The Christian's Peace and the Christian's Consistency

He will be spared to them -- Spiritual wealth of the paragraph -- Adolphe Monod's exposition -- Charles Simeon's testimony -- The equilibrium and its secret -- The intermediate bliss -- He longs for their full consistency -- The "gift" of suffering

Ver.21. +For to me, to live is Christ+; the consciousness and experiences of living, in the body, are so full of Christ, my supreme Interest, that CHRIST sums them all up; +and to die+, the act of dying,[1] +is gain+, for it will usher me in from an existence of blessing to an existence of more blessing still. +But+

Ver.22. +if living+ on, +in the flesh+, be my lot; if the present suspense issues in my being acquitted at the Roman tribunal, +this will prove to me+ (touto moi) +fruit of work+; it will just mean so much more work for the Lord, and so much more fruit; I shall welcome it not as being the best thing in itself, as if I chose mortal life for its own sake, but because of its ceaseless opportunities for my Lord. +And which+ alternative +I shall choose, I do not know+, I do not recognize (gnorizo, as one who seeks to be sure of the face of

Ver. 23. a friend amidst other faces). +Nay+ (de), +I am held in suspense on both sides+;[2] +my+ personal +desire being[3] in the direction of departing+, striking my tent, weighing my anchor (analysai),[4] +and being with Christ+ (for this is what "departing" means for us Christians, on its other side); +for it is far, far better+, by far more preferable, pollo mallon kreisson -- aye even than a "life in the flesh" which "is Christ"! +But+

Ver.24. then +the abiding by+ (epimenein) +the flesh+, the brave, faithful, holding fast to the conditions of earthly trial, +is more necessary+, more obligatory, more of the nature of duty as against pleasure, +on account of you+, and your further need of me in the Lord. And +feeling+

Ver.25. +confident of this, I know that I shall remain+ -- aye +and shall remain side by side+ (parameno) +with you all+, as your comrade, your helper, +in order to your progress and joy in your faith+;[5] so as to promote your growth in the exercise of loyal reliance on your Lord, and in the deep joy which is the natural issue of such

Ver.26. reliance; +so that your exultation may be overflowing in Christ Jesus+, in your living union with Him, +in me+ (en emoi), "in" whom you see a living example of your Lord's love, shewn to you +by means of my+

Ver.27. +coming back to you again+. +Only+, whether I am thus actually restored to you or not, +order your life[6] in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ+ (above all, worthy of the unifying, harmonizing power of the Gospel); +so that whether coming and seeing you, or+ remaining +absent, I may hear[7] about your circumstances+, your condition, +that you are standing firm in One Spirit+,[8] in the power of the One Strengthener, and, +with one soul+, one life and love, the resultant of the One Spirit's work in you all, +wrestling side by side+, with enemies and obstacles, +for [9]the faith of the Gospel+, for the maintenance and victory of that reliance which embraces

Ver.28. the truth of Christ; +and refusing to be+ (me) +scared out of that attitude in anything by your+ (ton) +opponents+, the unconverted world around you. +Such+ (hetis) calm united courage +is to them an evidence+, a sure token, an omen, +of+ the +perdition+ which awaits the obstinate foes of holiness, +but to you of+ the +salvation+ which awaits Christ's faithful witnesses. +And this, this+ condition of conflict and courage, +is from God+; no mere blind result of accidents, but His purpose.

Ver.29. Yes, +because to you there has been granted[10] as an+ actual +boon -- for the sake of Christ not only the believing on Him but also the suffering for His sake+;[11] a sacred privilege when it is involved by

Ver.30. loyalty to such a Master! So you will be +experiencing+[12] (echontes) +the same conflict in kind+ (oion) (as you wrestle side by side for your Lord against evil) +as that which you saw in me+, in my case, when I was with you in those first days (Acts xvi.), and which you now hear of in me, as I meet it in my prison at Rome.

The translation of our present section is completed. It has presented rather more material than usual for grammatical remark and explanation; constructions have proved to be complex, contracted, or otherwise slightly anomalous; and points of order and emphasis have claimed attention. But I trust that this handling of the texture has only brought more vividly into sight the holy richness and brightness of the design. Sentence by sentence, we have been reading a message of the first order of spiritual importance, as St Paul has spoken from his own experience of the Christian's wonderful happiness in life and death, and then, in his appeal to the Philippians, of the Christian's path of love and duty.

Let us listen anew to each part of that precious message.

i. The Christian's Happiness in Life and Death.

In Adolphe Monod's volume of death-bed addresses, his Adieux a ses Amis et a l'Eglise, one admirable chapter, the second, is devoted to the passage before us, Phil. i.21-26. From the borderland of eternity the great French Christian looks backward and forward with St Paul's letter in his hand, and comments there upon this divine possibility of "Happiness in Life and in Death." "The Apostle," he says, "is asking here which is most worth while for him, to live or to die. Often has that question presented itself to us, and perhaps we, like the Apostle, have answered that 'we are in a strait.' But I fear we may have used the words in a sense far different from St Paul's. When we have wished for death, we meant to say, 'I know not which alternative I ought most to dread, the afflictions of life, from which death would release me, or the terrors of death, from which life protects me.' In other words, life and death look to us like two evils of which we know not which is the less. As for the Apostle, they look to him like two immense blessings, of which he knows not which is the better. Personally, he prefers death, in order to be with Christ. As regards the Church and the world, he prefers life, in order to serve Jesus Christ, to extend His kingdom, and to win souls for Him. What an admirable view of life and of death! -- admirable, because it is all governed (dominiee), all sanctified, by love, and is akin to the Lord Jesus Christ's own view of life and death. Let us set ourselves to enter into this feeling (sentiment). Life is good; death is good. Death is good, because it releases us from the miseries of this life, but above all because, even were life full for us of all the joys which earth can give, death bids us enter into a joy and a glory of which we can form no idea. We are then to consider death as a thing desirable in itself. Let us not shun what serves to remind us of it. Let all the illnesses, all the sudden deaths, all that passes round us, remind us that for each one of us death may come at any moment. But then life also is good, because in life we can serve, glorify, imitate, Jesus Christ. Life is not worth the trouble of living for any other object. All the strength we possess, all the breath, the life, the faculties, all is to be consecrated, devoted, sanctified, crucified, for the service of our Lord Jesus Christ. This crucified life is the happy life, even amidst earth's bitterest pains; it is the life in which we can both taste for ourselves and diffuse around us the most precious blessings. Let us love life, let us feel the value of life -- but to fill it with Jesus Christ. In order to such a state of feeling, the Holy Spirit alone can transform us into new men. But observe; it is not only that our spirit must be sustained, consoled, fortified; the Spirit of God must come to dwell in us. We often set ourselves to work on ourselves, to set our spirit in order; this is well, but it is not enough. We want more. Jesus Christ Himself must dwell in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

"My friends, let us reflect upon the character of the promises of the Gospel, and we shall see how far we are from possessing and enjoying them. May God open the heavens above our heads; revealing all to us, filling us with all wisdom, granting us to see that even here below we may attain to perfect joy, while looking forward to possess hereafter the plenitude of bliss and of victory. May He teach us how to gather up the blessings which the heavens love to pour upon the earth which opens to receive them. And so may He teach us to know that if earth is able to bear us down and trouble us, it is unable to quench the virtues of heaven, to annul the promises of God, or to throw a veil, be it even the lightest cloud, over the love with which God has loved us in Jesus Christ."[13]

"He being dead yet speaketh." On his bed of prolonged and inexpressible sufferings Monod, called comparatively early to leave a life and ministry of singular fruitfulness and rich in interests, found in Jesus the inexhaustible secret of this blessed equilibrium of St Paul. And what a cloud of witnesses have borne their testimony to that same open secret, as the most solid while most supernatural of realities! As I write, the memory comes up before me of a beloved friend and kinsman, my contemporary at Cambridge, called unexpectedly to die in his twenty-second year. Life to him was full of the strongest interests and most attractive hopes, alike in nature and in grace. He had no quarrel with life; it had poured out before him a rich store of social and mental blessings, and a large wealth of surrounding love, and the Lord Jesus, taking early and decisive possession of the young man's heart, had only augmented and glorified, not rebuked or stunted, every interest. But a slight fever, caught in the Swiss hotel, was medically mismanaged, and when perfect skill was summoned in, it was too late. His mother came to her son on his sofa to tell him that he was not only, as he knew, very poorly; he was about to die. In a moment, without a change of colour, without a tremor, without a pause, smiling a radiant smile, he looked up and answered, "Well, to depart and to be with Christ is far better!"

So the young Christian passed away, exchanging life which was sweet for death which, because of the life it would reveal, was sweeter. And "the veterans of the King" say just the same. If ever a man enjoyed life, with a vigorous and conscious joy, it was Simeon of Cambridge. And till the age of exactly seventy-seven he was permitted to live with a powerful life indeed; a life full of affections, interests, enterprises, achievements, and all full of Christ. Yet in that energetic and intensely human soul "the desire was to depart and to be with Christ." It was no dreamy reverie; but it was supernatural. It stimulated him to unwearied work; but it was breathed into him from eternity. "I cannot but run with all my might," he wrote in the midst of his youthful old age, "for I am close to the goal."

It is indeed a phenomenon peculiar to the Gospel, this view of life and death. It is far more than resignation. It is different even from the "holy indifference" of the mystic saints. For it is full of warmth, and sympathy, and all the affections of the heart, in both directions. The man who is the happy possessor of this secret does not on the one hand go about saying to himself that all around him is maya, is a dream, a phantasm of the desert sands counterfeiting the waters and the woods of Eden. He is as much alive in human life as the worldling is, and more. He cordially loves his dear ones; he is the open-hearted friend, the helpful neighbour, the loving and loyal citizen and subject, the attentive and intelligent worker in his daily path of duty. Time with its contents is full of reality and value to him. He does not hold that the earth is God-forsaken. With his Lord (Ps. civ.), he "rejoices in the works" of that Lord's hands; and, with the heavenly Wisdom (Prov. viii.), "his delights are with the sons of men." But on the other hand, he does not banish from his thoughts as if it were unpractical the dear prospect of another world. He is not foolish enough to talk of "other-worldliness," as if it were a selfish thing to "lay up treasure in heaven," and so to have "his heart there also." For him the present could not possibly be what it is in its interests, affections, and purposes, if it were not for the revealed certainties of an everlasting future in the presence of the King. "He faints not," in the path of genuine temporal toil and duty, because "he looks at the things which are not seen."

But now, what is the secret of the equilibrium? We saw in our last chapter what was the secret of the unruffled peace with which St Paul could meet the exquisite trials occasioned by the separatist party at Rome. It was the Lord Jesus Christ. And the secret of the far more than peace with which here he meets the alternative of life and death is precisely the same; it is the Lord Jesus Christ. He has no philosophy of happiness; he has something infinitely better; he has the Lord. What gives life its zest and charm for him? It is, that life "is Christ." What makes death an object of positive personal "desire" for him, matched, let us remember, against a "life" with which he is so deeply contented? It is, that "to depart" is to be with Christ, which is "far, far better." On either side of the veil, Jesus Christ is all things to him. So both sides are divinely good; only, the conditions of the other side are such that the longed-for companionship of his MASTER will be more perfectly realized there.

We might linger long over this golden passage. It would give us matter for more than one chapter to unfold adequately, for example, its clear witness to the conscious and immediate blessedness in death of the servants of God. We may ponder long what it implies in this direction when we remember that its "far, far better" means "better" not than our present life at its worst but than our present life at its holiest and best; for, as we have observed already, it is "far, far better" than a life here which "is Christ." Whatever mysteries attend the thought of the Intermediate State, and however distinctly we remember that the disembodied spirit must, as such, be circumstanced less perfectly than the spirit lodged again in the body, "the body of glory," yet this at least we gather here; the believer's happy spirit, "departing" from "this tabernacle," finds itself not in the void, not in the dark, not under penal or disciplinary pain, but in a state "far, far better" than its very best yet. It is, in a sense so much better in degree as to be new in kind, "with Christ."

"Yes, think of all things at the best; in one rich thought unite All purest joys of sense and soul, all present love and light; Yet bind this truth upon thy brow and clasp it to thy heart, And then nor grief nor gladness here shall claim too great a part -- All radiance of this lower sky is to that glory dim; Far better to depart it is, for we shall be WITH HIM." [14]

ii. But even on this theme I must not linger now. Not only because "the time would fail me," but because we have to remember that the main incidence of the Apostle's thought here is not upon the blessedness of death but upon the joy of duty, the "fruit of labour," in continued life. He looks in through the gate, not to sigh because he may not enter yet, but "to run with all his might," in the path of unselfish service, "because he is close to the goal" -- the goal of being with Christ, to whom he will belong for ever, and whom he will serve for ever, "day and night in His temple." He "knows that he shall remain, and that, side by side with" his dear converts at Philippi. And his "meat is to do the will of Him that sent him, and to finish His work."

The remainder of our chosen portion is altogether to this purpose. He has said enough about himself now, having just indicated how much Christ can be to him for peace and power in the great alternative. Now his thoughts are wholly at Philippi, and he spends himself on entreating them to live indeed, to live wholly for Christ; and to do so in two main respects, in self-forgetting unity, and in the recognition of the joy and glory of suffering.

"Only let them order their life in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ." "Only"; as if this were the one possible topic for him now. This will content him; nothing else will. He "desires one thing of the Lord" -- the practical holiness of his beloved converts; and he cannot possibly do otherwise, coming as he has just come from "the secret of the presence," felt in his own experience. Will they be watchful and prayerful? Will they renounce the life of self-will, and entirely live for their Lord's holy credit and glory? Will they particularly surrender a certain temptation to jealousies and divisions? Will they recollect that Christ has so committed Himself to them to manifest to the world that it is the "only" thing in life, after all, in the last resort, to be practically true to Him? Then the Missionary will be happy; his "joy will be fulfilled."

What pastor, what evangelist, what worker of any true sort for God in the souls of others, does not know something of the meaning of that "only" of the Apostle's?

Then he passes, by a transition easy indeed in the case of the Philippian saints, to the subject of suffering. In that difficult scene, the Roman colonia, to be perfectly consistent, must mean, in one measure or another, to suffer; it must mean to encounter "adversaries," such open adversaries, probably, as those who had dragged Paul and Silas to the judgment seat and the dungeon, ten years before. How were they to meet that experience, or anything resembling it? Not merely with resignation, nor even with resolution, but with a recognition of the joy, nay of the "gift," of "suffering for His sake."

Circumstances infinitely vary, and so therefore do sufferings. The Master assigns their kinds and degrees, not arbitrarily indeed but sovereignly; and it is His manifest will that not all equally faithful Christians should equally encounter open violence, or even open shame, "for His sake." But it is His will also, definitely revealed, that suffering in some sort, "for His name's sake," should normally enter into the lot of "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus." Even in the Church there is the world. And the world does not like the allegiance to Christ which quite refuses, however modestly and meekly, to worship its golden image. To the end, pain must be met with in the doing here on earth of the "beloved will of God."

But this very pain is "a gift" from the treasures of heaven. Not in itself; pain is never in itself a good; the perfect bliss will not include it; "there shall be no more pain." But in its relations and its effects it is "a gift" indeed. For to the disciple who meets it in the path of witness and of service for his Master amongst his fellows, it opens up, as nothing else can do, the fellowship of the faithful, and the heart of JESUS.

[1] Observe the aorist infinitive, to apothanein, of the crisis, dying, contrasted with the present infinitive, to zen, of the process, living. -- It may be noticed that the renderings of Luther, Christus ist mein Leben, and Tindale, Christ is to me lyfe, are untenable, though expressing as a fact a deep and precious truth. The Apostle is obviously dealing with the characteristics, not the source, of "living."

[2] Sunechomai: literally, "I am confined, restricted from the two (sides)"; as if to say, "I am hindered as to my choice, whichever side you view me from."

[3] Literally, "having the desire"; not "a desire," which misses the point of the words. He means that his epithymia lies in one direction, his conviction of call and duty in the other. The desire, the element of personal longing in him, is for "departing."

[4] The Vulgate renders here, cupio dissolvi, as if analysai meant, so to speak, to "analyse" myself into my elements, to separate my soul from my body. But the usage of the verb, in the Greek of the Apocrypha, is for the sense given in our Versions, and above; to "break up," in the sense of "setting out."

[5] Literally, "your progress and joy of the faith." The Greek suggests the connexion of both "progress" and "joy" with "faith." And St Paul's general use of the word pistis favours its reference here not to the objective creed but to the subjective reliance of the holder of the creed.

[6] Politeuesthe: literally, "live your citizen-life." But in its usage the verb drops all explicit reference to the polites, and means little more than "live"; in the sense however not of mere existence, or even of experience, but of a course of principle and order. See Acts xxiii.1, the only other N.T. passage where it occurs; and 2 Macc. vi.1, xi.25.

[7] The words suggest to us that the Apostle might have written, more fully and exactly, hina ido, ean eltho, kai hina akouso, ean apo. But it is best to retain in translation the somewhat lax grammatical form of the Greek.

[8] The parallels, 1 Cor. xii.13, Eph. ii.18, strongly favour the reference of pneuma here to the Holy Spirit of God.

[9] It is of course possible to translate synathlountes te piotei, "wrestling side by side with the faith," as if "the faith" was the Comrade of the believers. But the context is not favourable to this; the emphasis seems to lie throughout on the believers' fellowship with one another.

[10] Echaristhe: the English perfect best represents here the Greek aorist.

[11] The Greek may be explained as if the Apostle had meant to write, echaristhn to uper Christou paschein, and then freely inserted the antecedent fact of to pioieuein.

[12] Echontes: the nominative participle takes us back grammatically to the construction previous to the sentences beginning hetis eotin k.t.a.; which sentences may be treated as a parenthesis. I have attempted to convey this in a paraphrase.

[13] Adieux, ed.1857, pp.10-12.

[14] From the writer's volume of verse, In the House of the Pilgrimage.

"Lord, we expect to suffer here,
Nor would we dare repine;
But give us still to find Thee near,
And own us still for Thine.

"Let us enjoy, and highly prize,
These tokens of Thy love,
Till Thou shalt bid our spirits rise
To worship Thee above."


"Our glorious Leader claims our praise
For His own pattern giv'n;
While the long cloud of witnesses
Shew the same path to heav'n."




Dissensions incident to activity -- Arguments for heart-union -- "No plunderer's prize" -- "The name" -- The tone of the great passage -- What the "Kenosis" cannot be -- It guarantees the infallibility -- Doctrine and life -- "Only thou"

In the section which we studied last we found the Apostle coming to the weak point of the Christian life of the Philippians. On the whole, he was full of thankful and happy thoughts about them. Theirs was no lukewarm religion; it abounded in practical benevolence, animated by love to Christ, and it was evidently ready for joyful witness to the Lord, in face of opposition and even of persecution. But there was a tendency towards dissension and internal separation in the Mission Church; a tendency which all through the Epistle betrays its presence by the stress which the Apostle everywhere lays upon holy unity, the unity of love, the unity whose secret lies in the individual's forgetfulness of self.

Such dangers are always present in the Christian Church, for everywhere and always saints are still sinners. And it is a sad but undeniable fact of Christian history that the spirit of difference, dissension, antagonism, within the ranks of the believing, is not least likely to be operative where there is a generally diffused life and vigour in the community. A state of spiritual chill or lukewarmness may even favour a certain exterior tranquillity; for where the energies of conviction are absent there will be little energy for discussion and resistance in matters not merely secular. But where Christian life and thought, and the expression of it, are in power, there, unless the Church is particularly watchful, the enemy has his occasion to put in the seeds of the tares amidst the golden grain. The Gospel itself has animated the disciples' affections, and also their intellects; and if the Gospel is not diligently used as guide as well as stimulus, there will assuredly be collisions.

Almost every great crisis of life and blessing in the Church has shewn examples of this. It was thus in the period of the Reformation, the moment the law of love was forgotten by the powerful minds which were so wonderfully energized as well as liberated by the rediscovery of eternal truths long forgotten. It was thus again in the course of the Evangelical Revival in the last century, when holy men, whose whole natures had been warmed and vivified by a new insight for themselves into the fulness of Christ, were betrayed into discussions on the mysteries of grace carried on in the spirit rather of self than of love. "We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burthened." The words are true of the believing individual; they are true also of the believing Church. That which is perfect is not yet come. In the inscrutable but holy progress of the plan of God in redemption towards its radiant goal, it is permitted that temptation should connect itself with our very blessings, both in the person and in the community. And our one antidote is to watch and pray, looking unto Jesus, and looking away from ourselves.

It was thus in measure at Philippi. And St Paul cannot rest about it. He plies them with every loving argument for the unity of love, ranging from the plea of attachment to himself up to the supreme plea of "the mind that was in Christ Jesus" when He came down from heaven. He has begun to address them thus already. And in the wonderful passage now before us he is to develope his appeal to the utmost, in the Lord's name.

Ver.1. +If therefore+, in connexion with this theme of holy oneness of love and life, +there is such a thing as comfort+, encouragement (paraklesis), +in Christ+, drawn from our common union with the Lord, if +there is such a thing as love's consolation+, the tender cheer which love can give to a beloved one by meeting his inmost wish, +if there is such a thing as Spirit-sharing+,[1] +if there are such things as hearts+ (splagchna, viscera) +and compassions+, feelings of human tenderness and attachment, through which I may appeal to you simply as a friend, and a friend in trouble,

Ver.2. calling for your pity; +make full my joy+, drop this last ingredient into the cup of my thankful happiness for you, and bring the wine to the brim, +by being[2] of the same mind+ (phronma, feeling, attitude of mind), +feeling+ (echontes) +the same love+, "the same" on all sides, soul and soul together (sympsychoi) +in a+

Ver.3. +mind which is unity itself+.[3] +Nothing+ (muden, implying of course prohibition) +in the way of+ (kata) +personal or party spirit;[4] rather+ (alla), +as regards your+ (tu) +humblemindedness+, your view of yourselves learnt at the feet of your Saviour, +reckon[5] each other superior to yourselves+; as assuredly you will do, with a logic true to the soul, when each sees himself, the personality he knows best, in the light of eternal holiness

Ver.4. and love. +Not to your own+ interests +look+ (skopountes), +each circle of you, but each circle[6] to those+

Ver.5. +of others also. Have this mind+ (phroneite) in +you+, this moral attitude in each soul, +which+ was, and is,[7] +also in Christ Jesus+, (in that eternal Messiah whom I name already with His human Name, JESUS; for in the will of His Father, and in the unity of His own Person, it was as it were His Name already

Ver.6. from everlasting,) +who in God's manifested Being[8] subsisting+,[9] seeming divine, because He was divine, in the full sense of Deity, in that eternal world, +reckoned it no plunderer's prize[10] to be on an equality with God+;[11] no, He viewed His possession of the fulness of the Eternal Nature as securely and inalienably His own, and so He dealt with it for our sakes with a sublime and restful remembrance of others; far from thinking of it as for Himself alone, as one who claimed it unlawfully would have done,

Ver.7. +He rather (alla) made Himself void by His own act+,[12] void of the manifestation and exercise of Deity as it was His on the throne,[13] +taking[14] Bond-servant's+ (doulou) +manifested being+ (morphe), that is to say, the veritable Human Nature which, as a creaturely nature, is essentially bound to the service of the Creator, the bondservice of the Father; +coming to be+, becoming, genomenos, +in men's similitude+, so truly human as not only to be but to seem Man, accepting all the conditions involved in a truly human exterior,

Ver.8. "pleased as Man with men to appear." +And+ then, further, +being found+, as He offered Himself to view, +in respect of guise+ (scheati), in respect of outward shape, and habit, and address, +as Man+, He went further, He stooped yet lower, even from Humanity to Death; +He humbled Himself, in becoming obedient+,[15] obedient to Him whose Bondservant He now was as Man, +to the length[16] of death, aye+ (de), +death of Cross+, that death of unimaginable pain and of utmost shame, the death which to the Jew was the symbol of the curse of God upon the victim, and to the Roman was a horror of degradation which should be "far not only from the bodies but from the imaginations of citizens of Rome."[17]

So He came, and so He suffered, because "He

Ver.9. looked to the interests of others." +Wherefore also God+, His God (ho theos), +supremely exalted Him+, in His Resurrection and Ascension, +and conferred upon Him+, as a gift of infinite love and approval (echarisato), +the Name which is above every name+; THE NAME, unique and glorious; the Name Supreme, the I AM; to be His Name now, not only as He is from eternity, the everlasting Son of the Father, but as He became also in time, the suffering and risen Saviour of sinners.[18] In His whole character and work He is invested now with the transcendent glory and greatness of divine dignity; every thought of the suffering Manhood is steeped in the fact that He who, looking on the things of others, came down to bear it, is now enthroned where only the Absolute and Eternal King

Ver.10. can sit; +so that in the Name of Jesus+,[19] in presence of the revealed majesty of Him who bears, as Man, the human personal Name, Jesus, +every knee should bow+, as the prophet (Isa. xlv.23) foretells, +of things celestial, and terrestrial, and subterranean+, of all created existence, in its heights and depths; spirits, men, and every other creature; all bowing, each in their way, to the imperium of the exalted Jesus,

Ver.11. JEHOVAH-JESUS; +and that every tongue should confess+, with the confessing of adoring, praising, worship (exomologesetai), +that Jesus Christ is+ nothing less than +Lord+, in the supreme and ultimate sense of that mighty word, +to God the Father's glory+. For the worship given to "His Own Son" (Rom. viii.32), whose Nature is one with His, whose glories flow eternally from Him, is praise given to Him.[20]

So closes one of the most conspicuous and magnificent of the dogmatic utterances of the New Testament. Let us consider it for a few moments from that point of view alone. We have here a chain of assertions about our Lord Jesus Christ, made within some thirty years of His death at Jerusalem; made in the open day of public Christian intercourse, and made (every reader must feel this) not in the least in the manner of controversy, of assertion against difficulties and denials, but in the tone of a settled, common, and most living certainty. These assertions give us on the one hand the fullest possible assurance that He is Man, Man in nature, in circumstances and experience, and particularly in the sphere of relation to God the Father. But they also assure us, in precisely the same tone, and in a way which is equally vital to the argument in hand, that He is as genuinely Divine as He is genuinely Human. Did He "come to be in Bondservant's Form"? And does the word Form, morphe, there, unless the glowing argument is to run as cold as ice, mean, as it ought to mean, reality in manifestation, fact in sight, a Manhood perfectly real, carrying with it a veritable creaturely {98} obligation (douleia) to God? But He was also, antecedently, "in God's Form." And there too therefore we are to understand, unless the wonderful words are to be robbed of all their living power, that He who came to be Man, and to seem Man, in an antecedent state of His blessed Being was God, and seemed God. And His "becoming to be" one with us in that mysterious but genuine Bondservice was the free and conscious choice of His eternal Will, His eternal Love, in the glory of the Throne. "When He came on earth abased" He was no Victim of a secret and irresistible destiny, such as that which in the Stoic's theology swept the Gods of Olympus to their hour of change and extinction as surely as it swept men to ultimate annihilation. "He made Himself void," with all the foresight and with all the freewill which can be exercised upon the Throne where the Son is in the Form of the Eternal Nature. Such is the Christology of the passage in its aspect towards Deity.

Then in regard of our beloved Lord's Manhood, its implications assure us that the perfect genuineness of that Manhood, which could not be expressed in a term more profound and complete than this same morphe doulou, Form of Bondservant, leaves us yet perfectly sure that He who chose to be Bondservant is to us only all the more, even in His Manhood, LORD. Was it not His own prescient choice to be true Man? And was it not His choice with a prescient and infallible regard to "the things of others," to "us men and our salvation"? Then we may be sure that, whatever is meant by the "made Himself void," heauton ekenosen, which describes His Incarnation here, one thing it could never possibly mean -- -a "Kenosis" which could hurt or distort His absolute fitness to guide and bless us whom He came to save. That awful and benignant "Exinanition" placed Him indeed on the creaturely level in regard of the reality of human experience of growth, and human capacity for suffering. But never for one moment did it, could it, make Him other than the absolute and infallible Master and Guide of His redeemed.

We are beset at the present day, on many sides, with speculations about the "Kenosis" of the Lord which in some cases anyhow have it for their manifest goal to justify the thought that He condescended to be fallible; that He "made Himself void" of such knowledge as should protect Him from mistaken statements about, for example, the history, quality, and authority of the Old Testament Scriptures. I have said once and again elsewhere[21] that such an application of the "made Himself void," heauton ekenosen, of this passage (from which alone we get the word Kenosis for the Incarnation) is essentially beside the mark. The Kenosis here is a very definite thing, as we see when we read the Greek. It is just this -- the taking of "Bondservant's Form." It is -- the becoming the absolute Human Bondservant of the Father. And the Absolute Bondservant must exercise a perfect Bond-service. And this will mean, amidst all else that it may mean, a perfect conveyance of the Supreme Master's mind in the delivery of His message. "He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God." The Kenosis itself (as St Paul meant it) is nothing less than the guarantee of the Infallibility. It says neither yes nor no to the question, Was our Redeemer, as Man, "in the days of His flesh," omniscient? It says a profound and decisive yes to the question, Is our Redeemer, as Man, "in the days of His flesh," to be absolutely trusted as the Truth in every syllable of assertion which He was actually pleased to make? "He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God."

The dogmatic treasures of this wonderful passage are by no means exhausted, even when we have drawn from it what it can say to us about the glory of the Lord Christ Jesus. But it is not possible to follow the research further, here and now; this imperfect indication of the main teachings about Him must be enough.

But now, in closing, let us remember for our blessing how this passage of didactic splendour comes in. It is no lecture in the abstract. As we have seen, it is not in the least a controversial assertion. It is simply part of an argument to the heart. St Paul is not here, as elsewhere in his Epistles, combating an error of faith; he is pleading for a life of love. He has full in view the temptations which threatened to mar the happy harmony of Christian fellowship at Philippi. His longing is that they should be "of one accord, of one mind"; and that in order to that blessed end they should each forget himself and remember others. He appeals to them by many motives; by their common share in Christ, and in the Spirit, and by the simple plea of their affection for himself. But then -- there is one plea more; it is "the mind that was in Christ Jesus," when "for us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven, and was made Man, and suffered for us." Here was at once model and motive for the Philippian saints; for Euodia, and Syntyche, and every individual, and every group. Nothing short of the "mind" of the Head must be the "mind" of the member; and then the glory of the Head (so it is implied) shall be shed hereafter upon the member too: "I will grant to him to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne."

What a comment is this upon that fallacy of religious thought which would dismiss Christian doctrine to the region of theorists and dreamers, in favour of Christian "life"! Christian doctrine, rightly so called, is simply the articulate statement, according to the Scriptures, of eternal and vital facts, that we may live by them. The passage before us is charged to the brim with the doctrine of the Person and the Natures of Christ. And why? It is in order that the Christian, tempted to a self-asserting life, may "look upon the things of others," for the reason that this supreme Fact, his Saviour, is in fact thus and thus, and did in fact think and act thus and thus for His people. Without the facts, which are the doctrine, we might have had abundant rhetoric in St Paul's appeal for unselfishness and harmony; but where would have been the mighty lever for the affections and the will?

Oh reason of reasons, argument of arguments -- the LORD JESUS CHRIST! Nothing in Christianity lies really outside Him. His Person and His Work embody all its dogmatic teaching. His Example, "His Love which passeth knowledge," is the sum and life of all its morality. Well has it been said that the whole Gospel message is conveyed to us sinners in those three words, "Looking unto Jesus." Is it pardon we need, is it acceptance, free as the love of God, holy as His law? We find it, we possess it, "looking unto Jesus" crucified. Is it power we need, victory and triumph over sin, capacity and willingness to witness and to suffer in a world which loves Him not at all? We find it, we possess it, it possesses us, as we "look unto Jesus" risen and reigning, for us on the Throne, with us in the soul. Is it rule and model that we want, not written on the stones of Horeb only, but "on the fleshy tables of the heart"? We find it, we receive it, we yield ourselves up to it, as we "look unto Jesus" in His path of love, from the Throne to the Cross, from the Cross to the Throne, till the Spirit inscribes that law upon our inmost wills.

Be ever more and more to us, Lord Jesus Christ, in all Thy answer, to our boundless needs. Let us "sink to no second cause." Let us come to Thee. Let us yield to Thee. Let us follow Thee. Present Thyself evermore to us as literally our all in all. And so through a blessed fellowship in Thy wonderful humiliation we shall partake for ever hereafter in the exaltations of Thy glory, which is the glory of immortal love.

[1] Koinunia pneumatos: "participation in the Spirit"; sharing and sharing alike in the grace and power of the Holy Ghost. I venture to render pneumatos as if it were tou Pneumatos, having regard to the great parallel passage, 2 Cor. xiii.14, he koinonia tou hagiou Pneumatos. With a word so great and conspicuous as pneuma it is impossible to decide by the mere absence of the article that the reference is not to the (personal) Spirit. Kurios, Theos, Christos, are continually given without the article where the reference is definite; because they are words whose greatness tends of itself to define the reference, unless context withstands. Pneuma in the N. T. is to some extent a parallel case with these.

[2] Ina . . . phronute: my English is obviously a mere paraphrase here. More exactly we may render, "make full my joy, so as to be," etc.; words which come to much the same effect, but are less true to our common idioms.

[3] To en phronountes: a difficult phrase to render quite adequately. We may paraphrase it either as above, or, "possessed with the idea, or sentiment, of unity." But the paraphrase above seems most satisfactory in view of the similar phrase just before, to auto phronete. This phrase seems to echo that, only in a stronger and less usual form. The thought thus will be not so much of unity as the object of thought or feeling as of unity as (so to speak) the substance or spirit of it.

[4] Kata eritheian: my long paraphrase attempts to give the suggestion that the eritheia might be either purely individual self-assertion or the animus of a clique.

[5] Hegoumenoi: the participle practically does the work of an imperative. See Rom. xii. for a striking chain of examples of this powerful and intelligible idiom.

[6] Hekastoi, not hekastos, should probably be read in the first clause here, and certainly in the second. By Greek idiom, the plural gives the thought of a collective unity under "each."

[7] The Greek gives no verb. I have written "was, and is," in the paraphrase, because the limitation of the reference of our blessed Lord's phronema to the pre-incarnate past is not expressed in the Greek.

[8] En morphe: morphe is imperfectly represented by our common use of the word "form," which stands often even in contrast to "reality." Morphe is reality in manifestation.

[9] Uparchon: R.V. margin, "originally being." The word lends itself to such a reference, but not so invariably as to allow us to press it here.

[10] Arpagmon: the word is extremely rare, found here only in the Greek Scriptures, and once only in secular Greek. Strictly, by form (-mon), it should mean, "a process of plunder" rather than "an object of plunder" (-ma). But parallel cases forbid us to press this. The A.V. rendering here suggests the thought that our Lord "thought it no usurpation to be equal with God, and yet made Himself void," etc. But surely the thought is rather, "and so made Himself void." So sure was His claim that, so to speak, with a sublime un-anxiety, while with an infinite sacrifice, He made Himself void.

[11] Isa Theo: the neuter plural calls attention rather to the Characteristics than to the Personality. -- Through this whole passage we cannot too distinctly remember that it occurs in the Scriptures, and in the writings of one who was trained in the strictest school of Pharisaic Monotheism. St Paul was not the man to use such terms of his Saviour and Master had he not seen in Him nothing less than the very "Fellow of JEHOVAH" (Zech. xiii.7).

[12] Eauton ekeose: Heauton is slightly emphatic by position; I attempt to convey this by the words "by His own act."

[13] See further below, pp.98, etc. [Transcriber's note: page 98 is indicated in this text with "{98}".]

[14] Labon: the aorist participle, in Greek idiom, unites itself closely in thought with the aorist verb ekenose just previous. The resulting idea is not "He made Himself void, and then took," but "He made Himself void by taking." The "Exinanition" was, in fact, just this -- the taking the form of the doulos: neither less nor more.

[15] Note again the aorist verb and aorist participle: etapeinose . . . genomenos.

[16] The Greek, mechri thanatou, makes it plain that the Lord did not obey death but obeyed the Father so utterly as even to die.

[17] Cicero, pro Rabirio, c.5.

[18] Bishop Lightfoot has well vindicated this reference of the onoma here. I venture to refer the reader also to my commentary on Philippians, in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges.

[19] Not "the Name Jesus," but "the Name of, belonging to, Jesus." The grammar admits either rendering, but the context, if I explain it aright, is decisive. "The Name" is still the Supreme Name, JEHOVAH, as just above. -- "In the Name" should be explained, in view of the context, not of worship through but worship yielded to the Name. See Lightfoot for examples of this usage.

[20] Chrysostom brings this great truth nobly out in his homiletic comments here (Hom. vii. on Philippians, ch.4): "A mighty proof it is of the Father's power, and goodness, and wisdom, that He hath begotten such a Son, a Son nowise inferior in goodness and wisdom . . . like Him in all things, Fatherhood alone excepted." Nothing but the orthodox Creed, with its harmonious truths of the proper Godhead and proper Filiation of the Lord Christ, can possibly satisfy the whole of the apostolic language about His infinite glory on the one hand and His relation to the Father on the other.

[21] In my Veni Creator and To my Younger Brethren, and more recently in a University Sermon quoted at the close of a little book published Easter, 1896, by Seeley: Prayers and Promises.

"Make my life a bright outshining
Of Thy life, that all may see
Thine own resurrection power
Mightily shewn forth in me;
Ever let my heart become
Yet more consciously Thy home."


"O Jesus Christ, grow Thou in me,
And all things else recede;
My heart be daily nearer Thee,
From sin be daily freed.

"More of Thy glory let me see,
Thou Holy, Wise, and True;
I would Thy living image be
In joy and sorrow too."
H. B. SMITH, from the German of C. LAVATER.




"Your own salvation" -- Stars in the midnight sky -- Truth and holiness -- The atonement and the indwelling -- Mystery and need of the indwelling -- Indifference in God -- Spiritual power shewn in love -- Aggression and witness -- The witnesses and the martyr

We have just followed the Apostle as he has followed the Saviour of sinners from the Throne to the Cross, and from the Cross to the Throne. And we have remembered the moral motive of that wonderful paragraph of spiritual revelation. It was written not to occupy the mind merely, or to elevate it, but to bring the believer's heart into a delightful subjection to Him who "pleased not Himself," till the Lord should be reflected in the self-forgetting life of His follower.

In the passage now opening before us we find St Paul's thought still working in continuity with this argument. He has still in his heart the risks of friction at Philippi, and the need of meeting them in the power of the Lord's example. This will come out particularly in the fourteenth and fifteenth verses, where he deprecates "murmurings and disputings," and pleads for a life of pure, sweet light and love. But the line of appeal, though continuous, is now somewhat altered in its direction. The divine greatness of the love of the Incarnation has, during his treatment of it, filled him with an intense and profound recollection of the greatness of the Christian's connexion with his God, and of the sacred awfulness of his responsibility, and of the fulness of his resources. So the appeal now is not merely to be like-minded, and to be watchful for unity. He asks them now to use fully for a life of holiness the mighty fact of their possession of an Indwelling God in Christ. The details of precept are as it were absorbed for the time into the glorious power and principle -- only to reappear the more largely and lastingly in the resulting life.

Ver.12. +So, my beloved ones+, (he often introduces his most practical appeals with this term of affection: see for example 1 Cor. x.14, xv.58; 2 Cor. vii.1,) +just as you always obeyed+[1] me, obey me now. +Not+ (me, the imperative negative) as in my presence only, influenced by that immediate contact and intercourse, +but now much more in my absence+, ("much more," as my absence throws you more directly on your resources in the Lord,) +work out+, develope, +your own salvation+, your own spiritual safety, health, and joy, +with fear and trembling+; not with the tortures of misgiving, not driven by a shrinking dread of your gracious God, but drawn by a tender reverence and solemn watchfulness, lest you should grieve the eternal Love. Yes, "work out your own salvation"; do not depend upon me; take your own souls in hand, in a faith and love which look, without the least earthly intermediation, straight to GOD and to Him alone.[2] For indeed He is near to you; far nearer than ever a Paul could be; "a very present help," for

Ver.13. your safety, and for your holiness. +For God it is who is effecting+ (energos) +in you+, in your very being, in "the first springs of thought and will," +both your+ (to) +willing and your effecting+, your carrying out the willing, +for His+ (tes) +good pleasure's sake+; in order to the accomplishment through you of all His holy purposes. Here, in this wonderful immanence, this divine indwelling, and in its living, operative power, you will find reason enough alike for the "fear and trembling" of deepest reverence, and for the calm resourceful confidence of those who can, if need be, "walk alone," as regards dependence upon even an apostolic friend beside them. Live then as those who carry about with them the very life and power of God in Christ. And what will that life be? A life of spiritual ostentation? Nay, the beautiful and

Ver.14. gentle opposite to it. +Do all things without+, apart from (choris), in a definite isolation from, +murmurings and disputes+, thoughts and utterances of discontent and self-assertion towards one another, grudgings of others' claims, and contentions for your

Ver.15. own; +so that you may become+ (genesthe), what in full realization you scarcely yet are, +unblamable and simple+ (akeraioi, "unadulterated"), single-hearted, because self-forgetting; +God's children+ (tekna), shewing what they are by the unmistakable family-likeness of holy love; +blameless+ as such, true to your character; +in the midst of a race+ (geneas) +crooked and distorted+, the members of a world whose will always crosses the will of God who is Love; +among whom you are appearing+, like stars which come out in the gloom, +as luminaries+ (phosteres), light-bearers, kindled by the Lord of Light, +in the world+; in which you dwell; not of it, but in it, walking up and down "before the sons of men" (Ps. xxxi.19), that they may see, and seek,

Ver.16. your blessed Secret; +holding out+ (epechontes[3]), as those who offer a boon for acceptance, +the word of life+, the Gospel, with its secret of eternal life in Christ; at once telling and commending His message; +to afford me+, even me (emoi), +exultation, in view of+ (eis) +Christ's Day+, in anticipation of what I shall feel then; +because not in vain did I run, nor in vain did I toil+.[4] But let me not speak of "toil" as if I sighed over a hard lot, or wished to suffer less on your behalf.

Ver.17. +Nay, even if I am being poured out as a drink-offering+ (spendomai) +on the sacrifice and ritual+ (leitourgia) +of your faith+ -- on you, so to speak, as you in faith offer yourselves a living sacrifice to God[5] -- +I rejoice, and I congratulate+ (sugchairo) +you all+, on your faith and holiness, for which it was well worth my while to die as your helper and example. +And in+

Ver.18. +the same way+ (to de auto) +do you too rejoice, and congratulate me+,[6] as true partners with me in the martyr-spirit and its joys.

Here let us pause in our paraphrasing version, and sit down as it were to gather up and weigh some of the treasures we have found.

i. We have had before us, in the whole passage, that ever-recurring lesson, Holiness in the Truth, as Truth -- "the Truth as it is in Jesus" -- is the living secret of Holiness. We have still in our ears the celestial music, infinitely sweet and full, of the great paragraph of the Incarnation, the journey of the Lord of Love from glory to glory by the way of the awful Cross. May we not now give ourselves awhile wholly to reverie, and feast upon the divine poetry at our leisure? Not so; the immediate sequel is -- that we are to be holy. We are to act in the light and wonder of so vast an act of love, in the wealth and resource of "so great salvation." We are to set spiritually to work. We are to learn that all-important lesson in religion, the holy and humble energy and independence which come to the man who "knows whom he has believed," and is aware that he possesses "all spiritual blessing" (Eph. i.3) in Him. We are to rise up and, if need be, walk alone, alone of human help, in the certainty that Christ has died for us, and reigns for us, and in us. Our Paul may be far away in some distant Rome, and we may sorely miss him. But we have at hand Jesus Christ, who "took Bondservant's Form," and obeyed even unto death for us, and who is on the eternal throne for us, and who lives within us by His Spirit. Looking upon Him in the glory of His Person and His Work, we are not only to wonder, not only even to worship; we are to work; to "work out" our spiritual blessings[7] into a life which shall be full of Him, and in which we shall indeed be "saved" ourselves, and help others around us to their salvation. In the "fear and trembling" of those who feel the blissful awfulness of an eternal Presence, we are to set ourselves, with the inexhaustible diligence of hope, to the business of the spiritual life. We are to bring all the treasures of a manifested and possessed Redeemer to bear upon the passing hour, and to let Him be seen in us, "Christ our Life," always formative and empowering.

ii. We have here in particular that deep secret of the Gospel, unspeakably precious to the soul which indeed longs to be holy -- the Indwelling of God in the believer. It here appears in close and significant connexion with the revelation of the love and work of the Incarnate and Atoning Lord; as if to remind us without more words that He who gave Himself for us did so not only to release us (blessed be His Name) from an infinite peril, from the eternal prison and death of a violated law, but yet more that He might bring His rescued ones into an unspeakable nearness in Him to God. His was no mere compassion, which could set a guilty captive free. It was eternal love, which could not be content without nearness to its object, without union with it, without a dwelling in the very heart by faith. As if it was a matter of course in the plan of God, St Paul passes from the Cross and the Glory of Jesus to the Indwelling of God in the Christian, and to all the rest and all the power which that Indwelling is to bring.

"It is God who is working in you, effecting alike your willing and your working; for the sake of His good pleasure." These are words of deep mystery. They contain matter which has exercised the closest thought of some of the greatest thinkers of the Church. Operatur in nobis velle; "He worketh in us to will." How is this to be reconciled with the reality, and in that sense the freedom, of the human will? What relation does it bear to human responsibility, and to the call to watch, and pray, and labour? Very soon, over such questions, we have, in the phrase of the Rabbis, to "teach our tongue to say, I do not know." But the words appear in this context with a purpose perfectly simple and practical, whatever be their more remote and hidden indications. They do indeed intimate to us a reality and energy in the divine sovereignty which may well correct those dreams of self-salvation which man is so ready to dream. But their more immediate purpose is as simple as it is profound. It is on the one hand to solemnize the disciple with the remembrance of such an inward Presence, and on the other hand to make him always glad and ready, recollecting that such an inward Power is there, altogether for his highest good, and altogether in the line of the eternal purpose (eudokia). For the while at least let us drop out of sight all hard questions of theoretical adjustment between the finite will and the Infinite, and rest quite simply in that thought: -- God is in me, working the willing and the doing. The willing is genuine, and is mine. The working is genuine, and is mine. My will chooses Him, and my activity labours for Him; both are real, and are personally mine. But He is at the back; He is at "the pulse of the machine"; I, His personal creature, am held in no less a hold than His, to be moulded and to be employed; His implement, His limb.

Not very long ago I was in conversation with a young but deeply thoughtful Christian, who, placed on a difficult social height, was seeking with deep desire not only to "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth" but to lead others similarly circumstanced to do the same. I was struck with the strong consciousness which possessed that heart, that the religious life must inevitably be a weary and exhausting effort on any other condition than this -- "God working in us, to will and to do." "Ah, they all say that it is so hard; no one can really do it; no one can keep it up. But we must speak to them about the indwelling Spirit of God, about the Lord's power in us; then they will find that it is possible, and is happy."

Choris emou -- "isolated from Me (John xv.5) -- ye can do nothing"; and what seems our "doing" will, in such isolation, be only too sorely felt to be a weary toil. But let us accept it as true, at the foot of the atoning Cross, that the Indwelling of God in Christ is as much a fact as our pardon and adoption in Him, and we shall know something of the blessed life. Only, we must not only accept it as true, but use it. "Work out -- for it is God who is working in you."

And, let us remember it once more, we shall learn in that quiet School not only a restful energy but also that holy independence (ten heauton soterian) which is, in its place, the priceless gain of the Christian. Our spiritual life is indeed intended to be social in its issues -- but not at its root. We accept and thankfully use every assistance given us by our Lord's care, as we live our life in His Church; yet our life, as to its source, is to be still "hidden with Christ in God." We are to be so related to Him, in faith, that our soul's health, growth, gladness, shall depend not on the presence of even a St Paul at our side, but on the presence of God in our hearts. Let us cherish this blessed certainty, and develope it into experience, in these strange days of unrest and drift. That secret independence will do anything but isolate us from our fellows. It will make us fit, as nothing else could make us, to be their strength and light, in truest sympathy, in kindest insight, in the fullest sense of loving partnership. But we must learn independence in God if we would be fully serviceable to man.

iii. We have in this passage one of the richest and most beautiful expressions found in the whole New Testament of that great principle, that at the very heart of a true life of holiness there needs to lie the law of holy kindness. The connexion of thought between ver.13 and ver.14 is deeply suggestive here. In ver.13 we have the power and wonder of the operative Indwelling of God. In ver.14 we have depicted the true conduct of the subjects of the Indwelling; and it shines with the sweet light of humility and gentleness. It is a life whose hidden power, which is nothing less than divine, comes out first and most in the absence of the grudging, self-asserting spirit; in a watchful consistency and simplicity; in the manifestation of the child-character, as the believer moves about "in the midst of" the hard and most unchildlike conditions of an unregenerate world. There is to be action as well as patience; this we shall see presently. The disciple is to be aggressive, in the right way, as well as submissive. But the first and deepest characteristic of his wonderful new life is to be the submission of himself to others, "in the Lord, and in the power of His might." We have this aspect of practical holiness presented to us often in the general teaching of the New Testament; but seldom is it so explicitly connected as it is here with that other spiritual fact, the presence in us of the divine power. Perhaps our best parallels come from the two other Epistles of the Roman Captivity, Ephesians and Colossians. In Ephesians, the third chapter closes with the astonishing prayer that the Christian (the everyday Christian, be it remembered) may be, through the Indwelling of Christ, "filled unto all the fulness of God"; and then the fourth chapter begins at once with the appeal to him to live "therefore" a life of "all lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, and forbearance in love." In Colossians we have the same sequence of thought in one noble sentence (ver.11) of the first chapter: "Strengthened with all strength, according to the might of His glory, unto all patience and longsuffering, with joy."[8] In all three passages comes out the same deep and beautiful suggestion. "The Lord is not in the wind" so much as in "the still small voice." Omnipotent Love, in its blessed immanence in the believer's soul, shews its presence and power most of all in a life of love around. It is to come out not only in self-sacrificing energy but in the open sympathies of an affectionate heart, in the "soft answer," in the generous first thought for the interests of others -- in short, in the whole character of 1 Cor. xiii. The spiritual "power" which runs rather in the direction of harshness and isolation, which expends itself rather in censures than in "longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and meekness," is not the kind of "power" which most accords with the apostolic idea. Nothing which violates the plain precepts of the law of love can take a true part in that heavenly harmony.

"On earth, as in the holy place,
Nothing is great but charity." [9]

iv. Meanwhile the "charity" of the saints is not by any means the mere amiability which makes itself pleasant to every one, and forgets the solemn fact that we who believe are the servants of a Master whom the world knows not, the messengers of a King against whom it is in revolt. The Philippian disciple was to renounce the spirit of unkindness, of self; he was to live isolated from (choris) "murmurings and disputings." But he was not to hide the sacred Light, for the sake of so-called peace, from the world around. He was to "hold out the word of life"; confessing his blessed Lord as the life of his own soul, and so commending Him to the souls of his fellows. He was to make this a part of his very existence and its activities. As truly as it was to be his habit to live a life of sweet and winning consistency, it was to be his habit to offer (epechein) the water of life to the parched hearts around him, the lamp of glory to the dark and bewildered whom he encountered upon the difficult road. The truth and beauty of a life possessed by Christ was to be the basis of his witnessing activities. But the witness was to be articulate, not merely implied; he was to "hold out the word (logon) of life"; he was to seize occasion to "give a reason (logon) of the hope that was in him, with meekness and fear" (1 Pet. iii.15). To be, in his way, an evangelist was to be one main function of his life. In benignant and gracious conduct he was to be as a "luminary" (phoster), moving calm and bright in the dark hemisphere of the world. But he was to be a voice as well as a star. He was not only to shine; he was to speak.

Here is one of the passages, by the way, in which the Apostle assumes, and stimulates, the "missionary consciousness" of the converts. It is remarkable that neither he nor his brethren have much to say in the Epistles about the duty of enterprises of evangelization, as laid upon all believers. The stress of their appeals is directed above all things on the supreme importance of holiness, at any cost, in common life. But a passage like this shews us how entirely they take it for granted all the time that the Churches would never concentrate themselves upon merely their own Christian life; they would go out continually, with the beauty of holiness and with "the word of life," to bring the wanderers in, and to extend the knowledge of the blessed Name. So, and so only, would their Apostle feel, in his prison at Rome, that his "running" (edramon) on the great circuit of his evangelistic journeys, and his pastoral "toil" (ekopiasa) for the souls of his converts, had not been thrown "into the void" (eis to kenon).

So, and so only, would his life and death of sacrifice for them be crowned with its perfect joy. Let him see his beloved converts living and speaking as indeed the Lord's witnesses, and then with what inward "gladness" (chairein), with what a call for "congratulation" (sugchairein) on their part, would he go out to death as the Lord's martyr!

[1] Upekousate: the aorist. It gathers into one thought the whole recollection of his work at Philippi.

[2] "There is not the slightest contradiction here to the profound truth of the Justification by Faith only; that is to say, only for the merit's sake of the Redeemer, appropriated by submissive trust; that justification whose sure issue is glorification (Rom. viii.30). It is an instance of independent lines converging on one goal. From one point of view, that of justifying merit, man is glorified because of Christ's work alone, applied to his case through faith alone. From another point, that of qualifying capacity, and of preparation for the Lord's individual welcome (Matt. xxv.21; Rom. ii.7), man is glorified as the issue of a process of work and training, in which in a true sense he is himself operant, though grace lies below the whole operation." (Note on this verse in The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges).

[3] It is possible to render logon xoee epechontes, "serving as life (to the world)." But it is unlikely. See Philippians in The Cambridge Greek Testament, Appendix.

[4] The aorists obviously are anticipatory; giving the review of the past as he will then make it. Cp. e.g. kathos epegnosthen, 1 Cor. xiii.12.

[5] "He views the Philippians, in their character of consecrated believers (cp. Rom. xii.1), as a holocaust to God; and upon that sacrifice the drink-offering, the outpoured wine, is his own life-blood, his martyrdom for the Gospel which he has preached to them. Cp. Num. xv.5 for the Mosaic libation, oinon eis sponden . . . poisete epi tes holokautoseos. Lightfoot thinks that a reference to pagan libations is more likely in a letter to a Gentile mission. But surely St Paul familiarized all his converts with Old Testament symbolism. And his own mind was of course full of it (Note here in The Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools). -- This and Rom. xv.16 are the only two passages where St Paul connects the language of "sacerdotalism" with the distinctive work of the Christian ministry; and both passages speak obviously in the tone of figure and, so to say, poetry.

[6] Chairete: sugchairete. The form leaves us free to render either indicative or imperative. But the latter is most likely in the context.

[7] Soteria must here include not only final glory but the whole blessing possessed now and always in the Soter.

[8] "Observe the holy paradox of the thought here. The fulness of divine power in the saints is to result primarily not in 'doing some great thing' but in enduring and forbearing, with heavenly joy of heart. The paradox points to one deep characteristic of the Gospel, which prepares the Christian for service by the way of a true abnegation of himself as his own strength and his own aim." (Note on Col. i.11 in The Cambridge Bible).

[9] A. Vinet, Hymn on the Crucifixion, translated by C. W. Moule.

"O thou who makest souls to shine
With light from brighter worlds above,
And droppest glistening dew divine
On all who seek a Saviour's love,

"Do Thou Thy benediction give
On all who teach, on all who learn,
That all Thy Church may holier live,
And every lamp more brightly burn.

* * * * *

"If thus, good Lord, Thy grace be giv'n
Our glory meets us ere we die;
Before we upward pass to heav'n
We taste our immortality."


"Puisse la meme foi qui consola leur vie
Nous ouvrir les sentiers que leurs pas ont presses, Et, dirigeant nos pieds vers la sainte patrie
Ou leur bonheur s'accroit de leurs travaux passes,
Nous rendre ces objets de tendresse et d'envie
Qui ne sont pas perdus, mais nous ont devances."




Epaphroditus -- The variety of Scripture -- Contrasts in context -- Henry Martyn's letter -- "The human element" -- "His letters I have read" -- The two aspects of Scripture -- Divine messages in human context -- "Together with them"

Ver.19. +But I hope in the Lord Jesus+, with an expectation conditioned by my union with Him in all things, and with you in Him, +promptly to send to you Timotheus,[1] that I too+, I as well as you, who will of course be gladdened by his presence, +may be of good cheer, getting+, through him, +a knowledge+ (gnous) +of your circumstances+ (ta peri humon). I send him, and not

Ver.20. another, +for I have+ -- at hand, and free to move -- +no one equal-souled+ with him,[2] +one who+ (hootis) +will genuinely take anxious care about your circumstances+; the "care" which is not a weary burthen, better cast upon the Lord (iv.6), but a sacred charge, undertaken in and for Him, and absorbing all the

Ver.21. thought. +For all of them+ (oi pantes), all from whom I could in this case select, +are bent on+ (xetousi: cp. Col. iii.1) +their own interests, not the interests of Jesus Christ+; they plead excuses which indicate a preference of their own ease, or reputation, or affections, to a matter manifestly and wholly HIS.

Ver.22. +But the test through which he+, Timotheus, +passed+ (ten dokimen autou) you remember (ginoskete, "you recognize," as you look back); you know +that as child with father+ so +he with me+, in closest companionship and sympathy, +did bondservice[3] for the Gospel+, eis to euaggelion, "unto it," for the furtherance

Ver.23. of its enterprise and message. +So him then+ (touton men oun[4]) +I hope to send, immediately upon+ (hos an . . . exautes) +my getting a view of+ (apido) +my circumstances+, my position with regard to my trial

Ver.24. and its result. +But+ (though I thus allude to external uncertainties) +I feel sure, in the Lord+, in the light of union and communion with Him, +that I too in person shall speedily arrive+, in the track of this my messenger and forerunner.

Ver.25. +But I count[5] it obligatory+ (anagkaion), and not merely a matter for hopes and personal satisfaction, +to send to you+, as I now do, in charge of this Letter, another person, +Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow-worker, and fellow-soldier+, a man who has toiled and contended at my very side for the Lord and against the Enemy, +while he is+ also +your missionary and ministrant[6] for my need+. Yes, I feel that I ought

Ver.26. to send him, and to send him now; +since he has been suffering from home-sickness for[7] all of you+, (all, without exception; his affection knows no party or partiality,) +and from the distraction+ (ademonon) of over-wrought feeling, because you have heard that he

Ver.27. fell ill[8] (esthenese). +And+ so it was; +for he did fall ill, almost fatally+ (paraplesion thanato). +But our+ (ho) +God pitied him+, sparing him the grief of broken hopes and purposes in the Lord's work on earth, and the grief of being a cause of tears to you; +and not only him but also me, that I might not have[9] sorrow upon sorrow+. For had he died, I should have had a sore bereavement, and the sad consciousness that you, in a loving effort for my benefit, had lost a beloved friend; and all this added to, heaped upon (epi c. acc.), the antecedent pain of my captivity and the trials which it involves.

Ver.28. +With the more earnestness therefore I have sent him,[10] that seeing him you may be glad again, and that I may feel less sorrow+, finding my imprisonment, and also my loss of this dear friend's company, softened to my heart by the thought of your joy in

Ver.29. welcoming him back. +Receive him therefore in the Lord+, in all the union and sympathy due to your common share in Him, +with all gladness, and+

Ver.30. +hold in high value such men as he is; because on account of Christ's work he was at death's very door,[11] playing+ as it were the +gambler with his life,[12] that he might+ (lit., "may") +supply your lack+, do the service which you could not do, and so complete your loving purposes, in regard +of the ministration+ you designed +for me+.

Our present section illustrates well the inexhaustible variety of Scripture. That pregnant Christian thinker, the late Dr John Ker, has some good sentences on this subject: "What varieties are in the Bible, side by side! The Book of Ruth, with its pastoral quiet after the wars of the Judges, like an innocent child which has crept between the ranks of hostile armies; the intense devotion of the Psalms after the speculative discussions of Job, and before the practical wisdom of Proverbs; the gloom of Ecclesiastes, and then the sweetness of the Song of Solomon, as sharply divided as the eastern morning which leaps from the night, or, as an old Greek might have said, silver-footed Thetis rising from the bed of old Tithonus; Isaiah's majestic sweep of eagle pinion, with Jeremiah's dovelike plaint; the cloudlike obscurities of Ezekiel, to be solved, as one might expect, by piercing light from the sky; and the perplexities of Daniel, to be opened by the movements of the nations."[13]

What a variety lies before us here!

"Into the heaven of heavens we have presumed,
And drawn empyreal air";

while the Apostle has told us (only fourteen verses above) how Christ Jesus, in the glory of the Throne, in the Form of God, cared for us men and for our salvation, and made Himself void, and took the creature-nature, and died; and how He is now on the Throne again in His Incarnation, to receive supreme and universal worship. And then again we came back to earth, yet so as to be led into the deep secrets of the Lord in the inner life of His saints below; "God is working in you, to will and to do, for His good pleasure's sake." And then we have seen this inner life expanding and shewing itself in the holy life without, which shines as a star in the dark, and speaks like a voice from the unseen. And then again we have watched the Apostle's martyr-joy as he thinks of dying for his Philippians, if need be. Close upon all these heights and depths now comes in this totally different passage about Timotheus and Epaphroditus, with its quiet, practical allusions to individual character, and to particular circumstances, and to personal hopes and duties; its words of sympathy and sorrow; the dear friend's agitated state of mind; his recent almost fatal illness; the mercy of his recovery; the pleasurable thought of his restoration to the loving circles at Philippi.

Nothing could be more completely different than this from the grand dogmatic passage traversed a little while before, nor again from the passages to follow in the next chapter, where the believer's inmost secrets of acceptance and of life are in view, and his foresight of glory. We are placed here not in the upper heaven, nor before the judgment-throne, nor in the light of the resurrection-morning. We are just in the "hired rooms" at Rome, and we see the Missionary seated there, studying the characters of two of his brethren, and weighing the reasons for asking them, at once or soon, to arrange for a certain journey. He reviews the case, and then he puts down, through his amanuensis, for the information of the Philippians, what he thinks of these two men, and what he has planned about them.

All is perfectly human, viewed from one side. I or my reader may at any time, in the course of life and duty, be called upon to write about Christian friends and fellow-workers of our own in a tone neither less nor more human and practical than that of this section. In any collection of modern Christian letters we may find the like. I open at this moment the precious volume of Henry Martyn's correspondence, published (1844) as a companion to the Memoir. There I read as follows, in a letter to Daniel Corrie, dated Shiraz, December 12, 1811: "Your accounts of the progress of the kingdom of God among you are truly refreshing. Tell dear H. and the men of both regiments that I salute them much in the Lord, and make mention of them in my prayers. May I continue to hear thus of their state; and if I am spared to see them again, may we make it evident that we have grown in grace. Affectionate remembrances to your sister and to S. I hope they continue to prosecute their labours of love. Remember me to the people of Cawnpore who enquire. Why have I not mentioned Colonel P.? It is not because he is not in my heart, for there is hardly a man in the world whom I love and honour more. My most Christian salutations to him. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, dearest brother. Yours affectionately, H. MARTYN."

What is the difference in quality and character between this extract and our present section of Philippians, or between it and many another passage in the Pauline Epistles? From one point of view, I repeat it, none -- none that we either can, or should care to, affirm. Of the letters compared, one is as purely human as the other, in the simplicity of its topics, in its local and personal scope, in its natural and individual manner. I would add that, so far as we can tell, the one was written under just as much or little consciousness of a supernatural prompting as the other. I feel sure that when St Paul wrote thus (whatever might be his sense of an afflatus at other times, when he wrote, or spoke, or thought, abnormally) he "felt" exactly as we feel when writing a quiet letter; he was thinking, arranging topics, choosing words, considering the needs of correspondents, just as simply as we might do.

And all this is an element inestimably precious in the structure and texture of the Bible. It is that side or aspect of the Bible which, at least to innumerable minds, brings the whole Book, in a sense so genuine, home; making it felt in the human heart as a friend truly conversant with our nature and our life. "Thy testimonies," writes the Bible-loving Psalmist (Ps. cxix.24), "are the men of my counsel," an'shey 'atsathi; a pregnant phrase, which puts vividly before us "the human element" of the blessed Word, its varieties and individualities, its living voice, or rather voices, and the sympathetic confidence which it invites as it draws close to us to advise and guide. How perfectly in contrast are the Bible on the one side, with this humanity and companionship, and such a "sacred book" as the Koran on the other, with its monotonous oracles! Strange, that the man-made "sacred book" should be so little humane and the God-made Book so deeply and beautifully so! Yet not strange, after all. For God knows man better than man knows himself; and when He prepares a Book of books for man, we may expect it to correspond to the deep insight of Him who is Maker of both the volume and the reader.

For now on the other part we have to remember that this Book, so naturally and humanly written, as to a very large proportion of its contents, is yet God-made all through. It is, in a sense quite peculiar to itself, divine. I quoted a passage from a letter of Henry Martyn's just now, on purpose to place it beside this letter of St Paul's, with a view to shewing the likeness of the two. But are they like in all respects? No; they present a radical difference from another side. It is just this, that the biblical letter is not only human as to its type and utterance; as to its message, it is authoritative, it is from God. Henry Martyn writes as a Christian man, and it helps us spiritually to be in contact with his affectionate and holy thoughts. Paul writes as a Christian man, but also as "a chosen vessel to bear the Name" of his Lord; as the messenger of the mind of Christ; as he who received "his Gospel" "not of man, nor by man, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. i.12). From his own days to these he has been known in the Church of God as the divinely commissioned prophet and teacher. Clement of Rome in the first century refers to him as having written to Corinth by divine inspiration.[14] Simon Peter, earlier than Clement, refers to Paul (2 Pet. iii.16) as the writer of "Scriptures," graphai: that solemn word, restricted in the language of Christianity to the oracles of God.

The simplest and seemingly most naturalistic passage occurring in a Pauline letter is a "Scripture"; and as such it speaks to me only not like the utterances of a Martyn but with the voice of the Lord of the Gospel. "Paul, Paul -- his letters I have read, but not always I agree with him!" So, according to the story, said a German literary visitor in an Oxford common-room, fifty years ago; the words shocked the Anglican company. Very many people think with the German now, whether or no they have really "read Paul's letters." But their thought is not that of the Church of God; and the soul that will indeed make experiment of what "Paul's letters" can be when they are read as divine, and before God, will surely find itself in harmony in this matter with the Church. It will be little disposed to take up the cry (true enough in itself), "Back to Christ," in that false sense which discredits the servant's words as if the Master was not committed to them. "If they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also."

In a passage like the present therefore we feel the two elements or aspects, the human and the divine, each real and powerful, and both working in perfect harmony. The human is there, not in the least as a necessary element of error; rather as an element of delicate and beautiful truth, the truth of justest thought and feeling. The divine is there, as the message from Christ Himself through His servant; sacred, authoritative, binding on belief, giving solid ground for the soul's repose. We study here St Paul's watchful and unselfish remembrance of the Philippians, in the case of Timothy and his mission, and still more in that of Epaphroditus. We recognize of course the actings of a noble human heart, and we are right to do so. But we find more than this; we see JESUS CHRIST informing us, in the concrete example of His servant, exactly how it behoves us, as His servants, to feel and act under our responsibilities. St Paul's thought and action is "written for our learning." True, the "learning" comes not as a mere code, or lecture. It takes the form of a living experience, recorded, in the course of correspondence, by the man who is going through it. But the man is a vehicle of revelation. He writes about himself; but his Master is behind him, and is taking care that his whole thought shall be the well-adjusted conveyance of a thought greater than his own.

As we come to the incidental details of the passage, we find the same double aspect of Scripture everywhere. St Paul speaks about people who are "seeking their own interests, and not the interests of Jesus Christ" (ver.21). He says this quite naturally, and with a reference quite local and in detail. But on the other side the words are an oracle; they convey the message of the Master of His people; they implicitly claim on His part that we shall seek not our own interests, but His. Again, quite in passing, the Apostle speaks of this or that "hope" or "trust" as being formed "in the Lord." He does so with no conscious dogmatic purpose, surely; it is because it comes as naturally to him to do it as for an ordinary correspondent to say that he hopes to do this or that "if all goes well." But in the epistolary Scripture these brief phrases have another side; they are authority and oracle; they convey the mind of Christ about our right relations with Him; they tell us, from Him, that it is His will that we too, as His, should form our hopes and plans "in Him," in conscious recollection of our being His members.

St Paul speaks again of his human sensibilities. He tells us of his sorrows, and his longings for encouragement, and his thankfulness that an aggravation of trial, "sorrow upon sorrow," has been spared him. He speaks of Epaphroditus, and of his generous carelessness of his own health and life, and of the illness he had contracted, and of his merciful recovery, and of his home-sick longing for Philippi, and of his "bewilderment" of regret as he thinks of the Philippians' anxiety about him. All this is quite as naturally and "humanly" conceived and written on St Paul's part as anything that I or my reader ever wrote about joys and griefs, our own or of our friends. But not one whit the less is this all a message, an oracle, from our Lord Jesus Christ, in a sense in which no letter of ours could possibly be such. For it is a "Scripture." And so it tells me from above that the free and loving exercise of human sympathies is entirely according to the will of God; that human tears and longings are in perfect harmony with holiness. It assures me that from one point of view it is right to speak of the prolongation of the believer's life as a "mercy," even though "to depart is to be with Christ, which is far better." It assures me, let me notice by the way, that bodily sickness is not by any means necessarily a direct result or index of sinfulness in the sufferer. There are those who think and say that it is. But this is not the view of the "chosen vessel." He sees no sin in Epaphroditus' "falling ill, nigh unto death," "drawing near, up to death." It is for him only an occasion for fresh gratitude and affection towards the sufferer, and for deep thanksgivings to Him who in His mercy has granted the recovery. All this is not only an experience, recorded with beautiful naturalness; it is a revelation, an oracle. We learn by it, as by the voice of Christ, that although "He took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses," His servants do not therefore of necessity fail in either faith or love when they suffer "in this tabernacle," and "groan, being burthened." Let them look indeed with great simplicity, in humble faith, for the healing power of their Lord, whether or not it may please Him to apply it through human agency. But do not let them think it an act of faith to dictate to Him, as it were, the necessity of their physical recovery. "If it be Thy will," is never out of place in such appeals. Faith can breathe its most absolute and restful reliance into that "If."

We close the section of Timotheus and Epaphroditus. We have given our main thought to the light which it throws upon the nature of the Scriptures, those blessed "men of our counsel." We have scarcely turned aside to think of the actual "men" of the passage; Timotheus, and his self-forgetting devotion to the Lord and to St Paul, overcoming the sensitiveness of a tender nature; Epaphroditus, at once brave and affectionate, yearning for the old friends in the old scene, restless in the thought of their trouble about him, yet ready to "throw his life down as a die" in the cause of God and of His people. But if we have said little about them, it is not that we do not love their very names, and feel our union with them.

"Once they were mourning here below";

finding then, as we find now, that the day's burthen is no dream. But we shall see them hereafter, in the mercy of God, "changed and glorified," yet the same, where there will be leisure to learn all the lessons that all the saints can teach us from their experience of the love of Jesus.

Meanwhile let us pray, with the Moravians in their beautiful Liturgy:

Keep us in everlasting fellowship with our brethren of the Church triumphant, and let us rest together in Thy presence from our labours.

[1] Timotheon is slightly emphatic by its place in the Greek; as if to say, "Though I must still be absent, he will soon be with you."

[2] Not "equal-souled with myself"; which would demand rather, in the Greek, oudena allon echo isopsychon.

[3] Possibly, "entered on bondservice," "took up the slave's life," with a reference to Timothy's earliest connexion with St Paul (Acts xvi.1-3). But the reference to the memories of Philippi is much more likely. The aorist, edouleusen, will in this case gather up into one the whole recollection.

[4] The touton is slightly emphatic by position, for St Paul is about to speak of other persons also, himself and Epaphroditus.

[5] Egesamen: I render the epistolary past by a present tense, which is the English idiom.

[6] So I render apostolon, to represent something of the sacredness attaching by usage to the word. If I read aright, we have here an instance of gentle pleasantry, quite in harmony with the gravity of the Epistle at large. He takes the Philippians' message of love and gift of bounty as a sort of gospel to himself, and so regards their messenger as a missionary to him. So also with the word leitourgos: its usual associations in New Testament Greek are sacred, or at least solemn; and so St Paul seems to employ it here. Epaphroditus was no mere agent; he was a "ministrant," commissioned from a high quarter -- the Philippians' love.

[7] epeide epidothon en: the epistolary past (en) is rendered in accordance with English idiom. Epipothon is perhaps too heavily rendered above; but the phrase is certainly a little stronger than epepothei would have been.

[8] Perhaps it was an attack of Roman fever.

[9] Ina me . . . scho: lit., "that I may not." But the English idiom asks for "might." The Greek puts the past intention into what was its present aspect.

[10] Epempsa auton: the epistolary aorist.

[11] Quite literally, "up to death he drew near." It is as if St Paul had been about to write, mechri thanatou esthense, and then varied the expression by writing eggise.

[12] Paraboleusamenos te psyche: so read, not paraboleusamenos (which would mean, "taking evil counsel for his life," neglecting its interests). Paraboleusamenos is a well-attested reading; the verb is not found elsewhere, but the form is abundantly likely. It would be developed from the adjective parabolos, "reckless," connected with the verb paraballesthai, "to cast a die."

[13] Thoughts for Heart and Life, by John Ker, D.D. (1888), p.92.

[14] See Ep. i. ad. Cor., Sec.47: "Take up the Epistle of the blessed Paul, the Apostle. . . . He wrote to you in the Spirit (pneumatikos) about himself, and Cephas, and Apollos."

"One family we dwell in Him,
One Church, above, beneath,
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.

"One army of the living God
To His command we bow;
Part of His host hath cross'd the flood,
And part is crossing now."


O Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life; Grant us perfectly to know Thy Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life; that, following the steps of Thy holy Apostles, we may stedfastly walk in the way that leadeth to eternal life; through the same Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for St Philip and St James.




Doctrinal perils at Philippi -- "Be glad in the Lord" -- The true Israel -- An ideal legalist -- Position and experience -- The spiritual power of holy joy -- Acceptance and holiness -- Atoning Cross and Risen Life

With the section just closed the Epistle reaches its middle point and already looks towards its end. We may lawfully think of St Paul as pausing here in his dictation; he returns to it after some considerable interval, with new topics, or rather with one important new topic, in his mind. Hitherto, if we have read him aright, we have seen him occupied, from one side or another, with the thought of Christian Unity at Philippi. That thought has been either explicitly developed, as in the close of the first chapter, and in the opening of the second, and again in the passage embracing ii.14-16; or it has been rather implied than expounded. The Apostle's assurances of love and prayer have been often worded so as to suggest it. The grand passage of doctrine, ii.5-11, has been occasioned directly by it, and is made to bear immediately upon it; the Lord's wonderful self-abnegation (if the word may be tolerated) is revealed and asserted there, not in an isolated way, but as it speaks to the believer of the spirit which should animate him, and which will preclude jealousies and separations as nothing else can. And even the paragraph where Timotheus and Epaphroditus are before us is tinged with the same feeling; what the Apostle says about both these dear friends is so said as to unite the sympathies of the Philippians.

But he has more to speak of than this sacred call to union of spirit and of life in Christ. We gather that Epaphroditus, talking over the condition of the Mission with his leader, had alluded to the presence there of serious doctrinal perils, which must ultimately affect Christian holiness. That ubiquitous difficulty, the propaganda of anti-Pauline Christian Judaism, had come on the scene, or was just coming. The teachers who affirmed, or insinuated, that Jesus Christ could be reached only through the ceremonial law, were now to be reckoned with. The converts were disturbed, or soon might be disturbed, by being told that proselytism to Moses, sealed by circumcision, was a sine qua non in order to a valid hope of salvation through the Gospel; that the man awakened from his paganism must be at least something of a Jew to be anything of a Christian; that the door was not absolutely open between the sinner's soul and the Saviour, to be passed through by the one step of a living trust in the Promise.

Let us remember that assertions like these, which to Christians now may seem obviously futile, by no means necessarily seemed so then. Then, much more than now, pagan enquirers after JESUS would be sure to be conscious that the true salvation offered was, in one sense, emphatically a Jewish salvation. It was the message which told of the life and death, the person and work, of One who was, "after the flesh," a Jew. It was the announcement that the long hope of Israel was fulfilled in Him. Its terminology was full of words and ideas altogether Jewish. And its messengers -- above all, for the Philippians, St Paul -- were Jews, of unmistakable nationality, training, and (doubtless) appearance. On a first view, on a hasty and shallow view certainly, it may have seemed a quite natural incident in such a message when some of its propagandists asserted that to reach this Hebrew Deliverer and King the enquirer must form a connexion in religion which should be definitely Hebrew.

It is conceivable that even yet, in the history of the Church, this phase of error may in some form assert itself again. We look in the future, it may be in the near future, for the keeping to the old Israel of promises which have never been revoked. We believe that Rom. xi. shall yet find its fulfilment, and that the "receiving of them again shall be life from the dead" to the world. In that great period of blessing, the work of missions may (shall we not say, probably will?) be very largely taken up by Hebrew Christians. And if any of these, like some of their predecessors of the first age, should have only a distorted view of the Gospel of Christ, their intense national character may tell not a little on the form of their message. But this is by the way. All that is really before us here is the fact that -- not the open hostility of unconverted Jews but -- the sidelong counter-action of Judaistic Christians was threatening Philippi, and must be met by the Apostle.

Nor was this, if we explain rightly the close of ch. iii., the only such danger in the air. The antinomian traitor was also within the gates. There were those who could assert that the Gospel, the Pauline Gospel, the wonderful message of Justification by Faith only, and of a life lived in the Spirit as its sequel, was the very truth they held and rejoiced in; but they taught it so as to reason from it that practical holiness did not matter; the justified, the accepted, the man of the Spirit, lived in a transcendental religious region; he was not to be bound in conduct by common rules. Was he not in grace? And was not grace the antithesis of works? Was not grace, before everything else, the condonation of sin? And the more it did that work, was it not the more glorious? "Shall we not continue in sin then, that grace may abound?" What does it signify, though the perishable and burthensome body defiles itself? The emancipated spirit of the "spiritual" man lives on another plane; the sensual and the mystical elements may approach, may run parallel, but can never meet. The body may sin; the spirit must be pure -- if only the man is in grace.

Such assuredly were some of the conditions of error and evil to be considered when on that far-off day, in his Roman chamber, St Paul turned his soul again to Philippi, and asked his scribe to write. There is a solemn comfort in the thought. In our days of trial, when again and again it is as it "the foundations were destroyed," it is something to remember the awful mental and moral trials of the apostolic age. It was indeed an "age of faith"; but, as the other side of that very fact, it was an age of clouds and darkness, from the point not of "faith" but of "sight." It had a glorious answer to the tremendous questions that beset it. But that answer was not human reasoning, or material successes; it was the Lord Jesus Christ. And so it is for us to-day.

But now St Paul is at work; let us listen, and we shall hear how promptly he brings that answer to bear in his letter to Philippi.[1]

Ver.1. For the rest (to loipon), my brethren, to turn now to another topic, as I draw towards an end, let me give you this comprehensive watchword +Be glad in the Lord+.[2] +To write the same things to you+, to reiterate that one thought, that CHRIST is our glory and our joy, "+to me not irksome, it is safe for you+."[3] Safe, because there are spiritual dangers around you from which this will be the best preservative; false teachings which can only be fully met with the gladness of the truth of Christ. +Beware of+,

Ver.2. keep your eyes open upon (blepete), +the "dogs,"+ the men who would excommunicate all who hold not with their half-Christian Pharisaism and its legal burthens, but who are themselves thus self-excluded from the covenant blessing. +Beware of the evil workmen+, the teachers whose watchword is "works, works, works," a weary round of observances and would-be merits, but who are sorry work-men indeed, spoiling the whole structure of "Heaven's easy, artless, unencumber'd plan." +Beware of the concision+, the apostles of a mere physical wounding, which, as enjoined according to their principles, is nothing better than a mutilation (katatome), a parody of what circumcision was meant to be, as the sacrament of a preparatory dispensation now terminated in its

Ver.3. fulfilment. +For+ not they but +we are the circumcision+, the true Israel of the true covenant, sealed and purified by our God; +we who by God's Spirit worship+,[4] doing priestly service in a spiritual temple[5] in a life, love, and power, which is ours by the presence in us of the Holy Ghost, the promise of the Father; +and who exult+, not in tribal, national, ceremonial prerogatives, but +in Christ Jesus+, our refuge and our crown, our righteousness and glory, with an exultation infinitely warmer than the legalist's can be, and meanwhile pure, for its source is altogether not ourselves; +and who+, in Him, +not in the flesh+,[6] not in self and its workings, +are confident+ (for confident we are, but it is a "confidence in self-despair," the confidence of those who have been driven by self-discovery to Christ alone).[7] I speak with a general reference, of all true disciples; but let me instance myself as a case peculiarly in point. I speak thus,

Ver.4. +though having+ (echon), I, myself (ego), from their view-point, +confidence even in flesh+. +Whoever else thinks of confiding in flesh+, of building a legal standing-place on his privilege and merit, +I+ may do so +more+ than he; for I have reached the ne plus ultra in that

Ver.5. direction. +As for circumcision+,[8] I was an +eight-day+ child; no proselyte, operated upon in later life, but a son of the Covenant; descended +from Israel's race+, one of the progeny of him who was a prince with God (Gen. xxxii.28); +of Benjamin's tribe+, the tribe which gave the first God-chosen king to the nation, and which remained "faithful among the faithless" to the house of David at a later day; +Hebrew+ offspring +of Hebrew ancestors+,[9] child of a home in which, immemorially, the old manners and the old speech were cherished; in respect of the law,[10] a Pharisee -- the votary of religious precision, elaborate devotion, exclusive privilege, and energetic prose-

Ver.6, lytism; +in respect of zeal+, intense and perfectly sincere, +persecuting the Church; in respect of the righteousness which+ resides +in the Law+, as its terms are understood by the Pharisee, +found+ (genomenos) +blameless+.[11] Such was my position. I possessed an ideal pedigree; full sacramental position from the first; domestic traditions pure and strict; an absolute personal devotion to the cause of my creed; the most rigorous observance of its rules; the most energetic

Ver.7. efforts to maintain and extend its power. +But the kind of things which+ (hatina) +I felt+ (moi en) so many gains,[12] these things I have come to consider (hegemai, perfect), +because of our+ (ton) +Christ+ (discovered at last in His glory, as the slain and risen Jesus), just one +loss+, one +deprivation+; not merely a worthless thing, but a ruinous one; a robbery of the true Blessing

Ver.8. from my soul. +Aye more, I actually+ (kai) now +consider all things+, from all points of view, all possessions, all ambitions, +to be+ similarly +loss+, deprivation, +because of the surpassingness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord+, because of the immeasurable betterness of a spirit-sight of what HE is, in Himself, and as my own; +because of whom+ -- on account of what He now was to me -- +I suffered deprivation+ (exemiothen) +of my all+ (ta panta), in the crisis of my change; +and I consider it+ only +refuse+,[13] rubbish, that +I may gain+[14] (in a blessed exchange of profit against loss, the loss of what I thought my "gains") +Christ+, nothing less than HIM, my boundless Wealth (ploutos

Ver.9. anexichniaston, Eph. iii.8), +and be found+, at any and every "time of finding" (Ps. xxxii.7, Heb.) by the Holy One, +in Him+, one with Him, in His precious merits and in His risen life, but now especially in His merits; +not having a righteousness of my own, that derived from the Law+, a title to acceptance drawn from my own supposed perfect correspondence to the Law, +but that which+ comes +through faith in[15] Christ+, through reliance wholly reposed in Him, +the righteousness which is derived+ not from the Law but +from God+, coming wholly out of His uncaused and sacred mercy, +on terms of our (te) faith+, conditioned[15]

Ver.10. to us by simply our accepting reliance; +in order to know Him+, HIM, my Lord, with an intuition possible only to the soul which accepts Him for its All; +and the power of His Resurrection+, as that Resurrection assures His people of their justification (Rom. iv.24, 25), and of their coming glory (1 Cor. xv.20), and yet more as He, by His life-giving Spirit, shed forth from Him the risen Head, lives His "indissoluble life" (Heb. vii.16) in His members; and +the partnership of His sufferings+, that deep experience of union with Him which comes through daily "taking up the cross," in His steps, for His sake, and in His strength; growing into conformity (summorthi-xomenos, a present participle) +with His Death+, drawn evermore into spiritual harmony with Him who wrought my salvation out by an ineffable surrender

Ver.11. of Himself to suffer; if +somehow I may arrive+, along the appointed path of the believer's obedience, +at the resurrection which is out from the dead+ (ten exanastasin ten ex nekron: so read); "that blessed hope" for all who sleep in Him, when their whole existence, redeemed and perfected, shall leave the world of "the dead" behind for ever.

Here is a piece of consecutive rendering and paraphrase longer than usual. And meanwhile the passage before us is one of extraordinary fulness and richness, alike in its record of experience and its teaching of eternal truths. But it seemed impossible to break into fragments the glorious wholeness of the Apostle's thought and utterance. And then, the utterance is so rich, so detailed, so explanatory of itself, that I could not but feel that, for very much of it at least, my best commentary was the closest rendering I could offer, with a few brief suggestions by the way.

Drawing now to a close, I can only indicate, under one or two headings, some main messages to the mind and soul.

i. I gather from the connexion of the passage, as we have traced it, the supreme importance of a true joy in the Lord, a true personal sight of "the King in His beauty," in order to our spiritual orthodoxy. Let me quote again from the Prayer Book of the Moravians, from which I gave one short extract in the last chapter. In their "Church Litany," among the first suffrages, occur these petitions: "From coldness to Thy merits and death. From error and misunderstanding, From the loss of our glory in Thee, Preserve us, gracious Lord and God." The words are the very soul of St Paul, as it conveys the Spirit's oracle to us here. St Paul dreads exceedingly for the Philippians the incursion of "error and misunderstanding"; the advent of a mechanical rigorism of rule and ordinance, and (as we shall see in later pages) the subtle poison also of the specious antinomian lie. How does he apply the antidote? In the form of an appeal to them to be sure to not to "lose their glory in the Lord"; and then he writes a record of his own experience in which he shews them how his own Pharisaic treasures had all been cast away, or willingly given up to the spoiler; and why? Not for abstract reasons, but "because of the surpassingness of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord"; because of the irresistible and infinite betterness of His discovered glory, seen in the atoning Cross and the Resurrection power.

Let us "arm ourselves likewise with the same mind." We have countless perils about us in our modern Christendom, things which only too easily can trouble the reason and sway the will away from the one "hope set before us." Let us meet them, whatever else we do, with the Moravians' prayer. Let us meet them with obedience to the Apostle's positive injunction, "Rejoice in the Lord."

ii. The passage bids us remember the profound connexion between a true "knowledge" of the Lord Jesus as our Atonement and a true "knowledge" of Him as our Life and Power. Both are here. In ver.9, so it seems to me, any unprejudiced reader of St Paul's writings must see language akin to those great passages of Romans and Galatians which put before us the supreme question of our Justification, and which send us for our whole hope of Acceptance before the eternal Judge, whose law we have broken, to the Atoning Death of our Lord Jesus Christ. In those passages, demonstrably as I venture to think, the word "Righteousness" is largely used as a short term for the Holy One's righteous way of accepting us sinners for the sake of the Sinless One, who, in our nature, was "made a curse for us," "made sin for us," "delivered for our offences," "set forth for a propitiation," that we might be "justified from all things" in our union with Him by faith. If so, this is the purport of similar phrases here also. St Paul is thinking here first of the discovered glory of Christ as the propitiation for his sins, his peace with God, his refuge and his rest for ever against the accuser and the curse. That comes first, profoundly first.

But then we have also here the sequel truth, the glorious complement. Here is Acceptance, wholly for Jesus Christ's most blessed sake. But this is but the divine condition to another divine and transcendent blessing; it is revealed as the way in to a knowledge of this Lord of Peace, a deep and unspeakable knowledge of Him, such as shall infuse into His disciple the power of His Risen Life, and the secret of an inward assimilation of the soul to the very principle of His Death, and shall be the path whose end shall be His glory.

St Paul here bids us never put asunder what God hath joined together. "Never further than the Cross, never higher than Thy feet"; there may we be "found," "in Him"; unshaken by surrounding mysteries, and meekly resolute against fashions of opinion. Let us be recognized for those who truly know for themselves, and truly commend to others, that blessed "Justification by Faith" which is still, as ever, the Beautiful Gate of the Gospel.

"'Tis joy enough, my All in All,
Before Thy feet to lie;
Thou wilt not let me lower fall,
And who can higher fly?"

But then let us be known as those who, accepting Christ Jesus as our All for peace, (whatever we may have to "consider to be loss" that we may do so,) have clasped Him also as our Hidden Life, our Risen Power, our King within.

"O Jesus Christ, grow Thou in me,
And all things else recede;
My heart be daily nearer Thee,
From sin be daily freed." [17]

Always at the atoning Cross; -- yes, every day and hour; "knowing no other stand" before the face of the Holy One. Always receiving there the Risen Life, the presence inwardly of the Risen One, the secret power to suffer and to serve in peace; -- yes, for ever yes; "to the praise of the glory of His grace."

So, and only so, shall we live the life of real sinners really saved; "worshipping by the Spirit of God, exulting in Christ Jesus, and confident, but not in the flesh."

[1] The reader may be aware that Bishop Lightfoot's theory of the connexion of thought at the beginning of ch. iii. is different from that advocated here. He thinks that St Paul dictated on continuously till the close of iii.1, and was interrupted there, and then began de novo with iii.2, entirely on another line. In this view, the words about "writing the same things unto you" refer still to Christian unity, on which St Paul was going to dilate further, but a sudden pause occurred, and the theme was dropped. With reverence for the great expositor, I cannot but think this unlikely. It assumes that St Paul was curiously indifferent to the sequence of thought in an important apostolic message, which assuredly he would read over again before it was actually sent. A theory which fairly explains the passage, and meanwhile avoids the thought of such indifference, seems to me far preferable.

[2] The words obviously may be rendered, "Farewell in the Lord"; and so some take them, explaining that St Paul was intending to close immediately, and so wrote his "Adieu" here; but then changed his plan. This is very unlikely however. See below, iv.4: Chairete en Kurio pantote. The "always" there scarcely suits a formula of farewell, while it perfectly suits an injunction to be glad. And that passage is the obvious echo of this. -- A.V. and R.V. both render "rejoice," though R.V. writes "or, farewell" in the margin. St Chrysostom in his comments here explains the passage as referring to the Christian's joy (chara). The ancient Latin versions render Gaudete (not valete) in Domino.

[3] I thus render rhythmically the rhythmical Greek (it is an iambic trimeter): emoi men ouk okneron, humin d asphales. It is probable that the words are a quotation from a Greek poet, perhaps a "comic" poet; the "comedies" being full of neatly expressed reflexions. For such a quotation, probably from the "comedian" Menander, see 1 Cor. xv.33: phtheirousin ethe chresth homiliai kakai: "Ill converse cankers fair morality."

[4] The reading pneumati Theou (not Theo) latreuontes is to be preferred.

[5] Datreuien means first to do servants' work, then to do religious "service" (so almost always in LXX. and N.T.) and sometimes specially priestly duty (see e.g. Heb. xiii.10). This latter may be in view here: we Christians, born anew of the Spirit, are the true priests, and we little need to be made Jewish proselytes first.

[6] The sarx in St Paul is very fairly represented by the word "self" as used popularly in religious language. It is man taken as apart from God, and so man versus God; then by transition it may mean, as here, the products of such a source, the labours of the self-life to construct a self-righteousness. It is hardly necessary to say that, in such contexts as this, where it stands more or less distinguished from the pneuma, it is not a synonym for "the body." Sins of "the flesh" may be sins purely of the mind, as e.g. "emulation" (Gal. v.20).

[7] I thus attempt to convey the emphasis of the words ouk en sarki pepoithotes, which is not precisely as if he had written en sarki.

[8] Peritoue: a dative of reference, a frequent construction with St Paul. See Rom. xii.10-12 for several examples together.

[9] See Trench, Synonyms, Sec. xxxix., for the special meanings of Israelites, the member of the Covenant-people; Ebraios, the Jew who was true to his inmost national traditions; and Ioudaios, the Jew merely as other than the Gentile.

[10] The article is absent; but context leaves no doubt of the special reference here.

[11] In solemn contrast but with perfect consistency, from another point of view -- that not of the Pharisee but of GOD -- he can point out elsewhere that "no flesh" can possibly claim "righteousness" on the ground of fulfilment of code and precept. See especially Rom. iii.19, 20. But his business here is to meet the legalist on the legalist's own ground.

[12] Notice the plural; as if, miser-like, he had counted his bags of treasure. And then see the contrasted singular, Xemian: he finds them all one mass of loss.

[13] Skubala: the Greek etymologists derived the word from kusi balein, "to cast to dogs." Otherwise it is traced to a connexion with skor, "excrement."

[14] Practically, he means "that I might gain," in the past transaction of conversion and surrender. He thinks the past over again.

[15] Lit., "faith of," pisteos Christou. This use of the genitive with pistis, to denote its object, is frequent. Cp. e.g. Mark xi.22; Gal. ii.16, 20.

[16] Even as the benefit of food is conditioned to us by our (not buying but) eating it.

[17] See the whole hymn (rendered from Lavater's O Jesu Christe, wachs in mir) in Hymns of Consecration, 295.

"We will dwell on Calvary's mountain
Where the flocks of Zion feed,
Oft resorting to that fountain
Open'd when our Lord did bleed;
Thence deriving
Grace, and life, and holiness."
From the Moravian Hymn-book.


"I want that adorning divine
Thou only, my God, can'st bestow;
I want in those beautiful garments to shine
Which distinguish Thy household below.

"I want, as a traveller, to haste
Straight onward, nor pause on my way,
Nor forethought nor anxious contrivance to waste
On the tent only pitch'd for a day.

"I want -- and this sums up my prayer --
To glorify Thee till I die,
Then calmly to yield up my soul to Thy care,
And breathe out, in faith, my last sigh."

chapter iii the apostles position
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