Philippians 1:27
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
[3.Exhortation (Philippians 1:27 to Philippians 2:4).

(1)To STEADFASTNESS AND CONFIDENCE UNDER PERSECUTION (Philippians 1:27-30).

(2)To UNITY OF SPIRIT, based on humility and self-forgetfulness (Philippians 2:1-4).]

(27-30) In these verses St. Paul exhorts the Philippians to unanimous boldness and steadfastness, under some conflict of antagonism or persecution which threatened them at this time. Of the history of the Church at Philippi we have no historical record after the notice of St. Paul’s first visit, and of the violence which he then had to endure (Acts 16:12-40). But in 2Corinthians 7:5, written certainly from Macedonia, probably from Philippi, towards the close of the third missionary journey, we find St. Paul saying, “When we were come to Macedonia our flesh had no rest. Without were fightings, within were fears.” (Comp. also 2Corinthians 8:2 of the same Epistle.) It would seem, therefore, that the subsequent history of the Philippian Church corresponded only too well to the circumstances under which its Christianity first began.

(27) Let your conversation . . .—The original is here (as in the famous passage, Philippians 3:20), Use your citizenship (that is, of the kingdom of heaven) worthily of the gospel of Christ. The same word is employed by St. Paul in Acts 23:1 (“I have walked in all good conscience before God”), with an obvious reference to his citizenship in the chosen nation of Israel. Its use in this Epistle is suggestive—both as natural to one contemplating the great imperial city, and writing to the people of a Roman colony proud of their full citizenship, and also as leading on to that great conception of the unity of the Church in earth and in heaven, which is the main subject of the Ephesian, and in some degree of the Colossian, Epistle.

In one spirit, with one mind.—Rather, in one spirit, one soul. The phrase “in one spirit” may refer to the spirit of man, or to the Spirit of God. If it be intended to be strictly parallel to the “one soul” (which has no separate preposition in the Greek), the former sense is manifestly suggested. If, however, the words “with one soul” be connected, as is not unnatural, with “striving together,” this suggestion falls to the ground; and the usage of this Epistle (see especially Philippians 2:1-7), and the other Epistles of the same period (Ephesians 2:18-22; Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 5:18; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 1:8), certainly favours the latter interpretation. In either case “the soul” (as in the famous three-fold division of men’s nature in 1Thessalonians 5:23) is that element of humanity which is the seat of emotion and passion. (Comp. the “one heart and one soul” of Acts 4:32.) This element the Christianity of the New Testament, unlike Stoicism or asceticism, will not crush, but enlist, as it enlists the body also, in the free service of God.

Striving together for the faith.—Properly, with the faith. The faith of the gospel—the power of Christianity—is personified. The Philippians are to be combatants on the same side against the same foes (compare the use of the same word in Philippians 4:3). The metaphor seems drawn from the games, as is seen by the use of the simple verb in 2Timothy 2:8, “If a man strive . . . he is not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” In the exhortation to stand fast (comp. Ephesians 6:13-14) we have the element of passive endurance, here of active and aggressive energy.

Philippians

CITIZENS OF HEAVEN

Php 1:27-28We read in the Acts of the Apostles that Philippi was the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a ‘colony.’ Now, the connection between a Roman colony and Rome was a great deal closer than that between an English colony and England. It was, in fact, a bit of Rome on foreign soil.

The colonists and their children were Roman citizens. Their names were enrolled on the lists of Roman tribes. They were governed not by the provincial authorities, but by their own magistrates, and the law to which they owed obedience was not that of the locality, but the law of Rome.

No doubt some of the Philippian Christians possessed these privileges. They knew what it was to live in a community to which they were less closely bound than to the great city beyond the sea. They were members of a mighty polity, though they had never seen its temples nor trod its streets. They lived in Philippi, but they belonged to Rome. Hence there is a peculiar significance in the first words of our text. The rendering, ‘conversation,’ was inadequate even when it was made. It has become more so now. The word then meant ‘conduct.’ It now means little more than words. But though the phrase may express loosely the Apostle’s general idea, it loses entirely the striking metaphor under which it is couched. The Revised Version gives the literal rendering in its margin--’Behave as citizens’--though it adopts in its text a rendering which disregards the figure in the word, and contents itself with the less picturesque and vivid phrase--’let your manner of life be worthy.’ But there seems no reason for leaving out the metaphor; it entirely fits in with the purpose of the Apostle and with the context.

The meaning is, Play the citizen in a manner worthy of the Gospel. Paul does not, of course, mean, Discharge your civic duties as Christian men, though some Christian Englishmen need that reminder; but the city of which these Philippians were citizens was the heavenly Jerusalem, the metropolis, the mother city of us all. He would kindle in them the consciousness of belonging to another order of things than that around them. He would stimulate their loyalty to obedience to the city’s laws. As the outlying colonies of Rome had sometimes entrusted to them the task of keeping the frontiers and extending the power of the imperial city, so he stirs them up to aggressive warfare; and as in all their conflicts the little colony felt that the Empire was at its back, and therefore looked undaunted on shoals of barbarian foes, so he would have his friends at Philippi animated by lofty courage, and ever confident of final victory.

Such seems to be a general outline of these eager exhortations to the citizens of heaven in this outlying colony of earth. Let us think of them briefly in order now.

I. Keep fresh the sense of belonging to the mother city.

Paul was not only writing to Philippi, but from Rome, where he might see how, even in degenerate days, the consciousness of being a Roman gave dignity to a man, and how the idea became almost a religion. He would kindle a similar feeling in Christians.

We do belong to another polity or order of things than that with which we are connected by the bonds of flesh and sense. Our true affinities are with the mother city. True, we are here on earth, but far beyond the blue waters is another community, of which we are really members, and sometimes in calm weather we can see, if we climb to a height above the smoke of the valley where we dwell, the faint outline of the mountains of that other land, lying bathed in sunlight and dreamlike on the opal waves.

Therefore it is a great part of Christian discipline to keep a vivid consciousness that there is such an unseen order of things at present in existence. We speak popularly of ‘the future life,’ and are apt to forget that it is also the present life to an innumerable company. In fact, this film of an earthly life floats in that greater sphere which is all around it, above, beneath, touching it at every point.

It is, as Peter says, ‘ready to be unveiled.’ Yes, behind the thin curtain, through which stray beams of the brightness sometimes shoot, that other order stands, close to us, parted from us by a most slender division, only a woven veil, no great gulf or iron barrier. And before long His hand will draw it back, rattling with its rings as it is put aside, and there will blaze out what has always been, though we saw it not. It is so close, so real, so bright, so solemn, that it is worth while to try to feel its nearness; and we are so purblind, and such foolish slaves of mere sense, shaping our lives on the legal maxim that things which are non-apparent must be treated as non-existent, that it needs a constant effort not to lose the feeling altogether.

There is a present connection between all Christian men and that heavenly City. It not merely exists, but we belong to it in the measure in which we are Christians. All these figurative expressions about our citizenship being in heaven and the like, rest on the simple fact that the life of Christian men on earth and in heaven is fundamentally the same. The principles which guide, the motives which sway, the tastes and desires, affections and impulses, the objects and aims, are substantially one. A Christian man’s true affinities are with the things not seen, and with the persons there, however his surface relationship knit him to the earth. In the degree in which he is a Christian, he is a stranger here and a native of the heavens. That great City is, like some of the capitals of Europe, built on a broad river, with the mass of the metropolis on the one bank, but a wide-spreading suburb on the other. As the Trastevere is to Rome, as Southwark to London, so is earth to heaven, the bit of the city on the other side the bridge. As Philippi was to Rome, so is earth to heaven, the colony on the outskirts of the empire, ringed round by barbarians, and separated by sounding seas, but keeping open its communications, and one in citizenship.

Be it our care, then, to keep the sense of that city beyond the river vivid and constant. Amid the shows and shams of earth look ever onward to the realities ‘the things which are ,’ while all else only seems to be. The things which are seen are but smoke wreaths, floating for a moment across space, and melting into nothingness while we look. We do not belong to them or to the order of things to which they belong. There is no kindred between us and them. Our true relationships are elsewhere. In this present visible world all other creatures find their sufficient and homelike abode. ‘Foxes have holes, and birds their roosting-places’; but man alone has not where to lay his head, nor can he find in all the width of the created universe a place in which and with which he can be satisfied. Our true habitat is elsewhere. So let us set our thoughts and affections on things above. The descendants of the original settlers in our colonies talk still of coming to England as going ‘home,’ though they were born in Australia, and have lived there all their lives. In like manner we Christian people should keep vigorous in our minds the thought that our true home is there where we have never been, and that here we are foreigners and wanderers.

Nor need that feeling of detachment from the present sadden our spirits, or weaken our interest in the things around us. To recognise our separation from the order of things in which we ‘move,’ because we belong to that majestic unseen order in which we really ‘have our being,’ makes life great and not small. It clothes the present with dignity beyond what is possible to it if it be not looked at in the light of its connection with ‘the regions beyond.’ From that connection life derives all its meaning. Surely nothing can be conceived more unmeaning, more wearisome in its monotony, more tragic in its joy, more purposeless in its efforts, than man’s life, if the life of sense and time be all. Truly it is ‘like a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’ ‘The white radiance of eternity,’ streaming through it from above, gives all its beauty to the ‘dome of many-coloured glass’ which men call life. They who feel most their connection with the city which hath foundations should be best able to wring the last drop of pure sweetness out of all earthly joys, to understand the meaning of all events, and to be interested most keenly, because most intelligently and most nobly, in the homeliest and smallest of the tasks and concerns of the present.

So, in all things, act as citizens of the great Mother of heroes and saints beyond the sea. Ever feel that you belong to another order, and let the thought, ‘Here we have no continuing city,’ be to you not merely the bitter lesson taught by the transiency of earthly joys and treasures and loves, but the happy result of ‘seeking for the city which hath the foundations.’

II. Another exhortation which our text gives is, Live by the laws of the city.

The Philippian colonists were governed by the code of Rome. Whatever might be the law of the province of Macedonia, they owed no obedience to it. So Christian men are not to be governed by the maxims and rules of conduct which prevail in the province, but to be governed from the capital. We ought to get from on-lookers the same character that was given to the Jews, that we are ‘a people whose laws are different from all people that be on earth,’ and we ought to reckon such a character our highest praise. Paul would have these Philippian Christians act ‘worthy of the gospel .’ That is our law.

The great good news of God manifest in the flesh, and of our salvation through Christ Jesus, is not merely to be believed, but to be obeyed. The gospel is not merely a message of deliverance, it is also a rule of conduct. It is not merely theology, it is also ethics. Like some of the ancient municipal charters, the grant of privileges and proclamation of freedom is also the sovereign code which imposes duties and shapes life. A gospel of laziness and mere exemption from hell was not Paul’s gospel. A gospel of doctrines, to be investigated, spun into a system of theology, and accepted by the understanding, and there an end, was not Paul’s gospel. He believed that the great facts which he proclaimed concerning the self-revelation of God in Christ would unfold into a sovereign law of life for every true believer, and so his one all-sufficient precept and standard of conduct are in these simple words, ‘worthy of the gospel.’

That law is all-sufficient. In the truths which constituted Paul’s gospel, that is to say, in the truths of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, lies all that men need for conduct and character. In Him we have the ‘realised ideal,’ the flawless example, and instead of a thousand precepts, for us all duty is resolved into one--be like Christ. In Him we have the mighty motive, powerful enough to overcome all forces that would draw us away, and like some strong spring to keep us in closest contact with right and goodness. Instead of a confusing variety of appeals to manifold motives of interest and conscience, and one knows not what beside, we have the one all-powerful appeal, ‘If ye love Me, keep My commandments,’ and that draws all the agitations and fluctuations of the soul after it, as the rounded fulness of the moon does the heaped waters in the tidal wave that girdles the world. In Him we have all the helps that weakness needs, for He Himself will come and dwell with us and in us, and be our righteousness and our strength.

Live ‘worthy of the gospel,’ then. How grand the unity and simplicity thus breathed into our duties and through our lives! All duties are capable of reduction to this one, and though we shall still need detailed instruction and specific precepts, we shall be set free from the pedantry of a small scrupulous casuistry, which fetters men’s limbs with microscopic bands, and shall joyfully learn how much mightier and happier is the life which is shaped by one fruitful principle, than that which is hampered by a thousand regulations.

Nor is such an all-comprehensive precept a mere toothless generality. Let a man try honestly to shape his life by it; and he will find soon enough how close it grips him, and how wide it stretches, and how deep it goes. The greatest principles of the gospel are to be fitted to the smallest duties. Indeed that combination--great principles and small duties--is the secret of all noble and calm life, and nowhere should it be so beautifully exemplified as in the life of a Christian man. The tiny round of the dew-drop is shaped by the same laws that mould the giant sphere of the largest planet. You cannot make a map of the poorest grass-field without celestial observations. The star is not too high nor too brilliant to move before us and guide simple men’s feet along their pilgrimage. ‘Worthy of the gospel’ is a most practical and stringent law.

And it is an exclusive commandment too, shutting out obedience to other codes, however common and fashionable they may be. We are governed from home, and we give no submission to provincial authorities. Never mind what people say about you, nor what may be the maxims and ways of men around you. These are no guides for you. Public opinion {which only means for most of us the hasty judgments of the half-dozen people who happen to be nearest us}, use and wont, the customs of our set, the notions of the world about duty, with all these we have nothing to do. The censures or the praise of men need not move us. We report to headquarters, and subordinates’ estimate need be nothing to us. Let us then say, ‘With me it is a very small matter that I should be judged of men’s judgment. He that judgeth me is the Lord.’ When we may be misunderstood or harshly dealt with, let us lift our eyes to the lofty seat where the Emperor sits, and remove ourselves from men’s sentences by our ‘appeal unto Cæsar’; and, in all varieties of circumstances and duty, let us take the Gospel which is the record of Christ’s life, death, and character, for our only law, and labour that, whatever others may think of us, we ‘may be well pleasing to Him.’

III. Further, our text bids the colonists fight for the advance of the dominions of the City.

Like the armed colonists whom Russia and other empires had on their frontier, who received their bits of land on condition of holding the border against the enemy, and pushing it forward a league or two when possible, Christian men are set down in their places to be ‘wardens of the marches,’ citizen soldiers who hold their homesteads on a military tenure, and are to ‘strive together for the faith of the gospel.’

There is no space here and now to go into details of the exposition of this part of our text. Enough to say in brief that we are here exhorted to ‘stand fast’; that is, as it were, the defensive side of our warfare, maintaining our ground and repelling all assaults; that this successful resistance is to be ‘in one spirit,’ inasmuch as all resistance depends on our poor feeble spirits being ingrafted and rooted in God’s Spirit, in vital union with whom we may be knit together into a unity which shall oppose a granite breakwater to the onrushing tide of opposition; that in addition to the unmoved resistance which will not yield an inch of the sacred soil to the enemy, we are to carry the war onwards, and, not content with holding our own, are with one mind to strive together for the faith of the gospel. There is to be discipline, then, and compact organisation, like that of the legions whom Paul, from his prison among the Prætorian guards, had often seen shining in steel, moving like a machine, grim, irresistible. The cause for which we are to fight is the faith of the gospel, an expression which almost seems to justify the opinion that ‘the faith’ here means, as it does in later usage, the sum and substance of that which is believed. But even here the word may have its usual meaning of the subjective act of trust in the gospel, and the thought may be that we are unitedly to fight for its growing power in our own hearts and in the hearts of others. In any case, the idea is plainly here that Christian men are set down in the world, like the frontier guard, to push the conquests of the empire, and to win more ground for their King.

Such work is ever needed, never more needed than now. In this day when a wave of unbelief seems passing over society, when material comfort and worldly prosperity are so dazzlingly attractive to so many, the solemn duty is laid upon us with even more than usual emphasis, and we are called upon to feel more than ever the oneness of all true Christians, and to close up our ranks for the fight. All this can only be done after we have obeyed the other injunctions of this text. The degree in which we feel that we belong to another order of things than this around us, and the degree in which we live by the Imperial laws, will determine the degree in which we can fight with vigour for the growth of the dominion of the City. Be it ours to cherish the vivid consciousness that we are here dwelling not in the cities of the Canaanites, but, like the father of the faithful, in tents pitched at their gates, nomads in the midst of a civic life to which we do not belong, in order that we may breathe a hallowing influence through it, and win hearts to the love of Him whom to imitate is perfection, whom to serve is freedom.

IV. The last exhortation to the colonists is, Be sure of victory.

‘In nothing terrified by your adversaries,’ says Paul. He uses a very vivid, and some people might think, a very vulgar metaphor here. The word rendered terrified properly refers to a horse shying or plunging at some object. It is generally things half seen and mistaken for something more dreadful than themselves that make horses shy; and it is usually a half-look at adversaries, and a mistaken estimate of their strength, that make Christians afraid. Go up to your fears and speak to them, and as ghosts are said to do, they will generally fade away. So we may go into the battle, as the rash French minister said he did into the Franco-German war, ‘with a light heart,’ and that for good reasons. We have no reason to fear for ourselves. We have no reason to fear for the ark of God. We have no reason to fear for the growth of Christianity in the world. Many good men in this time seem to be getting half-ashamed of the gospel, and some preachers are preaching it in words which sound like an apology rather than a creed. Do not let us allow the enemy to overpower our imaginations in that fashion. Do not let us fight as if we expected to be beaten, always casting our eyes over our shoulders, even while we are advancing, to make sure of our retreat, but let us trust our gospel, and trust our King, and let us take to heart the old admonition, ‘Lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid.’

Such courage is a prophecy of victory. Such courage is based upon a sure hope. ‘Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Lord Jesus as Saviour.’ The little outlying colony in this far-off edge of the empire is ringed about by wide-stretching hosts of dusky barbarians. Far as the eye can reach their myriads cover the land, and the watchers from the ramparts might well be dismayed if they had only their own resources to depend on. But they know that the Emperor in his progress will come to this sorely beset outpost, and their eyes are fixed on the pass in the hills where they expect to see the waving banners and the gleaming spears. Soon, like our countrymen in Lucknow, they will hear the music and the shouts that tell that He is at hand. Then when He comes, He will raise the siege and scatter all the enemies as the chaff of the threshing-floor, and the colonists who held the post will go with Him to the land which they have never seen, but which is their home, and will, with the Victor, sweep in triumph ‘through the gates into the city.’

Php 1:27-28. Only — Whatever becomes of me, be you sure to mind this; that your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ — That is, suitable to the light and grace of it; to its doctrines, precepts, promises, ordinances, and all its privileges; answerable to the discoveries which it makes to you of your original and fallen state, of your redemption and salvation in and through Christ Jesus, and of the wonderful love of God manifested thereby; of the holy and happy state into which you are in a measure already brought, and of the unspeakably greater felicity and glory reserved for you hereafter; and withal, of the danger you are in from the assaults of the many subtle and powerful enemies that are combined against you. In other words, See that you be humble and thankful, loving and obedient, watchful and circumspect; and always giving diligence to be found of Christ in peace, without spot and blameless. That whether I come and see you — As I purpose doing; or else, being absent, may hear of your affairs — May receive a consolatory account of you: that ye stand fast — In the faith and hope of the gospel; in one spirit — Under the guidance and government of the Holy Spirit, and in the most perfect unanimity; with one mind Μια ψυχη, with one soul, being all equally zealous; striving together Συναθλουντες, jointly wrestling; the term being borrowed from the Athletæ, the wrestlers, and other contenders in the Olympic games; for the faith of the gospel — For all the truths revealed, the duties enjoined, and the blessings promised therein, against the Jews, who would seduce you to the Mosiac law, and bring you into bondage to its burdensome ceremonies; against the heathen, who, by persecution, endeavour to make you relapse into idolatry; against all the temptations of the devil, the world, and the flesh, the deceitfulness of sin, and the snares and devices of sinners. In nothing terrified — Or terrified in no shape or degree; by your adversaries — Whether Jews or Gentiles, however numerous and powerful; which — Namely, their being adversaries to the gospel, and you who believe and obey it; is to them an evident token of perdition — Surely and swiftly coming upon them, since nothing can be a more certain sign that they are exposed to it, and even ripe for it, than the prevalency of such a persecuting spirit in them; but to you — Who are persecuted; of salvation — That is, the persecutions to which you are exposed for righteousness’ sake, and which you patiently endure, are an evident token of complete salvation, soon to be revealed and bestowed on you; and that of God — Himself, who will assuredly reward your pious fortitude with blessings proportionably great. It evidently appears from hence, and from several other passages in this epistle, that the Philippian believers were now in a suffering state; a circumstance which, if kept in mind, as we proceed, will greatly illustrate several passages in the epistle, which would otherwise appear obscure.

1:27-30 Those who profess the gospel of Christ, should live as becomes those who believe gospel truths, submit to gospel laws, and depend upon gospel promises. The original word conversation denotes the conduct of citizens who seek the credit, safety, peace, and prosperity of their city. There is that in the faith of the gospel, which is worth striving for; there is much opposition, and there is need of striving. A man may sleep and go to hell; but he who would go to heaven, must look about him and be diligent. There may be oneness of heart and affection among Christians, where there is diversity of judgment about many things. Faith is God's gift on the behalf of Christ; the ability and disposition to believe are from God. And if we suffer reproach and loss for Christ, we are to reckon them a gift, and prize them accordingly. Yet salvation must not be ascribed to bodily afflictions, as though afflictions and worldly persecutions deserved it; but from God only is salvation: faith and patience are his gifts.Only let your conversation - The word "conversation" we now apply almost exclusively to oral discourse, or to talking. But it was not formerly confined to that and is never so used in the Scriptures. It means conduct in general - including, of course, our manner of speaking, but not limited to that - and should be so understood in every place where it occurs in the Bible. The original word used here - πολιτεύω politeuō - means properly "to administer the state; to live as a citizen; to conduct oneself according to the laws and customs of a state;" see Acts 23:1; compare examples in Wetstein. It would not be improperly rendered: "let your conduct as a citizen be as becomes the gospel;" and might without impropriety, though not exclusively, be referred to our deportment as members of a community, or citizens of a state. It undoubtedly implies that, as citizens, we should act, in all the duties which that relation involves - in maintaining the laws, in submission to authority, in the choice of rulers, etc., as well as in other relations - on the principles of the gospel; for the believer is bound to perform every duty on Christian principles. But the direction here should not be confined to that. It doubtless includes our conduct in all relations in life, and refers to our deportment in general; not merely as citizens of the state, but as members of the church, and in all other relations. In our manner of speech, our plans of living, our dealings with others, our conduct and walk in the church and out of it - all should be done as becomes the gospel. The direction, therefore, in this place, is to be understood of everything pertaining to conduct.

As it becometh the gospel of Christ -

(1) The rules of the gospel are to be applied to all our conduct - to our conversation, business transactions, modes of dress, style of living, entertainments, etc. There is nothing which we do, or say, or purpose, that is to be excepted from those rules.

(2) there is a way of living which is appropriate to the gospel, or which is such as the gospel requires. There is something which the gospel would secure as its proper fruits in all our conduct, and by which our lives should be regulated. It would distinguish us from the frivolous, and from those who seek honor and wealth as their supreme object. If all Christians were under the influence of the gospel, there would be something in their dress, temper, conversation, and aims, which would distinguish them from others; The gospel is not a thing of nothing; nor is it intended that it should exert no influence on its friends.

(3) it is very important that Christians should frame their lives by the rules of the gospel, and, to this end, should study them and know what they are. This is important:

(a) because they are the best and wisest of all rules;

(b) because it is only in this way that Christians can do good;

(c) because they have solemnly covenanted with the Lord to take his laws as their guide;

(d) because it is only in this way that they can enjoy religion; and,

(e) because it is only by this that they can have peace on a dying bed.

If people live as "becometh the gospel," they live well. Their lives are honest and honorable; they are people of truth and uprightness; they will have no sources of regret when they die, and they will not give occasion to their friends to hang their heads with shame in the remembrance of them. No man on a dying bed ever yet regretted that he had framed his life by the rules of the gospel, or felt that his conduct had been conformed too much to it.

That whether I come and see you - Alluding to the possibility that he might be released, and be permitted to visit them again.

Or else be absent - Either at Rome, still confined, or released, and permitted to go abroad.

I may hear of your affairs ... - I may hear always respecting you that you are united, and that you are vigorously striving to promote the interests of the gospel.

27. Only—Whatever happens as to my coming to you, or not, make this your one only care. By supposing this or that future contingency, many persuade themselves they will be such as they ought to be, but it is better always without evasion to perform present duties under present circumstances [Bengel].

let your conversation be—(Compare Php 3:20). The Greek implies, "Let your walk as citizens (namely, of the heavenly state; 'the city of the living God,' Heb 12:22, 'the heavenly Jerusalem,' 'fellow citizens of the saints,' Eph 2:19) be," &c.

I … see … hear—so Php 1:30. "Hear," in order to include both alternatives, must include the meaning know.

your affairs—your state.

in one spirit—the fruit of partaking of the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:3, 4).

with one mind—rather as Greek, "soul," the sphere of the affections; subordinate to the "Spirit," man's higher and heavenly nature. "There is sometimes natural antipathies among believers; but these are overcome, when there is not only unity of spirit, but also of soul" [Bengel].

striving together—with united effort.

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: q.d. In the mean time, whatever becomes of me, that which is for your part solely incumbent on you, who are brought into the fellowship of the gospel, is to demean yourselves truly agreeable to that state. The original phrase, as afterwards in this Epistle, Philippians 3:20 4:8, and elsewhere, Acts 23:1, imports, that their deportment should be answerable to their citizenship, that they should behave themselves as might be most to the public good of the society to which they do relate, not being of the world here, any more than their Head, John 15:19 17:16. Their course of life should be every way answerable to their high calling, Ephesians 4:1 Colossians 1:10 1 Thessalonians 2:12; bringing forth fruit meet for repentance.

That whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs; intimating, that it did behove them constantly to adorn the gospel, in the exercise of Christian courage, unanimity, and patience, as well when he was distaut from them, as when among them to oversee them: not as if he doubted of returning to them for their greater edification, but further to satisfy them as to his entire submission unto God’s pleasure on his journey, or at home, 2 Corinthians 5:6,8; and to excite them to shake off sloth, and to discharge their duty with all diligence, which would greatly cheer his heart.

That ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel:

1. By their stedfast endeavour after a sweet, close, holy, lasting union amongst themselves. For one spirit, one soul or mind, here seem to imply one understanding enlightened by the sanctifying Spirit, and one heart, as an inward, uniting principle, which must upon no temptation be changed: compare Philippians 2:2 3:16 4:2; with Romans 12:16 1 Corinthians 1:10 2 Corinthians 13:11 Ephesians 4:2,3 1 Peter 3:8; according to our Savior’s prayer. John 17:11,20-23, which was heard, Acts 1:14 2:16 4:32 5:12. Nor only by their union in heart and mind, but:

2. Their mutual helpfulness in action, as spiritual champions joining their forces together, for the defence of their royal charter, the maintenance of the main principles of Christianity, against all troublers of the church, and subverters of the evangelical faith, 1 Corinthians 9:24,25 Ga 5:13 Ephesians 6:14, with 2 Timothy 4:7.

3. A courageous spirit under sufferings from their most malignant gainsayers and persecutors, who do wittingly and willingly oppose the truth, and them professing of it, as Simon Magus and others did, Acts 8:18-21 1 Timothy 1:20 2 Timothy 1:15.

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the Gospel of Christ,.... Or "behave as citizens worthy of the Gospel"; for not so much their outward conversation in the world is here intended, which ought to be in wisdom towards them that are without; so as to give no offence to any, and to put to, silence, the ignorance of foolish men, and them to confusion and: shame, who falsely accuse their good conversation in Christ; though this is what is highly becoming professors of the Gospel; and a moral conversation proceeding from principles of grace, under the influence of the Spirit of God, is very ornamental to the Gospel, being what that requires and powerfully teaches; but the conversation of the saints one with another, in their church state, is here meant. The allusion is to cities which have their peculiar laws and rules, to which the citizens are to conform; and such as behave according to them act up to the character of good citizens, and becoming, and worthy of the charter by which they hold their privileges and immunities. A church of Christ is as a city, and is often so called; the members of it are citizens, fellow citizens, one with another, and of the household of God, and have laws and rules according to which they are to conduct themselves; as such do who walk worthy of their calling, and becoming the charter of the Gospel by which they have and hold their freedom and privileges, as citizens of the new Jerusalem: and such a Gospel walk and conversation lies in such things as these; constant attendance on the preaching of the Gospel, and on the administration of Gospel ordinances; a strict observation of the rules of behaviour towards persons that have given offence, either in public or private; a just regard to the discipline of Christ's house, in admonitions; reproofs, censures and excommunications, as cases require; cultivating love, unity, and peace; keeping the ordinances as they were delivered; retaining and striving for the doctrines of the Gospel; holding the mysteries of it in a pure conscience, and adorning: it by a becoming life and conversation. This the apostle recommends as the "only", the main and principal thing these saints should attend to; and as what would give him the greatest joy and pleasure to hear of, whether he should ever come and see them again or not:

that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs. The Vulgate Latin version reads "hear of you"; and so do the Syriac and Ethiopic versions:

that ye stand fast in one spirit; meaning either the Gospel, which is the Spirit that giveth life; so called because it is from the, Spirit of God, and that by which he is conveyed into the souls of men, and contains spiritual things: this is one, uniform, consistent scheme of truths; find in this believers ought to stand fast, and should abide by it, and never give up, or part with anyone branch of it; and so to do is one part of their Gospel conversation; for the apostle in this and the following things points out the several parts of that conversation he exhorts to: or else the holy Spirit of God is intended, who as he is the beginner of the good work of grace on the soul, is he also who carries it on and will perfect it; and therefore to him should the people of God look for grace and strength, to enable them to stand fast in the profession of their faith, to hold fast without wavering, and to persevere to the end; who is that one Spirit by which they are baptized into one body, and become fellow citizens with the saints: or the spirit of love, unity, and peace is here meant: true Christian love makes the saints to be of one heart and soul; and in this single affection to one another should they stand fast; brotherly love should continue, and all endeavours be used to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace; which is another branch of becoming Gospel conversation: the apostle adds,

with one mind, or "soul"; either signifying the same as before, or else that they should be of one judgment in the doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel, and abide therein; which is necessary to their harmonious walk and conversation together, as citizens of Zion:

striving together for the faith of the Gospel: by the "faith of the Gospel", may be designed the grace of faith, which comes by the Gospel; as the means of it, and by which the Gospel becomes useful and beneficial to the souls of men, and which has the Gospel for its object; for faith comes by hearing the word, and that is only profitable when it is mixed with it, and is that grace which gives credit to every truth of it, upon the testimony of divine revelation: now as the doctrine of faith is that which the saints are to strive for, the grace of faith is that by which they strive for it; by which they resist Satan, oppose false teachers, and overcome the world; and agreeably to this sense the Arabic version reads, "by the faith of the Gospel": though rather the doctrine of faith is intended, that word of faith, or faith, which is the Gospel itself, and which is often so called; and for this, in all its parts and branches, believers should strive; as for all those doctrines of faith, which concern the unity of God, the trinity of persons in the Godhead, the divine sonship of Christ, the proper deity and distinct personality of him and the blessed Spirit; and for all such doctrines as regard the state and condition of men by the fall of Adam, as that the guilt of his sin is imputed to all his posterity, the pollution of nature by it derived and communicated to them, that the bias of man's mind is naturally to that which is evil, and is averse to that which is good, and that he is impotent to everything that is spiritually good; and for all those doctrines which regard the free and distinguishing grace of God; of election, as eternal, personal, and irrespective of faith, holiness, and good works, as motives and conditions of it; of the covenant of grace, as from everlasting, absolute and unconditional, sure and firm; of redemption, as particular, and as proceeding upon a full satisfaction for sin to law and justice; of justification by the righteousness of Christ; of peace and pardon by his blood; of regeneration, conversion, and sanctification, as entirely owing to powerful and efficacious grace, and not to man's free will; of the saints' final perseverance, the resurrection of the dead, a future judgment, and eternal life, as the free gift of God: striving for these, as wrestlers do with one another, to which the allusion is, supposes persons to strive and wrestle against; and they are such as oppose truth and themselves unto it; as all such that deny divine revelation, or the authority of the Scriptures; that say that Jesus is not the Messiah; or that Christ is not the natural and eternal Son of God; or that deny his proper deity, his satisfaction and righteousness; that reject the efficacious grace of God, and the operations of the Spirit as unnecessary, to regeneration and conversion; that advance and plead for the purity of human nature, the power of man's free will, and ascribe justification and salvation to the works of men: all such are to be contended with and strove against, and that not with carnal weapons, but with spiritual ones, with the Scriptures of truth; by which a good warfare with them may be warred, and the good fight of faith fought with much success; and the whole requires great care and solicitude, earnestness, zeal, constancy, and courage: striving together for these, intends either striving with the apostle, and as they had him both as a fellow soldier, and for an example; or rather striving one with another, their ministers with their members, and their members with their ministers; the one by preaching, writing, and disputing more especially, the other by bearing a constant testimony to truth, and praying for the success of it; and both by dying for it when required; and so to do is to have the conversation as becomes the Gospel of Christ.

{8} Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye {o} stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

(8) Having set down those things before in manner of a preface, he descends now to exhortations, warning them first of all to consent both in doctrine and mind, and afterward, that being thus knit together with those common bonds, they continue through the strength of faith to bear all adversity in such a way, that they allow nothing unworthy of the profession of the Gospel.

(o) The word signifies to stand fast in, and it is proper to wrestlers, that stand fast and do not move their feet back at all.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Php 1:27. To these accounts regarding his own present position Paul now subjoins certain exhortations to right conduct for his readers.

μόνον] without connecting particle, as in Galatians 2:10; Galatians 5:13. With the above assurance, namely, that he shall continue alive, etc., he, in order that the object of this preserving of his life (Php 1:25) may be accomplished in them, needs only to summon them to be in a way worthy of the gospel members of the Christian community (πολιτεύεσθε); nothing further is needed. Hofmann, in consequence of his finding previously a promise, finds here, equally erroneously, the only counter-demand made for it.

τοῦ Χριστοῦ] of Christ. See on Mark 1:1.

πολιτεύεσθε] comp. on Acts 23:1. See also 2Ma 6:1; 2Ma 11:25; 3Ma 3:4; Joseph. Antt. iii. 5. 8, Vit. 2; Wetstein ad loc., and Suicer, Thes. II. p. 709 ff. The word, which is not used elsewhere by Paul in the epistles to express the conduct of life, is here purposely chosen, because he has in view the moral life, internal and external, of the Christian commonwealth, corresponding to the purport of the gospel (πολιτεύεσθαι, to be citizen of a state, to live as citizen). See the sequel. It is also selected in Acts 23:1, where the idea of the official relation of service is involved (πολιτεύεσθαι, to administer an office in the state). Comp. 2Ma 6:1; 2Ma 11:25; 3Ma 3:4. In the absence of such references as these, Paul says περιπατεῖν (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10, with ἀξίως). Comp. however, Clement, Cor. i. 3 : πολιτεύεσθαι κατὰ τὸ καθήκον τῷ Χριστῷ, and ch. 54: πολιτευόμενος τὴν ἀμεταμέλητον πολιτείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, ch. 21: ἀξίως αὐτοῦ πολιτευόμενοι.

εἴτε ἐλθὼν κ.τ.λ.] a parenthetic definition as far as ἀπών, so that ἀκούσω then depends on ἵνα: in order that I—whether it be when I have come and seen you, or during my absence from you—may hear, etc. The two cases εἴτεεἴτε do not refer to the liberation and non-liberation of the apostle; but they assume the certainty of the liberation (Php 1:25 f.), after which Paul desired to continue his apostolic journeys and to come again to the Philippians; and indeed trusted that he should come (Php 2:24), but yet, according to the circumstances, might be led elsewhere and be far away from them (εἴτε ἀπών). In either event it is his earnest desire and wish that he may come to learn the affairs of the church in their excellence as described by ὅτι στήκετε κ.τ.λ. It cannot surprise us to find the notion of learning expressed by the common form of the zeugma,[81] corresponding to the εἴτε ἀπών; and from the ἈΚΟΎΣΩ accordingly employed there naturally suggests itself a word of kindred import to correspond with ΕἼΤΕ ἘΛΘῶΝ Κ.Τ.Λ., such as ΓΝῶ. The rash opinion, repeated even by Hofmann, that ἈΚΟΎΣΩ only refers to the second case, does the apostle the injustice of making his discourse “hiulca” (Calvin), and even grammatically faulty (Hofmann), it being supposed that he intended to write either: “ut sive veniens videam vos, sive absens audiam,” or: “sive quum venero et videro vos, sive absens audiam de statu vestro, intelligam utroque modo,” etc. Calvin allows a choice between these two interpretations; the latter is approved of by de Wette and Weiss (comp. Rilliet and J. B. Lightfoot). Hofmann also accuses the apostle of the confusion of having written εἴτε ἈΠῺΝ ἈΚΟΎΣΩ ΤᾺ ΠΕΡῚ ὙΜῶΝ (which words are to be taken together), as if he had previously put ΕἼΤΕ ἘΛΘῺΝ ὌΨΟΜΑΙ ὙΜᾶς; but of having left it to the reader mentally to supply the verbs that should have depended on ἵνα, and of which two[82] would have been needed! The passage employed for comparison, Romans 4:16, with its close, concise, and clear dialectic, is utterly a stranger to such awkwardness. Hoelemann finally interprets the passage in a perfectly arbitrary way, as if Paul had written: ἵνα, εἴτε ἐλθὼν κ. ἰδὼν ὑμᾶς, εἴτε ἀπὼν καὶ ἀκούσας τὰ περὶ ὑμῶν, στήκητε κ.τ.λ., thus making the participles absolute nominatives.

τὰ περὶ ὑμῶν] the object of ἀκούσω, so that ὅτι στήκετε κ.τ.λ., that, namely, ye stand, etc., is a more precise definition arising out of the loving confidence of the apostle, analogous to the familiar attraction οἶδά σε τίς εἶ, and the like; Winer, p. 581 [E. T. 781]. It has been awkwardly explained as absolute:quod attinet ad res vestras” (Heinrichs, Rheinwald, Matthies, and others), while van Hengel not more skilfully, taking εἴτε ἀπὼν ἀκούσω τ. π. ὑμ. together, afterwards supplies ἀκούσω again. Grotius, Estius, and am Ende take τά even for ταῦτα, and Hoelemann makes Paul express himself here also by an anakoluthon (comp. above on εἴτε ἐλθὼν κ.τ.λ.), so that either ὅτι should have been omitted and στήκητε written, or τά should not have been inserted.

ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι] is to be joined with στήκετε, alongside of which it stands, although Hofmann, without any reason, takes it absolutely (2 Thessalonians 2:15). It is the common element, in which they are to stand, i.e. to remain stedfast (Romans 5:2; 1 Corinthians 15:1; 1 Corinthians 16:13); πνεύματι, however, refers not to the Holy Spirit (Erasmus, Beza, and others, also Heinrichs, Rheinwald, Matthies, van Hengel, Weiss), but, as the context shows by μιᾷ ψυχῇ, to the human spirit; comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The perfect accord of their minds in conviction, volition, and feeling, presents the appearance of one spirit which the various persons have in common. De Wette well says: “the practical community of spirit.” Comp. Acts 4:32. It is, as a matter of course, plain to the Christian consciousness that this unity of the human spirit is brought about by the Holy Spirit (see on Ephesians 4:3 f., 23), but ἑνὶ πνεύμ. does not say so. Moreover the emphasis is on this ἐν ἑνὶ πν., and therefore μιᾷ ψ. is subsequently placed first.

The special mode, which this standing fast in one spirit desired by the apostle is to assume, is contained in the sequel down to ἀντικειμ.

μιᾷ ψυχῇ συναθλ. κ.τ.λ.] The ψυχή, as distinguished from the πνεῦμα, is the principle of the individual personal life, which receives its impressions on the one hand from the πνεῦμα as the principle of the higher divine ζωή, and on the other hand from the outer world, and is the seat of the activity of feeling and emotion, the sympathetic unity of which in the church is here described (comp. on Luke 1:46 f.). Comp. ἰσόψυχος, Php 2:20; σύμψυχοι, Php 2:2; Herodian. vi. 5. 15: μιᾷ τε γνώμῃ καὶ ψυχῇ, Romans 15:6, ὀμοθυμαδόν, 4Ma 14:20, ὁμόψυχος, 1 Peter 3:8, ὁμόφρων. But μιᾷ ψ. does not also belong to στήκετε (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Luther, Er. Schmid, and others), for συναθλ. requires a modal definition in harmony with the context.

συναθλοῦντες] in keeping with στήκετε, according to the conception of a contest (comp. Php 1:30), under which the activity of Christian faithfulness is presented in relation to all hostile powers. Comp. Colossians 2:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7, et al.; also Soph. O. C. 564; Eur. Suppl. 317; Aesch. Prom. 95. The compound, striving together (comp. Php 4:3, and συναγωνίζεσθαι, Romans 15:30), is not to be overlooked, as if συναθλ., with the dative of the thing expressed merely the entering or stepping into the lists for it (Hofmann). It does not refer, however, to the fellowship of the Philippians themselves (“quasi facto agmine contra hostes evang.,” Grotius; comp. Hoelemann, Rilliet, de Wette, Wiesinger, Weiss, and others, following Chrysostom, Theodoret, Theophylact, Oecumenius). Paul looks upon himself as a combatant (Php 1:30, comp. Php 1:7), and the Philippians as striving with him, and affording him assistance (Diod. iii. 4) as his σύναθλοι in defending the faith (objectively viewed), protecting it and rendering it victorious. That they were to do this with one accord, is stated emphatically by μιᾷ ψυχῇ, but is not conveyed by συναθλ. in itself. If, however, Paul is the combatant, the passage cannot be understood in the sense: “adjuvantes decertantem adversus impios evangelii fidem,” Erasmus, Paraphr.; comp. Castalio, Michaelis, Mynster, Flatt, Lightfoot,—even apart from the fact that such a personification of πίστις is unprecedented, and must have been suggested by the text, as in the case of τῇ ἀληθείᾳ, 1 Corinthians 13:6.

τῇ πίστει is the dative commodi (comp. Judges 1:3Php 1:27-30. ENTREATY TO LIVE WORTHILY OF THE GOSPEL IN THE FACE OF CONFLICTS.

27–30. Entreaties to cherish Consistency, and especially Unity, more than ever now in the Apostle’s absence

27. Only, &c.] The mention of his anticipated coming and its joyful effects leads him to speak by way of caution and entreaty of the unvarying law of Christian duty, the same always whether he visited them or not. We trace in this Epistle, along with the Apostle’s desire that they should in a general sense live consistently, a special anxiety that the consistency of holy and unselfish mutual love should be more prevalent among them.

let your conversation be &c.) Lit., “live your citizen-life in a way worthy of &c.” The verb represented by “live your citizen-life” occurs, in N.T., here and Acts 23:1; where A.V. simply, “I have lived.” A cognate noun occurs below, Php 3:20, an important illustrative passage; see note there. The verb is used in 2 Maccabees (2Ma 6:1, 2Ma 11:25) in the same sense of living a life, living according to certain laws or principles, without emphasis on the “citizen” element of the word. R.V., like A.V., here drops that element out of its rendering; let your manner of life be worthy &c. It is interesting to find the same verb in Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians, ch. 5 (Introduction, p. 27).—“Conversation” in A.V. is used in its old and exact sense, still apparent in our word “conversant.” It is the whole active intercourse and business of life, not merely the exchange of words. See note in this Series on Ephesians 2:3. The Gospel is meant, by its essential principle, to rule and leaven the whole of human life.

or else be absent] Words which are perfectly consistent with the two previous verses. He bids them live the life of holy consistency at once and always, not waiting for his presence in order to begin. See further, in the same strain, Php 2:12.

I may hear] Strictly, of course, this refers only to the alternative of his prolonged absence. If he “came and saw them” hearing would be superseded. But this is obviously implied in the whole sentence.

your affairs] Better, with R.V., your state. The literal rendering is “the things concerning you.” The phrase occurs also, in St Paul, Ephesians 6:22, and below Php 2:19-20.

stand fast] The Greek is one word, a verb not found earlier than the N.T., where it occurs eight times; here, and Mark 11:25; Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Galatians 5:1; below, Php 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:15. In Mark it appears to mean simply “to stand”; but in all the other places the idea of good foothold is conspicuous.

in one spirit] For the precise phrase see (in the Greek) 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:18. In both these passages the reference is clearly to the Holy Spirit, “in” whom the saints have been baptized with new life, and “in” whom they approach the Father through the Son. We therefore explain this place also of Him, as the surrounding, penetrating, Giver of life and power to each saint and to the community. On the word “Spirit” see notes in this Series on Romans 8:4; Ephesians 1:17.

Manifestly, in the two places quoted above, the point of the word “one” is that the Unity of the Divine Agent must have its holy counterpart in the unity of the saints’ action “in Him.”

with one mind] Lit. and better, with one soul. So Tyndale and Cranmer. Latin Versions, unanimes.—Cp. in this Epistle the adjectives “one-souled” (Php 2:2, where A.V. and R.V. “of one accord”), “equal-souled” (Php 2:20), and notes. The phrase “one soul” occurs also Acts 4:32; a close parallel to this passage, in which as in many others (see e.g. Matthew 12:18; Matthew 26:38; Luke 2:35; John 12:27; Acts 14:22; Ephesians 6:6; Hebrews 6:19; Hebrews 12:3), the word soul (psychê) is associated with ideas of sensibility, as manifested either in suffering or action. It is possible that the word “Spirit” suggested, humanly speaking, the word “soul” to the Apostle, by the law of association. See Isaiah 57:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12. If so, it may be further possible that he uses the two words in a significant connexion. “Soul” in Scripture appears often to connote life embodied, organized. Now here in the first place is the Divine Life-giver, the One Spirit; then we have the result and manifestation of His presence, the organization of it, as it were, in the “one soul” of the believing company.

striving together] The same word occurs below, Php 4:3, and only there in N.T. By derivation it refers to the athletic, or prize-seeking, contests of the games; the races, wrestlings, and boxings of the Greeks; favourite similes and metaphors with St Paul. See e.g. 1 Corinthians 9:24; 1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Timothy 2:5; 2 Timothy 4:7, and cp. Conybeare and Howson, Life &c. of St Paul, ch. xx. at the beginning. But the reference is quite subordinate to the general one of close and vigorous encounter with complex obstacles.

for the faith] It is possible to render “with the faith”, and Lightfoot adopts this version. But not only does it involve a personification of “the faith” bolder than any parallel personification in St Paul (Lightfoot adduces for parallels 1 Corinthians 13:6; 2 Timothy 1:8, itself a doubtful case; 3 John 1:8), but the whole stress of the passage lies on the cooperation of the Christians not with anything else but with one another. This is lost in the rendering in question.

“The faith of the Gospel”:—i.e. the faith which embraces the Gospel. Cp. “faith of (the) truth,” 2 Thessalonians 2:13. They were to strive, side by side, for the object of bringing men to believe the Gospel of their Lord.—The objective meaning of the word “faith,” the body of truth, the Christian’s creed, is a meaning very rare, to say the least, in St Paul (see note on Ephesians 4:5 in this Series); and this other suits both context and construction better.

Php 1:27. Μόνον, only) Make this one thing your care; nothing else. [—— whatever happens as to my arrival. By supposing this or that event, not a few persuade themselves, that they will be at last such as it is proper for them to be; but it is better always to perform present duty, without evasions.—V. g.]—τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, the Gospel) For the sake of propagating which I delight [feel it desirable] to remain. [There is plainly taught in this very passage all that is worthy of a Christian man, who desires to be called evangelical. Faith is mentioned, Php 1:27, hope, Php 1:28, love, ch. Php 2:2.—V. g.]—ἰδὼνἀκούσω, seeing—I may hear) Comp. Php 1:30.—ἀκούσω) I may hear and know; for ἀκούσω is to be referred also to coming and seeing you.—ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι, in one spirit) one among you.—μιᾷ ψυχῇ, with one soul [mind]) There is sometimes a certain natural antipathy among saints, but this feeling is overcome, when there is not only unity of spirit but also of soul.—συναθλοῦντες) striving along with me. Paul was struggling in a conflict, Php 1:30.

Verse 27. - Only let your conversation be. St. Paul exhorts the Philippians to steadfastness. Only, whatever happens, whether I come or no, πολιτεύεσθε, behave as citizens (comp. Philippians 3:20, Ἡμῶν τὸ πολιτεῦμα and Ephesians 2:19, Συμπολῖται τῶν ἁγίων. The verb also occurs in Acts 23:1, "I have lived (πεπολίτευμαι) in all good conscience towards God." St. Paul was himself a Roman citizen; he was writing from Rome; his presence the re was caused by his having exercised the rights of citizenship in appealing to Caesar. He was writing to a place largely inhabited by Roman citizens (for Philippi was a Roman colony), a place in which he had declared himself to be a Roman (Acts 16:37). The metaphor was natural. Some of you are citizens of Rome, the imperial city; live, all of you, as citizens of the heavenly country, the city of the living God. As it becometh the gospel of Christ; rather, as R.V. margin, behave as citizens worthily of. There is a striking parallel in Polycarp's letter to these same Philippians (sect. 5). Ἑὰν πολιτευσώμεθα ἀξίως αὐτοῦ καὶ συμβασιλεύσομεν αὐτῷ literally, "If we live as citizens worthily of him, we shall also reign with him." That whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit. The metaphor is military, and follows naturally from the thought of citizenship. Philippi was a military colony, its chief magistrates were praetors, στρατηγοί (Acts 16:20), literally, "generals" (comp. Eph. 6:13 and Galatians 5:1). Spirit is the highest part of our immaterial nature, which, when enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God, can rise into communion with God, and discern the truths of the world unseen. In one spirit; because the spirits of believers are knit together into one fellowship by the one Holy Spirit of God abiding in them all. This distinction between spirit and soul occurs again in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The soul is the lower part of our inner being, the seat of the appetites, passions, affections, connected above with the πνεῦμα, below with the σάρξ With one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; with one soul (not mind); i.e. with all the desires and emotions concentrated on one object, all acting together in the one great work; comp. Acts 4:32, "Striving together with one another for the faith," rather than "striving together with the faith." The personification of faith, though approved by high authority, seems forced and improbable. Faith is here used objectively; the faith of the gospel is the doctrine of the gospel, as Galatians 1:23, "The faith which once he destroyed." Philippians 1:27Only

This one thing I urge as the only thing needful.

Let your conversation be (πολιτεύεσθε)

Only here in Paul's writings, and elsewhere only Acts 23:1. The verb means to be a citizen. Lit., Be citizens worthily of the Gospel. Rev., Let your manner of life be. Margin, Behave as citizens. Compare Ephesians 3:19, and see on Philippians 3:20. The exhortation contemplates the Philippians as members of the christian commonwealth. The figure would be naturally suggested to Paul by his residence in Rome, and would appeal to the Philippians as a Roman colony, which was a reproduction of the parent commonwealth on a smaller scale.

Ye stand fast (στήκετε)

Compare Ephesians 6:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:15. For the verb, see on John 1:26; see on John 8:44.

Spirit - mind (πνεύματι - ψυχῇ)

See on Romans 8:4; see on Romans 11:3.

Striving together for the faith (συναθλοῦντες τῇ πίστει)

The verb occurs only here and Philippians 4:3. The figure is that of an athletic contest, and is in keeping with standfast. Not to be rendered striving in concert with the faith, thus personifying faith, and making the faith signify the gospel teaching. For the faith as christian doctrine, see on Acts 6:7. Faith is to be taken in its usual subjective sense of trust in Christ or in the Gospel. Together refers to the mutual striving of the Philippians; not to their striving in concert with Paul.

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