Philippians 4

CHAPTER IV.

The apostle exhorts them to stand fast in the Lord, 1.

And beseeches Euodias and Syntyche to be of one mind in Divine

things, 2.

And requests his true yokefellow to help them to a good

understanding, 3.

Gives them directions concerning their temper and frame of mind,

4-7.

And how to act in all respects as becomes the purity and

excellence of the Gospel, as they had heard from and seen in

him, 8, 9.

Thanks them for their attention to him in his captivity, in

sending him what was necessary for his support, though he had

learned to be contented in all situations in life, 10-14.

Mentions particular cases in which they had ministered to him;

promises them, through the riches of glory in Christ, a supply

of all their spiritual wants; and renders thanks to God, 15-20.

Salutes all the saints, and those particularly of the emperor's

household, 21, 22.

And concludes with his usual apostolical benediction, 23.

NOTES ON CHAP. IV.

Verse 1. Therefore, my-beloved] Because ye have this armour,

and those enemies, and God for your support, see that ye stand

fast in him. This verse most unquestionably belongs to the

preceding chapter.

Verse 2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche] These were

two pious women, as it is generally supposed, who were deaconesses

in the Church at Philippi, and who in some points of doctrine and

discipline had disagreed. He exhorts them to be of the same mind,

that is, to compose their differences; and, if they could not

perfectly agree to think and let think, and to avoid all public

opposition, as their dissension would strengthen the hands of the

common enemy, and stumble those who were weak. But it is more

likely that Euodias was a woman, and Syntyche a man, and probably

the husband of Euodias; and that it is Syntyche whom the apostle

calls true yokefellow in the next verse.

Verse 3. Help those women which laboured with me] Both in the

Grecian and Asiatic countries women were kept much secluded, and

is was not likely that even the apostles had much opportunity of

conversing with them; it was therefore necessary that they should

have some experienced Christian women with them, who could have

access to families, and preach Jesus to the female part of them.

The apostle tells us that certain women laboured with him in the

Gospel, and were assistants to others also who had assisted him.

Some think the women here were Euodias and Syntyche; but I

rather incline to the opinion that Syntyche was a male, and

Euodias his wife. EUODIAS signifies a pleasant scent; SYNTYCHE,

fortunate. There have been a number of conjectures who these

persons were, and who is meant by the true yokefellow; but as

there is nothing certain known on the subject, it is useless to

propagate conjecture.

With Clement also] Supposed to be the same who was afterwards

bishop of Rome, and who wrote an epistle to the Corinthians, which

is still extant.

Whose names are in the book of life.] Who are genuine

Christians; who are enlisted or enrolled in the armies of the

Lord, and have received a title to eternal glory. The reader is

requested to refer to the note on Ex 32:32, 33, and the

concluding observations at the end of that chapter, "Ex 32:35"

where the writing in and blotting out of the book of life are

particularly considered, and the difficulties on the subject

removed. See Clarke on Lu 10:20.

Verse 4. Rejoice in the Lord alway] Be continually happy; but

this happiness you can find only in the Lord. Genuine happiness

is spiritual; as it can only come from God, so it infallibly tends

to him. The apostle repeats the exhortation, to show, not only

his earnestness, but also that it was God's will that it should be

so, and that it was their duty as well as interest.

Verse 5. Let your moderation be known] The word επιεικες is of

very extensive signification; it means the same as επιεικεια,

mildness, patience, yieldingness, gentleness, clemency,

moderation, unwillingness to litigate or contend; but moderation

is expressive enough as a general term. "Moderation," says Dr.

Macknight, "means meekness under provocation, readiness to forgive

injuries, equity in the management of business, candour in judging

of the characters and actions of others, sweetness of disposition,

and the entire government of the passions."

The Lord is at hand.] A phrase something similar to the

Maranatha of 1Co 16:22: The Lord is Judge, and is at hand to

punish. Schoettgen supposes, from this verse, taken in connection

with the preceding, that Euodias and Syntyche were of a

quarrelsome disposition; and hence the exhortation and threatening

in the third and fifth verses.

Verse 6. Be careful for nothing] μηδενμεριμνατε. Be not

anxiously solicitous; do not give place to carking care, let what

will occur; for anxiety cannot chance the state or condition of

any thing from bad to good, but will infallibly injure your own

souls.

By prayer and supplication] God alone can help you; he is

disposed to do it, but you must ask by prayer and supplication;

without this he has not promised to help you.

By prayer-solemn application to God from a sense of want.

Supplication-continuance in earnest prayer. With thanksgiving,

for innumerable favours already received; and for dangers, evils,

and deaths turned aside. And let your souls be found in this

exercise, or in the disposition in which this exercise can be

performed, at all times, on all occasions, and in all places.

Verse 7. And the peace of God] That harmonizing of all

passions and appetites which is produced by the Holy Spirit, and

arises from a sense of pardon and the favour of God;

Shall keep your hearts] φρουρησει. Shall keep them as in a

strong place or castle. Your hearts-the seat of all your

affections and passions, and minds-your understanding, judgment,

and conscience through Christ Jesus; by whom ye were brought into

this state of favour, through whom ye are preserved in it, and in

whom ye possess it; for Christ keeps that heart in peace in which

he dwells and rules. This peace passeth all understanding; it is

of a very different nature from all that can arise from human

occurrences; it is a peace which Christ has purchased, and which

God dispenses; it is felt by all the truly godly, but can be

explained by none; it is communion with the Father, and his Son

Jesus Christ, by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost.

Verse 8. Finally, brethren] The object of the apostle is to

recommend holiness and righteousness to them in every point of

view; and to show that the Gospel of Christ requires all its

professors to have the mind that was in Christ, and to walk as he

himself also walked. That they were not to attend to one branch

of righteousness or virtue only, but to every thing by which they

might bring honour to God, good to their fellow creatures, and

credit to themselves.

Whatsoever things are true] οσααληθη. All that is agreeable

to unchangeable and eternal truth. Whether that which is to be

learned from the nature and state of created things, or that which

comes immediately from God by revelation.

Whatsoever things are honest] οσασιμνα. Whatever is

grave, decent, and venerable. Whatever becomes you as men, as

citizens, and as Christians.

Whatsoever things are just] οσαδικαια. Whatsoever is

agreeable to justice and righteousness. All that ye owe to God,

to your neighbour, and to yourselves.

Whatsoever things are pure] οσααγνα. Whatsoever is chaste.

In reference to the state of the mind, and to the acts of the

body.

Whatsoever things are lovely] οσαπροσφιλη. Whatsoever is

amiable on its own account and on account of its usefulness to

others, whether in your conduct or conversation.

Whatsoever things are of good report] οσαευφημα. Whatsoever

things the public agree to acknowledge as useful and profitable

to men; such as charitable institutions of every kind, in which

genuine Christians should ever take the lead.

If there be any virtue] If they be calculated to promote the

general good of mankind, and are thus praiseworthy;

Think on these things.] Esteem them highly, recommend them

heartily, and practise them fervently.

Instead of ειτιςεπαινος, if there be any praise, several

eminent MSS., as D*EFG, add επιστημης, of knowledge; and the

Vulgate and the Itala have disciplinae, of discipline; but

none of these appear to be an original reading.

Verse 9. Those things, which ye have-learned] From my

preaching and writing;

And received] By faith, as a revelation from God;

And heard] From my preaching, and that of those who laboured

with me; and heard from me, in my private communications with you;

and heard of me from other Churches;

And seen in me] While living and labouring among you;

Do] Take them for the rule of your faith and practice.

And the God of peace] He who is the author of peace, the lover

of peace, and the maintainer of peace; he who has made peace

between heaven and earth, by the mission and sacrifice of his Son,

shall be ever with you while you believe and act as here

recommended.

Verse 10. But I rejoiced in the Lord] Every good comes from

God, either immediately from his providence or from his grace;

therefore the apostle thanks God for the kindness of the

Philippians towards him; for it was God that gave them the power,

and directed their hearts to use it.

Hath flourished again] They had helped him before, Php 2:25;

they had ceased for a time, and now they began again. This is

evidently designed by the apostle, as the word ανεθαλετε implies,

which is a metaphor taken from the reviviscence of flowers in

spring which seemed dead in winter. For the time in which they

were apparently remiss he makes a delicate apology: Ye were

careful, but ye lacked opportunity; or rather ηκαιρεισθε, ye had

not ability, ye wanted the means; as the word sometimes implies.

Verse 11. Not that I speak in respect of want] I am quite

unconcerned in this respect; leaving the whole of my support,

while bound for the testimony of Jesus, to the providence of God.

For I have learned] I am so satisfied with the wise providence

and goodness of God, that I know whatever he determines is the

best; and therefore I am perfectly contented that he should govern

the world in that way which seems best to his godly wisdom. How

true is the proverb, A contented mind is a continual feast! What

do we get by murmuring and complaining?

Verse 12. I know-how to be abased] I have passed through all

these states; I know how to conduct myself in each, and how to

extract good from all. And he had passed through these things,

especially the hardships, so that he had learned the lesson

perfectly, as the word μεμυημαι implies; he was thoroughly

instructed; fully initiated into all the mysteries of poverty and

want, and of the supporting hand of God in the whole. See here

the state to which God permitted his chief apostle to be reduced!

And see how powerfully the grace of Christ supported him under the

whole! How few of those who are called Christian ministers or

Christian men have learned this important lesson! When want or

affliction comes, their complaints are loud and frequent; and they

are soon at the end of their patience.

Verse 13. I can do all things] It was not a habit which he had

acquired by frequent exercise, it was a disposition which he had

by grace; and he was enabled to do all by the power of an

indwelling Christ. Through Him who strengtheneth me is the

reading of some of the best MSS., versions, and fathers; the word

χριστω, Christ, being omitted.

Verse 14. Ye have well done] Though I have learned all these

important lessons, and am never miserable in want, yet ye have

done well in sending me relief in the time of affliction.

Verse 15. In the beginning of the Gospel] When, having

preached to you, I went forth into Macedonia, I received help from

none of the Churches which I had founded, but from you alone. I

received nothing from any others, and nothing was offered me.

Verse 16. For even in Thessalonica] While labouring to plant

the Church there, he was supported partly by working with his

hands, 1Th 2:9; 2Th 3:7-9; and partly by the contributions sent

him from Philippi. Even the Thessalonians had contributed little

to his maintenance: this is not spoken to their credit.

Verse 17. Not because I desire a gift] I do not speak thus to

incite you to send me a farther gift; I speak this on the general

subject, because I wish you to bear such fruit as shall abound to

your account in the day of the Lord.

Verse 18. I have all] Ye have now sent me so much by

Epaphroditus, that I abound in all the necessaries of life.

Having received-the things] Probably a supply of clothes and

such like necessaries, as well as of money.

An odour of a sweet smell] Alluding to the sacrifices offered

up under the law. With what ye have done to me, his servant, God

is well pleased. See Eph 5:2, and the note there.

Verse 19. My God shall supply all your need] As you have given

to me in my distress, God will never suffer you to want without

raising up help to you, as he raised you up for help to me.

According to his riches] His fulness is infinite; and through

Christ, whose followers we are, he will dispense every requisite

blessing of providence, grace, and glory, to you.

Verse 20. Now unto God and our Father] God is our Father in

Christ Jesus; and such pity as a father hath for his children,

such has the Lord for them that fear him; as a father is concerned

for the support and life of his children, so is God concerned for

you. A father may be poor, and unable to help his most beloved

children; God, your Father, is infinite in his riches of his grace

and glory, and out of his abundance we have all received, and

grace for grace. Therefore, to God our Father, be glory for ever

and ever!

Verse 21. Salute every saint] Remember to present my

affectionate wishes to every Christian at Philippi.

The brethren which are with me] Those who were fellow labourers

with him, generally supposed to be Aristarchus, Mark, Justus,

Epaphras, Luke, and Demas. See the end of the epistles to the

Colossians, and to Philemon.

Verse 22. All the saints] All the Christians now at Rome.

They that are of Caesar's household.] Nero was at this time

emperor of Rome: a more worthless, cruel, and diabolic wretch

never disgraced the name or form of man; yet in his family there

were Christians: but whether this relates to the members of the

imperial family, or to guards, or courtiers, or to servants,

we cannot tell. If even some of his slaves were converted to

Christianity, it would he sufficiently marvellous. Converts to

Christianity in this family there certainly were; and this shows

how powerfully the Divine word had been preached and spread. That

the Empress Poppaea may have been favourably inclined to

Christianity is possible; for Josephus relates of her, Antiq.,

lib. xx. cap. 7: θεοσεβηςγαρην. She was a worshipper of the

true God; it is not likely, therefore, that she threw any

hinderances in the way of her servants who might wish to embrace

the Christian faith. St. Jerome, in Philemon, states that St.

Paul had converted many in Caesar's family; A Caesare missus in

carcerem, notior familiae ejus factus, persecutoris Christi domum

fecit ecclesiam. "Being by the emperor cast into prison, he

became the more known to his family, and he turned the house of

Christ's persecutor into a church." Some imagine that Seneca, the

preceptor of Nero and the poet Lucan, were converted by St. Paul;

and there are still extant, and in a MS. now before me, letters

which profess to have passed between Paul and Seneca; but they are

worthy of neither. They have been printed in some editions of

Seneca's works. See the remarks below.

Verse 23. The grace of our Lord] The usual apostolical

benediction, which has often occurred, and been more than once

explained. See Clark on "Ro 1:7", and "Ga 6:18".

The word ημων, our, is omitted by many MSS. and several versions,

which simply read, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Be with you all.] Instead of παντων, all, πνευματος,

Spirit, is the reading of ADEFG, several others, with the Coptic,

Sahidic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and Itala; besides

several of the Fathers.

There are various subscriptions to this epistle in the

different MSS. and versions. In the common GREEK text it stands

thus: It was written to the Philippians from Rome by Epaphroditus.

The Epistle to the Philippians was written from Rome, and sent by

Epaphroditus.-SYRIAC. To the Philippians.-AETHIOPIC.

The end of the Epistle; it was written at Rome, and sent by

Epaphroditus.-ARABIC. To the Philippians by Timothy and

Epaphroditus.-COPTIC.

1. THE MSS. generally agree with the versions, and all unite in

stating that this epistle was written and sent from Rome, so that

the common subscription may well stand. Yet there have been some

strong objections made against this, as far as the place is

concerned. Some foreign critics have maintained, that were it to

be granted that the apostle was now a prisoner for the testimony

of Christ, yet it does not follow that he was a prisoner at Rome,

for he himself tells us, 2Co 11:23,

that he was in prisons more abundant; and, consequently, he might

be in prison somewhere else: but they have gone farther, and

denied that this epistle was written while Paul was a prisoner;

affirming that he had been already liberated, and that of this

there are several evidences in the epistle itself. J. Christopher

Wolf, in his Curae, has considered all these objections in detail,

and appears to have answered them in a very satisfactory manner.

That St. Paul was now in prison, these words seem clearly to

prove, Php 1:16:-

The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to

add affliction to my bonds. This strongly argues that he was then

suffering imprisonment, and that certain persons of perverse minds

preached the Gospel in such a way as was calculated to make his

bonds still more grievous. And, as he sends the salutations of

saints which were of Caesar's household, it seems most evident

that he was then at Rome; as, had he been a prisoner in any of the

provinces, it is not likely that he would send to Philippi the

greetings of those who lived at Rome.

2. The cause of this imprisonment has been variously understood.

Theodorus Metochita says it was in consequence of his having

converted Nero's baker, and one of his concubines; at which the

emperor, being enraged, ordered him to be cast into prison: but

the authority on which this rests is scarcely sufficient to render

it credible.

3. Paul is generally allowed to have been twice imprisoned at

Rome: this was, without doubt, the first time of his being there

in bonds, as there is every appearance that he was delivered after

this; but his second imprisonment issued in his martyrdom. Every

apostle of God is immortal till his work is done. Paul became a

martyr when God saw that there was no farther need either for his

preaching or his writing; he had kept and defended the faith, and

had finished his course; God took him then from the evil to come;

and crowned him with the glory which his Redeemer had provided for

him, in reference to which he lived, and after which he had

continually aspired.

4. Reader, be thankful to God, who, in pity to thy weakness, has

called thee to believe and enjoy, and not to suffer for his sake.

It is not for us to covet seasons of martyrdom; we find it

difficult to be faithful even in ordinary trials: yet, as offences

may come, and times of sore trial and proof may occur, we should

be prepared for them; and we should know that nothing less than

Christ in us, the hope of glory, will enable us to stand in the

cloudy and dark day. Let us, therefore, put on the whole armour

of God; and, fighting under the Captain of our salvation, expect

the speedy destruction of every inward foe; and triumph in the

assurance that death, the last enemy, will, in his destructions,

shortly be brought to a perpetual end. Hallelujah! The Lord God

Omnipotent reigneth. Amen and Amen!

Finished correction for the press, Dec. 16th, 1831.-A. C.

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