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Full text of "Lectures on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians : with a new translation.."

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LECTURES 



ON 



THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE 



TO 



THE PHILIPPIANS, 



WITH 



A NEW TRANSLATION. 



/ 
BY WILLIAM KELLY. 



LONDON: 
G. MORRISH, 24, WARWICK LANE, 

PATERNOSTER ROW, E.G. 
GLASGOW : R. L. ALLAN, 76, SAUCHIEHALL STREET. 



THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



I. Paul and Timothy, bondmen of Jesus Christ, to all the 
saints in Christ Jesus that are at Pliilippi with bishops and 
deacons. ^ Grace to you, and peace from God our Father 
and [the] Lord Jesus Christ. 

3 1 thank my God upon my whole remembrance of you, 
* always in my every supplication for you all making the sup- 
plication with joy ^ for your fellowsMp with the gospel from 
the first day until now, ^ being confident of tliis very tiling, 
that he who began in you a good work will complete [it] 
until [the] day of Jesus Clirist ; ' even as it is righteous 
for me to tliink this of you all, because ye have me in your 
heart ; and both in my bonds, and in the defence and con- 
firmation of the gospel, ye are all fellow-partakers of my 
grace. ^ For God is my witness, how I long after you aE 
in [the] bowels of Jesus Christ. ® And this I pray, that 
your love may abound yet more and more in full knowledge 
and all intelligence, '" that ye may approve the things that 
are excellent;* that ye may be pure and without ofi'ence 
against [the] day of Christ, " being filled with the fruit of 
righteousness that [is] by Jesus Christ unto God's praise 
and glory. 

" But I wish you to know, brethren, that my afiFairs have 
turned out rather for furtherance of the gospel, " so that 
my bonds have been manifest in Christ in the whole of the 
praetorium and to all the rest ; '* and that the most of the 
bretliren in [the] Lord, being confident by my bonds, more 
abundantly dare to speak the word fearlessly. " Some, 
indeed, also for envy and strife, but some also for goodwill, 

* Or, "prove the things that differ.'* 



IV PHILIPPIANS. 

preach the Christ; ^^ these, indeed, out of love, knowing 
that I am set for defence of the gospel ; ^' but these out of 
contention announce the Christ, not purely, thinking to 
stir up tribulation for my bonds. *« Wliat then ? Notwith- 
standing, every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ 
is announced, and in this I rejoice, yea, and I will rejoice; 
*^ for I know that this will turn to me for salvation through 
your supphcation and [the] supply of the Spirit of Jesus 
Christ, 2° according to my earnest expectation and hope, 
that in nothing I shall be ashamed ; but in all boldness, as 
always now also, Clirist shall be magnified in my body, 
whether by life or by death. 21 Por to me to live [is] Christ, 
and to die gain ; ^^ but if to live in flesh, this to me [is] 
worth while ; and what I shall choose I know not. ^^ But 
I am perplexed by the two, having the desire for departing 
and being with Christ, for it is very far better ; ^* but re- 
maining in the flesh is more necessary on your account ; 
25 and having tliis confidence, I know that I shall remain 
and abide with you all for your furtherance and joy of 
faith ; ^s that your boast may abound in Christ Jesus in me 
through my presence again with you. ^zOnly conduct 
yourselves worthily of the gospel of Christ ; that, whether 
coming and seeing you or absent, I may hear of your con- 
cerns, that ye stand in one spirit, with one soul striving 
together with the faith of the gospel ; 2* and not frightened 
in anything by the adversaries, which is to them a shewing 
forth of destruction, but to you of salvation, and this from 
God; 28 because to you has been given on behalf of Christ, 
not only the believing on him, but also the suffering for 
him ; 8» having the same conflict as ye saw in me and now 
hear of in me. 

II. If therefore [there be] any comfort in Christ, if any 
consolation of love, if any feUowsliip of [the] Spuit, if any 
bowels and compassions, * fulfil my joy, that ye may mind 
the same thing, having the same love, joined in soul, mind- 
ing the one thing: ' nothing in strifefulness, or vainglory, 
but in lowly-mindedness esteeming one another more excel- 



CHAPTER 11. ▼ 

lent tlian themselves ; * regarding each not his own things, 
but each also those of others. ^For let tliis mind be in 
you wliich [was] also in Christ Jesus; ^who, being* in 
God's form, thought it not an object of rapine to be on an 
equahty with God ; ^ but emptied liimself, taking a bond- 
man's form, being come in men's likeness ; ^ and being 
found in figure as a man, humbled himself, becoming 
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. ^ Where- 
fore also God liiglily exalted him, and gave liim the name 
that [is] above every name, ^^ that in the name of Jesus 
every knee should bow, of heavenly and eartUy and infernal 
[beings], " and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ [is] 
Lord, unto God [the] Father's glory. 

*2 So that, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not aa 
in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, 
with fear and trembUng work out your own salvation ; ^^ for 
it is God that worketh in you both to will and to work for 
his good pleasure. i*Do all things without murmuringg 
and reasonings ; ^^ that ye may be blameless and sincere, 
irreproachable children of God amidst a crooked and per- 
verted generation, among whom ye shine as lightsf in [the] 
world, " holding forth [the] word of life, for a boast to me 
in Christ's day, that not in vain I ran nor in vain laboured. 
i^But if also I am poured out upon the sacrifice and 
ministration of your faith, I rejoice, and rejoice with you 
all; ^*and in the same thing do ye rejoice, and rejoice 
with me. ** But I hope in [the] Lord Jesus soon to send 
Timothy to you, that I also may be cheered knowing about 
you. 20 For I have none like-minded who will have a 
genuine care about you ; ^i for they all seek their own 
things, not those of Jesus Cluist. " But the proof of him 
ye know, that, as a child a father, with me he served in the 
gospel. 2^ Him therefore I hope to send as soon as I shall 
see my concerns. ^* But I trust in [the] Lord that I also 
myself' shall come soon, ^sg^t I thought it necessary 

* Or, "subsisting." 
t Or, "light-bearers." 



VI PHILIPPIANS. 

to send unto you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow- 
labourer and fellow- soldier, but your messenger and mini- 
Bter to my wants ; ^^ since he was longing after you all and 
uneasy, because ye heard that he was sick. ^7 Por indeed 
he was sick near to death ; but God pitied liim, and not 
h\m only, but me also, that I should not have sorrow upon 
Borrow. 2* The more dihgently therefore I sent him, that 
seeing liim again ye may rejoice and I be the less sorrowful. 
29 Receive liim therefore in [the] Lord with all joy, and 
hold such in honour ; ^^ because for the work of Christ he 
was nigh even to death, endangermg liis life that he might 
fill up the remainder of your ministrations toward me. 

Ill, For the rest, my brethren, rejoice in [the] Lord. 
To waite these things to you [is] not irksome to me, but 
safe for you. ^ See to dogs, see to the evil workers, see to the 
concision ; ' for we are the circumcision that worship God 
in Spii'it and boast in Christ Jesus, and have no trust in 
flesh. •'Though I have a trusting even in flesh; if any 
other seem to trust in flesh, I more : * in circumcision of 
eight days, of [the] race of Israel, of [the] tribe of Ben- 
jamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, according to law a Pharisee, 
* according to zeal persecutmg the church, according to 
righteousness that [is] in law* blameless. ' But what things 
were gain to me, these I have counted loss on account of 
Christ. * But moreover also I comit all tilings to be loss 
on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ 
Jesus my Lord, on whose account I lost all tlungs and 
count them to be refuse that I may win Christ, ^ and be 
found in liim, not havmg my righteousness that [is] of 
law, but that [wliich is] by faith of Clirist, the righteousness 
of God on faith ; ^^ to know him, and the power of his 
resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being con- 
formed to his death, " if by any means I may arrive at 
the resurrection that [is] from [the] dead. '^ Not that I 
already received [it] or am ah'eady perfected ; but I pursue 
if I may also lay hold, for that also I have been laid hold 
* Or, " according to legal righteousness." 



CHAPTER IV. VU 

of by Christ. " Brethren, I do not reckon myself to have 
laid hold ; " but one tiling — forgetting the tilings behind, 
and stretching out to the tilings before, I pursue goalward 
unto the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ 
Jesus. ^^As many therefore as [are] perfect, let us mind 
this. And if in anything ye are differently minded, this 
also will God reveal to you. ^^ Nevertheless unto what we 
have attained, walk by the same [, mind the same]. "Be 
joint-imitators of me, bretliren, and mark those so walking 
as ye have us for a pattern. " For many walk, of whom I 
often told you, and now tell you even weeping, the enemies 
of the cross of Clirist, '^ whose end [is] destruction, whose 
God [is] the belly, and they glory in their shame, who 
mind the things of earth, ^o p^j. our commonwealth* has 
its being in [the] heavens, from whence also we await [as] 
Saviour [the] Lord Jesus Christ, 2' who shall transform our 
body of humiliation, conformed to his body of glory accord- 
ing to the working of his abOity also to subject all tilings 
to him. IV. So that, my bretliren beloved and longed for, 
my joy and crown, so stand in [the] Lord, beloved, 

^Evodia I exliort, and Syntyche I exliort, to mind the 
same thing in [the] Lord; ^yea, I beseech thee also, 
genuine yokefellow, help them, seeing that they shared my 
conflicts in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest 
of my fellow-labourers, whose names are in [the] book 
of life. 

* Rejoice in [the] Lord always : again I will say, rejoice. 
* Let your mildness be known to all men. The Lord [is] 
near. ^Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by 
prayer and suppHcation with thanksgiving let your re- 
quests be made known unto God. ^ And the peace of God, 
that surpasseth every understanding, shall keep your hearts 
and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. ® For the rest, brethren, 
whatsoever things are true, whatsoever noble, whatsoever 
just, whatsoever pure, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of 
good report, if there [is] any virtue, and if any praise, 
* Or, "conversation." 



Tin PHILIPPIANS. 

these things consider. ^ Those tilings which ye also learned, 
and received, and heard, and saw in me, do ; and the God 
of peace shall be with you. 

»<*But I rejoiced in [the] Lord greatly that now at length 
ye flourished again in thinking for my interest, wliile yet 
also ye did tliink but had no opportunity. " Not that I 
speak in regard to want ; for I learned in the circumstances in 
which I am to find competence. '^ I know also to be abased, 
I know also to abound. In everjrthing and in all tilings I 
am initiated both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound 
and to be in want. " In all tilings I am strong in him that 
empowereth me. "Nevertheless ye did well in sharing 
with my tribulation. *^ But ye also, O Pliihppians, know 
that in the beginning of the gospel, when I came out of 
Macedonia, no assembly communicated with me for an 
account of giving and receiving, unless ye alone ; *^ for even 
in Thessalonica both once and twice ye sent for my need. 
" Not that I am seeking the gift, but I am seeking the fruit 
that aboundeth unto your accoimt. '^ But I have all thinga 
and abound ; I am fuU, having received from Epaphroditua 
the things from you, an odour of sweet smell, a sacrifice 
acceptable, well-pleasing to God. ^^ But my God will fully 
Bupply all your need according to liis riches in glory in 
Christ Jesus, ^o Now to our God and Father [be] the glory 
unto the ages of the ages. Amen. 

2» Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren that 
[are] with me salute you. 22 j^ the saints salute you, but 
especially those of the household of Csesar. ^s xhe grace 
of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with your spirit. Amen. 



NOTES 



ON THE 



EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS. 



CHAPTER I. 



Let us seek, with the blessing of God, to develope a 
little the special features of this epistle on which we 
now enter. For the Letter understanding of what 
comes before us, we may also compare its character with 
that of others. Some of its features may be gathered 
from the very first verse. The apostle introduces 
himself in the simplest possible manner: " Paul and 
Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the 
saints in Christ Jesas which are at Pliilippi, with the 
bishops and deacons; grace be unto you and peace 
from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ." 
Elsewhere, even if he presents himself as a servant, he 
does not fail also to add his apostolic title, or some 
other distinction by which God had separated him from 
the rest of his brethren. But here it is not so. He is 
led of the Holy Ghost to present himself upon the 
broadest ground to the children of God in Philippi; 

B 



Z PHILIPPIANS. 

on this he could fully associate Timotheus with himself. 
Thus we may gather from the very start of the epistle 
that we are not to look for the wonderful unfoldings 
of Christian and Church truth, such as we have in 
Romans, Corinthians, or Ephesians, where the apostle- 
ship of St. Paul is most carefully stated. 

" Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an 
apostle." (Rom. i.) He was not an apostle by birth, 
but by the call of God. He adds further, that they 
were saints by the very same divine call whereby he 
was an apostle — " called to be saints," both through 
the sovereign grace of God. There was nothing in 
either that could have been an inherent claim upon 
God. There was deadly sin in both ; but the grace of 
God that had called them to be saints, had called him 
to be not a saint only, but an apostle. As such, he 
addresses them in the full consciousness of the place that 
Christ had given him and them, unfolding the truth 
from the very first foundations on which the gospel 
rests, the grace of God, and the ruin of man. Hence 
in that epistle you have something that more ap- 
proaches to a doctrinal treatise than in any other 
portion of the New Testament. God took care that 
no apostle ever visited Rome, till there were many- 
saints already there, and then He wrote by the Apostle 
Paul. The proud imperial city cannot boast of an 
apostolic foundation; yet, spite of that, man has put 
in the claim and pressed it with fire and sword. Paul, 
however, wrote in the fulness of his own apostleship 



CHAPTER I. 3 

and brings out the truth of God to them most care- 
fully, so that the very ignorance of the Roman saints 
was the occasion for the Holy Ghost to give us the 
most elaborate statement of christian truth which the 
word of God contains. By christian truth, I mean 
the individual instruction which the soul wants in 
order to the consciousness of its solid standing before 
God and the duties which flow from it. There the 
apostle writes expressly as an apostle. It could not 
be understood as a human composition. There must 
be the authority of God, claimed by the apostle ; and 
while he strengthens them in their position of saints, 
by the very same he makes room for that develop- 
ment of christian truth, for which the epistle is 
remarkable. 

In the Corinthians he addresses them, not merely as 
saints, as individual Christians, but as an assembly; 
and there also he asserts his apostleship. Does not 
this serve to illustrate the truth that there is not a 
word inserted or omitted in Scripture, but what is full 
of instruction for our souls if we are willing to be in- 
structed ? To the Corinthians he does not add as in 
Romans, '' a servant of Jesus Christ," but simply, 
" called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, through the 
will of God." There he carefully puts Sosthenes upon 
his own proper ground, as a brother, while he distin- 
guishes his own apostleship. The reason is obvious. 
The Corinthians were in a turbulent state, going so far as 
even to gainsay the apostleship of Paul. But God never 



4 PHILIPPIANS. 

lowers what He has given, because men do not like it. 
It was a part, not more of God's grace to Paul, than 
of his humble obedience before God, to act and speak 
as an apostle ; if he had not, he would have failed in 
his duty; he would not have done that which was 
essential for the glory of God and the good of the 
saints. Every thing is in its proper place. So if the 
Corinthians were questioning what God had wrought 
in and by the Apostle Paul, and the place He had 
given him in His wisdom, the apostle asserts it with 
dignity ; or rather, the Holy Ghost represents him only 
as an apostle to them, speaks of others but not as apos- 
tles, and addresses the Corinthians as " the Church of 
God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in 
Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every 
place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, 
both theirs and ours." None but one who knew what 
God is to His saints, and Ipw He holds to the power 
of His own grace, would have contemplated those 
at Corinth in such sort as this ; none but a heart 
that understood God's love to His own, and, alas ! to 
■what lengths they may be drawn aside where the flesh 
gains advantage — none but one admirably, divinely 
acquainted with his own heart and with God — could 
ever have addressed them in the language with which 
that epistle opens. But it was God who was writing 
through His apostle. And as the conduct of the 
Church on earth is the thesis of the Epistle to the 
Corinthians, He shows us there the principle of putting 



CHAPTER I. 5 

away and of receiving again, the administration of the 
Lord's supper, and its moral meaning; the working of 
the various gifts in the Church, &c. All these things, 
as being the functions of the Church, or of members 
of the Church, are found in the Epistles to the Corin- 
thians. But even in the exercise of gifts, it is gifts in 
the assembly. Therefore, there is no reference to evan- 
gelizing in 1 Cor. xii., xiv., because the evangelist's gift 
does not, of course, find its exercise within the Church. 
He goes, properly speaking, outside the Church, in 
order to exercise that gift. You have prophets, teach- 
ers, &c. All these were gifts of a still higher order 
and regularly exercised in the assembly of God. 

Here also we shall see how appropriately the preface 
falls in with the object of the Holy Ghost throughout: 
" Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to 
all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, 
with the bishops and deacons; grace be unto you, and 
peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." 
Now this is the only church where we have the "bishops 
and deacons" addressed as well as the saints. The 
reason may have been that it was, more or less, a tran- 
sition state. We have three things in the Church of 
the New Testament. The first is — apostles, acting in 
the full power of their gift and office. Then, besides 
deacons, bishops or elders (for these two mean the same 
officials, only called by a different name), apostolically 
appointed to the charge which the Lord had given 
them; the bishops having to do with that which is 



6 PHILIPPIANS. 

internal, the deacons with that which is external, but 
both of them local offices, while the apostle had his 
authority from the Lord everywhere. The Holy Ghost 
shows us thus the full regimen in the churches: that is 
to say, the apostles acting in their high place, who were 
called to establish the foundations of the Church practi- 
cally, and to govern it upon a large scale throughout 
the whole breadth of the Church of God upon earth; 
and beside them, these local guides, the bishops and 
deacons. 

Thirdly. The apostle was now separated from the 
Church, and hence no longer able to watch over the 
saints personally. He writes accordingly to those who 
had no longer his apostolic care, not only where they 
had not, but, in this case, where they had bishops and 
deacons. Yet in the latest epistles, where the apostle is 
filled with the sense of his speedy departure, there is 
not the slightest allusion to any provision for perpetu- 
ating these officers — not even when writing confiden- 
tially to one whom he had called on to ordain elders in 
Crete, nor to another invested with a charge at Ephesus. 

Thus, this epistle brings us to a sort of transition. 
It supposes the assembly in ecclesiastical order. But 
the apostle's absence in person seems to be intended of 
God to prepare the Church for the absence of apostles 
entirely. Thus God graciously gave the Church a kind 
of preparation for their removal from the scene. Prac- 
tically, even while Paul was on the earth, he was shut 
out from them, and gone from the scene, as far as 



CHAPTER I. 7 

regarded apostolic vigilance. The time was coming 
when there would be no longer apostolically appointed 
bishops and deacons. The Spirit of God was, it wonld 
appear, thereby accustoming the Church to find in God 
the only stable means of support when apostles would 
be no longer within reach of those who used to look to 
them and to claim their wisdom in their difficulties. 
But though the apostle was not there, they had the 
" bishops and deacons," not a bishop and several dea- 
cons, and still less bishops and presbyters (or, priests) 
and deacons, but several of the higher spiritual guides 
as well as of the lower. In those days a bishopric was 
not a great worldly prize, but a serious spiritual care, 
which, however excellent an employment, was no object 
of ambition or means of lucre. " If any man desire the 
office of a bishop, he desireth a good work ;" but it 
called for such self-denial, such constant trial by night 
and day, deeper even in the Church than from the world 
without, that it was by no means a thing for the best 
qualified in the Spirit to rush into, but to take up with 
the utmost gravity, as that to which he was called of 
God. For this among other reasons the Church never 
pretended to choose or constitute a bishop. It was in- 
variably by apostolic authority. One or more apostles 
acted in this — not necessarily Paul only or the twelve. 
It might be a Barnabas; at least we find in certain 
cases Paul and Barnabas acting together in choosing 
elders or bishops. But this may show what a delicate 
task it was. The Lord never gives it to any person 



8 PHILIPPIANS, 

except an apostle or an apostolic man (that is, a man 
sent out by an apostle to do that work for him, such as 
Titus and perhaps Timothy). But there the scripture 
account closes; and while we have provision for the 
Church going on, and the certainty of gifts supplied to 
the end, there is no means laid down for perpetuating 
the appointment of elders and bishops. 

Was there, then, forgetfulness of ordinary need on the 
apostle's, nay, on God's part ? For this is really what 
the matter comes to ; and he who supposes that anything 
of the kind was omitted in Scripture thus carelessly, in 
effect impeaches the faithful wisdom of God. Who 
wrote Scripture ? Either you resort to the wretched 
notion that God was indifferent and the apostles forgot ; 
or, acknowledging that Scripture flows from the highest 
source, you have no escape from the conclusion that 
God was intentionally silent as to the future supply of 
elders or bishops. But the God who knew and ordered 
everything from the beginning forgot nothing ; on the 
contrary. He expressly, in His own wisdom, left no 
means, in the foreseen ruin of Christendom, for con- 
tinuing the appointment of elders and deacons. Was 
it not then desirable, if not necessary, for churches to 
have such ? Surely, if we reason thus, apostles were 
as loudly called for as the lower officials. The fact is 
most evident that the same God who has seen fit to 
withhold a continuous line of apostles, has not been 
pleased to give the means for a scriptural continuance 
of bishops and deacons. How is it then that we have 



CHAPTER I. 9l 

no such officers now ? Most simiDle is the answer. 
Because we have no apostles to appoint them. Will 
you tell me if anybody else has got them ? Let us at 
least be willing to acknowledge our real lack in this 
respect : it is our duty to God, because it is the truth ; 
and the owning it keeps one from much presumption. 
For in general Christendom is doing, without apostles, 
what is only lawful to be done by or with them. The 
appointment of elders and deacons goes upon the notion 
that there is an adequate power still resident in men or 
the Church. But the only scriptural ordaining power 
is an apostle acting directly or indirectly. Titus or 
Timothy could not go and ordain elders except as and 
where authorized by the apostles. Hence when Titus 
had done this work, he was to comeback to the apostle. 
He was not in anywise one who had invested in him a 
certain fund to apply at all times where and how he 
pleased. Scripture represents that he was acting under 
apostolic guidance. But after the apostles were gone, 
not a word about the power acting through these or 
other delegates of the apostle. God forbid that we 
should pretend either to make an apostle or to make 
light of his absence ! It is more humble to say, We 
are thankful to use what God has given and whatever 
God may continue to give, without pretending to more. 
Is there not faith, and lowliness, and obedience in the 
position that acknowledges the present want in the 
Church, and that simply acts according to the power 
that remains, which is all-sufficient for every need and 



10 PHILIPPIANS. 

danger ? The true way to glorify God is not to assume 
an apostolic authority that we do not possess, but to 
act confiding in the power and presence of the Holy 
Ghost who does remain. It was distinctly the Lord 
Himself, who, working by the Holy Ghost, acted upon 
all the saints, and who put each of them in that parti- 
cular place in the body that He saw fit. It is not a 
question of our drawing inferences from a man's gifts 
that he is an apostle. To be an apostle required the 
express, personal call of the Lord in a remarkable way ; 
and without this there never was adequate ordaining 
power, personally or by deputy. 

As this may help to meet a question that often arises 
in the minds of Christians, and suggested by a verse 
such as we have before us, I have thought it well to 
meet the difficulty, trusting to the word and Spirit 
of God. 

The apostle, then, introduces himself and Timothy 
as " the servants of Jesus Christ to all the saints in 
Christ Jesus." It is not exactly " to the Church," as 
in writing to the Corinthians or the Thessalonians, but 
to " all the saints." We may gather from this that he 
is about to speak of what is individual rather than of 
what belonged to them as a public assembly ; but it is 
not, as in Romans, on the basis of redemption. He 
was going to enlarge on their walk with God, saluting 
them as usual with the words, " grace be unto you, 
and peace from God our Father and from the Lord 
Jesus Christ." 



CHAPTER I. 11 

Before he opens the epistle, the apostle breaks forth 
in thanksgiving to God. " I thank my God," an ex- 
pression often used in this epistle. It also is individual, 
knowing now the God in whom he trusted, besides 
being the expression of affection and of nearness. First, 
says the apostle, " I thank my God upon my whole re- 
membrance of you" (for such is the true force), ''always 
in every prayer of mine for you all, making request 
with joy." This leads me to make the observation, 
that nearness to God is always accompanied by the 
heart overflowing with the joy which His realized pre- 
sence necessarily produces, as well as by a spirit of 
intercession for the objects of God's love on earth. 
There may be at the same time the deepest exercise of 
spirit, and not without the keenest pain ; because in the 
presence of God every sin, sorrow, and shame, is more 
truly and fully felt. What God is, is known, and 
therefore perfect peace; what man is, and therefore the 
failure is realized and the dishonour brought on Christ 
is entered into by the Spirit. But here joy is the pre- 
valent and abiding feeling, the great characteristic effect 
of the presence of God imprinted on the soul, where 
the conscience is void of offence toward God and man. 

Not that even Paul could thus speak of every assembly, 
or every saint of God — far from it. His whole remem- 
brance of the Philippian saints opened the sluices of 
thanksgiving to God. Yet, from the beginning, there 
was need of prayer ; and he was continually supplicating 
for them all, and this with joy, " for your fellowship in 



12 PHILIPPIANS. 

the gospel from the first day until now." What a 
wonderful thing that a man, though he were the great 
apostle of the Gentiles, could so feel, and that 
there were here below saints of whom he could so 
write ! Alas ! in these selfish days w^e little know 
what we have lost, and whence we are fallen. He 
never prayed for these Philippians but with joy, and 
yet he was constantly bearing them before God. Had 
the apostle been here, could he have thought so of us ? 
Yet, wonderful as it was, it was the simple truth ; and 
it is wholesome for our souls to judge ourselves by such 
a standard. 

Another feature of the Epistle to the Philippians is, 
that the practical condition of the soul is here deve- 
loped more fully than anywhere else ; and this not so 
much doctrinally as in action and experience. The 
apostle lays bare his own motives as well as walk; and 
even Christ's also. Hence it is peculiarly in this 
epistle that we find displayed the exercise of individual 
christian life. Here we have the power of the Spirit 
of God acting in the soul of the believer, enabling him 
to realize Christ in the heart and path here below. 
But what gave rise to this character of instruction ? 
"What circumstances brought it out ? The absence of the 
apostle from the Philippians, and from his ordinary mini- 
stry, while he was imprisoned at Rome. It was not, as at 
Corinth, that his absence brought out their ostentatious 
vanity, and party spirit, and worldly laxity, and cjuar- 
rellings. It led the Philippians to feel the necessity of 



CHAPTER I. IS 

living increasingly with, and for, and to Christ. There 
was nothing for it but each one looking, and helping his 
brother to look, to the Lord Himself. This being the 
effect produced, the apostle was full of joy in thinking 
of them. He had been several years away, and exter- 
nally in the most dismal circumstances himself; but his 
joy was not dimmed one whit. On the contrary, there 
is not another epistle so full of actually tasted happi- 
ness ; and yet there never was an epistle written when all 
on earth seemed more clouded and filled with sorrow. So 
thoroughly is Christ the one circumstance that rules all 
others to the believer. When moving about and seeing 
both the devotedness of the saints, and sinners every- 
where brought to God, one can understand the apostle's 
continual joy and praise. But think of him in prison 
for years, chained between two soldiers, debarred from 
the work that he loved, and others taking advantage of 
his absence to grieve him, preaching the very gospel 
out of contention and strife; and yet his heart was so 
running over with joy that he was filling others with it! 
Such is the character of the Epistle to the Philippians. 
If there be a witness of the power of the Spirit of God 
working through human affections, through the heart 
of a saint on earth, in the midst of all weakness and 
trial, it is found here. It is not the picture of a man 
down under trying circumstances, for under them he 
never is, but consciously more than conqueror. Not 
that he never knew what it was to be cast down. He 
who wrote the Second Epistle to the Corinthians fully 



14 PHILIPPIAN-g. 

experienced all that whicli God in His grace made to 
be a kind of moral preparation for bringing ont the 
comfort that was needed by the saints then and at all 
times. But this epistle shows ns that there is not a 
single symptom of weariness any more than of pertur- 
bation of spirit. You could not tell from it that there 
was any flesh at all, though he was one who fully took 
the flesh into account elsewhere, as in Romans and 
Corinthians, where you have a fearful picture of what 
may be the condition of the Christian and of the Church. 
Not only in Philippians is there no trace of this, but 
neither is there the dwelling upon our privileges and 
blessings, as in Ephesians i. What we have is the 
enjoyed power of the Spirit of God, that lifts a man 
day by day above the earth, even when he is walking 
upon it; and this by making Christ everything to the 
soul, so that the trials are but occasions of deeper en- 
joyment, let them be ever so many and grave. This is 
what we specially want as Christians in order to glorify 
God; and this is what the Holy Ghost urges on us 
when we have entered into our proper christian birth- 
right, individually, as in Romans, and our membership 
of the Church, as in Corinthians, and our blessing in 
heavenly places in Christ as in Ephesians. Then comes 
the question, How am I enjoying and carrying out 
these wondrous privileges, as a saint of God upon 
earth? To suppose that this is a hard question, and 
gendering bondage, would be to impeach the perfect 
goodness of God, as well as to fall into a snare of the 



CHAPTER I. 15 

devil. What God desires is that we should be blest 
yet more than we are. He would thus make us more 
happy. The Epistle to the Philippians is one to fill 
the heart with joy, if there be an eye for Christ, He 
thanks his God for them for their " fellowship with the 
gospel from the first day until now." What going out 
of heart, and sustained vigour ! It is not now " the 
fellowship of His Son," as in 1 Corinthians, which indeed 
would be true of a Christian under any circumstances. 
So that, if Satan had contrived to turn a saint again to 
folly and sin, the Holy Ghost could remind him that 
God is faithful by w^hom he was called unto the fellow- 
ship of His Son. And can He have fellowship with 
unfruitful works of darkness? This is the reason why 
we should cry to God that, if He have called any to the 
fellow^ship of His Son, He would not allow the enemy to 
drag them into the dirt, but rouse their conscience to 
their grievous inconsistency. 

But there is more. Here it is their fellowship 
with the gospel, not merely as a blessed message 
they had received themselves, but in its progress, con- 
flicts, dangers, difficulties, &c. It does not necessarily 
mean preaching it, but, what was as good, or in itself 
even better — their hearts thoroughly in and with it. 
Need I hesitate to say that whatever may be the 
honour put upon those called to spread the gospel, to 
have a heart in "unison with the gospel is a portion 
superior to any services as such? Most simply and 
heartily were the Philippians' affections thus bound up 



16 PHILIPPIANS. 

with the gospel : they identified themselves first and 
last with its career. This was really fellowship with 
God in the spread of His own glad tidings through 
the world. The apostle valued such hearts especially. 
Nothing less than the sustaining power of the Spirit of 
God had so wrought in these dear Philippians. 

The way in which the gospel had reached them we hear 
in Acts xvi. It began with Paul in prison, when his feet 
were in the stocks, yet withal, in the midst of shame 
and pain, he and his companion singing praises to God 
at midnight ! And here we have him, if alone, again 
a prisoner, and the praises of God are again heard — un- 
wontedly in the great city of Rome. The Philippians 
were far away; hut he could hear them, as it were none 
the less, singing praises to God, even as he was singing 
praises to God for them. It was the same blessed fel- 
lowship with the gospel that had characterized not him 
only, but them too, from the very first day until now. 

But he goes further, and says, " Being confident of 
this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work 
in you, will complete it against the day of Jesus 
Christ." Remark the ground of his confidence. In 
Corinthians it is because God was faithful. In Gala- 
tians, where there was a still more serious trial, the 
apostle says he was in doubt of them, till he thinks of 
the Lord; and then he has his heart lit up with a 
comforting hope that they were Christians after all. 
People that were practically slighting (little as they 
thought or intended it, yet virtually slighting) Christ 



CHAPTER I. 17 

for worldly elements — he could hardly understand how 
such could be Christians. To turn from a crucified 
and risen Christ to the rites of an earthly religion is 
worse than bare earthliness, destructive as this is. 
Here it is another thing. His confidence is grounded 
not merely on what God is in character and counsel, 
but on what he saw of Christ, by the Holy Ghost, in 
them. Thinking of what they had been and were then, 
could he hesitate to recognize the evident handiwork of 
God through His Son ? He saw such an unequivocal 
enjoyment of Christ, and such an identification of 
interests with Him upon earth, that his confidence was 
not only in a general way that he would see them with 
Christ by and by, but in the solidity of the work of 
God in them all the way through. He who had begun 
in them a good work, he was sure, would complete it 
unto (or, against) the day of Jesus Christ. (Ver. 6.) 

" Even as it is meet" (or, "just") "for me to think thus 
of you all, because ye have me in your heart." (Ver. 7.) 
Such is the version given in the margin, which here pre- 
sents the right force of the verse. It was due to them, 
he means, not merely because he loved them, but he felt 
and had proof that they had him in their hearts. A 
blessed bond for hearts at all times, is the name of 
Christ and His gospel. How continually, too, one 
finds the state of the saints accurately measured, and 
set in evidence by the state of their affections toward 
any one that is identified with the work of God on the 
earth ! There will be the strongest possible attempt of 



18 PHILTPPIANS. 

Satan to bring in alienation of feeling and a turning 
of the saints against all such, whether absent or pre- 
sent. It was so in the days of the Apostle Paul: those 
who were simply cleaving to the Lord clave to him 
also. It was the very reverse of a mere fleshly feeling, 
which was sought by his adversaries, who, flattering 
others, were flattered in turn. Paul was perfectly sen- 
sible that the more abundantly he loved, the less he 
was loved, and what a handle this gave to Satan to 
turn away the saints from the truth. False teachers 
and men who may be really converted, but whose flesh 
is little judged, and whose worldliness is great, always 
seek to win persons as a party round themselves, by 
sparing the flesh and humouring the natural character, 
so as at last to have their own way without question. 
(2 Cor. xi. 19, 20.) The apostle's object was to win to 
Christ. But faithfulness called him often to tread on 
what was painful to one and another. As long as love 
flowed freely and Christ was looked to, it was well ; but 
when mortified feeling wrought, because they did not 
mortify their members on the earth, the tendency was 
constantly toward making parties, divisions, offences, the 
forerunners of yet worse evil. But if the apostle was 
one who scorned such a thought as gathering a party 
round himself, these saints had him in their hearts. 

He valued this love. How was it shown ? " Inasmuch 
as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirma- 
tion of the gospel, ye are all partakers of my grace." 
They were casting themselves, heart and soul, into the 



CHAPTER I. 19 

activities and sufferings of the grace of God in the 
apostle. Did his bonds malie them ashamed or sus- 
picious ? To have a friend in gaol never was of good 
report. Did they begin to say in themselves, he must 
have been doing something wrong because he was a 
prisoner? On the contrary, seeing that the Apostle 
Paul had come into the deepest suffering, they looked 
upon it as the highest honour. If he had gone up to 
Jerusalem, it was not to spare himself; and though 
this visit may have been a mistake, certainly it was one 
of which no person ought to speak lightly. It was a 
thorough self-sacrifice every step of the way. The 
apostle, though he was now, as a consequence, a prisoner 
in Rome, never yields to a spirit of regret, still less of 
repining, but regards all in the good hand of God as 
furthering the cause of Christ. Did not, for example, 
his own bonds turn to the praise of God? There he 
was perfectly happy, perhaps never so happy as thus 
bound. The Philippian saints understood what it was 
to draw from the divine spring; and consequently their 
hearts were with him in joy as well as sympathy. Did 
it weaken the apostle's love for them personally ? " God 
is my record how greatly I long after you all in the 
bowels of Jesus Christ." (Ver. 8.) Happiness as the 
Lord's prisoner dulled none of his warmest feelings of 
love toward them. 

But besides all this, his love for them made him 
intensely solicitous about their real wants, and he 
turns to the Lord for them accordingly. " And this I 



20 PHILIPPIAN8. 

pray, tliat your love may abound yet more and more, in 
knowledge and all judgment." (Ver. 9.) He wished that 
they should love (not less, but) with a fuller knowledge 
and an exercised intelligence. Love, or charity, is the 
basis, else there would be no building up: this being 
laid and abounding, full knowledge, instead of puffing 
up, guides and guards. The more the intelligence is, 
if it be real and spiritual, the greater the desire to 
grow in it. Those who do not see anything in Scripture 
as an object for constant search, and grow^th, and desire 
after more, are those, it is to be feared, who see scarce 
anything in it that is divine. Directly it is discerned 
that there is infinite light in it, desire to know more 
and more is a necessary consequence. But it is for 
practice. And this Epistle shows us spiritual progress 
in the apostle and in the saints more fully than any 
other, while it is the Epistle that shows us the strongest 
desire after going on. This is what we know from expe- 
rience. Whenever we begin to be satisfied with what 
we have got> there is an end of progress ; but when we 
make a little real advance, we want to make more. 
Such was the case with these saints, who are prayed for 
therefore, " That ye may approve things that are ex- 
cellent," &c. They needed to grow in intelligence, in 
order that they might be able to judge of things, 
and so lay hold of what was more excellent. 

" That ye may be sincere and without offence till 
the day of Christ." (Ver. 10.) Wonderful thought ! The 
apostle actually prays for these believers as if he con- 



CHAPTER I. 21 

ceived it possil)le that, growing n love and intelligence, 
they might walk the path of faith till the day of 
Christ without a single false step: Paul's marvel, 
perhaps, would have been that we should count 
it wonderful. Alas ! we know we fail day by day 
because we are unspiritual. Why do we let out a vain 
word or show a wrong feeling ? Because we are not 
realizing the presence and the grace of God. No pro- 
gress in the things of God will ever keep a person — 
nothing but actual nearness to Him and dependence on 
Him. What is a Christian, and what the condition 
and experience which Scripture recognizes for him here 
below ? He is by grace brought, in virtue of Christ's 
blood, into the presence of God ; who has a power within 
him, the Holy Ghost, and a power without him to lean 
upon, even the Lord Jesus Christ, and this uninter- 
ruptedly and always. Such is the theory : but what is 
the practice? As far as it is realised, the path is 
without a single stumble. And let us remember that 
such is the only sanctioned path for all saints. It be- 
longs not of right to some advanced souls. It is what 
every Christian has to desire. We can, therefore, 
readily understand how souls, hearing such thoughts as 
these, should embrace the idea of a state of perfection. 
But though the scheme is erroneous and utterly short 
of our true standard in the second Man, the last Adam, 
a Christian ought never contentedly to settle down in 
the thought that he must fail and sin day by day. 
What is this but calm acquiescence with dishonouring 



22 PHILIPPIANS. 

Christ ? If we do fail, let us, at least, always say, It 
was our own fault, our own unwatchfulness, through 
not making use of the grace and strength we have in 
Christ. The treasure there is open for us, and we 
have only to draw upon it, and the effect is a staid, 
calm, spiritual progress, the flesh judged, the heart 
overflowing with happiness in Christ, the path without 
a stumble till the day of Christ. 

More than this, let it be remarked, he prays that 
they might be filled with the fruit of righteousness, 
not merely such and such righteous acts in detail, but 
the blessed product of righteousness by Jesus Christ 
unto the glory and praise of God. (Ver. 11.) There 
is no thought of, nor room for, imposing the law here, 
which is rather shut out from being the proper standard 
for the Christian. There is another, who is both our 
new object and our rule, even Christ Himself, the image 
of God, the life and power of fruit-bearing for the be- 
liever. What a rule for our practical, every-day walk ! 

From the introduction, which bears ample witness of 
the apostle's love in the Spirit to the Philippian saints* 
of his confidence in them and his earnest desire for them' 
we enter on the first great topic on which he writes — 
his own condition at Rome. He felt that it was need- 
ful to lay it before them in the light of the Lord, not 
merely because of their afl'ectionate solicitude, not only 
again because of evil workers, who would gladly make 
it a handle against himself and his ministry ; but chiefly 



CHAPTER I. 23 

with the holy and loving end of turning it to their 
profit and even their establishment in the truth and 
diligence in the work and singleness of purpose in 
cleaving to the Lord. 

Indeed the apostle had every ground to expect a 
blessing through that which Satan was perverting to 
injure souls. It had already issued in good fruit as 
regarded the work of the gospel ; and he looks for just 
as good fruit as to all that concerned himself either in 
the present or in the future, whether by life or by 
death. Such is the confidence and joy of faith. It 
overcomes the world ; it realizes Christ's victory over 
the enemy. What can man, what can Satan, do with 
one who is careful about nothing, but in everything 
gives thanks? What can either avail to disconcert one 
whose comfort is in God and who interprets all circum- 
stances by His love, with unshaken reliance on His 
wisdom and goodness? 

Such an one was the apostle, who now proceeds to 
turn for the salvation of the saints at Philippi, so ten- 
derly loved, what the malice of Satan and of his instru- 
ments would be sure to catch at greedily as a means of 
alarming some and stumbling others, as if God, too, 
cared not for His Church or His servant. It is ex- 
perience we have unfolded rather than doctrine ; it is 
the rich, and mellow, and mature fruit of the Spirit in 
the apostle's own heart as he expounds to them the 
facts of his own daily life according to God. What a 
privilege to hear ! and how sweet to know that it was 



24 PHILIPPIANS. 

not written merely, nor so much, to inform ns of him as 
to conform the saints practically to Christ thereby! 
Blessedly as the lesson was learnt in the bonds that lay 
upon St. Paul, for our sakes, no doubt, it has been 
written. Therefore was the apostle inspired. Inspiration, 
however, does not exclude the heart's holy feelings. 
. " But I wish you to know, brethren, that my condition 
(literally, what concerns me) has turned out rather (i.e., 
rather than otherwise) unto the furtherance of the 
gospel ; so thatmy bonds have become manifest in Christ 
in the whole pretorium and to all the rest." (Ver. 12, 13.) 
The devil had hoped to merge the apostle in the com- 
mon crowd of criminals; but God, ever watchful for 
good, made it plain that His servant was a prisoner 
for no moral offence, but because of Christ. Thus the 
enemy's cunning device had ended in a testimony for 
the Saviour, and the gospel penetrated where before it 
was wholly unknown. His bonds were manifestly in 
Christ's cause. The grace of Christ was made known, 
and His servant was vindicated. 

But this was not all. For as the apostle tells them 
further, " Most of the brethren in the Lord, having 
confidence in my bonds, dare more abundantly to speak 
the word without fear." (Ver. 14.) Here was another 
step in the blessing, and of rich promise too. How 
unexpected of the enemy ! He, however, was on the 
alert, and if he could not silence the tongues that bore 
their testimony to the Saviour, would not fail to bring 
in mixed motives and tempt some to an unhallowed 



CHAPTER I. 25 

spirit and aim, even in a work so holy. It was not un- 
discerned of the apostle; neither did it disturb in the 
least his triumphant assurance that all things were 
working together for good, not only to them that love 
God but to the advance of the glad tidings of His grace ; 
so that this too he does not hide in sorrow or shame 
but cheerfully explains. " Some indeed also on account 
of envy and strife, but some also on account of good- 
will, preach the Christ ; these indeed out of love, know- 
ing that I am set for the defence of the gospel ; but 
those out of contention, proclaim the Christ, not 
purely, supposing to stir up tribulation for my bonds." 
(Ver. 15—17). 

The truth is that the apostle was then and there in 
the happiest enjoyment of that truth, which, not so long 
before, he had held before the saints at Rome. He was 
glorying in tribulations by the way, as well as in the 
hope of God's glory at the end ; and not only so, but 
glorying in (roc? through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. v. 
1, 2, 11.) His bonds but proved how entirely the 
liberty of grace is independent of all that man or Satan 
can rage against him who stands fast in it and has 
Him before his heart by whom alone it came and could 
be given. There was no blindness to the feelings of 
some whose zeal in no way concealed their malevolent 
desires; but nothing weakened the spring of his joy in 
God nor his thankful perception that, whatever man 
meant, the testimony of grace was going out widely and 
energetically, and Christ was held up and exalted more 



26 PHILIPPIANS. 

and more. For it was no question liere of doctrine ; 
there is no ground to think that even the contentious men 
did not preach soundly. It was the good God intended 
that occupied Paul's thoughts, whatever might be in 
theirs. Hence he breaks forth in that blessed expres- 
sion of an unselfish, full heart, " What then ? Not- 
withstanding in every way, whether in pretext or in 
truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice, yea 
and will rejoice." (Ver. 18.) How happy is the simpli- 
city, how deep the wisdom of faith, which thus sees in 
everything, even where flesh intrudes into the Lord's 
work, the defeat of Satan ! What a present blessing to 
his soul who, thus delivered from self-confidence on the 
one hand and from anxiety on the other, sees the sure, 
steady, onward working of God for the glory of Christ, 
even as by and by when Christ is displayed in His 
kingdom, all will be ordered to the glory of God the 
Father ! (Chap, ii.) Hence in the consciousness of the 
progress of gospel testimony and his own blessing 
through all that to which his imprisonment had given 
occasion, the apostle can say, " I know that this will 
turn to my salvation through your supplication and the 
supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ; according to my 
earnest expectation, and hope that in nothing I shall be 
ashamed, but, in all boldness, as always, now also Christ 
shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or by 
death." (Ver. 19, 20.) Imprisoned, he could not separate 
himself from the mighty conflict which was on foot in 
the world ; he knew victory assured, however hotly the 



CHAPTER I. 27 

enemy might contest. Salvation here means the final 
defeat of the enemy, and so it is throughout our epistle, 
never a past thing as in Ephesians ii. and 2 Timothy i. 9, 
but always future, as in chapters ii., iii., manifestly. In 
Philippians, as in Hebrews, &c., it is the full deliverance 
at the close. Both views are true, and each has its 
own importance. 

We have seen the expectation and hope of the apostle 
that in nothing he should be ashamed but in all bold- 
ness, as always, now also Christ should be magnified in 
his body whether by life or by death. His eye was 
thus on Christ, not for the beginning and the end only, 
but all the way. In the next verse, 21, he proceeds to 
vindicate the confidence of his heart. For, says he, 
" to me to live is Christ and to die is gain." To be 
spiritually -minded, the apostle tells us elsewhere, is life 
and peace. Here speaking of his own daily practice he 
shows he had but one aim, motive, object and business 
— Christ. And this was said, not at the start of his 
career, in the overwhelming sense of the Saviour's grace 
to His proud and self-righteous persecutor, but after 
long years of unequalled toil, peril, affliction without 
and sorrows within the Church. ** To me to live is 
Christ." No doubt, the principle was true frem the 
beginning of his eventful life as a Christian. Still as 
little do I doubt that it was emphatically and more 
than ever verified at the very time he was writing, a 
prisoner in the imperial city. 

It is remarkable to what debates and diflScuIties the 



38 PHILIPPIANS. 

verse has given occasion, thougli the language is plain, 
the construction unambiguous, and the sense as weighty 
as it is clear. " Interpreters (says a famous man) have 
hitherto, in my opinion, given a wrong rendering and 
exposition to this passage ; for they make this dis- 
tinction, that Christ was life to Paul and death was 
gain." Certainly this is not the meaning of the Holy 
Ghost who gave the apostle to say that to him to live 
(i.e., here below) is Christ and to die gain. That 
Christ was his life is most true, and the doctrine of 
Galatians and Colossians in passages full of beauty and 
interest, (See Gal. ii.. Col. iii.) But here it is no 
question of doctrine, standing, or life in Christ. The 
whole matter is the character of his living day by day, 
and this he declares is " Christ," even as the ceasing to 
live or to die, he says, would be " gain." And what 
does this writer substitute? " I, on the other hand, 
make Christ the subject of discourse in both clauses, so 
that He is declared to be gain to him both in life and 
in death ; for it is customary with the Greeks to leave 
the word tt/jo? to be understood. Besides that this 
meaning is less forced, it also corresponds better with 
the foregoing statement, and contains more complete 
doctrine. He declares that it is indifferent to him 
whether he lives or dies, because, having Christ, he 
reckons both to be gain." So Calvin, followed by Beza, 
who adds that " Christ" is the subject of both mem- 
bers and " gain" the predicate, and that the ellipse of 
Kaid is not only tolerable but an Atticism ! The reader 



CHAPTER I. 29 

may rest assured that a more vicious and violent 
rendering has rarely been offered. The truth is that 
" to live" is the subject, " Christ" the predicate of the 
first proposition, " to die" is the subject, " gain" the 
predicate of the second, as in the authorised version.* 
The real force is lost by this strange dislocation of the 
French reformers, and the true connection is broken. 

" For me to live is Christ and to die gain; but if to 
live in flesh [is before me], this to me is worth while; 
and what I shall choose, I know not, but I am pressed 
by the two, having the desire for departing and being 
with Christ, for it is very far better, but to continue in 
the flesh is more needful for you. And having con- 
fidence of this, I know that I shall remain and continue 
with you all for your progress and joy in your faith, 
that your boast may abound in Christ Jesus through me 
by my presence again with you." (Ver. 21 — 26.) Thus 
the apostle compares his continuance in life with 
dying ; the former were to him worth while, and 
what to choose he could not say. Thus there was 
perplexity from the two things ; for he certainly 
had the desire to slip all that anchored him here and 
to be with Christ ; whereas, on the other hand, he felt 
that his abiding here would be more necessary on ac- 
count of the saints. This is no sooner fairly before 
him than all is clear. There is no more pressure from 

* So tho Vulgate rendering, (" Mini enim vivere Christus est, et 
mori lucrum,") is correct, whereas that of Beza is as false as his 
comment (" Mihi enim est Christus et in vita et in morte lucrum"). 



30 PHILIPPIANS. 

two sides. He is confident; he knows he will remain 
and stay with them all for their progress and joy in 
their faith. How sweet and disinterested is the love 
which the Holy Ghost gives to the heart that is centred 
on Christ! Their spiritual interest turns the scale, 
whatever his personal desire. 

Sure I am that we have most of us lost much by 
failing to realise that to us too this path is open, and 
that it is the will of our God concerning us. Too little 
are any of us conscious of the weakening, darkening, 
deadening effect on our spiritual experience of allowing 
any object or desire but Christ. How often, for in- 
stance, it seems to be taken for granted that a biief 
season after conversion is not only the due time for first 
love, but the only time when it is to be expected ! In 
what bright contrast with all such thoughts stands the 
record we have read of the blessed apostle's experience ! 
Was it not meant for the Philippians? Is it not 
also for us? God never intimates in His word that 
the saint must droop after conversion ; that love, zeal, 
simplicity of faith must become increasingly poorer and 
weaker. There are dangers no doubt; but early days 
have theirs as well as later; and much passes muster at 
first through lack of spirituality. Where there is full 
purpose of heart in cleaving to the Lord, He gives, on 
the contrary, a deepening acquaintance wdth Himself. 
It is not, To me to live is for the gospel or even the 
Church, but, " To me to live is Christy To have Him 
as the one-absorbing, governing motive of the life, day 



CHAPTER I. 31 

by day, is the strength, as well as test, of all that is of 
God; it gives, as nothing else can give, everything its 
divine place and proportion. " To me to live is Christ" 
seems to me much more than to say, " To die is gain." 
For this is true of many a saint's experience, who could 
hardly say that. Yet there is not a clause more 
characteristic; it is the very pith of our epistle. 
Christian experience is the point. In Philippians, above 
all others, it is the development of the great problem, 
how we are to live Christ. As for Paul, it was the one 
thing he did; and so death, which naturally threatens 
the loss of this and that and all things, he, on the 
contrary, realized to be gain. This is the truth, and 
he enjoyed it. 

For years the apostle, a prisoner, had death before 
him as a not improbable contingency. Yet assuredly 
his eye is only the brighter, his strength not abated, but 
grown, his exercised acquaintance with God, His will 
and ways, larger than ever. Hence, instead of his 
thinking it was a question for the emperor to determine, 
he sees, feels, and speaks as if God had put it all into 
his own hands : just as in another chapter he says, " I 
can do all things through Christ (or Him) who 
strengthens me." Here you have him sitting in judg- 
ment on the point whether he is to live or die. He 
drops Ciesar altogether and views it as if God were 
asking His servant whether he was going to live or 
die? His answer is that it would be much better for 
himself to die, but that for the sake of the Church it 



32 PHILIPPIANS. 

would be expedient for him to live somewhat longer. 
Thus the decision of the question is eminently Christ- 
like, against his own strong desire, because his eye was 
single and he sacrificed self for the good of the Church. 
Accordingly he concludes, with wonderful faith and un- 
selfishness, that he is going to live. " I am in a strait 
between the two, having the desire for departing and 
being with Christ, which is very far better : nevertheless 
to continue in the flesh is more needful for you." In- 
asmuch as in his heart Christ thus predominated, who 
certainly was not balancing questions about His own 
gain, but other people's good ; so Paul, therefore, 
thinks of and in His mind and says, " Having this 
confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with 
you all for your furtherance and joy of faith : that your 
boast may be more abundant in Jesus Christ through 
me by my presence with you again." I do not know a 
more astonishing and instructive proof of the power of 
the Spirit of God, in giving a man fellowship practi- 
cally with God. The flesh being broken and judged in 
him, he could enter into the mind and feelings of 
God, and Christ's heart about the Church. Was it 
really desirable for the Church that Paul should abide? 
Then, without hesitation and without fleshly feeling, he 
can say, Paul will abide. Thus he settles the matter 
and speaks calmly and confidently of seeing them again. 
Yet is it a man in prison, exposed to the most reckless 
of Roman emperors, who thinks, decides, says all this ! 
At the same time he adds, " Only let your conver- 



CHAPTER I. 33 

sation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ; that 
whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may 
hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, 
with one mind, striving together for (or rather with) 
the faith of the gospel." His heart's desire, when he 
came and saw them again, was to see them all unitedly 
happy, and not only this flowing in of Christ, but such 
a flowing out of Him that their hearts should be free 
to spread the knowledge of the gospel everywhere. 

Next, he wished to hear that they were frightened 
in nothing by the adversaries, which is to them a proof 
of destruction, but " of your salvation, and this from 
God, because unto you it is given, in the behalf of 
Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer 
for his sake." From this Scripture it is evidently of 
great moment spiritually that we should keep up in 
our souls good courage in face of the foe and confidence 
in God, not only for our own sake but for others. 
There is no testimony more gracious, nor more solemn 
to our adversaries. But how blessed to know that 
the day comes when, if we are walking with God, every 
opposer, no matter how proud, will disappear; when all 
the malice, and wiles, and power that can be brought 
to put the saints down will only elicit the power of 
God in their favour! Faith knows all the power of 
God is its own before that day comes. It is of the 
greatest importance that we should cherish calm, and 
lowly, and patient confidence in God, and that the heart 
should rest in His love ; but this can never be, unless 

D 



34 PHILIPPIANS. 

there be present subjection to Christ and enjoyment of 
what He is towards our souls. To their adversaries this 
boldness was a demonstration of perdition, as well as of 
their own final triumph over all that Satan could aim 
at their hurt. God intended this ; because it was 
given them in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on 
Him, but also to suffer for His sake. Paul, who was 
suffering for Christ's sake at that very moment, was 
thoroughly happy in it, and commends the place to 
them. It was a good gift of grace: he could say, " The 
lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places," though he 
was a prisoner. They had the same conflict as they 
saw in him when a prisoner at Philippi and now heard 
of in Rome. May our own souls prize this blessed 
place, if the Lord vouchsafe it in any measure to us 1 



>>©4c 



CHAPTER II. 

We saw, in chapter i., how refreshing to the apostle 
was the state of the Philippians, looked at as a whole; 
for, undoubtedly, there was that which needed correc- 
tion in particular cases. Still their practical condition, 
and more especially as shown in the fellowship of the 
gospel, drew out powerfully his affections to them, as 
indeed their own were drawn out. Now this very 



CHAPTER IT. 35 

fellowship bore witness to the healthful and fervent 
state of their souls towards the Lord, His workmen 
and His work. For fellowship with the gospel is a 
great deal more than merely helping on the conversion 
of souls. Babes that are just born to God, souls that 
have made ever so little progress in the truth, are ca- 
pable of feeling strong sympathy with the calling in 
of the lost, with the glad tidings flowing out to souls, 
with the joy of newly quickened and pardoned souls 
brought to the knowledge of Christ. But there was 
much more implied in the Philippians' " fellowship with 
the gospel." It is plain that the bent and strength of 
their whole life was that of persons who thoroughly 
identified themselves with its conflicts and sorrows as 
well as its joys. There was nothing in them so to 
arrest and occupy the Spirit of God, that they could 
not be in the very same current with Himself, in the 
magnifying of Christ and the blessing of souls. 

And thus it was that they were privileged to have 
fellowship with the apostle himself. " If there be 
therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of 
love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and 
mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having ; 
the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." All I 
these things had been in action, and the apostle viewed 
each little offering to him, while he was in prison for 
the gospel's sake, in the light of Christ's holy, spiritual 
affections which had dictated it. In the case of the 
Philippians, it would appear that it was not merely the 



36 PHILIPPIANS. 

way in which the grace of God values the service of 
the saints. He interpreted it, not according to the 
thoughts of the saints, but according to His own, see- 
ing, therefore, far deeper value in it than the human 
spirit had which had been led of the Holy Ghost in 
the service. 

Take, for instance, Mary in the gospels, and the 
way in w^hich the blessed Saviour viewed her act of 
devotedness in spending upon His person the box of' 
precious ointment which she had reserved for that time. 
Where there is singleness of eye, there is One guiding 
the saints though they may not know it distinctly. 
There is no ground to suppose Mary distinctly appre- 
hended that she was anointing the Lord for His burial ; 
but His divine grace gave it that value. The love that 
was in her heart felt instinctively that some awful 
danger threatened Him ; that a heavy dark cloud was 
gathering over Him, which others feebly, if at all, en- 
tered into. In truths God was in this intuition of 
divine affection. But you may see something, perhaps, 
analogous in the providential care which God by times 
exercises; and there is «ven more than providence in 
the care of a christian parent with a child. There is a 
feeling of undefined but real uneasiness — the Spirit of 
God giving a certain consciousness of peril — and this 
often calls forth the affection of the parents to the 
child in such sort as to avert the imminent danger or 
alleviate the suffering in the highest degree. In a still 
higher sense this was true in the dealings of God 



CHAPTER II. " 37 

with Mary. Alas ! little indeed were tlie disciples in 
the secret, though they ought to have known what was 
impending more than any others, had it been a question 
of familiar intercourse and knowledge. Certainly they 
had larger opportunities than ever Mary enjoyed ; but 
it is far from being such knowledge that gives the 
deepest insight — far from being earthly circumstances 
that account for the insight of love. There is a cause 
which lies deeper still — the power of the Spirit of God 
acting in a simple, upright, loving heart, that feels 
intensely for the object of its reverence, for Christ 
Himself. If our eye is to our Lord, we may be sure 
that He will work with and in us as well as for us. 
He will not fail to give us the opportunity for serving 
Him in the most fitting manner and at the right mo- 
ment. Mary had this box we know not how long; but 
there was One who loved Mary, and who wished to 
vouchsafe her the desired privilege of showing her love 
to His Son. He it was who led Mary (despised as 
indifferent by her believing but bustling sister) at this 
very time to bring out her love. Thus, besides ordinary 
intelligent guidance, there may be guidance under the 
skilful hands of Him who cares for us, and now acts 
yet more intimately by His Spirit dwelling in us. 

In the case of the Philippians there was the con- 
scious fellowship of the Spirit; there was remarkable 
devotedness and spirituality among tliem, so that God 
could put particular honour upon them. In this respect 
they are in striking contrast not only with the Gala- 



38 PHILIPPIANS. 

tians but the Corinthians also. Not but these too were 
born of God ; there was no difference in this. We are 
expressly told the Corinthians were called into the 
fellowship of the Son of God ; such they were as truly 
as the Philippians were. It is of them that the Holy 
Ghost says, " God is faithful by whom ye were called 
unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." 
But there was a mighty difference here. There was 
not the same fellowship with the gospel among the 
Corinthians, and therefore it may be that the apostle 
desires that they might have " the communion of the 
Holy Ghost." (2 Cor. xiii. 14.) Assuredly till then it 
had been enjoyed by them scantily. (Comp. 1 Cor. iii., 
iv., &c.) But in looking at the Philippians he could 
say, " If there be therefore any consolation [or rather 
encouragement] in Christ, if any comfort of love, if 
any fellowship of the Spirit," &c. There was all this 
practical display of Christ so fully at work among 
them ; such tenderness in their spirit, such entering 
into the mind of God touching the mighty conflict in 
which the apostle was engaged, that they identified 
themselves heart and soul with the apostle. He says^ 
therefore. If there be all this (which he doubted nov 
but assumed), " fulfil ye my joy that ye be likeminded. 
having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.'* 
Here was their failure : they were not sufficiently of ont 
mind; nor were they cherishing, as they should, the 
same love. Hence there was a measure of dissension 
among them at this time. True, it may seem to have 



CHAPTER II. oy 

been about tbe work of the Lord, in which they were 
truly zealous. Sorrowful as this was in itself, still this 
was not so low and unworthy as mere squabbling with 
one another, such as we hear of among the Corinthians. 
Not that it was to be treated lightly, but even the very 
failure and the cause of it proved that they were in a 
more spiritual state than the Corinthians. 

In the same way you may find among the children of 
God now that which answers to the trial of an Abraham 
or of a Lot. Just Lot, dwelling among the wicked in the 
cities of the plain, was vexed from day to day with their 
unrighteous and ungodly deeds. What unbridled 
wickedness filled the scene which first attracted his too 
covetous eyes ! Strange that a saint could find his 
home there for a season ! Abraham failed, no doubt; 
but what a contrast even between the failure of an 
Abraham and of a Lot ! When the latter, through 
unwatchfulness, fell into a sin which led the way to 
worse, it was not only a painful blot, but the conse- 
quences of it remained for ages to be adversaries to the 
people of God. Out of the miserable circumstances 
which closed his life, we see a shameful result and a 
constant afQiction. Indeed the Israel of God will prove 
it yet in the latter days. On the other hand, Abraham 
had his trials and failures, and surely the Lord did 
notice and rebuke them in His righteous government. 
But though this shows that there is nothing worthy of 
God in man, that no good thing dwells in the natural 
man even of a saint, that the flesh is fleshly, let it be 



40 PHILIPPIAN8. 

in whom it may; yet, for all that, the character of 
Abraham's very slips and unfaithfulness tells us that 
he was in a spiritual condition wholly different from his 
nephew Lot. 

Just so it was, in measure, with the Corinthians 
and the Philippians. In the latter there was a want of 
unity, of judgment, and mind, but they were filled with 
fervour of Spirit; they were carried out in earnest 
wishes for the gospel and the good of God's people. 
Thus, even where you find the service of the Lord the 
prominent thought, there is always room for the flesh 
to act. There is nothing like having Christ Himself 
for our object. This was what Paul knew and lived 
in, and wished them to know better. Service brings 
in room for the human mind and feelings and energy. 
We are in danger of being occupied unduly with that 
which we do or what we suffer. Behind it lurks also 
the danger of comparison, and so of envy, self-seeking, 
and strife. How blessedly the apostle in chapter i. laid 
before them his feeling in presence of a far deeper, wider, 
and more painful experience, we have seen already. It 
appears there was something of this kind at work among 
the Philippians. Accordingly he here intimates to them 
that there was something necessary to complete his joy. 
He would see them of the same mind, and this by hav- 
ing not the same notions but the same love, with union 
of soul minding one thing. His owa spiiit was enjoy- 
ing Christ increasingly. The earth, and man upon it, 
was a very little thing before his eyes ; the thoughts of 



CHAPTER IT. 41 

heaven were everything to him, so that he could say, 
*' To me to live is Christ." This made his heart sensitive 
on their account, hecause there was something short of 
Christ, some objects besides Hira in thera. He desires 
fulness of joy in them. The Spirit of God gives hearts, 
purified by faith, a common object, even Christ. What 
he had known in them made him the more alive to that 
which was defective in these saints. He therefore makes 
a great deal of what he might have withheld if writing 
to others. In an assembly where there was much that 
dishonoured God, it would be useless to notice every 
detail. Wisdom would apply the grace of Christ to 
the overwhelming evils that met one's eye: lesser things 
would remain to be disposed of afterwards by the same 
power. But in writing to saints in a comparatively 
good state, even a little speck assumes importance in 
the mind of the Spirit. There was something they 
might do or remedy to fill the cup of the apostle's joy. 
How gladly he would hear that they shone in unity of 
spirit ! He owned and felt their love : would that they 
cultivated the same mutually ! How could they be more 
likeminded ? If the mind were set upon one thing, 
they would all have the same mind. God has one 
object for His saints and that object is Christ. With 
Paul every aim, every duty was subordinate to Him; 
as it is said in the next chapter, " this one thing 
I do:" so here he wished to produce this one, common 
mind in the Philippian saints. 

He then touches on that which they had to watch 



42 PHILIPPIANS. 

against. " Let nothing be done through strife or vain- 
glory." It is humbling, but too true, that the prin- 
ciple of the grossest evil outside works even among the 
saints of God. The traces might be so faint that none 
but an apostle's eye could perceive them. But God 
enabled His servant to discern in them what was not of 
Christ. Hence he sets before them the dangers alike 
of opposing one another and of exalting self, strife, 
and vain-glory. Oh ! how apt they are to creep in 
and sully the service of God ! The chapter before 
bad shown some elsewhere taking advantage of the 
apostle's bonds to preach Christ of envy and strife. 
And there he had triumphed by faith and could rejoice 
that, any how, Christ was preached. Now he warns 
the beloved Philippians against something similar in 
their midst. The principle was there, and he does not 
fail to lay it upon their heart. 

How is the spirit of opposition and self-exaltation to 
be overcome? " In lowliness of mind let each esteem 
other better than themselves." What a blessed 
thought ! and how evidently divine ! How could strife 
or vain-glory exist along with it ? When one thinks 
of self, God would have one to feel our own amazing 
shortcomings. To have such sweet and heavenly privi- 
leges in Christ, to be loved by Him, and yet to make 
such paltry returns as even our hearts know to be 
altogether unworthy of Him, is our bitter experience as 
to ourselves. Whereas when we look at another, we 
can readily feel not only how blessedly Christ is for 



CHAPTER II. 43 

him, and how faithful is His goodness, but love leads us 
to cover failings, to see and keep before us that which 
is lovely and of good report in the saints — if there be any 
virtue and if there be any praise, to think on these things. 
This appears to lie at the root of the exhortation, and 
it is evident that it thus becomes a simple and happy 
duty. " In lowliness of mind let each esteem other 
better than themselves." In short, it is made good, on 
the one hand, by the consciousness of our own blessing 
through grace in presence of our miserable answer to it 
in heart and way ; and on the other hand, by the thank- 
ful discernment of another beheld as the object of the 
Lord's tender love and all its fruits, without the 
thought of drawbacks. Of their evil the Lord would 
not have us to think, but of what Christ is to and in 
them. For here there is no question of discipline, but 
of the ordinary, happy state of God's children. Certainly 
the Philippian assembly consisted of men who were 
full of simple-hearted earnestness in pushing out the 
frontiers of Christ's kingdom and whose hearts were 
rejoicing in Him. But toward one another there was 
the need of greater tenderness. 

Besides, if one, more than others, was abused every- 
where, it was St. Paul. He was pre-eminently treated 
as the off-scouring of all things. All Asia was turned 
away from him. Where was there a man to identify 
himself with his cause? Evidently this was the result 
of a faithful, self-denying, holy course in the gospel, 
which from time to time offended hundreds even of the 



44 PHILTrPTA-N'S. 

children of God. He could not but touch the worldli- 
ness of one, the flesh of another. Above all, he roused the 
judaizers on one hand, and on the other all schismatics, 
heretics, &c. All this makes a man dreaded and dis- 
liked ; and none ever knew more of this bitter trial 
than the Apostle Paul. Bat in the case of the 
Philippians there was the contrary effect. Their hearts 
clave to him so much the more in the hour of his im- 
prisonment at Kome, when there was this far sorer 
sorrow of an amazing alienation on the part of many 
who had been blessed through his means. This faith- 
ful love of the Philippians could not but rejoice the 
apostle's heart. It is one thing to indulge a fleshly de- 
pendence upon an instrument of God, quite another to 
have the same interests with him, so as to be knit 
more closely than ever in the time of sorrow. This 
was fellowship indeed, as far as it went; and it did go 
far, but not so far as the apostle desired for them. He 
thought of their things, not of his merely ; and ac- 
cordingly, he now gives them another word : " Look 
not every man on his own things, but every man also 
on the things of others." If they loved him so much, 
why not love each other more than they did ? Why so 
occupied with their own thoughts? 

This egotism was another fertile source of evil: We 
all know that we are apt to value qualities which we 
possess ourselves and to slight those of others. This is 
unjudged nature, for, where there is power of love, it 
Tvorks in a direction quite the contrary. There would 



CHAPTER II. 45 

be the consciousness of how weak and unworthy we 
are, and the little use we make of what God gives 
us ; there would be the valuing what we see in another, 
that we have not got ourselves. How good for the 
Church to have all this and far more ! 

There he brings in what is the great secret of deliver- 
ance from all these strivings of potsherd nature — " the 
mind that was in Christ Jesus." ( Ver. 5.) In this chapter 
you will observe it is Christ as He was ; in the next it 
is Christ as He is. Here it is Christ coming down, 
though of course He is thereon exalted. The point 
pressed is that we should look at the mind of Christ that 
was displayed in Him while here below. In chapter iii. it 
is not so much the mind or moral purpose that was in 
Him, as it is His person as an object, a glorious attrac- 
tive object now in heaven, the prize for which he was 
running, Christ Himself above, the kernel of all his 
joy. Here (chap, ii.) it is the unselfish mind of love 
that seeks nothing of its own, but the good of others 
at all costs : this is the mind that was in Christ. 

The apostle proceeds to enforce lowliness in love, by 
setting the way of the Lord Himself before their eyes. 
This is the true " rule of life" for the believer since 
His manifestation ; not even all the written word alone, 
but that word seen livingly in Christ, who is made a 
spring of power by the Holy Ghost to his soul that is 
occupied with Him. " Let this mind be in you which 
was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of 
God, thought it not robbery to be equal [on equality] 



46 PHILIPPIANS. 

"with God ; but made himself of no reputation [emptied 
himself " &c. (Ver. 5—7.) 

What an illustrious testimony to the true, proper, 
intrinsic deity of Christ ! It is all the stronger, be- 
cause, like many more, it is indirect. Who but a 
person consciously God in the highest eense could 
adopt, not merely the unhesitating assumption of such 
language as " Before Abraham was, I am," or " I and 
my Father are one," but the no less real, though hidden, 
claim to Godhead which lies under the very words which 
unbelief so eagerly seizes against Him ? Where would 
be the sense of any other man (and man He surely was 
and is) saying, " My Father is greater than I ?" A 
strange piece of information in the mouth (I will not 
say of a Socrates or a Bacon merely, but) of a Moses 
or a Daniel, a Peter or a Paul; but in Him, how suit- 
able and even-needful, yet only so because He was truly 
God and equal with the Father, as He was man, the 
sent One, and so the Father was greater than He ! 
Take again that striking declaration in John xvii. 3, 
" This is life eternal, that they might know thee the 
only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." 
Of course He was man. He deigned to be born of 
woman : else unbelief would have no ground of argu- 
ment on that score. But what mere man ever dared, 
save the vilest impostor, calmly to class himself with 
God, yea, to speak of the knowledge of the only true 
God, and of him, as life everlasting ? So, again, the 
scripture before us. Nothing can be conceived more con- 



CHAPTER II. 47 

clusively to prove His own supremely divine glory, than 
the simple statement of the text. Gabriel, yea, the 
archangel Michael, has no higher dignity than that of 
heing God's servant, in the sphere assigned to each. 
The Son of God alone had to empty Himself, talcing 
the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of 
men. All others were, at best, God's servants, and 
nothing could increase that dignity for them or lift 
them above it. Of Christ alone it was true, that He 
took a bondservant's form ; and of Him alone could it 
be true, because He was in the form of God. In this 
nature He subsisted originally, as truly as He received 
a bondman's; both were real, equally real; the one in- 
trinsic, the other that which He condescended to assume 
in infinite grace. 

Nor was this all. When " found in fashion as a man, 
he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, 
even the death of the cross." (Ver. 8.) This is another 
distinct step in His descent of grace to glorify God. 
First, it was humiliation for Him to become a ser- 
vant and a man ; next, being man, He humbled 
Himself as far as death in His obedience (the 
blessed converse of Adam's disobedience unto death). 
And that death w^as the extreme of human shame, 
besides its atoning character. Yet must we carefully 
bear in mind that it would be as impossible for a 
divine person to cease to be God, as for a man to be- 
come a divine person. But it was the joy and triumph 
of divine grace that He who was God, equally with the 



48 PHILIPPIANS. 

Father, when about to become a man, did not carry 
down the glory and power of the Godhead to confound 
man before Him, but rather emptied Himself: contrari- 
wise perfection morally was seen in this. Thus He 
was thoroughly the dependant man, not once falling 
into self-reliance, but under all circumstances, and in 
the face of the utmost difficulties, the very fullest 
pattern and exhibition of One who waited upon God, 
who set the Lord always before Him, who never 
acted from Himself, but whose meat and drink it was 
to do the will of His Father in heaven ; in a word, He 
became a perfect servant. This is what we have here. 

Christ is said to have been in the form of God ; that is, 
it was not in mere appearance, but it had that form, and 
not a creature's. The form of God means that He had 
His and no other form. He was then in that nature 
of being, and nothing else; He had no creature being 
whatever; He was simply and solely God the Son. He, 
subsisting in this condition, did not think it a robbery to 
be equal with God. He was God ; yet, in the place of 
jnan which He truly entered, He had, as was meet, the 
willingness to be nothing. He made Himself of no 
reputation. How admirable ! How magnifying to God ! 
He put in abeyance all His glory. It was not even in 
angelic majesty that He deigned to become a servant, 
but in the likeness of men. Here we have the form of 
a servant as well as the form of God, but that does not 
in anywise mean that He was not really both. In truth 
as He was very God, so He became the veriest servant 



CHAPTER II. 49 

that God or man ever saw. But we may go yet farther. 
" And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled 
himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death 
of the cross." Mark that. There are two great stages 
in the advent and humiliation of the Son of God. The 
first is in respect of His divine nature or proper deity : 
He emptied Himself. He would not act on a ground 
which exempted Him from human obedience, when He 
takes the place of servant here below. Indeed, we may 
Bay that He would act upon what God the Father was 
to Him, not upon what He the Son was to the Father. 
On the one hand, though He were a Son, He learned 
obedience through the things that He suffered. On 
the other, if He had not been a divine person — the Son 
no doubt — He would not have been the perfect man that 
He was. But He walks on through unheard-of shame, 
sorrow, and suffering, as One that sought only the will 
and glory of His Father in everything. He would 
choose nothing, not even in saving sinners or receiving 
a soul. (John vi.) He would act in nothing apart from 
the Father. He would have only those whom the 
Father draws. Whom the Father gives Him, who- 
ever come to Him, He welcomes them : He will in no 
wise cast any out, be they ever so bad. What a proof 
that He is thoroughly the servant, when He, the 
Saviour, absolutely puts aside all choice of those He 
will save ! When acting as Lord with His apostles, 
He tells us that He chose; but in the question of sal- 
vation He virtually says. Here I am, a Saviour; and 

E 



50 PHILIPPIANS. 

whoever is drawn to me by the Father, that is enough 
for me : whoever comes, I will save. No matter who 
or what it was, you have in the Lord Jesus this perfect 
subjection and self-abnegation, and this too in the only 
person that never had a will to sin, whose will cared 
not for its own way in anything. He was the only 
man that never used His own will ; His will as man was 
unreservedly in subjection to God. But we find another 
thing: if He emptied Himself of His deity, when He took 
the form of a servant, when He does become a man, He 
humbles Himself and becomes obedient as far as death. 

This is important because it shows, among other 
things, this also, that death was not the natural por- 
tion of our Lord as man, but that to which, when found 
in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became 
obedient. There was no death for Him merely as man, 
for death was the wages of sin, not of man as such 
without sin, still less of the Holy One of God. How 
could He come under death ? In this was the contrast 
between Him and the first Adam. The first Adam 
became disobedient unto death ; Christ on the contrary 
obeyed unto death. No other was competent so to lay 
down His life. Sinners had none to give: life was due to 
God, and they had no title to offer it. It would have been 
sin to have pretended to it. But in Christ all is reversed. 
His death in a world of sin is His glory — not only 
perfect grace, but the vindication of God in all His cha- 
racter. " I have power," He says, " to lay it down, and 
I have power to take it again." In the laying down of 



CHAPTER II. 51 

His life He was accomplishing the glory of God. " Now 
is the Son of man glorified and God is glorified in Him." 
So that while God was pleased with and exalted in 
every step of the Lord Jesus Christ's life, yet the 
deepest moral glory of God shines out in His death. 
Never was nor could be such obedience before or in any 
other. He " became obedient unto death, even the 
death of the cross." 

In this chapter it is not a question of putting away 
sin. It is ignorance of the mind of God to confine the 
death of Christ, even to that astonishing part of it, 
while fully admitting that there is not, nor ever will be, 
anything to compare with it. But the death of Christ, 
for instance, takes in the reconciliation of all things, as 
well as the bringing us who believe unto God ; for now 
that the world is fallen under vanity, without that 
death there could not be the righteous gathering up 
again out of the ruin that which is manifestly marred 
and spoilt by the power of Satan. Again, where without 
it was the perfect display of what God is? Where else 
the utmost extent of Christ's suffering and humiliation, 
and obedience in them? The truth, love, holiness, wis- 
dom, and majesty of God were all to the fullest degree 
vindicated in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. There 
is not a single feature of God but what, though it ex- 
presses itself elsewhere in Christ, finds its richest and 
most complete answer in His death. Here it is the 
perfect servant, who would not stop short at any one 
thing, and this not merely in the truest love to us, but 



52 PEILIPPIANS. 

absolutely for the glory of God. It is in this point of 
view that His death is referred to here ; and the Spirit 
of God adds, (Ver. 9, 10,) " Wherefore God also hath 
highly exalted him and given him a name which is 
above every name, that at [in virtue of] the name of 
Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly, and earthly, 
and infernal [ones]." 

It is not merely a question of saints or of Israel, 
but " every knee shall bow," &c. This takes in angels 
and saints, and even those that are for ever under the 
judgment of God ; for to " under the earth" attaches 
the worst possible sense. Thus the infernal beings, 
the lost, come in here; the verse includes those that 
have rejected salvation, no less than those who confess 
the Saviour. It is the universal subjection of all to 
Christ. Jesus has won the title even as man. If un- 
believers despised Him as man, as Son of man He will 
judge them. As man they must bow to Him. The 
lowly name that was His as Nazarene on the earth 
must be honoured everywhere: God's glory is concerned 
in it. In the name of Jesus, or in virtue of His name, 
" every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that 
Jesus Christ is Lord^ to the glory of God the Father." 
(Ver. 11.) 

It is not, again, a question of His being Son (which of 
course He was from all eternity), but Lord also. We 
know that the spirit of this is true for the believer now. 
Every soul that is now born of God bows his knee in 
virtue of the name of Jesus and to Jesus. The Chris- 



CH4PTER II. 53 

tian now confesses by the Holy Ghost that Jesns Christ 
is Lord ; but this homage will be made good to an in- 
comparably larger extent by and by. But then it will be 
too late for salvation. It is now received by faith, which 
finds blessedness and eternal life in the knowledge of 
God and of Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. Neither 
is there any man that confesses Him to be the Lord by 
the Holy Ghost but a saved person. But there will be 
more than this by and by. When the day of grace is 
past and God is not merely gathering out an elect body, 
the Church, but putting down all opposing authority, 
then the name of Jesus will be throughout the universe 
owned even by those who do it by compulsion, and 
who by that very acknowledgment confess their own 
eternal misery. In Ephesians i. 10 we are told of God's 
purpose for the dispensation of the fulness of times to 
" gather together in one all things in Christ, both which 
are in heaven and which are on earth." There is not a 
word, it has often been remarked, about things under 
the earth, because there it is not a question of univer- 
sal compulsory acknowledgment of Christ even by the 
devils and the lost, but very simply of all things 
being put under the headship of Christ. Neither lost 
men nor devils will ever stand in any such relation to 
Christ. He will surely judge them both. In Ephesians 
it is Christ viewed as the head of the whole creation of 
God, all things heavenly and earthly being summed up 
under His administration. Besides that. He is the head 
of the Church, which consequently shares His place of 



54 PHILIPPIANS. 

exaltation over all things heavenly and earthly, as being 
the bride of the true and last Adam. " He has made 
Him to be Head over all things to the Church, which 
is his body, the fulness of him that fiUeth all in all." 
Christ fills all in all ; but the Church is that which fills 
up the mystic, glorified man, just as Eve was necessary 
to the completeness of God's thoughts as to the first 
Adam. The Church is the bride, the Lamb's wife. This 
mystery is great and largely treated in Ephesians ; but 
it is not the subject of our epistle, where the aim is 
practical, enforced from One who came down from in- 
finite glory and made Himself nothing, and who now is 
exalted and made Lord of all, so that every creature 
must bow. This is put before the Philippians as the 
most powerful of motives and weightiest of examples 
for self-abnegation, in love, to God's glory. 

As a whole, we have seen that the state of the Philip- 
pian saints was good and healthy. It was not with 
them as with the Galatians, over whose speedy lapse 
into error — and what error it was ! — the apostle had to 
marvel and mourn. And as in doctrine, so in practice, 
what a change for the worse ! Their love, once exces- 
sive one might say, was turned into bitterness and con- 
tempt, as the sweetest thing in nature, if soured, 
becomes the sourest of all. " Ye know how through 
infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at 
the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh 
ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an 
angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. Where is then 



CHAPTER II. 55 

the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, 
that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out 
your own eyes, and have given them to me. Am I 
therefore become your enemy because I tell you the 
truth? They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, 
they would exclude you that ye might affect them." 
(Gal. iv. 13—17.) "But," adds the apostle, with 
cutting severity, " it is good to be zealously affected 
always in a good thing, and not only when I am present 
with you.'''' 

What a refreshing contrast was the condition of the 
Philippians ! It was not only that their love was true 
and fervent, proving their fellowship with the gospel 
and their hearty sympathy with those engaged in its 
labours and sufferings, but their faithfulness shone 
out yet more when the apostle was not in their midst. 
" Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, 
not as in my presence only, but now much more in my 
absence ..." What reserve in his tone to the one, and 
what opening of affections, heartily expressed, to the 
other ! And no wonder. In Galatia, Christ was shaded 
under nature; religion it might be, but unsubject to 
God, ay, and unloving too, spite of vain talk about love. 
In Philippi Christ was increasingly the object; love was 
in true and wholesome exercise ; and obedience grew 
firmly, because liberty and responsibility were happily 
realized, even the more in the absence of the apostle 
and without his immediate help. 

Accordingly he exhorts them thus : " Work out your 



56 PHILIPPIANS. 

own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God 
who worketh in you both the willing and the working 
of [according to] his good pleasure." In Ephesians ii. 
the saints are viewed as seated together in heavenly- 
places in Christ: they are regarded here as working 
out their own salvation with fear and trembling. How 
can we put these two things together ? With perfect 
ease, if we are simply subject to the word of God. If 
you try to make out that there is only one meaning of 
salvation in the New Testament, you are in a difficulty 
indeed, and you will find that there is no possibility of 
making the passages square. In fact, nothing is more 
certain and easy to ascertain, than that salvation in the 
New Testament is more frequently spoken of as a pro- 
cess incomplete as yet, a thing not finished, than as a 
completed end. It is not, then, a question of taking 
away something, but of getting a further idea. Take 
Eomans xiii. 11, 12, for instance. There we find sal- 
vation spoken of as not yet arrived. " Now is our 
salvation nearer than when we believed." From the 
context we find that it is connected with " the day" 
being at hand ; so that the salvation spoken of there 
is evidently a thing that we have not actually got, no 
doubt, coming nearer and nearer every day, but only 
ours in fact when the day is come. " The night is far 
spent, and the day is at hand." Salvation here, there- 
fore, is manifestly future. In the First Epistle to the 
Corinthians (chap, i., v., ix., x.) the same thing appears, 
though it be not so marked in expression. Take 



CHAPTER II. 57 

Hebrews again as a very plain instance. It is said 
there (chap. vii. 25) that Jesus is *' able to save them 
to the uttermost that come unto God by him." The 
passage plainly is limited to believers. It is a saving 
of those that are in living relationship to God. Christ 
is looked at as a Priest, and He is a Priest only for 
God's people — believers. It would, therefore, be an 
illegitimate use of the verse to apply it to the salvation 
of sinners as such. Again, in chapter ix., " As it is 
appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judg- 
ment; so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of 
many ; and unto them that look for him shall he ap- 
pear the second time without sin unto salvation." 
There cannot be the shadow of a doubt that there the 
Spirit speaks of salvation (salvation of bodies, and not 
merely of souls) as a thing only effectuated when 
Christ in person appears to us, when He receives us to 
Himself in and to His own glory. But without going 
through all similar statements in other epistles, let me 
refer to the First Epistle of Peter. It appears to me that, 
with the exception of a single phrase in 1 Peter i. 9, 
salvation is always regarded as a thing not yet accom- 
plished, and only indeed accomplished in the redemption 
of the body. That one phrase is — " Receiving the end 
of your faith, even the salvation of [your] souls." 
Now soul-salvation will not be more complete for be- 
lievers after Christ comes than now when they believe 
and are being carried through the wilderness ; it is an 
already enjoyed blessing as regards the resting-place of 



58 PHILIPPIANS. 

faith. But, with that exception, salvation in Peter ap- 
plies to the deliverance that crowns the close of all the 
difficulties we may encounter in the passage through the 
desert-world, as well as to the present guardian care of 
our God who brings us safely through. It is a salva- 
tion only completed at the appearing of Jesus. (See 
chap. i. 5 ; ii. 2, " grow unto salvation " in the critical 
text; and iv. 18.) 

This, too, I believe to be the meaning of " salvation" 
in the Epistle to the Philippians; and that it is so will 
appear still more clearly when we come to chapter iii., 
where our Lord is spoken of as a " Saviour," even when 
He comes to transform the body. "Our conversation 
is in heaven ; from whence also we look for the Saviour, 
the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change," &c. The 
real meaning is. We look for the Lord Jesus Christ as 
Saviour, who shall change our body of humiliation, 
that it should be conformed to His body of glory. 
There is the character of the salvation : it is a question 
not of the soul merely, but of our bodies. If we accept 
this thought as a true one and as the real scope of 
salvation throughout the context, interpreting the lan- 
guage here by the general object that the Holy Ghost 
has in view, the meaning of our verse 12 becomes 
plain: " Work out your own salvation with fear and 
trembling." It is as if the apostle said / am no longer 
with you to warn, exhort, and stir you up when your 
courage is flagging — you are now thrown entirely upon 
God. You have got the ordinary helps of bishops and 



CHAPTER II. 59 

deacons, but there is no present apostolic care to look 
to. No doubt the apostle's absence was an immense 
loss. But God is able to turn any loss into gain, and 
this was the gain for them that they were more con- 
sciously in dependence on the resources of God Him- 
self. When the apostle was there, they could go to 
him with whatever question arose: they might seek 
counsel direct from him. Now his departure leads 
them to wait upon God Himself for guidance. The 
effect on the spiritual would be to make them feel the 
need of being more prayerful, and more circumspect 
than ever. " As ye have always obeyed, not as in my 
presence only^ but now much more in my absence, work 
out your own salvation with fear and trembling." I 
am not there to watch over you and to give you my 
counsel and help in difficulties, and emergencies, and 
dangers. You have to do with a mighty, subtle, active 
foe. Hence you have not to look to th« hills, but to 
God, and to work out your own salvation with fear and 
trembling. " For it is God which worketh in you 
both to will and to do of his good pleasure." If 
the apostle was not there, but in prison far away, God, 
he says, is there. It is God who worketh in you. That 
would give solemnity of feeling, but it would also in- 
fuse confidence. There would be fear and trembling 
in their hearts, feeling that it is a bitter, painful thing 
to compromise God in any way by want of jealous self- 
judgment in their walk — fear and trembling because of 
the seriousness of the conflict. They had to do with 



60 PHILIPPIANS. 

Satan in his efforts against them. Bat on the other 
hand God was with them, working in them. It was 
not the idea of anxiety and dread lest they should 
break down and be lost, but because of the struggle in 
which they were engaged with the enemy, without the 
presence of an apostle to render them his invaluable 
succour. 

But now he turns to those things in which they 
might be to blame and certainly had to be on their 
guard. " Do all things without murmurings and dis- 
putings [or reasonings] : that ye may he blameless and 
harmless [simple, or, sincere], irreproachable children 
of God, in the midst of a crooked and perverse genera- 
tion, among whom ye shine as lights in the world." 
He calls them to that which would be manifestly a 
blameless walk and spirit in the eyes of the crooked 
and perverse round about them. But besides this, he 
looks for that w^hich would direct in them, and show 
men clearly the way to be delivered from their wretched- 
ness and sin ; lights in the world, " holding forth the 
word of life;" and this with the motive to their affec- 
tions, *' that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I 
have not run in vain nor laboured in vain." 

But now he puts another consideration before them. 
What if he, Paul, should be called to die in the career 
of the gospel ? Up to this point he had been commu- 
nicating his mind and feelings to them with the thought 
that he was going to live: he had stated his own convic- 
tion that God meant him to continue a little longer here 



CHAPTER II. 61 

below for the good of tlie Church. But he suggests the 
supposition of his death. Granting that he might suffer 
unto death, what then ? " But if also I be poured out 
upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and 
rejoice with you all." To him it was the very reverse 
of a pain or trouble, the thought of being thus a liba- 
tion upon what he sweetly calls the sacrifice and service 
of their faith. Nay, more, he calls on them to share 
his feelings. " For the same cause also do ye joy and 
rejoice with me." Thus the apostle triumphs, turning 
not only his imprisonment into a question of joy, but 
also the anticipation, were it God's will, of his laying 
down his life in the work. He is even congratulating 
them upon the joyful news. How mighty and unselfish 
is the power of faith ! He calls upon them that there 
should be this perfect reciprocity of joy through faith, 
that they might take it as a personal honour, and feel 
a common interest in his joy, as much as if it were for 
themselves. This is just what love does produce. As 
the apostle identified himself with them, so they, in 
their measure, would identify themselves with him. 
May the Lord grant us to know it better through 
His grace. 

" But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus 
shortly unto you, that I also may be of ^ood comfort, 
when I know your state." What a beautiful sample 
the same self-denying love which the apostle had pointed 
out in Christ and was seeking to form in the hearts of the 
Philippians ! "We know what Timothy was to the 



62 PHILIPPIANS. 

apostle, but though to lose him, especially then, might 
be the greatest privation to himself, still he says, " I 
trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto 
you." Divine love thinks of the good of others; and 
this grace had wrought in the apostle. It was to fur- 
ther nothing of his own. He desired to know their 
state that his own heart might be comforted. Is not 
this the mind which was also in Christ Jesus? The 
imprisoned apostle sent Timotheus from himself to 
them in the hope of getting good tidings of these saints 
that were so dear to his heart. " For I have no man 
likeminded, who will naturally care for your state" — no 
one with such genuine affection and care, not merely for 
me, but for you. " For all seek their own, not the things 
that are Jesus Christ's. But ye know the proof of him, 
that, as a son the father, he hath served with me in 
the gospel." There was at once what was the common 
bond. The love of Christ filled both and made them 
both serve. They were doing the same thing. There 
was mutual confidence for the same reason ; for Christ 
and stumblingblocks are incompatible. " Him there- 
fore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see 
how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord that 
I also myself shall come shortly." 

What then does he add ? He could not come as yet 
himself; he was delaying Timothy till the result of his 
trial should be known, that the Philippians might have 
the latest intelligence about that which he was sure 
would be near to their hearts. But would he leave 



CHAPTER II. 63 

them without a word meanwhile ? Far from it. He 
says, " Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you 
Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour." 
We see how love delights to share all things with 
others. He chooses terms which would link Epaphro- 
ditus with himself — " my brother, and companion in 
labour, and fellow-soldier." There was everything that 
could clothe him with honour and endear him to the 
saints, " but your messenger and he that ministered to 
my wants." He had all these insignia of honour in the 
cause of Christ. Nothing can be sweeter than this un- 
folding of affection ; but it could only be, because the 
state of the Philippians had been thoroughly sound 
with God. We see nothing of this when he writes to the 
Galatians or Corinthians. So far from being sound in 
state, they were not even sound in the faith. The 
Galatians, we know, were letting slip justification: the 
consequence is, there is not an Epistle so reserved and 
distant, as we may see in the marked absence of perso- 
nal salutation. He wrote to them as a duty, as an 
urgent service springing from his love that desired 
their deliverance; but he had no kind of liberty in 
letting out his affections in the way we find here. God 
Himself led him to act thus differently. 

" For he longed after you all, and was full of heavi- 
ness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. 
For indeed he was sick, nigh unto death; but God had 
mercy on him ; and not on him only, but on me also, 
lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow." I cannot 



64 PHILIPPIANS. 

conceive a more admirable picture of divine affections 
flowing out without hindrance to these saints. He 
descants upon what Timothy was to him, whom he 
hoped to send to them, and now upon Epaphroditus who 
had come from them as their messenger. His heart 
glows, and he opens out all his feelings about this 
link between himself and them. " He longed after you 
all and was full of heaviness," not because he was sick 
himself or was nigh unto death, but " because that ye 
had heard that he had been sick." Such was the 
heart of Epaphroditus ; such Paul's to see and record it. 
Both were desirous that they should be relieved, by 
knowing how the Lord had shown Himself on their 
behalf. *' But God had mercy on him, and not on him 
only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon 
sorrow." See how the apostle loves to trace the good- 
ness of God, not merely towards the person who was 
the immediate object of God's dealings, but towards 
himself also. Scripture nowhere intimates such a thing 
in the mind of God as looking coldly upon the sickness 
or death of His children. Too often this is the case 
with us, as if it did not much matter, or it were a point 
of spirituality to be like a stone. There is such a 
thing as the Spirit of God identifying Himself with 
human affections, as well as with divine ones. We find 
divine 'affections in chapter i., and human affections 
here in chapter ii. The Holy Spirit has been pleased, 
not only to bring down divine affections, so to speak, 
and put them into us ; but also to animate the human 



CHAPTER II. G5 

affections of the saints. Christ Himself had them in 
His heart, for He was truly man. And now the Spirit 
of God gives another and higher value to these affections 
in the saints of God. This is as plain as it is important. 
The Holy Ghost mingles Himself, so to speak, with all. 
" I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye 
see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the 
less sorrowful." The apostle does not say, And that I 
may rejoice too. There is no unreality, nothing but 
transparent truthfulness here, as well as the most 
blessed love. It is " that ye may rejoice, and that I 
may be the less sorrowful." He did feel the pang of 
parting with Epaphroditus, but he could rejoice that 
such a help went to them, because they would rejoice, 
and he himself would be the less sorrowful. It was his 
loss; but assuredly it would be their gain. 

" Keceive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, 
and hold such in reputation." Remark how careful he 
is to commend his fellow-labourer to the esteem of the 
saints. Epaphroditus does not seem to have been a man 
of much outward mark. But men highly gifted ought 
to be tenacious on behalf of those of lesser gift. Cer- 
tainly in the case of the apostle, instead of being jealous 
as to others, there is the greatest desire to keep up their 
value in the eyes of the saints. " Hold such in repu- 
tation." Others might have feared for Epaphroditus 
or others like him, lest they might be puffed up. " Re- 
ceive him," he says, " with all gladness, and hold such 
in reputation ; because for the work of Christ he was 



66 PHILIPPIAN8. 

nigh Tinto death, not regarding his life, to supply your 
lack of service toward me." We do not find any great 
account of what he had done in preaching or teaching; 
but there was the earnest, unselfish service of love in 
this blessed man of God, and that was enough for the 
Apostle Paul and ought to be also for God's children. 

The Lord grant that we may be thus quick to discern 
and thus hearty in our appreciation of what is of 
Christ in others, whoever they may be, cultivating not 
so much keenness of eye for that which is painful and 
inconsistent in the saints, as steady desire for whatever 
brings Christ before the soul, whatever gives the ring 
of the true metal, whatever bears the stamp of the 
Spirit of God. 



3>®<« 



CHAPTER III. 

The apostle had touched on various sources of joy to 
himself and the saints he was addressing. It was with 
joy he made supplication for them all. (Chap. i. 4.) It 
was with joy, and ever new joy, that he beheld his very 
bonds giving a fresh impulse to the preaching of Christ. 
(Chap. i. 18.) So too he is assured of his continuance 
with them all for their progress and joj of faith, that 
their boasting might abound in Christ through him. 
(Chap. i. 25.) Next, he called on them to fulfil his 
joy (chap. ii. 2), not merely by the proof of their love 
to him, but by cultivating unity of mind and mutual 
love according to Christ, who, though the highest, 
made Himself the lowest in grace, and is now exalted 
to the pinnacle of glory. " Yea, and if I be offered 
(or, poured forth) on the sacrifice and service of your 
faith, I joy and rejoice with you all. For the same 
cause also do ye joy and rejoice with me." (Chap. 
ii. 17, 18.) So, again, the apostle sends away his 
companion and solace, Epaphroditus, when recovered, 
to the Philippians, who were uneasy at the tidings of 
his dangerous sickness, " that when ye see him again, 
ye may rejoice, and that I may be less sorrowful." 
(Chap. ii. 28.) 



68 PHILIPPIANS. 

But there is a joy independent of all passing circum- 
stances, and deeper than all others because it is nearer 
to, yea, it is the one spring of all joy: it is to this 
the apostle now calls them. " Finally [or, for the 
rest], my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.^'' It is of the 
deepest moment that we, that all saints, should heed 
the call. It is due to Him, in whom we are exhorted 
to rejoice, that we should bear a true testimony in this 
respect. I say not a testimony worthy of Him, for 
none is, save that which God the Father has borne and 
bears, and that which the Holy Ghost renders in word 
and deed. Still, great as our shortcoming is, the Holy 
Ghost is in us to give us a divine appreciation of the 
Lord. May we not then dishonour Him by gloomy 
thoughts, by unbelieving feelings, by ways that betoken 
fear, doubt, dissatisfaction, yearning after creature 
pleasure in one form or another ; but may we be enabled 
by faith, heartily, simply, alone or with others, in public 
and in private, to " rejoice in the Lord." 

It was thus with Paul and Silas when the foundation 
of the assembly at Philippi was laid at midnight in the 
prison, and the jailor and his house were gathered 
among the first-fruits. (Acts xvi. 25 — 34.) Long 
labours had intervened, many years of reproach and 
suffering. The heart of the apostle fresh as ever? 
though a prisoner at Rome, calls on the saints to "rejoice 
in the Lord." So he had taught when with them; so 
he had already urged in this letter, though now he 
presses it with greater distinctness as to its ground and 



CHAPTEK III. 69 

spring. " To write the same things to you, to me 
indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe." It was 
no trouble to him, for he loved them too well to mind it. 
It was safe for them, for Satan threatened otherwise. 
Joy in the Lord is the truest safeguard against the 
religious snares of the enemy. Where the truth is 
known, the grand thing is to have the affections kept 
on the right object, and withal in happy liberty. This 
is secured by rejoicing in the Lord, which supposes the 
heart at rest in His grace, and Himself known and 
beloved, the most attractive and precious object before 
us. Put Him at a distance, wrap Him in clouds and 
darkness, think of Him mainly as the inflexible Judge 
about to be revealed in flaming fire taking vengeance, 
mix all this up with your own associations and relation- 
ships to Him, and with your experience; and is it any 
wonder that, under such conditions, peace is unknown, 
and eternal life a question unsolved and insoluble till 
the day of death or judgment ? In such a state 
"rejoice in the Lord" has no tangible place, no 
practical application, not even a distinct meaning; and 
the soul is exposed, but for divine mercy which by 
other means may hinder all, to sink lower and lower 
into the dregs and deceits of Judaizers. 

Hence, says the apostle, " beware of dogs, beware 
of evil workers, beware of the concision." (Ver. 2.) 
There is not only a warning to take heed, but accu- 
mulated and bitter scorn of these high-minded men. 
For, rejecting grace and not submitting to the righte- 



70 PHILIPPIANS. 

ousness of God, they were restlessly prowling about, 
themselves unclean, whatever their pretensions; their 
work mischievous, their boasted privileges not only null 
but despicable in the extreme. There were " the dogs" 
now, not Gentiles even, still less Christians, as such, but 
the Judaizers. Evil workmen were they, and not the 
circumcision, which they affected literally or in principle 
— they were but " the concision." " For we^ the apostle 
says with emphasis, " are the circumcision (whatever 
we might have been in the flesh, Jews or Gentiles — it 
mattered not), who worship God in the Spirit, [or, 
according to the best MSS., ' who worship by God's 
Spirit'], and boast in Christ Jesus, and trust not in 
flesh." (Ver. 3.) 

It is a mistake to imagine that these adversaries of 
God's work advocated a return to mere Judaism. Such 
there were elsewhere, as in Hebrews, but they are 
treated as apostates. The class here in view consists 
rather of persons who professed Christianity, but sought 
to blend the law along with it, a system of evil which, 
far from being rare, is the commonest thing now-a- 
days. Do you not hear of a fresh recourse to the cross, 
and fresh sprinkling of the blood to restore the soul? Are 
there not souls who take the place of God's children and 
Church, and yet confess themselves miserable sinners, 
crying for mercy; sheep of His pasture, yet tied and 
bound with the chain of their sins ? Does not this 
return to Jewish experience, under tutors and governors, 
ignore Christianity and annul redemption and the Spirit 



CHAPTER III. . 71 

of adoption ? Are there not notions still of holy places 
and holy castes, holy feast-days and fast-days, and ad- 
ministration of sacraments among those baptized into 
Christ's death ? The word of God is read, Christ is 
more or less preached, but these unqnestionable Jewish 
elements are mingled with what is Christian. Hence 
human forms of prayer, ordinances, &c., take the place 
of God's Spirit as the power of worship ; law-fulfilling 
(though by Christ) is openly boasted as the door 
into heaven, and our only title of righteousness; and 
thus to be risen with Christ, to be not in flesh but 
in Spirit, is supposed to be a fanatical dream, instead 
of the only condition which the Holy Ghost now re- 
cognizes as properly Christian. 

Next, in verses 4 — 6, the apostle briefly exposes the 
entire baselessness of their claims in comparison of his 
own, if flesh availed in divine things. " Though / 
[again speaking emphatically] have trust in flesh also; 
if another think to trust in flesh, I more: in circum- 
cision of eight days, of the race of Israel, a Hebrew 
of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, per- 
secuting the Church; as to righteousness that is in the 
law, blameless." Thus, on grounds of the best earthly 
stock, due honour to ancient and divine ordinances, a 
high rank acquired in the school of tradition, an utter 
repudiation and hatred of new light in religion, and a 
life blameless according to the law, who could stand as 
firmly as Paul ? *' But," adds he, " what things were 
gain to me, these I counted loss on account of Christ. 



72 PHILIPPIANS. 

But SO then I also count all things to be loss on account 
of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my 
Lord, on account of whom I suffered the loss of all, 
and count them to be dung [refuse], that I may win 
Christ and be found in him, not having my righteous- 
ness, which [is] of law, but that which is by faith of 
Christ, the righteousness which is of God on my faith ; 
to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and 
the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his 
death, if by any means I may arrive at the resurrection 
which is from out of the dead." (Ver. 7 — 11.) 

What was it, then, which had wrought so deep, so 
permanent, and, as we know from Acts ix., so sudden 
a change ? What poured contempt on every natural, on 
every religious advantage from his birth up to the day 
when, with credentials from the high priest, he neared 
Damascus ? It was the heavenly vision which arrested 
him on the way ; it was Christ seen in glory, yet one 
with those whom his infatuated zeal was persecuting to 
prison and death. " I am Jesus, whom thou perse- 
cutest." Sure that He whose light shone on him 
brighter than the noonday sun was no other than the 
Lord God of Israel, the astonished Saul of Tarsus 
learns from His own mouth that He was the Crucified, 
whose disciples he would have up to this conscientiously 
exterminated. No wonder, then, that the converted, 
delivered Israelite, obedient to the heavenly vision, 
judges all things by this new and divine light. A new 
creature in Christ, for him old things had passed away, 



CHAPTER III. 73 

all things were become new; all things were of that 
God who reconciled to Himself by Jesus Christ. Hence 
the things that were to him gains, he counted loss 
on account of Christ; yea, all things to be loss on 
account of the excellency of the knowledge, as he says 
with such affection, " of Christ Jesus my Lord," on whose 
account he not only suffered the loss of all at first, but 
now to the last continued to count them refuse that he 
might gain Christ (or, have Him for gain). What 
was his boasted righteousness now ? His one thought 
was to be found in Christ, not having any such righte- 
ousness of his own, which must be legal, but that 
which is by faith of Christ, the righteousness which is 
of God grounded on faith; to know Christ and the 
power of His resurrection (not even Christ on this side 
the grave), and the fellowship of His sufferings. His 
eye was on Christ above, and if he added aught of 
Christ here, it was not in His deeds of power, nor His 
recognition of the ancient sheepfold, but in the moral 
glory of His sufferings. It was in that which proved 
the total alienation of man from God in his good things, 
not in his bad alone; in his religion, and not merely 
in his lusts and passions. His own experience was the 
witness of it. His confidence in the tradition of the 
elders, in Israel, in the law even, was ruin and rebellion 
to God as He now reveals Himself in Him who died 
and rose and ascended. Nothing, consequently, has 
the trust of his soul or value in his eyes, but Christ; 
and even if he could have anything else that looked 



74 PHILIPPIANS. 

good, he would know none but Christ, and have nothing 
but Christ the sufferer, risen and in heaven, as his 
portion. Hence conformity to His death was now a 
jewel to be won, rather than an evil to be shunned. 
Let the path be ever so dangerous, come what might, 
all would be welcome, " if by any means I may arrive 
at the resurrection from out of the dead." (Ver. 1].)* 
This last is not an expression of fear of failure, but 
of a heart which so prized the blessing of being 
thus with Christ as to mind no suffering that might 
intervene. 

Whatever the pathway might be, the apostle inti- 
mated, as we have seen, that he must be there. Such 

* It is surprising that such critics as Griesbach and Matthaei 
should have edited a mere blunder like the received text; for 
€| avda-Taaiv roiv veKpwv seems to me hardly sense, even if Greek. 
It is certain that the apostle did not mean that which is common 
and inevitable to the dead (i. e., all as a class) ; which is the sense of 
rSiv vcKpuv. A special privilege he meant, which is precisely what 
the vulgar reading does not suggest nor even bear. But the fact 
is that the Alexandrian, Vatican, Sinai, Palimpsest of Paris, 
Clermont, and St. Germain uncials, with at least ten cursive 
manuscripts, read r^v 4k (instead of rwv), and so the Itala, 
Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic, and the early Greek and Latin fathers. 
The received text has no support more ancient than two uncials of 
the ni7ith century, though most cursives are in its favour; it 
probably, as 1 conceive, grew out of tuv ck, the reading of Codd., 
Aug., and Boern. This, being clearly wrong, may have been cor- 
rected by scribes into rav, omitting eK, instead of t^v e/c, the true 
reading beyond all doubt. C. A. Bode, in his Psedocritica Millio. 
Bengeliana, mistakes the matter. For it is not a question, as he 
imagines (Vol. ii., p. 290), between e/c v. and tV e/c p., but 
between ruv and ri]v e/c. And it is plain on his own showing that 
the Oriental versions confirm the latter against the former. 



CHAPTER III.' 75 

was the value of the resurrection of the just in his 
eyes. Like the Israelite in Psalm Ixxxiv. on his way 
to Jerusalem, the ways were in his heart. He loved 
the way of Jesus, of His sufferings, of the cross, and 
not merely the glory at the end. *' Not as though I 
had already attained [literally, received, i.e., the prize], 
or am already perfected." It was not a question merely 
of the soul's happiness. " I would to God," he had 
said to king Agrippa, " that not only thou, but also all 
that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether 
such as I am, except these bonds." Who of all men 
was so happy as St. Paul ? Yet he warns us against 
supposing that he had yet obtained what he desired. 
There is no such thing as getting the prize till we are in 
the resurrection from amongst the dead. But he adds, 
" I follow after [or pursue], if also I may lay hold, for 
that also I am laid hold on by Christ." (Ver. 12.) He 
keeps his eye fixed upon Christ all the way through as 
well as at last. This was the strength of his triumph- 
ing over all the difficulties that lay between. No 
present experience, no actual joy detains his heart from 
God's end. The apostle wanted to gain possession of 
Christ by and by ; but also Christ had possession of 
himself already. 

" Brethren, / count not myself to have laid hold 
[whatever others might dream] ; but one thing, forget- 
ting the things behind, and stretching out to the things 

before, I pursue " (Ver. 13.) The apostle does not 

mean that one ought to overlook, or that he did over- 



76 PHILIPPTANS. 

look his past sins and failure. On the contrary, it is 
most evil to forget what Christ has suffered for our 
sakes, and also the manifold ways wherein we have dis- 
honoured God. This will not at all interfere w^ith 
settled peace — rather the reverse. A man can rejoice 
so much the more in the Lord if he fully judge his 
failure. It is the tendency of a conscience not 
thoroughly happy to desire to escape from thinking of 
anything in which we have consciously turned aside to 
the grief of the Holy Ghost. It is a right thing to 
search ourselves through and through, it is right to 
ask God to search and try us, and to lead us in the way 
everlasting. Confidence in grace, so far from weaken- 
ing the sense of our own shortcomings or covering over 
our failure, is the very spring that enables us to see and 
deal with the reality of things in the presence of God. 
Thus the apostle speaks of " forgetting the things 
behind," not with reference to his failure, but rather to 
his points of progress, the steps or stages in which he 
had made advance in the knowledge of Christ. In- 
stead of dwelling upon any attainment, as if it were 
something to be thought of (like the Pharisee com- 
paring himself with his neighbour), here we have this 
blessed man forgetting all that might have fed self- 
complacency or been creditable to himself. His back 
■was on the ground traversed. " Stretching out to the 
things before, I pursue toward the goal for the prize of 
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus " (Ver. 14.) 
This can only be in the resurrection state. Till then 



CHAPTER III. 77 

he was content to run. This was his one business. It 
was to live Christ, because Christ was his object. 

But now follows another thing which we need to bear 
in mind. We find different conditions and not at all 
the same degree of progress made by the children of 
God. What then is the grand principle to guide us ? 
Let us suppose a company of believers gathered to- 
gether, all of the same mind, every one of them brought 
tip to think exactly alike, from baptism with water to 
the coming and kingdom of Christ, their minds made up 
and consenting even about points of detail. Would this 
satisfy the heart ? Would it give a just witness to the 
ways of God towards His children ? I dare not think so. 
It is sweet where God brings souls by exercise of spiritual 
judgment under the guidance of the Holy Ghost to 
feel alike. But where sameness is the result of dinning 
one doctrine into people's heads, and by rules and regu- 
lations which squeeze minds into monotony, can any- 
thing be more miserable ? The apostle lays down the 
only divine rule for dealing with these cases. We have 
to do with a state of things, where there exist all 
varieties of attainments. In heaven we shall know as 
we are known ; but the question is how to bear our- 
selves about these things here. It is a natural desire 
that all should grow and rise to a certain height of the 
stature of Christ. But are we not apt to confound the 
point desired with our own idea of it ? to desire that 
people should have our mind ? This we have to guard 
against; and the true corrective is given here. 



78 PHILIPPIANS. 

"As many, therefore, as be perfect, let us be thus 
minded." (Ver. 15.) He speaksof himself and others also, 
as being " perfect ;" but there is no contradiction of what 
went before. When he had, in verse 12, disclaimed as 
yet the reception of the prize and being perfected, he 
meant that he was not yet out of the conflict in a resur- 
rection condition. But when he here exhorts " as 
many as be perfect," he means those who are of full 
age in the faith, thoroughly grounded in the christian 
position, entering into it by faith and spiritual intelli- 
gence. It means a Christian who is not a babe, but 
full grown; not, of course, a Christian who has tho- 
roughly finished his course, for this is in resurrection, 
but one who has become a man in Christ. We shall 
not have grown up into the full likeness of Christ till 
He comes and transforms us like to His glory. But 
there is such a thing even here as growing into the full 
knowledge of the mind of God, and it is through having 
got Christ in glory before us now the personal object of 
our souls. But suppose there are others among the 
children of God still in difficulty and doubt, what then ? 
Are we to make them adopt our feelings and judg- 
ments about things ? Certainly not. It would be a 
positive loss, unless it were by the power of the 
Holy Ghost leading the saints into a fuller apprehen- 
sion of Christ. 

The reference here is not to such matters of faith or 
practice as preclude difference. We ought not to have 
a hesitation where the glory of the Lord is concerned. 



CHAPTER III. 79 

There can be no question about sin. It is taken for 
granted in the Bible that no difference of mind could be 
tolerated where Christ is at stake. All saints instinc- 
tively see the enormity of bringing in moral evil to the 
table of the Lord. The Holy Ghost counts upon our 
resenting affronts to God. Allegiance to Him com- 
mands the conscience and rouses the heart of every 
saint of God if properly stated. These things God 
reckons upon. Nor is it only the wise and intelligent 
who are able to judge things of the sort, but the babes 
also. The only cases that ought to be brought before 
the Church as such are those which every believer is 
able to judge. It is quite a mistake to drag habitually 
everything before the assembly ; but where things 
come out of an evidently immoral or of an heretical cha- 
racter, there any saint rejects the poison, one as much 
as another. It is not the babes who have difficulties 
or who give trouble, as a general rule. How often 
clever, intelligent people do the mischief, while the 
simple-minded would feel the evil of such things at once ! 
Here on the contrary the matters spoken of are such as 
some saints might feel, and not others. There might 
be practical or doctrinal questions, as the particular 
manner in which children ought to be brought up, or 
the style of living, furniture or house. There one must 
be content to point out the holy principles of God, not 
to assume hastily that our own measure is such that w« 
ought to attempt to make every other adjust his chil- 
dren or house by it. God is jealous that He should 



80 PHILIPPIANS. 

have the forming of His saints. A good example is 
precious and we cannot be too careful as to the ways we 
allow. But having said this, it is for the children of God 
to examine themselves conscientiously by His word. 
In such things we must be patient and look for the 
action of God by His own truth on the souls of His 
saints. 

We may suggest what we can of the truth of God to 
influence the heart; but there is no rule absolute to be 
laid down by any on points like these. One has often 
known persons who began strongly with a certain idea 
which governed them, and with which they zealously 
sought to go\!ern others. How long does it stand? In 
the very thing on which they have prided themselves, 
they are apt to break down. It is Christ whom God 
makes the standard of everything. All else fails. Why 
push so strongly and in haste? " If in anything ye be 
otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.'* 
There is no need then to be anxious. " Nevertheless 
whereto we have attained, walk by the same." (Ver. 16.) 
So far as we are occupied with Christ together and see 
His mind or will, it is of great importance that we 
should walk together. 

But the apostle goes farther ; he refers to his 
own example and points out as a beacon the walk 
of some, once owned as brethren. Need I say that it 
was no fleshly thing in the apostle thus to speak of 
himself? As a mere man, a person would be ashamed to 
talk about himself; it would be but a piece of vanity. 



CHAPTER III. 81 

The apostle was so completely raised above the thoughts 
of men, he so thoroughly realized the power of God in 
Christ, that it just illustrated the energy of the Spirit 
in him. He was led of the Holy Ghost to speak thus. 
He calls upon them therefore to be imitators together of 
him, and to mark those that walk so as ye have us for an 
example. (Ver. 17.) " For many walk of whom I have 
told you often and now tell you even weeping that they 
are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is 
destruction, whose god is the belly and glory in their 
shame, who mind earthly things." (Ver. 18, 19.) We are 
not even told whether these men had been put away from 
the Church of God. They are characterized as enemies of 
the cross of Christ and yet they may not have been for- 
mally without. If so, what a deplorable state of things 
before the eyes of the apostle ! persons probably not 
guilty of such flagrant wickedness as to require ex- 
cision ; and yet the source of the deepest sorrow to the 
apostle. They were going on carelessly, indifferently. 
How awful to view some within perhaps with less hope 
than others put away for flagrant sin ! We all know 
how truly this is verified in the present state of Christen- 
dom. How many bear the name of Christ who by their 
ways show there is not the slightest breath of divine 
life in them ! Professing to know God, in works they 
deny Him. 

This drew out the tears of the apostle even in the 
midst of his joy ; but he turns it to practical profit, call- 
ing on the saints to take heed. Let us watch against the 

G 



82 PHILIPPIANS. 

beginnings of self-indulgence or allowing earthliuess. 
** For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven," our 
real association is with Him who is there. Whatever 
we might have been as citizens of the earth, it is at an 
end now and for ever. We belong to Christ on high. It 
is not merely that we are going there, but we belong to 
heaven now. Our commonwealth, our citizenship is 
there, and therefore from thence also " we look for the 
Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour." He has decided to have 
us in entire fellowship with the home to which w^e per- 
tain, because it is His. He is coming from heaven, and, 
when He does, " he will change our body of humiliation 
so as to be conformed to the body of His glory accord- 
ing to the working whereby He is able also to subdue 
all things to Himself." Then we shall be manifested 
what we now are in call, life, and desire. We are now 
heavenly and then we shall be declared and proved to 
be so. We belong to heaven even while we are upon 
the earth : then it will be made plain that we had no 
real link with the earth, but with Christ above. 

The Lord grant that we may seek to bring this into 
everything with which we have to do, into the heart, 
the home, and the whole life. He has made us His 
friends, and may we be enabled, with a purged con- 
science and with a heart rejoicing in Himself, to look 
onward to that blessed moment when we shall prove 
Him true to all the hopes He has given us. 



CHAPTER ly. 

The main truth which was in the mind of the apostle 
and which the Lord was using him to lay upon the 
hearts of the Philippian saints was now clearly ex- 
pressed and enforced. The rest of the epistle, this last 
chapter, consists rather in the connected exhortations 
and practical use to which it was turned for present 
profit. Indeed it may have been noticed that, through- 
out, this epistle is eminently practical. Every whit of 
it has an immediate and important bearing upon the 
communion and walk of the saint of God. Of course 
in a general way there is no truth which is not meant 
to deal with the heart and walk in some way or another; 
yet I do not hesitate to say that this epistle is re- 
markable for nothing more than for its being the per- 
sonal experience of the apostle himself seeking to raise 
the experience of the saints at Philippi to the same 
measure, yea, according to the standard of Christ Him- 
self. Accordingly, having shown us Christ fully, 
both as an example here below and as a motive in 
heaven (the earthly example being specially given in 
chapter ii., and the heavenly motive in chapter iii.), 
now comes the practical object to which it is applied. 

" Therefore," says he, "my brethren, dearly beloved and 
longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, 
my dearly beloved." It is evident that the spiritual 



84 PHILIPPIANS. 

affections of the apostle were deeply moved. Brotherly 
love was flowing out powerfully, and not the less be- 
cause he had been occupied with Christ, with the deep 
feeling of what Christ had been and is, and with the 
joyous anticipation of that which the saints are des- 
tined to be when they see Him coming from heaven 
in the fulness of His grace and power, changing even 
their very bodies of humiliation that they may be 
fashioned like unto His glorious body. Salvation being 
only then and there complete, he bids them " to stand 
fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." And so much 
the more because it would appear that there were some 
among them who were at variance one with another. 
Things were working there which separated in the way 
of affection, or at least, in the service of the Lord, those 
who had been engaged in it from earliest days. And 
this may be found where there is nothing at work of a 
scandalous character, because the very ardour and zeal 
of the servant of God may easily carry him, if there be 
not adequate occupation with Christ, into danger; 
even service ensnares and imperils where it becomes an 
object instead of Christ. It would appear that such 
was the case with some active saints at Philippi, " I 
beseech Euodia, and I beseech Syntyche that they be of 
the same mind in the Lord : yea, I entreat thee also 
true yoke-fellow, help them [i. e., these women just 
named], seeing that they contended with me in the 
gospel, with Clement also and the rest of my fellow- 
labourers whose names are in the book of life." 



CHAPTER IV. 85 

Now, it is plain tliat there are two things which the 
apostle here presses. First is the great importance of 
having the same mind not only in the Lord but also in 
the work of the Lord. The danger is of having some 
aim or way of our own in that holy occupation. The 
Lord is assuredly jealous over those whom He employs 
and He works continually to preserve each servant in 
the immediate sense of his own responsibility to Him- 
self. No one need fear that this would interfere with 
mutual respect or hinder the outflow of divine affection 
linking together the various servants of God. Man 
would think so because he must judge from his own 
selfish heart. It is the flesh that seeks its own things; 
while the Spirit of Christ, whatever may be its holy 
judgment of evil, is never selfish. It is the grossest 
mistake to suppose that where the heart is brought to 
estimate all things according to God, you bring in an 
element of division between brethren; not this, but the 
indulgence of flesh opens the door to strife and schism. 
Supposing a child of God who has gone astray, \vhat is 
it that separates him from his brethren ? Nothing but 
the evil that has been indulged in. The Holy Ghost 
acts in the man's soul; now he feels, confesses, and 
separates from that which is fleshly. At once the 
balance is restored and you are more united in love 
with that erring soul than, perhaps, you ever were 
before. Up to that time there may have been much 
which hindered fellowship. The irritability of spirit, 
the censoriousness, the vanity, the self-coniidence broke 



86 PHILIPPIANS. 

out too often in the very service and worship of God — 
all this had previously produced many an anxious feel- 
ing for spiritual minds, and this just because there was 
real love to his soul. The consequence was so far 
that which separated, not in outward walk, but in fellow- 
ship of heart; whereas the moment there was the 
genuine action of the Holy Spirit of God — sin having 
actually, perhaps, broken out because of nature not 
being judged and the separation having become com- 
plete — the moment the evil is dealt with even in the 
man's spirit, and he owns frankly that he has sinned 
against the Lord, your heart is knit to him and 
you have a confidence in him which may never have 
existed before. The notion is false, therefore, that 
serious judgment of evil is what divides between bre- 
thren. On the contrary, it is evil (not separation from 
it) which sows discord or makes separation necessary 
among brethren. Gracious separation from evil knits 
the heart of those who are true with the Lord. It is 
holiness in fact. Apart from sin there is the enjoy- 
ment of God Himself and of His good and acceptable 
will. In this world holiness implies the judgment of 
evil and separation from it in heart and practice, as far 
as we are concerned. The cross of the Lord Jesus 
Christ is that which gathers the children of God on the 
ground that all their evil has been judged there and 
separated from them for ever by His death. No matter 
how you look at it, in every case it is evil that divides, 
and it is the judgment of evil that unites, hearts in an evil 



CHAPTER IV. 87 

world according to God. Any unity of the children of 
God would be a positive sin against Him if it were not 
founded upon separation from evil. Having referred to 
the broad and fundamental principle of separation from 
evil, which will be foand to be eminently practical, we 
may turn now to see its application to the matter 
1/ before us. 

At Philippi there rose before the apostle's heart 
godly persons there at work; but work is not always 
Christ and may be division. The tendency is not un- 
common to disparage what another is found doing, and 
to exalt ourselves in what we may know to be our own 
line of things. This tends to break up happy fellow- 
ship of heart, and, where there is anything of a spiritual 
atmosphere, these things are deeply felt. Among the 
Corinthians this was but a small thing compared with 
the grosser evils that were active in their midst ; but at 
Philippi where the state was comparatively healthy and 
blessed, where also the spirit of obedience reigned as we 
know, the lack of harmony from whatever cause it may 
have sprung becomes of importance, and the variance 
therefore of these two sisters is pressed home by the 
Spirit of God, but not before ample comfort had been 
ministered, which would encourage their hearts to look 
to Christ. How tender, and withal how personal, is 
the appeal to each of these christian women ! " I ex- 
hort Euodia and I exhort Syntyche that they be of 
the same mind in the Lord." He begins with the 
Lord, not with the service, though the variance may 



88 PHIL1PPIAN8. 

have grown up in its course. He calls on them one by 
one (for one might hear if not the other) to be of the 
same mind in the Lord. Depend upon it that, where 
the Lord occupies us, differences soon dwindle. Having 
each the eye fixed upon the Lord, there is found a com- 
mon object of attraction, and thus the enemy's hope of 
producing alienation is defeated at once. 

He adds a request also to his true yoke-fellow. I sup- 
pose the reference is to Epaphroditus, of whom he had 
spoken with ardent affection in chapter ii. " Yoke" in 
Scripture is a badge of union or of subjection, as the 
case may be, in service. Thus, in 2 Corinthians vi., the 
believer is told not to be unequally yoked with unbe- 
lievers. Many narrow that scripture to the natural 
relationship of marriage. But though the marriage 
tie between believers and unbelievers is evidently not 
according to God, yet I doubt that there is any par- 
ticular allusion to it in that scripture. The object 
there of the Spirit of God is to take up the commixture 
of the believer with the unbeliever in the service and 
worship of God. The apostle brings forward the tem- 
ple of God as well as individual matters, and shows 
that we are not to have fellowship corporately any more 
than individually with unbelievers. I only refer to it 
now because it is often put aside from the consciences 
of the children of God through the mistaken habit of 
referring it to marriage; whereas, it is plain on the 
face of it that the direction the Holy Gnost gives 
would not strictly apply to marriage. Bad as it is for 



CHAPTER IV. 89 

a believer to marry an unbeliever, God does not even 
then say, Come out from the relationship; leave your 
wife; part from your husband. Apply it to its legiti- 
mate object (viz., fellowship with unbelievers in the 
things of God), and then you have a maxim of deep 
and urgent importance. I am not to unite with the 
world in any one thing that concerns the service and 
worship of God. This is the true meaning of being 
unequally ?/o/je<^. " Come out and be separate" is then the 
special word that applies to any such unholy alliance. 

This makes all plain, when men ask if we are not to do 
anything for the world ? If there is sorrow and want, 
am I not to help sufferers ? Surely if there be a pecu- 
liar duty to the household of faith, I am also bound to 
do good unto all men; but there is no yoking together 
with others outside Christ in this, and no communion. 
The worldly man gives because he is generous, or feels 
for the need of the person, or is expected to give. The 
child of God does it because it is the will of God. The 
one acts on the ground of nature, the other in faith. 
Even in the most ordinary necessary acts, as eating and 
drinking, I may and ought to do it all to God's glory. 
Supposing a man drowning, or a house on fire, there is 
a claim of course on any man ; but to use the help that 
a servant of God might render on such occasions, as a 
reason for joining the world with the saint in the ser- 
vice of God, is to deceive or be deceived — it may be, will- 
ingly. I have no hesitation in saying that to put an 
unbeliever on the ground of joining in prayers and 



90 PHILIPPIANS. 

hymns and taking the Lord's Supper, to sanction his 
joining with you in such services, is as far as you can to 
damage if not destroy his soul. No believer would act 
thus without an object other than Christ. What the 
Holy Ghost seeks for the unregenerate soul is to con- 
vince him of his ruin ; but, if yoked with you in God's 
work or temple, you are cheating him (or he you) into a 
false ground. You thus far treat him as an acceptable 
worshipper and make him think that he is doing God's 
service as truly, though perhaps not so well, as your- 
self. This is as contrary to holiness as to love, equally 
opposed to God's glory and man's good. 

Were these godly energetic women now apart in 
spirit ? He not only exhorts each separately, but asks 
Epaphroditus as I suppose, the true yoke-fellow of the 
apostle, to help them. For these women had shared 
the apostle's sufferings in the gospel when it entered 
Philippi. It is not, ^'•And entreat thee," as in the 
English version or the commonly received text ; nor is 
it, *' Yea and," &c. The best authorities omit " and" 
altogether, which was a corruption of " yea." For the 
apostle is continuing in verse 3 the same thought as in 
verse 2, and is urging his dear and true yoke-fellow 
at Philippi to succour those previously named women 
(not others, as the ordinary rendering might convey), 
" the which" (amj/e?) or " since they" contended with him 
in the gospel. It is not said that they preached; there 
is no reference to public service here. There is a great 
difference between preaching the gospel and sharing 



CHAPTER IV. 91 

the contentions of the gospel. Even a man might 
have laboured diligently and never have preached in 
his life; and there might be some striving every day 
in the gospel as diligently, or more so even, than those 
who preached it every day. There is beautiful choice 
in the language of the Holy Ghost. We all ought to 
know that the New Testament puts the christian 
•woman in the place of exceeding blessedness, removing 
every thought that would give her an inferior place 
in Christ, but it puts her also at the same time 
in the back ground, wherever it is a case of public 
action. Here officially, so to speak, the man is called 
to be uncovered, the woman to be veiled. She is thus 
as it were put behind the man, whereas, when you 
speak of our privileges in Christ, there is neither 
male nor female. It is of importance to see where 
there is no difference and where there is. The First 
Epistle to the Corinthians is most plain that the head of 
the woman is the man, and as Christ is the glory 
of the man, so the man is the glory of the woman. 
We find there the administrative difference between 
the man and the woman. When you come to the 
heavenly privileges we have in Christ, all these dis- 
tinctions disappear. There is no public action that I 
know in the world or in the Church allotted to the 
christian woman. As to private dealing with souls, the 
case is different. In their father's house, the four 
daughters of Philip may have prophesied. They were 
evidently highly gifted women ; for it is not said of 



9^ PHILIPPIANS. 

them that they laboured in the gospel, but that they 
prophesied — one of the highest forms of gift from 
Christ. At the same time the Holy Spirit, who tells 
us that a woman might and did prophesy as a fact, 
instructs us that it is forbidden to a woman to speak in 
the Church where prophesying properly had its course. 
But there a woman was forbidden to speak, not even 
allowed to ask a question, much less to give an answer. 
Yet as to the private scene, at home, even with an 
Apollos, a woman might fitly act: that is, if she acted 
under and with her husband. Priscilla might be of 
more spiritual weight than Aquila; but this very thing 
would lead her to be the more careful to take an unob- 
trusive lowly place. The yoke-fellow of the apostle 
seems to have been somewhat timid of helping these 
women. The apostle, accordingly, entreats him also as 
he had exhorted him. " Help those women in that 
they contended with me in the gospel." They were 
not putting themselves forward in an unseemly public 
sort; but they had shared the early trials of the gospel 
with St. Paul. At Corinth the women assumed much 
and the apostle manifests his sense of it by the re- 
proachful demand, if the word of God came out from 
them, or if it came to them only. (1 Cor. xiv. 36.) 
Thus, and not only thus, had they quite slipped aside 
from that which prevailed in the churches of the saints. 
No doubt they reasoned that, if women had gifts, why 
should they not exercise them and exercise them in all 
places ? But He who gives the gift is alone entitled tQ 



CHAPTER IV. 93 

say when, how, and by whom it is to be exercised. 
At Philippi where there was an obedient spirit, there 
might have been too great rekictance to meddle with 
these otherwise estimable women who were estranged 
from each other. The apostle bids Epaphroditus to ren- 
der his help. " Help them who are such as contended 
with me in the gospel." He gives them special praise. 
They strove for and with him in the work. He joins 
himself with those persons whom his yokefellow may 
have been rather afraid of. He joins them also with 
Clement and other fellow-labourers. What tenderness 
in touching the case ! He encourages the fellowship in 
the service of the gospel not only with faithful men, but 
with women whose faithfulness was not forgotten, be- 
cause there were painful hindrances just now. 

But now, leaving the question of variance among them, 
he returns to his topic of exceeding joy. He had been 
encouraging one who had his sympathy and confidence 
to help these women. He now calls on all to rejoice in 
the Lord alway. If he touched on these sorrows, let 
them not suppose that he wanted to damp their joy: on 
the contrary, " rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I 
say rejoice." This, let me repeat, is an important thing 
practically. It is a total mistake when we allow diffi- 
culties or differences among the saints of God to hinder 
our perfect delight in the Lord. Do we desire the 
glory of Christ among those who are His ? I must 
always maintain that glory in my own soul if I am to 
be a witness to Christ among others. Is the Lord's 



94 PHILIPPIANS. 

love affected or at least enfeebled bj these passing cir- 
cumstances ? Is His glory less bright because some 
shades of self have betrayed themselves over the brow 
of His saints ? Surely not. Thus he turns to the 
key-note of the epistle, that joy in the Lord of which 
he had been speaking as his own portion now, and by 
and by in chapters i., ii., and that to which they were 
called in chapter iii. and again in chapter iv. Is it not 
a sorrow to think where Christians have got to in this 
respect — how this answer of heart to Christ has faded 
away from the hearts of so many ; how even the as- 
sembling together to remember Christ in His supper 
does not always awaken fulness of joy but often an 
uneasy feeling and most painful shrinking back from 
His table as if it concealed some hidden danger, some 
lion in the way, instead of Jesus my Saviour and Lord, 
who loved me and gave Himself for me ? What humi- 
liation of spirit ought to be ours as we think of all 
that thus dishonours the name of Christ. But does 
God intend that even this should hinder our joy ? In 
no wise. Let the ruined state of God's people be in 
Israel or in the Church, those who felt it most in- 
variably enjoyed the greatest nearness to Himself and 
most of all entered into His own joy, while at the same 
time they mourned the more over the short-comings of 
those bearing His name. The two things go together. 
Show me hearts which, though godly, are not happy; 
hearts over-occupied with the circumstances of the 
Church, constantly talking about the evil and low con- 



CHAPTER IV. 95 

dition here and there; and you will never shew me 
souls that deeply enjoy the Lord and His grace; 
whereas in the person who really enjoys the Lord and 
has the consciousness of what Christ and the Church of 
God are in Christ and should be in the power of the 
Spirit now, who therefore best estimates what Christen- 
dom has become, there will be the two things harmo- 
nized — the heart resting upon Christ, dwelling in His 
love; while, at the same time, man's weakness and 
Satan's malice in ruining all can be rightly judged. 
These two things we have to cultivate. 

" Let your moderation [mildness] be known to all men. 
The Lord is at hand. Be careful [anxious] about no- 
thing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with 
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." 
(Ver. 5, 6.) To prayer is added thanksgiving, because 
the Lord is entitled to it. The heart should not forget 
what a God we are making our requests to. In the 
confidence of this let us thank Him, even when we are 
spreading our wants before Him. But he had said be- 
fore this, " Let your moderation be known unto all 
men." Supposing there is somebody who has seen us a 
little off our balance in standing upon our rights, real or 
imaginary, something which contradicted the gentleness 
of Christ, ought we not to feel humbled, and take an 
early opportunity to wipe off what may have given a 
false impression to that man's soul ? God would have 
our readiness to yield, not resist, known, and this not 
sometimes or to some persons, but to all men. By 



96 PHILIPPIANS. 

moderation the apostle means that spirit of meekness 
■which can only be where the will is not allowed to 
work actively for that which we may desire. And what 
a reason why we need not be anxious to assert a claim, 
even when we are right ! " The Lord is at hand." 
Where there is the happy feeling in the soul that one 
is doing that which pleases God, there is generally the 
readiness of trust in the Lord that puts aside anxiety 
and leaves all in His hands. Besides, He is coming soon. 

He will bring out everything that is according to 
Himself. He will bless every desire wherever there 
may have been a true testimony for Himself. He will 
give effect to it in that day. " The Lord is at hand." 
He is not come yet, but you can go to Him now and 
lay all your requests before Him, assured that He is 
near, that He is coming. And what is the result? 
" The peace of God which passeth all understanding 
shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." 
(Ver. 7.) When the heart commits to God all that 
would be a burden to it, the consequence is that His 
peace, the peace in which He moves and lives, guards us 
from the entrance of all that would harass. The 
sources of care are cast into the Lord's lap and the 
peace of God Himself, which surpasses every under- 
standing, becomes our protection. 

Wherever we have grace to spread before God what 
would have tried us (had we thought of it and kept it 
before our spirits), there is infallibly His own peace as 
the answer of God to it. The affections are at rest and 



CHAPTER IV. 97 

the working of the mind that would otherwise fore- 
cast evil. Hence all is calmed down by the peace 
of God Himself. 

Peace is viewed in more ways than one in Scripture. 
The peace of God here has nothing to do with the purg- 
ing of conscience. It is a question of keeping heart and 
mind. Where conscience is yet burdened, there is but 
one way of finding peace. '* Being justified by faith, we 
have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." 
Sins were there; and how was the moral nature and 
majesty of God to be vindicated about sin ? Far from 
God, in all our ways at war with God, how could we 
have peace with Him? The only door, through which 
we, poor enemies, pass out of such a condition into 
peace with God, is by believing the testimony He has 
given of His Son. But this is " peace with God," not 
" the peace of God." If I endeavour to get comfort 
for my conscience by spreading out my need before 
God, there is never full rest of conscience. The only 
means entitled to give rest to the sin-stricken is faith in 
God's assurance that sins are blotted out by the blood, 
and sin has been perfectly judged in the cross of the Lord 
Jesus Christ. " By him all that believe are justified." 
If one's own state mingles for a single moment with 
this, it is a delusion on such a ground to reckon upon 
peace with God. But if I believe on Christ and what 
He has done, I can boldly say that Christ deserved that 
even my sins should be forgiven. Therefore I can add, 

H 



98 PHILIPPIANS. 

" Being justified by faith, we have peace with God." The 
value is not in the faith, but in our Lord Jesus Christ. 
You cannot get the blessing without believing, but it is 
an answer to the worth of Christ in God's sight. 

But, besides this settled peace which we have through 
the work of Christ, there is the practical peace of God, 
which has nothing to do with the remission of sins 
(though assuming it as a settled thing for a founda- 
tion), but of the circumstances through which the 
believer passes day by day. Paul was in prison, when 
he wrote to the Philippians, unable to build up the 
churches or to labour in the gospel. He might have 
been cast down in spirit; but he never was more happy 
in his life. How is this ? Because, instead of being 
anxious and troubled about the danger of the Church 
and the afflictions of individuals, about souls that were 
perishing, he looked at them in connection with God, 
instead of looking at them as connected with himself. 
If God was in peace about these things, why should not 
he too be? Thus the simple resource of spreading out all 
before God and casting it off himself into the bosom of 
his Father had for its effect that God's peace kept his 
heart and mind. Nor was it special to the apostle. He 
puts it before the saints as that which ought to be 
equally their portion. It is evident there is no room 
left for anxiety. God would not have His children bur- 
dened or troubled about circumstances. Till the Lord 
come, this is the blessed source of relief. God is here 
working and His peace keeps our hearts and minds 



CHAPTER IV. 99 

through Christ Jesus, where we give Him His honour 
and our trust. 

But even this is not all, for there are other things 
which claim or test us besi(ics anxieties and cares. 
There is our ordinary christian life: what can strengthen 
us in it? Here is the word, the apostolic counsel (ver. 
8), " Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true." 
There may not be many bright spots, but there are 
some ; am I not to think of them ? This is what I 
am called upon to do — to be quick of discernment, 
seeing not what is bad but what is good. I may have 
to judge what is evil, but what God looks for is that 
the spirit should be occupied with the good. " What- 
soever things are true, whatsoever things are honest 
[rather, venerable, or noble], 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 there be any praise, think on these 
things." Our consciences can answer whether these are 
the things we are most apt to think about. If we are 
swift tt) hear not of these things but all that is painful, 
while slow to hear whatever is of God, the consequence 
is, instead of having the God of peace as our com- 
panion, we have ourselves and others hindered by evil 
thoughts and communications. For that which the 
soul wants is only what is good. We are not exhorted 
to be learned in the iniquity of world or church, but 
** wise unto that which is good and simple concerning 
evil." God has given those whom He qualifies to judge 



100 PHILIPPIANS. 

evil, — spiritual men who can take it up as a duty to 
Him, and with sorrow and love towards those con- 
cerned; but these God employs, among other purposes, 
for the sake of keeping His saints in general out of 
the need of such tasks. It is happy that we are not 
all called upon to search and pry into evil, seeing 
and hearing its details ; but that, while the Lord may 
graciously interfere to guard us from being mistaken, 
our proper wisdom is growing in what is according to 
God. Why, ordinarily, should a simple child of God 
occupy himself, for instance, with a bad book or a 
false teacher ? It is enough for us if we have good 
ground to know that a thing is mischievous, and all we 
have then to do is to avoid it. If, on the contrary, I 
know of something good, it has a claim on love and 
respect; it is not only for myself but for others. We 
are never right if we shut up our hearts from the 
sympathy of Christ with the members of His body or 
the workings of His Spirit here below. If there were 
even a poor Roman Catholic priest, who knew and 
brought out the truth of God more plainly than others, 
let us not say, " can any good thing come out of Naza- 
reth ?" but, come and see if any thing come with 
adequate evidence of having God's stamp upon it. Let 
us not limit Him who is above all circumstances ; even 
if there be that which is most distressing, let us thank 
God that His gracious power refuses to be bound by any 
limits of man. It is of great importance that we should 
have largeness of heart to think of all that is good, 
wherever it may be. 



CHAPTER IV. 101 

" Those things which ye bo^-h learned, and received, 
and heard, and saw in me, do." (Ver. 9.) If ever there 
was a man with a large heart, it was the Apostle Paul. 
And yet no servant of God had a deeper view of evil, 
and a more intense abhorrence of it. Here the Spirit 
directs them by what they had seen in his own spirit and 
ways. It is not matter of doctrine but his practical 
life. This goes farther than supplanting anxiety by the 
safeguard of God's own peace ; it is the practical power 
of positive good. What is the effect upon the heart ? 
" The God of peace shall be with you." " The God of 
peace" is far more than even " the peace of God." It 
is Himself the source; it is the enjoyment of His own 
blessed presence in this way. There is relief in having 
the " peace of God" as the guard of our hearts and minds ; 
there is, power in having " the God of peace" with us. 
Want we anything ? Impossible. " But I rejoiced in 
the Lord greatly that now at the last your care of me 
flourished again ; wherein ye were also careful, but ye 
lacked opportunity." They had shown love to the 
Apostle Paul at a previous time, as we find afterwards 
(ver. 15) where he contrasts " the beginning of the 
gospel" with " at the last." 

The Philippians had been favoured of God and had 
shown their love to the apostle in their early days. He 
had not forgotten it. It would appear that he rarely 
received from the saints of God, perhaps because he 
met with but few even among them that could have 
been trusted. It would have wrought evil by reason 
h2 



i02 PHILIPPIANS. 

of their want of spiritual feeling. They might have 
thought something of it, or the gospel might have 
suffered in their minds or with others through it. 
But the Philippians were sufficiently simple and spiri- 
tual; and we know what delicate feelings the power of 
the Spirit can produce. They, accordingly, had the 
privilege of ministering to his wants. This the apostle 
alludes to, and with exceeding sweetness of feeling on 
his part. He felt that the word, " at the last," might 
be construed into a kind of reproach, as if they had 
forgotten him for a long time. He hastens to add 
therefore, " wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked 
opportunity." (Ver. 10.) On the other hand, he guards 
them against supposing he wanted more from them. 
" Not that I speak in respect of want." (Yer. 11.) In the 
corrupt heart of man, the very expression of gratitude 
may be an oblique hint that further favours would not 
be amiss. The apostle cuts off all thought of this by 
the words, " I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, 
therewith to be content." This is not indigenous to 
human nature. Even Paul may not always have known 
it : he had ledrnt it. " I know both how to be abased and 
I know how to abound." (Ver. 12.) His experience had 
known betimes what it was to be in absolute want, as 
he knew what it was to have want of nothing. 
" Everywhere and in all things I am instructed, both 
to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to 
suffer. I can do all things through him [the true 
reading] who strengtheneth me." A wonderful thing 



CHAPTER IV. 103 

for a man in prison to say, one who apparently was in 
most abject circumstances, and in no small danger — 
unable to do anything, men would say. But faith 
speaks according to God, and the man who can do 
nothing in the judgment of his fellows, is the very one 
who could say he had strength for all things in Him 
that strengthened him. (Ver. 13.) 

When the world comes into collision with a Christian, 
when it criminates, robs, and imprisons him, when the 
Christian is evidently as happy as before, and speaks of 
his riches as much as before, the world cannot but feel 
it has come into contact with a power that is entirely 
above its own. Whenever it is not so, we have failed. 
What the world should find in us under all circum- 
stances, is the expression of Christ and His strength. 
It is not merely when the trial comes that we should 
go to the Lord and spread out our failure before Him ; 
we ought to be with Him before it. If we wait for 
the trial, we shall not stand. In our Lord's case you 
will find that where there was victory in the power of 
faith, our Lord went through the suffering before it 
came. He went through it with God, yet no one felt trial 
as He. This therefore does not make the suffering less 
but the contrary. Take the garden of Gethsemane as 
an instance. What saint but our Lord ever sweated 
drops of blood in the prospect of death ? Hence others 
may have entered into it in some little degree ; and the 
measure has always been the power of the Spirit of 
God giving them to feel what is contrary to God in 



104 PHILIPPIANS. 

this world : for in this world whoever loves most suffers 
most. But here was one who had suffered much, who 
knew rejection as few men ever knew it, who had found 
the world's enmity as it is the lot of not many to 
prove. And yet this man, under these circumstances, 
says he has strength for all things through Him 
who strengthened him. Be assured that a blessed 
strengthener is near every one who leans upon Him. 
Paul does not speak here of apostolic privilege, but as 
a saint, a ground on which he can link himself with us, 
that we may learn to walk in the same path which he 
was treading himself. Having freely owned their love 
(in verses 14 — 16), having shown that it was because 
he desired fruit that might abound to their account in 
verse 17, he closes all with this: "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." 
(Ver. 18.) And marvellous to say, he is a giver himself. 
At any rate he counts upon One who would give 
everything that was needed in full supply. " But my 
God shall supply all your need, according to His riches 
in glory by Christ Jesus." (Ver. 19.) 

What language from a man who had been just in 
want, and whose want had been supplied by these 
saints ! Now he turns round and says, " My God shall 
supply all your need.'^ The God whose love and care 
and resources he had proved through all his christian 
career — " my Godj' he says, " shall supply all your need 



CHAPTER IV. 105 

according to his riches in glory ty Christ Jesns." He 
is supplying the saints now according to all the wealth 
of His resources even in glory in Christ. There the 
shadow of a want will be unknown ; but God is acting 
according to the same riches now. Therefore the apostle 
breaks forth in praise to God forthwith. " Now unto 
God and our Father be glory for ever and ever, Amen." 
(Ver. 20.) There is a notable change in the phraseology. 
He says first, " My God shall supply all your need," 
and afterwards, " our God and Father." When it is a 
question of experimental knowledge and confidence, he 
could not say " our God," because they might not have 
the same measure of acquaintance with His love as he 
had who had proved and learnt so profoundly and va- 
riedly what God is. But when he ascribes unto the 
ages of ages glory to God the Father, he cannot but 
join them fully with himself. " Now unto our God and 
Father be glory," &c. His heart goes out to all believers. 
" Salute every saint in Christ Jesus." (Ver. 21.) What 
a joy for those in Philippi to hear of brethren in unex- 
pected quarters ! The apostle had gone to Rome to be 
tried before Caesar. Now, it appears, there were those 
of the imperial household who sent special salutation 
through the apostle to the Philippians. " The brethren 
which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, 
chiefly they that are of Csesar's household." (Ver. 21, 22.) 
The heart gets wonderful relief in seeing the things 
that are lovely and of good report, and calculated to 
give our hearts confidence in the darkest day. What- 



106 PHILIPPIANS. 

ever tlie great trial of the present time (and never were 
there subtler snares or more imminent danger), there 
is no less grace in God, no less blessing to man in view 
of all. Let us not forget the word, " Rejoice in the 
Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." (Ver. 4.) This 
epistle was not written as looiiing back upon the day of 
Pentecost, but for a time when the apostle was cut off 
from helping the churches, and when the saints were 
warned that they must work out their own salvation 
with fear and trembling. But the trial is yet sharper 
for the spirit, if not bodily, for those who would walk 
with the Lord now. Let us not doubt His love, but 
be sure that God is above all circumstances. If God 
has cast our lot in these days, let us not doubt His 
goodness, but know that we may have as deep and 
even deeper joy because the joy is less in saints, less in 
circumstances, and more exclusively in Christ. It was 
sin that hindered the Church's blessedness in these ways 
and others; but since we have been called when and 
where we are now, may we eschew the unbelieving wish to 
exchange this time for any other. It is a question very 
simply of faith in God. He loves us and He cares for 
us. May our hearts answer to the perfections of His 
grace. While feeling the sorrow of the saints, of the 
gospel, of the Church more deeply, as all affects the glory 
of God, let us leave room in our hearts to count upon a 
known, tried God, who ever will be God, superior to all 
difficulties, foes, snares, and sorrows. " The grace of the 
Lord Jesu€. Christ be with your spirit. Amen." (Ver. 23.) 

FINIS. 



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