TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 Epistle To The Philippians Page 13
CHAPTER II Page 22
CHAPTER III Page 46
CHAPTER IV Page 96
Philippians 3: 9. Page 102
The Four Views of Philippians 3: 1-11. Page 107
On Philippians 3: 9-11.
The Cleansing By Christ Of The Old And Of The New Page 113
Eternal Life A Gift: The Millennium A Prize:
Philippians 3: 12. Page 117
What Light Does This Epistle Throw On The Question ...
Whether At Death The Believer Ascends To Heaven. Page 125
* * *
AND HIS CITY
In the study of the Epistle to the
Philippians, the history of Paul and Silas at
12. From thence (Neapolis) to
of the division of
What is the meaning of the first
city has been much disputed. It
may mean (1) the first which the
Apostle met with in his journey in
Now we were in the city itself staying certain days.
This seems designed to show the difference between their stay within the city, and their work outside it, which was blessed of God.
13. And on the day of the Sabbath we went outside the city beside a river, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and were speaking to the women that came together.
There was no synagogue in the city; nor do Jews appear in the
events which followed. The place of
prayer was beside a river; it was a spot suitable for immersion. Prayer was made outside the city: the city
itself was not disposed to the worship of God.
The two witnesses for God, Paul and Silas, sat down; and
without formal preaching, talked to the women that assembled there. There were no books, as in the synagogue;
there was no standing up, to read the Word of
God; there were no rulers of the synagogue, to invite them to speak. It was a small and seemingly poor
commencement of work for God, in
14. And a certain woman named
who worshipped God, was listening; whose heart the Lord thoroughly opened,
to give heed to the things spoken by Paul.
So Paul met in Europe with a woman of Asia, led over to
15. But when she was immersed, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
First comes the faith of the opened heart, then baptism, and the opened house. It is remarkable, that baptism is twice named in the
history of the Lords work at
16. Now it came to pass, as we went to prayer, that a certain girl, having a spirit of Python* met us, who used to bring much gain to her masters by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, and shouted, saying, These men are servants of the Most High God,
who proclaim to us the way of salvation.
* Some copies read, A spirit of Python. If this be the true reading, it would affirm, that Apollo Python dwelt in her.
Apollo was supposed to have slain with his bow a great dragon, called Python. Python in Hebrew means Serpent. So the spirit of God in Paul came into collision with the spirit of the Old Serpent.
She was a slave-girl, owned by several masters, who obtained much money by her telling fortunes, discovering thieves, and so on. It would seem, that she was both attractive in manner, and successful in her divinations. She minded earthly things, and suited the citizens.
Gods prophecy tells of His great counsels concerning the heaven and the earth; so in the epistle we are taught concerning the day of Christ, and the First Resurrection. Her testimony concerning Paul and Silas was true. But how fierce was the onset of the citizens, against the messengers of salvation! They would have been more calm in the treatment of robbers.
18. Now this she did for many days. But Paul, being deeply grieved, and turning round, said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to come out of her.
And he came out the same hour.
Paul felt like the Lord Jesus in this matter. The spirits in the
The Saviour would not be thought to be allied with the Great Liar and Murderer. There was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he shouted out, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Jesus, the Nazarene? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be silent,* and come out of him: Mark 1. And demons also came out of many, shouting out, and saying, Thou art the Christ, the Son of God. And, He rebuking them, suffered them not to speak, for they knew that He was the Christ: Luke 4. The Saviour would not have the truth proclaimed by lying lips.
* Literally, Be muzzled!
Paul then, the disciple, took the Saviours example for his guide. He did well, and suffered for it.
He spoke - not to the girl, but to the spirit of Python in the girl. He commanded it to come out in the efficient name of Jesus. At that call, the evil spirit was compelled to depart. It is an example of the power of the name above every name. In the day of Christs [millennial] kingdom, Satan and his angels will be cast into the bottomless pit; and the nations, now led by his deceits, will be set free.
19. But her masters, seeing that the hope of their gains had gone out, laid hands on Paul and Silas, and dragged them to the market-place to the rulers, and after having led them
to the generals, said, - These men greatly trouble our city, being Jews,
and proclaim customs which are not lawful for us to receive,
nor to practise, being Romans.
What proofs are here exhibited of the reality of the
possession by evil spirits! 1.
The girl has lost her previous power.
2. The public perceive it: they no longer consult
her. She has lost the intelligence of
the future, for which those who consulted her were willing to pay. 3. Her masters perceived the difference. The argument addressed their pockets. They could but notice it. Jews, when
Christ ejected evil spirits, blasphemed the Spirit of God. Romans, in this case, appeal to the customs of
Python was a spirit allowed by Roman customs to act. How well her masters knew how to set the
populace on fire by their accusation! These Jews
greatly trouble our city. The epistle of Paul is
a tacit setting up of Christ and the city of
* This sense in the Epistle to the Philippians is most
suitable. The city of earth is set up
against the city of
These men teach customs unlawful for Romans to accept or practise. This refers, no doubt, to baptism, and perhaps also, to the Lords Supper: Acts 20: 7.
22. And the multitude rose up together against them, and the generals having rent their garments from off them, commanded that they should be beaten with rods; and when they had laid on them many stripes, gave orders to the jailor to keep them safely. He having received such orders, cast them into the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks.
There is here no form of trial. The accusation passes as proof; the passions of the multitude rule. Where the spirits of Satan are stricken, the world takes the devils part. So the Gadarenes beg the Saviour to depart, when Legion is driven out from the possessed, in spite of the road to their city, which was impassable before, being made, by the dispossession of the demoniacs, safe and free.
The colony is military, even in the titles given to the
magistrates - generals. The
They laid many stripes upon them. How
much more merciful is God than man! What
was the amount of stripes allowed under the law of
Moses? Forty stripes he may give him,
and not exceed; lest,
if he should exceed and beat him above these with many
stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee: Deut.
The jailor was commanded to keep them safely. But Philippi was to learn that there was One greater than the magistrates of a colony of
25. Now at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and were singing a hymn to God; but the
prisoners were listening to them. But suddenly there followed a great earthquake,
so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the
doors were opened, and the bonds of all were loosed.
How wonderfully the Spirit of God the Comforter is able to give peace and joy in the midst of circumstances so oppressing! In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you: 1 Thess. 5: 18.
The sacred writer would have us mark the close connexion between the prayer and praise of the two confessors, and the wonders effected by the earthquake. Any earthquake could have shaken the prison foundations. But whence came the opening of all the doors? And the undoing of the chains of all the prisoners? That spoke of angel-hands.
Strange sounds were prayer and praise to God in a prison, whence usually proceeded groans and curses.
These two witnesses were bearers of Gospel-grace; not like the Two Witnesses yet to come, who avenge with death by fire any attempt made to injure them: Rev. 11.
Whatever is shaken shall pass away: Heb. 12. And the saved shall have no more to do with lashes, and stocks, and dungeons. The Lord gives notice even here below of His coming deliverance of His people, when He descends from on high; and the living [left]* and dead saints shall be assembled to Him in air. The earthquake was terrible to Romans; it set at liberty Gods own servants. But, like the two earthquakes, the one at our Lords death, and the other at His [Page 8] resurrection, it slew no one. How unlike the earthquake when the Two Witnesses awake from death, and ascend to heaven! That kills from seven, to seventy, millions of men!
[* NOTE. That is, left (1 Thess. 4: 17) until the end of the Great Tribulation. Others, prevailed to escape all (Luke 21: 36), before it commenced! See Rev. 3: 10. There will be two raptures of living saints; and two general resurrections of dead saints; separated by a thousand years! (Rev. 20: 5, R.V.).]
The Lord Jesus in the synagogue of Nazareth proclaimed, by the Spirit of the Lord upon Him, that He was anointed to preach deliverance to the captives; the opening of the prison to then that were bound. Twas a hint of a better and eternal rescue; as saith the prophet - As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant, I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water : Zech. 9.
27, 28. But the jailor awakened from sleep, and seeing the doors of the prison opened, having drawn his sword, was about to slay himself, supposing that the prisoners had fled. But
Paul with loud voice called to him - Do thyself no harm, for we are all here.
The earthquake awaked in Paul feelings opposite to those of
the jailor. To the Apostle it brought
deliverance from stocks and chains; to the jailor, dismay and despair; which,
but for the Apostles intervention, would have ended in his death. A positive command had been given by those
whose favour he sought, to keep safely these especial prisoners; and lo! all the doors of the prison are opened! The whole of those entrusted to his custody
then must have escaped! He was afraid,
therefore, of the wrath of the magistrates, and of his own public execution, as
unfaithful to his trust. He was thus smitten
with a calamity which Romans thought should only be met by suicide. At
Of this, his intent, Paul is made aware. He probably heard the click of the drawn sword. He stays the stroke of self-inflicted death, by his word of exhortation, and makes known to him that the prisoners were still in the jail. Here Paul manifests [Page 9] the grace of Christ to one who had dealt hardly with himself and his companion.
29. But having called for lights, he leapt in, and being seized with trembling, fell down before Paul and Silas, and said, Lords, what must I do to be saved? But they said,
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
The commotion of soul produced by these incidents, wrought, in the Lords hands, strong conviction of sin. He humbles himself before his prisoners, who alone have the power of making known to him the way of salvation. The story of the fortune-telling girl had, no doubt, reached his ears. These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation. He remembers his ill conduct towards them, and abases himself before them.
The two prisoners bid him believe on Christ as Lord. He was no longer to account the Caesar on the throne as the Lord and God, to whom he was to render worship. Festus could say to king Agrippa, unrebuked, concerning Paul the prisoner, Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto The LORD.
The jailor is to learn a new salvation, not of this world; but redemption from sin, and from the eternal wrath of God. He believes, and is rescued from believing in the spirit of Python, to faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit. Salvation is no longer the deliverance from present death. Thou shalt be saved. The application of the tidings is close and personal. And thy house.
32-34. And they spake to him the Word of the Lord, and to all who were in his house. And he took them in that hour of the night, and bathed them from their stripes, and was immersed,
he and all his, immediately. And leading them up into his house, he set before
them a table, and rejoiced, with all his house, believing in God.
If the household is to be saved, the message of the Most High must be presented to it, before he and they are baptized.*
* [The Greek word ] here is, the household: [The other Greek word is] the building in which they dwelt.
What was it that the messengers preached? The Word of the
Lord. Ofttimes we have - the Word of God.
But here it is the Word of the
was the story of the Lord Jesus Christ on
whom he and his family were to believe.
And, at once, on their receiving [and believing] the story of the cross, and of the
resurrection of Him that hung on it, he and they were obedient to the rite
commanded by Christ. Be immersed every one of you
on the authority of Jesus Christ, unto the forgiveness of sins: Acts 2: 38.
Our religion rests, for its foundation, on the Lordship of Christ, and
obedience to Him, after His
pardon of our trespasses. At
Faith in the jailor being genuine, it works by love. He remembers, being now full of peace in his own soul, the sad state of his wounded prisoners; and comforts them by bathing their wounds. He and all his were at once immersed. Gods plan is, the baptizing, straightway, of those converted. What a reproof to those who detain converts for months and years, before they will receive them, and own them by baptizing them! Do we read of Pauls receiving their baptismal vows? Neither here, nor anywhere else in the New Testament! Baptism is not the scene of the promise of the flesh, but of the burial of the flesh as dead.
This straightway was a very remarkable one. Their immersion took place, before the wounded servants of Christ had had anything to eat, after their fast and sufferings; or any rest. How important, [Page 11] in the eye of Christ and of Paul, must baptism be! Only it must come after faith, as the choice of the [regenerate] believer; and not before faith, in order to make a person a Christian.
He then spreads before them a table in his own house. And, where a few minutes before there had been despair, there is faith; and with faith there is joy. Well might he rejoice, as one delivered from sins guilt and enmity! His new citizenship yields him at once rejoicing: fellow-citizen with the saints, and of the household of God. Here again we see that where the heart is opened, the house is opened too!
Thus there are two groups of believers; those meeting outside the gate, and the family of the jailor in the prison of the city. The fortune-telling girl is the link that connects the two. Here is the grace of God moving, against the deserts of men! Here is His power, taking away from destruction a Roman family, to become sons of God.
35. But when it was daylight, the generals sent the rod-bearers (lictors), saying, Dismiss those men. But the jailor told these words to Paul: The generals have sent word, that you may
be dismissed. But Paul said to them: They have scourged in public un-condemned
men who are Romans, and now do they thrust us out secretly? Why, no! but
let them come themselves and lead us out! But the lictors told the
generals these words; and they were frightened, when they heard
that they were Romans. And they came and exhorted them,
and leading them out (of prison), asked them to depart
out of the city.
What led to so sudden a change on the part of the magistrates? The earthquake, and the testimony of the Pythoness. This shock had come from the Most High God, who had thus shown His displeasure at their treatment of His messengers. So they would get rid of them, as the Philistines would get quit of Jehovahs captive ark.
This feeling was greatly increased, by the intelligence, that
those whom they had thus unrighteously treated were Roman citizens. So
it was the magistrates, who, in their contempt of justice, brought not the
matter to any trial; and had broken Roman law!
If the prisoners had pleased, they could have compelled the magistrates
of Philippi to appear at
Paul then sends a message, which compels them to confess the
injustice they had committed; and they themselves in person lead them out of
prison. Here was no revenge, no threatening,
no accusation of the wrong-doers; but a virtual confession, that those men had not broken any law of
40. But they went out of the prison,
and entered the house of
the brethren, they comforted them, and went out.
Thus the Roman city expressed its hatred of the Gospel. Thus Paul shows his likeness to Christ, and his fellowship with Him in suffering. But the Word of the Lord must not be stayed in its course. The messengers are free to proclaim it elsewhere.
* * *
EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS
The Epistle takes up the saints in
The epistle is designed to conduct them a stage onward in the faith and hope of the Gospel, both in knowledge and practice, till the coming of Christ to take the millennial kingdom. The Apostle teaches them to seek a place in the glory of the Thousand Years, as the great object set before them by God and Christ. The first stage is, faith in Christ for pardon; and baptism. There is in consequence a natural, though a silent comparison, between the Emperor of the fourth great kingdom of earth, his city, and people; and Christ the King of kings, and the city of God on high.
The spirit of the king and people of
Law appears in two forms in the
epistle. First, as in
the colony, and at
1, 2. Paul and Timothous, slaves of Jesus
Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul commences this epistle taking no title of dignity; but he and Silas enrol themselves as slaves of Jesus Christ. It is not said, to the church (assembly) of Philippians; but the assembly is divided into (1) saints, (2) elders, and (3) deacons. There were several bishops in one city, who ruled the assembly; while the younger men, who were appointed to be deacons, served.
The epistle begins with Grace unto you.
This is the key to the whole. It
shows that the Old Testament, which was founded on law, is set aside. Then
follows peace. Settled peace cannot be found under law imposed on
sinful man. Law works wrath and war; as we see at
From God our Father. This is not said of all men, as if God were the Father of unbelievers; but God is Father of those who are regenerate.
And from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through Christ that the saints have fellowship with God.
3-11. The theme of the epistle is Christ. The state of the Philippians in all but one point was [Page 15] pleasing to Christ, and to His servant Paul. He gives thanks to God, prays on their behalf with joy, glad of their interest in the Gospel, and help toward its advancement. As the Lord had begun to work in them, He would continue it up to the day of Christs manifestation and reign. Here is a new standard of time. Men in the flesh say, till death. But the day of Christs revelation might occur before the death of those then alive.
The Apostle had very affectionate feelings towards them, in consequence of their being members of Christ. His affections were attuned to those of Christ.
We are then introduced to the subject of his prayers for them. They had love in their hearts; but they needed the after-knowledge proper to the believer, and observations wisely directed: Wise as serpents, harmless as doves.
10, 11. That ye may distinguish things that differ; that ye may be sincere, and not occasion any
to stumble, up to the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of a righteousness which
comes through Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
They had been good citizens of Caesar and of
The new work of sanctification by Christ and His Spirit, would cause them to bear richly the fruit of the Gospel. This was to spring from the possession, not of their own righteousness [alone]; but [primarily] of that [righteousness] of Christ, imputed to them. Romans might boast of their own brave and just deeds, before men; but the fruits of their righteousness would bring glory to God. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven; who had, in infinite wisdom, love and goodness, devised a way, whereby the unrighteous and condemned may be made righteous before Him. The day of Christ is twice named; the first time in reference to the work of God, then in reference to their own character: 1: 6-10; 12-18.
The Holy Spirit calls on the saints to distinguish
things that differ. There were before them the systems,
11. Being filled with the fruit of a righteousness, which (fruit is) by Jesus Christ,
unto the glory and praise of God.
The true reading is Fruit, not Fruits. The imputed righteousness of Christ is the tree; good words and works are the fruit which arises out of peace with God, through Jesus Christ. The participle being filled is in the perfect. The filling is going on now. And this tree does not cast its fruit; but it abides till the day when reward shall be given.
Both the tree and its fruit proceed from Christ and His work. He is the worker of the completed righteousness in which we stand. As in Christ, we are able to bring forth good fruit.
The work of [eternal] salvation is Gods. The Father is the Deviser of the great plan: the Son, the Fulfiller of the righteousness; the Holy Ghost applying the work. It is all to the glory and the praise of God.
It is not like Pauls righteousness of law, which bore no good fruit, but led him to boast in the flesh, and to persecute those really righteous before God through the work of Christ.
The Apostle now turns to describe his position at
While many supposed that the effect of Pauls imprisonment would be a heavy blow at the cause of Christ; better results had arisen, than the fears of his friends had suggested.
He was delivered up to be guarded in the Praetorian camp (Acts 28:
16), just outside
14. There is some difference of reading here. And it is of importance.
14-16. Many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the Word of God without fear. Some, indeed, proclaim the Christ, even of envy
and strife; but some also of goodwill. Some, indeed, out of party-spirit proclaim
the Christ, not purely, thinking to add affliction to my chains. But the others
of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the Gospel.
1. The word spoken of in verse 14, is the Word of God. That is a more general expression than the Word of the Lord. The latter refers more directly to the New Testament proclamation of Christ.
In the Acts we
have the preaching both of the Word of God, and the Word of the
But when at
In the present passage of Philippians, the Word of God
introduces the proclamation, not of Christ only; but of the Christ. By that expression, I
believe that the Mystic Christ, or Jesus the Head, and [regenerate] believers His members, are
meant. Twice we have the proclamation of
the Christ ver.
And this suggests, how the opponents of Paul
might seek to injure him, through the ignorance at
19. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer,
and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Salvation is, in this epistle, regarded, not in respect of present peace in the soul arising out of reconciliation with God; but as the complete deliverance of spirit, body, and soul in the Day of Jesus Christ. The threatenings of foes were to be to the Philippian saints the token of salvation given by God: ver. 28. They were to work out their [future] salvation* in co-operation with God: 2: 12. For, like Paul, they were to be pressing on, to gain [by effort = attain (3: 11) R.V.] a place in the First Resurrection.
[* Here is, I believe, the reference is to a future salvation of souls mentioned in 1 Peter. See verses 5, 9 and 13, R.V. Cf. Heb. 10: 39; Jas. 1: 21, R.V.) etc.]
20. According to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now, Christ shall be magnified in my body,
whether it be by life, or by death.
I shall not be ashamed - that is, at the appearing before Christ. Some will then be ashamed: 1 John 2: 28.
Christ shall be magnified. In this case, and in the next verse, there is no article before Christ. Jesus Christ is spoken of, without His members. It was Pauls aim to glorify Him; and that would be effected, whether the Emperor released him, or caused him to be executed.
21. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
All things are working together for good, to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose. While Paul lived, he sought the [coming millennial] glory of Christ, and was sustained in his services by the Spirit of God.
But even if he were slain, he would find his new place in
[* See Luke 23: 43, R.V.]
That death should be gain, would not be believed in
The believers departing is not now the going into Abrahams bosom; but the being with Christ.* What joyful news, even though resurrection must be waited for!
[* Is there any difference made in Scripture between saved Jews from saved Gentiles? Do not all dead saints go to the same place in Sheol / Hades, immediately after their Death; and from there, wait for their Resurrection? Look and see: (Psa. 139: 8b; Luke 16: 22; 23: 45; Rev. 6: 9, 11, R.V.)
22-26. Now if I live in the flesh, this is to me fruit of labour: and what I shall choose I know not. For I am in a strait between two things, having the desire to depart, and be with Christ;
for it is very far better; but to abide in the flesh, is more necessary for you. And
having this confidence I know, that I shall abide and continue with you
all for your advance and joy in faith, in order that your boasting
in Christ Jesus in me (my release) may abound,
through my presence again with you.
What would be the consequence to Paul, if his life was spared! Life is the time of labour; and he would so spend it in the service of the Redeemer, that he would receive increased reward. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
But there is a better life than that in the flesh. What if he died? Service would be finished; but greater blessing begun. His desire was to depart. For the [Page 21] work of Christ has altered for the better the believers sojourn among the dead; while he is waiting in confidence for the resurrection. But Paul, as filled with the Spirit of Christ, regards rather the needs of others, than his own enjoyment. There was much needing to be done for the benefit of the Church, which Paul alone was commissioned to do.
Hence he is persuaded, that, even in
the crisis of his appearing before Nero, his life would be spared. For the advance of the people of God in
faith, knowledge, and holiness, is of great moment to Christ. And the sparing of the Apostles life would
make Philippian believers rejoice, when they welcomed him again to their city.
Thus Paul, whose politics were of
heaven, and not of earth, decides, that the
alternative most desired by the
27-30. Only conduct yourselves as becomes the Gospel of Christ: in order that, whether I come and see you, or whether absent I may hear the news about you; that you are standing fast in
one spirit, with one soul striving together for the faith of the Gospel. And not in
anything terrified by the enemies: which is to them a token of perdition, but to
you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it is granted, on behalf of
Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him, you
having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear of,
as affecting me.
In this paragraph the Apostle glances at the internal danger threatening the peace of the Church there. He exhorts them therefore to unity. This prepares the way for his teaching in the next chapter on the tempers required in order to move together in harmony.
They were not to be terrified by opponents who threatened them. Such were themselves manifestly on the way to damnation, in striking at those who were members of Christ. Saints were persecuted, not because of their evil doing; but for their obedience to God.
To themselves it was a token, that they were on the [Page 22] right road to the First Resurrection, and its millennial glory.
And they were to regard even suffering for Christs sake as a
gift from God; which, rightly met, would redound to their [millennial and] everlasting glory. To some it is given to believe only. But to
suffering with Christ belongs present consolation; as well as millennial reward. Persecution for Christ is a manifest token of
the coming righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the
The Philippians were in trouble for Christ. The Apostles position was still one of conflict. They had seen him in it, when he was in the colony. It was going on more fully in the metropolis. The affliction of the two parties drew them nearer to each other.
* * *
1-4 (1) If therefore there be any comfort in Christ, (2) if any consolation in love, (3) if any
joint participation in the Spirit, (4) if any compassion and acts of pity, Fulfil ye my joy,
(1) that ye be of the same mind (2) having the same love, (3) sympathetic, (4) having
one mind. Let nothing be done through party-spirit or vainglory, but in humility
esteeming each other more than yourselves. Regard not each his own
interests alone, but each those of others.
The Apostle does not find any evil
doctrine among the Philippians. He has
only to call them to practice. In 1: 27 the Apostle uses a remarkable word
It hints at the change induced by their becoming citizens of the
heavenly city, and requiring to alter their sentiments
and conduct, from what they had been as [Page 23] proud
citizens of the great worldly metropolis.
Then they looked up to the Emperor and to the city of
But now the principle of their life was to be grace they were at peace with God, and were to look up to Christ as the standard of present perfection, and the Dispenser of future rewards. Christ was their Lord, and they were to be lowly, seeking to benefit others; studying how to maintain the unity of the new body, into which they had, in Gods mercy, been engrafted.
Four are the grounds of appeal with which the chapter begins; and four the exhortations which the Apostle derives from them.
Both Paul and the Philippians were sufferers from the world;
they, in the colony; Paul, in
The four ifs do not question the existence of the four excellencies noted; they are rhetorical, designed to press the appeal for unity.
The Apostle then shows how they might comfort him by their obedience to the directions given.
Fulfil ye my joy.
How mighty, how blessed were those principles and aids, which could give joy to the Apostle under his present circumstances of imprisonment, and hazard of life! His joy would be full to the brim, if he could learn of their unity, humility, obedience, and sympathy.
There is, I believe, an intended correspondence between the four principles announced in verse one, and the exhortations given in verse two.
1. If there be any comfort in Christ - let them be like-minded one with another. The flesh in Adam divides; but the Lord and the Spirit show their power by uniting those in Christ.
2. If any consolation in love - let them have the same love one to another. Lawlessness is opposed to love. Because lawlessness shall abound, the love of the majority shall wax cold.
3. If participation in one spirit - let them be sympathetic one towards the other.
4. If any compassion and acts of pity - let them be of one mind.
In verse three, we have the
negative view. Let them put off and keep
out party-spirit, and vainglory. These
were ever moving in
In humility let each esteem the other more than himself. Law could say: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Here is esteeming a brother more than himself! Selfishness, that turns the eye solely on a mans own interests, is then rebuked: in the natural body each part ministers to the other, does not isolate itself; but is sympathetic towards every other part.
5, 6. For let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought not the being equal with God a glory to be jealously retained; but emptied
Himself; taking the form of the slave, being made in the likeness of men.
The Saviour is here named Christ Jesus - the superior name being put before His name as a man - Jesus. As you are in Christ, seek to resemble Him as your standard; especially on the points now urged.
The Apostle begins with the Lord Jesus original position of glory, that we may in some measure be able to estimate the depth of His condescension.
Who being in the form of God.
He had existence from eternity, before He appeared as man. What is the form of God? It consists chiefly in two things. 1. The light and glory proper to the Creator and Ruler of all. 2. The corresponding place and service of the creature.
Let us take some examples.
2. I saw, says Micaiah, the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him, on His right hand, and His left. And the Lord said: Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth Gilead? And one said on this manner, and another said. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth and do so: 1 Kings 22.
Here is God in His place as Ruler, and the creatures in their place as subjects, subservient.
3. Take another example: Isaiah 6. I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim; each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto [Page 26] another, and said, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips: and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.
Here we have God in His majesty, and the creatures in their worship before Him. And John tells us, that the glory which the prophet thus saw, was Christs. Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and turn, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias when he saw His (Christs) glory, and spake of Him: John 12: 39-41.
In Rev. 4. and 5. we have glory restored to Christ at the throne of God, after His suffering unto death, and after the unworthiness of angels and men, and of spirits departed has been manifested; together with the burst of worship which greets the Father and the Son at the close of the chapter.
Thought not the being equal with God a glory to be jealously retained.
We have arrived at a passage confessedly very difficult. And the centre of the difficulty lies in the Greek word Harpagmos.
There are two main views concerning its meaning. 1. Some say it means the thing seized, and so should be translated booty, prize,
2. Some, that it means the act of seizure. This can be better substantiated from passages in the Greek. Does it then mean robbery, as our translators give it?
That rendering supposes a forcible act, seizing on something valuable possessed by another, and taken for ones own self. But such a sense is unsuitable here. For what perfection can be possessed by the creature [Page 27] which God has not? There is nothing valuable in the creature which God would seize on.
But there is another view of the word which falls in easily with the argument here. There are two modes of seizure, one the laying a forcible hold on some treasure to take it for ourselves. But we must refuse the idea of Gods seizing of any creature-perfection, to take it to Himself. All creature-perfection comes from God.
But there is also the retaining with firm grasp by the lawful possessor of something valued by himself; resenting the invasion of it by those to whom it belongs not.
This is the sense appropriate to the passage: the glory of God was the due of the Son of God. He might justly have held it fast, repelling all attempts to infringe, or abstract it. He knew it was His right. It was supported by the Father and by the Spirit.
Does any say that the possession of the form of God does not prove the possession of Godhead? Nay, but it does. Who could support for eternity the form of God or His glory, but One who was God? And the passage goes on to claim for Christ the being equal with God. That asserts the Saviours nature to be Gods. None but He who was God had a right to make the choice here given. None but He who was free from the duty and obligation which cling to the creature, and call for his obedience to the Most High as his King, could rightly so act. And where would be the humility of a creatures not claiming the Godhead!
But emptied Himself.
1. He gave up, not His divine nature, but its manifestation. He stripped Himself of the intense light in which God dwells. Dwelling in the light which none can approach unto. For God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
2. He withdrew from the
service and worship of his creatures. What a contrast to the Roman emperors [Page 28] and their keen and deadly resentment against any infringement of the
divine glory which they stole, or of the honour they possessed, as kings of
Her Majesty might if she would, leave her palace and attendance, her table, and robes, and be found dressed as a servant-maid, waiting at a farm-house in an obscure corner of her kingdom. She would then be the queen in the form of a servant, while her rights as a queen and empress would still be hers.
And took upon Him the form of a slave.
This supposes the Saviours pre-existence, and divine glory, before He appeared as Son of man. He divested Himself of His dues as Supreme Ruler over all, God blessed for ever, to take the place of the subject and the creature. Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered: Heb. 5.
But this very voluntary choice to descend, bespoke Him to be God. No creature has a right, nor a power, to change his place as given him by God. Because of so doing, angels fell in the days of Noah, and at the Flood were cast into Tartarus; being confined in cells of darkness: 2 Pet. 2.; Gen. 6.
And was born in the likeness of men.
This refers to the Saviours incarnation, and entering into the world of men by the humiliation of birth, and the feebleness of infancy. He might have taken the place of an unfallen angel; but He humbled Himself still further. The Great Creator became passive, taken up and laid down at the pleasure of others. So His humility was doubly shown; both by what He put off and by what He put on. And that, too, at a time, when Romes Emperors were putting to death at their pleasure whom they would, without form of trial; and robbing even their great men and officers of their wives; while they impiously assumed the rights of God, and were worshipped with temples, altars, and priests.
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made* of a woman, made* under the law, to buy out those under law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. The Most High owned Him as His Son at His baptism: and at the Transfiguration.
* Or, Born of a woman, born under the law.
8. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Here we have the further consequences of the Saviours humiliation. He was found on the earth, and in the ordinary visible conditions of men, (1) by man; and was treated with unbelief and cruelty by those whom He came to save. (2) He was found by God - also, as a man; and as one who had become from a Son His servant. The further consequences are stated at the close of the verse. (3) He was recognized as man, yet as more than man, by the demons. What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, the Nazarene? I know Thee, who Thou art, the Holy One of God.
Being found in fashion as a man. This does not assert that the doctrine of the Phantomists, - that He was a man in appearance only, being unpossessed of mans body and blood. On the contrary, He is here described as born and dying; truths which were rejected by those errorists.
He was at once taken for a man by all who saw Him. The woman of
So the word Being found in fashion as a man is used, because the interior nature within the manhood was different. The Son of God became a man. The Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten [Page 30] from the Father, full of grace and truth: John 1: 14. He was really a man; but He was more; and that is what is implied here. Of a mere man it would not be said, Being found in fashion as a man. It was the effect of His choice.
Men were displeased at One in all points apparently like themselves, yet asserting His Godhead. Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He saith, I came down out of heaven? John 6. Jesus answered them, when they attempted to stone Him, Many good works have I showed you from My Father; for which of them do ye stone Me? The Jews answered Him, saying, For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God: John 10. On the contrary, He being God, had humbled Himself to become man.
This verse, then, treats of the Saviours conduct after infancy and boyhood were past, and when, as the man He chose to humble Himself, aware of all that was coming upon Him. He might have chosen, when He was found on earth, to be an emperors son. But no, having become a Man, He stooped yet lower. After, being obedient to Joseph and Mary as the Child, He earned His bread by the sweat of His brow, as the Workman.
He did not exempt Himself from any of the trials of the life of man by putting forth the energies of Deity. Satan tempted our Lord in the wilderness so to act. If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Jesus replies, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Great generals have endeared themselves to their soldiers by themselves voluntarily partaking in the hunger, thirst, and fatigue, forced on them by the hardships of wars. The Saviour did more.
And became obedient to death.
In one view, the Saviours life was the result of His own choice. In another, it was the command of His Father. Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down my life (soul), that I may take it again. None taketh it from Me but I lay it down of myself, that I may take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father: John 10: 17, 18.
Even after the Lord Jesus had become Man, He was under no necessity of dying: for He was the Righteous One under law. And the man that doeth these things shall live in them. In the way of righteousness is life, and in the pathway thereof there is no death.
Here then we are led to the great crisis of
The death of the Cross. He must endure a death, the deepest in shame from men, Himself in pain, surrounded by foes, that took pleasure in adding to His sufferings, by taunts, and lies, and sneers. But the sorest portion of the cross was, that it set the person so dying under the curse of God, because of the sin of Eden, and the law of Moses.
But how could law curse One who was without sin? This point Paul in Galatians 3. settles for us. How, says he, did you receive the anointing of the Holy Ghost? By law? or by faith in the Gospel? It came as the consequence of your having received the righteousness of Christ; thus were you justified by faith, like Abraham your father, and set under blessing. For by birth and transgression you lay under the curse of law. How then could you arrive at blessing? By the Saviours enduring the curse of the law for you.
But how could law curse the Blessed One? The doers of the law shall be justified: Rom. 2: 13. And Christ was the great Doer of the law. God had provided for that difficulty in the manner of His death. If a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance: Dent. 21. Thus came the curse on our Lord. But the same word made it brief. He was not to hang under the curse beyond a day. Here the great woe of Satan is seen by contrast. He was in emblem hung on the tree in fetters of brass, as the serpent lifted up by Moses in the desert; and never can he escape from wrath into blessing.
1. Our Lord here is the moral opposite to Adam. Made out of dust, and put under law, Adam attempted to gain likeness to God by disobedience; disbelieving the threat of death; but finding death, and corruption after death, affixed to himself and his seed.
2. Herein our Redeemer is the moral opposite to the Roman Emperors. The four empires are described as wild beasts. As iron bruises and breaks all things, so would the fourth empire. Yea, its king would seize on Gods glory, and blaspheme. The Emperors tightly held the booty they had seized. They slew those who questioned their deeds. Julius Caesar, the first of the emperors, began to steal divine honours, and the populace after his death gave worship to his statue. My authority for this and the following facts is Suetonius. The taking off the head from the statue of Augustus was punished with death. Nero pulled down the statues of victors in the games, and put to death an actor superior to himself. Domitian threw to the dogs in the circus one of the spectators in the games for Impious Words, against himself the [Page 33] Lord and God. Wherefore God gave up more than two or three to the sword of the assassin. But there is one yet to arise, who shall outdo all former transgressors, coming forth for awhile from Gods prison of the lost, only to scoff at the majesty of Jehovah seated in His temple. But as he is enormous in guilt, he shall be pre-eminent in woe.
9-11. Therefore God hath super-exalted Him; and granted Him a name that is above every name, in order that at the name of JESUS every knee should bow, of those in the heavens,
and of those on earth, and of those under the earth. And that every tongue should
confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.
It is Gods principle, that he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. And who has humbled Himself like Jesus? His astonishing humility, His divine obedience, His perfect benevolence even to foes, call for this glory. Mans disobedient exaltation of himself was founded on unbelief, and he was sentenced to death and to dust. Twice Christ stooped; (1) from heaven to earth; (2) from earth to Hadees. He emptied Himself as Son of God; He humbled Himself as Son of man.
Therefore God, when His trial was over, raised Him above all creatures. He raised Him [out] from among the dead to the land of those living on earth. He lifted Him up from earth, by ascension to His own Presence of glory. He granted Him a name above every other name. Jesus humiliation was brief: His glory is for ever. No name in the past, the present, or the future will ever come up to its dignity and power. But as yet the glory of the Saviour is concealed from the sons of men. It is, therefore, Gods purpose in the Day of the [Millennial] Kingdom appointed Him, visibly to glorify Him; and to make all intelligent creatures show their assent.
While the Saviour surrendered His divine glory to save the lost, God shall restore it again to Him as Son of man in the appointed day.
1. The children of Israel shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy Mount at Jerusalem: Isa. 27: 12, 13; Psa. 95: 6.
2. It shall come to pass that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me, for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh: Isa. 66: 23, 24.
3. Every one that is left of all the nations that came up against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles: Zech. 14: 16.
4. When the Father a second time introduces the First-begotten into the habitable earth, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him: Heb. 1: 6 (Greek).
It was much more to the Apostles purpose to show that
equality with God, which of right belonged to Christ; than to speak of the
Saviours not coveting or not attempting to seize on a perfection belonging to
another. And the Philippians were to be taught, not tightly to retain their
privileges as Roman citizens, to which they had right by their birth; but to
stoop to inferiors. Paul does not accuse
the saints at
When the Father declared the Saviour to be His Son, it led Him
at once into conflict with Satan in the wilderness. And
God granted Him a name - Jesus - before His birth. The angel of the Lord says: She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins: Matt. 1: 21; Luke 1: 31. Simple as is the name, it contains within it the promise of the salvation of a multitude whom none can number.
The gift of a name by a king was an honour not bestowed, save on those with whom he was well pleased. So Pharaoh in exalting Joseph calls his name Zaphnath Paaneah: Gen. 41.
And to Daniel is given the name of Belteshazzar, by way of honour: Dan. 5: 11.
So Jehovah changed in part the names of Abram and of
Sarai. And he says to David, I have made thee a
great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth:
2 Sam. 7.
But the name of the Son of David is greater
far. Davids was great on earth; but
here is one who is to be ruler of three worlds. Caesar, the name of
10. In order that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and those under the earth.
This glory is to be manifested in the coming day appointed by God. Of this Josephs exaltation from the dungeon to be next the throne of Pharaoh, was a type. Heralds shouted before Joseph Bow the knee!
When the hour of the Saviours humiliation had come, His dignity was mocked. The soldiers clothe Jesus, when condemned, with a scarlet robe, plait a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, with a reed in His right hand; and they bowed the knee before Him, [Page 36] and mocked Him, saying, Hail (rejoice), King of the Jews! And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head: Matt. 27: 28-30.
But in the coming day the bending of the knee will be the adoration of Him as divine. As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God: Rom. 14.
In this Gospel-day some gladly bend the knee to Christ, and confess Him Lord, not by the lip only, but with the heart. He calls believers to confess His Lordship by being immersed: Acts 2: 38.
Intelligent beings are here divided into three orders, according to their abode. They are to celebrate Christ by the posture of the body suited to adoration; and by the tongue, which bespeaks intelligent worship rendered Him by both soul and spirit.
So we read in Rev. 5: 13: And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Christ has belonged to the three classes.
1. Originally residing in heaven, He stooped to become a man on earth. And at length He died, and descended among the dead [in the underworld of Hades]. But God by resurrection lifted Him out from Hadees, and set Him for forty days among the men of earth. Then He caused Him to ascend to the angels. But beyond the highest of those, He lifted up Jesus to His own right hand. His divine glory shall one day be manifested by the obedience and worship of the elect angels.
The saved of earth shall, most of
them, pass through these three classes.
Inhabitants of earth, at death they go down among the dead; but shall be
raised and ascend to dwell in the heavenly city of
Some may doubt, whether those of the underworld are departed spirits in Hadees. Let us then look at some texts which speak on this point.
What says our Lord, when speaking of His death?
An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas; for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whales belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth: Matt. 12: 39, 40.
Does that mean that His body should lie in the tomb of the rock? By no means. The rock was hardly the skin of the earth. Jonah was in the deep interior of the fish and was sensible of his situation. The corpse of the Saviour was not sensible, while laid in the tomb.
He expounded the matter to us more clearly when He said to the
penitent robber, Verily, I say unto thee,
To-day shalt thou be with Me
Peter at Pentecost says of the Saviour, He (David) seeing this before spake concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His, soul was not left in Hadees, neither did His flesh, [in the tomb] see corruption: Acts 2: 31.
And Paul says: Who shall descend into the bottomless pit? (Greek) that is, to bring up Chris again from the dead: Rom. 10: 7. And in Ephesians: Now that He (Christ) ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?: Eph. 4: 9.
Then, in relation to the saved departed, our Lord says, On this rock [Christ Himself risen] I will build My Church, and the gates of Hadees shall not [as they [Page 38] now do] prevail against it. As neither did they prevail against the Great Head. Because it was not possible that He should be holden [fast] by it: Acts 2. Our Lord says: I have the keys of Hadees, and of Death: Rev. 1: 18.
When the Lamb takes the Book - Every creature which is in (1) heaven, and on the (2) earth, and (3) under the earth, and such as are in the sea, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever: Rev. 5. Also at the final judgment - when the earth flees away. The sea gave up the dead which were in it, and Death and Hadees gave up the dead which were in them: Rev. 20.
And every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Already evil spirits that have entered into men are obliged to come out when commanded in this Name. Through using effectually this Name to the Pythoness, Paul and Silas were degraded, and made to suffer. If any Jew should confess, that Jesus was the Christ, it was agreed among the rulers, that he should be put out of the synagogue: John 9. Peter at Pentecost testifies, that God had made the same Jesus whom they had crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Many already confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, by immersion into His name (Acts 2: 38), and by acts of worship, as prayer and thanksgiving.
1. Jesus is the Saviours human name, given Him before He was born.
2. Christ, or the Anointed is the name given to distinguish Him from Joshua, who was not, anointed. It is a name applied to the Saviour after His baptism, when the Holy Ghost descended on Him as the dove.
3. Lord is the name given after His resurrection. God hath made that same Jesus whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ. The Saviour was Lord by nature. But He emptied Himself of that glory, to [Page 39] become a servant. He is promoted to be Lord, or Ruler and Disposer of all things, and of all beings: Luke 2: 29; Acts 4: 24. He has purchased all by His self-humiliation unto death: 2 Pet. 2: 1; Jude 4; Rev. 6: 10. He shall resume the form of God, which for awhile, for our sakes, He had given up.
The Roman emperors stole this title of our Lord, and their
subjects proclaimed and enforced the worship of the emperors, in opposition to
the worship of Christ. When the full
time of wickedness is come, a Roman emperor exalts himself above every God and
every object of worship, speaking blasphemy against Jehovah. The height of his sin is his session in the
To the glory of God the Father.
The Saviours Jewish foes declared, that He cast out demons through BeeIzebub, prince of the demons: Matt. 12. When He was crucified, they sneered at Him, for presumptuously calling Himself Son of God; as was proved, to their minds, by His not being delivered from the cross. He trusted in God let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him; for He said: I am the Son of God: Matt. 27.
The rejection of Christ by men was a reproach to God the Father. It shall be seen in the coming Day of His Glory, that God is indeed His Father. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee! And again, I will be to Him a Father and He shall be to Me a Son. And when He again bringeth in the First begotten into the habitable earth He saith: And let all the angels of God worship Him: Heb. 1. The Righteous Judge cannot but exalt His Son, as the One alone worthy to have dominion over all the works of His hands.
So, while we cannot descend from our place at our own choice, as did Christ; we may yet imitate Him by a kind and condescending spirit. And as we are made sons of God by grace, we may, if counted worthy, reign with Him a thousand years.
12, 13. So then, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence, with fear and trembling work out your
own salvation. For it is God who worketh in you both the willing
and the doing, in pursuance of His good pleasure.
Here we have set before us the practical consequences of the preceding instructions of the Apostle, Obey!
Work out your own salvation.
Salvation as it was a gift, was already theirs. But there was to be yet seeking on their part for the prize of their calling. And in order to this, care, and adhesion to the commands given, were required. Of the blest result at last, and of the spotless obedience on the way, Christ is the perfect example.
The spirit in which the prize was to be sought, was Fear and trembling.
The first of these words relates, I believe, to their feeling
toward God. It was to be, as our Lord
tacitly hints, the contrary to
So in Romans the Apostle puts the fear of God as the contrast to vain trust in self, Because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear; Rom. 11. Trembling [Page 41] rather becomes you in view of your weakness, and the danger of the loss of the great [Millennial] glory proposed to you.
Work out, or work down to the end set before you. God has given you a height from which it is
comparatively easy to work on to the completion of the task. He has made you sons, and then He calls on
you to seek first the
He works in you both the willingness
to run the race, and the steady pursuit of it.
Beware, then, lest you provoke Him, as did
He works in you to this end, not as a matter of justice, but of grace. For, He resists the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Fear not, little flock; it was your Fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Now the righteous by faith shall live; but if he draw back, My soul hath no pleasure in him: Heb. 10.
14. Do all things without murmurings and disputings, that ye may become blameless
and harmless, children of God without spot in the midst of a crooked and perverse
generation, among whom ye appear as light-bearers in the world: Holding up
the Word of Life; a boasting to me in the day of Christ, that I have
not run in vain, or laboured in vain.
Just the contrary to this was the course of
The Philippian believers were by nature of the worlds spirit; and the Apostle bids them become, by the power of God, of the opposite tempers. Outsiders complained of the perpetual elbowing and strife; evil [Page 42] words flew fast; and out of them came the plotting and doing mischief. They were to be children of God without spot; a contrast in spirit, word, and deed to the ambitious, envious, dissatisfied, around them.
The generation around them were seed of the Old Serpent, crooked and deceitful, choosing a life against God, and against their own real interests. The world is dark, and they as saints were to be Gods light-bearers. This the Saviour appointed at the opening of His first sermon. Ye are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Is there here an allusion to the jailors call, when awaked by the earthquake, and hampered by the darkness around, he called aloud for Lights! Gods truth is light: and it shows the Christian the path he is to tread. The worldly man is a lamp unlit; the Christian a lighted lamp; not designed for himself alone, but to benefit others.
He is a lighthouse for the tempest-tossed. He shows life to be within the reach of the lost. It is the Word of Life.* As presented at first to them, it was given from the lips of Paul. It was now confirmed by his pen.
* Some of the Roman emperors bore with them books of death. They wrote down in them the names of those whom they intended to slay.
The Acts shows us how the foundation was laid. But the foundation is to be followed by the superstructure. Faith is the true foundation; but Christ looks for works as the fruit. Reward is at last to be granted according to works.
So would they be a recommendation of Paul, and of the
commission given him by the Lord Jesus.
They would show in the Great Day of Christ, that
he had behaved with all diligence and uprightness. Not vain were his travels from
17, 18. But even if I be poured out as a libation on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all. In like manner do ye also joy and rejoice with me.
Even if Paul should be slain, as he was a little later on, he would be as the drink-offering of wine poured over the sacrifice and service of the Philippians faith. This marks the new style of Christian sacrifice brought in by the Gospel.
Under the law it was, And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat-offering of the morning, and according to the drink-offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire to the Lord: Ex. 29. Then shall he that offereth his offering unto the Lord bring a meal-offering of a tenth-deal of flour, mingled with the fourth part of a hin of oil. And the fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink-offering shalt thou prepare with the burnt-offering or sacrifice, for one lamb: Num. 15: 5.
Paul would rejoice in the fulfilling of his course, conformed to the pattern of Christs death, and [as a consequence, the] assurance of a place in the First Resurrection.
Here is the new light brought in by the resurrection of
Christ, which scatters the darkness of the tomb. That rests on nature, and on the law of Moses. The
death of a believer, yea, not even his violent death is
to be celebrated with heavy sorrow such as we read of in the Acts after the
stoning of the Lords servant, Stephen.
It was a time of great persecution; before which the
The Philippian Christians were not to seek to avenge Pauls death, as under the law. Nor would he say, as did Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, The Lord look upon it [my blood] and require it : 2 Chron. 24: 20, 21.
19-24. But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy quickly to you, that I also may be of good cheer, having learned news of your affairs. For I have none like-minded who will genuinely
be careful for your interests. For all are seeking their own interests; not those of Christ
Jesus. But ye know the proof of him, that as a child with a father, he has served with
me in the Gospel. Him then I hope to send, immediately, as soon as I shall
see clearly the issue of my own case. But I trust in the Lord,
that I also shall come quickly.
Twice the Apostle hopes to send Timothy. He speaks more confidently concerning himself. I trust, and not in the flesh, but in the Lord; to come myself in person.
He praises greatly both Timothy and Epaphroditus. So also does the Lord Jesus freely give praise wherever He can.
In our day and land, there is great parsimony of praise among believers. Some would tell you, they are afraid of puffing up those whom they commend. How is it that men are wiser than God? What says Paul? I am become a fool in boasting; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended by you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing: 2 Cor. 12.
The Apostle in the verses under notice is tacitly acting out himself the instructions he has given in verses 3 and 4 of this chapter. In lowliness of mind let each esteem others more than themselves. How he praises, and so heartily, Timothy and Epaphroditus! About his own praises he is silent: ver. 24.
Again: Look not each on his own interests, but each also on the interests of others. Would not Paul, in the lowliness of his imprisonment have wished to retain with him both the brethren whom, he so praises? [Page 45] No doubt! But the Philippians interests required him to send away both; and without a murmur he submits.
Even in the Apostles day [regenerate] believers were pressing on to secure their own temporal interests, rather than those of Christ. But Timothy might be trusted with heartiness to seek the spiritual interests of the Philippians. He would second the commands given by Paul, and lead them on zealously to secure the prize of their calling.
25-30. But I considered it necessary to send you Epaphroditus, my brother, and fellow-labourer, and fellow-soldier, but your apostle, and waiter upon my need. For he was longing after
you all, and cast down, because ye heard that he was sick. And indeed he was sick,
and near death; but God had mercy upon him, and not on him alone, but
on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
The more diligently, therefore, did I send him, in order that when ye see him
again ye may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful.
Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy, and hold such worthy of honour;
because for the work of Christ he drew near to death, not regardful of his life,
that he might fill up your lack of service to me.
But little need be said on these verses. They exhibit a beautiful picture of Christian affection and sympathy.
By the statement that Epaphroditus was their apostle, I do not think it is meant, that he was commissioned by the church to travel to Paul with their gift; but that he was angel, or stationary Apostle of the Church at Philippi. And then we have the three orders of church officers noted in this epistle, (1) apostle, (2) joint-bishops, and (3) deacons.
Epaphroditus was indeed sick, almost to death, by having overworked himself in service to Paul.
Some in our day seem to think that the Christian ought never to be ill; that it bespeaks some sin in him, [Page 46] which God has visited with illness as a token of His displeasure. What shall we say then of the Christians death? Ought he ever to die; at least by internal, disorder? He must be sharp-sighted, who can see such an implication here! The good man is praised for such hard work as he engaged in on Pauls behalf. And such are worthy of honour, says the Holy Spirit; for work for Christ, or for His body, the Church, is of more importance than life. The world might count Epaphroditus a fool for jeopardizing his life; but they were not so to regard the matter. It was service to Christ, and that is a matter more important than life.
* * *
1. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you,
to me indeed is not irksome, but for you it is safe.
The kingdom being taken away from
The grounds of the rejoicing of the men of law were very different from the Christians under grace. In the law, or the five books of Moses, we have never mention, I believe, of rejoicing in the Lord. The Jew must rejoice in his portion in the land; he could not rejoice in his own righteousness.
1. He was to rejoice before the Lord seven days,
when he had gathered in the fruit of the land; it was the Feast of
Tabernacles, when he was to dwell in booths made of the branches of trees. And he was to [Page 47] keep the feast in
There shall ye eat before the Lord your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the Lord thy God hath blessed thee.
This is the first finally; another occurs in 4: 8. If I mistake not, the first finally refers to the joy arising out of the first knowledge of Christ, as our Righteousness; the second relates to the after-knowledge, connected with the hope of the First Resurrection.
The phrase Rejoice in the Lord occurs first in the Psalms, and very significantly
the command is given in connection with righteousness.
Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: Psa.
See again Isa. 61: 10: I will greatly rejoice
in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful
in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of
salvation; He hath covered me with the robe of
righteousness. A third example of
joy in the Lord is found in the ninety-seventh Psalm, where the joy is over the [messianic]
The sentiment and the phrase occur also in the New Testament, and the call to joy is given by our Lord. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: Matt. 5: 12; Luke 6: 22, 23. That must be a robust joy, which can find occasion to arise in the midst of trouble. It is a joy derived from [Messiahs millennial] glory to come. Reviled on earth, the Christian is to rejoice over a name written in heaven: Luke 10: 20. It is a rejoicing in hope, for God will anoint His [accounted worthy*] people in the coming day with the oil of gladness.
[* Luke 20: 35, R.V.]
To write the same things to you, to me is not irksome, but for you it is safe.
What are the same things which Paul was not tired of repeating, and that were profitable to the Philippian saints? I think it is the rejoicing in the Lord, which is noticed in various forms some eighteen times in this brief epistle.
This falls in very readily too with the following context, where the righteousness of the Gospel is contrasted with that of the law.
2, 3. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workmen, beware of the slashing.
For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God, and
boast in Christ Jesus, and trust not in the flesh.
Thrice the article is used in the description. The parties were well known.
1. Beware of the dogs.
The Gentiles were dogs, as
being unbelieving and
unclean. The people of
We have been washed.
2. Beware of the evil workmen.
1. They were evil workmen, in misinstructing those whom they drew over to law. Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves: Matt. 23.
2. They were evil workmen in resisting the Gospel of Gods grace and in seeking to slay those that belonged to Christ. Observe, Paul does not teach, that one religion is as good as another, if you are only sincere.
3. Beware of the slashers* (literally, slashing.) They regarded the mark in the flesh alone, and refused the reality which was intended to be set forth in emblem.
* This seems the true reading.
The two forms of law: (1) the law of man and of
This then is a caution like that given to the Galatians.
Be not led back from Christ and grace, to Moses, flesh, and law. There is in law nothing but a curse for the sinner.
For ye are the circumcision.
Even under Moses, the reality of holiness, of which circumcision was the sign, was called for. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked: Deut 10: 16; 30: 6; Lev. 26: 41. Behold their ear is uncircumcised; and they cannot hearken: Jer. 6: 10. Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye: Acts 7: 51.
It is remarkable, that baptism, as the sign of the acceptance of the Gospel, is not named
here; while such stress is laid on circumcision.
But [believers] baptism is not forgotten; it has a
prominent place given it in the history of the preaching at
2. The jailor took them the
same hour of the night and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his straightway. Acts 16.
The baptism too of Paul, the preacher at
Now come three characteristics of the true circumcision, in opposition to three characters of the slashing.
Who worship by the Spirit of God.`
The Jews worship by the fallen flesh of man; and the flesh is unclean. We worship the Father in sincerity and truth: John 4. Theirs is ceremonial religion without heart, But the Holy Spirit has begotten again those who are Christs; that they may worship in faith and love.
And boast in Christ Jesus.
We boast in Christ as our Righteousness, and His being our round of resurrection.
And trust not in the flesh.
Moses, at the conclusion of the law promises from God that circumcision of the heart, and love of God, which we have now : Dent. 30: 1-6; Col. 2: 11.
4-6. Although I am in possession of ground of confidence, even in the flesh. Circumcised
the eighth day, of the stock
of Hebrews; concerning law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal,
persecuting the Church; concerning the righteousness
which is in the law having proved blameless.
He who here calls Gentiles away from trusting in the law is
not a Gentile, nor one who could not boast in the flesh. He had more and weightier boasts on this
ground than most of
Seven are Pauls boasts; divided, as usual, into four and three; or more accurately still 1 + 3 + 3 = 7.
The four first relate to his purity of descent, and to the initial rite of law. Confidence in the flesh or distrust of it made the great difference between Jew and Christian.
The three last give us a view of his life as a son of the law. When he arrived at manhood he acted out the principles of which he boasted.
1. Circumcised the eighth day.
He was no proselyte, circumcised in later life: but he was bound over to keep the whole law on the very day named in the covenant of circumcision made with Abraham.
2. Of the stock of
A son of Abraham by the line of Jacob.
3. Of the tribe of Benjamin.
He belonged not to any of the ten tribes, that fell away to idolatry; but was one of the two that adhered to David and his house. The temple too was fixed in the lot of Benjamin.
4. An Hebrew sprung from Hebrews.
His line was not defiled by the admission of any Gentile, on the male or female side.
Now come the three boasts resting on his conduct after having attained to manhood.
5. As regards law, a Pharisee.
He belonged not to the unorthodox sect of the Sadducees.
6. As regards zeal, persecuting the Church. - An evil workman.
No doubt this was in the eyes of the Jews a merit and a boast, that scarce any other Jew could assert.
7. As it regards the righteousness that is in the law, having proved blameless.
So he said, while trusting in the flesh.
It is not said Having been found blameless. He is speaking of himself as looked at by
How then could he be condemned by law? The last of the ten commandments overthrew all his righteousness. Thou shalt not covet. He had never stolen but he had coveted. For I was alive without the law once; but when the [10th] commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment which was for life, I found to be unto death: Rom. 7.
When the Jewish rite is looked at by Paul the Christian, it is put last with a note of displeasure.
Slashing. When regarded by Paul, as a Jew, it is called by its usual name, circumcision, and is put first in the picture of righteousness under law, because it bound a man to observe all the law.
7. But the things that were to me gains, these I counted loss because of the Christ.
These seven boasts were to Pauls mind
of nature, his gains. But he stands here upon
the ground of the Saviours parable about the
But when he had found one pearl of great value, he went away, sold all that he had, and bought it.
This is what the Apostle tells us here that he did. He gave up all the previous pearls of his acquirement, smitten with a sense of the superiority of the righteousness of the Christ.
It illustrates also for us the parable of the Wedding garment. The king, before his son enters, casts a look around on the guests mustered for the feast; and finds one who has come into the banquet-room in his working-clothes. Comrade, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Men in general are but too ready to justify themselves even at the expense of truth. And here was a ready excuse for him; that he had been invited, from working on the highway, to enter the marriage feast. Whence should a poor man like himself be able to procure apparel suited to a royal feast? This, then, was a defence which he knew he could not offer, without being condemned. That supposes then, that on entering the palace, he had had presented to him a robe, which the servants told him was provided by the king for all who would have part in the wedding-feast of the kings son. He must, therefore, have refused it in pride. And though, on entering the hall, he finds the other guests apparelled in the wedding-garment provided by the king he still doggedly keeps his place, and his soiled garments.
Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot and take him away, and cast him into the darkness outside: there shall be weeping and gnashing [Page 54] of teeth: Matt. 22. He who will keep [only]* his own righteousness has no right to a place in the coming [millennial] glory.*
[* See Matt. 5: 20; 7: 21. There must be a distinction made between the eternal glory in a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21: 1), from the coming millennial glory which will, after Messiahs second advent, be established and seen throughout this sin-cursed earth, (Rom. 8: 18-22, R.V.).]
Paul esteemed his previous gains loss. So entirely were his views changed. And his soul was in harmony with the testimony of the prophet. - We are all as an unclean thing; and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags: Isa. 64: 6.
One of his former boasts proclaims him (1) persecutor of the members of Christ. The seven boasts kept (2) him from accepting the righteousness of Christ, by fostering his pride. (3) They kept him from eternal life and [millennial] glory.
Loss, because of the Christ.
The article before Christ is important; as it presents to us Christ the Head, and His members in union with Him, or The Mystic Christ; as we find it written in another place. For as the Body is one, and hath many members, but all the members of the one Body, being many, are one Body; so also is THE CHRIST: 1 Cor. 12: 12.
Now this truth is vividly presented to us on the occasion of Pauls arrest by the Lord Jesus. Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou ME? Who art Thou, Lord? I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. The persecuted saints are identified by Christ with Himself. And Paul was struck with astonishment and dread, at his guilt, and his danger. This testimony of the Lord Jesus was the foundation-principle of his new faith. And none seems to have felt with so overwhelming a force this blessed truth, as the Apostle who was once the chief persecutor unto death of the members of Christ. Therefore this scene, and in almost the same words, is given thrice in the Acts.
1. First it is recorded by Luke in its place in the history: Acts 9.
2. Then twice is it appealed to by Paul, as the warrant for
his change from Judaism to Christ. First
3. Then before King Agrippa the Jew, and Festus the Roman governor, at the Gentile capital, Cesarea chap. 26.
This view of the Christ on high in the
glory of God confessing believers of this dispensation to be His members,
overpowered all resistance in the Apostles mind. He beheld Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and
sanctification and redemption:
that, according as it is
written, He that boasteth, let him boast in the Lord: 1 Cor. 1: 30, 31. And so he ever after did. With all his heart he sought thenceforward to
be one of the members of that Risen and Glorified Head, Christ Jesus. What was
Let us glance at the blessings promised by law; and we shall see how shallow and brief they seemed to the Apostle, as compared with the glories which he beheld in the Christ, or the Son of God risen [out] from the dead, and in His companions.
The blessings to be gained by
obedience are detailed both in (1) Leviticus, and in (2) Deuteronomy. Why?
(2) In Deuteronomy 28. we have the twelve tribes divided into two bodies, one of six tribes to proclaim the blessings; and one of the remaining six to proclaim the curses. But the curses come first, and shut out the blessings.
But a hope is attached to Gods grace, to be put forth on them in the latter day: Deut. 30.
Which then would they choose? Life or death?
We can see, then, how Pauls eye, enlightened to discern the righteousness of Christ and the spiritual and eternal blessings in Him, could look with comparative contempt on these national and earthly blessings, when viewed in the light of the glory of Christ, and of those united to Him, His fellows.
In verse 8 we have Pauls present mature thoughts as compared with his first sentiments.
But the Greek verb is in the perfect tense, and that includes the present effects of his change of view.
Yes; but the sentiment of verse 8 is a new one, greatly enlarged beyond the statement in verse 7. His previous knowledge was that of law, and of his own righteousness in accordance therewith. But now he rejects everything [Page 57] that stands in the way of the knowledge of Christ, and he accounts all to be not only loss, but dung.
8. Yea, moreover, and I count all things to be loss, because of the superiority of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and I count
them but dung, that I may gain Christ.
Here is advance upon the statements of the preceding verse. Not merely did he count his seven boasts loss, but all other things that would turn him away from the knowledge of the new object, Christ.
He had previously been learned in the law of Moses, and the traditions of the Pharisees, beyond his equals in age. He had learned concerning Adam, his first brightness, his fall and his sentence. But here was the last Adam, arisen out of death [and Hades, the place of the dead*], bringing righteousness and eternal life not to be won from law. Law properly lowered mans vain thoughts of himself by weighing him in Gods balances; but it did not supply his need of a righteousness in which to stand before the Judge. Moses displayed to man his debts which he could not pay. But in Christ he now saw the Law Fulfiller. The unclean, upon touching the fringe of the robe of Jesus the Lord our Righteousness, became cleansed and righteous.
[* Acts 2: 31, R.V.]
Moses was once Pauls master, now it is Christ Jesus my Lord. This is My Beloved Son hear Him! Observe here the change in the description of the Saviour. It is no longer the Christ Mystic; the Apostle speaks of Christ Jesus my Lord. He is now speaking of Christ as the individual, the risen Son of God.
Moses was a sinner, shut out of the land, and buried by God in some spot unknown. But Christ Jesus, who was laid in the sepulchre for others sins, has left the tomb empty, to seat Himself at Gods right hand in heavenly places.
For whom I have suffered the loss of all things.
With the giving up of Moses as his master he lost the earthly
heritage and benefits attached to law.
While obedient to the Old Covenant, he was to enjoy all fleshly
blessings in earthly places. When he
turned away he lost his former reputation, and became a turn-coat and a
madman. What a proof it was of the
reality and intensity of his convictions, that he was content to be so
despoiled! But the truth he taught
others, he felt himself. Through many
troubles we must enter the [millennial]
And I count them but dung.
What was the value of all that he had lost? What was it, in comparison of what he had gained instead? Dung! He had won instead all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. He made no effort to recover, in whole or in part, what he had been despoiled of. As the father of Mr. Wesley said of his burning house, after his children were set in safety, Let the house go, neighbours; I have here all my children. How unlike to robbed Micah, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away, and what have I more?
The Saviour when advised to add a fast to those appointed by the law, refused. His was new wine, which required new bottles of skin.
In order that I might gain Christ.*
* No article before Christ.
The gaining of Christ takes place now. Else he would not be found in Christ in the coming day of account. He was at first a foe of Christ. He passed over to belong to Christ, as Peter had taught. Repent, and be immersed every one of you on the authority of Jesus Christ, unto the remission of sins. Or, as Ananias sent by Christ instructed Paul, And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be immersed, and bathe away thy sins, having called on the name of the Lord. Therein was a visible testimony to his [Page 59] nation, to the Church, and to himself, that he had left Moses. He put off at once both Adam and Moses. Wherefore the Law was our school-master up to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. For ye are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as have been immersed into Christ have put on Christ. Immersion compels a man to carry out the figure. The old wet clothes must be put off; the new and clean put on. There is also the coming up out of the water (no more to enter it) at Christs command. He gains Christ then who puts off his own righteousness, and unrighteousness; and who, putting on Christ, continues of the same mind and faith to the end.
9. And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which comes out of law, but that
which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is out from God on faith.*
* Or on that faith. [See Greek.] See Note A. Appendix.
This refers to the coming day of judgment, when a mans trial is over, and when, after examination by the Judge, he reaps the result of life. Found is a word often occurring in law. All persons found trespassing will be prosecuted. The verdict was, Found guilty. Thou art weighed in the balances, and found wanting. I find in Him no fault at all. See also 2 Cor. 5: 3; 2 Tim. 1: 18; 1 Pet. 1: 7; 2 Pet. 3: 14; Rev. 20: 11, 15.
Now there is present choice, and activity; then comes the being set passively before the Judge, to receive the award. Paul would abide in Christ, and so be adjudged in that day to be in Him. For Paul would continue of the same mind to the end.
Not having mine own righteousness, which comes out of law.
Where Moses speaks of righteousness, as demanded by God from man, it is to discourage the thought that they had it. Speak not thou in thy heart saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: Dent. 9: 4. Job at first holds fast to it. My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: Job 27: 6. But afterwards he withdraws the vain attempt to establish his righteousness before God.
The true My righteousness is where God speaks, commending it as provided by Himself for lost man. Hearken unto Me, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness: I bring near My rightecusness; it shall not be far off, and My salvation (dependent thereon) shall not tarry: Isa. 46: 13. And again, My righteousness is near; My salvation is gone forth, 51: 5.
Paul has set before us his boasts, as the man obedient to law. Twice is law named in his boasts. As touching law, a Pharisee. Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
When righteousness is said to be, in the law, it is where Paul is describing his choice of law, and his abiding in it. But here it is Righteousness out of law. Law is the field - by diligence in cultivation of which, righteousness was to be obtained, as the harvest. Here it is supposed that the harvest is come, and that righteousness is borne away as the result.
Not mine own righteousness. Here Paul strips off his apron of fig-leaves, to put on the coat of skin, of Jehovahs making. He puts away, not his sins, but the best products of his life. He saw the fatal defects of his own righteousness. The mind of the flesh is enmity against God: Rom. 8. How should [Page 61] enmity love God with all the heart? Law forbids lusts. I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not lust (covet): Rom. 7: 7. But wherever the flesh is found, there are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.
Righteousness then is of faith; that it might be by grace: Rom. 4: 16.
But that which is by means of faith in Christ.
The righteousness is that which was wrought by Christ during His life. Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Jesus Christ is the Righteous. Faith in Christ is the hand that puts on Christ. We are made one with Him, and His righteousness becomes ours. He who is in Christ is righteous with the righteousness of Christ. If any sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins: 1 John 2: 1. Under law each one was to stand and be judged by his own individual righteousness. The man that doeth those things shall live in them Rom. 10: 4. But now there is only one righteousness for all the saved. It is that which once belonged to Another, but is now made available to every one that believeth. Laws means of righteousness is doing, or obedience to Gods commands. The Gospels means is belief in the Son of God as our righteousness. Faith is not righteousness. It is only the hand that puts it on. As there is but One owned of God to be righteous by law, Ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus: 1 Cor. 6: 11.
And righteousness is needed; a spotless righteousness, in the Great Day. For the wrath of God from heaven is revealed on all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men: Rom. 1: 18.
The righteousness which is from God on faith.
Literally, the righteousness is out of God. Therefore it cannot be, as some would have it, the attribute of [Page62] justice, which must ever dwell in God. It is a righteousness which derives its origin not from man, but from the Most High, and which proceeds from Him to us, and for us. Their righteousness is from Me, saith the Lord: Isa. 54: 17. Let the skies pour down righteousness, let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation; and let righteousness spring up together; I Jehovah have created it: Isa. 45: 8. Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength: ver. 24. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation: Psa. 24: 5. It was to be obtained as Abraham obtained it: Isa. 51: 1, 2.
Hence it is called in Romans, the righteousness of God. For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God by faith is revealed to faith as it is written, Now the righteous by faith shall live. For the wrath of God from heaven is revealed on all ungodliness and unrighteousness: Rom. 1: 16-18.
And again, But now the righteousness of God without law hath been manifested, being witnessed by the law, and the prophets. I mean the righteousness of God, which is by faith in Jesus Christ for all, and on all that believe: Rom. 3: 21, 22.
1. The Greek preposition may also be translated as a particle of time. On faith, as soon as it exists.
2. Or For the benefit of faith.
3. But the translation of the preposition as related to place and the destination of God, is far superior; it means a garment resting on the shoulders of the man of faith. It is thus brought into connection with other passages.
1. After the entrance of sin by our first parents disobedience to law, we read as the immediate result: [Page 63] And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons. They feel the need of covering, now that they have received the knowledge of right and wrong.
But when they appear before God, they are sensible still of nakedness, and Adams defence of himself because of his hiding from God, but draws out the proof of his guilt. I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. Unrighteousness is nakedness before the Judge; and Adam finds that the covering of his own manufacture is worthless. But then comes grace. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
2. Again: I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation. He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness: Isa. 61: 10.
3. Again: When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment. And he saith unto him, Comrade (not friend), how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? Matt. 22. He was just the opposite to Paul, who put off his own righteousness to take that provided by God.
4. Again: Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision? or upon the uncircumcision also? For we are saying, that faith was reckoned to Abraham unto (not for) righteousness: Rom. 4: 9.
5. What then shall we say? that
Gentiles who were not pursuing after righteousness, have obtained righteousness, I
mean the righteousness which is by faith. But
6. Once more: For they (Jews) being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and attempting to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of law, unto righteousness to every one that believeth: Rom. 10: 3, 4.
7. For ye are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were immersed unto Christ, put on Christ: Galatians 3: 27.
8. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy; and on the Israel of God: 6: 16.*
* See also Job 29: 14; John 1: 32, 33; Mark 1: 11; Matt. 3: 16; Luke 2: 22.
9. But now without law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God, which is by faith in Jesus Christ, for all [provided of God for whoever will] and UPON all them that believe: Rom. 3: 22. Here is the result of the offer; - that righteousness clothes all who believe.
10. And a great sign was seen in the heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
The woman here is
The source of this righteousness is, not law, but God. The righteousness is not of my working, but of Christs; but as I wear it, and it clothes me, it is mine. Its effect is Gods glory, who devised it, fulfilled it, and [Page 65] applies it; and not my glory. Law gives not, and cannot give us the knowledge of our [imputed or accredited] righteousness.
For by the law is the knowledge of SIN: Rom. 3: 20.
11. And the effects of both sin and righteousness are given in that word: The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him; and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him: Ezek. 18: 20.
10, 11. That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship
in His sufferings, being conformed unto His death; If by any means I may
attain unto the select resurrection that is from among the dead.
That I may know Him.
This, I believe, gives us a second and further view of the superiority of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, named in verse 8. That was in the next verse, shown to be the finding in Christ a righteousness, which neither Adam nor Moses can bestow.
Here we have the second step, after the surrender of hopes springing from flesh and from law. When we take the righteousness of Christ as ours, we become one with Him by faith. We are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus: 1 Cor. 6.
Law would have us justified in our own name, if we had wrought
righteousness ourselves. While Paul was
under Moses, he was high in reputation with
1. Take now the Saviours final
commission to the disciples in Matthew.
The believers go to the appointed Mount in
Go ye therefore, (travel) and disciple all the nations, immersing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
1. Here we have the FIRST KNOWLEDGE of Christ, as (1) the Risen One, and (2) as the Lord. On this foundation at once immersion into the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit is to follow. God is One - and therefore we have - the Name; not names. In the Unity of God there is a Trinity of Persons.
2. Then comes the AFTER-KNOWLEDGE. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo! I am with you all the days unto the end of the age. After the reception of baptism comes the being instructed in many new truths, even all that was taught by the Saviour. And His mighty power as Immanuel, God with us, is to be experienced day by day, till the ending of this evil age in judgment is come; and obedient disciples are to be caught away out of earth to meet the Saviour in air, and to receive a place in the millennial kingdom of glory. The [regenerate] believer is to seek first this kingdom, and all that is necessary by the way shall be added.
II. Take as a second example the Lords commission as given in Mark. The eleven are rebuked by Christ for unbelief in His resurrection, although more than two or three messengers of the truth had been sent them.
They are to go forth to spread the good news of the Redeemers resurrection, far as the world extends. He that believeth and is immersed shall be saved; but he that believeth not [though he be immersed] shall be damned. What a proof of the necessity of faith to a right immersion before God! Baptism without faith avails not to save !
Then are given signs of the coming millennial kingdom of power and glory.
1. In My name (believers) shall cast out demons. This is a token and testimony of that happy day when Satan and his angels shall be cast into the Bottomless Pit, and the nations shall no longer be deceived.
2. They shall speak with new tongues. Grace came with the Holy Spirit; and the power of speaking languages never learned, was one of His gifts. Probably this may indicate that but one language shall prevail on millennial earth.
3. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt
of earth are the representative of the Tempter, who deceived our first parents,
and brought them under death and the curse.
4. They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. This gift, token of the kingdom in which diseases shall be removed, and death checked, was given as soon as the Holy Spirit came down.
III. Let our third and last example be Pauls leave-taking at
He committed them to God, and to the word of His grace, which was able to build them up, and to give them inheritance among the sanctified. Here are both the knowledge of Christ, and the after-knowledge, stated together.
We have in this passage, I believe, an example of the two
great divisions of Christianity: (1) KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST; (2)
and AFTER-KNOWLEDGE. This distinction appears in the two
different ways in which
1. First we have Pauls testimony outside the city, his
oral teaching beside the river.
Here is the first-fruit of faith.
Within the city, Paul, shamefully treated and imprisoned, preaches to the jailor Christ, as Lord. Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. He speaks to them the word of the Lord. They are all baptized, and there is joy in God.
In these two examples we see what is necessary to constitute a disciple. There must be preaching of the word. Here it was oral discourse. The foundations of the faith are declared by Gods messengers; and received by man. The mouth and heart are won for Christ; and then follows reception of the rite, which proves the mans acceptance of the truth; and shows, in emblem, the believers coming out from the world. We are taught by Romans 10. that there is first, faith in Jesus death and resurrection; and then confession with the mouth, that Jesus is Lord.
Hence come righteousness and peace; the man is justified before God. But no sooner is this attained at
With the cessation of oral teaching comes the word written,
and it is addressed to all the servants of Christ at
After faith is begun, the hope of their calling, is set before them. They know Christ as their righteousness; they are now to regard Him as coming back to earth, to bestow reward on His obedient ones. They are taught concerning the First Resurrection, or the coming forth of Gods approved ones from the tomb to enjoy a thousand years of power, and of joy with Christ. Ought not the Christ to suffer, and to enter into His glory?
They are then instructed in the course of life well-pleasing to God. They are to be a peculiar people; zealous of good works. They are to await the return of Christ Jesus, in obedience to all His commands. This is the AFTER-KNOWLEDGE OF CHIRIST. And in regard of these further truths, disciples are to be forbearing one toward another; and differences of belief are to be borne with.
If in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule; let us mind the same thing.
Let me add a few confirmatory passages on this great truth concerning knowledge and after-knowledge.
The Jews knowledge of Moses was shown, first in the two tables of stone outside the hearts of the covenanters. They carried with them condemnation and death. But Paul bore with him the righteousness of Christ which saves, and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies; while on the receivers of Christ he laid hands, and they received the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Paul knew the Lord Jesus Christ experimentally, [Page 70] and not merely the doctrine contained in His words. He found new difficulty in living on the principle of grace, and not of justice.
And the power of His resurrection.
This refers, I am persuaded, primarily to the Saviours own resurrection. He was to be the first that should arise from among the dead: Acts 26: 23. Thereby He was manifested to be the Son of God by the power (according to the spirit of holiness) [Christs own Spirit] of the resurrection from among the dead: Rom. 1: 4.
The resurrection of the Saviour is that of the Head of the body, the Church.
Then comes the application of His resurrection to individuals, members of His body. The special passage asserting this is found in Ephes. 1: 16-23. Paul, after he heard of the Ephesians faith, and love to all saints, lifted up his prayers on their behalf. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, might give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your heart being enlightened.
1. That ye may know what is the hope of his calling [the first Resurrection, the prize set by God].
2. And what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
3. And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe according to the energy of the might of His strength, which He wrought in the Christ [the Head and body together] when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His right hand in the heavenlies, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and lordship, and every name named, not only in this age but also in the coming one; and put all things under His feet.
And gave Him to be Head over all things to THE CHURCH, which is His Body, the complement of Him that fills all in all.
The next step to faith is our visible acceptance of the truth of Christs death and resurrection, by our being immersed. In it the believer dies, is buried, and rises again with Christ. The history of the great Apostle, Paul is an example of this counsel of God. As soon as his eye-sight is restored to him, though he has neither eaten nor drank anything for three days, he is at once baptized. Ananias, visiting him by Christs command, reminds him of his meeting the Lord Jesus on the road; and tells him of the intention of Christ that he should be His witness to all. At once then comes the exhortation: And now, why tarriest thou? Arise, and be immersed, and bathe away thy sins, having called on the name of the Lord: Acts 22.
It was not fitting that he should be Christs witness, till he had received the visible cleansing of the whole man, appointed to set forth Gods great pardon by faith in Christ. The first thing one whose eyes are spiritually open should do, is Be immersed.
Thereon begins our spiritual education by the Holy Spirit, leading out, from - the pursuit of the worlds prizes, so strenuously sought by most. The Holy Spirit makes use of the doctrine, and of the baptismal rite, to wean us from the earth, and to prepare us for the [blessings from] heaven. If then ye are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set our affections on things, above, not on things on the earth. For ye have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our Life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear together with Him in glory: Col. 3: 1-4.
And the fellowship in His sufferings.
Peace with God means war with the devil as long as he is at liberty. The Saviour conquered Satans temptations in the wilderness. But he was to assail Him again when He is made the sacrifice for sin. That the Christ should suffer, was one of the main testimonies of Moses and the prophets. Our Lord [Page 72] foretold it Himself: Matt. 16: 21; Luke 24: 46; Acts 3: 18.
Paul had already suffered.
He had learned the difference between persecuting, as the man of law;
and the being persecuted by the Seed of
the Serpent, as a man under grace. Specially at
But suffering was not destined for apostles alone.
We must through many
troubles enter into the
And to the men of nature and of law it is a strange portion. Law said, if only obedient, All people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of thee. And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if thou hearken unto the commandments of Jehovah thy God: Deut. 28: 10, 13.
But very differently does Peter speak. If when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called;* because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in His steps: 1 Peter 2: 20, 21.
[* NOTE. At the time this commentary was being prepared for a C.D. and themillennialkingdom.org.uk the website, I had been reading accounts of the sufferings which Christians endured for their faith in Richard Wurmbrands book: Tortured For Christ. and [but] joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him: (Rom. 8: 17b. R.V.) This joint-heirship is conditional; and it depends upon suffering for the truth, which Messiah and His Apostles taught to the redeemed people of God.]
The Saviour spoke this out strongly, when the two apostles desired to have a throne on His right hand, [Page 73] and a throne on His left, in His [millennial] kingdom of glory.* He assured them that they did not know what they were asking for. They did not see, that such a special glory was bound up with special suffering. Are ye able to drink the cup which I am about to drink of, or to be immersed with the immersion that I am being immersed with? Matt. 20.
[* Hab. 2: 14. cf. Rev. 20: 4, R.V.]
Sufferings now with Christ look onward to Christs return, and carry glory with them in the Day of Reward. Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christs sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy: 1 Peter 4: 13, 14; 5: 1-9.
The millennial reward is indeed Gods compensation of comfort to those who suffered loss with Christ. Woe unto you that are rich [disciples], for ye are receiving your cousolation. Woe unto you when all shall speak well of you; for so did their fathers to the false prophets: Luke 6: 24, 26.
[* Keep in mind: There is something far nobler than the right to own, even the right to give up ones right (G. H. Lang). When Christ put the rich young ruler to the test, he failed it miserably! He was not prepared to give up that which he loved, for the inheritance he asked Christ for!]
Being conformed to His death.
The Saviours was not only a sacrificial death, but a martyrs death. And Paul here testifies his desire to be like Christ in this respect also. The Apostle was one of the violent ones, of whom the Saviour spoke, who would break through all obstacles to win the thousand years of glory: Matt. 11: 11, 12.
Observe that the four times him and his of verse ten all refer to Christ. (1) That I may know Him, and the (2) power of His resurrection, and (3) the fellowship of His sufferings, being (4) conformed to His death.
Here then we have two steps or stages of the wonderful and super-excellent knowledge of Christ.
1. The first attests Pauls rejection of his own righteousness to take that of Christ, with the loss of all things in consequence of it: 8, 9. This ensued very soon after his baptism, immediately after which he began his testimony to Christ as the Son of God. He received Christ as his righteousness, and took his stand on grace. He [Page 74] possessed JUSTIFICATION before God.
So far the Philippian saints are carried in Acts 16. They believed in the Lord Jesus, and were immersed into His name. At that point they are parted from the Apostle, who moves onward to Thessalonica.
2. The epistle then now before us takes them up at the point they have reached, to lead them on to the second stage of the knowledge of Christ. It is observable, that the foes of the disciples fix on their baptism. That, at least, was one of the customs, which were not lawful for them to receive, not to observe, being Romans.
The first step or stage is called the Knowledge of Christ. The second is called the After-knowledge of Christ. That is found in the second chapter, in the Saviours humiliation and sufferings which are to have their reward in His Coming Day. The third chapter applies these points through the immediate example of Paul if we seek to have part in the [coming] kingdom and [manifested] glory of Christ for disciples. Baptism, or immersion is the portal, which prepares the way for our entrance into the main building beyond.
Christ, as the new object of experimental knowledge, was welcomed by Paul, though involving both suffering, and perhaps death with Christ. For he had respect to the recompence of reward. He would be, one of the Fellows of Christ: Heb. 1. Here is a mighty advance beyond law. Law set its subjects to work out, by their own obedience, a righteousness in which they might live; though none could attain thereto. Grace bestowed a righteousness on all those that believed on Christ. Then it set before them a new object, a prize proposed to the righteous in Christ, the glory of the First Resurrection; or the millennial kingdom, as the first fruits of eternal life.
First we believe in Christs death for us: Rom. 4: 25; 5: 8; 1 Cor. 15: 3. Then in immersion we die with Him in emblem: Rom. 6: 8; Col. 2: 13; 3: 3, 4.
The reality of this distinction between the First Knowledge and the After-knowledge is proved by the Saviours words at the Great Commission. Go ye, therefore, disciple all the nations, and immerse them, into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Here is the first step then.
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you all the days unto the end of the age: Matt. 28: 19, 26.
To this second step belong sanctification by the Spirit, and the running for the prize of our heavenly calling.
11. If by any means I may arrive [attain, i.e., to gain by effort] at the select resurrection
(that is) from among the dead.
If by any means.
This phrase implies (1) something very desirable, (2) but encompassed with difficulty and danger; so that there would be its loss on the part of any who did not strive to attain it.
Let us look at occasions where this phrase is used.
1. Paul warns his fellow-voyagers of dangers ahead, because the stormy time of the year had arrived, and sailing was dangerous. O men, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives (souls). Nevertheless, he was not believed. The majority, because the haven was not commodious to winter in, advised that they should sail thence, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there winter: Acts 27. All confessed the danger, but hoped for good success with careful seamanship. But they were grievously disappointed; till the severity of the tempest took away even the hope of escape with life.
God sends them a hope through an
angels message to Paul. The tempest
carries them to the north of
2. God is my witness, says Paul, how without ceasing I make mention of you in my prayers, making request, if by any means I might be sped on my journey, by the will of God to come to you. I would not have you ignorant brethren, that often I purposed to come unto you, but was hindered up to the present: Rom. 1.
3. For I speak to you, Gentiles, inasmuch as I am Apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my service, If by any means may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh, and might save some of them: Rom. 11: 13, 14. How difficult a task it was Paul knew, and few were the results to his prayers and efforts.
The expression, then, if by any means supposes (1) something very desirable; but also (2) very difficult, with determination to break through all difficulties to get it.
What is the object desired in this case?
If I might attain [gain by effort] unto the select resurrection* from among the dead.
* Literally the out-resurrection. See the critical editions.
What is meant by this expression?
It is generally believed, that there is but one resurrection, at which both the righteous and the ungodly will together appear, and receive the judgment of Christ at the same time. But Scripture testifies that there are two resurrections, a thousand years apart. The First Resurrection is one of honour and reward the second mainly of judgment and condemnation.
I saw thrones and men sat upon them, and judgment was given to them; and I saw the souls of those beheaded for (1) testimony to Jesus, and to (2) the Word of God; and whoever had not worshipped the Wild Beast [Antichrist] nor his image [his statue], [Page 77] nor had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead came not to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the First Resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath a portion in the First Resurrection; over these the Second Death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of the Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
After the completion of these thousand years of blessing the rest of the dead are assembled before the [a great white] throne of judgment. And then, after the books containing the deeds of the wicked are produced, another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. In it are found the names of [regenerate] believers not judged worthy of the glory of the millennium; but they are saved by grace.
The hour is coming in which all that are in the tombs shall hear His (Christs) voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment: John 5: 29.
This doctrine of two resurrections was new to the Jews.
1. Mark 9: 9, 10. As they came down from the mountain, He (Jesus) charged them that they should relate to none what they had seen; until the Son of man should have risen from among the dead. And they kept the saying among themselves, questioning what is the meaning of the rising from among the dead?
2. At the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus says to Martha, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again at the resurrection in the last day: John 11. She knows but of one resurrection.
The First Resurrection is of necessity a resurrection [out] from among the dead. Those favoured by God arise; but [Page 78] the main body of the dead remain in the tomb, till the day of reward is over. The rest of the dead (beside those who live and reign with Christ) came not to life again, till the thousand years were finished. And this rest of the dead consists of two portions: (1) believers not accounted worthy of the millennial kingdom; and (2) unbelievers, who are condemned after the kingdom.
Hence, when the Great White Throne is set, there are two classes discovered to us; (1), those condemned according to their works, as testified by the open books: ver. 12. (2) But another book is opened, the Book of Life, beside the books of death.
Now while those not written in the Book of Life are cast
into the lake of fire, those enrolled* in that book are able to enter the
* That characteristic word - found - occurs here. And if any was not found written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the lake of fire.
Of the select resurrection from among the dead, Christ is the first example: Acts 26: 23. He has won this place by His perfect righteousness. He is raised two thousand years before His Assembly, the Church. After that time comes another resurrection of honour. And those not accounted worthy of it have to wait [in Hades the place of the dead in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12; 40. cf. 16: 18)] a thousand years; before they enter in the inheritance [promised to Messiah (Psa. 2: 8), and] provided for those who believe and are saved.
This [millennial] glory of the Lord Jesus was presented in a figure, when
And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves, for to-morrow the Lord will do wonders among you: Josh. 3: 3-5.
The about 2000 cubits by measure refer to the about 2,000 years since the Saviours resurrection, and ascent to His Father. And till we cross into the land, God calls on us to look to our sanctification.
We see then, that the Select, or First Resurrection, is the desirable object to be sought. The entry on this demands first - Faith. But faith alone, without answering works, is not enough. Those who enter the kingdom of millennial glory enter as the righteous, not as [regenerate] believers only. (1) Those Christians who make feasts after the new (or Gospel) pattern, says the Saviour, shall be blessed; for the guests in them cannot not recompense their hosts; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the righteous: Luke 14: 14. (2) Then shall the righteous shine out as the sun in the kingdom of their Father: Matt. 13: 43. (3) And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life everlasting: Matt. 25.
12. Not that I have already received, or am already perfected; but I am pursuing, if that I may also lay hold on that, with a view to which I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Paul a man of strong faith, of great
losses for Christ, and heartily at work for Him, had not yet obtained What?
It cannot be spoken of the First Resurrection as a
fact already fulfilled. None could imagine that he
had. But he had not attained yet the title thereto before God. That is morally equivalent to obtaining the prize.
And of this other passages speak.
In the Epistle to the Hebrews he blames the main body of the saints; and
urges them to put forth the same diligence and steadiness of pursuit manifested
by some; for so would they attain the full assurance of hope. That ye become not slothful, but imitators of those who through [Page 80] faith, and patience [perseverance] are
inheriting the promises. And then he sets before us the history
of Abraham; who, after patient endurance obtained the
oath of God over Isaac offered up:
While in the Philippians the Apostle confesses he was not sure of the prize, yet, in his last letter, he testifies his assurance of it. I have fought the good fight; I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: 2 Tim. 4: 7, 8.
Or am already perfected.
I understand this to assert, that his internal sanctification was not complete. His education for glory, by the changes wrought within him by the Holy Ghost, and without by the trials of the way, was not finished. The change from Adam and Moses to Christ is not effected fully in a moment. The Saviour, in more than one place, speaks of His own perfecting. The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto Him, Get Thee out, and depart hence; for Herod is wishing to slay Thee! And He said to them: Go, and tell that fox, Behold, I am casting out demons, and effecting cures to-day, and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected: Luke 13.
So in the word addressed to disciples the Saviour says: Become ye therefore perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.
But I am pursuing, with a view of laying hold on that.
The Apostle was not seeking to attain eternal life. That was his already by the gift of God. Redemption belongs to faith. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life: John 3: 14-16. He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life: ver. 36.
Salvation belongs at once to the believer. Through [Page 81] this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. And in Him all that believe are justified: Acts 13.
IF that I may apprehend that.
Here is doubt expressed; and effort to attain certainty of reward in the way of obedience and diligence.
To get a place in the First Resurrection is more difficult than Christians think. It is also more valuable. Both of these things call for sustained pursuit.
For which I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
The time supposed is that of the Apostles arrest by Christ on
his way to
Here then we learn, that the ambition to attain the prize was no vain fancy of his own mind; but a part of Christs design of good for him. To have a part in the First Resurrection is desired by Christ, for those regenerate by the Holy Spirit. And so we find in the parable of the Talents - that the Saviour says of the two approved servants - Well done, good and faithful servant, Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord, that is, partake of His millennial reward.
This context shows that the Apostle has specially in view his arrest by Christ when on his mad career of persecution. (1) Then was he stopped, cast to earth, and blinded. (2) Then it was, that a view of the Saviour and His disciples of this dispensation united in glory, as One Body, - the Christ - was presented to his mind. Then too was shown the reality of Christs resurrection to one who blasphemed.
Here is one aspect of the prize, for Christ was now seen to
shine in heaven in the glory of God. It
was then that the Saviour taught him, through the ministry of Ananias, the
suffering on which he was about to enter.
On that occasion he learned the difference between the earthly calling
of law, and the heavenly calling of grace.
It was Christ in heaven speaking to Saul on earth, and telling him of
the forgiveness of sins, and of eternal inheritance, by faith in Himself, the [Page 82] Risen. Moses, as the man of law, was called on earth
by a voice out of the bush on fire in the desert. He was to lead
13, 14. Brethren, I count not myself to have laid hold (on the prize). But one thing (I do), forgetting the things behind, but reaching forward to those in front, I press forward
to the goal, for the prize of Gods calling on high in Christ Jesus.
The Apostle here sets all believers on the same footing as himself, though he was an apostle.
The call was directed to them, as well as to himself.
I count not myself to have laid hold (on the prize). The stress lies on count not myself. Thereby he introduces us to the thoughts of his
fellow-believers concerning himself.
They felt sure, that a man who had made such
sacrifices, had endured such sufferings, and wrought so unflinchingly, and
steadily for Christ, would certainly receive the [millennial]
But he was not so flattered by their thoughts of his merits, as to slacken his efforts; as if they were no longer necessary. He knew more of the value of the prize than they did. He was aware that the standard of Gods requirements was higher than theirs. The goal was not yet reached; and till that was won, he wisely refused to relax.
He was an enthusiastic racer; and while his friends bade him look back on the past, and on what he had done, had lost, and had suffered for Christ, he kept his eyes fixed on the space before him, esteeming nothing done, till all was accomplished. The course and the goal had been fixed by God. Now is the time of activity; in the Day of Christ comes the rest of God, when the [Page 83] winner shall cease from his present labours, as God did on the first Sabbath after His work was complete.
Verse 13 gives us the Apostles care and exertion to win for himself the prize. But the call to seek first the kingdom was not given to himself alone; but was open to other saints. Hence in this verse he sets before us the hope of Gods presenting, as open to them.
Twice he names his pursuit; but he regards it from different points of view. (1) I pursue, if that I may lay hold: ver. 12. (2) I pursue to the goal for the prize: ver. 14.
Paul was not like the fleshly Christians of Corinth (third chapter), where envy, strife, and parties ruled; and where false doctrine seems to have been taught. These, in the day of the future testing by Christ, would have to escape as out of a house on fire.
were called for, as well as the abstinence from evil ones:
Christ will judge each of His people according to their works: Rev. 2: 23; 22: 12: And the workers of iniquity will be shut out: Matt. 7: 23.
How oft is the word, He shall not enter the kingdom addressed to the [regenerate] believer!
1. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father in heaven: Matt. 7: 21.
2. Except your righteousness shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees ye [disciples] shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven: Matt. 5: 20.
3. Verily I say unto you (a word to apostles), Except ye repent and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven: Matt. 18: 3 (Greek).
4. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich (man) to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
5. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of heaven as a little child, he shall [Page 84] not enter lherein: Mark 10: 15; Luke 18: 17. And how many [genuine] Christians deny the millennial glory!
6. After a long list of works of the
flesh, Paul adds, Of the which I tell you before,
as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit (have part in) the
7. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any part in the kingdom of the Christ and God: Eph. 5: 5:
Then you teach a maimed Bride!
By no means! That is an objection, of force only to those who hold, that the millennium, is the time when the whole Church, (or the saved of this dispensation) will reign with Christ. Please to prove it! Till then this objection has no force. It is only an opinion: which is set aside by denial. The millennium is not the Day of Grace, but of reward to the obedient, and to sufferers for Christ: Rev. 11: 14-18; 2: 22-28; 22: 12.
The gift to faith is eternal life; not part in the reign of the Thousand Years: Rom. 6: 23.
It is only after the millennium, when the Book of Life is opened before the throne (Rev. 20: 12), that those not accounted worthy to partake of millennial reward will enter on their eternal heritage of grace; and [after]* the Bride is complete.
[* NOTE. Not all of the redeemed are to be the Bride of Christ! The Bride will be taken out of the Body: that is, out from amongst Gods redeemed family members, Gen. 2: 22; 24: 4. cf. Rev. 19: 7, 8. The man and the woman were to rule together (Gen. 1: 26) the man as king, and the woman as consort queen. This forms an unchangeable principle which God established at this time. The man could not rule alone. Rather, he must rule as a complete being. Christ, the Second Man, the Last Adam, will one day take the sceptre [from Satan] and rule the earth. (A. L. Chitwood.) Ask of me, and I will give thee [Messiah] the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession: (Psa. 2: 8.). cf. Rev. 3: 21; 11: 15; 20: 2-4. R.V.]
For the prize.
Is a PRIZE the same thing as a GIFT? Many shut their eyes to a truth, which is understood by boys and girls of a the Sunday School. To obtain a gift it is only necessary to accept what is offered.
But a prize demands care and exertion. It may
be lost by simple neglect; much more by offences against the rules. All turns on the decision of the Righteous
Judge, who will
weigh the work of each. And thrice the conduct of
Through unbelief and disobedience [the accountable generation of]
The prize of Gods calling on high in Christ Jesus.
This is not the only place in which the Prize is spoken of. (1) Know ye not that they which run in a race, run all, but (only) one receiveth the prize: 1 Cor. 9: 24.
(2) Let no one defraud
you of the prize in an
affected humility and worshipping of angels (Greek): Col. 2: 18.
And none will obtain the prize, who do not believe there is such a thing. Not all
will be accounted
worthy. While Abraham will enter in,
So here the First Resurrection is a third time presented to us from another point of view.
1. It was first shown us, as a something arising out of the knowledge of Christ, at once closed with by Paul, from a sense of its surpassing value: ver. 10, 11.
2. Then, as the design of Christ, toward any whom He turns away from the paths of death: ver. 12.
3. And now, as the crown of the heavenly calling forming part of the counsels of God: ver. 14.
Not only did Christ call to Paul from
on high, but, He is calling us out of earth up to Himself, and to the heritage
of heaven. We are to be waiting for the
shout, voice, and trump of God; on the sounding of which those ready will be caught
up to the Lords Presence on high. The
heavenly calling is more difficult and trying than the calling of Moses and
Much was made of
It is the calling on high in Christ Jesus.
It is something open to believers in Christ only, and so only available in this dispensation. In the next, Christ awards the prizes, and His fellows accounted worthy, reign with Him. Suffering for the truth will be over; faith swallowed up in sight.
The striving in the games of
15. Let then as many as are perfect be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even that unto you.
But had not Paul said, that he was not perfect?
He had said that he was not already perfected. But here he is speaking of a previous perfection at starting, enabling him to run the race.
The seeker of the prize must have given up his own righteousness, and have faith in the millennial day. He must have been immersed as a man of faith, taking his standing outside Adam and Moses.
verily, I say unto thee,
Except a man be born out of water and Spirit, he cannot enter into
Know ye not, that so many of us as were immersed into Jesus Christ were immersed into His death? We were buried with Him, therefore, by means of the immersion, into death; in order that, as Christ was raised from among the dead by the glory of the Father, so also we should walk in newness of life. For IF We became fellow plants in the likeness of His death, why we shall be also of the resurrection: Rom. 6: 3-5 (Greek).
How few [regenerate believers] obey this command! and how many tell us tis not necessary, tis unimportant.
But the Holy Spirit says: But even if any wrestle, he is not crowned, except he wrestle according to the laws (of the games): 2 Tim. 2: 5. And accordingly Paul, who is our pattern herein, was immersed three days after his conversion, though he had neither eaten nor drank since his being struck blind.
Before that any seek the prize, they must give up modes of life inconsistent with their profession. Moses allowed the taking of oaths, and the being a man of war. Christ forbids these things: Matt. 5: 38-48. There is to be no pursuit of the prizes of earth, if we seek that of the heaven: Luke 6: 20-26.
The rich young man asked our Lord if there were any higher standard than that of the law? And the Saviour replies: If thou wishest to be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor; and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me: Matt. 19. The young man declines. Peter and some other of the apostles had performed that to which Jesus called the young man; what then should they have? A throne in the coming day of the [messianic] kingdom! And whosoever should give up anything for Christs sake, and the kingdoms, should receive [Page 88] a hundredfold now, and in the coming millennial age, eternal life should begin [in a much greater sense of satisfaction and enjoyment]* for him.
[* See Luke 22: 28-30. cf. Isa. 61: 8, 11, R.V.]
This exhortation is one of the main points of the epistle. Paul knew, that multitudes of converted men would not believe in, or seek for the prize. He knew that some who would believe in the millennium, would suppose that it would come to them, like eternal life, as a gift. And that many would refuse to take the steps, and make the surrenders required for seeking the prize. What are they?
1. Determined seeking of the worlds prizes.
2. Refusal of the immersion of the believer: Luke 7: 28-30.
3. Refusal of the new system of the Sermon on the Mount,
and a cleaving to the old basis of the law of Moses.
4. Refusal of the imputed righteousness of Christ.
5. Refusal of the cross of the Christ,
in the many ways it attacks one bent on obtaining the [coming messianic] kingdom.
A name in the Book of Life carries with it glory eternal in the new heavens and earth. But Peter, after the Lord Jesus had declared him Blessed, as enlightened by the Father concerning Christ as Son of God, was declared immediately after to be Satan; because he resisted with all his might this new truth, the further counsel of God on the appearing of Jesus.
And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, even that shall God reveal to you.
The Apostle knew full well, how many at this point would break away from him. I dont agree with you, Paul; you have exceeded your instructions. At this time, too, how many turn a deaf ear to this doctrine!
The first time the Saviour announced this truth, He met the most stout resistance from Peter.
What is to be done in such a refusal of this truth? Was the inspired Apostle to excommunicate him? By no means. The opponent was to make his appeal to God, to show him who was right!
Thus after the Saviours rebuke of Peter, God the Father, on the Mount of Transfiguration revealed His mind on the subject. Moses and Elijah are set aside. This is My Beloved Son; hear Him.
Of course, in this appeal to God, a true heart ready to yield to Gods testimony, is supposed. Do we not remember the rebuke administered through Ezekiel? Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling-block of their iniquity before their face; should I be enquired of at all by them?
If the millennial glory belongs to each disciple already, how does the Apostle make all this stir about it? How could he say, that after his faith, his zeal, his losses, his persecution endured for Christs sake, he was not sure of the prize?
16. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule.
The words - let us mind the same thing - are probably not genuine.
It might be said to the Apostle, If you
introduce these two stages of faith and practice, you will split up the
As far as we see our way traced in Scripture, let the men of the Prize walk with the men of the Gift, both in doctrine and practice. Keep unity in fundamentals, and move onward in increase of knowledge. Both parties are cared for together by the Apostle in one epistle; both are in Christ, members of His body. The rule of walk is the same for both.
17. Become ye together imitators of me, brethren; and observe those who are walking so as ye have us for an example.
Become ye. Men by nature know not of this counsel of God. It is a new position to be taken by those converted. Great was the difference of Pauls principles and practice under the Gospel, as compared with those of law. Christians were to follow him both in doctrine and practice; they were not to regard Pauls example alone. Timothy and Epaphroditus are both set forth to guide us. Timothy was great in his likeness to Pauls conduct. He was one of a pastors spirit; zealously caring for the things of Christ in their bearing upon the spiritual welfare of those in Christ.
Epaphroditus is set before us in his great relations first with Paul, and then with Philippian believers.
1. He was Pauls brother in faith; believing and observing the truths of the Gospel, and their visible results in practice.
2. He was a companion in labour for the good of the converts.
3. He was also fellow-soldier, bearing with patience and grace the troubles falling on all those that work for Christ.
He was also apostle of the Philippians; perhaps he was set up by Paul, when he took his leave, to look after their spiritual interests. I do not admit the meaning that the Philippians constituted him their apostle, because of his bearing their gift to Paul. I suppose the title here and in 2 Cor. 8: 20, to be nearly equivalent to our Lords word angel in the Apocalypse a stationary apostle, presiding over a church.
Neither of these holy men was following his own worldly interests, but those of Christ and His people. So attached was Epaphroditus to Paul, as to have brought on himself a severe attack of illness through overwork. This was to be regarded by them, not as fool-hardiness, but with honour. For this mortal life is not the chief point to be consulted.
18. For many are walking, of whom I often spoke to you, but now speak, even weeping, as the enemies of the cross of the Christ.
The prize depends upon THE WALK after conversion, or SANCTIFICATION; just as justification depends on faith.
Paul was of Christs spirit, and wept over the lost, as Jesus
They were the enemies of the cross of the Christ.
An article precedes both the cross and the Christ. By the Christ is meant as before, the Mystic Christ, consisting of the Head and the
Members. It is confirmed by Galatians 6: 12, where we read: As many as
wish to make a fair show in the flesh, these
compel you to be circumcised, only lest they
should be persecuted for the cross of the Christ. The cross of the Christ - is that which
by God was attached to the Seed of the Woman, in
Peter showed himself of this unbelieving disposition at first.
Be it far front Thee, Lord; this shall not be unto Thee. Like minded was Judas; but he did not speak out like Peter. And Peter submits to the Saviours rebuke; while Judas holds fast his unbelief.
The cross of the Christ was peculiarly obnoxious to both Jew and Gentile. To the Roman, it was the lowest depth of degradation; to Jews a stumbling-block, and to Greeks foolishness. But unto the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. To the Jews the cross is the curse of God under law. Jews would welcome Messiah the King. But a crucified Messiah was their abhorrence. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us, the saved, it is the power of God.
The parties here spoken of are, I doubt not, [Page 92] the unregenerate; as the next verse shows; but many of the regenerate answer closely to features of the picture.
19. Whose end is destruction; whose God is their belly; whose glory is in their shame;
who mind earthly things.
Destruction is a word characteristic of the lost. It is the opposite of life. Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth unto destruction, and many there be that go in thereat: Because strait (narrow) is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life; and FEW there be that find it: Matt. 7. In nothing terrified by your adversaries; which is to them an evident token of perdition; but to you of salvation. But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition [destruction]*; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul: Heb. 10: 39.
[* NOTE. The saving of the soul is shown in 1 Peter 1: 8, 9 to be future salvation: at the revelation of Jesus Christ.]
Whose God is their belly.
A like sentiment, yet with difference, is spoken of those Christians who were walking so badly as to draw forth the Apostles rebuke. Mark them which cause the divisions, and the offences contrary to the doctrine ye have learned, and avoid them. For they are such as serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly: Rom. 16.
Whose glory is in their shame.
I understand this to refer to their boasting in the goodliness and power of their bodies, and their subserviency to natural desires. Our bodies in this life lie under sin and death, about to turn to corruption; according to the sentence of the Judge on Adam, our father. They boast in the body of our humiliation, the signal of the Fall, to be removed by Christ. It is only fit for the seventy or eighty years of this shadowy life.
Who mind earthly things.
If the hopes which Christ has brought, the glories of heaven in resurrection be refused, what remains, but the things of earth and death? Many of the saved [Page 93] come near to this description. We doubt. Are they Christs or of the world?
20, 21. For our city is in the heavens; out of which also we are expecting as Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall transfigure the body of our humiliation to become like
to the body of His glory, according to the energy of His ability
to subdue even all things unto Himself.
The word rendered city in this verse is taken by some to signify (1) commonwealth, civil constitution; by others, (2) citizenship, - and here I take it as (3) city.
I know but of one passage where it
clearly means city. It is found in 2 Maccabees xii. 6 :
And when the town was shut up, he went backward, as
if he would return to root out all them of the city of
The differences of rendering do not greatly alter the sense,
but the translation city seems to me the most
appropriate. The refusers of Christ here
spoken of, if they were Philippians, looked to
Out of which.
Does it mean (1) Out of this city? It would naturally and grammatically mean so;
but this city of the heaven does not yet seem to be inhabited, either by our
Lord or by any one of its citizens: Gal. 4. But
It is generally supposed to refer to the heaven, out of which. But the Greek has the heavens; and out of which is in the singular.
Out of the heaven then, or of the city, - I do not feel sure which, but
prefer the heaven. Christ will descend: Heb. 9:
28. His people are
expecting Him thence. Out of
In the great and terrible day of the Lord a king of Rome is coming up out of the Bottomless Pit, and his name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon (Destroyer), but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon (the same): Rev. 9. When he comes, he compels all to mark their bodies as devoted to his service, and really to the wrath of God, and of His Christ. If any worship the Wild Beast and his image (the opposite to Christ, the Lamb of God), and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God: Rev. 14: 11.
We are expecting (but it is very far from being now true of all believers) the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the full title of His Majesty, who descends as King of kings, and Lord of lords in the glory of His Father and of the holy angels.
Who is your Lord? was the
critical question between the Roman and the Christian. The Romans Lord was the emperor, the
object of obedience, both civil and religious.
This comes out very pointedly in the martyrdom of Polycarp. Those who seized him conducted [him] to the city of
Who shall transfigure the body of our humiliation.
The souls of the
Lords people are redeemed, and sanctification is going on in them. Their bodies lie still
under the sentence of
He who bore suffering unto death is no more to suffer, but to subdue by power all things. This present body is the body of our humiliation, because of sin. Of this body unbelievers boasted. But what of its aches and pains during life? what of its turning to dust in the tomb? Who should give it the resurrection provided for those put to sleep by Christ? Our Lord! He shall change the body of dishonour to become like His own body, radiant as the sun.
Jesus, then, was no phantom, as the Doceetists taught. He has a body on high a body never to grow old, [Page 96] or decay. And we are to be like Him in body, no less than in soul.
False systems, such as Swedenborgs, teach, that at death the soul comes forth from the corpse; and the body is never to be used again. So it was not with Christ. He left no portion of Himself behind in the tomb of the rock. Of His peoples appearing before Him we read: I pray God your whole spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless so as to be in the Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it: 1 Thess. 5. And in His Presence the deeds done by means of the body will be accounted for: 2 Cor. 5: 10. The fellows of Christ, now like Him in spirit, will then be like Him in body also.
This great work is consigned to the power of Him who is Almighty. Afterward cometh the end, when He (Christ) shall deliver up the kingdom to God,* even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For He must reign [upon and over this earth for a thousand years (Luke 22: 28-30; Rev. 3: 21; 20: 4)], till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be struck powerless is death: 1 Cor. 15.
[*The radical error in the matter has been to confound terms that differ. By both schools inheriting the kingdom has been wrongly taken to mean simply saved from hell; and so not inheriting has been wrongly deemed synonymous with everlasting perdition. But once it is seen that receiving [eternal] salvation from wrath is one thing, and that rising [out from the dead (Phil. 3: 11b)] to the glory of rule in the [millennial] kingdom [of Messiah] is another thing, and IS AN ATTAINMENT that follows, then the Gordian knot is united; for it at once becomes a possibility [for a disobedient, carnal and regenerate believer] to forfeit the [millennial] kingdom by personal misconduct, (and to incur in addition abundantly severe chastisement - [from a loving Father toward His disobedient and redeemed children] - proportionate to the offences, and sufficient, if apprehended, to deter from carnality,) whilst yet retaining eternal life by the pure grace of God, exercised on the ground of the merit of Christ alone. - (G. H. LANG, (edited.)]
* * *
1-3. So then, my brethren beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, thus stand fast in
the Lord, beloved. I beseech Euodias, and I beseech Syntychee, that they be of one
mind in the Lord. And I ask thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women that
laboured with me in the Gospel; with Clement also and my other
fellow-labourers whose names are in the book of life.
Paul has, in the preceding chapters, shown, how the Philippians were to stand fast in the Lord.
It would seem that the two named in the second verse had fallen out in the service of the Lord. It was the result of the high-mindedness which was natural to the Roman, and against this spirit Paul all along is striving.
The service of women who labour in the Gospel is very valuable - provided only they keep to the path marked out for them. Both men and women are citizens of the New Jerusalem, enrolled in the Lambs Book of life. This one Book [of life] is the contrast to the many books [Rev. 20: 12] of mens unpardoned deeds which, brought forth at the Last Judgment, are the ground of their sentence to [the eternal place and state of the lost, after their resurrection, in] the lake of fire.
4-7. Rejoice in the Lord alway: again I say, rejoice! Let your candour be known unto all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious in nothing; but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
If, under the circumstances named, Paul could call upon the Philippian saints to rejoice, all ought to rejoice. Around may be many circumstances of trial but one field is ever open to joy - their place and portion in Christ.
The saints are to be candid; not one-sided; but able to take a fair view of the true state of the question. Seek in nought to be disapproved by Christ, when He shall come to take account of His servants.
While both they and Paul were suffering persecution, they were not to be anxious as to the event. Care, is taken in two different senses. In the sense of diligence in things under your hand, be careful! Be careful to come to me before winter: 2 Tim. 6: 21. Be careful to be found by Him (Christ) in peace: 2 Peter 3: 14.
But the care here forbidden is that, wherein we step [Page 98] beyond our province. A mother is right in using all carefulness to watch over her childs health. But when it falls ill, and she worries herself about what may befall him, she is offending against the word here given. Let her give the medicine - that is within her reach, and her allowed diligence. But when she frets over the possible effects of the medicine, she has travelled beyond her province. The issue of life or of death must ever rest in the hand of God: Matt. 6: 25-34. The Holy Spirits cure for anxiety is, prayer to the Most High, joined with thanks for the precious promises which assure us, that all that befalls us shall tend to our good; and with praise to God for His former answers to our supplications. The Lord promises the cure of anxiety to all who will observe this prescription of the Heavenly Physician. Or, as it is put here, He assures us, that a sentinel shall be set over our house, to keep out the irruption of anxious care. Our hearts and thoughts shall be kept in the peace of God which rises above mans comprehension, both in its source and its effects.
8, 9. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are suitable, whatever
are righteous, whatever are pure, whatever friendly, whatever are of good report,
if there be any virtue, and any praise, take these into account. What ye
have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do:
and the God of peace shall be with you.
This is the second - Finally - and it serves to point out the last division of the epistle. A second time Pauls example is set before them. They were to respect his conduct and objects of pursuit, not only in view of the prize, but in all his other conduct.
There is always an opening to further advance in grace.
The result of obedience herein would be, that the God
of peace should be with them.
Under the Law Jehovah was the God and Lord of hosts; or of armies, and of war. In the day of battle, the priests [Page 99] were to encourage the troops of
Just before the millennial day, and during it, when righteousness
shall be the ruling principle, Jehovah will again take the title of Lord of Hosts; and will act in accordance with
it. Then shall the moon be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the
Lord of Hosts shall reign in
But in this dispensation the Christian is to be a man of peace, like his Father loving enemies, and not slaying them. Hence no Christian can, with Christs leave, be a soldier. Blessed are the peace-makers. Woe then to the war-makers, and those that live by their sword! Luke 6: 20-26; Matt. 26: 52.
Now Jehovah is the God of peace, that brings peace to the unworthy, and guards our heart with the peace of God.
THE PHILIPPIANS GIFT TO PAUL
10-13. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care for me hath thrown
out a new shoot; on which matter you had taken thought, but you had not a good
opportunity of carrying it into effect. Not that I speak in respect of want: for
I have learned in the circumstances in which I am found, to be content.
I know how to be humbled, I know also how to abound: at all times,
and in all circumstances I have been initiated, both to be full, and
to be hungry; both to abound, and to be in straits. I can do
all things through Christ who strengthens me.
We hear but little of the financial report of Pauls mission. He was able to trust the Lord to maintain him in His service. A long season it would appear, [Page 100] had intervened between the two gifts sent him at Thessalonica, and this third one.
He did not wish to treat of it, as it respected the straits in which be had found himself; for he had been taught by Christ, how to conduct himself in the varying events of life; now having abundance and now again in need, even to hunger.
He excuses the Philippians, that they had thought of his necessities, but did not know how to transmit to him the money. That matter was not so easily arranged as in our day.
14-16. Nevertheless, ye did well in contributing to me in my affliction. But do ye also,
O Philippians, know that in the beginning of the Gospel, when I went out from
and receiving, but you alone. For even in Thessalonica
ye sent once and again to my need.
This, Pauls statement, was not to give them the idea that he
was displeased with their contribution.
It was an honourable trait in the history of the Church at
17-20. Not that I am seeking an additional gift; but I seek in addition the fruit that may abound unto your account.
But I have now all things, and abound: I am filled full, having received from Epaphroditus the things from you, a scent of perfume, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
But my God shall fill up all your need, according to His riches in glory, in Christ Jesus.
Now to God and our Father be glory for ever and ever Amen.
Pauls enemies would be ready to say that he spoke so much of his need, because he was angling for a further gift. But it was not so. Far, indeed, from that was he. But he would gladly encourage them to give in the Lords cause; for in the Great Day it would be found a benefit to themselves. Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say [Page 121] unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward: Matt. 10. And on the other hand, Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his own flesh shall out of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit, shall out of the spirit reap life eternal*: Gal. 6.
[* NOTE. The Greek adjective before the word life is aeonian; and, in this context, - a context of works - the clause should therefore be translated: of the spirit he will reap life age-lasting, (Lit. Gk.)]
This gift was one of the fruits of the righteousness of Christ, which God had bestowed on them. It was one of the New Testament sacrifices, which had superseded the gift of bulls and goats to the altar. With it, as taught of Christ, God was well pleased. It was a token of the new nature imparted by the Holy Spirit. It would surely be rewarded by Christ in the Coming Day.
Paul was robbed of his worldly goods, and seldom had money. How then would he have fruit, that might abound to his account in the Great Day!
If I live in the flesh, this is to me fruit of labour... 1: 22. Christ would remember and reward that. The Philippian saints had money; and in bestowing some of it on Paul they would have fruit, which the Saviour would put to their account. Both the poor labourer in the Gospel, and the saint that has well used his money shall be rewarded. God was well pleased with this sacrifice: ver. 18.
21-23. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren with me salute you.
All the saints salute you; but especially those of the house of Caesar.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
God had His elect saints, even in the idolatrous and most profligate house of the emperor Nero. And they are not ashamed to confess themselves as servants of Christ, and of one body with the despised Christians.
Paul begins his epistle with grace and peace, and ends it with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, so necessary to every believer. In His fulness we stand.
* * *
PHILIPPIANS 3: 9.
(1) The righteous by faith (2) shall live.
Thus should be translated a leading passage, which might be called Pauls banner.
The exact words occur three times in Pauls epistles, and once virtually in Phil. 3: 9.
Our translators render the words in their three occurrences, - The just shall live by faith.
But the order of the Greek both in Habakkuk and in Pauls citation, is different. It is THE RIGHTEOUS BY FAITH SHALL LIVE.
Nor is the difference unimportant. Luther, Calvin and our translators understood
the words to refer to the believers present life before God. DAubigne gives us an example in the life of Luther which
attests this. Luther was at
One day, amongst others, wishing to gain an indulgence which the Pope had
promised to every one who on his knees should climb up what is called Pilates Stair, the Saxon monk was humbly crawling up the steps,
which, he was told, had been miraculously transported to
Now that faith is the sustaining principle of spiritual life, is a great truth; but not the one here designed, as appears by the order of the prophets words, and by Pauls use of them.
Let us look then at the three occurrences of them.
I. The first occurrence of them is in Rom. 1: 16-18.
16. For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of the Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every believer.
17. For the righteousness of God by faith is in it revealed unto faith; as it is written, The righteous by faith shall live.
18. For the wrath of God from heaven is revealed on all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
The text in question is divided into two parts.
(1) The righteous by faith (2) shall live.
That the righteous is a better rendering than the just, will, I suppose, at once approve itself. It is thus brought into close conjunction with the occurrences of righteousness so frequent in this epistle. The employment of another word interrupts the flow of the argument to the mind of an English reader.
1. The 16th verse contains a statement of the two parts of the text. (1) The Gospel, to every believer, (2) is the power of God to save.
2. The 17th verse shows us that jewel of the Gospel on which depends salvation. It is the righteousness of God provided by the Most High in the work of Christ, for those who were unrighteous and condemned.
3. The 18th verse sets before us the necessity of righteousness, if we would not lie under the wrath of God lying upon ungodliness toward Himself, and unrighteousness to our fellow-men, for ever. As (1) the righteous by faith (2) shall live, so (1) the unrighteous by his own works (2) shall be lost in the Second Death. Thus the three verses together are an establishment of the two parts of the text of the prophet.
We are not righteous by our own works before God, as the law insisted, He, that doeth them shall live in them. But (1) he, that is righteous by faith in the work of Christ, (2) shall live. And the life promised relates to the eternal life, belonging to an eternal righteousness. For My salvation shall be for ever, and My righteousness shall not be abolished: Isa. 51: 6. [Page 104] My righteousness shall be for ever; and My salvation from generation to generation: verse 8. (1) The good news of the Gospel relates to a righteousness wrought by Christ, and (2) carrying with it life eternal. Thus the two parts of the prophets text are proved. (1) THE RIGHTEOUS BY FAITH (2) SHALL LIVE; and that for ever. And that is the salvation brought by faith. Grace reigns through righteousness, unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Put together the two statements in Rom. 1: 16-18, and we have:
16, 17. The (1) Gospel bringing righteousness (2) to every believer, is (3) salvation. (1) The righteous (2) by faith (3) shall live.
Here then shall live means salvation, or eternal life.
This citation from Habakkuk is the key to the whole epistle. The Apostle shows, that righteousness to the sinner cannot come through law and works; but through faith in the righteousness of the Second Adam, Christ. Then the shall live is further expounded for us, as relating also to the millennial life of a thousand years, a matter of reward to the obedient. For if ye live after the flesh, ye are about to die; but if ye through the Spirit mortify the works of the body, ye shall live: 8: 13. Here are a life and a death suspended on our conduct after faith. The context tells of the time, when the glory shall be revealed unto the sons of God; and when creation, which has suffered through Adams fall, shall be delivered. That as sin hath reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Here is eternal salvation, the fruit of [impeccable and] eternal righteousness.
II. The second occurrence is in Galatians 3: 11.
The Christian is justified, not by works of law, but by the hearing of belief, even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him unto righteousness. So [Page 105] then they who believe as Abraham did, are his sons.
The nations, and not
We are justified then by faith. Immersed into Christ, we have put off Adam and Moses, and put on Christ; and become in Him one person, possessed of one righteousness before God.
Walk not after the way of the flesh; otherwise you shall not
enter the millennial
[* Another good example, of where this same Greek word aionian should be translated age-lasting instead of eternal or everlasting, is found in Heb. 5: 9: he (Christ) became to to all those obeying him a cause of salvation age-lasting, 10 having been declared by the God a high-priest according to the order of Melchizedek: (Lit Greek.) Here is reference made of a future salvation for those: guarded through faith, for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (or season): (1 Peter 1: 5, (Lit. Greek.)]
III. The third occurrence of this weighty sentence is found in Hebrews 10: 38. We cannot go through the whole epistle; but begin the consideration of it with chap. 10.