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Arno Clement Gaebelein

In the Public Domain

                      THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS


     The city of Philippi was built as a military position by Philip the
Great of Macedon to keep the wild Thracians in check, which were the
neighbors of the Macedonians. Later it became a Roman colony by Augustus,
as a memorial of his victory over Brutus and Cassius. It was not a very
important city. The Jews had not settled there at all, so that the city did
not contain a synagogue. In Acts 16:12 Philippi is called "the chief city
of that part of Macedonia." This does not mean that Philippi was the chief
city of all Macedonia, which Thessalonica was; but Philippi was the chief
city of that district and the first city to which Paul and his companions
came. The historical record of the apostle's visit to Philippi and how the
gospel was preached there, for the first time on European ground, is found
in the book of Acts (chapter 16). The conversion of Lydia, her hospitality
to the servants of Christ, the demon possessed girl and her deliverance,
the suffering of Paul and Silas on account of it, their prayer and praise
in the prison, the earthquake, the conversion of the jailer and of his
house, are the interesting and blessed incidents connected with the
beginning of the church in Philippi. The apostle probably visited this city
twice after this (Acts 20:1 and 6), though the details of these visits are
not reported in the book of Acts.

     The church in Philippi was greatly attached to the Apostle Paul. He
had no need to defend his apostleship and authority, for the Philippians
had not been affected by the false Judaizing teachers, who had wrought such
havoc in Galatia and Corinth. This must have been due to the fact that
there were few Jews in that city. But the apostle evidently feared the
invasion of the Philippian assembly by these false teachers. This we learn
from the warning given in chapter 3:2. The church itself was poor and had
much trial and affliction; yet did they minister out of their deep poverty
to other needy saints (2 Cor. 8:1-2; Phil. 1:28-30). They had also
ministered liberally to the apostle twice shortly after he had left them
(Phil. 4:15-16); he received their fellowship in Thessalonica. The third
time they had remembered him. Epaphroditus was their messenger who brought
the love-gift to the prisoner of the Lord. In return the apostle sent to
the beloved Philippians another gift, this beautiful Epistle, dictated by
the Spirit of God.

                             Written From Rome

     That this Epistle to the Philippians was written by Paul seems almost
impossible to doubt. "Indeed, considering its peculiarly Pauline
psychological character, the total absence from it of all assignable motive
for falsification, the spontaneity and fervor of its effusions of
feeling--he must be a bold man who would call its authorship in question"
(Alford). Yet the critics are bold and leave nothing unquestioned and some
have questioned the genuineness of this document. Needless to say the
Epistle has not suffered by this foolish criticism. The ancient testimony
of Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and others mentions this
epistle as being Pauline and written by him in Rome, during his
imprisonment, of which we read in Acts 28:30-31. The question arises at
what time of his prison life he wrote this letter. It was not in the very
beginning, but must have been to wards the end. The Philippians had heard
of his imprisonment and had made up a sum of money which Epaphroditus
carried in person to Rome. And Epaphroditus had fallen sick and the
Philippians had heard of his severe illness "nigh unto death" (Phil. 2:30).
This sickness of their beloved Epaphroditus had been in turn reported to
them (Phil. 2:26) and the apostle heard how they had been grieved on
account of it. All this necessitated a number of journeys from Rome to
Philippi and back. This took a good many months. And furthermore, in the
beginning of his stay in Rome he dwelt for two years in his own hired house
and seemed to have perfect liberty (Acts 28:30). In his epistle to the
Philippians he writes that he is in the praetorium and no longer in his own
house. "But I would have you know, brethren, that the circumstances in
which I am here turned out rather to the furtherance of the gospel, so that
my bonds have become manifest as being in Christ in all the praetorium and
to all others" (Phil. 1:12-13, revised translation). The praetorium was the
place where the praetorium guards were kept, next to the palace of the
Emperor Nero. He had now been put in stricter confinement and felt his
bonds more severely (Phil. 1:18). The Epistle must therefore have been
written by him after the Epistles to the Ephesians, Colossians and
Philemon, that is, about the middle of the year 63 A.D.

                    The Epistle of Christian Experience

     Philippians is put in our Bibles between Ephesians and Colossians. A
better arrangement is to put this Epistle after Colossians. The Epistle to
the Ephesians shows the believer's position in Christ and what he possesses
in Him; Colossians reveals the glory of Christ as the Head of the body in
whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily. Philippians also speaks
of Christ, but not in a doctrinal way. It is an Epistle which describes the
walk and the life of one who has apprehended his position in Christ and
walks therefore in the power of the Spirit of God. It shows what manner of
lives those should live on earth who are saved by grace and who are waiting
for glory. The epistle assumes the knowledge of what the salvation of God
is. We therefore find nothing said about justification, peace with God or
assurance of salvation. The word "salvation" as used in Philippians has
nowhere the meaning of salvation by grace in the sense of deliverance from
guilt and condemnation. Philippians shows us what true Christian experience
is in the power of the Spirit of God. The words "sins" and "sin" are not
found in this Epistle. The true believer knows that his sins are put away
and that the old man was crucified with Christ. The question of deliverance
from the guilt of sin and from the power of sin, as so blessedly revealed
in Romans, does not enter into true Christian experience. True Christian
experience is to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and to manifest
Christ in that walk. This the Epistle to the Philippians reveals from
beginning to end. The name of our Lord is used over fifty times in the four
chapters. He is the believer's life; Christ must be always before the heart
and He must be made known by the believer in his life, following Him as the
pattern and looking to Him as the goal.

     The words "joy" and "rejoicing" are used eighteen times in
Philippians. It is the Epistle of rejoicing. "He went on his way rejoicing"
is the description of the experience of the eunuch after he had believed on
the Lord. The true believer's way should be one of constant rejoicing. The
whole atmosphere of this Epistle is that of joy, and so the believer in
whatever earthly circumstances he may be placed should manifest the joy of
the Lord. Paul, the great apostle, and now the prisoner of the Lord, as
years before in the Philippian prison, sends forth from the Roman prison
the triumphant song of faith and holy joy. There is not a word of murmur or
complaint. it is "counting it all joy" and "glorying in tribulation." He
had Christ; He knew Christ; Christ was his all; he knew himself in His
hands and the glorious goal was ever before him and the Holy Spirit filled
him therefore with joy. And such should be the experience of every
believer. The word Philippians means "those who love horses." The racehorse
in fullest energy stretches its neck to reach the goal. This epistle
describes also the Christian race. This is especially seen in the third
chapter where the energy and holy ambition of the new life to win Christ,
to attain and to reach the goal is given. The Epistle likewise reveals the
real affection and fellowship which exists between the servant of the Lord
and those who have received blessing through his ministry. The annotations
of this precious little Epistle contain many hints on the true Christian
experience and walk.

                        The Division of Philippians

     The division into four chapters is the correct one. As stated in the
introduction it is true Christian experience which this little Epistle
unfolds, showing the motives which should govern the believer in his life,
the energy he should manifest, the resources which are at his disposal and
the victory over all circumstances through Christ. The Christian in a
normal, spiritual condition as seen in this Epistle has been aptly
described as on a journey with an object before him, which is Christ. The
Lord Jesus Christ is therefore the theme of each chapter. Hence we have
four aspects of the true Christian life and experience.

     In the first chapter Christ is made known as the all-controlling
principle of the life of the believer. Christ is our life; He indwells the
believer, and true Christian life and experience is to live for Him and be
fully controlled by the Lord. "For to me to live is Christ and to die is
gain" (1:21). In the second chapter Christ is seen in His humiliation and
obedience as the believer's pattern. The One who passed through this life,
who left the glory to humble Himself, who was obedient unto death, the
death of the cross; He who endured the cross and despised the shame, who is
now exalted at the right hand of God and has a name which is above every
name, is to be constantly before the believer's heart. "Let this mind be in
you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (2:5). In the third chapter Christ is
the bright object and the final goal before the believer. In the energy of
the new life the believer reaches out after that goal, never satisfied with
anything else. It is the desire to win actually Christ, to lay hold of that
for which he has been laid hold of by Christ. "That I may know Him, and the
power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made
conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the
resurrection from the dead" (3:10-11). In the fourth chapter we learn that
Christ is enough for all circumstances. The believer, who, like the great
apostle, can say, "for me to live is Christ"; who ever follows His path of
self-humiliation and obedience, constantly reaching out for the goal, will
find that Christ is sufficient for all earthly circumstances. "I can do all
things through Christ who strengtheneth me" (4:13). This then is the
division of this brief but most important and practical Epistle:





                         Analysis and Annotations


                                 CHAPTER 1

     1. The introduction (1:1-2)
     2. The fellowship in the gospel (1:3-8)
     3. The apostle's prayer (1:9-11)
     4. Paul's victory (1:12-20)
     5. Paul's life and confidence (1:21-26)
     6. Exhortation to walk worthy of the gospel (1:27-30)

     Verses 1-2. The introductory words to this Epistle differ from those
of the preceding epistles in that he does not mention his apostleship. The
reason for this omission is because his letter to the Philippians does not
unfold the great doctrines of the gospel, nor does it correct evil
teachings. In writing to them about his own experience as illustrating
Christian experience, he does so as a member of the body of Christ.
Associating Timotheus, his son in the gospel, with himself as servant of
Christ Jesus, he addresses all the saints in Philippi with the bishops and

     Notice the way the name of our Lord is used in this opening verse of
the Epistle: "Servants of Christ Jesus" (not Jesus Christ as in the
authorized version) and "saints in Christ Jesus." Christ is His name as the
Risen One, as Peter declared on the day of Pentecost, "God has made Him
both Lord and Christ." The attention is directed at once to Him as the
Risen, Glorified One by putting His title "Christ" first.

     Believers are saints, that is, separated ones, and servants in the
risen, exalted Lord; He must ever be before the heart in life and walk down
here and all service must come from Himself. All the saints are mentioned
first and then the bishops and deacons. The bishops are the overseers, who
are also called elders; the deacons were ministers. The custom of
ritualistic Christendom in electing a man a bishop, who has charge over a
diocese, the oversight of so many churches, with certain functions of
authority, is not according to Scripture. They had a number of bishops,
overseers, in the small assembly in Philippi as well as in Ephesus. Acts
20:28 gives their work and responsibility. "Take heed therefore unto
yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit hath made you
overseers (bishops), to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased
with His own blood." And these chosen ones who labor for the flock are to
be recognized and esteemed. "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them
which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you. And
to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake" (1 Thess.
5:12-13). The deacons probably ministered more in temporal affairs. Of
bishops and deacons and their qualifications the apostle writes more fully
in 1 Tim. 3.

     Verses 3-8. And as he remembered them all and thought of their love
and devotion he thanked God for them. "I thank my God upon every
remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you
all with joy, because of your fellowship in the gospel from the first day
until now." He remembers with praise to God their fellowship in the gospel,
how they took part in the trials, labors, conflicts occasioned by the
preaching of that gospel. They had taken a zealous part in the gospel Paul
preached and manifested a loving interest by ministering to the needs of
the Lord's servant. The remembrance of all which had happened when he was
in Philippi and their combined fellowship and steadfastness filled the
prisoner of the Lord with gratitude and joy. Therefore he prayed for them
continually; he carried them upon his heart and in the prayer of
intercession mentioned their names before the throne of grace. How
Christ-like this was. He ever carries His dear people upon His heart and
intercedes for them.

     if we love the saints of God we also will pray for them. This gives
joy, courage and confidence. "Being confident of this very thing, that He
who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus
Christ. Even as it is meet for me to think of you all because ye have me in
your hearts, and that, both in my bonds and in the defence and confirmation
of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace." (The Authorized Version
has it "because I have you in my heart"; the correct translation is "Ye
have me in your hearts.") The grace of God had wrought this loving spirit
in the Philippians; the Lord had produced all this interest in the gospel
and their whole-hearted devotion. And so the apostle is confident that He
who had done all this in them, who had begun the good work, would surely
complete it until the day of Jesus Christ, when all His saints meet Him
face to face. They had him in their hearts, not merely as a fellow-saint,
but they had loving sympathy for him in his sufferings and as the one who
suffered for the defence and confirmation of the gospel. And Paul, knowing
their love and heart-fellowship, in return longed after them. The response
to their affection was his affectionate desire. What a blessed illustration
of the command of our Lord, "A new commandment I give unto you, that you
love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" (John
13:34). How little of this real affection there is among the children of
God! How much faultfinding, sectarian exclusion from fellowship, especially
among those who claim deliverance from sectarianism, and how little real
manifestation of love towards all the saints! It is one of the leading
characteristics of the Laodicean condition.

     Verses 9-11. The apostle now utters his inspired prayer for them. It
is still the prayer of the Holy Spirit for God's people. They had love, but
he prays that their love may abound yet more and more. But this abounding
love is to be "in knowledge and all intelligence." Love must not and will
not tolerate evil. If the heart is fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ, then the
Christian will manifest this love in knowledge and all intelligence, having
discernment of good and evil. As Christ is before the heart the believer
will abound yet more and more in love and also "judge of and approve the
things that are excellent." Walking after this rule means to be "pure and
without offence till the day of Christ." That day is not the Old Testament
day of the Lord, when He is revealed on earth in power and glory to judge
and to establish His kingdom, but it is the day for the saints when they
meet Him in the air and then appear before His judgment seat. And such a
walk produces the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, unto
the glory and praise of God. Thus it is seen that love is the source of
everything in the life of the believer.

     Verses 12-20. After the words of love and prayer Paul speaks of
himself and his circumstances. But how does he speak of that which had
happened unto him? There is not a word of murmur or complaint. Not a word
of uncertainty or doubt. Not even a thought of self-pity or discontent. He
might have accused himself about having gone to Jerusalem; to create
sympathy he might have complained and described his bonds and the
sufferings. But he rises above all. Christ is in his life the controlling
principle. His own self is out of sight and he bears joyful testimony how
all turned out for good, for the furtherance of the gospel. He had written
to the Romans years before that all things work together for good to them
that love God. In Rome, a prisoner, he shows practically the truth of that
statement. The overruling hand of the Lord was manifested in the
furtherance of the gospel, even in the praetorium, adjoining Nero's palace.
it was enough for him who was so devoted to Christ and the gospel of grace.
And his bonds encouraged many in becoming more bold to speak the word
without fear. Who were they who preached Christ out of envy and strife, who
tried to add still more affliction to his bonds? They were such who were
selfish, envying the great apostle for his gifts and power. They were
jealous of him. And now when he was in prison, his widespread activities
completely arrested, they began to speak against his person and perhaps
used his imprisonment as an evidence against him, that claiming too much
authority, the Lord had set him aside. By their envy and strife, they would
add affliction to the apostle. And yet they preached Christ. The prisoner
of the Lord rises above it all. He is not self controlled, but Christ
controls him. And so he writes, "What then? notwithstanding every way,
whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do
rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." God was with His servant; and instead of
the self-seeking which instigated these sorry preachers of the truth, there
was found in Paul the pure desire for the proclamation of the gospel of
Christ, the whole value of which he deeply felt, and which he desired above
all, be it in what way it might. His own self was completely out of sight.
Christ was his all; in Him he rejoiced and though he was in prison he was
filled with joy and the worthy Name was being proclaimed.

     He speaks next of his confidence that this will turn out to his
salvation through their prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus
Christ. What salvation is it he means? It is not salvation in the sense of
deliverance from guilt and condemnation. Of this the Apostle Paul was not
in doubt; for this he did not need the prayers of others. Deliverance from
the guilt of sins and from condemnation is the gift of God in Christ Jesus.
We are saved once for all by the finished work of the cross. To this
salvation nothing can be added. Believers are saved and forever safe in
Christ. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ
Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). Salvation in the New Testament has two more meanings.
There is a salvation for the believer when the Lord Jesus comes again. "We
are saved in hope" (Rom. 8:24). And there is a present salvation which the
believer needs day by day as he journeys towards the blessed goal. In the
midst of trials, temptations, hardships and other perils, victory over all
these things is to be gained and Christ's name to be exalted and glorified.
The salvation we have in Christ through Christ is to be practically
manifested. For this the apostle desired the prayers of the Philippians;
for this he needed, and we also, the supply of the Spirit. The latter
certainly not in the sense, as some teach, of a new baptism of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit indwells the believer and if the heart is set upon Christ
and controlled by Him, the supply of the Spirit will not be lacking.
Therefore the apostle's earnest expectation and hope was that he would be
ashamed in nothing, that he would be victor in all these circumstances.
Christ would be magnified in his body whether by life or by death.

     Verses 21-26. The great principle of his life, the all governing
principle, was Christ. He was all in Paul's life. "For me to live is
Christ" means that Christ lived in him (Gal. 2:20); he lived by Him and for
Him. If death should come it would be gain, for it would bring him to
Christ. But he finds himself in a strait betwixt two things. He has a
desire to depart and to be with Christ, which would be far better and yet,
if he was to live still down here, it was worth his while. Far better for
him personally to depart and be delivered from all the conflicts, trials
and sufferings; but, on the other hand, the needs down here, the saints who
needed him and his labors, induce him to decide to choose "to abide in the
flesh," for it was more needful for them. So he decides to remain, no
matter what sufferings were still in store for him, so that he might
minister unto their spiritual needs. How unselfish! How very much like
Christ! Self again is all out of sight. And there is no mention made of
Nero and his power. Through faith Paul knew himself not in the hands of
Rome but in the hands of Christ.

     We must not overlook the argument against the false doctrine of
soul-sleep, which is contained in the words of the apostle, "to depart and
be with Christ, which is far better." This false doctrine claims that when
the believer dies he passeth into a state of unconsciousness. if this were
true it would certainly not be "far better" to depart, or as the original
states, "much more better." Enjoying the fellowship with the Lord is a good
and blessed thing. To pass out of the body and to be with Him is "much more
better," for in the disembodied state, the saints of God enjoy and know the
Lord in a degree that is impossible down here. And the best of all is when
the Lord comes and all the redeemed receive their glorified bodies.

     Verses 27-30. And now he desires that their life should be worthy of
the gospel he loved so well. He wants them to stand fast in one spirit and
with one mind striving together for the gospel; this was to be their
attitude whether he was present with them or absent. only the Holy Spirit
could accomplish this; He only can give to believers oneness in all things
and power to strive together for the gospel. Walking thus believers need
not to be terrified by the adversaries, those who oppose and reject the
gospel. These adversaries always try to inspire fear, like the enemies of
Israel in the land. But looking to the Lord, letting Him govern all things,
walking in the Spirit, was an evident testimony of their own promised
salvation (which here means the final deliverance) and to their enemies an
evident token of perdition. And suffering through which they passed in
Philippi, as well as that of the apostle in the prison of Rome, is viewed
as a gift of God, just as much as believing on Christ. It is then a
gracious, God-given privilege to suffer for His sake. Murmuring and
complaining will be completely silenced when suffering for Christ's sake is
looked upon as a gift of grace. "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you
and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for
My sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven,
for so persecuted they the prophets, which were before you."

                    II.  CHRIST, THE BELIEVER'S PATTERN

                                 CHAPTER 2

     1. Oneness of mind through self effacement (2:1-4)
     2. The humiliation and exaltation of Christ (2:5-11)
     3. Work out your own salvation (2:12-13)
     4. As lights in the world (2:14-16)
     5. The example of Paul (2:17-18)
     6. The example of Timotheus (2:19-24)
     7. The example of Epaphroditus (2:25-30)

     Verses 1-4. This chapter puts before us Christ as our pattern. The
path He went is to be the believer's path. He trod the way, and the many
sons He brings ere long with Himself to glory are called upon to follow Him
in the same way. And what honor, what glory, to be called to follow in the
same path! The chapter begins with a loving appeal of the prisoner of the
Lord. He reminds them of the comfort in Christ which was their blessed
portion, of the comfort of love and the fellowship of the Spirit and the
bowels of mercies, the result of these precious possessions of the gospel.
And now while they had manifested all this in a practical way among
themselves and towards the apostle, he tells them that they would fulfill
his joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, united in soul and
thinking one thing. That they had difficulties among themselves may be
learned from the fourth chapter. And so he desired that all might be one.
it is a precious echo of our Lord's prayer in John 17. Nothing is to be
done among His people in the self-seeking spirit of strife or vainglory.
This is the spirit of the natural man and of the world.

     The true way which becomes the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, who
live by Him and for Him, is to esteem the other better than himself in
lowliness of mind, regarding not each his own things (or qualities) but
each the things of others also. To walk in such a manner is only possible
with those who have received, by being born again, a new nature and walk in
the power of the Spirit of God. To be utterly forgetful of self, complete
self effacement and self-denial and thus the absence of strife and
vainglory and the manifestation of true humility, is the manifestation of
the mind of Christ. But is it possible at all times to esteem each other
better than himself?

     We let another answer: "There will be no difficulty in this if we are
really walking before God; we shall be occupied with each other's good, and
the one will esteem the other better than himself, because when the soul is
really before the Lord, it will see its own short-comings and
imperfections, and will be in self-judgment; and according to the love and
spirit of Christ see all the good that is from Him in a brother and one
dear to Him, and will therefore look upon his fellow-Christian as better
than himself, and so all would be in beautiful harmony; and we should be
looking after each other's interests too"--(J.N. Darby, Philippians). How
true it is, love likes to be a servant; selfishness likes to be served.

     Verses 5-11. With the fifth verse begins that portion of the chapter
which reveals Christ as our pattern. Christ in His humiliation and His
exaltation; Christ who did not please Himself, who was obedient unto death,
the death of the cross; Christ, who is now exalted and has a name which is
above every other name, is blessedly before us in these verses. There are
seven steps which lead down deeper and deeper, even to the death of the
cross. And there are seven steps which lead up higher and higher.

                    His Humiliation

     1. He thought it not robbery to be equal with God
     2. He humbled Himself
     3. He became a servant.
     4. He was made in the likeness of man.
     5. He was found in fashion as a man.
     6. He became obedient.
     7. Obedient to the death of the cross.

                    His Exaltation

     1. God highly exalted Him.
     2. Gave Him the Name above every name.
     3. Every knee is to bow at His name.
     4. Things in heaven must acknowledge Him.
     5. Things on earth.
     6. Things under the earth.
     7. Every tongue must confess Him as Lord.

     "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." The Spirit
of Christ is in the believer for this very purpose, not that we should be
imitators of Christ, but that His own life may be reproduced in us. We have
this mind of Christ in the divine nature. What wonderful grace that we are
called with such a calling, to be in His fellowship and follow His own
path! Having delivered us from guilt and condemnation we are called to walk
even as He walked down here, the author and finisher of the faith.

     We trace briefly His path. We behold Him first in His absolute deity,
"subsisting in the form of God." He ever was and is God; as we know from
the opening of the gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God and the Word was God." Who can describe what glory was
His? And the equality with God which is His He did not esteem an object to
be grasped at, but He emptied Himself (This is the correct translation and
better than the King James version, "He made of Himself no reputation.") He
gave up something which was His; He laid aside His outward glory. Some
teach that He laid aside His deity. This is positively an unscriptural and
evil doctrine. It is widely known in theological circles as the
kenosis-theory, which is so dishonoring to our adorable Lord. He could
never be anything else but the true God and the eternal life. He came down
from the heights of eternal and unfathomable glory and took on a body
prepared for Him, yet in that body He was very God. John 17:5 shows of what
He emptied Himself.

     The next step tells us that He who gave up, came down. "He took upon
Him the form of a servant, taking His place in the likeness of men." Had He
taken upon Himself the form of an angel, it would have been a humiliation,
for He created the angels. But He was made a little lower than the angels.
He took on the servant's form in the likeness of men. But in Him was no
sin, so that it was impossible for Him to sin, for He knew no sin and was
in all points tempted as we are, apart from sin.

     But the path did not end with this. He who gave up the glory, He who
came down and became a servant also became obedient. It was an obedience
unto death, the death of the cross. Wonderful condescension and love. It
was all for our sake. And redeemed by His precious blood, called into His
own fellowship, His way must become ours; we are to follow Him. If we then
consider Him and let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus,
self will have nothing more to say; all strife and vainglory will be at an
end. And this path of giving up, coming down, true humility, self-denial
and true obedience is the only one in which there is perfect peace and rest
for the child of God. "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart and
you shall find rest for your souls."

     The description of His exaltation follows. God has highly exalted Him
and given Him a name which is above every name. God raised Him from the
dead and gave Him glory. What glory it is! In the first chapter of Hebrews
we read that the risen man Christ Jesus is the heir of all things, "made so
much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more
excellent name than they" (Heb 1:4). In Him we have also obtained an
inheritance. Before He ever received that glory He prayed to the Father
"the glory Thou hast given me I have given to them" (John 17:22). In His
glorious exaltation He is likewise our pattern. We shall see Him as He is
and shall be like Him, His fellow-heirs. And while we follow in His steps
down here we can look upon Him seated in the highest heaven and rejoice
that we shall someday be with Him and share His glory. Every knee must
ultimately bow at the name of Jesus, even beings under the earth, infernal
beings. They must own His title in glory. Yet this does not make them saved
beings. Nor does this passage teach that ultimately all the lost will be
saved, as claimed by restitutionists and others. The fact that every tongue
will have to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord does not mean the salvation
of the lost. In Col. 1:20 things, or beings in heaven and on earth are also
mentioned in connection with reconciliation, but then the things under the
earth are omitted. See our annotations on that passage.

     Verses 12-13. Words of exhortation come after this blessed paragraph
in which the Lord Jesus is put before us as our pattern. "Work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who worketh in you both to
will and to do according to His good pleasure." These words are
misunderstood by many Christians. It is being taught that Christians should
work for their own salvation. This is the grossest perversion of this
exhortation. Every true believer has salvation which is given to Him by
grace. It is his own salvation; he does not need to work for it. Others say
that one who is really saved by grace must work in order to stay saved, and
work with fear and trembling. They tell us, if a believer does not keep on
working, if he fails and sins, he will fall from grace and is in danger to
be unsaved and lost again. This also is Unscriptural; the Word of God
teaches the eternal security of all who have received eternal life, the
gift of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. The exhortation does not mean that we
must work to keep ourselves saved, but it means that our own salvation
which we have in Christ is to be worked out into result. Salvation is to be
practically manifested in the life and walk by glorifying Christ. We are to
work it out after the blessed pattern of Christ with fear and trembling,
not the fear of being lost, but the fear of failure in not walking in
lowliness of mind, in true humility and in obedience. This will ever be the
chiefest concern of the believer who walks in the Spirit. "It is this,
therefore, which is to induce the fear and trembling; not in selfish dread,
but the sense of our responsibility to Him to whom we owe our all and whose
our life is. Plenty there is to make us serious in such work as this, but
nothing to dishearten us. if God has taken in hand to work in us after this
fashion, that is ample security for our success. The fact that the apostle
was now absent from them, he whose presence had been so great a comfort and
blessing to their souls, was only to make them more completely realize this
divine power which was carrying them on to the full blessing beyond"
(Numerical Bible).

     Verses 14-16. If we thus work out our own salvation, with Christ ever
before us as our pattern, following after Him in the same path, we shall do
all things without murmurings and reasonings. These are the fruits of the
old self. But following Him as our pattern there will be no more strife and
vainglory; we shall esteem the other better than ourselves and consequently
there will be no murmurings. Furthermore, like our Lord was "harmless and
sincere," we shall be harmless and sincere, irreproachable children of God
in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation, without any
self-assertion whatever. And as He was the light down here, so are
believers now to shine as lights. As He on earth was the Word of life,
holding it forth is what the apostle writes believers should also do,
"holding forth the Word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ,
that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain." (See 1 Thess. 2:20.)

     Verses 17-18. Three witnesses follow whose experiences tell us that
the grace of God can produce such a character after the pattern of Christ
in the believer. First, the apostle speaks of himself "Yea and if I am
poured out as a libation on the sacrifice and ministration of your faith I
rejoice in common with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy and
rejoice with me." With death threatening, the prisoner of the Lord
expresses His joy. Paul speaks of what the Philippians did, their
ministrations of faith as the greater thing; he looks upon it all as a
sacrifice and himself and his service only as a libation; that is, he views
his own life poured out upon it. Thus he manifested lowliness of mind. In
regarding the devotion of the Philippians as the sacrifice, and the
devotion of his own life he regards only as poured out as a drink offering
(the symbol of joy) upon their sacrifice.

     Verses 19-24. Timotheus is the next witness. Of him Paul writes, "For
I have no one like-minded who will care naturally for your state (or, who
will care with genuine feeling how ye get on). For all seek their own
things and not the things of Christ." Many already there lived selfishly,
seeking in service their own things and not serving and walking, glorifying
Christ. So it is today in the Laodicean condition into which Christendom is
fast sinking. But Timotheus, Paul's spiritual son (1 Tim. 1:2) was a
blessed exception. He was in fullest fellowship with the apostle,
like-minded, who forgot him- self completely and cared genuinely for the
Philippians. They knew the proof of him, for as a son with the father, he
served with the apostle in the gospel. The two, Paul and Timothy,
illustrate what it means "to be like-minded, having the same love, being of
one accord, of one mind" (verse 2). And thus it ought to be among all the
members of the body of Christ. What a comfort Timotheus must have been to
Paul in the Roman prison! What cheer and joy to have such a one with him!
What refreshment to his soul! But he is willing to give him up. "But I
trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may
be of good comfort, when I know your state." Not seeking his own, in
self-denying devotion, he is willing to part with him, so that the
Philippians might enjoy his fellowship.

     Verses 25-30. Another gracious witness is Epaphroditus. He also
manifests the mind of Christ. Epaphroditus was the messenger of the
Philippians. He brought to Rome the collection, expressing the fellowship
of the church in Philippi. But he had been taken violently ill in the
exercise of his service, "for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death."
He did not regard his own life and in this he exemplified the Lord Jesus
Christ. "Greater love can no one show than that he lays down his life for
his friends." His was a service in entire forgetfulness of self. And when
he was sick nigh unto death "God had mercy on him." The Philippians also
heard of the dangerous illness of their beloved messenger. They must have
been deeply grieved. Then unselfish Epaphroditus was greatly distressed
because the Philippians had heard of his illness. In his suffering, nigh
unto death, his thoughts were with the saints in Philippi, and he was
grieved that they had anxiety for him. It all shows the mind of Christ.


                                 CHAPTER 3

     1. The true circumcision (3:1-3)
     2. Paul's past experience (3:4-7)
     3. The one passion (3:8-11)
     4. Pressing towards the mark (3:12-16)
     5. The goal of glory (3:17-21)

     Verses 1-3. Finally (or, for the rest), my brethren, rejoice in the
"Lord." Rejoicing in the Lord, not merely in the salvation which is ours,
nor in His mercies, in His gifts or in our service, but in Him, is what
gives strength and victory down here. He rejoiced in Him because He knew
the Lord was controlling all and that he was in His hands; he followed the
same path in humiliation, which he knew would lead him to the glory where
He is. And the prisoner of the Lord enjoying the blessedness of fellowship
with Christ, following Christ, looking to Him and not to earthly
circumstances, exhorts the beloved Philippians to find their joy in nothing
less than the Person Christ. It was not a grievous thing for him to write
them the same things, but it was safe for them. They needed the exhortation
in the midst of spiritual dangers, for nothing else keeps from evil as
heart occupation with the Lord Jesus Christ. He warns "beware of dogs,
beware of evil workers, beware of the concision." By these terms the same
false teachers are meant which disturbed the Galatian churches, which did
such evil work also among the Corinthians. He speaks of these perverters of
the gospel in severe terms, but not too severe. They boasted of
religiousness, of righteousness by the observance of ordinances and the
keeping of the law; they trusted in the flesh and set aside Christ. They,
with their religion of the flesh, are branded by the apostle as dogs,
unclean and outside, therefore unworthy of fellowship. They called the
Gentiles dogs, but now the Spirit of God shows that they are not better
than the Gentiles. (See Gal. 4:8-10.) They were evil workmen who led souls
away, as the havoc they had wrought shows. They gloried in ceremonies, the
circumcision of the flesh; in reality they were the concision, the
mutilators of the flesh, who knew nothing of the true separation through
the cross of Christ and union with a risen Christ in whom the believer is

     Dogs, evil workers and the concision, are terms which fit the many
cults today, including "Christian Science," the "new thought," the "new
religion and modern theology," all of which deny the gospel of Jesus
Christ. True believers are the circumcision, not a circumcision made by
hands, but a spiritual circumcision, the putting off of the body of the
flesh by the death of Christ (Col. 2:11). The cross of Christ separates the
believer from the flesh, the religious forms, and self-improvement, and
separates him unto God. And knowing that Christ is all, glorying in Him
with no more confidence in the flesh, the believer worships by the Spirit
of God, and no longer in ordinances. The indwelling Spirit fills the heart
with Christ, glorifies Him, and true worship by the Spirit is the result.
To have no more confidence in the flesh, to expect nothing whatever from
ourselves, to glory only in Christ Jesus is true Christian attainment and

     Verses 4-7. And this blessed servant of the Lord Jesus speaks of his
experience as a Hebrew. He might have had abundant reason to place
confidence in the flesh. We had something as a natural, religious man to
glory in. What fleshly advantages were his! He was circumcised the eighth
day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the
Hebrews; as touching the law a Pharisee; concerning zeal persecuting the
Church; touching the righteousness which is in the law blameless. He had
indeed, as he testified before, "profited in the Jews' religion above many
my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the
traditions of my father" (Gal. 1:14). He was a very religious man, for he
belonged to the most religious sect of his day, with a blind zeal which led
him to persecute the church, yet touching the righteousness in the law, he
knew himself blameless.

     And all this religiousness and zeal for God, his law keeping and
blamelessness he looked upon as being of value and gain for him, though
they did not give him peace or fellowship with God. A change came. The
things which were religious gain to him he now counted loss for Christ. On
the road to Damascus he had seen the glorified Christ and that vision had
laid him in the dust so that he saw himself as the chief of sinners.

     Verses 8-11. From that moment when it pleased God to reveal His Son to
him the self-righteous Pharisee could say, "I count all things* loss on
account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for
whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them refuse that I may
win Christ and be found in Him." What had been gain to him he cast aside.
He had seen Christ and that was enough, he would have nothing else after
that. Christ had become his all. The excellency of the knowledge of Christ
Jesus, whom the erstwhile persecutor now blessedly calls "my Lord," made it
a joy to suffer the loss of all things, yea, to count them refuse. How he
suffered the loss of all things, things needful in life, suffering, hunger,
stripes; giving up all earthly distinction and advantage, we know from his
own testimony (2 Cor. 11:22-31). He suffered the loss of all things and
counted them refuse. "This is the marvelous estimate of one who had all the
advantages in the world; and then had known all sufferings from it in
behalf of Christ, looking upon the former as worse than nothing, as a
detriment, and the latter to be nothing, because the knowledge he had
already gained of Christ outweighed them all." All earthly things, all
human attainments, everything which exalts man were counted as loathsome
things in comparison with Him whom He had beheld in the glory light.

     *"He does not say: When I was converted I counted all things loss.
When a person is truly converted, Christ becomes and is everything; the
world then appears as nothing. It has passed from the mind and the unseen
things fill the heart. Afterwards as the convert goes on with his duties
and with his friends, though Christ is still precious, he does generally
not continue to count all things loss. But Paul could say, 'I count all
things loss' not 'I did.' It is a great thing to be able to say that."

     But what does he mean when he expresses the desire "that I may win (or
gain) Christ and be found in Him"? Did he not possess Christ already? Was
he not in Him and Christ in him? He possessed Christ. He was in Him. Nor
does the apostle mean that he reaches out, as some teach, after a "deeper
life" experience or some such thing. He had perfect assurance of his
standing before God in Christ; no doubt whatever as to that could be in the
apostle's heart. Nor did he need some kind of an experience, as some claim,
a holiness-perfection experience, to give him greater assurance. His wish
to win Christ, to gain Christ, is his longing desire for the actual
possession of Christ in glory. Christ in glory is the great object and goal
for the believer down here. This object and goal must ever be before the
heart in the Christian's race. Like the racer who has no eyes for his
surroundings, but whose eye is steadily fixed upon the goal, so the
believer is to look to the glorified Christ and press forward toward the
mark. This is the truth unfolded in this chapter.

     Paul knew that Christ belonged to him, that his destiny was to be
forever with Him, and then his passion was to be worthy of all this. And
when Christ is gained in glory and the goal is reached then he would be
"found in Him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law (the
righteousness which is nothing but filthy rags), but that which is through
faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." How he
emphasizes this righteousness in which he delighted! And this great servant
of the Lord, who knew Him so well, wants to know Him and the power of His
resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering "being made conformable
unto His death, if by any means I might arrive at the resurrection from
among the dead." The power of His resurrection he desires to know is more
than a spiritual power, for he knew that power in practical experience. Of
this he had written to the Ephesians (1:15-2:10). It is again the goal of
the Christian's life towards which he reaches out. He wants to arrive at
the resurrection from among the dead by any means and to get there though
it means fellowship with His suffering being made conformable to His death.
And this was before him in the Roman prison. He wanted to be with Christ,
and to arrive there he desired to be like Christ in participating in His
suffering even to be made conformable to His death.

     It is important to note here the difference between "resurrection of
the dead" and "the resurrection from among the dead." The latter is the
correct translation of verse 11. There is a resurrection of the dead, of
all the dead. But there is a resurrection from among the dead, which
elsewhere in the Word is called the first resurrection. The Lord Jesus was
raised from the dead. When the Lord spoke to His disciples of His
resurrection from among the dead they were astonished and spoke among
themselves "what the rising of the dead should mean." They did not know
what it meant. When the Lord was raised He became the first fruits of them
that slept, that is, the righteous dead. And God raised Him from the dead,
because His delight was in Him, for He had glorified Him and finished the
Work the Father gave Him to do.

     The first resurrection, the resurrection from the dead, is the
expression of God's delight and satisfaction in those raised; it is His
seal on Christ's work. Because He finished that great work which glorified
God, all who are in Christ will be raised from among the dead, while those
who live when the Lord comes, will not die, but be changed in a moment, in
the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:51-52). But it is not on account of the
believer's attainment, but because of Christ that the power of God will
take His own out. The rest of the dead will be left until the second

     The Apostle knew that through grace he belonged to this
out-resurrection from among the dead. He had an absolute certainty of it.
But in divine energy he presses on towards it. All in him wants to get
there where the grace of God in Christ had put him. He reaches out for this
blessed goal and when he speaks of attaining "by any means" he gives us to
understand that nothing shall hinder him in the race. May the cost be what
it will, I want it; I want it because I have it in Christ and through
Christ and I want to be worthy of it. And therefore he despised the loss of
all things and was ready to suffer and die the martyr's death.

     Verses 12-16. The words which follow show that this is the true
meaning of the desire he expressed. "Not as though I had already attained
(obtained), or am already made perfect, but I press on if so be that I may
apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I
do not count myself yet to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting
the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are
before, I press towards the goal for the prize of the calling on high of
God in Christ Jesus." The goal had not yet been reached, he was still on
the way and had not yet obtained nor was he made perfect. He constantly
presses on towards the goal, Christ in glory. He knew that he had been
apprehended, taken possession of, by Christ Jesus and for Christ and
therefore he also wants to take possession, to apprehend it. He forgets
what is behind and even stretches forward to the things which are before,
the blessed goal. This was his constant attitude, ever occupied with the
Lord Jesus Christ to be like Him and with Him in glory.

     "The whole of Paul's life was founded on that and completely formed by
that. The Son of God was forming his soul day by day, and he was always
running towards Him and never doing anything else. it was not merely as an
apostle that he entered into the fellowship of His sufferings, and
conformity to His death, but every Christian should do the same. A person
may say he has forgiveness of sins. But I say, What is governing your heart
now? Is your eye resting on Christ in glory? Is the excellency of knowledge
of Christ Jesus so before your soul as to govern everything else, and make
you count everything loss? Is that where you are? Has this excellent
knowledge put out all other things? Not only an outwardly blameless walk,
but has the thought of Christ in glory put out all other things? If it were
so, we would not be governed by everyday nothings" (J.N. Darby). Some teach
that these words of Paul, speaking of attaining and not yet perfect, mean
that he was still in doubt as to having a share in the first resurrection.
We quote the words of a leading advocate of this interpretation:

     But what was the goal towards which Paul was thus directing his
efforts? 'if by any means,' he continues, 'I may attain to the select (?)
resurrection out from among the dead.' In other words, his aim was to be
numbered with those blessed and holy ones who shall have part in the first
resurrection. But we must notice that he had, at the time, _no _certain
_assurance (italics ours) that he would compass the desire of his heart.
... Just before his death, however, it was graciously revealed unto him
that he was one of the approved.--Pember, The Church, the Churches and the

     Think of it! The prisoner of the Lord who suffered joyfully the loss
of all things, who counted all but dung, who walked in such separation and
devotion, still uncertain about his share in the first resurrection! This
interpretation is not only wrong, but it denies the grace of God in the
Lord Jesus Christ, by making the first resurrection a question of
attainment when it is purely the matter of divine grace. This teaching aims
at the very vitals of the gospel of grace and glory.

     An exhortation follows. He exhorts all who are perfect to be thus
minded. What does the word perfect mean and who are the perfect? Above,
when he said he was not yet made perfect, it applies to Christ-likeness in
glory by being conformed to His image. True Christian perfection will be
reached when the Lord comes and we shall see Him as He is and be like Him.
Now those are the perfect down here who have no confidence in the flesh,
who glory in Christ and who know He is all in all, that by one offering He
has perfected forever them that are sanctified, that they are accepted in
the Beloved and complete in Him in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwells
bodily. And they are all to be "thus minded" like he was, ever occupied
with Christ in glory, doing this one thing--pressing on towards the goal
for the prize of the calling on high of God in Christ Jesus.

     Verses 17-21. "Brethren, be followers (imitators) together of me, and
mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample." What a blessed
thing that Paul could write this! Grace had enabled him to follow Christ
fully. But even then there were those over whom Paul wept because their
walk showed that they were the enemies of the cross. "For many walk, of
whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are
the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is
their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things."
Were these real believers? The statement "whose end is destruction" answers
this question. They could not be true children of God, but were such who
had professed Christianity, having the form of godliness, but denying the
power thereof (2 Tim. 3:5). They turned the grace of God into
lasciviousness. "Their god was really their belly; that is to say, the
fleshly craving in them had never been set aside by any satisfaction that
they had found for themselves in Christ. The craving of the old nature led
and governed them." Instead of minding heavenly things, seeking the things
which are above where Christ sitteth, they minded earthly things, showing
thereby that they had never really known Christ. If there were "many" then
among God's people who were enemies of the cross, who had with all their
profession no desire for the heavenly calling, how much larger is their
number now at the end of the age. They are religious, yet they cling to the
world, love the world and thus deny the cross of Christ, which makes them
the enemies of the cross.

     "There is nothing like the cross. It is both the righteousness of God
against sin, and the righteousness of God in pardoning sin. It is the end
of the world of judgment, and the beginning of the world of life. It is the
work that put away sin, and yet it is the greatest sin that ever was
committed. The more we think of it, the more we see it is the turning point
of everything. So, if a person follows the world, he is an enemy of the
cross of Christ. If I take the glory of the world that crucified Christ, I
am glorying in my shame" (J.N. Darby).

     "They walked according to the flesh, minding earthly things instead of
the heavenly, the heavens being the proper and only sphere of spiritual
life, demonstrated that they knew nothing of the matter as to the heart,
and for the truth of resurrection and life in a risen Christ, were walking
according to their own religious feelings, making this their god. And
surely there is enough of this everywhere, a bringing down revelation of
the truth to the standard of human feelings and experiences, making these
the umpire instead of God. It is a religious appetite ruling and hungry,
and satisfied with its own sensations when filled. Israel was charged to
take heed lest when they had eaten and were full, they should forget
Jehovah (Deut. 8:14) and the prayer of Agur in Prov. 30:9 is, 'lest I be
full and deny Thee.' The grand object, Christ Himself, is ignored, and
religious excitement, like any other intoxication, displaces Him and
occupies the soul to its damage and peril. It is the belly, not Christ. It
is religious emotion, it is not Christ. It is perfection in and of the
flesh; it is having no confidence in the flesh. The flesh may find its
satisfaction and growth as much in religion as in the lower passions and
the more secular world. The cross came in to put all this to death. Hence
these are enemies to the cross of Christ, even though much mention may be
made of the cross, and even continual prostrations before it practiced" (M.

     In the last two verses the blessed goal itself is fully revealed. "For
our conversation is in heaven (or commonwealth-citizenship)* from whence
also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall transform
our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory, according to
the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself" This
is the blessed hope and the blessed goal. All we have as Christians, our
relationships, rights and possessions are in heaven. Some blessed day He,
for whom we wait, will come and take us to the place where He is
transforming our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory.
Then we shall have attained that for which down here we hope and pray (1
Thess. 4).

     * ('conversation', or 'commonwealth-citizenship' -- The Greek word is
"politeuma," from which we have our English "politics." Hence one might say
"Our politics are in heaven.")


                                 CHAPTER 4

     1. Stand fast and rejoice (4:1-4)
     2. Dependence on God and true heart occupation (4:5-9)
     3. I can do all things through Christ (4:10-13)
     4. The fellowship of the Philippians (4:14-20)
     5. The greeting (4:21-23)

     Verses 1-4. And now the final testimony of the prisoner of the Lord,
telling us from his own experience that Christ is sufficient for all
circumstances down here. The first verse is filled with the precious
fragrance of the great apostle's affection. What refreshment there is for
all His dear saints in these opening words of this chapter! "Therefore my
brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in
the Lord, dearly beloved." How he loved the saints and longed for them. He
looked upon them as his joy and crown; his joy down here and his crown in
the day of Christ. So the aged John testified, "I have no greater joy than
to hear that my children walk in truth" (3 John 4). They were to stand fast
in the Lord, for this gives strength and the Lord constantly before the
heart and mind gives victory. Euodias and Syntyche, two sisters in the
Lord, are exhorted to be of the same mind in the Lord. They had
difficulties and had become separated. How graciously and tenderly they are
exhorted to overcome their differences. The true yokefellow is probably
Epaphroditus, who was now fully restored and carried this letter to the
Philippians. Paul requests him to assist those women who had contended with
him in the gospel, of course in the sphere which belongs to woman. And
there were Clement and other fellow laborers, whose names are in the book
of life. These names are known to Him and in His day their labors will come
to light and they will receive their reward. It is enough for the laborers
to know that his name, though unknown to the world, is in the book of life,
and his service, though unapplauded by the world, has His approval. Once
more he exhorts to rejoice in the Lord alway, under all circumstances, at
all times. And again I say, Rejoice. He did not write such words when he
was taken up into the third heaven, but these blessed words come from the
prison in Rome. When the Lord is before the heart, if He is the controlling
principle of our life, the pattern and the goal, never lost sight of, then
He giveth songs in the night.

     "Were a light at the end of a long straight alley, I would not have
the light itself till I get to it; but I have ever increasing light in
proportion as I go forward; I know it better. I am more in the light
myself. Thus it is with a glorified Christ, and such is the Christian

     Verses 5-9. And this walk in Christ and with Christ must be
characterized by dependence on God. "Let your moderation be known to all
men. The Lord is at hand." Walking thus means to walk in meekness, not
reaching out after the things which are but for a moment, content with such
things as we have, never asserting one's right. Moderation means to put a
check upon our own will. How easy all this becomes if we just have it as a
present reality that the Lord is nigh and that when He comes all will be
made right. A little while longer and all will be changed. And while we
walk here in His fellowship, His command to us is, "Be anxious for
nothing." All rests in His loving hands. His people have tribulation down
here. He told us so. "In the world ye shall have tribulation; be of good
cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). And prayer is our refuge.
Most blessed words! How the child of God loves, appreciates and makes use
of them! "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And
the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts
and minds through Christ Jesus." We can cast all our cares upon Him, for we
know He careth for us. He is our burden bearer. We may look upon all our
burdens as being permitted by Him so that we may give them back to Him and
find out His love and power.

     "We are in relationship with God; in all things He is our refuge; and
events do not disturb Him. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows
everything, He knows it beforehand; events shake neither His throne, nor
His heart; they always accomplish His purposes. But to us He is love; we
are through grace the objects of His tender care. He listens to us and bows
down His ear to hear us. In all things therefore, instead of disquieting
ourselves and weighing everything in our hearts, we ought to present our
requests to God with prayer, with supplication, with a heart that makes
itself known (for we are human beings) but with the knowledge of the heart
of God (for He loves us perfectly); so that, even while making our petition
to Him, we can already give thanks, because we are sure of the answer of
His grace, be it what it may; and it is our requests that we are to present
to Him. Nor is it a cold commandment to find out His will and then come: we
are to go with our requests. Hence it does not say, you will have what you
ask; but God's peace will keep your hearts. This is trust; and His peace,
the peace of God Himself, shall keep our hearts. It does not say that our
hearts shall keep the peace of God; but, having cast our burden on Him
whose peace nothing can disturb, His peace keeps our hearts. Our trouble is
before Him, and the constant peace of the God of love, who takes charge of
everything and knows all beforehand, quiets our disburdened hearts, and
imparts to us the peace which is in Himself and which is above all
understanding (or at least keeps our hearts by it), even as He Himself is
above all the circumstances that can disquiet us, and above the poor human
heart that is troubled by them. oh, what grace! that even our anxieties are
a means of our being filled with this marvellous peace, if we know how to
bring them to God, and true He is. May we learn indeed How to maintain this
intercourse with God and its reality, in order that we may converse with
Him and understand His ways with believers!" (Synopsis of the Bible).

     Our prayers may not always be answered as we want to have them
answered, for He alone knows what is best. We speak to Him about our cares
and put them thus into His heart and He puts His own peace into our hearts.

     What are thy wants today? Whate'er they be Lift up thy heart and pray:
God heareth thee, Then trustfully rely that all thy need He surely will
supply in every deed. But every prayer of thine, and every want Of either
thine or mine, He may not grant, Yet all our prayers God hears, and He will
show Some day, in coming years, He best did know--C. Murray

     And in the life down here, surrounded by every form of evil, we are to
be occupied with only that which is good, things true, things noble, just,
pure, lovely, things of good report; if there be any virtue or any praise,
think on these things. This is the way how peace of mind and blessing,
happiness and joy may be maintained, not being occupied with the evil which
surrounds us, or the evil in others, but with the very opposite. The Word
of God is given to us for this purpose. As we read it prayerfully and
meditate on it we are kept in that which is good, true, noble, just and
lovely. Walking according to these exhortations they would find that the
God of peace is with them. And so shall we.

     Verses 10-13. Paul also rejoiced in the Lord greatly because their
care for him had flourished again, and added "wherein ye were also careful,
but ye lacked opportunity." They had ministered to him as the Lord's
servant, in temporal things. The words, "now at last your care of me hath
flourished again," indicates that they had delayed their ministration, but
he puts another meaning upon it. He does not insinuate that it was a
failure and neglect on their side, "but ye lacked opportunity." He did not
mention this in respect of want. "For I have learned in whatsoever state I
am, therewith to be content." He had learned it all practically and knew
about being abased and abounding--"everywhere and in all things I have
learned the secret, both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to
suffer want. I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." The
secret of this victory over all circumstances, whether good or evil, was
Christ. It was "not I but Christ." In himself he had no strength, but all
His strength to be abased and to abound, to be full or hungry, in abounding
and in suffering want, was the Lord Jesus Christ. And this strength
continually flows from and is supplied by our relationship with Christ as
it is maintained by faith in a close walk with Him. He had learnt to trust
Him fully; he trusted Him and walked in fellowship with Him in adversity,
and, also, which is more difficult, in prosperity. His faith always
reckoned on Christ. He kept him from being careless and indifferent, when
he was full and abounded in all things and He kept him from being
discouraged and dissatisfied when he suffered privations. He had found
Christ sufficient in every circumstance. This is the happy life, which,
too, we may live if Christ is our object and our all.

     (Prosperity in earthly things is for many children of God a snare. The
person who requested prayer for a brother who was getting rich made a good
request. We need more prayer and need more watching when all goes well and
when we abound. Then the danger to become unspiritual and indifferent is

     Verses 14-20. He reminds them of their faithfulness to himself; he had
not forgotten their love and what they had done in the past. He delighted
in the remembrance of it, nor does God forget the ministries to His
servants. "But to do good and communicate forget not, for with such
sacrifices God is well pleased" (Heb. 13:16). "For God is not unrighteous
to forget your work and labor of love, which you have showed toward His
name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Heb.
6:10). Yet he does not want them to misunderstand him, as if he was anxious
to receive further fellowship from them for his personal need. Therefore he
adds, "Not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit that may abound to
your account. But I have all, and abound; I am full, having received of
Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell,
a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God." In reminding them and
himself of their love he did not desire more gifts for the sake of having
them, but he desired the fruit which would result from their faithfulness
and liberality, which would abound to their account in the day of Christ.
All ministry to God's servants and to the saints should be done from this

     "But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in
glory in Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and
ever. Amen." The God whom He had learnt to know so well in all
circumstances--my God, as he called Him--would supply all their need. It is
not a wish that He may do so, nor a prayer that he prays, but it is an
assured fact. He knows his God so well that he counts on Him for the supply
of all the need of the beloved saints according to His riches in glory in
Christ Jesus.

     Verses 21-23. The greetings close this blessed little Epistle of love
and joy, so full of the realities of true Christian experience, made
possible for every child of God through the indwelling Spirit. He sends his
greetings to every saint and conveys the greetings of the saints with him,
chiefly they that are of Caesar's household. Blessed hint that even there
the gospel had manifested its power in the salvation of some.

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