on Philippians 4 :23
The grace of our Lord - The usual apostolical benediction, which has often occurred, and been more than once explained. See on Romans 1:7 (note), and Galatians 6:18 (note). The word ἡμων, our, is omitted by many MSS. and several versions, which simply read, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Be with you all - Instead of παντων, all, Πνευματος, Spirit, is the reading of ADEFG, several others, with the Coptic, Sahidic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and Itala; besides several of the Fathers.
There are various subscriptions to this epistle in the different MSS. and versions. In the common Greek text it stands thus: It was written to the Philippians from Rome by Epaphroditus. The Epistle to the Philippians was written from Rome, and sent by Epaphroditus. - Syriac. To the Philippians. - Aethiopic. The end of the Epistle; it was written at Rome, and sent by Epaphroditus. - Arabic. To the Philippians by Timothy and Epaphroditus. - Coptic.
1. The MSS. generally agree with the versions, and all unite in stating that this epistle was written and sent from Rome, so that the common subscription may well stand. Yet there have been some strong objections made against this, as far as the place is concerned. Some foreign critics have maintained, that were it to be granted that the apostle was now a prisoner for the testimony of Christ, yet it does not follow that he was a prisoner at Rome, for he himself tells us, 2 Corinthians 11:23, that he was in prisons more abundant; and, consequently, he might be in prison somewhere else: but they have gone farther, and denied that this epistle was written while Paul was a prisoner; affirming that he had been already liberated, and that of this there are several evidences in the epistle itself. J. Christopher Wolf, in his Curae, has considered all these objections in detail, and appears to have answered them in a very satisfactory manner. That St. Paul was now in prison, these words seem clearly to prove, Philippians 1:16 : - The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds. This strongly argues that he was then suffering imprisonment, and that certain persons of perverse minds preached the Gospel in such a way as was calculated to make his bonds still more grievous. And, as he sends the salutations of saints which were of Caesar's household, it seems most evident that he was then at Rome; as, had he been a prisoner in any of the provinces, it is not likely that he would send to Philippi the greetings of those who lived at Rome.
2. The cause of this imprisonment has been variously understood. Theodorus Metochita says it was in consequence of his having converted Nero's baker, and one of his concubines; at which the emperor, being enraged, ordered him to be cast into prison: but the authority on which this rests is scarcely sufficient to render it credible.
3. Paul is generally allowed to have been twice imprisoned at Rome: this was, without doubt, the first time of his being there in bonds, as there is every appearance that he was delivered after this; but his second imprisonment issued in his martyrdom. Every apostle of God is immortal till his work is done. Paul became a martyr when God saw that there was no farther need either for his preaching or his writing; he had kept and defended the faith, and had finished his course; God took him then from the evil to come; and crowned him with the glory which his Redeemer had provided for him, in reference to which he lived, and after which he had continually aspired.
4. Reader, be thankful to God, who, in pity to thy weakness, has called thee to believe and enjoy, and not to suffer for his sake. It is not for us to covet seasons of martyrdom; we find it difficult to be faithful even in ordinary trials: yet, as offenses may come, and times of sore trial and proof may occur, we should be prepared for them; and we should know that nothing less than Christ in us, the hope of glory, will enable us to stand in the cloudy and dark day. Let us, therefore, put on the whole armor of God; and, fighting under the Captain of our salvation, expect the speedy destruction of every inward foe; and triumph in the assurance that death, the last enemy, will, in his destructions, shortly be brought to a perpetual end. Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Amen and Amen!
Finished correction for the press, Dec. 16th, 1831. - A. C.
on Philippians 4 :23
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, ... - notes, Romans 16:20.
In regard to the subscription at the end of this Epistle, it may be remarked, as has been done of the other subscriptions at the end of the Epistles, that it is of no authority whatever. There is no reason, however, to doubt that in this case it is correct. The Epistle bears internal evidence of having been written from Rome, and was doubtless sent by Epaphroditus. See the introduction, section 3. There is considerable variety in the subscription. The Greek is: "It was written to the Philippians from Rome by Epaphroditus." The Syriac: "The Epistle to the Philippians was written from Rome, and sent by Epaphroditus." The Aethiopic: "To the Philippians, by Timothy."
Remarks On Philippians 4
The principal lessons taught in this closing chapter are the following:
1. It is our duty to be firm in the Lord, in all the trials, temptations, and persecutions to which we may be exposed; Philippians 4:1. This duty should be pressed on Christians by their teachers, and by each other, by all that is tender and sacred in the Christian profession, and all that is endearing in Christian friendship. Like Paul, we should appeal to others as "brethren dearly beloved and longed for," and by all their affection for us we should entreat them to be steadfast in the Christian profession. As their "joy and crown," also, ministers should desire that their people should be holy. Their own happiness and reward is to be closely connected with the firmness with which their people maintain the principles of the Christian faith. If Christians, therefore, wish to impart the highest joy to their religious teachers, and to exalt them as high as possible in future happiness and glory, they should strive to be faithful to their great Master, and to be steadfast in attachment to his cause.
2. It is the duty of those who have from any cause been alienated, to seek to be reconciled; Philippians 4:2. They should be of the same mind. Almost nothing does more to hinder the cause of religion than alienations and bickerings among its professed friends. It is possible for them to live in harmony, and to be of the same mind in the Lord; and such is the importance of this, that it well deserves to be enforced by apostolic authority and persuasion. It may be observed, also, that in the case referred to in this chapter - that of Euodias and Syntyche - the exhortation to reconciliation is addressed to both. Which was in the wrong, or whether both were, is not intimated, and is not needful for us to know. It is enough to know that there was alienation, and both of them were exhorted to see that the quarrel was made up. So, in all cases where members of the church are at variance, it is the business of both parties to seek to be reconciled, and neither party is right if he waits for the other before he moves in the matter. If you feel that you have been injured, go and tell your brother kindly wherein you think he has done you wrong. He may at once explain the matter, and show that you have misunderstood it, or he may make proper confession or restitution. Or, if he will do neither, you will have done your duty; Matthew 18:15. If you are conscious that you have injured, him, then nothing is more proper than that you should go and make confession. The blame of the quarrel rests wholly on you. And if some meddling third person has got up the quarrel between you, then go and see your brother, and disappoint the devices of the enemy of religion.
3. It is our duty and our privilege to rejoice in the Lord always; Philippians 4:4. As God is unchanging, we may always find joy in him. The character of God which we loved yesterday, and in the contemplation of which we found happiness then, is the same today, and its contemplation will furnish the same joy to us now. His promises are the same; his government is the same; his readiness to impart consolation is the same; the support which he can give in trial and temptation is the same. Though in our own hearts we may find much over which to mourn, yet when we look away from ourselves we may find abundant sources of consolation and peace. The Christian, therefore, may be always happy. If he will look to God and not to himself; to heaven and not to earth, he will find permanent and substantial sources of enjoyment. But in nothing else than God can we rejoice always. Our friends. in whom we find comfort, are taken away; the property that we thought would make us happy, fails to do so; and pleasures that we thought would satisfy, pall upon the sense and make us wretched. No man can be permanently happy who does not make the Lord the source of joy, and who does not expect to find his chief pleasure in him.
4. It is a privilege to be permitted to go and commit everything to God; Philippians 4:6-7. The mind may be in such a state that it shall feel no anxiety about anything. We may feel so certain that God will supply all our wants; that he will bestow upon us all that is really necessary for us in this life and the next, and that he will withhold from us nothing which it is not for our real good to have withheld, that the mind may be constantly in a state of peace. With a thankful heart for all the mercies which we have enjoyed - and in all cases they are many - we may go and commit ourselves to God for all that we need hereafter Such is the privilege of religion; such an advantage is it to be a Christian. Such a state of mind will be followed by peace. And it is only in such a way that true peace can be found. In every other method there will be agitation of mind and deep anxiety. If we have not this confidence in God, and this readiness to go and commit all to him, we shall be perplexed with the cares of this life; losses and disappointments will harass us; the changes which occur will weary and wear out our spirits, and through life we shall be tossed as on a restless ocean.
5. It is the duty of Christians to be upright in every respect; Philippians 4:8. Every friend of the Redeemer should be a man of incorruptible and unsuspected integrity. He should be one who can always be depended on to do what is right, and pure, and true, and lovely. I know not that there is a more important verse in the New Testament than the eighth verse of this chapter. It deserves to be recorded in letters of gold in the dwelling of every Christian, and it would be well if it could be made to shine on his way as if written in characters of living light. There should be no virtue, no truth, no noble plan of benevolence, no pure and holy undertaking in society, of which the Christian should not be, according to his ability, the patron and the friend. The reasons are obvious. It is not only because this is in accordance with the law of God, but it is from its effect on the community.
The people of the world judge of religion by the character of its professed friends. It is not from what they hear in the pulpit, or learn from the Bible, or from treatises on divinity; it is from what they see in the lives of those who profess to follow Christ. They mark the expression of the eye; the curl of the lip; the words that we speak - and if they perceive peevishness and irritability, they set it down to the credit of religion, They watch the conduct, the temper and disposition, the manner of doing business, the respect which a man has for truth, the way in which he keeps his promises, and set it all down to the credit of religion. If a professed Christian fails in anyone of these things, he dishonors religion and neutralizes all the good which he might otherwise do. It is not only the man in the church who is untrue, and dishonest, and unjust, and unlovely in his temper, that does evil; it is he who is either false, or dishonest, or unjust, or unlovely in his temper. One evil propensity will neutralize all that is good; and one member of the church who fails to lead a moral and upright life will do much to neutralize all the good that can be done by all the rest of the church; compare Ecclesiastes 10:1.
6. It is the duty of Christians to show kindness to the ministers of the gospel, especially in times and circumstances of want; Philippians 4:10, Philippians 4:14-17. Paul commended much what the Philippians had done for him. Yet they had done no more than they ought to do; see 1 Corinthians 9:11. He had established the gospel among them, carrying it to them by great persona, sacrifice and self-denial. What he had done for them had cost him much more than what they had done for him - and was of much more value. He had been in want. He was a prisoner; among strangers; incapable of exerting himself for his own support; not in a situation to minister to his own needs, as he had often done by tent-making, and in these circumstances he needed the sympathizing help of friends. He was not a man to be voluntarily dependent on others, or to be at any time a burden to them. But circumstances beyond his control had made it necessary for others to supply his needs.
The Philippians nobly responded to his claims on them, and did all that he could ask. Their conduct is a good example for other Christians to imitate in their treatment of the ministers of the gospel. Ministers now are often in want. They become old, and are unable to labor; they are sick, and cannot render the service which they have been accustomed to; their families are afflicted, and they do not have the means of providing for them comfortably in sickness. It is to be remembered also that such cases often happen where a minister has spent the best part of his life in the service of a people; where he has devoted his most vigorous days to their welfare; where he has been unable to lay up anything for sickness or old age; where he may have abandoned what would have been a lucrative calling in life, for the purpose of preaching the gospel. If there ever is a claim on the generosity of a people, his case is one, and there is no debt of gratitude which a people ought more cheerfully to pay than that of providing for the needs of an aged or an afflicted and disabled servant of Christ, who has spent his best years in endeavoring to train them and their children up for heaven.
Yet, it cannot be denied, that great injustice is often done in such cases. The poor beast that has served a man and his family in the days of his vigor, is often turned out in old age to die; and something like this sometimes occurs in the treatment of ministers of the gospel. The conduct of a people, generous in many other respects, is often unaccountable in their treatment of their pastors; and one of the lessons which ministers often have to learn, like their Master, by bitter experience, is the ingratitude of those for whose welfare they have toiled, and prayed, and wept.
7. Let us learn to be contented with our present condition; Philippians 4:11-12. Paul learned this lesson. It is not a native state of mind. It is a lesson to be acquired by experience. By nature we are all restless and impatient; we are reaching after things that we have not, and often after things that we cannot and ought not to have. We are envious of the condition of others, and suppose that if we had what they have we should be happy. Yet, if we have right feelings, we shall always find enough in our present condition to make us contented. We shall have such confidence in the arrangements of Providence as to feel that things are ordered for the best. If we are poor, and persecuted, and in want, or are prostrated by sickness, we shall feel that there is some good reason why this is so arranged - though the reason may not be known to us. If we are benevolent, as we ought to be, we shall be willing that others shall be made happy by what they possess, instead of coveting it for ourselves, and desiring to wrest it from them.
on Philippians 4 :23