The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4

Philippians 2

Phi 2:1

The Gr of this verse is elliptical; there are no verbs in the original.

Collectively, the fourfold premise of this verse adds up to this: 'Look, if there is anything at all to your Christianity...!' Paul was here appealing to those very things which he considered most certain in the area of Christian experience.

ENCOURAGEMENT: Gr "paraklesis": a calling to one's side, to exhort or comfort and console. Related to the "Counselor" or "Comforter" of John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7.

COMFORT: Gr "paramuthion": lit, to speak close to someone, ie to whisper consoling words.

FELLOWSHIP WITH THE SPIRIT: "Koinonia pneumatos" (no article). The quality of mind (or spirit) that promotes true unity wi others. // "fellowship of suffering" (Phi 3:10), and "fellowship of the Spirit" (Col 3:12). The Philippians have been made one by the Spirit (cf 1Co 12:13) and thus are partners with Paul and with each other.

Phi 2:2

MAKE MY JOY COMPLETE: Paul's joy was contingent upon harmony and unity of purpose among the Philippians. He was already experiencing joy because of his associations with this church (Phi 1:3,4; 4:10), but one thing was yet needed to make his joy complete. If the trouble between two sisters (Phi 4:2) was not resolved, for example, his thoughts of joy would be tainted with sadness.

LIKE-MINDED, HAVING THE SAME LOVE: Cp Phi 1:27. Lit, "minding the same thing": of course, this was not a command for unity at the expense of truth; itt assumes that "the same thing" is also "the right thing."

"If we wish to check where we stand, each of us, within this present fellowship, let us stand alongside Phi 2:2 and examine our part in the life of the community... The mind does not spring from the love: the love springs from the mind. The other way round is altogether of human thinking and is not Bible based. It is from the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ that true love springs [vv 5-8]" (HAT, Xd 114:248).

THE SAME LOVE: As a "fruit" of the Spirit: Gal 5:22.

Phi 2:3

SELFISH AMBITION... VAIN CONCEIT: The poss causes of disunity (ct Phi 1:27).

SELFISH AMBITION: Gr "eritheian": "strife" (AV), "faction" (RV, Roth), "party spirit" (Diag), "selfishness" RSV). "Ambition, selfseeking, rivalry" (Vine). The word is derived from "erithos", a "hireling". Sw Phi 1:17.

VAIN CONCEIT: Gr "kenodoxia", empty glorying, ie self conceit. Only once in NT.

HUMILITY: The word "tapeinophrosune" occurs 6 times in NT, and is used 5 times by Paul: Acts 20:19; Eph 4:2; Col 2:18,23; 3:12; 1Pe 5:5. The cognate verb is translated "humbled" in Phi 2:8. This humility is mentioned in Eph 4:1-3 as an essential prerequisite for peace.

CONSIDER OTHERS BETTER THAN YOURSELVES: This does not mean that we must have false or unrealistic views of our own gifts as compared with those of others. Moral superiority is not in view. What Paul means is that our consideration for others must precede concern for ourselves (Rom 12:10). This will go far toward removing disharmony.

Phi 2:4

// Gal 6:2,5: there are heavy "burdens" with which almost anyone might need help, and then is the time when others should step to look after that person's "interests"; but every man should be able to carry his own "burden" (the small bundle!) -- or care for his own "interests" -- for himself.

It was proper that Paul, who declared with utter sincerity that he was the least of the apostles (1Co 15:9), less than the least of all saints (Eph 3:8), and the chief of sinners (1Ti 1:15), should call on others to regard their fellows as better than themselves. Paul was entirely free from the tragic self-righteousness of the Pharisees which prompted them to thank God for being superior to other men.

By ensuring the welfare of others and promoting their interest, pride in personal achievement will vanish, and divisions cannot come. Whenever was their disunity in a community, each member of which saw that the other was well cared for?

In this context, four wonderful examples of humility are set forth: Christ (vv 5-11), Paul (vv 12-18), Timothy (vv 19-24), and Ephaphroditus (vv 25-30).

BUT ALSO: This indicates that our own affairs need not be totally ignored, but that the interests of others must also form a part of our concern. The believer should not neglect the welfare of himself and his family (1Ti 5:8) in order to involve himself in the good of others; if he does so, then inevitably others will one day have to step in and take care of HIS interests; in such a way, any good he does for OTHERS will be neutralized in the necessity of others to care for him and his family!

Phi 2:5

Phi 2:5-30: Exhortations to submission: (a) the example of Christ (vv 5-11); (b) the example of Paul (vv 12-18); (c) the example of Timothy (vv 19-24); (d) the example of Epaphroditus (vv 25-30).

Vv 5-11: Paul seems to be quoting from a Christian hymn. The rhythmical nature of this portion has caused some to describe it as a christological hymn, either borrowed by Paul from an even earlier Christian source, or composed by another Christian, or even by Paul himself. There is no problem in seeing the passage as the incorporating of an earlier Christian hymn (1Ti 3:16 may be another Pauline instance of such quotation). However, Paul himself could write highly poetic passages (as Rom 8:35-39 and 1Co 13 show), and the content is certainly harmonious with Paul's thought.

"Let this mind [and not the serpent mind] be in you" (KJV). Be conformed to the image of Christ: Col 3:9,10; Rom 8:9; 15:2,3; 1Pe 2:13-23; Heb 12:1-8.

"Nothing that we do means anything if the mind is not continuously fixed on God. All labor, all study, all service and sacrifice and suffering, are useless if we do not keep God before our mind, for none of it is serving its intended purpose. Here is the danger and deceptiveness of the flesh. Various aspects of the 'work of the Truth' appeal to the natural inclinations of different people. Some like to debate and contend, some like to study, some like to teach, some like to do the active work: the cooking, the entertaining, the arranging, the procuring. All this is fine, and we should be thankful that it is so. But let us always remember: if we are not consciously doing it for God -- in love of God -- it is fruitless and meaningless in any eternal sense. The mind fixed on God -- in total harmony with God -- is the ultimate goal and purpose of all. If any activity is not contributing to this purpose, but rather diverting the mind from it to its own self, then that activity is counter-productive and destructive, however "good" it may be. It has usurped the position of God in our heart and mind and thoughts. It has become idolatry" (GVG).

YOUR ATTITUDE SHOULD BE THE SAME AS THAT OF CHRIST JESUS: "Let this MIND be in you..." (AV). What is the resource for this kind of thinking? Where do we find what it takes to have the mind of Christ in us? We find it in Christ. Specifically we find it when we orient our lives with him at the center. Paul put it this way: "To me, to live IS Christ" (Phi 1:21). For some people to live is finances. For others it is fame. For some it is family. For others to live is fun. "Life" is whatever we put at the center of living. Paul put Christ there. Consequently he viewed God as Christ did. He saw people as Christ did. He viewed his purpose as Christ did. He established his priorities as Christ did. He conducted his daily affairs as Christ did. His life WAS Christ.

Phi 2:6

BEING: Sig "being continuously", not "having been" (as, only in the past). Definitely not, as the RV mg, "being originally"!

VERY NATURE: Sb "form", shape, figure, fashion (Gr "morphe"). A different Gr word sig "essential nature": "eidos". In v 7, "morphe" = demeanor, character, attitude, rank, standing. Only other usage of "morphe" in NT: Mar 16:12. The word is often used of visible shapes, but may also be used of abstract things as well: eg 2Ti 3:5, "a form (morphosin) of godliness"; and Gal 4:19: "until Christ be formed in you".

GOD: In God's moral image: Heb 1:3; Col 1:15. Also, Jesus had a DIVINE STATUS or rank by reason of the unique manner of his birth: John 1:14,18; 17:6,26; Luk 20:42-44 (cit Psa 110); John 13:13,14.

But the key point is this: whatever is meant by the "morphe" of a servant in v 7 must also be what is meant by the "morphe" of God in v 6. It seems clear that the idea has to do with status, rank, or standing.

DID NOT CONSIDER EQUALITY WITH GOD SOMETHING TO BE GRASPED: "Did not meditate a usurpation to be as God" (Diag). In ct Eve, who desired to be as Elohim. Cp Gen 3:5. In his temptations, Jesus resisted the challenge to demonstrate that he was "son of God", and was instead subservient to the will of God (Mat 4:3,6). "Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Mat 26:39).

SOMETHING TO BE GRASPED: "Robbery" (AV) = "harpagmos": the act of seizing, robbery, ie, something which belongs to someone else, which is unlawfully taken by another! (Sw Mat 11:12; 13:19; 2Co 12:2,3,4; 1Th 4:17.) "In all the usages in the NT there is the meaning of laying hold of something external to oneself" (BPh 74). For Christ to have had equality with God therefore required him to unlawfully take to himself something which he did not have!

Phi 2:7

MADE HIMSELF NOTHING: Lit, "emptied himself" (as RV, RSV): cp Joh 6:38; Luk 22:42; Heb 10:7. Christ emptied himself of his own will and desires, becoming a humble servant of the Father.

Examples of Christ's humility: "Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself" (John 6:15). "It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them" (Luk 12:37). Even after his resurrection, he (presumably) kindled the fire and cooked the fish, in John 21:9. Jesus in the role of a servant: Isa 53:3; Psa 22:6; Isa 42:1-6; 49:1-8; 50:4-6; Mar 9:12; 10:45; Luk 22:27; Psa 40:6-8; 2co 8:9; Mat 20:25-28.

TAKING THE VERY NATURE OF A SERVANT: Accepted the "form" (morphe)... cp Joh 13:13,14 (Xt a servant for our example) and Heb 5:8,9 (...and for his own training). The Master and Lord washed his disciples' feet. So, at the same time, he had "form/status" of God and "form/status" of servant (cp Isa 52:13,14)! Cp Joh 21:9.

BEING MADE: It is possible to read this as "having (already) been made" (Gr "genomenos"), by birth! But, alternatively, and very reasonably, "genomenos" may sig "he became -- or showed, or proved himself" (ie after birth); notice that the sw is used in v 8: "he became" obedient to death -- and surely that wasn't at the moment of his birth!

IN HUMAN LIKENESS: See Lesson, "Homoioma" (likeness).

"Problems created by a thesis which we maintain has no clear Scriptural attestation... What happened to the consciousness and personality of the pre-existent Lord when he became a babe, and what relationship did this personality bear to that of a developing human being who LEARNED obedience by the things which he suffered (cf Heb 5:8)? Then again, in what way can an eternal celestial being become subject to death and require to be delivered out of it (Heb 5:7)? These surely are insoluble problems. Some might feel that this is mere rationalism. To such we humbly beg leave to point out that scripture is silent on the subject of a pre-existent Lord who consented to being born a child. Take the narrative of Christ's birth, so beautifully presented by Matthew and Luke. Their agreement on the main fact is complete: the babe to be born of Mary will be of the Holy Spirit (Mat 1:18; Luk 1:35). Why in these records is there nothing even remotely resembling a suggestion that the child to be so born was already in existence? If this were really true, why is the information withheld, and with what motive? In Romans we have Paul's complete statement of the Christian faith. Why is there no mention of the pre-existence of Christ in this great epistle?" (BPh 77,78).

Phi 2:8

After the daily laying down of his life in the service of others comes the supreme act of self-humiliation on Christ's part in his submission to the cross.

APPEARANCE: Gr "schema": the external condition. Outwardly considered, he was no different from other men.

HUMBLED HIMSELF: "Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered" (Heb 5:8). "For even Christ did not please himself" (Rom 15:3).

DEATH -- EVEN DEATH ON A CROSS: "The Biblical writers are not given to exaggerating the sufferings and achievements of their central characters. The Gospels are models of sober narrative. Paul here shows himself to be true to this tradition. Even so, the repetition of 'death' should not be missed" (BPh 134).

Phi 2:9

GOD HIGHLY EXALTED HIM: "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted" (Mat 23:12; cp 1Pe 5:5,6; Jam 1:9-11; Mat 5:3; Eph 1:20,21; Acts 2:32,33). Christ was raised from the dead because he yielded perfect obedience to his Father: the grave could not hold him (Acts 2:24).

The words are cited from Isa 52:13: "See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. "

Phi 2:10

AT THE NAME OF JESUS EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW: "Every knee": angels ("in heaven"), living ("on earth"), and dead ("under the earth"). Cp, generally, Rev 5. Christ's dominion extends over the whole realm of created beings. This authority is to be acknowledged now, even though at present that is far from being the case: "Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him" (Heb 2:8). See also the parallel in Rom 14:9.

THE NAME: To proclaim the name of another is to rehearse his attributes, and so it is with God (Exo 34:5-7; 23:21). Now Jesus is to be invested with the authority of his Father, for he has manifested His attributes of character. The name of Yahweh has been developed in the Son, and to be "in" the name of Yahweh is to be "in" the Lord Jesus Christ (cp 1Th 1:1; Rom 14:11,12). "May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed" (Psa 72:17).

When a ruling dignitary approaches his subjects, they all rise in respect. One day as the king of England entered a room and everyone stood, he said, "Please take your seats, gentlemen. I'm not the Lord, you know."

"No, your Highness," replied one of the group. "If you were the Lord, we would have fallen on our knees."

Phi 2:11

Cp Rom 14:9. The full title of Jesus will be "Lord of all" (Acts 10:36,42).

Phi 2:12

Vv 12-18: The example of Paul.

AS YOU HAVE ALWAYS OBEYED -- NOT ONLY IN MY PRESENCE, BUT NOW MUCH MORE IN MY ABSENCE: Paul is not rebuking the Philippians, but exhorting them to continue their progress and growth in the faith without undue dependence on his presence. Perhaps he had noted a weakness along this line. Once before in the letter he had mentioned their need to be as diligent in his absence as they were when he was present with them (Phi 1:27).

WORK OUT: "Katergomai" -- "a mistaken form of muscular Christianity", unless we remember that God "energizes" us in this work (v 13)! Our work = intensive labor; God's work = energizing. "We are laborers together with God" (1Co 3:9; cp Eph 2:10).

"Salvation has many aspects, including a present one. Regeneration initiates the believer into a life with obligations. Acknowledging Jesus Christ as Lord obligates the believer to obey him. Hence, working OUT salvation does not mean 'working FOR' salvation, but making salvation operational. Justification must be followed by the [practical] aspects of sanctification, by which the new life in Christ is consciously appropriated and demonstrated" (EBC).

"God requires men to do their part as the condition and means of enabling Him to work out His purpose with and concerning them. It is a principle illustrated throughout the entire course of scripture, culminating in the command to work out our own salvation (here), coupled with the assurance (v 13) that God works with and in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. It is a noble and beneficent principle, tending to keep back man from presumption, and to prevent him from abusing God's help to his own destruction. It preserves the place for faith and wholesome activity, while giving us the comfort of divine co-operation in all that we do according to His will" (WP 124,125).

Still, "works" must follow in the path of "faith". Once justified, the saint must show his appreciation to God by a faithful obedience (Eph 2:8-10). Paul put it concisely when he said, "FAITH must WORK by LOVE" (Gal 5:6; cp 1Th 1:3). Abraham the sinner was justified by faith, without doing anything. But Abraham the saint was justified by works, when he offered up Isaac (cp Rom 4:3; Gen 15:6; Jam 2:20-23; Gen 22). No one, and certainly not the Philippians, could presume on the salvation of God. Therefore, Peter exhorts, "Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you DO these things, you will never fall" (2Pe 1:10).

FEAR AND TREMBLING: As Christ in the garden of Gethsemane (Heb 5:7; Luk 22:40-44; 23:46). Indeed, "we cannot miss the echoes here of Gethsemane" (BPh 136). This is no contradiction of the joyful spirit permeating this letter. Christian joy is the experience of every believer in God's will, but holy fear of God that trembles at the thought of sin is also the attitude of the careful Christian (Jam 4:8-10).

Phi 2:13

FOR IT IS GOD WHO WORKS IN YOU...: This echoes Psa 127:1: "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phi 1:6). It is for God's good pleasure that we have been made, and we in turn can only fulfill this good pleasure by allowing Him to will and work thru us (Rev 4:11; Eph 2:10; 1:5,9,10).

TO WILL: Notice carefully: there is a divine energizing of the will of the individual believer! But it IS "energizing", not "giving the initial impulse"! Not that anyone is given the "will" to do good when his or her "will" -- alone -- would be only to do what is evil. But rather, the human will, once it turns to God and seeks for help in doing good, will be strengthened by God to continue in that direction.

AND TO ACT: Or, "to WORK" (RV, sw as earlier in verse). God WORKS... you WORK! The repetition of the same word in the Greek emphasizes this dynamic equivalence. WHO is doing the work? God or man? Who can say! It is a partnership (1Co 3:9).

How does God work in us? God could act in some mysterious (and ultimately unknowable) way directly upon our minds. But then how would we differ from automatons, or robots, preprogrammed and responding without free will? On the other hand, God creating or redirecting circumstances in our lives; and causing trials which may strengthen character; or even opening our minds to certain positive and spiritual thoughts -- any or all of these could surely have the same effect to change us for the better... IF we are exercised thereby (Heb 12:11). The difference being: in these instance, we have the choice. Whether or not we ARE exercised thereby is (or certainly seems to be) entirely up to us.

God CAN work any way He chooses, for our ultimate good, and for His ultimate purpose. Who are we to tell Him how He should operate, or limit what He does? But, logically, it seems that God will not (generally? or ever?) act in a way to override the basic principles of His self-revelation. And it does appear that He wishes us to CHOOSE Him, out of a feeling of love and reverence.

Why should He need, why should He even want, to force us to choose Him (which is a contradiction in terms, anyway)? -- He doesn't NEED forced obedience or coerced "love"; that would be no choice at all, and could do Him no honor.

Look at it the other way around: Suppose I pray, "God, make me a better person without any effort on my part -- just 'reprogram' me that way, please!" Isn't that the same as saying, "God, just fix me, but don't make me a part of the process." IF He did such a thing, would that new "thing" be me, or something else?

Phi 2:14

DO EVERYTHING WITHOUT COMPLAINING OR ARGUING: Those who grumble and dispute cannot possibly have God working in them. Their attitude is negative, and so their works are vain. The attitude of faith, on the other hand, is positive. After assuming what the will of God is, and praying for help, such will be blessed with God's strength. Murmurers do not believe. Paul appears to have in mind the example of faithless Israel in the wilderness (1Co 10:10; Psa 106:25). We read that Israel "murmured in their tents and HEARKENED NOT unto the voice of the LORD." Here the "effect" and "cause" are clearly stated (cp Num 14:2,11). Murmuring was the "first" and "last" sin of the children of Israel (Exo 15:24; Num 17:10). Do you ever grow weary of the service of Christ? If so then your faith is dim. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Gal 6:9).

EVERYTHING: Emphasis in the command falls on the word "everything" (literally, "all things"), which is actually the first word of the verse in the Greek text. Most believers are able to do some things without complaint. It is when we are exhorted to be doing "all things" with a joyful spirit that the difficulty comes. Yet the outworking of our faith in daily life lays this responsibility upon us.

Phi 2:15

BLAMELESS: Gr "amemptos" = "without reproach".

PURE: Gr "akeraios", unmixed, ie, innocent. Sw Mat 10:16 ("innocent" as doves).

CHILDREN: Gr "techna", little children. Far from exalting themselves, believers were to become as little children (Mat 18:1-4). This innocence and blamelessness will be found in an ecclesia only if the atmosphere is free of factionalism, resentment, and murmuring. All members of the ecclesia have the obligation to create and perpetuate an atmosphere of love and joy and peace and good will.

WITHOUT FAULT: Their nature as God's children would be clearly evident, with no obvious flaws (Gr "amoma" -- "without fault") to disfigure their witness.

IN A CROOKED AND DEPRAVED GENERATION: Paul quotes directly from Deu 32:5: "They have acted corruptly toward [the LORD]; to their shame they are no longer his children, but a warped and crooked generation." These words were spoken, of course, to Israel (Deu 31:19,26,28). Peter uses the sw in Gr -- a "crooked generation" -- in Acts 2:40, applying them to the Israel of his day.

IN WHICH YOU SHINE LIKE STARS IN THE UNIVERSE: As Jesus was "the light of the world" (John 8:12), so were believers to let their lights shine before men (Mat 5:15,16; cp Dan 12:3; Mat 13:43). "Lights" seems to allude to Isa 49:6: "a light for the Gentiles... to the ends of the earth". The seven-branched lampstand illuminated the dark corners of the sanctuary, and its light was derived from oil, which symbolizes the Spirit of God and the Word of God. As such, it was a parable in real life, of Israel enlightened by its revelation of Yahweh, and making that light available to the world around her! Cp Deu 4:6; Exo 25:31-39; 27:20,21; Psa 119:40,105; Rev 1:20; Zech 4:1.

UNIVERSE: One fails to see any reason for this particular NIV translation. The Gr is "kosmos" and is generally translated "world".

Phi 2:16

AS YOU HOLD OUT THE WORD OF LIFE: Like the stars in the heavens HOLD OUT light in the dark of night! Or like the arms or branches of the lampstand HOLD OUT the light in the darkness of the sanctuary!

IN ORDER THAT I MAY BOAST: Paul's joy depends on the degree to which God's word is effective in them. If there is love, peace, unity, and active proclamation of the gospel, then his joy is complete (Phi 2:1,2).

ON THE DAY OF CHRIST: The time when Christ will return for his church, and when believers will have their works inspected and rewarded (see Phi 1:6n).

THAT I DID NOT RUN OR LABOR FOR NOTHING: These words are cited from Isa 49:4, and were prophetic of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh, who laments that all his works seem to have been in vain (though, of course, this was ultimately not true -- infinite good came from his labors). The interesting point here is that Paul appropriates this verse, and applies it to himself. The work of the individual "Servant" has become, in his mind, the work of the whole "Body of Christ", of which he was a prominent part! The "I" of the Messiah had become the "I" of Paul: "Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

In Acts 13:47, Paul also cites Isa 49:4: "For this is what the Lord has commanded US: 'I have made YOU a light for the Gentiles, that YOU may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.' " So Paul sees his life as a filling up, or a completion, of the afflictions of Christ (Col 1:24; cp Gal 1:16; 2Co 4:10,11; Phi 3:10). On other occasions, Paul quotes Isa 49 as referring to his own work (Gal 1:10,15,16,24; 2:2; 4:11; 1Co 15:10,58).

Phi 2:17

BUT EVEN IF I AM BEING POURED OUT LIKE A DRINK OFFERING ON THE SACRIFICE AND SERVICE COMING FROM YOUR FAITH, I AM GLAD AND REJOICE WITH ALL OF YOU: Paul is not the sort of person to demand a service from others which he is unwilling to give himself! And he fully expects to be "poured out" as a drink offering (cp Num 15:1-10), to accompany THEIR sacrifice! "For I am already being poured out [sw] like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure" (2Ti 4:6). But Paul feels sure that even his death would be a small price for him to pay, if in some measure it encouraged them along in THEIR work of service to the same God to whom he was devoted!

The theme of the "Suffering Servant" (of Isa 49) continues here; the same Servant who was a light to the Gentiles would "pour out his life unto death" (Isa 53:12), and Paul expected to do the same!

Phi 2:18

SO YOU TOO SHOULD BE GLAD AND REJOICE WITH ME: This was the spirit of Mat 5:10-12: "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

The Philippians were, like Paul, enduring afflictions for the sake of Christ (Phi 1:28; 2:17). Together with him, they could rejoice that they were considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Christ (Acts 5:41). And so they are encouraged in their trials to display the same attitude as Paul in his. They must not wring their hands, nor bewail their own fates -- or Paul's, if and when it came.

Phi 2:19

Vv 19-24: The example of Timothy, and Paul's intention for the immediate future.

"The submissive mind is not the product of an hour's sermon, or a week's seminar, or even a year's service. The submissive mind grows in us as, like Timothy, we yield to the Lord and seek to serve others" (Wiersbe).

IN THE LORD JESUS: "Lord willing", as in Jam 4:13-15. Man proposes, but the Lord disposes. Paul often alludes in this letter to the lordship of Jesus in his day-to-day life: Phi 1:8,26; 2:24,29; 3:1,3; 4:1,10; cf Rom 14:14; 1Co 7:39; 16:7; Phm 22).

THAT I ALSO MAY BE CHEERED: Gr "eupsucho", from "eu" (good) and "psucho" (mind, pysche), thus to be cheered and encouraged.

WHEN I RECEIVE NEWS ABOUT YOU: Some time had passed since the coming of Epaphroditus, and Paul was seeking more up-to-date news of their welfare. The depth of Paul's concern for them is apparent from the fact that he is prepared to part with his closest companion in his hour of need (cp 1Th 3:1-5).

Phi 2:20

I HAVE NO ONE ELSE LIKE HIM, WHO TAKES A GENUINE INTEREST IN YOUR WELFARE: Timothy, after all, had worked alongside Paul and Silas to lay the foundations of the Philippian ecclesia (Acts 16). So Paul did not write these words to introduce Timothy to the Philippians. They already knew him well. Probably he wanted this glowing testimonial to give his original readers confidence that Timothy had their best interests at heart, and that he would represent their situation to Paul accurately.

GENUINE: Gr "gnesios" = legitimate, as of a lawfully-recognized birth (related to "genesis"). Cp v 22: "as a son with his father..."

Phi 2:21

FOR EVERYONE LOOKS OUT FOR HIS OWN INTERESTS, NOT THOSE OF JESUS CHRIST: This is a sad comment on human nature in general, but very often it is right on the mark (cp Phi 1:21). Besides, not many would be available for the long roundtrip journey to Philippi -- and those who might be available were possibly lacking in the devotion necessary... except for Timothy.

We need not read this too harshly: perhaps Paul's other helpers, who might have undertaken this trip, were already absent or occupied with important work.

Is the "everyone" describing some of those mentioned in Phi 1:15,17?

Phi 2:22

TIMOTHY HAS PROVED HIMSELF: "Timothy's worth ye know" (RSV). Like metal tested for purity and strength, Timothy had been tested in the "fires" for more than 10 years by now, and proved his worth.

AS A SON WITH HIS FATHER: This was Paul's typical way of thinking, and speaking, of Timothy: 1Ti 1:2,18; 2Ti 1: 2; 2:1; 1Co 4:17.

HE HAS SERVED WITH ME: Gr "douleuo", to be a slave.

Phi 2:23

I HOPE, THEREFORE, TO SEND HIM AS SOON AS I SEE HOW THINGS GO WITH ME: That is, as soon as Paul knows the verdict in his own trial (cp Phi 1:25) -- which he understands they (the Philippians) will surely want to know.

Phi 2:24

AND I AM CONFIDENT IN THE LORD THAT I MYSELF WILL COME SOON: "The apostle himself is expecting to come in person in the near future. Why then send Timothy? Presumably the favourable decision on his appeal to Nero would lead to his immediate release [cf Phi 1:25]. There might, however, be many matters to keep Paul in the capital for some time after his liberation from bonds. What these might be, we can only speculate" (BPh 139).

The Book of Acts does not record Paul's release from his Roman imprisonment. Nor does it record his execution at the end of it. But evidence furnished by the pastoral letters supports the hypothesis of a release during which Paul did additional traveling in Crete, Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Achaia. There is good reason, therefore, to believe that Paul's hope was realized.

IN THE LORD: Cp v 19n.

Phi 2:25

Vv 25-30: The example of Epaphroditus.

I THINK IT IS NECESSARY TO SEND BACK TO YOU EPAPHRODITUS: "We must not allow the AV and RV to mislead us into thinking that Epaphroditus has already left. The epistolary aorist of the Greek should be rendered by an English present" (BPh 140).

EPAPHRODITUS: Seeing that his name derives from the pagan goddess Aphrodite, it is reasonable to assume that he was a Gentile convert.

MY BROTHER: Impl a spiritual relationship closer than blood.

FELLOW WORKER: Their hearts beat as one in the cause they both loved.

FELLOW SOLDIER: Disciplined in the demands of the Truth (2Ti 3:14), sharing the "warfare" wi Paul. "The term is eloquent. Epaphroditus and Paul were engaged in a common warfare for Christ and they found in their devotion to their general a bond between them" (BPh 102).

The aspects of fellowship: fellow-heirs (Eph 3:6); fellow-soldiers (Phi 2:25); fellow-helpers (3Jo 1:8); fellow-workers (Col 4:11); fellow-servamts (Rev 6:11); fellow-prisoners (Rom 16:7); fellow-laborers (Phi 4:3); fellow-citizens (Eph 2:19).

MESSENGER: "Apostolos". Translators usually render the Greek word translated "messenger" as "apostle". This word has a general meaning and a specific meaning in the NT. Generally it means a messenger and describes such people as Barnabas (Acts 14:14), James, the Lord's brother (Gal 1:19; 1Co 15:7), probably Silas and Timothy (1Th 2:7; cf Phi 1:1), other brethren (2Co 8:23), and Epaphroditus here. Technically it refers to the 12 apostles and Paul, those whom Jesus had specially commissioned with the ministry of planting and establishing the church. This second usage is more common in the NT. Many men functioned as apostles in the early ecclesias, but only 13 were official apostles.

WHOM YOU SENT TO TAKE CARE OF MY NEEDS: His mission was more than simply to hand over a message (Phi 4:18): he had also to comfort and serve Paul's needs. The Gr here is "leitourgos" -- to serve as a public official, or as a priest in the sanctuary (cp Rom 15:16; Heb 8:2). Consequently Paul may have been thinking of Epaphroditus' ministry to him as similar to a priest's. He presented the Philippians' offering to Paul as a sacrifice (Phi 4:18). Epaphroditus was their special ambassador to him, their way of telling him that they cared enough to send their very best!

Phi 2:26

"Paul in this and the following verses appears to be excusing the return of Epaphroditus. is there a possibility that the Philippians would regard his leaving Rome as a dereliction of duty? Perhaps they think he ought to stay by the apostle's side. However, now that there is a prospect of Paul's early release, his services are no longer necessary. he has, too, been pining for his brethren and friends at Philippi, especially as news of his sickness has distressed the Philippians. Epaphroditus, despite his attachment to Paul, may not have felt quite at home in the great centre of Rome, such a contrast to the quieter town of Philippi" (BPh 140).

HE LONGS FOR ALL OF YOU: Cp Xt, who at his own death sorrowed for others! Paul used the word translated "longing" (NASB) or "longs" (NIV, Gr "epipotheo") earlier to describe his own feelings for the Philippians (Phi 1:8; cf Jam 4:5; 1Pe 2:2).

DISTRESSED: The Gr "ademonon" also described Jesus' feelings in Gethsemane (Mat 26:37; Mark 14:33). The etymology of the word is not certain, although it is most commonly traced to "ademos" ("away from home") and thus "beside oneself, distressed, troubled". "It describes the confused, restless, half-distracted state, which is produced by physical derangement, or by mental distress, as grief, shame, disappointment, etc" (Lightfoot).

Phi 2:27

INDEED HE WAS ILL, AND ALMOST DIED: The precise nature of his ailment is not indicated but it was related to his labors in the Lord’s service, perhaps from the hazards or the exertions of the journey to Rome (v 30). The illness was so severe that Paul regarded the recovery as an intervention of God.

BUT GOD HAD MERCY ON HIM, AND NOT ON HIM ONLY BUT ALSO ON ME, TO SPARE ME SORROW UPON SORROW: "Apart from any sense of personal loss had Epaphroditus died, Paul would have been deeply grieved that his death had been occasioned by his coming to Rome for the apostle's sake" (BPh 140).

Note that Paul did not have the ability to heal everyone whom he wished would be healthy, even his fellow workers. Divine healing has always been subject to the will of God.

Phi 2:28

"As in v 25, the appropriate tense in English is the present... Now that Epaphroditus has recovered, Paul is understandably anxious that he should be restored to the Philippians in good health" (BPh 140).

Phi 2:29

"This MAY mean that Paul is anticipating some reluctance on the part of the Philippians to welcome Epaphroditus. It can only be a suggestion but it certainly does seem superfluous in ordinary circumstances for Paul to admonish the Philippians to welcome him. Surely they had sufficient regard and affection for Epaphroditus. Then imagine the excitement at having news direct from the apostle. The Philippians are asked to give their returned envoy a truly Christian welcome" (BPh 141).

Phi 2:30

RISKING HIS LIFE: The Gr here may sig "to gamble": Aphrodite (Venus) was the goddess of gamblers. When a pagan Greek threw the dice he would cry out "epaphroditos!" meaning "favorite of Aphrodite". Epaphroditus' name may have connections with this custom. If so, Paul may have written that Epaphroditus "risked [gambled] his life" as a play on his friend's name. So Epaphroditus "gambled" with his life, but won, because God was with him! And even had he "lost" his life, he would still have "won"! "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mat 16:24-26).

TO MAKE UP FOR THE HELP YOU COULD NOT GIVE ME: "To complete your service to me" (RSV). Cp idea in Col 1:24. No intended slight agst the Philippians. Rather, Epaphroditus was their agent, to do for Paul what they could not do because of distance (Phi 4:10,11; cp 1Co 16:17).

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