Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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Philippians 4

Supplemental Commentary:

[4, 1.  See Commentary on the last section of the previous chapter.]

Conclusion  4, 2-23

4, 2-3:  Concord.    2.  Evodia and Syntyche, two women who had helped Paul in the work of the gospel, have caused dissensions in the church.  He exhorts them to have one mind and one heart as members of Christ, engaged in the work of God.  Some conjecture they were deaconesses.    3.  My loyal comrade: some one well known to them.  It may have been a Christian of Philippi named Synzyge (comrade) or Epaphroditus, the bearer of the letter.  Clement: so common a name that most commentators do not attempt to identify him.  Jerome considers him to be Pope Clement who wrote a letter to the Corinthians toward the end of the first century.  Whose names are in the book of life: as belonging to God, not that they can be certain of their salvation.  Sin can blot out their names from the book.

4, 4-9:  Peace and Joy in the Lord.    4.  Rejoice in the Lord: the keynote of the letter.  This delight, spiritual and independent of material conditions, shows itself in St. Paul writing from prison, an ambassador in chains.    5.  The Lord is near: the thought of Christ's coming to reward them gives strength and adds substance to their joy.  Paul often speaks of the General Judgment as if it were at hand, in order that they may always be ready.    6 f.  A peace which the world cannot give will stand sentinel over the fortress of their hearts.    9.  By word and much more by example St. Paul has taught them.

4, 10-20:  Their Gift.    10.  Has revived: they had helped him with alms, then for a time no assistance came.  At last through Epaphroditus a generous gift reached him.  Lacked opportunity: St. Paul hastens to excuse the absence of gifts.  There is no tone of reprehension.  The cause which prevented their sending gifts is unknown.    11 f.  Grateful for their charity, he still maintains his apostolic independence.  As preaching Christ, he welcomes all situations, becomes all things to all men.    13.  Not through Stoic self-sufficiency, but from Christ comes his power.    15.  No church . . . but you: allowing them to assist him by money gifts constituted an exception to St. Paul's custom of supporting himself by manual labor.  Partnership in . . . giving and receiving: or an account of payments and receipts.  The Philippians have paid by their alms, St. Paul acknowledges the receipt of the money.  Chrysostom understood the phrase of an exchange: the faithful give material goods for the support of their Apostle who repays them with spiritual gifts, preaching, etc.

17.  Accumulating to your account: in reality they are giving to God who rewards them in good measure at high interest.    18 f.  God will repay them from His boundless treasure.    20.  God inspired the Philippians to make this gift, thus showing His love for them and for the Apostle, and strengthening the love between Paul and his converts.  Realizing this the saint breaks forth into praise of Him who orders all things sweetly.

4, 21-23:  Farewell.    22.  Caesar's household: the term, although it can extend to people not living at Rome, would primarily designate the Roman palace and as such adds support to the tradition that this letter was written at Rome.

John J. Collins, S.J.

Confraternity Bible:

1 So then, my brethren, beloved and longed for, my joy and my crown, stand fast thus in the Lord, beloved.

Concord  2 In entreat Evodia and I exhort Syntyche to be of one mind in the Lord.  3 And I beseech thee also, my loyal comrade, help them, for they have toiled with me in the gospel, as have Clement and the rest of my fellow-workers whose names are in the book of life.

Peace and Joy in the Lord  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.  5 Let your moderation be known to all men.  The Lord is near.  6 Have no anxiety, but in every prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God.  7 And may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 For the rest, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever honorable, whatever just, whatever holy, whatever lovable, whatever of good repute, if there be any virtue, if anything worthy of praise, think upon these things.  9 And what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, these things practise.  And the God of peace will be with you.

Their Gift  10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your concern for me has revived.  Indeed you were always concerned, but lacked opportunity.

11 Not that I speak because I was in want.  For I have learned to be self-sufficing in whatever circumstances I am.  12 I know how to live humbly and I know how to live in abundance (I have been schooled to every place and every condition), to be filled and to be hungry, to have abundance and to suffer want.  13 I can do all things in him who strengthens me.  14 Still, you have done well by sharing in my affliction.  15 But, Philippians, you yourselves also know that in the first days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church went into partnership with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you only.

16 For even in Thessalonica, you sent once and twice something for my need.  17 Not that I am eager for the gift, but I am eager for the profit accumulating to your account.  18 I have all and more than enough.  I am fully supplied now that I have received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a sweet odor, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.  19 But may my God supply your every need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  20 Now to our God and Father be glory for endless ages.  Amen.

Farewell  21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.  22* The brethren with me here greet you.  All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.  23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Amen.


22: Those of Caesar's household: not members of the imperial family or relatives of the emperor, but officials of the court, which would include freedmen and slaves.