Readings on Philippians 1 and 2

Philippians 1‑2  •  31 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Chapter 1
IN this assembly all the saints at Philippi are addressed, with the bishops and deacons; these, we have seen, are not even alluded to in Corinthians, where the God of order was correcting the disorders which abounded. The gifted persons were powerless to correct it, possessing their -gifts apart from communion with the divine Giver. Still it was God's assembly at Corinth,, and the saints, simply as such, are in view. All were in the house of God-the " sanctified in Christ Jesus " alone, members of His body. Of such exclusively is composed the assembly which Christ builds (Matt. 16), for the assembly is-looked at in more than one aspect in Scripture.
" With all that call on the name of our Lord. Jesus Christ in every place " includes the hole-professing church. As we have seen, all was disorder at Corinth, and there was none to help.. -Bishops are not mentioned, and the gifted persons out of communion with the mind of God. The-result was that they-the saints-became more immediately the object of the care of God Him- self. The assembly was God's assembly, they -were God's building, God's husbandry; and Paul, as one of God's workmen, His messenger to them.
If overseers or deacons had failed or were absent, could God become the servant of His own ordinances? And the apostle, not searching out iniquities, but earnestly desiring to recognize any good thing amongst them, tells them that he thanks God always for the grace of God given to them in Christ, in that they had been enriched in Him in all word of doctrine and in all knowledge.
But how cold, and unlike the opening of the address to the Philippians! The uniting power of a common interest in the work, and of joint participation in the sufferings and conflicts of the gospel, which, in a beautiful way, he speaks of as a person, was wanting at Corinth. It was a poor substitute for what he found at Philippi, to talk of gifts and gifted men. The gifts were still there; but the connection between the streams and the fountain hardly manifest.
But to proceed with our chapter. " I thank -my God for my whole remembrance of you." Not a break nor a gap from the beginning to the present hour, not a supplication to God in which their names were omitted, and this with accompanying joy. The ground of it, their fellowship, not here with Paul, but with the gospel itself, suffering evil with it, according to the power of God, not ashamed of the testimony of their Lord.
But his joy in those saints was not limited to the-remembrance of their ways from the first day: his thoughts about them ran on into the future, even unto the day of Jesus Christ-the day of glory, with boundless confidence in Him who had begun the good work in them, that He would complete it unto that day. But this confidence in God respecting them was united in Paul with a conviction as to their spiritual condition founded upon their attitude both towards the gospel and towards himself, so that it was only a right thing-in him to feel this. With what delicacy and grace, both of the Spirit surely, he tells them of his feelings towards them. They had Paul in their hearts, and in his bonds and the defense of the gospel shared the grace given to him.
What uniting bonds were these! He loved them with the affections of Jesus Christ Himself.. "Ye have me in your heart;" they were linked up with him in the maintenance of the truth, the object one, the conflict one. If a man is feeding on the bread of the mighty, he becomes single-minded and single-hearted, and deeply happy. Paul was the channel through which God was feeding them with this bread. " That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again." There was the true bread of the mighty! It was in Christ these blessed affections were realized.
Surely these few verses unfold a scene of remarkable moral beauty, the " bond of perfectness " binding together in blessed affections (the bowels of Jesus Christ, as he calls it) the apostle Wand the beloved Philippians.
But this longing after them in the bowels of -Jesus Christ tells itself out in more than words. He prays that the love already in them may abound yet more and more; no measure here, for it was really divine love, though he calls it theirs -" the love of God shed abroad in the heart," but with special characteristics, full knowledge and all intelligence. What a glorious thought! love forever growing, both in itself and in full knowledge and intelligence. Whence such thoughts as these? Ah! we need not say whence, but how? Jesus Himself was filling his heart, and coming out through this channel to theirs. And Paul was thinking of Him in this passage, not as at the right hand, but as in His own day; the day of glory and of power come; and of the Philippians being pure and without offense for that day. Compare 1 Thess. 3:12,1312And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:12‑13),
In order to the confirming your hearts unblamable in holiness.. at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints."
Paul has evidently left the old things behind'; the subject here is toil and suffering, laboring amongst and against adversaries, and suffering for and with Christ in view of the day of manifested glory. A great part of our deplorable weakness flows from this, that what that day of glory means for Him and for us, is practically lost for the hearts and minds of so many of His people. He comes with all His saints into the scene of His glory and theirs: the creature is expecting the revelation of the sons of God, when He is revealed they are revealed with Him. It is in view of this glorious day that the saints suffer for and with Christ in spirit: these sufferings and glories cannot be separated " If we suffer we shall reign " (not live).
In none of these passages have we the standing of believers in Christ, no sitting in heavenly places, but the responsibility of pilgrims in the wilderness, in view of salvation through and out of it at the end.
In another aspect, in connection with the work finished on the cross, they were already saved. Forgiven, justified, accepted, and united by the Spirit to Christ glorified, they were fit for sharing the portion of the saints in light on taking the first step into the wilderness. But here the apostle is not speaking of what had been done for them, but expressing his confidence that what God had begun in them, " He would complete -unto the day of Jesus Christ."
Now look at the character in which his heart contemplated them as fit for Jesus Christ's day: love abounding in itself, as also in full knowledge and in all intelligence. Then there was to be spiritual judgment and appreciation of the things that are more excellent, in view of purity and being without offense for Jesus Christ's day. And finally, their being complete (filled) as regards proofs of righteousness, to God's praise and glory. What termini are these to the trials of the wilderness! Christ's day and God's praise and glory!
Verse 12. The subject changes, and we have Paul's history of himself in relation to surrounding circumstances; but everything, to the least detail, is for the profit of the saints. Contemplated from above, everything, was in favor of the man who said, " This one thing I do." Whatever men might say of the power of circumstances, it is evident that the prisoner of Jesus Christ was ever " master of the situation," as men say. It was really Christ in him in the power of the Spirit. Compare what he says in 2 Cor. 2 " But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in the Christ."
Through his captivity at Rome, the name of Jesus was first heard in the Prætorium, as it had once reached the ears of the prisoners at Philippi. The circumstances there were the dungeon, the stocks, and the midnight darkness. Was Paul making melody in his heart in the midst of them, praising God with singing, above or beneath those circumstances? God Himself was there in Spirit The prisoners listened. What name was that which reached them through the dungeon walls? for Paul was in the inner prison). Was that a mere circumstance? I think not, and that one sees there also the effect of the presence of Him whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not.
At Rome, he says, his bonds had become manifest as being in Christ, in all the Prætorium, and in all others, or in all other places. (See New Translation.) And most of the brethren were emboldened to speak the word without fear, trusting in the Lord through his bonds. Thus the " Name " was made known everywhere, and the brethren encouraged to proclaim it without fear. Such was the result of Satan's efforts to destroy it, and of God's purpose to glorify it; and the instrument in all this service, the poor prisoner of Jesus Christ. To him might be aptly applied the well-known lines: " Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage."
His free and quiet spirit was in perfect liberty, where there is neither " Greek nor Jew," nor Roman neither! but where "Christ is everything, and in all."
We see now that circumstances are only occasions in the hand of power for the accomplishment of God's will. Some preached Christ out of contention, for envy and strife: " What then," he says, " Christ is preached, and I rejoice, and will rejoice, for even this will turn out to my salvation (looked at as realized at the end of the race) through your supplication and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." In these words we note his lowliness and dependence; farther on he says, " I have learned," and " I know;" but this was the road he took upheld by their prayers, and the " supply of the Spirit of Christ " (increase of spiritual energy). He does not say " Spirit of God," because Christ was immediately before his mind, and he was seeking to follow Him in the path which He had traversed, in all the energy of the Spirit of holiness, not one footmark out of place, not one thought to refuse, not one thing to regret. Paul was not ignorant of the end of the wondrous course finished by the " leader and completer of faith " Himself, in the glorification of God, the revelation of the Father, the accomplishment of the work given Him to do, the conquest of the world. His blessed servant could say at the end of his course, " I have kept the faith." He could not, like His divine Master, be the object of faith; but the creature has not reached a more elevated point in the race set before us than that marked out in these simple words, " I have kept the faith." Never had mortal man had such treasures committed to his keeping: " the faith," " the name of Jesus," and " the ministry," " to testify the glad tidings of the grace of God."
How his heart responded to the great commission, his pen has described in words never equaled by man in feeling and simplicity: " What do ye, weeping and breaking my heart? for I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." When the Holy Spirit in every city witnessed that bonds and tribulations awaited him, his answer was: " I make no account of my life as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the glad tidings of the grace of God." And finally he exclaims, when the conflict was ended, " I have kept the faith."
The last circumstance, if men will call it so, of the way, death, was imminent. Did that give him trouble? Surely he was saying in faith, -" Though an host should encamp against me, whom shall I fear?" It is not here, " I am ready to die for the name of the Lord Jesus," but " My earnest expectation and my hope, in all boldness, as always, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death." Christ was his life, and death gain, and he was always bearing about in his body the dying of Jesus.
By the grace of God, through faith, both the life and death of Christ were Paul's. Christ was his life, and " identified with him in the likeness of his death," and united to him in heaven by the Holy Ghost, he was already spiritually in a, place where circumstance, as a thought or expression, has no meaning or application. What are-the circumstances of the eternal life of which Paul lived.? His own he refuses, saying, " It is no, longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me?' Was that life subject or superior to circumstances?' It is hid with Christ in God; there he is speaking of its source on high; we do not talk of circumstances there. Dead to all that Christ was dead to, and alive in Him to God, that life is not subject to circumstances, though in one down here it may pass through them, manifesting itself in a power that is really divine, as expressed in the words, " I have strength for all things in him that gives me power."
But in many a one of our day, only the contrast to all this is discernible, judged of according to, appearances. It is sometimes said even of a, Christian, he is " a creature of circumstances?' Was Paul that? What was the world, what the things in it, to one who wanted to be out of it with_ -Christ? But as His saints were here, how could he cease to care for them! It was more necessary for their sakes that he should abide; and so, divinely guided and assured, he knew that he should abide with them for their joy in faith and progress in faith, the only kind of progress he ever thought of; but the end of this progress and joy was that their boasting in Christ Jesus might abound. For Paul's heart, every thought of blessing, whether on earth or in heaven, had Christ for its source, center, and end.
And now, his last thought in this chapter, he presses on them the claims of the glad tidings of the Christ. Their hearts would own them in standing fast in one spirit, with one soul, laboring together in the same conflict with the faith of the gospel, personified here, as in the other passage: " Suffer evil along with the glad tidings."
What a blessed thought! association with the gospel as with a person, participating in its afflictions and conflicts. Who entered into this conflict like the apostle himself, or, being in it, behaved himself as he did? How many have been able to say at the end, and how soon that comes! " I have fought the good fight? "
And note what he says by the way: " Now thanks be to God, who always leads me in triumph in the Christ." Their not being frightened by adversaries was a demonstration to them of destruction, but to the saints, of God's salvation. To them to suffer was a gift; were they, in accepting of it, the creatures or the masters of circumstances in the power of the life of Christ, the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus?
The truth as it is in Jesus is a wonderful thing -the life of God in man. Here it is all practical; you get a man realizing what he teaches. Without anything like pretension or affectation, the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven was the Lord of his heart. The Lord said: "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." That is the divine way of helping the saints. Paul has apprehended the glorious thought, and has found in Christ an object for himself supremely above the saints whom he-loved so well, and was ready to die for. Separation to Christ-His glory, honor, interests, is the-measure of all true love and care for His saints. As far as the Holy Ghost works in me unhinderedly, you see a person who can really be a blessing to the saints.
We are to conduct ourselves worthily, it does not say of human principles, but " of the glad tidings of the Christ;" and, as said elsewhere, " of the Lord unto all well-pleasing."
Finally, it is through the priesthood of Christ, His advocacy on high, the supply of His Spirit, the intercession of saints, and putting on the whole armor of God, that Paul speaks of salvation realized at the end of the course; 'it is thus that God brings us through the wilderness. In another aspect, according to divine teaching, the first step into the wilderness was taken with the knowledge of eternal salvation, where it is viewed as the fruit of the work finished on the cross,. To Him who accomplished it be glory forever.
Chapter 2
Paul, conscious of the power of the life in which he lived, and strengthened from its source, was far from being insensible to the difficulties and trials by which the saints are, on every side, surrounded. He had himself been pressed beyond his power, but the strain put upon the vessel only brought out the surpassingness of the power which perfected itself in the vessel's weakness.; the life of Jesus was manifested in his body. As the sufferings of Christ abounded towards him, so, through Christ, abounded his encouragement also. The encouragement he received from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ had this beautiful meaning for Paul's spirit, that he should be able to encourage those who are in any tribulation whatever, through the encouragement which he had of God. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ was learned, by him, in yet other characters in the school of experience, as the God of all encouragement and the Father of compassions.
What precious knowledge is this for one's own blessing, and indispensable for service amongst His suffering people! With what exquisite skill and delicacy he ministers such encouragement, we have had proofs in the previous chapter; how he delights to tell them of his thankfulness to God for his whole remembrance of them; of his unwearied supplication for them all with joy, and that the occasion of it was their fellowship With the gospel from the first day. They had shared in its afflictions and triumphs, he desires now that they may share in its conflicts also (" in the same conflict with the faith of the gospel ").
Having thus associated them with the portion the gospel has in this world, he next associates them with himself: "Ye have me in your hearts, and that both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the glad tidings ye are all participators in my grace." What could be more encouraging to the saints than praise like this from the "apostle of Jesus Christ"?
He had confidence respecting them that He who had begun the good work in them would complete it unto Jesus Christ's day: he had confidence, too, that it was better for them that he should remain, that their boasting might abound in Jesus Christ through him, by his presence again with them, so he knew that he should abide with them. They had the same conflict which they saw, in him and now heard of in him.
There were many links in the chain that bound' together the apostle and the Philippians, but we have not all the links yet. There were comforts in Christ of which they were the channel. We must remember that their interest in him had somewhat slackened; it was but for a moment; they had revived their thinking of him. (Chap. 6:10, New Trans.) Yet surely they did think of him, he would not allow the thought that they had forgotten him; it must be that they had lacked opportunity of communication.
He rejoices greatly, but it was in the Lord, the comforts were in Christ; his heart owns the source; where but in Him could he enjoy them?
God Himself had accepted the things sent to His servant, they were agreeable to Him, an odor of sweet savor, an acceptable sacrifice. See how, in thinking of them, he connects them with God, with Christ and with himself.
But these comforts in Christ were the consolations of love-what God is in His nature-and had yet another character: they were fruits of the fellowship of the Spirit. In speaking of their affections and compassions he is thinking rather of the saints in themselves. What heart but God's could have perceived all this in the revival of their thinking of Paul? in whose heart God's love was flowing by the Holy Ghost, who gave proofs of His indwelling when He thus filled the heart and mind with thoughts which do not belong to man.
By this comfort and consolation and fellowship, his heart, we can see, was enlarged, his mouth opened unto the Philippians, but his joy not yet filled up; that would be realized when they thought the same things, had the same love, were joined in soul, thinking one thing. (New Trans.)
Elsewhere he speaks of the unity of the Spirit, and in a more abstract way; here it was rather the realization of practical union. The standard is very high; it' would be felt in the conscience to be above the measure of human thinking; that is just what Paul feels, and he meets it by saying, " Let this mind [what Christ thought, or the thinking of Christ] be in you." Subsisting in the form of God [effulgence of His glory and exact expression of His being,] ever thinking the same thing," with Him, " thinking one thing," one with Him in nature and glory, Christ emptied Himself when in the form of God. Found in figure as a man He humbled Himself, and became obedient even unto the death of the cross.
" Emptied," " humbled," " obedient," these were the forms in which the thinkings of Christ present Him to us, bringing before us the grace of Him who came down out of heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.
Each beautiful word, and oh, how beautiful! as thus applied to Him, wakes up the dormant affection of His own, while sounding in the awakened conscience the judgment of the first man.
But the Philippians had already the mind of Christ according to 1 Cor. 2 The thoughts of that mind connected with the place He had taken-His pathway here-are the theme of the apostle in this place. How often we find that-these thoughts are neglected by our light and selfish hearts, which are only deceived when we-think of enjoying the fruits of His atoning work apart from communion with Him in the further knowledge of Himself as revealed in the word.
We talk of our salvation, our joy, and our-happiness; of the freedom wherewith He path made us free, more than of Him who is the Source of all the blessing; and, in a certain sense, we talk and think rightly, too, for it is our salvation, the joy, too, in it is given us, and that freedom has made us free indeed. But to stop there, in the place where power and love divine have set, us free, is not to think rightly; but to lose the strength even of the joy of deliverance, and to-come short of that boasting in Christ Jesus which the heart of the apostle was proposing for them. For this is connected with deeper and ever-deepening knowledge of the divine Person.
That He had overcome the world, revealed the Father, and finished the work which He had given Him to do, they knew already; but the mind that was in Christ Jesus upon coming into the world, the thoughts of that mind revealing His relations as man to God, had not been the subject of the apostle's special unfolding; yet it-is impossible to think of any subject more interesting to the hearts of His people, of anything more separative in its nature. The unveiled face in heaven is not more attractive than the marred face on earth.
Have you ever compared the " mind " in 'which Jesus commenced and ended His wondrous course through this world, with the works with which He closed it? the mind as expressed in "emptied," humbled," "obedient;" the works in, " overcome the world," "revealed the Father," "finished the work." If you have, will you say which are the -most perfect, the thoughts or the works? but this is what none can answer. They have each and alike their beginning and accomplishment in Himself. Besides, how compare that which is of infinite moral beauty with something else which is of exactly the same character? Where -all is light and no darkness at all, it would be like comparing sunbeam with sunbeam; yet even there -some inequalities might be found; but here, none.
In the passages we have been looking at we cannot help seeing that the deed is but the necessary outflow and accomplishment of the thought according to all its perfection. Had He not been the emptied One, how could He have taken the body prepared for Him, in which crucified through weakness, He could finish the work, having revealed the Father? If He had not humbled Himself in the world, of which Satan was the god, how could He have overthrown him? 'And if not obedient, instead of overcoming the world He would have been overcome by it. In John 8 He tells us that He was altogether that which He said. (See New Trans.)
Thus was He infinitely and equally reflected in what He thought, said, and did. The apostle is not merely saying, I want you to know about this mind which was in Christy presenting 'it as he did objectively; but, let this mind be in you, subjectively, as they say. In this lay the secret of power. All the grace of the Lord Jesus is unfolded in the revelation of " this, mind," and there is no teacher like grace, carrying with it salvation as well as instruction, as Titus 2:1111For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (Titus 2:11) teaches.
But whatever the essential blessedness and attractiveness of this mind, and they were indeed infinite, they were in One found in figure as a man. It was a Man's heart which was the scene of all these holy exercises and affections, in which He was perfectly before God as well as for Him, a most wondrous thing in this world; Man fully and absolutely for God in every thought of His heart, all closing on earth in one supreme thought and gift. He gave Himself (for us) an offering and sacrifice to God, for a sweet-smelling savor. It will be remarked, too, that His enemies, the instruments of His humiliation and death, have no place in the passage before us. (Phil. 2) Neither saint nor sinner occupy our attention here; it is a Man before God in all His thoughts. And then the mind of God about that wondrous Man, obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, in infinite contrast with the first man, disobedient even unto death-the wages of sin.
And now the Philippians are to have God's mind about this obedient Man, His whole being's -exclusive object. He had been crucified through weakness, therefore it is said what God (the name of power) did, in highly exalting Him.
In " raised from the dead by the glory of the Father," are further and deeper thoughts; thus we learn that the power of God and the glory of the Father, were necessarily engaged in the exaltation of Jesus. This was His personal name, the name by which He was known in humiliation. Yet the name was a mystery in itself, for it means Jehovah the Savior. This name had been announced even before. His birth by an angel. Who amongst His own had known its glorious meaning?
But we are not occupied here with man's mind; God's mind about Him is the great and only thought here. Jesus is the name in heaven. God has granted Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every, knee should bow, of heavenly, and earthly, and infernal beings. This is God's present answer to the rejecters of His holy Servant Jesus. So, when His authority and Messiahship were disowned, the apostle tells them that " God has made this same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." The kings of the earth -were there, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ; indeed they did imagine a vain thing when they stood against His Anointed, for what is the present result? God has invested Him in glory with these very titles, Lord and Christ, and granted Him the great name that is above every name, that every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to God the Father's glory: This is God's present answer to rejecters of "Jesus."
It will be understood that the glory spoken of here is the glory given by God to the anointed Man Christ Jesus; the glory looked for in John 8 was not one of divine names and titles; nor is it simply Man before God, but the Son before the Father asking for glory with Him, as He says, " Along with thyself, with the glory which I had along with thee before the world was." He had a right to it all in the title of His Person; but claims it on the ground of His having glorified the Father, and in view of forever glorifying Him.
In Philippians the glory was in relation to the creature, every knee bowing, every tongue confessing; in John 17 it is in relation to the Father alone " Glorify thou me with thine own self."
The Scriptures present us with yet other forms of His glory, as in Psa. 2 " Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession."
But to return to our chapter, we may see now the unspeakable importance of the exhortation " Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." No such words had ever been spoken to man; they would have been incomprehensible in a religion made for man in the flesh. It needed first that the "Life" should have been manifested, and consciously possessed, by those to whom they were addressed, for they are the expression of that life on earth. To angels they would be wholly inapplicable: glorious beings though they are, but how carry this mind which was in Christ! They had kept their first estate, excel in strength and do His commandments, hearkening to the voice of His word. In all this they are the condemnation of man, who did not keep his first estate, whose condition was -marked by weakness and disobedience to His commandments, and refusal to hearken to his word.
But Satan's apparent triumph in his fall has been an occasion for the revelation of ways and counsels of grace, into which these glorious beings desire to look (1 Peter 1:1212Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:12)), and by which they learn the all-various wisdom of God. Indeed we did not keep our first estate, and angels kept theirs.. But see what God has done for the saints according to His own eternal purpose and grace, given us in Christ Jesus before angels were. Angels are wondrous beings, but they have not the place we have. We have to do with God in a way angels have not. He has given us the glorious estate of the second Man risen and set over all creatures; Head of the new creation. Moreover grace and counsel in Christ are not dependent upon creature responsibility.
Again, angels excel in strength, but it is angel strength in which they do excel. Of man it is said " without strength;" the weakness of saints, however, is but the inlet to the power of Christ, His strength perfecting itself in their weakness. If angels do His commandments, still it is in the obedience of angels, a blessed thing! But the obedience of saints is the obedience of Christ Himself-sanctified unto the obedience of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:22Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2).)
They are not ashamed of the holy angels now, for their gain-in the possession of the estate, strength, and obedience of the second Man, a place never occupied by creature before- immeasurably surpasses their loss in nature's fall.
What a mighty sanction for a life of obedience was God's exaltation of the obedient, emptied. One-the name which is above every name which He gave Him!
With regard to motives and encouragements Paul has nothing now to add. The obedience of Jesus had been perfected in holiness, and God had marked His delight in it, in exalting the obedient Man to a place far above all creatures. In the spirit of this obedience, which they had seen perfected in Christ, they had to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, (this working is too serious to admit of lightness; and the more diligently, that Paul was not with them, were they to work out their own salvation; or, as Peter expresses it, " grow up to salvation." (1 Peter 2:22As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (1 Peter 2:2), New Trans.) This meaning of salvation has been spoken of already. It is God, he says, who works in you, (internal operation of power) both the willing and the working according to His own good pleasure. In the first chapter he had expressed his confidence that He who had begun a good work in them would complete it unto Jesus Christ's day.
They were to be " harmless and simple, irreproachable children of God in the midst of a perverted generation; among whom they appeared [as it is said of the heavenly bodies] as lights in the world. Holding forth the word of life so, as to be a boast for me in Christ's day, that I have not run in vain nor labored in vain." Man's day yielded no measure for Paul's exercises of heart or conscience; for me, he told the Corinthians, it is the very smallest matter that I be examined of you or of man's day. No; it was Jesus Christ's day which alone would reveal the trtie character of the running and laboring and thinking of Paul. Blessed and solemn thought! It was the judgment of Jesus Christ's day that lifted him above the judgment of man's day.
He had spoken of the Philippians being his boast in the day of Christ. What would they feel when they read the following lines which tell of his devotedness to them, even unto the death; that, if poured out on the sacrifice of their faith (their offering was the fruit of their faith, a sacrifice to God), if my life be taken, he says, I shall consider it as a libation poured out on the sacrifice of your faith. Their service, faith, and work, and that of the apostle were one.
Was I right in saying he had nothing to add, in view of ministering motives for unity, when, in this passage, he ministers to them the fruits of Christ's Spirit working in him?
Never before had the creature, man, spoken as this man speaks here. So pure and holy were the affections with which he regarded them, now in connection with Jesus Christ's day, and now with his own -death; fruit of a faith and love which were common to both. They were to rejoice in common. How great will be their rejoicing together in Christ's day!
May we live more in that day! Of Timothy and Epaphroditus one can say nothing higher than that they sympathized perfectly with Paul in these affections and interests. How blessed and precious are the sympathies which are the fruits of the in working of the Spirit of Christ.
( R. E.)