Notes on Chapter 1

1:1    Paul & Timothy  Timothy had been with Paul when the church at Philippi was established. Timothy joined Paul in Lystra and continued with him to Berea (Acts 16:1-3, 17:13-14). When Paul was brought to Athens by brethren who desired to rescue him from antagonistic Jews, Timothy and Silas stayed behind. They finally caught up with Paul at Corinth, having come "down from Macedonia" (Acts 18:5). It may be that during the time Paul was in Athens, Timothy and Silas worked to build up not only the new Christians in Berea, but also (cf. 1 Thess. 3:1-2) those in the Macedonian cities, Thessalonica and Philippi. In any event, Timothy was well-known among the Philippians.

    servants   δοῦλος, the word here translated "servants", refers to servants who are slaves, as in Eph. 6:5-9 and Col. 3:22.

    bishops  i.e., overseers, cf. Acts 20:28. Men referred to as "elders" in Acts 20:17 are called bishops, or overseers in vs. 28. Also in Titus 1:5-7, the terms "elder" and "bishop" are used interchangeably. However, the metaphor involved in Acts 20:28 represents the overseers as shepherds: "Take heed unto yourselves and to all the feed the church of the Lord." Compare I Pt. 5:1-5 where the same metaphor is used to characterize elders, and these elders are distinguished from another shepherd who is the Chief shepherd. Thus the bishops were men who, by reason of their age, could be called elders, and who, by reason of their work of overseeing, could be referred to metaphorically as shepherds (translated "pastors" in Eph. 4:11).

     deacons Although διάκονος, the term here translated "deacon", is sometimes translated "servant", it is to be distinguished from the word, δοῦλος, which meant "slave", and which was used by Paul with reference to himself and Timothy.

    Distinguishing between the two words

  1. "servant", i.e. slave, (δοῦλος) used by Paul with reference to himself and Timothy
    • Meaning is clear in the following passages: Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:11; Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 12:13.
    • Figuratively, all men are slaves, i.e., in bondage, either to sin unto death (Rom. 6:16, Heb. 2:14-15, Jn. 8:31-36) or to righteousness and God (Rom. 6:20-22).
  2. "servant", i.e., deacon (διάκονος), is also translated "minister".
    • In literal usage this word may be a freeman or a slave.
      • Cf. the use of the verb cognate with reference to Martha's serving (Lk. 10:40 and Jn. 12:2). Also notice the verb "serve" in the last half of Lk. 12:37.
      • This word is used of the servants in Jn. 2:5, who were not necessarily slaves, but men who were asked to serve at the wedding, much as friends of the bride are often asked to serve at modern weddings in our society. From the context, it seems likely that the servants mentioned in Jn. 2 were Jesus' disciples. Why is this so?
      • When this word is used, the emphasis is on the work of service which is performed.
    • This term is used of all who follow Jesus (Jn. 12:26).
    • It is used of those who serve the gospel and consequently, the body of Christ. (Rom 15:15-16; 1 Thess. 3:2; 1 Tim. 4:6; Col. 1:24-25).
    • It is used of those who serve the local church (Rom. 16:1, Phil. 1:1.)
  3. Richard C. Trench, (Synonyms of the New Testament, p. 32) distinguishes between these two words as follows:
  4. διάκονος represents the servant in his activity for the work...; not in his relation, either servile, as that of δοῦλος, or more voluntary, as in the case of the θεράπων, to a person.

The deacons. then, are servants, because they serve. Furthermore, just as the bishops are overseers of the church, the deacons are servants of the church (Rom. 16:1), not of the bishops. (Note that men were selected by the brethren, not the bishops, to serve tables in Acts 6:3.)

1:3-4    Paul's joy on account of the Philippians was especially occasioned by what is described in vs. 5.

    fellowship in furtherance of the gospel    The word translated "fellowship" speaks of a sharing in something, a joint participation in something. Here, who is doing the sharing, in what are they sharing, and how do they share in this? (cf. Phil. 4:10-18.)

    from the first day until now = "in the beginning of the gospel" (4:15), "in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need" (4:16), and "now at length ye have revived your thought for me" (4:10).

1:6    he who began a good work in you will perfect it... Christians are God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10) and God continues to work toward the perfection of his work.

    ...until the day of Jesus Christ = "day of the Lord" (2 Pt. 3:10, 1 Thess. 5:2). "the coming of the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:15), "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2:1). Christians are God's work, but this work is not completed until the last day when "this corruptible must put on incorruption" for "then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." God's work is not complete until the Resurrection unto life. Paul will again speak of being made perfect in this same sense in Phil. 3:11-12.

     Is this passage saying that there will come a point at which we will no longer sin?

    Is the word "perfect" used here to mean sinless?

    What might be a good synonym for the word "perfect" as used here?

1:8    tender mercies (KJV: "bowels") Literally, "inward parts" or "entrails" (Acts 1:18). However, figuratively, it was the seat of the emotions, and used much as we use the word "heart". (It seems to me their figure of speech was much more appropriate than ours inasmuch as strong emotion is much more frequently associated with strong physiological sensation in theabdomen than in the upper chest. ) The verb cognate means "have pity," "feel sympathy." To have the tender mercies of Christ would be to have Christ-like sympathy, affection, etc. for others. cf. Col. 3:12.

    Here, Paul claims to have the tender mercies (entrails) of Christ. In chapter 2, he speaks of lowliness of mind and says "Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus." Having the tender mercies (entrails) of Christ is not a very different idea from having the mind of Christ, and is in fact an essential part of the latter.

1:9-10    love may abound in knowledge and discernment so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offence. Knowledge and discernment untempered by love puffeth up and may cause offence. Cf. 1 Cor. 10:32 where "occasion of stumbling" is translated from the same word here rendered "offence". Cf. also 1 Cor. 8, Rom. 14. We ought to learn to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:14) but our knowledge and perception of such must be tempered with love.

1:12    Good has come from the things which have befallen Paul. Two specifics are mentioned in 1:13-14.

1:13    praetorian (Mt. 27:27; Mk. 15:16; Jn. 18:28,33; 19:19; Acts 23:35) This was used of (1) the compound of any magistrate, and (2) the imperial guard, an elite corps. In addition to those of the praetorian guard who had been taught as a result of Paul's predicament, there were all the rest.

1:14    The second specific good resulting from Paul's predicament was that, upon seeing Paul's faithfulness when persecuted, others took confidence to teach more boldly.

1:15    some refers to the enemies of Paul.

1:16    the one do it of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. Cf. vs. 14. Their love is for Christ.

1:17    Those who proclaim Christ insincerely, without the love mentioned in vs. 16, saw in Paul's imprisonment an opportunity to discredit him. Cf. 2 Cor. 10:2, 10-12 and 11:12-23 for references to and description of Paul's enemies. Also see Rom. 3:6-7.

     What indication is there in 2 Cor. 10:2 & 12:2-3 of the gnostic tendencies of Paul's enemies"?

     In Colossians 2:8-23, the tradition of men (vs. 8) described by Paul had its origin in gnosticism and what other source?

1:18    God can use even men with evil motives to accomplish his good. See Gen. 45:7; 50:20; Rom. 9:17.

     Can you think of other examples that illustrate this point?

1:19    this shall turn out to my salvation    This is verbatim the Septuagint rendering of the first clause in Job 13:16. Job's point was that in the very fact that he would contend with God concerning his guiltlessness, there was for him "salvation", i.e., vindication, for a godless man would not dare to do such.

    "this" refers to either

                 (a)     "I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice" (vs. 18)

                 (b)     "Christ is proclaimed" (vs. 18), or

                 (c)     "affliction for me" (vs. 17)

    (a) is the closest antecedent, and furthermore, fits the context of the quote from Job. By rejoicing in the proclamation of Christ even by his enemies, Paul would be vindicated as being above the envy and strife which motivated his enemies. However, the latter part of vs. 19 does not fit so well with this view.

    (b) is not so far removed as to be an unlikely antecedent, and furthermore, could conceivably fit the context of a quotation from Job. Paul's work is vindicated when Christ is preached, for after all, Paul's imprisonment came as the result of preaching, in Jesus Christ, the resurrection ( Acts 23:6; 24:19-21; 25:18-19). And this would fit the latter part of vs. 19, for through the supplication of the Philippians, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Christ would be proclaimed.

    (c) seems too far removed to be a likely antecedent. Furthermore, "salvation" in vs. 19 could then hardly be taken in the sense of vindication, as it is used in Job 13:16. However. it is not necessary that Paul have used "salvation" in the same sense as did Job even though he quotes Job. Affliction could turn out to salvation (cf. Rom. 5:2-5) through the supplication of the Philippians and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

    On the whole, especially if the lime of thought is followed down through vs. 20, (b) seems to be the best choice.

1:22    Here, the renderings of the NIV, RSV, & Douay seem best.

     NIV    If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!

     RSV    If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.

     Douay    And if to live in the flesh; this is to me the fruit of labour. And what I shall choose I know not.

1:23    depart and be with Christ    Compare Lk. 16:22.

     Are we with Christ now?

    Then is it possible that we could be with Christ after we die, even before the judgment day?

    Is it impossible to suppose that we are with Christ immediately after death in some fuller sense than before, even though the day of judgment yet remains to come?

    This passage teaches essentially the same lesson that is learned from observing Lazarus' state after death in Lk. 16.

1:29    Contained in this verse is the reason Paul has said all that he has thus far. What is it?

1:30     What conflict had the Philippian brethren seen in Paul? On what occasion had they seen such?

    To what did Paul refer when he said, "and now hear to be in me"?


Notes on Chapter 2