Philippians 1:1
Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
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(1) Paul and Timotheus, (the) servants of Jesus Christ.—To the Philippian, as to the Thessalonian Church (see 1Thessalonians 1:1; 2Thessalonians 1:1), St. Paul does not think it needful to assert his apostleship; but writes, in a tone of affectionate and confident familiarity, as to those whom he could thoroughly trust. Here he and Timotheus are simply “servants” (not, as in our version, “the servants” in any position of special eminence) “of Jesus Christ”—a title of humility assumed by St. James and St. Jude (James 1:1; Jude 1:1), but nowhere else by St. Paul without the addition of some title of apostolic authority. (Comp. Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1.) Even in Galatians 1:10 he declares that he is “the servant of Christ,” chiefly to show that he cannot and need not “please men.” It is to be noted also that here, as again (with Silas) in the Thessalonian Epistles, Timotheus is joined with St. Paul almost on a footing of equality whereas in other Epistles (see 2Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1), he is separated from the Apostle and distinguished as “Timotheus the brother.” This is probably to be accounted for partly by the absence of all necessity for assertion of his own apostleship, partly also by the fact that (with Silas) Timotheus was St. Paul’s fellow-worker in the conversion of the Macedonian Churches, and accordingly his chosen messenger to them from time to time (Acts 19:22; Acts 20:5).

The saints in Christ Jesus.—The same expression is used in the salutations which commence other Epistles of this period (see Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1): “the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus.”

With the bishops and deacons.—In this passage the word “bishop” is, for the first time, used as a title, although in Acts 20:28 (“over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers”) it is employed as a description of duty, with a distinct reference to its etymological meaning and origin. In the Pastoral Epistles we find it similarly used (as 1Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7). There is now no question—and but for supposed ecclesiastical necessities there never could have been any question—that in Holy Scripture, as also in the First Epistle of an Apostolical Father (St. Clement to the Corinthians, Php. 19), the two titles of “bishop” and “presbyter” are applied to the same persons—the latter, however, being in St. Paul’s Epistles the more frequent and conventional term, while the former seems almost always used with reference to its actual meaning. The two titles are of diverse origin. The “presbyter,” or “elder,” is a Jewish title, so directly descended from the synagogue that the institution of the presbyterate is not, like that of the diaconate, recorded as a historical creation in the Church. The title of “bishop,” or “overseer,” is of heathen origin, used in classical Greek for a commissioner from head-quarters, applied in the LXX. to various secular offices (2Kings 11:19; 2Chronicles 24:12-17; Nehemiah 11:9; Nehemiah 11:14; Nehemiah 11:22; Isaiah 60:17). The former is simply a title of dignity, like the many derivations from the Latin senior which have passed into modern language. The latter is a title of official duty. Like the word “pastor” and “apostle,” it belongs properly only to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the “Apostle of God” (Hebrews 3:1), and “the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls” (1Peter 2:25); but derivatively to His ministers, as having the oversight of His Church. This is directly shown in the application of the title to the Ephesian presbyters (Acts 20:28; see also 1Peter 5:1-2), and the idea of responsible oversight is brought out clearly in the description of the office of the “bishop “in 1Timothy 3:1-7. The in-different use of the two names is made absolutely clear in Titus 1:5-7 : “Ordain elders in every city . . . if any be blameless . . . For a bishop must be blameless as a steward of God.” It is only necessary to remark briefly that this identification of the two titles (of which St. Clement’s Epistle is the last example) in no way weakens the significance of the undoubted historical fact of the development of what we call the Episcopate in the early part of the second century, and the overwhelming probability of its origination, under the sanction of St. John, when the representatives of the higher order of the Apostolate passed away.

The name “deacon” is also used for the first time, unless, indeed, as is probable, it is applied officially to Phoebe in Romans 16:1. Although the office of the Seven, in Acts 6:1-7, is undoubtedly the germ of the diaconate, and although the cognate words (“ministration” and “serve”) are used in connection with them (see Philippians 1:1-2), yet the actual title of deacons is nowhere given to them.

This mention of the ministers as distinct from the Church in salutation is unique. It has been conjectured, with great probability, that in the Letter of the Philippian Church, which no doubt accompanied the mission of alms by Epaphroditus, the presbyters and deacons were so distinguished; as in the letter of the Council at Jerusalem, according to the ordinary reading of Acts 15:23 (“the apostles and elders and brethren”). Some ancient authorities held that Epaphroditus was “the apostle” (or what we should call the bishop) of the Church at Philippi, and that he is not named here simply because he was with St. Paul: so that in the Philippian Church the three orders were already represented. (But on this see Philippians 2:25.)



Php 1:1-8 {R.V.}.

The bond between Paul and the church at Philippi was peculiarly close. It had been founded by himself, as is narrated at unusual length in the book of Acts. It was the first church established in Europe. Ten years had elapsed since then, possibly more. Paul is now a prisoner in Rome, not suffering the extremest rigour of imprisonment, but still a prisoner in his own hired house, accessible to his friends and able to do work for God, but still in the custody of soldiers, chained and waiting till the tardy steps of Roman law should come up to him, or perhaps till the caprice of Nero should deign to hear his cause. In that imprisonment we have his letters to the Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, which latter three are closely connected in time, the two former in subject, and the two latter in destination. This letter stands apart from those to the great Asiatic churches.

Its tone and general cast are unlike those of most of his letters. It contains no doctrinal discussions and no rebukes of evil, but is an outpouring of happy love and confidence. Like all Paul’s epistles it begins with salutations, and like most of them with prayer, but from the very beginning is a long gush of love. These early verses seem to me very beautiful if we regard them either as a revelation of the personal character of the Apostle, or as a picture of the relation between teacher and taught in its most blessed and undisturbed form, or as a lovely ideal of friendship and love in any relation, hallowed and solemnised by Christian feeling.

Verses one and two contain the apostolic greeting. In it we note the senders. Timothy is associated with Paul, according to his custom in all his letters even when he goes on immediately to speak in the singular. He ever sought to hide his own supremacy and to bring his friends into prominence. He was a great, lowly soul, who had no pride in the dignity of his position but felt the weight of its responsibility and would fain have had it shared. He calls Timothy and himself the slaves of Christ. He regarded it as his highest honour to be Christ’s born servant, bound to absolute submission to the all-worthy Lord who had died to win him. It is to be noted that there is no reference here to apostolic authority, and the contrast is very remarkable in this respect with the Epistle to the Galatians, where with scornful emphasis he asserts it as bestowed ‘not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.’ In this designation of himself, we have already the first trace of the intimate and loving relationship in which Paul stood to the Philippians. There was no need for him to assert what was not denied, and he did not wish to deal with them officially, but rather personally. There is a similar omission in Philemon and a pathetic substitution there of the ‘prisoner of Jesus Christ’ for the ‘slave of Christ Jesus.’

The persons addressed are ‘all the saints in Christ Jesus.’ As he had not called himself an apostle, so he does not call them a church. He will not lose in an abstraction the personal bond which unites them. They are saints, which is not primarily a designation of moral purity, but of consecration to God, from whom indeed purity flows. The primitive meaning of the word is separation ; the secondary meaning is holiness , and the connection between these two meanings contains a whole ethical philosophy. They are saints in Christ Jesus; union with Him is the condition both of consecration and of purity.

The Philippian community had an organisation primitive but sufficient. We do not enter on the discussion of its two offices further than to note that the bishops are evidently identical with the elders, in the account in Acts 20: of Paul’s parting with the Ephesian Christians, where the same persons are designated by both titles, as is also the case in Titus 1:5; Titus 1:7; the one name {elder} coming from the Hebrew and designating the office on the side of dignity, the other {bishop} being of Greek origin and representing it in terms of function. We note that there were several elders then in the Philippian church, and that their place in the salutation negatives the idea of hierarchical supremacy.

The benediction or prayer for grace and peace is couched in the form which it assumes in all Paul’s letters. It blends Eastern and Western forms of greeting. ‘Grace’ being the Greek and ‘Peace’ the Hebrew form of salutation. So Christ fuses and fulfils the world’s desires. The grace which He gives is the self-imparting love of God, the peace which He gives is its consequence, and the salutation is an unmistakable evidence of Paul’s belief in Christ’s divinity.

This salutation is followed by a great burst of thankful love, for the full apprehension of which we must look briefly at the details of these verses. We have first Paul’s thankfulness in all his remembrance of the Philippians, then he further defines the times of his thankfulness as ‘always in every supplication of mind on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy.’ His gratitude for them is expressed in all his prayers which are all thank-offerings. He never thinks of them nor prays for them without thanking God for them. Then comes the reason for his gratitude--their fellowship in furtherance of the gospel, from the first day when Lydia constrained him to come into her house, until this moment when now at the last their care of him had flourished again. The Revised Version’s rendering ‘fellowship in furtherance of’ instead of ‘fellowship in’ conveys the great lesson which the other rendering obscures--that the true fellowship is not in enjoyment but in service, and refers not so much to a common participation in the blessedness as in the toils and trials of Christian work. This is apparent in an immediately following verse where the Philippians’ fellowship with Christ is again spoken of as consisting in sharing both in His bonds and in the double work of defending the gospel from gainsayers and in positively proclaiming it. Very beautifully in this connection does he designate that work and toil as ‘my grace.’

The fellowship which thus is the basis of his thanksgiving leads on to a confidence which he cherishes for them and which helps to make his prayers joyful thanksgivings. And such confidence becomes him because he has them in his heart, and ‘love hopeth all things’ and delights to believe in and anticipate all good concerning its object. He has them in his heart because they faithfully share with him his honourable, blessed burdens. But that is not all, it is ‘in the tender mercies’ of Christ that he loved them. His love is the love of Christ in him; his being is so united to Jesus that his heart beats with the same emotion as throbs in Christ’s, and all that is merely natural and of self in his love is changed into a solemn participation in the great love which Christ has to them. This, then, being the general exposition of the words, let us now dwell for a little while on the broad principles suggested by them.

I. Participation in the work of Christ is the noblest basis for love and friendship.

Paul had tremendous courage and yet hungered for sympathy. He had no outlets for his love but his fellow Christians. There had, no doubt, been a wrenching of the ties of kindred when he became a Christian, and his love, dammed back and restrained, had to pour itself on his brethren.

The Church is a workshop, not a dormitory, and every Christian man and woman is bound to help in the common cause. These Philippians help Paul by sympathy and gifts, indeed, but by their own direct work as well, and things are not right with us unless leaders can say, ‘Ye all are partakers of my grace.’ There are other real and sweet bonds of love and friendship, but the most real and sweetest is to be found in our common relation to Jesus Christ and in our co-operation in the work which is ours because it is His and we are His.

II. Thankful, glad prayer flows from such co-operation.

The prisoner in his bonds in the alien city had the remembrance of his friends coming into his chamber like fresh, cool air, or fragrance from far-off gardens. A thrill of gladness was in his soul as often as he thought on them. It is blessed if in our experience teacher and taught are knit together thus; without some such bond of union no good will be done. The relation of pastor and people is so delicate and spiritual, the purpose of it so different from that of mere teaching, the laws of it so informal and elastic, the whole power of it, therefore, so dependent on sympathy and mutual kindliness that, unless there be something like the bond which united Paul and the Philippians, there will be no prosperity or blessing. The thinnest film of cloud prevents deposition of dew. If all men in pulpits could say what Paul said of the Philippians, and all men in pews could deserve to have it said of them, the world would feel the power of a quickened Church.

III. Confidence is born of love and common service.

Paul delights to think that God will go on because God has already begun a good work in them, and Paul delights to think of their perfection because he loves them. ‘God is not a man that He should lie, or the son of man that He should repent.’ His past is the guarantee for His future; what He begins He finishes.

IV. Our love is hallowed and greatened in the love of Christ.

Paul lived, yet not he, but Christ lived in him. It is but one illustration of the principle of his being that Christ who was the life of his life, is the heart of his love. He longed after his Philippian friends in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. This and this only is the true consecration of love when we live and love in the Lord; when we will as Christ does, think as He does, love as He does, when the mind that was in Christ Jesus was in us. It is needful to guard against the intrusion of mere human affection and regard into our sacred relations in the Church; it is needful to guard against it in our own personal love and friendship. Let us see that we ourselves know and believe the love wherewith Christ hath loved us, and then let us see that that love dwells in us informing and hallowing our hearts, making them tender with His great tenderness, and turning all the water of our earthly affections into the new wine of His kingdom. Let the law for our hearts, as well as for our minds and wills, be ‘I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me.’

Php 1:1-2. Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ — St. Paul, writing familiarly to the Philippians, does not style himself an apostle. And under the common title of servants, he tenderly and modestly joins with himself his son Timothy, who had attended him in his general travels in those parts, had come with him to Philippi, not long after the apostle had received him, (Acts 16:3; Acts 16:12,) and had doubtless assisted him in preaching the gospel there. To all the saints — The apostolic epistles were sent more directly to the churches, than to the pastors of them; with the bishops and deacons — The former properly took care of the internal, or spiritual state of the church, the latter of the externals, 1 Timothy 3:2-8; although these were not wholly confined to the one, nor those to the other. The word επισκοποι, bishops, or overseers, here includes all the presbyters at Philippi, as well as the ruling presbyters: the names bishop and presbyter, or elder, being promiscuously used in the first ages. See on Acts 20:28. Grace be unto you, &c. — See on Romans 1:7.

1:1-7 The highest honour of the most eminent ministers is, to be servants of Christ. And those who are not really saints on earth, never will be saints in heaven. Out of Christ, the best saints are sinners, and unable to stand before God. There is no peace without grace. Inward peace springs from a sense of Divine favour. And there is no grace and peace but from God our Father, the fountain and origin of all blessings. At Philippi the apostle was evil entreated, and saw little fruit of his labour; yet he remembers Philippi with joy. We must thank our God for the graces and comforts, gifts and usefulness of others, as we receive the benefit, and God receives the glory. The work of grace will never be perfected till the day of Jesus Christ, the day of his appearance. But we may always be confident God will perform his good work, in every soul wherein he has really begun it by regeneration; though we must not trust in outward appearances, nor in any thing but a new creation to holiness. People are dear to their ministers, when they receive benefit by their ministry. Fellow-sufferers in the cause of God should be dear one to another.Paul and Timotheus - Paul frequently unites some person with him in his epistles; see the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:1. It is clear from this, that Timothy was with Paul at Rome. Why he was there is unknown. It is evident that he was not there as a prisoner with Paul, and the probability is, that he was one of the friends who had gone to Rome with a view to show his sympathy with him in his sufferings; compare the notes at 2 Timothy 4:9. There was special propriety in the fact that Timothy was joined with the apostle in writing the Epistle, for he was with him when the church was founded, and doubtless felt a deep interest in its welfare; Acts 16. Timothy had remained in Macedonia after Paul went to Athens, and it is not improbable that he had visited them afterward.

The servants of Jesus Christ - see the notes at Romans 1:1.

To all the saints in Christ Jesus - The common appellation given to the church, denoting that it was holy; see the notes, Romans 1:7.

With the bishops - σὺν επισκόποις sun episkopois; see the notes, Acts 20:28. The word used here occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: Acts 20:28, translated "overseers;" and Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 2:25, in each of which places it is rendered as "bishop." The word properly means an inspector, overseer, or guardian, and was given to the ministers of the gospel because they exercised this care over the churches, or were appointed to oversee their interests. It is a term, therefore, which might be given to any of the officers of the churches, and was originally equivalent to the term presbyter. It is evidently used in this sense here. It cannot be used to denote a diocesan bishop; or a bishop having the care of the churches in a large district of country, and of a superior rank to other ministers of the gospel, because the word is used here in the plural number, and it is in the highest degree improbable that there were dioceses in Philippi. It is clear, moreover, that they were the only officers of the church there except "deacons;" and the persons referred to, therefore, must have been those who were invested simply with the pastoral office. Thus, Jerome, one of the early fathers, says, respecting the word bishop: "A presbyter is the same as a bishop. And until there arose divisions in religion, churches were governed by a common counsel of presbyters. But afterward, it was everywhere decreed, that one person, elected from the presbyters, should be placed over the others." "Philippi," says he, "is a single city of Macedonia; and certainly there could not have been several like these who are now called bishops, at one time in the same city. But as, at that time, they called the same bishops whom they called presbyters also, the apostles spoke indifferently of bishops as of presbyters." Annotations on the Epistle to Titus, as quoted by Dr. Woods on Episcopacy, p. 63.

And deacons - On the appointment of deacons, and their duty, see the notes at Acts 6:1. The word "deacons" does not occur before this place in the common version of the New Testament, though the Greek word rendered here as "deacon" frequently occurs. It is rendered "minister" and "ministers" in Matthew 20:26; Mark 10:43; Romans 13:4; Romans 15:8; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 11:15, 2 Corinthians 11:23; Galatians 2:17; Ephesians 3:7; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 1:7, Colossians 1:23, Colossians 1:25; Colossians 4:7; 1 Timothy 4:6; "servant" and "servants," Matthew 22:13; Matthew 23:11; Mark 9:25; John 2:5, John 2:9; John 12:26; Romans 16:1; and "deacon" or "deacons," Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 3:12. The word properly means servants, and is then applied to the ministers of the gospel as being the servants of Christ, and of the churches. Hence, it came especially to denote those who had charge of the alms of the church, and who were the overseers of the sick and the poor. In this sense the word is probably used in the passage before us, as the officers here referred to were distinct in some way from the bishops. The apostle here mentions but two orders of ministers in the church at Philippi, and this account is of great importance in its bearing on the question about the way in which Christian churches were at first organized, and about the officers which existed in them. In regard to this we may remark:

(1) That only two orders of ministers are mentioned. This is undeniable, whatever rank they may have held.

(2) there is no intimation whatever that a minister like a prelatical bishop had ever been appointed there, and that the incumbent of the office was absent, or that the office was now vacant. If the bishop was absent, as Bloomfield and others suppose, it is remarkable that no allusion is made to him, and that Paul should have left the impression that there were in fact but two "orders" there. If there were a prelate there, why did not Paul refer to him with affectionate salutations? Why does he refer to the two other "orders of clergy" without the slightest allusion to the man who was set over them as "superior in ministerial rank and power?" Was Paul jealous of this prelate? But if they had a prelate, and the see was then vacant, why is there no reference to this fact? Why no condolence at their loss? Why no prayer that God would send them a man to enter into the vacant diocese? It is a mere assumption to suppose, as the friends of prelacy often do, that they had a prelatical bishop, but that he was then absent. But even granting this, it is an inquiry which has never been answered, why Paul did not make some reference to this fact, and ask their prayers for the absent prelate.

(3) the church was organized by the apostle Paul himself, and there can be no doubt that it was organized on the "truly primitive and apostolic plan."

(4) the church at Philippi was in the center of a large territory; was the capital of Macedonia, and was not likely to be placed in subjection to the diocesan of another region.

(5) it was surrounded by other churches, since we have express mention of the church at Thessalonica, and the preaching of the gospel at Berea; Acts 17.

(6) there is more than one bishop mentioned as connected with the church in Philippi. But these could not have been bishops of the Episcopal or prelatical order, if Episcopalians choose to say that they were prelates, then it follows:

(a) that there was a plurality of such persons in the same diocese, the same city, and the same church - which is contrary to the fundamental idea of Episcopacy. It follows also,

(b) that there was entirely missing in the church at Philippi what the Episcopalians call the "second order" of clergy; that a church was organized by the apostles defective in one of the essential grades, with a body of prelates without presbyters - that is, an order of men of "superior" rank designated to exercise jurisdiction over "priests" who had no existence.

If there were such presbyters or "priests" there, why did not Paul name them? If their office was one that was contemplated in the church, and was then vacant, how did this happen? And if this were so, why is there no allusion to so remarkable a fact?




The INTERNAL EVIDENCE for the authenticity of this Epistle is strong. The style, manner of thought, and doctrine, accord with Paul's. The incidental allusions also establish his authorship. Paley [Horæ Paulinæ, ch. 7] instances the mention of the object of Epaphroditus' journey to Rome, the Philippian contribution to Paul's wants, Epaphroditus' sickness (Php 1:7; 2:25-30; 4:10-18), the fact that Timothy had been long with Paul at Philippi (Php 1:1; 2:19), the reference to his being a prisoner at Rome now for a long time (Php 1:12-14; 2:17-28), his willingness to die (compare Php 1:23, with 2Co 5:8), the reference to the Philippians having seen his maltreatment at Philippi (Php 1:29, 30; 2:1, 2).

The EXTERNAL EVIDENCE is equally decisive: Polycarp [Epistle to the Philippians, 3; 11]; Irenæus [Against Heresies, 4.18.4]; Clement of Alexandria [The Instructor, 1.1, p. 107]; Eusebius [The Epistle of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne, in Ecclesiastical History, 5. 2]; Tertullian [On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 23]; Origen [Against Celsus, 1.3, p. 122]; Cyprian [Testimonies against the Jews, 3.39].

Philippi was the first (that is, the farthest from Rome, and first which met Paul in entering Macedonia) Macedonian city of the district, called Macedonia Prima (so called as lying farthest eastward). The Greek (Ac 16:12) should not be translated "the chief city," as English Version, but as above [Alford]. Not it, but Thessalonica, was the chief city of the province, and Amphipolis, of the district called Macedonia Prima. It was a Roman "colony" (Ac 16:12), made so by Augustus, to commemorate his famous victory over Brutus and Cassius. A colony was in fact a portion of Rome itself transplanted to the provinces, an offshoot from Rome, and as it were a portrait of the mother city on a small scale [Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, 16.13]. Its inhabitants were Roman citizens, having the right of voting in the Roman tribes, governed by their own senate and magistrates, and not by the governor of the province, with the Roman law and Latin language.

Paul, with Silas and Timothy, planted the Gospel there (Ac 16:12, &c.), in his second missionary journey, A.D. 51. Doubtless he visited it again on his journey from Ephesus into Macedonia (Ac 20:1); and Ac 20:3, 6, expressly mentions his third visit on his return from Greece (Corinth) to Syria by way of Macedonia. His sufferings at Philippi (Ac 16:19, &c.) strengthened the Christian bond of union between him and his Philippian converts, who also, like him, were exposed to trials for the Gospel's sake (1Th 2:2). They alone sent supplies for his temporal wants, twice shortly after he had left them (Php 4:15, 16), and again a third time shortly before writing this Epistle (Php 4:10, 18; 2Co 11:9). This fervent attachment on their part was, perhaps, also in part due to the fact that few Jews were in Philippi, as in other scenes of his labors, to sow the seeds of distrust and suspicion. There was no synagogue, but merely a Jewish Proseucha, or oratory, by the riverside. So that there only do we read of his meeting no opposition from Jews, but only from the masters of the divining damsel, whose gains had been put an end to by her being dispossessed.

Though the Philippian Church was as yet free from Judaizing influence, yet it needed to be forewarned of that danger which might at any time assail it from without (Php 3:2); even as such evil influences had crept into the Galatian churches. In Php 4:2, 3 we find a trace of the fact recorded in the history (Ac 16:13, 14), that female converts were among the first to receive the Gospel at Philippi.

As to the state of the Church, we gather from 2Co 8:1, 2 that its members were poor, yet most liberal; and from Php 1:28-30, that they were undergoing persecution. The only blemish referred to in their character was, on the part of some members, a tendency to dissension. Hence arise his admonitions against disputings (Php 1:27; 2:1-4, 12, 14; 4:2).

The OBJECT of the Epistle is general: not only to thank the Philippians for their contribution sent by Epaphroditus, who was now in returning to take back the apostle's letter, but to express his Christian love and sympathy, and to exhort them to a life consonant with that of Christ, and to warn them against existing dissensions and future possible assaults of Judaizers from without. It is remarkable in this Epistle alone, as compared with the others, that, amidst many commendations, there are no express censures of those to whom it is addressed. No doctrinal error, or schism, has as yet sprung up; the only blemish hinted at is, that some of the Philippian Church were somewhat wanting in lowliness of mind, the result of which want was disputation. Two women, Euodias and Syntyche, are mentioned as having erred in this respect (Php 4:2, 3). The Epistle may be divided into three parts: (1) Affectionate address to the Philippians; reference to his own state as a prisoner at Rome, and to theirs, and to his mission of Epaphroditus to them (the first and second chapters). Epaphroditus probably held a leading office in the Philippian Church, perhaps as a presbyter. After Tychicus and Onesimus had departed (A.D. 62), carrying the Epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, Paul was cheered in his imprisonment by the arrival of Epaphroditus with the Philippian contribution. That faithful "brother, companion in labor, and fellow soldier" (Php 2:25), had brought on himself by the fatigues of the journey a dangerous sickness (Php 2:26, 30). But now that he was recovered, he "longed" (Php 2:26) to return to his Philippian flock, and in person to relieve their anxiety on his behalf, in respect to his sickness; and the apostle gladly availed himself of the opportunity of writing to them a letter of grateful acknowledgments and Christian exhortations. (2) Caution against Judaizing teachers, supported by reference to his own former and present feeling towards Jewish legalism (Php 3:1-21). (3) Admonitions to individuals, and to the Church in general, thanks for their seasonable aid, and concluding benedictions and salutations (Php 4:1-23).

This Epistle was written from Rome during the imprisonment, the beginning of which is related in Ac 28:16, 20, 30, 31. The reference to "Cæsar's household" (Php 4:22), and to the "palace" (Php 1:13, Greek, "Prætorium," probably, the barrack of the Prætorian bodyguard, attached to the palace of Nero) confirms this. It must have been during his first imprisonment at Rome, for the mention of the Prætorium agrees with the fact that it was during his first imprisonment he was in the custody of the Prætorian Prefect, and his situation, described in Php 1:12-14, agrees with his situation in the first two years of his imprisonment (Ac 28:30, 31). The following reasons show, moreover, that it was written towards the close of that imprisonment: (1) He, in it, expresses his expectation of the immediate decision of his cause (Php 2:23). (2) Enough time had elapsed for the Philippians to hear of his imprisonment, to send Epaphroditus to him, to hear of Epaphroditus' arrival and sickness, and send back word to Rome of their distress (Php 2:26). (3) It must have been written after the three other Epistles sent from Rome, namely, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon; for Luke is no longer with him (Php 2:20); otherwise he would have been specified as saluting them, having formerly labored among them, whereas he is mentioned as with him, Col 4:14; Phm 24. Again, in Eph 6:19, 20, his freedom to preach is implied: but in Php 1:13-18, his bondage is dwelt on, and it is implied that, not himself, but others, preached, and made his imprisonment known. Again, in Phm 22, he confidently anticipates his release, which contrasts with the more depressed anticipations of this Epistle. (4) A considerable time had elapsed since the beginning of his imprisonment, for "his bonds" to have become so widely known, and to have produced such good effects for the Gospel (Php 1:13). (5) There is evidently an increase in the rigor of his imprisonment implied now, as compared with the early stage of it, as described in Ac 28:1-31; compare Php 1:29, 30; 2:27. History furnishes a probable clue to account for this increase of vigor. In the second year of Paul's imprisonment (A.D. 62), Burrus, the Prætorian Prefect, to whose custody he had been committed (Ac 28:16, "the captain of the guard"), died; and Nero the emperor having divorced Octavia, and married Poppoea, a Jewish proselytess (who then caused her rival, Octavia, to be murdered, and gloated over the head of her victim), exalted Tigellinus, the chief promoter of the marriage, a monster of wickedness, to the Prætorian Prefecture. It was then he seems to have been removed from his own house into the Prætorium, or barrack of the Prætorian guards, attached to the palace, for stricter custody; and hence he writes with less hopeful anticipations as to the result of his trial (Php 2:17; 3:11). Some of the Prætorian guards who had the custody of him before, would then naturally make known his "bonds," in accordance with Php 1:13; from the smaller Prætorian bodyguard at the palace the report would spread to the general permanent Prætorian camp, which Tiberius had established north of the city, outside of the walls. He had arrived in Rome, February, 61; the "two whole years (Ac 20:30) in his own hired house" ended February, 63, so that the date of this Epistle, written shortly after, evidently while the danger was imminent, would be about spring or summer, 63. The providence of God averted the danger. He probably was thought beneath the notice of Tigellinus, who was more intent on court intrigues. The death of Nero's favorite, Pallas, the brother of Felix, this same year, also took out of the way another source of danger.

The STYLE is abrupt and discontinuous, his fervor of affection leading him to pass rapidly from one theme to another (Php 2:18, 19-24, 25-30; 3:1, 2, 3, 4-14, 15). In no Epistle does he use so warm expressions of love. In Php 4:1 he seems at a loss for words sufficient to express all the extent and ardor of his affection for the Philippians: "My brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved." The mention of bishops and deacons in Php 1:1 is due to the late date of the Epistle, at a time when the Church had begun to assume that order which is laid down in the Pastoral Epistles, and which continued the prevalent one in the first and purest age of the Church.


Php 1:1-30. Inscription. Thanksgiving and Prayers for the Flourishing Spiritual State of the Philippians. His Own State at Rome, and the Result of His Imprisonment in Spreading the Gospel. Exhortation to Christian Consistency.

1. Timotheus—mentioned as being well known to the Philippians (Ac 16:3, 10-12), and now present with Paul. Not that Timothy had any share in writing the Epistle; for Paul presently uses the first person singular, "I," not "we" (Php 1:3). The mention of his name implies merely that Timothy joined in affectionate remembrances to them.

servants of Jesus Christ—The oldest manuscripts read the order, "Christ Jesus." Paul does not call himself "an apostle," as in the inscriptions of other Epistles; for the Philippians needed not to be reminded of his apostolic authority. He writes rather in a tone of affectionate familiarity.

all—so Php 1:4, 7, 8, 25; Php 2:17, 26. It implies comprehensive affection which desired not to forget any one among them "all."

bishops—synonymous with "presbyters" in the apostolical churches; as appears from the same persons being called "elders of the Church" at Ephesus (Ac 20:17), and "overseers" (Ac 20:28), Greek, "bishops." And Tit 1:5, compare with Php 1:7. This is the earliest letter of Paul where bishops and deacons are mentioned, and the only one where they are separately addressed in the salutation. This accords with the probable course of events, deduced alike from the letters and history. While the apostles were constantly visiting the churches in person or by messengers, regular pastors would be less needed; but when some were removed by various causes, provision for the permanent order of the churches would be needed. Hence the three pastoral letters, subsequent to this Epistle, give instruction as to the due appointment of bishops and deacons. It agrees with this new want of the Church, when other apostles were dead or far away, and Paul long in prison, that bishops and deacons should be prominent for the first time in the opening salutation. The Spirit thus intimated that the churches were to look up to their own pastors, now that the miraculous gifts were passing into God's ordinary providence, and the presence of the inspired apostles, the dispensers of those gifts, was to be withdrawn [Paley, "Horæ Paulinæ]. "Presbyter," implied the rank; "bishop," the duties of the office [Neander]. Naturally, when the apostles who had the chief supervision were no more, one among the presbyters presided and received the name "bishop," in the more restricted and modern sense; just as in the Jewish synagogue one of the elders presided as "ruler of the synagogue." Observe, the apostle addresses the Church (that is, the congregation) more directly than its presiding ministers (Col 4:17; 1Th 5:12; Heb 13:24; Re 1:4, 11). The bishops managed more the internal, the deacons the external, affairs of the Church. The plural number shows there was more than one bishop or presbyter, and more than one deacon in the Church at Philippi.

Philippians Chapter 1

Phi 1:1,2 Paul saluteth the Philippians,

Phi 1:3-7 and testifieth his thankfulness to God for their

uninterrupted fellowship in the gospel,

Phi 1:8 his affection for them,

Phi 1:9-11 and prayers for their spiritual improvement.

Phi 1:12-20 He informeth them that his bonds at Rome had turned

out to the advancement of the gospel: which many were

thereby induced to preach, though with different views,

Phi 1:21-24 that, considering how serviceable his life might be

to the cause of Christ, though for himself it were

happier to die, he was doubtful in his choice,

Phi 1:25,26 but that he knew he should soon be at liberty to

visit them again for their comfort,

Phi 1:25-30 He exhorteth them to walk worthy of their profession,

and to be steady and unanimous in the faith, for

which they had already been fellow sufferers with him.

Paul and Timotheus; i.e. the author and approver, intimating the good agreement between Paul and Timothy, whom they well knew, to gain their fuller assent to what should be written, Mat 18:16: see 1Co 1:1 2Co 1:1.

The servants of Jesus Christ; in a special manner being wholly and perpetually dedicated to his more immediate service in the ministry of reconciliation, Act 13:2 Rom 1:1 1Co 4:1 2Co 5:18 Gal 1:1 Jam 1:1.

To all the saints in Christ Jesus; i.e. all the community of church members at Philippi, called out of the world to Christ, sanctified, separated, and dedicated to him, by a credible profession of faith in him and obedience to him, 1Co 1:2 Eph 1:1 Col 1:2; the apostle now being well persuaded of their perseverance, Phi 1:6,7.

With the bishops and deacons: from the Syriac version it is rendered presbyters and ministers. And there appears no cogent reason why we should not adhere to the exposition of ancient and modern interpreters, who understand the apostle writing in the plural number, particularly, to the church and her officers living in this city, as meaning the two orders of ordinary standing officers, which are appointed for the church, and not the church for the officers. By the former of which are meant such pastors and teachers as did agree in name, office, and power with the bishops during the apostles' times, as they collect from several other scriptures besides this, compared together, viz. Act 20:17,20,25,28, with Act 11:30 1Co 4:1 12:28 1Th 5:12,13 1Ti 3:1-8 5:17 Tit 1:5,7 Heb 13:17 Jam 5:14 1Pe 5:1,3 3Jo 1:1,9: these, whether bishops or elders, having the oversight, rule, guidance, feeding of the people, preaching of the word, and administration of the sacraments or mystical ordinances of the gospel, committed to them in common. By the latter, those to whom the special care was committed for serving of tables, the Lord's table and the poor's, together with a receiving and orderly disposing and distributing the collected alms and other goods of the church given to pious uses, according to their own discretion, taking advice of the pastors, for the support and benefit of the poor members of the church who needed as to this temporal life, to orphans, widows, yea, and strangers, especially of the household of faith, that their bodily necessities might be supplied, Act 6:2, &c. with Rom 12:7,8 Ro 15:25-27 16:1 1Co 12:28 2Co 9:1,2,12 1Ti 3:8, with 1Pe 4:11 Gal 6:10,11 Php 2:1,25,30, with Phi 4:18 Jud 1:12. "But two learned doctors amongst us have opposed this and made it difficult, the one by restraining the word bishops to diocesans, and the other by enlarging the word deacons to note their presbyters. He would have no such order of presbyters as now in the apostles' days; this would have deacons then to be only temporary, not standing officers in the church; and so they agree not. The former finding Clement and Polycarp agreed with the apostle here, as to two distinct orders of bishops and deacons, going upon an unproved supposition that Philippi was then a metropolis, he would, without any satisfactory evidence to one that doubted, infer the bishops here were diocesans; however, the forementioned scriptures compared, all prove the words bishop and elder in the apostles' days, to be used promiscuously, only the word elders, or presbyters, more frequently than that of bishops; conceiving that the office of presbyters was not in use till after-ages, though he assigns not the time how and when it came in. So that in effect he would have Philippi to be a mother church (that then had several daughter churches) in her infancy. Whereas the apostle writes to those who were church officers in that city, yet he would have them none of that order which we now call presbyters; thinking, whatever the apostle writes of laying on the hands of the presbytery, there were then no presbyters ordained in the church: which is a singular opinion, of holding all the places in the New Testament where presbyters are named, precisely to intend diocesan bishops in distinction from them who are only deacons, allowing the office of deacons, and the continuance of it, to be appointed therein, when that of elders (acknowledged to be superior) is not. But if, according to this novel tenet, there were not then preaching presbyters, that were not metropolitans or diocesans, how could diocesans have presbyters under them? And if they had none, what should denominate them properly diocesans? When it seems to be of the formal reason of a diocesan, to be chosen out of presbyters, or to have them to govern. And if the diocesan bishops were then as the apostles, who must the pastors and teachers be? 1Co 12:28,29 Eph 4:11,12. Exhorting, teaching, ruling were then present offices, which the apostles ordained in every church, Act 14:23. Cenchrea was no diocess or metropolis, neither was Aquila's and Priscilla's house, Rom 16:3,4 1Co 16:19, yet are said to be churches, in the plural number, 1Co 14:33,34. If metropolitical or diocesan, how hath not the Scripture the name or thing? This appears not to be agreeable to the apostle's way who writes particularly to churches in cities, towns, and countries, as to the Hebrews. He distinguisheth Thessalonica, in directions from Macedonia and Achaia, 1Th 1:7,8; Colosse and Laodicea, Col 4:13. And as there were bishops, plural, in this city of Philippi, so more doing the office in Thessalonica. 1Th 5:12, which was in Macedonia too. And would it not look oddly: Ye Christians of Macedonia are examples to all the Christians of Macedonia? In Colosse were more bishops or presbyters, because there is mention made of Epaphras and Archippus, Col 4:12,17. And would it not appear strange, when they were charged, upon persons being sick, to send for the elders of the church, to conclude the intent of the injunction was to send for all the diocesans of the metropolis? Jam 5:14. If so he would likely have enjoined them to have called the elders of the churches, not of the church, of which, in the singular, at Jerusalem Paul and Barnabas were received, and of the apostles and elders, Act 15:4, who were all present at Jerusalem, Act 21:18, which, under the Roman power, was not the metropolis of Palestine, but Caesarea was chief. The latter, contradictory to the former doctor, and to the office of the Church of England for ordaining of deacons, would have the term deacons to note the order of presbyters, looking upon deacons only as temporary and occasional trustees, whose office Paul in his Epistle did not so much as hint, thinking it unreasonable by deacon in those Epistles to understand any other office than that of presbyters as now used. Whereas the word deacons being analogous and put absolutely here, in contradistinction to bishops, should, according to right reason, be expounded in the most famous and distinctive signification, wherein, no doubt, Luke, a good Grecian, and Paul's companion at Philippi, used it in the Acts, {Act 6:3,4, &c.} written after this Epistle; unto which special import we should rather understand Paul using it here, for those who were not mere occasional and prudential temporary officers, but such as were to abide in the church: wherein, upon the multiplying of disciples, the bodily necessities of the poor saints, always with us, Joh 12:8, did require such who should have the peculiar care of these committed to them, Act 20:34,35. We find the apostle in his Epistles evidently enough appointing and describing such a special ministry, yea, and giving directions about it as a distinct branch from prophecy and teaching, if we compare places, Rom 12:6-8, with Rom 15:26,27 16:1 2Co 8:19 9:1,2,12; and what is said in this Epistle, Phi 2:25,30 4:18; answerable to Luke's history of the Acts, and to what is written by Peter, 1Pe 4:11; taking in what Paul wrote to Timothy about this office, in distinction from his who was to be apt to teach, that he should be grave, temperate, giving proof of freedom from covetousness, of conversation blameless, having a faithful wife, and governing his family (that he may be hospitable) orderly, 1Ti 3:8-13, qualified to distribute, as in the texts forementioned, &c. The Church of England, in her ordination, hath reference to this special office, when yet it calls deacons, ministers; declaring there, 'It appertains to the deacon's office to assist the presbyter in distribution of the elements, gladly and willingly to search for the poor, sick, and impotent, that they may be relieved. Praying that they may be modest, humble, and constant in their ministration.'"

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,.... The apostle sets his own name first, as being not only superior to Timothy in age, in office, and in character, but the sole writer of this epistle. The reasons of his joining Timothy with him are, because he was with him when he first preached at Philippi, and so was known unto the Philippians, and respected by them; and because he was about to send him to them again, whose commendations he enlarges on in the epistle itself; and to let them see, that there was a continued agreement between them in affection and doctrine. It shows indeed great humility in the apostle to join with him one so young, and so much inferior to him on all accounts; though it must be observed, that Timothy was not a partner with him in composing the epistle; he only joined in the salutation to this church, and approved of the letter to it, and might be the amanuensis of the apostle; but had no hand in the epistle itself, which was dictated by Paul under divine inspiration. He chooses a character which agreed to them both; he does not say apostles, for Timothy was no apostle, though he himself was, but "servants of Jesus Christ"; not of men; nor did they seek to please men by preaching the doctrines and commandments of men, and which are suited to the carnal reasonings, lusts, and pleasures of men; for then the character here assumed would not belong to them: but servants of Christ; and that not in such sense only as all mankind are, or in right ought to be, since all are his creatures, and therefore ought to serve him; nor merely as all the saints in common are, being bought with the price of Christ's blood, and being effectually called by his grace, and so made willing to serve him from a principle of love, without servile fear, and with a view to his glory; but as ministers of the word, and preachers of the Gospel; they were his servants in the Gospel, they served him under the ministerial character, and as such were the servants of the most high God, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; so that this title is far from being mean and despicable, it is high, honourable, and glorious,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons. The persons to whom this epistle is inscribed are here described by the place of their abode, Philippi, and by the various characters they bore in the church; which was at this time very numerous, consisting of many members, and of proper officers, and are both taken notice of here. The members are meant by "all the saints in Christ Jesus"; they were saints or holy persons, not by Moses and his law; not by ceremonial ablutions and sacrifices, which only sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, but could not take away sin, or cleanse from it; nor by themselves and their moral righteousness; for though thereby men, nay outwardly appear holy and righteous, yet they remain inwardly unholy and impure; nor by baptism, which has no regenerating nor sanctifying virtue in it; if persons are not saints before that, they are never by it; it leaves them as it finds them, and neither takes away original or actual sin: but these were saints in and by Christ; they were become holy in consequence of being in Christ; men are first in Christ, and then saints in him; they are chosen "in him" before the world began to be holy, and in time are made new men, new creatures, are created in him unto good works by virtue of their being in him; hence he sanctifies his church and people by his blood, they being so nearly related to him, and interested in him, and he in them; hence they being first of God in Christ, he is made sanctification to them; and hence internal holiness is wrought in them from Christ, by his Spirit; which being begun is carried on, and will be performed until the day of Christ; and which was the happy case of these Philippians, as the apostle was confident of. The officers of this church were "the bishops and deacons". The "bishops" were the pastors, elders, and overseers of the church, for a bishop and an elder is one and the same; see Acts 20:17; where the elders of the church at Ephesus are called "overseers" or "bishops"; for the same word is used there as here; and the Syriac version here renders the word by "elders": and they design no other than common and ordinary pastors; who have the name of elders from their age, gravity, and seniority; and that of bishops and overseers from the nature of their office, which is to feed, watch, inspect, and take the oversight of the flock, minister sound doctrine to them, and preserve them from error and heresies. It seems by this, and the instance of the church at Ephesus, that there were, and so may be, where there is necessity for it, more pastors or bishops than one in a church; unless it can be thought that there were more churches than one in each of these cities; or that the pastors of adjacent churches are here included; neither of which seem to be a clear case, but the contrary: but then these pastors or bishops were all upon an equal foot; one had not any authority or power over another, or more authority than another; they were not metropolitan or diocesan bishops, but pastors of a particular church; and were neither lords over one another, nor of God's heritage. The "deacons" were such as served tables, the Lord's table, the minister's table, and the poor's table; took care of the secular affairs of the church, received and disbursed moneys, kept the church's accounts, and provided everything necessary for its temporal good. The one sort of these officers were concerned with the souls and spiritual estate of the members of the church; the others with their bodies and temporal estate, by visiting the sick, relieving the poor, &c. and both these exhibit the true primitive plan of church offices and discipline; there being no other order of offices or officers, in a Christian church of divine institution, but pastors and deacons; whatever else is introduced is without warrant, and comes from the man of sin. These officers are mentioned by the apostle, not only to show his respect to them, but to observe to the members of this church, that they ought to esteem them highly for their works' sake; these being offices of great importance and usefulness to the church, which, by having such, was a truly organized church of Christ.

Paul {1} and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the {a} bishops and deacons:

(1) The Paul's point in writing this epistle, is to strengthen and encourage the Philippians by all means possible, not to faint, but more than that, to go forward. And first of all he commends their former deeds, to exhort them to go forward: which thing he says he fully hopes they will do, and that by the testimony of their abundant charity. But in the meantime he refers all things to the grace of God.

(a) By the bishops are meant both the pastors who have the dispensation of the word, and the elders that govern: and by deacons are meant those that were stewards of the treasury of the Church, and had to look after the poor.

Php 1:1-2. Καὶ Τιμόθ.] not as amanuensis, although he may have been so (comp. 1 Corinthians 16:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17; Colossians 4:18; and see on Galatians 6:11), for from Romans 16:22 we must assume that the amanuensis as such is not included in the superscription; nor yet merely as taking part in the greeting (Estius, Weiss), for Php 1:1 is the address of the epistle, and as such names those from whom it emanates; but as subordinate joint-writer of the letter (comp. on 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; Philemon 1:1), who, as a distinguished helper of the apostle, and well known to the readers, adopts the teachings, exhortations, etc. of the letter, which the apostle had previously discussed with him, as his own. At the same time, the apostle himself remains so completely the proper and principal writer of the epistle, that so early as Php 1:3 he begins to speak solely in his own person, and in Php 2:19 speaks of Timothy, who was to be sent to them, as a third person. Nevertheless this joint mention of Timothy must have been as accordant with the personal relation existing between the latter and the readers (Acts 16:10 ff; Acts 19:22), as it was serviceable in preparing the way for the intended sending of Timothy (Php 2:19), and generally edifying and encouraging as a testimony of the intimate fellowship between the apostle and his subordinate fellow-labourer.[45]

δοῦλοι Χ. ] The fact that Paul does not expressly assert his apostolic dignity by the side of Timothy (as in 2 Corinthians 1:1, Colossians 1:1), may be explained by the intimate and cordial relation in which he stood to the Philippians; for in regard to them he saw no external cause, and felt no internal need, for making this assertion; and we may assume the same thing in Philemon 1:1. The non-mention of his apostolic dignity in the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians is, considering the early date at which they were composed, to be similarly explained (see Lünemann on 1 Thessalonians 1:1). In their joint designation as δοῦλοι Ἰ. Χ. (see on Romans 1:1),—a designation resulting from the deep consciousness of the specific vocation of their lives (1 Corinthians 4:1),—both the apostleship of Paul and the official position of Timothy (comp. Romans 16:21 : Τιμόθ. ὁ συνεργός μου; Colossians 4:12) are included. Compare σύνδουλος, Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:7.

τοῖς ἁγίοις ἐν Χ. .] see on Romans 1:7, and on ἡγιασμένος ἐν Χ. ., 1 Corinthians 1:2.

σὺν ἐπισκ. κ. διακόν.] along with overseers and deacons. Paul writes to all[46] the Christians at Philippi (comp. Romans 1:7), bishops and deacons being expressly included (σύν, comp. Acts 14:5). As official designations, the words did not require the article (Kühner, ad. Xen. Anab. Php 3:5. 7: στρατηγοὶ δὲ καὶ λοχαγοί), although particular persons are meant (in opposition to Hofmann), who are regarded, however, just as office-bearers. The reason why the latter are specially mentioned in the salutation, in a way not found in any other epistle, must be sought in the special occasion of the letter, as the aid which had been conveyed to Paul could not have been collected without the guidance, and co-operation otherwise, of these office-bearers.[47] They might even have transmitted to him the money by means of an accompanying letter in the name of the church (Ewald; compare Hofmann); there is, however, no trace elsewhere of this. Arbitrary suggestions are made by Cornelius a Lapide and Grotius: that he thus arranged the salutation with reference to Epaphroditus, who was one of the ἐπίσκοποι; by Matthias: that the ἘΠΊΣΚΟΠΟΙ and ΔΙΆΚΟΝΟΙ had specially distinguished themselves among the Philippians by their zeal and energy; by Rilliet and Corn. Müller: that the intention was to describe the church as a regularly constituted one, or as an undivided whole (Rheinwald), a collective body organized into unity (Hofmann) (which, in fact, other churches to whom Paul wrote were also); or that, with the view of preventing disunion, Paul wished to suggest to them the recognition of the office as an antidote to self-exaltation (Wiesinger). Other expositors have given yet other explanations.

The writing of the words as one: συνεπισκόποις (B** D*** K, Chrysost. Theophyl. min.) is to be rejected, because ΣῪΝ would be without appropriate reference, and the epistle is addressed to the whole community. See already Theodore of Mopsuestia.

As to the bishops, called from their official duty ἐπίσκοποι (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7), or figuratively ΠΟΙΜΈΝΕς (Ephesians 4:11), and after the Jewish theocratic analogy ΠΡΕΣΒΎΤΕΡΟΙ, see on Acts 20:28, Ephesians 4:11. And how much the plural is at variance with the Catholic doctrine of the episcopate, see in Calovius. The absence also of any mention of presbyters[48] strikingly shows that the latter were still at that time identical with the bishops. Comp. particularly Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28; and see Ritschl, altkath. Kirche, p. 400 ff.; also J. B. Lightfoot, p. 93 ff., and Jul. Müller, dogmat. Abh. p. 581. Mistaken view in Döllinger’s Christenthum u. Kirche, p. 308, ed. 2, who makes out of σύζυγε γνήσιε the bishop κατʼ ἐξοχήν. As to the διακονία, the care of the poor, sick, and strangers, comp. on Romans 12:7; Romans 16:1; 1 Corinthians 12:28. We may add that the placing of the officials after the church generally, which is not logically requisite, and the mere subjoining of them by σὺν, are characteristic of the relation between the two, which had not yet undergone hierarchical dislocation. Comp. Acts 15:4; Hebrews 13:24. Cornelius a Lapide, following Thomas Aquinas, sagely observes, that “the shepherd who rules goes behind the flock!

Php 1:1-2. SALUTATION.

Ch. Php 1:1-2. Greeting

1. Paul] See Acts 13:9. The Apostle probably bore, from infancy, both the two names, Saul (Saoul, Saulus) and Paul. See on Ephesians 1:1, and Romans, p. 8, in this Series.

Timotheus] Named 24 times in N. T. See Acts 16:1 for his parentage and early home, and for indications of his character as man and Christian cp. 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10-11; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:4-5; and especially below, Php 2:19-22. His association with St Paul was intimate and endeared, and his connexion with the Philippian Church was close. See Acts 16, where it is clearly implied that with Silas he accompanied St Paul on his first visit to Philippi (cp. Acts 17:14, and below, Php 2:22), though for unknown reasons he did not share the maltreatment of his friends. Later, Acts 20:4, he appears accompanying St Paul from Macedonia to Asia Minor, and the mention of Philippi, Acts 20:6, makes it practically certain that by then Philippi had been visited again. With Macedonia generally, including of course Thessalonica, we find his name often connected; see mentions of him in Acts 17 and Acts 19:22; 2 Cor. (written in Macedonia) Php 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:6.—His name is associated as here with St Paul’s 2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1.—In this Epistle the association begins and ends with this verse, and the Apostle writes at once in the singular number. It is otherwise in 2 Cor., Col., and Thess.

the servants] Bondservants, slaves. The word is used by St Paul of himself (with or without his missionary brethren), Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Titus 1:1. Cp. Acts 20:19; Acts 27:23; Galatians 6:17. He was a bondservant, in the absolute possession of his redeeming Lord, not only as an apostle but as a Christian; but he loves to emphasize the fact in connexion with his special mode of service. On the principles and conditions of the believer’s sacred and happy bondservice see e.g. Matthew 6:24; Luke 17:7-10; Romans 6:19; Romans 7:6; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:22; Ephesians 6:7; 2 Timothy 2:24. The word with its imagery conveys the truth that the spiritual bondservant is altogether and always not only the helper, or agent, but the property and implement of his Master; having no rights whatever as against Him. Only, the Master being what He is, this real bondage is transfigured always into the “perfect freedom” of the regenerate and loving heart.

of Jesus Christ] Better, on documentary evidence, of Christ Jesus. This order of our blessed Lord’s Name and Title is almost peculiar to St Paul, and is the most frequent of the two orders in his writings. It is calculated that he uses it (assuming the latest researches in the Greek text to shew right results) 87 times, and “Jesus Christ” 78 (see The Expositor, May, 1888). The slight emphasis on “Christ” is suggestive of a special reference of thought to the Lord in glory.

the saints] Holy ones; men separated from sin to God. The word takes the man, or the community, on profession; as being what they ought to be. This is not to lower the native meaning of the word, but to use a well-understood hypothesis in the application of it. A saint is not merely a professing follower of Christ, but a professing follower assumed to be what he professes. He who is not this is in name only and not in deed a saint, faithful, a child of God, and the like. See Appendix B.

in Christ Jesus] Holy ones, because united in Life and Covenant, by grace, to the Holy One of God. See further on Ephesians 1:1, and below, on Php 1:8.

Philippi] See Introduction, p. 10, &c.

with the bishops and deacons] In this address the laity come before the clergy.—“With,” because these persons, though merely some of “the saints” as men, were differenced from the others by office. Apart from all questions in detail on the Christian Ministry, observe this primeval testimony to some already established and recognized order and regimen in a young Church; to a special “oversight” and “service” committed to not all but some.—The “bishop” (episcopus) of this passage is identical with the “presbyter” of e.g. Acts 20:17, called episcopus there, Php 1:28. For further remarks on the offices here mentioned, see Appendix C.


“It is universally admitted … that Scripture makes use of presumptive or hypothetical language.… It is generally allowed that when all Christians are addressed in the New Testament as ‘saints,’ ‘dead to sin,’ ‘alive unto God,’ ‘risen with Christ,’ ‘having their conversation in heaven,’ and in other like modes, they are addressed so hypothetically, and not to express the literal fact that all the individuals so addressed were of this character; which would not have been true.… Some divines have indeed preferred as a theological arrangement a secondary sense of [such terms] to the hypothetical application of it in its true sense. But what is this secondary sense when we examine it? It is itself no more than the true sense hypothetically applied.… Divines have … maintained a Scriptural secondary sense of the term ‘saint,’ as ‘saint by outward vocation and charitable presumption’ (Pearson on the Creed, Art. ix.); but this is in very terms only the real sense of the term applied hypothetically.”

J. B. Mozley: Review of Baptismal Controversy, p. 74 (ed. 1862).


These words have suggested to Bp Lightfoot an Essay on the rise, development, and character, of the Christian Ministry, appended to his Commentary on the Epistle (pp. 189–269). The Essay is in fact a treatise, of the greatest value, calling for the careful and repeated study of every reader to whom it is accessible. Along with it may be usefully studied a paper on the Christian Ministry in The Expositor for July, 1887, by the Rev. G. Salmon, D.D., now Provost of Trinity College, Dublin.

All we do here is to discuss briefly the two official titles of the Philippian ministry, and to add a few words on the Christian Ministry in general.

Bishops, Episcopi, i.e. Overseers. The word occurs here, and Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7; besides 1 Peter 2:25, where it is used of our Lord. The cognate noun, episcopê, occurs Acts 1:20 (in a quotation from the O.T.); 1 Timothy 3:1; and in three other places not in point. The cognate verb, episcopeîn, occurs Hebrews 12:15 (in a connexion not in point); 1 Peter 5:2.

On examination of these passages it appears that within the lifetime of SS. Peter and Paul there existed, at least very widely, a normal order of Church-officers called Episcopi, Superintendents. They were charged no doubt with many varied duties, some probably semi-secular. But above all they had spiritual oversight of the flock. They were appointed not by mere popular vote, certainly not by self-designation, but in some special sense “by the Holy Ghost” (Acts 20:28). This phrase may perhaps be illustrated by the mode of appointment of the first “deacons” (Acts 6:3), who were presented by the Church to the Apostles, for confirmatory ordination, as men already (among other marks of fitness) “full of the Holy Ghost.”

The episcopus was evidently not an official comparatively rare; there were more episcopi than one in the not very large community of Philippi.

Meanwhile we find another designation of Church-officers who are evidently in the same way shepherds and leaders of the flock; Presbyteri, Elders. They are mentioned first, without comment, at the time of the martyrdom of James the Great. See Acts 11:30; Acts 14:23; Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22-23; Acts 16:4; Acts 20:17; Acts 21:18; 1 Timothy 5:1; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Timothy 5:19; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1 (and perhaps 5). See also 2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1. These elders appear Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; as “constituted” in local congregations by an Apostle, or by his immediate delegate.

It is clear that the N.T. episcopus and presbyterus are in fact the same official under differing designations; episcopus, a term borrowed mainly from the Gentiles, with whom it signified a superintending commissioner; presbyterus, from the “Eldership” of the Jews. This appears from Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28Php 1:1. Δοῦλοι, the servants) Paul writes more familiarly to the Philippians than to those to whom, in writing, he calls himself an apostle. Under this common predicate, he very courteously joins Timothy with himself, who, by his means, was called to be a disciple, and who, having recently joined Paul, had come to Philippi, Acts 16:3; Acts 16:12.—σὺν, with) The Church is superior to the bishops; and the apostolic writing is sent more directly to the Church than to the presiding ministers; Hebrews 13:24; Ephesians 3:4; Colossians 3:18, etc., Colossians 4:17; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:12.—ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις, with the bishops and deacons) At that time the former properly managed the internal, the latter the external affairs of the Church, 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Timothy 3:8; the latter, however, were not excluded from care about the internal affairs, nor the former about the external. Sometimes Paul, in the inscriptions, calls them churches; sometimes he uses a periphrasis, which either signifies something greater, as we have remarked at 1 Corinthians 1:2, or is used because, as in the instance of the Romans, they had not yet been fully reduced to the form of a church. This epistle to the Philippians alone is so inscribed as to connect the mention of the bishops and deacons with the emphatic paraphrase.[1]

[1] Michaelis (in der Enleitung, etc., T. I. p. m. 165, sq.) confirms the venerable antiquity of the Syriac Version of the N. T. from the fact, that in this passage it uses the word elders for bishops, and therefore it was made at that time when the real difference between bishops and presbyters was not yet known.—E. B.

Verse 1. - Paul and Timotheus. St. Paul does not assume his official title in writing to the Macedonian Churches, Philippi and Thessalonica; it is used in all his other Epistles, except the short letter to Philemon. His relations to the Philippians and Thessalonians were those of the deepest personal affection; there was no need of a formal introduction, especially in an Epistle which has so little of an official character as this to the Philippians. He joins the name of Timothy with his own, as in 2 Corinthians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Thus Timothy is associated with St. Paul in every Epistle in which another name is found except 1 Corinthians, where Sosthenes only is mentioned; this shows the intimate affection that bound St. Paul to his "own son in the faith." There was a special reason for mentioning Timothy in this Epistle, as he was so well known to the Philippians, and St. Paul was intending (Philippians 2:19) to send him shortly to Philippi. But St. Paul writes in his own name from the beginning. Timothy was not in any sense a joint author; he may possibly have been St. Paul's amanuensis, as Tertius was in the case of the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 16:22). Possibly also motives of humility led St. Paul to insert other names besides his own; but it was not to support his teaching by additional authority - he was "an apostle, not of man, neither by man," and needed not the weight of other names. The servants of Jesus Christ; slaves, literally: "made free from sin and become servants [slaves] to God," whose service is perfect freedom. We belong to him: he he is our Master (κύριος δεσπότης) as well as Father, we are his slaves as well as his sons: "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price." Compare the words of the "damsel possessed with a spirit of divination" at Philippi: "These men are the servants [slaves] of the most high God." She felt the difference between her state and theirs; she was the slave of her Philip-plan masters, of the evil spirit too; St. Paul and his companion were the slaves of God most high. In the best manuscripts, as in the R.V., "Christ" is put before "Jesus" here. The apostle frequently sets the official before the personal name of our Lord; possibly because he knew not the Lord Jesus after the flesh, but saw him first as the Messiah, the Christ of God. To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi. The word "all" is of very frequent occurrence in this Epistle. There may possibly be a reference to the dissensions alluded to in ch. 4:2; or, as some think, to the supplies sent for St. Paul's assistance; he addresses all alike, not only those who contributed; he does not recognize their divisions. But it is, perhaps, only the natural expression of his warm affection: the apostle was beloved by all the Philippians, and all were dear to him; there was no hostile faction there, as at Corinth and else where. Compare the affectionate repetition, "always," "every," "all," in Ver. 4. St. Paul uses the word "saint" as the general name for his converts, like "Christian." The word "Christian" occurs only three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Christ's people are called "brethren," "disciples," or "saints." Thus St. Paul addresses the Corinthians generally as "saints," though many of them were far from possessing holiness of heart and life. The ancient Church was holy; the Israelites are called "a holy nation," "saints of the Most High." They were holy by God's election, his chosen people, separated unto him by the rite of circumcision. By the same election the Christian Church is holy, dedicated to God in baptism. This holiness of dedication (comp. 1 Corinthians 7:14) does not necessarily involve the actual existence of that inner holiness of heart "without which no man shall see the Lord." But it does imply the bounden duty of striving after that spiritual holiness. "Ye are the temple of the living God," St. Paul says to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 6:16). "for God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people... therefore... let us cleanse ourselves from el! filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." The Greek word ἅγιος (in our translation sometimes "holy," sometimes "saint") is the usual rendering for the Hebrew קָדושׁ. The primary idea of the Hebrew word seems to be that of separation - separation from all that defileth. God is "of purer eyes than to behold evil;" those who are dedicated to him must strive by his grace to purify themselves even as he is pure. "Be ye holy, for I am holy." In Christ Jesus. They are saints in virtue of their relation to Christ. They were once" baptized into one body" - the mystical body of Christ. Holiness of dedication can issue in holiness of heart and life only by abiding in him (comp. John 15:4-6). All saints are one body in Christ; they are knit together into one communion and fellowship by their personal union with the one Lord. With the bishops and deacons. In the New Testament the word ἐπίσκοπος is synonymous with πρεσβύτερος (comp. Acts 20:17; 1 Peter 5:1, 2; 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Titus 1:5-7). St. Paul is addressing the elders of the Church at Philippi, not bishops in our sense of the word. It is possible that Epaphroditus may have been the presiding bishop of the Church (see notes on Philippians 2:25 and Philippians 4:3). If so, we see a reason why the second and third orders of the ministry only are mentioned, as Epaphroditus was the bearer of the Epistle. But diocesan episcopacy does not seem to have become general till the last quarter of the first century. We know that Paul and Barnabas "ordained elders in every Church" in their first missionary journey; we need not, therefore, be surprised at the mention of these official designations in this Epistle, which was written seventeen or eighteen years later. St. Paul's address to the elders of the Church at Ephesus shows the importance which he attached to the office and to the faithful performance of its duties. Perhaps "the bishops and deacons" are specially mentioned here as having collected. the contributions sent to St. Paul; so Chrysostom and Meyer. On the whole subject, see Bishop Lightfoot's exhaustive 'Dissertation on the Christian Ministry,' in his volume on the Epistle to the Philippians. Philippians 1:1Paul

The official designation is omitted, as in 1 and 2 Thessalonians nd Philemon. It is not easy to explain the use or omission of the title apostle in all cases. Here, and in Philemon and 1 Thessalonians, its omission may be accounted for by the general, unofficial, personal, affectionate character of the letter. In 2 Corinthians nd Galatians the reason for its use is apparent from the fact that Paul's official authority had been assailed. But it is also omitted in 2 Thessalonians, which has an admonitory and rebuking character. Its use in the epistles to Timothy and Titus, private letters, is explained by the fact that Paul is addressing them not only as friends, but as pastors. In Romans, while there is no evidence of any challenge of his apostolic claims, there is an authoritative exposition of Christian doctrine which appears to warrant the title.


Associated with Paul as in the introductions to 2 Corinthians nd the two Thessalonian epistles. Timothy assisted Paul in founding the Philippian church Acts 16:1, Acts 16:13; Acts 17:14. Two visits of Timothy to Philippi are recorded, Acts 19:22; Acts 20:3, Acts 20:4. He is evidently preparing for a third visit, see Philippians 2:19. His only part in this letter is his name in the salutation, and in Philippians 2:19.

To all the saints (πᾶσιν τοῖς ἀγίοις)

In Paul's personal addresses in this epistle the word all occurs nine times. It is sufficiently accounted for by the expansiveness of grateful christian feeling which marks the entire letter, and it is doubtful whether it has any definite or conscious connection with the social rivalries hinted at in the epistle, and which call forth exhortations to unity, as if Paul were disclaiming all partisan feeling by the use of the term. For saints, see on Colossians 1:2; see on Romans 1:7. The word is transferred from the Old Testament. The Israelites were called ἅγιοι holy, separated and consecrated, Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2, Deuteronomy 14:21; Daniel 7:18, Daniel 7:22, etc. The christian Church has inherited the title and the privileges of the Jewish nation. Hence it is ἔθνος ἅγιον a holy nation, 1 Peter 2:9. The term implies, but does not assert, actual, personal sanctity. It is a social, not a personal epithet. See on Acts 26:10.


In Macedonia. Travellers by sea landed at Neapolis, and then travelled ten miles to Philippi along the Via Egnatia, which traversed Macedonia from east to west. The site was originally occupied by a town called Datus or Datum, and was known as Krenides from its numerous springs. It was called Philippi in honor of Philip of Macedon, who enlarged and fortified it. Its situation was important, commanding the great high road between Europe and Asia. This fact led to its fortification by Philip, and made it, later, the scene of the decisive battle which resulted in the defeat of Brutus and Cassius. Its soil was productive and rich in mineral treasures, which had yielded a large revenue, but which, in Paul's time, had apparently become exhausted.

Augustus planted at Philippi a colonia. See on Acts 16:12. A variety of national types assembled there - Greek, Roman, and Asiatic - representing different phases of philosophy, religion, and superstition. It was therefore an appropriate starting-point for the Gospel in Europe, a field in which it could demonstrate its power to deal with all differences of nation, faith, sex, and social standing.

Bishops (ἐπισκόποις)

Lit., overseers. See on visitation, 1 Peter 2:12. The word was originally a secular title, designating commissioners appointed to regulate a newly-acquired territory or a colony. It was also applied to magistrates who regulated the sale of provisions under the Romans. In the Septuagint it signifies inspectors, superintendents, taskmasters, see 2 Kings 11:19; 2 Chronicles 34:12, 2 Chronicles 34:17; or captains, presidents, Nehemiah 11:9, Nehemiah 11:14, Nehemiah 11:22. In the apostolic writings it is synonymous with presbyter or elder; and no official distinction of the episcopate as a distinct order of the ministry is recognized. Rev. has overseers in margin.

Deacons (διακόνοις)

The word means servant, and is a general term covering both slaves and hired servants. It is thus distinct from δοῦλος bond-servant. It represents a servant, not in his relation, but in his activity. In the epistles it is often used specifically for a minister of the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Ephesians 3:7. Here it refers to a distinct class of officers in the apostolic church. The origin of this office is recorded Acts 6:1-6. It grew out of a complaint of the Hellenistic or Graeco-Jewish members of the Church, that their widows were neglected in the daily distribution of food and alms. The Palestinian Jews prided themselves on their pure nationality and looked upon the Greek Jews as their inferiors. Seven men were chosen to superintend this matter, and generally to care for the bodily wants of the poor. Their function was described by the phrase to serve tables, Acts 6:2, and their appointment left the apostles free to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word. The men selected for the office are supposed to have been Hellenists, from the fact that all their names are Greek, and one is especially described as a proselyte, Acts 6:5; but this cannot be positively asserted, since it was not uncommon for Jews to assume Greek names. See on Romans 16:5. The work of the deacons was, primarily, the relief of the sick and poor; but spiritual ministrations naturally developed in connection with their office. The latter are referred to by the term helps, 1 Corinthians 12:28. Stephen and Philip especially appear in this capacity, Acts 8:5-40; Acts 6:8-11. Such may also be the meaning of ministering, Romans 12:7. Hence men of faith, piety, and sound judgment were recommended for the office by the apostles, Acts 6:3; 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Women were also chosen as deaconesses, and Phoebe, the bearer of the epistle to the Romans, is commonly supposed to have been one of these. See on Romans 16:1.

Ignatius says of deacons: "They are not ministers of food and drink, but servants (ὐπηρέται, see on Matthew 5:25) of the Church of God" ("Epistle to Tralles," 2). "Let all pay respect to the deacons as to Jesus Christ" ("Tralles," 3). "Respect the deacons as the voice of God enjoins you" ("Epistle to Smyrna," 8). In "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" the local churches or individual congregations are ruled by bishops and deacons. "Elect therefore for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord; men meek and not lovers of money, and truthful and approved; for they too minister to you the ministry of the prophets and teachers. Therefore despise them not, for they are those that are the honored among you with the prophets and teachers" (xv., 1, 2). Deaconesses are not mentioned.

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