Sacrifices of Joy

being —

Meditations on the Epistle to the Philippians - 1

G C Willis.

Chapter 1

Introduction

The Epistle to the Philippians was written to the Christians in Philippi, the chief city of Macedonia, and a colony of Rome. If you will look at the map that may be found in most Bibles, marked: "The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul", you will find Philippi in the North East corner of the great Province of Macedonia, just north of Greece. Indeed Macedonia was a province of Greece, and most of the people there were Greeks, and spoke the Greek language. About 168 years before Christ, Macedonia was conquered by the Romans, and some years before our Lord lived on this earth, large numbers of disbanded Roman soldiers were sent to Philippi to live. These soldiers were very loyal to Rome, and very proud of Rome's victories: and the Roman Government made Philippi a "Roman Colony", (Acts 16:12). This honour freed the city from the tribute usually paid by conquered states to Rome, and its citizens enjoyed all the rights and privileges of Rome: indeed, it became a miniature "Rome."

The first mention of Philippi in the Bible is in Acts 16, where we find the Spirit of God had brought the Apostle Paul, with Silas and Timothy, down to the seaport of Troas, (or, Troy), in the western end of Asia-Minor, just opposite Europe. Until this time the Apostle Paul had only preached the Gospel in Asia: for you must remember that Jerusalem and Antioch and most of the other places mentioned in the Bible, are in Asia: but Philippi and Rome and Corinth and such places are in Europe. Paul was minded to go to some other parts of Asia, as Bithynia, to preach the Gospel: but the Spirit of God closed all the doors in that land. It was not that the Lord did not care for those in darkness in Bithynia, and we know from 1 Peter 1:1 that He sent the Gospel to that land by some other messenger, but now the time had come when Europe, as well as Asia, was to have the Gospel, and the Lord chose His servant Paul to preach it there. You will remember that "strangers from Rome, Jews and Proselytes" heard Peter preach in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:10). And it may be that they carried the Good News of the Gospel back to Rome and other parts: for we know there was an assembly of Christians in Rome before this time, to whom Paul had written the Epistle to the Romans: but until this time Paul had never preached in Europe: nor, indeed, as far as we know, had any of the other Apostles.

While Paul and his friends waited in Troas for the next step, we read that "a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, 'Come over into Macedonia, and help us.' And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi." (Acts 16:9-12). You know that Luke, the beloved physician, wrote the Book of Acts. The verses we have just quoted, for the first time use the word "we", to include the writer: so we conclude that Luke then joined the little company of Paul, Silas, and Timothy; and together they went to Philippi. The city of Philippi was situated on a river, about nine or ten miles from the seaport of Neapolis, where they had landed. It was also on the main highway between Asia and Europe: and so was a sort of gateway between the East and the West. Let us remember the Lord still guides His servants, and sometimes by closing doors.

You may have noticed that when Paul came to a city where he had never before preached, he generally went first to the Jewish synagogue, but apparently there was no synagogue in Philippi, and those who feared the true God were accustomed to meet by the riverside, for prayer. So Paul and his company went out to the riverside, and sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted there. Please read the whole story for yourself, from the 14th verse of the 16th Chapter of Acts, to the end of the chapter. Lydia, a woman who sold purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira in Asia, and who worshipped God, seems to have been the first one in this part of Europe to receive the Gospel. The Word tells us that the Lord opened her heart, and when she and her household were baptized, she opened her home, saying, "If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there." You will read also of the girl with the spirit of Python (Acts 16:16, margin), whom Paul healed: perhaps she was a slave girl, for it speaks of her "masters." You will read how Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, thrown into the inner prison and their feet put fast in the stocks. Then came the great earthquake, and you will read how the keeper of the prison was saved, and baptized that night with all his household.

If you are to understand the Epistle to the Philippians you must read this story for yourself until you know it well. As you read, you must remember that Philippi was a Roman colony, and many of its citizens were Romans, descended from Roman soldiers. They were exceedingly proud of being Romans, and they despised and hated the Jews. The charge they brought against Paul and Silas was: "These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans." (Acts 16:20, 21). Paul was a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, the strictest sect of the Jews. He had been brought up to be very proud of his race, and to hate and despise those whom he called "sinners of the Gentiles." (Gal. 2:15). As you read the Epistle to the Philippians, remember that they were Europeans, but Paul was an Asiatic: their native language was Greek or Latin, Paul's native language was Hebrew: they were intensely proud of being Romans, Paul had been intensely proud of being a Jew: they hated and despised the Jews, and the Jews hated and despised them. Do we not see a somewhat similar condition today between the East and the West? between the Asiatics and the Europeans? Do we not hear it said that the West can never understand the East? nor the East the West? What bitterness there has been in East, and Southeast, Asia in recent years between the races of the East and the West! Let us remember these things as we read this Epistle together, and we will find most wonderful lessons for ourselves in it.

Before we turn from the map of Macedonia, please notice that west of Philippi is another city called Thessalonica. In Acts 17:1 we read that there was a synagogue of the Jews in this city, and here Paul preached, after leaving Philippi. Again there was a great uproar in the city, and the brethren sent Paul and Silas away by night. As you know, we have two Epistles to the saints in this city, and if we compare these Epistles with the Epistle to the Philippians, we will see that in some ways they are alike: for instance, the bond of love between the Philippian and the Thessalonian saints, and the Apostle Paul, seems to have been stronger than that which united him with any of the other assemblies: and this in spite of the passionate prejudices we have just observed: prejudices caused by difference of race, language, and customs.

* * * *

It is thought that Paul first preached the Gospel in Philippi about twenty years after the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that this letter was probably written some nine or ten years later. We believe it was written from Rome, when he was a prisoner in his own hired house, with a soldier that kept him. Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon were, we believe, written during this same period. But it is easy to see how different is Philippians to either Ephesians or Colossians; and perhaps the contrast between it and Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians is even greater. The Epistle to the Philippians has been called "Paul's Love-Letter", and it is rather a sweet name for it. We may notice that Paul wrote letters to seven Gentile assembles, or churches; just as John wrote to seven assemblies in Asia. (Rev. 2 & 3). Perhaps this tells us that these Epistles combine to give us the whole truth of the Church, of which Paul was made a minister. (Col. 1:24, 25). And in these seven, Philippians occupies a unique place. We may have cause to see that the Epistle to the Galatians shows the greatest contrast to Philippians.

The Spirit of God has been pleased to let us know a little more about these dear saints in Philippi than we know about the saints to whom he wrote the other Epistles. We know Lydia, and the jailor who almost committed suicide. The maiden, out of whom Paul cast the evil spirit, may also have formed part of that little company of believers; and there was Epaphroditus, Paul's "brother and fellow-workman and fellow-soldier" and the Philippian assembly's "messenger and minister" to Paul's need; he who had played hazard with his life to supply that need. Where else do we get such an array of honourable mentions? We know Euodias and Syntache, women who had laboured with Paul in the Gospel: and there was Clement also. We know, too, that they were desperately poor, and that they had been passing through a great trial of affliction, in which they had abundance of joy. (2 Cor. 8:1-5).

But perhaps what marked them out especially was their fellowship: the way they "abounded unto the riches of their liberality." "For", writes the Apostle, "For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we had hoped," (for one does not hope for very much from very poor people), "but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God." (Read, 2 Cor. 8:1-5). This probably refers to them sending help to the poor saints in Judea: but long before this, even while Paul was yet in the city next to them, Thessalonica, they had sent once and again unto his necessity. I have not a doubt that every one of these gifts were sacrifices: but "sacrifices of joy." (Ps. 27:6). And they, in their deep poverty, were the only ones to make these sacrifices. Such was the bond of love between the Apostle and these dear saints. You dear saints in China, or Hong Kong, or elsewhere, in your desperate poverty, does it not thrill your hearts to read of the saints in Christ Jesus which were at Philippi? Surely this little Book of Philippians has a special message for you. It does not need wealth to be liberal. We do not need to be rich to give ourselves, as the Philippians did. The poor widow who cast in two mites, utterly insignificant in the eyes of men, had, in the eyes of God, cast in more than all the great gifts of the rich. (Luke 21:1-4). And the Apostle gladly accepted the gifts of the Philippian saints, though he would accept nothing from the wealthy Corinthian saints. (2 Cor. 11:9, 10).

And what do we know of Paul's movements from the day he left his beloved brethren in Philippi, until he sent them this letter from Rome? From Philippi he had gone to Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, and on to Jerusalem. From there he had gone through Galatia and Phrygia to Ephesus, where he stayed from two to three years. Then he had again passed through Macedonia, and we may be sure had visited his dear brethren in Philippi and Thessalonica. After three months in Greece he returned to Macedonia, and again visited the saints in Philippi. (See Acts 20:1-6). And we must notice that in all these chapters in Acts, from the time they left Philippi, at the end of Chapter 16, we do not find that Luke, the writer, again uses the word "we", until Acts 20:6. Does this tell us that Luke remained in Philippi during these years? It may be so. From Philippi "we" sailed to Troas, the city where "the man of Macedonia" had appeared to Paul, but it took five days, instead of two, as it did when they first crossed that sea. Was the Lord saying to His servants, "Come ye apart, and rest a while"? for the Lord tenderly cares for His servants, and knows when we have need of rest; and a sea voyage may be a great rest.

From Troas they went to Miletus, and thus to Jerusalem, where Paul becomes a prisoner, and after more than two years in Judea, he takes that memorable journey to Rome, with the shipwreck on Malta. So now he is chained to a Roman soldier, (his right hand chained to the soldier's left), in his own hired house at Rome: and once again the dear saints at Philippi long to care for him: but it is not so easy for them, as for us, to send their gifts: and so they send their own messenger, Epaphroditus, across the seas to carry their bounty. And the Epistle to the Philippians is Paul's letter to say, "Thank You!"

"I learned without booke almost all Paules Epistles, yea and I weene all the Canonicall Epistles, save only the Apocalyps. Of which study, although in time a great part did depart from me, yet the sweete smell thereof I trust I shall carry with me into heaven."
(Bishop Ridley, 1555: Quoted by Bishop Moule)

Chapter 2

The theme of the Epistle

In considering any Book of Scripture it is very helpful to recognize some particular line of truth of which it speaks. For instance, Ephesians sets forth the Church of God, the body of Christ: Colossians tells of the glories of Christ, the Head of the body, and the sad results of not holding the Head: Galatians contends for the work of Christ alone for salvation and walk, without the deeds of the law. The Epistle to the Philippians seems to have as its main theme genuine Christianity, the practical Christian walk of a normal believer down here on this earth. By a "normal believer", we mean the kind of person the Lord would have every one of us, who believes in Christ, to be down here. This may, perhaps, be all summed up in the one brief statement:

"FOR ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST"

And it is remarkable that (as I reckon) we get the Lord Jesus Christ mentioned in this Epistle by His various Names and Titles, either together, or alone, forty-nine times,* or seven times seven: and as we know, seven in Scripture tells us of Divine Perfection. Perhaps we may say that the spring, or source, of such a normal Christian life is Devotedness to Christ. And so, with the Lord's help, we will seek to trace the theme of DEVOTEDNESS throughout this lovely little Book. Others will tell us that JOY is the special theme; and this also is true. I think we find JOY mentioned five times, and REJOICE mentioned eleven times. But, as our Chinese character for JOY**, so beautifully tells us, true JOY is only found in true DEVOTEDNESS: for this character tells us that it is when I present myself and all I have as a living sacrifice upon the altar that I have true joy.

{*
"Christ", alone - 17 times
"Christ", linked with His Name "JESUS", or, "Lord Jesus." - 20 times
"JESUS", alone, (Phil. 2:10) - 1 time
"Lord Jesus", (Phil. 2:19) - 1 time
"Lord", alone - 10 times
(On account of slight variations in readings, we cannot be quite sure of these divisions; but the total is, I believe, correct).

**Chinese character for "Joy" or "Happy" is composed of: The Sacrifice, One Mouth (that is Myself), The Altar, Fields (All I possess).}

But another will say that FELLOWSHIP, or Communion is the theme:
Fellowship in the Gospel - Phil. 1:5
Fellowship together in the Grace - Phil. 1:7
Fellowship of the Spirit - Phil. 2:1
Fellowship of His sufferings - Phil. 3:10
Fellowship together in affliction - Phil. 4:14
Fellowship in giving and receiving - Phil. 4:15
Fellowship of Ministry to the saints: (Refers to the Macedonian saints) 2 Cor. 8:4

Fellowship in its perfection, (seven times), is found here, for these all use the same word throughout in the Greek Testament, though differently translated in English: (Phil. 1:7 and Phil. 4:14, have the little word "together" added, making Fellowship Together.) So we are not wrong in saying that Fellowship is a main theme of the Epistle: Fellowship with Christ, and with one another: for, as an old saint has expressed it: "Devotedness to JESUS is the strongest bond between human hearts." And so I think we may take DEVOTEDNESS as the theme of the Epistle before us: for Devotedness includes the Joy and the Fellowship; or, should we say, The Joy and the Fellowship surely flow from Devotedness?

One hesitates to try and analyze such an Epistle; and a beloved servant of the Lord has written of this little Book: "It is, beyond most of Paul's Epistles, impatient of analysis." I am sure this is true; but perhaps it may help us to speak of it in a very general way, as setting forth,
In Chapter 1: The Character of Devotedness:
In Chapter 2: Examples of Devotedness:
In Chapter 3: The Path, or Power of Devotedness:
In Chapter 4: Hindrances to Devotedness, and the Remedy.

We must note that in this Epistle there is no question of Guilt, or Sins, taken up. Our eyes are turned, not to ourselves, but to Christ: here we run with endurance the race set before us, looking unto Jesus. (Heb. 12:1, 2).
"Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee!"
   
(F.R. Havergal.)

Chapter 3

The Signature

"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of JESUS CHRIST."

"Paul and Timotheus, Slaves of CHRIST JESUS."

Philippians 1:1

The "signatures" (if we may call them this) in the salutations of the Epistles come at the beginning of the Letters, instead of at the end, as with us. They are full of the deepest interest and instruction. Perhaps none more so than in the little Epistle before us. Let us review them: (Quotations are from the New Translation by J. N. Darby).
Romans: "Paul bondman of Jesus Christ, (a) called apostle." (Compare Jude).
1 Corinthians: "Paul, (a) called apostle of Jesus Christ, by God's will, and Sosthenes the brother."
2 Corinthians: "Paul, apostle of Jesus Christ by God's will, and the brother Timotheus."
Galatians: "Paul, apostle, not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ, and God (the) Father who raised Him from among the dead, and all the brethren with me."
Ephesians: "Paul, apostle of Jesus Christ by God's will."
Philippians: "Paul and Timotheus, bondmen of Jesus Christ."
Colossians: "Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus, by God's will, and Timotheus the brother."
1 and 2 Thessalonians: "Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus."
1 Timothy: "Paul, apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the commandment of God our Saviour, and of Christ Jesus our hope."
2 Timothy: "Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus by God's will, according to promise of life, the (life) which is in Christ Jesus."
Titus: "Paul, bondman of God, and apostle of Jesus Christ according to (the) faith of God's elect, and knowledge of (the) truth which (is) according to piety."
Philemon: "Paul, prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timotheus the brother."
Hebrews: None.
James: "James, bondman of God and of (the) Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Peter: "Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ."
2 Peter: "Simon Peter, bondman and apostle of Jesus Christ."
1 John: None.
2 & 3 John: "The elder."
Jude: "Jude, bondman of Jesus Christ, and brother of James."

It will be noticed that 1 & 2 Thessalonians contain no title, but the names only of Paul and his two companions. In Philemon Paul takes the title of "prisoner" only, and links Timothy with himself. In every other of his Epistles, except Philippians, Paul uses the title of "apostle." This title included in it the authority that the Lord had given him (See 2 Cor. 10:8), and in most of these Epistles he is exercising this authority. In Corinth and Galatia the churches had challenged his authority. In Philemon Paul says, "I might be much bold to enjoin thee that which is convenient, yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged." That tells us plainly why he does not wish to exercise his authority here; so we would not expect to find the title "apostle." We do not know the human author of Hebrews, and it is best for us not to guess at what the Lord has seen best to hide: but we can well understand the reason that we find no title, or "signature", of author here, for in Hebrews Christ Himself is the Apostle, the High Priest, the Author and Finisher of faith (3:1 & 12:2). How unseemly would it have been for any man to have assumed a place or title in the face of such an array of titles of our Lord Himself!*

{*The word apostle comes from two Greek words apo and stello, and literally means 'sent from.' A messenger sent from Her Majesty the Queen carries with him the Queen's authority. It is the one who sends who gives the authority.}

And I think this is the key to the salutation in Philippians, where Paul omits "apostle" entirely and links himself with Timothy as "slaves", or bondmen, of Jesus Christ. In this little Book the Lord presents Himself to us as the One Who "took upon Himself the form of a slave." (2:7). How could Paul take any title higher than his Master, Who had gone to the very lowest depths for his sake? And so we gaze with wonder and delight at this mark of perfection in the opening words. In Hebrews the writer cannot use the title "Apostle" for his Lord has taken that title Himself. In Philippians the writer cannot use the title "Apostle" for his Lord has taken the form of a "slave!"

Our thoughts go back to Exodus 21, where we see the Hebrew servant, who, of his own free will, became "a slave for ever," because of love: love to his Master, his wife, and his children: and so he would not go out free: he would rather suffer, he would have his ear pierced through with an aul, as proof that now he is a "slave for ever." And so, Christ Jesus, being in the form of God, took upon Himself the form of a slave: hands and feet and side pierced, as proof that He is the Slave for ever. (The words for "form" are the same). And we see this beautiful picture drawn for us long ago in the Old Testament.

There are three special marks that should characterize "a slave of Jesus Christ." Redemption, Ownership, and Devotedness. We were slaves of sin and Satan, but our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed us. Perhaps you recall the story of the man who bought a slave at a very high cost: and when he had paid the price, and the slave was his own, he took the chains from his hands and feet, threw them away, and said: "I bought you to set you free. You are a free man!" He was redeemed. The freed slave fell at the feet of him who bought him, crying: "I am your slave for ever!" It was love, the bonds of love, which are stronger than the bonds of steel, that made that free man once again a slave, "a slave for ever." Only one other of Paul's friends bears this honourable title of "slave": and that is Epaphras, in Col. 4:12, who is called "Slave of Christ Jesus." (Greek)*. In passing we might note the peculiar beauty of the salutation of James, and also of Jude, if they are the brothers of our Lord; and we may see that each salutation is a proof of His Deity, by those who had probably been "brought up" with Him.

{* Epaphras and Tychicus are spoken of as 'fellow-slaves' (Col. 1:7; 4:7); and Timothy is included with Paul in the greeting in Phil. 1:1.}

And so we read: "PAUL AND TIMOTHEUS, SLAVES OF CHRIST JESUS." Slaves, because they were bought with a price: (1 Cor. 6:20 & 7:23): but slaves also because they were bound to their Master, Christ Jesus, with the strongest of all bonds, the bonds of love. Can I, Can you, truthfully be called "slaves of Christ Jesus"? That men may be His slaves, we can in measure understand: but when we come to Chapter 2 and find that Christ Jesus has taken upon Himself the form of a slave: when we find that He is "a Slave for ever", that is beyond us: and we joyfully fall at His feet, and cry: "Whose I am, and Whom I serve." (Acts 27:23). Well may we sing:
"I am His, and He is mine,
For ever and for ever!"

* * * * *
"I need no call at His feet to fall,
For I cannot turn away.
I am the captive led along
With the joy of His triumphal song;
In the depths of love do I love and move,
I joy to live or to die;
For I am borne on the tide of His love
To all eternity."
(Mechthild of Hellfde)

Slave of Jesus Christ
See two slaves to work go now,
Toiling both by sweat of brow,
    Serving mammon earns God's wrath,
Work for God is sweet employ.

Slave of Christ, to work go now,
Serve Him well with sweat of brow,
    Serving Christ is joy, not grief, —
True and everlasting joy.

Mammon's slave, to work go now,
Though you toil with sweat of brow,
    All your work is only sin,
At the last, eternal woe.

Child of God, go serve Him now,
He is good, and just, and true,
    He who does his work for God,
Never empty hands will show.

Satan's child, to work go now,
Satan payeth wages true.
He who does his work for gain,
    Wages gets of death and woe.
  (From Chinese)

Chapter 4

To all the saints

"Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi."

"Paul and Timotheus, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus, to the (ones) being in Philippi."

Philippians 1:1

"To all the saints." The Spirit of God seems to delight to use this little word "all." We find it again and again in this Epistle. I think the Greek word "all" occurs some 34 times. We can think of Lydia and her household; of the jailor and his household. Two sisters who had a quarrel are also included: and many others, whose names are in the Book of Life. And may we not include ourselves also? If we cannot come in with Lydia or the Jailor, perhaps we can with Euodias and Syntache. I doubt not the Spirit of God has given us this little Book for the express purpose of putting our names, also, into that little word "all." May the sweet and solemn sentences that flow from it, sink down deep into each of our hearts!

But I think there is another lesson for us in these words. How often we forget "all the saints." How often our thoughts and prayers include only the saints in one little group, that is of special interest to us. Let us remember that God's heart, God's thought, goes out to "all the saints." When I was a child, every night and morning my father would pray for "the whole Church of God." This is as it should be: and if we are walking down here as Christ would have us walk, we will not be content that our hearts should take in any smaller circle than "all the saints." We may not be able to walk with them all, in the paths they have chosen, but we may love them, and pray for them, all. Before the Assembly at Ephesus had left their first love (Rev. 2:4): Paul could write of their "love unto all the saints." (Eph. 1:15).

And there is another thing that little word "all" makes us think of: Suppose the Postmaster got a letter to deliver, addressed:

"To, All the saints in Christ Jesus which are in Toronto, or London, or New York, or Hong Kong."

How puzzled he would be to know what to do with it! And yet that is the way this Letter was addressed: and that is the way the Lord would still have His people: "That they all may be one." (John 17:11, 21, 22).

These humble people, the woman who sold purple, and the man who guarded a prison cell, were saints. What is a saint? We hear people speak of Saint Peter, and Saint Paul; but we never hear the Bible speak in this way. And yet both Peter and Paul were saints. It has been said, "Paul was a saint, but Saint Paul is a devil." What is meant by this? Today men and women worship "saints"; and anyone who accepts worship, except God Himself, is in reality the devil. You remember the devil showed our Lord "all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." (Matt. 4:8-10). The moment the devil asked the Lord to worship him, he manifested clearly who he was. True, the Lord knew from the beginning the tempter was the devil: but He did not call him by his name, Satan, until he asked for worship. And so we read in I Cor. 10:19, 20, that those who sacrifice to idols, sacrifice to devils, and not to God. We may know immediately that anything, or anyone, who seeks worship, or who accepts worship or sacrifice, except God only, is a devil. Sad to say this is true, even though the people may call themselves Christians, and though they worship honoured servants of God, such as Peter and Paul. See also Acts 14:14, 15. Do not let us be deceived, whether men worship idols, or the highest of the apostles, or even angels, (Rev. 22:8, 9; Col. 2:18); they are, in reality, worshipping devils. We in China always need to bear these things in mind. And those at home, as well as we in the dark lands, do well to remember the words of the Apostle John: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:21).

But who is a saint? Lydia was a saint: the jailor was a saint: Euodias was a saint, and also Syntache. A saint means a holy person, a person separated to God. A person who is a saint should live "as becometh saints." (Eph. 5:3). A saint should live a holy life, and walk in a way that pleases God. Yet that is not what makes a person a saint in God's eyes, for we find the Spirit of God calls the Corinthians saints, "saints by calling", (1 Cor. 1:2), and they were behaving very badly indeed, so the Spirit of God spends most of two long Epistles finding fault with them: but He begins by calling them "saints." What, then, is a saint? Every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is a saint. Every person bought with His precious blood is a saint: these are all separated from the world, because they are bought with that blood. In Eph. 2:19 the Spirit writes to men and women who once were without God, separated from God, (That is the meaning), but now they are separated to God; they are "saints." He calls them "fellow-citizens with the saints"; citizens of Heaven: holy men: saints. If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ: if you are washed in His precious blood: if you are born again, and have eternal life: then you are a saint: just as truly a saint as the saints in Philippi, or just as truly as the apostles Peter or Paul themselves. But the word saint should make us think especially of God's people, separated, or, consecrated, to God: set apart for Him.

* * * * *
Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age. Galatians 1:4.

Chapter 5

Bishops and Deacons

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

"Paul and Timotheus, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus, to the (ones) being in Philippi, with overseers and deacons."

Philippians 1:1.

We have already seen that every true believer in our Lord Jesus Christ is a "saint", but we find in this greeting in our First Verse, two other classes. Paul writes not only to "all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi", but he adds, "with (the) bishops and deacons," or, as the New Translation puts it: "With (the) overseers and ministers." This does not mean that the bishops and deacons were not saints: surely they were: but they had also this special position in the assembly. Notice that the little word (the) in this quotation is in brackets, to show that it is not in the Greek Testament, as though the Spirit of God is not pointing out any very special people. Dr. Vaughan translates it: "with any bishops and deacons." The word "bishop", or "overseer", (the same word in Greek), does not have at all the same sense in the New Testament, that it has come to have among men today. And the word "minister" used in the New Translation does not in the least mean the position occupied by the "minister" of a church today. It merely means one who ministers, or serves. Compare Matt. 20:28; Mark 1:31; Mark 9:35, etc.

The word bishop, or overseer, (same word), was also used interchangeably with the word "elders". In Acts 20:17, the Scripture speaks of "elders", while in verse 28, speaking to the same persons, we read: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God." The word is exactly the same as is translated "bishops" in Phil. 1:1. Compare also Titus 1:5 & 7: "I left thee in Crete, that thou mightest . . . establish elders in each city, as I had ordered thee: . . . the overseer must be free from all charge, etc." (New Trans.).

There were evidently a number of overseers, or bishops, in the assembly at Philippi. The position which bishops hold today in the various denominations, is totally unknown and unheard of in the New Testament; and did not come into use until after the days of the Apostles. God's way is to have a number of bishops, or overseers, in one assembly, as here in Philippi, or in Ephesus (Acts 20:28). Man's way is to have one bishop over a number of "churches".

How were the overseers, or bishops, appointed in the days of the Apostles? In every case they were chosen and appointed either by the Apostles themselves, or by some person, as Timothy or Titus, authorized by the Apostles to select, or "establish" them. See the verse quoted above from Titus 1:5. See also, for example, Acts 14:23: "And having chosen them elders in every assembly, having prayed with fastings, they committed them to the Lord." (New Tr.).

There is not a single instance in the New Testament where an assembly chose, or was instructed to choose elders or deacons for themselves. They were only chosen by an Apostle, or by one whom an Apostle ordered to do so. (Titus 1:5: New Tr.). I know that it is the custom with many today for an assembly to choose its own elders, or overseers, or bishops, and deacons. But this custom is unknown in the New Testament. No church in the New Testament ever pretended to do such a thing. Let us at least be willing to acknowledge our real lack in this respect; it is our duty to God, because it is the truth; and the owning it keeps one from much presumption. For in general Christendom is doing, without Apostles, what is only Scriptural to be done by or with them. The Appointment of elders and deacons goes upon the notion that there is an adequate power still resident in men or the Church. But the only Scriptural ordaining power is an apostle acting directly, or indirectly. Titus or Timothy did not go and ordain elders, except as authorized by the Apostles.

But there are the clearest, and most minute directions given us in the Scriptures, by which we may know and recognize those who are qualified in the sight of God to act in this capacity. See I Timothy 3, and Titus 1:5 to 9. Ponder these qualifications: (Alternative readings are from the "New Translation").

1 Timothy 3

"If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be
blameless,
the husband of one wife, vigilant, (sober)
sober, (discreet)
of good behaviour, (decorous)
given to hospitality,
apt to teach;
not given to wine,
no striker,
(not greedy of filthy lucre; )
but patient, (mild; moderate)
not a brawler, (not addicted to contention)
not covetous; (not fond of money)
one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

Titus 1:5 to 9

"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed (or, ordered) thee: if any be
blameless,
the husband of one wife,
have faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
For a bishop must be
blameless,
as the steward of God;
not self-willed, (or, headstrong)
not soon angry, (or, passionate)
not given to wine,
no striker,
not given to filthy lucre;
But a lover of hospitality,
a lover of good men,
sober, (discreet)
just,
holy,
temperate;
holding fast (or, clinging to) the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."

As we ponder these minute instructions: so clear that every saint may recognize who is qualified as an elder, or overseer, or bishop: and as we remember that, according to the Word of God, no assembly has authority to appoint elders: — and certainly no individual has such authority: — are we wrong in believing that now the individual saints in every assembly are responsible to recognize those so qualified, and submit themselves to such: as the saints in Philippi would submit themselves to the bishops established by the Apostle? Human appointment is man's way: but God's way is: "Know them that labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake." (1 Thess. 5:12). The true way to glorify God is not to assume an apostolic authority that we do not possess, but to act confiding in the power and presence of the Holy Ghost, Who does remain. It is the Lord Himself, acting by the Holy Ghost, who has put each saint in his own particular place in the body, as He sees fit: and it is our responsibility to recognize those whom the Lord has qualified to do the work of bishops or deacons.

There is no thought or suggestion in Scripture of a number of assemblies, or one assembly, being in subjection to one man: though even in the days of the Apostles, as in our own days, there was a Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence (3 John 9): but the Scripture only mentions him to condemn him.

In the days of the Apostles, a bishop was simply an "overseer", and a deacon was simply one who serves. The office of overseer seems to have dealt more with the internal, the spiritual, side of the affairs of the assembly; though he is to be given to hospitality, which includes the temporal side. As we search the Scriptures we may find a good deal of light on what the office of a bishop entailed. In 1 Peter 5:1, 2, we see that an "elder" was to "Feed the flock of God." The word translated "feed" is really much wider than simply to feed. It means, "To act as a shepherd." It carries with it all the loving, faithful care that a good Shepherd gives to his flock. This one word alone will, perhaps, include all those which follow.

In Hebrews 13:7 (Margin) we read of "The Guides." The word literally means, "The ones leading:" like the shepherd leads and guides the flock. "He goeth before them" (John 10:4), the Good Shepherd could say. That was one of the duties of the overseer. In Hebrews 13:17, we read of the same ones, — the Guides, — and here it tells us they "watch for your souls." The word 'watch' means, "To be sleepless," and so, "To be vigilant." Just as a good shepherd kept watch over his flock by day and by night, like the shepherds of Bethlehem (Luke 2:8), or Jacob, who could say: "In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes." So should the true overseer watch, by day and by night, over the flock of God.

In 1 Thess. 5:12, we read: "We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you." In this verse we find three more duties of the overseer. First, he laboured. The word originally meant to grow weary. It tells of the toil that wearies one. How well Paul understood this. Such is the toil and labour of the true overseer. "Are over you", is literally, "set over", so means to preside, or rule, or govern: but it has also the meaning: "To be a protector, or guardian, to give aid, to care for." How well that describes the work of a good shepherd. To "admonish" is to "put in mind", and so, to "exhort."

We have already seen that the overseer is to be as "The Steward of God." (Titus 1:7). This is a most solemn and responsible position: and, "It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." (1 Cor. 4:2). Oh, that every assembly of the saints had a few such overseers.

The Greek word used for "elder", sometimes has the meaning of an "old man", as 1 Tim. 5:1, where it is in contrast to "younger men." It would seem that all who held the official position of an "elder", were old men: but not all "old men" held that official position. We are specially warned that an elder (or, overseer) must not be a "novice." The same word is used of "elders" of the Jews, and we often meet the word in Revelation.

The word "deacon" means simply "one who ministers", or, "serves": for "minister" is really only another name for "servant." In the New Testament it has not the least meaning that it has come to have today, a man in charge of a "church." It refers to the lowly service of love, which has been associated with those who were younger in the Truth, and not, perhaps, gifted in a particular way. They yet have the service of the saints at heart, and are concerned with the little things in the practical life of the assembly: "serving tables," for instance: as we find in Acts 6:1-6. When I was a boy my Father and I used to go early to the meeting room to get it ready. Part of my work was to dust the seats. One day my Father remarked to me that this was the work of a deacon, and that "they that have used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 3:13).

We should today look earnestly to our Lord Jesus Christ as Head, that He would raise up those who would be able to serve and minister to the saints, in this lowly way, loving them with the heart of Christ. The qualifications for the deacon are set forth with equal clearness to those of the bishop: "grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 3:8-13). Stephen and Philip should encourage the "deacons." We may see in Chapter 2 that Epaphroditus did the work of a deacon for the assembly in Philippi.

As we read these qualifications, I fear they make most of us hang our heads in shame, so few seem able to meet the requirements for bishop or deacon. Let us remember the only One Who has perfectly fulfilled them is He Who is called "The Bishop of your souls," (1 Peter 2:25), and Who said of Himself: "I am among you as he that serveth:" literally, "as the One being deacon." (Luke 22:27).

* * * * *
If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God? 1 Tim. 3:5.

Chapter 6

"Grace be unto you, and Peace"

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

"Grace to-you, and peace from God our Father and (the) Lord Jesus Christ."

Philippians 1:2.

"Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father, and (from the) Lord Jesus Christ." We must not think of these words as being merely a formal greeting, as we so often begin a letter: "Dear Sir:" or, "Dear Mrs. . . ." when the person to whom we are writing is not dear to us at all. No, this greeting really means what it says: and though written by Paul so long ago to the saints in Philippi, we may take it for ourselves from the Holy Spirit: and we may enjoy all the sunshine of those two little words, GRACE and PEACE. It is true that most of the Epistles use these same words, though Timothy, Titus, and 2 John (all Letters to individuals) have "Mercy" added.

Our Epistle begins with, "Grace to you," and ends with, "The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (be) with your spirit." And in Verse 7, Chapter 1, Paul writes that they were all his "joint-partners" in this Grace. In this Grace we all have a share. Well may every one of us sing:
GRACE IS THE SWEETEST SOUND
That ever reached our ears,
When Conscience charged, and Justice frowned,
'Twas Grace removed our fears.
As we grow older, and learn to know ourselves more and more, perhaps we learn to value more highly that Grace that picked us up, gave us the privilege of hearing the Gospel, and believing it; and, perhaps most wonderful of all, to know the Grace that has borne with us all along the way, through all these years, and has never cast us off, or given us up, but will perform that work, that "good work," begun in us; right on to the Day of Jesus Christ. (Verse 6). It has all been Grace; All must be Grace; right from start to finish.

Raise glad the song! for who can tell
How sovereign Grace dissolved the spell
   That kept us bound in chains;
And from that dear and happy day,
How oft constrained by Grace to say,
   That Grace triumphant reigns!

Yes! tho' we've strayed like saints of old,
Grace has restored us to the fold
   As captives in its chains;
Thus saved by Grace, we'd gladly sing,
Till all the earth and heavens ring
   With Grace triumphant reigns!

Grace means "Free, undeserved favour." And, Thanks be to God, that is just what God has shown us; and this is the message with which this lovely Epistle begins. But let us remember it is Grace, not from pity, but from Love. I write in Hong Kong, surrounded by tens of thousands of refugees in the most desperate poverty, misery, and squalor: daily I see the children in their rags and wretchedness, and my heart is moved with pity, and I seek to do what little I can to remove their misery. In a measure I show them Grace, for they do nothing to deserve help. But it is Grace moved by pity. But there are a few whom I dearly love, what a difference that makes! A few days ago a dear child we have known and loved for several years, showed me the soles of her shoes, without saying a word: both had great holes right through to her bare feet. I got her new shoes, and at the same time a pretty new dress, for I think she had only the shabby one she had on: I paid about ninety cents for it. When I gave them to her, she climbed on my knee, buried her head on my shoulder, her heart too full for words: and then at last she looked up with wonder, saying: "Mr. Lee, You must have paid a great deal for it!" It was grace, but grace moved by Love, and who can say whose pleasure was greater, the Child's, or mine? Let us ponder the Love behind the words: "GRACE TO YOU," and let us remember always the unfathomable cost. May our hearts respond, not with any formal thanks, but like the Child, may our hearts burst forth:
"THANKS BE UNTO GOD FOR HIS UNSPEAKABLE GIFT!!!"

But that is not all. In Chapter 1:29, we read that God has not only "graced" us, or, favoured us, with believing on Christ, (for the word is almost the same), but also with suffering for His sake. How very, very glad we are that God has graced us with believing on Christ! As we see those who have never heard the Story, and those who have refused to believe it: well may we thank God that He has graced us with both hearing and believing: for it is Grace alone that has done it all. But perhaps we do not realize that it is the very same Grace that favours us "to suffer for His sake." We rejoice in hope of the Glory: we rejoice in the Many Mansions: all the fruit of Grace: but the suffering . . . , Ah, somehow, that is different! Yet both the believing and the suffering are given to us, "on the behalf of Christ." And the same Grace that gave us to believe can give us the courage, if need be, to suffer: we can do neither the one nor the other of ourselves: both are entirely His Grace.

But not only does the Apostle wish Grace to the saints, but also Peace. Perhaps first we should notice the difference between "Peace with God," and, "The Peace of God." (Rom. 5:1 & Phil. 4:7). The saints at Philippi already had "Peace with God." "Being justified by faith, we have Peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:1). Lydia found Peace with God, that Sabbath Day by the riverside. The jailor found Peace with God, the night of the earthquake. Have you, Reader, found "Peace with God"? You may, just by taking God at His word.

But the Peace in our salutation is different. This Peace is "The Peace of God," that keeps, or guards, our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7.). Today men passionately long for peace, but how few enjoy it! In many parts of the East, you may hear the greeting: "Salaam." It is the same word as "Salem" in the Bible, and that means "Peace." (Heb. 7:2). But those very lands that so often say "Salaam," know less, perhaps, of true Peace, Peace in their hearts, than almost any other part. This is the Peace that God offers His children today. His Grace and His Peace are as full and as free as they were in Paul's day: and both are for you, my Reader, and for me. They are offered us from "God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." None else can give these gifts, and like all Heavenly gifts, they are without money and without price.

But could Paul honestly wish Peace to these saints in Philippi, when they were suffering for their Master's sake? Can Peace and Persecution go together? Yes, strange as it may seem, they can, and often do, go together. In 1 Tim. 2:2, we are told to pray for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life (New Translation); and the Word goes on to say that such a life is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour. Sad to say, our brethren in some lands are not leading such a life. Perhaps this is because so often we forget this prayer. These words in Timothy 2:2 imply on the one hand, tranquility without, and on the other, tranquility within. But can we have tranquility within when there is no tranquility without? Yes, we can! That is part of what we learn in Philippians. It is still true: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee." How? Why? "Because he trusteth in Thee," and "In the Lord Jehovah is the Rock of Ages." (Isa. 26:3 & 4: Margin).

But notice the closing words of our verse: The Grace and Peace are "from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Notice how God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, are intimately linked together, as Joint Givers of these good gifts. It would be blasphemy to link the name of men or angels with "God our Father" in this way. In Chapter 2 we will read plainly that Christ Jesus is equal with God: but this verse tells us the same wondrous truth. May God help us ever to cling to this foundation of the Faith: and to enjoy the Grace and Peace offered to us!

* * * * *
"Riches of His Grace." Eph. 1:7.
"Riches of His Glory." Eph. 3:16.

"Rich, our God, art Thou in mercy,
    Dead in sins were we,
When Thy great love rested on us,
    Sinners, dear to Thee.

Blessed path of Grace that led us
    From the depths of death
To the fair eternal mansions
    Quickened by Thy breath.

Riches of Thy Grace have brought us
    There, in Christ, to Thee;
Riches of Thy Glory make us
    Thy delight to be."
(W.R.)

Chapter 7

Thanksgiving and Prayer

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now."

"I thank my God for all my remembrance of you, always in all supplication of mine making that supplication for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the interests of the Gospel, from the first day until now."

Philippians 1:3-5

Notice how thanksgiving and prayer are linked together here: "I thank my God," "always in all supplication." In the prison in Philippi in the early days, Paul and Silas had prayed and sung praises: and now in the prison at Rome, Paul is still doing the same thing. In Chapter 4:6 of our Epistle he tells us the secret of that Peace we saw in the previous verse: "In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Thanksgiving sees the blessings already received, and prayer sees the needs still to be met. And Paul could never think of these dear saints in Philippi without giving thanks for them. The word is not, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." It is, rather, "for all my remembrance of you," or, "my whole remembrance of you." It was not only at isolated times he remembered and gave thanks for them, but the whole, complete memory of them, was one that filled him with thanksgiving. Notice how "all" is repeated in these verses: "All my remembrance;" "always;" "in all my supplication;" "for you all."

There used to be a beggar in Shanghai who was so busy asking for gifts, that he never took time to thank those who gave to him. The result was that those who generally gave to the beggars, often passed him by. Might we not know more answers to our prayers if we spent more time in thanksgiving? In the days of old, there were those whose "office was to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at even." (1 Chron. 23:28 & 30). Have we, who know God's unspeakable Gift, less cause for thanksgiving than they? From the very first Sabbath by the river side, when Lydia's heart was opened, right up to that day, Paul gives thanks for them. How different to Galatia! Not a word of thanksgiving for them: the only church for whom the Apostle had nothing for which to give thanks!

But there was not only thanksgiving: there was supplication also: but that supplication was made with joy. Our dear brother Mr. Lavington, now with the Lord, wrote: "I call your attention to the large place in this Epistle, and in others, which the subject of prayer has with the Apostle, and I make bold to say that in practical Christian life and experience, this is the breath of the Christian. The Apostle was one who, in writing his letters, never wrote (as one has said) with a dry eye: such is his heart for the saints of God. Continually we find also the references to the way his heart is occupied with the Lord, as being poured out to his God and Father, or to the Head of the Church, in prayer, in order that His saints may be maintained, and that those in whom God has begun a good work, may continue in the faith grounded and settled. (Eph. 1:16-23; Eph. 3:14-19; Col. 2:1-3)."

But we must not pass by those two little words: "my God:" "I thank my God for all my remembrance of you." The Apostle had just said he was the slave of Christ Jesus, which means he belonged to Christ Jesus. Now he speaks of "my God." When speaking to the heathen on the ship on the way to Rome, he said: "Whose I am, and Whom I serve." But now, writing to the saints, he says: "my God." Not only are these words intensely individual, but they also tell of love and nearness. The Apostle loved to use those words: we find them again in Chapter 4:19: "My God shall supply all your need." He thanks "my God" for the Romans, and for Philemon. (Rom. 1:8; Philemon 4). To the Corinthians he wrote: "I fear . . . lest my God will humble me among you." In Phil. 3:8 he speaks of "Christ Jesus my Lord." It is a grand thing to be able to know God as "our own God." (Ps. 67:6). The voluntary slave in Ex. 21 could say: "I love my Master." Thomas said: "My Lord and my God!" How good when we can say: "I am His, and He is mine, for ever, and for ever!"

We must link Verse 5 with Verse 3: "I thank my God upon all my remembrance of you . . . for your fellowship in the interests of the Gospel, from the first day until now." We have already spoken of the seven times we find FELLOWSHIP linked with the Philippian saints: but what is fellowship, as used in the New Testament? The Greek word for it comes from the word used for "partners" in Luke 5:10. James and John were partners with Simon in the fishing business. I believe in the New Testament fellowship always means a relation between persons, based on Christian unity: perhaps "Joint Participation" is one of the best definitions of the meaning. When Lydia received Paul and his company into her house, she was having joint participation in the Gospel: when Paul was preaching in Thessalonica, and the Philippian saints sent him gifts (Phil. 4:16) they were having joint participation in the Gospel, or, "fellowship in the Gospel."

Now the Apostle gives thanks for this fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until "the now," the present moment. Sometimes the saints grow weary of sharing in the Gospel; adversity comes; evil reports are spread; there are heavy demands at home; and the fellowship in the Gospel grows cold. It is generally the poor, like the Philippians, who have that unceasing fellowship in the Gospel, that never grows weary. Indeed, Paul could not accept this fellowship in the Gospel from the rich saints in Corinth, who were going on badly. See 2 Cor. 11:7-12. But what is so precious is that unwearying fellowship, that never loses heart; through evil report and good report; through dark days and bright; through poverty and prosperity: that is the fellowship in the Gospel that the Philippian saints had.

You remember David made it a rule that those who went down to the battle, and those who tarried by the stuff, should share alike: they were having joint participation in the war. But gifts are not the only way of showing fellowship in the Gospel: there are countless other ways. Epaphras laboured fervently in prayer: and so may we. What a cheer an encouraging letter is! Some hold the hats of those preaching in the open air; some help with the singing: some bring friends to the meetings. Love of the Gospel, and love of the One who is the theme of the Gospel, will devise means to have a share in the interests of the Gospel. And, "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward His Name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister." (Heb. 6:10).

But, sad to say, not all in Paul's day had fellowship in the Gospel. There were those who preached Christ even of envy and strife, supposing to add affliction to the Apostle. They probably were real Christians, and they preached Christ: but they had not fellowship in the Gospel. There have always been such, and there always will be. Let us take heed when we find even true Christians seeking to add affliction to those who preach the Gospel, rather than having fellowship in the Gospel. It is so easy to find fault, and those who do so, often know little of the true circumstances. I need hardly add that we cannot have fellowship with what is contrary to the Word. But let us beware lest our criticisms are merely an excuse for our lack of fellowship "in the interests of the Gospel." Let us each one, Beloved, seek more and more to imitate these dear Philippian saints in their fellowship in the interests of the Gospel!

* * * * *
"A worker who is 'winsome' will surely win some!"
(Charles G. Baskerville)

Called unto the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor. 1:9)
Fellow-citizens (Eph. 2:19)
Fellow-heirs (Eph. 3:6)
Fellow-soldiers (Phil. 2:25)
Fellow-workers (Col. 4:11) Fellow-labourers (Phil. 4:3)
Fellow-helpers (3 John 8)
Fellow-slaves (Col. 1:7; 4:7; Rev. 6:11)
Fellow-imitators (Phil. 3:17)
Yoke-fellow (Phil. 4:3)
Heirs together of the Grace of Life Joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17)
"The fellowship of His Sufferings" (Phil. 3:10)

Chapter 8

"Persuaded"

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform (it) until the day of Jesus Christ."

"Having been persuaded of this very thing, that the (One) having begun (inaugurated) in you a good work, will finish it up until Christ Jesus' day."

Philippians 1:6.

The word translated "persuaded" in the verse just quoted above, is often translated "believe." It is a persuasion that makes one believe: it made the Apostle quite sure of what he spoke. He had to say to the Galatians: "I stand in doubt of you", or, "I am perplexed about you." He had no doubt or perplexity as to the Philippian saints: and yet, though it was indeed by looking at the saints themselves he was so fully persuaded, as we shall see; yet his confidence was really in the Lord: he was persuaded that the One Who had begun the good work in them, would complete it: so his faith and confidence were in the Lord, rather than in the saints themselves. And it is well when our eyes are on the Lord, rather than on the saints only: though we may truly delight to see saints walking well. When the dear Apostle looked off to the Lord, he could add, even to the Galatians, "I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded." (5:10). And to the Corinthians, whom he had to scold about so many things, he wrote: "having confidence in you all." (2 Cor. 2:3). And at the very beginning of the First Letter to them, before he mentions one word of blame: he writes: "Our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall confirm you unto the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by Whom ye were called." (1 Cor. 1:8-10). The Apostle also writes to the Romans (15:14), to the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 3:4), to Timothy (2 Tim. 1:5), and to Philemon (ver. 21), that he is persuaded of them. In every one of these cases (except 1 Cor. 1) it is the same word: being persuaded, being confident, or quite sure. And because of this confidence, he writes: "Therefore we are always of good cheer." (2 Cor. 5:6): "good cheer" is quite a different word. How often we find some who refuse to have confidence in those who have confessed the Lord's Name: and perhaps these very doubts raise doubts in the hearts of those who are truly the Lord's; and so stumble them. What good cheer to our own hearts should this confidence of the Apostle prove. Sometimes we see the saints we love going on so badly that we stand in doubt of them, we are perplexed as to them, are they truly saints or not? And yet we are persuaded that the Lord did begin a good work in them: and, coming nearer home, sometimes, perhaps, we are so disappointed in ourselves, that we wonder if it is possible that we ourselves are truly saints. How often does our heart condemn us! Let us remember, then, that God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. (1 John 3:20). Yes, at such times we need to look off unto Jesus, and we also may be persuaded that HE will finish up that work which HE began, unto, or, until, or, against, Christ Jesus' day. "Christian love is clear-sighted and full of trust with regard to its objects, because God Himself, and the energy of His grace, are in that love." (JND). Knowing all the failures of the Corinthians, the Apostle falls back on the words: "God is faithful." What encouragement for us! We have no Apostles now: we have not even ordained "bishops and deacons." But we have GOD: the same GOD as the Apostle: and GOD IS FAITHFUL! As the Apostle parted from his beloved Ephesians, he said: "I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace." And we still have the same Resource: GOD, and the Word of HIS Grace.

But if our confidence is at all in ourselves, then God allows us to see what a wretched foundation that is for confidence. It matters not how great the gift, nor how great the knowledge of the Word, our confidence must be in GOD Himself. And if our confidence is truly there, then, like the Apostle, we may be "always of good cheer," whether it be life or death: whether it be our daily walk or some special service our Master may give us: we may be truly confident, and so "always of good cheer." We have seen that the Apostle's confidence for the Corinthians was because God is faithful. For the Galatians, whose condition was even more serious, it was the Lord alone Who gave him hope. But here in Philippi it is different. Not only is His confidence in what GOD is, but also in what he saw of Christ, by the Holy Spirit, in these dear Philippian saints. He knew what they had been, and he knows what they are now. He saw such true enjoyment of Christ, such fellowship with His interests down here, that his confidence was not only in a general way [that] he would meet them by and by with Christ, but he had complete confidence in the work of God in them all the way through.

In the sentence, "He Who has begun a good work in you," the word "begun" has a solemn, ceremonial connection. "Inaugurated" might be a better word. It was no light matter to begin that work: let us ever remember it cost the life of the Son of God to begin it in any of us: and, if the work was real and true, it was no light matter with us either. But what comfort to look away from ourselves and our failures to Him Who began the work, and know we may count HIM to finish it!
"The work which His goodness began,
The arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet:
Things future, nor things that are now,
Nor all things below nor above,
Can make Him His promise forego,
Or sever our souls from His love."
And let us remember that it is "God which worketh in both to will and to do of His good pleasure." the willing and the working are from God: there is no room to boast. And if it is of GOD, it cannot fail for, "HE FAILETH NOT."

Notice the two "days" that are mentioned in these two verses, 5 & 6: "The first day", and, "Christ Jesus' day:" the beginning of the race, and the ending. "The first day" was the day when they heard the Gospel and believed it. When is "Christ Jesus' day"? The present time is called "man's day" (1 Cor. 3:13, Margin). But "Christ Jesus' day" is coming. Now, man is allowed to a large extent to have his own way. Then, Christ Jesus will have His own way. Then, all enemies will be put under His feet. Then, He will gather all His own unto Himself. Then, we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is. Then, even our bodies will be fashioned like unto His glorious body. Then, we shall be conformed unto the image of His Son. Then, He will finish up the good work which He began in us at the first day. (It is almost the same word as, "It is finished" at the Cross.) Well may the Apostle cry: "I AM PERSUADED, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:38, 39). Lord, Give us more of this "persuasion!"

* * * * * *

"Go into God's great workshop and you will find nothing that bears the mark of haste, or mere impulse. What His grace begins, the arm of His strength will complete. It is not God's way to do things by halves. God's work is always thorough."
(Sidelights on the Epistle to the Philippians. By C. G. Baskerville)

Always Confident
I have a mighty Friend
    In Heaven above;
All who on Him depend
    His care shall prove:
In every trial here,
All through the desert drear,
I can have nought to fear:
    His Name is Love.

Only a little while
    He is away:
Soon will my Saviour's smile
    Turn night to day.
Oh, joy beyond compare
To meet Him in the air,
His home of light to share
    Soon and for aye!

Home! how that word so sweet
    Thrills to the heart!
Home! where the children meet
    Never to part.
Then like Him I shall be,
Whose blood was shed for me:
Then, Jesus, I shall see
    Thee as Thou art.
        (H. K. Burlingham)

Chapter 9

"In your heart"

"Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace."

"Just as it is right (or, just) for me to be thus minded (or, to think this) in behalf of you all, because you have me in your heart (or, because I have you in my heart), as all of you being, both in my bonds and in the defence and confirmation of the Glad Tidings, my fellow-partners of this grace."

Philippians 1:7.

In our last meditation we pondered Paul's persuasion that the One having begun a good work in the Philippian saints, would finish it up until Christ Jesus' day. Now we will see the reason for this persuasion, and that it was not alone that Love hopeth all things: but it was the only right and just thing for Paul to think. The "me" is emphatic. Whatever it might be in the eyes of others, for Paul it was the only right thing. And may not this "right" thing apply to more than to the persuasion? Does it not include the Apostle's thankfulness in verse 3, and his joy in verse 4, at all his remembrance of them. It was right and just that he should be thankful; and right and just that he should rejoice.

And why was it right, or just? The answer may be equally rendered, "Because you have me in your heart", or, "Because I have you in my heart." Which did the Spirit of God intend the Philippians to understand? We do not know: but perhaps, since both are true, and the words may mean both; the Spirit intended them to understand it in both ways. A dear little boy was sitting on his mother's knee, gazing into her eyes. The child said, "Mother, you must love me very much, because you carry round a little picture of me in your eyes: I can see it there." His mother replied, "And I can see a little picture of me in your eyes: how much you must love me!" It was mutual: and sure I am it was mutual with Paul and the Philippian saints. But let this remind us of Him Who has us in His heart.

We have noticed how often we find the little word "all", and here again Paul stresses the fact that they were all his fellow-partners. Sad to say they were not all of one mind about certain other matters: but when it came to Paul's bonds, and the Gospel: they were all united: all of one mind. We have spoken of the seven times we find "fellowship" with regard to these saints, and this is one of them. Here it is fellowship with, or being fellow-partners of, Paul's bonds. We are apt to be ashamed of a friend in jail: but these dear saints were not ashamed, but gloried in being his fellow-partners. Is not this just what is meant in Hebrews, where we read, "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them." (Heb. 13:3). That is just what the Philippian saints did towards Paul.

But it was not only in his bonds they had fellowship: it was also in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel. The defence is the negative, defensive side: the confirmation is the positive or aggressive side: and there are both sides to the Gospel: not only its defence, but also the direct establishment and advancement of it. The Philippians were fellow-partners in both these. And they were "fellow-partners of this grace." Grace is favour: free, unmerited favour: and these dear saints were not only favoured with having a part in the Gospel: and what a favour that is! but they were also favoured with having part in Paul's bonds: and, as we saw, in the same chapter we read: "Unto you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." It is a wondrous privilege to preach Christ: but it is no less a privilege to suffer for His sake: you remember the Apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name. (Acts 5:41). But I fear many of us would prefer not to have this privilege. But the Lord can give, and does give, when the time comes, the grace to suffer for Him: and again let us remember that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the Glory which shall be revealed in us. May the Lord help us each to be more like these dear Philippian saints!

"Inasmuch"
"Inasmuch as ye have done it
    Unto these Mine own,
Ye have done it to your Saviour
    On His kingly throne."

"Lord, we counted not the labour,
    'Twas our joy to serve,
Gladly, willingly to offer
    All, without reserve."
* * *
"Ye have shared My cup of sorrow,
    Borne My Cross of shame,
Counted worthy thus to suffer
    For your Master's Name.

'Inasmuch': — each loving service
    Unto Me was done,
Since through all the endless ages
    I and Mine are one.

In the person of My chosen
    I have lived again,
And the love for My sake shown them
    Ever shall remain.

Unforgotten in the glory,
    Where ye yet shall meet,
And, no more for ever parted,
    Worship at My feet."
        (Freda Hanbury Allen)

Chapter 10

His longing and his prayer

"For God is my witness how I passionately long after you all in the heart of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 1:8)

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

That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

That ye may approve things that are excellent;

That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

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

"For God (is) my witness how I-passionately-long-after you all in (the) heart of Christ Jesus. And this I-pray,

That your love yet more and more may-overflow in intimate-knowledge and in-all perception,

To-the-end ye may-test-and-approve the-(things) more-excellent,

That ye-may-be sincere and without-stumbling for Christ's day,

Having-been-filled-with (the) fruit of-righteousness, by-means-of Jesus Christ, to God's glory and praise."

Philippians 1:8-11.

In our last Chapter we saw that Paul had the Philippian saints in his heart, and they had Paul in their hearts. Now he speaks again of this longing for these saints. The ordinary Greek word for longing is never used in the New Testament, but a preposition is added to it, that gives the idea of "straining after" the object longed for. One writer translates it "yearning;" another speaks of it as "homesick longing." In the New Testament, I think the word is always used in a good sense. Paul passionately longed to see the Roman saints: (Rom. 1:11 & 15:23); we passionately long (ardently desire, J.N.D.) to be clothed with our house which is from heaven. (2 Cor. 5:2); the poor saints passionately longed for those who had shown them loving care. (2 Cor. 9:14); Epaphroditus passionately longed for his Philippian brethren, because they had heard that he was sick, and were troubled. (Phil. 2:26); In Chapter 4:1 Paul speaks of the Philippian saints as, "My brethren, beloved and passionately longed for, my joy, and crown." The Thessalonian saints passionately longed to see Paul. 1 Thess. 3:6; Paul, in the dungeon at Rome, passionately longed to see Timothy. (2 Tim. 1:4). The Spirit of God passionately longs over the saints. (James 4:5); and we are to passionately long for the sincere milk of the Word, that we may grow thereby. 1 Peter 2:2.

Christians are sometimes accused of being enthusiasts; but when we remember the New Testament never uses the moderate word for longing, and so often uses the more intense one, we may see that it is right for us to be enthusiasts in right ways.

Now notice, In Whose heart is this passionate longing for the saints? "I passionately long after you in the heart of Christ Jesus." In Verse 7 Paul had the Philippian saints in his heart. Now it is as though he said: "Nay, rather, in the heart of Christ Jesus I passionately long for you." (The word for heart is different, but almost interchangeable). An old writer has said, "In Paul, Paul did not live, but Jesus Christ." Galatians 2:20 tells us the same thing. But does not this verse give us a glimpse into the heart of Christ Himself, as He passionately longs over us, those He purchased with His own blood?

Beloved, is there no lesson for us in this little verse? Would that our longing for one another were more passionate. Then we would be found (as the Apostle is found in the next verse) much more in earnest prayer for each other. It was Paul's passionate longing for the Philippians that drew forth that fervent prayer. May we each one be more enthusiasts in our longing for one another. Nor let us forget that we are exhorted to be passionately longing for the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby: and this, I think, we will see is suggested in the next verse in our Chapter.

A passionate longing for anyone, soon causes us to pray for that one, and so immediately the Apostle adds, "And this I pray, (or, I am praying), in order that your love may yet more and more overflow in intimate knowledge and in all perception, to the end ye may approve the things that are excellent, (or, discriminate the things that differ), that ye may be clear and without stumbling for Christ's day, being filled with the fruit of righteousness, which is through Jesus Christ, to God's glory and praise." (Phil. 1:9-11). In the 4th verse the Apostle had already said he was "always in every supplication of mine on behalf of you all, making the supplication with joy." Now, in the verses before us, he tells the saints what the objects of those supplications were. We will see there were four chief requests:
That their love might abound yet more and more.
That they may have the grace of discernment, able to test things which differ.
That they might be sincere and without offence.
That they might be filled with the fruits of righteousness.

We will now, with the Lord's help, seek to ponder these requests. Notice well that LOVE is the foundation of all. Without love we are but sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. When the Church at Ephesus had left her first love, she was a fallen Church. Discernment, the ability to test things which differ, would be worthless without love. And the Apostle prays that their love might abound yet more and more. Living love must grow; and a love that does not grow and increase is probably a dead and worthless love: or, at least, a diseased and unhealthy love. And notice it is not spoken of as a certain definite love: as love to God, or love to Christ, or to the Apostle himself, or to other saints, or even love of the Word and prayer. It is love in general, and doubtless takes in all these. You may have noticed that the true reading of 1 John 4:19, is, "We love, because He first loved us." You may feel, as I did, disappointed at the old familiar words being changed: and these old, well-loved words are certainly true: we do love Him, because He first loved us: but the true reading includes the old words we all love so much, but it takes in much more. It is a general, absolute love: love to "Him" and love to one another: love of the Word, and love of prayer, are all included. So it is here in our verse in Philippians, I believe. And the only way for that love to increase yet more and more, is to know more and more of His love to us: it is to keep ourselves in the sunshine of His love: it is not by examining our love to see how much we have: it is not by trying to love more: but it is just to take Him at His word when He tells us how much He loves us, and bask in the sunshine of His love:
"He loved the ones for whom He died.
Not ours to question why!
But ours to know the love of Him
        Who came to die."

But it is not to be a blind love: rather it is to be a love in intimate knowledge and in all perception. The Spirit of God does not use the ordinary word for "knowledge," but adds a preposition to it, which gives the meaning of a deep, true, spiritual knowledge, as distinguished from superficial, or merely intellectual knowledge. We get the two words beautifully distinguished in 1 Cor. 13:12: "Now I know in part, but then I-shall-intimately-know just as also I-am-intimately-known." (The words with hyphens are only one word in Greek: "I-shall-intimately-know" is in the middle voice, so has the thought, "I shall know for myself.") The contrast of the two words is that of Job 42:5: "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee." Let us notice that this prayer in Philippians tells us that the Spirit of God would have us even now, down here, have something of that "intimate knowledge" that we will have in its fulness up there, when we see Him as He is, and know Him as we are known. We find a very similar prayer, using this same word, in Ephesians 1:17.

Linked with this intimate knowledge, that only love can give, is another rare and beautiful grace: — "All Perception." The word for "perception" is only used here in the Greek New Testament: though words from the same root are found in Luke 9:45 and Hebrews 5:14. The idea of the word is an apprehension by the senses. Christians receive, as it were, a new sense, as of touch or taste, by which they discriminate the properties of things proposed to them for thought or action. It is this sense of perception that makes even a lamb of the flock "know My voice," as the Good Shepherd says, "and a stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers." But it is as we keep close to the Shepherd, and listen to His voice, that we unconsciously cultivate this sense of perception; and the reason the lamb or the sheep keeps close to the Shepherd is because it loves Him. I have known a Mother and Child who were devoted to each other, with whom this sense of perception had truly become another "sense," as touch or taste, so that it was unnecessary for either to speak: a look, a smile, a touch of the hand, and the one would know the inmost heart of the other: it was love taught them. It was not by trying, but it was love that made them so near to each other, that the perception came naturally, if we may so speak.

So may it be with Divine Love that abounds yet more and more. It is this rare grace of perception that gives us to be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. One good translator puts it this way: "in clear knowledge and keen perception." And love is the foundation of all. It is no true proof of love, either to God, or to the children of God, when we are content to go on with what is displeasing to God, out of "love to His children," as we are apt to say. Ponder well 1 John 5:1-5. This is not love in intimate knowledge and perception.

As we have said, the word for "perception" is a very rare word; and perhaps this suggests that the grace described by it is also very rare. The men of Issachar, who had understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do, (1 Chron. 12:32), seem to have had this grace. "All the proud men" of Jeremiah 43:2 are examples of those who were utterly devoid of it: for pride and perception cannot exist together. "The meek will He guide in judgment: the meek will He teach His way." (Ps. 25:9).

"That ye may approve things that are excellent," may equally well be translated, "That ye may discriminate things that differ." In other Scriptures, the words used here are translated in both ways. The meaning is really the same. They have learned to "take forth the precious from the vile." (Jer. 15:19). With a Christian, to discriminate things that differ, is to approve things that are excellent. Strange and sad it is that this grace should be so rare. How few there are to whom one may go in perplexity, and know one will be welcomed with understanding love, and will receive true and sound counsel. I fear it is that we do not keep close enough to the Good Shepherd to have cultivated this grace. The Apostle could cry, "That I may know Him!" How well he knew Him, but the better we know, the more earnestly we long to know more intimately. The more true intelligence there is, the greater the desire to grow in it: but it is for daily use in the things we meet moment by moment. And this Epistle shows us spiritual progress more fully than any other, while it is this Epistle that shows us the strongest desire to press on. We know from experience whenever we begin to be satisfied with what we have got, there is an end of progress: but when we make a little advance, then we long to make more.

The third request is: "That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ." Let us notice those first words: "That ye may be." Remember this follows the prayer for discernment, to test things which differ: to approve things that are excellent. There must be a practical result follow from this occupation with the excellent things: they should produce character and conduct. It has been said that to be a Christian is "To be, To do, To suffer." But first is the necessity, "That ye may be." And what are we to be? We are to be, first of all, sincere. There is no word in the English language that can fully bring out the meaning of the Greek word that "sincere" seeks to translate. Probably "sincere" is the best to be found. The Greek word signifies properly what is "distinct", "unmixed." It is only found in the New Testament in this Scripture and in 2 Peter 3:1. A word formed from it is found in 1 Cor. 5:8; 2 Cor. 1:12; 2:17. Its derivation is uncertain. Some think it is from a word meaning "that which is cleansed by much rolling and shaking to and fro, in the sieve." Another more beautiful derivation (if only we could be sure it is right) is "that which is held up to the sunlight and in that proved, and approved." But the meaning is probably "not so much the clear, the transparent, as the purged, the winnowed, the unmingled." This grace will exclude all double-mindednesses, the divided heart, the eye not single, all hypocrisies. (Trench: Synonyms). If you can, read Mr. Bellett's little book, "Woollen and Linen;" it is based on Lev. 19:19 and Deut. 22:11: "Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as woollen and linen together." You will find it a word in season for today: searching and helpful. Later in this Epistle Paul could say: "One thing I do." There was no mixture in his life or motives: neither should there be in ours. He who walks thus "will desire to hide nothing from the light that searches him. For his sun is his shield also." (Pridham).

But not only are we to be sincere, we are also to be "without offence." The Greek word has the original meaning: "To strike against." The thought is, that as we walk our foot might strike against a stone, or other obstacle, and we stumble. The exhortation here may mean either that we do not stumble ourselves, or that we do not cause others to stumble. I like to think it has both meanings: and if we walk without stumbling ourselves, then surely we will not cause others to stumble. The word is used also in two other places in the New Testament: Acts 24:16, translated a conscience "void of offence:" a conscience that looks back on the pathway and sees no stumbles: — that should be our object. It is also used in 1 Cor. 10:32: "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God." Here we are to avoid putting a stumbling block in the way of any of these persons: and they comprise the whole world. In Jude 24, it is a different word; yet I think we may connect the meaning with this Scripture: "Unto Him that is able to keep you without stumbling" (New Trans.) So we have no excuse for a stumble: if we will but let Him keep us.

Another has said of this passage (The Bible Treasury, Feb. 1st, 1865): "That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ." Wonderful thought! The apostle actually prays for these believers as if he conceived it possible that, growing in love and intelligence, they might walk the path of faith till the day of Christ without a single false step: Paul's marvel, perhaps, would have been that we should count it wonderful. Alas! we know we fail day by day because we are unspiritual. Why do we let out a vain word, or show a wrong feeling? Because we are not realizing the presence and the grace of God. No progress in the things of God will ever keep a person — nothing but actual nearness to Him, and dependence on Him. What is a Christian, and what the condition and experience which Scripture recognizes for him here below? He is by grace brought, in virtue of Christ's blood, into the presence of God; he has a power within him, the Holy Ghost, and power without him to lean upon, even the Lord Jesus Christ, and this uninterruptedly and always. Such is the theory: but what is the practice? As far as it is realized, the path is without a single stumble. And let us remember that such is the only sanctioned path for all saints. It belongs not of right to some advanced souls. It is what every Christian has to desire. We can therefore readily understand how some souls, hearing such thoughts as these, should embrace the idea of a state of perfection. But though the scheme is erroneous, and utterly short of our true standard in the Second Man, the last Adam, a Christian ought never contentedly settle down in the thought that he must fail and sin day by day. What is this but calm acquiescence with dishonouring Christ? If we do fail, let us, at least, always say, It is our own fault, our own unwatchfulness, through not making use of the grace and strength we have in Christ. The treasure is there open for us, and we have only to draw upon it, and the effect is staid, calm, spiritual progress, the flesh judged, the heart overflowing with happiness in Christ, the path without a single stumble till the day of Christ.

"More than this, let it be remarked, he prays that they might be filled with the fruit of righteousness by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God. There is no thought of, nor room for, imposing the law here, which is rather shut out from being the proper standard for the Christian. There is Another, who is both our new Object and our Rule, even Christ Himself, the image of God, the life and power of fruit-bearing for the believer. What a rule for our practical everyday walk!"

The last paragraph quoted introduces us to the Fourth Request in the apostle's prayer. Actually it is very closely linked with the Third Request: "In order that ye may be sincere and without stumbling for Christ's day, having been filled with the fruit of righteousness by means of Jesus Christ, unto God's glory and praise." It is not "until Christ's day," but, "for Christ's day," as in the New Translation, or, "unto," or, "against Christ's day." We find the expression "until Christ's day" in Verse 6 of our chapter, and "for", or, "unto Christ's day" again used in Chapter 2:16. I think it looks forward to that day when Christ shall be supreme: all subject to His will: and when every man's work will be manifested. You will remember that the present time is called "man's day." (1 Cor. 4:3, Margin, & New Trans.) What a contrast will "Christ's Day" be!

"Being filled with the fruit of righteousness" is literally, "having been filled" (the perfect participle), which seems to look forward to Christ's day, when the Apostle will rejoice to see these beloved saints like a tree having been well filled with fruit, and not an empty branch among them. And notice it is fruit: not, fruits. This fruit is like a bunch of grapes: "the results of grace are manifold, yet as to their material they are one, and each is necessary to the fulness of the rest." You will recall the Spirit speaks of "the fruit of the Spirit," in Gal. 5:22, and then enumerates nine different aspects of that fruit. In Ephesians 5:9, we read of "the fruit of the light:" (not of the Spirit) In James 3:18, we read again of "the fruit of righteousness." In 2 Cor. 9:10, it is "products of your righteousness."

And what is "the fruit of righteousness"? We must remember that a man is not only reckoned righteous by faith, as we get so clearly in Romans and Galatians, but also by works, as we get in James. Does not "the fruit of righteousness" tell us of these "works," as intimated in the verse just quoted above: — "products of your righteousness"? Perhaps an illustration might help: In a certain Sunday School there was an exceedingly naughty boy named Leslie, about ten years of age. He could do more to upset the Sunday School than any child there, and he was a terror at home and at school. One day he was converted, and there was a great change. Some six or eight weeks later, after Sunday School had been dismissed and the children scattered, an older boy came to the teacher, and said: "My name is Tom. I live across the street from Leslie. A few weeks ago he said he'd become a Christian. I've been watching him since then; and if being a Christian has changed him to what he is now, I want to be a Christian too." This "change" was "the fruit of righteousness," and also "the fruit of the righteous," as we get in Prov. 11:30: "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise." To Tom it was indeed "a tree of life," for without speaking a word, Leslie had won a soul to the Lord. I think that is why the words "He that winneth souls is wise" are included in that verse.

But let us never forget that "the fruit of righteousness" is only by "means of Jesus Christ." He is the "Tree of Life", the "True Vine", and fruit is only borne on those branches that abide in Him. (John 15). "And every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." (Verse 2). And so we find in Hebrews 12:11, that chastening, though not joyous but grievous, yields "the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby."

So, those who are justified by faith, who have Christ for their righteousness, when they walk in the light, keep the flesh judged, and are exercised unto godliness: such manifest in their walk "the fruit of righteousness." And do not forget that there is not only to be "the fruit of righteousness," but the tree is to be filled with the fruit of righteousness. It is as we find in John 15: "fruit," "more fruit," and "much fruit." And so the end and object of all, when "filled with the fruit of righteousness" is to the glory of God. The true fruit of righteousness will not bring glory to us, but to God. Lord, Answer this prayer of the Apostle in each one of us, for His Son's sake. Amen.

* * * * *
Lord, carry me up to Thy home in the glory,
Where Thou hast purchased a mansion for me,
Where, free from distractions and trials and sorrow,
I'll rest in the joy of Thy presence with Thee.

Long has Thy Bride for Thy coming been waiting,
To take her, as promised, to rest in Thy home;
Come then, Lord Jesus, we long for Thy presence,
Fully to know Thy deep love for Thine own.

Here nations are striving, false teachers deceiving,
Thy saints are divided and scattered from Thee.
Come, gather us, Lord, to Thyself in the glory,
And then come and reign o'er creation set free.

O Lord, we grow sleepy, and worldly, and lukewarm;
Speak to our hearts of Thy coming again;
Touch these cold hearts, with Thy love, as our Bridegroom,
And hasten Thy coming to take us all home.
        (J. B. Dunlop)

Chapter 11

Bonds in Christ

"But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things (which happened) unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other (places); and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."

"But I-wish you to-know, Brothers, that the-(things) concerning me have-turned-out rather to (the) furtherance of-the Glad Tidings, so-that my bonds have-become manifest in Christ in (the) whole-of the Praetorium, and to-all the rest, and the most of-the brothers in (the) Lord being-confident by-my bonds, more-abundantly dare to-speak the Word fearlessly."

Philippians 1:12-14.

Verses 1 to 11 have formed a sort of introduction to the Apostle's letter to his beloved brethren in Philippi: an introduction that has breathed out his intense love for them, and his joy and confidence in them. With Verse 12 we begin a new subject, even his own condition in Rome. It is experience we have brought before us now, rather than doctrine: and let us remember these lines were written, not merely for the beloved saints in Philippi, but for our sakes also they were written: nor were they written merely to satisfy curiosity as to Paul's condition, and the condition of the Gospel at that time: but there are precious, hidden lessons in these words for each one of us.

It would be only natural for the saints to assume that now the great Apostle of the Gentiles is silenced and in prison, that the Glad Tidings (which had been committed to his trust) would suffer. So the very first thing the Apostle tells them, is that this is not the case: instead, "the things concerning me have turned out rather to the furtherance of the Glad Tidings." That little word rather seems to say, "Contrary to what might be expected." Instead of the Apostle's captivity hindering the Glad Tidings, it has helped them, it has advanced them, it tells of progress rather than failure. What comfort this may bring to our hearts in these days, when we seem to see the enemy gaining victories on so many fronts: the doors for the Gospel closed in China, and other lands, and many of the Lord's true-hearted servants in prisons or labour-camps. Doubtless the enemy of souls rejoices that he has won a mighty victory. But the verses before us may fill our hearts with peace; for the Captain of our Salvation is still the Same: He has never lost a battle, and He never will: and the day will come when we, too, will rejoice to see that the things that are happening in China, and other lands, will turn out to the furtherance of the Glad Tidings. Paul had written to the saints in Rome, (not many years before), saying: "We do know that all things work together for good to them that love God." (See New Translation; Romans 8:28). Now he is giving them a practical demonstration that what he had written to them is really true. And that precious verse is still true: you and I may rest upon it without fear: as we read on we will see that the Apostle still held to it, even when only too manifest that the flesh had come in. "All things" with the Apostle really meant "ALL THINGS," even though we may be slow to believe it.

And how could Paul's imprisonment turn out to the furtherance of the Glad Tidings? In two ways: First, that very imprisonment meant that for 24 hours a day the Apostle was bound with a chain to a Roman soldier, who could not leave him, even if he wished to. The Apostle's right arm was chained to the soldier's left, with a "coupling-chain," or, "handcuff," and as the guards were changed, day by day, many a soldier would hear the Gospel from Paul's lips, "so that my bonds have become manifest in Christ in the whole of the Praetorium." It is not quite certain what is meant by the "Praetorium." Probably not the imperial palace, as our English version would suggest, but rather it almost surely means the great "Imperial Guard," who were quartered in a fortified camp, on the east side of Rome. It is said to have consisted of 10,000 picked men, all of Italian birth. As each guard returned to the barracks after his spell of duty, he would tell his comrades of the strange prisoner he had been watching that day: not a criminal: not a political prisoner: but a prisoner solely for Christ's sake: so his bonds became manifest to all, to the whole Camp, as "in Christ."

Through the mercy of God, you and I are not bound to anyone with a coupling-chain, but we are daily brought into contact with many. We go to school, or to the shop, or office, we do our shopping, the baker calls or the postman: I wonder is it manifest to each that we belong to Christ? Are these daily contacts for the furtherance of the Glad Tidings? Were Paul in our place, they surely would be. God may use even a child for this work. I recall a boy of 12 or 14 who was used to lead a man to Christ, by giving him a tract each time he left his films to be developed: at first the man laughed at him, but he told me himself, that child was really the means of winning him to Christ: and after he was won, he used to open his shop in the evenings for Gospel meetings, and who knows how many others were won?

But the Praetorium Guards were not the only ones to hear the Glad Tidings from Paul's lips. He adds these brief, but comprehensive words: "And all the rest." We might suppose this means all the rest of the city of Rome also came to know of his bonds, and the cause of them: and you will recall Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the Kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concerned the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him. (Acts 28:30, 31). So it is evident that without going out of his house, he had a very wide circle of service. But we also know that "all the rest" included even more than Rome: for we know of a run-away slave, perhaps from Colosse: a "useless" slave, we know; who was blessed in that hired house. (Philemon 10:11: etc., See Bagster's New Interlinear Greek New Testament).

But there was another, and much more unexpected way in which the Apostle's imprisonment had turned to the furtherance of the Glad Tidings. I doubt not the great enemy had thought when he got Paul imprisoned, that then the less bold would fear to take a stand, or speak for Christ, in case it brought them like troubles. The exact opposite was the result. The Apostle writes: "And the most of the brothers in the Lord, being confident by my bonds, more abundantly dare to speak the Word fearlessly." (Verse 14). There is nothing stirs the hearts of true servants of Christ to fervour and boldness, like a fervent, fearless, bold servant of Christ, who is ready to suffer for his Master. How often have those who have witnessed the death of a martyr, become followers of the martyr, and of his Master! Indeed, the word "martyr" is merely the Greek word for a "witness." In suffering and death, many a martyr has borne a more powerful witness to Christ, than ever he could by his life. May it not have been the fervent, fearless martyr Stephen who was the first link in the chain that caused Paul to be the bold and fearless witness for Christ that he afterwards became.

Our Lord does not offer us an easy pathway down here: on the contrary he says: "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, (say "No" to himself), and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matt. 16:24). He says again, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim. 3:12). And again: "Suffer evil along with the Glad Tidings." (2 Tim. 1:8: New Trans). It is not the sight of Christians living in ease and luxury that stirs the heart to follow Christ, to be confident, and to more abundantly dare speak the Word fearlessly: No, it is the fearless servant of Christ, who for Christ's sake is ready to suffer for the One he loves and follows, it is such a one who stirs my heart to go and do likewise. And this was the unexpected result of Paul's chain. Instead of one mouth to tell the Story, now "most of the brothers" are telling out the Glad Tidings.

It has always been the same. The first British martyr was Alban. He was a pagan, but by nature a kindly man, and sheltered a Christian named Amphibalus, who was being pursued. His contact with this Christian made a deep impression on him, and when finally the officers found where he was hiding, Alban changed clothes with him, in order to protect him. He was himself carried before the Governor, who commanded him to sacrifice to the idols. The brave Alban replied he was a Christian, and could not. The Governor first scourged, and then beheaded him. The venerable Bede states that the executioner, beholding, suddenly accepted Christ himself, and entreated permission either to die in Alban's place, or else to die with him. Both were beheaded by a soldier on the 22nd of June, 287, at Verulam, now St. Alban's. Many more similar instances might be quoted. See Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

* * * * *
The Servant's Path in a Day of Rejection
Servant of Christ, stand fast amid the scorn
    Of men who little know or love thy Lord;
Turn not aside from toil; cease not to warn,
    Comfort and teach. Trust Him for thy reward:
A few more moments' suffering, and then
    Cometh sweet rest from all thy heart's deep pain.

For grace pray much, for much thou needest grace;
    If men thy work deride, — what can they more?
Christ's weary foot thy path on earth doth trace;
        If thorns wound thee, they pierced Him before;
Press on, look up, though clouds may gather round;
    Thy place of service He makes hallowed ground.

Have friends forsaken thee, and cast thy name
    Out as a worthless thing? Take courage then;
Go, tell thy Master; for they did the same
    To Him, Who once in patience toiled for them:
Yet He was perfect in all service here;
    Thou oft hast failed; this maketh Him more dear.
* * *
"The time is short:" seek little here below;
    Earth's goods would cumber thee, and drag thee down;
Let daily food suffice; care not to know
    Thought for tomorrow; it may never come,
Thou canst not perish, for thy Lord is nigh,
    And His own care will all thy need supply.
        (J.J.P.)

Chapter 12

Preaching Christ: From envy or from love?

"Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the Gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."

"Some, on-the-one hand, even for envy and strife, but some, on-the-other hand, also for good-will preach the Christ: these indeed out of-love, knowing that I-am-set for (the) defence of-the Gospel, but those out of-rivalry proclaim the Christ, not purely, supposing to-arouse (or, stir-up) tribulation for-my bonds. What then? Notwithstanding, in-every way, whether in-pretence or in-truth, Christ is-proclaimed, and in this I-rejoice, yea, also I-will-rejoice."

Philippians 1:15-18.

We have seen that Paul's imprisonment turned out rather for the furtherance of the Gospel. "His very imprisonment preached Christ." But, alas, some indeed preached Christ even of envy and strife. The word for "strife" really means "Partisanship," or "Rivalry:" "Faction, Party-spirit, Intrigue" all belong to this word. Perhaps it is hard to imagine how anybody could do that: and yet, I grieve to say, we find the same thing very often today. On the mission field we find one mission trying to get ahead of another: we find vast areas in black, heathen darkness because some human society claims this as their private domain: and other servants of the Lord cannot find an entry there to preach the Gospel. Nor need we go so far from home: even amongst the saints of God at home, who love the Saviour and preach the Gospel, we have seen rivalry, emulation, and party-spirit come in. How often, especially perhaps in a large meeting like a conference, where a number of the Lord's servants are gathered together, do we see rivalry come in: we see one or another following in the steps of Diotrephes, and loving to have the pre-eminence: and friction and bitterness is often the result. I have heard it said, when a number of servants of the Lord were available to preach the Gospel, "We must ask So-and-So, as he would be hurt, if we did not." What is this, but preaching the Gospel from envy and strife? Sad is it indeed that such things can creep in: but our hearts are no better than the hearts of the saints at Rome, in the days of Paul: and well we need to take heed to these gentle admonitions in the Word.

Some have thought that the persons acting in this way were the same sort of persons as those who preached the law to the Galatians; but surely the Apostle would never have called such preaching "the Gospel," when he tells us that it is a "different Gospel, which is not another." What those men in Galatia preached was no Gospel at all: these men, on the other hand, "preached Christ." Paul could utter a curse, twice repeated, on those: over these he could rejoice. And so we must conclude that it was true Gospel, preached by untrue men, or, in an untrue way. Dear Mr. Lavington once said: "May the Lord help us to see that the keynote for the Christian, is the place that the Gospel has in our hearts and in our witness! And that, as the Apostle says, 'Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel.' (1 Cor. 9:16). The Lord help us to be more faithful, and rise to our privileges and responsibility."

But we can be thankful indeed, that amongst those dear saints at Rome, there were also those who preached Christ of "good will." The better Greek reading reverses the order of verses 16 and 17, as in the New Translation, so the description of those who preached of good will, follows immediately, and it is a joy to see they preached out of love, and it is the stronger word for love, not merely affection. The Apostle had once said, "The love of Christ constraineth me." And now it is love constrains these Roman saints to preach Christ. May we not suppose that little word "love" includes the love of Christ, love for Christ, and love for the Apostle? I doubt not that all were combined in the constraint that compelled them to preach Christ. And love is the only true motive for preaching the Gospel. It must be no cold duty, to be performed every so often: but a burning love that comes from the heart. The story is told of a little Christian servant girl, who worked for an infidel. Many a true Christian had reasoned with him as to his views, without effect. This girl was greatly troubled for her Master, for she loved him. One day in his presence, she could control herself no longer, and burst into tears. He asked what was the matter, and she could only sob out, that she was so concerned about his soul: and this led him to Christ. And so it was out of love the Roman saints "heralded the Christ," for so it is literally: and then the Apostle changes the word, and tells us they "proclaimed the Christ."

The ones who preached the Christ out of love, knew that the Apostle was set for the defence of the Gospel: and the ones who preached out of rivalry, supposed to raise up tribulation for his bonds. "Set for the defence of the Gospel" has the thought of a soldier who is posted in a certain position to defend it. The Captain of Salvation had posted Paul in a Roman prison for the defence of the Gospel; and Paul could well rejoice even in such a post: it was his Captain's doing; and it was for the defence of the Gospel. You remember that back in the 7th verse, we read again about the defence of the Gospel, and the share in that defence that the Philippian saints had. And now the Roman saints are having a share in it also. In our Authorised Version we read that the other preachers supposed "to add affliction" to his bonds. The better reading is to, "arouse," or "raise up," or "stir up" affliction. Their thought seems to have been (from the word used) that they supposed there would be "a tightening of the chain" that bound Paul. And what is Paul's answer to such a cruel motive? Oh, grand answer! "What then?" he asks, "Notwithstanding, or, at any rate, in every way, whether pretence, or whether in truth, CHRIST IS PROCLAIMED; and in this I rejoice; yea, also I will rejoice." What a magnificent answer! What can the enemy do with such a man as that? Truly the Joy of the Lord is his strength. He was, in very truth, glorying in tribulation, as once he had written to the saints at Rome. It is told of Chrysostom, bishop of Constantinople long ago, that he died repeating his favourite words: "Glory be to God for all events!" He was of the same spirit as Paul. May you and I, Beloved, have a portion of that spirit: it comes from an implicit faith in our Lord, and a single eye for Him and His Gospel.

Chapter 13

Salvation through Supplication

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

"For I-know that this shall-turn-out for-me unto salvation, through your supplication, and abundant-supply of-the Spirit of Jesus Christ."

Philippians 1:19.

As we have seen, the Apostle had once written: "We do know that all things work together for good to them that love God:" and now he writes: "I know that this shall turn out for me unto Salvation." What an unspeakable blessing is this positive certainty of the Apostle: and we may have the same certainty, for we have the same God. There are various words, with various shades of meaning, used in the Greek New Testament for our word "know." The word used in both the above cases is one that means "to know by reflection: a mental process based on intuition, or information." Was not the "intuition" that gave Paul this absolute certainty, the voice of the Spirit? But in this case there was more. The word translated "turn out" is used in one other instance in the New Testament in just this sense: that is in Luke 21:13, where the Lord Himself tells His disciples that when men lay their hands on them, and deliver them up to synagogues and prisons, "it shall turn out to you for a testimony." You will recall how much Luke was with Paul, and we may suppose he had told him of these words of our Lord Jesus: so, if that be the case, Paul had also the Lord's own words on which to rest for this certainty of which he speaks. And what a blessed certainty His words are!

"This shall turn out unto me for Salvation." Salvation is looked at in various ways in the New Testament. In 2 Timothy 1:9, we read: "Who hath saved us." In Eph. 2:5, 8, we read: "By grace ye are saved." In these instances we see Salvation as a thing already passed: and this is true: Thank God, I may say: "I know I am saved." But Salvation is also looked at as future, as in Romans 13:11, "Now is our Salvation nearer than when we believed." Or, 1 Thessalonians 5:8: "For an helmet, the hope of Salvation." In Hebrews, Salvation is, I think, always looked at as future: and in Philippians 1:28 and 2:12, it is also looked at as future. In the verse before us, it seems to include the preservation all along the way, to the very end, when we will enjoy the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23), which is future; as well as of our souls (1 Peter 1:18), which is past. I think it includes being preserved to "continue with you all," (verse 25), victorious over every difficulty, right on till he is presented, risen, faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy. (Jude 24). I think these are the only times Salvation is mentioned in the Epistle.

"I know that this shall turn out for me unto Salvation, through your supplication, and abundant-supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." There are various words used in the Greek New Testament for "prayer," and this is one of the strongest: it expresses the urgency of the need, and the sense of it in the minds of the dear Philippian saints. You recall the prayer meeting for Peter in the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, (Acts 12). What supplications must have gone up that evening! James, the leader of the assembly at Jerusalem, was absent: they may have been only a company of poor, unknown saints; and they do not seem to have had a great deal of faith: but may it not have been through their supplication, and the abundant-supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, that what looked like certain death for Peter turned out for him unto Salvation. And I do not think they were so different to us: I like to think of that company in Mary's house: as far as I know we only know the names of two, or perhaps three, — Rhoda, the damsel who went to open the door for him; and probably John Mark. Both may have been little more than children: certainly "young people." What an encouragement for my young Readers to attend the Prayer Meetings! Mark's mother, Mary, may have been there also. And the prayer meetings in Philippi for Paul may have been very much the same: perhaps the jailor and Lydia; maybe the girl from whom the demon was cast out; and, until he went to Rome, likely Epaphroditus: people just like ourselves, of like passions as we are (James 5:17), but it was through their supplications, and the abundant-supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, that Paul counted on his "Salvation."

The Apostle set great store by Prayer. We will find he asks for the prayers of every one of the assemblies that he addresses (also prayer is asked in Hebrews), except Philippi: because he did not need to ask: and Galatia, for they were not in a fit state for such service.
    "Away in foreign lands they wondered how
    Their simple word had power?
    At home, the Christians, two or three, had met
    To pray an hour."
    And we are always wondering, wondering, how?
    Because we do not see
    Someone unknown, perhaps, and far away,
    On bended knee.
So, may I add here, on our behalf: "Brethren, Pray for us!"

In the Greek New Testament there is a peculiarity in this sentence. The little word "the" comes before "supplication:" literally it is something like this: "the supplication of you:" but there is no word "the" before "abundant-supply," though in English we really need it there. In Greek the one word "the" applies to both, and in this way links together the "supplication" with the answer, which is the "abundant-supply of the Spirit." So sure is the Apostle of the answer that he can speak of it in the same breath with the prayer. In Phil. 3:10 we will find "the power of His resurrection, and fellowship of His sufferings" linked together in the same way.

The answer to the supplication was the "abundant-supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." The words "abundant-supply" represent one word only in Greek: and for this reason we have put a hyphen between them: I am not quite certain that it is entirely fair to translate it in this way: but I think it is. The Greek word is "epi-choreegia." The noun is only used here and in Eph. 4:16, though the verb is used more often. They are borrowed from a well-known Greek custom, by which wealthy citizens would undertake certain public services, such as dramatic performances. A wealthy man would provide "abundant and lavish supplies." The word lost its original connection, and came to mean simply "supply," but especially "an abundant supply." How suitable is this thought to the supplies which the Lord gives! I have counted seven times in the New Testament where this word, or the corresponding verb, is used of abundant supplies from God.

I cannot resist linking this with the Father's House as seen in Luke 15:25. The word there translated "dancing," is the plural of "Choros" (from which we get our word "Chorus"); and it means "A choir; or, A Band of Singers." (See Moulton & Milligan). Such was the joy of the Father's heart at receiving back his son, who was lost and is found, that He must have an abundant, lavish supply of singers: not one band, but "bands of singers," gathered to sound forth the Welcome Home! This word is from the very same root as the word the Apostle uses for the "abundant-supply" sent in answer to the supplication: and, to me, it links the lavish supplies of the Father's House, with the prison at Rome. And the same abundant, lavish supplies are still at hand, undiminished, for you and for me.

"The Spirit of Jesus Christ." As far as I know, this is the only place in the New Testament where we find this expression. We find "the Spirit of Jesus," in Acts 16:7 (New Translation), for this is the correct translation. We find "the Spirit of Christ" in Rom. 8:9 & 1 Peter 1:11. The Spirit of God surely has a special purpose in the use of this remarkable expression, "The Spirit of Jesus Christ: "

We have seen that Salvation is looked at in various aspects in the Scriptures: and in Philippians it appears to be seen as the power that carries us through our pathway in this world, right on to the Home in glory: but especially for our pathway down here. In Ephesians we are "in heavenly places in Christ." (Eph. 2:6). In Colossians we have a Head in Heaven, and we, the members, are on earth looking forward to the time when we shall soon be with Him: (Col. 1:13 to 19; 3:1 to 4). But in Philippians it is rather different: we are passing through the world: the world is unchanged, but we are changed: and though it is given us here, not only to believe on Christ, but also to suffer for His sake, we have a new power (through His Grace), even the Spirit of God: and the Holy Spirit is presented to the Philippian saints as "The Spirit of Jesus Christ."

The Precious Name of Jesus tells us of the lowly, humble Man on earth: this is the Name of the Babe in the manager: in weakness and rejection. But in this Epistle it is also the Name that is exalted to the highest place of honour: it is at the Name of "JESUS" that every knee shall bow. The Name, or Title, "Christ," means "The Anointed One:" it is the Greek for the Hebrew title, "Messiah." It is His official Title or Name. It tells of His exaltation, as well as of His office. We have already briefly pondered our Lord's Names in this Epistle: so will not speak of them here: but we may notice that three times we find His Names, "JESUS CHRIST," in this order: and alone, without His Title of Lord.

The Spirit of God is alluded to in many ways in the New Testament, but those lovely words, "The Spirit of Jesus Christ," seem to take us back to the Gospels: and remind us of that blessed Man Who has been here a Pilgrim and a Stranger: "an Outcast" (Jer. 30:17); "despised and rejected of men." He has already trodden the path of faith down here; He has been tempted in all points, like as we are, sin apart: and all in the unhindered power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God. He was the true Meat Offering, mingled with Oil, and Anointed with Oil. (Lev. 2:5 & 6). Oil is a type of the Holy Spirit: and "mingled with Oil" tells of His birth by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35): and "anointed with Oil", would tell of the Spirit coming upon Him at His baptism (Mark 1:10). When the Good Samaritan saved the poor man who had fallen among thieves, he "set him on his own beast;" The Good Samaritan tells us of the Lord Jesus, and He gave the poor man the same power to carry him along the road, that He Himself had. And he pours oil, as well as wine, into his wounds. The Names: "JESUS CHRIST" tell us of all this: but also takes us on, and up, to the Glory, where Christ, the Anointed One, makes intercession for us. (Rom. 8:34).

And so "The Spirit of Jesus Christ," telling us of the power that carried Him through this world, is exactly what we need to carry us through this world, with all its trials, perplexities, and dangers: and to bring us safe Home to the Father's House. And this power is there for us: not only a supply, but an 'abundant-supply.'

In Chapter 1:11 we have His Name again in the same order: "Jesus Christ:" "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God." If we walk through this world in the power of "The Spirit of Jesus Christ," we may be sure that the "fruits of righteousness" will abound to the glory and praise of God.

The third occasion on which we find this Name is when every tongue shall confess Him Lord. How peculiarly fitting it is that again we find His Name in this order: It is JESUS CHRIST Whom all will own as LORD: it is the Same One Who once wandered here the Pilgrim, the Stranger, the Outcast, the Despised, the Rejected One: He it is, Himself, Whom every tongue shall confess as LORD.

* * * * *
To the Saints at Rome
"Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me." (Rom. 15:30)

* * *
To the Saints at Corinth
"Who delivered us . . . , and doth deliver: in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us; ye also helping together by prayer for us." (2 Cor. 1:10, 11)

* * *
To the Saints at Ephesus
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given unto me." (Eph. 6:18, 19)

* * *
To the Saints at Colosse

"Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ." (Col. 4:2, 3)

* * *
To the Saints at Thessalonica
"Brethren, pray for us."
"Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified." (1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1)

Chapter 14

"My earnest expectation"

"According to my earnest expectation and (my) hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but (that) with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether (it be) by life, or by death."

"According to my earnest-expectation and hope, that in nothing I-shall-be-ashamed, but in all boldness, as always, now also Christ shall-be-magnified in my body, whether by-means-of life, whether by-means-of death."

Philippians 1:20.

"Earnest-expectation" is only one word in Greek. It means literally "watching (for some expected object) as with outstretched head." This word is only used here and in Romans 8:19: "For the earnest-expectation of the creature is-anxiously-waiting-for the revelation of the sons of God." One writer says it means "to expect on and on, to the end." (Cremer). But you must picture the aged Apostle in his Roman prison, his head outstretched with longing expectation. Our English cannot say it: you must picture him in your mind: and for what is his "longing-expectation"? "That in nothing I shall be ashamed." He would neither be shamed into cowardice or compromise, nor would he be shamed by failure or disappointment. Once before he had written: or, rather, "The Scripture saith", — "Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed." (Rom 10:11). And sure I am that Paul's Master did not fail his "earnest-expectation," nor, his "hope."

Once before he had exclaimed, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." (Rom. 1:16). Perhaps the reader is feeling, with the writer, — "Too often have I been ashamed of the Gospel: too often have I forgotten that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation." Perhaps we have not had the same "earnest-expectation and hope" that the Apostle had, or we might not have such sad regrets: for, sad to say, there are some who will be ashamed before Him at His coming. (1 John 2:28). This will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ, when we will see all our pathway down here as through His eyes. And what is the secret for us now, that then we shall not be ashamed? Only this: "And now, Little Children, Abide in Him!" (1 John 2:28). That is all. And yet, even amidst our shame, it seems there is a gleam of comfort: for, Listen: ". . . Until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God." (1 Cor. 4:5). How wonderful! I take it, there will not be one of the Lord's own people standing before Him at that Judgment Seat, for whom He will not have some word of praise.

You remember the mother who sat mending her little daughter's dress, sad and discouraged, as she viewed all the failure in her efforts to serve her Lord: all seemed so hopelessly bad: —


Just then, as I turned the garment,
    That no rent should be left behind,
I spied an odd little bungle
    Of mending and patchwork combined.

My heart grew suddenly tender,
    And something quite blinded my eyes,
With one of those sweet intuitions
    That sometimes make us so wise.

Dear child! She wanted to help me;
    I knew 'twas the best she could do;
But oh, what a botch she had made it —
    With the grey mismatching the blue!

And yet — can you understand it?
    With a tender smile and a tear,
A half-compassionate yearning,
    I felt she had grown more dear.

Then a sweet voice broke the silence,
    And the dear Lord said unto me,
"Art thou more tender for thy child
    Than I, Child, am tender for thee?"

Then straightway I knew His meaning
    So full of compassion and love;
My faith flew back to its Refuge,
    As did the returning dove.

I thought, when the Master-Builder
    Shall come down His temple to view,
To see what rents must be mended,
    And what must be builded anew.

Perhaps, looking o'er the building,
    And bringing my work to the light,
Seeing the marring and bungling
    And how far it all is from right.

He'll feel as I for my darling,
    And will say, as I did for her —
"Dear child, she wanted to help Me,
    And her love for Me was the spur.

"For the true love that is in it,
    The work I will own e'en as Mine;
And because of willing service,
    I'll crown it with plaudit divine."

And there in the deepening twilight
    I seemed to be clasping a hand,
And to feel a love constraining —
    Love stronger than any command.

I knew, by the thrill of sweetness,
    'Twas the hand of the Blessed One,
Tenderly guiding and holding
    Till all my day's labour is done.

My thoughts are nevermore gloomy
    And my faith no longer is dim,
For my heart is strong and restful,
    For mine eyes look off unto Him.
        (Mrs. Herrick Johnson)

"According to my earnest-expectation and hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but in all boldness of utterance, as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by means of life, whether by means of death."

We must now ponder the words "in all boldness," The original word properly means "frankness of speech arising from freedom of heart," and it goes well with the words that follow: "Christ shall be magnified." We find the same word in Ephesians 6:19: The Apostle asks prayer . . . "on behalf of me, in order that a word may be given to me, in (the) opening of my mouth, in boldness of utterance, to make known the mystery of the Glad Tidings." This Scripture uses the word entirely in its own original meaning, but the Apostle in Philippians seems to go further: he would have a boldness that gives utter and absolute devotion to Christ for life, for death. It is not uncommon for our Apostle to enlarge the meaning of words, and for his thoughts to rise above their ordinary, earthly interpretation. May it be given to us more and more to follow him in this absolute devotion to Christ.

What a word is this: "Christ shall be magnified!" The Apostle does not say: "That I may magnify Christ." It is in the passive voice. The instrument is forgotten. Notice also that he does not say, "that Christ shall be magnified in my life, or, in my soul." Mary had used the very same word in Luke 1:46: "My soul doth magnify the Lord." But the Apostle's longing is that Christ shall be magnified in his body. And he himself tells us that his enemies said: "His bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible." (2 Cor. 10:10). But it was not Paul, nor Paul's body, that was to be magnified: it was Paul's Lord. It is, I think, like the lens in the telescope, by which some distant star in the heavens "is magnified." It does not make the star any greater: but it manifests in some small degree the greatness of that star. The telescope and the lens are forgotten: and the star fills the vision. So Paul would have it to be in his body. So would you, Beloved! So would I! May God grant it, for His Name's sake!

In Acts 10:46 Cornelius and his kinsfolk and near friends magnified God, when first they heard the Gospel from Peter's lips, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. In Acts 19:17 the Name of the Lord was magnified in Ephesus: it was manifested to be great and mighty. And Christ may still be magnified today, in the body of the humblest and weakest believer: for His strength is made perfect in weakness. Christ may be magnified with praise, prayer, and witness to Himself: Christ may be magnified by hands, perhaps worn with labour like the Apostle's in Acts 20:34, hands that work so willingly for Him and His:
"Jane, by polishing the floors
Shows forth the Master she adores:"
Yes, Christ may be magnified even in our daily work in the house, or shop, or office, or the care of the children, just as truly as by the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring Glad Tidings of good things: any feet that "run in the way of His commandments," magnify Him. "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His Name together." (Ps. 34:3).

The Apostle was writing from prison: his trial yet before him: and it might be life and liberty: or, it might be death. To the beloved Apostle it matters not: so long as Christ be magnified: "whether by means of life, whether by means of death." The emblem of the Moravian Mission is an ox standing between a plow and an altar: ready for either: ready for labour or sacrifice: ready for life or death. I sadly fear, Beloved, there is too little of this spirit among us. I sadly fear it may more truly be said: "All seek their own, not things which are Jesus Christ's." Let us remember that he that loveth his life shall lose it. (John 12:25). Let us ponder on our knees such Scriptures as Matthew 10:38, 39: "He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it." Mark 8:34 & 35: "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel's, the same shall save it." (Luke 9:23: ) "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for My sake, the same shall save it." May the Lord give these words to be living and powerful in our hearts, and then we, like Paul, will "reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

Someone has said: "'CHRIST shall be magnified.' Print that in large letters as your ideal of Christian life." "Whether through life, whether through death." Paul said: "We make it our ambition, whether in our home or away, to please Him." (2 Cor. 5:9). (Weymouth: Fairly literal).

* * *
O blessed road the Master trod!
    His call now comes to thee
To share with Him its toils and joys —
    What shall thine answer be?
        (Freda Hanbury Allen)

Chapter 15

Life . . . Death

"For to me to live (is) Christ, and to die (is) gain."

"For to me to live (is) Christ, and to have died (is) gain."

Philippians 1:21.

In our last meditation we pondered the words: "Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life, whether by death." We recalled the emblem of the Moravian Mission, — an ox, standing between a plow and an altar: ready to honour its Master whether by service, whether by sacrifice: "whether by life, whether by death."

We will now, with the Lord's help, ponder the reason that the Apostle was satisfied with either Life or Death. It was no question of which was "the lesser evil", as many today feel as they ponder life and death. Life, for the Apostle, was good: "For me to live is Christ." What better could he have than that? Ah, but there is better, "much more better" than that: for, — "to die (is) gain." "To die" is to depart and be with Christ, "which is much more better." And so he was in a strait, not knowing which to choose.

But let us look at those sweet words: "For me to live Christ" (as the Greek puts it.) In Galatians 2 and Colossians 3 the Apostle tells us that Christ is his life: "Christ liveth in me." (Gal. 2:20); "Christ, who is our life." (Col. 3:4). These Scriptures tell us of the inner Source and Power of the life the Apostle lived down here day by day. But in Philippians the Spirit is not speaking of "Christ our life", but rather of the day by day life that the Apostle lives; the outer life that others see. Not only had Paul Christ for his life, but for him to live was Christ. CHRIST was his only Object: CHRIST filled his vision: CHRIST was all in all to him. We see people of the world, and of one we say: "For him to live is wealth"; or of another: "For her to live is pleasure"; or again, "For such-an-one to live is study, or power, or some other pursuit." We know this means that these things are the absorbing interests in the lives of these people, to the comparative exclusion of all else. One thing they do. So, the Apostle also could say: "One thing I do." For Paul: to live, CHRIST.

We are apt to gaze in awe and wonder at the great apostle, feeling that such a statement, though true of him, is utterly beyond us, and not meant to apply to us at all. But you recall he tells us, not once or twice, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." (1 Cor. 11:1; 4:16; 1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9). The truth is that this is just the normal, proper life of a Christian: the life that every one of us should be living. You and I can truly say: "Christ is our life." If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. (Rom. 8:9). There is the power for me to live CHRIST.

The words, "to live", are in the present infinitive, which means the continuous, day-after-day life that the Apostle lived down here. When we go on to the other half of the verse, "and to die is gain", the Spirit of God changes from the Present Infinitive to the Aorist Infinitive, which denotes one single act: "the-having-died is gain." It is not "the dying" that is gain, but "the having died", for, as the Apostle points out, that is "to depart and be with Christ, which is much more better." We have walked "through the valley of the shadow of death" (not into the valley), and as we reach Him Whom having not seen we love: as we gaze upon Him, and for the first time "see Him as He is": see those very wounds which redeemed us, "with joyful wonder we'll exclaim 'The Half has not been told!'"

A dear friend of mine was being led by bandits outside the city in China that he had so faithfully served for many years, being led out to suffer the same violent death that was before the Apostle in our verse: a girl who knew him watched him pass, and marvelled at the peace and joy stamped upon his face: at the steady, fearless walk: she exclaimed: "Are you not afraid?" He replied with a smile, "Afraid of what?" Yes, it is still true, "To have died is gain."

There is a superstition where I write that every three years the ocean will claim a boy and a girl: and next year they are due to be taken. Next door to us live a boy and a girl in their early 'teens, and already they are living in terror that they may be the ones chosen to die: but these children have never known Him Who "abolished death", Him Who took part of flesh and blood that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Heb. 2:14, 15. How unspeakably different, whether for young or old, is Death to the believer, and to the unbeliever! Bishop Moule tells of a young kinsman of his, a contemporary at Cambridge University, who had everything life could offer. In his twenty-second year he was suddenly cut down, and when his mother came to tell him he was about to die, "in a moment, without a change of colour, without a tremor, without a pause, smiling a radiant smile, he looked up and answered, 'Well, to depart and to be with Christ is far better!'"

We might note that this Scripture completely destroys such teaching as "the sleep of the soul after death", or the thought that man ceases to exist. For the believer we are "absent from the body: present with the Lord." The unbeliever in hell lifted up his eyes, being in torments. Never is there a suggestion in the Word of God that man, whether believer or unbeliever, ever ceases to exist; or that his soul loses consciousness at death. The Word teaches quite the contrary.

We have spoken much of death as we have meditated on this verse: Philippians 1:21: and we know it was imminently before the Apostle. He faces it squarely, but without a trace of fear: on the contrary, with joy. But let us not suppose that this blotted out the fairer and better hope of his Lord's return. It is in this little Letter that we read: "Our citizenship is in Heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body." (Phil. 3:20, 21). No: Paul did not "look for" death: on the contrary, he says, "we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ"; and elsewhere he exclaims: "The Lord Jesus Christ, our Hope." (1 Tim. 1:1). The word translated "look for" (apekdechometha) means: "We are eagerly expecting:" but it is intensified by the first two letters: "ap": which imply also abstraction from other objects; and absorption in the Object before us. (See Lightfoot). It is present tense, a continuous, moment-by-moment, eager expectation: Paul says:
"We are eagerly expecting the saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ!!!"
Are you???
Am I . . .???

* * * * *
Eagerly-Expecting
(Waiting to meet loved ones from home)

Afar in the darkness of China
    We've laboured and waited alone:
We've longed, how we've longed for our brethren;
    Our brethren to come from our home.

And now they are coming, they're coming:
    Their ship will be here by the dawn!
Through the darkness and coldness e'er daybreak;
    Oh, how I wait for the morn!

I sleep, but my heart awaketh;
    For my well-beloved brother is near;
I sleep, but my heart awaketh;
    For soon, Oh, Joy, he'll be here.

I sleep, but my heart awaketh;
    Hark! 'midst the dark do I hear
The siren announcing their coming,
    And the anchor-chains rattling so near?

* * * * *
Afar in the darkness of this world
    We've laboured and waited alone:
We've longed, How we've longed for our Saviour,
    To come from our long-looked for Home!

And now He is coming, is coming!
    He says He'll be here by the Dawn,
Through the darkness and coldness e'er daybreak,
    Oh, how I watch for the morn!

I sleep, but my heart awaketh,
    For my well-beloved Saviour is near!
I sleep, but my heart awaketh,
    For soon, Oh, Joy, He'll be here!

I sleep, but my heart awaketh,
    Hark! midst the dark do I hear
The Trump that announces Thy coming,
    To meet Thee, my Lord, in the Air?
        (Yokohama, Japan)

Chapter 16

"What I shall choose"

"For to me to live (is) Christ, and to die (is) gain. But if I live in the flesh, this (is) the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh (is) more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; that your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

"For to me to-live (or, to-be-living) (is) Christ, and to-have-died (is) gain. If, then, to-be-living in flesh (is my lot), this (is) for-me (the) fruit of labour: and what I-shall-choose I-do not know. But I-am-pressed by the two, having the passionate-desire to-have-departed, and to-be with Christ, — for (that is) much more better. But to-remain in the flesh (is) more necessary on-account-of you. And having-confidence-of this, I know that I-shall-remain, and shall-remain-along-with you all, to (aid) your progress and joy in the faith, in-order-that your boast may-abound in Christ Jesus through me by my presence again with you."

Philippians 1:21-26.

The words translated "more better" are a double comparative: the only place in the New Testament, I believe, where such a thing is found: and I think impossible to put literally into good English.

We pondered the first part of this quotation in our last chapter: but we might look for a moment at the word "gain": — "to have died is gain." We will find the same word again in Chapter 3:7; but there it is plural: all the Apostle's "gains", as he formerly reckoned them, now he counts but loss. In Titus 1:11 we read of filthy "gain." These are the only times we find this word as a noun in the New Testament: but the verb is used repeatedly. The first time is the great question of the man who should "gain" the whole world, but lose his soul. And in Phil. 3:8 the Apostle tells us why he counted his "gains" but loss: it was that he might "gain Christ."

The following portion is not easy to follow. Mr. Darby translates it: "But if to live in the flesh (is my lot), this is for me worth while: and what I shall choose I cannot tell." Mr. Kelly's translation is almost the same. Mr. Darby, however, gives the translation we have used above (which is the literal one) as an alternative. It seems to me a pity to lose the word "fruit" in the passage: for it almost instinctively takes our thoughts back to "the fruit of righteousness" in Verse Eleven, or to the branch abiding in the Vine to bear fruit: (John 15): and it takes our thoughts forward to the end of the Epistle, where he writes: "I seek fruit abounding to your account." Fruit and labour seem to be linked together in the Scriptures, as in our passage, and again in 2 Tim. 2:6, New Translation: "The husbandman must labour before partaking of the fruits." The thought seems to be that if the Lord should leave Paul in this scene for a time longer, he would still continue in his labour: and that labour meant fruit for his Master.

This thought may well challenge most of us. Too often we may take up the sorrowful words of the disciples of old: "We have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing." I know that the Lord says: "Well done, Good and faithful servant": not: "Good and successful servant." And I know that the Lord does not reckon "fruit" as we do. But, even so, I know it often comes home to me as a challenge to my own soul: Why so little fruit? And the answer may, perhaps, be found in John 15. The branch must abide in the Vine if it is to bear fruit: and perhaps some of us are not abiding in the Vine as we should, and as we would. How easy it is to forget our Lord's words: "Without Me, ye can do nothing;" and then we try to labour in our own strength: and that is worthless.

You will notice that the Apostle does not speculate on what sentence the Roman Emperor may pass on him. Rather, he weighs up the matter: Much more better to be with Christ, on the one hand: but, on the other hand, More needful for you that he abide in the flesh. And being confident of this, he decides the matter himself: "I know that I shall remain." What a true shepherd's heart! Without hesitation he gives up his own wishes for the sake of the flock. Another Apostle could write, "We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1 John 3:16). They were of one mind. May the Lord grant to us to be thus minded: to love and care for the flock of Christ, and to put it far above our own wishes or desires.

How often we are apt to think, To depart and be with Christ will be to escape the trials and anxieties and perplexities and reproach of this wilderness path: and so we think it is better to depart: but such a thought never crossed the mind of the Apostle: the attraction, on the one hand, was CHRIST: and nothing else. On the other hand, there was the need of the saints. Nor was it in any way that he put the saints before Christ: but it was for Christ's sake he would care for Christ's flock.

You will notice the Apostle does not say he had a desire "to die," but to depart and to be with Christ. The word translated depart is taken either from the breaking up of an encampment, or from loosing the cable that holds the ship to the dock. In 2 Tim. 4:6, Paul says: "The time of my departure is at hand." This is from the same word. When the time of departure has come for a great ocean liner, you will see the last cable holding it to the shore unloosed, and silently it moves away for its long journey to a distant land. And for many onboard, it is going "home", to a land they love: such is the Apostle's description of death.

In Psalm 34 we read, "My soul shall make boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad." Most boasting is hateful, especially to "the humble." But they are glad to hear it when we boast in the Lord: and so our passage ends with the thought of aiding the joy of the Philippian saints: and remember "Joy" is almost the key-word of this Epistle. The word translated "boast" has the thought of "Joyous Exultation." In Philippians 3:3 we will meet the word again, but as a verb; and, if the Lord will, we will speak more fully of it then: but notice how beautifully this portion ends: "I shall remain, and shall-remain-along-with you all, to aid your progress and joy in the faith, in order that your joyful exultation (or, boast) may abound in Christ Jesus, through me (or, as to me) by my presence again with you." Their joy would produce boasting, or, joyful exultation, not in Paul, but in Christ Jesus: and though it would be caused by Paul's presence with them once again, their boast would be in Christ Jesus. Too often we find the saints of God boasting in themselves; of their own doings: but let us remember that "He that speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory." May the Lord mercifully deliver us from all such boasting, but fill our mouths with joyful exultation in Christ Jesus!

Chapter 17

Live worthily

"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God."

"Only worthily of the Gospel of the Christ live-as-citizens, in-order-that whether coming and seeing you, whether being absent, I-am-hearing the (things) concerning you, that you are standing-firm in one spirit, with one soul, together-contending for-the faith of-the Gospel, and not being-scared in anything by the opposing-ones, which is to-them a-clear-evidence of-destruction, but of-your salvation, and this from God."

Philippians 1:27, 28.

In our last meditation we saw that the apostle weighed up the question as to whether he should depart and be with Christ, which is much more better, or whether he should remain: and as it was more needful for the saints that he should remain, he knew he would do so.
Lord, if Thou wilt, I'll tarry here,
    To serve Thy people in their need;
To help the weak, the mourners cheer,
    Thy ransomed flock to tend and feed;
To guard them from the beasts of prey:
For this I'd be content to stay.

Lord, I would still on earth abide,
    If I may preach Thy gracious Word;
Proclaim Thy Christ, once crucified,
    Exalted as the Saviour-Lord;
Warn sinners from the wrath to flee,
And win their wandering hearts to Thee.

Lord, if by grace I may abide
    A fruitful branch in Thee, the Vine;
Thy Father's name be glorified
    In any works, or words of mine;
I'd count it — suffer what I may —
My joy and privilege to stay.

Yes, Lord! though to depart were gain,
    For then I should behold Thy face,
Leaving behind all grief and pain,
    And glory crown the work of grace;
Yet not my will, but Thine be done:
I'll tarry, till my course is run.
        (J. G. Deck)

"Only worthily of the Gospel of the Christ live-as-citizens." (Phil. 1:27)

Verse 27 really begins a new subject: Exhortations to the saints. The first exhortation is to behave in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ, and this includes steadfastness, even in the face of suffering and danger, as we shall see in the remaining verses of our chapter.

Though it is a new subject, yet the word "Only", with which Verse 27 begins, links it up with what goes before. "Only", whatever happens, — the one thing that really matters, — whether present or absent from you, — "only" behave worthily of the Gospel of Christ. The literal meaning of the word translated "behave" is: "live-as-citizens", though it is not wrong to translate it, "behave", or, "conduct yourselves." We must, however, remember that Philippi was a Roman Colony, and its citizens were Roman citizens: it has been spoken of as "a colony of Rome." And the citizens were very proud of this privilege, and sought to walk worthy of it. I think the apostle had this in mind as he wrote: and in Chapter 3:20, he uses the same word, but as a noun: "Your citizenship is in Heaven:" You are a "colony of Heaven." The Philippian saints would readily understand the Apostle's meaning. They would know that he was not exhorting them to live worthily as citizens of Rome, or Philippi: but as citizens of Heaven.

I feel very keenly the importance of this admonition, for it is so easy to make a high profession, but not to walk worthy of the profession we make: it is so easy to say we are citizens of Heaven, but to behave as citizens of earth. In a letter from a brother this week, he remarks that hymn "Number 212 is not so comfortably sung sometimes." Number 212 begins:
"Called from above, and heavenly men by birth
(Who once were but the citizens of earth),
As pilgrims here, we seek a heavenly home,
Our portion in the ages yet to come."
I believe he is right: and it is well that these lines should challenge us, and search our inmost souls: for, how easy it is to live as if we still were "citizens of earth."

And the Spirit of God presses home on us this need to behave in a worthy way.
"Receive her in the Lord worthily of saints." Rom. 16:2.
"I exhort you to walk worthily of the calling." Eph. 4:1.
"Walk worthily of the Lord." Col. 1:10.
"Walk worthily of God." 1 Thess. 2:12: and see 3 John 6, (Margin).

How important that we walk worthily of the new relationship and position into which we have been called. When little Moses was drawn out from the waters of death, and was changed from a slave child to the son of Pharaoh's daughter; it was needful for him to walk worthily of his new position. There would be many things that were right and proper for other Israelite children to do, which he could not do: because such things would be unworthy of the King's court, and of his adopted Mother, and Grandfather, the king. So is it with us. May we in very truth walk worthily of the Gospel of Christ, live down here as citizens of Heaven! May we act worthily of saints: walk worthily of our calling, worthily of our Lord, worthily of God! What a high standard! Who is sufficient for these things? Our sufficiency is of God.

The Apostle John could say: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." (3 John 4). The Apostle Paul is of the same mind, as he tells us of his longing desire, "whether coming and seeing you, whether being absent, I am hearing the things concerning you, that you are standing-firm in one spirit, with one soul together contending with (or, for) the faith of the Gospel." The English word "stand" is used to translate at least seven different Greek words, each with its own shade of meaning: and in this case, "standing-firm" is an effort to bring out the special force of this particular Greek word. It is said to have the meaning of standing firm, or standing fast, and not giving ground. It is a favourite word of Paul, and has something of a military tone in it: a regiment of soldiers standing firm, and refusing to retreat. In John's Gospel it is used twice: first of our Lord, in 1:26: "There standeth One among you, whom ye know not." What an example of standing firm do we see as we trace the footsteps of our Lord and Saviour through this world.
"In scorn, neglect, reviling,
    Thy patient grace stood fast;
Man's malice unavailing
    To move Thy heart to haste."
The second time is in 8:44: where our Lord says to the Jewish leaders: "Ye are of your father the devil, . . . he stood not in the truth." What a contrast! May God help us to follow our Lord, and "stand fast." An old brother once said to me: "All giving up is of the devil." That is what this verse in John tells us. In 1 Cor. 16:13, we are called to "stand fast in the faith;" In Gal. 5:1, to "stand fast . . . in the liberty"; In Phil. 4:1, and 1 Thess. 3:8, to "stand fast in the Lord." In 2 Thess. 2:15, we are to "stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught." We meet the word also in Mark 3:31 & 11:25, and Rev. 12:4: not elsewhere in the New Testament.

These uses will help us to understand the great force there is in the word in the passage before us: "standing-firm in one spirit." Do not give ground an inch! "with one soul together-contending for the faith of the Gospel." The word "contending" is from the Greek word from which we get our English word "athlete". To this is added another word, meaning "together", making only one word in Greek. The thought is, I believe, of a team, like a football team; or, a regiment of soldiers, who "together-contend" in a desperate struggle. They must have one spirit and one soul: and though there may be many persons, they work together as one. This was what the Apostle wished to hear about the dear Philippian saints. I wonder what he would say if he saw us today! The marginal reading of Zephaniah 3:9 is "To serve Him with one shoulder". This illustrates Phil. 1:27: "standing firm in one spirit, with one soul, together contending for the faith of the Gospel." This seems to illustrate the thought very beautifully: may we, Beloved, know more of what it is "to serve Him with one shoulder." In Acts 4:32, we read: "The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul." In Acts 2:46, we read of "singleness of heart". We know what these passages mean: may we know also what it means "To serve Him with one shoulder!"

This is the second time we have the word "Gospel" in this 27th verse: "worthily of the Gospel", "with, (or, for) the faith of the Gospel." (Mr. W. Kelly says it is "with the faith of the Gospel," rather than, "for the faith of the Gospel:" though perhaps it may have both meanings). The Gospel is looked at as contending against all the wickedness and worldliness and coldness around, and we are together to contend along with it. Dr. Vaughan puts it "Sharing the contest of the faith of the Gospel", and perhaps that expresses the thought well. In 2 Tim. 1:8, we read: "Suffer evil along with the Gospel."

We need these exhortations today just as truly as the Philippian saints and Timothy needed them in days gone by. May God help us to press the battle home, to learn to "share the contest", never to give ground, and if need-be suffer evil along with the Gospel.

But there is more. We are not to be "scared in anything by the opposing ones." The word translated "scared" is a remarkable word, and used only here in the New Testament. The original meaning is a shy, timid horse, frightened of something. In these days of motor cars, I suppose few of my readers know anything about this: but you who are older, and who have, perhaps, had experience driving such a horse, will understand exactly the Apostle's meaning. It may be only a shadow, or the whistle of a train, or some other thing that could not possibly hurt it, as long as the driver has control: but the horse gets scared, and then it is no good for the work it is supposed to do, until it settles down again. I am reading a grand book just now: "D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation". My Father read parts of it aloud to us children, when I was eight years old, and I still can remember the thrill of it. We see some wonderful examples of Christian courage in this book. When Luther was summoned to stand before the Council at Worms: and his friends did their utmost to persuade him not to go, as they were sure it meant death; he replied, "Even although there were as many devils at Worms as there are tiles upon the roofs, I would enter it." Zwingli, in Switzerland, when threatened by all the Civilian and Ecclesiastical wrath, was asked if he was not frightened, and he replied, with noble scorn, "I dread them . . . as the rock-bound shore dreads the threatening billows . . . — with God!" Another has said: "How depressing to the enemy is the endurance of the saints."

It is of the utmost importance "that we should keep up in our souls good courage in face of the foe, and confidence in God, not only for our own sake but for others. There is no testimony more gracious, nor more solemn to our adversaries." (W.K.) Do you not think it was the courage and grace of Stephen that were the first links of the chain that won that terrible "opposer", Saul of Tarsus?

"Opposing ones", or "opposers", is the translation of a word meaning literally, "to be set over against." It is used of the relation between the Spirit and the flesh, in Gal. 5:17: "They are opposed one to the other." There are many today who are opposed to the Gospel. Don't be scared of them! Don't be frightened! When they see you are not frightened, it will be clear evidence, absolute proof, to them of destruction: but for you of the final triumph of the Gospel over all the opposing ones, and over all that the opposing ones can do: and this triumph is of God, not by us. It may mean suffering, as we will, God willing, see in our next meditation: but remember there is a power that can make even suffering sweet.
"And though this world, with devils filled,
    Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
    His truth to triumph through us.
        Let goods and kindred go,
        This mortal life also;
        The body they may kill,
        God's truth abideth still,
    His kingdom is for ever."
        (Martin Luther)

Remember the word of the Lord: "Be of good cheer" (Matt. 9:2, 22; 14:27; Mark 6:50; Luke 8:48; John 16:33; Acts 23:11).

Chapter 18

Suffering for His sake

"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear (to be) in me."

"Because to-you has-been-given on-behalf-of Christ, not only the believing on Him, but also the suffering on-behalf-of Him; having the same sort-of struggle which ye-saw in me, and now hear-of in me."

Philippians 1:29, 30.

Now let us turn to the last two verses of Philippians 1. The little word "Because" links up these verses with those before. Peter tells us that we need not think it "strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." (1 Peter 4:12). And he goes on to say: "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." It is remarkable how often suffering is linked with glory and joy. And so Paul tells the saints that, "to you has been given . . . the suffering on behalf of Him." The word used here for "given", is the one from which we get "grace"; and "denotes specially a grant of free favour." In 1 Cor. 3:12 we find this same word: "That we might know the things that are freely given to us of God:" where this one Greek word is translated "are-freely-given". And this is a good translation. I wonder if suffering was one of the things included in this verse in Corinthians?

I think the Apostle was about to write: "To you has been given on the behalf of Christ the suffering," linking the "given" with the "suffering." But then he checks himself, or, the Spirit of God checks him; as he remembers there was first something else freely given: and that was "the believing on Him." The boon of suffering on His behalf is not granted, until we have first received the boon of "believing on Him." Both the believing and the suffering are free gifts of His grace. You will notice that twice we find the words "on behalf of." Some tell us the second occurrence is redundant or superfluous: there is nothing redundant in the Scriptures. 1 Cor. 2:13 tells us that the things the apostles spoke were "not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth." This tells us that the Holy Ghost taught the apostles the very words they were to write down: and He did not write one word too many. Why, then, do we get "on behalf of Christ", and then in the same verse, referring to the same suffering, "on behalf of Him"? I think because it is
"Love that makes sorrow so sweet."
What a difference between "suffering", and "suffering on behalf of Christ!" And the Spirit would impress this on us: for this takes the sting out of the suffering. It is something like the words "unto Him", in the verse: "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp." "Unto Him", makes the reproach and the suffering sweet.

In the days of old the saints rejoiced "that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name." Can it be that most of us suffer so little for His Name, because He counts most of us unworthy of this gift? But let us count our brethren, who are suffering for His Name, (and there are many of them just now), worthy of all honour; and let us not forget to bear them up in our prayers, as the Scriptures say: "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them." (Heb. 13:3).

When the Lord first met Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, and three days later sent His servant Ananias to him, at that very time, He said: "I will show him how great things he must suffer for My Name's sake." He did not speak of great things he would do so much as the great things he must suffer. And if you will read with care Second Corinthians, Chapter Eleven, Verse 23 to the end; you will find a most amazing list of sufferings: most of which are not even referred to in the Book of Acts, in the account of his labours and suffering in preaching the Gospel. Few have ever suffered as Paul suffered: so he may indeed speak of it with authority.

But there are other sufferings for His Name besides prisons, and labour camps, and being burned at the stake. I recall a story dear Mr. Heney told us when we were children: I think his own experience: A brother had been invited by an elderly lady to have some cottage meetings in her house, and a number of neighbours had come in. They were mostly good women, regular "church-goers", and probably true Christians: but they knew nothing of what it meant to be gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus alone; or to walk in separation from that which is contrary to the Word of God. One evening the verse was quoted: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." (2 Tim. 3:12). The lady who had invited her neighbours was greatly struck with this verse: and remarked, "I've been a Christian for many years, and I have never suffered any persecution. . . That can only mean one thing, that is, I do not live godly in Christ Jesus." Then she turned to the lady sitting next her, and remarked: "Mrs. Johnson, I have known you for many years, and neither have you ever suffered any persecution." So she went round the circle of her friends; and all had to admit they knew nothing of persecution.

It was not many weeks after this, that this lady, for her Lord's Name's sake, withdrew from the "church" of which she had been a member for many years: and then she quickly found that she suffered plenty of persecution. We may each one do well to challenge ourselves, "Why is it that I suffer so little on behalf of Him? Sure I am, that if we were more true and faithful to Christ, we would know more of what it means to be given on behalf of Christ, not only the believing on Him, but also the suffering on behalf of Him. And we would also know more joy in our lives, and more of the glory before us.