William Kelly Major Works Commentary
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.Philippians Chapter 4
The main truth which was in the mind of the Apostle, and which the Lord was using him to lay upon the hearts of the Philippian saints, was now clearly expressed and enforced. The rest of the epistle, this last chapter, consists rather in the connected exhortations and practical use to which it was turned for present profit. Indeed it may have been noticed that, throughout, this epistle is eminently practical. Every whit of it has an immediate and important bearing upon the communion and walk of the saint of God. Of course in a general way there is no truth which is not meant to deal with the heart and walk in some way or another; yet I do not hesitate to say that this epistle is remarkable for nothing more than for its being the personal experience of the Apostle himself seeking to raise the experience of the saints at Philippi to the same measure, yea, according to the standard of Christ Himself. Accordingly, having shown us Christ fully, both as an example here below and as a motive in heaven (the earthly example being specially given in Phil. 2, and the heavenly motive in Phil. 3) now comes the practical object to which it is applied.
"Therefore," says he, "my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and my crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." It is evident that the spiritual affections of the Apostle were deeply moved. Brotherly love was flowing out powerfully, and not the less because he had been occupied with Christ, with the deep feeling of what Christ had been and is, and with the joyous anticipation of that which the saints are destined to be when they see Him coming from heaven in the fullness of His grace and power, changing even their very bodies of humiliation that they may be fashioned like unto His glorious body. Salvation being only then and there complete, he bids them "so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." And so much the more because it would appear that there were some among them who were at variance one with another.
Things were working there which separated in the way of affection, or at least, in the service of the Lord, those who had been engaged in it from earliest days. And this may be found where there is nothing at work of a scandalous character, because the very ardour and zeal of the servant of God may easily carry him, if there be not adequate occupation with Christ, into danger; even service ensnares and imperils where it becomes an object instead of Christ. It would appear that such was the case with some active saints at Philippi. "I beseech Euodia, and I beseech Syntyche that they be of the same mind in the Lord; yea, I entreat thee also true yoke-fellow, help them [i.e., these women just named], seeing that they contended with me in the gospel, with Clement also and the rest of my fellow-labourers whose names are in the book of life."
Now, it is plain that there are two things which the Apostle here presses. First is the great importance of having the same mind not only in the Lord but also in the work of the Lord. The danger is of having some aim or way of our own in that holy occupation. The Lord is assuredly jealous over those whom He employs, and He works continually to preserve each servant in the immediate sense of his own responsibility to Himself. No one need fear that this would interfere with mutual respect or hinder the outflow of divine affection linking together the various servants of God. Man would think so because he must judge from his own selfish heart. It is the flesh that seeks its own things; while the Spirit of Christ, whatever may be its holy judgment of evil, is never selfish. It is the grossest mistake to suppose that where the heart is brought to estimate all things according to God, you bring in an element of division between brethren; not this, but the indulgence of flesh opens the door to strife and schism.
Supposing a child of God who has gone astray, what is it that separates him from his brethren? Nothing but the evil that has been indulged in. The Holy Ghost acts in the man's soul; now he feels, confesses, and separates from that which is fleshly. At once the balance is restored and you are more united in love with that erring soul than, perhaps, you ever were before. Up to that time there may have been much which hindered fellowship. The irritability of spirit, the censoriousness, the vanity, the self-confidence broke out too often in the very service and worship of God - all this had previously produced many an anxious feeling for spiritual minds, and this just because there was real love to his soul. The consequence was so far that which separated, not in outward walk, but in fellowship of heart; whereas the moment there was the genuine action of the Holy Spirit of God - sin having actually, perhaps, broken out because of nature not being judged and the separation having become complete - the moment the evil is dealt with even in the man's spirit, and he owns frankly that he has sinned against the Lord, your heart is knit to him and you have a confidence in him which may never have existed before.
The notion is false, therefore, that serious judgment of evil is what divides between brethren. On the contrary, it is evil (not separation from it) which sows discord or makes separation necessary among brethren. Gracious separation from evil knits the hearts of those who are true with the Lord. It is holiness in fact. Apart from sin there is the enjoyment of God Himself and of His good and acceptable will. In this world holiness implies the judgment of evil and separation from it in heart and practice, as far as we are concerned. The cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is that which gathers the children of God on the ground that all their evil has been judged there and separated from them forever by His death.
No matter how you look at it, in every case it is evil that divides, and it is the judgment of evil that unites hearts, in an evil world according to God. Any unity of the children of God would be a positive sin against Him if it were not founded upon separation from evil. Having referred to the broad and fundamental principle of separation from evil, which will be found to be eminently practical, we may turn now to see its application to the matter before us.
At Philippi there rose before the Apostle's heart godly persons there at work; but work is not always Christ and may be division. The tendency is not uncommon to disparage what another is found doing, and to exalt ourselves in what we know to be our own line of things. This tends to break up happy fellowship of heart; and, where there is anything of a spiritual atmosphere, these things are deeply felt. Among the Corinthians this was but a small thing compared with the grosser evils that were active in their midst; but at Philippi where the state was comparatively healthy and blessed, where also the spirit of obedience reigned as we know, the lack of harmony from whatever cause it may have sprung becomes of importance; and the variance therefore of these two sisters is pressed home by the Spirit of God, but not before ample comfort had been ministered, which would encourage their hearts to look to Christ.
How tender, and withal how personal, is the appeal to each of these Christian women! "I exhort Euodia and I exhort Syntyche that they be of the same mind in the Lord." He begins with the Lord, not with the service, though the variance may have grown up in its course. He calls on them one by one (for one might hear if not the other) to be of the same mind in the Lord. Depend upon it that, where the Lord occupies us, differences soon dwindle. Having each the eye fixed upon the Lord, there is found a common object of attraction, and thus the enemy's hope of producing alienation is defeated at once.
He adds a request also to his true yokefellow. I suppose the reference is to Epaphroditus, of whom he had spoken with ardent affection in Philippians 2. "Yoke" in Scripture is a badge of union or of subjection, as the case may be, in service. Thus, in 2 Corinthians 6, the believer is told not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Many narrow that scripture to the natural relationship of marriage. But though the marriage tie between believers and unbelievers is evidently not according to God, yet I doubt that there is any particular allusion to it in that scripture. The object there of the Spirit of God is to take up the commixture of the believer with the unbeliever in the service and worship of God. The Apostle brings forward the temple of God as well as individual matters, and shows that we are not to have fellowship corporately any more than individually with unbelievers. I only refer to it now because it is often put aside from the consciences of the children of God through the mistaken habit of referring it to marriage; whereas, it is plain on the face of it that the direction the Holy Ghost gives would not strictly apply to marriage.
Bad as it is for a believer to marry an unbeliever, God does not even then say, Come out from the relationship; leave your wife; part from your husband. Apply it to its legitimate object (that is, fellowship with unbelievers in the things of God), and then you have a maxim of deep and urgent importance. I am not to unite with the world in any one thing that concerns the service and worship of God. This is the true meaning of being unequally yoked. "Come out and be separate" is then the special word that applies to any such unholy alliance.
This makes all plain, when men ask if we are not to do anything for the world. If there is sorrow and want, am I not to help sufferers? Surely if there be a peculiar duty to the household of faith, I am also bound to do good unto all men; but there is no yoking together with others outside Christ in this, and no communion. The worldly man gives because he is generous, or feels for the need of the person, or is expected to give. The child of God does it because it is the will of God. The one acts on the ground of nature, the other in faith. Even in the most ordinary necessary acts, as eating and drinking, I may and ought to do it all to God's glory.
Suppose a man drowning, or a house on fire, there is a claim of course on any man; but to use the help that a servant of God might render on such occasions, as a reason for joining the world with the saint in the service of God, is to deceive or be deceived - it may be, willingly. I have no hesitation in saying that to put an unbeliever on the ground of joining in prayers and hymns and taking the Lord's supper, to sanction his joining with you in such services, is as far as you can to damage if not destroy his soul. No believer would act thus without an object other than Christ. What the Holy Ghost seeks for the unregenerate soul is to convince him of his ruin; but, if yoked with you in God's work or temple, you are cheating him (or he you) into a false ground. You thus far treat him as an acceptable worshipper and make him think that he is doing God's service as truly, though perhaps not so well, as yourself. This is as contrary to holiness as to love, equally opposed to God's glory and man's good.
Were these godly, energetic women now apart in spirit? He not only exhorts each separately, but asks Epaphroditus as I suppose, the true yokefellow of the Apostle, to help them. For these women had shared the Apostle's sufferings in the gospel when it entered Philippi. It is not, "And entreat thee," as in the English version or the commonly received text; nor is it, "Yea and," etc. The best authorities omit "and" altogether, which was a corruption of "yea." For the Apostle is continuing in verse 3 the same thought as in verse 2, and is urging his dear and true yokefellow at Philippi to succour those previously named women (not others, as the ordinary rendering might convey), "the which" (haitines) or "since they" contended with him in the gospel. It is not said that they preached; there is no reference to public service here.
There is a great difference between preaching the gospel and sharing the contentions of the gospel. Even a man might have laboured diligently and never have preached in his life; and there might be some striving every day in the gospel as diligently, or more so even, than those who preached it every day. There is beautiful choice in the language of the Holy Ghost. We all ought to know that the New Testament puts the Christian woman in the place of exceeding blessedness, removing every thought that would give her an inferior place in Christ; but it puts her also at the same time in the background, wherever it is a case of public action. Here officially, so to speak, the man is called to be uncovered, the woman to be veiled. She is thus, as it were, put behind the man; whereas, when you speak of our privileges in Christ, there is neither male nor female. It is of importance to see where there is no difference and where there is.
The first epistle to the Corinthians is most plain that the head of the woman is the man; and as Christ is the glory of the man, so the man is the glory of the woman. We find there the administrative difference between the man and the woman. When you come to the heavenly privileges we have in Christ, all these distinctions disappear. There is no public action that I know in the world or in the Church allotted to the Christian woman. As to private dealing with souls, the case is different. In their father's house, the four daughters of Philip may have prophesied. They were evidently highly gifted women; for it is not said of them that they laboured in the gospel, but that they prophesied - one of the highest forms of gift from Christ. At the same time the Holy Spirit, who tells us that a woman might and did prophesy as a fact, instructs us that it is forbidden to a woman to speak in the Church where prophesying properly had its course. But there a woman was forbidden to speak, not even allowed to ask a question, much less to give an answer. Yet as to the private scene, at home, even with an Apollos, a woman might fitly act; that is, if she acted under and with her husband. Priscilla might be of more spiritual weight than Aquilla; but this very thing would lead her to be the more careful to take an unobtrusive lowly place. The yokefellow of the Apostle seems to have been somewhat timid of helping these women. The Apostle, accordingly, entreats him also as he had exhorted him. "Help those women in that they contended with me in the gospel." They were not putting themselves forward in an unseemly public sort, but they had shared the early trials of the gospel with the Apostle Paul.
At Corinth the women assumed much, and the Apostle manifests his sense of it by the reproachful demand, if the Word of God came out from them, or if it came to them only (1 Corinthians 14:36). Thus, and not only thus, had they quite slipped aside from that which prevailed in the churches of the saints. No doubt they reasoned that, if women had gifts, why should they not exercise them in all places? But He who gives the gift is alone entitled to say when, how, and by whom it is to be exercised. At Philippi where there was an obedient spirit, there might have been too great reluctance to meddle with these otherwise estimable women who were estranged from each other. The Apostle bids Epaphroditus to render his help. "Help them who are such as contended with me in the gospel." He gives them special praise. They strove for and with him in the work. He joins himself with those persons whom his yokefellow may have been rather afraid of. He joins them also with Clement and other fellow labourers. What tenderness in touching the case! He encourages the fellowship in the service of the gospel not only with faithful men, but with women whose faithfulness was not forgotten because there were painful hindrances just now.
But now, leaving the question of variance among them, he returns to his topic of exceeding joy. He had been encouraging one who had his sympathy and confidence to help these women. He now calls on all to rejoice in the Lord alway. If he touched on these sorrows, let them not suppose that he wanted to dampen their joy; on the contrary, "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice." This, let me repeat, is an important thing practically. It is a total mistake when we allow difficulties or differences among the saints of God to hinder our perfect delight in the Lord. Do we desire the glory of Christ among those who are His? I must always maintain that glory in my own soul if I am to be a witness to Christ among others. Is the Lord's love affected or at least enfeebled by these passing circumstances? Is His glory less bright because some shades of self have betrayed themselves over the brow of His saints? Surely not. Thus he turns to the keynote of the epistle, that joy in the Lord of which he had been speaking as his own portion now, and by-and-by in chapters 1 and 2, and that to which they were called in chapter 3 and again in chapter 4.
Is it not a sorrow to think where Christians have got to in this respect - how this answer of heart to Christ has faded away from the hearts of so many; how even the assembling together to remember Christ in His supper does not always awaken fullness of joy, but often an uneasy feeling and most painful shrinking back from His table as if it concealed some hidden danger, some lion in the way, instead of Jesus my Saviour and Lord, who loved me and gave Himself for me? What humiliation of spirit ought to be ours as we think of all that thus dishonours the name of Christ. But does God intend that even this should hinder our joy? In no wise. Let the ruined state of God's people be in Israel or in the Church, those who felt it most invariably enjoyed the greatest nearness to Himself and most of all entered into His own joy, while at the same time they mourned the more over the shortcomings of those bearing His name. The two things go together. Show me hearts which, though godly, are not happy; hearts over-occupied with the circumstances of the Church, constantly talking about the evil and low condition here and there; and you will never show me souls that deeply enjoy the Lord and His grace; whereas in the person who really enjoys the Lord and has the consciousness of what Christ and the Church of God are in Christ and should be in the power of the Spirit now, who therefore best estimates what Christendom has become, there will be the two things harmonized - the heart resting upon Christ, dwelling in His love; while, at the same time, man's weakness and Satan's malice in ruining all can be rightly judged. These two things we have to cultivate.
"Let your moderation [mildness] be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful [anxious] about nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." vv. 5, 6. To prayer is added thanksgiving, because the Lord is entitled to it. The heart should not forget what a God we are making our requests to. In the confidence of this let us thank Him, even when we are spreading our wants before Him. But he had said before this, "Let your moderation be known unto all men." Supposing there is someone who has seen us a little off our balance in standing upon our rights, real or imaginary, something which contradicted the gentleness of Christ, ought we not to feel humbled, and take an early opportunity to wipe off what may have given a false impression to that man's soul? God would have our readiness to yield, not resist, known, and this not sometimes or to some persons, but to all men. By moderation the Apostle means that spirit of meekness which can only be where the will is not allowed to work actively for that which we may desire. And what a reason why we need not be anxious to assert a claim, even when we are right! "The Lord is at hand." Where there is the happy feeling in the soul that one is doing that which pleases God, there is generally the readiness of trust in the Lord that puts aside anxiety and leaves all in His hands. Besides, He is coming soon.
He will bring out everything that is according to Himself. He will bless every desire wherever there may have been a true testimony for Himself. He will give effect to it in that day. "The Lord is at hand." He is not come yet, but you can go to Him now and lay all your requests before Him, assured that He is near, that He is coming. And what is the result? "The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." v. 7. When the heart commits to God all that would be a burden to it, the consequence is that His peace, the peace in which He moves and lives, guards us from the entrance of all that would harass. The sources of care are cast into the Lord's lap, and the peace of God Himself, which surpasses every understanding, becomes our protection.
Wherever we have grace to spread before God what would have tried us (had we thought of it and kept it before our spirits), there is infallibly His own peace as the answer of God to it. The affections are at rest, and the working of the mind that would otherwise forecast evil. Hence all is calmed down by the peace of God Himself.
Peace is viewed in more ways than one in Scripture. The peace of God here has nothing to do with the purging of conscience. It is a question of keeping heart and mind. Where conscience is yet burdened, there is but one way of finding peace. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Sins were there, and how was the moral nature and majesty of God to be vindicated about sin? Far from God, in all our ways at war with God, how could we have peace with Him? The only door, through which we, poor enemies, pass out of such a condition into peace with God, is by believing the testimony He has given of His Son. But this is "peace with God," not "the peace of God." If I endeavour to get comfort for my conscience by spreading out my need before God, there is never full rest of conscience. The only means entitled to give rest to the sin-stricken is faith in God's assurance that sins are blotted out by the blood, and sin has been perfectly judged in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. "By him all that believe are justified." If one's own state mingles for a single moment with this, it is a delusion on such a ground to reckon upon peace with God. But if I believe on Christ and what He has done, I can boldly say that Christ deserved that even my sins should be forgiven. Therefore I can add, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God." The value is not in the faith, but in our Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot get the blessing without believing, but it is an answer to the worth of Christ in God's sight.
But, besides this settled peace which we have through the work of Christ, there is the practical peace of God, which has nothing to do with the remission of sins (though assuming it as a settled thing for a foundation), but of the circumstances through which the believer passes day by day. Paul was in prison, when he wrote to the Philippians, unable to build up the churches or to labour in the gospel. He might have been cast down in spirit, but he never was more happy in his life. How is this? Because, instead of being anxious and troubled about the danger of the Church and the afflictions of individuals, about souls that were perishing, he looked at them in connection with God, instead of looking at them as connected with himself. If God was in peace about these things, why should not he too be? Thus the simple resource of spreading out all before God and casting it off himself into the bosom of his Father had for its effect that God's peace kept his heart and mind. Nor was it special to the Apostle. He puts it before the saints as that which ought to be equally their portion. It is evident there is no room left for anxiety. God would not have His children burdened or troubled about circumstances. Till the Lord come, this is the blessed source of relief. God is here working, and His peace keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, where we give Him His honour and our trust.
But even this is not all, for there are other things which claim or test us besides anxieties and cares. There is our ordinary Christian life; what can strengthen us in it? Here is the word, the apostolic counsel (v. 8), "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true." There may not be many bright spots, but there are some; am I not to think of them? This is what I am called upon to do - to be quick of discernment, seeing not what is bad but what is good. I may have to judge what is evil, but what God looks for is that the spirit should be occupied with the good. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest [rather, venerable, or noble], whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Our consciences can answer whether these are the things we are most apt to think about. If we are swift to hear not of these things but all that is painful, while slow to hear whatever is of God, the consequence is, instead of having the God of peace as our companion, we have ourselves and others hindered by evil thoughts and communications. For that which the soul wants is only what is good. We are not exhorted to be learned in the iniquity of world or church, but "wise unto that which is good and simple concerning evil." God has given those whom He qualifies to judge evil - spiritual men who can take it up as a duty to Him, and with sorrow and love toward those concerned - but these God employs, among other purposes, for the sake of keeping His saints in general out of the need of such tasks. It is happy that we are not all called upon to search and pry into evil, seeing and hearing its details; but that, while the Lord may graciously interfere to guard us from being mistaken, our proper wisdom is growing in what is according to God.
Why, ordinarily, should a simple child of God occupy himself, for instance, with a bad book or a false teacher? It is enough for us if we have good ground to know that a thing is mischievous, and all we have then to do is to avoid it. If, on the contrary, I know of something good, it has a claim on love and respect; it is not only for myself but for others. We are never right if we shut up our hearts from the sympathy of Christ with the members of His body or the workings of His Spirit here below. If there were even a poor Roman Catholic priest, who knew and brought out the truth of God more plainly than others, let us not say, "can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" but, come and see if any thing come with adequate evidence of having God's stamp upon it. Let us not limit Him who is above all circumstances; even if there be that which is most distressing, let us thank God that His gracious power refuses to be bound by any limits of man. It is of great importance that we should have largeness of heart to think of all that is good, wherever it may be.
"Those things which ye both learned, and received, and heard, and saw in me, do." v. 9. If ever there was a man with a large heart, it was the Apostle Paul. And yet no servant of God had a deeper view of evil, and a more intense abhorrence of it. Here the Spirit directs them by what they had seen in his own spirit and ways. It is not matter of doctrine but his practical life. This goes farther than supplanting anxiety by the safeguard of God's own peace; it is the practical power of positive good. What is the effect upon the heart? "The God of peace shall be with you." "The God of peace" is far more than even "the peace of God." It is Himself the source; it is the enjoyment of His own blessed presence in this way. There is relief in having the "peace of God" as the guard of our hearts and minds; there is power in having "the God of peace" with us. Want we anything? Impossible. "But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at the last your care of me flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity." They had shown love to the Apostle Paul at a previous time, as we find afterward (v. 16) where he contrasts "the beginning of the gospel" with "at the last."
The Philippians had been favoured of God and had shown their love to the Apostle in their early days. He had not forgotten it. It would appear that he rarely received from the saints of God, perhaps because he met with but few even among them that could have been trusted. It would have wrought evil by reason of their want of spiritual feeling. They might have thought something of it, or the gospel might have suffered in their minds or with others through it. But the Philippians were sufficiently simple and spiritual, and we know what delicate feelings the power of the Spirit can produce. They, accordingly, had the privilege of ministering to his wants. This the Apostle alludes to, and with exceeding sweetness of feeling on his part. He felt that the word, "at the last," might be construed into a kind of reproach, as if they had forgotten him for a long time. He hastens to add therefore, "wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity" (v. 10). On the other hand, he guards them against supposing he wanted more from them. "Not that I speak in respect of want" (v. 11).
In the corrupt heart of man, the very expression of gratitude may be an oblique hint that further favours would not be amiss. The Apostle cuts off all thought of this by the words, "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." This is not indigenous to human nature. Even Paul may not always have known it; he had learned it. "I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound." v. 12. His experience had known betimes what it was to be in absolute want, as he knew what it was to have want of nothing. "Everywhere and in all things I am instructed, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer. I can do all things through him [the true reading] who strengtheneth me." A wonderful thing for a man in prison to say, one who apparently was in most abject circumstances, and in no small danger - unable to do anything, men would say. But faith speaks according to God, and the man who can do nothing in the judgment of his fellows, is the very one who could say he had strength for all things in Him that strengthened him (v. 13).
When the world comes into collision with a Christian, when it criminates, robs, and imprisons him, when the Christian is evidently as happy as before, the world cannot but feel it has come into contact with a power that is entirely above its own. Whenever it is not so, we have failed. What the world should find in us, under all circumstances, is the expression of Christ and His strength. It is not merely when the trial comes that we should go to the Lord and spread out our failure before Him; we ought to be with Him before it. If we wait for the trial, we shall not stand. In our Lord's case you will find that where there was victory in the power of faith, our Lord went through the suffering before it came. He went through it with God, yet no one felt trial as He. This therefore does not make the suffering less, but the contrary.
Take the garden of Gethsemane as an instance. What saint but our Lord ever sweated drops of blood in the prospect of death? Hence others may have entered into it in some little degree; and the measure has always been the power of the Spirit of God giving them to feel what is contrary to God in this world; for in this world whoever loves most suffers most. But here was one who had suffered much, who knew rejection as few men ever knew it, who had found the world's enmity as it is the lot of not many to prove. And yet this man, under these circumstances, says he has strength for all things through Him who strengthened him. Be assured that a blessed strengthener is near every one who leans upon Him. Paul does not speak here of apostolic privilege, but as a saint, a ground on which he can link himself with us, that we may learn to walk in the same path which he was treading himself. Having freely owned their love (in vv. 14-16), having shown that it was because he desired fruit that might abound to their account in verse 17, he closes all with this: "I have all and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God." v. 18. And, marvelous to say, he is a giver himself. At any rate he counts upon One who would give everything that was needed in full supply. "But my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." v. 19.
What language from a man who had just been in want, and whose want had been supplied by these saints! Now he turns round and says, "My God shall supply all your need." The God whose love and care and resources he had proved through all his Christian career - "my God," he says, "shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." He is supplying the saints now according to all the wealth of His resources even in glory in Christ. There the shadow of a want will be unknown, but God is acting according to the same riches now. Therefore the Apostle breaks forth in praise to God forthwith. "Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever, Amen." v. 20.
There is a notable change in phraseology. He says first, "My God shall supply all your need," and afterward, "our God and Father." When it is a question of experimental knowledge and confidence, he could not say "our God," because they might not have the same measure of acquaintance with His love as he had who had proved and learned so profoundly and variedly what God is. But when he ascribes unto the ages of ages glory to God the Father, he cannot but join them fully with himself. "Now unto our God and Father be glory," etc. His heart goes out to all believers. "Salute every saint in Christ Jesus." v. 21. What a joy for those in Philippi to hear of brethren in unexpected quarters! The Apostle had gone to Rome to be tried before Caesar. Now, it appears, there were those of the imperial household who sent special salutation through the Apostle to the Philippians. "The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household." vv. 21, 22.
The heart gets wonderful relief in seeing the things that are lovely and of good report, and calculated to give our hearts confidence in the darkest day. Whatever the great trial of the present time (and never were there subtler snares or more imminent danger), there is no less grace in God, no less blessing to men in view of all. Let us not forget the word, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." v. 4. This epistle was not written as looking back upon the day of Pentecost, but for a time when the Apostle was cut off from helping the churches, and when the saints were warned that they must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. But the trial is yet sharper for the spirit, if not bodily, for those who would walk with the Lord now. Let us not doubt His love, but be sure that God is above all circumstances. If God has cast our lot in these days, let us not doubt His goodness, but know that we may have as deep and even deeper joy because the joy is less in saints, less in circumstances, and more exclusively in Christ.
It was sin that hindered the Church's blessedness in these ways and others; but since we have been called when and where we are now, may we eschew the unbelieving wish to exchange for any other. It is a question very simply of faith in God. He loves us and He cares for us. May our hearts answer to the perfections of His grace. While feeling the sorrow of the saints, of the gospel, of the Church more deeply, as all affects the glory of God, let us leave room in our hearts to count upon a known, tried God, who ever will be God, superior to all difficulties, foes, snares, and sorrows. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen." v. 23.
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.
All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.