The Commentaries

of John Calvin

on the Epistle to the



The Commentaries of Calvin on the Epistles of Paul are generally considered to be among the most successful of his Expositions of Scripture. In the writings, indeed, of one whose vast powers have been applied to the exposition of nearly the whole of the Inspired Volume, and whose rare endowments, as an interpreter of Scripture, have drawn forth expressions of the profoundest admiration even from the most inveterate adversaries of the system of doctrine maintained by him, there is room for some diversity of opinion as to the particular portions of Divine truth which he has most successfully expounded. It is mentioned by M. Teissier, in his extracts from M. de Thou’s History, f1 that “although all the works of Calvin have merited the esteem of persons of good taste, he has in the opinion of some succeeded best in unfolding the doctrine of Providence,”while, according to Joseph Scaliger, who “reckoned Calvin to have had a divine genius, and to have excelled in the explication of Scripture, so that no one among the ancients could be compared”to him, “the best of his theological treatises was his Commentary on Daniel.”

While, however, there may be some difference of opinion among the many admirers of Calvin as to the particular portion of his expository writings, in which his vast powers shine forth to most advantage, there can be no question that his expositions of the Epistles of Paul are singularly felicitous. It is stated by Tholuck, in his view of Calvin as an interpreter of the Holy Scriptures, that among his Commentaries on the new Testament, “those on the Epistles of Paul are by far the best,”and that “in the Pauline Epistles, he merges himself in the spirit of the Apostle, and becoming one with him, as every one clearly feels, he deduces everywhere the explanation of that which is particular from that which is general.” f2 A similar view of the peculiar excellence of Calvin’s expositions of the Epistles of Paul is given by Böhmer, of Berlin, in his introduction to the Epistle to the Colossians, (as quoted by the late Dr. Pye Smith, in his encomium on the writings of Calvin.) “John Calvin well merited the epithet, often given to him, of The Great Divine. Independent, in the highest degree, of other men, he most often discerns, with piercing eye, the spiritual mind of Paul, and with his masterly command of language, makes it so clear, that both the most learned student of theology, and the plain affectionate believer, are equally benefited and satisfied.” f3

That the Expository Treatises of Calvin on Paul’s Epistles should be considered by the most eminent critics to be peculiarly successful is the more remarkable, when we take into view the disadvantageous circumstances under which most, if not all, of them were prepared. His Commentaries on six of Paul’s Epistles were written by him (as we are informed by Beza, in his Life of Calvin f4) in 1548, a year of most harassing conflict with the enemies of the truth. His Correspondence, however, at this period, clearly shews that his devout mind found tranquility in an assurance of Divine support. In writing to Brentius, who was then living in exile at Basle, he says: “Amidst all these calamities one consideration supports and refreshes my mind: I assure myself that God, in commencing the wonderful restoration of his Church, which we have witnessed, has not held out a vain and transient hope to us, but has begun a work that he will not fail to accomplish in spite of the malice of men and the opposition of Satan. In the meantime let us patiently undergo the purification which is necessary for us.” f5 It manifestly appears, also, from the Dedicatory Epistle prefixed to his Commentaries on four of Paul’s Epistles, addressed to Christopher, Duke of Wirtemberg, that he had found the Epistles of Paul peculiarly consoling to his mind amidst outward troubles. Calvin is thought, indeed, to have had a marked resemblance in disposition and character to the great Apostle of the Gentiles, so that he has been termed by an eloquent writer, f6 “the Paul of the Reformation,”— a circumstance which is thought to have contributed to render him more successful in the exposition of Paul’s’ Epistles, while, as is justly observed by the Translator of Calvin on Galatians and Ephesians in the Biblical Cabinet, (vol. 30.) “the chief cause unquestionably lay in his singularly clear perception of that system of doctrine which Paul was honored to declare.”

The Epistle To The Philippians stands associated with a most interesting event in the history of the progress of Christianity. While the charge given to the Apostles as to the universal promulgation of the Gospel was most explicit, it was in a gradual manner, and for the most part under the guidance of circumstances seemingly fortuitous, that their sphere of labor was extended. “Beginning at Jerusalem,”(<422447>Luke 24:47,) as expressly instructed by their Master, they would, to all appearance, have continued to pursue their labors in and around that city, had not occurrences taken place from time to time, and these, too, of an untoward nature, considered in themselves, which led them to extend the benefits of the Gospel to countries more and more remote from their original sphere of labor.

Philippi was the first place in Europe in which the Gospel of Christ was proclaimed, and it is sufficiently manifest from Luke’s narrative, that the introduction of the Gospel at that time into Europe was not the result of any preconcerted plan on the part of the Apostles themselves. Had they been left to their own choice, they would, it appears, have disseminated the Gospel in Bithynia, or some other province of Asia Minor; but, instead of this, they were specially directed by the Spirit of God to “come over into Macedonia,”(<441609>Acts 16:9,) by which means the Gospel was for the first time introduced into Europe. And when we consider the important place which Europe has held during so many ages in connection with the progress of Christianity, and more especially the high honor assigned to European Christians, as being chiefly instrumental in its diffusion throughout the world, we cannot fail to mark with deep interest the circumstances connected with the first preaching of the Gospel at Philippi. “The little rill,”says Foster, “near the source of one of the great American rivers, is an interesting object to the traveler, who is apprized, as he steps across it, or walks a few miles along its bank, that this is the stream which runs so far, and which gradually swells into so immense a flood.” f7 For a similar reason, the preaching of the Gospel by Paul in the hearing of a few women by a river’s side near Philippi, trivial as the circumstance may appear in itself, becomes invested with the deepest interest, when viewed in connection with the state and prospects of Christianity at the present day.

While Luke makes mention only of two individuals — Lydia and the Jailer — with their respective households, as the fruits of the first preaching of the Gospel at Philippi, it clearly appears, from the Epistle to the Philippians, that from these small beginnings a flourishing Christian Church had sprung up, which, at the time when the Epistle was written, was in so prosperous a state, that the Apostle, who reproves so sharply the Churches of Corinth and Galatia, finds no occasion for censuring the Philippians, but commends in the highest terms their exemplary deportment.

Philippi was originally called Crenides, from the numerous fountains of water in its neighborhood, and afterwards Dathos, or Datos, from its gold and silver mines. The city received the name of Philippi from Philip, father of Alexander the Great, by whom it was rebuilt and greatly enlarged. It is celebrated in profane history, as is noticed by Calvin in the Argument on the Epistle to the Philippians, for a signal victory which was gained by Octavius, afterwards Augustus Cĉsar, and Antony over Brutus and Cassius; and it is not a little remarkable, that a city which was the scene of a victory that decided the fate of the Roman Empire, should have been afterwards illustrious as the scene of a nobler victory, intimately connected with the signal triumph of the Gospel in Europe.

The Epistle bears evidence of having been written by Paul when a prisoner for the sake of Christ; and there seems every reason to believe that it was written by him during his first imprisonment at Rome. Dr. Paley, in his Horĉ Paulinĉ, adduces a variety of arguments, founded on incidental notices in the Epistle itself, to prove that it was written “near the conclusion of St. Paul’s imprisonment at Rome, and after a residence in that city of considerable duration.”It is generally believed to have been written about A.D. 62. The Epistle “breathes,”says Barnes, “the spirit of a ripe Christian, whose piety was mellowing for the harvest; of one who felt that he was not far from heaven, and might soon be with Christ …. At the mercy of such a man as Nero; a prisoner; among strangers, and with death staring him in the face, it is natural to suppose that there would be a peculiar solemnity, tenderness, pathos, and ardor of affection breathing through the entire Epistle. Such is the fact; and in none of the writings of Paul are these qualities more apparent than in this letter to the Philippians.”

The Epistle To The Colossians is generally supposed to have been written by PAUL about A.D. 62, in the ninth year of the reign of the Emperor Nero. It bears evidence of having been written during Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome. The Apostle, in the course of the Epistle, makes repeated allusions to the circumstance of his being at the time in “bonds”(<510418>Colossians 4:18) for the sake of Christ. Colosse (or, as several ancient manuscripts read, Colassĉ) was, at the time when the Epistle to the Colossians was written, a flourishing city in the south of Phrygia, situated most picturesquely under the immense range of Mount Cadmus, and near the confluence of the rivers Lycus and Meander; but, about a year after Paul’s Epistle was written, was, along with the neighboring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis, destroyed by an earthquake, as is noticed by Calvin in the Argument of the Epistle. The site of the ancient city, the only remaining vestiges of which consist of arches, vaults, squared stones, and broken pottery, is now occupied by the village of Khonas, in which, as stated by the General Assembly’s Deputation to Palestine in 1839, “a band of about thirty Greek Christians are found.” f8

It has been matter of controversy by whom the Church of Colosse was planted. Dr. Lardner adduces a variety of considerations tending to shew that it was founded by Paul, chiefly the following: —That as Paul was twice in Phrygia, as stated by Luke, (<441606>Acts 16:6, and 18:23,) it is extremely probable, that on one or other of those occasions he was at Colosse, and planted a Church there; that he expresses himself toward the close of the first chapter in such terms as seem to imply that he had himself dispensed the Gospel to the Colossians, and that the general tenor of the Epistle seems to indicate that he is not writing to strangers, but to persons with whom he had been personally conversant, and to whom he had been, under God, the instrument of conversion. On the other hand, many distinguished commentators are of opinion that the Church of Colosse was not founded by Paul. Calvin, in the Argument of the Epistle, speaks of the Colossians as having been instructed in the Gospel, not by Paul, but by Epaphras and other Ministers. Hug and Koppe are decidedly of opinion that Paul did not plant the Church of Colosse, and had no personal acquaintance with the Christians there. Davenant is of opinion that the Church of Colosse was planted by Epaphras. Byfield, in his Exposition of the Colossians, thinks it probable that the Church of Colosse was planted, not by Paul, but by Epaphras or Archippus. Doddridge thinks the Epistle “contains no argument from whence it can certainly be inferred that he”(PAUL) “was personally acquainted with the Colossians.”Scott, in his Preface to the Epistle, gives it as his “decided opinion, that the evidence against the Apostle’s having been at Colosse is far stronger than any that has been adduced on the affirmative side of the question.”In short, there is no inconsiderable force in the arguments adduced on both sides, and “uncertainty still lies on the dispute whether Paul was ever at Colosse.” f9

While, however, there is so much uncertainty as to the person by whom the Church of Colosse was planted, that uncertainty, it is to be noticed, does not by any means arise from any indication of comparative indifference on the part of the Apostle Paul to the welfare of the Colossian converts in the Epistle which he addresses to them. While a prisoner at Rome for the sake of the Gospel, he had heard with deep concern of the insidious attempts which had been made by certain false teachers to draw off the Colossian Christians from the doctrine in which they had been instructed. It is not certain what were the precise tenets, that were attempted to be disseminated among them. There seems to have been a strange blending of the doctrines of the Essenes with the subtleties of Platonism, and the asceticism of Oriental Philosophy.

The general scope of the Epistle is briefly stated by Davenant as follows — that the hope of man’s salvation is placed entirely in Christ alone, and that consequently we must rest satisfied with faith in Christ, and live according to the rule laid down in the Gospel, to the rejection of Mosaic ceremonies and philosophical speculations. The attentive reader of the New Testament cannot fail to observe a striking similarity between the Epistle to the Colossians and that addressed to the Ephesians, not merely in their general structure, but also in the subjects treated of, and even in the order and connection in which they are introduced — a closeness of resemblance which clearly indicates, not merely that the Epistles were written by the same person, and about the same time, but also that the Churches to whom they were addressed, were in many respects similarly situated.

Among the expository treatises on the Epistle to the Colossians, there is, apart from that of Calvin, no one that better deserves, or will more amply repay attentive perusal, that that of Bishop Davenant, as a sound, judicious, and eminently practical exposition of a portion of the New Testament, in which the distinctive doctrines and principles of Christianity are so largely brought into view. It deserves also to be mentioned in connection with this, that Mr. Howe, in his funeral sermon on the death of his intimate friend, the Revelation Richard Adams of Oxford, afterwards of London, speaks with high commendation of his “judicious and dilucid expositions of the Epistles to the Philippians and the Colossians — which was the part he bore in the supplement to that useful work — the English Annotations on the Bible, by the Revelation Mr. Matthew Pool.” f10

The First Epistle To The Thessalonians is generally believed to have been the first Epistle written by PAUL to any of the Churches of Christ. It appears to have been written towards the close of A.D. 52, about two years subsequently to the introduction of the Gospel into Thessalonica by the instrumentality of Paul and Silas. Thessalonica was a large and populous city, situated on the Thermean Bay. The city was originally called Thermĉ, but came to receive the name of Thessalonica from Philip, King of Macedon, by whom it was rebuilt and enlarged, in memory of the victory which he there gained over the Thessalians. Its present name is Saloniki — manifestly a corruption of Thessalonica. It contains a population of 70,000, and is a city of great commercial importance.

In the account which Luke gives of the introduction of the Gospel into Thessalonica, mention is made of Paul’s entering into a Synagogue of the Jews and “reasoning with them three Sabbath days out of the Scriptures.”(<441702>Acts 17:2.) This was the means of converting to the Christian faith some of his Jewish hearers; but, as is manifest from Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians, the converts gained were chiefly from among the idolatrous Gentiles. Thessalonica “adored many gods, but principally Jupiter, as the father of Hercules, the alleged founder of its ancient royal family.” Ft11 A violent tumult which had been raised against PAUL and SILAS by the unbelieving Jews constrained them to quit Thessalonica on a sudden, and escape to Berea, and afterwards to Athens; and the abrupt manner in which the Apostle’s labors at Thessalonica were broken off, seems to have led him to feel the more solicitous as to the prosperity of the Gospel in that city, and to have given occasion for the Church of the Thessalonians being favored to receive the earliest of PAULS Epistles.

The First Epistle to the Thessalonians concludes with a special direction that we do not find to be given in connection with any other of Paul’s Epistles:

“I charge you by the Lord, that this Epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.” (<520527>1 Thessalonians 5:27.)

The strict charge thus given as to the public reading of the Epistle is justly adduced by Paley, in his Horĉ Paulinĉ, as a most convincing evidence of the authenticity of the Epistle. “Either the Epistle was publicly read in the Church of Thessalonica during St. Paul’s lifetime, or it was not. If it was, no publication could be more authentic, no species of notoriety more unquestionable, no method of preserving the integrity of the copy more secure. If it was not, the clause we produce would remain a standing condemnation of the forgery, and, one would suppose, an invincible impediment to its success.”

It is an interesting circumstance, that the first Epistle written by Paul to any Christian Church affords a most pleasing view of the fruits of the Gospel among the Christians to whom it is addressed; while it presents a most attractive picture of zeal and devotedness on the part of the writer. “If I wished,”says Fuller of Kettering, “to be impressed with a pattern of a Christian minister, I would study the second chapter of this Epistle”(1st Thessalonians); “and if I wished to see a pattern of a Christian people, I know not where I could look better than to the Church of the Thessalonians.” Ft12 The general design of the Epistle is to express the high satisfaction afforded to the mind of the writer by the favorable accounts which had been brought him by Timothy respecting the Christians at Thessalonica, as well as to encourage them to stedfast adherence to the truth amidst more than ordinary temptations to apostasy. “Imagine,”says Benson, in his Preface to the Epistle, “the Great Apostle of the Gentiles to be full of a just resentment and generous indignation against his countrymen, the unbelieving Jews, who had lately treated him and them so maliciously; and at the same time having the most tender and parental care and affection for the young converts at Thessalonica, and you will have the very posture of his mind during the writing of this Epistle, for these two things appear everywhere throughout the Epistle.”

The Second Epistle To The Thessalonians appears to have been written a short time after PAULS former Epistle to that Church. The Apostle had learned, that some expressions in his former Epistle in reference to the hopes of Christians beyond the grave had been misapprehended by the Thessalonian converts, as though he had intended to intimate that Christ’s second advent was near at hand. In correcting this mistaken idea, he takes occasion to predict a great apostasy that was to overspread to a large extent the Christian Church, and when we consider how directly opposed “The Mystery Of Iniquity”(<530207>2 Thessalonians 2:7) here predicted is to the nature of Christianity, and how unlikely the breaking out of such a system of error must have appeared at the time when the prediction was given forth, this portion of the Apostolical Writings must be regarded as affording unequivocal evidence of their Divine authority. It is not a little remarkable that the Apostle Paul, in one of the earliest of his Epistles, and when writing to a Church that was in a most flourishing condition, foretells with the utmost distinctness and minuteness, the rise and progress of a system of delusive error, which was not to be fully developed until several centuries subsequently to the time when the prediction was committed to writing; while it manifests itself even at the present day so strikingly in accordance with Paul’s prediction, that no historian of recent times could have furnished a more accurate delineation of the appalling system in all its leading features, than was thus presented to the mind of Paul eighteen hundred years ago by the Spirit of Inspiration. This the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, while it is the shortest of Paul’s Epistles to the Churches, is invested with more than ordinary interest, as predicting the rise, progress, and final destinies of the Papal system.

“The Epistle naturally divides itself,”as is remarked by Dr. Adam Clarke, “into three parts, and each is contained in a separate chapter:

“Part I., Chapter 1, contains the Address, and Motives of Consolation in their afflicted and persecuted state.

“Part II., Chapter 2, is partly Prophetical, and partly Didactic. It contains the doctrine concerning Christ’s Coming to Judgment, and a Prophecy concerning some future but great Apostasy from the Christian Faith.

“Part III., Chapter 3., is wholly Hortatory, and contains a number of important Advices relative to Christian Virtues and a proper behavior in those situations in life in which it had pleased God to call them.”

The Reader will find prefixed to the present translation of Calvin’s Commentary on the Colossians, a copy of the Translator’s “Epistle Dedicatorie “to the old English translation of Calvin’s Commentary on that Epistle, published in black letter in 1581. The Translator, who gives merely his initials, (R.V.,) appears to have been Robert Vahne, or Vaughan, who published also in 1581 a translation of Calvin’s Commentary on the Galatians. The title-page is as follows: —”A Commentarie of M. Iohn Caluine, vpon the Epistle to the Colossians. And translated into English by R.V.

Pray for the peace of Hierusalem, they shall prosper that loue thee. <19C106>Psalm 121:6.

At London, Printed by Thomas Purfoote, and are to be sold at his shop ouer against S. Sepulchers Church.”

He is also the author of “A Dialogue defensyue for women agaynst malicyous detractoures,”published in 1542; and of a translation published in 1582, of “Examination of the Councell of Trent, touching the Decree of Traditions, by Mart. Kemnicious.”

It will be observed, that there is no separate Dedication by Calvin of his Commentaries on the Philippians and Colossians — his Commentaries on these Epistles having been dedicated by him, along with those on Galatians and Ephesians, to Christopher, Duke of Wirtemberg. The Dedication will be inserted in a future volume of The Calvin Translations, which will contain the Translation of the Commentaries on Galatians and Ephesians.

Maturinus Corderius, (Mathurin Cordier,) to whom CALVIN dedicates his Commentary on the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, was, as stated by Beza, in his Life of Calvin, f13 “a man of great worth and erudition, and in the highest repute in almost all the schools of France as a teacher of youth.”He taught at Paris, Nevers, Bordeaux, Neufchatel, Lausanne, and Geneva. He was the author of the “Colloquies,”so much used in the education of youth throughout Europe. CALVIN was his pupil at the College de la Marche. He died at Geneva, where he taught till within a few days of his death, in 1564, at the age of eighty-five.

Benedict Textor, to whom CALVIN dedicates his Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, appears to have been the son or nephew of Jean Tixier de Ravisi, or Ravisius Textor (Lord of Ravisi,) who was Rector of the University of Navarre at Paris, and was the author of various works. He died in 1524. There is a small volume still extant containing “Epistles”(to the number of 149,) which appears to have been written by a relative of Benedict Textor. It bears date 1602, and is entitled “Epistolĉ Joannis Ravisii Textoris (Nivernensis) — non vulgaris eruditionis.”

While The Commentaries of Calvin everywhere abound with important statements in reference to Popery, so that the reader will find able and successful refutations of the errors of that corrupt and delusive system brought forward in connection with the interpretation of passages of the Word of God, which might have seemed to have no particular bearing on the Papal system, and introduced by him for the most part with less abruptness than is to be observed in the writings of some of his contemporaries, the present Volume of his Commentaries is rendered the more interesting, and will, we trust, under the Divine blessing, be productive of the greater utility, in the present eventful times, from its containing Calvin’s exposition of a portion of THE NEW TESTAMENT that presents the minutest and most comprehensive view that is to be found in any part of the Sacred Writings, of the rise, progress, and ultimate overthrow of Antichrist.

J. P.
ELGIN, March 1851.


and reuerende fathers maister Noel,

Deane of Poules, M. Mullins Archdeacon of London,

Maister D. Walker, Archdeacon Of Essex, & Maister Towers Professor Of Diuinity, His Singuler Good Friends And Patrons, R. V. Wi-Sheth All Health.

Many in the dedications of their trauails are accustomed to set forth the praises of such persons as they do dedicate the same vnto. And surely I thinke it not amisse if flattery be absent. For who is ignorant that virtus lauduta crescit, praise virtue, and it shall encrease. I speake not this, right worshipful and reuerende fathers, to the ende that I meane to do the like to you, although no man that knoweth you but he will say you worthelye deserue the same: for if I shoulde either praise your learning or diligence in your vocation which euery where is knowen, or your godly conuersation which vnto your nighest frendes is well tried, or your liberality which all those that haue neede, but spetially the Godly poore haue found and daily to fynde, who might iustly reprehend me: but letting passe these thinges to the consideration of vpright iudges, I purpose to shew and that very brieflye what hath moued me to dedicate this present booke vnto your worshippes. You knowe that I receaued at your handes (that worthye man maister D. Watts beynge then aliue, whom with reuerence I remember) that liuinge which I haue: and althoughe you sell not your benefices (as manye in these dayes do) yet reason woulde that I should not remaine vnthankefull for the same, though it were a greate deale lesse then it is. And wheras want of abilitye vvould not suffer me to recompence othervvyse your good will, yet rather then still I should continue vnthankeful, I chose this litle commentary of that worthye father M. Caluine to supply that which els might be left vndon: rvherin I vvish that my hart lay open to be vievved: then vvould you not more regard the thinge it selfe, vvhich no doubt is vvorthy the accepting, then the good vvil of him that presenteth the same vnto you. Fare you vvel. At high Easter the first of Nouember.

Yours to command
R. V.




It is generally know that PHILIPPI was a city of Macedonia, situated on the confines of Thrace, on the plains of which Pompey was conquered by Caesar; f14 and Brutus and Cassius were afterwards conquered by Antony and Octavius. f15 Thus Roman insurrections rendered this place illustrious by two memorable engagements. When PAUL was called into Macedonia by an express revelation, f16 he first founded a Church in that city, (as is related by LUKE in <441612>Acts 16:12,) which did not merely persevere steadfastly in the faith, but was also, in process of time, as this Epistle bears evidence, enlarged both in the number of individuals, and in their proficiency in respect of attainments.

The occasion of Paul’s writing to the Philippians was this, — As they had sent to him by Epaphroditus , their pastor, such things as were needed by him when in prison, for sustaining life, and for other more than ordinary expenses, there can be no doubt that Epaphroditus explained to him at the same time the entire condition of the Church, and acted the part of an adviser in suggesting those things, respecting which they required to be admonished. It appears, however, that attempts had been made upon them by false apostles, f17 who wandered hither and thither, with the view of spreading corruptions of sound doctrine; but as they had remained steadfast in the truth, the Apostle commends their steadfastness. Keeping, however, in mind human frailty, and having, perhaps, been instructed by Epaphroditus that they required to be seasonably confirmed, lest they should in process of time fall away, he subjoins such admonitions as he knew to be suitable to them.

And having, first of all, with the view of securing their confidence, declared the pious attachment of his mind towards them, he proceeds to treat of himself and of his bonds, lest they should feel dismayed on seeing him a prisoner, and in danger of his life. He shews them, accordingly, that the glory of the gospel is so far from being lessened by this means, that it is rather an argument in confirmation of its truth, and he at the same time stirs them up by his own example to be prepared for every event. f18 He at length concludes the First Chapter with a short exhortation to unity and patience.

As, however, ambition is almost invariably the mother of dissensions, and comes, on this account, to open a door for new and strange doctrines, he, in the commencement of the Second Chapter, entreats them, with great earnestness, to hold nothing more highly in esteem than humility and modesty. With this view he makes use of various arguments. And that he may the better retain them, f19 he promises to send Timothy to them shortly, nay more, he expresses a hope of being able to visit them himself. He afterwards assigns a reason for delay on the part of Epaphroditus. f20

In the Third Chapter he inveighs against the false apostles, and sets aside both their empty boastings and the doctrine of circumcision, which they eagerly maintained. f21 To all their contrivances he opposes the simple doctrine of Christ. To their arrogance f22 he opposes his former life and present course of conduct, in which a true image of Christian piety shone forth. He shews, also, that the summit of perfection, at which we must aim during our whole life, is this — to have fellowship with Christ in his death and resurrection; and this he establishes by his own example.

He begins the Fourth Chapter with particular admonitions, but proceeds afterwards to those of a general nature. He concludes the Epistle with a declaration of his gratitude to the PHILIPPIANS, that they may not think that what they had laid out for relieving his necessities had been ill bestowed.




<500101>Philippians 1:1-6

1. Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

1. Paulus et Timotheus, servi Iesu Christi, omnibus sanctis in Christo Iesu, qui sunt Philippis, cum Episcopis et Diaconis

2. Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ

2. Gratia vobis et pax a Deo Patre nostro, et Domino Iesu Christo.

3. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

3. Gratias ago Deo meo in omni memoria vestri. f23

4. Always in every prayer of mine for you all, making request with joy,

4. Semper in omni precatione mea pro vobis omnibus cum gaudio precationem faciens,

5. For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

5. Super communicatione vestra in Evangelium, a primo die hucusque;

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.

6. Hoc ipsum persuasus, quod qui cœpit in vobis opus bonum, perficiet usque in diem Iesu Christi.


1. Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ. While Paul is accustomed, in the inscription of his epistles, to employ titles of distinction, with the view of procuring credit for himself and his ministry, there was no need of lengthened commendations in writing to the Philippians, who had known him by experience as a true Apostle of Christ, and still acknowledged him as such beyond all controversy. For they had persevered in the calling of God steadfastly, and in an even tenor. f24

Bishops. He names the pastors separately, for the sake of honor. We may, however, infer from this, that the name of bishop is common to all the ministers of the Word, inasmuch as he assigns several bishops to one Church. The titles, therefore, of bishop and pastor, are synonymous. And this is one of the passages which Jerome quotes for proving this in his epistle to Evagrius, f25 and in his exposition of the Epistle to Titus. f26 Afterwards f27 there crept in the custom of applying the name of bishop exclusively to the person whom the presbyters in each church appointed over their company. f28 It originated, however, in a human custom, and rests on no Scripture authority. I acknowledge, indeed, that, as the minds and manners of men are, there cannot be order maintained among the ministers of the word, without one presiding over the others. I speak of particular bodies, f29 not of whole provinces, much less of the whole world. Now, although we must not contend for words, it were at the same time better for us in speaking to follow the Holy Spirit, the author of tongues, than to change for the worse forms of speech which are dictated to us by Him. For from the corrupted signification of the word this evil has resulted, that, as if all the presbyters f30 were not colleagues, called to the same office, one of them, under the pretext of a new appellation, usurped dominion over the others.

Deacons. This term may be taken in two ways — either as meaning administrators, and curators of the poor, or for elders, who were appointed for the regulation of morals. As, however, it is more generally made use of by Paul in the former sense, I understand it rather as meaning stewards, who superintended the distributing and receiving of alms. On the other points consult the preceding commentaries.

3. I give thanks. He begins with thanksgiving f31 on two accounts — first, that he may by this token shew his love to the Philippians; and secondly, that, by commending them as to the past, he may exhort them, also, to perseverance in time to come. He adduces, also, another evidence of his love — the anxiety which he exercised in supplications. It is to be observed, however, that, whenever he makes mention of things that are joyful, he immediately breaks forth into thanksgiving — a practice with which we ought also to be familiar. We must, also, take notice, what things they are for which he gives thanks to God, — the fellowship of the Philippians in the gospel of Christ; for it follows from this, that it ought to be ascribed to the grace of God. When he says, upon every remembrance of you, he means, “As often as I remember you.”

4. Always in every prayer. Connect the words in this manner: “Always presenting prayer for you all in every prayer of mine.”For as he had said before, that the remembrance of them was an occasion of joy to him, so he now subjoins, that they come into his mind as often as he prays. He afterwards adds, that it is with joy that he presents prayer in their behalf. Joy refers to the past; prayer to the future. For he rejoiced in their auspicious beginnings, and was desirous of their perfection. Thus it becomes us always to rejoice in the blessings received from God in such a manner, as to remember to ask from him those things that we are still in need of.

5. For your fellowship. He now, passing over the other clause, states the ground of his joy — that they had come into the fellowship of the gospel, that is, had become partakers of the gospel, which, as is well known, is accomplished by means of faith; for the gospel appears as nothing to us, in respect of any enjoyment of it, until we have received it by faith. At the same time the term fellowship may be viewed as referring to the common society of the saints, as though he had said that they had been associated with all the children of God in the faith of the gospel. When he says, from the first day, he commends their promptitude in having shewn themselves teachable immediately upon the doctrine being set before them. The phrase until now denotes their perseverance. Now we know how rare an excellence it is, to follow God immediately upon his calling us, and also to persevere steadfastly unto the end. For many are slow and backward to obey, while there are still more that fall short through fickleness and inconstancy. f32

6. Persuaded of this very thing. An additional ground of joy is furnished in his confidence in them for the time to come. f33 But some one will say, why should men dare to assure themselves for to-morrow amidst so great an infirmity of nature, amidst so many impediments, ruggednesses, and precipices? f34 Paul, assuredly, did not derive this confidence from the steadfastness or excellence of men, but simply from the fact, that God had manifested his love to the Philippians. And undoubtedly this is the true manner of acknowledging God’s benefits — when we derive from them occasion of hoping well as to the future. f35 For as they are tokens at once of his goodness, and of his fatherly benevolence towards us, what ingratitude were it to derive from this no confirmation of hope and good courage! In addition to this, God is not like men, so as to be wearied out or exhausted by conferring kindness. f36 Let, therefore, believers exercise themselves in constant meditation upon the favors which God confers, that they may encourage and confirm hope as to the time to come, and always ponder in their mind this syllogism: God does not forsake the work which his own hands have begun, as the Prophet bears witness, (<19D808>Psalm 138:8; <236408>Isaiah 64:8;) we are the work of his hands; therefore he will complete what he has begun in us. When I say that we are the work of his hands, I do not refer to mere creation, but to the calling by which we are adopted into the number of his sons. For it is a token to us of our election, that the Lord has called us effectually to himself by his Spirit.

It is asked, however, whether any one can be certain as to the salvation of others, for Paul here is not speaking of himself but of the Philippians. I answer, that the assurance which an individual has respecting his own salvation, is very different from what he has as to that of another. For the Spirit of God is a witness to me of my calling, as he is to each of the elect. As to others, we have no testimony, except from the outward efficacy of the Spirit; that is, in so far as the grace of God shews itself in them, so that we come to know it. There is, therefore, a great difference, because the assurance of faith remains inwardly shut up, and does not extend itself to others. But wherever we see any such tokens of Divine election as can be perceived by us, we ought immediately to be stirred up to entertain good hope, both in order that we may not be envious f37 towards our neighbors, and withhold from them an equitable and kind judgment of charity; and also, that we may be grateful to God. f38 This, however, is a general rule both as to ourselves and as to others — that, distrusting our own strength, we depend entirely upon God alone.

Until the day of Jesus Christ. The chief thing, indeed, to be understood here is — until the termination of the conflict. Now the conflict is terminated by death. As, however, the Spirit is accustomed to speak in this manner in reference to the last coming of Christ, it were better to extend the advancement of the grace of Christ to the resurrection of the flesh. For although those who have been freed from the mortal body do no longer contend with the lusts of the flesh, and are, as the expression is, beyond the reach of a single dart, f39 yet there will be no absurdity in speaking of them as in the way of advancement, f40 inasmuch as they have not yet reached the point at which they aspire, — they do not yet enjoy the felicity and glory which they have hoped for; and in fine, the day has not yet shone which is to discover the treasures which lie hid in hope. And in truth, when hope is treated of, our eyes must always be directed forward to a blessed resurrection, as the grand object in view.

<500107>Philippians 1:7-11

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 defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

7. Sicuti iustum est mihi hoc de vobis omnibus sentire, propterea quod in corde vos habeam, esse omnes participes gratiĉ meĉ, et in vinculis meis, et in defensione, et confirmatione Evangelii.

8. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

8. Testis enim mihi est Deus, ut desiderem vos omnes in visceribus f41 Iesu Christi.

9. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

9. Et hoc precor, ut caritas vestra adhue magis ac magis abundet cum agnitione, omnique intelligentia:

10. That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere, and without offense, till the day of Christ:

10. Ut probetis quĉ utilia sunt, qno sitis sinceri, et inoffensi usque in diem Christi.

11. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

11. Impleti fructibus iustitiae, qui sunt per Iesum Christum, in gloriam et laudem Dei.


7. As it is reasonable. For we are envious f42 valuators of the gifts of God if we do not reckon as children of God those in whom there shine forth those true tokens of piety, which are the marks by which the Spirit of adoption manifests himself. Paul accordingly says, that equity itself dictates to him, f43 that he should hope well of the Philippians in all time to come, inasmuch as he sees them to be associated with himself in participation of grace. It is not without due consideration that I have given a different rendering of this passage from that of Erasmus, as the judicious reader will easily perceive. For he states what opinion he has of the Philippians, which was the ground of his hoping well respecting them. He says, then, that they are partakers with him of the same grace in his bonds, and in the defense of the gospel.

To have them in his heart is to reckon them as such in the inmost affection of his heart. For the Philippians had always assisted Paul according to their ability, so as to connect themselves with him as associates for maintaining the cause of the gospel, so far as was in their power. Thus, although they were absent in body, yet, on account of the pious disposition which they shewed by every service in their power, he recognises them as in bonds along with him. “I have you, therefore, in my heart;”this is, sincerely and without any pretense, assuredly, and with no slight or doubtful opinion — as what? as partakers of grace — in what? in my bonds, by which the gospel is defended. As he acknowledged them to be such, it was reasonable that he should hope well respecting them.

Of my grace and in the bonds. It were a ludicrous thing in the view of the world to reckon a prison to be a benefit from God, but if we estimate the matter aright, it is no common honor that God confers upon us, when we suffer persecution for the sake of his truth. For it was not in vain that it was said,

Blessed shall ye be, when men shall afflict and harass you with all kinds of reproaches for my name’s sake. (<400511>Matthew 5:11)

Let us therefore bear in remembrance also, that we must with readiness and alacrity embrace the fellowship of the cross of Christ as a special favor from God. In addition to bonds he subjoins the defense and confirmation of the gospel, that he may express so much the better the honourableness of the service which God has enjoined upon us in placing us in opposition to his enemies, so as to bear testimony to his gospel. For it is as though he had entrusted us with the defense of his gospel. And truly it was when armed with this consideration, that the martyrs were prepared to contemn all the rage of the wicked, and to rise superior to every kind of torture. And would that this were present to the mind of all that are called to make a confession of their faith, that they have been chosen by Christ to be as advocates to plead his cause! For were they sustained by such consolation they would be more courageous than to be so easily turned aside into a perfidious revolt. f44

Here, however, some one will inquire, whether the confirmation of the gospel depends on the steadfastness of men. I answer, that the truth of God is in itself too firm to require that it should have support from any other quarter; for though we should all of us be found liars, God, nevertheless, remains true. (<450304>Romans 3:4.) There is, however, no absurdity in saying, that weak consciences are confirmed in it by such helps. That kind of confirmation, therefore, of which Paul makes mention, has a relation to men, as we learn from our own experience that the slaughter of so many martyrs has been attended at least with this advantage, that they have been as it were so many seals, by which the gospel has been sealed in our hearts. Hence that saying of Tertullian, that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,”— which I have imitated in a certain poem: “But that sacred blood, f45 the maintainer of God’s honor, will be like seed for producing offspring.” f46

8. For God is my witness. He now declares more explicitly his affection for them, and, with the view of giving proof of it, he makes use of an oath, and that on good grounds, because we know how dear in the sight of God is the edification of his Church. It was, too, more especially of advantage, that Paul’s affection should be thoroughly made known to the Philippians. For it tends in no small degree to secure credit for the doctrine, when the people are persuaded that they are beloved by the teacher. He calls God as a witness to the truth, inasmuch as he alone is the Truth, and as a witness of his affection, inasmuch as he alone is the searcher of hearts. In the word rendered long after, a particular term is made use of instead of a general, and it is a token of affection, inasmuch as we long after those things which are dear to us.

In the bowels. He places the bowels of Christ in opposition to carnal affection, to intimate that his affection is holy and pious. For the man that loves according to the flesh has respect to his own advantage, and may from time to time change his mind according to the variety of circumstances and seasons. In the meantime he instructs us by what rule the affections of believers ought to be regulated, so that, renouncing their own will, they may allow Christ to sit at the helm. And, unquestionably, true love can flow from no other source than from the bowels of Christ, and this, like a goad, ought to affect us not a little — that Christ in a manner opens his bowels, that by them he may cherish mutual affection between us. ft47

9. This I pray that your love. He returns to the prayer, which he had simply touched upon in one word in passing. He states, accordingly, the sum of those things which he asked from God in their behalf, that they also may learn to pray after his example, and may aspire at proficiency in those gifts. The view taken by some, as though the love of the Philippians denoted the Philippians themselves, as illiterate persons are accustomed very commonly to say, “Your reverence,”— “Your paternity,”is absurd. For no instance of such an expression occurs in the writings of Paul, nor had such fooleries come into use. Besides, the statement would be less complete, and, independently of this, the simple and natural meaning of the words suits admirably well. For the true attainments of Christians are when they make progress in knowledge, and understanding, and afterwards in love. Accordingly the particle in, according to the idiom of the Hebrew tongue, is taken here to mean with, as I have also rendered it, unless perhaps one should prefer to explain it as meaning by, so as to denote the instrument or formal cause. For, the greater proficiency we make in knowledge, so much the more ought our love to increase. The meaning in that case would be, “That your love may increase according to the measure of knowledge.”All knowledge, means what is full and complete — not a knowledge of all things. ft48

10. That ye may approve the things that are. Here we have a definition of Christian wisdom — to know what is advantageous or expedient — not to torture the mind with empty subtleties and speculations. For the Lord does not wish that his believing people should employ themselves fruitlessly in learning what is of no profit: From this you may gather in what estimation the Sorbonnic theology ought to be held, in which you may spend your whole life, and yet not derive more of edification from it in connection with the hope of a heavenly life, or more of spiritual advantage, than from the demonstrations of Euclid. Unquestionably, although it taught nothing false, it well deserves to be execrable, on the ground that it is a pernicious profanation of spiritual doctrine. For Scripture is useful, as Paul says, in <550316>2 Timothy 3:16, but there you will find nothing but cold subtleties of words.

That ye may be sincere. This is the advantage which we derive from knowledge — not that every one may artfully consult his own interests, but that we may live in pure conscience in the sight of God.

It is added — and without offense. The Greek word ajproskopoi is ambiguous. Chrysostom explains it in an active sense — that as he had desired that they should be pure and upright in the sight of God, so he now desires that they should lead an honorable life in the sight of men, that they may not injure their neighbors by any evil examples. This exposition I do not reject: the passive signification, however, is better suited to the context, in my opinion. For he desires wisdom for them, with this view — that they may with unwavering step go forward in their calling until the day of Christ, as on the other hand it happens through ignorance, f49 that we frequently slip our foot, stumble, and turn aside. And how many stumbling blocks Satan from time to time throws in our way, with the view of either stopping our course altogether, or impeding it, every one of us knows from his own experience.

11. Filled with the fruits of righteousness. This now belongs to the outward life, for a good conscience produces its fruits by means of works. Hence he desires that they may be fruitful in good works for the glory of God. Such fruits, he says, are by Christ, because they flow from the grace of Christ. For the beginning of our well-doing is, when we are sanctified by his Spirit, for he rested upon him, that we might all receive of his fullness. (<430116>John 1:16.) And as Paul here derives a similitude from trees, we are wild olive-trees, (<451124>Romans 11:24,) and unproductive, until we are ingrafted into Christ, who by his living root makes us fruitbearing trees, in accordance with that saying, (<431501>John 15:1,) I am the vine, ye are the branches. He at the same time shews the end — that we may promote the glory of God. For no life is so excellent in appearance as not to be corrupted and become offensive in the view of God, if it is not directed towards this object.

Paul’s speaking here of works under the term righteousness, is not at all inconsistent with the gratuitous righteousness of faith. For it does not immediately follow that there is righteousness wherever there are the fruits of righteousness, inasmuch as there is no righteousness in the sight of God, unless there be a full and complete obedience to the law, which is not found in any one of the saints, though, nevertheless, they bring forth, according to the measure, the good and pleasant f50 fruits of righteousness, and for this reason, that, as God begins righteousness in us, through the regeneration of the Spirit, so what is wanting is amply supplied through the remission of sins, in such a way that all righteousness, nevertheless, depends upon faith.

<500112>Philippians 1:12-17

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;

12. Scire autem vos volo, fratres, quod, quae mihi acciderunt, magis in profectum cesserunt Evangelii,

13. So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

13. Ut vincula mea in Christo illustria fuerint in toto praetorio, et reliquis omnibus locis:

14. And many of the brethren in the Lord waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

14. Et multi ex fratribus in Domino, vinculis meis confisi, uberius ausi fuerint absque timore sermonem Dei loqui.

15. Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will.

15. Nonnulli quidem per invidiam et contentionem, alii autem etiam per benevolentiam, Christum praedicant.

16. The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds;

16. Alii, inquam, ex contentione Christum annuntiant, non pure, existimantes afflictionem se suscitare meis vinculis:

17. But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel.

17. Alii autem ex caritate, scientes quod in defensionem Evangelii positus sim.


12. But I wish you to know. We all know from our own experience, how much the flesh is wont to be offended by the abasement of the cross. We allow, indeed, Christ crucified to be preached to us; but when he appears in connection with his cross, then, as though we were thunderstruck at the novelty of it, f51 we either avoid him or hold him in abhorrence, and that not merely in our own persons, but also in the persons of those who deliver to us the gospel. It may have happened to the Philippians, that they were in some degree discouraged in consequence of the persecution of their Apostle. We may also very readily believe, that those bad workmen f52 who eagerly watched every occasion, however small, of doing injury, did not refrain from triumphing over the calamity of this holy man, and by this means making his gospel contemptible. If, however, they were not successful in this attempt, they might very readily calumniate him by representing him as hated by the whole world; and at the same time leading the Philippians to dread, lest, by an unfortunate association with him, f53 they should needlessly incur great dislike among all; for such are the usual artifices of Satan. The Apostle provides against this danger, when he states that the gospel had been promoted by means of his bonds. The design, accordingly, of this detail is, to encourage the Philippians, that they may not feel deterred f54 by the persecution endured by him.

13. So that my bonds. He employs the expression — in Christ, to mean, in the affairs, or in the cause of Christ, for he intimates that his bonds had become illustrious, so as to promote the honor of Christ. f55 The rendering given by some — through Christ, seems forced. I have also employed the word illustria (illustrious) in preference to manifesta, (manifest,) — as having ennobled the gospel by their fame. f56 “Satan, indeed, has attempted it, and the wicked have thought that it would turn out so, that the gospel would be destroyed; but God has frustrated both the attempts of the former and the expectations of the latter, f57 and that in two ways, for while the gospel was previously obscure and unknown, it has come to be well known, and not only so, but has even been rendered honorable in the Praetorium, no less than in the rest of the city.”By the praetorium I understand the hall and palace of Nero, which Fabius f58 and writers of that age call Augustale, (the Augustal.) For as the name praetor was at first a general term, and denoted all magistrates who held the chief sway, (hence it came that the dictator was called the sovereign praetor, f59) it, consequently, became customary to employ the term praetorium in war to mean the tent, either of the consul, f60 or of the person who presided, f61 while in the city it denoted the palace of Caesar, f62 from the time that the Cesars took possession of the monarchy. f63 Independently of this, the bench of praetor is also called the praetorium. f64

14. Many of the brethren. By this instance we are taught that the tortures of the saints, endured by them in behalf of the gospel, are a ground of confidence f65 to us. It were indeed a dreadful spectacle, and such as might tend rather to dishearten us, did we see nothing but the cruelty and rage of the persecutors. When, however, we see at the same time the hand of the Lord, which makes his people unconquerable, f66 under the infirmity of the Cross, and causes them to triumph, relying upon this, f67 we ought to venture farther than we had been accustomed, having now a pledge of our victory in the persons of our brethren. The knowledge of this ought to overcome our fears, that we may speak boldly in the midst of dangers.

15. Some indeed. Here is another fruit of Paul’s bonds, that not only were the brethren stirred up to confidence by his example — some by maintaining their position, others by becoming more eager to teach — but even those who wished him evil were on another account stirred up to publish the gospel.

16. Some, I say, from contention. Here we have a lengthened detail, in which he explains more fully the foregoing statement; for he repeats that there are two classes of men that are stirred up by his bonds to preach Christ — the one influenced by contention, that is, by depraved affection — the other by pious zeal, as being desirous to maintain along with him the defense of the gospel. The former, he says, do not preach Christ purely, because it was not a right zeal. f68 For the term does not apply to doctrine, because it is possible that the man who teaches most purely, may, nevertheless, not be of a sincere mind. f69 Now, that this impurity was in the mind, and did not shew itself in doctrine, may be inferred from the context. Paul assuredly would have felt no pleasure in seeing the gospel corrupted; yet he declares that he rejoices in the preaching of those persons, while it was not simple or sincere.

It is asked, however, how such preaching could be injurious to him? I answer, that many occasions are unknown to us, inasmuch as we are not acquainted with the circumstances of the times. It is asked farther, “Since the gospel cannot be preached but by those that understand it, what motive induced those persons to persecute the doctrine of which they approved?”I answer, that ambition is blind, nay, it is a furious beast. Hence it is not to be wondered if false brethren snatch a weapon from the gospel for harassing good and pious pastors. f71 Paul, assuredly, says nothing here f70 of which I have not myself had experience. For there are living at this very day those who have preached the gospel with no other design, than that they might gratify the rage of the wicked by persecuting pious pastors. As to Paul’s enemies, it is of importance to observe, if they were Jews, how mad their hatred was, so as even to forget on what account they hated him. For while they made it their aim to destroy him, they exerted themselves to promote the gospel, on account of which they were hostile to him; but they imagined, no doubt, that the cause of Christ would stand or fall f72 in the person of one individual. If, however, there were envious persons, f73 who were thus hurried away by ambition, we ought to acknowledge the wonderful goodness of God, who, notwithstanding, gave such a prosperous issue to their depraved affections.

17. That for the defense. Those who truly loved Christ reckoned that it would be a disgrace to them if they did not associate themselves with Paul as his companions, when maintaining the cause of the gospel; and we must act in such a manner, as to give a helping hand, as far as possible, to the servants of Christ when in difficulty. f74 Observe, again, this expression — for the defense of the gospel. For since Christ confers upon us so great an honor, what excuse shall we have, if we shall be traitors to his cause, f75 or what may we expect, if we betray it by our silence, but that he shall in return desert our cause, who is our sole Advocate, or Patron, with the Father? f76 (<620201>1 John 2:1.)

<500118>Philippians 1:18-21

18. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

18. Quid enim? Caeterum quovis modo, sive per occasionem, sive per veritatem, Christus annuntiatur: atque in hoc gaudeo, quin etiam gaudebo.

19. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

19. Novi enim quod hoc mihi cedet in salutem per vestram precationem, et subministrationem Spiritus Iesu Christi,

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.

20. Secundum expectationem et spem meam, quod in nullo re pudefiam, sed cum omni fiducia, quemadmodum semper, ita et nunc magnificabitur Christus in corpore meo, sive per vitam, sive per mortem.

21. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

21. Mihi enim vivendo Christus est, et moriendo lucrum.


18. But in every way. As the wicked disposition of those of whom he has spoken might detract from the acceptableness of the doctrine, f77 he says that this ought to be reckoned of great importance, that they nevertheless promoted the cause of the gospel, whatever their disposition might be. For God sometimes accomplishes an admirable work by means of wicked and depraved instruments. Accordingly, he says that he rejoices in a happy result of this nature; because this one thing contented him — if he saw the kingdom of Christ increasing — just as we, on hearing that that impure dog Carolus f78 was scattering the seeds of pure doctrine at Avignon and elsewhere, we gave thanks to God because he had made use of that most profligate and worthless villain for his glory: and at this day we rejoice that the progress of the gospel is advanced by many who, nevertheless, had another design in view. But though Paul rejoiced in the advancement of the gospel, yet, had the matter been in his hand, he would never have ordained such persons as ministers. We ought, therefore, to rejoice if God accomplishes anything that is good by means of wicked persons; but they ought not on that account to be either placed by us in the ministry, or looked upon as Christ’s lawful ministers.

19. For I know that. As some published the gospel with the view of rendering Paul odious, in order that they might kindle up against him the more the rage of his enemies, he tells them beforehand that their wicked attempts will do him no harm, because the Lord will turn them to a contrary design. “Though they plot my destruction, yet I trust that all their attempts will have no other effect but that Christ will be glorified in me — which is a thing most salutary to me.” For it is evident from what follows, that he is not speaking of the safety of the body. But whence this confidence on the part of Paul? It is from what he teaches elsewhere, (<450828>Romans 8:28,) — that all things contribute to the advantage of God’s true worshippers, even though the whole world, with the devil, its prince, should conspire together for their ruin.

Through your prayer. That he may stir them up to pray more ardently, he declares that he is confident that the Lord will give them an answer to their prayers. Nor does he use dissimulation: for he who depends for help on the prayers of the saints relies on the promise of God. In the mean time, nothing is detracted from the unmerited goodness of God, on which depend our prayers, and what is obtained by means of them.

And the supply. Let us not suppose, that because he joins these two things in one connection, they are consequently alike. The statement must, therefore, be explained in this manner: — “I know that all this will turn out to my advantage, through the administration of the Spirit, you also helping by prayer,”— so that the supply of the Spirit is the efficient cause, while prayer is a subordinate help. We must also observe the propriety of the Greek term, for ejpicorhgi>a is employed to mean the furnishing of what is wanting, ft79 just as the Spirit of God pours into us everything of which we are destitute.

He calls him, too, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, to intimate, that if we are Christians, he is common to all of us, inasmuch as he was poured upon him with all fullness, that, according to the measure of his grace, he might give out, so far as is expedient, to each of his members.

20. According to my expectation. Should any one object, “From what do you derive that knowledge?”he answers, “From hope.”For as it is certain that God does not by any means design to frustrate our hope, hope itself ought not to be wavering. Let then the pious reader carefully observe this adverb secundum, (according to,) that he may be fully assured in his own mind, that it is impossible but that the Lord will fulfill our expectation, inasmuch as it is founded on his own word. Now, he has promised that he will never be wanting to us even in the midst of all tortures, if we are at any time called to make confession of his name. Let, therefore, all the pious entertain hope after Paul’s example, and they will not be put to shame.

With all confidence. We see that, in cherishing hope, he does not give indulgence to carnal desires, but places his hope in subjection to the promise of God. “Christ,”says he, “will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”By making express mention, however, of the body, he intimates that, amongst the conflicts of the present life, he is in no degree doubtful as to the issue, for we are assured as to this by God. If, accordingly, giving ourselves up to the good pleasure of God, and having in our life the same object in view as Paul had, we expect, in whatever way it may be, a prosperous issue, we shall no longer have occasion to fear lest any adversity should befall us; for if we live and die to him, we are his in life and in death. (<451408>Romans 14:8.) He expresses the way in which Christ will be magnified — by full assurance. Hence it follows, that through our fault he is cast down and lowered, so far as it is in our power to do so, when we give way through fear. Do not those then feel ashamed who reckon it a light offense to tremble, f80 when called to make confession of the truth? But how much ashamed ought those to feel, who are so shamelessly impudent as to have the hardihood even to excuse renunciation?

He adds, as always, that they may confirm their faith from past experience of the grace of God. Thus, in <450504>Romans 5:4, he says, Experience begets hope.

21. For to me to live. Interpreters have hitherto, in my opinion, given a wrong rendering and exposition to this passage; for they make this distinction, that Christ was life to Paul, and death was gain. I, on the other hand, make Christ the subject of discourse in both clauses, so that he is declared to be gain in him both in life and in death; for it is customary with the Greeks to leave the word pro>v to be understood. Besides that this meaning is less forced, it also corresponds better with the foregoing statement, and contains more complete doctrine. He declares that it is indifferent to him, and is all one, whether he lives or dies, because, having Christ, he reckons both to be gain. And assuredly it is Christ alone that makes us happy both in death and in life; otherwise, if death is miserable, life is in no degree happier; so that it is difficult to determine whether it is more advantageous to live or to die out of Christ. On the other hand, let Christ be with us, and he will bless our life as well as our death, so that both will be happy and desirable for us.

<500122>Philippians 1:22-26

22. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

22. Quodsi vivere in carne operae pretium mihi est, etiam quid eligam ignoro. f81

23. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

23. Coarctor enim ex duobus cupiens dissolvi et esse cum Christo: multo enim hoc melius.

24. Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

24. Manere vero in carne, magis necessarium propter vos.

25. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all, for your furtherance and joy of faith;

25. Atque hoc confisus novi, quod manebo et permanebo cum omnibus vobis, in vestrum profectum et gaudium fidei,

26. That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me, by my coming to you again.

26. Ut gloriatio vestra exsuperet in Christo Iesu de me, per meum rursus adventum ad vos.


22. But if to live in the flesh. As persons in despair feel in perplexity as to whether they ought to prolong their life any farther in miseries, or to terminate their troubles by death, so Paul, on the other hand, says that he is, in a spirit of contentment, so well prepared for death or for life, because the condition of believers, both in the one case and in the other, is blessed, so that he is at a loss which to choose. If it is worth while; that is, “If I have reason to believe that there will be greater advantage from my life than from my death, I do not see which of them I ought to prefer.”To live in the flesh, is an expression which he has made use of in contempt, from comparing it with a better life.

23. For I am in a strait. Paul did not desire to live with any other object in view that that of promoting the glory of Christ, and doing good to the brethren. Hence he does not reckon that he has any other advantage from living than the welfare of the brethren. But so far as concerns himself personally, it were, he acknowledges, better for him to die soon, because he would be with Christ. By his choice, however, he shews what ardent love glowed in his breast. There is nothing said here as to earthly advantages, but as to spiritual benefit, which is on good grounds supremely desirable in the view of the pious. Paul, however, as if forgetful of himself, does not merely hold himself undetermined, lest he should be swayed by a regard to his own benefit rather than that of the Philippians, but at length concludes that a regard to them preponderates in his mind. And assuredly this is in reality to live and die to Christ, when, with indifference as to ourselves, we allow ourselves to be carried and borne away withersoever Christ calls us.

Having a desire to be set free and to be with Christ. These two things must be read in connection. For death of itself will never be desired, because such a desire is at variance with natural feeling, but is desired for some particular reason, or with a view to some other end. Persons in despair have recourse to it from having become weary of life; believers, on the other hand, willingly hasten forward to it, because it is a deliverance from the bondage of sin, and an introduction into the kingdom of heaven. What Paul now says is this; “I desire to die, because I will, by this means, come into immediate connection with Christ.”In the mean time, believers do not cease to regard death with horror, but when they turn their eyes to that life which follows death, they easily overcome all dread by means of that consolation. Unquestionably, every one that believes in Christ ought to be so courageous as to lift up his head on mention being made of death, delighted to have intimation of his redemption. (<422128>Luke 21:28.) From this we see how many are Christians only in name, since the greater part, on hearing mention made of death, are not merely alarmed, but are rendered almost lifeless through fear, as though they had never heard a single word respecting Christ. O the worth and value of a good conscience! Now faith is the foundation of a good conscience; nay more, it is itself goodness of conscience.

To be set free. This form of expression is to be observed. Profane persons speak of death as the destruction of man, as if he altogether perished. Paul here reminds us, that death is the separation of the soul from the body. And this he expresses more fully immediately afterwards, explaining as to what condition awaits believers after death — that of dwelling with Christ. We are with Christ even in this life, inasmuch as the kingdom of God is within us, (<421721>Luke 17:21,) and Christ dwells in us by faith, (<490317>Ephesians 3:17,) and has promised that he will be with us even unto the end of the world, (<402820>Matthew 28:20,) but that presence we enjoy only in hope. Hence as to our feeling, we are said to be at present at a distance from him. See <470506>2 Corinthians 5:6. This passage is of use for setting aside the mad fancy of those who dream that souls sleep when separated from the body, for Paul openly declares that we enjoy Christ’s presence on being set free from the body.

25. And having this confidence. Some, reckoning it an inconsistent thing that the Apostle ft82 should acknowledge himself to have been disappointed of his expectation, are of opinion that he was afterwards freed from bonds, and went over many countries of the world. Their fears, however, as to this are groundless, for the saints are accustomed to regulate their expectations according to the word of God, so as not to promise themselves more than God has promised. Thus, when they have a sure token of God’s will, they in that case place their reliance also upon a sure persuasion, which admits of no hesitation. Of this nature is a persuasion respecting a perpetual remission of sins, respecting the aid of the Spirit for the grace of final perseverance, (as it is called,) and respecting the resurrection of the flesh. Of this nature, also, was the assurance of the Prophets respecting their prophecies. As to other things, they expect nothing except conditionally, and hence they subject all events to the providence of God, who, they allow, sees more distinctly than they. To remain, means here, to stay for a little while: to continue, means, to remain for a long time.

26. That your glorying. The expression which he employs, ejn ejmo>i, I have rendered de me (as to me,) because the preposition is made use of twice, but in different senses. No one assuredly will deny that I have faithfully brought out Paul’s mind. The rendering given by some — per Christum, (through Christ,) I do not approve of. For in Christ is employed in place of Secundum Christum, (According to Christ,) or Christiane, (Christianly,) to intimate that it was a holy kind of glorying. For otherwise we are commanded to glory in God alone. (<460131>1 Corinthians 1:31.) Hence malevolent persons might meet Paul with the objection, How is it allowable for the Philippians to glory as to thee? He anticipates this calumny by saying that they will do this according to Christ — glorying in a servant of Christ, with a view to the glory of his Lord, and that with an eye to the doctrine rather than to the individual, and in opposition to the false apostles, just as David, by comparing himself with hypocrites, boasts of his righteousness. (<190708>Psalm 7:8.)

<500127>Philippians 1:27-30

27. Only let your conversation 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;

27. Tantum digne Evangelio Christi conversamini: ut sive veniens videam vos, sive absens, audiam de vobis, quod stetis in uno spiritu, una anima, concertantes fide Evangelii.

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.

28. Nec ulla in re terreamini ab adversariis, quae illis est demonstratio exitii: vobis autem salutis, idque a Deo.

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;

29. Quia vobis donatum est pro Christo, non tantum ut in illum credatis, sed etiam ut pro ipso patiamini:

30. Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

30. Idem habentes certamen, quale vidistis in me, et nunc auditis de me.


27. Only in a manner worthy of the gospel. We make use of this form of expression, when we are inclined to pass on to a new subject. Thus it is as though he had said, “But as for me, the Lord will provide, but as for you, etc., whatever may take place as to me, let it be your care, nevertheless, to go forward in the right course.”When he speaks of a pure and honorable conversation as being worthy of the gospel, he intimates, on the other hand, that those who live otherwise do injustice to the gospel.

That whether I come. As the Greek phrase made use of by Paul is elliptical, I have made use of videam, (I see,) instead of videns (seeing.) If this does not appear satisfactory, you may supply the principal verb Intelligam, (I may learn,) in this sense: “Whether, when I shall come and see you, or whether I shall, when absent, hear respecting your condition, I may learn in both ways, both by being present and by receiving intelligence, that ye stand in one spirit.”We need not, however, feel anxiety as to particular terms, when the meaning is evident.

Stand in one spirit. This, certainly, is one of the main excellences of the Church, and hence this is one means of preserving it in a sound state, inasmuch as it is torn to pieces by dissensions. But although Paul was desirous by means of this antidote to provide against novel and strange doctrines, yet he requires a twofold unity — of spirit and soul. The first is, that we have like views; the second, that we be united in heart. For when these two terms are connected together, spiritus (spirit) denotes the understanding, while anima (soul) denotes the will. Farther, agreement of views comes first in order; and then from it springs union of inclination.

Striving together for the faith. This is the strongest bond of concord, when we have to fight together under the same banner, for this has often been the occasion of reconciling even the greatest enemies. Hence, in order that he may confirm the more the unity that existed among the Philippians, he calls them to notice that they are fellow-soldiers, who, having a common enemy and a common warfare, ought to have their minds united together in a holy agreement. The expression which Paul has made use of in the Greek (sunaqlou~ntev th~| pi>stei) is ambiguous. The old interpreter renders it Collaborantes fidei, (laboring together with the faith.) f84 Erasmus renders it Adiuvantes fidem, (Helping the faith,) as if meaning, that they gave help to the faith to the utmost of their power. As, however, the dative in Greek is made use of instead of the ablative of instrumentality, (that language having no ablative,) I have no doubt that the Apostle’s meaning is this: “Let the faith of the gospel unite you together, more especially as that is a common armory against one and the same enemy.”In this way the particle su>n, which others refer to faith, I take as referring to the Philippians, and with greater propriety, if I am not mistaken. In the first place, every one is aware how effectual an inducement it is to concord, when we have to maintain a conflict together; and farther, we know that in the spiritual warfare we are armed with the shield of faith, (<490616>Ephesians 6:16,) for repelling the enemy; nay, more, faith is both our panoply and our victory. Hence he added this clause, that he might shew what is the end of a pious connection. The wicked, too, conspire together for evil, but their agreement is accursed: let us, therefore, contend with one mind under the banner of faith.

28. And in nothing terrified. The second thing which he recommends to the Philippians is fortitude of mind, f85 that they may not be thrown into confusion by the rage of their adversaries. At that time the most cruel persecutions raged almost everywhere, because Satan strove with all his might to impede the commencement of the gospel, and was the more enraged in proportion as Christ put forth powerfully the grace of his Spirit. He exhorts, therefore, the Philippians to stand forward undaunted, and not be thrown into alarm.

Which is to them a manifest proof. This is the proper meaning of the Greek word, and there was no consideration that made it necessary for others to render it cause. For the wicked, when they wage war against the Lord, do already by a trial-fight, as it were, give a token of their ruin, and the more fiercely they insult over the pious, the more do they prepare themselves for ruin. The Scripture, assuredly, nowhere teaches, that the afflictions which the saints endure from the wicked are the cause of their salvation, but Paul in another instance, too, speaks of them as a manifest token or proof, (<530105>2 Thessalonians 1:5,) and instead of e]ndeixin, which we have here, he in that passage makes use of the term e]ndeigma. f86 This, therefore, is a choice consolation, that when we are assailed and harassed by our enemies, we have an evidence of our salvation. f87 For persecutions are in a manner seals of adoption to the children of God, if they endure them with fortitude and patience: the wicked give a token of their condemnation, because they stumble against a stone by which they shall be bruised to pieces. (<402144>Matthew 21:44.)

And that from God. This is restricted to the last clause, that a taste of the grace of God may allay the bitterness of the cross. No one will naturally perceive the cross a token or evidence of salvation, for they are things that are contrary in appearance. Hence Paul calls the attention of the Philippians to another consideration — that God by his blessing turns into an occasion of welfare things that might otherwise seem to render us miserable. He proves it from this, that the endurance of the cross is the gift of God. Now it is certain, that all the gifts of God are salutary to us. To you, says he, it is given, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for him. Hence even the sufferings themselves are evidences of the grace of God; and, since it is so, you have from this source a token of salvation. Oh, if this persuasion were effectually inwrought in our minds — that persecutions f88 are to be reckoned among God’s benefits, what progress would be made in the doctrine of piety! f89 And yet, what is more certain, than that it is the highest honor that is conferred upon us by Divine grace, that we suffer for his name either reproach, or imprisonment, or miseries, or tortures, or even death, for in that case he adorns us with his markes of distinction. f90 But more will be found that will rather bid God retire with gifts of that nature, than embrace with alacrity the cross when it is presented to them. Alas, then, for our stupidity! f91

29. To believe. He wisely conjoins faith with the cross by an inseparable connection, that the Philippians may know that they have been called to the faith of Christ on this condition — that they endure persecutions on his account, as though he had said that their adoption can no more be separated from the cross, than Christ can be torn asunder from himself. Here Paul clearly testifies, that faith, as well as constancy in enduring persecutions, f92 is an unmerited gift of God. And certainly the knowledge of God is a wisdom that is too high for our attaining it by our own acuteness, and our weakness shews itself in daily instances in our own experience, when God withdraws his hand for a little while. That he may intimate the more distinctly that both are unmerited, he says expressly — for Christ’s sake, or at least that they are given to us on the ground of Christ’s grace; by which he excludes every idea of merit.

This passage is also at variance with the doctrine of the schoolmen, in maintaining that gifts of grace latterly conferred are rewards of our merit, on the ground of our having made a right use of those which had been previously bestowed. I do not deny, indeed, that God rewards the right use of his gifts of grace by bestowing grace more largely upon us, provided only you do not place merit, as they do, in opposition to his unmerited liberality and the merit of Christ.

30. Having the same conflict. He confirms, also, by his own example what he had said, and this adds no little authority to his doctrine. By the same means, too, he shews them, that there is no reason why they should feel troubled on account of his bonds, when they behold the issue of the conflict.


Philippians 1-4

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,

1. Si qua igitur consolatio (vel, exhortatio) in Christo, si quod solatium dilectionis, si qua communicatio Spiritus, si qua viscera et misericordiae. f93

2. Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

2. Implete gaudium meum ut idem sentiatis, eandem habentes caritatem, unanimes, unum sentientes.

3. Let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

3. Nihil per contentionem, aut inanem gloriam, sed per humilitatem alii alios existiment se ipsis excellentiores.

4. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

4. Non considerans quisque quod suum est, sed quisque quod est aliorum.


1. If there is therefore any consolation. There is an extraordinary tenderness in this exhortation, f94 in which he entreats by all means the Philippians mutually to cherish harmony among themselves, lest, in the event of their being torn asunder by intestine contentions, they should expose themselves to the impostures of the false apostles. For when there are disagreements, there is invariably a door opened for Satan to disseminate impious doctrines, while agreement is the best bulwark for repelling them.

As the term paraklh>sewv is often taken to mean exhortation, the commencement of the passage might be explained in this manner: “If an exhortation which is delivered in the name and by the authority of Christ, has any weight with you.” The other meaning, however, corresponds better with the context: “If there is among you any consolation of Christ,”by means of which you may alleviate my griefs, and if you would afford me any consolation and relief, which you assuredly owe me in the exercise of love; if you take into view that fellowship of the Spirit, which ought to make us all one; if any feeling of humanity and mercy resides in you, which might stir you up to alleviate my miseries, fulfill ye my joy, etc. From this we may infer, how great a blessing unity in the Church is, and with what eagerness pastors should endeavor to secure it. f95 We must also at the same time take notice, how he humbles himself by beseechingly imploring their pity, while he might have availed himself of his paternal authority, so as to demand respect from them as his sons. f96 He knew how to exercise authority when it was necessary, but at present he prefers to use entreaties, because he knew that these would be better fitted to gain an entrance into their affections, f97 and because he was aware that he had to do with persons who were docile and compliant. In this manner the pastor must have no hesitation to assume different aspects for the sake of the Church. f98

2. Fulfil ye my joy. Here again we may see how little anxiety he had as to himself, provided only it went well with the Church of Christ. He was kept shut up in prison, and bound with chains; he was reckoned worthy of capital punishment — before his view were tortures — near at hand was the executioner; yet all these things do not prevent his experiencing unmingled joy, provided he sees that the Churches are in a good condition. Now what he reckons the chief indication of a prosperous condition of the Church is — when mutual agreement prevails in it, and brotherly harmony. Thus the 137th Psalm teaches us in like manner, that our crowning joy is the remembrance of Jerusalem. (<19D706>Psalm 137:6.) But if this were the completion of Paul’s joy, the Philippians would have been worse than cruel if they had tortured the mind of this holy man with a twofold anguish by disagreement among themselves.

That ye think the same thing. The sum is this — that they be joined together in views and inclinations. For he makes mention of agreement in doctrine and mutual love; and afterwards, repeating the same thing, (in my opinion,) he exhorts them to be of one mind, and to have the same views. The expression to< aujto<, (the same thing,) implies that they must accommodate themselves to each other. Hence the beginning of love is harmony of views, but that is not sufficient, unless men’s hearts are at the same time joined together in mutual affection. At the same time there were no inconsistency in rendering it thus: — “that ye may be of the same mind — so as to have mutual love, to be one in mind and one in views;”for participles are not unfrequently made use of instead of infinitives. I have adopted, however, the view which seemed to me less forced.

3. Nothing through strife or vain-glory. These are two most dangerous pests for disturbing the peace of the Church. Strife is awakened when every one is prepared to maintain pertinaciously his own opinion; and when it has once begun to rage it rushes headlong f99 in the direction from which it has entered. Vain-glory f100 tickles men’s minds, so that every one is delighted with his own inventions. Hence the only way of guarding against dissensions is — when we avoid strifes by deliberating and acting peacefully, especially if we are not actuated by ambition. For ambition is a means of fanning all strifes. f101 Vain-glory means any glorying in the flesh; for what ground of glorying have men in themselves that is not vanity?

But by humility. For both diseases he brings forward one remedy — humility, and with good reason, for it is the mother of moderation, the effect of which is that, yielding up our own right, we give the preference to others, and are not easily thrown into agitation. He gives a definition of true humility — when every one esteems himself less than others. Now, if anything in our whole life is difficult, this above everything else is so. Hence it is not to be wondered if humility is so rare a virtue. For, as one says, f102 “Every one has in himself the mind of a king, by claiming everything for himself.”See! here is pride. Afterwards from a foolish admiration of ourselves arises contempt of the brethren. And so far as we from what Paul here enjoins, that one can hardly endure that others should be on a level with him, for there is no one that is not eager to have superiority.

But it is asked, how it is possible that one who is in reality distinguished above others can reckon those to be superior to him who he knows are greatly beneath him? I answer, that this altogether depends on a right estimate of God’s gifts, and our own infirmities. For however any one may be distinguished by illustrious endowments, he ought to consider with himself that they have not been conferred upon him that he might be self-complacent, that he might exalt himself, or even that he might hold himself in esteem. Let him, instead of this, employ himself in correcting and detecting his faults, and he will have abundant occasion for humility. In others, on the other hand, he will regard with honor whatever there is of excellences, and will by means of love bury their faults. The man who will observe this rule, will feel no difficulty in preferring others before himself. And this, too, Paul meant when he added, that they ought not to have every one a regard to themselves, but to their neighbors, or that they ought not to be devoted to themselves. Hence it is quite possible that a pious man, even though he should be aware that he is superior, may nevertheless hold others in greater esteem.

<501405>Philippians 2:5-11

5. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

5. Hoc enim sentiatur in vobis quod et in Christo Iesu:

6. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God;

6. Qui quum in forma Dei esset, non rapinam arbitratus esset, Deo aequalem se esse:

7. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

7. Sed se ipsum exinanivit, forma servi accepta, in similitudine hominum constitutus, et forma repertus ut homo.

8. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,

8. Humiliavit, inquam, se ipsum, factus obediens usque ad mortem, mortem vero crucis.

9. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

9. Quamobrem et Deus illum superexaltavit, et dedit illi nomen quod esset super omne nomen,

10. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

10. Ut in nomine Iesu omne genu flectatur, cĉlestium, terrestrium, et infernorum,

11. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

11. Et omnis lingua confiteatur, quod Dominus Iesus in gloriam est Dei Patris.


5. He now recommends, from the example of Christ, the exercise of humility, to which he had exhorted them in words. There are, however, two departments, in the first of which he invites us to imitate Christ, because this is the rule of life: f103 in the second, he allures us to it, because this is the road by which we attain true glory. Hence he exhorts every one to have the same disposition that was in Christ. He afterwards shews what a pattern of humility has been presented before us in Christ. I have retained the passive form of the verb, though I do not disapprove of the rendering given it by others, because there is no difference as to meaning. I merely wished that the reader should be in possession of the very form of expression which Paul has employed.

6. Inasmuch as he was in the form of God. This is not a comparison between things similar, but in the way of greater and less. Christ’s humility consisted in his abasing himself from the highest pinnacle of glory to the lowest ignominy: our humility consists in refraining from exalting ourselves by a false estimation. He gave up his right: all that is required of us is, that we do not assume to ourselves more than we ought. Hence he sets out with this — that, inasmuch as he was in the form of God, he reckoned it not an unlawful thing for him to shew himself in that form; yet he emptied himself. Since, then, the Son of God descended from so great a height, how unreasonable that we, who are nothing, should be lifted up with pride!

The form of God means here his majesty. For as a man is known by the appearance of his form, so the majesty, which shines forth in God, is his figure. f104 Or if you would prefer a more apt similitude, the form of a king is his equipage and magnificence, shewing him to be a king — his scepter, his crown, his mantle, f105 his attendants, f106 his judgment-throne, and other emblems of royalty; the form of a consul was — his long robe, bordered with purple, his ivory seat, his lictors with rods and hatchets. Christ, then, before the creation of the world, was in the form of God, because from the beginning he had his glory with the Father, as he says in <431705>John 17:5. For in the wisdom of God, prior to his assuming our flesh, there was nothing mean or contemptible, but on the contrary a magnificence worth of God. Being such as he was, he could, without doing wrong to any one, shew himself equal with God; but he did not manifest himself to be what he really was, nor did he openly assume in the view of men what belonged to him by right.

Thought it not robbery. There would have been no wrong done though he had shewn himself to be equal with God. For when he says, he would not have thought, it is as though he had said, “He knew, indeed, that this was lawful and right for him,”that we might know that his abasement was voluntary, not of necessity. Hitherto it has been rendered in the indicative — he thought, but the connection requires the subjunctive. It is also quite a customary thing for Paul to employ the past indicative in the place of the subjunctive, by leaving the potential particle a]n, as it is called, to be supplied — as, for example, in <450903>Romans 9:3, hujco>mhn, for I would have wished; and in <460208>1 Corinthians 2:8; eij ga<r e]gnwsan, if they had known. Every one, however, must perceive that Paul treats hitherto of Christ’s glory, which tends to enhance his abasement. Accordingly he mentions, not what Christ did, but what it was allowable for him to do.

Farther, that man is utterly blind who does not perceive that his eternal divinity is clearly set forth in these words. Nor does Erasmus act with sufficient modesty in attempting, by his cavils, to explain away this passage, as well as other similar passages. f107 He acknowledges, indeed, everywhere that Christ is God; but what am I the better for his orthodox confession, if my faith is not supported by any Scripture authority? I acknowledge, certainly, that Paul does not make mention here of Christ’s divine essence; but it does not follow from this, that the passage is not sufficient for repelling the impiety of the Arians, who pretended that Christ was a created God, and inferior to the Father, and denied that he was consubstantial. f108 For where can there be equality with God without robbery, excepting only where there is the essence of God; for God always remains the same, who cries by Isaiah, I live; I will not give my glory to another. (<234811>Isaiah 48:11.) Form means figure or appearance, as they commonly speak. This, too, I readily grant; but will there be found, apart from God, such a form, so as to be neither false nor forged? As, then, God is known by means of his excellences, and his works are evidences of his eternal Godhead, (<450120>Romans 1:20,) so Christ’s divine essence is rightly proved from Christ’s majesty, which he possessed equally with the Father before he humbled himself. As to myself, at least, not even all devils would wrest this passage from me — inasmuch as there is in God a most solid argument, from his glory to his essence, which are two things that are inseparable.

7. Emptied himself. This emptying is the same as the abasement, as to which we shall see afterwards. The expression, however, is used, eumfatikwte>rwv, (more emphatically,) to mean, — being brought to nothing. Christ, indeed, could not divest himself of Godhead; but he kept it concealed for a time, that it might not be seen, under the weakness of the flesh. Hence he laid aside his glory in the view of men, not by lessening it, but by concealing it.

It is asked, whether he did this as man? Erasmus answers in the affirmative. But where was the form of God before he became man? Hence we must reply, that Paul speaks of Christ wholly, as he was God manifested in the flesh, (<540316>1 Timothy 3:16;) but, nevertheless, this emptying is applicable exclusive to his humanity, as if I should say of man, “Man being mortal, he is exceedingly senseless if he thinks of nothing but the world,”I refer indeed to man wholly; but at the same time I ascribe mortality only to a part of him, namely, to the body. As, then, Christ has one person, consisting of two natures, it is with propriety that Paul says, that he who was the Son of God, — in reality equal to God, did nevertheless lay aside his glory, when he in the flesh manifested himself in the appearance of a servant.

It is also asked, secondly, how he can be said to be emptied, while he, nevertheless, invariably proved himself, by miracles and excellences, to be the Son of God, and in whom, as John testifies, there was always to be seen a glory worthy of the Son of God? (<430114>John 1:14.) I answer, that the abasement of the flesh was, notwithstanding, like a vail, by which his divine majesty was concealed. On this account he did not wish that his transfiguration should be made public until after his resurrection; and when he perceives that the hour of his death is approaching, he then says, Father, glorify thy Son. (<431701>John 17:1.) Hence, too, Paul teaches elsewhere, that he was declared to be the Son of God by means of his resurrection. (<450104>Romans 1:4.) He also declares in another place, (<471304>2 Corinthians 13:4,) that he suffered through the weakness of the flesh. In fine, the image of God shone forth in Christ in such a manner, that he was, at the same time, abased in his outward appearance, and brought down to nothing in the estimation of men; for he carried about with him the form of a servant, and had assumed our nature, expressly with the view of his being a servant of the Father, nay, even of men. Paul, too, calls him the Minister of the Circumcision, (<451508>Romans 15:8;) and he himself testifies of himself, that he came to minister, (<402028>Matthew 20:28;) and that same thing had long before been foretold by Isaiah — Behold my servant, etc.

In the likeness of men. Geno>menov is equivalent here to constitutus — (having been appointed.) For Paul means that he had been brought down to the level of mankind, so that there was in appearance nothing that differed from the common condition of mankind. The Marcionites perverted this declaration for the purpose of establishing the phantasm of which they dreamed. They can, however, be refuted without any great difficulty, inasmuch as Paul is treating here simply of the manner in which Christ manifested himself, and the condition with which he was conversant when in the world. Let one be truly man, he will nevertheless be reckoned unlike others, if he conducts himself as if he were exempt from the condition of others. Paul declares that it was not so as to Christ, but that he lived in such a manner, that he seemed as though he were on a level with mankind, and yet he was very different from a mere man, although he was truly man. The Marcionites therefore shewed excessive childishness, in drawing an argument from similarity of condition for the purpose of denying reality of nature. f109

Found means here, known or seen. For he treats, as has been observed, of estimation. In other words, as he had affirmed previously that he was truly God, the equal of the Father, so he here states, that he was reckoned, as it were, abject, and in the common condition of mankind. We must always keep in view what I said a little ago, that such abasement was voluntary.

8. He became obedient. Even this was great humility — that from being Lord he became a servant; but he says that he went farther than this, because, while he was not only immortal, but the Lord of life and death, he nevertheless became obedient to his Father, even so far as to endure death. This was extreme abasement, especially when we take into view the kind of death, which he immediately adds, with the view of enhancing it. f110 For by dying in this manner he was not only covered with ignominy in the sight of God, but was also accursed in the sight of God. It is assuredly such a pattern of humility as ought to absorb the attention of all mankind; so far is it from being possible to unfold it in words in a manner suitable to its dignity.

9. Therefore God hath highly exalted. By adding consolation, he shews that abasement, to which the human mind is averse, is in the highest degree desirable. There is no one, it is true, but will acknowledge that it is a reasonable thing that is required from us, when we are exhorted to imitate Christ. This consideration, however, stirs us up to imitate him the more cheerfully, when we learn that nothing is more advantageous for us than to be conformed to his image. Now, that all are happy who, along with Christ, voluntarily abase themselves, he shews by his example; for from the most abject condition he was exalted to the highest elevation. Every one therefore that humbles himself will in like manner be exalted. Who would now be reluctant to exercise humility, by means of which the glory of the heavenly kingdom is attained?

This passage has given occasion to sophists, or rather they have seized hold of it, to allege that Christ merited first for himself, and afterwards for others. Now, in the first place, even though there were nothing false alleged, it would nevertheless be proper to avoid such profane speculations as obscure the grace of Christ — in imagining that he came for any other reason than with a view to our salvation. Who does not see that this is a suggestion of Satan — that Christ suffered upon the cross, that he might acquire for himself, by the merit of his work, what he did not possess? For it is the design of the Holy Spirit, that we should, in the death of Christ, see, and taste, and ponder, and feel, and recognize nothing but God’s unmixed goodness, and the love of Christ toward us, which was great and inestimable, that, regardless of himself, he devoted himself and his life for our sakes. In every instance in which the Scriptures speak of the death of Christ, they assign to us its advantage and price; — that by means of it we are redeemed — reconciled to God — restored to righteousness — cleansed from our pollutions — life is procured for us, and the gate of life opened. Who, then, would deny that it is at the instigation of Satan that the persons referred to maintain, on the other hand, that the chief part of the advantage is in Christ himself — that a regard to himself had the precedence of that which he had to us — that he merited glory for himself before he merited salvation for us?

Farther, I deny the truth of what they allege, and I maintain that Paul’s words are impiously perverted to the establishment of their falsehood; for that the expression, for this cause, denotes here a consequence rather than a reason, is manifest from this, that it would otherwise follow, that a man could merit Divine honors, and acquire the very throne of God — which is not merely absurd, but even dreadful to make mention of. For of what exaltation of Christ does the Apostle here speak? It is, that everything may be accomplished in him that God, by the prophet Isaiah, exclusively claims to himself. Hence the glory of God, and the majesty, which is so peculiar to him, that it cannot be transferred to any other, will be the reward of man’s work!

Again, if they should urge the mode of expression, without any regard to the absurdity that will follow, the reply will be easy — that he has been given us by the Father in such a manner, that his whole life is as a mirror that is set before us. As, then, a mirror, though it has splendor, has it not for itself, but with the view of its being advantageous and profitable to others, so Christ did not seek or receive anything for himself, but everything for us. For what need, I ask, had he, who was the equal of the Father, of a new exaltation? Let, then, pious readers learn to detest the Sorbonnic sophists with their perverted speculations.

Hath given him a name. Name here is employed to mean dignity — a manner of expression which is abundantly common in all languagges — “Jacet sine nomine truncus; He lies a headless nameless carcass.” f111 The mode of expression, however, is more especially common in Scripture. The meaning therefore is, that supreme power was given to Christ, and that he was placed in the highest rank of honor, so that there is no dignity found either in heaven or in earth that is equal to his. Hence it follows that it is a Divine name. f112 This, too, he explains by quoting the words of Isaiah, where the Prophet, when treating of the propagation of the worship of God throughout the whole world, introduces God as speaking thus: —

“I live: every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will swear to me,”etc. (<234523>Isaiah 45:23.)

Now, it is certain that adoration is here meant, which belongs peculiarly to God alone. I am aware that some philosophise with subtlety as to the name Jesus, as though it were derived from the ineffable name Jehovah. f113 In the reason, however, which they advance, I find no solidity. As for me, I feel no pleasure in empty subtleties; f114 and it is dangerous to trifle in a matter of such importance. Besides, who does not see that it is a forced, and anything rather than a genuine, exposition, when Paul speaks of Christ’s whole dignity, to restrict his meaning to two syllables, as if any one were to examine attentively the letters of the word Alexander, in order to find in them the greatness of the name that Alexander acquired for himself. Their subtlety, therefore, is not solid, and the contrivance is foreign to Paul’s intention. But worse than ridiculous is the conduct of the Sorbonnic sophists, who infer from the passage before us that we ought to bow the knee whenever the name of Jesus is pronounced, as though it were a magic word which had all virtue included in the sound of it. f115 Paul, on the other hand, speaks of the honor that is to be rendered to the Son of God—not to mere syllables.

10. Every knee might bow. Though respect is shewn to men also be means of this rite, there can nevertheless be no doubt that what is here meant is that adoration which belongs exclusively to God, of which the bending of the knee is a token. f116 As to this, it is proper to notice, that God is to be worshipped, not merely with the inward affection of the heart, but also by outward profession, if we would render to him what is his due. Hence, on the other hand, when he would describe his genuine worshippers, he says that they

have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
(<111918>1 Kings 19:18.)

But here a question arises — whether this relates to the divinity of Christ or to his humanity, for either of the two is not without some inconsistency, inasmuch as nothing new could be given to his divinity; and his humanity in itself, viewed separately, has by no means such exaltation belonging to it that it should be adored as God? I answer, that this, like many things else, is affirmed in reference to Christ’s entire person, viewed as God manifested in the flesh. (<540316>1 Timothy 3:16.) For he did not abase himself either as to his humanity alone, or as to his divinity alone, but inasmuch as, clothed in our flesh, he concealed himself under its infirmity. So again God exalted his own Son in the same flesh, in which he had lived in the world abject and despised, to the highest rank of honor, that he may sit at his right hand.

Paul, however, appears to be inconsistent with himself; for in <451411>Romans 14:11, he quotes this same passage, when he has it in view to prove that Christ will one day be the judge of the living and the dead. Now, it would not be applicable to that subject, if it were already accomplished, as he here declares. I answer, that the kingdom of Christ is on such a footing, that it is every day growing and making improvement, while at the same time perfection is not yet attained, nor will be until the final day of reckoning. Thus both things hold true — that all things are now subject to Christ, and that this subjection will, nevertheless, not be complete until the day of the resurrection, because that which is now only begun will then be completed. Hence, it is not without reason that this prophecy is applied in different ways at different times, as also all the other prophecies, which speak of the reign of Christ, do not restrict it to one particular time, but describe it in its entire course. From this, however, we infer that Christ is that eternal God who spoke by Isaiah.

Things in heaven, things on earth, things under the earth. Since Paul represents all things from heaven to hell as subject to Christ, Papists trifle childishly when they draw purgatory from his words. Their reasoning, however, is this — that devils are so far from bowing the knee to Christ, that they are in every way rebellious against him, and stir up others to rebellion, as if it were not at the same time written that they tremble at the simple mention of God. (<590219>James 2:19.) How will it be, then, when they shall come before the tribunal of Christ? I confess, indeed, that they are not, and never will be, subject of their own accord and by cheerful submission; but Paul is not speaking here of voluntary obedience; nay more, we may, on the contrary, turn back upon them an argument, by way of retortion, (antistre>fon,) in this manner:—”The fire of purgatory, according to them, is temporary, and will be done away at the day of judgment: hence this passage cannot be understood as to purgatory, because Paul elsewhere declares that this prophecy will not be fulfilled until Christ shall manifest himself for judgment.”Who does not see that they are twice children in respect of these disgusting frivolities? f117

11. Is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. It might also be read, In the glory, because the particle eijv (to) is often used in place of ejn (in.) I prefer, however, to retain its proper signification, as meaning, that as the majesty of God has been manifested to men through Christ, so it shines forth in Christ, and the Father is glorified in the Son. See <430517>John 5:17, and you will find an exposition of this passage.

<503512>Philippians 2:12-16

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:

12. Itaque amici mei, quemadmodum semper obedistis, ne quasi in praesentia mea solum, sed nunc multo magis in absentia mea, cum timore et tremore vestram salutem operamini:

13. For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

13. Deus enim est, qui efficit in vobis et velle et efficere, pro bona voluntate.

14. Do all things without murmurings and disputings;

14. Omnia facite absque murmurationibus et disceptationibus,

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:

15. Ut sitis tales, de quibus nemo conqueratur, et sinceri filii Dei irreprehensibiles, in medio generationis pravae et tortuosae, inter quos lucete, tanquam luminaria in mundo:

16. Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.

16. Sermonem vitae sustinentes, in gloriam meam, in diem Christi, quod non frustra cucurrerim, nec frustra laboraverim.


12. Therefore, etc. He concludes the whole of the preceding exhortation with a general statement — that they should humble themselves under the Lord’s hand, for that will very readily secure, that, laying aside all arrogance, they will be gentle and indulgent to each other. This is the only befitting way in which the mind of man may learn gentleness, when one who, while viewing himself apart, pleased himself in his hiding-places, comes to examine himself as compared with God.

As ye have always obeyed. He commends their previous obedience, that he may encourage them the more to persevere. As, however, it is the part of hypocrites to approve themselves before others, but so soon as they have withdrawn from public view, to indulge themselves more freely, as if every occasion of reverence and fear were removed, he admonishes them not to shew themselves obedient in his presence merely, but also, and even much more, in his absence. For if he were present, he could stimulate and urge them on by continued admonitions. Now, therefore, when their monitor is at a distance from them, f118 there is need that they should stir up themselves.

With fear and trembling. In this way he would have the Philippians testify and approve their obedience — by being submissive and humble. Now the source of humility is this — acknowledging how miserable we are, and devoid of all good. To this he calls them in this statement. For whence comes pride, but from the assurance which blind confidence produces, when we please ourselves, and are more puffed up with confidence in our own virtue, than prepared to rest upon the grace of God. In contrast with this vice is that fear to which he exhorts. Now, although exhortation comes before doctrine, in the connection of the passage, it is in reality after it, in point of arrangement, inasmuch as it is derived from it. I shall begin, accordingly, with doctrine.

13. It is God that worketh. This is the true engine for bringing down all haughtiness — this the sword for putting an end to all pride, when we are taught that we are utterly nothing, and can do nothing, except through the grace of God alone. I mean supernatural grace, which comes forth from the spirit of regeneration. For, considered as men, we already are, and live and move in God. (<441728>Acts 17:28.) But Paul reasons here as to a kind of movement different from that universal one. Let us now observe how much he ascribes to God, and how much he leaves to us.

There are, in any action, two principal departments — the inclination, and the power to carry it into effect. Both of these he ascribes wholly to God; what more remains to us as a ground of glorying? Nor is there any reason to doubt that this division has the same force as if Paul had expressed the whole in a single word; for the inclination is the groundwork; the accomplishment of it is the summit of the building brought to a completion. He has also expressed much more than if he had said that God is the Author of the beginning and of the end. For in that case sophists would have alleged, by way of cavil, that something between the two was left to men. But as it is, what will they find that is in any degree peculiar to us? They toil hard in their schools to reconcile with the grace of God free-will — of such a nature, I mean, as they conceive of — which might be capable of turning itself by its own movement, and might have a peculiar and separate power, by which it might co-operate with the grace of God. I do not dispute as to the name, but as to the thing itself. In order, therefore, that free-will may harmonize with grace, they divide in such a manner, that God restores in us a free choice, that we may have it in our power to will aright. Thus they acknowledge to have received from God the power of willing aright, but assign to man a good inclination. Paul, however, declares this to be a work of God, without any reservation. For he does not say that our hearts are simply turned or stirred up, or that the infirmity of a good will is helped, but that a good inclination is wholly the work of God. f119

Now, in the calumny brought forward by them against us — that we make men to be like stones, when we teach that they have nothing good, except from pure grace, they act a shameless part. For we acknowledge that we have from nature an inclination, but as it is depraved through the corruption of sin, it begins to be good only when it has been renewed by God. Nor do we say that a man does anything good without willing it, but that it is only when his inclination is regulated by the Spirit of God. Hence, in so far as concerns this department, we see that the entire praise is ascribed to God, and that what sophists teach us is frivolous — that grace is offered to us, and placed, as it were, in the midst of us, that we may embrace it if we choose; for if God did not work in us efficaciously, he could not be said to produce in us a good inclination. As to the second department, we must entertain the same view. “God,”says he, “is   JO ejnergw~n to ejnergei~n he that worketh in us to do.”He brings, therefore, to perfection those pious dispositions which he has implanted in us, that they may not be unproductive, as he promises by Ezekiel, —

“I will cause them to walk in my commandments.”
(<261120>Ezekiel 11:20.)

From this we infer that perseverance, also, is his free gift.

According to his good pleasure. Some explain this to mean — the good intention of the mind. f120 I, on the other hand, take it rather as referring to God, and understand by it his benevolent disposition, which they commonly call beneplacitum, (good pleasure.) For the Greek word eujdoki>a is very frequently employed in this sense; and the context requires it. For Paul has it in view to ascribe everything to God, and to take everything from us. Accordingly, not satisfied with having assigned to God the production both of willing and of doing aright, he ascribes both to his unmerited mercy. By this means he shuts out the contrivance of the sophists as to subsequent grace, which they imagine to be the reward of merit. Hence he teaches, that the whole course of our life, if we live aright, is regulated by God, and that, too, from his unmerited goodness.

With fear and trembling. From this Paul deduces an exhortation — that they must with fear work out their own salvation. He conjoins, as he is accustomed, fear and trembling, for the sake of greater intensity, to denote — serious and anxious fear. He, accordingly, represses drowsiness as well as confidence. By the term work he reproves our indolence, which is always ingenious in seeking advantages. f121 Now it seems as if it had in the grace of God a sweet occasion of repose; for if He worketh in us, why should we not indulge ourselves at our ease? The Holy Spirit, however, calls us to consider, that he wishes to work upon living organs, but he immediately represses arrogance by recommending fear and trembling.

The inference, also, is to be carefully observed: “You have,”says he, “all things from God; therefore be solicitous and humble.”For there is nothing that ought to train us more to modesty and fear, than our being taught, that it is by the grace of God alone that we stand, and will instantly fall down, if he even in the slightest degree withdraw his hand. Confidence in ourselves produces carelessness and arrogance. We know from experience, that all who confide in their own strength, grow insolent through presumption, and at the same time, devoid of care, resign themselves to sleep. The remedy for both evils is, when, distrusting ourselves, we depend entirely on God alone. And assuredly, that man has made decided progress in the knowledge, both of the grace of God, and of his own weakness, who, aroused from carelessness, diligently seeks f122 God’s help; while those that are puffed up with confidence in their own strength, must necessarily be at the same time in a state of intoxicated security. Hence it is a shameless calumny that Papists bring against us, — that in extolling the grace of God, and putting down free-will, we make men indolent, shake off the fear of God, and destroy all feeling of concern. It is obvious, however, to every reader, that Paul finds matter of exhortation here — not in the doctrine of Papists, but in what is held by us. “God,”says he, “works all things in us; therefore submit to him with fear.”I do not, indeed, deny that there are many who, on being told that there is in us nothing that is good, indulge themselves the more freely in their vices; but I deny that this is the fault of the doctrine, which, on the contrary, when received as it ought to be, produces in our hearts a feeling of concern.

Papists, however, pervert this passage so as to shake the assurance of faith, for the man that trembles f123 is in uncertainty. They, accordingly, understand Paul’s words as if they meant that we ought, during our whole life, to waver as to assurance of salvation. If, however, we would not have Paul contradict himself, he does not by any means exhort us to hesitation, inasmuch as he everywhere recommends confidence and (plhrofori>an) full assurance. The solution, however, is easy, if any one is desirous of attaining the true meaning without any spirit of contention. There are two kinds of fear; the one produces anxiety along with humility; the other hesitation. The former is opposed to fleshly confidence and carelessness, equally as to arrogance; the latter, to assurance of faith. Farther, we must take notice, that, as believers repose with assurance upon the grace of God, so, when they direct their views to their own frailty, they do not by any means resign themselves carelessly to sleep, but are by fear of dangers stirred up to prayer. Yet, so far is this fear from disturbing tranquillity of conscience, and shaking confidence, that it rather confirms it. For distrust of ourselves leads us to lean more confidently upon the mercy of God. And this is what Paul’s words import, for he requires nothing from the Philippians, but that they submit themselves to God with true self-renunciation.

Work out your own salvation. As Pelagians of old, so Papists at this day make a proud boast of this passage, with the view of extolling man’s excellence. Nay more, when the preceding statement is mentioned to them by way of objection, It is God that worketh in us, etc., they immediately by this shield ward it off (so to speak) — Work out your own salvation. Inasmuch, then, as the work is ascribed to God and man in common, they assign the half to each. In short, from the word work they derive free-will; from the term salvation they derive the merit of eternal life. I answer, that salvation is taken to mean the entire course of our calling, and that this term includes all things, by which God accomplishes that perfection, to which he has predestinated us by his gracious choice. This no one will deny, that is not obstinate and impudent. We are said to perfect it, when, under the regulation of the Spirit, we aspire after a life of blessedness. It is God that calls us, and offers to us salvation; it is our part to embrace by faith what he gives, and by obedience act suitably to his calling; but we have neither from ourselves. Hence we act only when he has prepared us for acting.

The word which he employs properly signifies — to continue until the end; but we must keep in mind what I have said, that Paul does not reason here as to how far our ability extends, but simply teaches that God acts in us in such a manner, that he, at the same time, does not allow us to be inactive, f124 but exercises us diligently, after having stirred us up by a secret influence. f125

14. Without murmurings. These are fruits of that humility to which he had exhorted them. For every man that has learned carefully to submit himself to God, without claiming anything for himself, will also conduct himself agreeably among men. When every one makes it his care to please himself, two faults prevail: First, they calumniate one another; and secondly, they strive against one another in contentions. In the first place, accordingly, he forbids malignity and secret enmities; and then, secondly, open contentions. He adds, thirdly, that they give no occasion to others to complain of them — a thing which is wont to arise from excessive moroseness. It is true that hatred is not in all cases to be dreaded; but care must be taken, that we do not make ourselves odious through our own fault, so that the saying should be fulfilled in us, They hated me without a cause. (<193519>Psalm 35:19.) If, however, any one wishes to extend it farther, I do not object to it. For murmurings and disputations spring up, whenever any one, aiming beyond measure at his own advantage, f126 gives to others occasion of complaint. f127 Nay, even this expression may be taken in an active sense, so as to mean — not troublesome or querulous. And this signification will not accord ill with the context, for a querulous temper (memyimoiri>a) f128 is the seed of almost all quarrels and slanderings. He adds sincere, because these pollutions will never come forth from minds that have been purified.

15. The sons of God, unreprovable. It ought to be rendered — unreprovable, because ye are the sons of God. For God’s adoption of us ought to be a motive to a blameless life, that we may in some degree resemble our Father. Now, although there never has been such perfection in the world as to have nothing worthy of reproof, those are, nevertheless, said to be unreprovable who aim at this with the whole bent of their mind, as has been observed elsewhere. f129

In the midst of a wicked generation. Believers, it is true, live on earth, intermingled with the wicked; f130 they breathe the same air, they enjoy the same soil, and at that time f131 they were even more intermingled, inasmuch as there could scarcely be found a single pious family that was not surrounded on all sides by unbelievers. So much the more does Paul stir up the Philippians to guard carefully against all corruptions. The meaning therefore is this: “You are, it is true, inclosed in the midst of the wicked; but, in the mean time, bear in mind that you are, by God’s adoption, separated from them: let there be, therefore, in your manner of life, conspicuous marks by which you may be distinguished. Nay more, this consideration ought to stir you up the more to aim at a pious and holy life, that we may not also be a part of the crooked generation, f132 entangled by their vices and contagion.”

As to his calling them a wicked and crooked generation, this corresponds with the connection of the passage. For he teaches us that we must so much the more carefully take heed on this account — that many occasions of offense are stirred up by unbelievers, which disturb their right course; and the whole life of unbelievers is, as it were, a labyrinth of various windings, that draw us off from the right way. They are, however, notwithstanding, epithets of perpetual application, that are descriptive of unbelievers of all nations and in all ages. For if the heart of man is wicked and unsearchable, (<241709>Jeremiah 17:9,) what will be the fruits springing from such a root? Hence we are taught in these words, that in the life of man there is nothing pure, nothing right, until he has been renewed by the Spirit of God.

Among whom shine ye. The termination of the Greek word is doubtful, for it might be taken as the indicativeye shine; but the imperative suits better with the exhortation. He would have unbelievers be as lamps, which shine amidst the darkness of the world, as though he had said, “Believers, it is true, are children of the night, and there is in the world nothing but darkness; but God has enlightened you for this end, that the purity of your life may shine forth amidst that darkness, that his grace may appear the more illustrious.”Thus, also, it is said by the Prophet,

“The Lord will arise upon thee,
and his glory will be seen upon thee.”(<236002>Isaiah 60:2.)

He adds immediately afterwards, “The Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy countenance.”Though Isaiah speaks there rather of doctrine, while Paul speaks here of an exemplary life, yet, even in relation to doctrine, Christ in another passage specially designates the Apostles the light of the world. (<400514>Matthew 5:14.)

16. Holding forth the word of life. The reason why they ought to be luminaries is, that they carry the word of life, by which they are enlightened, that they may give light also to others. Now he alludes to lamps, in which wicks are placed that they may burn, and he makes us resemble the lamps; while he compares the word of God to the wick, from which the light comes. If you prefer another figure — we are candlesticks: the doctrine of the gospel is the candle, which, being placed in us, diffuses light on all sides. Now he intimates, that we do injustice to the word of God, if it does not shine forth in us in respect of purity of life. This is the import of Christ’s saying,

“No man lighteth a candle,
and putteth it under a bushel,”etc. (<400515>Matthew 5:15.)

We are said, however, to carry the word of life in such a way as to be, in the mean time, carried by it, f133 inasmuch as we are founded upon it. The manner, however, of carrying it, of which Paul speaks, is, that God has intrusted his doctrine with us on condition, not that we should keep the light of it under restraint, as it were, and inactive, but that we should hold it forth to others. The sum is this: that all that are enlightened with heavenly doctrine carry about with them a light, which detects and discovers their crimes, f134 if they do not walk in holiness and chastity; but that this light has been kindled up, not merely that they may themselves be guided in the right way, but that they may also shew it to others.

That I may have glory. That he may encourage them the more, he declares that it will turn out to his glory, if he has not labored among them in vain. Not as if those who labored faithfully, but unsuccessfully, lost their pains, and had no reward of their labor. As, however, success in our ministry is a singular blessing from God, let us not feel surprised, if God, among his other gifts, makes this the crowning one. Hence, as Paul’s Apostleship is now rendered illustrious by so many Churches, gained over to Christ through his instrumentality, so there can be no question that such trophies f135 will have a place in Christ’s kingdom, as we will find him saying a little afterwards, You are my crown. (<500401>Philippians 4:1.) Nor can it be doubted, that the greater the exploits, the triumph will be the more splendid. f136

Should any one inquire how it is that Paul now glories in his labors, while he elsewhere forbids us to glory in any but in the Lord, (<460131>1 Corinthians 1:31; <471017>2 Corinthians 10:17,) the answer is easy — that, when we have prostrated ourselves, and all that we have before God, and have placed in Christ all our ground of glorying, it is, at the same time, allowable for us to glory through Christ in God’s benefits, as we have seen in the First Epistle to the Corinthians. f137 The expression, at the day of the Lord, is intended to stimulate the Philippians to perseverance, while the tribunal of Christ is set before their view, from which the reward of faith is to be expected.

<505017>Philippians 2:17-24

17. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

17. Quin etiam si immoler super hostia et sacrificio fidei vestrae, gaudeo et congaudeo vobis omnibus.

18. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

18. De hoc ipso gaudete, et congaudete mihi.

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.

19. Spero autem in Domino, Timotheum brevi me ad vos missurum, ut ego tranquillo sim animo, postquam statum vestrum cognoverim.

20. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

20. Neminem enim habeo pari animo praeditum, qui germane res vestras curaturus sit.

21. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s

21. Omnes enim quae sua sunt quaerunt: non quae sunt Christi Iesu.

22. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.

22. Porro experimentum eius tenetis, quod tanquam cum patre filius, ita mecum servivit in Euangelium.

23. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.

23. Hunc igitur spero me missurum, simulac mea negotia videro.

24. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly.

24. Confido autem in Domino quod ipse quoque brevi sim venturus.


17. If I should be offered. f138 The Greek word is spe>ndomai, and accordingly there appears to be an allusion to those animals, by the slaughter of which agreements and treaties were confirmed among the ancients. For the Greeks specially employ the term sponda<v to denote the victims by which treaties are confirmed. In this way, he calls his death the confirmation of their faith, which it certainly would be. That, however, the whole passage may be more clearly understood, he says that he offered sacrifice to God, when he consecrated them by the gospel. There is a similar expression in <451516>Romans 15:16; for in that passage he represents himself as a priest, who offers up the Gentiles to God by the gospel. Now, as the gospel is a spiritual sword for slaying victims, f139 so faith is, as it were, the oblation; for there is no faith without mortification, by means of which we are consecrated to God.

He makes use of the terms, kai< leitourgi>ansacrifice and service, the former of which refers to the Philippians, who had been offered up to God; and the latter to Paul, for it is the very act of sacrificing. The term, it is true, is equivalent to administration, and thus it includes functions and offices of every kind; but here it relates properly to the service of God — corresponding to the phrase made use of by the Latins — operari sacris — (to be employed in sacred rites. f140) Now Paul says that he will rejoice, if he shall be offered up upon a sacrifice of this nature — that it may be the more ratified and confirmed. This is to teach the gospel from the heart — when we are prepared to confirm with our own blood what we teach.

From this, however, a useful lesson is to be gathered as to the nature of faith — that it is not a vain thing, but of such a nature as to consecrate man to God. The ministers of the gospel have, also, here a singular consolation in being called priests of God, to present victims to him; f141 for with what ardor ought that man to apply himself to the pursuit of preaching, who knows that this is an acceptable sacrifice to God! The wretched Papists, having no knowledge of this kind of sacrifice, contrive another, which is utter sacrilege.

I rejoice with you, says he — so that if it should happen that he died, they would know that this took place for their profit, and would receive advantage from his death.

18. Rejoice ye. By the alacrity which he thus discovers, he encourages the Philippians, and enkindles in them a desire to meet death with firmness, f142 inasmuch as believers suffer no harm from it. For he has formerly taught them that death would be gain to himself, (<500121>Philippians 1:21;) here, on the other hand, he is chiefly concerned that his death may not disconcer the Philippians. f143 He, accordingly, declares that it is no ground of sorrow; nay, that they have occasion of joy, inasmuch as they will find it to be productive of advantage. For, although it was in itself a serious loss to be deprived of such a teacher, it was no slight compensation that the gospel was confirmed by his blood. In the mean time, he lets them know that to himself personally death would be matter of joy. The rendering of Erasmus, taking it in the present tense, Ye rejoice, is altogether unsuitable.

19. But I hope. He promises them the coming of Timothy, that, from their expecting him, they may bear up more courageously, and not give way to impostors. For as in war an expectation of help animates soldiers, so as to keep them from giving way, so this consideration, too, was fitted to encourage greatly the Philippians: “There will one come very shortly, who will set himself in opposition to the contrivances of our enemies.”But if the mere expectation of him had so much influence, his presence would exert a much more powerful effect. We must take notice of the condition f144 — in respect of which he submits himself to the providence of God, forming no purpose, but with that leading the way, as assuredly it is not allowable to determine anything as to the future, except, so to speak, under the Lord’s hand. When he adds, that I may be in tranquillity, he declares his affection towards them, inasmuch as he was so much concerned as to their dangers, that he was not at east until he received accounts of their prosperity.

20. I have no man like-minded. While some draw another meaning from the passage, I interpret it thus: “I have no one equally well-affected for attending to your interests.”For Paul, in my opinion, compares Timothy with others, rather than with himself, and he pronounces this eulogium upon him, with the express design that he may be the more highly esteemed by them for his rare excellence.

21. For all seek their own things. He does not speak of those who had openly abandoned the pursuit of piety, but of those very persons whom he reckoned brethren, nay, even those whom he admitted to familiar intercourse with him. These persons, he nevertheless says, were so warm in the pursuit of their own interests, that they were unbecomingly cold in the work of the Lord. It may seem at first view as if it were no great fault to seek one’s own profit; but how insufferable it is in the servants of Christ, appears from this, that it renders those that give way to it utterly useless. For it is impossible that the man who is devoted to self, should apply himself to the interests of the Church. Did then, you will say, Paul cultivate the society of men that were worthless and mere pretenders? I answer, that it is not to be understood, as if they had been intent exclusively on their own interests, and bestowed no care whatever upon the Church, but that, taken up with their own individual interests, they were to some extent negligent to the promotion of the public advantage of the Church. For it must necessarily be, that one or other of two dispositions prevails over us — either that, overlooking ourselves, we are devoted to Christ, and those things that are Christ’s, or that, unduly intent on our own advantage, we serve Christ in a superficial manner.

From this it appears, how great a hinderance it is to Christ’s ministers to seek their own interests. Nor is there any force in these excuses: “I do harm to no one “— “I must have a regard, also, to my own advantage”— “I am not so devoid of feeling as not to be prompted by a regard to my own advantage.”For you must give up your own right if you would discharge your duty: a regard to your own interests must not be put in preference to Christ’s glory, or even placed upon a level with it. Whithersoever Christ calls you, you must go promptly, leaving off all other things. Your calling ought to be regarded by you in such a way, that you shall turn away all your powers of perception from everything that would impede you. It might be in your power to live elsewhere in greater opulence, but God has bound you to the Church, which affords you but a very moderate sustenance: you might elsewhere have more honor, but God has assigned you a situation, in which you live in a humble style: f145 you might have elsewhere a more salubrious sky, or a more delightful region, but it is here that your station is appointed. You might wish to have to do with a more humane people: you feel offended with their ingratitude, or barbarity, or pride; in short, you have no sympathy with the disposition or the manners of the nation in which you are, but you must struggle with yourself, and do violence in a manner to opposing inclinations, that you may f146 keep by the trade you have got; f147 for you are not free, or at your own disposal. In fine, forget yourself, if you would serve God.

If, however, Paul reproves so severely those who were influenced by a greater concern for themselves than for the Church, what judgment may be looked for by those who, while altogether devoted to their own affairs, make no account of the edification of the Church? However they may now flatter themselves, God will not spare them. An allowance must be given to the ministers of the Church to seek their own interests, so as not to be prevented from seeking the kingdom of Christ; but in that case they will not be represented as seeking their own interests, as a man’s life is estimated according to its chief aim. When he says all, we are not to understand the term denoting universality, as though it implied that there was no exception, for there were others also, such as Epaphroditus, f148 but there were few of these, and he ascribes to all what was very generally prevalent.

When, however, we hear Paul complaining, that in that golden age, in which all excellences flourished, that there were so few that were rightly affected, f149 let us not be disheartened, if such is our condition in the present day: only let every one take heed to himself, that he be not justly reckoned to belong to that catalogue. I should wish, however, that Papists would answer me one question — where Peter was at that time, for he must have been at Rome, if what they say is true. O the sad and vile description that Paul gave of him! They utter, therefore, mere fables, when they pretend that he at that time presided over the Church of Rome. Observe, that the edification of the Church is termed the things of Christ, because we are truly engaged in his work, when we labor in the cultivation of his vineyard.

22. But the proof. It is literally, ye know the proof of him, unless you prefer to understand it in the imperative mood, know ye; (for there had scarcely been opportunity during that short time to make trial,) but this is not of great moment. What is chiefly to be noticed is, that he furnishes Timothy with an attestation of fidelity and modesty. In evidence of his fidelity, he declares, that he had served with him in the gospel, for such a connection was a token of true sincerity. In evidence of his modesty, he states, that he had submitted to him as to a father. It is not to be wondered, that this virtue is expressly commended by Paul, for it has in all ages been rare. At the present day, where will you find one among the young that will give way to his seniors, even in the smallest thing? to such an extent does impertinence triumph and prevail in the present age! In this passage, as in many others, we see how diligently Paul makes it his aim to put honor upon pious ministers, and that not so much for their own sakes, as on the ground of its being for the advantage of the whole Church, that such persons should be loved and honored, and possess the highest authority.

24. I trust that I myself. He adds this, too, lest they should imagine that anything had happened to change his intention as to the journey of which he had previously made mention. At the same time, he always speaks conditionally — If it shall please the Lord. For although he expected deliverance from the Lord, yet there having been, as we have observed, no express promise, this expectation was by no means settled, but was, as it were, suspended upon the secret purpose of God.

<507425>Philippians 2:25-30

25. Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow-soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

25. Porro necessarium existimavi Epaphroditum, fratrem et cooperarium, et commilitonem meum, Apostolum autem vestrum, et ministrum necessitatis meae mittere ad vos.

26. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

26. Quandoquidem desiderabat vos omnes, et erat anxius animi, propterea quod audieratis ipsum infirmatum fuisse.

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.

27. Et certe infirmatus fuit, ut esset morti vicinus, sed Deus misertus est illius: neque illius solum, sed etiam mei; ut ne tristitiam super tristitiam haberem.

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.

28. Studiosius itaque misi illum, ut eo viso rursus gaudeatis, et ego magis vacem dolore.

29. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:

29. Excipite ergo illum in Domino cum omni gaudio: et qui tales sunt, in pretio habete:

30. Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

30. Quia propter opus Christi usque ad mortem accessit, exponens periculo animam, ut sufficeret quod deerat vestro erga me ministerio, (vel, officio.)


25. I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus. After having encouraged them by the promise of his own coming and that of Timothy, he fortifies them also for the present, by sending previously Epaphroditus, that in the mean time, while he waited the issue of his own affairs, (for this was the cause of his delay,) they might not be in want of a pastor who should take care that matters were properly managed. Now, he recommends Epaphroditus by many distinctions — that he is his brother, and helper in the affairs of the gospel — that he is his fellow-soldier, by which term he intimates what is the condition of the ministers of the gospel; that they are engaged in an incessant warfare, for Satan will not allow them to promote the gospel without maintaining a conflict. Let those, then, who prepare themselves for edifying the Church, know that war is denounced against them, and prepared. This, indeed, is common to all Christians — to be soldiers in the camp of Christ, f150 for Satan is the enemy of all. It is, however, more particularly applicable to the ministers of the word, who go before the army and bear the standard. Paul, however, more especially might boast of his military service, f151 inasmuch as he was exercised to a very miracle in every kind of contest. He accordingly commends Epaphroditus, because he had been a companion to him in his conflicts.

The term Apostle here, as in many other passages, is taken generally to mean any evangelist, f152 unless any one prefers to understand it as meaning an ambassador sent by the Philippians, so that it may be understood as conjoining these two things — an ambassador to afford service to Paul. f153 The former signification, however, is in my opinion more suitable. He mentions also, among other things, to his praise, that he had ministered to him in prison — a matter which will be treated of more fully ere long.

26. He longed after you. It is a sign of a true pastor, that while he was at a great distance, and was willingly detained by a pious engagement, he was nevertheless affected with concern for his flock, and a longing after them; and on learning that his sheep were distressed on his account, f154 he was concerned as to their grief. On the other hand, the anxiety of the Philippians for their pastor is here discovered.

27. But God had mercy on him. He had expressed the severity of the disease — that Epaphroditus had been sick, so that life was despaired of, in order that the goodness of God might shine forth more clearly in his restored health. It is, however, surprising that he should ascribe it to the mercy of God that Epaphroditus had had his period of life prolonged, while he had previously declared that he desired death in preference to life. (<500123>Philippians 1:23.) And what were better for us than that we should remove hence to the kingdom of God, delivered from the many miseries of this world, and more especially, rescued from that bondage of sin in which he elsewhere exclaims that he is wretched, (<450724>Romans 7:24,) to attain the full enjoyment of that liberty of the Spirit, by which we become connected with the Son of God? f155 It were tedious to enumerate all the things which tend to make death better than life to believers, and more to be desired. Where, then, is there any token of the mercy of God, when it does nothing but lengthen out our miseries? I answer, that all these things do not prevent this life from being, nevertheless, considered in itself, an excellent gift of God. More especially those who live to Christ are happily exercised here in hope of heavenly glory; and accordingly, as we have had occasion to see a little ago, life is gain to them. f156 Besides, there is another thing, too, that is to be considered — that it is no small honor that is conferred upon us, when God glorifies himself in us; for it becomes us to look not so much to life itself, as to the end for which we live.

But on me also, lest I should have sorrow. Paul acknowledges that the death of Epaphroditus would have been bitterly painful to him, and he recognises it as an instance of God’s sparing mercy toward himself, that he had been restored to health. He does not, therefore, make it his boast that he has the apathy (ajpa>qeian) of the Stoics, as if he were a man of iron, and exempt from human affections. f157 “What then!”some one will say, “where is that unconquerable magnanimity?—where is that indefatigable perseverance?”I answer, that Christian patience differs widely from philosophical obstinacy, and still more from the stubborn and fierce sterness of the Stoics. For what excellence were there in patiently enduring the cross, if there were in it no feeling of pain and bitterness? But when the consolation of God overcomes that feeling, so that we do not resist, but, on the contrary, give our back to the endurance of the rod, (<235005>Isaiah 50:5,) we in that case present to God a sacrifice of obedience that is acceptable to him. Thus Paul acknowledges that he felt some uneasiness and pain from his bonds, but that he nevertheless cheerfully endured these same bonds for the sake of Christ. f158 He acknowledges that he would have felt the death of Epaphroditus an event hard to be endured, but he would at length have brought his temper of mind into accordance with the will of God, although all reluctance was not yet fully removed; for we give proof of our obedience, only when we bridle our depraved affections, and do not give way to the infirmity of the flesh. f159

Two things, therefore, are to be observed: in the first place, that the dispositions which God originally implanted in our nature are not evil in themselves, because they do not arise from the fault of corrupt nature, but come forth from God as their Author; of this nature is the grief that is felt on occasion of the death of friends: in the second place, that Paul had many other reasons for regret in connection with the death of Epaphroditus, and that these were not merely excusable, but altogether necessary. This, in the first place, is invariable in the case of all believers, that, on occasion of the death of any one, they are reminded of the anger of God against sin; but Paul was the more affected with the loss sustained by the Church, which he saw would be deprived of a singularly good pastor at a time when the good were so few in number. Those who would have dispositions of this kind altogether subdued and eradicated, do not picture to themselves merely men of flint, but men that are fierce and savage. In the depravity of our nature, however, everything in us is so perverted, that in whatever direction our minds are bent, they always go beyond bounds. Hence it is that there is nothing that is so pure or right in itself, as not to bring with it some contagion. Nay more, Paul, as being a man, would, I do not deny, have experienced in his grief something of human error, f160 for he was subject to infirmity, and required to be tried with temptations, in order that he might have occasion of victory by striving and resisting.

28. I have sent him the more carefully. The presence of Epaphroditus was no small consolation to him; yet to such a degree did he prefer the welfare of the Philippians to his own advantage, that he says that he rejoices on occasion of his departure, because it grieved him that, on his account, he was taken away from the flock that was intrusted to him, and was reluctant to avail himself of his services, though otherwise agreeable to him, when it was at the expense of loss to them. Hence he says, that he will feel more happiness in the joy of the Philippians.

29. Receive him with all joy. He employs the word all to mean sincere and abundant. He also recommends him again to the Philippians; so intent is he upon this, that all that approve themselves as good and faithful pastors may be held in the highest estimation: for he does not speak merely of one, but exhorts that all such should be held in estimation; for they are precious pearls from God’s treasuries, and the rarer they are, they are so much the more worthy of esteem. Nor can it be doubted that God often punishes our ingratitude and proud disdain, by depriving us of good pastors, when he sees that the most eminent that are given by him are ordinarily despised. Let every one, then, who is desirous that the Church should be fortified against the stratagems and assaults of wolves, make it his care, after the example of Paul, that the authority of good pastors be established; f161 as, on the other hand, there is nothing upon which the instruments of the devil are more intent, than on undermining it by every means in their power.

30. Because for the work of Christ. I consider this as referring to that infirmity, which he had drawn down upon himself by incessant assiduity. Hence he reckons the distemper of Epaphroditus among his excellences, as it certainly was a signal token of his ardent zeal. Sickness, indeed, is not an excellence, but it is an excellence not to spare yourself that you may serve Christ. Epaphroditus felt that his health would be in danger if he applied himself beyond measure; yet he would rather be negligent as to health than be deficient in duty; and that he may commend this conduct the more to the Philippians, he says that it was a filling up of their deficiency, because, being situated at a distance, they could not furnish aid to Paul at Rome. Hence Epaphroditus, having been sent for this purpose, acted in their stead. He speaks of the services rendered to him as the work of the Lord, as assuredly there is nothing in which we can better serve God, than when we help his servants who labor for the truth of the gospel.


<500301>Philippians 3:1-6

1. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but you it is safe.

1. Quod reliquum est, fratres, mei, gaudete in Domino; eadem scribere vobis, me equidem, haud piget, vobis autem tutm est.

2. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.

2. Videte canes, videte malos operarios, videte concisionem.

3. For we are the cirmcumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

3. Nos enim sumus cicrcumcisio, qui spiritu Deum colimus, et gloriamur in Christo Iesu, non autem in carne confidimus.

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:

4. Tametsi ego etiam in carne fiduciam habeo. Si qauis alius videtur confidere in carne, ego magis:

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;

5. Circumcisus die occtavo, ex genere Israel, tribu Beniamin, Hebraeus ex Hebraeis, secundum legem Pharisaeus:

6. Concerning zeal, persecuting the Church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

6. Secundum zelum persequens Ecclesiam, secundum iustitiam, quae est in lege, irreprehensibilis.


1. Rejoice in the Lord. This is a conclusion from what goes before, for as Satan never ceased to distress them with daily rumors, he bids them divest themselves of anxiety and be of good courage. In this way he exhorts them to constancy, that they may not fall back from the doctrine which they have once received. The phrase henceforward denotes a continued course, that, in the midst of many hinderances, they may not cease to exercise holy joy. It is a rare excellence when Satan endeavors to exasperate us f162 by means of the bitterness of the cross, so as to make God’s name unpleasant f163, to take such satisfaction in the simple tasting of God’s grace, that all annoyances, sorrows, anxieties, and griefs are sweetened.

To write the same thing to you. Here he begins to speak of the false Apostles, with whom, however, he does not fight hand to hand, as in the Epistle to the Galatians, but in a few words severely f164 exposes them, as far as was sufficient. For as they had simply made an attempt upon the Philippians, and had not made an inroad upon them, f165 it was not so necessary to enter into any regular disputation with the view of refuting errors, to which they had never lent an ear. Hence he simply admonishes them to be diligent and attentive in detecting impostors and guarding against them.

In the first place, however, he calls them dogs; the metaphor being grounded upon this—that, for the sake of filling their belly, they assailed true doctrine with their impure barking. Accordingly, it is as though he had said,—impure or profane persons; for I do not agree with those who think that they are;so called on the ground of envying others, or biting them f166.

In the second place, he calls them evil workers, meaning, that, under the pretext of building up the Church, they did nothing but ruin and destroy everything; for many are busily occupied f167 who would do better to remain idle. As the public crier f168 on being asked by Gracchus in mockery, on the ground of his sitting idle, what he was doing? had his answer ready, “Nay, but what are you doing?”for he was the ringleader of a ruinous sedition. Hence Paul would have a distinction made among workers, that believers may be on their guard against those that are evil.

In the third term employed, there is an elegant (proswnomasi>a) play upon words. They boasted that they were the circumcision: he turns aside this boasting by calling them the concision f169, inasmuch as they tore asunder the unity of the Church. In this we have an instance tending to shew that the Holy Spirit in his organs f170 has not in every case avoided wit and humor, yet so as at the same time to keep at a distance from such pleasantry as were unworthy of his majesty. There are innumerable examples in the Prophets, and especially in Isaiah, so that there is no profane author that abounds more in agreeable plays upon words, and figurative forms of expression. We ought, however, more carefully still to observe the vehemence with which Paul inveighs against the false Apostles, which will assuredly break forth wherever there is the ardor of pious zeal. But in the mean time we must be on our guard lest any undue warmth or excessive bitterness should creep in under a pretext of zeal.

When he says, that to write the same things is not grievous to him, he seems to intimate that he had already written on some other occasion to the Philippians. There would, however, be no inconsistency in understanding him as meaning, that he now by his writings reminds them of the same things as they had frequently heard him say, when he was with them. For there can be no doubt that he had often intimated to them in words, when he was with them, how much they ought to be on their guard against such pests: yet he does not grudge to repeat these things, because the Philippians would have incurred danger in the event of his silence. And, unquestionably, it is the part of a good pastor, not merely to supply the flock with pasture, and to rule the sheep by his guidanee, but to drive away the wolves when threatening to make an attack upon the fold, and that not merely on one occasion, but so as to be constantly on the watch, and to be indefatigable. For as thieves and robbers (<431008>John 10:8) are constantly on the watch for the destruction of the Church, what excuse will the pastor have if, after courageously repelling them in several instances, he gives way on occasion of the ninth or tenth attack?

He says also, that a repetition of this nature is profitable to the Philippians, lest they should be—as is wont to happen occasionally—of an exceedingly fastidious humor, and despise it as a thing that was superfluous. For many are so difficult to please, that they cannot bear that the same thing should be said to them a second time, and, in the mean time, they do not consider that what is inculcated upon them daily is with difficulty retained in their memory ten years afterwards. But if it was profitable to the Philippians to listen to this exhortation of Paul—to be on their guard against wolves, what do Papists mean who will not allow that any judgment should be formed as to their doctrine? For to whom, I pray you, did Paul address himself when he said, Beware? Was it not to those whom they do not allow to possess any right to judge? And of the same persons Christ says, in like manner,

My sheep hear my voice, and they follow me; they flee from, a stranger, and they hear not his voice. (<431005>John 10:5, 27.)

3. For we are the circumcisionthat is, we are the true seed of Abraham, and heirs of the testament which was confirmed by the sign of circumcision. For the true circumcision is of the spirit and not of the letter, inward, and situated in the heart, not visible according to the flesh. (<450229>Romans 2:29.)

By spiritual worship he means that which is recommended to us in the gospel, and consists of confidence in God, and invocation of him, self-renunciation, and a pure conscience. We must supply an antithesis, for he censures, on the other hand, legal worship, which was exclusively pressed upon them by the false Apostles.

“They command that God should be worshipped with outward observances, and because they observe the ceremonies of the law, they boast on false grounds that they are the people of God; but we are the truly circumcised, who worship God in spirit and in truth.”(<430423>John 4:23.)

But here some one will ask, whether truth excludes the sacraments, for the same thing might be said as to Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. I answer, that this principle must always be kept in view, that figures were abolished by the advent of Christ, and that circumcision gave way to baptism. It follows, also, from this principle, that the pure and genuine’worship of God is free from the legal ceremonies, and that believers have the true circumcision without any figure.

And we glory in Christ. We must always keep in view the antithesis. “We have to do with the reality, while they rest in the symbols: we have to do with the substance, while they look to the shadows.”And this suits sufficiently well with the corresponding clause, which he adds by way of contrast— We have no confidence in the flesh. For under the term flesh he includes everything of an external kind in which an individual is prepared to glory, as will appear from the context, or, to express it in fewer words, he gives the name of flesh to everything that is apart from Christ. He thus reproves, and in no slight manner, the perverse zealots the law, because, not satisfied with Christ, they have recourse to grounds of glorying apart from him. He has employed the terms glorying, and having confidence, to denote the same thing. For confidence lifts up a man, so that he ventures even to glory, and thus the two things are connected.

4. Though I might also. He does not speak of the disposition exercised by him, but he intimates, that he has also ground of glorying, if he were inclined to imitate their folly. The meaning therefore is, “My glorying, indeed, is placed in Christ, but, were it warrantable to glory in the flesh, I have also no want of materials.”And from this we learn in what manner to reprove the arrogance of those who glory in something apart from Christ. If we are ourselves in possession of those very things in which they glory, let us not allow them to triumph over Christ by an unseemly boasting, without retorting upon them also our grounds of glorying, that they may understand that it is not through envy that we reckon of no value, nay, even voluntarily renounce those things on which they set the highest. value. Let, however, the conclusion be always of this nature—that all confidence in the flesh is vain and preposterous.

If any one has confidence in the flesh, I more. Not satisfied with putting himself on a level with any one of them, he even gives himself the preference to them. Hence he cannot on this account be suspected, as though he were envious of their excellence, and extolled Christ with the view of making his own deficiencies appear the less inconsiderable. He says, therefore, that, if it were coming to be matter of dispute, he would be superior to others. For they had nothing (as we shall see erelong) that he had not on his part equally with them, while in some things he greatly excelled them. He says, not using the term in its strict sense, that he has confidence in the flesh, on the ground that, while not placing confidence in them, he was furnished with those grounds of fleshly glorying, on account of which they were puffed up.

5. Circumcised on the eighth day. It is literally—“The circumcision of the eighth day.” There is no difference, however, in the sense, for the meaning is, that he was circumcised in the proper manner, and according to the appointment of the law f171. Now this customary circumcision was reckoned of superior value; and, besides, it was a token of the race to. which he belonged; on which he touches immediately afterwards. For the case was not the same as to foreigners, for after they had become proselytes they were circumcised in youth, or when grown up to manhood, and sometimes even in old age. He says, accordingly, that he is of the race of Israel. He names the tribe f172,—not, in my opinion, onthe ground that the tribe of Benjamin had a superiorityof excellence above others, but for shewing more fully that he belonged to the race of Israel, as it was the custom that every one was numbered according to his particular tribe. With the same view he adds still farther, that he is an Hebrew of the, Hebrews. For this name was the most ancient, as being that by which Abraham himself is designated by Moses. (<011413>Genesis 14:13.) f173 The sum, therefore, is this — that Paul was descended from the seed of Jacob from the most ancient date, so that he could reckon up grandfathers and great-grandfathers, and could even go still farther back.

According to the law, a Pharisee. Having spoken of the nobility of his descent, he now proceeds to speak of special endowments of persons, as they are called. It is very generally known, that the sect of the Pharisees was celebrated above the others for the renown in which it was held for sanctity and for doctrine. He states, that he belonged to that sect. The common opinion is, that the Pharisees were so called from a term signifying separation  f174; but I approve rather of what I learned at one time from Capito, a man of sacred memory f175, that it was because they boasted that they were endowed with the gift of interpreting Scripture, for çrp (parash,) among the Hebrews, conveys the idea of interpretation. f176 While others declared themselves to be literals f177, they preferred to be regarded as Pharisees f178, as being in possession of the interpretations of the ancients. And assuredly it is manifest that, under the pretext of antiquity, they corrupted the whole of Scripture by their invent ions; but as they, at the same time, retained some sound interpretations, handed down by the ancients, they were held in the highest esteem

But what is meant by the clause, according to the law? For unquestionably nothing is more opposed to the law of God than sects, for in it is communicated the truth of God, which is the bond of unity. Besides this, Josephus tells us in the 13th book of his Antiquities, that all the sects took their rise during the high priesthood of Jonathan. Paul employs the term law, not in its strict sense, to denote the doctrine of religion, however much corrupted it was at that time, as Christianity is at this day in the Papacy. As, however, there were many that were in the rank of teachers, who were less skillful, and exercised f179 he makes mention also of his zeal. It was, indeed, a very heinous sin on the part of Paul to persecute the Church, but as he had to dispute with unprincipled persons, who, by mixing up Christ with Moses, pretended zeal for the law, he mentions, on the other hand, that he was so keen a zealot of the law, that on that ground he persecuted the Church.

6. As to the righteousness which is in the law. There can be no doubt he means by this the entire righteousness of the law, for it were too meagre a sense to understand it exclusively of the ceremonies. The meaning, therefore, is more general—that he cultivated an integrity of life, such as might be required on the part of a man that was devoted to the law. To this, again, it is objected, that the righteousness of the law is perfect in the sight of God. For the sum of it is —that men be; fully devoted to God, and what beyond this can be desired for the attainment of perfection? I answer, that Paul speaks here of that righteousness which would satisfy the common opinion of mankind. For he separates the law from Christ. Now, what is the law without Christ but a dead letter? To make the matter plainer, I observe, that there are two righteousnesses of the law. The one is spiritual—perfect love to God, and our neighbors: it is contained in doctrine, and had never an existence in the life of any man. The other is literal—such as appears in the view of men, while, in the mean time, hypocrisy reigns in the heart, and there is in the sight of God nothing but iniquity. Thus, the law has two aspects; the one has an eye to God, the other to men. Paul, then, was in the judgment of men holy, and free from all censure—a rare commendation, certainly, and almost unrivalled; yet let us observe in what esteem he held it.

<500307>Philippians 3:7-11

7. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ

7. Verum quae mihi lucra erant, ea existimavi propter Christum iacturam.

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.

8. Quin etiam omnia existimo iacturam esse, propter eminentiam cognitionis Christi Iesu Domini mei: propter quem omnium iacturam feci et existimo reiectamenta esse, ut Christum lucrifaciam.

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:

9. Et inveniam f180 in ipso, non habens meam iustitiam que ex Lege est, sed quae est per fidem Christi: quae, inquam, ex Deo est iustitia in fide.

10. That I may knowhim, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship ofhis sufferings, being made comfortable unto his death;

10. Ut cognoscam ipsu, et potentiam resurrectionis eius, et communicationem passionumeius, dum configuror morti eius,

11. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

11. Si quo modo perveniam ad resurrectionem mortuorum.


7. What things were gain to me. He says, that those things were gain to him, for ignorance of Christ is the solereason why we are puffed up with a vain confidence. Hence, where we see a false estimate of one’s own excellence, where we see arrogance, where we see pride, there let us be assured that Christ is not known. On the other hand, so soon as Christ shines forth all those things that formerly dazzled our eyes with a false splendor instantly vanish, or at least are disesteemed. Those things, accordingly, which had been gain to Paul when he was as yet blind, or rather had imposed upon him under an appearance of gain, he acknowledges to have been loss to him, when he has been enlightened. Why loss? Because they were hinderances in the way of his coming to Christ. What is more hurtful than anything that keeps us back from drawing near to Christ? Now he speaks chiefly of his own righteousness, for we are not received by Christ, except as naked and emptied of our own righteousness. Paul, accordingly, acknowledges that nothing was so injurious to him as his own righteousness, inasmuch as he was by means of it shut out from Christ.

8. Nay more, I reckon. He means, that he continues to be of the same mind, because it often happens, that, transported with delight in new things, we forget everything else, and afterwards we regret it. Hence Paul, having said that he renounced all hinderances, that he might gain Christ, now adds, that he continues to be of this mind.

For the sake of the excellency of the knowledge. He extols the gospel in opposition to all such notions as tend to beguile us. For there are many things that have an appearance of excellence, but the knowledge of Christ surpasses to such a degree everything else by its sublimity f181, that, as compared with it, there is nothing that is not contemptible. Let us, therefore, learn from this, what value we ought to set upon the knowledge of Christ alone. As to his calling him his Lord, he does this to express the intensity of his feeling.

For whom I have suffered the loss of all things. He expresses more than he had done previously; at least he expresses himself with greater distinctness. It is a similitude taken from seamen, who, when urged on by danger of shipwreck, throw everything overboard, that, the ship being lightened, they may reach the harbour in safety. Paul, then, was prepared to lose everything that he had, rather than be deprived of Christ.

But it is asked, whether it is necessary for us to renounce riches, and honors, and nobility of descent, and even external righteousness, that we may become partakers of Christ, (<580314>Hebrews 3:14,) for all these things are gifts of God, which, in themselves, are not to be despised? I answer, that the Apostle does not speak here so much of the flyings themselves, as of the quality of them. It is, indeed, true, that the kingdom of heaven is like a precious pearl, for the purchase of which no one should hesitate to sell everything that he has (<401346>Matthew 13:46.) There is, however, a difference between the substance of things and the quality. Paul did not reckon it necessary to disown connection with his own tribe and with the race of Abraham, and make himself an alien, that he might become a Christian, but to renounce dependence upon his descent. It was not befitting, that from being chaste he should become unchaste; that from being sober, he should become intemperate; ,and that from being respectable and honorable, he should become dissolute; but that he should divest himself of a false estimate of his own righteousness, and treat it with contempt. We, too, when treating of the righteousness of faith, do not contend against the substance of works, but against that quality with which the sophists invest them, inasmuch as they contend that men are justified by them. Paul, therefore, divested himself — not of works, but of that mistaken confidence in works, with which he had been puffed up.

As to riches and honors, when we have divested ourselves of attachment to them, we will be prepared, also, to renounce the things themselves, whenever the Lord will require this from us, and so it ought to be. It is not expressly necessary that you be a poor man, in order that you may be Christian; but if it please the Lord that it should be so, you ought to be prepared to endure poverty. In fine, it is not lawful for Christians to have anything apart from Christ. I consider as apart from Christ everything that is a hinderance in the way of Christ alone being our ground of glorying, and having an entire sway over us.

And I count the but refuse. Here he not merely by words, but also by realities, amplifies greatly what he had before stated. For those who cast their merchandise and other things into the sea, that they may escape in safety, do not, therefore, despise riches, but act as persons prepared rather to live in misery and want f182, than to be drowned along with their riches. They part with them, indeed, but it is with regret and with a sigh; and when they have escaped, they bewail the loss of them. Paul, however, declares, on the other hand, that he had not merely abandoned everything that he formerly reckoned precious, but that they were like dung, offensive to him, or were disesteemed like things that are thrown awayin contempt. Chrysostom renders the word—straws. Grammarians, however, are of opinion, that sku>balon is employed as though it were kusi>balon — what is thrown to dogs f183.And certainly there is good reason why everything that is opposed to Christ should be offensive to us, inasmuch as it is an abomination in, the sight of God. (<421615>Luke 16:15.) There is good reason why it should be offensive to us also, on the ground of its being an unfounded imagination.

That I may, gain Christ. By this expression he intimates that we cannot gain Christ otherwise than by losing everything that we have. For he would have us rich by his grace alone: he would have him alone be our entire blessedness. Now, in what way we must suffer the loss of all things, has been already stated—in such a manner that nothing will turn us aside from confidence in Christ alone. But if Paul, with such innocence and integrity of life, did not hesitate to reckon his own righteousness to be loss and dung, what mean those Pharisees of the present day, who, while covered over with every kind of wickedness, do nevertheless feel no shame in extolling their own merits in opposition to Christ?

9. And may find them in him. The verb is in the passive voice, and hence all others have rendered it, I may be found. They pass over the context, however, in a very indifferent manner, as though it had no peculiar force. If you read it in the passive voice, an antithesis must be understood—thatPaul was lost before he was found in Christ, as a rich merchant is like one lost, so long as he has his vessel laden with riches; but when they have been thrown overboard, he is found? For here that saying f184 is admirably in point— “I had been lost, if I had not been lost.”But as the verb eujri>skomai, while it has a passive termination, has an active signification, and means—to recover what you have voluntarily given up, (as Budaeus shews by various examples,) I have not hesitated to differ from the opinion of others. For, in this way, the meaning will be more complete, and the doctrine the more ample—that Paul renounced everything that he had, that he might recover them in Christ; and this corresponds better with the word gain, for it means that it was no trivial or ordinary gain, inasmuch as Christ contains everything in himself. And, unquestionably, we lose nothing when we come to Christ naked and stript. of everything, for those things which we previously imagined, on false grounds, that we possessed, we then begin really to acquire. He, accordingly, shews more fully, how great the riches of Christ, because we obtain and find all things in him.

Not having mine own righteousness. Here we have a remarkable passage, if any one is desirous to have a particular description of the righteousness of faith, and to understand its true nature. For Paul here makes a comparison between two kinds of righteousness. The one he speaks of as belonging to the man, while he calls it at the same time the righteousness of the law; the other, he tells us, is from God, is obtained through faith, and rests upon faith in Christ. These he represents as so directly opposed to each other, that they cannot stand together. Hence there are two things that are to be observed here. In the first place, that the righteousness of the law must be given up and renounced, that you may be righteous through faith; and secondly, that the righteousness of faith comes forth from God, and does not belong to the individual. As to both of these we have in the present day a great controversy with Papists; for on the one hand, they do not allow that the righteousness of faith is altogether from God, but ascribe it partly to man; and, on the other hand, they mix them together, as if the one did not destroy the other. Hence we must carefully examine the several words made use of by Paul, for there is not one of them that is not very emphatic.

He says, that believers have no righteousness of their own. Now, it cannot be denied, that if there were any righteousness of works, it might with propriety be said to be ours. Hence he leaves no room whatever for the righteousness of works. Why he calls it the righteousness of the law, he shows in <451005>Romans 10:5; because this is the sentence of the law, He that doeth these things shall live in them. The law, therefore, pronounces the man to be righteous through works. Nor is there any ground for the cavil of Papists, that all this must be restricted to ceremonies. For in the first place, it is a contemptible frivolity to affirm that Paul was righteous only through ceremonies; and secondly, he in this way draws a contrast between those two kinds of righteousness — the one being of man, the other, from God. He intimates, accordingly, that the one is the reward of works, while the other is a free gift from God. He thus, in a general way, places man’s merit in opposition to Christ’s grace; for while the law brings works, faith presents man before God as naked, that he may be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. When, therefore, he declares that the righteousness of faith is from God, it is not simply because faith is the gift of God, but because God justifies us by his goodness, or because we receive by faith the righteousness which he has conferred upon us.

10. That I may know him. He points out the efficacy and nature of faith—that it is the knowledge of Christ, and that, too, not bare or indistinct, but in such a manner that the power of his resurrection is felt. Resurrection he employs as meaning, the completion of redemption, so that it comprehends in it at the same time the idea of death. But as it is not enough to know Christ as crucified and raised up from the dead, unless you experience, also, the fruit of this, he speaks expressly of efficacy f186.Christ therefore is rightly known, when we feel how powerful his death and resurrection are, and how efficacious they are in us. Now all things are there furnished to us—expiation and destruction of sin, freedom from condemnation, satisfaction, victory over death, the attainment of righteousness, and the hope of a blessed immortality.

And the fellowship of his sufferings. Having spoken of that freely-conferred righteousness, which was procured for us through the resurrection of Christ, and is obtained by us through faith, he proceeds to treat of the exercises of the pious, and that in order that it might not seem as though he introduced an inactive faith, which produces no effects in the life. He also intimates, indirectly, that these are the exercises in which the Lord would have his people employ themselves; while the false Apostles pressed forward upon them the useless elements of ceremonies. Let every one, therefore, who has become through faith a partaker of all Christ’s benefits, acknowledge that a condition is presented to him—that his whole life be conformed to his death.

There is, however, a twofold participation and fellowship in the death of Christ. The one is inward—what the Scripture is wont to term the mortification of the flesh, or the crucifixion of the old man, of which Paul treats in the sixth chapter of the Romans; the other is outward—what is termed the mortification of the outward man. It is the endurance of the Cross, of which he treats in the eighth chapter of the same Epistle, and here also, if I do not mistake. For after introducing along with this the power of his resurrection, Christ crucified is set before us, that we may follow him through tribulations and distresses; and hence the resurrection of the dead is expressly made mention of, that we may know that we must die before we live. This is a continued subject of meditation to believers so long as they sojourn in this world.

This, however, is a choice consolation, that in all our miseries we are partakers of Christ’s Cross, if we are his members; so that thrc,ugh afflictions the way is opened up for us to everlasting blessedness, as we read elsewhere,

If we die with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him. (<550211>2 Timothy 2:11,)

We must all therefore be prepared for this—that our whole life shall represent nothing else than the image of death, until it produce death itself, as the life of Christ is nothing else than a prelude of death. We enjoy, however, in the mean time, this consolation—that the end is everlasting blessedness. For the death of Christ is connected with the resurrection. Hence Paul says, that he is conformed to his death, that he may attain the glory of the resurrection. The phrase, if by any means, does not indicate doubt, but expresses difficulty, with a view to stimulate our earnest endeavorf187 for it is no light contest, inasmuch as we must struggle against so many and so serious hinderances.

<500312>Philippians 3:12-17

12. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprrehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

12. Non quod iam apprehenerim, aut iam perfectus sim; sequor autem, si ego quoque appreehendam, quemadmodum f188 et apprehensus sum a Christo Iesu.

13. Brethren I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

13. Fratres, eog me ipsum nondum aarbitror apprehendisse, unum autem, eq que retro sunt oblitus, ad ea quae ante sunt me extendens,

14. I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Chirst Jesus.

14. Secundum scopum sequor ad palmam supernae vocataionis Dei in Christo Iesu

15. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

15. Quicunque perfecti sumus, hoc sentiamus: et si quod aliter sentitis, etiam hoc vobis Deus revelabit.

16. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

16. Caeterum quo perveniamus,ut idem sentiamus, eadem procedamus regula.

17. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so, as ye have us for an ensample.

17. Simul imitatorres mei estote, fratres, et considerate eos qui sic ambulant: quemadmodum nos habetis pro exemplari.


12. Not as though I had already apprehended. Paul insists upon this, that he may convince the Philippiaris that he thinks of nothing but Christ—knows nothing else—desires nothing else—is occupied with no other subject of meditation. In connection with this, there is much weight in what he now adds—that he himself, while he had given up all hinderances, had nevertheless not attained that object of aim, and that, on this account, he always aimed and eagerly aspired at something further. How much more was this incumbent on the Philipplans, who were still far behind him?

It is asked, however, what it is that Paul says he has not yet attained? For unquestionably, so soon as we are by faith ingrafted into the body of Christ, we have already entered the kingdom of God, and, as it is stated in <490206>Ephesians 2:6, we already, in hope, sit in heavenly places. I answer, that our salvation, in the mean time, is in hope, so that the inheritance indeed is secure; but we nevertheless have it not as yet in possession. At the same time, Paul here looks at something else—the advancement of faith, and of that mortification of which he had made mention. He had said that he aimed and eagerly aspired at the resurrection of the dead through fellowship in the Cross of Christ. He adds, that he has not as yet arrived at this. At what? At the attainment of having entire fellowship in Christ’s sufferings, having a full taste of the power of his resurrection, and knowing him perfectly. He teaches, therefore, by his own example, that we ought to make progress, and that the knowledge of Christ is an attainment of such difficulty, that even those who apply themselves exclusively to it, do nevertheless not attain perfection in it so long as they live. This, however, does not detract in any degree from the authority of Paul’s doctrine, inasmuch as he had acquired as much as was sufficient for discharging the office committed to him. In the mean time, it was necessary for him to make progress, that this divinely-furnished instructor of all might be trained to humility.

As also I have been apprehended. This clause he has inserted by way of correction, that he might ascribe all his endeavors to the grace of God. It is not of much importance whether you read as, or in so far as; for the meaning in either case remains the same—that Paul was apprehended by Christ, that he might apprehend Christ; that is, that he did nothing except under Christ’s influence and guidance. I have chosen, however, the more distinct rendering, as it seemed to be optional.

13. I reckon not myself to have as yet apprehended. He does not here call in question the certainty of his salvation, as though he were still in suspense, but repeats what he had said before—that he still aimed at making farther progress, because he had not yet attained the end of his calling. He shews this immediately after, by saying that he was intent on this one thing, leaving off everything else. Now, he compares our life to a race-course, the limits of which God has marked out to us for running in. For as it would profit the runner nothing to have left the starting-point, unless he went forward to the goal, so we must also pursue the course of our calling until death, and must not cease until we have obtained what we seek. Farther, as the way is marked out to the runner, that he may not fatigue himself to no purpose by wandering in this direction or in that, so there is also a goal set before us, towards which we ought to direct our course undeviatingly; and God does not permit us to wander about heedlessly. Thirdly, as the runner requires to be free from entanglement, and not stop his course on account of any impediment, but must continue his course, surmounting every obstacle, so we must take heed that we do not apply our mind or heart to anything that may divert the attention, but must, on the contrary, make it our endeavor, that, free from every distraction, we may apply the whole bent of our mind exclusively to God’s calling. These three things Paul comprehends in one similitude. When he says that he does this one thing, and forgets all things that are behind, he intimates his assiduity, and excludes everything fitted to distract. When he says that he presses toward the mark, he intimates that he is not wandering from the way.

Forgetting those things that are behind. He alludes to runners, who do not turn their eyes aside in any direction, lest they should slacken the speed of their course, and, more especially, do not look behind to see how much ground they have gone over, but hasten forward unremittingly towards the goal, Thus Paul teaches us, that he does not think of what he has been, or of what he has done, but simply presses forward towards the appointed goal, and that, too, with such ardor, that he runs forward to it, as it were, with outstretched arms. For a metaphor of this nature is implied in the participle which he employs. f189

Should any one remark, by way of objection, that the remembrance of our past; life is of use for stirring us up, both because the favors that have been already conferred upon us give us encouragement to entertain hope, and because we are admonished by our sins to amend our course of life, I answer, that thoughts of this nature do not turn away our view from what is before us to what is behind, but rather help our vision, so that we discern more distinctly the goal. Paul, however, condemns here such looking back, as either destroys or impairs alacrity. Thus, for example, should any one persuade himself that he has made sufficiently great progress, reckoning that he has done enough, he will become indolent, and feel inclined to deliver up the lamp f190 to others; or, if any one looks back with a feeling of regret for the situation that he has abandoned, he cannot apply the whole bent of his mind to what he is engaged in. Such was the nature of the thoughts from which Paul’s mind required to be turned away, if he would in good earnest follow out Christ’s calling. As, however, there has been mention made here of endeavor, aim, course, perseverance, lest any one should imagine that salvation consists in these things, or should even ascribe to human industry what comes from another quarter, with the view of pointing out the cause of all these things, he adds—in Christ Jesus.

15. As many as are perfect. Lest any one should understand this as spoken of the generality of mankind, as though he were explaining the simple elements to those that are mere children in Christ, he declares that it is a rule which all that are perfect ought to fol1ow. Now, the rule is this—that we must renounce confidence in all things, that we may glory in Christ’s righteousness alone, and preferring it to everything else, aspire after a participation in his sufferings, which may be the means of conducting us to a blessed resurrection. Where now will be that state of perfection which monks dream of—where the confused medley of such contrivances—-where, in short, the whole system of Popery, which is nothing else than an imaginary perfection, that has nothing in common with this rule of Paul? Undoubtedly, whoever will understand this single term, will clearly perceive that everything that is taught in the Papacy, as to the attainment of righteousness and salvation, is nauseous dung.

If in anything otherwise. By the same means he both humbles them, and inspires them with good hope, for he admonishes them not to be elated in their ignorance, and at the same time he bids them be of good courage, when he says that we must wait for the revelation of God. For we know how great an obstacle to truth obstinacy is. This, therefore, is the best preparation for docility—when we do not take pleasure in error. Paul, accordingly, teaches indirectly, that we must make way for the revelation of God, if we have not yet attained what we seek. Farther, when he teaches that we must advance by degrees, he encourages them not to draw back in the middle of the course. At the same time, he maintains beyond all controversy what he has previously taught, when he teaches that others who differ from him will have a revelation given to them of what they do not as yet know. For it is as though he had said, — “The Lord will one day shew you that the very thing which I have stated is a perfect rule of true knowledge and of right living.”No one could speak in this manner, if he were not fully assured of the reasonableness and accuracy of his doctrine. Let us in the mean time learn also from this passage, that we must bear for a time with ignorance in our weak brethren, and forgive them, if it is not given them immediately to be altogether of one mind with us. Paul felt assured as to his doctrine, and yet he allows those who could not as yet receive it time to make progress, and he does not cease on that account to regard them as brethren, only he cautions them against flattering themselves hi their ignorance. The rendering of the Latin copies f192 in the preterite, revelavit, (he has revealed,) I have no hesitation in rejecting as unsuitable and inappropriate.

16. Nevertheless, so far as we have attained. Even the Greek manuscripts themselves differ as to the dividing of the clauses, for in some of them there are two complete sentences. If any one, however, prefer to divide the verse, the meaning will be as Erasmus has rendered it. f193 For my part, I rather prefer a different reading, implying that Paul exhorts the Philipplans to imitate him, that they may at last reach the same goal, so as to think the same thing, and walk by the same rule. For where sincere affection exists, such as reigned in Paul, the way is easy to a holy and pious concord, As, therefore, they had not yet learned what true perfection was, in order that they might attain it he wishes them to be imitators of him; that is, to seek God with a pure conscience, (<550103>2 Timothy 1:3,) to arrogate nothing to themselves, and calmly to subject their understandings to Christ. For in the imitating of Paul all these excellences are included-pure zeal, fear of the Lord, modesty, self-renunciation, docility, love, and desire of concord. He bids them, however, be at one and the same time imitators of him; that is, all with one consent, and with one mind.

Observe, that the goal of perfection to which he invites the Philippians, by his example, is, that they think the same thing, and walk by the same rule. He has, however, assigned the first place to the doctrine in which they ought to harmonize, and the rule to which they should conform themselves.

17. Mark them. By this expression he means, that it is all one to him what persons they single out for themselves for imitation, provided they conform themselves to that purity of which he was a pattern. By this means all suspicion of ambition is taken away, for the man that is devoted to his own interests wishes to have no rival. At the same time he warns them that all are not to be imitated indiscriminately, as he afterwards explains more fully.

<500318>Philippians 3:18-21

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:

18. Multi enim ambulant (quos saepe dicebam vobis, ac nunc etiam flens dico, inimicos esse crucis Christi:

19. Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

19. Quorum finis perditio, quorum deus venter est, et gloria in confusione ipsorum terrena cogitantes.)

20. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:

20. Nostra qutem conversatio in coelis est, e quibus etiam salvatorem respectamus, Dominum Iesum Christum.

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 al things unto himself.

21. Qui transformabit corpus nostrum humile, ut sit conforme corpori suo glorioso, secundum efficaciam, qua potest etiam sibi subiicere omnia.


18. For many walk. The simple statement, in my opinion, is this- Many walk who mind earthly things, meaning by this, that there are many who creep upon the ground193, not feeling the power of God’s kingdom. He mentions, however, in connection with this, the marks by which such persons may be distinguished. These we will examine, each in its order. By earthly things some understand ceremonies, and the outward elements of the world, which cause true piety to be forgotten, I prefer, however, to view the term as referring to carnal affection, as meaning that those who are not regenerated by the Spirit of God think of nothing but the world. This will appear more distinctly from what follows; for he holds them up to odium on this ground—that, being desirous exclusively of their own honor, ease, and gain, they had no regard to the edification of the Church.

Of whom I have told you often. He shews that it is not without good reason that he has often warned the Philippians, inasmuch as he now endeavors to remind them by letter of the same things as he had formerly spoken of to them when present with them. His tears, also, are an evidence that he is not influenced by envy or hatred of men, nor by any disposition to revile, nor by insolence of temper, but by pious zeal, inasmuch as he sees that the Church is miserably destroyed f194 by such pests. It becomes us, assuredly, to be affected in such a manner, that on seeing that the place of pastors is occupied by wicked and worthless persons, we shall sigh, and give evidence, at least by our tears, that we feel deeply grieved for the calamity of the Church.

It is of importance, also, to take notice of whom Paul speaks—not of open enemies, who were avowedly desirous that doctrine might be undermined—but of impostors and profligates, who trampled under foot the power of the gospel, for the sake of ambition or of their own belly. And unquestionably persons of this sort, who weaken the influence of the ministry by seeking their own interests f195, sometimes do more injury than if they openly opposed Christ. We must, therefore, by no means spare them, but must point them out with the finger, as often as there is occasion. Let them complain afterwards, as much as they choose, of our severity, provided they do not allege anything against us that it is not in our power to justify from Paul’s example.

That they are the enemies of the cross of Christ. Some explain cross to mean the whole mystery of redemption, and they explain that this is said of them, because, by preaching the law, they made void the benefit of Christ’s death. Others, however, understand it as meaning, that they shunned the cross, and were not prepared to expose themselves to dangers for the sake of Christ. I understand it, however, in a more general way, as meaning that, while they pretended to be friends, they were, nevertheless, the worst enemies of the gospel. For it is no unusual thing for Paul to employ the term cross to mean the entire preaching of the gospel. For as he says elsewhere,

If any man is in Christ, let him be a new creature.
(<470517>2 Corinthians 5:17.) f196

19. Whose end is destruction. He adds this in order that the Philippians, appalled by the danger, may be so much the more carefully on their guard, that they may not involve themselves in the ruin of those persons. As, however, profligates of this description, by means of show and various artifices, frequently dazzle the eyes of the simple for a time, in such a manner that they are preferred even to the most eminent servants of Christ, the Apostle declares, with great confidence f197, that the glory with which they are now puffed up will be exchanged for ignominy.

Whose god is the belly. As they pressed the observance of circumcision and other ceremonies, he says that they did not do so from zeal for the law, but with a view to the favor of men, and that they might live peacefully and free from annoyance. For they saw that the Jews burned with a fierce rage against; Paul, and those like him, and that Christ could not be proclaimed by them in purity with any other result, than that of arousing against themselves the same rage. Accordingly, consulting their own ease and advantage, they mixed up these corruptions with the view of mitigating the flames of others. f198

20. But our conversation is in heaven. This statement overturns all empty shows, in which pretended ministers of the gospel are accustomed to glory, and he indirectly holds up to odium all their objects of aim f199, because, by flying about above the earth, they do not aspire towards heaven. For he teaches that nothing is to be reckoned of any value except God’s spiritual kingdom, because believers ought to lead a heavenly life in this world. They mind earthly things: it is therefore befitting that we, whose conversation is in heaven, should be separated from them.” f200 We are, it is true, intermingled here with unbelievers and hypocrites; nay more, the chaff has more of appearance in the granary of the Lord than wheat. Farther, we are exposed to the common inconveniences of this earthly life; we require, also, meat and drink, and other necessaries, but we must, nevertheless, be conversant with heaven in mind and affection. For, on the one hand, we must pass quietly through this life, and, on the other hand, we must be dead to the world that Christ may live in us, and that we, in our turn, may live to him. This passage is a most abundant source of many exhortations, which it were easy for any one to elicit from it.

Whence also. From the connection that we have with Christ, he proves that our citizenship f201 is a heaven, for it is not seemly that the members should be separated from their Head. Accordingly, as Christ is in heaven, in order that we may be conjoined with him, it is necessary that we should in spirit dwell apart from this world. Besides,

where our treasure is, there is our heart also.
(<400621>Matthew 6:21.)

Christ, who is our blessedness and glory, is in heaven: let our souls, therefore, dwell with him on high. On this account he expressly calIs him Savior. Whence does salvation come to us? Christ will come to us from heaven as a Savior. Hence it were unbefitting that we should be taken up with this earth f202. This epithet, Savior, is suited to the Connection of the passage; for we are said to be in heaven in respect of our minds on this account, that it is from that source alone that the hope of salvation beams forth upon us. As the coming of Christ will be terrible to the wicked, so it rather turns away their minds from heaven than draws them thither: for they know that he will come to them as a Judge, and they shun him so far as is in their power. From these words of Paul pious minds derive the sweetest consolation, as instructing them that the coming of Christ is to be desired by them, inasmuch as it will bring salvation to them. On the other hand, it is a sure token of incredulity, when persons tremble on any mention being made of it. See the eighth chapter of the Romans. While, however, others are transported with vain desires, Paul would have believers contented with Christ alone.

Farther, we learn from this passage that nothing mean or earthly is to be conceived of as to Christ, inasmuch as Paul bids us look upward to heaven, that we may seek him. Now, those that reason with subtlety that Christ is not shut up or hid in some corner of heaven, with the view of proving that his body is everywhere, and fills heaven and earth, say indeed something that is true, but not the whole: for as it were rash and foolish to mount up beyond the heavens, and assign to Christ a station, or seat, or place of walking, in this or that region, so it is a foolish and destructive madness to draw him down from heaven by any carnal consideration, so as to seek him upon earth. Up, then, with our hearts f203, that they may be with the Lord.

21. Who will change. By this argument he stirs up the Philipplans still farther to lift up their minds to heaven, and be wholly attached to Christ—because this body which we carry about with us is not an everlasting abode, but a frail tabernacle, which will in a short time be reduced to nothing. Besides, it is liable to so many miseries, and so many dishonorable infirmities, that it may justly be spoken of as vile and full of ignominy. Whence, then, is its restoration to be hoped for? From heaven, at Christ’s coming. Hence there is no part of us that ought not to aspire after heaven with undivided affection. We see, on the one hand, in life, but chiefly in death, the present meanness of our bodies; the glory which they will have, conformably to Christ’s body, is incomprehensible by us: for if the disciples could not endure the slight taste which he afforded f204 in his transfiguration, (<401706>Matthew 17:6,) which of us could attain its fullness? Let us for the present be contented with the evidence of our adoption, being destined to know the riches of our inheritance when we shall come to the enjoyment of them.

According to the efficacy. As nothing is more difficult to believe, or more at variance with carnal perception, than the resurrection, Paul on this account places before our eyes the boundless power of God, that it may entirely remove all doubt; for distrust arises from this—that we measure the thing itself by the narrowness of our own understanding. Nor does he simply make mention of power, but also of efficacy, which is the effect, or power showing itself in action, so to speak. Now, when we bear in mind that God, who created all things out of nothing, can command the earth, and the sea, and the other elements, to render back what has been committed to them f205, our minds are imrnediately roused up to a flrm hope—nay, even to a spiritual contemplation of the resurrection.

But it is of importance to take notice, also, that the right and power of raising the dead, nay more, of doing everything according to his own pleasure, is assigned to the person of Christ—an encomium by which his Divine majesty is illustriously set forth. Nay, farther, we gather from this, that the world was created by him, for to subject all things to himself belongs to the Creator alone.


<500401>Philippians 4:1-3

1. Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and corwn, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.

1. Itaque, fratres mei dilecti et desiderati, gaudium et corona mea, sic state in Domino, dilecti.

2. I beseech Eudodias, and beseech Syntche, that they beof the same mind in the Lord.

2. Euodian hortor, et Syntchen hortor, ut unum sentiant in Domino.

3. And I entreat thee also, true yoke-fellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also,and with other my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the book of life.

3. Sane rogo etiam to, germane compar, adiuva eas, quae in evangelio idem mecum certamen sustinuerunt, cum Clemente etiam, et reliquis adiutoribus meis, quorum nomina sunt in libro vitae.


1. Therefore, my brethren. He concludes his doctrine, as he is wont, with most urgent exhortations, that he may fix it the more firmly in the minds of men. He also insinuates himself into their affections by endearing appellations f206, which at the same time are not dictated by flattery, but by sincere affection. He calls them his joy and crown; because, delighted to see those who had been gained over through his instrumentality persevering in the faith f207, he hoped to attain that triumph, of which we have spoken f208, when the Lord will reward with a crown those things which have been accomplished under his guidance.

When he bids them so stand fast in the Lord, he means that their condition is approved of by him. At the same time, the particle so might be taken as referring to the doctrine going before; but the former view is more suitable, so that, by praising their present condition, he exhorts them to perseverance. They had already, it is true, given some evidence of their constancy. Paul, however, well knowing human weakness, reckons that they have need of confirmation for the future.

2. 1 exhort Euodias and Syntyche. It is an almost universally received opinion that Paul was desirous to settle a quarrel, I know not of what sort, between those two women. While I am not inclined to contend as to this, the words of Paul do not afford ground enough for such a conjecture to satisfy us that it really was so. It appears, from the testimony which he gives in their favor, that they were very excellent women; for he assigns to them so much honor as to call them fellow-soldiers in the gospel f209. Hence, as their agreement was a matter of great moment f210, and, on the other hand, there would be great danger attendant on their disagreement, he stirs them up particularly to concord.

We must take notice, however, that, whenever he speaks of agreement, he adds also the bond of it—in the Lord. For every combination will inevitably be accursed, if apart from the Lord, and, on the other hand, nothing is so disjoined, but that it ought to be reunited in Christ.

3. I entreat thee, also, true yokefellow. I am not inclined to dispute as to the gender of the noun, and shall, accordingly, leave it undetermined f211, whether he addresses here a man or a woman. At the same time there is excessive weakness in the argument of Erasmus, who infers that it is a woman from the circumstance, that mention is made here of other women—as though he did not immediately subjoin the name of Clement in the same connection. I refrain, however, from that dispute: only I maintain that it is not Paul’s wife that is designated by this appellation. Those who maintain this, quote Clement and Ignatius as their authorities. If they quoted correctly, I would not certainly despise men of such eminence. But as writings are brought forward from Eusebius f212 which are spurious, and were contrived by ignorant monks f213, they are not deserving of much credit among readers of sound judgment f214.

Let us, therefore, inquire as to the thing itself, without taking any false impression from the opinions of men. When Paul wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians, he was, as he mentions, at that time unmarried.

To the unmarried, says he, and widows, I say × it is good that they should continue even as I am (<460708>1 Corinthians 7:8.)

 He wrote that Epistle at Ephesus f215 whenhe was prepared to leave it. Not long after, he proceeded to Jerusalem, where he was put in prison, and sent to Rome. Every one must perceive how unsuitable a period of time it would have been for marrying a wife, spent by him partly in journeying, and partly in prison. In addition to this, he was even at that time prepared to endure imprisonment and persecutions, as he himself testifies, according to Luke. (<442101>Acts 21:1.3.) I am, at the same time, well aware what objection is usually brought forward in opposition to thist— that Paul, though married, refrained from conjugal intercourse. The words, however, convey another meaning, for he is desirous that unmarried persons may have it in their power to remain in the same condition with himself. Now, what is that condition but celibacy? As to their bringing forward that passage—

Is it not lawful for me to lead about a wife (I Corinthians 9:5,)

for the purpose of proving he had a wife, it is too silly to require any refutation f216. But granting that Paul was married, how came his wife to be at Philippi—a city which we do not read of his entering on more than two occasions, and in which it is probable he never remained so much as two whole months? In fine, nothing is more unlikely than that he speaks here of his wife; and to me it does not seem probable that he speaks of any female. I leave it, however, to the judgment of my readers. The word which Paul makes use of here (sulla>mbanesqai) means, to take hold of a thing and embrace it along with another person, with the view of giving help f217.

Whose names are in the book of life. The book of life is the roll of the righteous, who are predestinated to life, as in the writings of Moses. (<023232>Exodus 32:32.) God has this roll beside himself in safe keeping. Hence the book is nothing else than His eternal counsel, fixed in His own breast. In place of this term, Ezekiel employs this expression—the writing of the house of Israel. With the same view it is said in

Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and let them not be written among the righteous; (<196929>Psalm 69:29)

that is, let them not be numbered among the elect of God, whom he receives within the limits of his Church and kingdom f218.

Should any one allege, that Paul therefore acts rashly in usurping to himself the right of pronouncing as to the secrets of God, I answer, that we may in some measure form a judgment from the token by which God manifests his election, but only in so far as our capacity admits. In all those, therefore, in whom we see the marks of adoption shine forth, let us in the mean time reckon those to be the sons of God until the books are opened, (<662012>Revelation 20:12,) which will thoroughly bring all things to view. It belongs, it is true, to God alone now to know them that are his, (<550219>2 Timothy 2:19,) and to separate at least the lambs from the kids; f219 but it is our part to reckon in charity all to be lambs who, in a spirit of obedience, submit themselves to Christ as their Shepherd f220, who betake themselves to his fold, and remain there constantly. It is our part to set so high a value upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which he confers peculiarly on his elect, that they shall be to us the seals, as it were, of an election which is hid from us.

<500404>Philippians 4:4-9

4. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

4. Gaudete in Domino semper, iterum dico, gaudete.

5. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

5. Moderatio vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus. Dominus prope est.

6. Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplicaiton, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.

6. De nulla re sitis solliciti: sed in omnibus, oratione et precatione, cum gratiarum actione, petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum.

7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

7. Et pax Dei, quae exsuperat omnem intelligentiam, custodiet corda vestra et cogitationes vestras in Christo Iesu.

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 virture, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

8. Quod reliquum est, fratres, quaecunque sunt vera, quaecunque gravia, qaecunque iusta, quaecunque pura, quaecunque amabilia,quaecunque honesta: si qua virtus, et qua laus, haec cogitate.

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.

9. Quae et didicistis, et suscepistis, et audistis, et vidistis in me: haec facite, et Deus pacis erit vobiscum.


4. Rejoice in the Lord. It is an exhortation suited to the times; for, as the condition of the pious was exceedingly troublous, and dangers threatened them on every side, it was possible that they might give way, overcome by grief or impatience f221.Hence he enjoins it upon them, that, amidst circumstances of hostility and disturbance, they should nevertheless rejoice in the Lord f222, as assuredly these spiritual consolations, by means of which the Lord refreshes and gladdens us, ought then most of all to show their efficacy when the whole world tempts us to despair. Let us, however, in connection with the circumstances of the times, consider what efficacy there must have been in this word uttered by the mouth of Paul, who might have had special occasion of sorrow f223 For if they are appalled by persecutions, or imprisonments, or exile, or death, here is the Apostle setting himself forward, who, amidst imprisonments, in the very heat of persecution, and in fine, amidst apprehensions of death, is not merely himself joyful, but even stirs up others to joy. The sum, then, is this—that come what may, believers, having the Lord standing on their side f224, have amply sufficient ground of joy.

The repetition of the exhortation serves to give greater force to it: Let this be your strength and stability, to rejoice in the Lord, and that, too, not for a moment merely, but so that your joy in him may be perpetuated f225. For unquestionably it differs from the joy of the world in this respect - that we know from experience that the joy of the world is deceptive, frail, and fading, and Christ even pronouces it to be accursed (<420625>Luke 6:25). Hence, tht only is a settled joy in God which is such as is never taken away from us.

5. Your moderation. This may be explained in two ways. We may understand him as bidding them rather give up their right, than that any one should have occasion to complain of their sharpness or severity. “Let all that have to deal with you have experience of your equity and humanity.”In this way to know, will mean to experience. Or we may understand him as exhorting them to endure all things with equanimity f226. This latter meaning I rather prefer; for is a term that is made use of by the Greeks themselves to denote moderation of spirit—when we are not easily moved by injuries, when we are not easily annoyed by adversity, but retain equanimity of temper. In accordance with this, Cicero makes use of the following expression,— “My mind is tranquil, which takes everything in good part.” f227 Such equanimity—which is as it were the mother of patience —he requires here on the part of the Philippians, and, indeed, such as will manifest itself to all, according as occasion will require, by producing its proper effects. The term modesty does not seem appropriate here, because Paul is not in this passage cautioning them against haughty insolence, but directs them to conduct themselves peaceably in everything, and exercise control over themselves, even in the endurance of injuries or inconveniences.

The Lord is at hand. Here we have an aaticipation, by which he obviates an objection that might be brought forward. For carnal sense rises in opposition to the foregoing statement. For as the rage of the wicked is the more inflamed in proportion to our mildness f228, and the more they see us prepared for enduring, are the more emboldened to inflict injuries, we are with difficulty induced to possess our souls in patience. (<422119>Luke 21:19.) Hence those proverbs,— “We must howl when among wolves.””Those who act like sheep will quickly be devoured by wolves.”Hence we conclude, that the ferocity of the wicked must be repressed by corresponding violence, that they may not insult us with impunity f229. To such considerations Paul here opposes confidence in Divine providence. He replies, I say, that the Lord is at hand, whose power can overcome their audacity, and whose goodness can conquer their malice. He promises that he will aid us, provided we obey his commandment. Now, who would not rather be protected by the hand of God alone, than have all the resources of the world at his command?

Here we have a most beautiful sentiment, from which we learn, in the first place, that ignorance of the providence of God is the cause of all impatience, and that this is the reason why we are so quickly, and on trivial accounts, thrown into confusion f230, and often, too, become disheartened because we do not recognize the fact that the Lord cares for us. On the other hand, we learn that this is the only remedy for tranquillizing our minds—when we repose unreservedly in his providential care, as knowing that we are not exposed either to the rashness of fortune, or to the caprice of the wicked f231, but are under the regulation of God’s fatherly care. In fine, the man that is in possession of this truth, that God is present with him, has what he may rest upon with security.

There are, however, two ways in which the Lord is said to be at hand—either because his judgment is at hand, or because he is prepared to give help to his own people, in which sense it is made use of here; and also in <19E518>Psalm 145:18, The Lord is near to all that call upon him. The meaning therefore is,— “Miserable were the condition of the pious, if the Lord were at a distance from them.”But as he has received them under his protection and guardianship, and defends them by his hand, which is everywhere present, let them rest upon this consideration, that they may not be intimidated by the rage of the wicked. It is well known, and matter of common occurrence, that the term solicitudo (carefulness) is employed to denote that anxiety which proceeds from distrust of Divine power or help.

6. But in all things. It is the singular number that is made use of by Paul, but is the neuter gender; the expression, therefore, is equivalent to omni negotio, (in every matter,) for (prayer) and (supplication) are feminine nouns. In these words he exhorts the Philippians, as David does all the pious in <195522>Psalm 55:22, and Peter also in <600507>1 Peter 5:7, to cast all their care upon the Lord. For we are not made of iron f232, so as not to be shaken by temptations. But this is our consolation, this is our solace —to deposit, or (to speak with greater propriety) to disburden in the bosom of God everything that harasses us. Confidence, it is true, brings tranquil!ity to our minds, but it is only in the event of our exercising ourselves in prayers. Whenever, therefore, we are assailed by any temptation, let us betake ourselves forthwith to prayer, as to a sacred asylum. f233.

The term requests he employs here to denote desires or wishes. He would have us make these known to God by prayer and supplication, as though believers poured forth their hearts before God, when they commit themselves, and all that they have, to Him. Those, indeed, who look hither and thither to the vain comforts of the world, may appear to be in some degree relieved; but there is one sure refuge—-leaning upon the Lord.

With thanksgiving As many often pray to God amiss f234, full of complaints or of murmurings, as though they had just ground for accusing him, while others cannot brook delay, if he does not immediately gratify their desires, Paul on this account conjoins thanksgiving with prayers. It is as though he had said, that those things which are necessary for us ought to be desired by us from the Lord in such a way, that we, nevertheless, subject our affections to his good pleasure, and give thanks while presenting petitions. And, unquestionably, gratitude f235 will have this effect upon us—that the will of God will be the grand sum of our desires.

7. And the peace of God. Some, by turning the future tense into the optative mood, convert this statement into a prayer, but it is without proper foundation. For it is a promise in which he points out the advantage of a firm confidence in God, and invocation of him. “If you do that,”says he, the peace of God will keep your minds and hearts.” Scripture is accustomed to divide the soul of man, as to its frailties, into two parts—the mind and the heart. The mind means the understanding, while the heart denotes all the disposition or inclinations. These two terms, therefore, include the entire soul, in this sense,— “The peace of God will guard you, so as to prevent you from turning back from God in wicked thoughts or desires.”

It is on good ground that he calls it the peace of God, inasmuch as it does not depend on the present aspect of things f236, and does not bend itself to the various shiftings of the world f237, but is founded on the firm and immutable word of God. It is on good grounds, also, that he speaks of it as surpassing all understanding or perception, for nothing is more foreign to the human mind, than in the depth of despair to exercise, nevertheless, a feeling of hope, in the depth of poverty to see opulence, and in the depth of weakness to keep from giving way, and, in fine, to promise ourselves that nothing will be wanting to us when we are left destitute of all things; and all this in the grace of God alone, which is not itself known otherwise than through the word, and the inward earnest of the Spirit.

8. Finally. What follows consists of general exhortations which relate to the whole of life. In the first place, he commends truth, which is nothing else than the integrity of a good conscience, with the fruits of it: secondly, gravity, or sanctity, for f238 denotes both—an excellence which consists in this, that we walk in a manner worthy of our vocation, (<490401>Ephesians 4:1,) keeping at a distance from all profane filthiness: thirdly, justice, which has to do with the mutual intercourse of mankind—-that we do not injure any one, that we do not defraud any one: and, fourthly, purity, which denotes chastity in every department of life. Paul, however, does not reckon all these things to be sufficient, if we do not at the same time endeavor to make ourselves agreeable to all, in so far as we may lawfully do so in the Lord, and have regard also to our good name. For it is in this way that I understand the words

If any praise f239, that is, anything praiseworthy, for amidst such a corruption of manners there is so great a perversity in men’s judgments that praise is often bestowed f240 upon what is blameworthy, and it is not allowable for Christians to be desirous even of true praise among men, inasmuch as they are elsewhere forbidden to glory, except in God alone. (<460131>1 Corinthians 1:31.) Paul, therefore. does not bid them try to gain applause or commendation by virtuous actions, nor even to regulate their life according to the judgments of the people, but simply means, that they should devote themselves to the performance of good works, which merit commendation, that the wicked, and those who are enemies of the gospel, while they deride Christians and cast reproach upon them, may, nevertheless, be constrained to commend their deportment.

The word , however, among the Greeks, is employed, like cogitare among the Latins, to mean, meditate f241. Now meditation comes first, afterwards follows action.

9. What things ye have learned, and received, and heard. By this accumulation of terms he intimates, that he was assiduous in inculcating these things. “This was my doctrine—my instruction—my discourse among you.”Hypocrites, on the other hand, insisted upon nothing but ceremonies. Now, it was a dishonorable thing to abandon the holy instruction f242,which they had wholly imbibed, and with which they had been thorouglly imbued.

You have seen in me. Now, the main thing in a public speaker f243 should be, that he may speak, not with his mouth merely, but by his life, and procure authority for his doctrine by rectitude of life. Paul, accordingly, procures authority for his exhortation on this ground, that he had, by his life no less than by his mouth, been a leader and master of virtues.

And the God of peace. He had spoken of the peace of God; he now more particularly confirms what he had said, by promising that God himself, the Author of peace, will be with them. For the presence of God brings us every kind of blessing: as though he had said, that they would feel that God was present with them to make all things turn out well and prosperously, provided they apply themselves to pious and holy actions.

<500410>Philippians 4:10-14

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

10.Gavisu sum autem in domino valde, quod aliquando reviguistis in studio mei, de quo etiam cogitabatis, sed deerat opportunitas.

11. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I ahve learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

11.Non quod secundum penuriam loquar;;ego enim didici, in quibus sum, iis contentus esse.

12. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; everywhere, and in all things, I am instructed both to be full and be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

12. Novi et humilis esse, novi et excellere: ubique et in omnibus institutus sum, et saturari, et esurire, et abundare, et penuriam pati.

13. I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.

13.Omnia possum in Christo, qui me corroborat.

14. Notwithstanding ye have well done that ye did communicate with my affliction.

14. Caeterum benefecistis simul communicando afflictioni meae.


10. But I rejoiced. He now declares the gratitude of his mind towards the Philippians, that they may not regret their beneficence F244, as is usually the case when we think that our services are despised, or are reckoned of no account. They had sent him by Epaphroditus supplies for the relief of his necessity; he declares that their present had been acceptable to him, and he says, that he rejoiced that they had plucked up new vigor so as to exercise care respecting him. The metaphor is borrowed from trees, the strength of which is drawn inward, and lies concealed during winter, and begins to flourish F245 in spring. But immediately afterwards subjoining a correction, he qualifies what he had said, that he may not seem to reprove their negligence in the past. He says, therefore, that they had formerly, too, been concerned respecting him, but that the circumstances of the times had not admitted of his being sooner relieved by their benignity. Thus he throws the blame upon the want of opportunity. I take the phrase as referring to the person of Paul, and that is its proper signification, as well as more in accordance with the connection of Paul’s words.

11. Not that I speak with respect to want. Here we have a second correction, by which he guards against its being suspected that his spirit was pusillanimous and broken down by adversities. For it was of importance that his constancy and moderation should be known by the Philippians, to whom he was a pattern of life. Accordingly he declares, that he had been gratified by their liberality in such a way that he could at the same time endure want with patience. Want refers here to disposition, for that man can never be poor in mind, who is satisfied with the lot which has been assigned to him by God.

In what state I am, says he, that is, “Whatever my condition may be, I am satisfied with it.”Why? because saints know that they thus please God. Hence they do not measure sufficiency by abundance, but by the will of God, which they judge of by what takes place, for they are persuaded that their affairs are regulated by his providence and good pleasure.

12. I know both how to be abased. There follows here a distinction, with the view of intimating that he has a mind adapted to bear any kind of condition F246. Prosperity is wont to puff up the mind beyond measure, and adversity, on the other hand, to depress. From both faults he declares himself to be free. I know, says he, to be abased—that is, to endure abasement with patience. is made use of twice, but in the former instance it is employed as meaning, to excel; in the second instance, as meaning, to abound, so as to correspond with the things to which they are exposed. If a man knows to make use of present abundance in a sober and temperate manner, with thanksgiving, prepared to part with everything whenever it may be the good pleasure of the Lord, giving also a share to his brother, according to the measure of his ability, and is also not puffed up, that man has learned to excel, and to abound. This is a peculiarly excellent and rare virtue, and much superior to the endurance of poverty. Let all who wish to be Christ’s disciples exercise themselves in acquiring this knowledge which was possessed by Paul, but in the mean time let them accustom themselves to the endurance of poverty in such a manner that it will not be grievous and burdensome to them when they come to be deprived of their riches.

13. I can do all things through Christ. As he had boasted of things that were very great F247, in order that this might not be attributed to pride or furnish others with occasion of foolish boasting, he adds, that it is by Christ that he is endowed with this fortitude. “I can do all things,” says he, “but it is in Christ, not by my own power, for it is Christ that supplies me with strength.” Hence we infer, that Christ will not be less strong and invincible in us also, if, conscious of our own weakness, we place reliance upon his power alone. When he says all things, he means merely those things which belong to his calling.

14. Nevertheless ye did well. How prudently and cautiously he acts, looking round carefully in both directions, that he may not lean too much to the one side or to the other. By proclaiming in magnificent terms his steadfastness, he meant to provide against the Philippians supposing that he had given way under the pressure of want? He now takes care that it may not, from his speaking in high terms, appear as though he despised their kindness—a thing that would not merely shew cruelty and obstinacy, but also haughtiness. He at the same time provides for this, that if any other of the servants of Christ should stand in need of their assistance they may not be slow to give him help.

<500415>Philippians 4:15-23

15. Now, ye Philippians, know also, that in the beginnng of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me, as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

15. Nostis autem et vos Philippenses, quod initio Evangelii, qunado exivi ex Macedonia, nulla mecum Ecclesia in ratione dati et accepti, nisi vos soli.

16. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

16. Nam et Tessalonicam semel atque iterum mihi, quod opus erat, misistis:

17. Not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

17. Non quia requiram donum, sed requiro fructum, qui exsuperet in rationem vestram.

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, well-pleasing to God.

18. Accepi autem omnia et abundo, impletus sum, postquam ab Epaphrodito accepi, quai missa sunt a vobis in odorem bonae fragrantiae, sacrificium acceptum gractum Deo.

19. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

19. Deus autem meus implebit, quicquid vobis opus est, secundum divitias suas in gloria per Christum Iesum.

20. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

20. Porro Deo et Patri nostro gloria in secula seculorum. Amen.

21. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you.

21. Salutate omnes sanctos in Christo Iesu. Salutant vos qui mecum sunt fratres.

22. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Cesar’s household.

22. Salutant vos omnes sancti: maxime qui sunt ex domo Caesaris.

23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

23. Gratia domini nostri Iesu Christi cum omnibus vobis. Amen.

It was written to the Philippians from Rome by Epaphroditus.

Scripta est a roma per Epaphroditum.


15. And ye know. I understand this to have been added by way of excuse, inasmuch as he often received something from them, for if the other Churches had discharged their duty, it might have seemed as though he were too eager to receive. Hence in clearing himself he praises them, and in praising them he modestly excuses others. We must also, after Paul’s example, take heed lest the pious, on seeing us too much inclined to receive from others, should on good grounds reckon us to be insatiable. You also know, says he. “I do not require to call in other witnesses, for ye yourselves also know.”For it frequently happens, that when one thinks that others are deficient in duty, he is the more liberal in giving assistance.Thus the liberality of some escapes the notice of others.

In the matter of giving and receiving. He alludes to pecuniary matters, in which there are two parts, the one receiving, the other expending. It is necessary that these should be brought to an equality by mutual compensation. There was an account of this nature carried on between Paul and the Churches f249. While Paul administered the gospel to them, there was an obligation devolving upon them in return for supplying what was necessary for the support of his life, as he says elsewhere,

If we dispense to you spiritual thinqs, is it a great matter if you give in return carnal things? (<460911>1 Corinthians 9:11.)

Hence, if the other churches had relieved Paul’s necessities, they would have been giving nothing gratuitously, but would have been simply paying their debt, for they ought to have aclcnowledged themselves indebted to him for the gospel. This, however, he acknowledges, had not been the case, inasmuch as they had not laid out anything on his account. What base ingratitude, and how very unseemly, to treat such an Apostle with neglect, to whom they knew themselves to be under obligation beyond their power to discharge! On the other hand, how great the forbearance of this holy man, to bear with their inhumanity with so much gentleness and indulgence, as not to make use of one sharp word by way of accusing them!

17. Not that I demand a gift. Again he repels an unfavourable opinion that might be formed of immoderate cupidity, that they might not suppose that it was an indirect hint f250, as if they ought singly to stand in the room of all f251, and as if he abused their kindness. He accordingly declares, that he consulted not so much his own advantage as theirs. “While I receive from you,”says he, “there is proportionably much advantage that redounds to yourselves; for there are just so many articles that you may reckon to have been transferred to the table of accounts.”The meaning of this word f252 is connected with the similitude formerly employed of exchange or compensation in pecuniary matters.

18. I have received all things, and abound. He declares in more explicit terms, that he has what is sufficient, and honors their liberality with a remarkable testimony, by saying, that he has been filled. It was undoubtedly a moderate sum that they had sent, but he says, that by means of that moderate sum he is filled to satiety. It is, however, a more distinguished commendation that he bestows upon the gift in what follows, when he calls it a sacrifice acceptable, and presented as the odour of a good fragrance. For what better thing can be desired than that our acts of kindness should be sacred offerings, which God receives from our hands, and takes pleasure in their sweet odour? For the same reason Christ says, Whatsoever ye shall have done unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me.

The similitude of sacrifices, however, adds much emphasis, by which we are taught, that the exercise of love which God enjoins upon us, is not merely a benefit conferred upon man, but is also a spiritual and sacred service which is performed to God, as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that he is well pleased with such sacrifices. (<581316>Hebrews 13:16.) Alas for our indolence! f253—which appears in this, that while God invites us with so much kindness to the honor of priesthood, and even puts sacrifices in our hands, we nevertheless do not sacrifice to him, and those things which were set apart for sacred oblations we not only lay out for profane uses, but squander them wickedly upon the most polluted contaminations. f254 For the altars, on which sacrifices from our resources ought to be presented, are the poor, and the servants of Christ. To the neglect of these some squander their resources on every kind of luxury, others upon the palate, others upon immodest attire, others upon magnificent dwellings. f255

19. My God will supply. Some read impleat—in the optative—May he supply. f256 While I do not reject this reading, I approve more of the other. He expressly makes mention of God as his, because he owns and acknowledges as done to himself whatever kindness is shewn to his servants. They had therefore been truly sowing in the Lord’s field, from which a sure and abundant harvest might be expected. Nor does he promise them merely a reward in the future life, but even in respect of the necessities of the present life: “Do not think that you have impoverished yourselves; God, whom I serve, will abundantly furnish you with everything necessary for you.”The phrase, in glory, ought to be taken in place of the adverb gloriously, as meaning magnificently, or splendidly. He adds, however, by Christ, in whose name everything that we do is acceptable to God.

20. Now to our God and Father. This may be taken as a general thanksgiving, by which he closes the epistle; or it may be viewed as bearing more particularly upon the last clause in reference to the liberality shewn to Paul f257. For in respect of the assistance which the Philipplans had afforded him, it became him to reckon himself indebted to them for it in such a manner as to acknowledge, that this aid had been afforded to them by the mercy of God.

22. The brethren that are with me salute you. In these salutations he names first of all his intimate associates, f258 afterwards all the saints in general, that is, the whole Church at Rome, but chiefly those of the household of Nero—a thing well deserving to be noticed; for it is no common evidence of divine mercy, that the gospel had made its way into that sink of all crimes and iniquities. It is also the more to be admired, in proportion as it is a rare thing for holiness to reign in the courts of sovereigns. The conjecture formed by some, that Seneca is here referred to among others, has no appearance of foundation; for he never gave any evidence, even the smallest, of his being a Christian; nor did he belong to the household of Caesar, but was a senator, and had at one time held the office of praetor f259.



translators preface

 Ft1 Les Eloges des Hommes Savans.”— Tom. 1:p. 240.

 Ft2 “Merits of CALVIN,”pp. 6, 31.

 Ft3 Ibid., pp. 65, 66.

 Ft4 CALVIN’S Tracts, vol. 1:

 Ft5 “CALVIN and the Swiss Reformation,”p. 350.

 Ft6 Dr. Mason of New York

 Ft7 Foster’s Essays, (Lond. 1819,) p. 5.

 Ft8 “Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews,”p. 339.

 Ft9 Eadie’s Biblical Cyclopĉdia, Art. Colossians.

 Ft10 Howe’s Works, (Lond. 1822,) vol. 3. p. 435.

 Ft11 Illustrated Commentary, vol. 5:p. 297.

 Ft12 Fuller’s Works, vol. 4:

 Ft13 CALVIN’S Tracts, vol. 1:.

the argument

 Ft14 Caesar’s celebrated victory over Pompey took place on the plains of Pharsalia, in Thessaly, with which Philippi in Macedonia is sometimes confounded by the poets. (See Virg. G. I. 490, Juvenal, 8:242.) Their being sometimes confounded with each other appears to have arisen from the circumstance that there was near Pharsalos, in Thessaly, a town named Philippi, the original name of which was Thebae, distinguished from Thebae in Bœotia by its being called Thebae Thessaliae, or Phthioticae, but having fallen under the power of Philip, King of Macedon, was in honor of the conqueror called Philippi, or Philippopolis. — Ed.

 Ft15 The decisive engagement referred to was, as Dio Cassius observes, the most important of all that were fought during the civil wars, as it determined the fate of Roman liberty, so that the contest thenceforward was not for freedom, but — what master the Romans should serve. From its having been fought on the plains of Philippi, it is called by Suetonius Philippense bellum, (the battle of Philippi,) Suet. Aug. 13; and by Pliny, Philippense praelium, (the engagement at Philippi.)Ed.

 ft16 “Vne vision enuoyee de Dieu;”— “A vision sent from God.”

 ft17 “Auoyent essayer les esbranler;”— “Had attempted to shake them.”

 Ft18 “De s’apprestre a tout ce qu’il plaira a Dieu leur enuoyer;”— “To be prepared for everything that it shall please God to send upon them.”

 Ft19 “Et pour leur donner courage, afin qu’ils ne se laissent cependant abuser;”— “And with the view of encouraging them, that they may not allow themselves in the meantime to go astray.”

 Ft20 “Il excuse Epaphrodite de ce qu’il auoit tant demeuré sans retourner vers eux;”— “He excuses Epaphroditus for having remained so long, instead of returning to them.”

 Ft21 “Pour laquelle ils debatoyent, voulans qu’elle fust obseruee;”— “For which they contended, being desirous that it should be observed.”

 Ft22 “Arrogance et vanterie;”— “Arrogance and boasting.”

Chapter 1

 Ft23 “Toutes les fois que i’ay souuenance de vous, ou, auec entiere souuenance de vous;”— “Every time that I have remembrance of you, or, with constant remembrance of you.”

 Ft24 “Sans se desbaucher;”— “Without corrupting themselves.”

 Ft25Evagrius, a native of Antioch, and a presbyter apparently of the Church of Antioch. He traveled into the west of Europe, and was acquainted with Jerome, who describes him as a man acris ac ferventis ingenii, (of a keen and warm temper.)”— Smith’s Dictionary of Greek Biography and Mythology. — Ed.

 Ft26 The reader will find both of the passages referred to quoted at full length in the Institutes, vol. in. pp. 75, 76. — Ed.

 ft27 “Depuis les temps de l’Apostre;”— “After the times of the Apostle.”

 Ft28 “Ordonnoyent conducteur de leur congregation;”— “Appointed leader of their congregation.”

 Ft29 “De chacun corps d’Eglise en particulier;”— “Of each body of the Church in particular.”

 Ft30 “Tous prestres et pasteurs;”— “All priests and pastors.”

 Ft31 “Vne protestation, qu’il est ioyeux de leur bien;”— “A protestation, that he is delighted on account of their welfare.”

 Ft32 “Qui se reuoltent ou defaillent en chemin par legerete;”— “Who revolt or fall back in the way through fickleness.”

 Ft33 “Qu’il se confioit d’eux qu’ils perseuereroyent de reste de leur vie;”— “That he had confidence in them that they would persevere during the remainder of their life.”

 Ft34 “Entre tant d’empeschemens, mauuais passages et fascheuses rencontres, voire mesme des dangers de tomber tout a plat en perdition;”— “Amidst so many impediments, hard passes, and disagreeable collisions, nay, even so many hazards of falling headlong into perdition.”

 Ft35 See CALVIN on the Corinthians, vol. 2:

 Ft36 “Il ne se lasse point en bien faisant, et son thresor ne diminue point;”— “He does not weary himself in doing good, and does not diminish his treasure.”

 Ft37 “Enuieux et desdaigneux;”— “Envious and disdainful.”

 Ft38 “Pour recognoistre le bien que Dieu leur a fait, et n’estre point ingrats enuers luy;”— “That we may acknowledge the kindness which God has shewn them, and may not be ungrateful to him.”

 Ft39 “Extra teli jactum “— Virgil makes use of a corresponding phrase — “intra jactum teli;”— “Within the reach of a dart.”Virg. Ĉn. 11:608. — Ed.

 ft40 “En voye de proufiter, ou auancer;”— “In the way of making progress, or advancement.”

 Ft41 “Aux entrailles de Jesus Christ, ou, Es cordiale affection de Jesus Christ;”— “In the bowels of Jesus Christ, or, In the cordial affection of Jesus Christ.”

 Ft42 “Maigres et desdaigneux;”— “Miserable and disdainful.”

 Ft43 “Raison mesme et equite luy disent;”— “Even reason and equity tell him.”

 Ft44 “Ils seroyent si constans et fermes, qu’ils ne pourroyent estre aiseement induits a se reuolter laschement et desloyaument;”— “They would be so steadfast and firm, that they could not be easily induced to revolt in a cowardly and disloyal manner.”

 Ft45Sanctus at ille cruor, divini assertor honoris,
Gignendam ad sobolem seminis instar erit.

 Ft46 “A l’imitation duquel au chant de victoire composé par moy en Latin en l’honneur de Jesus Christ, 1541, et lequel depuis a este reduit en rime Francois, i’ay dit : —

‘Or le sang precieux par martyre espandu
Pour auoir a son Dieu tesmoignage rendu,
A l’Eglise de Dieu seruira de semence
Dont enfans sorteront remplis d’intelligence.’ “

“In imitation of which , in the song of victory composed by me in Latin in honor of Jesus Christ, in 1541, and which has since that time been rendered into French rhyme, I have said: —

‘But the precious blood shed by martyrs
That it might be as a testimony rendered to its God,
Will in the Church of God serve as seed
From which children shall come forth, filled with understanding.’ “

 ft47 Beza, when commenting on the expression, in the bowels of Jesus Christ, observes, “Alibi solet dicere, In Christo. Ut autem significet ex quo fonte promanet affectus iste, et quo etiam feratur, additum visceribus nomen magnum pondus addit sententiĉ, ut intimus amor significetur. Solent enim Hebraei µymjr, rachamim, id est, viscera omnes teneros ac veluti maternos affectus vocare;”— “He is accustomed in other cases to say, In Christ. But to intimate from what fountain that affection flows, and in what direction also it tends, the addition of the term bowels adds great weight to the statement, so as to express intimate affection. For the Hebrews are accustomed to employ the term µymjr rachamim, that is, bowels, to denote all tender and as it were motherly affections.”— Ed.

 ft48 “The word rendered judgment is capable of being rendered sense (pa>sh| aijsqh>sei) in all sense. ‘ I pray that you may have your spiritual senses in excerise — that you may have a judicious distinguishing sense.’ For what? Why, ‘ that ye may approve things that are excellent,’ — so it follows, or, as the words there may be read, to ‘ distinguish things that differ.’ “— Howe’s Works, (Lond. 1822,) vol. 5:p. 145. — Ed.

 ft49 “Par ignorance et faute de prudence;”— “Through ignorance and want of prudence.”

 Ft50 “Bons et aimables;”— “Good and amiable.”

 Ft51 “Estans estonnez comme d’vne chose nouuelle et non ouye;”— “Being astonished as at a thing new and unheard of.”

 Ft52 “Et faux apostres;”— “And false apostles.”

 Ft53 “En prenant ceste dangereuse accointance de S. Paul;”— “By contracting this dangerous acquaintance with St. Paul.”

 Ft54 “Afin qu’ils ne soyent point destournex;”— “That they may not be turned aside.”

 Ft55 “Ses liens ont este rendus celebres, et ont excellement serui a auancer la gloire de Christ;”— “His bonds had become celebrated, and had admirably contributed to advance the glory of Christ.”

 Ft56 “Pource qu’il entend que le bruit qui auoit este de ses liens, auoit donné grand bruit a l’Euangile;”— “Because he means that the fame, which had arisen from his bonds, had given great fame to the gospel.”

 Ft57 “Dieu a aneanti les efforts malicieux de Satan, et a frustré les meschans de leur attente;”— “God has made void the malicious efforts of Satan, and has disappointed the wicked of their expectation.”

 Ft58 Our author has most probably in view an expression which occurs in the writings of Quinctilian, (Instit. Orator., lib. 8, 2, 8,) — “tabernaculum ducis Augustale;”— (“a general’s tent is called the Augustal.”) In the best editions of Quinctilian, however, the reading of Augurale, as synonymous with auguraculum, or auguratorium; — (an apartment for the augur’s taking omens.) — Ed.

 ft59 The dictator is called by Livey, “praetor maximus;”— “the highest praetor.”— (Liv. 7:3.) — Ed.

 ft60 “La tente ou du consul, ou de celuy qui estoit chef de l’armee, quelque nom qu’on luy donast;”— “The tent of the consul, or of the person who was head of the army, whatever name was applied to him.”

 Ft61Praeibat.” — There is manifestly an allusion here to the etymology of praetor, as being derived from praeire, to go before, or preside. — Ed.

 ft62 “At Rome it”(the term praetorium) “signified the public hall where causes were tried by the praetor; but more usually it denoted the camp or quarters of the praetorian cohorts without the city ….. The name of praetorium was, in the provinces, given to the palace of the governors, both because they administered justice, and had their guards stationed in their residence. Hence it is inferred that, although the Apostle was at Rome when he wrote this, and although the circumstances to which he refers occurred in that city, yet, writing to persons residing in the provinces, he uses the word praetorium in the provincial sense, and means by it the emperor’s palace.”— Illustrated Commentary. — Ed.

 ft63 “Depuis que les empereurs usurperent la monarchie;” — “From the time that the emperors usurped the monarchy.”

 Ft64 “Pretoire signifioit aussi le lieu ou le preteur tenoit la cour, et exerçoit sa iurisdiction;”— “The praetorium signified also the place where the praetor held his court, and exercised jurisdiction.”

 Ft65 “Confiance et asseurance;”— “Confidence and assurance.”

 Ft66 “Courageux et inuincibles;”— “Courageous and unconquerable.”

 Ft67 “Estans assuerez sur ceste main et puissance du Seigneur;”— “Confidently relying upon this hand and power of the Lord.”

 Ft68 “Pource que leur zele n’estoit pas pur;”— “Because their zeal was not pure.”

 Ft69 “Il se pent bien faire, que celuy qui enseignera vne doctrine pure et saine, aura toutesfois vne mauvaise affection;”— “It may quite well happen, that the man who teaches pure and sound doctrine, will have, nevertheless, an evil disposition.”

 Ft70 “Il ne se faut esbahir si les faux-freres prenent occasion de l’evangile, et s’ils s’en forgent des bastons pour tormenter les bons et fideles pasteurs;”— “It ought not to appear surprising, if false brethren take occasion from the gospel, and contrive weapons for themselves for torturing good and faithful pastors.”

 Ft71 “Certes le sainct Apostre ne dit rien yci;”— “Certainly the holy Apostle says nothing here.”

 Ft72 “Mais voyla: il leur sembloit que la doctrine consistoit ou tomboit bas;”— “But mark! it seemed to them that doctrine stood or fell.”

 Ft73 “Que si c’estoit d’autres que Juifs, ascauoir quelques enuieux de Sainct Paul;”— “But if there were other than Jews — some that were envious of St. Paul.”

 Ft74 “Estans en quelque necessite;”— “When they are in any emergency.”

 Ft75 Praevaricatores.”The term is employed by classical writers in the sense of betraying the cause of one’s client, and by neglect or collusion assisting his opponent. See Quinct. 9:2. — Ed.

 ft76 “Si nous nous entendons auec la partie aduerse d’iceluy;”— “If we should connect ourselves with the party opposed to him.”

 Ft77 “Pouuoit diminuer l’authorite de la doctrine;”— “Might diminish the authority of the doctrine.”

 Ft78 Our Author appears to refer here to Peter Carolus, of whom the reader will find particular mention made by Beza in his Life of CALVIN. — CALVIN’S Tracts, vol. 1:pp. 30:xxxi. — Ed.

 ft79 “The word ejpicorhgi>a which we translate supply, signifies also furnishing whatever is necessary.”— Dr. A. Clarke. — Ed.

 ft80 “De varier et chanceler;”— “To shift and waver.”

 Ft81 “Or encore que viure en chair me fust proufitable, ie ne scay lequel ie doy eslire, ou, Or si viure en chair me est proufitable, et que c’est qu’ie doy eslire, ie ne scay rien;”— “But although to live in the flesh would not be profitable to me, I know not what I ought to choose; or, But if to live in the flesh is profitable to me, and that it is what I ought to choose, I know not.”

 Ft82 “Vn tel sainct Apostre;”— “So holy an Apostle.”

 Ft83 In accordance with the Vulgate, Wiclif (1380) renders as follows : “traueilynge to gidre to the feith of the gospel.”— Ed.

 ft84 “La force et constance de courage;”—”Strength and constancy of courage.”

 Ft85 “Là où il vse d’vn mot qui descend d’vn mesme verbe que celuy dont il vse yci;”—”Where he makes use of a word which comes from the same verb as that which he employs here.”

 Ft86 “Cela nous est vne demonstrance et tesmoignage de nostre salut;”—”This is to us a clear proof and token of our salvation.”

 Ft87 “Les afflictions et persecutions;”—”Afflictions and persecutions.”

 Ft88 “Combien aurions — nous proufité en la doctrine de vraye religion;”—”How much progress we would make in the doctrine of true religion.”

 Ft89 “Il nous vest de sa liuree;”— “He arrays us in his livery.”

 Ft90 “Maudite donc soit nostre stupidite;”— “Accursed, then, be our stupidity.”

 Ft91 “Les afflictions et persecutions;”— “Afflictions and persecutions.”

 Ft91 “Entrailles et misericordes, ou, cordiales affections et misericordes :”— “Bowels and mercies, or, cordial affections and mercies.”

 Ft92 “Ceste exhortation est plene d’affections vehementes;”— “This exhortation is full of intense affections.”

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 Ft93 “Et que les pasteurs le doyuent procurer d’vne affection vehemente et zele ardent;”— “And that pastors should endeavor to procure it with intense desire and ardent zeal.”

 Ft94 “Il peust vser d’authorite paternelle, et demander que pour la reuerence qu’ils luy deuoyent comme ses enfans, ils feissent ce qu’il enseigne yci;”— “He might have exercised paternal authority, and have demanded that in consideration of the respect which they owed him as his children, they should do what he here inculcates.”

 Ft95 “Pour entrer dedans leurs cœurs, et es mouuoir leurs affections;”— “For entering into their hearts, and moving their affections.”

 Ft96 “Ne doit faire difficulte de se transformer selon qu’il cognoistra que ce sera le proufit de l’Eglise;”— “Should have no hesitation in transforming himself according as he may perceive that this will be for the advantage of the Church.”

 Ft97 “Sans pouuoir estre arrestee;”— “Without being capable of being arrested.”

 Ft98 Kenodo>xoi persons whose object is to acquire power, and who, if they see others superior to themselves, are offended. (<480526>Galatians 5:26.) This kenodoxi>a vain-glory, produces contentions of all kinds; and it produces this evil besides, that persons who have gone wrong, and who might have been restored to truth and virtue by humble, friendly admonition, are often, by the interference of vain-glorious, ostentatious instructors, confirmed in error and vice.”— Storr. See Biblical Cabinet, vol. 40:p. 132, note. — Ed..

 ft99 “Est le sufflet qui allume toutes contentions;”— “Is the bellows that kindles up all strifes.”

 Ft100 “Comme quelqu’vn a dit anciennement;”— “As some one has said anciently.”

 Ft101“Pourceque l’imitation d’ iceluy est la regle de bien viure;”— “Because imitation of him is the rule of right living.”

 Ft102 “Car tout ainsi qu’vn homme est cognu quand on contemple la forme de son visage et sa personne, aussi la maieste, qui reluit en Dieu, est la forme ou figure d’iceluy;”— “For just as a man is known, when we mark the form of his appearance and his person, so the majesty, which shines forth in God, is his form or figure.”

 Ft103 “Le manteau royal;”— “His royal mantle.”

 Ft104 “La garde a l’entour;”— “The guard in attendance.”

 Ft105 “Comme s’ils ne faisoyent rien a ce propos-la;”— “As if they had no bearing on that point.”

 Ft106 “C’est à dire d’vne mesme substance auec le Pere;”— “That is to say, of the same substance as the Father.”

 Ft107 See Calvin’s Institutes, vol. 2:13-15.

 Ft108 “Pour amplifier et exaggerer la chose;”— “For the sake of amplifying and enhancing the thing.”

 Ft109 Virg. Ĉn. 2:557, 558.

 Ft110 “Et de cela il s’en ensuit, que c’est vn nom ou dignite propre a Dieu seul;”—”And from this it follows, that it is a name or dignity that belongs to God alone.

 Ft111 “Comme s’il estoit deduit du nom Jehouah, lequel les Juifs par superstition disent qu’il n’est licite de proferer;”— “As if it were derived from the name Jehovah, which the Jews superstitiously say that it is not lawful to utter.”

 Ft112 “En ces subtilitez vaines et frivoles;”—”In these empty and frivolous subtleties.”

 Ft113“Duquel toute la vertu consistast au son et en la prononciation;”—”The whole virtue of which consisted in the sound and the pronunciation.”

 ft114Vn signe et ceremonie externe;”—”An outward sign and rite.”

 Ft115“Qui ne voit qu’ils sont plus qu’ enfans en telles subtilitez friuoles et niaiseries qu’ils affectent?”—”Who does not see that they are worse than children in such frivolous subtleties and fooleries which they affect?”

 ft116“Maintenant donc qu’il est loin d’eux, et qu’il ne les pent plus admonester en presence;”—”Now, therefore, when he is at a distance from them, and can no longer admonish them when present.”

 Ft117 See Institutes, vol. 1:pp. 350, 353.

 Ft118 “Aucuns exposent le mot Grec, bon propos et bon cœur, le rapportans aux hommes;”— “Some explain the Greek word as meaning, a good purpose and a good heart, making it refer to men.”

 Ft119 “Ingenieuse a cercher ses auantages, et quelques vaines excuses;”— “Ingenious in seeking its advantages, and some vain pretexts.”

 Ft120 “Cerche songneusement et implore;”— “Diligently seeks and implores.”

 Ft121 “Car celuy qui tremble, disent-ils;”— “For he that trembles, say they.”

 Ft122 “Deuenir paresseux et oisifs;”— “To become idle and indolent.”

 Ft123 “Mais apres nous auoir poussez et incitez par vne inspiration secrete et cachee, nous employe et exerce songneusement;”— “But, after having stimulated and incited us by a secret and hidden inspiration, he diligently employs and exercises us.”

 Ft124“Cerchant outre mesure son proufit et vtilite particuliere;”— “Seeking beyond measure his own particular profit and advantage.”

 Ft125 “Le vice qui est en plusieurs qu’ils sont pleins de complaints contre les autres;”— “The fault that is in very many — that they are full of complaints as to others.”

 Ft126 The term is used by Aristotle. See Arist. Virt. et. Vit. 7. 6. — Ed.

 ft127 Our Author most probably refers to what he had stated when commenting on <460108>1 Corinthians 1:8. See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 1:pp. 58, 59. — Ed.

 ft128 “Mesles auec les infideles et meschans;”— “Mingled with the unbelieving and the wicked.”

 Ft129 “Et lors mesme que S. Paul escriuoit ceci;”— “And even at the time that St. Paul wrote this.”

 Ft130 “De la generation peruerse et maudite;”— “Of the perverse and accursed generation.”

 Ft131“Soustenus ou portez d’elle;”— “Sustained or carried by it.”

 Ft132“Leur turpitude et vilenie;”— “Their disgrace and villany.”

 Ft133“Telles conquestes et marques de triomphe;”— “Such conquests and tokens of triumph.”The term tropaea made use of by our Author, (corresponding to the Greek term pro>paia,) properly signifies, monuments of the enemy’s defeat, (proph>.) — Ed.

 ft134 “Tant plus qu’il y aura de faits cheualeureux, que le triomphe aussi n’en  soit d’autant plus magnifique et honorable;”— “The more there are of illustrious deeds, the triumph also will be so much the more magnificent and honorable.”

 Ft135 See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 1.

 Ft136 Paul’s statement here is interpreted by Dr. John Brown as equivalent to the following : — “If my life be poured out as a libation over your conversion to Christ, ‘ I joy and rejoice with you all.’ It could not be better sacrificed than in the cause of his glory and your salvation.”— Brown’s Discourses and Sayings of our Lord illustrated, vol. 3 p. 379. — Ed.

 ft137 “Pour tuer les bestes qu’on doit sacrifier;”— “For killing the animals that ought to be sacrificed.”

 Ft138 See Liv. 50:1:c. 31, ad fin.Ed.

 ft139 “Pour luy offrir en sacrifice les ames des fideles;”— “To offer to him in sacrifice the souls of the believers.”

 Ft140“Les enflambe a mourir constamment, et receuoir la mort d’vn cœur magnanime;”— “Enkindles them to die with firmness, and meet death with magnanimity.”

 Ft141“Que sa mort ne trouble et estonne les Philippians;”— “That his death may not distress and alarm the Philippians.”

 Ft142 “En ces mots, au Seigneur Jesus, il faut noter la condition;”— “In these words, in the Lord Jesus, we must notice the condition.”

 Ft143 “Sans estre en plus grande reputation;”— “Without being in very great reputation.”

 Ft144 “En sorte que tu to contentes du lieu qui t’est ordonné, et que t’employes a ta charge;”— “So as to content yourself with the place that is appointed for you, and employ yourself in your own department.”

 Ft145 See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 1

 ft146 “Car il y en auoit d’autres qui auoyent plus grand soin de l’Eglise de Dieu, que d’eux-mesmes, comme Epaphrodite;”— “For there were others of them that had greater concern as to the Church of God, than as to themselves, such as Epaphroditus.”

 Ft147 “Qu’il y auoit si peu de gens sages et qui eussent vn cœur entier a nostre Seigneur;”— “That there were so few persons that were wise, and had devotedness of heart to our Lord.”

 Ft148 “De batailler sous l’enseigne de Christ;”— “To fight under Christ’s banner.”

 Ft149 “S. Paul pouuoit se vanter plus que pas on des autres, que sa condition estoit semblable a celle d’vn gendarme;”— “St. Paul might boast more than any other that his condition resembled that of a soldier.”

 Ft150 “Pour tous prescheurs de l’euangile;”— “For all preachers of the gospel.”

 Ft151 “Ambassade pour administrer a Sainct Paul en sa necessite;”— “An ambassador to minister to St. Paul in his necessity.”

 Ft152 “Pour l’amour de luy;”— “From love to him.”

 Ft153 “Par laquelle nous soyons parfaitement conioints auec le Fils de Dieu;”— “By which we are perfectly united with the Son of God.”

 ft154 Calvin seems to refer here to what he had said when commenting on <500121>Philippians 1:21. — Ed.

 ft155 Calvin, in the French version, makes reference to what he has said on the subject in the Institutes. See Institutes, vol. 2:p. 281. — Ed.

 ft156 “Pour l’amour de Christ;”— “From love to Christ.”

 Ft157 “Ne nous laissons point vaincre par l’infirmite de nostre chair;”— “Do not allow ourselves to be overcome by the infirmity of our flesh.”

 Ft158 “Mesme ie ne nie pas que sainct Paul (comme il estoit homme) ne se trouué surprins de quelque exces vicieux en sa douleur;”— “Nay more, I do not deny that St. Paul (inasmuch as he was a man) might find himself overtaken with some faulty excess in his grief.”

 Ft159 “Soit establie et demeure entiere;”— “Be established, and remain entire.”

 Ft160 “Vn accomplissement, ou moyen de suppleer ce qui defailloit de leur seruice;”— “A filling up, or a means of supplying what was defective in their service.”

 Ft161 “Faisoit en cest endroit ce qu’ils deuoyent faire;”— “Did in this matter what they ought to have done

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 ft162 “De nous troubler et effaroucher;”- — “To trouble and frighten us.”

 Ft163 “Fascheux et ennuyeux;”- — “Disagreeable and irksome.”

 Ft164 “Il les rembarre rudement et auec authoritc;"--”He baffles them sternly and with authority."

 Ft165 “Pource qu’ils auoyent seulement fait leurs efforts, et essaye de diuer-tir les Philippiens, et ne les auoyent gaignez et abbatus;"--”As they had merely employed their efforts, and had attempted to turn aside the Philippians, and had not prevailed over them and subdued them."

 Ft166 “Pour autant qu’ils portoyent enuie auec autres, ou les mordoyent et detractoyent d’eux;"--”On the ground of their bearing envy to others, and biting and calumniating them."

 Ft167 “Car il yen a plusieurs qui se tourmentent tant et plus, et se meslent de beaucoup de choses;"--”For there are many that torture themselves on this occasion and on that, and intermeddle with many things.

 Ft168 “Comme anciennement a Rome ce crier public; — “As anciently at Rome that public crier."

 ft169The Concision--that is, those who rend and divide the Church. Compare <451617>Romans 16:17, 18. They gloried in being the peritomh< (the circumcision,) which name and character St. Paul will not here allow them, but claims it for Christians in the next words, and calls them the katatomh< or concision, expressing his contempt of their pretences, and censure of their practices.”-Pierce.--Ed.

 ft170 “En ses organes et instrumens c’est a dire ses seruiteurs par lesquels il a parle;"--”In his organs and instruments, that is to say, his servants, by whom he has spoken.”

 ft171 “Circoncis deuement et selon l’ordonnance et les obseruations de la loy;”—”Circumcised duly and according to the appointment and the observances of the law.”

 Ft172 “II note la tribu et le chef de la lignee de laquelle il estoit descendu; “He names the tribe and the head of the line from which he was descended.”

 Ft173 See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 2

 ft174 “Que les Pharisiens ont este ainsi nommez, pource qu’ils estoyent separez d’auec les autres, comme estans saincts; “That the Pharisees were so called, because they were separated from others, as being holy.”

 Ft175 See Calvin On the Corinthians, vol. 2:

 ft176 The reader will find the etymology of the term Pharisees, discussed at considerable length in the Harmony vol. 1 — Ed.

 ft177 The meaning is, that in interpreting Scripture, they did not go beyond the bare letter.— Ed.

 ft178 See Harmony, vol. 1 and vol. 3

 ft179 “Exercez en l’Ecriture;” — “Exercised in Scripture.”

 ft180 “Et que ie les retrouue en iceluy, on, soye trouue en iceluy;”—“And that I may find them in him, or, be found in him.”

 f181 “Par son excellence et hautesso;”— “By its excellence and loftiness.”

 f182Pierce adduces the two following instances of the same form of expression as made use of among the Romans—Plautus says, (Trucul. Act 2:sc 7:ver.5,) when speaking of one that was chargeable with prodigality-”Qui bona sua pro stercore habet, foras jubet ferri,”(“who counts his goods but dung, and orders them to be carried out of the house.”) Thus, also, Apuleius, (Florid, c. 14,) speaks of Crates, when he turned Cynic: “Rem familiarem a.bjicit velut onus sterootis, magis labori quant usui;”—(“He casts away his goods as a heap of dung, that was more troublesome than useful.”)—Ed.

 ft183 Such is the etymology given by Suidas, to< toi~v kusi< ballo>menon — “what is thrown to dogs.”-Ed.

 ft184 “Mais apres que les richesses sont lettees en la mer, il est trouue, pource qu’il commence a avoir esperance d’eschapper, d’autant que le vaisseau est allege;”— “But after his riches have been thrown into the sea, he is found, inasmuch as he begins to have hope of escaping, because the vessel has been lightened.”

 Ft185 “Le prouerbe ancien;”— “The ancient proverb.”

 Ft186 “De l’efficace ou puissance;”—-”Of the efficacy or power.”

 ft187 Afin de nous resueiller et aiguiser a nous y addonner de tant plus grande affection;”—”That it may arouse and stimulate us to devote ourselves to it with so much greater zeal.”

 Ft188Comme, ou., pour laquelle cause;”—”As, or, for which cause.”

 ft189 The partici ple referred to is ejpekteino>menov, which, as is remarked by Dr. Bloomfield, “is highly appropriate to the racer, whether on foot, or on horseback, or in the chariot; since the racer stretches his head and hands forward in anxiety to reach the goal.”— Ed.

 ft190 A proverbial expression, founded on the circumstance that in certain games at Athens the runners had to carry a lamp, or burning torch, in such a way that it should not go out, and, on any one of the competitors giving up the contest, he delivered up the lamp, or torch, to his successor, See Auct. ad Herenn. 1. 4, c. 46; Lucret. I. 2, 5:77.—Ed.

 ft191 The rendering of the Vulgate (revelavit) is followed in the Rheims version—(1582)—hath revealed.—Ed..

 ft192 The rendering of Erasmus is as follows:— “Eadem incedamus regula, ut simus concordes;”— “Let us walk by the same rule, that we may be of the same mind.”The words inserted in the common text kano>ni to< aujto< fronei~n rule—mind the same thing,) are omitted, as is noticed by Granville Penn, in the Vat. and Alex. MSS., the Copt. and Ethiop. versions, and by Hilary and Augustine.—Ed.

 ft193 “Qui ont leurs affections enracines en la terre;”— “Who have their affections rooted in the earth.”

 ft194 “Perdue et ruinee;”—”Destroyed and ruined.”

 Ft195Ne regardans qu’a eux-mesmes et a leur proufit, font perdre toutela faueur et la force du ministere;”— “Looking merely to themselves and their own advantage, undermine all the influence and power of the ministry.”

 Ft196 Such is Calvin’s rendering of the passage referred to. See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 2—Ed.

 ft197 “Hardiment et d’vne grande asseurance;”— “Boldly, and with great confidence.”

 Ft198 “Pour esteindre et appaiser le feu des nutres;”— “For the sake of mitigating and allaying the fire of others.” Calvin’s meaning appears to be, that they made it their endeavor to screen themselves as far as possible from the fiery rage of those around them.—Ed.

 ft199 Toutes leurs inuentions et facons de faire;”— “All their contrivances and modes of acting.”

 Ft200 “Que nous soyons diuisez et separez d’auec eux;”— “That we be divided and separated from them.”

 ft201 Politiam—-a term corresponding to that employed in the original,.—Ed.

 ft202 “Que nous soyons occupez et enueloppez en terre;”— “That we should be occupied and entangled with the earth.”

 Ft203 Sursum corda. Our Author most probably alludes to the circumstance, that this expression was wont to be made use of among Christians in ancient times, when the ordinance of the supper was about to be administered. See Calvin’s Institutes, vol. 3, p. 440 — Ed.

 ft204 “De sa Gloire;”— “Of his glory.”

 Ft205 “Qu’il leur auoit donne en garde;”— “What he had given to them to keep.”

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 ft206Et les appelant par noms amiables et gracieux, il tasche de gaigner leurs coeurs;”— “And calling them by lovely and kind names, he endeavors to gain their hearts.”

 Ft207 “Estant ioyeux de les veoir perseuerer en la foy, a laquelle ils auoyent este amenez par son moyen;”— “Being delighted to see them persevere in the faith, to which they had been brought through his instrumentality.”

 Ft208 Calvin seems to refer here to what he had said when commenting on <504716>Philippians 2:16. See p. 72.—Ed.

 ft209 “1l les appelle ses compagnes de guerre, d’autant qu’elles ont batail1e auec luy en l’euangile;”— “He calls them his companions in war, inasmuch as they had struggled hard with him in the gospel.”

 Ft210 “C’estoit une chose grandement requise et necessaire qu’elles fussent d’un consentement;”— “It was a thing greatly requisite and necessary that they should be in a state of agreement.”

 ft211 “Je le laisse a disputer aux autres;”—”I leave it to others to dispute as to this.”

 Ft212 “Comme ainsi soit qu’on metre en auant ie ne scay quels faux escrits sous le nom d’Eusebe;”— “As they set forth I know not what spurious writings under the name of Eusebius.”

 Ft213 “Et adioustez a son histoire;”— “And added to his history.”

 Ft214 “Ils ne meritent point enuers les lecteurs de bon iugement, qu’on y adiouste grande foy;”— “They do not deserve, as to readers of good judgment, that much credit should be attached to them.”

 Ft215 See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 2

 ft216 See Calvin on the Corinthians, vol. 1

 Ft217 It is defined by Wahl, in his Clavis N. T. Philologica, as follows.Una manaum admoveo, i.e. opitulor,opem fero, iuvo; (I lend a helping hand; that is, I assist, I bring assistancae, I aid.) — Ed.

 Ft218 See Calvin on the Psalms, vol. 3

 ft219 “Les agneux des boucs;” — “The lambs from the goats.”

 Ft220 Christ vray Pastuer;” — “Christ the true Shepherd.”

 Ft221 “Il se pouuoit faire que les Philippiens, estans vaincus de tristesse ou impatience, venissent a perdre courage;”— “It might be, that the Philippians, being overcome by grief or impatience, might come to lose heart.”

 Ft222 “Non obstant les troubles et les fascheries qu’ils voyoyent deuant leurs yeux;”— “Notwithstanding the troubles and annoyances that they saw before their eyes.”

 Ft223 “Qui plus que tous les autres pouuoit auoir matiere de se contrister;—”Who might more than all others have had occasion to indulge sorrow.””

 Ft224 Ont le Seigneur pour eux;””Have the Lord for them.”

 Ft225 “Que vostre ioye se continue en iceluy iusques a la fin;”— “That your joy may maintain itself in him until the end.”

 ft226 “En douceur et patience;” — “With sweetness and patience.”

 Ft227 “TranquilIus animus meus, qui aequi boni facit omnia.” Calvin here gives the sense, but not the.precise words, of Cicero, which are as follows: “Tranquillissimus autem animus meus, qui totm istuc aequi boni facit;”— “My mind, however, is most tranquil, which takes all that in good part.”See Cic. Art.7,7.  — Ed.

 ft228 “D’autant plus que nous-nous monstrons gracieux et debonnaires;” — “The more that we show ourselves agreeable and gentle.”

 Ft229 “Afin qu’ils ne s’esleuent point a l’encontre de nous a leur plaisir et sans resistance;”—“That they may not rise up against us at their pleasure, and without resistance.”

 Ft230 “Que nous sommes tout incontinent et pour vn rien troublez et esmeus;”— “That we are all at once and for nothing troubled and moved.”

 Ft231 “Ni au plaisir desborde des meschans;”— “Nor to the unbridled inclinationof the wicked.”

 ft232 “Car nous ne sommes de fer ni d’acier (comme on dit) ne si insensibles;” — “For we are not of iron nor steel, as they say, nor so insensible.”

 Ft233 “Comme a vne franchise;”— “As to a privilege.”

 Ft234 “Autrement qu’ils ne doyuent;”— “Otherwise than they ought.”

 Ft235 “La recognoissance des benefices de Dieu;”— “Gratitude for God’s benefits.”

 Ft236 “De ces basses;”— “Of these low things.”

 Ft237 “N’est point en branle pour chanceler selon les changemens diuers du monde;”— “Is not in suspense so as to turn about according to the various shiftings of the world.”

 Ft238 The word means that which has dignity connected with it. Hence and are joined together by Aristotle, as quoted by Wetstein, and in 2 Macc. 8:15.”—Storr. See Biblical Cabinet, vol. 40:p. 178, note. — Ed.

 ft239 “The Clermont copy reads here , If there be any praise of knowledge. Instead of the Valesian readings have ,with which the Vulg. Latin, agrees, reading, If there be any praise of discipline, (disciplinae,) as does also the Ethiopic, and two ancient Commentators mentioned by Dr. Mills.”—Pierce.—Ed.

 ft240 “Bien souuent on loue;”— “Very frequently they praise.”

 Ft241 Like the Latin terms cogitare, meditari, the Greek signifies to contemplate a thing, with the view of.finding means for effecting it.... According to this view, in the passage before us, will be equivalent to ‘think to do these things,’— ‘give diligence to do them.’”—Storr. See Biblical Cabinet, vol. 40:p. 180..Note.— Ed.

 ft242 “C’eust este vne chose dishonneste aux Philippiens de delaisser la sainte doctrine et instruction;”— “It would have been a dishonorable thing for the Philipplans to abandon the holy doctrine and instruction.”

 Ft243 ”En vn prescheur;”— “In a preacher.”

 F244 Afin qu’ils ne se repentent point de luy auoir assiste;” — “That they may not regret their having assisted him.”

 F245 “A reprendre vigueur et fleurir;” — “To recover strength and flourish.”

 FT246 Il fait yci vne diuision, disant qu’il est tellement dispose en son coeur qu’il scait se cornporter et en prosperite et en adversite;”— “He makes a distinction here, saying that he is prepared in his mind in such a manner, that he knows how to conduct himself both in prosperity and in adversity.”

 FT247 “De choses grandes et excellentes;”— “Of things great and excellent.”

 FT248 “Qu’il fust abbattu, et eust perdu courage estant en indigence;”—“That he had been overcome, and had lost heart, being in poverty.”

 ft249Il y auoit quelque telle condition et conuenance entre Sainct Paul et les Eglises;”— “There was some such condition and correspondence between St. Paul and the Churches.”

 ft250 Pour les induire a continuer;”— “To induce them to hold on.”

 Ft251 “Comme si eux deussent tenir la place de tous, et faire pour les autres;”— “As if they ought to hold the place of all, and to act in the room of others.”

 Ft252 Calvin evidently refers to the word (account,) which the Apostle had made use of in the fifteenth verse, in the phrase (in the matter of giving and receiving.) It is noticed by Beza, that the Rabbins make use of a corresponding phrase (mattan umassa)—giving and taking.—Ed.

 ft253 “Or mauditc soit nostre paresse;”— “But accursed be our indolence.”

 Ft254 “Les consumons prodigalement et meschamment en choses infames et abominables;”— “We lay them out lavishly and wickedly on things infamous and abominable.”

 Ft255 “Les vns dependent tout leur bien en toutes de dissolutions, les autres en gouermandise et yurognerie, les autres en brauetes excessiues, les autres a bastir des palais somptueux;”— “Some lay out all their wealth on all kinds of luxuries, others on eating and drinking, others superfluous elegance of dress, others in building sumptuous palaces.”

 ft256 “Comme si c’estoit vn souhait que sainct Paul feist;”— “As if it were a wish that St. Paul expressed.”

 Ft257 “La liberalitc de laquelle les Philippiens auoyent vse enuers sainct Paul;”— “The liberality which the Philipilans had exercised towards St. Paul.”

 Ft258 “Les compagnons,qui demeuroyent auec luy;”— “His associates who lived with him.”

 Ft259 “Some imagine,”says Dr. A. Clarke, “that Seneca, the preceptor of Nero, and the poet Lucan, were converted by St. Paul; and there are still extant, and in a MS. now before me, letters which profess to have passed between Paul and Seneca; but they are worthy of neither. They have been printed in some editions of Seneca’s works.” —Ed.


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