Editor Comments


These notes can be read to provide background information to aid understanding of Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. They may be helpful either in sermon preparation or when reading Philippians for devotional purposes.


Several sources were consulted in creating these notes. The major sources are Andrew Womack’s study notes, John Wesley’s study notes (the only source included without editing), the English Standard Version (ESV) Study Notes, the notes to The Passion Translation, the various translations accessible on the website, Wuest Study Notes and more.


Introduction to Paul’s Letter to the Philippians


Joy and Glory from a prison cell. Most likely written from Rome around AD 60-62 by Paul when Timothy was visiting him. The Church at Philippi began because of a supernatural vision while Paul ministered at Troas (Acts 16: 8-10). He had had a night vision or dream about a Macedonian man pleading with Paul to come to Europe to preach. Paul thereafter preached in Europe at Philippi (named after Phillip the Great who had conquered the city and renamed it after himself) where Lydia responded to the gospel (Acts 16:14). It was in Philippi where Paul and Silas were arrested for preaching the gospel, beaten, thrown in jail’s dungeon, and sang praises to God at midnight (Acts 16:22-25). The Lord sent an earthquake that broke all the prisoners’ chains and opened their cell doors, but none escaped (Acts 16:26-28). The jailer was saved (Acts 16:30-33). The Philippian church supported Paul as his partner throughout his ministry. Paul had a mutually felt, close relationship with this church. 4:15-16.


The words joy and rejoicing occur 18 times in the book.


TPT: “Paul’s words point us toward heaven. He teaches us that our true life is not only in this world, but it is in the heavenly calling, the heavenly realm, and in our heavenly life in Christ – the heavenly Man. He left heaven to redeem us and reveal the heart of God to us – the heart of a servant.”


Major themes: 1) The gospel of Joy; 2) Christ’s leadership; 3) Christian conduct; 4) Christ’s Community and Identity.


Wesley. The city belonged to Thrace until BC 358 when Philip of Macedon captured it and changed its name. It was the place of the last battle between the Roman Republic and when the Emperors ruled. It sat on a great highway which carried commerce and thus was suitable for evangelism. The church was established by Paul there in AD 52.


Chapter 1.


Verse 1.


“Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi with the bishops and deacons.”


TPT: Timothy was Paul’s convert, coworker, and spiritual son. I Tim. 1:2.


Timothy was with Paul while he was incarcerated in Rome. Philippians 2:19.

Paul identifies himself as a slave of Jesus Christ (“doulos.”) Mature, Godly believers want to promote their Master. Are we slaves as Paul was?  Slavery to Christ is our “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1), but it is voluntary.

The Philippians were “saints” by virtue of being born again. Faith in Christ as Savior is essential for salvation; submission to Christ as Lord is essential for victory and true joy in life.

The word “bishop” comes from the Greek word “EPISKOPOS,” translated “overseers” in Acts 20:28. The word “deacon” (“DIAKONOS”) is taken from a compound Greek word “dia” and “kovis” that means to “kick up the dust.” It refers to a servant who is so swift to accomplish his service that he stirs up the dust of the street running to fulfil his duty.”

The KJV translates “deacon” elsewhere as “servant” or “servants” (Matthew 22:13, 23:11; Mark 9:35; John 2:5, and “minister” or “ministers” (Matthew 20:26; Mark 10:43; Romans 13:4.

Wesley. Servants — St. Paul, writing familiarly to the Philippians, does not style himself an apostle. And under the common title of servants, he tenderly and modestly joins with himself his son Timotheus, who had come to Philippi not long after St. Paul had received him, Acts 16:3,12

To all the saints — The apostolic letters were sent more directly to the saints, than to the pastors of them.

With the bishops and deacons — The former properly took care of the internal state, the latter, of the externals, of the church, 1 Timothy 3:2-8; although these were not wholly confined to the one, neither those to the other.

Verse 2.


“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”


Biblical Peace comes with salvation, by grace through faith. Romans 5:1. It comes from being justified with God. See also 2 Peter 1:2 for the multiplication of grace and peace.


We were incapable of living holy enough to please God before we were saved, and we are incapable of living holy enough to please God after we are saved (Hebrews 11:6). After salvation, we walk with God by faith (Colossians 2:6).


Verse 3.


“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”


The Greek word translated “remembrance” was translated “mention” in Romans 1:9, Ephesians 1:16, and Philemon 4. In each of those instances, Paul was speaking of praying for the people. See Philippians 1:4. The remembrances he refers to were times of prayer.


Verse 4.


“always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy.”


With joy — After the epistle to the Ephesians, wherein love reigns, follows this, wherein there is perpetual mention of joy. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy." And joy peculiarly enlivens prayer. The sum of the whole epistle is, I rejoice. Rejoice ye.


Verse 5.


“for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.”


The word for “fellowship” is koinonia, and it can mean “partnership,” or “participation.”

It is translated “fellowship” in 2 Corinthians 8:4, where it refers to giving financial gifts. In 2 Corinthians 9:13, it is translated “liberal distribution” referring to an offering. In Romans 15:26, it is translated “contributions.” These Christians supported Paul from the beginning and throughout his ministry. They were true partners.

Wesley: The sense is: I thank God for your fellowship with us in all the blessings of the gospel, which I have done from the first day of your receiving it until now.

Verse 6.

“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

“The day of Jesus Christ” is the Second Coming of Christ. Paul was confident that the salvation given to them through faith in Christ would be secure until Christ returned, and their physical bodies were changed into His image (Philippians 3:21).

ESV: “Paul is sure about God’s commitment to the Philippians. The foundation for spiritual growth is recognizing that it’s God who began a good work in you and will bring it to completion. Genuine spiritual progress is rooted in what God has done, is doing, and will do. His faithfulness ensures that He will be with us until Jesus returns. Believers can be sure and have confidence that the God who saved them will never let them go. He will cause them to inherit their eternal reward.”


TPT: Or good or worthwhile work. Paul uses language similar to Gen. 1:2. “When God created the heavens and the earth, He declared it to be good.” And now with the new creation life within us, God again sees our growth in grace as something very good.

TPT: “will complete it” could be translated “He will see to it that you remain faithful.” Until the day of Jesus Christ is “the day of His unveiling or appearing.”

Wesley: Being persuaded — That he who having justified, hath begun to sanctify you, will carry on this work, till it issues in glory.

Verse 7.

“Just as it is right for me to think this of you all because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.”

Paul was confident that the good work begun in the Philippian believers would continue, because they were partakers of the same grace that Paul partook of. Paul personally knew the strength of God’s grace and knew that grace would sustain the Philippians. They knew the same grace.

Wesley: As it is right for me to think this of you all — Why? He does not say, "Because of an eternal decree;" or, "Because a saint must persevere;" but, because I have you in my heart, who were all partakers of my grace - That is, because ye were all (for which I have you in my heart, I bear you the most grateful and tender affection) partakers of my grace - That is, sharers in the afflictions which God vouchsafed me as a grace or favor, Philippians 1:29,30; both in my bonds, and when I was called forth to answer for myself, and to confirm the gospel. It is not improbable that, after they had endured that great trial of affliction, God had sealed them unto full victory, of which the apostle had a prophetic sight.

Verse 8.

“For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.”

Wesley: In Paul, not Paul lives, but Jesus Christ. Therefore, he longs for them with the bowels, the tenderness, not of Paul, but of Jesus Christ.

Verse 9.

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.”

Our love for God increases proportionally to how much we know God’s love for us.

As Peter so aptly put it in 2 Peter 1:3, “his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him.” Even love is based on knowledge. The knowledge spoken of is spiritual understanding of God’s love.

TPT: The Greek word for “insight (discernment)” was used many times in the Septuagint referring to “practical understanding linked to life.” It implies walking out the truth that insight reveals. It could also be translated “experience” or “to experience the reality of something and apply it to life.”

Wesley: And this I pray, that your love — Which they had already shown.

May abound yet more and more — The fire which burned in the apostle never says, It is enough.

In knowledge and in all spiritual sense — Which is the ground of all spiritual knowledge. We must be inwardly sensible of divine peace, joy, love; otherwise, we cannot know what they are.

Verse 10.

“that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.”

TPT: The Greek word for “approve” means to “examine, to discern, or approve after testing. It comes from a Greek word which means “acceptance” or “pleasing.” So, discernment becomes the path to finding what God approves not simply what God forbids.

The Greek word translated “excellent” is translated “better” three times (Matthew 6:26, 12:12; and Luke 12:24) and “are of more value” twice (Matthew 10:31 and Luke 12:7). So, part of approving things that are excellent refers to discerning “better” things.

Paul prayed in verse 9 that the Philippians’ understanding of God’s love would abound. That would enable them to be genuine, sincere, and without offense till the day of Christ.

The Greek word “HEILIKRINES,” translated “sincere,” means “judged by sunlight,” or “sun tested.” So, Paul was praying that we be “sun tested” with no hidden flaws, but that we are pure in our hearts.

All of the things listed in Philippians 1:10-11 are the results of having our love abound through knowledge and judgment (Philippians 1:9). We receive God’s love through faith at salvation. Our experience of God’s love increases through knowledge and judgment. This leads to better discernment of what’s right and wrong and produces sincerity (pureness) that results in us walking without offense. If these things are working in us, then the fruits of righteousness follow, causing glory and praise to God (Philippians 1:11).

Wesley: That ye may try — By that spiritual sense.

The things that are excellent — Not only good, but the very best; the superior excellence of which is hardly discerned, but by the adult Christian. That ye may be inwardly sincere - Having a single eye to the very best things, and a pure heart. And outwardly without offence - Holy, unblameable in all things.

Verse 11.

“being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

All the fruits of righteousness come from God’s love. This goes back to our love abounding more and more through knowledge and judgment (Philippians 1:9). When that happens, our recognition of what is excellent changes, hypocrisy leaves, and sin leaves too (Philippians 1:10). This produces righteous fruit that glorifies God.

TPT. Fruits of Righteousness. “or the fruit that is righteousness.”


Wesley: Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God — Here are three properties of that sincerity which is acceptable to God: 1. It must bear fruits, the fruits of righteousness, all inward and outward holiness, all good tempers, words, and works; and that so abundantly, that we may be filled with them2. The branch and the fruits must derive both their virtue and their very being from the all - supporting, all - supplying root, Jesus Christ3. As all these flow from the grace of Christ, so they must issue in the glory and praise of God.


Verse 12.


“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.”


All those who live godly shall suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

In this and the next few verses, the Paul gives an example of a person who has died to himself and is living only for Jesus - the One who died for him.

Paul was comforting those not in prison. His imprisonment was worth it because it advanced the kingdom of God. Paul’s heart was so fixed on God that any price he paid, even imprisonment or death, was justified if it brought glory to God.


Wesley: The things concerning me — My sufferings. Have fallen out rather to the furtherance, rather than, as you feared, the hinderance, of the gospel.


Verse 13.


“so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ.”


Because Paul was imprisoned, everyone in Caesar’s court, the elite Roman guards and government officials, heard the Gospel. Paul was very out- spoken with his faith. The phrase “all other places” reveals that the general public was also aware of Paul and heard the gospel also.

TPT. Paul was chained in Christ because He loved Christ. Love help Paul captive, not the chains.

Wesley: My bonds in Christ — Endured for his sake.

Have been made manifest — Much taken notice of.

In the whole palace — Of the Roman emperor.

Verse 14.

“and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

Paul’s uncompromising stand in presenting the Gospel even in prison encouraged other believers to boldly preach. Courage inspires courage.

Wesley: And many — Who were before afraid.

Trusting in the Lord through my bonds — When they observed my constancy, and safety notwithstanding, are more bold.

Verse 15.

“Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill.”

Some people ministered out of a jealous and quarrelsome spirit–while others ministered from their love for Jesus. Whether the Word is preached from good motives or bad, the Word is what “works”–not the messenger.

TPT. “and some from love”

Wesley: Envying Paul’s success and striving to hurt him thereby.

Verse 16.

“The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains.”

How can a person motivated by contention and insincerity preach Christ? How could that add affliction to Paul’s imprisonment? This may refer to people who heard Paul’s claims about Jesus being raised from the dead and disbelieved. As they mockingly repeated the story to others, the Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was spreading.

Wesley: Not sincerely – not from a real desire to glorify God. Supposing – thought they were disappointed – to add to Paul’s bonds by enraging the Romans against him.

Verse 17.

“but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel.”

Many believers were inspired by Paul’s faithfulness in suffering and became bolder. Paul’s love for Jesus caused their love for Jesus to grow.

Wesley: But the others out of love — To Christ and me.

Knowing — Not barely, supposing.

That I am set — Literally, I lie; yet still going forward in his work. He remained at Rome as an ambassador in a place where he is employed on an important embassy.

Verse 18.

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

Paul didn’t care if those who preached Jesus were mocking him (Paul) or were inspired by him. So long as Jesus was glorified. He was focused of the advancement of the kingdom. Unbelievers had to hear about Jesus in order to believe in Him. They had to hear what Jesus accomplished (Romans 10:17) in His death and resurrection.

Wesley: In pretense — Under color of propagating the gospel.

In truth — With a real design so to do.

Verse 19.

“For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

Even persecution we receive works to our good. In eternity, Jesus will more than compensate us for injustice or injury we sustained because of our faithfulness to Him (Romans 8:17-18).

The word “salvation” is translated from the Greek word “SOTERIA,” which means “rescue or safety,” either physical or spiritual salvation. Some feel that Paul was predicting his release from jail. Yet, in the next verse (still the same sentence), Paul stated he didn’t know if the outcome would be life or death. Therefore, Paul must have been speaking of his eternal salvation in this verse.

See Job 13: 13-18; Ro.5: 4-5.

this shall turn to my salvation — Shall procure me a higher degree of glory.

Through your prayer — Obtaining for me a larger supply of the Spirit.

Verse 20.

“according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”

TPT. See Ro. 1:16; 2 Cor. 10:8; I Peter 4:16; I Jo. 2:28. “Earnest” can be translated “with deep and intense yearning” or the concentrated desire that abandons all other interests with outstretched hands in expectation.” Ro. 8:19 is the only other NT use of the word.

Paul’s sole desire was for Jesus to be glorified; if his death would glorify God, so be it.

Just as in Proverbs 10:28 and 11:7, Paul used the word “expectation” to describe hope.

We must learn to trust God in the small things, so that we are able to trust Him in the big things. When David fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17), everyone mocked him because he believed he could win. In 1 Samuel 17:34-37, David revealed that he had depended on God before for victory against huge odds. Before facing Goliath, he had faced a lion and a bear with bare hands. He knew he could defeat Goliath with God’s help.

Paul placed his faith in God many times before. Faith must be developed, much like a muscle. Paul’s commitment was the same whether the results were life or death. Paul had died to himself.

Wesley: As always — Since my call to the apostleship.

In my body — however it may be disposed of. How that might be, he did not yet know. For the apostles did not know all things; particularly in things pertaining to themselves, they had room to exercise faith and patience.

Verse 21.

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

If our physical lives on earth continue, our focus is Christ and what He has done for us. And if our earthly life ends, our heavenly life begins. Our heavenly glories are infinitely greater than any earthly benefit. (Romans 8:18).

Failing to understand this truth is the root of fear. If we have died to our self-life and Christ lives through us completely, we have no fear. If we live, Christ will love us and use us. If we die, it will only get better. We can’t lose for winning.

True life is found in Christ only. (John 14:6; 1 John 1:1-2, 5:12, and 20). God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son (1 John 5:11).

The word “gain” means to advance or progress. Those who are not born again go directly into eternal torment, but for those who are born again, death is the doorway that brings them into God’s presence. Death is promotion for the saint. Death is not the end; it is the beginning for those who put their faith in Christ.

TPT: “My true life is the Anointed One and dying means gaining more of Him.”

Wesley: To know, love, and follow Jesus Christ, is my life, my glory, my joy.


Verse 22.

“But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.”

NIV: “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.”

Wesley: This is the fruit of my living longer, that I can labor more. Glorious labor! desirable fruit! In this view, long life is indeed a blessing.

And what I should choose I know not — That is, if it were left to my choice.

Verse 23.

“For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

Paul was conflicted because he longed to be with Christ but needed to remain in the body for the sake of others.

The things prepared for us (John 14:2-3) are so wonderful that we can’t comprehend them (1 John 3:1). We value our eternal lives more and our temporal lives less.

Wesley: And to be with Christ — In a nearer and fuller union. It is better to depart; it is far better to be with Christ.

Verse 24.

“Nevertheless, to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”

Paul longed to be with Christ, yet he was willing to remain alive for the sake of others. Most people cling to this physical life for fear of death or for selfish reasons. Paul clinged to it for unselfish reasons. Only when people lose their lives (die to self and live for Christ and others) do they find true life (Matthew 10:39).

Verse 25.

“And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith.”

Paul seemed confident that living, rather than his death, would bring more glory to the Lord; therefore, he felt he would be released.

ESV. Paul is not musing about his own situation here; rather, he is teaching the Philippians about a service-oriented life looks like.

Wesley:  I know — By a prophetic notice given him while he was writing this. That I shall continue some time longer with you - And doubtless he did see them after this confinement.

Verse 26.

“that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

The Philippians would rejoice to see Paul again because of their mutual love for one another. Our prayer: Lord, Let us impact people in such a way that they long to see us again.

Verse 27.

“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Paul exhorted the Philippians to strive individually and corporately for the faith of the Gospel. Jesus is able to accomplish only through a unified Body.

As Paul discussed holy living, he also spoke of a corollary–unity among the believers. Jesus said that His body, living in love, holiness, purity, and unity was the greatest witness we can give the world.

ESV. The Greek for “only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel can also be translated “only behave as citizens worthy of the gospel,” a phrase that captures Paul’s thought in 3:20 “our citizenship is in heaven.” Philippi prided on being a Roman colony, offering the honor and privilege of Roman citizenship.

The idea behind being a Roman citizen travelling to distant colonized city was that the citizen carried the culture of Rome with him to affect the colonized city with the values of Rome. So do we as we carry the values of heaven to other places – like Walmart.

Wesley: Only — Be careful about this, and nothing else.

Stand fast in one spirit — With the most perfect unanimity.

Striving together — With united strength and endeavors.

For the faith of the gospel — For all the blessings revealed and promised therein.



Verse 28.

“and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.”

Womack: The word “terrified” is a strong word referring to the shying away of a horse that has been startled. The “adversaries” who caused this fear were unbelievers who showed hatred and hostility to the Philippian believers. So, Paul was speaking of persecution against the Philippian believers. The persecution against the Philippians was a token that the persecutors were headed for perdition. On the other hand, to those who were persecuted, it was a token that they are truly born again. The godly will suffer persecution (Matthew 5:10-12, 2 Timothy 3:12). The suffering of persecution is not an indication of divine disapproval but rather a sign of true adoption into the family of God. We are called not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). The Philippians were experiencing the same type of persecution that Paul was going through (Philippians 1:30). Paul was stating to the Philippian believers that they were in this fight together and should therefore receive encouragement and strength from each other.

Wesley: Which — Namely, their being adversaries to the word of God, and to you the messengers of God.

Is an evident token — That they are in the high road to perdition; and you, in the way of salvation.

Verse 29.

“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

See also 2 Timothy 3:12: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

Christianity’s values are opposite the values of this whole world system. We are headed in a selfless direction, while the world is consumed with self. The only reason believers would not suffer persecution is if they are going in the same direction as unbelievers. When we go God’s way, we will bump into the devil. Persecution isn’t always life threatening or physically abusive. Some of the most subtle persecution is just rejection or mockery.

Wesley: For to you it is given — As a special token of God's love, and of your being in the way of salvation.

Verse 30.

“having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”

ESV. The “same conflict” is opposition from hostile unbelievers.

Paul was in prison. The sufferings he endured were also to be experienced by all Christians who live godly lives, 2 Timothy 3:12). Indeed, these Philippians were also experiencing persecution.

In Philippi Paul and Silas had experienced a miraculous deliverance from prison (Acts 16:25-33). But not this time. Paul had been imprisoned for two years in Judea (Acts 24:27), spent around one year as a prisoner in transit to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:11), and had been captive in Rome for at least months. This is nearly four years in prison with more prison time to come.

Wesley: Having the same kind of conflict with your adversaries, which ye saw in me - When I was with you, Acts 16:12,19

Chapter 2.


ESV. Paul calls the Philippians to unite in love and humility (1-4), as exemplified by Christ’s humble service (5-11). They are to live as lights in the world (12-18), just like Christ’s faithful servants Timothy (19-24 and Epaphroditus (25-30) do.

Verse 1-2.

“Therefore, if there is any consolation (encouragement) in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship (participation) in the Spirit, if any affection and mercy (sympathy)” fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord of one mind.”

TPT of sympathies: “your heart flutters with His compassion.”

ESV. Paul is not doubting that encouragement, comfort from love, participation in the Spirit, affection and mercy are Spirit realities; rather, he uses “if” to provoke the Philippians to examine if they are personal realities. Since all the qualities from Love, Paul is exhorting them to press into love for Christ, love for one another, with resultant unity. They were to be of the same mind. Not an intellectual uniformity; rather, they were to use their divers gifts (I Cor. 12) in an agreeable, cooperative spirit with a focus on the glory of God.

These qualities are abundant in the Lord, and thus fully available since they are “in Christ.”

The “ifs” could have been translated “since.” Since there is consolation in Christ, since His love comforts us, since we have fellowship with Him through the Spirit, and since our hearts are full of His mercy - we love our fellow believers (Philippians 2:2). If God love us so, we can love each other.

Paul isn’t telling the Philippians to all have the same opinions; rather, he is telling them to have the same mindset or attitude – the mindset and attitude of not seeking their own welfare, but the welfare of others and the kingdom.

The unity Paul speaks of comes from humility. Humility allows each of us to genuinely see “the other as more important than ourselves” even if we have different opinions about politics, church policy, or even scripture. Pride is at the root of all division (Proverbs 13:10).

Wesley: Think the same thing — Seeing Christ is your common Head.

Having the same love — To God, your common Father.

Being of one soul — Animated with the same affections and tempers, as ye have all drank ill to one spirit.

Of one mind — Tenderly rejoicing and grieving together.

Verses 3.

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

Paul revealed that the antidote to pride, selfish ambition with resulting strife is lowliness of mind, considering others better than ourselves. Indeed, “Only by pride cometh contention” (Proverbs 13:10). A person cannot be in strife without being prideful, and he cannot be prideful without being in strife.

In chapter one, Paul reminded us that death brought us into the immediate presence of Christ and was therefore better than physical life (Philippians 1:21-23). But he was willing to remain alive (the lesser good) so he would be a channel of God’s supply to them and others.

Humility is, among other things, the absence of pride. Pride is multifaceted: it’s arrogance, it’s timidness, it’s self-centeredness.

God judges by looking on the inside, not the outside (1 Samuel 16:7).

To esteem others better than ourselves means to value them more than we value ourselves. Jesus esteemed us better than himself (Philippians 2:5-11). If Jesus, who was God in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16), could humble Himself and esteem our good above His own welfare, then we can do the same with our brother.

Wesley. Do nothing through contention — Which is inconsistent with your thinking the same thing.

Or vainglory — Desire of praise, which is directly opposite to the love of God.

But esteem each the others better than themselves — (For everyone knows more evil of himself than he can of another:) Which is a glorious fruit of the Spirit, and an admirable help to your continuing "of one soul."

TPT: “… don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourself.”

Verse 4. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”

The way we esteem others better than ourselves is to look at their side of things instead of seeing everything through selfish eyes. If we get out of self, through prayer, and think more about the benefit to others, then we will grow in selflessness. Therefore, “look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

ESV. Paul’s opponents in 1:17 operated in selfish ambition. Such conceit (lit. vainglory) is countered by the attitude of counting others as being more important than yourself. Such radical love is rare, so Paul illustrates its reality in the life of Christ in verses 5-11.

TPT: “… Possess a greater concern for what matters to others instead of your own interests.”

Verse 5.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus is the supreme example of selflessness. Jesus put on flesh so He could experience all we experience. He gave up Glory to identify with us.

Through the new birth, we have the mind of Christ, but it is still our choice to let this mind function in us.

The phrase “let this mind” (KJV) or “have this attitude” (NASB) is in the present imperative tense. It carries the idea of a lifestyle commitment, a normal way of thinking/acting, or a general habit. It denotes a state of mind, an inward heart attitude.

We have insight into the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus displayed selfless love toward us, and this illustrates how we are to treat others. The NIV says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

ESV. Paul depicts Jesus’ example of service from His preexistence to His incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension to God’s right hand. It is THE EXAMPLE for all Christians (and the Philippians) to follow in servanthood. Jesus did it out of love. Our mind set is the same as Jesus’ mind set by virtue of being “in Christ.” We have to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, but we are given that attitude. We share it with Christ.

The Philippian church is to be of one mind, united by love and humility, and looking out for the interests of others.

Verse 6.

“who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.”

TPT: “He existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize.” Or as something to be exploited.

“who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted. Amplified.

Jesus in His preexistent state was in the form of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God “(John 1:1).

However, Jesus did not demand or cling to His rights as God. He laid aside His divine rights and privileges in order to take the form of a servant and be made in the likeness of man. He further humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the Father, even to the point of death.

This was the supreme sacrifice that identified Jesus totally with humanity and enabled God to redeem mankind. By dying a criminal’s death upon the cross, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy in Deuteronomy 21:23 and bore our curse in His body. This redeemed us from that curse and opened wide God’s blessing of justification through faith in Christ and the promise of His Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14).

Wesley. To be equal with God — the word here translated equal, occurs five or six times in the New Testament, Matthew 20:12Luke 6:34John 5:18Acts 11:17Revelation 21:16. In all instances, it expresses, not a bare resemblance, but a real and proper status of equality. It implies both the fulness and the supreme height of the Godhead.

ESV. Prior to the incarnation, Jesus was in the form of God, preexistent. He, the eternal Son was with the Father (Jo. 1:1; 17:5; 17:24) before He was born in Bethlehem. Having the form of God is roughly equivalent to having equality with God. Form of God contrasted with Form of a servant. See also He. 1:3; Col. 1:15. Messiah did consider that “having equality with God,” which He possessed, should lead Him to hold on to His privileges at all costs. It was not something to be grasped, to be kept, or to be exploited for His benefit. Instead, He had a mindset of service. Ro. 15:3; Phil. 2: 3-4.


Verse 7.

“but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”

TPT: “He emptied Himself of His outer glory….”

CEV: “Instead he gave up everything and became a slave….”

GNT: “Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had and took the nature of a servant….”

Amplified: “He emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bondservant and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man].”

Jesus was Almighty God. Yet He laid aside His glory and became a man. The decision for Jesus to become flesh was not forced upon Him. He chose that path.

The phrase “made himself of no reputation” describes how Jesus humbled Himself. Jesus came from being recognized and worshiped by all the hosts of heaven as the Supreme God, to being a man, despised and rejected. The Lord became the servant. The Highest became the lowest. All of this was done because of God’s great love for us.

Wesley. Yet — He was so far from tenaciously insisting upon, that he willingly relinquished his claim. He was content to forego the glories of the Creator, and to appear in the form of a creature; nay, to be made in the likeness of the fallen creatures; and not only to share the disgrace, but to suffer the punishment, due to the meanest and vilest among them all.

He emptied himself — Of that divine fulness, which he received again at his exaltation. Though he remained full, John 1:14, yet he appeared as if he had been empty; for he veiled his fulness from the sight of men and angels. Yea, he not only veiled, but, in some sense, renounced, the glory which he had before the world began.

Taking — And by that very act emptying himself.

The form of a servant — The form, the likeness, the fashion, though not exactly the same, are yet nearly related to each other. The form expresses something absolute; the likeness refers to other things of the same kind; the fashion respects what appears to sight and sense.

Being made in the likeness of men — A real man, like other men. Hereby he took the form of a servant.

2 Cor. 8:9.

Verse 8.

“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” See also Jo. 15:9.

Jesus’ spirit was perfect, completely Divine, even as a child. The angels proclaimed Him Lord at His birth (Luke 2:11). But His physical mind was limited-although sinless. It had to be taught.

The Holy Spirit within Jesus prompted and enlightened Him as to His identity, but He had to educate His mind to that truth and accept it by faith. This is why Satan began each temptation to Christ with the words “If thou be the Son of God” (Matthew 4 and Luke 4). He wanted Jesus to be insecure about who He was. Likewise, we educate our limited physical senses and accept by faith our new identities in Christ.

Paul used Jesus as an example to “let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Jesus is the supreme example of selflessness and putting others ahead of Himself. We see clearly from Jesus’ example that the way to exaltation in God’s kingdom comes through humility and servanthood to others.

Wesley: And being found in fashion as a man — A common man, without any peculiar excellence or comeliness.

He humbled himself — To a still greater depth.

Becoming obedient — To God, though equal with him.

Even unto death — The greatest instance both of humiliation and obedience.

Yea, the death of the cross — Inflicted on few but servants or slaves.

ESV. No other form of death no matter how prolonged or physically agonizing, could match crucifixion as an absolute destruction of the person. It was the ultimate counterpoint to the Devine majesty of the preexistent Christ, and thus was the ultimate expression of Christ’s obedience to the Father.

ESV modified. Jesus’ humiliation was the basis of His exaltation. With LOVE motivating Him and enabling Him to complete the humbling Himself on the Cross, He walked out Devine LOVE. For this reason, God raised Him to life and highly exalted Him, entrusting Him with the rule of the Cosmos and giving Him the name above every name: YHWH (Lord).


Verse 9.

“Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name.”

TPT: “…God has given Jesus the greatest of all names.” The name is probably YHWH (Yahweh).

Wesley: Wherefore — Because of his voluntary humiliation and obedience. He humbled himself; but God hath exalted him - So recompensing his humiliation.

And hath given him — So recompensing his emptying himself.

A name which is above every name — Dignity and majesty superior to every creature.

Jesus sacrificed His physical life for us, and He left His eternal position as God to become a man. Therefore, God the Father has rewarded Him by giving Him a name that is above all others.

This exaltation refers to Christ’s ascension and glorification to the right hand of the Father. Because of Christ’s humility and obedience, God gave Him a name (Yahweh) that is above every name in heaven, in earth, and under the earth (Philippians 2:10). There is no exemption for anyone or anything from coming under the Lordship of Jesus. He is Lord of all.

Verse 10.

“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth.”

See also Isaiah 45:23 where Yahweh is used.

Who are those? Those in heaven could be godly angels and the godly dead. Those on earth could be living people. Those under the earth could be demons and those committed to hell.

Every knee of man, angels, and demons will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord. Those who have denied His existence will bow in worship. Those who have spent their lives rebelling at His authority will bow in submission. Every being from all ages will ultimately bow and worship Jesus.

If we bow our knees to His Lordship now, we enjoy wonderful lives and eternity with Him. Those who deny His rightful claim to the Lordship of their lives will suffer in this life as well as in hell in the next and will still bow their knees to His authority. There is nothing to gain and everything to lose for people who refuse to make Jesus their Lord.

The Today’s English Version translates Philippians 2:10-11 as “And so, in honor of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Wesley: That every knee — That divine honor might be paid in every possible manner by every creature.

Might bow — Either with love or trembling.

Of those in heaven, earth, under the earth — That is, through the whole universe.

See I Cor. 15: 23-28 for same pattern.

Verse 11.

“and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

We either voluntarily confess Jesus as Lord in this life and receive all the benefits of salvation, or we will confess Jesus as Lord when we stand before Him in judgement before being committed to eternal damnation.

Jesus the Messiah is called “Savior” twice but “Lord” over one hundred times in Acts. The early church made complete submission to the authority of Jesus in their lives a requirement. In the epistles, He is called “Lord” hundreds of times. Romans 10:9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” The New English Bible, Revised Standard Version, Today’s English Version, The New International Version, and Williams New Testament all translate Romans 10:9 as confessing “Jesus is Lord.”

Wesley: And every tongue — Even of his enemies.

Confess that Jesus Christ is Lord — Jehovah; not now "in the form of a servant," but enthroned in the glory of God the Father.

Verse 12.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you 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.”

God places salvation in us as a gift when we are born again (Philippians 2:13). When we are born again, Jesus deposits everything He accomplished through His death and resurrection in us. Then we work the deposited salvation out of our spirits into the physical realm. We recognize that victory and salvation is in us, and we just need to get it out. We’ve already got it. Paul did not tell them to work for their salvation; rather, to work out their salvation.

Salvation is what God did for us through Jesus Christ. It is the gift of God that can only be received by faith. When we put our faith in Jesus as our Lord, God puts salvation and all its blessings in us (Philippians 2:13), but we have to work it out. The phrase “work out” was translated from the Greek verb “KATERGAZOMAI,” and according to Wuest’s Word Studies, it means “‘to carry out to the goal, to carry to its ultimate conclusion.’ We say, ‘The student worked out a problem in arithmetic.’ That is, he carried the problem to its ultimate conclusion. This is the way it is used here. The Philippians are exhorted to carry their salvation to its ultimate conclusion, namely, Christlikeness.” Philippians 2:13 reveals there is a divine enablement that wills and is able to perform God’s bidding in our lives, but there is an effort on our part too. We have to work it out. This work needs to be understood in the light of the labor spoken of in Hebrews 4. We are to cease from trust in ourselves and rest in the Lord. That takes effort.

The Amplified Bible translates the last part of this verse as “work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).”

Wesley: Wherefore — Having proposed Christ's example, he exhorts them to secure the salvation which Christ has purchased.

As ye have always — Hitherto.

Obeyed — Both God, and me his minister.

Now in my absence — When ye have not me to instruct, assist, and direct you.

Work out your own salvation — Herein let every man aim at his own things.

With fear and trembling — With the utmost care and diligence.

ESV. Daily and faithful obedience is the way to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” God’s love and enabling Grace to them will enable them to succeed.

Verse 13.

“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

The Lord not only enables us to walk in victory, but He also plants that desire and willingness in us initially.

The Holy Spirit leads our born-again spirits to wholly fulfill God’s will. Yet, we have a say in what takes place in our lives. God puts it in, but we have to work it out.

Wesley: For it is God — God alone, who is with you, though I am not.

That worketh in you according to his good pleasure — Not for any merit of yours. Yet his influences are not to supersede, but to encourage, our own efforts.

Work out your own salvation — Here is our duty.

For it is God that worketh in you — Here is our encouragement. And O, what a glorious encouragement, to have the arm of Omnipotence stretched out for our support and our succor!

TPT: “God will continually revitalize you, implanting within you the passion to do what pleases him.”

Verse 14.

“Do all things without complaining and disputing.”

Remember that Paul is speaking of Jesus’ awesome sacrifice for us in becoming a man and dying for our sins. How did He do it? He willingly submitted Himself to God’s plan. Likewise, if we want to be sons of God, we willingly comply with His plan for us. If we are willing AND obedient, we will eat the good of the land (Isaiah 1:19).

When we let God work in our lives, to will and do His good pleasure, we become free from murmurings and disputings. The word “murmurings” is a Greek word translated in twice as “murmuring” (John 7:12 and Acts 6:1, this verse, and once as “grudging” (1 Peter 4:9). Its Greek meaning carries the idea of a “secret displeasure, not openly avowed.” The word “disputings” was translated from “DIALOGISMOS.” It was translated “doubtful” in Romans 14:1 and “doubting” in 1 Timothy 2:8.

Wesley: Do all things — Not only without contention, Philippians 2:3, but even without murmurings and disputings - Which are real, though smaller, hinderances of love.

ESV. I Cor. 10: 1-12. Israel’s spiritual growth was thwarted by grumbling.

Verse 15.

“that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

We shine as lights when we do all things without murmuring and complaining (Philippians 2:14) and are blameless and harmless as the sons of God.

ESV. Shining as lights: Dan. 12: 2-3.

Crooked: The Greek word is “SKOLIOS,” which from which we derive our English word “scoliosis” - a curvature of the spine. It means “warped.

Perverse: The Greek is word “DIASTREPHO” which means “to distort, i.e. (figuratively) misinterpret, or (morally) corrupt.”

We need to be blameless and harmless in our spirits and our flesh. Our spirits were made blameless and harmless at salvation, and this condition doesn’t fluctuate according to our performance. Colossians 1:21-22 says, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” We become blameless and harmless in our flesh by ceasing from murmurings and disputing (Philippians 2:14).

The NIV translates “without rebuke” as “without fault.” The Greek word used means that which “cannot be censured, blameless.”

Wesley:  that ye may be blameless — Before men.

And simple — Before God, aiming at him alone.

As the sons of God — The God of love; acting up to your high character.

Unrebukable in the midst of a crooked — Guileful, serpentine, and perverse generation - Such as the bulk of mankind always were.

Crooked — By a corrupt nature, and yet more perverse by custom and practice.

TPT: Blameless and innocent – translated “innocent. See Dt. Dt. 32: 5-6.

Verse 16.

“holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

TPT: Literally “holding out to them the Word of life.” Another translation says: “you stand in the place of life to them.”

We let our light shine in the midst of a crooked and perverse people (Philippians 2:15), by holding forth the Word of God.

Paul’s rejoicing and success was tied to helping other people receive the grace of God and spiritual prosperity. True happiness is found in serving others. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

It is not enough to shine our light through actions. That’s important, but we have to speak God’s Word too. 1 Peter 1:23 says, “Being born the word of God.” Our attitudes and actions open people up to the Word of God. It’s like plowing and harrowing ground to prepare it to receive seed. The seed produces fruit, however, not the plow and harrow. Likewise, it’s God’s Word that saves people, not our actions.

If the Philippians let their light shine (Philippians 2:15) by speaking God’s Word, then Paul will rejoice on the Day of Judgment. He will see that their fruit and his fruit. His efforts were not in vain. On the other hand, if the Philippians don’t persevere until the end, Paul’s labor could have been in vain.

ESV. Paul’s labor would be in vain if the Philippians failed to “hold fast” to the Word of Life until the day Jesus is revealed. “Holding fast” (epecho- hold fast or hold out) means 1) believing God’s word; 2) trusting God to bring them into a faithful reliance and obedience to the word; 3) proclaiming God’s word.

Verse 17.

“Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”

Wesley: Here he begins to treat of the latter clause of Philippians 1:22.

Yea, and if I be offered — Literally, If I be poured out.

Upon the sacrifice of your faith — The Philippians, as the other converted heathens, were a sacrifice to God through St. Paul's ministry, Romans 15:16. And as in sacrificing, wine was poured at the foot of the altar, so he was willing that his blood should be poured out. The expression well agrees with that kind of martyrdom by which he was afterwards offered up to God.

Paul was in prison for preaching the Gospel, and the Romans might condemn him to death. He was willing to die. Christians consider it a part of obedience to suffer or die for Christ’s sake (Acts 5:41 and Philippians 3:10) if called. They love Jesus more than life.

The Greek word used for “offered” is “SPENDO,” and it means “to pour out as a drink-offering.” The figurative meaning of this word is “one whose blood is poured out in a violent death for the cause of God.” Shortly before his death, Paul wrote a letter to Timothy in which he stated, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6). The word “offered” used in that verse was also SPENDO. These are the only two passages in the New Testament containing this word.

The sacrificial drink offerings of the Jews were usually poured out around the altar. The drink offerings offered in heathen sacrifices were usually poured upon the sacrifice. Paul used a metaphor that was understandable to the Philippian believers, who had been converted from paganism.

ESV. Paul compares himself to a drink offering (2 Tim. 4:6). This type of offering, familiar in both the OT and Greco-Roman culture, involved pouring out wine, either on the ground or, as here, on an altar along with an animal or grain sacrifice (Nu. 28:7). It was an illustration of a life poured out for God’s service.

Verse 18.

“For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.”

It is amazing that Paul would joy and rejoice even if he was martyred, but he was saying that the Philippians should joy and rejoice with him if that happened. It’s an honor to be martyred. There are great rewards and a better resurrection to be gained for martyrs of the faith (Hebrews 11:35). It will also be the attitude of all of those who share Paul’s belief that “to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Wesley: Congratulate me — When I am offered up.

Verse 19.

“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state.”

Wesley: When I know — Upon my return, that ye stand steadfast.

This verse, as well as Philippians 2:1, reveal that Timothy was with Paul during his imprisonment in Rome.

We can learn a good example from Paul here. Not only did Paul lead the Philippians to saving faith in Christ, but also his genuine interest in their spiritual welfare led him to send his most trusted companion–Timothy–to them. Paul was willing to send Timothy to minister to the Philippians in his place.

Verse 20.

“For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.”

Timothy had Paul’s heart toward new believers and toward serving Jesus. Paul had just expressed that he rejoiced even at the thought of death. We can suppose that Timothy had that attitude too.

Paul stated of Timothy, “There is no one else here who sees things as I do” (New English Bible). The Greek word for “likeminded” is “ISOPSUCHOS,” derived from two Greek words: “ISOS,” meaning “similar,” and “PSUCHE,” the Greek word for “soul.” Thus, ISOPSUCHOS means “equal [or similar] in soul,” one who sees things the same way.

Wesley: I have none — Of those who are now with me.

Verse 21.

Wesley. Seek their own — Ease, safety, pleasure, or profit. Amazing! In that golden age of the church, could St. Paul thoroughly approve of one only, among all the laborer’s that were with him? Philippians 1:14,17. And how many do we think can now approve themselves to God? Not the things of Jesus Christ - They who seek these alone, will sadly experience this. They will find few helpers likeminded with themselves, willing naked to follow a naked Master.

There may have been many things that made Timothy “likeminded” with Paul, but Paul mentioned one: Timothy was not self-seeking; he sought the things that benefited Jesus.

ESV. Timothy emulates Christ in that he is concerned for the Philippians welfare; he does not look out for his own interests, but for those of Christ.

Verse 22.

“But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.”

Paul wasn’t just emotionally attached to Timothy. Timothy had proven his love for the Lord and Paul through his actions. Paul’s feelings towards Timothy were not based in grace but in Timothy’s actions.

Wesley: As a son with his father — He uses an elegant peculiarity of phrase, speaking partly as of a son, partly as of a fellow laborer.


Verse 23.

“Therefore, I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.”

Paul was speaking about his sentencing. He was in prison, awaiting the sentence to be handed down from Caesar. He wanted Timothy to know the verdict before going to Philippi so that he could inform Philippians.

Verse 24.

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

There are different opinions on whether or not Paul ever got out of prison, but this verse reveals that Paul was expecting to be released from prison.

Verse 25.

“Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need.”

Wesley: Your messenger — The Philippians had sent him to St. Paul with their liberal contribution.

Paul planned to send Timothy to the Philippians just as soon as his verdict was rendered Philippians 2:23. He felt he would be released and come to them in person (Philippians 2:24). Despite all this, Paul send Epaphroditus to them immediately with the latest news, especially because they had heard that Epaphroditus had been deathly sick. 2:27

Epaphroditus’ name means “lovely.” He carried Paul’s letter to the Philippians. He was a brother, companion in labor, and fellow soldier with Paul in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He personally ministered to Paul’s needs.

What labor did Paul do? When Paul was in prison, his work was the work of the ministry. In 1 Timothy 5:17, Paul spoke of elders laboring in the Word and in doctrine. It takes effort for people to minister to others and keep themselves in tune with the Lord so that we can be effective ministers.

Verse 26.

“since he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.”

It would have taken Epaphroditus 4-6 weeks to travel from Philippi to Rome with the church gift to Paul. Once Epaphroditus reached Rome, at least two months would have elapsed since Paul had reached Rome. It could easily have been longer. Then Epaphroditus became ill. News of his illness had to travel back to Philippi, and the Philippians’ response had to travel back to Rome, for Epaphroditus to know that the Philippians had heard of his sickness. (Two-three more months). The shortest time in which these events could have taken place would have been a minimum of three to four months, and it could easily have taken place over a year’s time. Paul was imprisoned in Rome for two whole years (Acts 28:30). This letter was written at least months after Paul arrived in Rome and possibly toward the latter part of his Roman imprisonment.

Verse 27.

“For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.”

Some interpret Paul’s statements to mean that healing is not a “right” for God’s people, but a gift that God sometimes gives and sometimes withholds. Womack: Healing has been purchased for believers as part of the atonement of Christ. The Lord would no more refuse to heal believers than He would refuse to forgive them. That does not mean that we deserve healing; we don’t. It is a gift of God, just as salvation is a gift of God (Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8). We don’t deserve to have our sins forgiven. We cannot demand salvation from the Lord, but we can expect it. Likewise, healing has been purchased for us through the atonement of Christ. Healing belongs to us. But it is still the mercy of God that has provided healing, and every act of healing is an act of mercy.

Paul’s reveals that the Lord healed Epaphroditus not only for both their sakes. This illustrates the power of intercession. We can make a difference in the way God deals with another individual. There are many examples of God showing mercy toward someone because of the intercession of another (Genesis 19:29, 2 Samuel 9:1, 1 Kings 11:11-13, and 2 Kings 8:19).

Verse 28.

“Therefore, I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful.”

Paul was not depressed. He rejoiced through all his persecutions (Philippians 1:18 and 2:17-18). In this letter, he admonished the Philippians to live lives of joy (Philippians 3:1 and 4:4-8). Paul’s joy was in the Lord (Philippians 1:21). Sorrow comes into all of our lives. Sorrow exists, even for us as believers, but we don’t let it dominate us.

Paul rose above these natural things by thinking on the purer things of God. He lived a full life of joy but not because sorrow didn’t exist. Rather it was because he cast his sorrow over on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7), and kept his mind stayed on things above (Colossians 3:1-2). Regardless, Paul was walking in the joy of the Lord despite all his circumstances, and we can too.

Verse 29.

“Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness and hold such men in esteem.”

Paul admonished the Philippians to honor Epaphroditus. Our English word “reputation” was translated from the Greek word “ENTIMOS,” and this Greek word means “valued (figuratively).” We are to value those who give us godly examples.

Verse 30.

“because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me.”

Epaphroditus’ sickness was a result of the way he neglected himself to serve Paul. Apparently, Epaphroditus depleted his own strength in serving Paul to the point that he succumbed to sickness.

Wesley: To supply your deficiency of service — To do what you could not do in person.

ESV. The Christlikeness of Epaphroditus is highlighted by Paul’s careful use of words. Having said that Christ was obedient “to the point of death”, Paul now says that Epaphroditus was “near to death” and that he nearly died. Epaphroditus had faced this peril on behalf of the Philippians, who had desired to send gifts to support Paul but had not been able to do so (what was lacking in your service to me) until Epaphroditus made it possible.

Chapter 3.


ESV. Paul instructs the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord but then warns them about the Judaizer opponents of the gospel. Paul has renounced his Jewish past for the sake of knowing Christ. His righteousness comes through Christ, not the law. He then exhorts the Philippians to follow his example of wholly following Jesus.

Verse 1.

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.”

Remember that Paul was writing this letter from prison. Yet this epistle mentions rejoicing and joy more than any other of his writings.

The Amplified Bible says, “For the rest, my brethren, delight yourselves in the Lord and continue to rejoice that you are in Him. To keep writing to you [over and over] of the same things is not irksome to me, and it is [a precaution] for your safety.”

Paul didn’t mind repeating teachings because it was good for people. Ministers don’t always need something new; rather, repeating the basics is also good.

“Finally,” is the Greek word “LOIPON,” and it means “the remaining, the rest.” The Greek expression carries the idea of something left over (Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament). It is translated into English as “besides,” “it remains,” “furthermore.” It did not mean Paul was finished with the letter.

The words “joy” and “rejoice” are used sixteen times in this letter. The Bible teaches that our joy is in Christ - not in circumstances. “Joy” is a noun. “Rejoice” is a verb, describing a person’s action. When Paul told the Philippians to rejoice, he instructing them about something they were to do. We can rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4), because rejoicing is an action, not a reaction to our environment. Joy is a gift from God that was given to us at salvation. It was placed within our born-again spirits, and it doesn’t fluctuate or diminish; it is constant. The Lord has put joy inside us, and now we are to “work it out” by obeying this command to rejoice. We rejoice in who Jesus is and what He has done for us. He never changes (Hebrews 13:8), and His mercies and compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

The phrase “to write the same things to you” refers to previous instruction given earlier to the Philippian believers. Repetition is part of the learning process.

Verse 2.

“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!”

Wesley: beware of dogs — Unclean, unholy, rapacious men. The title which the Jews usually gave the gentiles, he returns upon themselves.

The concision — Circumcision being now ceased, the apostle will not call them the circumcision, but coins a term on purpose, taken from a Greek word used by the LXX, Leviticus 21:5, for such a cutting as God had forbidden. Concision means mutilation.

ESV. “Dog” was a term of derision, especially used by Jews toward “unclean” gentiles. The Judaizers, not the gentiles, deserve that title.

The word “concision” seems to be a term of derision against those who taught circumcision as necessary for salvation. In the Greek, it literally meant a cutting or mutilation. Circumcision without faith in Christ is mutilation.

Circumcision was the dominant action and sign of the Old Covenant that God made with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-11). The legalistic Jews had lost the significance of the sign and were blindly observing the action, believing that circumcision itself produced salvation. Therefore, the issue of circumcision symbolized the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament means of salvation. Here, Paul used a play on the word “circumcision” by using the word “concision,” which means “mutilation” (Strong’s Concordance). Circumcision, done the way the legalistic Jews did it (i.e., in order to obtain salvation), was nothing more than mutilation. The Judaizers were mutilating men spiritually by adding legalistic rules to Christ’s Gospel.

Verse 3.

“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

Wesley: For we — Christians. Are the only true circumcision - The people now in covenant with God.

Who worship God in spirit — Not barely in the letter, but with the spiritual worship of inward holiness.

And glory in Christ Jesus — As the only cause of all our blessings.

And have no confidence in the flesh — In any outward advantage or prerogative.

ESV. The true circumcision worship by the Spirit of God. They glory in Christ. They put no confidence in the flesh.

Paul was speaking to Gentile Christians, and he called them the true circumcision. This is the same point he made in his letter to the Romans when he said, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28-29).

We can’t have any confidence in own efforts and abilities. Our confidence has to be in the Lord. The Lord is in us (Romans 8:9 and 2 Corinthians 13:5), and therefore, we have confidence in Him in us. But He’s in the born-again part of us. This is a mystery to those who don’t have the revelation of Christ in them (Colossians 1:27).

In Colossians 2:11, God accomplishes spiritual circumcision. It is the condition of the spirit that matters to God. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). “Man, looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Verse 4.

“though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so.”

ESV. Paul had perfect credentials pursuant to the old system. He probably spoke Aramaic. He was blameless in following the law.

If anyone could trust in his righteousness, Paul would be the one. He was holier than all of them, yet as stated in Philippians 3:9, the righteousness that justifies people before a holy God must be a righteousness that is equal to God’s – only Jesus could do that. In order to receive this righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ, people must quit relying upon their own righteousness (which is of the Law, Philippians 3:9) and must trust in Christ alone for His righteousness.

Verse 5.

“circumcised the eighth day of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee.”

TPT: This meant that Paul could trace his lineage back to Abraham. He probably spoke Aramaic and did not adopt Greek custom. The tribe of Israel was honored as the tribe most loyal to King David.

Wesley: Circumcised the eighth day — Not at ripe age, as a proselyte.

Of the tribe of Benjamin — Sprung from the wife, not the handmaid.

A Hebrew of Hebrews — By both my parents; in everything, nation, religion, language.

Touching the law, a pharisee — One of that sect who most accurately observe it.

Paul’s critics were preaching that faith in Christ alone was not enough. They said we also have to be holy to be accepted with God. They boasted of their self-righteousness and condemned others who were not as holy. If they thought acts of holiness procured special favor from God, then Paul was holier than them all. Yet, all Paul’s holiness was not enough to grant him a relationship with God. The relationship only came through faith in what Christ has done.

Verse 6.

“concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness, which is in the law, blameless.”

Wesley: Having such a zeal for it as to persecute to the death those who did not observe it.


Paul’s list of human attainments is impressive. He was a circumcised, full-blooded Jew of an outstanding tribe of Israel. As a Pharisee, he once guarded the Law with zeal. As for legalistic righteousness, he had been blameless. But in comparison to God’s own righteousness, he had failed. The truth is that we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). It doesn’t matter how good we are, we still need a Savior. Who wants to be the best sinner who ever went to hell?

Verse 7.


“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.”


Wesley: But all these things, which I then accounted gain, which were once my confidence, my glory, and joy, those, ever since I have believed, I have accounted loss, nothing worth in comparison of Christ.


Before Paul met Christ, he was proud of his many attainments within the Jewish religion (Galatians 1:14). He was circumcised and had obeyed the Law of Moses. Concerning the outward observance of the Law, he was blameless (Philippians 3:6). His natural descent from Abraham gave him favor. He had done all the “dos” and avoided the “don’ts,” but then he saw how wrong he was. Natural circumcision was nothing. True circumcision is of the heart. Natural descent means nothing, only the new creation (Galatians 6:15). Legalistic righteousness is to no avail and is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Paul gladly renounced his faith in himself and his own accomplishments so that he might receive Christ by faith along with all His accomplishments. The Living Bible renders this verse as “But all these things that I once thought very worthwhile–now I’ve thrown them all away so that I can put my trust and hope in Christ alone.”


Verse 8.


“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

Wesley: Yea, I still account both all these and all things else to be mere loss, compared to the inward, experimental knowledge of Christ, as my Lord, as my prophet, priest, and king, as teaching me wisdom, atoning for my sins, and reigning in my heart. To refer this to justification only, is miserably to pervert the whole scope of the words. They manifestly relate to sanctification also, yea, to that chiefly. For whom I have actually suffered the loss of all things - Which the world loves, esteems, or admires; of which I am so far from repenting, that I still account them but dung - The discourse rises. Loss is sustained with patience, but dung is cast away with abhorrence. The Greek word signifies any, the vilest refuse of things, the dross of metals, the dregs of liquors, the excrements of animals, the most worthless scraps of meat, the basest offal, fit only for dogs.

That I may gain Christ — He that loses all things, not excepting himself, gains Christ, and is gained by Christ. And still there is more, which even St. Paul speaks of his having not yet gained.

Paul didn’t come to a place of failure through some sin or error on his part. He was the most promising student of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). Paul came to value his own efforts to be righteous as dung. Successful people often fail to see their need for the Lord. They trust in themselves. That’s why relatively few “successful” people come to the Lord. The present-tense verb “I count” shows a habitual attitude and commitment to a long-term way of doing something. In other words, Paul continually counted as loss everything that would keep him from knowing Jesus Christ intimately.

Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament states, “Not only did he (Paul) forfeit all this when he was saved, but his parents would have nothing to do with a son who had, in their estimation, dishonored them by becoming one of those hated, despised Christians. They had reared him in the lap of luxury, sent him to the Jewish school of theology in Jerusalem to sit at the feet of the great Gamaliel, and given him an excellent training in Greek culture at the University of Tarsus, a Greek school of learning. But they had now cast him off. He was still forfeiting all that he had held dear, but for what? He tells us, ‘that I may win Christ’” (p. 91). Only eternity will reveal just how much Paul gave up in the natural to follow Christ. One thing is certain–he gained much more than he ever gave up. That’s true of us as well. The reproaches of Christ are infinitely greater in wealth than all the riches of the world or the acclaim of man (Hebrews 11:26).

This word “win” was translated from the Greek word “KERDAINO,” which means “to gain.” It is translated “gain” nine times (Matthew 16:26 [once]; Mark 8:36 [once]; Luke 9:25 [once]; 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 [five times]; and James 4:13 [once]) and “gained” five times (Matthew 18:15, 25:17, 20, 22; and Acts 27:21).


Verse 9.


“and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”

Wesley: And be found by God ingrafted in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law - That merely outward righteousness prescribed by the law and performed by my own strength. But that inward righteousness which is through faith - Which can flow from no other fountain.

The righteousness which is from God — From his almighty Spirit, not by my own strength, but by faith alone. Here also the apostle is far from speaking of justification only.

ESV. Paul wanted to be spiritually united with Christ. God imputes Christ’s lifelong record of perfect obedience to the person who trusts in him for salvation. God thinks of Christ’s obedience of belonging to that person – to the person who trusts in Christ. That person stands before God as righteous, as Jesus is righteous. Jesus is the believer’s righteousness before God.


There are two types of righteousness: ours and God’s. Our righteousness is through our own efforts to keep a code of conduct. God’s righteousness comes as a gift and is received by faith. God’s righteousness is perfect. Our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

One of the key words of this passage is “DIKAIOSUNE,” translated “righteousness.” It is hard for one English word to portray all that this means. A paraphrase of Paul’s thinking may be “a right relationship or right standing before a holy God.” Right standing before a holy God can only be achieved by trusting in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The righteousness that gives mankind relationship with God is the righteousness of God, and it comes freely through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22).

Verse 10.

“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”

Wesley: The knowledge of Christ, mentioned in the eighth verse, is here more largely explained.

That I may know him — As my complete Savior.

And the power of his resurrection — Raising me from the death of sin, into all the life of love.

And the fellowship of his sufferings — Being crucified with him.

And made conformable to his death — So as to be dead to all things here below.

ESV. The goal of trusting in Christ is to know him – to have a personal relationship with him, and also to trust in the power of his resurrection. That’s the power that Christ exerts now at the right hand of God. This power is known as we share in Christ’s sufferings – the sufferings that attend faithfulness in this fallen world. Those who suffer with Christ will attain to the resurrection from the dead.

The Eastern mindset saw knowing as experiential. Paul wanted to experience Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death.

Paul mentioned knowing Christ before he mentioned knowing the power of Christ’s resurrection. Indeed, every aspect of the Christian life revolves around knowing Jesus in an intimate, experiential way. That’s the main thing. Yet Paul didn’t stop with just knowing Christ. He wanted to know the power that flowed from His resurrection too. We don’t have to choose between the two. We should have a personal relationship with the Lord that releases His supernatural power into our lives and into the lives of those we meet.

Paul also wanted to know the fellowship of His sufferings. Suffering will come, both to the righteous and the unrighteous. All godly people will suffer (2 Timothy 3:12) persecution. When it happens, God provides a supernatural comfort. It is this comfort, or fellowship with Jesus, that Paul refers to. That comfort is so sweet that it makes the suffering seem like nothing in comparison (Romans 8:18).

Amplified: “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope].”

Paul gave up everything that he might “know” Christ (Philippians 3:8). The Greek word for “know” is “GINOSKO,” and it was a Jewish idiom for the sexual union between a husband and wife (Genesis 4:1). Paul’s aim was to know Christ and experience Him on the most intimate, personal level. This involved knowing Jesus’ resurrection power in the new birth (Romans 6:4-5). It also involved sharing His sufferings. Not the sufferings He experienced for our redemption but rather the sufferings brought on by one’s allegiance to Christ.

Furthermore, Paul’s desire was conformity to Christ’s death. While not denying that this may involve allegiance to Christ to the point of physical death, Paul meant the death to the flesh–life that is experienced through a vital faith union with Christ (Romans 6:11 and 17-18).

In Romans 12:2 we are not conformed to this world but transformed through the renewing of our minds. We are conformed to the death of Christ. We reckon ourselves dead to sin and all its effects upon us in the same way that Christ is dead to sin and all its effects upon Him.

Verse 11.

“if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Wesley: The resurrection of the dead — That is, the resurrection to glory.

In Acts 24:15, everyone will be resurrected from the dead, some to life and some to damnation. That general resurrection will happen to everyone. Paul used a Greek word for resurrection that is used nowhere else in the Bible. It means an “out-resurrection,” or a “rising from among the dead.” This word speaks of the specific resurrection of the saints.

The saints’ resurrection will bring us into complete conformity to the character of Jesus Christ. Vincent’s Word Studies states that this expression “if by any means” was “not an expression of doubt” on Paul’s part, but rather a statement “of humility.” Paul emphasized the resurrection of the believer out from among the dead.

The word “attain” comes from the Greek word “KATANTAO,” and this word means “arrive at.” He had not yet arrived at the resurrection of the just, but he was going in that direction. Salvation is the present-tense possession of all born-again believers, but there is a future-tense fulfillment that will be consummated at the resurrection of the just. As long as believers hold fast to their profession of faith, their resurrection is secure.

The word “resurrection” is translated from the Greek word “EXANASTASIS,” which is only used here. It is very similar to the Greek word “ANASTASIS,” and that word was translated “resurrection” thirty-nine times in the N.T. However, this word has the preposition “EK” added to it, which gives it the meaning of “out of” or “from” among the dead.

Verse 12.

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”

Wesley: Not that I have already attained — The prize. He here enters on a new set of metaphors, taken from a race. But observe how, in the utmost fervor, he retains his sobriety of spirit.

Or am already perfected — There is a difference between one that is perfect, and one that is perfected. The one is fitted for the race, Philippians 3:15; the other, ready to receive the prize.

But I pursue, if I may apprehend that — Perfect holiness, preparatory to glory. For, in order to which I was apprehended by Christ Jesus - Appearing to me in the way, Acts 26:14. The speaking conditionally both here and in the preceding verse, implies no uncertainty, but only the difficulty of attaining.

ESV. Paul is not perfect. He still struggles. The full glory of the resurrection awaits in the future.

Paul: “I haven’t arrived, but praise God, I’ve left.”

Paul wasn’t expressing doubt about whether or not he would make the resurrection of the righteous. He was simply saying that this was so important that it was worth all his effort to ensure that he was among that number.

Our salvation is a continual trust and dependence on Jesus for our right relationship with the Father. Until we are resurrected with our glorified bodies, we have to hold fast the profession of our faith in Christ (Hebrews 4:14 and 10:23).

The word “perfect” is used to describe spiritual maturity as well as “being without defect or blemish.” Paul was spiritually mature, but he wasn’t without defect. That wouldn’t happen until the resurrection.

Perseverance is necessary in the Christian life. Paul was committed to Christ, and he knew he would continue to walk in righteousness with God (Romans 15:29).

Hebrews 11:35 says, “Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” This “better resurrection” apparently is referring to the varying rewards that will be given to believers. Martyrs will certainly be rewarded in a special way, making theirs a “better resurrection.” All saints will be in the resurrection of the just, but some will have greater rewards than others.

In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul spoke of pursuing the “prize of the high calling of God.” Paul wasn’t trying to just finish the race—he planed on winning first place. He wanted this better resurrection; that is, he wanted to bring maximum honor and glory to God. He had not attained that yet, and he wouldn’t know until the resurrection morning if he had made it. But that’s the goal that the Lord had placed in his heart, and that was the one thing he pursued.

Verse 13.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”

Paul was single-minded. He was known for his relationship with the Lord and that relationship produced.

We can’t reach forward until we get free from the past. Paul forgot the things that were behind and reached toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. So must we.

The word “forgetting” in the Greek is EPILANTHANOMAI, meaning “to forget...given over to oblivion.” The Greek verb for “reaching forth unto” is EPEKTEINOMAI, and it means “‘to stretch out to’ ‘to stretch’ (oneself) ‘forward to’” as a runner that is running in the Greek games for the prize.

Wesley: I do not account myself to have apprehended this already; to be already possessed of perfect holiness.

ESV. I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me His own.

Verse 14.

“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Wesley: Forgetting the things that are behind — Even that part of the race which is already run.

And reaching forth unto — Literally, stretched out over the things that are before - Pursuing with the whole bent and vigour of my soul, perfect holiness and eternal glory.

In Christ Jesus — The author and finisher of every good thing.

Paul was pressing toward the goal, mark, or prize. He intended to win the race. Those who shoot at nothing hit it every time.

Paul used a metaphor of a runner in a race. The Greek verb Paul used for “I press” is DIOKO, and it was used figuratively of one running swiftly in a race to reach the goal. It also carries the idea of one who pursues, seeks eagerly after, or earnestly endeavors to acquire the prize (Hebrews 12:1-2). Since the “prize” of eternal life cannot be acquired by works of righteousness that we have done (Titus 3:5), Paul must have been thinking of the rewards that come from service to the Lord.

ESV. Goal could also refer to the finish line in a race or an archery target. Paul’s life is purposeful, for her constantly aims toward a heavenly goal. The prize is the fullness of blessing and rewards in the age to come, most especially being in perfect fellowship with Christ forever.

Verse 15.

“Therefore, let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.”

The “thus minded” Paul speaks of is single-mindedness in seeking after Jesus and forgetting everything in the past. When we seek first the kingdom in our lives, the Lord will show us if we get off track. We don’t have to be introspective to discover it.

In Philippians 3:12, he said that he wasn’t perfect. Here, he spoke of those who are perfect and put himself in that number. The answer to this apparent paradox lies in the meaning of the word “perfect.” Perfect can mean spiritually mature, or it can mean “without defect or blemish.” In Philippians 3:12, “perfect” means that he wasn’t flawless or without defect. Here, Paul speaks of being spiritually mature. The NKJV and the NIV substitute “mature” for the KJV’s “perfect.” The Amplified Bible, Classic Edition says “spiritually mature and full-grown.”

If we seek the Lord with pure hearts and singleness of purpose, the Lord will show us anything that needs to change. In other words, all we have to do is focus on the Lord with pure hearts, and He will show us any error.

ESV. Mature is the same word translated “perfect” in verse 12. Paul is saying: “If you are really mature, you will realize that you are not yet perfected.

Verse 16.

“Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.”

In this verse, Paul reminded them to keep walking in the light that they had.

Wesley: But let us take care not to lose the ground we have already gained. Let us walk by the same rule we have done hitherto.

Verse 17.

“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”

It’s not a proud or arrogant statement; it is the truth. Paul knew he was seeking God and that resulted in blessing that would benefit those who followed his example. All. Ministers should be able to say this. See Romans 16:17-19.

The Philippians were to imitate Paul’s example and not that of the Judaizers or self-indulgent Christians (Philippians 3:18-19). An “example” is one who serves as a pattern or model. Paul had suffered the loss of all things for Christ (Philippians 3:7), accounted all things dung in comparison to knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8), shared in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10), forsaken his own righteousness and accepted Christ’s alone (Philippians 3:9), forgotten those things that were behind and reached toward the prize that was heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14), and was walking according to the light and understanding of God’s Word that he had (Philippians 3:15-16) attained. Therefore, he admonished other Christians to follow his  example (1 Corinthians 11:1, 1 Timothy 4:12, and 1 Peter 5:1-3).

ESV. While Paul was not perfected, he was confident enough in his walk to ask the Philippians to imitate him. He wanted them to join him in humble, radical dependence and obedience to Jesus.

Wesley: Mark them — For your imitation.

Verse 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.”

Paul derived no pleasure from seeing others fall. He wanted the Kingdom to advance. His tears for those who were not truly serving the Lord evidenced that.

What were the “enemies of the cross of Christ”? They were opposed to grace - that Jesus alone accomplished salvation for us through His death on the cross. These people may have accepted that Jesus died for our sins, but they believed they had to add their own holiness to achieve salvation. But Jesus plus anything equals nothing (Jesus + anything = 0). Jesus plus nothing (except faith in what He did) equals everything (Jesus + 0 = EVERYTHING).

The enemies could have been professed Christians who were legalistic or, on the other extreme, indulging in sinful pleasures. They are “enemies of the cross,” which implies “error” in doctrine or lifestyle. Vine’s Expository Dictionary describes “error” as “a wandering, a forsaking of the right path...whether in doctrine (2 Peter 2:17 and 1 John 4:6), or in morals (Romans 1:27, 2 Peter 2:18, and Jude 11). Further descriptions revealed their bellies as their god; this means they were led by their own fleshly desires and appetites. They gloried in what they should have been ashamed of, and their hearts and minds were set on the things of this world. Paul wept as he declared their coming destruction. Paul warned God’s people of such deception (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:21, and Ephesians 5:5-6). Paul loved those who opposed him, even to the point that he said in Romans 9:3, “I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”

Wesley: Enemies of the cross of Christ — Such are all cowardly, all shamefaced, all delicate Christians.

Verse 19.

“whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”

TPT(B) “they boast in their shameful lifestyles” and “their conscience is in the ground.”

What did Paul mean that their “glory is in their shame”? These people gloried in their accomplishments instead of in what Christ did for them. Regardless of how people stack up compared to others, all have sinned and come way short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Christ is the glory of God. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).

Any boasting by us shows we don’t understand the work Jesus accomplished on the cross (Romans 3:27). He TOTALLY saved us. He didn’t just add to our good works and help save us. All our self-righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, those of us who glory in our goodness are glorying in our shame.

“The cross” speaks of everything Jesus provided for us through His death, resurrection, exaltation and, specifically, the grace by which everything was provided. Therefore, those who are enemies of the cross are trusting in themselves and their own goodness and not in the Grace of God. They are their own savior, and they live to satisfy themselves, not God. So, saying their god is their bellies really is a very descriptive way of characterizing people who are enemies of the cross.

This last characterization of these enemies of the cross of Christ (Philippians 3:18) is that they “mind earthly things.” As Romans 8:6 says, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Notice that Philippians 3:18-19 is a parenthetical phrase. This means that Philippians 3:20 is a continuation of the thought Paul expressed in Philippians 3:17. In Philippians 3:17, Paul told the Philippians to follow his example, and then in Philippians 3:20, he explained that his lifestyle was consistent with his heavenly citizenship. The parenthetical phrase contrasted the conduct of Paul’s critics with his exemplary actions.

ESV. The enemies of the cross of Christ could be Judaizers or worldly people in general. Their destiny is final destruction; they worship themselves, and they are consumed with earthly things.

Wesley: Whose end is destruction — This is placed in the front, that what follows may be read with the greater horror.

Whose god is their belly — Whose supreme happiness lies in gratifying their sensual appetites.

Who mind — Relish, desire, seek, earthly things.

Verse 20.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

When we have the mind-set that we are citizens of heaven, it will radically influence our actions while here on earth.

The Greek word for “Saviour” is “SOTER,” and it is used twenty-four times in the New Testament. It refers to God the Father eight times (Luke 1:47; 1 Timothy 1:1, 2:3,4:10; Titus 1:3, 2:10, 3:4; and Jude 25) and Jesus Christ sixteen times (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31, 13:23; Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 3:20; 2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:4, 2:13, 3:6; 2 Peter 1:1, 11, 2:20, 3:2, 18; and 1 John 4:14).

Most often, God is referred to as the Savior of Israel in the OT (1 Chronicles 16:35; Psalms 24:5, 25:5, 27:1, 62:2,65:5, 79:9, 95:1; Proverbs 29:25; Isaiah 62:11; Micah 7:7; and Habakkuk 3:18).

The word “Lord” is a very significant word that appears in eight forms in the Old Testament (“‘ADOWN,” “‘ADONAY,” “G@BIYR,” “YAHH,” “Y@HOVAH,” “MARE’,” “RAB,” and “SHALIYSH”) and in four forms in the New Testament (“DESPOTES,” “KURIEUO,” “KURIOS,” and “RHABBONI”). Some of the predominant words in the O.T. are ‘ADOWN, used 335 times, and its corresponding noun ‘ADONAY, appearing 432 times. ‘ADOWN means superior, master, or owner. When ‘ADOWN or ‘ADONAY refers to God, it is translated in the King James Version as “Lord,” with the first letter always capitalized. The most predominant word translated “LORD” in the O.T. is Y@HOVAH. It occurs 6,519 times and almost 50 times in its poetic form of YAHH. Y@HOVAH carries the idea of God as being the existing One, who is always present. The King James Version translates Y@HOVAH in the O.T. as “LORD,” using all capital letters in our English Bible. The true pronunciation of this Hebrew word is not certain, because it was believed that God’s name was too holy to pronounce. The word most often translated “Lord” in the N.T. is KURIOS, and it means one who is supreme in authority, the Master, Ruler, the one who has the right to control. It is sometimes translated “Sir” as a title of respect. The Greek Septuagint sometimes used KURIOS for the divine name “YAHWEH.” Some uses of the word “Lord” denote Christ’s deity, as in John 20:28 when Thomas confessed Jesus as “My Lord and my God” (emphasis mine). One of the reasons for Jesus’ death and resurrection was that He might be “Lord” of each individual who would personally trust in Him - “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living” (Romans 14:9).

The name “Jesus” is used 983 times in the New Testament, and it means “Jehovah is salvation.” This name was chosen by God and implies God’s saving work through His Son (Luke 1:30-31). He was named Jesus for He would “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus as Savior implies “a person who rescues another.” It is very much like someone who rescues a person from drowning so that person might live. Jesus rescues people from perishing so that they might have eternal life and live with Him (John 17:3 and 14:3).

The word “Christ” is used 571 times in the New Testament, and it means “the Messiah,” the one “anointed” to rule. God’s Son, Jesus, is the Christ.

Wesley: Our conversation — The Greek word is of a very extensive meaning: our citizenship, our thoughts, our affections, are already in heaven.

Verse 21.

“who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

TPT: 1) “the body of our humility.”

Our bodies are wonderful creations. But compared to the glorified bodies that await us, these mortal bodies are vile. The Lord will make our bodies glorious. God’s power is more than sufficient for the task.

If the Lord can give us a glorified body in the future, surely the healing of our bodies or the freedom from other bondages is no problem to Him now.

Wesley: Who will transform our vile body — Into the most perfect state, and the most beauteous form. It will then be purer than the unspotted firmament, brighter than the luster of the stars and, which exceeds all parallel, which comprehends all perfection, like unto his glorious body - Like that wonderfully glorious body which he wears in his heavenly kingdom, and on his triumphant throne.

Chapter 4.

Verse 1.

“Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.”

The word “therefore” ties what Paul says here to what he said previously. Paul spoke of the Lord giving us glorified bodies. Because of this wonderful reward to the faithful, we should therefore stand fast in the Lord.

Paul addressed the Philippians twice in this verse as “dearly beloved.” He also called them “my joy and crown.” Paul loved these saints; they were very special to him. What gave Paul joy was to see others experience the abundant life that God gives. All the lives changed by the power of God were like a crown that he wore proudly. (Philippians 3:13-14).

“Stand fast” is from one Greek word, “STEKO,” which describes a soldier who stands fast in the midst of battle. The strength and power of the Lord enables us stand and it keeps us from falling (Jude 24). Although this power is always available in Christians’ lives, it will not work automatically. It must be personally appropriated by faith. Day by day, moment by moment, Christians trust the power of the Lord, rather than their own power, for the victory over sin, the flesh, and the devil.

ESV. The Philippians spiritual success would be Paul’s crowning achievement and their perseverance and final victory will bring him great joy.

Wesley: So, stand — As ye have done hitherto.

Verse 2.

“I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.”

Euodia and Syntyche were women in the Philippian church who had labored with Paul in the Gospel (Philippians 4:3). There was a disagreement between them, and Paul beseeched them to reconcile. Paul told them to be of the same mind “in the Lord.” The only way we can ever come into unity is to submit to one another and each party considering the other as more important than themselves, especially in prayer.

Wesley: beseech — He repeats this twice, as if speaking to each face to face, and that with the utmost tenderness.

Verse 3.

“And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”

ESV. Reconciliation often requires 3rd party intervention.

The word “yokefellow” paints a picture of someone pulling together with Paul in the work of the Gospel, like yoked oxen. The strength of the oxen is increased by virtue of their being yoked together. The Today’s English Version translates this word as “faithful partner.”

Euodias, Syntyche, and Clement were fellow workers who labored with Paul in the Gospel. The word for “laboured” is “SUNATHLEO,” which means “strive together for” and “labour with.” “It is used of fighting a war or of a contest in an athletic arena.” It is also translated as “worked side by side” (The Living Bible), “worked hard with me” (Today’s English Version), “a help to me when I was fighting” (Jerusalem Bible), and “who shared my struggles” (New English Bible).

This is the only mention of Clement in Scripture. His name means “mild, merciful.” Some people think this is the same Clement who became the bishop of Rome around the end of the first century.

This is the only mention of the “book of life” by that name outside of Revelation. It is probable that the book spoken of in Daniel 12:1 is referring to this Book of Life. Jesus told us to rejoice because our names are written in heaven, implying the Book of Life. The Book of Life is referred to seven times in Revelation (Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; and 22:19), for a total of eight definite times in Scripture. We cannot enter God’s presence without our names being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27). Anyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life will spend eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). It is possible to have our names blotted out of the Book of Life (Revelation 3:5). There will be books that contain records of our deeds by which we will be judged. Apparently, having our names written in the Book of Life will supersede anything else written about us (Revelation 20:12).

Wesley: And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow — St. Paul had many fellowlabourers, but not many yokefellows. In this number was Barnabas first, and then Silas, whom he probably addresses here; for Silas had been his yokefellow at the very place, Acts 16:19.

Help those women who labored together with me — Literally, who wrestled. The Greek word doth not imply preaching, or anything of that kind; but danger and toil endured for the sake of the gospel, which was also endured at the same time, probably at Philippi, by Clement and my other fellow laborer - This is a different word from the former, and does properly imply fellow preachers. Whose names, although not set down here, are in the book of life - As are those of all believers. An allusion to the wrestlers in the Olympic games, whose names were all enrolled in a book. Reader, is thy name there? Then walk circumspectly, lest the Lord blot thee out of his book!

Verse 4.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice!”

Joy is something we have (having been placed within us at the new birth); rejoicing is something we do.

We “rejoice in the Lord” because He is joy and He is our joy. Our joy is in our born-again spirits. Joy doesn’t come from the outside in response to circumstances; it comes from the inside and is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). We always have joy, but we must choose to rejoice.

We are to rejoice in the Lord always. Is that unreasonable or impossible? Can we rejoice through bad times!” Yes, our rejoicing is in the Lord, not our circumstances.

To rejoice was a command from their apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is a command for us too. This is a law of the Lord. That removes any doubt we may have about not having ultimate authority over our emotions. If we continue to rejoice in Christ in faith, our emotions will eventually come into line.

The word “rejoice” is used, in some form, a total of 192 times in Scripture. Many reasons and occasions to rejoice are recorded. The following are just a few:

We are to rejoice in sufferings (Colossians 1:24) Paul was in prison when he wrote that command. Outward circumstances may sometimes be against us, but inward joy can always be ours because we are “in the Lord.” We may be content in all situations, for God’s Word says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5) and “in thy presence is fulness of joy” (Psalms 16:11). No matter what our circumstances, we can take great pleasure in and enjoy the Lord.

ESV. The joy that Paul calls for is not a happiness that depends on circumstances but that which comes from being in Christ.

Verse 5.

“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”

TPT (a). Could be translated “fairness.” Other translations say “reasonableness,” moderation.” Gentleness is a good translation also. (b): “The Lord is approaching.”

ESV. Reasonableness is the disposition that seeks the best for everyone and is crucial for unity. Jesus will return as judge and hold people accountable for their deeds.

The word for “moderation” is “EPIEIKES,” and it was translated “gentle” three times, “patient” one time, and “moderation” one time in the King James Version. NIV as “gentleness.” The NAS says, “Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.” The Amplified Bible says, “Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit).” This word “originally indicated a thoughtful, considerate, and decent outlook. Rather than hotly demanding his rights, this person seeks peace in a calm way.... This word is opposite of an angry harshness that grows out of personal pride and a dominating selfishness” (Expository Dictionary of Bible Words).

Notice that our moderation is to be known to all. We let our light shine all the time (Matthew 5:14-16). If we can’t be godly toward our customers or bosses, then we are not fulfilling this command.

Paul gave a reason for this godly trait of “moderation” to be displayed: “The Lord is at hand.” Jesus is coming soon, and we will soon face our Maker. Mankind needs to be ready, and we are God’s witnesses to get them ready. Therefore, we need to be about our Father’s business of leading people to the Light. To do so, we let our lights shine, or let our “moderation be known unto all men.”

Paul expressed his belief on other occasions that the second coming of the Lord was imminent. In 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, Paul told husbands the time was so short that they needed to act like they weren’t married. James made similar statements (James 5:8-9), and so did the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 4:7). If this was their perspective nearly 2,000 years ago, how much more should we expect the coming of the Lord.

Wesley: Let your gentleness — Yieldingness, sweetness of temper, the result of joy in the Lord.

Be known — By your whole behavior.

To all men — Good and bad, gentle and froward. Those of the roughest tempers are good natured to some, from natural sympathy and various motives; a Christian, to all.

The Lord — The judge, the rewarder, the avenger.

Is at hand — Stands at the door.

Verse 6.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

Wesley: Be anxiously careful about nothing - If men are not gentle towards you, yet neither on this, nor any other account, be careful, but pray. Carefulness and prayer cannot stand together.

In everything — Great and small.

Let your requests be made known — They who by a preposterous shame or distrustful modesty, cover, stifle, or keep in their desires, as if they were either too small or too great, must be racked with care; from which they are entirely delivered, who pour them out with a free and filial confidence.

To God — It is not always proper to disclose them to men.

By supplication — Which is the enlarging upon and pressing our petition.

With thanksgiving — The surest mark of a soul free from care, and of prayer joined with true resignation. This is always followed by peace. Peace and thanksgiving are both coupled together, Colossians 3:15.

ESV. Paul echoes Christ’s teaching in Mt.6:25-34 that we are not to be anxious. We are in the hands of a loving Father whose peace will guard us in Christ Jesus.

Womack. The word “anxious” means “uneasy and apprehension about something; worried.” We are not to be anxious about anything. How do we do that? We take our needs and problems to the Lord in prayer. Anxious people are people who haven’t thrown their problems over on the Lord. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Our supplications are made with thanksgiving. That’s important. Sometimes we tell the Lord our problems and call that prayer. But it can be complaining. When we voice our needs to Jesus and wrap them in thanksgiving, we move into the realm of faith. Thanksgiving with every prayer indicates that we are abounding in faith (Colossians 2:7) that Jesus loves us enough to listen and meet our needs.

We give thanks when we make our requests to God. A request is something asked for but not yet received. So, we thank the Lord for doing things before He does them. That’s faith.

We use prayer and supplication. Prayer is more than supplication; i.e., asking for something. The Greek word “PROSEUCHE,” translated “prayer” means “prayer (worship)” (Strong’s Concordance). We need to worship the Lord, which moves us into faith, and then make our supplication.

Verse 7.

“and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Womack: Paul speaks of God’s peace. Human peace is only experienced in the absence of problems. God’s peace is independent of problems and greater in supply than any problem we could ever have.

We have God’s supernatural peace because we don’t have to understand; we trust that God is in control. Faith in God allows us to experience peace that goes beyond our understanding.

God’s peace keeps our hearts and minds. Peace is like a fortress against the devil. Before Satan can get to our hearts, he has to get us to step out with God’s peace. Therefore, we “Let the peace of God rule in our heart.

ESV. An attitude of thanksgiving contributes to peace.

Wesley: And the peace of God — That calm, heavenly repose, that tranquility of spirit, which God only can give.

Which surpasses all understanding — Which none can comprehend, save he that receiveth it.

Shall keep — Shall guard, as a garrison does a city.

Your hearts — Your affections.

Your minds — Your understandings, and all the various workings of them; through the Spirit and power of Christ Jesus, in the knowledge and love of God. Without a guard set on these likewise, the purity and vigour of our affections cannot long be preserved.


Verse 8.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

ESV. We are to fill out minds with thoughts that will inspire worship of God and servive to others.

Wesley: Finally — To sum up all.

Whatsoever things are true — Here are eight particulars placed in two fourfold rows; the former containing their duty; the latter, the commendation of it. The first word in the former row answers the first in the latter; the second word, the second and so on.

True — In speech.

Honest — In action.

Just — With regard to others.

Pure — With regard to yourselves.

Lovely — And what more lovely than truth? Of good report - As is honesty, even where it is not practiced.

If there be any virtue — And all virtues are contained in justice.

If there be any praise — In those things which relate rather to ourselves than to our neighbor.

Think on these things — That ye may both practice them yourselves, and recommend them to others.

Womack: We are to keep our focus on (1) things that are true, (2) things that are honest, (3) things that are just, (4) things that are pure, (5) things that are lovely, (6) things that are of good report, (7) things with virtue, and (8) praise. The Amplified Bible ends this verse by saying “fix your minds on them.”

We think on things that are honest. The NIV and the Message translate this as “noble.” “Noble” means “having or showing qualities of high moral character.” The ASV translates this as “honorable,” while the Amplified Bible translates it as “reverence...honorable and seemly.”

The word from which “just” is translated means “equitable (in character or act); by implication, innocent, holy.”

The word from which “pure” is translated means “clean, i.e. (figuratively) innocent, modest, perfect”.

The Philippian believers were to reflect and meditate upon eight positive principles of thinking that would lead to victorious Christian living (Romans 8:6). The verb tense means we are to do something in the future that involves a continuous and repeated action. The eight principles of thought are:

  • things that are “true,” or honorable, truthful, and upright
  • things that are “honest,” or honorable, truthful, genuine, and not characterized by deception or fraud.
  • things that are “just,” or in accordance with what is right, or right conduct; any circumstance, fact, or deed that is right.
  • things that are “pure,” or free from defilement or impurity
  • things that are “lovely,” or pleasing, agreeable, and inspiring love or affection
  • a “good report,” or a saying or report that is positive and constructive, rather than negative and destructive.
  • “virtue,” or moral excellence, righteousness, and goodness
  • “praise,” or what is praiseworthy; expressing one’s esteem of others and their virtues

Paul advocated focusing on the good in every area of our lives. Failure to recognize God’s blessings in everyday living will bring us care and anxiety. Recognizing God’s hand in even the smallest things will cause peace and will keep our hearts and minds following hard after the Lord.

Verse 9.

“The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

It is not the hearers of God’s Word but the doers of God’s Word who are blessed. Paul admonished the Philippians to do what they had seen him do. That was no small task. See Acts 16.

Not only were the Philippian believers to think upon whatsoever was true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report (Philippians 4:8), but they were also to “put into practice” the things they had learned. The Living Bible renders this verse as “Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Wesley: he things which ye have learned — As catechumens.

And received — By continual instructions.

And heard and seen — In my life and conversation.

These do, and the God of peace shall be with you — Not only the peace of God, but God himself, the fountain of peace.

ESV. The Philippians are to practice what they have seen Paul do.

Verse 10.

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.”

Paul thanked the Philippians for their material ministry to him. They had such a long-standing desire. Paul was in transit to Rome for months, and then once he arrived in Rome, it took time for the Philippians to hear about it. Therefore, their desire was to help Paul, but they just didn’t have the opportunity.

A Philippian characteristic that made them special to Paul was that they were givers.

Paul didn’t primarily rejoice due to the material gift – he was content without “things” (Philippians 4:11). He rejoiced because their gift revealed their love for him, and he knew their seed gift would yield fruit to abound to their account (Philippians 4:17).

Verse 11.

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”

Wesley: In everything, therewith to be content — Joyfully and thankfully patient. Nothing less is Christian content. We may observe a beautiful gradation in the expressions, I have learned; I know; I am instructed; I can.

Womack: Paul knew the secret of contentment: It was finding all of his life in Christ and all of Christ’s life in him (Hebrews 13:5).

Paul learned to be content. Each of us has that capacity also. But just as we have the intellect to read, we have to learn how to do so. Paul had died to himself and was living totally for God (Philippians 1:21 and Galatians 2:20). He was dead to himself. This was the secret of his contentment. It isn’t hard to please dead people; they don’t have any needs. All depression and discontent center around selfishness.


Verse 12.

I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Paul was dead to his flesh; his physical condition was not a driving force in his life. A few people have majored on being abased to the point that they glory in it. But people who are dead to their flesh will be comfortable abounding also.

Wesley:  And to abound — Having wherewith to relieve others also. Presently after, the order of the words is inverted, to intimate his frequent transition from scarcity to plenty, and from plenty to scarcity.

I am instructed — Literally, I am initiated in that mystery, unknown to all but Christians.

Both to be full and to be hungry — For one day.

Both to abound and to want — For a longer season.

Verse 13.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“I can fulfill all the will of God in my life because the One living in me – abundantly provides me with His strength and ability.” (Brewer paraphrase).

I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] AMP

In context, Paul is speaking about handling lack and hardships that come with ministry. He overcame all adversity through Christ.

The same power that sustains us through hardships also enables us to do all things that the Lord leads us to do.

All of our ability to fulfill the Christian life is found in Christ – it’s Christ’s ability. It is not our ability that makes us strong but our availability – that allows Christ’s ability to come forth. “For when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). When Paul recognized his inability and relied on the Lord, then the Lord’s strength flowed through him.

Wesley: I can do all things — Even fulfil all the will of God.

Verse 14.

“Nevertheless, you have done well that you shared in my distress.”

Paul, no matter his circumstances, was content. But the Philippians had still done well in giving toward his needs. “Whoso hath this world’s good, and sees his brother have need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:17). It is godly to give to those in need and especially to ministers who have been a blessing to you.

Notice that Paul called his lack of having material necessities an “affliction.” (Psalms 22:24, Isaiah 63:9, Mark 4:17, 2 Corinthians 8:2, and James 1:27).

Verse 15.

“Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.”

Paul expressed his gratitude to the Philippians. Apparently, out of all the churches he had planted and ministered in, the Philippians were the only ones to support him after he left their area. See 2 Corinthians 11:23-30. He laid down his life for all the churches, and the majority took what he offered but didn’t honor the one who brought these truths to them.

Today’s English Version: “You Philippians know very well that when I left Macedonia in the early days of preaching the Good News, you were the only church to help me; you were the only ones who shared my profits and losses.”

Verse 16.

“For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.”

The Philippians sent offerings to Paul twice while he was in Thessalonica. Thessalonica was approximately ninety miles from Philippi.

TPT: Note believes that the church at Philippi supported Paul while he ministered in Thessalonica for a year.

Verse 17.

“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.”

Godly giving makes deposits into our account. Our gifts, when our motivation in giving is humility, faith and obedience to the Father, are not account debits but rather account deposits. Those deposits go into our future account, where they grow and multiply. The Lord gives a hundredfold interest on gifts that are given in faith.



Verse 18.

“Indeed, I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.”

The Philippians blessed Paul. What an encouragement this must have been. He had been in prison for over two years and had been through rejection and shipwreck. Yet here were converts through his ministry who pursued him relentlessly until they were able to give to his needs.

Verse 19.

“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Some people have used the word “need” to say that only the bare necessities are covered in this promise. The primary definition of the word “need,” according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is “a lack of something required or desirable.” The word “supply” came from the word “PLEROO,” which means “to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net)...satisfy” (Strong’s Concordance). It is the same word that was used in Philippians 4:18 and translated, “I am full.” The Lord is speaking of abundance. The Lord doesn’t want us to just barely get along. We see what the Lord’s standard of abundance is when Jesus turned the water into wine, and when He fed the 5,000, and when He fed the 4,000 (Mark 8:8).

Our needs are supplied “according to his riches in glory,” not according to the current economic climate. We should not fear recessions, layoffs, or small-town economies. God uses His resources in Glory to meet our needs. There is no shortage there.

Verse 20.

“Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Verse 21.

“Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.”

The word “saint” is not referring to one’s holiness; rather, it is a description of those who belong to Christ.

Verse 22.

“All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.”

“Caesar’s household” were the Christians who were servants and soldiers in the palace. Paul said in the first chapter of this letter (Philippians 1:12-13) that his bonds were known to all who were in the palace.




















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