The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Philippians 1:18-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 4, 2016

Php 1:18 But what then? So that by all means, whether by occasion or by truth, Christ be preached: in this also I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

What are their motives and intention to me? Provided Christ is in any way announced, and his true doctrine preached, whatever may be their intention, whether they act from corrupt motives and under the pretext of piety, or from the pure and true motive of charity, I rejoice and will always rejoice at the fact.

He is not concerned about the intention with which they preached; he rejoices at the success that attends them; the fact of their preaching, without minding their intention makes him rejoice. From this it appears that these preachers, whose motives were corrupt, were not either Simonians, or Judaizantes, or heretics of any other class; because, surely, the Apostle would not rejoice at the preaching of Christ by heretics; since they would only involve the Pagans in a worse and more dangerous kind of infidelity, viz., Heresy. He speaks of orthodox teachers, who preached from corrupt motives.

Php 1:19 For I know that this shall fall out to me unto salvation, through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

For, whatever may be their motives, I know that all this will contribute to my salvation, through the assistance of your prayers, and the abundance of the grace of the Holy Ghost, which you will obtain for me.

“Through your prayer.” In this, he tacitly calls for the assistance of their prayers.

Php 1:20 According to my expectation and hope; that in nothing I shall be confounded: but with all confidence, as always, so now also, shall Christ be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.

It will contribute to my salvation, conformably to my ardent expectation and firm hope; that in nothing that may happen, shall I be confounded or frustrated in my hope of advancing the cause of Christ; so that by preaching the gospel intrepidly and fearlessly now, as well as hitherto, Christ will be magnified and glorified in my body, whether I be permitted to live, or be put to death, for his sake.

“According to my expectation.” The Greek word, αποκαραδοκιαν, means, ardent expectation. These words are to be connected with the words “shall fall out to me unto salvation” (as in Paraphrase). “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death; in the former case, by labouring to convert souls; in the latter, by furnishing the most distinguished testimony of the truth of the gospel, sealing it with his blood.”

Php 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ: and to die is gain.

For if I live, my life will be for Christ, and will be devoted to his service; and my death will be to me gain, by uniting me immediately with Christ, and freeing me from the miseries of this life.

The interpretation in the Paraphrase connects this verse with the words of verse 19, “shall fall out to my salvation,” and this connexion accords better with what follows.

Others connect it with the last words of the preceding verse—“by life or by death,” which latter words, according to them, are explained in this verse—“for, whether I live or die, Christ is my gain;” i.e., my life and death will gain for Christ. If I live, by converting souls; if I die, by bearing testimony to his truth. These transpose the words thus—“Christ to me both to live and to die (i.e., by living and dying), is gain,” or is a gainer both by my life and death.

Php 1:22 And if to live in the flesh: this is to me the fruit of labour. And what I shall choose I know not.

But, if to live in this mortal body be attended with fruit for the glory of Christ, resulting from my laborious exertions in his service, and (if to die be immediate gain to myself) I am perplexed what choice to make, whether to live or die.

“And what I shall choose I know not.” The particle “and” has caused some difficulty in the construction of this verse. It more probably is joined to a second member of the sentence, which in his doubt and perplexity is not expressed by the Apostle, and may be easily inferred from the preceding verse, “and (if to die is gain for me,”) I am perplexed what choice to make. St. Chrysostom is of opinion that the Apostle had it in his power either to continue in life for the salvation of souls, or to die in order to enjoy Christ; but, that he prefers the former. What an example for those charged with the care of souls! Woe to them, if seeking their own ease, their own gain in everything, they are indifferent to the salvation of those committed to them! It is recorded of St. Ignatius, the founder of the great society of the Jesuits, that were certain salvation offered to him, he would still prefer to remain on earth, uncertain of salvation, to labour for souls.

Php 1:23 But I am straitened between two: having a desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, a thing by far the better.

I am constrained on two sides. I wish, on the one hand, to have the union between my soul and body dissolved, and be with Christ, which in itself is incomparably the better choice.

“Having a desire to be dissolved,” i.e., the union between soul and body to be dissolved, this union being the only obstacle to being with Christ. This dissolution has been desired by many of the Saints, and it is desirable; because, it frees us from grief, sin, and dangers, says St. Bernard. This passage furnishes a satisfactory proof that the souls of the saints, who depart this life without sin, are instantly admitted to bliss before the general resurrection; otherwise, the Apostle’s earnest wish “to be dissolved and be with Christ,” i.e., to enjoy Christ and the Beatific Vision of God, the principle of heavenly bliss, would be unmeaning.

Php 1:24 But to abide still in the flesh is needful for you.

But it is necessary, on the other, for your salvation that I should live and continue in this mortal body.

He feels that his continuance in life is necessary for the good of the Philippians, and all the faithful.

Php 1:25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all, for your furtherance and joy of faith:

And firmly persuaded of the fact that I am necessary for you, I feel morally certain, and I firmly trust and hope, that I shall remain, and that for a long time with you, for your spiritual advancement, and to procure for you that holy joy which can come from faith alone.

And hence he resolves his doubt, and determines on remaining for the good of souls. This he judges preferable to the immediate enjoyment of Christ.

“And having this confidence,” i.e., firmly persuaded that I am necessary for you. “I know.” This word expresses only a morally certain conviction.

Php 1:26 That your rejoicing may abound in Christ Jesus for me, by my coming to you again.

So that by my arrival amongst you again, you may have more ample matter for congratulating yourselves and glorying at my restoration to you in Christ Jesus, who will have liberated and preserved me for your sakes.

Php 1:27 Only let your conversation be worthy of the gospel of Christ: that, whether I come and see you, or, being absent, may hear of you, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind labouring together for the faith of the gospel.

This only attend to, that your lives be in accordance with the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come to see you or not, I may hear of your perseverance in one spirit of concord, and of your labouring with one mind to advance the faith of the gospel.

Php 1:28 And in nothing be ye terrified by the adversaries: which to them is a cause of perdition, but to you of salvation, and this from God.

And, that I may also hear, that you are no way terrified or shaken by the persecution and opposition of the enemies of our faith, which opposition will cause their damnation, and will be the occasion of your salvation, according to the holy disposition of God.


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