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Paul's Epistle to the Philippians Part 4: Self-sacrifice is the Way to Life
Here we shall commence with our presentation of Philippians chapter 3. When we had discussed the beginning of this chapter, it is evident that Paul had begun to conclude this epistle, and immediately digressed into a warning concerning trust in the flesh. Many denominational Christians abuse this passage and cite it in order to justify the assumption that the flesh does not matter. However when we compare statements concerning the children of Israel “according to the flesh” which Paul had made in several places elsewhere in his writings (Romans 9, 1 Corinthians 10), it is evident that by repudiating trust in the flesh here in Philippians, Paul was not repudiating the flesh itself. Rather, he had only explained that one should not trust in the flesh for any means of justification, as he had stated in verse 9 of the chapter: “not having … righteousness that is from law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, that righteousness of Yahweh by the faith”.
This is the same conclusion which Paul had come to following a long discussion of the works of the law and the faith in Christ in Romans chapters 2 and 3, where he had written: “28 We therefore conclude by reasoning a man to be accepted by faith apart from rituals of the law. 29 Is Yahweh of the Judaeans only? [referring to the circumcision of the remnant of Israelites in Judaea] And not of the Nations? Yea, also of the Nations, [referring to the dispersions of post-captivity Israel, the people of the nations of the seed of Abraham described Romans chapter 4, which are the “Israel according to the flesh” Paul had mentioned in 1 Corinthians chapter 10] 30 seeing that it is Yahweh alone who will accept the circumcised from faith [the remnant of Israelites in Judaea], and the uncircumcised through the faith [the dispersions of post-captivity Israel]. 31 Do we then nullify the law by faith? Certainly not! Rather we establish the law.” In chapter 2 of that epistle Paul had already commended the Romans for exhibiting the works of the law written in their hearts, as opposed to the works of the law in the Old Testament rituals, showing that they were indeed of the Israelites of the Word of God with whom the New Covenant was made, when He had promised them mercy in their punishment, as it is prophesied in Jeremiah chapter 31.
The covenants and the promises were made to the seed of Abraham, to Israel according to the flesh, and to the twelve tribes of Israel, and those promises were made apart from any righteousness on the part of Israel, and they were were upheld even in their sin as we see in Jeremiah chapter 31. However being called to obedience in the message of the Gospel, the children of Israel should seek their righteousness through the faith of Christ rather than through the works of the law. That is the message which Paul offers here in Philippians chapter 3. So Paul had explained in Philippians chapter 2, that they should “do all things apart from murmuring and disputing”, since keeping the commandments of Christ and caring for one another they would ensure their mutual survival, that they would “be perfect and with unmixed blood, blameless children of Yahweh in the midst of a race crooked and perverted - among whom [they would] appear as luminaries in the Society...”
Subsequent to explaining that one's righteousness would be found not in the flesh, nor in the works of the flesh, but through the faith of Christ (which must reflect what Christ had actually believed, and not necessarily what men may believe about Christ), Paul explained that he regarded all of the former things of his life as loss on account of the faith in Christ, “to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death”. Discussing this at length as we presented the first part of this chapter, we had seen that the children of Israel, departing from Yahweh their God, had made a covenant with death, as it is explained in Isaiah chapter 28. Yet Yahweh promised to annul that covenant with death, and as it says in Hosea chapter 13, where in yet another Messianic prophecy Yahweh had proclaimed that “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death”, speaking of Himself.
In his epistle to the Romans, Paul had also explained how Yahweh accomplished this, in chapter 7 where he wrote “1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.” The children of Israel, being described collectively throughout the prophets as the wife of Yahweh their God, were released from the penalty of death which they faced under the law when their husband died as a man on their behalf. So Paul says “4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” The children of Israel were “dead unto sin”, as we read in that same chapter of Hosea, that “When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.” Therefore Paul said in relation to this same thing in Romans chapter 6 concerning Christ that “10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
We would assert that all of these things are meaningless outside of the understanding that the children of Israel as a nation were married to Yahweh their God, and that the Romans, the Philippians, and the other people to whom Paul had brought the Gospel of Christ were actually descended from those same Old Testament Israelites. It is of them alone that the prophets had written, recording all of the promises which God made to Israel which were later fulfilled in Christ. Once one has acquired that understanding, all of these things have a great and wonderful meaning. This, in reference to Christ, is what Paul had meant where he describes himself as having departed from his reliance in the works of the law “to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings”, because justification is no longer from the law. Rather, justification for the children of Israel comes from the acknowledgment of the sacrifice which Christ had made on behalf of the children of Israel, and from a willingness to do likewise with their own lives, devoting their lives to their brethren as Christ devoted His life to them.
Portraying his abandonment on any reliance in the flesh, Paul further humbles himself in concession to that abandonment, and prays “if somehow [he] may attain to the resurrection from among the dead”, refusing to acknowledge any certainty that he had obtained Christ, and only expressing a hope “on the condition that [he] also [had] been obtained by Christ”. Then for this same reason he wrote “13 Brethren, I myself do not reckon to have obtained but one thing: forgetting the things past and reaching out to the things ahead. 14 In quest of a goal I give chase for the prize of the calling of Yahweh above, in Christ Yahshua.” And here Paul concludes an example which he has made of himself: that justification does not come from any accomplishment under the works of the law or from any pride in the flesh, whether that be the fleshly satisfaction from fulfilling the rituals, or pride in the certainty of being one of the children of Israel. Rather, the prize which he seeks is justification in Christ, and he had already explained in verse 2 of this same chapter that those accounted as the circumcision are those “who in spirit are serving Yahweh, and boasting in Christ Yahshua, and not trusting in flesh”, as opposed to those of the concision who serve themselves [which we shall see below in verse 19] and who would in turn seek to bind men once again to the rituals of the law and circumcision of the flesh.
Therefore, an Israelite who hopes to have been obtained by Christ will serve Yahweh in the Spirit, as Paul had also explained in Romans chapter 7, “that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter”, in that manner bringing forth our fruit unto God (Romans 7:4-6). Serving Yahweh in the spirit, Christians seek to keep the commandments of God while loving one another and serving one another on account of Christ, as Christ Himself had exhorted His followers throughout the Gospel, and as Paul had admonished here in Philippians chapter 2. In that manner, if one believes that he or she is a descendant of the twelve tribes of Israel and a party to the promises of Christ, then one should seek to do the works which Abraham had done, who believed God and for that reason, put his faith into action in obedience to God. As Christ had professed, “every tree is known by his own fruit.”
Therefore with all of this understanding, proceeding with Philippians chapter 3, we see that Paul continues to speak in relation to that prize in the higher calling for which he strives:
15 Therefore as many as are perfect should understand this, and if you understand any differently, this also Yahweh will reveal to you.
If these Christians to whom he had written thought themselves to be perfect, or even sought to be perfected, as Paul did not even claim perfection for himself, then he asserted that they must understand the things which he had said here. And if they did not understand them, they would certainly come to understand them, or evidently they would not really be perfected. Paul is not saying that Yahweh would reveal to them something different. But if they had understood differently than what Paul had explained, Paul was confident that Yahweh would lead them to understand that which he had said here. If all were perfect, they would be of one mind and spirit. Then he gives to them a simple exhortation:
16 But for that which we have attained, to walk in that same thing.
Here the Majority Text has “But for that which we have attained, to walk by the same rule, to be of the same mind”; The Codex Claromontanus has “But for that which we have attained, to be of the same mind, in the same rule”; the text follows the 3rd century papyri P16 and P46, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), and Freerianus (I 016), except that P16 has “you have attained”.
In other words, we should practice what we do already know and believe to be true. If we compare this epistle to the Philippians to similar teachings of Paul's in other epistles, we see that which Christians had attained to is newness of life in Christ, as Paul had said in Romans chapter 6: “3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” He also spoke in this same manner in Galatians chapter 5: “24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
In verses 11 and 12 of this chapter, Paul denied having already attained the resurrection from the dead, either in fact or as an assurance, and he is also denying that he has already been perfected. Therefore not yet having received the fulfillment of the Christian promises, he only encourages his fellow Christians to walk after that which they had already attained, which are, ostensibly, the instructions and exhortations of Christ in the Gospel. That is the least obligation of Christians seeking fulfillment. For that reason he says:
17 You should together become imitators of me, brethren, and consider those walking in this manner just as you have us for an example.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 4 Paul had exhorted his readers: “15 Although you may have a myriad of tutors among the Anointed, certainly not many fathers; indeed in Christ Yahshua through the good message I have begotten you. 16 Therefore I encourage you, become imitators of me.” Then in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 he exhorted them to “1 Become imitators of me, just as also I am of Christ.” Likewise, in his first epistle to the Thessalonians, in chapter 1: “6 And you have become imitators of us and of the Prince, accepting the Word in much tribulation with joy of the Holy Spirit.” Then also, in the opening verses of Ephesians chapter 5: “1 Therefore you must be imitators of Yahweh, as beloved children, 2 and walk in love, just as Christ has also loved us, and surrendered Himself on our behalf”. Finally, in chapter 6 of his epistle to the Hebrews Paul had urged: “11 But we desire each of you to display that same eagerness, regarding the certainty of the expectation, until fulfillment; 12 that you would not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience are inheriting the promises.” There, by “those inheriting the promises”, he must have been exhorting his Israelite brethren to follow those who had already accepted the Gospel of Christ. So in this same fashion, Paul exhorts the Philippians here to become imitators of him. But imitating Paul, Paul himself professed to be imitating Christ, and to understand how that is accomplished we must look to the examples that Paul had already offered here as models for what he wants the Philippians to imitate.
The overall theme of this epistle is the importance of individual self-sacrifice for the benefit of the Body of Christ. That is what we had seen in Philippians chapter 1, where Paul discussed the possibility that he may even die for the testimony of the Gospel which he had presented in Rome, and in that manner he exhorted his readers to “stand in one spirit, in one soul together striving in the faith of the good message... in nothing being frightened by the opposition, which to them is an indication of destruction, but of your preservation”. He offered the Philippians to engage in the same struggle that he was involved in, in which Christ had also suffered. Then in the second chapter of this epistle Paul encouraged them to self-sacrifice, where he informed them that if there were any encouragement, consolation of love, fellowship of the Spirit, affections and compassions among them that they would be like-minded, having the same love which in the first chapter Paul had described both himself and Christ as having exhibited for them, and that having humility they consider the needs of one another above themselves, which is the essence of brotherly love. Paul then assured the Philippians that if they did all of those things without complaint, that they would in turn ensure their own mutual preservation. Saying these things, Paul had once again offered Christ Himself as the ultimate example, and then the self-sacrifice of his fellow-worker Epaphroditos, whom Paul described as being sick nearly to the point of death in consequence of his work on behalf of the assembly. Now here in Philippians chapter 3, Paul explains the former life which he had abandoned for sake of the Gospel, and that too was an act of self-sacrifice for the benefit of the body of Christ. So this is what Paul wanted the Philippians to imitate, to also forsake their own lives for the sake of their brethren.
Now he warns them here concerning the nature of the enemies of Christ, who would seek to corrupt them from such a path:
18 Many are walking, whom I often told you of, and now even weeping I speak of those enemies [P46 has “...even weeping I speak: you must watch those enemies”] of the cross of Christ, 19 of whom the end is destruction, whose god is the belly, and expectation in their disgrace, those minding the things of the earth [literally “upon earth”].
In the first century the Judaizers were the primary proponents of salvation by rituals, ceremonies and circumcision. However an investigation into the development of the Roman Catholic Church and its own forms of sacramentalism would reveal that it too was very much affected by the same attitudes of the Judaizers in relation to rituals and salvation. This helped to precipitate the development of the organized Catholic priesthood, which was also derived from a pagan priesthood that itself needed to bind men to rituals and ceremonies, in order to assure its own survival. The attitudes of the Judaizers are with us to this very day, even among Identity Christians.
Seeking righteousness from of the faith of Christ, Christians keep His commandments, love their brethren, and in regards to their brethren they seek to conduct their lives according to the instructions which Christ had given at the Sermon on the Mount, which reflect the proper Christian demeanor of self-sacrifice for the purpose of the edification of one's brethren, the Body of Christ. For this Christ had said, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 16, “25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
But seeking righteousness from rituals and ceremonies, which are the works of their own hands, Christians succumb to what Paul had described in Romans chapter 16 where he had said: “18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Those who seek to impose the works of the flesh onto Christians, such as rituals and ceremonies and circumcision, lead men to imagine that their righteousness comes from the performance of those things, and in that manner they deceive and they seek to control men. So also in that manner they live to serve their own bellies, making their livings by binding men to rituals with the idea that their own works can somehow save them. For that reason Christ had said, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 23: “25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.”
Men who seek righteous from of the faith in Christ sacrifice themselves for the edification of their brethren, whether their gifts be spiritual or material. Men who seek righteousness from rituals, ceremonies and the works of the law act only on their own behalf thinking that through these things they can save themselves. Then doing these things, they hand over control to the priesthood, or to professional so-called “pastors”, effectively denying Christ Himself because they neglect to take up their own cross and follow Him, imitating Him. Men who seek to save their own lives by having their justification through ceremonies and rituals shall lose them. Men who deny their own lives through self-sacrifice for the edification and preservation of the body of Christ shall find them. So self-sacrifice is the way to life. But self-justification is vanity.
20 Of us the government in the heavens exists, from which also we are anxiously expecting a savior: Prince Yahshua Christ,
The phrase “Of us the government in the heavens exists” is an absolutely literal translation of the corresponding Greek clause ἡμῶν γὰρ τὸ πολίτευμα ἐν οὐρανοῖς ὑπάρχει. The Greek word πολίτευμα (Strong's # 4175) appears only this one time in canonical Scripture. Liddell & Scott define the word to mean “business of government, act of administration”, and then also government or even the citizens themselves, of a particular government, the citizenship or the body of citizens. It is hard to imagine why the King James Version rendered the same phrase “For our conversation is in heaven”, except for the need of its translators to uphold the artificial Anglican Church structure. But the word πολίτευμα is a political word which means much more than mere conduct or conversation.
The government in the heavens consists not of those priests who would rule over men with the dispensation of rituals, but rather it consists of the faithful in Christ who pray to their God that “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven”, and who have an obligation to put into effect that very prayer through their own earthly conduct. The apostle Peter informs us that all Christians are members of a common priesthood where he said in his first epistle “But you are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, so that you should proclaim the virtues for which from out of darkness you have been called into the wonder of His light” (1 Peter 2:9). But the professional priests have denied the priesthood of God. Following Christ, however, all men become like servants to their own Christian Israel brethren, and in this manner they serve as priests to God.
Within the context of this chapter, by asserting that the savior which Christians may expect is Yahshua Christ, Paul is once again asserting that there is no salvation in the works of the flesh, which are the rituals and ceremonies of the law. There is no salvation in circumcision, because, as Paul had explained earlier in this epistle, the true circumcision are those of the children of Israel who love Christ and keep His commandments.
Then, speaking of the Christ which Christians anxiously await, Paul says:
21 who will change the form of our body of humiliation, conformed [the MT has “for it to become conformed”; the text follows א, A, B, and D] to the body of His honor, in accordance with the operation of which He is able even to subject all things to Himself.
One may interpret this thinking that Paul is referring to the collective body, that Christians would come from a humble state to rule over the world. But rather, Paul is referring to the bodies of individuals, as he had also referred to the restoration of the bodies of the children of God to the glory which he had also described in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, where he wrote: “51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So corruption is the form of our body of humiliation, and incorruption is the form of the honor of Christ our Savior. As the Scripture says in Isiah chapter 25 “ 8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.” It also says in Hosea chapter 13, “14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.” So it also says in the Revelation of Jesus Christ: “4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Now there are Christians who claim that the resurrection has already happened, which Paul refutes explicitly in 2 Timothy 2:18. Among them there are also those who also claim that the coming of Christ happened at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. But they would be hard-pressed to describe how the immortality of which Paul has written here, which is also promised by Isaiah, Hosea, and Yahshua Christ Himself, has already been fulfilled, or how the bodies of all Christians had somehow changed when Titus had destroyed Jerusalem. In fact, those contentions are a distraction, and Christians should remain steadfast in their hope to see the actual fulfillment of these things, which Paul evidently did not expect until a remnant of Christians could “appear as luminaries in Society” amidst a “race crooked and perverted”, as he described in Philippians chapter 2. And for this he encourages them in the opening verse of Philippians chapter 4:
1 Therefore, my beloved and longed for brethren, my joy and crown, in this manner you stand fast in the Prince, beloved [D wants “beloved”; B has “my beloved”].
Likewise Paul had told these Philippians in chapter 1 of this epistle: “8 For my witness is Yahweh, that I yearn for you all in the affections of Christ Yahshua.” Paul considered the Philippians to be his beloved brethren, but he also considered them to be his crown and his joy. While various Christians have various talents and hope to gain treasure in heaven by employing those talents to help their brethren in various ways for their edification, Paul's own God-given mission was the spread of the Gospel to the lost tribes of the children of Israel. A crown was often dispensed as a reward for those running a race in ancient times. Likewise the apostle James in his epistle described the reward in Christ as a “crown of life”, and Paul described those running a literal race in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 as doing so for a corruptible crown, while Christians sought an incorruptible crown. Therefore Paul saw the Philippians not only as his beloved brethren, but the fact that they were in Christ due to his labors also made them, in part, his crown: the substance of the prize for which he gave chase, as he described it in verse 14 of chapter 3, performing that task which Yahweh had given him to fulfill. Of course, other Christians with differing talents and different missions in life should perceive the fruits of their labors and the attainment of their own crowns in differing ways. Not everyone could possibly be a Paul of Tarsus, for which reason Paul himself described the differing spiritual gifts, in 1 Corinthians chapter 12.
Continuing with verse 2 of Philippians chapter 4:
2 I summon Euodia, and I summon Suntucha, to be of the same mind in the Prince.
There is no other mention for either of these women in Paul's letters or in the accounts in Acts. The name Euodia means good journey (not fragrant, as so many wrongly assume), and Suntucha literally means with fortune. Evidently, Paul having received a letter from Philippi which he is responding to here, these women must have had some disagreement of which Paul was informed, or even asked to resolve. We can imagine that he probably did resolve it in the text of his response here, even without his having addressed it directly. From verse 3 it is evident that Paul once knew these women, as he says that they had contended with him in the Gospel. He continues to address others at Philippi:
3 Yea, I ask you also, genuine yoke-fellow, assist them, who with me contended together in the good message, and with Klementos and the rest of my colleagues, whose names are in the Book of Life.
This is the only reference to the Book of Life in Scripture outside of the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, which, according to all verifiable sources, was not written for at least another thirty years. However the concept is found in the Old Testament, for example in Proverbs chapter 6: “23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” Likewise in Ezekiel chapter 33 we see sinners are exhorted to “walk in the statutes of life”.
The 3rd century papyrus P16 and the Codex Sinaiticus (א) have the last clause of this verse to read “...and with Klementos my colleague and the rest of those whose names are in the Book of Life.” The name Clement is not Greek, but Roman, from a word meaning mercy, from which we also have the English word clemency. Some Catholic traditions claim that he is the same as the later bishop of Rome, who held his office at the very end of the 1st century. This man, being a colleague of Paul's here in the early 60's AD, would had to have lived a very long time to be the same Clement of Rome, and we find the identification unlikely. Furthermore, the earliest Christian writers disagree in their own records of the early bishops of Rome, and they themselves were writing a hundred years after Clement of Rome.
The identity of the genuine yoke-fellow whom Paul addresses here is unknown, and there can only be conjecture as to whom it may have been. Some think it is Epaphroditos, but that is not credible since Epaphroditos is with Paul as he writes this, and he is the bearer of this epistle to Philippi. Others think it is some woman who helped Paul, but the description consists of only words of the masculine gender in Greek, so it must refer to a man. However it is evident in 1 Timothy chapter 5 that a bishop is responsible for taking care of widows who are admitted into the service of the assembly, and therefore whoever this yoke-fellow is, he is a former comrade of Paul's who is now apparently the leader, or bishop, of this Christian assembly at Philippi. This seems to be corroborated by the fact that Paul addresses him here directly, in the second person, and not in the third person, perhaps expecting him to be the one first reading this epistle.
4 Rejoice in the Prince at all times. Again I will say, rejoice. 5 Your moderation must be known to all men. The Prince is near.
The “Prince is near”, as Paul had always taught that the coming of Christ was imminent, which reflects what Christ Himself had wanted His apostles to teach.
The Greek word ἐπιεικής (Strong's # 1933) is a Substantive here, moderation. The adjective is “fitting, meet, suitable… [or] reasonable”, according to Liddell & Scott, and used as an adverb it is fairly or tolerably. The same word is patient in the King James Version where it says in 1 Timothy chapter 3 that a bishop should be: “Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous”. Again it is gentle in that version in several places, including James 3:17: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
So moderation is opposed to brawling, and wisdom should be held in moderation, or in patience and with reason. Here the word is used of nothing in particular, but of Christian deportment in general, that Christians should always behave in moderation, or reasonably, or with patience towards others.
6 Be anxious about nothing, but in everything in prayer and in supplication with thanksgiving you must make your requests known to Yahweh, 7 and the peace of Yahweh, which exceeds all understanding, shall keep your hearts and your thoughts [P16 has “bodies”] in Christ Yahshua.
Where the King James Version has “be careful for nothing” here we read “be anxious about nothing”. The Greek verb, μεριμνάω (Strong's # 3309) is “to care for, be anxious about, think earnestly upon, [or] scan minutely”, according to Liddell & Scott. In the King James Version, the word is care in Paul's writings in 1 Corinthians 12:25 where the apostle had written that the members of the Body of Christ “should have the same care one for another.” So there are things which Christians should care for, as the word is used again by Paul in describing the care which he expected Timothy to have for the Philippians in chapter 2 of this same epistle.
So Christians should indeed have care for one another. But anxiety is a product of the thoughts and fears of men, and Christians should instead lay aside anxiety in favor of prayer and supplications to God. Therefore Peter advised his readers, using this same word, to “6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
Now in verse 8 we see Paul close this epistle for a second time:
8 For what remains, brethren, whatever is true, whatever revered, whatever just, whatever undefiled, whatever dear, whatever auspicious, if any virtue and if any praise [here D interpolates “of knowledge”], take these things into account,
Here Paul employs a similar grammatical style to that which he used at the beginning of chapter 2, perhaps purposely seeking to connect the two lines of thought.
9 which things you also have learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things you do, and Yahweh shall be of peace with you.
Paul seems to be referring to the things which he wrote in this epistle as well as his past contacts with the Philippians. As we explained while presenting chapter 1 of this epistle, Luke spent a considerable time in Philippi, and Paul had stayed there in Acts chapter 16. But he also very likely visited Philippi on some of his other visits to Makedonia, which are only briefly mentioned later in Acts chapters 19 and 20.
10 Now I have rejoiced greatly in the Prince, that some time before this you had rejuvenated your thinking concerning me, although even as you had been thinking, yet you had lacked opportunity.
Paul had last been to Makedonia, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 20, after leaving Ephesus and just before spending the winter in Nicopolis. So it is evident that his last visit to Philippi would have been in the very late months of 56 AD. Now, writing from his house arrest in Rome, it is probably 61 but perhaps as late as early 62 AD. The Philippians being addressed here were not opposed to Paul, but merely lapsed in their communication with him during this time, however as Paul suggests, they may have had a reason for not having the chance to write him.
11 Not that I speak concerning want, for I have learned that in whatever circumstance [literally “in which things”] I am, to be self-sufficient. 12 And I know abasement, and I know abundance.
Paul is writing these things so as to assure the Philippians that it is not because of his own need that he lamented not having heard from them. Doing so, he attests that he can live comfortably regardless of his own needs.
In our translation here, two infinitive verbs, περισσεύειν (Strong's # 4052) and ταπεινοῦσθαι (Strong's # 5013), which mean “to abound” and “to be humbled” respectively, have been treated as substantives and rendered as nouns, “abundance” and “abasement”. Paul is explaining that he has experienced both wealth and poverty, but that he has learned to be happy whether he was in one condition or the other.
I have been initiated in everything and in all things, both to be full and to hunger, both to have abundance and to want.
There are trials in the course of life which we all must face at one time or another, and we must accept those trials contently and look forward to better things, so for this Paul once again offers himself as an example. As Paul writes this epistle, he must have had plenty, since Luke records in Acts chapter 28 that at this time he had “dwelt two whole years in his own hired house.” Therefore Yahweh was providing for Paul in one way and another.
13 For all things I am strong in that which empowers me [the MT has “in Christ who empowers me” (note 1 Timothy 1:12); the text follows א, A, B, D, and I]. 14 Now you have done well having fellowship together in my tribulation.
As we commonly say in English in many different ways, we find out who our true friends are whenever we face a crisis. Here the Philippians have offered Paul encouragement, and have evidently supported and stood by him in his own crisis.
15 But you, Philippesians, also know that in the beginning of the good message, when I had come out from Makedonia, not one assembly had shared with me one thought of giving and receiving except you only, 16 seeing that also in Thessalonika both once, then twice, you sent for my necessity.
We commonly say Philippians, from the Roman method of nomenclature, however the Greek form of the word is more properly transliterated as Philippesians. Saying “in the beginning of the good message, when I had come out from Makedonia”, Paul must be referring to his departure from Philippi and entry into Thessalonika, recorded at the end of Acts chapter 16 and beginning of chapter 17.
All of the manuscripts have here εἰς λόγον δόσεως, for which the King James Version has “as concerning giving”, reading ΕΙΣ as the preposition, εἰς. If I had read ΕΙΣ as a preposition, I may have literally written “for a thought of giving”. Instead, I have chosen instead to read ΕΙΣ as the cardinal number εἷς rather than as the preposition and write “one thought of giving”. The difference between the εἰς as a preposition and the ordinal number εἷς is only in the accents, which would not have been found in the original manuscripts. Our reading seems to better fit the context where the word is contrasted to the ordinal numbers once and twice later in the passage.
In the opening verses of his first epistle to the Thessalonians, which is the earliest of all of Paul's epistles and which was written while he was in Corinth, Paul had mentioned his prior experience in Philippi. In the opening of that epistle Paul, speaking of the time he spent in Thessalonika, had also said that “5 Neither were we ever with a word of flattery, even as you know, nor with a pretense of covetousness: Yahweh is witness; 6 nor seeking honor from men, neither from you nor from others.” So while the account of Paul's ministry in Thessalonika as it is recorded in Acts chapter 17 is quite brief, it is evident from his epistle to them that while Paul was there he had asked for nothing of the Thessalonians. But here in this epistle to the Philippians, we see that Paul was supported by the Philippians during the time of his ministry in Thessalonika, and he commends them here for that support. Here from Paul's statements in this epistle, where Paul states that the Philippians had sent to him twice to provide for his support while he was in Thessalonika, it is also evident that Paul had spent much more time there than may be perceived in Luke's account as it appears in Acts chapter 17.
Likewise, although Paul does not mention it here, he informs us elsewhere that the assemblies of the Macedonians had also supported him while he preached in Corinth, where he had told the Corinthians in chapter 11 of his second epistle to them that “And being present with you and wanting, I had burdened no one, (indeed my need had been filled by the brethren who came from Makedonia,) and in everything I have kept and will keep myself unburdensome to you.”
Here, Paul continues to speak concerning the support which the Philippians had provided:
17 Not that I seek after the gift, but I seek after the fruit that is abounding to your account.
Paul asserts that through their Christian giving, the Philippians shall be rewarded by God.
18 Now I abstain from all things, yet I abound.
The King James Version has at the beginning of this verse the phrase “But I have all”, and most other translations are similar. But the verb is ἀπέχω (Strong's # 566), which is “to keep off or away from...to keep apart, part...to hold oneself off...abstain or desist from...”, according to Liddell & Scott, and the word ἐχω (Strong's # 2192) by itself, without the prefix, is sufficient to say I have. What we believe Paul is saying is that he abounds, although he lives an austere lifestyle and therefore has little to need. So where he continues by saying “I am full”, if he had meant to say “I have all” at the beginning of the verse, he is only being repetitious, which we certainly may doubt. Paul continues:
I am full, receiving from Epaphroditos the things from you, an essence of sweet odor, an acceptable sacrifice well-pleasing to Yahweh.
Although Paul made no explicit mention of it earlier in this epistle, we have already explained that he must have received something from the Philippians, which was brought to him by Epaphroditos. Here we see that along with a letter, the Philippians had also sent Paul further support for his own sustenance. So while they have frequently provided for his needs, he prays in turn that God continues to provide for them:
19 Now my God will fill all of your necessities in accordance with His riches in honor in Christ Yahshua, 20 and to our God and Father is honor for eternity. Truly.
The overarching theme of this epistle being self-sacrifice for the edification of the body of Christ, Paul is ending this epistle with the example of the Philippians themselves, illustrating that they have also sacrificed of themselves to provide for him in the execution of his ministry. This must also have been encouraging to them.
Paul concludes with a salutation:
21 Greet every saint among the number of Christ Yahshua. The brethren with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, and most of all, those of the household of Caesar. 23 The favor of our Prince Yahshua Christ is with your Spirits [the MT has “is with all of you” rather than “is with your Spirits”; the text follows P46, א, A, B, and D]. Truly. [B want “Amen”, or “Truly”. The text follows P46, א, A, D, and the MT.]
So we see at the very end of this epistle, that in giving his defense of the faith at the Praetorium at Rome, Paul must have reached even some of the household of Caesar Nero himself, and won them over to the cause of the Gospel in Christ.
In British Israel literature, there is some conjecture as to the identity of these individuals of the household of Caesar, which we find to be in error, and therefore we will not present it here. We have already explained it in some degree in our presentation of Romans chapter 16, and, Yahweh willing, will seek to correct it more fully at some other time. Perhaps when we make our presentation of Paul's first epistle to Timothy.