Philippians 1:6
Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) That he who hath begun (or rather, who began) a good work in you will also (see margin) finish it.—The ground of St. Paul’s confidence in their perseverance is the belief that it was God’s grace which began the good work in them, and that, not being resisted (as was obvious by their enthusiasm for good), He would complete what He had begun. In his view, God’s grace is the beginning and the end; man’s co-operation lies in the intermediate process linking both together. This is made still plainer in Philippians 2:12-13.

The day of Jesus Christ.—So also in Philippians 1:10; Philippians 2:16, “the day of Christ;” and in 1Corinthians 1:8, “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ;” in all other Epistles “the day of our Lord” (as in 1Corinthians 5:5; 2Corinthians 1:14; 1Thessalonians 5:2; 2Thessalonians 2:2); or, still more commonly, both in Gospels and Epistles, “that day.” As is usual in the Epistles, the day of the Lord is spoken of as if it were near at hand. St. Paul, in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians (Philippians 2:2, et seq.), declines to pronounce that it is near; yet does not say that it is far away, and only teaches that there is much to be done, even in the development of Anti-Christian power, before it does come. It is of course clear that, in respect of the confidence here expressed, it makes no difference whether it be near or far away. The reality of the judgment as final and complete is the one point important; “the times and seasons” matter not to us.

1:1-7 The highest honour of the most eminent ministers is, to be servants of Christ. And those who are not really saints on earth, never will be saints in heaven. Out of Christ, the best saints are sinners, and unable to stand before God. There is no peace without grace. Inward peace springs from a sense of Divine favour. And there is no grace and peace but from God our Father, the fountain and origin of all blessings. At Philippi the apostle was evil entreated, and saw little fruit of his labour; yet he remembers Philippi with joy. We must thank our God for the graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others, as we receive the benefit, and God receives the glory. The work of grace will never be perfected till the day of Jesus Christ, the day of his appearance. But we may always be confident God will perform his good work, in every soul wherein he has really begun it by regeneration; though we must not trust in outward appearances, nor in any thing but a new creation to holiness. People are dear to their ministers, when they receive benefit by their ministry. Fellow-sufferers in the cause of God should be dear one to another.Being confident - This is strong language. It means to be fully and firmly persuaded or convinced; participle, middle voice, from πείθω peithō - to persuade; compare Luke 16:31. "Neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead;" that is, they would not be convinced; Acts 17:4; Hebrews 11:13; Acts 28:24. It means here that Paul was entirely convinced of the truth of what he said. It is the language of a man who had no doubt on the subject.

That he which hath begun a good work in you - The "good work" here referred to, can be no other than religion, or true piety. This is called the work of God; the work of the Lord; or the work of Christ; John 6:29; compare 1 Corinthians 15:58; 1 Corinthians 16:10; Philippians 2:30. Paul affirms here that that work was begun by God. It was not by their own agency or will; compare the notes on John 1:13. It was on the fact that it was begun by God, that he based his firm conviction that it would be permanent. Had it been the agency of man, he would have had no such conviction, for nothing that man does today can lay the foundation of a certain conviction that he will do the same thing tomorrow. If the perseverance of the Christian depended wholly on himself, therefore, there could be no sure evidence that he would ever reach heaven.

Will perform it - Margin, "Or, finish" The Greek word - ἐπιτελέσει epitelesei - means that he would carry it forward to completion; he would perfect it. It is an intensive form of the word, meaning that it would be carried through to the end. It occurs in the following places: Luke 13:32, "I do cures;" Romans 15:28, "when I have performed this;" 2 Corinthians 7:1, "perfecting holiness;" 2 Corinthians 8:6, "so he would also finish in you;" 2 Corinthians 8:11, "perform the doing of it;" Galatians 3:3, "are ye now made perfect by the flesh;" Hebrews 8:5, "when he was about to make the tabernacle;" Hebrews 9:6, "accomplishing this service;" and 1 Peter 5:9, "are accomplished in your brethren." The word occurs nowhere else; and here means that God would carry on the work which he had begun to completion. He would not leave it unfinished. It would not he commenced and then abandoned. This would or could be "performed" or "finished" only:

(1) by keeping them from falling from grace, and,

(2) by their ultimate entire perfection.

Until the day of Jesus Christ - The day when Christ shall so manifest himself as to be the great attractive object, or the day when he shall appear to glorify himself, so that it may be said emphatically to be his day. That day is often called "his day," or "the day of the Lord," because it will be the day of his triumph and glory. It refers here to the day when the Lord Jesus will appear to receive his people to himself - the day of judgment. We may remark on this verse, that Paul believed in the perseverance of saints. It would be impossible to express a stronger conviction of the truth of that doctrine than he has done here. Language could not be clearer, and nothing can be more unequivocal than the declaration of his opinion that where God has begun a good work in the soul, it will not be finally lost. The ground of this belief he has not stated in full, but has merely hinted at it. It is based on the fact that God had begun the good work. That ground of belief is something like the following:

(1) It is in God alone. It is not in man in any sense. No reliance is to be placed upon man in keeping himself. He is too weak; too changeable; too ready to be led astray; too much disposed to yield to temptation.

(2) the reliance, therefore, is on God; and the evidence that the renewed man will be kept is this:

(a) God began the work of grace in the soul.

(b) He had a design in it. It was deliberate, and intentional. It was not by chance or haphazard. It was because he had some object that was worthy of his interposition.

(c) There is no reason why he should begin such a work and then abandon it. It cannot be because he has no power to complete it, or because there are more enemies to be overcome than he had supposed; or because there are difficulties which he did not foresee; or because it is not desirable that the work should be completed. Why then should he abandon it?

(d) God abandons nothing that he undertakes. There are no unfinished worlds or systems; no half-made and forsaken works of His hands. There is no evidence in His works of creation of change of plan, or of having forsaken what He began from disgust, or disappointment, or lack of power to complete them. Why should there be in the salvation of the soul?

(e) He has promised to keep the renewed soul to eternal life; see John 10:27-29; Hebrews 6:17-20; compare Romans 8:29-30.

6. confident—This confidence nerves prayers and thanksgivings (Php 1:3, 4).

this very thing—the very thing which he prays for (Php 1:4) is the matter of his believing confidence (Mr 11:24; 1Jo 5:14, 15). Hence the result is sure.

he which hath begun—God (Php 2:13).

a good work—Any work that God begins, He will surely finish (1Sa 3:12). Not even men begin a work at random. Much more the fact of His beginning the work is a pledge of its completion (Isa 26:12). So as to the particular work here meant, the perfecting of their fellowship in the Gospel (Php 1:5; Ps 37:24; 89:33; 138:8; Joh 10:28, 29; Ro 8:29, 35-39; 11:1, 2 Heb 6:17-19; Jas 1:17; Jude 24). As God cast not off Israel for ever, though chastening them for a time, so He will not cast off the spiritual Israel (De 33:3; Isa 27:3; 1Pe 1:5).

perform it until—"perfect it up to" [Alford, Ellicott, and others].

the day of … Christ—(Php 1:10). The Lord's coming, designed by God in every age of the Church to be regarded as near, is to be the goal set before believers' minds rather than their own death.

Being confident of this very thing; i.e. having thanked God for what he had done and did for them, he expresseth his firm persuasion and charitable hope of their perseverance for the future.

That he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it; not from any thing in themselves more than others, but because God the Father, (who is not weary of well-doing), having begun the work of faith in them Philippians 2:13, with John 6:29, who else were dead in sins, as the Ephesians, Ephesians 2:1, he would preserve and carry on that internal and spiritual work in the fruits of real Christians, and not leave it imperfect, Psalm 138:8 Isaiah 64:8; but would make it perfect, or perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle them in it, those words being of the same import in Scripture with perform it, connoting the difficulty of it.

Until the day of Jesus Christ; i.e. either until the day of their death, when the spirits of just men are made perfect, and Christ appears to their particular judgment, Hebrews 12:23, not as being perfect while here in this state, Philippians 3:12; or rather, until the day of Christ, or latter day, at judgment, 1 Corinthians 1:8 1 Thessalonians 4:15; when they shall be acknowledged to be blameless, to the glory of Christ, who hath carried them through all, and fullfilled the work of faith in them, and glorified them, 2 Thessalonians 1:11, and who are his glory, 2 Corinthians 8:23. Being confident of this very thing,.... The reason of his thanksgiving, and of his making request with joy continually on the behalf of this church, was the confidence and full persuasion he had of this same thing, of which he could be as much assured as of any thing in the world:

that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: by this good work is not meant the preaching of the Gospel among them, nor a Gospel church state set up in the midst of them: for though the preaching of the Gospel was a good work, and issued well in the conversion of many, in their edification and comfort, and which was still continued; and though a Gospel church state was erected among them, and was now flourishing, yet the apostle could not assure himself of the continuance of either of them, especially until the day of Christ; and both have been removed from thence many hundreds of years ago: nor is their liberal communication to the support of the Gospel intended; for though this was a good work, yet this was not wrought by God, but by themselves, and was not wrought in them, but done by them; nor their good lives and conversations. The Syriac version indeed renders it "good works", but these cannot be designed, for the same reasons as before; for though they are good things, and answer many valuable ends and purposes, yet they are external works done by men, and not internal ones wrought in them by God; wherefore by it is undoubtedly meant the work of grace upon their hearts, sometimes called the work of faith, because that is a principal part of it: this is God's work, and not man's, as may be concluded from the nature of the work itself, which is the transforming of a man by the reviewing of him, a regeneration, a resurrection, and a creation, and therefore requires almighty power; and from the condition man is in by nature, he is dead in sin, and has no power to act spiritually, and much less what is equal to such a work as this; he has no will, desire, and inclination to it, but all the reverse; and if he had, he could no more effect it, than the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision could cause themselves to live. This is the work of God. Sometimes it is ascribed to the Father, who regenerates, calls by his grace, reveals his Son, and draws souls unto him; and sometimes to the Son, who quickens whom he will, whose Spirit is given, whose image is stamped, and out of whose fulness grace is received; but more commonly it is attributed to the Spirit, who is a spirit of regeneration, sanctification, and faith: and this is a "good work", as it must needs be, since it is God's work; he is the efficient cause of it; his good will and pleasure, his grace and mercy are the moving cause of it, and not men's works; and his good word is the means of it. The matter of it is good; it is an illumination of the understanding, a subduing of the will, a taking away of the stony heart, and a giving of an heart of flesh, an infusion of spiritual life, a formation of Christ in the soul, and an implantation of all grace there: it is good in its effects; it makes a man a good man, and fits and qualifies him to perform good works, which without it he cannot do; it makes a man a proper habitation for God, and gives him meetness for the heavenly inheritance. And this is an internal work, a work begun "in" the saints; nothing external is this work; not an outward reformation, which, when right, is the fruit of this good work; nor external humiliation for sin; nor a cessation from the grosser acts of sin; nor a conformity and submission to Gospel ordinances; all which may be where this work is not; but it is something within a man; as appears from the names by which it goes; such as spirit, so called, because it is of a spiritual nature, wrought by the Spirit of God, and has its seat in the spirit of man; it is called the inward man, which is renewed day by day; a seed that remains in him, and a root which is out of sight, and oil in the vessel, the heart, as distinct from the lamp of an outward profession: as also from the several things, which, together, make up the subject of it; it is the understanding which is enlightened; the will which is subdued; the heart and inward parts in which the laws of God are written; the mind and conscience, which are sprinkled with the blood of Christ, and cleansed; and the affections, which are set on divine objects. This is a begun work, and but a begun one. It may be said to be begun as soon as light is let into the soul by the Spirit of God; when it sees its lost state, and need of a Saviour, for as the first thing in the old creation was light, so in the new; when the fear of God is put into the heart, which is the beginning of wisdom; when love appears in the soul to God, to Christ, to his people, word, and ordinances; and when there are the seeing, venturing, and relying acts of faith on Christ, though there is a great deal of darkness, trembling, and unbelief; and when it is got thus far, and even much further, it is but a begun work; it is not yet finished and perfect: this appears from the several parts of this work, which are imperfect, as faith, hope, love, knowledge, &c. from the indwelling of sin, and corruption in the best of saints; from their various continual wants and necessities; from their disclaiming perfection in this life, and their desires after it. But the apostle was confident, and so may every good man be confident, both for himself and others, that God who has, and wherever he has begun the good work of grace, will "perform", finish it, or bring it to an end, as the word here used signifies: and this the saints may assure themselves of, from many considerations; as from the nature of the work itself, which is called living water, because it always continues, a well of it, because of its abundance, and is said to spring up to eternal life; because it is inseparably connected with it, where there is grace, there will be glory; grace is the beginning of glory, and glory the perfection of grace; this work of grace is an incorruptible seed, and which remains in the saints, and can never be lost; it is a principle of life, the root of which is hid in Christ, and that itself is maintained by him, and can never be destroyed by men or devils: and also from the concern God has in it, who is unchangeable in his nature, purposes, promises, gifts, and calling; who is a rock, and his work is perfect sooner or later; who is faithful, and will never forsake the work of his hands, and has power to accomplish it; and who has promised his people, that they shall grow stronger and stronger, that they shall not depart from him, and he will never leave them. Moreover, this may be concluded from the indwelling of the Spirit, as a spirit of sanctification, as the earnest and seal of the inheritance, and that for ever; and from the intercession and fulness of grace in Christ, and the saints' union to him, and standing in him; as well as front the impotency of any to hinder the performance of this work, as sin, Satan, or the world: to which may be added the glory of all the three Persons herein concerned; for if this work is not finished, the glory of God the Father in election, in the covenant of grace, in the contrivance of salvation, in the mission of his Son, the glory of Christ in redemption, and of the Spirit in sanctification, would be entirely lost: wherefore it may be depended on, this work will be performed wherever it is begun, and that "until the day of Jesus Christ"; meaning either the day of death, when Christ takes the souls of believers to himself, and they shall be for ever with him, when this work of grace upon the soul will be finished; for God, who is the guide of his people, will be their God and guide even unto death: or else the last day, the day of judgment, the resurrection day, when Christ shall appear and raise the dead, and free the bodies of the saints from all their bondage, corruption, vileness, and weakness, which will be putting the last and finishing hand to this good work; nor will even the bodies of the saints be quitted by the Spirit of God till this is done.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the {d} day of Jesus Christ:

(d) The Spirit of God will not forsake you to the very latter end, until your mortal bodies will appear before the judgment of Christ to be glorified.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Php 1:6. αὐτὸ τοῦτο. Accus. of the “inner object,” where the neuter pronoun takes the place of a cognate substantive; cf. 2 Corinthians 13:1, τρίτον τοῦτο ἔρχομαι (see Blass, Gram., p. 89). αὐτὸ τοῦτο is characteristic of Paul, “the firm touch of an intent mind” (Moule, CT[46] ad loc.). “Having this firm persuasion.” Curiously enough, the same confident assurance, although based on very different grounds, is characteristic also of the later Jewish theology, e.g., Apocal. of Baruch (ed. Charles), xiii., 3. “Thou shalt be assuredly preserved to the consummation of the times.” Also xxv., 1; lxxvi., 2. “Christianity, by its completely rounded view of the world, guarantees to believers that they shall be preserved unto eternal life in the kingdom of God, which is God’s revealed end in the world” (Ritschl, Justification, E. Tr., p. 200).—ἐναρξάμενος. This verb, although a word of ritual in classical Greek, is found in LXX (Pentat.) apparently in the simple sense “begin”. In its only other occurrence in N.T., Galatians 3:3, it is combined with ἐπιτελέω as here.—ἔργον ἀγαθόν. De W., Lft[47] and others refer this to κοινωνία of Php 1:5. Is it not far more natural to regard it as “the work of God” par excellence, the production of spiritual life, the imparting of the χάρις of Php 1:7? Cf. chap. Php 2:13 and esp[48] Romans 14:20, μὴ ἕνεκεν βρώματος κατάλυε τὸ ἔργον τοῦ Θεοῦ.—ἡμέρας Ἰ. Χ. On the order . Χ., see Php 1:1 supr. ἡμ. lacks the article on the analogy of ἡμέρα Κυρίου (LXX). This favourite conception of O.T. prophecy refers to “the time when the Lord reveals Himself in His fulness to the world, when He judges evil and fulfils His great purposes of redemption among men.… But the judgment has not its end in itself, it is but the means of making Jehovah known to the world, and this knowledge of Him is salvation” (Davidson, Nahum, etc., p. 105). It is easy to see how the N.T. idea grows out of this. Paul probably assumes that the day is not far off, but indulges in no dogmatising. This name is given to the day because Christ as Κύριος is to be judge. Belief in the Parousia of Christ has a most prominent place in Paul’s religious thought. He never attempts to specify the time. But it cheers him, esp[49] in crises of his history (as in this Epistle), to believe that the Lord is near. (See Teichmann, Die paulin. Vorstellungen von Auferstehung und Gericht, p. 11 ff.). There is perhaps no part of Paul’s thought in which it is so difficult to trace a fixed outline of ideas as the eschatological. And yet there is no part more regulative for him than this.

[46] Cambridge Greek Testament.

[47] Lightfoot.

[48] especially.

[49] especially.6. Being confident] This verse is a parenthesis in the thought, suggested by the continuity “until now” of the Philippians’ love and labour. The past of grace leads him to speak of its future. The English word “confident” happily represents the Greek, which like it sometimes denotes reliance, on definite grounds (so Matthew 27:43; Mark 10:24; 2 Corinthians 1:9; below, Php 2:24, Php 3:3-4; Hebrews 2:13, &c), sometimes a more or less arbitrary assurance (so Romans 2:19). In every case in the N. T. the word indicates a feeling of personal certainty, for whatever cause.

this very thing] A favourite phrase with St Paul; Romans 9:17 (where he varies the phrase of the LXX.), Romans 13:6; 2 Corinthians 2:3; 2 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 7:11; Galatians 2:10; Ephesians 6:18; Ephesians 6:22; Colossians 4:8. Elsewhere it occurs only 2 Peter 1:5, and there the reading is disputed. The words are a characteristic touch of keen and earnest thought.

he which hath begun] Lit. he that began; at the crisis of their evangelization and conversion. “He” is God the Father (as habitually, where nothing in the context defines Either of the Other Persons), the supreme Author of the work of grace.

The Greek verb here occurs also Galatians 3:3, where the crisis of conversion is viewed from the convert’s point of view; “ye began by the Spirit.” The reference to the Holy Spirit, however, reminds us there also that a Divine enabling is absolutely needed in order to man’s “beginning” the new life.

a good work] We may perhaps render the good work. The article is absent in the Greek, but the reference is obviously to the work of works. Cp. below, Php 2:13, and note.

will perform it] Better, as R.V., will perfect it. Cp. again Galatians 3:3; “ye began by the Spirit; are ye now being perfected by the flesh?”

For the thought of this sentence cp. Psalm 138:8; “the Lord will complete (all) for me; O Lord, Thy mercy is for ever; forsake not the works of Thy hands.” There the individual believing soul expresses the confidence of faith which is here expressed with regard to the community (“you”) of such souls.

until the day, &c.] The glorious goal of the redeeming process, because then, and not before, the whole being of the saint, body (Romans 8:23) as well as spirit, shall be actually delivered from all the results of sin. The mention of this Day here is thus equally in point whether or not the Apostle were contemplating a speedy or distant return of the Lord. If He returns before the believer’s death, His coming is of course the final crisis; if otherwise, “the redemption of the body,” and so far the redemption of the being, is deferred. Cp. Ephesians 4:30; 2 Timothy 1:12.

The “Day” of Christ is mentioned below, Php 1:10, Php 2:16; and altogether, in St Paul, about twenty times. For the Lord’s own use of the word “Day” for the Crisis of His Return as Judge and Redeemer, cp. Matthew 7:22; Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:22; Matthew 11:24; Matthew 12:36; Matthew 24:36; Luke 17:24; Luke 17:26 (“days”), Luke 17:30-31, Luke 21:34; John 6:39-40; John 6:44; John 6:54.Php 1:6. Πεποιθὼς, being confident) This confidence constitutes the sinews of thanksgiving.—ὁ ἐναρξάμενος εν ὑμῖν, who has begun in you) ἐν twice emphatically.—ἔργον ἀγαθὸν, a good work) It is the one great and perpetual work of God for our salvation, ch. Php 2:13.—ἐπιτελέσει, will perfect) The beginning is the pledge of its final consummation. Not even a man begins anything at random.[3]—ἌΧΡΙς, even to) Believers set before their minds, as the goal, the day of Christ, rather than their own death.—ἡμέρας, the day) Php 1:10.

[3] Much less does God.—ED.Verse 6. - Being confident of this very thing. St. Paul's thanksgiving refers, not only to the past, but also to the future. He has a confident trustfulness in God's power and love. The words αὐτὸ τοῦτο might mean "on this account," i.e. on account of the perseverance described in Ver. 5, but the order seems to support the ordinary rendering. That he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it; rather, as R.V., which began. Both ἐναρξάμενος and ἐπιτελέσει have (Bishop Lightfoot) a sacrificial reference. The good work is self-consecration, the sacrifice of themselves, their souls and bodies, issuing in the co-operation of labor and almsgiving. This sacrificial metaphor recurs in Philippians 2:17. The good work is God's; he began it and he will perfect it. The beginning (Bengel) is the pledge of the consummation. Yet it is also their work - their co-operation towards the gospel (comp. Philippians 2:12, 13). Until the day of Jesus Christ. The perfecting will go on until the great day. To the individual Christian that clay is practically the day of his death; though, indeed, the process of perfecting may be going on in the holy dead till they obtain their perfect consummation and bliss both in body and soul. These words do not imply that St. Paul expected the second advent during the life of his Philippian converts. The words "in you" must be understood as meaning "in your hearts," not merely "among you." Being confident (πεποιθὼς)

With a slightly causative force: since I am confident.

Hath begun - will perform (ἐναρξάμενος - ἐπιτελέσει)

The two words occur together, 2 Corinthians 8:6; Galatians 3:3. Both were used of religious ceremonials. So Euripides: "But come! Bring up the sacrificial meal-basket" (ἐξάρχου κανᾶ); that is, begin the offering by taking the barley-meal from the basket ("Iphigenia in Aulis," 435). Some find the sacrificial metaphor here, and compare Philippians 2:17, see note. Perform, better as Rev., perfect. Perform, in its older and literal sense of carrying through (per) or consummating would express the idea; but popular usage has identified it with do.

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