Philippians 1

** The Philippians felt a very deep interest for the apostle.

The scope of the epistle is to confirm them in the faith, to

encourage them to walk as becomes the gospel of Christ, to

caution them against judaizing teachers, and to express

gratitude for their Christian bounty. This epistle is the only

one, among those written by St. Paul, in which no censures are

implied or expressed. Full commendation and confidence are in

every part, and the Philippians are addressed with a peculiar

affection, which every serious reader will perceive.

* The apostle offers up thanksgivings and prayers, for the good

work of grace in the Philippians. (1-7) He expresses affection,

and prays for them. (8-11) Fortifies them against being cast

down at his sufferings. (12-20) He stood prepared for glorifying

Christ by life, or death. (21-26) Exhortations to zeal, and

constancy in professing the gospel. (27-30)

1-7 The highest honour of the most eminent ministers is, to be

servants of Christ. And those who are not really saints on

earth, never will be saints in heaven. Out of Christ, the best

saints are sinners, and unable to stand before God. There is no

peace without grace. Inward peace springs from a sense of Divine

favour. And there is no grace and peace but from God our Father,

the fountain and origin of all blessings. At Philippi the

apostle was evil entreated, and saw little fruit of his labour;

yet he remembers Philippi with joy. We must thank our God for

the graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others, as we

receive the benefit, and God receives the glory. The work of

grace will never be perfected till the day of Jesus Christ, the

day of his appearance. But we may always be confident God will

perform his good work, in every soul wherein he has really begun

it by regeneration; though we must not trust in outward

appearances, nor in any thing but a new creation to holiness.

People are dear to their ministers, when they receive benefit by

their ministry. Fellow-sufferers in the cause of God should be

dear one to another.
8-11 Shall not we pity and love those souls whom Christ loves

and pities? Those who abound in any grace, need to abound more.

Try things which differ; that we may approve the things which

are excellent. The truths and laws of Christ are excellent; and

they recommend themselves as such to any attentive mind.

Sincerity is that in which we should have our conversation in

the world, and it is the glory of all our graces. Christians

should not be apt to take offence, and should be very careful

not to offend God or the brethren. The things which most honour

God will most benefit us. Let us not leave it doubtful whether

any good fruit is found in us or not. A small measure of

Christian love, knowledge, and fruitfulness should not satisfy

12-20 The apostle was a prisoner at Rome; and to take off the

offence of the cross, he shows the wisdom and goodness of God in

his sufferings. These things made him known, where he would

never have otherwise been known; and led some to inquire after

the gospel. He suffered from false friends, as well as from

enemies. How wretched the temper of those who preached Christ

out of envy and contention, and to add affliction to the bonds

that oppressed this best of men! The apostle was easy in the

midst of all. Since our troubles may tend to the good of many,

we ought to rejoice. Whatever turns to our salvation, is by the

Spirit of Christ; and prayer is the appointed means of seeking

for it. Our earnest expectation and hope should not be to be

honoured of men, or to escape the cross, but to be upheld amidst

temptation, contempt, and affliction. Let us leave it to Christ,

which way he will make us serviceable to his glory, whether by

labour or suffering, by diligence or patience, by living to his

honour in working for him, or dying to his honour in suffering

for him.
21-26 Death is a great loss to a carnal, worldly man, for he

loses all his earthly comforts and all his hopes; but to a true

believer it is gain, for it is the end of all his weakness and

misery. It delivers him from all the evils of life, and brings

him to possess the chief good. The apostle's difficulty was not

between living in this world and living in heaven; between these

two there is no comparison; but between serving Christ in this

world and enjoying him in another. Not between two evil things,

but between two good things; living to Christ and being with

him. See the power of faith and of Divine grace; it can make us

willing to die. In this world we are compassed with sin; but

when with Christ, we shall escape sin and temptation, sorrow and

death, for ever. But those who have most reason to desire to

depart, should be willing to remain in the world as long as God

has any work for them to do. And the more unexpected mercies are

before they come, the more of God will be seen in them.
27-30 Those who profess the gospel of Christ, should live as

becomes those who believe gospel truths, submit to gospel laws,

and depend upon gospel promises. The original word

"conversation" denotes the conduct of citizens who seek the

credit, safety, peace, and prosperity of their city. There is

that in the faith of the gospel, which is worth striving for;

there is much opposition, and there is need of striving. A man

may sleep and go to hell; but he who would go to heaven, must

look about him and be diligent. There may be oneness of heart

and affection among Christians, where there is diversity of

judgment about many things. Faith is God's gift on the behalf of

Christ; the ability and disposition to believe are from God. And

if we suffer reproach and loss for Christ, we are to reckon them

a gift, and prize them accordingly. Yet salvation must not be

ascribed to bodily afflictions, as though afflictions and

worldly persecutions deserved it; but from God only is

salvation: faith and patience are his gifts.

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