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Bible Commentaries
Philippians 4

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verse 1

(2). The destiny of false Christians in contrast with that of true believers

( Philippians 3:17 to Philippians 4:1)

17Brethren, be followers together of me [become imitators of me] and mark them 18who walk so as ye have us for an ensample. For many walk, of whom I (have) told you often, and [but] now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; 19whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. 820For our conversation [citizenship 21] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the [a] Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall [will] change [transform] our vile body [the body of our humiliation], that it may be fashioned like9 unto his glorious body [the body of his glory], according to the working whereby he is able even [also] to subdue all Philippians 4:1 things unto himself.10 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.


Philippians 3:17. Brethren, become imitators of me, συμμιμηταί μου γίνεσθε, ἀδελφοί. 1 Corinthians 4:16 : μιμηταί μου γίνεσθε. They are to look to the Apostle, to follow him, with him to act on the principle of following the light which they have (τῷ αὐτῷ στοιχεῖν, Philippians 3:16). This result is not achieved at once, but by degrees (hence γίνεσθε, ‘become’). The συν refers to the Apostle’s associates, as is evident from what immediately follows (Theophylact: συγκολλᾷ αὐτοὺς τοῖς καλῶς περιπατοῦσιν). [The “associates” are those whom the Apostle would have the Philippians to imitate, together with himself (τύπον ἡμᾶς); and the import of συν more naturally is=‘be ye all a company of imitators’ (Ellicott).—H]. Hence it is not: una cum Paulo (Bengel), omnes uno consensu et una mente (Calvin), or superfluous (Heinrichs). Brethren, ἀδελφοί, indicates the fervor of the appeal.—And mark them who walk so, (καὶ σκοπεῖτε τοὺς οὕτως περιπατοῦντες) associates others with Paul, who are models for the church, since they walk as he does.—As ye have us for an ensample (καθὼς ἐχετε τύπον ἡμᾶς) embraces Paul and those who walk like him. Ἡμᾶς is thus neither Paul alone, especially as it stands after μου, while besides, we should have in that case ἐχουσιν, instead of ἔχετε, nor Paul and Timothy (Schenkel), nor Paul and all approved Christians (Matthies), nor ut ego meique socii (Van Hengel). The singular (τύπον) is found not only where one is spoken of (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7), but also in regard to a plurality (1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9). In 1 Peter 5:3 τύποι occurs where several are meant. The singular here indicates that they all present the same image, belong to the same category. In καθώς lies unquestionably an argumentative force=‘in the measure’ (Meyer).

Philippians 3:18. The Apostle confirms his exhortation by two contrasts (Philippians 3:18-21).—For many walk (πολλοὶ γὰρ περιπατοῦσιν), since there are many wicked persons who strive to lead others astray, consider us, not them. [They should heed his expostulations the more because there were so many (πολλοί) whom they could not safely imitate. “The persons here meant are not the Judaizing teachers, but the anti-Roman reactionists. This view is borne out by the parallel expression, Romans 16:18 : τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν Χριστῳ οὐ δουλευουσιν�, where the same persons seem to be intended; for they are described as creating divisions and offences (Romans 3:17), as holding plausible language (Romans 3:18), as professing to be wise beyond others (Romans 3:19), and yet not innocent in their wisdom: this last reproach being implied in the words θέλω δὲ ἡμᾶς σοφοὺς εἶναι εἰς τὸ�, ἀκεραίους δὲ εἰς τὸ κακόν. They appear therefore to belong to the same party to which the passages Romans 6:1-23; Romans 14:1 to Romans 15:6, of that epistle are chiefly addressed. For the profession of “wisdom” in these faithless disciples of St. Paul, see 1 Corinthians 1:17 sqq.; 1 Corinthians 4:18 sqq.; 1 Corinthians 8:1 sqq.; 1 Corinthians 10:15” (Lightfoot). See the remarks on Philippians 3:18.—H]. Περιπατεῖν is not neutral here as in 1 Peter 5:8, circulantur (Heinrichs), ‘go about’ (Meyer). It could not stand absolutely after οὕτως περιπατοῦντες. Paul wishes to describe more closely the moral walk of those in question, but he is led away from the adverbial construction by the first relative clause, and proceeds in relative clauses to speak of the end, motive, and character of this walk. Hence neither κακῶς (Œcumen.) nor longe aliter (Grotius), is to be supplied, nor is the concluding limitation (οἱ τὰ ἐπίγεια φρονοῦντες) to be joined with the verb to relieve the difficulty (Calvin); nor are we to assume that since περιπατοῦσιν in itself needs no qualifying term, the sentence proceeds with entire correctness with the subjoined limitations of the subject (Meyer). Those, whose example the Philippians should shun (πολλοί) are according to the entire description members of the church, not false teachers, as in Philippians 3:2; at the most they are those who, led astray by such teachers, have become in turn corrupters of others.—Of whom I told you often, but now tell you even weeping, (οὓς πολλάκις ἕλεγον ὑμῖν, νῦν δὲ καὶ κλαίων λέγω.) [The imperf. shows the habit=“was accustomed to speak of.” This is an instance of Paul’s repeating in his letter what he had said in person when he was among the Philippians. See the remarks on Philippians 3:1. The Apostle in this passage, refers evidently to his former warnings, when he was at Philippi.—H]. To understand the remark of passages in the letter itself (Philippians 3:2; Philippians 1:15), is untenable; for these here are different persons from those referred to in the passages mentioned. To πολλοί corresponds πολλάκις. Why he now weeping repeats that which he had formerly said without tears, is well explained by Chrysostom, ὅτι ἐπέτεινε τὸ κακόν. [The evil in the meantime had become more serious.—H]. He writes with deeper emotion, with streaming eyes.—That they are the enemies of the cross of Christ (τοὺς ἐχθροὺς τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῦ Χριστοῦ) we are to join with οὓς έλεγον. [On this construction see Winer’s Gram., p. 530.—H]. Paul thus designates those to whom the cross is an offence or foolishness; formerly they may have been Jews or heathen, but now they are Christians, who wish to know nothing of the “fellowship of Christ’s sufferings,” (κοινωνία τῶν παθημάτων Χριστοῦ, Philippians 3:10), to whom the ‘sufferings of Christ’ (παθήματα τοῦ Χριστοῦ, 2 Corinthians 1:5) are offensive, who are not willing to suffer with Him, (συμπάσχειν, Romans 8:17), nor allow the world to be crucified to them and themselves to the world (Galatians 6:14), nor crucify their flesh together with its lusts and desires (Galatians 5:24). The Apostle is speaking of immorality of life, ethical errors, while Philippians 3:19 (ω̇͂ν ὁ θεὀς ἡ κοιλία) indicates an Epicurean, careless life (ἐν�, Chrysostom). No reference is made to their doctrine of the cross (Theodoret); or even to theoretical errors, or intellectual misconceptions. The reference is not to those who are not Christians (Rilliet) or hostes evangelii (Calvin).

Philippians 3:19. Whose end is destruction (ω̇͂ν τὸ τέλος�) is first mentioned. Hoc ponitur ante alia, quo majore cum horrore hsæ legantur; in fine videbitur. Finis, ad quem cujusvis rationes tendunt, ostendit sane, quæ sit ejus conditio (Bengel). Ἀπωλεία, the opposite of σωτηρία (Philippians 1:26) is passive. Bengel incorrectly regards salvator as the equivalent term, and Heinrichs takes the meaning to be: their end is to destroy Christianity. The end is described by τὸ τέλος (2 Corinthians 11:12-15) as their own peculiar, appointed end.—Whose God is their belly, (ω̇͂ν ὁ θεὸς ἡ κοιλία). The belly is termed their God, as being their highest concern, the master whom they serve (Romans 16:18). Κοιλία from κοῖλος, cavus, is venter (Matthew 15:17; Mark 7:19; Luke 15:16) uterus (Luke 1:41; Luke 1:44; Luke 2:21; John 3:4; Matthew 19:12), and also intirma hominis (John 7:38). It embraces here the organs of sensual desire and of gluttony, not excluding licentiousness, nor referring exclusively to it: so that this passage comprehends more than 1 Corinthians 15:32.—And whose glory is in their shame (καὶ ἡ δόξα ἐν τῇ αἰσχύνῃ αὐτῶν). Καί takes the place of ω̇͂ν. Ἡ δόξα signifies the honor and glory which belong peculiarly to them; that which they conceive to be glory, but which is actually and truly their shame, and will in the end prove to be such. Bengel well remarks: Deus et gloria ponuntur ut parallela. Sic venter et pudor sunt affinia. Id colunt isti, cujus ipsos maxime pudere debebat et suo tempore pudebit misere. But there is no reference to circumcision, the genitals (Bengel, et al.) It is not intimated that they have perverted Christian truth to palliate their moral laxity (Wiesinger).—Who mind earthly things. The individualizing article οἱ introduces the comprehensive characteristic: τὰ ἐπίγεια φρονοῦντες. The nominative is the logical subject (Meyer), and it is not vocative (Winer’s Gram., p. 183).

Philippians 3:20. For our citizenship is in heaven (ἡμῶν γὰρ τὸ πολίτευμα ἐν οὐρανοῖς ὑπόρχει). The confirmatory sentence (γάρ) points back like Philippians 3:18-19, to Philippians 3:17, and states why the Philippians should look to Paul and to those who walk as he does (ἡμῶν as in Philippians 3:17 ἡμᾶς). [Their souls are mundane and grovelling. They have no fellowship with us; for we are citizens of a heavenly commonwealth. The emphatic position of ἡμῶν contrasts the false adherents of St. Paul with the true (Lightfoot). On the state of the text see the notes.—H.] Πολίτευμα, found only here, in the N. T., denotes according to its termination and its derivation (from πολιτεύεσθαι Philippians 1:27) citizenship, commonwealth, the rank and rights of a citizen. Comp. πολιτείαν ταύτην ἐκτησάμην, Acts 22:28. True Christians have nothing to do with an earthly possession and existence simply, but are citizens of the heavenly (ἐν οὐρανοῖς) Jerusalem (Galatians 4:26; Romans 5:2; Romans 8:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Hebrews 12:22-23) even here. We are not to join ὑπάρχει with ἐν οὐρανοῖς, as if the citizenship did not exist here at all, but to regard ἐν οὐρανοῖς as descriptive of the character of the πολίτευμα rather than the place. Hence this sentence does not confirm the conclusion of Philippians 3:19 (Winer’s Gram. p. 453, Meyer, et al.); for it is not pertinent to say ‘for this very reason I warn you against them,’ since he does not warn but exhorts them. It does not confirm καθὼς ἔχετε τύπον ἡμᾶς (Wiesinger), but συμμιμηταί μου γίνεσθε καὶ σκοπεῖτε τοὺς οὕτως περιπατοῦντες (Philippians 3:17). Nor does it present the higher glory of the true Christian as the cause of his deep sorrow over the misconduct of the enemies of the cross (Schenkel), since καὶ κλαίων is too subordinate a remark. Again, πολίτευμα is not άναστροφή, walk, (Luther) nor does it refer to the Messiah’s kingdom which has not yet appeared (Meyer), for it exists already even upon earth, and only waits for its completion.—From whence also we look for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ἐξ οὗ, an adverbial expression, equivalent to unde (Vulg., Winer’s Gram., p. 141 sq.) refers to ἐν οὐρανοῖς, not to πολίτευμα (Bengel); but is not equivalent to ex quo (Erasmus), nor even to ἐκ ω̇͂ν (Matthies). Καί before σωτῆρα indicates that He is looked for (άπεκδεχόμεθα, an awaiting, ad finem usque, perseveranter exspectare, Romans 8:19; Romans 8:23; Romans 8:25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Galatians 5:5) not merely as κύριος in their πολίτευμα, in contrast with the θεός of the enemies of the cross, but also as a Saviour, in contrast with their ‘destruction’ (ἀπώλεια). Comp. Luke 18:7-8; Luke 21:28. Καί points neither to a relation corresponding to what has been said of their citizenship (Meyer), nor to ‘conduct’ (Wiesinger), which does not agree with ἀπεκδεχόμεθα.

Philippians 3:21. Who will transform the body of our humiliation (ὃς μετασχηματίσει τὸ σῶμα τῆς τατεινώσεως ἡμῶν) explains how the Lord will manifest Himself as σωτήρ. The reference is to a future transformation which relates to the σχῆμα or fashion of the body (Philippians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 11:13-14; 1 Corinthians 4:6); and not to its identity. Hence Paul does not speak of the body alone as the object of the change (τὸ σῶμα) but adds the genitive of characterization (Winer’s Gram., p. 187 sq.), namely, τῆς ταπεινώσεως, as in Colossians 1:22 : σῶμα τῆς σαρκός; Romans 6:8; τῆς ἁμαρτίας; Romans 7:24; τοῦ θανάτου τούτου. Chrysostom well observes: πολλὰ πάσχει νῦν τὸ σῶμα, δεσμεῖται, μαστίζεται, μνρία πάσχει δεινά. But we must also include here the carnal, the sinful in man’s nature; for it is that especially which makes up the τατείνωσις ἡμῶν. Not merely the body, but we ourselves (note the ἡμῶν) suffer these things, which constitute this humiliation, that cleaves to the body. The object or result of the transformation is now stated,—That it may be fashioned like unto the body of his glory, σύμμορφον τῷ σώματι τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ. The breviloquence (or adj., instead of a sentence) is like 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Matthew 12:13. See Winer’s Gram., p. 624 sq. Out of this arose the variation noted in the critical remarks. The body is now no longer σῶμα τῆς ταπεινώσεως, but has become σῶμα τῆς δόξης, and as that was ours (ἡμῶν) so this is his (αὐτοῦ). The body comes forth from our present humiliation, and becomes a participant in the glory of Him who has transformed it. This is to be effected by the change which makes it like, conformed to, the body of His glory; hence through a transformation into His image (Romans 8:29), which begins even here (2 Corinthians 3:18 : μεταμορφούμεθα). [The body is that which exhibits His glory not merely because He has it in His glorified state, but because His glory in that state so pre-eminently appears in the spiritual body with which He is there clothed, and which stands forth as the type of the spiritual body into which every one of His true followers will be transformed.—H.] Hölemann joins ἡμῶν with σῶμα, αὐτοῦ with σώματι. Hammond explains σῶμα as the church; Luther supposes only the weakness and frailty of the body to be meant, Meyer, the change which first begins at the time of Christ’s second advent. All of these views are more or less faulty. He has the power necessary to produce such a transformation.—According to the working whereby he is able also to subdue all things unto himself. On κατἀ τὴν ἐνέργειαν, see Ephesians 1:19, where τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἴσχυος αὐτοῦ is added, while here we have τοῦ δύνασθαι αὐτὸν καὶ ὑποτάξαι αὐτῷ τὰ πάντα. Since all things are and must be subject to Him, He can also (καί) transform the (body μετασχηματίζειν); for the καί connects that verb with ὑποτάξαι. It is an argumentum a majori (ὑποτάξαι αὐτῳ τὰ πάντα) ad minus (μετασχηματίζειν). Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:25-28; 1 Corinthians 15:56-57. It is incorrect for Hölemann to connect δίνασθαι and ὑποτάξαι by καί, as if Paul would say that He is able to do all things and subject all things to Himself. [Τὰ πάντα is stronger with the article: not only this, but all the things together which require infinite power (comp. Philippians 3:8).—H.]

Philippians 4:1. Therefore (ὥστε) introduces the conclusion, as in Philippians 2:12. The section extends from Philippians 3:1 to Philippians 4:1, not merely from Philippians 3:17 to Philippians 3:21 (Meyer); for στήκετε ἐν κυρίῳ points back to χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ. [So extended a reference of ὥστε is uncommon and not necessary here. In view of the glorious destiny which awaits those whose citizenship is above, they should persevere and not frustrate such a hope (Philippians 4:20-21). Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:58.—H.]—My brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, is an expression of his love and recognition of them. Ἀδελφοί μου indicates the relation of fellow-believers with respect to the personal fellowship, which not only renders the Philippians an object of special love (ἀγαπητοί), but also of earnest longing (καί ἐπιπόθητοι; comp. Philippians 1:8). [The Apostle’s separation from them was so painful because his affection for them was so strong.—H.] Χαρά marks the personal, στέφανός μου the official relation: they are the joy of his heart and the honor of his office (Schenkel). The first expression refers to the present, the second reaches onward into the future. [The στέφανος among the Greeks was the emblem of victory, and not of regal power or dignity, which was denoted by διάδημα. On this distinction see Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, vol. i. p. 597 (Amer. ed.) Hence “his converts will be his wreath of victory;” for it will appear that he “did not run in vain,” (Philippians 2:26), and he will receive the successful athlete’s reward. Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:25 (Lightfoot).—H.]—So stand fast in the Lord (οὕτως στήκετε ἐν κυριῳ); i.e., as I and those who walk with me stand (Philippians 3:17) and as I have exhorted you (Philippians 3:1 sq.) Comp. Philippians 1:27. Bengel, incorrectly, ita, ut statis, state [which disagrees with Philippians 2:17.—H.].—Beloved (ἀγαπητοί) thus repeated shows his ardent affection for them.


1. The instinct of imitation gives force to the power of example; and the Apostle here does not present merely his own apostolic character, but joins with himself those who walk with him.—Sympathy and community of feeling render specially effective an example which embodies ethical views and principles. Hence precisely in the section where the citizenship of Christians in heaven is brought forward, this appeal is specially appropriate. Manifold as may be the forms of life in individuals, they are yet features of one image; they harmonize with each other, are not discordant; the many reflect one type (τυπός). The power and frequency of evil example (1 Corinthians 15:33) make it the more necessary to regard the Apostle’s exhortation.

2. Enmity to the cross of Christ, which takes offence at Christ’s form as a sufferer, and His path of suffering wherein His followers ought to walk, has its ground not exclusively indeed, but to a great extent, in a sensual character, subject to the lust of the world, by which many are governed even in the church. From an occasional, easy, and subtle service of the senses it may come to be uninterrupted and overbearing. Gentleness towards the natural man is cruelty towards the spiritual. Forbearance towards sensual desire ends in the loss of eternal glory, and that which passes current under the forms of conventional propriety, is in truth often a shame and disgrace.
3. The stand-point in the Christian life which fixes the eye on the future, the familiarity with God which maintains a close connection with the church, militant on earth but triumphant in heaven, and does not suffer the child of God to forget his eternal inheritance, affords the surest protection against evil example, and gives to good example its strongest attractive power.
4. [Neander:—The earthly mind Paul would say (Philippians 4:19-21) must be far from us, who are Christians; ‘for our conversation,’ (more correctly ‘citizenship’) is in heaven.’ His meaning is, that Christians, as to their life, their walk, belong even now to heaven; in the whole direction of their life existing there already.—This he deduces from their relation to Christ, their fellowship with Him to whom they are inseparably united, so that where He is there are they also. While here, they are sustained by the consciousness that Christ now lives in heaven, manifested to believers, though hidden from the world. Thither is their gaze directed, as their longings rise towards a Saviour, who will come again from thence to make them wholly like Himself, to fashion them wholly after His own glorious pattern, to transform them wholly into the heavenly. Hence Paul says: “From whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change the body of our humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” There is not presented here a resurrection, as a restoration merely of the same earthly body in the same earthly form; but, on the contrary, a glorious transformation, proceeding from the divine, the all-subduing power of Christ; so that believers, free from all the defects of the earthly existence, released from all its barriers, may reflect the full image of the heavenly Christ in their whole glorified personality, in the soul pervaded by the divine life and its now perfectly assimilated glorified organ.—H.]

5. [Chr. Wordsworth:—Christ, at His own transfiguration, gave a pledge and glimpse of the future glorious transformation of the risen body, and thus prepared the apostles to suffer with Him on earth, in order that they may be glorified forever with Him, in body and soul, in heaven (N. T. Commentary, vol. 2. p. 357).—H.]


In lack of faith is found the cause of lack of joy.—There is no true renewal without humbly going to the cross of Christ. The bodies of many who profess to be renewed, are temples of the god of the belly and of his servants to whom Christ’s cross is so entirely an offence, that they are even its enemies.—He who does not see the Easter sun rising behind the cross on Golgotha is no true Christian, does not cling fast to the good example of the apostles, and the faithful in the church, and becomes himself an evil example which may frighten away and even destroy others.

Starke:—Not all who point out the way to heaven will themselves be received into it. Many helped to build the ark of Noah who did not enter it.—Thou rejoicest when thou canst lay off an old garment and put on a new one: why art thou troubled because thy body shall experience corruption? By this means it lays aside not only what is worthless but attains to a glorious transformation (Philippians 3:21).

Rieger:—Our house, home, city, and fatherland where we belong, the seeking and hoping for which govern all our thoughts, are not mere fancies to be grasped only by the imagination, but exist in heaven; God has prepared them there; and faith in His word affords us a complete representation of them.

Gerlach:—Every one who is not redeemed by Christ’s cross from sin and from the present evil world, serves his flesh and minds earthly things, though his imagination take ever so exalted flights, though he be a philosopher, or a slave to grovelling lusts.—No Christian can find perfect rest until even the last trace of sin is overcome and destroyed: hence his life upon earth is a life of waiting and longing.

Schleiermacher:—If a man still values and seeks sensual good he is then an enemy of the cross of Christ. If he has earthly honor in view, and desires to distinguish himself before the world, he is then an enemy of the shame of Christ which accompanied His sufferings.—Eternal life is not to be thought of apart from a man’s reconciliation with himself and with Christ, who has left peace as His most beautiful legacy to His followers.

Heubner:—They who will not recognize the crucified Redeemer as their only righteousness, who are proud of their legal virtue, are as much enemies of the cross of Christ as those who from a fleshly mind will not follow the crucified Redeemer, nor crucify their flesh together with its lusts and desires.—Pride and the lust of the world can make a man an enemy of the cross of Christ.—The holiest thing may become an offence to a corrupt heart, and excite violent opposition.—Even evil examples must be salutary to the Christian, because they deter him from evil: they present it to him in all its fearfulness and render him anxious for himself.—The man who opposes the cross of Christ, labors for his own ruin.—That which is honorable with God, the worldly man does not understand at all.—The present body disturbs the heavenly life; and hence this body is to be glorified. The future body will promote, facilitate the spiritual life. We are to attain to a complete likeness to Christ, even the body is to become like His; but as the condition of this the soul here must first resemble His soul. The power of Christ extends to the new creation of our bodies and of the world.—-Though difficult, the Christian may guard himself against the destructive influence of evil examples. 1) He has no lack of good examples around him; 2) He sees the fearfulness of evil examples; 3) He has a heavenly calling.—There is a Christian use of bad examples as well as good.

Passavant:—This is the three-fold divine working of the one Redeemer; He has redeemed His people from the curse of sin through His blood; He redeems them more and more by His Holy Spirit from the power of sin, and He will finally redeem them from all misery and all oppression in this evil, godless world, and bring them to His heavenly kingdom.

[Neander:—Each one is required to apply to his own life the measure of spiritual discernment bestowed upon him (Philippians 3:16).—All progressive revelation of the Spirit, all new light of which man is made partaker, presupposes a faithful application of what has previously been given (Philippians 3:15).—If each one were careful to put in practice with strict fidelity his own measure of Christian knowledge, without contending with others about matters wherein they differ from himself, how many schisms might have been avoided in the church, how many differences might for its interest have been, overcome and adjusted!—H.]


Philippians 3:20; Philippians 3:20. [The γάρ here has the support of all the oldest manuscripts, though the passage is cited by many early writers, as if δέ was the connective.—H].

Philippians 3:21; Philippians 3:21. Before σύμμορφον some codices insert εἰς τὸ γενέσθαι αὐτό manifestly an interpretation.

[10]Ibid. א A B et al. have αὐτῷ. A few copies read ἑαυτῷ [adopted in the received text.—H].

Verses 2-3


Concluding exhortations designed to secure co-operation between the philippians and the Apostle.

Philippians 4:2-20.

(1). Exhortation to unity addressed to individuals

Philippians 4:2-3.

2I beseech Euodias [Euodia]1, and [I] beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same 3mind in the Lord. (And) [Yea]2 I entreat thee also, true yoke fellow, help those [these] women,3 who labored [strove] with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other4 [others] my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life.


Philippians 4:2. I beseech Euodia, and I beseech Syntyche, Ἐὐοδίαν παρακαλῶ καὶ Συντύχην παρακαλῶ. From the general exhortation (Philippians 4:1) the Apostle passes to one addressed to individuals. The relation of the persons being known to the readers, it was unnecessary to describe it. The repeated παρακαλῶ, I exhort (not so correctly beseech) indicates that each of them needed the admonition; they were both in fault. The repetition is not merely ad vehementiam affectus significandam (Erasmus). The names, common also elsewhere, belong to women, as αὐταῖς (Philippians 4:3) demands; but the persons are otherwise unknown. Grotius incorrectly regards both as men. Hammond regards only the second as a man, and Bauer both as parties. Schwegler regards the first as the Jewish party, the second as the Gentile Christian party; but they did not labor with Paul (συνήθλησάν μοι). The Apostle exhorts:—That they be of the same mind in the Lord (τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν ἐν κυρίῳ). See Philippians 2:2. On this agreement the Apostle lays special stress; it belongs to the στήκετε ἐν κυρίῳ. They must in some way have been alienated, but on what occasion, in what cause or manner, is not stated or hinted. Hence it cannot be said that, as the expression is borrowed from Philippians 2:2, the motives for this estrangement must have corresponded to those mentioned in Philippians 2:3 (Wiesinger, De Wette). With as little reason can it be said that they are deaconesses. [Those who hold that such an order existed in the primitive church generally think that these women belonged to it, and that their variance was the more unworthy on that account.—H.]

Philippians 4:3. Yea I entreat thee also, true yoke fellow. Ναί, very common as particula offirmantis, but as particula obsecrantis, only elsewhere in Revelation 22:20. It indicates the seriousness of the affair to the Apostle that he turns with his entreaties (ἐρωτῶ), to still another (καί σε) besides the women. It is not clear who it is that he invokes in γνήσιε σύζυγε. The substantive, in the N. T. found only here, is plain from its opposite, ἑτεροζυγεῖν (2 Corinthians 6:14), as also from the use of ζυγός (figuratively: Matthew 9:29-30; Acts 15:10; Galatians 5:1; literally, 1 Timothy 6:1; Revelation 6:5); hence partner, associate, and the relation of this person to Paul is described as very close, as that of one who draws at the same yoke with himself. It is a stricter connection than that of συνεργός. The epithet γνήσιε describes the nature and character of this person (Philippians 2:20) as genuine, pure, true. Hence it cannot appear strange that Paul did not address him by name: every one is supposed to know him. It is incorrect to regard σύζυγε as a name (Chrysostom, Meyer, distinctly; Wiesinger with hesitation), as a designation of Epaphroditus (Grotius), or of Timothy (Estius), for these could not have been addressed as in Philippi; or arbitrarily of Silas (Bengel), of the husband of one of two women (the Greek interpreters)‚ or of Paul’s wife (Clemens Alex., Erasmus, et al.) contrary to the history (1 Corinthians 7:8) and against the grammar (masculine form). [The noun may be masculine or feminine, but the adj. has properly three terminations, and must be masculine here. Other conjectures, on the supposition that an anonymous person is meant are, that it may have been Luke who appears to have been absent from Rome when the Epistle was written (see on Philippians 1:1) or Epaphroditus (Lightfoot) at the side of Paul as he wrote, and whom he addressed (παρακαλῶ) at the moment.—H.] Laurent’s view (Neutest. Studien, pp. 134–137) is worthy of notice. In reply to the assertion that the name Syzygus does not occur, he remarks that names are not objects of literature, but products of social or civil life, as for example, Onesimus, Tryphena, and Tryphosa (Romans 16:12). He explains the passage thus: “Thou, who, a genuine Syzygus, hast already by thy birth (γνήσιε) and thy name been called to be a yoke fellow and helper of all laborers in the vineyard of the Lord, lay hold now also of the work together with these two sisters, that they through thy aid may carry it forward with one spirit, not as heretofore, in discord! For Paul does not mean to blame them (as in Philippians 2:20) but to praise them, and hence would not imply that he has only one γνήσιον σύζυγον in Philippi.” Like Εὐοδία (way of faith), Syntyche and Syzygus appear to him to have been names received after baptism, as in the case of others, whose names are more familiar to us. [The best view after all seems to be that of Meyer, Laurent, and others, that Syzygus or Synzygus (σύνζυγος) is a proper name, borne by one who had been associated with Paul in Christian labors, who was at Philippi when the Apostle wrote the letter, and was well known there as deserving the encomium which this appeal to him implies. Paul nowhere uses this word (σύζυγος) of any one of his official associates, being used in fact nowhere else in the N. T.; it is found here in the midst of other proper names (Philippians 4:2-3); and the attributive γνήσιε corresponds finely and significantly to the appellative sense of such a name. That such an alliteration is not foreign to Paul’s manner, see Philem., Philippians 4:10-11. The name, it is true, does not appear anywhere else; but many other names also are found only in single instances, and certainly many names to us must have been in use among the ancients which have not been transmitted at all. Paul himself repeatedly mentions persons in his epistles who are named only once, and a catalogue of names might be made out from the Acts of the Apostles, of those whose whole history for us lies in a single passage. See Meyer’s Brief an die Philipper on Philippians 4:3.—H.]—Help these women (συλλαμβάνου αὐταῖς) presents the object of the request. The verb (Luke 5:1) signifies ‘to take hold vigorously with,’ ‘to assist one,’ i.e., hero to re-establish harmony, it is not ut habeant, unde se suosque sustentent (Grotius), against the context.—Who strove with me in the gospel, states the motive for helping these women in the work of reconciliation. Hence he adds αἴτινες=ut quæ (see Ephesians 1:23). Ἐν εὐαγγελίῳ marks the sphere, as in 1 Thessalonians 3:2, in which they had labored with him (συνήθλησάν μοι). The verb points back to the beginning of Christianity at Philippi, when the women embraced it (Acts 16:13), and had exerted themselves to advance it. They had contended at Paul’s side for the gospel, and ought not now to strive against one another, against Christianity and against Paul; they are so useful and deserving in other respects, they should be right also in their relation to each other.—With Clement also, and with my other fellow-laborers (μετὰ καὶ Κλήμεντος καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν συνεργῶν μου), brings to view the fact that various persons at Philippi at that time were harmoniously engaged in behalf of the gospel, men, as Clement and others, as well as (καί-καί) women associated with them. Paul thus exalts the merits of Syntyche and Euodia who labored in such company. Clement was a Philippian; which is evident, but nothing; further, not even that he was a teacher (Meyer). We have no right to suppose him to have been. Clemens Romanus (Catholics), or Flavius Clemens, Domitian’s patruelis (Baur). He does not of course mention the λοιποὶ συνεργοί by name, because it is superfluous, as in the case, of the γνήσιος σύζυγος. [The closer proximity and the nature of the thought connect μετα συνεργῶν μου with συνήθλησαν, rather than with συλλαμβάνου αὐταῖς. The position and influence of the women as co-partners in Christian service with Paul and his associates rendered the spectacle and effects of such strife the more deplorable, and thus enforced the appeal (συλλαμβάνου) to strive the more earnestly to promote harmony between them.—H.]. In his joy on their account he adds:—Whose names are in the book of life, ὦν ὀνόματα ἐν βίβλῳ ζωῆς. [We are to refer ω̇͂ν ζωῆς to τῶν λοιπῶν apart from Clement, because the Apostle having named the latter would recognize the others though unnamed by him, as yet having their names written in heaven (Meyer, Ellicott and others). This expression does not of itself decide whether these other fellow-laborers were living: or dead, but certainly it is altogether improbable that Clement was the only one of them who still remained.—H.] The figurative expression was suggested perhaps by Philippians 3:20, for the registers of the citizens of Israel, out of which one’s name was erased on his decease prepared the way for the expression םֶכֶּר חַיִּים (Exodus 32:32; Isaiah 4:3; Ezekiel 13:9; Psalms 69:29; Daniel 12:1) which was adopted in the N. T. (Luke 10:20; Acts 3:5; Acts 13:8; Acts 17:8; Acts 20:15) in order to mark the certainty of the eternal inheritance, the blessedness which is to be reached by faithful striving. [It is clear from the expression “blotting out of the book,” (Revelation 3:5) that the image suggested no idea of absolute predestination. For the use of the phrase in Rabbinical writers see Wetstein here (Lightfoot).—H.] Ἐστί is to be supplied, not the optative (Bengel). It is the joyful certainty, not a wish that Paul has in mind here.


1.The servant of the word of God ought not only to exhort the whole church from the pulpit, but also with a special care for souls to warn individuals.
2. The pastor in his oversight of souls should not stand alone, but be aided by others properly qualified. The lay-element should be cultivated for the service of the church.
3. Goodness at the beginning does not protect one from a fall afterward, nor courageous striving for the gospel from ill-natured arrogance towards others, nor the vanquishing of outward foes from weak indulgence towards one’s self.
4. The unity of the church as a body must extend into the narrowest circle of neighborhood and home.
5. He who will exhort, incite others, must generously recognize what is praiseworthy, and attach himself to the good which already exists.
6. Women are to be highly esteemed in the church for their services; but they should act with men (μετά), and not work independently.


Starke:—There are peace-disturbers enough, but not so many peace-makers. To the work then! and help check those who love contention, and thus make peace!—Even women are to help in extending the kingdom of God with their prayers, gifts, good counsel, etc., and to contend fearlessly for the gospel.

Rieger:—A tried, approved mediator can often by the grace of God adjust many difficulties.

Schleiermacher:—Let us strive with all our powers to extend Christian fellowship, and yet not weaken it.

Heubner:—To have a genuine collengue is not a privilege granted to every one (Philippians 4:3).


Philippians 4:1; Philippians 4:1. [On this change of the name see notes below. The Geneva version has the feminine form of the name instead of the masculine. Stephens’ text has Εὐωδίαν, which means ‘fragrance;’ but the correct reading is Εὐοδίαν, ‘good way,’ according to all the uncial manuscripts.—H.]

Philippians 4:2; Philippians 4:2. [The common text has καί, but ναί is undoubtedly the correct reading—H.]

[3]Ibid. [Our English version misleads the reader here. In the Greek the first pronoun (αὐταῖς, ‘them’), refers to Euodia and Syntiche, and the second (αἵτινες=‘since they’) assign them to the class of co-laborers with Paul whose toil and conflicts (συνῆθλησαν) they had shared. The translation therefore might be: ‘help them, since they labored,’ etc.—H.]

[4]Ibid. [For this use of ‘other’ (=others) see the note on Philippians 2:3. Instead of the appositional form it may be rendered: ‘the rest of my co-laborers.’—H.]

Verses 4-7

(2) General exhortation to Christian joy

( Philippians 4:4-7).

4,5Rejoice in the Lord always: (and)5 again I [will] say, rejoice. Let your moderation 6[gentleness] be known to all men: The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request [requests] be known unto [before] God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth [every] understanding, shall keep [guard] your hearts and [your] minds through [in] Christ Jesus.


Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord always (χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε) takes up in connection with Philippians 4:3 (ὧν ὀνόματα ἐν βίβλῳ ζωῆς) the theme of the epistle. See Philippians 3:1. A tone of special emphasis rests on “always” (πάντοτε): there lies the difficulty and the glory of rejoicing in the Lord.—Again I will say, rejoice (πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε) repeats the command with emphasis.—Bengel incorrectly joins πάντοτε with πάλιν.—[The verb (ἐρῶ) is future, not present, as in the A. V. This reiterated exhortation is the more remarkable when we recollect that Paul as he wrote or dictated the letter had his right arm chained to the arm of a Roman soldier, or at all events was a prisoner under the eye of a sentinel who never left him (see Acts 28:20).—H.]

Philippians 4:5. Let your forbearance be known to all men, though without any external notation, connects itself logically with χαίρετε, since joy has of itself a tendency to make us mild and gentle: gaudium in domino parit veram æquitatem erga proximum, (Bengel,). Τὸ ἐπιεικὲς ὑμῶν is stronger than the substantive, ἐπιείκεια (2 Corinthians 10:1; Acts 24:4), and implies that this quality (τὸ ἐπιεικές) pervades the entire nature of the ὑμῶν. Comp. Philippians 3:8; Romans 2:4; Hebrews 6:17. It signifies mildness, forbearance, (used with ἄμαχος, 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 3:2; between εἰρηνική and εὐπειθής, James 3:17; with ἀγαθός, 1 Peter 2:18), hence not ‘becoming conduct’ (Matthies). It is to be known to all (γνωσθήτω πᾶσιν�) without exception, to strangers, and so much the more to neighbors, because they have such occasion to see it manifested towards themselves and towards others. The context leads us to think more directly of the adjustment of difficulties, the removal of dissension (Philippians 4:2-3) for effecting which the gentleness which spares the delinquent is a great assistance. [The ἐπιεικὲς ὑμῶν stands in contrast to the ἀκριβοδίκαιος, as being satisfied with less than is one’s due. Arist. Eth. Nic., Philippians 4:10 (Lightfoot).—H.]—The Lord is at hand (ὁ κύριος ἐγγύς) in whom they are to rejoice, hence Christ, under whose eye they are to walk and act, who will also judge them: judex vobis propitius, vindex in malos (Bengel). This is a strong motive to the exercise of forbearance. We are not to refer κύριος to God (Calvin), since πρὸς τὸν θεόν follows in Philippians 4:6, and the subject here is not that of the providence of God, but the παρουσία or advent of Christ. Meyer incorrectly joins it with what follows. [This nearness of Christ admits of other explanations. It may mean that He is ever near to His people as their efficient supporter and helper, so that with such an arm to defend them they have nothing to fear from the power or malice of their enemies (comp. Matthew 13:11; 1 Peter 4:7); or, more probably, that He is always near to them in point of time, will soon come to relieve them of their cares and trials, and receive them to their appointed rewards and rest in heaven (John 14:3; Romans 13:11, sq.) See note on Philippians 1:7. There is no necessary, certainly no exclusive, reference here to a definite expectation of the near advent of Christ, and the end of the world.6—H.]

Philippians 4:6. Be careful for nothing, (μηδὲν μεριμνᾶτε) enjoins freedom from anxiety since gaudium in domino legitimam securitatem in suis rebus parit (Bengel). Μηδέν, accusative of the object, excludes every subject of harassing care, whether fruitless labor or the events which precede the Lord’s advent (Philippians 4:5); hence not anxious solicitude merely is forbidden (Grotius).—But in every thing (ἀλλ’ ἐν παντί) is the antithesis to μηδέν (comp. Ephesians 5:24).—By prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known unto God, (τῇ προσευχῃ καὶ τῇ δεήσει μετὰ εὐχαριστίας τὰ αἰτήματα ὑμῶνγνωριζέσθω πρὸς τὸν θεόν) is the antithesis of [μεριμνᾶτε. He who rejoices in the Lord has not to do with ‘earthly things’ (τὰ ἐπίγεια, Philippians 3:19). Τὰ αἰτήματα ὑμῶν, are the contents or objects of the prayers, desideria veslra (Luke 23:24; 1 John 5:15). The verb γνωριζέσθω has a threefold limitation: 1) the way (τῇ προσευχῇ καὶ τῇ δεήσει) which the article points out as the appointed one, and its repetition as consisting of two parts or acts (on the difference see Ephesians 6:18); 2) the accompaniment: μετὰ εὐχαριστίας (comp. Ephesians 5:4; Colossians 2:7; Colossians 4:2), which should never be wanting in prayer and request; and 3) the direction (πρὸς τὸν θεόν) to whom the prayer should be directed. We are not to run to men with our complaints and lamentations. Bengel well points out the connection of Philippians 4:4-6 : tristitiam et curam comitatur morositas.

Philippians 4:7. And the peace of God, which passeth every understanding. Καί adds now a promise. Joy in the Lord is accompanied by the peace of God, etc. The genitive marks the author (see Ephesians 1:2; Colossians 3:15; and comp. Winer’s Gram., p. 186), and the participial clause the value of the peace which as the context shows must be understood as an inward state or peace of soul, in contrast with violence (Philippians 4:5), anxiety (Philippians 4:6) and in connection with joy (Philippians 4:4). Hence ‘the peace’ (εἰρήνη) is not harmony with one another (Meyer), which does not accord with the following predicates, nor reconciliation with God (Erasmus), which peace of soul presupposes, and on which it is founded. This peace of God is a possession defined as ἡύπερέχουσα πάντα νοῦν, i. e., towering above (Philippians 2:3; Philippians 3:8; Ephesians 3:19) the reach of man’s understanding, however strong it may be (πάντα νοῦν), (Ephesians 4:17). The comparison is between peace as the object of emotion and experience, and the understanding as the perceptive or rational faculty, and not between the incomprehensibility of this peace and the understanding (Erasmus, res felicior, quam ut humana mens queat percipere, and so Meyer et al.) [According to Meyer’s view (1859) the comparison lies in the efficacy of God’s peace, on the one hand, and of man’s reason or understanding on the other, to lift the soul above disquietude and the power of the world. So essentially Lightfoot: ‘Surpassing every device or counsel’ of man, i.e., which is far better, which produces a higher satisfaction, than all punctilious self-assertion, all anxious forethought. Ellicott translates: ‘which overpasseth every understanding,’ i.e., ‘which transcends every effort and attempt on the part of the understanding to grasp and realize it.’ The similarity between the language here and Ephesians 3:20 speaks almost decisively for the latter and more obvious interpretation: ‘Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,’ αἰτούμεθα ἥ νοοῦμεν.—H.] We are not to think at all here of the doubting or perplexed understanding (De Wette.)—Shall keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, characterizes the efficacy of the peace in question. The verb (φρουρήσει) signifies to guard, while the. tense marks the continuance of this protection; it is a promise, assurance, not a wish (Vulg., custodiat, et al.) The object τὰς καρδίας ὑμῶν καὶ τὰ νοήματα ὑμῶν, is the inner personality, made emphatic and exhaustive by the repeated article and pronoun. Bengel: cor sedes cogitationum. Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:14-15. Thus the whole and its parts, the principal and derivative, in the individual’s life, are preserved adversus omnes insultus et curas (Bengel); or ὥστε μένειν καὶ μὴ ἐκπεσεῖν αὐτοῦ,τῆς πίστεως (Chrysostom). Comp. 1 Peter 1:5. [The νοήματα reside in and issue from the καρδία (comp. 2 Corinthians 3:14-15): for in the Apostle’s language καρδία is the seat of thought as well as of feeling (Lightfoot)—H.] This result is accomplished ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, and hence apart from Him it does not spring from any inherent efficacy in the peace itself. Without His aid it is not possible to abide with Him, to obtain or to keep His gifts.


1. Joy in the Lord is the theme of this epistle, and the chief feature in the portrait of the Christian. On this frame of mind much depends: gentleness towards all men, in word and deed, since it causes many a provocation to pass unnoticed, or to be borne patiently; freedom from care and delight in prayer, for the Christian knows and frequents the way to God, and casts all his care upon Him who cares for him, being driven by care to prayer, and by prayer driving away care; inward peace, which God has wrought, and continues to strengthen in the soul.

2. Our consciousness of the nearness of the Lord, is strengthened by our very joy in the Lord, which is only perfected in the other world, so that we feel His coming to be a blessing, and desire it (Philippians 4:5).

3. The prayer for what is lacking should never be separated from thanksgiving for what has been granted (Philippians 4:6).

4. All that moves, disquiets thee, may and should become a subject of prayer, but the sort of prayer, manifold as may be the reason for it, is definite, and not every prayer avails.


Starke:—Two things trouble us: sin and affliction; on the other hand we find here a double incitement to rejoice in the Lord; Rejoice!—A Christian must be no towering tulip, but rather a humble violet, dispensing everywhere a sweet perfume.—Thou lion and tyrant in thy house! When an honorable man, a stranger approaches thee, thou ceasest perhaps to scold, and curse, and rage: why hast thou not as much reverence for the Lord who is near thee?—To care is God’s part, but to labor and in prayer to commit the issue to Him, is ours—To-day peace, to-morrow war! So it was formerly in the world, so it is now and so it will be to the end; but the peace of God is an eternal peace.

Rieger:—Everything in the Lord’s life, character, and experience is indeed a cause of joy to you. His condescension in His incarnation and birth, His walk in the world, His sufferings, cross, and death, His life and glory, His present concealment in God, His revelation from heaven ever near and nearer to us.—One may have the inward ground of joy in the Lord, though he has not the same susceptibility at one time as at another.—Yet joy in the Lord does not lead one to violent outbursts, or on the other hand to sit indolently, but to work, and it is this exercise which keeps it pure. A joyful follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, has to deal with different men, who in many ways have need of his forbearance.—Sometimes, indeed, even our reason performs good service against care, and promotes contentment of mind. But too often our reason is itself the fountain of many cares, or at least meets with cases where it is entirely helpless.—Out of the heart the life flows; if it is not protected it evaporates, and the senses bring in many a thing from the world, which has power to disturb our contentment.

Gerlach:—Let the Lord who in grace and judgment is ever near His people, care for all things. Address no prayer to Him, even out of the deepest distress, without thanksgiving; for even in the greatest misery you have more reason for thanksgiving and joy than for sorrow and complaint. Thus you can maintain joy in the Lord and gentleness towards men, at the same time.

[Robert Hall:—Seek repose by prayer. If your mind be overcharged or overwhelmed with trouble and anxiety, go into the presence of God. Spread your case before Him. Though He knows the desires of your hearts, yet He has declared He “will be sought after;” He will be “inquired of to do it for you.” Go, therefore, into the presence of that God who will at once tranquillize your spirit, give you what you wish, or make you more happy without it, and who will be your everlasting consolation, if you trust in Him. He will breathe peace into your soul, and command tranquillity in the midst of the greatest storms. How much are they to be pitied who never pray. The world is to them all gloom and disappointment; for there they see none of the kindness and protection of our heavenly Father. We do not wonder that the sorrow of the world worketh death, with the distresses, afflictions, and disappointments to which human nature is exposed (Philippians 4:6).—H.]

Schleiermacher:—What then are the chief things in the holy joy of Christmas? 1) Joy in the entire Lord and Redeemer. 2) A common feeling of love and joy (a) in the consciousness of the kindness and favor of God, our heavenly Father, which have been manifested in Christ Jesus; (b) in the purity and serenity of Christian joy. 3) Joy not over this or that aspect of heart and life, but over universal inward development.

Passavant:—This gentleness manifests itself at one time as equanimity and patience under all circumstances, among all men, and in manifold experiences; at another as integrity in business relations; as justice, forbearance, and goodness, in exercising power; as impartiality and mercy in judging; as noble yielding, joyful giving, and patient enduring and forgiving.—As the epistle for the fourth Sunday in Advent.

Heubner:—The true joy of the Christian in Advent. 1. Its nature. It springs from the past, the present, and the future coming of the Lord. 2. Its effects: gentleness, freedom from care, disposition to pray, peace. It is the best preparation for Christmas.

Löhe:—The approach of the festival as typical of the second coming of Christ greets us with a four-fold trumpet-blast: 1) Joy in Christ; 2) gentleness and goodness; 3) prayer and thanksgiving; 4) a prolonged sweet tone of peace, which is higher than all reason.

Ahlfeld:—Supplication and thanksgiving are better than care: 1. Care gnaws the marrow and pith out of God’s gifts. 2. Rise above it and leave it to your Lord. 3. Live in prayer and thanksgiving. He will gladly help you.

Law and Testimony. It is necessary to call solemnly to mind the much forgotten second coming of the Lord. 1) It brings holy joy in every way; 2) it is a rampart and wall against all hate and harm; 3) it inspires care-conquering prayer; 4) it enfolds us in God’s peace.

Pröhle:—The Christian disposition of mind in the holy time of Advent. 1) Holy joy; 2) tender love of men; 3) firm trust in God; 4) divine peace.—Difference between the holy mind of Christians and the wanton mind of the world. 1) The sources: the former springs from believing, sanctified hearts; the latter from a fortunate gift of nature, or it is the fruit of the sinful flesh. 2) Expressions: the former in religious joys, in lawful earthly pleasures used with moderation, a gentle, loving spirit, with God before the eye and in the heart; the latter, in sensual joys and violent passions. 3) Duration: the former always, the latter now and then. 4) Effects: the former liberates from care and melancholy, and renders one inclined to and qualified for the good; the latter leads away from God into sin.—The Lord is near! The thought (1) sanctifies our joys; (2) dissipates our cares; (3) consecrates our prayers; (4) fills us with love and forbearance towards our neighbor.

[J. S. Howson:—The Apostle Paul illustrated his precepts by example. He was remarkable for his habit of combining thanksgiving with his prayers (see Philippians 4:6).—I know of no more instructive study than to go over all the ground from Romans to Philemon, taking the structure of the Epistles as we find it, and noticing these streams of prayer and praise, sometimes as they appear separately, very frequently together. We have grand doxologies after the commencement of some great truth, or at the prospect of some glorious future, as in the letter to the Romans, (Romans 11:33); “O the depth of the riches; both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!” or in the First to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:57): “Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ!” The habit strikes us more forcibly when the reference is to something personal. Thus, at the mention of the long-delayed, but at last accomplished meeting with Titus (2 Corinthians 2:14): “Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ!” Even in his statement of a fact, Paul uses a eucharistic form (Romans 8:25): “Who shall deliver me? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” “Thanks be to God which put this into the heart of Titus.” 2 Corinthians 8:16. “I thank God that I baptized none save Crispus and Gaius.” 1 Corinthians 1:14. “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all.” 1 Corinthians 14:18. Even when he speaks of food, the name which he employs is: “That for which I give thanks.” And what is said of thanksgiving may similarly be said of prayer. Thus, with the same kind of exuberant impulse, after a doctrinal statement: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He would grant you to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.” Ephesians 3:14-16. So when he has been describing his projected journey: “Now the God of peace be with you.” Romans 15:33. So when he has been giving advice to an individual: “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” 2 Timothy 2:7. Evidently with St. Paul the law of Prayer is the law of Praise. Supplication and gratitude are almost always inter-linked together; or at least when one is present, the other is seldom far absent. “I will pray with the Spirit, and I will sing with the Spirit: I will pray with the understanding, and I will sing with the understanding.” 1 Corinthians 14:15. In the Christian life he clearly assumes that Thanksgiving will follow easily in the footsteps of Prayer, and that Prayer will be mindful to fill the place which has just been occupied by Thanksgiving. Two parallel sentences from the Ephesians may conclude this imperfect list of illustrations: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance.” Ephesians 6:18. Different as St. Paul’s Epistles are in most respects from the Psalms of David, they resemble them in this combination. The lesson derived from both, and in both cases alike enforced by the writer’s example, is this: “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and call upon Him in the time of trouble; so will He hear thee, and thou shalt praise Him,” (Psalms 50:14-15). See Lectures on the Character of St. Paul, p. 150 (London, 1864).—H.]

Verses 8-9

(3). General exhortation to Christian progress

( Philippians 4:8-9)

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


Philippians 4:8. Finally, τὸ λοιπόν, introduces the conclusion, but does not strictly resume Philippians 3:1 again (Matthies). [This expression indicates an approach to the end, and as Meyer remarks, its recurrence here shows Paul’s reluctance to say the last word of farewell.—H.] It is here added how and wherein the peace of God (Philippians 4:7) is to manifest itself; and as Philippians 4:7 states what God does, so this declares what remains for men to do. (De Wette). The address, brethren, ἀδελφοί, is prompted by the fervor of his feelings; and to this fervor is due also the six times repeated ὅσα. [The words which follow here may be said to be arranged in a descending scale. The first four describe the character of the actions themselves, the two former, ἀληθῆ, σεμνά, being absolute, the two latter δίκαια, ἁγνά, relative; the fifth and sixth προσφιλῆ, εὔφημα, point to the moral approbation which they conciliate; while the seventh and eighth ἀρετή, ἔπαινος, in which the form of expression is changed (εἴτις for ὅσα), are thrown in as an after-thought that no motive may be omitted (Lightfoot).—H.]—Whatsoever things are true, ὅσα ἐστὶν�. The ὅσα indicates that all things, without exception, which the category embraces are meant; while ἐστίν implies their actual existence in contrast with the arbitrary supposition of men. Ἀληθῆ is the morally true, in harmony with the objective rule of morality in the gospels. See Ephesians 4:21. It should neither be limited by in sermone (Bengel) nor be taken as merely subjective in the sense of sincerity (Erasmus).—Whatsoever things are honorable (ὅσα σεμνά), designates things of a worthy character corresponding to the essence of the ἀλήθεια (1 Timothy 2:2; Titus 2:2). [They are such as men esteem, regard with respect, veneration.—H.]—Whatsoever things are just (ὅσα δίκαια) signifies the things which accord with the law, as in Ephesians 4:24, and should not be limited by erga alios (Bengel).—Whatsoever things are pure (ὅσα ἁγνά) describes the same qualities or acts intrinsically (2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Jam 3:17; 1 Timothy 5:22; 1 John 3:3; ἁγνῶς 1:17). It is not simply ‘chaste’ (Grotius).—Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report (ὅσα προσφιλῆ, ὅσα εὔφημα) comprises again a two-fold relation; both words have reference to the estimation of men, the first however designating what is valuable and dear to the heart of man, (προσφιλῆ), the second (εὔφημα) what is praised, esteemed among men, in word and deed. The first should not be supplemented by τοῖς πιστοῖς καὶ τῷ θεῷ (Chrysostom), or restricted by τῷ θεῷ (Theodoret), or interpreted as benigna, quæ, gratiosum faciunt hominem (Grotius). The second does not refer to quæ bonam famam conciliant (Erasmus), or to sermones, qui aliis bene precantur (Storr.), which is opposed to the context.—If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, sums up the preceding; εἴ τις� refers to the first two pairs, καὶ εἴ τις ἔπαινος to the last pair. The former, ἀρετή, used of God, 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3, here and in 2 Peter 1:5, of men, signifies moral rectitude in disposition and action; the latter (ἔπαινος) the moral judgment of men, hence not res laudabilis (Calvin, et al.); virtue (ἀρετή) calls forth praise (ἔπαινον): this presupposes that.—Thus what is in a Christian sense moral, is described in manifold relations, and the Apostle now says of it:—Think on these things, ταῦτα λογίζεσθε, not the same as φρονεῖτε. The Philippians should choose these things as the subject of their meditation, have them ever in their thoughts.

Philippians 4:9. The train of thought leads us here to the province of action.—The things which ye have also learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me. The first καί points to the ἐστίν with ὅσα. [Hence it does not signify both (A. V.), but also, i.e., it adds the Apostle’s example and teaching to the claims of the virtues themselves. Lightfoot makes the first καί responsive to the third, and so connects the verbs in pairs.—H.] Ἐμάθετε καὶ παρελάβετε, refer to instruction, the former indicating the act in this process, as that of the Philippians, the latter, as that of Paul. The second intimates that the first could not have taken place without the second. Ἠκούσατε καὶ εἴδετε refer to examples of which the Philippians had knowledge by report or from personal observation, and which καί joins with the instruction (ὲμάθετε). Ἐν ἐμοί belongs to both verbs, for Paul is an example in word as well as act. Therefore καί-καί-καί is not “as well as,” nor ἐμάθετε genus, and the others species (Hölemann), nor does ἠκούσατε refer to preaching (Calvin, et al.).—These do (ταῦτα πράσσετε) is parallel to ταῦτα λογίζεσθε; both together, thinking and doing, are what Paul enjoins.—And the God of peace shall be with you, καὶ ὁ θεὸς τῆς εἰρήνης ἔσται μεθ’ ὑμῶν. The particle connects the result (=‘and so,’) with the injunction. The promise points to Philippians 4:7. He has the peace of God as his protection, who has the God of peace with him and in him.


1.Salvation with all its inward wealth and manifold relations, is a unit. It harmonizes with the standard (ἀληθῆ) immanent in it, whereon depends its dignity, its worth (σεμνά), agrees with the rule made objective in the law (δίκαια), so that it is unspotted (ἁγνά), has its echo in the creature (προσφιλῆ), and in the circles formed by it (εὔφημα).

2. Salvation is obtained through a saving union of doctrine and example.
3. He who rightfully claims salvation in word, has resting upon him still more the duty of bearing witness to it in his life.
[Andrew Fuller:—“The God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:9). We cannot experience the peace of God, and joy in the Holy Ghost, unless we have the testimony of our own consciences that in simplicity and godly sincerity we have had our conversation in the world.—What is this peace? The Christian, the minister who enjoys a well-grounded persuasion that he possesses the favor of Jesus Christ, whose confidence is in Him who sits at the helm of the universe, who walks with God and has the testimony of a good conscience, possesses the peace of God.—H.]


Starke:—Christians have no need of the teachings of pagan morality, for no virtue can be found, or anything else praiseworthy and glorious, which is not found in God’s word.—Whoever will have the blessings of salvation, must submit to the divine plan of salvation.

Schleiermacher:—In regard to what is honorable, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, there is a true and a false standard, and for this reason the Apostle here places the true at the beginning, that when the following exhortations are presented this fact, which our experience so often discloses, may at once occur to the Christian, and he may be led to examine himself and see whether he also is everywhere seeking for the true.

Heubner:—The Christian should not be one, but many-sided; he should strive after all that is excellent.—The true type of Christian virtue rejects all falsehood.—Klopstock inserts Philippians 4:8 in his ode to the Redeemer at the close of the Messiah.

[Robert Hall:—There are very different virtues. If we would be complete in our Christian profession, we must attend to all the virtues of it;—whatsoever things are true, honest, just, or lovely, as well as those sublimer things which more immediately respect God and Christ, and heaven and eternity. The beauty of the Christian character is not formed so much by the gigantic size of one virtue, as from the harmony and consistency of all. Never, then, let it appear which virtue has been most approved by you, but cultivate every virtue (Philippians 4:8).—H.]


Philippians 4:4; Philippians 4:4 [This ‘and in the A. V. answers to καί in the common text, which is, however, unwarranted. For the asyndeton which thus occurs, see Winer’s Gram., p. 537. See the notes below on ἐρῶ.—H.]

[6][Neander suggests still another, or at least a modified interpretation. The consciousness that “the Lord is nigh,” furnishes a motive for the exercise of forbearance under provocation. His persecuted people walk in the sight of the Lord and dare not give way to passion in the near presence of Him, who endured every wrong with heavenly patience and long-suffering. This consciousness that the Lord is near will also restrain them from wishing to anticipate His justice, to take the work of retribution into their own hands.—H.]

Verses 10-20

(4). The Apostle’s thankfulness for the gifts of love which he has received from them

( Philippians 4:10-20).

His joy on account of such friendship (Philippians 4:10); correction of a possible misunderstanding on their part (Philippians 4:11-13); grateful recognition of their kindness (Philippians 4:14-17); and assurance of the divine blessing (Philippians 4:18-20)

10But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked [were lacking] opportunity. 11Not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned, in whatsoever 12state I am (therewith) to be content. I know both [also]7 how to be abased, and I know how to abound; every where [in everything], and in all things I am instructed 13both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I 14can do all things through Christ8 [in him] who strengtheneth me. Notwithstanding 15ye have well done that ye did communicate with [shared in] my affliction. Now, ye Philippians, [also] know (also) that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning [for an account of] giving and receiving, but ye only. 16For even in Thessalonica ye sent once 17and again unto9 my necessity. Not because [that] I desire a [the] gift: but I desire 18[the] fruit that (may) abounds to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. 19But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches10 in glory by [in] Christ Jesus. 20Now unto God and our Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.


Philippians 4:10. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly. Paul commences by adding (δέ) something else which concerns himself personally (ἐχάρην). He limits this statement in two ways; first, by designating the element (ἐν κυρίῳ) and secondly, the degree (μεγάλως) of his joy, the latter word being at the end for the sake of emphasis.—That now at the last your care of me hath flourished again. Ὅτι introduces the reason of his joy: ἤδη ποτὲ�. This form of the verb is not found elsewhere. See Winer’s Gram. p. 87. The verb (from θάλλω to bloom, be luxuriant, or to cause to bloom) signifies to become green again, or to make green again. [The figure was not suggested by the season of the year when the gift was sent (Bengel), but the thought in its freshness budded into poetry (Eadie).—H.] The Philippians are regarded in the figure as a tree or field, wherein the concealed life has shown itself anew in the bestowal of the gifts of love, which are, as it were, the new buds or shoots of spring. The figure does not admit of the transitive signification (Grotius, with an appeal to Ezekiel 17:24), and the contest, which presents the reason for his great joy, forbids our referring it to a return of prosperity (Meyer, Schenkel: to thrive, prosper in their circumstances); and also forbids (for it contains no reproach) our regarding either the emphatic ἤδη ποτέ as tandem aliquando (Meyer), though it may be so taken in Romans 1:10 where it stands with the future, or ἀνεθάλετε as pre-supposing the readers to be deficient in sympathy, as it were withered, unproductive, ἀπομαρανθέντες ἐν τῇ ἐλεημοσύνῃ (Œcum. et al.) Under what circumstances the Apostle’s welfare (τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ) could not be a subject of the concern and care (φρονεῖν) of the church, is not stated, nor can it be conjectured. Bengel, who however goes too far when he says videtur legatio a Philippensibus tempore verno constituta, a quo metaphora sumitur, observes very justly: τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ dicitur ut τὰ παῤ ὑμῶν, Philippians 4:18, and also regitur a φρονεῖν. Hence τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ φρονεῖν is not to be taken as the accusative of relation (Winer’s Gram., p. 317 sq.) In a word, a new life has sprung up in the church, which has led them to consider (φρονεῖν) how they can do something again for the Apostle (τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ). If it could be suspected that any censure was intended here, what follows serves at once to remove that suspicion, for it excludes entirely all ground for such a thought.—Wherein ye were also careful, but ye were lacking opportunity.’ Ἐφ’ ᾦ, which is always neuter with Paul, and indicates the basis of the φρονεῖτε (Winer’s Gram., p. 392 sq.), has τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ for its antecedent, while ἐφρονεῖτε, which the prefixed καί associates with their failure to contribute to his support, declares, that notwithstanding such omission, they had been thoughtful in the matter, so that they could not have been ἀπομαρανθέντες ἐν ἐλεημοσύνῃ. It was not the disposition, but the outward circumstances that were at fault (ἠκαιρεῖσθε δέ). The omission of μέν after ἐφρονεῖτε, to which δέ corresponds, states the palliating antithesis with greater point and vivacity. De Wette incorrectly explains φρονεῖν ἐπί as a thinking without doing, φρονεῖν ὑπέρ a thinking with doing. The action is not indicated by the preposition, but is expressed in ἀνεθάλετε. We are not to refer ᾦ to ἐμοῦ for its antecedent, (Calvin), nor to translate ἐφ’ῷ although (Luther), or sicut (Vulg.), or post id (Grotius). In what the unfavorableness of their condition consisted, is not stated or intimated. But Paul’s joy on account of the change does not permit us to find it in the state of their resources, their temporal means, (Meyer, et al.), or in the want of an opportunity to transmit their gifts (Erasmus). [The more precise translation of ἠκαιρεῖσθε may be ye were not having a favorable time: which as already remarked leaves it uncertain in what respect it was unfavorable. Of the conjectures that of Meyer and others (see above) is as probable as any other. The want of something to send to the Apostle is less likely to have been the difficulty than the want of a suitable messenger. The commission as a fiduciary trust required honor and fidelity on the part of the agent, and was not to be entrusted to every one who might offer himself for the service. The journey too was a difficult one, involving perils by land and sea, and (as shown in all probability by the narrow escape of Epaphroditus himself) requiring courage and physical hardihood, which many would not possess though not deficient in other respects.—H.]

Philippians 4:11. Not that I speak in respect of Want, (οὐχ ὅτι καθ’ ὑστέρησιν λέγω) denies that the relief of any personal want was the cause of his joy, which is not of a nature to depend on external circumstances. On οὐχ ὅτι see Philippians 3:12. Winer’s Gram., p. 597. On καθ’ ὑστέρησιν, see Winer’s Gram., p. 402.—He now adds in confirmation:—For I have learned in whatever state I am to be content (ἐγὼ γὰρ ἕμαθον ἐν οἶς εἰμι αὐτάρκης εἶναι). Comp. 2Co 9:8; 1 Timothy 6:6; Hebrews 13:5. Ἐγώ is emphatic: with others it may be different. There is no reason for supplying in tot adversis, or divinities with ἔμαθον (Bengel). Ἐν οἶς εἰμι means his condition at any time; and does not refer merely to his condition at that time, nor is ἐν οἷς to be taken as masculine (Luther, with whom). [Prof. Eadie reminds us that the great divine, Dr. Isaac Barrow, has four sermons on this text. See under Homiletical and Practical.—H.]

Philippians 4:12. I know also how to be abased or brought low, (οἶδα καὶ ταπεινοῦσθαι) begins the account of his resignation, contentment (αὑτάρκεια). The order of the contrasts (ταπεινοῦθαι, περισσεύειν) appears to adjust itself to the condition of the Apostle at the time when he wrote the Epistle. The knowing (οἶδα) is a consequence of the learning (ἔμαθον). On the facts see 2Co 4:8; 2 Corinthians 6:9-10. καί adds to the general statement ἐν οἶς εἰμι, the more particular one.—And I know how to abound—οἶδα καὶ περισσεύειν. Here καί adds the opposite as having also been learned. Περισσεύειν harmonizes better with the context than would the more exact opposite of the preceding verb (ὑψοῦσθαι). Pelagius: ut nec abundantia extollar, nee frangor inopia. Grotius: in rebus exiguis patienter me gerere, rebus abundantibus cum modo uti. The signification excellere (Erasmus) is untenable.—In every thing and in all things I have been instructed or initiated.—Ἐν παντὶ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι is to be explained by ἐν οἷς (Philippians 4:11). Both then are neuter, embracing all states and every state. The first is not equivalent to ubique (Vulg.), nor is the second masculine (Luther: among all; Bengel: respectu omnium hominum). The perfect of the verb (μεμύημαι) denotes the continuance of the state described. There is manifestly here a climax: ἔμαθον as pupil, οἶδα as companion, μεμύημαι, as master. Only a gradation, however, is indicated in the extent and exactness of the knowledge, but there is no reference to a divine revelation (Estius, Bengel). The verb is followed by the accusative or dative; hence ἐν παντὶ καὶ ἐν πᾶσι only describes the condition, in which this knowledge manifests itself; what he has been taught is stated in the following infinitives, equivalent to accusatives after the verb.—Both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need (καὶ χορτάζεσθαι καὶ πεινᾶ̣ν, καὶ περισσεύειν καὶ ὑστερεῖσθαι).

Philippians 4:13. I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.—Summing it all up, he says, πάντα ἰσχύω. [Πάντα is the ‘quantitative’ accusative after ἴσχύω (Galatians 5:6; James 5:16) defining the measure and extent of the action (Ellicott).—H.] Again, climacteric from knowledge to ability (Galatians 5:6; James 5:16), and πάντα is entirely general, extending even beyond the categories just mentioned. Van Hengel incorrectly restricts it to omnia memorata. It sounds like boasting, hence in humility he adds: ἐν τῷ ἐνδυναμοῦντί με. In himself there resides no such knowledge and ability; it has been bestowed upon him, he has it only in and from the Lord who alone creates it. Comp. Ephesians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Acts 9:22; Romans 4:20; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 2:1; 2 Timothy 4:17.

Philippians 4:14. Notwithstanding (better, nevertheless) ye have well done.—Πλήν turns the attention from Paul to the Philippians and their gifts, which are now estimated positively. Cavet, ne fortiter loquendo contempsisse ipsum beneficium videatur (Calvin). [Notwithstanding (πλήν) he did not need their bounty to relieve his wants, he is thankful for it, and commends their generosity.—H.]—Καλῶς ποιήσατε describes their contribution as a good deed, which the following more closely defines: That ye shared in my affliction—συγκοινωνήσαντές μου τῇ θλίψει. It was therefore a fellowship (a κοινωνεῖν) with the affliction (θλῖψις), which last denotes his hard condition, not merely want; hence it was compassion, interest, but as the emphatic position of μου indicates, for the sake of the person, in devoted love. Composito verbo innuitur, etiam alios alio modo fuisse κοινωνήσαντες (Bengel). Comp. Philippians 4:16; 2 Corinthians 9:11. [This sympathy on the part of the Philippians with the suffering representative of Christ and His cause is the very trait of character which the Judge selects for eulogy at the last day. See Matthew 25:35 sq. (Eadie).—H.]

Philippians 4:15. Now, ye Philippians also know—οἴιδατε δὲ καὶ ὑμεῖς,Φιλιππήσιοι. The transition to the past is indicated by δέ; καί points to Paul, for they and he alike know what has been done by them. The insertion of the name of the church shows his deep emotion, and gives a marked emphasis, as 2 Corinthians 6:11. No contrast with other churches is implied (Bengel).—That in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia.—Ὅτι introduces the object of their knowledge. Ἐν�, a limitation of time which ὅτι ἐξῆλθον�, the first departure from Macedonia (Acts 16:11 to Acts 17:15), so defines, that it must be understood from the standpoint of the Philippians, since for them the existence of the gospel began when the Apostle preached in Macedonia. [The “beginning of the gospel” at Philippi implies that he visited the Philippians on some other and later occasion. This intimation tallies exactly with Acts 20:2; Acts 20:6, which states that Paul came to Philippi (since μέρη ἐκεῖνα in the former passage would include that city), both on his second journey from Macedonia to Greece, and on his return from Corinth to Asia Minor and Jerusalem.—H.] It is incorrect to regard ἐξῆλθον as used for the pluperfect (Van Hengel, Wiesinger, et al.), which is forbidden by ἐν�, and besides Philippians 4:16 does not refer merely to the gifts sent to Corinth.—No church communicated with me for an account of giving and receiving, but ye only, οὐδεμία μοι ἐκκλησία ἐκοινώησεν εἰς λόγου δόσεως καὶ λήψεως, εἰ μὴ ὑμεῖς μόνον. Only the words λόγον δόσεως καὶ λήψεως are difficult. The context, especially Philippians 4:17, explains εἰς λόγον as meaning for account of; for the genitives, like the words debit and credit, receipts and expenses, point to the keeping of accounts as the source of the phraseology (Cicero, Læl. Phil 16: ratio datorum et acceptorum). Hence Bengel incorrectly takes the meaning to be quod attinet (limitat), as if in other ways than with gifts of love, other churches had indeed communicated with him. Further, it is the present giving and receiving of Paul and the Philippians that are spoken of: he gives the gospel and receives their gifts, they bestow their gifts and take gifts from him, God’s word. Hence it is not a giving of the Philippians and receiving of Paul in the matter of the gifts of love (Grotius, et al.), or a giving of Paul and receiving of the Philippians, in rebus spiritualibus (the Greeks, et al.), nor are we to think of gifts of money from Paul to the Philippians (Rheinwald), or, least of all, that with Paul the page headed δόσις, with the Philippians that headed λῆψις remained blanks (Meyer), for the two run into each other, and we are not to think merely of the temporal.

Philippians 4:16. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.—Ὅτι is quia (Vulg.), or nam (Luther), and confirms εἰ μὴ ὑμεῖς μόνοι. It does not depend on οἴδατε, it is not ‘that’ (Van Hengel, et al). Ἐν Θεσσαλονίκῃ states that it was in Thessalonica that the gifts came to him, so that the designation of place can indeed be joined with ἐπέμψατε, but rather belongs with μοι (Winer’s Gram. p. 414), and the prefixed καί, with an allusion to ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, denotes the early period of this contribution, while καὶ ἅπαξ καὶ δίς (1 Thessalonians 2:18) renders the repetition of their giving prominent with a hint at the rapid succession of the gifts. [The both once and twice is emphatic, i.e., not once only, but twice (De Wette, Ellicott). The καί, also, connects other and later instances of their liberality with the gifts which he received so early and promptly at Thessalonica immediately after his departure from Macedonia. We read in 2 Corinthians 11:9 that while Paul was at Corinth, after having preached in Macedonia, where Philippi was situated, he received supplies from that province. The particular place from which he received them is not named in that passage, but as the Apostle declares here that no other church aided him in that way, we must conclude that the bounty which he acknowledges in the Epistle to the Corinthians is that which he tacitly accredits here to the Philippians.—H.]—Εἰς τὴν χρείαν designates the need of the Apostle, the article indicating that it was a present need, and also known to the Philippians.

Philippians 4:17. Not that I desire the gift (οὐχ ὅτι ἐπιζητῶ τὸ δόμα) denotes that he was not concerned about the definite material present. The verb is simply quæro, the preposition denoting the direction, as in ἐπιποθῶ (Philippians 1:8). The present tense denotes ‘the constant, characteristic tendency: that is not his case’ (Meyer). Hence it is not studiose quæro (Hölemann).—But I desire the fruit, ἀλλὰ ἐπιζητῶ τὸν καρπόν.—Emphatic repetition of the verb in the antithetical clause. [‘I do not want the gift, I do want the fruit,’ etc. (Lightfoot).—H.] ‘The fruit’ suggests the idea of the gift, the present, as seed sown which will be followed by a harvest (Galatians 6:18), and points to a manifold reward (Meyer). But there is no reference to the Christian life as first, bringing forth the gift (Rilliet).—That abounds to your account, τὸ πλεονάζοντα εἰς λόγον ὑμῶν, describes the fruit as one that grows for the advantage of the Philippians: that what they have entered as δόσις is registered to them as λῆψις; they may therefore receive from Paul, from other churches, from the Lord Jesus Christ and God Himself, what will prove a blessing to them for time and for eternity. On πλεονάζειν see Romans 5:20; Romans 6:1; 2 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:3. To this εἰς λόγον ὑμῶν belongs, which is not equivalent to εἰς ὑμᾶς, ratione vestri (Bengel), and not to ἐπιζητῶ (Van Hengel), nor is καρπός here equivalent to τόκος, interest (Michaelis), for the context gives no occasion to adopt this meaning, though λόγος is to be held as implying ‘account.’

Philippians 4:18. But I have all, and abound. I am full.—Ἀπέχω δὲ πάντα is an expression of his complete content: he has all that (Matthew 6:2; Matthew 5:16; Phil. 15) he needs or desires, so that he has nothing left to wish for. It is not “receipt” (Erasmus), also not habeo autem omnia (Vulg.). With a climactic force καὶ περισσεύω is added: I have yet more than I need and wish, am even filled (πεπλήρωμαι), have abundance around and within. Not outward abundance is meant, but complete inward satisfaction.—Having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you (δεξάμενος παρὰ Ἐπαφροδίτου τὰ παρ’ὑμῶν) points to the mode in which he had come into this state.—He describes their gift as: An odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.—Ὀσμὴν εὐωδίας (comp. Ephesians 5:2), θυσίαν δεκτὴν,εὐαρεστον τῷ θεῷ, represents the gift under the image of an offering. The dative belongs equally to both expressions. Comp. Philippians 2:17; Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:16; 1 Peter 2:5. Every gift and act of love should be regarded as an offering made to God in thankfulness, and hence it is that they are acceptable, well pleasing to Him.

Philippians 4:19. But my God shall supply all your need (ὁ δὲ θεός μου πληρώσει πᾶσαν χρείαν ὑμῶν) attaches itself to τῷ θεῷ. God allows no offering to be made to Him in vain, especially when it is a gift to one whose God He is. Comp. Philippians 1:3. Paul’s God will repay the Philippians for having so contributed to his aid that he could say πεπλήρωμαι. Hence πληρώσει measures, as it were, the recompense to them by his πεπλήρωμαι, and πᾶσαν χρείαν ὑμῶν responds to εἰς τὴν χρείαν μοι (Philippians 4:16). The reference is not merely to bodily want (Chrysostom), or even to spiritual (Pelagius), but to bodily and spiritual combined, and the recompense also should not be restricted to the other world (Meyer).—The πληρώσει is now qualified.—According to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.—The limitation is three-fold: (1) κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος αὐτοῦ shows the relation of the recompense to the gift of the church; (2) ἐν δόξῃ states the kind of recompense: in a glorious way; (3) ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ presents the medium by which it is effected. It is incorrect to join ἐν δόξῃ with πλοῦτος (Grotius, et al.), since αὐτοῦ stands between, and with πλοῦτος we should have had the genitive δόξης (Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 3:16; Colossians 1:27; Romans 9:23). [The adverbial sense of ἐν δόξῃ has hardly any parallel elsewhere. The constructio prægnans affords a better meaning (Lightfoot): in the state of glory where they would ultimately be, and partake of Christ’s glory at the right hand of the Father; and it is in Him (ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ) as the sphere of their existence that they attain this exaltation and blessedness.—H.]

Philippians 4:20. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.—The doxology here forms a natural conclusion: τῷ δὲ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ ὑμῶν recalls ὁ θεός μου (Philippians 4:19), who is also the God of the Philippians, and not merely God, but also our Father. See on Philippians 1:2. With ἡ δόξα supply εἵη. See Ephesians 3:20-21; Romans 11:36. The glory which He has shall also be acknowledged even εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, an expression equivalent in sense to εἰς πάντας αἰῶνας, Galatians 1:5; 1Ti 1:17; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:21; 1Pe 4:11; 1 Peter 5:11.


1. The Christian life, both of individuals and of churches, can no more be without its waverings, its ebb and flow in the stream of its activity, than nature can fail of its winter, spring, summer and autumn (Philippians 4:10). This should be no cause of stumbling.

2. The manifestations of Christian activity are a cause of joy less on account of the material benefits they confer, than on account of the power of love and of life which they evince: and this is the reason why they are not to be lightly esteemed.
3. Both traits of character are important: dignity in circumstances of misfortune and trial, without weakness and without ill-humor; and nobility of soul in the midst of abundance, without pride or arrogance. The last of these, perhaps, is more difficult to acquire than the first.

4. Man can of himself do nothing in matters of morality, but in Christ, who strengthens him, he can do all things (John 15:5).

5. There is a certain solidarity of earthly and heavenly interests, bodily and spiritual, like that which exists between the body and the soul. Romanism, in its proneness to a false ascetism, underrates the former. Socialism and Communism, which attach themselves only to this life, deny the latter. The lower or temporal interests should be subordinated to the higher or spiritual; they should be servants, not masters, under the control ever of a mind which maintains its ascendency over the earthly and present. These higher interests cannot be replaced by the lower; they should not be displaced by them.

6. The gift of love is in form and product the true gift, and should be regarded as a sacrifice brought to God and well-pleasing to Him (Philippians 4:18).

7. [Augustine:—I have learned from Thee, O Lord, to distinguish between the gift and the fruit. The gift is the thing itself, which is given by one who supplies what is needed, as money or raiment. But the fruit is the good and well-ordered will of the giver. It is a gift, to receive a prophet, and to give a cup of cold water; but it is fruit, to do those acts in the name of a prophet, and in the name of a disciple. The raven brought a gift to Elias when it brought him bread and flesh; but the widow fruit, because she fed him as a man of God (Philippians 4:17).—H.].


Starke:—What virtuous pagans have learned from nature, as in a shadow, that they should not allow themselves to be lifted up by fortune and abundance, nor let their courage sink in misfortune and want, is a knowledge which true Christians have by reason of their faith, in all truth, fulness, and purity.—Thou desirest to know nothing of Christ’s power in overcoming sin, and ever excusest thy deeds as effects of human weakness: but if thou art a true Christian, and thus in Christ, thou art strong enough to conquer all things. If thou hast not this strength, then is Christ also not in thee.—God is a rich Proprietor, to whom thou lendest what thou dost give to the poor, and who will recompense thee a hundred-fold, if not in this world, yet certainly in eternal glory (Philippians 4:19).

Rieger:—From that which one endures, something also should be learned. Nature is content with little, grace with even less. Most desires are first aroused by comparison with others.—So soon as I turn away from Christ, any thing can overthrow me. So soon as I am in Christ, I can withstand all things.

Schleiermacher:—The Apostle’s boast: 1) what he boasts of himself; 2) how he gives Christ the glory.

Heubner:—In many a one the spiritual impulse seems at times dead, as the life in flowers and trees, but in favorable weather it breaks out again in buds, blossoms and fruits. Even the manifestation of that which is good is controlled by circumstances (Philippians 4:10).

[Isaac Barrow:—He who has the consciousness of fulfilling the condition, will secure the effect of that promise: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”—This is what supported the Apostles and kept them cheerful under all the heavy load of distresses which lay on them: “Our rejoicing is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity—we have had our conversation in this world.”—It is an evil conscience that giveth an edge to all other evils, and enableth them sorely to afflict us, which, otherwise would but slightly touch us.—The contemplation of our future state is a medicine to work contentedness and to cure discontent. Considering heaven and its happiness, how low and mean, how unworthy of our care and affection, will these inferior things appear.—What is any loss, any disgrace, any cross in this world to me, who am a citizen of heaven, who bear a capacity and hope of the immense riches, the incorruptible glory, the perfect and endless joys of eternity? “For this cause,” says Paul, “we faint not—while we look not on the things which are seen, but on the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” And he says again: “I reckon that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”—H.]


Philippians 4:12; Philippians 4:12. [We are to road καί after the first οἶδα, and not δέ as in the common text. The witnesses are decisive. So Tischendorf, Meyer, Ellicott, Wordsworth, and others decide.—H.]

Philippians 4:13; Philippians 4:13. Only a few manuscripts add Χριστῶ. א (inserted afterwards) A B C et al., omit it. It is an exegetical variation. [The change makes the expression like 1 Timothy 1:12, and that conformity may have been the motive for the change.—H.]

Philippians 4:16; Philippians 4:16. [Some good authorities omit είς after δίς, but it is undoubtedly genuine, having been overlooked in some copies in consequence of the successive similar endings—H.]

Philippians 4:19; Philippians 4:19. [The older rendering is τὸ πλοῦτος instead of τὸν πλοῦτον. The manuscripts (Lachmann, Tischendorf) fluctuate in some other places between the neuter and the masculine.—H.]

Verses 21-23


Salutation and Benediction (Philippians 4:21-23)

Philippians 4:21-23

21Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet [salute] you. 22All the saints salute you, chiefly [but especially] they that are of Cæsar’s household. 23The grace of our [the11] Lord Jesus Christ be with you all [your spirit12]. Amen.13


Philippians 4:21. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus, ἀσπάσαθε πάντα αγιου ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. He desires to single out every member of the church as embraced in this greeting; and hence he uses the singular (πάντα), and does not write πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους. The nearer limitation, ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, belongs to the verb (Rom 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12 : ἐν ἁγίῳ φιλήματι). It is to be a Christian salutation; ἅγιος does not need any limitation (Van Hengel, et al.), as Ephesians 1:1 shows.—The brethren who are with me salute you, adds salutations (ἀσπάζονται ὑμᾶς) entrusted to him by others, οἱ σὺν ἐμοὶ�, qui mihi vincto ministrant, qui me visitant, qui mecum hic in evangelio laborant (Estius); hence the smaller circle (Philippians 1:14), which, however, we are not to divide into travelling companions (as Luke, Titus and others) and those who lived in the place (as Clemens, Euodia, et al.) (Van Hengel).

Philippians 4:22. All the saints salute you (ἀσπάζονται ὑμᾶς πάντες οἱ ἅγιοι), all Christians in Rome who did not happen to stand in personal or official relations with himself.—But especially, μάλιστα δέ, marks a greeting delivered to him with great earnestness.—They that are of Cæsar’s household, οἱ ἐκ τῆςχ Καίσαρος οἰκίας. Since οἰκία most naturally means house, then palace, the imperial servants are probably meant. Neither the context nor the history gives us reason to understand the word in the sense of family, as in 1 Corinthians 16:15, and to suppose the members of the imperial family, the relatives of the Emperor, to be referred to (Baur, Van Hengel). Still less appropriate is it to suppose the Prætorians to be meant (Matthies), as in Philippians 1:13. The expressions ‘palace’ and ‘prætorium’ do not admit of being interchanged. It is not correct to think of Cæsarea and the βασίλειον τοῦ Ἡρώδου on account of Καίσαρος (Böttger, et al.). Who they were and why they sent an especial salutation is not stated. [Neander conjectures that possibly they may have been natives of Philippi, or have known some of the Philippian Christians who had been at Rome. Perhaps we are not to seek so far for an explanation. The Apostle’s ‘especially’ (μάλιοτα), which so emphasizes the greeting of ‘those of Cæsar’s household,’ may represent the tone of hearty earnestness with which they spoke up, as he was writing or dictating the letter, and asked them to send their kiss of love (ἀσπασμός) to these Philippians of whom they had heard so much from the Apostle. For this the parties need not have had any personal knowledge of each other. As servants in the palace (especially if Paul was quartered in that neighborhood) they may have been brought into relations of special intimacy with Paul.14—H.]

Philippians 4:23. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.—Ἡ χάρις τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν. Ἀμήν.—Entirely like Galatians 6:18; Romans 16:24; 1Th 5:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 13:13. [This remark must be understood of a similarity in the import and not the form of the salutations.—H.]


1. Salutations are tokens of personal interest and living fellowship which should not be lightly esteemed.
2. It is important that the grace of the Lord be in us, not merely that we be surrounded by it.


Starke:—The Apostolic salutations teach that the Christian religion does not make men unfriendly and stubborn, but courteous and friendly.—A Christian salutation is a benediction, and not merely a custom: the fashionable world uses instead its empty compliments.—O Rome! Rome! how greatly hast thou changed! Formerly thou hadst true saints even in the household of a pagan and tyrannical emperor; but now hast thou false saints, especially in and around the so-called chair of Peter and at the court of his supposed successor.

Gerlach:—Thus among the slaves of the emperor Nero there existed a believing and loving community of Christians who felt a special interest in foreign churches. Perhaps it is on account of this noteworthy circumstance that Paul brings them forward so prominently.15

Heubner:—Christianity had forced its way into the very presence of the emperor, had found entrance among the servants of the court. Whether Seneca was among them or not is unknown. Christianity finds its way every where, and the worst places are not closed to grace.

Nitzsch:—The salutations of the saints which the Apostle delivered in such numbers and so earnestly rest—1) on faith and a confession of the one true church of the Lord; 2) they are an expression of the feeling of our communion, of our higher, heavenly relationship in the family of God; 3) they furnish significant proofs of Christian love.


Philippians 4:23; Philippians 4:23.—[The A. V. reads ἡμῶν after κυρίσυ, but on no sufficient authority.—H.]

[12]Ibid.—Instead of μετὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ὑμῶν some manuscripts read μετὰ πνευμάτων υμῶν. [Lachmann and Tischendorf adopt the former in their text. Meyer. regards μετὰ τοῦ πνευμάτος ὑμῶν as borrowed from Galatians 6:18. The English Version translates the common μετὰ παντῶν ἡμῶν, which is not well supported.—H.]

[13]Ibid.—Ἀμήν is found in א A D E K L. The subscription in א is πρὸς φιλιππησίους, and in B the same with ἐγράφη� added, while K subjoins δι’ Ἐπαφροδίτου.

[14][Some have supposed that Seneca may have been one of the members of the Emperor’s household, to whom Paul here refers. On this question of the possibility of an acquaintance between the Apostle and the philosopher during Paul’s captivity at Rome, Professor Lightfoot has an extended Dissertation in his Commentary on Philippians, pp. 268–331. The discussion involves an elaborate examination of the spirit and teachings of Stoicism as compared with those of the Gospel. The essay is indeed one of great value.—H.]

[15][It was their own request, and not Paul’s act, which made them prominent (see on Philippians 4:22).—H.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Philippians 4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/philippians-4.html. 1857-84.
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