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Study Notes on Philippians 2

Philippians 2


1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

The "if" doesn't mean there isn't consolation, comfort, etc. in Christ, but point out the fact that there is. We could understand this as saying since there is consolation, comfort and so on. Since all this things exist and are true, see next verse for Paul request.


2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Paul is writing to a specific congregation, and is making request to help them be unified and of one mind due to a minor issue that church was having (see Philippians 4:2). This is not a verse to every Christian all over the world, that we should put away all doctrine in order to show love.


Because of the comfort of Christ, fellowship of the Spirit, this congregation should be like-minded and unified. A church can have difficulty being unified if there's no doctrine taught, if different bible translations are used, if different standards are followed.


3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

One of the more difficult verses in the bible, not because it's hard to understand but because it's impossible to follow perfectly. Whenever the wicked heresy of "sinless perfection" rears its ugly head, this is a great verse to convict people if they will be honest with themselves.


Specifically within a church, we should esteem or consider others to be better than us. This is the kind of humility we should demonstrate, and is the reverse of our human nature and tendency towards pride.


Romans 12:10, Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.


4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Do not be selfish. Do not be the first one in line for food, make sure others are fed first, give up your seat for others, and so forth. Be concerned with the welfare of others above yourself.


Matthew 20:28, Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.


5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

This is a transitional sentence where Paul refers to what he had just said (let this mind be in you) in verses 2-4, then will show the example of Christ to emphasize his point.


6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Literal books have been written on just these verses 6-9, and great care should be taken when handling them.


To be in the form of God means to be God. Jesus was God with God the Father in eternity past and always will be. However, He did not have a desire to seize or retain (robbery) the same equal level as God with the same glory and worship etc. He emptied Himself in the manner explained by the next verse.


"Christ was equal with God (John 5:18; John 10:30). He did not cling to the outward manifestation of that equality." - TPC


John 17:5, And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.


7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

He put off the outward glory of being God (while still being God), and took the form of a human servant. He didn't even come down as a ruler or governor but as a common servant, the lowest rung of the social ladder.


The whole design and purpose of this passage is not a focus on explaining the Trinity or the deity of Christ (although it does that), but to show that if our God who upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3) was willing to humble Himself in such a drastic way, then we have no excuse for not being humble among each other.


"He was born not in the palace of a king or of royalty, but in the stable of an unclean donkey, laid in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, that He might be the Redeemer and servant of God and man." - Garner-Howes


8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

In fashion as a man means the same condition as a man. Christ became, and remains fully God and fully man. He humbled Himself and demonstrated perfect obedience.


Colossians 2:9, For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.


9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

Because of the voluntary humility of Christ, God the Father has highly exalted Him and raised Him up. And God will reward us as well when we humble ourselves.


James 4:6, But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.


1 Peter 3:22, Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.


Hebrews 2:9, But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.


10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Everyone will bow to Jesus, period. If you will not bow now, you will from hell but salvation will be out of reach.


11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

These two verses quoted from Isaiah 45:23. Everyone will acknowledge Christ as Lord to the Glory of the Father.


Romans 14:11, For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.


12 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.

This verse is commonly quoted by people trying to push a false "works-salvation" idea. But this verse and this chapter have nothing whatsoever to do with how to be saved. This is instructing us to work out (not work for) what we have. We should outwardly express our salvation, we should utilize it, or put it to use.


13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

It is God that works in us to move us to every good work. This is the action of the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer.


14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Do all things without complaining or arguing. Such things disturb the unity within a church.


15 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;

To be blameless doesn't mean perfect but means that we don't give people an opportunity to accuse us of wrongdoing.


Act in this way and you will shine before the wicked world around us. A church should be a beacon.


16 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.

To hold forth means to give or present the word of life and what word gives life but the gospel? Paul desires they continue in the faith and continue telling the world around them about the risen Savior that he may rejoice in his labor for them.


17 Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.

18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

Though Paul is confident he will be released (see 1:25), even if he is martyred for the common faith, he rejoices!


Because we are united in our faith, the Philippian church should rejoice with him. For others it may be a sad thing for a believer to perish, but they are the same moment in the glory of the Lord.


19 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.

Timothy was almost certainly with Paul when the church at Philippi was established (see verse 22 and 1:1), so Paul was hopeful that the Lord would allow Timothy to visit this church and then report to Paul their state.


Do you think Paul was eager to know the state of their wealth and prosperity, or their physical health? Nay, but he was always concerned about their spiritual state praying for their growth in the Lord.


20 For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.

21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.

Timothy was most united with Paul in their mission and there were no others with him that would be willing to journey to the church. You can sense some frustration at the lack of missionary help available, and certainly it would be a rare thing (as it has been through history) to match the zeal of Paul.


22 But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.

Paul honors Timothy greatly, and here as in other places he calls him his son because his preaching had converted him.


1 Timothy 1:2, Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.


23 Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.

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

Whether he sees that he is to be put to death or released, he hopes to send Timothy, and himself soon. Notice in each case of hope or trust he is leaning on the Lord (see 1:25, 2:19).


25 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants.

Ephaphroditus is only mentioned in this epistle, and he was from Philippi who brought aid to Paul and as we read was sick near to death. It is likely he delivered this epistle to the church.


Notice the high praise for him as well as calling him a "fellowsoldier", as the Christian life is warfare.


26 For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

27 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.

God healed him. Notice Paul could not heal him as these modern Pentecostal frauds claim to have the ability to do (for a fee). God spared both, in different ways. Though death is nothing to fear for the believer, the loss of a loved believer is natural to mourn over.


"(1) He would have lost a valued friend, and one whom he esteemed as a brother and worthy fellow-laborer.

(2) He would have felt that the church at Philippi had lost a valuable member.

(3) His grief might have been aggravated from the consideration that his life had been lost in endeavoring to do him good. He would have felt that he was the occasion, though innocent, of his exposure to danger." - Albert Barnes


1 Thessalonians 4:13, But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.


28 I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful.

He was eager and full of care to send him that the Philippians would rejoice at his return.


29 Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:

30 Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

Honor him greatly Paul says. Ephaphroditus was such a dedicated laborer for the Lord, that he put such service far above his own needs. The Philippians were unable to all be with Paul, but their messenger supplied what was needed.


"The Philippians are not blamed. Epaphroditus did that which their absence prevented them from doing. His illness was caused by over-exertion in attending to the apostle's wants, or, it may be, by the hardships of the journey." - TPC



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