Philippians 1:1

The Apostle Paul is as characteristic in his greetings as in the substance of his epistolary writings.

I. THE AUTHORS OF THE GREETING. "Paul and Timotheus, bond-slaves of Jesus Christ."

1. The apostle associates Timothy with himself as one who had labored at Philippi and was well known to the Christians of that city. Timothy, besides, was then his companion at Rome. It was natural that he should name the disciple who was associated with him through a longer range of time than any other - extending, indeed, from the date of his first missionary journey till near the very time of his martyrdom.

2. He does not call himself an apostle, because the assertion of his official designation was not needful at Philippi, but places himself on a level with Timothy, by bringing into prominence their common relationship to the Lord as "bond-slaves of Jesus Christ." They belonged to him as Master, and bore his marks in their very bodies, and were supremely devoted to his service.

II. THE PERSONS TO WHOM THE GREETING WAS ADDRESSED. "To the saints which are in Christ Jesus at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons."

1. They dwelt in Philipi, an important city of Macedonia, which, thirty-four years before, was the scene of a great battle which determined the prevalence of the imperial system of Rome. It was still more celebrated as the first city in Europe which received the gospel - "thus opening up the long vista of what has become Western Christendom."

2. They were "saints in Christ Jesus;" with a ten years' history. The title must have had a special force in the case of those addressed with such a warmth of affection. Their saintship was grounded in their union with Christ. It is interesting to mark the prominence of female names both in the first founding of the Church and in its later developments, as noticed in the Epistle. Who can say whether the delicate and untiring generosity of the Philippian Church to the apostle may not have been mainly due to these saintly women, who enjoyed in Macedonia, as women, a far more independent position than in other parts of the world? There is at all events a sweet tenderness in Philippian piety which made the designation of "saints" peculiarly appropriate.

3. The greeting was extended to the bishops and deaths along with the saints.

(1) This implies that Philippian Christianity was fully organized.

(2) It suggests that the bishops and deacons may have taken an active part in the contribution to the apostle's wants.

(3) Yet the apostle, by his mode of greeting, lends no sanction to hierarchical usurpation, for, instead of greeting "the bishops and deacons, together with the saints at Philippi," he assigns the first place to the Christian flock.

III. THE FRIENDLY GREETING OF THE APOSTLE. "Grace to you and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (see Homilies on Galatians 1:3 and Ephesians 1:2).

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi
1. Servants of Jesus Christ is the most royal title which human beings can assume.

2. Saints take precedence of bishops and deacons forasmuch as character is immortal, while office is but temporary.

3. All blessing is with the absolute; even the chief of the apostles can only bless ministerially, not primarily.

I. THE POWER OF MEMORY. Remembrance is a very heaven or hell. Memory follows man like his own shadow. A man of gladsome recollections can never be absolutely alone. Whenever the apostle took an excursion across the mountains and through the valleys of his gone lifetime he caught sight of the loving Philippians, and their very names gladdened him — as a long-absent traveller might be gladdened by the pinnacles of the city of his home.

II. MAN SERVES GOD BY AIDING GOD'S SERVANTS. Paul thanked God for the blessing of kind, helpful men.

III. THE MORE ENLARGED AND SUSCEPTIBLE THE HEART, THE MORE EASILY CAN SERVICE BE RENDERED TO IT. It is easier to win the benediction of a great and noble heart than of a withered and sapless bone. Look at Elisha and the woman of Shunem; see Christ blessing the woman for her one box of nard; and Paul prostrating himself before God at the little kindnesses of the Philippians.

IV. HOW GOOD A THING IT IS TO SERVE THE GREAT, AND INFERENTIALLY, HOW SUBLIME A THING TO LIVE AND DIE IN THE SERVICE OF THE GREATEST. If Paul remembered these benefactions, he has also left this testimony: "God is not unrighteous to forget your work of faith and labour of love." In both cases it is a question of memory. Nor will God forget the man who never does a good deed.

V. EACH OF US SHOULD LEAVE A MEMORY THAT SHALL BE CHERISHED AND BLESSED. A noble life is not necessarily made up of great efforts, but of little acts of consideration, well-timed smiles of encouragement, gentle words and generous interpretations. Not one of us, how hidden and feeble soever, need live a sterile life.

VI. EVERY MAN MUST DETERMINE FOR HIMSELF THE MEMORY HE LEAVES BEHIND HIM; whether he will so live that "every remembrance" of him shall induce thankfulness to God, or his name be a burden which memory would willingly cast off.

VII. PAUL STANDS FORTH AS AN ILLUSTRIOUS MAN WHILE THE PHILIPPIANS ARE NOT KNOWN TO US BY MORE THAN THEIR GENERAL NAME. The hidden workers are not on that account to deem themselves useless. Where would the oak be but for invisible agents?

(J. Parker, D. D.)

teaches —

I. WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE. Servants of Jesus Christ; saints; useful in His Church.

II. WHAT WE NEED. Grace; peace.

III. WHENCE THESE BLESSINGS FLOW. From God: from Jesus Christ.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)


II.THE SOURCE from whence they are derived.

III.THE CHANNELS by which they are dispensed.

IV.THE END for which they are given. That we may be holy, useful.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)


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.


1. Saints.(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.)


1. He omits his apostolical authority. The term apostle is not added here nor in Thessalonians and Philemon. His dignity as their father in Christ was supreme and incontestable. The man rather than the apostle speaks in every sentence. The spirit of his apostolical prerogative is felt all the more because of the absence of its letter.

2. He unites his own name with that of Timothy, whose name appears with his for a fourth time, because —(1) Timothy had twice visited the Philippians (Acts 16; Acts 19), and was doubtless endeared to them.(2) Paul desired to invest him with as much dignity as possible.(3) He was probably St. Paul's amanuensis, and —(4) perhaps he was so dear to his father in the gospel.

3. The bond between them was the common service of Christ Jesus. The apostolic name would not have been common. It was specific and unshared. "Servants" in a sense belongs to all who belong to Christ. But here the term has relation to Christ as Lord, who assigns to all and to each their sphere of duty.


1. Its essential spiritual character. "All the saints," etc., is the most profound and sacred definition of the true Church which the New Testament contains.(1) "All" suggests the whole company of those who form the body of which Christ is the Head, the bond of union being the Holy Ghost common to both. As a spiritual Church on earth it is the communion of those who (Colossians 1:2) are "faithful" as believers in Jesus, "saints" as set apart from the world, and "brethren" as united in the brotherhood of salvation.(2) "Saints in Christ Jesus" indicates —(a) That they are consecrated to God in Christ Jesus; redeemed from the curse of the law; no longer condemned with the world but accepted in the beloved. Hence they realize the ideal relation, a holy nation and a peculiar people.(b) That they are not with Him, following Him only, but "in Christ," in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, the Holy Ghost and all His influences; full redemption and all its powers of life and sanctity. But all things in Him are ours.(c) All this being true we are furnished with a safeguard against a double error, There is a tendency to regard this word as synonymous with Christian people; but we must not suffer it to become merely a conventional official term. On the other hand there are those who make it disparage the visible Church. But here "saints" mean those who are baptized into the visible community, and signifies not only that they are truly members of Christ, but that they profess to belong to Him.(3) Each individual. The glorious prerogative of the mystical fellowship of the body must be a personal possession.

2. Its outward organic form.(1) This is the earliest reference of St. Paul to ecclesiastical order. It marks out a city as containing one visible body, not necessarily always meeting in one place, but under one united government.(2) The apostle greets the Church with the bishops and deacons as one. They are all on the same level in relation to the Divine benediction. It is a debasement of Christian language which makes the ministerial order the Church.(3) The spiritual and visible organization must ever be found in one. Neither the one nor the other without its counterpart is perfect "in the Lord."


1. As an apostolic salutation it is peculiar to St. Paul. It is pronounced in the name of God. It is not even in inspired man to bless his fellow. All benediction comes from God as all doxology goes back to Him.

2. But it is also an invocation of grace and peace upon the Christian Church.(1) The eternal love of God as it sends the Redeemer for man's salvation is grace. The fruit of this flowing through Christ is peace.(2) The invocation should be our petition. All the people who receive the benediction and hear the prayer must say Amen.

(W. B. Pope, D. D.)

(A sermon to old and young): — In the text we have age and youth, autumn and spring, the golden eventide and the fair light of early days. We see —

I. AGE AND YOUTH TOGETHER. Not separate, looking askance at each other, divided by incompatibilities or jealousies, but in union. The young often flee from the old; the old are often impatient with the young. The advantages of this union are obvious.

1. The old will contribute the wisdom of experience.

2. The young will quicken animation and hope.

II. Though age and youth are together AGE TAKES PRECEDENCE OF YOUTH. Paul first. A principle of right settles all questions of priority. It is not beautiful because not right that youth should take precedence. There are many ways of taking virtual precedence.

1. Contradiction.

2. Impatience.

3. Neglect.

III. Though age takes precedence of youth yet BOTH ARE ENGAGED IN COMMON SERVICE. "Servants," not Paul the master. See how one great relationship determines all minor conditions and attitudes. As between themselves Paul was father, renowned, senior; Timothy was son, obscure, junior; but as before Christ, the one Lord, they were both servants. The Alps are great mountains in themselves, but are less than pimples in relation to the world. The earth, a great globe in itself, is a speck of light to the nearest star. The important tradesman in a small town is lost in a great city. The right way to take our proper measure and to chasten our ambition is to look at the highest relationships of all. The great man dwindles into his proper proportions when he looks at the Creator; the mighty potentate as he looks at the King of kings; the philanthropist as he looks at the Saviour. The noisy rushing train seems to be going fast; let it look at the flying stars and be humble.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Lessons taught by the commencement of the gospel here.

1. To secure the widest diffusion of the gospel, great centres should be the first places chosen for the concentration of its forces.

2. The gospel of universal adaptation has a worldwide mission (Romans 1:15, 16). The three first converts embraced different nationalities, employments, social grades. They were Lydia, the Oriental trader; the Grecian female slave and soothsayer; the Roman "keeper of the prison." "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." Christ has demolished all barriers to the exercise of Divine mercy.

3. The duty and privilege of Christian parents to consecrate their children and home to Christ (Acts 16:15, 33, 34, 40).

4. Civic distinctions, subordinated to Christ, will further the gospel and adorn the Christian name. Paul's Roman citizenship gained his freedom and silenced his enemies.

5. His chain connects the history of Rome and Philippi.

6. The Christian's spirit can defy "the inner prison" to suppress its praise or prayer (Acts 16:25).

(G. C. Ballard.)

was anciently called Krenides or the "Springs" on account of its numerous fountains in which the Gangitis has its sources. Philip (in ) enlarged the old town and fortified it, and named it after himself. After the famous battle Augustus conferred special honours upon it, and made it a Roman colony. A military settlement had been made in it, chiefly of the soldiers who had fought under Antony, so that it was a protecting garrison on the confines of Macedonia. A colonia was a reproduction in miniature of the mother city. The Roman law ruled, and the Roman insignia were everywhere seen. The municipal affairs were managed by decemvirs or praetors, and its lands were free from taxation. It thus possessed a rank far above that of a municipium or a civitas libera, and was very different from a settlement (ἀποικία) founded by adventurers or emigrants. Highly favoured as Philippi had been, it was in need of help. Political franchise and Roman rites, Greek tastes and studies, wide and varied commerce, could not give it the requisite aid. It was sunk in a spiritual gloom, which needed a higher light that Italian jurisprudence or Hellenic culture could bring it. The spear and phalanx of Macedonia had been famous, and had carried conquest and civilization through a great portion of the eastern world; the sun of Greece had not wholly set, and epicurians and stoics still sought after wisdom; the sovereignty of Rome had secured peace in all her provinces, and her great roads not only served for the march of the soldier, but for the cortege of the trader; art and law, beauty and power, song and wealth, the statue and the drama, survived and were adored; but there was in many a heart a sense of want and powerlessness, an indefinite longing after some higher good and portion, a painless and restless agitation, which only he of Tarsus could soothe and satisfy, with his preaching the God-Man — the life and hope and centre of humanity. Many remains of antiquity, such as are supposed to belong to the forum and the palace, are on the site of Philippi. The Turks now call it Felibedjik.

(Professor Eadie.)

With the bishops and deacons
The Philippians are reminded at the very outset that God is not the author of confusion, but of order. All are not ministers, though all are members of the Church of Christ. Let those who form the congregation duly recognize and receive the ministrations of those who are set over them in the Lord. Let them not forget discipline in privilege. If they are Christians they have still something to learn: they need pastors and teachers, even though they have but one Lord and Master.

(Dean Vaughan.)

The word in the original use of it means that which binds together. There thus lies in the very term a testimony to eternal truth, that man can be at peace only when all his varied interests are "bound by gold chains about the feet of God." The multitude of the angelic host praising God at Jesus' birth sang of "peace on earth." The multitude of human worshippers at Jesus' triumphal entry into the city of David sang responsive of "peace in heaven." Peace, then, is the sign and seal of Christ's kingdom, both in its state of patience here and in its state of glory hereafter.

(J. Hutchison, D. D.)

Dr. Parr, in his life of Archbishop Usher, relates that while that prelate was once preaching in the church at Covent Garden, a message arrived from the court that the king wished immediately to see him. He descended from the pulpit, listened to the command, and told the messenger that he was then, as he saw, employed in God's business, but as soon as he had done, he would attend upon the king to understand his pleasure; and then continued his sermon.

Christian peace, the peace which Christ gives, the peace which He sheds abroad in the heart, is it aught else than such a glorified harmony — the expelling from man's life of all that was causing disturbance there, all that was hindering him from chiming in with the music of heaven, all that would have made him a jarring and a dissonant note, left out from the great dance and minstrelsy of the spheres, in which now shall mingle forever the consenting songs of redeemed men and elect angels?

(Archbishop Trench.)

Peace is the opposite of passion, and of labour, toil, and effort. Peace is that state in which there are no desires madly demanding an impossible gratification; that state in which there is no misery., no remorse; no sting.

(F. W. Robertson.)

The acts of breathing which I performed yesterday will not keep me alive today; I must continue to breathe afresh every moment, or animal life ceases. In like manner yesterday's grace and spiritual strength must be renewed, and the Holy Spirit must continue to breathe on my soul, from moment to moment, in order to my enjoying the consolations, and to my working the works of God.


As grace is at first from God, so it is continually from Him, and is maintained by Him, as much as light in the atmosphere is all day long from the sun, as well as at first dawning, or at sun rising.

(J. Edwards.)

When the Spartan king advanced against the enemy, he had always with him some one that had been crowned in the public games of Greece. And they tell us that a Lacedaemonian, when large sums were offered him on condition that he would not enter the Olympic lists, refused them. Having with much difficulty thrown his antagonists in wrestling, one put this question to him, "Spartan, what will you get by this victory? "He answered with a smile, "I shall have the honour to fight foremost in the ranks of my prince."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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