Sacrifices of Joy

being —
Meditations on the Epistle to the Philippians - 2
G C Willis.

Chapter 19

Mind the one thing

"If (there be) therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye may be like-minded, having the same love, (being) of one accord, of one mind."

    "If, then, (there is)
        any encouragement in Christ,
    if any comfort of love,
    if any fellowship of (the) Spirit,
    if any tender-heartedness and compassions,
Fill full my joy when
    ye mind the same (thing),
    having the same love,
    minding the one (thing)."

Philippians 2:1-2.

We must ever remember as we read the Word of God, that the chapter and verse divisions were put in by men, and not by the Holy Spirit: and too often, I fear, through these, we are apt to lose the connection that the Spirit of God has established. I think this is the case in the division between Chapter One and Chapter Two of Philippians.

In the last verse but one of the First Chapter we read that to them it was given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake. Immediately, in the first verse of Chapter Two, the Apostle reminds them of the Encouragement there is in Christ. When we are suffering, especially suffering for Christ's sake: what a thing it is to have encouragement: and when that encouragement is in Christ, how sure and blessed it is! You remember when Paul was in prison in Jerusalem: perhaps through his own self-will, perhaps grieving over the dishonour done to the Name of Christ that day in the Council (Acts 23): very likely greatly discouraged and cast down: that night, following all this trouble, the Lord Himself, not an angel, came and stood by him: not to remind him of his failure, but to say: "Be of Good Cheer, Paul!" That is indeed encouragement in Christ. Paul could speak from well-tried experience, when he says: "If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ." That little word "if" is not expressing any question or doubt: but has the meaning of "Since": "Since there is such encouragement in Christ." We will find four grand motives for the exhortation Paul is about to give: this the first.

You will notice that in our beloved Authorised Version the word we have translated "encouragement" is there translated "consolation." And the word does have this meaning consolation. Dr. Vaughan beautifully says of it: "This great Gospel word is generally said to have two distinct senses, exhortation and consolation. But in fact the two meet in encouragement. On the one hand it never means cold or bare exhortation; on the other it never means mere soothing. It is always sympathetic, and it is always animating. It is cheering on. It is the call of the general who heads, sword in hand, the army which he would incite to bravery. The word encouragement (which is, by derivation, putting the heart into another) seems to be a fair summary of the contents of the Greek word… It is not necessary, however, to force the one rendering upon every passage. Here, (in Phil. 2:1), we need comfort for a different Greek word in the next clause." I might add that Mr. Darby generally translates this word encouragement, and, though he translates it comfort here, in the footnote in his larger edition, he says: the word "is 'encouragement', by word or any way, and so 'comfort.'"

But the dear Philippian saints not only needed encouragement, they needed comfort also: so he continues, "If" there is in Christ "any comfort of love." I think the words "there is … in Christ", (inserted above), are understood in this case. The exact word translated comfort here, is only found in this place in the New Testament, but words formed from the same root occur several times, as for example, in John 11:19 & 31, where friends came to comfort Martha and Mary. How sweet to remember that we may find the very same comfort in Christ, in His love: and there is no comfort like the "comfort of love." The Scripture says: "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you." That is, I suppose, the highest earthly picture of the "comfort of love." When a little child (and often, a big child) needs comfort, he goes to his mother, where he knows he will find in very truth the comfort of love. That is what we find in Christ, in how much greater a degree!

The third motive for the exhortations to follow is: If there be "any fellowship of the Spirit." We must remember that in the old manuscripts there was no difference between capitals and small letters, (for all were capitals), so we cannot be perfectly certain whether the word "spirit", should have a capital or not: whether it refers to the fellowship between the spirits of the saints: or the fellowship we have in the Spirit of God. Possibly both are included. Every true saint of God has the Spirit of God dwelling in him; and by God's Spirit every saint is linked to Christ, and linked to each other. The Spirit of God is such a bond between saints, that none can ever break it: all our divisions and sects and parties cannot break that bond of "fellowship of the Spirit." It, rather, should I say, HE is like that middle bar of the tabernacle, out of sight, that shot through the boards from the one end to the other, (Ex. 36:33), but it was the strongest bond to hold the boards together. We will see in a moment the exceeding beauty and need for this reminder as a motive for the Apostle's exhortation that is to follow.

The last motive is a joint one: If there be "any tender-heartedness and compassions." I take it that again we must supply "in Christ." The word translated "tender-heartedness" is really bowels: it is the "abode of tender feelings." The word "bowels" does not convey this meaning to most of us, as we use the word heart instead. We know the meaning of the word "heartless"; and I suppose the ideal word would be one with the opposite meaning, while still using the word heart, but we do not seem to have such a word in English, so perhaps tender-heartedness conveys most closely the meaning of the Greek word. The word translated compassions is the manifestation of these tender-hearted feelings. Both words are in the plural: and together give us the inward spring and the outward manifestation of the Lord's tender love and care for us.

And what is the exhortation towards which these four mighty motives have been leading us? "Fill full my joy!" Was the apostle's joy, then, not full? There is probably no Book in the Bible so filled with joy as Philippians. The Apostle seems to be flowing over with joy: what is it, then, that keeps his joy from being full? We get the answer in another series of four: this time, four conditions of soul, to match, as it were, the four motivating reasons we have just considered. First: "When ye mind the same thing." Then, and not till then, will the apostle's joy be full. Notice how many times we find this word mind. I think ten times in this Epistle. How often our mind runs in the wrong direction. How often misunderstandings come in. How often we do not mind the same thing. While we are looking on our own things (2:4), or seeking our own things (2:21) we will never be minding the same thing. In verse 27 of Chapter 1 we saw how earnestly the Apostle exhorted these dear saints to stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel. The Apostle saw the need for this earnest appeal: and now he goes a little further, beseeching them to fill full his joy when they mind the same thing. The other three conditions for filling full his joy are very similar, and indicate that all in Philippi were not of one mind: but when we come to Chapter 4, the Apostle speaks out plainly, but, Oh, how gently: "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntache, that they be of the same mind in the Lord." Two dear sisters, sisters who toiled with him in the Gospel, were not of one mind: and it kept the Apostle's joy from being full. And, let us ask, What about the Lord's joy in His saints? Did it hinder His tender heart from having the full joy He longed for from His own? Oh, Beloved, what about us today? I fear we must often fill His heart with grief, rather than joy. How few companies of saints do we find where they mind the same thing! Rather, how often do we find that all seek their own: all look on their own things; all mind different things. Oh, the shame and the sorrow of it, when we know it grieves the Spirit of God, and must fill our Lord's heart with sorrow.

We all know something of the exceeding difficulty of healing coldness and divisions that arise between the saints. "A brother offended is harder to be won than a fenced city." Note the wondrous skill of the Apostle, taught by the Spirit of God: before ever he mentions the need for them to mind the same thing, he turns their eyes to Christ: "If, then, there is any encouragement in Christ, if any comfort of love." He reminds them of that mighty bond, the "fellowship of the Spirit", and once again he looks off to Christ: "if any tender-heartedness and compassions." It is only in Christ we will find healing for these sad rents that come between God's people: let us, Beloved, be found "looking off unto Jesus."

The next is: "Having the same love." Love thinketh no evil. Love suffereth long and is kind. Love is not provoked. (Leave out the easily). Love never faileth. And what about those who have sinned and got away? As soon, and as quickly, as may be "confirm your love toward him." Cor. 2:8).

And what comes next? "Joined in soul," or, "knit together in soul." We know so little about such a condition in practice, that one is ashamed to try and speak of it. We know more about being "joined in soul" through having the same hate: as we have seen the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Herodians, (all bitter enemies), having the same hate against Christ, and so joined in soul. I think it is Mr. Darby who said, "Devotedness to Jesus is the strongest bond between human hearts." Oh, Lord Jesus, Give Thy poor saints more of this devotedness to Thee! Devotedness formed by love to Jesus: Devotedness caused by the love of Jesus: this Devotedness that brings the "same love," and so may we be joined in soul each to the other.

And now we come to the last of this series: "Minding the one thing!" (as Mr. Kelly rightly, and beautifully, translates it.) A little later in this Epistle we will find the Apostle telling us, "One thing I do!" The bane of the Christian's life is that most of us are trying to do too many things; and, alas, a lot of them are our own things. What is the secret of being able to take up the Apostle's words: to be able to say: "One thing I do!" I doubt not we find it just here: We must be "minding the one thing!" And if we are all "minding the one thing", we will all be of "one mind."
Psalm 133
Lo, how pleasant and how well,
    When in unity saints dwell:
Like the hands and feet together,
    Serve and love and help each other.

Like the precious ointment poured
    On to Aaron's head and beard:
Flowing to his garment's skirt,
    Making all the house smell sweet.

As the dew of Hermon's mount,
    Of refreshment is the fount:
So when brethren dwell in love
    Blessings flow from Thee above.

All Thy words are true and sure,
    They bring peace and pleasure pure:
Peace, how good and pleasant now,
    E'en like heaven here below.
        (From Chinese)

Chapter 20

Hindrances to minding the one thing

"(Let) nothing (be done) through, strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others."

"(Do) nothing according-to party-spirit, nor according-to vain-glory, but in lowly-mindedness esteeming one-another more-excellent-than themselves: not each having-the-eye-on the-(interests) of-themselves, but each on the-(interests) of-others also."

Philippians 2:3-4.

These verses follow straight on from those we last pondered, which ended: "Fill full my joy when ye mind the same thing, having the same love, joined in soul, minding the one thing." Now we will see that the Spirit of God brings before us those things which hinder this unity: and we will begin to see God's cure for those hindrances.

There is no verb at the beginning of Verse 3, and to make good English we must supply one, as, for example, - "Let nothing be according to party spirit", or, "Doing (or, Do) nothing according to party spirit." "According to" is the literal translation, and indicates the principle on which the thing is done, or the state of mind which produces the act. There are six different words in the Greek New Testament all translated "strife" in the English New Testament. The particular one used here is the same as that translated "contention" in Chapter 1:16 (Authorized Version). It has the meaning of "rivalry, party-spirit, factiousness, ambition, self-seeking." It is listed as one of the works of the flesh in Gal. 5.

The two great hindrances to "minding the one thing" (which we considered in Verse 2) are, Dr. Lightfoot points out, "the exaltation of party and the exaltation of self. Both these are condemned here." The first is condemned in "party-spirit", the second in "vain-glory." The Scripture says: "Only by pride cometh contention," and this is just what we see here: pride of party, (Yet I think it includes personal rivalry or ambition) or, pride of person. And, Beloved, let us not forget how very prone we all are to these things, and how very easily they creep into our lives, and into our meetings. Pride is so terribly natural to us all! "Human nature is always disposed to say 'we' if it cannot say 'I'." (J.N.D.) Even though we may profess to belong to no party, but to the Church of God alone, we so easily become proud of that, — and we make ourselves into the very party we deny. And need I say how easily and how often, by thought, by word, by deed, we are governed by "vain-glory", personal vanity, in plain words: self conceit.
"I am, — " rich, or wise, or holy —
    "Thus, and thus am I;"
For "I am," men live and labour,
    For "I am," they die.
        (H. Suso)

"But in lowly-mindedness esteeming one another more excellent than themselves." The word "But" is a strong word, drawing our earnest attention to the very great contrast between lowly-mindedness and party-spirit or vain-glory. The words "one another" are really in the plural, but I do not know how this can be said in English, to make it clearer than it is. We have already noticed how much we get about our mind, or minding; and in the word "lowly-mindedness" we find this again. In Ephesians 4:2 we find exactly the same word as one of the bonds which bind the saints together. There it is linked with "meekness." Years ago I was walking with Mr. Willie Crossly, when suddenly he asked: "Christopher, What is the difference between lowliness (or, lowly-mindedness) and meekness?" I had to reply, "I don't know, Mr. Crossly." He said, "I will tell you. Lowly-mindedness will never give offence. Meekness will never take offence." Oh, that we each had more of these two qualities! How much strife and contention would be avoided!

In our Chapter we get only "lowly-mindedness", without meekness: for I think the Spirit of God is bringing before us the positive side of our walk: rather than the negative side, which provides for getting along with difficult brethren or sisters. The Spirit does not look at the Philippian saints as "difficult." He sees them in all their zeal and warm-heartedness and love for the Gospel and their Lord, as well as to their Lord's prisoner, the apostle himself. So it would be out of place to add meekness. And if we each obeyed this blessed teaching in these verses in Philippians 2, there would never be any strife amongst us; and having lowly-mindedness, meekness would not be called for when having to do with the saints.

But notice what is connected with "lowly-mindedness." "In lowly-mindedness esteeming one another more excellent than themselves." If we have truly learned ourselves in the presence of our Saviour, then we will be the more ready to obey this injunction. And let us remember that "one another" is plural. Do we ever think, even though the words may not pass our lips, "How glad I am the meeting where I go is more separate than that group of Christians over there." "Those to whom I belong are better taught in the Word than so-and-so." "We would not do the kind of things those people do." Is this esteeming one another more excellent than themselves? What is this but party-spirit? What is it but sectarianism? And pride linked with party-spirit.

Nor are such thoughts limited to the plural. "I am holier than thou" is in the singular. Our tongues may not utter such words, but our thoughts may tell us, "I am more spiritual than that person." "I spend more time over the Word and in prayer than Brother Blank." And so it goes: for we each know the plague of our own hearts. I think it was Spurgeon who said: "There is pride of face, pride of place, and pride of race, but the worst pride of all, is pride of Grace." And, alas, this is the pride to which the saints are, perhaps, most prone. But not only are we not to esteem ourselves as better than others: but we are to esteem others as better than ourselves: and we will, if close enough to Christ: and if we see ourselves, the person we know best, in the light of His holiness and love.

And now we come to two other exhortations that also hit most of us very hard: "Not each having the eye on the interests of themselves, but each on the interests of others also." In our ordinary English Bible we read: "Look not every man on his own things, etc." The word translated "look" does have this meaning: but it is not the ordinary word for "look," but comes from a word meaning a mark on which to fix the eye. In the Third Chapter of our Epistle we get the word itself translated mark. (Verse 14). We find the same word as in Verse 4 also in 2 Cor. 5:18, which Mr. Kelly excellently translates: "While we have the eye, not on the things that are seen, etc." So we have used the same translation here; and I hope it brings home to us more forcibly the urgency of this exhortation.

In the Greek Testament there is no word for "interests" in either place: only the article "the", in the plural; and we have to fill in what the Spirit means us to understand: and that may have a very wide application. The Authorized Version uses "things". Mr. Darby uses "qualities," or, in a note "advantages." I suppose the word "interests" means the things that interest us. We sometimes see "A mind at leisure from itself, To soothe and sympathize." What a lovely sight it is, and how refreshing to find one who is so free from looking at his own interests, that he can regard and care for the interests of others. How it warms the heart and draws us close together. But, sad to say, most of us are too busy with our own affairs to have very much regard for the interests of others. "Each" in both places is plural. May the Lord Himself teach us these blessed truths we have just been pondering. "The more we cleave to Christ, and are taught of the Spirit, the more shall we be of one mind in the Lord, not agreeing after the fashion of men, but taught by the one Book, we shall grow into oneness of mind and judgment in all things. This is the way to bring about true unity, 'and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.'" (Chap. 3:15).

Spoken by the crowd, deriding,
    To the blessed Lord,
Yet what depth of truth lay hidden
    In the taunting word.

"He saved others," — yes, for truly
    To that end He came,
Thirty years He toiled with others,
    Bore an unknown name.

Three short years of ceaseless service,
    Healing day by day
Sin-sick souls, and suffering bodies
    Thronging round His way.
* * *
Would we follow in His footsteps?
    In His service share?
Then for us it standeth written
    We His cross must bear.
* * *
"He saved others," — may it echo
    In our hearts each day,
Till His love all selfish pleasing
    Purge for aye away.

Till possessed with holy passion
    Other lives to save,
We partake His life and Spirit
    Who "so loved He gave."
        (Freda Hanbury Allen)

Chapter 21

The mind in Christ Jesus

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation."

"Have this mind in you which (was) also in Christ Jesus: Who subsisting in (the) form of God, not as-a-means-of-gain He-counted the being equal-with God, but made Himself empty."

Philippians 2:5-7

When a brother suggested, some years ago, that we have a series of articles on The Epistle to the Philippians, my thoughts went at once to the passage we are to begin to meditate upon now: and I thought, "Who is sufficient for these things?" Who is sufficient to attempt to expound such words as these?

It is one of those amazing portions of the Scriptures that is set before us with so few words, and such short and simple words, the amazing pathway of our Saviour from Heaven's highest Glory, down to Calvary's depth of woe. May the Lord grant that writer and reader may approach this portion with bowed head and unshod feet.

Not only is the passage itself so sublime, that it seems to defy the human spirit to comprehend what is found in it, even though these truths are expressed in the simplest language: but, also, the Greek itself, in part, is far from easy to follow, as though even the noblest human language is still unable to describe the mysteries of the Godhead. May God Himself help us, whether writing or reading!

* * * * *

"Have this mind in you", (or, "Have this for your mind"), — your principle of thought and feeling, — "which (was, and is,) also in Christ Jesus", — the principle of thought and feeling which was in Him. (Phil. 1:5)

There is no verb in the latter part of the verse, but we must use one in English. We generally use the word "was", but there is nothing in the Greek to limit the meaning to either past or present: and even though exalted to the highest Glory, He is "this same Jesus," so we have inserted, "was, and is." "Have this mind in you which (was and is) also in Christ Jesus." And what was "this mind"? Was it not an utter and absolute self-forgetfulness? Oh, my Brethren, here is the cure for all our quarrels and divisions, our misunderstandings and difficulties with one another: "Let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus."

Let us remember:
"We have the mind of Christ." (1 Cor. 2:16).
We are to "Learn of Christ." (Matt. 11:29).
We "have put on Christ." (Gal. 3:27).
We are to "follow His steps." (1 Peter 2:21).
Christ is to "dwell in your hearts." (Eph. 3:17).

* * * * *

"Who subsisting in the form of God."

And now the Spirit begins to describe to us what was this "mind of Christ." I am sorry that it seems impossible to seek to show forth the treasures in this passage without referring to the Greek words, which the Spirit uses with such care and discrimination: for Greek is a much richer language than English, and makes differences where in English it is almost impossible to bring them out. We have in this passage three words for existence:
1. To be: (einai).
2. To be beforehand, to subsist: (huparchein).
3. To begin to be: (ginesthai).
It is not by accident the Spirit uses these three different words, and we lose much if we disregard their differences. The second of these words (huparchein) is the word He uses in the passage just quoted: "Who subsisting in the form of God." This word tells us that Christ Jesus was "in the form of God" before He came to this earth as Man. This word may not tell as much as the first verse of John's Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God", but it is in entire harmony with it, and asserts quite plainly pre-existence in the form of God, though it does not assert in so many words, His eternal pre-existence: but this is brought out in other Scriptures, such as Psalm 90:2: "From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God": John 1, and other Scriptures.

In the passage before us we will see an amazing pathway of seven steps downward from the Throne to the Cross: but let us never forget that the beginning of this pathway: the very foundation of all else is this: Christ Jesus had a pre-existence in the form of God. Let us never forget this: this is the truth that the devil seeks so desperately to take from us: may we never, never give it up. The manger and the cross could never have been without the Throne beforehand. (Heb. 1:8).

And in the Sixth Chapter of Isaiah the Spirit of God draws back the veil, and lets us gaze for a moment on "the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings: with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; … for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts."

In John's Gospel, Chapter 12, Verses 37 to 41, the Spirit of God reveals to us, that this One Whom Isaiah saw, and of Whom he spoke, — the King, Jehovah of hosts, before Whom the seraphims veiled their faces, — He is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Here we gaze upon Him in His glory, in the form of God, long before ever He took upon Him the form of a slave, and was made in the likeness of men.

And again, as we gaze upon Him passing through this scene, in New Testament days, we see at times His glory as very God from all eternity shining through the veil of flesh: as, for example, when he talked with Nicodemus, He says: "We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen." "Obviously He speaks as One who is familiar with God; not merely as One who acted from God, but who pronounced with His authority, speaking as One who is absolutely and perfectly at home with God. 'We speak,' says He, 'that we do know;' and the word implies intimate knowledge — intrinsic personal knowledge; not that which was given, which a prophet might utter as presented to him, had he the means of revelation, but as One who knew God and His glory consciously. God alone, He who was God, could thus rightly speak, and none other. In the consciousness of this divine knowledge therefore Jesus speaks. At the same time He gives His testimony as to what He had seen. It was not only One who came from God, and so went to God, but also One who while He was God speaks of scenes of glory in which He had been. He was with God as well as was God. From this perfect knowledge of God, and familiarity with heaven He makes the declaration: 'We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.'" (W. Kelly).

We must now ponder carefully the words "in the form of God." There are three words used in this passage expressive of the general idea of resemblance:
1. Form: (Morphee).
2. Fashion: (Scheema).
3. Likeness: (Homoiama).
The first alone is applicable to God, for it alone has the sense (not of external appearance), but of essential quality. I do not think we have an English word like this, but we use it with "meta" put in front of it, in the word "metamorphose". Putting meta in front of it indicates a change over: so the whole word tells of a change in the essential quality of something. We use it of rocks that have had their very texture and internal form changed by terrific heat and pressure: we say they are metamorphosed.

The second word (scheema) tells of external appearance. You might paint the rocks, so they looked completely different, but their essential quality remains the same: they are the same rocks, though they look different outside: their "scheema" is changed: but it is a temporary change.

We find words from the roots of these two words in Romans 12:2: "Be not conformed to this world": a true Christian may take the outward form of the fashion of this world, like the rocks being painted, but the essential inward quality remains the same. She has cut her hair and painted her face and become conformed (sum-scheema) to this world, (and the brothers can be conformed to this world, too): but deep down inside where nobody sees but God, she still is His: and so the passage goes on, "But be ye transformed (the very word, metamorphosed) by the renewing of your mind." In Romans 8:29, God has predestinated us (to be) sum-morphosed to the image of His Son. I think that just means that God has predestinated us to be essentially changed inside to be like the image of His Son. In Phil. 3:20 we will read that the Lord Jesus Christ shall meta-scheema the body of our humiliation (to be) sum-morphosed to the body of His glory. This would seem to tell us that the Lord Jesus is going to change the transitory, outward form of our bodies, now bearing scars and wrinkles, often hair and teeth gone: but this will all be changed to the essential quality of bodies that are like the body of His glory. But even now down here we may be metamorphosed from glory unto glory, by the Spirit of the Lord. And how is this accomplished? By gazing on the glory of the Lord, — now indeed as in a glass, like we used to do when we were little children, and used a bit of smoked glass to look at the sun, because it was too bright for mortal eye. (2 Cor. 3:18).

But let us be absolutely clear that with our Lord Jesus Christ there never was any suggestion of metamorphose: a change in His essential being, as being very God. Before ever He came to our sad world, He subsisted in the very form of God. He never needed to be changed to be like God, as we are changed to be like Himself. But this same word is used of His transfiguration in Matt. 17:2 and Mark 9:2, in describing the change that came to the body He had taken when He became a Man. I think this is because it was a sample, — an anticipative assumption, — of that resurrection body which is permanent and everlasting.

* * * * *

"Who subsisting in the form of God, counted not as a means of gain the being equal with God." (Phil. 2:6).

Now we come to a passage where it is very hard for us to be quite certain we are right. You may look it up in various translations, and will see that different people translate it in different ways. It seems to me this is what the Spirit is seeking to tell us, as He brings heavenly truths to our poor, dull, mortal minds: "Christ Jesus … counted not the being equal with God as a means of gain, but made Himself empty." I shall not attempt to give you the reasons from the Greek Testament that make me believe this to be the Spirit's meaning: they may be found in Dr. C. J. Vaughan priceless little book, "St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians for English Readers," to whom I am deeply indebted, not only for most of what we have had before us today, but for much else that I have learned from this dear man of God.

Another rendering that appeals to me very much is the following: "He did not reckon His equality with God a treasure to be tightly grasped. Nay, He emptied Himself." But I would suppose the rendering we have used is the more accurate. But I am not sure.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was already from all eternity in the form of God, and He was equal with God: He was (and is) "Jehovah's fellow." (Zech. 13:7). He had not to grasp at this: it was His already: His by right. But He might have used this glory and majesty and unbounded power, for aggrandisement, or advancement of Himself: but He did not: on the contrary, "He made Himself of no reputation": "He made Himself empty." "He emptied Himself." Amazing, matchless, unspeakable Grace! The words "the being equal with God", are in the neuter plural, "the being equal things," and this is no accident. Another has said this "calls attention rather to the Characteristics than to the Personality", and still another suggests that perhaps the Spirit avoids the masculine to remove any risk of "dividing the substance of the God-head." There are quite a few "unexpected neuters" in the Greek New Testament. One longs that some wise and spiritual man could help us understand them better, but for some we must, perhaps, wait till we reach Home, and "know as we are known."

"Who subsisting in the form of God, He counted not as a means of gain the being equal with God, but made Himself empty."

We come now to the last words of the above sentence: "But made Himself empty," or, "But emptied Himself", or, as in our loved Authorised Version: "But made Himself of no reputation." Perhaps the second, "But emptied Himself", represents the Greek most closely; but possibly the first, "But made Himself empty", is a little easier to understand, and I think gives the true sense. But the truth is the same in any case: "He emptied Himself" HE, the One in Whom all the fulness was pleased to dwell: (Col. 1:19): HE, that filleth all in all: (Eph. 1:23): Yes: "HE made Himself empty." Instead of taking to Himself (as equality with God would have enabled Him to do without stint or limit), "He made Himself empty."

Come and gaze on that manger. Do you know of any other kingly babe who was, of His own will, laid in a manger? Gaze on Him, "wearied with His journey" sitting on the well! See Him on the hillside, when all others went to their own home: for He had no home to which He might go. See the foxes and the birds: they had their homes, but the Son of Man had not where to lay down His head, until He came to the cross, and having cried "Tetelestai", — "It is finished", — He laid down His head on the cross: the only place in this world where we read He ever laid down His head. (For the words are the same in Luke 9:58 and John 19:30). Watch Him as He hungers: Hear Him as He cries, "I thirst!" Listen, as He groans, and as He weeps. Remember, this is He Who is equal with God, Who subsisted in the form of God: "But He made Himself empty." "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich."

More than fifty years ago that one little verse, those few, few words: "Christ Jesus … made Himself of no reputation": changed my whole life, and my whole outlook on life. May God grant that these same words may change the lives of some of you, my beloved Readers!
HE made Himself empty.
He emptied Himself.
He made Himself of no reputation.

Do you wonder I linger over these words? They are to me amongst the dearest of any in this dear old Book. Use the translation you like best, the meaning is the same, but Beloved, let them sink down deep, deep into your heart.

I have just spent a few weeks in Canada, and a beloved brother, speaking of a family well known to us both, remarked: "They are not good Canadians. Good Canadians spend their time getting as much as they can, and making their homes as comfortable as possible, — and such a thing never seems to cross their mind." Maybe they had looked on Him Who made Himself empty.

"Empty." The picture is of one who is empty-handed, destitute of everything. "I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty." (Ruth 1:21). The husbandmen sent the servants away empty. (Mark 12:3). We generally seek to make ourselves full. He made Himself empty. We covet and seek a reputation. He made Himself of no reputation. When He wanted to see a penny, He must ask someone to show Him one. When He wanted money for a tax, He must command a fish to supply it. "He made Himself empty."

I had hoped to speak in this chapter of all those seven steps downward, but perhaps the Spirit of God has given us enough to ponder for the present.

O King of kings, and Lord of lords,
    Jesus, my Lord, my God!
Both heaven and earth obey Thy word,
    Their great Creator laud.

In the beginning was the Word —
    The Father's only Son.
For long e'er heaven or earth were made,
    Thou and Thy God were one.

Yet Lord, Thou left'st Thy heavenly throne,
    And in this world wast born,
For me Thou didst from Heaven come down
    And barest grief and scorn.

Thou mad'st Thyself of no repute,
    And to the cross didst go,
Hast borne my sins of Mountain's weight,
    My sins! My shame! My woe!

But death must yield that glorious One,
    The grave give up its prey,
Exalted high, the victory won,
    At God's right hand today.

O Lord, for this, we e'er would praise,
  And all Thy grace would laud,
Our hearts and voices ever raise,
    To worship Thee, O God!
        (From Chinese)

Chapter 22

Seven steps downward

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."

"Have this mind in you which (was) also in Christ Jesus: Who subsisting in (the) form of God, not as-a-means-of-gain He-counted the being equal-with God: but He made Himself empty, taking (a) slave's form, being-come in men's likeness, and, being-found in-fashion as man, made Himself low, becoming obedient until death, even death of (a) cross.

Philippians 2:5-8

"Have this mind in you which (was, is) also in Christ Jesus: Who subsisting in the form of God, not as a means of gain He counted the being equal with God:

1. But He emptied Himself,

2. Taking a slave's form,

3. Being come in men's likeness,

4. And, Being found in fashion as man,

5. Made Himself low,

6. Becoming obedient until death,

7. Even death of a cross."

In our last Meditation we spoke of our Lord's seven steps downward: and now we have tried to show these steps.

We have pondered that first step: "He emptied Himself." Remember it was when He was in the form of God that He emptied Himself. It was love made Him empty Himself: empty Himself of all His outward glory: but let us remember that He never ceased to be God. That Babe in the manger was Emmanuel, "God with us", just as truly God, — upholding all things by the word of His power, as when all things were created by Him and for Him.

But before we ponder those further steps downward, let us stop and remind ourselves why it is that the Spirit of God has given us this amazing sight of the pathway of the Eternal Son of God from the highest heights of Glory, down to the lowest depths of shame and suffering that it was possible to go. It is, beloved, that you and I might gaze on that wondrous sight, and thus the mind which was in Christ Jesus might be fashioned in us. We love to go up: He came down: that is the mind we would long to have, if we are to be like Him while we are down here. May the Lord help us to remember this, as we ponder His remaining six steps downward!

Not only did He empty Himself of all His outward glory in the form of God: but He took a slave's form. He might have taken the form of an Emperor or of a mighty King, in wealth and luxury: but, No, by His own act, (for I think the Greek implies this), He emptied Himself and deliberately took a slave's form. And the remarkable thing is that the word form is the very same word as in the previous verse: "Who subsisting in the form of God." As we have seen, it means, not exterior form, but inner, essential quality. He was not like an actor might be, dressed up in the fashion of a slave: though indeed we see Him in the outward character of a slave in the thirteenth of John, where He laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself, and did the slave's work, of washing the feet. And Peter fully realized this, I believe, and had it in his mind when he wrote: "Be clothed with humility:" for this might well be translated: "Gird on the slave's apron;" for the word in its noun form means this. Here we see the inner, essential quality, the very spirit of our Lord, shining out so that we may gaze upon Him in wonder and awe.

But perhaps the Hebrew servant in Exodus 21 tells the story best. He was to serve for six years, but in the seventh year "he shall go out free for nothing." But the Hebrew servant (and it means a slave) might say: "I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever." That pierced ear was the pledge and the proof that he shall be his slave for ever. And those pierced hands and feet and side tell the same story of "Christ Jesus: who … emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a slave."

But whose slave is He? "I love My Master … He shall serve Him for ever." In Philippians it is left to be understood to whom He is the slave: and it is true that He said I came not to be ministered unto, but to minister: and that was to the needs of men; and today upon His throne, He still serves us, our Advocate and our Intercessor: and even after He had returned to the Glory, when His servants went out and preached everywhere, almost the last words of the Gospel that presents Him as the "perfect Servant" are, "The Lord working with them." (Mark 16:20). And so we see Him still serving and still working: but let us remember He is not the slave of men, but of God, — "I love My Master," as the Hebrew servant put it.

And the next step we are to trace is: "Being come in men's likeness." We might, perhaps, have translated this, "Being born in men's likeness", for we usually use "born" to translate this same word in Gal. 4:4. But "being come", is probably nearer to the meaning. The word "likeness" is the third word mentioned in our last Meditation: Homoioma. It is the same word as is used in Romans 8:3: "God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh." His outward appearance was just like a man among men. Judas had to give those who came to take Him a sign, for there was nothing in His outward appearance to mark Him out especially from other men, such as the halos we see in the pictures. He came "in men's likeness."

The Fourth step downwards is: "Being found in fashion as man." I think the words "being found" have the same meaning as in Luke 17:18: "There are not found that returned to give glory to God save this stranger." See also Acts 5:39 & 2 Cor. 5:3. The word "fashion" here is scheema, meaning the outward appearance. It is most wonderful that He took a slave's form, — the inner, essential qualities of a slave, — but He was found in outward appearance as man. Perhaps we should not say "as a man:" for never was man like this Man: for He was very God. And yet He had man's appearance: "Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel." Isaiah had cried, "Oh that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down," and that is just what the Lord God Almighty did: He did come down: but He came down "being found in fashion as man." But all the time He trod our sad world, He was still "Emmanuel": "God with us."

The next step is, "He humbled Himself." Perhaps more exactly, "He made Himself low", or, "He made Himself very low." The word is used in old writings, speaking of the river Nile, "it runs low." As God, He emptied Himself: as Man, He made Himself low. This is a further step downwards than being found in fashion as a man: for, as we have remarked, He might have been found in fashion as a man, and have chosen to be an Emperor or mighty King: He might have chosen honour and wealth: but not so: "He made Himself low," "He humbled Himself." He could say, "I am meek and lowly in heart." But let us remember that this is "The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy." (Isa. 57:15). After meditating on His path downwards, we can better understand His words that follow: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit." How much most of us need to gaze upon Him, till we are in some measure changed into the same image, and have that mind in us which was also in Christ Jesus.

And now we come to what we would have supposed was the last step He could take: "Becoming obedient until death." He had taken the form of a slave; and the slave's portion was obedience: and He showed forth His obedience, even until death. Our Authorized Version might be misunderstood to think it was to death He was obedient. But it was obedience to His Father's will, even unto death. Our Lord had said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for his friends." And His death at Golgotha not only manifested forth His matchless love, but also His devoted obedience.

Could there be another step downwards, beyond death? We would not have thought so: but the Father, Who looked down with perfect delight on all that pathway, sees one more step: Not only did He become obedient unto death: but that death, was the death of a cross. That last step tells out the awfulness, the horror, the shame, the anguish of the death to which He became obedient. We see better the force of the words that tell out that last step, when we ponder such Scriptures as 1 Corinthians 1:23: "Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block;" Galatians 5:11: "The scandal of the cross;" Hebrews 12:2: "Jesus … endured the cross, despising the shame." There was probably no death from which one would so much shrink as "the death of the cross." It was to this, the lowest step that could be taken, that the Lord of Glory went.

Beloved, Let us remember, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."

And let us remember, also, our Lord's own words: "He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me." (Matthew 10:38).
O Man! God's Man; Thou peerless Man!
Jesus, my Lord! God's Son:
Perfection's perfect in its height,
But found in Thee alone.
Of Abba's love — of God's great claims —
Thou com'st not short at all;
Perfect in everything art Thou
Alone, since Adam's race.
O matchless, peerless Man! shall we
Begrudge to Thee this praise?
Perfect alone, Thou cam'st in love,
To glory us to raise.
Peerlessly spotless Man! 'twas Thou
The wrath did'st bear for me,
Peerlessly righteous Man! I'm made
God's righteousness in Thee.
Peerlessly glorious Man! how soon
Shall I be like to Thee?
Thy very glory then reflect,
Thy perfect beauty see. (G. V. Wigram)

Chapter 23

Supremely exalted

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name: that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

"Wherefore God also supremely-exalted Him, and bestowed-on Him the Name, the (Name) supreme-above every name, that in the Name JESUS every knee should-bow, of-(things) heavenly and earthly and infernal, and every tongue should-publicly-confess that JESUS CHRIST (is) LORD, to (the) Glory of God (the) Father."

Philippians 2:9-11

In the earlier verses of this Chapter, we have seen how the Lord of Glory, (as someone has beautifully remarked), "Laid aside His garments; and took a towel and girded Himself." Now let us see the upward path:

1. "Wherefore God also supremely-exalted Him,

2. And bestowed on Him the Name, The (Name) supreme-above every name,

3. That in the Name JESUS every knee should bow,

4. Of (things) heavenly

5. And earthly

6. And infernal,

7. And every tongue should publicly-confess that JESUS CHRIST (is) LORD, to the Glory of God the Father."

"Wherefore" is the word with which His exaltation begins. It reminds us of our Lord's own words, repeated twice: "He that humbleth himself, shall be exalted." (Luke 14:11 & 18:14). And none ever humbled Himself as the Lord of Glory: well is it indeed that He should be supremely-exalted! "HE humbled Himself," but, not, you will note, "He exalted Himself." No, "GOD supremely-exalted Him." Nor may we pass by that little word "also." "Wherefore God also supremely-exalted Him." In the Greek it is placed in a very emphatic position: as if to contrast God's thoughts of His Son with man's treatment of Him.

"Supremely-exalted" is one word in the Greek. The Spirit of God through Paul loves to add to many words the little word "huper," (which corresponds to our word "super"), and we have translated it here, "supremely." Examples of other words to which "huper" is added are: "supremely-above" in Ephesians 1:21 & 4:10; "super-intercede", Rom. 8:26; "super-conqueror," Rom. 8:37; and there are a number of others. How well this word of "supreme-exaltation" fits the position due to such supreme-humiliation! It is the only place in the New Testament where it is found; as though the Spirit of God had reserved it for this special passage.

There were seven steps downward in our Lord's humiliation; and there seem to be seven steps upward in His exaltation: (as shown in the arrangement above of this Scripture): this is the first, "God also supremely-exalted Him." The Aorist Tense is used, meaning one act: as though in it is included His resurrection up from the grave: His ascension up to Heaven, and on up to the Throne, at God's right hand.

The second step is "He bestowed on Him the Name, the (Name) supreme-above every name. "Bestowed" is used as a translation of a Greek word formed from the word always used for Grace." One would like to say, God "graced Him with the Name," but that might convey more the thought of graceful, than gracious, or free-giving. It is the same word used in Chapter 1:29, when God bestowed on us not only the privilege of believing in Him, but also to suffer for His sake. (And let us remember if we suffer we shall also reign). The better reading is not "given him a name," but, "the Name." It is a special Name, "the (Name) supreme-above every name." The word here translated "supreme-above" is again huper, that was joined to "exalted" in that first step upwards. We may ask, What is "the Name"? Some think it to be the mystic Name JEHOVAH: others, that it may be "My new Name" in Rev. 3:12. But from what follows, "That in the Name JESUS every knee should bow", I cannot but think that JESUS is "the Name, the (Name) supreme above every name." Let us remember that the Name JESUS means JEHOVAH-the-SAVIOUR. And let us remember also Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and for ever. Mr. Kelly writes: "The lowly Name that was His as Nazarene on the earth must be honoured everywhere. God's glory is concerned in it. In the name of Jesus, or, in virtue of His name every knee shall bow." It may be "In the name of JESUS," or, it may be, "In the Name Jesus;" I confess I like the latter translation: but it might be either.

"Every knee should bow." I write in a Moslem land, where all around are those who put the name "Mehommed" above the Name JESUS: nor will they bow to that worthy Name, for they will not acknowledge Him as GOD. But the day is coming when every one of them shall in virtue of the Name JESUS bow his knees. And the Communists, who hate that precious Name, whether dead or living, each one of them will also bow. And those knees that have only bowed to idols will, in the coming day, bow to that Name supreme-above every name. Yes, and the infidels and the scoffers, it matters not how bold they are now: and "the fearful", those who do not now bow for fear of the laugh of a fellow-mortal: each one of these shall surely bow. Notice, it does not bunch them together, and say "all the knees shall bow." It looks at them each individually, "every knee shall bow."

And the Spirit of God divides these into three classes: "The heavenly, the earthly, and the infernal" (or, those under the earth). Angels and demons, Living and dead, Saved and lost will all then publicly (for so the word would intimate) acknowledge Him as LORD. The word "LORD" is in an emphatic position, so the emphasis is on it: "JESUS CHRIST (is) LORD.

"Of (things) heavenly and earthly and infernal;" the Greek may be either masculine or neuter: so it may read as we have put it: or, it may read as J.N.D. has it in the New Translation
"Of heavenly and earthly and infernal (beings)."
The former includes the latter, but goes out to a much wider circle: and the 148th Psalm and the 8th of Romans would seem to warrant us in including all creation in the homage due to "the Name JESUS."
"Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, and all deeps:
Fire, and hail; snow, and vapours;
Stormy wind fulfilling His word:
Mountains, and all hills;
Fruitful trees, and all cedars;
Beasts, and all cattle;
Creeping things, and flying fowl:
Kings of the earth, and all people;
Princes, and all judges of the earth:
Both young men, and maidens;
Old men, and children:
Let them praise the Name of the LORD: for His Name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven." (Psalm 148:7 to 13).

But not only must every knee bow: but every tongue shall confess Him LORD. For those who confess Him LORD now, it is salvation. (Romans 10:9). But those who refuse Him now as LORD, shall surely one day acknowledge Him thus: but only to be cast into the lake of fire.

And so we find the seven steps downward are matched by seven steps upward: just as the "exceeding sorrowful" of Matthew 26:38 is matched by the "exceeding glad" of Psalm 21:6, the Resurrection Psalm.

Our passage began, "God supremely-exalted Him." It ends by telling us that this supreme-exaltation of the Son is "to the Glory of God the Father." He could say of all His earthly path of humiliation: "I have glorified Thee on the earth." How blessed to see in His path of exaltation we find the same thing: and well we know that this is just as He would have it. "They went both of them together" is true both to the Cross and to the Glory.

Another has said, in writing of this portion: and I would borrow his words: "So ends our exposition of this amazing passage — oh, that one could have done it better, more worthily. The reader may well be constrained to throw this poor Study on one side and to take up the inspired record itself and, on his knees, pore over the sacred words themselves; and then … join, with deepest adoration, in the Heavenly tribute of Revelation 5:12, 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing … Amen!' "

* * * * *

But, Beloved, Let us not forget these things have been written that you and I have this mind in us, which was also in Christ Jesus: and that was the lowly, subject mind.

* * * * *

"The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may (HE) give unto you … that ye may know … what is the exceeding greatness of His power … which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things." Amen. (Ephesians 1:17-22).
Jesus, Thy Name Alone
O that Thy Name may be sounded
    Afar over earth and sea,
Till the dead awaken and praise Thee,
    And the dumb lips sing to Thee!
Sound forth as a song of triumph,
    Wherever man's foot has trod,
The despised, the derided message,
    The foolishness of God.
JESUS, dishonoured and dying,
    A felon on either side —
JESUS, the song of the drunkards,
    JESUS the Crucified!

Name of God's tender comfort,
    Name of His glorious power,
Name that is song and sweetness,
    The strong Everlasting Tower.
JESUS the Lamb accepted,
    JESUS the priest on His throne,
JESUS the King Who is coming —
    JESUS, Thy Name alone!
        (C.P.C. From Hymns of Ter Steegen)

Note to Chapter 24

Parousia: Presence; Katergazomai: Work Out.

A little book called "FROM EGYPTIAN RUBBISH HEAPS," by Dr. J. H. Moulton, gives a very brief account of how some 60 years ago hundreds of thousands of old bits of paper were found in the sands of Egypt: some had been used to stuff embalmed crocodiles. There were old letters, children's exercise books written at school, and no end of other papers that had been thrown away as useless. Many of these were written at just about the same time as the Greek New Testament; and from these old papers we have been enabled to learn a great deal about certain words in the Greek New Testament, that we never properly understood before.

We hope now to ponder the 12th verse of the 2nd of Philippians, and in that verse we will find two words that have had a flood of light thrown upon them from these old documents from Egypt. They are the Greek words Parousia, meaning "Presence", or, "Coming:" and Katergazomai, meaning "Work Out." The first word, katergazomai, literally means "Being-alongside-of", and in our verse in Philippians means "presence." In 2nd Corinthians 10:10: "his bodily presence is weak," it is the same word: but everywhere else in the New Testament it is translated "coming," generally it is reserved for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have a very valuable old Greek Lexicon by Dr. Cremer, dated 1880, in which he speaks of this meaning of the word: he says: "It is not easy to explain how the term came to be used in this sense." Listen while Dr. Moulton tells us what Dr. Cremer would so much like to have heard some 35 years earlier:

"Our Lord in speaking of His coming again uses the word parousia, which in the later parts of the New Testament becomes almost a technical term. Now that word so used, denoting 'advent' or 'presence,' had something very much deeper in its meaning. Egyptian papyri of the third and second centuries B.C. give some allusions which utterly puzzled the first editors. … Two words came together, stephanouparousias, which we have now learned to read. The Ptolemies, kings of Egypt after Alexander's time, were not popular, generally speaking, and I must say I do not think they deserved popularity. Our British sovereign, King George, has lately been up in Lancashire, riding all around the country, going into the cottages and talking with the people, and leaving behind him the most gracious memories. That is one sort of a royal visit. But the royal visits of the Ptolemies were quite different. When they came to distant parts of the country there were appropriate manifestations of enthusiasm, but it was all worked up beforehand. The tax-collector came round and extracted from people's pockets money for what was called a 'crown tax.' A free-will offering of a golden crown was made to the king on such occasions, to represent the spontaneous loyalty of the people. That was the type of thing that gives the setting for this word parousia. By getting the meaning of 'royal visit,' unconsciously the word was prepared beforehand for the time when the King of kings came in great humility, and they called His coming the Parousia. And we are relying faithfully upon the promise of another visit, the last and greatest, some day, we know not when."

How lovely that the Spirit uses this word for my Lord's coming again: He is coming to be "present" with me: to be "alongside-of" me: and I will be "alongside-of" Him. In Phil. 2:12 Paul had been alongside of his beloved converts in Philippi; but now he is absent. The word to be 'present', is parousia: the word for 'absent' is ap-ousia: 'being-away-from.' In one sense our Lord is now 'ap-ousia', but soon, very soon, 'yet a very little while', and He will be 'par-ousia.'

We must speak more fully of the remaining word, Katergazomai, so will not try and describe it here, but leave it till we speak of Verse 12.

Chapter 24

Presence and Absence

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of (His) good pleasure."

So, my beloved-ones, just-as you always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, cultivate your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is the (One) working in you both the willing and the working for-the-sake of (His)-good-pleasure.

Philippians 2:12-13

We have been gazing with adoration on our Lord's pathway from the Throne to the Cross; and from the Cross to the Throne: and if we have taken in at all what that sight means, we will better understand the Queen of Sheba's feelings when it is recorded "there was no more spirit in her," as she gazed at the glories of Solomon: but One greater than Solomon is here.

But let us never forget that the Spirit of God has given us this wondrous passage of Scripture in order that we might have this mind in us which was also in Christ Jesus. And now in Verse 12, the Apostle goes back to that very practical teaching with which this Chapter began. He looks back to those happy times with the saints in Philippi, and how they "always obeyed." But that was while he was with them, "in my presence", as he puts it. The word is par-ousia, "being-alongside-of," and I have tried in the note above to give some further details of this word. Now the Apostle is in prison in Rome, and how will the saints behave now that he is absent (ap-ousia): no longer "alongside-of" them? Beautiful answer, "now much more in my absence." In considering the word parousia, we have seen that it is generally reserved for the coming of our Lord: when we will be present with Him: prepared for this meaning by formerly coming to mean "The visit of a King". I wonder, Beloved, if the Lord could say of us now: in His ap-ousia: His absence: if our obedience is "much more"? You know how it is with someone you dearly love; if absent, you will be even more careful to do that which you know would please them, than you would do were they present. So it was with the Philippian saints and the Apostle they loved so well. May it be so with us and our absent, rejected Lord!

The latter part of this 12th verse has long been a puzzle to many. In the new Roman Catholic "Knox Version" of the Bible, which in many places is excellent: M. Knox translates it: "You must work to earn your salvation, in anxious fear."

And I sadly fear there are many who would agree with M. Knox. But that is not at all the meaning that the Spirit of God has for us. In the Note at the beginning of this chapter I mentioned two words in this verse on which a flood of light has been thrown by the old papers found in Egyptian rubbish heaps. One of these words is the word translated "work out," in our verse. Dr. Moulton says of this word: it "is very common with reference to the 'cultivation' of allotments." And if we use this meaning for the word, I think it makes our verse very clear.

It is more than fifty years since I worked on a farm, so I asked a dear farmer brother to help me out about "cultivating." This is what he says: "I have much enjoyed the thoughts you brought out about Phil. 2:12, and I'm sure it is a verse that has been a puzzle to many, and has been perhaps used in a wrong way by those who think Salvation is by works.

"I believe the word cultivate means just what you said, to loosen the soil so the rain and air can get to the roots so the plant may grow strong and bear fruit. One of the main purposes in cultivating too is to get rid of the weeds, for if they are allowed to grow, the tender plant is robbed of its vigour and cannot bear much fruit.

"Yes, I have followed the old horse drawn cultivator you speak of and sometimes the sun was pretty hot, and often it was dusty. Of course corn and soybeans were the main crops we cultivated, and we nearly always cultivate them three times during the season.

"Father always said the first cultivation was the main one, when the plants were young and tender, to get rid of the weeds while they were young, for when they get well rooted it is almost impossible to get rid of them, unless by the hoe, which on big acreage is almost never done being impracticable; but the hoe is a tool for cultivation, and a good one too, as one can get close to the plants without harming them. In a crop like strawberries it is about the only tool one can use and very important, for weeds and grass will soon take the strawberries if they aren't hoed.

"It seems to me very interesting, and makes the passage much easier to understand, when you see that 'work out' means to cultivate. The more valuable the crop is, the more carefully the farmer will cultivate it. How carefully and diligently we should cultivate salvation."

I think this letter makes the meaning of the verse wonderfully clear. How quickly the things of this world make the ground hard, so that the genial warmth of the Love of God does not get down to our roots; and the refreshing rain (is it the Word of God, Isaiah 55:10-11?) runs off the hardened crust, and we get little or no good from it. Then, Beloved, we need to "cultivate our own salvation." We need to get out the hoe and break up that crust, get down deep, too, perhaps; so the roots will feel the sunshine and the fresh air and the sweet showers.

And our brother spoke about the weeds, too. You know something about the weeds: those weeds of impure thoughts, of slothfulness, of bad-temper, and a thousand others. I think we find some of them listed in 1 Peter 2:1 & 2: "Laying aside therefore all malice and all guile and hypocrisies and envyings and all evil speakings, as newborn babes desire earnestly the pure mental milk of the word, that by it ye may grow up to salvation." (New Translation). I think this illustrates our picture well: there are the weeds, and when I was a boy and had long rows of corn and potatoes to hoe, (it was a dirty farm, full of weeds), we used to keep a file and sharpen the hoes now and then, so as to cut the weeds out. We get something the same in Romans 8:13: "If ye through the Spirit do mortify (that just means, 'put to death') the deeds of the body, ye shall live." In other words, Kill the weeds. We get more of them to mortify in Col. 3:5: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Our brother says that with the hoe one can get close to the plants: and that is what we want: don't let us spare these weeds, even though some of them we have learned to love. And another thing, remember that he tells us they are much easier to kill when they are young: you young folks will do well to remember this. Old bad habits are sometimes terribly hard to kill.

And then notice what he tells us about the strawberries. The more valuable the crop the more careful we are about cultivating it. Can you not just hear the father say to his son, Go work today in my strawberry patch: and be very careful for fear you damage the roots, or cut the young shoots, or harm the tendrils, or spoil the fruit. Does not that help us to understand how it is we are to cultivate our own salvation with fear and trembling? It is no light matter we have in hand; and the more deeply we know our own selves, the more we will fear as we take up such a task. It is not the fear that we will be lost. It is not the fear that the Lord will forsake us. But it is the sense of our need of being more prayerful, and more circumspect than ever: feeling that it is a bitter, painful thing to compromise God in any way by want of jealous self-judgment in our walk — fear and trembling because of the seriousness of the conflict.

And we may well ask, How are we to cultivate our own salvation? Perhaps the first place should be given to that jealous self-judgment of which we have just spoken. Jealous, not of others, but jealous of God's claims and His rights in our lives. I fear it is just here that so many of us fall down. We allow things in our lives that in the bottom of our hearts we know should not be there. We wake in the morning, and instead of getting up early for reading the Word, prayer and communion with the Lord, we allow the enemy to whisper, "A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding the hands to sleep," and we need not be surprised that our tender plants do not grow, and so our poverty comes as one that travelleth; and our want as an armed man. (Prov. 24:33-34) And then how often our thoughts call for self-judgment! How we need to gird up the loins of our mind! How easy to allow foolish and even impure thoughts to come in: thoughts of pride and envy! Then we need to get out that sharp hoe, and do some cultivation with fear and trembling.

I wonder how many of our readers make a practice of early rising? You remember if the people of Israel were to get the manna for their day's need, they had to get it before the sun was up. You remember that our Lord rose up a great while before day, and departed into a solitary place to pray. Later the disciples "earnestly pressed after Him." It is the only place in the New Testament where this special word is used, stronger than "Press after love," or hospitality, or the many other objects after which we are called to press. And you note we are not exhorted to press after our Lord on that dark, early morning, long before the sun arose: we are only given the example; and our own love to our Lord will decide whether we shall follow that example, or lie in bed instead. But of this I am sure; these two: diligent self-judgment, and earnest early rising, are two of the most important ways of cultivating our own salvation. Is not this exactly what we find in that passage in First Peter we looked at? First, lay aside these sins which we all know so easily beset us: then as newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the Word; and the result is that we "grow up to salvation." We have cultivated these tender plants, cultivated our own salvation: the weeds have been cut away, the hard crust broken up, the warm sunshine and the refreshing rain can come down to the roots; and the little plants grow up to salvation.

And just a word about "your own salvation." The farmer very likely gets the hired man to cultivate his corn and soybeans for him. But you and I cannot do that. We must each cultivate our own salvation. It is like the shield of faith: each must carry his own shield. You remember Goliath had a man that went before him to carry his shield: and it cost him his life. So, in the same way, self-judgment and communion are terribly individual things, into which another can scarcely enter.

And then another thing. Sometimes I see the weeds in my neighbour's field, and am tempted to leave my field and go over and cultivate his. True, we are to wash each other's feet: but we need to remember the word, "cultivate your own salvation." And we may find we have not really helped our neighbour, and mine own vineyard have I not kept.

And now we come to Verse 13: "For God is the (One) working in you both the willing and the working for the sake of His good pleasure." Oh, how glad we should be of this verse! As we look at the unequal struggle of Verse 12 without it, we might well fear and tremble, with the wrong kind of fear: we might just as well give up the fight: for our enemies are too strong for us in our own strength. But, thanks be to God, we do not have to fight in our own strength. No! "God is the One working in you." We have all His mighty power to draw on; and if we will but let Him do the work of cultivating, we will be sure of a good harvest. But too often we like to do it ourselves, in our own strength, and failure is certain.

And I love those words: "both the willing and the working." Take the question of getting up in the morning: how hard it is on a cold, winter morning to drag ourselves out of bed! There is no "will" to do it at all. Our will is all the other way. Thank God we may call on His strength to make us willing, as well as to make us do it. And why should we? Oh, Listen! "For the sake of His good pleasure." Is there one who loves Him who would not want to do anything He asks, when it is "for the sake of His good pleasure." And when we know that "God is the (One) working in you both the willing and the working," let us also remember "what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be Head over all things."

Is that sufficient power for you and me to draw on to cultivate our own salvation? Then, let us, Beloved, draw on that wealth of power, and draw freely: for we will find it impossible to "overdraw."

Heaven's Bank
I know a never-failing Bank, well filled with golden store;
No other bank contains so much that can enrich the poor.
Should all the banks of Europe break, the Bank of England fail,
Fear not that Heaven's glorious Bank its discounts will curtail.

Though a thousand notes lie scattered round, all signed, and sealed and free,
Yet many a doubting soul will say, Ah! they are not for me.
Proud unbelief cannot admit such tidings to be true;
And yet I tell each bankrupt soul, These notes belong to you!

I, too, right at the door have been with painful doubts molested:
Knowing, if Moses keeps the bank, my notes had been protested.
Some fear they write so bad a hand their notes will be rejected;
But always humble souls obtain much more than they expected.

Whenever all my money's spent, and I'm in utter need,
Straight to my Bank I always go, for generous aid to plead.
I've been a thousand times before, and never was rejected;
No notes can ever be refused, that are by Grace accepted.

Should all the bankers close their doors, my bank stands open wide
To all the chosen of the Lord, for whom the Saviour died.
Sometimes my Banker, smiling says, "Why don't you oftener come?"
And when I draw a little bill, "Why not a larger sum?"
        (Rowland Hill)

Chapter 25

Results of Cultivating

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life.

"Do all-(things) without murmurings and (without) disputings, that ye-may-be unblameable and uncorrupted, children of-God unblemished, amidst (a) crooked and distorted race, amongst whom ye-appear as luminaries in (the) world, holding-out (the) word of-life."

Philippians 2:14-16

We have meditated a little on Philippians 2, verses 12 and 13, considering chiefly the words, "work out your own salvation," as they are translated in our Authorized Version: but we saw that another translation might be: "cultivate your own salvation." It might be of interest to look at a few other passages where this Greek word might be translated in the same way:
"The law cultivates wrath." Rom. 4:15
"Tribulation cultivates patience." Rom. 5:3
"Godly sorrow cultivates repentance." 2 Cor. 7:10
"The trying of your faith cultivates patience." James 1:3

Another important point in this verse is the use Scripture makes of the word "salvation." If we think of the salvation of our souls only, many passages of Scripture will be very hard to understand: for that salvation was completed at the cross, and was given to us freely when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. We could not "work out," or even "cultivate" this salvation: for it is complete and perfect for ever: our souls are as safe now as they will be when we are at Home in the Glory. But Scripture looks at salvation in various ways: as we have already seen, it speaks of the salvation of our bodies as well as of our souls: it looks at salvation as past, present, or future: according as Redemption, Grace, or Glory are in view. For our souls, salvation is past: (See 1 Peter 1:9; Eph. 2:5, 8; 1 Cor. 15:2). But for our bodies, the Lord keeps us safe day by day, and hour by hour, and this will not be completed until He has us safe at Home, spirit, soul, and body: as we see in Romans 5:9-10: "much more, being reconciled, we shall be kept safe in His life." (Moule). This is present salvation; and in Rom. 8:23-24 we may see future salvation: "Waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?" And see also Rom. 13:11. This salvation is "the deliverance that crowns the close of all the difficulties we may encounter in the passage through the desert-world, as well as … the present guardian care of our God who brings us safely through. It is a salvation only completed at the appearing of Jesus." (W.K.)

We also spoke a little of the tremendously important fact that it is GOD which worketh in you. In the Authorized Version it adds, "both to will and to do of His good pleasure." But in the Greek New Testament the words translated "worketh" and "to do," are the same. But it is quite a different word in Verse 12, that has been translated "work out." So I think it is, perhaps, clearer if we translate as we did in our last chapter: "Cultivate your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is the (One) working in you both the willing and the working for the sake of His good pleasure." The word here translated "working", means the "internal operation of power, though seen in results." (J.N.D.). In verses 14 to 16 we will see the results: but let us never forget that it is GOD, not us, Who works out these results in us. Perhaps all my readers know in their intellect that the Holy Spirit dwells in every believer. (John 14:17; 1 Cor. 6:19, etc.); but do we not often seem to forget that He actually is in us? Do we not often seek to do the work ourselves? And is not this the reason we so often fail? You remember in Gal. 2:20, we read: "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." As we are about to ponder the "results" we have just spoken of, we would be utterly hopeless and discouraged if we had to trust our own efforts to produce them: but let us never, never forget that "It is GOD which worketh in you." It may seem strange to think that GOD must work even "the willing." We are slow to believe that we are so bad by nature that we are not even willing, of ourselves, to produce these results. It must be GOD who works the willing, as well as the working. And both the willing and the working are for the sake of His good pleasure. Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 5:9: "We are ambitious … to be well-pleasing to Him." (Literal translation). But God must work even this ambition in us.

THOU sayest, "Fit me, fashion me for Thee."
    Stretch forth thine empty hands, and be thou still;
O restless soul, thou dost but hinder Me
    By valiant purpose and by steadfast will.
Behold the summer flowers beneath the sun,
    In stillness his great glory they behold;
And sweetly thus his mighty work is done,
    And resting in his gladness they unfold.
So are the sweetness and the joy divine
Thine, O Beloved, and the work is Mine.
        (Gerhardt Ter Steegen)

Now let us seek to go on to Verses 14 to 16: "Do all things without murmurings and (without) disputings, that ye may be unblameable and uncorrupted, children of God unblemished, amidst a crooked and distorted race, amongst whom ye appear as luminaries in (the) world, holding out (or, offering) (the) word of life."

But let us arrange the first part of this Scripture in a slightly different way: to try and bring out more clearly the force which I think the Holy Spirit has for us in it.

We will find that the Spirit of God here lists seven results of His work in us: and you will remember that seven is the number of completeness, or perfection. These seven may be divided into three sections or classes,
1. "Do all things without murmurings
2.     and (without) disputings, that ye may be
3.     unblameable
4.     and uncorrupted, children of God
5.     unblemished amidst a crooked and distorted race,
6. amongst whom ye appear as luminaries in (the world),
7.     holding out (or, offering) (the) word of life."

The first two are linked together very closely: very strong negatives. The three that follow are linked together in the Greek Testament because there each begins with "a", which I have attempted to translate (very feebly) by using three words that each begin with "un." The "a" of the Greek is a negative in somewhat the same manner as "un" is a negative in English. The last two are very strong positives. So we may see there is a progression from a strong negative to a strong positive. And I doubt not this is as it should be in the Christian life.

The first word we must look at is "murmurings." It is the translation of a Greek word pronounced something like, "gongusmos", and you can almost hear the grumblings and mutterings, in the sound of the word. The Children of Israel murmured very often. It was one of their chief sins. They murmured at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:11), though this word is not used of them there. They murmured at Marah (Ex. 15:24) where this word (with an added preposition) is used of them in the Greek Old Testament. We find it again in Ex. 16:2 in the wilderness of Sin; and again in Ex. 17:3 at Rephidim (where this word exactly is used). They murmured again at the return of the spies. (Num. 14:2, 27, 29, 36); and also against Aaron, (Num. 16:11). I think the particular word used in this verse in Philippians is used seven times in Exodus and Numbers.

The word translated "disputings", is "dialogismos", from which we get our word "dialogue." It begins with an inward questioning, that may be silent, and then these inward questionings become doubts. But when they grow bolder and are uttered, then they are disputings. You may see them well illustrated in Mark 2:6 & 8, where they are well translated "reasoning." The Lord often had to meet this spirit. If you will ponder these two words, you will see they are the roots of a very large range of sins: most of which, perhaps, are due to a lack of real, simple, living, obedient faith. When we were children, how often our Mother used to quote this verse in Philippians to us! But it is not the children only who need to hear this word: much as most of them may profit by taking heed to it.

The second group of results are in the words: a-memptos; a-keraios; and a-momos; all, you will note, begin with "a." The first word of this group, amemptos, means "blameless." There should be nothing in our lives of which anyone can take hold, and blame us. The Lord could say, "Which of you convinceth Me of sin?" Not one could. He was absolutely and altogether amemptos, unblameable. Not only must we learn not to murmur and dispute, but we must learn to walk blamelessly through this evil world.

Near where I live there is a dear Christian labourer: he labours in the rubber or coconut plantations: he comes from the island of Timor, and speaks no English, and I am sure has never heard of a-memptos: but he thoroughly understands the meaning of this passage in Philippians. He has spread the Gospel wherever he works: and yesterday he told us, laughing, "I have to be the best labourer in the plantation, or my boss would never put up with me." A Christian official for whom he once worked told us that he is the best labourer he ever had. He knows the meaning of a-memptos, though he has never heard the word. May we be more like him!

The fourth word is a-keraios, which literally means "unmixed." Wine unmixed with water is akeraios. It is sometimes translated guileless, innocent, simple, pure: I have translated it "uncorrupted" for the sake of using a word beginning with "un-", to try and link these three words together, as the Holy Spirit has done in Greek. But I am not at all satisfied with this translation, without an explanation. It describes a man with unmixed motives. I think the best illustration I know is the man who would not wear a garment of woollen and linen. (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:11). Abraham was such a man as this; but, alas, his nephew Lot often put on this kind of garment. Abraham, at times, failed to be an amemptos man, as, for example, when he went down to Egypt; but he always was an akeraios man. Amemptos relates to the judgment of others: akeraios describes the intrinsic character. (In this connection may I earnestly commend to my readers Mr. J. G. Bellet's pamphlet, "Woollen and Linen.")

The last word in this second series is a-momos. This is the word that is continually used in the Old Testament, and the New, for an unblemished sacrifice. We find it in Ex. 29:1, and often in Leviticus, and again in Numbers. In 1 Peter 1:19 we find it again: we are redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot." I think "without blemish" here tells of His inward perfection, and "without spot" of His outward perfection. But in Lev. 22:21-22, without blemish refers to outward blemishes. In Col. 1:21-22 we read: "You, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblemished (amomos) and unreproveable in His sight." Again, in Jude 24 we read of One who is "able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you unblemished (amomos) before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." I judge from these Scriptures that amomos describes the condition in the sight of God, as amemptos in the sight of man; and akeraios the intrinsic character. Those who know their own hearts best, know best how far in practice we now are from being amomos (unblemished): though as seen in Christ, even now God sees us unblemished. But we can thank Him that the object He has in view for us; the object towards which He is working in us, is that we should be in our daily life unblemished: and the day is surely coming when He will present us thus unblemished before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.

But we must look a little more closely at Verse 15, for it is of peculiar interest: "That ye may be unblameable and uncorrupted, children of God unblemished amidst a crooked and distorted race, amongst whom ye appear as luminaries in (the) world, holding out (or, offering) the word of life."

Most of this verse is based on, but not quoted from, Deut. 32:5, in the Greek Old Testament. In Deut. 14:1, looking at Israel as God's chosen and separated people, we read: "Ye are the children of the LORD your God." But in Deut. 32:5, looking at their rebellious walk and ways, the Spirit of God says: "They have sinned, (they are) not children to him, (they are) blemished (momos: Note, without the "a"), a crooked and distorted race." Israel has ceased to be "children to Him", and have, instead, become "a crooked and distorted race;" blemished, instead of unblemished. Now the saints at Philippi have God working in them so that they, once poor sinners of the Gentiles, have become "children of God", and they are to be unblemished children, amidst the blemished, crooked, and distorted race: which described not only Israel, but the Gentiles also.

"Among whom ye appear as luminaries in (the) world." Or, it might equally be translated, "Among whom appear ye as luminaries in (the) world." The verb "appear" is used in the middle voice, and then is used for the rising, or appearing, of heavenly bodies. (J.N.D. Note in large New Testament). We find the same thing in Matthew 2:7, "the star that was appearing", or, "the appearing star." The word translated "lights" (phoster) in the Authorized Version is the word used of heavenly luminaries, and is only used on one other occasion in the New Testament: Rev. 21:11: "He carried me away in the spirit and shewed me … the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light (phoster) was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal." To me, there is something inexpressibly beautiful in all this. The Christian is represented as a heavenly light, a new and beautiful star, perhaps; appearing amidst a crooked and distorted race: and the light that shines from this luminary is the light of heaven; but it appears in (the) world. There is no article, — no "the", — in the Greek with the word "world;" this gives the sense in the whole world: it has the effect of emphasizing the greatness of the sphere in which the Christian is to shine. It is the universe of mankind, including those as yet outside the sound of the Gospel. (Vaughan).

Even in earthly things men look for guidance to the stars. A man lost on the prairie may find his way home by the stars. In navigation, sailors look to the stars, especially to the North Star. In an important survey, we always run our base-lines by the stars, particularly the North Star: and so keep them from becoming crooked and distorted. Thus these 'luminaries', these 'heavenly lights' in this dark world, need to remember that those who walk in darkness have their eyes upon them: but just as other stars point to the North Star, let us ever have our eye fixed on 'The Bright and Morning Star,' and then our path will not be crooked, and we shall not lead astray those watching us. It was a star which led the wise men to the Saviour at Bethlehem when He was a Babe. How good if we too can be like that!

And while the Christian sheds this heavenly light in the poor dark world, at the same time he is to hold out, — to offer, — the Word of Life. The word translated "hold out" is used of holding out, or, presenting, a cup of wine to a person at a feast. It is as though he holds out a cup of the water of life, and offers it to all in the world, crying, "Whosoever will, let him take the Water of Life freely!"

Beloved, such is the picture the Spirit of God has drawn of the Christian as he passes through this scene. Do you turn from it in hopeless despair, saying, Never can I attain to such heights as this? You are right. You never can, most certainly, in your own strength: but never forget, "It is God that worketh in you." And you may turn to One, and only One, who ever has passed through this sad world and presented these seven lovely traits, or results. In this exquisite Chapter we have seen this One treading those seven steps downward, from the Throne to the Cross: we have seen Him also on that upward path from the Grave to the Glory, again seven steps: and now, in rapture we gaze upon Him once more, in these seven steps through this world: the only One who ever has trodden that path, as God has marked it out. May you and I, Beloved, seek grace to "follow His steps!" (1 Peter 2:21).

Chapter 26

"I have not run in vain"

"Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause do ye also joy, and rejoice with me."

". … holding out (the) Word of-Life; unto a boast for-me in Christ's day, that not in vain I-ran, neither in vain I-toiled. But even if I-am-being-poured-out (as a drink offering) upon the sacrifice and ministry of-your faith, I-rejoice, and rejoice-in-common-with you all. But in-like-manner also do-ye-rejoice, and rejoice-in-common-with me."

Philippians 2:16-18

We have seen in verses 14 to 16, seven steps for the Christian through this dark world: but as we pondered these steps we were overwhelmed with the reality of the fact that none had ever trodden them truly, except our own beloved Lord and Master. Yet, as Mr. Kelly beautifully puts it: "Let us not forget how the apostle's picture of the saint resembles the Master." And thus Paul exhorts the Philippian saints to tread these steps, "so as to be a boast for me in Christ's day, that not in vain I ran, neither in vain I toiled." And let us remember that such is the only sanctioned path for all saints. Let us not excuse ourselves with the thought that our path in these last difficult days is harder than the path the saints of old had to tread. Some of them were "saints … of Caesar's household."
"Though vice, flagrant and unblushing,
Nero's palace boldly trod,
In that vile court's baleful precincts
There were some who walked with God."
And to walk with God is the secret of treading the pathway marked out in Philippians 2:14 to 16. It is not the special right of some advanced souls only to walk that pathway. It is what every Christian desires. In Chapter 1:10, the Apostle prayed that "Ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ:" just as though it was possible for them to walk that path of faith "till the day of Christ" without a single false step. We marvel at the thought, but Paul's marvel, perhaps, would have been that we should count it wonderful.

Often and often Paul's thoughts were looking forward to the Day of Christ:
"Blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 1:8).
"That the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." (1 Cor. 5:5).
"Ye also are our's (our boast) in the day of the Lord Jesus." (2 Cor. 1:14).
"He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6).
"Sincere and without offence till the day of Christ." (Phil. 1:10).

And what is this "Day" of which the Apostle so often speaks? This "Day of our Lord Jesus Christ"? or, "Day of the Lord Jesus"? or, "Day of Christ"? In 2 Peter 1:19 it is just called "The day:" "Until the day dawn." In 1 Cor. 4:3 we read of "man's day." (See the margin). We speak of "Caesar's day", or, "Napoleon's day"; and we all understand by this that it means the day when Caesar or Napoleon held sway, and exercised his will. So is it now: it is "man's day", when man is permitted to act according to his own will. But the time is coming when the Lord Jesus Christ will have His day: when He will come again and take all His own to be with Himself for ever, as we read in 1 Thess. 4. That is the beginning of the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ: but it will include the Judgment Seat of Christ, of which we read in 2 Cor. 5:10, and other Scriptures: and I think this is the time that the Apostle refers to in our verse in Phil. 2. When he sees his beloved brethren from Philippi receive their reward for their faithful walk down here, it will be a boast to Paul, that not in vain he ran, and not in vain he toiled. And, beloved fellow labourer, you and I have that same bright hope: nor do I mean by that word "fellow labourer" any special class of persons. A child who seeks to lead a school-mate to the Saviour; the Sunday School teacher who seeks to win the class to Him; the workman who points his companion to Christ: and, perhaps the sweetest of all, the parents who win their own child: these all are "labourers" for Christ: these all may look forward to that same boast the apostle had: if these dear souls continue in the path marked out.

In 2 Thess. 2:2 we read of "the day of Christ." If you will look at the New Translation, or any good modern translation, you will see this should be "The day of the Lord:" for it speaks of a different time, and "The Day of the Lord" is very different from "the Day of Christ." That is the day when Christ will take His place as Judge, and this poor wicked world must be judged before Him. We often read of it in the Old Testament, as well as the New: and a terrible time it will be. It "is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?" (Joel 2:11).

In Rev. 1:10, we read: "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day." This refers to the First Day of the week. This is a different expression in the Greek, to that translated "The day of the Lord." Perhaps more literally it might be rendered, "The Lordly Day." We have the same word in 1 Cor. 11:20, "The Lord's supper." These are the only places this word is used in the New Testament. When we realize that "Sunday", means the day they worshipped the sun: just as Monday is the day they worshipped the moon; we Christians will do well to use instead the name which the Lord Himself has chosen for His day.

But let us go back to our verse. The Apostle's thoughts were looking forward to Christ's Day, when He would have come for His own, to take them to be forever with Himself; when He would review their pathway down here, and to some He would say: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" If the Lord thus commended the beloved Philippian saints it would be a boast for Paul: for he had been the instrument used of the Lord to win them. In Chapter 4:1, Paul writes to them: "My brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown."

In writing to the Thessalonian saints he speaks similarly: "What is our hope, or joy, or crown of boasting? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy." The word for "coming" in this verse is parousia; a word that I suppose is impossible to translate. In a note to Chapter 24, we tried to make clear the meaning of this word. It not only tells of the coming of a person to a place, but also of his presence in that place after he has arrived. "Christ's Day" tells us the same, but put in a different way.

In that coming day of review and rewards, the Philippian saints would be Paul's boast "that not in vain I ran, neither in vain I toiled." And at the same time the Thessalonian saints would be to him his hope, and joy, and "crown of boasting." And these dear Philippian saints: his "joy and crown." And the Scripture says that "then shall every man have praise of God," so be of good cheer, dear Brother, dear Sister, you who have sought to serve the Lord down here, you will find that not in vain you ran, neither in vain you toiled.

The word ran tells us that Paul is looking at himself as a runner in the Marathon foot race: (one of his favourite similes): and the commendation of the Philippian saints, told out that he ran not in vain: literally, "ran not to emptiness." How many who run in a race return with empty hands, and uncrowned brow, no prize for them: they run unto emptiness: they run in vain.

"Neither in vain I toiled." There are various words for "labour" in Greek: one gives prominence to the hardship: another to the painful effort. The word used here tells of the fatigue and the weariness: it is from the same root as the word "In weariness and painfulness." (Cor. 11:27). I do not think the Apostle is casting a doubt on the fruit of his labours in this verse: for you recall he says elsewhere: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Cor. 15:58). We find just the same words here as in Phil. 2:16. Let us ever remember that not unto emptiness we toil.

"Nay, if I am even being poured out as a drink-offering upon sacrifice and ministry of your faith, I rejoice, and rejoice in common with you all. But do ye in like manner also rejoice, and rejoice in common with me." (Phil. 2:17-18).

It has been said that the Second Chapter of Philippians gives us "Examples of Devotedness." We have in this Chapter already gazed with adoring wonder at our Saviour as the pre-eminent Example of devotedness, even to death, and that the death of the Cross. Now we are to gaze on some of His followers, who have sought in some measure to walk in that pathway. The first example the Spirit of God brings before us is the Apostle himself. "Even if I am being poured out as a drink-offering." It is not "If I should be poured out," but "if I am being poured out." It is the very same tense as in 2 Tim. 4:6, but there is added the little word, "already;" and no "if": "I am already being poured out." Those words were penned not long before he laid down his life for his Lord.

The Law of Moses required that a certain amount of wine should in most cases accompany the sacrifices. See, for example, the morning and evening sacrifice, Ex. 29:40-41: The sacrifices at the Feasts of Jehovah: Lev. 23:13, 18, etc. First, no doubt, this tells us of our Lord Jesus Christ: "He hath poured out His soul unto death." (Isa. 53:12). But in our Chapter in Philippians we find Paul using the figure of himself. We have seen him running, we have seen him toiling: now we see him laying down his life: pouring out his life, on the sacrifice.

And what was the sacrifice? It was "the sacrifice and ministry of your faith." I suppose it included the Philippian saints themselves. Their "faith", their confidence in their Lord, led them to present themselves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which was their reasonable service. And the dear Apostle rejoices to be the drink-offering, being poured out on their sacrifice, and he beseeches them to rejoice in common with him. There is something extremely beautiful in the way Paul associates himself with them. The sacrifice and the drink-offering belonged together: they formed one offering. We have seen how the Philippians struggled with him for the faith of the Gospel; and we will see it again, as we read further in our Epistle: and so here we find, whether in life, or in death, Paul and his beloved brethren and sisters in Philippi were one. And notice he uses that little word "all" once more: he would not leave one out, not even Euodias or Syntyche, even though they were having a quarrel. And so in the Philippian saints we see another example of devotedness.

But there is another lovely trait in this verse. The main part of the sacrifice was the offering itself. In the morning and evening sacrifice, the main part was the lamb. The drink-offering was added to it, but was not the important part of the sacrifice. Paul represents the Philippian saints as the sacrifice: he was merely the drink-offering poured on it. Like his Master, he made himself of no reputation: he let this mind be in him, which was also in Christ Jesus. May you and I beloved, learn the lesson.

And as they were linked together in one offering: now he would have them and himself linked together in one joy: the joy of suffering for Christ's sake. You remember in Chapter 1:29 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." The suffering was a gift, given to them: now in Chapter 2, face to face with death, "being poured out", how does the Apostle face it? Four times, in three lines, do we find the word "Rejoice!" Nor would he rejoice alone: but it must be they in common with him, and he in common with them. It is the very same spirit of the "with you", in 2 Cor. 4:14. Paul can enjoy nothing alone.

In Romans 15:16 we find the same thought of the saints being a sacrifice offered to God, acceptable, "being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."

(Some have thought Paul here refers to pagan sacrifices, because Josephus says the wine was not poured on the Jewish sacrifices, but around them: but there is no ground for this thought. The Greek Old Testament in Numbers 15:5, uses exactly the same preposition, "upon", for the drink-offering upon the burnt-offering, as the Spirit of God uses in Phil. 2:17.)

Chapter 27

"All seek their own"
All Seek Their Own
ALL SEEK THEIR OWN, and not the things
        Of Jesus Christ!
        What! All seek their own?
Their comfort, treasures; ease and pleasures:
But not HIS cross, HIS shame, HIS loss.
        Do all seek their own?

All seek their own, and not the things
        Of Jesus Christ!
        Yes, All their own!
Their wealth, their fame; their joys, their home:
HIS sheep are gone, — lost, far, alone;
        While all seek their own.

All seek their own, and not the things
        Of Jesus Christ!
        Though Jesus Christ
        Sought not His own:
Through boundless love, came from above
To seek the lost, His life the cost:
For Love alone seeks not its own:
        Thy Love, Lord Jesus!

"But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's."

"But I-hope in (the) Lord Jesus soon to-send Timothy to-you, in-order-that I-also may-be-cheered-in-soul knowing the-(things) concerning you. For I-have no-one equal-in-soul who will genuinely care-about the-(things) concerning you; for they all seek their own-(things), not the-(things) of-Christ Jesus."*

Philippians 2:19-21

{* Nestle's Greek Text gives "Christ Jesus" here and in Rom. 1:1 instead of "Jesus Christ" as in the Authorised Version.}

We have mentioned that the Second Chapter of Philippians presents to us examples of devotedness: first and foremost, alone, we gaze on our Lord Jesus. Then we saw Paul, as the wine poured out on the sacrifice for a drink-offering, and then also the Philippian saints themselves, as the sacrifice.

Now we will meditate a little, God willing, on Paul's own son in the faith, Timothy: and before we reach the end of the Chapter, we will see Epaphroditus as another beautiful example of devotedness to Christ.

Let us refresh our memories a little as to Timothy, and I hope we will find it also refreshes our own souls. His home was in either Derbe or Lystra, probably Lystra; his mother was a Jewess who believed, named Eunice, and unfeigned faith dwelt not only in her, but also, first, in his grandmother Lois: but his father was a Greek, and as he had never been circumcised, he may have been brought up as a Greek. However, he knew the Holy Scriptures from earliest childhood, and was well reported of by the brethren that dwelt in Lystra and Iconium: and on Paul's second missionary journey, he desired to have Timothy go forth with him in the work. (Acts 16:1-3 & 2 Tim. 1:5). Timothy fully knew what persecutions Paul endured at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra. (2 Tim. 3:10-11). Most of these persecutions had been on Paul's first missionary journey (Acts 14), when Timothy was, perhaps, only a boy; but he knew all about them, and may have been an eye-witness of some. It was at Lystra Paul was stoned, and dragged out of the city, supposed to be dead: and it is very probable the boy Timothy was amongst the disciples who "stood round about him," when he "rose up, and came into the city." He must have known also how John Mark had turned back from the very path of service to which he was now called: yet he did not hesitate to follow Paul, though well he must have known it would be to share similar persecutions. I rather wonder how many of us would have done the same thing.

I think Timothy is a most encouraging example for young believers today. He was young, not strong in body, probably knew what it was to be despised. He seems to have been by nature, timid; and at times in much need of encouragement. He knew what tears meant. He knew the temptation to be a coward. (2 Tim. 1:7; New Translation). But I know of no fellow-servant whom Paul so delights to honour: listen to what he says of him: —

"Timothy, my dearly beloved son." (2 Tim. 1:2).

Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord." (1 Cor. 4:17).

Timotheus … worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him." (1 Cor. 16:10-11).

"Timotheus my fellow worker." (Rom. 16:21).

Timothy was almost certainly with Paul in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Corinth, Troas, Miletus, and doubtless other places; and he was with him in prison at Rome: and it was for Timothy Paul specially longed in his last imprisonment, probably in a dungeon, just before his death. We do not know if he reached him in time, or not.

This young brother was associated with Paul in writing six Epistles; and his name is included in the salutation of a seventh: and we have two letters that were written by the Apostle to him. Paul sent him for special service to Thessalonica, to Corinth, to Philippi. We know he had been in prison for Christ's sake, and had been released. (Heb. 13:23). Paul had a number of companions and helpers, but this young man, weak in body, but strong in spirit, seems to have been the dearest to him, and the most trusted. It is this young man Paul chose to go to the assembly in Philippi, while he himself is unable to be with them. We never read, as far as I know, of any very great gift that Timothy had: though he did unquestionably have special gifts: (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6): but, as another has said, "It is not great talents, nor great scholarship, nor great preachers that God needs, but men and women great in holiness, great in faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great for God." O, my beloved young Readers, May you take courage by Timothy to seek to be men and women such as this!

And so we read: "But I hope in the Lord Jesus soon to send Timothy to you." I think the word "But" takes us back to the 12th verse, where Paul speaks of his own absence: and to make up in a way for this, "this favourite companion, the Apostle will now send to his favourite Church;" with the added assurance, "I am persuaded (or, confident) in the Lord, that I also myself shall come soon."

There is something very lovely in the way Paul tells his beloved friends of his "hope" to send Timothy, and of his "confidence" that he himself would soon come. Both are "in the Lord," or "in the Lord Jesus," James tells us we should say, "If the Lord will:" and Paul uses these words at times: (1 Cor. 4:19; 16:7): but Paul hopes, or is confident, in the Lord. There may be a difference between this, and being "in Christ," which would take us up to our union with Christ in heaven: while the expression "in the Lord" would seem to think of us as His bondslaves down here: but both are in Him. None knew as Paul that "we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones;" and it cannot fail to affect his ordinary speech. His every thought and word and deed seem to proceed from Christ: in very truth he could say "For me to live is Christ." Thus he could speak of, —
love "in the Lord," Rom. 16:8.
boast "in the Lord," 2 Cor. 10:17.
labour "in the Lord," 1 Cor. 15:58.
salute "in the Lord," 1 Cor. 16:19.
testify "in the Lord," Eph. 4:17.
be strong "in the Lord," Eph. 6:10.
receive one "in the Lord," Phil 2:29.
hope "in the Lord," Phil. 2:19.
stand fast "in the Lord," Phil. 4:1.
be of the same mind "in the Lord," Phil. 4:2.
rejoice "in the Lord," Phil. 3:1; 4:4.
we are now brothers "in the Lord," Philemon 16.
And let us never forget, we are to marry, "only in the Lord." (1 Cor. 7:39).

This does not exhaust them, but time would fail to recount all. And may I again point out that the word LORD necessarily implies a counterpart, slave, just as husband necessarily implies wife, or father necessitates a child. And I sadly fear, Beloved, in our day we are in danger of forgetting that HE is our LORD, and that we are HIS slaves. Paul's Epistles open with these words: "Paul, slave of Christ Jesus." (Romans 1:1)
"Lord Jesus, Thou hast bought me,
And my life, my all, is Thine!"
Because He bought me, I am His slave. May that ever be the breathing of our heart, as it was of Paul's heart!

And why did Paul wish to send Timothy? That he himself might be "cheered-in-soul," knowing the "things concerning" the saints at Philippi. The word we have translated "cheered-in-soul" is a very rare word: it only occurs here in the Greek Scriptures, and is thought not to occur at all in the Greek Classics, though words from the same root are found, and it is found in the old letters, etc., that we have mentioned, and on inscriptions. It has been translated in many ways: "good comfort, good courage, good cheer, take heart, refreshed, etc." In the next verse (verse 20) we get a similar word, that is even more uncommon, which we have translated "equal-in-soul." Paul loves to play on Greek words, and probably intended these two words to be linked together. It is remarkable that in verse 2 of this chapter, we get a third very rare word that is also found only here in the Greek New Testament, and also belongs to the same group as the two words we have just been looking at. In our ordinary English Bibles it is translated "of one accord:" Dr. Lightfoot tells us it means "a complete harmony of feelings and affections;" Dr. Vaughan translates it "knit together in soul," though he adds, this is not "wholly satisfactory;" Mr. Darby uses "joined in soul." The three words all are derived from "psuche" soul:
sun-psuchoi … "Ones-knit-together-in-soul"
eu-psucheo … "To-be-cheered-in-soul"
iso-psuchon … "To-be-equal-in-soul"

To these we may add, from 2 Tim. 1:16:
ana-psucho … To refresh: perhaps the meaning is, "To-renew-the-soul."

These are all very rare words, each used only once in the Greek New Testament. Is it that such qualities are so rare in the saints, that the Spirit of God must use such rare words to describe them?

God speaks of Himself as the "God of all Encouragement." (2 Cor. 1:3; New Translation), and the Greek language seems to be much more full of words to encourage us than English. I have pondered for weeks how to translate this word, eu-psucho, so as to give its own distinctive meaning, and to try and differentiate it from other words with the meaning to encourage: and more than a dozen different Greek words that are meant to cheer our hearts come to mind: each with its own special meaning, so hard to tell out in English: and I suppose, were one to seek, others might be found. The God of All Encouragement means to encourage our hearts with these words, and I would love to try and tell you how they have cheered my own heart, but you are probably already weary with Greek words, so I refrain. But the opening words in an old Greek Grammar will come to mind: "That a knowledge of the New Testament in its original tongue is a thing to be desired by intelligent Christians none will question." Was the old writer mistaken, or are "intelligent Christians" sadly few today?

But let us return to Philippians. Paul knew his dear Philippian brethren well enough to know that "the things concerning" them would cheer his soul. He could not write such words to the saints in Galatia or Corinth: I wonder could he write them to the saints in the place where you live, and I? Could he write them to me? Even in Paul's day there do not seem to have been many individuals who could so cheer the Apostle's soul: but Timothy was one such, and of him Paul writes: "I have no man equal-in-soul, who will genuinely care about the things concerning you; for they all seek their own things, not the things of Christ Jesus." (The word translated "things" could equally well be translated "interests").

Dear Young Believer, (and Old Believer, too), do not these words challenge your heart? Honestly, before God, whose "things" are you seeking? Whose interests? Whose comfort? Whose pleasure? Whose ease? Whose profit? To me, the words are most challenging. Would to God they would challenge every one who reads them! Perhaps these words explain why so few young people are to be found in the dark and needy parts of the Lord's harvest field.

While meditating on Verse 4 of this chapter, we mentioned that Mr. W. Kelly translates 2 Cor. 5:18, thus: "While we have the eye, not on the things that are seen, but on those not seen, for the things seen (are) temporary, but those not seen, eternal." I believe this is an excellent translation. It is not, as we saw, the ordinary word for look, or, see: but comes from a word meaning "a mark on which to fix the eye." We get this very word in the 14th verse of the next chapter of Philippians: "I press toward the mark." It is a race, in which the runner has his eye fixed on the goal. Is not this what you and I need in these days of laxity, when our eye is tempted to wander to all sorts of things, and when it is more awfully true than ever: "All seek their own"? May God help us each one to have our eye on those things above, "the things of Jesus Christ," and not on the things all around us, that so easily fill our vision: then we will be found seeking the things of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps someone will ask, Does this Scripture really mean that there was not one other, except Timothy, in those days, who sought not his own things, but the things of Jesus Christ? God forbid that one should for a moment detract from the terrible force of this Scripture, but it is fair to say that in the Greek New Testament there is the little word hoi (the nominative plural definite article) before the word all. It is said that according to Greek Grammar this imposes some sort of limitation on the word all. Mr. W. Kelly and Dr. Vaughan translate this: "They all seek their own." This, I think, is as nearly correct as can be in English. We do not know, nor need we ask, who the "they" refers to: possibly the Philippian saints would know: but it seems to make clear that such beloved servants of the Lord as Luke and Peter and John, and other names known to the Lord, did seek the things of Jesus Christ, and not their own things. And this should encourage us each, individually, to seek to make sure we are not found amongst the "they all," of this verse, "who seek their own things, and not the things of Jesus Christ." I believe there always has been, and I believe there always will be, a remnant, however small and feeble, who do seek the things of Jesus Christ. May God help us to be of it at any cost!

Chapter 28

"A child to a father"

"But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the Gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly."

"But the proof of him (Timothy) ye-know, that as child to (a) father, he-has-slaved with me for the Glad-Tidings. This-one, therefore, on-the-one-hand, I-am-hoping to-send immediately, as-soon-as I-may-see the-(things) relating-to me. On-the-other-hand, I am persuaded in (the) Lord, that I also myself shall-come speedily."

Philippians 2:22-24

While meditating on the Scripture now before us I had a letter from a brother dearly beloved, telling how his son, an only and beloved son, still quite young, had preached the Gospel with his father in the open air. As I read of the joy this had been to the father's heart, and his gratitude to God for such a privilege, I better understood the words: "As a child to a father, he has slaved with me for the Gospel." And perhaps only one who has experienced this joy can fully enter into the apostle's thoughts in this verse.

In the first sentence quoted, the construction of the Greek sentence is broken; and some think the Apostle meant to say, when he began this sentence: "that, as a child serves a father, so he served me in the Gospel." But after the first two or three words, he felt this was placing Timothy in an inferior position, and "with that beautiful courtesy which is characteristic of him", he avoids this, "and inserts 'with' before 'me', breaking the construction, but with admirable effect." (Vaughan).

You may remember the Epistle began: "Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus." (Phil. 1:1). The word generally translated "serve" in the first paragraph of Verse 22 is the verb, "To Slave", formed from the noun "slave" found in the first verse of our Epistle. For this reason we have translated it: "he has slaved with me for the Gospel." At the beginning of the Epistle Paul and Timothy are presented to us as fellow-slaves of the same Master: so it would not do to suggest that Timothy "slaved for Paul." (And yet let us ever remember that Galatians 5:13 says: "By love slave for one another.") But in our portion, Paul adds the little word "with" before "me", so again he makes Timothy his fellow-slave. Paul was no hireling, nor was Timothy: they both were slaves. Neither one was his own, for each had been bought with a price: and they delighted to confess that they belonged absolutely and altogether to the Lord that bought them.

I fear, my beloved Brethren and Sisters, that there are few of us today who have entered into what this means. Can you, dear Reader, honestly, and truly, before God, say: "I am a slave of Christ Jesus"? HIS, and HIS alone, to go where HE sends, wherever that may be: HIS, and HIS alone, to do what HE wants, however menial and humiliating that may be? I venture to suggest that the labourers in the vast harvest fields would not be so pitifully few, were there more servants of the Lord today who not only understood, but acted in obedience to the truth that we are "slaves of Christ Jesus:" and who were willing to "slave for the Gospel." These solemn truths we have been meditating upon in Philippians should be enough to arouse us from the self-complacency and self-satisfaction that seems to have settled down on so many of us.

The Philippian saints had known Timothy of old, and they knew there was no self-complacency or self-satisfaction with him: they knew the proof of him, they knew his character: it was not really needful for Paul to speak thus, but he delights to remind them of this one young man, with whom he had no man like-minded: one who sought the things of Christ Jesus, in a day when he must say, all seek their own. How different was Timothy, — the "slave of Christ Jesus." Oh, that the Spirit of God might be able to record these four words of you and of me!

Verse 24. "This one", emphatic, — "This one, therefore, on the one hand, I am hoping to send immediately, as soon as I may see the things relating to me." The emphasis on "This one", carries with it still further praise and commendation of Timothy. I sometimes wonder (with joy) at the way the Spirit of God so delights to commend the people of God, when He can do so: and I sometimes wonder (with sorrow) at the way we seem so ready to see the faults and failings in each other, rather than the good and faithful qualities that their Lord sees: and so we are more ready to blame than praise.

We must notice the difference between the "things of Christ Jesus," (Verse 21), and the "things that relate to me." (Verse 23). "To the true disciple, in his true condition, the things of Christ Jesus are, as such, the supreme interest." But the things relating to Paul are also of interest to Paul, and to those who loved him: nor do they in any way detract from wholehearted devotedness as to things of Christ Jesus. So may we learn to view in their proper aspect HIS things, and the things that relate to us.

"On the one hand" Paul hoped to send "this one", — Timothy, — to be with his dear Philippian brethren, but "on the other hand" he is "persuaded in the Lord", (once again we meet this lovely expression), "that I also myself shall come speedily." We have no record as to whether this "persuasion" was fulfilled or not: it is one of those things the Lord has seen fit to leave untold: but it will not be long now till we meet these dear saints above: and if it is seemly and right, answers will be given to many of these questions that are hidden from us now.

Chapter 29


"Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellow-soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: because that for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me."

"But I-have-considered necessary to-send unto you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-workman and fellow-soldier, but your missionary and ministrant to my need, seeing-that he was earnestly-longing-after you all, and was sore-distressed because ye-had heard that he-was-sick; for indeed he-was-sick very near to death; but God had-mercy-on him, but not on him only, but on-me also, that I-might not have-sorrow upon sorrow. I-have-sent him therefore (the) more-diligently, that seeing him ye-may-rejoice again, and I might-be less-sorrowful. Receive him therefore in (the) Lord with all joy, and hold such in honour; because for the work of Christ he-drew-near even-unto death, gambling his life that he-might-fill-up the lack of-your ministrations to me."

Philippians 2:25-30

The Second Chapter of Philippians gives us, as we have seen, examples of devotedness. First, and alone, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Then Paul, the Philippian Saints, Timothy, and lastly Epaphroditus, on whom it is our privilege to meditate now. This is the only place in the Scriptures where he is mentioned. It has been suggested that Epaphras was the same man: but he came from Asia Minor, and Epaphroditus from Philippi in Macedonia. His name means, "Charming, Lovely," and he seems to have been a most charming and lovely Christian man. I do not recall any who had purchased to themselves so many good degrees as Epaphroditus. (1 Tim. 3:13).

He was sent to Rome by the assembly in Philippi with gifts for Paul, who was there in chains. It was by no means the first time this assembly had sent gifts to Paul: (Phil. 4:16), and it is lovely to see how joyfully and gladly he received their gifts: for it was not from every assembly he would accept such help. The Malay for "Thank You" is, "I receive your gift." Paul speaks of this fresh gift as an "odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God." We are not entire strangers to the saints in Philippi, and we may think of the jailer, of Lydia (if still there), of the damsel from whom the evil spirit had been cast out, of Euodias and of Syntyche: each, no doubt, had their share in the preparation of the gifts, sent once again, we need not doubt, out of the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty. (2 Cor. 8:2). To the assembly in Corinth he could write: "Ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings," intimating wealth and luxury: but from them the Apostle would accept nothing. (1 Cor. 9:15; 2 Cor. 11:7-11). We rejoice to see that the day did come when Paul could accept the hospitality of "Gaius mine host." (Rom. 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:14). If Paul were with us today, I wonder if there would be gatherings from whom he could not accept gifts?

Epaphroditus had contracted a very serious illness: we have no hint as to the nature, or the cause, of this illness, except that it was for the sake of the work of Christ; and that this beloved soldier of Jesus Christ had voluntarily risked his life to supply Paul's needs. If it had not been for this illness it may be that we would never have heard of Epaphroditus, so we may thank God for it; and see in it one of the "all things" that work together for good to them that love God. We have seen that Paul hoped to send Timothy to Philippi and he expected that he himself might soon after follow: but with Epaphroditus it was different. Paul considered it necessary to send him speedily back to those dear saints with whom he was linked by such strong bonds of love: for they had heard he had been sick; and Epaphroditus was sore distressed about this: not distressed that he himself had been sick; but sore distressed that his loved brethren should have the pain and anxiety of knowing about his sickness. This, to me, seems one of the most beautiful examples of unselfishness. If we are sick we are rather glad to have our friends know, so that they may sympathize and pray for us: but with Epaphroditus it was just the opposite. And so, in order to relieve the sore distress of Epaphroditus, and the anxiety of the Philippian saints, Paul considered it necessary to send him home speedily. We may hardly pass by the word translated "sore distress." It has a sanctity attached to it, because the only other place in the Scriptures where it is used, is in our Lord's Agony in the Garden: Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:33: "and began to be … very heavy (sore distressed)."

But let us look a little at the five "good degrees" that Epaphroditus won: and notice that in 1 Tim 3:13 the promise of a good degree is to the deacon, and it was while doing the work of deacon, that they were awarded to this beloved servant of Christ.
1. My brother.
2. My fellow-workman.
3. My fellow-soldier.
4. Your missionary.
5. Your ministrant.
Probably also "True yoke-fellow," as we will see in Chapter 4:4."

"A brother is born for adversity." And it was surely in a day of adversity that Epaphroditus came and proved himself to be a true "brother" to Paul. "My brother" tells of the family, and of family love and affection. How sweet this must have been to Paul's heart: and so the first title he bestows on him is "My Brother!"

But Epaphroditus not only loved, but he laboured: so the next title is "My fellow-workman." And that meant a great deal, for to be a fellow-workman of Paul meant sharing "toil and hardship," "weariness and painfulness." (2 Cor. 11:27). It meant ceasing not "night and day," and that "with tears." And "these hands," worn and calloused, bore witness, also, to the toil of making tents. (Acts 20:31, 34). There were a number of others who bore this degree besides Epaphroditus; but the degree following, fellow-soldier, is shared by only one other: Archippus, the son (I suppose) of Philemon, master of the slave Onesimus, "and our beloved Apphia." Archippus means "Master of the Horse," and would suggest that he was a young cavalry officer: so it is easy to understand how Paul could address him as "our fellow-soldier," and Paul and Archippus both knew this meant a soldier of Jesus Christ. But with Epaphroditus it was different: one who bore the name "Charming, Lovely" might hardly be expected to be a soldier: but it only draws out our hearts the more in loving admiration as we see the courage with which he risked his life, — gambled with it, — to serve Paul. But not only must a soldier have courage, but also endurance: that first mark of a minister of Christ: (2 Cor. 6:4): "Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." There must also be self-denial: "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life." (2 Tim. 2:3-4). And he must be able and ready to "Fight the good fight of faith." (1 Tim. 6:12). These are but a few of the characteristics Epaphroditus must have borne. And then let us not forget that he must ever wear the whole armour of God. And all this he shared with the Apostle Paul.

And then there was another side: "But your missionary and ministrant for my need." I have followed Bishop Moule in thus translating. The Greek work is apostolon (our word apostle), and originally meant simply "a messenger, one sent on a mission." (Abbott-Smith), and is so used in John 13:16, and perhaps 2 Cor. 8:23. But Luke 6:13 gives to The Twelve a special significance that was extended to only a very few, and evidently not intended by Paul in this instance: and yet Epaphroditus was more than just a messenger. He was, verily, "one sent on a mission," and a very sacred mission: and it is hoped that the word missionary (from a Latin word to send) will convey something of this sacredness.

The word translated ministrant is also a special word: leitourgen. It is used about 140 times in the Greek Old Testament, chiefly for the priestly ministrations of those days. Its usual associations in the New Testament are sacred, if not sacrificial: Example Luke 1:23: and Paul seems to use it here in that sense. He uses a very similar word (from the same root) in Verse 30 to speak of the ministry that Epaphroditus carried out: and this word is also used in Verse 17. In Chapter 4:18 these gifts from Philippi are spoken of as "a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God," which shows that Paul looked on the service of Epaphroditus as a priestly service, and the gifts which he bore, as a sacrifice being offered up to God. This gives great dignity to Epaphroditus and to his mission. "He was no mere agent; he was a 'ministrant,' commissioned from a high quarter — the Philippians' love." (Moule).

And this service had very nearly cost him his life. He knowingly took chances, and without hesitation exposed his life. This is often the duty of a good soldier, and Epaphroditus did not fail. The result was he was sick, very near to death. It is a special word, very rare and used nowhere else in the New Testament (though the adverb from it is found in Heb. 2:14), and means "very near to," literally: alongside near. A Christian nurse once remarked to one of her Christian patients: "You nearly touched the Pearly Gates." That was what Epaphroditus voluntarily did to serve Paul. You will notice that Paul speaks twice of this drawing near to death, Verses 27 & 30, though the words in Greek are different.

"He drew near even unto death, gambling his life." The word translated gambling is another very rare word, found nowhere else in the New Testament. It means to "throw down a stake," as is done in gambling. The stake he threw down was his life.

"But God had mercy on him." We must remember that only in the previous Chapter Paul said "to die is gain," and to depart and be with Christ is "much more better." Yet now he says that God had mercy on Epaphroditus in sparing him. It is so human, so like ourselves, and I think we can understand both statements, and see that both are true, and they do not clash, though at first sight it might seem so. Perhaps 2 Cor. 5:4 might help us to understand it, if there is any difficulty: "Not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life." But that day we still await, and so God has mercy upon us, and sometimes, if He sees fit, spares us or those we love, to stay down here a little longer, to live for Himself. But let us be careful that in our prayers in such a matter we say, "Thy will be done," or we may have the sad experience of Hezekiah, who gained fifteen years of life, but in those years became the father of Manasseh, one of the most wicked of Judah's kings, and who was largely responsible for the Captivity. (2 Kings 24:3-4).

But Paul adds that it was not only on Epaphroditus God had mercy, "but on me also, that I might not have sorrow upon sorrow." Well can we understand Paul's sorrow as he gazed on his brother, his fellow-workman, his fellow-soldier, drawing so near to death: and knowing it was for his sake. And, notice, he did not use the gift of healing to raise him up: nor is there a suggestion that this illness was due to any sin or failure: on the contrary, Paul exhorts them to honour very highly such as Epaphroditus. It was not that God's power could not have healed him in a moment: but perhaps God would teach us, on the one hand, that the gift of healing was a temporary gift: and on the other hand, that the one exercising it needed ever to be subject to the prayer: "If it be Thy will." And we have noticed what great losers you and I would be, had God miraculously healed Epaphroditus: for probably we would never have heard of him.

"I have sent him therefore the more diligently, that seeing him ye may rejoice again, and that I might be the less sorrowful." I believe that we all would do well to ponder that little word sent. Epaphroditus had been sent twice, and each time, he went. I suppose there is not one of us who has not had the experience of being sent. We know that it implies one in authority over us. When we were children, our parents sent us with messages: sometimes perhaps we were faithful: sometimes, possibly, we were not. The Word says: "As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters." (Prov. 25:13.) I suppose there has only been one Messenger who has been entirely faithful: "The Messenger of the Covenant," sent by His Father. But we read of many others in the Scriptures who have been sent: Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Jeremiah, Philip, Timothy, and many others. These all were, in a measure, faithful messengers, they all went, when and where their Master sent them. But there was Jonah: he also was sent, but he did not go: to his shame and sorrow he disobeyed. He was not a faithful messenger. And now, to come nearer home, Have you, my Reader, a Master? Has He ever said to you, "Go!"? Have you ever been sent? Have you ever heard our Lord's own words, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature"? Can you put your name into that Scripture, — "There was a man sent from God" whose name was? Can it be said of you, as of many another in the Word, — "AND HE WENT"?

Epaphroditus had been sent twice: first by his brethren in Philippi, then by Paul: and Epaphroditus went. And when he got home to Philippi how rejoiced his friends and brethren would be! They had been so sad and anxious; and therefore Paul had sent him the more diligently, or speedily; but now they rejoiced again. Paul does not say he rejoiced to see his beloved friend and brother leave him: but he was the less sorrowful, knowing the joy of that meeting so soon to take place in Philippi.

"Receive him therefore in the Lord with all joy, and hold such in honour; because for the sake of the work of Christ he drew near unto death, gambling his life that he might fill up that which was lacking on your part, in ministering to me." Our Lord could say, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country: and it may be the dear saints in Philippi needed this little exhortation from Paul to receive their brother with all joy, and to honour him: for probably they hardly appreciated all he had done, and all the sorrows and sufferings and dangers through which he had passed: and in part, at least, for their sakes. We never hear that he was a gifted or eloquent brother, when it came to speaking: possibly he took little part in the meetings: and it may be his brethren were apt to look down on him somewhat: as is not unknown with such brothers today. Sometimes we are more apt to honour the ready speakers; those who take the leading part in a conference; or who can press home doctrines that are specially dear to us. And so the Lord would remind us through Epaphroditus that the ones whom He delights to honour are men who go when and where they are sent, and who are ready to gamble their lives, if need be, for the work of Christ. Nor let us forget those in 1 Thess. 5:12 & 13, whom we are to esteem very highly in love for their work's sake.

May we learn the lesson: and, Oh, for more of the devotedness of dear Epaphroditus!

There is another remarkable lesson I think we may learn from Epaphroditus, should we be willing to learn it. It may come as a surprise to some to learn that the name of this devoted servant of the Lord is said to come from the name Aphrodite, or, in Latin, Venus; who was the goddess of love. Now, if you or I, in our unconverted days, bore such a name as this, I expect we would arrange to change it when we learned to know the love of the true God, and His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. But the remarkable thing is that Epaphroditus did not change his name; nor have we any suggestion that Paul thought he should do so. We have other examples in the Scriptures, as Phoebe (Rom. 16:1), whose name comes from the sun-god; and Nereus, (Rom. 16:15) from an ancient sea-god, and to rule the Mediterranean Sea: but, again, there is no suggestion that they should find other names.

Neither Epaphroditus nor the others used their old names with any consciousness of the idols. They were not under law, and free Grace can take the old name, and set it free from its idolatrous connection. Thankful we should be to God for this, for otherwise we should find ourselves in bondage even as to the days of the week: Monday is "Moon Day": in honour of the moon: Tuesday is from "Tiw", the old god-of-war: Wednesday is from Woden, the god of the ancient Britons: Thursday is from "Thor", the "god-of-thunder", etc. But we are under no such bondage as to be compelled to link up these old evil idols with these names that we use, — and may use, with a good conscience every day. It would be very wrong to accuse our brethren of being linked with idolatry when they use them.

And there are other things in which we may be tempted to judge our brethren: which we esteem to be unclean; but which they can do with an entirely good conscience; so let us give heed to our Lord's admonition: "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. (Rom. 14:13).

Of course the Scriptures also make it perfectly plain that if anyone uses these things with a conscience of the idol, "to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean." "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." "Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth." So, because I by lack of faith, may choose to put myself under law, let me be very careful that I do not condemn my brother for that which he alloweth: which may, indeed, be perfectly clean in the sight of God.

One thing I think we would all do well to remember is that God Himself has given us the name of His own choice, for "The First Day of the Week." In Rev. 1:10, we find it called "The Lord's Day", or, perhaps more exactly, "The Lordly Day;" so there is no excuse for us to call it Sunday, (the Day of the Sun): not that we need have a bad conscience even for that.