The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, one of the most intimate of all his letters, opens with utmost simplicity: “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.” Following the custom of polite correspondence and in keeping with his other letters, this epistle begins by stating the name of the author, including those who joined with him, and indicating those to whom it is being sent. Because it is more in the nature of a personal letter than a theological treatise, the description of Paul as an apostle found in most of the Pauline letters is omitted, and he describes himself and Timothy1 merely as servants (literally, “slaves”) of Jesus Christ. The letter is being sent to all the saints at Philippi described by the Pauline expression “in Christ Jesus.” Significant is the addition of the bishops or overseers, and deacons, indicating that the letter is especially addressed to the officers of the church. This is indicative of the fact that the church at Philippi is now well organized and no longer a mission point.
As is characteristic of Paul in all his epistles, he extends to them the apostolic greeting: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” One of the wonders of the Word of God is how much can be said in a few words. The two words grace and peace express to an infinite degree the heart of salvation in Christ. Grace is not only a relationship to God, a righteous standing with God, but it is also an experience of God’s favor toward us, His love, and all that is comprehended in redemption. It is righteous favor as opposed to righteous judgment. The Philippians had come to know the grace of God through Paul the apostle of grace. In similar character the word peace represents what we have and are in Christ. The saints at Philippi had peace with God through Jesus Christ, and it was possible for them to have the peace of God that passeth all understanding as Paul declares to them in chapter four. Grace and peace are the heritage of all who have Christian faith, and in his apostolic greeting Paul indicates his desire for the Philippian Christians to enter fully into the meaning of these words. Grace and peace come from God our Father as the originator and the Lord Jesus Christ as the mediator.
Rejoicing In Their Fellowship In The Gospel (1:3-7)
In keeping with the character of the entire epistle which is essentially a word of thanks to them for their gift, gratitude is expressed to God for them. In verse three he expresses this: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” As he contemplated the grace of God working through him which had led to their salvation, the formation of the church, the dramatic deliverance from the Philippian jail, and their subsequent growth and development, Paul’s heart was filled with a symphony of praise and thankfulness to God. The fact of their continuance in the gospel was especially in his mind as he writes: “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” One of the remarkable facts of Paul’s epistles is the evidence of the extensive prayer ministry of Paul. Though separated from the churches which he had ministered to, he faithfully remembered them in prayer, not simply as a group, but by name. No doubt his confinement in prison had enlarged his prayer ministry. He not only prayed for them, but he thanked God for the answers to prayer received as manifested in their lives.
The significant words “every” in verse three and “all” in verse four are worthy of note. Every thought of the Philippian church that crossed his mind was an occasion for thanksgiving to God, and every prayer for any one of them was an occasion for joy. It was not that everyone in the Philippian church was perfect, but in each person there was the wonderful fruit of the grace of God, growth in spiritual things, and an attitude of love toward the apostle.
Members of the church today may well ask the pointed question: “Does my pastor thank God for me?” How much it means to spiritual leaders to have the sympathetic understanding and appreciation of those to whom they minister. This relationship is expressed in the words: “Your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” They had not only been recipients of the gospel, but they had labored with Paul in the task of bringing the gospel to others. They had shared the blessed truth of the gospel and they had shared the task of its extension. Further, they had had fellowship with him in financial needs, having sent aid to him on a number of occasions.
With this unmistakable evidence of a work of salvation in their hearts he expresses his confidence that God will continue to work in them and through them until the day of Jesus Christ. He states this in verse six: “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.” In these words Paul expresses not only his own assurance as to their salvation, but his confidence of their security in Christ. He contemplates the goal of their salvation as being achieved at the day of Jesus Christ.
This expression “the day of Jesus Christ” is found with some variation three times in the Epistle to the Philippians and three other times in Paul’s epistles (1 Cor. 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6, 10; 2:16). Judging by the context, this expression seems to refer to the time of Christ’s coming for His church when living Christians will be translated and the dead in Christ shall be raised. It is to be contrasted with the expression “the day of the Lord” which refers to the time of judgment and the righteous rule of Christ on earth in His millennial kingdom. The work, which God had begun in the Philippian church, in Paul’s mind was considered as moving majestically forward until it reached its acme in their presentation in glory when Christ comes for His own.
The apostle further substantiates his confidence in them in verse seven when he writes: “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.” His judgment of their security in Christ springs first of all from the fact that the Philippian Christians are objects of his love, whom God has laid upon the heart of Paul. The suggested alternative translation “because you have me in your heart” does not seem to be well substantiated. It is rather that Paul had the Philippians in his heart even though it was a mutual love. This love had been manifested by Paul toward them, and it had been reciprocated by the Philippian church. Both in his time of imprisonment and in his work in defense and confirmation of the gospel the Philippian church had been partakers of the grace of God which Paul had declared to them. They had shared both his sufferings and his ministry. Their works were not the grounds of the grace of God to them, but they were the evidence, and in this Paul rejoices and contemplates with joy the consummation of their redemption in glory.
Prayer For Abounding Love (1:8-11)
Although the Apostle Paul is abundantly satisfied with the salvation and growth in grace of the Philippian church, he still longs for their continued development and maturity in Christ. He introduces this in verse eight with the words: “For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” His love for them is in proportion to the tender compassions of Christ. The heart of the apostle is laid bare in the touching statement of his prayer objectives for the Philippian church as contained in verses nine, ten, and eleven. “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;2 that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” The frequent reference to the prayer life of the Apostle Paul and the burden of his petitions to the Lord as contained in his epistles are more than just an expression of Paul’s own objectives. Frequently they state succinctly the very essence of the spiritual life and the goals that are properly before us as we grow in grace. In his Ephesian letter he prays for wisdom and power (Eph. 1:16-23) and that they may be rooted and grounded in love (Eph. 3:14-19). Similarly, here he prays that their love may abound.
In listing the fundamentals of Christian faith, too often the itemization is limited to fundamental theology to the neglect of the fundamentals of spiritual life. In his epistles, while fully sustaining theological essentials, the apostle constantly emphasizes the need for love as a fruit of the Spirit. In this his exhortation is in keeping with the new commandment given by Christ to His disciples summarized by our Lord in the upper room in the words: “That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). Christ further declared: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). There are many evidences of the Christian life such as Paul had already enumerated in his description of the Philippian church. Undoubtedly the Philippian Christians did love one another. The apostle is concerned, however, lest this be limited and perfunctory. The real ties that bound them together were not similar beliefs or common tasks, it was a love which came from the heart of God. There are many ills in modern Christianity, some theological, some ecclesiastical, some moral, and many problems afflict the church of Jesus Christ. Undoubtedly one of the greatest needs, however, is a genuine love for those who share with us faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
As Paul points out, however, what he sought in prayer for the Philippian Christians was not simply a sentiment, but it was “in knowledge [lit., full knowledge] and in all judgment.” It was a discerning kind of love, a love that had real depth and character. It was not an unreasoning sentiment, but that which sprang from spiritual discernment and recognition of the grace of God that had operated in their relationships.
This attitude of divine love one toward another was to manifest itself in various ways. In verse ten he describes it as governing their walk; “That ye may approve3 things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till4 the day of Christ.” Here again the Apostle Paul holds before them the objective of the day of Christ and the consummation of Christian life and faith. In view of the fact that life is temporary and time is precious, the apostle wants them to approve things that are excellent, that is, to apply to the choices and decisions of life spiritual discernment which will lead them to make the right decisions. This in turn will lead to their being “sincere and without offence.”
The word sincere (Gr. eilikrineis) is a word containing the idea of sunlight. If pictures taking an object for examination into the broad light of day in order to prove it genuine. In our lives it means submitting to the searching light of the Word of God in order to be shown pure and capable of standing the test of full exposure. The result will be that one will be judged blameless or without offense at the judgment seat of Christ. The standard which Paul suggests is far above the common question: “Is this wrong?” It is rather the question: “Is this right?” or “Is this the will of God?” The Philippian Christians are urged to look at life from God’s viewpoint and from the standpoint of God’s standards. Nothing short of a holy life, a life motivated by love and guided by eternal values, was acceptable to Paul.
In verse eleven the apostle sums up the resultant fullness of life in the words: “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” In achieving the goals of abounding in love one toward another, of manifesting holiness and usefulness in Christian life, the Philippian Christians would be characterized as a fruit tree loaded with fruit. This would be made possible by their relationship to Jesus Christ. Worthy of commendation, they would be unto the glory and praise of God.
In this opening section of the epistle two major aspects of the Christian life are emphasized. The one is the certainty of salvation based on the finished work of Christ and the grace of God, manifested in the Philippian church by the evident work of grace in their lives. Assured of their salvation, the apostle now challenges them to realize to the full the excellencies of Christian character and life embodied in love, holiness, and service.
Paul’s Imprisonment Furthers The Gospel (1:12-18)
In verse twenty of the first chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians one of the great affirmations of the letter comes from the pen of the apostle when he states: “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” This statement forms the heart of the discussion by Paul of one of the profound questions which faces the Christian faith: Why does a loving heavenly Father permit His children to suffer? It is impossible to estimate the number of people who are suffering in one way or another in one generation. Millions live in constant fear. Other millions never know what it is to have enough to eat. Probably the majority of the earth’s population never have comfortable homes or adequate clothing. Human suffering is one of the obvious facts of life. Many attempts have been made to analyze the problem of suffering, but only the Bible has an authoritative answer. According to Scripture, suffering springs from the fact of sin, from a world which is out of the will of God in which suffering and death are the natural consequences. The disobedience of Adam and Eve, created in sinless perfection, but choosing to disobey God, plunged the whole race into sin. Sin has come by the choice of man rather than by act of God.
The particular problem to which Paul addresses himself is not that of suffering in general, but suffering in the life of a child of God. It is not too difficult to understand why those who are ungodly, who have rejected Christ and Biblical standards, should suffer. The more pointed question is why a child of God who has received divine grace and forgiveness of sins should nevertheless suffer. Here again we are shut up to Scripture for a sure answer. In this portion of Paul’s letter to the Philippians he is dealing with this precise question.
It should be clear to all that Paul is not suffering because he is a sinner. Nor has he transgressed the law of God in such a way as to have brought the suffering upon himself. It is rather that his suffering springs from his dedication to Christ and because he had been faithful in preaching the gospel. In the performance of the will of God he had run into conflict with the desires of evil men, and this explains his imprisonment. Because the principles of human suffering affect the lives of so many, Paul wants the Philippian church to understand that his suffering has a proper cause and is being used by God to His glory. The discussion of Paul should be seen in the light of the general answer that the Word of God gives to the reasons for suffering in the lives of His children.
There are a number of differing causes for suffering in the life of a child of God. Paul himself bears witness to this fact, and some of the other reasons can be observed elsewhere in Scripture. In some instances God allows suffering in the lives of His children to encourage in them a life of close fellowship with Himself and as a means of reminding them of their place of dependence upon the power and grace of God. The practical effect of this type of suffering is that it keeps the Christian from sinning and prevents departure from God that otherwise might have eventuated. This is illustrated in Paul’s own experience of having a thorn in the flesh. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 the apostle reveals that he had a “thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me.” He also explains that though he had besought the Lord three times in a formal way that this thorn in the flesh might be removed, God had replied to him: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The necessity of the thorn in the flesh was to keep him from being “exalted above measure” because of the great revelations given him when he was caught up into the third heaven. Paul’s experience, therefore, is an illustration of preventive sufferings.
Another type of suffering is in the form of chastening or discipline of a child of God by his Heavenly Father. In this case the child of God has wandered from the will of God and the discipline in the form of suffering is designed to bring him back into a state of righteous living. This type of suffering illustrated in the life of David is corrective in principle and designed to restore a sinning saint to a life of fellowship.
Still another kind of suffering revealed in Scripture is that which is permitted to instruct the saint. The Book of Job is an outstanding illustration of this. Though described as a perfect man and a righteous man by God, suffering is permitted in the life of Job, not only to demonstrate his faithfulness to God, but also to teach Job many lessons that otherwise he would not have learned. The fruits of such suffering are declared in Romans 5:3-4; “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.” The lessons learned in suffering often can be achieved in no other way.
Suffering is sometimes allowed in the life of a child of God as a means for increasing his testimony. The Apostle Paul himself, when he first trusted in the Lord, was informed that he was called to a life of suffering and that through this suffering he would be a testimony for Jesus Christ. Often the presence of suffering in the life of a believer is an occasion for demonstrating his own trust in the Lord and encouragement of others who are in need. The sustaining grace of God manifested in Paul is a testimony to the grace and faithfulness of God in upholding him in his hour of need.
It is in the light of this Scriptural revelation concerning the reasons for permission of suffering in the life of a child of God that Paul presents his own testimony of God’s dealings with him. He writes the Philippian church beginning in verse twelve: “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which have happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.” In other words, instead of hindering his preaching of the gospel God had used his imprisonment as a means of bringing the gospel where otherwise it would not have been heard.
As an instance and proof of this the apostle explains in verse thirteen: “So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places.” Though Paul was in bonds and a prisoner of the Roman government, because he was the Lord’s servant it resulted in a testimony to all those who came in contact with him. The expression “in all the palace” is probably better translated “throughout the whole Praetorian Guard.” This reference, one of the outstanding proofs that he was in Rome, reveals Paul’s testimony to the Praetorian Guard. This guard was a special contingent of soldiers composed of nine cohorts of one thousand men each. It was their special duty to guard prisoners and the various cohorts alternated in fulfilling this responsibility. Though some have taken this expression to refer to Praetorian Palace or to the quarters of the Praetorian Guards, the additional phrase “and in all other places”—better translated, “and to all the rest”—seems to refer to persons rather than places. The imprisonment of Paul, therefore, had resulted in a testimony for the gospel to this elite corps of soldiers, with untold results as some of them were converted to Christ and became in turn witnesses of the gospel.
Not only had his testimony reached the Praetorian Guard, but it had affected also his brethren in the Lord in their testimony. Of this he writes in verse fourteen: “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” The presence of the apostle preaching boldly, even though a prisoner to those who were his guards and keepers, encouraged others who were free on the outside to bear a more faithful testimony to the Lord and to be delivered from fear. To be sure, not all those who preached the gospel did so out of admiration of Paul. The gospel was controversial, and sometimes engendered envy and strife. Paul, however, rejoices in the fact that whether preached well or not the gospel reached some who might not have heard. He therefore writes in verses fifteen to eighteen: “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: the one5 preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add6 affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”
Judging by what Paul says about these who preach Christ moved by envy and strife, the major difficulty was not theological in that they preached another gospel, but rather that their motives were not good. Some of the believers were embarrassed by the fact that Paul was a prisoner and may have been tempted to blame him for his difficulty. His very success in winning some to Christ may have provoked others to envy. Instead of manifesting Christian love and understanding, they were therefore contentious and attempted to disassociate themselves from Paul whose faithfulness in standing for the gospel had resulted in his imprisonment. But all were not of this kind. Paul mentions that there were some who preached in love, recognizing that he was suffering for Christ’s sake. These were encouraged by Paul’s faithfulness and were moved to preach the gospel more faithfully than would otherwise have been the case.
Paul’s conclusion therefore is that regardless of motive Christ is preached, and in this he sincerely rejoices and thanks the Lord that his suffering as a prisoner had resulted in such fruits of the gospel. In this he rejoices now and will continue to rejoice.
Christ Is Magnified (1:19-20)
The beneficial effects of Paul’s sufferings, however, did not tend only to increase Gospel witness in Rome, but, according to his own statement, would result in blessing to Paul himself. This he states in verse nineteen: “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” The very fact that Paul had been in prison had undoubtedly stimulated the prayer of the Philippian church and other friends. His sufferings therefore had been occasion for increased intercession, and he is confident that this would result in his salvation, that is, his deliverance from prison as a result of their faithful prayers. It also was related to the fact that the Holy Spirit of God was undertaken on behalf of Paul and was sustaining him, caring for him in this time of trial.
The apostle, however, saw a far more important result than his deliverance from prison. The factor in his suffering which brought greater satisfaction to him was that through his trial Christ would be magnified. He expresses this hope in verse twenty: “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.” The passionate desire of Paul that at all costs Christ would be glorified is revealed in this statement. Paul wanted his testimony under all circumstances, even imprisonment, to be such that he would never be ashamed of his witness for Christ. He wanted a holy boldness to characterize all his ministry. This boldness had of course led to his imprisonment in the first place, but he was concerned lest his suffering would in anywise dull the keen edge of his testimony. Whether in prison or out of prison he wanted Christ to be magnified in his body.
Just as a magnifying glass brings out the insignificant as well as the more prominent points of excellence in an object, so Paul wanted his life to be such that Christ would be held up to the full view and comprehension of those who observed; in a word, that they would see the perfections of Christ in and through Paul. This he determines to do whether by life or by death. The unstinted devotion and dedication of the Apostle Paul to the will of God is disclosed in his willingness to die if need be for Christ’s sake. He was indeed facing the issue of life or death at Caesar’s judgment seat. Humanly speaking, he might be put to death or he might be released.
To Live Is Christ; To Die Is Gain (1:21-23)
In either event, Paul wanted Christ to be magnified. Accordingly he writes the Philippians: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.” The mainspring of Paul’s life is summed in the word Christ. This represented all for which he was living as well as that for which he was willing to die. To live was for Paul simply to live for Christ and to proclaim the One who had saved him. To die meant only that his life’s ministry was over and that he would go into the presence of his blessed Lord. His only purpose in living was to have fruit through his labor on earth.
The choice of whether to live or to die, however, was not a bitter alternative for Paul. In fact, he is caught between two desires, one to serve his Lord on earth and the other to be in the presence of his Lord in heaven. Between the two he did not know how to choose. He writes in verse twenty-three: “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart,7 and to be with Christ; which is far8 better.” As far as Paul himself was concerned, he is convinced that to be with the Lord would be far better than to enjoy any blessing on earth. To him Christian faith was not an escape, as human life on earth slips through our fingers, but rather it was the utmost goal, the prize to be received, the rest after labors had been finished.
His Confidence Of His Continued Ministry (1:24-26)
He goes on, however, in verse twenty-four to say: “Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” He recognizes that his presence on the earth, permitted by God, was designed for useful ends and that his continuance in life would be a blessing to the Philippian church. God had, however, revealed to the apostle that he would be released and would be able to continue his ministry. He writes the Philippians in verse twenty-five: “And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you for your furtherance and joy of faith.” The sufferings of the Apostle Paul were not simply to eventuate in furtherance of gospel testimony in Rome or in enriched ministry in which he would magnify Christ, but would also have its result in encouraging those who were suffering, in particular the Philippian church.
His confidence that he would be released and return to active ministry and be able to visit the Philippian church again is therefore the ground for his belief that his difficulties would result in their furtherance and joy of faith. His total experience, both of imprisonment and release, would prove to be a blessing to them. He refers to this as their “furtherance.” He means by this that they would proceed further in the Christian life, that there would be more growth in grace and increased knowledge of the truth. It would also, however, result in the joy of their faith. His release and return to them would contribute to their Christian joy. It is another reason why God is leaving him behind to continue his work.
The apostle also expresses confidence that he will visit them again as stated in verse twenty-six: “That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.”9 They would not only have the joy of knowing that he had been released from the prison in answer to their prayers, but the renewal of their fellowship in Christ on the occasion of his visit would result in rejoicing more abundantly.
Exhortation To Unity And Steadfastness (1:27-30)
The coming of the Apostle Paul to Philippi after his release from prison, however, was not only to be an occasion for joy but would also be a time when the Apostle Paul would evaluate their testimony in Christ. With this in view, he exhorts them in verse twenty-seven: “Only let your conversation10 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 striving11 together for the faith of the gospel.” Whether present or absent, the Apostle Paul wanted their conversation, that is, their manner of life, to be in keeping with the precious truths of the gospel. Whether he witnessed this with his own eyes or heard it by the report of others, he wanted their testimony to be that they stood fast in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. Once again his exhortation takes the form of encouragement to unity and oneness of purpose. This unity was to be reflected in their teamwork in proclaiming the gospel of Christ.
One of the important reasons why they needed unity both in mind and testimony was the fact that they faced suffering and persecution in their witness. The apostle, however, encourages them in verse twenty-eight: “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.” To their adversaries the sufferings of the Philippian Christians was a token of divine disapproval. They could not understand how those who were favored by God would be permitted to endure such trials and privations. To the eye of faith, however, it was evident instead that their very opposition and experience of difficulties were proof of their salvation of God. It is a patent fact in Christian experience that many new converts in Christ experience more difficulties in their early days of Christian life than they did before they put their trust in Christ. The Scriptural explanation of course is that now they have an adversary, one who will challenge every step of progress that they make. Such difficulties are permitted by God, even though at the same time He supplies faith and strength to have victory in the time of trial. The existence of enemies of those who would follow Christ is confirming evidence that they are true believers and properly identified as belonging to the Lord Jesus. Such an experience is perfectly normal, and the apostle concludes this chapter with recognition of this in these words: “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” It is part of Christian testimony that those who believe in Christ will also suffer for Christ’s sake. The experience of the Philippian church therefore is not unusual or novel and is in nowise a contradiction of Scriptural revelation. In fact, their very sufferings are illustrated also in the sufferings of Paul, and they share the same conflict with the evil one which Paul is experiencing. This conflict they had witnessed earlier when Paul had been thrown into the Philippian jail, and now the tidings that he is in Rome are similar in import.
Taken as a whole, Paul’s experience then, though one of genuine suffering, has been turned by God to be a blessing. Through Paul’s suffering many heard the gospel who might otherwise not have heard. Through Paul’s suffering others were encouraged to pray for him so that his deliverance from prison would eventuate. In his sufferings also Paul would magnify God in a way that otherwise might not have been possible. Further, his sufferings were to result in blessing to the Philippian church, not only encouraging them in their own path of suffering but binding their hearts all the closer to Paul and the teachings which he had given them. Theirs was a common lot both of faith in the gospel and of the sufferings which resulted. They were fellow soldiers, fellow sufferers, and contenders in the same conflict.
1 Timothy is mentioned as joining with Paul in seven epistles, viz., 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Of the prison epistles only Ephesians omits Timothy’s name.
2 From Gr. aisthesei, found only here in the New Testament, and means perception and discernment.
3 Translation of the dokimazein meaning to test the value, or to approve after testing.
4 Gr. eis, meaning unto or in respect to.
5 In the best Greek texts verses sixteen and seventeen appear in reverse order, verse seventeen coming first. The order of the text used in the A.V. follows the order of thought in verse fifteen. In either case the meaning is the same.
6 The best texts have egeirein meaning to arouse or stir up rather than epitherein meaning to add or to bring. Those preaching Christ contentiously would stir up trouble for Paul who was already in bonds.
7 Gr. analusai, meaning to loosen. It is a figure of loosing the ropes on a ship about to sail.
8 Gr. polloi mallon kreisson, a double comparative, meaning much more the better.
9 Considerable evidence supports the idea that Paul was released from his first imprisonment in keeping with his hope expressed here, undertook a fourth missionary journey which took him as far as Spain, only to be rearrested, tried, and executed. Details of Paul’s experience mentioned in Titus and 1 and 2 Timothy seem to have occurred after the close of Acts. He mentions a visit to Crete (Titus 1:5), spending the winter in Nicopolis (Titus 3:12), a trip to Macedonia not mentioned in Acts (1 Tim. 1:3), a visit to Troas and Miletus (2 Tim. 4:13-20), and an earler deliverance from death when on trial (2 Tim. 4:16-17). Among the early fathers, Eusebius as well as Clement of Rome, Chrysostomus, and Hieronymus supported this view. Paul also seems to have complete confidence in his coming release on stating “I know” (from Gr. oida, which implies certain knowledge).
10 Gr. politeuesthe meaning to live as a citizen, i.e., to live as a good citizen in the Christian community.
11 Gr. sunathlountes meaning striving, or playing the game energetically, as in an athletic contest. Cf. “conflict” (v. 30) Gr. agon, referring to the exertion of an athletic contest.