Paul's Letter to the Philippians

Chapter 1

Paul testifies his thankfulness to God and his love toward the Philippians for the fruits of their faith and fellowship in his sufferings, 1-8; daily praying to him for their increase in grace, 9-11; he shows what good the faith of Christ had received by his troubles at Rome, 12-20; and how ready he is to glorify Christ either by his life or death, 21-26; exhorting them to unity, 27; and to fortitude in persecution, 28-30.

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:

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ, 7 Even as it is proper for me to think this of you all because I have you in my heart, for both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of my grace. 8 For God is my witness, how greatly I long after you all in the tender affection of Jesus Christ. 9 And this I pray: that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment, 10 That you may approve things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense until the day of Christ, 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

12 But I wish you to understand, brothers, that the things which happened to me have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel, 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest throughout the whole praetorian guard and to all the rest, 14 And that many of the brothers in the Lord, becoming confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will. 16 The former preach Christ from contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds, 17 But the latter from love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached, and I therein rejoice. Indeed, I will rejoice. 19 For I know that this will turn to my salvation through your prayers and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 According to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death.

21 For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor. Yet what I shall choose I do not know. 23 For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith, 26 So that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or else am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries—which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it is given on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake, 30 Having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear to be in me.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Philippians, Chapter 1


[v.1a] - "bishops" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "We may infer from this, that the name of bishop is common to all the ministers of the Word, inasmuch as he assigns several bishops to one Church. The titles, therefore, of bishop and pastor, are synonymous."

[v.1b] - "deacons" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "This term may be taken in two ways—either as meaning administrators, and curators of the poor, or for elders, who were appointed for the regulation of morals. As, however, it is more generally made use of by Paul in the former sense, I understand it rather as meaning stewards, who superintended the distributing and receiving of alms."

[v.3] - In other words, "I thank my God as often as I remember you, or am reminded of you."

[v.4] - "joy" - "Joy refers to the past; prayer to the future." —John Calvin

[v.5] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "We know how rare an excellence it is, to follow God immediately upon his calling us, and also to persevere steadfastly to the end. For many are slow and backward to obey, while there are still more that fall short through fickleness and inconstancy."

[v.6a] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "God is not like men, so as to be wearied out or exhausted by conferring kindness. Let, therefore, believers exercise themselves in constant meditation upon the favors which God confers, that they may encourage and confirm hope as to the time to come, and always ponder in their mind this syllogism: God does not forsake the work which his own hands have begun, as the Prophet bears witness (Psalm 138:8; Isaiah 64:8); we are the work of his hands; therefore he will complete what he has begun in us. When I say that we are the work of his hands, I do not refer to mere creation, but to the calling by which we are adopted into the number of his sons. For it is a token to us of our election, that the Lord has called us effectually to himself by his Spirit."

[v.6b] - "confident" - Or, "persuaded."

[v.7] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Let us therefore bear in remembrance also, that we must with readiness and alacrity embrace the fellowship of the cross of Christ as a special favor from God." Reference, Matthew 5:11.

[v.9a] - "For the true attainments of Christians are when they make progress in knowledge, and understanding, and afterward in love." —John Calvin

[v.9b] - "judgment" - Or, "sense."

[v.10a] - "That you may approve things that are excellent" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Here we have a definition of Christian wisdom—to know what is advantageous or expedient—not to torture the mind with empty subtleties and speculations."

[v.10b] - "approve" - That is, to test, examine, prove, scrutinize, discern.

[v.11] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "This now belongs to the outward life, for a good conscience produces its fruits by means of works. Hence he desires that they may be fruitful in good works for the glory of God. Such fruits, he says, are by Christ, because they flow from the grace of Christ. For the beginning of our well-doing is, when we are sanctified by his Spirit, for he rested upon him, that we might all receive of his fullness (John 1:16). And as Paul here derives a similitude from trees, we are wild olive-trees (Romans 11:24), and unproductive, until we are grafted into Christ, who by his living root makes us fruit bearing trees, in accordance with that saying (John 15:1), 'I am the vine, you are the branches.' He at the same time shows the end—that we may promote the glory of God. For no life is so excellent in appearance as not to be corrupted and become offensive in the view of God, if it is not directed toward this object."

[v.13] - "in Christ" - That is, in the cause, or for the sake of Christ.

[v.19] - "the supply" - That is, the supplying of whatever is lacking.

[v.21a] - Another way this verse can be worded is this: "For me to live is to do so for Christ, and to die is for my profit." Essentially, Paul is saying, "Everything I have, everything I do, everything I am is wholly dedicated to Christ, and in death I greatly profit because I will finally enjoy the presence of Christ."

[v.21b] - "Let Christ be with us, and he will bless our life as well as our death, so that both will be happy and desirable for us." —John Calvin

[v.28] - "terrified" - From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: "Literally, said of horses or other animals startled or suddenly scared; so of sudden consternation in general."