Philippians 2:16
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
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(16) Holding forth the word of life.—This translation seems correct, and the reference is to the comparison above. There may, indeed, be (as has been supposed) a reference, involving a change of metaphor, to the holding forth of a torch, for guidance, or for transmission, as in the celebrated torch race of ancient times. But this supposed change of metaphor is unnecessary. The “luminaries” hold forth their light to men, and that light is the “word of life.” Note the same connection in John 1:4, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

The word of life.—The phrase “the word of life” is remarkable. Here it signifies, of course, the gospel of Christ. But the gradual progress of this expression should be noted. Of Him His disciples declared that He “has the words” (i.e., the expressed words; see Note on Ephesians 6:17) “of eternal life” (John 6:68); He Himself goes further, and declares that His words are themselves spirit and life (John 6:63); here the gospel, as giving that knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ which is “eternal life” (John 17:3), is a “word of life;” and all these lead up to the final declaration that He Himself is “the Word of life” (1John 1:1).

Run in vain, neither laboured in vain.—St. Paul’s usual metaphor includes the “race” and the “struggle” of wrestling or boxing (as in 1Corinthians 9:24-26; 2Timothy 4:7). In Galatians 2:2 he speaks only of the “running in vain.” Here, perhaps, the more general word “labour” (united in Colossians 1:29 with the word “struggling”) may be taken to express at any rate that element of endurance and watchfulness which the struggle in the arena represents.



Php 2:16-18 {R.V.}.

We come here to another of the passages in which the Apostle pours out all his heart to his beloved Church. Perhaps there never was a Christian teacher {always excepting Christ} who spoke more about himself than Paul. His own experience was always at hand for illustration. His preaching was but the generalisation of his life. He had felt it all first, before he threw it into the form of doctrine. It is very hard to keep such a style from becoming egotism.

This paragraph is remarkable, especially if we consider that this is introduced as a motive to their faithfulness, that thereby they will contribute to his joy at the last great testing. There must have been a very deep love between Paul and the Philippians to make such words as these true and appropriate. They open the very depths of his heart in a way from which a less noble and fervid nature would have shrunk, and express his absolute consecration in his work, and his eager desire for their spiritual good, with such force as would have been exaggeration in most men.

We have here a wonderful picture of the relation between him and the church at Philippi which may well stand as a pattern for us all. I do not mean to parallel our relations with that between him and them, but it is sufficiently analogous to make these words very weighty and solemn for us.

I. The Philippians’ faithfulness Paul’s glory in the day of Christ.

The Apostle strikes a solemn note, which was always sounding through his life, when he points to that great Day of Christ as the time when his work was to be tested. The thought of that gave earnestness to all his service, and in conjunction with the joyful thought that, however his work might be marred by failures and flaws, he himself was ‘accepted in the beloved,’ was the impulse which carried him on through a life than which none of Christ’s servants have dared, and done, and suffered more for Him. Paul believed that, according to the results of that test, his position would in some sort be determined. Of course he does not here contradict the foundation principle of his whole Gospel, that salvation is not the result of our own works, or virtues, but is the free unmerited gift of Christ’s grace. But while that is true, it is none the less true, that the degree in which believers receive that gift depends on their Christian character, both in their life on earth and in the day of Christ. One element in that character is faithful work for Jesus. Faithful work indeed is not necessarily successful work, and many who are welcomed by Jesus, the judge, will have the memory of many disappointments and few harvested grains. It was not a reaper, ‘bringing his sheaves with him,’ who stayed himself against the experience of failure, by the assurance, ‘Though Israel be not gathered yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord.’ If our want of success, and others’ lapse, and apostasy or coldness has not been occasioned by any fault of ours, there will be no diminution of our reward. But we can so seldom be sure of that, and even then there will be an absence of what might have added to gladness.

We need not do more than note that the text plainly implies, that at that testing time men’s knowledge of all that they did, and the results of it, will be complete. Marvellous as it seems to us, with our fragmentary memories, and the great tracts of our lives through which we have passed mechanically, and which seem to have left no trace on the mirror of our consciousness, we still, all of us, have experiences which make that all-recovering memory credible. Some passing association, a look, a touch, an odour, a sun-set sky, a chord of music will bring before us some trivial long-forgotten incident or emotion, as the chance thrust of a boat-hook will draw to the surface by its hair, a long-drowned corpse. If we are, as assuredly we are, writing with invisible ink our whole life’s history on the pages of our own minds, and if we shall have to read them all over again one day, is it not tragic that most of us scribble the pages so hastily and carelessly, and forget that, ‘what I have written I have written,’ and what I have written I must read.

But there is another way of looking at Paul’s words as being an indication of his warm love for the Philippians. Even among the glories, he would feel his heart filled with new gladness when he found them there. The hunger for the good of others which cannot bear to think even of heaven without their presence has been a master note of all true Christian teachers, and without it there will be little of the toil, of which Paul speaks in the context, ‘running and labouring.’ He that would win men’s hearts for any great cause must give his heart to them.

That Paul should have felt warranted in using such a motive with the Philippians tells how surely he reckoned on their true and deep love. He believes that they care enough for him to feel the power as a motive with them, that their faithfulness will make Paul more blessed amidst the blessings of heaven. Oh! if such love knit together all Christian teachers and their hearers in this time, and if the ‘Day of Christ’ burned before them, as it did before him, and if the vision stirred to such running and labouring as his, teachers and taught would oftener have to say, ‘We are your rejoicing, even as ye are also ours in the Day of our Lord Jesus.’ The voice of the man who is in the true ‘Apostolic Succession’ will dare to make the appeal, knowing that it will call forth an abundant answer, ‘Look to yourselves that we lose not the things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.’

II. Paul’s death an aid to the Philippians’ faith.

The general meaning of the Apostle’s words is, ‘If I have not only to run and labour, but to die in the discharge of my Apostolic Mission, I joy and rejoice, and I bid you rejoice with me.’ We need only note that the Apostle here casts his language into the forms consecrated for sacrifice. He will not speak of death by its own ugly and threadbare name, but thinks of himself as a devoted victim, and of his death as making the sacrifice complete. In the figure there is a solemn scorn of death, and at the same time a joyful recognition that it is the means of bringing him more nearly to God, with whom he would fain be. It is interesting, as showing the persistence of these thoughts in the Apostle’s mind, that the word rendered in our text ‘offered,’ which fully means ‘poured out as a drink offering,’ occurs again in the same connection in the great words of the swan song in II. Timothy, ‘I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come.’ Death looked to him, when he looked it in the eyes, and the block was close by him, as it had done when he spoke of it to his Philippian friends.

It is to be noted, in order to bring out more vividly the force of the figure, that Paul here speaks of the libation being poured ‘ on ‘ the sacrifice, as was the practice in heathen ritual. The sacrifice is the victim, ‘service’ is the technical word for priestly ministration, and the general meaning is, ‘If my blood is poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice ministered by you, which is your faith, I joy with you all.’ This man had no fear of death, and no shrinking from ‘leaving the warm precincts of the cheerful day.’ He was equally ready to live or to die as might best serve the name of Jesus, for to him ‘to live was Christ,’ and therefore to him it could be nothing but ‘gain’ to die. Here he seems to be treating his death as a possibility, but as a possibility only, for almost immediately afterwards he says, that he ‘trusts in the Lord that I myself will come shortly.’ It is interesting to notice the contrast between his mood of mind here and that in the previous chapter {i. 25} where the ‘desire to depart and to be with Christ’ is deliberately suppressed, because his continuous life is regarded as essential for the Philippians’ ‘progress and joy in faith.’ Here he discerns that perhaps his death would do more for their faith than would his life, and being ready for either alternative he welcomes the possibility. May we not see in the calm heart, which is at leisure to think of death in such a fashion, a pattern for us all? Remember how near and real his danger was. Nero was not in the habit of letting a man, whose head had been in the mouth of the lion, take it out unhurt. Paul is no eloquent writer or poet playing with the idea of death, and trying to say pretty things about it, but a man who did not know when the blow would come, but did know that it would come before long.

We may point here to the two great thoughts in Paul’s words, and notice the priesthood and sacrifice of life, and the sacrifice and libation of death. The Philippians offered as their sacrifice their faith, and all the works which flow therefrom. Is that our idea of life? Is it our idea of faith? We have no gifts to bring, we come empty-handed unless we carry in our hands the offering of our faith, which includes the surrender of our will, and the giving away of our hearts, and is essentially laying hold of Christ’s sacrifice. When we come empty, needy, sinful, but cleaving wholly to that perfect sacrifice of the Great Priest, we too become priests and our poor gift is accepted.

But another possibility than that of a life of running and labour presented itself to Paul, and it is a revelation of the tranquillity of his heart in the midst of impending danger, all the more pathetic because it is entirely unconscious, that he should be free to cast his anticipations into that calm metaphor of being, ‘offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith.’ His heart beats no faster, nor does the faintest shadow of reluctance cross his will, when he thinks of his death. All the repulsive accompaniments of a Roman execution fade away from his imagination. These are but negligible accidents; the substantial reality which obscures them all is that his blood will be poured out as a libation, and that by it his brethren’s faith will be strengthened. To this man death had finally and completely ceased to be a terror, and had become what it should be to all Christians, a voluntary surrender to God, an offering to Him, an act of worship, of trust, and of thankful praise. Seneca, in his death, poured out a libation to Jupiter the Liberator, and if we could only know beforehand what death delivers us from, and admits us to, we should not be so prone to call it ‘the last enemy.’ What Paul’s death was for himself in the process of his perfecting called forth, and warranted, the ‘joy’ with which he anticipated it. It did no more for him than it will do for each of us, and if our vision were as clear, and our faith as firm as his, we should be more ready than, alas! we too often are, to catch up the exulting note with which he hails the possibility of its coming.

But it is not the personal bearing only of his death that gives him joy. He thinks of it mainly as contributing to the furtherance of the faith of others. For that end he was spending the effort and toil of an effortful and toilsome life, and was equally ready to meet a violent and shameful death. He knew that ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,’ and rejoiced, and called upon his brethren also to ‘joy and rejoice’ with him in his shedding of his martyr’s blood.

The Philippians might well have thought, as we all are tempted to think, that the withdrawal of those round whom our hearts desperately cling, and who seem to us to bring love and trust nearer to us, can only be loss, but surely the example in our text may well speak to our hearts of the way in which we should look at death for ourselves, and for our dearest. Their very withdrawal may send us nearer to Christ. The holy memories which linger in the sky, like the radiance of a sunken sun, may clothe familiar truths with unfamiliar power and loveliness. The thought of where the departed have gone may lift our thoughts wistfully thither with a new feeling of home. The path that they have trodden may become less strange to us, and the victory that they have won may prophesy that we too shall be ‘more than conquerors through Him that loveth us.’ So the mirror broken may turn us to the sun, and the passing of the dearest that can die may draw us to the Dearer who lives.

Paul, living, rejoiced in the prospect of death. We may be sure that he rejoiced in it no less dead than living. And we may permissibly think of this text as suggesting how

The saints on earth and all the dead But one communion make,’

and are to be united in one joy. They rejoice for their own sakes, but their joy is not self-absorbed, and so putting them farther away from us. They look back upon earth, the runnings and labourings of the unforgotten life here; and are glad to bear in their hearts the indubitable token that they have ‘not run in vain neither laboured in vain.’ But surely the depth of their own repose will not make them indifferent to those who are still in the midst of struggle and toil, nor the fulness of their own felicity make them forget those whom they loved of old, and love now with the perfect love of Heaven. It is hard for us to rise to complete sympathy with these serenely blessed spirits, but yet we too should rejoice. Not indeed to the exclusion of sorrow, nor to the neglect of the great purpose to be effected in us by the withdrawal, as by the presence of dear ones, the furtherance of our faith, but having made sure that that purpose has been effected in us, we should then give solemn thanksgivings if it has. It is sad and strange to think of how opposite are the feelings about their departure, of those who have gone and of those who are left. Would it not be better that we should try to share theirs and so bring about a true union? We may be sure that their deepest desire is that we should. If some lips that we shall never hear any more, till we come where they are, could speak, would not they bring to us as their message from Heaven, Do ‘ye also joy and rejoice with me’?

2:12-18 We must be diligent in the use of all the means which lead to our salvation, persevering therein to the end. With great care, lest, with all our advantages, we should come short. Work out your salvation, for it is God who worketh in you. This encourages us to do our utmost, because our labour shall not be in vain: we must still depend on the grace of God. The working of God's grace in us, is to quicken and engage our endeavours. God's good-will to us, is the cause of his good work in us. Do your duty without murmurings. Do it, and do not find fault with it. Mind your work, and do not quarrel with it. By peaceableness; give no just occasion of offence. The children of God should differ from the sons of men. The more perverse others are, the more careful we should be to keep ourselves blameless and harmless. The doctrine and example of consistent believers will enlighten others, and direct their way to Christ and holiness, even as the light-house warns mariners to avoid rocks, and directs their course into the harbour. Let us try thus to shine. The gospel is the word of life, it makes known to us eternal life through Jesus Christ. Running, denotes earnestness and vigour, continual pressing forward; labouring, denotes constancy, and close application. It is the will of God that believers should be much in rejoicing; and those who are so happy as to have good ministers, have great reason to rejoice with them.Holding forth the word of life - That is, you are under obligation to hold forth the word of life. It is a duty incumbent on you as Christians to do it. The "word of life" means the gospel, called the "word of life" because it is the message that promises life; or perhaps this is a Hebraism, denoting the living, or life-giving word. The gospel stands thus in contrast with all human systems of religion - for they have no efficacy to save - and to the law which "killeth;" see the John 6:63, note, and 2 Corinthians 3:6, note. The duty here enjoined is that of making the gospel known to others, and of thus keeping up the knowledge of it in the world. This duty rests on Christians (compare Matthew 5:14, Matthew 5:16), and they cannot escape from the obligation. They are bound to do this, not only because God commands it, but:

(1) because they are called into the church that they may be witnesses for God, Isaiah 43:10.

(2) because they are kept on the earth for that purpose. If it were not for some such design, they would be removed to heaven at once on their conversion.

(3) because there are no others to do it. The frivolous ones will not warn the fools, nor will the proud warn the proud, nor the scoffer the scoffer. The thoughtless and the vain will not go and tell others that there is a God and a Saviour; nor will the wicked warn the wicked, and tell them that they are in the way to hell. There are none who will do this but Christians; and, if they neglect it, sinners will go unwarned and unalarmed down to death. This duty rests on every Christian.

The exhortation here is not made to the pastor, or to any officer of the church particularly; but to the mass of communicants. They are to shine as lights in the world; they are to hold forth the word of life. There is not one member of a church who is so obscure as to be exempt from the obligation; and there is not one who may not do something in this work. If we are asked how this may be done, we may reply:

(1) They are to do it by example. Everyone is to hold forth the living word in that way.

(2) by efforts to send the gospel to those who have it not. There is almost no one who cannot contribute something, though it may be but two mites, to accomplish this.

(3) by conversation. There is no Christian who has not some influence over the minds and hearts of others; and he is bound to use that influence in holding forth the word of life.

(4) by defending the divine origin of religion when attacked.

(5) by rebuking sin, and thus testifying to the value of holiness. The defense of the truth, under God, and the diffusion of a knowledge of the way of salvation, rests on those who are Christians. Paganism never originates a system which it would not be an advantage to the world to have destroyed as soon as it is conceived. Philosophy has never yet told of a way by which a sinner may be saved. The world at large devises no plan for the salvation of the soul. The most crude, ill-digested, and perverse systems of belief conceivable, prevail in the community called "the world." Every form of opinion has an advocate there; every monstrous vagary that the human mind ever conceived, finds friends and defenders there. The human mind has of itself no elastic energy to bring it from the ways of sin; it has no recuperative power to lead it back to God. The world at large is dependant on the church for any just views of God, and of the way of salvation; and every Christian is to do his part in making that salvation known.

That I may rejoice - This was one reason which the apostle urged, and which it was proper to urge, why they should let their light shine. He had been the instrument of their conversion, he had founded their church, he was their spiritual father, and had shown the deepest interest in their welfare; and he now entreats them, as a means of promoting his highest joy, to be faithful and holy. The exemplary piety and holy lives of the members of a church will be one of the sources of highest joy to a minister in the day of judgment; compare 3 John 1:4.

In the day of Christ - The day when Christ shall appear - the day of judgment. It is called the day of Christ, because he will be the glorious object which will be prominent on that day; it will be the day in which he will be honored as the judge of all the world.

That I have not run in vain - That is, that I have not lived in vain - life being compared with a race: see the notes at 1 Corinthians 9:26.

Neither laboured in vain - In preaching the gospel. Their holy lives would be the fullest proof that he was a faithful preacher.

16. Holding forth—to them, and so applying it (the common meaning of the Greek; perhaps here including also the other meaning, "holding fast"). The image of light-bearers or luminaries is carried on from Php 2:15. As the heavenly luminaries' light is closely connected with the life of animals, so ye hold forth the light of Christ's "word" (received from me) which is the "life" of the Gentiles (Joh 1:4; 1Jo 1:1, 5-7). Christ is "the Light of the world" (Joh 8:12); believers are only "light-bearers" reflecting His light.

that I may rejoice in—literally, "with a view to (your being) a subject of rejoicing to me against the day of Christ" (Php 4:1; 2Co 1:14; 1Th 2:19).

that I have not run in vain—that it was not in vain that I labored for your spiritual good.

Holding forth the word of life; carefully bearing before you, and stedfastly showing, not only by your profession, but conversation, the Lord Jesus Christ, 1Jo 1:1, whose gospel is the word of life, in that it is the power of God to salvation, Acts 13:26 Romans 1:16. He doth not say, holding forth carnal institutions, nor human traditions; but that word, wherein is to be had eternal life, John 5:39 6:68.

That I may rejoice in the day of Christ: he quickens them from the consideration of the glorious joy he should have in their salvation, at the day of Christ, {see Philippians 1:6} when he and they should, of God’s free grace, receive an abundant reward, viz. of his ministry and exhortation, and of their embracing it, and working out their salvation by God’s special assistance.

That I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain; for it would be evident to his, as well as their, everlasting comfort, when he should see them, that his laborious ministry amongst them had not been frustrate, or fruitless in the Lord, Matthew 25:21 1 Corinthians 3:8,9 15:58. Then, in a more glorious way they would be his joy and crown, than they were at present, Philippians 4:1.

Holding forth the word of life,.... By which may be meant, either Christ the essential Word, in whom life was, and is, and who is called the quick or living Word, John 1:1; and here may be styled the Word of life, because he has all life in him; he has a divine life in him, as God, he is the living God; and it is given to him to have life in himself, as Mediator, for all his people; and he ever lives as man to make intercession for them: and because he is the author of life in every sense, of natural life to all men, of spiritual and eternal life to as many as the Father has given him: or else the Gospel is intended, and the doctrines of it; and which are sometimes called the words of eternal life, and of this life, John 6:68; and that because they are a means of quickening dead sinners, they are a savour of life unto life, 2 Corinthians 2:16, and the Spirit that giveth life, and of enlivening and comforting living saints; they treat of Christ who is the life; by the Gospel, life and immortality are brought to light; that gives an account of everlasting life; points out Christ as the way to it, shows that meetness for it lies in regenerating grace, and a right unto it is in the righteousness of Christ. Now this Word of life is held forth, partly by the preaching of it to a dark world, as by some; and partly by professing it publicly, as it should be by all who are enlightened with it; and also by living lives and conversations becoming and suitable to it,

That I may rejoice in the day of Christ. The apostle having observed the advantages that would accrue to themselves, and the benefit they might be of to the men of the world, by regarding the several exhortations he had given them, and which ends he mentions as reasons and arguments to enforce them, closes with taking notice of the use and service it would be to himself; it would give him joy and pleasure when Christ should come a second time to judge the world; and when dead in Christ would be raised, and set at his right hand, and these among the rest, to whom the apostle had been useful; and who continued to bear an honourable testimony in the world to Christ, and his Gospel, to the end:

that I have not run in vain, nor laboured in vain; being blessed with such converts under his ministry, as were a credit to religion, an honour to the Gospel, and a crown of rejoicing to him. He expresses his ministerial function, and the discharge of it, by running in a race, as the ministry of a person is sometimes called his course, Acts 13:25; in allusion to the Olympic games, which the apostle often refers to, when the conqueror obtained a crown; and it was enough for our apostle, and a crown of rejoicing to him, that his spiritual children walked in the truth, and as became it, to the end: and also by labour, and hard service, as the ministerial work is, when faithfully performed; and especially as his was, which was attended with so many difficulties, and yet with such constancy, diligence, and indefatigableness, all which was not in vain; and he could look back upon it with pleasure, when his followers stood fast in the faith, and adorned the doctrine of Christ.

Holding forth the {o} word of life; {8} that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

(o) The Gospel is called the word of life, because of the effects which it produces.

(8) Again he urges them forward, setting before them his true apostolic care that he had for them: in addition comforting them to the end that they should not be sorry for the greatness of his afflictions, no, not even if he should die to make perfect their sacrifice with his blood, as it were with a drink offering.

Php 2:16. Λόγον ζωῆς ἐπέχοντες] a definition giving the reason for φαίνεσθε ὡς φωστ. ἑν κ.: since ye possess the word of life. This is the Gospel, ἐπειδὴ τὴν αἰώνιον προξενεῖ ζωήν, Theodoret. See Romans 1:16; comp. John 6:68; Acts 5:20; it is the divinely efficacious vehicle of the πνεῦμα τῆς ζωῆς which frees from sin and death (see on Romans 8:2), and therefore not merely “the word concerning life” (Weiss). Christ Himself is the essential λόγος τῆς ζωῆς (1 John 1:1), His servants are ὀσμὴ ζωῆς εἰς ζωήν (2 Corinthians 2:16), therefore the word preached by them must be λόγος ζωῆς in the sense indicated. Paul does not elsewhere use the expression. As to ζωή without the article, of eternal life in the Messiah’s kingdom (Php 4:3), see Kaeuffer, de ζωῆς αἰ. not. p. 73 f. As possessors of this word, the Christians appear like φωστῆρες in a world otherwise dark; without this possession they would not so present themselves, but would be homogeneous with the perverted generation, since the essence of the gospel is light (Ephesians 5:8; Colossians 1:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 Peter 2:9; Luke 16:8; Acts 26:18, al.), just as Christ Himself is the principal light (John 1:4-5; John 3:19; John 8:12; John 12:35, al); but the element of the unbelieving γενεά, whose image is the κόσμος in itself devoid of light, is darkness (2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:8; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:13; John 1:5; John 3:19). Ἐπέχειν, to possess,[130] to have in possession, at disposal, and the like; see Herod. i. 104, viii. 35; Xen. Symp. viii. 1; Thuc. i. 48. 2, 2:101. 3; Anth. Pal. vii. 297. 4; Polyb. iii. 37. 6, 112. 8, v. 5, 6; Lucian, Necyom. 14. Not: holding fast (Luther, Estius, Bengel, and others, including Heinrichs, Hoelemann, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Ewald, Schneckenburger); nor yet: sustinentes (Calvin), so that the conception is of a light fixed on a candlestick. Others understand it similarly: holding forth (Beza, Grotius, and others, including Rheinwald, Matthies, Wiesinger, Lightfoot), namely, “that those, who have a longing for life, may let it be the light which shall guide them to life,” as Hofmann explains more particularly; comp. van Hengel. This would be linguistically correct (Hom. Il. ix. 489, xxii. 43; Plut. Mor. p. 265 A; Pind. Ol. ii. 98; Poll. iii. 10), but not in harmony with the image, according to which the subjects themselves appear as shining, as self-shining. Linguistically incorrect is Theodoret’s view: τῷ λόγῳ προσέχοντες (attendentes), which would require the dative of the object (Acts 3:5; 1 Timothy 4:16; Sir 31:2; 2Ma 9:25; Job 30:26; Polyb. iii. 43. 2, xviii. 28. 11). Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact take ἐπέχ. correctly, but understand λόγον ζωῆς as equivalent to σπέρμα ζ. or ἐνέχυρα ζ., and indicate, as the purpose of the words: ὅρα, πῶς εὐθέως τίθησι τὰ ἔπαθλα (Chrysostom). This view is without sanction from the usus loquendi. Linguistically it would in itself be admissible (see the examples in Wetstein), but at variance with the N. T. mode of expression and conception, to explain with Michaelis, Storr, Zachariae, and Flatt: supplying the place of life (in the world otherwise dead), so that λόγον ἐπέχειν would mean: to hold the relation. Comp. Syr.

εἰς καύχημα κ.τ.λ.] the result which the γίνεσθαι ἀμέμπτους κ.τ.λ. on the part of the readers was to have for the apostle; it was to become for him (and what an incitement this must have been to the Philippians!) a matter of glorying (Php 1:26) for the day of Christ (see on Php 1:10), when he should have reason to glory, that he, namely (ὅτι), had not laboured in vain, of which the excellent quality of his Philippian converts would afford practical evidence, ὅτι τοιοῦτους ὑμᾶς ἐταίδευσα, Theophylact. Comp. 1 Thessalonians 2:19 f.; 2 Corinthians 1:14. Thus they were to be to him on that day a στέφανος καυχήσεως (1 Thess. l.c.). Paul cannot mean a present καυχᾶσθαι in prospect of the day of Christ (Hofmann), for εἰς καύχημα κ.τ.λ. cannot be the result accruing for him from the ἐν οἷς φαίνεσθε κ.τ.λ. (since by it the position of the Christians generally is expressed), but only the result from the ethical development indicated by ἵνα γένησθε ἄμεμπτοι κ.τ.λ. Hence also ὅτι cannot be a statement of the reason (Hofmann); it is explicative: that.

The twofold[131] yet climactic, figurative description of his apostolical exertions (on ἜΔΡΑΜ., comp. Galatians 2:2; Acts 20:24; on ἘΚΟΠΊΑΣΑ, comp. 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 4:11), as well as the repetition of εἰς κενόν (see on Galatians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Polyc. Phil. 9), is in keeping with the emotion of joy, of triumph.

[130] Hofmann erroneously pronounces against this, representing that ἐπέχειν could only be thus used in the sense of having under one’s control. Compare, in opposition to this, especially such passages as Thuc. iii. 107. 4, where the word is quite synonymous with the parallel simple ἔχειν; also Anth. Pal. vii. 276. 6.

[131] Comp. Anthol. Pal. xi. 56. 2 : μὴ τρέχε, μὴ κοπία.

Php 2:16. λ. ζωῆς. For the connexion between this expression and φωστῆρες see John 1:4, ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων. When Paul speaks of “life” as belonging to the Christian he means not merely the new power of holy living imparted to him, but the real presence of a truly Divine life which, although largely concealed for the present by the fleshly nature, is the pledge and actual beginning of life eternal. This is, in the Apostle’s view, the supreme goal of the Christian calling. The Christian gospel, therefore, is a λόγος ζωῆς.—ἐπέχοντες. Its common meaning (as in Homer, etc.) is “holding forth”. But the Apostle is not thinking of the influence exercised by his readers upon others. It is their own steadfastness in the faith that is before his mind in this passage. That tells against the interpretation of Field (Otium Norvicense, iii., pp. 118–119, following Pesh. with Michaelis, Wetstein, etc.), who translates, “being in the stead of life” (to it, sc., the world), “holding the analogy of life”. No doubt there are good exx. of the phrase in later Greek, but we are safe in saying that the ordinary N.T. reader would not understand λόγ. ζ. in this sense. Chr and Thphl. take it as = “having in them” (a strengthened ἔχειν). Theodore of Mopsuestia has “holding fast,” which is also the gloss of Hesychius on the word (κρατοῦντες). There is practically no difference between the two last explanations. Either suits the context well. It was quite customary in late Greek to use intensified forms like ἐπέχειν as stronger equivalents for the simpler words.—εἰς καύχ. “For a ground of boasting.” Cf. Zephaniah 3:20, δώσω ὑμᾶς ὀνομαστοὺς καὶ εἰς καύχημα.—ἡμέρα Χ. A combination only found in this Epistle. As the Apostle advanced in years the final result of his labours would have increasing prominence in his thoughts.—ὅτι. Does this introduce the ground of his boasting, or is it used in an “anticipative” sense = because? The latter seems necessary, as the reason of his boasting has already been given, their blamelessness and steadfastness.—ἔδραμονἐκοπίασα. These aorists look back from the day of Christ over the whole course of Paul’s life and work. It is now finished, and it has not failed. We must translate by English perfects, “I have not run,” etc. Lft[1]. thinks that ἐκοπ. is a metaphor from “training” in athletic contests. See his important note on Ignat. ad Polyc., vi., συγκοπιᾶτε ἀλλήλοις, συναθλεῖτε, συντρέχετε. But its occurrence in Isaiah 49:4 (κενῶς ἐκοπίασα, εἰς μάταιον καὶ εἰς οὐδὲν ἔδωκα τὴν ἰσχύν μου) shows that it may be taken without any metaphorical significance.

[1] Lightfoot.

16. Holding forth] as offering it for acceptance; presenting it to the notice, enquiry, and welcome, of others. The metaphor of the luminary is dropped.—It is intimated that the faithful Christian will not be content without making direct efforts, however humble and unobtrusive, to win attention to the distinctive message of his Lord.

the word of life] The Gospel, as the revelation of eternal life in Christ. Cp. John 6:68; 1 John 1:1 (where the reference of the phrase is not to the personal Logos; see Westcott there); and see also, in illustration of the meaning of “word” here, 1 John 5:11-12; and above, on Php 1:14.

that I may rejoice] Lit., “to (be a) rejoicing for me.” For the thought, cp. 1 Thessalonians 2:19. He looks forward to a special recognition of his converts at Philippi, at the Lord’s Coming, and to a special “joy of harvest” over them.

in the day of Christ] Lit., “unto the day &c.”; in view of it, till I am in it. On the “day” see note on Php 1:6.

that I have not run] Better, that I did not run. He speaks as if already looking back on life as on one collected past.—“Run”:—a favourite metaphor with St Paul, to represent the energy and progress of life, moving towards its goal. Cp. Acts 13:25; Acts 20:24 (both Pauline passages); 1 Corinthians 9:24; 1 Corinthians 9:26; Galatians 2:2 (a close parallel), Galatians 5:7; 2 Timothy 4:7. See also Romans 9:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:1; Hebrews 12:1.

laboured] Better, did labour; see last note. Cp. 1 Thessalonians 3:5 for nearly the same words.

in vain] Lit., “to what is empty,” in vacuum. The phrase is peculiar to St Paul in N.T.

Php 2:16. Λόγον ζωῆς, the word of life) which I have preached to you. There is frequent mention of life in this epistle, ch. Php 4:3.—ἐπέχοντες) holding fast, upholding,[22] lest you should give way to the world.—εἰς καύχημα, for a source of glorying to me) Construe with holding fast.—εἰς ἡμέραν, in [against] the day) The Philippians thought the day of Christ so near, that the life of Paul might be lengthened out even till that day. Paul did not consider it necessary to confute this.—οὐκ εἰς κενὸν, not in vain) with your fruit.

[22] But Engl. V. Holding forth, referring to the metaphor in φωστῆρες, lighthouses, which hold forth a beacon-light to warn the unwary.—ED.

Verse 16. - Holding forth the word of life. Holding out to others. Meyer translates "possessing," and others, as Bengel, "holding fast. This clause should be taken with the first clause of Ver. 15, "That ye may be blameless," etc., he the words, "among whom," etc.. he being parenthetical. That I may rejoice in the day of Christ; literally, for matter of boasting to me against the day of Christ. He boasts or glories in their salvation. "The day of Christ," says Bishop Lightfoot, "is a phrase peculiar to this Epistle, more commonly it is ' the day of the Lord.'" That I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain; translate, did not. The verbs me aorist. He looks back upon his finished course (comp. Galatians 2:2). Philippians 2:16Holding forth (ἐπέχοντες)

The verb means literally to hold upon or apply. Hence to fix attention upon, as Luke 14:7; Acts 3:5; 1 Timothy 4:16. In Acts 19:22, stayed: where the idea at bottom is the same - kept to. So in Sept., Job 27:8, of setting the heart on gain. Job 30:26, "fixed my mind on good." In Genesis 8:10, of Noah waiting. In classical Greek, to hold out, present, as to offer wine to a guest or the breast to an infant. Also to stop, keep down, confine, cease. Here in the sense of presenting or offering, as A.V. and Rev. holding forth.

That I may rejoice (εἰς καύχημα ἐμοὶ)

Lit., for a cause of glorying unto me.

In the day of Christ (εἰς ἡμέραν Χριστοῦ)

Lit., against the day, as Philippians 1:10. The phrase day of Christ is peculiar to this epistle. The usual expression is day of the Lord.

Have not run (οὐκ ἔδραμον)

Rev., better, did not run. Aorist tense. Ignatius writes to Polycarp to ordain some one "beloved and unwearied, who may be styled God's courier" (θεοδρόμος. To Polycarp, 7).

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