Philippians 4Philippians CHAPTER 4 ANALYSIS OF THE CHAPTER. THIS chapter comprises the following points :-- I. Exhortations. II. Solemn commands to live as became Christians. III. The expression of a grateful acknowledgment of the favours which he had received from them; and, IV. The customary salutations. I. Exhortations, Php 4:1-3. (1.) He exhorts them to stand fast in the Lord, Php 4:1 (2.) He entreats Euodias and Syntyche, who appear to have been alienated from each other, to be reconciled, Php 4:2 (3.) He entreats one whom he calls a "true yokefellow" to render assistance to those women who had laboured with him in the gospel, Php 4:3. II. Commands, Php 4:4-9. He commands them to rejoice in the Lord always, Php 4:4; to let their moderation be known to all, Php 4:5; to have no anxiety about worldly matters, but in all their necessities to go to God. Php 4:6,7; and to do whatever was honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, Php 4:8,9. III. A grateful acknowledgment of their kindness, Php 4:10-19. He says that their care of him had been manifested again, in such away as to be highly grateful to his feelings, Php 4:10. He did not indeed say that he had suffered, for he had learned, in whatever state he was, to be content, Php 4:11-13; but they had shown a proper spirit in endeavouring to relieve his necessities, Php 4:14. He remarks that their church was the only one that had aided him when he was in Macedonia, and that they had sent to him more than once when he was in Thessalonica; and says that their favour now was an offering acceptable to God, who would abundantly reward them, Php 4:15-20. IV. Salutations, Php 4:21-23. Verse 1. Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for. Doddridge unites this verse with the previous chapter, and supposes that it is the proper close of the solemn statement which the apostle makes there. The word therefore ωστε has undoubted reference to the remarks made there; and the meaning is, that in view of the fact that there were many professed Christians who were not sincere-- that the "citizenship" of all true Christians was in heaven, and that Christians looked for the coming of the Lord Jesus, who would make them like to himself, the apostle exhorts them to stand fast ill the Lord. The accumulation of epithets of endearment in this verse shows his tender regard for them, and is expressive of his earnest solicitude for their welfare, anti his deep conviction of their danger. The term "longed for" is expressive of strong affection. Php 1:8, 2:26. My joy. The source of my joy. He rejoiced in the fact that they had been converted under him; and in their holy walk and theft friendship. Our chief joy is in our friends; and the chief happiness of a minister of the gospel is in the pure lives of those to whom he ministers. See 3Jn 1:4. And crown. Comp. 1Thes 2:19. The word crown means a circlet, chaplet, or diadem, (1.) as the emblem of royal dignity-- the symbol of office; (2.) as the prize conferred on victors in the public games, 1Cor 9:25; and hence as an emblem of the rewards of a future life, 2Ti 4:8, Jas 1:12, 1Pet 5:4; (3) anything that is an ornament or honour, as one glories in a crown Comp. Pr 12:4, "A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband;" Prov 14:24, "The crown of the wise is their riches;" Prov 16:31, "The hoary head is a crown of glory; Prov 17:6, "Children's children are the crown of old men." The idea here is, that the church at Philippi was that in which the apostle gloried. He regarded it as a high honour to have been the means of founding such a church, and he looked upon it with the same interest with which a monarch looks upon the diadem which he wears. So stand fast in the Lord. In the service of the Lord, and in the strength which he imparts. Eph 6:13, Eph 6:14. Verse 2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche. These are doubtless the names of females. The name Syntyche is sometimes the name of a man; but, if these persons are referred to in Php 4:3, there can be no doubt that they were females. Nothing more is known of them than is here mentioned. It has been commonly supposed that they were deaconesses, who preached the gospel to those of their own sex; but there is no certain evidence of this. All that is known is, that there was some disagreement between them, and the apostle entreats them to be reconciled to each other. That they be of the same mind. That they be united, or reconciled. Whether the difference related to doctrine, or to something else, we cannot determine from this phrase. The language is such as would properly relate to any difference. In the Lord. In their Christian walk and plans. They were doubtless professing Christians, and the apostle exhorts them to make the Lord the great object of their affections, and, in their regard for him, to bury all their petty differences and animosities. Verse 3. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow. It is not known to whom the apostle refers here. No name is mentioned, and conjecture is useless. All that is known is, that it was some one whom Paul regarded as associated with himself in labour, and one who was so prominent at Philippi that it would be understood who was referred to, without more particularly mentioning him. The presumption therefore is, that it was one of the ministers or "bishops" Php 1:1) of Philippi, who had been particularly associated with Paul when he was there. The epistle was addressed to the "church, with the bishops and deacons," Php 1:1; and the fact that this one had been particularly associated with Paul would serve to designate him with sufficient particularity. Whether he was related to the women referred to is wholly unknown. Doddridge supposes that he might be the husband of one of these women; but of that there is no evidence. The term "yokefellow" συζυγος-- some have understood as a proper name, (Syzygus;) but the proper import of the word is yokefellow, and there is no reason to believe that it is used here to denote a proper name. If it had been, it is probable that some other word than that here used and rendered true-- γνησιος--would have been employed. The word true γνησιος--means that he was sincere, faithful, worthy of confidence. Paul had had evidence of his sincerity and fidelity; and he was a proper person, therefore, to whom to entrust a delicate and important business. Help those women. The common opinion is, that the women here referred to were Euodias and Syntyche, and that the office which the friend of Paul was asked to perform was, to secure a reconciliation between them. There is, however, no certain evidence of this. The reference seems rather to be to influential females who had rendered important assistance to Paul when he was there. The kind of "help" which was to be imparted was probably by counsel, and friendly co-operation in the duties which they were called to perform. There is no evidence that it refers to pecuniary aid; and, had it referred to a reconciliation of those who were at variance, it is probable that some other word would have been used than that here rendered help--συλλαμβανου. Which laboured with me in the Gospel. As Paul did not permit women to preach, (1Timm 2:12 comp. 1Cor 11:5,) he must have referred here to some other services which they had rendered. There were deaconesses in the primitive churches, (Rom 16:1; 1Timm 5:9, seq.,) to whom was probably entrusted particularly the care of the female members of a church. In the custom which prevailed in the oriental world of excluding females from the public gaze, and of confining them to their houses, it would not be practicable for the apostles to have access to them. The duties of instructing and exhorting them were then probably entrusted chiefly to pious females; and in this way important aid would be rendered in the gospel. Paul could regard such as "labouring with him," though they were not engaged in preaching. With Clement also. That is, they were associated with Clement, and with the other fellow-labourers of Paul, in aiding him in the gospel. Clement was doubtless some one who was well known among them; and the apostle felt that, by associating them with him, as having been real helpers in the gospel, their claim to respectful attention would be better appreciated. Who Clement was is unknown. Most of the ancients say it was Clement of Rome, one of the primitive fathers. But there is no evidence of this. The name Clement was common, and there is no improbability in supposing that there might have been a preacher of this name in the church at Philippi. Whose names are in the book of life. Isa 4:3. The phrase, "the book of life," which occurs here, and in Rev 3:5, 13:8, 20:12,15, 21:27, 22:19, is a Jewish phrase, and refers originally to a record or catalogue of names, as the roll of an army. It then means to be among the living, as the name of an individual would be erased from a catalogue when he was deceased. The word life here refers to eternal life; and the whole phrase refers to those who were enrolled among the true friends of God, or who would certainly be saved. The use of this phrase here implies the belief of Paul that these persons were true Christians. Names that are written in the book of life will not be blotted out. If the hand of God records them there, who can obliterate them? (*) "yokefellow" "companion" Verse 4. Rejoice in the Lord alway. Php 3:1. It is the privilege of Christians to do this, not at certain periods and at distant intervals, but at all times they may rejoice that there is a God and Saviour; they may rejoice ill the character, law, and government of God--in his promises, and in communion with him. The Christian, therefore, may be, and should be, always a happy man. If everything else changes, yet the Lord does not change; if the sources of all other joy are dried up, yet this is not; and there is not a moment of a Christian's life in which he may not find joy in the character, law, and promises of God. (a) "Rejoice in the Lord alway" Rev 22:7,20 Verse 5. Let your moderation be known unto all men. That is, let it be such that others may see it. This does not mean that they were to make an ostentatious display of it, but that it should be such a characteristic of their lives that it would be constantly visible to others. The word moderation επιεικες--refers to restraint on the passions, general soberness of living, being free from all excesses. The word properly means that which is fit or suitable, and then propriety, gentleness, mildness.--They were to indulge in no excess of passion, or dress, or eating, or drinking. They were to govern their appetites, restrain their temper, and to be examples of what was proper for men in view of the expectation that the Lord would soon appear. The Lord is at hand. Is near. Php 3:20; 1Cor 16:22. This has the appearance of being a phrase in common use among the early Christians, and as being designed to keep before their minds a lively impression of an event which ought, by its anticipation, to produce an important effect. Whether, by this phrase, they commonly understood the coming of the Lord to destroy Jerusalem, or to remove them by death, or to judge the world, or to reign personally on the earth, it is impossible now to determine, and is not very material to a proper understanding of its use here. The idea is, that the expectation that the Lord Jesus will "come" ought to be allowed to produce moderation of our passions, in our manner of living, in our expectations of what this world can furnish, and in our desires of earthly good. On him who feels that he is soon to die, and to stand at the bar of God-- on him who expects soon to see the Lord Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven, it cannot fail to have this effect. Men indulge their passions--are extravagant in their plans of life, and in their expectations of earthly good for themselves and for their families, because they have no realizing sense of the truth that there is before them a vast eternity. He that has a lively expectation that heaven will soon be his, will form very moderate expectations of what this world can furnish. (b) "moderation be known" 1Cor 9:25 (c) "Lord is at hand" Rev 22:7,20 Verse 6. Be careful for nothing. That is, be not anxious or solicitous about the things of the present life. The word here used--μεριμνατε --does not mean that we are to exercise no care about worldly matters--no care to preserve our property, or to provide for our families, (1Timm 5:8;) but that there is to be such confidence in God as to free the mind from anxiety, and such a sense of dependence on him as to keep it calm. See the subject explained Mt 6:25. But in every thing. Everything in reference to the supply of your wants, and the wants of your families; everything in respect to afflictions, embarrassments, and trials: and everything relating to your spiritual condition. There ia nothing which pertains to body, mind, estate, friends, conflicts, losses, trials, hopes, fears, in reference to which we may not go and spread it all out before the Lord. By prayer and supplication. The word rendered supplication is a stronger term than the former. It is the mode of prayer peculiarly which arises from the sense of need, or want--from δεομαι, to want, to need. With thanksgiving. Thanksgiving connected with prayer. We can always find something to be thankful for, no matter what may be the burden of our wants, or the special subject of our petitions. When we pray for the supply of our wants, we may be thankful for that kind Providence which has hitherto befriended us; when we pray for restoration from sickness, we may be thankful for the health we have hitherto enjoyed, and for God's merciful interposition in the former days of trial, and for his goodness in now sparing our lives; when we pray that our children and friends may be preserved from danger and death, we may remember how often God has interposed to save them; when, oppressed with a sense of sin, we pray for pardon, we have abundant cause of thanksgiving that there is a glorious way by which we may be saved. The greatest sufferer that lives in this world of redeeming love, and who has the offer of heaven before him, has cause of gratitude. Let your request be made known unto God. Not as if you were to give him information, but to express to him your wants. God needs not to be informed of our necessities, but he requires that we come and express them to him. Comp. Eze 36:37: "Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them." (*) "careful" "anxious" (d) "careful for nothing" Mt 6:25 Verse 7. And the peace of God. The peace which God gives. The peace here particularly referred to is that which is felt when we have no anxious care about the supply of our wants, and when we go confidently and commit everything into the hands of God. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee," Isa 26:3. Jn 14:27. Which passeth all understanding. That is, which surpasses all that men had conceived or imagined. The expression is one that denotes that the peace imparted is of the highest possible kind. The apostle Paul frequently used terms which had somewhat of a hyperbolical cast, Eph 3:19; comp. Jn 21:25;) and the language here is that which one would use who designed to speak of that which was of the highest order. The Christian, committing his way to God, and feeling that he will order all things aright, has a peace which is nowhere else known. Nothing else will furnish it but religion. No confidence that a man can have in his own powers; no reliance which he can repose on his own plans or on the promises or fidelity of his fellow-men, and no calculations which he can make on the course of events, can impart such peace to the soul as simple confidence in God. Shall keep your hearts and minds. That is, shall keep them from anxiety and agitation. The idea is, that by thus making our requests known to God, and going to him in view of all our trials and wants, the mind would be preserved from distressing anxiety. The way to find peace, and to have the heart kept from trouble, is thus to go and spread out all before the Lord. Comp. Isa 26:3,4,20, 37:1-7. The word here rendered shall keep is a military term, and means that the mind would be guarded as a camp or castle is. It would be preserved from the intrusion of anxious fears and alarms. Through Christ Jesus. By his agency, or intervention. It is only in him that the mind can be preserved in peace. It is not by mere confidence in God, or by mere prayer, but it is by confidence in God as he is revealed through the Redeemer, and by faith in him. Paul never lost sight of the truth, that all the security and happiness of a believer were to be traced to the Saviour. (e) "Peace of God" Isa 26:3, Jn 14:27 Verse 8. Finally, brethren. As for what remains τολοιπον--, as a final counsel or exhortation. Whatsoever things are true. In this exhortation the apostle assumes that there were certain things admitted to be true, and pure, and good, in the world, which had not been directly revealed, or which were commonly regarded as such by the men of the world; and his object is to show them that such things ought to be exhibited by the Christian. Everything that was honest and just towards God and towards men was to be practised by them, and they were in all things to be examples of the highest kind of morality. They were not to exhibit partial virtues; not to perform one set of duties to the neglect or exclusion of others; not to be faithful in their duties to God, and to neglect their duty to men; not to be punctual in their religious rites, and neglectful of the common laws of morality; but they were to do everything that could be regarded as the fair subject of commendation, and that was implied in the highest moral character. The word true refers here to everything that was the reverse of falsehood. They were to be true to their engagements; true to their promises; true in their statements; and true in their friendships. They were to maintain the truth about God; about eternity; about the judgment; and about every man's character. Truth is a representation of things as they are; and they were constantly to live under the correct impression of objects. A man who is false to his engagements, or false in his statements and promises, is one who will always disgrace religion. Whatsoever things are honest. σεμνα. Properly, venerable, reverend; then honourable, reputable. The word was originally used in relation to the gods, and to the things that pertained to them, as being worthy of honour or veneration. Pussow. As applied to men, it commonly means grave, dignified, worthy of veneration or regard. In the New Testament it is rendered grave in 1Timm 3:8,11, and Tit 2:2, the only places where the word occurs except this; and the noun (σεμνοτης) is rendered honesty in 1Timm 2:2 and gravity in 1Timm 3:4, Tit 2:7. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The word, therefore, does not express precisely what the word honest does with us, as confined to dealings or business transactions, but rather has reference to what was regarded as worthy of reputation or honour; what there was in the customs of society, in the respect due to age and rank, and in the intercourse of the world, that deserved respect or esteem. It includes indeed what is right in the transaction of business, but it embraces also much more, and means that the Christian is to show respect to all the venerable and proper customs of society, when they did not violate conscience or interfere with the law of God. Comp. 1Timm 3:7. Whatsoever things are just. The things which are right between man and man. A Christian should be just in all his dealings. His religion does not exempt him from the strict laws which bind men to the exercise of this virtue, and there is no way by which a professor of religion can do more injury, perhaps, than by injustice and dishonesty in his dealings. It is to be remembered, that the men of the world, in estimating a man's character, affix much more importance to the virtues of justice and honesty than they do to regularity in observing the ordinances of religion; and therefore, if a Christian would make an impression on his fellow-men favourable to religion, it is indispensable that he manifest uncorrupted integrity in his dealings. Whatsoever things are pure. Chaste--in thought, and feeling, and in the intercourse between the sexes. 1Timm 5:2. Whatsoever things are lovely. The word here used means, properly, what is dear to any one; then what is pleasing. Here it means what is amiable--such a temper of mind that one can love it; or such as to be agreeable to others. A Christian should not be sour, crabbed, and irritable in his temper for nothing almost tends so much to injure the cause of religion as a temper always chafed; a brow morose and stern; an eye that is severe and unkind, and a disposition to find fault with everything. And yet it is to be regretted that there are many persons, who make no pretensions to piety, who far surpass many professors of religion in the virtue here commended. A sour and crabbed temper in a professor of religion will undo all the good that he attempts to do. Whatsoever things are of good report. That is, whatsoever is truly reputable in the world at large. There are actions which all men agree in commending, and which in all ages and countries are regarded as virtues. Courtesy, urbanity, kindness, respect for parents, purity between brothers and sisters, are among those virtues--and the Christian should be a pattern and an example in them all. His usefulness depends much more on the cultivation of these virtues than is commonly supposed. If there be any virtue. If there is anything truly virtuous. Paul did not suppose that he had given a full catalogue of the virtues which he would have cultivated. He therefore adds, that if there was anything else that had the nature of true virtue in it, they should be careful to cultivate that also. The Christian should be a pattern and example of every virtue. And if there be any praise. Anything worthy of praise, or that ought to be praised. Think on these things. Let them be the object of your careful attention and study, so as to practise them. Think what they are; think on the obligation to observe them; think on the influence which they would have on the world around you. (f) "true" Eph 4:25 (1) "honest" "venerable" (g) "honest" 2Cor 8:21 (a) "just" De 16:20, Isa 26:7 (b) "pure" Jas 3:17 (c) "lovely" 1Cor 13 (d) "if there be any virtue" Col 4:5, Heb 11:2 (e) "virtue" 2Pet 1:3,4 (f) "praise" Rom 13:3 Verse 9. Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do. That is, what you have witnessed in me, and what you have learned of me, and what you have heard about me, practise yourselves. Paul refers them to his uniform conduct--to all that they had seen, and known, and heard of him, as that which it was proper for them to imitate. The same thing, substantially, he urges in Php 3:17. Php 3:1. It could have been only the consciousness of a pure and upright life which would make such counsel proper. How few are the men at this day who can urge others to imitate all that they have seen in them, and learned from them, and heard of them. And the God of peace shall be with you. The God who gives peace. Comp. Heb 13:20, 1Thes 5:23. Php 4:7. The meaning here is, that Paul, by pursuing the course of life which he had led, and which he here counsels them to follow, had found that it had been attended with the blessing of the God of peace, and he felt the fullest assurance that the same blessing would rest on them if they imitated his example. The way to obtain the blessing of the God of peace is to lead a holy life, and to perform with faithfulness all the duties which we owe to God and to our fellow-men. (g) "God of peace" Heb 13:20 Verse 10. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly. The favour which Paul had received, and for which he felt so much gratitude, had been received of the Philippians; but he regarded "the Lord" as the source of it, and rejoiced in it as the expression of his kindness. The effect was to lead his heart with cheerfulness and joy up to God. That now at the last. After so long a time. The reason why he had not before received the favour, was not neglect or inattention on their part, but the difficulty of having communication with him. Your care of me hath flourished again. In the margin this is rendered, "is revived," and this is the proper meaning of the Greek word. It is a word properly applicable to plants or flowers, meaning to grow green again; to flourish again; to spring up again. Here the meaning is, that they had been again prospered in their care of him, and to Paul it seemed as if their care had sprung up anew. Wherein ye were also careful. That is, they were desirous to render him assistance, and to minister to his wants. Paul adds this, lest they should think he was disposed to blame them for inattention. But ye lacked opportunity. Because there were no persons going to Rome from Philippi by whom they could send to him. The distance was considerable, and it is not probable that the intercourse between the two places was very constant. (1) "hath flourished" "is revived" (*) "lacked" "wanted" (h) "opportunity" 2Cor 11:9 Verse 11. Not that I speak in respect of want. Though Paul was, doubtless, often in circumstances of necessity, yet he did not make these remarks on that account. In his journeys, in his imprisonments, he could not but be at times in want; but he had learned to bear all this; and that which most impressed itself on his mind was the interest which the church ought to show in the cause of religion, and the evidence which it would thus furnish of attachment to the cause. As to his own personal trials, he had learned to bear them, so that they did not give him great uneasiness. For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. That is, to have a contented mind. Paul says that he had "learned" this. Probably, by nature, he had a mind as prone to impatience as others, but he had been in circumstances fitted to produce a different state of feeling. He had had ample experience, (2Cor 11:26,) and, in his life of trials, he had acquired invaluable lessons on the subject. He had had abundant time for reflection, and he had found that there was grace enough in the gospel to enable him to bear trials with resignation. The considerations by which he had been taught this he does not state; but they were probably such as the following: that it is wrong to murmur at the allotments of Providence; that a spirit of impatience does no good, remedies no evil, and supplies no want; that God could provide for him in a way which he could not foresee, and that the Saviour was able abundantly to sustain him. A contented mind is an invaluable blessing, and is one of the fruits of religion in the soul. It arises from the belief that God is right in all his ways. Why should we be impatient, restless, discontented? What evil will be remedied by it? what want supplied? what calamity removed? "He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast," Provo 15:15; and one of the secrets of happiness is to have a mind satisfied with all the allotments of Providence. The members of the Episcopal church beautifully pray, every day, "Give us minds always contented with our present condition." No prayer can be offered which will enter more deeply into all our happiness on earth. (i) "content" Heb 13:5 Verse 12. I know both how to be abased. To be in circumstances of want. And I know how to abound. To have an abundance. He had been in circumstances where he had an ample supply for all his wants, and knew what it was to have enough. It requires as much grace to keep the heart right in prosperity as it does in adversity, and perhaps more. Adversity, of itself, does something to keep the mind in a right state; prosperity does nothing. Every where and in all things. In all my travels and imprisonments, and in reference to everything that occurs, I learn important lessons on these points. I am instructed. The word here used μεμυημαι -- is one that is commonly used in relation to mysteries, and denoted being instructed in the secret doctrines that were taught in the ancient "mysteries." Passow. In those mysteries, it was only the "initiated" who were made acquainted with the lessons that were taught there. Paul says that he had been initiated into the lessons taught by trials and by prosperity. The secret and important lessons which these schools of adversity are fitted to teach he had had an ample opportunity of learning; and he had faithfully embraced the doctrines thus taught. Both to be full. That is, he had learned to have an ample supply of his wants, and yet to observe the laws of temperance and soberness, and to cherish gratitude for the mercies which he had enjoyed. And to be hungry. That is, to be in circumstances of want, and yet not to murmur or complain. He had learned to bear all this without discontent. This was then, as it is now, no easy lesson to learn; and it is not improper to suppose that, when Paul says that he had "been instructed" in this, even he means to say that it was only by degrees that he had acquired it. It is a lesson which we slowly learn, not to murmur at the allotments of Providence; not to be envious at the prosperity of others; not to repine when our comforts are removed. There may be another idea suggested here. The condition of Paul was not always the same. He passed through great reveries. At one time he had abundance; then he was reduced to want; now he was in a state which might be regarded as affluent; then he was brought down to extreme poverty. Yesterday, he was poor and hungry; today, all his necessities are supplied. Now, it is in these sudden reverses that grace is most needed, and in these rapid changes of life that it is most difficult to learn the lessons of calm contentment. Men get accustomed to an even tenor of life, no matter what it is, and learn to shape theft temper and their calculations according to it. But these lessons of philosophy vanish when they pass suddenly from one extreme to another, and find their condition of life suddenly changed. The garment that was adapted to weather of an uniform temperature, whether of heat or cold, fails to be fitted to our wants when these transitions rapidly succeed each other. Such changes are constantly occurring in life. God tries his people, not by a steady course of prosperity, or by long-continued and uniform adversity, but by transition from the one to the other; and it often happens that the grace which would have been sufficient for either continued prosperity or adversity would fail in the transition from the one to the other. Hence, new grace is imparted for this new form of trial, and new traits of Christian character are developed in these rapid transitions in life, as some of the most beautiful exhibitions of the laws of matter are brought out in the transitions produced in chemistry. The rapid changes from heat to cold, or from a solid to a gaseous state, develop properties before unknown, and acquaint us much more intimately with the wonderful works of God. The gold or the diamond, unsubjected to the action of intense heat, and to the changes produced by the powerful agents brought to bear on them, might have continued to shine with steady beauty and brilliancy; but we should never have witnessed the peculiar beauty and brilliancy which may be produced in rapid chemical Changes. And so there is many a beautiful trait of character which would never have been known by either continued prosperity or adversity. There might have been always a beautiful exhibition of virtue and piety, but not that peculiar manifestation which is produced in the transitions from the one to the other. (*) "need" "want" Verse 13. I can do all things. From the experience which Paul had in these various circumstances of life, he comes here to the general conclusion that he could "do all things." He could bear any trial, perform any duty, subdue any evil propensity of his nature, and meet all the temptations incident to any condition of prosperity or adversity. His own experience in the various changes of life had warranted him in arriving at this conclusion; and he now expresses the firm confidence that nothing would be required of him which he would not be able to perform. In Paul, this declaration was not a vain self-reliance, nor was it the mere result of his former experience. He knew well where the strength was to be obtained by which to do all things, and on that arm that was able to uphold him he confidently relied. Through Christ which strengtheneth me. Jn 15:5. Of the strength which Christ can impart Paul had had abundant experience; and now his whole reliance was there. It was not in any native ability which he had; not in any rigour of body or of mind; not in any power which there was in his own resolutions; it was in the strength that he derived from the Redeemer. By that he was enabled to bear cold, fatigue, and hunger; by that he met temptations and persecutions; and by that he engaged in the performance of his arduous duties. Let us learn hence, (1.) that we need not sink under any trial, for there is One who can strengthen us. (2.) That we need not yield to temptation: there is One who is able to make a way for our escape. (3.) That we need not be harassed, and vexed, and tortured with improper thoughts and unholy desires: there is One who can enable us to banish such thoughts from the mind, and restore the right balance to the affections of the soul. (4.) That We need not dread what is to come. Trials, temptations, poverty, want, persecution, may await us; but we need not sink into despondency. At every step of life, Christ is able to strengthen us, and can bring us triumphantly through. What a privilege it is, therefore, to be a Christian--to feel, in the trials of life, that we have one Friend, unchanging and most mighty, who can always help us! How cheerfully should we engage in our duties, and meet the trials that are before us, leaning on the arm of our Almighty Redeemer ! Let us not shrink from duty; let us not dread persecution; let us not fear the bed of death. In all circumstances, Christ, our unchanging Friend, can uphold us. Let the eye and the affections of the heart be fixed on him; let the simple, fervent, believing prayer be directed always to him when trials come, when temptations assail, when duty presses hard upon us, and when a crowd of unholy and forbidden thoughts rush into the soul, and we shall be safe. (a) "through Christ" Jn 15:5, 2Cor 12:9 Verse 14. Notwithstanding ye have well done. Though he had learned the grace of contentment, and though he knew that Christ could enable him to do all things, it was well for them to show sympathy for his sufferings; for it evinced a proper regard for a benefactor and an apostle. Ye did communicate. You took part with my affliction. That is, you sympathized with me, and assisted me in bearing it. The relief which they had sent not only supplied his wants, but it sustained him by the certainty that he was not forgotten. (+) "with my affliction" "Have jointly contributed to relieve" Verse 15. In the beginning of the Gospel. "At the time when I first preached the gospel to you; or when the gospel began its benign influence on your hearts." When I departed from Macedonia. See Acts 17:14. The last place that Paul visited in Macedonia, at that time, was Berea. There a tumult was excited by the Jews, and it was necessary for him to go away. He left Macedonia to go to Athens; and left it in haste, amidst scenes of persecution, and when he needed sympathizing aid. At that time, as well as when he was in Thessalonica, Acts 17:1-10, he needed the assistance of others to supply his wants; and he says that aid was not withheld. The meaning here is, that this aid was sent to him "as he was departing from Macedonia;" that is, alike in Thessalonica and afterwards. This was about twelve years before this epistle was written. Doddridge. No church communicated with me. No church so participated with me in my sufferings and necessities as to send to my relief. Comp. 2Cor 11:8,9. Why they did not, Paul does not intimate. It is not necessary to suppose that he meant to blame them. They might not have been acquainted with his necessities. All that is implied here is, that he specially commends the Philippians for their attention to him. (b) "no church" 2Cor 11:8,9 (++) "communicated" "had intercourse" Verse 16. For even in Thessalonica. Acts 17:1. Paul remained there long enough to establish a flourishing church. He met, indeed, with much opposition and persecution there; and hence it was necessary that his wants should be supplied by others. Verse 17. Not because I desire a gift. "The reason why I rejoice in the reception of what you have sent to me is not that I am covetous." From the interest with which he had spoken of their attention to him, some might, perhaps, be disposed to say that it arose from this cause, he says, therefore, that, grateful as he was for the favour which he had received, his chief interest in it arose from the fact that it would contribute ultimately to their own good. It showed that they were governed by Christian principle, and this would not fail to be rewarded. What Paul states here is by no means impossible, though it may not be very common. In the reception of favours from others, it is practicable to rejoice in them mainly, because their bestowment will be a means of good to the benefactor himself. All our selfish feelings and gratifications may be absorbed and lost in the superior joy which we have in seeing others actuated by a right spirit, and in the belief that they will be rewarded. This feeling is one of the fruits of Christian kindness. It is that which leads us to look away from self, and to rejoice in every evidence that others will be made happy. I desire fruit. The word "fruit" is often used in the Scriptures, as elsewhere, to denote results, or that which is produced. Thus we speak of punishment as the fruit of sin, poverty as the fruit of idleness, and happiness as the fruit of a virtuous life. The language is taken from the fact, that a man reaps or gathers the fruit or result of that which he plants. To your account, A phase taken from commercial dealings. The apostle wished that it might be set down to their credit, he desired that, when they came to appear before God, they might reap the benefit of all the acts of kindness which they had shown him. Verse 18. But I have all. Marg., "or, have received." The phrase here is equivalent to, "I have received everything. I have all I want, and desire no more." He was entirely satisfied. What they had sent to him is, of course, now unknown. It is sufficient to know that it was of such a nature as to make his situation comfortable. I am full. I have enough. This is a strong expression, denoting that by nothing was lacking. Having received of Epaphroditus. Php 2:25. An odour of a sweet smell. This does not mean that it was such an odour to Paul, but to God. He regarded it as an offering which they had made to God himself; and he was persuaded that he would regard it as acceptable to him. They had doubtless made the offering, not merely from personal friendship for Paul, but because he was a minister of Christ, and from love to his cause; and Paul felt assured that this offering would be acceptable to him. Comp. Mt 10:41,42. The word "odour" refers, properly, to the pleasant fragrance produced in the temple by the burning of incense. Lk 1:9. On the meaning of the word rendered "a sweet smell" ευωδια-- 2Cor 2:15. The whole language here is taken from an act of worship; and the apostle regarded what he had received from the Philippians as, in fact, a thank-offering to God, and as presented with the spirit of true devotion to him. It was not, indeed, a formal act of worship; but it was acceptable to God as an expression of their regard for his cause. A sacrifice acceptable. Acceptable to God. Heb 13:16. Rom 12:1. Well-pleasing to God. Because it evinced a regard for true religion. Learn hence, (1.) that kindness done to the ministers of the gospel is regarded as an acceptable offering to God. (2.) That kindness to the servants of God in distress and want is as well-pleasing to God as direct acts of worship. (3.) That such acts of benevolence are evidences of attachment to the cause of religion, and are proofs of genuine piety. Mt 10:42. (1) "have all" "have received" (a) "sacrifice acceptable" Heb 13:16 Verse 19. But my God shall supply all your need. That is, "You have shown your regard for me as a friend of God, by sending to me in my distress, and I have confidence that, in return for all this, God will supply all your wants when you are in circumstances of necessity." Paul's confidence in this seems not to have been founded on any express revelation; but on the general principle that God would regard their offering with favour. Nothing is lost, even in the present life, by doing good. In thousands of instances it is abundantly repaid. The benevolent are not usually poor; and if they are, God often raises up for them benefactions, and sends supplies in a manner as unexpected, and bearing proofs of Divine interposition as decided, as when supplies were sent by the ravens to the prophet. According to his riches in glory, Eph 3:16. The word "riches" here means his abundant fulness; his possessing all things; his inexhaustible ability to supply their wants. The phrase, "in glory," is probably to be connected with the following phrase, "by Christ Jesus;" and means that the method of imparting supplies to men was through Jesus Christ, and was a glorious method; or, that it was done in a glorious manner. It is such an expression as Paul is accustomed to use when speaking of what God does. He is not satisfied with saying simply that it is so; but connects with it the idea that whatever God does is done in a way worthy of himself, and so as to illustrate his own perfections. By Christ Jesus. By the medium of Christ; or through him. All the favours that Paul expected for himself, or his fellowmen, he believed would be conferred through the Redeemer. Even the supply of our temporal wants comes to us through the Saviour. Were it not for the atonement, there is no more reason, to suppose that blessings would be conferred on men than that they would be on fallen angels. For them no atonement has been made; and at the hand of justice they have received only wretchedness and woe. (b) "supply all your" Ps 23:1 (*) "need" "wants" (c) "riches in glory" Verse 20. Now unto God and our Father, etc. Rom 16:27. It was common for Paul to address such an ascription of praise to God, at the close of his epistles. (d) "unto God" Rom 16:27 (+) "Father" "Our God and Father" Verse 21. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. It was usual for him also to close his epistles with affectionate salutations to various members of the churches to which he wrote. These salutations are generally specific, and mention the names, particularly if prominent members of the churches. See the close of the epistles to the Romans; 1Corinthians; Colossians; and 2 Timothy. In this epistle, however, as in some others, the salutation is general. Why none are specified in particular is not certainly known. The brethren which are with me, etc. The word "brethren" here probably refers to ministers that were with Paul, as the "saints" in general are mentioned in the next verse. It is possible that at Rome the ministers were known by the general name of the brethren. --Pierce. Verse 22. All the saints salute you. All in Rome, where this epistle was written. No individuals are specified, perhaps because none of the Christians at Rome were personally known to the church at Philippi. They would, however, feel a deep interest in a church which had thus the confidence and affection of Paul. There is reason to believe that the bonds of affection among the churches then were much stronger than they are now. There was a generous warmth in the newness of the Christian affections the first ardour of love; and the common trials to which they were exposed would serve to bind them closely together. Chiefly they that are of Caesar's household. That is, of Nero, who was at that time the reigning emperor. The name Caesar was given to all the emperors after the time of Julius Caesar, as the name Pharaoh was the common name of the kings of Egypt. The phrase here used--"the household of Caesar"--may refer to the relatives of the emperor; and it is certainly possible that some of them may have been converted to Christianity. But it does not of necessity refer to those related to him, but may be applied to his domestics, or to some of the officers of the court that were more particularly employed around his person and as it is more probable that some of them would be converted than his own relatives, it is more safe to suppose that they were intended. Php 1:13. Verse 23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, etc. Rom 16:20. In regard to the subscription at the end of this epistle it may be remarked, as has been done of the other subscriptions at the end of the epistles, that it is of no authority whatever. There is no reason, however, to doubt that in this case it is correct. The epistle bears internal evidence of having been written from Rome, and was doubtless sent by Epaphroditus. See the Intro., 3. There is considerable variety in the subscription. The Greek is, "It was written to the Philippians from Rome by Epaphroditus." The Syriac, "The epistle to the Philippians was written from Rome, and sent by Epaphroditus." The AEthiopic, "To the Philippians, by Timothy." REMARKS. The principal lessons taught in this dosing chapter are the following:-- (1.) It is our duty to be firm in the Lord, in all the trials, temptations, and persecutions to which we may be exposed, Php 4:1. This duty should be pressed on Christians by their teachers, and by each other, by all that is tender and sacred in the Christian profession, and all that is endearing in Christian friendship. Like Paul, we should appeal to others as "brethren dearly beloved and longed for; "and by all their affection for us we should entreat them to be steadfast in the Christian profession. As their "joy and crown," also, ministers should desire that their people should be holy. Their own happiness and reward is to be closely connected with the firmness with which their people maintain the principles of the Christian faith. If Christians, therefore, wish to impart the highest joy to their religious teachers, and to exalt them as high as possible m future happiness and glory, they should strive to be faithful to their great Master, and to be steadfast in attachment to his cause. (2.) It is the duty of those who have from any cause been alienated, to seek to be reconciled, Php 4:2. They should be of the same mind. Almost nothing does more to hinder the cause of religion than alienations and bickerings among its professed friends. It is possible for them to live in harmony, and to be of the same mind in the Lord; and such is the importance of this, that it well deserves to be enforced by apostolic authority and persuasion. It may be observed, also, that in the case referred to in this chapter--that of Euodias and Syntyche--the exhortation to reconciliation is addressed to both. Which was in the wrong, or whether both were is not intimated, and is not needful for us to know. It is enough to know that there was alienation, and both of them were exhorted to see that the quarrel was made up. So, in all cases where members of the church are at variance it is the business of both parties to seek to be reconciled, and neither party is right if he waits for the other before he moves in the matter. If you feel that you have been injured, go and tell your brother kindly wherein you think he has done you wrong, he may at once explain the matter, and show that you have misunderstood it, or he may make proper confession or restitution. Or, if he will do neither, you will have done your duty, Mt 18:15. If you are conscious that you have injured him, then nothing is more proper than that you should go and make confession. The blame of the quarrel rests wholly on you. And if some meddling third person has got up the quarrel between you, then go and see your brother, and disappoint the devices of the enemy of religion. (3.) It is our duty and our privilege to rejoice in the Lord always, Php 4:4. As God is unchanging, we may always find joy in him. The character of God which we loved yesterday, and in the contemplation of which we found happiness then, is the same to-day, and its contemplation will furnish the same joy to us now. His promises are the same; his government is the same; his readiness to impart consolation is the same; the support which he can give in trial and temptation is the same. Though in our own hearts we may find much over which to mourn, yet when we look away from ourselves we may find abundant sources of consolation and peace. The Christian, therefore, may be always happy. If he will look to God, and not to himself---to heaven, and not to earth-- he will find permanent and substantial sources of enjoyment. But in nothing else than God can we rejoice always. Our friends, in whom we find comfort, are taken away; the property that we thought would make us happy, fails to do so; and pleasures that we thought would satisfy, pall upon the sense and make us wretched. No man can be permanently happy who does not make THE LORD the source of joy, and who does not expect to find his chief pleasure in him. (4.) It is a privilege to be permitted to go and commit everything to God, Php 4:6,7. The mind may be in such a state that it shall feel no anxiety about anything. We may feel so certain that God will supply all our wants; that he will bestow upon us all that is really necessary for us in this life and the next, and that he will withhold from us nothing which it is not for our real good to have withheld, that the mind may be constantly in a state of peace. With a thankful heart for all the mercies which we have enjoyed --and in all cases they are many--we may go and commit ourselves to God for all that we need hereafter. Such is the privilege of religion; such an advantage is it to be a Christian. Such a state of mind will be followed by peace. And it is only in such a way that true peace can be found. In every other method there will be agitation of mind and deep anxiety. If we have not this confidence in God, and this readiness to go and commit all to him, we shall be perplexed with the cares of this life; losses and disappointments will harass us; the changes which occur will weary and wear out our spirits; and through life we shall be tossed as on a restless ocean. (5.) It is the duty of Christians to be upright in every respect Php 4:8. Every friend of the Redeemer should be a man of incorruptible and unsuspected integrity. He should be one who can always be depended on to do what is right, and pure, and true, and lovely. I know not that there is a more important verse in the New Testament than the eighth verse of this chapter. It deserves to be recorded in letters of gold in the dwelling of every Christian, and it would be well if it could be made to shine on his way as if written in characters of living light. There should be no virtue, no truth, no noble plan of benevolence, no pure and holy undertaking in society, of which the Christian should not be, according to his ability, the patron and the friend. The reasons are obvious. It is not only because this is in accordance with the law of God, but it is from its effect on the community. The people of the world judge of religion by the character of its professed friends. It is not from what they hear in the pulpit, or learn from the Bible, or from treatises on divinity; it is from what they see in the lives of those who profess to follow Christ. They mark the expression of the eye; the curl of the lip; the words that we speak; and if they perceive peevishness and irritability, they set it down to the credit of religion. They watch the conduct, the temper and disposition, the manner of doing business, the respect which a man has for truth, the way in which he keeps his promises, and set it all down to the credit of religion. If a professed Christian fails in any one of these things, he dishonours religion, and neutralizes all the good which he might otherwise do. It is not only the man in the church who is untrue, and dishonest, and unjust, and unlovely in him temper, that does evil; it is he who is either false, or dishonest, or unjust, or unlovely in his temper. One evil propensity will neutralize all that is good; and one member of the church who fails to lead a moral and upright life will do much to neutralize all the good that can be done by all the rest of the church. Comp. Eccl 10:1. (6.) It is the duty of Christians to show kindness to the ministers of the gospel, especially in times and circumstances of want, Php 4:10,14-17. Paul commended much what the Philippians had done for him. Yet they had done no more than they ought to do. See 1Cor 9:11. He had established the gospel among them, carrying it to them by great personal sacrifice and self-denial. What he had done for them had cost him much more than what they had done for him and was of much more value. He had been in want. He was a prisoner; among strangers; incapable of exerting himself for his own support; not in a situation to minister to his own wants, as he had often done by tent-making; and in these circumstances he needed the sympathizing aid of friends, he was not a man to be voluntarily dependent on others, or to be at any time a burden to them. But circumstances beyond his control had made it necessary for others to supply his wants. The Philippians nobly responded to his claims on them, and did all that he could ask. Their conduct is a good example for other Christians to imitate in their treatment of the ministers of the gospel. Ministers now are often in want. They become old, and are unable to labour; they are sick, and cannot render the service which they have been accustomed to; their families are afflicted, and they have not the means of providing for them comfortably in sickness. It is to be remembered, also, that such cases often happen where a minister has spent the best part of his life in the service of a people; where he has devoted his most vigorous days to their welfare; where he has been unable to lay up anything for sickness or old age; where he may have abandoned what would have been a lucrative calling in life, for the purpose of preaching the gospel. If there ever is a claim on the generosity of a people, his case is one; and there is no debt of gratitude which a people ought more cheerfully to pay than that of providing for the wants of an aged or an afflicted and disabled servant of Christ, who has spent his best years in endeavouring to train them and their children up for heaven. Yet, it cannot be denied that great injustice is often done in such cases. The poor beast that has served a man and his family in the days of his rigour is often turned out in old age to die; and something like this sometimes occurs in the treatment of ministers of the gospel. The conduct of a people, generous in many other respects, is often unaccountable in their treatment of their pastors; and one of the lessons which ministers often have to learn, like their Master, by bitter experience, is the ingratitude of those for whose welfare they have toiled, and prayed, and wept. (7.) Let us learn to be contented with our present condition, Php 4:11,12. Paul learned this lesson. It is not a native state of mind. It is a lesson to be acquired by experience. By nature we are all restless and impatient; we are reaching after things that we have not, and often after things that we cannot and ought not to have. We are envious of the condition of others, and suppose that if we had what they have we should be happy. Yet, if we have right feelings, we shall always find enough in our present condition to make us contented. Ye shall have such confidence in the arrangements of Providence as to feel that things are ordered for the best. If we are poor, and persecuted, and in want, or are prostrated by sickness, we shall feel that there is some good reason why this is so arranged--though the reason may not be known to us. If we are benevolent, as we ought to be, we shall be willing that others shall be made happy by what they possess, instead of coveting it for ourselves, and desiring to wrest it from them. If we are disposed to estimate our mercies, and not to give up our minds to a spirit of complaining, we shall see enough around us to make us contented. Paul was a prisoner; he was poor; he was among strangers; he had neither wife nor children; he was about to be tried for his life, and probably put to death--yet he learned to be content. He had a good conscience; the hope of heaven; a sound intellect; a heart disposed to do good, and confidence in God--and why should a man in such circumstances murmur? Says Jeremy Taylor, "Am I fallen into the hands of publicans and sequestrators, who have taken all from me? What now? Let me look about me. They have left me the sun and moon, fire and water, a loving wife, and many friends to pity me, and some to relieve me, and I can still discourse; and unless I list, they have not taken away my merry countenance, and a cheerful spirit, and a good conscience; they still have left me the providence of God, and all the promises of the gospel, and my religion, and my hopes of heaven, and my charity to them too; and still I sleep and digest; I eat and drink; I read and meditate; I can walk in my neighbour's pleasant fields and see the varieties of natural beauties, and delight in all in which God delights-that is, in virtue, and wisdom, in the whole creation, and in God himself. And he who hath so many causes of joy, and so great, is very much in love with sorrow and peevishness who loses all these pleasures, and chooses to sit down upon his little handful of thorns." Holy living, chap. ii. & vi. Let the whole of this section "on Contentedness" be read. It is one of the most beautiful arguments for contentment that ever proceeded from uninspired lips. (8.) In all these things; in all the duties and the trials of life; in all our efforts to meet temptation, and to cultivate contentment with our present condition, let us put our trust in the Saviour, Php 4:13. Paul said that he could "do all things through Christ who strengthened him." His strength was there; ours is there also. If we attempt these things, relying on our own strength, we shall certainly fail. The bad passions of our nature will get the ascendancy, and we shall be left to discontent and murmuring. The arm that is to uphold us is that of the Redeemer; and, relying on that, we shall find no duty so arduous that we may not be able to perform it; no temptation so formidable that we may not be able to meet it; no trial so great that we may not be able to bear it; no situation in life through which we may be called to pass, where we may not find contentment and peace. And may God of his rich mercy give to each one who shall read these Notes on this beautiful epistle to the Philippians, abundant grace thus to confide in the Saviour, and to practise all the duties so tenderly enjoined on the Philippian Christians, and on us, by this illustrious prisoner in the cause of Christ. REMARKS ON GRECIAN GAMES The apostle Paul has many allusions to these games in his epistles, but especially in the third chapter of this epistle, in which his eye is evidently fixed upon the exercise of running. δρομος--dromos-- or the exercise of running, was in great esteem amongst the ancient Grecians, insomuch that such as prepared themselves for it thought it worth their while to use means to burn or parch their spleen, because it was believed to be an hindrance to then, and retard them in their course. Homer tells us that swiftness is one of the most excellent endowments a man can be blessed withal. --Oyyss. v. 147, which is thus in the translation No greater honour has been e'er attained Than what strong hands or nimble feet have gained Indeed, all those exercises that conduced to fit men for war, were more especially valued. Now, swiftness was looked upon as an excellent qualification in a warrior, both because it serves for a sudden assault and onset, and likewise for a nimble retreat; and, therefore, it is not to be wondered that the constat character which Homer gives of Achilles is, that he was ποδαςωκυς, or swift of foot. And in the holy Scripture, David, in his poetical lamentation over these two great captains, Saul and Jonathan, take particular notice of this warlike quality of theirs. "They were," says he, "swifter than eagles, stronger than lions!" Racing may be traced back to the earliest period of Grecian antiquity, and may be regarded as the first friendly contest in which men engaged. Accordingly, the Olympic and Pythain, probably also the other games, opened with foot-races, Foot-racing, perfected by systematic practice, was divided into different kinds, If you ran merely to the end of the course, (σταδιον) it was called stadium; if you went thither and back, you ran the double course διαυλος. The longest course was δολιχος--dolichos--which required extraordinary speed and power of endurance. Suidas assigns twenty-four stadia to the δολιχος, and others only twelve; but the measure of it seems not to have been fixed or determinate, but variable at pleasure. Sometimes they ran back again to the place whence they at first set out, and sometimes they ran in armour. The lengths above mentioned have even been increased tot he number of four and twenty times over the stadium. This, it must be understood, was a large semi-circle of about one hundred and twenty-five geometrical paces long, which it derived the name stadium, it being a measure ordinarily used among the Greeks, being the eighth part of a Roman mile. These lengths will give some idea of the severity of the trial, and serve to illustrate the meaning of the apostle, when he speaks of running with patience in the race. Indeed, one Ladas, a victor at the Olympic games in the δολιχος,] or long race, was so exhausted by his efforts, that immediately on gaining the honour and being crowned, he yielded up his breath: a fact which also serves to throw light on the Scripture language, as showing with what intense eagerness these aspirants strove for the perishing chaplets. In the preparatory discipline, everything was done that could conduce to swiftness and strength. The training was severe, and the exercises were performed with the body naked and well oiled. The contest was generally most severe: to reach the goal sooner by one foot was enough to decide the victory. The competitors employed all their ability, and displayed the greatest eagerness to gain the prize. The nearer, too, they approached to the goal, the more did they increase their efforts. Sometimes the victory depended upon a final spring; and happy he that retained enough power to leap first to the goal. For these remarks the reader is indebted to Potter's Archeologia Graeca and Kitto's Cyclopaedia of biblical Literature -- Editor. End of Barnes Notes on Philippians.
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