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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians Chapter 4

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2019

Text in red are my additions.

EXHORTATION TO VARIOUS VIRTUES AND HOLY THOUGHTS

A Summary of Philippians 4:1-9~After all the Apostle has said in the last part of the preceding Chapter, his exceeding love for the Philippians manifests itself in endearing terms, asserting that they will be his garland of victory and joy in the day of Christ’s coming to judge the world. He exhorts them to steadfastness; he entreats Evodia and Syntyche, especially, to have no dissension, asking his loyal comrade to assist these latter, since they, like Clement and his other fellow-workers, have been so faithful to him in labors for the Gospel. Then to all he recommends joy in the Lord, forbearance towards all men, freedom from anxiety, prayerfulness and thankfulness; and he assures them that, if they practise these virtues, the peace of God will take up its abode in their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:1-7). Finally, recapitulating, he begs them to feed their minds on all that is true and good, wherever it may be found, asking them in practice to obey his precepts and imitate his example as a sure way to heavenly peace (Phil 4:8-9).

Phil 4:1. Therefore, my beloved brethren, and my desired; my joy and my crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

Therefore. This verse concludes what the Apostle has been saying in the preceding Chapter, most probably in verses 17-21.

My beloved . . . my desired. The corresponding words in the Vulgate here should be in the positive, instead of the superlative degree, to harmonize with the Greek. The Apostle is exhorting the Philippians to steadfastness in Christian life and conduct as inculcated by him and his companions, for he wishes to present them to Christ as his achievement in the final judgment.

Phil 4:2. I beg of Evodia, and I beseech Syntyche, to be of one mind in the Lord.

This verse seems to show that the two ladies mentioned occupied a prominent place in the work of the Philippian Church, and that some dissension had arisen between them. They are not mentioned elsewhere.

Phil 4:3. And I entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have labored with me in the gospel, with Clement and the rest of my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life.

Companion. Literally, “yoke-fellow,” i.e., fellow-worker. It is unknown who he was. Perhaps he was Epaphroditus; or possibly the Greek word here (σύζυγε⸃, = syzge) is a proper name, and should be rendered “Syzygus.”

Those women. Literally, “them” (αὐταῖς, = autais), i.e., the two ladies spoken of in the preceding verse.

Clement, perhaps a resident of Philippi, though he is identified with Clement of Rome by many of the Fathers.

The book of life, i.e., God’s eternal register in heaven (Rev 13:8, 20:12); it is God’s certain knowledge of those who are predestined (St. Thomas). The metaphor is taken from the custom in antiquity of keeping in a register the names of all the people of a country or town (cf. Ex 32:32; Isa. 4:3; Dan. 12:1).

Phil 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice.

Speaking to all, the Apostle repeats his exhortation of Philippians 3:1, bidding his readers “rejoice in the Lord always,” on account of the many spiritual blessings they now enjoy and that are promised them both here and hereafter by the Saviour who has redeemed them; there is never wanting to them a motive of spiritual joy.

Phil 4:5. Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh.

As an effect of their spiritual joy, they are to manifest their “modesty” (i.e., their gentleness and sweetness of character) “to all men,” even to those whom he had before called enemies of the cross of Christ (St. Chrysostom, and see Phil 3:18); with all they are to deal in a kindly manner, thus showing the value and loveliness of the religion they profess.

The Lord is nigh. This assigns the great cause of their joy; “a man rejoices at the coming of a friend” (St. Thomas). Hence this phrase is to be connected with what precedes, and the Greeks understood it of the General Judgment. Others think it refers to the ever-present grace and help of God (so St. Thomas). The former opinion is more probable: Christ is coming to judge and crown us for our patience and spirit of sweet endurance; the Apostle often speaks of the final judgment as if it were close at hand, in order that his readers might keep it ever in their minds (a Lapide, Knabenbauer, etc.).

Phil 4:6. Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God.

Anxious solicitude is an impediment to joy, and hence the Apostle now admonishes, “be nothing solicitous” (i.e., have no anxieties) either as regards goods you lack or evils you bear, but in every work and condition have recourse to God “by prayer and supplication” (i.e., with fervor and perseverance), not forgetting prayers of “thanksgiving,” for God is ever ready to hear your worthy “petitions,” and will always grant what you ask, or something better. God never fails to answer in some way prayers that are properly made, though He will not give us what is not for our good; and gratitude for favors received disposes God to grant more favors.

Phil 4:7. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The effect of prayer that is properly made is peace of mind and soul.

The peace of God, i.e., the peace whose author and giver is God.

Which surpasseth all understanding, i.e., which is supernatural, and therefore cannot be produced by human means or understood by those who have not experienced it.

Will keep. Literally, “will guard,” like a sentinel at a gate, “your hearts and minds” (i.e., your feelings and thoughts) “in Christ Jesus,” our spiritual citadel. St. Paul is speaking in military terms.

Phil 4:8. For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good report, if there be any virtue, if any praise—think on these things.

Coming now to the end of the body of his letter, St. Paul summarizes the things he wishes his readers seriously to consider and meditate on. The subjects indicated are quite general, pertaining to pagan morality as well as Christian virtues.

True, i.e., genuine, sincere.

Modest, i.e., becoming, seemly.

Just, i.e., according to the norms of right dealing.

Holy, i.e., pure, elevated, free from debasing elements.

Lovely, i.e., lovable, gracious.

Of good report, i.e., winning the esteem and approval of men, in the sense of 1 Tim 3:7: “He must have a good testimony of them that are without”; and of 2 Cor 8:21: “We forecast what may be good not only before God, but also before men.”

Virtue, a very general term summing up the first four qualities just named, and found only here in St. Paul. It embraces all that is virtuous in any way.

Praise, also a very general term summing up the last two qualities named above, and meaning, worthy of approbation, praiseworthy. The last two qualities are paraphrased as follows by Lightfoot: “Whatever value may reside in your old heathen conception of virtue, whatever consideration is due to the praise of men.”

The disciplinæ of the Vulgate is not according to the best Greek MSS.

Phil 4:9. The things which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, these do ye, and the God of peace shall be with you.

St. Paul has just given his readers ample food for meditation; and, before telling them to put these lofty thoughts into practice, he calls attention to his own example, to what they have seen in him and heard about him from others, in order to malce it plain that he is not asking them to do what is too hard or impossible. If they will follow his advice, “the God of peace” will be with them, to help them and to enable them to relish the possession of true tranquillity of soul.

THE CONCLUSION TO PHILIPPIANS

A Summary of Philippians 4:10-23~Having closed the didactic part of his letter, St. Paul now turns to personal matters. He thanks the Philippians for the gifts they sent him, recalling the privilege they have had in sharing, through their charity, in his labors and afflictions ever since they first had the Gospel preached to them, assuring them that he needs nothing further and that God will repay them in glory. Offering greetings from himself and his companions, he then imparts his blessing.

Phil 4:10. Now I rejoice in the Lord exceedingly, that now at length your thought for me hath flourished again, as you did also think; but you were busied.

The Apostle rejoices with a holy joy at the gifts the Philipplans have sent by Epaphroditus, not so much because they have succored him, but because by their charity they have profited spiritually.

That now at length, etc. Some see in these words a slight rebuke, as if the faithful at Philippi had been guilty of neglect in the Apostle’s regard; but the real meaning is that a change for the better in their temporal circumstances or opportunities had enabled them to assist the Apostle once more as they had done in the past; they had the will to help all along, but they had been impeded.

As you did also think, etc., i.e., they did continue to care for him, they wanted to come to his assistance, but opportunity was lacking.

Phil 4:11. I speak not as it were for want. For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content therewith.
Phil 4:12. I know both how to be brought low, and I know how to abound: everywhere, and in all things I am instructed both to be full, and to b hungry; both to abound, and to suffer need.
Phil 4:13. I can do all things in him who strengtheneth me.

In these verses the Apostle tells the Philippians that the gladness he experienced over their gifts was not due to his want or to the relief they gave him; for he has learned in the school of Christ to be content wherever he is, or with whatever he has, be it little or much, be he in need or in affluence. He has arrived at this state of spiritual peace and equanimity, not by his own efforts, but by reason of his union with Jesus Christ and the supernatural power given him by his Master: all his strength is from Christ.

I am instructed (verse 12). Better, “I have been initiated,” a phrase often used with reference to pagan mystery cults, initiation into which was a slow and difficult process. It means here that St. Paul through faith, and perhaps by divine revelation, had learned the secret of the peace and contentment of mind which he describes in these verses. The Apostle was well aware of the great truth that it is what a man is that he carries into the future life, and that he leaves behind what he has here.

Phil 4:14. Nevertheless you have done well in communicating to my tribulation.

Nevertheless. From what the Apostle had just said the Philippians might conclude that he was not pleased with their gifts, and hence he now praises their liberality.

In communicating, etc., i.e., in taking a share in his affliction; because they thus made themselves worthy to have a share also in his rewards.

Phil 4:15. And you also know, Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but you only: Phil 4:16. For unto Thessalonica also you sent once and again for my use.

He recalls their liberality of the past, which began with the first preaching of the Gospel at Philippi. And this singular honor belongs to the Philippians alone of all the Churches evangelized by St. Paul.

(Verse 15) No church communicated with me, etc. The Apostle is here using commercial language, and his meaning is that no other Church gave him material aid in exchange for his spiritual benefits (cf. 1 Cor 9:11).

(Verse 16) For unto Thessalonica, etc. Scarcely had the Apostle left the Philippians on his way to Greece than they sent him gifts, and that several times, while he was yet in Macedonia (Acts 17:1-5). From no other Church, however, did he ever accept aid, as he tells us himself (2 Cor 11:7-9).

Phil 4:17. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

While praising the prompt liberality of the faithful of Philippi, St. Paul here, as in verse 11, is careful to remind them that he is not seeking help for himself, but rather the spiritual benefit of the Philippians; he rejoices at the merits they are gaining by their kind charity.

Phil 4:18. But I have all, and abound: I am filled, having received from Epaphroditus the things you sent, an odor of sweetness, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

Again he forestalls a possible misunderstanding. In saying that he seeks in the gifts of the Philippians abundant spiritual fruit for them, it might seem to be implied that he wanted them to send him more. Therefore he here assures them that he has all that he needs, and more than he needs.

An odor of sweetness. The alms of the Philippians were not only acceptable to the Apostle, but were also pleasing to God, like a sweet-smelling sacrifice (cf. Gen 8:21 ; Exod 29:18; Ezech 20:41).

Phil 4:19. And my God will supply all your want, according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle now assures the PhiUppians that, in return for their material gifts to him, God will repay them with spiritual treasures; and this, not according to their merits, but “according to his riches,” which He will lavish on them “in glory,” i.e., in their heavenly home above. “His riches in glory” are the fruit of “the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7).

In Christ Jesus, i.e., by reason of their union with Christ.

The impleat of the Vulgate should be implebit, to agree with the Greek.

Phil 4:20. Now to God and our Father be glory world without end. Amen.

The words just spoken about the rewards of the Philippians cause the Apostle to break into a doxology in gratitude to the Giver of all good things, who is also “our Father.”

Glory. Better, “the glory,” as in the Greek, meaning the glory which belongs to God.

World without end is a Hebraism, meaning for all eternity. Amen, so be it.

Phil 4:21. Salute ye every saint in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:22. The brethren who are with me, salute you. All the saints salute you; especially, they that are of Caesar’s household.

St. Paul sends first his personal salutations to each Christian of the Church at Philippi; then subjoins those of his immediate circle; and finally, those of all the Roman Christians, especially those of “Caesar’s household,” who were “probably slaves and freed men attached to the palace” (Lightfoot). The mention of these last personages shows how widespread and powerful was the influence of the Gospel, which had penetrated even into the royal palace.

Phil 4:23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

The Apostle concludes his Epistle with his accustomed blessing, which was very likely an autograph.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians Chapter 3

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 27, 2019

Text in red are my additions.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TRUE AND A FALSE GOSPEL 

A Summary of Philippians 3:1-16~Before bringing his letter to a close St. Paul wishes once more to remind his readers of the dangers of the Judaizers, Those self-appointed seducers go about with their insolent ways, evil practices, and false doctrines, boasting of their fleshly, hereditary privileges, while lacking all true spirituality. If it were a question, he says, of trusting in the flesh, he could surpass them all; but he has renounced those perishable privileges, along with every other impediment, in order that he might gain Christ and know Him, that he might attain to that justness which is through faith in Christ, and that, by imitating the life of His master here below, he might be crowned with Him hereafter. He says he has not yet attained to that desired perfection, but he is pressing on towards it; and he exhorts those of his readers who are likewise minded to do the same, keeping faithful to the standard they have attained.

Phil 3:1. As to the rest, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not wearisome, but to you is necessary.

As to the rest. This is a formula which St. Paul often uses to bring his letters to a close, or to introduce a new topic or the last topic of a series. Very likely he was about to terminate this Epistle, bidding his readers “rejoice in the Lord,” the fountain of all true joy, when he remembered the Judaizers, who were disturbing the peace of the Church at Philippi and becoming more audacious because he was in prison. Therefore, he takes pains to warn the faithful against them, repeating the “same things” (i.e., the same admonitions) which he had given before, very probably in other letters he had written them that have not come down to us.

Necessary. Better, “advantageous,” “useful.”

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

Beware of dogs. More literally, “Look at the dogs,” i.e., Look out for them. With great emphasis and indignation the Apostle now turns to denounce the Judaizers, describing them as “dogs,” to indicate their insolent, barking, and unclean character; as “evil workers,” whose conduct would destroy the work of Christ; as those “of the concision,” ironically alluding to their false notion of circumcision which consisted in mere physical mutilation devoid of spiritual significance. It is more probable that we have here three distinct descriptions of one class of persons than an indication of three different classes, representing respectively Gentiles, self-seeking Christian teachers, and unbelieving Jews.

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

In contrast to these boasters of mere physical mutilation, the Apostle says “we are the circumcision,” i.e., the truly circumcised, having the circumcision of the heart (Rom 2:28-29), of which he proceeds to give the three characteristics.

Who in spirit serve God. Better, “who worship by the Spirit of God,” i.e., who, moved by God’s own Spirit, render to God a service that is worthy of Him.

And glory in Christ Jesus, the source of all justification and the sole author of salvation.

Not having confidence in the flesh, i.e., in carnal rites and observances which were given only for a time, until Christ should come.

Phil 3:4. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other thinketh he may have confidence in the flesh, I more;
Phil 3:5. Being circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; according to the Law, a Pharisee;
Phil 3:6. According to zeal, persecuting the church; according to the justice that is in the law, conversing without blame.

In verses 4-11 the Apostle will show the Judaizers that he opposes their carnal privileges, not because he himself did not possess them, and indeed in the highest degree, but because they were unable to effect justification—a state of soul which could be obtained only through Jesus Christ.

verse 4. If any other, etc. He means to say that, if it were of any use, he has more reason to put his trust in hereditary privileges than any of those false teachers, as the following will show. He was “circumcised” in infancy, as the Law required (verse 5); he was “of the stock of Israel,” the true covenant race; “of the tribe of Benjamin,” i.e., a descendant of that beloved son of Jacob whose tribe gave Israel her first king and remained faithful to Juda at the disruption of the kingdom; he was a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” having always retained the language and customs of his race, whereas the Hellenists spoke Greek and largely adopted the customs of the Gentiles; he was by choice “a Pharisee,” and therefore a zealous and rigorous observer of the Law of Moses (verse 6); he went so far in his zeal for Judaism that he actually persecuted “the church of God”; he gave such scrupulous attention to the observance of the Law that his life was “without blame” in so far as the Law could make it so.

Phil 3:7. But the things that were gain to me, the same I have counted loss for Christ.

But all those Jewish prerogatives, which meant so much to him among the Jews, he has come to regard as “loss,” i.e., as useless, and even a hindrance to the possession of Christ, in whom alone justification and salvation are to be found.

Phil 3:8. Furthermore I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ.

The Apostle augments his statement. Not only those Jewish privileges, but also all similar things of the flesh, he has considered as useless and damaging in comparison with the surpassing spiritual benefits that have come to him through knowing his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, for whose sake he “suffered the loss of all things,” at the time of his conversion, counting them all as “dung” (better, as “refuse,” i.e., as of no value) in order that he might “gain Christ,” the secret and source of all graces and benefits. The present tense, “may gain,” is used only because the past experience is projected into the present.

Phil 3:9. And may be found in him, not having my justice, which is of the law, but that which is of the faith of Christ, which of God, justice in faith:

The same truth is stated in another way.

May be found. Again the past experience is spoken of as present, so vividly is it realized.

Not having my justice, etc., i.e., a justice which is acquired from the works of the Law and by one’s natural powers; “but that which is of the faith, etc.,” i.e., that justice which God gives on account of the faith one has in Jesus Christ; faith is the foundation of this justice or justness, and God is its author and giver.

The Jesu of the Vulgate here is not according to the best Greek.

Phil 3:10. That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death,

Returning to the thought of verse 8, the Apostle further explains the reasons and advantages of his rejection of Judaism with all its privileges.

Here in verse 10 he assigns a threefold end or purpose he had in seeking to “gain Christ” and to “be found in him,” having that justice which is through faith in Christ: (a) “that I may “know him,” i.e., that he might have an intimate, practical knowledge of Christ, God and man, the source of all knowledge and the model of all virtues; (b) that he might know “the power of his resurrection,” i.e., the power of the risen, glorified, immortal Christ, by whom we have been reconciled with God (Rom. 4:24-25), who is the earnest of our own resurrection (1 Cor. 15:20; 1 Thess. 4:14), and who has sent us the Holy Spirit with his manifold graces, thus uniting us intimately to Himself (John 7:9, 10:22; Acts 2:33); (c) that he might have “the fellowship of his sufferings, etc.,” i.e., that he might bear his own afflictions and sufferings for the sake of Christ, and with the help of Christ’s Holy Spirit, as his Master had borne His cross for him, and this he desires as a means of entering into a full, practical and fruitful knowledge here on earth of the risen, glorified Christ. The way to the living Christ is that marked out by Christ Himself: “H we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17); “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26).

Sufferings, patiently borne for Christ and in union with Christ, are the royal way that leads to Christ now reigning in glory after His triumph over sufferings and death through the power of His resurrection; and it is by thus entering upon and continuing in this way of suffering that one’s life becomes “conformable” to the death of the Master: “Always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodies” (2 Cor. 4:10).

Phil 3:11. If by any means I may attain to the resurrection which is from the dead.

The end and purpose of this fellowship with Christ’s sufferings and conformity to the Master’s death, and indeed of all that the Apostle has related from verse 7 to now, was that he might, by all his sacrifices and sufferings, attain to the glorious “resurrection which is from the dead,” by which in body and soul he would be made like to his glorified Redeemer and thereafter forever associated with Him.

The resurrection here in question is the General Resurrection of all the just at the end of time, of which Christ’s resurrection was the pledge. St. Paul’s hypothetical manner of speaking in this verse, “if by any means, etc.,” indicates the great difficulty of attaining to that blessed state and the consequent uncertainty connected with it, apart from the help of God.

Phil 3:12. Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect: but I follow after, if I may by any means apprehend, wherein I am also apprehended by Christ.

In Phil 3:12-17 the Apostle cites his own example as an exhortation to his readers that they should increase their efforts to attain Christian perfection. It might be concluded from all he has said (Phil 3:7-1 1) about his sacrifices in order to acquire justice before God, and about his sufferings in union with Christ in order to reach the supreme goal of life, that he had reached a state of perfection in which further effort is unnecessary. Hence he hastens to observe in this present verse that he has not yet attained to this perfection, that much remains to be done, that, far from resting on his merits, he is bending every effort, like the runners in the Greek stadium, to win his prize, which is fully and perfectly to possess Christ, who took strong and lasting possession of him at the time of his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3 ff.).

I follow after. Better, “I press on.”

The Jesu of the Vulgate is not in the best MSS.

Phil 3:13. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended. But one thing I do: forgetting the things that are behind, and stretching forth myself to those that are before,
Phil 3:14. I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus.

The thought of the preceding verse is amplified, again under the figure of the runners in the stadium. The Apostle tells the Philippians that, instead of considering himself perfect or to have reached his goal, he is using every energy, like an athlete in a contest, to press on to the mark and to win the prize, which for him is eternal life with Christ in heaven.

Forgetting the things, etc., i.e., not stopping to think of his labors, his virtues, his merits ; and “stretching forth, etc.,” i.e., ever seeking new opportunities for growth in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). The Greek word for “prize” is found only here and in 1 Cor. 9:24, in the New Testament; and it means eternal glory in both places. The “vocation” or call to this “supernal” or heavenly prize is from God the Father “in Christ,” i.e., through the merits of Christ.

Phil 3:15. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, be thus minded; and if in anything you be otherwise minded, this also God will reveal to you.

From the two preceding verses it may be inferred that there were some at Philippi who thought they had arrived at perfection, and that consequently they had nothing further to do in spiritual ways. If this was the case, we can see a touch of irony in the term “perfect” here; and the Apostle wishes to say: “Let those who think themselves perfect remember that religious perfection consists in a holy dissatisfaction with one’s present state, combined with a constant effort to press on.”

And if in anything you be otherwise minded, etc. He means to say that, if there were those who sincerely disagreed with him in this matter, God would yet enlighten them, either directly through the Holy Ghost, or through the teaching of their spiritual leaders.

Phil 3:16. Nevertheless whereunto we are come, that we be of the same mind, let us also continue in the same rule.

Nevertheless, etc., i.e., as to what we have already attained about divine things (Estius), or as to the standard of life we have so far reached, let us continue according to it, and press on. There is a slight difference between the Vulgate and the best Greek reading of this verse. According to the latter, the sense is: “While some of you may be in need of further light on certain points, I recommend that you order your lives in accordance with the truth you have so far attained, avoiding dissensions of any kind.” Of course, the Apostle uses the first person plural to soften his words.

Ut idem sapiamus of the Vulgate, while according to some less important Greek MSS., may be regarded as a gloss. Likewise the word regula. Our ordinary English version follows the Vulgate.

A WARNING AGAINST BAD EXAMPLE

A Summary of Philippains 3:17-21~St. Paul feels obliged to place before his readers as a standard of life and conduct his own example and that of his companions. He has warned them before with sorrow of those whose worldly excesses are a contradiction of their profession, who are enemies of the cross of Christ, and whose end is destruction. As a safeguard against such debasing influences, he reminds the Philippians of their high destiny as to their bodies as well as their souls; for their home is in heaven, whence in due time their Saviour will come to transform by His almighty power their present fleshy tabernacles into spiritual and imperishable bodies like His own.

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

And observe them who so walk, etc., i.e., take note of those Christians who live according to the model we have given them. The Apostle is referring to the example he and his companions and associates have given.

In the Vulgate imitatores should be co-imitatores, to agree with the Greek.

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

For many walk, etc. It Is disputed whether the “many” here means Judaizers or bad Christians, but most probably the latter are in question. Both indeed would be “enemies of the cross of Christ”—the former, by insisting on legal observances, for if justice is from the Law then Christ died in vain (Gal. 2:21), and the latter, by their moral excesses, for those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its vices and evil desires (Gal. 5:24). But it is much more natural to understand St. Paul to be moved to tears over those who had once been good Christians and had degenerated, than over those like the Judaizers who had never been true to Christ.

I have told you often, when at Philippi.

Whose end is destruction, i.e., for whom final and eternal ruin and loss is reserved. “Destruction” or perdition (ἀπώλεια = apōleia) here is the same as in Phil. 1:28. It means the utter loss of blessedness, the very antithesis of salvation; and as blessedness or salvation is eternal, so must be this “destruction” or perdition of the damned: “And these shall go into everlasting punishment; but the just, into life everlasting” (Matt. 25:46). See on 2 Thess. 1:9.

Whose glory is in their shame, i.e., who glory in the very things of which they ought to be ashamed. Those who think the Judaizers are meant here take “shame” to be circumcision (St. Augustine); St. Chrysostom thinks “shame” refers to sins of uncleanness.

Phil 3:20. But our conversation is in heaven: from whence also we look for the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ,

Having mentioned the characteristics of bad Christians, the Apostle will now give the marks of those who are faithful.

But. The Greek has γάρ (= gar)  here; but since St. Paul is contrasting the lives of good and bad Christians, the sense requires a particle of contrast, like “but” or “whereas”; the thought of this verse goes back to verse 17. The Greek, gar, is used primarily to assign a reason for something and is usually translated into English as  for, therefore, because, etc.

Our conversation, literally means “our manner of living,” but the Apostle means “our home,” “our country”; the true Christian walks the earth, but his thoughts, aims, hopes, and desires are in heaven and in things that lead thereto.

We look for. Better, “we eagerly expect,” as with “outstretched neck and upturned eyes” (Rickaby).

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.

The true Christian looks forward to the glorious time of his complete deliverance, both of body and of soul; when Christ will come at the end of the world and transform our present miserable, suffering bodies into glorious, immortal temples like His own glorified body (1 Cor. 15:40-49); when the risen Saviour will exercise that power in our regard by which, as God, He will rule and dominate all things (1 Cor. 15:25-27).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians Chapter 2

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 29, 2018

AN EXHORTATION TO HUMILITY

A Summary of Philippians 2:1-11~In verse 27 of the preceding Chapter St. Paul exhorted the Philippians to unity of thought and action in their efforts for the spread of the Gospel, and here (Phil 2:1-4) he goes back to that thought and appeals to his readers in still more earnest tones that they should make full his joy by the practice and cultivation of complete unity and harmony among them. This relationship of concord among brethren, he goes on to say, must be grounded on humility, on lowliness of mind. And since in the pagan world humility was despised as a sign of degradation, as an abject and groveling state suited only to the condition of slaves, he cites (Phil 2:5-11) the supreme example of Christ who, though He was the Son of the eternal God Himself, took on Himself for our salces the form of a lowly servant, even that of an outcast dying the most ignominious of deaths; and who in return for His extreme self-humiliation merited an exaltation above all other names, whether in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, that, namely, of supreme Lordship of the world.

Phil 2:1. If there be therefore any comfort in Christ, if any consolation of  charity, if any fellowship of the spirit, if any bowels of commiseration,
Phil 2:2. Fulfill ye my joy, that you be of one mind, having the same charity, being of one accord, agreeing in sentiment.

It seems St. Paul must have learned that there were at Philippi some discordant elements among the Christians, arising from ambition, pride, vainglory, self- seeking, and the like; and hence he appeals to them by the deepest spiritual sentiments and relationships between him and them to complete his happiness and joy by exhibiting towards one another a spirit of concord and mutual charity. He piles up his reasons of appeal in rhetorical fashion, introducing each member by “if,” not as though he doubted their state of mind and heart, but only to strengthen his exhortation. He means to say: “If there be any comfort in the fact that you are Christians, if there be any consolation which charity can inspire, if there be any reality in the common spiritual benefits and blessings we enjoy in the Holy Ghost, if there be in you any tender feelings of mercy and compassion; then complete the joy I have in you by thinking alike, by exercising mutual charity towards one another, by having one soul and mind in all you do.” Of the phrases in verse 2 inculcating unity, Vaughan says St. Paul has multiplied them in a “tautology of earnestness.”

Phil 2:3. Let nothing be done through contention, neither by vain glory: but in humility, let each esteem others better than himself;

Here the Apostle indicates the obstacles to unity and concord of spirit, namely, “contention,” i.e., a spirit of partisanship or faction, and “vain glory,” i.e., the inordinate seeking of one’s own interests and self-praise. Instead of being moved by such unworthy impulses in their dealings with their neighbor, the Apostle urges that they be guided by the Christian virtue of “humility,” which will teach them to see the good that it in everybody else while making them conscious of their own defects, and will thus lead each one of them to “esteem others better than himself.” There is no one so good as not to have some defects, and no one so bad as to be devoid of all good qualities; and hence if we keep in mind our own faults, on the one hand, and the good traits of our neighbor, on the other hand, it is easy to esteem others better than ourselves (St. Thomas, h. l.).

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

The Apostle gives another means of exercising fraternal charity, and thus of promoting unity, namely, sympathy and a kindly interest in the affairs of others.

The Vulgate sed ea, quæ, etc., should read, sed et ea, quæ, etc., to agree with the Greek; which shows that, while looking after our own affairs with due attention, we should also take a helpful interest in things that concern others.

Phil 2:5.  For let this feeling be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

In verses 5-11 St. Paul will illustrate and enforce the doctrine he has been inculcating by the supreme example of the Saviour in His voluntary incarnation, humiliation, and exaltation. Though issuing from a practical exhortation, the passage is profound in its doctrinal teaching and unsurpassed in its theological importance. In these few verses we have summed up the whole history of Christ—His nature and eternity as God, His incarnation with its humiliating consequences, and His glorious triumph and exaltation. The fact that St. Paul, in order to enforce some of the simplest moral duties, makes an appeal to such profound mysteries shows, on the one hand, the natural and intimate connection between Christian theological teaching and practical Christian life; and, on the other hand, how thorough and profound must have been the instruction given the early Christians by the Apostles and how these great doctrines of the divinity, incarnation, etc., of Christ formed a part of that instruction, and were, at the writing of this letter, apparently so well understood as to need only to be stated in their broad outlines to be grasped in their meaning and application.

Let this mind, etc. The enim of the Vulgate at the beginning of this verse is not represented in the best Greek. The Apostle wishes to say that, if his readers will have the same attitude of mind and soul which our Lord had at the time of His incarnation, all that he has requested in the verses just preceding will be easily and readily complied with.

In Christ Jesus, i.e., in the Divine Person who was God from eternity, who was eternally predestined by the Eternal Father as the Christ to be, and who became incarnate in time to save mankind from their sins.

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

Jesus Christ is here described in His eternal, pre-existent life as God.

Who refers to the single Personality, who is one and the same both in His pre-existence and in His earthly life.

Being (ὑπάρχων = hyparchon). The Greek participle emphasizes the preexistence of Christ.

In the form of God, i.e., having the nature, essence, inward being of God; for such is the meaning of “form” (μορφῇ = morphe) here. Thus, before His incarnation Christ, or the Divine Person who became the Christ, pre-existed in the Divine Nature, as the eternal Son of the eternal Father.

Thought. This is a human way of expressing the Son’s attitude regarding the surrender of His position of equality with God in order to become man; not that He actually gave up anything that belonged to Him as God, but that His Divine Person in the incarnation took upon Himself the lowly form of human nature.

Robbery. The Greek word for “robbery” (ἁρπαγμὸν = harpagmon) occurs only here in the Greek Bible, and may mean (a) the act of robbing or seizing by force; or (b) the matter of robbery, or thing to be seized. The latter is the meaning here, and it conveys the idea of holding to a thing with a tenacity and jealousy that would make one unwilling to surrender it. There is no question here of unlawful possession, but only of anxiously clinging to what rightfully belongs to one. The sense of the whole phrase is that the eternal Son, at the prospect of His becoming man, did not so cling to His dignity and equality with God the Father in His divine nature as to be unwilling to become incarnate, thus assuming an inferior state as man.

Fr. Rickaby says the phrase “equal to God,” or “on equality with God,” does not regard the relation of the Son to the Father, but the relation of the Word to the nature which He chose as man; and he explains οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν (= ouch harpagmon) as (He) “made no hurry.” In his view the passage means that our Lord did not at once insist on appearing as man in His glorified human nature, but delayed it till after His Resurrection (Further Notes on St. Paul, h. l.).

Having spoken of the divine nature and dignity of the Son, the Apostle will speak in the two following verses of His humiliation in His earthly life.

Phil 2:7.  Yet emptied himself out, taking the form of a slave, made into the likeness of men, and was found in habit as man.

But emptied himself, by becoming man, by taking for a time an external human form which veiled, as it were, the Divinity that He possessed as God, and deprived Him of the external prerogative of glory to which as God He always retained His right. On this phrase, “he emptied himself,” St. Thomas says: “Hoc est intelligendum secundum assumptionem eius quod non habuit; sicut enim descendit de coelo, non quod desineret esse in coelo, sed quia incepit novo modo esse in terra, sic etiam se exinanivit, non deponendo divinam naturam, sed assumendo naturam humanam.” (But this must be understood in regard to the assumption of what He had not, and not according to the assumption of what He had. For just as He descended from heaven, not that He ceased to exist in heaven, but because He began to exist in a new way on earth, so He also emptied Himself, not by putting off His divine nature, but by assuming a human nature). How the Son “emptied himself” (kenosis), the Apostle describes in the three phrases that follow:

(a) by “taking the form of a servant,” literally, “of a slave,” i.e., taking the nature of man. With regard to God all creatures are servants or slaves, even the angels. The word “form” here is the same as in verse 6 above, and hence means nature, essence, etc.;

(b) by “being made in the likeness of men,” i.e., appearing like other men, since He had the same nature as other men. The Divine Word, without ceasing to be God, assumed human nature, uniting the natures of God and of man in the one Divine Person, and appeared externally just like other men;

(c) by “being in habit found as a man,” i.e., being recognized as a man in His outward form and manner of acting by all His compatriots and associates (e.g., by eating, drinking, etc., like other men). In the preceding verse the Apostle affirmed the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and here he affirms the true humanity of the same Divine Person, shovi^ing that Christ was both true God and true man. Cf. Sales, h. I.

Phil 2:8. He humbled himself, being made obedient even to death, and the death of the cross. 

Having described the way in which the Divine Word emptied Himself, the Apostle will now show the extreme humility and self-abasement to which He subjected Himself in the human nature which He assumed: He became “obedient” to the will of His heavenly Father “unto death,” and that, not an ordinary death, but one of shame and horror, namely, “the death of the cross.” The expression “unto death” expresses the degree of His obedience. St. Paul wishes his readers to learn from this example of full and supreme self- abnegation on the part of their Master the humility, charity, and self-denial that will bring them peace and concord.

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

In verses 9-1 1 we have a description of the exaltation of our Lord, corresponding to His kenosis. We have already seen the extreme degree to which He emptied and humiliated Himself in obedience to the will of His eternal Father, and now we shall see what recompense He received.

For which cause, etc., i.e., as a reward for our Lord’s extreme and voluntary abasement He was exalted by the Eternal Father to a dignity beyond any that exists or can exist below the Divinity Itself. That our Lord merited this supreme exaltation. He Himself declared on the day of His resurrection: “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26). His own great saying was fulfilled in His case: “He that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt 23:12; Luke 14:11, 18:14).

Hath exalted him, above all other creatures, placing Him in the highest position of honor and authority next to the Godhead (cf. Eph 1:21 ff.; Col 3:1; Heb 1:13; Rom 8:34, 14:19; etc.).

Name stands here for power, dignity, majesty; and therefore a name “above all names” means a dignity and a majesty greater than anything that is possible below the Divinity Itself. By “name” here the Apostle does not refer to our Lord’s proper name, Jesus, which was given Him long before His exaltation and was recognized by men, and which was common to many other men (Estius).

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

The purpose of the exaltation of Jesus is now given.

That in the name of Jesus, etc., i.e., so great a dignity and honor was bestowed on our Lord in order that all creatures might bow before His revealed majesty and adore Him as Lord of the world and Saviour of mankind.

Every knee should bow is a phrase signifying supreme adoration (cf. Isa 14:24; Rom 14:11; Eph 3:14). The human nature of Christ, as being hypostatically united to the Word, deserves the same adoration as the Divinity of the Word Itself.

Of those that are in heaven, etc., i.e., of angels in heaven, of men on earth, and of those who are in their graves (Theodoret), and even of the demons (St. Chrysostom). Most likely all created things are in view here. See Rev 5:12 ff., James 2:19, for references to all creatures, including the demons. The phrase “under the earth” means the underworld, the realm of the dead, of discarnate spirits. The pious custom of bowing the head at the mention of the name Jesus has at least indirect sanction from this verse.

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

The same thought is continued and developed.

That every tongue, etc., i.e., that all nations and peoples shall praise and honor the Son as they do the Father, recognizing the same glory in the Son as in the Father, as is said in John 5:23. But the Greek of this passage is as follows: “That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” In this reading the direct object of the confession is the universal sovereignty and therefore the Divinity of our Lord, and such a confession or recognition of the Son is ordained to the glory of the Father as to its last end: it is to the glory of the Father to have a Son to whom all things are subjected (Theophylact), the praise of Christ the Lord is to the glory of the Father (Estius). Thus, our Lord Himself said: “Father, the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee” (John 17:1).

In verses 5-1 1 here we have the following dear teachings: (a) the Divinity of Jesus Christ and His consubstantiality with the Father; (b) the true humanity of Christ; (c) the union of two natures in the one Divine Person; (d) the merit of our Lord’s sacrificial obedience and death. In consequence we also have here the refutation of the following errors: (a) Arianism, which denied the consubstantiality and equality of the Son with the Father; (b) Sabellianism, which denied the plurality of persons in God; (c) Nestorianism, which held that there were two persons in Jesus Christ; (d) Eutychianism, which taught only one nature in Christ; (e) Docetism, which attributed to our Lord a fantastic and not a real body; (f) Apollinarism, which said the body of Christ was not like our bodies. Cf. St. Thomas, h. l.

EXHORTATION TO PERSEVERANCE IN HOLINESS

A Summary of Philippians 2:12-18~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 2:12. Wherefore, my beloved (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence), with fear and trembling work out your salvation..

Wherefore. The Apostle deduces a practical conclusion from what he has been saying about the self-denial and obedience of Christ. He first praises his beloved Philippians for the obedience they have always shown in being faithful to his teachings and the precepts of the Gospel, and then goes on to exhort them to still greater faithfulness and efforts in his absence, because their perils are increased by the very fact that he is not present to warn them of dangers and to prescribe remedies and helps as he did when with them. They must work out their salvation “with fear and trembling,” i.e., with great solicitude for their own spiritual welfare and a reverential fear of offending God. In thus admonishing his readers the Apostle was only prescribing what he practised in his own case, as we see in 1 Cor. 9:27, 10:12. From this exhortation it is clear that we can co-operate with the grace of God in effecting our salvation, and also that no one can be absolutely sure, without a special divine revelation, of persevering to the end in God’s favor.

Phil 2:13. For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.

The Apostle now adds the reason why they are to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, namely, because the business of their salvation is not simply a matter of their own strength, but depends on God both as to its wish and accomplishment, so that without the grace of God they can neither desire nor do anything in the way of supernatural salvation. Thus it is the grace of God that produces in us “to will” (i.e., the efficacious determination to perform supernatural good) and “to accomplish” (i.e., the execution of that determination); and this grace God gives, not because He is obliged to give it, but because it is His “good will” (i.e., it is an act of pure benevolence on His part). It follows, then, that God can withdraw this grace if we are unfaithful to it.

And this efficacious movement on the part of God, far from destroying our liberty, presupposes it, otherwise the Apostle could not have just told his readers to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. On this subject St. Augustine says: “Certum est nos velle cum volumus, sed ille facit ut velimus bonum. . . . Certum est nos facere cum facimus, sed ille facit ut facimus praebendo vires efficacissimas voluntati . . . et ipse ut velimus operatur incipiens, qui volentibus cooperatur perficiens. . . . Ut ergo velimus sine nobis operatur, cum autem volumus et sic volumus ut faciamus nobiscum cooperatur, tamen sine illo vel operante ut velimus vel cooperante cum volumus, ad bona pietatis opera nihil valemus” (On Nature and Grace, chapters 32-33).  [It is certain that we wish when we wish; but He (God) brings it about that we wish the good thing….It is certain that it is we that act when we act; but it is He (God) who makes us act, by applying efficacious powers to our will…He (God) who prepares the will, and perfects by His (God’s) co-operation….operates, therefore, without us, in order that we may will; but when we will, and so will that we may act, He (God) co-operates with us. We can, however, ourselves do nothing to effect good works of piety without Him (God) either working that we may will, or co-working when we will.]

In these two verses, 12 and 13, the Apostle teaches the following: (a) that of ourselves we cannot be sure of persevering in good; (b) that faith without works is not sufficient for salvation; (c) that good works can merit salvation; (d) that these good works are done by our free will; (e) that free will is not sufficient of itself to perform good works, but must be moved by grace, without which we can do nothing useful for eternal life (see Cone. Trid., sess. VI, De justipcatione) . Cf. Sales, h. I.

Phil 2:14. And do ye all things without murmurings and disputings;
Phil 2:15. That you may become blameless, and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation ; among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Phil 2:16. Holding forth the word of life to my glory in the day of Christ, because I have not run in vain, nor labored in vain.

As contributing to the work of their salvation, therefore, the Apostle now admonishes his readers to avoid all “murmurings” against God because of their lot as Christians, and all “disputings” and wranglings with one another about the ways of divine providence; so that their lives may be an example to the pagans among whom they live and a shining light in the moral darkness that surrounds them. Thus they will be living as becomes their dignity as “children of God” (i.e., as Christians), and will be “holding forth the word of life” (i.e., the teachings of the Gospel) as the sure and safe guide to the true and only real life (John 6:6, 9; Acts 5:20;  1 Jn 1:1); and this will rebound to the glory of their Apostle, showing that he has not labored for them in vain, when Christ comes to judge all mankind at the end of the world.

Phil 2:17. Yea, and if I be made a victim upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and congratulate with you all.
Phil 2:18. And for the selfsame thing, do you also rejoice, and congratulate with me.

St. Paul expected to see the Philippians again, but he speaks here as if he considered his execution a possibility; and in that event he says that, even if he is to “be made a victim, etc.” (better, “to be poured out” as a libation over the “sacrifice and service” of their faith) he will rejoice, and he assumes that they will also rejoice with him, as sharing his spirit of martyrdom. St. Paul is picturing the Philippians, in their character as Christian believers, as a “sacrifice”; he regards their lives as a “service” or sacerdotal ritual; and he is looking upon his own life-blood, in his possible martyrdom, as an accompanying libation. His figurative language may refer to the Jewish sacrifices or to the pagan sacrifices, with both of which his converts must have been familiar.

ST. PAUL IS GOING TO SEND TIMOTHY AND EPAPHRODITUS TO PHILIPPI

A Summary of Philippians 2:19-30~In this familiar letter the Apostle has given his readers advice, he has written about himself—what he hopes and fears as regards his future—and now he speaks of the two faithful disciples whom he is sending to Philippi. Timothy, his most reliable coworker, who is also deeply interested in the Philippians and well known to them, will come as soon as St. Paul learns how things are going to turn out in his own case; and then he himself hopes to come before long (Phil 2:19-24). He is sending to them at once Epaphroditus, who has been so kind and helpful to him, and who for the sake of the Gospel has been seriously ill, as they know to their sorrow. May they be cheered by his coming, may they receive him with gladness, and honor all such self-sacrificing workers for God (Phil 2:25-30)!

Phil 2:19. And I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy unto you shortly, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know the things concerning you.

In the Lord. All Paul’s hopes, thoughts, emotions, activities, etc., repose in divine help.

Timothy, who had helped to found the Church at Philippi (Acts 16:3 ff).

Shortly, i.e., as soon as Paul knows the outcome of his trial.

Phil 2:20. For I have no man so of the same mind, who with sincere affection is solicitous for you.

He now gives the reason why he will send Timothy, namely, because he has no one “so of the same mind, etc.,” i.e., no one who can equal Timothy in zeal and solicitude for the welfare of the Philippians. Paul is not comparing Timothy with himself, at least directly, but with his other workers; Timothy excels them all in interest for the faithful of Philippi, and in that respect of course he more closely resembles his great master.

Phil 2:21. For all seek the things that are their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s.

A further reason is given for sending Timothy.

For all seek, etc. The Apostle is referring to his immediate circle of workers, most of whom apparently had not always shown the spirit of utter self-denial and self-forgetfulness which his own invincible character demanded: they were inclined at times to seek their personal ease and safety. Perhaps he had Demas and those like him in mind (2 Tim. 4:10; cf. Col. 4:14; Phlm. 24).

Phil 2:22. And ye know the proof of him, that as a son with the father, so hath he served with me in the gospel.
Phil 2:23. Him therefore I hope to send unto you immediately, as soon as I see how it will go with me.

Phil 2:24. And I trust in the Lord, that I myself also shall come to you shortly.

And ye know the proof of him, i.e., they know his worth from his zealous labors with St. Paul at Philippi (Acts 16:3, 17:14-15).

As soon as I see, etc., i.e., as soon as he knows the issue of his Roman trial. He expects to be released, and then he will follow Timothy to Philippi.

Phil 2:25. But I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-laborer, and fellow-soldier, but your apostle, and he hath ministered to my wants.

The Apostle begins here to speak of Epaphroditus, whom the Philippians had sent to Rome with gifts (Phil 4:18), and whom he now considers it “necessary” to send back to Philippi for the reasons given below in Phil 2:26-27.

Epaphroditus is mentioned only here and in iv. 18. St. Paul speaks of him as a “fellow-soldier,” i.e., a companion in the battle against the enemy of souls and the faith. He was the Philippians’ “apostle,” i.e., their messenger to St. Paul in Rome.

Phil 2:26. For indeed he longed after you all: and was sad, for that you had heard that he was sick.
Phil 2:27. For indeed he was sick, nigh unto death ; but God had mercy on him; and not only on him, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

These verses assign the reason for the return of Epaphroditus to Philippi. He desires to return for he knows the Philippians are anxious about him, and St. Paul wishes him to go back for the same reason. Had death taken him in his illness, another great sorrow would have been added to the sorrows of the Apostle’s imprisonment.

Phil 2:28. Therefore I am sending him the more speedily: that seeing him again, you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful.

Less sorrowful. His soul was never free from sorrow. Hence he says “less sorrowful,” not “without sorrow.” St. Paul is more concerned over the happiness of the Philippians than over his own; to add to their joy will mean more to him than to retain the presence and helpfulness of their messenger to him, much as he desires the latter.

Phil 2:29. Receive him therefore with all joy in the Lord; and treat with honor such as he is;

Treat with honor, etc., i.e., hold in high esteem all such zealous and loyal Gospel-workers.

Phil 2:30. Because for the work of Christ he came to the point of death, hazarding his life, that he might fulfill that which on your part was wanting towards my service.

The work of Christ, i.e., the long journey to Rome and the labors and fatigue endured at Rome in behalf of St. Paul and the Gospel.

Hazarding, etc. Literally, “gambling, etc.,” i.e., he risked his life in order to supply by personal effort what it was impossible for the Philippians to do for St. Paul in the eternal city, and which in their enforced absence they required him to discharge in their name.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Philippians Chapter 1

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 29, 2018

Text in red are my additions 

INSCRIPTION AND GREETING
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.

THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER FOR THE PHILIPPIANS
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).

Phil 1:3. I give thanks to my God in every remembrance of you,
Phil 1:4. 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.”

Phil 1:5. 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.

Phil 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.

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.

Phil 1:7. 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.

Phil 1:8. 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.

Phil 1:9. 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.

Phil 1:10. 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.

Phil 1:11. 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.

 

Phil 1:12-4:9 Summary of the Body of the Epistle

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 (Eph 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).

Phil 1:12-26 THE APOSTLE’S IMPRISONMENT HAS BEEN USEFUL FOR THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL IN ROME 

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 1:12. Now, brethren, I desire you should know that the things which have happened to me have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel:

St. Paul wishes the brethren of Philippi to know that his imprisonment, with all its circumstances and consequences, instead of being a damage to the spread of the Gospel and a knowledge of its teachings, has had rather the opposite effect; it has made the Gospel better known, as he will now explain.

Phil 1:13. So that my bonds are made manifest in Christ, in all the court, and in all other places:

In the first place, the Apostle’s imprisonment has become known in its true significance, as the result of preaching Christ as the promised Messiah and the Saviour of the whole world; he is a prisoner not on account of any crime that he has committed, not out of politics in which he has been implicated, but on account of his identification with the cause of Christ. And this real cause of his imprisonment has become known “in all the court” (better, “throughout the whole praetorian guard”), through the many soldiers who successively relieved one another in guarding the Apostle and to each of whom he and his cause became well known and advertised “in all other places” (better, “to every one else besides,” i.e., to the whole imperial city, generally speaking).

We have taken “in Christ” to mean in the cause of Christ, for the sake of Christ; but it can also mean “through Christ,” i.e., by the counsel and provision of Christ. Taken in this latter sense, the meaning would be that it was by Christ’s divine intervention, though all unseen, that the real cause of St. Paul’s imprisonment became widely known, and through this a knowledge of the Gospel spread abroad. Other explanations of “in all the court” are less likely.

Phil 1:14. And many of the brethren in the Lord, growing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Another salutary effect of the Apostle’s chains was the infusion of fresh energy into “many” (better, “the majority”) of the Christians in Rome who, having become timid and remiss in theirpreaching and work for the Evangel, now beholding the zeal and intrepitude of their fettered Apostle were exhibiting more energy and fearlessness than ever before in behalf of the Gospel’s saving truths.

Brethren in the Lord means Christians, as distinguished from Paul’s brethren in the flesh, the Jews.

There is sufficient MSS. evidence for omitting Dei of the Vulgate, as a gloss explanatory of verbum.

Phil 1:15. Some indeed, even out of envy and contention; but some also for good will preach Christ.

Not all these preachers, however, were animated by the same spirit.

Some may refer to Christian Judaizers, who, while not denying at this time at least any point of revealed doctrine, were nevertheless contending that the Mosaic observances were the necessary gateway to the full benefits and perfect blessings of Christianity, and who, witnessing the greater fame and success of Paul, were moved with “envy” to emulate his influence and his preaching from prison. But more likely these “some” were just certain members of the Christian community of Rome who were ambitious and jealous of Paul, a stranger who in so short a time had so great an influence (cf. Lemonnyer, Ep. de S. Paul, II partie, pp. lo-ii). Certainly, whatever these preachers were contending for, there was no question at this time of a preaching of false doctrine on the part of St. Paul’s opponents, otherwise he could never have rejoiced over their work for Christ (ver. 18); the Apostle had not forgotten what he had previously written to the Galatians, 1:6-9; 3:1 ff. But there were other preachers who were altogether in sympathy with the Apostle, and who were inspired by the zeal and influence of his prison labors in behalf of the Gospel to greater eflPorts in their own respective fields, thus affording added joy and consolation to the Apostle’s heart.

Good will here means sympathy for the things of God.

Phil 1:16. Some out of charity, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel;
Phil 1:17. And some out of contention preach Christ not sincerely, supposing that they raise affliction to my bonds.

In these two verses the Apostle explains the motives by which the two classes just mentioned were moved, the one to support and the other to oppose his preaching.

The order of these verses, 16 and 17, is inverted in some MSS., but the great weight of authority favors the order of the Vulgate.

Some out of charity, etc., i.e., some of those preachers proclaimed the Gospel out of love for St. Paul, knowing the divine commission he had received, etc.; but the others had a bad motive, being moved by a spirit of partisanship or intriguing (ἐξ ἐριθείας = ex erittheias), and so tried to lessen the Apostle’s popularity and influence and keep hearers away from him, thus adding to his “affliction,” i.e., the distress of being in prison, and so unable to go out and seek his audience and refute his opponents.

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 Phil 1:20-23, 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.

Phil 1:27-30 AN EXHORTATION TO LIVE GOOD LIVES AND TO CONTINUE THE GOOD FIGHT FOR THE GOSPEL

At the close of the previous section St. Paul seemed to express the likelihood of seeing the Philippians again; but here he exhorts them to be good citizens and live worthily of the Gospelwhether he sees them again or not. He wants them to be united in mind and action in their fight for the saving truths they profess and not to fear their adversaries, being assured that final victory will be theirs. They are suffering for Christ’s sake, and are waging the same conflict which they beheld in their Apostle when he was in Philippi and which still is his in Rome, as they know.

Phil 1:27. Only let your conduct 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 laboring together for the faith of the gospel.

Just above the Apostle has spoken of his own condition and prospects. Now he turns to the Philippians and tells them there is only one thing that will trouble him, and that is if he should hear something bad about them and their conduct. Wherefore he says: “Let your conduct be worthy, etc.,”—literally, “let your citizenship be worthy, etc.,” i.e., conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ, as citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20).

In one spirit, i.e., in unity of mind, heart, and way of acting, as a result of the grace of the one Holy Spirit dwelling within you. Some take “spirit” here to mean the Holy Ghost directly, and refer to 1 Cor. 12:13, Eph. 2:18, where the identical phrase here used is doubtless to be understood of the Holy Spirit. The effect will be the same in either opinion, as St. Paul is speaking of religious conduct.

Laboring, better, “striving” or “contending.” The metaphor is drawn from the prize-seeking contests in the amphitheatre.

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

The Apostle now tells the Philippians not to be “terrified by the adversaries,” i.e., the idol-worshippers and Jews of Philippi who persecute them, but to face them with courage and steadfastness. Their calm fortitude, he says, since they are contending for the eternal truth of the Gospel, will be, in the nature of things, “a sure sign” of the ultimate overthrow of their foes and of their own spiritual triumph.

Others explain “a sure sign” thus: the persecutions which they inflict on you will be for them a cause of perdition and for you a source of profit and salvation. The first explanation seems preferable, and appears to imply that the opponents themselves are inwardly persuaded of the final loss of their cause. At best the passage is obscure.

And this refers to the whole idea previously expressed, namely, their constancy in the face of opposition, which is not from their own strength, but “from God,” i.e., the gift of God.

Phil 1:29. For unto you it is given for Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him;

In the preceding verse St. Paul encouraged the faithful by saying that their very constancy in fighting and enduring for the Gospel was an evident token of their eternal salvation; and here he bids them be reassured in the great privilege they enjoy as a gift of God, not only in believing in Christ, but in having the high honor “also to sufifer for him,” i.e., in His behalf. If they suffer for Christ and with Christ, they will also be crowned with Him.

Phil 1:30. Having the same conflict as that which you have seen in me, and now hear to be still mine.

Finally, the Apostle encourages his readers by reminding them that in their sufferings they are sharing the lot experienced by him, the founder of their Church, when he first preached the Gospel in their city (Acts 16:20 ff.), and which he has been enduring in Rome, as they “now hear,” very likely from Epaphroditus, the bearer of this letter.

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Father Callan’s Introduction to Philippians

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 29, 2018

INTRODUCTION TO ST PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS

1. The City of Philippi. 

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 JEgean 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 Aegean 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 i68 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 Caesarto 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, 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 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.

2. The Church of Philippi.

St. Paul came to Philippi from Troas during the first part of his second missionary journey, around 51 A.D. (cf. Acts 16:11 ff.). His companions were Silas from Antioch (Acts 15:40), Timothy from Lystra (Acts 16:1), and very likely Luke from Troas—as we gather from Acts 16:10, where the first person plural begins to appear in the narrative. The Apostle was accustomed to begin his preaching in the houses of Jewish worship, but Philippi seems to have had no synagogue, so few and unimportant were the Jews there. On the Sabbath day a little company of worshippers gathered for prayer beyond the city gates on the bank of the River Gangites, and when St. Paul appeared to address them he found that only a few devout women made up the assembly. Of these the first to respond to his preaching was a Gentile lady by the name of Lydia, a seller of purple from Thyatira in Asia, who was living in Philippi for commercial purposes. She was soon followed by the whole family of which she was the mistress, and her house became the home of St. Paul and the centre of the Christian community of the town (Acts 16:13-15). Among the other women attracted by the new preaching was a slave girl, who, for the profit of her masters, discharged the functions of an oracle, giving answers to questions under a kind of inspiration or faculty of divining. As she annoyed Paul by acclaiming him as he daily passed by to the place of prayer, the Apostle finally turned and exorcised her; and the spirit of divination left her, and she became a devout Christian. But the girl’s masters, stirred by their pecuniary loss, brought Paul and Silas before the magistrates of the city, and had them scourged and cast into prison. The innocence of the two prisoners, however, was vindicated the first night by an earthquake which nearly destroyed the prison and was the occasion of converting the Roman jailer and his whole family. The magistrates also learning that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, whom it was unlawful to scourge, sent their lictors to the prison to release the prisoners. At St. Paul’s demand they acknowledged their error, but besought him and his companions to leave the town. This they consented to do after a meeting of the brethren in the house of Lydia (Acts 16:16-40), while leaving Luke behind to look after the newly founded but flourishing Church of Philippi.

It is worthy of note that the Philippian Church was composed mostly of Gentile converts, and that the earliest of these were women. The female element seems to have continued strong there, as we may gather from Phil. 4:2-3; and this may account for the absence of doctrinal disputes in the Church, and especially for the great kindness the Philippians always manifested toward St. Paul. They were poor themselves, but at Paul’s request they collected money for the poor saints in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8:3), they sent gifts to Paul when he was in Thessalonica and in Corinth (2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 4:15-16), and again when he was a prisoner in Rome (Phil. 4:18).

St. Paul’s next visits to Philippi were some years later, while on his third missionary journey. The first was doubtless when passing through Macedonia on his way from Ephesus to Corinth, perhaps in the early summer of 57 a.d. (1 Cor. 16:8; Acts 19:23 ff., Acts 20:1 ff.), though we are not told explicitly of this visit. It is very probable that it was at Philippi that St. Paul waited in anxiety for the arrival of Titus from Corinth, and there wrote 2 Cor. after the arrival of Titus (2 Cor. 2:12-13, 7:5-6, 8:1, 9:2, 4). The third visit occurred the next spring when St. Paul, returning from Corinth through Macedonia, arrived at Phihppi in time for the Passover, there joined Luke again (as we conclude from the resumption of the “we passages” in Acts), and then continued his journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20:5 ff.)- This is the last recorded visit of the Apostle to the Philippian Church, but we may pretty safely assume from the Pastoral Epistles that he paid a subsequent visit there during his eastern travels, after being released from his first Roman captivity, when journeying from Ephesus to Macedonia (1 Tim. 1:3). In fact, 2 Tim. 4:13 seems to point to another and still later visit to Philippi.

The next time we hear of the Church of Philippi is in the first part of the second century, when St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, having been condemned to death as a Christian, passed that way on his journey to Rome, where he was to be thrown to the wild beasts. We know from his Epistles that his route lay through Philadelphia, Smyrna, and Troas. From the last town, like St. Paul, he must have passed over to Neapolis, and thence by the Via. Egnatia to Philippi. On his departure the Philippians wrote a letter to the faithful of Antioch, consoling them for the loss of their Bishop, and another letter to his friend Polycarp of Smyrna, asking him for as many of Ignatius’ letters written in Asia Minor as could be spared. Our knowledge of these events is derived from St. Polycarp’s reply to the Philippians, which is still extant. The subsequent history of the Church of Philippi is unimportant, especially for our purpose here.
 
3. Occasion, Purpose, and Character of This Letter.

As said above, the Philippians possessed and always retained a particular affection for and interest in St. Paul, due perhaps to the influence from the beginning of devout women in the Church there. Although not at all well-to-do themselves, they sent the Apostle money on different occasions, as we have seen, and when they learned of his imprisonment in Rome they sent Epaphroditus to him with gifts and instructions to minister to his needs (Phil. 2:25-29, 4:18), and to report on the condition of the Church at Philippi. Paul was naturally very much delighted at the arrival of the beloved envoy and the practical testimony he conveyed of continued devotion and love on the part of the Philippians for their Apostle and founder —affection which had already been shown repeatedly by the same community. The report given of the Church at Philippi seems also to have been pleasing and generally satisfactory.

Not long after his arrival in Rome Epaphroditus fell seriously ill, much to the distress of St. Paul as well as the Philippians, but fortunately recovered in due time. As soon as he v^as well again, the Apostle hastened to send him back to his home (Phil. 2:26-30), giving him at the same time this letter to the faithful and heads of the Church at Philippi. The letter is an intimate expression of joy and gratitude for the help given the Apostle by the Philippians and for the loving sentiments that prompted it. But intermingled with these familiar outpourings of the heart are a number of moral reflections and exhortations, based on the example of Christ and in conformity with the teachings of the Gospel, particularly with regard to charity and concord among all the faithful (Phil. 1:9-11, 26 ff., 2:1-8, 13, 14, 16). St. Paul seemed especially disturbed over the misunderstandings between Evodia and Syntyche, two prominent women in the Church (Phil. 4:2 ff.), and this is a distinct indication of the influence of the female element among the faithful at Philippi. He warns also against the evil influence, actual or possible, of Judaizers, and of those whose life is a scandal, and who make a god of their belly (Phil. 3:2-4, 18, 19). There is still another passage in this Epistle which seems to point to some keen disappointment at the lack of zeal and self-sacrifice manifested by some of the Apostle’s co-workers; Timothy appears to be the only one that comes up to the high standard of his requirements (Phil. 2:19-23).

Since the letter is so very personal and familiar, these observations and counsels do not follow any particular order, but are set down just as they occur to the Apostle as he writes. This Epistle is one of the most intimate of St. Paul’s writings. Here he addresses his tried and trusted friends, and we get an idea of the overflowing affection which was natural to him and one of the secrets of his genius for friendship. He is deeply grateful for the gifts and the love of the Philippians, but his acknowledgment is restrained by his sense of duty as their Apostle and counsellor (Phil. 4:10-20).

4.Date and Place of Writing. 

This aspect of the present Epistle has been sufficiently discussed under the similar heading in the Introduction to Ephesians. It is enough to say here that the weight of argument and of authority shows that this letter was written from Rome during Paul’s first captivity there (61-63 a.d.), either before or after the writing of the other Captivity Epistles—Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon. Whether this letter preceded or followed those other Captivity Epistles is earnestly disputed, but without any convincing conclusion one way or the other. For a summary of the arguments on both sides see Moule, Introd. To Philipplans, pp. 15 ff.

5. Authenticity and Integrity.

All antiquity is unanimous in accepting the authenticity and integrity of this Epistle. Apart from quotations from it or references to it in the writings of Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, The Shepherd of Hernias, etc. (cf. Cornely, Introduction, vol. IV, p. 491 ; Toussaint, Philippiens in Diet, de la Bible), we have St. Polycarp early in the second century writing to the Philippians and speaking explicitly of the letter or letters (cViorroAai) St. Paul had sent them, some passages of which Polycarp quotes in his own letter. Marcion included it in his Canon, and the Muratorian Fragment, Irenseus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian expressly attribute it to St. Paul. After Tertullian the testimonies are still more numerous and incontestable. As regards modern scholars, the great majority concede without hesitation that the Epistle as we have it is the work of St. Paul. In fact, its authenticity and integrity were never questioned until the nineteenth century when Baur, followed by others of the German rationalistic school, denied that Philippians was the work of Paul. The arguments, however, on which these critics have essayed to ground their claims are of so little value now as to be rejected by all the best rationalistic and Protestant scholars (cf. Jacquier, Histoire, etc., tom. I, pp. 349 ff .; Vigouroux, Diet, de la Bible, Philippiens).

The language and style of the Epistle are also thoroughly Pauline. Although there occur in it some forty strange expressions not found elsewhere in St. Paul, that proves nothing, since the same phenomenon is true of the admittedly authentic letters of the great Apostle; and over against this we can cite the presence of many words, expressions, figures, and characteristics of writing which are acknowledged to be peculiar to St. Paul.

Nor can any difficulty be found in the doctrine of this Epistle. The theology is again Pauline throughout, as even so rationalistic a writer as Holsten readily concedes. Attempts to find differences between the Christology of this Epistle and that of 1 Corinthians and other Epistles, or between the doctrine of justification taught here and that of Romans, have proved groundless and futile.

Some authors have felt there is a break in the unity of the Epistle at Phil 3:2, which extends to Phil 4:1, where Jews or Judaizing Christians suddenly fall under the Apostle’s severe censure. It is suggested that this may be a fragment from some other letter of St. Paul’s, perhaps to the Romans, which somehow found its way into this Epistle. But, in the first place, it is very hard to see how a part of one letter could get into the middle of the roll of another letter (for these letters were copied on rolls of parchment) ; and, in the second place, to deny the integrity of one of Paul’s Epistles because of some sudden interruptions in the style or breaks in the continuity of the thought is to betray essential ignorance of the Apostle’s character and literary habits. Again, repetitions, like the double conclusion in Php 3:1 and Php 4:4, instead of being difficulties against the oneness of the document are only natural in a letter so familiar and personal as is this one. It is little wonder, ‘therefore, that small success has attended the efforts made against the unity and integrity of the Epistle to the Philippians; and we may well conclude this section of our Introduction to this letter with the following testimony concerning it of the Protestant scholar, McGiffert: “The Epistle deserves to rank alongside of Galatians, Corinthians, and Romans as an undoubted product of Paul’s pen, and as a coordinate standard by which to test the genuineness of other and less certain writings” (The Apostolic Age, p. 393).

6. Analysis of Contents.

We have observed above that this Epistle does not follow any very orderly plan, owing to its essentially personal and intimate character. Dogma is not absent from the letter, though it is not prominent, and when it does occur it is intermixed with the moral exhortations, counsels and effusions which constitute the bulk of the Epistle. We may, however, distinguish in Philippians three main divisions: (a) an introductory part (Phil 1:1-11); (b) a body (Phil 1:12-4:9); (c) a conclusion (Phil 4:10-23).

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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.

ANALYSIS OF PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER 1

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.

THE BODY OF THE EPISTLE
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.

THE APOSTLE’S IMPRISONMENT HAS BEEN USEFUL FOR THE SPREAD
OF THE GOSPEL IN ROME
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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