Philippians 1:2
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).







For I know that this shall turn to my salvation
I. THE CONFIDENCE OF THE DECLARATION — "I know." Not an angel could utter a truer note of triumph. Righteousness is a prophetic power. The good man can infallibly predict the issue of moral operation.

II. THE GROUND OF THIS CONFIDENCE. "This shall turn," viz., the preaching of Christ. His joy does not arise from the fact that certain persons preached, but from the higher fact that Christ was preached; not that bad men were working, but that a good work was being done.

III. THE EXTENSION OF THE TRUTH IS THE BEST GUARANTEE OF PERSONAL HAPPINESS. A man of less moral grandeur would have started the argument from himself. Let me be free and then the gospel shall triumph; but he knew nothing of such self-idolatry. He said Christ shall be preached, and Christ's servants in due time shall be free. When it goes well with the Master it goes well with the servant.

IV. THE GOSPEL HAS EVERYTHING TO HOPE FROM BEING ALLOWED TO REVEAL ITS OWN CREDENTIALS. Proclaim it — ministers, teachers; it sounds well from any lips — philosophers, babes and sucklings, unlearned. By whomsoever pronounced, the celestial fire will strike through every syllable.

V. THE GREATEST MAN IN THE CHURCH MAY BE SERVED BY THE SUPPLICATION OF THE GOOD. The apostle associates his salvation with the prayer of the Philippians. No man is so far advanced as to be beyond the range of prayer. Here a child is of value.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

I. THE SALVATION PROVIDED BY CHRIST IS RADICALLY A SPIRITUAL SALVATION. It extends indeed to all the elements of our nature, being an emancipation of the whole man from the bondage of death; but the condition of the body follows that of the soul. In a sense we enter into spiritual salvation at conversion, for "he that believeth hath everlasting life." But the word is generally applied to the state of perfect purity and beauty and blessedness for the whole nature which the day of Christ will bring in.

II. ALL GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL DEALINGS WITH HIS PEOPLE ARE INTENDED TO BE A TRAINING FOR SALVATION, whether pleasant or like Paul's at Rome, "not joyous but grievous," a discipline fitted to ripen the flower of holy character, which will be fully opened in its glorious beauty in heaven.

III. BY THE MEASURE IN WHICH WE AVAIL OURSELVES OF THIS TRAINING OUR SALVATION WILL BE AFFECTED.

1. All who reach heaven will be perfectly happy up to the full measure of their capacities, because being "pure in heart," they will "see God" as fully as their natures can see Him.

2. But the eyes of those who availed themselves but little of the light, of truth, who looked at God but seldom, will be able to look at Him only from far; whilst those whose eyes have been much accustomed to the light here, will stand in the foremost circles, and there with ravished hearts gaze on the infinite glory. Some will have an abundant entrance, while others will be saved only as "through fire."

IV. Remembering these things, WHAT MANNER OF PERSONS OUGHT WE TO BE.

1. In all holy conversation and godliness.

2. In prayer and effort.

3. So that the Divine training may" turn to our salvation."

V. HOW THEN SHALL WE OBTAIN THIS SPIRITUAL PROFIT?

1. Through the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.(1) He originates and supports spiritual life; clears away the mists of prejudice; opens the eyes to guilty self and merciful God; dwells in the regenerate.(2) The figures under which His influence is set forth describe His action; "fire" to burn up the chaff within us, and to light up in our souls the genial flame of love; water to cleanse pollution and to quench thirst; unction to consecrate.

2. This supply is obtained largely through the Church's prayer.

(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)

I. THE SUPPLY. The Holy Spirit is the sole agent of the Saviour's will in the inward work of grace; nor is the indwelling and operation of Christ ever mentioned without the accompaniment of this truth. Not that the Spirit is supplied merely as an influence; He is both the Giver and the Gift; just as the Savior is the Victim and Priest. The gospel is a ministration of the Spirit by the Spirit, and the apostle hopes for the supply to his soul of all that grace which the Spirit, the Keeper of Christ's treasury, has to bestow.

II. THE PRAYER. He relies on the Philippians' intercessions, answering to those he always offered for them (ver. 4). It is simply His most graceful way of asking them to pray for him — not, simply with reference to the official work of the gospel, but to the good of his own soul. Mutual prayer is bound up with the very essence of the Christian system.

III. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TWO. He seems to place himself between them and his Lord. The Spirit of Jesus flows unto him in proportion as the prayers of his fellow Christians and his own flow out towards Him in supplication. We are what the supply of the Saviour's Spirit makes us; that is the measure of our life, strength, perception of truth, performance of duty, and attainment in grace. But that is dependent on individual and common prayer; and the prayer for the Spirit is offered through the same Spirit in whom as well as for whom we pray.

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

I. THE PRAYER OF THE CHURCH.

1. In reference to Paul.(1) He expected to be prayed for. He does not ask for, but assumes that he has their prayers. Would that all pastors could assume as much. Some are rich in this, but some terribly poor.(2) He valued the prayers of the saints. He was an apostle, but could not do without them; how much more we.(3) He looked for great results from them. He wanted them all the more because his troubles were heavier than usual; so do ministers in these evil days.

2. In reference particularly to ministers.(1) They may justly claim the prayers of their brethren.

(a)To help them in their duties, so that they may be made effectual.

(b)They are burdened with remarkable responsibilities.

(c)They have an experience singular to themselves.

(d)They have subtle, numerous, and peculiar temptations — pride; despondency.

(e)They have many discouragements.(2) The prayers which are wanted are those of the entire Church. From some other labour some of you might be exempted, but not from this.

(a)Of all who profit by our ministry. If you feed upon the Word pray that others may do so; if you don't, do not unkindly speak of it everywhere, but tell the Lord about it.

(b)Of converts.

(c)Of the aged with their experience, and the young with their freshness.

(d)Of the absent through sickness, etc. How effective the ministry of the helpless who can yet pray.(3) The prayers of God's people ought to go up for their minister in many forms.

(a)It should be daily work.

(b)If we expect a blessing on our families through the ministry, we should as families ask God to bless it.

(c)Then there are our prayer meetings, etc.

(d)There should be especial prayer by each Christian at home before every service.(4) These prayers, to be good for anything, will be attended with consistent lives.

II. THE SUPPLY OF THE SPIRIT.

1. The Spirit we want is —

(1)The Spirit who rested on Christ.

(2)The Spirit, the Comforter, who represents Christ.

2. This Spirit is essential to every true minister. All other gifts, however desirable, may be dispensed with, but for the conversion of souls this is the one essential.

(1)The preacher must be taught of the Spirit, else how shall he speak?

(2)He must be inflamed by the Spirit.

(3)He must have the unction of the Spirit.

3. The supply of the Spirit is essential to the edification of the Church of God. To build up a church.

(1)Light is needed.

(2)Love.

(3)Holiness.

(4)Zeal.

4. For the conversion of sinners. Who can enlighten the blind eye, quicken the dead soul, but the Spirit?

5. For the progress of the gospel and the victory of truth.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I believe in the efficacy of united prayer, but each one must pray. There would be no clouds unless the drop of dew from each blade of grass were exhaled by the sun. Each drop ascending in vapour falls again in the blessed shower which removes the drought. So the grace that trembles upon each one of you must exhale in prayer, and a blessing will come clown upon the Church of God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

There is an old Romish story, that a certain famous preacher was to preach on a certain occasion, but he missed his way and was too late, and the devil knowing of it put on the appearance of the minister, took his place, and preached a sermon to the people, who supposed they were listening to the famous divine whom they had expected. The devil preached upon hell, and was very much at home, so that he delivered a marvellous sermon, in which he exhorted persons to escape from the wrath to come. As he was finishing his sermon, in came the preacher himself, and the devil was obliged to resume his own form. The holy man then questioned him, "How dare you preach as you have done, warning men to escape from hell?" "Oh," said the devil, "it will do no hurt to my kingdom, for I have no unction." The story is grotesque, but the truth is in it. The same sermon may be preached and the same words uttered, but without unction there is nothing in it. The unction of the Holy One is true power; therefore, brethren, we need your prayers that we may obtain the supply of the Spirit upon our ministry; for otherwise it will lack unction, which will amount to lacking heart and soul. It will be a dead ministry, and how can a dead ministry be of any service to the people of God?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

John Livingston of Scotland once spent a whole night with a company of his brethren in prayer for God's blessing, all of them together besieging the throne; and the next day, under his sermon, five hundred souls were converted. All the world has heard how the audience of the elder Pres. Edwards was moved by his terrible sermon on "Sinners in the hands of an Angry God;" some of them even grasping hold of the pillars of the sanctuary, from feeling that their feet were actually sliding into the pit. But the secret of that sermon's power is known to but very few. Some Christians in that vicinity (Enfield, Mass.) had become alarmed, lest, while God was blessing other places, He should in anger pass them by; and so they met on the evening preceding the preaching of that sermon, and spent the whole of the night in agonizing prayer.

(Dr. H. C. Fish.)

At a certain period the Methodist Society in Dublin was greatly agitated by divisions. A good but very anxious brother wrote to Mr. Wesley on the subject, told him the real state of things, deplored it exceedingly, and concluded his communication by inquiring, "Where, sir, are all these things to end?" The venerable Wesley replied: "Dear brother, you ask where are all these things to end?" "Why, in glory to God in the highest," to be sure; "and on earth peace, and goodwill among men."

(Anecdotes of the Wesleys.)

It is rough work that polishes. Look at the pebbles on the shore! Far inland, where some arm of the sea thrusts itself deep into the bosom of the land, and expanding into a salt loch, lies girdled by the mountains, sheltered from the storms that agitate the deep, the pebbles on the beach are rough, not beautiful; angular, not rounded. It is where long white lines of breakers roar, and the rattling shingle is rolled about on the strand, that its pebbles are rounded and polished. As in nature, as in the arts, so in grace; it is rough treatment that gives souls as well as stones their lustre; the more the diamond is cut the brighter it sparkles; and in what seems hard dealing, there God has no end in view but to perfect His people's graces.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

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