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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Philippians 1:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 23, 2018

Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.


The Apostle commences this Epistle with the usual form of salutation (1, 2). He next declares his affection for the Philippians, which he shows, by thanking God for the gift of beneficent generosity, conferred on them, towards the ministry of the Gospel (3–8); and by fervently begging of Him to grant them an increase of knowledge and charity, and also to enable them to persevere in the performance of good works (8–12). And as the Philippians sent Epaphroditus for the purpose of knowing how matters fared with the Apostle in prison, and also the effect of his imprisonment on the cause of the Gospel, he informs them, that his imprisonment rather served the cause of the Gospel than otherwise; since it had the effect of making the Gospel more extensively known (13), and of inspiring others with greater courage in preaching it (14). And although, in the preaching of it, some might be actuated by unworthy motives, still, he is delighted to find that, be their motives what they may, the truth of the Gospel is preached (12–20).

He is indifferent about what may befall himself, provided in every contingency the glory of Christ be promoted. He cares not whether he die or live; as, in either case Christ will be glorified (20, 21). He is perplexed which course to adopt, whether to die, and enjoy Christ, or remain longer in life, to promote the good of others. As, however, his continuance in life is useful to the Philippians and all Christians, he resolves his doubt, and determines to continue in life, and to visit the Philippians (20–26). He exhorts them to steadfast co-operation in the cause of the Gospel, and to patience under the persecutions they may have to endure (26–28). He tells them it is a great gift from God to be accounted worthy of suffering for Christ’s sake.

Php 1:1 Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ: to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.

Paul and Timothy, servants of Jesus Christ, (salute) all the faithful of Philippi, who are sanctified through the merits of Jesus Christ, and incorporated, with him in baptism, as also the Bishops and Deacons.

“Paul and Timothy.” He adds “Timothy” in the salutation, because he was greatly beloved by the Philippians. “Servants of Jesus Christ.” He refers to the special engagement in the duties of preaching the Gospel. And he uses “servants” in preference to Apostles, because the former was a title common to himself with Timothy; and, moreover, his Apostleship was never questioned by the Philippians, so that there was no necessity for asserting it.

“To the Bishops and Deacons.” It may be asked, what is become of the “Priests” Some Interpreters join the words “Bishops and Deacons” with the words “Paul and Timothy”—thus, “Paul and Timothy with the Bishops and Deacons” (who are at Rome) “salute all the saints who are at Philippi.” This, however, is commonly rejected as a very forced and unnatural construction. Hence, others reply to the question thus:—They say the word “Bishops” includes the clergy of the second order, and means both Priests and Bishops; for the same office of watching over the spiritual interests of their flocks (which the word, επισκοπος, or “bishop,” implies) was exercised by Priests of the second, as well as by those of the first order. And they have many duties in common, such as absolving from sin, offering sacrifice, &c. In the infancy of the Church, Bishops and Priests observed no distinction in the discharge of ecclesiastical functions—(those of course, excepted, that exclusively belong to Bishops)—until, in consequence of the insolent demands of some of the Priests, the Bishops, “in order,” as we are told by St. Jerome (Commentar. in Titum, and Ep. ad Evagrium), “to remedy schism,” were forced to assert the superiority which, faith tells us (Council. Trid. SS. 23, Can. vii.) they possess over the clergy of the second order. According, then, to these Expositors of SS. Scripture, under the word “Bishops” are included Priests, as under “Deacons” are included, Subdeacons.

Some Expositors of Scriptures understand the word “Bishops,” of the Priests of the second order exclusively.—(See Beelen in hunc locum, and Acts, 20:17–29). These maintain that in the New Testament, the words episcopus and presbyter were indiscriminately employed to designate the clergy of the second order, while in the Apostolic age, they were called Apostoli, not only who were proximately sent by God, as in the case of the twelve, but those also who were proximately instituted by man, and vested with the Episcopal character.

Others, taking the word “Bishops” in its ordinary ecclesiastical acceptation, understand it of the clergy of the first order only; and, although in conformity with the discipline of the Church, and the Apostolical canons, there could be only one Bishop at Philippi; still, as this Epistle was intended as a circular for the neighbouring Churches, it is most likely, the Apostle includes the Bishops of these places. The omission of the Priests may be easily accounted for on the ground, that the Bishop alone, aided by the Deacons, in consequence of the paucity of the faithful in these Churches, performed all the requisite priestly functions. St. Gregory Thaumaturgus had only seventeen souls under his charge when he entered on his Episcopal office—(See 1 Tim. 3:8, 9; Titus, 1:6). The Apostle places Bishops and Deacons last among those whom he salutes. Although included in the entire Church, which he addressed in the first instance, he now, by way of special honour, addresses them in particular—(See 1 Tim. 3:8).

Php 1:2 Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

May you enjoy the abundance of all spiritual gifts, together with their undisturbed enjoyment, from their efficient cause, God the Father, and their meritorious cause, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Php 1:3 I give thanks to my God in every remembrance of you:
I always return thanks to God, whenever the remembrance of you occurs to my mind.
Php 1:4 Always in all my prayers making supplication for you all with joy:
And in all my prayers I always pray to God for you with joy.

The Apostle thanks God for the graces they received and the good works they performed from the very beginning of their conversion, and prays for their perseverance unto the end; for, “he that shall persevere unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Some Interpreters include verse, 4, in a parenthesis, and connect verse, 3, with the following verse, 5. Others give the passage a continuous meaning, thus:—I give thanks to God as often as the recollection of you occurs to my mind, and that happens always in my prayers. “Making supplication for you all with joy.” These latter words, which form a portion of verse 4, are, according to them, nothing more than a repetition of the former verse, as if he said, with thanksgiving praying to God; for the subject of his joy and thanksgiving was the same—viz., their charity and generosity, referred to in next verse.

Php 1:5 For your communication in the gospel of Christ, from the first day unto now.

On account of the pecuniary aid which you have generously furnished towards the propagation of the gospel of Christ, and that, not on one occasion merely, but constantly, from the very first day of your conversion to the faith.

“Communication” refers to the pecuniary aid which they sent him. This is the usual meaning of the corresponding Greek word, κοινωνιᾳ, in the Epistles of St. Paul—viz., 4:14, of this Epistle; Rom. 12:13; Hebrews, 13:16; Gal. 6:6. Again, if we compare this phrase with chapter 4 verse 15, where this signification of the word is more clearly expressed, the same will appear. Moreover, one of the objects of this Epistle was to thank the Philippians for their generosity. “In the gospel of Christ.” The Greek reading omits, Christ.

Php 1:6  Being confident of this very thing: that he who hath begun a good work in you will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.

Firmly trusting and feeling a moral persuasion that God will perfect the good work which he hath begun in you unto the day of judgment, when the Judge, JESUS CHRIST, will reward you according to your works.

“Being confident;” πεποἰθὼς, expresses only a hope and moral certainty. The word does not by any means imply, that St. Paul believed, as a matter of faith, that all the faithful at Philippi would persevere. He says, “who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it,” rather than, you who began will perfect it, to commend the efficacy of divine grace, to which our salvation from beginning to end is principally to be ascribed. The “good work” refers to the good work of contributing to the support of the ministers of the gospel; or, it may refer to a good life in general. “The day of Christ Jesus,” refers to the Day of Judgment, whether particular, when every one will be rewarded according to his works; or general, when the sentence passed at the particular will be solemnly ratified; the Apostle wishes us to keep this continually in mind, the better to prepare for it.

Php 1:7  As it is meet for me to think this for you all, for that I have you in my heart; and that, in my bands and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my joy.

It is but just for me to entertain this firm hope and confidence that you will receive from God the gift of perseverance; because I love you most tenderly, and you are always present to my mind, as sharers in the joy which I feel and the grace which I possess in my chains, and in the defence of myself and confirmation of the truth of the gospel.

He states the grounds of his confident hope of their receiving the gift of perseverance. He ardently wishes for it on account of his great affection for them. “He has them in his heart,” and constantly before his mind, and he keeps always in mind, that they are partners of his joy, &c. “In the defence,” may also refer to the defence of the gospel. The sense amounts to the same, since the reasons adducible by him in his own defence and apology, would serve to defend and confirm the gospel.

“Of my joy.” The Greek is, of my grace. The similarity of both words in the Greek, χάριτος and χαρας, would account for the mistake; both come, however, to the same; since, it was a source of “joy” for them to suffer for Christ, and “a grace” to be able to do so (verse 29). (Both meanings are united in the Paraphrase). Some Interpreters join the words, “in my bands,” with the preceding. It is better, however, place the words, “partakers of my joy,” between them (as in Paraphrase).

Php 1:8  For God is my witness how I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

For, I call God to witness the tender and deep love which I entertain for you, a love similar to that with which Jesus Christ has loved you.

He explains the word, “I have you in my heart.” “In the bowels of Jesus Christ,” may also mean that his love for them is not a carnal, but a pure Christian love. They express the excess of the Apostle’s love for his spiritual children. His own heart being incapable of loving them with the fulness and intensity he would wish, he recurs to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ, and enters it. In the tepidity of our love for God and our neighbour, let us unite our love to that of Jesus Christ, and offer it to God in union with the ardent, pure love of JESUS.

Php 1:9  And this I pray: That your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all understanding:

And this I beg of God—viz., that your charity may daily more and more increase, according to the rules of Christian knowledge and discernment.

“In knowledge and all understanding.” These qualities are requisite, lest, through the indiscriminate exercise of charity towards the teachers of error, as well as towards the Apostles of truth, their charity would be injurious, and cease to be virtuous.

Php 1:10  That you may approve the better things: that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ:

That you may be able to choose and discern what is better and more useful, and may be free from the admixture of false doctrines, and persevere in a blameless course until the coming of Christ to judgment;

“That you may approve,” &c. So as to be able to discern the true gospel from false teaching, and promote the former, and thus be preserved from the leaven of the latter. “Sincere,” may also mean, free from all sin in the sight of God, and “without offence” before men. “The day of Christ,” virtually commences at death, when the particular judgment takes place, of which the general will only be a solemn and public ratification.

Php 1:11  Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Abounding in good works, which both confer and preserve justice and sanctification, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

“Fruit.” In Greek, fruits. The Vulgate reading is, however, supported by the best Manuscripts and Versions. “Justice” may also mean, eleemosynary good works, as in the gospel of St. Matthew (c. 5).

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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Philippians 2:1-4

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 5, 2017

But Paul does not so; he calls to our remembrance no carnal, but all of them spiritual benefits. That is, if ye wish to give me any comfort in my temptations, and encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if ye wish to show any communion in the Spirit, if ye have any tender mercies and compassions, fulfil ye my joy. “If any tender mercies and compassions.” Paul speaks of the concord of his disciples as compassion towards himself, thus showing that the danger was extreme, if they were not of one mind. If I can obtain comfort from you, if I can obtain any consolation from our love, if I can communicate with you in the Spirit, if I can have fellowship with you in the Lord, if I can find mercy and compassion at your hands, show by your love the return of all this. All this have I gained, if ye love one another.

Ver. 2. “Fulfil ye my joy.”

That the exhortation might not seem to be made to people who were still deficient, see how he says not, “do me joy,” but “fulfil my joy”; that is, Ye have begun to plant it in me, ye have already given me some portion of peacefulness, but I desire to arrive at its fulness? Say, what wouldest thou? that we deliver thee from dangers? that we supply somewhat to thy need? Not so, but “that ye be of the same mind, having the same love,” in which ye have begun, “being of one accord, of one mind.” Just see, how often he repeats the same thing by reason of his great affection! “That ye be of the same mind,” or rather, “that ye be of one mind.” For this is more than “the same.”

“Having the same love.” That is, let it not be simply about faith alone, but also in all other things; for there is such a thing as to be of the same mind, and yet not to have love. “Having the same love,” that is, love and be loved alike; do not thou enjoy much love, and show less love, so as to be covetous even in this matter; but do not suffer it in thyself. “Of one accord,” he adds, that is, appropriating with one soul, the bodies of all, not in substance, for that is impossible, but in purpose and intention. Let all things proceed as from one soul. What means “of one accord”? He shows when he says “of one mind.” Let your mind be one, as if from one soul.

Ver. 3. “Doing nothing through faction.”

He finally demands this of them, and tells1 them the way how this may be. “Doing nothing through faction or vainglory.” This, as I always say, is the cause of all evil. Hence come fightings and contentions. Hence come envyings and strifes. Hence it is that love waxes cold, when we love the praise of men, when we are slaves to the honor which is paid by the many, for it is not possible for a man to be the slave of praise, and also a true servant of God. How then shall we flee vainglory? for thou hast not yet told us the way. Listen then to what follows.

“But in lowliness of mind, each counting other better than himself.” Oh how full of true wisdom, how universal a gathering-word2 of our salvation is the lesson he has put forth! If thou deemest, he means, that another is greater than thyself, and persuadest thyself so, yea more, if thou not only sayest it, but art fully assured of it, then thou assignest him the honor, and if thou assignest him the honor, thou wilt not be displeased at seeing him honored by another. Do not then think him simply greater than thyself, but “better,” which is a very great superiority, and thou dost not think it strange nor be pained thereby, if thou seest him honored. Yea, though he treat thee with scorn, thou dost bear it nobly, for thou hast esteemed him greater than thyself. Though he revile thee, thou dost submit. Though he treat thee ill, thou bearest it in silence. For when once the soul is fully assured that he is greater, it falls not into anger when it is ill-treated by him, nor yet into envy, for no one would envy those who are very far above himself, for all things belong to his superiority.

Here then he instructs the one party to be thus minded. But when he too, who enjoys such honor from thee, is thus affected toward thee, consider what a double wall there is erected of gentle forbearance [comp. Phil. 4:5]; for when thou esteemest him thus worthy of honor, and he thee likewise, no painful thing can possibly arise; for if this conduct when shown by one is sufficient to destroy all strife, who shall break down the safeguard, when it is shown by both? Not even the Devil himself. The defense is threefold, and fourfold, yea manifold, for humanity is the cause of all good; and that you may learn this, listen to the prophet, saying, “Hadst thou desired sacrifice, I would have given it: Thou wilt not delight in burnt offerings. The sacrifice for God is a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart God will not despise.”1 (Ps. 51:16, 17.) Not simply humility, but intense humility. As in the case of bodily substances, that which is “broken” will not rise against that which is “solid,” but, how many ills soever it may suffer, will perish itself rather than attack the other, so too the soul, even if constantly suffering ill, will choose rather to die, than to avenge itself by attack.

How long shall we be puffed up thus ridiculously? For as we laugh, when we see children drawing themselves up, and looking haughty, or when we see them picking up stones and throwing them, thus too the haughtiness2 of men belongs to a puerile intellect, and an unformed mind. “Why are earth and ashes proud?” (Ecclus. 10:9.) Art thou highminded, O man? and why? tell me what is the gain? Whence art thou highminded against those of thine own kind? Dost not thou share the same nature? the same life? Hast not thou received like honor from God? But thou art wise? Thou oughtest to be thankful, not to be puffed up. Haughtiness is the first act of ingratitude, for it denies3 the gift of grace. He that is puffed up, is puffed up as if he had excelled by his own strength, and he who thinks he has thus excelled is ungrateful toward Him who bestowed that honor. Hast thou any good? Be thankful to Him who gave it. Listen to what Joseph said, and what Daniel. For when the king of Egypt sent for him, and in the presence of all his host asked him concerning that matter in which the Egyptians, who were most learned in these things, had forsaken the field, when he was on the point of carrying off everything from them, and of appearing wiser than the astrologers, the enchanters, the magicians, and all the wise men of those times, and that from captivity and servitude, and he but a youth (and his glory was thus greater, for it is not the same thing to shine when known, and contrary to expectation, so that its being unlooked for rendered him the more admirable); what then, when he came before Pharaoh? Was it “Yea, I know”? But what? When no one urged it on him, he said from his own excellent spirit, “Do not interpretations belong to God?”4 Behold he straightway glorified his Master, therefore he was glorified. And this also is no small thing. For that God had revealed it to him was a far greater thing than if he had himself excelled. For he showed that his words were worthy of credit, and it was a very great proof of his intimacy with God. There is no one thing so good as to be the intimate friend of God. “For if,” says the Scripture, “he [Abraham] was justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not toward God.” (Rom. 4:2.) For if he who has been vouchsafed grace maketh his boast in God, that he is loved of Him, because his sins are forgiven, he too that worketh hath whereof to boast, but not before God, as the other (for it5 is a proof of our excessive weakness); he who has received wisdom of God, how much more admirable is he? He glorifies God and is glorified of Him, for He says, “Them that honor Me, I will honor.” (1 Sam. 2:30.)

Again, listen to him who descended from Joseph, than whom no one was wiser. “Art thou wiser,”6 says he, “than Daniel?” (Ezek. 28:3.) This Daniel then, when all the wise men that were in Babylon, and the astrologers moreover, the prophets, the magicians, the enchanters, yea when the whole of their wisdom was not only coming to be convicted, but to be wholly destroyed (for their being destroyed was a clear proof that they had deceived before), this Daniel coming forward, and preparing to solve the king’s question, does not take the honor to himself, but first ascribes the whole to God, and says, “But as for me, O king, it is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have beyond all men.” (Dan. 2:30.) And “the king worshiped him, and commanded that they should offer an oblation.” (Dan. 2:46.) Seest thou his humility? seest thou his excellent spirit? seest thou this habit of lowliness? Listen also to the Apostles, saying at one time, “Why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man to walk? (Acts 3:12.) And again, “We are men of like passions with you.” (Acts 14:15.) Now if they thus refused the honors paid them, men who by reason of the humility and power of Christ wrought greater deeds than Christ (for He says, “He that believeth in Me shall do greater works than those that I do” (John 14:12, abr.)), shall not we wretched and miserable men do so, who cannot even beat away gnats,1 much less devils? who have not power to benefit a single man, much less the whole world, and yet think so much of ourselves that the Devil himself is not like us?

There is nothing so foreign to a Christian soul as haughtiness. Haughtiness, I say, not boldness nor courage, for these are congenial. But these are one thing, and that another; so too humility is one thing, and meanness, flattery, and adulation another.

I will now, if you wish, give you examples of all these qualities. For these things which are contraries, seem in some way to be placed near together, as the tares to the wheat, and the thorns to the rose. But while babes might easily be deceived, they who are men in truth, and are skilled in spiritual husbandry, know how to separate what is really good from the bad. Let me then lay before you examples of these qualities from the Scriptures. What is flattery, and meanness, and adulation? Ziba flattered2 David out of season, and falsely slandered his master. (2 Sam. 16:1–3.) Much more did Ahitophel flatter Absalom. (2 Sam. 17:1–4.) But David was not so, but he was humble. For the deceitful are flatterers, as when they say, “O king, live for ever.” (Dan. 2:4.) Again, what flatterers the magicians are.

We shall find much to exemplify this in the case of Paul in the Acts. When he disputed with the Jews he did not flatter them, but was humble-minded (for he knew how to speak boldly), as when he says, “I, brethren, though I had done nothing against the people, or the customs of our fathers, yet was delivered prisoner from Jerusalem.” (Acts 28:17.)

That these were the words of humility, listen how he rebukes them in what follows, “Well spake the Holy Ghost, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in nowise understand, and seeing ye shall see, and in nowise perceive.” (Acts 28:25; ib. 26.)

Seest thou his courage? Behold also the courage of John the Baptist, which he used before Herod; when he said, “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother Philip’s wife.” (Mark 6:18) This was boldness, this was courage. Not so the words of Shimei, when he said, “Begone, thou man of blood” (2 Sam. 16:7), and yet he too spake with boldness; but this is not courage, but audacity, and insolence, and an unbridled tongue. Jezebel too reproached Jehu, when she said, “The slayer of his master” (2 Kings 9:31), but this was audacity, not boldness. Elias too reproached, but this was boldness and courage; “I do not trouble Israel, but thou and thy father’s house.” (1 Kings 18:18.) Again, Elias spake with boldness to the whole people, saying, “How long will ye go lame on both your thighs?” (1 Kings 18:21, LXX.) Thus to rebuke was boldness and courage. This too the prophets did, but that other was audacity.

Would you see words both of humility and not of flattery,3 listen to Paul, saying, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment; yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing against myself, yet am I not hereby justified.” (1 Cor. 4:3, 4.) This is of a spirit that becomes a Christian; and again, “Dare any of you, having a matter against his neighbor, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints”? (1 Cor. 6:1.)

Would you see the flattery of the foolish Jews? listen to them, saying, “We have no king but Cæsar.” (John 19:15.) Would you see humility? listen to Paul again, when he says, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Cor. 4:5.) Would you see both flattery and audacity? “Audacity” (1 Sam. 25:10) in the case of Nabal, and “flattery” (1 Sam. 23:20.) in that of the Ziphites? For in their purpose they betrayed David. Would you see “wisdom” (1 Sam. 26:5–12) and not flattery, that of David, how he got Saul into his power, and yet spared him? Would you see the flattery of those who murdered Mephibosheth,1 whom also David slew? In fine, and as it were in outline, to sum up all, audacity is shown when one is enraged, and insults another for no just cause, either to avenge himself, or in some unjust way is audacious; but boldness and courage are when we dare to face perils and deaths, and despise friendships and enmities for the sake of what is pleasing to God. Again, flattery and meanness are when one courts another not for any right end, but hunting after some of the things of this life; but humility, when one does this for the sake of things pleasing to God, and descends from his own proper station that he may perform something great and admirable. If we know these things, happy are we if we do them. For to know them is not enough. For Scripture says, “Not the hearers of a law, but the doers of a law shall be justified.” (Rom. 2:13.) Yea, knowledge itself condemneth, when it is without action and deeds of virtue. Wherefore that we may escape the condemnation, let us follow after the practice, that we may obtain those good things that are promised to us, by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Philippians 2:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 5, 2017

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of Philippians chapter 2, followed by his commentary on verses 1-11. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the text he is commenting on.

In this chapter, the Apostle fervently exhorts the Philippians to the exercise of mutual concord, fraternal charity, and humility, both interior and exterior (1–4). And in order to urge them the more to practise both humility and charity, he proposes the example of Christ, who, although he was God, possessing the divine essence, still, for love of us, took upon himself the form of a slave; nay, humbled himself to the death of the cross; in reward of which humiliation, God exalted him in this assumed nature above all other creatures (4–11). He exhorts them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, and by the splendour of their virtues, to shine forth, as brilliant luminaries, in the midst of Pagan darkness and infidelity. Should the effusion of his blood be necessary to complete the sacrifice of their sanctification, which he began in their conversion, he is ready and willing to pour forth his blood, as a libation, on their sacrifice (12–18). He promises to send them Timothy and Epaphroditus, with whose praises and commendation the remainder of the chapter is almost taken up (19–30).

Php 2:1  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of charity, if any society of the spirit, if any bowels of commiseration:

If, then, you wish to afford me, a prisoner for the faith, any spiritual consolation becoming a Christian; any solace dictated by charity; if you have any union of soul with me; any feeling of sincere, heartfelt compassion (as I am firmly persuaded you have):

“If,” far from expressing doubt, is here strongly affirmative. It is a form of obtestation not unusual with the most eminent classical writers, and means: if you wish to afford me any consolation, &c. (as I know you do). The words within the parenthesis affect each member of the sentence. The meaning of the entire verse comes to this: in the name of the duties of charity, which religion prescribes, and which I know you faithfully to discharge.

“If any society of the spirit.” In Greek, any communion of spirit, “any bowels of commiseration.” i.e., any tender feelings of interior and heartfelt compassion. “Any bowels of commiseration.” In Greek, any bowels and commiseration.

Php 2:2  Fulfil ye my joy, that you be of one mind, having the same charity, being of one accord, agreeing in sentiment.

I entreat you to complete the joy which your conversion and charitable contributions have afforded me, by agreeing in the same doctrine and feelings, by entertaining mutual charity for one another, by being of one mind and soul, having the same wishes and sentiments.

“Fulfil ye my joy,” &c. In the name of all the foregoing duties which you owe me, I entreat of you to complete my joy, by being “of one mind,” i.e., by holding the same faith, and entertaining the same feelings and wishes. This is more clearly expressed in the following—“agreeing in sentiment.” This member of the sentence differs from the first, “be of one mind,” in this respect only, that it is a stronger expression of concord and harmony, as appears from the Greek, το ἒν φρονουντες.

Php 2:3  Let nothing be done through contention: neither by vain glory. But in humility, let each esteem others better than themselves:

Do nothing from a spirit of contradiction, or of ambitious affectation of superiority; but through the spirit of humility, let each one esteem his neighbour better than himself.

“Let each esteem others better than themselves.” How can men do this, in all cases, consistently with truth? According to some, in this way; because no matter how grievous the crime of our neighbour, although you may be conscious to yourself of nothing, there may be still some unknown spiritual sin, which may render you more disagreeable in God’s sight than he is, and may be the source of your damnation. Again, we may say with truth, that if our neighbour, no matter how great a sinner, received the graces conferred on us, he might be better than we; and if we were in his circumstances, with only the same graces he had, we might have done worse. Again, St. Thomas and others say, we can regard our neighbour as better than ourselves, by looking to ourselves, without regarding the graces and gifts we have from God, and looking only to the gifts of others, in which sense, he explains the following verse. At all events, what is here inculcated is a practical exhibition of humility, by honouring all as our betters, which may be done in the exercise of true humility, although, in point of fact, we might chance to be better than they.

Php 2:4  Each one not considering the things that are his own, but those that are other men’s.

Let no one selfishly seek his own advantages merely; but let him rather consult for the interests of others.

According to the exposition in the Paraphrase, the Apostle censures that spirit of selfishness, which is the greatest obstacle to fraternal charity, and the source of dissensions. Others interpret the verse, thus—not looking to the gifts we have, but to those which others have, which is a great means of exercising true humility. Commentators here remark that St. Paul prescribes its proper remedy for each of the four causes of dissension. To an excessive desire of maintaining our own opinion, he opposes, submission of our own judgment, “agreeing in sentiment;” secondly, to vain glory—contempt for glory; to the third cause—a desire of domineering—humility of heart, “but in humility,” &c.; to the fourth source of discord, undue selfishness—a disregard for self interests, “but those that are of other men.”

Php 2:5  For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Let the same feeling be cherished by you for one another that was entertained by Christ Jesus:

In order to excite them to the exercise of the last-mentioned dispositions of humility and disinterestedness, he adduces the example of Christ. Pride being the greatest obstacle to fraternal charity; he, therefore, inculcates humility, as the most efficacious means of promoting and preserving it.

Php 2:6  Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Who, pre-existing in the form of God, possessing the divine nature, and essence, and attributes, did not still tenaciously retain this equality with God, as is done by those who unexpectedly obtain some booty or emolument.

Who being in form of God, i.e., having the real essence and nature of God”. The Greek word for “form,” μορφῆ, has been interpreted by the Holy Fathers to denote, the Divine Nature, the perfect equality of the Son with the Father, the Divine Majesty, the image of God the Father. “Thought is not robbery to be equal to God.” The interpretation of these words, found in the commentary of Theodore Beelen, seems the most probable, the only one which accords best with the context. According to him, the words convey a proverbial meaning, and have reference to those who tenaciously keep and grasp whatever emolument or prize they may unexpectedly fall in with. So, the words here mean, in regard to Christ, that he did not with eager tenacity retain the external form and equality with God the Father, which he possessed; but, by taking on himself human nature and the appearance of man, veiled his Divine glory and Majesty; thus humbling himself, which is a powerful motive for humiliation on our part. The Greek word “for robbery,” ἁρπαγμον, favours this interpretation. It means, not the act of rapine, but the thing itself eagerly seized on, and tenaciously retained. Nouns ending in, μος, sometimes bear this meaning. Independently of the context, inculcating humility, the antithesis “but debased himself,” shows this to be the true interpretation.

Php 2:7  But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.

But, far from this; by taking upon him the form of a slave, he voluntary debased himself, having become like a man, by becoming really and in nature such, and in external appearance and habits of life found as a man.

Christ debased himself, because, without undergoing any change whatever in his nature or attributes, which are immutable and essential, he put on externally human nature, which was to the eyes of men an annihilation of himself. The phrase, “and in habit found as a man,” by no means implies that he was not really a man; because, “as,” as it were, and other adverbs of similitude, are found to express reality, “as it were, of the only begotten of the Father.”—(Gospel St. John, 1:14). Christ was like a man. Who can be so like a man, as another man? “In habit,” in his external actions and manner of life he “was found” to act and live like other men. The example of Christ not greedily grasping and retaining his equality with God, which he had before the world began, but rather externally divesting himself of it, is a powerful motive for us to exercise humility. Hence, this interpretation accords best with the context.

Php 2:8  He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.

Nay, he humbled himself still more, having become obedient unto death—and that a death of no ordinary kind—but the ignominious death of the cross, the instrument of torture for malefactors and slaves.

What a prodigy of humility! A God, eternal and omnipotent, expiring on an ignominious gibbet! What intense charity, prodigious disinterestedness—the Creator submitting to death for the sake of the creature! From this example of Christ, concealing his divinity, a lesson of humility is inculcated not to glory in the gifts of nature, grace or fortune, the ordinary incentives to pride.

Php 2:9  For which cause, God also hath exalted him and hath given him a name which is above all names:

In reward for this humiliation God exalted him by raising him from the dead, and placing him at his right hand above all creatures, and gave him a name, which is above all names.

“Exalted.” In Greek, superexalted. The Apostle refers to this as an incentive to stimulate the Philippians to acts of humiliation in hopes of like exaltation with Christ. “And gave him a name.” By “name,” is understood the name of “God,” or “Son of God,” as made known after his Resurrection and Ascension, under which name and character God made his Son to be adored and acknowledged by all nations. This name is said to be given him after his death and humiliation; because, then it was that it was publicly made known regarding him. Others understood it of the fame of his Divinity, which comes to the same with the former interpretation. Others, again, understood it of the Adorable Name of Jesus, which although given from his conception, was still given in consideration of the future redemption effected by his passion and death.

Php 2:10  That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:

So that the person expressed by the name of Jesus being recognised throughout creation as the Son of God, should receive the homage and adoration of creatures, whether in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, in hell, or purgatory.

“In the name of Jesus.” “Name,” is used for the person expressed by it. The words, “every knee would bend,” express adoration of the divine Person of Jesus. “And under the earth,” whether in purgatory or hell; the damned adoring him from co-action, and the others, voluntarily. The word “Jesus” is taken not for the sound expressed, but for the person whom it designates. The usage of the Church, as appears from the words of Gregory the Great, has sanctioned a relative worship to be paid to the very name of Jesus, ad nomen Jesu omnes flectent genua cordis sui, quod vel capitis inclinatione testentur. The Council of Lyons, as Navarre relates, commanded all to bow the head at the name of Jesus, and Catharinus cites a decree of a Roman Pontiff to the same effect. As to the etymology of the word “Jesus;” it is derived from the Hebrew root, jascha, i.e., he has saved. Hence the word Jeschua, Latin, “Jesus,” i.e., Saviour. It is the proper name of the Word Incarnate, and is said by many to be superior to the name of God, as superadding the idea of ransom and redemption, in which that of Creator is implied; whereas, the name of God conveys the idea of Creator alone, without that of Saviour.

Php 2:11  And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father. 

And every tongue, whether in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, should confess, that the Lord Jesus Christ possesses glory equal to that of God the Father.

“And every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus,” &c., which some interpret thus, and every tongue should confess that our Lord Jesus Christ is unto the glory, &c., i.e., that Jesus Christ is supreme Lord unto the glory of God the Father; because, the exaltation of the Son confers glory on the Father. This interpretation is conformable to the Greek. St. Bernard found no pleasure in any writings that were not seasoned with this sweet name of Jesus. How often do we not hear this sacred name blasphemously invoked in the most shocking imprecations, without feeling the slightest emotion!

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 4, 2016

This post includes a brief summary of the body of the epistle (Phil 1:12-4:9) along with a summary of its first major section (Phil 1:12-26). The commentary on today’s reading then follows.

A Summary of Philippians 1:12-4:9.

The Apostle explains his personal situation and the progress of the Gospel in the Eternal City, in spite of rivalry and opposition (Phil 1:12-26) ; and then, as if in response to news received, he goes on to exhort his readers to be true to their calling in doing and suffering for the sake of the Gospel, stressing the need of unity and humility (Phil 1:27—2:4). In the practice of humility and in bearing their sufferings they have the supreme example of Christ Himself, who thus merited His exaltation to supreme Lordship (Phil 2:5-11). It is therefore Christ that they should copy; and in so doing they will reflect glory on their Apostle who has not labored in vain and who is willing to die in their behalf (Phil 2:12-18). He is sending to them at once Epaphroditus, Timothy will follow soon, and shortly he hopes to come himself (Phil 2:19-30). Beginning his final injunctions (Phil 3:1), he digresses to warn against Judaizers, citing his own career (Phil 3:2-16), and against pagan self-indulgence and a spirit of worldliness among Christians (Phil 3:17-21). Some final exhortations close the body of the letter (Phil 4:1-9). See Introduction, No. VI, B.

A Summary of Philippians 1:12-26

It seems the Philippians had made known to Paul their anxiety regarding the welfare of the Gospel, as a result of his imprisonment; they feared the Gospel was suffering while he was enchained. But the Apostle informs them here that the contrary is the case, inasmuch as the success of his preaching in prison has excited the jealousy of other preachers and thus stimulated them to greater efforts. This is a cause of great rejoicing on his part. As for his own prospects of release, he is confident that all will turn out for the best. Personally he is torn between the alternatives of dying and being with Christ, on the one hand, and living for the sake of the Philippians, on the other hand. He seems to be confident of the latter; he will again be with them to assist them and give them joy in Christ Jesus.

Phil 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 shall rejoice;

But what then? That is, what difference does it make whether those preachers were moved by good or by bad motives in their preaching of the Gospel, so long as Christ was preached? The Apostle was not seeking his own glory, but the glory of Christ; and therefore it made little difference to him whether or not those who promoted the cause of Christ liked or disliked him personally.

By occasion, or by truth, i.e., whether the Gospel was only a secondary or the primary reason of their preaching. “Per occasionem annunciat Christum, qui non intendit hoc principahter, sed propter aliud, puta lucrum vel gloriam” (“One announces Christ in pretense when he does not chiefly aim at this but at something else, as profit or glory.” St. Thomas: Lecture on Philippians 1:18-24).

I rejoice, etc. If those opponents of the Apostle had been preaching false doctrine of any kind, he could never have rejoiced over their preaching in any sense of the word (see Gal. 1:6-9).

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

Besides the fact that Christ is being preached by Paul’s enemies, which is the primary cause of his rejoicing, the Apostle finds a secondary cause for joy, now and in the future, in the thought that his sufferings and afflictions, through the help of the prayers of the faithful and the grace of the Holy Ghost, will contribute to his eternal salvation and his greater blessedness in heaven.

It is worthy of note that, notwithstanding all his vast labors for the Gospel, St. Paul rests the hope of his salvation, not on his own merits, but on the prayers of others and the abundant supply of grace of the Holy Spirit. That “salvation” here refers to his eternal reward, and not to liberation from prison, or any lesser spiritual good along the way to heaven, is clear from the usual meaning of σωτηριαν (soterian) elsewhere (i.e., Rom. 13:11; 1Thess. 5:8; Heb. 9:28; 1 Peter 1:5).

Through your prayers. St. Paul often manifested his confidence in the power and efficacy of intercessory prayer (e.g., Rom. 15:30; 2 Cor. 1:11; 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1; Col. 4:3).

The supply. The Greek carries the idea of ample, abundant supply.

The Spirit of Jesus Christ is none other than the Holy Ghost, who proceeds equally from the Father and the Son, and who is called sometimes the Spirit of the Father and sometimes the Spirit of the Son (cf. Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6; John 14:16, 26, 15:26, etc.). Whether we are to understand here the Holy Spirit Himself or His grace, makes little difference, since the two ideas would come to the same thing. These final words are also a proof of the divinity of our Lord, the Holy Spirit being His Spirit.

Phil 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.

Through the prayers of the faithful and the grace of Christ the Apostle is ardently hoping (such is the meaning of the Greek) for eternal salvation, but on his own part he is going to see that in nothing shall he be found wanting, that he will continue in the future as in the past to preach the Gospel “with all confidence” (i.e., freely and fearlessly), so that the glory of Christ shall continue to be manifested “in my body, etc.” (i.e., by spending his body and his energies for Christ, if he lives, or by the sacrifice of his life in the cause of Christ if he is put to death). Why he will not “be confounded” (i.e., disappointed), whether he lives or dies, he explains in the following verses.

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

St. Paul had already told the Galatians: “I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). He was totally identified with Christ; Christ was the soul and centre of his life, the prime mover in all his actions, the goal and term of all his aspirations; to the Apostle “to live” was to labor for Christ and in union with Christ, and thus augment his merits for heaven, while “to die” was to be with Christ in glory and to enjoy his eternal reward.

Phil 1:22. But if to live in the flesh, this is to me the fruit of labor, and which I shall choose I know not.
Phil 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:
Phil 1:24. But to abide still in the flesh, is more needful for you.

The Apostle is confronted by the alternatives of dying and being with Christ in glory, on the one hand, and of remaining in this earthly life for a time and thus serving the interests of the Gospel and the Church, on the other hand; and he knows not which to choose, as there is great profit in either choice. So he is torn between conflicting emotions, desiring the former, knowing that it would be far better “to be dissolved” (or better, “to depart”), and thus be forever with Christ in paradise, but feeling that the Philippians need him, and that consequently he ought to remain on earth a while longer.

This is to me the fruit of labor. The Greek is concise and therefore somewhat difficult, but the meaning is clear: To continue in this life would mean to the Apostle an occasion of fruitful labor (καρπος εργου = karpos ergou) for the cause of Christ on earth.

Far the better, literally, “much more better,” a phrase indicative of St. Paul’s strong preference to die and be with Christ. From ver. 23 it is evident that the souls of the saints are admitted to the presence of God immediately after death.

The necessarium of the Vulgate (ver. 24) is a comparative in Greek, more necessary.

Phil 1:25. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith:
Phil 1:26. That your rejoicing may abound in Christ Jesus in me by my coming to you again.

And having this confidence. The Greek means that the Apostle is firmly persuaded, that he enjoys a feeling of personal certainty. But with regard to what? That he is going to live and see the Philippians again? If this is the meaning, it would seem to be out of harmony with the uncertainty expressed just above in verses 20-23, and also with what he says below in Phil 2:17. The best explanation seems to be that of St. Chrysostom and others, who say that St. Paul is speaking above about the uncertainty of life or death in his case, whereas here he is stressing the utility and profit of the event, whichever it turns out to be: if he dies, he will be with Christ in glory; if he lives, he will be a help and a source of joy to the Philippians; in any case the result will certainly be good, of this he is firmly persuaded. In this explanation verse 25 is to be understood, in the light of the whole context, as conditional. “This confidence” refers to what follows: if he continues to live, he knows that he will be of great spiritual profit to the Philippians, and will thus give joy to their faith.

In me. The meaning is that St. Paul will be the occasion of their rejoicing, all the more so because the Apostle’s adversaries have been trying to discredit him while he has been in prison.

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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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St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Philippians 3:17-4:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 26, 2014

The following post contains excerpts from two homilies by St John Chrysostom and cover his exposition of Philippians 3:17-4:1.

Ver. 17. “Brethren, be ye imitators of me, and mark them which so walk even as ye have us for an ensample.”

He had said above, “beware of dogs,” from such he had led them away; he brings them near to these whom they ought to imitate. If any one, saith he, wishes to imitate me, if any one wishes to walk the same road, let him take heed to them; though I am not present, ye know the manner of my walk, that is, my conduct in life. For not by words only did he teach, but by deeds too; as in the chorus, and the army, the rest must imitate the leader of the chorus or the army, and thus advance in good order. For it is possible that the order may be dissolved by sedition.

The Apostles therefore were a type, and kept throughout a certain archetypal model. Consider how entirely accurate their life was, so that they are proposed as an archetype and example, and as living laws. For what was said in their writings, they manifested to all in their actions. This is the best teaching; thus he will be able to carry on his disciple. But if he indeed speaks as a philosopher, yet in his actions doth the contrary, he is no longer a teacher. For mere verbal philosophy is easy even for the disciple: but there is need of that teaching and leading which comes of deeds. For this both makes the teacher to be reverenced, and prepares the disciple to yield obedience. How so? When one sees him delivering philosophy in words, he will say he commands impossibilities; that they are impossibilities, he himself is the first to show, who does not practice them. But if he sees his virtue fully carried out in action, he will no longer be able to speak thus. Yet although the life of our teacher be careless, let us take heed to ourselves, and let us listen to the words of the prophet; “They shall be all taught of God.” (Isa. 54:13.) “And they shall teach no more every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest of them.” (Jer. 31:34.) Hast thou a teacher who is not virtuous? Still thou hast Him who is truly a Teacher, whom alone thou shouldest call a Teacher. Learn from Him: He hath said, “Learn of Me, for I am meek.” (Matt. 11:29.) Take not heed, then, to thy teacher, but to Him and to His lessons. Take thence thy examples, thou hast a most excellent model, to it conform thyself. There are innumerable models laid before thee in the Scriptures of virtuous lives; whichsoever thou wilt, come, and after the Master find it in the disciples. One hath shown forth through poverty, another through riches; for example, Elijah through poverty, Abraham through riches. Go to that example, which thou esteemest most easy, most befitting thyself to practice. Again, one by marriage, the other by virginity; Abraham by marriage, the other by virginity. Follow whichever thou wilt: for both lead to heaven. One shone forth by fasting, as John, another without fasting, as Job. Again, this latter had a care for his wife, his children, his daughters, his family, and possessed great wealth; the other possessed nothing but the garment of hair. And why do I make mention of family, or wealth, or money, when it is possible that even one in a kingdom should lay hold on virtue, for the house of a king would be found more full of trouble than any private family. David then shone forth in his kingdom; the purple and the diadem rendered him not at all remiss. To another it was entrusted to preside over a whole people, I mean Moses, which was a more difficult task, for there the power was greater, whence the difficulty too became greater. Thou hast seen men approved in wealth, thou hast seen them in poverty also, thou hast seen them in marriage, thou hast seen them in virginity too; on the contrary, behold some lost in marriage and in virginity, in wealth and in poverty. For example, many men have perished in marriage, as Samson,1 yet not from marriage, but from their own deliberate choice. Likewise in virginity, as the five virgins. In wealth, as the rich man, who disregarded Lazarus: in poverty, innumerable poor men even now are lost. In a kingdom, I can point to many who have perished, and in ruling the people. Wouldest thou see men saved in the rank of a soldier? there is Cornelius; and in the government of a household? there is the eunuch of the Ethiopian Queen. Thus is it universally. If we use our wealth as is fit, nothing will destroy us; but if not, all things will destroy us, whether a kingdom, or poverty, or wealth. But nothing will have power to hurt the man, who keeps well awake.

For tell me, was captivity any harm? None at all. For consider, I pray thee, Joseph, who became a slave, and preserved his virtue. Consider Daniel, and the Three Children, who became captives, and how much the more they shone forth, for virtue shineth everywhere, is invincible, and nothing can put hindrances in its way. But why make I mention of poverty, and captivity, and slavery; and hunger, and sores, and grievous disease? For disease is, more hard to endure than slavery. Such was Lazarus, such was Job, such was also Timothy, straitened by “often infirmities.” (1 Tim. 5:23.) Thou seest that nothing can obtain the mastery over virtue; neither wealth, nor poverty, nor dominion, nor subjection, nor the preëminence in affairs, nor disease, nor contempt, nor abandonment. But having left all these things below, and upon the earth, it hastens towards Heaven. Only let the soul be noble, and nought can hinder it from being virtuous. For when he who works is in vigor, nothing external can hinder him; for as in the arts, when the artificer is experienced and persevering, and thoroughly acquainted with his art, if disease overtakes him, he still hath it; if he became poor, he still hath it; whether he hath his tools in his hand or hath them not, whether he works or worketh not, he loseth not at all his art: for the science of it is contained within him. Thus too the virtuous man, who is devoted to God, manifests his art, if you cast him into wealth, or if into poverty, if into disease, if into health, if into dishonor, if into great honor. Did not the Apostles work in every state, “By glory and dishonor, by good report and evil report”? (2 Cor. 5:8.) This is an athlete, to be prepared for everything; for such is also the nature of virtue.

If thou sayest, I am not able to preside over many, I ought to lead a solitary life; thou offerest an insult to virtue, for it can make use of every state, and shine through all: only let it be in the soul. Is there a famine? or is there abundance? It shows forth its own strength, as Paul saith, “I know how to abound, and how to be in want.” (Phil. 4:12; Acts 28:30.) Was he required to work? He was not ashamed, but wrought two years. Was hunger to be undergone? He sank not under it, nor wavered. Was death to be borne? He became not dejected, through all he exhibited his noble mind and art. Him therefore let us imitate, and we shall have no cause of grief: for tell me, what will have power to grieve such an one? Nothing. As long as no one deprives us of this art, this will be the most blessed of all men, even in this life as well as in that to come. For suppose the good man hath a wife and children, and riches, and great honor, with all these things he remaineth alike virtuous. Take them away, and again in like sort he will be virtuous, neither overwhelmed by his misfortunes, nor puffed up by prosperity, but as a rock standeth equally unmoved in the raging sea and in calm, neither broken by the waves nor influenced at all by the calm, thus too the solid mind stands firm both in calm and in storm. And as little children, when sailing in a ship, are tossed about, whilst the pilot sits by, laughing and undisturbed, and delighted to see their confusion; thus too the soul which is truly wise, when all others are in confusion, or else are inopportunely smiling at any change of circumstance, sits unmoved, as it were, at the tiller and helm of piety. For tell me, what can disturb the pious soul? Can death? This is the beginning of a better life. Can poverty? This helps her on toward virtue. Can disease? She regards not its presence. She regards neither ease, nor affliction; for being beforehand with it, she hath afflicted herself. Can dishonor? The world hath been crucified to her. Can the loss of children? She fears it not, when she is fully persuaded of the Resurrection. What then can surprise her? None of all these things. Doth wealth elevate her? By no means, she knoweth that money is nothing. Doth glory? She hath been taught that “all the glory of man is as the flower of grass.” (Isa. 40:6.) Doth luxury? She hath heard Paul say, “She that giveth herself to pleasure is dead while she liveth.” (1 Tim. 5:6.) Since then she is neither inflamed nor cramped, what can equal such health as this?

Other souls, meanwhile, are not such, but change more frequently than the sea, or the cameleon, so that thou hast great cause to smile, when thou seest the same man at one time laughing, at another weeping, at one time full of care, at another beyond measure relaxed and languid. For this cause Paul saith, “Be not fashioned according to this world.” (Rom. 12:2.) For we are citizens of heaven, where there is no turning. Prizes which change not are held out to us. Let us make manifest this our citizenship, let us thence already receive our good things. But why do we cast ourselves into the Euripus, into tempest, into storm, into foam? Let us be in calm. It all depends not on wealth, nor on poverty, nor honor, nor dishonor, nor on sickness, nor on health, nor on weakness, but on our own soul. If it is solid, and well-instructed in the science of virtue, all things will be easy to it. Even hence it will already behold its rest, and that quiet harbor, and, on its departure, will there attain innumerable good things, the which may we all attain, by the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom, to the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory, dominion, honor, now and ever, and world without end. Amen.

“For many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Himself.”

NOTHING is so incongruous in a Christian, and foreign to his character, as to seek ease and rest; and to be engrossed with the present life is foreign to our profession and enlistment. Thy Master was crucified, and dost thou seek ease? Thy Master was pierced with nails, and dost thou live delicately? Do these things become a noble soldier? Wherefore Paul saith, “Many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” Since there were some who made a pretense of Christianity, yet lived in ease and luxury, and this is contrary to the Cross: therefore he thus spoke. For the cross belongs to a soul at its post for the fight, longing to die, seeking nothing like ease, whilst their conduct is of the contrary sort. So that even if they say, they are Christ’s, still they are as it were enemies of the Cross. For did they love the Cross, they would strive to live the crucified life. Was not thy Master hung upon the tree? Do thou otherwise imitate Him. Crucify thyself, though no one crucify thee. Crucify thyself, not that thou mayest slay thyself, God forbid, for that is a wicked thing, but as Paul said, “The world hath been crucified unto me and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14.) If thou lovest thy Master, die His death. Learn how great is the power of the Cross; how many good things it hath achieved, and doth still: how it is the safety of our life. Through it all things are done. Baptism is through the Cross, for we must receive that seal. The laying on of hands is through the Cross. If we are on journeys, if we are at home, wherever we are, the Cross is a great good, the armor of salvation, a shield which cannot be beaten down, a weapon to oppose the devil; thou bearest the Cross when thou art at enmity with him, not simply when thou sealest thyself by it, but when thou sufferest the things belonging to the Cross. Christ thought fit to call our sufferings by the name of the Cross. As when he saith, “Except a man take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24), i.e. except he be prepared to die.

But these being base, and lovers of life, and lovers of their bodies, are enemies of the Cross. And every one, who is a friend of luxury, and of present safety, is an enemy of that Cross in which Paul makes his boast: which he embraces, with which he desires to be incorporated. As when he saith, “I am crucified unto the world, and the world unto me.” But here he saith, “I now tell you weeping.” Wherefore? Because the evil was urgent, because such deserve tears. Of a truth the luxurious are worthy of tears, who make fat that which is thrown about them, I mean the body, and take no thought of that soul which must give account. Behold thou livest delicately, behold thou art drunken, to-day and to-morrow, ten years, twenty, thirty, fifty, a hundred, which is impossible; but if thou wilt, let us suppose it. What is the end? What is the gain? Nought at all. Doth it not then deserve tears, and lamentations, to lead such a life; God hath brought us into this course, that He may crown us, and we take our departure without doing any noble action. Wherefore Paul weepeth, where others laugh, and live in pleasure. So sympathetic is he: such thought taketh he for all men. “Whose god,” saith he, “is the belly.” For this have they a God!1 That is, “let us eat and drink!” Dost thou see, how great an evil luxury is? to some their wealth, and to others their belly is a god. Are not these too idolaters, and worse than the common? And their “glory is in their shame.” (1 Cor. 15:32.) Some say it is circumcision. I think not so, but this is its meaning, they make a boast of those things, of which they ought to be ashamed. It is a fearful thing to do shameful actions; yet to do them, and be ashamed, is only half so dreadful. But where a man even boasts himself of them, it is excessive senselessness.

Do these words apply to them alone? And do those who are here present escape the charge? And will no one have account to render of these things? Does no one make a god of his belly, or glory in his shame? I wish, earnestly I wish, that none of these charges lay against us, and that I did not know any one involved in what I have said. But I fear lest the words have more reference to us than to the men of those times. For when one consumes his whole life in drinking and reveling, and expends some small trifle on the poor, whilst he consumes the larger portion on his belly, will not these words with justice apply to him? No words are more apt to call attention, or more cutting in reproof, than these: “Whose god is the belly, whose glory is in their shame.” And who are these? They, he says, who mind earthly things. “Let us build houses.” Where, I ask? On the earth, they answer. Let us purchase farms; on the earth again: let us obtain power; again on the earth: let us gain glory; again on the earth: let us enrich ourselves; all these things are on the earth. These are they, whose god is their belly; for if they have no spiritual thoughts, but have all their possessions here, and mind these things, with reason have they their belly for their god, in saying, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” And about thy body, thou grievest, tell me, that it is of earth, though thus thou art not at all injured. But thy soul thou draggest down to the earth, when thou oughtest to render even thy body spiritual; for thou mayest, if thou wilt. Thou hast received a belly, that thou mayest feed, not distend it, that thou mayest have the mastery over it, not have it as mistress over thee: that it may minister to thee for the nourishment of the other parts, not that thou mayest minister to it, not that thou mayest exceed limits. The sea, when it passes its bounds, doth not work so many evils, as the belly doth to our body, together with our soul. The former overfloweth all the earth, the latter all the body. Put moderation for a boundary to it, as God hath put the sand for the sea. Then if its waves arise, and rage furiously, rebuke it, with the power which is in thee. See how God hath honored thee, that thou mightest imitate Him, and thou wilt not; but thou seest the belly overflowing, destroying and overwhelming thy whole nature, and darest not to restrain or moderate it.

“Whose God,” he saith, “is their belly.” Let us see how Paul served God: let us see how gluttons serve their belly. Do not they undergo ten thousand such deaths? do not they fear to disobey whatever it orders? do not they minister impossibilities to it? Are not they worse than slaves? “But our citizenship,” says he, “is in Heaven.” Let us not then seek for ease here; there do we shine, where also our citizenship is. “From whence also,” saith he, “we wait for a Saviour,” the Lord Jesus Christ: “who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory.” By little and little he hath carried us up. He saith, “From Heaven” and “Our Saviour,” showing, from the place and from the Person, the dignity of the subject. “Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation,” saith he. The body now suffereth many things: it is bound with chains, it is scourged, it suffereth innumerable evils; but the body of Christ suffered the same. This, then, he hinted at when he said, “That it may be conformed to the body of his glory.” Wherefore the body is the same, but putteth on incorruption. “Shall fashion anew.” Wherefore the fashion is different; or perchance he has spoken figuratively of the change.

He saith, “the body of our humiliation,” because it is now humbled, subject to destruction, to pain, because it seemeth to be worthless, and to have nothing beyond that of other animals. “That it may be conformed to the body of his glory.” What? shall this our body be fashioned like unto Him, who sitteth at the right hand of the Father, to Him who is worshiped by the Angels, before whom do stand the incorporeal Powers, to Him who is above all rule and power, and might? If then the whole world were to take up weeping and lament for those who have fallen from this hope, could it worthily lament? because, when a promise is given us of our body being made like to Him, it still departs with the demons. I care not for hell henceforth; whatever can be said, having fallen from so great glory, now and henceforth consider hell to be nothing to this falling away. What sayest thou, O Paul? To be made like unto Him? Yes, he answereth; then, lest you should disbelieve, he addeth a reason; “According to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Himself.” He hath power, saith he, to subject all things unto Himself, wherefore also destruction and death. Or rather, He doth this also with the same power. For tell me, which requireth the greater power, to subject demons, and Angels, and Archangels, and Cherubim, and Seraphim, or to make the body incorruptible and immortal? The latter certainly much more than the former; he showed forth the greater works of His power, that you might believe these too. Wherefore, though ye see these men rejoicing, and honored, yet stand firm, be not offended at them, be not moved. These our hopes are sufficient to raise up even the most sluggish and indolent.

Chap. 4 ver. 1. “Wherefore,” saith he, “my brethren, beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my beloved.”

“So.” How? Unmoved. See how he addeth praise after exhortation, “my joy and my crown,” not simply joy but glory too, not simply glory but my crown too. Which glory nought can equal, since it is the crown of Paul. “So stand fast in the Lord, my beloved,” i.e. in the hope of God.1

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Philippians 3:17-4:3

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 26, 2014

This post begins with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of Philippians 3, followed by his comments on today’s first reading. Text in purple indicates MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.


In this chapter, after briefly referring to the subject matter of the preceding, and inviting the Philippians to rejoice at the news which he communicated therein (Phil 3:1), cautions them against certain false teachers, most likely the Judaizantes, whom he designates as “dogs,” falsely circumcised, because only circumcised in the flesh; whereas, the true circumcision is the Christian circumcision of the heart (Phil 3:1–3). He shows that he could himself glory in more external privileges conferred by the Mosaic law, than could any of the false teachers. He enumerates those external advantages (Phil 3:4–7). But these legal privileges, as well as all temporal advantages whatsoever, he has valued as nought in comparison with the exalted knowledge of Christ (Phil 3:8); and he has sacrificed all, ana submitted to suffering, in order to gain Christ, and be rendered a sharer in his merits and at a future day, in the glory of his resurrection (Phil 3:8–11).

In referring, however, to his sacrifice for Christ, he is not to be understood as wishing to convey, that he had already attained to Christian perfection; he is only, by constant and unceasing efforts, endeavouring to attain the summit of this perfection, and to secure the prize held out in the stadium of Christian, virtue. He exhorts the Philippians to do the same (Phil 3:11–16). He invites them to imitate himself rather than the false teachers, whose conduct and unhappy end he describes (Phil 3:17–19). With these he contrasts the God-like conduct of the followers of Christ, and the glorious consummation in store for them.

Today’s reading ends with the Apostle exhorting the Philippians to persevere in Christian virtue.

Phil 3:17 Be ye followers of me, brethren: and observe them who walk so as you have our model.

Be imitators of me, brethren, and attentively observe (for the purpose of imitation) those who take me for their model.

These words build upon what St Paul has written in Phil 3:2-16, part of which formed yesterday’s first reading. It seems likely that he has in mind people like those mentioned in Phil 4:3. No doubt also Timothy and Epaphroditus whom St Paul plans on sending to Philippi (Phil 2:19-30).

Phil 3:18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often (and now tell you weeping) that they are enemies of the cross of Christ:

For many live and act quite differently, whom I frequently designated in your presence and captioned you against (and now I repeat the same with tears), as enemies of the cross of Christ.

The reason why he tells them to imitate himself is, because many who affect to labour for Christ and preach his gospel act a part wholly unsuited to their profession. “Enemies of the cross.” This has been already explained of the Jewish zealots, and it has been shown how they are enemies of the cross (Jewish zealots is a reference to Jewish Christians who continued to insist on the observance of the Mosaic Law as necessary for salvation; see Phil 3:2-4). Others, however, understand the words to refer to their immoral lives, so opposed to mortification and the self-denial pointed out by the cross.

Phil 3:19 Whose end is destruction: whose God is their belly: and whose glory is in their shame: who mind earthly things.

Whose end is eternal perdition, whose God is their belly, or, the gratification of their sensual appetites, whose glorying has for object those deeds of wickedness, which should rather be a cause of shame; who are wholly engrossed with earthly things, without feeling any concern for the heavenly.

Far from being wholly engrossed with earthly things, our conversation, or manner of living, is such as becomes men aspiring after heaven; our citizenship is there; as free citizens of heaven, we are engaged only about heavenly things. How few, even of those engaged in God’s service, can say this of themselves!

Phil 3:20 But our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ,
But we pass through this life as citizens of heaven, whence we expert also our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.
Phil 3:21 Who will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory, according to the operation whereby also he is able to subdue all things unto himself.
Who will transform this earthly body of ours, and conform it unto a likeness with his glorified and resplendent body, and that by an efficacious effort of that power, by which all things are subject to his supreme will.

He refers to our bodies committed to the earth, and to the glorified property of clarity.—(See 1 Cor. 15:42, 43, 44).

Phil 4:1 THEREFORE my dearly beloved brethren and most desired, my joy and my crown: so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. 

Wherefore, my brethren—whom I love affectionately, and am most anxious to behold, who are the subject of my joy and the occasion of the crown to be given me for having effected your conversion—persevere steadfastly, my dearly beloved, in the Christian faith, as I have pointed out to you, both by example and teaching,

“Therefore,” since such great glory, both as to soul and body, is promised you by Christ. “So stand fast to the Lord;” persevere in a Christian life, following me, and those who imitate me, as models. “My joy and my crown.” For every Prelate and Pastor his people must be the source of his joy and crown, or, of his sorrow and damnation.

Phil 3:2  Beware of dogs: beware of evil workers: beware of the concision.

I entreat Euodia, and Syntyche, laying aside all differences, to have but one mind and will, to live in charity and concord for the sake of the Lord.

These were two women of quality residing at Philippi, who had rendered great service to the Apostle in the work of converting the Philippians. From this verse it appears that there must have been some misunderstanding between them at this time. In place of feelings of estrangement, he Apostle, however, beseeches; them to substitute charity and unanimity.

Phil 3:3  For we are the circumcision, who in spirit serve God and glory in Christ Jesus, not having confidence in the flesh.

And I entreat thee also, my sincere and faithful colleague, to assist these women (either in administering to their temporal support, or in bringing about a reconciliation), who, with Clement and my other fellow-labourers, whom I cannot here enumerate, but whose names are enrolled in the book of life, have laboured with me in promoting the cause of the gospel.

“Book of life,” means the catalogue of those predestined for grace or glory—which catalogue is treasured up in the prescience of God. This book of life is referred to by Moses (Exodus, 32:22)—and David says, “may they be blotted out from the book of the living.”—(Ps. 68). It is most probable that he refers to the predestination of these to grace, in which case, their names are inscribed in an incomplete, conditional way; when there is question of predestination to glory, their names are inscribed absolutely and completely. “My sincere companion” (σύζυγε γνησι) probably refers to the Bishop of Philippi, who may have been Epaphroditus. Some Protestants refer it to St. Paul’s wife, but in the 7th chap. 1st Ep. to Cor., St. Paul equivalently asserts that he was unmarried. Again, the words are masculine in the Greek, and although, by an Attic turn, they might have a feminine signification, still, it is improbable that St. Paul, not well versed in the Greek tongue, wrote in the Attic dialect. All the Fathers (with the exception of Clement of Alexandria, who holds that the Apostle, though married, was still continent), concur in saying that St. Paul was unmarried. Besides, to use the reasoning of Œcumenius, can we suppose that in a letter addressed to the entire Church, St. Paul would address his wife?—why leave her at Philippi?—why not leave her at Tharsis, or Jerusalem, and not be bringing her about with him—a thing he expressly denies his having done in reference to any woman?—1st Cor. 9. Hence, the word “companion,” in Greek, yoke-fellow, is metaphorically understood of some faithful co-operator in planting the gospel.

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My Notes on Philippians 3:17-4:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 25, 2014

Phil 3:17-19.   17 Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

Join in imitating me. Paul has been preparing for this exhortation from the start of his letter. He began the letter by mentioning the fact that they were “all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel” (Phil 1:7).  The grace he has in mind here is somewhat shocking, it is nothing less than his imprisonment, for he goes on to mention that what had befallen him (imprisonment) “has really served to advance the Gospel”, even among “the whole praetorian guard”, with the result that “most of the brothers have been made confident in the Lord” because of that imprisonment, and have become “more bold to speak the word of God without fear” (see Phil 1:12-14).  All of this has caused St Paul to “rejoice”, in spite of the fact that some rivals (enemies) are preaching Christ out of pretense, to cause him “affliction’ (see Phil 1:15-18).

In writing this, Paul, who had identified himself as a “slave of Christ Jesus” in the opening verse of the letter, shows that he has the mind of Christ who, “though he was in the form of God…took the form of a slave” and “humbled himself, obediently accepting even death” (see Phil 2:5-8).  He can then, with good reason and humility, hold himself up as an example to be imitated (Phil 3:17) in the face of enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil 3:18), who belong to a “crooked and perverse generation” (Phil 2:15), who have their minds set on earthly things (Phil 3:19), for he is being poured out like a libation, a sacrificial offering for the Philippians (Phil 2:17).

Phil 3:20-41.    20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.
4:1 Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Our commonwealth is in heaven,” opposed to the “many” whose “end is destruction,” whose “god is their belly,”   “who glory in their shame”, and who “have their minds set on earthly things” (Phil 3:18-19).  As “enemies of the cross of Christ” they live by the bodily pleasures of this world, and are not fit to have their “lowly (bodies) to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:21).

“The concepts and even the words Paul uses here bear a strong resemblance to the words of the hymn in Phil 2:6-11 and show that Paul still has that hymn on his mind.  The Greek word for ‘change,’ or better ‘transform,’ used here is metaschematisei, a verb built on the word schemati found in Phil 2:8.  The word for ‘like’ is symmorphon, from the noun morphe found in Phil 2:6.  The word ‘lowly’ tapeinoseos, suggests the words ‘he humbled himself in Phil 2:8.  And the whole transformation from lowly to glorious recalls the contrast between Jesus’ condition before the cross Phil 2:6-8, and after the cross Phil 2:9-11.” (Peter F. Ellis, SEVEN PAULINE LETTERS, pg. 135).

Stand firm thus in the Lord” (Phil 4:1) recalls St Paul’s description of his own conflict and his confidence that he would come through it (see Phil 1:15-26, especially vss 19-20).  It also calls to mind St Paul’s exhortation that the Philippian’s “manner of life be worth of the Gospel of Christ” so that they might “stand firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel, and not be frightened in  anything by opponents.”  If they do stand firm it is a sure “omen” of the opponents “destruction” and their “salvation” (see Phil 1:27-30).  Likewise, it also calls to mind these words: 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me (Phil 2:12-18).

RSV Copyright Statement:

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“Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians 1:1-11

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014

This post contains commentary on Philippians 1:1-11 along with two introductory summaries. The fist on Phil 1:1-2; the second on Phil 1:3-11. Underlined words indicate that a definition or note will be given. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

 A Summary of Philippians 1:1-2

St. Paul together with Timothy, his trusted companion and probably his amanuensis at this time, addresses in artless and affectionate terms the beloved faithful of Philippi and their spiritual leaders, wishing them, in combined Greek and Hebrew forms, grace and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus, their Saviour.

amanuensis: one who writes down the dictation of another; a secretary.

artless: simple, natural, unpretentious.

Phil 1:1. Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ; to all the saints in Christ Jesus, who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.

Paul, the author of this letter. He omits the title “apostle” here because there is no reason to require insistence on his divine authority and mission. See on Rom 1:1. There Fr. Callan writes:

Called to be an apostle, i.e., called by a special vocation (κλητός= klētos) to go and preach the Gospel. The term “apostle” means one sent, as a messenger, a commissioned agent. Thus all the Apostles were messengers sent by Christ to announce the kingdom of God, to proclaim the good tidings of redemption and salvation. St. Paul was equal in dignity to the twelve, because like them, he was called and instructed immediately by Christ Himself (Gal 1:1). Sometimes in an opening address St Paul had to insist on his apostolic status because of trouble makers in the church (e.g., 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:1). Sometimes it was more directly necessitated by the fact that he was not acquainted firsthand with the church he is writing to (e.g., Rom 1:1-7; Col 1:1).  In these two letters both issues may have contributed. The greeting in the two letters to Thessalonica have no descriptive title at all. Here in Philippians he describes himself as a slave or servant of Jesus Christ because he wishes to associate the Phillippians service to him with his own service (see Phil 1:3-7, 29-30; 2:25, 29-30).

Timothy, who was with Paul at this time and perhaps wrote down the present Epistle, and who had helped the Apostle in founding the Church at Philippi (Acts 16:1ff). For further particulars about Timothy, see Introduction to 1 Timothy in this volume.

Servants. Literally, “slaves,” but in a redeemed and figurative sense of that degrading word.

Jesus Christ. There is more evidence for the reverse order of these terms, “Christ Jesus.” This title of our Lord is peculiarly Pauline, occurring in the two orders about 165 times in his Epistles.

All the saints, i.e., all those who by their religious profession have separated themselves from the world and consecrated themselves to God. The Apostle says “all,” showing no distinction, and no cause of distinction, such as factions or sects.

Philippi. See Introduction, No. 1. Read it here.

With the bishops, etc. This is the only time St, Paul mentions the clergy in the inscription of a letter. In early times the title “bishop” was given to the heads of the various local churches, whether they were bishops In the strict sense of the word or only priests; the term here being in the plural doubtless means priests or presbyters. See Acts 21:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; 1 Tim. 3:1-13, 5:17, where the terms “bishops” and “presbyters” are interchanged. St. Paul names the bishops and deacons most likely because they took the principal part in sending gifts and helps to him.

Phil 1:2. Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace . . . peace. See on Eph. 1:2.

God our Father, etc. The Father is the ultimate source of all blessings, and Christ, His co-equal Son, is the medium and channel. See also on Eph. 1:2.

A Summary of  Philippians 3:3-11

Here the Apostle begins to speak in the first person singular, showing that the letter is his own, and not a joint work between him and Timothy. He thanks God for the part the Philippians have had in the work of the Gospel and in the merits of his sufiferings (Phil 1:3-8), and he prays that they may continually progress in spiritual knowledge and in the grace of Him to whom they owe their spiritual life, so as to be perfect when the heavenly Bridegroom comes to call them to their eternal rewards (Phil 1:9-1 1).

3. I give thanks to my God in every remembrance of you,
4. Always in all my prayers, making supplication for you all, with joy,

3-4. The Apostle assures his readers that in all his remembrance of them he thanks God, who is the source of all their spiritual blessings, and that in all his petitions it is a cause of joy to him to make requests for them.

In all my prayers. Better, “In every request of mine.”

5. For your communication in the gospel of Christ from the first day unto now,

He assigns the reason for his supplication with joy In their behalf, namely, their “communication in the gospel, etc.,” i.e., their co-operation with him in the work of spreading the Gospel from the first day they heard it preached up to the time this letter was written. The reference is to the devotedness, labors, sufferings, gifts, etc., by which they had participated with the Apostle in the propagation and furtherance of the Gospel.

6. Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus.

The Apostle now tells the Philippians that he feels certain that God the Father who began in them the work of their redemption and sanctification will complete the process, bringing it to perfection against the day of their deliverance from the present life. Thus, he teaches the necessity of grace, not only to begin a good work in the supernatural order, but also to continue it and to persevere in it until death (cf. Conc. Trid., sess. VI, cap. 13).

A good work, i.e., their conversion to Christianity, which was followed by their labor and zeal in behalf of the Gospel and St. Paul.

The day of Christ Jesus is a frequent expression with St. Paul, and refers to our Lord’s coming in judgment, whether at the death of the individual or at the end of time to judge the world. The similar expression of the Old Testament, “the day of the Lord,” meant the day of God’s visitation of the earth in judgment and redemption.

7. Indeed it is right for me to be so minded in regard of you all, for that I have you in my heart; that in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace.

He gives the reason for the confidence expressed in the preceding verse. It is perfectly right and natural that he should feel thus toward the Philippians, because of his intimate and tender love for them, and because, through the help they have given him, they are sharers in the “grace” of his apostolate, whether exercised in “bonds,” i.e., in prison, or in “defence” of himself and of his preaching against the accusations and calumnies of the Jews, or “in confirmation of the gospel,” i.e., in explaining and proving the truth of the Gospel before Jews and Gentiles (Acts 28:23 ff.). “For that I have you in my heart” may also be rendered “for that you have me in your heart,” i.e., he is mindful of them because they also remember him.

The gaudii mei of the Vulgate should be gratiæ meæ, to agree with the Greek.

8. For God is my witness, how I long after you all in the heart of Christ Jesus.

As a proof of his ardent love for the faithful of Philippi St. Paul now invokes God, who reads the heart, as his witness; he loves them all with the love wherewith Christ loves them; his heart is one with the heart of his Master.

In visceribus of the Vulgate means with the most ardent love, the Greek of which is properly rendered in English by “heart,” as it refers to the seat of tender and noble affections. The Greek also reverses the order of Jesu Christi of the Vulgate here.

9. And this I pray, that your charity may more and more abound in knowledge and in all discernment,

In verse 4 the Apostle told his readers that he prayed for them all with joy. Now he tells them what he requested for them, namely, that their “charity” (i.e., their love of God and their neighbor) might continually increase and become ever more perfect “in knowledge,” i.e., in full, developed understanding (επιγνωσει) of Christian virtues, and “in all discernment,” i.e., practical judgment (αισθησει) as to the application of those virtues in dealing with their neighbor.

10. That you may approve the better things, that you may be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ,

This full knowledge and judgment St. Paul requests for the Philippians in order that they may be able to appraise things according to their true worth; that, distinguishing between the moral values of their actions, they “may approve, etc.,” i.e., that they may test and choose those which are more excellent, with the result that they “may be sincere” (i.e., pure and innocent in the sight of God) “and without offence” (i.e., that their conduct may be no obstacle or stumbling block to their neighbor).

Unto the day of Christ, i.e., when the Lord comes to judge and reward them according to their works. See on verse 6 above.

11. Filled with the fruit of justice, through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The Apostle wishes the faithful not only to be innocent and blameless, but also to be “filled with the fruit of justice,” i.e., with good works, which can be done only through the grace of Christ. “Justice” here is better rendered “justness” or “righteousness,” which implies a complete harmony between the soul and God; it is given through Christ. “Only so far as the life of the believer is absorbed in the life of Christ, does the righteousness of Christ become his own” (Lightfoot). Hence our Lord said: “I am the true vine, etc.” (John 15:1 ff.).

Unto the glory, etc. The glory and praise of God is the last end and true goal of all our charity, justice, good works, etc., as the Apostle here reminds us.

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The City of Philippi

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014

Philippi was a city in Eastern Macedonia on the borders of Thrace, some eight or nine miles inland and to the northwest from ancient Neapolis, its seaport on the Ægean Sea. Its original name was Crenides, or Little Fountains, so called from the springs which fed a great marsh to the south of the town. About the middle or latter part of the fourth century B.C. it was taken, enlarged, and fortified by Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great; and from him it received its later name.

Philippi was situated on a hill dominating a large and fertile plain which stretched to the north and northwest of the city, and it was cut off from the sea by a line of hills on its east and southeast. It was, however, easily accessible from Neapolis through the Via Egnatia, the great Roman highway, which ran through a depression in the hills from Neapolis to Philippi and connected the Ægean on the east with the Adriatic on the west.

In the neighborhood of Philippi were rich gold and silver mines which offered the chief attraction to Philip of Macedon in his refounding of the city, and from which he drew the vast wealth needed for his victorious military career. The city and the rest of the dominions of Perseus, King of Macedonia, fell into the hands of the Romans in 168 B.C., and in 42 b.c, on the plain of Philippi, Mark
Antony and Octavian (afterwards Augustus) in a decisive battle defeated Brutus and Cassius, the assassins of Julius Caesar, thus bringing to an end the party that had hoped by the death of Caesar to restore the old Roman republic. In commemoration of this victory the Emperor Augustus made Philippi a Roman military colony, calling it after himself Colonia Julia Augusta Victrix Philippensium (colony populated by Agustus, Victor at Philippi), and conferring upon it the jus Italicum, which gave its colonists the right of constitutional government, independent of the provincial governor, the right of proprietorship according to Roman law, and exemption from poll and land taxes. As a Roman colony Philippi had its own duumviri, or two supreme magistrates, the στρατηγοις (strategoi) of Acts 16:20, 22, 35-38. Thus, the city became a center of Roman influence, and with its public baths and theatres, its worship of Diana, Sylvanus and Dionysus, its cosmopolitan character (combining as it did the life of Asia and the life of Europe), it was like another Rome in miniature. St. Luke (Acts 16:12) called it the chief city of the district, but its rank was seriously disputed by Amphipolis, about thirty miles to the southwest, with the precedence inclining to the latter city. The inhabitants of Philippi in St. Paul’s time were mostly Latin in origin, with a strong minority of Macedonian stock and a sprinkling of other nationalities attracted by the military and commercial importance of the place. There were Jews also, but so few in number that they had not even one synagogue. The town was destroyed by the Turks in later centuries, and nothing remains of it now but some ruins.

Suggested Commentaries on Philippians:

Philippians and Philemon: New Testament Message Series, by Mary Ann Getty.

Epistle to the Philippians: New Testament for Spiritual Reading Series, by Joachim Gnilka.

Philippians, Colossians, Philemon: Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture Series, by Dennis Hamm.

Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians: Ignatius Study Bible Series, by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch.

Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Series.

St John Chrysostom’s Homilies on Philippians.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures on Philippians.

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