influences. Other influences would lead him in an opposite direction. Man’s only choice is to which of these influences he will yield. On this depends his fate. Consequently, if he rises, he rises entirely by the power of God: if he sinks, it is because he refuses influences which would raise him.

These divine influences ever prompt, and are designed to evoke, human effort. Consequently man’s earnest effort is a condition of salvation. But both this effort and its good results are the outworking of the purpose and power of God. A knowledge that our own purposes are from God, and that our efforts are armed with His power, and that our victory will gratify Him, are strong encouragement to put forth all our powers.

The exhortation in Philippians 2:12 is to Christian perseverance; and thus takes up and completes that in Philippians 1:27-30. In Philippians 2:27. Christian harmony was mentioned casually as a condition of victory, and in Philippians 2:1-2 it was made matter of direct exhortation. In Philippians 2:3-4 we were warned against selfishness, the great enemy of Christian harmony. And in Philippians 2:5-11 this warning and its implied exhortation were supported by the unique example of Christ’s self-humiliation for the good of others and His exaltation by God. This supreme example Paul brings, in Philippians 2:12-13, to bear upon his readers. But instead of bidding them to imitate Christ, or rather to cherish a disposition like His, which would be merely a repetition of Philippians 2:5, he bids them, by obedience, work out their own salvation. He thus implies that the only way of safety is the path of self-humiliation and obedience trodden by Christ: a lesson we all need to learn. Underneath an apparently abrupt transition we find, as so often with Paul, an important lesson. A similar train of thought occurs in 1 Corinthians 9:22-27, where Paul says that his own salvation depends upon his efforts to save others. Since the Eternal Son, instead of using His divine powers to obtain for Himself the good things of earth for which so many strive, allowed them to remain latent, and trod the path of self-humiliation and obedience, a path which led Him to infinite glory, thus marking it out as the way of safety, walk ye along the same path, remembering the spiritual perils which surround you, and therefore walk as carefully in my absence as in my presence. Do this remembering that in our own moral efforts God is working out His own good pleasure.

Philippians 2:14-16. After exhortations to courage, unity, unselfishness like that of Christ, and the implied warning that upon obedience depends personal salvation, Paul adds an exhortation touching the manner in which he would have these exhortations obeyed.

All things; covers and goes beyond the matters already mentioned.

Murmurings: 1 Corinthians 10:10 : talk expressing dissatisfaction, especially clandestine talk as grumbling often is. It is most easily understood here of dissatisfaction with the rough lot referred to above, such dissatisfaction being really murmuring against Him who has allotted our earthly position and surroundings.

Doubtings or reasonings: ideas closely allied, that about which we reason being naturally open to doubt while the reasoning continues. Same word in Romans 1:21; Romans 14:1; 1 Corinthians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:8; James 2:4; Luke 9:46-47. Dissatisfaction with our lot arises necessarily from want of faith in Him who with infinite wisdom and love has chosen for us our path and who will soon cover us with the splendour of heaven and fill us with eternal joy. Hence all murmurings are an outward expression of inward doubtings. And both these are utterly unworthy of children of God. Therefore, whatever duties and burdens life lays upon them, Paul bids his readers do all things without murmurings and doubtings.

Philippians 2:15-16. Aim of the foregoing exhortation: then a statement about the readers’ relation to the world: and lastly a further aim touching Paul and his work.

That ye may-become etc.: a designed result of laying aside murmurings and doubtings.

Blameless: men with whose outward aspect none can find fault.

Pure or mixtureless: men in whose inward disposition there is no foreign element. Thus blameless and pure correspond respectively to without murmurings and without doubtings.

Children of God: Romans 8:16; Romans 8:21; Romans 9:8 : a point of connection between Paul and John, John 1:12; John 11:52; 1 John 3:1-2; 1 John 3:10; 1 John 5:2. A similar phrase in Romans 8:14; Romans 8:19; Romans 9:26; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 3:26; Galatians 4:6, Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:5; Luke 20:36; Luke 6:35; Matthew 5:45. These words here, without any special occasion, reveal the deep root of this thought in the writer’s mind, and are thus a mark of authorship. They note a close relation to God.

Spotless: Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 5:27; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19; Judges 1:24; Revelation 14:5 : without blemish, or anything to cause reproach. Notice three negatives, blameless, mixtureless, spotless, emphasising absence of all evil inward or outward. That this absence of evil is represented as a result to be attained by avoiding murmurings and doubtings, suggests that these defects are the last to cling to the Christian; that he who avoids them will escape all evil. And rightly so. For absence of doubt is perfect faith: and absence of murmuring reveals profound inward peace. These words reveal also Paul’s high appreciation of the present moral character of his readers.

Generation: see under Ephesians 3:5. Crooked: opposite to straight, as in Luke 3:5. Crooked generation: Acts 2:40.

Perverse: twisted in different directions, especially of misshapen or mutilated limbs. So Matthew 17:17; Luke 9:41 : generation unbelieving and perverted. Instead of being upright, they were crooked in character and conduct: instead of being a normal growth, they were deformed cripples. Among such men and in conspicuous contrast to them, Paul desired his readers to be without blemish, thus revealing their divine lineage: children of God, spotless in the midst etc. Since the stress evidently rests on the words spotless in the midst etc., describing what sort of children of God the Philippians were to be, we cannot infer from these last words that Paul looked upon them as not yet children of God. Consequently, this verse in no way contradicts Galatians 3:26; Galatians 4:6.

Among whom etc.; keeps up the contrast between Christians and those around them.

Are seen: same word in Matthew 6:5; Matthew 6:16; Matthew 6:18 also rendered appear in Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:7; Matthew 2:13; Matthew 2:19. It is akin to the Greek word for light, and denotes in its simplest form to give light: e.g. John 1:5; John 5:35. Similarly, the form here used is found in Matthew 24:27; Revelation 18:23. But in a wider sense it is constantly used for the visible manifestation of an object, whether by its own light or by light cast upon it. The participle is the Greek original of our word phenomenon. Amid a perverse generation the spotless children of God are conspicuously seen: and, since (Ephesians 5:8) their nature is light, they shine.

Luminaries: light-givers: same word in Genesis 1:14; Genesis 1:16; Wisdom of Solomon 13:2; Sirach 43:7, for the sun and moon. In Revelation 21:11. it denotes the brilliance of a precious stone.

Luminaries in the world; keeps up the contrast noted above. Like stars at night, so shine the children of God in a dark world. The foregoing words described what Paul would have his readers be: those now before us say what they actually are. Whatever be their degree of brightness, they are seen. That they are said to be seen as luminaries in the world, is a recognition of their lofty position, and an implied exhortation of the most persuasive kind to walk worthy of it.

Word of life: the Gospel, as a channel through which God bestows eternal life, 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 15:1 : so words of eternal life in John 6:68; words of this life, Acts 5:20. The singular number here, word of life, looks upon the Gospel as one whole.

Holding forth: as if with outstretched arm: a word not uncommon for one holding to another’s lips food and drink. By proclaiming the Gospel we hold out to the lips of famishing ones the bread of eternal life, and reach out a light revealing perils which otherwise would be certain destruction; and revealing also a way of safety. Thus the Gospel is the light of life. The slight change of metaphor from the heavenly bodies shining by their own brightness to men holding out a light to guide others is easily understood. The former conception represents Christians as shining with superhuman brightness and as raised immeasurably above the world: the latter represents them as actively endeavouring to save others. These two clauses explain how the children of God are seen as luminaries in the world.

For a ground-of-exultation for-me: further purpose of the exhortation in Philippians 2:14, viz. joy to Paul himself at his readers’ Christian conduct. Similar thought in Philippians 2:2 : cp. Romans 1:13.

For the day of Christ: as in Philippians 1:6; Philippians 1:10. This third mention so early in the Epistle shows how definite in Paul’s thought was that day, and how steadily his thoughts about the future went forth to it as their goal.

That not in vain, etc: contents of this ground-of-exultation.

Run: 1 Corinthians 9:24; 1 Corinthians 9:26; Galatians 5:7.

Run in vain: Galatians 2:2, a close coincidence. I-have-run suggests the runner’s intense effort: I-have-laboured suggests the weariness of effort; same word in John 4:6, same root in 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 11:27; Galatians 6:17. Paul desires proof, in the light given by his readers to the dark world, that his own strenuous efforts and frequent weariness for them have not been in vain. Such proof will be to him a ground of exultation, i.e. of triumphant confidence in God; just as to his readers will be (Philippians 1:26) Paul’s own deliverance from prison. And this exultation will reach forward to that Day ever present to Paul’s thought when the inward spiritual life began on earth and manifested imperfectly here will receive its full and visible consummation in the light of eternity, and earthly toil receive its abundant recompense.

Philippians 2:17-18. Sudden break in Paul’s line of thought, followed by a comment upon the words foregoing. He has just spoken of his strenuous efforts for his readers: he will now speak of his possible death on their behalf.

Poured-out-as-a-libation: technical term for wine poured out upon or beside sacrifices or holy objects: same word in Numbers 28:7; Numbers 4:7; Genesis 35:14.

If I am even being poured out: an extreme possibility. Even if Paul’s hopes of release be fallacious, if his present imprisonment be a beginning of the end, if the legal process now going on be God’s way of removing him from earth, he nevertheless rejoices. Same word and tense in 2 Timothy 4:6, a very close parallel, referring to Paul’s last imprisonment previous to his execution.

Service: public and especially sacred ministration. Same word in Philippians 2:30; 2 Corinthians 9:12 : cognate word in Romans 13:6, where see note; and in Philippians 2:25.

Your faith: object of this ministration. By leading his readers to faith in Christ, Paul was performing a public and sacred work. And, since this service was rendered to God, their faith was a sacrifice presented by Paul. Similar thought in Romans 15:16, where in similar language the believing Gentiles are represented as an offering to God. Another note of common authorship. The Gentiles and their faith may be conceived as the offering and sacrifice laid upon the altar. Similar sacrificial language in Philippians 4:18. Whether the words upon the sacrifice were suggested by the heathen practice (so apparently in Iliad bk. xi. 775) of pouring wine upon the slain victim, or are merely used in the frequent and looser sense of something done in connection with or in addition to the sacrifice as in Acts 4:17; 2 Corinthians 9:6, we cannot now determine. Either thought would explain Paul’s language. The practical meaning is clear. Paul has long been labouring in discharge of a public and sacred duty laid upon him by God, to lead the Gentiles to faith in Christ. He now contemplates the possibility of the sacrifice thus presented to God being consummated by the pouring out of his own life.

I rejoice: not necessarily that Paul’s life is being sacrificed, but that he has been permitted, even at so great a cost, to lead his readers to faith.

I rejoice with you all: I share your joy, rejoice that ye are joyful, i.e. with a joy resulting from faith in Christ. This is the most common use of the compound word so rendered, and gives a good sense. It is therefore needless to render it congratulate, as if it meant a verbal expression of sympathy with another’s joy. Paul rejoices to see the result of his own self-sacrifice; and his joy is increased by the joy of those for whom he has laboured and suffered.

You all; recalls the universality so conspicuous in Philippians 1:3-4.

The same thing, rejoice: cherish the same joy that I have. Even if Paul’s imprisonment be the way to death, he still rejoices at his own success and at his readers’ joy. He now bids them to rejoice in Christ, and to rejoice that he is joyful. Thus this important section, like §§ 3 and 4, closes on the key-note of joy sounded in Philippians 1:4. Similar exhortations in Philippians 3:1; Philippians 4:1.

REVIEW. Paul’s hope of release from imprisonment is based in part on the needs of his readers. To them, after speaking about himself, he now turns. All he has to say to them is comprised in one exhortation, viz. to act in the City of God in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ. This worthy action Paul then expounds in detail. His own conflict reminds him that they also have enemies. Against these he bids them stand firmly. To this end he urges harmony and fearlessness, saying that this last will be to them a proof of their own salvation present and future, and that sufferings are a part of God’s good purpose, both for himself and for them. Paul then returns with greater earnestness to the need for unity. The prisoner at Rome pleads for the gratification to himself which his readers’ harmony will bring, and begs them to cherish the one great purpose. He warns them against selfishness and vanity, commending humility and care for the good of others. In this he quotes the supreme example of Christ, who contemplating His approaching life on earth did not look upon His divine prerogatives as a means of obtaining for Himself material good, but on entering the world laid aside the full exercise of His divine powers in order to assume human limitations and thus save men, and who on earth trod the humble path of obedience till it led Him to the grave. The force of this example Paul increases by pointing to the honour conferred by God on the Risen Christ and to the universal homage designed for Him. Armed with this example, Paul reminds his readers that upon their earnest effort to imitate Christ depends their final salvation, and encourages them to such effort by saying that their conflict is no trial of human strength, but that in them God is working out His own good purpose. These exhortations he concludes by urging them to lay aside murmuring and doubt, to aim at a spotless character, and, by holding forth to others the word of life, to become lights in a dark world. He closes the section by looking forward to the Day of Christ and the joy. He hopes then to have in the result of His present labours. So great is the joy thus in prospect that Paul’s present joy of anticipation is not dimmed even by the possibility that his present imprisonment may end in death. Nor does this possibility prevent him from rejoicing in his readers’ joy in Christ. He bids them share his joy.

Verses 19-24


CH. 2:19-24.

But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, in order that I also may be of good cheer; knowing your affairs. For I have no one of equal soul who in a genuine way will be anxious about your affairs. For they all seek their own things, not the things of Jesus Christ. But the proof of him ye know, that, as a son serves a father, with me he has done service in furtherance of the Gospel. Him then I hope to send, whenever I see the issue of my affairs, forthwith. But I trust in the Lord that I myself also will shortly come.

After general exhortations to the Christians at Philippi, Paul comes now to speak about two of his fellow-workers, each closely related to them; about Timothy in § 6, and in § 7 about Epaphroditus.

Philippians 2:19. But I hope: Paul’s actual and cheerful expectation, in contrast to the possibility (Philippians 2:17) that his death is near. For the words, that I also may know, suggest a hope that he will live till Timothy’s return. Probably also the fuller hope expressed in Philippians 2:24 was already present to Paul’s thought and moulding his words. And apparently the mission of Timothy was dependent (see Philippians 2:23) on Paul’s liberation.

Hope in the Lord Jesus: who is able to rescue him from impending death, and whose purpose, as Paul thinks, is so to do.

Also: in addition to the benefit to the Philippians from Timothy’s visit. This purpose reveals Paul’s deep interest in his readers. News about them will be encouragement to him. Close coincidence in 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:3.

Philippians 2:20-22. Reason for Paul’s wish to send Timothy, and him specially.

Of-equal-soul: see under the word soul in Philippians 1:27. Paul has no one in whom care for the Philippians kindles the same emotions as in Timothy. If he had wished to say that Timothy’s care was equal to his own, he would need to have indicated this by writing no one else. The comparison is between others and Timothy, not between Timothy and Paul.

In-a-genuine-way: as a real, born son naturally cares for his father’s interests: a cognate word in Philippians 4:3; 2 Corinthians 8:8; 1 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4.

Be-anxious-about: forethought so intense as to become painful. Same word in Philippians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 7:32-34; 1 Corinthians 12:25; Matthew 6:25; Matthew 6:27-28; Matthew 6:31; Matthew 6:34; Matthew 10:19; Luke 10:41. The contradiction with Philippians 4:6 is only apparent. There is a care for the future which implies doubt, and is therefore utterly unworthy of the Christian: and there is a forethought which may be, and often is, painful, and yet a genuine outflow of intelligent Christian love. A cognate word, and a close coincidence, are found in 2 Corinthians 11:28. The sad statement in Philippians 2:20, Philippians 2:21 justifies by a universal description of the men around Paul whom he might conceivably send to Philippi.

Their own things: same words in same sense as in Philippians 2:4 : a marked contrast to your affairs.

The things of Jesus Christ: the interests of His kingdom, which include the highest well-being of the Philippian Christians.

The reason here given implies that self-seeking unfits a man to be a reliable witness of the spiritual life of others. And correctly so. For all selfishness dims spiritual vision, and thus veils to us spiritual things good or bad. Therefore selfish men cannot bring to Paul a trustworthy report.

To this description of the men surrounding Paul, there is no exception: they all seek etc. A remarkable parallel to 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3; 1 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 6:5. As at Corinth, so at Rome, the men referred to were doubtless real though very imperfect Christians. The different language of Colossians 4:10-14 suggests that the men there mentioned were not with Paul when he wrote this Epistle: and this would account for the absence of any greetings to the Philippians from Christians at Rome: an important coincidence. Of men such as those here described, Paul would not wish to speak.

Philippians 2:22. Description of Timothy, in contrast to the men just referred to.

The proof of him: the attestation of his real worth: close parallel in 2 Corinthians 2:9.

Ye know: a coincidence with Acts 16:3; Acts 17:14 where we learn that Timothy was with Paul at the founding of the Church at Philippi; and with Acts 20:4 which says that Timothy accompanied Paul on a journey through Macedonia, in which province Philippi was.

A child: close coincidence with 1 Corinthians 4:17, where Paul when sending Timothy to Corinth speaks of him as his beloved and trustworthy child.

Father: coincidence with 1 Corinthians 4:15, where Paul claims to be the father of the Corinthian Christians.

With me he has done service, or has served: a slight change of metaphor. While saying that Timothy has served Paul as a son serves his father, Paul remembers that, from another point of view, Timothy and himself are alike children and servants of another Master. He therefore now speaks of Timothy as joining with himself in serving One whom it is needless to name.

In furtherance of the Gospel: for its spread and triumph: same words in same sense in Philippians 1:5; more fully in Philippians 2:12, for the progress of the Gospel. This was the aim of the service in which, as the Philippians knew, Timothy joined with Paul.

Philippians 2:23-24. Resumption, from Philippians 2:19, of Paul’s purpose to send Timothy, after a digression about his fitness, unique among others unfit, for this mission; followed (Philippians 2:24) by a hope of himself coming.

Him then etc.: more fully, this man then on the one hand I hope to send… on the other hand I trust in the Lord that myself etc.: a double hope cherished by Paul.

Hope to send: resuming Philippians 2:19.

My affairs: same phrase as your affairs in Philippians 2:19; and practically identical with the matters touching me in Philippians 1:12. It must refer to some great crisis which would determine Paul’s conduct. And this is most easily explained as the issue of the trial before Nero, for which Paul was waiting during his imprisonment at Rome. These words are thus a coincidence with Acts 28:30.

Forthwith: as soon as Paul’s case is decided, he will send Timothy. That he was unwilling to send away his beloved son in the Gospel before the decision, we can well understand.

Trust in the Lord: as in Philippians 1:14. Paul’s hope of coming to Philippi has its root in the Master whom he serves. A fuller exposition of this hope and of its ground is given in Philippians 1:25-26.

REVIEW. After expressing his joy about his readers, a joy which even the possibility of death does not dim, Paul now turns, in hope of prolonged life, to practical matters. He has something to say about two of his helpers. Timothy he hopes soon to send in order that he may bring back news about the Church at Philippi. On such an errand Timothy is the only one he can send: for Paul’s other associates are incapacitated, by their selfishness, for correct spiritual vision and a correct estimate of the spiritual state of others. But Timothy, as a genuine son, shares even Paul’s anxieties for the Churches; and has proved this, as the Philippians know, by service rendered to Paul, and to God in fellowship with Paul. The sending of Timothy is however for the present hindered by Paul’s uncertainty about the issue of his trial. When this is dispelled, he will at once send Timothy.

But he cherishes a purpose resting on his Master’s power and purpose that he will himself shortly come.

In this section we again meet Timothy, whom Paul has associated with himself as joint author of the Epistle, and whom we have already met in 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:19. And the features of the man are the same. As before he is Paul’s child in the faith; and is in sympathy with him so complete that he is both the eye and the lips of the Apostle, his trusted delegate to a distant Church. Again he is joint author of an apostolic letter. Yet the notice of him here is no repetition.

For Timothy’s fitness to bring Paul spiritual intelligence affords valuable insight into his character and into all Christian character. The casual description of Paul’s associates is no small proof of the historic truthfulness of his Epistles.

Verses 25-30


CH. 2:25-30.

A necessary thing, however, I counted it, to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, but your apostle and minister of my need: inasmuch as he was longing for you all, and distressed because ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick, near to death. Yet God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, lest I should come to have sorrow upon sorrow. The more eagerly therefore I have sent him, that seeing him ye may again rejoice, and I be less sorrowful. Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold in honour such men. Because by reason of the work of Christ he drew near even to death, having hazarded his life in order to supply the lack of your service for me.

From the hoped-for mission of Timothy in the near future, Paul now passes to that of Epaphroditus, who was evidently the bearer of this letter.

Philippians 2:25. Necessary, however: although Paul hopes himself soon to come. The ground of this necessity is stated in Philippians 2:26.

EPAPHRODITUS: only here and Philippians 4:18, yet evidently a tried and valued associate of Paul. We have here five details about him; three giving his relation to Paul, a fourth his relation to the readers, and the fifth a relation both to the readers and to Paul.

Brother: so 2 Corinthians 2:13, Titus my brother.

Fellow-worker: as in Romans 16:3; Romans 16:9; Philippians 4:3.

Fellow-soldier: for Paul’s work is also conflict. It suggests peril in which Epaphroditus bravely stood by Paul. But this does not necessarily imply an earlier association with Paul: for they might have been associated at Rome. If so, this title is a courteous recognition of his courage in discharging his commission. Similarly, the word fellow-worker may have been prompted by work done recently at Rome. Paul remembers that Epaphroditus is united to himself as a child of the same divine Father, as a companion in the same great work and in conflict against the same enemies.

My, your: in Greek, consecutive words, placing in conspicuous contrast the relation of Epaphroditus to the Philippians and his relation to Paul.

Apostle: as in 2 Corinthians 8:23; see under Romans 1:1 : one sent on special business. What Paul’s need was, we learn from Philippians 4:14-18, viz. his poverty in prison at Rome and the resulting hardship, a need removed by the contribution brought by Epaphroditus.

Minster: a cognate word in Philippians 2:17; Philippians 2:30; the same word in Romans 13:6; Romans 15:16. Both Paul in fostering the faith of the Philippian Christians and Epaphroditus in bringing to Paul their contribution were performing a sacred and public service, as sacred as the high-priest’s ministrations at the altar. Same thought in Philippians 4:18. Epaphroditus was thus a minister of the Philippian Christians: for he was carrying out their instructions and conveying to Paul their gift. He was also a minister of Paul’s need: for, by discharging the mission entrusted to him by the Church, he removed that need. See under Philippians 4:18.

Philippians 2:26. Ground of the necessity to send Epaphroditus.

Longing-for you all; keeps before us, as do the same words in Philippians 1:8, the universal excellence of the Christians at Philippi.

Distressed: literally homeless; a vivid description of a mind in trouble. Epaphroditus earnestly wished to return to the brethren at Philippi in order that their anxiety might be dispelled by seeing him in good health, How they heard of his sickness, and how he knew that they had heard, we do not know. But communication between Rome and the Roman colony of Philippi along the splendid Egnatian road, would be, if not regular, yet frequent.

Notice a genuine trait of excellence. Many are glad for others to know of their sickness or trouble, especially if caused by service done for them. But this good man was sorry that, through their hearing of it, his own trouble had caused trouble to others.

Philippians 2:27. Paul’s comment on the sickness and recovery of Epaphroditus.

Indeed he was sick; adds conspicuously to the report heard by the Philippians an attestation that the report was true.

Near to death: literally, as neighbour side by side of death.

God had mercy on him: suggests man’s helplessness in sickness and God’s complete control of sickness and recovery.

Sorrow upon sorrow: a note of sadness, evoked by memory of the illness of Epaphroditus and of the sorrow and apprehension thus caused to Paul, amid the prevailing joy of this Epistle. Cp. 2 Corinthians 6:10. It implies other sorrow besides that occasioned by the illness of Epaphroditus.

Mercy also upon me; reveals Paul’s felt helplessness under the new sorrow then looming before him. In this helplessness he recognises the restoration of his friend as God’s compassion towards himself. Thus one act was, in different ways, kindness to two men equally helpless. Paul’s gratitude also teaches that they who share the sorrows of others have in others’ joy a special joy of their own.

Philippians 2:28. Restatement of the bearing of Epaphroditus’ sickness upon his mission by Paul to Philippi.

More-eagerly therefore: parallel to I counted it necessary in Philippians 2:25. The comparative suggests that the illness and recovery of Epaphroditus did but increase Paul’s eagerness to send him. That in Philippians 2:29 Paul bids his readers welcome Epaphroditus, suggests that he was the bearer of this epistle. Same use of the word I-have-sent in Colossians 4:8; Ephesians 6:22; Acts 23:30. The above reasons for sending him to Philippi suggest that his going there was not matter of course, as one goes back home after discharging a mission, that he may have had other reasons for his journey to Rome, and that possibly he was not a resident at Philippi. But we learn from Philippians 2:30 how eagerly he entered into the Philippians’ purpose to help Paul.

Again rejoice: their usual joy being overshadowed by hearing of Epaphroditus’ illness, a shadow only to be removed by knowing that he is well.

Less-sorrowful: another note of sadness: cp. Philippians 2:27. Even the removal of Paul’s sorrow about Epaphroditus would leave him only less sad. This indicates other and abiding sources of sorrow.

Philippians 2:29-30. Recommendation of Epaphroditus.

Receive in the Lord: same words in Romans 16:2. Their reception of him must be an outflow of their union with the One Master of him and them.

Every joy: as in Romans 15:13; James 1:2. No sort of joy was to be lacking in their reception of Epaphroditus.

Such men: this not being a solitary case but one of a class of which all deserve like honour.

The work of Christ: cp. 1 Corinthians 15:58. What the work was, we learn from the latter part of the verse. Epaphroditus’ discharge of his mission was both a sacrifice (Philippians 4:18) to God and work done for Christ.

Even to death: same words as in Philippians 2:8. Epaphroditus trod in the steps of Christ, even to the edge of the grave.

Hazarded his life: literally gambled with his life, (Ellicott,) making very prominent the apparent recklessness of his conduct and the great risk he ran. The lack of your service for me. The public and sacred service (Philippians 2:25) rendered to Paul fell short in one point, viz. the personal presence of the Philippian Christians who would gladly have themselves ministered to his comfort. This one deficiency Epaphroditus endeavoured, even at the risk of life, to supply. Same thought and words in 1 Corinthians 16:17. He thus did the work of Christ. [Notice two genitives dependent on the word lack. The service was deficient: hence lack of service. It lacked the personal presence of the Christians at Philippi: the lack of you.]

The word death links together Philippians 2:27 and Philippians 2:30 as referring to the same deadly peril. We infer therefore that the sickness which brought Epaphroditus near to death was occasioned by his mission to Rome. He deliberately exposed his life in order to discharge this mission, and thus actually fell into serious illness. This may have been through exposure on the journey or through contagion at Rome. All details are unknown.

We have here a beautiful episode in the story of Paul. The Philippian Christians heard of his imprisonment at Rome, and wished to send him help. But for a time they had no means of doing so. At last Epaphroditus, a Christian whom they well loved, happens to be going to Rome. A

contribution is made, and is sent by Epaphroditus. Either on the journey or at Rome, in consequence of exposure needful to bring the money to Paul, and cheerfully endured, the messenger became dangerously ill. And Paul felt deeply that courageous care for him had brought a brother to the gates of death. Epaphroditus recovered. He joined Paul, apparently, not only in peril but in Christian work. But tidings of his illness reached Philippi. This, Epaphroditus knew; and knew that the tidings would fill his brethren with sorrow. He was therefore eager to return, to allay their fears by showing himself well in their midst. This eagerness to return Paul appreciated, and resolved to use his return as an opportunity of sending to his beloved friends at Philippi the letter before us. The joyful reception of Epaphroditus at Philippi, with this precious letter from the imprisoned Apostle, is veiled from our view in the unwritten past.

Bibliographical Information
Beet, Joseph. "Commentary on Philippians 2". Beet's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jbc/philippians-2.html. 1877-90.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile