Philippians 2 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Philippians 2)

Verse 1

[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,

If there be therefore any consolation — In the grace of Christ.

If any comfort — In the love of God. If any fellowship of the Holy Ghost; if any bowels of mercies - Resulting therefrom; any tender affection towards each other.

Verse 2

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

Think the same thing — Seeing Christ is your common Head.

Having the same love — To God, your common Father.

Being of one soul — Animated with the same affections and tempers, as ye have all drank ill to one spirit.

Of one mind — Tenderly rejoicing and grieving together.

Verse 3

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

Do nothing through contention — Which is inconsistent with your thinking the same thing.

Or vainglory — Desire of praise, which is directly opposite to the love of God.

But esteem each the others better than themselves — (For every one knows more evil of himself than he can of another:) Which is a glorious fruit of the Spirit, and an admirable help to your continuing "of one soul."

Verse 4

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

Aim not every one at his own things — Only. If so, ye have not bowels of mercies.

Verse 6

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

Who being in the essential form — The incommunicable nature.

Of God — From eternity, as he was afterward in the form of man; real God, as real man.

Counted it no act of robbery — That is the precise meaning of the words,-no invasion of another's prerogative, but his own strict and unquestionable right.

To be equal with God — the word here translated equal, occurs in the adjective form five or six times in the New Testament, Revelation 21:16. In all which places it expresses not a bare resemblance, but a real and proper equalitg. It here implies both the fulness and the supreme height of the Godhead; to which are opposed, he emptied and he humbled himself.

Verse 7

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

Yet — He was so far from tenaciously insisting upon, that he willingly relinquished, his claim. He was content to forego the glories of the Creator, and to appear in the form of a creature; nay, to he made in the likeness of the fallen creatures; and not only to share the disgrace, but to suffer the punishment, due to the meanest and vilest among them all.

He emptied himself — Of that divine fulness, which he received again at his exaltation. Though he remained full, John 1:14, yet he appeared as if he had been empty; for he veiled his fulness from the sight of men and angels. Yea, he not only veiled, but, in some sense, renounced, the glory which he had before the world began.

Taking — And by that very act emptying himself.

The form of a servant — The form, the likeness, the fashion, though not exactly the same, are yet nearly related to each other. The form expresses something absolute; the likeness refers to other things of the same kind; the fashion respects what appears to sight and sense.

Being made in the likeness of men — A real man, like other men. Hereby he took the form of a servant.

Verse 8

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

And being found in fashion as a man — A common man, without any peculiar excellence or comeliness.

He humbled himself — To a still greater depth.

Becoming obedient — To God, though equal with him.

Even unto death — The greatest instance both of humiliation and obedience.

Yea, the death of the cross — Inflicted on few but servants or slaves.

Verse 9

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

Wherefore — Because of his voluntary humiliation and obedience. He humbled himself; but God hath exalted him - So recompensing his humiliation.

And hath given him — So recompensing his emptying himself.

A name which is above every name — Dignity and majesty superior to every creature.

Verse 10

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

That every knee — That divine honour might be paid in every possible manner by every creature.

Might bow — Either with love or trembling.

Of those in heaven, earth, under the earth — That is, through the whole universe.

Verse 11

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

And every tongue — Even of his enemies.

Confess that Jesus Christ is Lord — Jehovah; not now "in the form of a servant," but enthroned in the glory of God the Father.

Verse 12

[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.

Wherefore — Having proposed Christ's example, he exhorts them to secure the salvation which Christ has purchased.

As ye have always — Hitherto.

Obeyed — Both God, and me his minister.

Now in my absence — When ye have not me to instruct, assist, and direct you.

Work out your own salvation — Herein let every man aim at his own things.

With fear and trembling — With the utmost care and diligence.

Verse 13

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

For it is God — God alone, who is with you, though I am not.

That worketh in you according to his good pleasure — Not for any merit of yours. Yet his influences are not to supersede, but to encourage, our own efforts.

Work out your own salvation — Here is our duty.

For it is God that worketh in you — Here is our encouragement. And O, what a glorious encouragement, to have the arm of Omnipotence stretched out for our support and our succour!

Verse 14

[14] Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Do all things — Not only without contention, Philippians 2:3, but even without murmurings and disputings - Which are real, though smaller, hinderances of love.

Verse 15

[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;

That ye may be blameless — Before men.

And simple — Before God, aiming at him alone.

As the sons of God — The God of love; acting up to your high character.

Unrebukable in the midst of a crooked — Guileful, serpentine, and perverse generation - Such as the bulk of mankind always were.

Crooked — By a corrupt nature, and yet more perverse by custom and practice.

Verse 17

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

Here he begins to treat of the latter clause of Philippians 1:22.

Yea, and if I be offered — Literally, If I be poured out.

Upon the sacrifice of your faith — The Philippians, as the other converted heathens, were a sacrifice to God through St. Paul's ministry, Romans 15:16. And as in sacrificing, wine was poured at the foot of the altar, so he was willing that his blood should be poured out. The expression well agrees with that kind of martyrdom by which he was afterwards offered up to God.

Verse 18

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

Congratulate me — When I am offered up.

Verse 19

[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.

When I know — Upon my return, that ye stand steadfast.

Verse 20

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

I have none — Of those who are now with me.

Verse 21

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

For all — But Timotheus.

Seek their own — Ease, safety, pleasure, or profit. Amazing! In that golden age of the church, could St. Paul throughly approve of one only, among all the labourers that were with him? Philippians 1:14,17. And how many do we think can now approve themselves to God? Not the things of Jesus Christ - They who seek these alone, will sadly experience this. They will find few helpers likeminded with themselves, willing naked to follow a naked Master.

Verse 22

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

As a son with his father — He uses an elegant peculiarity of phrase, speaking partly as of a son, partly as of a fellowlabourer.

Verse 25

[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.

To send Epaphroditus — Back immediately.

Your messenger — The Philippians had sent him to St. Paul with their liberal contribution.

Verse 26

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

He was full of heaviness — Because he supposed you would be afflicted at hearing that he was sick.

Verse 27

[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 had compassion on him — Restoring him to health.

Verse 28

[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.

That I may be the less sorrowful — When I know you are rejoicing.

Verse 30

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

To supply your deficiency of service — To do what you could not do in person.