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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Philippians Overview





THE Greek Text upon which the Commentaries in this Series are based has been formed on the following principles: Wherever the texts of Tischendorf and Tregelles agree, their readings are followed: wherever they differ from each other, but neither of them agrees with the Received Text as printed by Scrivener, the consensus of Lachmann with either is taken in preference to the Received Text: in all other cases the Received Text as printed by Scrivener is followed. It must be added, however, that in the Gospels those alternative readings of Tregelles, which subsequently proved to have the support of the Sinaitic Codex, have been considered as of the same authority as readings which Tregelles has adopted in his text.

In the Commentaries an endeavour has been made to explain the uses of words and the methods of construction, as well as to give substantial aid to the student in the interpretation and illustration of the text.

The General Editor does not hold himself responsible except in the most general sense for the statements made and the interpretations offered by the various contributors to this Series. He has not felt that it would be right for him to place any check upon the expression of individual opinion, unless at any point matter were introduced which seemed to be out of harmony with the character and scope of the Series.



February, 1893.

IN thy Orcharde (the wals, buttes and trees, if they could speak, would beare me witnesse) I learned without booke almost all Paules Epistles, yea and I weene all the Canonicall Epistles, saue only the Apocalipse. Of which study, although in time a great part did depart from me, yet the sweete smell thereof I truste I shall cary with me into heauen: for the profite thereof I thinke I haue felte in all my lyfe tyme euer after.

BISHOP RIDLEY, to Pembroke Hall (Pembroke College), Cambridge.

From A letter which he wrote as his last farewel to al his true and faythefull frendes in God, October, 1555, a few days before he suffered. Transcribed from Coverdale’s Letters of Martyrs, ed. 1564.




THE site of Philippi is near the head of the Archipelago (Mare Ægæum), eight miles north-westward of the port of Kavala, or Kavalla, probably the ancient Neapolis. Just south of it runs the 41st parallel of north latitude; a little to the west, the 24th parallel of east (Greenwich) longitude. The place is at present a scene of ruins. A village hard by, also in ruins, still bears the name of Philibedjik1[1]. In the first century the town occupied the southern end of a hill above a fertile plain, and extended down into the plain, so as to comprise a higher and a lower city. These were divided by the great Egnatian road, which crossed Roman Macedonia from sea to sea. The higher town contained, among other buildings, the citadel, and a temple, built by the Roman colonists, to the Latin god Silvanus. The lower town contained the market-place, and the forum, a smaller square on which opened the courts of justice. Four massive columns are still standing at the foot of the hill, probably marking the four corners of the forum. A little more than a mile to the west of the town the small river Bounarbachi, anciently Gangas, Gangîtes, or Angîtes, and still called, at least at one part of its course, Angista, flows southward into a fen which borders the plain of the city, and to the south of which again rise the heights of Mount Pangæus, now Pirnári, rich of old in veins of gold and silver, and covered in summer with wild roses. The whole region is one of singular beauty and fertility.

The geographical position of Philippi was remarkable. It lay on a great thoroughfare from west to east, just where the mountain barrier of the Balkans sinks into a pass, inviting the road-builders of Greek, Macedonian, and Roman times. It was this which led Philip of Macedon (B.C. 359–336) to fortify the old Thracian town of Daton[2], or Crenîdes (Fountains). To the place thus strengthened he gave his name, and, by pushing his border eastward into Thrace, converted it from a Thracian into a Macedonian town[3].

This position of Philippi accounts for the one great event in its secular history, the double battle in which (B.C. 42) some ninety-five years before St Paul first saw Philippi, the combined armies of Brutus and Cassius were defeated by Octavius (afterwards Augustus) and Marcus Antonius. Cassius encamped on Pangæus, south of the town, plain, and fen, Brutus on the slopes to the north, near the town; thus guarding from both sides the pass of the Egnatian road. First Cassius was routed, and two days later Brutus. Each in succession was slain, at his own command, by the hand of a comrade, and with them died the cause of the great republican oligarchy of Rome.

Augustus erected Philippi into a colony (colonia, κολωνία, Acts 16:12), with the full title Colonia Augusta Julia Victrix Philipporum, or Philippensis[4]. A colony, in the Roman sense, was a miniature Rome, a reproduction and outpost of the City. The colonists were sent out by authority, they marched in military order to their new home, their names were still enrolled among the Roman tribes, they used the Latin language and Latin coinage, their chief magistrates were appointed from Rome, and were independent of the provincial governors[5]. These magistrates were two in each colony, Duumviri, and combined civil and military authority in their persons. At Philippi we find them assuming the grandiose title of commandants, prætors, στρατηγοί (Acts 16:20), and giving their constables the title of lictors, ῥαβδοῦχοι (Acts 16:35). They posed, in effect, as the more than consuls of their petty Rome. Much of the narrative of Acts 17 comes out with double vividness when the colonial character of Philippi is remembered.

In Acts 16:12 we find Philippi called, in the Authorized Version, “the chief city of that part of Macedonia.” The better rendering of the best-attested reading is, however, “a city of Macedonia, first of the district.” This may mean, grammatically, either that Philippi first met the traveller as he entered the region of Macedonia where it lay, or that it was the political capital of that region. Mr Lewin (i. 202, 206) advocates the latter view, and holds that Philippi succeeded Amphipolis as the capital of the “first,” or easternmost, of the four Roman “Macedonias.” Bp Lightfoot (Philippians, p. 50.) prefers decidedly the former view, maintaining that the fourfold Roman division was, by St Paul’s time, long disused. We incline, however, to an explanation nearer to Mr Lewin’s view; that Philippi is marked by St Luke as first, in the sense of most important, of its district; not officially perhaps, but by prestige.

We may remark in passing that the geographical position of Philippi is incidentally illustrated by the presence there of Lydia, the purple-merchant from Asiatic Thyatira, come to this important place of thoroughfare between her continent and Roman Europe. And the colonial, military, character of Philippi explains in a measure the comparative feebleness of its Jewish element, with their humble proseucha, or prayer-house (Acts 16:13), outside the walls.

On the story of St Paul’s work at Philippi there is little need to dwell in detail, so full and vivid is the narrative of Acts 16, from the unobtrusive opening of the mission (A.D. 52) by the Apostle, with his coadjutors Silas, Timothy, and probably Luke[6], to the moment when Paul and Silas quit the house of Lydia, and, probably leaving Luke behind them, set out westward along the Egnatian road for Amphipolis. It is enough to say here that the whole circumstances there depicted harmonize perfectly with the contents and tone of our Epistle; with its peculiar affectionateness, as written to witnesses and partners of tribulation, with its entreaties to the disciples to hold together in the midst of singularly alien surroundings, and, we may add, with its allusions to the “citizen-life” of the saints whose central civic home is (not Rome but) heaven.

Twice after A.D. 52, within the period covered by the Acts, we find St Paul at Philippi. Late in the year 57 he left Ephesus for Macedonia (Acts 20:1; cp. 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; 2 Corinthians 7:5-6), and undoubtedly gave to Philippi some of his “much exhortation.” In the spring of 58, on his return eastward from Corinth by Macedonia, he spent Passover at Philippi (Acts 20:6), lingering there, apparently, in the rear of the main company of his fellow-travellers, “that he might keep the paschal feast with his beloved converts[7].”

Intercourse with Philippi was evidently maintained actively during his absences. Our Epistle (Philippians 4:16) mentions two messages from the converts to St Paul just after his first visit, and the frequent allusions to Macedonia[8] in the Corinthian Epistles indicate that during the time spent at Ephesus (say 55–57) Philippi, with the other “churches of Macedonia,” must have been continually in his heart and thoughts, and kept in contact with him by messengers.

Before leaving the topic of St Paul’s intercourse with Philippi, we may notice two points in which distinctively Macedonian traits appear in the Christian life of the mission Church. The first is the position and influence of women. We have women prominent in the narrative of Acts 16, and in Philippians 4:2 we find two women who were evidently important and influential persons in the Church. And similar indications appear at Thessalonica (Acts 17:4) and Berœa (ib. 12). Bp Lightfoot has collected some interesting evidence to shew that Macedonian women generally held an exceptionally honoured and influential position. Thus it is common, in Macedonian inscriptions, to find the mother’s name recorded instead of the father’s; and Macedonian husbands, in epitaphs upon their wives, use terms markedly reverent as well as affectionate. The Gospel doctrine of woman’s dignity would find good soil in Macedonia. The other point is the pecuniary liberality of the Philippians, which comes out so conspicuously in ch. 4. This was a characteristic of the Macedonian missions, as 2 Corinthians 8, 9, amply and beautifully prove. It is remarkable that the Macedonian converts were, as a class, very poor (2 Corinthians 8:1); and the parallel facts, their poverty and their open-handed support of the great missionary and his work, are deeply harmonious. At the present day the missionary liberality of poor Christians is, in proportion, vastly greater than that of the rich.

The post-apostolic history of Philippi is very meagre. We know scarcely anything of it with the one exception that St Ignatius passed it, on his way from Asia to his martyrdom at Rome, about the year 110. He was reverently welcomed by the Philippians, and his pathetic visit occasioned communications between them and Ignatius’ friend Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who then wrote to the Philippian Christians his one extant Epistle (see below, ch. v). “Though the see is said to exist even to the present day,” writes Bp Lightfoot (Philippians, p. 65), “the city itself has long been a wilderness.… Of the church which stood foremost among all the apostolic communities in faith and love, it may literally be said that not one stone stands upon another. Its whole career is a signal monument of the inscrutable counsels of God. Born into the world with the brightest promise, the Church of Philippi has lived without a history and perished without a memorial.” (See further, Appendix O.)

As we leave the ruins of Philippi, it is interesting to observe that among them have been found, by a French archæological mission [1864], inscriptions giving the names of the promoters of the building of the temple of Silvanus, and of the members of its “sacred college.” Among them occur several names familiar to us in the Acts and Epistles; Crescens, Secundus, Trophimus, Urbanus, Aristobulus, Pudens, and Clemens—this last a name found in our Epistle.



IT may be taken as certain that the Epistle was written from Rome during the two years’ imprisonment recorded by St Luke (Acts 28:30); that is to say, within the years 61–63. It is true that some scholars, notably Meyer[9], have made Cæsarea Stratonis (Acts 24:23-27) the place of writing of the Philippians, Ephesians, and Colossians; and some who hesitate to assign the two latter epistles to the Cæsarean captivity assign the Philippians to it (see Lightfoot, p. 30, note). But the reasons on the other side seem to us abundantly decisive. Bp Lightfoot gives them somewhat as follows (pp. 30, 31, note). [1] The notice of “Cæsar’s household” (Philippians 4:22) cannot naturally apply to Cæsarea. [2] The notice (Philippians 1:12 &c.) of the progress of the Gospel loses point if the place of writing is not a place of great importance and a comparatively new field for the Gospel. [3] St Paul looks forward, in this Epistle, to an approaching release, and to a visit to Macedonia. This does not agree with his indicated hopes and plans at Cæsarea, where certainly his expectation (Acts 23:11) was to visit Rome, under whatever circumstances, most probably as a prisoner on appeal. The chief plea, in the Philippians, for Cæsarea is that the word πραιτώριον (Philippians 1:13) corresponds to the prætorium, or residency, of Herod at Cæsarea (Acts 23:35). But here again we may remark that the allusion in the Epistle indicates an area of influence remarkable and extensive, conditions scarcely fulfilled at Cæsarea. And Rome affords an obvious and adequate solution of the problem, as we shall see at the proper place in the text.

The subordinate question arises, When within the two years of the Roman captivity was our Epistle written? Was it early or late, before or after the Ephesians and the Colossians? which are plainly to be grouped together, along with the private letter to the Colossian Phlippians.

A widely prevalent view is that the Philippians was written late, not long before St Paul’s release on the final hearing of his appeal. The main reasons for this view are

[1] the indications in the Epistle that the Gospel had made great progress at Rome;

[2] the absence in the Epistle of the names Luke and Aristarchus, who both sailed from Syria with St Paul (Acts 27:2) and who both appear in the Colossians and Phlippians;

[3] the lapse of time after St Paul’s arrival at Rome demanded by the details of Epaphroditus’ case (Philippians 2, 4), which seem to indicate that the Philippians had heard of St Paul’s arrival; had then despatched their collection (perhaps not without delay, Philippians 4:10) to Rome by Epaphroditus; had then heard, from Rome, that Epaphroditus had been ill there (Philippians 2:26), and had then somehow let it be known at Rome (ibid.) that the news had reached them;

[4] the tone of the Epistle, in its allusions to St Paul’s strict imprisonment and to his entire uncertainty, humanly speaking, about the issue of his appeal; allusions said to be inconsistent with the comparative freedom indicated by the Acts, but consistent with a change for the worse in the counsels of Nero, such a change as would have occurred when (A.D. 62) the wicked Tigellinus succeeded the upright Burrus in command of the Guard.

Bp Lightfoot on the other hand takes the view that the Philippians was the earliest of the Epistles of the Captivity. And he meets the above arguments somewhat as follows.

[1] There is good evidence, both in the Acts and the Epistle, and above all in the Romans, for the belief that “a flourishing though unorganized Church” existed at Rome before St Paul’s arrival. Already, three years earlier, he had addressed his greatest Epistle “to all that were in Rome, beloved of God, called saints”; and there is strong reason to think that many of the Christians greeted in that Epistle (ch. 16) were identical with “the saints of the Household” of our Epistle (see on Philippians 4:22), and so that those “saints” were pre-Pauline converts, at least in many instances. And when he lands at Puteoli, in 61, he finds there too Christians ready to greet him. And on the other hand the allusions in our Epistle to the progress of the work at Rome must not be pressed too far, as if the whole population of the City was being stirred. What is meant is that a distinct and vigorous “new departure” was being made by the Roman Christians, as willing evangelists, and that the warders of the Apostle were carrying out the strange and interesting news of his doctrine and character among their fellow Prætorians and “people in general” (οἱ λοιποὶ πάντες). But all these notes excellently suit a time not long after the Apostle’s arrival, when the stimulus of his presence among the Christians would be powerful in its novelty, and when of course already the “soldiers that kept him” would be among his hearers, and not seldom, by the grace of God, his converts. Even the allusion (Philippians 1:15) to internal opposition suits such a time better than a later, “when … antagonism … and … devotion … had settled down into a routine” (Lightfoot, p. 34).

[2] As regards the absence from the Philippians of the names Luke and Aristarchus, this is in the first place an argument from silence only, which cannot be conclusive. The two disciples may be included under the “brethren” and “saints” of Philippians 4:21-22. But further, it is at least doubtful whether Aristarchus, though he sailed from Syria with St Paul, landed in Italy with him. He was a Thessalonian, and the vessel in which St Paul sailed was an Adramyttian, from the Ægæan, in which Aristarchus may have been on his way not to Rome but to Thessalonica[10]. From Macedonia he may easily have joined St Paul in Italy later, associating himself so closely there with the imprisoned Apostle as to earn the title of his “fellow-prisoner of war” (Colossians 4:10). As for Luke, it is obvious that at any time he might have left Rome on a temporary errand, to Puteoli perhaps, or some other outlying mission. And of course the same remark may be made of Aristarchus, supposing him to have been after all in Italy.

[3] The argument from the case of Epaphroditus is not strong. It is not necessary to suppose that a special message went from Rome to Philippi to announce St Paul’s arrival. Very possibly through Aristarchus (see just above), if not by some other means, the Philippians may have heard that he was far on his way, and may have acted on probabilities. Epaphroditus may even have left Philippi, with the collection, before St Paul reached Italy. And a month, under favourable circumstances, would suffice for a journey from Philippi to Rome, by Brundisium (Brindisi), Dyrrachium (the Illyrian port), and the Egnatian road across Macedonia[11]. Thus if the Philippians was written only four months after St Paul’s arrival the time would amply include all we need infer under this head.

[4] The tone of the Epistle, with its suspense, its allusions to rigour of confinement, and on the other hand its expectations of release, is not conclusive for a late date. The imprisonment as depicted in it is, after all, no less and no more severe than Acts 28:16 implies. And the references to the trial and its uncertain issue would probably be at least as appropriate in the early stages of its progress, or under early experiences of its delays, as later. Doubtless the Epistle depicts trials and sorrows where the Acts speaks only of opportunity and success; but Bp Lightfoot well remarks that this is perfectly truth-like. The historian reviews the sum total of a very fruitful period of influence; the letter-writer speaks under the immediate pressure of the day’s, or the week’s, chequered circumstances. St Paul’s expectation of release is discussed in the notes (Philippians 2:24); it certainly affords no decisive note of time. As for the promotion of Tigellinus, Lightfoot justly says that such changes in the Imperial court would make little difference, for better or worse, in the case of an obscure provincial prisoner, the missionary of a cultus which had not yet come to be thought politically dangerous.

If these arguments for a late date for the Epistle may be fairly answered thus, we have meanwhile positive evidence for an earlier date in the doctrinal affinities of the Philippians. These point towards the great central group of Pauline Epistles (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians), and especially towards the Romans, the latest written of that group. In Philippians 3 we have in prominence the doctrine of Justification, in the precise form of the doctrine of Imputed Righteousness, the believer’s refuge and peace in view of the absoluteness of the Divine Law. Now this is the characteristic topic of the Roman and Galatian Epistles, and in a minor degree of the Corinthian (1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21). But it is absent, as regards just this form of presentation, from the Ephesian and Colossian Epistles, in which St Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to deal more expressly with the closely related, but different sides of truth conveyed in such words as Union, Life, Indwelling, Universal Church. This is strong evidence for an approximation of the Philippians to the Romans, &c., in point of time, as near as other considerations allow. Certainly it makes it likely that the Ephesians and its group were not interposed between the Romans and the Philippians.

And on closer examination we find many links of thought and expression between the Romans and the Philippians, besides this main link. Bp Lightfoot (pp. 43, 44) collects the following parallelisms of this sort:

Compare Philippians 1:3-8

with Romans 1:8-11 :

Compare Philippians 1:10

with Romans 2:18 :

Compare Philippians 2:2-4

with Romans 12:10; Romans 12:16-19 :

Compare Philippians 2:8-11

with Romans 14:9-11 :

Compare Philippians 3:3

with Romans 2:28; Romans 1:9; Romans 5:11 :

Compare Philippians 3:4-5

with Romans 11:1 :

Compare Philippians 3:10-11; Philippians 3:21

with Romans 6:5 :

Compare Philippians 3:19

with Romans 6:21; Romans 16:18 :

Compare Philippians 4:18

with Romans 12:1.

And he notes the following words and phrases as occurring in the two Epistles, and not elsewhere: ἀποκαραδοκία, σύμμορφος, ἐξ ἐριθείας, ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν, προσδέχεσθαι ἐν Κυρί.

On the whole, we may date the Epistle, with great probability, late in the year 61 or early in 62. See further The Epistle to the Ephesians, in this The Camb. Bible for Schools, &c., Introduction, pp. 19–22.

Of the occasion of writing, little needs to be said; the Epistle itself speaks clearly on the subject. The arrival of Epaphroditus bringing the Philippian gift, his illness at Rome, and his anxiety to return to Philippi, appear to have given the immediate suggestion and made the opportunity. We gather that besides this Epaphroditus had reported, as the one serious defect of Christian life at Philippi, a tendency to party-spirit, or at least to personal antagonisms and differences, especially in the case of two well-known female converts. See Philippians 1:2; Philippians 1:27, Philippians 2:2-3; Philippians 2:14; Philippians 2:26, Philippians 4:2, and notes. And meanwhile St Paul takes the occasion to warn his beloved Philippians against errors of doctrine and practice which, if not already rife at Philippi, were sure to find their way there; the errors both of the Pharisaic legalist (Philippians 3:2-11), and of the antinomian would-be Paulinist (Philippians 3:13-19).

So, occasioned on the one hand by present circumstances, and on the other guided by the secret working of the Holy Spirit to form a sure oracle of God for the Church for ever, the Letter was dictated, and the greetings of the Writer’s visitors were added, and the manuscript was given over to Epaphroditus, to be conveyed across Italy, the Adriatic, and Macedonia, to the plain and hill of Philippi[12].



NO trace of doubt on this subject appears in early Christian literature. Amongst direct testimonies, and taking the later first, we may cite Tertullian (cent. 2–3). He (de Resurrectione Carnis, c. xxiii.) quotes Philippians 3:11-13[13], as “written by Paul to the Philippians.” He mentions (de Præscriptione, c. xxxvi.) Philippi among the Churches which possessed “authentic apostolic epistles,” that is, apparently, letters received at first hand from Apostles. In his Reply to Marcion, bk. v., taking up the Pauline Epistles one by one for evidence against the Gnostic theory of Christianity taught by Marcion, he comes (c. xx.) to “the Epistle to the Philippians,” and quotes, or refers to, Philippians 1:14-18, Philippians 2:6-8, Philippians 3:5-9; Philippians 3:20-21. It will be observed that this latter evidence is doubly valuable, as it assumes his opponent’s agreement with him about the authenticity.

Irenæus (late cent. 2) quotes (de Hæresibus, iv., c. xviii. 4) Philippians 4:18 as the words of “Paul to the Philippians.”

Clement of Alexandria (late cent. 2) repeatedly quotes the Epistle. He brings (Pædagogus, i., c. vi., ed. Migne) Philippians 3:12-14 to refute those who “call themselves ‘perfect’ and ‘gnostic’.” In the Stromata, iv., c. iii., he refers to Philippians 3:20, in the words “having obtained citizenship in heaven”; c. v., he quotes Philippians 1:13-14 as the “words of the Apostle”; c. xiii. he quotes Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:29-30, Philippians 2:1-2; Philippians 2:17; Philippians 2:20-21, and refers to the Philippians as addressed by “the Apostle” in these passages.

In the contemporary Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne, describing the martyrdoms of A.D. 177[14], the sufferers are said to have striven to “imitate Christ, who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” The Greek is verbatim as Philippians 2:6.

Polycarp, in his Epistle to the Philippians (very early cent. 2), both refers (c. iii.) to the Epistle which St Paul had addressed to them, and manifestly echoes its phraseology. He speaks indeed of “Epistles.” But the plural is often used for the singular of this word; see Lightfoot in his Edition of Polycarp (Apostolic Fathers, Pt. II.; Vol. ii., sect. ii., p. 911). Polycarp’s Epistle is given below, nearly in full; Introduction, ch. v.

Ignatius, on his way to martyrdom (about A.D. 110), wrote a series of Epistles. In that to the Romans, c. ii., he speaks of his desire to be “poured out as a libation (σπονδισθῆναι) to God”; to the Philadelphians he writes (c. viii.), “do nothing in a spirit of faction,” κατʼ ἐριθείαν, Philippians 2:3); to the Smyrnæans (c. iv.), “I endure all things, for He, the perfect Man, strengtheneth me”; and (c. xi.), “being perfect, be ye also perfectly minded.” These passages, taken together, are good evidence for Ignatius’ knowledge of the Epistle.

All the ancient Versions (see below, p. xxx) contain the Epistle.

Such evidence, combined on the one hand with the total absence of ancient negative testimony, and on the other with the perfect naturalness, and intense and tender individuality, of the Epistle itself, is abundantly enough to satisfy all but the ultra-scepticism which, however ingenious, really originates in à priori views. Such surely is the account to be given of the theory of F. C. Baur 1796–1860)—that the Epistle is a fabrication of the second century, betraying a development of doctrine[15] and life later than the age of St Paul, and aiming at a reconciliation between divergent Church parties (see on Philippians 4:2 below). His objections to the Epistle have, however, been discarded as futile even by rationalizing critics, such as Hilgenfeld, Pfleiderer, and Renan[16]. Alford (Greek Test., iii. p. xxvii) says, “To those who would see an instance of the very insanity of hypercriticism I would recommend the study of these pages of Baur [Paulus, der Apostel Jesu Christi, pp. 458–475]. They are almost as good, by way of burlesque, as the ‘Historic Doubts respecting Napoleon Buonaparte’ of Abp Whately. According to [Baur] all usual expressions prove its spuriousness, as being taken from other Epistles; all unusual expressions prove the same, as being from another than St Paul, &c.” Lightfoot says (Phil., p. 74), “I cannot think that the mere fact of their having been brought forward by men of ability and learning is sufficient to entitle objections of this stamp to a serious refutation.” Salmon says (Introd. to N. T., pp. 465, 6), “Baur has pronounced this Epistle dull, uninteresting, monotonous, characterized by poverty of thought, and want of originality. But one only loses respect for the taste and skill of the critic who can pass such a sentence on one of the most touching and interesting of Paul’s letters. So far is it from shewing signs of having been manufactured by imitation of the other Epistles that it reveals aspects of Paul’s character which the other letters had not presented … Elsewhere we are told how the Apostle laboured with his own hands for his support, and declared that he would rather die than let the disinterestedness of his preaching be suspected; here we find (Philippians 4:10-19) that there was no false pride in his independence, and that when there was no likelihood of misrepresentation, he could gracefully accept the ungrudged gifts of affectionate converts. Elsewhere we read only of his reprobation of Christian teachers who corrupted the simplicity of the Gospel; here we are told (Philippians 1:18) of his satisfaction that, by the efforts even of those whose motives were not pure, the Gospel of Christ should be more widely published.”



WE have pointed out the strong doctrinal link of connexion between the Philippian Epistle and the Romans with its attendant Epistles. We find in the Philippians on the other hand indications of similar connexion with the Ephesians and the Colossians, and such indications as to harmonize with the theory advocated above (p. xvi) that these Epistles were dated some time later in St Paul’s captivity.

In two directions chiefly these connexions appear; (a) in the view of the Church as a City or Commonwealth, and (b) in the view of Christ’s personal Glory.

Under the first head, cp. Philippians 3:20 with Ephesians 2:12; Ephesians 2:19, remembering that nowhere in the Epistles written before the Roman imprisonment is this view of the Church distinctly presented.

Under the second head, cp. Philippians 2:5-11 with Ephesians 1:17-23; Ephesians 2:8, &c.; Colossians 1:15-19, &c. And cp. Philippians 2:10 with Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 1:20. In the earlier Epistles the Apostle was guided to the fullest statements of the salvation wrought out by Christ, especially in its judicial and propitiatory aspects. But this exposition of the grace and wonder of His personal majesty, personal self-abasement, and personal exaltation after it, is in a great measure a new development in the revelations given through St Paul.

Observe in connexion with this the insistence on the blessedness of “knowing Him” (Philippians 3:10), compared with the glowing language of Ephesians 3:19 “to know the love of Christ, &c.”). Most certainly the idea is present everywhere in the Epistles of St Paul; but it reaches its full prominence in this group of Epistles, as other sides of truth do in the Romans and the Galatians.

Among minor notes of kinship in these Epistles observe the view of faith as the “gift of God” (Philippians 1:29; Ephesians 2:8); the mention of the Divine “good pleasure,” or gracious sovereign purpose (Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 1:4); the phrase “preach Christ” (Philippians 1:16; Philippians 1:18; Colossians 1:28); the Apostle’s “joy” in his trials (Philippians 1:18; Ephesians 3:13; Colossians 1:24); the Divine “inworking” in the saints (Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:29; cp. Ephesians 2:10); and the following words or phrases peculiar to these among the Pauline Epistles—παπεινοφροσύνη (Philippians 2:3; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12), σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμῶν (or nearly so) (Philippians 2:1; Colossians 3:12; cp. Phlippians 1:7; Phlippians 1:12; Phlippians 1:20); ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας (Philippians 4:18; Ephesians 5:2); ἐπιχορηγία (Philippians 1:19; Ephesians 4:16; cp. Colossians 2:19).



THIS Epistle, the only other extant letter addressed to the Church of Philippi, has been already mentioned (p. xxi). For the text, fully edited with notes, see Lightfoot’s Apostolic Fathers, Part II. Vol. ii., sect. 2, pp. 898, &c. We give a translation of the Epistle slightly abridged. It is interesting to observe the wealth of N. T. quotations, and the frequent tacit allusions to the copies of St Paul’s Epistle. All clear Scripture quotations are italicized, as well as phrases apparently suggested by Scripture.

POLYCARP and his elders to the Church of God sojourning at Philippi; grace and peace be multiplied from God Almighty and Jesus Christ our Saviour.

i. I rejoiced greatly with you in the Lord, in your joy on welcoming those Copies[17] (μιμήματα) of the True Love, chained with those holy fetters which are the diadems of the elect; and that your long-renowned faith persists, and bears fruit to Christ, who for our sins died and rose, in whom, not having seen Him, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, a joy into which many long to enter, knowing that by grace ye have been saved, not of works, but by the will of God in Christ.

ii. So gird up your loins, forsake the prevalent specious errors, believe on Him who raised our Lord from the dead and gave Him glory, to whom (Christ) all things in heaven and earth are subjected, to whom every living thing (πνοὴ) does service, who comes to judge the quick and dead, whose blood God will require of the unbelieving. He who raised Him will raise us also, if we walk in His ways, abstaining from all injustice, avarice, and evil-speaking, not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing; remembering how the Lord said, Judge not, that ye be not judged; blessed are the poor, and the persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

iii. I write thus concerning righteousness, not of my own motion but because you have invited me. Neither I nor any like me can approach the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who when among you, face to face with the men of that day, taught accurately and with certainty the word concerning the truth, who also when absent wrote to you letters[18], which if you study diligently you shall be able to be built up into the faith given you; which faith is the mother of us all, followed by hope, and by hope’s forerunner, love to God, to Christ, and to our neighbour. For if any one is given to these, he hath fulfilled the precept of righteousness. He who hath love is far from all sin.

iv. Now the beginning of all evils is the love of money. We brought nothing into the world, and can carry nothing out. Let us put on the armour of righteousness and teach one another to walk in the precept. Teach your wives too to walk in the faith, love, and purity given them, faithful to their husbands in all truth, amiable to all around them in true modesty, training their children in the fear of God. Let your widows be sober in the faith, instant in intercession, holding aloof from evil-speaking, from avarice, and from all wrong. They are God’s altar, and He inspects the victim to see if it has any blemish.

v. God is not mocked; let us walk worthy of His precept and glory. Let the deacons (διάκονοι, ministers) be blameless before Him, as ministers of God and Christ, avoiding likewise evil-speaking, and avarice, and unkindness, before Him who was minister of all. If we please Him in this world we shall receive the world to come; if we walk (πολιτευσώμεθα) worthy of Him, we shall reign with Him, if we believe. Let the juniors too walk in holy strictness. Every lust warreth against the spirit; fornicators and such like shall not inherit the kingdom. So let them watch and abstain; let them submit to the presbyters and deacons. And let the virgins walk in holiness.

vi. The presbyters should be compassionate, watchful over the erring, the weak, the widows, orphans, and poor, providing always for that which is good before God and men, renouncing wrath, partiality, avarice, and rash judgment. If we ask remission, we must remit. We must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give account each of himself. Let us do Him bond-service, as He bade us, and His Apostles, and the Prophets who shewed before of His coming. Be zealous for good; avoid offences, and false brethren, who deceive the careless.

vii. For whosoever confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is antichrist. Whosoever confesses not the mystery of the Cross is of the devil. Whosoever perverts the Lord’s oracles to his lusts, and says that there is neither resurrection nor judgment, is Satan’s firstborn. So let us forsake the current vain doctrines, and turn to the once-delivered Gospel, watching unto prayer, persevering in fastings, praying the all-seeing God not to lead us into temptation; as the Lord said, The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

viii. Let us hold fast to our hope and to the earnest of our righteousness, which earnest is Christ Jesus, who bore our sins in His own body to the tree; who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; who bore all that we might live in Him. Let us imitate His patience. If we suffer for Him, let us glorify Him.—He left us this example (ὑπογραμμὸν ἔθηκεν).

ix. All of you obey the word of righteousness, and practise true endurance, which you have seen exemplified before you not only in blessed Ignatius, Zosimus, and Rufus, but in others of your own body, and in Paul himself and the other Apostles. You know that they all did not run in vain. They have gone, in the path of faith and righteousness, to their promised (ὀφειλόμενον) place, beside the Lord with whom they suffered.

x. Stand fast then, according to His example, steadfast and unmoveable in the faith, kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; sharing together in truth, in the Lord’s gentleness[19] preferring one another. When able to do good, defer it not, for almsgiving rescueth from death (Tobit 4:11; Tobit 12:9). All being subject to one another, have your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that by your good works you may obtain praise, and the Lord be not blasphemed. Teach all men true sobriety.

xi. I am exceedingly grieved for Valens, once made an elder among you, that he so ignores the position given him. Do you avoid avarice; be pure, be true. He who cannot steer himself aright in such duties, how can he preach them? If he avoids not avarice he will be defiled by idolatry, and judged as one of the Gentiles. Know we not that the saints shall judge the world? as Paul teaches. I never heard of such sins in you, among whom the blessed Paul toiled, who were his “(living) epistles[20] in the first (days of the Gospel). About you he glories in the churches which knew the Lord before we knew Him. I am deeply grieved for Valens, and for his wife; God grant them repentance. Count them not as enemies, but restore them as diseased and wandering members, that your whole body may be in safety.

xii. You know the holy Scriptures perfectly; a knowledge not granted to me. Only, (I know that) it is there said, Be angry and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath. Now the God and Father of our Lord, and He, the eternal High-Priest (Pontifex), (our) God[21], Jesus Christ, build you up in all holiness, and give you part and lot among His saints, and to us with you, and to all everywhere who shall believe on our Lord and God Jesus Christ, and on His Father who raised Him from the dead. Pray for all the saints, and for kings and rulers, and for them that persecute you, and for the enemies of the Cross, that your fruit may be manifest in all things, that ye may be perfect in Him.

xiii. Both you and Ignatius have asked me that, if a messenger is leaving us for Syria, he may carry your letter with ours. This I will do, in person or by delegate. The letter of Ignatius to us, and all others in our hands, we have sent you, as you desired, attached to this letter. They will greatly benefit you spiritually. Report to us anything you hear of Ignatius’ companions.

xiv. My letter-bearer is Crescens, whom again I commend to you, as a blameless Christian. His sister too I commend to you, in prospect. Farewell in the Lord Jesus Christ, in grace, with all who are yours. Amen.



NO attempt whatever is made here to discuss general principles of textual criticism. All that is intended is to explain the terms and signs used in the critical notes, and to state the rule of construction of the text.


The following are the Manuscripts, Versions, Fathers, and modern Editors, referred to in the Critical (and occasionally other) Notes, and the English Versions frequently quoted in the general Notes.

i. UNCIAL MANUSCRIPTS, i.e. copies written in Greek capital letters, a style much more used in the early Christian centuries than later.

א. Codex Sinaiticus. Found by Tischendorf in the Convent of St Catharine, Mount Sinai; now at St Petersburg. Cent. 4. It was corrected cent. 6 and 7, and later.

A. Codex Alexandrinus. In the British Museum; given by Cyril Lucar, once Patriarch of Alexandria, to Charles I. Cent. 5.

B. Codex Vaticanus. In the Vatican Library. Of the same date as א, and probably by one of the scribes of א.

C. Codex Ephraemi. At Paris. Cent. 5, retouched cent. 6 and 9. It is fragmentary, and in Philippians gives only Philippians 1:22 to Philippians 3:5 inclusive. Palimpsest, with works of St Ephraim in Greek as the upper writing.

D2. Codex Claromontanus. Greek and Latin. Found by Theodore Beza (cent. 16) at Clermont; now at Paris. Cent. 6, probably. It contains the Pauline Epistles. (It must be carefully distinguished from the famous MS. of the Gospels and Acts, also found by Beza, now at Cambridge, and known as D, Codex Bezæ.)

G2. Codex Boernerianus. At Dresden. Probably cent. 9: perhaps written by Irish scribes at St Gallen in Switzerland.

K2. Codex Mosquensis. Probably cent. 9. (K denotes another MS., Codex Cyprius, of the Gospels.)

L. Codex Angelicus. At Rome. Not earlier than middle of cent. 9.

P. Codex Porphyrianus. At St Petersburg. Cent. 9.

ii. CURSIVE MANUSCRIPTS, i.e. copies written in “running” hand. Of the vast number of these extant, none probably is older than cent. 10 or at earliest 9. Their evidence is of a secondary but often high value.

They are denoted by numbers, and a separate numeration is given to those which contain St Paul’s Epistles.

Of those cited, 17 (at Paris, bound up with the noteworthy Codex 33 of the Gospels) is of the tenth century. The remainder are of cent. 11, or later.

iii. ANCIENT VERSIONS, from the Greek

Vulgate. This word commonly denotes the Latin Version of the Bible produced by Jerome (331–420); completed 404. This version was in parts a new rendering from the Hebrew, in parts a revision of the Old Latin Version (cent. 2) [22]. This latter is the character of the Vulgate of the N.T.; in the Acts and Epistles the revision is less thorough than in the Gospels. Among important MSS. of the Vulgate we have referred to that of Fulda, in Prussia; written in Italy, cent. 6.

Gothic. A version from the Greek by Ulphilas (311–381) [23], for the Visigoths. It is fragmentary, and of Philippians gives only Philippians 1:14 to Philippians 2:8, Philippians 2:22 to Philippians 4:17.

Syriac (a), Peshitto (i.e. “Simple”). Perhaps cent. 4.

Syriac (b), Harkleian. Cent. 7. A revision by Thomas of Harkel (Heraclea) of a version (the Philoxenian) made cent. 6 for Philoxenus of Hierapolis.

Egyptian or Coptic (a), the Memphitic, also called Bohairic. The version of the Bohaira, a district near Alexandria. Date uncertain, perhaps cent. 3 or 4.

Coptic (b), the Thebaic, or Sahidic (Philippians 3:16). The version of Upper (i.e. Southern) Egypt. This is fragmentary. Date uncertain, perhaps cent. 3.

Armenian. Cent. 5.

Æthiopic, or Old Abyssinian. Still used in Abyssinian worship, though the language is no longer spoken. Some time cent. 4–6.

iv. FATHERS: Writers in the early centuries of the Christian Church, whose frequent quotations from Scripture give evidence on readings. The date in each case is that of the death.

(a) Writers in Greek.

Clement, of Rome, cir. 110.

Clement, of Alexandria, cir. 210.

Origen, of Alexandria, 253.

Eusebius, of Cæsarea Stratonis, cir. 340.

Athanasius, of Alexandria, 373.

Basil, of Cæsarea, in Cappadocia, 379.

Epiphanius, of Cyprus, 403.

Chrysostom, of Antioch and Constantinople, 407

Cyril, of Alexandria, 444.

Theodoret, of Cyrus, in Syria, 457.

Damascene (John of Damascus), cir. 780.

Theophylact, of Greece and Bulgaria, cir. 1107.

(b) Writers in Latin.

Irenæus, of Asia Minor and Gaul (placed here because his great extant work, Against Heresies, is preserved mainly in a Latin Version), cir. 200.

Tertullian, of N. Africa, cir. 230.

Cyprian, of N. Africa, 258.

Hilary, of Gaul, 354.

Victorinus, of N. Africa, cir. 382.

Ambrose, of Milan, 397.

Ambrosiaster or pseudo-Ambrose (Hilary the Deacon, of Rome), cir. 400.

Jerome, of Dalmatia and Palestine, 420.

Augustine, of N. Africa, 430.


C. Lachmann, 1793–1851. The first critical editor to desert the Textus Receptus as an authority in favour of ancient evidence only. For his text (1842–1850) he used only Uncials, the Vulgate, certain other Latin Versions, and certain Fathers of cents. 2, 3, 4.

C. Tischendorf, 1815–1874. His life was devoted to the research and editing of MSS., in which he did a vast work. As many as eight editions of his Greek Testament appeared; the 8th has been used for the present work.

S. P. Tregelles, 1813–1875. He published in instalments a Greek Text founded on the oldest MSS., the Versions to cent. 7, and Fathers of cent. 1–4.

H. Alford, 1810–1871. He followed Tischendorf and Tregelles on the whole: but gave more weight to internal evidence.

Chr. Wordsworth, 1807–1885. The Greek New Testament, 1856–1860; ed. 2, 1872.

J. B. Lightfoot, 1828–1890. The Epistle to the Philippians, 1868; ed. 7, 1883.

C. J. Ellicott. Philippians, Colossians, and Phlippians, 1857; ed. 2, 1861.

B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort. The New Testament in Greek, 1881. In this recension the highest value is assigned to B.


J. Wyclif, or Wiclif, 1314?–1384. The whole Bible, 1382.

W. Tindale (so he always spells his name), 1484?–1536. The New Testament, 1525, 1526.

“Cranmer’s” Bible, 1539. So called because its second edition, 1540, had a preface by the Archbishop. It is otherwise known as the Great Bible. It was the first “authorized” English Version.

The Genevan Version. By English exiles at Geneva; the New Testament, 1557. For more than half a century this was the popular English Bible.

The “Authorized” Version, 1611.

The Revised Version; the New Testament, 1881.


The Text in this Edition is based on the texts of Tischendorf (Leipzig, 1872) and Tregelles. Their agreement is treated as decisive. Where they differ, the agreement of either with Lachmann is treated as decisive. In other cases the decision is given by the agreement of either with the Textus Receptus as printed by Dr Scrivener (Cambridge, 1876). The Editor has been careful to point out where this general method produces results which, from other points of view, are in his opinion open to criticism.

The Textus Receptus is that produced by the great French printer and scholar, Robert Estienne (Stephanus, Stephens); Paris, 1546–1550. His work was largely based on the later editions (1527, 1535) of Erasmus’ Greek Testament, editions in which Erasmus had modified his earlier work (first issued 1516) by the edition called the Complutensian, published (1521 or 1522) at Complutum, i.e. Alcalá, in Spain, under the patronage of Card. Ximenes, Abp of Toledo (1436–1517). The MSS. used by Ximenes, Erasmus, and Stephens were neither numerous nor of the highest authority; and they are not always followed in the Textus Receptus.



CH. Philippians 1:1-2. PAUL and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ, greet the Christians of Philippi and their Church-officers, invoking blessing on them from the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:3-11. Paul assures them that his whole thought of them is full of thanksgiving, his every prayer for them full of joy, in view of their warm, steadfast cooperation from the first in his evangelical labours. He is quite sure [on this bright evidence] that the work of grace in them will reach its consummation in glory. His affectionate regard for them is but just, so fully have they claimed his heart by their identification of themselves with him in the trials of captivity and the toils of Christian witnessing and teaching. God knows with what yearning tenderness, drawn from the heart of Christ, he misses them and longs for them. [And his affection expresses itself above all things in prayer], the prayer that their love [of which he for one has had such proofs] may increasingly be guided and fortified by a quick spiritual perception, sifting truth from error, holiness from sin, and forming a character which at the Great Day should prove pure in principle, and rich in the fruit [of the Spirit], fruit generated by communion with Christ, and bringing glory to God.

Philippians 1:12-20. As regards his own present circumstances, he rejoices to inform them that they are conducing to the advance of the Gospel at Rome. [His imprisonment is in itself a mission]; its connexion [not with political or social offences but] with Christ is now well known throughout the Imperial Guard [which supplied his warders] and among the Romans in general. And the Roman Christians, for the most part, have felt a spiritual impetus [after a time of depression]. His captivity has nerved them to bear a bolder witness among their heathen neighbours. [True, there is a shadow across this light]; some thus proclaim Christ [with new energy] from motives of opposition to Paul, while others do so in loyal sincerity. On the one side is love, which sees in the imprisoned Apostle a centre of action, set there by Christ, for the propagation of the Gospel; on the other side is the spirit of the partizan and of self, defiling the motive of the work, actually wishing to make his imprisonment doubly trying [by intercepting enquirers and converts]. Does it matter to him? [No—and] yes. [No, so far as his peace in God is concerned], yes, [happily yes, so far as the spread of the primary Gospel truth is concerned]. For thus in every way Christ is being proclaimed. Here is cause of joy for Paul; and here shall be cause of joy [even in the eternal future]; for the situation shall only animate the Philippians to earnest prayer for him, and this shall bring him a new fulness of the Holy Spirit, and so shall promote his grace and glory. Yes, it shall forward the realization of his longing anticipation, that at this crisis, as at all others, Christ shall be glorified, whether through his body’s living energies, or through his submission to his body’s death.

Philippians 1:21-26. For indeed life is for him identified with, summed up in, Christ; and death, [as the introduction to Christ’s fuller presence] is gain [even over such a life]. If [it is his Lord’s will that] he should live on, [the prolonged life] will mean only larger work with richer fruit. And indeed the case is one of blessed dilemma. Personal preference is for dying, dying into the presence of Christ; a far, far better state [than the best here]; while duty, manifested in the needs of his converts, is for living patiently on. And thus he feels sure that he will live on, for the spiritual benefit of his converts, and particularly in order that his restoration to them in bodily presence may give them fresh occasion for triumph in Christ.

Philippians 1:27-30. Meanwhile, let them live a life of holy practical consistency. Above all, let him see, or let him hear, as the case may be, that they are standing firm, and standing together, cordially at one in Christian witness and work, and calm amidst opposing terrors. Such calmness [under such circumstances] will be an omen of their opponents’ ruin and their own coming heaven. God has thus adjusted things, God who has granted them not only faith in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him; a conflict one with that which they had seen in Paul’s case [at Philippi] and now hear of in his case [at Rome].

CH. Philippians 2:1-4. [Yes, let them above all things hold together, watching against a tendency towards internal dissension; a tendency which he fears has shewn itself, however faintly, amongst them.] By the common blessings of believers, by the pity of their human hearts, he begs them to crown his joy in them with the joy of an assurance that they are living in holy harmony; shunning the spirit of self, taking each the lowest room, entering with unselfish love into each other’s needs.

Philippians 2:5-11. Let them remember, and reflect, the supreme Self-forgetfulness of their Saviour. He, [in His preexistent glory,] being and seeming God, [looked indeed on the things of others]. He dealt with His true and eternally right Equality with His Father [in nature and majesty] not as a thing held, like a prize of strength or guile, anxiously and for Himself, [but as a thing which admitted of an act of most gracious sacrifice for others’ good]. In a marvellous “Exinanition” [He laid by the manifested glories of Deity], and willed to be, and to seem, [as Man], the Bondservant [of God], putting on the visible garb of embodied manhood, [while always also more than man]. Aye, and having thus presented himself to men as man, He bowed yet lower, [in His supreme outlook “upon the things of others,”] in His supreme obedience to His God; He extended that obedience to the length of dying, dying on a Cross, [that last degradation in the eyes of Gentile and Jew]. [So He “pleased not Himself,” and now, what was the result?] The Father raised Him to the eternal throne [in His now double glory, God and Man], giving to Him [as the once-abased One] the rights of supreme Majesty, that all creation in all spheres should worship Him, and the Father through Him, all beings confessing that Jesus Christ is “I AM,” to the Father’s glory.

Philippians 2:12-18. [With such an Example in view] let the beloved Philippians, now as always obedient to Paul’s appeals, so watch, so live, in tender, solemn earnestness (and more than ever now, in the absence of their Apostle) [whose presence might have seemed to excuse in them a lack of such care] as to realize and carry out the plan of their salvation. [And to promote at once their solemn care and their restful hope let them remember that] it is God who is personally effecting in them [in the regenerate life] both their holy desires and their just works, in order to accomplish His own blessed purposes. Let them renounce all mutual murmurings and dissensions; seeking to prove their spiritual sonship by a perfectly consistent walk, in the midst of a rebellious world, in whose darkness they are seen as spiritual stars; offering the news of Christ to their neighbours’ notice. So Paul would rejoice at the Great Day, looking back on his course of toil, that he had not lived in vain. [Aye, and that he had not died in vain]; for what if he should after all shed his blood as a libation on the altar at which the Philippians offered themselves a living sacrifice? He would rejoice, and would congratulate his converts. Let them rejoice, and congratulate him.

Philippians 2:19-30. [But to turn to another subject;] he hopes to send Timothy ere long, to report to him (it will be a cheering report) on their state. None of the Christians round him is so entirely in sympathy with him and with Philippi. Others of his friends might otherwise go, but alas their devotedness to the Lord’s will proves too partial. As for Timothy, the Philippians know by old experience how he had done bondservice to the Lord, with Paul, [in their very midst,] in a perfectly filial spirit. Immediately on Paul’s learning the issue of the trial, Timothy shall thus be sent. And he trusts ere long to follow personally to Philippi. Epaphroditus meanwhile, Paul’s fellow-labourer, and the bearer of the Philippians’ bounty to him, is to be spared and sent immediately, as a matter of duty. That duty is made plain by Epaphroditus’ state of feeling—his yearning to revisit Philippi, his sore trouble at the thought of the grief which must have been caused at Philippi by news there of his serious illness. He has indeed been ill, almost fatally. But God has spared him the grief [of premature removal from his work, and of being the cause of mourning at Philippi], and has spared Paul too the grief of bereavement added to his other trials. So he has taken pains to send him [in charge of the present Epistle], to the joy of the Philippians and the alleviation of Paul’s own sadness. Let them give their messenger a glad Christian welcome back again. Let them shew their esteem for him and such as him. For Christ’s work’s sake he has all but lost his life; he has run great hazards with it, in order to do for them, in their loving assistance to Paul, what in person they could not do.

Ch. Philippians 3:1-3. Now to draw to a close. Let them rejoice in the Lord [as their all in all, cherishing a joyful insight into His fulness as their Righteousness and Life]. In effect, he has been saying this all along. But to emphasize it again is welcome to him and wholesome for them. Let them beware of the Pharisee-Christian, [cruelly exclusive, while] really excluding himself from the true Israel; of the advocate of salvation by works, himself a bungling workman; of the assertors of a circumcision that is only now a physical maltreatment. We Christians are the true circumcised Israel, worshipping by the rites of the Spirit, making Christ Jesus our boast, renouncing all trust in self.

Philippians 3:4-11. If indeed such self-trust ever has just grounds, Paul claims it. He can surpass the claims of any such theorists [on their own principles,] in point of sacrament, pedigree, education, school of ascetic piety, tremendous earnestness, punctilious observance. These things were once his hoarded gains; but he has now decisively judged them to be one great loss, in the light of that Christ [to whose glory they blinded him]. Yes, and he holds that judgment now, concerning not these things only, but all things whatever [that can obscure his view of] the surpassing bliss of knowing Him as Saviour and as Lord. For Him he has been deprived of his all, and treats it now as refuse, that he may [in exchange] gain CHRIST for his, and be found [by the Judge] in living union with Him, presenting to the Eternal Holiness not a satisfying claim of his own, based on fulfilment of the Law as covenant of life, but the satisfying claim, which consists of Christ for him, appropriated by humble trust; God’s way of acceptance, thus made good for Paul. [And is this to terminate in itself, in acceptance of his guilty person, and no more? No;] its true, its necessary issue is that he gets to know his Redeemer spiritually [in His personal glory and beauty], and to experience the power of His resurrection [as conveying assurance of peace and hope of glory, and also in the inflow of His blessed Risen Life], and the joy of entrance, [in measure,] into His experience as the Sufferer, [bearing the cross daily after Him], growing thus into ever truer conformity to His willingness to die. And all this, with the longing to attain [in the path of holiness], at any cost [of self-surrender], to the resurrection of glory [in Him who died to rise again].

Philippians 3:12-16. [Meantime—there is reason why he should say it—] he is not yet at the goal, not yet perfected. He is pressing on, aiming to grasp that crown which Christ who grasped him [in conversion] converted him that he might grasp. [Others may say of themselves and their perfection what they will]; Paul does not think of himself as having grasped that crown. His concentrated purpose is to renounce all complacency in attainment, and to seek for ever higher things, and to take for his aim nothing short of that eternal glory which is the Divine Arbiter’s award at the close of that life of heavenly conversion which is ours in Christ. Are any of us perfect Christians, then? [Christians mature and ideal?] Let us shew it [among other things] by such humbling views [of our personal imperfection, and of the greatness of our goal]. Should their views in this matter still differ from his own, he leaves them with calmness to the sure processes of God’s enlightening grace [in experience]. Only, up to present light and knowledge, let harmony of conviction, and so of behaviour and action, be cherished by Apostle and converts alike.

Philippians 3:17-21. [Nay, let him solemnly appeal to them to] become imitators, one and all, of his principles and practice, and to take for their visible models those among them who manifestly lived those principles out. For there were many [so-called Christians abroad whose life was a terrible and ensnaring travesty of the Gospel of free grace, antinomian claimants of a position in Christ lifted above the holy moral law, men] of whom he often warned them at Philippi, and warns them now, even with tears [over their own ruin and over the deadly mischief they do]. These men are the real enemies of the Cross [which won our pardon, but only that we might be holy]. Their end [in such a path] is eternal perdition. Their God is [not He with whom they claim special intimacy but] their own sensual appetites. They boast [of their insight and experience], but their lofty claims are their deepest disgrace. Their interests and ideas, [pretending to soar above the skies], are really “of the earth, earthy.” [Such teachings, and lives, are utterly alien to those of Paul and his true followers.] The seat and centre of their life is in heaven, whose citizens they are [free of its privileges, “obliged by its nobility”]. And from heaven they are looking, [in a life governed by that look,] for the Lord Jesus Christ, as Saviour [of body as well as of soul]. He shall transfigure the body which now abases and encumbers us into true and eternal likeness to the Body He now wears upon the throne. [Do they ask, how can this be?] It is a possibility measured by His ability to subdue to His will, and to His purposes, nothing less than all things.

CH. Philippians 4:1-7. [With such a present, and such a future], let the dear and sorely missed Philippians [cleanse themselves from all pollution, and to that end] let them keep close to Christ, or rather dwell in Christ. [Let them in particular renounce the spirit of self; and here] he entreats two Christian women, Euodia and Syntyche, to renounce their differences. And let his truehearted yoke-fellow [Epaphroditus?] help these two persons to a loving reconciliation, remembering how they toiled and strove for the cause of Christ, by Paul’s side, [in the old days]; and let Clement, and Paul’s other fellow-labourers, whose names the Lord has marked for heaven, do the like kind service [for Euodia and Syntyche]. Let all rejoice always in the Lord; yes, let them indeed rejoice in Him! Let all around them find them self-forgetful, void of self; the Lord’s [remembered] presence is the way to this. Let them be anxious in no circumstance; everything must be taken at once to God in prayer, with thanksgiving. Then the peace of God, [the glad tranquillity caused by His presence and rule in the heart], shall encircle as with walls their inner world and its actings, as they dwell in Christ.

Philippians 4:8-9. In conclusion, let their minds, [thus shielded, not lie idle, but] be occupied with all that is true, honourable, right, pure, amiable; with all that man truly calls virtue, all that has the praise of his conscience.

And once more, let them practise the principles they have learned of Paul, and seen exemplified in him. So the God of peace, [peace in the soul and in the community], shall be with them.

Philippians 4:10-20. [He must not close without loving thanks for a gift of money, for himself and his work, received lately from them.] It has given him holy joy to find that their thought about him has burst into life and fruit again after an interval. Not that they had ever forgotten him; but for some time (he knows) no means of communication had been found. Not, again, that he has been feeling any painful deficiency; for himself, he has learned the lesson of independence of circumstances. He understands the art of meeting poverty and plenty [in equal peace]. He has been let into the secret how to live so. [And the secret is—Jesus Christ.] In living union with Him and His spiritual power, Paul can meet every incident of the will of God, [to bear it, or to do it]. Not that he does not warmly feel their loving participation [by this gift] in his trials. But [there was no need of this particular gift to assure him of their affection]; they will remember that when he first evangelized Macedonia, and was now leaving it, they were the only Church which aided him with money; more such gifts than one reached him even when he was no further off than Thessalonica. Do not let them think that he is hunting for their money [by such reminiscences]; no, [so far as he welcomes their money at all] it is because such gifts are deposits bearing rich interest of blessing for the givers. But he has indeed been supplied, and over-supplied, in this contribution now sent by Epaphroditus’ hands; this sweet incense from the altar [of self-sacrificing love to Christ in His servant]. For himself, [he can send back no material present, but] his God shall supply their every need, out of the wealth of eternal love and power, lodged for the saints in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be the glory for ever. Amen.

Philippians 4:21-23. Let them greet individually from him every Christian of their number. The Christians associated with him greet them. So do all the Roman believers, especially those connected with the Imperial household.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with their inmost being.


(from Bishop Lightfoot’s Biblical Essays, p. 224).



1. Second Missionary Journey

1 and 2



52, 53

Christ the Judge


The Tribunal

2. Third Missionary Journey

1 and 2




57, 58

Christ the Redeemer


The Cross

3. First Roman Captivity





62, 63

Christ the Word


The Throne

4. After the Release, including the second Roman Captivity

1 Timothy


2 Timothy

67, 68

Church Organization


The Congregation

Συνεχως ακουων αναγινωσκομενων των επιστολων του μακαριου Παυλου. χαιρω της σαλπιγγος απολαυων της πνευματικης. και θερμαινομαι τωι ποθωι την εμοι φιλην επιγινωσκων φωνην. εντευθεν τα μυρια εφυη κακα, απο της των γραφων αγνοιας· εντευθεν η πολλη των αιρεσεων εβλαστησε λυμη, εντευθεν οι ημελημενοι Βιοι, εντευθεν οι ακερδεις πονοι.CharacteristicsDates

S. CHRYSOSTOMUS, Proœm. in Ep. ad Romanos.


A. St Paul’s Residence at Rome (Introd. Ch. 1)

B. “Saints and faithful brethren” (Ch. Philippians 1:1)

C. Bishops and Deacons (Ch. Philippians 1:1)

D. Ebionite Christology (Ch. Philippians 1:15)

E. Christology and Christianity (Ch. Philippians 2:5)

F. Robert Hall on Philippians 2:5-8.—Baur’s theory (Ch. Philippians 2:6)

G. The ‘Kenosis’ of the Son of God (Ch. Philippians 2:7)

H. The Worship paid to Jesus Christ (Ch. Philippians 2:9)

I. “Holding forth the Word of Life” (Ch. Philippians 2:16)

K. “The Righteousness which is of God by Faith” (Ch. Philippians 3:9)

L. St Paul’s use of Athletic Metaphors (Ch. Philippians 2:16, Philippians 3:14)

M. Ad. Monod on St Paul’s Tears (Ch. Philippians 3:18)

N. Family Affection of Christianity (Ch. Philippians 4:1)

O. Philippi and the Epistle (Ch. Philippians 4:18)


(Introduction, Ch. 1)

“ST PAUL arrived in Rome, from Melita, in the spring of A.D. 61, probably early in March. There he spent ‘two full years’ (Acts 28:30), at the close of which, as we have good reason to believe, he was released.

“In the long delay before his trial[7] he was of course in custody; but this was comparatively lenient. He occupied lodgings of his own (Acts 28:16; Acts 28:23; Acts 28:30), probably a storey or flat in one of the lofty houses common in Rome. It is impossible to determine for certain where in the City this lodging was, but it is likely that it was either in or near the great Camp of the Prætorians, or Imperial Guard, outside the Colline Gate, just N.E. of the City[8]. In this abode the Apostle was attached day and night by a light coupling-chain to a Prætorian sentinel, but was as free, apparently, to invite and maintain general intercourse as if he had been merely confined by illness.

“The company actually found in his rooms at different times was very various. His first visitors (indeed they must have been the providers of his lodging) would be the Roman Christians, including all, or many, of the saints named in a passage (Romans 16) written only a very few years before. Then came the representatives of the Jewish community (Acts 28:17; Acts 28:23), but apparently never to return, as such, after the long day of discussion to which they were first invited. Then from time to time would come Christian brethren, envoys from distant Churches, or personal friends; Epaphroditus from Philippi, Aristarchus from Thessalonica, Tychicus from Ephesus, Epaphras from Colossæ, John Mark, Demas, Jesus Justus. Luke, the beloved physician, was present perhaps always, and Timotheus, the Apostle’s spiritual son, very frequently. One other memorable name occurs, Onesimus, the fugitive Colossian slave, whose story, indicated in the Epistle to Phlippians, is at once a striking evidence of the perfect liberty of access to the prisoner granted to anyone and everyone, and a beautiful illustration both of the character of St Paul and the transfiguring power and righteous principles of the Gospel.

“No doubt the visitors to this obscure but holy lodging were far more miscellaneous than even this list suggests. Through the successive Prætorian sentinels some knowledge of the character and message of the prisoner would be always passing out. The right interpretation of Philippians 1:13[9] is, beyond reasonable doubt, that the true account of Paul’s imprisonment came to be ‘known in the Prætorian regiments, and generally among people around’; and Philippians 4:22 indicates that a body of earnest and affectionate converts had arisen among the population of slaves and freedmen attached to the Palace of Nero. And the wording of that passage suggests that such Christians found a welcome meeting place in the rooms of the Apostle; doubtless for frequent worship, doubtless also for direct instruction, and for the blessed enjoyments of the family affection of the Gospel. Meanwhile (Philippians 1:15-16) there was a section of the Roman Christian community, probably the disciples infected with the prejudices of the Pharisaic party (see Acts 15, &c.), who, with very few exceptions (see Colossians 4:11 and notes), took sooner or later a position of trying antagonism to St Paul; a trial over which he triumphed in the deep peace of Christ.

“It is an interesting possibility, not to say probability, that from time to time the lodging was visited by inquirers of intellectual fame or distinguished rank. Ancient Christian tradition[10] actually makes the renowned Stoic writer, L. Annæus Seneca, tutor and counsellor of Nero, a convert of St Paul’s; and one phase of the legend was the fabrication, within the first four centuries, of a correspondence between the two. It is quite certain that Seneca was never a Christian, though his language is full of startling superficial parallels to that of the N.T., and most full in his latest writings. But it is at least very likely that he heard, through his many channels of information, of St Paul’s existence and presence, and that he was intellectually interested in his teaching; and it is quite possible that he cared to visit him. It is not improbable, surely, that Seneca’s brother Gallio (Acts 18:12) may have described St Paul, however passingly, in a letter; for Gallio’s religious indifference may quite well have consisted with a strong personal impression made on him by St Paul’s bearing. Festus himself was little interested in the Gospel, or at least took care to seem so, and yet was deeply impressed by the personnel of the Apostle. And, again, the Prefect of the Imperial Guard, A.D. 61, was Afranius Burrus, Seneca’s intimate colleague as counsellor to Nero, and it is at least possible that he had received from Festus a more than commonplace description of the prisoner consigned to him[11].

“Bp Lightfoot, in his Essay, ‘St Paul and Seneca’ (Philippians, pp. 270, &c.), thinks it possible to trace in some of the Epistles of the Captivity a Christian adaptation of Stoic ideas. The Stoic, for example, made much of the individual’s membership in the great Body of the Universe, and citizenship in its great City. The connexion suggested is interesting, and it falls quite within the methods of Divine inspiration that materials of Scripture imagery should be collected from a secular region. But the language of St Paul about the Mystical Body, in the Ephesian Epistle particularly, reads far more like a direct revelation than like an adaptation; and it evidently deals with a truth which is already, in its substance, perfectly familiar to the readers[12].

“Other conspicuous personages of Roman society at the time have been reckoned by tradition among the chamber-converts of St Paul, among them the poet Lucan and the Stoic philosopher Epictetus[13]. But there is absolutely no evidence for these assertions. It is interesting and suggestive, on the other hand, to recall one almost certain case of conversion about this time within the highest Roman aristocracy. Pomponia Græcina, wife of Plautius the conqueror of Britain, was accused (A.D. 57, probably), of ‘foreign superstition,’ and tried by her husband as domestic judge. He acquitted her. But the deep and solemn seclusion of her life (a seclusion begun A.D. 44, when her friend the princess Julia was put to death, and continued unbroken till her own death, about A.D. 84), taken in connexion with the charge, as in all likelihood it was, of Christianity, ‘suggests that, shunning society, she sought consolation in the duties and hopes of the Gospel[14],’ leaving for ever the splendour and temptations of the world of Rome. She was not a convert, obviously, of St Paul’s; but her case suggests the possibility of other similar cases.”

Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (in Cambridge Bible for Schools), Introduction, pp. 16–19.


“IT is universally admitted … that Scripture makes use of presumptive or hypothetical language.… It is generally allowed that when all Christians are addressed in the New Testament as ‘saints,’ ‘dead to sin,’ ‘alive unto God,’ ‘risen with Christ,’ ‘having their conversation in heaven,’ and in other like modes, they are addressed so hypothetically, and not to express the literal fact that all the individuals so addressed were of this character; which would not have been true.… Some divines have indeed preferred as a theological arrangement a secondary sense of [such terms] to the hypothetical application of it in its true sense. But what is this secondary sense when we examine it? It is itself no more than the true sense hypothetically applied.… Divines have … maintained a Scriptural secondary sense of the term ‘saint,’ as ‘saint by outward vocation and charitable presumption’ (Pearson on the Creed, Art. IX.); but this is in very terms only the real sense of the term applied hypothetically.”

J. B. MOZLEY: Review of Baptismal Controversy, p. 74 (ed. 1862).

C. BISHOPS AND DEACONS. (CH. Philippians 1:1)

THESE words have suggested to Bp Lightfoot an Essay on the rise, development and character of the Christian Ministry, appended to his Commentary on the Epistle (pp. 189–269), and now included also in his Biblical Essays. The Essay is in fact a treatise, of the greatest value, calling for the careful and repeated study of every reader to whom it is accessible. Along with it may be usefully studied a paper on the Christian Ministry in The Expositor for July, 1887, by the Rev. G. Salmon, D. D., now Provost of Trinity College, Dublin.

All we do here is to discuss briefly the two official titles of the Philippian ministry, and to add a few words on the Christian Ministry in general.

Bishops, ἐπίσκοποι, i.e. Overseers. The word occurs here, and Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7; besides 1 Peter 2:25, where it is used of our Lord. The cognate noun, ἐπισκοπή, occurs Acts 1:20 (in a quotation from the O.T.); 1 Timothy 3:1; and in three other places not in point. The cognate verb, ἐπισκοπεῖν, occurs Hebrews 12:15 (in a connexion not in point); 1 Peter 5:2.

On examination of these passages it appears that within the lifetime of SS. Peter and Paul there existed, at least very widely, a normal order of Church-officers called Episcopi, Superintendents. They were charged no doubt with many varied duties, some probably semi-secular. But above all they had spiritual oversight of the flock. They were appointed not by mere popular vote, certainly not by self-designation, but in some special sense “by the Holy Ghost” (Acts 20:28). This phrase may perhaps be illustrated by the mode of appointment of the “Seven” (Acts 6:3), who were presented by the Church to the Apostles, for confirmatory ordination, as men already (among other marks of fitness) “full of the Holy Ghost.”

The ἐπίσκοπος was evidently not an official comparatively rare; there were more ἐπίσκοποι than one in the not very large community of Philippi.

Meanwhile we find another designation of Church-officers who are evidently in the same way shepherds and leaders of the flock; πρεσβύτεροι, Elders. They are mentioned first, without comment, at the time of the martyrdom of James the Great. See Acts 11:30; Acts 14:23; Acts 15:2; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:22-23; Acts 16:4; Acts 20:17; Acts 21:18; 1 Timothy 5:1; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Timothy 5:19; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1 (and perhaps 5). See also 2 John 1:1; 3 John 1:1. These elders appear Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; as “constituted” in local congregations by an Apostle, or by his immediate delegate.

It would appear that the N.T. ἐπίσκοπος and πρεσβύτερος are in fact the same official under differing designations; ἐπίσκοπος, a term borrowed mainly from the Gentiles, with whom it signified a superintending commissioner; πρεσβύτερος, from the “Eldership” of the Jews. This appears from Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28, where St Paul, addressing the Ephesian “elders,” says that they have been appointed “bishops” of the flock. In the Pastoral Epistles it is similarly plain that the titles coincide. See also 1 Peter 5:1-2, in the Greek.

Whether both titles were from the first in use everywhere we cannot be sure. But it is not improbable. In the very earliest post-apostolic writings we find “presbyters” at Corinth (Clem. Rom. to the Corinthians, i. cc. 42, 44, but also references to ἐπίσκοποι, ἐπισκοπή) and “bishops” (with “deacons,” as in Philippians 1:1) in the further East (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, c. 15).

We trace the same spiritual officials under more general designations, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17; and perhaps 1 Corinthians 12:28 (κυβερνήσεις), and Ephesians 4:11 (ποιμένες καὶ διδάσκαλοι).

Deacons, διάκονοι, i.e. Workers. The title does not occur in the Acts, nor anywhere earlier than this Epistle, except Romans 16:1, where Phœbe is called a διάκονος of the church at Cenchreæ[15]. Here only and in 1 Timothy 3:8; 1 Timothy 3:12, is the word plainly used of a whole ministerial order. But in Acts 6. we find described the institution of an office which in all likelihood was the diaconate. The functions of the Seven are just those which have been ever since in history, even till now, assigned to deacons. And tradition, from cent. ii. onwards, is quite unanimous in calling the Seven by that title.

Deacons are very possibly indicated by the word ἀντιλήψεις in 1 Corinthians 12:28.

The deacon thus appears to have been primarily the officer ordained to deal with the temporal needs of the congregation. But he was assumed to be a “spiritual man,” and he was capable of direct commissioned spiritual work.

It thus appears then that during the lifetime of SS. Peter and Paul the word ἐπίσκοπος did not yet designate a minister presiding over and ruling other ministers; a “bishop” in the later and present sense. The ἐπίσκοπος was an “overseer” of not the shepherds but simply the flock, and might be (as at Philippi) one of several such in the same place.

This fact, however, leaves quite open the question whether such a presiding ministry, however designated at first, did exist in apostolic times and under apostolic sanction. That it did so may be inferred from the following evidence, very briefly stated.

It is certain that by the close of cent. ii. a definite presidential “episcopacy” (to which the word ἐπίσκοπος was then already appropriated, seemingly without the knowledge that it had once been otherwise) appears everywhere in the Church. As early probably as A.D. 110 we find it, in the Epistles of St Ignatius, a prominent and important fact of Church life, at least in the large circle of Churches with which Ignatius corresponded[16]. Later Church history presents us with the same constitution, though occasionally details of system vary[17], and the conceptions of function and power were highly developed, not always legitimately. Now between Ignatius and St John, and even St Paul, the interval is not great; 30 or 50 years at the most. It seems, to say the least, unlikely that so large a Church institution, over whose rise we have no clear trace of controversy or opposition, should have arisen quite out of connexion with apostolic precedent. Such precedent we find in the N.T., (a) in the presidency of Apostles during their lifetime, though strictly speaking their unique office had no “successors”; (b) in the presidency of their immediate delegates or commissioners (perhaps appointed only pro tempore), as Timothy and Titus; (c) in the presidency of St James the Lord’s Brother in the mother-church of Christendom; a presidency more akin to later episcopacy than anything else in the N.T.

We find further that all early history points to Asia Minor as the scene of the fullest development of primitive episcopacy, and it consistently indicates St John, at Ephesus, as in a sense its fountainhead. It is at least possible that St John, when he finally took up his abode in Asia, originated or developed there the régime he had known so well at Jerusalem.

Meanwhile there is reason to think that the episcopate, in this latter sense, rather grew out of the presbyterate than otherwise. The primeval bishop was primus inter pares. He was not so much one of another order as the first of his order, for special purposes of government and ministration. Such, even cent. v., is St Jerome’s statement of the theory. And St Jerome regards the bishop as being what he is not by direct Divine institution, but by custom of the Church.

Not till late cent. ii. do we find the sacerdotal[18] idea familiarly attached to the Christian ministry, and not till cent. iii. the age of Cyprian, do we find the formidable theory developed that the bishop is the channel of grace to the lower clergy and to the people.

On the whole, the indications of the N. T. and of the next earliest records confirm the statement of the Preface to the English Ordinal that “from the Apostles’ time there have been these orders of ministers in Christ’s Church, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.” On the other hand, having regard to the essentially and sublimely spiritual character of the Church in its true idea, and to the revealed immediate union of each member with the Head, by faith, we are not authorized to regard even apostolic organization as a matter of the first order in such a sense as that we should look on a duly ordained ministry as the indispensable channel of grace, or should venture to unchurch Christian communities, holding the apostolic faith concerning God in Christ, but differently organized from what we believe to be on the whole the apostolic model[19]. On the other hand, no thoughtful Christian will wish to forget the sacred obligations and benefits of external harmony and unity of organization, things meant to yield only to the yet greater claims of the highest spiritual truth.

D. EBIONITE CHRISTOLOGY. (CH. Philippians 1:15)

THE allusion in our note to “lowered and distorted views” of the Person of our Lord on the part of later Judaizers more or less Christian, has regard mainly to Ebionism, a heresy first named by Irenæus (cent. ii.) but which seems to have been the direct descendant of the school which specially opposed St Paul. It lingered on till cent. v.

It appears to have had two phases; the Pharisaic and the Essene. As regards the doctrine of Christ’s Person, the Pharisaic Ebionites held that Jesus was born in the ordinary course of nature, but that at His Baptism He was “anointed by election, and became Christ” (Justin Martyr, Dial., c. xlix.); receiving power to fulfil His mission as Messiah, but still remaining man. He had neither pre-existence nor Divinity. The Essene Ebionites, who were in fact Gnostics, held (at least in many instances) that Christ was a super-angelic created Spirit, incarnate at many successive periods in various men (for instance, in Adam), and finally in Jesus. At what point in the existence of Jesus the Christ entered into union with Him was not defined.

See Smith’s Dict. of Christian Biography, &c., art. Ebionism.


“A CHRISTIANITY without Christ is no Christianity; and a Christ not Divine is one other than the Christ on whom the souls of Christians have habitually fed. What virtue, what piety, have existed outside of Christianity, is a question totally distinct. But to hold that, since the great controversy of the early time was wound up at Chalcedon, the question of our Lord’s Divinity has generated all the storms of the Christian atmosphere, would be simply an historical untruth.

“Christianity … produced a type of character wholly new to the Roman world, and it fundamentally altered the laws and institutions, the tone, temper and tradition of that world. For example, it changed profoundly the relation of the poor to the rich … It abolished slavery, and a multitude of other horrors. It restored the position of woman in society. It made peace, instead of war, the normal and presumed relation between human societies. It exhibited life as a discipline … in all its parts, and changed essentially the place and function of suffering in human experience … All this has been done not by eclectic and arbitrary fancies, but by the creed of the Homoousion, in which the philosophy of modern times sometimes appears to find a favourite theme of ridicule. The whole fabric, social as well as personal, rests on the new type of character which the Gospel brought into life and action.”

W. E. GLADSTONE (‘Nineteenth Century,’ May 1888; pp. 780–784).

F. ROBERT HALL ON Philippians 2:5-8. BAUR’S THEORY. (CH. Philippians 2:6)

THE Rev. Robert Hall (1764–1831), one of the greatest of Christian preachers, was in early life much influenced by the Socinian theology. His later testimony to a true Christology is the more remarkable. The following extract is from a sermon “preached at the (Baptist) Chapel in Dean Street, Southwark, June 27, 1813” (Works, ed. 1833; vol. vi., p. 112):

“He was found in fashion as a man: it was a wonderful discovery, an astonishing spectacle in the view of angels, that He who was in the form of God, and adored from eternity, should be made in fashion as a man. But why is it not said that He WAS a man? For the same reason that the Apostle wishes to dwell upon the appearance of our Saviour, not as excluding the reality, but as exemplifying His condescension. His being in the form of God did not prove that He was not God, but rather that He was God, and entitled to supreme honour. So, His assuming the form of a servant and being in the likeness of man, does not prove that He was not man, but, on the contrary, includes it; at the same time including a manifestation of Himself, agreeably to His design of purchasing the salvation of His people, and dying for the sins of the world, by sacrificing Himself upon the Cross.”

BAUR (Paulus, pp. 458–464) goes at length into the Christological passage of our Epistle, and actually contends for the view that it is written by one who had before him the developed Gnosticism of cent. ii., and was not uninfluenced by it. In the words of Philippians 2:6, he finds a consciousness of the Gnostic teaching about the Æon Sophia, striving for an absolute union with the absolute being of the Unknowable Supreme; and again about the Æons in general, striving similarly to “grasp” the πλήρωμα of Absolute Being and discovering only the more deeply in their effort this κένωμα of their own relativity and dependence.

The best refutation of such expositions is the repeated perusal of the Epistle itself, with its noon-day practicality of precept and purity of affections, and not least its high language (ch. 3) about the sanctity of the body—an idea wholly foreign to the Gnostic sphere of thought. As regards this last point, it is true that Schrader, a critic earlier than Baur (see Alford, N.T. III. p. 27), supposed the passage Philippians 3:1 to Philippians 4:9 to be an interpolation. But, not to speak of the total absence of any historical or documentary support for such a theory, the careful reader will find in that section just those minute touches of harmony with the rest of the Epistle, e.g. in the indicated need of internal union at Philippi, which are the surest signs of homogeneity.

G. THE ‘KENOSIS’ OF THE SON OF GOD. (CH. Philippians 2:7)

“IF we seek the true import of the word Kenosis, as applied to our Incarnate Lord, the Philippian passage (Philippians 2:7), its original source for us, must be consulted. And it seems to guide us in a line exactly opposite to that which would make fallibility an element in our Lord’s Humiliation. Ἐκένωσεν ἑαυτὸν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών. If we interpret the Greek by well recognised facts of idiom, we should take the aorist verb, ἐκένωσεν, and the aorist participle, λαβών, as conspiring to give us, from two sides, one idea. ‘He made Himself void,’ not anyhow, but thus—‘taking Bondservant’s form.’ The ‘making void’ was in fact just this—the ‘taking.’ It was—the assumption of the creaturely Nature, the becoming, in Augustine’s words (ad Dardanum), ‘Creature, as Man’ (quoad hominem, creatura); and the assumption of it in just this respect, that in it, and by the fact of it, He became δοῦλος, Bondservant. Now what is the implication of that unique, that absolute, unreserved, unhindered Bondservice of the Incarnate Son? What does it say to us about His capacity to do the Father’s work, and convey His mind and message? The absolute subjection of the Perfect Bondservant gives us an absolute warrant—not of the precariousness but of the perfection of His deliverance of His commission from His Father and Master. ‘He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.’

“His own servant Paul was one day to claim complete authority as messenger because of the absoluteness of his slavery to the Lord. ‘Let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the στίγματα, the brands, of the Master, Jesus.’ The supreme Bondservant, the Bearer of the Stigmata of the Cross, has He not as such the right to claim our unreserved, our worshipping silence, when He speaks? He, in perfect relation to His Sender, perfectly conveys His Sender’s mind. He says nothing otherwise than as His Sender bids Him say it. ‘He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God.’ ”

From a University Sermon by the Editor.


“UPON this worship of Jesus Christ as we meet it in the apostolical age, [let us observe, that] it cannot be accounted for, and so set aside, as being part of an indiscriminating cultus of heavenly or supernatural beings in general. Such a cultus finds no place in the New Testament, except when it, or something very much resembling it, is expressly discountenanced. By the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ the New Testament reaffirms the Sinaitic law which restricts worship to the Lord God Himself. St Peter will not sanction the self-prostrations of the grateful Cornelius lest Cornelius should think of him as more than human.… When St John fell at the feet of the angel in the Apocalypse … he was peremptorily checked on the ground that the angel too was only his fellow-slave, and that God was the one true Object of worship.… Certainly the New Testament does teach that we Christians have close communion with the blessed angels and with the sainted dead.… But the worship claimed for, and accepted by, and paid to, Jesus, stands out in the New Testament in the sharpest relief … not softened or shaded off by any instances of an inferior homage paid, whether legitimately or not, to created beings. We do not meet with any clear distinction between a primary and secondary worship, by which the force of the argument might have been more or less seriously weakened.”

LIDDON, Bampton Lectures, Lect. VII.

I. “HOLDING FORTH THE WORD OF LIFE.” (CH. Philippians 2:16)

THE late Dr F. Field (Otium Norvicense, pars tertia, p. 118) has an interesting note on λόγον ζωῆς ἐπέχοντες. He points out that ἐπέχειν where we might expect προσέχειν is a usage unexampled, or at best supported by remote examples. And he adduces from later Greek authors examples (collected by Wetstein) of the phrase λόγον ἐπέχειν τινός in the sense of “correspond to,” “play the part of.” E.g. Diogenes Laertius, VII. 155, about a theory of the universe: μέση ἡ γῆ, κέντρου λόγον ἐπέχουσα, “doing duty as a centre”; St Basil, Hexaëmeron IX. (tom. i. p. 83 E), κακὸν δὲ πᾶν ἀρρωστία ψυχῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀρετὴ λόγον ὑγιείας ἐπέχει, “all evil is a sickness of the soul; virtue is as it were its health.” He compares the better-known phrases, τάξιν or τόπον ἐπέχειν τινός: e.g. Theodoret (tom. III. p. 489), ἡ εὐαγγελικὴ πολιτεία σώματος ἐπέχει τάξιν, ὁ δὲ νόμος σκιᾶς. And he quotes the Syriac Peshitto of this passage of Philippians, which is, “to whom ye are in place of life.” His own rendering of the passage would be, “In the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, being (to it) in the stead of life.” “To the last clause a marginal note might be added: ‘Gr., holding the analogy of life.’ ”

The suggestion is important, and from a source which must always command attention. Yet the quotation from Homer, in the notes on ch. Philippians 2:16, still seems on review pertinent, and need not be called “remote,” coming from the great Poem. With some hesitation we recommend adherence to the more ordinary rendering.


THE following extract from the Editor’s running Commentary on Romans (Expositor’s Bible), p. 32 (on Romans 1:17), may be appended to the remarks in the notes above:

“This message of power unfolds first, at its foundation, in its front, ‘the Righteousness of God,’ not first His Love, but ‘His Righteousness.’ Seven times elsewhere in the (Roman) Epistle comes this phrase (Romans 3:5; Romans 3:21-23; Romans 3:26; Romans 10:3 twice); rich materials for ascertaining its meaning in the spiritual dialect of St Paul. Out of these passages, Romans 3:26 gives us the key. There ‘the righteousness of God,’ seen as it were in action, ascertained by its effects, is that which secures ‘that He shall be just, and the Justifier of the man who belongs to faith in Jesus.’ It is that which makes possible the mighty paradox that the Holy One, eternally truthful, eternally rightful, infinitely ‘law-abiding’ in His jealousy for that Law which is in fact His Nature expressing itself in precept, nevertheless can and does say to man, in his guilt and forfeit, ‘I, thy Judge, lawfully acquit thee, lawfully accept thee, lawfully embrace thee.’ … Thus it stands practically equivalent to God’s way of justifying the ungodly, His method for liberating His love while He magnifies His law. In effect, not as a translation but as an explanation, God’s Righteousness is God’s Justification.

“Then again we note the emphasis and the repetition here of the thought of faith.… Here, if anywhere, we shall find ample commentary in the (Roman) Epistle. Only let us remember from the first that … we shall see “faith” used in its natural and human sense; we shall find that it means personal reliance.… It is in this sense that our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Gospels, invariably uses the word. For this is its human sense, its sense in the street and the market; and the Lord, the Man of men, uses the dialect of His race. Faith, infinitely wonderful … from some points of view, is the simplest thing in the world from others. That sinners … should be brought so to see their Judge’s heart as to take His word of peace to mean what it says, is miracle. But that they should trust His word, having seen His heart, is nature—illuminated and led by grace, but nature still.… (Faith) is not a faculty for mystical intuitions. It is our taking the Trustworthy at His word.… Hence the overwhelming prominence of faith in the Gospel. It is the correlative of the overwhelming … prominence of Jesus Christ. Christ is all. Faith is man’s acceptance of Him as such. ‘Justification by Faith’ is not acceptance because faith is … a merit … a virtue. It is acceptance because of Jesus Christ, whom man, dropping all other hopes, receives.”

See this last point admirably explained by Hooker, A Disc. of Justification, § 31. And see Julius Hare, The Victory of Faith [1847], p. 21:

“It was with the fullest right that Luther and Melanchthon, when the true idea of Faith and of its power was reasserted at the Reformation, were anxious to urge again and again that faith is trust, that faith signifies trust: fides est fiducia; fides significat fiduciam. This was only to assert that the faith required in the New Testament is a feeling of the same kind with the trust enjoined in the Old Testament; as is proved—to take a single instance—by the passage in the Gospels, where the disciples are frightened by the tempest, while their Master is asleep …, and where … He rebukes them for their want of faith (Matthew 8:26), that is … for their want of confidence in Him.”

The Editor ventures to refer to his Tract, Justifying Righteousness (Seeley, 1885), for a discussion in some detail, with quotations.

IN his constant illustration of the Christian life by the requirements and rewards of the Greek athletic contests, St Paul at once displays his own Hellenic sympathies and appeals to the noblest enthusiasm of the national life of his Greek converts. The Olympian games were closely connected with all that was most precious in the contribution made by Greece to the providential education of the world. Once in every four years the perpetually quarrelling states of the Panhellenic union proclaimed a solemn armistice for a single summer month, and met on the sacred plain of Olympia in a brotherly contest, city against city as well as man against man, for the highest glory that life could offer. Nothing might take precedence of this supreme festival. Even the sending of forces to support the heroes of Thermopylæ[21] must wait till the sacred month was over. Round this centre of Greek life religion, literature and art ranged themselves spontaneously in their most splendid forms. Historians read their histories to the assembled multitudes; poets proclaimed the glories of the successful champions, and sculptors perpetuated their noble forms. Time for the next four years was marked by the name of the victor in the foot-race, who though he carried off but a crown of wild olive returned to his city to receive substantial honours for the remainder of his days.

Something may be usefully noted here as to the training, the testing of candidates, and the actual contest. The training extended over ten months. A strict diet was enforced (ἀναγκοφαγία). The length and severity of this preparatory discipline led to a professionalism which is sharply criticized by several Greek writers. Athletes as such became marked off from ordinary competitors. Euripides[22] denounces the uselessness of the mere athlete’s life, and Galen[23] (cent. 2) its brutalizing tendency. Extreme exertion, even flagellations, inordinate overfeeding, and as a consequence excessive sleep—these were the exaggerations which accompanied the athletics of a baser period. Yet a certain moral witness was given by the necessity of abstinence from unchaste lusts: and the discipline and self-control demanded by these labours were in striking contrast with the lightness and carelessness which characterized so much of the Greek citizen’s life.

A month before the contest all the candidates were tested by the Hellanodicæ. Every competitor must be able to shew that he was a pure Greek, and that he had undergone the regular training. He must further declare his determination to abide by the customary rules, and take a solemn oath to this effect.

Of the contest itself two forms only need be noticed here. The Foot-race, in the Stadium, was the central event of the Festival; the Olympiad was marked by the name of the winner. The Herald proclaimed:

“Foot by foot

To the foot-line put.”

The starting-rope (ὕσπληξ), the race, the goal, the revel, the hymn—all these are familiar from the splendid verse of Pindar. And it is to this race that St Paul most frequently refers. But the severer contest of the Boxing-match, sometimes even fatal in its issue, also finds a place in his vocabulary of illustration. The Boxer’s hands and arms were furnished with the dangerous cestus of twisted leather loaded with metal[24]. In training the competitors would practise even upon “dummies,” or upon nothing, “striking the air”: but their crushed ears attested more serious and painful preparations[25].

The following passages in St Paul present more or less distinctly athletic metaphors. The passing character of the allusion in some cases serves to shew how familiar, and how instinctive, was the illustration.—The words printed in thicker type recall, often with unmistakable intention, sometimes perhaps half unconsciously, the phraseology of the games.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-4. αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε, ἀδελφοί, τὴν εἴσοδον ἡμῶν τὴν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ὅτι οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν ἀλλὰ προπαθόντες καὶ ὑβρισθέντεςἐν Φιλίπποις ἐπαρρησιασάμεθαλαλῆσαι πρὸς ὑμᾶςἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνικαθὼς δεδοκιμάσμεθα ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦοὕτω λαλοῦμενὡςἀρέσκοντεςτῷ θεῷ τῷ δοκιμάζοντι τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν.

1 Thessalonians 2:18-19. ἠθελήσαμεν ἐλθεῖνἀλλὰ ἐνέκοψεν ἡμᾶς ὁ Σατανᾶς. τίς γὰρ ἡμῶνστέφανος καυχήσεως; ἠ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς κτλ.;

2 Thessalonians 3:1. ἵνα ὁ λόγος τοῦ Κυρίου τρέχῃ καὶ δοξάζηται.

Galatians 2:2. μή πως εἰς κενὸν τρέχω ἢ ἔδραμον.

Galatians 5:7. ἐτρέχετε καλῶς· τίς ὑμᾶς ἐνέκοψεν;

Philippians 1:27; Philippians 1:30. συναθλοῦντεςτὸν αὐτὸν ἀγῶνα ἔχοντες.

Philippians 2:16. οὐκ εἰς κενὸν ἔδραμον οὐδὲ εἰς κενὸν ἐκοπίασα.

Philippians 3:12; Philippians 3:14. οὐχ ὅτι ἤδη ἔλαβονδιώκω δέ, εἰ καὶ καταλάβωτὰ μὲν ὀπίσω ἐπιλανθανόμενος τοῖς δὲ ἔμπροσθεν ἐπεκτεινόμενος κατὰ σκοπὸν διώκω εἰς τὸ βραβεῖον κτλ.

Colossians 1:29; Colossians 2:1. εἰς ὃ καὶ κοπιῶ ἀγωνιζόμενοςθέλω γὰρ ὑμᾶς εἰδέναι ἡλίκον ἀγῶνα ἔχω κτλ.

Colossians 2:18. μηδεὶς ὑμᾶς καταβραβευέτω.

Colossians 3:15. ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Χριστοῦ βραβευέτω κτλ.

1 Timothy 4:7-10. γύμναζε σεαυτὸν πρὸς εὐσέβειαν· ἡ γὰρ σωματικὴ γυμνασία πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶν ὠφέλιμοςεἰς τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ κοπιῶμεν καὶ ἀγωνιζόμεθα (ita leg.) κτλ.

1 Timothy 6:11-12. δίωκε δικαιοσύνηνἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶναἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆςἐνώπιον πολλῶν μαρτύρων.

Cp. Hebrews 12:1. ἔχοντες περικείμενον ἡμῖν νέφος μαρτύρων, ὄγκον ἀποθέμενοι πάνταδιʼ ὑπομονῆς τρέχωμεν τὸν προκείμενον ἡμῖν ἀγῶνα.

2 Timothy 2:5. ἐὰν δὲ καὶ ἀθλῇ τις, οὐ στεφανοῦται ἐὰν μὴ νομίμως ἀθλήσῃ.

2 Timothy 4:7-8. τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα ἠγώνισμαι, τὀν δρόμον τετέλεκαλοιπὸν ἀπόκειταί μοι ὁ τῆς δικαιοσύνης στέφανος.

Cp. Acts 13:25. ὡς ἐπλήρου ὁ Ἰωάνης τὸν δρόμον. Acts 20:24. τελειῶσαι τὸν δρόμον μου.

By far the most elaborate illustration is found in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, where almost every word receives its signification from the Greek games.

Οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι οἱ ἐν σταδίῳ τρέχοντες πάντες μὲν τρέχουσιν, εἷς δὲ λαμβάνει τὸ βραβεῖον; οὕτω τρέχετε ἵνα καταλάβητε. πᾶς δὲ ὁ ἀγωνιζόμενος πάντα ἐγκρατεύεται· ἐκεῖνοι μὲν οὖν ἵνα φθαρτὸν στέφανον λάβωσιν, ἡμεῖς δὲ ἄφθαρτον. ἐγὼ τοίνυν οὕτω τρέχω, ὡς οὐκ ἀδήλως· οὕτω πυκτεύω, ὡς οὐκ ἀέρα δέρων· ἀλλʼ ὑπωπιάζω μου τὸ σῶμα καὶ δουλαγωγῶ, μήπως ἄλλοις κηρύξας αὐτὸς ἀδόκιμος γένωμαι.

It is interesting to set beside this the splendid appeal on behalf of purity in Plato, Laws, Bk viii. p. 840. After recording instances of famous athletes and their temperance in the period of training, the Athenian stranger says:

“And yet, Cleinias, they were far worse educated in their minds than your and my fellow-citizens, and in their bodies far more lusty.

Cleinias. No doubt this fact has been often affirmed positively by the ancients of these athletes.

Ath. And shall they be willing to abstain from what is ordinarily deemed a pleasure for the sake of a victory in wrestling, running, and the like; and our young men be incapable of a similar endurance for the sake of a much nobler victory, which is the noblest of all, as from their youth upwards we will tell them?” (Jowett’s Plato, Vol. v., p. 409.)

M. AD. MONOD ON ST PAUL’S TEARS. (CH. Philippians 3:18)

“WHAT is the Gospel of St Paul? Is it but a refined deism, announcing as its whole doctrine the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, as its whole revelation the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, as its only mediator Jesus Christ living as prophet and dying as martyr? Or is this Gospel a religion unlike all others (une religion tout à part) … proclaiming a God unknown, promising an indescribable deliverance, demanding a radical change, compassionate and terrible at once, … high as heaven, deep as hell? You need not, for your answer, consult the writings of the Apostle; you have but to see him weeping at your feet.”

Saint Paul, Cinq Discours (ed. 1859), p. 62.


“WHILE the great motives of the Gospel reduce the multiplicity and confusion of the passions by their commanding force, they do, by the very same energy, expand all sensibilities; or, if we might so speak, send the pulse of life with vigour through the finer vessels of the moral system: there is far less apathy, and a far more equable consciousness in the mind, after it has admitted Christianity, than before; and, by necessary consequence, there is more individuality, because more life. Christians, therefore, while they understand each other better than other men do, possess a greater stock of sentiment to make the subject of converse, than others. The comparison of heart to heart knits heart to heart, and communicates to friendship very much that is sweet and intense.…

“So far as Christians truly exhibit the characteristics of their Lord, in spirit and conduct, a vivid emotion is enkindled in other Christian bosoms, as if the bright Original of all perfection stood dimly revealed.… The conclusion comes upon the mind … that this family resemblance … springs from a common centre, and that there exists, as its archetype, an invisible Personage, of whose glory all are, in a measure, partaking.”

ISAAC TAYLOR, of Ongar; Saturday Evening, ch. 19

O. PHILIPPI AND THE EPISTLE (CH. Philippians 4:18.) From an essay by Prof. J. Agar Beet, in The Expositor (January, 1889), I extract the closing sentences:—

“With this reply [the Epistle], a gift infinitely more precious than that he brought from Philippi, Epaphroditus starts on his homeward journey. The joy caused by his return, and the effect of this wonderful letter when first read in the Church at Philippi, are hidden from us. And we may almost say that with this letter the Church itself passes from our view. To-day, in silent meadows quiet cattle browse among the ruins which mark the site of what was once the flourishing Roman colony of Philippi, the home of the most attractive Church of the apostolic age. But the name and fame and spiritual influence of that Church will never pass. To myriads of men and women in every age and nation, the letter written in a dungeon at Rome and carried along the Egnatian Way by an obscure Christian messenger, has been a light Divine, and a cheerful guide along the most rugged paths in life. As I watch, and myself rejoice in, the brightness of that far-shining light, and glance at those silent ruins, I see fulfilled an ancient prophecy: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Philippians:4 Overview". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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