Philippians 2


The apostle beseeches them by various considerations, to live

in unity and in the spirit of the Gospel, loving each other;

and each to prefer his brother to himself, 1-4.

He exhorts them to be like-minded with Christ, who, though in

the form of God, and equal with God, made himself of no

reputation, and humbled himself to the death of the cross for

the salvation of man; in consequence of which he was highly

exalted, and had a name above every name; to whose authority

every knee should bow, and whose glory every tongue should

acknowledge, 5-11.

They are exhorted to work out their own salvation through his

power who works in them, that they may be blameless, and that

the apostle's labour may not be in vain, 12-16.

He expresses his readiness to offer his life for the Gospel,


Intends to send Timothy to them, of whom he gives a very high

character; yet hopes to see them himself shortly, 19-24.

In the meantime sends Epaphroditus, who had been near death, and

whom he begs them to receive with especial tenderness, 25-30.


Verse 1. If there be therefore any consolation] The ει, if,

does not express any doubt here, but on the contrary is to be

considered as a strong affirmation; as there is consolation in

Christ, as there is comfort of love, &c.

The word παρακλησις, translated here consolation, is in other

places rendered exhortation, and is by several critics understood

so here; as if he had said: If exhorting you in the name of Christ

have any influence with you, &c. It is extremely difficult to

give the force of these expressions; they contain a torrent of

most affecting eloquence, the apostle pouring out his whole heart

to a people whom with all his heart he loved, and who were worthy

of the love even of an apostle.

If any comfort of love] If the followers of Christ, by giving

proofs of their ardent love to each other in cases of distress,

alleviate the sufferings of the persecuted;

If any fellowship of the Spirit] If there be an intimate

relation established among all Christians, by their being made

mutual partakers of the holy Ghost;

If any bowels and mercies] If you, as persons whom I have

brought to God at the hazard of my life, feel sympathetic

tenderness for me now, in a farther state of suffering;

Verse 2. Fulfil ye my joy] Ye ought to complete my joy, who

have suffered so much to bring you into the possession of these

blessings, by being like-minded with myself, having the same love

to God, his cause, and me, as I have to him, his cause, and you.

Being of one accord] Being perfectly agreed in labouring to

promote the honour of your Master; and of one mind, being

constantly intent upon this great subject; keeping your eye fixed

upon it in all you say, do, or intend.

Verse 3. Let nothing be done through strife] Never be opposed

to each other; never act from separate interests; ye are all

brethren, and of one body; therefore let every member feel and

labour for the welfare of the whole. And, in the exercise of your

different functions, and in the use of your various gifts, do

nothing so as to promote your own reputation, separately

considered from the comfort, honour, and advantage of all.

But in lowliness of mind] Have always an humbling view of

yourselves, and this will lead you to prefer others to yourselves;

for, as you know your own secret defects, charity will lead you to

suppose that your brethren are more holy, and more devoted to God

than you are; and they will think the same of you, their secret

defects also being known only to themselves.

Verse 4. Look not every man on his own things] Do nothing

through self-interest in the things of God; nor arrogate to

yourselves gifts, graces, and fruits, which belong to others; ye

are all called to promote God's glory and the salvation of men.

Labour for this, and every one shall receive the honour that comes

from God; and let each rejoice to see another, whom God may be

pleased to use in a special way, acquiring much reputation by the

successful application of his talents to the great work.

Verse 5. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ

Jesus] Christ laboured to promote no separate interest; as man he

studied to promote the glory of God, and the welfare and salvation

of the human race. See then that ye have the same disposition

that was in Jesus: he was ever humble, loving, patient, and

laborious; his meat and drink was to do the will of his Father,

and to finish his work.

Verse 6. Who, being in the form of God] This verse has been

the subject of much criticism, and some controversy. Dr. Whitby

has, perhaps, on the whole, spoken best on this point; but his

arguments are too diffuse to be admitted here. Dr. Macknight has

abridged the words of Dr. Whitby, and properly observes that, "As

the apostle is speaking of what Christ was before he took the form

of a servant, the form of God, of which he divested himself when

he became man, cannot be any thing which he possessed during his

incarnation or in his divested state; consequently neither the

opinion of Erasmus, that the form of God consisted in those sparks

of divinity by which Christ, during his incarnation, manifested

his Godhead, nor the opinion of the Socinians, that it consisted

in the power of working miracles, is well founded; for Christ did

not divest himself either of one or the other, but possessed both

all the time of his public ministry. In like manner, the opinion

of those who, by the form of God understand the Divine nature and

the government of the world, cannot be admitted; since Christ,

when he became man, could not divest himself of the nature of God;

and with respect to the government of the world, we are led, by

what the apostle tells, Heb 1:3, to believe that he did not part

with even that; but, in his divested state, still continued to

uphold all things by the word of his power. By the form of God we

are rather to understand that visible, glorious light in which the

Deity is said to dwell, 1Ti 6:16, and by which he manifested

himself to the patriarchs of old, De 5:22, 24; which was commonly

accompanied with a numerous retinue of angels, Ps 68:17, and

which in Scripture is called The Similitude, Nu 12:8;

The Face, Ps 31:16:

The Presence, Ex 33:15;

and The Shape of God, Joh 5:37.

This interpretation is supported by the term μορφη, form, here

used, which signifies a person's external shape or appearance, and

not his nature or essence. Thus we are told, Mr 16:12, that

Jesus appeared to his disciples in another μορφη, shape, or form.

And, Mt 17:2, μετεμορφωθη,

he was transfigured before them-his outward appearance or form

was changed. Farther this interpretation agrees with the fact:

the form of God, that is, his visible glory, and the attendance of

angels, as above described, the Son of God enjoyed with his Father

before the world was, Joh 17:5; and on that as on other accounts

he is the brightness of the Father's glory, Heb 1:3. Of this he

divested himself when he became flesh; but, having resumed it

after his ascension, he will come with it in the human nature to

judge the world; so he told his disciples, Mt 16:27:

The Son of man will come in the glory of his Father, with his

angels, &c,. Lastly, this sense of μορφηθεου, is confirmed by

the meaning of μορθηδουλου, Php 2:7; which evidently denotes the

appearance and behaviour of a servant or bondman, and not the

essence of such a person." See Whitby and Macknight.

Thought it not robbery to be equal with God] If we take these

words as they stand here, their meaning is, that, as he was from

the beginning in the same infinite glory with the Father, to

appear in time-during his humiliation, as God and equal with the

Father, was no encroachment on the Divine prerogative; for, as he

had an equality of nature, he had an equality of rights.

But the word αρπαγμον, which we translate robbery, has been

supposed to imply a thing eagerly to be seized, coveted, or

desired; and on this interpretation the passage has been

translated: Who, being in the form of God, did not think it a

matter to be earnestly desired to appear equal to God; but made

himself of no reputation, &c. However the word be translated, it

does not affect the eternal Deity of our Lord. Though he was from

eternity in the form of God-possessed of the same glory, yet he

thought it right to veil this glory, and not to appear with it

among the children of men; and therefore he was made in the

likeness of men, and took upon him the form or appearance of a

servant: and, had he retained the appearance of this ineffable

glory, it would, in many respects, have prevented him from

accomplishing the work which God gave him to do; and his

humiliation, as necessary to the salvation of men, could not have

been complete. On this account I prefer this sense of the word

αρπαγμον before that given in our text, which does not agree so

well with the other expressions in the context. In this sense the

word is used by Heliodorus, in his AEthiopics, lib. vii. cap. 19,

&c., which passage Whitby has produced, and on which he has given

a considerable paraphrase. The reader who wishes to examine this

subject more particularly, may have recourse to Heliodorus as

above, or to the notes of Dr. Whitby on the passage.

Verse 7. But made himself of no reputation] εαυτονεκενωσε.

He emptied himself-did not appear in his glory, for he assumed the

form of a servant, being made in the likeness of man. And his

being made in the likeness of man, and assuming the form of a

servant, was a proof that he had emptied himself-laid aside the

effulgence of his glory.

Verse 8. And being found in fashion as a man] καισχηματι

ευρεθειςωςανθρωπος. This clause should be joined to the

preceding, and thus translated: Being made in the likeness of man,

and was found in fashion as a man.

He humbled himself] Laid himself as low as possible: 1. In

emptying himself-laying aside the effulgence of his glory. 2. In

being incarnate-taking upon him the human form. 3. In becoming a

servant-assuming the lowest innocent character, that of being the

servant of all. 4. In condescending to die, to which he was not

naturally liable, as having never sinned, and therefore had a

right in his human nature to immortality, without passing under

the empire of death. 5. In condescending, not only to death, but

to the lowest and most ignominious kind of death, the death of the

cross; the punishment of the meanest of slaves and worst of

felons. What must sin have been in the sight of God, when it

required such abasement in Jesus Christ to make an atonement for

it, and undo its influence and malignity!

Verse 9. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him] If by his

humiliation he has merited pardon and final salvation for the

whole world, is it to be wondered that the human body, in which

this fulness of the Godhead dwelt, and in which the punishment due

to our sins was borne upon the tree, should be exalted above all

human and all created beings? And this is the fact; for he hath

given him a name, τοονομα, the name, which is above every

name: το is prefixed to ονομα here by ABC, 17, Origen,

Dionysius Alexandrinus, Eusebius, Cyril, and Procopius. This

makes it much more emphatic. According to Eph 1:20, 21, the man

Christ Jesus is exalted to the right hand of God, far above all

principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name

that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is

to come. From which it appears that no creature of God is so far

exalted and so glorious as the man Christ Jesus, human nature

being in him dignified infinitely beyond the angelic nature; and

that this nature has an authority and pre-eminence which no being,

either in heaven or earth, enjoys. In a word, as man was in the

beginning at the head of all the creatures of God, Jesus Christ,

by assuming human nature, suffering and dying in it, has raised it

to its pristine state. And this is probably what is here meant by

this high exaltation of Christ, and giving him a name which is

above every name. But if we refer to any particular epithet, then

the name JESUS or Saviour must be that which is intended; as no

being either in heaven or earth can possess this name as he who is

the Redeemer of the world does, for he is the only Saviour; none

has or could redeem us to God but he; and throughout eternity he

will ever appear as the sole Saviour of the human race. Hence,

before his birth, Gabriel stated that his name should be called

JESUS; giving for reason, he shall SAVE his people from their

sins. The qualifications of the Saviour of the world were so

extraordinary, the redeeming acts so stupendous, and the result of

all so glorious both to God and man, that it is impossible to

conceive a higher name or title than that of JESUS, or Saviour of

the world.

Verse 10. That at the name of Jesus every knee should how]

That all human beings should consider themselves redeemed unto God

by his blood, and look for an application of this redemption

price; and that all who are saved from their sin should

acknowledge him the author of their salvation. In a word, that

πανεπουρανιων, all the spirits of just men made perfect, now in

a state of blessedness; καιεπιγειων, all human beings still in

their state of probation on earth; καικαταχθονιων, and all that

are in the shades below, who have, through their own fault, died

without having received his salvation; should acknowledge him.

Verse 11. And that every tongue should confess] That all those

before mentioned should acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, or

absolute governor, and thus glorify God the Father, who has

exalted this human nature to this state of ineffable glory, in

virtue of its passion, death, resurrection, and the atonement

which it has made, by which so many attributes of the Divine

nature have become illustrated, the Divine law magnified and made

honourable, and an eternal glory provided for man.

Others by things in heaven understand the holy angels; by things

on earth, human beings generally; and by things under the earth,

fallen spirits of every description. Perhaps the three

expressions are designed to comprehend all beings of all kinds,

all creatures; as it is usual with the Hebrews, and indeed with

all ancient nations, to express, by things in heaven, things on

earth, and things under the earth, all beings of all kinds;

universal nature. See similar forms of speech, Ex 20:4;

De 4:17, 18; Ps 96:11; and Eze 38:20.

But intelligent beings seem to be those which are chiefly intended

by the words of the apostle; for it appears that nothing less than

absolute rule over angels, men, and devils, can be designed in

these extraordinary words, and by confessing him to be Lord we may

understand that worship which all intelligent creatures are called

to pay to God manifested in the flesh; for all should honour the

Son even as they honour the Father. And the worship thus offered

is to the glory of God; so that far from being idolatrous, as some

have rashly asserted, it is to the honour of the Divine Being. We

may add, that the tongue which does not confess thus, is a tongue

that dishonours the Almighty.

Verse 12. As ye have always obeyed] Continue to act on the

same principles and from the same motives; having the same

disposition which was in Christ; labouring so as to promote his


Work out your own salvation] Go on, walking by the same rule,

and minding the same thing, till your salvation be completed:

till, filled with love to God and man, ye walk unblamably in all

his testimonies, having your fruit unto holiness, and your end

everlasting life.

With fear and trembling] Considering the difficulty of the

work, and the danger of miscarriage. If you do not watch, pray

and continually depend on God, your enemies will surprise you, and

your light and life will become extinct; and then consider what an

awful account you must give to Him whose Spirit ye have grieved,

and of whose glory ye have come short.

Verse 13. For it is God which worketh in you] Every holy

purpose, pious resolution, good word, and good work, must come

from him; ye must be workers together with him, that ye receive

not his grace in vain; because he worketh in you, therefore work

with him, and work out your own salvation.

To will and to do] τοθελεινκαιτοενεργειν. The power to

will and the power to act must necessarily come from God, who is

the author both of the soul and body, and of all their powers and

energies, but the act of volition and the act of working come

from the man. God gives power to will, man wills through that

power; God gives power to act, and man acts through that power.

Without the power to will, man can will nothing; without the

power to work, man can do nothing. God neither wills for

man, nor works in man's stead, but he furnishes him with power to

do both; he is therefore accountable to God for these powers.

Because God works in them the power to will and the power to do,

therefore the apostle exhorts them to work out their own

salvation; most manifestly showing that the use of the powers of

volition and action belongs to themselves. They cannot do God's

work, they cannot produce in themselves a power to will and to do;

and God will not do their work, he will not work out their

salvation with fear and trembling.

Though men have grievously puzzled themselves with questions

relative to the will and power of the human being; yet no case can

be plainer than that which the apostle lays down here: the power

to will and do comes from GOD; the use of that power belongs to

man. He that has not got this power can neither will nor work; he

that has this power can do both. But it does not necessarily

follow that he who has these powers will use them; the possession

of the powers does not necessarily imply the use of those powers,

because a man might have them, and not use or abuse them;

therefore the apostle exhorts: Work out your own salvation.

This is a general exhortation; it may be applied to all men, for

to all it is applicable, there not being a rational being on the

face of the earth, who has not from God both power to will and act

in the things which concern his salvation. Hence the

accountableness of man.

Of his good pleasure.] Every good is freely given of God; no

man deserves any thing from him; and as it pleaseth him, so he

deals out to men those measures of mental and corporeal energy

which he sees to be necessary; giving to some more, to others

less, but to all what is sufficient for their salvation.

Verse 14. Do all things without murmurings] γογγυσμωνκαι

διαλογισμων. Without grumblings and altercations. Be patient

in, and contented with, your work; and see that ye fall not out by

the way.

Verse 15. That ye may be blameless] In yourselves, and

harmless to others.

The sons of God] Showing by your holy conduct that ye are

partakers of the Divine nature.

Without rebuke] Persons against whom no charge of transgression

can justly be laid.

A crooked and perverse] Probably referring to the Jews, who

were the chief opponents and the most virulent enemies which the

Christian Church had.

Among whom ye shine] Be like the sun and moon; bless even the

perverse and disobedient by your light and splendour. Let your

light shine before men; some will walk in that light, and by its

shining God will be glorified. It is evident that the apostle, by

φωστηρεςενκοσμω, lights in the world, refers to the sun and

moon particularly, and perhaps to the heavenly bodies in general.

Verse 16. Holding forth the word of life] An allusion, some

think, to those towers which were built at the entrance of

harbours, on which fires were kept during the night to direct

ships into the port. Genuine Christians, by their holy lives and

conversation, are the means of directing others, not only how to

escape those dangers to which they are exposed on the tempestuous

ocean of human life, but also of leading them into the haven of

eternal safety and rest.

That I have not run in vain] This appears to be a part of the

same metaphor; and alludes to the case of a weather-beaten mariner

who has been long tossed on a tempestuous sea, in hazy weather and

dark nights, who has been obliged to run on different tacks, and

labour intensely to keep his ship from foundering, but is at last,

by the assistance of the luminous fire on the top of the tower,

directed safely into port. Live so to glorify God and do good to

men, that it shall appear that I have not run and laboured in vain

for your salvation.

Verse 17. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and

service] The metaphor appears to be still carried on. As it was

customary for the weather-beaten mariner, when he had gained his

port, to offer a sacrifice, θυσια, to God, of some particular

animal which he had vowed while in his state of danger, and this

was considered to be a religious service, λειτουργια. the apostle,

pursuing the idea, states himself to be willing to become the

libation, (for so much the word σπενδομαι imports,) that was to be

poured upon the sacrifice. Parkhurst observes that the apostle

compares the faith of the Philippians to the sacrificial victim,

and his own blood shed in martyrdom to the libation, i.e. the

wine poured out on occasion of the sacrifice. Raphelius observes

that Arrian uses the phrase σπενδεινεπιτηθυσια for pouring out

the libation after the sacrifice. The apostle had guided them

safely into port; their faith in the atoning death of Christ was

their sacrifice; and he was willing that his blood in martyrdom

should be poured out as a libation on that sacrificial offering.

Verse 18. For the same cause also do ye joy] Should I be thus

offered, as I shall rejoice in it, do ye also rejoice that I am

counted worthy of this high honour.

Verse 19. But I trust in the Lord Jesus] He is governor and

disposer of all events, being above all principality and power;

and I humbly confide in his power and goodness that I shall be a

little longer spared to visit you again, Php 2:24, and to be able

to send Timothy shortly to you.

When I know your state.] By the correct information which I

shall receive from Timothy.

Verse 20. For I have no man like-minded] None of all my fellow

helpers in the Gospel have the same zeal and affectionate concern

for your prosperity in every respect as he has. He is ισοψυχος.

of the same soul; a man after my own heart.

Verse 21. For all seek their own] This must relate to the

persons who preached Christ even of envy and strife, Php 1:15;

these must be very careless whether souls were saved or not by

such preaching; and even those who preached the Gospel out of good

will might not be fit for such an embassy as this, which required

many sacrifices, and consequently much love and zeal to be able to

make them.

Verse 22. Ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the

father, he hath served with me] The Philippians had full proof of

the affectionate attachment of Timothy to Paul, for he had

laboured with him there, as we learn from Ac 16:1-3; 17:14; and

we find from what is said here that Timothy was not a servant to

the apostle, but that he had served with him. They both laboured

together in the word and doctrine; for apostles and Christian

bishops, in those times, laboured as hard as their deacons. There

were no sinecures; every one was a labourer, every labourer had

his work, and every workman had his wages.

Verse 23. How it will go with me.] The apostle was now in

captivity; his trial appears to have been approaching, and of its

issue he was doubtful; though he seems to have had a general

persuasion that he should be spared, see Php 2:19, 24.

Verse 25. Epaphroditus, my brother, &c.] Here is a very high

character of this minister of Christ; he was, 1. A brother-one of

the Christian family; a thorough convert to God, without which he

could not have been a preacher of the Gospel. 2. He was a

companion in labour; he laboured, and laboured in union with the

apostle in this great work. 3. He was a fellow soldier; the work

was a work of difficulty and danger, they were obliged to maintain

a continual warfare, fighting against the world, the devil, and

the flesh. 4. He was their apostle-a man whom God had honoured

with apostolical gifts, apostolical graces, and apostolical

fruits; and, 5. He was an affectionate friend to the apostle; knew

his soul in adversity, acknowledged him in prison, and contributed

to his comfort and support.

Verse 26. Ye had heard that he had been sick.] "In this

passage," says Dr. Paley, "no intimation is given that the

recovery of Epaphroditus was miraculous, it is plainly spoken of

as a natural event. This instance, together with that in the

Second Epistle to Timothy, Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick,

affords a proof that the power of performing cures, and, by parity

of reason, of working other miracles, was a power which only

visited the apostles occasionally, and did not at all depend upon

their own will. Paul undoubtedly would have healed Epaphroditus

if he could; nor would he have left Trophimus at Miletum sick, had

the power of working cures awaited his disposal. Had this epistle

been a forgery, forgery on this occasion would not have spared a

miracle; much less would it have introduced St. Paul professing

the utmost anxiety for the safety of his friend, yet acknowledging

himself unable to help him, which he does almost expressly in the

case of Trophimus, Him have I left sick; and virtually in the

passage before us, in which he felicitates himself on the recovery

of Epaphroditus in terms which almost exclude the supposition of

any supernatural means being used to effect it. This is a reverse

which nothing but truth would have imposed." Horae Paulinae, page


Verse 27. Lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.] The sorrows

of his death, added to the sorrow he endured on account of his

sickness; or he may refer to his own state of affliction, being

imprisoned and maltreated.

Verse 28. The more carefully] σπουδαιοτερως. With the more

haste or despatch; because, having suffered so much on account of

his apprehended death, they could not be too soon comforted by

seeing him alive and restored.

Verse 29. Receive him therefore in the Lord] For the Lord's

sake receive him, and as the Lord's servant; and hold such

zealous, disinterested, and holy preachers in reputation-honour

those whom ye perceive God hath honoured.

Verse 30. For the work of Christ] Preaching the Gospel, and

ministering to the distressed.

He was nigh unto death] Having laboured far beyond his


Not regarding his life] Instead of παραβουλευσαμενοςτηψυχη,

not regarding his life, παραβολευσαμενος, risking his life, is

the reading of ABDEFG, and is received by Griesbach into the text.

His frequent and intense preaching, and labouring to supply the

apostle's wants, appear to have brought him nigh to the gates of


THE humiliation and exaltation of Christ are subjects which we

cannot contemplate too frequently, and in which we cannot be too

deeply instructed.

1. God destroys opposites by opposites: through pride and

self-confidence man fell, and it required the humiliation of

Christ to destroy that pride and self-confidence, and to raise him

from his fall. There must be an indescribable malignity in sin,

when it required the deepest abasement of the highest Being to

remove and destroy it. The humiliation and passion of Christ were

not accidental, they were absolutely necessary; and had they not

been necessary, they had not taken place. Sinner, behold what it

cost the Son of God to save thee! And wilt thou, after

considering this, imagine that sin is a small thing? Without the

humiliation and sacrifice of Christ, even thy soul could not be

saved. Slight not, therefore, the mercies of thy God, by

underrating the guilt of thy transgressions and the malignity of

thy sin!

2. As we cannot contemplate the humiliation and death of Christ

without considering it a sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and

atonement for sin, and for the sin of the whole world; so we

cannot contemplate his unlimited power and glory, in his state of

exaltation, without being convinced that he is able to save them

to the uttermost that come unto God through him. What can

withstand the merit of his blood? What can resist the

energy of his omnipotence? Can the power of sin?-its infection?

-its malignity? No! He can as easily say to an impure heart, Be

thou clean, and it shall be clean; as he could to the leper, Be

thou clean, and immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Reader,

have faith in Him; for all things are possible to him that


3. There are many ungodly men in the world who deny the

inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, and affect to ridicule those who

profess to have received what they know Christ has purchased and

God has promised, and which, in virtue of this, they have claimed

by faith; because, say these mockers, "If you had the Spirit of

God, you could work miracles: show us a miracle, and we will

believe you to be inspired." Will these persons assert that St.

Paul had not God's Spirit when he could neither heal himself, nor

restore his friends and fellow helpers from apparent death? What

then doth their arguing prove? Silly men, of shallow minds!

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