Paul (1) and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the (a) bishops and deacons:
(1) The Paul's point in writing this epistle, is to strengthen and encourage the Philippians by all means possible, not to faint, but more than that, to go forward. And first of all he commends their former deeds, to exhort them to go forward: which thing he says he fully hopes they will do, and that by the testimony of their abundant charity. But in the meantime he refers all things to the grace of God.
(a) By the bishops are meant both the pastors who have the dispensation of the word, and the elders that govern: and by deacons are meant those that were stewards of the treasury of the Church, and had to look after the poor.
For your (b) fellowship in the gospel from the (c) first day until now;
(b) Because you also are made partakers of the Gospel.
(c) Ever since I knew you.
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the (d) day of Jesus Christ:
(d) The Spirit of God will not forsake you to the very latter end, until your mortal bodies will appear before the judgment of Christ to be glorified.
Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my (e) bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my (f) grace.
(e) A true proof of a true knitting together with Christ.
(f) He calls his bonds "grace", as though he had received some singular benefit.
(2) For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
(2) He declares his good will towards them, in addition showing by what means they may chiefly be strengthened and encouraged, that is, by continual prayer.
(3) And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and [in] all judgment;
(3) He shows what thing we ought to chiefly desire, that is, first of all that we may increase in the true knowledge of God (so that we may be able to discern things that differ from one another), and also in charity, that even to the end we may give ourselves to truly good works, to the glory of God by Jesus Christ.
Being filled with the (g) fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
(g) If righteousness is the tree, and good works the fruits, then the papists are truly deceived indeed, when they say that works are the cause of righteousness.
(4) But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things [which happened] unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
(4) He prevents the offence that might come by his persecution, by which different ones took occasion to disgrace his apostleship. And to these he answers, that God has blessed his imprisonment in such a way, that he has by that means become more famous, and the dignity of the Gospel by this occasion is greatly enlarged, although not all men are happy with it, yet it has enlarged indeed.
So that my bonds (h) in Christ are manifest in all the (i) palace, and in all other [places];
(h) For Christ's sake.
(i) In the emperor's court.
And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the (k) word without fear.
(k) The Gospel is called the word, to set forth the excellence of it.
The one preach Christ of contention, not (l) sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
(l) Not with a pure mind: for otherwise their doctrine was pure.
(5) What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in (m) pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
(5) He shows by setting forth his own example, that the end of our afflictions is true joy, and this results through the power of the Spirit of Christ, who he gives to those that ask.
(m) Under a false pretence and disguise: for they make Christ a cloak for their ambition and envy.
(6) According to my earnest expectation and [my] hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but [that] with all boldness, as always, [so] now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether [it be] by life, or by death.
(6) We must continue even to the end, with great confidence, having nothing before our eyes except for Christ's glory alone, whether we live or die.
(7) But if I live in the (n) flesh, this [is] the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
(7) An example of a true shepherd, who considers more how he may profit his sheep, than he considers any benefit of his own whatsoever.
(n) To live in this mortal body.
(8) Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye (o) stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
(8) Having set down those things before in manner of a preface, he descends now to exhortations, warning them first of all to consent both in doctrine and mind, and afterward, that being thus knit together with those common bonds, they continue through the strength of faith to bear all adversity in such a way, that they allow nothing unworthy of the profession of the Gospel.
(o) The word signifies to stand fast in, and it is proper to wrestlers, that stand fast and do not move their feet back at all.
(9) And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
(9) We ought not to be discouraged but rather encouraged by the persecutions which the enemies of the Gospel imagine and practise against us: seeing that the persecutions are certain witnesses from God himself both of our salvation, and of the destruction of the wicked.
(10) For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
(10) He proves his statement that persecution is a token of our salvation, because it is a gift of God to suffer for Christ, which gift he bestows upon his own, as he does the gift of faith.
(11) Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear [to be] in me.
(11) Now he shows for what purpose he made mention of his afflictions.