The Epistle to the Philippians
Phillipi was an important city, having been founded by Alexander the Greats father. As the site where the old Roman Republic fell with the defeat of Brutus and Cassius by Augustus and his allies, it also became the place where the Roman Empire was born.
This epistle, or combination of several epistles, was written by Paul in the same timeframe as Colossians and Ephesians, sometime between 61-63 AD, during Pauls first Roman imprisonment.
Philippi was the first church Paul started in that part of the world as a result of a vision in Acts 16, and interestingly--although he sees a man in the vision begging him to come to that area--the first converts here were women, including Lydia, an important businesswoman. Paul seemed to have a special fondness for this church and mentions (Phil. 4:15) that only this church regularly supported him financially.
Both Luke and Epaphroditus may have headed the church there at different times.
Citizens in Philippi enjoyed the highest level of Roman citizenship, along with exemption from most taxes. The people were justifiably proud of their citizenship, and Paul makes use of this fact in the epistle, appealing to them to live out Christian lives with as much pride and dedication as they did their Roman citizenship, keeping in mind their true citizenship was in heaven.
1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops1 and deacons:
2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
7 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 bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels2 of Jesus Christ.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
10 That ye may approve things that are excellent;3 that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
12 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
13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;
14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word5 without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.6
19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation7 through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 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.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
27 Only let your conversation8 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 stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
28 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.
29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.9
Paul and Timothy, the slaves of Jesus Christ, to all the righteous in Christ
Jesus who are at Philippi, with its bishops and deacons.
2 Grace and peace be to you from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3-5 I thank my God every time you come to mind, always praying joyfully for you, in every prayer I make, because of the way you partnered with me in the Gospel from the first day you heard it until now.
6 And I am confident of this very thing: That He who began a good work in you will continue it until He completes it in the Day of Jesus Christ!
7 It's only right for me to think this way because you are all in my heart since you have been partakers of my grace both in my bonds and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel.
8 For God bears me witness how much I long for you with the tenderness of Jesus Christ himself.
9-11 And I pray that your love will abound, increasing in all knowledge and discernment, so that from now, until the Day of Christ, you may prize the things of true value, and thus be sincere and without offense, being filled with the fruits of righteousness that are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.
12-13 But I want you to understand, brethren, that the things that have befallen me have ultimately happened for the promotion of the Gospel, so that the reason for my being chained in Christs name has been made known throughout all the Praetorian camp, and everywhere else.
14 Thus, many other brethren in the Lord, being confident by my chains, are made all the more bold to speak the Message without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ out of envy and strife, but others preach him out of good will.
16 The former preach Christ out of contention, not in sincerity, thinking to add to the suffering of my imprisonment.
17 The latter do so out of love, knowing I am holding strong my position at the front lines of battle to defend the Gospel.
18 But what does it matter? Either way, whether in pretense or in truth, people are being preached to about Christ; and in that I rejoice, and will continue to rejoice.
19-20 For I know that all this shall be for my ultimate delivery through your prayers and the strength of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, just as I believe and have confidence in. So in no way will I be intimidated, but instead--as I have always done--I will go on boldly so that Christ, as always, will be glorified in my body whether it be through my life or by my death.
21 For me to live, is (to live for) Christ; and to die is gain (for me personally).
22 But if I continue to live this mortal life, it is only to produce fruit in the Gospel. But which is better: To live or to die? That, Im not sure of.
23 For I am torn between the two, having a desire to depart this world and be with Christ, which is far better than remaining here.
24 But for me to stay here is better for you.
25-26 I am certain of that, so I will remain here and continue on with you for your development and joy of faith so that your rejoicing in Jesus Christ may be even greater by my coming to you again.
27-28 Until then, just let your lifestyle be one that is appropriate for followers of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I see you in person, or else hear from others while I am absent, I can rely on the fact that you stand firm in one spirit and mind, striving together for the faith of the Gospel without fearing your adversaries. This will be to them a testimony and sign to them of their coming perdition, but to you it will be a sign of your coming salvation, which is from God.
29 For to you has been given, on behalf of Christ, the honor of not only believing in him, but also to suffer for his sake,
30 Fighting the same battle yourselves that you have seen me fight, and hear that I fight even now.
1. Interestingly, Paul refers to bishopsin the plural, suggesting that there may have been more than one bishop in a single area, in comparison to the form that later developed in the church. However, by the 4th century, Chrysostom theorized that the word was being used loosely by Paul, and included all the chief elders in the area.
2. This is the correct translation, but Paul's point is that he feels the tender longing of Christ for the Philippian believers.
3. Better paraphrased as: That you may prize the things of true value...
4. What an excellent point by Paul, for the truth is most of his epistles were written in time of imprisonment and hardship! This fact also holds true for many of us, for there are times when God may actually do the most He will do through our lives in times of greatest hardship, or when we may feel furthest from Him, or when we may be most aware of our own sinfulness and failings!
5. The word is not referring to the Scripture here, but to the declaration of Gods redemption through Christ.
6. Paul is not necessarily saying that people who preach the Gospel from wrong motives accomplish anything for God; rather, he is glad that through the efforts of both hypocrite and saint the name of Christ is becoming a household word.
7. Salvation here refers to physical deliverance from bondage, not spiritual salvation.
8. Conversation means lifestyle.
9. Better paraphrased as: Fighting the same battle yourselves that you have seen me fight, and hear that I fight now.
1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.1
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:2
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.3
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.4
14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.
18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.
19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.
20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.
22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.
23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.
24 But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.
25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.
26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
27 For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.
29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ...
If any comfort in his love...
If any fellowship of the Spirit...
If there are any bowels of compassion in you--
2 Then maximize my joy by all of you pursuing the same goals with the same sort of love, in one accord and with one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or self-aggrandizement, but with an attitude of humility, let each one esteem his brother as better than himself.
4 Dont just worry about your own good--concern yourselves with the problems your brothers are going through as well.
5 Have the same sort of attitude (--that of a servant--) that Christ Jesus had.
6-7 Though existing in the form of God, and not considering it to be usurping
anything to be equal with God the Father, he made himself insignificant,
and took the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of a mortal man.
8 And being found in the form of a mere man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death on the cross.
9-11 Because of (his willingness to humble himself, and take on the lowly nature of humanity in order to experience death for us,) God has highly exalted him, and given him a name (and rank) that is above every other so that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, whether that of beings in heaven, on earth, or in the realm of the dead; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12-13 So, my beloved brethren, as you have obeyed before--not just when I was there, but even more zealously in my absence--work to develop the full fruit of your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who energizes you to perform the good things He wants you to do.
14-16 Do everything without grumbling and arguing, that you may be blameless and innocent, and sons of God against whom no one can make a legitimate accusation in the midst of a wicked and perverse nation among whom you shine as lights in the world as you uphold the Message of Life. And if you do this, I shall rejoice in the Day of Christ that I have neither run nor labored pointlessly.
17 Yes, and even if my blood is poured out as a sacrificial offering for your faith, I rejoice both on my own and with you all.
18 And you should rejoice with me as well for the same reason!
19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus that I shall shortly send Timothy to you, that I may be comforted when he reports back about you.
20 I have no one else devoted to loving and caring about you the way he does.
21 For the others all worry about their own agendas, rather than the agenda of Jesus Christ.
22 But you know about Timothy--that he has proven himself by serving with me in the Gospel like a son serves his father.
23 So I hope to send him there as soon as I know what my fate here will be.
24 But I have confidence in the Lord that I will also come there soon.
25 Even so, I thought it necessary to send Epaphroditus--my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier--back to you, since he was the apostle you sent to minister to my needs.
26 For he missed you greatly, and was grieved because you had heard he was sick (and were worried about him).
27 And sick he was--even close to death. But God had mercy on both of us, lest he die and I have sorrow on top of sorrow.
28 Therefore, I am all the more anxiously sending him back so you can rejoice when you see him, and my own concerns can be assuaged.
29 So receive him joyfully in the Lord, and treat him--and people like him--with respect,
30 Because it was for the work of Christ that he nearly died, having no regard for his own life, to do for me in your name what you could not do from a distance.
1. Paul now begins to deal with some of the schisms in the church between people jockeying for positions of authority. This very sort of situation may have been why bishops began to be limited in number.
2. What a tragedy that some people teaching we are little gods have woven an apostate doctrine from these verses. Pauls point is not that we should think ourselves somehow equal with God, but his point is that Christ, who was equal with God, became a servant, ministering to others and going to the cross for their good! Also, verses 6-11 are thought to be an early Christian hymn.
3. Paul is not saying here that the Philippians arent fully saved, and that they need to do some meritorious works or perfect their lifestyle to make it into heaven. His point is that they are saved, and that they should walk out the salvation they already have, for it can always be lost if a man chooses to go the wrong way.
4. A verse showing that it is only through the empowerment of the Spirit that sanctification becomes more than works of the flesh.
1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
2 Beware of dogs1, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.
3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.2
16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
20 For our conversation3 is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. I dont mind repeating this
to you because it is an admonition for your own good.
2 Beware of (Cynic philosophers and their esoteric teachings). Beware of those who do evil. Beware of those mutilators (who teach mandatory circumcision and Torah observance).
3-4 For we Christians are the true circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, rejoicing in Christ Jesus and placing no confidence in our own fleshly (Torah observance)--though if a man could have confidence in that, I certainly could! Indeed, if any man could feel secure through his own (Torah observance and background in Judaism,) I could feel even more secure!
5 I was circumcised on the eighth day of my birth, a member of the people of Israel from the tribe of Benjamin. I was, in fact, a Hebrew among Hebrews--being a Pharisee, in so far as Torah observance goes.
6 And with all zeal, I persecuted the church, while at the same time being blameless in so far as the righteousness that is in the Torah was concerned.
7 But things that were once gain to me, I now consider lost for Christ.
8-11 Yes, undoubtedly I count everything to be worth losing for the priceless knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things--considering them dung--that I may obtain Christ and be found in him, not having my own righteousness based on Torah observance, but the righteousness that comes from God through faith in Christ alone, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, conforming to the pattern of his death if by any means I can likewise attain the resurrection from the dead.
12 I am not saying that I have attained Christs perfection, or that I am perfect. But I follow in his example so that I may become all that Christ Jesus wants me to be.
13 No, brethren, I do not consider myself to have become all I can be, but this thing I do: Forgetting the things of the past, and looking on to what lies ahead,
14 I press toward the finish line to win the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us, as many as are mature, have this attitude; and if there are also improper attitudes or beliefs still among you, God will reveal it (and correct you).
16 Nevertheless, let us be sure to walk in the same light and lifestyle we have been walking in.
17 Brethren, follow my example, and take note of those who have the same mindset as I do, using them as inspiration too.
18 For many walk, as I have often told you before and now tell you again with tears, as enemies of the cross of Christ.
19 Their end will be destruction, for their God is their own belly. They glory in shameful things, and they concern themselves with the things of this world.
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from whence we also look for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ--
21 Who will change our vile body, and fashion it like his own glorious body, according to his power to bring all things into subjection to him.
1. Pauls intended meaning of the word dogs is not abundantly clear. The word was an insult used by many Jews against Gentiles, and he may be turning it back upon them. It was also a slang term for homosexuals. I personally think, however, he is using it as a slang term for Cynic philosophers, who were also referred to as dogs in that era because of their rather unusual lifestyles that included abandoning responsibility to perfect their own notion of virtue through esoteric spiritual development. Their philosophies were similar to Buddhist teachings in some ways.
2. Better paraphrased as: Let us, as many as are mature, have this attitude; and if there are also improper attitudes or beliefs still among you, God will reveal it, and correct you.
3. In this very rare instance, conversation actually means citizenship. Paul is relating that the true citizenship of the Christian is in heaven. This verse is also another indictment against Soul sleep.
1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.1
3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be careful2 for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.3
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.4
14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.5
16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
21 Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.
22 All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar's household.
23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Therefore, my dearly beloved brethren, whom I dearly love and long for, and
consider to be my joy and my crown--stand fast in the Lord!
2 I beg Euodias, and beg Syntyche, that they be unified in the Lord.
3 And I ask you, my true Yokeworker, to help the women who worked with me, Clement, and our other laborers in the Gospel, whose names are all written in the Scroll of Life.
4 (Remember--) rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say it: rejoice!
5 Let your easy-going nature be known to all men, for the Lord is very soon to return.
6 Dont be consumed with worry about anything, but in every need pray and make petition with thanksgiving, and in this way make your requests known to God.
7 And in return, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds secure through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are worthy of love, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue or any praise in them, meditate on these things.
9 And the things you have either learned, been told by me, heard about, or seen me do--do them, and the God of peace shall be with you.
10 But I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that your concern for me has been sparked anew, even though it was there before, but you had no way to do anything about it.
11 I dont say that because I need you to donate funds to me, for I have learned to be content in whatever state I am in.
12 I know how to live in poverty and prosperity. Everywhere, and in all situations, I follow the principle of contentment, whether full or hungry, whether in abundance or need.
13 Yes, I can do anything I need to do, and endure anything I have to endure, through Christ who empowers me.
14 Even so, you have done well to come to my aid in my present afflictions.
15 You Philippians already know that in the beginning of my ministry of the Gospel, when I left Macedonia, no other church but you understood the principle of giving and receiving, and shared their resources with me.
16 Even when I was in Thessalonica, you twice sent donations to me.
17 (I remind you of this) not because I want another gift from you, but I desire that you bank blessings in heaven for yourselves.
18 But I have all I need, and am abounding in what counts. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things that were sent from you--which are a delightful aroma, and a sacrifice acceptable and greatly pleasing to God.
19 And my God shall supply all your needs from His riches, in glory, through Christ Jesus!
20 Now to God our Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet all the righteous in Christ Jesus there. The brethren with me here greet you too.
22 All the righteous here salute you, especially those of Caesars household.
23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
1. Apparently, these two women elders in the church had some friction between them.
2. Careful means anxious.
3. Paul is expressing his gratitude that the Philippians past support has blossomed afresh with his imprisonment.
4. Although this verse is regularly quoted by Christians, its almost never quoted in its proper context: that of being able to endure persecution and hardship without breaking.
5. Its interesting to see that Paul talks about receiving in this verse, and it can only be understood as his affirming that God will return tangible blessing to those who have supported him out of their own means.