Philippians 1:1 Commentary



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Philippians 1:1 Commentary

Philippians 1:1  Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are (PAPMPD)  in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: Paulos kai Timotheos douloi Christou Iesou pasin tois hagiois en Christo Iesou tois ousin (PAPMPD) en Philippois sun episkopois kai diakonois; 
Amplified: PAUL AND Timothy, bond servants of Christ Jesus (the Messiah), to all the saints (God’s consecrated people) in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops (overseers) and deacons (assistants): (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
NLT: This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. It is written to all of God's people in Philippi, who believe in Christ Jesus, and to the elders and deacons (
NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips:  Paul and Timothy, true servants of Jesus Christ, to the bishops, deacons and all true Christians at Philippi (
Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Paul and Timothy, bondslaves by nature, the property of Christ Jesus, to all the consecrated and separated ones in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, together with overseers and deacons. (
Young's Literal: Paul and Timotheus, servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with overseers and ministrants;


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Philippians - Q & A Format
Philippians Commentary
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1:1-6 God Finishes What He Starts
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1:1-11 The Ties That Bind
Philippians 1:1-11 Our Shared Experience
Philippians 1:1-8; Philippians 1-2 Survey
Philippians Commentary
Philippians Homilies
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1:1-2 (Recommended)

Philippians 1:3-6 Confident About Salvation
Philippians 1:3-8 True Christian Fellowship
Philippians 1:9-11 Discerning Love
Philippians 1:12-18 Happiness: Circumstances or Christ?
Philippians 1:19-26 What Are You Living For?
Philippians 1:19-26 A Christian Perspective on Death
Philippians 1:27-30 Christian Mission & How to Fulfill It

Philippians 1:1-2
Philippians 1:1-2 Paul’s Perspective as a Servant
Philippians 1:1-2 Greetings from Paul
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians - Easy English Commentary
Philippians 1:1-18a
Philippians 1 Commentary
The Epistle to the Philippians - Commentary
The Epistle to the Philippians Commentary
The Epistle to the Philippians
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1
Philippians 1:1-2 1:3-11
Philippians 1 Notes; Philippians 1:3-6
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1:1-2 The Greeting
Philippians Commentary
Philippians 1:1-6 What's To Be Happy About
Philippians 1:7-11 Love Like Jesus
Philippians 1:12-19 Making the Best of the Worst
Philippians 1:20-26 I'd Rather Be Dead
Philippians 1:27 - 2:4 United We Stand
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1 Commentary
The Epistle to the Philippians
Philippians 1:1-2 Salut D'Amor
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1:1-2 Introduction To Philippians
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1:1-2; 1:3-5 (Recommended)
Philippians 1:1-8 Loving Greetings
Philippians Mp3's - Thru the Bible
Philippians 1:1-2 The Vestibule of the Epistle
Philippians 1:21 Life and Death (ODW)
Philippians 1:29 (ODH)
Philippians 1:29 The Gift of Suffering
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1:1-11; Philippians 1:12-30
Philippians 1:1-8 God Finishes What He Starts

Philippians 1:1-8
Introduction Philippians 1:1a 1:1b 1:1c
Philippians 1:2 1:3
1:4 1:5 1:6 1:7a 1:7b 1:8
Philippians 1 Greek Word Studies

Philippians 1:1-8 The Good Work Of God
Philippians 1 Notes; Philippians 1
The Epistle to the Philippians
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1 Exposition
Philippians 1:1-2 The Servants
Philippians 1:1-2 The Saints
Philippians 1:1-2 The Overseers
Philippians 1:1-2 The Deacons

Philippians 1 Greek Word Studies
Philippians 1 Commentary
Philippians 1 Christ Shall Be Magnified
Philippians 1:1-11 Trees of Righteousness
Philippians 1:1-11
Philippians Illustrations
Philippians: Download lesson 1 of 16; Misc Helps
Philippians 1:1-2

PAUL: Paulos: (Acts 13:9;22:7;26:1,14)

Guy King introduces this letter with these comments...

THE opening of this Epistle is different from that of most in one very interesting particular. It is a difference shared by all three of the Macedonian Epistles - this, and the two to the Thessalonians - and by the little personal note to Philemon. It consists in the somewhat noteworthy absence of the word apostle. In all his other letters, Paul feels it incumbent upon him to remind his readers that he writes with all the weight that his sublime position gives him; he will have occasion to administer rebuke, and, sometimes, rather bluntly, to give directions - and lest, because he was their friend, they might treat his words not too seriously, he takes care to let them understand that he speaks with an authority, and that they must give due and proper heed to what he says.

But his case is otherwise when he writes to his beloved Philippians.

The church at Philippi", says Dr. Graham Scroggie, "was almost quite free from those errors which beset so many of the churches of that day"; and he goes on to quote Professor Findlay as saying, "This is an epistle of the heart, a true love letter, full of friendship, gratitude, and confidence.

There is, we feel, no need to obtrude his apostleship here; and so his opening greetings are not inappropriately described as a "salut d'amour" - his letter will be found to be full of, and his heart to be full of, Love. (King, Guy: Joy Way: An Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, 1952, Christian Literature Crusade)

Background: Read Acts 16:1ff, for the birth of the church at Philippi (After you read the chapter yourself see Bob Deffinbaugh's article The Birth of the Church at Philippi - Acts 15:36–16:40), keeping in mind that these events occurred during Paul's Second Missionary Journey after he and Barnabas had gone separate ways. In this fascinating and strategic chapter you will read  of Paul's selection of young Timothy to travel with him to Philippi. You will read about the first "European" convert named Lydia, a Gentile Asian from Thyatira in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) and a proselyte to Judaism. You will read about the Greek soothsayer, out of whom Paul cast a demon and who might have been a convert (although the text does not allow one to be dogmatic). And finally you will read about the first Roman convert in Europe, a jailer who would have had little class and social standing. This was the birth of the church at Philippi, a church that you will see as your read this letter was very special to Paul. Although specific dates are not given, it appears that the church at Philippi had its birth about 51AD. This epistle we know today as "Philippians" was written some 10 years later (about 61AD) by Paul during his first imprisonment in Rome. Keep these thoughts in mind as you read this letter in which he mentions several saints by name, indicating that despite the passage of the years, these saints have remained near and dear to the apostle's heart. What an example for leaders to emulate today!

For more on the introduction and book outline see Robert Herrick's Introductory Comments Introduction, Background, and Outline to Philippians or those by Daniel Wallace Philippians: Introduction, Argument, and Outline

Paul  (3972) is from Latin, Paulos meaning "little, small". Before his Damascus Road experience he was known by his Hebrew name Saul (Greek Saulos) which means "desired" or "ask" (derived from Hebrew word for "ask")

AND TIMOTHY: kai Timotheos: (For more on "Timothy"  Nave's Topical, Easton's, Smith's, ISBE)

Timothy (5095) (Timeotheos from Time = worth or merit of some object + theos =God) (24x in NAS) means literally "honoring God". The Greek word for "honor" has in it the ideas of reverence and veneration.

Bruce comments that...

Paul is the sole author of the letter, even if Timothy's name is conjoined with his in the prescript. (Quoted from Apple's Philippians Commentary)

Turner adds that

Timothy, who was not an apostle and did not have Paul's authority, was considered by Paul to be his equal when it came to servanthood. (Quoted from Apple's Philippians Commentary)

Lightfoot notes

The relationship between Timothy and the Philippian church had been constant and intimate.

Paul associates Timothy with himself in the greeting, because he is a co-laborer not because he is a co-author of the epistle, for from Phil 1:3 onward he writes in the first person singular and in Phil 2:19-23 he speaks of Timothy in the third person. Timothy had accompanied him when the church at Philippi was founded (Acts 16:1–12), had revisited it at his request (Acts 19:22), and had again accompanied him on the occasion of a later visit (Acts 20:4). So the Philippians were very familiar with him.

Matthew Henry offers an interesting thought that

Though Paul was alone divinely inspired, he joins Timothy with himself, to express his own humility, and put honour upon Timothy. Those who are aged, and strong, and eminent, should pay respect to, and support the reputation of, those who are younger, and weaker, and of less note.

BOND-SERVANTS: douloi: (Mk 13:34, Jn 12:26; 13:14, 15, 16; 15:15, 20, 2Cor 4:5; Gal 1:10; Php 1:1; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2Peter 1:1; Jude 1:1; Rev 1:1; 22:6,9)

Bondservant (1401) (doulos from deo = to bind) (Click additional notes on doulos) was an individual bound to another in servitude and conveys the idea of the slave's close, binding ties with his master, belonging to him, obligated to and desiring to do his will and in a permanent relation of servitude. In sum, the will of the doulos is consumed in the will of the master. 

A bondservant is one who surrendered wholly to another’s will and thus devoted to another to the disregard of his own interest. Paul and Timothy were not their own but had been bought with the price of the blood of Christ. They were now the property of our Lord Jesus Christ and were His slaves exclusively. No man can serve two masters (Mt 6:24-note). Paul and Timothy had been slaves of Sin (see note on "the Sin") by their birth into Adam's likeness, but now they are slaves of Christ by their new, second birth. They had no will of their own, no business of their own, no time of their own and were acting for their Master, Christ; dependent upon Him and obedient to Him.

Doulos is used 124 times (in 117 verses) in the NT (Mt 8:9; 10:24, 25; 13:27, 28; 18:23, 26, 27, 28, 32; 20:27; 21:34, 36, 37; 22:3, 4, 6, 8, 10; 24:45, 6, 48, 50; 25:14, 19, 21, 23, 26, 30; 26:51; Mk. 10:44; 12:2, 4; 13:34; 14:47; Lk. 2:29; 7:2, 3, 8, 10; 12:37, 43, 45, 46, 47, 14:17, 21, 22, 23; 15:22; 17:7, 9, 10; 19:13, 15, 17, 22; 20:10, 11; 22:50; Jn. 4:51; 8:34, 35; 13:16; 15:15, 20; 18:10, 18, 26; Acts 2:18; 4:29; 16:17; Ro 1:1; 6:16, 17, 20; 1 Co. 7:21, 22, 23; 12:13; 2Co 4:5; Gal. 1:10; 3:28; 4:1, 7; Ep 6:5, 6, 8; Phil. 1:1; 2:7; Col. 3:11, 22; 4:1, 12; 1Ti 6:1; 2Ti 2:24; Titus 1:1; 2:9; Philemon 1:16; James 1:1; 1Pe 2:16; 2Pe 1:1; 2:19; Jude 1:1; Re 1:1; 2:20; 6:15; 7:3; 10:7; 11:18; 13:16; 15:3; 19:2, 5, 18; 22:3, 6.

There are some 294 uses of doulos in the Septuagint (LXX) (Lev 25:44; 26:13; Deut. 32:36; Jos. 9:23; 24:29; Jdg. 2:8; 6:27; 9:28; 15:18; 1Sa 2:27; 3:9, 10; 8:14, 15, 16; 12:19; 13:3; 14:21, 41; 16:16; 17:9, 32, 34, 36; 19:4; 20:7, 8; 22:8, 14, 15; 23:10, 11; 25:10, 39; 26:17, 18, 19; 27:5, 12; 28:2; 29:3, 8; 30:13; 2Sa 3:18; 6:20; 7:5, 8, 19, 20, 21, 25, 27, 28, 29; 8:2, 6, 14; 9:2, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12; 10:2, 19; 11:9, 11, 13, 17, 21, 24; 12:18; 13:24, 35; 14:19, 20, 22, 30; 15:2, 8, 21, 34; 18:29; 19:5, 7, 14, 17, 20, 26, 27, 28, 35, 36, 37; 21:22; 24:10, 21; 1Ki. 1:19, 26, 27, 33, 47, 51; 2:38, 39, 40; 3:6, 7, 8; 5:6, 9; 8:12, 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, 31, 28, 29, 30, 36, 52, 56, 59, 66; 11:11, 13, 26, 32, 34, 36, 38; 12:7, 24; 15:29; 18:9, 12, 36; 20:9, 32, 39, 40; 21:28; 2Ki 1:13, 14; 4:1; 5:6, 15, 17, 18, 25; 6:3; 8:13, 19; 9:7, 36; 10:10, 19, 21, 22, 23; 12:20, 21; 14:5, 25; 16:7; 17:3, 13, 23; 18:12, 24; 19:34; 20:6; 21:8, 10; 22:9, 12; 24:1, 2; 1Chr 17:7, 18, 26; 2Chr 2:8; 6:23, 42; 28:10; 36:20; Ezra 2:65; 4:15; 5:11; 9:9, 11; Neh 1:6, 11; 2:10, 19, 20; 5:5; 7:57, 60, 67; 9:14, 36; 10:29; 11:3; Job 41:4; Ps 19:11, 13; 27:9; 31:16; 34:22; 35:27; 36:1; 69:36; 78:70; 79:2, 10; 80:4; 86:2, 4; 89:3, 20, 39, 50; 90:13, 16; 102:14, 28; 105:6, 17, 25, 26, 42; 109:28; 116:16; 119:17, 23, 38, 49, 65, 76, 84, 91, 122, 124, 125, 135, 140, 176; 123:2; 132:10; 134:1; 135:1, 9, 14; 136:22; 143:2, 12; 144:10; Pr 9:3; Eccl 2:7; 5:12; 7:21; 10:7; Is 14:2; 42:19; 45:14; 48:20; 49:3, 5, 7; 56:6; 63:17; 65:9; Je 2:14; 3:22; 7:25; 25:4; 46:27; La 5:8; Ezek 28:25; 34:23; 37:24, 25; 38:17; Da 3:26; 6:20; 9:6, 10, 11, 17; Joel 2:29; Amos 3:7; Jon 1:9; Hag 2:23; Zech 1:6; 3:8; Mal 1:6; 4:4)

Click the convicting poem He Had No Rights written by Mabel Williamson a missionary to China.

In the Greek culture doulos usually referred to the involuntary, permanent service of a slave, but the use in the epistles of Paul and Peter elevates the meaning of doulos to the Hebrew sense which describes a servant who willingly commits himself to serve a master he loves and respects (cp Ex 21:5, 6 Dt 15:12-16 discussed below).  By Roman times, slavery was so extensive that in the early Christian period one out of every two people was a slave! From at least 3000BC captives in war were the primary source of slaves.

Doulos speaks of submission to one's master The doulos had no life of his own, no will of his own, no purpose of his own and no plan of his own. All was subject to his master. The bondservant's every thought, breath, and effort was subject to the will of his master. In sum, the picture of a bondservant is one who is absolutely surrendered and totally devoted to his master. What a picture of Paul and Timothy's relation to their Lord! What an example for all believers of every age to emulate!

This word provides an incredible word picture of those who bound to their Lord Jesus Christ, Who had bought them with a price to be His own possession (cf 1Cor 6:20, Acts 20:28, Gal 3:13, Heb 9:12-note, 1Pe 1:18-note, Re 5:9-note, Titus 2:14-note, 1Pe 2:9-note).

By using doulos Paul is saying

"I am a slave to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am absolutely sold out to His will. I am willing to do whatever He tells me to do. I am willing to say whatever He tells me to say. I am willing to go wherever He leads me. I am a man who has made a choice. I am going to serve Him for all eternity."

Matthew Henry adds that...

"The highest honour of the greatest apostle, and most eminent ministers, is to be the servants of Jesus Christ; not the masters of the churches, but the servants of Christ."

Kenneth Wuest explains that a doulos as


 "the most abject, servile term used by the Greeks to denote a slave.  The word designated one who was born as a slave, one who was bound to his master in chords so strong that only death could break them, one who served his master to the disregard of his own interests, one whose will was swallowed up in the will of his master. Paul was born a slave of sin at his physical birth, and a bondslave of his Lord through regeneration. (Note: There was another word, andrapodon which was person taken prisoner in war and sold into slavery) The chords that bound him to his old master Satan, were rent asunder in his identification with Christ in the latter’s death (Ro 6). The chords that bind him to his new Master will never be broken since the new Master will never die again, and is Paul’s new life (Php 1:21-note,Col 3:3,4-note). He has changed masters because he has a new nature (2Cor 5:17, 2Pe 1:3,4-note), the divine, and the evil nature which compelled him to serve the Devil has had its power over him broken (Col 1:13-note, Heb 2:14, 15-note). Paul’s will, at one time swallowed up in the will of Satan, now is swallowed up in the sweet will of God.


The reader will observe how wonderfully God has watched over the development of the Greek language so that at the time it was needed as the medium through which He would give His New Testament revelation to the human race, its words were fit receptacles and efficient instruments for the conveyance of His message to man. Paul calls himself a bondslave of Christ Jesus... The apostle is proud of the fact that he is a slave belonging to his Lord. There were certain individuals in the Roman empire designated “Slaves of the Emperor.” This was a position of honor. One finds a reflection of this in Paul’s act of designating himself as a slave of the King of kings. He puts this ahead of his apostleship."  (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) (Bolding added)


The function of a doulos is to serve His Master. The great violinist, Niccolo Paganini willed his marvelous violin to city of Genoa on condition that it must never be played. The wood of such an instrument, while used and handled, wears only slightly, but set aside, it begins to decay. Paganini’s lovely violin has today become worm-eaten and useless except as a relic. A Christian’s unwillingness to serve His Master may also destroy his capacity for usefulness.

A Summary

The doulos...

Was owned by and totally possessed by his master.

     Existed for his master and no other reason.


     Had no personal rights.

     Was at the master’s disposal "24/7".

     Had no will of his own but was completely subservient to the master.

Paradoxically a bondservant of the Most High God is one of the most privileged, noblest professions in the world. Little wonder that notable men of God in the have always been called the servants of God. The list of names includes (use
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Moses (Dt 34:5 Ps 105:26 Mal 4:4)

Joshua (Josh 24:29)

David (2Sa 3:18 Ps 78:70)

Paul  (Ro 1:1-note; Phil 1:1; Titus 1:1-note)

Peter (2Pe 1:1-note)

James (James 1:1-note)

Jude (Jude 1:1 )

Prophets (Amos 3:7; Jer 7:25).

Ideally believers (Acts 2:18; 1Co 7:22; Ep 6:6-note; Col 4:12-note; 2Ti 2:24-note).

Guy King comments on the phrase bondservants of Christ Jesus writing...

Let it be said at once that the word here is the same as bond-slaves - a conception which would be vividly familiar to every reader of this Letter. Quite a number of them were, or had been, slaves themselves - and the word would catch their attention at once. I say "had been" of some, because the law of manumission (process of releasing from slavery) would have operated in their case - a price would have been paid, and the slave set free.

In his fascinating Light from the Ancient East, Dr. Deissmann, pp. 319 ff., has some most interesting paragraphs on this releasing of slaves (see note that follows); and, with his quick and ready mind, the late Archbishop Harrington Lees, in his CHRIST and His Slaves, made use of the learned Doctor's discoveries to point many a moral concerning spiritual servitude and release.

Paul's writings abound in allusions to this last phenomenon. The material and the spiritual are found together in such a passage as 1Corinthians 7:22,

He that is called in the LORD, being a servant, is the Lord's freedman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.

When a man becomes a Christian, though materially bound as a slave, he is spiritually freed from bondage to Satan and sin; on the other hand, such a man, though materially set at liberty, is, in the spiritual sense, bound hand and foot to CHRIST.

How Paul himself rejoiced - and even gloried - in this New Slavery. In his letters he so constantly uses the word as indicating his relationship to JESUS CHRIST. He would so readily enter into the attitude of the well-satisfied slave of Exodus 21:5, "I love my Master . . . I will not go out free."

From the bondage of sin, the believer has, by the manumission price of "the precious Blood", (1Pe 1:18, 19-notes), been set free-only to find himself thereby committed to a bondage more binding than ever. Yet, this time the "service is perfect freedom", the bonds are honourable and sweet.

And, for our encouragement, let us remember that

(i) The Master is responsible for His slaves' needs - feeding, housing, clothing, and all else is the slave owner's concern. It is because we are GOD'S servants (slaves) that our Lord says "Therefore . . . take no thought . . .", (Mt 6:24-
note; Mt 6:25-note), for the ordinary needs of life. Our apostle will say later in this very Epistle, "My GOD shall supply all your need." (see note Philippians 4:19)


(ii) The Master is responsible for His slaves' duties - they will not choose their own task, or their own sphere. Whether ours is to be the more menial, or the more genial, work is in His plan, not ours. It is the Christian's wisdom to stand before Him as those in 2Samuel 15:15, "Thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my Lord the King shall appoint", or as Gabriel in Luke 1:19, "I . . . stand. . . and am sent . . .".

Then, too

(iii) The Master is responsible for His slaves' supplies - "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges?" asks 1Corinthians 9:7: the soldier has all his military equipment provided; and likewise, the slave is supplied with everything needful for the adequate discharge of all his duties. Whatever He tells us to do, we can do - "If . . . God command thee . . . thou shalt be able to . . ." Exodus 18:23 - because all supplies are at our disposal. And as Paul records, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for thee". (Ibid)

Regarding the setting free of slaves in Paul's day, Deissmann records the following custom which has clear parallels with Paul's teaching on saints as bondslaves of Christ...

Among the various ways in which the manumission of a slave could take place by ancient law we find the solemn rite of fictitious purchase of the slave by some divinity. The owner comes with the slave to the temple, sells him there to the god, and receives the purchase money from the temple treasury, the slave having previously paid it in there out of his savings. The slave is now the property of the god; not, however, a slave of the temple, but a protégé of the god. Against all the world, especially his former master, he is a completely free man; at the utmost a few pious obligations to his old master are imposed upon him. The rite takes place before witnesses; a record is taken, and often perpetuated on stone. (Deissmann, A., & Strachan, L. R. M. Light from the Ancient East the New Testament illustrated by recently discovered texts of the Graeco-Roman world. Pager 326. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1910).

Dr Wayne Barber has an excellent practical explanation of the significance of a bondservant asking the practical question...

"Why do you serve the Lord Jesus Christ? "Well, I had better. God will kill me if I don’t." You know, I’ve talked to a lot of people who have that mentality. It is as if God has a big club and if you don’t do what He wants you to do, then He will hit you over the head with it. Yet God says, "Wait a minute. I have set you free. You are free now to be what you ought to be. Make up your mind. No man can serve two masters." The person who has any sense at all will say, "Lord, You have overwhelmed me. I am making a choice out of love for You to be Your slave. I know I am no longer Your slave, but I choose to be Your slave." Do you want to be used by the Lord? Come to the place in your life that you are willing to say, "God, it doesn’t matter what You tell me to do, I am willing to be submissive to Your will." When you come to that place, God will do things through you like He did through Paul. One picture of that is beautiful, and it is found in Deut 15:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17:

If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. And when you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the Lord your God has blessed you. And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. And it shall come about if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you; then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever. And also you shall do likewise to your maidservant. (Cp Ex 21:2, 3, 4, 5,6) (Related resources - see Spurgeon's sermon - Ears Bored to the Door Post; see Devotional by F B Meyer)

What a gorgeous picture. Slavery in that day and time was nothing like we know today. The slaves had to be treated as if they were your own children in your own family. You had to treat them with dignity and integrity. After they had served you for a period of time, you had to set them free. But the beautiful picture here is of a slave. He served a master for seven years. The master has loved him, provided for him, been kind to him, helped him, all the things that you would look for. Now the day comes that he has been set free. He is given of the flock, given of the threshing floor, given of the wine vat. This servant stands there, and he says, "You know, I have been so cared for during the seven years that I have worked with you, where would I go? I don’t know where I am going to go. Nobody would love me like you have loved me. Nobody would do for me what you have done for me. Why, I am going to choose to be your slave. I know you have set me free, but because of who you are and because of my love for you, I want to continue to be your slave. I want to do for you not because I have to but because I just want to." What a gorgeous picture. They had a public ceremony and they would take that little instrument and put it up by their ear and drive it through the ear into the door, leaving a hole in the ear. What a gorgeous picture when you see this slave walking alongside his master, smiling. You would see that man and you knew he had been with him seven years, maybe it is three years down the road past that seven years and you say, "Isn’t that wonderful! That man was set free and now that man has chosen to serve out of love for his master." Man looks on the outside. God looks at our heart. Why are you serving the Lord Jesus? If you don’t love Him, if you haven’t understood that nobody else will ever treat you like Jesus, then no wonder you are not being used of the Lord in the task He has assigned to His church. A man that God can use is a person who is willing to bow, a person who is willing to say, "God, I just want what You want in my life." ...God is waiting on us to love Him and to bow before Him and to make conscious choices. "God, you have given me everything. If I left you, where would I go? Lord, I want to serve you. No man can serve two masters. I want to serve You. I want to be usable in the kingdom of God." That is the Apostle Paul. He was a man who was willing, sold out to the will of God." (Click for additional notes by Dr. Barber on "bondservant)

Harry Ironside wrote that Paul...

"does not mean however that his was a service of bondage. Rather he served in the whole-hearted obedience of one who realized that he had been "bought with a price," even the precious blood of Christ. There is a story told of an African slave whose master was about to slay him with a spear when a chivalrous British traveler thrust out his arm to ward off the blow, and it was pierced by the cruel weapon. As the blood spurted out he demanded the person of the slave, saying he had bought him by his suffering. To this the former master ruefully agreed. As the latter walked away, the slave threw himself at the feet of his deliverer exclaiming, "The blood-bought is now the slave of the son of pity. He will serve him faithfully." And he insisted on accompanying his generous deliverer, and took delight in waiting upon him in every possible way. Thus had Paul, thus has each redeemed one, become the bondman of Jesus Christ. We have been set free to serve, and may well exclaim with the Psalmist (Ps 116:16).

A businessman once asked his Bible study group,

“How can you tell if you have a servant attitude?”

The reply came back...

“By the way you react when you are treated like one.”

It’s not easy to find an attitude like that. But for a disciple, servant-hood is one of the keys to growing in Christ-likeness.

Describing His own ministry, Jesus said:

“For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark10:45)

When we give Jesus Christ His rightful place as Lord of our lives, His Lordship will be expressed in the way we serve others. Therefore, one of the best ways we can demonstrate our love for God is by showing love for our fellow man. We demonstrate love for others by helping them, by sharing their problems, and by doing what we can for them. Why should we serve? For Jesus’ sake.

OF  CHRIST JESUS: douloi Christou Iesou:

Christ (5547) is a transliteration of the Greek word Christos (from chrio = to anoint, rub with oil, consecrate to an office) which is equivalent to the Hebrew word which is translated "Messiah", the Anointed One.

In the Gospels the Christ is not a personal name but an official designation for the expected Messiah (see Matthew 2:4, Luke 3:15). As by faith the human Jesus was recognized and accepted as the personal Messiah, the definite article ("the") was dropped and the designation "Christ" came to be used as a personal name. The name "Christ" speaks of His Messianic dignity and emphasizes that He is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises concerning the coming Messiah.

As discussed below the name "Jesus,"  comes from the Greek lesous, the Greek form of the Hebrew name "Joshua," which means "Jehovah saves." It was the name given Him by the angel before He was born (Luke 1:31 ; Matthew 1:21). His human name speaks of the fact of His Incarnation, His taking upon Himself human form to become our Savior.

The order "Jesus Christ" places the emphasis on the historical appearing of the man Jesus Who by faith was recognized and acknowledged as the Messiah. It proclaims the fact that "Jesus is the Christ." It speaks of Him Who came in human form, became obedient unto death,, and was afterward exalted and glorified. This order is, always followed in the epistles of Peter, John, James, and Jude.

The combination of Christós Iesoús emphasizes His deity and His humanity, fully God and fully man! "Christ Jesus" points to the theological fact that the One who was with the Father in eternal glory became incarnate in human form.

Vine adds the following interesting thoughts on the order of "Christ" before or after "Jesus" writing that

Christ Jesus" describes the Exalted One who emptied Himself (Php 2:5), and testifies to His preexistence; "Jesus Christ" describes the despised and rejected One who was afterwards glorified (Php 2:11), and testifies to His resurrection. "Christ Jesus" suggests His grace, "Jesus Christ" suggests His glory.

Wuest adds that

We have therefore in these two names, the Messianic office of our Lord, His deity, and His substitutionary atonement.

Daniel 9:25 refers to Jesus as "Messiah the Prince" (see Daniel's Seventieth Week) where the Hebrew word for Messiah is Mashiyach (4899) a word which in the OT implied an anointing from God for a special function.

The expression "of Christ Jesus" is literally "in Christ Jesus" ("in" is the literal translation of the preposition "en" - see note by Wuest below) and similar expressions such as "in Christ," "in the Lord," and "in the Lord Jesus" frequently punctuate Philippians. It was a union with Christ in which the saints shared Christ’s resurrection life (Phil 3:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 -notes). Though they were a special group in the city of Philippi, they were special there because they were first special "in Christ Jesus." These words indicate how extraordinary was the context in which this letter must be set.

Jesus is derived from Joshua or Jehoshua  [yehoshua'] meaning “Yahweh is salvation" or "Jehovah His help" or "Jehovah saves".  It is interesting to read the comment by Jesus' contemporary, Josephus, the Jewish historian, explaining Who Jesus was. Josephus writes

"(63) Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; (64) and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day." {Note that Josephus acknowledges both Jesus as Man & Messiah as well as substantiating the facts about His crucifixion & resurrection (so in essence Josephus is acknowledging "the gospel")  (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, chapter 3, paragraph 3)

TO ALL THE SAINTS IN CHRIST JESUS: pasin tois hagiois en Christo Iesou: (Ro 1:7; 1Co 1:2; 2Co 1:1; Ep 1:1 1:15; 2Th 1:10)

"To all (without exception) the holy ones, set apart by the Spirit for God the Father, in covenant and union with Messiah Jesus"

"to everyone who is united with Christ Jesus" (GWT)

"to all God's holy people" (ICB)

"It is written to all of God's people in Philippi" (NLT)

All (3956) occurs seven times in this first nine verses (and 32 times in only 4 chapters so it is a key word) and conveys the meaning of all without exception.

In this context all...saints refers to

even the meanest (low in rank or birth), the poorest, and those of the least gifts. Christ makes no difference; the rich and the poor meet together in him: and the ministers must not make a difference in their care and tenderness upon these accounts. (Matthew Henry).

James echoes this thought of equality at the "foot of the Cross" writing...

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. (Jas 2:1)

How are you doing in regard to your regard for your all your spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus? Paul sets the bar "high" and only those controlled by the Spirit of Christ (Ep 5:18-note) can attain to this high Christ like standard (cp Php 2:3-note).

JFB adds that the all

"implies comprehensive affection which desired not to forget any one among them "all."

Guy King remarks that Paul begins by addressing his readers ...

in terms of their relationship to the LORD JESUS CHRIST: and that must, of course, ever be remembered to be the true starting-point of all Christian experience, and all Christian instruction. We do well, in taking up the study of any of the Epistles, to enquire carefully into that matter of where we stand in reference to Him.

The Epistles are, in a fundamental sense, the property of believers - they have, except incidentally, nothing to say to the people of the world - their message is addressed to the Church, the members of His body - their teaching is to be grasped and enjoyed only by those who have been truly "born again" of the same SPIRIT who inspired the writing of the Epistles. We are, therefore, not wasting time if we pause to ask ourselves about our relationship to CHRIST - have we, indeed, received Him into our hearts and lives, as our own personal SAVIOUR? Only so, have we legitimate entrance to this Treasure House; if so, we have undisputed access to all its Treasure Trove. Our relationship to Him then determines both how we get into it, and what we get out of it.

Note what is said here concerning that relationship, for the terms employed are applicable to all believers - both to Paul and Timothy who send forth the Epistle, and to the original, and all subsequent, readers of it: you and me amongst them...

All GOD'S people are thus designated (saints) - the sense of the word being "set apart", or "consecrated"; and this quite irrespective of personal character. As Lightfoot points out,

Even the irregularities and prolificacies of the Corinthian Church do not forfeit it this title.

Yet, be it said that those who are positionally holy are expected to be practically holy.

I am always intrigued by the way it is put in Ro 1:7
(note), and in 1Corinthians 1:2, called to be saints - where the "to be" is printed in italics, as indicating that those words are not in the Greek but are introduced by the translators to give what they deem to be the sense. But just "called saints" would be accurate, wouldn't it?

In this very Epistle they are called saints, and in others; it is one of GOD'S names for His own.

Yes, but as soon as we are called saints we are called to be saints! To be what we are.

There would be something wrong about a prince living like a pauper, about an Englishman masquerading as an alien, about a grown-up person behaving like a child - no. Let's be what we are. If, by GOD'S mercy and grace, we are Christians, let us in all things comport ourselves as such: if we are called saints, we are most assuredly called to be saints: let our conduct, then, be as becometh saints, Ep 5:3 (note), in all respects.

What a tremendous impression would be made upon the world if only we Christians were what we are. It is one of the world's most damaging accusations against us that we do not act up to our profession. A Christian is a "CHRIST'S one": let him, then, be Christly - to use the word that W. Y. Fullerton was so fond of.

Come now, how much of this true saintliness is there about us? Never mind about considering, or criticizing, others - what about ourselves, you and me: do Name and Nature coincide? Whether we be "bishops", "presbyters", (Lightfoot), or "deacons", or members of the rank and file, we are all to be saints.

Here, then, in these two great words, servants and saints, we have the apostle's description of Christians everywhere. (Ibid)

 Saints (40) (hagios = set apart ones, separated ones, sanctified ones, holy ones) is literally a holy one and depending on the context refers to whoever or whatever is set apart (sanctified) for a special purpose.

Saints have been supernaturally set apart (sanctified by the Holy Spirit, 1Pe 1:2-note; 2Th 2:13, Ro 15:16-note, Acts 20:32, 26:18, 1Co 1:30, 6:11) for a special purpose (cp s 43:7, Ep 2:10-note, Mt 5:16-note, Php 2:15-note), set apart from the world (Gal 6:14, cp Jas 4:4, 1Jn 2:15, 16, 17), the power of Sin and the fallen flesh (Ro 6:6-note, Ro 6:11-note, Ro 6:12, 13, 6:14-note) and the dominion of the devil (Col 1:13-note, Acts 26:18, Heb 2:14, 15-note) and unto God (Ro 14:7, 8, 9-notes).

Hagios is Paul's favorite description of believers and designates the believer's position in Christ (see discussion of in Christ and in Christ Jesus) as holy or set apart from that which is secular, profane, and evil and dedicated unto God, His worship and His service (note order - worship before service, cp Mary and Martha - Lk 10:38, 39, 40, 41, 42).

Saints are now to live in this present evil age (Gal 1:4) in a manner which reflects what we were redeemed and "re-created" to be (1Pe 2:24, 25-note; cp 2Co 7:1 - note) --- holy ones in character (character is what God knows we are; reputation is who other people think we are) and conduct, set apart by God to be exclusively His possession (1Co 6:19, 20, Titus 2:14-note) manifesting holiness of heart.

Contrary to some religious teachings, the Bible itself never uses the word hagios or saint to refer to a "special class" of believers who are a "notch above" the rest. We are all equal at the foot of His Cross! (cp 2Cor 3:5,6, saints have "a faith of the same kind" as Peter! - 2Pe 1:1-note)

To reiterate, those who are holy in position (in Christ) now have the responsibility (and the power) to live holy in their experience (Christ like). Positional holiness is tantamount to justification, while experiential holiness represents progressive sanctification (growth in holiness or Christ likeness). (See related topic - Three Tenses of Salvation)

Hagios is used some 232 times in the NT in the NAS - Mt 1:18, 20; 3:11; 4:5; 7:6; 12:32; 24:15; 27:52, 53; 28:19; Mk. 1:8, 24; 3:29; 6:20; 8:38; 12:36; 13:11; Lk 1:15, 35, 41, 49, 67, 70, 72; 2:23, 25, 26; 3:16, 22; 4:1, 34; 9:26; 10:21; 11:13; 12:10, 12; Jn. 1:33; 6:69; 14:26; 17:11; 20:22; Acts 1:2, 5, 8, 16; 2:4, 33, 38; 3:14, 21; 4:8, 25, 27, 30, 31; 5:3, 32; 6:5, 13; 7:33, 51, 55; 8:15, 17, 19; 9:13, 17, 31, 32, 41; 10:22, 38, 44, 45, 47; 11:15, 16, 24; 13:2, 4, 9, 52; 15:8, 28; 16:6; 19:2, 6; 20:23, 28; 21:11, 28; 26:10; 28:25; Ro 1:2, 7; 5:5; 7:12; 8:27; 9:1; 11:16; 12:1, 13; 14:17; 15:13, 16, 25, 26, 31; 16:2, 15, 16, 1Co 1:2; 3:17; 6:1, 2, 19; 7:14, 34; 12:3; 14:33; 16:1, 15, 20; 2Co. 1:1; 6:6; 8:4; 9:1, 12; 13:12, 13; Ep 1:1, 4, 13, 15, 18; 2:19, 21; 3:5, 8, 18; 4:12, 30; 5:3, 27; 6:18; Php 1:1; 4:21, 22; Col 1:2, 4, 12, 22, 26; 3:12; 1Th 1:5, 6; 3:13; 4:8; 5:26; 2Th 1:10; 1Ti 5:10; 2Ti 1:9, 14; Titus 3:5; Philemon 1:5, 7; He 2:4; 3:1, 7; 6:4, 10; 8:2; 9:1, 2, 3, 8, 12, 24, 25; 10:15, 19; 13:11, 24; 1Pe 1:12, 15, 16; 2:5, 9; 3:5; 2Pe 1:18, 21; 2:21; 3:2, 11; 1Jn 2:20; Jude 1:3, 14, 20; Re 3:7; 4:8; 5:8; 6:10; 8:3, 4; 11:2, 18; 13:7, 10; 14:10, 12; 16:6; 17:6; 18:20, 24; 19:8; 20:6, 9; 21:2, 10; 22:11, 19) There are some 523 uses of hagios in the Septuagint (LXX)

In the Old Testament many things and people were divinely set apart by God for His own purposes. The Tabernacle and Temple and all their furnishings-supremely the Ark of the Covenant and the holy of holies-were set apart to Him. The tribe of Levi was set apart for His priesthood, and the entire nation of Israel was set apart as His people. The tithes and offerings of the people of Israel consisted of money and other gifts specifically set apart for God. Under the New Covenant, however, such holy things as the Temple, priesthood, Ark, and tithes no longer exist. God’s only truly holy things on earth today are His people, those whom He has sovereignly and graciously set apart for Himself through Jesus Christ. The new temple of God and the new priesthood of God are His church.

Hagios is used throughout the New Testament to speak of anyone or anything that represents God’s holiness: Christ as the Holy One of God, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, holy Scriptures, holy angels, holy brethren, and so on. The secular and pagan use pictured a person separated and dedicated to the idolatrous "gods" and carried no idea of moral or spiritual purity. The manmade gods were as sinful and degraded as the men who made them and there simply was no need for a word that represented righteousness! The worshipper of the pagan god acquired the character of that pagan god and the religious ceremonies connected with its worship. The Greek temple at Corinth housed a large number of harlots who were connected with the "worship" of the Greek god. Thus, the set-apartness or holiness of the Greek worshipper was in character licentious, totally depraved, and sinful. 

The Bible writers could not coin new terms since they would not be understood, and were therefore forced to use those already in use. However, while the technical and root meanings of this pagan religious term was taken over by the writers, yet by the use in the NT, the moral and spiritual character was changed and elevated by the gospel.

Kenneth Wuest writes that...

"The believer in the Lord Jesus is set apart for God by the Holy Spirit, out of the First Adam with the latter’s sin and condemnation, into the Last Adam (Christ) with the latter’s righteousness and life. Thus, the worshipper of the God of the Bible partakes of the character of the God for Whom he is set apart. This is positional sanctification, an act of God performed at the moment a sinner puts his faith in the Lord Jesus (1Co 1:2). The work of the Holy Spirit in the yielded saint, in which He sets the believer apart for God in his experience, by eliminating sin from his life and producing His fruit, a process which goes on constantly throughout the believer’s life, is called progressive sanctification (1Th 5:23-note). When our Lord sanctifies Himself, He sets Himself apart for God as the Sacrifice for sin (Jn 17:19, He 10:7-note)."(Ibid)

The idea inherent in hagios is the taking something filthy, washing it and setting it apart as something brand new, useful for a different purpose, which is a picture of salvation for we who were filthy with sin were washed in the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, and set apart to now be God's own possession.


Saints have been set apart from the world "delivered (rescued)...from the domain of darkness" (Col 1:11-13) "by the sanctifying work of the Spirit" (1 Pet 1:2) unto God Who "transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Col 1:13)


The fundamental ideas of a saint include...

One who is separated from sin (cf Ro 6;11, 12, 13, 14-notes)
One who then has the responsibility to choose to consecrate themselves daily to God as "living sacrifices" (Ro 12:1-
One who is devoted to His service
One who is a partaker of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4-
One who continually chooses to abstain from worldly defilement (
1Th 4:3-note 1Th 5:22-note, 2Ti 2:19-note, 1Pe 2:11-note)

Although the saint lives in the world, he or she must always in one sense be different from the world and continually choose to separate himself or herself from the world. His standards are not the world's standards. (click for expository note on Romans 12:2 regarding not being squeezed into world's mold) He is "in the world" but not "of the world". 

A saint is like a boat -- the boat's purpose is fulfilled when it is in the water, but it's function and usefulness deteriorates when water gets in the boat. So too for saints when too much of the world gets into them. Saints must keep their "vessels" in the water of this word but not let the water of the world get into their "vessel"! Paul has a parallel thought writing to young Timothy to take of the truth that

"if a man cleanses himself from these (things, people that have an unholy influence), he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified (hagiazo - verb form of saint), useful to the Master, prepared for every good work." (see note 2 Timothy 2:21)

A Chinese proverb speaks to those saints trying to live in the world and of the world...

One foot cannot stand on two boats!

The term saints does it refer to a condition after death, for these "saints" were very much alive at Philippi. Although you may have been taught that saints are a special, higher order of Christians who accomplished extraordinary good deeds and lived an exemplary life, the Bible teaches that sainthood is not  an attainment but a state into which God by grace through faith calls men and women of all stations of life, whether under the Old or New Covenant. So now next time you meet a believer, address then as "Saint so-and-so" and watch the reaction! It goes without saying however that we often do not think or act like saints, in the popular sense. But hagios speaks of our identity (or our position) in Christ. We are holy ones in our Lord, even when we are unfaithful and act unsaintly. Being a saint has nothing at all to do with one’s degree of spiritual maturity or rank. It refers to any person who is saved, who is set apart by God for Himself in His Son Jesus Christ. Because God sees us as He sees His Son, as "those who have been sanctified (consecrated, purified, made holy) in Christ Jesus, saints by calling." (1Co 1:2) Like all other believers, the Christians at Corinth were not saints because of their spiritual maturity (cf. 1Co 3:1, 2, 3), but because they were “saints by calling,” a reference to their call to salvation.

Moule writes that saints are...

Holy ones; men separated from sin to God. The word takes the man, or the community, on profession; as being what they ought to be. This is not to lower the native meaning of <he word, but to use a well-understood hypothesis in the application of it. A saint is not merely a professing follower of Christ, but a professing follower assumed to be what he professes. He who is not this is in name only and not in deed a saint, faithful, a child of God, and the like. (The Epistle to the Philippians)

Wuest adds that...

"The word "saint" is the translation of a Greek word meaning "to set apart," in its verb, and "set apart ones," in its noun form. The pagan Greeks set apart buildings as temples, consecrating them for non-secular, and therefore, religious purposes. These became the objects of veneration and reverence. Thus, saints are believing sinners set apart from sin to holiness, set apart from Satan to God, thus being consecrated for Gods’ sacred fellowship and service. The word "saint" as a designation of a Christian, brings at once to our attention the duty of every believer, that of living a separated life. The words, "saint, sanctify, holy," are all translations of this same Greek root. They all speak of the absolute separation from evil and dedication to God, that must always be true of the Christian believer." (Ibid)

Matthew Henry comments that

Saints are accepted only by virtue of their being in Christ Jesus, or as they are Christians. Out of Christ the best saints (Ed note: are "ain'ts so to speak) will appear sinners, and unable to stand before God.

In other words saint describes every believer's position in Christ now - set apart from the secular, profane and evil and dedicated to worship and service of the Living God.

In Christ Jesus (see studies on in Christ and in Christ Jesus)- In is locative of sphere meaning that their sainthood was in the sphere of Christ but this "position and privilege" was not due to the fact that someone called them a "saint" (granting them "sainthood"). There location in this new sphere (Christ) marked them as distinct from being in the sphere of a pagan deity as the term was commonly used in the so-called "mystery" religions of Paul's day. Christ is the sphere in which the believer has his new life and all his interests and activities. As a goldfish lives and breathes and moves in the sphere of the aquarium, so too saints live in the sphere and influence of Christ Jesus their Lord. Stated another way, the believer’s new existence is circumscribed by Christ our life (Col 3:4-note). Click for the fifty occurrences of this phrase "in Christ Jesus" and note who uses this phrase most frequently!

William MacDonald makes an interesting observation that

In Christ speaks of their spiritual position. When they were saved, God placed them in Christ, “accepted in the beloved.” (Ep 1:6-note) Henceforth, they had His life and nature (2Pe 1:4-note). Henceforth, they would no longer be seen by God as children of Adam (1Co 15:22) or as unregenerate men, but He would now see them in all the acceptability of His own Son. The expression in Christ conveys more of intimacy, acceptance, and security than any human mind can understand. The geographical location of these believers is indicated by the expression who are in Colossae (or Philippi as is the case in this letter). (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or Logos)

As Paul says later For to me to live is Christ (Php 1:21 -note) emphasizing that the new life Paul has is actually a person, the Person Christ Jesus, and the result is a Christ-centered, Christ-like life, a life the dying world desperately needs to see in the saints!

Guy King in his exposition of Philippians comments on the phrase in Christ writing that...

Herein lay

(a) Their protection from evil life. The moral condition of a heathen city would be a constant peril to any new converts, especially as they themselves had but just recently come out of that very heathenism. Philippi may not have been so utterly debased as Corinth, or Rome, but its atmosphere must have been a subversive influence threatening any who would live pure and true. Yet, they could be kept safe. Christians must, of course, remain in such hostile surroundings, for CHRIST must have there, as Mt 5:13
(note), Mt 5:14 (note) teaches, the salt, the light, and the testimony.

So He Himself prays "not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil", John 17:15.

That keeping, that protection, is ministered to us in the fact of our being, not only "in the world", but more closely, "in Christ."

A shipwrecked man writes a message, and throws it into the sea, in the hope that it may reach some shore. But will not the water damage and destroy it? No; for, while it is cast into the sea, it is first sealed in a bottle - and so it arrives. Yes; in Philippi, with all its destructive influences, but "in Christ" - so they are secure, and so, in spite of all antagonistic forces, they arrive at "the haven where they would be." Herein lay also

(b) Their possibility of holy life. We are called not only to a negative but to a positive life - "eschew (abstain from) evil, and do good", as 1Pe 3:11 (note) says. But how can a holy life be lived in such unholy surroundings?

Mark that little water-spider going down to the bottom of that pond. It doesn't really belong there, even as we believers are: "in the world" ...but not of it, John 17:11, 16. The little creature has the queer, and amazing, ability of weaving a bubble of air around itself, and hidden in that it is able to pursue its way even amid such inimical conditions - in the water, but in the bubble!

So we come back to our glorious truth - in Philippi, but "in Christ"; then even in the midst of the most uncongenial surroundings, the Christ-life can be lived.  (King, Guy: Joy Way: An Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, 1952, Christian Literature Crusade) (Bolding added)

As Wuest writes

Here again we have separation, for that which surrounds the believer, namely, Christ in Whom he is ensphered, separates him from all else. (Ibid)

MacArthur notes that 

A Buddhist does not speak of himself as in Buddha, nor does a Muslim speak of himself as in Mohammed. A Christian Scientist is not in Mary Baker Eddy or a Mormon in Joseph Smith or Brigham Young. They may faithfully follow the teaching and example of those religious leaders, but they are not in them. Only Christians can claim to be in their Lord, because they have been made spiritually one with Him (cf. Ro 6:1, 2, 3, 4,5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

William Barclay adds

that when Paul spoke of the Christian being in Christ, he meant that the Christian lives in Christ as a bird in the air, a fish in the water, the roots of a tree in the soil. What makes the Christian different is that he is always and everywhere conscious of the encircling presence of Jesus Christ. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

Barclay goes on to explain that

A Christian always moves in two spheres. He is in a certain place in this world; but he is also in Christ. He lives in two dimensions. He lives in this world whose duties he does not treat lightly; but above and beyond that he lives in Christ. In this world he may move from place to place; but wherever he is, he is in Christ. That is why outward circumstances make little difference to the Christian; his peace and his joy are not dependent on them. That is why he will do any job with all his heart. It may be menial, unpleasant, painful, it may be far less distinguished than he might expect to have; its rewards may be small and its praise non-existent; nevertheless the Christian will do it diligently, uncomplainingly and cheerfully, for he is in Christ and does all things as to the Lord. We are all in our own Colosse, but we are all in Christ, and it is Christ who sets the tone of our living." Barclay describes an ideal state writing that "There is the life that is dominated by the Spirit of God. As a man lives in the air, he lives in Christ, never separated from him. As he breathes in the air and the air fills him, so Christ fills him. He has no mind of his own; Christ is his mind. He has no desires of his own; the will of Christ is his only law. He is Spirit-controlled, Christ-controlled, God-focused."  (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press)

Boice (in his commentary on Ephesians) also comments on in Christ noting that...

The phrases in Christ, in Him, or the equivalent occur nine times just in Ephesians 1:3-23. They occur 164 times in all Paul’s writings. The phrases mean more than just believing on Christ or being saved by His atonement. They mean being joined to Christ in one spiritual body so that what is true of Him is also true for us...This is a difficult concept, and the Bible uses numerous images to teach it to us: the union of a man and woman in marriage (Ep 5:22-33-notes), the union of the vine and the branches (John 15:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17), the wholeness of a spiritual temple in which Christ is the foundation and we the individual stones (Ep 2:20, 21, 22 - see notes Ep 2:20; 21; 22), the union of the head and other members of the body in one organism (1Co 12:12-27). But whether we understand it or not, union with Christ is in one sense the very essence of salvation. John Murray, an able expositor of this theme, wrote,

Union with Christ has its source in the election of God the Father before the foundation of the world and it has its fruition in the glorification of the sons of God. The perspective of God’s people is not narrow; it has the expanse of eternity. Its orbit has two foci, one the electing love of God the Father in the counsels of eternity, the other glorification with Christ in the manifestation of His glory. The former has no beginning, the latter has no end. (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955)

Apart from Christ our condition is absolutely hopeless. In Him our condition is glorious to the extreme. (Boice, J. M.: Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary) (Bolding added)

WHO ARE IN PHILIPPI: tois ousin (PAPMPD) en Philippois:


In Philippi defines the saints temporal, passing, geographic location.


In Christ Jesus (as discussed in detail above) defines the saints' eternal, permanent, spiritual location.


In Christ Jesus describes their position. In Christ Jesus is the intimate, living union between a believer and his Lord. He is now our life (Gal 2:20-note, Col 3:4-note). He is our strength. He is our sufficiency. He is our all in all. Does this describe your experience? It is what the Father desires for you.

comments that Philippi  (click for an excellent pictorial tour) was...

a city of Macedonia, the northern province of Greece, the southern being Achaia. From Neapolis (click map), the seaport of the city, nine miles to the southeast, the road ran over a rocky pass. Philippi derived its name from Philip of Macedon, who fortified an ancient village called Crenides (Fountains). In 42 b.c. Caesar Augustus granted it the status and privileges of a Roman colony. Thereupon the inhabitants enjoyed all the rights of Roman citizenship, such as freedom from arbitrary detentions and penalties. They had their own senate and magistrates, and were governed according to Roman law. The officials responsible for order were the strategoi (chief magistrates Acts 16:35) with their attendant "sergeants," or lictors (rhabdouchoi, lit. rodbearers). It was the duty of the latter to scourge criminals with rods of steel at the command of the magistrates. This was the "beating" recorded in Acts 16:22 (note), and to which Paul refers in Php 1:30 (note) and in 1Th 2:2 (see note). The Egnatian Way, the great Roman road stretching across the peninsula, lay through Philippi, and enhanced the commercial and military importance of the city.

The statement in Acts 16:12 (note) that it was a city of Macedonia, the first of the district, might, indeed, be understood to mean that it was the first in the province to be reached by Paul and his companions, but more probably the reference is to its importance. The number of Jews in Philippi must have been inconsiderable. There is no mention of a synagogue (ISBE Article) there, presumably because there were not the ten men necessary to its constitution. By the riverside, however, the travelers found a proseuche or "place of prayer," where the principal, if not the only, persons present were women. There, and in this modest way, the first gospel campaign in Europe was opened. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson or Logos)

A. T. Robertson notes that Philippi was...

"a colony [kolonia Acts 16:12] with all the privileges of Roman citizenship, such as freedom from scourging, freedom from arrest save in extreme cases, and the right of appeal to the emperor. This Latin word occurs here alone in the NT. Octavius planted here a colony of Roman veterans with farms attached, a military outpost and a miniature of Rome itself. The language was Latin. Here Paul is face to face with the Roman power and empire in a new sense. He was a new Alexander, come from Asia to conquer Europe for Christ, a new Caesar to build the Kingdom of Christ on the work of Alexander and Caesar. One need not think that Paul was conscious of all that was involved in destiny for the world. Philippi was on the Egnatian Way, one of the great Roman roads, that ran from here to Dyrrachium on the shores of the Adriatic, a road that linked the east with the west."

Dwight Pentecost has an interesting description of the history of Philippi explaining that...

Rome in its conquest of the Middle East had been engaged in a war against Macedonia. History tells us the Roman army ran out of salt, and it was with salt that Roman soldiers were paid. (From this we get our expression that “a man is not worth his salt.”) The Roman legions threatened to defect and return home from the battle, which meant Macedonia would remain unconquered. The people of Philippi preferred to be ruled by the Romans rather than by the Macedonians, so they collected a great amount of salt and turned it over to the Roman army, and thus the soldiers were paid. They continued in their conquest and defeated the Macedonians, incorporating Macedonia into the Roman Empire. As a reward to the citizens of Philippi, the Roman emperor conferred upon them the status of a colony. This meant they had the same rights and privileges as Roman citizens as did the residents of the city of Rome. They were under the special, protective care of the emperor; they had all the privileges afforded by Roman law. Like residents of Rome, they were given privileges of freedom from taxation. They had been made Romans although they lived in Macedonia. As a consequence, many of the Roman soldiers chose to settle in Philippi instead of returning to Italy after they had completed their military service. Thus Philippi became a little Rome: Roman in its loyalties, Roman in its law, Roman in its philosophy and outlook. It was here the apostle came to begin to penetrate the continent of Europe with the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith. (Pentecost, J. D. The Joy of Living: A study of Philippians. Kregel Publications)

Rienecker adds that Philippi was

founded by Philip of Macedonia (whose name the city bore) and the scene of the battle between Crasus and Brutus against Octavian and Anthony, was located n the Via Egnatia, the famous road between Rome & the East. It had become a Roman colony (ISBE article) with libertas (self-governing), immunitas (freedom from tribute and taxes), lus Italicum (under the laws of Italy) and was the home of many retired Roman soldiers (Acts 16:12)"

To summarize, Philippi was a strategic center from which Paul could begin his evangelization of Europe. It was not  not in a center of Greek culture like Athens nor in a commercial center like Corinth, but a Roman city, that would facilitate penetration the Roman world (Rome of course being the world power at that time). Philippi lay in a wide and fertile plain marked by a multitude of springs and rivers that flowed through it making the land very productive. The surrounding area had been a center of gold and silver mining for centuries, and King Philip revived the industry so the city became prosperous. Philippi was situated at the base of a cut through the mountains that divided the East from the West, and thus it became the center of the trade route between Europe and the Middle East and was a hub of industry and commerce. In the providence of God, Paul was directed to this city which was ideal city for the first church in Europe. Luke records God's providential hand in this strategic happening (e.g., most believers in America are of European descent and most missionaries to the third world were from European ancestry) writing...

And they (Paul and Timothy who was selected by Paul in Acts 16:3) passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and when they had come to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a certain man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." (Acts 16:6-9)

INCLUDING THE OVERSEERS: sun episkopois: (Click here for NT uses of "overseer")

Including is the Greek preposition sun which means "with" and implies a close fellowship and cooperation. It speaks of an intimate relationship in the mystical body of Christ, the church, with overseers strategically placed to guard & guide the body.

Overseers (bishops, guardians) (
1985)  (episkopos from epi = over or upon + skopos = goal or end one has in view = English "scope" as in microscope or telescope) is literally one who looks over closely or intently, who views carefully. These are the men who were the guardians of the church at Philippi and were to care for them not as dictators but as spiritual leaders who provided godly examples (1Pe 5:1,2,3, 4-notes).  Click for some additional insights on episkopos.

Episkopos is found five times in the NT - Acts 20:28; Php 1:1; 1Ti 3:2; Titus 1:7; 1Pe 2:25 and 13 times the Septuagint (LXX) (Nu 4:16; 31:14; Jdg. 9:28; 2 Ki. 11:15, 18; 12:11; 2 Chr. 34:12, 17; Neh. 11:9, 14, 22; Job 20:29; Isa. 60:17). Here are two representative uses in the  Septuagint...

2 Chronicles 34:17 "They have also emptied out the money which was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hands of the supervisors (Hebrew = paqad = attend, visit, look after; Lxx = episkopos) and the workmen."

Isaiah 60:17 "Instead of bronze I will bring gold, And instead of iron I will bring silver, And instead of wood, bronze, And instead of stones, iron. And I will make peace your administrators, And righteousness your overseers.

The episkopos describes one who superintends, exercises oversight or watches over others, thus an "overseer" (one looking over another). The Latin equivalent is super-visus, someone who “looks over” things, a manager. From super-visus comes the English supervisor.

Episkopos properly means an inspector, overseer, or guardian, and was given to the ministers of the gospel because they exercised this care over the churches or were appointed to oversee their interests.  In the NT the overseers had the responsibility of oversight of the body of Christ, serving as the guardians who were to watch over God's "flock" and lead the sheep by their godly example. It is important to note that Paul here uses the term in the plural and that elsewhere this term is used interchangeably with "elder" (presbuteros). (Titus 1:5-note) God’s people are like sheep (see study of Jehovah Roi for discussion of sheep) and in need of shepherds to watch over them, protect them, and lead them. Pray for your spiritual leaders that they might more and more be what God wants them to be.

Episkopos was originally a secular title, designating commissioners appointed to regulate a newly-acquired territory or a colony. It was also applied to magistrates who regulated the sale of provisions under the Romans. In the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) episkopos signifies "inspectors, superintendents, taskmasters," (2Ki 11:19; 2Chr 34:12,17) or "captains, presidents," (Neh 11:9,14,22). In the ancient Greek culture episkopos was often used to describe pagan gods, who supposedly watched over worshipers and over their nations. (See Ref article ISBE)

1Timothy 3:2-7

An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

MacArthur notes that

Some have suggested that episkopos derives its sense from the city administrator, inspector, or financial manager of Greek culture. Its New Testament usage, however, more closely parallels that of the Essene Jews of the Qumran community.  The overseers among the Essenes preached, taught, presided, exercised care and authority, and enforced discipline. Those functions more closely mirror that of the New Testament overseer than the more narrow use of the term in Greek culture. What are the responsibilities of the overseer? They are to rule (1Ti 5:17), to preach and teach (1Ti 5:17), to pray for the sick (Js 5:14), to care for the church (see notes 1 Peter 5:1; 5:2), to be examples for others to follow (1Pe 5:1,2-note), to set church policy (Acts 15:22ff.), and to ordain other leaders (1Ti 4:14).

Oden rightly states that...

Episkopos implies vigilance far more than hierarchy. (Oden, Thomas C. Pastoral Theology: Essentials of Ministry)

Wuest adds that

The word (episkopos) came originally from secular life, referring to the foreman of a construction gang, or the supervisor of building construction, for instance. Thayer defines the word; “an overseer, a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian, or superintendent.” The word was taken up by the Church, and designated an overseer of any Christian church. The responsibilities of this office have to do with the oversight and direction of the spiritual life of the local church.

In 1Peter 2:25 we see the ultimate "Overseer", where episkopos is used of the Lord Jesus to describe His care over the souls of His sheep...

For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (see note 1Peter 2:25)

Overseers were selected by the Holy Spirit in (Acts 20:28) Paul commanding the spiritual leaders of the church at Ephesus to...

Be on guard (present imperative = command to do this continually) for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (episkopos), to shepherd (tend flocks like a shepherd - oversight, protecting, leading, guiding, feeding) the church of God which He purchased (more literally "acquired" as His Own possession) with His own blood.

Paul explained to Titus that it was vital...

For the overseer (episkopos) must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain (See note Titus 1:7)

Having oversight of the church is no trivial or light matter, but rather a sobering responsibility, the writer of Hebrews warning leaders they will he held responsible to God for how faithfully they have led the sheep...

Obey (this command is to the "sheep" = present imperative) your leaders, and submit (again the present imperative commands continuous placing of oneself under the leadership of the spiritual leaders) to them; for they keep watch (literally remain sleepless, picturing the effort necessary to remain on the alert and vigilant) over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you. (see note Hebrews 13:17)

James adds that because they teach they face a stricter judgment

Let not many of you become (present imperative)  teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment.  (Js 3:1). 

Barclay adds these thoughts on episkopos:

"Episkopos is a word with a great history. In Homer’s Iliad, Hector, the great champion of the Trojans, is called the episkopos who, during his lifetime, guarded the city of Troy and kept safe its noble wives and infants.

Episkopos is used of the gods who are the guardians of the treaties which men make and of the agreements to which men come, and who are the protectors of house and home. Justice, for instance, is the episkopos, who sees to it that a man shall pay the price for the wrong that he has done.

In Plato’s Laws the Guardians of the state are those whose duty it is to oversee the games, the feeding and the education of the children that “they may be sound of hand and foot, and may in no wise, if possible, get their natures warped by their habits.” The people whom Plato calls market-stewards are the episkopoi who “supervise personal conduct, keeping an eye on temperate and outrageous behavior, so as to punish him who needs punishment.”

In Athenian law and administration the episkopoi were governors and administrators and inspectors sent out to subject states to see that law and order and loyalty were observed. In Rhodes the main magistrates were five episkopoi who presided over the good government and the law and order of the state.

Episkopos is, therefore, a many-sided but always a noble word. It means the protector of public safety; the guardian of honor and honesty; the overseer of right education and of public morals; the administrator of public law and order. So, then, to call God the episkopos of our souls is to call him our Guardian, our Protector, our Guide, and our Director." Barclay goes on to state that "The Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures, uses it to describe those who were the taskmasters, who were over the public works and public building schemes (2Chr 34:17). The Greeks use it to describe the men appointed to go out from the mother city to regulate the affairs of a newly founded colony in some distant place. They use it to describe what we might call commissioners appointed to regulate the affairs of a city. The Romans use it to describe the magistrates appointed to oversee the sale of food within the city of Rome. It is used of the special delegates appointed by a king to see that the laws he had laid down were carried out.

Episkopos always implies two things; first, oversight over some area or sphere of work and second, responsibility to some higher power and authority." (Barclay, William: New Testament Words:. Westminster John Know Press, 1964)

In summary, episkopos emphasizes the fact that the leadership is charged with overseeing the local church and as such is responsible for the spiritual well-being of those in the church.

The following poem by George Liddell describes what the character of these men should be like:


Give me a man of God—one man,

Whose faith is master of his mind,

And I will right all wrongs

And bless the name of all mankind.

Give me a man of God—one man,

Whose tongue is touched with heaven’s fire,

And I will flame the darkest hearts

With high resolve and clean desire.

Give me a man of God—one man,

One mighty prophet of the Lord,

And I will give you peace on earth,

Bought with a prayer and not a sword.

Give me a man of God—one man,

True to the vision that he sees,

And I will build your broken shrines,

And bring the nations to their knees

AND DEACONS: kai diakonois: (Acts 6:1-6;1:1Ti 1:8,  1:10,  1:12, 1:13)

Paul appears to use "deacons" here to refer to a distinct class of officers in the apostolic church. The origin of this office is recorded Acts 6:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. It grew out of a complaint of the Hellenistic or Greco-Jewish members of the Church, that their widows were neglected in the daily distribution of food and alms. The Palestinian Jews prided themselves on their pure nationality and looked upon the Greek Jews as their inferiors. Seven men were chosen to superintend this matter, and generally to care for the bodily wants of the poor. Their function was described by the phrase "to serve tables," Acts 6:2, and their appointment left the apostles free to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.

Luke records these facts in Acts...

Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said,

"It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word."

And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. (Acts 6:1-6)

Deacon (1249) (diakonos) is a general term designating a servant, both slaves and hired servants. (Click for in depth study of the related word diakonia)

Although most authorities state that the origin is uncertain, the Greek scholar Robertson has an intriguing note that

"The etymology (dia, konis) suggests raising a dust by hastening."

A diakonos performed menial and mundane activities, such as waiting on tables or caring for household needs—activities without apparent dignity. Since such service necessarily involved dependence, submission, and constraints of time and freedom, the Greeks regarded this function as degrading and dishonorable. Service for the public good was honored, but voluntary giving of oneself in service of one’s fellow man was alien to Greek thought. To the Greeks, the highest goal before a man was the development of his own personality. This thought is strikingly contemporary, and illustrates how a culture that is focused on self-actualization, achieving one's human potential and self-fulfillment will find little value in servant hood.


Alexander Maclaren...

Loving Greetings
Phil. 1:1-8

THE bond between Paul and the church at Philippi was peculiarly close. It had been founded by himself, as is narrated at unusual length in the book of Acts. It was the first church established in Europe. Ten years had elapsed since then, possibly more. Paul is now a prisoner in Rome, not suffering the extremest rigour of imprisonment, but still a prisoner in his own hired house, accessible to his friends and able to do work for God, but still in the custody of soldiers, chained and waiting till the tardy steps of Roman law should come up to him, or perhaps till the caprice of Nero should deign to hear his cause. In that imprisonment we have his letters to the Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, which latter three are closely connected in time, the two former in subject, and the two latter in destination. This letter stands apart from those to the great Asiatic churches.

Its tone and general cast are unlike those of most of his letters. It contains no doctrinal discussions and no rebukes of evil, but is an outpouring of happy love and confidence. Like all Paul’s epistles it begins with salutations, and like most of them with prayer, but from the very beginning is a long gush of love. These early verses seem to me very beautiful if we regard them either as a revelation of the personal character of the Apostle, or as a picture of the relation between teacher and taught in its most blessed and undisturbed form, or as a lovely ideal of friendship and love in any relation, hallowed and solemnised by Christian feeling.

Verses one and two contain the apostolic greeting. In it we note the senders. Timothy is associated with Paul, according to his custom in all his letters even when he goes on immediately to speak in the singular. He ever sought to hide his own supremacy and to bring his friends into prominence. He was a great, lowly soul, who had no pride in the dignity of his position but felt the weight of its responsibility and would fain have had it shared. He calls Timothy and himself the slaves of Christ. He regarded it as his highest honour to be Christ’s born servant, bound to absolute submission to the all-worthy Lord who had died to win him. It is to be noted that there is no reference here to apostolic authority, and the contrast is very remarkable in this respect with the Epistle to the Galatians, where with scornful emphasis he asserts it as bestowed ‘not from men, neither through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.’ In this designation of himself, we have already the first trace of the intimate and loving relationship in which Paul stood to the Philippians. There was no need for him to assert what was not denied, and he did not wish to deal with them officially, but rather personally. There is a similar omission in Philemon and a pathetic substitution there of the ‘prisoner of Jesus Christ’ for the ‘slave of Christ Jesus.’

The persons addressed are ‘all the saints in Christ Jesus.’ As he had not called himself an apostle, so he does not call them a church. He will not lose in an abstraction the personal bond which unites them. They are saints, which is not primarily a designation of moral purity, but of consecration to God, from whom indeed purity flows. The primitive meaning of the word is separation; the secondary meaning is holiness, and the connection between these two meanings contains a whole ethical philosophy. They are saints in Christ Jesus; union with Him is the condition both of consecration and of purity.

The Philippian community had an organisation primitive but sufficient. We do not enter on the discussion of its two offices further than to note that the bishops are evidently identical with the elders, in the account in Acts 20 of Paul’s parting with the Ephesian Christians, where the same persons are designated by both titles, as is also the case in Titus 1:5, 7; the one name (eider) coming from the Hebrew and designating the office on the side of dignity, the other (bishop) being of Greek origin and representing it in terms of function. We note that there were several elders then in the Philippian church, and that their place in the salutation negatives the idea of hierarchical supremacy.

The benediction or prayer for grace and peace is couched in the form which it assumes in all Paul’s letters. It blends Eastern and Western forms of greeting, ‘Grace’ being the Greek and ‘Peace’ the Hebrew form of salutation. So Christ fuses and fulfils the world’s desires. The grace which He gives is the self-imparting love of God, the peace which He gives is its consequence, and the salutation is an unmistakable evidence of Paul’s belief in Christ’s divinity.

This salutation is followed by a great burst of thankful love, for the full apprehension of which we must look briefly at the details of these verses. We have first Paul’s thankfulness in all his remembrance of the Philippians, then he further defines the times of his thankfulness as ‘always in every supplication of mind on behalf of you all making my supplication with joy.’ His gratitude for them is expressed in all his prayers which are all thank-offerings. He never thinks of them nor prays for them without thanking God for them. Then comes the reason for his gratitude—their fellowship in furtherance of the gospel, from the first day when Lydia constrained him to come into her house, until this moment when now at the last their care of him had flourished again. The Revised Version’s rendering ‘fellowship in furtherance of’ instead of ‘fellowship in’ conveys the great lesson which the other rendering obscures—that the true fellowship is not in enjoyment but in service, and refers not so much to a common participation in the blessedness as in the toils and trials of Christian work. This is apparent in an immediately following verso where the Philippians’ fellowship with Christ is again spoken of as consisting in sharing both in His bonds and in the double work of defending the gospel from gainsayers and in positively proclaiming it. Very beautifully in this connection does he designate that work and toil as ‘my grace.’

The fellowship which thus is the basis of his thanksgiving leads on to a confidence which he cherishes for them and which helps to make his prayers joyful thanksgivings. And such confidence becomes him because he has them in his heart, and ‘love hopeth all things’ and delights to believe in and anticipate all good concerning its object. He has them in his heart because they faithfully share with him his honourable, blessed burdens. But that is not all, it is ‘in the tender mercies’ of Christ that he loved them. His love is the love of Christ in him; his being is so united to Jesus that his heart beats with the same emotion as throbs in Christ’s, and all that is merely natural and of self in his love is changed into a solemn participation in the great love which Christ has to them. This, then, being the general exposition of the words, let us now dwell for a little while on the broad principles suggested by them.

I. Participation In The Work Of Christ Is The Noblest Basis For Love And Friendship.

Paul had tremendous courage and yet hungered for sympathy. He had no outlets for his love but his fellow Christians. There had, no doubt, been a wrenching of the ties of kindred when he became a Christian, and his love, dammed back and restrained, had to pour itself on his brethren.

The Church is a workshop, not a dormitory, and every Christian man and woman is bound to help in the common cause. These Philippians help Paul by sympathy and gifts, indeed, but by their own direct work as well, and things are not right with us unless leaders can say, ‘Ye all are partakers of my grace.’ There are other real and sweet bonds of love and friendship, but the most real and sweetest is to be found in our common relation to Jesus Christ and in our co-operation in the work which is ours because it is His and we are His.

II. Thankful, Glad Prayer Flows From Such Co-Operation.

The prisoner in his bonds in the alien city had the remembrance of his friends coming into his chamber like fresh, cool air, or fragrance from far-off gardens. A thrill of gladness was in his soul as often as he thought on them. It is blessed if in our experience teacher and taught are knit together thus; without some such bond of union no good will be done. The relation of pastor and people is so delicate and spiritual, the purpose of it so different from that of mere teaching, the laws of it so informal and elastic, the whole power of it, therefore, so dependent on sympathy and mutual kindliness that, unless there be something like the bond which United Paul and the Philippians, there will be no prosperity or blessing. The thinnest film of cloud prevents deposition of dew. If all men in pulpits could say what Paul said of the Philippians, and all men in pews could deserve to have it said of them, the world would feel the power of a quickened Church.

III. Confidence Is Born Of Love And Common Service.

Paul delights to think that God will go on because God has already begun a good work in them, and Paul delights to think of their perfection because he loves them. ‘God is not a man that He should lie, or the son of man that He should repent.’ His past is the guarantee for His future; what He begins He finishes.

IV. Our Love Is Hallowed And Greatened In The Love Of Christ.

Paul lived, yet not he, but Christ lived in him. It is but one illustration of the principle of his being that Christ who was the life of his life, is the heart of his love. He longed after his Philippian friends in the tender mercies of Christ Jesus. This and this only is the true consecration of love when we live and love in the Lord; when we will as Christ does, think as He does, love as He does, when the mind that was in Christ Jesus was in us. It is needful to guard against the intrusion of mere human affection and regard into our sacred relations in the Church; it is needful to guard against it in our own personal love and friendship. Let us see that we ourselves know and believe the love wherewith Christ hath loved us, and then let us see that that love dwells in us informing and hallowing our hearts, making them tender with His great tenderness, and turning all the water of our earthly affections into the new wine of His kingdom. Let the law for our hearts, as well as for our minds and wills, be ‘I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me.’




F B Meyer...


Php 1:1, 2

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

THIS is the tenderest of all the Epistles. There is no chiding or rebuke. It is suffused throughout with words of good cheer, of joy and peace, though it was written in bonds to which the Apostle makes frequent reference (Phil. 1:7, 13, 14, 16). There is no trace of despondency or gloom, and though sent to a Church which he had not seen for five or six years, there appeared no necessity for those strictures and reproofs with which the other Epistles are filled.

Date and Occasion of the Epistle. If, as is supposed, this Epistle was written at the beginning of Paul's imprisonment in Rome, we must assign to it the date A.D. 62. It is the beginning of the precious prison literature of the Church which is amongst our greatest treasures. It was a persecuted Apostle writing to a persecuted Church, but his soul was unfettered and unchoked by prison damp. Perhaps his hired house in its discomfort would compare favourably with the gaol at Bedford, which Bunyan describes as "a den," but the Apostle was conscious, as Bunyan never was, of the daily clank of the chain which accompanied every movement.

The occasion of the writing of this Epistle is clearly indicated by the references which the Apostle makes. Philippi stood at the head of the AEgean Sea, about nine miles from the coast. Its earliest name was the Fountain City, afterwards it was enlarged by Philip, the King of Macedonia, and called after himself. It was the scene of the great battle between Brutus and Cassius on the one side, and Octavius and Antony on the other. In commemoration of the decisive victory of imperialism over republicanism, Augustus gave it the dignity and privilege of a Roman colony. It was, in fact, a miniature Rome, hence its consuls and lictors (Acts 16:20). The great Egnatian Way passed through it; and as a Roman colony situated on this great thoroughfare, it was flourishing and wealthy, though now it is a desolation, trodden only by the traveller and shepherd.

The Apostle had been brought there in answer to the vision of the man of Macedonia, but had met with a poor response. His first sermon was preached to a few devout Jews, especially women, who, unable to erect a synagogue, were wont to gather by the riverside on the Sabbath day. The story of the opening of Lydia's heart, and the subsequent formation of a Christian Church, which was favoured with two visits on the part of the Apostle, is too well-known to need detailed retelling.

Epaphroditus, whom the Philippians had sent with their greeting and pecuniary assistance, had fallen ill during his stay at Rome, and as the tidings of this misfortune caused great anxiety to his fellow-disciples, on his recovery the Apostle hastened his return and entrusted to his care messages of gratitude and affection; hurrying him back, that by his presence he might dissipate the anxiety which had cast a gloom over the entire Christian community.

It is sufficient to say that this Epistle has received unmistakable testimony as to its authenticity and genuineness. It is referred to by Ignatius and Polycarp, quoted by Clement, Irenaeus, and Tertullian, and bears in its texture abundant evidence of having issued from the heart and mind of the great Apostle to the Gentiles.

"Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus." Years before, when quite a youth, Timothy had been brought to Christ on Paul's first visit to Lystra. Having been well instructed by his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, when Christ was presented as the fulfilment of the Old Testament by Paul, he received Him with all the ardour of young manhood. The Apostle ever after considered him as "his own son in the faith." During the seven following years he grew in knowledge and love, and on Paul's second visit he was judged capable of accompanying him, and sharing his hardships and labours on behalf of the Gospel.

The two names are associated in 2 Corinthians, Colossians, Philippians, and 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and we can never forget the touching last letter which the Apostle dictated to him from the Mamertine prison on the eve of martyrdom. It is worthy of notice that the Apostle, who will presently refer to the saints at Philippi, classes himself with Timothy as the "bond-slaves of Christ Jesus." There is no assumption, no priestly prerogative, no pretentiousness in this simple designation. Though the Apostle had much in which he might glory, when he reviewed the work of his crowded life, he had so great an estimate of his Master, Christ, that in His presence he took the lowliest place;--the bought chattel of Him who had purchased him, not with corruptible things, but with His precious Blood. Men would have little fault to find with the ministers of the Churches, if they breathed the same spirit of simplicity, humility, and abandonment to the will of the great master.

Saints and Saintship. "To all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops (R.V. marg. overseers) and deacons." The word "saint" is frequently used by the Apostle, in the opening words of the Epistles. In that to the Romans, he describes believers as "called to be saints." So in 1 Cor. 1:2, see also Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:2. We are not to infer from this that they were perfect in character, but that they were set apart from the world, by the cross of Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, for high and holy service in the world. Men use this term of the departed, and canonise their fellow-believers only after many years have elapsed since they passed to the service of the eternal world. But the Apostle did not hesitate to describe very imperfect men and women, who needed a large amount of tuition and admonition, as saints; thus imputing to them God's great ideal, as perhaps the likeliest means of inspiring them to deserve the title.

Is not this a true way of dealing with men? Do not be content with rebuking them when they do wrong, but lay your hand upon their shoulder, and tell them that you are sure that they are capable of better things, that the angel lies hidden in the marble, that the possibility of saintship is deep down in the soul, in virtue of the regenerating grace of the Spirit, who is forming Christ within. Thus you will inspire hope, resolve, high purpose, and the resolute intention that the character and walk shall not fall beneath this great word with which God does not hesitate to designate all who are incorporated in a living union with His Son.

Would you be a saint indeed? Then live "in Christ Jesus" as your King (Christ), and in Jesus in all the human relationship of daily life (Jesus). Let Him be your atmosphere and environment, your protection from the assaults of evil from without, and the sweet fragrance which will exhale through the inner sanctuary of your nature, in speech and act.

Bishops and Deacons. As to the "bishops and deacons": "There is now no question," and this is endorsed by Bishop Ellicott, "that in the Holy Scriptures, the two titles of 'bishop' and 'presbyter' are applied to the same person." For this see Acts 20:17-28. Bishop Lightfoot affirms, "It is a fact now generally recognised by theologians of all shades of opinion, that in the language of the New Testament the same officer in the Church is called indifferently 'bishop,' or 'elder,' or 'presbyter.'" He goes on to say: "The opinion hazarded by Theodoret, and adopted by many later writers, that the same officers in the Church who were first called apostles came afterwards to be designated bishops, is baseless." According to this dictum "a New Testament bishop is a New Testament presbyter, and New Testament bishops and presbyters are simply ministers of Jesus Christ and pastors of churches."

Dr. Moule in his valuable book, Philippian Studies (
Philippians Commentary), says: "It is important to remember that our word bishop cannot properly translate the Greek word as it is used in the New Testament, for it is not used there as the special title of a superintendent pastor set over other pastors." For the office of deacon we have simply to refer to Acts 6. In the early Church there were evident ranks of gift, but not of grace. As believers gathered at the Lord's Table, or Love Feast, there was no distinction but that of humility and service. All were redeemed by the same Blood, stood on the same level; and each strove to be the lowliest and humblest of all.

The Combined Salutation. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Grace was the western, and Peace the eastern salutation. The Apostle combines them. He desired that his absent friends might know more and more of the free favour of God, of forgiveness and acceptance, and of the enjoyment of help and comfort. He would also have them know that peace which filled his own heart, amid trials of no ordinary description, and which was bequeathed by the Master,--"My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you."

Notice how closely he conjoins the Father and the Redeemer. He did not think that he was robbing God of His unity or supremacy when he included our Lord in the same sentence. Though all his early training had recognised the Oneness of the Divine Nature, he had no scruple in adding to God the Father the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is remarkable to notice also the number of times in which he mentions the Saviour's name. It occurs forty times in this Epistle, that is, on an average, in every two or three verses, but this is characteristic of the New Testament, and especially of the writings of this Apostle. He was a slave of Jesus Christ; he viewed all saints as living, with himself, in Christ; his life was full of Christ; Christ was his life; to die was to depart to be with Him; his rejoicing was in Christ Jesus; and steadfastness was only possible, as he and his converts stood fast "in the Lord." The Lord was always at hand to him, and because all believers were in Christ, they could count on God to supply all their need.

Let us rejoice to know that "grace and peace" are not exhausted, but that they flow down to us still in this remote century, and amid the altered circumstances of modern life. Christ was, and is, and is to come. In Him the Church still exists, through Him she is still supplied with grace upon grace, and unto Him she will be gathered without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. (
F. B. Meyer. The Epistle to the Philippians - A Devotional Commentary)

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Philippians 1:2
Philippians 1:2

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