on Philippians 1 :1
Paul and Timotheus - That Timothy was at this time with the apostle in Rome we learn from Philippians 2:19, and also that he was very high in the apostle's estimation. He had also accompanied the apostle on his two voyages to Philippi, see Acts 16 and 20., and was therefore deservedly dear to the Church in that city. It was on these accounts that St. Paul joined his name to his own, not because he was in any part the author of this epistle, but he might have been the apostle's amanuensis, though the subscription to the epistle gives this office to Epaphroditus. Neither in this epistle, nor in those to the Thessalonians and to Philemon does St. Paul call himself an apostle; the reason of which appears to be, that in none of these places was his apostolical authority called in question.
Bishops and deacons - Επισκοποις· The overseers of the Church of God, and those who ministered to the poor, and preached occasionally. There has been a great deal of paper wasted on the inquiry, "Who is meant by bishops here, as no place could have more than one bishop?" To which it has been answered: "Philippi was a metropolitan see, and might have several bishops." This is the extravagance of trifling. I believe no such officer is meant as we now term bishop.
on Philippians 1 :1
Paul and Timotheus - Paul frequently unites some person with him in his epistles; see the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:1. It is clear from this, that Timothy was with Paul at Rome. Why he was there is unknown. It is evident that he was not there as a prisoner with Paul, and the probability is, that he was one of the friends who had gone to Rome with a view to show his sympathy with him in his sufferings; compare the notes at 2 Timothy 4:9. There was special propriety in the fact that Timothy was joined with the apostle in writing the Epistle, for he was with him when the church was founded, and doubtless felt a deep interest in its welfare; Acts 16. Timothy had remained in Macedonia after Paul went to Athens, and it is not improbable that he had visited them afterward.
The servants of Jesus Christ - see the notes at Romans 1:1.
To all the saints in Christ Jesus - The common appellation given to the church, denoting that it was holy; see the notes, Romans 1:7.
With the bishops - σὺν επισκόποις sun episkopois; see the notes, Acts 20:28. The word used here occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: Acts 20:28, translated "overseers;" and Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 2:25, in each of which places it is rendered as "bishop." The word properly means an inspector, overseer, or guardian, and was given to the ministers of the gospel because they exercised this care over the churches, or were appointed to oversee their interests. It is a term, therefore, which might be given to any of the officers of the churches, and was originally equivalent to the term presbyter. It is evidently used in this sense here. It cannot be used to denote a diocesan bishop; or a bishop having the care of the churches in a large district of country, and of a superior rank to other ministers of the gospel, because the word is used here in the plural number, and it is in the highest degree improbable that there were dioceses in Philippi. It is clear, moreover, that they were the only officers of the church there except "deacons;" and the persons referred to, therefore, must have been those who were invested simply with the pastoral office. Thus, Jerome, one of the early fathers, says, respecting the word bishop: "A presbyter is the same as a bishop. And until there arose divisions in religion, churches were governed by a common counsel of presbyters. But afterward, it was everywhere decreed, that one person, elected from the presbyters, should be placed over the others." "Philippi," says he, "is a single city of Macedonia; and certainly there could not have been several like these who are now called bishops, at one time in the same city. But as, at that time, they called the same bishops whom they called presbyters also, the apostles spoke indifferently of bishops as of presbyters." Annotations on the Epistle to Titus, as quoted by Dr. Woods on Episcopacy, p. 63.
And deacons - On the appointment of deacons, and their duty, see the notes at Acts 6:1. The word "deacons" does not occur before this place in the common version of the New Testament, though the Greek word rendered here as "deacon" frequently occurs. It is rendered "minister" and "ministers" in Matthew 20:26; Mark 10:43; Romans 13:4; Romans 15:8; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 11:15, 2 Corinthians 11:23; Galatians 2:17; Ephesians 3:7; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 1:7, Colossians 1:23, Colossians 1:25; Colossians 4:7; 1 Timothy 4:6; "servant" and "servants," Matthew 22:13; Matthew 23:11; Mark 9:25; John 2:5, John 2:9; John 12:26; Romans 16:1; and "deacon" or "deacons," Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 3:12. The word properly means servants, and is then applied to the ministers of the gospel as being the servants of Christ, and of the churches. Hence, it came especially to denote those who had charge of the alms of the church, and who were the overseers of the sick and the poor. In this sense the word is probably used in the passage before us, as the officers here referred to were distinct in some way from the bishops. The apostle here mentions but two orders of ministers in the church at Philippi, and this account is of great importance in its bearing on the question about the way in which Christian churches were at first organized, and about the officers which existed in them. In regard to this we may remark:
(1) That only two orders of ministers are mentioned. This is undeniable, whatever rank they may have held.
(2) there is no intimation whatever that a minister like a prelatical bishop had ever been appointed there, and that the incumbent of the office was absent, or that the office was now vacant. If the bishop was absent, as Bloomfield and others suppose, it is remarkable that no allusion is made to him, and that Paul should have left the impression that there were in fact but two "orders" there. If there were a prelate there, why did not Paul refer to him with affectionate salutations? Why does he refer to the two other "orders of clergy" without the slightest allusion to the man who was set over them as "superior in ministerial rank and power?" Was Paul jealous of this prelate? But if they had a prelate, and the see was then vacant, why is there no reference to this fact? Why no condolence at their loss? Why no prayer that God would send them a man to enter into the vacant diocese? It is a mere assumption to suppose, as the friends of prelacy often do, that they had a prelatical bishop, but that he was then absent. But even granting this, it is an inquiry which has never been answered, why Paul did not make some reference to this fact, and ask their prayers for the absent prelate.
(3) the church was organized by the apostle Paul himself, and there can be no doubt that it was organized on the "truly primitive and apostolic plan."
(4) the church at Philippi was in the center of a large territory; was the capital of Macedonia, and was not likely to be placed in subjection to the diocesan of another region.
(5) it was surrounded by other churches, since we have express mention of the church at Thessalonica, and the preaching of the gospel at Berea; Acts 17.
(6) there is more than one bishop mentioned as connected with the church in Philippi. But these could not have been bishops of the Episcopal or prelatical order, if Episcopalians choose to say that they were prelates, then it follows:
(a) that there was a plurality of such persons in the same diocese, the same city, and the same church - which is contrary to the fundamental idea of Episcopacy. It follows also,
(b) that there was entirely missing in the church at Philippi what the Episcopalians call the "second order" of clergy; that a church was organized by the apostles defective in one of the essential grades, with a body of prelates without presbyters - that is, an order of men of "superior" rank designated to exercise jurisdiction over "priests" who had no existence.
If there were such presbyters or "priests" there, why did not Paul name them? If their office was one that was contemplated in the church, and was then vacant, how did this happen? And if this were so, why is there no allusion to so remarkable a fact?
on Philippians 1 :1
1:1 Servants - St. Paul, writing familiarly to the Philippians, does not style himself an apostle. And under the common title of servants, he tenderly and modestly joins with himself his son Timotheus, who had come to Philippi not long after St. Paul had received him, Acts 16:3,12. To all the saints - The apostolic epistles were sent more directly to the churches, than to the pastors of them. With the bishops and deacons - The former properly took care of the internal state, the latter, of the externals, of the church, 1Tim 3:2 - 8; although these were not wholly confined to the one, neither those to the other. The word bishops here includes all the presbyters at Philippi, as well as the ruling presbyters: the names bishop and presbyter, or elder, being promiscuously used in the first ages.