Philippians 2:17
Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
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(17) If I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith.—The striking metaphor of the original is here imperfectly represented. It is, If I am being poured out—if my life-blood is poured out—over the sacrifice and religious ministration of your faith. The same word is used in 2Timothy 4:6, where our version has, “I am now ready to be offered.” The allusion is to the practice of pouring out libations or drink-offerings (usually of wine) over sacrifices, both Jewish and heathen. Such libation was held to be a subsidiary or preparatory element of the sacrifice. In that light St. Paul regards his own possible martyrdom, not so much as having a purpose and value in itself, but rather as conducing to the self-sacrifice of the Philippians by faith—a sacrifice apparently contemplated as likely to be offered in life rather than by death.

The sacrifice and service of your faith.—The word here rendered “service,” with its kindred words, properly means any service rendered by an individual for the community; and it retains something of this meaning in 2Corinthians 9:12, where it is applied to the collection and transmission of alms to Jerusalem (comp. Romans 15:27; and see below, Philippians 2:25; Philippians 2:30), and in Romans 13:6 and Hebrews 1:7, where “the powers that be” and the angels are respectively called “ministers of God.” But the great preponderance of New Testament usage appropriates it to priestly service (see Luke 1:23; Romans 15:16; Hebrews 8:2; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21; Hebrews 10:11), which is obviously its sense here. The simplest interpretation of the whole passage would be to consider the Philippians merely as priests, and to suppose “sacrifice” to describe the chief function, and “ministration” the general function, of their priesthood. But the word “sacrifice,” though it might etymologically mean the act of sacrifice, has universally in the New Testament the sense, not of the act, but of the thing sacrificed. Accordingly, here it would seem that, following afar off the example of the great high priest, the Christian is described as at once sacrifice and priest, “offering” (see Romans 12:1) “his own body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,” and with it the “sacrifice of praise” and the “sacrifice of doing good and communicating” (Hebrews 13:15-16, and below, Philippians 4:18). This union of sacrifice and ministration, being the work “of faith,” is in St. Paul’s view the thing really precious; his own death the mere preparation for it, in which he rejoices “to spend and be spent” for them.

I joy, and rejoice with you all.—That is, I joy, and that in sympathy with you. First, “I joy” absolutely, in the feeling that “to depart and be with Christ,” following Him in His own way of suffering, is far better. Next, “I joy in sympathy with you,” in the sense of community of sacrifice, and brotherhood in suffering, for the sake of the one Lord. The emphasis laid on the latter clause harmonises with the old proverb, that sorrow is halved, and joy doubled, when it is shared with others.

Php 2:17-18. Yea, and if I be offered up — Or, poured out, as σπενδομαι properly signifies; upon the sacrifice and service of your faith — Greek, θυσια και λειτουργια; the former word properly signifies a sacrifice, and the latter the performance of any public service, especially that pertaining to the worship of God. The apostle alludes to the Jewish sacrifices, which were prepared for the altar on which they were to be offered, by the Levites and priests, and on which, or on the meat-offerings that accompanied them, were poured oil and wine, which was the σπονδη, or libation, Exodus 29:40-41. Thus the apostle, representing himself as a priest, and the Philippian believers, and other converted heathen, as sacrifices prepared and offered for God’s acceptance through his ministry, speaks of his blood as a libation, which, costly as it was, he was willing to pour out on these sacrifices, if this might tend, in any degree, to confirm the faith of these Gentiles, establish them in the truth, and thereby render the oblation of them more acceptable to God. I joy and rejoice with you all — Or, I rejoice and congratulate you all; that is, if while I am thus, λειτουργων, ministering as a priest, or employed in preparing and offering this living sacrifice, my blood should be the libation poured out upon it, I should rejoice even thus to die in your service, and for the confirmation of your faith. The apostle’s manner of speaking well agrees with that kind of martyrdom by which he was afterward offered up to God. For the same cause do ye joy and rejoice with me — As I rejoice at the prospect of my sufferings for your good, so do you rejoice, or congratulate me also, on account of them; for, while suffering the last extremities in a cause like this, I am happy, and ought to be regarded as an object of congratulation rather than of condolence. Instead, however, of for the same cause, το δε αυτο may be rendered, after the same manner; and then the sense will be, Rejoice you as I do, when ye suffer for the gospel, and partake with me in the joy arising from fidelity to Christ.

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.Yea, and if I be offered - Margin, "poured forth." The mention of his labors in their behalf, in the previous verse, seems to have suggested to him the sufferings which he was likely yet to endure on their account. He had labored for their salvation. He had exposed himself to peril that they and others might have the gospel. On their account he had suffered much; he had been made a prisoner at Rome; and there was a possibility, if not a probability, that his life might be a forfeit for his labors in their behalf. Yet he says that, even if this should happen, he would not regret it, but it would be a source of joy. The word which is used here - σπένδομαι spendomai - properly means, to pour out, to make a libation; and is commonly used, in the classic writers, in connection with sacrifices. It refers to a drink-offering, where one who was about to offer a sacrifice, or to present a drink-offering to the gods, before he tasted of it himself, poured out apart of it on the altar. Passow. It is used also to denote the fact that, when an animal was about to be slain in sacrifice, wine was poured on it as a solemn act of devoting it to God; compare Numbers 15:5; Numbers 28:7, Numbers 28:14. In like manner, Paul may have regarded himself as a victim prepared for the sacrifice. In the New Testament it is found only in this place, and in 2 Timothy 4:6, where it is rendered, "I am ready to be offered;" compare the notes at that place. It does not here mean that Paul really expected to be a sacrifice, or to make an expiation for sin by his death; but that he might be called to pour out his blood, or to offer up his life as if he were a sacrifice, or an offering to God. We have a similar use of language, when we say that a man sacrifices himself for his friends or his country.

Upon the sacrifice - ἐπὶ τῆ θυσίᾳ epi tē thusia. The word rendered here as "sacrifice," means:

(1) the act of sacrificing;

(2) the victim that is offered; and,

(3) any oblation or offering.

Robinson's Lexicon. Here it must be used in the latter sense, and is connected with "faith" - "the sacrifice of your faith." The reference is probably to the faith, i. e., the religion of the Philippians, regarded as a sacrifice or an offering to God; the worship which they rendered to Him. The idea of Paul is, that if, in order to render that offering what it should be - to make it as complete and acceptable to God as possible - it were necessary for him to die, pouring out his blood, and strength, and life, as wine was poured out to prepare a sacrifice for the altar and make it complete, he would not refuse to do it, but would rejoice in the opportunity. He seems to have regarded them as engaged in making an offering of faith, and as endeavoring to make the offering complete and acceptable; and says that if his death were necessary to make their piety of the highest and most acceptable kind, he was ready to die.

And service - λειτουργία leitourgia - a word taken from an act of worship, or public service, and especially the ministry of those engaged in offering sacrifices; Luke 1:23; Hebrews 8:6. Here it means, the ministering or service which the Philippians rendered to God; the worship which they offered, the essential element of which was faith. Paul was willing to endure anything, even to suffer death in their cause, if it would tend to make their "service" more pure, spiritual, and acceptable to God. The meaning of the whole is:

(1) that the sufferings and dangers which he now experienced were in their cause, and on their behalf; and,

(2) that he was willing to lay down his life, if their piety would be promoted, and their worship be rendered more pure and acceptable to God.

I joy - That is, I am not afraid of death; and if my dying can be the means of promoting your piety, it will be a source of rejoicing; compare the notes at Philippians 1:23.

And rejoice with you all - My joy will be increased in anything that promotes yours. The fruits of my death will reach and benefit you, and it will be a source of mutual congratulation.

17. Yea, and if—rather as Greek, "Yea, if even"; implying that he regarded the contingency as not unlikely: He had assumed the possibility of his being found alive at Christ's coming (for in every age Christ designed Christians to stand in preparedness for His coming as at hand): he here puts a supposition which he regards as more likely, namely, his own death before Christ's coming.

I be offered—rather as Greek, "I am poured out." "I am made a libation." Present, not future, as the danger is threatening him now. As in sacrifices libations of wine were "poured upon" the offerings, so he represents his Philippian converts, offered through faith (or else their faith itself), as the sacrifice, and his blood as the libation "poured upon" it (compare Ro 15:16; 2Ti 4:6).

service—Greek, "priest's ministration"; carrying out the image of a sacrifice.

I joy—for myself (Php 1:21, 23). His expectation of release from prison is much fainter, than in the Epistles to Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, written somewhat earlier from Rome. The appointment of Tigellinus to be Prætorian Prefect was probably the cause of this change. See [2388]Introduction.

rejoice with you all—Alford translates, "I congratulate you all," namely on the honor occurring to you by my blood being poured out on the sacrifice of your faith. If they rejoiced already (as English Version represents), what need of his urging them, "Do ye also joy."

Yea, and if I be offered: that he might further confirm and encourage them in their duty, he doth not here conclude the certainty of his death, at his first imprisonment, having expressed before some confidence of his surviving it, Philippians 1:19,25; but, in imitation of Christ, the good Shepherd, John 10:11, to demonstrate his constant affection to them, (as he doth to others, 2 Corinthians 12:15 1 Thessalonians 2:8), he argues upon supposition of his own death, which might afterwards happen, 2 Timothy 4:6; using an elegant allegory, borrowed from legal offerings, Leviticus 2:6 Numbers 15:5,7 Num 23:4 Judges 11:13; to show that he could cheerfully lay down his life for their salvation; not for reconciling them to God, for that was done before by Christ’s own offering up himself, Hebrews 7:27, a sacrifice of a sweet smell unto God, Ephesians 5:2; but whereby they might be confirmed in the faith sealed with his blood, for bearing witness to Christ, precious to God, Psalm 116:15. The Greek word he hath here, is borrowed from the usage in sacrificing, of pouring wine or oil upon the victim, Exodus 30:9 2 Kings 16:13 Jeremiah 19:13, when that which was poured forth was called the drink-offering, to the confirming of covenants.

Upon the sacrifice; by sacrifice, he means either specially their alms, prepared by them, and presented by Epaphroditus, for supporting him in his sufferings, and in the person of the apostle offered up unto God, Philippians 4:18 2 Corinthians 9:12; or, more generally, the Philippians’ conversion, because sanctified by a principle of faith, and so made a sacrifice. For he doth more than once write of believers being offered, and resigned to God, under the notion of a sacrifice, Romans 12:1 15:16; and so doth another, 1 Peter 2:5.

And service of your faith; to bring them unto which by his ministration, was a very pleasing service to him, who by pouring out his blood in this martyrdom, would confirm the doctrine of the gospel, or new covenant, and fix it more strongly in the hearts of them and others of God’s chosen people.

I joy; whereupon he expresseth his joy and delight in that, which, upon this supposition, would in the issue be so much to their honour and advantage, when it should seem good to the Lord. They would reckon it no small honour, to have him, the apostle that planted the gospel amongst them, satisfied in their vouching of the truth, which therefore could not but be profitable to the establishing of them in it, who had cordially embraced it.

And rejoice with you all; whereupon he doth heartily congratulate with each of them, the meanest as well as the greatest of them, who would be so privileged.

Yea, and if I be offered,.... Or "poured out", as the drink offerings of wine or oil were; meaning the effusion of his blood, which he compares to a libation, or drink offering, which was poured upon the sacrifice; and the laying down of his life for the sake of Christ, and his Gospel: which he knew not how soon might be, though he was in some hopes of a deliverance for the present, and therefore speaks of it in an hypothetical way: yet he expected it sooner or later; and that whenever it was, it would be as the libation upon the offering,

Upon the sacrifice and service of your faith; he had been the means of bringing them to the faith of Christ, in which they were an offering acceptable to God, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost; see Romans 15:16; and should he suffer and shed his blood in the cause of Christ, it would be as a libation on them, as a sacrifice; it would be for the sake of preaching the doctrine of faith, by which they were brought to believe on Christ; and it would be for the further confirmation of their faith, and as a drink offering acceptable unto God; upon all which accounts it would be matter of joy to him,

I joy and rejoice with you all; meaning at his sufferings and death, and the advantages thereof to Christ, to his churches, and to himself.

Yea, and if I be offered upon the {p} sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

(p) As if he said, I brought you Philippians to Christ, and my desire is that you present yourselves a living sacrifice to him, and then it will not grieve me to be offered up as a drink offering, to accomplish this your spiritual offering.

Php 2:17. The connection of ideas is this: What Paul had said in Php 2:16 : εἰς καύχημα κ.τ.λ., presupposed, in the first place, that he himself would live to see the further development described in Php 2:15 : ἵνα γένησθε ἄμεμπτοι. Now, however, he puts the opposite case, so as to elevate his readers to the right point of view for this also, and says: “But even if I should be put to death in my vocation dedicated to your faith,” etc. Van Hengel finds in these words the contrast to the hope of living to see the Parousia. But this hope is not expressed in what precedes, since the result εἰς καύχημα κ.τ.λ. was conditioned, not by the apostle’s living to see the Parousia, but only by his living to see the described perfection of his readers; inasmuch as, even when arisen at the Parousia, he might glory in what he had lived to see in the Philippians. Many others are satisfied with making these words express merely a climax (in relation to ἐκοπίασα) (see especially Heinrichs and Matthies); but this is erroneous, because ἐκοπίασα in the preceding verse is neither the main idea, nor specially indicative of tribulation. Arbitrary and entirely unnecessary is, further, the assumption of an opponent’s objection (“at vero imminent tristissima!”) to which Paul replies; or the explanation of ἀλλά by the intervening thought: “non, ie n’ai pas travaillé en vain, mais au contraire,” etc., Rilliet; comp. also Erasmus, Paraphr. In a similar but direct way Hofmann gains for ἀλλά the explanation, but on the contrary, by connecting it antithetically with the preceding negative clauses ὅτι οὐκ εἰς κενόν κ.τ.λ., which, with the right explanation of the following words, is impossible. According to de Wette (comp. also Storr and Flatt), Php 2:17 connects itself with Php 1:26, so that ἀλλά forms a contrast to Php 2:25, and all that intervenes is a digression. But how could any reader guess at this? The suggestion is the more groundless, on account of the χαίρω in Php 2:17 corresponding so naturally and appositely with the καύχημα in Php 2:16.

εἰ καὶ κ.τ.λ.] if I even (which I will by no means call in question) should be poured out, etc. On the concessive sense of εἰ καί (1 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 4:3; 2 Corinthians 4:16; 2 Corinthians 5:16; 2 Corinthians 7:8, al.), see Herm. ad Viger. p. 832; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 519. The case supposed is thus rendered more probable than by the reading of E G, καὶ εἰ (even assuming that I). Stallbaum, ad Plat. Ap. S. p. 32 A; Gorg. p. 509 A; Schmalf. Syntax d. Verb. sec. 99 f. The protasis beginning with ἀλλʼ εἰ καί extends to τ. πίστ. ὑμῶν. As in Php 2:12, so also here Hofmann makes the violent assumption that the apodosis already begins at ἐπὶ τ. θυσίᾳ κ.τ.λ. with σπένδομαι again to be supplied, whilst at the same time there is imputed to this ἐπὶ τ. θυσίᾳ κ.τ.λ., in order to give an appropriate turn to the assumed antithesis for ἀλλά, a tenor of thought which the words do not bear; see below.

σπένδομαι] I become offered as a, libation, poured out as a drink-offering (2 Timothy 4:6, frequently in all classical writers; see also Schleusner, Thes. V. p. 79; Suicer, Thes. II. p. 993). The sense stripped of figure is: if even my blood is shed, if even I should be put to death.[132] Paul represents his apostolic exertions for the faith of the Philippians as an offering (comp. Romans 15:16); if he is therein put to death, he is, by means of the shedding of his blood in this sacrifice, made a libation, just as among the Jews (Numbers 28:7; Numbers 15:4 ff.; Joseph. Antt. iii. 9. 4; see generally, Ewald, Alterth. p. 46 f.; Saalschütz, M. R. p. 314 f.) in the sacrifices, together with meat-offerings, libations of wine were made, which were poured upon the ground from sacred vessels (σπονδεῖα) at the altar. As to the Hellenic sacrificial libations, see Hermann, Gottesd. Alterth. § 25, 15 f. On the figurative representation of the shedding of blood as a σπονδή, comp. Anthol. ix. 184. 6: ξίφος αἷμα τυράννων ἔσπεισεν, Ignatius, Romans 2; σπονδισθῆναι Θεῷ ὡς ἔτι θυσιαστήριον ἑτοιμὸν ἐστί.

The present tense is used, because Paul has strongly in view his present danger (Php 1:20 ff.); Kühner, II, 1, p. 119 f. Rilliet (comp. Wetstein) takes the passive erroneously: I am besprinkled (which also does not correspond with the present tense), making Paul say, “que la libation préparatoire du sacrifice a coulé sur sa tête.” Confusion with κατασπένδεσθαι, Plut. Alex. 50, de def. orac. 46; Strabo, iv. p. 197; Eur. Or. 1239; Antip. Sid. 73 (Anthol. 7:27).

ἐπὶ τ. θυσ. κ. λειτ. τ. π. ὑμ.] at the sacrifice and priestly service of your faith, that is, whilst I present your faith as a sacrifice and perform priestly service in respect to it; the sense of this, stripped of the figure, is: whilst I, by furtherance of your faith in Christ, serve God, as by the offering and priestly ministration of a sacrifice. τῆς πίστ. is the object which is conceived as sacrificed and undergoing priestly ministration; ΘΥΣΊᾼ and ΛΕΙΤΟΥΡΓΊᾼ have one article in common, and are thereby joined so as to form one conception. But ΛΕΙΤΟΥΡΓΊᾼ (priestly function, comp. Luke 1:23; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21, and frequently in the LXX.; see Schleusner, Thes.; comp. also Diod. Sic. i. 21, and, for the figurative use of the word, Romans 15:16; Romans 15:27) is added by the apostle as a more precise definition, because the mere θυσίᾳ would leave it uncertain whether he was to be considered as a priest, whereas Paul desires expressly to describe himself as such. θυσίᾳ, as always in the N. T., is sacrifice, so that the idea is: at the sacrifice and priestly service of your faith; hence there is no necessity for taking it as sacrificing, or the Acts of sacrifice (Herod. iv. 60, viii. 99; Herodian, viii. 3. 5, i. 36. 12, al.). The ἐπί, however, is simply to be taken as at, as in Php 1:3 and frequently; not as to, in addition to (Beza, Raphel, Matthies, de Wette, Weiss, and many others; comp. also Hofmann), or with the Vulgate as supra (Heinrichs, Hoelemann, van Hengel), in the sense of the (heathen) mode[133] of the libation, an interpretation which should have been precluded by the addition of the abstract κ. λειτουργ. Finally, although Paul’s official activity concerned the faith of all his churches, he says ὑμῶν with the same right of individualizing reference as in δἰ ὑμᾶς at Php 1:24 and many other passages. The passage is peculiarly misunderstood by Hofmann, who holds that ἐπί has the sense in association with; that τῆς πίστεως ὑμ. is the genitive of apposition to θυσίᾳ and λειτουργ.; that the sacrificing and ministering subject is not the apostle, but the Philippian church, which, when it became believing, had presented its own sacrifice to God, and has been constantly honouring Him with its own work of service. Accordingly Paul says that, even though his labours should end in a violent death, yet the shedding of his blood would not be an isolated drink-offering, but would associate itself with their sacrifice. But this would only make him say, with artificial mysteriousness, something which is perfectly self-evident (namely: after that ye became believers, and whilst ye are believers). Moreover, ἐπί would thus be made to express two very different relations, namely, with τῇ θυσίᾳ after, after that, and with the λειτουργίᾳ at, during. And how could a reader discover from the mere ἐπί κ.τ.λ. the alleged antithetical reference of an isolated drink-offering, especially as no antithesis of the persons is even indicated by ὑμῶν being placed first (immediately after ἐπί)? The entire explanation is a forced artificial expedient in consequence of the mistaken assumption that an apodosis begins after σπένδομαι, and a new section sets in with χαίρω.[134]

ΧΑΊΡΩ] Apodosis down to ὙΜῖΝ: I rejoice, not at the θυσία κ. λειτουργία τῆς πίστ. ὑμ (Chrysostom, who connects ἘΠῚ Τ. ΘΥΣ. Κ.Τ.Λ. with ΧΑΊΡΩ; comp. Oecumenius; so also Rilliet), for it is mere arbitrariness to separate the sacrificial expressions ΣΠΈΝΔΟΜΑΙ and ἘΠῚ Τ. ΘΥΣΊᾼ Κ.Τ.Λ. and attach them to different parts of the sentence, and because ΧΑΊΡΩ, as the point of the apodosis, would have been placed before ἐπὶ τ. θυσ. κ.τ.λ.; but at the σπένδεσθαι: I rejoice to be employed for so sacred a destination. Theophylact appropriately remarks: οὐχ ὡς ὁ ἀποθανούμενος λυποῦμαι, ἀλλὰ καὶ χαίρωὅτι σπονδὴ γίνομαι, and Theodoret: ΤΑῦΤΑ ΔῈ ΛΈΓΕΙ ΨΥΧΑΓΩΓῶΝ ΑὐΤΟῪς Κ. ΔΙΔΆΣΚΩΝ ΤΟῦ ΜΑΡΤΥΡΊΟΥ ΤῸ ΜΈΓΕΘΟς. Comp. Grotius, Heinrichs. The ground of the apostle’s joy, assumed by many (including Flatt, Hoelemann, Matthies, de Wette): because my death will tend to the advantage of the gospel (Php 1:20), and also the interpretation of Weiss: that joy at the progress of the Philippians towards perfection is intended, are both quite gratuitously imported into the passage. The explanation of it as referring generally to inward joyfulness of faith (Wiesinger) or divine serenity (Ewald), does not correspond with the protasis, according to which it must be joyfulness in the prospect of death. “Even if I am compelled to die in this sacrificial service, I rejoice therein,” and that, indeed, now for the case supposed; hence not future.

καὶ συγχ. πᾶσιν ὑμῖν] is wrongly explained by most commentators: “and I rejoice with you all” (so Chrysostom, Theophylact, Luther, Calvin, Heinrichs, Matthies, van Hengel, Rilliet, de Wette, Wiesinger, Ewald, Schneckenburger, Weiss, Hofmann, and many others); along with which explanation Chrysostom, Theophylact, and various of the older expositors, bring forward another ground for this joint joy than for the χαίρω (Chrysostom: ΧΑΊΡΩ ΜῈΝ, ὍΤΙ ΣΠΟΝΔΉ ΓΊΝΟΜΑΙ· ΣΥΓΧΑΊΡΩ ΔῈ, ὍΤΙ ΘΥΣΊΑΝ ΠΡΟΣΕΝΕΓΚΏΝ; comp. Schneckenburger). Decisive against this interpretation is the ΧΑΊΡΕΤΕ which follows in Php 2:18,—a summons which would be absurd, if ΣΝΓΧ. ὙΜ. meant: “I rejoice with you.” The Vulgate already rightly renders: congratulor (comp. Jerome, Beza, Castalio, Grotius, Storr, Flatt, Rheinwald, Hoelemann, Bisping, Ellicott, Lightfoot), I congratulate you, all, namely, on the fact that I am poured out in the service of your faith. Such a martyrdom, namely, for the sake of their faith, how it must have elevated and honoured the readers, their whole church; for such a martyr death concerned them all! Comp. on Ephesians 3:13; it redounds to their glory, if the apostle sheds his blood on account of their Christian standing established by him. It is in this light that Paul wishes his σπένδεσθαι, should it occur, to be regarded by his readers, and therefore gracefully and ingeniously represents it (though Hofmann holds this to be impossible) as something on which he must congratulate them all. Pauline linguistic usage is not to be urged in objection to this view (Weiss), as Paul employs συγχαίρω elsewhere only in the passages 1 Corinthians 12:26; 1 Corinthians 13:6, and these are balanced by Php 2:17-18 here. Van Hengel and de Wette have erroneously objected that it would have been ΣΥΓΧΑΊΡΟΜΑΙ (3Ma 1:8). The active as well as the middle may convey either meaning, to rejoice along with, or gratulari (Polyb. xxix. 29:7. 4, xxx. 10. 1; Plut. Mor. p. 231 B; 3Ma 1:8). See Valckenaer, Schol. I. p. 54.

[132] This (since the time of Chrysostom) unanimous interpretation of the figurative expression has been abandoned by Otto, Pastoralbr. p. 214 f., who explains it as referring, not to the shedding of blood, but to the severance of the apostle’s life in his vocation from intercourse with the world by his imprisonment. An abortive suggestion, the forced result of incorrect assumptions.

[133] On this mode of libation rests the expression ἐπισπένδειν, to pour a libation over something (Herod. ii. 39, iv. 60. 62, vii. 167; Aesch. Ag. 1395; Plut. Romans 4).

[134] In which χαίρω κ. σνγχαίρω πᾶσιν ὑμῖν are supposed to serve merely as an introduction for the exhortation which follows; thus Paul would be made to say, that even for that supposed case of the σπένδεσθαι he is in a joyful mood, and he rejoices with any person in the church whose heart is joyful (all this is supposed to be implied in πᾶσιν ὑμῖν!).


17. Yea, and if &c.] He takes up the last word, characteristically. “Laboured for you, did I say? Nay, if I have to say also died, poured out my heart’s blood, it is only joy to me.”

be offered upon] Lit. and better, am being shed as a libation upon. The imagery is sacrificial. He views the Philippians as an altar-sacrifice, a burnt-offering, in their character of consecrated believers; and upon that sacrifice the drink-offering, the libation, the outpoured wine, is Paul’s life-blood, Paul as their missionary martyr. On the libations of the Mosaic ritual, cp. Numbers 15:3-10, where the drink-offering appears as a conspicuous detail in the rite of the burnt-offering. Bp Lightfoot thinks that a reference to the pagan ritual of libation is more likely, in an Epistle to a Church of Gentile converts. But surely St Paul familiarized all his converts with O.T. symbolism; and his own mind was of course deeply impregnated with it.——The same word, but without any detail of imagery, appears again 2 Timothy 4:6, on the then actual eve of St Paul’s death by the sword.—“The present tense [‘am being shed’] places the hypothesis vividly before the eyes: but it does not … refer to present dangers … comp. e.g. Matthew 12:26” (Lightfoot).—Ignatius (To the Romans, c. 2) speaks of being “libated to God”; probably an allusion to this phrase.

the sacrifice and service of your faith] As we have just explained, their faith in Jesus Christ, resulting in their living self-sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1), constituted them as it were victims at a spiritual altar, and their lives a sacerdotal ritual or “service.” Cp. for an instructive parallel Romans 15:16, with note in this Series.—These are the only two passages in his whole writings where the Apostle applies the language of sacerdotalism to the work of the Christian ministry. (See Appendix C.) It is remarkable that in each place the language is obviously that of figure and, so to speak, poetry. In the Ep. to the Romans, “the Gentiles” are “the oblation,” and “the glad-tidings” is the matter on which his “priest-work” is exercised. In this passage the Philippians are both “sacrifice” and “altar-ministers,” while Paul is the “libation.”

I joy, and rejoice with you all] Again the warm and significant words, “you all.”—His willing death for Christ, viewed as a last contribution to their spiritual good, a last aid in their life of believing self-consecration, would be a personal joy to him, and an occasion of united joy with them or (as Lightfoot explains the phrase here) congratulation of them. The Apostle assumes that they would rejoice, with the deep joy of men who shared the martyr spirit. Cp. Ephesians 3:13 for a somewhat similar thought.

Polycarp’s Epistle (see our Introduction, ch. 5) almost begins with a phrase which is a reminiscence of this sentence and Php 4:10.

Php 2:17. Ἀλλʼ εἰ καὶ, but if even) Look back at Php 1:22, note.—εἰ καὶ σπένδομαι ἐπὶ τῇ θυσίᾳ καὶ λειτουργίᾳ, Engl. Vers. if I am even offered upon the sacrifice and service; Bengel gives, if I am poured out on the victim and sacrifice) The Philippians, as well as the other nations converted to the faith, were the oblation; Paul was the minister [not here primarily, the offering, or oblation, as Engl. Vers. implies], Romans 15:16; and as at the holocausts, a libation of wine was usually made, and it was poured out at the base of the altar, so Paul rejoices that his blood should be poured out. The future accomplishment of the sacrifice was matter of joy to both. Here is the superior excellence of martyrdom. The phrase is in consonance with the punishment of the sword, which awaited Paul.—θυσίᾳ, the victim, the sacrifice) To this refer, I rejoice with you, rejoice ye.—λειτουργίᾳ, service) To this refer, I rejoice, and rejoice ye with me.

Verse 17. - Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith. He again compares the advantages of life and death, as in Philippians 1:20-25. In the last verse he was speaking of the possibility of looking back from the day of Christ upon a life of prolonged labor. Here he supposes the other alternative. The form of the sentence, the particles used (λειτουργία), and the indicative verb, all imply that the apostle looked forward to a martyr's death as the probable end of his life of warfare: Yea. he if I am even offered, as seems likely, and as I expect. Offered; the word means "poured out" as a libation or drink offering. St. Paul regards his blood shed in martyrdom as a libation poured forth in willing sacrifice. See 2 Timothy 4:6, Ἐγὼ γὰρ ἤδη σπένδομαι, "I am already being poured forth: the libation is commencing, the time of my departure is at hand." Compare also the similar words of Ignatius, 'Rom.' 2, and the words of the dying Seneca (Tacitus, 'Annals,' 15:64). Some think that the apostle, writing, as he does, to converted heathen, draws his metaphor from heathen sacrifices: in those sacrifices the libation was a much more important element than the drink offering in the Mosaic rites; and it was poured upon the sacrifice, whereas the drink offering seems to have been poured around the altar, not upon it. On the other hand, the preposition ἐπὶ is constantly used of the Jewish drink offering, and does not necessarily mean upon, but only "in addition to," or "at;" the drink offering being an accompaniment to the sacrifice. Service (λειτουργία). This important word denotes in classical Greek

(1) certain costly public offices at Athens, discharged by the richer citizens in rotation;

(2) any service or function In the Greek Scriptures it is used of priestly ministrations (Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:21; comp. also Romans 15:16). In ecclesiastical Greek it stands for the order of the Holy Communion, the ancient liturgies; it is sometimes used loosely for any set form of public prayer. The analogy of Romans 12:1, Where St. Paul exhorts Christians to present their bodies a living sacrifice, suggests that here the Philippians are regarded as priests (comp. 1 Peter 3:5), offering the sacrifice of their faith, their hearts, themselves, in the ministrations of the spiritual priesthood; St. Paul's blood being represented as the accompanying drink offering. Others, comparing Romans 15:16, where also sacrificial words are used, regard St. Paul himself as the ministering priest, and understand the metaphor of a priest slain at the altar, his blood being shed while he is offering the sacrifice of their faith. I joy, and rejoice with you all. Meyer, Bengel, and others prefer "congratulate" as the rendering of συγχαίρω "I rejoice with you." Philippians 2:17I am offered (σπένδομαι)

Lit., I am poured out as a libation. The figure is that of a sacrifice, in which the Philippians are the priests, offering their faith to God, and Paul's life is the libation poured out at this offering. Compare 2 Corinthians 12:15; 2 Timothy 4:6. Ignatius: "Brethren, I am lavishly poured out in love for you" (Philadelphia, 5).

Upon the sacrifice, etc. (ἐπί)

The image is probably drawn from heathen rather than from Jewish sacrifices, since Paul was writing to converted heathen. According to Josephus, the Jewish libation was poured round and not upon the altar; but the preposition ἐπί used here, was also used to describe it. At all events, ἐπί may be rendered at, which would suit either.

Sacrifice and service (θυσίᾳ καὶ λειτουργίᾳ)

Sacrifice, as uniformly in the New Testament, the thing sacrificed. Service, see on ministration, Luke 1:23, and see on ministered, Acts 13:2. In the Old Testament, used habitually of the ministry of priests and Levites; also of Samuel's service to God; 1 Samuel 2:18; 1 Samuel 3:1. Of service to men, 1 Kings 1:4, 1 Kings 1:15. In the apostolic writings this and its kindred words are used of services to both God and man. See Romans 13:6; Romans 15:16; Luke 1:23; Romans 15:27; 2 Corinthians 9:12; Philippians 2:25.

Of your faith

Offered by you as a sacrifice to God.

Rejoice with (συγχαίρω)

There seems to be no sufficient reason for rendering congratulate.

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