Philippians 2:4
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
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(4) Look not every man on his own things.—This verse similarly describes the positive effect of this “being of one mind” as consisting in power of understanding and sympathy towards “the things of others”—not merely the interests, but also the ideas and feelings of others. To “look upon” here is something more than “to seek” (as in Philippians 2:21). It expresses that insight into the thoughts, hopes, aspirations of others, which only a self-forgetting love can give, as well as the care to consider their welfare and happiness. Yet by the word “also” we see that St. Paul does not, in the spirit of some forms of modern transcendentalism, denounce all self-consciousness and self-love, as in a bad sense “selfish.” For man is individual as well as social; he can subordinate “his own things” to “the things of others,” but cannot ignore them.

2:1-4 Here are further exhortations to Christian duties; to like-mindedness and lowly-mindedness, according to the example of the Lord Jesus. Kindness is the law of Christ's kingdom, the lesson of his school, the livery of his family. Several motives to brotherly love are mentioned. If you expect or experience the benefit of God's compassions to yourselves, be compassionate one to another. It is the joy of ministers to see people like-minded. Christ came to humble us, let there not be among us a spirit of pride. We must be severe upon our own faults, and quick in observing our own defects, but ready to make favourable allowances for others. We must kindly care for others, but not be busy-bodies in other men's matters. Neither inward nor outward peace can be enjoyed, without lowliness of mind.Look not every man on his own things - That is, be not selfish. Do not let your care and attention be wholly absorbed by your own concerns, or by the concerns of your own family. Evince a tender interest for the happiness of the whole, and let the welfare of others lie near your hearts. This, of course, does not mean that there is to be any improper interference in the business of others, or that we are to have the character of "busy-bodies in other people's matters" (compare the 2 Thessalonians 3:11, note; 1 Timothy 5:13, note; 1 Peter 4:15, note); but that we are to regard with appropriate solicitude the welfare of others, and to strive to do them good.

But every man also on the things of others - It is the duty of every man to do this. No one is at liberty to live for himself or to disregard the wants of others. The object of this rule is to break up the narrow spirit of selfishness, and to produce a benevolent regard for the happiness of others. In respect to the rule we may observe:

(1) We are not to be "busybodies" in the concerns of others; see the references above. We are not to attempt to pry into their secret purposes. Every man has his own plans, and thoughts, and intentions, which no other one has a right to look into. Nothing is more odious than a meddler in the concerns of others.

(2) we are not to obtrude our advice where it is not sought, or at unseasonable times and places, even if the advice is in itself good. No one likes to be interrupted to hear advice; and I have no right to require that he should suspend his business in order that I may give him counsel.

(3) we are not to find fault with what pertains exclusively to him. We are to remember that there are some things which are his business, not ours; and we are to learn to "possess our souls in patience," if he does not give just as much as we think be ought to benevolent objects, or if he dresses in a manner not to please our taste, or if he indulges in things which do not accord exactly with our views. He may see reasons for his conduct which we do not; and it is possible that be may be right, and that, if we understood the whole case, we should think and act as he does. We often complain of a man because be does not give as much as we think he ought, to objects of charity; and it is possible that he may be miserably stubborn and narrow. But it is also possible that he may be more embarrassed than we know of; or that he may just then have demands against him of which we are ignorant; or that he may have numerous poor relatives dependent on him; or that he gives much with "the left hand" which is not known by "the right hand." At any rate, it is his business, not ours; and we are not qualified to judge until we understand the whole case.

(4) we are not to be gossips about the concerns of others. We are not to hunt up small stories, and petty scandals respecting their families; we are not to pry into domestic affairs, and divulge them abroad, and find pleasure in circulating snell things from house to house. There are domestic secrets, which are not to be betrayed; and there is scarcely an offence of a meaner or more injurious character than to divulge to the public what we have seen a family whose hospitality we have enjoyed.

(5) where Christian duty and kindness require us to look into the concerns of others, there should be the utmost delicacy. Even children have their own secrets, and their own plans and amusements, on a small scale, quite as important to them as the greater games which we are playing in life; and they will feel the meddlesomeness of a busybody to be as odious to them as we should in our plans. A delicate parent, therefore, who has undoubtedly a right to know all about his children, will not rudely intrude into their privacies, or meddle with their concerns. So, when we visit the sick, while we show a tender sympathy for them, we should not be too particular in inquiring into their maladies or their feelings. So, when those with whom we sympathize have brought their calamities on themselves by their own fault, we should not ask too many questions about it. We should not too closely examine one who is made poor by intemperance, or who is in prison for crime. And so, when we go to sympathize with those who have been, by a reverse of circumstances, reduced from affluence to penury, we should not ask too many questions. We should let them tell their own story. If they voluntarily make us their confidants, and tell us all about their circumstances, it is well; but let us not drag out the circumstances, or wound their feelings by our impertinent inquiries, or our indiscreet sympathy in their affairs. There are always secrets which the sons and daughters of misfortune would wish to keep to themselves.

However, while these things are true, it is also true that the rule before us positively requires us to show an interest in the concerns of others; and it may be regarded as implying the following things:

(1) We are to feel that the spiritual interests of everyone in the church is, in a certain sense, our own interest. The church is one. It is confederated together for a common object. Each one is entrusted with a portion of the honor of the whole, and the conduct of one member affects the character of all. We are, therefore, to promote, in every way possible, the welfare of every other member of the church. If they go astray, we are to admonish and entreat them; if they are in error, we are to instruct them; if they are in trouble, we are to aid them. Every member of the church has a claim on the sympathy of his brethren, and should be certain of always finding it when his circumstances are such as to demand it.

(2) there are circumstances where it is proper to look with special interest on the temporal concerns of others. It is when the poor, the fatherless, and the afflicted must be sought out in order to be aided and relieved. They are too retiring and modest to press their situation on the attention of others, and they need that others should manifest a generous care in their welfare in order to relieve them. This is not improper interference in their concerns, nor will it be so regarded.

(3) for a similar reason, we should seek the welfare of all others in a spiritual sense. We should seek to arouse the sinner, and lead him to the Saviour. He is blind, and will not come himself; unconcerned, and will not seek salvation; filled with the love of this world, and will not seek a better; devoted to pursuits that will lead him to ruin, and he ought to be apprised of it. It is no more an improper interference in his concerns to apprise him of his condition, and to attempt to lead him to the Saviour, than it is to warn a man in a dark night, who walks on the verge of a precipice, of his peril; or to arouse one from sleep whose house is in flames. In like manner, it is no more meddling with the concerns of another to tell him that there is a glorious heaven which may be his, than it is to apprise a man that there is a mine of golden ore on his farm. It is for the man's own interest, and it is the office of a friend to remind him of these things. He does a man a favor who tells him that he has a Redeemer, and that there is a heaven to which he may rise; he does his neighbor the greatest possible kindness who apprises him that there is a world of infinite woe, and tells him of an easy way by which he may escape it. The world around is dependant on the church of Christ to be apprised of these truths. The frivolous ones will not warn the fools of their danger; the crowd that presses to the theater or the ballroom will not apprise those who are there that they are in the broad way to hell; and everyone who loves his neighbor, should feel sufficient interest in him to tell him that he may be eternally happy in heaven.

4. The oldest manuscripts read, "Not looking each of you (plural, Greek) on his own things (that is, not having regard solely to them), but each of you on the things of others" also. Compare Php 2:21; also Paul's own example (Php 1:24).Ver. 4,5. Let; most translations do express the causal or rather illative Greek particle, which ours doth here omit as an expletive. However, the apostle doth urge them to the exercise of self-denial, mutual love, and a hearty condescension to one another, from the great example of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 8:9: that so the mind which was in Christ may be perceived in us, who, if spiritual, judge all things and have the mind of Christ; being enlightened by the same Spirit, we do judge as he coming in the flesh did: or: Let the same affection be found in you that was really in him, Matthew 11:28 John 13:15.

Look, not every man on his own things,.... Not but that a man should take care of his worldly affairs, and look well unto them, and provide things honest in the sight of all men, for himself and his family, otherwise he would be worse than an infidel; but he is not to seek his own private advantage, and prefer it to a public good; accordingly the Syriac version reads it, "neither let anyone be careful of himself, but also everyone of his neighbour"; and the Arabic version thus, "and let none of you look to that which conduces to himself alone, but let everyone of you look to those things which may conduce to his friend"; but this respects spiritual things, and spiritual gifts: a Christian should not seek his own honour and applause, and to have his own will, and a point in a church carried his own way, but should consult the honour of Christ, the good of others, and the peace of the church; he should not look upon his own gifts, he may look upon them, and ascribe them to the grace of God, and make use of them to his glory, but not to admire them, or himself for them, and pride himself in them, and lift up himself above others, neglecting and taking no notice of the superior abilities of others:

but every man also on the things of others; not on their worldly things, busying himself with other men's matters, and which he has nothing to do with, but on the sentiments and reasons of others; which he should well weigh and consider, and if they outdo and overbalance his own, should yield unto them; he should take notice of the superior gifts of others, and own and acknowledge them; which is the way to submit to one another in the fear of God, and to promote truth, friendship, and love.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Php 2:4. The authorities are pretty evenly balanced in the case of the alternative readings ἕκαστος and ἕκαστοι (see crit. note). Probably edd. are right in preferring the latter, both on account of the variety of its witnesses and its aptness in the context. Besides, as the more difficult, it would be very liable to correction. σκοποῦντες has overwhelming authority in its favour. “No party having an eye for its own interests alone but also for those of the rest.” ἔκαστοι (frequent in this sense in classical Greek) = each group, each combination.—ἑτέρων. Used with strict correctness as opposed to ἑαυτῶν. It often has a less strict usage in N.T. From the gentle way in which he deals with them, we cannot suppose that there was as yet any serious rent in the Philippian Church. Probably he has already in mind the party feeling roused by the disagreement between Euodia and Syntyche. The opinion of the Christian community was divided. This might, of course, lead to serious issues. He has already implored them to be of the same mind (Php 2:2). The way of reaching this harmony is unselfishness. “Paul’s ethic is at least as much a social as an individual ethic” (Hitzm., N.T. Th., ii., 162. Instructive discussion).

4. Look] Better, with documentary evidence, looking.—“Look … on” becomes in R.V. “look … to,” a change not greatly needed.—The look is the look of sympathy, kindly interest, self-forgetful cooperation. This short verse is a noble and far-reaching lesson in Christian ethics.

every man … every man] The Greek here, in the first case probably, in the second certainly, gives “each” in the plural; a phrase which may be paraphrased “each circle,” “each set,” or the like. If cliques or petty factions were the bane of the Philippian Church this language would have a special point.

Php 2:4. Μὴ τὰ ἑαυτῶν) not merely your own interest, nor on your own account: comp. Php 2:21.—μὴ τὰτὸ) Perverted usefulness is manifold; true usefulness is simple and one.[15] This is the difference between ΤᾺ and ΤῸ.[16]

[15] Therefore the plural, τὰ, is used in the former case; the singular, τὸ, in the latter: a distinction lost in the reading of the Engl. Vers.—ED.

[16] The margin of the older Ed., which has the suffrage of the Germ. Vers., prefers the reading μὴ τὰκαὶ τὸ, but the margin of the 2d Ed. declares the reading τὸ, I know not whether at the beginning or end of the verse, not quite certain.—E. B.

None but inferior uncial MSS. read τὸ in the second position. ABC Vulg. and Rec. Text read καὶ τὰ. D corrected Gfg read τὰ τῶν.—ED.

Verse 4. - Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Translate, "looking," as R.V., not making one's own interest the one only object of life, but regarding also the interests, feelings, wishes, of others. Each man must in a measure look at his own things, - the καί implies that; but he must consider others if he is a Christian indeed. Philippians 2:4Look (σκοποῦντες)

Attentively: fixing the attention upon, with desire for or interest in. So Romans 16:17; Philippians 3:17; 2 Corinthians 4:18. Hence often to aim at; compare σκοπός the mark, Philippians 3:14. The participles esteeming and looking are used with the force of imperatives. See on Colossians 3:16.

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