Philippians 1:10
That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
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(10) That ye may be sincere and without offence.—This St. Paul contemplates as the result of thoughtful and discriminating judgment. The word “sincere” (used only here and in 2Peter 1:3), and the corresponding substantive, “sincerity” (1Corinthians 5:8; 2Corinthians 1:12; 2Corinthians 2:17), although there is some uncertainty as to their derivation, undoubtedly signify purity tested and found clear of all base admixtures. The word “without offence” is used in Acts 24:16 (“a conscience void of offence”) for that which is free from the stumbling of error; and in 1Corinthians 10:32 (“giving none offence”) for that at which none will stumble. The latter sense (nearly equivalent to the “unreprovable” of Colossians 1:22) better suits this passage. For “sincere” describes the positive aspect of purity; “without offence” the more negative aspect, in which it is found to present no excuse for fault-finding or scandal. It is, therefore, the “sincerity,” not of unconscious innocence, but of well-tried and thoughtful purity, proof even against suspicion, which St. Paul describes as the perfect fruit of love “overflowing in knowledge.”

1:8-11 Shall not we pity and love those souls whom Christ loves and pities? Those who abound in any grace, need to abound more. Try things which differ; that we may approve the things which are excellent. The truths and laws of Christ are excellent; and they recommend themselves as such to any attentive mind. Sincerity is that in which we should have our conversation in the world, and it is the glory of all our graces. Christians should not be apt to take offence, and should be very careful not to offend God or the brethren. The things which most honour God will most benefit us. Let us not leave it doubtful whether any good fruit is found in us or not. A small measure of Christian love, knowledge, and fruitfulness should not satisfy any.That ye may approve things - Margin, "Or, try." The word used here denotes the kind of trial to which metals are exposed in order to test their nature; and the sense here is, that the apostle wished them so to try the things that were of real value, as to discern that which was true and genuine.

That are excellent - Margin: Or, "differ." The margin here more correctly expresses the sense of the Greek word. The idea is, that he wished them to be able to distinguish between things that differed from each other; to have an intelligent apprehension of what was right and wrong - of what was good and evil. He would not have them love and approve all things indiscriminately. They should be esteemed according to their real value. It is remarkable here how anxious the apostle was not only that they should be Christians, but that they should be intelligent Christians, and should understand the real worth and value of objects.

That ye may be sincere - See the notes at Ephesians 6:24. The word used here - εἰλικρινής eilikrinēs - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in 2 Peter 3:1, where it is rendered "pure." The noun εἰλικρίνεια eilikrineia, however, occurs in 1 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 2:17; in all which places it is rendered "sincerity." The word properly means, "that which is judged in sunshine" εἵλῃ κρίνω heilē krinō; and then "that which is clear and manifest." It is that over which there are no clouds; which is not doubtful and dark; which is pure and bright. The word "sincere" means literally without wax (sine cera); that is, honey which is pure and transparent. Applied to Christian character, it means that which is not deceitful, ambiguous, hypocritical; that which is not mingled with error, worldliness, and sin; that which does not proceed from selfish and interested motives, and where there is nothing disguised. There is no more desirable appellation that can be given to a man than to say that he is sincere - a sincere friend, benefactor, Christian; and there is nothing more lovely in the character of a Christian than sincerity. It implies:

(1) that he is truly converted - that he has not assumed Christianity as a mask;

(2) that his motives are disinterested and pure;

(3) that his conduct is free from double-dealing, trick, and cunning;

(4) that his words express the real sentiments of his heart;

(5) that he is true to his word, and faithful to his promises; and,

(6) that he is always what he professes to be. A sincere Christian would bear to have the light let in upon him always; to have the emotions of his heart seen; to be scanned everywhere, and at all times, by people, by angels, and by God.

And without offence - Inoffensive to others. Not injuring them in property, feelings, or reputation. This is a negative virtue, and is often despised by the world. But it is much to say of a man that he injures no one; that neither by example, nor opinions, nor conversation, he leads them astray; that he never does injustice to their motives, and never impedes their influence; that he never wounds their feelings, or gives occasion for hard thoughts; and that he so lives that all may see that his is a blameless life.

Till the day of Christ - See the notes at Philippians 1:6.

10. Literally, "With a view to your proving (and so approving and embracing) the things that excel" (Ro 2:18); not merely things not bad, but the things best among those that are good; the things of more advanced excellence. Ask as to things, not merely, Is there no harm, but is there any good, and which is the best?

sincere—from a Greek root. Examined in the sunlight and found pure.

without offence—not stumbling; running the Christian race without falling through any stumbling-block, that is, temptation, in your way.

till—rather, "unto," "against"; so that when the day of Christ comes, ye may be found pure and without offense.

i.e. To the ends he subjoins, namely, that ye may approve things that are excellent; that upon a due expense of circumstances in a judicious trial, upon rightly discerning the differences of things not obvious to every eye, so as to choose and approve those things that are really to be preferred, being the best, Romans 2:18 1 Thessalonians 5:21 surpassing all desirable things besides, Ephesians 3:19, as being most acceptable unto God, Romans 12:2.

That ye may be sincere; and be upright, Proverbs 11:20. It is all emphatical word in the original here, being borrowed either from such things as are tried by being held up at the beams of the sun to see What faults or flaws are in them, whether without fraud, or else from such as are clarified by the heat of the sun; and notes here, that Paul would have them to be uncorrupt and impartial in heart and life, in faith and manners; free from prevailing corruptions, of pure minds, 2 Peter 3:1; purged from the old leaven, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; not suffering the knowledge of Christ to be mixed with traditions and human inventions, but endowed with evangelical simplicity in the sight of God, 2 Corinthians 1:12 1 Timothy 1:5 5:22.

And without offence; not erring from the main scope and design of Christianity, or stumbling, so as either actively or passively to trouble and offend either themselves or others in the heavenly course, but working so prudently, as to give no just occasion of scandal, or laying a snare for one or other, Matthew 18:7 Acts 24:16 1 Corinthians 10:32; abiding blameless to the coming of Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

Till the day of Christ: see on Philippians 1:6; repeated here to engage them unto serious thoughtfulness of that day.

That ye may approve things that are excellent,.... Or "try things that differ". There are some things that differ one from other; as morality and grace, earthly things, and heavenly things, carnal and spiritual, temporal and eternal things, law and Gospel, the doctrines of men, and the doctrines of Christ; all which differ as much as chaff and wheat, as gold, silver, precious stones, and wood, hay, stubble. These are to be tried and proved; they are not to be received without distinction, but should be examined, which is right and best to be chosen and preferred; and to such trial and examination it is necessary that a man should be transformed, by the renewing of his mind, that he should have spiritual light, knowledge, and experience, have his spiritual senses exercised to discern the difference of things, and also the guidance, direction, and influence of the Spirit of God: and this trial must be made, not according to carnal reason, and the judgment and dictates of it; for the most excellent things are above it, and out of its sphere, and therefore judged foolish, and rejected by it; but according to the word of God, the Scriptures of truth, in the light of the divine Spirit, and with spiritual judgment and sense; when some things will be found excellent, as Christ, and the knowledge of him in his person, offices, grace, righteousness, blood, sacrifice, and satisfaction, and the several truths of the Gospel relating to peace, pardon, justification, adoption, sanctification, and eternal life; and of the several doctrines of the Gospel, some will appear in their nature and use more excellent than others, more grand and sublime; such as concern the sovereign and distinguishing grace of God, the glory of Christ, and the salvation of the elect; some being milk for babes, others meat for strong men. And these being tried and proved, first by the word of God, and then by the experience of the saints, are to be approved above thousands of gold and silver, and esteemed more than our necessary food; even the sincere milk of the word, as it is by newborn babes, as well as the strong meat of it by the adult, and all to be highly valued and abode by, and held fast,

That ye may be sincere; or "pure", as the Syriac version renders it; pure as the sun, discerned and judged by the light of it, as the word signifies, which discovers motes, faults, and flaws; in which, some think, is a metaphor taken either from the eagle, which holds up its young against the sun, and such as can bear the light of it she retains as her own, but such that cannot she rejects as a spurious brood; or from persons in business, who hold up the goods they are buying to the sun, to see if they can observe any fault in them: so such may be said to be sincere, or pure, who are pure in heart, life, and conversation, whose principles and practices will bear the test of light; such are sincere, who are like honey without wax, and fine flour without leaven, that have no mixture of corruption in doctrine, life, or manners; whose grace is genuine and right; whose faith is unfeigned; whose love to God, and Christ, and one another, is without dissimulation; whose hope is lively, and of a soul purifying nature, and is built on a good foundation; and whose repentance is attended with genuine effects, and proper fruits; whose principles are unmixed; who do not corrupt or adulterate the word of God, but desire and retain the sincere milk of it, and hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience; whose worship is also pure and spiritual, who worship God in spirit and truth, under the influence, and by the assistance of the Spirit of God, and with their whole hearts and spirits, and according to the truth of the Gospel; who keep the ordinances as they were delivered, without any human inventions, corruptions, and mixtures; who are sincere in their hearts, pure and sound in heart, simple, plain hearted, and single eyed; choose to be good, rather than seem to be so; whose desires after God, and divine things, and whose affections for them, are true and real, and proceed from the bottom of their hearts; and who have their conversation in the world by the grace of God, in simplicity and godly sincerity; and such the apostle wishes these saints to be, and adds,

and without offence until the day of Christ; to God, as considered in the righteousness of Christ, in which they are perfectly without offence, and will always continue so; or in their walk and conversation before God, in which, though they may in many things offend, yet not be guilty of any notorious iniquity, and much less of living in it: and to themselves, to their own consciences, exercising a conscience void of offence towards God and men; acting according to that light they have received, and those principles they have embraced and professed; desiring to be kept from all evil, that it might not grieve and wound them; and doing nothing in things of an indifferent nature, with offence, or against the dictates of conscience, and to the violation of it: and also to others, to Jew or Gentile, to the world, or to the church of God, by avoiding every thing that is offensive to either; not good things, but evil ones, and those that are indifferent; that peace may be preserved, and their own good may not be evil spoken of; that the children of God may not be grieved, staggered, and stumbled, nor sinners hardened, or have any occasion to blaspheme. The phrase denotes an harmless life and conversation, and a continuance in it to the end, to the day of death, or coming of our Lord, which is to be loved, longed, wished, and looked for, and to be always had in view; and that to engage to a becoming life and conversation, with sincerity, and without offence, since in that day all hearts and actions will be exposed and laid open.

That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
Php 1:10-11. Εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν κ.τ.λ.] states the aim of the περισσ. ἐν ἐπιγν. κ. π. αἴσθ., and in ἵνα ἧτε εἰλικρ. κ.τ.λ. we have the ultimate design. δοκιμάζειν τὰ διαφέροντα is to be understood, as in Romans 2:18 : in order to approve that which is (morally) excellent. So the Vulgate, Chrysostom, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theophylact, Erasmus, Castalio, Grotius, Calovius, Estius, Bengel, Michaelis, Flatt, Rheinwald, Rilliet, Ewald, and others. See on διαφέρειν, praestantiorem esse (Dem. 1466. 22; Polyb. iii. 87. 1; Matthew 10:31), and τὰ διαφέροντα, praestantiora (Xen. Hier. i. 3; Dio Cass. xliv. 25), Sturz, Lex. Xen. I. p. 711 f. Comp. διαφερόντως, eximie (Plat. Prot. p. 349 D, and frequently). For δοκιμάζ., comp. Romans 14:22, et al. Others understand it as a testing of things which are morally different (Theodoret, Beza, Grotius, Wolf, and others; also Matthies, Hoelemann, van Hengel, de Wette, Corn. Müller, Wiesinger, Weiss, Huther). In point of usage, this is equally correct; see on δοκιμάζ., in both senses, 1 Thessalonians 2:4. But in our view the sense which yields a definition of the aim of the words περισσ. ἐν ἐπιγν. κ. π. αἰσθ., as well as the antecedent of the εἰλικρίνεια which follows, seems more consistent with the context. The testing of good and evil is not the aim, but the expression and function, of the ἐπίγνωσις and αἴσθησις. Looking at the stage of Christian life which must be assumed from Php 1:5; Php 1:7 (different in Romans 12:2), the former, as an aim, does not go far enough; and the εἰλικρίνεια is the result not of that testing, but of the approbation of the good. Hofmann’s view is therefore unsuitable, that it means the proving of that which is otherwise; otherwise, namely, than that towards which the Christian’s love is directed. This would amount merely to the thought of testing what is unworthy of being loved (= τὰ ἕτερα)—a thought quite out of keeping with the telic mode of expression.

εἰλικρινεῖς], pure, sincere = καθαρός; Plat. Phil. p. 52 D. Comp., on its ethical use, Plat. Phaedr. p. 66 A, and Stallbaum in loc., 81 C; 2 Peter 3:1; 1 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 2:17; Wis 7:25, and Grimm in loc.

ἀπρόσκοποι] practical proof of the εἰλικρίνεια in reference to intercourse with others (2 Corinthians 6:3): giving no offence; 1 Corinthians 10:32; Ignat. Trall. interpol. 7; Suicer, Thes. s.v. As Paul decidedly uses this word in an active sense in 1 Cor. l.c. (comp. Ecclus. 35:21), this meaning is here also to be preferred to the in itself admissible intransitive,—viz. not offending (Acts 24:16; comp. John 11:9),—in opposition to Ambrosiaster, Beza, Calvin, Hoelemann, de Wette, Weiss, Huther, Hofmann, and others.

εἰς ἡμέρ. Χ.], to, i.e. for, the day of Christ, when ye are to appear pure and blameless before the judgment seat. Comp. Php 2:16; Ephesians 4:30; Colossians 1:22; 2 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Timothy 1:12; also Judges 1:24 f. These passages show that the expression is not equivalent to the ἄχρις ἡμέρας Χ. in Php 1:6 (Luther, Erasmus, and others), but places what is said in relation to the decision, unveiling, and the like of the day of the Parousia, which is, however, here also looked upon as near.

Php 1:11. πεπλ. καρπὸν δικ.] modal definition of the εἰλικριν. κ. ἀπρόσκ., and that from the positive side of these attributes, which are manifested and tested in this fruitfulness—i.e. in this rich fulness of Christian virtue in their possessors. καρπὸς δικαιοσ. is the fruit which is the product of righteousness, which proceeds from a righteous moral state. Comp. καρπ. τοῦ πνεύματος, Galatians 5:22; κ. τοῦ φωτός, Ephesians 5:9; κ. δικαιοσύνης, Jam 3:18, Hebrews 12:11, Romans 6:21 f., Proverbs 11:30. In no instance is the genitive with καρπός that of apposition (Hofmann). The δικαιοσύνη here meant, however, is not justitia fidei (justificatio), as many, even Rilliet and Hoelemann, would make it, but, in conformity with Php 1:10, a righteous moral condition, which is the moral consequence, because the necessary vital expression, of the righteousness of faith, in which man now καρποφορεῖ τῷ Θεῷ ἐν καινότητι πνεύματος, Romans 7:5 f.; comp. Romans 6:2, Romans 8:2; Colossians 1:10. We must observe that the emphasis is laid not on δικαιοσύνης, but on καρπόν,—which therefore obtains more precise definition afterwards,—so that δικαιοσύνης conveys no new idea, but only represents the idea, already conveyed in Php 1:10, of the right moral condition. Comp. on δικαιοσύνη, Ephesians 5:9; Romans 6:13; Romans 6:18; Romans 6:20; Romans 14:17, et al.

On the accusative of the remote object, comp. Psalm 105:40; Psalm 147:14Php 1:10. δοκ. τὰ διαφ. Cf. Romans 2:18, δοκιμάζεις τὰ διαφ. Two possible renderings. (1) “Approve things that are excellent.” (2) “Test things that differ,” i.e., good and bad. Lft[4] opposes (2) on the ground that “it requires no keen moral sense to discriminate between good and bad”. But was not this precisely the great difficulty for heathen-Christians? Theophyl. defines τὰ διαφ. by τί δεῖ πρᾶξαι καὶ τί δεῖ μὴ πρᾶξαι. The idea seems to be borne out by the following εἰλικρ. and ἀπρόσκ. We are therefore compelled to decide for (2). “The fundamental choice arrived at in believing has to be reiterated continually in a just application of it to a world of varying and sometimes perplexing cases” (Rainy, Expos. Bib., p. 37). There are exx. of τὰ διαφ. in chap. 3 passim. Of course this δοκιμάζειν is made possible by the guidance of the indwelling Spirit. It shows us “the highest point which Paul reaches in his treatment of moral questions” (Hitzm., N.T. Theol., ii., p. 149, who points out as instances of his delicate moral tact the precepts given in 1 Corinthians 8-10, Romans 14).—εἰλικρ. κ. ἀπρόσκ. There is no warrant for adhering to the common derivation of εἰλικρ. from κρίνω compounded with either εἵλη (“heat of sun”) and so = “tested by sunbeam,” or εἵλη (= ἴλη “troops”) and so “separated into ranks”. The word is the equiv. of Lat. sincerus, “pure,” “unmixed”. A favourite term in Plato for pure intellect and also for the soul purged from sense. Cf. Phaedo, 66 [5], 67 [6], 81 B. Naturally transferred to the moral sphere. T. H. Green (Two Sermons, p. 41) describes εἰλικρίνεια as “perfect openness towards God”. ἀπρόσκ. will then mean, in all probability, “not giving offence” to others, the obverse side of εἰλικρ. This sense seems to us to be proved by 1 Corinthians 10:32 with the context, which is simply an expansion of Paul’s thought here. Cf. also 1 John 2:10.—εἰς ἡμέραν Χρ. εἰς has the meanings “with a view to” and “until,” which here shade off into each other. The conception of ἡμ. Χ. “grew in Paul’s hands to a whole æon, lasting from the παρουσία to the τέλος” (Beysch., N.T. Th., ii., p. 273).

[4] Lightfoot.

[5] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[6] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

10. That] Better, as better marking a close sequence on the last clause, so that.

approve] Better, in modern English, test. The spiritual “judgment” was to be thus applied.

things that are excellent] “the things, &c.” R.V. An alternative rendering is, that ye may prove (test) the things that differ; so margin R.V.; “that you may use your spiritual judgment in separating truth from its counterfeit, or distortion.” The two renderings come to much the same; for the “approval of the excellent thing” would be the immediate result of the “detection of its difference.” We prefer the margin R.V., however; first, as giving to the verb its rather more natural meaning, and then, as most congruous to the last previous thought, the growth of “judgment.”

that ye may be] It is implied that the process of “discernment” would never be merely speculative. It would be always carried into motive and conduct.

sincere] The idea of the Greek word is that of clearness, disengagement from complications. One derivation (favoured by Bp Lightfoot here) is military; from the orderly separateness of marshalled ranks. Another and commoner one is solar; from the detection of pollution by sunlight, with the thought of the clearness of what has passed such a test well.—The word “sincere” (from Lat. sincerus) has a possible connexion with “sin-gle,” and so with the idea of separation, disengagement, straightness of purpose. In Latin, it is the equivalent to our “unadulterated.”

without offence] I.e., “without stumbling-block” (Lat., offendiculum). Our common meaning of “offence,” with its special reference to grievances and pique, must be banished from thought in reading the English Bible. There these words are always used to represent original words referring to obstacles, stumbling, and the like. So e.g. 2 Corinthians 6:3, “giving no offence” means, presenting no obstacle such as to upset the Christian principle or practice of others.—“Without offence” here (one word in the Greek) may mean, grammatically, either “experiencing no such obstacle” or “presenting none.” The word occurs elsewhere only Acts 24:16; 1 Corinthians 10:32; and the evidence of these passages is exactly divided. On the whole the context here decides for the former alternative. The Apostle is more concerned at present with the inner motives than the outer example of the Philippians: he prays that the simplicity (sincerity) of their spiritual relations with God may be such as never to “upset” the inner workings of will and purpose.—Tyndale and Cranmer render here, “that ye may be pure, and such as (should) hurt no man’s conscience;” Geneva, “that ye may be pure, and go forward without any let.” So Beza’s Latin version.

till the day of Christ] Lit. unto, &c.; “against, in view of, the great crisis of eternal award.” Song of Solomon 2:16, where see note. On the phrase “the day of Christ” see note on Php 1:6, above.

Php 1:10. Δοκιμάζειν) prove and embrace, Romans 12:2.—τὰ διαφέροντα, the things that are excellent) not merely good in preference to bad, but the best among those that are good, of which none but those of more advanced attainments perceive the excellence. Truly we choose accurately in the case of things external, why not among things spiritual? Comparative theology is of great importance [from which they are farthest distant, who cease not to inquire (who are always asking), how far they may extend their liberty without sin.—V. g.]—εἰλικρινεῖς, sincere) According to knowledge.—ἀπρόσκοποι, without offence) According to all sense or judgment.

Verse 10. - That ye may approve things that are excellent. Love, issuing in spiritual discernment, would enable them to recognize, to test, to prove things that are excellent; so Bengel," Non modo prae malts bona, seal in bonds optima." This seems better than the alternative rendering, "to prove the things that differ" (comp. Romans 2:18). That ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ. Αἰλικρινής according to the common derivation (from εἵλη, sunlight, and κρίνω), means "judged in the full light of the sun," that is, pure, true; comp. John 2:21, "He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." According to another possible derivation, the word would mean "unmixed," that is, genuine, sincere. "Without offense" may be taken actively or passively; without giving offense (causing stumbling) to others, or without stumbling themselves. Perhaps the latter sense is more suitable here. He prays that the Philippians may be true and pure inwardly, and blameless in their outward lives. "Till," rather, "against the day of Christ." The preposition εἰς does not denote time only, as ἄχρις in Ver. 6; it implies preparation. Philippians 1:10Approve (δοκιμάζειν)

Sanction on test. See on 1 Peter 1:7.

Things which are excellent (τὰ διαφέροντα)

Unnecessary difficulty has been made in the explanation of this phrase. Love displays itself in knowledge and discernment. In proportion as it abounds it sharpens the moral perceptions for the discernment of what is best. The passage is on the line of 1 Corinthians 12:31, "Covet earnestly the best gifts," and the "more excellent way" to attain these gifts is love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). See on Romans 2:18, where the same phrase occurs, but with a different meaning. Some explain things which are morally different.

Sincere (εἱλικρινεῖς)

See on pure, 2 Peter 3:1.

Without offense (ἀπρόσκοποι)

See on Acts 24:16. It may be explained, not stumbling, or not causing others to stumble, as 1 Corinthians 10:32. Both senses may be included. If either is to be preferred it is the former, since the whole passage contemplates their inward state rather than their relations to men.

Till the day, etc. (εἰς)

Rev., unto. Better, against; with a view to.

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