Philippians 4:17
Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
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(17) Fruit that may abound (rather, abounds) to your account.—The metaphor is still kept, hardly disturbed by the introduction of the word “fruit,” since this is so constantly used in the sense of “recompense” that it readily lends itself to pecuniary associations. There is, says St. Paul, “the fruit” of reward, which “is over” as a surplus, or rather a balance, “placed to their account.” Their gift is a token of love and gratitude to him; but, as Christian almsgiving, it is something more, and what that something more is will be seen hereafter, when all accounts shall be finally taken. The idea is not unlike that of Proverbs 19:17, “He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and behold, what he layeth out it shall be paid him again.”

4:10-19 It is a good work to succour and help a good minister in trouble. The nature of true Christian sympathy, is not only to feel concern for our friends in their troubles, but to do what we can to help them. The apostle was often in bonds, imprisonments, and necessities; but in all, he learned to be content, to bring his mind to his condition, and make the best of it. Pride, unbelief, vain hankering after something we have not got, and fickle disrelish of present things, make men discontented even under favourable circumstances. Let us pray for patient submission and hope when we are abased; for humility and a heavenly mind when exalted. It is a special grace to have an equal temper of mind always. And in a low state not to lose our comfort in God, nor distrust his providence, nor take any wrong course for our own supply. In a prosperous condition not to be proud, or secure, or worldly. This is a harder lesson than the other; for the temptations of fulness and prosperity are more than those of affliction and want. The apostle had no design to urge them to give more, but to encourage such kindness as will meet a glorious reward hereafter. Through Christ we have grace to do what is good, and through him we must expect the reward; and as we have all things by him, let us do all things for him, and to his glory.Not because I desire a gift - "The reason why I rejoice in the reception of what you have sent to me, is not that I am covetous." From the interest with which he had spoken of their attention to him, some might perhaps be disposed to say, that it arose from this cause. He says, therefore, that, grateful as he was for the favor which he had received, his chief interest in it arose from the fact that it would contribute ultimately to their own good. It showed that they were governed by Christian principle, and this would not fall to be rewarded. What Paul states here is by no means impossible; though it may not be very common. In the reception of layouts from others, it is practicable to rejoice in them mainly, because their bestowment will be a means of good to the benefactor himself. All our selfish feelings and gratifications may be absorbed and lost in the superior joy which we have in seeing others actuated by a right spirit, and in the belief that they will be rewarded. This feeling is one of the fruits of Christian kindness. It is that which leads us to look away from self, and to rejoice in every evidence that others will be made happy.

I desire fruit - The word "fruit" is often used in the Scriptures, as elsewhere, to denote results, or that which is produced. Thus, we speak of punishment as the fruit of sin, poverty as the fruit of idleness, and happiness as the fruit of a virtuous life. The language is taken from the fact, that a man reaps or gathers the fruit or result of that which he plants.

To your account - A phrase taken from commercial dealings. The apostle wished that it might be set down to their credit. He desired that when they came to appear before God, they might reap the benefit of all the acts of kindness which they had shown him.

17. a gift—Greek, "the gift." Translate, "It is not that I seek after the gift, but I do seek after the fruit that aboundeth to your account"; what I do seek is your spiritual good, in the abounding of fruits of your faith which shall be put down to your account, against the day of reward (Heb 6:10). Neither would he have any of them to think, as if his commendation of them were any oblique insinuations, with design to draw something more from them; he would have them to understand he did not seek himself, or theirs for his use, (as elsewhere, 1 Corinthians 10:33 2 Corinthians 12:14), but his great intent was, that they themselves might of God’s grace have the fruit of their charity they had showed to him, Philippians 1:11 4:10; which, in the balancing of the accounts, (by accepting as it were of Christ’s will, Proverbs 19:17 Matthew 10:42 25:35,36,40), will turn to their best advantage. Not because I desire a gift,.... This commendation of them he entered into, not because he desired another present to be made to him, either by them or others; he was not a man of such a disposition, he was not like one of those that could never have enough; he was fully satisfied and highly contented with what he had; he was not like the false teachers, that made merchandise of men; he sought not theirs, but them:

but I desire fruit that may abound to your account; he had planted them, or had been an instrument in planting of them, as trees of righteousness, Isaiah 61:3; and his great desire was to see fruits of righteousness grow upon them, Philippians 1:11; by which sometimes are meant acts of beneficence, as in 2 Corinthians 9:10; and that these might be abundant and turn to their profit and advantage, as such fruit does; for God does not forget to recompence acts of bounty, and labours of love, but if even a cup of cold water is given to a prophet or minister of Christ, on account of his being so, it shall have its reward in the issue of things, upon the casting up of accounts, Matthew 10:42; for the apostle still has reference unto that; his view was, that the balance might be on their side, and that much might be received by them; so that it was not for himself, but for their encouragement and future good, he said this; for as for himself he adds,

{10} Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

(10) He witnesses again that he admits well of their benefit, not so much for his own sake as for theirs, because they gave it not so much to him, as they offered it to God as a sacrifice, of which the Lord himself will not be forgetful.

Php 4:17. Just as in Php 4:11 Paul anticipated a possible misunderstanding in respect to Php 4:10, so here in reference to the praises contained in Php 4:14 ff. This, he would say, is not the language of material desire, but, etc.

οὐχ ὅτι κ.τ.λ.] as in Php 4:11 : I do not mean by this to convey that my desire is directed towards the gift (the emphasis being laid on τὸ δόμα)—this, namely, taken in and by itself—in which case the article means the donation accruing to him as the case occurred, and the present ἐπιζητῶ denotes the constant and characteristic striving after (Bernhardy, p. 370): it is not my business, etc. The compound verb indicates by ἐπί the direction. Comp. on ἐπιποθῶ, Php 1:8, and on Matthew 6:33; Romans 11:7. The view which regards it as strengthening the simple verb (studiose quaero, so Hoelemann and others) is not implied in the context any more than the sense: insuper quaero (Polyb. i. 5. 3); so van Hengel, who indelicately, and notwithstanding the article, explains τὸ δόμα as still more gifts.

ἀλλʼ ἐπιζητῶ] The repetition of the verb after ἀλλά makes the contrast stand out independently with special emphasis; comp. Romans 8:15; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 137.

τὸν καρπὸν κ.τ.λ.] This is what Paul desires, towards which his wishes and endeavours are directed: the fruit which abounds to your account; not, therefore, a gain which he wishes to have for himself, but gain for the Philippians. So completely is his ἐπιζητεῖν devoid of any selfish aim,—which, however, would not be the case, if the ἐπιζητῶ τὸ δόμα were true. This applies against Hofmann’s objection, that the καρπός must be something which Paul himself desires to have; the notion of ἐπιζητῶ is anquiro, appeto, and this indeed applies to personal possession in the negative half of the sentence; but then the second half expresses the real state of the case, which does away with the notion of selfishness.

The καρπός itself cannot be the fruit of the gospel (Ewald), or of the labour of the apostle (Weiss); but, in accordance with the context, only the fruit of the δόμα, that is, the blessing which accrues from the gift to the givers; comp. on Php 4:15. By this is meant[193] the divine recompense at the judgment (2 Corinthians 9:6), which they will then receive, as if it were the product of their account, for their labour of love (Matthew 25:34 ff.). This produce of their δόμα is figuratively conceived as fruit, which is largely placed to the credit of their account, in order to be drawn by them at the day of harvest (comp. also Galatians 6:7 ff.). Comp. Php 4:19. In substance it is the treasure in heaven that is meant (Matthew 19:21; Matthew 6:20), which will be received at the Parousia. Comp. on Colossians 1:5. The figurative εἰς λόγον ὑμῶν, which here also is not to be understood, with Bengel, Storr, Flatt, Rilliet, and others, as equivalent to εἰς ὑμᾶς, is the completion of the figure in Php 4:15; although there is no need to explain καρπός as interest (Salmasius, Michaelis, who thinks in πλεονάζ. of compound interest, Zachariae, Heinrichs), because it is difficult to see why Paul, if he used this figure, should not have applied to it the proper term (τόκος), and because the idea of interest is quite alien to that of the δόμα (a present).

τ. πλεονάζ. εἰς λόγον ὑμῶν] to be taken together (see above); εἰς states the destination of the πλεομάζ. Van Hengel and de Wette needlessly break up the passage by coupling εἰς λόγ. ὑμ. with ἐπιζητῶ, because πλεονάζειν with εἰς is not used elsewhere by Paul (not even 2 Thessalonians 1:3). The preposition is in fact not determined by the word in itself, but by its logical reference, and may therefore be any one which the reference requires.

[193] Not the active manifestation of the Christian life (Matthies, Rilliet, Hofmann; comp. Vatablus, Musculus, Piscator, Zanchius; Flatt and Rheinwald mingle together heterogeneous ideas); for only the fruit of the δόμα can be meant, not the δόμα itself as fruit, which is produced in the shape of the love-gift (Hofmann).Php 4:17. τὸ δόμα. It is not the actual gift put into Paul’s hands which has brought him joy, but the giving (δόσις, Php 4:15) and the meaning of that giving. It is the truest index to the abiding reality of his work.—καρπὸνπλεονάζονταλόγον. We believe that Chr[64]. is right in regarding these terms as belonging to the money-market. ὁ καρπὸς ἐκείνοις τίκτεται (Chr[65].). “Interest accumulating to your credit.” This is favoured by the language of Php 4:15-16 supr. πλεονάζειν is never used in a good sense in classical Greek, but always = “exceed,” “go beyond bounds”.

[64] Chrysostom.

[65] Chrysostom.17. Not &c.] Here again see the sensitive delicacy of love. This allusion to the cherished past, begun with the wish to shew that he needed no present proof of sympathy, might after all be taken to be “thanks for future” liberality. It shall not be so.

desire] Better, with R.V., seek. The verb occurs e.g. Matthew 12:39; Romans 11:7. Both its form and usage suggest here the appropriate meaning of an active, restless search; a “hunting for” the object.

a gift] Lit. and much better, the gift; the mere money of the collection.

desire] Again, seek: the same idea, with a beautiful change of reference.

fruit that may abound] Lit. and better, the fruit &c.—St Chrysostom’s comment here, in which he uses the Greek verb akin to the noun (tokos) meaning interest on money, seems to imply that he, a Greek, understood the phrase to be borrowed from the money-market. If so, we may translate, the interest that is accruing to your credit. The imagery, by its very paradox, would be appropriate in this passage of ingenious kindness. The only objection to the rendering is that the precise Greek words are not actually found in special pecuniary connexions, though they would easily fit into them.

“That may”:that does is certainly right, and in point. He regards it as as a present certainty that “God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16) with their gift of love, and that the blessed “profit” of His “well done, good and faithful” (Matthew 25:21) is secure for them.Php 4:17. Οὐχʼ ὅτι, not that) He explains why he uses many words.—ἐπιζητῶ, I seek) having welcomed your kindness.—εἰς λόγον ὑμῶν) [to your account] in respect to you.Verse 17. - Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account; rather, as R.V., not that I seek for the gift; but I seek for the fruit that creaseth to your account. He shrinks sensitively from the danger of being mistaken; his words are not to be understood as a hint for further gifts. It is not the gift that he desires; but there is something which he longs for, and that is, charity, the fruit of the Spirit, showing itself in the generosity of the Philippians - the fruit of good works, continually increasing, and set down in heaven to their account.
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