The Need of Loving Humility. Phil. 2, 1-4.

V.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, v.2. fulfill ye my joy that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. V.3. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. V.4. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. The apostle had urged the Philippian Christians to stand firm in the common battle and to contend for the great blessings of mercy. To this he adds a new thought: If, now, there be any admonition in Christ, if any urging of love, if any fellowship of spirit, if any sympathy and mercies, fulfill my joy that you share the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord. If, on the one hand, all these things count for anything, if they have any effect, then, on the other hand, the results should show. If on Paul’s side there was admonition in Christ, if he had been active in exhorting them for the sake of Christ, if he had attempted to influence their will, if his urgings upon their mind and heart had been of any value whatever, then the Philippians in turn should be zealous in unanimity and humility. The result should show fellowship of the spirit, sympathy and mercies, tenderness and compassion. The Spirit of God works real, lasting communion among the Christians. Every believer feels the bonds of this communion and is proud to be held by them. And the work of the Spirit yields compassion and mercies, tender love among the Christians, every one taking a merciful, sympathetic interest in the welfare of the others. With these essential conditions present, humility and compassion can reign supreme. Paul has had reasons for rejoicing over the Philippians and their faith and their love. This joy of his they shall now make full, complete, render it a perfect joy, by proving themselves true Christians in all things, especially in this respect, that they love one another in true unanimity of thought. Their harmony should be so complete that they even think the same thing, their thoughts following the same trend, running in the same channel. This harmonious unity finds its expression in various ways. They have the same love, every one loving the other just as he desires to be loved. They are of one mind or soul, they feel and think as though they had a single soul, deferring to the peculiarities in the judgment of others. They think the one thing, having their minds directed toward that one needful fact that should ever be a Christian’s chief consideration, the glory of Christ and the building of His kingdom, assisted by the faithful love of every believer.

To this the apostle adds: Nothing through strife or vainglory, but in humility regarding one another more excellent than yourselves, looking not every one to his own interests, but every one also to those of others. Selfish ambition, which brooks no interference and picks a quarrel at the slightest provocation, which seeks only its own interests and ends, and tries to exalt itself at the expense of others, has no right to exist in the midst of the Christian congregation. The situation must rather be at all times that Christians in and by humility regard one another as superior, as more excellent, that they mutually count others as in every way to be preferred. By the power of this humble-mindedness, which is the chief characteristic of Christians, each one should think little of himself, but much of his fellow-Christian; each one should see in himself mainly his faults and weaknesses, in the other, however, excellencies of every description. Of every single member of the Church it should finally be true that he have no selfish notion of furthering only his own interests, his own welfare, but always that which is good and of benefit to his brother. That is the way in which true Christian harmony may be upheld and furthered. The general experience seems to show that such congregations as have many advanced and well founded members are apt to sin in this respect, that pride takes possession of their hearts, that sinful, overbearing behavior results.

The Example of Christ’s Humility. Phil. 2, 5-11.

Christ’s state of humiliation and its lesson: V.5. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, v.6. who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, v.7. but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; v.8. and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. His admonition to meekness and humility the apostle supports in the most emphatic manner: After this manner think in yourselves that also was in Christ Jesus. The Christians should have this mind, this opinion, concerning themselves, they should let this manner of thinking govern their view of life. As they were ready to make great sacrifices for the sake of Christ. so let them display the same quality in the common concerns of daily business and social intercourse. Jesus, in His work, in His office as Savior of the world, should be continually before their eyes. The mind of Christ should live in the Christians. This is the argument with which the apostle clinches his entire argumentation and admonition. The Christians will be able to follow the entire exhortation of Paul if they always have the example of Christ in their minds.

Now Paul draws his picture of Christ: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God (counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God). Jesus is here represented as the Son of God incarnate, in His capacity as Savior of the world, as man among men, who alone can be an example to men. This man, Jesus Christ, found Himself in the form of God, Mark 16, 12; Phil. 3, 21; Rom. 8, 29; Phil. 3, 10; Rom. 12, 2; 2 Cor. 3, 18; Matt. 17, 12. His form, His external appearance, which, of course, included His nature, was that of God. Only one that has the nature of God, who in His essence is God, will also have divine form. This form of God includes every manner of manifestation of His divinity, everything wherein the divinity is shown, John 1, 14. It is the divine glory and majesty which includes all the divine attributes and qualities, especially His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence. They are a part of God’s essence, they are the divine majesty, the sum total of God’s glory. Thus the eternal Son of God, in His incarnation, found Himself in the form of God, invested with all His glory and majesty. He was not merely clothed with divine form and glory, but He possessed this glory and majesty as His own. He not only stood on the same level with God, He was identical with God. But He did not count it a prize to be on an equality with God. For the sake of saving sinners, Christ regarded the wonderful prize of His divinity, with all its manifestations, lightly. He did not make use of His glory and majesty as a prize or spoil to be held by Him at all costs, even after His incarnation; He did not make a show of the majesty and glory that were His, as a victor might display his spoils. He did not make use of the possessions which His human nature had gained according to vagrant fancies; He did not make a shop of His divinity, merely for the sake of gaining favor and making impressions.

This resolution of Christ found its expression in His life: But emptied Himself, assuming the form of a servant, being made in likeness of men, and in habit found like a man; He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Here the completeness of Christ’s self-renunciation is brought out. He emptied Himself, poured out His contents, though not His substance. He voluntarily gave up something, waived His right, renounced its use for the time being. Not that Jesus, during His earthly ministry, had merely prophetic gifts, as those given by God to the prophets of old. By His own almighty power Jesus performed the great miracles which are recorded of Him. It is true, indeed, that He and the Father are one, and that He received the works from the Father, but it is true, also, that He performed them in His own power. But He voluntarily divested Himself of the unbounded, continual use of His divine majesty. He did not give up the divine nature, but only its unlimited use. He might often have helped Himself, but He chose not to make use of His glory, because He wanted to be the Savior of the world. He deliberately assumed the form of a servant, that was the way in which He emptied Himself. Not that His incarnation was a degradation, a humiliation, but the fact that He became a poor, lowly, humble man, that he took upon Himself the likeness of our sinful flesh and bore the misery of fallen mankind in His body. He seemed altogether like other people of His day and time. The peculiar weaknesses of the flesh He also endured, hunger, thirst, faintness, etc. These are attributes of men in their present sinful condition, weaknesses that are the result of sin. And the fact that He became subject to these natural affections of man shows that He divested Himself of His divine glory, renounced its full and continual use. Thus there is a double nature in Christ, that of God and that of a true human being. He might have come down on earth as a glorified, sinless man, like Adam before the Fall. And there is not only a double nature in Christ, divine and human, but also a double form of being, the form of God and that of a servant, of a poor, lowly human being. These were not successive states, but they were present at the same time in the person of Christ. That was Christ’s condition, an example for all Christians.

The humiliation of Christ proceeded by degrees; the longer He lived, the more thoroughly He emptied Himself, the more completely He was clothed with the form of a servant. He became obedient to death, even the death of the cross. The greatest and most serious ill which sinful flesh is heir to is that of death, since death represents the culmination of all evils caused by sin. Christ’s death was one of an especially cursed nature, that on the cross. In this respect His humiliation went beyond the usual experience of sin-laden human beings. He died a cruel death, not that of a Roman citizen, but that of a base criminal, of a slave. This represents the last, the most abject degree of degradation. But He was willing to undergo all; He put aside, for the time being, the glory which was His, in order to be to the full extent, in the complete meaning of the term, the Savior of the world. He died as one that laid down his life of his own free will. The fact that His death was a willing sacrifice, and for that reason was so valuable, is stressed here. Note: Just as Christ showed Himself a shining example of humility, so the Christians should learn of Him. They should also, for the sake of love for Christ and their brethren, waive their rights, not be over insistent upon their rights, their honor, and their interests. They should learn to suffer also the evil, the wrong which is committed against them, willingly and gladly. Thus will they show the spirit of Christ among themselves and toward one another, thus will they preserve Christian love and harmony, thus will they live as it becometh the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Christ’s state of exaltation: V.9. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, v.10. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth, v.11. and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father. The enthusiasm of the apostle here carries him beyond his original scope, in a triumphant description of Christ’s exaltation: On which account also God has highly exalted Him and given to Him the name, that above every name. Because Christ was of such a mind as described in the preceding verses, because He humbled Himself so freely and willingly, therefore it pleased God to exalt Him. This fact, indeed, does not exclude the other, that Christ exalted Himself. Both facts are stated in Scriptures. This statement, therefore, does not argue for a subjection of the Son below the Father, for a difference in rank within the Godhead. There is no subordination in the Trinity. And yet, God exalted the man Jesus Christ. Christ, according to His human nature, was subject to all consequences of sin, suffering, death, and the grave. But He is now exalted; the days of His humiliation are passed. His human body is now in full possession of the divine glory and majesty which was communicated to Him at the time of the incarnation. He has reassumed the unbounded use of His divine qualities and attributes, He makes use of all power in heaven and earth, He is King in the kingdoms of power and grace and glory. It is the glorified man Jesus Christ who reigns over everything, heavenly and earthly things, and things beneath the earth; His human nature has entered into full and unlimited communion with the divine essence. All this is included in the fact that the good will of God has given Him this name, has secured Him this exaltation, as the Lord Jehovah.

It follows, therefore: in order that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of heavenly and earthly and sub earthly things, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. The name of Christ, formerly despised and spoken with hissing and contempt, is now the reason and occasion of a far different behavior. It is the most supreme. Angels, men, and devils must give to Jesus Christ, the exalted Son of God, free and unequivocal obedience. No name is more highly honored than His. All must bow before Him, all must give Him divine honor. The greatness, sacredness, divinity of the name is the reason, the motive, for the bowing of the knee. The angels of heaven pray to the name of Him that was exalted over everything. And all the inhabitants of the earth feel the greatness of His power and give Him divine honor. The believers do this willingly and gladly, the unbelievers only with a great struggle. But they also, like the devils, whether they want to or not, will some time have to acknowledge and admit that Jesus is the Lord. The very fact that they seem so insistent upon their confession of unbelief shows that they do not consider Christ an insignificant personality, but one of high estate, who must be opposed and fought against with all earnestness. In the end every tongue must and will confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord. It is not merely that they cower before Him in faithful adoration or in impotent rage, it is also that they are obliged to confess. The acknowledgment by means of an external gesture of adoration is followed by a confession of His sovereignty. By this confession all creatures incidentally give all glory to the Father, to God, the ultimate object of all adoration. He that honoreth the Son honoreth the Father. Note: This admonition also has a very close connection with the admonition of this section. Just as Christ, by His voluntary renouncing of the rights and privileges of His Godhead, through His humility, poverty, suffering, obedience, finally obtained heavenly glory and honor, attained to His present exaltation, thus the Christians, if they follow Christ, if they are found to be of the same mind as Christ, mill obtain the heavenly glory and become partakers of Christ’s exaltation. 2)

The Application of the Admonition to True Works of Sanctification. Phil. 2, 12-18.

V.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. V.13. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. V.14. Do all things without murmurings and disputings, v.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, v.16. holding forth the Word of Life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. V.17. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. V.18. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me. The apostle here draws a conclusion and makes a practical application: Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always been obedient, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, with fear and trembling work out your own salvation. In accordance with all these considerations that urge Christians to walk and have their conversation, lead their life, in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they should continue in their obedience as heretofore. Paul gives them the testimony of having been obedient both when he was present with them and when he was absent. And with the full knowledge of this, with a willingness to pursue the course marked out before them also in the future, he urges them to feel the responsibility of their salvation before God. The salvation, complete and ready for all, they should strive after, make it their business to obtain that. It is true, of course, that salvation is not earned by obedience, it is complete and perfect in Christ. But it may so easily be lost through disobedience, and therefore striving after it with fear and trembling, with the consciousness of inherent weakness and of the dreadful power of temptation, is essential in sanctification. There is here no contradiction of chap. 1, 6, where Paul states that he was sure that God would continue the good work to the end. A Christian must be sure that God will give him firmness and confidence and faithfulness, keep him from falling from grace, and he must still be in fear, lest he lose his salvation by his own foolishness. If a Christian looks upon his own flesh, he may well tremble, because it is weak and a willing ally of all enemies; but if a Christian looks to God, he is sure that he will remain in the faith, that he will overcome all the dangers which threaten his faith, that he will finally be victorious over world, flesh, and Satan. This admonition in itself is a means and instrument in the hands of God to keep the Christian in the way of sanctification.

And yet, all depends upon the power of God: For God it is who is working in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure. God works, performs, all good things in His Christians; He urges them on to true obedience. A believer shows his faith by good works. This makes two things necessary, namely, the will to do, the good intention to live as it becometh the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is wrought through the Holy Ghost, and then the carrying out of this intention, the changing of will into performance, so that the doing will be properly and effectually performed. And all this on account of God’s good pleasure, to carry out His own, gracious will. God really wants to find pleasure in the good works of the believers. And He does find it because of the fact that they are of divine kind and nature, and their works flow out of the divine power in them. In order to be pleased with the works of Christians, He Himself works the good things in them. God gives and donates the will to do good; the regenerated will of man, in the power of God, wills and performs the good thing. The regenerated will of man is controlled, governed, and directed by the will of God. So the believers dare not lose God’s assistance in sanctification.

The apostle mentions one point in which their sanctification may find expression: Do everything without murmurings and hesitations. The Christians of Philippi, like the believers of all ages, should do the will of God in all things, do all that God expects of them, even when the flesh is not pleased with it, even when questionings and criticisms want to arise in their hearts. There should be no bickerings and questionings whether this or that is really necessary, whether it is necessary to be so strict in observing the Word of God, whether it really is the Christian’s duty to take part in all the enterprises of the Church. The ideal condition of mind is that which simply, sincerely does what is needed.

The result of such behavior is: That you may be irreprehensible and innocent, guiltless children of God in the midst of an iniquitous and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding up the Word of Life to a glorification for me upon the day of Christ, that I may not have run in vain or labored in vain. The goal of sanctification cannot be reached at one step, it must be reached by a gradual process. Christians must strive more and more to show and prove themselves irreprehensible, without reproof. In the midst of a world steeped in every form of sin and shame they must guard against all contamination, not only to be without reproach on the part of others, but actually innocent of wrong-doing, able to meet all criticism as unjust aspersion. Christians should avoid all offense and be guiltless in this world. There should be a plain and unmistakable distinction between the Christians and the children of this world. They should stand out from the unbelievers, as the light stands out from the surrounding darkness. The entire life of the believers will offer a splendid contrast to all works of darkness and will be a constant reproof to wrong-doers. But not only are the Christians to shine as lights in their good works, in obedience to the will of their heavenly Father and in all subsequent works of faith, but they are also to be the torch-bearers of the Word of Life. The Christians should present to the world, extend before the eyes of the children of this world, the Word of Salvation for their acceptance, that it may serve to enlighten them also unto eternal life. This they do through the works of the divine life in them. Their entire behavior before the world will be a sermon in words and deeds. Their entire life will show what the Word of God is able to accomplish. The mere existence of believers in this world is a missionary factor. And all this, in turn, redounds to the honor of the apostle on the great day of Jesus Christ, the Day of Judgment. He wanted to be able to point to the Christians of Philippi with pride, as a result of his missionary efforts in Christ Jesus. It would show that his efforts had been crowned with success, for the Philippians would present visible, tangible evidence. Note: The Christians of our day may well keep this word in mind in their relation to their pastors, that they may be a credit to the teaching which they have received, both here in time and on the great day of Jesus Christ.

To impress this last fact upon his readers, the apostle adds: But if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice, and rejoice with you all; in the same way also you rejoice, and rejoice with me. In and by his imprisonment Paul was being poured out like a drink-offering. But at the same time he was offering a sacrifice, a twofold sacrifice. The first sacrifice is that of the Christians’ faith. He had succeeded in working faith in their hearts and in strengthening this faith to the present state of growth in sanctification. That was a pleasing sacrifice in the sight of God. The consequence was that the Philippians were now living a sacrifice in service, a true ministry. The apostle assumes that he himself will be offered upon his sacrifice. He may suffer the death of a martyr because of his preaching the Gospel. He knows that he will soon be liberated from the present imprisonment, but that merely places his martyr’s death at a somewhat greater distance. The final disposition of his body is even now pretty sure: martyrdom looms up before him. But even should this take place very soon, it cannot hinder the fruits of his labor. He has cause for rejoicing at the faith and Christian life of the Philippians, he is happy in the thought of what has been accomplished. And in the same way his readers should rejoice in their faith, and rejoice with him, as it behooves good Christians, in the love of Christ.

Recommendation of Timothy and Epaphroditus. Phil. 2, 19-30.

Paul’s reason and object in sending Timothy: V.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. V.20. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. V.21. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. V.22. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the Gospel. V.23. Him, therefore, I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me. V.24. But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly. The entire paragraph is concerned with personal matters, as if Paul were hurrying to a close. His recommendation of Timothy shows the intimacy of the feeling between these two men, a cordial relation which the difference in age in no way affected: but I hope in the Lord Jesus quickly to send Timothy to you, in order that I may be refreshed in spirit, knowing your circumstances. Paul had the hope to God and his Lord Jesus that he might soon be able to send Timothy. He proves his communion with God by placing the entire course of his life in God’s hands. Whatever God has ordained with regard to him he is willing to accept without grumbling. Yet his hope in this instance is all the more fervent because he wishes to be refreshed, to have his heart and spirit strengthened by receiving information regarding their state; their spiritual and physical welfare is a matter of deep concern to him. Timothy would return in a short time with news from the Philippians, and this, he hoped, would be of a nature to satisfy his heart. His reason for choosing Timothy for this mission he states: For I have none of the same mind who sincerely is anxious about your circumstances; all seek their own, not that of Jesus Christ. Timothy was equal-souled with Paul, and therefore felt the same pure, cordial interest in the Philippians as his teacher, since he was just as anxiously concerned about the work of Christ. Timothy’s solicitude for the Philippians was genuine, sincere, just as Paul’s was. Of the others, however, of the great majority, Paul was constrained to say that they had nothing of this unselfish devotion, that they, the members of this group, were all seeking their own ends, being interested only in promoting their selfish ambitions. That is a hard criticism and judgment. Paul does not say that these men deliberately and maliciously pervert the work of the Gospel, but they have some selfish motive; they are in danger of losing faith and a good conscience. This is true at all times and should prove a spur to all pastors to become free from all selfish motives and interests and to serve their Master, Christ, in singleness of heart.

To the Philippians Timothy was no unknown man: But his proof you know, for as a son to a, or his, father he has served with me in the Gospel. This man, therefore, I hope to send at once, when I see clearly how things will fare with me. The Christians of Philippi had had ample opportunity of observing Timothy and of judging his motives, the state of his mind and heart; they knew his approvedness. They knew that he had served by the side of the great apostle in the ministry of the Gospel as a loving son serves his father. This man, therefore, surely would be especially welcome to them, Paul intended to send him quickly, just as soon as he had definite information as to his own fate, how matters would turn out with regard to him. The decision of the imperial court might be expected any day, and the sending of Timothy would take place immediately thereafter, And Paul is expecting still more: I trust, however, in the Lord that I myself may come quickly. That firm confidence he has in the Lord that he will be able to come in person. He wants to follow Timothy just as soon as certain matters in Rome will have been disposed of. He wants to follow up his letter by a personal visit. Note that Paul always places the disposition of his life with all its vicissitudes into the hands of God, in childlike trust.

The return of Epaphroditus to Philippi: V.25. Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and companion in labor and fellow-soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. V.26. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. V.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. V.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, V.29. Receive him, therefore, in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such in reputation; v.30. because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me. It may be that Timothy made the journey to Philippi with Epaphroditus; but, however that may be, the latter left immediately after the writing of this letter and acted as its bearer. So Paul includes a recommendation and admonition with regard to this messenger of the Philippian congregation: But I believed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, the brother and coworker and fellow-soldier, but your apostle and the minister of my want. He is Paul’s brother in Christ, a son of the same Father in heaven through the redemption gained by Christ; he is his coworker, he had labored by the side of the apostle, he had continued the work of the apostle in Philippi; he is his fellow-soldier, he fought as a soldier of Christ in the same ranks. And the Philippians should regard Epaphras (abbreviated form of Epaphroditus) as their apostle, who not only had taught them in the past, but was now again returning to their midst as Paul’s representative. Thus Paul repaid some of the kindness which they had shown him when they sent Epaphras as the minister of Paul’s wants, with substantial aid for the apostle’s needs.

To send this man at this time had seemed especially necessary to Paul, because he was yearning, he was in a state of longing, of homesickness for the brethren at Philippi; his love desired to see them and to be with them. This longing of Epaphroditus was increased by the fact that he was also troubled, being in sore anguish of mind because the report had been brought to Philippi that he had been sick. Either on the way to Rome or in Rome the messenger of the Philippian congregation had been taken ill, and, as Paul writes, indeed he had been badly ill, so severely sick that he had been in danger of death, his life had been almost despaired of. But God had had mercy on him, He had changed the course of his sickness and had brought him back to life and health. In doing so, however, God had had mercy also on the apostle, who would have been deeply grieved, thrown into mourning, bereaved of a faithful coworker: it would have resulted in bringing one sorrow after another upon him. God had spared him at least this sorrowful experience. All the more quickly Paul was now sending him to Philippi, partly because there was danger of a relapse (the sickness may have been malaria), partly in order that the solicitous anxiety of the Philippians might be alleviated.

In order to show his high regard for Epaphroditus, and in order to impress upon the Philippians the proper regard which they should have toward their ministers in the Lord, Paul here gives Epaphroditus a very cordial recommendation. They should receive him in the Lord with all joy. It was to be not only the rejoicing of a friend on account of a dear friend, but also the cordial reception of a servant of Christ. For the sake of the Lord in whose service he is working, for the sake of the Gospel which he is preaching, they should give him a hearty welcome. This includes, incidentally, the full and unequivocal acceptance of the Word which is proclaimed by the servant of Christ. And the same applies in the case of all such as preach the Gospel, as are true servants of Christ. Those elders should be counted worthy of double honor that labor in the Word and doctrine. As for Epaphroditus, Paul says that he risked his very life, he drew near, up to death, hazarding his life, for the Gospel. The fevers that were prevalent in Rome, due to malaria borne by mosquitoes from the near-by swamps, ravaged the populace, but were still more dangerous for visitors that had had no opportunity to become at least partially immune. The service of Epaphroditus had been very valuable to Paul. And this fact should find due acknowledgment also from the Philippian Christians. While in their service, while engaged in bringing gifts to Paul, he was, in their absence, fulfilling the service which they owed to the apostle. Since the entire congregation could not come, he, as their representative, took the place of them all and ministered to the wants of the great teacher in his imprisonment. The gifts and good wishes of the Philippians were supplemented by the personal comfort and service of Epaphroditus in Rome. This they should always remember, and receive him accordingly. Note: Throughout this passage the intimate and cordial relationship among the early Christians is brought out most beautifully; a fine example in view of the callousness and indifference prevalent at the present time.

Summary. The apostle urges the need of loving humility from the example of Christ’s voluntary humiliation; he exhorts to true works of sanctification; he includes a very cordial recommendation of Timothy and Epaphroditus.