Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, March 2nd, 2024
the Second Week of Lent
There are 29 days til Easter!
StudyLight.org has pledged to help build churches in Uganda. Help us with that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Philippians 4

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New TestamentSchaff's NT Commentary

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors


I. Reiterated exhortation to stedfastness, ver. I; II. Special individual appeals and entreaties, Philippians 4:2-3; III. How to be ready for the coming of the Lord, Philippians 4:4-7; IV. Precepts for guidance in Christian life, Philippians 4:8-9; V. The Apostle’s joy over their liberality, because it is evidence that their faith is not without fruits, Philippians 4:10-20; VI. Greetings and Benediction, Philippians 4:21-23.

Verse 1

Reiterated Exhortation to Stedfastness, Philippians 4:1.

In a few most affectionate and earnest words the apostle enforces the exhortation with which the Epistle began (Philippians 1:27), that they should continue stedfast in their Christian course.

Philippians 4:1. Therefore. Because you are citizens of a heavenly country, whom the trials and temptations of the world should not be able to draw into forgetfulness of your true home; and because you are expecting a Saviour, and therefore should be in readiness for His coming.

my brethren, beloved and longed for. Every word testifying more than the last to the intenseness of the affection with which the apostle’s heart was filled. It is in no mere sense of ordinary Christian brotherhood that he uses the name ‘brethren.’ They are his own, and treasured in his heart, the great desire of which is that he may see them once more. He has used the kindred verb of his own longing after them already (Philippians 1:8), and of the desire, the home-sickness, of Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:26).

my joy and crown. Yet, though his heart goes forth to the Philippians in great tenderness, that is not his only thought with reference to them. They have given him as a church nothing but delight. He tells them, therefore, of his rejoicing in the memory of them, and of their love, but, looking forward also to the great day of account, he tells them too that in the judgment day their faith will be his joy and crown in the presence of the Lord, into whose service he has been privileged to bring them.

so stand fast. Be stedfast in the way in which I have been pointing out, bearing in mind the humility of Christ, and the feebler yet more attainable example of me, His servant. Then your adversaries shall not prevail over you, and you will be ever preparing and prepared for the advent of Christ

in the Lord. But it must not be attempted in your own strength. It must be in trust on Christ, and for the love of Christ, or, while thinking you stand, you will be in peril of falling.

my beloved. The verse runs over with affection from a full heart.

Verse 2

Philippians 4:2. I exhort Euodia. The verb implies something stronger than the ‘beseech’ of the Authorised Version. The apostle calls on these sisters by the authority of his office. Euodia (not Euodias, as Authorised Version) was one of those godly women of which the early church made much use, and who in this case were worthy to be called ‘fellow-strugglers’ with St. Paul for the cause of Christ’s Gospel. It was to the women especially that the first preaching at the proseucha in Philippi was addressed (Acts 16:13-14), and a woman is the first Christian convert mentioned there, the first-fruits of apostolic labour in Europe.

and I exhort Syntyche. The repetition of the verb is very emphatic, and probably is meant to indicate that the exhortations could not be given at the same time. These two may have been forming parties in the church, and have been regarded as leaders by favourers of one opinion or the other. It is impossible to divine what subjects may have threatened to rend the peace of the congregation, whether Jewish prejudices ranged against Gentile freedom, or matters peculiar to Philippi alone; but we can see from the apostle’s language, that though at variance in opinion, these women were still earnest in the cause of Christ.

that they be of the same mind in the Lord. He gives with his exhortation both the reason for following it, and the means whereby it may be fully followed. They are ‘in the Lord,’ servants of the same Master, baptized in the same name, and striving for the same object. If then, remembering this, they seek to their Master for aid, the unity of spirit will be bestowed. When believers fix their gaze on Christ, the smaller concerns, by which the church must ever be surrounded in this life, sink down to their proper level, far below the life in Christ, and are seen not to be worthy of consideration, if they are to cause a rending of the oneness of the church, which is Christ’s witness on earth.

Verses 2-3

Special individual Appeals and Entreaties.

We find from the history of the Acts of the Apostles that women were conspicuous among the first members of the Philippian Church. Lydia’s house was the home of the missionaries. Women still were among their zealous members, but between some of them there had arisen a difference of feeling, and St. Paul urges union on two of these by name, and begs his fellow-labourers in the Gospel who are in Philippi to help on the consummation of peace and love among the sisters in the church.

Verse 3

Philippians 4:3. Yea, I beseech thee also, true yokefellow. Here St. Paul addresses some man whose influence was likely to have weight in bringing about peace and unity in the Philippian sisterhood. As the apostle does not name the person meant, there has been much speculation as to whom he is addressing. Some have thought that the name was here, and that the word rendered ‘yokefellow’ ( Synzygos) might be not a common but a proper noun. Thus St. Paul would be playing on the word, as he does on the name Onesimus in the letter to Philemon. ‘Thou Synzygos, who art a yokefellow truly, in name as well as in nature.’ But as the word is not found elsewhere as a name, this explanation may he dismissed. Others have applied the words to St. Luke, from the language of the Acts, in which the writer employs ‘we’ in the journey from Troas to Philippi (Acts 16:10-17), the drops into the third person, until (Acts 20:5) St. Paul returns through Philippi to go into Asia. Hence it is thought that St. Luke may have been left in charge of the Philippian Church, and he may have been intended by the expression ‘true yokefellow,’ of which we cannot doubt that ‘the beloved physician’ would be deemed worthy by St. Paul. But Luke seems to have been at Rome at this time. See Lightfoot, Introduction, p. 10. Others, again, and perhaps with more probability, have applied the words to Epaphroditus, who was to be the bearer of the letter. He may have been the amanuensis, and the words may represent St. Paul’s direct appeal to him, which he has put down just as it was made, and that he might be able to do so, has left out his name, only giving the affectionate title which the apostle applied to him. But whoever may have been intended, neither the apostle nor the amanuensis thought the mention of a name of any consequence. The appeal was intelligible by him to whom it was made, and charity (such as he was to use and foster) ‘vaunteth not herself.’

help these women. That is, Euodia and Syntyche. ‘Those’ in the Authorised Version makes the woman to be helped other than these two, which is not correct, as is shown by the following relative.

for they laboured with me in the gospel. The verb is only found again in Philippians 1:27, ‘striving for the faith.’ These women, like the apostle, had entered on the heavenward struggle, and like him were zealous that the Gospel should be spread abroad. The expression seems to imply that even in the early days of the apostle’s visit, the women at Philippi had been accepted as fellow-workers in Christian undertakings.

with Clement also. This may be joined with what immediately precedes, thus including Clement among those who with the women had joined St. Paul in his preaching and labours at Philippi, but it seems better to couple it with the words ‘true yokefellow.’ ‘Do thou along with Clement help these women.’ Of the Clement here mentioned we have no further knowledge for certain. He may have been the same who afterwards became bishop of Rome, and whose Epistles to the Corinthians are preserved among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. For Philippi was a colony of Rome, and probably in close communication with the capital. But the name was far too common for this to be at all certain.

and the rest of my fellow-workers. We might judge from this language, that even before the apostle’s departure from Philippi the converts had become numerous. But in such a work every scholar becomes a teacher. The youngest true believer must tell what has been done for him, and so becomes a preacher.

whose names are in the book of life. Compare the passages in the Book of Revelation where this expression occurs. The conception is of God’s record of all those who are striving to serve Him. It is clear from the language of St. John that the names were not considered to be written there unchangeably, but if found unworthy to continue, they might be blotted out. Those are in the Book of life in scripture language who have begun to walk in the way of salvation. St. Paul makes no list of names. They are known to God, and would know that they were appealed to without being named, for they were walking after the apostle’s example, and so would be ready to strive for that unity in the church which he longed to see.

Verse 4

Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord alway. The apostle now takes up the thread of his thoughts from chap. Philippians 3:1. Two digressions on Judaizers and on those who mind earthly things have intervened, but he now turns back to his chief theme of ‘joy in the Lord.’

again I will say, Rejoice. When we reflect that the Epistle was written from his prison, we may judge of the comfort which the apostle found in Christ, and may see why he is ready to count all things loss for Him who fills his heart with such unspeakable rejoicing.

Verses 4-7

How to be ready for the coming of the Lord, 4-7.

Turning from special exhortation, St. Paul gives some general precepts to the whole church. In these he exhorts to a religious joy, and this should be accompanied with a kind and forbearing spirit, which all men should recognise as specially Christian. Then all over-anxiety in worldly affairs should be laid aside, and all wants brought to God in earnest supplication. Thus would their hearts and thoughts be kept through Christ in holy peace, passing all that man can think or tell.

Verse 5

Philippians 4:5. Let your forbearance be known unto all men. Let them see that you behave with gentleness even in all the opposition of your adversaries. Thus shall they be taught that there is a power in Christianity, and be led to glorify your Master. The apostle does not encourage to any parade or ostentation of gentleness, but such a life as shall be in all its parts marked by this virtue, so that men at all times may recognise how the Christian differs from others.

the Lord is at hand. The special Christian watchword in the early days of the faith, and there can be no doubt that there was a widespread expectation of the immediate coming of Christ. The words are meant first as an encouragement to those who had much to suffer, that they should not faint, for the Deliverer was near; next for a warning, that none should relax, lest Christ should come, and those who were called by His name should be found not watchful.

Verse 6

Philippians 4:6. Be over-anxious in nothing. ‘Careful’ has lost its sense of ‘full of care,’ and we have no good word to take its place. The feeling which the apostle wishes to check is that undue care for the things of this life which puts this world and its concerns before the service of the Lord. It is the Martha-like anxiety which becomes troubled about many things, so as to forget the one thing needful.

but in everything by prayer and supplication. He is not content with exhorting, but he adds the means whereby his advice may be followed. In all things come to God, not merely in those which may be called strictly religious concerns, but whenever the over-anxiety is in danger of becoming too great. In ‘prayer and supplication’ the former applies rather to the outpouring of the soul, the casting off the load of care upon God; the latter to the requests which we feel prompted to make unto Him.

with thanksgiving. This must always be the Christian’s tone towards God. If troubles come, he must be thankful for the Father’s discipline, and strive to find out why they are sent; in joy, thanksgiving will surely come unbidden.

let your requests be made known unto God. The Christian’s forbearance is to be known unto all men, not published or paraded, but so visible in the life that it cannot fail to be recognised. The requests unto God are to be made known by open declaration. God knows men’s needs, but willeth that they should call upon Him.

Verse 7

Philippians 4:7. And the peace of God. A peace which shall banish all the over-anxious care, a peace which the world can neither give nor take away. Such peace did the Lord leave with His disciples, that their hearts should be neither troubled nor afraid.

which passeth all understanding. It is better than all that the wit of man or his forethought can devise, and therefore is to be preferred before the results which can be gained by over-anxiety for worldly things.

shall guard. The full sense is best brought out by this rendering. God’s peace shall stand as sentinel, and let no hostile disturbance enter.

your hearts and your thoughts. The heart needs such guardianship as the seat whence evil arises within man (Mark 7:21-22), and breaks forth into act, but even more than the guarding of this will God’s peace do for men. It shall keep watch over the thoughts too as they spring in the mind, and guide them aright

in Christ Jesus. The rendering ‘through’ of the Authorised Version is scarcely the sense, which seems much more forcibly expressed by the literal translation of the preposition. The life of the Christian is a life in Christ, he is to be one with Christ. This can specially come to pass in the heart and thoughts, and is brought about through the Spirit giving peace to be guard over them.

Verse 8

Philippians 4:8. Finally, brethren. He lingers in the conclusion as though the writing of his letter in some degree soothed his longing for them.

whatsoever things are true. Not merely in words only, but in thoughts and actions.

whatsoever things are honourable. Such as make men esteemed and revered by those with whom they live.

whatsoever things are just. Actions upright in all respects, whether concerning ourselves or others.

whatsoever things are pure. Unspotted chasteness in the whole behaviour.

whatsoever things are lovely. Which win favour from those among whom they are done; which gather men friends.

whatsoever things are of good report. Well spoken of among men, and so bringing a good name.

if there be any virtue. He adds this, that he may leave nothing out of his enumeration, ‘whatever virtue there be.’

and if there be any praise. The praise is a consequence of the virtue. He does not intend that the Philippians should follow after all that the carnal world might praise, but only what is praised because it is virtuous.

think on these things. The word is not, as will be seen from the notes, the common word for ‘think,’ but indicates the making up of a reckoning. He has been giving them a long list of virtues as constituents of the Christian character, and the employment of this word may have been suggested by the thought that they must add virtue after virtue, and so try to make the reckoning as complete as they could. Count up these things, he would say, for yourselves, and as you do so, try to cultivate the whole.

Verses 8-9

Precepts for the guidance of the Christian Life, 8,9.

With much emphasis of language, St. Paul urges on the Philippians that they be mindful of the various virtues which mark the Christian character, and carry out all that he has taught them either by word or example, and thus shall the God of peace dwell with them.

Verse 9

Philippians 4:9. The things which ye both learned, and received, and heard, and saw in me, these things do. Knowing how much more telling example often is than precept, the apostle points to his own teaching and life as they had known them. At first they had been scholars learning from him; after that, they became fellow workers and brethren, and were entrusted with a share of the duties of the church, and as he had received from the Lord, so they had received from him; beside which they were daily witnesses of his words and works, and to these he refers them as their practical standard.

and the God of peace shall be with you. This he says speaking out of the depths of his own experience. He knows that his own pursuit of the high standard which he is setting before the Philippians has brought him peace, even amid the greatest afflictions, through the indwelling presence of God. And his constant feeling of joy in the Lord, even in his present chains, is a telling evidence that the God of peace is with him.

Verse 10

Philippians 4:10. But I rejoice in the Lord greatly. The tense, which is rendered by the past in the Authorised Version, is probably only so in the original from the custom of the Greeks in writing letters. The apostle’s joy still continued, and did not grow less after their liberality had been some time with him; for it was over what it indicated in them, rather than over what they gave, that his heart was so full. And this he signifies here too, by speaking of his feeling as ‘joy in the Lord.’

that now at length ye have revived your thought for me. The metaphor is from a tree which in winter has been void of leaves and fruit, but when the season comes, breaks out again into greenness. Literally, ‘ye have caused your thought for me to bloom again.’ Having used this figure, St. Paul appears to feel at once that his words may be construed into a reproach, as though he were comparing them to a tree which had for a long time been barren, when fruit was expected from it. This he proceeds in a moment to correct

wherein ye did indeed take thought. As their conduct in times gone by had testified.

but ye lacked opportunity. The word ‘opportunity’ still keeps up the figure of the ‘season’ for fruits, and takes away the sense of blame which might have been in the former phrase. The tree cannot be in fault, which has not known the season yet for putting forth its blossoms. What may have been the circumstances which withheld from the Philippians the opportunity of ministering to St. Paul we cannot know. It may have been that they did not hear at once of his imprisonment, or that they found no fit messenger who could be trusted with their bounty, and trusted, too, to represent by his conduct their general sympathy with St. Paul’s affliction. But we have an indication here that the gift from Philippi did not come at once after the apostle’s arrival at Rome; and so this Epistle would be written, considering all that had fallen out since Epaphroditus came, rather towards the end than at the beginning of the imprisonment.

Verses 10-20

He rejoices ever their Liberality, because it is a proof of the fruits of their Faith, 10-20.

Now the apostle, before he closes his letter, turns once again to personal matters. He is rejoiced that they have once more manifested their care for him; not that they were remiss, but they had no fitting time or mode to show their care. Nor does he speak of this matter out of want, for his life has taught him to be content with little, and in the strength vouchsafed to him, he can go through every trial. But that they should share his affliction by ministering to it, was well, and in accordance with their former conduct towards him, which was unique among the churches. Yet the gift which they send is not what he specially desires, but the fruit, the increase in Christian love, to which such a gift bears witness. And now, says he, I have everything, and your gift is made not to me only, but to God, who will supply of His grace all your needs. Let Him therefore ever be glorified.

Verse 11

Philippians 4:11. Not that I speak in respect of want. This is not my cause of joy, that what was lacking unto me has been supplied by your bounty. It is not that I have felt want, and have been relieved from it.

for I have learned. The apostle uses three verbs: ‘I have learned,’ ‘I know,’ ‘I have found the secret,’ as though he would mark something progressive in his description of what his life as a Christian preacher has taught him.

in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. He had all with him that he needed in having Christ, and of this sustaining presence the apostle was often assured.

Verse 12

Philippians 4:12. I know how to be abased. This was his ‘imitation of Christ,’ of whom, using the same word he has before said, ‘He humbled Himself’ (Philippians 2:8), and be employs the same expression where he is speaking to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:7) of preaching the Gospel without being chargeable unto them. ‘Did I commit a sin in abasing myself. . . because I preached to you the Gospel of God for nought?’ In this sort of abasement he continually trained himself.

and I know also how to abound. In what way to use abundance, when it comes to me, as now, in such wise as to glorify God thereby. The abundance which the Philippians had supplied furnishes the apostle with many themes of joy and thanksgiving, and many words of edification for those who had shown their love to him.

in everything and in all things. In each particular state into which I may be brought, and the changes in my life have been so various that I may say I have known all states; in each and all I have learned the secret. The word is most commonly applied to the admission of persons into the heathen mysteries by an initiation. St. Paul takes the word which has much savour of the rites to which it has from of old belonged, and uses it (and so purifies it) for the expression of his own initiation. He would intimate thereby that there is a mystery, a paradox, in the Christian life, as he says elsewhere, ‘having nothing, and yet possessing all things.’

both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. He had known both lots, and was prepared for either, just as it pleased God to send.

Verse 13

Philippians 4:13. I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me. The insertion of ‘Christ’ in this verse is due to a marginal gloss, and has not the authority of the earliest texts. It is noteworthy how the phrases, ‘in Christ,’ ‘in the Lord,’ ‘in Him,’ abound in this Epistle, almost as much as the expressions of joy with which it is so filled. St. Paul has no glory but in Christ. ‘I can do all things’ is a proud declaration, but it is followed at once with the confession of the source whence the power is drawn. So ‘not I, but the grace of God which was with me.’ To Timothy (1 Timothy 1:12) he speaks of this power as specially given for the ministry of the Gospel. ‘Christ Jesus enabled me, appointing me to His service.’

Verse 14

Philippians 4:14. Howbeit ye did well, that ye had fellowship with my affliction. The apostle through the sustaining power of Christ would surely, he feels, have been supported to do the work for which the Lord was pleased to use him; yet it was good that the Philippians sent him aid, for it was a proof of their own stedfastness in the faith, and was a service rendered not to the apostle only, but to the whole cause of Christ through their example, and so was acceptable unto God. Thus a far higher end was served than the support of Paul the prisoner at Rome. And their action showed still more, that the Philippians suffered in the apostle’s suffering, took their part not only in supplying his bodily needs, but so far as sympathy could do it, in sharing his persecution.

Verse 15

Philippians 4:15. and ye yourselves also know. That he may more folly show how well he remembers their care of him, and that he meant no reproach by his words in Philippians 4:10, he proceeds to recall to them their former liberality in his need.

ye Philippians. The name stands emphatically in the original, and is inserted as a mark of deep regard, as he might say, ‘the church of my special joy.’

that in the beginning of the Gospel. When St. Paul first preached in Philippi was the beginning of the Gospel to them. He had visited Philippi at least twice afterwards (Acts 20:1-2; Acts 20:6), but at his first visit, when he was driven away to Thessalonica, his needs must naturally have been very great; for from prisoners treated as he and Silas had been, we may be very sure that the rude representatives of law had taken all they had.

when I departed from Macedonia. This seems to show, what we might almost have gathered from the Acts (Acts 17:14), that the congregation of Philippi took charge of St. Paul in his whole journey through Macedonia, and were the brethren who sent him sway to the sea, and conducted him, and supplied the means for his journey to Athens.

no church had fellowship with me. At Thessalonica he met with little success or sympathy, as far as we see from the history. Yet to this church was sent the first of his Epistles in order of time which we possess, and it was probably written before that Second Missionary Journey, in which St. Paul first visited Europe, came to an end. There must therefore have teen formed the beginning of a congregation, which through the labours of those left behind was nursed into greater strength. At Berœa there was more sympathy exhibited for the apostle’s teaching, but neither the Thessalonians nor Berceans helped him with their means.

in the matter of giving and receiving, but ye only. The phrase of the apostle is taken from the keeping of accounts. He pictures the transaction as a matter of debtor and creditor. They give, and he receives, and so there is an account on both sides on his of debt, on theirs of claim. And he is willing, nay glad, that it should stand so: he would not have it wiped out or lessened; for what they, of their free will, have given unto him, has been given unto God, and will receive its reward at His hands; and it is at the same time an outward sign of the work of grace and faith in their souls grace because they are conscious of how much they owe for the consolations of the Gospel; faith because they bestow, looking for nothing again, but giving unto the Lord.

Verse 16

Philippians 4:16. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need. The hurried departure of the apostle from Philippi gave little time for arranging a provision for his further support and journeying, and the condition to which he had been reduced by the scourging made it impossible that he should attempt, for a time at least, to work with his hands. We can therefore picture the congregation in Philippi gathering together what they could at once, and then sending, as they were collected, further supplies for the apostle’s needs. St. Paul writes literally, ‘even once and twice,’ but we need not take the sense to be that relief was sent on only two occasions. The meaning is well given by our ‘once and again.’ We can see from the history in the Acts, that communication was easy between the towns of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berœa.

Verse 17

Philippians 4:17. Not that I seek for the gift. He has been praising, and with good reason, the unique liberality of the Philippians, but he will not leave them in doubt about the main reason why he is delighted therewith. Had it only represented material aid, it would have found scant praise from him, but he knows that it is the indication of spiritual life and faith.

but I seek for the fruit that increaseth to your account. Once more he goes back to the accountant’s phrase. He cannot repay them what they have given. He can only keep in the records of his heart the memory of their much love. But the account is kept elsewhere for them, and to their benefit goes on increasing. In the word ‘fruit’ there is implied the interest on that which is laid out, and which God reckons on to their credit. So St. Paul, in the great Householder’s eye, is to the Philippians as ‘an exchanger,’ with whom, when they bestow their talent, it shall gain its usury, and they shall in no wise lose their reward. This, the treasure laid up in heaven for the faithful servants, is that which the apostle seeks for. Not theirs does he desire, unless as a sign that he has gained them for Christ.

Verse 18

Philippians 4:18. But I have all things, and abound. Your bounty has completely supplied my every need. As a gift, it has done what was intended to the full. I am filled, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you. And no doubt the zealous service of the messenger did more than anything else to make the apostle feel that all his wants were supplied. For with the material help there came a loving and enthusiastic brother, who felt that he was sent as the messenger of all the Church, and must strive to exhibit in his service the love of those whom he represented as well as his own.

an odour of a sweet smell. The picture is drawn from the offering of incense; and both to Jews and Gentiles this conveyed the idea that the powerful odour ascending up reached, and was pleasing unto, the Deity. On the offering of incense in the Jewish rites, cf. Exodus 30:8-10. Aaron was to burn incense morning and evening on the special altar, and make an atonement with blood there once in the year. The words of this clause are most nearly correspondent with Jdt 16:16 : ‘All sacrifice is too little for a sweet savour unto thee, and all the fat is not sufficient for thy burnt-offering.’ The figure is employed by St. Paul again, 2 Corinthians 2:15; Ephesians 5:2.

a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. This is the crowning feature in the character of their gift; it was a sacrifice on their part, and was well-pleasing not to the apostle only, but to Him who could repay the debt which St. Paul for his part could only make record of.

Verse 19

Philippians 4:19. And my God shall fulfil every need of yours. The thought is continuous. God, my God, is well pleased, and He will not forget your love shown to me His servant, but repay you in your need. So ‘and’ is better than ‘but,’ as Authorised Version. And God’s return shall be abundant, and always bestowed.

according to his riches. And if the Lord of all things be the bestower, how large must be the gift, a gift which looks on beyond what can be enjoyed in this world! The full return will only be gained when God Himself is seen and known.

in glory. This refers to the state in which the full recompense will be given. It will be bestowed by the ‘Father of glory’ (Ephesians 1:17), and will be a share of ‘the riches of the glory of His inheritance.’

in Christ Jesus. The union with Christ will constitute the chiefest reward. It is not ‘by’ Christ that the fulfilment will be wrought, but He Himself shall be the fulness of their joy.

Verse 20

Philippians 4:20. Now unto our God and Father be the glory. This is a more exact rendering of the original. The pronoun goes with both nouns, and ‘the glory’ is that which essentially belongs to God. It might therefore be well to make the verse a direct statement: ‘To our God . . . is the glory,’ etc., and hence it is His to bestow on those who have done here what is well-pleasing in His sight.

for ever and ever. Amen. The expression, as will be seen from the literal rendering, is very strong, and implies the endlessness of the glory which belongs, and should be ascribed, unto God.

Verse 21

Philippians 4:21. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. Give, that is, to all those who have begun to walk with Christ, my greetings in Christ Jesus. St. Paul could not know them all. Many converts would have been added to the church since his last visit. To none of these would he be deemed a stranger, and so he includes them all in the final salutation which specially belongs to the church as a whole.

The brethren which are with me salute you. This is a more limited greeting. The persons who send it are the immediate companions and fellow-travellers of St. Paul, who would probably be known to some persons in Philippi, especially to those at the head of the church, into whose hands Epaphroditus would deliver the letter. Among the number of the brethren we may probably include (besides Timothy) Luke, Aristarchus, Tychicus, and Epaphras; Philemon also, with John Mark, might be now among the number. Cf. Light-foot, Introduction, pp. 10, 11.

Verses 21-23

Greetings and Benedictions, 21-23.

He includes the whole church in his love, and sends, as a token of the oneness of all His servants in Christ, the salutations of the church in Rome, many of whom would doubtless be strangers at Philippi. Special greetings, too, are sent from the converts in the imperial house-hold.

Verse 22

Philippians 4:22. All the saints salute you. The greeting of the one church to the other. Though unknown, they were now brethren in Christ, and so could not be without interest in one another. There may have been some considerable degree of connection between the Roman colony and the metropolis, and the earliest members of the churches may have been from the same classes of society, but we have here the salutation of the whole Christian body sent because they had heard of the sister church and her zeal.

especially they that are of Cæsar’s household. We have nothing to guide us to a decision on what persons are here specially meant. The apostle may have been brought into converse with the highest as well as the lowest of the members of the imperial household. Yet it seems likely that the slaves and freedmen would be brought most within his influence, and those of whom he speaks have embraced Christianity. The reason why they specially send a salutation may be that they, more than any others, had heard of all the love which the Philippians felt toward the apostle, and had beheld, in the zeal and affection of Epaphroditus, a manifestation of the regard in which be was held by them. And these converts, brought into closest communion with St. Paul, would have special desire to show their sense of what had been done to give consolation to an affliction, which themselves would see, but could do little to lighten.

Verse 23

Philippians 4:23. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. This is the form of the closing benediction according to the oldest authorities. Such changes from the primitive text have been introduced by a desire to bring all the closing benedictions as nearly as possible into one form. Probably at first no more was done than to write the different form on the margin. After this, some future scribe, having a text and margin, considered it best to bring all into the same shape.

Bibliographical Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Philippians 4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/scn/philippians-4.html. 1879-90.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile