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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

Philippians 2

 

 

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Verse 10-11

ARGUMENT 5

GENUFLECTION AND CONFESSION

10. In order that, at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things upon earth, and things beneath the earth;

11. And every tongue shall confess.While the Bible is a great spiritual book, it has an exceedingly prominent literal signification, which we dare not ignore. “Feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:14) is paralyzed knee, in the language of the Holy Ghost.

How fearfully Satan’s paralysis disqualified the popular Churches to bend the knees! O how the stiff-kneed, starchy congregations insult God to his face, committing sins enough in their miserable, diabolical, so-called worship, to send them to hell. The angels in heaven not only bow the knee, but fall prostrate before God, not reluctantly, but with the greatest delight. The heathen and Roman Catholics all bow the knee. The Mohammedans pray five times a day, bowing the knee and even the head until it touches the earth. The downright insult and blasphemy of the stiff- kneed, starchy, popular Churches is alarming in the extreme. God Almighty says “Every knee shall bow of things in heaven, in earth, and beneath the earth.” Rest assured, his Word will never fail. Hence, it follows, as an irresistible sequence, that those that do not bow here, will all bow in hell. When I was a sinner, I bowed on my knees in public worship. Penitent sinners are always ready to bow the knee. The trouble with the proud, fashionable Churches is, that they are filled up with impenitent sinners. No wonder they are opposed to holiness! They are equally opposed to all the work of the Holy Ghost. If they would yield to his conviction, whole congregations would be seen bowing the knee to God. Where the Holy Ghost is obeyed, the people bow the knee in prayer, and stand up testifying to the work of God in their hearts. Thus prayer and testimony are the normal differentia of worshipping congregations.


Verses 12-16

ARGUMENT 6

GOD WORKS WITHIN, AND WE WITHOUT

12,13. —Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of his own good pleasure.God is the omnipotent agent in salvation, while we are instrumental.

We are not agents, but tools. The reason why people get tired in the Lord’s work, is because they are not dead. A dead man never gets tired. Your old hoe never gets tired, and says, “Let me rest.” Hence, we are but tools in the hands of Omnipotence, who is “working in us, both to will and to do;” i.e., he gives us the will, and bestows the needed power to do everything he requires at our hands. The hands of my watch revolve night and day without fatigue, and never wear out, because the internal machinery does all the work, and moves the hands in their constant peregrinations. So God is in me running the machinery, while my members simply move as they are moved. Hence, we have nothing to do in the plan of salvation, but ring out an eternal yes to the Holy Ghost, and govern ourselves accordingly. Jesus came to save, and does save all who let him. It is only by resisting the Spirit that people make their bed in hell.

14. Full salvation forever sweeps away all murmur and doubt.

15. In order that you may be blameless and unmixed.The Greek for “harmless” is akeraioi, from alpha, not, and keranumi; to mix. Hence, it means an unmixed experience. The sinner has nothing but depravity in his heart unmixed with grace.

The wholly sanctified have nothing but grace unmixed with sin; while the unsanctified Christians have a mixed experience of good and evil; not in the sense of a chemical combination, but like the wheat in the stack, mixed up with cheat, chaff, and straw, and needing a steam thresher to separate and prepare it for the mill. You get your crop of wheat in regeneration, but can make little use of it till sanctification eliminates the cheat, cockle, chaff, and trash; then you can take it to the Lord’s mill, get it ground, and have a banquet.

16. “Unto my boasting in the day of Christ.Paul constantly keeps before the people the coming of the Lord, with one hand holding up entire sanctification, and with the other the Lord’s return to the earth.


Verse 17

ARGUMENT 7

MARTYRDOM

17. But if truly I am offered for a sacrifice and the ministry of your faith, I rejoice, and rejoice along with you all;

18. But you also rejoice, and rejoice along with me in this same thing.O what a contrast this triumph with the howling, shivering, cowardly religion of the present day! I have already notified my wife to wear no crape when I die. Mourning for the sainted dead belongs to a former dispensation, three thousand years behind the age, and is utterly out of harmony with the victories and triumphs of New Testament sanctification. Here while Nero’s sword is hanging over Paul’s neck, and he knows not what minute it will drop and amputate his head (for a part of the punishment of the martyrs was to give them no notification of their impending doom), in this precarious attitude Paul here notifies the Philippian saints to get ready to shout, and to shout along with him; for he is going to have a hallelujah time when they cut his head off, and he wants all of the saints to be ready to help him shout. Good Lord, deliver us from a lugubrious religion, that makes us weep and mourn when there is a chance to go to heaven!

19-24. In this paragraph Paul notifies them of his determination to send Timothy to them so soon as he learns more about the decision of the imperial court with reference to himself. He also here speaks of a lamentable apostasy there in Rome. No wonder the disciples were discouraged and intimidated when they saw their great leader completely in the hands of their enemies, and the clouds of persecution accumulating and the darkness intensifying. Amid these prevailing defections he highly commends Timothy, his favorite son in the gospel, assuring them that he will send him to them when he ascertains more satisfactorily the trend of things appertaining to himself. “I trust in the Lord that I myself will quickly come to you.” This I rightly believe he did after his trial and acquittal, as he was charged with nothing criminal in Roman law, but simply disharmony with the apostate theocracy.

25-29. Before he got ready to send Timothy, who doubtless carried the good news of his acquittal along with this letter, Paul sent to them Epaphroditus, to comfort them till the convalescence of Timothy.

30. Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, gambling his life, that he may supply your lack of ministry to me.In this Paul indulges a tacit hint to the Philippian saints that should have been helping him push the battle at Rome and elsewhere with all their might. He also in this letter very highly commends them for their faithful attention to his temporal needs, which he can no longer supply, as he faintly wishes his hands were disencumbered of the prisoner’s chain. Hence, this delinquency was doubtless in the ministry of the Word and the salvation work. Here we have a beautiful statement illustrating Epaphroditus’ perfect consecration to God’s work, in the fact that he staked all he had—physical, mental, and spiritual—for God, using the gambler’s word, paraboleusamenos, when he stakes all he possesses in a game of dice. How many of us are like Epaphroditus, just keeping all we possess on the table staked up for God!

1. Finally, brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things unto you to me is not irksome, but to you it is safe.Paul felt it his duty to write to them the very same truth which he had repeated over and over in his preaching while with them. This is an important argument for the sanctification of the preachers, which alone can make them utterly dead to popular opinion. Carnality is always foolishly gaping after something new, regardless of truth, sense, or salvation. A Methodist preacher, arriving on his circuit, preached on repentance, came around again and preached on repentance, and so continued preaching on repentance, till the people, awfully bored, asked him for a new subject; to whom he responded, “All right! I will give you a new sermon whenever you repent.” In the olden time they cried out to the prophets, “Why do you not give us something new? we are worn out with your old subjects; ‘line upon line, and precept upon precept.’” When a presiding elder, I always dreaded to see certain popular, high-soaring, metropolitan pastors light on a city station; for I knew they would stay the full quadrennium, and freeze the Church into an iceberg; with etiquettical negative policy, they would antagonize nothing, preach to please the people, and let them slip through their fingers into hell. The unsanctified preacher, incompetent to preach the great truths of experimental salvation over and over, with his eye on the judgment-bar, where God will require the people at his hands, when he goes to his appointment, soon preaches all of his gospel sermons. Then he must go off on wild-goose chases hunting something new, which has no gospel. in it, and lets the people starve to death in a pile on his hands.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Philippians 2:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/philippians-2.html.

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