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Imitating Christ’s Humility
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Shining as Lights in the World
12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without murmuring and arguing, 15so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. 16It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you— 18and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me.
Timothy and Epaphroditus
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. 20I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But Timothy’s worth you know, how like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; 24and I trust in the Lord that I will also come soon.
25 Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need; 26for he has been longing for all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. 28I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honor such people, 30because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me.
Php 2:1-30. Continued Exhortation: To Unity: To Humility after Christ's Example, Whose Glory Followed His Humiliation: To Earnestness in Seeking Perfection, that They May Be His Joy in the Day of Christ: His Joyful Readiness to Be Offered Now by Death, so as to Promote Their Faith. His Intention to Send Timothy: His Sending Epaphroditus Meantime.
1. The "therefore" implies that he is here expanding on the exhortation (Php 1:27), "In one Spirit, with one mind (soul)." He urges four influencing motives in this verse, to inculcate the four Christian duties corresponding respectively to them (Php 2:2). "That ye be like-minded, having the same love, of one accord, of one mind"; (1) "If there be (with you) any consolation in Christ," that is, any consolation of which Christ is the source, leading you to wish to console me in my afflictions borne for Christ's sake, ye owe it to me to grant my request "that ye be like-minded" [Chrysostom and Estius]: (2) "If there be any comfort of (that is, flowing from) love," the adjunct of "consolation in Christ"; (3) "If any fellowship of (communion together as Christians, flowing from joint participation in) the Spirit" (2Co 13:14). As Pagans meant literally those who were of one village, and drank of one fountain, how much greater is the union which conjoins those who drink of the same Spirit! (1Co 12:4, 13) [Grotius]: (4) "If any bowels (tender emotions) and mercies (compassions)," the adjuncts of "fellowship of the Spirit." The opposites of the two pairs, into which the four fall, are reprobated, Php 2:3, 4.
2. Fulfil—that is, Make full. I have joy in you, complete it by that which is still wanting, namely, unity (Php 1:9).
likeminded—literally, "that ye be of the same mind"; more general than the following "of one mind."
having the same love—equally disposed to love and be loved.
being of one accord—literally, "with united souls." This pairs with the following clause, thus, "With united souls, being of one mind"; as the former two also pair together, "That ye be likeminded, having the same love."
3. Let nothing be done—The italicized words are not in the Greek. Perhaps the ellipsis had better be supplied from the Greek (Php 2:2), "Thinking nothing in the way of strife" (or rather, "factious intrigue," "self-seeking," see on Php 1:16). It is the thought which characterizes the action as good or bad before God.
lowliness of mind—The direct relation of this grace is to God alone; it is the sense of dependence of the creature on the Creator as such, and it places all created beings in this respect on a level. The man "lowly of mind" as to his spiritual life is independent of men, and free from all slavish feeling, while sensible of his continual dependence on God. Still it INDIRECTLY affects his behavior toward his fellow men; for, conscious of his entire dependence on God for all his abilities, even as they are dependent on God for theirs, he will not pride himself on his abilities, or exalt self in his conduct toward others (Eph 4:2; Col 3:12) [Neander].
let each esteem—Translate as Greek, "esteeming each other superior to yourselves." Instead of fixing your eyes on those points in which you excel, fix them on those in which your neighbor excels you: this is true "humility."
4. The oldest manuscripts read, "Not looking each of you (plural, Greek) on his own things (that is, not having regard solely to them), but each of you on the things of others" also. Compare Php 2:21; also Paul's own example (Php 1:24).
5. The oldest manuscripts read, "Have this mind in you," &c. He does not put forward himself (see on Php 2:4, and Php 1:24) as an example, but Christ, THE ONE pre-eminently who sought not His own, but "humbled Himself" (Php 2:8), first in taking on Him our nature, secondly, in humbling Himself further in that nature (Ro 15:3).
6. Translate, "Who subsisting (or existing, namely, originally: the Greek is not the simple substantive verb, 'to be') in the form of God (the divine essence is not meant: but the external self-manifesting characteristics of God, the form shining forth from His glorious essence). The divine nature had infinite BEAUTY in itself, even without any creature contemplating that beauty: that beauty was 'the form of God'; as 'the form of a servant' (Php 2:7), which is in contrasted opposition to it, takes for granted the existence of His human nature, so 'the form of God' takes for granted His divine nature [Bengel], Compare Joh 5:37; 17:5; Col 1:15, 'Who is the IMAGE of the invisible God' at a time before 'every creature,' 2Co 4:4, esteemed (the same Greek verb as in Php 2:3) His being on an equality with God no (act of) robbery" or self-arrogation; claiming to one's self what does not belong to him. Ellicott, Wahl, and others have translated, "A thing to be grasped at," which would require the Greek to be harpagma, whereas harpagmos means the act of seizing. So harpagmos means in the only other passage where it occurs, Plutarch [On the Education of Children, 120]. The same insuperable objection lies against Alford's translation, "He regarded not as self-enrichment (that is, an opportunity for self-exaltation) His equality with God." His argument is that the antithesis (Php 2:7) requires it, "He used His equality with God as an opportunity, not for self-exaltation, but for self-abasement, or emptying Himself." But the antithesis is not between His being on an equality with God, and His emptying Himself; for He never emptied Himself of the fulness of His Godhead, or His "BEING on an equality with God"; but between His being "in the FORM (that is, the outward glorious self-manifestation) of God," and His "taking on Him the form of a servant," whereby He in a great measure emptied Himself of His precedent "form," or outward self-manifesting glory as God. Not "looking on His own things" (Php 2:4), He, though existing in the form of God, He esteemed it no robbery to be on an equality with God, yet made Himself of no reputation. "Being on an equality with God, is not identical with subsisting in the form of God"; the latter expresses the external characteristics, majesty, and beauty of the Deity, which "He emptied Himself of," to assume "the form of a servant"; the former, "His being," or NATURE, His already existing STATE OF EQUALITY with God, both the Father and the Son having the same ESSENCE. A glimpse of Him "in the form of God," previous to His incarnation, was given to Moses (Ex 24:10, 11), Aaron, &c.
7. made himself of no reputation, and … and—rather as the Greek, "emptied Himself, taking upon him the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men." The two latter clauses (there being no conjunctions, "and … and," in the Greek) expresses in what Christ's "emptying of Himself" consists, namely, in "taking the form of a servant" (see on Heb 10:5; compare Ex 21:5, 6, and Ps 40:6, proving that it was at the time when He assumed a body, He took "the form of a servant"), and in order to explain how He took "the form of a servant," there is added, by "being made in the likeness of men." His subjection to the law (Lu 2:21; Ga 4:4) and to His parents (Lu 2:51), His low state as a carpenter, and carpenter's reputed son (Mt 13:55; Mr 6:3), His betrayal for the price of a bond-servant (Ex 21:32), and slave-like death to relieve us from the slavery of sin and death, finally and chiefly, His servant-like dependence as man on God, while His divinity was not outwardly manifested (Isa 49:3, 7), are all marks of His "form as a servant." This proves: (1) He was in the form of a servant as soon as He was made man. (2) He was "in the form of God" before He was "in the form of a servant." (3) He did as really subsist in the divine nature, as in the form of a servant, or in the nature of man. For He was as much "in the form of God" as "in the form of a servant"; and was so in the form of God as "to be on an equality with God"; He therefore could have been none other than God; for God saith, "To whom will ye liken Me and make Me equal?" (Isa 46:5), [Bishop Pearson]. His emptying Himself presupposes His previous plenitude of Godhead (Joh 1:14; Col 1:19; 2:9). He remained full of this; yet He bore Himself as if He were empty.
8. being found in fashion as a man—being already, by His "emptying Himself," in the form of a servant, or likeness of man (Ro 8:3), "He humbled Himself (still further by) becoming obedient even unto death (not as English Version, 'He humbled Himself and became,'&c.; the Greek has no 'and,' and has the participle, not the verb), and that the death of the cross." "Fashion" expresses that He had the outward guise, speech, and look. In Php 2:7, in the Greek, the emphasis is on Himself (which stands before the Greek verb), "He emptied Himself," His divine self, viewed in respect to what He had heretofore been; in Php 2:8 the emphasis is on "humbled" (which stands before the Greek "Himself"); He not only "emptied Himself" of His previous "form of God," but submitted to positive HUMILIATION. He "became obedient," namely, to God, as His "servant" (Ro 5:19; Heb 5:8). Therefore "God" is said to "exalt" Him (Php 2:9), even as it was God to whom He became voluntarily "obedient." "Even unto death" expresses the climax of His obedience (Joh 10:18).
9. Wherefore—as the just consequence of His self-humiliation and obedience (Ps 8:5, 6; 110:1, 7; Mt 28:18; Lu 24:26; Joh 5:27; 10:17; Ro 14:9; Eph 1:20-22; Heb 2:9). An intimation, that if we would hereafter be exalted, we too must, after His example, now humble ourselves (Php 2:3, 5; Php 3:21; 1Pe 5:5, 6). Christ emptied Christ; God exalted Christ as man to equality with God [Bengel].
highly exalted—Greek, "super-eminently exalted" (Eph 4:10).
given him—Greek, "bestowed on Him."
a name—along with the corresponding reality, glory and majesty.
10. at the name—rather as Greek, "in the name."
bow—rather, "bend," in token of worship. Referring to Isa 45:23; quoted also in Ro 14:11. To worship "in the name of Jesus," is to worship Jesus Himself (compare Php 2:11; Pr 18:10), or God in Christ (Joh 16:23; Eph 3:14). Compare "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord (that is, whosoever shall call on the Lord in His revealed character) shall be saved" (Ro 10:13; 1Co 1:2); "all that call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord" (compare 2Ti 2:22); "call on the Lord"; Ac 7:59, "calling upon … and saying, Lord Jesus" (Ac 9:14, 21; 22:16).
in earth—men; among whom He tabernacled for a time.
under the earth—the dead; among whom He was numbered once (Ro 14:9, 11; Eph 4:9, 10; Re 5:13). The demons and the lost may be included indirectly, as even they give homage, though one of fear, not love, to Jesus (Mr 3:11; Lu 8:31; Jas 2:19, see on Php 2:11).
11. every tongue—Compare "every knee" (Php 2:10). In every way He shall be acknowledged as Lord (no longer as "servant," Php 2:7). As none can fully do so "but by the Holy Ghost" (1Co 12:3), the spirits of good men who are dead, must be the class directly meant, Php 2:10, "under the earth."
12. Wherefore—Seeing that we have in Christ such a specimen of glory resulting from "obedience" (Php 2:8) and humiliation, see that ye also be "obedient," and so "your salvation" shall follow your obedience.
as ye have … obeyed—"even as ye have been obedient," namely, to God, as Jesus was "obedient" unto God (see on Php 2:8).
not as, &c.—"not as if" it were a matter to be done "in my presence only, but now (as things are) much more (with more earnestness) in my absence (because my help is withdrawn from you)" [Alford].
work out—carry out to its full perfection. "Salvation" is "worked in" (Php 2:13; Eph 1:11) believers by the Spirit, who enables them through faith to be justified once for all; but it needs, as a progressive work, to be "worked out" by obedience, through the help of the same Spirit, unto perfection (2Pe 1:5-8). The sound Christian neither, like the formalist, rests in the means, without looking to the end, and to the Holy Spirit who alone can make the means effectual; nor, like the fanatic, hopes to attain the end without the means.
your own—The emphasis is on this. Now that I am not present to further the work of your salvation, "work out your own salvation" yourselves the more carefully. Do not think this work cannot go on because I am absent; "for (Php 2:13) it is God that worketh in you," &c. In this case adopt a rule different from the former (Php 2:4), but resting on the same principle of "lowliness of mind" (Php 2:3), namely, "look each on his own things," instead of "disputings" with others (Php 2:14).
salvation—which is in "Jesus" (Php 2:10), as His name (meaning God-Saviour) implies.
with fear and trembling—the very feeling enjoined on "servants," as to what ought to accompany their "obedience" (Eph 6:5). So here: See that, as "servants" to God, after the example of Christ, ye be so "with the fear and trembling" which becomes servants; not slavish fear, but trembling anxiety not to fall short of the goal (1Co 9:26, 27; Heb 4:1, "Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any should come short of it"), resulting from a sense of our human insufficiency, and from the consciousness that all depends on the power of God, "who worketh both to will and to do" (Ro 11:20). "Paul, though joyous, writes seriously" [J. J. Wolf].
13. For—encouragement to work: "For it is God who worketh in you," always present with you, though I be absent. It is not said, "Work out your own salvation, though it is God," &c., but, "because it is God who," &c. The will, and the power to work, being first instalments of His grace, encourage us to make full proof of, and carry out to the end, the "salvation" which He has first "worked," and is still "working in" us, enabling us to "work it out." "Our will does nothing thereunto without grace; but grace is inactive without our will" [St. Bernard]. Man is, in different senses, entirely active, and entirely passive: God producing all, and we acting all. What He produced is our own acts. It is not that God does some, and we the rest. God does all, and we do all. God is the only proper author, we the only proper actors. Thus the same things in Scripture are represented as from God, and from us. God makes a new heart, and we are commanded to make us a new heart; not merely because we must use the means in order to the effect, but the effect itself is our act and our duty (Eze 11:19; 18:31; 36:26) [Edwards].
worketh—rather as Greek, "worketh effectually." We cannot of ourselves embrace the Gospel of grace: "the will" (Ps 110:3; 2Co 3:5) comes solely of God's gift to whom He will (Joh 6:44, 65); so also the power "to do" (rather, "to work effectually," as the Greek is the same as that for "worketh in"), that is, effectual perseverance to the end, is wholly of God's gift (Php 1:6; Heb 13:21).
14. murmurings—secret murmurings and complaints against your fellow men arising from selfishness: opposed to the example of Jesus just mentioned (compare the use of the word, Joh 7:12, 13; Ac 6:1; 1Pe 4:9; Jude 16).
disputings—The Greek is translated "doubting" in 1Ti 2:8. But here referring to profitless "disputings" with our fellow men, in relation to whom we are called on to be "blameless and harmless" (Php 2:15): so the Greek is translated, Mr 9:33, 34. These disputings flow from "vain glory" reprobated (Php 2:3); and abounded among the Aristotelian philosophers in Macedon, where Philippi was.
15. blameless and harmless—without either the repute of mischief, or the inclination to do it [Alford].
without rebuke—"without (giving handle for) reproach." The whole verse tacitly refers by contrast to De 32:5, "Their spot … not … of His children … a perverse and crooked generation" (compare 1Pe 2:12).
as lights in the world—The Greek expresses "as luminaries in the world," as the sun and moon, "the lights," or "great lights," in the material world or in the firmament. The Septuagint uses the very same Greek word in the passage, Ge 1:14, 16; compare Note,, see on Re 21:11.
16. Holding forth—to them, and so applying it (the common meaning of the Greek; perhaps here including also the other meaning, "holding fast"). The image of light-bearers or luminaries is carried on from Php 2:15. As the heavenly luminaries' light is closely connected with the life of animals, so ye hold forth the light of Christ's "word" (received from me) which is the "life" of the Gentiles (Joh 1:4; 1Jo 1:1, 5-7). Christ is "the Light of the world" (Joh 8:12); believers are only "light-bearers" reflecting His light.
that I have not run in vain—that it was not in vain that I labored for your spiritual good.
17. Yea, and if—rather as Greek, "Yea, if even"; implying that he regarded the contingency as not unlikely: He had assumed the possibility of his being found alive at Christ's coming (for in every age Christ designed Christians to stand in preparedness for His coming as at hand): he here puts a supposition which he regards as more likely, namely, his own death before Christ's coming.
I be offered—rather as Greek, "I am poured out." "I am made a libation." Present, not future, as the danger is threatening him now. As in sacrifices libations of wine were "poured upon" the offerings, so he represents his Philippian converts, offered through faith (or else their faith itself), as the sacrifice, and his blood as the libation "poured upon" it (compare Ro 15:16; 2Ti 4:6).
service—Greek, "priest's ministration"; carrying out the image of a sacrifice.
I joy—for myself (Php 1:21, 23). His expectation of release from prison is much fainter, than in the Epistles to Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, written somewhat earlier from Rome. The appointment of Tigellinus to be Prætorian Prefect was probably the cause of this change. See Introduction.
rejoice with you all—Alford translates, "I congratulate you all," namely on the honor occurring to you by my blood being poured out on the sacrifice of your faith. If they rejoiced already (as English Version represents), what need of his urging them, "Do ye also joy."
18. "Do ye also rejoice" at this honor to you, "and congratulate me" on my blessed "gain" (Php 1:21).
19. Php 2:22, "ye know the proof of him … that … he hath served with me," implies that Timothy had been long with Paul at Philippi; Accordingly, in the history (Ac 16:1-4; 17:10, 14), we find them setting out together from Derbe in Lycaonia, and together again at Berea in Macedonia, near the conclusion of Paul's missionary journey: an undesigned coincidence between the Epistle and history, a mark of genuineness [Paley]. From Php 2:19-30, it appears Epaphroditus was to set out at once to allay the anxiety of the Philippians on his account, and at the same time bearing the Epistle; Timothy was to follow after the apostle's liberation was decided, when they could arrange their plans more definitely as to where Timothy should, on his return with tidings from Philippi, meet Paul, who was designing by a wider circuit, and slower progress, to reach that city. Paul's reason for sending Timothy so soon after having heard of the Philippians from Epaphroditus was that they were now suffering persecutions (Php 1:28-30); and besides, Epaphroditus' delay through sickness on his journey to Rome from Philippi, made the tidings he brought to be of less recent date than Paul desired. Paul himself also hoped to visit them shortly.
But I trust—Yet my death is by no means certain; yea, "I hope (Greek) in the Lord (that is, by the Lord's help)"
unto you—literally, "for you," that is, to your satisfaction, not merely motion, to you.
I also—that not only you "may be of good courage" (so Greek) on hearing of me (Php 2:23), but "I also, when I know your state."
20. His reason for sending Timothy above all others: I have none so "like-minded," literally, "like-souled," with myself as is Timothy. Compare De 13:6, "Thy friend which is as thine own soul" (Ps 55:14). Paul's second self.
naturally—Greek, "genuinely"; "with sincere solicitude." A case wherein the Spirit of God so changed man's nature, that to be natural was with him to be spiritual: the great point to be aimed at.
seek their own—opposed to Paul's precept (Php 2:4; 1Co 10:24, 33; 13:5). This is spoken, by comparison with Timothy; for Php 1:16, 17 implies that some of those with Paul at Rome were genuine Christians, though not so self-sacrificing as Timothy. Few come to the help of the Lord's cause, where ease, fame, and gain have to be sacrificed. Most help only when Christ's gain is compatible with their own (Jud 5:17, 23).
22. Rare praise (Ne 7:2).
as a son with the father—Translate, "as a child (serveth) a father."
served with me—When we might expect the sentence to run thus. "As a child serveth a father, so he served me"; he changes it to "served with me" in modesty; as Christians are not servants TO one another," but servants of God WITH one another (compare Php 3:17).
in the gospel—Greek, "unto," or "for the Gospel."
23. so soon as I shall see—that is, so soon as I shall have known for certain.
24. also myself—as well as Timothy.
25. I supposed—"I thought it necessary."
ministered to my wants—by conveying the contributions from Philippi. The Greek "leitourgon," literally, implies ministering in the ministerial office. Probably Epaphroditus was a presbyter or else a deacon.
26. For—reason for thinking it "necessary to send" "Epaphroditus. Translate as Greek, "Inasmuch as he was longing after you all."
full of heaviness—The Greek expresses the being worn out and overpowered with heavy grief.
because that ye had heard that he had been sick—rather, "that he was sick." He felt how exceedingly saddened you would be in hearing it; and he now is hastening to relieve your minds of the anxiety.
27. Epaphroditus' sickness proves that the apostles had not ordinarily the permanent gift of miracles, any more than of inspiration: both were vouchsafed to them only for each particular occasion, as the Spirit thought fit.
lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow—namely, the sorrow of losing him by death, in addition to the sorrow of my imprisonment. Here only occurs anything of a sorrowful tone in this Epistle, which generally is most joyous.
29. Receive him—There seems to be something behind respecting him. If extreme affection had been the sole ground of his "heaviness," no such exhortation would have been needed [Alford].
in reputation—"in honor."
30. for the work of Christ—namely, the bringing of a supply to me, the minister of Christ. He was probably in a delicate state of health in setting out from Philippi; but at all hazards he undertook this service of Christian love, which cost him a serious sickness.
not regarding his life—Most of the oldest manuscripts read, "hazarding," &c.
to supply your lack of service—Not that Paul would imply, they lacked the will: what they "lacked" was the "opportunity" by which to send their accustomed bounty (Php 4:10). "That which ye would have done if you could (but which you could not through absence), he did for you; therefore receive him with all joy" [Alford].