Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi…
I. THE AUTHOR.
1. Paul had full confidence in the love and obedience of the Philippians. Hence, as in Thessalonians, he drops the official title, because he knew that no such assertion of his claim to be heard and obeyed was needed.
2. He introduces the name of Timothy as his dear friend, well known to the Philippians. This was natural, but was only a courtesy. The letter is Paul's alone, and carries with it full apostolic authority. When Timothy is referred to again it is in the third person (chap. Philippians 2:10).
3. The designation, "servants," etc., is a beautiful one. James, the Lord's brother, similarly begins his letter. It describes all who, by taking Christ as their Master, have entered into true freedom.
II. THE CHURCH.
(1) This is a most instructive paraphrase for "Church." The radical thought is consecration. Believers are by their Saviour's grace separated from the world to serve God. Our secular life Christ would have us make holy. We are apt to think of a Christian as one who accepts certain doctrines and performs certain services. The only satisfying proof that the gospel has been believed is holiness of character.
(2) The secret of true saintliness — "in Christ Jesus." Out of Christ none are saints. Believers, because they are "in Him," have within them the pulsations and working of His life.
(3) All the saints are addressed to show the warmth of the apostle's affection, his impartiality, and his desire that all should love one another.
2. Bishops and deacons. These are mentioned probably because —
(1) Paul wished to acknowledge their liberality through Epaphroditus; or —
(2) To support their authority, which may have been impugned; or —
(3) In reply to a letter subscribed by them, as in Acts 15:22-23.
III. THE PRAYER. The highest form of Christian life is seen when energetic love is fully pervaded by a spirit of gentleness and sympathy, exhibiting itself in true politeness to all of all social positions, and in little things as well as great. Paul's letters, written in the midst of arduous work, yet show diligent attention to all the kindly courtesies of social life.
1. From "grace," the free favour of God, come all our blessings. Its reference here is to the manifestation of the Divine favour in the enlightening and sanctifying influences of the Holy Ghost. Grace to transform the naturally sinful into the likeness of the sinless Jesus is what is asked of God.
2. The meet companion of grace is peace, springing from the knowledge of God's love in Christ. An Eastern, when he enters a house, says, "Peace be to this house," as thoughtlessly as we say, "Good morning"; but the courtesies of Christians should have reality of significance.
3. The prayer is presented to God our Father, "from whom cometh every good gift," and the Lord Jesus Christ who humbled Himself that, in a way consistent with the glory of the Divine character, "grace and peace" might be bestowed on man.
(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: