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Book chapters «The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians»
1 2 3 4
My readings
  • In ch. 1 Paul, being rich in the experience of Christ, presented to the believers an account of his experience. Now in this chapter he asked the believers to have fellowship with him. Such a mutual fellowship of the believers and the apostle is needed for the experience of Christ.

  • Or, exhortation, encouragement.

  • I.e., inward affection. Lit., bowels. The same word as in Phil. 1:8.

  • In vv. 1-2 the apostle appealed to the Philippians for their encouragement and consolation. He begged them to make his joy full if they had any encouragement in Christ, any consolation of love, any fellowship of spirit, any tenderheartedness and compassions toward him.

  • Since this book is concerned with the experience and enjoyment of Christ, which issue in joy, it is a book filled with joy and rejoicing (Phil. 1:4, 18, 25; 2:17-18, 28-29; 3:1; 4:1, 4).

  • Among the Philippians there was dissension in their thinking (Phil. 4:2), which troubled the apostle. Hence, he asked them to think the same thing, even the same one thing, that they might make his joy full.

  • This indicates that because of the dissension in their thinking, the Philippian believers had different levels of love. They did not have the same love toward all the saints for the keeping of oneness.

  • This indicates that the dissension among the Philippians was due to their not being joined in soul, to their not thinking the one thing in their mind, the leading part of their soul. The Philippians' problem was not with their spirit but with their soul, that is, with their mind. They had Christ in their spirit through regeneration, but they did not have Christ in their soul through transformation. Only by having Christ saturate and occupy their entire soul could they be made one in soul.

  • Among the Philippians there was dissension in their thinking (Phil. 4:2), which troubled the apostle. Hence, he asked them to think the same thing, even the same one thing, that they might make his joy full.

  • According to the context of this book, the one thing here must refer to the subjective knowledge and experience of Christ (Phil. 1:20-21; 2:5; 3:7-9; 4:13). Christ, and Christ alone, should be the centrality and universality of our entire being. Our thinking should be focused on the excellency of the knowledge and experience of Christ. Focusing on anything else causes us to think differently, thus creating dissensions among us.

  • This may indicate that the dissenting Philippians were doing things out of selfish ambition or vainglory, both of which cause dissensions among believers.

  • Lowliness is in contrast to both selfish ambition and vainglory. This must be not our natural lowliness but the lowliness of Christ, as illustrated in vv. 7-8.

  • This indicates again that the problem of dissension among the Philippians was a matter of their untransformed mind. They needed to have the mind that was in Christ (see v. 5).

  • Lit., things; referring to virtues and qualities. We should regard not only our own virtues and qualities but also those of others.

  • Lit., think this in you. This refers to the considering in v. 3 and the regarding in v. 4. This kind of thinking, this kind of mind, was also in Christ when He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, and humbled Himself, being found in fashion as a man (vv. 7-8). To have such a mind requires us to be one with Christ in His inward parts (Phil. 1:8). To experience Christ, we need to be one with Him to this extent, that is, in His tender inward feeling and in His thinking.

  • In ch. 1 the central point is to magnify Christ, to live Christ (vv. 20-21). In ch. 2 it is to take Christ as our pattern, our model. This pattern is the standard of our salvation (v. 12). In vv. 5-16 there are four basic elements: Christ (v. 5), salvation (v. 12), God (v. 13), and the word of life (v. 16). The word of life works out the pattern by the operating God to apply salvation to our daily living. In this way we enjoy Christ and live Him, taking Him as our pattern.

  • The Greek word denotes existing from the beginning, implying the Lord's eternal preexistence.

  • The expression, not the fashion, of God's being (Heb. 1:3), identified with the essence and nature of God's person and, hence, expressing them. This refers to Christ's deity.

  • Although the Lord was equal with God, He did not consider being equal with God a treasure to be grasped and retained; rather, He laid aside the form of God (not the nature of God) and emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave.

  • I.e., laid aside what He possessed — the form of God.

  • The same word as that in v. 6. In His incarnation the Lord did not alter His divine nature; He changed only His outward expression, from the form of God, the highest form, to that of a slave, the lowest form. This was not a change of essence but of state.

  • I.e., entering into a new state.

  • The form of God implies the inward reality of Christ's deity; the likeness of men denotes the outward appearance of His humanity. He appeared to men as a man outwardly, but as God He had the reality of deity inwardly.

  • When Christ became in the likeness of men, entering into the condition of humanity, He was found in fashion as a man.

  • I.e., the outward guise, the semblance. This is a repetition, in a more particular sense, of the thought of likeness in v. 7. What Christ looked like in His humanity was found by men to be in fashion as a man.

  • Humbling Himself was a further step in emptying Himself. Christ's self-humbling manifested His self-emptying.

  • The death of a cross is the climax of Christ's humiliation. To the Jews it was a curse (Deut. 21:22-23). To the Gentiles it was a death sentence imposed on malefactors and slaves (Matt. 27:16-17, 20-23). Hence, it was a shameful thing (Heb. 12:2).

    The Lord's humiliation involved seven steps:
    1) emptying Himself;
    2) taking the form of a slave;
    3) becoming in the likeness of men;
    4) humbling Himself;
    5) becoming obedient;
    6) being obedient even unto death;
    7) being obedient unto the death of the cross.

  • The Lord humbled Himself to the uttermost, but God exalted Him to the highest peak.

  • Lit., graciously bestowed; i.e., freely bestowed.

  • I.e., the name of Jesus, mentioned in the following verse. See Acts 9:5. Since the Lord's ascension, there has not been a name on this earth above the name of Jesus.

  • The name is the expression of the sum total of what the Lord Jesus is in His person and work. In the name of Jesus means in the sphere and element of all that the Lord is. It is in this way that we worship the Lord and pray to Him.

  • Lit., bend.

  • Those who are in heaven are angels.

  • Those who are on earth are men.

  • Those who are under the earth are the dead.

  • This is to call on the Lord or on the name of the Lord (Rom. 10:9-10, 12-13).

  • God made the Lord Jesus, as a man, the Lord in His ascension (Acts 2:36). Thus, every tongue should confess that He is Lord.

  • I.e., resulting in. The result of our confessing that Jesus is Lord is that God the Father is glorified. This is the great end of all that Christ is and has done in His person and work (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

  • I.e., as a consequence of taking Christ as a pattern of obedience in the preceding verses.

  • This answers to becoming obedient in v. 8.

  • I.e., carry out, bring to the ultimate conclusion. We have received God's salvation, which has as its climax our being exalted by God in glory as the Lord Jesus was (v. 9). We need to carry out this salvation, to bring it to its ultimate conclusion, by our constant and absolute obedience with fear and trembling. We have received this salvation by faith; now we must carry it out by obedience, which includes our being genuinely one in our soul (v. 2). To receive this salvation by faith is once for all; to carry it out is lifelong.

  • Not eternal salvation from God's condemnation and from the lake of fire but the daily salvation that is a living Person. This daily salvation results from taking the very Christ whom we live, experience, and enjoy as our inward as well as outward pattern. The main elements of this salvation are Christ as the crucified life (vv. 5-8) and Christ in His exaltation (vv. 9-11). When this pattern becomes the believers' inward life, the pattern becomes their salvation. Only this would make the apostle's joy full.

    In ch. 1 salvation comes through the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, but here salvation comes from the operating God within us. The operating God is actually the Spirit of Jesus Christ. In both these cases salvation is a practical, daily, moment-by-moment salvation. The constant salvation in Phil. 1:19 is one in which a particular believer is saved from a specific encounter in a particular situation; whereas the constant salvation in Phil. 2:12 is one in which any believer is saved from ordinary things in common situations in his daily living.

  • Fear is the inward motive; trembling is the outward attitude.

  • For introduces the reason we need to obey always. The reason is that God operates in us. In God's economy we have the Lord Jesus as our pattern (vv. 6-11), as the standard of our salvation (v. 12), and we also have God operating in us both the willing and the working that our salvation may be carried out, brought to its ultimate conclusion. It is not that we by ourselves carry it out, but that God operates in us to do it. The only thing we need to do is to obey the inner operating God.

  • The God who operates in us is the Triune God — the Father, the Son, and the Spirit — the very God who is Christ in us (2 Cor. 13:3, 5) and the Spirit in us (Rom. 8:11). The three — the Spirit, God, and Christ — are one.

  • Or, energizes.

  • The willing is within; the working is without. The willing takes place in our will, indicating that God's operation begins from our spirit (cf. Phil. 4:23) and spreads into our mind, emotion, and will. This corresponds with Rom. 8, where we see that God works from our spirit (Rom. 8:4), through our mind (Rom. 8:6), and eventually into our physical body (Rom. 8:11).

  • Or, acting. The same Greek word as for operates in this verse.

  • I.e., the good pleasure of His will (Eph. 1:5). God's good pleasure is that we may reach the climax of His supreme salvation.

  • Murmurings are of our emotion and come mainly from the sisters; reasonings are of our mind and come mainly from the brothers. Both frustrate us from carrying out our salvation to the fullest extent and from experiencing and enjoying Christ to the uttermost. The context here indicates that murmurings and reasonings are due to disobedience to God. Obedience to God slays all murmurings and reasonings.

  • Or, simple, artless (not political), innocent (Matt. 10:16). The Greek root means unmixed. Blameless describes our outward behavior, and guileless our inward character.

  • As children of God, we have God's life and the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).

  • To be without blemish is the total quality of being blameless and guileless.

  • Lit., warped, twisted.

  • The Greek word refers to luminaries that reflect the light of the sun. As such luminaries, the believers shine in the world. They do not possess any light in themselves but have a heavenly ability to reflect the light of Christ. Christ is the sun, with the church as the moon and the believers as the planets to reflect Him by holding forth the word of life (v. 16).

  • The dark, corrupt world, which is usurped by Satan (1 John 5:19; 2:15-17). In the world can be rendered in the universe.

  • Lit., applying, presenting, offering. To hold forth the word of life is to apply it, to present it, and to offer it to the world by living out Christ.

  • Different from the doctrine of dead letters. The word of life is the living breath of God (2 Tim. 3:16), the Spirit who gives life (John 6:63). We have the Lord Jesus as our pattern (vv. 6-11), we have God operating in us (v. 13), we are God's children, having God's life and the divine nature (v. 15), we are luminaries qualified to reflect the divine light of Christ (v. 15), and we have the word of life to hold forth, to present, to others. What a divine and rich provision! By such we are well able to carry out God's salvation to its climax.

  • The way to make the apostle's joy full (v. 2) is to live a life that takes Christ as the pattern and carries out God's salvation fully, that the apostle may be able to boast, glory, and rejoice in the believers in the day of Christ.

  • The day of the Lord's second coming, which is called "the day of the Lord" (1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Thes. 2:2; 1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 1:14) and "that day" (2 Tim. 1:18; 4:8). In that day all believers will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the reward each deserves (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 25:19-30).

  • The drink offering was in addition to the basic offerings revealed in Lev. chs. 1—6 (Num. 15:1-10; 28:7-10). The basic offerings are types of various aspects of Christ. The drink offering is a type of Christ as enjoyed by the offerer. Christ as the heavenly wine fills the offerer and even causes him to become wine to God. The apostle Paul became such a drink offering (2 Tim. 4:6) by enjoying Christ in this way, so that he could be poured out as a sacrifice to God upon the believers' faith through the shedding of his blood.

  • The sacrifice and service of your faith means that the faith of the Philippian believers was a sacrifice offered to God and also became their service to God.

  • Like the priestly service. Cf. note Phil. 2:253.

  • Faith here is all-inclusive and includes much more than the act of believing. It is the constitution and total expression of all that the believers have received, experienced, and enjoyed of Christ, including Christ as the basic offerings. Paul's ministry resulted in the all-inclusive faith of the believers. Such a faith was offered as a sacrifice to God by the believers, and Paul rejoiced even to be poured out as a drink offering upon such a sacrifice.

  • This means that the apostle rejoiced to have his blood shed as a drink offering upon the sacrifice of the believers' faith.

  • To rejoice together with means to share joy with. The apostle shared his joy with the Philippians in his being martyred for their faith. Hence, the phrase implies that he was congratulating them.

  • The apostle expected that the Philippians would share their joy with him by congratulating him in his being martyred for their faith's sake.

  • Or, of good comfort, of good cheer, refreshed.

  • This book deals very much with the believers' soul. We must strive together with one soul along with the personified faith of the gospel (Phil. 1:27); we must be joined in soul, thinking the one thing (v. 2); and we must be like-souled, genuinely caring for the things of Christ Jesus (vv. 20-21). In the gospel work, in the fellowship among the believers, and in the pursuing of the Lord's interests, our soul is always a problem. Hence, it must be transformed, especially in its leading part, the mind (Rom. 12:2), that we may be of one soul, joined in soul, and like-souled in the Body life.

  • According to the context of this book, the things of Christ Jesus are the things concerning the church with all the saints.

  • I.e., approved worth, proof of having been tested.

  • Lit., served as a slave.

  • First a brother, then a fellow worker, and then a fellow soldier.

  • One sent with a commission.

  • Derived from the same Greek word as that for service in v. 17 and referring to a minister whose ministry is like that of a priest. All New Testament believers are priests to God (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6). Hence, our ministry to the Lord, in whatever aspect, is a priestly service (vv. 17, 30).

  • Venturing, recklessly exposing his life, like a gambler throwing down a stake.

  • Lit., soul. Epaphroditus was willing to risk his life for the churches and the saints.

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