And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. Here again the apostle prays that that love for Christ, which they had shown in their deep, generous, and practical sympathy for him as Christ's minister, might not merely continue, but abound yet more and more. "The original verb here," says Dr. Barry, "signifies to overflow, a sense which our word 'abound' properly has, but has in general usage partially lost; and St. Paul's meaning clearly is that love shall not only primarily fill the heart, but overflow in secondary influence on the spiritual understanding." The words suggest that the augrmentation of Christly love ensures the improvement of the whole man. It secures -
I. THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE INTELLECT. It promotes:
1. Knowledge. "And this I pray, that your love may abound... in knowledge (epignosei)." The knowledge here must be regarded as spiritual knowledge - the knowledge of God in Christ. "Here St. Paul singles out the kind of love - the enthusiasm of love to God and man, which he knew that the Philippians had - and prays that it may overflow from the emotional to the intellectual element of their nature, and become, as we constantly see that it does become, in simple and loving characters, a means of spiritual insight in knowledge and all 'judgment,' or rather, all perception." Love is the inspiration of all true knowledge. As we love an object, the more stimulus has the intellect to inquire into everything concerning it or him. The more love for God abounds, the more earnest will the intellect be in "inquiring in his temple "and the universe.
2. Perception. "And in all judgment (aisthesei)." This means, perhaps, discernment or insight. There is evidently a distinction between mere intelligence and intuition. I may know all the facts of a man's life, and vet not possess that insight into his inner springs of action necessary to understand him. There are great technical theologians, who lack the spiritual eye to peer into the underlying, eternal, principles of truth. It is love that opens and quickens this eye of "judgment," or spiritual discrimination.
3. Shrewdness. "That ye may approve things that are excellent;" margin, "that ye may try things that differ." Shrewdness is that faculty of the mind which enables a man almost without the use of the critical power to see the reality under all the forms with which it is invested. There are many intelligent men - men, too, of intuition, who are not shrewd, not quick and accurate in the discernment of the worth of things. Now, love to God promotes this intellectual shrewdness of soul, the shrewdness that guards it from all imposture. This is an age in which men talk much of intellectual improvement, and numerous mechanical methods are proposed. But here is the infallible one. Let men's love to God abound more and more, and all the wheels of intellect will be set ageing.
II. THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE CONSCIENCE. Here the language of the text implies that this love improves the conscience.
1. By giving it a sympathy with the true only. "Things that are excellent." The original constitution of conscience was to do this evermore. It does this in heaven; it once, perhaps, did this on earth; but now, alas! throughout the greater portion of the race in all lands, its sympathies are not with "the things that are excellent." So awfully has it been corrupted that it yields its concurrence to idolatry, cruelty, priestcrafts, frauds, and falsehoods of endless kinds. When true love to God acts upon it, nothing but "the things that are excellent" will do for it; it rejects, spurns, and damns all others.
2. By making it thoroughly sincere. "That ye may be sincere (eillkrineis)." This word is only used here and in 2 Peter 1:8; and the corresponding substantive, "sincerity," in 1 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 2:17. It signifies purity tested and found clear of all base mixtures, a genuine, incorruptible conscience - a conscience that leads a man to sacrifice all he has, even life itself, rather than swerve an iota from the right and the true. Love to God promotes such a conscience. It did so with the apostles, with all the holy martyrs, and with the Divine Man himself.
3. By securing it from blameableness. "Without offense." In the Acts we read of a "conscience void of offense towards God and man." It is essential that such a conscience should rule the entire man, and that itself should be ruled by the will of the great God. According to the law of mind, the object we love most becomes our moral monarch: when God becomes the paramount object of our affection, he becomes the Ruler of our conscience. This state of conscience is to be "till the day of Christ." It does not mean that it will end afterwards, but that after that it is sure to be perpetuated.
III. THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE LIFE. "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness," etc. Paul's language in Romans 6:22 may be taken as a commentary on this expression: "Being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." Observe:
1. That a righteous life comes to us through Christ. "The fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ." Men are only made morally right by faith in Christ. Philosophically there is no other way of doing so. Christ came into the world to make man morally right, or, to use Old Testament language, to establish rectitude or judgment on the earth.
2. That a righteous life redounds to the glory of God. "Unto the glory and praise of God." It is the highest manifestation of God - it is God "manifested in the flesh." "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." But the "fruits of righteousness," or a righteous life, are ensured only by the abounding and the overflowing of love to God in the soul. All must be love. Love is not only the inspiration of God, the root of the universe, but the fountain of all virtue and happiness. Let love, then, abound. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;