Chapter 28: A Child to a Father

Philippians 2:22‑24  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
“But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.”
“But the proof of him (Timothy) ye-know, that as child to (a) father, he-has-slaved with me for the glad-tidings. This-one, therefore, on-the-one hand, I-am-hoping to-send immediately, as-soonas I-may-see the-(things) relating-to me. On-the other-hand, I am persuaded in (the) Lord, that I also myself shall-come speedily.”
While meditating on the Scripture now before us I had a letter from a brother dearly beloved, telling how his son, an only and beloved son, still quite young, had preached the gospel with his father in the open air. As I read of the joy this had been to the father’s heart, and his gratitude to God for such a privilege, I better understood the words: “As a child to a father, he has slaved with me for the gospel.” And perhaps only one who has experienced this joy can fully enter into the Apostle’s thoughts in this verse.
In the first sentence quoted, the construction of the Greek sentence is broken; and some think the Apostle meant to say, when he began this sentence: “that, as a child serves a father, so he served me in the gospel.” But after the first two or three words, he felt this was placing Timothy in an inferior position, and “with that beautiful courtesy which is characteristic of him,” he avoids this, “and inserts ‘with’ before `me,’ breaking the construction, but with admirable effect.” (Vaughan).
You may remember the Epistle began: “Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:11Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: (Philippians 1:1)). The word generally translated “serve” in the first paragraph of verse 22 is the verb, “to slave,” formed from the noun “slave” found in the first verse of our Epistle. For this reason we have translated it: “he has slaved with me for the gospel.” At the beginning of the Epistle, Paul and Timothy are presented to us as fellow-slaves of the same Master: so it would not do to suggest that Timothy “slaved for Paul.” (And yet let us ever remember that Gal. 5:1313For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13) says: “By love slave for one another.”) But in our portion, Paul adds the little word “with” before “me,” so again he makes Timothy his fellow-slave. Paul was no hireling, nor was Timothy: they both were slaves. Neither one was his own, for each had been bought with a price: and they delighted to confess that they belonged absolutely and altogether to the Lord that bought them.
I fear, my beloved Brethren and Sisters, that there are few of us today who have entered into what this means. Can you, dear Reader, honestly, and truly, before God, say: “I am a slave of Christ Jesus”? HIS, and HIS alone, to go where HE sends, wherever that may be: HIS, and HIS alone, to do what HE wants, however menial and humiliating that may be? I venture to suggest that the laborers in the vast harvest fields would not be so pitifully few, were there more servants of the Lord today who not only understood, but acted in obedience to the truth that we are “slaves of Christ Jesus”; and who were willing to “slave for the gospel.” These solemn truths we have been meditating upon in Philippians should be enough to arouse us from the self-complacency and self-satisfaction that seems to have settled down on so many of us.
The Philippian saints had known Timothy of old, and they knew there was no self-complacency or self-satisfaction with him: they knew the proof of him, they knew his character: it was not really needful for Paul to speak thus, but he delights to remind them of this one young man, with whom he had no man likemined: one who sought the things of Christ Jesus, in a day when he must say, all seek their own. How different was Timothy— the “slave of Christ Jesus.” Oh, that the Spirit of God might be able to record these four words of you and of me!
Verse 24. “This one,” emphatic— “This one, therefore, on the one hand, I am hoping to send immediately, as soon as I may see the things relating to me.” The emphasis on “This one,” carries with it still further praise and commendation of Timothy. I sometimes wonder (with joy) at the way the Spirit of my God so delights to commend the people of God, when He can do so: and I sometimes wonder (with sorrow) at the way we seem so ready to see the faults and failings in each other, rather than the good and faithful qualities that their Lord sees: and so we are more ready to blame than praise.
We must notice the difference between the things of Christ Jesus,” (vs. 21), and the “things that relate to me.” (verse 23). “To the true disciple, in his true condition, the things of Christ Jesus are, as such, the supreme interest.” But the things relating to Paul are also of interest to Paul, and to those who loved him: nor do they in any way detract from wholehearted devotedness as to things of Christ Jesus.
So may we learn to view in their proper aspect HIS things, and the things that relate to us.
“On the one hand,” (Acts 21:4040And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying, (Acts 21:40)) Paul hoped to send “this one,”Timothyto be with his dear Philippian brethren, but “on the other hand he is “persuaded in the Lord,” (once again we meet this lovely expression), “that I also myself shall come speedily.” We have no record as to whether this “persuasion” was fulfilled or not: it is one of those things the Lord has seen fit to leave untold: but it will not be long now till we meet these dear saints above: and if it is seemly and right, answers, will be given to many of these questions that are hidden from us now.
I have no one like-minded who wilt care with genuine feeling how ye get on. For all seek their own things, not the things of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:20-2120For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. 21For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. (Philippians 2:20‑21) (J.N.D.)