Paul's Letter to the Philippians

Chapter 2

Paul exhorts them to unity and to all humbleness of mind by the example of Christ's humility and exaltation, 1-11; to a careful proceeding in the way of salvation, that they be as lights to the wicked world, 12-15, and comforts to him their apostle, who is now ready to be offered up to God, 16-18. He hopes to send Timothy to them, and Epaphroditus also, 19-30.

1 If there is therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any inner affections and mercies, 2 Fulfill my joy, that you be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory. But in lowliness of mind, let each esteem the other better than themselves— 4 Each of you not looking to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 Who, being in the form of God, did not deem equality with God as something to be grasped, 7 But emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore, God also has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name, 10 So that at the name of Jesus "every knee should bow," of things in heaven, things on earth, and things under the earth, 11 And that "every tongue should confess" that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings, 15 So that you may be blameless and innocent, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 Holding forth the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. 17 And if I am even offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same cause you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly to you so that I also may be of good comfort when I know your state. 20 For I have no man like-minded who will naturally care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know the proof of him, that as a son with the father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore, I hope to send him presently, as soon as I see how it will go with me. 24 But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly. 25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, companion in labor, and fellow-soldier, but your messenger, and he who ministered to my needs. 26 For he longed after you all and was full of heaviness because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I sent him therefore the more speedily, so that when you see him again you may rejoice and that I may be the less sorrowful. 29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such in reputation, 30 Because for the work of Christ he was near to death, not regarding his life, to supply that which was lacking in your service toward me.

Commentary

Matthew Henry Commentary - Philippians, Chapter 2

Notes

[v.2] - "that you be like-minded" - In other words, "that you think the same thing."

[v.6] - "something to be grasped" - That is, Jesus didn't consider equality with God as a thing to be eagerly clung to and retained. It can also be understood as Jesus didn't count it an act of robbery to be equal with God, or that he didn't do it as an act of self-arrogation. Though those two different takes on this verse seem to be in conflict, they both hold equal truth.

[v.7] - "But emptied himself" - Originally written as, "But made himself of no reputation," but the Greek word literally means, "to empty, make empty" (Thayer's). So, rendering this as, "emptied himself," better follows the Greek and better fits the meaning of the passage. From the Pulpit Commentary: "Not, he indeed, of the Godhead, which could not be, but of its manifestation, its glory. This he did once for all, as the aorist implies, at the Incarnation. The word 'emptied' involves a previous fullness, 'a precedent plenitude' (Pearson on the Creed, 2:25). The Divine majesty of which he emptied himself was his own, his own rightful prerogative; and his humiliation was his own voluntary act—he emptied himself. 'He used his equality with God as an opportunity, not for self-exaltation, but for self-abasement' (Alford)."

[v.10-11] - Quoting Isaiah 45:23 (LXX—paraphrased).

[v.12-13] - Reference, 2nd Corinthians 13:5.

[v.12a] - "as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence" - Here, Paul is encouraging the Philippians to persevere and continue in obedience, even while he is away from them.

[v.12b] - "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" - A probably better way to word this passage is this: "Your own salvation is to be wrought with fear and trembling." The word, wrought, means formed by work or labor. That better conveys the idea of this passage than the word, work. Plus, it better suits the Greek word, κατεργαζεσθε, katergazomai (kat-er-gad'-zom-ahee), which means, to work fully, i.e. accomplish; by implication, to finish, fashion.

[v.12c] - "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" - From John Calvin's Commentary: "In this way [Paul] would have the Philippians testify and approve their obedience—by being submissive and humble. Now the source of humility is this—acknowledging how miserable we are, and devoid of all good. To this he calls them in this statement. For from where comes pride, but from the assurance which blind confidence produces, when we please ourselves, and are more puffed up with confidence in our own virtue, than prepared to rest upon the grace of God? In contrast with this vice is that fear to which he exhorts."

[v.13a] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "This is the true engine for bringing down all haughtiness—this the sword for putting an end to all pride, when we are taught that we are utterly nothing, and can do nothing, except through the grace of God alone. I mean supernatural grace, which comes forth from the spirit of regeneration."

[v.13b] - Reference, Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:26-27.

[v.14-16] - Reference, Matthew 5:14-16; Mark 4:21; Luke Luke 8:16, 11:33.

[v.15] - "harmless" - Or, "sincere."

[v.17] - "offered" - Literally, "poured out."

[v.19a] - "trust" - Or, "hope."

[v.19b] - "be of good comfort" - Or, "be in tranquility."

[v.20a] - "like-minded" - Or, "of similar spirit."

[v.20b] - John Calvin offers this interpretation of this verse: "I have no one equally well-affected for attending to your interests."

[v.21] - "For all seek their own" - That is, seek their own things, or their own interests.

[v.22] - "in the gospel" - Or, "in furtherance of the gospel."

[v.29a] - "all" - That is, sincere and abundant.

[v.29b] - "hold such in reputation" - Or, "honor such."

[v.30] - "that which was lacking" - Or, "the deficiency." Paul means for Epaphroditus to supply the Philippians what they could not do in their service toward Paul because they were so far away. John Calvin explains it further by saying, "Epaphroditus felt that his health would be in danger if he applied himself beyond measure; yet he would rather be negligent as to health than be deficient in duty; and that he may commend this conduct the more to the Philippians, he says that it was a filling up of their deficiency, because, being situated at a distance, they could not furnish aid to Paul at Rome. Hence Epaphroditus, having been sent for this purpose, acted in their stead."

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